Monday, November 30, 2009

My Reading List for 2010

This is what I'm looking forward to for the next year of reading. Do you have any other suggestions? [Edited to add suggestions.]

December 2009
"The Maid's Lover" by Amanda McCabe (Undone)

January 2010
"Proof by Seduction" by Courtney Milan
"Chalice of Roses" by Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, Barbara Samuel, Karen Harbaugh

February 2010
"Countess of Scandal" by Amanda McCabe
"Lessons in French" by Laura Kinsale
"Promise Me Tonight" by Sara Lindsey
"The Golden Season" by Connie Brockway

March 2010
"The Chief" by Monica McCarty
"In Bed with the Duke" by Christina Dodd
"Something About You" by Julie James
"Too Wicked to Kiss" by Erica Ridley

April 2010
"The Secret Duke" by Jo Beverley
"The Stolen Bride" by Jo Beverley
"To Catch a Rogue" by Amanda McCabe
"Mistress by Mistake" by Maggie Robinson

May 2010
"To Deceive a Duke" by Amanda McCabe
"One Dance with a Duke" by Tessa Dare
"Sex and the Single Earl" by Vanessa Kelly
"His at Night" by Sherry Thomas

June 2010
"Ten Things I Love About You" by Julia Quinn
"To Kiss a Count" by Amanda McCabe
"Married By Morning" by Lisa Kleypas
"My Reckless Surrender" by Anna Campbell
"The Irish Warrior" by Kris Kennedy
"Twice Tempted by a Rogue" by Tessa Dare
"Tempting Eden" by Margaret Rowe
"The Forbidden Rose" by Joanna Bourne
The Mammoth Book of Regency Romance

July 2010
"A Kiss At Midnight" by Eloisa James
"Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage" by Jennifer Ashley
"Three Nights With A Scoundrel" by Tessa Dare
"Last Night’s Scandal" by Loretta Chase

August 2010
"The Hawk" by Monica McCarty
"She's Gone Country" by Jane Porter

September 2010
"The Devil Wears Plaid" by Teresa Medeiros

October 2010
"Emily and the Dark Angel" by Jo Beverley
"Where Shadows Dance" by C.S. Harris
"The List" by Connie Brockway, Julia Quinn & Eloisa James

December 2010
"The Ranger" by Monica McCarty

Friday, November 27, 2009

Picture Day Friday

The Stables of Broad Campden are typical of Georgian Cotswolds cottages available for rent as vacation homes. What a fabulous place for a Writers' Retreat. Feel free to dream with me...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bookish Gratitude List

Tradition of Pilgrim and Turkey Candle Set by Vermont Country StoreIn the Spirit of Thanksgiving, Janga asked on her blog, Just Janga: "What bookly things are on your gratitude list?"

1. My dearest friends who're also authors and whose books I adore: Amanda McCabe, Anna Campbell, Diane Gaston, Christine Wells, and Candice Hern. In fact, I started out as their fans before we became friends.

2. One word decriptor of Laura Kinsale, the author and the person: Amazing!

Copyright: Dianna @hrdwrkmom.com3. Debut authors who I met at the start of their first books: Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Maggie Robinson, Sara Lindsey, and Vanessa Kelly. Thanks go to Avon FanLit and the Eloisa James / Julia Quinn bulletin board for the introduction to these fabulous writers who're also fabulous people.

4. Authors new to me whose entire backlists I've now glommed: C.S. Harris, Deborah Crombie, Deborah Smith, Jodi Thomas, Kris Kennedy, Madeline Huntr, Julia Latham, Michelle Willingham, C.J. Lyons, Jo Goodman, Susan Wiggs, and Julie James.

Copyright: Dianna @hrdwrkmom.com5. Folks who educate me daily: Jane and Robin of Dear Author, Smart Bitch Sarah, Sarah Frantz and Eric Selinger of scholarly persuasions, Maili, Angela James of Carina Press, Dominique Raccah, Sarah Tanner, Sarah Weinman, Melissa Klug, Bethanne Patrick, and Jackie Barbosa.

6. Romancelandia on Twitter for making it possible for me to have intelligent conversations during my solitary days.

Copyright: Dianna @hrdwrkmom.com7. PJ for her voice of reason, voice of affection, and reviewing voice, not to mention uncommon talent for chocolate-making. Janga for her encyclopedic knowledge.

8. Thanks for my daily source of laughs: Anna Campbell, Teresa Medeiros, Connie Brockway, Christina Dodd, Eloisa James, Keri Stevens, rantyeditor, Esi Sogah, Dave Barry, and Dee Tenorio.

Copyright: Dianna @hrdwrkmom.com9. The Angles, Saxons, Jutes, British Celts, Normans, Vikings, Scots, Irish, Welsh, and the vast British Commonwealth for the Queen's English. Without this rich assimilating language, what on earth would I have ever said?

10. Amanda McCabe for being an all-round good egg, the best friend a person could have.

What's on your bookly gratitude list?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lessons in French

Laura KinsaleOne of my most highly anticipated swag snags at the Romance Writers of America's national conference this year was the excerpt booklet of Laura Kinsale's first book in five years.

Lessons in French by Laura KinsaleLessons in French (LIF, February 2010) is a humorous Regency-set historical in the grand tradition of Regencies of yore. At 480 pages, it promises to do substantive justice to the era.

A light, but emotional read—what Sourcebooks editor Deb Werksman calls "funny and poignant"—it is a significant departure from Kinsale's deeply moving stories that grab you by the throat and never let go till the last word.

And yet from the first two sentences, you know you are in talented hands.

"Lady Callista Taillefaire was a gifted wallflower. By the age of seven-and-twenty, she had perfected the art of blending into the wallpaper and woodwork so well that she never had to dance, and only her most intimate friends greeted her."

By the last sentence of page one, anxiety has set in as you realize this excerpt is only 18 pages long, you're going to get there in a jiffy, and then you're not going to know how you can wait another six months for the rest of the 462 pages.

Lady Callista Taillefaire "Callie"'s meeting with her first and only love of her life—despite three consequent betrothals and jiltings—Lord Trevelyan d'Augustin "Trev" in a public assembly room is everythng to be hoped for: romantic, wry, intriguing, nuanced, and funny.

Lessons in French promises to be another of the Kinsales to go down in history as a work admired deeply and discussed endlessly.

For My Lady's Heart

Laura KinsaleLaura Kinsale is one of the most overlooked, by readers, and highly regarded by critics and scholars, of historical romance writers of all time.

When people talk about Kinsale, Flowers from the Storm and The Shadow and the Star are what they remember. But for me, it's always been For My Lady's Heart (FMLH) and Shadowheart. FMLH is one of the few seminal books that have changed me as a reader.

Every time a historical book is released, online chatter indicates impassioned debates over the historical particulars, whether the author got them right, misused a nuance here or there, or trampled her way into the modern era. There's not one naysayer about Kinsale's research. She not only gets the pulse of the period right, she seems to live it, to breathe it.

For My Lady's Heart by Laura KinsaleIn FMLH for example, you would think Gryngolet was from her own mews, she'd herself donned the armor Ruck wore, luxuriated in palaces in Melanthe's stead, and traveled back in time to witness sword battles from atop a horse.

For the most part, FMLH is a story of a man and a woman in the forest alone. But around them, swirl the undercurrents of political turmoil, emotional blackmail, obsessive love, medieval chivalric thought, and singular people with passionate beliefs.

The prose is extravagantly dark and gloriously uplifting at the same time.

And...the characters talk in Middle English and Old Frnch. For a writer of medieval stories this is the sort of thing that reduces me to babbling incoherence: "WOW! OMG!"

In case you haven't realized, I love, love, love this book.

Have you read any books by Laura Kinsale? If so, which ones are your favorites? What do you think of her books?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor

Diamonds of Welbourne Manor by Diane Gaston, Deb Marlowe, Amanda McCabeFor a 100-year old company, Mills & Boon is very innovative and always setting trends. In rencent, years, the Historicals line has published stories packaged in various forms, in addition to, their main 75,000 "single" titles—connected series, prequels n anothologies, sequels in eBook novellas—this seamlessly publishing in different sizes and formats.

Consider the Diamonds—the anthology as well as the authors of this Regency-set stories. It's a collection of stories, with print novellas to be followed by print single books, for all six children of the Duke of Manning's blended family.

These talented Diamonds are eminently suited to put together a story of close friendships. Some anthologies are a collection of period-related stories, others are thematic, some have a common story premise, or a recurring character or characeristic. Rarely, is there a collection of stories that seems to have originatedfrom one pen, but in actuality from a group of close friends.

Each author deals with a challenge. Diane Gaston has to not only tell the story of the duke and duchess' forgotten older children, but also introduce all the main characters of the stories. Deb Marlowe and Amanda McCabe have the challenge of keeping the entire cost of characters "in character" while revealing more of their personalities and motivations. Their stories have to turn young, sheltered girls, struggling to deal with a devastating loss, into heroines. Dev does it with her special brand of humor and Amanda with her dash and polish.

I loved this series and am looking forward to the next stories that will follow the newly minted duke Nicholas, his younger brother Stephen, and the oldest Fitz-Manning Leo.

To play a guessing game, let me match up the authors with the characters...
Diane with Stephen
Deb with Leo
Amanda with Nicholas
...Only the Diamonds can tell me whether I got this right.

What about you? Have you read this anthology? Who do you think is going to write whose story next?

Monday, November 23, 2009

RWA National 2010

Romance Writers of America National Conference 2010Nashville...where legends are born is the theme of the 30th annual national conference of the Romance Writers of America. From July 28–30, 2010, attendees will be hosted in the swanky Garylord Opryland Hotel AKA Grand Ole Opry (see blog by Romance Bandits for a look inside the hotel and a detailed map for convention space layout).

Gaylord Opryland HotelSpeaker lineup is as follows...
Nora Roberts: Keynote speaker
Jayne Ann Krentz: Awards Luncheon speaker
Sherrilyn Kenyon: Librarians' Day speaker
Sabrina Jeffries: RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony emcee

Best news for the conference...
All RWA conference attendees will have free wireless Internet access inside their hotel rooms. (The $15/day resort fee will be waived.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dimmed Horizons

[Edit 11/24: Harlequin Horizons rebrands itself as DellArte Press. Improved FAQ, rest stays the same.]

Newspapers across the country are scrambling to report an example of how people's voices do carry a great deal of weight. How a successful and well-known business stumbled amidst its 60th anniversary celebrations, resulting in a rallying cry from its customers (readers and bloggers) and its clients (authors and agents), supported by writing organizations, thereby causing the innovative company to attempt to amend their stance a bit. What is hoped for by the company is that concession will cause the furor to die down; what is hoped for by the people is an undo of the entire decision.

I have no original thoughts of my own to contribute here; I was too busy getting myself educated on the various aspects and implications thereof of the Harlequin decision regarding its Horizons business. So instead, I'm going to include links to blogs and discussions by folks far more informed and articulate than I am. A wealth of information is also to be found in the comment threads.

Smart Bitches: Want to Self-Publish? How about Harlequin?, Postmortem

Dear Author: Shortsighted or Farseeing?, Malle Vallik from Harlequin Asnwers Questions, What's In It For You?

Kristin Nelson: Exploitation or Empowerment, And I Thought the Furor Was Bad Yesterday, Harlequin Newsflash

Jackie Kessler: Harlequin Horizons versus RWA, The Day After Harlequin Blinks, Answering Questions, Harlequin Gets Two out of Four

Shiloh Walker: My Take on Self-Pub / Vanity Presses

Karen Harbaugh: Harlequin vs. RWA and a little history

Twitter Feeds: Robin from Dear Author, Jackie Barbosa

Writers Beware: Another Major Publisher Adds Self-Publishing, Two Deep Questions, MWA Weighs In, SFWA

John Scalzi: Writers' Organizations to Harlequin

Absolute Write: Bewares & Background Checks

Rip-Off Report: Horizons

Thomas Nelson CEO: Why Agents are Opposed to Self-Publishing, Responds to Mike Shatzkin

Friday, November 20, 2009

Picture Day Friday

My latest two book aquisitions...

Winter Queen by Amanda McCabe Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady by Diane Gaston

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Much-Beloved Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton copyright by The Enid Blyton Society"That blighted Blyton," my dad would rant when he caught me reading yet another Enid Blyton book. Well, it was only due to my parents' instigation that I introduced to her. They were not a common finding in the public or school libraries. My parents bought a set of books published in England on the advice of friends. They should've been careful with an author who has a backlist of 800 books.

Eight hundred? Yes! In a publishing career spanning nearly 40 years, Enid Blyton (August 11, 1897 — November 28, 1968) published 800-odd books and hundreds of magazine stories and articles. She has sold over 600 million copies and is the fifth most translated author worldwide with over 3,500 translations of her books. Undoubtedly, she was one of the most successful children's storytellers of the twentieth century.

Adventure series by Enid Blyton copyright by The Enid Blyton NetFamous Five series by Enid Blyton copyright by The Enid Blyton NetBlyton's life has finally been turned into a BBC film for the first time in 2009. It'll debut in Britain on BBC Four today (November 16, 2009) at 2100 GMT. Academy Award nominated actress Helena Bonham Carter portrays Blyton in the film, alongside Matthew Macfadyen and Denis Lawson who will be playing Blyton's first husband Hugh Pollock and Blyton's second husband Kenneth Darrell Waters, respectively.

Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton copyright by The Enid Blyton NetSecret Seven series by Enid Blyton copyright by The Enid Blyton NetWhy did the BBC wait for so long to do this? They considered her "small beer" and banned her books repeatedly throughout her life. According to 18 newly-released letters and memos, her books were "second-rate," "lacking literary value," and "Not strong enough. It really is odd to think that this woman is a best-seller." The dim bulbs of the patriarchical media could not conceive of children's literature by a woman author as worthy of mention in their radio broadcasts.

St Clare's series by Enid Blyton copyright by The Enid Blyton NetBarney Mystery series by Enid Blyton copyright by The Enid Blyton NetMy first ever Enid Blyton was Amelia Jane is the Naughtiest Girl in school. The storytelling was addictive as were the characters. I avidly read the entire series. Noddy was next. For most fans, boys and girls, Enid Blyton is synonymous with Noddy as their first love. I, then, graduated to the various fantasy series, like Wishing Chair, Magic Faraway Tree, and a huge assortment of fairy folktales. Tween girls go for the St. Clare and Mallory Tower boarding school series, whereas tween boys go for the Secret Seven, Adventure, Five Find-Outers, and Famous Five. I? I went for everything.

Books by Enid Blyton copyright by The Enid Blyton NetMystery series by Enid Blyton copyright by The Enid Blyton NetBut reading the various farm series was my lightbulb period. I was an urban child, so a working farmland was as far away from my reality as the goblins and elves. However, these books had real people, living real, plausible lives with intricate emotions and stories that had long, sustained plots. I was so swept away by my love, I sat down and wrote my first book in longhand. It was highly derivative and imitative. But it had a beginning, a middle, and an end. The characters had personalities and voice, motivations, strengths and weaknesses, and changed in the course of the book. I was in love with writing!

Five Find-Outers series by Enid Blyton copyright by Enid Blyton SocietyA quick gander via Google reveals that Enid Blyton is by no means forgotten even decades after her death. Many of her books are still in print (and/or reissued) and continue to entertain and inspire children the world over. She encourages her young readers to be themselves and to engage with the world: to observe, explore, investigate, discover, and have fun. A few lines from Enid Blyton's "The Poet," published in The Poetry Review (1919) are apropos:

  "Dear heart
And soul of a child,
Sing on!"

Noddy series by Enid Blyton copyright by Enid Blyton SocietyNoddy series by Enid Blyton copyright by Enid Blyton SocietyTo indulge your inner fan, you can visit the Enid Blyton Society, the Enid Blyton Net, or Heather's Blyton Pages online, or attend the Enid Blyton Day at Loddon Hall in Twyford, Berkshire, England on the second Saturday in May. To buy Enid Blyton books, you can visit Amazon UK, Stella & Rose's Books UK, Navrang US, or eBay Aus.

Have you read any Enid Blyton books? If so, which ones are your favorite? If this was your first introduction to the author, would you now be tempted to give it a try?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Picture Day Friday

"Muses" is a 3-D sidewalk chalk art piece produced by Kurt Wenner in Lucern, Switzerland.

Muses by Kurt Wenner
(Courtesy of Impact Lab)

Favorite Things

To commemorate her 69th birthday on October 1, 2004, actress and vocalist, Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall for the benefit of the AARP. One of the musical numbers she performed was "My Favorite Things" from Sound Of Music. Here are the lyrics she used:

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache, When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.

(Now, if only this legend were true! The lyrics have been lampooned by a nobody and inaccurately attributed to Julie Andrews, according to Snopes. (sigh) Sometimes ignorance is bliss. The story's cute and the lyrics hilarious.)

Auspicious Occasion

On the auspicious occasion of Friday the 13th, nearly a month from my last post, I'm returning back to blogdom with a humorous version of a favorite song. (See next post.) Particularly apropos for me, since my absence here was due to health issues and health issues and more creaky health issues. The less said there the better.