14 Love Lessons From Jane Austen (who kind of knew what she was talking about)

Jane Austen Article

Even now, centuries after her works were published, Jane Austen’s wisdom remains very much alive, gracing the pages of calendars, postcards, posters, canvas bags… oh, I don’t have to tell you, because you own it all. And some of the best advice Austen ever gave? In the department of love. It makes sense, though, right? Relationships are at the core of Jane Austen’s works, after all: relationships between siblings, fathers and daughters, and friendships. Perhaps the most interesting and memorable relationships in her novels, though, are the romances. There’s simply no author who writes about love quite like Austen does.

Austen’s own love life has always been a bit of an enigma – she never made it to the altar herself, which can often seem at odds with her books. In fact, the writer’s romantic life is a source of fascination, of boundless speculation: numerous works have tried to assign her a romantic history, including the charming movie 2007 Becoming Jane.

Regardless of Austen’s own backstory, we see ourselves in her pages – and her words tell us that she understood deeply the thrills and challenges of falling in love. What is so powerful about the romantic relationships in Austen’s novels is that love is a form of growth and self-knowledge – the experience of falling in love frames her characters’ coming-of-age stories, or prompts their later-in-life reinventions. That’s why the love stories of Darcy and Elizabeth, or Knightley and Emma, continue to feel both so powerful and so relevant. By now, most of Austen’s best romantic couples are household names, and her plot lines have inspired echo after echo of modernized retellings, from Bridget Jones’s Diary to Clueless to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries (PSA: those of you who haven’t yet watched the webseries and its cousin, Emma Approved, do it now. Everything else can wait.)

Even if your copy of Pride and Prejudice is, by now, frayed and over-underlined, it never hurts to revisit Austen’s works – and re-experience the humbling, empowering love stories that drive each of her books. Here are 14 Love Lessons From Jane Austen:

1. Try not to judge at first sight

I’m going to open with the obvious. As any self-respecting Austen fan would know, Pride and Prejudice was initially titled First Impressions, and this is a central theme in the book. We all know how it goes: when Darcy and Elizabeth first meet, they judge one another pretty harshly, but as the novel unfolds, they both come to realise that there’s a lot more to the other — and to themselves — than what first meets the eye. The plot of Pride and Prejudice is, by now, a romantic comedy trope: two people who hate each other realise that they have more in common than they thought and perhaps without really meaning to, fall in head-over-heels in love. Pride and Prejudice follows the internal growth of each of these iconic characters — for Darcy and Elizabeth, the experience of falling in love is humbling and requires a great deal of soul-searching.

2. The right kind of love is the love that makes you want to become a better person

True love does not come easily to Darcy and Elizabeth. Both of them must, in their own way, rise to the challenge. Yes, the book ends in their marriage, but their marriage is only possible because they’ve both grown enough to admire and respect one another, flaws and all.

3. Don’t let a third party meddle in your relationship

Jane and Bingley, I’m looking at you. Even accounting for 19th century social conventions, these two are incredibly gun-shy, and both of them let their flaws get the best of them. Jane allows her shyness and reserve to be interpreted as lack of interest, and Bingley yields to his own insecurities, letting himself be convinced that she doesn’t care for him. (Caroline Bingley: 1, Jane: 0.) Maybe if they had communicated better, this almost-catastrophic misunderstanding could have been avoided — but then again, that would totally ruin the plot of Pride and Prejudice.

4. Don’t marry for money (but having money doesn’t hurt!)

I’ve always loved the passage in Pride and Prejudice in which Elizabeth teases Jane about when she first realised she had feelings for Darcy. “It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began,” she says “But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.” (Sigh. I can almost see the twinkle in her eye.) While Elizabeth is clearly joking, there is some truth to her flippant response. Seeing the place where someone grew up and meeting people who knew them when they were children can speak volumes about their character — and there’s a special kind of affection that comes from learning about how someone’s past has made them who they are.

5. Love isn’t like it is in the movies

Or the novels of the 18th century. Back when Austen was writing Northanger Abbey, novels were seen much the same way we see bad TV (or actually, probably worse). Intellectuals (specifically male intellectuals), worried about what reading novels might do to women’s oh-so-fanciful minds. Austen both rejects and embraces this sentiment in Northanger Abbey, setting out to prove that just because gothic novels like Anne Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho are sensationalist and implausible (but still fun!), doesn’t mean that novels can’t represent and examine reality. In fact, as Austen sets out to prove, true emotion can be as painful and scary as getting kidnapped by a crazy, obsessed suitor. The same is true of love. While Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland’s story is hardly sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic (though it is pretty sweet), it’s based on mutual understanding and shared experiences.

6. Do not trust words over actions

This is a lesson for Catherine as much as it is for her brother James. Both of them are taken by the charming, airy Isabella Thorpe — and it takes them a little too long to realise that she’s only in it for the money. (Boy, does Isabella miss the mark.) Don’t make excuses for people’s actions — more often than not, people’s actions tell you a lot more about their true intentions than their eloquently expressed, oh-so-profound emotions. (And yes, that is Carey Mulligan and Felicity Jones.)

7. Be patient and steadfast

You’ve got to give Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price props for all her patience. She stood by Edmund Bertram through his awkward, misguided crush on Mary Crawford (a fascinating character in her own right.) Yes, some might argue that Fanny is a bit too passive, too willing to wait on the sidelines for her cousin (yes, I know) to notice her. Still, there’s something to be said for the way Fanny allows Edmund make his own mistakes and come to the conclusion that she’s the best person for him on his own. (Right?) To be honest, I’ve always admired Fanny. Like many of Austen’s other heroines, she is strong-minded and stands by her convictions — and these are traits any of us can raise a glass to.

8. It’s OK to be impulsive, but keep a good head on your shoulders

Emotions are as powerful as they are important. But as Marianne Dashwood learns in Sense and Sensibility, when people show us who they really are, we need to pay attention, and not allow ourselves to be completely taken over by emotion.

9. Don’t be so scared to say what you feel

It is a truth universally acknowledged that rejection stings. A lot. But Sense and Sensibility’s Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars would have gotten a lot further if they’d just admitted their feelings to each other — hell, even to themselves. I know, I know, it would have violated social conventions and all that (and Elinor is nothing if not a stickler for proper manners), but come on, they would have saved themselves so much unnecessary suffering.

10. Keep an open mind

Marianne is broken-hearted when Willoughby shows his true colors, but she eventually manages to open her heart to Colonel Brandon — who ends up being exactly the kind of husband that she needs. Still, it takes more than Elinor’s levelheaded prodding to get her to give Colonel Brandon a chance. Keep your eyes open — you never know who you might be overlooking.

11. It’s never too late for a second chance at love

Second chances are, in fact, at the core of Persuasion. When Captain Wentworth reappears in Anne Elliot’s life after eight years apart, she is floored. She and Wentworth have a history: a short-lived romance in their early twenties that came to an abrupt and painful ending. Despite being completely in love with him, 19-year-old Anne rejected his marriage proposal based on her trusted friend Lady Russell’s advice, because Wentworth could not provide her with the life that she was used to — and also, due to fear of holding him back in his career. Though it takes these two some time to make their way back to each other, Anne and Wentworth eventually discover that their feelings have not changed through the years — in fact, getting to know each other again as adults only deepens their love and understanding. Wentworth eventually swallows his pride to ask the woman he loves, once again, if she will spend the rest of her life with him — writing the famously impassioned line: “I am half agony, half hope.”

12. Don’t give up on the person you love

Yes, Anne had said no to marrying him, but even Wentworth admits that he was a fool not to try to find her after he’d established himself professionally in the navy and was able to marry. While he did eventually find his way back to her, he could have saved them both a lot of heartache if he’d held fast to his conviction that they belonged together. Life (or, OK, Austen’s pen) gave Anne and Wentworth a second chance at love, but they very well could have done this for themselves.

13. Sometimes the right person has been in front of you all along

Sometimes you fall in love with your best friend. Emma is a wonderful, powerfully-written character study, among other things. Despite thinking herself above love and marriage, Emma Woodhouse eventually comes to understand that there is and always has been only one man for her. As she tries her hand at matchmaking, convinced that she knows what’s best for everyone, Emma realises that she’s a little more vulnerable and a little more (dare I say it) flawed than she’s ever allowed herself to believe. Her good friend Mr. Knightley, however, has always seen her for who she is — and loves her all the more for it.

14. Often the best kind of love isn’t flashy but steady, loyal, and uncompromising

Mr. Knightley does not subscribe to Frank Churchill’s pomp and circumstance, but he is an intelligent, fair-minded man who is capable of loving passionately — even if his always-calm demeanor suggests otherwise. “If I loved you less, I could talk about it more,” is one of my absolute favourite Austen lines. Austen really gets at just how deeply Mr. Knightley feels for Emma — and how, though he may not be one for big romantic gestures, he truly understands and respects her (sounds boring, I know, but it’s rarer than you might think.) In fact, because of this, Mr. Knightley may just be the all-time best Austen hero.

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Via: https://www.bustle.com/articles/62958-14-love-lessons-from-jane-austen-who-kind-of-knew-what-she-was-talking-about-amirite

9 Things All Historical Fiction Fans Know To Be True

Historical Fiction

 

Historical fiction novels range from love stories to family sagas to coming of age novels. They include Sir Walter Scott’s Warerly, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and Hilary Mantel’s Wolf HallThey have drama, mystery, intrigue, love, horror, violence, romance — essentially, they have it all. A great historical fiction book will transport you back to another time and place where you are surrounded by the customs and traditions of a world long gone. And the best part about historical fiction novels is the mix of the true and authentic with the fabricated and the fictional.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I don’t need to be telling you any of this. You’ve shared your morning coffee alongside the Boleyn sisters, and your evenings on the battlefields of Normandy. You know how the class system worked in 17th century Britain, and you have lost so many of your favourite characters to war, you’re in a constant state of mourning. But if you’re a historical fiction fan, you must also know:

1. It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination

The beautiful thing about a lot of historical fiction is that you go into it already knowing something about the ending, whether it’s the outcome of the onset war, or the fate of a particular historical figure. Although it might seem like a reason not to like this particular genre, historical fiction readers know this is actually one of the greatest things about it. Because you know the ending, you can focus on the story itself, its characters, the relationships in the book, the dialogue, and the beauty of the writing without being preoccupied with the outcome. That makes the ride so good. And, despite what you may think….

2. Suspense and Mystery Still Exist, Even If You Know How the Story Ends

Historical fiction-haters will try and tell you it’s boring to know how a story ends, but we fanatics know that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just because a novel is about a period you think you know, or people you have studied in the past, doesn’t mean there is no room for mystery and intrigue in its telling. Everyone knows about the death and destruction that came as a result of Sherman’s March to the Sea, but E. L. Doctorow’s The March leads readers down a mysterious path of “who lives and who dies?” scenarios by giving us fictional characters in a historical setting. There is plenty of mystery, even in what is already known.

3. Love Is Timeless

Some people are turned off from historical fiction because the setting is something very unlike the setting in which we currently live, but the truth is there are some basic human conflicts that ring true no matter what time or place they are set in. Searching for true love, fighting an oppressor, exacting revenge, protecting your family — no matter who you are or what time period you’re from, these are all conflicts you can empathise with. Historical fiction-lovers understand that things like love transcend time and place.

4. Life Was So Much More Dramatic Before Mobile Phones

Celebrity Twitter feuds aside, life was a lot more dramatic before a simple phone call could resolve an issue. When you can’t text your fiancé to find out if it was indeed him kissing the handmaid in the stable, but instead you have to wait until the next grand ball to confront him over a formal dance, drama is sure to ensue. Besides, confrontation is so much juicier when it’s done in person.

5. Women Have Always, and Will Always, Kick Ass (No Matter What History Books Leave Out)

The problem with so many of the history books that you grew up learning from is that they are filled with all of the same characters: white, privileged men fighting for their own best interests. Yes, you learned about women’s suffrage and the Daughters of the Revolution, but why is it that women have been written out of many history books? Historical fiction gives a voice to the women of the past, and provides a space to tell the stories that the history books have been missing. Any historical fiction-reader will tell you that girls have always run the world. Boom.

6. There’s Nothing Like a Lengthy Letter and a Long Walk to Clear Your Head

Forget going to piloxing to relieve your stress — the characters in historical fiction have it right. Whether you are about to be sent off to war or your one true love has been promised to another, a long stroll through the countryside or a handwritten letter to your childhood friend is enough to find peace in clarity — at least it would be if you were in a historical fiction novel. Chances are, if you’re a fan of historical fiction, you’d choose to stretch your legs in the park over pounding the punching bag at the gym any day.

7. The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

Sure, the idea of aliens taking over the planet is pretty strange, but so is beheading two of your wives so you can marry someone else… and that actually happened. Although historical fiction does contain elements of fiction, often the kernels of truth are what’s most bizarre, and those kinds of strange but true facts stick with you. Avid readers of the genre know this better than anyone else. That’s why we’re so good at Jeopardy.

8. It’s Fun to Time Travel

Halloween only comes once a year, and unless you are in college, your costume party days are limited… and so are your days of pretending to be someone and somewhere else. But historical fiction fans know that if you want to put on a mask and go to a ball, you can always pick up a book. They know if you want to fight alongside the allies in WWII, you can pick up a book. They know if you want to sling guns with the cowboys in the wild west… well, you get the picture.

9. Everyone Has a Secret

It doesn’t matter if you are one of the founding fathers or a farm hand, a French monarch or a lady of the court — chances are, you have a secret. From the Dark Ages to the Civil War, people have been lying about who they are, hiding their pasts, and keeping the truth from one another forever. Though honesty is supposed to be the best policy, it doesn’t make for the best story, so note to authors: keep the secrets coming.

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Via: https://www.bustle.com/articles/79523-9-things-all-historical-fiction-fans-know-to-be-true

World Record For Fan With Biggest Harry Potter Collection

Harry Potter Fan

If you thought you were the world’s biggest Harry Potter fan, prepare to be disappointed. A lawyer in Mexico City has apparently shattered the Guinness World Record for largest collection of Harry Potter memorabilia. So far, he has 3,092 items in his collection, which far surpasses the previous record of only 807. Now that is one dedicated fan!

Menahem Asher Silva Vargas first started collecting Harry Potter products in 2001. In a video interview with The Telegraph, he explained that he didn’t originally think of himself as a collector; he’d just see a Harry Potter item that he liked and buy it. But as the Potter fan base in Mexico expanded (and as Potter-mania took over the world) there were more and more Potter-themed products available, and his collection just kept growing. Once it started taking up more than one room, he says, he decided to get organised and start keeping an inventory.

Now, on the one hand I know that buying things is not really a good way to measure how much of a fan someone is — after all, if Bill Gates really wanted this particular world record I’m sure he could buy up 4,000 pieces of Harry Potter memorabilia without batting an eyelash or ever reading the books — but it’s also clear that Silva Vargas really genuinely loves Harry Potter. And as a bit of a Harry Potter nerd myself, I raise a butter beer toast in salute.

In total, Silva Vargas’s collection takes up two rooms and includes everything from board games to Harry Potter attire to replica wands. But his favourite item in the huge collection is a circular wall ornament with a photo of Harry in the Chamber of Secrets that was a gift from his mother. Aww.

He says that he hopes to create some sort of interactive site to allow Potter fans from all over the world to virtually explore his massive treasure trove of Harry Potter merchandise some day.

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Via: https://www.bustle.com/articles/42990-world-record-for-largest-harry-potter-collection-broken-by-lawyer-in-mexico-city

What Your Favourite Book Genre Says About Your Personality

genre favourite

Take a look at your bookshelf, and you’ll probably have no problem determining your favourite genre. The rows of multiple Harry Potter books (all different editions, of course) and the collection of A Song Of Ice and Fire probably means you’re a big fan of fantasy. Or, when you visit your local bookstore, do you find yourself roaming toward the sci-fi section? Perhaps you drift toward the middle where the literary classics are. Wherever you find yourself, take pride: Your favourite genre is awesome, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The book genre you love most definitely says a lot about who you are as a person. Books can shape you, so it’s only natural that you learned from the characters within, whether they were fairies, aliens, or your average human. So, grab your most treasured books, figure out your favourite genre of novels, and get ready to find out what it means for you. Better than your zodiac sign, your most loved book genre will reveal your truest self:

Classics

You have and will reread just about every classic there is. Jane Austen and Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck — this is the crew that will always be your favourite writers. You were the kid in high school who actually read all of the mandatory books and enjoyed them. You prefer getting to know one person deeply, rather than knowing a couple people on the surface. You tend to cherish the simplicities in everyday life more than anything else.

Fantasy

You prefer to read about huge and complex worlds where your imagination can roam as it pleases. Ever since you were a child, you’ve been more interested in mythology than anything else. You’re a daydreamer, and often zone out while at school or work thinking of the next great adventure you’ll go on. When it comes to your friends, you’ve got some of the best, and you’ll never treat them wrong because you know how valuable true friendship is after reading The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

Historical Fiction

You love fiction — but you also love facts. You like knowing what’s going to happen, and aren’t a big fan of surprises. You have a very detailed planner on you at all times, but every so often aren’t afraid to indulge in a few spontaneous activities, as long as they are on the pre-approved list. You have a sharp eye for detail and are sometimes (more like always) called a perfectionist in your work. You’re a people-watcher, and enjoy listening to your friends and family tell you stories of their past.

Horror

Like Stephen King, you believe everyone should read more horror books. You aren’t scared easily, and the feeling of adrenaline rising in you is almost addicting. You’re the risk-taker in your friend group, and when you go to an amusement park, you’re the first one in line for the wildest rides. You’re one heck of a storyteller, and your friends know that when you pull out the flashlight at a bonfire, they’re in for a story that’ll haunt them for the rest of the week.

Literary Fiction

You prefer reading about common life problems and troubles that are relatable to just about everyone. You love to learn about people, and the ones you don’t know you make up life stories for as you pass by them on the streets or on your morning commute. You’re a deep thinker, and when it comes to problem solving, you’re probably a pro. You like to look at your life as if it were a movie and are always wondering when the next complicated situation will unfold.

Mystery/Thrillers

After reading Gone Girl, you couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks. You’re exceptionally talented at picking up on foreshadowing and clues, so your friends tend to stay away from you when Game of Thrones is on to avoid spoilers. You look at life as a mystery itself, and are always searching for the bigger meaning in things. You’re a little quieter than the rest, but that’s only because you genuinely enjoy being a mystery yourself.

Nonfiction

You always have the newest memoir or autobiography in-hand before anyone else does. You’re a great listener and enjoy getting to know someone by their odd quirks and anecdotes. You are often looking for new ways to improve yourself and the lives around you. You love making big gestures because you desire to live a great life worth telling to lots of people someday.

Romance

For you, no book is a great book without a powerful love story included. Your tastes range from Gone with the Wind to Fifty Shades of Gray, and everything in between. You’re a passionate person at heart, and always go the extra mile to satisfy someone you love. You always manage to keep a positive outlook on life, even if you’ve hit rock bottom. You have high expectations when you go on dates, but you’re also pretty talented at wooing just about anyone that glances in your direction, because you never know who might turn out to be the one that sweeps you off your feet.

Science Fiction

You love reading about intergalactic adventures and futuristic events that could one day happen. When you were a kid, you didn’t always fit in because you were thinking about new worlds and characters bigger than the boring middle school you were stuck in. You often have really great ideas but are sometimes afraid to speak up. With your smart wits, you and everyone around you knows you’d be the one to live through any apocalyptic event. You’re a little bit geeky and you don’t care who knows it.

Young Adult

You’re often found in the YA section of Barnes & Noble, scanning for new releases and recommendations. You’re young at heart, and that only makes you more curious and willing to learn new things in life. You’re in tune with your emotions, and are almost always the one your friends go to when they need solid advice. More than anything, you’re independent and take pride in both your successes and failures. You know it’s all part of the process.

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Via: https://www.bustle.com/articles/109117-what-your-favourite-book-genre-says-about-your-personality

How I Got Published | Louise Beech

Louise-Beech

Today, an article all about “How I Got Published” by Louise Beech, which I hope you will agree is a very interesting read. Enjoy!

How did I get a book deal? It’s one of the things I’m frequently asked about at book events and festivals. How did I get published?

Unless the person asking – usually a hopeful writer, like I’ve been most of my life – has five hours, the determination to still keep writing despite my reply, and a pretty thick skin, I can’t respond fully. Time and a desire not to dishearten them prevents me answering in detail. Because my journey was long. Ten years long. People serve less time for serious crimes. It was littered with rejection upon rejection upon rejection. There was no satnav to tell me which way to go so that I arrived more easily at my destination.

There’s no magical right answer to the question of how to get published. Every single author will likely have a different tale to share. Some might have enjoyed a quick trip from writing a first novel to book deal, some may have got lucky with their tenth book, but most are probably still driving down the motorway, looking for the right exit.

All I can share is my story. And here it is. Are you ready?

I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen. I filled notepads and exercise books with entire novels (chapters and contents page included) from the age of nine. Writing was then – and still is – pure joy to me. The place I escape to, the place I feel safest, the only place in the world where I really feel I know what I’m doing, and that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be. As a teenager, I started my own magazine to rival the school one, and told anyone who would listen that I’d one day be a world-famous novelist. (That I’m still hoping for.) Then life took over a bit when I got pregnant at nineteen…

In my early thirties, I sent some pieces I’d written to our local newspaper and was offered my own column, Mum’s the Word, in which I wrote for ten years about being a parent. I also began to write short stories. Lots of them. I sent some out to magazines, entered some in competitions. Rejections came thick and fast. I cried the first time. But only once. I got up, wiped the tears away, and decided I had to improve. I wrote more. Slowly, they began being accepted. First by small ezines, and eventually by national magazines. I shortlisted twice for the Bridport Prize.

That was what gave me the confidence to write a novel. Every bit of advice I’d read suggested a writer hone their craft via the precise art of producing short stories, and by joining forums to gain harsh critiques in order to improve. I’d done both. So, after we flooded in 2007 and I had more time due to giving up work to care for my ill daughter, I started Maria in the Moon. It took me six months. It was a labour of not only love, but of tears. When I write, I give everything, and that can be draining afterwards. I let it ‘settle’ and then edited it some more. Then I sent it out to every agent and publisher. Over a period of a year, every single one of them rejected it.

I took time to recover – it’s hard, there’s no denying it, when your lovingly created work is rejected by everyone – and in 2009 I started a second novel, The Lion Tamer Who Lost. I tried to use all the advice I’d been given on forums, and all the tips I’d read by successful authors, but most of all I went back to the place where I knew I was supposed to be. Writing. Six months later I sent it out to every agent and publisher. They all rejected it.

In 2011, I went back to Maria in the Moon and tried to improve her. I tried a couple of new agents. Success! (Or so I thought.) A lady from United Agents invited me to visit her. Carol really liked it and took me on. She did everything, but – again – all the publishers she sent it to said no. One of them liked the style and asked if I had any more ideas for a novel. I told her about The Lion Tamer Who Lost but she didn’t like it. I mentioned one I had in my head, and she liked the sound of it. So, in 2012, I wrote The Mountain in my Shoe.

She said no. Carol sent it to other publishers. They all said no. Some had positive comments, but the general problem seemed to be what I was. Where I fit. I was that difficult creature – I didn’t fit into a genre. But I refused to conform. When I write I can only write what must be written. I can’t fit into some narrow niche. It isn’t me. But this was only going to make things harder.

Ironically, after being told that not fitting into a genre would hinder me, in 2013 I started the novel that was my most unusual and hardest to define – How to be Brave. This was one book that refused to kowtow to any market. I knew this would be my hardest sell, and yet I had to write it. Just as I finished, Carol told me she was retiring. She did everything to try and secure me another agent, but no one was interested. I was on my own again. I had written four books now.

I sent How to be Brave to every agent and publisher. They all said no. At the end of 2014 it shortlisted for a big competition. This is it, I thought. The prize was a book deal. And I was going to win. I wore my lucky red dress, told husband Joe that I knew someone in a red dress was going to win. We arrived at the prize-giving and another writer had on a red dress. She won. I was genuinely happy for her, because I knew how happy she must be. But I cried all the way back to the hotel. I was inconsolable.

I’ll admit, that was the hardest time. Friends asked how I could go on writing in the face of constant rejection. I said I did because I knew one day it would happen. I really did. But I began to lose my faith a little. I began to wonder if I could write a fifth book and go through it all again.

Then on Twitter I saw that a vivacious woman called Karen Sullivan was starting up Orenda Books. She wanted to publish beautiful books. Books she loved. I cheekily (this goes against all professional advice, folks!) tweeted her and asked if she would read How to be Brave. She said yes. She and slush reader Liz liked it. I had a tense wait for a definite answer, between Christmas 2014 and February 2015.

Louise Beech screen-shot-2017-07-03-at-11-11-45

Then on 9th February 2015 Karen emailed to say she loved the book, and of course it was a yes. I think, having read my journey, you can imagine how I felt. It makes me teary now to revisit. I know now that I only got rejected because I was supposed to be with Karen. She’s the only one who ‘got’ me. Got my books. Two years on, she has published the other novels no one wanted. Next year she will publish The Lion Tamer Who Lost too.

And I’m back to do doing what I love, but without all the tears. Writing. I’ve started book five, loosely titled Star Girl. And it’s exactly like when I was nine and filled notepads with words. It’s where I’m supposed to be. What I’m supposed to be doing. And I’m glad I never gave up.

Via: https://louisebeech.co.uk/2017/07/03/how-i-got-published/

Are things getting worse for women in publishing? | The Guardian

women in publishing

Today on Writer’s Blog, a very interesting article from The Guardian about Women in Publishing:

When Edie and Eddie started work as junior editors in the same corporate book publisher, they had much in common: firsts from Oxbridge and career ambition. And a passion for books and ideas. When Edie saw her role model moved out of the chief executive’s office to be replaced by a man, the two joked about what it took to get to the top.

But as both observed the same thing happen at one publishing house after another, the joke wore thin. And Eddie, frustrated at the lack of promotion, changed. “He donned a suit and began to walk and talk like the men he saw getting on in the business and suddenly things changed for him,” Edie recalls. “It was as simple as that.”

To her, it seems that “all you need to get on now is to be a suited and booted man, who looks like he has an MBA. They remind me of David Cameron and George Osborne. All of them are white, middle class and presentable.” She pauses. “And male of course, which is definitely something I cannot aspire to be.” (Edie and Eddie are not real names, but like many of the people interviewed for this piece, Edie did not wish to be identified.)

This is a harsh assessment of UK publishing; an industry that had comforted itself that the one area of diversity it need not address was gender. A 2016 survey of the gender divide in US publishing found 78% of the industry is female (no UK-wide survey has yet been done). But the same survey found that, at executive or board level, 40% of respondents were men. And Edie is not alone in the frustration she feels over the split at board level: there is growing disquiet among the rank and file.

This is not to say that women have left the boardroom completely. But, as one senior female editor notes, women such as Random House’s Gail Rebuck, Penguin’s Helen Fraser, Macmillan’s Annette Thomas and Little, Brown’s Ursula Mackenzie, who had all embodied the ideal that women publishers faced no glass ceiling, have in the last five years all been replaced by men. “There is a problem, because you get the sense with the remaining women in senior management that they have gone as far as they are going to go, and in every case they are answerable to clean-cut, fortysomething men,” the editor adds.

The disquiet felt within publishing is not just about the higher echelons becoming as white, male and middle class as other industries, but that the sector looks less welcoming to outsiders, be they female, Bame (black, Asian and minority ethnic) or disabled. And, as a creative field, publishing has grown on the back of entrepreneurs and visionaries. “Publishing should be about new ideas, about difference and innovation, but these men are all about the optics,” says another female publisher, who works in the middle ranks of one of the big three houses. “They seem to be chosen because they look good on a corporate prospectus rather more than anything else. Even the great men of publishing – the Victor Gollanczes, Allen Lanes and Andre Deutsches – would not have fitted in to this world.”

Though half the boards of the big houses are comprised of women, in almost every case, they are in charge of more traditional roles: publishing, communications, human resources or educational divisions. Look at the magical “c-circle” of group chief executive, group chief operating officer and group chief finance officer – where the real power lies – and women are notably absent.

Publishers say this is simply down to a generation of women retiring and the amalgamation of publishing houses, which has left fewer c-circle jobs to compete for. It certainly does not mean women are losing ground. “In the bigger corporate publishing houses, the divisional managing directors, who are the people making the publishing decisions, many are women,” says Lis Tribe, group managing director for Hodder Education, part of the Hachette UK group. “There are five [female] divisional managing directors or chief executives at Hachette and six [divisions] are run by women at Penguin Random House (PRH).”

Tribe, who has recently taken the president’s role at the Publishers Association, is adamant there is no problem with women getting to the top. Others disagree. “Yeah, right!” laughs one woman who asked to be unnamed, having left corporate publishing to set up her own business. “There is also a tendency that we tend to recruit in our own image,” she says. “You have a lot of white, middle- and upper-class, privately educated men selecting other white, middle-class, privately educated men now. It has a chilling effect.”

There is a persistent gender pay gap in publishing, which in the last survey by Bookcareers.com was revealed to be 16% in the UK. This is regarded as evidence that men take a disproportionate number of higher paying executive roles to women. “I find it really depressing that after all these years we are still having the same conversations about pay and diversity. Nothing has changed,” says Bookcareers.com’s Suzanne Collier.

Simple sexism is not the sole cause of the problem: mergers have left most of British publishing in the hands of three large, global media companies – Hachette, Bertelsmann-owned PRH, and HarperCollins, which is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp empire. This has not just left fewer influential jobs for women, but has led to a change in the kind of beast who does rises to the top. Kate Wilson, who set up independent children’s publisher Nosy Crow after leaving Hachette-owned Hodder seven years ago, sums it up: “In my 30 years in publishing I have seen the corporatisation of publishing and it is not helpful to women.”

But sexism is there. “There is a point in women’s careers where, if they have kids, they are sidelined,” Wilson says. Because publishers are now making it into management at a younger age, at the critical point when the top tier opens up, many women are taken out of the career loop by children, leaving men to leapfrog them. On their return, they are usually juggling childcare and work in a way that many of their male contemporaries are not. “What is a farce is that at the same point, in your 30s and early 40s, men still seem to be untrammelled by family life and that helps in their careers,” adds Wilson, who made it a central aim of Nosy Crow to encourage flexible working – and the majority of her staff are now female.

But corporate publishing’s loss has been independent publishing’s gain. Wilson is among a band of women who have started independent businesses that not only allow them to better juggle professional and home commitments, but also to exercise their creativity in a way the tiers of management in global businesses do not allow. It is one of the reasons that the most interesting and innovative books coming out are from independents – whether Juliet Mabey at Oneworld with her Booker winners Marlon James and Paul Beatty, the translated fiction choices of Meike Ziervogel’s Peirene Press or Miranda West’s Do Books Company’s publishing list, based on the Do Lectures “encouragement network”.

“It is an interesting opportunity for independents like us because we are able to take account of some of the other things that women want to do, such as working part-time or more flexibly,” Wilson says. “The number of talented women who have been wasted because they can’t find a role in corporate publishing is astonishing.”

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The Original Article can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/are-things-getting-worse-for-women-in-publishing