What I did on my Jane Austen vacation! (Or, an Austen obsessive’s postman’s holiday!)

All roads lead to Jane Austen (Chawton road sign)

Gentle Readers,

Today is the last day of a three week vacation. I had planned this time off to coincide with the launch of my new book, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. I can’t even begin to tell you when I last had a three week holiday! Maybe in high school summer break? Dunno, its been so long it boggles the mind.

I can say that I spent my time productively. I have been pounding away on my computer with the furor of a bargain hunter at a Macy’s lingerie sale! Wrote twenty (20) blogs out of thirty-two (32) in total for my Grand Tour of the blogosphere (Oct 10 – Nov 10). Tweeting, Facebooking and commenting on the Internet like there is no tomorrow.

Laurel Ann Nattress book launch for Jane Austen Made Me Do It Ft. Worth (2011)

Flew to Ft. Worth and attended the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual General Meeting (Oct 14-16, 2011) during which I had my book launch party at the Sundance Square Barnes & Noble on Friday October 16.

Laurel Ann Nattress and Amanda Vickery at JASNA Ft. Worth (2011)

Was introduced to BBC and Regency celeb Amanda Vickery (The Gentleman’s Daughter) who was there with the BBC filming a documentary on Jane Austen.

Fiction author luncheon at JASNA Ft. Worth (2011)

Attended the fiction authors luncheon arranged by the multi-talented Cindy Jones (My Jane Austen Summer).

Andrew Davies at JASNA Ft. Worth (2011)

Listened and laughed with plenary speaker Andrew Davies on Saturday afternoon. Introduced fellow JASNA – Puget Sound chapter member James Nagle for his breakout session on Coaches, Barouches and Gigs, Oh My!

Laurel Ann Nattress and Deb Barnum at JASNA Ft. Worth (2011)

Dressed for the banquet while catching up on conference gossip with roommate Deb Barnum (Jane Austen in Vermont).

Syrie and Bill James at the Regency Ball JASNA Ft. Worth (2011)

Dined with Syrie and Bill James and Deb at the banquet. Watched the Regency Promenade through Sundance Square. Wanted to go watch the Regency dancing but crashed instead. (can you forgive me?)

Laurel Ann Nattress at the Author Book Signing at JASNA Ft. Worth (2011)

Up at the crack of dawn Sunday morning to attend the Author Book Signing and then the closing brunch. Dashed off to the local UPS store to mail books, large poster of JAMMDI and a sundry stuff back home so that my luggage weight limit would not explode!

Kimbell Museum of Art Caravaggio exhibit Ft. Worth, TX (2011)

Headed out to The Kimbell Art Museum to see the  brand new exhibit, Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome (WOW) with fellow JASNA – Puget Sound members Marian LaBeck, her sister Monica and Kimberly Brangwin. Jumped on a transport to the airport where we ran into Susan Mason-Milks (Mr. Darcy’s Proposal) and Karen Doornebos (Definitely Not Mr. Darcy) and  had a quick bite at TGI Fridays in the airport terminal. Flew home, picked up my luggage, then my car, drove home. Cat Herman very happy to see me. Collapsed into bed at 1:00 am.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It Launch Lynnwood, WA (2011)

I returned on Sunday October 16th, over a week ago, and I still have not unpacked. Too busy! I have been running full out promoting my book online, writing emails and blogs like crazy. Saturday was my local Seattle book launch at Alderwood Barnes & Noble. (more on that on Friday) What an amazing event with the full contingent of fans, friends, family and co-workers all in attendance. It was red carpet sendoff for JAMMDI with me chatting about Jane Austen, my road to publication, reading from the book, tea and scones, live period music and English Country dancing. Phew!

So tomorrow, back to reality! I planned to spend my last day as an debut editor/author on the Internet, writing emails, blogs and social networking. That plan was nixed this morning when I could not get on my computer. ACK! I hear Frank Churchill’s voice echoing in my head from the 1996 movie adaptation of Emma! “Is your horse just washing his feet or are the darker forces at work here?” My computer was trying to install a Microsoft update that would not complete. NO COMPUTER. OMG! Total Internet withdrawal. What was I going to do? Two hours later the stupid update is still installing. What? This is madness.

The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen, by Lindsay Ashford (2011)

So, what does a total Jane Austen obsessive who needs to be working on the Internet do? Read of course. I am half way through The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen, by Lindsay Ashford and am quite intrigued by her take on Anne Sharp, who was the governess to Jane’s wealthy brother Edward Austen’s daughter Fanny, and a lifelong friend to Jane too. It will surprise you.

Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, WA

It was also one of those ten days in the Pacific Northwest when it didn’t rain. A beautiful clear day resplendent Fall color, so I headed to Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in neighboring Woodinville (beautiful spot) and ordered a case of wine to be shipped to some friends as a thank you. Of course I had to stop by Costco in the way home! I just could not pass up buying tulip and daffodil bulbs on sale for my garden. Oh joy. Now I get to plant them. Here are the varieties: tulips Blushing Beauty and Van Eijk and daffodils Unsurpassable. Here is my kitchen table with all of my to do’s piling up! Notice new books: Persuasion: An Annotated Edition, The Garden Intrigue, by Lauren Willig and Austentatious, by Alyssa Goodnight along with Austen note cards to write thank you’s with, a pile of Jane Austen Made Me Do It book marks I need to mail to my authors and a bizzion blubs to plant in my garden!

Laurel Ann's kitchen table to do list

By the time I got home late in the afternoon, my computer had finished its massive update, thank goodness and I had 48 emails to answer and two blogs to write.

I shall return to selling Jane Austen to the masses tomorrow. Honestly, I need a vacation from my vacation!

Cheer,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 -2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Off to the Jane Austen Society AMG in Ft. Worth, TX

JASNA Ft. Worth, TX (2011) banner

After a very eventful launch day for Jane Austen Made Me Do It on the Internet yesterday, I am off today to the Jane Austen Society of North America’s AGM in Ft. Worth, Texas Oct 14-16, 2011!

It will be great to be reunited with friends and meet new Janeites. The conference is packed with great plenary speakers (Andrew Davies, the King of the Austen adaptation no less) and an assortment social activities to give the flavor of true Texas hospitality, like an evening at Billy Bob’s Honky Tonk for livations and mechanical bull riding! Oh my. One wonders if that is possible in a Regency frock?

My book launch party for Jane Austen Made Me Do It with two of my anthology authors books The Deception at Lyme, by Carrie Bebris and Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion, by Janet Mullany will be on Friday, October 14 at 6:30 pm at the Sundance Square Barnes & Noble, about a block from the conference hotel.  I will also be attending the AGM Author Book Signing event on Sunday morning, October 16 at 8:30 am with other numerous Austen authors. By the time I return home on Sunday, I will be ready for a vacation.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Persuasions No. 32 in the Mail to JASNA Members

Vintage engraving of Farley Castle, Somersetshire, EnglandFarley Castle, Somersetshire, from the essay by Janine Barchas in Persuasions No. 32

Huzzah! An Austen Alert for JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) members.

Watch your mailbox this week. The new  issue of JASNA’s journal, Persuasions No. 32, has been mailed to all members. Here is the lowdown from the JASNA website:

Persuasions No. 32 features very nice essays delivered at the 2010 conference in Portland, Oregon: “Jane Austen and the Abbey: Mystery, Mayhem, and Muslin.”

The issue contains plenary essays by Juliet McMaster, on Catherine Morland’s imagination, and by Stephanie Barron, on the elements of mystery in Northanger Abbey. Other essays explore further the entanglements of mystery, mayhem, and muslin. Gillian Dow and Elaine Bander focus on Austen’s use of other fiction, French as well as English. Stephanie M. Eddleman and Kathy Justice Gentile examine Austen’s treatment of masculinity (and the mayhem it can resolve—or cause). Miriam Rheingold Fuller considers Northanger Abbey as domestic gothic while Elisabeth Lenckos sets the novel in relation to aesthetic categories of the sublime and the picturesque. Janine Barchas discovers a historical source for Austen’s fiction, and Mary Hafner Laney, Sheryl Craig, and Celia A. Easton use fashion, a monetary crisis, and the debate over clerical absenteeism to illuminate Northanger Abbey.

The Miscellany offers further delights, including an essay by the late Brian Southam on Jane Austen and the seaside. Peter W. Graham, Laurie Kaplan, Jan Fergus and Elizabeth Steele, and others range through labor, London, the juvenilia, The Watsons, Isabelle de Montolieu’s translation of Persuasion—and more! Click here to see the complete Table of Contents.

In the meantime, amazing essays from the Portland AGM and a rich Miscellany may be found in Persuasions On-Line 31.1 (published December 16, 2010).

The JASNA Persuasions journal is part of the annual membership to the society. It contains peer-reviewed essays from the speakers at each of the Annual General Meetings based on Jane Austen, her life, her novels and her contemporary influences – and just about anything else wholly connected to our esteemed authoress and the Regency and Georgian eras. It is a powerhouse of information and enjoyment, and one of the many benefits to annual membership that I look forward to.

If you are interested in learning more about JASNA and the Persuasions journal, please visit the societies website.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Day Three: JASNA Conference 2010: Catherine Morland’s Imagination and the Ball Masqué!

Syrie and Bill James at the Masqued Ball

© Austenprose Another early morning after a full day of Janeness at JASNA, Jane Austen and the Abbey: Mystery, Mayhem and Muslin in Portland, for Deb (Jane Austen and Vermont) and me as we rush off to the continental breakfast followed by the second Plenary speaker, Juliet McMaster (JASNA North American Scholar) in the Grand Ballroom. Dr. McMaster is a world renowned scholar, Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta and prominent Janeite. Her presentation was “A Surmise of such Horror”: Catherine Morland’s Imagination. She spoke about Northanger Abbey’s heroine Catherine Morland and the quality of her mind. Austen describes Catherine at the opening of the novel as “cheerful, open” and with a “mind about as ignorant and uninformed as the female mind at seventeen usually is” but by the novel’s end, through her experiences and Henry Tilney’s careful tutelages, she becomes “finely aware and richly responsible.” A wonderful speech which logically explained Catherine’s perspective and actions, rather a “defensive of a heroine” treatise.

My first Breakout session of the morning was with Gillian Dow of the University of Southampton and Chawton House Library. Dr. Dow’s passionate and compelling speech was entitled Northanger Abbey and the Horrors of the European Novel. It has been long assumed that Austen was heavily influenced by Ann Radcliffe’s 1794 Gothic novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho while writing Northanger Abbey, but there might have been other novels that she also parodied. Dr. Dow presented a fascinating comparison to similarities in French Gothic novelist Stéphanie de Genlis, ‘Histoire de la duchesse de C***’. There were amazing parallels and a new translation from the original French has been edited by Mary S. Trouille and available online for all those interested in this new discovery. I was entranced by Dr. Dow’s speech. It was by far my favorite of the conference.

Off to lunch at The Original, a ‘dinerant’, a 1970’s diner resplendent with Naugahyde booths and wood grain Formica tables that the Brady Bunch would have felt at home in with Maggie Sullivan (AustenBlog). It was nice to be outside and walk in beautiful Portland which was experiencing clement weather (only a mild mist instead of a downpour). While I ate my eggs Benedict (I love breakfast for lunch) we chatted about the conference, blogging, publishing and family. Such fun!

My two afternoon Breakout sessions were on Henry Tilney *swoon* and Assembly Room rules and etiquette, which seemed very apt together. I tried to choose a variety of topics during the conference so that I would not go to every talk about Henry they offered! Even passionate Janeites need their discipline. ;-) Peter Graham of Virginia Tech gave a humorous and engaging speech on Henry Tilney: Portrait of the Hero Beta Male. How is Henry different than Austen’s other heroes? Often accused of being too effeminate because he knows his muslin’s, how to talk to ladies and reads novels, Graham explored passages from Northanger Abbey read by two actors portraying Henry and Catherine, which exemplified his point that Henry’s position as a second son and close sibling to his motherless and basically fatherless sister Elinor, significantly shaped his personality. Perfectly plausible to me, there will always be some who think he was too metro-sexual for their taste. “Oh what a Henry!” My last Breakout session of the conference L was on etiquette, The Rules of the Assembly, by writer, musician, dancer and dance teacher Allison Thompson who presented a lively chat with slides. It was great to learn more about the social strictures and “rules” to attend an Assembly dance in the Georgian and Regency eras. I laughed to hear that even the Duke of Wellington was turned away from the bon ton Almack’s Assembly Room in London because of improper attire.

Me and Deb Barnum at the Masque Ball 2010

me and Laurie Viera Rigler at Masque Ball 2010

Elspeth (AprilFool) at Masque Ball 2010

Deb was off to the US JASNA Open Business Meeting and I headed to our room for a much needed lie down before dressing for the Ball and a festive evening. These conferences are exhausting, and after three days of nonstop activity, discussion and lectures, my energy level was waning. By the time Deb returned to the room I was partially revived and ready to hear all about her Breakout sessions and JASNA news from the business meeting. Iris Lutz would be the new president. Huzzah! We chatted and lost track of time, needing to rush to dress for the Ball, arriving for the pre-banquet social hour to see and sea of Regency attire and a roaring of discussion in the Ballroom foyer. The costumes were breathtaking and I will let the pictures speak for themselves. The Ballroom doors opened and we found our table, inconveniently located behind a large column! Oh well! Our party of ten which included Diana Birchall, Jane Krisel, Christina Boyd, Deb Barnum, Debbie McVay Aldous, Christy Somer, Sue Forgue, and Syrie and Bill James had so much fun talking and laughing it mattered little in the long run. We were a very merry group indeed, so not being able to see or hear anything that was being announced by the Master of Ceremonies mattered not. (At one point, we were so merry it bordered on rowdy, and they asked us to quiet down!)

Admiral Croft and his Lady? at the Masque Ball Promenade

Puget Sound JASNA member James Nagle & friend at Masque Ball Promenade

Maggie Sullivan at the Masqued Ball Promenade

The Grand Ball Masque Promenade commenced after dinner and much finery and splendor was witnessed, despite the fact that I was told it did not go off as planned. I understand they usually take it outside and promenade around the block, but since it was impossible to get 600 people up one escalator in a timely fashion, it was nixed and they just circled the Ballroom. The rest of the evening was spent watching the wonderful dancing and chatting with the amiable and interesting Debbie McVay Aldous and the beautiful Christina Boyd (who contributes book reviews here at at Austenprose). She looked so amazing in her new Ball gown made by her mom, with opulent fabric found in the upholstery section of her local linen draper. Well… it worked for Scarlet O’Hara! Her young son also contributed to her finery by helping make her very fashionable mask with spikey feathers! An incredible time was had by all, so much so by me, that I totally missed the “Monster Mash”, three special Breakout sessions held adjacent to the Ballroom. Here are photo’s of the event that can say far more than I. Please help me fill in names!

Juliet McMaster and friend at Masqued Ball Promenade

Heather Laurence and husband at the Masqued Ball Promenade

Diana Birchall at the Masqued Ball Promenade

Handsome Regency couple at the Masqued Ball Promenade

Debbie McVay Aldous and Christina Boyd at the Masqued Ball  (not over trimmed in the least!)

Signing off from Portland

Laurel Ann

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Day Two: JASNA Conference 2010: Henry Tilney Rules, Darcy Drools

Team Tilney Panel

© Austenprose The Friday morning wake-up call came way too early for Deb (Jane Austen in Vermont) and me after a previous full day of travel, registration and evening pre-conference events at the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual General Meeting, Jane Austen and the Abbey: Mystery Mayhem and Muslin in Portland. Bleary eyed, we headed to breakfast at the hotel dining room, then Deb was off to her three hour Regional Coordinators Training Session, while I attended Team Tilney Explains It All in the Grand Ball. This lively panel discussion was moderated by, quite possibly Henry Tilney’s number one fan, Margaret Sullivan (AustenBlog), and comprised of three fellow Henryite’s: Kelly Brown a Gothic literature enthusiast, Heather Laurence (Solitary Elegance) and Lynn Marie Macy a Northanger Abbey playwright. There was also a very special guest panelist, the Rev. Henry Tilney himself who convincingly greeted us with “Hello ladies. Look at your Mister Darcy. Now back to me. Now look at Captain Wentworth. Now back to me. Sadly, those gentlemen are not me. But if they knew enough about muslin to buy their own cravats and were more nice than wise, they could be like me.” * parodying the Old Spice Man commercials, but through the unique lens of Jane Austen’s most witty, charming and dashing hero bar none, Da Man himself, Henry Tilney. It was a great beginning to what promised to be a day of total Jane Austen immersion. (*quote from AustenBlog, and written by Heather Laurence)

Ellen Fuller and Mr. Tilney

Next I was off to shop with the passion of Mrs. Allen at the Milsom Street Emporium where an elegant array of tempting Jane Austen inspired books, clothing and tea merchants were presenting their wares for inspection. Books, my passion in life, drew me immediately to the extensive display by Jane Austen Books. It was impressive and I quickly purchased four hardback first editions of Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen Mysteries Series for her to sign later, at a wonderful price. Next booth over was the JASNA Wisconsin Region’s display of their A Year of Jane Austen” 2011 Calendar which I promptly purchased. For any of you unaware of this treasure, each month is filled with facts from Jane Austen’s life, events in her novels and great quotes. This year’s calendar honors the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility with color images from the vintage editions illustrated by C.E. Brock. You can purchase them online too.

Beautifully embroidered Georgian-era frock by Susan

At one end of the Milsom Street Emporium was an amazing display of period clothing presented by Margaret Phillips and Rebecca Morrison-Peck and designed and executed by the talented Susan Pasco of Seattle. I was so taken aback by the fabrics, style and incredible embroidery, that I imposed upon her modesty and asked Susan about her inspiration and back story. Historical costumes are her passion and she has created and lovingly sewn these creations for herself to wear to events sponsored by Somewhere in Time, Unlimited, a social and sewing group in the Seattle area. On display were costumes from 1775-1820, my favorite being the Georgian-era frock (above) whose embroidery was so intricate, that must have taken years to complete. Susan honestly told me she stopped keeping track of the time it takes to complete a garment. Since she makes them only for herself, what’s the point?

Susan Pasco and Mary Hafner-Laney

After lunch (yes, there is a lot of nourishment required to sustain ones strength at these conferences) our first Plenary speaker was Stephanie Barron, author of the bestselling Jane Austen Mysteries series. I just reviewed her latest novel, Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron and loved it! (On an aside, sitting next to me by pure coincidence was one of my readers Elspeth (AprilFool) who had participated in the Georgette Heyer Celebration here in August and won a copy of Black Sheep!)

Elspeth (AprilFool) and me

Barron spoke eloquently on Suspicious Characters, Red Herrings, and Unreliable Detectives: Elements of Mystery in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. It was interesting to learn the devices that Jane Austen used, even before murder mysteries became a genre, to shape her story adding intrigue and tension to Catherine Morland’s adventure to Bath and then to Northanger Abbey. After, she graciously opened up the discussion to the audience. One query was from a fan of her Jane Austen Mysteries series wanting to know why she had killed off Lord Harold Trowbridge, Jane Austen’s love interest, spy and Rogue-About-Town, in the sixth novel in the series? Responding that it was one of the hardest things she had ever done as a writer, but it had to be done, she added that readers will be happy to know that he will be featured in a short story entitled Jane And The Gentleman Rogue in the upcoming anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress. *swoon* Smelling salts were required to revive me from my seat. To hear my book and name mentioned out loud for the first time to such a large crowd will be an unforgettable moment in my life. Thanks Stephanie.

Syrie James, me and Cindy Jones

My first Breakout session was with Ellen Moody, “People that Marry Can Never Part”: Real and Romantic Gothicism in Northanger Abbey. Even though The Mysteries of Udolpho has been credited as the main Gothic novel that Austen parodied in Northanger Abbey, Professor Moody explored similarities between four other Gothic novels that Jane Austen might have read in their original French or translations to inspire her Gothic story. And, my second Breakout session was with attorney James Nagle of the Puget Sound Chapter of JASNA, Dismemberment in the Library with a Quill Pen. Regency England’s rules of succession have always been a challenge to me, but now I can happily say that the words primogeniture, entail and jointure have new meanings, and when next I read Sense and Sensibility or any novels set before the inheritance laws were changed in England in 1925, I will be well ready. Mr. Nagle gave a lively and entertaining talk on a dry subject that in my mind has always been more than a muddle.

Wild Rose Garland Dancers and green sneaker clad musican

Next Deb and I tromped six blocks (or it seemed liked it in high heels) to the Portland Art Museum for the cocktail reception and performance by the Wild Rose Garland Dancers. The Museum was beautiful, but as we arrived there was already a huge queue for one food table, and another for the bar. Deb and I divided forces and eventually conquered, only to discover that there were few chairs in a room filled with people who had experience a long day and also wanted a seat. Besides the grumbling crowd, there was happy moment in the evening for me when again the person next to me recognized me! Imagine that? Nancy had also participated in the Georgette Heyer Celebration and won a copy of The Masqueraders! God bless Georgette Heyer. We all lined up against the back wall like true wallflowers and watched the dancers and listened to ancient tunes that sounded vaguely familiar to an American Civil War tune that an old guy from Tennessee might have played on his harmonica in Gone With The Wind. As the wine went to our heads and exhaustion got the better of us, we made more friends in the wallflower group and started to pick out attendees and match them physically with Jane Austen characters. All agreed that the older lady blocking our view by taking photos of the dancers was definitely Mrs. Bates. Neither could have heard our pleas to step aside. One of our group of gigglers had a great attitude. She did not mind standing where she was because of the view. View we asked? She only had to point to the right at the backside of the Grecian statue abutting the room before we understood her meaning.

Distracting Portland Museum statue

After dinner (ah, a seat) we attended Jeff Nigro’s lecture and slide show “Mystery Meets Muslin: Regency Gothic Dress in Art, Fashion and Theatre.” If you think that Fanny Price’s hurricane hair in the 2007 adaptation of Mansfield Park was a crime reportable to the fashion police, then you would have found plenty more faux pas to tell tales of in illustrations from the Regency-era books and paintings that got it really wrong too. It does not make Fanny’s plight any more pitiable, since she was a recent interpretation and the designer should have known better, but it does make it more laughable, if possible.

Left to right: Diana Birchall, Laurie Viera Rigler, me, Margaret Sullivan,
Stepahnie Barron, and Syrie James at author get-together

My last event of the evening was my most anticipated and joyous of the day. Six on my authors in my anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It were also attending the conference, and I could not pass up the opportunity to round up the troops for a nightcap and a bit of camaraderie. In attendance where Pamela Aidan, Margaret Sullivan, Stephanie Barron, Syrie James, Diana Birchall and Laurie Viera Rigler. The creative energy emanating from our table could power Chawton Cottage for a week! I told the tale of the creation of the anthology and the authors gave a brief description of each of their stories. Then we got down to the real business, gossiping about the publishing industry.

Off to bed, but not before a good debriefing from Deb on what I had missed from her Breakout sessions and overall Janeite breaking news. It was a long day in which I have never heard or talked about Jane Austen as much in my life! It will remain one of my most memorable.

Signing off from Portland,

Laurel Ann

My profuse apologies to my readers for the delay in posting. There was just too much to say, the hour late and the free Internet in the lobby in my pink fuzzy slippers too embarrassing.

Me? Yes; I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.” Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 16

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Day One: JASNA Conference 2010: Janeites Everywhere!

I’m here … and Portland is resplendent with Janeites! 650 to be exact! And, I am one of them. So much Janeness in one place it makes me giddy.

As I arrive in the Hilton Hotel lobby, one of the first people I see is Mags (Margaret Sullivan) of AustenBlog who introduced me to Heather Laurence of Solitary Elegance, two ladies who I have only know by online acquaintance and have long admired. Off to my room to meet my roommate Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont. More joy!

The Jane Austen Society of North America’s annual conference, Jane Austen and the Abbey,  officially begins tomorrow, but we had a warm up tonight. The Multnomah County Library (in a spectacular Georgian style building) hosted a reception in their Collins Gallery (no, I did not hear if it was named after the “Mr. Collins”) honoring the libraries special book exhibit of Jane Austen first editions, rare editions and letters of her contemporaries and original Gilroy cartoons. Heather, of The Duchess of Devonshire Gossip Guide, will be happy to hear they own one of Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire’s original letters, signed GD). The room was packed to capacity, not unlike the crush that our dear Catherine Morland experienced at the Upper Rooms in Bath, and a return visit will be needed to take a closer look.

At the reception I met Persuasions editor Susan Allen Ford who shared her experience editing the next online edition due out December 16th, 2010. Across the room I spotted Austenesque author Syrie James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen) and b-lined to introduce myself. She is one of my authors for my upcoming Austen shorty story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Charming lady, with an equally charming husband Bill in tow. Off to dinner of pasta and Chianti at Pastini’s and then to a theatrical performance by actress Angela Barlow, “Jane Austen & Character: An Actor’s View”, who did a wonderful presentation of passages from Austen novels in character to illustrate Jane’s talent.

After the event, (and much to my delight), Syrie introduced me Laurie Viera Rigler. One of my favorite Austenesque authors who is also contributing a story to my anthology. We had a great chat, and laughed! No surprise really, considering how funny her books are. (Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict & Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict)

Tomorrow the conference officially begins with “Team Tilney Explains It All” featuring Team Tilney members lead by AustenBlog’s Margaret Sullivan. (Of course).

Signing off from Portland…

Laurel Ann

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Portland Ho! Off to the Jane Austen (JASNA) Conference 2010

I am all anticipation! Tomorrow (now today) I will be on my way to the Jane Austen conference in Portland to celebrate three days of total Austen immersion. Jane Austen and the Abbey: Mystery, Mayhem and Muslin in Portland begins officially on Friday, October 29th and runs through Sunday, October 31th.

This is my first JASNA conference. After years of hearing it praised to the skies, I too will be one of the happy revelers, attending Plenary speakers and Break-out sessions on the most interesting of topics (Henry Tilney), shopping like Mrs. Allen on Milsom Street and meeting for the first time, many of my online Janeite friends who have until this opportunity, remained cybered.

My amiable roommate Janeite Deb of Jane Austen in Vermont is already in Oregon, having traveled in style with her husband and dog across country in their elegant equipage, the Airstream. I am so looking forward to meeting her. She is a JASNA conference veteran, and has graciously promised to show this rookie the ropes.

After registration, and unpacking by the maid of all work, Deb and I shall be hotfooting it to the Portland Public Library to see the exhibit (especially created for the descending Janeites) of Jane Austen first editions. Then it’s off to dinner with whoever will have me, followed by a Social Hour and a performance by actress Angela Barlow, “Jane Austen & Character: An Actor’s View.” Delightful. I love theatricals even though they make Fanny Price squeamish.

My trip by train journey tomorrow morning should be relaxing and I plan to listen to my Naxos Audiobooks recording of Northanger Abbey, read by the Incomparable Juliette Stevenson to put me in the mood. I have been frantically packing tonight, needing to use my largest piece of luggage to fit everything in. We do like to travel with all the comforts of home and a full wardrobe (not quite the Queen arriving for a state visit, but close). I was relieved after stepping on the scale that I have not exceeded weight limits. Oh joy! I actually have ten pounds to spare, and can make up the deficit with purchases.

I will be reporting in daily, so do check back for the latest news and hopefully some photos. I just received an email from Diana Birchall who reports that the weather is fair and warm and not raining at present.

‘She hoped to be more fortunate the next day; and when her wishes for fine weather were answered by seeing a beautiful morning, she hardly felt a doubt of it; for a fine Sunday in Bath empties every house of its inhabitants, and all the world appears on such an occasion to walk about and tell their acquaintance what a charming day it is.’ The Narrator on Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey Chapter 5

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

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