Museum lights

Here are two facts about me: I like modern art, and I suffer from migraines. The day before yesterday, I visited the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, where there’s a huge new wing for modern art built underneath the garden, two stories below. The ceiling is huge, and there are glassy domes in it which you can see from the outside, too. At first you think that they are used to let in some daylight, but once inside, you realise that they are some sort of neon lamps. And the light they emit is utterly weird. […]

By | July 30th, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Health, Rike Horstmann|Tags: , , |1 Comment

RWA 2012 Wrap Up

disney RWA 2012 was my fifth conference; I’ve been to the last three in a row, and before that was at Reno in 2005 and Denver in 2002. With that many under my belt I am learning that each conference has its own vibe, and some are happier and, well, lighter than others. This was an upbeat, optimistic conference. I wasn’t the only one that noticed; there was more than one comment to that effect on twitter, and several people made that observation to me in person.

Part of the reason is that last year the industry was in transition and everyone felt a little tense. Everyone knew that digital publishing was having an impact and no one was quite sure what that impact would be for traditional publishers – or for authors. […]

By | July 30th, 2012|Categories: AAR Blythe, Publishing, RWA|11 Comments

From Scratch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72YO3H8RbA8 […]

By | July 28th, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking, Leigh AAR, Real Life|7 Comments

London 2012

london-2012

We recently put the axe to our cable subscription, thereby saving $500 a year, and one of the questions the cable agent nagged about was didn’t I want to watch the Olympics, at least, and delay the cancellation by a month.  Well, no.  Not really.  But if, as we’ve experienced, there’s a delay in the service actually stopping, then I might actually tune in.  For the tennis, and Clara Hughes.

The Summer Games are supposed to be the big ones, the official ones, where we crown fastest man on the planet, and the traditional Greek Olympian field athletics legacies.  Shot put!  Javelin!  High jump!  Don’t you remember the days in the sand pit?  But me, I was always into spectator sports, and not into athletics. I didn’t care about soccer, really, or baseball, and while I liked gymnastics, it got a bit routine for me.  Ice skating, now, was fun.  It was drama.  And hockey was just the best.  So the winter Olympics became a priority in my mind, while the summer games slipped by. […]

By | July 27th, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Jean AAR, Real Life, Television|7 Comments

RWA 2012 – The First Full Day of the Conference

carinacovers As always, the Romance Writers of America conference is an almost overwhelming flurry of activity. On the one hand, I love walking through the hotel and hearing snippets of conversations from writers, editors, agents, and others. On the other hand, it can be something of a dizzying whirl. I’ve enjoyed catching up with folks I get to see only once a year, and I’ve gotten to meet some of the authors whose books I’ve loved, which is always a thrill. The sharing of ideas is quite contagious as people exchange information, tips, and gossip. As I’ve spoken to various authors, publishing houses, and agents, a few topics have already come up over and over again.
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By | July 27th, 2012|Categories: Book news, Lynn AAR, Publishing|Tags: , |6 Comments

RWA 2012: News From Anaheim

literacysigningRWA 2012 began early yesterday for Lynn Spencer and me; we started the day at Disneyland (first time for her, umpteenth for me). Only one thing could tear me away: The annual literary signing. I only got to ride Space Mountain once, but I did get to catch up with lots of authors and find out what they’re up to. Here’s what’s new and exciting:

I caught up with Tessa Dare first. Her latest Spindle Cove book (featuring Kate and Thorne) is out in August. After that, there’s one more…featuring Pauline, the serving girl at the tavern. I asked if she’s really a serving girl. Instead of, you know, a secret countess or something. Yep, she’s the real deal.

Kate Noble’s next book is about Bridget, the sister of If I Fall‘s heroine. But she’s also working on The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, a modern web video and interactive adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Sounds like fun.

Carrie Lofty has several balls in the air. She still has a couple of books to write in the Christie series, but is also collaborating on a contemporary erotica series with fighter pilots in Las Vegas. They’ll be released under a new name – Katie Porter. I couldn’t help asking whether her unusual historicals were a hard sell. She said she had a supportive editor at Pocket who enjoyed unusual settings (and signed both her and Meredith Duran). Vive la Difference! (And if you’re not reading her books yet, you should be).

And speaking of unusual settings and characters, Delilah Marvelle’s next project has a heroine who stutters and a bare-knuckle boxer hero. It’s called Forever a Lord. after that she’ll turn her attention to the French Revolution, with a series of books set in both England and France.

Molly O’Keefe is looking ahead to a contemporary series set in a small Southern town. I had to ask whether anyone marries the sheriff…apparently not. So you can write a small town series sans sheriff. I knew it! I told her our reviewers fight over her books, which is true.

Victoria Dahl’s new series is set in Jackson Hole, with cowboy heroes. Apparently they all live in an old farm house that’s been turned into an apartment building and appropriately named The Stud Farm (because of the landlady’s propensity to accept only hot tenants). Obviously, this apartment building should be closer to my house. And yours.

[…]

By | July 26th, 2012|Categories: AAR Blythe, Authors, Book Signing News, Publishing, RWA|10 Comments

Arranged Marriages: Pixar vs. Sherry Thomas

handsThere were many things I loved about Sherry Thomas’ Ravishing the Heiress, secondary characters notwithstanding.  The writing.  Fitz and Millie.  The writing.  (Can you tell I love it?)  But there’s one particular aspect that stands out, and that’s how Ms. Thomas treats an arranged marriage.

I saw Pixar’s Brave the same weekend that I finished Ravishing the Heiress, and the contrast could not have been greater.  In the first, Scottish princess Merida rebels against her mother, traditional feminine pursuits, and the whole idea of an arranged marriage.  Forget embroidery, and to hell with marrying one of the chieftain’s sons to keep the clans together – Merida will win her own hand in marriage.  I’m not giving anything away if I tell you that by the end Merida will have reached a new understanding with her mother and learned the value of compromise – but she sure ain’t married either.

Things are different in Ravishing the Heiress, besides the obvious differences in audience (it’s a romance) and form (it’s a novel – duh).  Millie loves Fitz, and Fitz loves someone else.  But does Millie refuse the marriage because she wants to marry for love, and wait until he recognizes his love for her?  Nope.  Millie’s family wants social standing and Millie has been groomed for this her entire life; and Fitz needs to restore the decrepit estate.  So Millie goes through with it.  And it takes eight years – read that, eight years – before their relationship becomes true love.

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By | July 25th, 2012|Categories: Uncategorized|27 Comments

Blue skies

003 (2)This used to be sky above Germany, for about the last six weeks or so. Grey, grey, grey. Lots of rain. People undigging woolly sweaters from their wardrobes and wearing them when it got just too cold for cotton. I’m not kidding!

It’s only since last Sunday that the skies have cleared up and it’s nice and sunny. I can’t tell you how much I’d been missing the sunshine!

It’s probably human nature to long for what we don’t have right now: Some cool winds and rainshowers in a heat wave, and blue skies and warm sunshine during a cold spell. […]

By | July 25th, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Real Life, Rike Horstmann|Tags: , , |3 Comments

More on Diversity

I have never read a book by Tana French and the first time I saw her name was in the Eagerly Awaited August Books where both Dabney and Lynn indicate that they are looking forward to her new release Broken Harbor.  Then while surfing the Web, I came across  her name again.  She wrote an article for Publishers Weekly outlining her writing tips.

A few of them didn’t resonate, but this one did:

There’s no such thing as ‘men’ or ‘women’. There’s only the individual character you’re writing. One guy emailed me asking me how to write women, and I couldn’t answer, because I had no idea which woman he meant: me? Eleanor of Aquitaine? Lady Gaga? If you’re thinking of ‘men’ or ‘women’ as a monolithic group defined primarily by their sex, then you’re not thinking of them as individuals; so your character isn’t going to come out as an individual, but as a collection of stereotypes. Sure, there are differences between men and women on average – but you’re writing an individual, not an average. If your individual character is chatty on the phone or refuses to ask for directions, that needs to be because of who he or she is, not because of what he or she is. Write the person, not the genitalia.

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By | July 24th, 2012|Categories: Authors, Books, Characters, Heroes, Heroines, Leigh AAR, Reading, Romance reading, Settings|Tags: , |14 Comments

Going to the Movies

memorial ribbon for batman Way back in 2005 my husband surprised my son and I with tickets to the midnight showing of Batman Begins. My son, only 10 and not allowed to stay up that late on a regular basis, was completely and totally thrilled. We were on vacation and as a result got to see the film on a Super IMAX screen. The experience was just amazing. Seven years later it is still a special memory.

By the time The Dark Knight came out our town had built an IMAX, so I took my son to a midnight showing of that movie as well. He was excited about being able to see both films on an IMAX at midnight and started talking about seeing the third movie the same way before we were even seated for the second one. Needless to say, I bought tickets for Dark Knight Rises back in June to ensure that he was able to see all the premieres at midnight in an IMAX theater. It was a silly thing to be excited about I guess but we are a family of nerds and movie buffs and this is the type of thing that makes us happy. In order to guarantee good seats Michael got there by 8:30 pm. He had a fellow fanatic seated next to him (duh) and the two were able to pass the time discussing all the films they mutually loved as well as their expectations for this one. Anyone who has been to a midnight showing knows this is not just your typical movie outing. The fans are beyond excited. Many dress in costumes. The atmosphere is festive and jubilant. […]