What was to be a brief hiatus of a fortnight turned into a two-month-long break. But now the new year's starting up, and with it I resume my thrice weekly blogs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
First up, is a recap of the year 2013 as evidenced by the first sentence of the first post for each month of the year.
Date: January 1
Title: Happy New Year!
Line: Are you resolute about resolving your new year's resolutions this year?
Date: February 1
Title: Picture Day Friday: Guinevere
Date: March 1
Title: Picture Day Friday: White's Gentlemen's Club London
Line: This gentlemen's club for aristocratic Londoners was established in 1693 in St. James square by an Italian named Francesco Bianco (AKA "Francis White").
Date: April 2
Title: A Brief History of Chocolate
Line: The origin of the word chocolate can be traced back to the Aztec word xocoatl.
Date: May 3
Title: Picture Day Friday: Raja Deen Dayal's Photography
Line: A photograph of the opulent drawing room in Bashir Bagh palace in Hyderabad, India taken in 1888.
Date: June 5
Title: Explaining The Pomodoro Technique In Short
Line: The goals of The Pomodoro Technique, a time management system by Francesco Cirillo, are to "eliminate the anxiety of time" and to "enhance focus and concentration."
Date: July 1
Title: Promotion Tips by Amish Tripathi, a Million-Books-Sold-Million-Dollar-Advance Author
Line: Wellness guru Deepak Chopra says, "Amish's mythical imagination mines the past and taps into the possibilities of the future."
Date: August 2
Title: Picture Day Friday: c.1800 Georgian Pendant
Line: Georgian Gold Amethyst Ruby Emerald Pearl Pendant c. 1800.
Date: September 2
Title: Janeiac Brainiac
Line: The NYT came up with this game to join in the wave of Janeophilia that's been going on in America, the UK, and elsewhere in the world on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Pride & Prejudice.
Date: October 1
Title: MacArthur for Medievalist
Line: A quick note to recognize medievalist Dr. Robin Fleming on her win of the MacArthur Fellowship.
Date: November 1
Title: Picture Day Friday: Last Days of Autumn
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
What was to be a brief hiatus of a fortnight turned into a two-month-long break. But now the new year's starting up, and with it I resume my thrice weekly blogs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Friday, November 1, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
"Emerging writer" is a much nicer term than "aspiring writer," isn't it?
The Missouri Review recently published a highly informative article on advice for emerging writers. I thought it very pertinent to my blog here, so I'm listing some of the points the article made. Do read the article in its entirety for all the details.
You're Talented, but Talented is Overrated — It's not enough to be talented. In fact, talent merely puts you in the "emerging writers" pool. It's consistent hard work that puts you in the "published writers" pool. E.L. Doctorow once sais, "Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing."
Ignore the Clock — Anyone can publish. So publishing should not be your goal, but publishing your best work should be your goal. No one is truly waiting for your masterpiece, so take the time to make your manuscript the best it can be.
Don’t Wait to be Told When to Write — Make the time to write a priority. It's not easy to find the time with our various work, house, and family responsibilities tearing us in different directions. So schedule a specific time every day and guard it with your life against disruptions.
Read More Books — Sounds obvious, right? You read to learn how to write. But how many writers still read? Very few, you'll find. They're too busy writing. However, you need outside input to add stimulus to your imagination and growth as a writer.
You Need at least Three Professional Mentors — Guidance from established writers is gold. They can point out to know what you didn't know you don't know and how to go about learning it. They can help with problem-solving and general advice on career advancement.
Monday, October 28, 2013
A hilarious look at grammar. This comic strip clearly illustrates when who vs. whom needs to be used in a sentence.
If you're asking about the subject doing something, then use who.
If you're asking about the object doing something, then use whom.
Read to the end of the comic to see why in the world you would use whom in the first place. Very funny, but incorrect, of course.
Friday, October 25, 2013
England's iconic red telephone booths are being given a second life as stamp dispenser machines.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
The biggest second-hand bookstore in England, Abe Books, is running this contest on their website: What Literary Character Are You?.
I can't resist quizzes like this.
I am Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. "You are trusting and intensely loyal. You would go to the ends of the earth for your friends and would never betray them."
What about you?
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
If you're a fan of historical fiction, like I am, then I'd like you to consider spending five minutes of your time on THIS SURVEY by the Historical Novel Society.
The survey attempts to collect data on readers' reading habits, purchasing/borrowing habits, interest in history and historical periods and reasons behind them, and types of writing and writing skills of authors. You can then choose to have the results of the survey inboxed to you. If you're a blogger, they will highlight your blog if you give them your address.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Read It Forward asked on their Facebook page, "Do you write in your books?" They then posted the following chart of their readers:
So, I ask you, "Do you write in your books?"
Let me say first of all that I never write in library books. I write a lot in my textbooks. I also underline and highlight. I also tend to write in my nonfiction books. My fiction books have the least writing, usually, it's proofreading marks, once in a while if I'm confused over something or mad at someone in the story, then I write that in.
I have noticed that I read differently when I read fiction with a pencil in hand. I'm constantly aware of every word, whereas otherwise, I would've been enthralled in the world of the story.
I cannot read nonfiction without a pencil in hand. It's a compulsive habit, to commit to long-term memory by scribbling and underlining. I also feel this is necessary to quickly find the salient points when I come back for a second reading or for quick referencing.
I don't dog-ear books, and I make regular use of bookmarks. I have a largish collection of bookmarks from authors, bookstores, etc. I also use postcards and other such stiff cardstock implements that always remind me of some event or someone.
I take good care of my books, because having them sit on my shelves gives me so much joy. I find joy in reading and joy in looking at them, smelling them, touching them, riffling through them. Sigh! Love!
Friday, October 18, 2013
Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), as painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence in 1814, a few months before the Battle of Waterloo.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Are you a fan of the first Duke of Wellington of Georgian and Regency English fame? If so, THIS TOUR presented by Number One London will be a sure hit. The 10-day tour, set for September 2014, will cover London, Walmer, Brighton, Hampshire, and Windsor.
Number One London is a blog by historical fiction authors Kristine Hughes and Victoria Hinshaw. They have led similar themed tours of England before.
The trip will start with "an exclusive guided tour of Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington’s London home, also known as Number One London" (and thus, the name of the blog).
The trip will end with a tour of Windsor's Frogmore House and Gardens and a cruise on Thames River.
The trip also includes an excursion to Highclere Castle, otherwise known as Downton Abbey on the ostensibly thin connection that the owner Lord Carnarvon sat in the House of Lords with the Duke of Wellington.
I'm so tempted to go on a tour with other authors and readers, all fascinated by this history.
Monday, October 14, 2013
I found this marvelous site recently that has videos showing how the various dances of the Regency period were danced. With animated figures, the graphics are basic, but very clear on who's moving and where they're moving to. Have a look at Regency Dances .org! (These are the dances demonstrated on the site.)
Regency dancing is characterised by an impression of lightness and lift, contrasting with the more stylised court dances of earlier times that were slow, heavy, and majestic.
The basics of the steps are as follows:
1. A hop is taking off on one foot and landing on the same foot.
2. A jeté is a leap from one foot onto the other.
3. An assemblé is a leap from one foot onto both.
4. When the foot is off the floor, the toes have to be pointed.
5. Any kind of leaps and hops requires toe landing with the heel then sinking quietly to the floor.
In addition to the above, various different steps are described here with links to videos demonstrating the individual steps (by a person wearing period-perfect clothing): chassé, allemande, drop, waltz traveling, fleuret or bouré, plié, strathspey traveling, balancé, schottishe, rigadon, and so on.
In his 1815 Essay on Deportment dancing master Thomas Wilson offers this advice to dancers on which errors to avoid:
•Making awkward bows
•Shuffling and rattling about the feet
•Looking at the feet
•Bending [sharply] the arm at the elbow, in giving the hand in Dancing
•Holding the hands of any person too fast
•Bending down the hands of your partner
•Bouncing the hands up and down
•Bending the body forward.
Given the complicated dance figures and number of things to remember to do and not to do, I live in fear of ever learning to dance even one dance correctly by heart. Having said that, I did manage to not mangle the steps too badly at the Beau Monde Soirée, I attended one summer. I was wearing my proper Regency regalia, mais oui.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
The Georgian Cookbook of Unknown Ladies is long on meat dishes and short on veggies.
"The handwritten compendium of recipes, which traverses the years 1690 to 1830, was re-discovered by Judith Finnamore, local studies librarian at Westminster Council’s Archives Centre, who believes she was the first to open it in over a century."
Some of the delicacies mentioned in the 300-year-old book, include roast sheep's head, cow heel, calf’s head hash, veal kidney florentine, and mince pies with calves' tongues in them.
"Now Finnamore and her colleagues have begun trying out these recipes themselves, thus turning the compendium of recipes into its modern-day counterpart, a food blog.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Have you seen the BBC TV series Monarch of the Glen? For American viewers, five of the seasons are available in their entirety on Netflix.
The Monarch of the Glen series is loosely based on Sir Compton Mackenzie's Highland Novels. The main storyline is of an urban restaurateur and scion of the laird returning to the estate of Glenbogle in the Scottish Highlands to attempt to restore the estate to its former glory. He struggles against seemingly insurmountable odds, many of which have to do with the eccentrics living there.
The people of this series are what makes it memorable—they are all unforgettably batty in their own unique way. Makes for many hilarious moments, some completely unintentional. Superb acting all around though. Downton Abbey's director Julian Fellowes is one of the secondary characters.
While you may not be barmy, you could still be a modern-day Monarch of the Glen by putting down a spare seven million pounds to buy Balavil House. The house is known in the series as Kilwillie Castle and the 7500-acre lands are part of Glenbogle.
Now, for the first time in 200 years, this estate near Kinguissie in Inverness is up for sale. It has been owned by Allan Macpherson-Fletcher's family since 1790. The estate allows visitors to stalk red deer, shoot grouse and pheasant, and fish for salmon along the acres running from the River Spey up into the mountains of the Monadhliaths.
Some of the amenities of this lovely manor house include ten bedrooms with private bathrooms, central eating, a fully equipped gun room (see above), a 36-foot dining room, and a huge Victorian style kitchen. For detailed pictures, go HERE.
Friday, October 4, 2013
This is the Western Deffufa in the town of Kerma from the ancient Nubian world of modern-day Sudan.
Kerma was settled around 2400 BCE. It was a walled city containing religious buildings, large circular dwellings, a palace, a funerary temple, and well-planned roads.
The deffufa is a structure unique to Nubian architecture. The Western Deffufa is a 164 ft by 82 ft mud brick temple surrounded by a boundary wall. It is 59 ft tall and comprises three stories with chambers inside connected by passageways. Religious ceremonies were performed on top of the temple.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Very unfortunately, the following documentary is only for UK residents. Hopefully, sometime in the near future, it'll come out on DVD, like other of Michael Wood's works, or it'll be broadcasted by PBS.
From the BBC website: "King Alfred the Great fights a desperate guerrilla war in the marshes of Somerset—burning the cakes on the way—before his decisive victory at Edington. Creating towns, trade and coinage, reviving learning and literacy, Alfred then lays the foundations of a single kingdom of 'all the English'. Filmed on location from Reading to Rome, using original texts read in Old English, and interviews with leading scholars, Michael Wood describes a man who was 'not just the greatest Briton, but one of the greatest rulers of any time or place'."
Historian, a trained Anglo-Saxonist, and broadcaster, Michael Wood is best known for his books and programs, such as "The Story of England," "The Story of India," "Conquistadors," and "In Search of the Dark Ages."
The British Library blog talks about the involvement of two of their curators, one conservator, and several of their Anglo-Saxon manuscripts in the project.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
A quick note to recognize medievalist Dr. Robin Fleming on her win of the MacArthur Fellowship.
Dr. Robin Fleming is the chair of the History Department at Boston College. Her area of expertise is Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman England, the millenium following the departure of the Romans. For interest to a potential student: Professor Fleming teaches courses on late Roman and early medieval history, the Vikings, ancient and medieval historical writing, and material culture.
Monday, September 30, 2013
The 2013 romance conference at Princeton University celebrates the romance author in his or her various guises. "One of the most important developments in the popular romance genre in the last thirty years is the emergence of the individual author as a figure of note in the genre and its community."
Possible topics will include:
–Romance authorship and gender
–Romance authorship and the constraints of genre writing
–The author in the romance genre’s publishing history
–Particular authors / careers / oeuvres
–Iconography of the romance author in pop culture
–Romance authorship and translation
–The romance author as romance reader/critic
–Romance authors and their readers
–Romance authorship and digital media
Friday, September 27, 2013
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
I blogged here about how the last Plantagenet medieval king Richard III's remains were found late last year beneath a car park by the scholars at University of Leicester.
At the time, it was unanimously agreed that Richard would be reburied at the Leicester Cathedral. As a result, "Leicester Cathedral has begun a £1m rebuilding project to accommodate the king's tomb while the city council plans to build a £4m visitor center commemorating his life," according to the BBC.
Unfortunately for these plans, the Plantagenet Alliance, which includes 15 of Richard III's relatives, want a York Minster burial, claiming it was King Richard's wish. In other words, a royal argy-bargy brangle! They have challenged the decision of the Ministry of Justice, which granted the University of Leicester the right to dig and thus also the right to choose where to re-bury him.
"Mr. Justice Haddon-Cave said he would grant the review 'on all grounds' but warned the parties against beginning an 'unseemly, undignified and unedifying' legal tussle. He urged the parties to 'avoid embarking on the legal Wars of the Roses part 2'." Heh. Love an erudite person, don't you?
Monday, September 23, 2013
The historic royal palaces of Hampton Court and Kensington offer lectures on various topics during the year. In the fall, here are some of the conservation talks you can attend.
Face to Face with the Emperors
Tuesday, September 3, 6:30–8:30pm, Hampton Court Palace
Eight terracotta Emperors have looked down from Hampton Court Palace gatehouses on important historical events since the time of Cardinal Wolsey in 1521. You will be able to learn more about these remarkable survivals and see them face-to-face on a scaffold tour.
Royal Wedding Dresses
Monday, September 30, 6:30–8pm, Kensington Palace
Learn more about the conservation challenges in caring for, displaying and conserving royal wedding dresses. Following a talk by conservators you will have the unique opportunity of a private view of Queen Victoria’s wedding dress, on display as part of the Victoria Revealed exhibition and learn about the material and construction of this very special item in our collection.
Caring for the Tapestries
Thursday October 17, 6:30–8pm, Hampton Court Palace
Find out from the conservators how our magnificent collection of tapestries has been cared for over the past 100 years.
Friday, September 20, 2013
I just found out that this week is International Book Week, so I'm breaking with tradition and writing an additional post for Friday.
Here's how it goes: Open your current book, read the 5th line on page 52, and share the sentence. I'm adding sharing of the title of the book and the name of the author to that.
Title: The Conquest of Lady Cassandra
Author: Madeline Hunter
Line: "Aunt Sophie has purloined the letter right out of his library, after all."
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Armitage and Heyer in one package is like eating too many sweets. Oh, the joy! His sexy voice and various character roles couched in excellent stage diction make Heyer's words come alive. Her humor carries well, as well as the subtle witty repartee between the protagonists.
Armitage has read three of Heyer's works: Venetia, Sylvester, and Convenient Marriage. If it has to be just one, oh, let it be Venetia. Damerel and Venetia are heartstoppingly lovely.
Monday, September 16, 2013
(Click on the image to see a larger size.)
Hamptworth Lodge Estate is a Tudor-style manor built in Edwardian times (1913—a hundred years ago) by Oxford professor Harold Moffat. It sits on 1,100 acres of New Forest National Park in Wiltshire and is available for sale for 11 million pounds. That comes out to be an expensive 10,000 pounds per acre.
Mr. Moffat, one of the foremost experts in Tudor furniture, tore down the existing Georgian manor on the land to erect this fantastically-detailed edifice. The history of the estate itself can be traced back to at least the 11th century, with various manors built on the site through the centuries.
[Photos courtesy of real estate agents Chesterton Humberts and the Daily Mail Online.]
Friday, September 13, 2013
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Sally Roy of Visual Academy reached out to me after reading my post on unitasking vs. multitasking.
Visual Academy is Online Schools' novel attempt at furthering education and creating a hunger for more knowledge through the use of visual learning techniques.
Sally Roy has done detailed research on the effects of social media (texting and Facebooking, in particular) on online learning of students. She has condensed her findings in an informational graphic. (Please see the image below.)
Roy's research shows that in the general populace, only two percent of the people can effectively multitask. The rest of the people simply perform poorly on all the tasks they're attempting to cycle amongst. Using social media in the midst of homework, studying, and attending online lectures affects short-term memory recall and long-term memory retention. This naturally translates into drops in GPA.
Thus, it clearly shows that unitasking is the way to go; multitasking is just another way of procrastinating.
Roy's mantra, which I support wholeheartedly, is: Want to accomplish more? Do less.
[Online Learning and Multitasking image copyrighted by onlineschools.org and used with permission.]
Posted on: 9/11/2013 06:50:00 AM
Copyright 2006–2017 Keira Soleore (keirasoleore.blogspot.com)
Monday, September 9, 2013
Out of the blue, I blogged on June 19 about two of William Blake's poems: Eternity and Auguries of Innocence. I had picked up a copy of Blake's selected works, and was seized with a desire to share how much joy I was deriving from my reading.
In a case of cosmic coincidence, I found out today that Blake's cottage is up for sale. He lived in this house in Felpham, West Sussex, England from 1800 to 1803.
The home is on what is now known as Blake's Road. It hasn't been on the market since 1928 and is listed for a song at $978,000.
Of his house, Blake wrote, "Sussex is certainly a happy place and Felpham in particular is the sweetest spot on earth," to his friend Thomas Butts in 1801.
You can now experience some of the joy Blake experienced here.
Friday, September 6, 2013
The Hamptworth Lodge Estate is set within 1,100 acres of land in the New Forest National Park.
Click to see a larger picture.
[Image copyrighted by real estate agents Chesterton Humberts and the Daily Mail Online.]
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
A project after my own heart. The 200 Dances Project is looking for seed money to "create historically accurate recordings of the music for 200 carefully researched dances from the English Regency Period."
The music will come out on sixteen CDs spaced out over a few months and will also be available for individual MP3 downloads. The music will be performed by concert musicians experienced in early music, on period instruments, and in ensembles that would've been found at Assemblies 200 years ago.
The project owners, from Winchester, England, also run Regency Dance, an educational website that specializes in detailed information on dances from the Regency era. Visit the website to vote for your favorite dances from the list. Of those, 200 will be chosen for this project.
Monday, September 2, 2013
[Click to see the details—they're hilarious. Illustrations by Peter and Maria Hoey; game by Mary Jo Murphy and Jennifer Schuessler; all copyrighted by The New York Times.]
The NYT came up with the game to join in the wave of Janeophilia that's been going on in America, the UK, and elsewhere in the world on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Pride & Prejudice.
I would like to confess right away that I succumbed, too. I'm the recent owner of a Pride & Prejudice board book—the story in 12 words.
Over the past two decades, prequels, sequels, retellings, fan fiction, switching point-of-view characters around, changing period setting around, zombiefying and vampiring of the stories, and so on have kept numerous writers very busy. The consumption rate of the reading public has been voracious and this year, more and more writers are joining the Janeites.
These two interesting nonfiction books take a look at the phenomenon: Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom by Deborah Yaffe and Global Jane Austen: Pleasure, Passion, and Possessiveness in the Jane Austen Community by Laurence Raw and Robert G. Dryden.
Other than a publishing cottage industry, there have been a spate of other related Jane activities. The most notable among these was Kelly Clarkson's quarter of a million dollars at an auction for a gold and turquoise ring owned by Austen. Unfortunately, the British culture minister refused to allow the ring to leave the country, because he says it's a national treasure. The other notable event was the issuing of the 10 pound banknote with Austen's face on it that I mentioned on August 28.
You can even get Austen-themed teas from Bingley’s Teas by Julia Matson. Wicked Wickham and Mr. Knightley's Reserve are especially popular. And for those of you suffering from borderline personality disorder, Christine Shih uses Austen's works in her counseling practice. More such fan extensions can be discovered HERE.
Friday, August 30, 2013
The Simon Marmion Book of Hours from Bruges, Belgium (c. 1480). Folios 103v & 104 depict the Vespers with The Massacre of The Innocents in Marmion Style, with borders in Fitzwilliam 268 Style
From Wikipedia: "Left page shows King Herod ordering his soldiers to kill the firstborn, with one soldier in the foreground killing the baby of a woman who pleads for its life. Through the doorway onto the courtyard beyond is another soldier doing the same thing. Page on right of gothic style text with illuminated initial letter D with large golden flower device in gold on black. Borders of both pages with decorative flowers, leaves, acanthus, in gold on a deep blue ground with figures of knights, a mermaid, a soldier killing a child, and a seated woman."
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
"The Bank of England is has shown sense and some sensibility after revealing Jane Austen could become the new face of the £10 note." This will go into effect in 2015, and the decision hasn't been made yet.
Monday, August 26, 2013
The Public Library of Bruges, Belgium presents the following documentary-style brief video about its various medieval Books of Hours. The Biekorf branch of the libraryis known for its collection of Cistercian manuscripts from Ten Duinen en Ter Doest has 21 medieval Books of Hours.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Thursday, August 22, 2013
So, better late than never, right? I'm a huge romance reader as those of you who read my blog know. And yet, today's the first day I found out that August has been deemed as the National Read-a-Romance Month.
This movement was led off by Bobbi, who reviews for Kirkus and writes for NPR, mainly, on romance. "I decided to launch an event where romance writers and readers could come together and celebrate this wonderful genre!"
What a great idea! So this entire month of August, three big names in romance have been blogging daily on Why Romance Matters. Check the schedule to find out who's blogging when.
A few highlights by authors that totally reflect who they are as people...
-Barbara Samuel (O'Neal)
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
A seventeenth century dinner party may've included some of these foods.
From the recipe book of Lady Ann Fanshawe, the wife of Charles II’s ambassador to Portugal and Madrid, compiled 1651-1707 (Wellcome Library MS.7113, p.286)
Take 2 pound of Butter, one pound of fine Sugar, the yolkes of nine Egs, a full Spoonfull of Mace beat & searsed [sifted], as much Flower as this will well wett making them so stiffe as you may rowle it out, then with the Cup of a glasse of what Size you please cutt them into round Cakes & pricke them and bake them.
Take three pints of the best cream, boyle it with a blade of Mace, or else perfume it with orang flower water or Amber-Greece, sweeten the Cream, with sugar let it stand till it is quite cold, then put it into Boxes, ether of Silver or tinn then take, Ice chopped into small peeces and putt it into a tub and set the Boxes in the Ice couering them all over, and let them stand in the Ice two hours, and the Cream Will come to be Ice in the Boxes, then turne them out into a salvar with some of the same Seasoned Cream, so sarue it up at the Table.
To find out more about historical food, visit the Wellcome Library's online collection of nearly 20,000 recipes.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Since 1982, the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. The contest's tagline says: where "WWW" means "Wretched Writers Welcome."
The contest was the brainchild of Professor Scott Rice. Sentenced to write a seminar paper on a minor Victorian novelist, he chose the man with the funny hyphenated name, Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, Baron of Lytton (1803-73), who was best known for perpetrating The Last Days of Pompeii, Eugene Aram, The Coming Race, and Paul Clifford, whose famous opener has been plagiarized repeatedly by the cartoon beagle Snoopy. No less impressively, Lytton coined phrases that have become common parlance in our language: "the pen is mightier than the sword," "the great unwashed," and "the almighty dollar."
In his researches, Dr. Rice unearthed this pearl of an opener...
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness." —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
And so was born the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Here are some of the winners for 2012...
The "clunk" of the guillotine blade’s release reminded Marie Antoinette, quite briefly, of the sound of the wooden leg of her favorite manservant as he not-quite-silently crossed the polished floors of Versailles to bring her another tray of petit fours. —Leslie Craven
William, his senses roused by a warm fetid breeze, hoped it was an early spring's equinoxal thaw causing rivers to swell like the blood-engorged gumlines of gingivitis, loosening winter's plaque, exposing decay, and allowing the seasonal pot-pouris of Mother Nature’s morning breath to permeate the surrounding ether, but then he awoke to the unrelenting waves of his wife's halitosis. —Guy Foisy
"I'll never get over him," she said to herself and the truth of that statement settled into her brain the way glitter settles on to a plastic landscape in a Christmas snow globe when she accepted the fact that she was trapped in bed between her half-ton boyfriend and the wall when he rolled over on to her nightgown and passed out, leaving her no way to climb out. —Karen Hamilton
Friday, August 16, 2013
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
All good things come in threes, right?
So, here's this meme that I had first done five years ago.
1. What are the last three things you purchased?
- School uniform tights
- Watermelon and bananas
- Sippy cups
2. What are the last three songs you downloaded?
- None, because I buy CDs, rip them, and put them up on the iDevice
3. Where were the last three places you visited?
- Ocean Shores, WA
- San Diego
4. What are your three favorite movies?
- Pride & Prejudice (2005)
- My Fair Lady
- Jungle Book (Disney)
5. What are your three favorite possessions?
- Red backpack purse
- Black Merrell shoes
6. What three things can you not live without?
7. What would be your three wishes?
- Clean drinking water for everyone
- Compulsory vaccinations for all children
- Happiness for every member of my family
8. What are three things you have not done yet?
- Sold a book
- Read a book that changed my life profoundly
- Read outside the historical and contemporary sub-genre of the romance genre
9. What are your three favorite dishes?
- Nutella (what? that's not a dish? I challenge you to prove otherwise!)
- Chicken Caesar Salad
- BBQ Babyback Ribs (it's only a once a year treat! boo hoo hoo!)
10. What three celebrities would you want to hang out with the most?
- Dalai Lama
- Maggie Smith
- P.D. James
11. Name three things that freak you out.
- Public toilets
- Crunchy cockroaches
12. If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
- A Loyal Friend
13. Name three unusual things you are good at.
- Laughing at every joke (don't believe me? try me!)
- Putting both feet into mouth at the same time
- Meeting the most wonderful people everywhere (not that I have anything to do with it; they just appear)
14. What are three things you are currently coveting?
- Trip to Tibet
- The first sale
15. What are the three things that you like best of the place you live?
- Tall, evergreen pines
- Low humidity
- Snow-capped mountains
Monday, August 12, 2013
Come and take a look at my boards on Pinterest. I have the following ones: Georgian-Regency Britain, Medieval Period, Reading, Beach, and Modern Interiors. This is a new—and so totally fun and cool—hobby for me, so my boards are still evolving.
Friday, August 9, 2013
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
[Photo copyrighted by The Governor's House in Hyde Park.]
What: Jane Austen Weekend in Character
Where: The Governor's House in Hyde Park, 100 Main Street, Hyde Park, Vermont 05655
When: August 9–11, 2013
How: Reservations 802-888-6888 or 866-800-6888
A leisurely weekend of literary-inspired Austenesque and Regency England diversions. And what a perfect location for it: Hyde Park.
Test your knowledge of Jane Austen, her books, and the Regency period and possibly take home a prize. Here's what they have to say about the weekend:
"Each guest will choose to be a character from any one of Austen’s novels. Period dress is optional, but guests will interact in character throughout the weekend. The activities will depend somewhat on the weather and participant interest, but may include a Regency dinner party, an evening of games, letter writing, fencing, English Country dancing, crewel embroidery, tatting, rolled paper decoration, a game of croquet, a very long walk, riding, carriage driving, archery, shooting, fly fishing, and a picnic with or without Colonel Brandon."
How I would've loved to have gone to this. I have the requisite Regency gown sewn in authentic Regency period-style by the mother of a friend of mine. I also have a matching bonnet and reticule; gloves and fan complete the outfit. With the outward clothing and the inward mind stuffed with Austen works, this would be heaven-sent holiday.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Joyce Newman, President of the Newman Group, leads high level media, speaker, and executive presence sessions for top executives, celebrity spokespersons, athletes, and authors. (Note the last!)
Joyce's mantra: "Everyone can be charismatic. We are not born charismatic—we cultivate it in many ways."
Here, according to Forbes contributor Denise Restauri, are the top tips for developing your charisma.
1. Be Self-Confident
If you value yourself and project that, others will value you, too. Be consistent, enthusiastic, optimistic. You don't need bang on your drum, but being quietly assertive, with the self-knowledge that you can handle come what may, gets conveyed very easily to others.
2. Tell Great Stories
Most points are made better through stories than through bulleted lists. Use #1 above, humor, and relevancy to current culture to entertain people and hold their attention.
3. Body Language
It's a simple thing: If you wanted to be approached, be approachable. What that means is make eye contact, smile, shake hands, and be direct while also being warm. Everybody can spot a fake smile at ten paces. Be genuine.
4. Make the Conversation About Who You’re Talking To
A person prosing on about himself is a boring person, but at the same time, people like to talk about themselves. So in order to make yourself be more interesting, make the conversation be about the person you're talking to.
5. Be a Good Listener
This goes hand-in-hand with #4. People can always tell when someone is tuning them out, either from the expression on their face or from the follow-up questions and comments. Since people like talking about themselves, ergo, they like good listeners. So be one. "Listen with interest. Pay attention. Engage. Be empathetic," according to Forbes. Don't look at your cell phone or check out the crowd to see who else is more interesting.
According to Fast Company, "Remember, even Steve Jobs came across as awkward and shy during his first Apple presentations—it took him time and effort to re-create his persona and become one of the most charismatic CEOs of our time."
Friday, August 2, 2013
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
CALL FOR PAPERS: Romancing the Library
Submissions are due by May 1, 2014.
Access to information is at the core of a library’s mission, whether it serves a public, academic, or special library audience. When it comes to romance novels, however, reader demand is often more than a library can meet, with constrained library budgets outstripped by the sheer volume of titles published each year. How, then, does a library decide which titles to purchase? What factors motivate selection or de-selection? How do the explicitness of love scenes and/or controversial subject matter shape that decision making process? Where does the line between selection and censorship lie?
Once an electronic or print title has been acquired, the library must decide where to house it within the collection and how best to inform readers of its existence. A library can create finding aids or subject guides, designate a specialist on the subject of romance, or find other ways to coordinate reference services around popular romance titles. What are the best practices for readers’ advisory and reference for romance? How are other media, such as romantic films or graphic novels, incorporated into reference services for romance novels? Is there a significant enough overlap between those audiences to warrant doing so?
The Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JPRS) seeks articles for a special issue on the intersection between romance and all types of libraries, anywhere in the world. This issue will discuss policy and practice, controversies, patterns and changes in the way that the library profession deals with popular romance fiction and with romance in other media (film, graphic novels, magazines) as well.
Submissions are particularly welcome on the following topics, although articles that examine other intersections between popular romance and libraries will also be considered for publication.
–Collection development policy, practice, and preservation
–E-books versus print books, publisher/vendor e-book check out and geographic limits
–Popular romance in special collections, browsing collections
–Defining a core collection of romance novels
–Censorship of popular romance in libraries
–Romance reference and readers’ advisory
–Romantic films and other media within the library
Submissions are due by May 1, 2014. This Special Issue of The Journal of Popular Romance Studies is being guest edited by Crystal Goldman. Please submit scholarly papers of no more than 10,000 words, including notes and bibliography, to An Goris, Managing Editor, at email@example.com. Submissions should be Microsoft Word documents, with citations in MLA format. For more information on how to submit a paper, please visit www.jprstudies.org/submissions.
Published by the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR), the peer-reviewed Journal of Popular Romance Studies is the first academic journal to focus exclusively on representations of romantic love across national and disciplinary boundaries. Our editorial board includes representatives from Comparative Literature, English, Ethnomusicology, History, Religious Studies, Sociology, African Diaspora Studies, and other fields. JPRS is available without subscription at www.jprstudies.org.
Monday, July 29, 2013
The Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at The University of Liverpool will be hosting the 7th International Conference on the Medieval Chronicle July 7–10, 2014.
Papers are invited in English, French, or German in accordance with the following main themes:
Chronicle: history or literature?
The chronicle as a historiographical and/or literary genre; genre identification; genre confusion and genre influence; typologies of chronicle; classification; conventions (historiographical, literary or otherwise) and topoi.
The function of the chronicle
The function of chronicles in society; contexts historical, literary and social; patronage; reception of the text(s); literacy; orality; performance.
The form of the chronicle
The language(s) of the chronicle; inter-relationships of chronicles in multiple languages; prose and/or verse chronicles; manuscript traditions and dissemination; the arrangement of the text.
The chronicle and the representation of the past
How chronicles record the past; the relationship with ‘time’; how the reality of the past is encapsulated in the literary form of the chronicle; how chronicles explain the past; motivations given to historical actors; the role of the Divine.
Art and Text in the chronicle
How art functions in manuscripts of chronicles; do manuscript illuminations illustrate the texts or do they provide a different discourse that amplifies, re-enforces or contradicts the verbal text; origin and production of illuminations; relationships between author(s), scribe(s) and illuminator(s).
For further information, please email the conference organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, July 26, 2013
How gorgeous is that?! Such finely detailed carvings painted over so painstakingly.
The current version of the Meenakshi Temple was built in 1655, but its long history is mentioned since antiquity in the literature of the 2,500-year-old city of Madurai in southern India. There are nearly 33,000 sculptures on the temple façade, in addition to the 14 gateway towers of the temple complex. The central temple, for example, is a Russian doll-like structure with three temples within temples.
Click on the image below to see the picture in its full glory.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The 1869 edition of The Book of Days by Robert Chambers is made available for free by Hillman.
This day, July 24th in 1801, witnessed this: a train of mules drawing small wagons of stone along a very narrow-gauge railway. This was the first tramway built above ground for the transport of goods. Previously, these were in use only in coal mines.
Certain improvements made in 1800 by Mr. Benjamin Outram [to the original coal mine rails], led to the roads being termed Outran roads; and this, by an easy abbreviation, was changed to tramroads, a name that has lived ever since. Persons in various parts of England advocated the laying of tram-rails on common roads, or on roads purposely made from town to town; in order that upper-ground traffic might share the benefits already reaped by mining operations.
In 1800, Mr. Thomas, of Denton, read a paper before the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in which [...] he proceeded to argue that the use of such tramways would lessen distances as measured by time, economise horse-power, lead to the improvement of agriculture, and lower the prices of commodities.
Thus, increasing the distribution radius for goods and reaping the monetary benefits of efficiency was how the tramway came into being. Transporting people was still many years into the future.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Contrary to the accounts by the Austen family of Jane Austen's idyllic childhood in the warm bosom of her family, it has recently come to light that she was away from five out of the first eleven years of her life.
From three months to two years of her life, Jane was boarded with a nurse in the village of Steventon. She was then brought home till she was seven, at which point she was sent away to school. Despite the practice of Georgian times to send children away to boarding schools, girls were rarely sent until they were well into their teens. It was usually boys who were sent away to schools when they were twelve; fewer girls were sent.
So Jane being sent away was unusual in itself and an anomaly to be sent away so young. What's also strange is that she was sent away to a much inferior schooling than the one her father could've offered her at home. He was not discriminatory towards his girls and offered all his children the same scholarly teaching.
It is now generally believed that her parents, Rev. George and Cassandra Austen, wanted to make room for paying students to be housed at the rectory since they were perenially in debt, so the girls and then some of the boys had to be sent away to school. Eventually, all the boys went away, but the girls stayed home once they were older.
Friday, July 19, 2013
Graduate student of romance fiction studies, Rudi Bremer, indulged in her love of romance novels and shoes by creating an art project, titled "The Sole of a Romantic."
Rudi says, "I've spent the past couple of weeks working on a visual art piece that celebrates my love of romance novels. My work is a pair of high heels that have been decoupaged with romance novel covers (both old skool and recent releases). They are entirely functional and I have plans to wear them ... pretty much everywhere. Essentially, they were for an assignment and will be in a small exhibition/showing."
Sarah Wendell called these shoes "The Most Awesome Shoes in the Universe."
And I have to agree. Take a look...
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire, England will be hosting Europe's biggest historical event, titled History Live! on July 20–21, 2013.
Over 2,000 re-enactors and performers bring two millennia of history to life through medieval jousts, Tudor combat displays, Norman battle re-enactments, Roman soldier parades, Regency wars, falconry, gladiators, and a host of interactive experiences.
Check this one out: "Our Victorian Gymkhana features both ladies and gentlemen competing in a series of relay races that require considerable skill, including the ability to carry a glass of champagne at full gallop (and drink it from the back of a horse!)"
"The BBC History Magazine Lecture Tent brings together some of Britain's finest historians and historical writers, giving visitors the opportunity to listen to talks and ask questions on some of the key moments in England's history."
This is so much fun! I'm totally green with envy at all those visitors who will be able to go to this. Oh, to be able to live on that side of the pond!
[Images courtesy of Point and Shoot Medieval Photography.]
Monday, July 15, 2013
The Mold Cape is a unique ceremonial cape of gold, made during the Early Bronze Age c.1900–1600 BCE, around 3,700 years ago. Made from a single sheet of beaten gold, it was found in Mold, Flintshire, Wales in 1833 at the centre of a circular mounded burial monument known as a barrow. Recent research of the burial site and the grave goods found there has suggested that the wearer of the cape may have been a woman.
[Images are copyrighted by the Trustees of the British Museum.]
Friday, July 12, 2013
Sermons on the Epistles and Gospels from 1787. The title is PRÔNES OU INSTRUCTIONS FAMILIÈRES by Feu M. Cochin.
[Image courtesy of this eBay auction.]
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
The 1825 edition of The Every-Day Book by William Hone is available via Google Books for free perusal.
On this day, August 5th in 1758, it reports this drama at Vauxhall Gardens, London:
A young lady who was at Vauxhall on Thursday night last, in company with two gentlemen, could not but observe a young gentleman in blue and a gold-laced hat, who, being near her by the orchestra during the performance, especially the last song, gazed upon her with the utmost attention. He earnestly hopes (if unmarried) she will favour him with a line directed to A.D. at the car of the Temple Exchanfe Coffee-house, Temple-bar, to inform him whether fortune, family, and character, may not entitle him upon a further knowledge, to hope an interest in her heart. He begs she will pardon the method he has taken to let her know the sutation of his min, as, being a stranger, he despaired of doing it any other way, or even of seeing he rmore. As his views are founded uypon the most honourable priciples, he presumes to hope the occasion will justify it, if she generously breaks through this trifling formality of the sex, rather than, by a cruiel silence, render unhappy one, who must ever expect to continue so, if debarred from a nearer acquaintance with her, in whose power alone it is to complete his felicity.
Talk about pickup lines! They used to be rather convoluted and involved, didn't they? I doubt he met with much success then as he would today, which is precisely, none. Pithy is what he needed to aim for, not to mention, charming. Even smarmy's better than boring.
Monday, July 8, 2013
The Romance Writers of America is having their annual conference from July 17 to July 20 in Atlanta this year. Unfortunately, very unfortunately, I shall not be attending.
There are so many workshops I'd love to attend though. Here, have a look—aren't there many you'd like to sit in, too? As an aspiring historical fiction writer, these are some of what I would've liked to have attended:
Crack the Librarian Code: How to Get Your Books on Library Shelves and on Your Reader's Radar
Two librarians turned authors share how to pitch and market yourself to libraries, book clubs, and reader databases.
Honing Your Pitch
Join a multi-published author, editor, and agent as they discuss their perspectives on how to craft, prepare for, and deliver your pitch in a way that highlights the marketability of your story - and yourself as an author.
It Takes a Village: How Author, Agent, Editor, and Publisher Pull It All Together to Create a Bestseller Debut
Get a behind-the-scenes look at what works and what doesn't when it comes to pitching, titles, marketing, and more from the team that helped launch a debut author onto two national best-seller lists.
Market Like You Mean It: Out-of-the-Box Author Branding that Really Works
Speakers: Stephanie Dray, Angie Fox, Darynda Jones, and Kieran Kramer
My Agent Saved My Life: What a Good Agent Can Do for You
Four popular authors and their agent share tales from the trenches about how having a knowledgeable professional in their corner saved their literary lives.
Publishing Contracts Demystified
Attorney Jon Tandler, who specializes in corporate, intellectual property and publishing law, discusses everything you ever wanted to know about publishing contracts but were afraid to ask.
Show Me the Money!
How much can you really expect to make publishing romance novels, and how soon will you see the money? Join Brenda Hiatt for this workshop about the bottom line.
The Blog that Helped Us Sail Off Unpubbed Island
Speakers: Mary Connealy, Janet Dean, Debby Giusti, Myra Johnson, Sandra Leesmith, and Missy Tippens
Learn how group blogging helped these aspiring authors sail straight to publication.
The Do-Over: Five Authors Dish on Lessons Learned
Speakers: Katharine Ashe, Grace Burrowes, Tessa Dare, Vicky Dreiling, and Kieran Kramer
The Review Game: the Shy Girl's Guide to Getting Noticed
Learn how to get reviewed and create reader buzz about your book. This workshop covers the nitty-gritty of discoverability: how to navigate the landscape of major review venues, book blogs, GoodReads, and book retail sites as well as the ABCs of ARCS, galleys, and review requests.
The Tiny Art of Elevator Pitches
Learn which buttons to punch to take you from the basement to the penthouse and get that coveted request. Come prepared with a pitch of fifty words or less, as Carrie Lofty will be providing on-the-spot feedback to all who attend.
Your Readers Are Out There. Find Them
Speakers: Sheri Brooks, Stella Cameron, Cissy Hartley, and Jayne Ann Krentz
Does Your Query Letter Make the Cut?
Speakers: Margo Lipschultz, Kevan Lyon, and Katie McGarry
A Harlequin editor, literary agent, and Harlequin Teen author discuss what makes an amazing query letter that will grab the attention of agents and editors and give comments and advice on query letters supplied by the audience.
Double D’s: Dynamic Description and Delicious Dialogue
Everyone tends to be better at writing one of the big D's: dynamic description and delicious dialogue. A series of exercises shows how to turn your gift for vivid description into compelling dialogue or your gift for sparkling dialogue into lyrical description.
Emotional Resonance: Elevating a Good Book to a Keeper
Speaker: Tanya Michaels
The more your story emotionally resonates with readers, the longer they remember it and the more they share it with others. Join a four-time RITA nominee for a look at how to capitalize the emotional impact in your book from laughter to fear to tears.
Finding Your Voice
Speaker: Debra Dixon
Spend some time with story guru Debra Dixon for a fresh perspective on exactly what voice is, why voice is both a tool and a gift, and how writers with voice can stand out from the crowd of authors clamoring for a reader’s attention.
From Identity to Essence: Love Stories and Transformation (**My Top Fave)
Speaker: Michael Hauge
Hollywood story consultant Michael Hauge (best-selling author of Writing Screenplays That Sell and Sell Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Manuscript Read) shows why love stories are a writer’s most powerful vehicle for developing character arc. He’ll reveal how love triangles can strengthen your underlying themes, how the rules of romantic comedies can be applied to romance novels, and how understanding your protagonists’ wounds, emotional fears and protective identities will lead to richer, more powerful love stories.
No More Sagging Middles
Learn the reasons why a book's middle sags and how to fix these common problems to keep the reader turning the pages.
Seven Secrets to Writing a Synopsis
Learn a foolproof method for writing a synopsis based on identifying and describing the five major plots points in a romance story arc.
Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts
Speaker: Margie Lawson
Learn how to write visceral responses so smooth and powerful your reader will feel your character's emotions like they're her own.
Whoa, Do I Do That?
Some classic hallmarks of novice writing may be making your manuscript scream "rookie!" to editors, agents, and readers alike—even if you're not a beginner at all. Learn to spot these common practices and address them.
Self Publishing Track
Best Practices and Formatting for Self-Publishing
Speaker: Gerri Russell
E-books Made Easy with Scrivener
Scrivener's more than a writing and plotting software program. Learn quick and easy strategies to get the most out of Scrivener, like exporting to EPUB formats.
Editing Your Self-Published Novel
Speakers: Anna DeStefano and Kerry Vail
Need freelance editing? Two successful freelance editors will discuss various editorial services and how to put together the right team for your book!
Beyond the Basics in Self-Publishing: Audio, Foreign Translations, POD, and More
Speakers: Bella Andre and Tina Folsom
Focus on Amazon
Speakers: Jon Fine, Thom Kephart, and Jason Ojalvo
From KDP to CreateSpace, Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), and author marketing opportunities, find out everything you want to know about publishing and selling books on Amazon from Amazon representatives.
Focus on Smashwords
Smashwords CEO Mark Coker discusses everything you want to know about self-publishing your book on Smashwords.
From Ground Zero to Best-selling Author in Two Years: the Indie Revolution
Find out how Liliana Hart went from ground zero—no fan base, no traditional publisher, and no recognizable name—to best-selling author, selling 800,000 books in less than two years.
Getting Down to the Sexy Nitty-Gritty: a Literary Agent and Publishing Attorney Talk Self-Publishing
Agent Kristin Nelson and attorney Jon Tandler discuss the not-so-sexy parts of self-publishing: contracts, legal issues, working with agents, and developing a hybrid career.
Self-Publishing Chat with Barbara Freethy and Bella Andre
Self-Publishing Roundtable: Marketing
Speaker: S.R. Johannes
Self-Publishing Roundtable: Metadata, Keywords, and Back Matter
Speaker: Courtney Milan
Top 10 Tips for Self-Publishing E-books
Speakers: Bella Andre and Barbara Freethy
A Nose for Love: A Romance Writer's Guide to Smell and Taste
Speaker: Virginia McCullough
Playing Dress-Up: Creating an Authentic Wardrobe for Regency Characters
Speakers: Debbie Kaufman and Gail Marcoux
The Beau Monde
The Grand Tour with Regina Scott
Medical Topic with Sharon Lathan
Regency Underworld with Erica Monroe
Learn to Play Whist with Ashlyn Macnamara
Friday, July 5, 2013
Renaissance, 16th century heart-shaped Prayer Book, circa 1580, gilt embossed leather cover. Attributed to Caspar Meuser, an apprentice and successor of Jakob Krause, the German bookbinder who was the first to use gold tooling and French & Italian designs in his binding. This book was designed for Anne of Denmark, the wife of Augustus I, Elector of Saxony.
This Heart Book, Denmark (1550) is regarded as the oldest Danish ballad manuscript. It is a collection of 83 love ballads during the reign of King Christian III. Shown below is the beginning of ballad no. 43: Store længsel, du går mig nær (Great Yearning, thou touches me).
[Provenance of these images of the books is unknown.]