Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What is Michaelmas?

Two hundred years ago, Michaelmas was a bigger deal in England than Christmas. There's a passage in Jane Austen's Persuasion, in which Anne mentions Michaelmas. She's staying with her sister Mary at the time and has just left her childhood home of Kellynch because her father has leased it to Captain Wentworth's brother:

So passed the first three weeks. Michaelmas came; and now Anne's heart must be in Kellynch again. A beloved home made over to others; all the precious rooms and furniture, groves, and prospects, beginning to own other eyes and other limbs! She could not think of much else on the 29th of September; and she had this sympathetic touch in the evening, from Mary, who, on having occasion to note down the day of the month, exclaimed, "Dear me! is not this the day the Crofts were to come to Kellynch? I am glad I did not think of it before. How low it makes me!"

The English celebrated Michaelmas on September 29. Like Labor Day in the United States, it marked the transition from summer to autumn. It was also a day for personal transitions, as happened in Persuasion--the Crofts moved to Kellynch. Michaelmas was a good day to lease a new home, hire servants, pay a debt, or to perform any other important duty. Even the poorest families celebrated by eating goose.

Michaelmas was held in honor of Saint Michael. Thanks perhaps to John Milton, who wrote Paradise Lost in 1667, Saint Michael was a hero to the English people during Austen's time. In Milton's work as well as in the New Testament, Michael is the archangel who leads the celestial army against Lucifer. Many English churches are named in Saint Michael's honor.

In Persuasion, the idea of Michaelmas brings additional symbolic meaning. It marks the autumn of Anne's life as a time of transition, perhaps a time to change old ideas and reject former advice. It also hints that Anne, like St. Michael, must conquer her own demons.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Jane Austen Giveaway Hop

Welcome Jane Austen fans! I couldn't resist taking part in the Jane Austen Giveaway Hop hosted by vvb32 reads. This giveaway is open to residents of the US.

I will be giving away a copy of my book, Persuasion: A Latter-day Tale. It is a modern version of Jane Austen's Persuasion. As the title suggests, the characters are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Fill out this form to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway Visit these other sites to find more great giveaways:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teens are funny . . . and some other things are too

Becca Wilhite taught a class at the Storymakers Conference about how to be funny. One of her little nuggets of advice was that you should take notes of funny things teenagers say while you're driving them around. (I'm pretty sure my teens would not approve of this practice, but they probably won't read this anyway.) I know not everyone is so lucky to spend hours in the car with teenage girls, so I'm going to share my notes from the past month with you. (I'll also share some of Becca's other suggestions.)  So here goes--

Notes from Carpool

One girl observed that it's really awkward when couples stare into each others' eyes for longer than about three seconds. She thinks there should be some sort of rule about that.

Once a guy figures out you like him, he pretty much stops talking to you. If, on the other hand, he likes you back, you stop liking him. So the "I like you" confession dooms all relationships.

One of the girls took a ballroom dancing class this semester, thinking it'd be a great way to meet guys. Major backfire! She got paired with a boy who has B.O. issues. Although she talked to two teachers about it, the boy has shown no improvement. One teacher thinks it goes deeper than a deodorant problem because the stench is so strong. He thinks it must be a shower thing. So what's a girl to do? The only thing she can do--bring an extra shirt to change into after ballroom dancing class.

This same girl has a job cleaning bathrooms at the elementary school every afternoon. At the beginning of the year, her supervisor showed her how to sanitize the toilets with a special solution, which he said was so safe you could drink it. She never drank it, just squirted it into the toilets after she cleaned them. Lately, they've had trouble with ant colonies in the bathrooms. One drop of the solution that's safe enough to drink will kill all the ants around the toilet bowl, even if it doesn't actually touch the ants. Yep, it's that safe.

None of the girls ever want to date a guy who says anything cheesy, even if he made it up just for them. My poor son, the only boy in the carpool, feels a little clueless about this. "What exactly is cheesy?"

One of the substitutes told my daughter that he'd seen her with a boy in the hallway and that they made a cute couple. It would've been a nice compliment, except the boy was her brother.

Other Sources of Humor

Becca taught us that, in order to become funny, we need to watch and listen to comedy. Here's the list she gave us:

  • Brian Regan
  • Jim Gaffigan
  • Tim Hawkins
  • Sarah Eden
  • Studio C on BYU TV
  • Pandora Radio: PG comedy
Where do you find comedy in your life?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Michael Vey and Marketing

A few weeks ago, my ten-year-old came home from school and asked to go the library right away. This is not normal. I'm all for going to the library, though, so we went. It turned out that he'd gone to an assembly at school about the Michael Vey book. Mind you, this is a book I'd been trying to get him to read for a while. "Oh," I said. "Did Richard Paul Evans come to your school?"

"No," my son answered. "It was somebody talking about how great the Michael Vey book is. It's going to be bigger than Harry Potter."

My son put the book on hold, received it within a week, and read it all the way through within a few days. This is a kid who doesn't like to read fiction. Now he's reading the sequel.

As an author, I just have to wonder how Richard Paul Evans thinks this is okay. I mean, as far as I know, he didn't even go to the assembly. As a parent, on the other hand, I'm all for this type of marketing. Whatever gets my boy to read is good.

I've noticed that literacy for boys is all about marketing. Unlike my daughter, who reads all sorts of stuff, the boys usually only read what all the other boys are reading. It has to have a cool cover and be popular.

So what do you think about schools advertising books to children? And, if you have boys in your life, what are they reading?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Star Wars Arrow of Light

My son got his cub scout Arrow of Light award the other day. We had a lot of fun in the pack, putting together a Star Wars theme Arrow of Light ceremony, which the boys loved. (Unfortunately, I think the parents had no idea what was going on. Microphones probably would've been a good idea.)

We copied the idea from the guys who run this blog: http://arrowoflightdoneright.blogspot.com/ We changed a few of the activities to suit the needs of our pack.

Our cubmaster also added his own flare by adding words of wisdom from Yoda, which he collected from youtube clips. So here's our little script if you're interested:

Arrow of Light Saber Ceremony

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Going to the Zoo

Life with teenagers is busier than I'd expected. In the last few weeks, we've had piano guild festival, a Tae Kwon Do belt test, an Eagle Scout board of review, many hours of driver's training, a birthday party, studying for AP tests, much drama over a broken-down car, and preparation for the prom. On top of that, I'm going through the final edits for Emma: A Latter-day Tale. I took a break on Saturday to take the kids to the zoo. I'm glad I did, because I realized I hadn't been spending very much time with the younger kids. They were the only ones who had time to go.

Our zoo has been changing a lot in the last few years. This is the new seal and sea lion exhibit.

My ten-year-old kept saying things like "Wow! I've never seen a polar bear before." Or "I can't remember ever seeing a crocodile" It'd only been two years since I'd taken him to the zoo! Sometimes I forget that two years is a long time from a child's perspective. My kids wrote down every single animal they saw--78 in total. Elementary-age kids are so cool!
Back in 7th grade my friend told me I was so much taller than the other kids
that I looked like a giraffe walking down the hall. Maybe that's why I like giraffes so much.
One weird thing about me that my kids find amusing is that the bird show always makes me cry. Yep. It started out that it was just the white doves flying in a pretty little flock that made me cry. Now, even the birds of prey get me going. Sigh.
My son got the stomach flu that night. The next day, he told me. "Mom, I'm pretty sure I got sick from going to the zoo, but it was totally worth it."