3 Things Jane Austen Taught Me About Fear

Jane Austen was the master of characterization. She knew people inside and out, foibles, propensities to do good or ill, and emotions. One of those emotions she was familiar with and wrote about is fear.

Fear? What did anyone have to fear? They didn’t have terrorists. The characters lived comfortable, privileged lives, with servants to do the dirty work. No one starved, no one experienced violence–no main characters, that is. What is there to be afraid of in Regency England for the likes of the Bennets and the Elliots?

001Me, afraid

Here are five characters and their fears, along with how they dealt with them:

  1. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Bennet (Pride and Prejudice.) Lizzy is the daughter of a not-so-well -off country gentleman. With no brothers to provide for her when Mr. Bennet dies, and no brothers to inherit and give her a leg up, Lizzy faces the very real possibility of winding up dependent on any benevolent relative she can find if she cannot marry well. If all failed, there are really few to no options for her career-wise. Yes, women worked back then. Gentlewomen, however did not, it would seem, besides becoming governesses, a lonely, demeaning job.

What I learned from Lizzy…

Though she says, “Beggars cannot be choosers” (in the movie anyway) regarding accepting a marriage proposal, Lizzy is determined not to be induced into matrimony if she does not love the man, which she proves by declining TWO marriage proposals. She could have been safe, comfortable, but miserable. Some people–back then, at least–might have called her foolish for putting her survival on the line (Mrs. Bennet let her displeasure be known, that’s for sure.) But what I learned was this: It’s okay to say no to the known in favor of the frightening unknown if your character and morals are at stake. In other words: Don’t compromise just because you’re afraid.

2. Mr. Willoughby (Sense and Sensibility.) Ah, Willoughby. The rake. The rogue. What has he got to do with fear? If Lizzy Bennet is a moral heroine, Willoughby is the inverse: Willoughby is victim to his own desperation. Oh, he’s fine at first, seducing women right and left. Feels pretty good about being in line to inherit his aunt’s great fortune and estate…until it’s discovered he got a girl pregnant out of wedlock and then abandoned her. Well, his auntie finds out about this bad business and disinherits him. Desperate and afraid of losing his cushy lifestyle, Willoughby sets out to make a most advantageous marriage…for himself. He marries and lives off a rich woman.

What I learned from Willoughby…

He could have done the right thing: Married the girl he seduced and impregnated, apologized to Marianne and her family, and changed his ways. Instead, he goes to Eleanor and basically tries to absolve himself. It’s obvious he feels terrible, but his “apology” is completely self-serving. When you’ve done wrong, you need to face your fear of rejection and humiliation and make things right, no matter what. In other words: Fear isn’t a pass to overlook your duty.

3. Mary (Elliot) Musgrove (Persuasion.) Bear with me, I have only read the book once. But I have seen the movie multiple time 😉 Mary strikes me as a fearful person. At the root of her fear, though, is pride. Mary will not have you think her beneath her station, even it’s at the expense of other people’s feelings.

What I learned from Mary…

Perhaps some fear and most pride are very closely linked (much like Lizzy and Willoughby being two sides of the same coin, one good and one ill.) Fear of failure = pride. Fear of being laughed at = pride. Fear of what other’s think of me = pride. This brings to mind some wonderful sayings: What other people think of you is none of your business and The only opinion about yourself that is worth considering is God’s.

What about you? What has Jane taught you about fear? Anything?

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

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Jolabokaflod

“Gesundheit!” you say? WRONG. I did not sneeze. Jolabokaflod, the word that has been circulating the web is the Icelandic tradition translated as “the Christmas Book Flood.”

What is the phenom? It is GLORIOUS! On Christmas Eve, people give each other BOOKS! Squeee! So, I may or may not have bought a bunch of books for friends and family to be given on the day before Christmas 😀

I am soooo excited! I’m even going to include chocolate (taking the book to bed with chocolate is part of the tradition, btw.) I hope to make this a new tradition.

Every year, my mom gives my sister and me each an ornament that has something to do with what has gone on during the year. Example: last year I “finished” writing “Scotch” (now under a new title.) So she got me a bottle of booze…ornament. Hehe.

What are some of your traditions? Think you’ll participate in Jolabokaflod?

Whatever you do, keep that pen on the page!
Beth

The Art of the Start

NaNo Playlist Thing

^Behold the playlist.

I started! I started! I started writing The S.A.P.I.E.N. Complex! Eh, it’s a working title…maybe. Could go by another title, but it would be somewhat of a spoiler, and you know how I hate spoilers. ANYWAY…

Sometimes, you’ve just gotta be happy about the small things. Hey, I can’t finish the novel if I don’t start it. And it is a rough start. But it is also a rough draft. And, as Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is…the s-word” …only, Hemingway didn’t have kids reading his blog. Hemingway didn’t have a blog, even, but I digress.

I am 3,000+ words into NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for those who don’t know.) I am so hoping I don’t have to brush up my Russian accent!

I tra’el the weerld an’za se’wen seas….

Happy September!

It’s that time of year, people. Get ready to be inundated with all things pumpkin spice, to smell the sights, to see the sounds, to…Did you catch that? If you didn’t, I’ll let you read it again.

Anyway, fall is just around the corner. No, it is not here yet. We’re still in summer, no matter what the pumpkin spice people say (if they had their way, there would only be ONE season.) But summer break for the kids, alas, is over. *insert the sounds and sights of parents celebrating everywhere…unless they homeschool, then tough kitty parts*

For those of us without kids, we just shrug and barely notice the shift in seasons. Well, except for the occasional observation that Target is less crowded on weekdays. Oh, and the plethora of back-to-school signs and gear. Yep. So, without further ado, a word from our sponsors (okay, not really “sponsors,” but they do write me occasionally):

sale time fall

In case you’re like me and can’t read that itty-bitty print: MuseItUp is having a month-long sale on their kids’ e-books (30% off.) My book is pictured in the bottom right corner, huzzah! Click here to see the site.

If you purchase In a Pickle, there’s a free teacher’s guide that comes with it!*

And, I’m done with whole ad thing. There. Tell someone I put in my due diligence, would ya? There’s a good fella.

Enjoy the remainder of your summer. And remember: *in scary voice* Christmas music is coming!

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

*Applicable to MuseItUp store purchases alone. But if you would like a teacher’s guide and you purchased In a Pickle elsewhere, drop me an email and I’ll send a copy to you for free. bethovermyer@gmail.com

Buttload of Writing to Do

The list of things to be written is growing. Oi vey. Do you want to see the list of titles? OF COURSE YOU DO!

Projects in no particular order (all are in various stages of development)

  1. Excalibur Lucan and the Medieval Murders
  2. Doggone It!: An Arthur Slow Mystery
  3. They Were Heroes: Jane Austen
  4. Willoughby’s Regrets
  5. Racing Through Time
  6. London Towne
  7. They Were Heroes: Emily Dickinson
  8. They Were Heroes: Charlotte Bronte
  9. They Were Heroes: Louisa May Alcott
  10. They Were Heroes: Gaston Leroux
  11. Villains: Mrs. Elton
  12. Villains: Fanny Dashwood
  13. Villains: Lady Catherine de Bourgh
  14. Villains: Mrs. Clay
  15. Steambeast
  16. The Latter Years: Pride and Prune Juice
  17. The Latter Years: Sense and Senility
  18. Pride and Prejudice – retelling
  19. Sense and Sensibility – retelling
  20. Jane Eyre – retelling
  21. Persuasion – Retelling
  22. The Phantom of the Opera – retelling
  23. The Scarlet Pimpernel – retelling
  24. Emma – retelling
  25. Salem Revisited
  26. Survival Boy
  27. Retirement
  28. Anti
  29. The Jane Austen Experiment
  30. A Comedy of Eyres
  31. The Woman in White – Screen adaptation
  32. The Footless Giant
  33. Written in Blood Orange
  34. Lady Catherine Tweets
  35. Wooing Miss Austen
  36. The Reign of Terror
  37. All-girl gangs (no title, atm)
  38. Hear Me Out
  39. Pride and Prejudice SECRET PROJECT
  40. Sense and Sensibility SECRET PROJECT
  41. Stage adaptation of The Moonstone
  42. Screen adaptation of The Moonstone
  43. Girl, Boy, Girl
  44. The Method (novel adaptation of my screenplay)
  45. Blink in, Blink out
  46. Dream-Walkers
  47. Summoned
  48. Time and Time Again
  49. The Disorderlies (book 2): Major Panic Time
  50. The Disorderlies (book 3): Bacterial Warfare
  51. Lady Knight
  52. Just Super
  53. Real Dreams
  54. Beth
  55. The Ham
  56. Jesse James
  57. “Face Time Impressions”
  58. Road Rage
  59. A Brush of Death’s Lips
  60. When You Die
  61. How NOT to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse: Book 1
  62. HNTSTZA book 2
  63. The Ripper Diaries
  64. The Voice Keeper
  65. The John Watson Diaries: Book
  66. The Anti-Villain
  67. DED: God Machine
  68. The Goblet Immortal
  69. The Shoe Fiit
  70. Child of the Past
  71. A Writer’s Guide to the Public Library
  72. Tender Moments series
  73. Austenites Anonymous
  74. Murder in the Afternoon: A Sweets and Sours Mystery
  75. In Defiance of Gravity
  76. Alien Invasion Novel
  77. Alien Invasion Novel Sequel
  78. The Highwayman
  79. Pirates for Hire

Oh, I left out some that are currently sans title. What am I doing fooling around on WP for? I’d better go write something!

Novel Teas and Fiction Flings

I kid you not, this was going to be a party-planning book from a person who has thrown precious few parties. I’ve thrown a Saint Patrick’s Day party, a bridal shower, a baby shower, and a book launch party. That’s it. But this book of party ideas was going to be different and special and oh-so-awesome. It was going to be book-themed.

The problem? I had never actually thrown a Lord of the Rings party (chapter one.) Well, unless you count the time I lit 144 candles on a cake for Bilbo’s 111 and Frodo’s 33 birthdays combined and coulda burned the house down. Yes, the problem was lack of experience…for writing the book, that is. Any idiot can melt a cake.

Some hated person once said “write what you know.” In the case of “Novel Teas and Fiction Flings,” I can see the merit in those words. But when it comes to fiction, IMO, the sky is the limit–unless you’re writing sci-fi/space opera/etc., where things, you know, happen in the sky.

A wiser person once said “write what you WANT to know.” I like that: the only limits are the depths of your imagination and curiosity.

So, someday, when I’ve made it big, I’m going to throw book-themed parties. And then I’ll write NT&FF. Because that’s what I do: write.

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

Book vs. Movie: Lord of the Rings

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…It’s the battle of the ages! In one corner we have thhhhhheeeeee NOVEL! In the other thhhhhhheeeee MOVIE!”

CUT TO: men placing bets, popcorn salespeople hawking their popcorn, as they do.

“Our first contenders: Book Legolas vs. Movie Legolas. Let the match begin, and things!”

*bell dings*

Book Legolas notches his bow and shoots an arrow, which hits its mark.

Movie Legolas notches his bow with two arrows, slides down a set of stairs on a shield, shoots, and hits his mark

The points would seem to go to ML (Movie Legolas), BUT…

“Oh no! It looks like Movie Legolas pulled an illegal move. Apparently even in fantasy, some things need to be kept within the realms of believability (which spellcheck is telling me isn’t a word)…go figure.”

Round Two!

Book Legolas: *says next to nothing, is just cool*

Movie Legolas deals himself the death blow…

*horses whinny and paw at the ground*

Movie Legolas: “The horses are restless.”

One, two, three! HE’S OUT! (You say that in boxing, right? Yeah.)

Movie Legolas is decreed the Elven King of Obvious and is forthwith banished to Boredom! Long live Legolas of Bookdom!

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This post brought to you by the writer who is bored and should be sleeping.