Jane and the Waterloo Map by Stephanie Barron Blog Tour + GIVEAWAY

Waterloo cover x 350When I was first asked to join the blog tour for Jane and the Waterloo Map by Stephanie Barron, I was super excited. It’s been a while since I’ve read the other books in the Jane Austen Mysteries series, but I remember loving the idea of Jane Austen as a sleuth. It’s obvious that Jane was observant in real life, as her observations and commentary on the societal events of the day were both astute and very progressive. Therefore it’s not exactly a stretch to think that she would be observant enough to solve mysteries. From the great success that Barron has had so far, it’s clear that many other people agree with me and have loved to see Jane in this new and exciting role. This time we follow Jane as she embarks on an exciting treasure hunt that has very dangerous and real implications. (Below the book blurb and author bio are giveaway instructions so you can win your own copy!)

Book Blurb:

November, 1815. The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, high-flying banker, is about to declare bankruptcy—dragging several of his brothers down with him. The crisis destroys Henry’s health, and Jane flies to his London bedside, believing him to be dying. While she’s there, the chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent invites Jane to tour Carlton House, the Prince’s fabulous London home. The chaplain is a fan of Jane’s books, and during the tour he suggests she dedicate her next novel—Emma—to HRH, whom she despises.

However, before she can speak to HRH, Jane stumbles upon a body—sprawled on the carpet in the Regent’s library. The dying man, Colonel MacFarland, was a cavalry hero and a friend of Wellington’s. He utters a single failing phrase: “Waterloo map” . . . and Jane is on the hunt for a treasure of incalculable value and a killer of considerable cunning.

Jane and the Waterloo Map by Stephanie Barron
Soho Crime (2016)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN: 9781616954253

Author Bio:

Stephanie Barron headshot 2016 photo credit Marea Evans x 150Stephanie Barron was born in Binghamton, New York, the last of six girls. She attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Since then, she has written fifteen books. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Learn more about Stephanie and her books at her website, visit her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Grand Giveaway Contest

Win One of Three Fabulous Prizes

Waterloo Map Blog Tour Prizes x 500

In celebration of the release of Jane and the Waterloo Map, Stephanie is offering a chance to win one of three prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on Jane and the Waterloo Map Blog Tour starting February 02, 2016 through 11:59 pm PT, February 29, 2016. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Stephanie’s website on March 3, 2016. Winners have until March 10, 2016 to claim their prize. Shipment is to US addresses. Good luck to all!

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Winners Announced in the Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

aafThree people have been chosen winners in the Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

Congratulations to:

  1. HOLLY who left a comment on February 15th
  2. Erin @ ITIO Book Reviews who left a comment on February 15th
  3. Christina B who left a comment on February 22nd

Please contact me with your mailing address by Tuesday March 2, 2015 to claim your prize.

Thank you to all who participated and left comments!

Happy Valentine’s Day Giveaway!!

heart-bookHappy Valentine’s Day readers! As promised, I’m hosting a Valentine’s Day giveaway! Instead of books for reading, I’m offering up three books for art! Three winners will be chosen to each receive one ArtFolds folded book. What is an ArtFolds folded book you ask? They are real books, folded into words (see the pictures below for examples.) Giveaway instructions are below the photo.

The three options you have to win are:

  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery folded into the word “Joy”
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen folded into the word “Love”
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte folded into the word “Read”



Three lucky winners will have the opportunity to each win ONE ArtFolds book!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Sunday, February 22, 2015.  Winners will be picked at random and announced on Monday, February 23, 2015.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James Blog Tour + GIVEAWAY

Jane Austen fans, you’re in for a treat today!  We’ve all wondered where the inspiration behind Jane Austen’s novels came from.  Did the events of her teen years inspire Emma or Northanger Abbey? Did a lost love later in life result in her writing Persuasion? And was there a real life Mr. Darcy!?  Syrie James delves into Jane’s teen life, and explores these ideas in her latest novel, Jane Austen’s First Love. Following the book blurb and author bio are instructions on how you can win an amazing Jane Austen themed book package!

Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James 2014 x 350Book Blurb:

In the summer of 1791, fifteen-year-old Miss Jane Austen is determined to accomplish three things: to do something useful, write something worthy, and fall madly in love. While visiting at Goodnestone Park in Kent for a month of festivities in honor of her brother’s engagement to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, Jane meets the boy-next-door—the wealthy, worldly, and devilishly handsome Edward Taylor, heir to Bifrons Park, and hopefully her heart! Like many of Jane’s future heroes and heroines, she soon realizes that there are obstacles—social, financial, and otherwise—blocking her path to love and marriage, one of them personified by her beautiful and sweet-tempered rival, Charlotte Payler.

Unsure of her own budding romance, but confident in her powers of observation, Jane distracts herself by attempting to maneuver the affections of three other young couples. But when her well-intentioned matchmaking efforts turn into blundering misalliance, Jane must choose between following her own happily ever after, or repairing those relationships which, based on erroneous first impressions, she has misaligned.

Syrie James headshot 2012 x 250Author Bio:

Syrie James, hailed as “the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings” by Los Angeles Magazine, is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels that have been translated into 18 languages. Her books have been awarded the Audio Book Association Audie, designated as Editor’s Picks by Library Journal, named a Discover Great New Writer’s Selection by Barnes and Noble, a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association, and Best Book of the Year by The Romance Reviews and Suspense Magazine. Syrie is a member of the WGA and lives in Los Angeles. Please visit her at syriejames.com, Facebook or say hello on Twitter @SyrieJames.

Grand Giveaway Contest Details:

Win One of Five Fabulous Jane Austen-inspired Prize Packages

JAFL Grand Prize x 420

 To celebrate the holidays and the release of Jane Austen’s First Love, Syrie is giving away five prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!
To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any of the blog stops on the Jane Austen’s First Love Holiday Blog Tour.

Increase your chances of winning by visiting multiple stops along the tour! Syrie’s unique guest posts will be featured on a variety of subjects, along with fun interviews, spotlights, excerpts, and reviews of the novel. Contest closes at 11:59pm PT, December 21, 2014. Five lucky winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments on the tour, and announced on Syrie’s website on December 22, 2014. The giveaway contest is open to everyone, including international residents. Good luck to all!

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Sam’s Review of Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin

alpomhI wonder what it’s like to be Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriend. I’m not talking about the likes of Joe Jonas or John Mayer. What about that high school kid with the pick up truck? The one whose pictures T-Swift so publicly burned on her first album. Do the people back home know him? Make sideways glances when they see him at the local diner? What’s his life like now? Does he keep it a secret or does he let the world know that he really does think of the curly-haired blonde whenever he hears a Tim McGraw song? Well, it seems that I’m not the only pop culture obsessed fangirl, because in Another Little Piece of My Heart (based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion), author Tracey Martin explores this very idea.

From Goodreads:

What if your devastating break-up became this summer’s hit single? In this rock-and-roll retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, music can either bring you together or tear you apart.

At her dying mother’s request, Claire dumps Jared, the only boy she’s ever loved. Left with a broken family and a broken heart, Claire is furious when she discovers that her biggest regret became Jared’s big break. While Jared is catapulted into rock-star status, another piece of Claire’s heart crumbles every time his song plays on the radio.

The summer after her senior year, it’s been months since the big break-up, and Claire is just trying to keep her head down and make it through a tense trip to the beach with her family. But when Jared shows up, and old feelings reignite, can Claire and Jared let go of the past? Or will they be stuck singing the same old refrain?

What I loved about this book: it’s unapologetically YA. What I had trouble with about this book: it’s unapologetically YA.

Claire is a delight as a narrator. She is down to earth, unsure of herself, and still dealing with the aftermath of a bad break up. In a nutshell, she’s a girlfriend, someone you’ve known your whole life. Claire tries desperately to hide her past with Jared. She doesn’t want to be the girl who broke his heart. Imagine what Justin Bieber’s fans would do to a girl who hurt him? Yea. I wouldn’t want to be that girl. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with someone famous the world seems a little smaller. His face is everywhere. The song is on the radio. How can you escape? It’s bad enough that Claire has to worry about running into this boy back home, but she should be safe while on vacation several states away, right?

This is where YA takes a few liberties. Of all the beaches in world, Jared, the superstar, just so happens to coincidentally be spending the summer at the exact same one as Claire? Also, he just so happens to be living in a college dorm with a buddy from home? With no security? With NO ONE TWEETING ABOUT IT? Yea. Right. That’s how I knew this was most certainly a fiction. It’s 2014. The hot guy with several Grammys to his name would never be able to camp out and write songs for an entire summer without people bombarding him. All Jared had to contend with was a few respectful and well-meaning fans who quietly asked for autographs and respected his privacy. Ok.

At its heart I have to say that this was a very well executed piece. I found myself very wrapped up in the story. My teenage self was all about it. I liked the idea of Claire’s story, the girl who made her ex-boyfriend’s fame possible.

We all know that the best writers of songs and books draw on their real life experiences. It’s what makes the stories so compelling; they are grounded in truth. What sometimes gets lost in translation is that there are actual, non-famous counterparts on the other sides of those stories. People with hopes, dreams, and feelings. Is it fair to vent on paper and become famous off of a shared life experience? Who is the owner of something that happened behind closed doors? If these are questions you want to grapple with on a Sunday afternoon I highly recommend this ah-dorable, fast paced tale.

4 out of 5 Stars

Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin
Harlequin (2013)
eBook: 304 pages
ISBN: 9781459254749

Special thanks to Ms. Martin for my review copy!

Project Darcy by Jane Odiwe, Excerpt + GIVEAWAY

Please help me in welcoming author Jane Odiwe to the blog as she discusses and shares an excerpt of her newest book, Project Darcy.  As a special thank you to her readers, she’s offering up a paperback copy of the book in an international giveaway! Details will be at the end of the post. Welcome, Jane!

Thank you so much, Kim, for hosting me on your blog today to talk about my new timeslip book, Project Darcy.

JaneCassandraI’ve loved doing the research for the book – settings include scenes in Hampshire, in and around Steventon Rectory where Jane Austen lived as a young girl, and at some of the big houses in the area that Jane Austen knew, like Deane House, and Manydown Park, as well as in Bath and Devon. Then there is the timeslip element – in the present, five friends volunteer for an archaeological dig taking place on the site of the old rectory – like the Bennet sisters from Pride and Prejudice, the five girls share similar initials and characteristics – their names are Ellie, Jess, Martha, Cara and Liberty. In the past, Ellie sees life through Jane’s eyes at Steventon with the Austen family and their neighbours during the Christmas period of 1795/96, and, in particular, she lives out Jane’s reactions and experiences with a young Irishman, Tom Lefroy, falling in love like she’s never done before.

Weaving two stories is always great fun, and I had a lovely time travelling from the present to the past with Ellie who experiences increasingly strange phenomena – she’s always had a talent for ‘seeing’ into the past, and finds herself being transported to another time – living life as Jane Austen lived it in 1795/96.

Ashe ball-1It’s the start of summer when the girls arrive in Steventon and they’re all enjoying the warm weather at Ashe Rectory where they are staying. In this excerpt, Ellie and the girls have just been to a welcome party for the archaeological dig, and they’ve all had a lovely time, meeting lots of new friends …

It was dark by the time the taxi turned in at Ashe Rectory. The chatter all the way home had been about the day’s events and the day to come. Liberty was delighted with the way that Greg had responded, and Jess was already privately thinking that Charlie seemed like a young man she’d like to know better. Cara had been in awe of the whole proceedings and had watched Liberty in action with admiration. Martha was disappointed that she hadn’t got to speak to Will MacGourtey but knew that the chances to do so would be increased on the following day. Ellie, quite simply, felt exhausted. She was pleased that Jess had found someone who seemed as sweet as she, but she’d been a bit disturbed by the fact that the person who seemed to be his closest friend was clearly idiotic, and that was putting it politely.

She looked out of the window watching the car headlamps lighting up the narrow lanes. Cow parsley, frothing white in the hedgerows, loomed and tapped on the car windows, and the branches of summer trees arched over them like fan vaulting in a cathedral. Summer in all her lush greenery flashed past in a blink of the eye. Ellie felt her eyes closing, the rhythm of the car lulling her to sleep, and it was only when she felt the car stop that Ellie looked out once more. She shivered in her thin top. And it wasn’t only her tiredness and the lack of sunshine that made her feel quite so cold. The scene she saw outside could not be explained. There was a picture from a Christmas card in front of her – snow covered the ground, lit up from the moon above and from the candlelight in the windows, which threw bars of gold against the blue snow shadowed by tall trees. Powdering every surface, snow crystals were piled in pillows up to the steps and weighed down lacy boughs on trees, bending them to the smooth white blankets on the ground. The house was alight, the gardens and surrounding fields, dark, icy and mysterious. Feathery showers whirled to the earth, and as Ellie peered through the swirling snow she glimpsed moving figures at the windows. Like enchanted shadows at first, the spectres became alive, vital with life, real. It looked like a party, the rooms were full, and the strains of music, a piano and a harp, could be heard.

I’ve had a wonderful time writing this book, and imagining all the scenes – I’d love to know – which is your favourite season – are you a summer or a winter person?

Book Blurb:

ProjectDarcyCover-09-10-13It is high summer when Ellie Bentley joins an archaeological dig at Jane Austen’s childhood home. She’s always had a talent for ‘seeing’ into the past and is not easily disturbed by her encounters with Mr Darcy’s ghost at the house where she’s staying.

When Ellie travels into the past she discovers exactly what happened whilst Jane danced her way through the snowy winter of 1796 with her dashing Irish friend. As Steventon Rectory and all its characters come to life, Ellie discovers the true love story lost in Pride and Prejudice – a tale which has its own consequences for her future destiny, changing her life beyond imagination.

Author Bio

janeodiweJane Odiwe is the author of five Austen-inspired novels, Project Darcy, Searching for Captain Wentworth, Mr Darcy’s Secret, Willoughby’s Return, and Lydia Bennet’s Story, and is a contributor to Laurel Ann Nattress’s anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, with a short story, Waiting.  You can connect with her through any of the links below!

Austen Effusions – Jane Austen Sequels – Twitter – Facebook – Pinterest

Giveaway – Special thanks to Jane Odiwe for our giveaway copy!

One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a paperback copy of Project Darcy by Jane Odiwe!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Saturday, December 7, 2013.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Sunday, December 8, 2013.  Open to all.  Good luck!

It’s The “We’re Moving” Giveaway!

First, I need to apologize for the severe lack of blogging that occurred in August.  There have been some big changes happening here in the Ryder household.  Some of you may have already heard the news, but in case you haven’t……I’m moving! Well, staffer Todd and I are moving!  Todd got a great job offer in our home state of New Jersey, so it’s off we go.  As packing for the move has begun Todd and I have started sorting through all our belongings and deciding on what won’t be making it to NJ with us.  While packing our many books away (I think the final tally was 25 boxes) we came across a number of them that we’d like to give away.  (Giveaway instructions below the list)

  1. Wideacre (Wideacre Trilogy #1) by Philippa Gregory – Paperback
  2. The Favored Child (Wideacre Trilogy #2) b Philippa Gregory – Paperback
  3. The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian – Paperback
  4. Murder Most Austen (Elizabeth Parker Mystery #4) by Tracy Kiely – Hardcover
  5. The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview – Paperback
  6. Earth in the Balance by Al Gore – Paperback
  7. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – Paperback
  8. Boardwalk Empire by Nelson Johnson – Paperback
  9. Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange – Paperback
  10. Expectations of Happiness by Rebecca Ann Collins – Paperback
  11. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe – Hardcover
  12. The Darcys & The Bingleys (Pride and Prejudice Continues #1) by Marsha Altman – Paperback


Twelve lucky winners will have the opportunity to win their choice of one of the above twelve books!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Monday, September 9, 2013.  Winners will be picked at random and announced on Tuesday, September 10, 2013.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

Kim’s Guest Review of Spank Me, Mr. Darcy by Lissa Trevor

smmdltMy super-bestest reading buddy Kelly (from Reading with Analysis) and I decided to take a walk on the wild side and read Spank Me, Mr. Darcy by Lissa Trevor.  I know what you’re already thinking, “WHAT?” Yeah. I hear you.

Anyhoo, we dual-reviewed the book honestly (and hysterically I might add) just as you’ve come to expect from us. There’s even a fun pros and cons list! You can find our review here.  Leave us some love. We love love.

This is my seventh completed review for the Pride and  Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge.

Kim’s Review of The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZebnik

ttwfIt’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.  You can go so far as to say that it’s my least favorite of all of her works.  It is mainly due to the fact that in my eyes Fanny Price is too meek, too quiet, and so willing to just sit in the wings and wait for what she wants instead of going after it on her own.  My motto in life is “life is what you make of it.”  You have to go after the things you want. If you expect everything to come to you…..well that’s just lazy.

I’m always interested in hearing about modern adaptations of Mansfield Park because I’m so curious to see what writers do with Fanny’s character.  It’s difficult to make introverted characters interesting and appealing…..especially for the YA crowd.  When I heard Claire LaZebnik had written an adaptation, The Trouble With Flirting, I was instantly interested.  Her YA adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (Epic Fail) had me seriously impressed with how she seamlessly transitioned the story from classic literature to a youthful adaptation. (Check out her guest post on the joys and perils of adapting Austen) Knowing all of this I bet you’re asking yourself, “Why did she read this if she dislikes the novel it’s based on?”  I knew that LaZebnik had made some significant changes to the story and the characters.  It’s the mysterious of the unknown changes that had me totally willing to give it a shot.

Franny Pearson, like most teenagers, begrudgingly takes a summer job in order to earn a little spending money.  She takes a job helping her aunt, the costume designer for the prestigious Mansfield Summer Theater Program.  Although she must spend most of her time behind a sewing machine, she gets to be in close proximity to her crush, Alex Braverman.  Alex, on the other hand, barely acknowledges her existence, and is more interested in the girl in the leading role, Isabella.  Although this hurts Franny, she becomes distracted by Harry Cartwright, a notorious flirt in the program.  As she becomes more involved with Harry, Franny’s life becomes more complicated as Alex suddenly becomes much more interested in her than he was before.  Was this flirting more trouble than it was worth?

I feel that I first must say THANK YOU CLAIRE LAZEBNIK FOR MAKING MANSFIELD PARK INTERESTING (and for giving Franny some backbone!)  I’m seriously so surprised at how hooked I was with The Trouble With Flirting.  LaZebnik’s writing is superb, witty, sharp,  funny, touching, and relatable.  LaZebnik’s Franny is a true accomplishment.  She has all of the characteristics that I wish Fanny Price had.  Austen purists will probably have a problem with the changes LaZebnik made, but I think that in today’s modern world a woman isn’t frowned upon for going after what she wants (even if what she wants is a man).  LaZebnik’s changes make sense and make Franny more interesting and appealing to a younger audience.

Where LaZebnik truly shines as a writer is definitely in her dialogue.  The witty banter between Harry and Franny had me laughing out loud fairly frequently.  Their attraction to each other quite literally jumps off the pages and hooks you.  You truly get a sense of the characters’ emotions and feelings through the dialogue.  The stress and uneasiness in Alex and Isabella’s relationship is apparent as are the self-confidence issues that Isabella and Julia feel; the strained relationships between Franny and her Aunt Amelia and Marie and her sometimes boyfriends James are all examples of this.

I truly think teens will enjoy this adaptation.  The similarities to life at that age are abundantly clear.  All the angst over who likes who, all the jealousy of the girl who gets the guy you want, the depression over losing your first love, the spark of new friendships and relationships….it’s all there.  If you haven’t yet read any of LaZebnik’s books I suggest you give them a try.  Her ability to get into the teenage mind is simply uncanny.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Trouble With Flirting by Claire LaZebnik
HarperTeen (2013)
Paperback: 313 pages
ISBN: 9780061921278

Special thanks to HarperTeen for my review copy!

The Joys and Perils of Adapting Austen by Claire LaZebnik, author of The Trouble With Flirting

I’m super happy to have author Claire LaZebnik on the blog today.  Claire is the author of several YA, women’s literature, and parenting books.  I had the pleasure of reading her first YA book Epic Faila modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, back in late 2011 and remember being so impressed with her ability to keep Austen’s works fresh and alive for a new audience.  Claire’s latest book, The Trouble With Flirting, is a modern adaptation of Mansfield Park.  Please join me in welcoming her as she discusses the joys and perils of adapting Jane Austen!

efI’ve had the great honor and pleasure of loosely adapting and modernizing three Austen novels for a young adult readership. I found different challenges in each book—plot twists or character traits that felt out-of-place in today’s world, and which I had to reimagine—but the romances and the emotions ring as true today as they ever did. (Which makes me think of Elizabeth Bennet’s line about Darcy: “In essentials, I believe, he is very much what he ever was.” Applies to human nature, too.)

Epic Fail is my update of Pride and Prejudice: I set it at a Los Angeles high school, and most of it felt right at home there. Take for example Lizzie Bennet’s refusal to swoon over Darcy like the other girls, just because he’s rich and attractive, a stance which leads her instead to believe the worst about him.

Jumping to unfair conclusions about someone you barely know? Yeah, I think we can all admit to doing that at least once or a thousand times back in high school.

Equally relatable is Elizabeth’s horror when her family embarrasses her out in public. We’ve all been there. There’s a reason we used to jump quickly in the car when our mother or father came to pick us up—we were hoping to close the door before they could actually say anything our friends might hear.

But some parts of P&P didn’t update so well. The first was the horror of Wickham and Lydia’s running away together. Let’s face it: an unmarried young man and young woman spending time alone (presumably having sex) isn’t quite the earthshattering event it was back in Austen’s day. I had to find something sleazy and disturbing and high school appropriate for Wickham to do that wasn’t that. My other challenge was finding a way to make Darcy a target of excessive attention and fawning: we don’t have the same kind of class system in America now that England did in the early 19th century.

In the end, I solved both problems at once: I realized that in modern-day Los Angeles, no one gets fawned on (or hounded) as much as celebrities and their children. The Darcy character became the son of two movie stars, and the Wickham character became someone determined to exploit that family’s fame—in some very icky ways.

ttwfWhen I turned my attention to Mansfield Park, I found a very different challenge. The storyline totally worked in today’s world—what teenage girl  hasn’t at some point felt overlooked and underappreciated by the object of her affection?—especially when I set it at a summer acting program where the main character has to work while everyone else gets to act and play.

But while Elizabeth Bennet feels very much like a girl who would be at home in today’s world, Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price most decidedly does not. She’s long-suffering, quiet, patient, faithful, weak, devout . . .


I’m sorry—I do honestly love little Fanny. Whenever I reread the novel, I root for her to be noticed and appreciated with every fiber of my being, and I wanted my own readers to feel equally passionate about my Franny (I added an “r”).  But for that to happen, I felt like I had to make some changes.

The original Fanny lived in a world where a poor girl’s only power came in attracting the right suitors and rejecting the wrong ones. I think we can all agree that times have—thankfully—changed. In my novel, Franny is very much a modern woman: strong, funny, self-sufficient, and capable of forging her own destiny.

What I didn’t realize was that changing her personality would also force me to alter the ending of my novel, which originally followed Austen’s closely. I don’t want to ruin The Trouble with Flirting for anyone who hasn’t read it, so I’ll just say that I couldn’t let Franny end up with someone who took too long to appreciate her.

Most recently, I finished up my third Austen-based YA novel, a tribute to Persuasion, tentatively titled The Last Best Kiss (due out from HarperTeen in summer, 2014). Ironically, this wistful novel about regret and lost youth was in many ways the easiest Austen to translate into today’s high school world. After all, who feels more pressure from her peers to go out with the “right” kind of guy than a teenager? And, while Anne Elliot may, like Fanny Price, watch helplessly from the sidelines as the man she loves chases after someone else, she’s also a very smart woman with a good head in a crisis. She actively redeems herself, while Fanny just waits. And waits . . . So that, too, made this adaptation easier than the previous one.

It’s been fascinating to see which aspects of Austen’s novels transcend time and which ones don’t. Communication has changed drastically in the last two hundred years: we no longer have to wait days for precious information. We entertain ourselves differently: no more balls, with their elaborate rules and customs; instead we group ourselves around a computer and watch YouTube videos. We don’t defer to our “superiors” in wealth and class—in fact, we’ll fight anyone who would even dare to call himself our superior. And women’s control over their destinies is no longer limited to whom they choose to marry.

But when it comes to our emotional lives—to the ways in which we fall in love, experience regret, feel embarrassed and also cherished by our families, and nurture hope for our futures—in those, we are in essentials, very much what we ever were.

DSC_0395_2Author Bio:

Claire LaZebnik has written two novels for HarperTeen, Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting, with a third (tentatively titled The Last Best Kiss) due out summer 2014. She has also written five novels for adults, including Knitting under the Influence and The Smart One and the Pretty One. With Dr. Lynn Kern Koegel, she co-wrote the nonfiction books Overcoming Autism and Growing up on the Spectrum. She contributed to an anthology play called Motherhood Out Loud, and has been published in The New York Times, Self, Vogue and other magazines. She currently lives in the Pacific Palisades with her husband Rob, who’s a co-executive producer for The Simpsons, and their four kids. Her website is www.clairelazebnik.com.