Category Archives: My Jane Austen

I Sat Next to Jane Austen at Her Birthday Lunch

Members of JASNA North Texas Attend Jane Austen's Birthday Luncheon

The Jane Austen Society of North Texas celebrated Jane Austen’s 235th birthday and I sat next to Jane at the luncheon.  Everyone thought she was a regular Janeite in period dress but I saw her struggle with the escalator, noted how she walked behind me into the dining room on account of unmarried ladies go last, and grimaced when I mentioned I’d written a book called My Jane Austen Summer.  Nobody in JASNA grimaces at Jane Austen, Summer or not. 

She didn’t talk much, but she wrote on ivory squares, and, being close, I could look sideways without moving my head and secretly read her notes.  She wrote:   

Let other dead authors dwell on posthumous fame and birthdays, my hair is at least tidy, which is all my ambition.

Jane Austen listened very carefully to the guest speaker’s talk entitled, “Sense and Sensibility: Jane Austen’s Problem Novel”.  Jane wrote:  

Problem Novel?  Abuse everybody but me.

I passed her a note, asking her if she’d like to speak to the group, stressing that her ability to bring such a diverse group of readers together, to discuss a book 200 years after its publication, should be celebrated.  She wrote back:

 I am very well satisfied with their notice–thankful to have it continued a few years longer!

I said they’d be thrilled to hear her insights.  She wrote back:   

You are very, very kind to hint at the sort of talk which might recommend me at present and I am fully sensible that an explanation of my immortal blaze might be much more to the purpose than rehashing the six novels I deal in–but I could no more account for my sustained supernova status–I could not sit seriously down and to compose a serious explanation of my ability to cut across languages, centuries, and planets for all we know, under any other motive than to save my life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself and other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the introductory remarks.  No–I must go my own Way. 

She slipped a handful of Splenda packets into her reticule and departed via the fire stairwell.

Before she left, I wished her a Happy 235th Birthday.

You can join the party today to celebrate Jane’s birthday by visiting the blogs listed here.  Leave a comment on this blog and be included in a drawing for one of many wonderful prizes (listed below).   

WHERE THE PARTY’S AT:

  1. Adriana Zardini, at Jane Austen Sociedad do Brasil
  2. Laurel Ann, at Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog
  3. Vic Sanborn, at Jane Austen’s World
  4. Katherine Cox, at November’s Autumn
  5. Karen Wasylowski, at Karen Wasylowski Blog
  6. Laurie Viera Rigler, at Jane Austen Addict Blog
  7. Lynn Shepherd, at her Lynn Shepherd Blog
  8. Jane Greensmith, at Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
  9. Jane Odiwe, at Jane Austen Sequels Blog
  10. Alexa Adams, at First Impressions Blog
  11. Regina Jeffers, at her Regina Jeffers Blog
  12. Cindy Jones at First Draft Blog
  13. Janet Mullany at Risky Regencies Blog
  14. Maria Grazia at My Jane Austen Book Club Blog
  15. Meredith at Austenesque Reviews

GIFTS & GIVEAWAYS: Visit all the blogs TODAY and leave your comments + e-mail address to have lots of  chances to win one of the wonderful gifts we are giving away:
 

Books –  1 signed copy, directly from the author, of …

  1.  Willoughby’s Return by Jane Odiwe
  2.  Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
  3. Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
  4. Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd
  5. Intimations of Austen by Jane Greensmith
  6. Darcy’s Passions: Fitzwilliam Darcy’s Story by Regina Jeffers
  7. First Impressions. A Tale of Less Pride  and Prejudice  by Alexa Adams
  8. Jane and the Damned by Janet Mullany
  9. Bespelling Jane Austen by Janet Mullany
Other gifts:
  1.  Austen bag offered by Karen Wasylowski
  2. DVD Pride & Prejudice 2005 offered by Regina Jeffers
  3. package of Bingley’s Tea  (flavor  “Marianne’s Wild Abandon” ) offered by Cindy Jones
  4. DVD Jane Austen in Manhattan offered by Maria Grazia
  5. 3 issues of Jane Austen’s Regency World offered by Maria Grazia
Giveaways will end on the 23rd  December.  Winners will be announced on My Jane Austen Book Club
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Filed under Cindy Jones, My Jane Austen, My Jane Austen Summer

Say It Isn’t So, Jane Austen

Imagine the outrage of 700 Janeites (myself included), packing our bonnets to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America, upon reading the shocking Muggle headlines suggesting Jane Austen may not have written her prose.  Where is Dumbledore when you need him?  

At the meeting in Portland, Oregon, papers will be presented, a monstrous deal of quizzing will take place, and many will dance in Regency attire.  But Janeites are not happy, emails have been flying, and a heads-up urged us to be prepared to discuss “the issue” in hallways and breakout sessions.  Even my non-Janeite friends are forwarding articles to me.  All because an Oxford professor made provocative comments as she introduced her three-year project:  digitization of 1,000 handwritten pages of Jane Austen’s letters and manuscripts.  The timing of the project’s debut could not have been more accurately targeted to nail the attention of her audience.  On the eve of the convergence of North America’s most dedicated Austen enthusiasts, while thousands more Janeites watched from home, and Janeites everywhere turned their exclusive focus to all things Austen, Professor Sutherland announced that Jane Austen couldn’t spell, demonstrated no grasp of punctuation, and had a terrible accent.   

I climbed to the top of my book bag and prepared to jump.

Fortunately I have a personal relationship with My Jane Austen.  As I stood there, the breeze in my bonnet, she told me that it is a truth universally acknowledged that newspapers with dwindling circulations must be in want of a good scandal.  I considered this pearl, as the wind filled my Empire skirts.  She told me that self-promotion must always be forgiven, you know, because there is no hope of a cure.  I stepped away from the edge.  She said, essentially, that dodgy spin working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.  I decided to check online and see what the saner heads on my discussion lists were saying. 

All the same, I’ll be watching the Portland sky.  I don’t want to be the last Janeite to see the Dark Mark.

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Filed under Cindy Jones, JASNA AGM, launching things, My Jane Austen, My Jane Austen Summer

I Met Jane Austen’s Writing Table

  

My Son, Upstaging Jane Austen's Writing Chair

This time, last year, I went to England to meet Jane Austen.  I was nervous, and with good reason since I’d taken the liberty of writing about our relationship, even though we’d never met.  I ran the terrible risk of discovering I’d based my book on a deep misunderstanding .  Five years of my life could go down the drain.  

Not to mention what Agent would say.   

Flying to England, I’d considered myself in the same league as Elinor Dashwood and Fanny Price.  Upon landing, it occurred to me that neither Elinor nor Fanny would presume to write first, ask questions later.  I could already feel the sharp end of Jane Austen’s pen, and imagine myself exiled to Portsmouth.   Driving on the wrong side I asked myself how a lowly Mature Debut Author like me could presume to be freinds (I know) with a Sustained Supernova whose immortal blaze cuts across languages, centuries, and planets for all we know.  What was I thinking?       

I met Jane Austen’s front door.  She was not there.  

Jane Austen's Front Door in Bath (trash day)

I met Jane Austen’s crowded museum.  She was not there, either.  

The Jane Austen Centre

I visited Jane Austen’s grave in Winchester Cathedral.  Oh, dear.   

But then we drove to Chawton. 

Everything in Jane Austen’s village is life-size or smaller.    

Standing in the simple room where the modest writing-table occupied a spot near the window, I felt My Jane Austen’s presence.  Not the celebrity icon, but the unaffected woman reined in by class, money, and gender.  The writer who nailed Aunt Norris while Mrs. Austen and Cassandra did chores.  Jane Austen was the person I had imagined: physically present at the little table, yet mentally far away, working in a universe of her own creation.  And this is what we both understand:  being stranded on a desert island is not a problem as long as you have paper, pen, and writing-table.    

Her writing-table is the most unassuming piece of furniture with the most impressive back-story I’ve ever met.

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Filed under Agent, Everyone else's Jane Austen, Living in a novel, moment of clarity, My Jane Austen, My Jane Austen Summer