Austenland

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Austenland

Jane Hayes’s (Keri Russell) adoration of all things Jane Austen is complicating her love life. Determined to be the heroine of her own story, Jane spends her life savings on a trip to Austenland, an eccentric resort where guests experience complete immersion in the Regency era. Armed with her bonnet, corset and needlepoint, Jane strives to avoid spinsterhood … but has a difficult time determining where fantasy ends and real life—and maybe even love—begins. Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde) and Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers) also star in this charming romantic comedy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chick Lit vs. Women's Fiction: The Constant Whining of Artistes

I've been a superfan of Chick Lit and Chick Flick probably since the mid to late 90's. I loved love stories, funny stories, and stories with awesome clothes. The fact that I loved writing these stories in college was kind of a thorn in the side of my teachers and classmates, who thought my love of Romantic Comedy wasn't worth their time (Seriously). In fact, my best friend, Lauren, and I bonded after our Screenwriting class, on our way to the Commons for lunch, because we were both discouraged that our screenplays, hers a black romantic comedy, and mind a fluffy romantic comedy, were torn apart by classmates whose own works were, for lack of a better word, weird.

Last week, I read an article on Buzzfeed about how Chick Lit is a degrading title that holds women back from their works being viewed as "Literature." This article actually made me mad, because I see Chick Lit as a specific genre. Wikipedia describes Chick Lit as genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.

I took it to my Facebook Writer's group, and their reactions pretty much matched my own: that women are so afraid of their work being construed as Chick Lit that they bash a genre that's not even theirs. A book can be funny, engaging, and have some of the same themes as Chick Lit and NOT be Chick Lit.


What bothers me the most about the Buzzfeed article is that it compares Women's Fiction to books that are a completely separate genre. They claim they're just marketed differently just because they're written by men. The books shown on the article Dead Man's Room by Peter James and The Kill Room by Jeffrey Deaver. Both books are thrillers, not dramas or comedies. Of COURSE they're going to be marketed differently than something like It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane. They involve two different subject matters.

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Now, yes. I agree, based on the cover of McFarlane's book, it does look like Chick Lit. But let's take a step back. How much of a say did she have in the cover design? The marketing? Could she have said no at any time to how it was portrayed in the media? I don't know the ins and outs of traditional publishing, but I do believe that we can take ourselves out of the equation at any time if it's not what we want.

According tWikipedia
The Women's Fiction Writers Association guiding statement is broad and comprehensive: An inclusive organization of writers who create stories about a woman’s emotional journey. These stories may have romance. Or they may not. They could be contemporary. Or historical. But what binds them together is the focus on a woman’s emotional journey.[2]
While I can kind of see how aggravating it is that your work is referred to as something that it's not, Chick Lit is a specific genre. There are authors out there who proudly publish Chick Lit.

I'm part of a proud group of women writers who love the light, fluffy genre, and we write it with the best of our ability. We take control of our writing by being true to who we are and what we love. We don't tear down another genre because of stereotypes. People like McFarlane and Marian Keyes are tearing down a genre that doesn't match their own ideals. Instead of fighting against a genre they don't want to be considered as, they should be fighting for their own work.

Author Brea Brown had this to say about the article, and I agree with her.
 It's pretentious and doubly sickening, because it's denigrating one form of expression in order to glorify another. "What *I* write isn't chick lit. Oh, no, no, no! Heavens no! It's women's fiction. I really wish people would stop referring to it in such debase terms." It's only debased because of the people who continue to perpetuate that stereotype!
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I don't know why Chick Lit gets a bad rap. I'm all about escapism in my writing. Peeking in and experiencing someone else's life for a couple hundred pages. When I read Chick Lit, I want to laugh, relate, and hopefully fall in love with the characters. I think all writers hope that people have similar emotions and actions when reading.

Real Chick Lit has nothing to do with being anti-feminist, which is an argument that many people on the Buzzfeed article complained about. It can have serious undertones, while written in a lighthearted manner. I don't think it's a bad thing to like stories that have a happily ever after. The stories might not be realistic, but not every book has to have deep, philosophical meaning. And that's okay.


  • What are your thoughts on whether or not Chick Lit should be banned as a descriptor?
  • Do you like/read Chick Lit?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Can You Paint With All the Colors of Acrylic? (The Vino Van Gogh Experience + GIVEAWAY!)

I haven't sat down to paint a picture since I took painting 101 when I was a freshman in high school. Back then, I learned several techniques, but then left them in the classroom. I did give my grandmother a painting I did of Green Gables (Of Anne of Green Gables fame. I was a massive fan back then) for her nursing home room when I was eighteen, though. Otherwise, I never really took the time to paint.

Sister Date!!!!
When I got the opportunity to try Vino Van Gogh, a local traveling painting class, I was on top of that so fast. I was given the opportunity to try a class for free with a friend, so I chose my sister to come with me. You guys know I'm always up for a sister date!

Vino Van Gogh has you pick a class based on what the painting is that's being taught, and the restaurant it's being taught as. Teachers travel to different places, and ask that you also get something from the restaurant. The restaurant we went to was Fernando's on Pacific in Omaha, a festive Mexican restaurant on a main drag. They've got a full bar, and a wide selection of classic entrees. Kiri and I planned to split the Nachos, get drinks, and get sopapillas, but by the time we were done painting, and noshing on Nachos, neither of us felt like dessert. Next time. We'll definitely be back.

Blue Margarita on the Rocks

Nacho El Kitchen Sinko~MASSIVE!!!!!
The painting portion was intriguing. Our teacher, Calinda Davis, explained different ways to ready the brushes, load the paint for perfect blending, and how to get the most out of our experience. She was great.
Calinda holding up the Model
I actually took pictures of each layer I painted when I finished. Almost like a flip book (except, not really).
A bit of white in the middle, covered by yellow

Almost done!
Finished product, with my signature in the corner <3
It was such a great experience. Being able to go hang out with friends and paint is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. One of the most important things to do as an adult is take time to do something fun, and hopefully make something beautiful. I think I accomplished both, and will definitely try it again. My sister and I kept saying how much fun it would be to do with our parents.

We were sat three to a table, and our table mate told us of another place in town that taught glassblowing, and blacksmithing. Who knew Omaha had all of this stuff?! I certainly didn't. Further proof that Omaha is one of the greatest places to live with a lot to do.

I would HIGHLY recommend checking out Vino Van Gogh if you want to have a fun date night, a night with your friends, or even just to learn new techniques, and develop a new talent.

I also got to meet a couple blogger friends, which was awesome! Be sure to check out their blogs! Robyn's is a Mommy Blog with reviews of things she does with her kids, and Rachael's blog is all about healthy living, complete with recipes! I'm jazzed to add them to my Blog Roll!

Robyn, Rachael, and Me
If you're interested in trying Vino Van Gogh for yourself, here's a chance for two lucky readers to try it out, and create their own masterpiece! Plus, you get an additional ticket to take a friend! Taking my sister with me made the experience all the more fun!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 18, 2015

What You Don't Know

Today, I'm part of a blogger link up, and I'm really excited about sharing some things that you might not know about me. I like to think I'm an open book, but everyone has their secrets, or just things people don't notice about them.


Here goes:


  • The older I get, the more in tune I get with animals. I think for most people, it starts out that way, as children, but leaves them as they age. I'm pretty sure I'm the exact opposite. I feel like if I don't like an animal, that animal doesn't have a good side (Going off my opinions here).
  • I'm a hardcore iced coffee drinker. I had two mediocre iced coffees this week from Scooter's and Dunkin' Donuts, so I decided to use Ree Drummond's Iced Coffee Concentrate method. It's delicious!
  • I've seen Titanic over 200 times. Not recently, but it came out in 1997, when I'd just gotten my new TV. Plus, like every 12-13 year old girl, I was obsessed. Not with Leonardo DiCaprio, but just with the whole spectacle of it. I immersed myself in Titanic trivia. It was the first movie I'd ever pre-ordered, and my dad made sure I got the widescreen VHS tapes. All my friends were wondering why my copy was gold, and theirs were blue. Because mine was hella awesome, that's why. 
  • I recently finished the outline for my next book. I've tried to be a pantser and I've tried being a planner. Being a planning writer seems to work for me, because I can see where I want to go. I haven't been this excited about a new story in AGES. It's been great. I got inspiration here.
  • I don't like KFC. It doesn't matter what state I'm in, or what franchise, it's always dirty, the service is lousy, and the food is always cold. Even the one time I was craving it in college, it was a total letdown. 
  • I honestly don't know what I'd be if I weren't a writer. I thought I'd be an actress or singer, but the more I learn about the business, the more I realize that life isn't for me. Being a writer has been my calling since I was nine. I've been honing my craft for over twenty years. 
So, that's me. Some little factoids about yours truly. What are some factoids about you? Tell me in the comments!


Helene in Between

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pure Puppy Passion: Frisket Gets a Present (Affiliate Post)

Post Sponsored By Chewy

Frisket is a super playful puppy. He always has been. He loves all kinds of game, playing fetch, especially. He even likes playing with the cats if they'll let him.

They usually don't.

He's going to be thirteen next month, and while he's turning into quite the grumpy curmudgeon, he still loves cuddles, getting his belly rubbed, and playing fetch.

When we were camping a few weeks back, he actually fell out of the truck. Not sure if he jumped, and slipped, or if he actually fell out, but for awhile there, we actually thought he may have dislocated his arm. We gave him half of an ibuprofen, and aside from acting a little stoned, he seemed to have felt better.

He seems to be doing much better now, and when I got contacted by Chewy.com to try something new for my pets, I knew that I wanted to get something for Frisket. Old dog that he's becoming (but he'll always be my pupper), I wanted to get him something that would help him feel like a young pup.

Nutramax Cosequin Minis are soft chews that provide needed medicine for healthy joints. They help provide mobility, cartilage, and joint support so Frisket can run and not grow weary or sore. Since they're soft chews, Frisket can chew them easily, and he's always left wanting more.


Chewy is so sweet, they also sent him a little rubber toy that almost looks like a tiny strand of DNA. I wasn't sure if Frisket would actually play with it, because he usually likes tennis balls, and ripping soft toys to shreds, but when he saw this, he went absolutely BANANAS for it! It was hilarious watching him. He took it everywhere for the first few days, too.


Now, that's a happy dog. <3

Disclaimer: Products provided by Chewy.com for my opinion, which are all my own. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Five: Things I'm Loving Friday

So, this is a new thing for me, but I'm really getting interested in sharing what I love with the world. Do I think that people pay attention to what I have to say? Not really, but no one ever really has. It's shocking when I'm not talking to hear myself (or writing to read myself).

Mike's Hard Lemonade in Blood Orange

Blood orange is a seasonal flavor, and it goes down so so SO smooth! I mean, it's hard lemonade. It's not like you're trying to knock back scotch, but I generally don't care for alcohol in general. This was so delicious. I'm looking forward to enjoying it on our patio, by our little pool this summer. It's been a nice post-work treat. Honestly, I think I only drink in the summer. 

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When Calls The Heart

Oh, my heart. This show. It was a little slow to start, but it's definitely growing on me. It's been added to Netflix, and I really hope season 2 is available On Demand, because this is filling the period piece void in my life. I'm a huge fan of books and movies like this. Always have been. It's reminiscent of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Christy, and Anne of Green Gables (which, we already know I love).

It tells the story of an affluent teacher that moves to a coal mining town to teach, inadvertently gets on the bad side of the town constable (who was being a total asshat to her for no good reason), and how she wins over both him, and the rest of the town. I've always loved Jeanette Oke, ever since second grade when my teacher read us several of her children's books, and I've become a fan well into adulthood. Love!

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Season 2 is on Saturdays on Hallmark Channel.

The Avengers, Agent Carter, Agents of SHIELD

I was never really a Marvel nerd until the Marvel Cinematic Universe created this large, beautiful story, weaving the lives of several people together in order to save the world from those that want to hurt it. My favorite is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but they're all pretty damn amazing. I'm a massive Captain America nerd, and when Agent Carter came out and was renewed for a second season, I was incredibly thankful.We need more heroines like Peggy Carter on TV. And the world needs more gentlemen like Captain Steve Rogers. Dang it, he's adorable.

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Agents of SHIELD is another show that was a little hard to get into at first, but it's addicting, especially when you watch it along with the MCU, and see the big picture of what they're trying to create. This last season was full of twists and turns that I wasn't ever expecting. Just absolutely insane.

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Jamberry Butterfly Effect Wraps

We know I'm a Jamberry fiend consultant, but I've been having a hard time finding Jamicures that I love. Well, I decided to do all my nails with  Butterfly Effect, and I honestly really love how it looks. I've always thought Monarch Butterflies were beautiful. 

A bit overexposed, but still nice.
A few years ago, at the Omaha Zoo, there was a documentary called Flight of the Butterflies in 3D, and to date, it's the only documentary that's made me cry. And I've seen some doozies! My dream one day is to build a butterfly garden. If you awtch the documentary, you'll know why. I HIGHLY recommend it.

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Janie

This cat. I tell you. I was concerned that she was going to be mad that I left her for three days last weekend. But she's been nothing but loving ever since I got back. We've got kind of a fun night time ritual going on this week. I hang out in my room, watching a couple episodes of When Calls the Heart, and she comes in, vying for my attention. She's not much of a snuggler, but she LOVES the laser pointer. She runs around after it until she's tired, then she comes to me and cuddles close. It's a new stage, and I'm thankful for it. Love my girl. <3



  • What are you loving this week?
  • Any products I should try?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

3 Ways to Make Money Fast

Since my last post about giving up my money troubles to God, I've been doing a lot of thinking on how to save and earn more money. Sadly, it's on my mind a lot more than I think it should be, but this week a lot is coming due, so I'm getting really anxious.


Sell Old Movies or Music

As a teenager or even young adult in college, the thought of selling movies or music was like giving away my children. I bought TONS of media from this place in Columbia, MO called Slackers, and my movie collection grew a lot. Not my music collection as much, because I'm particular about my tunes, but I bought a LOT of movies back in the day.

When I need money, I usually go through my vast array, and weed out the movies I don't really like, don't usually watch, or have more than one copy of (True story). It's not a huge money making scheme, but if you need a few extra dollars to put in your emergency fund, it's not a bad way to do it. $2-$3 can add up over time. 

Give Plasma Locally

If you're in reasonable health and can handle needles, giving Plasma is a great way to help out the medical community, and make money doing it. 

Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood, carrying red and white blood cells to different parts of your body to help keep you fit and healthy. The plasma can be used in medicine, as an alternative to saline solution (Ever watch Grey's Anatomy or ER and they ask for saline solution, which are the clear bags on IV stands? It's basically salt water to help replenish fluids). 

Plasma is a lot like giving blood for the red cross, except once they've stuck your arm with a needle, it goes through a centrifuge to separate the plasma from the blood cells. The red blood cells are mixed with saline solution, and pumped back into your body. It's not that uncomfortable, and aside from a bit time consuming, if you get into a good habit of going to give, you can make a decent side income.

Back in 2007, gas prices in the midwest were nearing $4/gallon, and despite working several hours a week at my call center job, the money wasn't there. I started giving Plasma for gas money, which became almost lifesaving for me. Back then, they paid in cash, Nowadays, places like OctaPharma (where I've given in the past) use a Visa Debit card to load your money, and you can use it anywhere Visa is accepted. I used it on the Disney Dream back in 2011. 

For more information on how Plasma can be used, check out OctaPharma's website.

Online Options

These take a bit longer, but if you do them consistently, they could certainly add up. Swagbucks and Inbox Dollars both have search engines that let you earn money by doing searches, and they also have surveys you can do to earn a little bit on the side in the form of points, which you can trade for gift cards. This would be a good thing to do throughout the year if you want to save up money for Christmas. Like I said, not much, but if done consistently, it'll add up. I'm still working on the consistent thing. 

Inbox Dollars also lets you earn money by reading emails, and taking part in offers. I don't usually do that option, because I hate getting spam, but if you're not as annoyed by it as me, then it could be a good option for you.


If you're really not in a hurry, but want to get money back on your everyday purchases, Ebates is probably a great option for you. Depending on what specials they're having, and how much your order, you can get a decent amount back. They even have travel deals, which I'm hoping to use when I buy plane tickets for my trip this summer. I've only earned $5 and some change back, but I installed the Ebates button on my browser, so when I'm on a site with an online shopping option, it starts glowing to let me know I can earn money back. 

I hope this gives you some ideas to build off of when looking for options to earn money. I know I'll be more aware of what I can do to get myself out of debt. It's a slow process, but Dave Ramsey said to do whatever you need to do to build your emergency fund, and pay off that debt with gazelle intensity. 

**Disclosure**
Post contains afflilate links, which earn me money or points when you sign up.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blog Hop!

I rarely participate in Blog Hops, which is something I really want to remedy in 2015. I want to meet new people, read more blogs, and hopefully can encourage others to pull out of their shells to reach out into the Blogosphere.

Without Further Ado:

We are super happy on how our blog hop is growing and how many bloggers linked up last week. We are so thankful for you guys being part of it.

With that being said PLEASE FOLLOW THE FOLLOW RULES!!

This week we have two new cohosts:

If you're interested in cohosting with us please fill this form out here.

Rules of the Blog Hop

1. FOLLOW YOUR HOST(S) & COHOST(S) - via GFC or Bloglovin
2. SUBMIT YOUR LINK
3. MINGLE WITH OTHER BLOGGERS
4. TWEET TWEET TWEET!!!!!



Classy, Sassy & a Bit Smartassy