Today is 11/11/11! And if you pay attention, twice today it will be 11/11/11/11:11:11! This happens only once every one hundred years, when the TWO numbers are all the same! It’s an exciting day, isn’t it? (BTW, Jane Austen would have been just one month shy of 36 when it occurred 200 years ago!
Well it’s an exciting day for me for another reason, as it is Launch Day for Pemberley Celebrations: The First Year!
Yes, I am celebrating a new book, but it is very different from my others. First of all, it’s not a novel, but a compilation of short holiday stories. You might be saying to yourself, Not another book of Christmas stories! I’ll respond to that with a definitive “Yes” and “No!”
This is a book of holiday stories in the Darcys’ first year of marriage. So, since they were married before Christmas, I have begun the book with Christmas stories (4 of them, in fact!). But then we follow them through the year with New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Easter, May Day, Midsummer’s Day, Michaelmas, All Hallows’ Eve, A Birthday, and finally, A First Anniversary (and don’t worry, there are 2 birthdays celebrated, but the other is associated with another holiday).
Some of the stories are just sweet stories (in fact, you’d probably say there is very little angst in the Christmas stories – after all, they are just newlyweds). But difficulties eventually do come their way, whether it’s in dealings with other family members, acquaintances, or simply circumstances.
I began writing most of these stories ten years ago as I was working on one of my earlier books. I posted the stories online throughout the year as the holidays came around.
When I broke my ankle earlier this summer and had some time on my hands (because I was off my feet!), I decided to go ahead and clean these stories up, write a few more, and self-publish it. I hope you will enjoy it, whether you read it all at once or read each story at the appropriate time of the year.
Self-publishing gives me the opportunity to be more hands-on with the book. I enjoyed making the cover from a photograph of a friend’s daughter who had gone to England. When I saw her photo of the four paned window, I knew that had to be part of my cover! Each pane, of course, shows the grounds of Pemberley in a different season.
The other thing I enjoyed was making the silhouettes of Elizabeth and Darcy. I started with a big black oval and cut away, added to it, hit ‘undo’ several times, over and over, until I was happy with them. Some of you may remember that I have a bookcase which has all my Austen-related items on it, including something special from each of my books. For Pemberley Celebrations I have a little double frame that has their silhouettes in it.
Last Halloween I posted a link to my All Hallows Eve story from this book. This year, since it is November, and I have chosen that to be the month of Mr. Darcy’s birthday, I have included a segment from that story. Here, Elizabeth has received a letter and has gone to tell her husband about it.
“It is from Charlotte Collins.”
Suddenly the expression on Darcy’s face changed, and she saw him begin nervously tapping his fingers against the table. A forced smile then presented itself and he said, “Charlotte Collins? She is well, I hope. And her family?”
“Yes, it appears they are all well. She writes that they are planning to travel north to visit some of Mr. Collins’s family.”
Darcy eyed his wife suspiciously. “How far north?”
“Manchester. Fitzwilliam, she has asked if they can stop and spend a night here on their journey north.”
Darcy rolled his head back and closed his eyes. He brought one hand up and combed it through his hair, stopping mid-way through as he brought his head back down. The sigh he let out was now one of frustration.
“Do they have to stop here?”
Elizabeth tilted her head at her husband and patiently smiled. “Pemberley is directly on their way. We really cannot refuse them, my dear.” She stood up again and walked over to his side. “Charlotte is a dear friend, and I have not seen her for over eight months.”
Darcy continued to look straight ahead as Elizabeth continued. “And Mr. Collins is not only my cousin, but your aunt’s clergyman. There is every reason to invite them to be guests at Pemberley.”
He turned to look at her. “But Elizabeth, you may have our child any time now. The last thing I want is to put any undue stress on you, and I think a visit from them might do just that.”
Elizabeth’s eyes twinkled as she pushed herself from the chair and returned to his side. “On you, perhaps it will put undue stress, but certainly not on me! I enjoy Charlotte’s company, and Mr. Collins certainly can be endured for one night! For me, please?” She wrapped both of her arms around Darcy’s head as she leaned in as close as her full midriff would allow. “Besides, dear, I do not think you aunt would be pleased to hear that we turned down a request from her favourite clergyman and her nearest neighbours, do you?”
Darcy rolled his eyes and shook his head. “If it must be so, it must be so. But unfortunately… or fortunately… I shall be away that night.”
Elizabeth laughed. “Away? I thought all of your travelling was behind you so you would be here when the baby comes!”
“Something just came up.”
“When must you travel?”
Darcy looked at his wife sheepishly. “When are they due to arrive?”
Elizabeth shook her head and pointed her finger at her husband. “Fitzwilliam Darcy, you have no scheduled work that will take you away from Pemberley any time in the next month! I shall write the Collinses directly and let them know that we shall have a room ready for them, and we are looking forward to their visit!”
“Very well, but please do not sound too enthusiastic. They may believe we are so anxious to see them that they will extend their visit more than just one night!”
“I will try to keep it as impassive as I can, dear.”
“By the way, when are they coming?”
“Thursday, a week,” Elizabeth answered meekly. “The day before your birthday.”
“Splendid!” Darcy clapped his hands together in mock delight. “Then on Friday we shall have to ask them to stay to celebrate my birthday with me. What a pleasant gift that will be!”
Is there any possible way Darcy will enjoy his birthday with Mr. and Mrs. Collins there? You’ll have to read the story to find out!
As usual, I will be giving away a copy of Pemberley Celebrations: The First Year here at Austen Authors. Just leave a comment (with your email address, of course) to be entered (following guidelines in the Giveaway tab at the top). This is open to US and Canada only. I will also be giving away 2 copies at my blog. There, I will have it open to one international winner. You have through next Thursday, November 17, to post a comment to qualify. I will announce the winner on Sunday, November 20. Good luck!