Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Free Short Story - Cancellation Notice

One of my favorite authors, Jennifer Becton (Charlotte Collins), has a new novel coming out this summer called Absolutely Liability. It is the first in the Southern Fraud Series, a six book series of thrillers set (you guessed it!) in the south.

If there is one thing I like better than Austenesque sequels it's mysteries. I really, secretly and desperately, want to be a sexy, smart-talking, quick on her feet girl-detective, but enough about me . . .

Jennifer has a free short story from the Southern Fraud thriller series up on her site. It is called Cancellation Notice and you should totally go there now and read it! And if you want to be total sweetheart, let her know if you love it (cause of course you will) and that I sent you!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Newest Tangled Janeites Twitter Date!

What are the Tangled Janeites? We are group of Jane Austen fans who also happen to be Disney fans - we discovered each other on Twitter, and quite honestly, we are pretty cool.

We've scheduled our third Disney movie watching date (previously we have viewed Tangled and Beauty and the Beast), for Sunday, June 5th at 9 EST. We will be watching Cinderella together (in our respective locations) and tweeting live through the movie! Want to join us? I promise it is tons of fun! All you have to do is tweet with the #TangledJaneites hashtag, and follow that same hashtag to play along.

There's always at least one really awkwardly funny "damn you autocorrect" moment provided by one of our iPhone tweeter - last time it was me, ahem.


Thank you all so much for entering my Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day giveaway!

To win the bunting and the 2 yards of fabric Mr. Random has chosen :

The lucky comment was left by Deborah in Atlanta.

Congratulations Deborah, I've sent you an email!

Again, thank you all so much for entering my giveaway!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day!

Hello to all of you who are visiting for the Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day! My name is Jessica, and this blog is about sewing, writing, being a mom, and trying to live as like a Narnian as I can in my little corner of the world. Recently it has been a little bit more about writing than sewing because I am working on my debut novel, Awake: A Sleeping Beauty Story, which is due out in February. I know you have a lot of blogs to visit and giveaways to enter so let's get right to it!

For one lucky winner I have two (2) great prizes.

First up a handmade prize:

It's Spring! (It's really almost Summer, but it snowed here two weeks ago, so I'm sticking with Spring!) And nothing says Spring and happiness like bunting! I have this sweet little bunting made from 1930s fabrics. Adorable! I wasn't sure I loved these reproduction fabrics, but in this bunting they are totally cute, and I am going to have to make another one for myself!

The bunting itself is 56 inches long, with another 12 inches of bias tape on each side for hanging.

And secondly a supplies prize:

In this case fabric! Cause we all love fabric!

I have a yard of this lovely springy/summer print with fun daisies called "He Loves Me" by Jackie Robinson for Maywood Studios:

To add some more sunny splash a yard of this gorgeous yellow called "Gather Sunshine" by Nancy Odom for P&B Textiles. Gathering Sunshine sounds great to me because it is pouring rain here . . . this picture doesn't do the color justice, if the sun come out at all tomorrow I will attempt to get a better shot of this pretty yellow!

So that is two (2) full yards of fabric. Here they are together, oooohh pretty!

So, what do you have to do to enter?

Just leave a comment! I know you are probably cruising through hundreds of blogs entering these lovely giveaways so I won't ask you to be clever (although please feel free to be clever if you really want), you can tell me your summer plans, or the title of your favorite book, or just say "pick me, pick me!" Just please, please, please make sure I have a way to contact you . . . if you are a no-reply blogger (in other words, your email isn't listed on your public blogger profile) then please leave me your email address in your comment! Thanks!

If you would like a second entry follow my blog, and let me know in a comment that you did (or already do)!

I do hope that you will come back and visit after the giveaways are over! Also, if you haven't already make sure you check out all of the other giveaways on Sew, Mama, Sew!

The fine print:
This giveaway is open until 9 pm MST on 05/25/11.
I will ship internationally, so please everyone feel free to enter!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Same, Same, 50k

It's really hard for me to write at home. I either have a toddler hanging on me (or they are doing something nefarious or climbing random furniture), or if for some reason the kids are asleep we usually have a baseball game on, or I am like, you know, falling over dead on my feet asleep.

So what I usually do is sneak out to Starbucks, or the library. But Starbucks has caffeine, so it kicks the library all hallow.

My little corner at Starbucks looks pretty much the same, me in my Mickey hoodie, with headphones on listening to Pandora (I find it easier to write YA fiction if I listen to bands that I used to listen to in high school, it's like method-acting but writing, so um, method-writing?) and a yummy, yummy white chocolate mocha next to my computer.

Pretty much the same . . .

and more of the same . . .

and if you do that often enough you hit a really big milestone like I did last week . . .

Fifty thousand words! I still have about 1/3 of my rough draft (or as I like to call it the "crap draft) to go, but having that first 2/3rds or so down feels absolutely fabulous!

Don't forget! Monday is the Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway Day1 Make sure to stop by and enter my giveaway!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Welcome to the Fourteenth Century

I am part of a group on Twitter called Tangled Janeites, we found each other through Jane Austen but discovered that we all love Disney movies as well. Every few weeks we watch a Disney animated movie at the same time and live tweet our thoughts and commentary using the hashtag #TangledJaneites (we started with the movie Tangled when it was released, hence the title).

We decided it was be fun to do a mini blog tour featuring posts about our favorite Disney heroes.

Nancy at Austen Aspirations : Flynn Rider (Tangled)
Kaydee at For the Love of Austen : Naveen (The Frog Prince)
Rebecca at a Word's Worth : Beast (Beauty and the Beast)

And I am posting about Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty.

You're shocked right? Totally, absolutely flabbergasted that I chose to talk about the hero from Sleeping Beauty. You hide it well.

Also, if you missed it, I announced the title and release date for my Sleeping Beauty redux here, there is also a synopsis and I'm pretty darn proud of it.

Welcome to the Fourteenth Century

Honestly, girls like me who like Disney princesses tend to get a lot of flak, especially if they happen to be English majors. Most feminist professors are not really fans. Even among the average, every-day "Mom of Girls" there tends to spring up anti-Disney Princess viewpoints. The problem most of these women have with how Disney portrayed these princesses is that in their view the women are weak, unable to do anything for themselves, relying on a man to save them, yadda, yadda, yadda.

There is even a poster floating around that has each princess labeled with the "bad" message she is supposedly indoctrinating our daughters with. I'd show it here, but it would just cheese me off, I'd have to dispute it point by point, and this post would get even longer than it already is destined to be. I'll save that for another day.

This poster even shows up sometimes where it surprises me, and I feel suddenly judged for liking the princess movies, and worse, exposing my impressionable young daughter to them (gasp). I suppose it doesn't matter that her favorite movie is Superman, or that our favorite female heroines are scrappy, tough-talking, kick-butt kinda girls like Mara Jade from Zahn's extended Star Wars universe. I've let her watch a princess dancing about in a dress and singing and therefore my poor sweet girl is destined to play second fiddle to men for the rest of her life.

Here is the main problem with this school of thought: If you are being honest, it's not the women in these Disney stories who are getting short-changed.

It's the men.

Snow White: Say what you will about Disney's first heroine, she's obviously not the strongest of the princesses (likely a result of being the first, we often forget the point of Snow White was that it was the first movie of it's kind, no one had ever attempted a full length animation before), but she at least has several good qualities. She makes friends easily, she cares for nature, she has a name. Not so the big, strong, man who "saves her" with a kiss. First name Prince, last name Charming. So glad a really fleshed out character was important here. Obviously Disney was conspiring to destroy the confidence of a generation of young men, oh wait, I mean women. Yes, that is what I mean.

Cinderella: She needs a man to save her! The poor thing can't do anything for herself (except, you know like persevere in adverse circumstances, while not letting them poison her attitude or change her character) and needs a man to come and save her. Except not. Pretty sure it's another woman that performs the getting out of dodge magic (Cinderella's goal was never to leave her step-mother's house for good, just for the night.) And again here we have Prince Charming. Dear writers, please lay off the steam rollers. I believe this character is flat enough. Oh wait, he doesn't want to get married. Look, there's a slight bump, we need to iron it out some more.

These men exist only to serve the princess and her story line. Without the princess they are just nameless, faceless heirs to a throne no one really sees or knows about. Even with the princess they are still pretty much nameless, although they have faces. Very smooth, expressionless faces. Poor schmucks.

Which brings me to Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty. The first really fleshed out prince character in Disney animated movies. Mothers of boys everywhere rejoice. Importantly, we notice he has a name! This is a pretty big deal to me, because, in my opinion, naming connotes personhood. Prince Phillip is more than just the prince, the heir to the throne, the one promised to marry the Princess Aurora, he's also Phillip. And it's as Phillip that he meets the lovely peasant girl in the woods, and falls in love with her, and it's because he's Phillip that he fights an evil fairy in the form of a dragon. I doubt his responsibility to the throne is what's really on his mind as he battles to save his true love.

Another really important aspect of the Phillip character is he is loved by Briar Rose/Aurora not because he is a prince, and not because he can save her. Briar Rose has no idea she needs saving at all. She doesn't realize that she is royalty (although as such she will be elevated to equal footing with Prince Phillip without having to marry him), nor does she's realize that he is royalty, and she also has no idea she is in danger. She doesn't see him as a savior, she sees him just as a young man that she is in love with, a young man that she has dreamed about.

Phillip has some pretty modern views about who young royals (male or female) should be allowed to marry. He is all for marrying for true love, and not overly concerned about defying his father on this matter. "After all, this is the fourteenth century" he tells his father as he rushes off to meet Briar Rose. Even though his views on marriage are modern, he also exemplifies the sort of chivalrous qualities that I hope my daughter looks for in a man, and that I hope my son learns as part of his character. Phillip is brave and courageous, he would lay his life down to save his love.

I don't know any mother who doesn't want that for her daughter. Do I want my daughter to be strong and courageous as well? Of course. I want her to be brave, to be thoughtful, to care about others, to be able to meet life's challenges while never losing sight of who she is. I want her to have all of the qualities that make a truly, fleshed out, complete person. And I want her to expect that from any man that comes into her life.

She should demand a Prince Phillip and nothing less.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shazam! Ka-pow! A Title, a Release Date, and a Synopsis

Take two! I posted this the other day, but then blogger went all cuckoo for Coco Puffs and deleted it, posted another post, reposted this post - but with the comments deleted! It had only been up a few hours before blogger threw its little hissy fit, so I thought I'd post it again (I reworked the synopsis again, let me know what you think)!

I've been studiously (and shockingly productively) working away on my novel. If I can keep up the pace, I am pleased to report that my rough draft will be done by July 2nd. Woot! Then comes the fun business of rewrites, editing, formatting, and promoting!

I am not sure if I have mentioned this explicitly before on this blog, I know I've discussed it pretty openly on Twitter, but I am planning to self-publish. And no, this novel hasn't experienced loads of rejection from publishers and agents. I'm actually writing it with the intent to self-publish. Why? So many reasons! Mainly, it means I get complete artistic control over my product, as well as the ability to set my own timeline, price, and marketing. There are a billion more reasons, and if you're interested in why self-publishing works for some people I highly suggest checking out Jennifer Becton's blog Skidding in Sideways.

Maybe I will blog more about my reasons in the future - there is a lot of debate about self-publishing in the writing community, and I fully expect to get some flak for my decision - but for now I have some exciting news.

Here is my official announcement of my novel title and my release date.

I'm including the internet debut of my novel's synopsis for your reading enjoyment! Let me know what you think!

Awake: A Sleeping Beauty Story

February 7, 2012

Alexandra Martin didn't believe in fairy tales...

Alex has always been more interested in rocks and science than stories about princesses and magic. Now she's far too busy with her summer internship at the Gem and Mineral Museum to think about children's stories. Between avoiding her former best friend and high school baseball star, Luke Reed, and trying to hide her unrequited crush on her mentor at the museum, the real world is occupying all of her time.

...Until she walked into one.

It turns out fairy tales aren't all fun and games. A curse has turned her neat and orderly world upside down, and to break it, she bands together with a fellow intern and a recently awakened princess, who's been asleep for 900 years. Can this trio of unlikely heroines put an end to an ominous enchantment, discover true love, and keep an ancient and evil magic from being unleashed on modern-day Los Angeles?

Friday, May 13, 2011

I came across something odd a week or so ago while researching possible novel titles. These two books have similar titles and eerily similar covers.

I know nothing about these novels other than that the first one was an adult novel (paperback released in 2005, hardcover with a different picture released in 2004) and the second is a YA dystopian fantasy released this year. If you're interested in finding out more info about either, you can click the cover picture to go to their Amazon listing.

Crazy, huh? So, do you think book publishers of Awaken hadn't ever seen the cover of Awake? I'd hate to think that they had and went with the design anyway, but it's weird to thing that they didn't spend the same 30 seconds searching on Amazon as I did.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's Coming! The Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day

The Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway Day is a semi-annual tradition in which crafty bloggers from all over the world giveaway handmade items and sewing/knitting supplies on their blogs all on the same day! It is so amazing! This will be my third time giving something away on Giveaway Day, so make sure to stop by on the 23rd and enter my giveaway! I will have a handmade item AND some supplies! You'll also want to check out all the other blogs that will be participating, they get posted on the Sew, Mama, Sew blog the day of the giveaway! There is also still time to sign up if you want to giveaway a handmade item, supplies, or both, on your site!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Yellow Sundress - A Story for Mother's Day

In honor of Mother's Day I thought I would share with you a short story I wrote in college. It is (not so) loosely based on my Mom and I, and has the distinction of being the first story I ever published as it was included in my university's literary journal. I hope you enjoy it and Happy Mother's Day!

"I had a vision." Lorraine insisted as she rifled through the sales rack, sliding the hangers down with a determined click-click.

Lucy raised an eyebrow. "A vision? You've got to be kidding me."
"No, I am not kidding you, a vision . . . a picture . . . I can see it in my head. Now we just have to find it." She reached the end of the sales rack with a sigh. "They don't have it here. Let's go."

"Mom, they have plenty of nice dresses; can't we look at them?"

"No, Lucy, we can't be distracted by other dresses. We need to find a yellow sundress. If you're spending the summer in Paris, you have to have a yellow sundress; that's just the way it is. Oh, and you have to buy flowers from a sidewalk vendor."

"While wearing the yellow sundress?" asked Lucy.

"Of course." Lorraine guided her daughter past the rest of the dresses and out the door of the department store. "I know what we are looking for," she insisted, fishing for her car keys in her purse, "You'll see—as soon as we find it."
Lucy only had two days left before she flew to Paris with her summer school French class. She was conscious of all the packing and planning that she'd left until the last minute. They really didn't have time to be driving around town in search of a mythical sundress. Lucy knew, though, that once her mother got an idea in her head, it was hard to dissuade her, as evidenced by the black silk dancing dress with "a scoop neck and a flirty ruffled hem" hanging in her closet. The dancing dress had been one of her mother's visions, brought on by Lucy's two-month love affair with the swing-dancing classes offered at the local community college. It had taken seven hours, thirteen stores and one hundred twenty-five dollars to procure. They were only on store number three in the “Quest for the Yellow Sundress.”
"Mom, I don't even want to take a dress. It's going to be July, it will be hot and sticky and yucky, and I hate it when my legs stick together. I just want to take jeans and t-shirts."

"Lucy, this is Paris. Have you ever seen a movie or read a book where a girl wears jeans in Paris? No. Yellow sundress, I tell you. You'll look just like a Mary Stewart heroine."
"I'm not a British schoolteacher on a holiday. None of her novels are technically set in Paris anyway, usually Greece."

"Don't be difficult. You'll love it. I can see it now, just above the knee, sleeveless, but not spaghetti straps—maybe with flowers."

"Flowers?" Lucy screeched. "Flowers? I hate frou-frou; I refuse flowers."

"Not girly flowers, fun flowers." Lorraine insisted.

"Well, personally I think you and your sundress idea are off the wall."

"We'll go to Target." Lorraine ignored Lucy's comment. Lorraine had been to Target, but she'd never been to Paris. In fact, she'd never been much of anywhere. Lorraine didn't travel, she got seasick, carsick, airsick. She was also a serious homebody—hot coffee, a fluffy pillow, and a good book being the top three items she required for a good time. Her library card was so well-worn that her signature on the back was barely visible. She considered the fifty-book lending limit rather restricting.

Lucy remained quiet on the way to Target. She was resigned to the reality of the yellow sundress. Her only hope was that it wouldn't be pastel or in any other way girly. Currently her basic wardrobe consisted of jeans and t-shirts emblazoned with Mickey Mouse and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that she bought from the boys department at the Valu-2-U Mart. To Lucy, paying less than five dollars per shirt was a matter of personal pride.

Lucy couldn't wait to board a plane bound for Paris. It would be her first time out of the United States, and she was prepared to do and see, not just to read and dream. She wanted to be the adventurer, the Indiana Jones of her family. She wanted to be able to casually drop the phrase "when I was in Paris last summer" into conversations. To her, the yellow sundress was just a silly fantasy; she was going to experience real life.
When Lucy climbed on the plane at LAX two days later, a yellow sundress with blue flowers was stuffed haphazardly, half-forgotten, into her duffel bag. She nearly skipped onto the plane, eager to experience five weeks of independence and adventure. Eighteen hours later she was no longer skipping. Bleary-eyed, she followed her classmates up the four flights of stairs to their dorm in the Cite Universitaire, her duffel bag thump-thumped up the stairs behind her….


“Hey Mom, I’m here, sorry it took me so long to call…they have these weird payphones; they don’t take money. You have to buy a little card and stick it into the phone.”

“That’s ok, Luce, I knew your plane didn’t go down ‘cause I’ve been watching the news.” Lorraine replied. “Happy Birthday! Well, there anyway; here it isn’t your birthday yet."

“I know, isn’t that freaky? I got on the plane seventeen and got off eighteen. That’s just bizarre. Mom, I’m so tired; I’m gonna go get some sleep. Professor Beltin is dragging us all over tomorrow and I want to be able to see everything!”



“Lucy, what’s wrong?” Lorraine’s voice sounded anxious, even through the static that permanently plagued the downstairs phone of the dormitory.

“We got assigned to our classes today at the university, and everyone from my school is in one class and I’m in another one all by myself with a bunch of people I don’t know,” sobbed Lucy. “And it’s not even at the Sorbonne; it's at an extension campus, so I have to go an hour earlier than everyone else and find it all by myself, and….and classes start tomorrow, but that's the Fourth of July!"

“Ok, Lucy, slow down…calm down, it’s going to be ok. I’m sorry they are separating you from your class, but maybe you’ll have a really great teacher.”

“Yeah, maybe. But it’s the Fourth of July! Going to school is like wrong or something, my brain can’t get around it. It’s unpatriotic!”

“No, it’s not, sweetie. We’ll light some fireworks for you. I know: why don’t you wear your American flag t-shirt? That will make you feel patriotic.”

“Ok, I will. I gotta go mom, there is a line for the phone.


Sometime around week three, after conjugating the wrong verb and getting a low score on her first test, missing her subway exit three times, and being forced to watch “Memphis Belle” completely dubbed in French while she did her laundry in the dorm basement, Lucy began longing for a fluffy pillow and a good book.

“Completely in French I tell you! I mean Matthew Modine and D. B. Sweeny in a World War II American bomber, speaking French?”

“Well, we watch foreign films” Lorraine pointed out reasonably.

“Not if they’re dubbed, we don’t. We watch subtitles. It just looks so stupid 'cause you can totally tell by their mouths what they are saying, but the French translation is so long that the voice keeps going after the mouths have stopped moving.”

“GYou have a point. So,” Lorraine changed the subject, “have you seen any of those sidewalk flower shops?”

“Sure, Mom, they are all over the place.”

“So, um, worn your sundress yet?”

“My what?” Lucy asked, puzzled. “Oh that! No, it’s probably somewhere in my bag still. I’ll dig it out if it cools down, I guess. It’s like 89 degrees and the humidity is ridiculous; you know I hate wearing dresses when I get sweaty…and we have to walk everywhere.”


Around week four she realized Paris could never be as fantastic as it was in her mother's head. The museums were all beginning to blur together. She missed her friends, her family, and her language. When separated from her classmates for most of the day the only English she heard was from a street musician. Every morning on the subway he’d run through a string of Eric Clapton songs on his guitar.

“Hi Mom, I’m coming home in a week and a half.”

“We can’t wait to see you. Are you having fun?”

“Not really;” Lucy sighed. “I’m just sort of tired.”

“Did you get the package I sent you?” queried Lorraine.

“No.” Lucy perked up. “You sent me a package? What is in it?”

“Well, if I tell you it won’t be a surprise; you’ll see when you get it.”


The package arrived the Monday of her last week in Paris and contained two of Lucy’s favorite Mary Stewart novels and twenty dollars. Lucy went out and bought a stack of chocolate bars and spent the night curled up in bed reading the familiar words.

The next morning found her on a crowded subway, clutching a bright bouquet of flowers wrapped in brown paper in one hand, while trying with the other to keep them from getting crushed by the press of rush hour. The yellow of the daisies almost matched her dress.