Links and News and Stuff

Time to exercise the A-to-the-href!

First: Linda Holmes from NPR’s MonkeySee blog has a wonderful response to the Quilliam article, specifically to the research within it: Romance Fiction And Women’s Health: A Dose Of Skepticism. This examination of one of the “studies” quoted in the Quilliam article is my favorite part:

So they went on to a second study designed to control for whether it was really the condom-less romance novels at fault for the negative condom attitudes. Here’s where it gets … a little bit funny.

What they did was split the subjects into groups, and one group got two paragraphs of an actual romance novel written by a romance novelist that didn’t mention condoms. The other group got those same two paragraphs with this bit added in between:

He pulled back slightly so he could look at her. “Should we use protection?” he asked gently. She nodded at him, her face warm, as he unwrapped the bright foil. Pleased with his concern for her, she smiled at him and kissed his throat.

It appears from the paper — which stresses that the other parts of the excerpts came from real books — that they wrote this paragraph themselves. And … I don’t mean to be critical, but that is the least sexy, most distracting, most pull-you-out-of-the-moment things I have ever read.

Ohhhh yeah. That’s hot. Except not at all.


Next week I’m in Vancouver, BC, Canada (MAPLE SYRUP HERE I COME) for the Simon Fraser University Summer Publishing Institute. I’m speaking to the institute members on Monday, but then, there’s more! On Tuesday, 12 July, I’ll be teaching a one-day intensive workshop: Writing the Romance Novel: Explore the Romance Genre. There are still a few spots left if you’d like to join the course. I’ll be talking about the genre itself, what it is and how it’s changed, and the necessary elements to an excellent romance novel.

I taught this course last year and it was, in a word, FUN. We spent a good part of the afternoon collaborating on an outline for a romance, identifying the heroine, the hero, their conflict, and the setting. Because there were forest fires in British Columbia at that time last year, the class decided to set the novel in the area that was burning, with a vineyard owner hero and a forest fire fighter heroine who is about to tell the hero that those vines he just planted need to be cut down to battle the wildfire. It sounded AWESOME. If you’re interested and in the area, I hope you’ll sign up and join us this year.


ETA: I’m over at Kirkus this week talking about glomming, and Sarah Morgan glomfest I’ve enjoyed the past week:

Sometimes it’s humor we’re craving, or a slightly goofy style of narration. Other times, it’s the strength of the characters and the way in which the author can play with tropes and archetypes. It’s a form of literary gluttony, the glom—we want everything that author has ever written so we can enjoy it in a feast for the mind and emotions.


Book CoverRemember Yours To Keep by Shannon Stacey, the June Sizzling Book Club pick, and Jane’s and my Save the Contemporary as well? Maybe you heard us talking about it. It seems a whole lot of people have been talking about, too. The book totally hit the NY Times at #33 in the ebook list, and #106 in the USA Today this week!

This good news comes on the heels of Courtney Milan’s RWA-party-palooza of awesome tidings last week, where she found out that her self-published novella, Unlocked, hit “the New York Times ebook list at #6, the combined print and ebook list at #19, and the USA Today list at #36.”

ETA: And there’s more: Lorelei James hit the NY Times bestsellers ebook list this week at #20 with her eleventh book in the Rough Riders series, CHASIN’ EIGHT.  She also hit the USA Today at #83.

Seriously, over here? *happydance* What’s your good news today?

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General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    North of 49 says:

    Vancouver is known for it’s seafood, especially salmon.  Some great Chinese, Japanese, and Viet cuisines for sure. 
    Don’t miss Purdy’s for the chocolate.
    BC is famous for it’s wine and fresh produce.

    You might find some Maple Syrup on the breakfast table…

    Otherwise enjoy it!

  2. 2

    Well, in the wake of the unbelievably horrible news about what journalists working for Murdoch’s News International are doing, came something.

    BBC “Question Time” is a political discussion programme, and of course it was all about the News of the World phone tapping scandal. Hugh Grant just totally rocked the panel. He played a Prime Minister in “Love, Actually.” I think he should do it for real. He was completely awesome.

  3. 3

    A clip of Hugh Grant doing his stuff:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14073260
    Hope that link works for you.

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    Lynne, I don’t even know if I can describe the depths of my respectful crush on Hugh Grant. This just makes it worse.

  5. 5
    Vicki says:

    Love Hugh Grant even more now.

    And the last romance I read, Dancing in the Moonlight (and I enjoyed it), did reference condoms.

  6. 6
    Lisa Hendrix says:

    Hugh Grant has forever erased the incident with the…sorry, it’s gone.

  7. 7
    Emily says:

    MY library just got a copy of Iron Duke! I checked out! Its very interesting. I have just started reading it. I looked for this book before but they didn’t have it. I did a happy dance to see the book. Not great world news, but good for our library!

  8. 8

    I read a book (bugger, the title escapes me at the moment), where the couple in question were very, um, funny (but in a hot-for-each-other way), and when the hero is madly fumbling around for his condom, it adds humour and tension with the frustrated couple – but this is one of the rare scenes where the contraception has added to the story. Mostly I find it an intrusive safe sex message better left for another kind of campaign…

    But, then again, I have read some incredibly hot scenes where the condom isn’t around, so they use their imagination to get around the ‘if it ain’t on, it ain’t on’ issue.

  9. 9
    Faellie says:

    “Pleased with his concern for her”????  Yikes!

    I read less and less new romance because the sexism hurts so much.  But if this text is something a so-called researcher wrote to test attitudes to condoms, they needed to make it neutral on all other issues.

    If I had been in that survey, I would have nixed the condom passage on grounds of stupidity and sexism, rather than condom use.  The fact that it isn’t romantic comes a long way down the list of its problems.

    Ye gods.

  10. 10
    Suzannah says:

    I was reading Sarah Morgan’s new book “Doukakis’s Apprentice” last week (excellent, btw) and, while there was no rustling of the condom packet at the crucial moment, one of the characters commented at some point afterwards that they had used protection. I thought that was an interesting way of dealing with it because it didn’t ruin the moment with the practicalities, but definitely contained a reminder that protection was a good idea.

  11. 11
    AgTigress says:

    Sarah — I enjoyed your piece on ‘glomming’, a useful word that American English took from Scots and Gaelic, but that passed us (British English speakers) by.

    I know the feeling only too well, not only with novels but with music, hobbies and so on.  Discovering something new that delights one, and then going on to research the subject to an extreme degree.  It can become obsessive.  It’s actually much the same process that one has to go through when writing a (non-fiction) book:  if one is not emotionally consumed by the subject and all its ramifications, the impetus fades.

  12. 12
    Maria says:

    I just had a serious Netflix Glomfest on Downton Abbey. I watched all 7 episodes back to back.  I had watched all of Upstairs|Downstairs on the plane from Heathrow to Miami and needed something similar to glom on. Now I’m jonesing for something that has an actual resolution since I don’t know when the next season of either is due out.

  13. 13
    Amelia says:

    I love Matches and Matrimony, though it does drive me up the wall.  Of all the endings you can get I keep getting the same two.  I either end up married to Mr. Collins or alone.  I keep trying to get married to Captain Wentworth and I haven’t achieved that goal yet!

  14. 14
    Ann Blackie says:

    The last time I played, I ended up married to Mr. Darcy but he was so ashamed of me he spent a lot of time in London and kept me hidden away in the country. I’ve avoided Mr. Collins so far (Thank God)!

  15. 15
    Emily says:

    I agree with you about the Kate Noble cover, except I like the one for If I Fall. I am not sure those are sequins. It looks like a braided tri. That and the title seems to be inspired by a Beatles song make me want to read it.

  16. 16
    Emily says:

    I had typed braided trim. I am sure how the m was deleted last minute.

  17. 17
    LJmysticowl says:

    I love it, too! I got all 9 endings, although I did have to cheat and look up some hints for Mr. Darcy, he’s the hardest to get. I know there are certain decisions you can make pre-Wentworth appearing that will nip that right in the bud, he won’t even approach. He’s the one I was aiming for too, he’s my favourite Austen hero.

    For anyone curious, M&M uses P&P, S&S, and Persuasion for its story, it smushes characters in the funniest ways. (Guess who Wickeby is a smush of. Go on, guess.)

  18. 18
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    Not that it matters, but your question about whether sequins existed during the Regency period made me curious. According to ye olde Wikipedia (which we all know is never wrong), sequins have been around since 2500 B.C. I wasn’t previously aware that our Bronze Age ancestors also had Las Vegas showgirls.

    The more you know.

  19. 19
    KarenF says:

    Yikes, I can see how Matches and Matrimony could get really addictive… I’m a horrible person, though because I accidentally killed off one of the main character’s sisters and ended up alone.

  20. 20
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    Damn it, SBSarah, I’ve spent the entire afternoon playing Matches and Matrimony (in between making and freezing copious amounts of food in preparation for the next term—yeah, I do that). I’m blaming you for a wasted afternoon and a now-empty bottle of cabernet, not to mention my bruised ego because Darcy is too ashamed of me to defend me from all the cruel high-society types.

  21. 21
    SB Sarah says:

    THAT is so cool. I love that back in the way back day, there were sequins. KICKASS.

  22. 22
    SB Sarah says:

    Sorry about that.

  23. 23

    Back in the Day all Nouns were capitalized. This is rather odd for We who live in this Day and Age as We know that all proper Nouns do not count in Scrabble!

  24. 24
    Nikki says:

    In the past, sequins were better known as spangles and were made of precious metals. They were quite popular during the Rococo period (18th century aristocrats did love their sparklies), and some of that carried over into the Regency era, where spangles were mostly used to embellish evening garments.

    I don’t think the dress on the cover in question is a good example – it looks like a day dress to me, and the trim around the sleeve and waist seems out of place for the style.

    *takes off costume history nerd hat*

  25. 25
    kkw says:

    In true everything I know I learned from romance novels form, I looked into the history of sequins because Babs Childe has a spangled dress in Infamous Army.  Spangled just doesn’t sound awesome (spayed meets tangled is sexy how?) but I needed to know more, because everyone is so mesmerized. To be fair, I’d seen plenty of ye olde costumes in museums with sequins so I knew they existed and were popular with religious leaders, so maybe not *everything* I know.  But close.  She also gilds her toe nails, which I hadn’t known they did back then.

  26. 26
    Rebecca says:

    What a shame that the online Austen game doesn’t include Mansfield Park, the Austen novel with the most interesting potential for marrying a reformed seducer.  (I like to think that Mary Crawford eventually settled down into a happy spinsterhood and wrote novels.)

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