Sunday, January 31, 2010

Contest: It Happened One Season

Copyright Avon, HarperCollinsFour stories, four authors, one theme: that was the idea behind the bestselling anthology from Avon IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. Now, Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro, and Candice Hern return to write four stories ultimately chosen by you, the readers, in IT HAPPENED ONE SEASON.

Visit to suggest your story.


It must take place during the Regency social season.

You must include three specific plot points or elements (such as these used for the anthology IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT: (1) a couple meets at an inn, 2) they had met before but not within the past ten years, 3) the whole story takes place within a 24 hour period). Your three ideas could create the theme of the four tales in the new anthology collection IT HAPPENED ONE SEASON.

The authors choose the four finalists.

The readers vote on the ultimate favorite and one lucky winner will see their dream come true.

The grand prize winner will be acknowledged on the dedication page of IT HAPPENED ONE SEASON and receive a $1,000 American Express gift card and a copy signed by all four authors.

Semi-finalists will receive $100 American Express gift cards and a set of personalized autographed books.

February 1 - 14: contest entries accepted
February 15 - 24: authors judge entries and select four finalists
February 25: finalists announced and each of the four story ideas posted for voting
February 25 - March 13: general voting on the four finalist plots
March 14: Winners announced

Fine Print...
Contest is open to US residents only, age 18 or older.

Visit HERE and HERE for more details.

Happy 1st Birthday, Lady Jane!

Copyright Lady Jane's Salon & Hope TarrLady Jane isn't Jane Austen, whose birthday was on December 16. Lady Jane is a romance reading salon held on the first Monday of every month at the Madame X lounge in downtown Manhattan, and Lady Jane's turning one tomorrow, February 1.

As author Lauren Willig writes, "Rather than being a one month wonder, Lady Jane’s Salon has grown from month to month, building up a population of both repeat visitors and friends of friends." Author Hope Tarr adds, "When [we] came up with the concept for Lady Jane's, we anticipated having ten or so attendees each month. In a very short time, we found ourselves filling up the house to the point where many Salon nights are now standing room only."

What a feat after a mere year for founders: Maya Rodale, Hope Tarr, Leanna Renee Hieber, and Ron Hogan. Salons showcase readings by three authors, perhaps some music, chat, drinks, finger foods, and laughter.

Copyright Share the Love organizationTo gain entrée, you need to bring in one gently used romance novel or pay $5 to benefit Share the Love, a charitable endeavor that provides books to non-profit organizations that provide assistance to women in transitional periods of their lives.

So, a very happy first birthday celebration, Lady Jane's Salon. May there be many, many more to follow.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Macmillan and Amazon Kerfuffle

I'm not knowledgeable enough about the publishing industry, the digital versus print book market sale figures, or the business models in place between publishers and booksellers, particularly the deep-discount sellers, to comment on the recent dust-up between publisher Macmillan and bookseller Amazon.

According to the New York Times and open letter from Macmillan, Amazon wants to hold eBooks for its Kindle at $9.99 per pop, presumably to sell more Kindles. Macmillan wants to raise that price to $14.99, because it claims the lower price creates false price expectations in their customers (readers) and will kill, er, negatively impact, the print hardcover and trade paperback markets. I am positive my summation here of the entire problem is cursory and inadequate at best.

However, in all my reading, I was struck by author and blogger John Scalzi's suggestion of a sliding scale for e-book pricing.

So, here's my suggestion for how ebooks should be priced. But before I do that, let me say that I firmly believe that ebooks should be priced lower than print books, just because the distribution costs are almost negligible.

If a publisher releases a book in print hardcover, the corresponding ebook should be priced less than the print hardcover but more than if that book were to be released as a trade paperback. For example, if Earth-Shattering Romance were available in print at $24.99, then the e-version should be available at $19.99.

If a publisher releases a book in print trade paperback, the corresponding ebook should be priced less than the print trade paperback but more than if that book were to be released as a mass-market paperback. For example, if Universe-Rocking Romance were available in print at $14.99, then the e-version should be available at $9.99.

If a publisher releases a book in print mass-market paperback, the corresponding ebook should be priced less than the print mass-market paperback. For example, if The Big Banging O Romance were available in print at $7.99, then the e-version should be available at $4.99.

[Update 1/31/10: Amazon plans to give in to Macmillan's demand.]

Friday, January 29, 2010

Picture Day Friday

Everyone's doing it. Are you?

Even Nora Roberts and Jane Austen are reading LESSONS IN FRENCH by Laura Kinsale.

(Join me here on Monday where I discuss the LESSONS IN FRENCH GIVEAWAYs.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Picture Day Friday

Today's contribution includes two videos instead of the customary picture(s).

The first video covers Cravats, Ascots, and Neckwear through Period Drama with 46 films represented, 118 cravats, and over 80 actors shown within 236 slides.

Films included are: Fingersmith, Firelight, Forsyte Saga, From Hell, Glass Virgin, He Knew He Was Right, Horatio Hornblower, House of Mirth, Jane Eyre 1996, Jane Eyre 2006, Lady Audley's Secret, Lark Rise to Candleford, Little Women, Lorna Doone, Mansfield Park 1999, Mansfield Park 2007, Master and Commander, Middlemarch, Mrs. Brown, Nicholas Nickleby 2001, North and South 2004, Northanger Abbey, Onegin, Our Mutual Friend, Persuasion 1995, Persuasion 2007, Prestiege, Pride and Prejudice 1995, Pride and Prejudice 2005, Ruby in the Smoke, Sense and Sensibility 1995, Sense and Sensibility 2008, Silas Marner, Tenant at Wildfeld Hall, The Illusionist, The Patriot
The Way We Live Now, Tilly Trotter, and Wives and Daughters.

And then there's the famous train scene from the end of the North and South miniseries based on the book by the same name by Elizabeth Gaskell. Features Victorian England and the tug-of-war between the heroine of the pastoral south and the northern cotton mill owner hero.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Carina Press: Call for Historical Submissions

Copyright Carina Press, Harlequin Enterprises LtdA post from Angela James, Executive Editor at Carina Press with a call out for historical fiction and historical romance manuscript submissions...

Hoop skirts, brocade, feathered headdresses, kid gloves, kid slippers, horses, carriages, talk of locomotion (not Kylie Minogue's!), Queen Victoria, cowboys, discussion of women's suffrage, ratafia, corsets, chemises, calling cards, pelisses, peers of the realm, cutthroats, Mary Wollstonecraft, six-shooters, hothouse flowers, wallflowers, parties lit by candles, cowboy hats, bluestockings, hunts, hounds, masquerades, horses, operas and operettas, tours of Italy, grand tours, wars (Napoleonic, Crimean), revolutions (French, Russian)...

Do you love these things? We do, and we want to read more about them—and share them with our readers! Carina Press’s acquisitions team and editors have begged me to find more historical fiction and romance, so I’m putting out the call. If you have a completed historical manuscript, 15,000 words and up, Carina Press would love to see it.

We’re looking for both historical romance and historical fiction (with or without the romance subplot) of any steam level (including none, none at all). Historical Victorian, Regency, Western, turn of the century or whatever other time period you’ve chosen to write in, we’re interested in publishing some amazing historical work. Our submissions guidelines can be found HERE, and we’re working through submissions very quickly, due to the large number of us reading them, so you won’t be waiting until summer (or next year) for an answer!

Clearing up a commonly asked question: What is the difference between Harlequin Historical Undone and Carina Press eBooks? Undone has a very specific word count requirement: 10-15,000. We're looking for 15,000 up. So the two aren't competing in any way, because we don't take less than 15k and they don't take more than 15k!

Want to know more about the people behind the Carina Press acquisitions and their love of all things historical? I asked them to share thoughts about favorite authors, books and just what they love about historical romance and historical fiction in general.

Angela James, Executive Editor:
I love historicals for the things I learn. When I was in sixth grade, I visited the junior high, as a kind of orientation for the next school year. We were all assigned a seventh grade buddy, who we attended classes with for the day. In her history class, the teacher asked, “What was Queen Mary’s nickname?” I was the only one who knew the answer was “Bloody Mary” and that was because of the historical romances I’d been reading (yes, in sixth grade). I got mad props from the seventh graders (upperclassmen!) for knowing that answer!

I adore Julie Garwood’s old historicals and have for many years. They’re some of my very favorite re-reads, and books I will never give up because, even after all these years, they still make me laugh out loud, smile, and fall in love with both the hero and the heroine. Despite historical inaccuracies and what some might call a wallpaper-historical effect, I love them and I continue to recommend them to friends for the fun storylines and relatable characters.

Amy Wilkins, Acquisitions Team:
I love The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig for its incredible blend of adventure, comedy and romance. (Plus it amused me that the hero and heroine are named Amy and Richard—my boyfriend's name is Richard!)

Melissa Johnson, Editor:
I love Kresley Cole's MacCarrick Brothers Trilogy because one of the heroines is actually not from France or the British Isles, and Cole's heroes are all crazy-hot for the women they love. I don't even mind that the brothers are each crazy-hot in basically the same way.

Deborah Nemeth, Editor:
I love the sparkling prose and witty dialogue of Eloisa James. In the Desperate Duchess series she went beyond the typical Regency to the Georgian period, one that I love.

I'd also love to get some historical manuscripts set in the Italian Renaissance and the Tudor/Elizabethan courts that feature political intrigue. The Roman empire between Augustus-Claudius (the setting of the I, Claudius series) would also be good for this type of political story.

I'd also love an adventure story set during the Crusades—perhaps from the Saracen point of view. A romance featuring a troubadour during the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine. I also enjoy the roaring twenties, Paris during the Belle Époque, and England during both WWI and WW2.

Andrea Kerr, Acquisitions Team:
You can quote me: "I admit it: I love historicals for the gowns!"

More seriously, one thing I really like about historical romance is that there is built-in conflict. Relationships between men and women were governed by very different and intricate social rules that simply could not be crossed. So it's believable to me that the hero and heroine in a historical can't be together because they are on different social levels, for example, or because they are unable to come out and say how they feel. In a contemporary romance, it takes a LOT more to convince me that two available people who are obviously attracted to each other can't just sit down and work through their differences and be together.

Gina Bernal, Editor:
I love the emotional depth of Mary Balogh's historicals, because she takes characters to the lowest of low points and yet makes me believe time and again that love does conquer all. Lately, I've been hankering for a good harem romance and love all sorts of unusual settings and underexplored time periods--from Vikings, Romans and Celts to Caribbean pirates and WWII resistance fighters.

Emily Matheson, Acquisitions Team:
I love Eloisa James. Everything she's written. Not only do I love her characters (they're always smart), but I always learn something—be it about politics in Georgian England or how migraines were treated in the Regency period. It's the best way to be educated.

Elizabeth Bass, Editor:
I`d love to find an author who could single-handedly bring western historicals back into popularity!

Jenny Bullough, Acquisitions Team:
Like most of us here at Harlequin, I'm a huge fan of Deanna Raybourn's MIRA historicals, because as much as I love Regencies it's a treat to read historical novels set in the Victorian era for a change! With Carina Press open to any and all eras and settings, I'm always excited to read submissions that are set in unusual or different eras or places—from ancient Rome or Egypt to turn-of-the-century America or WWII Japan, from the Salem witch trials to Renaissance Italy!!

Kymberly Hinton, Editor:
I love Judith McNaught's rich, evocative language because it makes me feel like I'm right there with the characters, and she's the first author who helped me to realize that "reformed rakes make the best husbands." I also adore Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series because she has a rare ability to make me laugh, cry, and jump for joy all in the same book.

For submissions guidelines go HERE. Submissions should be sent to:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Battle of Brunanburh

The Battle of Brunanburh is an Old English (Anglo Saxon) heroic poem from the early 900s CE about the battle of the same name. The battle, which was fought between the Anglo-Saxon kings against Scottish, Pictish, and Viking rulers, succeeded in forging the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms into a unified whole Britain. Aethelstan and Eadmund, grandsons of Alfred the Great, led the English; Constantine and Anlaf led the Scots, Picts, Welsh, and Vikings. The following is the last verse of this heroic poem.

Original Anglo-Saxon

Ne wearð wæl mare
on þis eiglande æfre gieta
folces gefylled beforan þissum
sweordes ecgum, þæs þe us secgað bec,
ealde uðwitan, siþþan eastan hider
Engle and Seaxe up becoman,
ofer brad brimu Brytene sohtan,
wlance wigsmiþas, Wealas ofercoman,
eorlas arhwate eard begeatan.

Modern Translation

Nor was there more slaughter
on this island, never yet as many
people killed before this
with sword's edge: never according to those who tell us
from books, old wisemen,
since from the east Angles and Saxons came up
over the broad sea. Britain they sought,
Proud war-smiths who overcame the Welsh,
glorious warriors they took hold of the land.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson's 1876 Translation

Never had huger
Slaughter of heroes
Slain by the sword edge--
Such as old writers
Have writ of in histories--
Hapt in this isle, since
Up from the East hither
Saxon and Angle from
Over the broad billow
Broke into Britain with
Haughty war-workers who
Harried the Welshman, when
Earls that were lured by the
Hunger of glory gat
Hold of the land.

[Edited 1/15/10: Inexplicably, this post that was scheduled to post on Monday, went live today itself.]

Friday, January 15, 2010

Picture Day Friday

Schloss Bottmingen in Basel, Switzerland is an impressive, beautifully renovated 14th century moated castle and park with stylish function rooms for banquets with 8 to 300 guests. Romantic à-la-carte restaurant, attractive garden terrace, and gourmet cuisine are its highlights. René Gischig, the fully accredited chef de cuisine, indulges guests with pleasantly light, classic French cuisine or Mediterranean dishes. Highlights include: exquisite fish dishes, Vivers lamb, U.S. beef, wonderfully creative desserts, plus magnificent wines from all over the world at fair prices.


Bären Dürrenroth Country Guesthouse in Emmental, Switzerland has 24 rooms and four suites stylishly decorated in the guesthouse Kreuz with a variety of historical rooms and halls for up to 120 guests. Culinary delights are served in the gourmet restaurant Rother-Stube or in the cosy Hornussen lounge. The farmhouse from 1744 is home to the seminar building today. A monument of national importance is now a historic restaurant under the patronage of UNESCO. Buildings dating back to 1752 (the inn), 1806 (the guesthouse Kreuz), and 1744 (the seminar building under monument preservation and fully restored) resound with the three perspectives of history, hospitality, and enjoyment in the midst of the workplace of the Emmental writer Jeremias Gotthelf.


Payerne Abbey is halfway between Lausanne and Bern, Switzerland. It combines Roman art from the 11th century with gothic art from the 15th century.The church itself was built in several stages on the site of the old Villa Paterniaca, dating back to the 4th century: the nave was built in the first half of the 11th century, and the chevet followed soon after, in the second half of the same century. The Roman villa, dating back to the 4th century, was used in the 6th century by Bishop Marius. A second building was then constructed in the 10th century and the St. Michel tower was placed in front of the church, marking the beginning of the complete reconstruction of the abbey, leading to the creation of the monument as it is today. The Abbey Church of Payerne, with its decorated chapiters and early frescoes, is considered to be one of the finest existing examples of Romanesque art. Its grand proportions and the special luminous stones used in the building work never fail to amaze visitors.


Thursday, January 14, 2010


Support Doctors Without Borders in HaitiMédecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has been one of the first aid groups on the ground actively helping Haitians since the earthquake struck unmercifully on January 12.

Every year, we donate sums of money to various organizations around the world as our little contribution to make the world a slightly better place than what it was before. We've supported Médecins Sans Frontières for more than a decade, because we believe in its charter: "independent, impartial assistance to those most in need."

However, the annual donations are for sustaining causes. Disasters of this magnitude require aid of corresponding magnitude.

Flag of Haiti"It is important to give quickly in the Haitian quake because that nation does not have the resilience of prosperous developed nations," says Richard Sylves, a professor of political science at the University of Delaware. "Responders will have to attack the devastation with military zeal. Medical workers will have to be largely self-supportive as they will have to import the vast majority of the equipment and supplies they need to provide even elemental emergency medical aid."

Please donate generously to help MSF help the women, men, and children of Haiti knit their bodies, minds, and lives together.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thinking Blog Awards

While it's the Height of Gauchery to participate in a tagged meme without being tagged, that's precisely what I'm about to do here.

Thinking Blogger AwardThe Thinking Blog started a meme about posting a little something about blogs in recent memory that have greatly influenced your present life.

To participate in the "Five Blogs That Make Me Think" meme, here are the rules...

1. If you get tagged, write a post with links to five blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Proudly display the "Thinking Blogger Award" image on your blog with a link to the post that nominated you. (Here are the silver and gold versions of the award.)

My nominations for the award go to...

Zen Habits focuses on simple productivity. It's about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It's about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what's important, create something amazing, find happiness. It's one of the Top 100 blogs in the world, uncopyrighted, and goes well with anything chocolate.

Teach Me Tonight first opened my eyes to the fact that scholarly studies in popular romance is alive, well, and kickin'. That the blog contributors are brilliant and witty is icing on that academic cake.

Word Wenches is run by a group of highly acclaimed historical romance writers who have amassed a huge number of writing awards in the collective and as individuals.

Janga is an aspiring writer, moderator of the Eloisa James-Julia Quinn message board, researcher, reader, and friend extraordinaire. She has been the biggest influence in my romance reading. Thanks to her I've been introduced to sub-genres and writers I would otherwise not have picked up.

Dear Author by Jane Litte and Robin, Monkey Bear Reviews by Sarah Tanner, Promantica by MagdalenB, and Racy Romance Reviews by JessicaT cover social, historical, cultural, and technological issues tackled by and pertaining to romance novels and the romance publishing industry with intelligenc, verve, and style.

So...I cheated and snuck in eight.

If you were to nominate your five thinking blogs, which ones would make the cut?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Manuscript Guidelines

Basic manuscript formatting guidelines from agent @NathanBransford...

Authors: 12 point font, Times New Roman, double-spaced, half inch indents, one inch margins. Learn it. Know it. Live it.

RWA Celebrates 30 Years

Copyright of Romance Writers of AmericaThe Romance Writers of America invites members to share in the association's 30th anniversary in 2010. Send your RWA memories and a note about what the association has meant to you to Selected entries will run in the Romance Writers Report in 2010.

Do you have photos from the early years? RWA is seeking photos from National Conferences in the following years: 1984 (Detroit), 1985 (Atlanta), 1986 (Minneapolis), 1987 (Dallas), 1988 (Seattle), 1989 (Boston), 1990 (San Francisco), 1991 (New Orleans), and 1995 (Hawaii). Send photos (or JPEGs on CD) to the RWA Office, attn: Erin Fry, 14615 Benfer Rd., Houston, TX 77069. Please identify, if possible, any persons featured in the photos. If you would like the photos returned, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Guest Editor of BBC Radio4's Today

Copyright Random HouseEvery year, BBC Radio4 hands over its Today show programming between Christmas and New Year's Eve to guest editors. On December 31, it was 89-year-old best-selling crime writer, conservative peer, and former governor of the BBC P.D. James's turn. To me, a fan of all things P.D. James, this was a remarkable opportunity to hear the doyennne's voice.

For her program, James interviewed BBC's director general Mark Thompson, pressing him on the future of the corporation and the pay of senior management. "She was scathing about the large salaries being paid to BBC executives, programmes such as Dog Borstal and Britain's Worst Teeth and Britain's Most Embarrassing Pets, and the controversial decision to drop Arlene Phillips as a judge from Strictly Come Dancing, which she said could only be a kind of ageism."

"Baroness James shares what she sees as considerable public anxieties about aspects of the criminal justice system. These include cases of dangerous criminals released to offend again, the difficulty of deporting foreign criminals and the effectiveness of the sentencing available to the courts after a conviction for murder. She discussed these concerns with the Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw."

"[She] asked home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw to look into current police training."

"To investigate the relationship between crime fiction and real crime, she persuaded the former Met commissioner Sir Ian Blair into the studio with fellow crime novelist Lynda Le Plante."

"P.D. James thinks people are less articulate now than they used to be. She left Cambridge girls' school in 1936 when she was 16, an age at which children sat the Leaving Certificate exam. Correspondent Sanchia Berg took exam papers in English from that time to a modern Cambridge comprehensive, Parkside, to see what the pupils made of them."

"One of the ideas guest editor James wanted to look into was the notion of national identity and patriotism. In the National Portrait Gallery in London, historian David Starkey and Sunder Katwala, General Secretary of the Fabian Society, analysed our patriotic past and future."

"James chose some of her favourite poems to play during the programme. Poetry, she believes, is central to British identity and there should be a greater emphasis on bringing poetry to children in schools and opening their minds to the richness of our poetic heritage. The programme featured Philip Larkin reading his poem The Explosion, Charles Causley reading his poem Timothy Winters, Sir John Gielgud reading from Shakespeare's Sonnet 73, and James herself reading Tennyson's In Memoriam at the end of her editor's interview."

Regular Today presenter Evan Davis was clearly impressed. "She shouldn't be guest editing, she should be permanently presenting the programme," he said. I concur wholeheartedly.

[Please forgive the share bookmarklet weirdness below. My code testings skills are very rusty. I can't seem to isolate the problem.]

Friday, January 8, 2010

Picture Day Friday

Thanks to meticulous research by blog reader Sandra Weeks, I can now provide the provenance of the following image that I snagged from University of Florida's site for this post. It is from the Digital Library of the Library of Scotland. According to Sandra, "The pic belongs to the famous Jesse Wilcox Smith who illustrated Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. She died in 1935 so the pic may be in the public domain. It is widely reproduced as a poster."

[Sandra Weeks is on the faculty of Ambleside Academy in England's gorgeous Lake District. The school espouses a literature-based Charlotte Manson program that believes in: the evolution of character as central to development, a curriculum classical in nature, education as the science of the relationship of ideas that engage the whole child in mind, heart, and spirit.]

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chocolate: A Degustation

"A day without chocolate is a day without sunshine.
Life without chocolate is like a beach without water."

Copyright The Chocolate Room IndiaMy intimate relationship with chocolate is no secret to anyone who can claim even a nodding acquaintance with me. So it should come as no surprise that I treated the news of a full chocolate menu café like it was the Second Coming, Nirvana by mouth.

In grand style, all the youngsters (yes, I did get counted as that) headed out one fine, hot, sunny afternoon to The Chocolate Room in the Navrangpura section of Ahmedabad city. There was loud talking and louder laughter in the car with the promise of riches to come and pleasures to behold.

Copyright The Chocolate Room IndiaWith pithy advice, such as "If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves," The Chocolate Room styles itself as a hip cultural bastion of the yuppies and upwardly mobile middle class, not to mention, all tourists.

Copyright The Chocolate Room IndiaCopyright The Chocolate Room IndiaThis boutique café's menu is a veritable choco-haven. With entrées such as chocktails (the non-alcoholic versions though, since Gujarat is a dry state), chocolate pizzas, coffee-chocolate drinks handmade by baristas, pastries, fruit-dipped slices of paradise, pancakes, and crepes, you could visit there for breakfast and stay through the dessert course post-dinner.

Copyright The Chocolate Room IndiaTo fulfil the promise of their mission of "Creating a New Chocolate Culture In India," they offer chocolate appreciation evenings. Yes, really. Unfortunately, nothing was scheduled while I was there, but here's what such an evening would entail: As well as finding about the types of chocolate and its history, you can enjoy a demonstration of the Maître Chocolatiers' craft, a chocolate tasting, and shopping discounts. Chocolate tastings are in the form of hot chocolate, fondue, hand-crafted Belgian pieces, and a finale of a slice of cake.

"I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process...
It may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?"
—Vikas & Kumar, Founders of The Chocolate Room India

Have you had an ambrosial exprience like this one? If not, this may be one of the top reasons to visit India, the Taj Mahal coming in second.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Last Day of Christmastide

A Romance Lover's Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me:
Twelve broadswords brandishing,
Eleven ladies languishing,
Ten princesses a-peaking,
Nine thanes thrusting,
Eight swains a-swooning,
Seven sheikhs a-shrieking,
Six Porsches a-purring,
Five hundred thousand pounds,
Four vast estates,
Three French modistes,
Two brawny footmen,
And a HEA under a pear tree!

[On a hisorical note, while Christmastide is the U.S. refers to the twelve days of Christmas including Christmas Day and the Vigil of Epiphany, liturgical calendars around the world differ wildly. (Christianity is the only religion in the world where the fundamentals are so diverse.) Christmastide according to the Holy Trinity German Church is Boxing Day through Feast of Epiphany. In the Church of England, it includes Epiphany and ends at Candlemas in early February, celebrating the Presentation of Jesus Christ at the Temple, a traditional Forty Days. In the Roman Catholic Church, since Vatican II in the early 1960s, Christmastide runs from Christmas Eve evening to the Sunday after Epiphany, the commemoration of the Baptism of the Lord, after which Ordinary Time begins. Jevohah's Witness and other Reformed and Fundamentalist churches openly reject the entire season.]

The 10-10-10-10-10 Reading Challenge

This year, I'll be taking The 10-10-10-10-10 Reading Challenge. It involves reading ten books in ten categories by 10th October 2010. I'm modifying this ambitious undertaking by reading any number of books in ten categories other than the ones I normally read in with the end date being the end of the year. Also, the overarching aim is to reduce the to-be-read (TBR) mountain.

Copyright Kevin KenooHere are my categories:
—Food as Central Theme
—Biography, Memoir
—Mystery, Crime, Thriller
—Elevating Snobby Fiction
—Mythological Fairytale
—In French
—Writing Craft
—Spiritual, Organization

Have you heard of this challenge? Is this something you'd want to do? If you're already signed up, what are your categories, and do you and I have any categories in common?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Marriage as a Family Affair

Having recently returned from my trip half-way around the world, my experiences with familial relations, where everything about the other is a cultural shock, are uppermost in my mind.

Most traditional popular romance novels have marriage as the Happily Ever After (HEA) goal. In reality, marriage is never simply betwixt two people, but is more a marriage between two families. The more disparate they are, the more problematic and the more complicated the resulting joint family.

It leads me to the conclusion that this is the reason why romance novels frequently eschew parents for their hero and heroine (H/H). While the genre dictates that the focus of the story must be on the hero, the heroine, and their budding relationship, and rudimentary psychology counsels that not having parents in the picture causes the children to mature and grapple with the reins of their lives early on, killing off parents is an easy crutch towards ensuring that.

Take The Proposition by Judith Ivory, for example. It's a historical reverse version of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and the movie My Fair Lady (even down to the heroine being a philologist). The heroine is a duke's daughter raised amongst the ton with all the trappings of wealth and privilege. The hero is a rat catcher from a large, poor, country family in Cornwall. The story ends in the inevitable—and completely, heartwarmingly believable—HEA.

But to my mind these questions remain: Would she invite his entire family to her elegant London townhouse for Christmas? Would she journey cross country to his humble abode for Easter, where he shares his bedroom with five of his brothers? What ever would she have to say to his mother? How would she comport herself in their alien surroundings? How would his mother dress and talk for her morning callers and at-homes in town?

What do you think? What would the heroine do? And what of the original thesis?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Service Announcement

Maintenance in progress. Expect to see weirdness in layout and content as I fiddle with Blogger tools.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Picture Day Friday

Happy 2010!

Kick up your heels and celebrate the start of the new year and new decade!

Copyright CatsPJamas at PhotoBucket