It's Friday (or early Saturday if you're on the other side of ye olde date line), and I have a collection of links to things that I hope you'll find interesting – or thought provoking. Possibly scary.
I'm over at Kirkus this week, recommending two books for your immediate reading needs:
Whether your reading tastes vary during the summer or are pretty consistent throughout the calendar—and I'm definitely of the latter reading group—the books we enjoy most when we're trying to relax seem to have all the warmth of good weather without the biting pain and lasting irritation of mosquito bites.
So here are two warm, wonderful, and just plain lovely books to try this month:
Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan
I love Morgan's writing, and whenever I'm recommending Harlequin Presents, I always mention hers. This is her second single-title romance for HQN, and I happily recommend those, too.
As I noted earlier today, the first book in that series, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, is $1.99 this weekend, too. You know, if you have some romance purchase needs.
Danielle Summers wrote about the Chicago North Spring Fling for The Rumpus, regarding how romance writing is a feminist act:
But by far, the ultimate act of feminist defiance by romance writers is that they don’t care whether the literary establishment gives them respect or not.
“As romance writers you bring happiness to people. Never apologize for what you do,” said Mary Balogh, a keynote speaker at the conference and the author of nearly 100 novels and novellas set in 19th century Regency England. (Some of these books have hit the New York Times bestseller list.) She then urged the audience to “have the courage to take yourself seriously.”
None of the speakers at the event, including Balogh, said anything about asking anyone else to take them seriously or to give them respect or anything else. The literary establishment can snicker all it wants. Romance writers have readers. They do what they love.
I attended the Spring Fling, and moderated on a panel with Mary Balogh. She is an unequivocal badass as a speaker.
Kindle Unlimited has been opened for reader types for a 30 day free trial. One click (oooh, so easy) and you have access to a rather large selection of books, though the romance selection is mostly self-published, plus Kensington and Sourcebooks titles.
Angie James pointed out on Twitter that selecting a book to read from the KUn program triggers a discount on the audiobook purchase – which is pretty spiffy. I'm not entirely sure I'd subscribe for $10 a month. What do you think?
I linked to this on Twitter but realized I'd never posted it here. (Ooops). The Guardian reported that a new wax statue of Jane Austen had been created using descriptions of her from the written accounts of her contemporaries:
The Jane Austen Centre claims to have drawn on forensic techniques and eye-witness accounts to create the closest ever likeness of the Pride and Prejudice novelist.
Their waxwork went on display at the centre in Bath on Wednesday morning. It has taken three years to create, with forensic artist Melissa Dring taking as her starting point the sketch done by Austen's sister Cassandra in 1810, the only accepted portrait of the writer other than an 1870 adaptation of that picture. She then used contemporary eyewitness descriptions of the novelist to come up with her own likeness.
I am fascinated by this statue, particularly how well done and vibrant it is. It looks as if she's about to speak or smile or something.
Photograph credit: Alastair Johnstone/SWNS.COM/SWNS.COM
Ally aka Bliss Undone's adventures continue at The Chatsfield, and her adventures get more saucy, too. (I wrote Ally's character, and in doing so completely screwed up my ability to
recognize recognise recognize – ARGH- which words have Zs and which have Ss in American spelling.)
I thought this article in the New York Times was fascinating: writers explain how playing Dungeons & Dragons was influential in their creative process:
When he was an immigrant boy growing up in New Jersey, the writer Junot Díaz said he felt marginalized. But that feeling was dispelled somewhat in 1981 when he was in sixth grade. He and his buddies, adventuring pals with roots in distant realms — Egypt, Ireland, Cuba and the Dominican Republic — became “totally sucked in,” he said, by a “completely radical concept: role-playing,” in the form of Dungeons & Dragons.
Playing D&D and spinning tales of heroic quests, “we welfare kids could travel,” Mr. Díaz, 45, said in an email interview, “have adventures, succeed, be powerful, triumph, fail and be in ways that would have been impossible in the larger real world.”
“For nerds like us, D&D hit like an extra horizon,” he added. The game functioned as “a sort of storytelling apprenticeship.”
Now the much-played and much-mocked Dungeons & Dragons, the first commercially available role-playing game, has turned 40….
For certain writers, especially those raised in the 1970s and ’80s, all that time spent in basements has paid off. D&D helped jump-start their creative lives. As Mr. Díaz said, “It’s been a formative narrative media for all sorts of writers.”
I was not a D&D player, though I remember hanging out with a bunch of people when I was in high school who were very into role playing games, and listening to them was fascinating stuff (especially when they argued). Did you play D&D? Do you think it influenced you as a creative person?
Bother. I can't find who sent me this link, but someone completely awesome sent me this link to Loads of Women Running From Houses: The Gothic Romance Paperback.
What exactly is the “women running from houses” genre? I’m glad you asked. It refers to Gothic romance novels (generally paperback) which WITHOUT EXCEPTION pictured a woman running from a house on the cover. It’s really a bit insane when you think about it: for several decades an entire genre (a quite popular one at that) featured the exact same cover with very little variation.
The endless line of cover after cover featuring a woman running away from a house is hilarious – and also so true. I can think of at least three books on my shelf growing up (and also now) that feature that motif.
This link, sent to me by Gry, is very thought provoking and disturbing: Photographs of People Lying in 7 Days Worth of Their Trash.
The United States has a trash problem. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces more than 4 pounds of garbage per day. That’s more than double the amount produced in 1960, and it’s 50 percent more than the amount produced by Western Europeans. In January, photographer Gregg Segal decided to put some imagery to those numbers. His ongoing series, “7 Days of Garbage,” shows Californian friends, neighbors, and relative strangers lying in the trash they created in one week
This is something I think about frequently, given that in the area in which I live, recycling options are limited and most plastic goes into the trash. I'm fascinated by how different countries and even smaller communities manage their refuse. I wonder if there's a documentary about trash practices worldwide. I'd watch the hell out of that.
And finally: bear romance. This went viral, justifiably so, and if you missed it, well, enjoy. And O Canada, thank you. So much. MWAH.