Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Amongst other things we will be discussing manipulative pets, Scandinavian melancholy and the wonderful diversity of the Harlequin Historical line! Please join us!
There are also prizes, including an advance copy of my NEW HQN Regency historical, The Confessions of a Duchess!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Which was where I made my first good decision. I didn't think about the story for the entire three weeks that I was away. Instead I took a break, enjoyed my trip and lived in the moment. When I got back to the UK I was raring to write, and produced the Secrets of a Courtesan in a week. It was the third incarnation of this particular story, different again, but with some deep conflict, slightly flawed characters, still some sparkling dialogue (I hope!) and lots of hot and sensual romance.
Maybe one day I will use the first version of the story in my creative writing classes as an example of how every writer can make mistakes regardless of how long they've been writing or how many books they've written (I'm assuming here, of course, that I'm not the only person this has happened to, but please put me right if that assumption is incorrect!) I'm a great believer in the idea that you should follow your writing instinct, and from now on I'll be listening more closely to mine. In the meantime I think I'll just look at the cover of The Secrets of a Courtesan - and enjoy the happy ending!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Suggestion 1: Invest in a light box. Some people find that the effect of long winters and the depression that they can bring can be shortened with the use of light boxes, which deliver a dose of bright light similar to daylight. I like the idea of this. I found it really difficult to get up in the dark during last winter so I’m planning on getting a light box this year. My cousin warned me, though, that the light must to be bright enough to wake you up. She slept right thorough hers. And through the alarm… On the other hand, when I was in Spitsbergen in the Arctic, researching the book I’m currently writing, a number of people told me that they simply party through the long dark winter nights and that gets them through fine! Whatever works…
Suggestion 2: Get out in the garden or buy a window box if you live in a flat. Gardening has often been cited as a hobby ripe for getting people out of depression. Apparently that's because it takes people out of their own thoughts and helps them focus on something that needs their care and attention. I’m not good at gardening despite coming from a green-fingered family. But I love the idea of being outside and being close to nature. I have my most inspirational story ideas when I’m walking in the countryside, so I can see the pleasure in this.
Suggestion 3: Physical exercise, be it swimming, playing badminton, or going on a 10-mile hike - often tops lists as a way to lift spirits. And it's been proven to aid mental health as well as giving physical benefits. Aerobic activity (of all kinds!) releases endorphins and that's a natural, good free drug. Walking the dog works for me!
Suggestion 4: Cook a meal from scratch. Now I particularly like this one, especially as my dh is a great cook! “Food is destiny," one psychologist commented. "We are what we eat in every sense of the word. And food is the physical pleasure that lasts longest in life.”
Suggestion 5: Stroke a cat. Just not our cat, because she bites and that’s stressful.
Suggestion 6: Pat yourself on the back. We’re all great and we deserve to tell ourselves that.
Suggestion 7: Value our friends and family. Having meaningful relationships is a really good way to boost a sense of wellbeing. Different people needs different amounts of intimacy, but we all need connections. Just being part of a web that weaves together, and needs the other parts to exist makes us feel good.
Suggestion 8: And finally – read a romance book (or several!) It’s no surprise to those of us in the know that sales of romances have increased by over 30% during these tough times. Romances are the perfect antidote to anxiety and stress. They take you away from all that. They have happy endings. They make you feel good!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Dr Starkey has never made much secret of the fact that he enjoys being outrageously provocative so I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise. What is a surprise is that these comments don’t strike me as being particularly scholarly. Let’s start with the emotionally incontinent bit, shall we? I’m not convinced Henry was emotionally incontinent. Yes, he could be sentimental. Yes, he had a marvellous capacity for believing himself to be in love and an even greater talent for conveniently falling out of love when it suited him. His emotional acrobatics when justifying getting rid of his wives are an object lesson in self-delusion. But even if he was “emotionally incontinent” this would not be because he was brought up in a female-dominated household. There’s no unavoidable cause and effect here. Not every man brought up in a female household becomes emotionally incontinent. Such an idea would be absurd. I might as well claim that Henry was a violent man who resorted to judicial murder because he had been brought up to enjoy violent sports. As I say, completely absurd.
Now that remark about the feminisation of history leading to a disproportionate amount of interest in Henry’s wives and their unhappy marriages at the expense of poor old Henry himself. Hmmm. Well, I would never wish to generalise as Dr Starkey appears to have done here, but yes, I agree that the intricacies of relationships, their development and break down, have always fascinated me. Yes, I enjoy reading and writing about them. Yes, I am a woman. So… Oh, hold on… that simply must mean that I can only be interested in Henry in relation to his wives and the failure of his marriages! What nonsense. I’m interested in history, Dr Starkey, in all shapes and forms. That’s why books about the Thirty Years War sit on my shelves alongside books about Anne Boleyn. Please don’t patronise me.
As a public historian I see nothing wrong at all in writing about women and their role in history after several milennia in which white males wrote for and about white males. Public history seeks to discover and give a voice to the history of those who have been ignored, be they women, children, slaves or any other. Dr Starkey also claims that “to paint many women in history as "power players" was to falsify the facts.” I would suggest that women have always exerted a powerful influence throughout history. It’s a tribute to their skill in doing so that some historians haven’t even noticed.