A 13 year old’s Pride & Prejudice sequel

1. Eight years ago, I hated writing because I thought I sucked at it. I would always get a “C” for a grade in English class. Becoming a novelist was the last thing on my list of future careers. Then I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice at the age of thirteen. I began writing sequels for this book. I say sequels with an “s” because each time I finished a sequel to P&P I’d start a new sequel, beginning once more from day one of their marriage. I hated the thought of Darcy and Elizabeth growing old. I wanted their love story to always remain young, raw, and passionate. And so obsessed was I with Pride&Prejudice that I would always get giddy to return home from school to work on my sequel. I would quickly finish my homework and then begin to write. When my dad came in to check up on me, to see if I was studying, I would hastily cover the story with my homework. Once he left, I’d continue writing. Writing became my guilty pleasure. Anyway, here is an excerpt of my untitled sequel, in its original state.

When Elizabeth thought that no one was around, she’d lay on the grassy field, a little away from Pemberley, and lie under a tree and look sky wards as she did that day. She looked up at the bright summer sky with her bonnet still on to shade her eyes from the sun which the tree was unsuccessful of doing and twirled a peace of leaf with her fingers.

Elizabeth heard footsteps coming towards her, she sat up, knowing that if it were anyone from the Pemberley estate they’d think she had no courtesy as a wife-to-be of master Darcy. Which all the servants were surprised at the pick and still thought that his engagement to her would be broken sooner or later.

She turned around to see Darcy, which was worse than a servant of Pemberley seeing her. She rapped her hands around her legs. She worried that Darcy would think her a savage, but to her surprise saw Darcy sit write beside her. Elizabeth stared at him in surprise that a man in his standards would sit on the grass. Furthermore, was more shocked as he lay back on the grass. He looked at her.

“May I ask why you stare at me so, Miss Elizabeth?” asked Darcy out of curiosity.

“It was just surprising to see a man like you, Mr. Darcy, of such high standard lie on the grass?” said she.

Darcy chuckled to himself. “Miss Elizabeth, I’ve noticed that you think men of ‘high standards’ are unable to have ‘any’ fun except ride horses and hunt! Of course men of my ‘standards’ do sit on the grass—lake picnic for example. Yes maybe we don’t lie on the grass, but at times like this when nobody is around to criticize them, yes, they may lie on the grass.” Replied he in teasing look.

(Hmmm I must have had some kind of fetish for men lying down on grass…) My stomach is aching from laughing so hard that I can no longer strain my eyes to type out the faint handwriting of mine. Basically, what I can gather from skimming through this very complicated, very endless story of mine, is that Elizabeth doesn’t get to marry Darcy, because they’re torn apart by the evil, scheming Anne De Burgh. And then it is discovered that Elizabeth is a spy, as is Darcy. A spy for who? For Napoleon. (I don’t know how this worked out). Oh wait, Darcy also inherits a Dukedom. As the story progresses, Elizabeth and Darcy fall even more madly in love, and more random things occur to keep them separated. Duels. Highwaymen. More scheming wenches. Love triangles. And then in the end Darcy and Elizabeth finally marry and live happily ever after. The end. And then I slip out another sheet to scribble down a NEW sequel.

 

2. Yesterday, my writer friend K. C. Byrne and I did a PRIDE & PREJUDICE MARATHON. The 1995 BBC adaptation. Yes, we watched the 6 hour long series straight through. But we did take a break in between to go out and buy sushi for dinner. It was great fun. While watching the series, we picked up on so many things (dialogues, expressions, actions) that we had missed before. I’m so happy to have met someone who loves Jane Austen as much as I do (though, Charlotte Bronte, I will always love you the most, even though you’ve upset me with your other book, VILLETTE).

3. Here’s a piece by Rachmaninov that sent chills down my spine. I’ve been listening to it over and over again ever since I downloaded it a few hours ago. Just as Vivaldi’s Winter was one of the pieces that inspired the mood behind THE RUNAWAY COURTESAN, I think Rachmaninov’s The Bells of Moscow will be the piece to set the mood behind my new project. Oh, and don’t even ask how my new novel is coming along. It’s still a vague, vague story in my head. But I love this vague storyline either way. It’s going to be another emotional rollercoaster for me to write.

Two more days left to enter my book give-away contest!

And Please visit my new article posted up on LTWF, titled: How to Bring Characters to Life

Pop a bottle of Champagne for me!

 1) Agent#1 requested the complete manuscript of The Runaway Courtesan!

2) Right now I would very much like to write an obscene word, capitalized, to describe my intense frustration. But instead I’ll keep my post Rated G. Anyway, today I slapped my palm over my forehead and cried out: ARRRRGGGGGG! So here is the story behind the tragic outcry: I was so busy this week I wasn’t able to send the full manuscript requested by Agent#1 right away. But I finally found the time today and hence went to the internet cafe to print my manuscript out. I triple checked that everything was correctly formatted. But I must have done SOMETHING wrong, because as the elephant-of-a-manuscript began to print, I noticed that some of the chapter headings were not formatted with the required “8 spaces down from the top”—but sometimes 3—other times 20—other times 10. Seeing some of the chapter headings at the very bottom of a page broke my heart. I wondered whether the agent would mind receiving a manuscript with bizarre chapter formatting. My agented friends/interning agent friends on Let The Words Flow warned me against it. So, I must spend another 30 bucks to reprint my manuscript properly. I will look at this as an investment. But after the initial frustration wore away, I became excited again. Whether Agent#1 signs me on or not, after reading The Runaway Courtesan, the very opportunity she’s given me of sharing my work with her is an honour in itself.

3) Yes, that is the photo of my manuscript, doubled-spaced, 311 pages long. Polished like it never was before. And so this leads me into my next rant of the day. I actually COULD have sent the manuscript to the agent right away. But do you know what caused the delay? While I thought everything was perfect, which was why I sent the rewrite of my partial to Agent#1 in the first place, my editor Val reviewed the last three chapters of TRC and was unsatisfied with it. I was like: Noooooo, I don’t want to know this now! But I’m glad I decided revise one last time. It was only after I read her critiques that I was able to see these chapters not through the eyes of the Omnipotent Writer, but as the Reader. From CH24 I was emotionally detached from my characters as I wrote. And Val picked up on this indifference in the flatness of my writing. And when I reread it with her edits in mind I saw exactly what she meant. It’s amazing how you can tell whether or not a novelist has her heart in her writing.

In the days that followed, scrambling to ready the manuscript as soon as I could, I went through one of THE MOST intense round of revising. It was one of the most frustrating, yet satisfying experiences I ever had. My schedule for last Thursday, Friday, Monday and today went something like this:

9:00am to 12pm-Write

12pm to 12:30pm – Eat Lunch

12:30pm to 8:00pm – Write

8:00pm to 8:30pm – Eat Dinner

8:30pm to 5:00am – Write

Very unhealth, I never want to go through this again. But I HAD to work this intensely because I needed to send the manuscript off within this week. It wasn’t all that tiring while I was working on my writing. I was having an adrenaline rush. So time flew. Yet, at the same time, it was emotionally exhausting. Like I said, the issue my chapters were having was that it was not emotionally engaging enough. So in order to fix this up I really had to put myself into the story. And the thing is, from CH24, The Runaway Courtesan gets pretty dark, with all its high drama. So from 9am until around 5am I was constantly forcing myself into the minds of either: 1) a socially condemned heroine in need of redemption, or 2) a tormented hero whose soul has been crushed by the woman he loves. Now I remember why I was so detached while writing these chapters. I think after getting through the previous 24 chapters, what with the characters tossing me about the emotional rollercoaster, by the time I reached CH24—I was pooped—I.did.not.want.to.deal.with.it. But I had to face up to it in the end. And now TRC is very complete at 86,000 words! I won’t be touched this story for the next several weeks because Agent#1 asked for an exclusive. This means I’m not allowed to query or send a partial/full of my manuscript to any other agent. I’m fine with that.

But then do you know what my editor says to me?–Go and work on my next book. *Faints* I think not, madam! However, I do have an idea for a new book. But it’s just too all over the place right now to begin writing. I need to develop it more. But I love the story idea, and it’s going to be another Regency noire. Now that’s all I’m going to say. Lips are sealed. I need time to get over TRC before I start a new book. Please tell me I’m not the only one who struggles to start a new book! I’m somewhat intimidated. So much work was put into TRC I’m almost afraid I won’t be able to repeat this feat.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who has subscribed to my blog! It makes me very happy! *hint, hint*

P.S.S. Below is the soundtrack that got me through the last chapter of TRC. I’m also open for recomendations! I’d love to know what you guys are listening to while writing.

Updating Blog at 4am

1) I’ve entered Rowenna’s book-give-away contest! This is my very FIRST contest ever that I’ve entered online. I’ll be bummed if I don’t win an autographed copy of one of her used books!!!! I hope she’ll hold several more contests. And reading her entry made me want to hold contests as well. Small ones. Maybe in the summer time.

2) Still waiting for the response from Agent#1 and 2. I am preparing myself for the worst. This isn’t because I’m a pessimist. I’m a fairly optimistic person in fact. But, ok, I’ll compromise, my attitute is called: Statistically logical pessimism. I’m sure that only one in every ten writers get signed on by an agent on her/his first try (the nine writers who got rejected–it doesn’t mean they’re any worse. It only means that they have not yet found THE Agent). Plus. The more pessimistic I am, the less disappointed I will be when rejected, and the more overjoyed I will be when asked for the full MS request. It all works out in the end. GAHHHH ok. To tell you the truth, I am rather hopeful about Agent#1, and I WILL BE SOMEWHAT devastated if she rejects me. She is the agent who, after exchanging a few emails back and forth with, made me do a 180 degree career change (in regards to which market I want to publish in). But, rest assured dear readers, I will forge on should I be plopped into a worst-case scenerio. Writers, when you get rejected, remember to tell yourself this: “My book is a story that MUST be told.” This ambition alone will drive you on, no matter how many rejections it takes.

3) My answer to LTWF question of the week: If you had to pick one “theme song” for your novel, what would it be? is being reposted onto my blog because the piece is just too beautiful to share on only one site:

I would pick Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ (movement 1 Allegro non molto) for my historical romance, THE RUNAWAY COURTESAN. When I began writing TRC two years ago, this piece was in my playlist, and though I’ve removed and added new songs to my list, ‘Winter’ has always remained. And it was actually this piece I was listening to while writing an outline for my book. Each note in ‘Winter’ struck a chord in my heart, flashed scenes before my eyes, of a fallen woman lost in the glamorous, yet decadent Regency society. Ahhh! It’s heartbreakingly lovely. There’s something about Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ that sends a shiver down my spine each time I listen to it.

4) I told Bennetts that when I finally visit England one day I would like to hire a historybuff so I might ask millions of questions that would be answered with great enthusiasm. His answer gave the term “Historybuff” a whole new etymology: Buff is the colour of my breeches. Historian is my job description. Yes, here is me and my ga-ga adoration of this most intelligent historical fic writer. Strain your eyes and admire him as I do.

5) I will try not to write blog posts so late at night/early in the morning. Badly done, June. And I didn’t even mean to write this comment. But an hour later I return to this post to add thought number 5. I think this is the con about being a novelist. If you have a keyboard beneath your fingertips, even though you’re writing utter nonesense, it’s still fun.

O.K. Goodnight!

Pre-Querying emotions: Butterflies in my tummy

OH MY GOD!!!!

I know, this is not the most professional way to start a post, but…OH MY GOD!!!

I am so exhilarated right now I think I’m going to cry. Yesterday Sarah Maas emailed me back the critique of my revised synopsis. She managed to compress the two pages into one page, as it should be. Then she also discussed my synopsis over with Alexander Shostak, who gave her input on how to improve the synopsis. Sarah afterwards sent me the revised, sparkling draft. I was, and am again, on the verge of tears when I think of how dedicated they are in helping me. I am so grateful to them and everyone else on Let the Words Flow. Now that I have my query and synopsis complete and polished I am so prepared for this Thursday! Alexandra advised me to send up to 10 queries rather than mass querying 40 letters. “That way” she writes “if by some horrible twist of fate you get more rejections that you do requests….you can re-examine your query/synopsis/first pages…” A very good advice indeed! My next blog entry will be titled “Post-Querying:______” and I’ll fill in the blank with whatever I was feeling.

Another event that topped my day was this: I printed out my manuscript and slipped it into an envelope for my sister to give to my former high school Writer’s Craft teacher. When the story of how my teacher reacted was accounted to me, I was all smiles, and nearly fainted from joy.

The rest of my life outside of writing, however, lacks lustre. I’m struggling with my two university courses that I had to take due to distribution requirements (*cough* sociology and geography *clears throat*). Struggling, as in, not studying, but being busy thinking about how I have so much to do to prepare for the exams. My European History and English Lit are going well though. I’m working on two massive essays right now for these classes. Though it is stressing at times I am still enjoying myself. To study, I go to Woodsworth college, where there is this narrow hall lined with desks where the lighting is dim with Second Cup nearby. I order random drinks (one day it was coffee, then Gingerbread latte, then London Fog, then Café Latte, and tomorrow it’s going to be hot Apples cider) and type away at my essay. Speaking of essays, I remember being scolded once by my history teacher when she was handing my paper back: “June, you were supposed to write an ACADEMIC report, not a NARRATIVE!” So yes, I must be academic, must repress my creativity and my tendency to ramble on with flowery sentences…

OH! One exciting event that will occur outside of my writing life is that I’ll be going to THE SOUND OF MUSIC musical this Friday! I am so hyped up right now.  Then the following Saturday I have no work because I booked the day off to study! I would much rather study than work.

The querying, the essays-going-well, the performance I am to attend—I haven’t been this happy in so long! I hope my happiness is contagious and will leap out of this page and affect you guys too!

Ode to Writing!

 I really have to update more often! University life is overwhelming …But, as Mr. Darcy in the ’95 adaptation says, “I will overcome this!”

1.
I must share with everyone the strangest incident that occurred last week. I was walking through campus, observing the colorful array of soggy leaves strewn across the damp sidewalk, then at the gothic 19th century architecture of our university (I love how UofT makes me feel like I’m at Hogwarts), but when I looked forward I saw someone I did not know, yet felt I should know. She had been on the phone, but came to a stumbling halt, her eyes fixed on me.

“June?” she asked, her voice hesitant.

I just stared. As the seconds passed by, this is all that went through my head: Oh….my…gosh. Oh my gosh. OH MY GOSH!!!

It turns out that she was Custos Morum on Fictionpress, my reader of two (ish?) years. We both recognized each other thanks to Facebook. But how coincidental IS this?! I knew we went to the same university. But our university is the size of a city. That we should walk into each other is… !!!! (for the lack of a better word). I told my LTWF blogger team about this and they shared stories about how they met up with their readers. Though we differed in how we met our readers, one thing is the same, which is: It is SO GREAT to meet, face to face, someone who appreciates your work.

2.
This Friday I met up with Kerrie. She’s the person I sat randomly next to on my second-ish day at my English Lit lecture. We began to talk about books and discovered that we both preferred the classics to contemporary literature and that we were both interested in the publishing industry and THEN that we were both novel writers! So when we lounged at a coffee shop, both of us sipping on our hot drinks, we talked on and on about writing. It’s always so nice meeting someone with the same aspirations as myself. Now we’re planning on making a literary/writing group with a more intimate environment than the one at school. We’re going for a Bloomsbury kind of group. The thought of recreating such a group is so very, very appealing *dreamy sigh*. We’re going to meet up another week to plan this out. Then we need to start recruiting members.

3.
The query letter is FINISHED (got the thumbs up from both Sarah and Alexandra). The synopsis is 40% complete. Sarah J. Maas returned her review of my synopsis rewrite and gave me her stamp of approval–for the general structure of it, that is. There is still a lot to fix and phrases to amp. But I’m getting there! Eeeeh so excited. As I wrote on my Facebook display name this week (paraphrasing):

I CANNOT wait to start querying. Even if I get rejected, I’ll still be excited, saying something like this: YAY an agent WROTE back to ME!

Is anyone else in their querying stage? How did you feel and deal with rejection? Please help me prepare myself…*nervous laughter* As optimistic as I might sound now, I think it’s because the reality of what I’m about to do, has not yet registered in my mind.