Who’s That Indie Author? Elizabeth Hein

Who's That Indie Author pic

Elizabeth Hein
Elizabeth Hein

Author name:  Elizabeth Hein

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

Books: How To Climb The Eiffel Tower, Overlook, Escape Plan (2016)

EiffelTower-Cover-smaller   overlook cover smaller

Bio: Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. Her novel, How To Climb The Eiffel Tower, examines the redemptive power of friendship in the face of cancer. Overlook, highlights the darker side of suburban life, and Escape Plan (2016) will pick up where Overlook leaves off.

Elizabeth Hein grew up in Massachusetts within an extended family of storytellers. Her childhood was filled with excellent food and people loudly talking over each other. In 2002, Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer, which motivated her to devote her life to parenting her two beautiful daughters and pursue her dream of sharing her stories with the world. She and her husband now live in Durham, North Carolina.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  I enjoy the creative freedom of being an author. It’s hard work that requires a tremendous amount of discipline, but I still feel exhilarated after a long day of writing. I am thankful that I have the ability to tell the stories I feel are important, using my own unique voice.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Although I find marketing and self-promotion exhausting, people understand advertising. As a hybrid author, my biggest challenge is explaining how independent publishing works. Many readers don’t understand how much publishing has changed in the last decade. There are so many new ways to bring a book to publication that an author can pick and choose the correct route for each book. Now, even if an author is working with a traditional publishing house, they need to understand how the industry works and be prepared take on tasks as necessary. An indie author wears many hats as both writer and publisher, and deserves respect as a professional.

Favorite book: I’ve read Jane Eyre at least ten times. When I was kid, I was swept away by Jane and Rochester’s love. As an adult, I appreciate Charlotte Bronte’s social commentary and keen insights. My passion for Jane Eyre led me to moderate a local Bronte Sisters Book Club.

Contact Information: Connect with Elizabeth through her blog, Scribbling In The Storage Room, her website, elizabethhein.com, Facebook, her Facebook author page, and Twitter.

Are you an indie author looking for some positive publicity? Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

A Sudden Light

A Sudden Light
Garth Stein


There’s a hidden stairway, Trevor, and if you find it and strike a match, you will see an apparition in the sudden flash of light. The Ghost of Riddell House.

I really enjoyed reading A Sudden Light, Garth Stein’s latest book. It’s a story about a nearly broken family that is trapped in generations of dysfunction, haunted by unsettled ghosts and spirits. Trevor Riddell is fourteen in 1990 when he travels to Seattle, Washington with his father, Jones. It’s a trial separation for Trevor’s parents. Their finances have collapsed and they’ve lost their home in Connecticut. His mother, Rachel has moved back to England for the summer, she says. And besides his crumbling marriage, something else is not right with Jones. He’s shaky and preoccupied and driven by some unnamed thing.

Jones is there to help sell Riddell House, a deteriorating mansion built by his great grandfather, Elijah Riddell, a prosperous logger and shrewd businessman. Jones hopes the money will save their family. But first he must confront his father, Samuel, who sent him away at sixteen, and his sister, Serena, who was just a girl when he left. Easier said than done. Samuel is often confused, Serena is a little bit creepy and there are noises in the house at night.

Trevor believes that the only way he can save his parents’ marriage is to discover the secrets of both the Riddell mansion and his strange family. As he searches the house for clues, his discoveries only lead to more questions about the relationships between Jones, his mother, Samuel and Serena, and between Elijah and his two sons, Benjamin and Abraham, and about Benjamin’s sudden death. And then there’s Ben’s secret relationship, the one that tears him apart. There are plenty of twists, but it all comes to a head in the mansion’s ballroom, a place where Jones’s mother loved to dance.

I learned the difference between ghosts and spirits in this story. Spirits have already passed through the light, but ghosts are trapped. To help me understand, I found an interesting article entitled “The Differences Between a Spirit and a Ghost.” Check it out if you want to know more about these different forms of afterlife.

Elijah Riddell built his fortune in Seattle logging, a business that destroyed thousands of acres of forests. Stein’s story questions the ethics of actual businessmen like Elijah, who made their millions off Washington’s resources at the turn of the century.

I like the themes and ideas Stein presents in this story. The importance of touch, between people and between people and nature. The feeling of life and the spiritual energy we get from nature, and the idea that we are all connected, through generations. It’s a peaceful idea.

It’s hard to categorize A Sudden Light. I’d describe it as modern, Gothic, paranormal, popular, dysfunctional family fiction. It reminds me a little bit of Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontё. Why? No spoilers here!

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Who’s who in Jane Eyre’s family

If you know me at all, you know I like to make charts and diagrams when I read.  Although I know the Jane Eyre family connections aren’t too tough to grasp, I still enjoyed making a mini family tree.  Warning – this is a little bit of a spoiler for those who haven’t read Jane Eyre yet!

Jane Eyre family tree

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More Jane Eyre vocabulary for the dear reader!

Charlotte Brontë - she didn't just write novels!
Charlotte Brontë had a large vocabulary!

I’m about half-way through my re-read of Jane Eyre.  Once you get going, even the more unusual words seem to make sense in the context of Brontë’s writing.  Knowing some French definitely helps!

Here are more words you don’t see as much these days:

beck:  n. mountain stream

cuirass:  n. a piece of armor consisting of breastplate and backplate fastened together

repine:  v. feel or express discontent, fret

arrogate:  v. take or claim (something) for oneself without justification

habergeon:  n. a sleeveless coat of mail or scale armor

I think I should have known the definitions of repine and arrogate, but I had to look them up.  What about you?

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Charlotte Brontë’s vocabulary and the SATs

SAT vocabulary pic

I was not the kind of girl who looked up words I didn’t know.  I’m sure I had an average vocabulary when I read Jane Eyre for the first time.  I most certainly skipped over the words I didn’t understand.

My vocabulary is a little better now, but I’m grateful to have the dictionary feature on my Kindle, to help me with Charlotte Brontë’s extensive vocabulary!  Here are some of the words she uses and their definitions:

inanition:  n. exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment

animadversion:  n. criticism or censure

meed:  n. a deserved share or reward

hebdomadal:  adj.  weekly

surtout:  n. a man’s overcoat

I enjoyed looking up these words.  It’s easy to imagine the Lowood Institution when you read these definitions!  I was thinking of passing these vocabulary words on to my kids, to boost future SAT scores, but now I might hold back.  Yesterday The College Board announced a huge overhaul of the SAT format – including testing vocabulary that kids will actually see in college.

Here are the major changes as reported in The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/06/education/major-changes-in-sat-announced-by-college-board.html?_r=0):

The Key Changes

These will be among the changes in the new SAT, starting in the spring of 2016:

■ Instead of arcane “SAT words” (“depreciatory,” “membranous”), the vocabulary definitions on the new exam will be those of words commonly used in college courses, such as “synthesis” and “empirical.”

■ The essay, required since 2005, will become optional. Those who choose to write an essay will be asked to read a passage and analyze the ways its author used evidence, reasoning and stylistic elements to build an argument.

■ The guessing penalty, in which points are deducted for incorrect answers, will be eliminated.

■ The overall scoring will return to the old 1,600-point scale, based on a top score of 800 in reading and math. The essay will have a separate score.

■ Math questions will focus on three areas: linear equations; complex equations or functions; and ratios, percentages and proportional reasoning. Calculators will be permitted on only part of the math section.

■ Every exam will include, in the reading and writing section, source documents from a broad range of disciplines, including science and social studies, and on some questions, students will be asked to select the quotation from the text that supports the answer they have chosen.

■ Every exam will include a reading passage either from one of the nation’s “founding documents,” such as the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights, or from one of the important discussions of such texts, such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”

I’m a practical person, so the change in vocabulary testing makes sense to me.  And I think the other changes sound good too.  Lots of kids are learning how to beat the test. Perfect score stories are everywhere.  Maybe these changes will be a better measurement of students’ aptitudes.  What do you think?

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A love poem by Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Bronte pic2
Charlotte Bronte
She didn’t just write novels!

Since I’m still reading Jane Eyre, I thought I would post a love poem by Charlotte Brontë.  I was never much of a poetry person in college, but lately I’ve come to appreciate poetry and its economy of words.  I especially enjoyed reading this and hope you do too!

Winter Stores
by Charlotte Brontë

WE take from life one little share,
And say that this shall be
A space, redeemed from toil and care,
From tears and sadness free.
And, haply, Death unstrings his bow
And Sorrow stands apart,
And, for a little while, we know
The sunshine of the heart.
Existence seems a summer eve,
Warm, soft, and full of peace;
Our free, unfettered feelings give
The soul its full release.
A moment, then, it takes the power,
To call up thoughts that throw
Around that charmed and hallowed hour,
This life’s divinest glow.
But Time, though viewlessly it flies,
And slowly, will not stay;
Alike, through clear and clouded skies,
It cleaves its silent way.
Alike the bitter cup of grief,
Alike the draught of bliss,
Its progress leaves but moment brief
For baffled lips to kiss.
The sparkling draught is dried away,
The hour of rest is gone,
And urgent voices, round us, say,
‘ Ho, lingerer, hasten on !’
And has the soul, then, only gained,
From this brief time of ease,
A moment’s rest, when overstrained,
One hurried glimpse of peace ?
No; while the sun shone kindly o’er us,
And flowers bloomed round our feet,­
While many a bud of joy before us
Unclosed its petals sweet,­
An unseen work within was plying;
Like honey-seeking bee,
From flower to flower, unwearied, flying,
Laboured one faculty,­
Thoughtful for Winter’s future sorrow,
Its gloom and scarcity;
Prescient to-day, of want to-morrow,
Toiled quiet Memory.
‘Tis she that from each transient pleasure
Extracts a lasting good;
‘Tis she that finds, in summer, treasure
To serve for winter’s food.
And when Youth’s summer day is vanished,
And Age brings Winter’s stress,
Her stores, with hoarded sweets replenished,
Life’s evening hours will bless.

I found this poem on:  http://www.e-lovepoems.com/poem/winter-stores.

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Book Preview: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre pic

After a long stretch of reading popular fiction, I’ve gone back a hundred and sixty years or so to re-read Charlotte Brontë’s Gothic Romance, Jane Eyre.  I had the idea to look for all the references to Jane and Mr. Rochester in modern fiction, but my Google search skills have failed me.  I can only tell you that I have read many books whose characters happen to be reading Jane Eyre and other classics. I love references like this!

And although it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, a quick amateur search of Jane Eyre movies and adaptations came up with a dozen movie versions, at least ten musicals, several radio shows, many TV versions and many, many works inspired by the novel, including a huge selection of fan fiction re-tellings. (Thanks to Charlotte of Momaste @ http://momasteblog.wordpress.com/ for rekindling my interest in Jane Eyre!)

So in order to stay on top of all these modern-day references, I’m headed off to Thornfield Hall!

Can anyone help me remember all the books whose characters have read Jane Eyre?  I’d love to start a list!

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A Review of Jane Eyre- – the 2006 Mini-Series from the BBC by Charlotte Porter of Momaste

Jane Eyre mini series pic

I’m so pleased to welcome my guest blogger, Charlotte Porter of Momaste.  She has written a review of the 2006 Jane Eyre mini-series, which appeared on BBC. After reading Charlotte’s review, I’m reminded of all the things I love about Jane Eyre, and I know I will be re-reading it very soon!

I’ve posted her review below – enjoy!

Over the past decade, I’ve morphed from a party-girl who went out dancing three times a week, to a motherly-matron who considers BBC shows and Masterpiece Theatre just splendid.  During a recent sick day, while my kids were at school and daycare, I was afforded the luxury of devoting five hours on the couch to watching the 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre, starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.

Jane Eyre is my all-time-favorite book (okay, so maybe I consumed my fair share of Victorian lit in between aforementioned partying).  I read the Bronte novel for the first time in high school, studied it extensively in college, and have read it about five more times, just for fun (yeah, I’m also “that girl” who reads Victorian literature “for fun”).  Reading Jane Eyre inspires every tiny hair on my arms and neck to quiver in delight.

Jane Eyre was written by Charlotte Bronte, and published under the masculine name Currer Bell in 1847, a time when it was still considered shocking or improper for the fairer sex to write a book (insert feminist eye roll here).  It is the story of an orphaned girl, sent away to a cold, cruel boarding school after being abused and traumatized by her hateful aunt.

Against all odds (and typhus), Jane edifies herself, becomes a proper governess, and lands a position at gothic Thornfield Hall.  At Thornfield, Jane tutors a young, French charge (and potential offspring), of the mysterious and mercurial Mr. Rochester.  Jane and Rochester quickly become drawn to one another, but in typical Victorian fashion, their love is not to be.  So ensues many dramatic plot twists and turns until everything comes together in a perfect ending.

Jane Eyre has a little bit of everything- poverty, feminism, religion, the supernatural, morality, and passion.  Oh, and let us not forget the crazy woman in the attic!  Each time I read it, I pick up on different themes and symbols, but I always put it down feeling as though I have been transported.

What Jane Eyre does not have is many good film adaptations.  Attempts have been made to adapt this complex tale for the screen.  Try though they may, the versions out there are campy, poorly cast and lazily produced.  They often focus too much on the romantic themes and gloss over all of Jane’s significant personal and moral transformations.  Until this recent sick day, I had resigned myself to life without ever watching my favorite book come alive on the screen.

The 2006 BBC miniseries was directed by Susanna White and written by Sandy Welch.  Ruth Wilson, looking as though she stepped straight out of the book, aptly played the title character.  In the story, Jane’s appearance is significant for its insignificance.  She is described time and again as small, plain and poor, although she is seen by Rochester to have an almost other-worldly quality about her as well.  I was happy to see that this version did not gussie her up, and that they found the difficult and delicate balance between severity and sylph in her appearance.  Wilson captured all the complexities of Jane’s personality- her meek and proper English features as well as her strong will and passion.

Rochester was played by Toby Stephens.  While I enjoyed his performance, and found his Rochester dark, brooding, tortured, and equally passionate as Jane, I did think that Stephens was a little too attractive for the part, especially at the end when he is supposed to be maimed by tragic circumstances.  On one hand I did not mind his winsome appearance.  On the other hand, I felt like the director maybe didn’t trust audiences enough to still love a truly ugly and disfigured Rochester as much as Jane does.

The scenery, costuming, and set design in this version are spectacular.  Thornfield Hall is exactly as I pictured it in the novel- towering and mysterious.  There are many lush outdoor shots of the English countryside; moors, streams, gardens, and rolling hills that absolutely take the breath away.

The mini series is quite true to the book with a few relatively minor sleights of hand.  Since it is four hours long (plus commercials in my case, as I watched it on the Ovation channel), they were able to take their time and tell the story fully, as opposed to some of the more condensed versions.  As a therapist, I liked how flashbacks were used in remembering Jane’s traumas.  I also liked that Jane’s dreams were included in the movie, as I remember finding them very significant when studying the book in college.

My favorite scene was between Jane and Rochester, in which they wrestle with the impossibility of their relationship and morality.  In the book, Bronte devoted pages to this conversation, but in the movie it is a flashback sequence of a little more than three minutes.  Those three minutes are so emotionally and erotically charged they capture the couple’s torment.  In the book, the passage is very chaste, and in the movie it is also quite clean, however the passion between Jane and Rochester is palpable, and gives a sweet little taste of the secret and sexy undercurrent of the Victorians.

Watching this version of Jane Eyre might have been the best spent five hours of my life.  It was, at least, the best way I’ve ever spent a sick day.

Jane Eyre, the BBC mini-series can be purchased from Amazon, or found online through PBS or the BBC. 

 Thanks for visiting!  Be sure to check out Charlotte’s blog, Momaste at: http://momasteblog.wordpress.com/

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