Category Archives: Robin Helm

What are you reading now?

I’ve posted about the books of my childhood, the books of my teen years, and the books which influenced me. Obviously, I love books!

You do, too, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

So tell me: What are you reading right now?

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My daughter Melanie gave me a set of books for Mother’s Day last year, but real life was keeping me too busy to read anything not on my phone. I read while I wait in doctors’ offices or lines, and I don’t want to carry around paperbacks.

I saw them on a side table yesterday and decided that I’d like to know why these books had captivated her enough that she would spend the money to buy them (in paperback!) and mail them to me.

So far, I have to agree with her. They’re attention-grabbing time sinks. The writing style is different, but I like it. The characters are interesting – not just rewrites of Katniss and Peeta, Bella and Edward, or Tris and Four. Great covers, too!

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It’s Dystopian Young Adult, so if that isn’t your “thing,” skip on by. Remember, I’m the reader who loved the Divergent series, The Hunger Games, and The Twilight Saga. Like those books, this is a series. She gave me the next two as well: Unravel Me and Ignite Me.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know if these grab my attention and hold it or not. I’m not worried about whether or not there are erotic scenes, because my daughter would not read or recommend books that portray graphic sex. Romance? Yes, she would like that.

So, what are you reading now? We at Jane Started It want to know.

 

Understanding Elizabeth

Book Release!

understanding-elizabeth-3dMore and more, I understand Anne Bradstreet’s poem, “The Author to Her Book,” written nearly 350 years ago. The first line, “Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,” just about sums up how I felt when I touched the publish button Tuesday night.

A good writer always reveals a part of herself when she writes, and that’s a bit intimidating. In the case of Understanding Elizabeth, there are clues about my childhood and teen years.

I have never been very good at sports or physical games. I should clarify that I was actually hit in the forehead by a fly ball while holding my glove over my face trying to catch it. I was a teenager playing in a church softball game, and I had the attention of our entire small town at the time. Embarrassing? Yes. It knocked me flat on my back, and I think I passed out for a minute or two. Or maybe I just didn’t want to get up and face the crowd.

A similar incident, in which I was hit in my jaw by a ball straight off the bat, happened in elementary school. I was so humiliated that I stuck my finger down my throat so I could pretend to be sick and go home. It worked. I was a tricky little person.

However, I never had any problems with the three R’s, and I loved that aspect of school. I shared in a previous post that my sister Gayle (a natural-born teacher if there ever was one) taught me to read when I was four. She also taught me to play chess. Since I don’t remember when I couldn’t play, I have no idea how old I was.

I was lousy at basketball, softball, or anything else with “ball” in it, but I loved word games and games of strategy. Playing musical instruments came fairly easily as well, because I enjoyed practicing. My entire family was musical. Gayle and I played piano and flute, Layne played clarinet, and all of us (six children!) sang along with Mama and Daddy.

I incorporated that feeling of joy at being good at something into Understanding Elizabeth. My Elizabeth doesn’t ride a horse, though there’s a lovely scene in which Darcy teaches her (le sigh!), but she’s a chess master. She isn’t shy about it, either. They fall in love over books and chess.

Darcy is socially awkward, but he excels in academic and physical pursuits. He’s a man who can discuss favorite books with the heroine. (My husband read all of Jane Austen’s works so he could understand what my daughters and I were talking about. He’s watched the film versions several times, too. Yes, ladies, there really are men like that.)

These are two capable, intelligent people who recognize their strengths and their weaknesses.

I have no problem with knowing your strong points as long as you also know your limitations. To me, that isn’t being proud; it’s giving yourself realistic goals. It’s okay to feel a sense of accomplishment. It’s fine to be happy with yourself, as long as you don’t settle for less that what you can do.

I hope you enjoy reading Understanding Elizabeth as much as I enjoyed writing it. This book is very different from my six previous books. I will be very interested in your feedback.

 

 

Writing Revolution

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

I’m in the very final stage of publishing my newest book, Understanding Elizabeth. Because it’s my seventh indie publishing effort, some steps are easier for me, but others have become more complicated.

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My earliest writing (the Guardian Trilogy) consisted of outlining the basic plot, writing the chapters, sending my work to my betas, taking their corrections, posting on Beyond Austen (as well as Derbyshire Writer’s Guild, Darcy & Lizzy, Fanfiction, and Austen Underground), formatting, one final edit, and publishing.

I now understand that it is much easier to format as I write, so that isn’t the huge headache it used to be, but I have become much pickier (real word?) about my writing.

I rushed to publish my first six books, but with this latest one, I have taken six months between completing the writing of the story and publishing it. In addition to all the steps listed above (minus posting on all those forums except Beyond Austen), I have gone through six edits and rewrites. I finished the final rewrite yesterday, and I’m nearly ready to release my child to make her way in the world.

Today, I hope to put the book in the print template so I’ll have a page count for the cover designer. I also want to finish the formatting of the ebook version and send it to my very talented friend, author Wendi Sotis. She’s a wizard at all things tech, and she has the final look at my formatting.

With a little luck, I may publish the ebook Saturday. 

Exciting times!

 

We’ve had the wildest winter I can remember. In Portland, Oregon, the winters are usually drippy and overcast. However, this year’s winter has been cold and snowy. It has produced some great photographs.

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This is a photograph of crows sitting in snowy trees in downtown Portland, Oregon. The photograph was taken by C.S.I. Walker Berg of the Portland Oregon Police Bureau. This was his view from the Justice Center’s 12th floor.  Portland has enough of a crow problem that they have begun to employ falconers to move block-by-block, hunting the black birds.

It looks like the crows are settled in for the night, though and any hawks will just have to wait for morning.

The police department shared the image dubbed “Crows on Snow” on Facebook and Twitter where it quickly went viral.

My first thought was “Wow,” and then I thought:

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From the sublime to the ridiculous in one easy jump.

A Happy Vote? This time, yes.

Photo: Ze've Barkan (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: Ze’ve Barkan (Creative Commons Flickr)

For there are two really wonderful choices. How’s that for great?

Our own Robin Helm is about to release a new novel, and she’d like your help deciding.

She has two beautiful covers for her book Understanding Elizabeth. Which one do you like best?

jj1813-logoCome over to Just Jane 1813 and cast your vote. I won’t steal Claudine’s thunder by posting the images here. Nor will I tell you about the “cover girl” who is Robin’s Elizabeth Bennet. So exciting!

What are you waiting for? Click the link and vote!

Snowed In

booksWhatever shall we do?

What can we do when we’re stuck at home in a winter storm (other than housecleaning – ugh!)? Read, of course!

I’ve told you about books I love that you probably wouldn’t guess I’d like. I’ve written about my childhood reads. Now – ta da! – here are some of my favorite teen reads:

A Tale of Two Cities

Les Miserables

The Count of Monte Cristo

Pride and Prejudice (right?)

Emma

Persuasion

Northanger Abbey

Adam Bede

Silas Marner

Fahrenheit 451

Animal Farm

Jane Eyre

Rebecca

All of Victoria Holt’s books

booksI’ll grant you that Dickens is an acquired taste, and Les Miserables, Adam Bede, and Silas Marner are downers, but it takes all sorts of vegetables to make a good stew.

Victoria Holt is not deep or hard to understand. Those books are clean, Gothic romance. So many governesses falling in love with the Lords of the Manor! Just the thing to stimulate a teen girl’s imagination without delving into dirt. Both my daughters read each of them.

All of these titles, with the exception of the Holt books, have been made into films, and Les Miserables is a Broadway hit. The musical scores for “Les Miserables” and “Phantom of the Opera” are brilliant and memorable.

So, if you don’t want to take down the Christmas tree yet, read one of these books or watch the movie adaptations.

Happy reading!

Goals

Never Give Up

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During these last days of 2016, I have been evaluating my progress towards my goals for the year.

I did lose forty pounds, and I’ve kept the weight off during the holidays. That’s a large check. Yay, me!

However, I wanted to publish two books, and I have yet to publish even one. Yes, I finished writing Understanding Elizabeth, but I’m in the editing process.

Just as the verses say, it’s time for me to forget what I have not achieved and focus on my goal: to publish the book. Dwelling on my failure will only bog me down and defeat me.

Instead, I need to look ahead. Eyes forward. A new year is coming.

I will pass that finish line soon. In fact, I already have an idea for the book that will follow Understanding Elizabeth.

As soon as I hit the publish button on KDP, I will start writing and posting Mr. Darcy’s Dog Tale on BeyondAusten.com.

Happy 2017 to all of you! What are your goals for the new year? If you have no target, you won’t hit it.