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Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Geek Girl's Guide to Jane Austen


A Geek Girl's Guide to Jane Austen









In 2009, I spent the year listening to classical music and reading nothing but Jane Austen. I was obsessed! And I didn't just read Austen novels; I geeked out on everything Austen or Austen related. Since that time, Jane Austen's stories have gotten more and more popular. The fact that we can relate to her work even today speaks to the timeless nature of her storytelling. So without further ado, the geek girl's guide to everything Jane Austen!

PERSUASION

Read the novel
I've read Persuasion nine times. It's my favorite Jane Austen's novel, and I feel the most overlooked. It's all about second chances, following your heart and forgiveness.
Read Persuasion free on Project Gutenberg >

Geek out
  • Retelling: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
    This is a young adult sci-fi retelling of Persuasion. Does it get better than that? I haven't read it yet, but I've heard great things.
PRIDE & PREJUDICE

Read the novel
Perhaps the most popular and iconic of Jane Austen's novels, this novel was once titled First Impressions. The main characters, Darcy and Elizabeth both must overcome their pride and rethink their prejudice in order to find love. Read Pride and Prejudice free on Project Gutenberg >

Geek out
There are countless ways to geek out on P&P, so I'm only going to list my faves. 
  • Comic book: What? I just found this. What? Awesome.
My eat-sleep-austen mug!
NORTHANGER ABBEY

Read the novel
This is one of Austen's earlier novels and I think it kind of shows. It's not my favorite, but the villains carry this book. They are so manipulative! Read Northanger Abbey free on Project Gutenberg >

Geek out

Gothic novels: Ok, this is when my true geek nature really comes out. To get a full understanding of Northanger Abbey, it helps to read gothic novels from the times (the characters in the book are engrossed with them). I really like the idea of reading the book the characters are reading. If you want to read along with the characters in this Austen classic, check out The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe.

EMMA

Read the novel
I found Emma to be the most fun and lighthearted of all Austen's novels. Matchmaking goes wrong and I found myself laughing out loud several times.
Read Emma for free on Project Gutenberg >

Geek out
  • Gothic novel: One of the characters in this book, Harriet Smith, recommends a book to her suitor. But it's a real book so you can read it too. If you want to try, check out The Romance of the Forest, by Ann Radcliffe.
MANSFIELD PARK

Read the novel
This is my least favorite Austen novel. It's dark and the main character's situation is so dire and depressing. Even when it ended, I wasn't happy. BUT...plenty of people feel differently so don't take my word for it. Read Mansfield Park on Project Gutenberg >

Geek out
I personally didn't geek out that much on this book since I didn't love it. But, here's some options.
  • Film adaptations: I watched two film versions, from 2007 & 1999. Both were ok.
  • The play: Some of the characters in the book perform the play Lovers' Vows. I might be worth tracking down. It was a controversial play in the book and it would be interesting to see why.
SANDITION

Read the novel
Jane Austen died before completing this novel, but that doesn't mean it didn't leave its mark. Hypochondriacs in a small beach town are hard to forget!

Geek out
  • Completion stories: An unfinished novel is like a choose your own adventure novel. I love reading these completion stories just to see how different they are:

    Sanditon: Jane Austen's Last Novel Completed
    This is my favorite completion. I've actually read it several times and highly recommend it!

    Jane Austen's Charlotte
    This is terrible! But I still enjoyed reading another version.

    That's all I've read so far, but there are several others detailed here.
  • Welcome to Sanditon: The next YouTube series by the makers of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries will be based on Sanditon and some of the storyline to be crowd sourced! (May 2013)
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

Read the novel

I can't believe I almost forgot tel. I even named my husband's car Willoughby! Read Sense and Sensibility on Project Gutenberg >

Geek out

The musical: The 1995 film is great, of course, but did you know there's now a musical? Yes, that's right and it's playing in my city! I'm sure if it's good, it will start making the rounds.

EVERYTHING ELSE

This is definitely not the extend of my geekery, but this post can only be so long. Here's the best of the rest...

The Jane Austen Fight Club
This does not get old. May be the best video ever!

Lady Susan
This is my favorite of Austen's lesser works. It's a story told in the form of letters. Lady Susan is a recent widow scheming for husbands for herself and her daughter.

The Letters
I'm not huge on biographies, so I haven't read one, but I did get into Austen's letters briefly. If you watch the film, Becoming Jane (I have mixed feelings about it), there are some allusions to the fact that there may be some semi-autobiographical aspects to her stories. Also, they're free for perusal on Project Gutenberg!

And that's it! Intense, right? Do you have anything to add to my geek list?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

5 Free Writing Resources on YouTube

I used to have this thing against YouTube. I pretty much saw it like the slushpile for the late and not so great America's Funniest Home Videos. Silly cats. Giggling babies. Viral dance videos. Rinse. Repeat. Blah.

Then I magically saw the light! YouTube is awesome for countless reasons. And if you're a writer, there are many videos you might find helpful. Here are some of my favorites:

1. FREE WEBINAR: Revising a Novel They Can't Put Down
The Writers Digest channel posts many helpful snippets on different topics and most of the videos are under ten minutes long. This one, however, is a full webinar from James Scott Bell, author of Plot & Structure. The video is over an hour in length so make sure you have time to watch. I'm sure a group of students paid good money for this webinar, but now it's free!

2. MARTHA ALDERSON'S CHANNEL
Martha Alderson, author of The Plot Whisperer, has many videos covering the topics discussed in her books. Sometimes she's in a garden, on a mountain or by the beach. Frankly, her choice of settings can be a little distracting, but she has some great content that's worth wading through.


3. HOW A BOOK IS MADE with Lauren Oliver
This series of videos was posted to the HarperKids channel. It's somewhat of a promotional series for Lauren Oliver's book, The Spindlers, but it does give an interesting look into the making of a book and the publishing process.
4.

4. JACKSON PEARCE'S WRITING VIDEOS
Jackson Pearce is the author of Sisters Red, Purity and many other titles. Her videos discuss everything from outlining to critique partners to naming characters (as seen below).


5. NEIL GAIMAN'S COMMENCEMENT SPEECH 
This video is inspirational, not instructional, but I love love love it!

So...that's it! Those are my 5 faves. Do you have more to add to the list? Do you turn to YouTube for this type of content?