A letter to Jane Austen, on the 200th anniversary of her death

Dear Miss Austen,

I hope you will forgive my tardiness in writing to you. This week’s business caught me unawares. I’m sure you will forgive me when I tell you I was tending a library.

I feel the need to mark this occasion, though it is a sad one. You have been such a tremendous friend to me and to millions of others, and though I wasn’t a thought in anyone’s mind when your funeral was held 200 years ago, I will eulogize you now.

Though I never did and never could meet you when you were alive, I feel as though I know you through your stories. My mother bought me Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice for Christmas when I was thirteen. I received the rest of your books for my subsequent birthday. It took me a while (I am a terribly slow reader when it comes to the classics), but I grew to love your stories and, through them, you. In your works, I found ladies who understand what it’s like to deal with the challenges of growing up, of finding love and losing it, and of learning how to go after your desires. These ladies quickly became friends and role models. I still aspire to be as selfless as Anne Elliot, as witty as Lizzie, and as determined as Emma.

In your stories, I also found something that I didn’t know I was looking for. I discovered the sense of human continuity that only stories can bring, the knowledge that though people’s circumstances and social and political climates change, human nature remains the same. It is so lovely to pick up a book and read that a heroine from two hundred years ago had the same hopes and fears that a somewhat awkward heroine, such as myself, now has. That sense of continuity, of belonging not just to my time and place, but to a greater family called humanity, is such a gift. And you gave that to me and I’ll always be thankful.

Miss Austen, you worked so hard and received so little success during your brief time on this earth. But I am happy to tell you that things have changed. Women can now be and are recognized as great writers and contributors and storytellers. You helped pave the way for the rest of us and I can never thank you enough for that as well. Your determination in continuing to put pen to paper has helped me and so many others take up our own pens and write our own stories. Your struggles have borne much fruit. I hope that you know that and that you are proud of all of us.

God rest you gently, Miss Austen. May your stories and your legacy always live on.

Infinities of love,

Elizabeth

Three four-sentence book reviews

Hey, everyone! I’ve been reading quite a few books this year. I might have mentioned that I used to keep a book review blog, which I unfortunately had to delete due to college getting in the way of things. Now that I have this website (and it’s almost been a year, can you believe that?), I’d like to get back into reviewing. Back on the old blog, I’d go into lengthy analyses and discuss different character traits and plot lines. Those kinds of posts, while fun to write, were awfully time-consuming, so for brevity’s sake and to give myself a bit of a challenge, I’m going to limit these reviews to four sentences. If ya’ll like them, I might try to do this regularly. All of that said, let’s get to it.

1.Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill.

Britta Flannery, a bounty hunter’s daughter, decides to hunt her father’s killer, who could be her best friend and secret crush, Cohen McKay. Set in the soon-to-be warring worlds of Malam and Shaerdan, the world is richly described and interestingly detailed. It’s a tad slow at the start since there is so much information to absorb as the story goes along, but the ensuing action and tremendous character development make it definitely worth the wait. I’m already eager for the sequel and kudos to the people who made this glorious cover.

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The book looks so much better in person. The picture doesn’t capture the intricacies of the embossing. It’s a beautiful book. Photo credited to Goodreads. 

2. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.

Described by the author as a story that started out as “50 Shades of Labyrinth” (see the full story here), this novel follows the story of Liesl who journeys to the kingdom Underground when her sister Kathe is taken by goblins, where she is determined to save her from the Goblin King himself. Though I enjoyed this book, there really isn’t too much plot to it (but the descriptions of both the landscapes and the music are just awesome). It mainly focuses on the relationships between the characters, chiefly between Liesl and the Goblin King, but also between Liesl and Kathe, and the relationships between the girls and their family. It’s not the type of book I normally read (I’m not really a romance story kind of girl), but I totally enjoyed it all the same.

3. NewsPrints by Ru Xu.

This is a graphic novel that focuses on a character named Blue who has to disguise herself as a boy so she can work at the town’s newspaper. In doing this, she encounters all sorts of interesting people and finds herself in a bunch of different situations, all the while fighting to keep her true identity a secret. The art style of this graphic novel is so, so endearing and lovely, especially with how Ms. Xu uses lighting. This is definitely one you don’t want to miss (because of plot twists I don’t want to spoil) and one I can’t wait to see more of.

That’s all for today! Let me know what you think of these books and this reviewing style in the comments. Bye for now!

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I think this is one of the work-in-progress stills. Still so awesome! Photo credited to Ms. Xu’s tumblr.

Thoughts on finishing a first draft

Guys. IT’S DONE! The first draft of the novel I’ve been working on since last June is done, as of 10:19 p.m last night. Huzzah!

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Courtesy of Tumblr.

I can’t believe it’s done but at the same time, I’m so glad it is. I feel slightly less relieved than when I turned in my thesis, which was when I felt the most relieved I’ve ever been about finishing anything. At the same time, I miss it already and I feel like, with a lot of work ahead, it could be something good.

This isn’t the first first draft I finished. I finished the 188 page mess of a first draft of a different novel on New Year’s Eve in 2009. This one is 275 pages and is still a mess, but so much less so, it seems. Maybe it’s because I let myself work on the scenes I wanted to work when I wanted to work on them. Perhaps it’s because I’m not 15 any more, as I was when I finished my first initial draft of that other story. I know so much more about writing and about myself and maybe that’s what has made all the difference between that first story, which was so difficult to write, and this one, which was much easier to handle.

I’m sorry if this doesn’t make much sense. My brain is still so addled from finishing it. But I just wanted you to know that the first draft is done and you’ll no doubt be hearing more about it as I revise and eventually send it out into the world. But first, it’s time for a break to pursue some other projects.

That’s all for today, loves.