Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

News and Musings

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Sometimes, instead of one long blog post, I find myself with lots of smaller things I want to share. Today is one of those days.
- Earlier this week, I read an interesting piece in Forbes comparing Harlequin with Harvard Business Publishing. What could they have in common? Well, according to Nick Morgan, both have put lots of time and effort into community building. There are folks that just buy the occasional book here and there, but the most dedicated readers I know love to talk about books, so I’m all for having communities where we can do that. Reader-oriented sites and publisher sites obviously offer different things, but I know I’ve visited both and I suspect many readers have as well. Personally, I first discovered the online book world just as I was emerging from the free time-less fog known as law school and I’ve so enjoyed the people and ideas I’ve encountered there. Things have evolved a lot, particularly in the past few years, and I’ll be curious to see where publishers go in their community building. I think Harlequin has a headstart on most, but I see others getting into it as well, with blogs, Facebook pages and sites such as Heroes and Heartbreakers.
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Romance Heroines and Exercise

Monday, August 27th, 2012

ICPI’ll admit it’s not easy staying in shape, and at times I seem to be fighting a losing battle. In the middle of the winter, curling up with a good book is much more appealing than going out for a long walk on a sub-zero day. But on most days I do try. In nice weather I go for a lot of walks; in colder or rainy weather I’ll return to the treadmills in the fitness center where I live. I attend yoga classes off-and-on, or do some yoga at home, to work on my balance and flexibility.  And I even have a few free weights to do some strength training. Perhaps it’s my own efforts in this regard, but lately I’ve been longing to read about contemporary romance heroines who squeeze in a bit of exercise into their lives.

I’m specifically interested in contemporary romance heroines, because, let’s face, it, reading that a Regency era heroine has a fitness room or that she regularly hikes up her skirts and jogs just wouldn’t be appropriate. And most paranormal or urban fantasy heroines either seem to regularly stay in shape to survive, or have very specific natural abilities and powers that endow them with extra strength and speed. But what about your average contemporary romance heroine? And by average, I mean a non-athlete heroine who manages to fit in a bit of exercising into her regular routine.

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Romance and Cultural Expectations

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

saamribbon Recently I have started volunteering as an advocate for Sexual Assault Crisis Response group in my community. Since I believe the more information and training I have the more effective I can be, I dragged myself out of bed this week on my day off to attend police training on sexual violence – The Dynamics and Cultural Myths, and Improving Sexual Assault Investigations. Thanks to Jen Carson of the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Mike Hammons of the Fayetteville Police Department for allowing me to use their material in writing this article.

Let me just say upfront that back in the 80’s I was right there with most of the romance reader population in reading and enjoying the so-called “bodice ripper” novels written by authors such as Shirlee Busbee, Rosemary Rogers,and Kathleen Woodiwiss. And I am not knocking these authors now. That was the culture and the fantasy of that time. Just read the joke that John McCain told in 1986: (more…)

In Search of Contemporary Romance Heroines with Hobbies

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

knittingI like heroines who have full lives — they work, they have hobbies, hopefully they read, and they have friends or families with whom they talk to and visit. I’m talking specifically about contemporary romance heroines. In European Historical romances, particularly those set in Regency England, it’s only the odd heroine who works (such as the governess or the secret writer or secret spy). The job of the properly bred, upper class, historical heroine is to marry. As such, most seem to have been trained to sing, play an instrument, draw or paint, and do needlework.

There’s a whole genre of cozy mysteries often referred to as “crafting mysteries.” According to rumors I’ve heard, many of these are started by a publisher saying something like “Knitting is hot, I need a series of knitting mysteries.” The word “knitting” can easily be substituted with “scrapbooking,” “organizing,” or whatever the latest hot hobby happens to be. I’ve heard that most of these “crafting mysteries” are just a three book series in which an author is hired to write them. In most of these books, the “hobby” is actually the full-time work of the main character in the mystery. That’s not what I have in mind by hobbies.

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Homeless

Monday, February 27th, 2012

mobile Six months ago, I left my life in Washington, D.C. and moved to southern Alabama to work at a day center for the homeless. I am doing a one-year service program called the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and I am halfway done. It’s been different than anything I’ve ever done before. I love what I do, even though it’s draining and I see awful things and hear terrible stories. I love my clients, even if they do things that I find, at best, inadvisable and at worst, appalling.
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Endearments – Yea or Nay?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

imagesDearest, darling readers: I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day with your loved ones.  My day began quite unexceptionally, at school with those sweet children in my class, and all I planned to do when I got home was start Gaelen Foley’s One Night of Sin.  But guess what, cupcakes?  Before long I was sighing and shaking my head.  There was one thing, O Best Beloveds, that was driving me to near insanity – much as I am probably doing to you currently, my poor angels.  And that was the proliferation of endearments.

I have a hard time dealing with them, especially the flowery ones, and especially when they’re used often.  One Night of Sin has them in abundance and I find them nauseating.  But are they nauseating because it’s actually overkill, or is it just because I’m not used to them?

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Organizing (and Playing) With Books

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

list I’ll admit it: I like to play with my books. I have far too many books. And as with most of us, that means I have storage problems. Over the years I have tried dozens of different methods to organize them – keeping them in bins by author, by genre, by subgenre – and yet for all the brilliance of the plans, for all the hours I put into said plans, I have yet to find a permanent solution. Right now, my books are loosely stored by type in plastic bins in my basement. Mary Balogh books have received their own bin but the rest are stored pretty willy nilly . The only thing I make sure of is that the bins are well sealed. I don’t want mold or damp or some similar book damaging pestilence to get at them.
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Do Readers Exercise?

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

readexerciseIn a bit of serendipity my blog piece this week mimics Blythe’s blog in asking the question of nature or nurture. Except mine is not about readers but readers who exercise. Once you have developed a love of books, how hard is it to make the commitment to get your nose out of the book and exercise? Do some individuals just enjoy activity more than others? Is it learned behavior or is it genetics? The recent evidence seems to point to learned behavior or contagious social behaviors.

The Trust for American’s Health recently released a list of how each state is doing, and it is not pretty. Along with the release of the list of the state’s ranking, I made note of something else. When Blythe went to New York for the RWA Convention she didn’t use that as an excuse to not exercise (Sandy and Lynn- no offense if you were up there sweating away too!). And guess what, Blythe is from Colorado, the state with the lowest obesity ranking.

While poverty does play a part in the same states continuing to top the list, part of the reason also seems to be that if your friends are heavy, then it more acceptable for you to be heavy. If your friends exercise and incorporate a healthy lifestyle then you are more likely to do so, too. If you haven’t read the Framingham Study then do so, because it quite interesting. In a way it helps explain more about our obesity epidemic.

You probably wonder why someone on a site that talks about books now is talking about healthy living. I could say that it is a “public service message.” But the real reason is that that our love of books can keep us sedentary. Plus if you are like me, you have made some internet friends built around your love of books. Friends influence friends and I hope to get some great feedback from those of you that are successful balancing activity and reading. And along with teaching our children to love books and reading, I believe it is just as important to remember physical activity.

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The End of an Era

Monday, July 18th, 2011

hp7 It All Ends. An end of an era. The end of childhood. I’m pretty sure everyone in the industrialized world knows that the final Harry Potter movie came out on Friday (in the U.S.). This is it.

People of all ages have felt the loss, from children who weren’t alive when the first books came out, to retirees. I think, though, that my age group has felt the end more keenly. After all, we are the Harry Potter Generation.
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The Big “I”

Monday, July 11th, 2011

2421311-LI don’t remember much from Psych 101, but I do remember Sternberg’s Triangle of Love.  Sternberg sees Intimacy, Passion, and Commitment as the three corners of love.  Pick any one or two components and you have various kinds of relationships; combine all three, and you have what he calls the Consummate Love.

Which is sort of what 99.99% of romance novels is about.  Except in the romance world, there’s a fourth corner: Fidelity.

Wait.  Isn’t that the same as Commitment?  Well, not according to Dan Savage, the love and sex columnist who was featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine two weeks ago.  He recognizes that monogamy is right for most couples, and that’s great.  What he doesn’t like is our society’s assumption that monogamy is right for all couples:

Folks on the verge of making those monogamous commitments need to look at the wreckage around them (Schwarzenegger, Clinton, Vitter)…and have a conversation about what it’ll mean if one or the other partner should cheat.  And agree, at the very least, to getting through it, to place a higher value on the relationship itself than on component of it, sexual exclusivity.”

Mr. Savage doesn’t support thoughtless infidelity, but he’s asking for smarter boundaries and honesty, an acknowledgement that: (more…)