Would Jane Austen or The Bronte Sisters Have Self-Published?

Posted by admin on Thursday Sep 29, 2011 Under Uncategorized

Well, they did, actually. Or offered to. Or rather their male family members offered to on ” . . . behalf of the author who will incur all expenses” since no one could know their gender. In Austen’s case, the publisher took the manuscript from her father and then refused to publish it. Years went by — something like ten years — before she was ever in print. Such was the reality for women authors in her day.

I’ve been thinking about the spaces these women writers carved out for themselves. Such small tables, such narrow lives, such vivid imaginations, such huge accomplishments.

Look at Jane Austen’s tiny desk and quill pen in the middle of her family’s parlor. It was here she wrote and edited her books. Think of all the pages of Sense and Sensibility piled on top and everyone chattering around her.

And then there’s the table on the right where the Bronte sisters wrote and discussed their books, where they came up with their pseudonyms — Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell — in order to (self) publish their first volumes. Think of the Yorkshire wind howling around them and the church cemetery — the one that would later cause Charlotte’s death from thyphoid fever– their bleak view from the window.

And on the other side of the Atlantic, Emily Dickinson sat at this small desk and stared out of this window when she wrote poems that would — except for only a handful — be hidden away.

When I read about the financial hardships of Jane Austen, for example, the isolation of the Brontes, or all the domestic duties of Emily Dickinson, I have to wonder how I would have fared.

I think of what they achieved with so little formal education, so little personal freedom or privacy. How did they even know what they knew?

Every woman who writes anything — even a letter to the editor — owes them, and other women writers, a huge debt.

Me included.

So what do I do about it?

Not give up. I think that’s what’s required here. Not giving up.

And so self-publishing is my way of repaying my debt to these women writers. Who knows what will happen, and if not to me, to someone else because of my actions?

So in the spirit of Aphra Behn, the 17th century writer and first woman author to earn money from her writing, and Amanda Hocking, one of the great 21st century self-publishing women authors, I’m putting my book up on my website in written form, free.

“All women ought to let flowers fall upon the grave of Aphra Behn . . . for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.”

Imagine Virginia Woolf writing that sentence at her desk on the right.

With great deference to them and all women authors Palace of the Blue Butterfly is my offering, my flower on the grave of Aphra Behn. Click on the title to see the chapters as I put them up.

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Chick Lit: What is it, Anyway?

Posted by admin on Thursday Apr 21, 2011 Under Uncategorized

Palace of the Blue Butterfly | Episode 5

Here’s the way I look at it. If I weren’t supposed to enjoy reading and writing books like Laura Caldwell’s ChickLit/Romantic Suspense novels, would hammocks, Lipton’s Diet Ice Tea with Lemon and Bain de Soleil suntan lotion ever have been invented? I think not, girlfriends.

So what is Chick Lit? And why do women like it? Well, as Laura Caldwell herself says, “[Chick Lit] connotes a work that appeals to women, and has as its primary objective, the desire to entertain.”

Wow. Think about it. Where else in society can we find something whose primary objective is to appeal to us, entertain us?

Not something that exhorts us to be better—lose weight, get that mammogram, cook healthy Crock-Pot, family meals?

Not something that plays on our weaknesses so we go out and buy cosmetics and shoes?

Not something that leaves us feeling slightly like failures because, according to whatever we’re reading, we failed to do X?

I don’t know, but chocolate doesn’t count. Its primary objective is just to be chocolate.

However, with Chick-Lit, someone actually sat down and spent a great deal of time, energy, imagination and what-have-you with the sole objective of entertaining us ladies. People can turn their noses up at it, but in a world that works against women much of the time, Chick/Lit tells me that I, and my female world, matter. Sounds sort of important to me.

Hammock by OceanAnyway, Laura Caldwell merges the genres of Chick/Lit and Romantic Suspense, and her success blazes a trail for other women like me (maybe you?), and other novels like mine (maybe yours?). Caldwell’s books create a shelf in the bookstore for what I call trans-genre novels. You know, books that otherwise might have seemed deviant to publishers, books that had ummm . . . genre issues. They really used to hate that. But hey, remember when I said I thought everything I had in life was because some woman somewhere did something she wasn’t supposed to do? Well, here’s another example.

Like other Chick-Lit/Romantic Suspense writers, I write for women. I write about what that great ChickLit writer of the 19th century—none other than Charlotte Bronte— called the “stormy sisterhood” of the passions. In novels, like in life, I want to be on the edge of my seat even if that seat is a hammock by the beach.

Well, it’s that time of year now when you’re gathering up your beach reading. This time add beach listening to the list. Just follow the instructions on how to download for a Mac or PC. Then pop in your earbuds, close your eyes, rock in the hammock and listen to . . .

[wpaudio url=”http://www.allaboutjanesranch.com/pods/POBB5.mp3″ text=”Episode 5 – click and listen” dl=”0″]

 

Download instructions

 

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