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Jane Austen’s birthday: Bringing changes to VJA in 2012

16 Dec

Happy birthday, Jane!

There are dozens of blogs and websites celebrating Jane today, which is a powerful thing. Think about all of the topics, guest posts, and online games occurring because of her and her impact. This and events from the past few weeks have helped me to re-think what this site should be in 2012.

The spinoff author interviews were relatively popular on VJA, but most importantly, they’re not what I want to host on here.  I may do one every now and then, but they won’t be the main focus any longer. I’ve really enjoyed them, and I hope you have, too.

But now it’s time to try something new and bring the conversation back!

I started thinking about what I like most about Jane and her world, and it’s her books. I like reading them, and I like highlighting the portions relevant to me at the time. It amazes me how new aspects jump out each time I read them.

For me, it’s all about her books. To be honest, I don’t like many spinoffs, and I don’t care to watch many of the movies. They’re excellent, and I highly support and appreciate the creative minds who make them happen, but I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to Jane. Her own words speak to me the most.

So what does that have to do with VJA and 2012?

I’m embarking on an adventure to read all of her novels again next year — shooting for one novel every two months. On VJA, I’ll regularly post comments and invite discussion. I realize that plenty of blogs host book discussions throughout the year, but I want to see if we can take it a bit further on VJA.

Rather than being just a blog about what’s going on in the world of Jane Austen today, VJA will reflect my own ideas in an attempt to uncover life’s truths in her novels. Instead of a hobby that I regularly update (but sometimes neglect), I’m really going to create a goal to post here on schedule and invite you to help me achieve it along the way. As I explore this aspect of Jane’s world with more excitement and passion, you’ll be able to tell. It’ll make for a much better read.

So here’s to you, Jane. A bit different than the post you’ll find on other blogs today, but I think that’s what I’m aiming for. My gift to her is the simple appreciation of her works and how much they continue to impact our lives. I plan to delve into them and investigate the characters, situations, and words we have grown to love.

Want to celebrate her in this way as well? Join me! I’ll create another post soon with a tentative schedule, discussion topics, and other ideas. Do you have any recommendations for me? Which book should I read first? Is there a particular topic I should emphasize throughout the year? Do you want to be one of my regulars?

Newest addition: Vicariously Jane Austen store! (dedicated to Cinta Garcia de la Rosa)

1 Dec

I am beside myself with joy. The day just gets better and better.

Earlier in the day, I saw a cute photo that one of my closest Austenite friends (Cinta Garcia de la Rosa, Austenite78 on Twitter) posted on Facebook of new Austen pajamas that she ordered. They say “Mrs. Darcy,” which is the best idea.

That, in turn, sparked me to start my own VJA store. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile but didn’t know if anyone would buy from it. Then I realized I was looking for Jane Austen items for my roommate for Christmas and thought, “Well, duh.” I decided to create the store and add items once I got home from work.

After I drove home, I decided to check the mail, and what do I find but wonderful presents from Cinta!! She told me that she was playing Santa, but I figured it would be a Christmas card, not two super nice journals and a Jane Austen Christmas card!

Jane Austen Christmas card

Jane Austen Christmas card

Inside, she wrote some very nice notes, too. I stared at both in amazement for about five minutes while sitting on my couch and marveled at the bond that Jane can create — across the ocean!

Jane Austen journal

A Jane Austen journal!

inside Jane Austen journal

inside the Jane Austen journal

 

Did I mention that this was my first overseas package? So special!

stamps from Cinta

I felt so inspired that I cooked dinner and sat down to my computer to start my shop on CafePress. I looked at all 1,93o Jane Austen items on CafePress and various other Jane Austen gift shops to make sure I was thinking up some unique and funny products.

Then I wrote (in one of my new journals) almost 50 ideas that I have for Jane Austen items. I created a few for now, but expect to see many, many more in coming days! Feel free to suggest some ideas if you have any, and maybe CafePress will allow me to do discounts for Christmas. I just started it, so I’m still figuring it all out, but I can’t wait to hear what you think.

Thanks for all of the support, and I hope you enjoy!

VJA successes and some updates

29 Nov

Austenites!

I haven’t written a post in awhile to thank you for all of your fabulous support. Vicariously Jane Austen regularly draws more than 100 views per day, with some as high as 172 or 188. Many of the posts pull in dozens of Facebook and Tweet shares, and I regularly receive mail about the site. Thank you so much.

Can you believe that I initially doubted the success of the site or my ability to keep it going? As a journalist, I fully believe in updating content daily, but it has been a huge job for me to cover while maintaining a full-time job and other tasks.

But don’t worry, VJA isn’t going anywhere. I’m having tons of fun posting the interviews and other topics. Speaking of which, to make the site more accessible, I changed around the navigation bar a bit this weekend. As you can see, now all of the past VJA interviews are available on one page, and I’ll add more about Austen and her books soon. I also created a tab for the Austen fantasy team so players can find each post. I’ll create additional sections in the future as the site expands.

For ongoing posts, I pledge to bring back the fun Twitter questions and the mini Jane series that features the figurine I have. I fell behind a bit as Thanksgiving approached, but I’m ready to bring those back as we roll into December.

As I explained in my last post, I’m going to extend my National Novel Writing Month success by working on another book in December. This time, I’ll create a nonfiction one, more of a “how to” book called “31 Days to become a Jane Austen super fan.” I’ve started drafting ideas about what it means to be an Austenite, how Austen changes lives and how everyone can find their own Mr. Darcy.

I think I’ll have fun writing interactive chapters. I’ll post a few here and there in December, but I think I’ll ultimately debut the book in January once I complete it. It’s going to take a good bit of work, but I tend to write well on deadline pressure and support.

What do you think about the book? Post ideas below, and I’ll dedicate a chapter to you! I may even contact a few of you for quotes, sound good?

End of NaNoWriMo 2011 and plans for the future

29 Nov

So I did it! I won!

I’m sitting at 50,006 words now with my National Novel Writing Month quota. I realized Sunday night that the end of the month fell in the middle of the week and that I wouldn’t likely meet my goal if I didn’t tackle it then. I hadn’t written anything since my 12,000 dash the Sunday before, thanks to preparing for Thanksgiving weekend and then partaking in Thanksgiving with family.

But I cranked it out — about 15,000 words. I rounded out the end of the story and then moved back to the rising action, where I knew I had the most trouble. I added several scenes and found ways to link my previous ideas together. I’m feeling good about the way the story flows, and I hate it less than I did last week. Plus, it gave me a few ideas for two other novels that I plan to write in the coming months, which I consider a success in itself. First novels are hardly an outright success, but it’s about the writing habits and ideas that get you there. This one certainly needs a good bit of editing, but whose doesn’t after 50,000 words of forced writing?

I might return to it in a few months. It often helps to leave a piece of work alone for a bit and then go back to it with fresh eyes. With my journalism mentality, you knock an assignment out in one sitting and then turn it in. With this new mentality, you let the words roll around in your mind and you go back and take out a word here and add in a word there. I’ll get to that point.

For now, I want to keep the momentum going. If I was able to crank out 50,000 words without much change in my daily schedule, then I should be able to keep it up. If I want to take on freelance writing or novel writing as a career, this is often the way people do it — on the nights and weekends after a job that pays the bills.

So here we go. Here’s my pact. I’m going to write another book during December. I think I’m going to tackle a nonfiction subject this time to give the creative muscles a bit of a break and work on my journalism muscles once more. I miss them.

Anyone else in it with me? Once again, I’m going for quota, but I’ll be focusing on quantity more as well. The project idea? A “how to” book called “31 Days to become a Jane Austen super fan.” I think I’ll have fun writing interactive chapters about what it means to be a fan, and I’ve learned a good bit about Austenites in just the past few months that I’ve had this site rolling.

Speaking of, check out the next post for what I have in mind in regards to this site. Yay for two months at this domain, still going strong!

What’s your biggest dream? (May not be Austen-related)

29 Oct

Janeites,

It’s a Saturday, and I’m feeling dreamy. I often set my sights high on the weekend and begin to think about all of the lovely things I want to accomplish in my lifetime. Especially since I changed jobs a few months ago, I’m more adventurous than ever. You don’t realize what it takes to quit a job until you do it.

This post is unrelated to Austen topics, but I want to get to know you as a person, not just a Janeite. However, one of my goals is to write an Austenesque novel, so I can slip that one in and still safely put this post on this site 😀

Post your dreams below, and let’s have fun. Who knows, maybe we can trade dreams and learn from each other! Many of my dreams are skills-related (such as learn how to surf), so perhaps we can begin making connections in other parts of our lives and grow that relationship as well.

—-

Here’s a short list, in no particular order:

1. Find a Mr. Darcy of my own

2. Write a few books, at least one which is Austenesque

3. Learn how to surf

4. Learn how to play the drums

5. Find a way to freelance/become an entrepreneur

6. Become a better craft-creator

7. Learn several languages decently, especially Arabic, Spanish, French, Italian, German

8. Learn some bartending skills (or at least create a few signature cocktails)

9. Travel the world

10. Develop a couple of successful blogs, especially Vicariously Jane Austen

—-

From Twitter:

 

SalonJaneAusten Oct 29, 7:06am via Echofon

@VicariouslyJane Travel, be awesome with the loved ones XD…be creative and all related to that!

 

ih8tweet Oct 29, 10:07am via Twitter for BlackBerry®

@VicariouslyJane One of my biggest dreams is to write a full-length novel.

 

Nancy_Kelley Oct 29, 9:12pm via HootSuite

@VicariouslyJane Publishing my first book–due out within the next 3 weeks. Then, I will move to England.

—-

Do any of your dreams match up with mine? Share them below!

 

 

First Austen fantasy week: Pick your players

29 Oct

Alright Austenites,

It’s time to put your team in.

On Sunday, I’ll post the first scenario, and we’ll get the games rolling.

Today, I need everyone to post the team members who will play. Pick 5 of your 10 and post them below. That way, when I put up the first scene on Sunday, you can’t cheat and put in the ones that will earn you points 😀

I hope the word gets out quickly, so here we go! When I publish the scenes, I’ll also include the point system as a reminder. You’re playing for a leather-bound copy of Austen’s works, which I will buy and ship during the week of Christmas!

See you again Sunday. I’m quite excited.

— Carolyn

Also – We have 14 teams! That’s pretty exciting. If you haven’t joined yet but are reading this post and want to join, you still have time! Post your team below.

—-

Update: I forgot to put any instructions about leading lady/supporting lady, etc. If you’d like to repost your players, you can do that, but if not, that’s fine. The main idea is that I will choose a  variety of characters for the scene, so may get more points if you post a variety of characters, but we’ll see how it goes! I’m making this up as I go along, too.

Always let me know if you have any questions, and I’m looking forward to it!

VJA still growing! And encouragement from friends …

26 Oct

I wanted to write a quick post to thank everyone for the growing support! The site consistently draws 100 people each day, and yesterday we had a record 150. That’s incredible when you think about the small amount of time the Vicariously Jane Austen site has actually been live. For half of that time, it didn’t look very good, and I’m still working on the widgets and features.

So, thank you, everyone. Sincerely.

I also wanted to spotlight this fantastic post from Twitter today. It’s amazing how one person and one message can brighten your day. Remember how I was down earlier? I was feeling conflicted about my job, my future and how I’m handling this website.

Now it feels completely worth it:

JaneAustenLIVES 7:06pm via Web

@VicariouslyJane I absolutely love your Austen tweets and website Carolyn #TrueJaneite

—-

I’m amazed to have, as she said, #TrueJaneite friends like you! If I had the money, I would jump on a plane and write blog posts about Janeites around the world. Wouldn’t that be fun? That’s the dream for now. Until I have the money to make it happen, I excited to get to know you better on the blog, Twitter and other sites.

Vicariously Jane Austen interview schedule packed with big names in coming weeks

25 Oct

Get excited! VJA is welcoming some big names in Austendom as Halloween approaches.

I started organizing a post schedule for the next few weeks and thought it would be fun to share so everyone knows what’s coming up next! I’m posting new ones each Monday, Wednesday, Friday. On the other days, I’m looking to post fun and quirky ideas, so feel free to send me some!

Tell me what you think and leave some suggestions for who you’d like to hear from next.

Upcoming interview schedule

Oct. 26: Nancy Kelley, IndieJane.org
Oct. 28: Maya Slater, The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy
Oct. 31: Amanda Grange, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre and Mr. Darcy’s Diary
Nov. 2: Brenna Aubrey, winner of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It contest and author of the Broken Oaths saga
Nov. 4: Laurie Viera Rigler, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict
Nov. 7: Laurel Ann Nattress, Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Nov. 9: Janet Mullany, Jane and the Damned and Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion (plus a giveaway!)
Nov. 11: Alexandra Potter, Me and Mr. Darcy (with a new book coming soon!)

I also have seven more interviews set up, so stay tuned! I’ll let you know when those will run when I receive the responses.

Another new VJA idea: The Austenite Locator Project

23 Oct

Also starting this week, I want to get all of our Austen fans on a map. I set up a Flickr account and added myself to the map. Let’s find all of the Austenites in the world!

It may be a tall order, but it would be fun to see everyone and where they are. How cool is it to know that you’re talking to Austenites around the world?

Get started with me! Fill out the info on the Austenite Locator Project page and send a picture of yourself or your Austen book to me! My e-mail is crist.carolyn @ gmail.com

More design updates

21 Oct Construction-Company-Logos

Hello everyone,

The last design template didn’t do exactly what I wanted, so I’m trying this next one with some fun rotating images and whatnot. It’s giving me a few problems (not letting me load my own images or header), but the content is definitely still here. I promise to keep working on it this weekend.

So sorry for all of the inconveniences.

Carolyn