The Budget Fashionista

I have followed Kathryn Finney’s blog, The Budget Fashionista for a few years. I even recommend her book on my blog for the last year. At the end of December I applied to be a contributing fashion poster on her updated website. Much to my own surprised they were “very interested” and offered me a position which required me to turn in one assignment per week on plus size fashion. Here are six of the titles that made the cut:

  • Five Great Places to Purchase Plus Size Tights
  • The Best Wide Calf Boots
  • Five Great Plus Size Work Dresses
  • Five Pieces You Need For the New Year
  • Six Pieces For New Year Workouts

Visit the Budget Fashionista.

Miami Book Fair

Its official name is the Miami Book Fair International and it is one of the biggest highlights in November (this year it runs from the 8th to the 15th) for the Miami, Florida area drawing in fine authors, bookies, bookie wannabes and aspiring authors for indoor and outdoor events.

The CrowdThe Miami Book Fair is one of the longest running book fairs in the United States. Participants will be celebrating its 26th anniversary this year. Due to the lagging economy by all standards, the organizers have had to make adjustments to assure a productive event by cutting some programs and raising the fees or charging a fee for others. Regardless it is still an affordable way to spend the week for what is considered the “nation’s finest and largest literary gathering”

The fair is hosted by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College at the college’s Wolfson Campus, 300 NE 2nd Avenue, in downtown Miami. It is reasonably priced: the street fair is $8 ($5 for seniors, free for those 18 and under) — Friday’s street fair is free to all. Throughout the week there will be author readings and book signings, the Evening With series, the Ibero-American Authors program, the street fair, children’s alley and more.

The fair will present some 300 authors and writers representing the best in contemporary literature ranging from literary, children’s, poetry, and non-fiction. A few of the top authors include: Sherman Alexie, Margaret Atwood, Robert Olen Butler, Meg Cabot, Alan Cheuse, Susie Essman, Mary Karr, Mike Farrell, Nobel Laureate and former Vice President Al Gore, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Barbara Kingsolver, Jonathan Lethem, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Ralph Nader, Richard Powers, Orhan Pamuk, Francine Prose, Ruth Reichl, Wally Lamb, Melvin Van Peebles, and Jeannette Walls.

Miami is too far away for me but one of the things I would love to attend is the Evening With series where attendees can pay an additional $10 to spend an evening with authors as they discuss their books. On the board for the week is:

  • Sunday – Elizabeth Alexander (author of inaugural poem) and Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale)
  • Monday – Ruth Reichl (Gourmet Magazine) and Barbara Kingslover (The Poisonwood Bible)
  • Tuesday – Jeannette Walls (Glass Castle)
  • Wednesday – Richard Powers (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
  • Thursday – Isabella Rossellini (Green Porno)
  • Friday – Orhan Pamuk (Nobel Prize for Literature)

Over the coming weeks leading up to the fair I hope to have more on participating authors.

You can find out the complete details at the Miami Book Fair’s official website.

Featured Authors:

This piece was first posted on 9/30/2009 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

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The Future of Books

Magazine sales are down, newspaper sales are down, and book sales are down. Sure we all buy less in a recession and with the price of books (and magazines, sheesh) they definitely are a luxury item that gets listed lower on our shopping list. But the recession is not the only factor affecting book sales.

In the last five years technology has become the biggest factor. I’ve mentioned e-book numerous times over the last year either in the form of readers or online shops featuring them. I honestly believe this is where the future of books will be. We can deny it all we want but the facts can’t be ignored: ebook sales are on the rise (as are ebook readers); ebook readers can hold libraries of books that the average person could not possibly effectively store in their home; they don’t collect dust, don’t need proper humidity, don’t smell over time; and if you want to go with the environmental factor–don’t use valuable resources like trees.

There is a generation of people who remain true to the sound of pages turning and having bindings on the shelf. Heck, I can’t walk past a bookstore without going in and coming out with a new book (or a reprint of an old book). But in the next decade or so many avid “bookies” are going to be… well, gone; or at least converted.

Myself, I come from an age that is a combination of old ways and technology. But the ones coming up behind up behind me, they are pure techies. They have their laptops, mP3 players, ipods, Blackberrys, cellphones, Wiis, Nintendos etc. I can’t see the use for books, even for nostalgia being high on their list. Books are cumbersome, they take up space and they are more expensive then downloading the latest novel or text book from online. And they don’t have to move from wherever they happen to be sitting to get one.

As I mentioned earlier books are not alone in this decline. The same holds true for newspapers and magazines. Most are now available online in some form and can be downloaded into an ebook reader.

It is no longer a matter of “if” it will happen. It is only a matter of when. I expect to see it my lifetime; so in the next forty to sixty years (I plan on staying around for a while). It’s going to be interesting to see albeit a bit sad too.

This piece was first published on 8/11/2009 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

Form – Novella

One of my favorite forms of literary fiction is the novella. Starting at approximately 19,000 words (and running as long 40,000 words) it gives the literary fiction reader a little more meat than a short story but requires less commitment than a full blown novel.

Like short stories it is not unheard of for them to be published as a collection or in literary magazines. If a novella is extremely well received it will get a cover of its own. Some publishers try to pass them off as a full length novel while others clearly state “novella” either in the title or in the description. Individually packaged novellas can range from 130 pages to 250 and generally have larger print than the standard novel.

The novella is not limited to the genre of literary fiction and is quite commonly used in science fiction and mini mysteries.

Keep an eye out for these literary fiction gems:

Ten Classic Novellas

  • The Chronicles of Narnia (C. S. Lewis)
  • Animal Farm (George Orwell)
  • The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway)
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Truman Capote)
  • Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
  • The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka)
  • Mrs Dalloway (Virginia Woolf)
  • Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
  • The Touchstone (Edith Wharton)
  • Mathilda (Mary Shelley)

Five Modern Novellas

  • Legends of the Fall (Jim Harrison)
  • The Uncommon Reader (Alan Bennet)
  • Everyman (Philip Roth)
  • Shopgirl (Steve Martin)
  • Memories of My Melancholy Whores (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

For an excellent series with over thirty classic novellas (as well as a series of contemporary) check out Melville House Publishing’s The Art of the Novella.

This piece was first posted on 7/23/2009 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

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Ditto E-book Reader

There are two things I think of when I hear the word “Ditto”, the first is the movie Ghost with Patrick Swayze responding to Demi Moore’s “I love you” with “ditto”. The second is the punk Indie songstress Beth Ditto. Now I will have a third — a company out of Freemont, California is releasing a new e-book this month called Ditto.

“Ditto” is an acronym for Digital Interface Total Text Organizer. It is similar in appearance to Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader but comes with a lighter price tag of $249. Another major difference with this device is it is wired. Meaning it is not as self-sufficient as the wireless Kindle; files will need to be transferred from a computer.

Ebook ReaderThe Ditto e-book comes with a six inch screen and has a long battery life (“operates for days if not weeks without a charge”) for reading portable document format (PDF) as well as sound files like MP3s.

Other features:

  • 4 levels of gray scale
  • low power CPU engine core
  • SD card option for increased memory
  • holds 1000+ books
  • light weight
  • zoom capability
  • earphones / adapter

The Ditto website has a listing of over twenty websites that offer a huge selection of free (or affordable) e-books to download as well as a listing of retailers. Hint: These links could be used with the Ditto or any other reading device you have.

I’m not sure how I feel about a wired device. It seems to be a step back from Kindle’s wireless but I’m sure there will be a home for Ditto’s e-book in the market place. There is something to be said for the more affordable price, good memory and long battery even if it is attached. At the moment the Ditto e-book can be purchased via phone (510) 683-9066.

Learn more about the Ditto e-book from the official website.

This piece was first published on 7/8/2009 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

Major Periods of Literary Fiction

Here is a mini list of the different periods authors are divided into according to the period within which their work was produced. It serves no other purpose than curiosity. As you can see there is some overlapping of time and some authors venture into more than one period because of lengthy careers.


The romantic period cover works created from 1800 to 1865. Popular writers from this period include:

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Lord Byron
  • Mary Shelley
  • John Keats
  • James Cooper
  • Herman Melville
  • Jane Austen
  • Bronte Sisters


The realistic period runs from 1855 to 1900. Popular writers from this period include:

  • Gustave Flaubert
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • Mark Twain
  • Henry James
  • Kate Chopin


The naturalistic was a rather short period only running from 1890 to 1910. Popular writers from this period include:

  • John Steinbeck
  • Edith Wharton
  • Ellen Glasgow
  • O Henry


The modern period ran from 1900 to 1950. Popular writers from this period include:

  • T. S. Eliot
  • William Faulkner
  • D. H. Lawrence
  • James Joyce
  • Virginia Woolf
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • John Steinbeck

Post War

The post war period ran from 1946 to 1963. Popular writers from this period include:

  • Flannery O’Connor
  • J. D. Salinger
  • William Faulkner


The confessional period rand from 1964 to 1980. Popular writers from this period include:

  • Sylvia Plath
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Alice Walker
  • John Updike

Post Modern

The postmodernism period began in 1950 and continues today. Popular writers from this period include:

  • William S. Burroughs
  • Norman Mailer
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Tobias Wolff
  • Ha Jin
  • Margaret Atwood


The contemporary period began in 1970 and continues today. It is a continuation of postmodernism. Popular writers from this period include:

  • Alice Walker
  • Judith Guest
  • Charles Frazier
  • Doris Lessing

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Form – Short Stories

I do not want to touch too much on this literary form as we have a site at BellaOnline specifically focused for short stories. But being the literary fiction site it would be remiss of me not to mention short stories as an extremely relevant and vital literary fiction form. This is not to say that all short stories are literary fiction because short stories carry their own genres like books do.

The most basic determinant of a short story is word count. To fall under the title of short story they must range in length from 1000 to 15,000 words. The decision of whether a short story is literary fiction or not is pretty much the same as for books; in literary fiction the “language is heavier, the imagery lush, the characters detailed and story line thought provoking.” Like literary fiction books, literary short fiction has notable awards to distinguish it. “Literary fiction is not about chick lit, mystery, science fiction or horror…If it doesn’t fit into a genre of its own then you’ve probably found yourself some literary fiction.”

I have to admit other than the occasional literary magazine containing short stories or the occasional collection of reviews a publisher may send I spend little to no time on short stories. I think this is probably generally reflective of the majority of the population. They just are not publicized as much. This is not to say there isn’t talent there. Many short story writers go on to write longer length pieces, often spurred by their initial short stories. Imagine what Oprah could do for the short story form if she highlighted an author’s collection.

Keep an eye out for:

Five Classic Short Stories

  • A Rose for Emily (William Faulkner)
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro (Ernest Hemingway)
  • The Story of an Hour (Kate Chopin)
  • Twice Told Tales (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  • Melville’s The Piazza Tales (Herman Melville)

Five Modern Short Stories

  • Runaway (Alice Munroe)
  • Licks of Love (John Updike)
  • In the Garden of North American Martyrs (Tobias Wolff)
  • Changing Planes (Ursula Le Guin)
  • Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri)

Ten Literary Journals Featuring Short Stories

This article was posted 6/24/2009 at the Literary Fiction site at BellaOnline.

Visiting Jane Austen

You’ve read the books. You’ve read about the author. But still, you want more. If you travel to England there are three choice places that any Jane Austen fan needs to add to their list of experiences.

Jane Austen’s House Museum

The building that houses the museum was once Jane Austen’s home. Walk through the halls, see her writing desk, sit in the garden and peruse the well stock gift shop. During the last eight years of her life she wrote and edited some of our favorite works here. The building is located in Chawton, England and has a reasonably price entry fee ranging from four to seven pounds depending on the time of the year.

The website had event information and links to other Austen related websites worth checking out. If you can’t make it to England they have a short flash image tour you can watch online; not as impressive as being there in person but a beautiful sentiment.

Visit the Jane Austen’s House Museum online.

Winchester Cathedral

To say cathedrals from the 11th century are beautiful is an understatement. In many cases they are breath taking and one does not need to be from a religious background to enjoy their history. The Winchester Cathedral is located in Hampshire, England and is the resting place of Jane Austen. She is buried in the nave “close to familiar acquaintances”.

The website makes two small mentions of her. First, that there is a tomb where she lies; and second, that there is a special tour: “Jane Austen – Her Life and Times” which “offers visitors an intimate and often amusing insight into her life.” You will also find notable historical information about the church, other public tours and directions. Be sure to check out the photo gallery for amazing photos of this architectural beauty.

Visit Winchester Cathedral’s official website.

Jane Austen Center

She lived in Bath, England for five years and many of her novels mention or describe it. While she did not live in residence in this building, it seems most logical that there would be a center dedicated to her. The Center was “created with the guidance of local members of the Jane Austen Society and authorities”. The exhibition’s main focus is the five years that Austen spent here. The gift shop offers all the usual Jane Austen paraphernalia including period costumes (or patterns to make your own).

The website offers the latest tourist information (including tours), a monthly newsletter that can be read online or delivered by email, and a bit of historical information like famous people from Regency society.

Visit the Jane Austen Center online.

Have a look at these locations on the Google map:
View Jane Austen Architecture in a larger map

This piece was originally posted on 5/13/2009 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

Books About Jane Austen

Jane Austen lived only forty-one years and wrote only six books. Every year new fans succumb to the charms of her heroines like Miss Bennet and Miss Dashwood; and heroes like Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley.

There is a segment of admirers who go beyond the works of Jane Austen to yearning to learn more about the woman and her writing. What follows is a list of current books about Austen or her books (not her novels or off shoots). I tried to keep it to the books that are still in print. I hope you enjoy your journey into all things Austen.

40+ Books About Jane Austen

  1. So You Think You Know Jane Austen? (2010)
  2. 34 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen (2009)
  3. Jane Austen and Marriage (2009)
  4. Jane Austen: Writer of Fancy (2009)
  5. A Memoir of Jane Austen: Other Family Recollections (2008)
  6. The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Jane Austen (2008)
  7. In the Garden with Jane Austen(2008)
  8. The Little Book of Jane Austen(2008)
  9. Jane Austen: Her Golden Years (2008)
  10. Jane Austen: Brief Lives (2008)
  11. Jane Austen: Very Interesting People Series (2007)
  12. The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World (2007)
  13. 101 Things You Didn’t Know About Jane Austen (2007)
  14. The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (2007)
  15. Just Jane (2007)
  16. Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels (2006)
  17. Jane Austen in Bath: Walking Tours of the Writer’s City (2006)
  18. Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders (2006)
  19. A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family: 1700-2000 (2006)
  20. Jane Austen in Context (2006)
  21. Jane Austen Miscellany (2006)
  22. Searching for Jane Austen (2006)
  23. Jane Austen For Dummies (2006)
  24. Letters Of Jane Austen V1 (2006)
  25. Letters Of Jane Austen V2 (2006)
  26. Jane Austen’s Philosophy of the Virtues (2005)
  27. Jane Austen and the Navy (2005)
  28. Jane Austen: A Life (2005)
  29. Tea with Jane Austen (2004)
  30. Jane Austen: Critical Issues (2004)
  31. Jane Austen Dictionary (2003)
  32. The Wisdom of Jane Austen (2003)
  33. Jane Austen’s Art of Memory (2003)
  34. In the Steps of Jane Austen: Walking Tours of Austen’s England (2003)
  35. The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction (2001)
  36. Jane Austen and the Fiction of her Time (2001)
  37. Jane Austen and Mary Shelley and Their Sisters (2000)
  38. Jane Austen in Hollywood (2000)
  39. Jane Austen: A Life (1999)
  40. A Jane Austen Encyclopedia (1998)
  41. Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel (1990)
  42. Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (1988)

Given that most of the books listed are fairly recent, it is awe inspiring to think how many books have been printed about Austen and her books since her death. We can’t stop reading about her and we can’t stop talking about her.

This piece was initially posted on 6/6/2009 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

Jane Austen Basics

Beloved for almost two hundred years, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the afterlife of this classic novelist. New editions of her literary works are being released every year gaining new fans and delighting die-hards.

Portrait of Novelist Jane AustenJane Austen was born December 16, 1775 in Hampshire, England. She was born into an educated family with some grounding in society because her father was a priest. She grew up in a household of seven siblings (George, Edward, Henry, Cassandra, and Frank) all of whom were encouraged to develop a hardiness for reading. Her childhood was divided between the rectory and boarding school. Like most women of her time writing was encouraged in the form of journaling and letters but she took it one step further and began to write stories in her early teens as gifts for family members. With their encouragement she began her profession as a writer creating novels filled with deception, love, acceptance, and of course wit.

Jane Austen published four novels in her lifetime. Two were published after her death by her brother. The novels include: Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Northanger Abbey (1817), and Persuasion (1817). Her novels were published anonymously. All of her novels have been developed into screenplays for television and some for movies. The most loved tends to be Pride and Prejudice both in print and on the screen.

Jane Austen died at the age of forty-one (July 18, 1817) from what is now surmised to be Addison’s disease. Her sister Cassandra was by her side. Jane had never married. Her body is interred at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire, England.

During Jane Austen’s life she witnessed some success from her novels but she never could have imagined the longevity and eventual cult following that exists today. She is readily studied by scholars in colleges and universities while the general public continues to scrumptiously devour her Regency works.

Test your knowledge of Jane Austen.

This piece was initially published 4/29/2009 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.