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Monday, 23 May 2016

Guest Post and Giveaway from Debra E Marvin - Jane the Smart

Austen in Austen - Alarmingly Charming by Debra E Marvin
Today I am pleased to welcome Debra E Marvin to the blog. Debra has written a short story. 'Alarmingly Charming', in 'Austen in Austin' Volume 1. This is a set of four novellas each based on a different one of Austen's stories, all set in the past in Austin, in Texas. Debra has a guest post for us relating to her view of Austen's cleverness, and is kindly offering a giveaway of the 'Austen in Austin' book to a commenter here. Read on for more details!


Jane the Smart

With the release of Love and Friendship, based on Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, promotions include the startling news that Jane Austen was funny. Given the obvious wit in her fiction, a humorous Jane isn’t news, except perhaps to those who read her works only under duress.

We admire clever people, and certainly Austen used that distinction in her characters, but I find I’m increasingly curious about her as a person ahead of her peers, by at least a hundred years. (Jane would have been a flapper, don’t you think?) Her heroines work within the boundaries, and only Fanny, Marianne and in particular, Lizzy, in my opinion, balk at the system. And “the system” was the basis of Austen’s fiction: the inequitable and unfair rules serving as both story conflict and social commentary. It had been decades since readers saw the likes of robust fiction for the sake of entertainment: Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders, Tom Jones, and The Beggar’s Opera.  Late century authors like Ann Radcliffe promoted fantasy as escape; Austen instead pulled all attention to the constrictions in the every-day.

But what a truly intelligent woman she must have been. And bold. Surely she knew she was writing out of time. Entertaining as her rule-mocking is, we can’t help but feel sad for such limited opportunities. The social class system worked because there weren’t other options.

Do you agree that Austen’s fiction could well have been written now as a look back?

I’d like to think her father pushed her to think for herself. His library was massive for a man of his income—it is said he had over 500 books. Of course reading was admirable but there were those who felt too much reading, and reading of fiction (called romance at the time) was likely damaging to women. They’d get strange ideas, no doubt! Did Jane’s independent nature expand with all that reading? I’ve had the impression Jane demanded different expectations. A wild imagination and hours spent at her writing desk could scarcely be encouraged with so much to be learned, and done by hand, in the process to one day become the lady of her own house.

For further example, Mr. Austen actually tried to get Jane’s (a woman) work published—and idea that would have become fodder for much speculation by all the county.

Jane’s spinsterhood by fate or by choice will always be a mystery. Choosing to write for income would have limited her suitability as a wife. My theory is, she just didn’t meet enough men who matched her intelligence. Being a published author failed to provide enough income, and she and her books became obsolete until her nephew wrote a biography during the late Victorian era. Suddenly, Austen was the new darling of the literati. Do you wonder, as I, if this new audience of women were any better off in choices?

Authors of historical romance are cautioned to avoid giving their heroines modern day sensibilities and independence, yet we can’t do with those who are dependent and meek.  Austen faced the very same challenge, and so we are in good company. I believe her timelessness works because of her out-of-time writing. Clever, clever girl!

Book Cover: Austen in Austen - Alarmingly Charming by Debra E Marvin
Alarmingly Charming, part of the Austen in Austin Vol 1 anthology from WhiteFire Publishing:

1887: As travel companion to her condescending cousin, Philadelphian Kathryn Morton dreamily anticipates a week in the Wild West as the best cure for meekness. After a long rail journey and a steady diet of gothic dime novels, she shivers, despite the Texas heat, at the ghastly tales of the Austin Axe Murderer. Kathryn has little time to fret, given the competing attentions of quiet rancher Harmon Gray and elegant gentleman Jonathan Wellington. With her new-found confidence and her boundless imagination, she sets out to solve the mystery of Hyde Park Cemetery before another student flees Austen Abbey. Only then can she return home to her English-born parents as an independent American woman. A woman in love. But on the stormiest of nights, Kathryn learns that solving the mystery may destroy a future with the man she’s fallen for in a big Texas way.

Debra E Marvin, Author of Alarmingly Charming, part of the Austen in Austin Anthology
Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and serves on the board of Bridges Ministry in Seneca Falls, NY. In 2015, she released her first two novellas, “Alarmingly Charming” in Austen in Austen Vol 1 from WhiteFire Publishing, and “Desert Duet” from Forget Me Not Romances, after many unpublished contest successes including two finals for the Daphne DuMaurier award. Debra works as a program assistant at Cornell University, and enjoys her family and grandchildren, obsessively buying fabric, watching British programming and traveling with her childhood friends.


Book Cover: Austen in Austin
Book Blurb:

Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love--Jane Austen style. Volume 1 includes: 

If I Loved You Less by Gina Welborn, based on Emma; A prideful matchmaker examines her own heart when her protégé falls for the wrong suitor. 

Refinements by Anita Mae Draper, based on Sense and Sensibility; A misguided academy graduate spends the summer falling in love . . . twice. 

One Word from You by Susanne Dietze, based on Pride and Prejudice; A down-on-her-luck journalist finds the story of her dreams, but her prejudice may cost her true love . . . and her career. 

Alarmingly Charming by Debra E. Marvin, based on Northanger Abbey; A timid gothic dime-novel enthusiast tries to solve the mystery of a haunted cemetery and, even more shocking, why two equally charming suitors compete for her attentions. 

Giveaway time!

Debra has kindly offered a giveaway of the 'Austen in Austin' anthology to two commenters here, a paperback copy which US entrants can win, and an e-book copy, which is open to international entrants. To enter, just leave a comment on this post by the end of the day on Monday 30 May. Please can you include whether you are US or INT in your comments, and please leave a way for me to contact you in case you are a lucky winner.

Thank you so much to Debra for the guest post and giveaway!


31 comments:

  1. What a lovely idea for an anthology, Debra. Congrats on being a finalist in the Daphne DuMaurier contest. Wow! I'm so pleased you stopped by and would love to add this to my pile of books to read.

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    1. Thanks so much for commenting. I have to admit I'm most proud of those finals in the DuMaurier contest. I mean... wow, right? Those two stories are still unpublished. Sometimes it's so difficult to find the timing in the market. I wish you the best in the drawing!

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    2. Love this idea! What a wonderful collection of authors and story ideas. Wishing these talented writers much success! Thanks for offering the giveaway. I am in the US, and my email is karenelangeATgmailDOTcom.

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    3. Hi Joy! I'm so pleased to have you drop by. Thanks for commenting :)

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    4. Hi Karen, thanks for your comment and good luck in the giveaway.

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  2. love how Austen's heroines transported to Texas through these variations

    dholcomb1 (at) aol (dot) com

    denise

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    1. Thanks Denise! I fell in love with Austin.
      I have a character I wrote 15 years ago that I named Deidre Holcomb. Sorry, but I think of that when I see you name! I'll try to move on... :)

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    2. Hi Denise! It was good to see them in a different time setting. I like them in Regency settings but if an author moves away from that they are often contemporary so it is nice to see them in another time altogether.

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  3. I think its amusing how folks are reacting to Love & Friendship that haven't encountered Jane Austen before (or as you say, encountered under duress). Yes, she is fun and witty.
    I think that is interesting to think about what you say about her being a woman out of her time, but yet very much of her time, too.
    I've read your sweet novella that is part of this anthology. Loved it.

    Thanks for an opportunity to win a copy of all the stories.
    sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks Sophia! Vol 2 is coming out in September and we had a great time tying in all the stories and having characters visit one another.
      And thank you so much for your kind words. I do appreciate the reviews so much! They are so important!

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    2. It's surprising the perception some people seem to have of Jane Austen as a prim spinster; her stories are brim full of wit. Thanks for dropping by Sophia!

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  4. Sounds like a wonderful collection. Congratulations! Austen is definitely timeless! Thank you for the giveaway.
    Cherringtonmb at sbcglobal dot net

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    1. Thanks for commenting, and for adding to the discussion! The ups and downs of love haven't changed, and she touches those deep emotions so well!

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    2. Hi Becky. I agree with you, so many of the themes of Austen are timeless and can be transplanted to different times and places.

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  5. Congratulations on being a finalist in the Daphne DuMaurier contest.

    I have this on my TBR pile so any chance at winning is a plus.

    Thanks and good luck.

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    1. Thank you Sheila! I'm glad you've seen the books and found them interesting. We love the covers, and the unique aspect of the time and setting. I appreciate your comments

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    2. Hi Sheila, thanks for dropping by and good luck in the giveaway.

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  6. What an intriguing idea! Can't wait to read these delicious stories -- adding to my Must-Read list now. And thank you for offering a give-away. JanisB TeaGuide @ gmail.com USA

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    1. Wonderful! I do hope you get a chance to read them!

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    2. Hi Janis, I hope you enjoy the stories when you get to read them. Good luck in the giveaway.

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  7. Great post, Deb. Wow - 500 books! He was one smart guy. No wonder she Jane had such a beautiful imagination.

    I'm honored to be in this collection with you. Hugs,
    Anita.

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    1. Yes! That was a huge investment into literature, and probably "non-fiction". Thanks Anita!

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    2. Hi Anita. Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting :)

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  8. Sounds like a fun collection of stories!

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    1. Thanks, Patty!
      We have eight all together and I loved the time we spent working with each other and brainstorming the things that would be the basis for all 8 stories.
      I've read them all and they are all as different as the authors, but reflective of their Austen roots!

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    2. Hi Patty. The collection made for a pretty fun read :)

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  9. I got here from your review and found the collection pretty interesting. I hope to get lucky. I live in Mexico but have an address in the USA so please consider me for both!

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    1. Will do Tere, thanks for dropping by and commenting.

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  10. Austen and Austin sound like a great combo to me.

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    1. Yes, they made for a good combination, although I kept misspelling 'Austin' as Austen when I wrote my review, force of habit!

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    2. We thought so too, and so it was the only way to go when we picked a 'western' setting for our stories. Thanks for commenting!

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