5 Ways to Celebrate the Publication of Pride and Prejudice

Over 200 years ago, on January 28th 1813, Pride and Prejudice, one of the most popular novels in English literature, was first published . Pride and Prejudice has sold over 20 million copies, and continues to be studied and written about by scholars, and relished by readers everywhere. Film versions of the book, literary adaptions, spin-offs, and spoofs continue to explode and proliferate. “5 Ways to Celebrate the Publication of Pride and Prejudice” is a a celebration of the vivacity, spunk, and independence of its 21-year old heroine, (a true feminist!) and the brilliance of her creator. 1. Liberate Your Inner Elizabeth Bennet! Elizabeth Bennet, the feisty heroine of Pride and Prejudice, is witty, self-assured, and a keen observer of the oddities and eccentricities of human nature. “Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can,” she famously remarked. We can’t all be brilliant, witty, and self-assured, at least all … Read on

Just Wait! A short story rejected in grade school becomes a cause of action

In elementary school, back in the 1950s, we were never given writing assignments, and I never imagined there were any living authors. I pictured a cemetery filled with tombstones of my favorite writers with their last names first, like card catalogs in the library: Baum, L. Frank 1856-1919. Writing – the pleasure of articulating interior worlds sensed but not seen – was something I did on my own. I was in eighth grade before I got a chance to write a story for school. My eighth-grade English teacher, Mr. Mortem, was a malevolent-looking man with a low brow and small beady eyes. We joked that he moonlighted as an axe murderer. But he was even scarier as an English teacher. He terrorized us with menacing-sounding exams called “evaluations,” which turned out to be ordinary multiple-choice tests. But he was the first teacher to give us an assignment to write a short story. “Remember,” Mr. Mortem called as we filed out of class, “no stories from TV!” I hardly heard him. I was … Read on

The Ambivalent Agnostic: An Adoption Story

I was in my 40s when I decided to quit a cushy secretarial job at a Park Avenue law firm in order to write full-time. The move felt risky. My husband, a professor at NYU, was 17 years older, and the loss of my pay check cut our already modest income in half. But the fear, confusion, and indecision I felt was only partly due to our precarious finances. The main reason was because we had just decided to adopt a baby. In spite of my worries and reservations, John and I flew to Lubbock, Texas, to register with an adoption agency recommended by friends. My mother had retired to West Texas, and only a few weeks earlier I had traveled there to visit her before she died. Now I was returning to that barren land in search of new life. The adoption agency said it could take months to get a baby. We filled out all the application forms, … Read on

How Pride and Prejudice and Kitties Came About

cat on desk

Pride and Prejudice and Kitties (originally called “Purr and Petulance”) began many years ago with the idea of combining the wicked humor of Jane Austen with the wackiness of cats. When we started out, we didn’t really know what we were doing (and that’s an understatement). We thought it was enough to take a cute cat photo and throw a quote from Pride and Prejudice at it. The idea of illustrating P&P with photos of kitties was so funny to us that we didn’t even think it mattered if the photograph related to the quote. In fact, to us it was funnier if it didn’t. Here’s an example: OK, so the letters look more like bills, and Mr. Bennet looks more clueless than surprised, but maybe he’s really bowled over by the thought that his dear Lizzy is about to become Mrs. Darcy! We blithely snapped a bunch of cat photographs, wrote a proposal and query letter, and began approaching … Read on

You Think it Can’t Happen? How My Two Picture Books Were Stolen by a Major Publisher

Open Mind

When I was in eighth grade I wrote two short stories for our English teacher, Mr. Mortem, a malevolent-looking man with a low brow and small beady eyes. We joked that he moonlighted as an axe murderer. But he was even scarier as an English teacher. He snapped girls’ bras in the hallway and terrorized us with menacing-sounding exams called “evaluations,” which turned out to be ordinary multiple-choice tests. When we turned in our stories, Mr. Mortem said he didn’t believe I’d written mine. How would he know? All he’d ever seen of my writing were checkmarks on his “evaluations.”  He also didn’t know how disenchanted I was in school, or how passionate I was about writing. “I’m going to keep this story so you won’t try to use it again in high school,” he said. My stories, according to Mr. Mortem, were too good for me to have written.Inside, I was seething.Just wait. Someday I’ll be a real writer. … Read on