Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2010 All About Romance Top 100 Romance Poll now polling

The folks at All About Romance have asked me to let you know that they're conducting their fifth Top 100 Romance Poll.

This isn't merely a My-Favorite-Books-of-2010 deal.

This is your chance to name your favorite romances of all time.  You can vote from now until Sunday 14 November at midnight.

Here's the link.

It's a big ballot, so you might wanted to get started now...

Illustration: Woman Reading a Book, by F Boucher, courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Thursday, September 30, 2010

1831 Archery Fashions

This is a continuation of my blog at Two Nerdy History Girls.  Following is the description for the second Archery Dress, from an  1831 La Belle Assemblée.  These are the sorts of fashions Olivia, of Last Night's Scandal, would have worn—and I have no doubt she was an expert archer.

A DRESS composed of white chaly,* with a canezou of blue gros de Naples. The front of the bust is ornamented in the hussar style, with white silk braiding and fancy silk buttons; plain tight back. Long sleeve sitting close to the arm, with a half sleeve, à  l’Espagnol, slashed with white figured gros de Naples. A row of rich white silk fringe is brought from the point of each shoulder in front round the back. Collerette of white tulle, of a novel form, fastened in front by a gold and pearl brooch. The belt fastens with a silver buckle curiously wrought; the accessories correspond in colour with the canezou.** White gros de Naples hat, ornamented with white ostrich feathers, and a gold button and loop. Half boots of blue kid.

*Chaly (Challi or Challis)—A very light and soft, plain woven dress goods in the 19th century in England, made of silk warp and worsted filling or of all wool, finished without any gloss. The figures were either woven or usually printed over a white or pale colored ground. (From Louis Harmuth, Dictionary of Textiles, 1915)

**Canezou: short chemise with or without sleeves, distinguishing feature was that it was tucked into a belt, where it stopped. (From Internet Centre for Canadian Fashion & Design)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Olivia hijacks me at Pop Culture Junkie

I know, I know.  It's been a busy week.  Blah, blah, blah.  Me, me, me.  But Olivia, heroine of Last Night's Scandal, is more entertaining.  She certainly thinks so.

You'll find her view of the world at Pop Culture Junkie.

At left is Borthwick Castle (inspiration for Castle Horrid aka Gorewood Castle) in the 1800s.

Interview & book giveaway

Yes, I've been talking about myself a lot lately.  Here's another interview, this time at Romantic Crush Junkies.

It's on until Sunday 26 September.  If you stop by and leave a comment, you might win one of two copies they're giving away of Last Night's Scandal.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Talking with my friends in Italy

In honor of Last Night's Scandal—and just because they're incredibly nice about my books—Isn't it Romantic has posted an interview with me.  Bilingual skills are not necessary:  It's in English as well as Italian. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rex Carolvs means what?

Continuing the illustrated, annotated version of Last Night's Scandal...

As followers of the Two Nerdy History Girls blog are acutely aware, I spend a lot of time on historical trivia that many readers probably don't find all that thrilling. You can imagine my excitement, then, when a reader is sufficiently intrigued to ask me to explain an obscure detail in one of my books. 

Today's query relates to this exchange:
     “What have you got there?”
     “Dunno.  Brass button?”
     “Let me see.”
     After scraping off dirt, Roy said, “A medal, maybe.”  He peered at the object.
     “Old medal?” said Jock.  “Some of them fetch a good price.”
     “Could be.”  Roy scraped some more and peered some more.  Then he spelled out painfully, “R-E-X.  Then a mark, not a letter.  Then C-A-R-O-L-V-S.”
     Jock, whose reading skills extended to recognizing a tavern sign, said, “What is it?”
     Roy looked at him.  “Money,” he said.

My alert-to-details reader wanted to know what REX CAROLVS signified.

The reference is to King Charles I, who appears as Rex Carolvs (Rex Carolus) on the coins of his reign.  One of the plot elements of the book deals with a legend dating to his reign, the turmoil of the Civil War, and its unfortunate conclusion for him and those who supported him.

These illustrations are by Classical Numismatic Group.  You can see more examples here and here, at the Welsh website, Gathering the Jewels.  Another fine example is at the British Museum.  You can even buy a reproduction at the Royal Mint.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The clothes Olivia bought in Paris...

OPERA DRESS. A DRESS composed of rose-coloured chaly, a low corsage finished by a lappel of a perfectly novel shape, which falls very far over the sleeve, and is embroidered in a light running pattern in white lloize silk. The sleeves are between the Amadis and gigot shape. The fronts and border of the dress are embroidered en tunique in white floize silk. The embroidery, narrow at the waist, becomes progressively broader, and is very rich round the border. The chemisette, which falls, en pelerine, over the bust of the dress, is trimmed with a double fall of blond lace, set on with very little fulness; it is fastened in front by a richly-chased dead gold brooch. A rose-coloured crape hat; the crown is low, and round; the brim, short at the ears, and rather deep, is ornamented on the inside with palmettes of gauze ribbon to correspond: on the outside is a blond lace drapery which falls a little over the left side of the brim, turns hack en bavolet, and passes under the right side, where it meets the palmettes. This drapery is ornamented with a loose rouleau of gauze ribbon, terminated at each end, by a full bow. A bouquet of rose-coloured ostrich feathers, is placed near the top of the crown on the right side. The hair is parted on the forehead.  Ear-rings, bracelets, and ceinture buckle dead gold.

  WALKING DRESS. A HIGH dress composed of gros de Naples ; the colour, a new and extremely rich shade of brown. The corsage, made to sit close to the shape, is ornamented in a very novel style with a row of points lightly embroidered, which forms it in a heart shape before and behind. The sleeves are à l'Amadis. The pelerine is made with a standing three-pointed collar, which descends in front in the lappel style. A very broad trimming is set on full round the border of the pelerine: it is surmounted by a row of pattes with a gold button in the centre of each. Satin hat of the same colour, lined with white satin, but bordered with the material of the hat round the edge of the brim, the inside of which is trimmed with coques of lilac and white striped gauze ribbon. Bands and bows of ribbon arranged in a novel style decorate the crown. Neckknot to correspond with the dress, fastened by a gold clasp. Bottines of chocolate coloured gros des Indes. A sable boa tippet, or cachemere shawl, should be thrown carelessly round the shoulders.

What Olivia wore

Alert readers will have noticed the comments running through Last Night’s Scandal regarding fashions.   I thought I would post some illustrations, to give you a better sense of what my characters were talking about.

You'll find the description for the Carriage Dress and Bonnet(at left) over at Two Nerdy History Girls.  Here's more from FASHIONS FOR NOVEMBER, 1831 from La Belle Assemblée

DINNER DRESS. A DRESS of rose-coloured gaze Polonais, over a gros de Naples slip of a similar colour. The corsage is cut low ; it sits close to the shape behind; the front is arranged in folds which cross so high in the centre of the bosom, that very little of the blond lace chemisette is seen. The sleeves are between the gigot and Amadis form, but incline more to the latter shape. The chemisette is made with a round collar, which falls low over the back and shoulders, and is trimmed with a double fall of blond lace. The hair is parted on the forehead, and arranged in a platted braid en couronne on the summit of the head. The ends of the braid, disposed in corkscrew ringlets, fall over the comb placed behind the couronne. A ferronière composed of gold chain, with a ruby agraffe, is brought rather low upon the forehead. The jewellery worn with this dress should be of gold and rubies. Swansdown boa tippet.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Julia Child's Kitchen

A few weeks ago, on a trip south for a wedding, we stopped in Washington D.C. for a couple of days, to visit friends and, of course, museums.  I have a long list of places in D.C. I want to visit, but there's never enough time for more than one or two.  This time, inspired by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci's marvelous performances in Julie and Julia, I went straight to the Smithsonian to visit Julia Child's Kitchen. 

(To be strictly accurate, my journey was somewhat straight.  It was necessary to detour round the Boy Scouts parade.  There were several thousand of them in town that weekend, and the 100+ temps made even those brave lads faint, some of them.  But more of that at another time.)

Following up on my blog about Julia Child at Two Nerdy History Girls, here, for you viewing pleasure, are more photos.

There's a ton of fascinating info about Julia Child and her kitchen here, at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History site.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ebooks abroad

Just shoot me now.

I should have titled this blog “Ebooks in Hell.”

I have received several messages from irate disappointed readers regarding problems they’re having getting Last Night's Scandal in ebook format in the UK and Australia.

For the record:  I did not forbid anybody to sell ebooks of my stories in any country.  Neither did my agent or my publisher.

What happened is that ebook sales went suddenly from nowhere to somewhere, and the publishing world wasn’t ready.  You took them by surprise, ebook readers.  Now they’re all going, “Eeek—what do we do?” and running around screaming and clutching their heads.

At least in my imagination they are.

I am not sure why they weren’t ready or why they’re having such a hard time working this out.  It seems as though it should be so simple.  Book distributors and retailers have been navigating the shoals of foreign rights/tax laws/duties, etc. forever. I have no trouble getting a print book from the UK or Australia.  I just click the button at the online bookstore.  You’d think ebooks would, if anything, be easier to buy than print books.  There’s no packing and shipping.  You click the button and Presto! the book magically appears in the device of your (Gentle Reader’s) choosing.  What, exactly, is the problem?

Believe me, I did try to find out.  And now I have a headache and would like some very strong medication, because it's even nuttier than I supposed.  There’s apparently some confusion among some retailers about where they can legally ship ebooks and there are some import issues and misunderstandings about territorial restrictions.  And then there’s that thing where everybody and his Great Aunt Sophronia is coming out with a new, wonderful ebook reader—and so is this one allowed here and is that one allowed there and can this store sell this one when it already sells that one?

There’s more, but this is as much as I understand and can relate coherently.

However, they will sort it out—and soon.

Meanwhile, Gentle Reader, I ask for your forbearance.

Illustrations courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540. USA.  Above left:  Beauty holding a book, by Toyonobu Ishikawa, c. 1742Below right: Albert Morris Bagby's new novel Miss Traumerei, by Ethel Reed, 1895.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Last Night's Scandal makes the lists

Given the heavy competition this month, I was amazed and thrilled to learn that Last Night's Scandal made the New York Times Mass Market list (at #32), the USA Today Bestseller list (at #81), and Borders (at #9).  This is pretty exciting, considering the lists cover only a few days since the book came out.

Lisle & Olivia's story has also received some really nice reviews at Smart Bitches Trashy Books and All About Romance

That's enough bragging for now.  We will soon return to our irregularly scheduled blogging.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book signing July 10 in Maryland

I'll be signing books with authors Nora Roberts/J D Robb, Mary Blayney, Jocelynn Drake, Donna Kauffman, Diane Whiteside, Austin Gisriel,  and Katrina Shelley

Saturday 10 July
Turn The Page Bookstore Cafe
15th Anniversary Event
12-2 PM
18 N. Main St
Boonsboro MD  21713

I'm told that yes, copies of Last Night's Scandal will be there!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Interview at All About Romance

You might want to stop by All About Romance between now and Thursday.  Sandy Coleman has posted an interview with me, which deals with Last Night's Scandal as well as other topics.  If you comment, you'll have a chance to win an Advanced Reading Copy* of the book, which won't be in stores until 27 July.

*This is a version that goes to reviewers.  It contains the occasional typo and weird formatting, which some people prize.  Personally, I'd rather you read the final version, complete with steamy stepback, but that is more than a month away...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Last Night's Scandal at Salon.com

June is starting out well.

Over at Salon.com, Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches Trashy Books has included Last Night's Scandal  on her short list of recommendations for summer reading .  Just scroll down to the "Once Upon a Time" part, and you'll find my new Carsington book listed, along with the latest by Joanna Bourne and Lisa Kleypas.

Behold us celebrating.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Bride in White

In response to a reader comment regarding a previous post, I’m doing connected blogs.  There’s more about white wedding dresses at Two Nerdy History Girls.

This is an 1831 white wedding dress, one of several examples I've found of white wedding dresses before Queen Victoria wore white at her wedding (10 February 1840).

The description comes from La Belle assemblée: or, Court and fashionable magazine; containing interesting and original literature, and records of the beau-monde; PublisherJ. Bell, 1831

Fashions for March, 1831

French fashions. WEDDING DRESS.

A dress of blonde de Chantilly, over white satin; the corsage of the lace dress, cut low and square round the bosom, is ornamented with a lappel which forms points upon the shoulders ; the points falling over a single row of superb blond lace, which covers the short béret sleeve of the white satin under-dress. Two very deep flounces, so arranged that one falls a little over the other, reach from the bottom of the skirt considerably above the knee, and are surmounted by a very rich embroidery. The wedding veil, also of blonde de Chantilly, is arranged in the drapery style at the back of the head, and the corners, brought round the base of the bows of hair on the summit of the head, are attached by a nuptial garland of orange flowers. A bandeau of emeralds set in gold goes round the forehead; earrings, necklace, and bracelets to correspond.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Books in France and Japan

One of the thrills of my job is seeing the foreign versions of my books.  Here are some that came in recently.  Here's what Miss Wonderful looks like in Japan:

 In France, here's Not Quite a Lady:
And Your Scandalous Ways:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Romantic Times Award for Don't Tempt Me

Sorry, I have to brag:

Don't Tempt Me, which spent several weeks on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, and went into a third printing, has received the 2009 RT Book Reviews Reviewers‘ Choice Award for Best Historical Love & Laughter.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Historical Romance thrives at Yale

Let me commence with with the quotation I swiped from the syllabus for "Reading Historical Romance, " taught by authors Lauren Willig and Andrea DaRif (w/a Cara Elliott):

“Although our [novels] have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried.  From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are as many as our readers….”

                -- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1818)

I'm happy to report that while this continues to be true, at least 18 Yale students have a different point of view.  I was one of a panel invited to be interrogated by these students earlier in the week.  (L-R:  Lauren, Carrie Ferron of HarperCollins, Andrea, SB Sarah of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and me.)

These students are taking a course titled "Reading the Historical Romance"--a class I mentioned in a previous blog, whose required reading included, among other historical romances, my own Mr. Impossible.  Their thoughtful questions made me wish I'd been sitting in on all the classes.  It also made me wish we'd had more time to talk.  Our two-hour class was much too short.

Thank you, students, Andrea & Lauren, for a truly memorable day.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mr. Impossible goes to Yale

Nerdy History Girl Susan Holloway Scott called my attention to this piece by George Eliot

I know that for some people, all romance novels are "silly novels by lady novelists." 

But I don't care what they say because I'm on a reading list at Yale.  Authors Lauren Willig and Cara Elliott are teaching a course called "Reading the Historical Romance"— and my very own Mr. Impossible is Required Reading!  Which is kind of funny, considering that the hero Rupert is...erm...well, no Einstein.  But there he is, in the hallowed halls of academe. 

That's Lauren on the left and Cara on the right.  And if various schedules can be made to mesh, I'll be meeting their students next month.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Last Night's Scandal in glorious purple

Last time I mentioned page proofs.  This is the first pass at the print version, when the book really starts to look like a book, and the author looks for the mistakes she missed, as mentioned in an earlier post, the previous ten thousand times she—not to mention the copy editor and various other editors—went over it.  No matter what, I always find mistakes in the page proofs that can't all be blamed on the printer.  Somehow all those eagle eyes on the manuscript missed, say, missing end quotes.  And then there are the sudden realizations, e.g., "What was I thinking?" or "Didn't anyone notice I used the same word three times in the same paragraph?" or "Wait a minute!  Isn't that an anachronism?" (It usually is.)

I'm happy to report that the page proof phase is now behind me, too, and the next thing I'll see, somewhere down the road, are the Advanced Reading Copies.

Then, before we know it, Last Night's Scandal will actually be on bookstore shelves—while I'm watching Deadline-for-the-next book loom ever larger upon the horizon.

But in the meantime, here for your delectation is the brand-new cover, before even Amazon has it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Is it done yet?

After the usual frenzy attendant upon my finishing a book, the fifth book of the Carsington trilogy (I know) is now in production.  LAST NIGHT’S SCANDAL follows into adulthood Olivia and Peregrine, the two troublesome children of Book Four, LORD PERFECT

The thing with a manuscript is, it keeps coming back, like the undead.  We finish it—we think—and send it to our editors, who send it back for Revisions.  Revisions can involve anything from tweaking a few lines here and there to massive rewrites of less-than-deathless (as in OMG, I can’t believe I wrote that crap) prose.  Then we send it back again and a few weeks later, there it is on our doorstep, this time as a Copy Edit.  The copy editor has gone through the manuscript looking for errors and inconsistencies.  This phase usually requires our Gentle Author to scream quite a bit and bang her head against the wall in frustration.  Then the manuscript goes back with a lot of Stets (for the uninitiated—and you’d do well to stay that way, like a virgin—that means “put it back the way I wrote it”).

Several weeks later, there it is again, on the doorstep.  This time it’s Page Proofs.  But nowadays, thanks to so much being done electronically, this phase is fairly painless and even enjoyable.  We get to see the book the way it’ll look in print.  All we have to do is check for printer’s errors or our own mistakes we somehow missed in the ten thousand times we went over the manuscript already.

I’m not at that phase yet, but I’ll be sure to make a big deal about it when it’s done, because then, really, the book is done.  The next time I see it, it’ll have a cover and everything.

For LAST NIGHT’S SCANDAL, that will happen at the end of July 2010.  Since that’s a long way away, I’ll save talking about the book itself until we get closer to the date.  But for now you have an idea why a book takes so long after I “finish” it to get to the bookstore.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Bride returns

Let’s face it. My brain simply isn’t big enough to finish writing a book, blog every other day or so at Two Nerdy History Girls, and blog here, too.

Now, though, I’ve sent off the copyedited manuscript (more about that later)—and the experience may well provide blog fodder. That leaves me in the stage of staring into space, wondering what the next book will be about.

So here’s some news.

Once upon a time, between Lord of Scoundrels and The Last Hellion, I wrote a novella, “The Mad Earl’s Bride,” for an anthology titled Three Weddings and a Kiss.

Avon has reissued “The Mad Earl’s Bride” along with works by Catherine Anderson and Samantha James, in a handsome new volume titled Three Times a Bride, which will be out in May.

You can learn more about early 19th century weddings and dresses here.

The wedding dress pictured below is from the 1829 Ackermann’s Repository, as is the description.

A ROUND dress of Brussels lace over a slip of white gros de Tours ; the body of the slip is cut low and square ; the corsage of the dress is made up to the throat and fastens behind, it sets close to the shape round the upper part of the bust, but has a little fulness at the bottom of the waist. Long sleeve à l’Imbecille over the manche à la bêret of the slip. A biais of white lace, finished at the upper edge by a white satin rouleau, goes round the skirt, and is surmounted by an embroidery of uncommon depth and beauty. A Turkish pelisse of white satin is worn over the lace dress; it is open in front, and the corsage open before and behind falls over the bust in a deep fold, which is divided on the shoulder; a satin rouleau edges the front and corsage of the pelisse; the bottom of which has no other trimming than an ourlet of uncommon breadth. The hair is arranged in front in the Madona style, and disposed in full bows on the crown of the head. Head-dress, a garland of flowers (orange) and a Brussels lace veil; pearl necklace, from which is suspended a diamond cross; diamond earrings ; gold bracelets, à la Grecque, with diamond clasps ; white satin slippers laced in the sandal style; white kid gloves.