Category Archives: Good news

A Very Austen Christmas

Book Launch Tomorrow!

A Very Austen Christmas - 3DIn early June, Laura and I broached the idea of an anthology to include all the authors of Jane Started It, along with our lovely friend, JAFF author Wendi Sotis. Susan Kaye, Pamela Aiden, and Gayle Mills originally intended to be a part of the project, but real life threw several hitches in their plans. Laura Hile, Barbara Cornthwaite, Wendi Sotis, and I kept the dream alive.

Tomorrow, that dream will be realized with the book launch of A Very Austen Christmas, hosted by Claudine Pepe at JustJane1813.  We are very much looking forward to reading Claudine’s review (our first one!), as well as chatting with our readers.

The kindle version is already available for pre-order (to be delivered tomorrow) on Amazon, and the print copy is live, though they are not yet linked together.

Does this sound tempting, lovely readers?

Four favorite authors, four heartwarming stories set in Jane Austen’s Regency world.

Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite revisit Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Mansfield Park to deliver the uplifting holiday storytelling you’re looking for.

Her Christmas Gift by Robin Helm
Elizabeth Bennet finds herself snowbound at Rosings with two rejected, but highly eligible, suitors. Does either man have a chance? Will her childhood friend, Meryton’s golden boy, win her affection, or will she accept the master of Pemberley? Perhaps she will refuse them both a second time. Her Christmas Gift deftly combines tension and emotion with humor and romance.

The Christmas Matchmaker by Laura Hile
It’s raining; it’s pouring – and what could be better than a little Christmas matchmaking? So says Emma Woodhouse who is unexpectedly stranded at Netherfield Park. Mr. Darcy disagrees, for she has someone else in mind for adorable Elizabeth Bennet. Amid meddling, misunderstanding, and an unwelcome proposal or two, will True Love find a way?

No Better Gift by Wendi Sotis
On his way to Derbyshire to spend Christmas with his family, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy plans to retrieve an item he left behind during his rushed escape from Netherfield—and the country miss who touched his heart. Finding Meryton practically deserted, he fears the worst. What fate could have fallen upon this once-thriving village in only three weeks? More importantly, was Miss Elizabeth Bennet in danger?

Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey by Barbara Cornthwaite
When Edmund Bertram realizes that Fanny is the perfect wife for him, he wants to propose without delay. What better time than at Christmas? Ah, but the course of true love never does run smooth …

A Very Austen Christmas - jpeg

The stories are arranged according to length. Mine is really a novella of 30K words, and Laura’s is 24K words. We have decided that we can’t write short stories (insert laugh). Wendi’s is 17K words and Barbara’s is 7K words. Curl up in your PJs with a mug of hot cocoa and enjoy the writing of four friends with quite different styles and story lines.

We hope that Sue, Pamela, and Gayle will be able to join us in our next anthology. (Yes, I just said next anthology!)

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Death, where is your victory?

The Resurrection of Christ by Rembrandt (Matthew 28:2)

“He is risen.”
“He is risen indeed.”

This ancient greeting, passed from one follower of Jesus to another on Easter morning, says it all. Death is a defeated foe. God’s word is trustworthy. His promises are true. And as believers in Jesus, we have a future and a hope.

Here at Jane Started It, this Easter brings a personal reminder of victory over death.

Since July, it has been our privilege to pray for our own Gayle Mills, as she underwent treatment for colon cancer.

The prognosis was chilling, truly. And yet God was with Gayle every step of the way. Along with her family, friends, and coworkers, we prayed, and our Gayle bravely walked through the dark days of chemo and radiation.

Bit by bit, the cancer was beaten back. In March, Gayle felt well enough to return to teaching, retreating to her cot during prep periods. And at the beginning of this month,  Gayle makes this announcement:

I am officially in remission and cancer free. God has been so good to me. Thanks for every prayer you’ve offered on my behalf. Thanks for your encouragement and support.

Needless to say, we are rejoicing over what God has done for Gayle and her family.

Thank you, sincerely, for your prayers on her behalf. May your Easter be a blessed one.

They’re watching us.

In the Spotlight

I’m a natural born nerdy geek, which is why my profession chose me. I’m a teacher. I’ve always been one, even when I was in school. Few other things give me the amount of satisfaction I receive when I see a student’s eyes light up with understanding. To see my students implement what I’ve taught them is a joy to me.

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Important elements of teaching include encouraging the students not to give up, impressing on them not to settle for less than what they can achieve, and showing them that they can do far more than they think they can. I tell about my failures in order to show them how the failures contribute to the successes.

Author Spotlight

One of my goals in teaching is to produce more effective teachers, though not necessarily in classrooms. Parents, friends, and co-workers are teachers, too, though some do more harm than good. In fact, I am not everyone’s favorite person. Ha! I’m not usually their favorite teacher, either. I can be a hard taskmaster.

Imagine my surprise Monday when I walked into school and was met by excited students and teachers directing me to the “Authors in the Spotlight” wall put up by the fourth graders. I was truly amazed that two of the eighteen students in that class had chosen me and featured my books. I was in exalted company: Dahl, Riordan, O’Connor, Morgan, Park, and others.

I’ve taught these children for five years. They know I’ve published seven books because I’ve donated my books to school auctions, and I’ve shown the students my Amazon page. I wanted them to know they could publish and control their own work.

I was very happy to be featured, and I was truly glad that I have always written clean fiction. There is nothing there I would be embarrassed about my students reading, though my books aren’t children’s books. Just another reason to keep my material PG and PG-13.

The children are always watching.

Praise for the Yours By Design series

my-top-5-modern-ppKudos to our own Robin Helm. Her Yours By Design series made Of Pens and Pages’ Top 5 List. Hooray!

“I loved reading the entire series,” says Nissa, “and each book was quite the page-turner.”

We agree! Autumn’s crisp evenings and shorter days usher in perfect reading weather. Why not curl up with Robin’s books?

GIVEAWAY ALERT! Nissa is offering the entire series to one lucky winner! Here is your chance to enjoy Robin’s novels as e-books. Visit  Of Pens and Pages  for details.

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The Faith of Children

The past couple of weeks have been quite hectic, but the last two days were downright frantic. Seven of my fifth grade students at Discovery School auditioned for, and were chosen to be in, the Lancaster County Children’s Honor Chorus. They practiced Monday night and Tuesday and performed Tuesday night, along with about one hundred thirty other fifth graders in the district.

The program opened with “The Star Spangled Banner” and continued as they performed “Rain Dance,” “I Am A Small Part of the World,” “The Not So Boring Minuet,” “Come Celebrate,” and “We’ve Got Music.”

The final piece was “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” It was a fitting end – a prayer, if you will – to the concert. I watched their faces and thought of all that they could accomplish toward that goal. Every child on that stage believed that peace is possible.

Lancaster County Honor Children's Chorus

Lancaster County Honor Children’s Chorus

I didn’t mean to blur the picture, but it worked out well. Since their faces are indistinct, I can post it.

https://www.facebook.com/robin.helm.372 (This link will direct you to my Facebook page. A parent of one of the students posted a video of the children singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” on my wall.)

Perhaps I am too old; I’ve seen too much of the world. Seeing it through their eyes gives me hope. As I listen to the drums of war, I pray that this generation will do what mine could not.

The Prayer of a Young Girl

Katherine_HeiglSorry I’m late posting. Real life reared it’s ugly head. Speaking of real life, I saw an article about Katherine Heigl who as a young teen she prayed that God would give her big boobs.

Now, to me, big boobs are usually high-ranking, elected officials but for our purposes I’ll go with Ms. Heigl’s.

After many cease their laughing at such nonsense, secure in the knowledge that there is no God, and that even if there is, there are far more pressing issues. While it’s true this old world groans under the weight of human events, my belief is that He’s infinite and may do as He chooses in individual cases.

I’ve never personally prayed for such enhancements. When I was young, I was all about the “thigh gap.” I  actually had one back then. I don’t anymore so it’s probably a good thing I was young in the 70s and not now. I have heard that the thigh gap was a thing last year, but not this year. It figures that I am once again behind the fashion curve.

Anyway, I thought how this confession would probably touch a lot of young women. I’m sure even young, flat-chested atheists have hoped a deity would hear and answer their prayers. After all, if suddenly things did shift a bit, they wouldn’t have to tell anyone about the prayer and could merely revel in filling out.

So, no matter in who or what you may or may not believe, I have composed a prayer I think will do.

My tiny boobies** make me weep.
So as I lay me down to sleep,
Give me big ones in their stead,
So my prom I will not dread.

Obviously I am a prose writer.

Have you ever prayed for something you later thought was a little out there? Just put it in the comments box. No one ever reads this thing, it’ll be just between us.

**I really dislike this word, but I am a showoff and wanted more to write the poem than to avoid using certain wording. Ego you know.

Help Us Help You Help Us

writing infographicAre you laughing yet? You should be. The title is a blatant attempt to get you to read this post, but there certainly more to it that that.

According to Psychology Today, “Neuroscientists have discovered that reading a novel can improve brain function on a variety of levels,” and, “researchers found that becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. Interestingly, reading fiction was found to improve the reader’s ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and flex the imagination in a way that is similar to the visualization of a muscle memory in sports.” The article further states that passive activities, such as watching television, don’t help people to visualize. The work is done for the viewer, and he merely watches the action.

Athletic reading. I like it. That’s my kind of a workout.

Smart people read, and reading actually makes them smarter. Take that big word “Neuroscientists,” I already knew what that meant. Impressive, huh?

Are you ready for another fun fact? The Daily Infographic says that “writing can serve as a calming, meditative tool. Stream of conscious writing exercises, in particular, have been identified as helpful stress coping methods. Keeping a journal, for example, or trying out free-writing exercises, can drastically reduce your levels of stress.”
Austen variations

Stay with me here. Conclusion: Reading our books will benefit you in several ways, and it will encourage us to write more books for you to read. Writing those books will help us to reduce our stress levels, leading to longer, happier lives. You can feel good about taking some time for yourself, because you’ll know that you are being a true humanitarian, ministering to others.

And love will be showered all around. God bless us every one.