Category Archives: My Jane Austen Summer

Should I Laugh in the Face of Rejection?

Kathryn Stockett spoke to a standing room only crowd in a huge church sanctuary because there wasn’t enough room anywhere else in Dallas for her rock-star crowd.  We were totally with her when she began reading from a pile of rejection letters.  She named names, and what could we do but laugh at the stupidity of the agents and editors who rejected THE HELP.  We loved imagining how they must be kicking themselves, no longer able to trust their judgment, mortified and embarrassed before the entire literary world.

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Writing in Isolation

William Cruise 091

One of the places I did not go this summer.

I have been telling my husband:  if I had one week of total isolation I could finish my novel.  Well, I got my chance to prove it.  As of 8:00 am last Monday morning, I was HOME ALONE.  For five days it was just me and my novel.

Day T-1:  I wanted to hit the ground running so I cleaned my office (for the first time since 2013) and cleared my desk of everything not related to the novel-in-progress.  The result was exhilarating and I decided I should do that more often.

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Trespassing for Fiction: How I Stole a Manor House for My Novel

Previously published on Girlfriends Book Club

Since we are discussing setting I will reluctantly work past my discomfort to share, not only how I obtained realistic details to create the manor house in my novel, but also how a sense of poetic entitlement caused me to behave badly.  Ahem.  (Sound of me clearing throat).  I avoided arrest and have purposely omitted names in this post in order to protect myself.

Posted in Avon/Harper Collins, Cindy Jones, Jane Austen, Living in a novel, My Jane Austen Summer, The art of writing..., Uncategorized, writing exercise, Writing Nightmares | Tagged | Leave a comment

Jane Austen and Lord Byron Spar–in my Office

Previously Published April 4, 2012 | on Austen Authors


My office has become rather crowded lately.  On the day my agent told me I needed a better title for my new novel, the banter had reached such a level I could not hear myself think.  Some of my imaginary friends would have to go–but which?  Jane Austen has been around ever since I began writing My Jane Austen Summer.  She was present for the endless rewrites, editorial submission, and the launch.  Byron, Shelley, and Keats arrived the day I began writing the new novel.  We’d been busy working for the past three years, puzzling out scenes and dialogue for their cameo appearances.  But once the new novel was finished–(except for the title)–the Romantic Poets became idle–which is not a good thing.  Shelley plays with the faucets in my bathroom.  Jane Austen has been teaching Keats to cough into his sleeve which makes a mess.  And Byron is Byron.


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Skyping My Jane Austen On Her Birthday

My Jane Austen looks kind of like this

I Skyped from my office.  “Happy birthday!” I said.  Clearly her house was full of revelers and I struggled to hide my embarrassment.  “I’m sorry to interrupt your party.”

“Nonsense, Jane Austen said, “You’ve saved me the trouble of inviting you.”

I fell into the awkward lull.

“Don’t fret, you’re not the only guest to arrive via Skype,” she said.  “We just hung up with Mark Twain.”

“But he’s dead.”  Her guests looked oddly familiar.  “Is that Charlotte Bronte?” I asked.

Jane turned to look.  “Yes,” she said.

Posted in Cindy Jones, contest, Jane Austen, My Jane Austen, My Jane Austen Summer | 128 Comments

JASNA AGM: Insider Report (with a secret)

This blog was posted on Austen Authors on September 24, 2011

AGM Steering Committee Meets in Ft. Worth


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Five Sideways Sources for Writing Instruction

This post was recently published in Girlfriends Book Club 

Since I don’t have an MFA, my learning curve offers a unique perspective on the subject of writing instruction including several less conventional resources. Here are five sources for important lessons I didn’t learn in a formal program:
  1. Gossip: Understanding how individuals operate under pressure is a prerequisite for creating empathetic characters and a grasp of the complex world of human psychology is expected from the get-go. Fortunately, my grandmother, a professional counselor, shared her expertise with me–her oddly attentive granddaughter–from an early age. We lingered at the table long after meals, solving the the problems of in-laws and outlaws, leaving no unseen pressure under-analyzed. If you don’t have a professionally trained grandmother, an observant girlfriend will do. And if the term gossip bothers you, just call it material.
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Jane Austen Appears In Tweed Jacket

Picture made just after I confronted her about Antigua

I met Jane Austen through my parents.  She occupied a top bookshelf between Aristotle and Balzac, wearing the same tan tweedy jacket all the Great Books wore.  From my teenager perspective, she seemed as accessible as a marble goddess in a museum.  Nonetheless, one acutely boring day while wondering WILL I EVER ESCAPE THIS SMALL TOWN, I found myself precariously bereft:  between books with nothing to read, and decades before the day of instant downloads.  Thus, the annoying choice:  either not read, or resort to my parents’ Great Books collection.  I pulled Sense & Sensibility off the shelf and spent several days out of town—in Jane Austen’s world.  I could have mustered greater enthusiasm if she’d included a Heathcliff in her pages, but she was a friend of my parents, after all.

Posted in Cindy Jones, My Jane Austen, My Jane Austen Summer | 49 Comments

Leaving Town

What did we forget to pack?

I need a shot of adrenaline in order to leave town.  Other people routinely lower thermostats, lock doors, and depart on schedule, but in the fraternity house we call home, I can’t find the thermostat behind last night’s pizza boxes and we’re lucky if our doors are closed.  Nobody organizes so much as a toothbrush without a packing list and the packing list can’t get created until the increasing pressure of a departure date triggers an adrenaline boost.

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Memo to Younger Writing-Self

Me with My Literary Agent

I will never be able to go back in time to visit earlier versions of my writing-self, but if I could, I would offer my younger writing-self a firm pat on the back and tell her that the endless rejection and setbacks would eventually result in a published book. 

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