It’s my great pleasure to be the final stop for the Meryton Press Dear Friend Event and to host the author of one of my favorite Meryton Press books, Gail McEwen. Books and friends have always been at the heart of the JAFF community and this event celebrates the connections between the two of them:
“Mrs. Collins welcomed her friend with the liveliest pleasure, and Elizabeth was more and more satisfied with coming, when she found herself so affectionately received.” – Jane Austen
Jane Austen describes a fine friendship between Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Collins. One friend welcomes another with ‘the liveliest pleasure,” and the other is pleased to share in that. We at Meryton Press know from your words that you, our fans, receive our books with pleasure and affection. It makes our authors warm inside to know that.
In the month of April, we want to show our appreciation to you, our most steadfast supporters, our dear friends. Good friends give each other gifts. You have given us the gift of your affectionate reception, and we want to reciprocate by giving some of you gifts in return.
As much as we’d like to, we can’t give everyone a gift, but at each hosted blog post during this event on the schedule listed below, an opportunity will be given to enter to win a surprise gift. Each person who comments can enter a Rafflecopter drawing to win. Although a person can enter multiple times (once on each blog post and tweet daily on each blog post), they can win only once. One winner will be chosen at each blog. Five gifts total will be awarded.
When I stumbled upon the Jane Austen Fan Fiction community in 2014, it was as if I had been given the keys to a magical kingdom, as I browsed one bookshelf after the other, each filled with a different type of Austenesque fiction. There were sequels, variations, and retellings, filled with things such as zombies, villains, and of course, heart-melting romances, with each story attempting to capture the wit, the suspense, and the emotive power that one only experiences through the power of reading a truly wonderful story.
I soon came to find a true friend in this community through the wonderful people from Meryton Press. Each time I saw the Meryton Press name associated with a JAFF publication, my interest was piqued and my head was turned in their direction. I love the quality of their stories and I always look forward to seeing what’s new and in-the-works at Meryton Press. I believe the talented people behind-the-scenes work hard to give JAFF readers a memorable reading experience, time and time again!
The Internet has helped to shape the JAFF community in ways we could not have imagined years ago. Together, we are able as a reading community to enjoy book cover reveals, blog tours, and virtual exchanges that bring the joys of a book club right to our very own fingertips in the comforts of any of the places which we inhabit. Throughout these virtual experiences, Meryton Press brings us Austenesque authors from all over the world whose unique talents shine through the stories they create for their readers.
As a young girl, my earliest reading experiences were shaped by my love for Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series, first in print, and then on television. Oh, how I loved going to school after each show so I could talk to my friends about each week’s episode of life on the prairie with Ma, Pa, Half Pint, and her siblings, all tucked within their rural early American community. These stories united us as friends and allowed us to imagine how our own childhoods may take shape, as we experienced the trials and tribulations of Laura’s journey from childhood into young womanhood. The books from this series sit in a neat pile that’s prominently displayed in my office as a tribute and a reminder to the deep love I have for reading and sharing stories.
Being part of the JAFF community rekindled my passion for fiction reading and throughout this experience, Meryton Press has played a starring role for me. It’s been a pleasure hosting their cover reveals, participating in their books tour, reading their stories, and mostly, talking to other JAFF readers about so many of the wonderful stories that we have loved from Meryton Press. When I finish a great book, the very first thing I want to do is talk to another friend about that book. Thank you, Meryton Press, for publishing so many stories that I have loved to read and discuss with my friends. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart to my very dear and faithful Just Jane 1813 readers, who help me feel so very connected to each and every one of you through our frequent exchanges; whether to discuss a story, recommend a book to one another, or just to chat about JAFF, I always look forward to spending time together.
Today, it’s my great honor to welcome Gail McEwen for her very first visit to Just Jane 1813. I must begin by thanking Gail for writing one of the most memorable JAFF stories that I have had the pleasure of reading; Stronger Even Than Pride. If you’re willing to go out of your comfort zone and try a story filled with some pretty intense angst, I highly recommend this story. I couldn’t put it down!
It also has a pretty disturbing storyline since Elizabeth Bennet marries the very worst man suited for her in so many ways and has to overcome a lot of prejudice to find her happily-ever-after. I still go back and reread parts of this story just because it’s so emotionally charged, and for me, satisfying in its resolution.
You ask me why I love books and reading?
Yeah, the thing is…
You know, this isn’t an easy question to answer. Who would have thought it? I’m a voracious and passionate reader and writer of books, so why am I finding it difficult to articulate this love of mine? I’ll give it a shot, but first I must ask for a little indulgence as I recount a story from my long ago youth.
It was some sort of ‘values’ exercise in Health class. The teacher listed ten or so values on the board and we were supposed to rank our top five. They were items like Success, Wealth, Happiness, Cleanliness, Marriage, Career… that sort of thing. Well, we ranked our top five and then the teacher tallied them on the board. I was astonished when the count was finished and Cleanliness came out at #3. I hadn’t ranked it in my top five at all. I was astonished. And ashamed. And a little worried. Why didn’t I value cleanliness like the rest of my class did? I must be a horrible, dirty person. Except that I wasn’t.
That experience didn’t haunt me, but it did come back to me every now and then, and it took me a while to suss it out. But when I did, here’s what I came up with: Cleanliness to me was a given. My mother was a competent and careful housekeeper and she taught my sister and I well. I never really thought about things being clean because they just were. When something got dirty, we dealt with it. I didn’t especially value cleanliness because I didn’t know anything different.
I think your particular question about books and reading is the same for me. I can’t articulate why, because I don’t know anything different. You may as well ask me why I love breathing. I never think about it or try to quantify it, it’s just something I do.
Books have always been – reading has always been.
Starting from Dr. Seuss and moving on to the Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club – my favorite was called Dangerous Island and I must have read it a hundred times, sprawled on my bed –; from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Miss Osborne the Mop and Grandma’s Reader’s Digest Condensed books; then on to Victoria Holt, Tolkein, Shakespeare, O’Brien, McCall Smith, Sayers and, of course – after a brief flirtation with the Brontes – Austen.
Books and reading are and have been an inseparable feature of my native habitat. As natural as inhaling and exhaling.
If I may beg for one more quick indulgence… Imagine I’m Marissa Tomei, as Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny (and if you could imagine me actually looking like her while you’re at it, I’d be ever so grateful) sitting on the witness stand in your courtroom, asked to defend my credentials. Please read in your best Brooklyn accent:
My mother was a reader. My father was a reader. My Grandma was a reader. My aunts, my cousins and my sister were all readers. So yeah, I read. I read while I’m eating; I read in the bathroom; when I’m drying my hair; when I’m cooking; when I should be sleeping; when I should be doing anything else.
I read to my kids every day and I raised four more readers.
I’ll read books, ebooks, fanfiction online, and yeah, I’ll read poetry too. I’ll read a book I love over and over and over, but I’ll take a cereal box or prescription drug insert in a pinch.
So, you wanna ax me why I love books? Why I love reading?
I guess it comes down to this: It’s knit in my bones. It’s who I am. I don’t know anything different.
Gail, it’s been my pleasure having you visit with my readers at Just Jane 1813. Your family sounds a lot like my family. I loved reading all about how you were shaped into a reader and I can’t wait to hear the stories from my own readers as well, so please feel free to share your stories and describe for us what shaped you into the reader you are today?
It’s Giveaway Time!
Giveaway is open to US residents only. Eligible entries will comment on Dear Friend Event blog posts, tweet about the event and use the Rafflecopter to enter. Winners will provide a valid U.S. shipping address for gift delivery upon request. Further details for entering to win a gift are posted here.
- All Winners will be contacted via social media or email and announced on the Meryton Press website, Facebook, and/or Twitter.
- In the event that a winner or winners do not respond within 5 days, a new winner will be drawn.
- Winners may not be Meryton Press employees, contractors or authors.
- An entrant can enter once per Dear Friend Event blog post and multiple times on Social Media, but can win only once.
- This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or Twitter.
More Agreeably Engaged–April 1; ends at 11:59 PM April 6th; winner announced April 7th
Austenesque Reviews–April 8; ends at 11:59 PM April 13th; winner announced April 14th
So little time…–April 15; ends at 11:59 PM April 20th; winner announced April 21st
Diary of an Eccentric–April 22; ends at 11:59 PM April 27th; winner announced April 28th
Just Jane 1813–April 29; ends at 11:59 PM May 4th; winner announced my May 5th