Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Civil War meets Jane Austen (yes, and it is delightful!) enter for a chance to win Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits

(Guest post by Mary Jane Hathaway)
Hello! I’m so excited to be talking about my new book, “Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits”!
Wait, did the blogger reader count just slip? I think I heard the sound of hundreds of people quietly clicking past this post. But why, dear ones?? It’s historical and it’s about the Civil War and it’s funny. What can go wrong?
I hear a brave soul in the back yelling out something about that title… I can’t quite catch it…
Blasphemy? How can cheese grits, that so lowly of the Southern dishes, possibly occur in the same title with Austen’s wit and genius?
 Oh. I see. Well, let me explain.
Like some girls who love romance and historical writing, I am beyond obsessed with Jane Austen. Obsession is for amateurs.  Napoleon was obsessed with Josephine.  Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear for that girl whose name nobody can recall.
None of those ended well because they were merely obsessed. (Okay, also a bit nutso, to be honest.) Austen fans sprint past obsession and head for the kind of clarity that comes from dedicating one’s entire life to the cause of all things Jane.
  So, once we’ve established that point of reference, you can start to see how everything relates back to Jane. What Jane Austen thought of eating less than two courses at meal times. What Jane Austen thought of when to wear white. What Jane thought about refusing offers of marriage in a dignified way. (Maybe that last one doesn’t come into play much for a lot of us. *sob*) But still, Jane becomes a guiding force in our lives.
 We whisper her best lines when we’re too mad to make up our own vicious come-backs. We put down that handful of frosted flakes and pick up a blushing red apple. We take time out from the endless e-mail and Twitter and facebook to arrange some flowers because that’s what Jane would do.
 As I started writing this book, I had a firm idea of my heroine and my hero and my cast of characters and my plot. It was mine, mine, mine! I giddily wrote scene after scene that made me laugh or cry or glare. (I’m one of those writers that makes HERSELF laugh or cry, even re-reading it. I’m pretty easy that way.)
So, it was a little annoying to have Jane’s best lines running on a loop in the background of my mind. I fought it mightily, drowned it with noise, and doused it with scads of NYT bestselling historical thrillers that made no sense and were completely inaccurate.
My brilliant heroine, a Civil War historian from a town named Flea Bite Creek, was good enough, right? Who needed Austen to muddy it up?
She was still there. Sometimes arching a brow, sometimes hiding behind a book, but mostly laughing at me.
So, I started to write each chapter by getting my Jane quote out of my head and onto the page. I wanted hero and heroine to have a great big nasty fight? I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.” Natch!
  I needed the villain to be fooling the entire world with his smarminess? “Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends- whether he may be equally capable of retaining them is less certain.”
How about our heroine seeing the injustice in the world and not letting it pass without a comment? “My dear Lizzy, do not give way to such feelings as these. They will ruin your happiness.”
And on it went until we’d finally reached the end of our tale of the heart, set in Southern academia, with our hero realizing that his hopes were not dashed, after all. “It taught me to hope,” said he, “as I had scarcely ever allowed myself to hope before.”
  Wonderful! The book was finished!! I promptly removed all the Austen quotes and set about editing it. Polishing and cutting and slicing and dicing.  Ow. Owie. YOW. But it had to be done. Now it was a nicely sized novel, 300 pages, fun to read and ready to be submitted.
  But it was missing something. I fiddled and rearranged and sulked and grumped.
  The book was no good. Not without Jane. Not without her subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) wit and sense of irony. Certainly not without her as a compass for my story, when I use her as a compass for my living.
  So back in she went. And from there I heard from dozens of agents, scores of editors and a handful of publishers that this book would never sell.
Too weird. (Cheese grits? What is that exactly? Nobody loves Southern culture, they said.)
Too complicated. (Nobody can follow Civil War history, a fight for antebellum mansions, a family drama, a mystery, a crime, and a romance all at once, they said.)
Too boring. (Nobody reads about academics, they said. Academics are boring. They live in their own little world, surrounded by imaginary and real-but-dead people.)
 Too quiet. (Nobody wants to read about people who love Austen when they can read about a hot female bail bondsman in love with two even hotter men. Unless I could put some of that in the book? they asked. I actually laughed at that because some day, somewhere, maybe there will be a Jane Austen/ Stephanie Plum mash-up which will sell like hotcakes. But I think that’s a bit more than I can pull off.)
And that’s when I stopped listening. I love Southern culture! I love mysteries and crimes and romances and family drama and Civil War history!  I love academia and professors and universities and memories of those all-night pizza parties when you’re a freshman and gain forty pounds because your mother isn’t there to tell you to eat something green and Twinkies aren’t breakfast food.. (Oh, maybe that was just me? *cough, cough*)
 And mostly, I love Austen. I love Pride and Prejudice. I’m beyond ‘love it’ all the way into the ‘I think I would have to marry this book if it wasn’t illegal’.
 So, that’s the story of how ‘Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits’ came to be written, and rejected, and resurrected by the good folks at Amazon. Bless their little hearts, letting us digitize any random thing! Yee-haw, my friends, that means more books about subjects we love without all the naught bits!
 I hope you enjoy my little slice of Austen mania. The next book in the series, ‘Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs’ will be coming out in May 2013.
  Until then, my sweets, stand tall in whatever particular form of genius (not craziness, NOT!) your historical literature obsession brings you!

  BIO: Mary Jane Hathaway is the pen name of an award-nominated writer who spends the majority of her literary energy on subjects un-related to Jane Austen. A homeschooling mother of six young children who rarely wear shoes, she’s madly in love with a man who has never read Pride and Prejudice. She holds degrees in Religious Studies and Theoretical Linguistics, and has a Jane Austen quote on the back of her van. She can be reached on facebook at her regular author page of Virginia Carmichael (which is another pen name, because she’s just that cool).
Book blurb: Shelby Roswell is a history professor on the fast track to tenure until her new book is crushed in a review by the famous historian, Ransom Fielding. She struggles to regain her momentum only to discover that Fielding has taken a visiting professorship at her college. The place that was once a refuge from the poverty of her past is now a battlefield of Civil War proportions.
Ransom is still struggling with his role in his wife’s accidental death six years ago and was hoping a year at Shelby’s small college would be a respite from the reminders back home. He never bargained for falling in love with the one woman who would give anything to make him leave. Together Shelby and Ransom learn that home is never very far away, and when you least expect it, love arrives.
With a cast of Civil War re-enactors, an evil wedding planner, antebellum mansions, and several mysterious diaries, 'Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits' will take you on a touching and hilarious ride through a modern South you haven't seen before.

Mary Jane Hathaway, aka Virginia Carmichael, is generously giving away a copy of her ebook to one lucky commenter. You can increase your odds of winning if you like her book on its Amazon page or if you subscribe to this blog, or share this post on twitter or facebook. Winner will be announced Monday Jan 21 at noon EST
Good luck!


  1. Thanks for having me, Kathleen! Can't wait to mee your Civil War/ Jane Austen fans!

  2. Thank you for being here, Virginia. We are many, and we have waited for this day! :D

  3. This book looks amazing! I would love to get my hands on a copy. Virginia, or whichever name you prefer me to use, loved your post. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Lol! If I'd only known that in 2009 I wouldn't have taken out Miss Jane at all.

  5. Thanks, Jocelyn! And I go by Virginia. :) But I would really love to be called Jane... Really. Maybe I should legally change it. And wear Empire gowns. And a bonnet. :)

  6. I love the movie versions of Jane's books, but must confess to never having read the actual books. Guess I should read them one of these days!
    I bought myself a Kindle last year. This sounds like a fun book to add to my ever growing list of books on there!

    I liked the book on Amazon, I also am a blog subscriber.

  7. Thanks, Patty! The books are hard to get through, unless you know the plot. I think I first tried to read them in middle school and was completely lost.
    After I'd seen the movies, I could follow the plot better and laugh at the funny bits!
    I have Kindle on my pc but don't have a hand-held yet. Maybe soon!

  8. I would love to win this book--sounds so very good and I do love cheese grits and southern culture! I am subscribed and I will "like" this on Amazon. Blessings! Darlene

  9. Thanks, Darlene! I'm not a real fan of grits, but that's part of the book. Strange food, fun folks, each person has a story! I DO love blackened catfish, though. MMM.

  10. Hey Virginia and Kathy. What a fun post. I have to say when I read cheese grits I was yelling, pick me! pick me! Love that yummy dish. But when I make my confession I'm afraid you may delete my post...I am not a Jane A fan. As much as two of my dear friends love Jane and have tried to brow beat me into likeing her(waving at you Linore and Melanie) I am afraid even after reading 2 of her books, alas, I still am not a fan. I sure did enjoy your post, civil war era, and Kathy Maher. Does that count for anything. ;o)

  11. shunnn! Shun the nonbeliever! just kidding. Debbie Lynne, you should win this just so we can complete your indoctrination classes. ;)
    Now I will make a confession. I have not read any of Jane Austen's books. Only watched Keira Knightly and Kate Winslett on the big screen. *dodging popcorn*

  12. I have to say, I almost clicked right on by this post, but...I do love cheese grits! What a fun post! I'm glad I didn't miss it. I am very curious about this southern novel. Thank you for offering a chance to win it. I am a follower of this blog.

  13. Sounds interesting! Thank you for hosting this giveawy.


  14. DebbieLynne, I don't think I can even type, i am SO OUTRAGED!
    Seriously, my husband barely knows who Austen is and thinks every book before 1900 must be Jane Austen.

    I feel your pain/ dilemma/ confusion/ reluctance.

    And you and my heroine would get along just fine! Her roommate is the Austen fan and constantly gives asides on how Austen would react. And the heroine just rolls her eyes and tries to get on with her crazy life!

  15. Kathleen????????????

    And if you're going to watch P&P, don't want Keira, that skinny little chicken-necked girl! She looks so sickly!

    But I did love the ending of that one, in the misty field. *SWOON*

    1. That made me giggle. chicken neck. heehee! Yes, but that Darcy was smoldering. mmm mmmm!

  16. Hi KayM! Well, I'm glad to have piqued your curiosity! Here's hoping you win. :)

  17. Hi Wendy! And I send my thanks to Kathleen for being so generous as to let us crazy types hang at her blog for a bit!

  18. This is fantastic! I love this book already! Thanks for such a wonderful blog post! I thoroughly enjoyed it! Thanks for offering your book in a giveaway. I'd LOVE to win a copy!

  19. Hi, Nancee! I'm so glad to hear people might enjoy this wackadoodle book. :) I had tremendous fun writing it and am laughing my way through the second. Whee!

  20. This looks like a fun book. I have shared on Facebook, Twitter and liked the book on Amazon as well as I am a follower of this blog. Thank you for the chance to win.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com!/angela.holland.359/posts/468725306498315

    name on Amazon - griperang/Angela Holland

  21. Thanks, Angela! I had a lot of fun writing this book and it's very close to my heart!

  22. Ok, this idea is AMAZING! I can't wait to get a hold of your book and see how you've woven our beloved friend Jane into it all. =-) Thanks for sharing about your journey to publishing it.

  23. I love all of Jane Austen's books (even her letters and short stories),am from the south and think the best Austen books to film are P&P 1995 (Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle)and Mansfield Park 1983. My top three favorite novels of hers are P&P, Persuasion and Emma.

    I am a follower of this blog and have liked this book on Amazon!

  24. Hi, Teddy! I think Jane Austen would love the South. So many beautiful dresses, so many lovely manners, such intrigue! :D

  25. Sylvia, I haven't read any of her short stories. (Why? WHY? I ask myself)

    But I agree the 1995 P&P is the best (COLINNNNNNNNNN!) and the new Persuasion had me dreamy-eyed. (Well, I didn't enjoy that run through the streets of Bath, gulping air. how odd. Jane would disapprove.) That Capt. Wenteorth was gorgeous!

  26. thanks for the chance to read this novel

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  27. I am in! I absolutely love Jane Austin and Civil War era. I have read Jane since high school. I believe I own all of her novels in real book form. Someone mentioned getting them on their Kindle. You can find free versions for Kindle on Amazon. Most of the old classics have free Kindle versions. I have these versions as well. If anyone needs a book reviewer or proof reader, let me know. I am available.


    I am a follower.

  28. Ooooh, Deanna! Isn't it amazing what you can get for free on Kindle?? I just love that we can get the classics at no charge... and JANE! Dear Jane for everyone!

    I would love another beta read. I'll let you know when 'Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili Slaw Dogs' is ready to be read for the first time. :)

  29. I have never had grits, but would love to win this book. :)

    sonflower277 at gmail dot com

  30. And the winner is. . .. Nancee! Thank you all for coming by and showing support for this talented author and her awesome new book! I do hope you'll purchase a copy for yourselves and sit back, sip a sweet tea and enjoy.
    Thank you, Virginia for being my guest this weekend. Lord bless you and this project!

  31. Thank you, Kathy!! It was so much fun to meet your blog followers!

    Pm me Nancee's address so I can send her a copy and thanks again everyone!

  32. wanted to let you all know that the ebook is only 99 cents right now on Amazon! This week only