Happy 200th to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE!

Welcome to my stop on the Pride and Prejudice 200th Anniversary Blog Hop!  First, a valentine to our own dear Jane, and then a giveaway to celebrate…

January 28, 2013

Dear Jane,

Whatever would this world be without your wonderful novel? Although you felt that Pride and Prejudice was perhaps too “light, and bright, and sparkling,” I can assure you that the rest of us beg to disagree.

From readers who adore you and who turn to your books for entertainment, enlightenment, and yes, sometimes comfort, to those of us who fancy ourselves writers, where, I ask you, would we be without your sparkling wit to inspire us to greater heights of achievement?  Or your clever dialogue and unforgettable characters to fill us with glee?  Mr. Collins!  Lady Catherine de Bourgh!  Caroline Bingley and the featherheaded Mrs. Bennet! And of course one of literature’s most enduring and timeless couples, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

Sigh.

Just thinking about all this makes me want to take my well-loved copy of your book from the shelf and reread it.  So I think I shall, but first, let me just wish you the very happiest of anniversaries (no small feat to have remained in print for two centuries). Wherever you are, dear Jane, I hope you know how very much you and your books are loved.

Your faithful literary admirer,

Heather Vogel Frederick

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And now, because I can’t resist an excuse for a giveaway, I’d like to give one reader a copy of my own PIES & PREJUDICE (betcha can’t guess what book inspired THAT!).  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here and tell us what you love about Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice.  If you haven’t read the book yet, tell us when you plan to, OK?

PIES & PREJUDICE cover

US/Canada only, please.  The deadline is Sunday February 3rd at midnight PST.  Winner will be announced Monday, February 4th.

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This blog post is part of a 200th Anniversary Blog Hop.  Be sure and hop on over to the other PRIDE AND PREJUDICE anniversary blogs by clicking here!

PandPPartyHop1-1

Seattle, here I come!

News flash!

I’m dashing up to Seattle over the weekend to see friends who are in town for the American Library Association’s midwinter conference, and the good folks at EAGLE HARBOR BOOK CO. on Bainbridge Island have invited me for an impromptu Meet & Greet (and book signing) on Monday January 28th at 4 p.m.

The bookstore is just a short walk from the ferry, so hop on over and come see me!

Bainbridge ferry
bainbridge ferry 2
 (and yes, it really is this beautiful)

Important note for the Fifties Chix giveaway

All of your delicious malt shop comments are making me hungry! So fun!  BUT please don’t forget that in order to be entered in the giveaway you ALSO need to sign up for the Fifties Chix fan club. Click here to take care of that little detail, after you’ve asked your parents’ permission …

(It’s so worth it, trust me!  Angela is super creative, and is always coming up with fun “extras” for her fans — a newsletter, free stuff, exclusive sneak peeks at future books.  Hmmm … maybe I should take notes.)

FanClubSignUp

Fan art Friday

Boy, do I have some gems to share with you all today!

First, from one of you who didn’t identify herself aside from initials (perhaps she prefers to be anonymous?), a drawing of Megan’s outfit from p. 294 of WISH YOU WERE EYRE:

Megan 294 WYWE

 

WOW!  This is fabulous — she totally nailed it, don’t you think? Well done!  (And feel free to reveal yourself if you’d care to so we can all congratulate you.)

Next, I received a letter recently from Colette, who included a pair of beautiful collages.  I can’t decide which one I like best, they’re both so wonderful:

Collage 1

Collage 2

 

Aren’t these FUN?  I love the way she wove everything together! You’re so creative, Colette!

And then last but absolutely not least, wait until you see this INCREDIBLE gift I received from my friend Sue!  She had the idea of turning a box of Trader Joe’s chocolate bars into a “boxed set” of my books, but wasn’t sure how to do it.  Her daughter Eliza stepped in, and this is the result:

Boxed Set A

 

 

Boxed Set B

Isn’t this amazing?!  Way too pretty to eat!*  Every side of the “box” has a cover of one of the books.  I have it on my dresser and have been admiring it all week.

THANK YOU, everyone!

 

(*OK, confession time:  I figured out how to carefully open the box of chocolate bars from the bottom, so nothing would be harmed, then slip them out one at a time, remove the chocolate from its individual box, and slip it back into the “boxed set.”  Nothing comes between me and chocolate….)

 

A fun Fifties Chix giveaway!

Happy “book birthday” to my friend Angela Sage Larsen!  Here she is with her new baby:

Big #3 announcement

Can you tell she’s thrilled?  She’s glowing!  (Even more than usual, that is — Angela is a glowy kind of person, which is just one of the many things I love about her.)

I’m a big fan of Angela and her books.  Not only is she a talented artist, but she also has a clear sense of purpose about her art and her writing, which I admire.  “Strong Girls x Good Books” is her motto.  What’s not to love about that?!

Book 3 FC-3rd Times a charm

THIRD TIME’S A CHARM is the third (duh) in her “Fifties Chix” time travel series.  I’ll let her tell you more about the book (and don’t miss the giveaway at the end!):

Heather:  Imagine you find yourself in an elevator with a movie producer.  You have thirty seconds to pitch the FIFTIES CHIX.  How would you describe the series?

Angela:  I would tell her, first of all, what a big fan I am (of course) and then I would describe FIFTIES CHIX as Back to the Future meets Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: it’s about 5 girls who time travel from 1955 to present day.

Heather:  Tell me about how you came to write the books.

Angela:  My books and stories always start with characters and then asking “what if…?” I was inspired to write the Fifties Chix series after first drawing and painting five different characters just for fun (although at that point, I wasn’t thinking about writing a story about it, just enjoying drawing). I imagined what typical 1950s “teeny boppers” might be like — one girl obsessed with Hollywood and the movies (who became Judy), one girl who is a talented athlete who loves sports (Beverly), another who is a homemaker who enjoys sewing and cooking (Mary), one girl who is concerned about social issues (Maxine), and a girl who is very artistic and loves to paint (Ann). I imagined how they would act and what they would think–and even how others would perceive them–if they were to be dropped right in present day straight from the 1950s. The question that I’ve been trying to answer for myself by writing the series is ultimately, “What’s ‘better’–the 1950s, which everyone says was a ‘simpler time’, or present day?” I’m just starting to write the fifth and last book and I’m still not sure there’s a clear cut answer!

Heather:  What’s been the biggest surprise along the way?

Angela:  There have been so many; one of the biggest surprises is when I hear about which characters readers identify with. For example, I have readers who are soccer players that identify more with Mary–who likes to be organized and in charge–than with Beverly, who is a star athlete. It’s a happy surprise for me, because it means the characters have more than just one dimension.

 Heather:  You’re in a ’50s malt shop.  What one must-have item would you order?

Angela:  I have a question for you: why do I only get to pick one? 😉 I’d have to choose between a rootbeer float, hot fudge sundae (no nuts), and/or a chocolate shake.

Now it’s YOUR turn!  To enter the giveaway for a copy of THIRD TIME’S A CHARM, leave a comment below telling us what one favorite treat YOU would order at a ’50s malt shop, then sign up for the Fifties Chix fan club by clicking here!  (Make sure and ask your parents’ permission first.)  Giveaway ends at midnight January 23rd; one winner will be chosen at random and announced here on this blog on January 24th.  (US/Canada only, please.)

 

Owls on my mind

Can you tell what I’ve been researching lately?

Owl booksHere are a few fun facts that I’ve learned so far:

1.  Owls’ eyes are fixed in their sockets, so they have to turn their whole head in order to look in any given direction.

2.  There are somewhere between 140 and 200 owl species worldwide (scientists are not in agreement on the total), and North America is home to 21 of those species.  The largest is the Great Gray at about 27 inches tall; the smallest is the Elf Owl at 6 inches tall.

3.  Owls have particularly soft feathers, and the ones at the front edge of their wings are fringed, which acts as a silencer.

4.  The word “owl” comes from the Old English word “ule,” meaning “to howl.”

When I went to my local library here in Garden Home (that’s really the name of the community where I live — isn’t it fabulous?) to pick up the stack of books I’d reserved, I showed off the picture I took of the owl in my backyard to my librarian friends.  (Click here to see it.)  Someone behind us piped up, “It’s probably a Barred Owl.”  I turned around to see a smiling woman in an “Audubon Society Staff” sweatshirt standing there.  Wow — now that’s what I call a full-service library!  They’d arranged to have someone on hand to answer my question before I even asked it…

Well, OK, maybe not.  But still — I LOVE my local library!

Research is such a fun part of my job.

 

*Click here to read about some recent successful owl rehabilitations at my local Audubon society — Jess Delaney would totally approve.

 

 

Thank you, Jonathan Franzen

Last night my friend Sue and I braved the cold and went downtown to hear author Jonathan Franzen speak.  Franzen is a novelist and essayist and holds strong opinions on any number of subjects.  He’s also charming and funny and scary smart.  It was a fascinating evening, and I went home slightly giddy from the rush of intellectual stimulation.

One thing he said in particular resonated with me.  Franzen is no Luddite (he was very adamant on this point, since he’s often called one), and contends that he’s a fan of much that technology has to offer, but at the same time he’s clearly concerned about the direction the world is going, what with the constant magnetic pull of smart phones and chatter of social media, including Twitter.  I couldn’t agree more, especially on this last point — I tried Twitter a while back for 48 hours and had to unplug it as it made my head spin.  He’s not fond of e-books, either, and spoke eloquently about “the quiet permanence of the written word.”

I love that.

“The quiet permanence of the written word.”

Personally, I don’t mind e-books.  My own e-book sales are brisk, thank you very much dear readers, and I would break down and cry if someone tried to take away the e-reader my sister gave me.  It’s an absolute life-saver when I travel — I’ll never run out of reading material on a cross-country flight again. Still, to my mind, reading an e-book simply can’t hold a candle to the particular joys of reading a physical book.  There’s the whole bookness of a physical book, for starters, its familiar form and feel, its intoxicating smell, its satisfying heft.  Having published fourteen of my own at this point, I also know exactly how much thought and care goes into every physical book on the shelf, from the dedicated editors who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the writer to the gifted artists and designers who dream up the cover, select the font, and lay out the pages.  And in the case of children’s picture books, there’s another layer involved as well: the illustrator, whose artwork lights up the words.  A physical book is a labor of love and a work of art, truly.

And then there’s the actual experience of reading.  I don’t find I’m able to dive into a story on an e-reader in quite the same way I do with a book.  Eventually the story sucks me in and I’m not as conscious of the fact that I’m clicking a button or touching a screen to “turn the page,” but there’s still something vaguely disorienting about the whole thing.  I don’t like not being able to see both pages at once (and no, using an app on my laptop screen doesn’t do it for me either in this regard), and I don’t like not being able to flip ahead or back or know at a glance how much further I have to go to the finish line.  Plus, once I do get to the finish line, if the book is one I absolutely loved, I can’t pass the e-book version along to family or friends.

(Apparently I’m not alone in my preference, as a recent essay by Nicholas Carr in the Wall Street Journal points out.)

So all things being equal, I’ll take “the quiet permanence of the written word” that waits for me between the covers of a book any day of the week.  And thank you, Jonathan Franzen, for that beautiful phrase.