Friday, July 22, 2016

What is A BUSS from LAFAYETTE about? :Television Interview Part 3:

Here is the third excerpt from the television interview I did on June 21, 2016, on "Gate City Chronicles", hosted by Kevin Avard. In this bit, we're talking about the plot of A Buss from Lafayette.

If this video does not show up on your mobile device, you can watch it here instead!

Deedy held the mob cap of some lady named Jane Austen. We guess this is a writer thing.

Here's Deedy (Dorothea Jensen to you) again, talking about something that happened almost twenty years ago. Good grief. We wish she'd stop dwelling on the past, get back to the present and write more of our stories! Oh, well.  Love, Bizzy, Blizzy, Dizzy, Fizzy, Frizzy, Quizzy, Tizzy, and Whizzy.

Here's Deedy:

Holding Jane Austen's Mob Cap

As those of you know who have watched my video blogs (click here), or watched my tv interview #2 (click here) or read my written blogs, I got the idea for A Buss from Lafayette while on a Jane Austen tour of England in 1997. That was when I received the "indirect" buss (kiss) from Lafayette via a woman whose great-grandmother had been kissed by him in 1824, and who passed that kiss down in the family and on to me.

I recently remembered an amusing incident from that tour which I have decided to relate to you. It is linked only tangentially to A Buss from Lafayette, but I'm writing about it anyway.

First of all, you must understand that this was the first tour put on by the Jane Austen Society of North America, of which I am a life member. For a Jane Austen lover, it was a wonderful experience. We visited Steventon (the site of the house in which she was born), London (where she stayed with her brother and we also saw and handled the collection of her surviving manuscripts then housed at the British Museum), Bath (where parts of both Northanger Abby and Persuasion were set), Godmersham (the estate where Jane Austen's brother lived) and many other Austen locales.

One of these locales was Lyme Regis, the seaside town where Louisa Musgrove falls from the Cobb in Persuasion.  As our bus was approaching the town, I could hear the tour organizer and British tour guide chatting in the seat ahead of mine. Apparently they had been contacted by a woman who said she was descended from Jane Austen's brother, Edward, who had been adopted by wealthy relatives and subsequently changed his name to Knight. This purported descendant had told the tour leaders that she had a number of Jane Austen artifacts that had come down in her family and she wanted to show them to us. The problem was that no one knew 1) if she was actually an Austen descendant; or 2) if what she had to show us were genuine Austen heirlooms. Also, the tour was on a tight schedule and the tour leaders did not want to be delayed by someone who might be a loony tune. I heard them decide to meet with her, but to do what they could to keep the encounter as short as possible.

When we arrived in Lyme Regis, this is the woman who met us at a museum, carrying a number of bags. I don't remember her name, but I wrote down "Mrs. C." on the back of one of these pictures.

Was she really a descendant of Jane Austen's wealthy brother?

I watched the tour leaders' reaction: they didn't seem convinced.

Then Mrs. C. started pulling things out of her bags.

Something she showed us, some document or other, did seem to indicate that she was the Real Deal.

Then Mrs. C. brought out the rest of the items she'd brought along to show us:

1) A set of scrabble-ish letters like those used in Emma to spell out coded messages between secret lovers, and some "spillikins" (pick up sticks). Mrs. C. said they had belonged to Jane Austen.

2) A lace "fichu", that was worn as a collar, that had belonged to Jane Austen

3) An ebony fan that had belonged to Jane Austen. 

4. A beaded bag made by Jane Austen. (When we later went to Chawton Cottage, where Jane Austen lived at the end of her short life, there was an identical beaded bag on display there.)

5. A pair of Jane Austen's gloves.

5. And a lace cap made and worn by Jane Austen herself.


Meanwhile, the tour leaders kept trying to hurry Mrs. C. along so we could get on to see Lyme Regis. Our schedule, you know.

But I had questions for Mrs. C. Lots of questions. Every time I asked another one, however, the tour leaders did not look pleased with me.

I didn't care.

Especially when I was allowed to hold Jane Austen's lace cap.

I don't know if subsequent Jane Austen tours have scheduled in Mrs. C, or whether it was eventually decided that these items weren't authentic.

She, and they, were real enough for me.

Center: beaded bag
Upper left: fichu (collar)
Next to the beaded bag: spillikins
Lower right corner: lace cap
Center: letters from a word game like those used by Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax in  Emma. I think they came from the box of game pieces on the right.

 An ebony fan and a grooming kit.

Me holding Jane Austen's cap. Those of you who have read A Buss from Lafayette know that such a mob cap figured in my story.

Just for good measure, here is a picture of me standing on "Granny's Teeth" on the Lyme Regis Cobb. These precarious stairs down from the Upper Cobb to the Lower Cobb might have been the ones where Louisa Musgrove fell and ended up with a severe concussion.

[Captain Wentworth] advised her against it, thought the jar too great; but no, he reasoned and talked in vain, she smiled and said, "I am determined I will:" he put out his hands; she was too precipitate by half a second, she fell on the pavement on the Lower Cobb, and was taken up lifeless!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An Indirect "Buss" from Lafayette: Deedy's Television Interview Part 2

Here I am talking (again) about how I got the idea for A Buss from Lafayette and a buss (kiss) on the cheek from someone whose great-grandmother had been kissed by Lafayette in 1824!

If this video does not show up on your mobile device, you can watch it here instead!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

OK, Now's She's Really Scaring Us!

We Izzy Elves really were shocked when we saw this latest post that Deedy (that's Dorothea Jensen to you) wrote about how long it has taken for her to re-start writing this historical fiction novel for kids. We sincerely hope it doesn't take her this long to finish writing our stories!


Bizzy, Blizzy, Dizzy, Fizzy, Frizzy, Quizzy, Tizzy, and Whizzy

(Here is our picture, in case you've forgotten what we look like. Sigh.)

Now here's Deedy:


I know "Tempus Fugit", but how shocking is THIS!

The 17th century house in Wethersfield, CT, that might have been the setting for The Witch of Blackbird Pond, one of my childhood favorites. My new story will be set in the same era, albeit in Massachusetts instead of Connecticut.

So I am starting to work on a new book for young readers, set in 1675 in the colony of Massachusetts. Its working title is "A Scalp on the Moon".  (I'll explain why later.)

I actually came up with the idea for this story a long time ago, did lots of research, took lots of notes, and wrote the first three chapters. Then, for a variety of reasons, I stopped working on it.

I knew it was quite a few years since I did anything with Scalp, but when I found the box in which I'd stowed away what I'd done so far, I was in a for a genuine shock.

The date I found on the notes I had taken was (are you ready for this?) 1993!


Good grief.

Better get back to work before any more tempus fugits!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The value of historical fiction for kids: Deedy's Television Interview Part 1

 Here is another post by Deedy (Dorothea Jensen to you) as she continues to hog our blog!   She promises to finish writing Bizzy, the Know-it-All Elf soon to make it up to us. We'll believe it when we see it.  

Love,  the Izzy Elves.

Here is a short excerpt from a television interview I did  on June 21 on the Gate City Chronicles program, hosted by NH Sen. Kevin Avard. Here I talk about why historical fiction is such a valuable way of helping young readers understand historical events. (Please note: this video will not show up on mobile devices. I'll try to find another way for you to watch it!) Hmmm. try this: TV Excerpt 1 on Facebook

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Yorktown: Lafayette's Changing View of "Glory"

The following quote informed my overall vision of who Lafayette was and what he became over the course of the American Revolution:

Choosing to rebuff de Grasse and insist on waiting for Washington was out of character for the man who had arrived in America four years before, but Lafayette had changed. Blooded in battle, bonded with his men, sobered by the demands of leadership, and devoted not only to the principles of the Revolution but also to its leader, he had apparently come to recognize that there was more at stake than his personal glory, or that glory was a more complex alloy than he had known before. 

-For Liberty and Glory, Washington and Lafayette
and their Revolutions by James R. Gaines

Here is part of the section in which I used this information in A Buss from Lafayette:

Mr. Gilman nodded at me and explained how after Lafayette had bottled up Cornwallis at Yorktown, the French fleet under Admiral DeGrasse arrived to put the cork in that bottle. The French ships blocked the British from escaping from Yorktown by sea. DeGrasse thought that between Lafayette’s men and his own forces, there were enough men to mount an immediate assault on the besieged town.
“Such an attack could have brought Lafayette all the glory of what proved to be the final major action of the war,” said Mr. Gilman, “but Lafayette refused to do it. Instead, he waited patiently for Washington to arrive with the bulk of the American and French troops.
    - A Buss from Lafayette ©2016 by Dorothea Jensen