Clown Barf Scarf

Some fun links from my Facebook page this past week– On Monday I posted this photo of a scarf I knitted from Astrid Bear’s Clown Barf yarn.Mostly, I admit, so I could put the words “Clown Barf Scarf” together in a sentence. And then a bunch of people chastised me for knitting instead of writing.…

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Today, romance.
Specifically, Regency romances, that subgenre set in England between 1811 and 1820, when George III went mad and his son, the Prince Regent, later to become George IV, assumed the powers of the throne. These are the days of Napoleon, Wellington, and Waterloo, Beau Brummell, and dresses with waists so high women went in danger of their breasts falling out of their bodices.

jane-austen-picIt is also the time of (sound of trumpets here) Jane Austen, who wielded one of literature’s sharpest and wittiest pens. I heard someone say once that the saddest words in Pride and Prejudice are “the end.” What he said. The novel itself is always and ever your first stop, but Pride and Prejudice has also been made into film at least seven times. My favorite is the BBC series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, but my guilty pleasure is Bride and Prejudice, director Gurinder Chadha’s Bollywood musical based on the novel. It’s as funny and smart as the original novel, which is saying something, and I defy you not to get up and dance in your pyjamas to “No Life Without Wife."
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAxlIbUTlZo&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

brummelThat I lived when Georgette Heyer wrote is a gift for which I will be ever grateful. Start with The Unknown Ajax, with dueling valets Polyphant and Crimplesham and of course the incomparable Lady Aurelia, continue with Frederica and the only definition of romantic love that has ever made sense to me, and then for a change of pace read A Civil Contract, her most serious and I think her best novel. Sandringham, the British equivalent of West Point, used Heyer’s An Infamous Army to teach cadets about the battle of Waterloo, and I recommend reading the three books leading up to it, too: These Old Shades, The Devil’s Cub and Regency Buck. These are characters made of flesh and blood, this is dialogue sharp enough to cut yourself on, and these books are nothing less than a time machine that will transport you directly to Regency England. Accept no substitutes.

Well, okay, except for…

lady_caroline_lamb_by_eliza_h_trotterJude Morgan’s novel Indiscretion is simply delightful, a book even Georgette Heyer would love. The plot is tried and true; the destitute Miss Caroline Fortune (a self-fullfilling name if there ever was one) accepts a position as paid companion to holy domestic terror Mrs. Catling, but this plot is elevated by a prose so delightful as to transcend the genre. Let the book fall open to any page and you are sure to encounter a paragraph you positively must reread, all the better to keep laughing, as on p. 33, "The Colonel, on his deathbed, urged me to retire to Bath when he was gone. I informed him that as I was neither decayed spinster, ambitious tradesman or disreputable fortune-hunter, I could not fall in with his wishes. He was not in a condition to laugh, but I flatter myself there was amusement in his respiration." This, this is how the thing is done. A must read for any Heyer or Jane Austen fan.

# Permanent link to Regency Romances

Banned Books Week

A, what else, Google map of places books were banned in the United States in 2008-2009. South Dakota and New Mexico, please note, banned no books during this period. Also, please note, Alaska and Hawaii nowhere to be found. (That’s okay, we’ll be hanging off the coast of California during the evening weather report on…

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Dividend Haiku

[Don’t blame me, Frank Gerjevic started it over at the Anchorage Daily News.] Signs of Fall Termination dust. Fresh moose tongue. Dark red fireweed. Stars back. Dividend. [Personal message to John Straley: You have to be pleased with all those seasonal references.]

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Hot Books for Cold Nights

[written for Vibrant Nation in January. Worth reprinting now that we’re officially into fall.] I’m an expert in cold nights, and in ways to keep warm during them. A fire in the wood stove. Irish coffee made with Jameson’s. Hugh Jackman on the television screen. Any one of those’ll get the job done. So will…

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Good Book Club Books

I love book clubs. At one time I belonged to four. One was a crime fiction book club at a book store, one I ran from this website, a third I hosted on the radio, and I belong to a book club that just celebrated its twenty-second year. We are eight women who get together…

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Confessing Geekdom

[The last of my four June blogs for 49 Writers, No Moose.] I love good science fiction with a consuming passion. I loved Star Trek. TNG, I mean, not TOS. Kirk blows, Picard rocks, game over. I didn’t hate DS9 after the war with the Dominion started, Voyager worked after Seven came on board, and…

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Writing History

The third of my guest blogs on 49 Writers, No Moose in June — I’m writing an historical novel set in the 14th century, and for a long time I obsessed over how to avoid anachronism, particularly in dialogue. [Example: Marco Polo’s granddaughter, Johanna, going to the stables to discover BFF Jaufre fighting off the…

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Loving Coasties

Second of the guest blogs I wrote for 49 Writers, No Moose in June. — The absolute best part of a writer’s life is the research. I’ve written two thrillers, Blindfold Game and Prepared for Rage. For both novels I went on patrol with the US Coast Guard, first on Alex Haley for 16 days…

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Living Alaskan

Reprinted from last month’s guest blog on 49 Writers, No Moose. I was invited to write anything I wanted, about writing or not, so I did. I’ll be posting them here for the next four Fridays. — For years I tried to get an agent because “everybody” told me that the way the publishing game…

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