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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

Monday, November 21, 2016

Incursion (Catalyst Moon #1)Incursion by Lauren L. Garcia
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received this from the publisher for a review and my honest opinion.

I just want to start off this review by saying that I didn't hate this book. In fact, there were parts that I really liked. What I didn't care for was the structure and the lack of description. Aside from the fact that Kali was injured and had dark hair and Stonewall was a burly soldier-type, I couldn't tell you anything else about the characters. I couldn't tell you who half the supporting cast was, or why their stories were important. The only thing I can figure is that they'll have bigger, more substantial roles in later books.
I've been reading a lot of books on story structure lately, because I know it's something that I definitely need to work on. In this, the characters had several misadventures, but nothing added up to a big climax at the end. There was no real antagonist to keep the main characters from their goal of reaching Whitewater City (Canderi, maybe?), and the threat and stakes didn't feel like they were much risk. I kept expecting some of the people that Kali and Stonewall stopped to help to betray them, but betray them from what? They weren't trying to do anything except get to the city. I think if Kali had been a bit more anxious to get away from Stonewall there may have been more opportunities for conflict, but she was almost too agreeable.
I think this was a valiant first effort in a book series, I just wish that there had been more at stake. Perhaps in later books, and this is just the first rumble of a full-on revolution for the Mages?

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Musings on Writing

Another year has gone by.



I'm 20 days out from my 31st birthday.


I'm 24 days out from embarking on my first cruise to Canada.


I'm thismuch closer to finishing a second manuscript this year.

So, it's shaping up to be a pretty exciting month for me. I'd REALLY like to finish both manuscripts so that I can get to working on their second drafts before NaNoWriMo kicks off in November.

Yes. I'm using my thirties as I should've used my twenties: As someone who wants to write books for a living. Novel concept right?

But honestly. Six years ago when I started at my current job, I was under the illusion that what happened to Amanda Hocking would happen to me. Haha! I was so cute and naive when I was 25.

The last year or so, I've tried really hard to understand what it means to be an independent or self-published author. How you have to put your best work out there, not just the crappy first draft that you were just relieved to finish. That editors want to help you and not hinder you. That the entire business of getting word out rests on your shoulders.

I keep waffling between wanting to find a real publisher and sharing profits, or doing everything myself (or hiring it out), and getting to keep more of my hard earned money. But if I do that, will I still have time for writing? Therein lies the real question.

Do I want to attempt to find a publisher (I've got a list of small publishing companies I could pitch to), and risk rejection from a small number of people? Or do I want to self-publish, create my own brand, risk losing valuable writing time, but keep more profit?


If I wanted to be honest with myself, I'd rather make more money (You haven't seen my student loans. Hoo-boy!). I'm extremely cautious about showing my writing to some people, because I was scarred from it during college (no one in my department liked it, it seemed, but everyone outside my department loved it. WTF?).

However, this past year of soul searching, I've discovered a couple different writing communities that have opened my eyes not only to the vast array of writers and their stories out there, but that people want to read what I have to write.

Last night, I was taking part in #StorySocial on Twitter, and we were talking about character relationships. I talked about one of my current WIP (Works in Progress), about a woman coming into her story in the middle of a beautiful relationship. It managed to pique the interest of several other members of the group. I've never gotten that kind of feedback from a group of writers before. It made me think, I can really do this.


So, despite the month being shorter for me, due to my vacation at the end of the month, and I cut myself off from technology during vacations, I really want to finish both manuscripts. I want to get them both published in the next year. I want to make a go of this crazy writing life that I've desired since I was nine years old.

That's why I haven't been hanging out here for awhile. I've been working on my books. And I hope when they are published, you'll do me the honor of reading them.


  • What are your September goals?
  • Anything fun coming up?
  • What are you writing? Reading?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Free Money! 3 Tips For Giving Plasma

Today, I wanted to talk to you about giving Plasma. Plasma is the liquid part of your blood that carries your blood cells all around your body. When you give plasma, they use it to make medication, and it also helps patients who have experienced trauma, have bleeding disorders, and more. I started giving Plasma back in 2007 when gas prices were upwards of $4 a gallon in Missouri, where I was living and needed all the extra money I could get. At the time, I got about $40/donation, but now I give through OctaPharma here in CB, with different pricing (It varies based on your weight).

It hasn't always been easy, though. A few years ago, I was unable to keep giving, and I couldn't figure out why. When I went back to try to raise money for an upcoming vacation the first few times I tried, my protein levels were either too low or at the bare minimum, so I thought I'd share some tips that help.

1. Three hours before you go, start eating something with protein. 

I usually give in the morning, so I make sure to eat two large eggs (12g of protein), and then as I'm driving out, I'll drink a protein shake. Doing this, my levels have been steady, and I've had no issues. Remember to also eat protein consistently on your off days, too. It's just good nutrition. I've also noticed that if I add spinach, my hematocrit levels are perfect. You have to be at 38 to give, and mine is usually on the lower side. I've also started taking an iron supplement, which helps.


2. HYDRATE

Storytime! Back in 2011, before we went on our first Disney Cruise, I had been giving plasma to get souvenir money. The week before I left, I didn't hydrate well enough, and when they were returning my blood cells to my body, my veins weren't plump enough to get the blood back through the vein, and I ended up with a huge bruise on my arm. I wasn't able to give again until the bruise went away. When you're hydrated, your veins have extra water to push your blood through, and accept the blood cells back.


3. Bring a stress ball

If you've ever given blood, they usually give you a stress ball to squeeze to help your blood pump out. I'd taken to squeezing my hand in a consistent, medium speed. I can actually feel the vein popping out (Are you getting squeamish yet?). I've found that if I squeeze my hand too quickly, it doesn't come out as fast, and it makes the machine beep. When I do it slower, the lights on the machine stay green, the phlebotomists don't have to keep checking on you, and you're out quicker. At a baseball game a few weeks back, a company gave my mom a stress bathtub, which she gave me to use when giving plasma. It works so much better than just squeezing my hand.



These are the tips that work best for me. There's probably a lot of trial and error, and you should find what works best for you, but I hope these tips can give you a jumping off point for your own plasma journey. It's completely worthwhile and helpful if needles don't bother you, and a good way to make some extra money. I'm able to pay off my next cruise, and extra bills. If you're paying down debt, it's a great option for only a couple hours of your time per week.

Visit octapharmaplasma.com for more information, and donation centers. I'm not affiliated, aside from being a patron, but I think helping the medical community is a worthy cause. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I Promise I Haven't Abandoned You

Time flies when you're busy doing other things, doesn't it? The blog hasn't really been at the front of my mind lately, because things have been pretty busy.

My last post, back in March, was about writing. I'm still working on finding some freelance work, but it's harder than I anticipated. I think confidence has a lot to do with that. But at the start of April, I focused all of my writing energy toward Camp NaNoWriMo, and I won! My novel still isn't done, but it's pretty darn close. I'm currently tying up loose ends, and think it'd be amazing if I could send it to a couple indie publishers before Christmas.



I also completed Camp NaNoWriMo in July for another book, which I'm focusing on now. Plus, I just got an idea for another story that I might attempt for regular NaNoWriMo

I'm working on some backstory for a couple other books, and learning more about Scrivener. I'm falling in love with Scrivener. I think I can count it as a big reason I was able to write so much of my novel.

I haven't been keeping up with Built By Beks much, either, but I did restart WW, and am doing pretty well with it. I'm working on a morning exercise habit, and I'm starting to notice my new healthy habits are starting to pay off with better sleep and looser clothes. Win!


I've moved to a new client at work. I was pretty sad when they said they wanted to move me, but then I found out that my client was going away, and I felt relieved that they had a place for me first. And apparently some nice things were said about me in the process, which was awesome. I love finding out that the work I do is appreciated.

I've joined a Book Club. Back in September, my library forgave all library fines, which had been what kept me from going there (they added up REALLY quickly back in the day!), so I renewed my card, and have been exploring all of the community activities they offer from craft classes to Book Club. The first book I read with them was The Night Circus, which was amazing. We've also read Boneshaker (It was just meh), Ready Player One (Pretty good), The Heroines (Avoid at ALL COSTS), Station Eleven (Pretty good), and for next week, we're reading The Mists of Avalon. I've seen the miniseries, but I'm having trouble getting into the book.


So, that's pretty much what I've been up to.


  • What have you been doing this summer?
  • Ready for Back to School?

Monday, March 14, 2016

How I Finally Got Started in Freelance Writing


For the longest time, I thought the only way I could be happy writing was if I was writing Fiction. Novels, Screenplays, Short Stories, I wanted to write outlandish stories about people and eventually have the audience of Danielle Steel (That woman has a million books!).

It's amazing how things are so much different in life than they are in your imagination. Looking back at an old list of goals, I was supposed to have been at this year's Oscars. Considering I didn't even WATCH the Oscars this year, it's funny how things actually work out.

When I was in college, I was trying to figure out how to make a living blogging so I could quit my job at HyVee. I was extremely miserable, broke, and ready to take the next step in my life and career. 

My first stop was at one of those Examiner-type websites that you put in what you could write about, and they were *supposed* to find you work, if you passed muster. I didn't have any samples of my writing, except my papers for school, so I found my best ones and submitted them. I got a robotic "Thanks, but no thanks" email from the company within a day.

I had no idea about pitching to companies. I didn't know what I was doing, and with that, I decided to just accept a job at a call center (which turned out to be one of my favorite companies to work for. Loved them!), and continued with school, writing my fiction, and dreaming about the day I could be a writer.

One of the nice things about working in the call center, especially in 2009/10 when I started working nights, I had a LOT of time during the off-season (I took orders for textbooks) to read, write, and practice my craft. I all but forgot about freelance writing during that time, resting back on my desire to write fiction.

With the advent of Pinterest, I discovered different blogs sharing their own knowledge of how to start "Side-hustling" and Freelancing part time. Many even went on to make tens of thousands of dollars per month. Enough that they were able to quit their jobs, and write full time, anywhere they wanted. This appeals to me on so many levels, from the introvert to the girl who wants to work in her pajamas, or make her way to Starbucks to do some writing. It just seems like a fun idea to get to choose where, when, and how often you work. 

That's pretty much why I started this blog back in 2012. I wanted a place to write, where people might see it, and I'd be able to get some writing samples up. It took me a long time to figure out the kind of blogging I wanted to do, though. I originally wanted it to be a blog about writing, but I still feel like I know next to nothing, especially in regards to characterization, plot, theme, all those things that people tell you are important in storytelling. 

In my Pinning frenzies, I discovered the story of Gina Horkey, a mother of twins who started freelancing, and within a year was making $4,000/month. You see these headlines, and can't help but gape and go "How can I do that, too?!" Seriously. It's what I did. I gaped. I asked, "How can I do that, too?"

Luckily for me, Gina has a course on her blog, The Horkey Handbook, all about setting up your freelance writing business. She offers three different tiers for different levels, from very basic (The Starter Package), to pushing the limit (The Growth Package), to I NEED TO DO THIS OR I'LL DIE!!!!!! (Okay, maybe not DIE, but if you have the biggest passion, you'll want the biggest program, right? That one is called The Rockstar Package).

I opted for the Growth Package, deciding that it had everything I needed (and there are options to get the rest later if you want).

The course is an email course that you can set your own pace too. I finished it in three days and marked off everything I'd already done, which was kind of fun. I started searching job boards for potential places to work, and while I've yet to actually get responses from people who PAY (at least to the point of them offering me work), I will be writing for The Daily Megaphone, a blog on filmmaking, and Dig Omaha, an online magazine for people in the Omaha area. Neither pays, but at this point, I like the fact that I'll have samples of my work in places other than on MJA. 

I'm not giving up on finding paying work. I know it's out there, and since pitching is a numbers game, it'll come, eventually. Hopefully sooner rather than later, but it will come. I'm positive it will. If nothing else, I now know what having a freelance writing business takes, and I'm excited to get myself there. 

I'll be sure to do monthly updates to let you know how things are going. I'm really excited about this new venture!


This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a percentage.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Weekend Overview: Why I DIDN'T Watch The 2016 Oscars


I have to preface this by saying that I have been watching the Oscars on TV every year since 1998 when Titanic was the big winner.

The last several years the show has been abysmal. It's been, boring, the jokes have been pretty flat, and the only thing I enjoyed was the heartfelt acceptance by all the winners.

Okay, not entirely true. Last year, after JK Simmons won Best Supporting Actor, and Neil Patrick Harris sang the Farmers Insurance jingle with "He won an Oscar. Bom ba dom bom bom bom bom." My family and I still sing this when we see him on TV.

Comedy gold.

Source

Anyway, this year, when the nominees came out, I didn't think much of it. Certainly not of their race. Half these people I didn't know. I didn't see any of the nominees for the "Big" awards, just smaller ones for costumes, animation, and effects (Cinderella, Inside Out, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens). With all of the controversy surrounding #OscarsSoWhite, and Chris Rock hosting, I just didn't really have any desire to watch. I didn't enjoy Chris Rock last time he hosted, and I'm sure I wouldn't have this time.

The state of relations in America is worse than ever. Personally, I don't know what to do about it, but I think that cutting news stories to fit a narrative (both sides are guilty of this) isn't the answer, and compassion is. Unfortunately, no one knows what compassion is anymore.

The Oscars used to be the creme de la creme of acting awards, showcasing artistry and innovation. I believe in certain awards, like costuming, music, and effects, they do still showcase this. But the big six, Picture, Actor/Actress, Supporting Actor/Actress, and Director seem to be polarizing, and not necessarily the best job done.

I never really watched any other awards show, but I think watching The People's Choice and The Golden Globes would be a decent start, as the People's Choice are based on the viewers, and are movies people have actually seen, and the Golden Globes, which I always referred to as the Pre-Oscars, is a lot less stuffy and a lot more fun (See Amy Poehler and Tina Fey's hosting).

Source
(Basically Lauren and I)
When I was a kid, winning an Oscar was my dream. I went to the Donna Reed museum in Dennison, Iowa during the Donna Reed Festival in 2000, and saw hers in person, which only pushed the desire. In the last several years, with everyone in Hollywood getting on their soap box, and pushing a political agenda during their acceptance speeches, I'm not entirely certain I want to be in that group anymore.

I did catch the awards for Best Actress, Actor, and Picture. Brie Larson's speech was refreshing and genuine. She thanked everyone who took part in making a project she was proud of, and her friends and family who supported her. Leonardo DiCaprio had to make a political plea to the masses, which lost me.

It'll be interesting to see the ratings for the show. If there were a lot of people who boycotted because it was #SoWhite as they say, or because they're like me, and they like their drama to stay in the movies, and not in the real world.

  • Did you watch? 
  • Did you boycott?
  • What did you think of the show or the controversy?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Keeping Your Pet Healthy With Primal Treats (Sponsored Post)



I love my pets. They are my babies, and they make my heart feel light. I can't imagine ever being without a pet of some kind (preferably a furball).

My favorite would have to be my dog, Charmin. Charm was born in 1996, the youngest pup of my sister's dog, Rosie. Charm was my best friend, and I could never bring myself to imagine life without her.

Charm with two of her siblings.
One Sunday evening in 2010 my mom called me, sobbing, and told me that Charmie was sick. My dad and sister took her to the vet to see what was what, but she was suffering from Gastric Torsion, which is when the stomach fills with air and flips, cutting off circulation to her lower extremities. It happens without warning, and sometimes can be fixed with surgery, but Charmin's age and current physical health made it impossible (her lower spine looked like it had fused itself together). She probably never would've woken up from the surgery.


In the days that followed, I did as much research on Gastric Torsion that I could. I found out that it was a disorder that usually affects bigger dogs, and it's usually caused by diet.

Frisket is thirteen and a half, almost fourteen years old. He's definitely slowing down, but he can still be the rambunctious little pup that he used to be. Feeding natural, whole foods without fillers are always going to be best.

Turkey Liver Munchies by Primal Treats are just that. They're freeze dried, no added salt, sugar, or preservatives. Plus, they're for dogs and cats. Frisket loves them. Jane's not too sure about them, but she's finicky.

Frisket is mad about them, though. He can't seem to get enough, so it's probably good that we don't keep them where the other cats can reach them. Henry and Frisket seem to be in cahoots, where Henry tosses stuff from counters onto the floor for Frisket.

Charmie would've turned twenty this year if big dogs lived that long. I still miss her, and I sometimes wonder if I could've saved her, but thanks to the research I've done because of her, I think I can prevent it happening in another dog. At least, I hope so.

This post has been sponsored by Chewy.com. They provided the product in return for my honest review. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

When the Writing Gets Hard: 3 Ways to Refresh

It's been my goal this year (so far) to write a lot more than I did in 2015. Don't get me wrong. I did write a decent amount in 2015, even winning at Camp NaNoWriMo in July, but that story still isn't finished, and I've started other stories since that time.

Probably not a good thing to do when all I want to do is publish several books, and make a living from my writing.

Add to that, this month I've been battling a nasty cold and sore throat. It's absolute misery, and nothing sounds good, except watching TV and eating an excess of junk food. I did manage to get a decent amount of writing done when I stayed home from church with a fever, but fevered writing can sometimes be a bit jenky. Or absolutely brilliant. I'll let you know when I'm back in my right mind.

So what's a person to do when the "Muse" is being fickle, and not helping you do your job?

1. Sometimes, you have to kick her to the curb and write anyway.

When I was in college, one of my teachers told us that sometimes writing will suck. You will type out absolute garbage, but in a way, you're clearing the garbage out of your head to make room for the good stuff. Besides, first drafts aren't supposed to be good. They're supposed to be blueprints.


A few years ago, I had a story on this website, which is now defunct, Five Sprockets, that I wrote whenever I just had to clear my head. It was trite, annoying, probably took a little too liberally from where I wish my life was, but it helped me to get into a zone so I could transition into a story I preferred working on. That story eventually became Sugar & Spies, which is currently in the process of rewrites (and holy frijoles, does it suck!).

2. Get out.

Do it. Go out. Get out of your home, bedroom, office, wherever it is that you write, just leave. Try someplace new. 

My sister and I take sister dates, occasionally. We used to go to this coffee shop in Omaha, Legends, which is also a Comic Book store. We're super geeky, and enjoy looking at collectibles for sale, while also settling down to write. We're there with our headphones, our coffee, and Pandora, and just the change of scenery helps a lot.

I'm planning to test out my local library as a place to write very soon. But last time I was there, someone let their kids run and scream through the place. Not so quiet anymore, I guess? (And yes. I'm totally shaming people who let their kids scream in a library. Deal with it).

But if you're suffering from some kind of block, sometimes switching things up helps. It might be difficult, even in winter (especially in the Midwest, where we seem to be getting a blizzard every other week, which is really starting to annoy the hell out of me and my sinuses).


Go for a walk, go to the gym, go shopping, go to a museum, go to the zoo. Just get out, and get some air. Being cooped up does not help the artistic process. If you're in the Omaha Metro Area, the Joslyn Art Museum permanent exhibit is free, and they have some amazing pieces. They even have a Jackson Pollock! Art usually gets the juices flowing.

I also recommend finding a new book to read. Reading helps my writing more than not reading ever did. Comparing my manuscripts from when I've been reading a lot to when I've been watching a lot of TV, the difference is astounding.



3. Take some time off.

Yes, this contradicts the first two on the list, but hear me out. Sometimes, I will go for days without writing, because it is physically impossible for me to put words out into the universe. I know that sometimes, you just want to be hard on yourself, and like I said, write through it, but sometimes, it's physically impossible, and that is OKAY. Sometimes, you just need a break. Give yourself a day or two, but don't take too much time off. It's hard to get started again once you've stopped (like going to the gym.


Nine times out of ten, these tips really help me to decompress and get right back to writing. Sometimes, it's all the push you need.

  • How do you push past periods of hard writing?

Friday, February 12, 2016

5 Netflix Offerings to Watch on Galentine's Day.

In the past, I haven't tried to hide my distaste for February. Truly. Despite the fact that it's my dad's and best friend's birthday month, this isn't the best month for me.

Then, Parks & Recreation came around with the idea of "Galentine's Day." Galentine's Day is February 13, and is a day set aside to celebrate your best Gal Pals. My best Gal Pals are spread across the country, so I can't see them all at the same time.

Source

Starting last year, my sister and I celebrated with getting Marvel-themed Build-a-Bears (I made a Captain America dog, she got Toothless, the dragon from How to Train Your Dragon, and put him in Avengers pajamas). Afterward we went to Olive Garden for dinner (and they gave us ALL of our food at once. That was weird).

Anyway, I was thinking about how to celebrate this year (Kiri and I are planning on seeing Deadpool), but what I loved doing most in college with my girlfriends was watching movies. I thought I would list five things to watch on Netflix to watch with your Gal Pals. Make a night of it. Order pizza, drink wine, and have fun!

Parks & Recreation "Galentine's Day"

You can't experience Galentine's Day without seeing the episode that started it all! In this episode, Leslie treats her best friends to breakfast (the most amazing meal of the day!), and gifts. For her mother's gift, though, she tries to set her up with a lost love, who turns out to be insane. It's pretty epic. 




For a Good Time, Call...

FYI, this movie is rated R for sex and language. This is the story of two women who become unlikely roommates, and in the process of starting their own business, go from enemies to best friends. This is one I'd watch with Lauren (and all of our Stephens friends, actually). It's funny and quirky, and highly inappropriate. Seriously, unless you're over 17, and like raunch comedy, don't watch it.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

This is another quirky movie that puts to unlikely characters together. Yes, it's a man and a woman, but I think when it comes down to it, if the world were ending, I'd want to be with the people I love the most. My family AND my best friends. It's fun.  


Source


You're Not You

This film is about a concert pianist (Hilary Swank) who gets Lou Gehrig's disease, and while losing both her ability to care for herself, and also losing her husband, she befriends her ne'er-do-well caretaker (Emmy Rossum), who helps her enjoy her last few months. It's very sweet. Plus, it's about a classical musician, which is close to my heart. 

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Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2

Again, this one is rated R, but for violence. It's Quentin Tarantino, who loves his blood and guts. And while it might seem to be a bit odd watching a Revenge movie on a day celebrating Girlfriends, but before all hell broke loose, these women were close. It reminds you that you should keep your friends close (and your enemies closer). I would also watch this with my friend, Kaity, who introduced me to Quentin Tarantino (I still don't understand Resevoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction). 
So, those are my Netflix Picks for Galentine's Day! What movies or TV show episodes would you add to the list?


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Netflix Pick: 5 Romance Movies You Need to Watch

When I was a kid, I never thought I'd be a romance movie fan, but like a lot in my life, the big change happened when I was nine, when I saw Little Women for the first time (If you've been following me for any length of time, you know that my life seems to center around this film).

Just for fun, I thought I'd share my favorite Netflix Romance movies. Sometimes, when you're looking for a good romance, it's hard to know where to look. If you get too far down into the Bowels of Netflix, as I call it, you can either find a diamond, or nothing but utter crap. Unfortunately, the crap outweighs the diamonds, much like in life.

Without further ado.

The Decoy Bride

I know. I just wrote about it on Monday, but this film, starring David Tennant, Kelly MacDonald, and Alice Eve is one of my absolute favorites, ever.

In Case You Missed it, the long and short of it is that Alice Eve is Lara Tyler, film superstar who just wants to privately marry her boyfriend, James (David Tennant), a writer of a terribly long book about the Isle of Hegg, a fictional island in Scotland. When a famed paparazzo, Marco Bellani, invades their wedding, Lara's publicist, Steve, sneaks them away to the Isle of Hegg, where Katie lives, for a remote wedding with just the two of them. Upon discovering that their location has been sold to the press, and Lara has disappeared upon finding Bellani while on a hike, Steve hires Katie to pose as Lara in a wedding dress and heavy veil, to fool the press (and James).




Katie (MacDonald) is extremely likable and has the best lines ("I'm kryptonite to men. Kryptonite dipped in cellulite"). Her chemistry with David Tennant is the cutest thing on Netflix, honestly. And Lara is such a likable character that you root for her, too, despite wanting Katie and James to end up together.

Plus, it has blessed us with this gif:



TiMER

I don't know what I was doing when I found this gem of a movie, but it's been like six years since I first saw it, and it just hits me in the feels every time.

In a world where your DNA can tell you down to the day when you'll meet your soulmate, 20-something Oona has been waiting a long time. A company installs a timer into your wrist to count it down, provided your soul mate also has one. Oona and her stepsister, Steph, both fear and revere the Timer. It's what brought their parents together, and created their perfect family. Oona's TiMER hasn't lit up despite having had it since she was a teenager, and Steph won't meet her soulmate until she is middle-aged. The two have completely separate life philosophies, and after finding out their younger brother will meet his soulmate in a week, Oona throws caution to the wind and goes for a one-night stand with grocery checker, Mikey, who flirted with her early in the story. When Oona starts to really fall for Mikey, she starts to wonder if the Timer system could be wrong.


This movie really makes you think about the way the world ticks when it comes to love and relationships. Do soul mates exist? Is love something that is biological or is it a choice you make every single day. The ending is also open to interpretation, which is just like life.

In Your Eyes

Anyone who knows me knows that I greatly admire Joss Whedon as a writer. He's got the ability to pull on your heartstrings and make you cry in the corner for weeks (Still crying over Tara on Buffy, and it's been over ten years).

He wrote this lovely story about two people who are somehow psychically linked, and in the process of getting to know each other, make each other better, and fall in love.

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I love the movies that might not necessarily get a full-blown marketing treatment. It's sad, but sometimes, those movies that come around quietly and aren't pretentious in their intentions are the absolute best.

If I Stay

I'd heard about this one for awhile. I have a teenage cousin, and I'm sure she probably read it and told me about it. Or, maybe I just saw the trailer somewhere. When I found it on Netflix, I knew I had to watch it. I actually related to the musically inclined protagonist, though I'm not as great a musician as she is. 


This film isn't just about a young woman making a choice to not wake up from a coma, it's about her choice in staying close to home to be near her boyfriend, or following her dream to go to Julliard. We need to figure out what matters most to us, but there are always repercussions to any choice we make.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

You know I had to include this one, right? It's relatively new to the Netflix family, and while I was super jazzed to see it, I was disappointed at where the film ended. There are two different endings: One ends when Darcy and Lizzy ask permission to marry. The American version ends with Darcy and Lizzy at Pemberley. This one ends with them asking permission (The British Version), which, unless you're prepared for that, it comes as a shock. Or, at least, it did to me. 

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People do have very strong opinions about which version is best, and while story-wise, I think nothing can beat the 1995 version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, this version is just gorgeous. The music, cinematography, costumes, everything is beautiful.


  • Hit me! What movies do YOU love on Netflix that I should add to my list?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Why "The Decoy Bride" is the Movie to Watch this Valentine's Day

I'm in love with Romantic Comedies. With a blog called The Modern Jane Austen, you'd expect me to love them, and you'd be right. I love and like comedy. Whenever I'm feeling a bit down, and I'm not sure what to watch, this movie hits me in the feels and makes me laugh really hard.

Have you seen The Decoy Bride starring David Tennant and Kelly MacDonald? If you haven't you're missing out on the best RomCom on Netflix. Want to know why?


David Tennant is absolutely adorkable.

Seriously. As a massive Whovian, I'll watch anything David Tennant is in (though, Jessica Jones might have scarred me for life). Plus, this movie gave us David Tennant doing this:


But he plays writer, James Arber, who is engaged to famous actress, Lara Tyler (Alice Eve), and they just want to have a private wedding ceremony, so they travel to the remote Scottish island of Hegg, which is the location for James' premier (and verbose) novel.


Kelly MacDonald is the heart broken single chick everyone relates to at one point or another.

Kelly MacDonald plays Katie who returns to her hometown to nurse her broken heart. She also arrives just in time to see the wedding of the last single man on the island, Angus, who had been carrying a torch for Katie and finally gave up.


But after returning home, she's at the point where we all are most of the time: ready to focus on nothing but bettering ourselves, because obviously nothing better is going to come along. Right? I know I'm pretty convinced that I'm not alluring to men. ;-)


It's written by Shazzer (Sally Phillips) from Bridget Jones' Diary.

Yeah. The same character who dropped lots of F bombs in Bridget Jones wrote and co-stars in this fun movie as the assistant to Lara's agent, Steve. 


Poor woman needs a vacation and a raise, but since she essentially is assisting the man who is running a Starlet's life, she doesn't get a break. 

Personally, I love it when writers take small parts in their own movies. Maybe it's a desire to do it myself, one day. ;-)

Katie's mom has the best bucket list, even if she goes about it the wrong way.

Katie's mom runs the local bed and breakfast, and is very sick. She can no longer walk, and believes that it's her fate to travel the world and be thrown into a volcano, to her death. She's a bit morbid, but she definitely has Katie's best interests at heart throughout the film. 


She even goes about blackmail to get what she wants. She's not perfect, but she knows what she wants.

Lara is a surprisingly relatable character, despite being the hottest actress in Hollywood.

When I first saw the logline to this movie on Netflix, I expected Lara Tyler to be an unlikable Diva, but she's absolutely not. She's kind and considerate, as well as talented and beautiful. I really wanted to hate her (so I could easily root for Katie and James), but I really liked her. She's sweet. You really want her to have the privacy she desires for her wedding, even when a group of paparazzi shows up on the island. She can deal. She even knows how to disguise herself to look old with basic cosmetics.


If you loved Michael Urie in Ugly Betty, you'll adore him in this. 

He's got some of the best lines in the whole movie. He's shrill, bossy, manipulative, judgemental, and doing the best he can for his client. You just kind of love to hate him. It's pretty great.


Katie is an awkward but lovable heroine. 

Despite being down and out, Katie is open to trying new things, even if she doesn't think they'll work. She goes back to working at a local bookstore, and at her boss's suggestion, she writes a guidebook to the island. This is suggested after stocking several copies of James Arber's book, The Ornithologist's Wife, which is not as accurate as the citizens of Hegg would want. 

She also tries to talk herself up, even if it comes out as the most awkward thing in the world. We empathize with her embarrassment. After meeting the first new man to come to Hegg in generations, she gives him this:


She's also not afraid to stand up for herself, her family, or her precious island. No one can make fun of it, except her. Don't we all feel that way about our hometowns?

If you have Netflix, I highly recommend this amazing movie. It's just fun, sweet, and absolutely hilarious. Plus, we could all use more David Tennant in our lives, since Doctor Who is no longer on Netflix. 


  • What movies on Netflix do you think I should watch?
  • Have you see The Decoy Bride? What did you think?
**Post contains affiliate links

Thursday, February 4, 2016

On Writing: My Thoughts on Scrivener

I've been writing stories since I was nine years old. I started on the family computer using a really old version of Word (which was probably relatively new in 1994) and tried to write wherever I was, whenever I could. I would come home from school, and write until bed time (Homework be damned. Whoops), and do it all again the next day.


I was actually watching this movie, Ruby Sparks last weekend, starring Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan, who also wrote it. Dano plays a writer who actually writes Ruby (Kazan) into existence. What I found interesting was the he wrote on a typewriter. In the age of computers, writing on typewriters seems wasteful, and like it's making your life a lot more difficult.

I've tried several different writing programs, all on my computers, ranging from Open Office (Like Word, but free), Five Sprockets (Now defunct, sadly), Google Docs, and then this summer after winning Camp NaNoWriMo, I was able to get Scrivener at a discount.

I've spent the last couple months just playing with the different functions, starting different stories and screenplays (It has a screenplay function!!!!), and attempting to write using the index card method. I've never used index cards before, as I always considered myself a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants), but within the last year or so, I started to realize that while pantsing it might be exciting, it resulted in uneven storytelling, lots of plotholes, frustration from writer's block.

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)
Click Picture to purchase Windows
What's great (though tedious) is that you can upload stories you've already written into Scrivener. With my plans to rewrite my first book, I uploaded it to take a look at the different scenes and see what will work, what does, what needs to be changed, and who can forget how much I hated the original ending?

I'm very optimistic that I can use this software to keep me organized in the long run. I'm not an organized person, by nature. Using the index cards, you can rearrange anything by dropping and dragging.

It also helps you keep track of characters, places, how they look, you can drag and drop inspiration pictures. It's all great. I love it!

Buy Scrivener 2 for Mac OS X (Regular Licence)
Click Picture to purchase Mac OS
A lot of writers are turning to methods like Scrivener to keep everything in one place, and I think I'm just another one in a long line. But it's also got versions for logging, you can download different templates to help you plan our your writing (I've found several on Pinterest). I'm pumped to try them for some of my stories (Like my Betsy Banks Mystery Series).
  • What programs do you like to use to write your stories?
  • Do you use Scrivener? How do you like it?
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a percentage.

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