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Blurb: Resolved to forget Elizabeth Bennet during a winter in London, Fitzwilliam Darcy writes a letter in bitterness of spirit. Frustrated by her growing obsession with the arrogant man, Elizabeth commits her thoughts to paper. But angry people are not always wise, and secret thoughts do not always remain secret. Compelled to face their selfishness and fears, their actions encourage those dearest to them to change as well.
I tend to be rather critical of myself. I often wish life came with a do-over option. A simple example is when I will repeat the first five bars of a song on the piano until I get it right, or I repeatedly take the same quiz online in order to memorize all United Nations recognized nations of the world, or repeatedly test myself to learn the monarchs of England and France in order. A more complex example is my first pregnancy. I was miserable because I was moving across country and changed my primary care three times. I had gestational diabetes and later high blood pressure. But I felt I simultaneously worried too much and yet spoke up too little. I wish I could do that time over. When I got pregnant again I suffered with a kidney infection throughout. It was hardly more pleasant but I did stand up for myself more and I worried less about mine and the baby’s health. Another complicated example is my college trip to China, which I was sick during. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to manage a do-over on that one...
Letters from the Heart began as “The Best Laid Plans.” It was a themed short story with a word count limit. It was actually only the second serial JAFF story I wrote. The first one began the same way and I drastically went over the word limit, so for this particular prompt I wanted to challenge myself to remain within the limit. And I did; except the ending was terribly rushed. It was like falling off a cliff and ending on 7,999 words.
I had used a vague outline, but drastically underestimated how much space it would take to accomplish. So, that was a learning lesson and I actually haven’t done a word limit story since. After finishing my full-length novel, which I hope to have out in Spring 2015, I pulled back out “The Best Laid Plans.” I gave it the ending I thought it deserved and expanded a few other parts as well. It ended up double the original length.
I also had the benefit of betas who helped fine tune things and are a savior for me with finding the best sentence structure and correcting my grammar and punctuation. I should probably have a little pocket-beta to carry with me all the time, in case you couldn’t guess from this post. After these edits, the story got a new title, “Knowing You by Heart,” and was well received online.
A few months later I was talking with a friend about publishing this one as I was struggling with edits for my novel and she read through the story again and suggested I expand it further. After some thought I really saw the opportunities. This was like the ultimate do-over, the ultimate chance to get the story right. Freeing myself of what I thought a short story should be was illuminating. I felt like I really understood the characters so much better and had some very nice surprises by minor characters like Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Jane and Bingley and even Lydia!
Some may think I’m a bit crazy or neurotic to put so much effort into working on a story that was already finished two other times, but it will nag me forever if I have regrets. And isn’t that the heart of Pride and Prejudice? Our lovely couple have a host of regrets before their happy resolution.
In Letters from the Heart it’s done a bit differently—letters for the original confrontation instead of verbally—but Darcy and Elizabeth are not the only ones to face their regrets. Will Bingley return to Hertfordshire with Darcy? Does Jane regret being so reserved? When Mr. and Mrs. Bennet learn of the poor image they project to the world and set for their daughters to follow, what will they do? And can even the youngest members of the story—Georgiana and Lydia—learn to face their failures? More than all this, once you’ve created this new opportunity for yourself, what on earth do you do next? Can you ever really be free of your fears and regret? Or like me and my second pregnancy do you just find something new to incessantly worry about?
To quote a lovely review I’ve received:
Author bio:“Love is the opposite of fear, not courage.”*
*Courtesy of Amazon reviewer: Avid Reader
Rose Fairbanks fell in love with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy twelve years ago. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, she also met her real life Mr. Darcy twelve years ago. They had their series of missteps, just like Elizabeth and Darcy, but are now teaching the admiring multitude what happiness in marriage really looks like and have been blessed with two children, a four year old son and a one year old daughter. She proudly admits to her Darcy obsession, addictions to reading, chocolate and sweet tea, is always in the mood for a good debate and dearly loves to laugh.
You can connect with Rose on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog: rosefairbanks.com.
Rose has very kindly offered to giveaway an ebook of 'Letters from the Heart' to a commenter on this post. This giveaway is open to international entrants, and the closing date is 26 December 2014. Please leave a way for me to contact you, twitter handle, email address etc. Many thanks to Rose for the guest post and giveaway!