Home Again…

How does the time go so fast?  Last week flew by, at the JASNA AGM in Ft. Worth, TX.  The weather was stunning, and Ft. Worth is a beautiful city. 

This is just one of my favorite buildings viewed on a walking tour, under the beautiful blue sky of Ft. Worth.   Sites we saw included the Tarrant County Court House, the Wells Fargo building, complete with antique stage coach, and the Sid Richardson Museum which houses a wonderful collection of western art.

There was so much to do at the Annual General Meeting-so many excellent speakers, entertaining workshops, interesting people from all over.   Numerous speakers gave interesting and informative programs about Jane Austen’s writings, her time and her life.  My favorites included a Special Interest Session by Victoria Hinshaw, titled “The Sensible Regency Wedding”, and the address by Dr. Joan Klingel Ray, titled “SENSE AND SENSIBILITY as Austen’s Problem Novel.”  (The theme of the event was the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the publication of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.)   A special guest was Andrew Davies, who adapted Jane Austen’s novels, who gave a delightful presentation.  I had the opportunity to present a breakout session, and can attest to the attention and kindness of the attendees present.

Saturday night, there was a wonderful banquet and a ball (of course!).  Both were wonderful events.   The ball following the banquet was a beautiful affair, with live music, wonderful Regency gowns, and (of course) dancing! 

Finally on Sunday morning, the Author Signing event took place.  A whole room full of authors had the opportunity to showcase their works, and to sign books for eager readers.  I was fortunate enough to bring HEYERWOOD: A Novel to that event:

It was such a treat to be able to spend time with others who share so many interests, whether Jane Austen, writing or reading!  I must confess that being allowed to sign my book was a very special thrill.  (Yes, I did manage to get a few authors’ signatures in books for myself as well!)

The entire conference was an amazing experience, one I will not forget.  I doubt that anyone who attended will argue with that!

I’m Leaving On A Jet Plane….

The words of an old song are floating around in my head. This afternoon, I’m headed for Ft Worth, Texas, where I will be attending the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual General Meeting! This event is always special-lots of break-out sessions and workshops full of interesting information about Jane Austen, her books, and her times, combined with great people enjoying shared interests. This year is very special for me, as I will be presenting one of the break-out sessions, AND participating in a book-signing event with my novel, HEYERWOOD. It was such an honor to be selected as a speaker; being invited to participate in the book signing was completely unexpected. Then there are the sessions I plan to attend, the workshop, the ball…. The list just goes on and on. All things considered, I am totally excited!!! Watch this space…next week, I will fill you in on all the fun!

A Stroke of Luck….

As I was browsing through the books in the entry at my Barnes & Noble, I stumbled across a jewel. Nestled with the others in the bargain shelf was THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ROYAL BRITAIN, by Charles Phillips (consultants: Dr. John Haywood and Professor Richard G. Wilson); 2009, 2011: Annes Publishing Ltd. This beautiful book is crammed with wonderful pictures of people, castles, and stately homes. It provides a directory of each monarch, with a synopsis of his (or her) reign and portraits of the monarch and significant people of each’s time. It also provides synopses of big events, crises, and triumphs. It goes on to describe castles and manor houses, with fantastic photos, discussions of style, and more. While it is not a comprehensive book by any means, this is a historical fiction author’s delight, chock-full of inspiration with magnificent pictures to get the creative juices flowing! Place names, information about the families who built the homes and the architects who designed or planned the renovations, all are grist for the mill…

This is also a useful work for the history buff or student. It is by no means comprehensive but provides a fantastic jumping-off place for further study. There is also a useful glossary of architectural terms.

I did not find a bibliography or list of sources, although there are acknowledgements regarding the illustrations. In my opinion, this could not be a stand-alone reference for serious research. However, it provides good information in a compact format, and is a great place to begin a project.

It is also enjoyable reading. I found the entries to be well-written, with enough substance to keep the attention without straying from the format.

All in all, a real find and a welcome addition to my library! I am certain that this will be a very useful tool.

By the way, please visit the English Historical Fiction Authors blog to see the post I wrote! Here’s the link: http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/

Please let me know what you think!

This and That

After a couple of rainy days, it was a pleasure to wake up to a beautiful, sunny morning! Sunshine lifts the spirits! A pineapple from our own plant ripening on the kitchen table, and a bird’s nest in the bottle brush tree-it’s all good.

Today is a very special day. It’s exciting to announce the launch weekend of a new blog!
Please visit

English Historical Fiction Authors
http://www.englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com

Please check it out! Visit and comment to win a Kindle, Amazon Gift Certificate or Books!  There will be articles by numerous authors (including me!),  providing fascinating information.  It is a beautiful blog, and it is sure to become a favorite.

I just finished JANE AND THE MADNESS OF LORD BYRON, by Stephanie Barron. Ms. Barron has written a series of books featuring Jane Austen as a detective. There is a wealth of detail about the people and the period, and the mystery is intriguing as well. Definitely a good read!  She was meticulously accurate about the characters taken from real life, such as Byron, Caro Lamb, and Lady Oxford.  While I first had a little difficulty seeing Jane Austen as a detective, it somehow feels right as presented by Ms. Barron.  Most enjoyable.

HEYERWOOD at the Vero Beach Book Center

I did something new yesterday: I took a picture with my phone! I just had to have a photo of my book on the shelf (it’s now the wallpaper on the phone in question!). I just wanted to share it. There is a link on this page for the Vero Beach Book Center, if you are curious.

A Red Letter Day!

As a child, going to the library or a bookstore were very special treats. To this day, bookstores are my favorite places to visit. Today, I visited a beautiful bookstore in Vero Beach, the Vero Beach Book Center, where my book is in stock and on the shelf!!! Yes, HEYERWOOD: A Novel is actually available in a beautiful bookstore. What a great beginning to the day!

Oh, For An English Garden…in Florida???

This morning was gorgeous-sunny, blue sky, birds singing-so I took advantage of the weather to work on my herbs. I planted some new ones, transplanted my tarragon (the pot was splitting), and top-dressed the other plants. All spick and span, and ready for the fall growing season. As I was working on them, I couldn’t help but visualize an English cottage garden-herbs and flowers all growing together and smelling divine. (Does anything smell more wonderful than lilies of the valley and mint?) Being in south central Florida, I grow my herbs in pots (thanks to nematodes!). I do have some roses, but regretfully must pass on lilacs, lilies of the valley, and many of the other flowers that need a cooler climate and different soil than I have here.

If I sound like I’m complaining, I’m not, really. I more than make up for it with plumeria and hibiscus, pineapples and lemons. However, there is just something about those soft, sweet-smelling beds of flowers…visions of walking through with my basket and scissors to cut flowers for bouquets…. Oh well, in the winter when it’s cold and icy there, I will still be harvesting my herbs and enjoying my Florida sun!

On a more sober note, today being the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the Twin Towers, it is appropriate to take a moment, smell the flowers, and remember those who lost their lives and those who worked so hard to try to save lives.

A Useful Work…

I am not ashamed to admit that I am addicted to books.  I buy books the way some women buy shoes or some men buy fishing lures.  I simply cannot resist a book, whether it be a beautiful book, an enjoyable book or a useful book.  Now that dinner is over and the dishes done, I am perusing one of my favorites, a book that is both beautiful AND useful.

JANE AUSTEN’S TOWN AND COUNTRY STYLE, by Susan Watkins (1990: Rizzoli International Publications Inc., New York, NY)  is a very satisfying book.  Whether you are interested in Jane Austen and her writing, the history of the Regency period, or architecture and the decorative arts, this book is a treasure.  Ms. Watkins helps us to see how people lived in Jane Austen’s time (admittedly the gentry class, but still…) by using illustrations (paintings, photographs, account records, fabrics, and more are all here) and by writing fascinating text.  She uses characters and quotes from Austen’s novels, as well as from her letters,  as lead-in’s to provide more detailed information about daily life at this time.  The final chapter on entertaining includes photographs of food prepared based on period recipes.  (If they taste as good as they look, it helps me to understand the Prince of Wales fondness for stuffing himself!)  Interior and exterior design, gowns, table settings and more all appear here with a wealth of information in a friendly format with text that is as enjoyable to read as it is informative.   

Ms. Watkins also provides a chronology of Jane Austen’s life, and a directory of Georgian design information sources, ranging from museums and houses, , to fabric and wallpaper  purveyors, to societies, in England, the USA and some fashion/costume sources in France.  Her bibliography is organized relative to the different subjects, and is very user friendly, which is a blessing if you want to look more deeply into one area or another. 

This is one of my favorite go-to books, whether for reference, or just to enjoy a browse.  Even though it is a bit older, it is a valuable addition to any Janeite’s library.

Back to Work!

This weekend, I have been watching the weather, as have so many of us, and my thoughts and prayers have followed Irene up the east coast. My extreme gratitude for not having the storm here in Florida has been tempered by knowing what those who did experience Irene will be dealing with in the aftermath. These storms cannot be taken lightly.

This is a beautiful morning, and I have been able to return to work with a renewed energy. I’ve added some thoughts to a paper I’ve been working on, and have continued some research for the novel I’m currently writing.

I am currently reading PASSION & PURSUIT The Loves and Lives of Regency Women, by Jane Aiken Hodge. I had not heard of this book, until running across it in a bibliography. Published in 1996, Ms. Hodge examines the role of love in the lives of specific women during the Regency era. This book is an excellent read. Ms. Hodge is a wonderful writer (I’ve been a fan of her fiction for years).  She provides interesting background information about the period (“setting the scene,” as she describes it), and then discusses a range of women of the time, and the effect of love in their lives, whether romantic love, friendship, the love of children or the love of one’s art. This book provides a lot of biographical information, including excerpts from diaries and letters, although certainly not a comprehensive biography of any of the women portrayed. Ms. Hodge’s subjects range from Harriette Wilson, to Hester Stanhope, from Caroline Lamb to Jane Austen, and she brings each woman’s individual circumstances to life. It is an excellent reference in itself, and has whetted my appetite to read more about several of the ladies mentioned. Even if you are familiar with each of these ladies’ stories, this book may give you a new viewpoint, and some new points to consider about women’s lives during this fascinating time.

Rainy Day Musings…

It is absolutely pouring here today… 

I’m off work, and don’t have to go anywhere.  There are things I SHOULD be doing, but, instead, I am curled up with my cup of tea (Earl Grey, hot, of course!) and a good book.  An old friend, this time.  I’m enjoying THE MUMMY CASE, by Elizabeth Peters.  One of the early Amelia Peabody Emerson novels, it is a wonderful book, full of (dare I say?) eccentric characters, and glimpses of 19th century archaeology in Egypt, with a murder mystery thrown in for good measure.  These books are always a satisfying read, fun and well-paced, and full of interesting details designed to capture and keep the reader’s attention.   Can you think of a better way to spend a rainy afternoon?