Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Are You a Fan of GBS?

Who, what or where is GBS, you ask?

It's George Bernard Shaw and I am a fan of his.  I took a course in college on Irish Literature and fell in love with his plays.  They were witty, intellectual, and thought provoking.  Major Barbara and Caesar and Cleopatra will often pop into my head.  Sadly, when I moved abroad and had to widdle my books down to 1 tonne [very hard], the collection of his plays was passed on to the local Friends of the Library and I've never purchased them again.

That may change because I just found out something new about GBS that has me wanting to rediscover his work.  He loved collecting and taking photographs.  A new side to the man and you can view the first images of his collection that is being put online at London School of Economics and Political Science [or http://lib-1.lse.ac.uk/archivesblog/?tag=bernard-shaw].

My recent edition of the National Trust Magazine had some and they showed a new side to the man.  The picture [George Bernard Shaw in Long Johns] above is from the LSE archives - thank you, for putting these online.  I will be enjoying the revelation of the photographer GBS and what it reveals of him.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Naughty Thought for Monday

Hello Kitty Dominatrix, enough said.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Time to Decorate!

As I mentioned yesterday, the cutie and I get each other an ornament for our Christmas tree as our anniversary pressies.  That is as far as we go when it comes to decorating for the holidays.  However, don't think we aren't all that festive in the Greene household, because we are.  We have the Sideshow Bob of trees and it happens to stay up all year round - the chili lights make it perfect for summer.

Something that was added to our tree in September was a pressie from my sister.  We both hate, seriously hate, birds.  A few years ago I bought her the Extraordinary Chickens calendar - not to be mean, but because we had it and thought it was [and still is] one of the best calendars around!  Well, she got her revenge this year.  She handed me my birthday pressie to open.  I took the lid off and there was a horrific looking black crow bird thing.  Scary!  The cutie found it so funny, he put it on top of our tree! 

I live with a Hitchcock The Birds moment happening above my head every day!

So disturbing.

The Holidays have begun :-)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Another Twist on Black Friday

I think it was last year I rethought Black Friday because it's a day I never think of shopping.  That kind of thinking might have come from how, since I was 16 or 17, I worked it!  Nothing better than having to deal with the chaos behind the counter to make you not want to get out into the mix of it all.

So, another way to think of Black Friday is to think Black Gems.

In Whitby, near where I lived in England, and also where Bram Stocker wrote Dracula, comes a type of black stone called Jet.  The peak of Jet jewelry was the Victorian era, although you can still find some beautiful pieces today.  Each time we go to visit there, I think about coming home with something.  Maybe this is the year.  I'm pretty sure we'll be going there for fish & chips [chip butty for me] at Magpie's Cafe and pick up some Fortunes Smoked Kippers for the cutie and his dad - definitely not for me!

Obsidian is another black gemstone and has unique properties.  Laurell K Hamilton also wrote a book in her Anita Blake series called Obsidian Buterfly and that's the first one I bought - yup, midway through a series.  I mentioned in Comeback Time about how the cover of that book encouraged me to buy it where the one in England turned me off.  It didn't matter that the blurb sounded interesting.

Now for something personal.  Tomorrow is the cutie's and my 17th anniversary and while we can't walk down to share a moment with the sea lions that barked through the ceremony, we will celebrate.  Our pressies for each other have, since the beginning, been Christmas tree ornaments.  When you're young and have none, it's a good place to start, and even better when you have travel 6k miles with them.  Why am I telling you this?  Because the "Onyx is the anniversary gemstone for the 7th year of marriage.  Black Onyx is the anniversary gemstone for the 10th year of marriage."(1)  7 + 10 = 17 and a odd coincidence.  [On a side note, the gift for the 17th anniversary is furniture, and the cutie and I have been talking about getting a new stand for the tv - another weird coincidence or should we do it?]

While a black diamond can refer to a ski slopes range of difficulty and a rare gemstone, which many of the rare diamonds are named.  Many have heard of the Hope and Cullinan [or Great Star of Africa] diamonds, but what about the Amsterdam Diamond?  I hadn't heard of it, but apparently in 2001 it sold for $352,000, which was the highest price paid for a black diamond at auction.  Wow, that's a lot of money for 33.74 carats / 145 facets!

Now, sand is not a gemstone, it is part mineral so I'm putting it on this list because if you ever get a chance to go to a black sand beach, you will think it is just as prescious.  The cutie and I went to one when he had a conference on Maui.  I drove the Hana Highway and at the end was a black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park.  It was stunning and we promised we'd get back there one day and stay a few days.  We haven't, but thankfully there's time.

And on that note, hope you enjoyed my twist on Black Friday - go have fun making your own day of Black!

Although, if you do want to go shopping, then I heard a while back that Best Buy were going to be selling the Nook wi-fi for $99, not $149 on Black Friday.  That's a really good price.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Thanksgiving by John Currin, 2003 

I'm off to do a 2 mile Turkey Trot Walk to support a local group that has been around for 40 years providing employment and related services to disabled and disadvantaged members of the community, and helping them achieve financial independence through a paycheck.

A great way to get the day started.  Later it's turkey and football at the neighbors, with a nap or two interspersed throughout.

Enjoy your day, family and friends while giving thanks.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Day Before the Big Day

What happens in the Greene household on the day before Thanksgiving?

Well, normally we'd be to the left of us, at the beach, relaxing with family and helping [by staying out of the way] my sister prepare for the masses to decend.  Masses?  Yup.  There'd her and BIL, four+two kids, my mom, the cutie and I, as well as BIL's mom and probablly sister, husband and two kids.  16 = masses in my book.

However, this year is different.  For the first time in quite some time we aren't going to the left and the two eldest neices are hostessing the event in their territory - brave souls!  I will miss them all and plan on making phone calls throughout the day to keep tabs on it all.  But not to worry, we're going to our neighbors for turkey, and shall be great fun.  I'm in charge of the devilled eggs [even though I don't eat them, I can make them :-)] and the cutie is preparing a mashed potatoes, onion, cheese mixture in a lovely pie/tart crust - yummy!  We're thinking of also bring sausages wrapped in bacon, only because we love them and want to share some of what we like.  We'll shop and prepare for this today, and also walk into town to get a special card and ornament.

Today, the cutie and I will also be going into the city [NYC] to watch some of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons get blown up.  It's a fun couple of hours checking it all out with a hot chocolate in hand, and then going home.  This is one of the few holidays that feels like a real holiday to me.  When we lived to the right of us and there was no Thanksgiving, so I would take the two days off and treat friends to a Turkey meal.  A few were serious disasters, but I'll leave the sharing of those for another day.

Something else on my list for today is that I'll be opening the door to reveal something rather personal on the Samhain Publishing Blog, so go over and comment - I have a seriously sweet treat to giveaway to a random commenter over there!

Today is going to be great day of pre-holiday festivities - ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Edition of Book Talk

Not to long ago I mentioned in a Book Talk and eBook Talk about not liking to read holiday set romances and I also mentioned not understanding why, when I loved the picture book side of the holidays.

Well, I still don't know, but thought I'd share some of my Thanksgiving related picture and pop-up books that I truly enjoy revisiting every year.

Macy's on Parade by Pamela Pease is a pop-up with all the details of what goes into the parade on the side panels.

Milly and The Macy's Day Parade by Shana Corey and illustrated by Brett Helquist.  You might recognize his work from the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events series and Blue Balliett's fantastic YA mysteries, but this is where I first discovered him and bought A Christmas Carol edition he illustrated and The Lump of Coal treat of a book - love his work!

A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley and illustrated by Jim LaMarche may not be Thanksgiving specific, but with us having to deal with leaves falling, it's a perfect book to read, especially to others.  And on a personal note, it also is one we tend to get for family and friends who have a baby.  That's right new borns are given a couple books to get their libraries started and for the parents to start reading to them.  Very important.

Just love books!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Naughty Thought for Monday

An author's blog I randomly read is Inside the Oversexed Mind of Gloria Brame. She often posts some fun stuff and recently she had me spraying my Coke all over with the David Shorts [warning: they have music, Eh Mambo Mambo Italiano, and more shorts, which obviously are NSFW!]

It is so wrong, but honestly, so funny!

I mean, I'm sure some tourist nick nack supplier has done Michaelangelo's David on boxer shorts, but not like this!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Contest is Coming, Are You Ready?

I've mentioned a hint here and there about the 13 Days of Bloody Kiss'mas Extravaganza 2010, and thought I'd drop another - in video!

Get ready to play starting December 1st at paperbackdolls.com with daily giveaways and great prizes.  It's going to be a frolicking fun ride to the end - so says the "Red Hot Erotic Fiction Mistress" - ME!  Love that title!

Wick'd Reads and the Paperback Dolls are hosting and I have a big bag of goodies ready to give away.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ralph Lauren is King

I've been a fan of Ralph Lauren clothes, even though many carry the polo logo - which I can't stand, for many many years.  Here's a little memory nuggest to share with you guys.

Back in the day I was a fan of punk music and I attended a concerts with friends almost every Friday night wearing my hot pink Ralph Lauren shorts, white man's dress shirt, and old men's golfing cardigans [and naughty pins decorating it] with a pair of painted Keds [should pick that up again, it was a fun way to express my fashion tastes]. Rather clean cut sounding for a punk concert, but the earring were what really finished it all off. My favorite at the time was a fishing hook with a rubber frog dangling down to my shoulder or a pair of rubber spiders. Still have all of them, although I'm not sure why.

Where did that all come from?

Ralph Lauren has a pair of cuff links, skulls with great top hats, that I adore and it just so happens the hero of Missing in Paradise might wear them on a special night out. You see, he is a huge fan of skulls and skeleton ink, so why wouldn't he wear them on a shirt for a special night out?

Wait until you read where the heroine wears skulls - it's all fun!

Anyway, Dior and Alexandre McQueen were two other high fashion designers who went macabre recently, and did it very well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shake up in the Art World

19th Century European art is a bit, I think, like the mid-list author. In case you don't know, a mid-list author is rarely given the best placement in a bookshop or individual attention from publishing house reps for the new releases, or top dollar contracts. In fact, they are often dumped by a publisher without much thought for a series they be in the midst of, and all despite producing consistently good books.

Well, times they are a changing, or they are at least they are in the art world.

A few weeks ago there were a couple of auctions.  The first contained Modern and Impressionist, the darling of recent auctions, and another which was for 19th Century European art.  The former did well, 71% increase* over the last auction, with Amedeo Modigliani's nude as the star piece.  The painting was thought to go for $40 million, but instead went for just shy of $69 million - making it the 14th most expensive piece of art to sell at auction(1). 

Despite the great news, the latter auction was what interested me.  The second auction's category was considered so undesireable, one auction house abandoned holding them.  Thankfully a competitor held one and that auction earned a 521% increase* over the last one held.  Well, well, well, so no category is ever truly dead.  The star of the second auction was Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and his piece called 'The Finding of Moses'.

Here's my disclaimer:  I happen to adore his work and, yes, it most likely stems from his use of Ancient Greece as the subject matter.

Anyway, you can read the Telegraph.co.uk's article on the auction, which is what caught my attention but it was the fiscal history of the painting which caused my mouth to drop open, and I'll share a bit of it here.

bought in 1904 for £5,250 [one of the most expensive ever sold in England]
sold in 1960 for £900 [for frame] and painting offered to many British museums for no cost, but not taken
sold in 1995 for $2.8 million [ in New York]
sold in 2010 for $36 million [$31 to $33 million over estimate]

So, does Alma-Tadema represent a shake up in the art world, or a freak event?  In my opinion it's a shake up because of supply and demand, although it also looks like art is a commodity which some people are willing to invest ever more money into.  Those who collect aren't selling and need to search for their treasures in other categories.

Thank you Telegraph.co.uk for consistently feeding my love for art news and for the picture of The Finding of Moses and ArtInfo for the Modigliani news and picture.

*=in both cases, the last auction held was this time last year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Comeback Time

The other day I saw an article from Amazing Facts listing: '30 Things That Need to Stage a Comeback' and agreed with just about all of them.  By the time I read the 30th, I was already noting what I wish would make a comeback, and one kept coming back:

Cover Art

I hear you guys saying but there's good cover art now, it doesn't need to make a comeback, but I actually think it does.  There are books and ebooks being released with blah covers that do nothing for their stories. 

Just so you know, I'm wearing a readers hat on this one.

Take Jonathan Franzen, he's supposed to be one of the greatest writers of our time, and yet his latest book's cover doesn't make me want to pick it up.  The same can be said for the Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy, but I did end up buying it because I was about to board a flight without a book and a friend said I'd like it. 

Considering the Larsson trilogy has been one of my favorites in many many years, I'm glad I picked it up despite the cover's lack of help.

Of course the cover isn't everything, the blurb plays a big part as well.  However, if you aren't inspired to even pick up the book or move the mouse further to read the blurb, then it doesn't matter how good those 250 words are in laying out a fabulous story.

The perfect example of covers calling the shots for me can be found with Bitten by Kelley Armstrong.  In 2001 I saw a cover that intrigued me, picked it up, and read the first line of the inside flap:  "I've got to get out of here - I don't have a lot of time left."  Sold!  When on a trip to Canada, I noticed it in trade paperback format and liked the cover, but still thought the original hardcover spoke louder.  Unfortunately, with the next two releases of the book in mass market, it went downhill.

Where'd the wow factor go?

Now, because I like to throw the occassonal twist into the mix, let me tell you about a rollercoaster ride with one particular author's covers.  When I lived in England I walked through a WH Smith at a Mall and saw Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K Hamilton in the paranormal section.  They were horrible covers and when I mentioned it to a friend a few minutes later, they told me the books were for teen boys, so walked away.  A few years later I was living in the US and saw a book called Obsidian Butterfly with a very intriguing cover, and bought the book [check out the UK version beside the US one below - big difference].  It wasn't until I'd finished it and went looking for the rest of the series that I rediscovered those original covers.  In short, ugly cover + good story = great find, however, the story doesn't end there.  The covers for the Anita Blake series are once again changing and they don't interest me [check out Bullet below], and it isn't helping that the stories have slipped as well.

In short, I say unique and interesting cover art needs to make a comeback!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Naughty Thought for Monday

Okay, as an erotic romance author, all sorts of things cross through my reading material. Generally it's called research and then sometimes I'm inspired to suggest it as a gift idea - maybe a bridal shower gift idea.

I saw this ensemble the other day and while it's a lovely lingerie set, the bra and panties can each be torn away for that quick moment and no damage is done to the pieces so they don't have to be tossed after one use.

Lovely, naughty, and French.

Actually they're made by Lingerie Dement and I say power to them for thinking with multiple hats, including an Erotic Romance Author and Reader, as well as with the budget!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's Open!

Registration for the Authors After Dark 2011 is open and it's rockin'!

It's August 11-14 in Philadelphia - yes, Philly - and the Master of Ceremonies is Larissa Ione!  As for what's new and/or different this year, well, there's going to be ebook only authors and All Romance [ARe] are going to be there selling ebooks alongside Borders [which also happens to have a shop around the corner].  The GLBT and Bloggers tracks have been extended. 

And then there's the Bookie Awards.  These are, as the AAD website states: the "first industry awards nominated and voted for by readers and bloggers alone! And all the presenters will be bloggers, readers and book clubs!"  I'm excited about this bit because I just so happen to have two nominated [Cyra's Cyclopes and Double Punch] - honestly, when you look at those also nominated alongside me, I am thrilled to be in such company!

Some of the authors who are going to be there are*:  Sylvia Day, Melissa Schroeder, Cat Johnson, Bridget Midway, Samantha Sommersby, Zoe Archer, Meljean Brook, Elizabeth Amber, Kate Douglas, Leanna Renee Hieber, Gail Carriger, Monica Burns, T.J. Michaels, Bianca D'Arc, Jess Haines, Michele Lang, Suzanne Lazear, Stella and Audra Price, Liz Strange, Elizabeth Darvill, Kristen Painter, Ariel Tachna, David Juhren, Kayleigh Jamison, Rosemary Laurey, Judi Fennell, Augusta Li, Eon DeBeaumont, Theresa Meyers, Beth Wylde, Nick Valentino, Diana Castilleja, Yvette Hines, Denise Jeffries, Stephanie Jullian, Sonya Bateman, Bronwyn Green, Brynn Paulin, Adele Dubois, Natalie Gray, Laura Baumbach, Kris Cook, Felicitas Ivey, Susan Hanniford Crowley, and Eliza Gayle

The hotel, a Doubletree, is right in the midst of it all and books up easily because of the location.  Oh, and, I heard rumors that there's going to be a group of partners going to South Street for proper Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.

Like last year there's going to be auctions from the authors and all proceeds will go to Pet's Alive!  Hopefully they'll be able to bring some of their animals so you can see where your money is all going.

What's staying the same is that this is a rare breed of conference in that no one makes any money, which keeps the price way way down.  How low?  $130.00 for registration and meals!  Love it!

More details to come as they are announced!  Hope to see you there - yes, I've already registered :-)

*= Subject to change until March 2011

Friday, November 12, 2010

Movie Talk

The other day I was reading GalleyCat and they mentioned five films were coming out soon [as in before the year ends] that were literary adaptations, and it had me thinking:  do I want to see any of them and, more importantly, do I like it when a book becomes a film.

Let me take the second one first.  My gut response would be of course I don't like the movie version, the book as the original and more comprehensive format is always better.  That said and to throw a spanner in the works, if I've never read the book, then the movie would be pretty good to me - right?  This happened with The Town.  Loved the movie and will think about reading the book [Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan], but I'm not sure I will.  However, what if I have read it, then what do I think?

The perfect answer to that would be found in Stieg Larsson Millennium trilogy, which I recently devoured, and then watched the Swedish adaption of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire.  I thought it was pretty good, really good.  It didn't follow every nuance found in the book, that would have been impossible and still be a watchable length of time.  The parts chosen to focus on were really very well done and the characters were well developed, and I'm personally waiting with baited breath to watch the final flick: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

That was one side of the issue, there is another.  The first book to film that came to mind when pondering these questions was Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell [book and movie].  I love that film and bought the book when I was older, because I was sure there would be even more meat to it.  However, I didn't enjoy the book, or at least don't remember liking it and I must not have because I didn't keep it to reread again - which is a habit of mine.

So, do I like it when a book becomes a film?

The first question was easier to answer - yes, I'd like to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 by JK Rowling [11/19],  Tangled [based on the Grimm Brothers‘ fairy tale, Rapunzel11/24], The Tempest byWilliam Shakespeare [12/10], The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader [12/10], and Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift‘s classic [12/22]. 
Some of these I'd like to see more than others, but I guess the issue of making a movie from a book doesn't bother me all that much - until it's done poorly, then I'm sure it will bug me to no end!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Take a Moment and Say...

thank you, to those who served and are serving today, as well as those in their families.  The sacrifice they all make on our behalf is huge.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hump Day Reflections

Ooo, baby, it's getting cold outside - best not forget the hat and scarf!  Wrap that long strip of sumptuousness around your neck, bundle it up to your chin, and if there's any extra, let it dangle down you back to warm your backside.

Also, remember the goggles, skiing without them couldcause snowblindness and I'd hate to see you in a full body cast!

Maybe you should think of some socks, thick ones, at the very least.

Thank you Matthew Herrick as taken by Rick Day via Dude Flesh for warming things up!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Book and Book Accessory Talk

The Bas Bleu catalog, Holiday issue, arrived and I've dog-earred so many page corners, I thought to share a few of them here.  Remember, these books can also be Chanukah, birthday, Mother's or Father's day pressies, any holiday, or a it's for me day because books are great all year round!

Here we go:

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart
Balthazar Jones--protagonist of this charming novel--has a most interesting address: He lives in the Tower of London. A Beefeater assigned to guard the former royal palace and prison, Balthazar spends his days leading tours, directing visitors to the lavatory, and chasing down pickpockets. But when the Queen decides to relocate her royal menagerie from the London Zoo to the Tower, Balthazar, by way of owning the world's oldest living tortoise, is tapped as the animals' caretaker. His wife, Hebe, is none too thrilled at the prospect of bringing yet more peculiar creatures into their little "neighborhood."

The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer
Imagine yourself a traveler in fourteenth-century England.  All the sights, sounds, tastes, pungent smells, pleasures, and perils of journeying through the countryside, villages, towns, and cities of England are revealed as you resolve the basic issues of all travelers:  Where to stay?  What will it cost?  What can you expect for your money?  Where and what to eat?  What to see and do for entertainment?  And perhaps most important, how to avoid illnesses and highwaymen?

Lost to Time by Martin W. Sandler
As Pulitzer Prize-winning author Virginius Dabney wrote, "If you mean to be a historical figure--a Longfellow, a Homer, or a Vergil." As Dabney points out, Paul Revere, Odysseus, and Aeneas "all took this precaution."

But what about the bona fide VIPs whom no one wrote about? What about the blunders and tragedies downplayed or covered up by the press or the government? What about "the most famous person you've never heard of "? Not to worry, gentle reader, those stories are gathered here at last!

And if you thought it was just books they offer, you'd be wrong!

Stirring Mouse cards [8 cards/envelopes]
Not a creature was stirring, huh? Our adorably droll Stirring Mouse Cards beg to differ! A wonderful illustration of a diligent little mouse hunched over a hand-mixer--below the phrase "Maybe there was a creature stirring after all"--makes a witty retort to Clement C. Moore's classic line from "The Night before Christmas." The lime green vintage stovetop and bright red can of flour add subtly festive color to these original, recycled-paper holiday cards, which open to read "Enjoy every morsel of the Season!"

Nacy Drew 80th Anniversary T-shirt
No matter how many decades you've been a fan of Nancy Drew, you'll want to celebrate the amateur sleuth's enduring popularity via this snappy T-shirt marking her eightieth anniversary. A portrait of the fictional detective--deep in the contemplation of clues, of course--and "Nancy Drew: 80 years and still has the answers" appear in blue on the front of the loose-fit, ladies-cut, heather gray T-shirt. Printed, also in blue, on the back of the shirt is a little magnifying-glass icon and a short excerpt from Nancy's Mysterious Letter: "Do act mysterious, it always keeps them coming back for more!"

La Boheme Envirosax Bags [set of 5 bags]
We just love these designer reusable bags for carrying around books, bringing home groceries, consolidating all your carry-on gear when flying… schlepping just about anything from point A to point B (and doing so with substantial style)! The 100% polyester bags are super-strong (each holds forty-four pounds) and ultra-light (1.4 ounces apiece). Washable and waterproof, each 19½"x16½" La Boheme Envirosax Bag--dazzlingly decorated with abstract patterns--rolls up to a compact 4"x1½", and snaps shut. Our set of five (one each of the designs shown) fits in a compact 6"x8" pouch, so the whole toting system is supremely portable!

I told you there was all sorts of goodness in the catalog!  I could go on, trust me, but I won't.  I suggest you visit Bas Bleu, maybe request a catalog, and even think about joining their Bas Bleu Society - offers fab discounts and free shipping!

By the way, the descriptions are all Bas Bleu's!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Naughty Thought for Monday

Oh dear.  I love watching kids flicks - Sleeping Beauty, Up, and Despicable Me to name but a few - and I'm looking forward to the Dorothy of Oz.

However, just looked through some of the first screen shots via Summertime Entertainment, and, well, is it me or does the Emerald City look like it's made of um, green, Shrek-like, willies?

It's wrong, I know, but I can't help it!  There it is - big, green, towering, penises!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November!

Originally posted November 5, 2007

November 5th is Bonfire night, a British celebration remembering the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. A group of English Roman Catholics organized and came up with a plan to destroy tyrannical rule by King James I of England and the Protestant Aristocracy. Guy Fawkes was the man chosen to blow up the Palace of Westminster [or the Houses of Parliament] but he was caught before this happened. After being tortured, he and other conspirators were found guilty of treason, they were hung, drawn and quartered. Apparently Fawkes escaped the hanging by getting free and jumping from the scaffolding and broke his neck. After that, he was still drawn and quartered.

It's not all doom and gloom for Guy Fawkes. He is credited with being “the only man to ever enter parliament with honourable intentions.” In 2002 he was 30th in the “100 Greatest Britons” and on the list of the 50 greatest people from Yorkshire.

Recently the festivities have made their way into popular culture beyond the British Isles. Two examples are a movie and book. The beginning of the movie V for Vendetta has an old rhyme that is often used to recall this incident. The full poem isn’t normally used, just the first bit, and sometime the second. When you read it you'll know why, it’s very inflammatory and no longer has a purpose. The cutie, who grew up knowing the first two verses, never knew the last until we saw it noted at a Tower of London exhibition. So here it is in it’s entirety:

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,'twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!

A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o' cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah!

There's another appearance of the Guy Fawkes Day celebrations found in the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. A muggle weatherman is reporting shooting stars are being seen all over Britain, and speculates some people are celebrating Bonfire Night a week early. Instead, it’s the wizarding world celebrating the disappearance of Lord Voldemort. And don’t forget Albus Dumbledor’s pet phoenix is called Fawkes.

So how does one celebrate Bonfire Night? Well, on the Fifth of November, once the sun has sunk, the bonfires, big and small, are lit in fields up and down the country. The guy is on the pyre before it’s set on fire and everyone stands around watching it burn. In northern England, Yorkshire, they have baked potatoes, parkin [a ginger cake with black treacle, or molasses], toffee apples, roasted chestnuts, beer and much more are all consumed in the cold damp air, long in to the night.

The “guy” plays a big part in the celebrations. Up until recent times, kids used to take the days leading up to Bonfire Night and make an effigy of Guy Fawkes, carry or wheel him around the neighborhood, knock on doors or ask people walking around for “a penny for the guy.” They’d spout off what they knew about the Gunpowder Plot, maybe sing a rhyme, and be rewarded with money. They used to spend it on fireworks but later it went toward sweets during the night.

Yes, we’ll be having a fire in the backyard with friends, a few pints, and some Oatmeal Parkin.

This month we give thanks and celebrate with our family, why not expand it further and immerse yourself in history, plots of murder, treason and more. Make some parkin, a cup of tea, and watch V for Vendetta.

Enjoy your Bonfire Night!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

It's All About Tattoos!

The research I've been doing is all about tattoos.  Because I don't have any or know anyone who does, I find it a unique experience to create a character who does have them.  For me, one question needs to be answered:

What do they have inked for posterity on their bodies?

I think it's an interesting point to flesh out to show the reader more deeply of who that character really is.  I'm doing it now and have done it before.  In My Angel the hero is a retired drummer wearing plenty of ink and this is how the heroine, an angel, views them:

"There were drumsticks around his wrists, a variety of naked women and skulls, a sun rising above a horizon around his hip, and others she couldn’t quite decipher. The words Hit Man written across his chest she knew was his nickname and assumed it was because of being a drummer, not because he was a Mafioso wannabe. Some were in color and others black. It was an interesting mix and she’d have to ask him what they represented to him, but specifically why a sunrise. That was the most moving piece she could see."

Everything that hero had done in life was there in particular tattooed pieces and that's what I seek now for the hero in Missing in Paradise.  I know who he is, but I want the reader to know him as well.  So, I've been searching through tattoo shops for samples, and found nothing that suited my man.  My solution is to design it myself and then I have something to detail and explore further for the reader.

Wish me luck.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the heroine in My Angel doesn't have any tattoos and then, well, it's one of those twists I so enjoy adding to a story.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Hump Day Reflections

The hero I'm working with right now was a professional surfer who eventually turned to paddle surfing.  You can either paddle along a coastline's calm waters beyond the break or slip in and ride a few waves.  I've watched both and it looks very fun, even talked to a few people who have done it, and been warned:  it tests your balance.

So, who's paddling around?  Laird Hamilton!

Gorgeous, unfortunately he looks nothing like my hero!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Book and eBook Talk

The holiday season is in session!

After the kids are back in school the days gain momentum until we collapse on New Years day. Buried between all the festivities is actually plenty of time to read and I do, big time. However, there is something I've noticed about my reading choices during this time. Actually, missing all year round, but I specifically noticed the lack of a particular type of book/ebook during the holidays and am not sad.

Holiday-centric reads.

Yesterday I picked up my copy of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving and illustrated by Will Moses and thoroughly enjoyed it. Returning it to my shelves, I noticed a few other Halloween reads, and sat down to read them all again - it is why we keep them, isn't it?

Anyway, when the last one was put back I noticed I have twenty-five [25!] specific holiday reads on the children picture book shelves [the pop-ups are on a separate shelving unit downstairs and it houses close to ten more], and none on the shelves holding my fiction books [mystery, romance, etc]. Because I couldn't believe I had no holiday specific reads, I went to my ebook library, and found ... none. Zilch. The big goose egg!

Why is that?

Why do I obviously enjoy reading picture and pop-up books for such holidays as May Day, Valentine's Day and Easter, and yet not in fiction?

I'm not sure why, but I can honestly say this is the time of year I dedicate to clearing the TBR pile.  Could be I want to start the new year with a fresh slate.  Maybe, although I always find something or three to pick up.  Truthly, for me, a holiday specific read in novel length would be too much, and feel a little too sweet and written to suit a theme rather than the h/h.

What I'll do is enjoy my reads and leave the holiday stuff to those who like them.  Don't worry, I'll be fine, devouring my holiday inspired picture and pop-up books - those I'll keep enjoying, be they the holiday or not.

In case you're wondering, the pop-up above is the finale in Niroot Puttapipat "The Night Before Christmas" - love this one!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Naughty Thought for Monday

Does anyone really want to know about the "secret sex life of truffles"?

Well, scientists and the Telegraph [newspaper in the UK] think we do, and now I'm not sure I can enjoy a confectionary gem filled with truffles without thinking about how these masses procreate.

Honestly, I wish I didn't know.  Let the truffles do their thing in private, the way they obviously want it, and be happy with the results.