Thursday, 31 January 2013

Countdown to St. Valentine's Day! Day One!



Countdown to St. Valentine's Day!


Day One


Believe it or not St. Valentine's day is only 14 days away.  The days are getting longer, the sun is beginning to shine more and our thoughts are naturally turning to love.
Whether you are one to wear your heart on your sleeve or not, we all love to receive a Valentine.  Yes, yes, I know that we don't need a special day to tell someone that we love them, but come on, where's your romantic spirit?
So, in the name of lurve I have decided to post some of my favourite poems.  Yes, with the theme of love.  Now, they might get you in the mood for St. Valentine's day, or night ;-)  They might just serve as a reminder to get a card, some choccies and a bottle of wine for your beloved.  Or they might inspire you to go that one step further this year and make this a St. Valentine's day to remember!

I am going to start with my favourite of poets, the great Bard himself William Shakespeare.  I studied his works years ago and I was astonished by them.  That man really did know more than a thing or two about affairs of the heart and more than once his sonnets have left me shaking my head and saying 'wow'.  I believe that Sonnet 18 (together with my all time favourite which I will post tomorrow) is one of the most beautifully written verses in the English language.  Shakespeare captures the essence of love so perfectly.
I hope they move you as much as they move me some 400+ years after they were penned.  
Thank you William Shakespeare.



Sonnet 18 (circa 1595)


Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate: 
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, 
And summer's lease hath all too short a date: 
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, 
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; 
And every fair from fair sometime declines, 
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd; 
But thy eternal summer shall not fade 
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; 
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, 
When in eternal lines to time thou growest: 
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, 
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.










Monday, 28 January 2013

Happy 200th Birthday Pride & Prejudice!




On Wednesday, January 27, 1813, Miss Mary Benn dined with Jane Austen and her mother at Chawton Cottage, which happened to be the day that the first published copy of Pride and Prejudice arrived in its author’s hands.

Jane wrote to her sister Cassandra that “in the eveng we set fairly at it & read half the 1st vol. to her” (29 January 1813). She didn’t tell Miss Benn that she was the author, “& I beleive it passed with her unsuspected. — She was amused, poor soul! that she cd not help you know, with two such people to lead the way; but she really does seem to admire Elizabeth. I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.” As Claire Tomalin says, “Just for once in her life, whether she knew it or not, Miss Benn was the luckiest person in the kingdom” (Jane Austen: A Life, 1997).

The 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice is here. Many new books will be published to mark the occasion, including Paula Byrne’s biography The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things and The Cambridge Companion to Pride and Prejudice. This month, Lansdown Media has published Celebrating Pride and Prejudice, by Hazel Jones and Maggie Lane.

The illustrations are beautiful: the title page of the first printing (with “by the author of ‘Sense and Sensibility,’” instead of “by Jane Austen”); photographs of Chawton Cottage and Austen’s writing desk; the watercolour sketch of Jane by her sister Cassandra; a portrait of Annabella Milbanke (who thought P&P “a very superior work”), later the wife of Lord Byron; and photographs from the Jane Austen Festival in Bath.

Not surprisingly, there are many images from the film and television adaptations of the novel, with a particular focus on the wet shirt scenes from the 1995 P&P and from “Lost in Austen.” Jones and Lane ask, “Could we ever hope to explain to [Jane Austen] the fascination of a man in a wet shirt?” Colin Firth is on the cover of the book, although readers will need to wait until page 43 for the wet shirt photo.

Two pages from Jane’s January 29, 1813 letter to Cassandra are reproduced, and readers can see part of the passage about reading P&P aloud to Miss Benn. However, one page of the letter is photographed overlapping another, and part of the writing on the right hand side of the first page is cut off. This omission means that the important line in which Austen calls the novel “my darling Child” appears as “I want to tell you that … darling Child from London” instead of “I want to tell you that I have got my own darling Child from London.” Now, I would have traded at least one of the wet shirt photos to make room to reproduce the letter in full, but I recognize that not all readers will agree with me.

Hazel Jones and Maggie Lane offer an excellent overview of the way Austen’s “light & bright & sparkling” novel (Letters, 4 February 1813) has been read and re-imagined over the past 200 years, along with a persuasive analysis of reasons why so many people have been fascinated with P&P and its heroine. I like what they have to say about one of the reasons Elizabeth is so attractive, which is “her good humour and disposition to be happy — to make the best of things that she cannot alter.” When her aunt and uncle change their travel plans, and Elizabeth learns that she won’t get to see the Lake District, she is “excessively disappointed.” However, “it was her business to be satisfied — and certainly her temper to be happy, and all was soon right again.” When Jones and Lane tell the story of the creation and publication of Pride and Prejudice, they begin with “two remarkable facts” about the novel: “that it was turned down by the first publisher to whom it was offered; and that Jane Austen made less money from it than from any other book published during her lifetime.” It is easy to lose sight of these two facts now, when Pride and Prejudice is both a classic novel and a very popular one, “its fame, popularity and influence on contemporary culture increasing with every decade.”

Celebrating Pride and Prejudice is a beautiful, well-written book, and reading it is a wonderful way to mark the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s most beloved novel. “All the elements that have always been requirements for a good read are to be found in Pride and Prejudice — romance, angst, mystery, intrigue,” write Jones and Lane, “and all are expressed in clear, accessible prose, with rich seams of wit and irony running through.” They cite Fay Weldon’s view of Austen’s achievement: “Pity Jane Austen if you must, this maiden lady without children or sexual experience. But she would have known the exhilaration of the writer when she put down her pen after Pride and Prejudice. I bet she knew that what she’d written would outrun the generations.”

Quotations from the letters are from the fourth edition of Jane Austen’s Letters, ed. Deirdre Le Faye (Oxford University Press, 2011).





Jane Austen's wonderful book Pride & Prejudice has captivated readers for 200 years and I am sure it will do so for another 200 or more.  It has also spawned many continuation novels including my own award-winning novel which is out now in ebook format or in paperback through your favourite stockist.

When Charlotte Lucas married Mr Collins, she did not love him but had at least secured her future. 
However, what price must she pay for that future? She once said she was not romantic, but how true is that now after almost one year of marriage? 
Mr Collins is submissive in the extreme to his patroness, and his constant simpering, fawning and deference to the overbearing and manipulative Lady Catherine de Bourgh is sure to try the patience of a saint, or at least of Charlotte. 
As Charlotte becomes part of Hunsford society, she discovers she is not the only one who has been forced to submit to the controlling and often hurtful hand of Lady Catherine. 
She feels trapped and realises her need for love and affection. She is not as content as she once thought she would be. The easiest thing to do would be to maintain the peace and do as she is told. But as Charlotte witnesses the misery around her due to her inimitable neighbour, she must decide to remain as she is or to begin a chain of events that will change not only her life but also the lives of those around her in the village of Hunsford forever. 
But...after all, doesn't every girl deserve a happy ending?


It can also be bought in both formats from Amazon.

UK - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0080ELL9M
US - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0080ELL9M
Canada - http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0080ELL9M










Saturday, 26 January 2013

I'm weird and proud of it!



A very good friend of mine sent me the below image with a message saying that most of her best friends are weird.

However, this got me thinking.  Writers are weird.  We lock ourselves away for hours, days, weeks, or even months at a time, and are often heard screaming abuse at the computer or the dreaded spell-checker.  We all have imaginary friends, we all talk to ourselves; either having conversations with our characters or acting out the conversations they are having between themselves.  We also have a tendency to stare at people in public and watch what they are doing with intense interest.  Rest assured that this isn't out of malice, but writer's curiosity.  We find people and what they do fascinating - we need to get our fodder for the next book from somewhere!
Writers also have a suspicious looking internet history.  I know that when I was researching Relative Deceit I had to look up laudanum and poisons that were undetectable or were so in 1912.  In some of my other 'works in progress' I've had to research in great detail some appalling crimes that would make your hair curl.
It's no wonder that we're weird... it's our job to be so!
So, be patient with your writer friends, they aren't just weird, they're working ;-)
And be careful what you do around us or you might end up in a novel!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Jane Austen Commemorative Stamps






To mark the 200th Anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice the Royal Mail has issued some fabulous commemorative stamps.

They will be released on the 21st February - order now to make sure you get yours!







They are fab to look at and you can order online too!







Click here to go to the Royal Mail website to purchase or have a good look at these fabulous stamps.








From the Royal Mail website -


This year marks the bicentenary of the publication of Jane Austen’s most famous novel Pride and Prejudice. Selling over 20 million copies worldwide Pride and Prejudice has been filmed for numerous film and television adaptations.

Stamp by Stamp

1st Class – Sense and Sensibility
Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published work when it appeared in 1811 under the pseudonym "A Lady". Set in southwest England between 1792 and 1797 it follows the life and loves of the Elinor and Marianne Dashwood as they experience love, romance and heartbreak.

1st Class – Pride and Prejudice
Published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice follows the adventures of Elizabeth Bennett as she deals with deals with manners, upbringing, morality, education, and romance with the proud Mr Darcy.

77p – Mansfield Park
Fanny Price is a "poor relation" living with the Bertrams, acutely conscious of her inferior status and yet daring to love their son Edmund from afar. Mansfield Park was the first novel of Jane Austen's maturity, and the first in which the author turned her unerring eye on the concerns of English society at a time of great upheaval.

77p – Emma
Twenty-one-year-old Emma Woodhouse comfortably dominates the social order in the village of Highbury, convinced that she has both the understanding and the right to manage other people’s lives for their own good. Her well-meant interfering centres on the foolish, if appealing, Harriet Smith, the aloof Jane Fairfax, the dangerously attractive Frank Churchill, and the ambitious young vicar Mr. Elton, and it ends with her complacency shattered, her mind awakened to some of life’s more intractable dilemmas, and her happiness assured.

£1.28 – Northanger Abbey
Catherine Morland is embroiled in misapprehension, mistreatment, and mortification when she is invited to Northanger Abbey, the forbidding ancestral seat of her suitor, Henry Tilney, until common sense and humour and a crucial clarification of Catherine s financial status puts all to right.

£1.28 – Persuasion
Anne Elliot, daughter of the snobbish Sir Walter Elliot, is woman of quiet charm and deep feelings. At nineteen she fell in love with a fearless naval officer, Captain Wentworth. But as he had no fortune, Anne was persuaded to give him up. Eight years later, Wentworth returns, rich and unwed. What happens as the two are thrown together in the social world of Bath and as an eager new suitor appears for Anne is touchingly and wittily told in a masterpiece that is also one of the most entrancing novels in the English language.

Released on 21st February



Thursday, 17 January 2013

Wonderful 5* review for CHARLOTTE on Amazon.co.uk!




I'm so happy to find that I've received another 5* review for Charlotte - Pride & Prejudice Continues on Amazon.co.uk
It's so lovely to read these, they really make my day and my work worthwhile!


"I picked this title up as a cheap addition for my kindle with, in all honesty, not high hopes for the prospect of reading it. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is in fact a delightful read and an imaginative, well written and thoughtful extension to the already famous story of Lizzy Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy (who do make an appearance).

This story focuses on the Collins' and their married life together. It shows the true nature of Lady Catherine and the strength and intelligence of Charlotte. Karen Aminadra introduces new characters and extra side stories which combine to make this a very difficult book to put down."

Now on sale for 99p!

Click here to go to Amazon.co.uk




Lovely comments from the latest 4* review of Relative Deceit on Amazon!



Here's a quote from the latest 4* review of Relative Deceit on Amazon.com!

"The characters were pretty well developed. There were some I really liked and others that I loved to hate because the author knew how to show me things about them that built a relationship through their actions.
I wanted to have the evil plans of the bad guy thwarted, but people still died and people still got hurt, and people still suffered, but that is what happens in real life. Though there were many sad things that happened to this family, there were also good things. It was fun to see the family relationships of these people, and to see how fun it was when cars and phones were introduced to their household. It was great to see how they rose above the hardships and came together to support each other."

Now on sale for 99 cents!



Click here to go to Amazon.com




Thursday, 10 January 2013

Work in progress!




Hello all!  I hope your year is beginning well and that you're all sticking to your resolutions, if you made them!

You will be pleased to know that I have bowed to pressure and the voices in my head and the sequel to Charlotte ~ Pride & Prejudice Continues is under way!

This one is not about Charlotte Collins but moves to the inimitable Grande Dame of Rosings Park, Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter Anne.
I would love to have your feedback and comments on Pride & Prejudice Continues Book Two, as many of you have mentioned things that you'd like me to continue and expand upon.

To whet your appetites I have a snippet for you to enjoy!  I look forward to hearing what you think!

Take care,
Karen xxx

Anne ran to her room, slammed her door shut and immediately regretted it. She was not one for fits of temper, but her mother had severely riled her that morning.  She had been presented with a list of men who would be invited to stay at Rosings and had been told that she must choose and persuade one of them to marry her. How could her mother be so cruel?  Did she care nothing for her daughter’s future happiness?  Anne was determined that she would not marry any of the men on her mother’s list and her mother was determined that she would.  Anne knew that she would eventually have no say in the matter.  She would not be permitted to marry for love but for rank or for money.  She also knew that the home she had known and loved for all of her life would be handed over to her husband, by law, as soon as she signed her name on the register.  He would then be able to do as he pleased with her, her fortune, land and house.  The very thought frightened her and made her sick to her stomach.  She retched and thankfully managed not lose her breakfast, and then sank to her knees sobbing bitterly.








Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Year Message!


It's January 2nd 2013 and I am back from my Christmas break to wish you all a very happy New Year!

The end of 2012 was very hectic for me, the year was very hard for us personally, but in general brought about some wonderful blessings too.  Our family increased by one member as our 2nd grandson was born at the end of the year. I fulfilled one of my dreams by becoming an author last year too.  It was a crazy roller-coaster ride, I can tell you.  There is a lot of trial and error when publishing, but I managed to get through the minefield and I am a lot wiser to all the pitfalls and procedures.  Charlotte ~ Pride & Prejudice Continues has been a great success and my second novel Relative Deceit was a personal triumph.  I started that book about 10 years ago and never got round to finishing it.  Last year I did just that.  There is such a wonderful feeling that comes from finishing a long project like that.  Also, they are now out in paperback.  I am so chuffed that the two major high-street chains here in the UK, WHSmith and Waterstones, stock my books!  Also Charlotte ~ Pride & Prejudice Continues  was nominated for and won a B.R.A.G Medallion!  It's so wonderful to win an award for all your hard work and effort!  They're definitely 'happy-dance' moments!

This has been a year to remember. It was filled with a lot of tears, heartache, learning, personal growth, humility, and happiness in times of trouble. Although a good portion of the past year was a headache for us due to the global crisis hitting us in a very personal way, I can say there have been times of triumph and lots of laughter to dry  up the tears. I am blessed and touched to have made so many new friends around the world.

I have sold books just about everywhere from, Spain, Germany, Italy and France, to India and South Africa. I have connected with people from Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Australia and everywhere in between. As my good friend, Author Ginger Myrick, put it "It is amazing to me that the world is so vast yet these people, with such varying interests and backgrounds, can have so much in common and come together over something as simple as a story."

I would like to give you all my heartfelt thanks for your interest and support. You know that you all are the reason that I continue to write and without you readers, there would be no point.
I hope you have enjoyed my books and posts, and that I have helped you find something worth reading along the way.
Here's wishing you all the very best in the coming year. I look forward to bringing you more in 2013.  As the Americans say, when life throws you lemons, make lemonade! So no matter what, keep reading, keep smiling, keep loving and Happy 2013!
 xxx