Literary Excursion: Oh the Anticipation!

Ever since I was a teenager, my dream has been to travel abroad to Europe and bask in the literary history of Keats, Austen, Shakespeare, Dickens, etc. Well, that was many years ago. One thing led to another and my dream kept getting put aside. That is, until now.

My oldest daughter graduates next year with a degree in communications. She has inherited the writing gene and like me, wants to travel as well. So as a graduation gift to her, and a long awaited gift to myself, we are planning to take a trip together when she completes her last semester.

We have been scoping out websites to organize the most fulfilling trip we could have. My daughter sent me the following link from “lonely planet,” http://www.lonelyplanet.com/great-britain/travel-tips-and-articles/77625, which lists places and towns Jane Austen used in her novels. Needless to say, I am giddy with excitement.

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(Photo of Peak District by Shaun Dunphy)

I know thousands of these trips are taken every year, but this is my first time traveling abroad to places I’ve always wanted to visit. In fact, my ultimate dream is to reside in a little cottage somewhere in the English countryside.

So now that we have the Jane Austen portion of our trip sorted out, next it’s adding Keats, Shakespeare, etc.

How about you? Have you done any traveling which encompassed visiting places of literary greats? If so, what was your favorite? If not, where would you like to go? Feel free to post a picture of your excursion.

Happy Traveling!

Christine Maria Jahn

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Blog-less Blogger

Okay, I have written about blogging once before…quite some time ago in fact. And when I typed my first blog I promised myself I would blog each week. I vowed to my family and friends that I would be diligent in the creation of a weekly journal entry to the masses. Unfortunately, I did not keep that promise.

Oh, I made sure to not hold myself accountable. I had no time because of work, unexpected events, writing my debut novel, blah, blah, blah. What was frustrating to me was that even though I wanted to blog, my creativity began and ended with my novel. Well, that first novel has since been published. So I gave myself a pep talk, sat down at my computer, placed my fingers on the keys, and…NOTHING.

How could this be? How could I have endless ideas for not one, not two, not even three novels, but 4 novels, yet I could not find the words to type one blog entry each week?

I read other blogs by authors who seem to have words flowing endlessly. Some of them blog at least three times a week. Yet here I sit, week after week, month after month, and my blog archive contains less than five posts. It’s shameful. Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing. I’m a writer. I should not have this problem.

So after talking with my oldest daughter, and also a coworker, I am determined once again to turn myself into a blogger. I have been advised that the best bloggers have an organized plan on what days they post and what those posts will be about. With that in mind, I am holding myself accountable to post a writer related article on Wednesdays and something inspirational on Sundays.

There’s an old cliché that states “the third time’s a charm.” That’s see if I can live up to the challenge. If not, I will comfort myself with some Oreos and a cold glass of milk before attempting this mysterious world of blogging a fourth time. And if I succeed, then I will celebrate with those same Oreos and cold glass of milk. 😀

Oh the Fun That is NaNoWriMo

November 1, 2012 – National Novel Writing Month has begun. And all I have is the title of my story, while others have written anywhere from 2000 to over 4000 words on this first day. I can’t seem to concentrate and it’s driving me insane!

I have been busy arranging a book give away and signing event for my newly published novel, Saving Alessandra. I have been ferociously attacking my second WIP, In the Presence of Emileigh, which is the sequel to Saving Alessandra. Over 100 pages have been written, waiting impatiently for me to continue its journey. But now, it’s time for NaNoWriMo.

It’s a craziness writers of all ages around the world love to embark upon, yet dread at the same time. Why? Because it challenges you in so many ways. Ways that if you have never done it before, will leave you exhausted physically, emotionally, and mentally. It’s a battle of wits between keeping your fingers to the keyboard, and the inner editor of your brain desperate to edit in shut off mode. Which happens to be my dilemma.

I am a consummate editor when I write. I have yet to master what other writers have told me to do. TURN THE EDITOR IN YOU OFF! It is quite difficult to do. However, I have motivation that will hopefully get me through the next 30 days. I want to complete my sequel to Saving Alessandra without fail. Preferably by the end of December. It is a major goal I have set for myself, I know. In fact, it is so outrageous I will be writing it simultaneously with the story for NaNoWriMo. Which will also be an installment to Saving Alessandra. Impossible? I don’t think so. A little loony? You betcha. But it’s what I need to do. And with a lot of prayers, it may just be the ticket to getting rid of that infernal editor inside of me.

So as this first day of NaNoWriMo begins to wind down, a multitude of people have completed their writing goals for the day; while I still need to create one sentence. At least my writing buddies will see that I posted a title for my story. That’s kind of a start. Isn’t it?

Happy writing everyone!

Christine Maria Jahn

The Path to Indie Publishing

Have you ever wanted something so badly, but had no patience to wait to get it? No patience to see whatever it was you wanted to happen come to fruition? Or perhaps you felt the thing you wanted would be better done yourself instead of allowing someone else to do it. Well, I guess you can say I am guilty of all the above.
My debut novel has been a long time in the making, years, in fact; from the first thought to the final word written. It wasn’t a continuous writing journey. There were several lapses of non-writing time due to the extensive traveling I did for work. But then everything settled down and I once again had free time to put pen to paper.
And because I had invested so much of my time into writing the story, it became my fourth child. I nurtured it and took pride as I completed each chapter. Then this past June, my novel was done. A decision had to be made. A BIG decision. Do I write a query letter and a synopsis and send them to every publishing house I can locate?  Or do I research the self-publishing route, which is now called Indie Publishing.
My novel had all my emotions wrapped up into, as well as time. I was scared of what changes I would have to make, if, by the Grace of God, my manuscript was accepted by a publisher or agent. I’ve read articles upon articles throughout the years of edits an author has to do until the novel meets everyone’s satisfaction. I’ve also read that the turnaround time is long. Mighty long. My impatient inner-self did not like the sound of waiting for an acceptance. Would I give up after receiving the first rejection letter? Would I have an anxiety attack? Would a rejection destroy my motivation to write other books (I am currently working on my second novel and have a third one part way done as well)?
So then I thought about Indie Publishing. I signed up for free brochures, which also included my inbox getting slammed by several companies who said they can help me…for a cost. The fees were staggering. There was no way I could afford thousands of dollars up front. Then I heard about CreateSpace, a division of Amazon. I must say I was very impressed. No up-front fees (unless you want them to do the formatting, the editing, etc). I read the community site posts and many seemed pleased with their experience.
After much thought, I decided to give CreateSpace a try. It has been quite an adventure, to say the least. I had received a proof (there is a cost, but only a few dollars, pending the size of your book). I also received a digital proof, which I read through and compared against the hard copy. I made notes on the pages where changes needed to be made, edited, then re-edited, then reviewed the entire manuscript again, reformatted the file, re-read the manuscript, etc. Having a daughter who is a literature/journalism major was a huge help. I know I drove her crazy.
Now I await the arrival of the second proof. If all is well, then my debut novel, SAVING ALESSANDRA, will soon be released.
I have learned much the past few months and couldn’t be happier with using Indie Publishing via CreateSpace for my first novel. Will I do it again? Absolutely. Does it replace my dream of signing a contract with a major publisher someday? Not at all. But for now, Indie Publishing was the right choice for me.
So how about you? Would you considerate Indie Publishing?

Christine Maria Jahn

A Rose by Any Other Name

Hello Readers,

In doing some research for my novel, I came across a book called The Language of Flowers by Kate Greenaway. It was originally published in 1884 with a reprint done in 1978, which is the edition I have obtained. The book is only 62 pages but contains some of the prettiest illustrations. The focus of the book is obviously, well, flowers, and their meanings.

Speaking with flowers was a form of communication between the genders, especially when courting or flirting. Of course we send each other flowers for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, Valentine’s day, etc; but do we really put thought into what the flowers mean that we are giving our loved ones? I never did. I mean, if the flower was pretty then guess what, I bought it. Not so in the 1800s. Careful consideration and attention was given before a flower was chosen.

Nowadays, roses are given because we believe they’re a symbol of love. However, there are so many varieties of roses that it’s possible we are giving a type of rose that means something entirely the opposite of the endearment we wish to convey.

For example, according to Greenaway’s The Language of Flowers, a deep red rose means “bashful shame,” while the Japanese rose means “beauty is your only attraction.” Quite insulting when you think about it, isn’t it?

There is a brief clip below from one of my favorite films that helps demonstrate the sincere thought that gentlemen put into choosing flowers. In Kate and Leopold, Hugh Jackman stars as a 19th century duke who gets transported accidentally to modern day New York. For those of you who have never seen the movie, there is a scene in which Leopold (Hugh Jackman) assists a young man avoid a major faux pas regarding the type of flower he wishes to have delivered to a girl he admires.

So the next time you want to send flowers to that special someone, do some research on what you plan to put in that bouquet before it’s delivered. Unless, of course, you have your very own time traveling English duke to help you. Seriously, what girl would not love flowers picked out by the likes of Hugh Jackman?

Happy Flower Sending!

Christine Maria Jahn