Summer fun with Jane Austen

If you can’t get enough of Jane Austen on your own, at home, re-reading her novels and watching all those film and TV adaptations, help is just around the corner. It’s the Jane Austen Summer Program! Here are the deets, straight from the official press release:

“Mansfield Park & Its Afterlives”
June 16 to 19, 2016
Hosted by the University of North Carolina, CH and JASNA-NC img_8241-0

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — This summer, more than 100 people, including Austen fans, established scholars, graduate students, K-12 teachers, and aspiring authors, will have the opportunity to hear expert speakers and participate in discussion groups on Austen’s most controversial novel, Mansfield Park. Attendees will also partake in an English tea, dance at a Regency-style ball, join in a Regency-themed pub crawl, and visit special exhibits tailored to the conference.  (more…)

What I’m Reading: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Who would have thought that the powerhouse creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and The Catch was an introvert? How could someone who “owns Thursdays” become so overcome with fear at the thought of giving a commencement speech at Dartmouth, her alma mater, or being a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live, that her strongest impulse is to say no?

Except that she doesn’t say no. After years of giving into extreme shyness and its attendant fears of public exposure and ridicule, after years of saying no to everything that would make an introvert shudder, Shonda Rhimes forces herself to say yes. That journey is the essence of her book YEAR OF YESyear-of-yes-9781476777092_lg

With humor, generosity, and tremendous relatability, the author reveals the extent of her terror and how she blasted through it.  I am loving this book, which I’m listening to on audiobook, beautifully narrated by the author herself.

Here’s a clip of Shonda Rhimes on the Stephen Colbert show.

I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of the book. As someone who spent her childhood as an extremely shy person (and still sometimes fights those tendencies), I highly recommend YEAR OF YES to anyone who wants to break the cycle of “no” and step outside of their comfort zone.

Writing at a Standing Desk? Brilliant.

I used to think of ‘writing at a standing desk’ as an oxymoron–can’t be done. And didn’t article after article talk about how despite how good for you standing desks are, writing is best done sitting down? Well, I’m happy to say that I was wrong. I have gone from raising a skeptical eyebrow at the ‘standing desk craze’ to full-on convert.

Why do I LOVE writing at my standing desk?

  • It’s energized my writing routine. I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally vibrant as I stand at my desk and write.
  • I’ve always thought of writing fiction as something akin to acting, and somehow standing enables me to connect on a more physical level with what the characters are feeling and doing than when I’m sitting slumped in my chair. Yeah, I tend to slump when sitting. Which leads me to the next point.
  • My posture is better when I’m standing and writing than when I’m sitting and writing.
  • I am more focused when standing than I am when sitting.
  • I have more clarity about both big picture and details when I’m standing than when I’m sitting.
  • Standing helps me remember to do the ‘power pose’ from that famous TED talk by Amy Cuddy. And that’s always great for my writing.

This is my ReadyDesk standing desk converter, which sits on top of my regular desk. It comes with two shelves that you can move around till you find the perfect height. I also bought an extra shelf:
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What I’m Reading: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

I’ve decided that the definition of “unputdownable” in the OED should now be “11/22/63 by Stephen King.” I have lost sleep and work time racing through yet savoring every word of this masterfully written time-travel, what-if, alternate-reality tale of a man who travels back through a time-warp/rabbit hole in the back of a diner that lands him in 1958, where he must spend the next five years planning how to thwart the assassination of JFK. On the way, there is more of the past to tamper with, survive, and fall in love with–especially because it is where he meets his soulmate. But nothing is ever easy when it comes to changing the past, no sir. The past will do anything it can to stay put. “The obdurate past,” as King puts it. Indeed.

The past is also “harmonic,” according to 11/22/63. In fact, the act of reading 11/22/63 seems to generate its own harmonies, for as I entered the last third of the novel, an ad for the event series based on the work caught my eye on the Hulu home screen. Now I won’t have to feel as sad as I usually would do upon turning the last page of such an enthralling, mind-expanding read. I’ll have eight episodes to look forward to. Am hoping they do this brilliant work justice.

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