What a fantastic day! I am not all that fond of giving speeches, even if they are getting a bit easier. Nevertheless, it was a tremendous honor to be invited to speak to a group of Jane Austen lovers. A short background: Last fall I was contacted by Carrie Flores, the director of the Central California chapter of the Jane Austen Society of Northern America (JASNA). Here I am with Carrie. We struck up an instant friendship and I have been thrilled to discover a local group dedicated to the ongoing celebration of Jane Austen and the Regency. When Carrie asked me to speak to the group this April, sharing my passion for Jane as proclaimed in my writing, there was no chance of me saying no, even if public speaking is still terrifying! I am happy to report that the speech went very well with minimal shakes and shivers, and everyone was most welcoming and enthusiastic.
The event was held at Hollyhocks, a lovely English-style shop with gorgeous knick-knacks and imported treats. The shop is amazing, and yes I did go on a spending spree! Additionally, Hollyhocks has a rear courtyard with brick patio and huge trees just perfect for an English tea. The food was wonderful, the scones to die for, and flavored teas never-ending. About 30 people came to partake of the culinary delights, springtime atmosphere, and to hear me talk about how Jane Austen’s timeless tale has inspired me. In fact, “Inspiration” was the theme – one that is VERY easy for me to talk about since this entire journey of mine was birthed by overwhelming inspiration.
My husband and daughter accompanied for moral support and assistance. I met a wealth of terrific people who were incredibly kind. I was very nervous, not only about speaking but because Austen devotees can be harsh in their acceptance of fan-fiction writers (as I sadly know all too well). I am happy and humbled to report that every single person was gracious with not a single hint of dissatisfaction or negativity. Whew! I have to confess that it feels very good to be welcomed into this world and I really look forward to becoming more involved in the future.
Next up for the local JASNA group, if you live in the area, is a Book Fair on April 24 and then the all-day Jane Fest on May 8. More details are on my Calendar of Events page and at their website: Fresno JASNA