4 Things I Learned from Jane Seymour or My Night of Glamour
at the Morgan Library and Museum
On February 8, I had the chance to experience every author’s dream. My publisher, Guideposts Books, hosted a fabulous launch party in New York City for my newest book, Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart. The evening event – a cocktail reception and reading – surpassed all my wildest expectations. (Watch a video montage of the event here: http://bit.ly/cqO8s0.)
When Carl Raymond, the marketing director, told me the guest of honor for the night would be Jane Seymour, I did my best not to faint. I do confess that I cried a little. Can you think of a more iconic figure when it comes to romance than Ms. Seymour?
Now, I live in Nashville, and I routinely see famous people at Starbucks, the grocery store, soccer games, etc. But this was my first up-close-and-personal moment with a genuine star. I decided before the evening even started that I was going to watch and learn from Jane Seymour. She has been an actress, artist, and mother (among other things) over a long span of time. I wanted to know the secret to her continued success. What I observed is good advice for writers but also for anyone who wants to present themselves in a positive light.
So here’s what I learned from my evening observing Jane Seymour:
Be gracious. Jane Seymour engaged everyone who was introduced to her. She paid attention to them. She smiled. She was patient with their questions and especially with me, in my moment of fangirl delirium, when I told her that one of the best moments of my life was having the huge movie theatre to myself during a screening of “Somewhere in Time.”
Be prepared. Ms. Seymour knew she would be asked a lot of Jane Austen-related questions, since she was helping to promote my book. She had ready answers for interviewers and party-goers who wanted to know when she first read Jane Austen (“at school”) and what she had in common with the great author (they were both one-time residents of Bath). Her reading of the first chapter of Pride and Prejudice left everyone wanting more.
Be polished. I expected that Jane Seymour would look like a million bucks, and I wasn’t wrong. I was especially impressed by her off-white dress with a short-sleeved jacket. I assumed it was a designer outfit until I was back in Nashville, shopping at Macy’s, and saw it on the rack there. It was a moderately priced dress from Jones New York, one of my favorite brands. So that’s proof that looking polished doesn’t have to have an extravagant price tag!
Be yourself. Ms. Seymour was at her most charming when she was showing us photos of her paintings on her iPod Touch. Like most artists (and writers!), she was both proud of her work and a little vulnerable when it came to others’ response to it. One of the things I most admire her is that she pursues the things she loves with lots of energy. Like most of us, she juggles a lot of roles.
So I’m back home now, trying to be gracious, prepared, polished, and myself with sometimes mixed results. But an amazing event like this book launch was not only a celebration – it was a great learning experience. I hope I have the opportunity for more!
Beth Pattillo currently resides in Nashville, Tenn., with her husband and two children. Her passion for all-things Jane Austen began when she studied abroad for a semester at the University of London, Westfield College. She has made regular trips across the pond for the past 20 years, the most recent of which took her on a pilgrimage through Hampshire, where she visited many of the sites featured in her popular book, Jane Austen Ruined My Life. Pattillo is also the author of The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society (WaterBrook Press, 2008), Earth to Betsy (WaterBrook, 2006) and Heavens to Betsy (WaterBrook, 2005), for which she was awarded the RWA RITA (Romance Writer’s Association) award for Best Inspirational Romance.