Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guest Post: Susan Adriani

Please join me in welcoming Susan Adriani! Susan is here to talk about her first experience with the publishing world and her new book, The Truth About Mr. Darcy. Please check out my review of her book here on Debbie's Book Bag later today. Susan has also provided a an excerpt from her book at the end of the post.

Over the past several years I've read some varying accounts from authors about their book publishing experiences. More often than not, they've included the mention of unfeeling editors, manuscripts being ripped to shreds, and an endless number of re-writes that will ultimately yield a product that bears very little resemblance to the book that was initially written. I am very happy to say this was not my experience at all when Sourcebooks offered to publish my book, The Truth About Mr. Darcy, which I'd originally self-published as Affinity and Affection.

To be honest, I had a very positive experience from the moment of conception all the way through to publication, but I'm by no means naive enough not to realize this doesn't seem to be the norm in the publishing world, which, from an outsider's point of view, can be an extremely daunting place. I was lucky—very lucky.

I began writing my novel after it became obvious to me that being a stay-at-home mother of a young child and working on commissioned illustration were two things that did not appear to be mixing well in my house. Finding an alternate outlet to deal with my fraying nerves soon became tantamount to keeping my sanity. Writing turned out to be the perfect solution, and what better subject than one I'd felt passionately about for many years—Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, where so many untried possibilities tempted and teased my imagination on a daily basis?

It took me close to a year to write it, but once my story was completed, I posted it in serial form in an online community devoted to Jane Austen fan fiction, under the title Affinity and Affection. To my surprise and delight, it garnered quite a following. I was urged by several readers and friends to self-publish, and thinking there was little chance a traditional publisher would be interested in my book, did just that. (For the record, self-publishing was another experience entirely!)

A year later, I received an email from Abigail Reynolds, who I'd gotten to know through our participation in the JAFF community. She told me that her editor, Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks, was currently very interested in my self-published book. I sent her my manuscript, and waited on pins and needles. A month later I received an offer from Deb, and a month after that I was officially signed on as one of Sourcebooks' authors.

And thus the real fretting began! What changes will they force me to make? Will I have to re-write the entire book? What if it doesn't feel like my story, or my writing style is compromised? But to my relief, none of those things happened—not even close. Deb and the other talented editors at Sourcebooks were supportive and compassionate, and very interested in and focused on preserving the feel and flow of my story and style. As it turned out, the biggest change was the book's title, which, looking back now, I dearly wish the marketing department hadn't voted to change at all—it would have eliminated a world of confusion among readers who may yet be unaware of the title change, and one large headache for me, as I diligently point it out everywhere I go!

When I think about how I got started writing Jane Austen-inspired fiction, and where the experience has taken me, I can't help but shake my head and laugh. Never in a million years did I think I'd walk into a book store someday to see a novel I wrote perched on the shelves; but I was able to do just that two weeks ago, when The Truth About Mr. Darcy was released on May 1st. It was a fantastic feeling—if not completely surreal!—and one I'm entirely grateful to have.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post today, but especially to Debbie, for having me as her guest. I'd like to leave you with an excerpt from my book, The Truth About Mr. Darcy (formerly self-published as Affinity and Affection). I hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed being here with you today. Thank you again, your kindness is much appreciated!

Excerpt, The Truth About Mr. Darcy—

By the time they arrived home, it was very late, and Elizabeth wanted nothing more than to retire to the warmth and comfort of Darcy’s arms. She quickly dressed for bed and joined him in his room, slipping beneath the counterpane to be enveloped by her husband’s embrace. She sighed in contentment as his lips caressed her curls. “How I have longed to have you to myself all evening,” he murmured against her hair. “You looked beautiful tonight in your crimson gown. I daresay you must have done it on purpose to torture me.”

Elizabeth let out a soft laugh as she snuggled against his chest. “Yes, I see you have finally figured it out, Fitzwilliam! No, my vanity will never again be satisfied with my being considered only tolerable. Heaven forbid you should once again find me ‘not handsome enough to tempt you’! As the wife of the formidable Mr. Darcy of Pemberley, it would be most unpardonable on my part. And you are now well aware that I loathe to be a cause of disappointment to you, my dearest husband.”

“You delight in teasing me, do you? Shall those wretched words never cease to haunt me, Elizabeth?” he asked with a rueful smile. Then, in a more serious tone, he said, “It was extremely ill-mannered of me to ever utter such an untruth. Though it is hardly an excuse, I fear I was far from being in a good humor that evening. I am afraid I was prepared to say anything to have Bingley leave me in peace, even at the risk of wounding the most beautiful young lady at the assembly.” His fingers skimmed over her shoulder, sending shivers of desire through Elizabeth. “I do not believe I have ever regretted saying anything more in my life than I have those words. Will you never forgive me?”

“My love”—she laughed lightly—“I hardly think I would have married you one week ago had I not already done so.” She tilted her head up to him in order to look upon his face. “Truly, Fitzwilliam, it has long been forgot; however, as your wife, I must reserve the right to tease you about it on occasion.”

“Apparently, it has not been long forgot, but very well, my lovely wife, if you insist, I must then reserve the right to do this on occasion.” He then leaned in to kiss her. “Do you object, Mrs. Darcy?” he whispered.

She swallowed and, with heavily lidded eyes, shook her head. “Who am I to object to something that brings us both such pleasure?”

“Elizabeth,” he said in a ragged voice, his eyes filled with desire, “you cannot possibly know the true extent of what loving you has done to me. You have become everything to me, Elizabeth—everything.”

He kissed her again, teasing her lips apart with his tongue so he could taste all the delights of her mouth as he clasped her body firmly against his. “Everything,” he breathed, over and over again. “Everything,” as he slowly eased her back onto the pillows and covered her body with his. “Everything,” as he tasted and tantalized her in all the ways he knew would bring her pleasure, and finally, a softly gasped, “Lizzy,” as he skillfully brought them both over the edge of their passion, the familiar, dizzying waves of ecstasy washing over them in a release so poignant, so powerful, it would cost them every remaining ounce of energy they possessed between them.

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