Thoughts Provoked….

This is unusual, but while reading Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb, I came across this passage:

“By nine o’clock they were all sitting in a caleche and driving slowly through the crowded streets.  The white walls of the buildings, designed to keep the heat at bay, were blinding in the sun.  Every few minutes they came upon a market square, with tiny stalls set up wherever there was a space.  People shouted in shrill tones, advertising their wares, and all four travelers were entranced by the flowing white robes and rolled up headdress worn by the men.  Donkeys brayed on every corner and each time they stopped, small boys appeared as if from nowhere entreating them to buy sticky brown dates and succulent figs.”  (page 130 ARC)

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media, and in particular Twitter.  This particular passage of the sellers crowding a singular space and boys coming from out of no where shouting about their wares and offerings reminded me of the cacophony of Twitter.  For whatever reason, I’ve lately become weary of the hours I spend on social media and wondering whether it even gets the word out there about the truly wonderful books I read and whether there is a more effective way to accomplish this goal, particularly for poetry.

It seems that there is a stream of reviews, giveaways, comments, and other items that clog up the Twitter timeline and even if I spent all hours of the day on the Web, my tweets about poets, readings, and books would be lost in the loud morass.  I feel as though I am shouting at passersby about the books I read and the poets I love and the readings I attend, but to no avail.  They do not know me, they do not (most likely) read my blog, so why would they care what I have to say?

Hand-selling books at a bookstore and chatting with readers is what I miss.  There is an intimate connection you make with fellow readers browsing a bookstore, especially when they pick up a book off the shelf that you’ve loved.  This was never more evident to me than when I attended a recent book signing in Boonsboro when I chatted with other ladies in line about their books and why they love them.  It was good to talk about Karen White’s books with people who had never heard of her and to see them light up when I told them about her books — the one’s I’ve read and the one’s I’ve yet to read — and how its a new world and adventure every time I open those pages.  Some people I talked to immediately picked up a copy of Sea Change, while others picked up Beach Trees.

What does all this mean for me and social media?  I’m not sure, but I’m likely to mull over my presence on Twitter more and to think of better ways to use my time there.  What are your thoughts?

Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb

Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb is one of the most unique spinoffs of Jane Austen’s work as it takes place years after Darcy and Lizzy have been married — double digit years later — and sets them off on what some would consider a dream honeymoon to Egypt, although without the modern conveniences that are likely to be there today.  Darcy’s Cousin Edward has been obsessed with Egypt and a fabled tomb filled with treasure since he was a boy and heard tales of his father’s trip there years before.  Edward’s fantastic stories of the African land tantalize Elizabeth’s desire for adventure.

“As she went over to her writing table, she had a brilliant vision of Darcy and herself standing in the middle of a glorious Egyptian painting, with their children seated in front of them.  She imagined the girls in pristine white dresses and the boys looking immaculate in coats and breeches, surrounded by golden sand dunes.  Then the impossibly perfect picture dissolved as her lively mind provided her with a more realistic picture:  Laurence and Jane running about, Margaret sucking her thumb, and a camel eating the flowers on Beth’s bonnet.”  (Page 39 ARC)

With the introduction of Paul Inkworthy as the Darcy family painter of portraits and archaeologist Sir Matthew Rosen, Grange and Webb have created a new dynamic to the story when Lizzy invites the youngest Lucas daughter, Sophie, along on their trip.  Besides the continued romance between Lizzy and Darcy, we see the budding of young love with Sophie and the early schoolgirl crush of Beth, the Darcy’s daughter.  And of course, our favorite villain George Wickham has to enter the foray and stir things up, and the ridiculous Mrs. Bennet and Lydia offer some comic relief.  Beyond the sweeping Egyptian landscapes and romantic adventures, Grange and Webb also weave in the stories of ancient gods and fairy tales, including one about a jealous woman, Aahotep, who bears a stunning likeness to a doll young Margaret finds and attaches herself too.

The family faces conditions unlike what they are used to, but they are all adventurous and willing to remain positive.  Readers will enjoy seeing how the marriage has matured and how they nurture their children and Sophie as she deals with a broken heart.  Grange and Webb provide glimpses of a parents’ perspective, watching how their children grow and mature and begin to find their own way in the world.  It leaves both with a sense of loss, but accomplishment.  Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb is an amazing journey of mystery, love, and family devotion.

About the Author:

Amanda Grange is a bestselling author of Jane Austen fiction (over 200,000 copies sold) and a popular author of historical fiction in the U.K. She specializes in creative interpretations of classic novels and historic events, including Jane Austen’s novels and the Titanic shipwreck. Her novels include Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, Mr. Darcy’s Diary, and Titanic Affair. She lives in England.

It’s Simplicity and Company for Darcy Writers Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb

Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb have co-written a spin-off of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice that takes her characters to Egypt in Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt.

Pulled into the craze of Egyptology, the Darcys and their lively children embark on an expedition to find a hidden tomb and uncover its treasure. Not only are immeasurable riches awaiting them in the exotic land of the Sphinx, but also danger and betrayal and the chance to lay an ancient grudge to rest…

Today, Amanda and Jacqueline will share their writing spaces with us. I hope you give them a warm welcome.

Amanda Grange talks about the basics she needs for writing:

My writing space is simple and uncluttered, in fact it’s very much like a standard office. I like a distraction-free environment when I’m working so the decorations are very plain and there are no pictures or ornaments, other than a laughing cow which I like because it cheers me up if I’m suffering from writers’ block.

The essentials, for me, are a desk and chair, my computer – of course! – and very little besides. My desk is very large so that I can open a lot of research books at the same time if I need to, without running out of space. It also means I have room for all the scribbled notes I make during the course of the book, and I can open maps if I need to, or atlases, or anything else that is oversized.

I have a calendar so I can keep an eye on my deadlines and I have a bookcase crammed with research books, from simple things like The Oxford Dictionary For Writers and Editors to more specialised research books. Most of these are to do with the Regency in some form or another, so that I can look up anything I need very quickly without breaking my writing flow.

I always have a stack of paper and a selection of pens because sometimes I want to make notes in longhand, either because I’m working away from the screen – perhaps when I’m editing – or because my head is buzzing with ideas and even the act of turning on the computer might break the thread of my ideas.

I also like the stack of paper if I’m just brainstorming a selection of ideas and I know I will throw most of them away. There’s something cathartic about throwing discarded ideas in the bin, it seems to remove them from my imagination more effectively than deleting a Word file. So of course I have a large bin!

But the most important part of my writing space is exactly that, space. Space to think, space to write and space to dream.

Jacqueline Webb talks about the company she keeps in her writing space loft:

My writing space is in the spare bedroom in our converted loft. At one time it was our computer room but as our children got older and took over the laptops that seem to abound in our house nowadays, the loft has become much less sought after. I write on the bed on my laptop. My husband recently bought me one of those laptop trays which makes it easier to balance and I had quite lot of fun fiddling about with the lamp that comes with it, filling the little space for pens, although I hardly ever use them, and trying to find a use for the cup holder.

The loft is quite large and has a big window which gives a lot of light as well as lovely views across to the park. I often end up with a cat for company, as my two cats enjoy the peace and quiet, although they leave on the rare occasions our dog turns up as she’s too boisterous for them. Being at the top of the house means I’m out of the way and less likely to be disturbed.

Thanks, Amanda and Jacqueline, for sharing your writing spaces with us.

Mailbox Monday #179

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Alternative Read.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received since vacation the previous couple of weeks:

1. Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank, unsolicited from William Morrow and I will find a new home for.

When Jimmy McMullen, a fireman with the NYFD, is killed in the line of duty, his wife, Jackie, and ten-year-old son, Charlie, are devastated. Charlie idolized his dad, and now the outgoing, curious boy has become quiet and reserved. Trusting in the healing power of family, Jackie decides to return to her childhood home on Sullivans Island.

Crossing the bridge from the mainland, Jackie and Charlie enter a world full of wonder and magic—lush green and chocolate grasslands and dazzling red, orange, and magenta evening skies; the heady pungency of Lowcountry Pluff mud and fresh seafood on the grill; bare toes snuggled in warm sand and palmetto fronds swaying in gentle ocean winds.

2.  Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb from Sourcebooks for review in July.

The Darcys get pulled into the Regency craze for Egypt in this romantic and adventurous Pride and Prejudice continuation by bestselling author Amanda Grange and Egyptology expert Jacqueline Webb.

When Elizabeth, Darcy and their lively children go to Egypt with Colonel Fitzwilliam’s younger brother, romantic interludes between Darcy and Elizabeth intertwine with the unraveling of a mystery dating back to an ancient Egyptian woman. They find long-hidden treasure, thwart a theft and betrayal by the ever villainous George Wickham, and lay to rest an ancient ghost.

3.  Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax from the publisher and Joan Schulhafer Publicity for review in June.

If you want to win a copy of your own, today is the last day to enter Wendy Wax’s giveaway for one of three advance reader copies of her upcoming OCEAN BEACH, to be sent to the winners prior to the June 26th on sale date. Best of luck to all!! Just go to http://www.writerspace.com/contests/ and scroll down to Wendy’s name!

Unlikely friends Madeline, Avery and Nicole have hit some speed bumps in their lives, but when they arrive in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, they are all hoping for a do-over. Literally. They’ve been hired to bring a once-grand historic house back to its former glory on a new television show called Do-Over. If they can just get this show off the ground, Nikki would get back on her feet financially, Avery could restart her ruined career, and Maddie would have a shot at keeping her family together.

At least, that’s the plan – until the women realize that having their work broadcast is one thing, having their personal lives play out on TV is another thing entirely. Soon they are struggling to hold themselves, and the project, together. With a decades-old mystery—and the hurricane season—looming, the women are forced to figure out just how they’ll weather life’s storms…

4.  The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe from TLC Book Tours in August.

Macau: the bulbous nose of China, a peninsula and two islands strung together like a three-bead necklace. It was time to find a life for myself. To make something out of nothing. The end of hope and the beginning of it too.

After moving with her husband to the tiny, bustling island of Macau, Grace Miller finds herself a stranger in a foreign land—a lone redhead towering above the crowd on the busy Chinese streets. As she is forced to confront the devastating news of her infertility, Grace’s marriage is fraying and her dreams of family have been shattered. She resolves to do something bold, something her impetuous mother would do, and she turns to what she loves: baking and the pleasure of afternoon tea.

Grace opens a café where she serves tea, coffee, and macarons—the delectable, delicate French cookies colored like precious stones—to the women of Macau. There, among fellow expatriates and locals alike, Grace carves out a new definition of home and family. But when her marriage reaches a crisis, secrets Grace thought she had buried long ago rise to the surface. Grace realizes it’s now or never to lay old ghosts to rest and to begin to trust herself. With each mug of coffee brewed, each cup of tea steeped and macaron baked, Grace comes to learn that strength can be gleaned from the unlikeliest of places.

5. Guilty Wives by James Patterson and David Ellis, which my mom lent to me after visiting her with “Wiggles.”

Only minutes after Abbie Elliot and her three best friends step off of a private helicopter, they enter the most luxurious, sumptuous, sensually pampering hotel they have ever been to. Their lavish presidential suite overlooks Monte Carlo, and they surrender: to the sun and pool, to the sashimi and sake, to the Bruno Paillard champagne. For four days they’re free to live someone else’s life. As the weekend moves into pulsating discos, high-stakes casinos, and beyond, Abbie is transported to the greatest pleasure and release she has ever known.

6. Private Games by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan, which my mom lent to me after visiting her with “Wiggles.”

Private, the world’s most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Its agents are the smartest, fastest, and most technologically advanced in the world, and 400 of them have been transferred to London to protect more than 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries.

7. Private #1 Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, which my mom lent to me after visiting her with “Wiggles.”

Since former Marine Jack Morgan started Private, it has become the world’s most effective investigation firm–sought out by the famous and the powerful to discreetly handle their most intimate problems. Private’s investigators are the smartest, the fastest, and the most technologically advanced in the world–and they always uncover the truth.

8. Flesh by Khanh Ha, which I received from TLC for a book tour in June.

The setting is Tonkin (northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century. A boy, Tai, witnesses the beheading of his father, a notorious bandit, and sets out to recover his head and then to find the man who betrayed his father to the authorities. On this quest, Tai’s entire world will shift. FLESH takes the reader into dark and delightful places in the human condition, places where allies are not always your friends, true love hurts, and your worst enemy may bring you the most comfort. In that emotionally harrowing world, Tai must learn to deal with new responsibilities in his life while at the same time acknowledge his bond, and his resemblance, to a man he barely knew-his father. Through this story of revenge is woven a another story, one of love, but love purchased with the blood of murders Tai commits. A coming-of-age story, but also a love story, the sensuality of the author’s writing style belies the sometimes brutal world he depicts.

What did you receive?