Monday, June 29, 2009


Rare Julia Quinn Giveaway Prizes


What Happens in London by Julia QuinnIn honor of the release of her 19th full-length novel WHAT HAPPENS IN LONDON tomorrow, Tuesday, July 30, the amazing JULIA QUINN is giving away TWO fantabulous prize packs: one book from her backlist, one collectible Bridgerton bookmark, and two extremely RARE coverflats. This is one contest you do not want to miss. In addition, TWO runners-up will receive one collectible Bridgerton bookmark each.

Comment here on this blog till Tuesday, July 30, midnight U.S.P.T., and Ms. Random Selector will choose the four winners whose names will be posted early Wednesday morning.

Julia QuinnWhat is it about JQ's books that we all love so much? Is it the humor? The crackling dialogue? The warm and wonderful people in her stories? The hard, realistic problems that they overcome? The message of hope that people from all walks of life with all sorts of issues can find the Holy Grail: true love? The answer for me is—definitely all of the above. What about you? Why are you such a great fan of hers?

The Secret Diaries by Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia QuinnWhat Happens in London follows on the heels of JQ's first manuscript, published in 2007 and winning the RITA in 2008, The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever. Have any one of you not read Diaries? If so, you're in for a real back-to-back treat.

Those of who've read Diaries, did you think JQ would write Olivia Bevelstoke's story next? As the hero's sister, Olivia was present throughout the first book, subtly adding tension where needed, dialing it down for the heroine where necessary, and tweaking her brother's manner in dire circumstances. I remember being vaguely disatisfied at the end of Diaries that there was no indication of a possible future HEA for Olivia. So, of course, when JQ first announced the opening and closing lines of Olivia's story, there was the first glimpse of her hero Harry and her naughtiness at the end.

What Happens in London by Julia QuinnJQ then proceeded to tantalize us with back cover copy lines, such as: "When Olivia Bevelstoke is told that her new neighbor may have killed his fiancée, she doesn't believe it for a second, but still, how can she help spying on him, just to be sure?" and "Sir Harry Valentine works for the boring branch of the War Office, translating documents vital to national security. He's not a spy, but he's had all the training, and when a gorgeous blonde begins to watch him from her window, he is instantly suspicious." What sort of personality impressions did you form of Harry and Olivia from those two lines and then this back cover copy?

How was your opinion changed by:
this book video trailer, or this soundtrack, or the first chapter?

I didn't have an image for Olivia, she was a bit amorphous from Diaries, but then I saw the trailer. Now, the actress Talia is Olivia in my mind, and I'm rooting for Talia's HEA. (More of my thoughts about JQ's book trailer here.)



As a rough guide to finding kinks in distribution channels, when and where did you pick up your copy of London, if you were able to find it? I was lucky that my Target tends to stock a little, ahem, early (Saturday before). My eyes saw the red cover, my hands shot out and picked up a copy, and my brain just went, "Of course! Gotta have it!" Unfortunately, the area Barnes & Noble are always late with the mass market paperbacks even for mega bestselling local writers like JQ. So on Tuesday, I'll do my bit: Tool around to the stores, drop off a couple Bridgerton bookmarks, and remind them to stock the shelves.

[Video and images are copyrighted by Julia Quinn.]


Sunday, June 28, 2009


Alice Hoffman Tweets Her Meltdown


[Edit 6/29 7:30am: Hoffman deleted her Twitter account. Tweet-by-tweet screenshots are available via Gawker.]

This is a good example of What.Not.To.Do when a writer is introduced to a negative critique of his or her work.

One Roberta Silman reviewed famous author Alice Hoffman's latest The Story Sisters for The Boston Globe, saying, "...this new novel lacks the spark of the earlier work. Its vision, characters, and even the prose seem tired. Too much of it is told rather than shown..."

To this, Alice Hoffman responded via Twitter with: "Roberta Silman in the Boston Globe is a moron. How do some people get to review books?." She followed this up with: "Now any idiot can be a critic. Writers used to review writers. My second novel was reviewed by Ann Tyler. So who is Roberta Silman?" and "My single bad review in my hometown. This is a town where a barking dog is the second top story on the news." and "Girls are taught to be gracious and keep their mouths shut. We don't have to. And we writers don't have to say nothing when someone tries to destroy us."

Are you cringing yet? Are you shaking your head about how a writer should NOT be responding to a critical review? Because if not, then this tweet will do it: "If you want to tell Roberta Silman off her phone is [phone number]. [e-mail]. Tell her what u think of snarky critics."

Ron Charles, fiction editor for the Washington Post, tweeted back: "@AliceHof Posting reviewer's phone & e-mail address and encouraging hate mail is just plain immature. Write a sharp, witty response instead."

Freelance op-ed writer and critic Edward Champion offers a scathing analysis: "Silman’s review and Hoffman’s disproportionate reaction is the intellectual equivalent of confusing a few droplets of water hitting your skin with a torturous session of waterboarding. Hoffman has gone out of her way to invade Silman’s privacy. And maybe this is a desperate form of publicity or a desperate cry for attention. But I’m with Ron Charles on this. You write a sharp, witty response instead. Or even better, you develop a modicum of humility."

To answer @AliceHof's question about who Roberta Silman is: She's an essayist, short-story writer, novelist, and critic. She's been a recipient of the Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships and won the National Magazine and PEN awards.

[Edit 6/29 11am: The New York Times covered Hoffman's apology forwarded by her publisher Shaye Areheart, an imprint of the Crown Publishing: "I feel this whole situation has been completely blown out of proportion. Of course, I was dismayed by Roberta Silman’s review which gave away the plot of the novel, and in the heat of the moment I responded strongly and I wish I hadn’t. I’m sorry if I offended anyone. Reviewers are entitled to their opinions and that’s the name of the game in publishing. I hope my readers understand that I didn’t mean to hurt anyone and I’m truly sorry if I did."]

[Edit 6/29 9pm: The LA Times reports Silman's gracious response to Hoffman's allegations: "I wouldn't change anything about my review. I have written many reviews for The Globe and say what I believe, and, in this case, I praised her earlier work, which was clearly better. I'm sorry Alice could not take pride in the good things I said, and perhaps mull a little on the criticism. That is what I have always tried to do when professional people have criticized my work."]


Friday, June 19, 2009


Picture Day Friday


Christianity came to the celtic lands via the Isle of Iona. The island's greatest saint Colomba was responsible for converting the Scottish and Irish peoples of 500 CE and also of sending waves of missionaries over to eastern Scotland and northern england, particularly to the celtic Bretons. Iona Abbey was the See of the early Christian faith in the British Isles.


Thursday, June 18, 2009


HEAs, Heroes, and Chocolates


"I want my own Barack Obama" has become the shorthand for a tall, handsome, educated, well-mannered, eloquent, sensitive, sexy, family-oriented, ambitious, down-to-earth hero with integrity and character for a happily ever after (HEA).

Listen up, American Women: If I were to ever write such a hero, I'd be the laughingstock on the NYC publishers' slush pile. Not even in fiction, can one such as he exist. He may have shades of many of those qualities, but he's not perfect, nor is he immune to missteps and aggregious unpopular choices. No one outside a family can really know what is truly going on within the family, but this family has weathered the rough times by valuing each other and the good times and compromising for the better good of the family. If one must have a role model, none is better than he, not because he is perfect, but because his character stems from how he manages his missteps.

A man may not be perfect, but chocolate can be. Here are two examples: Truffili di Pellegrini and Tammy's Tastings.

What is your definition of perfection in a box?


Monday, June 15, 2009


Home is Where They Understand You


Downtown SeattleMy hometown Seattle is known for its evergreen trees, majestic mountains, temperate rainforests, wilderness backpacking abundance, eleven months of rain, grunge music, plethora of vegan/vegetarian/organic choices, software nerds, our very own Fremont Troll, mind-numbing public transportation battles, and excruciating politcal correctness.

Here are some little known nuggets...

Alki BeachFishermen's TerminalHenry David Thoreau once said: "I have three chairs in my house: one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society." Well, in Seattle, we have lots of single chairs. In his Myth of Seattle Nice, Knute Berger of crosscut.com writes: "We're friendly, but not so friendly as to actually want to get to know each other very much. Being too friendly could result in a restraining order."

Mt RainierIf you value your life, don't you dare ever say: Recycling's a hassle. Be prepared to sort your trash 37 different ways and do it with a sun-break of a smile, otherwise you stand of being accused of planetary death.

Seattle on a rainy dayBellevue might be an up and coming smartly planned city, according to national urban planners, but to Seattleites, it's nothing but that gas-guzzling, environment-killing suburban sprawl on the other side of Lake Washington. (Albeit with a great mall, not that anyone would admit it.)

North Cascade MountainsYou like driving more than biking? What is it with you and the destruction of Mother Earth? Cars aren't meant to be washed, waxed, enjoyed, or shown off. Oil changes and emissions control are performed on the pain of death. Cycling is good for you—leads to weight loss, thereby reducing the burden on the Good Ship Earth. Besides, "if you have a coronary riding up a hill," says Berger, "be reassured that Seattle is the 'Best Place to Have a Heart Attack' according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. So bike it and like it."

Pike Place MarketIn our lauded city, pets are people, too, even if they go on your shoe while clogging up your sinuses and scaring your child into a crying jag. So be mindful—in fact, this makes a good slogan for the city: Be mindful of everything no matter how transitory or miniscule—that the frou-frou doggie under your table on your feet could be a lawsuit waiting to happen if you open your mouth to complain.

What are some of the extreme characteristics of your city? If you've been to Seattle, do you agree with my assessment above?


Friday, June 12, 2009


Picture Day Friday


Since I've been off nursing the head-attack and the neck-attack that necessitated doctor visits, and since I have much adoration and respect for my doctor, I thought this picture would be illustrative of how doctors were deserving of love in the medieval ages.

Red Hot Poker--the use of searing heat to treat a wound.

Red Hot Poker—the use of searing heat to treat a wound. These are three scenes of surgery in the Middle Ages showing cautery as a means of treatment. You can see: the healing of a cataract, the treatment of hemorrhoids, the removal of nasal polyps. Operations like these were frequently performed by medieval surgeons with a fair chance of success.

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