“Seldom, very seldom does complete truth belong to any human disclosure”

Yohl Ikʻnal, also known as Lady Kan Ik and Lady K’anal Ik’nal, whose name means “Lady Heart of the Wind Place,” (Died November 4, 604) acceded to the throne on December 23, 583, as queen of the Maya city-state of Palenque until she died in 604. She was the first female ruler of Lakam Ha (Palenque).

She was most likely the daughter of Kan Bahla I, who had preceded her, or perhaps his sister. During her reign, her rival Kalakmul attacked twice, but she defeated him. She had at least one son, Ajen Ohl Mat, who succeeded her on January 1, 605 and ruled until he died on August 8, 612.

Emma_Jane_Austen_book_cover

Jane Austen’s fourth novel (after Sense and Sensibility in 1811, Pride and Prejudice in 1813, and Mansfield Park in 1814) Emma was published on December 23, 1815. Austen wrote Emma from January 21, 1814 to March 29, 1815. Instead of using the same publisher as she had for Mansfield Park, Austen went to John Murray, The Quarterly Review publisher. Some of his clients include Lord Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage in 1811 and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859.

Although the novel went on sale on December 23, 1815, as it was so close to the end of the year, the publication date on the title page is listed as 1816. As she had with her previous novels, Austen published Emma anonymously, and the title page reads, “by the Author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ etc, etc.” However, there was a difference in this work: a dedication to the Prince of Wales, who admired her work, though Austen disliked him. She had met him and his librarian, James Stanier-Clarke while visiting her brother a few months earlier. During a tour of Carlton House, Stanier-Clarke wrote that Austen “was at liberty to dedicate any future work” to the Regent.

A few weeks before Emma was published, Austen wrote to Murray, expressing concerns about how her novel would be received: “I am very strongly haunted by the idea that to those Readers who have preferred P&P. it will appear inferior in Wit, & to those who have preferred MP. very inferior in good Sense.” Her fears were somewhat justified, as some of her family liked it, some disliked it, and most thought it somewhere between Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. The public was also ambivalent about Emma and by October 1816, only 1,248 copies had been sold. Only in February 1817 did Austen finally received any profit from Emma, though a quarter of the print run still unsold.

While the plot, form, and technique were not revolutionary, its narrative was. Emma is a “self-deluded young woman with the leisure and power to meddle in the lives of her neighbours” and the narrative “was designed to share her delusions.” Not until the twentieth century did this style of writing have a name: free indirect style (from the French: style indirect libre), which “describes the way in which a writer imbues a third-person narration with the habits of thought or expression of a fictional character.”

Emma though unpopular initially has been turned into films, including Clueless released in 1995. It was announced in October 2018 that there will be remakes of both Emma and Clueless in the near future. The novel was adapted into Jane Austen’s Emma: The Musical, released in 2007.

“Word does not understand NaNoWriMo”

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo) is a month-long challenge to write 50,000 words of any writing style. NaNo began in July 1999 with Chris Baty and twenty others writing novels from scratch, ending on August 1. The following year, a friend built a website for the event to allow several hundred participants. By then NaNo had moved to November to “more fully take advantage of the miserable weather.” That year, there were 140 participants, including some from Canada. That year, a few guidelines – novels must be started from scratch, no co-authoring allowed and novels had to be emailed to headquarters for verification by midnight Pacific Time on November 30. 21 of the 140 completed their novels.

In its third year, thanks to an article in the Los Angeles Times, five thousand participated. With upgrades to the website, participants could now track their progress, and created forums. In it’s fourth year, participation grew exponentially and 14,000 signed up. The participation continued to grow and by 2012, there were 450,000 participants worldwide.

The program expanded to other endeavors. In 2004, the Cambodian Libraries program was established and NaNo gave 50% of its net profits, raising over $7,000 to establish three children’s libraries in different villages. NaNo became a nonprofit in 2008 under the name Office of Letters and Light so that it could also be involved in other projects, including Script Frenzy and the Young Writer’s Program.

Over the years, many authors including Veronica Roth (the Divergent series), Naomi Novik (the Temeraire series), Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved, and The Great Gilly Hopkins) and Janet Fitch (White Oleander) have given pep talks to encourage participants.

Others have created similar projects including the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge launched in 2008 and Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo). Although most book published are genres such as fantasy, science fiction, and young adult, there are a few historical fiction novels, such as Jennifer S. Brown’s Modern Girls published in 2016,

While NaNo is geared toward fiction, there are “NaNo Rebels” who write in other genres including memoir, nonfiction, history, songs, and essays. Some historical fiction projects include: Tara Gabriel’s 2015 novel was “set in Ireland in 1920, which happens to be smack dab in the middle of the Irish War for Independence, sometimes called the Anglo-Irish War. This is the war that broke Ireland into the Republic of Ireland, newly independent at the end of the war, and Northern Ireland, which remains under British rule to this day.” Kate Spofford’s 2017 NaNo project “takes place shortly after the Reign of Terror in France.”

Others, such as Barbara Ridley are working on their on contemporary fiction based on their experiences. Her book is “set in California, early 2000’s, and is inspired by my years of clinical experience working with activists in the disability community, and patients who find the resilience to rebuild their lives after spinal cord injury.” Grace Tierney’s historical fiction, The Light-Keeper’s Diary is about historian Dervla O’Malley discovering Cecil Standish’s 1917 diary written at Castle Cove Lighthouse.

A few have or are working on non-fiction, including artist Celine Terranova’s 2018 NaNo, The Part-Time Artist.

From 2006 to 2017, nearly 400 NaNo novels have been published by traditional presses and over 200 by smaller presses or self-publishing, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and The Beautiful Land, by Alan Averill.