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Sunday, October 12, 2008

JASNA in Chicago

I've been back home a week, but my head's still spinning from everything I saw/heard/learned at last weekend's Austenfest (more formally known as The 30th Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America :-).

The theme of this year's festivities was "Austen's Legacy: Life, Love & Laughter" and, being that this was a gathering that drew 650 truly devoted fans of our dear Jane, I had the pleasure of meeting several of my favorite writers of Austen-related novels--Laurie Viera Rigler (Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict), Syrie James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen), Stephanie Barron (the Jane Austen Mystery series), Carrie Bebris (the Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series), Paula Marantz Cohen (Jane Austen in Scarsdale) and Abigail Reynolds (Impulse & Initiative, Pemberley by the Sea, and more). Plus, we were all treated to a panel presentation on "Romance Fiction in the Wake of Jane Austen" with NYT bestseller Eloisa James.

There were books and books and books for sale--of which I bought many. There were magazines available, like the delightful Jane Austen's Regency World, published by the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. There were delectable toffees and scones and jewelry. Oh! I bought a Jane Austen wristwatch from Jane Austen Books!! (A must-have timepiece for the fan who likes to periodically announce, "Jane says it's 5:45...") There were workshops like Jeanne Kiefer's excellent "Anatomy of a Janeite" and a varitety of sessions with enticing titles like "Mr. Collins on Screen: Legacy of the Ridiculous, "The Pemberely Effect" and "Love in the Shrubbery."

Dr. Joan K. Ray, who wrote Jane Austen for Dummies, presented a hilarious plenary speech she called "Jane Austen for Smarties," and the brilliant Claudia Johnson gave a keynote asking those of us in the lecture hall, "Can We Ever Have Enough of Jane Austen?"

No, I think not.

In a spectacular performance, Broadway actor Colin Donnell performed alongside the creative musical team of Lindsay Baker and Amanda Jacobs (writers of the upcoming Broadway show, Pride & Prejudice, The New Musical) to give us a sampling of the November 2009 play. Never have I wanted an excuse to visit New York more, and I've got 13 months to think of one... (They are, however, doing a one-night-only preview in Rochester on the 21st of this month for those lucky people nearby.)

All this AND there was a Regency Ball! Complete with costumed gowns. And bonnets. And English dancing.

So, it was fun, and it was made even more so by getting to meet Shomala, Pat, Judy, Joan, Rita, Marsha & Conrad and so many other wonderful Janeites...and to share the weekend with Pamala, Abigail and Elaine--thanks to you all!

Next year, Philadelphia.

11 comments:

Pam said...

Oh, Marilyn--that sounds like it was so fun! I'm jealous of not only your most excellent adventure, but your group and your book and the tie-in and everything.

Pictures? :-)

Sandra Ferguson said...

Sounds like a totally fabulous time. Um, why do you need a separate reason to visit New York. I'd think hubby dearest would see this is a prime opportunity to make you all things 'happy'.

Glad you had a safe and wonderful trip.

How goes the promotional excursion?

Can't wait for you to post on your next promotional adventure.

Marilyn Brant said...

Pam~I have to say, it was so nice to be in a place where everyone in every room (!!!) understood the Jane fixation :-). I'll see what I can do for pictures...need to get that digital camera soon...

Sandra~I will pass along your comment to my dear hubby! As for the promo stuff, I now have a folder of info and pre-pub suggestions--not a comprehensive list, I'm sure--but I'm working on compiling and will be happy to share!

Robin said...

What a fanastic time! I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it so much! And a ball? That is the coolest thing ever! Welcome back, even though I bet you wished it went on for a few more days. :)

Caryn Caldwell said...

Oh, Marilyn, that sounds FANTASTIC!!! I'm so jealous. Glad you had such a good time. And you even got to go to a ball? Fun. Did you get to play whist, too? (I've always kind of wanted to learn to play that. Next time we're both at a conference together, you up for a game of whist? I bet we could dig up the rules online and find a couple more players.)

Laurie Viera Rigler said...

Thanks for a great post, Marilyn--I'm so happy I got to meet you in Chicago. That Saturday night panel sounds like it was fascinating. Which is the only problem with the AGM: how does one attend several breakouts and panels and events at once? So much going on at the same time. Perhaps your new Jane Austen watch has the answer? (I now have timepiece envy!)

L.A. Mitchell said...

Sounds like fun, Marilyn. Pictures in your Regency gown, please...

Marilyn Brant said...

Robin~thanks! Yeah, I would've liked to have spent more time there, esp. since there was no way I could attend every workshop that interested me. I mean, "Love in the Shrubbery"?? Would've loved to have been in 2 places at once so I could've heard that one...

Caryn~for YOU I'd play whist. I'm warning you, though, I seriously suck at card games and can barely manage "Go Fish," but I'd give whist a try. Another reason for you to go to D.C. next summer???

Laurie~so glad to have met you, too--and you already know I'm a fan! Really looking forward to your "Addict" sequel next spring... ("Jane says to write faster." :-)

Marilyn Brant said...

L.A.~I'm working on getting pictures!! But forget about me, what your REALLY want to see is the Broadway Mr. Darcy...trust me on this :).

Pamala Knight said...

Thank the heavens that you were there to play guide because I, like Laura, was a bit overwhelmed with all the awesomeness that was JASNA. So many wonderful lectures, sessions and breakouts. I wonder if they recorded them all and will make a CD/DVD available?

I'll have to go download my pictures to see if I have any that are fit to share.

Marilyn Brant said...

Oh, Pamala...I believe it was YOU who led ME through the maze of lace, scones and lectures... Thank you, my friend. :)