Pardon our construction dust! A week ago, this website was just an idea in the minds of three writers. We pictured a small experimental blog where we could talk with our readers about our writing and readers could get a look at our writing process. It was just going to be a few of us, in addition to our blogging elsewhere. Then that handsome Theo Darcy dropped by and mentioned he was looking for new accommodations. Well, what’s a writer to do? Suddenly our tiny experimental blog had to open right away – and it wasn’t going to be tiny at all. My head is still spinning! Theo, the things we do for you!!
So what is Austen Variations? Well, a week ago I could have told you it was going to be all about writing and storytelling with a focus on our works-in-progress, and that we hoped to have the opportunity to connect and interact with readers about elements of our new stories, including plotlines, titles, characters, and writing dilemmas. With our expansion to include The Darcy Brothers and later Persuasion200, we’ve added a lot of authors, and we’re going to need to rethink that mission. We’re discussing what other features should be incorporated here, but we don’t have any answers for you yet. This site is now a work in progress in its own right, but you’ll see excerpts from WIPs, open forums and polls, dialogue between writers and between writers and readers, guest posts from invited readers, bloggers and reviewers, and probably other things we haven’t thought of yet. And let’s not forget Theo Darcy! Our primary focus will be on Austen-related fiction, but our writers will also talk about their writing in other genres.
Why the increased focus on writing? I can tell you why I’m personally interested in that. Of all the posts I’ve made over the years, three things were by far the most popular and most commented on: excerpts from my work in progress, group writing projects like The Darcy Brothers, and the post about my amazing kitten Snowdrop. Well, we all know about the internet and cats, but the excerpts and group writing projects were also the posts helped me, inspiring me to write more and helping me past stumbling blocks in my writing. The reader comments and suggestions got my creative juices flowing. My experience with The Darcy Brothers reinforced this. The six of us writing it talk all the time about the plot, where to go next, how to play the characters against each other – and reader suggestions in the comments and in the polls have been a big part of that. It’s been stimulating, fun, and has led to a better plot line than I could have done on my own. I want more interaction like that.
Who is involved? Some really great writers! Diana Birchall, Marilyn Brant, Jack Caldwell, Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Regina Jeffers, Kara Louise, Susan Mason-Milks, C. Allyn Pierson, Jane Odiwe, Sally Smith O’Rourke, Abigail Reynolds, Colette Saucier, Mary Lydon Simonsen, and, of course, Theo Darcy. You can expect a few more names to be added to this list in the next few days.
Can I do anything to help? Yes! We need to hear from you. What you’d like to see, what you don’t want to see, what you like or dislike about what we’re trying. If you find a problem with the site, please let us know. We haven’t had a chance to test drive it as much as we’d like. Or to sleep as much as we’d like, for that matter. 😉
What will the schedule be? Will you post every day? We put up a website in 4 days, and you want us to have plans, too? For the next two weeks there will be posts every weekday for our grand opening, but eventually we plan to go to posting 3 days a week. Again, this is all subject to change as we get a better idea of what works and doesn’t work. New chapters of The Darcy Brothers will remain on Wednesday. There may also be a day for reader discussion of particular topics. As you’re waiting for new posts, you can catch up on reading old chapters of The Darcy Brothers or download one of our free stories.
Whose runs this site? Maria Grace, Susan Mason-Milks and I are running it as a team, with lots of help from all the participants who have been stepping up to bat. I’d like to clarify that it’s not my site. Anyone who knows me can tell you organizing is not one of my talents, so Susan and Grace wisely assigned me to do the talking, because I’m good at that. But while you may hear me talk more than the others, they’re the ones doing the bulk of the organizing, putting the site together, and strategizing about what the heck we’re doing. They’re the newsmakers. I’m just the newscaster. Hey, is that a deal or what? They do all the work, I get all the fun. But they are making me share Theo with them.
Are you accepting other writers? Not yet. Give us some time to figure out what we’re doing, and then we can talk.
Tell me about the giveaways! Oh, boy, can I tell you about giveaways! This week we’ll be giving away five e-book copies of Pride & Prejudice: The Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote every day Monday – Friday. Yes, that’s 5 copies a day! Other prizes this week include autographed copies of Mr. Darcy’s Proposal by Susan Mason-Milks, 3 books by Jane Odiwe (Project Darcy, Searching for Captain Wentworth, and Mr. Darcy’s Secret), and 2 four-book sets of the Given Good Principles Series by Maria Grace, including Darcy’s Decision, The Future Mrs. Darcy, All the Appearance of Goodness, and Twelfth Night at Longbourn. Not enough? How about we add 2 sets of Jane Austen Said It Best magnets, 2 ebook boxed sets of the Given Good Principles series, and 2 audiobooks from yours truly, Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections and The Darcys of Derbyshire. Still not enough? Okay, we’ll throw in a Jane Austen wristwatch, plus special giveaways on Wednesday of a Theo Darcy mug and tote bag, and on Thursday there’ll be another giveaway for the launch of Mary Lydon Simonsen’s new book, Another Place in Time. And if that still isn’t enough, well, you’re going to have to come back next week for even more fabulous giveaways. And even if you don’t win, you can borrow Theo Darcy any time, and that’s a pretty good deal.
Wait a minute! What about Snowdrop? Snowdrop? Oh, she likes Theo Darcy, too! She’s still doing well, though she’s mystified why the other three kittens had to go to the vet overnight and now are complaining about their incisions. Snowdrop can’t be spayed because she can’t be anesthetized, so my next learning experience is going to be about cats in heat. Say, cats must have been going into heat all the time in the Regency. I wonder if I can work that into a book somehow?