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September 7, 2009

It seems like a lot of people are taking the self-hosting new URL leap and I’m no exception.

Please stop by to check out my new digs (as an added bonus you get to find out what happened to my car bumper)!

Please note that I will no longer be posting at this site, so please update your bloglines, google reader, rss feed, etc. with my new URL. Thanks!!


Another giveaway (this time from Quirk)!

September 4, 2009

Sense and Sensibility and Sea MonstersAs I’ve mentioned since starting my Everything Austen challenge, I’ve had such a wonderful response from both authors and publishers who have been really great in sending Austen-inspired books for giveaways. Next up is the highly anticipated follow-up to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Quirk books Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters! Quirk books has very generously sent me THREE copies of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters to give away!

To enter to win a copy of S&S&SM, just leave a comment in this post along with a valid e-mail address. For an additional chance to win you can Tweet about this giveaway (@SWrittenWord has THREE copies of Sense&Sensibility&SeaMonsters to giveaway!! #everythingausten) or post about this contest on your own blog. Please note that this giveaway is open to everyone (including my international readers!) and you have until Saturday, September 12th at 8 p.m. EST to enter. I will announce the winners the next day. Good luck!!

If you enjoyed the above book trailer, take a peek at Leeches in our Pants, The Making of the Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters Book Trailer here.  Thanks again Quirk for sending the books to me for a giveaway! Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters will be released on September 15, 2009.

Stacey Coolidge’s Fancy-Smancy Cursive Handwriting

September 3, 2009

This morning was a whirlwind of activity, as it was the first day of school for my oldest, who is now officially a second grader!

Leah's 1st day 2nd grade 016

Next week her younger sister will be off to pre-school. For now though, it seems awfully quite with just one kid in the house!

I decided to review Stacey Coolidge’s Fancy-Smancy Cursive Handwriting today in honor of all those elementary school kids who are going back or have gone back to school.  

Stacey Coolidge's Fancy Smancy Cursive Handwriting (The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses) (The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses) (The Adventures of Everyday ... (The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses)Stacey Coolidge’s Fancy-Smancy Cursive Handwriting by Barbara Esham is the story of Carolyn, a little girl who has just entered second grade. She is confident in many of her abilities, especially shooting baskets, riding a skateboard and almost printing her name inside the lines on notebook paper. But when it comes to learning about cursive handwriting, Carolyn can’t seem to get it right. She knows that if she completes her cursive handwriting work early, she can play with the class guinea pig. Soon Carolyn becomes overwhelmed and jealous of classmate Stacey Coolidge, who seems to have cursive handwriting down pat.

What Carolyn will soon learn is that practice makes perfect and that being a good writer has more to do than perfect cursive handwriting. As her teacher Mrs. Thompson explains “Ideas, thoughts and feelings are the most important parts of what we write. Without the important parts, we just have a bunch of slants and curves.”

While at Book Expo America, I came upon a booth which highlighted a series of children’s books called The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses. Along with this book, there are three other books in the series written by Barbara Esham that you can read about on their website. I was excited to be able to bring home a copy of Stacey Coolidge as my daughter will be learning cursive handwriting this year.

Stacey Coolidge’s Fancy-Smancy Cursive Handwriting is a book that we have read and enjoyed throughout the summer. It is a cute, easy to follow story with relatible characters who struggle to learn new things at school. The book tries to teach children not to get stressed out while trying to learn new things and gives them alternative ways of learning. As the author points out on her website, the books help children understand that “smart” comes in many different forms and that we all excel in different ways.

With very nice illustrations by Mike and Carl Gordon and a delightful story, Stacey Coolidge’s Fancy-Smancy Cursive Handwriting is a winner.

Catching Fire

September 1, 2009

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)Today is the day that so many of you have been waiting for!  Time to head out to the stores and grab yourself a copy of Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. You can read my review of The Hunger Games here.

I had snagged an ARC copy of Catching Fire while at Book Expo America in May and was waiting for the perfect time to read it. That time came while on a cruise ship to Bermuda this summer (see the picture below). When I wasn’t busy watching my daughter swim in the pool or touring around Bermuda, I spent every free minute with my nose in this book. I was really eager to continue reading the story of Katniss, Peeta and Gale.

Catching Fire begins a few months after where The Hunger Games left off.  Katniss Everdeen is back in District 12, but not everything is the same. She has moved with her family to Victors Village and now resides next to Haymitch and Peeta. She has barely spoken to Peeta after their return and since Gale now works in the mines she doesn’t see him all that much either. The only constant in her life is her hunting. It’s no longer a necessity for her family, but she hunts to help feel Gale’s family while he is off at work.

It’s now time for the Victory Tour, which takes place between Hunger Games to remind the people of Panem that uprisings are not tolerated. During the last Hunger Games, Katniss unintentionally became a symbol of resistance and now there is some unrest in many of the districts. With a threat directly from the Capital that she do exactly as they request, Katniss is put in an uncomfortable position. Then when President Snow targets Katniss and her family, the Victory tour and what lies ahead become even more dangerous. Katniss now has to try and keep her loved ones safe and needs to make a decision whether to run and hide or stand up for the suffering people of Panem.

Reading Catching Fire while on the cruise

Catching Fire is another winner for author Suzanne Collins. With emotionally charged writing, Collins weaves an intriguing storyline of political upheavel and suspence that is fast paced in a grab you by the seat of your pants way. Ending with a cliff-hanger that will leave you wanting more, I think Catching Fire is even better than The Hunger Games.

Did you know that The Hunger Games has already been optioned for a film and that the author has signed on to write the screenplay? In an interview for BookPage magazine, Suzanne Collins says “I am looking forward to telling the story in a different medium. Of course we will be handling the subject matter very carefully and anticipate that the film will have a PG-13 rating.”
Now I’m left with three questions:



Winners of Austen Addict giveaway

August 30, 2009

I am so pleased with the response author Laurie Viera Rigler received on her guest post the other day. The question she asked, whether we are better off living (and dating) in 2009 or would we be better off in 1813, was great fun to discuss. There were so many insightful, well thought out responses and I enjoyed reading each and every one.

For myself personally, I do feel that I am better off in this day and age as opposed to 1813 for one simple reason – as a white woman, I would have never met (or even have been allowed to marry) my Chinese husband!  🙂

Anyway, I randomly picked the winners of the three copies of CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT and RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT. Plus, the author was super nice and even signed her first novel for the winners.

Congratulations go to:

Rebecca from I’m Lost in Books

Maureen of Being Chronically Ill’s a Pill

Kathy aka Bermudaonion

Winners please e-mail me at wordblog(at)optonline(dot)net with your snail mail addresses and I’ll get the books off to you!

Everything Austen mini-challenge & new look

August 27, 2009

Before I  get into the really fun mini-challenge open to all Everything Austen participants, I just want to let you all know that I was feeling creative this evening and fooled around with the template here on Stephanie’s Written Word. I’m really liking the green header and will probably keep it for awhile!


Also, you still have a little while to enter to win one of three copies of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict. Plus, the author was super nice and even signed her first book (Confessions) for the winners!


Have you joined in on the fun over at Books and Bards blog, where Nicole is hosting a really original Everything Austen mini-challenge called Do you have what it  takes to be a Mrs. Jennings?  A Jane Austen Mix-and-Matchmaking Mini-Challenge?

Nicole had singled out a few characters  from Jane Austen novels that have made less-than-advantageous matches. The mini-challenge is to finding the characters a more suitable match and explain your reasoning. You could even detail how the two lovers meet or predict their future together!

For a taste of what Nicole has put together, see what eligible matches she suggests for Edmund Bertram below!

Make sure to stop by Books and Bards to play along. Do it now though, as you only have until September 14th to play matchmaker!!

Bachelor Number One:
Mansfield Park

Likes: Horses, sermons, and Doing Good Works

Dislikes: Debauchery, slaver and sinful theater productions

The younger son of a privileged family, Edmund is destined for the clergy and, not surprisingly, for his priggish, impoverished cousin Fanny Price. But anyone can see how insufferable these two goody-two-shoes would be together. He needs a lover who can loosen up a bit. Eligible matches:

1. Lydia Bennet (P&P): Wild and licentious, Lydia has a taste for men in regimentals and a complete lack of propriety. Could she fall for a religious man who’s more suited to her sister Mary?

2. Lucy Steele (S&S): She’s devious and grasping, but is she cunning enough to fool Edmund’s Bible-buried nose?

3. Frank Churchill (Em.): C’mon, we can all read between the lines. Plus, Frank’s a bit of a cad, and you should never underestimate the power of Bad Boy Syndrome, especially among aspiring clergymen.


It’s time for R.I.P.!

August 26, 2009

RIP book challenge3

It’s that time of year again! Time to send the kids back to school, unpack your woolly sweaters, enjoy some hot apple cider and warm your tootsies in front of the fire (OK, since it’s still August, maybe it isn’t quite time to pull a sweater over your head) but it is time to kick off R.I.P. or R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril…IV!!!

R.I.P. IV is the fantastic challenge hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings. This is the third year I am joining in and I am so excited! It’s a great way to kick off my most favorite season of the year!

The R.I.P. IV challenge asks you to read from any of these spookyish genres – Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror or Supernatural. The challenge officially starts on September 1st and runs through Halloween.

I am hoping to read at least four books for R.I.P. IV. Below is the list of books (I’ve listed five just in case I want to switch one out) I plan to pick from for Carl’s challenge.

RIP book challenge2

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith – this one is on my list for Everything Austen already, so I figured I would kill two birds with one stone.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson – The Gargoyle made the rounds on different blogs awhile back and since it just came out in paperback (with a cool new book cover) I just couldn’t resist.

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry – Book Club Girl was sweet enough to give me a copy of this book when we had lunch last week and when I read that people compare it to Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale I quickly added it to my list. Plus, Raych just gave it eight catepillars!

The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – I really enjoyed Zafon’s novel The Shadow of the Wind and was excited to find out that he had written this new book, which was published earlier this summer.

The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl – Another one with a great paperback cover and by the description it sounds like an intriguing mystery.

Are you joining in too? What books do you think are a must read this fall?


Sex and the Austen Girl (& a BIG giveaway)

August 24, 2009

This guest post was written by Laurie Viera Rigler author of CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT and RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT, both which are available now. You can find out more about the author and her books at her website Jane Austen Addict. Please help me welcome Laurie to Stephanie’s Written Word!

In honor of the Everything Austen Challenge, I thought it would be fun to take a look at one of the things that many of us find most attractive about Jane Austen’s world (or our idea of Austen’s world); namely, the romance, and compare it to romance in the modern world.

 Have you ever wondered how our dating rules and rituals today might look to someone from Jane Austen’s England? 

This is a question I thought about constantly while writing my new novel, RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT. It’s the parallel story to my first novel, CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT. 

In CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT, a twenty-first-century Austen fan named Courtney Stone awakens one morning in 1813 England as a gentleman’s daughter named Jane Mansfield—with comic and romantic consequences.

 In RUDE AWAKENINGS, Jane, the gentleman’s daughter from 1813 England, finds herself occupying the body of Courtney in the urban madness of  twenty-first-century L.A.

For Jane, who was born into a privileged yet proto-industrial world of horse-drawn carriages and candlelit nights, the wired, electrified, and multi-tasking twenty-first century is a shock. So is its lack of servants, civility, or sufficiently modest clothing. There are, however, some very clever little machines, especially a shiny glass box in which tiny people act out scenes from her favorite novel, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.  

Although nothing is familiar to Jane–not even her own face in the mirror–one thing is clear: the technological wonders of the modern world are a lot easier to comprehend than its rules of love.

In Jane’s world, she was forbidden to live alone, travel alone, or even earn her own money–let alone spend unescorted evenings with single men. While she revels in her newfound freedom, she struggles to make sense of how single men and women interact in the modern world. And so, when she finds herself falling for a young gentleman—who may not be a gentleman at all—she’s in over her head.

 Good thing she has the wise words of Jane Austen—and the counsel of a mysterious lady–to guide her.

And so I herewith pose the question that my heroine asks herself:

Are we better off now, or would we be better off back then?

(I suppose we’d have to remove from our equation the vision of Colin Firth emerging, dripping wet, from that lake—or that scene where he’s fencing—or  Matthew MacFadyen brooding across the moors…Otherwise, who could keep her thoughts straight?)

Here’s a list of the most glaring differences between dating today and courtship in 1813 (which is also the year that PRIDE AND PREJUDICE was published).

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Getting Acquainted, 1813:

Although a ball is an all-important opportunity for singles to get to know one another, a woman is not allowed to dance with a man unless he has been properly introduced to her by a trusted friend. Or the master of ceremonies at the assembly rooms. He certainly can’t just walk up to her on the street and strike up a conversation.

Dancing is one of the only opportunities that single men and women have for a tête-à-tête, and it’s pretty much the only way they can touch. It’s a socially sanctioned way to display the grace and proportions of your body, and to admire those of your partner. Eye contact is very much a part of the dance. The whole ritual of display, chaste touch, and locking eyes with your partner is actually quite sexy, despite how stilted English country dance may look at first glance.

Is it any wonder that ballroom scenes are important in Austen’s novels? Other than balls, your opportunities to meet new people or develop intimate relationships with new acquaintances are limited to the social inclinations and fortunes of your parents and whatever heavily chaperoned parties and dinners they give, or are invited to. Not to mention whom you get stuck sitting next to at dinner. Oh yes, and don’t even think about getting involved with anyone from a lower social class.

Getting Acquainted, 2009:

Any man may approach any woman anywhere he pleases, and vice versa (at least theoretically; how many women make a habit of making the first move?). Class is no obstacle (at least theoretically). Opportunities for alone time are limitless. But does that mean modern singles take advantage of those opportunities to forge more intimate relationships than people did in 1813? After all, there’s always another opportunity to get together—or meet someone else. Why rush things?

 Staying in touch, 1813:

If a woman wants to see a man again after their initial meeting, all she can do is wait and hope he’ll visit her in her home or wherever she is staying (with relatives or other chaperones present, of course). Writing letters to the object of your affections is strictly prohibited unless you are engaged. So, if a man doesn’t make his move after the initial meet in person—and soon—chances are he’s just not that into her. Or in love with someone else. Or a twit.

Staying in touch, 2009:

Landlines, cell phones, voicemail, text, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter. Who calls first, how long after a meeting, and by what clever method? Do men still prefer to take the initiative, or do women feel as free to pursue as men do? Such are the great mysteries of modern living.

Gauging a Man’s Intentions, 1813:

When a single man reserves the first two dances at a ball with a young woman and then asks her to dance with him again, that’s a pretty obvious sign of interest. If he then pays regular visits to her mother and father, contrives to sit by her at dinner, and has little conversation for anyone else, a proposal is sure to follow.

Gauging a Man’s Intentions, 2009:

Since anything goes in the flirting and physical contact department, much of it in public, and none of it necessarily indicative of anything more than the ego and physical gratification of the moment, intention is anyone’s guess. Though a man may appear to be in love (or pretty close to it) prior to making love, the woman may never hear from him again after the deed is done. In that respect, things have not changed at all since 1813.

Making Love, 1813:

Something a man does verbally rather than physically, when he declares his affections and proposes marriage—a gentleman doesn’t do one without the other. And despite what he might wish would happen physically before that trip to the altar, he doesn’t expect more than a handshake. Even a kiss isn’t supposed to take place before marriage, but if it does happen it will definitely not be in public. (I don’t care; I still love that PDA kiss in the 1995 film adaptation of PERSUASION.)

 Making Love, 2009:

One of the things that Jane cannot wrap her mind around is the inherent contradiction of a society that glorifies brides and marriage with hugely elaborate weddings and an entire wedding industry, but at the same time engages in courtship, cohabitation, and even the sexual act without any matrimonial consequences. The language is also puzzling. At least “making love” refers to a physical act between two people in love. But “hooking up”? It brings to Jane’s mind being lured to one’s death, like a fish, while “having sex” sounds as if it has about as much gravity as “having cake.”


Laurie has generously offered to send both of her books CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT and RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT to 3 lucky winners!!  

To enter all you need to do read this guest post and in the comments answer Laurie’s question – Are we better off now, or would we be better off back then? Please also include your e-mail address.

For an additional chance to win you can Tweet about this giveaway (@SWrittenWord has 3 copies of @austen_addict books to giveaway! #everythingausten) or post about this contest on your own blog. Please note that this giveaway is only open to US residents (sorry international readers) and you have until Saturday, August 29th at 12 midnight EST to enter. I will announce the winners on Sunday. Good luck!!

Win a Kindle by Tweeting

August 20, 2009

Did you read my recent book review of Perseveranceby Carolyn Rubenstein? To celebrate the release of her book, Carolyn is giving away a KINDLE A DAY and there are still two days to win!

From the author’s blog:

Tuesday marks the release of my new book, PERSEVERANCE, a collection of candid stories from 20 young people who have faced cancer head-on and emerged with a new outlook on life. Contained within the pages of PERSEVERANCE are life lessons that all of us can take away, with the message that “now is everything.” This book is a labor of love, and I hope the life lessons I learned from these brave survivors will inspire you, as well.

I am a huge fan of the Amazon Kindle and to celebrate the release of my book with readers, I am pleased to announce that we are giving away a Kindle wireless reading device on Twitter each day from August 18 through Friday, August 21, to four lucky tweeters. (That’s Twitter users, for the digitally-challenged. You can start an account here:

The rules are simple: to participate, simply send out a tweet with #perseveranceincluded somewhere within the 140 characters. You only have to send out one tweet each day during the contest to be eligible for that day. You can enter in all four daily contests if you want. Your message can say whatever you want—but it must include the hashtag #perseverance.

There will be a random drawing to choose the Kindle winner each contest day. Winners will be notified via my Twitter account (@clrsimple2), and will have five days to claim the prize. Good luck!!

Cupcakes, books & movies

August 19, 2009

It’s been a week and a half since my (final) surgery and I am feeling great! Yesterday I went into NYC to see my doctor for my first follow up visit. Afterwards I headed over to Book Club Girl’s office and we had lunch together. It was so nice to see Jennifer again (last time was when I sat on a panel with her at Book Expo America). We chatted about books (of course) our kids and the 2010 BEA. Afterwards I stopped by Crumbs to pick up some of these yummy delights for my neighbor, who was taking care of my kids for the day. 

Crumbs Bake Shop

While on the train ride to the city I started Her Fearful Symmetry, the highly anticipated second novel by Audrey Niffenegger (I received an ARC of it in the mail on Monday). I’m about one hundred pages in and so far enjoying this creepy story.

Audrey Niffenegger

Speaking of Niffenegger, some ladies from my neighborhood got together to see The Time Traveler’s Wife at the movies last night. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this film since I found out it was being made into a movie. The movie itself was pretty good, but not nearly as good as the book (isn’t that usually the case)? It might have something to do with the casting of Eric Bana as Henry. I just didn’t think he was the right actor for the role. Also, the visual effects used to make Henry dissapear were a little cheesy. It did though make me want to re-read the book (it’s been quite awhile since I read and thoroughly enjoyed the love story between Henry and Clare).