Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Journal of Popular Romance Studies Call for Papers

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 Submissions should be Microsoft Word documents, with citations in MLA format. For more information on how to submit a paper, please visit

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

Monday, July 29, 2013

Medieval Chronicle Call for Papers

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

Friday, July 26, 2013

Picture Day Friday: Meenakshi Temple of Madurai India

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

From 1869: Book of Days by Robert Chambers

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

Jane Austen's Early Childhood and Schooling

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

Picture Day Friday: Romance Novel Covers as Decoupaged Art on Shoes

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

History Live! with Re-enactors in Northamptonshire, England

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

Bronze Age Cape of Gold

Images of the Bronze Age Cape of Gold from Mold, Wales are copyrighted by the Trustees of the British Museum Images of the Bronze Age Cape of Gold from Mold, Wales are copyrighted by the Trustees of the British Museum 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

Picture Day Friday: Beautiful Leather-Bound Books

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

From 1825: The Every-Day Book by William Hone

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

Which RWA Workshops Would You Want To Attend?

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:

Career Track

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

Craft Track

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

Research Track

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

Picture Day Friday: Two Danish Renaissance Heart-Shaped Books

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.]

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Medieval 10th Century Students' Love Song

Come therefore now, my gentle fere is a tenth century medieval student's song. It is marked by an element of tenderness of sentiment in an invitation by a young man to his mistress, bidding her to a little supper at his home.

Come therefore now, my gentle fere,
Whom as my heart I hold full dear;
Enter my little room, which is
Adorned with quaintest rarities:
There are the seats with cushions spread,
The roof with curtains overhead:
The house with flowers of sweetest scent
And scattered herbs is redolent:
A table there is deftly dight
With meats and drinks of rare delight;
There too the wine flows, sparkling, free;
And all, my love, to pleasure thee.
There sound enchanting symphonies;
The clear high notes of flutes arise;
A singing girl and artful boy
Are chanting for thee strains of joy;
He touches with his quill the wire,
She tunes her note unto the lyre:
The servants carry to and fro
Dishes and cups of ruddy glow;
But these delights, I will confess,
Than pleasant converse charm me less;
Nor is the feast so sweet to me
As dear familiarity.
Then come now, sister of my heart,
That dearer than all others art,
Unto mine eyes thou shining sun,
Soul of my soul, thou only one!
I dwelt alone in the wild woods,
And loved all secret solitudes;
Oft would I fly from tumults far,
And shunned where crowds of people are.
O dearest, do not longer stay!
Seek we to live and love to-day!
I cannot live without thee, sweet!
Time bids us now our love complete.


A Source Book of Mediaeval History: Documents Illustrative of European Life and Institutions from the German Invasions to the Renaissance, edited by Frederic Austin Ogg (New York, 1907), reprinted by Cooper Square Publishers (New York, 1972), pp. 351-359. Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, California State University, Fullerton.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Promotion Tips by Amish Tripathi, a Million-Books-Sold-Million-Dollar-Advance Author

Wellness guru Deepak Chopra says, "Amish's mythical imagination mines the past and taps into the possibilities of the future. His book series, archetypal and stirring, unfolds the deepest recesses of the soul as well as our collective consciousness."

Last week, I attended a conversation with India-based author Amish Tripathi (writing as, Amish). His Shiva Trilogy is a mythological fantasy continuity series that falls between young-adult and adult books and became a blockbuster hit in India due to his marketing chutzpah. He's known as India's literary pop star.

With a million and a half copies of the self-pubbed trilogy in print and his fame outstripping him week after week, Amish was recently given a $1 million advance (for South Asian rights only) by Westland Books of India for his next series.

Amish has achieved cult status now with fans sporting Shiva Tattoos, as reported by the Deccan Chronicle of India, and wearing embroidered shirts of his book covers.

The Wall Street Journal recently featured an interview with Amish wherein he talked about his rocky road to publishing fame. He was rejected more than twenty times when he shopped his first book around, so he decided to self-publish it.

In the conversation I attended last week, he said that he quickly realized that no bookseller was willing to sell the self-pubbed book of a debut author. "How will a reader then buy my book if he doesn't even know it exists?" asked Amish. "It's a fallacy that a good book sells itself. While good marketing cannot sell a bad book, it can drive business for a good one. So write a very good book first, and market it like mad."

Amish came up with the idea of creating a free sampler: He bound the first chapter of his book in the same cover as the book and handed stacks out to booksellers to give away at the cashier counters two weeks before the release day. The book started pre-selling itself and created such a buzz that by the release week, the presales and sales put him on multiples bestseller lists. This was the first time in the history of the Indian publishing industry that such a phenomenon had occurred.

His book was then acquired by Westland Books, who published all three books in the series.

(Amish said that he wasn't willing to give away free copies of his first book, however, not even in the first few weeks, because he says when the whole thing is given away for free, it lessens its value.)

Amish used the cash he was raking in to make professional movie-grade book videos. Take a look at his book trailers. He had them shown at top movie theaters all over India in a publicity blitz, as well as released on YouTube. This was the first time, this had been attempted in India. And it proved to be extremely popular. His sales went through the roof.

Then he went a step further for his third book. He hired top recording artists to create a CD of ten original songs depicting themes and scenes from the book. He sold those CDs in advance of the release date of the book, and they flew off the shelves, adding to the waiting frenzy for the third book.

All three of his books are optioned for movies, and the first one is in pre-production. In addition to self-promotion savvy, he also has a sound head on his shoulders for the business side of things with contracts and such. He has portioned his rights out very carefully, leaving most of them in his hands to bargain with.

His writing style and presentation of the story appeals to the young and the old, male and female. He took Indian mythological tales and his personal philosophical beliefs and fashioned storylines to convey them in his trio of books. His books have a devoted female following, because it is rare for a male writer to write such strong female protagonists in addition to male ones. He believes that "stronger women make for a better family." (He claims this is how the original myths were, with powerful female leads, but in the middle of the last millennium, they changed as society changed into a patriarchal system.)

He wrote articles and gave talks to kids as well as to adults on the background behind his books. He said he did this to encourage coffee house discussions of the themes and motivations and conclusions of the books.

He has made a deliberate study of the brand he wants to convey. He told us that he chose only his first name as his pen name, because in India, his last name immediately puts him in a social class, which might mean fewer sales outside his social class. I noticed very similar answers to the questions from yesterday's conversation and the Wall Street Journal interview, which shows he has studied the most commonly asked questions and decided beforehand how he's going to answer those.

He very personable during his author appearances. He comes across as very intelligent, well-researched, knowledgeable without being pedantic, at ease, courteous, very honest, and witty. As with everything about him, I do believe that he gave considerable thought to this aspect of his brand, too.

You can reach the author at his page on Facebook or via his active Twitter feed. You can buy his books in the U.S., new or used on Amazon.

His advice to aspiring writers: "Write first with absolute commitment, with absolute love of the loneliness of writing. Don't write for the reader or the market. Write for yourself and for the story you're telling."