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Showing posts from February, 2010

Goodbye February. Thanks for pointing out our priorities.

I'm not sad to see this wintry month end. I've heard why they took one day away from February and gave it to the summer. I believe the story is that Julius Caesar didn't want to be outdone by Augustus Caesar, so when he found out his month (July) only had 30 days in it, he borrowed one from February in order to have the same number as August. I sure don't miss it. Thursday evening we had a wind storm to rival some hurricane force winds, and it lasted for hours. It was one of the weirdest things I've ever seen here in New England--and we see all kinds of weather. Large trees were ripped from the ground by the roots. We had two approximately eighty footers beside the driveway topple over. Thank goodness they fell away from our house! And, of course, the power went out. Hundreds of thousands of homes lost power, ours being one of them. People were recalling last year's ice storm with horror. We went without power for 7 days. My husband stood in line for two hours

That Tender-Sweet Sense of Belonging

There’s this elusive thing that’s always made mention of, that “feeling” that comes with being content. Maybe even with being in love. And I’m not referring to infatuation, the first kiss, or even the feelings you might have after a proposal or major event like being married or the birth of a child. I’m talking about “that tender-sweet sense of belonging.” It’s that feeling that you’re where you need to be, when you need to be there, doing what you should be doing, with the person you should be doing it with. OK. Those are a lot of variables, and many of us will never meet all the conditions. But just one of them can be the right one. Like being in the right job. Or going to dinner with the right friend. Or being in a partnership with the best possible person for you. I think that’s why I enjoy romance novels so much. Because you get a brief taste of “that tender-sweet sense of belonging.” The writer takes you on a journey of self-discovery, through the warmth of a passionate affa

February is for lovers???

Ever wonder why February is the month for love? It certainly couldn't be because of the lovely weather. I took this picture in my back yard on Monday, and I don't know about you, but I don't see anything there to inspire romance. It probably isn't just because there was once a fertility festival that took place in in that month, either--although there again, why February??? To be perfectly frank about it, February is the time of year when love is the very last thing on my mind, and as a time for conception, it basically sucks. Think about it. Children conceived in February would be born in chilly November with the rest of the winter to survive as an infant being nursed by a mother who, particularly in olden times, probably isn't getting her full daily allowance of anything nutrition-wise, and sunlight (as you can see from my gloomy photo) is sadly lacking. That being the case, I think February might have been chosen simply because there's nothing better to do,

Author Branding

posted by Deb Werksman This month's Romance Writers Report has a fantastic article by Theresa Meyers called " The Basics of Author Branding" and I think it should be required reading for every author. (Theresa's website is .) Here's how she defines an author brand: "building an image, perception, or identity that is used to create a loyal readership, who will auto buy an author's work." This is right on, and it's why I keep telling authors they must choose their subgenre and build from there. Once you're established in a subgenre, and are building readership there, you can branch out into other subgenres, or you can build more than one simultaneously but the key word here is "build"--you can't jump around. Naturally, I want to qualify what I just said. I meet authors all the time at conferences who've written a contemporary, a historical and are now starting on a romantic suspense (for e

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Romance and true love is serious business to be sure, especially when one writes a love story. However, authors also have to explore the light side of this crazy little thing called LOVE and few appreciate the silliness of love more than a romance novelist! Today we are going to have fun with our theme with some quotes, cartoons, a video, and a quiz. Enjoy! "Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more." —Erica Jong Grogan: What's it gonna be, Angelina? Joan Wilder: [voiceover] It was Grogan: the filthiest, dirtiest, dumbest excuse for a man west of the Missouri River. Grogan: You can die two ways: quick like the tongue of a snake, or slower than the molasses in January. Joan Wilder: [voiceover] But it was October! Grogan: I'll ki

Crusin' for Love or Love for Crusin'?

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy Since our theme is all about love this month, my post is actually about my love for cruising, but I couldn't resist throwing up the title of the Round Robin story we did way back when... Anybody who has hung around on this blog for more than five minutes knows that yer olde Aunty is a travel nut (and sometimes just plain nuts, but that's a post for another day) ! For the past few years, my travel mode of choice has been a cruise ship. Yes, I've been on fifteen cruises, several to the same destinations. I've been asked on more than one occasion: Why do you love cruises so much? My usual reply is: What's NOT to love? The ships themselves are beautiful! Most of them have lots of gleaming, polished wood. They are often decorated around a specific theme. For example, on our last cruise a lot of the common areas had a jungle motif. The indoor pool was especially beautiful, with life-sized carvings of twin elephants on one end a

A Little Medieval Lovin'

by Amanda Forester “Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage…” Ah the truth of that classic song is undeniable. What could be more natural than marrying for love? Well, in medieval times they would find this sentiment quite odd. Marriages, particularly with those of the upper classes, were arranged based on wealth, inheritance, family status, and political ambitions. The feelings of the persons involved were not a consideration. Political alliances were often sealed with an arranged marriage. Can you imagine President Obama offering up one of his daughters to seal a trade agreement? Yet in medieval times, this was a common occurrence. Marriages typically occurred when the individuals were quite young. Children may even have been wed if it meant sealing an important alliance. For example, in accordance with the Treaty of Northampton in which England recognized the sovereignty of Scotland with Robert the Bruce as their king, Robert’s son David, and the

They Call It Puppy Love

The song had it right, but my idea of puppy love has to do with my furry baby and the ones in the past. There’s nothing like snuggling up with our furry friends to make us smile. There’s days when we can’t help but feel just flat out happy. We’d want to dance in the moonlight – okay, maybe not, but the idea sounds fun, doesn’t it? Growing up we had a shepherd/collie named Skipper. He was totally my mom’s dog. Any time we were in the car I had to ride in the back seat because he rode shotgun and if I dared sit in the passenger seat I got ‘the look’ and immediately scrambled into the back seat. Skipper was a wonderful dog and even saved my life when I was three and a rattler ended up in my sandbox. He killed the snake and was bitten on the nose as a result. One vet said he couldn’t be saved, but that didn’t stop my dad. Another vet worked hard and Skipper came home to us. What else I remember is his running with the coyotes at night. They’d show up in our back yard and next thing he was

Learning to Sing

by Libby Malin The last time I posted here, I talked about my "first love" -- music. Even though music was the first love I dedicated my energy and passion to, writing has always, always, always called out to me. As soon as I could string words together, I wrote stories, poems and essays. In creative writing class in high school, friends and I would exchange "fan fiction" -- stories involving our favorite television shows. But I didn't start dedicating energy and passion to getting my writing published until later in life. For that I have my dear sister to thank. She's the one who encouraged me to try getting a romance novel published when I was between freelance writing projects and looking for something to do to make money. Once I knew that this very practical person in my family wouldn't think I was crazy for spending so much time at the computer writing fiction, I was on my way. For most published authors, it's a tough slog fr

Love, Regency Style

by Sharon Lathan “Elizabeth, ….. forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand that her sentiments had undergone so material a change,…. The happiness which this reply produced, was such as he had probably never felt before; and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do.” The above quote is from Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and is one of my favorites. I really wish we could pick Jane’s brain and discover just what she imagined as how Mr. Darcy expressed being “violently in love.” Most likely, considering the Era, he waxed eloquently and poetically, and at most grasped her hand. In fact, given the following sentences in the novel I suppose we can be fairly certain he did not bodily embrace Lizzy and plant a long wet kiss! Still, it is fun to dream and clever Jane did leave it open for entertaining interpretation. What I do appreciate about that quote and all the car

Love is...

I write about love nearly every day. That sweeping, pulse-pounding, heart-stopping love that happens when you’ve first met your soul mate. I write about heroes and heroines who are larger than life. Who even lay down their lives for love of each other. But in real life, it isn’t very often that we’re required to make such a sacrifice. But sometimes I think what love requires of us in everyday life can be even harder and just as beautiful. It’s all those little things that truly define what love is, and so I’ve compiled my own list of examples of love, and because it’s a broad scope, I included more than romantic love. Love is… An eighty-year-old man who looks at his eighty-two-year old wife and says “You’re even more beautiful now than the day I met you.” When your son gives you a hug because you’ve had a horrible day. When you call your sister at work and tell her that your father had a stroke while on vacation and her first response is “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes. You pack,


And the sad thing is, I don't care. Yes, it's true. I'm hooked on LOST. But the question is, why ? I keep asking myself that. Why do I keep coming back? It's annoyed me no end that they cut off the season in half the time as other series. It's annoyed me that every time I think there's an answer, there are two more questions. And it's annoying that they seem to have thrown everything but the kitchen sink in there (that would be because the black cloud monster probably bashed the kitchen sink to smithereens). They've annoyed me with this whole time travel thing and jumping into the "what if" situation of the castaways being back in the real world without giving me answers. Yet I still keep coming back. How do they do that? Why is this working? Why has this show become the phenomenon it has? They're giving us crumbs and yet we still come back for one more tiny little miniscule morsel. And we enjoy the ride. Since I've been writing for pub

Post Valentine's Comment About the Pagan Ritual!

Here's a little wolf loving, puppy and parent style! Robin posted about Lupercalia, the early pagan ritual that had to do with Valentine's, but she didn't mention that it had to do with wolves. So being the wolfish person I am, I just had to add a post concerning this festival!!! You know, to add the wolf's point of view. As she mentioned, it was a pagan ritual of feasting to do with fertility during the time of the Romans, 3rd or 4th BC. Now, according to some scholars, what you might not know was that the god that watched over the proceedings was Lupercus, which was derived from the Latin word lupus , meaning wolf. It was believed that the god watched over shepherds and their flocks, and in honor of this, they celebrated a feast called Lupercalia. On the first day, the fertility festival was in progress. The second day was dedicated to Juno-lupa, the She Wolf. Remember the she-wolf that had nursed Romulus and Remus, the twins who founded Rome? So there you have it. Va

Welcome Lydia Dare to Casablanca!

I’m sure many of us heard or will hear the same stories from our girlfriends about Valentine’s Day. You either heard the “He asked me to marry him!” shriek or the “He didn’t do a darn thing,” grumble. Whether you’re shrieking over the most thoughtful gift or gesture in the world or grumbling because you were overlooked completely, someone else is doing the same. You’re definitely not alone. My friend’s husband spent the love fest day at his mother’s, fixing something that broke at her house. But my friend was elated since she got to put her hot little hands on the remote control. Would a newlywed have felt the same way? People who are dating? Doubt it. But those of us that have been married for a lot of years can see the sheer joy the gift of solitude for a few hours might bring. If you’re Lydia Dare, there’s a good chance you’re seeing two sides of that same coin. In fact, it’s guaranteed. It’s what’s so great about writing as a team. There’s always a fresh or opposing viewpoint and h

It's Valentine's Day... Now what do we do?

What can I say about it that hasn't already been said? That it's a day I look forward to every year? Not really. That it's a day for lovers to express their love for one another? Actually, we should do that every day. Do I like it because I might get candy? Nope. I'm what they call a pre-diabetic and probably shouldn't be eating candy at all--and in case you haven't checked the labels lately, even the sugar-free variety isn't exactly low in carbohydrates. There have been a whole slew of Valentine's Day posts here in the past week or so, and having read Robin's blog from a few days back, I'm intrigued as to why whipping the girls would increase their fertility. It might increase a few other things, such as ire, coupled with a determination never to hook up with a man wielding a whip, but I suppose if nudity--particularly male--was involved, it might make me more inclined to overlook the whipping part. That being said, I think all we really need th

True "Luv" and Romance

Our theme for the month is love -- but what I'd like to talk about is luv . You know, those secret passions we nursed in middle school. All those hours we spent daydreaming of fantasy boyfriends back in seventh grade were the perfect preparation for the rigors of romance writing. Of course, our dream dates weren't entirely fictional; they were generally based on real people. For instance, when I was twelve, all my friends were in love with Donny Osmond and David Cassidy. I wasn't. I was a geeky little kid who listened to a lot of classical music, and I was smart enough to know that Down By the Lazy River and I Think I Love You were not going to stand the test of time. I also thought shiny hair and perfect teeth were way overrated. I wanted a man with brains. That's why I fell in love with Jacques Cousteau. My friends laughed at my secret crush. They saw Jacques as a wizend little French guy in Speedos and a beanie who was baked to a crisp by a lifetime in the sun and p

Love Thy Siblings

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy Like it or not, our brothers and sisters are genetically the closest relatives we have. If we share the same mother and father, then we all took that same dip in the old gene pool. (SPLAT!) And in most cases, siblings share the same early environment that shaped us into adults, too. No wonder relationships between and among siblings are so intense and complex. What great fodder for fiction! Brothers and sisters pop up in my own stories a lot. I am the eldest of four siblings, so I know all about those bossy older sister characters from personal experience. Having two younger brothers whom I alternately abhorred and adored (as they did me) , it is no surprise at all that the heroes in all three of my books have older and er, um, somewhat domineering older sisters. In The Wild Sight and The Treasures of Venice , both heroes were raised by their older sisters when their mothers died. Luckily, I was never forced into that role, but I can easily

"A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life..."

One thing I LOVE about romance novels is how every story has a happy ending—no matter what, you know that your hero and heroine will get it together someway in the end. Some people say “then what’s the point if there’s no conflict and already know what’s going to happen?” And I always remind them it’s the journey to the happily ever after that matters, too! However, every now and then, there are stories where you don’t get a happy cou ple, but you want everything to work out (well, most of the time)! Here are some famous star-crossed lovers: 1. Romeo and Juliet . Perhaps the most famous (from which the term star-crossed really took hold in Shakespeare’s play)—young and innocent, these two can’t be together because of their feuding families and end up paying the ultimate price: their lives! However, those deep monologues (But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the East and Juliet is the sun! SWOON.) 2. Tristan and Iseult (sometimes Isolde). A medieval tale that takes

What's the Deal with Valentine's Day?

I’m sitting at my desk writing my blog while watching the snow fall. Last weekend, we received between 36 and 40 inches, but with snowdrifts topping 6 feet, it’s hard to tell if we got that added 4 inches or not. Today and tomorrow, we’re expected to receive another 20 inches of the white stuff. Lucky us. So here I am, hunkered down in the house, writing my blog and wondering why they chose a bleak month like February to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I concluded that in the days of old, there was little to do during the short winter days, so why not celebrate love, cuddle up with your Valentine, and enjoy. Imagine my surprise when, after a few minutes of research, I discovered I was wrong. Here’s what I found out about Valentine’s Day… Valentines Day began as a Pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia (February 15th), which involved nudity and whipping (and no, I’m not talking about whipped cream). During the festival, the boys whipped the girls’ bottoms to stimulate fertility— though

Valentine's Day At The Movies

Yes, we’re all romantics at heart. After all, we write romance! There’s nothing about sitting down with a wonderful book that either makes you laugh or cry. And there are movies that do the same. The following are only a few and hopefully I’ve suggested some you haven’t seen before. Even better if you can talk your honey into curling up on the couch with you to watch these. Emma – Jane Austen knew just how to write a romance that leads the heroine on a merry quest to match up her friends and discover love at the same time. This is one of my favorite films. While You Were Sleeping – Yes, this movie is set during Christmas, but who cares? This is such a great film about a lonely woman looking for love and finding it in the oddest way. Plus, you have to love the family members. The Matchmaker – This is another favorite when a politician’s assistant travels to Ireland to find his distant relatives and discovers love during a matchmaking festival in a small town. The matchmakers in the town

First Loves

by Libby Malin A long time ago, in a galaxy far away--specifically, right after I graduated from college--I worked as a Spanish gypsy, a Russian courtier, a Japanese Geisha, a Parisian bohemian, a Middle Eastern slave, a French courtesan, and a Chinese peasant. Those were the roles played by chorus members of Baltimore and Washington Operas as they put on productions of Carmen, Eugene Onegin, Madama Butterfly, La Boheme, Salome, La Traviata , and Turandot . I was one of those chorus members, happily arriving about an hour before each performance, traipsing through the stage door with makeup bag in hand, ready to be wigged and dressed. To get ready for this backstage preparation, the women were all required to flatten their hair into pincurls and place a stocking cap over all. Then we'd head to the wig room where the loveliest hairpieces would be placed on our heads, glued to our foreheads with fine netting. Back to the dressing rooms where hired "dresser