Archive for April, 2009

Let’s Talk AI

Friday, April 17th, 2009

American Idol, that is. Do you watch it? What did you think of this week’s show?

If you’ve watched American Idol before, but haven’t been watching this year, they have a new thingie this season called The Judges’ Save. There’s ONE opportunity in the entire season for the judges to decide to save a singer America has voted out.

This week, the judges used The Judges’ Save on Matt Giraud. I was glad they did. There was only one week remaining to use the Save, and Matt is a talented singer. The only thing that bothers me now is what if next week talents like Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey get voted into the bottom 2? Erk. Next week 2 singers will get ousted to make up for no one being turfed this week. Remember when Chris Daughtry was in the bottom 2? The Judges’ Save didn’t exist, and he was booted off. Erk. Yes, it could happen again.

I do think Matt’s deserving, though. My fav this season is Adam Lambert, with Danny Gokey running a close second, sometimes running a tie. I went into the season with Danny as my fav, because of his back story (his wife died shortly before he auditioned). I can’t remember seeing anything about Adam until his first performance post-auditions. He blew me away, and he’s been blowing me away ever since. Shades of Freddie Mercury, anyone?

I also love Alison Iraheta. Her voice reminds me of the Canadian band, Heart (which I had the privilege to hear perform when I was far too young to appreciate it).

After Alison, I’m a Matt fan.

Kris Allen…I just don’t know about this guy. I can’t deny he’s a talented singer, but his performances don’t grab me. Is anyone out there a Kris Allen Must Win! type of fan? Because, despite how the judges seem to love him, I’m not getting it.

Anoop Desai and Lil Rounds…I really thought Lil would go this week. She came out super strong in the beginning rounds, but seems to have floundered ever since. And Anoop—another great voice, especially the last couple of weeks, but I can’t see him lasting longer than Adam, Danny, Alison or Matt. We shall see.

The thing about Anoop and also Matt is that the judges have already saved them each once. Both were members of the Wild Card trio. The public had already voted them off the show, but the judges brought them back to make up the Final 12. So, when the public voted Matt off the show a second time, should the judges have used the Save to keep him? Aren’t they ignoring the public by bringing him back twice?

I think they made the right choice, but it will definitely be interesting to see what happens next week.

Oh, in case you’ve been living under an Internet rock and haven’t see the clip of Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent yet, wander on over to YouTube and take a boo. The look on Simon Cowell’s face is priceless.

MetaWhat?

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

In case you missed the Amazon brouhaha over the long weekend, you can read about it here. The Twitter nation got involved, and Dear Author also raised a commotion. A little entity called The New York Times chimed in, too.

Penny’s books were affected, although they’re appearing again now, sales ranking intact. (Hint, the first link leads to Penny’s first book, the second link to the second). If you’d like to increase Penny’s sales ranking in protest against the “glitch,” be my guest! (Hint, purchasing the volumes increases the rankings).

Frankly, the entire episode ranked. However, for many book buyers (like those who live in the boonies), Amazon and entities like it are the only option. Yeah, there’s Barnes and Noble…if you’re American. In Canada, we have Chapters and Amazon.ca. I order from Chapters when I can, but they don’t have as big a selection as Amazon.ca. Chapters doesn’t carry Penny’s books. Neither Chapters nor Amazon.ca carries my books. If you want the paperbacks, Amazon State-side is the only game in town.

What do you think about the brouhaha? Did you buy the “glitch”?

Welcome Guest Blogger Vanessa Kelly

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

WHY I LOVE THE REGENCYkelly_pic2

I write sensual, Regency-set historical romances—and I’m not the only one!  Take a look at any bestseller list and you’ll see lots of Regency authors like Mary Balogh, Eloisa James, and Stephanie Laurens topping the list.  The competition is fierce, and there are so many terrifyingly good historical authors out there, you have to wonder why anyone would be fool enough to attempt to break into their ranks.  Fortunately for me, readers love the Regency period, and are loyal and voracious consumers of romances set in this fascinating period.

So what is it, exactly, that we love about the Regency?  There are some obvious answers, of course.  The glamour, for one.  Aristocrats of the time loved to party, and party large.  The clothes were elegant, the soirees elaborate, and the conversation devastatingly witty.  And when the wealthy weren’t racing from one ball to the next in the city, they were hosting large kelly_marquessgatherings at their country estates, where they hunted, feasted, gambled, made love, and generally had a great time until the wee hours of the morn.  These settings are like gold to the writer, providing all kinds of opportunities for color, drama, and comedy amidst the social whirl of the ton.

The Regency was also populated with fascinating characters like The Prince Regent, Beau Brummell, Harriett Wilson, Byron and Caro Lamb, Lady Jersey and the other aristocratic hostesses who dictated the social rules governing high society.  These figures often people the novels of Regency romance, and provide fascinating authenticity to the period we love so much.

But underneath all that opulence and splendour lived another England—one that was violent and dark, and suffered all the evils of poverty and a society on the verge of massive change.  For the Regency author, this gothic underworld is a rich source of dramatic conflict.  It’s especially interesting to explore the subtleties of class distinctions that make English society so unique.  And what better way to do this than by creating a hero and heroine separated from each other by social class and wealth.  Those were huge barriers back in the early nineteenth-century, ones we have trouble imagining today, and it’s so much fun—as a writer—to explore those differences. 

I came to my love of Regency romance like many readers of the genre—by falling in love with the novels of Jane Austen.  So much so, that I went on to study English literature of the Regency period in graduate school.  I specialized in the novels of Fanny Burney, and studied the theme of madness in her books.  Years later, that theme was still rattling around in my head, and when I started writing my own Regency romance, madhouses and conniving relatives, and dastardly villains soon made their way into my book.

MASTERING THE MARQUESS is the story of a woman intent on saving her little sister from incarceration in an insane asylum.  My heroine, Meredith, turns for help to the Marquess of Silverton, a man above her class, and arrogant and powerful to boot.  Meredith has always led a sheltered life in the country, but she soon finds herself thrown into the unfamiliar and bewildering world of London’s high society.  Add in the madhouse and the villains, along with the social snobs, and you have a romance that combines the glittering elegance of the Regency ton with the dark underworld of the Gothic.

So, dear readers, what do you think?  What is it about that Regency that fascinates us so much, and makes it such a great period to read and write about?

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Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of MASTERING THE MARQUESS. Entries accepted until midnight, PST.

To read Vanessa’s bio and the back cover blurb for MASTERING THE MARQUESS, please see yesterday’s post.

To learn more about Vanessa and her upcoming books, please visit her website.

Vanessa Kelly Guest Blogging Tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

I hope everyone had a fantastic long weekend. I’m still focusing on finishing my WIP, so isn’t it fortunate that I have a talented guest blogger and book give-away happening tomorrow? Debut Regency historical romance author, Vanessa Kelly, will talk about why she loves the regency period and will give away a copy of her April release, MASTERING THE MARQUESS, which, naturally, is set in the regency period. Yes, all you history buffs, you can start salivating…now.

Back Cover Copy for MASTERING THE MARQUESS:

Since the loss of her parents, Meredith Burnley has contented herself with a solitary life looking after her half-sister, Annabel.  But Meredith’s peace is shattered when her uncle schemes to marry her off to his son in order to gain her inheritance.  Desperate, Meredith has only one choice:  to flee with Annabel to their estranged grandparents’ home.  But their arrival soon reignites a family scandal—and kindles unexpected romance…

Happily reunited with the girls, Annabel’s grandmother resolves to convince her nephew, Stephen Mallory, the Marquess of Silverton, to abandon his rakish lifestyle and wed Annabel.  Stephen is clearly captivated—but with the wrong sister.  Determined to make Meredith his own, Stephen embarks on a seduction that will leave her with no choice but to surrender to his touch…

That naughty, naughty Stephen.

Tomorrow, please leave a comment to enter to win a paperback copy of MASTERING THE MARQUESS. Entries be accepted until midnight, April 15th, Pacific Standard Time.

About Vanessa:kelly_pic

Vanessa Kelly was born and raised in New Jersey, but eventually migrated north to Canada.  She holds a Master’s Degree from Rutgers University, and went on to attend the Ph.D. program in English Literature at the University of Toronto.  Alas, she didn’t finish her degree, but she did spend many happy hours studying the works of 18th century British authors and writing about the madness of King George III.  She left graduate school to work as a researcher and writer for a large public sector organization.  Vanessa now devotes her time to writing historical romance, and hopes that her readers will find her books as much fun to read as they were to write.  She currently lives with her husband in Ottawa.  You can visit her on the web at www.vanessakellyauthor.com.

Blog Hoppy

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

No, that shouldn’t be happy. In honor of the guy in the big, furry bunny suit, it’s hoppy. Pass it on.

Because I’m still laboring at my desk, here are some great places to visit if you’re so inspired. First, the Blaze authors have a new group blog. And Kensington author, HelenKay Dimon, has a snazzy new website. Love the new colors, HelenKay. Last, there’s an interesting new blog out there called Romance in the Backseat. Whose back seat, you ask? I’m not sure. But the blog features interviews with authors in the back seat of a car. It’s a cool concept, so go check it out.

Hop, hop, hopping into the long weekend…. Have a good one, everyone!

Spring Fever…Scattered Brain

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Yesterday was the first day in my neck of the woods that I could honestly say felt like spring. Yay. My tulips should be blooming soon. Maybe my ears will follow. :::collective groan:::

You should expect to find the blog light on content over the next couple of weeks. With a long weekend approaching, my ‘Rents returning from their winter away, doing taxes, and badgering Youngest Son through his college finals, I can barely find time to scribble out a scene here and there. I’m in the last two or three chapters of the WIP, so that’s where I’ll be placing my focus. I want this book done, so I can put it aside and give it time to gel while I tackle a shorter project.

How about you? Want to share your writing goals, your Easter plans? Is spring visiting your part of the globe? Are your ears sprouting?

Oh, before I forget, I am hosting one guest blogger in April. The lovely Vanessa Kelly, a debut regency historical author with Kensington Publishing, is visiting April 15th. That’s next Wednesday, and, yippsee-doodle, there’ll be a book give-away involved.