My Adventures at the 2011 JASNA AGM

Over 600 “Janeites” attended the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the The Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) October 13th through 16th, 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas.  My husband and I were among them. We’ve attended two other AGM’s, one in Milwaukee, WI (2005) and the other in Vancouver, British Columbia (2007), but this is the first year I brought a video camera to record a few highlights of the event. My husband, Matthew Shane Bronson, went with me to my first AGM in Milwaukee. He was reluctant to go, but by the end of that conference he was so thrilled with the events and Regency Ball that he became a member of JASNA, too. This year he was so excited about the conference that our first stop on October 12th was in Southlake at a costume shop called “Over the Top.”

Shane in Costume Before Saturday's Banquet

That evening about 7 PM we went by the Renaissance Worthington Hotel and picked up our registration packets. We each received an awesome bag filled with goodies.

At 8:30 the following morning (Thursday, Oct 13th), Shane and I attended a class taught by Ms. Beverly Francis on English Country Dancing. We learned four dances: “Sprigs of Laurel”, the “Duke of Kent Waltz”, “Midnight Ramble,” and “Mr. Beverage’s Maggot.”

Although I brought a nice dress to wear to the ball, it was not a period costume like my husband’s, so I did a little shopping Thursday afternoon for accessories (shoes).

2011 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, and by the time the official welcome took place at 1:30 PM on Friday (October 14th), several women were already sporting buttons to support their favorite leading man from the book. One could choose either “Team Willoughby” or “Team Brandon.” I chose “Team Brandon.”

Highlights from my dancing class and sessions as well as the the banquet and promenade around Sundance Square are in my video entitled, JASNA AGM 2011- Episode 1 (~ 7 minutes).

The Regency Ball that followed the promenade could not be summed up in one video, so I created three:

JASNA 2011 AGM- Episode 2 (~5 minutes)

JASNA 2011 AGM- Episode 3 (~8 minutes)

JASNA 2011 AGM- Episode 4 (~9 minutes)

Despite the fact that we didn’t return to our hotel until 1 AM on Saturday night, I was up at 6 o’clock to pack, check out and arrive at the Regency Emporium and Author Book Signing by 8:30 AM. A wedding breakfast followed:

Beginning at 10 AM a brunch celebrating the marriage of Miss Marianne Dashwood to Colonel Brandon took place. The newlyweds made an appearance but so did Willoughby. Thankfully, Colonel Brandon dealt with the scoundrel, and we were able to finish our Barton Cottage bacon and Delaford fresh fruit in peace.

In the end, my husband and I were both sorry to leave, but at least we can relive the experience through the many photos and videos I captured of this year’s event. Sadly I don’t know if we’ll be able to attend next year’s AGM in Brooklyn, New York, but we are definitely planning to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice at the…

2013 Annual General Meeting
October 4-6, Minneapolis, Minnesota

709 days and counting…

Upcoming Author Visits and JASNA AGM 2011 in Fort Worth, TX

I was scheduled to visit several elementary schools in Fort Worth next week, and when I realized the 2011 JASNA AGM is also in Fort Worth and coincides with my trip, I knew I had to attend. I was too late to obtain an author table for the member book signing, but I’m so excited about the sessions and the Regency Ball Saturday night. The only question is, what will I wear?

Ch 46 of Sense and Sensibility, (Jane Austen N...

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I’ve been a member of JASNA (The Jane Austen Society of North America) since 2004, and I’ve attended two other AGM’s (Annual General Meetings), one in Milwaukee, WI (2005) and the other in Vancouver, British Columbia (2007). This event is always a great inspiration for my novel(s), The Crossroads of Highbury (a work in progress since 2002). 2011 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Many of the sessions will focus primarily on that book, but I’m also attending sessions that cover broad topics for the Regency period. Here is a peek at my schedule next week:

Wednesday, October 12th

In the morning I visit Dobbs Elementary, and in the afternoon I go to Springer Elementary school.

That evening, sometime between 4 and 8 pm, I’ll drop by the Renaissance Worthington Hotel and pick up my registration packet for the AGM.

Thursday, October 13th

8:30 am – 10 am English Country Dancing Instruction. This class will prepare me for the Regency Ball Saturday night.

1:30 PM – 2:15 PM “The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen”
From the Chawton Estate, the British crime writer Lindsay Ashford, whose novels have been published on both sides of the Atlantic, will tell a fictional story that follows the relationship of Jane Austen and Anne Sharp. Shocked by Jane’s death, Anne turns detective, determined to discover how Jane died and who may have wanted her dead.  Attendees will learn that it is best not to take things at “face” value.

2:30 PM – 3:15 PM “Managing Muslins in the Modern Millennium”
During this engaging special session, Ms. Bradley will review the nuances of Regency clothing and accessories from head to toe, with particular attention to the class distinctions and the social aspects of dress.  Included in her talk will be an explanation of likely wardrobe choices of various characters in Sense and Sensibility.

7:00 PM to 8:00 PM “A Look to Die For”
After dinner on my own, I will step back into the Regency period with special guest lecturer Jinger Heath, founder of BeautiControl skin care company.  Ms. Heath will enlighten us on the perils of beauty with her presentation “A Look to Die For: Regency Cosmetics and Esthetics,” which examines the various methods and means that women used to enhance their looks in Jane Austen’s time.  I’ll learn which poisons of the past were used for “enhancing” a woman’s looks and what social conventions dictated the sacrifice of health for beauty in Regency England.

9:15 – 10:30 pm Whist for Dummies

Friday, October 14th

In the morning I visit Redeemer Montessori School in Irving, and that afternoon I return to the JASNA AGM.

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The official welcome to the 2011 JASNA AGM is at 1:30 pm.

1:55 pm to 2:55 pm:  Dr. Joan Ray will discuss “Sense and Sensibility as Austen’s Problem Novel”.

Session A2 (3:15 PM) Liz Cooper, Wisconsin Region
Jane Austen, Publisher: Writing herself into money and longing for more
“I am never too busy to think of Sense and Sensibility.  I can no more forget it, than a mother can forget her suckling child” – so wrote Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra.  But Austen had to use her own funds to become published.  Learn about the publishing world in Regency times and the royalties Austen received, drawn mostly from her own letters and from those of Austen family members.

Session B1 (4:15 PM)  Jack Laney, Collector and Historian, Kent, WA
Gentlemanly Pursuits: A Brief Discourse on Snuff, Cravats, and Firearms
This interactive session explores snuff and snuff etiquette, the many styles of cravats popular during the period and the firearms of Regency gentlemen. Participants will have an opportunity to try their skills at tying cravats, handling snuff and observing the discharge of a flintlock tinder lighter.  Fun, fun, fun!!!

Session C1 (5:15 PM)  Bill Peirson, Attorney, Dallas, TX
Ports of the Period
The Prince Regent, a man of overindulgence in many ways, liked his punch “strong.”  Join Bill Peirson as he reviews the various ports, sherries, brandies, and other alcoholic beverages that men of Regency England consumed with verve.

Whist Tournament 8:30 to 10 pm or perhaps the Sense and Sensibility Movie Marathon from 7pm to Midnight.

Saturday, October 15th

9:15 am to 10:15 am “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Sense and Sensibility” presented by Juliet McMaster, Elaine Bander, Peter Sabor

Session D1 (10:45 AM) Tom Kelly, Jane Austen Society, Scottish Branch, Edinburgh, Scotland
Dads, Cads, and Lads
This session’s primary question asks, what does Jane Austen’s portrayal of male characters say to contemporary male readers?  How do these groups of characters—the “Dads” who head up families, the “Cads” who disrupt them and the “Lads” who heroically wed our heroines—impact the loves and relationships of the two sisters in Sense and Sensibility?  A real Scotman’s perspective!

Session E1 (11:45 AM) Carrie Bebris, Author, Dayton, OH
Gunsmoke: Dueling in Jane Austen’s Time
Since the duel between Colonel Brandon and Mr. Willoughby takes place entirely off the page, modern readers might not realize that a duel occurred at all.  The unwritten drama in which the gentlemen in question risked death and criminal prosecution is brought to life in a multimedia presentation showing how the duel might have unfolded.

2 – 3 pm “Mr. Darcy’s Wet Shirt & Other Embarassments – Some Pleasures and Pitfalls in Austen Adaptations” presented by Andrew Davies

Session F1 (3:30 PM) James Nagle, Attorney, Seattle, WA
Coaches, Barouches and Gigs, Oh My! Land Transportation in Jane Austen’s Time
From Jane’s donkey-cart, to Henry Crawford’s barouche, Regency travelers, like us, hoped for speed, comfort and safety.  Unfortunately, Jane and her contemporaries had to sacrifice speed for safety or vice versa and endure the discomfort of long kidney-rattling journeys which made for extended stays with friends and relatives.  In this session I’ll learn all about Regency travel, and how your mode of transportation illustrated your status in life.

6 – 7 pm  Reception

7-8:30 pm  Banquet and a Toast to Jane Austen.

Jane Austen (Image via Wikipedia)

9pm – 12am Regency Ball

Sunday, October 16th

8am – 10 pm Regency Emporium and Author Book Signing.

10am – 12 pm Brunch featuring video interview of Deirdre Le Faye, a British writer who has specialized in the life and times of Jane Austen for more than forty years.

Banned Books Week Ends Tomorrow and the ALA website are great resources for Banned Books Week (Sept 24-Oct 1st).

Here are a couple of blog posts about my two of favorite banned books:

Charlotte’s Webb

Harry Potter


Charlotte’s Web

Cover of "Charlotte's Web (paper-over-boa...

Cover of Charlotte's Web


And so begins the first meeting between two of the most famous characters in 20th century children’s literature, Wilbur and Charlotte.

I am a great admirer of E. B. White’s work, and Charlotte’s Web is one of my favorite children’s books. Today I caught part of a wonderful interview with Michael Sims’ about his new book, The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E. B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic. The interview is on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. The book was released June 7, 2011 and is already in its third printing. There are links to more interviews on the author’s website,, and I enjoyed reading the insightful article about the book at

I often use Charlotte’s Web in writing workshops with older students (2nd-5th grades) because the plot of the book is a perfect example of a “Hero’s Journey.” I use three questions to begin the discussion. The answers to these questions help define the beginning, middle, and end of the book.


Who is the hero? Wilbur

Many students will name Charlotte as the hero, but she is a supporting character I like to call, “the Teacher Character,” because she helps the hero the most on his journey. Wilbur is the hero because he wants something, but he won’t achieve his goal until the end.


What does the hero want? Wilbur wants to live.

This is the hero’s goal, and it determines the end of the book. In Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur wants to live, and several supporting characters help make his dream a reality as the story unfolds.


What is the problem, or why is Wilbur’s life in danger? Fern’s uncle, Mr. Zuckerman, wants to eat him!

Several supporting characters, including Charlotte and Templeton the rat, help Wilbur convince Mr. Zuckerman that he is “SOME PIG” and way too “TERRIFIC” to eat.

Below is an outline I created of the plot in Charlotte’s Web. Teachers, feel free to use this outline in the classroom. It’s a great tool for readers and writers. Seeing how the story unfolds, step-by-step, might help you outline the plot in your own story.

Charlottes Web Plot

Double-click to view and print the full page.

For more information about E. B. White and Charlotte’s Web, try these websites:

E. B. White Official Website

Charlotte’s Web Study Guide

Activities at

Charlotte’s Web at

More Links at eThemes (

Hans Christian Andersen

The most famous Danish writer for children, Hans Christian Andersen, died 136 years ago today. He is the father of the modern fairy tale, and I am one of his most dedicated students.

Statue of Hans Christian Andersen in New York City's Central Park. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Of the many authors I admire, Hans Christian Andersen has influenced my children’s writing the most. His timeless stories have a universal appeal, and when I create a picture book, I strive to emulate his style.

Polliwog Book Cover

Polliwog Book Cover

My third picture book, POLLIWOG, was heavily influenced by Andersen’s THE UGLY DUCKLING. “At last the large egg broke, and a young one crept forth crying, ‘Peep, peep.'” The large duckling does not know he will become a swan. Likewise, in my story, little Polliwog does not realize she will turn into a frog. In homage to Andersen, the species of my frog is a Spring Peeper. Polliwog does not sing in my story because female spring peepers do not sing. Only the male frogs sing, ‘Peep, peep, peep,’ but Polliwog will lay eggs and hatch more little polliwogs thus continuing the circle of life.

Vilhelm Pedersen illustration for "Ugly Duckling" from Wikimedia Commons.

POLLIWOG is a popular book with boys, but the boys often comment on the fact that Polliwog is female. Several boys asked me to put a male hero in my next book, so I chose to write about a sea horse. Although I was not consciously aware of it, I believe Andersen’s THE LITTLE MERMAID had some influence on my latest book, ‘SEA HORSE, RUN!’.

The opening lines of THE LITTLE MERMAID read: “Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep; so deep, indeed, that no cable could fathom it: many church steeples, piled one upon another, would not reach from the ground beneath to the surface of the water above.”

The first lines of ‘SEA HORSE, RUN!’ are: “Far across the ocean, a reef kissed the surface of the water. Coral covered the reef, and Coral was alive. Coral loved to sing, but the only animal that could hear her song was Sea Horse.”

Pages 4 to 5 of Sea Horse, run! by Tammy Carter Bronson

Hans Christian Andersen was born April 2, 1805 and died August 4, 1875.

136 years later, Hans Christian Andersen’s stories for children endure, and he continues to influence modern literature.

Painting of Andersen, 1836, by Christian Albrecht Jensen (From Wikimedia Commons)


Read an essay about The Father of the Modern Fairy Tale by Terri Windling.

Visit the Hans Christian Andersen Center.

The Ugly Duckling (1844; On-line version annotated by Heidi Anne Heiner).

The Little Mermaid (1837; On-line version annotated by Heidi Anne Heiner).

Find more annotated fairy tales at SurLaLune

Harry Potter Lives On

Coat of arms of Hogwarts, the fictional school...

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Today newscasters are lamenting the END of the Harry Potter franchise. While the movies may be ending, Harry Potter will live on! Here are three ways fans will continue to experience Harry:

1) While the movie franchise may be ending, the Harry Potter e-book revolution is just beginning. In October of this year J. K. Rowling will launch a new chapter in Potterdom with POTTERMORE. Profits from POTTERMORE and the e-books will carry Harry to new heights! Learn more at:

2) The theme park in Orlando, Florida will carry on.

3) The fans that run The Leaky Cauldron will continue with LeakyCon their annual charity conference. LeakyCon 2011 blasted off on July 13, 2011. Follow the convention at:

Rather than mourn today’s release of Part II of the final Harry Potter movie, The Deathly Hallows, I am celebrating by gathering a few of my favorite articles regarding the Harry Potter series. Each article builds upon the one before it. The links and information are divided into three sections:

  1. Reading With Harry!
  2. Ban Harry?
  3. The Novels: Further Discussions

Bear in mind that many of the articles contain SPOILERS, but even if you haven’t read the series, I would encourage parents and educators to explore the deeper meaning of the books through these articles.

This article, Harry Potter and the Ivory Tower, is written by my favorite writer for Potter analysis, John Granger. (Yes, that is his real last name! He is not related to Hermione.) Visit his blog at:

I agree with Mr. Granger that Harry Potter was inspired by great literature. I especially enjoyed his comparison of the Potter books to Jane Austen. For more information, read John Granger’s Book:

Harry Potter’s Bookshelf: The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures.

Before we continue into the next section (Ban Harry?), you need to understand the importance of symbolism. This article discusses the alchemical tradition in English literature.


Is Harry Potter evil? This is the fundamental question swirling around the controversial series. Here are two articles that address that question. The first explores a statement J.K. Rowling made with respect to witchcraft in the stories: “Witchcraft is just a metaphor for this other world of possibilities, beyond convention, that the mind can reach.” Read the full article at:

The next link ( will provide you with three short essays. The first, Is the Magic of Harry Potter Evil, emphasizes the importance of understanding the symbolism in the books. If you continue scrolling down, two more articles present themselves. Muggle Matters: Is Harry Potter a Doorway to the Occult explores five reasons why Harry is NOT evil. Continue scrolling down for the final article: Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows: A Christian novel?

I’ve visited more than 525 elementary schools across the United States in the past ten years, and reactions to Harry Potter are always mixed. Sadly, some schools have banned Harry Potter. The next article addresses and rebukes many of the specific arguments used to ban Harry.

Complete set of the seven books of the "H...

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3. THE NOVELS: Further Discussion…

Harry Potter and…

(1) The Philosopher’s Stone (aka The Sorcerer’s Stone)
This PDF is a brief study guide created by David Elfering of the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Omaha.

(2) The Chamber of Secrets
Another John Granger article entitled: Harry Potter and the Inklings: The Christian Meaning of the Chamber of Secrets. One of my favorite quotes is in this article:

A very famous writer once said, “A book is like a mirror. If a fool looks in, you can’t expect a genius to look out.” –J. K. Rowling on NBC’s Today Show, 10/20/2000

(3) The Prisoner of Azkaban

(4) The Goblet of Fire

(5) The Order of the Phoenix’s-blood/

(6) The Half-Blood Prince

(7) The Deathly Hallows

The Deathly Hallows Lectures online at:

Or Read John Granger’s Book- The Deathly Hallows Lectures: The Hogwart’s Professor Explains the Final Harry Potter Adventure