Making Plans + Story + Giveaway

Making Plans + Story + Giveaway

It’s that time of year — January — when the pages of life are once again fresh and new just waiting to be written upon. Many people use this turning of the calendar year to look back on what they have done and forward to what they hope to accomplish. Some make resolutions, while others, like me, make plans.

January is the time of year when I like to consider what I want to accomplish within the next year; however, planning is not an activity that is unique to January for me. In fact, I make writing plans on a monthly and weekly basis.

Part of my productivity wall — these are the little calendars for the first ninety days of the year.

On my wall, above my desk, I have three small monthly calendars on and under which I list my writing/editing projects that are to happen in each month.  As a month concludes, I remove the old month and add in a new month, shifting everything over.  Next to that, I have what I call my “big rocks” chart.

Have you ever heard the illustration using a jar and rocks, pebbles, and sand? Well, if you do not fill the jar with the big rocks first, you will not be able to get them in after the sand and/or pebbles have been placed in the jar. The big rocks on my chart are five categories that I believe to be vital to running my author business.  (The items listed under each heading are smaller items that build the category.)

I will list my five big rock categories below with a few notes about what I hope to accomplish in 2017.

  1. Admin: (“boring” bits of business — keeping and organizing receipts, paying bills, keeping track of memberships, and the like)
  • This year, my goal for this category is to do a better job organizing my receipts each month instead of waiting to do it in January.
  1. My small productivity checklists that I use to keep myself accountable to my goals.

    Recharge (books, art, music, movies, anything that refills the creative well)

  • My goal this year is to not ignore this or treat it as frivolous as I am wont to do at times.
  1. Audience: (social media, forums, my blog, Austen Authors, my newsletter — places where I can interact with people who might read my books; this area also involves creating pretty graphics to share)
  • I have one thing planned for this category, but I will explain that below.
  1. Learning: (learning about writing and business, researching, reading genre books and Jane Austen Novels)
  • You may wonder why I put genre books here rather than under recharge. Well, they actually cross categories, but when I read for this category, I study the book, attempting to understand what it is about a particular book that has captured my attention. There are books that I read this last year upwards of five times just looking at the way action moved forward quickly, how description made me feel like I was there, and how the author made me love the characters.  This is not just pleasure reading — although it is indeed pleasurable!
  • I love sticky notes. These sticky note pages are story planning sheets from some time ago.

    I do a very similar thing when reading Jane Austen’s novels.  I take my time and pause to think about why a character might be the way he or she is or what was happening during that casually mentioned period of time that happened between scenes.  I also ask questions like what if the events happened differently?

  • I plan to read Sense and Sensibility this year. Yes, I have only slotted one book for the year. I may end up reading more, but this is the one I wish to spend time with over the year.
  • I was curious about which Jane Austen Novels others might be reading this year and posted a poll on Austen Author’s Facebook Group. I was happy to see so many people planning to read Miss Auten’s novels! Below are the results.

47 people plan to read Pride and Prejudice this year

28 people will be reading Persuasion

13 people will be reading Sense and Sensibility like me

9 people will be reading Northanger Abbey

9 people will be reading Mansfield Park (One of my very favourites and one that I am certain to not be able to resist reading at least in part this year — even if it is not planned)

8 people plan to take on Emma in 2017

7 people will be enjoying the scheming of Lady Susan

1 person will be reading Juvenalia

and 1 person will be reading Sanditon

  1. Product Production:  (all the fun stuff involved with making a book ready for publication)
  • My 2017 goal is to publish six to eight books.
  • I am also planning to take a step into some new writing areas.  I hope to eventually write at least one Austenesque story (of whatever length) for each of Jane Austen’s novels. I would also like to put together another Teatime Tales collection of short stories, but this time, I would like them to be Austen-inspired original fairy tales (in other words, not fairy tale retellings but my own creations using standard fairy tale elements). A sample original fairy tale that I wrote a couple years ago can be found on the Writer’s Block Forum.
Click the graphic to read on the Writer's Block Forum.
Click the graphic to read on the Writer’s Block Forum.

These two things kind of terrify me (as most new things do at first), and I would really like some help. So this brings me to the audience thing that I mentioned earlier.

  • First, I am going to ask a couple of questions below that I would love to have answered in the comments.  Second, I have created a private Facebook group called Leenie’s Sweeties. It is for those who are fans of my books and would like to help promote them.  But it is also a place where I plan to have discussions regarding the creation of these new Austenesque and fairy tale stories. If you would like to be part of this group, click the graphic below to be taken to the group page.
Click the picture to go to Leenie's Sweeties Facebook Group
Click the picture to go to Leenie’s Sweeties Facebook Group

Now for those questions I mentioned.  Pick a Jane Austen book with which you are familiar (maybe it is one you read last year or one you are planning to reread this year). Next, consider the following questions and write an answer to one or both in the comment thread.

  1. If this story element was missing from a story that claimed to be an Austenesque adaptation of the Jane Austen novel you are thinking about, you would cry foul and chuck the book into the “just a regular story” pile. In other words, what particular story element is essential for a story to claim Austenesque status? When responding, please indicate the Jane Austen novel upon which your answer is based.
  2. If asked to choose a character from the Jane Austen novel you are thinking about to star in a fairy tale, which character would you pick and what would you think his/her story line should be? (For example: what do they need to learn, what do they need to be happy, how are they deserving of true love, etc.) You may choose more than one character if you wish, but again, please indicate the novel upon which your answer is based.

Would you like to possibly earn a reward for your answer(s)? Then make sure you use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for your chance to win one of two JT Originals Austen Men in Film Plus Two calendars (for making plans and finding inspiration).

Contest is open internationally and closes at 11:59 PM EST on January 20, 2016.

Entries MUST be submitted through Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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38 Responses to Making Plans + Story + Giveaway

  1. When I think about Pride & Prejudice I think about a happily ever after for Darcy and Elizabeth. The other characters can be tweaked and I don’t mind a personality change on occasion. Jane can end up with someone else if it’s done well and I kind of like when some crazy thing happens and Caroline ends up mistakenly engaged to Collins or Wickham or someone equally ridiculous. When I think of Persuasion or Emma I, once again, simply need for the main characters to end up together with a little angst (or a lot of angst) along the way. Tweaking with the peripheral characters works well for me. If I wanted an identical story I’d just keep re-reading the original – there’s always something new to learn from the original I find.

    As for the second question, I think Lydia from Pride and Prejudice could fit into the fairy tale category rather easily. She needs to learn an important lesson on manners and it seems like something that could happen in a short story. Kitty could also benefit from a lesson on not following blindly which I think could also fit a fairy tale. I do enjoy characters in Jane Austen fiction learning lessons and not falling into the same traps they did in the original

    • I agree that there seems to be something new to learn on each successive reading of a Jane Austen book. I love rereading them. 🙂 I haven’t been able to do an alternate pairing for Jane yet — not sure if I will be able to do one. I have read stories where it has been done and they were good but something just felt off to me about it. Guess I am just set in my ways there. 🙂 I am not a great lover of angst — depending on the sort of angst. Relationship angst like will they won’t they, no one actually listens or considers the other person kind of drives me crazy and leaves me wanting to lock the characters in the room and give them a lecture. 🙂 But some trouble to overcome is not bad.

      Lydia is always fun to play with IMO, and Kitty could be fun as well. It might also be fun to teach Caroline a lesson or two about being nice and humble. 😉

  2. I am a JAFF fan. I particularly like Pride and Prejudice variations but I do not like it when a character has a totally different personality. For example, Caroline Bingley must remain catty towards Elizabeth. It is hard to accept them being friends.

    • I think I could see Caroline being a frenemy but a true friend…well, it would take some work to convincingly change her, I think. (I have considered it. 🙂 ) It is boiling down the character description to those vital personality traits that I find is important. For instance, in the story I am just completing, I played with Lydia’s character. I kept her immature and spontaneous and illogical to an extent but I also blended in an untapped and untrained intelligence with some jealousy of her sisters and longing to be accepted. So I tried to keep her core the same but then I worked with it from there.

  3. Interesting questions. For me the characters need to be the way Jane intended. They are the basis of the story.

    • I agree on keeping characters as intended with maybe a small tweak or two for some. But what do you see as how Jane intended them? I think that is where some people find differing interpretations.

  4. I like most Pride and Prejudice variations, but the ones where the author changes one thing in the story and changes it completely are my favorites.

  5. Very good questions! But like others have said, I need the characters to be the same in essentials regardless of time period…though I do prefer the Regency period for my stories. For me, I would love to see a fairy tale on Kitty. She is shadow to Lydia and has to give up so much to her. She reminds me of the ‘Ugly Duckling’, though it is not in looks per se, with a mix of Cinderella.

    I too enjoyed the fairy tale on Lydia. I also loved the Celtic music selection you had on your website. Then there was your chapters on Lydia’s story! I’m hooked!

    • Oh, isn’t that music wonderful? I have it on right now actually as I am avoiding editing what will be the second to last chapter of Lydia’s story. This one needs about 700 to 1000 words added to it to round it out and I am procrastinating on making a decision. 🙂

      Ugly Duckling could work for the least pretty…Mary, but yeah, I get the concept with Kitty always being overshadowed by Lydia. I really need to think about Kitty more…and Jane, I really have not done enough with her either. Like you I prefer the regency era for stories, and I agree on the essentials of the characters being there regardless of the time period. I know how I see those essentials, but I often wonder if others see them the same way.

  6. I would like a fairytale story for Charles Bingham since he suits one perfectly. His personality, charm and life would be wonderful to view from another perspective.

  7. Interesting questions. The only thing I ask for in a JA variation is that the characters stay very true to the way Austen wrote them. That and a head make me happy. The novel I’m referring to is Pride and Prejudice, my favorite. 🙂
    I’d like to see Mary from P&P star in her own fairy tale. She needs to be thrown into a situation completely out of her comfort zone, and she needs to experience life instead of sermonizing about others.

    • You know I like playing with Mary’s character 🙂 — wonder what situation she could be in? Oh, you know how there are some stories where whatever is spoken comes to be….wonder if there could be some sort of story like that with Mary in it? You’ve got me thinking 😉

  8. Using all the Austen novels, I want the books to have the same lessons. If D & E don’t realize they are proud and prejudiced, it’s not P&P; if Emma doesn’t realize that she is manipulating a bit and that she actually loves her friend, it’s not Emma. If Anne isn’t persuaded to give up the love of her life and if he isn’t slightly bitter and jaded before they learn to love again, it’s not Persuasion etc etc. Yes, I love modified versions and the incredible originality that JAFF authors come up with, but to resemble the originals at ALL, it at least needs to represent the basic premise of the novel IMO. Alternate pairings of other characters are fun but the primaries still need to find their way to each other.

    For fairy tale…I think Elinor from S&S needs one terribly. She spends the entire book trying to keep her family from spending their last dime and winding up in the hedgerows all the while holding her shattered heart together with air spun thread.

    • I think for an Austenesque novel which has original characters but pays homage to Austen’s plots and characters I would definitely agree that it has to keep those basics. I am rather firm in my belief of staying true to the core character values of a character in JAFF versions as well as Austenesque stories. As far as alternate pairings go…I have seen some that I have been able to “accept” but I kind of feel in my heart that what Jane put together let no author tear asunder 🙂 I tend to think that Miss Austen knew what she was doing pairing up her characters. (Although there are a few minor characters that I don’t mind seeing handled differently like Charlotte and Lydia and Collins and Wickham from P&P)

      Elinor could be a fun character to put in a story. You said air spun thread, and I immediately thought of Rumpelstiltskin. 🙂

      • I still deeply wish that SOMEONE would find a way to put Elinor and Col. Brandon together, just once. LOL Yes, that’s messing with the primaries, but that’s the one pairing I think Jane got wrong (well accompanied by Edward and Marianne). LOL

        • Oh, I could see that pairing since he is a good guy, but I’m not sure if I could do it or not. (However, Marianne could not be given to Willoughby. At least not without some serious improvements to his character.) 🙂

  9. I’m so excited to see how many new books you plan to write this year! I love reading your sweet stories. On to your questions. #1: For me, one of the main components of a Jane Austen novel is the element of “proof of love.” When I think of Darcy and Elizabeth’s great romance, I think of the way Darcy won her by proving his love for her. His first declaration with mere words ended disastrously, so he went back to square one and tried again with “show don’t tell.” He was willing to change every element of his life in order to show how much he loved her, from accepting her family, to bearing the scorn of his relatives, to trying to fix the harm caused by Lydia’s actions. That “proof of love” is also true of Colonel Brandon and his love for Marianne; and Mr. Knightely’s love for Emma. For me, their patience and constancy until the object of their affections comes around, played a big part in building the romance of the stories. Question #2: Never thought of this question before, but now that you ask … what about Lady Catherine DeBourgh as an evil queen? Sort of Rosings meets Wicked. What’s her back story? How did she become so arrogant and controlling? How did her side of the family divert so drastically from Darcy’s side? How is it that he was redeemable and she was not?

    • Oh, thanks, I am glad you enjoy them!

      “Proof of Love” love that! That is also what I like about Jane Austen’s love stories — the love is not superficial. There is patience and work involved in many of the situations — it is more than infatuation and it is based on more than just looks or even position/wealth.

      Oh, Lady C would make a great evil queen. Question is, do we let her be a redeemed queen or do we squash her and allow her to meet an appropriately hideous fate?

  10. For me in Pride and Prejudice Wickham has to be the bad guy. I am not bothered if Darcy and Elizabeth are not in the story, or even if they are not given a happy ending. (I dislike Mary and Collins together).
    I would give Mary Bennet a fairy tale story as she does need to lighten up somewhat.

    • We are alike there! I don’t mind a story that does not have Darcy and Elizabeth in it either. 🙂 And, Mary and Collins is not a favorite of mine — although I do have one started where they are to get together and she did end up with him in For Peace of Mind, I preferred who she ended up with in No Other Choice precisely because he would force her to lighten up. So a fairy tale with her in it would be pleasurable to write. (I actually did do a non-original tale which is a take on Cinderella but with a twist for Mary a couple of years ago but did not share it here because I want to edit it a bit first)

  11. For me, if I’m reading an Austenesque novel that’s supposed to be some sort of play on P&P, I am okay with a lot of originality in the story line so long as the characters resemble Darcy and Elizabeth to me. It’s the characterization that’s most important to me when it comes to these novels, and that they learn similar lessons about themsevles and each other over the course of the story.

  12. I think the term “Austenesque” is used too broadly nowadays. There are JAFFs which retain the characters’ names but change their personalities entirely, along with the age and setting of the story, there are modern stories with original names but unoriginal plots, there are explorations of what ifs, sequels and prequels, then there are stories that stay true to Austen’s characters’ personalities but are modern retellings. I myself love JAFFs set in different time periods but still follow closely to the original plot.
    The plot and characters of Darcy and Elizabeth in Beauty and the Beast has always fascinated me so much that I’ve written a short story of it myself. They would still have to overcome their pride and prejudices and learn how to be kind and forgiving too.

    • Interesting. I struggle with stories that change the characters too much. For instance, (and this is just my preference), I cannot accept a dishonorable Darcy or a rake style Darcy. I don’t think that holds true to his character and almost morphs him into a Wickham. I tend to be fairly picky but then, I also write and play with their characters and the settings but I do strive to keep what I see as their core values or character traits true to the story. It is tricky.

      That is cool that you have written a story based on P&P and Beauty and the Beast. I love that fairy tale and can see they would mesh well.

    • I have always loved the Beauty and the Beast story. I can so see Darcy as the haughty prince that insults the witch and she then curses him for his pride. That is so Darcy. Love that idea. It would take the love of Elizabeth to break the spell because only she would look beyond the outward appearance and see the man within. Mr. Bennet fills the part of her father very well. Plus, you have a pick of her sisters for the story, shipping the extras off to London to live with the Gardiners. Since they are in reduced circumstances, that makes it plausible.

  13. I enjoyed your story about Lydia becoming Miss Contentment although as you said it is definitely a fairy story. My vital plot point would have to be a deep eternal love between Darcy and Elizabeth with maybe a little problem or two on the way to achieving it. I will try to enter the competition but I don’t always manage to get the Rafflecopter form to work on my phone. Thanks for this post.

    • Yes, it is definitely a fairy story. 🙂 I agree that Darcy and Elizabeth’s love is an eternal one, and I don’t mind a few problems or challenges to overcome, although I, personally, am not a fan of lots of “misunderstandings” — one or two but they are smart characters so I expect them to learn and not repeat the same mistakes. 🙂 I hope you were successful in entering.

  14. Both of these are tough questions. For the first question I would have to say that it is the struggle that the characters go through to be the gentleman and gentlewoman. It shows that everyone has to make the decision every day as to how they wish to be treated. I think that is why I have a hard time with modern adaptations because the gentleness of that period does not carry over when using modern language. More people tend to act as Lady Catherine than say Lady Matlock or Aunt Gardner.. The second question I would pick Lydia in the role of Alice as she goes thru wonderland. She would learn patience, and how she appears to others. There are many times I have wanted to holler off with her head just to shake her some. And belatedly I am using Pride and Predjudice as my book.

    • Oh, that is an interesting idea of Lydia in Wonderland and learning patience and such. Definitely a fun one to think about. Thanks 🙂

      I have written a short modern story once, but I have not been successful with moderns past that. I applaud those who can successfully do a modern version. I don’t see it in my repertoire (at least not yet). The regency period, to me is fascinating.

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