Wandering Around The Net

Diane, here, on a Friday with my Thursday blog…I’m spending my days in Regency England traipsing between Mayfair and Cheapside, with a peek at Milbank Prison, as well. It seems I only raise my head up in 2015 to see that again I missed my blog day.

In between these marathon writing jags, I have taken a few detours on the internet.

Here are two, courtesy of Kristine Hughes and Victoria Hinshaw of Number One London.

From Kristine:
Rare Wellington Portrait Shown For First Time Ever
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From Victoria:
On The (Joshua) Reynolds Trail In The RA Achives
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This from my dh, from the NYTimes:
A Tribute to the Printer Aldus Manutius, and the Roots of the Paperback
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What do you need a break from today? These should keep you occupied!

Old Friends

(I know. I know. I forgot to blog yesterday. Blame it on finishing this book)

Last weekend I took a break from writing to attend a small retirement party for one of my first supervisors at the mental health center where I spent my first career. What a joy it was!

When I first started working at the county mental health center, I was completely new in the field. I’d earned a Masters in Psychology (it was only later that I went back to school and earned my Masters in Social Work), but there had been little training in psychotherapy and more emphasis on psychological testing. At this party were some of those people with whom I first worked in those days. Most of them had left the mental health center years before for private practice, including my supervisor. Some I had not seen for twenty years or more.

Virginia, my former supervisor, had been one of those people who taught me how to be a therapist. The other, Ed, was our consulting psychiatrist. When I walked into Virginia’s party Ed was one of the first people I saw. I almost burst into tears when I saw him–I’d not been certain he was still alive. How wonderful it was to thank him and Virginia for teaching me, but even more wonderful for me to be able to thank Ed for coming to my mother’s funeral. He probably did not remember, but I would never forget.

It was a joy, too, to see Sandy. Sandy and I once had to share an office and we became close friends for years after that, but, oddly enough, when she left for private practice, we never got together again. It was such a joy to catch up with her.

And then there was Ilene. Ilene and I led almost parallel lives. We were about the same age, same years working, married around the same time, had kids around the same time. We, too, were very close but lost touch with each other, seeing each other very sporadically over the years. When I am with her, though, the feeling of closeness comes back instantly.

I have been very fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life. My many years at the mental health center gave me these friends and coworkers who were influential in making me the person I am today.

I am forever grateful to them.

 

 

Romance at the Library of Congress

This week I attended a sneak peek of the documentary, Love Between The Covers, by award winning documentary producer, Laurie Kahn, and an all day public program featuring what the Library of Congress called “one of our culture’s most popular but least understood genres.” Romance.

The film was shown in one of Washington, D.C.’s most beautiful buildings, the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. If you are ever in D.C., make time to visit this building and take the tour.
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The film was the most respectful depiction of the romance genre that I’ve ever seen.
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It showed interviews of Romance authors, academics, readers and others discussing romance, what encompasses the romance genre, the diversity of the genre, the impact of romance books on its readers.

Several romance authors were interviewed in the film, including, of course, Nora Roberts, but I’ll mention three authors who were important in the film and were present for the program.

Brenda Jackson talked about her romance novels which feature African American characters. She started writing in order to have stories that had heroines who looked like her. In writing more than 30 books since 1994, she’s gathered a loyal group of fans which have become friends.

Len Brand who writes as Radclyffe, is both an author and a publisher of lesbian romance. She was particularly articulate about the romance genre in general.

Brenda and Len were terrific spokespersons about the value of the diversity of romance novels.

Eloisa James, the pen name of Shakespearian professor Mary Bly, talked in the movie about growing up in a very literary family. She made the point that romance novels can be every bit as life-affirming as Tolstoy.

The film also introduced Eloisa’s author assistant, Kim Castillo. Kim was a wonderful example of how romance novels can transform lives. She turned her love of reading into a satisfying career and it all started with a fan letter to Eloisa. Even more poignant was Kim describing how romance novels taught her about healthy relationships between men and women and gave her the courage to hold out for her own hero.

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The all day program consisted of four sessions:
Panel 1: What Belongs in the Romance Canon?
Panel 2: What Do the Science and History of Love Reveal?
Panel 3: Community and the Romance Genre
Panel 4: Trending Now: Where is Romance Fiction Heading in the Digital Age

Each panel started with a short film clip, followed by short presentations by each of the panelists, a mix of authors, academics and industry professionals. Then the discussion was opened up for questions from the audience. It was a stimulating structure.

I was only able to see the first and last panels. Washington Romance Writers provided volunteers to man the exhibit room and I did my part there. But my time in the exhibit room gave me an opportunity to indulge my favorite part of any romance event–seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

I had the pleasure of meeting Kate, fellow Harlequin Historical author Michelle Styles‘s sister.
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We had a lovely chat!

One other nice thing. My dh, a retired Library of Congress employee, came to the all day program, too. It was the first time he’s come along to a romance event with me. It was nice to introduce him to my writing friends, but I was really pleased that he could see how very special the romance community is.

All in all, I had a terrific two days!

What impact have romance novels had on you?

Forgotten Thursday

I did it again! I totally forgot that I write a blog for Thursday.  No excuses except for a bad memory, but I am working hard on finishing Book 2 in the Scandalous Summerfield series. Book 1, Bound By Duty, will appear in bookstores on March 17. (I have a new contest, too, with a sneak peek!)

Here are some images I’m using to help me write Book 2, which I’m calling Edmund’s story, because I can’t think of a better title yet.

I will not tell you anything else about the story:

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The Swan With Two Necks (isn’t that a wonderful name for a coaching inn?)

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No, those are not the hero and heroine!

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Those are desserts!

I aspire to have a Pinterest Board of each of my books starting with Bound By Duty, but more about that when the book comes out!

Next week I am attending the first EVER Romance event at the Library of Congress. The Center for the Book teamed up with Harlequin to put on the event and it is open to the public. For fee! It is called What Is Love? Romance In The Digital Age. See more details here. If you want to come, you have to register!

I hope I see you there!

My Friend Helen

HelenHatSMALL-296x300Yesterday I had the good fortune to attend my friend Helen’s retirement party at the Library of Congress. Helen has been the Head of Publications at the Copyright office since 1997, but I’ve known her longer than that.

I first met Helen in the the 1980s when our husbands became coworkers, but we didn’t become friends until she joined my very first writers group in 1995 when I first started writing. Now I count her as one of my very dearest friends.

Helen has been with me on my whole writing journey and she has read nearly every word I’ve written. I credit her with helping me insert commas where commas need to be and also with correcting some of my stupid mistakes. Like writing “a hair’s breath” instead of “a hair’s breadth.” I also credit her with introducing me to Traditional Regencies (Mary Jo Putney’s The Rake and The Reformer, Mary Balogh, and others), which sparked my love for the Regency.

Helen also started our writing group’s annual Christmas Déjeuner Avec Des Chapeaux (lunch with hats). We go out to lunch, but, like ladies of old, we wear hats. We also open presents. Every year someone in the restaurant compliments our hats.

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Helen and Julie
Virginia and me
Virginia and me

At the retirement party, Helen’s coworkers praised her for her enthusiasm, her friendliness, her energy and her general cheerfulness. They nailed her personality to a T. They also gave her credit for coordinating The Science Fiction and Fantasy Forum, a group of Library of Congress workers who love those genres and invite authors and other speakers for a lunchtime program. When Helen took over she really raised the bar on attracting speakers. I know everyone at the Library of Congress will miss her.

In honor of Helen’s love of costume, attendees to the retirement party were asked to dress in steampunk. The writers group appeared in steampunk hats Helen made for us last year. Here we are in the center of the group.
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Helen will not spend one moment of retirement bored or at a loss for things to do. She can sew, make hats, create steampunk and other costumes. She can indulge in her love of movies, play with her dog, Gaius, arrange Barbie tableaux, edit books. She can also write and I’m hoping she will finish her New Orleans book she started years ago. She’s also been asked to be on the Advisory Board  the  American Women Writers National Museum, which she’ll probably transform.

And Helen will continue to read my books as I write them and help me make them the best they can be. I am grateful to her for that, but I am mostly grateful to count her as my friend.

Helen, this one is for you!!!

Winner!

Winner of my Lady of Notoriety contest is….

Blakesmomma!

Look for an email from me!

The prize is a signed copy of the Harlequin Historical 3-in-one, including Diane’s A Reputation for  Notoriety, Reforming the Viscount by Annie Burrows, and His Lady of Castlemora by Joanna Fulford.

Check out my new contest and read a sneak peek of Bound By Duty, in bookstores March 17

Yoga!

One of my constant challenges is engaging in regular exercise. I know how important exercise is to good health, but I have the hardest time keeping to a regular exercise schedule. I have no excuse. I could easily make time. I tell myself every day that I’ll get out and walk, but then…I don’t. And I should, because I need exercise! I’m sure if I had been more physically fit, I would not have strained my back lifting the cutest-grandson-EVER.

Yoga_lotusMy friend Darlene Gardner invited me to go to a yoga class with her this week. I’ve also been telling myself I’ll sign up for a yoga class, but…I haven’t. There was no reason for me to say no to the class Darlene attends, though. First off, it is free. Second, it is only about 5 minutes from my house. Third, it is designed for people of a certain age (like me) who are not accustomed to exercise. And Fourth, I could go with a friend. The only drawback was it starts at 8:00 a.m.

Actually the early hour is a good thing. It gets me up and moving. Literally.

The class is run by Debbie from Abundantly Fit in Fairfax, VA., and it is held in a local community center. Debbie was cheerful, pleasant and obviously knowledgeable. She led us through a series of chair exercises that reached every muscle group. At the end, I felt both relaxed and energized.

I like Yoga. I’ve taken other classes and have always loved theml

I’m scheduled to go with Darlene again next week and I plan to go. I’m planning to attend it twice a week.

That’s still not enough exercise. I should be walking 10,000 steps a day and I even got a Fitbit for Christmas to help motivate me to reach that goal. But at least I’ve made a start.

I’ll let you know how I do….

How about you? Do you have an exercise routine? What do you do to stay healthy?