Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Fashions, mais oui!

Today isn't Picture Day Friday, but blogging the day after the Oscars has to include the requisite gowns that I liked and disliked.

Gowns I Liked

Hailee Steinfeld

Mandy Moore

Giuliana wearing a Christian Siriano

Anne Hathaway
From EW From EW

Reese Witherspoon

Jennifer Hudson

Aishwarya Rai

Nicole Kidman

Natalie Portman

Always a class act... Helen Mirren

Gown I'm Most Ambivalent About

Cate Blanchett

Gowns I Disliked

Helena Bonham Carter

Mallika Sherawat

Mila Kunis

Scarlett Johansson

Anne Hathaway

Busy Phillips

Steven Spielberg's Daughter

Gwenyth Paltrow

Virgnia Madsen

And ahhhh... Florence Welch

Friday, February 25, 2011

Picture Day Friday

A gorilla at a British animal park has achieved fame for walking upright on his hind legs like a human. Ambam, a 21-year-old Western lowland silverback gorilla, was filmed strolling about his enclosure by animal researcher Johanna Watson.

Upright Walking Gorilla. Siblings walk upright and father walked upright, too. Evolution in progress?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Respect for Romance

Respect, Romance, and Academic Credentials is a point-counterpoint conversation between Janet Webb and yours truly about how romance can garner more respect, blogged on Jessica Trippler's Read|React|Review.

Book Thongs

[This blog was first published by Romance Novel TV. I'm reposting it here with their permission.]

These book thongs aren’t skimpy covers for your books, nor is there a blush factor in owning one.

A book thong is simply jewelry for your book. It’s a beaded bookmark where the part that is inside the book is a wire or a string, hence the name, and the embellishments hang outside the book above and below the spine.

Book thongs don’t scar the spine; they don’t fall out; and they snugly hold your spot on the page where you last stopped reading. As with all jewelry, they make your books sparkle when stacked together and add beauty to your bookcase.

The sturdy thongs are made of thin, rounded metal wires, crocheted cotton thread, waxed linen cords, leather, ribbon, hemp, or vinyl. The beads are of glass, wood, semi-precious gemstones, seeds, metal, plastic, and Swarovski crystals. Some have quotes and brightly colored designs on them, and all the accoutrements of costume jewelry that you can find in a bead store. If you use impossibly tiny glass beads, you could make the thong out of them, too. The basic idea being that the thong should be thin enough to not damage a book.

Book thongs are easy to make and are great handmade gifts to give to the readers you know. They can be included with books, as party favors, hostess gifts, souvenirs… The list is endless, as is the creativity that can be brought to such a simple project.

You can design your own signature in beads for the bottom portion that you can include in all pieces. You can craft flirty romance-themed pieces, serious non-fiction ones, journaling markers, and funky children’s pieces. Whether you’re a serious jewelry designer, or someone who wants to try making jewelry but is intimidated, this is a fun way to experiment with beads and cords, because you cannot go wrong here.

Start with about two feet of cord and assorted beads, such as this collection on the left. The tools you require are clear nail polish and a pair of sharp pointy scissors. Tie a firm knot at one end of the cord. Trim the excess cord with the scissors and set the knot with clear nail polish. Slide beads onto the cord and tie a knot after the last bead, setting it with the polish. Determine the length of the cord needed for the book and tie and set a knot where the bottom set of beads will start. Add the beads and tie a knot at the end. Trim off the excess and set the knot. The final result could be like this bookmark on the right.

And there you have it. The secret to Book Thongs.

Have you designed bookmarks? If so, what materials have you used? Would you be interested in creating a book thong? To whom would you give it to, and how would you present it?

Monday, February 21, 2011

15th Annual All About Romance Reader Poll

Best Romance
Last Night's Scandal, Loretta Chase
Honorable Mentions
The Forbidden Rose, Joanna Bourne
The Iron Duke, Meljean Brook

Best Contemporary Romance
Something About You, Julie James

Best Romantic Suspense
Naked Edge, Pamela Clare

Best Paranormal Romance
The Iron Duke, Meljean Brook
Honorable Mention
Lover Mine, J.R. Ward

Best Historical Romance Set in the U.K.
Last Night’s Scandal, Loretta Chase
Honorable Mention
Love in the Afternoon, Lisa Kleypas

Best Historical Romance Not Set in the U.K.
The Forbidden Rose, Joanna Bourne

Funniest Romance
Ten Things I Love About You, Julia Quinn

Biggest Tearjerker
Love in the Afternoon, Lisa Kleypas

Best Love Scenes (in a Mainstream Romance)
Wicked Intentions, Elizabeth Hoyt

Best Series Romance
Marrying the Royal Marine, Carla Kelly
Honorable Mention
What the Librarian Did, Karina Bliss

Best Chick Lit/Women's Fictiontie
All I Ever Wanted, Kristan Higgins
The Bikini Car Wash, Pamela Morsi

Best Erotic Romance
Patience, Lisa Valdez

Best Romance Short Story
"Here There Be Monsters" in Burning Up, Meljean Brook

Guiltiest Pleasure Romance
Lover Mine, J.R. Ward

Best Debut Author
Rose Lerner

Best Romance Hero
Leo Hathaway in Married by Morning, Lisa Kleypas

Best Romance Heroine
Olivia Wingate-Carsington in Last Night’s Scandal by Loretta Chase
Honorable Mentions
Margeurite de Fleurignac in The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne
Beatrix Hathaway in Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Most Tortured Hero
Captain Christopher Phelan in Love in the Afternoon, Lisa Kleypas
Honorable Mention
Malkom Slaine in Demon from the Dark, Kresley Cole

Most Kickass Heroine
Elena Deveraux in Archangel's Kiss, Nalini Singh

Best Romance Couple
Olivia Wingate-Carsington and Peregrine Dalmay Earl of Lisle in Last Night's Scandal, Loretta Chase

Most Disappointing Romance
Patience, Lisa Valdez

Friday, February 18, 2011

Picture Day Friday

Fast food vendor jumping across trains, overflowing with passengers returning from pilgrimage, to ply his wares in India. Image copyright

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

International Conference on Popular Romance


The Third Annual International Conference on Popular Romance

Can’t Buy Me Love?
Sex, Money, Power, and Romance

International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR)
Fales Library and Special Collection of New York University
New York City
June 26–28, 2011


Sunday, 1:00-1:30

Sunday, 1:30-2:00pm
Opening Remarks: Sarah S. G. Frantz, IASPR President

Sunday, 2:00-3:00pm
Roundtable: Boundaries and Intersections: Romance, Erotica, and Pornography

•Cecilia Tan (author, editor, publisher)

Sunday, 3:00-3:30pm

Sunday, 3:30-5:00
Formula/Convention/Archetype: Narrative Construction of Romance Fiction

•Catherine Roach (University of Alabama, USA): “I Love You,” He Said: The Money Shot in Romance Fiction as Feminist Porn
•Ashley Greenwood (San Diego State University, USA): Nora Roberts and Archetypes
•Jonathan A. Allan (University of Toronto, Canada): Fetish Commodity of Virginity in Popular Romance Novels
•An Goris (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium): Rape as a Trope in the Work of Nora Roberts

Sunday, 5:00-6:00


Monday, 8:30-9:00

Monday, 9:00-10:30am
Love. Power. Justice?

•Sarah S. G. Frantz (Fayetteville State University, USA): The Rapist Hero and the Female Imagination
•Linda Lee (University of Pennsylvania, USA): The Illusion of Choice: Problematizing Predestined Love in Paranormal Romance
•Jessica Miller (University of Maine, USA): Emotional Justice in the Novels of Jennifer Crusie
•Margaret Toscano (University of Utah, USA): Love’s Balance Sheet: Accounting for the Bondage of Desire and the Freedom of Choice in Historical Romance

Monday, 10:30-11:00am

Monday, 11:00-12:30pm
Love in the Stack: Popular Romance Collection Development in University Libraries

•Crystal Goldman (San Jose State University, USA)
•Nancy Down (Bowling Green State University, USA)
•Marilyn Dunn (Schlesinger Library, Harvard University, USA)
•Marvin J. Taylor (New York University, USA)

Monday, 12:30-1:30pm
Lunch (on your own)

Monday, 1:30-2:30
Keynote Speaker: Laura Kipnis (Northwestern University)

Monday, 2:30-3:00

Monday, 3:00-4:30
Sex, Money, Power: Romance through the Ages

•Hannah Priest (University of Manchester, UK): ‘Hit Cost a Thousand Pound and Mar’: Love, Sex and Wealth in the Fourteenth-Century Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle
•Amanda Allen (Eastern Michigan University, USA): Charm the Boys, Win the Girls: Power Struggles in Mary Stolz’s Cold War Adolescent Girl Romance Novels
•Su-hsen Liu (National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan): Modern Gothic Romance and its Translation in Taiwan: A Case Study of the Chinese Translation of Mistress of Mellyn
•Pamela Regis (McDaniel College, USA): The First Silhouette: Following the Money

Monday, 4:30-5:00pm

Monday, 5:00-6:30pm
The Erotics of Property

•Eric Selinger (DePaul University, USA): Owning the Romance: Crusie, Phillips, and the “Erotics of Property”
•Ann Herendeen (Romance Author, USA): The Upper-Class Bisexual Man as Romantic Hero: The “Top” in the Social Structure and in the Bedroom
•Angela Toscano (University of Utah, USA): The Limits of Virtue, the Limits of Merit: Power, Privilege & Property in Historical Romance Fiction
Monday, 7:00-9:30pm
Dinner (Extra charge)


Tuesday, 8:30-9:00am

Tuesday, 9:00-10:30am
Trading Places: Worldbuilding Romance in Fiction and Film

•Jennifer Kloester (University of Melbourne, Australia): Creating a Genre: The Power of Georgette Heyer’s Regency Novels
•Susan M. Kroeg (Eastern Kentucky University, USA): Regency World-Building, History, and the End(s) of Romance
•Betty Kaklamanidou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece): The Absence of Sex and Money in the Contemporary Rom Com. Fact or Fiction?
•Jayashree Kamble (University of Minnesota): Temptation and the Big Apple: Bollywood romance goes West in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna

Tuesday, 10:30-11:00am

Tuesday, 11:00-12:30pm
Money Changes Everything; or, Does It?

•Federica Balducci (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand): Love on a Shoestring: Romance, Recession and Consumer Culture in Italian Chick Lit
•Elena Oliete-Aldea (University of Zaragoza, Spain): Greed is Good, but Love is Better: the Influence of Economy on Romance in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street Films
•Beatriz Oria (University of Zaragoza, Spain): Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend: The Representation of Romantic Love In Sex and the City
•Antonia Losano (Middlebury College, USA): Value for Virtue in Multiple-Romance Narrative Romance

Tuesday, 12:30-1:30
Lunch (on your own

Tuesday, 1:30-3:00pm
Queering the Romantic Heroine: Where Her Power Lies

•Katherine E. Lynch (SUNY Rockland): One Small Step for Romance: The Evolution of the Queer Female Hero
•Ruth Sternglantz (Editor, Bold Strokes Books): Where the Wild Things Are: Contemporary Lesbian Romance and the Undomesticated Queer Hero
•Lynda Sandoval (Author): The Queer Heroine as a Re-imagined Reflection
•Len Barot/Radclyffe (Romance Author, Editor, and Publisher, Bold Strokes Books): Queering the Alpha

Tuesday, 3:00-3:30pm

Tuesday, 3:30-4:30pm
Final Roundtable

Two Pieces

The Dunes of Friendship, a narrative travel article about one American woman's solo journey through Morocco, has been published by the Santa Barbara Chronicle.

Comments on Lynne Truss's humorous book on punctuation Eats, Shoots and Leaves have been published by the Los Angeles Chronicle.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf has famously written, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." While her essay resulting from that seminal line is an argument for both a literal and figural space for women writers within a literary tradition, I’ll take her statement even more literally: A woman writer needs a room of her own.

Some writers find it crucial to have a room far from the madding crowds in order to produce any quality work. Has this been your experience? If you've ever used a writing loft or rented a place to use as a writing room—either alone or with others—then your experience will resonate with mine.

I have tried writing in a coffee shop, but the ambient noise—at a near shout—made it impossible for me to concentrate.

I have tried sitting on the couch in our family room with a laptop. After 15 minutes, my wrists and neck hurt, and the touchpad mouse got difficult to use. Even after stretching and walking about and returning to write, a few minutes later, it’s the same result.

Settling on the breakfast table by the large windows, I thought, an occasional look outside at the yard and the forest beyond would prove to be soothing and inspirational. Wrong! The phone keeps ringing. My family keeps on interrupting: “Where is this?” “What do you think of that?”

I have tried sitting on the bed with the door closed. Now, at last I would have peace and quiet and a warm, comfortable spot. Well, it turns out it was too warm and too comfortable. I’m writing steadily for a while but then start feeling very sleepy. So in the short term, it’s a good solution, but it’s unworkable for anything more than 30–45 minutes.

The last place I finally tried was the barely furnished bonus room upstairs. It was located on one end of the house and with the door shut was nearly soundproof. A sign on the door kept the family out and the desk and chair meant that my arms and body were supported in the right position for hours of pain-free writing. My fingers few over the keyboard as my mind concentrated on my story. It wasn't fancy, the view outside the window wasn't great and the heater didn't work very well. But it was quiet, isolated, and I didn't have to drive to get there. It was heaven.

The room is much more comfortable now, with two 60-inch wide tables, a color printer, a sound system, zillion bookcases, a chaise (mais oui!), and a rug. I also have the requisite fuzzy slippers, fleece rug, and cardigan to ward off the cold. But best of all, I have it completely to myself for a few hours everyday.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Picture Day Friday 2

What would you like for Valentine's Day?

How about Mr. Darcy?

Visit MellyMo's Etsy Store to purchase your very own Colin Firth paper doll.

(Thanks to AustenProse for the link.)

Picture Day Friday

Individual images are in the public domain. Collage is by Keira Soleore.

My favorite historical heroes: Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice, Ioan Gruffudd as William Wilberforce in Amazing Grace, Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton in North & South, and Rupert Penry-Jones at Captain Wentworth in Persuasion.

Interesting aside: Three of them, except Gruffudd, have played starring roles in BBC's drama series Spooks / MI-5. Is it Ioan's turn next?

[Individual images are in the public domain. Collage is by me.]

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Happy Birth Anniversary, Regency!

Prinny, the Prince RegentSaturday, February 5 or 6, 1811 was the day the Prince of Wales, popularly known as Prinny, who was to become King George IV in 1820, officially became Prince Regent, thereby launching the nine-year Regency era.

The date in question is debatable. Some researchers claim it was the 5th, equally vocal dissenters claim it was the 6th. The Regency Act, known officially as the Care of King During his Illness etc. 1811 Act was passed by both houses of the parliament on the 5th. On the 6th the Prince of Wales took the oaths by which he became Regent. He was also required to provide the required certificate of church service attendance and communion participation.

Celebrate 200 years of Regency and Romance on the Harlequin Blog!Harlequin is celebrating the event with blog posts all month long by various Regency authors.

Author Diane Gaston blogged about it on the Risky Regencies. Kathryn Kane wrote about it in superb detail on Regency Redingote.

From author Nicola Cornick: "If you are in the UK, the Brighton Pavilion is running an amazing exhibition for the rest of the year called Dress for Excess, which displays fashions of the late Georgian period, exploring themes from the Regent’s life and the stylistic influences on the period. The exhibition shows items of dress the Regent wore, including ... George’s extravagant coronation robe, on loan from Madame Tussauds."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Riskies Meme

Author Carolyn Jewel posted a blog meme on the Risky Regencies on February 4th. I'm posting my answers here:

Answer or complete the following questions in comments, or at your blog and leave a link to your blog in a comment:

1. When I think of Mr. Darcy, he...
is smiling tenderly at Lizzie as she frowns while reading in full concentration.

2. Lord Masterful greets YOU at a ball. You look down to see what he's staring at and discover...
your right sleeve's fallen down and a lot more of your bosom's on show than you'd intended.

3. One of my favorite Regency-set novels is...
An Arranged Marriage by Jo Beverley.

4. If you could meet Lord Byron, what would you ask him?
How does licentiousness aid in beautiful meter for poetry?

5. You wake up and find yourself in a Regency historical novel. What's the plot?
I've time-traveled to the Regency and am attempting to introduce computers and intranet networking to a team of nobles at Oxford. Our lab is the IT department. Of course, the son of a duke falls in love with me. Duh.

6. A Regency fairy-godmother grants you three Regency wishes. What are they?
I take the aforementioned duke back to my time period. He retains his beautiful Regency manners in the modern world. And we remain blissfully happy for 70 short years.

7. If you could change ONE fact about the Regency what would it be?
Soft toilet paper

8. Napoleon writes you a letter. What does he say?
I'm madly in love with your magnifique rack. Marry me?

9. How many exquisite slippers are in your wardrobe?

10. How do you take your tea?
Hot with sugar and cream

Friday, February 4, 2011

Picture Day Friday

Shabbat Shalom! Thanks to Smart Bitch Sarah for the link.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Emotions and Emotion Coaching of Children

My comments on the book What Am I Feeling? by John Gottman, PhD has been published by the Los Angeles Chronicle.


In the spirit of transparency, I'm writing to say that I'll be commenting on books, not romance and most likely nonfiction books, for the American Chronicle family of online newspapers. I shall not be reviewing the books or critiquing them (in the full sense of the words), instead, I'll be offering my opinion of the books. In addition, I'll be contributing narrative nonfiction pieces and other commentary to the American Chronicle. Occasional commenting on friends' romance novels will continue here on Cogitations & Meditations, including giveaways.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Boke of Cookry: Rose Sauce

Copyright and Robert ShellLast year, I blogged HERE about Þe Bors Hede Boke of Cookry and the recipe for Frytor of Erbys. In keeping with the food theme for this week, here's another recipe...

Rosee Sawse

Middle English

Anoþur mete þat hatte rosee • Nym a poyne of rose leues oþer two & grind in an morter wel & soþþen wyþ milke of alemauns tempre • oþer wiþ milke of cow • & do a lutel wastel bred & lye wel wiþ speces & ayren icolored wiþ saffroun & cast a lef oþur two & soþþen adres

—"Diuersa Cibaria", London BL Add. 46919 and Anglo-Norman recipes from early 14th century

Modern Translation
Another food called rosee: Take a handful or two of rose telas and grind them well in a mortar, and then mix with almond milk or cow milk, and add a little fine white bread, and season is well with spices and eggs colored with saffron, garnish with a petal or two, and then send it forth.

Working Recipe

1/2 cup rose petals, lightly packed
1/2 cup soft breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
pinch saffron, crumbled in almond milk

Almond Milk
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
2 Tbsp honey

rose petals

In a medium saucepan, whisk almond milk together. Warm slightly. Dissolve saffron. Rinse and dry petals; remove white base from each petal. Chop finely. Mix chopped petals with the almond milk and all the remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Serve over roasted salmon garnished with additional rose petals.