Monday, September 28, 2009

In Memoriam

Editor Kate DuffyThe romance publishing industry has lost one of its greatest advocates today.

In her long career of 35 years, Kate Duffy worked with Dell, Pocket Books, and Paddington Press (London) as a senior editor; editor-in-chief of Silhouette Books, Tudor Publishing, and Meteor Publishing; and editorial director at Kensington.

She was funny, irreverent, and passionate about books and writing. Watch her in action on YouTube. During an interview for A Romance Review, when Lori Foster asked her, "What’s your favorite part of being an editor?", Kate replied "The enormous paycheck. Oh, how I crack myself up. No the answer is—great writing and being the first to read it."

Author Mary Jo Putney says on Word Wenches, "[She] was a legend in the romance industry, known for her humor, her directness, her concern for authors, and her passion for the romance genre." Author Teresa Medeiros on Twitter, "From the very beginning of her career, Kate Duffy was one of the staunchest supporters of romance. She loved it as much as we do. My heart is broken! I adored Kate!" Leave it to the Squawkers to get at the heart of who Kate Duffy was with their interview by Kitty Kuttlestone.

The best tribute comes from Sarah Wendell: "She’s the Julia Child of romance!"

Kate's most famous admonishment to authors was: "Get off the Internet, and write!"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My October List

These are the books I'm looking for to next month:

Captive of the Sin by Anna Campbell

The Most Wicked of Sins by Kathryn Caskie

A Lady of Persuasion by Tessa Dare

Necessary as Blood by Deborah Crombie

Lord Wraybourne's Bethrothed by Jo Beverly

The Lone Texan by Jodi Thomas

The Heart of Christmas by Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick, Courtney Milan

Urgent Care by C.J. Lyons

Sizzling Seduction by Gwyneth Bolton

What's on your list? Any other suggestions for me?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Picture Day Friday

This 7th Century Saxon gold strip carries the Latin inscription: "Rise up O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face" from Psalm 67, taken from the Vulgate, the Bible used by the Saxons.

In July, the UK's largest haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure was discovered buried beneath a field in South Staffordshire by Terry Herbert using a metal detector. Experts say the collection of nearly 1,500 gold and silver pieces containing warfare paraphernalia, including sword pommel caps and hilt plates inlaid with precious stones, is unparalleled in size and worth "a seven figure sum". The above gold strip is part of the haul.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Mocking Bird Poster for Banned Books Week 2009 by American Library AssociationWe make a big song-n-dance about the Freedom of Speech here in America, but Freedom to Read is like a poor relation twice removed. Without the freedom to read, freedom to speak has no meaning. Without the infusion of new thoughts and new ideas, what in the world would you speak about?

Banned Books Week 2009 by American Library AssociationBanned Books Week (BBW) by the American Library Association (ALA) serves to highlight the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books. BBW also stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them. While not every book is intended for every reader, each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what to read.

Banned Books Week 2009 by American Library AssociationSince 1990, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has recorded more than 10,000 book challenges, including 513 in 2008. (A challenge is a formal, written complaint requesting a book be removed from library shelves or school curriculum.) About three out of four of all challenges are to material in schools or school libraries, and one in four are to material in public libraries. OIF estimates that less than one-quarter of challenges are reported and recorded.

Banned Books Week 2009 by American Library AssociationThis is horrifying. In this day and age, when we talk about the advances our civilization has made. WhAt?! WhErE?! Every time we limit access to even one book, we take a giant step back to our caveman days.

This year, BBW will be from September 26 to October 3. Go forth, and celebrate! And read!

[Edited 9/27: A different look at recent banned books: map of the country.]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Popular Romance Conference in Belgium

A Call For Proposals


The 2nd Annual International Conference on Popular Romance

Popular Romance Studies: Theory, Text and Practice

Brussels, Belgium
5-7 August, 2010

The International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR) is seeking proposals for innovative panels, papers, roundtables, discussion groups, and multi-media presentations that contribute to a sustained conversation about romantic love and its representations in popular media throughout the world, from antiquity to the present. We welcome analyses of individual textsbooks, films, websites, songs, performances, as well as broader inquiries into the creative industries that produce and market popular romance and into the emerging critical practice of popular romance studies.

This conference has three main goals:

  • To bring to bear contemporary critical theory on the texts and contexts of popular romance, in all forms and media, from all national and cultural traditions

  • To foster comparative and intercultural analyses of popular romance, by documenting and/or theorizing what happens to tropes and texts as they move across national, linguistic, and cultural boundaries

  • To explore the relationships between popular romance tropes and texts as they circulate between elite and popular culture, between different media (e.g., from novel to film, or from song to music video), between cultural representations and the lived experience of readers, viewers, listeners, and lovers

  • After the conference, proceedings will be subjected to peer-review and published in the Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JPRS).

    IASPR is pleased and proud to announce that the Keynote Speakers for the conference will be:
    Celestino Deleyto, University of Zaragoza, Spain
    Lynne Pearce, Lancaster University, UK
    Pamela Regis, McDaniel College, USA

    Please submit proposals by January 1, 2010. Direct questions to:

    We are currently pursuing funds to help defray the cost of travel to Belgium for the conference. If these funds become available, we will notify those accepted how to apply for support from IASPR.

    (Please circulate this CFP far and wide!)

    Romance Needs You

    Harlequin is running their annual survey. All that positive press that we've been seeing in leading media outlets this year, stems mainly from Harlequin's and Romance Writers of America's surveys. So these surveys are very important to portray an accurate picture of the state of our industry.

    Please do you bit. Take the survey!

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Dan Brown Break

    I'm determinedly plowing through The Lost Symbol despite eye-rolls every few paragraphs and numerous sighs in between. I'm a fifth of the way through and struggle isn't getting the pay-off.

    If historical romances were written with such obvious historical errors and one-dimensional characters, editors and agents would toss is away as unpublishable. Even if someone somewhere made the mistake of publishing it, the author would get reamed by the readers for horrible character and my historians and other historical writers for all the errors that are so obviously the sign of lazy research.

    I lay the blame for this wooden and highly inaccurate story squarely on the shoulders of the editor and copyeditors. They should've hired a research intern. They knew it was bad. They should've fixed it.

    But despite it all, I'm doggone persistent in seeing this book through all its 507 pages. The saints of all religions preserve me and my family so that we may emerge from this unscathed and unscarred.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009


    Ahoy mateys! Today be Pirates Day! Drink up! Yo ho-ho!

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    Picture Day Friday

    Someday I'd like to own a gown like this red one or the green one below. Both are courtesy of Swords of Honor.

    Then again there's this amazing Victorian costume by Leanna Renee Hieber in honor of the release of her debut book The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. She's posing in this picture at DragonCon with author Marianne Mancusi.

    Marianne Mancusi and Leanna Renee Hieber at DragonCon 2009. (Copyrighted by Marianne Mancusi.)

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Who Was First?

    Was it Saint Columba of Iona or Saint Ninian of Whithorn who first brought Christianity to Scotland? The Scottish Parliament revisited the debate today, which is the feast day of St. Ninian.

    South of Scotland MSP Alasdair Morgan brought the motion up for debate today, and it had already been backed by 18 MSPs, calling on Whithorn to be recognised as Scotland's "earliest known centre of Christianity... largely forgotten by a modern generation."

    In 563, Columba, also known as Colm Cille, was exiled from his native Ireland as a result of his involvement in the Battle of Cul Dreimhne and founded a monastery on Iona, an island off the coast of Mull. From there, he and his twelve companions set about the conversion of Scotland and much of northern England to Christianity. Scroll, first-hand accounts, second-hand scholarly writings, relics, and artefacts form the anthropological evidence to Colomba's existence in Scotland.

    In the 8th century, Bede wrote the first account of Ninian as an early Christian missionary among the Pictish peoples in what is now Scotland. For this reason he is known as the Apostle to the Southern Picts, throughout the Scottish Lowlands, and in parts of Northern England with a Northumbrian heritage. Lacking direct documentation, circumstancial evidence puts Ninian in Scotland in 397, well before Colomba.

    However, Colomba claims that southern Scotland was pagan when he started preaching to them. So the case very well could be Ninian came, saw, preached but didn't conquer, whereas Colomba did. For the better part of the following millenium, scholars wrangled over "Who was first?" Now, politicians are getting into it.

    But as with most things, the true reason behind the debate is not validity for the apostles, but rather tourist pounds and dollars.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Why Read a Romance?

    Courtesy of Pearls Before Swine comes a good reason why you should read a romance. A book I highly recommend is Tasha Alexander's Tears of Pearl, a sweeping historical suspense set in Constantinople of the British Empire era.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009

    Happy 3rd Birthday!

    Bluestocking at The ManorThe Manor turns three on Monday, September 14 and Candice Hern's Bluestockings will be celebrating. Join us in the festivities and reminiscings. Prizes and giveaways will be awarded throughout the day, including one from yours truly.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    Fruit of Every Tree

    Apple trees in my backyard. (Image copyrighted.)Robin of Dear Author posted an excellent, thought-provoking blog on bad mothers in romance on Romancing the Blog on Friday. It has generated a lively and interesting discussion in the comments section, too.

    By "bad," Robin means "cruel, abusive, dismissively unfaithful, even violently and sexually perverse."

    The crux of Robin's argument goes thusly: "If Genre Romance is a mirror for larger social dynamics, we know how much pressure motherhood comes with and how complex the dynamics between mothers and children, especially daughters. [...] is it a bit odd how many bad mothers there are in a genre that so strongly validates and celebrates domesticity and fertility? Or is that exactly the point? [...] I wonder whether the mimetic use of the bad mother type is mostly unconscious at this point, a vestige from other genres and other historical moments, or whether it is an intentionally placed element."

    My comment: Those with the most influence usually are in the position of power to do the most damage. Even unknowingly and with the best of intentions, caregivers can greatly hurt children. It's a matter of perspective. What's straightforward, logical, and necessary for the future good of the child can be interpreted by the child as being mean, denigrating, and thwarting their goals. It's a rare parent and child who can safely navigate out of these difficult misunderstandings into a healthy adult relationship with each other. Hence the prevalence, in my opinion, of "bad" parents in fiction.

    At the end, Robin asks the question: Why do you think there are so many bad mothers in Romance and what purpose(s) do they serve?

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Picture Day Friday

    Picture Day Friday this week, has been preponed to Thursday, in honor of those who died in the 9/11 bombings of the twin towers in NYC.

    I visited Chateau de Chambord in the summer of 2001, and it's just as magnificient in real life as it is in this picture. Chambord is located in France's Loire Valley. It was built by Francois I from 1518 to 1547 with 40 rooms, 84 staircases, 365 fireplace, 1,200 horse stables all on 13,000 acres of woods.

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Pointed Historical Fact

    Today is the centenary of the filing of the patent for a modest nursing attachment that allowed a mother or wet nurse to breastfeed an infant in public "without attracting the errant gazes of men," according to Jeffrey Kacirck, author of Forgotten English.

    The inventor submitted a drawing to the U.S. Patent Office of a "buckled, five-strapped leather harness that included pointy metal bra-cups, which held onto the mother's nipples with suction." (ouch!)

    The inventor then went on to promise, "Whenever the child requires nursing, it is only necessary to slide one of the nursing nipples out from the waist and the child can obtain its proper nourishment without the exposure of the mother's person and the consequent embarassement which is often occasioned."

    The U.S. Patent Office, in its infinite wisdom, granted the application on February 15, 1910.

    Re-Reading Georgette Heyer

    Cambridge University is also following suit after Princeton and Brisbane in hosting a conference on critical reading of popular romance. In this case, Lucy Cavendish College will be examining works by Georgette Heyer (8/16/1902–7/4/1974) as part of a series that includes, Virginia Woolf, and Jane Austen.

    10:15 Jennifer Kloester: ‘The Life of Georgette Heyer'

    10:45 Jay Dixon: ‘Heyer and Place’

    Georgette Heyer11:15 Laura Vivanco: ‘”So educational!”, she said. “And quite unexceptionable.” The Nonesuch as Didactic Love Fiction.’

    12:00 Mary Joannou: ‘Heyer and Austen’

    12:15 Sam Rayner: ‘Publishing Heyer: Representing the Regency in Historical Romance’

    12:45 STRUCTURED DISCUSSION: literary value … her place in academic study … her construction of the Regency world

    2:00 Kerstin Frank: 'The Thermodynamics of Georgette Heyer: Variations on the Quest for Revitalisation'

    2:30 Catherine Johns: ‘Class and Breeding’

    3:00 Sarah Annes Brown: ‘Lady of Quality and Homosexual Panic’

    3:15 K. Elizabeth Spillman: ‘Cross Dressing and Disguise in Heyer’s Historical Romances’

    3:45 STRUCTURED DISCUSSION: gender and cross dressing … sexual politics … issues of class and race

    Monday, September 7, 2009

    Eloisa James's Design-a-Duchess Challenge

    Copyright Eloisa JamesEloisa James has come up with a fabulous contest. It's not only a contest with very cool bookish prizes, but there's also the tantalizing unknown of something Parisian for each of the five winners. As if this weren't enough, grown women (and men) get to play with paper dolls to their heart content, with nary a guilty feeling, because this is all for period research. So grab your glue gun and your scrapbooking supplies, and start read these simple instructions.

    Copyright Eloisa James
    Download the Paper Doll & Clothes (designed by the wonderful artist Laurie Manifold), print the four pages, choose a dress and a wig or a hat, and decorate her costume however you'd like! The decorated examples you see on this page (click to make them bigger in a pop-up window), were created by Eloisa James and her daughter. They cut out fancy paper and then stuck jewels on top. You could use markers, crayons, fabrics, ribbons, or photoshop. Anything you'd like!

    Copyright Emily Cotler and WaxCreative
    When your doll dress looks absolutely perfect, write your name on the back of each piece, package it carefully (you can send doll and dress and wig or just dress and wig or just dress), or scan it following very explicit directions, and send your entry and entry form by snail mail before October 15 to: Eloisa James Paper Doll, PO Box 300, Goshen, IN 46527-0300.

    For more details and a FAQ, visit Eloisa's website or the Wax Creative blog.