Monday, June 26, 2017

If I Were a Jane Austen Character...

I've taken I don't know how many "Which Jane Austen Character Are You?" quizzes in my time. I think most of the time they come up accurate, but they typically cast you based on if you're a man or woman.

How I wish I could say that I was Elizabeth Bennet; Witty, Pretty, and Headstrong. Don't we all want to be Lizzie? She's got such a head for the right thing to say at that exact moment, while being able to learn from her mistakes.



Typically, I get Fanny Price, the quiet observer in Mansfield Park who has been in love with her best friend for most of her life.


As I get older I sometimes think that I'm Anne Elliot, the responsible middle daughter of a vain, pompous spendthrift in Persuasion, who spends most of the book regretting a lost love.



If I were going to be truly honest with myself, though, I'd be none of these characters.

My book club read Pride & Prejudice awhile back, and in rereading it, I really started to watch a certain character. He was shy, intelligent, honorable, and almost too willing to give in to first impressions.

It's Mr. Darcy. I'm totally Mr. Darcy. I really understand him on a personal level.

Let's look at the facts. Mr. Darcy is:
  1. Shy. Upon his first visit to Meryton, he only speaks to his own friends, Mr. and Miss Bingley. He doesn't break away from them or even step out to talk to the woman he finds prettiest in the entire room (Lizzie). 
  2. Stubborn. He stubbornly clings to his initial opinions of people, and even tells Lizzie that once his good opinion is lost on someone, it is lost forever. It's one of the most important quotes on his character. 
  3. More extroverted around close family and friends. He dotes on his younger sister, Georgiana. Lizzie's entire opinion of him changes after speaking to her as well as his housekeeper, who have nothing but the best things to say about him. He's seen (in the 2005 film version) laughing when Georgiana is around, and Lizzie can see what a friendship they have. 


I did a little soul searching after rereading the novel, and found that I also am:
  1. Shy. Okay. It didn't take a brain surgeon to figure this one out. My dad's favorite story to tell about me was the first time I went roller skating, I went around twice, watched everyone else skate for the next two hours, but the next time I went out, I was skating quickly around the rink. I'm very heavily guarded in my outward opinions until I get to know someone and gauge how they'll react. Not to say I care about other's opinions of me, but I do care about looking like an idiot if I don't think things through. Also, I check out EVERYTHING before I go through with something. I visited Stephens three times before I applied. I texted my friend, who is a groomer at a Petsmart in Texas (she used to work at one here), about policies from her experience before I scheduled an appointment for Chuck to get his nails clipped.
  2. Stubborn. It's almost a family trait to hold grudges. And my grudges can be legendary (There's a short list of people who are actually dead to me. They come up to me on the street and start talking, I will look right through them and not speak. Immature? Maybe, but I've been burned horribly and refuse to go through that again). 
  3. More extroverted around close family and friends. In true introvert fashion, I'm very outgoing around people I'm comfortable with. I can be the biggest goofball with my beloved friends and family. They know how to bring me out of me shell, and dropping me in the middle of an unfamiliar situation is not the way to do it. 
I've always liked Darcy, and I think that's what people love about characters, especially when they're so complex: They see bits of themselves there. It's important in writing stories that really speak to the audience to make them well-rounded and somewhat mysterious. 

Peeling back the layers of a character is like meeting them in real life. You don't know everything about them until you get to know them. And the prejudice surrounding Mr. Darcy is exactly why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. 

  • Which famous literary character are you? (I'm always Jo March. WIN!)
  • Who do you love best in Jane Austen?

Monday, June 5, 2017

That Time I Almost Met Debbie Reynolds

It's no secret I love old Hollywood musicals. I even like bad musicals that have elements of Old Hollywood in them (Looking at YOU, Xanadu!).

I've been enamored of old movies since I was a kid. My dad and I would watch them all the time. I don't remember the first time I saw Singin' In the Rain, but I remember it was in our first house, so I was less than seven.

I watched it again in high school and almost died laughing. I learned the songs, fell in love with Gene Kelly (though I hear he was a jerky perfectionist in his professional life), and thought getting started in Hollywood was as easy as popping out of a cake.


Who knows? I might have been in the 20's.

There's a reason it's one of the top musicals ever made. It's just so dang funny and timeless. Is there a better villain than the squeaky-voiced Lina LaMont? Is there a funnier number than Fit As a Fiddle or Make 'em Laugh?

Back in 2010, FilmStreams in Omaha had a showing at the Joslyn Art Musem, and Debbie Reynolds was to speak beforehand. Because my dad is amazing, he bought us tickets.

I got dressed up. If I was going to meet Debbie Reynolds, I wanted to look awesome. I don't remember many specifics about the outfit, but I did remember the shoes I wore. they were fuschia platform peep toe booties with a huge bow on the side. Difficult to walk in, but they looked so cute, who cared?

Before the show started, I went down to the basement, where the bathrooms were. I wasn't going to miss my chance to see this amazing film on the big screen.

As I was coming back upstairs, I heard a loud commotion, and as I reached the landing, a crowd of museum or Film Streams employees was ushering in a short woman with permed blonde hair.

It was Debbie! And she was right in front of me!

Hoping to meet her for a quick second, I took the final step...and missed it. I fell off my shoes, crashing to the floor with a little shriek.

The crowd stopped, and in almost slow motion, they looked down at me.

I stared right at Debbie. She stared back at me.

And just like that, it was over. They ushered her into the theatre while I picked myself up, and hurried to my seat to exclaim to my dad, "I tripped in front of Debbie Reynolds!"

Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet her. I was a night waitress and I had to get to work, but that's still one of my favorite celebrity encounters of all time.

I was very sad when Debbie Reynolds passed away following her daughter, Carrie Fisher. The world lost two immense talents. I always wanted to meet Debbie for real, but that didn't happen. At least I can say she looked right at me.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

The Peanut Butter Gallery

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you're all having a nice, long weekend, and remembering those who gave their lives in service to keeping our country safe. Thank you to you and your families for your sacrifice.

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Anyone who knows my family knows that we are HUGE fans of peanut butter. Seriously. It's almost ridiculous how much we love and adore the stuff.

We each have our own way of making a PB sandwich (My dad and sis like to SLATHER their bread in peanut butter, while my mom and I prefer to keep it to a fairly thin layer).

As a child, when I was given the classic snack Ants on a Log (Peanut butter inside of a celery stalk with raisins), I'd remove the raisins, lick off the peanut butter and call it good (can't stomach celery or raisins to this day, actually).

Peanut Butter Cups were my favorite candy growing up.

I discovered Peanut Noodles in college and never looked back.

I've always said if I discovered I had a nut allergy, I'd die a happy person (because I wouldn't stop eating it).

Suffice it to say, I ADORE peanut butter.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I gave Chuck a Kong filled with peanut butter and his food that he wouldn't go near it. He barely even sniffed it. He loved playing with the Kong when it was just filled with food, but he wanted nothing to do with the peanut butter that kept things locked in tight.

How could this be? Can he really be a Martin if he doesn't like peanut butter? Frisket loves peanut butter. Our old dogs, Rosie and Charmin loved peanut butter. Heck, I'm sure even our cats would love it, if we'd let them try it.

I thought it would be something he'd grow out of, but as we were at training class last week, we started learning a loose-leash walking technique involving PB on a spoon. I was optimist. How could a puppy reject a creamy, delicious treat like peanut butter?

I don't know how he rejected it, but he did.

And apparently this is a common occurrence. The trainer had CheezWhiz at the ready for us, which Chuck lapped up with abandon.

What is this world coming to?

So, what this means is that Chuck will need to learn to loose leash walk with fake cheese. He's already pretty good at loose leash walking, he just is a bit sporadic in his direction. He's a little thing, so I pretty much let him do his thing. I just don't pull on the leash, myself. Maybe he's taking me for the walk?

To say the anti-peanut butter stance was a shock is an understatement. But it's his life and taste buds. No one understands why I don't like oatmeal raisin cookies or strawberries, but I don't. If this is how he wants to live his life, that's his choice. And tastes do change. He might come to love it when he's older. But I'm not counting on it. As it stands, I'll continue to love my little guy with the big brown eyes and we'll carry on, with CheezWhiz.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I'm Back!

So, funny story.

I still blog over at Rebekah Martin Writes, but I really missed this space. Like Really REALLY missed it. This blog that I pretty much wrote my random thoughts and didn't give it a niche. It was just messy and cluttered.

And that's kind of okay.

I'm still trying to find my path as a writer and blogger, so if this will be my place to discover that part of me, hey, it's my website.

The thing is, a lot has been going on, and I want to share it with you.

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen that I've added to my family. My puppy Chuck is going to be five months on May 28, and he's just so adorable. It was a stressful first month and a half (I got him at the end of March), but we're definitely getting into a groove. He's in puppy school, and while he's not a good traveler, I'm optimistic he will be someday.



Jane's still doing well. She was unsure of Chuck at first, but I think she's coming around. She's even forgiven me!

But to all my new followers (According to BlogLovin' there are a lot!) I want to say Welcome! Thank you for giving me a chance, and I hope you'll enjoy a new kind of format. I'm working on a lot of different projects and I hope you'll be willing to join me.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I'm Moving!

Talk about a long hiatus!

So, things have been happening, or rather, things have been stalling, and I've decided that I need to actually do things in order to achieve what I want to in life. Where I want my writing to go, and what I want to dedicate my blog to.

When I first started MJA I had no idea what I wanted in a blog. I just wanted to write, and I hoped that the readers would follow me. And it took awhile, but you have! But I've been terrible at keeping up with this blog because I was trying to turn it into something that it just couldn't be.

I'm an author, first and foremost, and upon meeting other writers, I've learned so much and want to pass on that education to others, like they've passed on to me.

That said, The Modern Jane Austen isn't going to be getting updates anymore. This is a blog where I wrote about my life, some reviews here and there, and just a few tidbits about my writing journey. But it was mostly a confused mess, IMO, and I've decided to rebrand and start anew.

About two months ago I took advantage of a $7 blog setup special from Blogelina, which was setting up Wordpress, a year's worth of hosting on GoDaddy, as well as a blog design. I'd be mad NOT to take that deal. But I started a new blog. It's not live yet, and won't be until January 2, but this is going to be a blog completely dedicated to writing, publishing, and reviewing. If you're a writer and want to publish, there will be something there for you. If you're a reader and love finding new books, there will be a lot for you, as well. One of the most important aspects of blogging is finding your audience, and I realized that I want my audience to be people like me: Writers who want to publish.

I've learned a lot from MJA, and will keep it open in case there are posts you ever want to go back to (I want to keep it open specifically for my cornbread recipe. It's delicious!), but I won't be updating here anymore.

Thank you for joining me in this journey, and I hope that you'll join me at my new online residence, Rebekah Martin Writes.

God bless!

Becky Martin

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

These Are the MomentsThese Are the Moments by Jenny Bravo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't read much YA or NA, and I got this because I follow Jenny's blog, her Twitter, and have gotten to know her a bit more through #StorySocial on Twitter, so I was really excited to read her book.
This book was honestly like looking back at my own history. Granted, I've never loved anyone who couldn't get their crap together, but a lot of Wendy's teenage experiences, from going to Youth Group retreats to pining after a guy who has only shown a passing interest in me at first, rang real.

In fact, a lot of the world Jenny built was very real. I could see the town Wendy lived in, the friends she had, her younger sister's painful first breakup, the pain of catch and release with Simon's affections. I seriously wanted to punch him, and kept asking what it was about him that made her keep going back. Simon was a terrible person, and Wendy deserved so much better.

Everything in the story was very relatable, right down to feeling ignored by your recently engaged best friend (or any friend in a new, exciting relationship). These Are The Moments that we can all remember happening to us. I liked the story, and I'm looking forward to reading the prequel and sequel.

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice (The Austen Project, #4)Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have a love/hate relationship with Curtis Sittenfeld. I think she's a good writer if a bit pretentious. I read Prep when I was in college and was confused by its plotless story. I followed it up with The Man of My Dreams and was once again confused about when it would get to an actual story. By the time I got to American Wife I honestly had to ask myself if I'd ever read anything of Sittenfeld's again.
That being said, I read this because I love Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is probably one of the most amazing novels ever written. Elizabeth Bennet is complex, likable, and completely learns from her experiences.
I didn't feel that Liz Bennet learned anything in this modern remake. She was as judgemental as the characters she complained were judgmental. She goes through this entire novel acting like she's better than everyone because she's spent the last twenty years in New York, and not in Cincinnati, which is apparently Hickville, USA.
This is what almost every modern retelling of P&P gets wrong: Lizzie Bennet, while she definitely has her foibles, she's overall a kind person. Liz in Eligible just felt petty. She treats her parents like petulant children (though they were in denial, but she could've been more tactful, especially following her father's health scare), her sisters like children (though they were never forced to grow up, so that's to be expected, I guess), and the idea that she and Darcy decided to have hate sex just kind of grated on my nerves. She makes snap judgments on people, which are always spot-on. She's right about everything, which is annoying. I also felt like she was trying too hard to prove she was with the times, unlike her backward, conservative parents (Sittenfeld is seriously a one-sided writer).
I was glad that this book had a plot to follow. There were numerous goals with good challenges to block the goals, but I think the appeal of this book for me was the fact that it was based around P&P. I also thought the last bit with Mary's POV was unnecessary. It was just a POV to show how superior she was to her family. I already didn't like Mary, but that was overkill.

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If I Were a Jane Austen Character...

I've taken I don't know how many "Which Jane Austen Character Are You?" quizzes in my time. I think most of the time they ...