Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Movie Review: Becoming Jane

Sigh! I had the opportunity last night to see an advanced screening of the new film 'Becoming Jane,' starring Anne Hathaway (interesting that she's named after Shakespeare's wife), and James McAvoy. You can see by the line at the top of the poster why I have a hard time trying to figure out just what to say about this film.

The movie purports to be the story of Jane and her lost love, Tom Lefroy. If you know anything about Jane Austen and her life, you know that there is very little evidence beyond a few mentions of him in her letters. The Jane Austen Society of North America has a link where you can read about the actual facts about Tom Lefroy and Jane Austen here.

I have no problem with the idea that Jane may have had a lost love. After all her sister Cassandra lost her fiance to yellow fever. What bothered me about the film was the idea that Jane Austen could never have created Darcy or Willoughby without having been in love herself. Although the filmmakers make it clear that Jane had already been writing for years whenever she got a chance, there are too many scenes of her being 'inspired' after spending time with Tom Lefroy. Case in point (SPOILER ALERT), she starts writing Pride & Prejudice after spending time with Tom and his uncle in London. Writing feverishly all night long, it looked for a moment like she wrote the entire book! And then there's another scene, where he introduces her to Fielding's Tom Jones. As if she'd never thought to read the book before.

One of the most interesting scenes in the movie and the one they did the least with, is the scene where Jane gets to meet Mrs. Radcliffe, and they have a stilted conversation about being a wife and a novelist. I don't know alot about Mrs. Radcliffe but I couldn't tell if she was just shy or she'd been nipping into the laundanum.

I found the only way that I could reasonably enjoy this film is if I just forgot that the film was supposed to be about Jane Austen and just thought of it as a movie about some girl named Jane who meets a guy named Tom and falls in love with him but they can't get married because they have no money. And there are some enjoyable parts of the movie and some absolutely laugh out loud parts, and not in the good way.

Tom in this film is supposed to be a prolifegate who spends his time brawling (bare knuckle boxing) and whoring, and very little time studying to be a lawyer (shades of Willoughby). He then meets Jane, and turns into Darcy with his disdain of her reading her work, and distaste for country living.

Out of the two actors, I much preferred James McAvoy as Tom. He has a certain charm to him, and his eyes are so beautifully blue. Plus he's married to Ann-Marie Duff who's older than he is and we like that. Anne Hathaway seems to spend most of her time trying to hang onto her accident and widening her big brown eyes. Thank god the film is filled with wonderful actors like Julie Walters (playing Mrs. Austen like a less annoying version of Mrs. Bennett), James Cromwell as Mr. Austen, Maggie Smith playing a variation of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and the late Ian Richardson who plays Tom's uncle. Anna Maxwell Martin was lovely as Cassandra and there's a really wonderful scene when she receives the news of her fiance's death, and both Mrs. Austen and Jane are trying to comfort her, and another scene of the two sisters lying cuddled together in bed. You can easily see from this scene where Jane might have gotten the inspiration for Elinor and Marianne's relationship in S&S.

The other flaw in the film is that most of the dialogue sounds like the screenwriter opened a copy of The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen and copied it down in the screenplay, and it just sounds unnatural because it isn't dialogue. It's as if someone tried to turn this blog into a screenplay. The screenwriter also tried to make a parallel between Jane and Tom, and Jane's cousin Eliza and her brother Henry. Eliza has money and can buy Henry a commission in the army which he wants, so you get the impression that it's almost a marriage of convenience but with a lot of sex.

There are some scenes that are just out and out cliches. If they were in a regency romance novel you would have thrown the book across the room. Case in point (SPOILER ALERT), after Jane and Tom have made the huge, and I mean huge decision to elope with all that entails, they end up stranded for a bit when the wheel of the stagecoach gets stuck in mud. As Tom is helping to move the coach, Jane holds his coat and ends up reading a letter from his mother (yes, our Jane is a big ole snoop, reading other people's mail). She comes to the conclusion that since he uses part of his allowance to feed his huge family, she has to release him, to marry another.

I almost fell out of my seat I was laughing so hard at that moment. I suppose it was supposed to be poignant, but it was just so clear that the writers had to find some way to get Jane and Tom out of this situation, and Jane being the level-headed young miss makes the ultimate sacrifice. Then to make it worse the filmmakers add an epilogue where Tom and Jane meet years later when she's a famous authoress, and she's in London with Henry and Eliza (okay, I'm still rolling on the floor during this scene). Tom's daughter Jane is of course a huge Jane Austen fan, and wants to hear Jane read, which she obligingly does, as Tom and Jane exchange longing looks. Oy!

There was some humor of the 'don't make me cringe' variety. After yet another man proposes to Jane (apparently she was quite popular with the men), she yells in frustration "Are there no other women in Hampshire?" Funniest line in the whole film. There's some other plot stuff that I won't get into but its of the "You've got to be kidding me" variety.

Also, I'm not a huge costume expert, but I had to wonder why (the film is set in 1795) Jane and Cassandra are wearing empire waisted gowns but pretty much everyone else in the film is still wearing full skirts and square bodices? I wouldn't think two women who are living off the pittance Mr. Austen made could be so au courant with their wardrobe.

It's just a very silly, silly film. The only thing that would have improved this film would have been more scenes of James McAvoy shirtless and more snogging.

This isn't the first time that someone has written a speculative romanace about Jane Austen and a lost love. Howard Fast wrote a play called The Novelist that supposes that Jane in the twilight of her life, as she was dying met a sea captain (see where I'm going with this) and was thus inspired to write Persuasion.

Would I recommend this film? It depends, if you can check your brain at the door, and refrain from yelling at the screen, everytime that something false comes up, than yes. If not, you might not want to see this film unless you have a doctor's note, because you will have a stroke. Or just go home and rent Shakespeare in Love, the film that Becoming Jane Austen aspires to be but falls far short of.

Thanks for reading,


Update: Oh and I completely forgot the scene where Mr. Austen dives under the covers to give Mrs. Austen a little morning delight. Probably because I think I went blind for a second. And can anyone tell me if they were doing sign language in the 18th century. Because there's a scene with Jane and her brother, who I thought was mentally handicapped, but seems to be deaf in this movie. I'm pretty sure Jane is doing ASL with George, long before Annie Sullivan was teaching Helen Keller.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Girl I Used to Be

Since Venus is now in retrograde, this week's posts are all about relationships. Remember that episode of 'Sex and the City' where Charlotte laments that she's been dating for 20 years and where is he already? Well, I've been feeling like that alot lately.

Back when I was 26, I met the Australian cowboy. This guy was seriously hot, a former member of the SAS, gymnast and personal trainer. He'd just played Iago in a production of 'Othello' that my BFF had had a small part in. She thought that we would be great together.

So we threw this awesome party at the art gallery that my BFF's boyfriend owned (that's another story). And he came and totally didn't notice me until the end when he was leaving and I said good-bye and he asked me my name. I was devastated, and determined that the next time he saw me, he would remember me.

Not only would he remember me, but he would want me so bad, he couldn't see straight. Not once did occur to me that I couldn't make this happen, or that he wouldn't want me, or even that it might not be a good idea, being that he had just gotten out of a bad marriage and all (that's another story). I'd made my mind up. I wanted the guy who'd pulled a bottle of Jack Daniel's out of his boot (I thought that was incredibly sexy).

Long story short, I went and rented a cute little Lady Buccaneer outfit to wear to this Halloween party that we threw (my BFF and I were big on throwing parties back in the day). Short red coat, lacy shirt, and thigh high black suede boots. You get the picture. Without even touching the Cowboy, I made him want me (Trust me this is a skill). By the end of the evening, he was dying for me. Not only that but I had somehow attracted the notice of a 21 year old artist friend of the BFF (he painted gargoyles and cars) who declared his lust for me at the end of the evening (Hey 2 for 1!).

What happened to that girl? Is it getting older? Becoming more cynical about relationships? One too many bad first dates? (oooh, great title for a book). Ever since ex-sweetie and I finally gave up the ghost on our relationship 4 years ago, I've found it harder and harder to be optimistic about finding someone else.

Case in point, I'm so afraid of being rejected, I've been holding back on the mojo. It's like I'd rather not even try to let someone know I like them, that way they can't give that 'I'm just not interested' or even worse, 'It's not you, it's me,' speech. Or I give off mixed signals that he's not even getting.

Just last week, I was wearing this incredibly sexy Banana Republic dress, and the only compliment I got was from the homeless guy in front of Barnes and Noble. Although, apparently this young guy who writes for the NYT was checking me out at the Grey Gardens screening, but I was so oblivious that I didn't notice. My friend had to tell me. Of course, he could just have been wondering why I was wearing a dress with a plunging neckline to a movie screening.

See what I mean? I can't even allow myself to get my hopes up anymore with a guy that I meet that I'm attracted to.

I think that's why I like on-line dating. I can send as many ice breakers as I want on Yahoo Personals, and if I don't hear anything, it's no loss. I haven't really risked anything. They don't know me, and I don't know them. But put me in a real situation, and I'm dead meat. But I have to keep trying, because Mr. Right isn't going to come knocking on my door while I'm sitting in my night gown watching 'Pride and Prejudice' with Colin Firth for the 15th time. I have to somehow keep hoping.

A psychic astrologer told me recently that she sees me ending up with a bitter and angry writer who's a semi-recluse, who doesn't live in the city and is flying under the radar right now.

I can hardly wait. Yeah me!


Friday, July 27, 2007

Grey Gardens

I have a confession to make. I'm a little obsessed with Grey Gardens, and the story of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter 'Little' Edie. I went to see the musical on Tuesday night, which was just okay. It's the performances of Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson and the second act that make the show.

The first act which tries to explain how these two women ended up in their co-dependent dysfunctional relationship that was captured by the Mayles' in their landmark documentary (which I saw last night) is flat, and the music is uninspiring. The setting is ostensibly an engagement party for 'Little' Edie to Joe Kennedy jr. (Supposedly the were engaged and it was announced in the Times, but I had never heard of it before and I would think that Kennedy biographers over the years would have mentioned it). The act ends with Big Edie implying to Joe that 'Little Edie' was fast sending him running screaming into the night (his political career you know). 'Little' Edie then makes a break for it, taking off for New York City. The whole first act, at least for me, was big cliche. Overbearing mother ruins daughter's happiness, too self-absorbed in her own career to pay attention to daughter. Oh, and they have little Jackie and Lee Bouvier running around to make the point that Jackie grew up to have the life that was supposed to be 'Little' Edie's.

The second act is where the story starts with the two women living in squalor in their East Hampton mansion, bickering, signing with 'Little' Edie modeling her bizarre fashion sense which looks frighteningly fashion forward. Seriously the outfits are kind of weird but they work on her. The show and the documentary shine a microscope on the eccentricities of the upper classes. If the Beales had been poor or middle class, we would have just called them crazy.

Neither the film or the musical answer the questions that one wants answered. Like what were Big Edie's sons doing this whole time their mother and sister were living in basically one room with 57 cats and several raccoons? What were the Beale's living on? I can't imagine that Edith Bouvier Beale was collecting social security, and I know that her father apparently cut her out of the will because of her singing ambitions. Despite the squalor they still managed to find money for good and for a gardener.

I know that Jackie and her sister (or Ari Onassis) paid something like $25,000 to have the house cleaned and fixed up after the town of East Hampton called the Board of Health. So why didn't they pay for a housekeeper or to fix the place up even more? I mean they are holes in the attic where these raccoons are living. Exterminator? The most horrifying scene in the movie is where Little Edie is feeding the raccoons Wonder Bread and Purina cat chow.

Watching the film was horrifying yet poignant. You felt for these women yet at the same time you were impatient with them. You want to know what happened to them, what led them to pulling back from the outside world so much that they were both living in one room in a huge house with a hot plate and a fridgerator. You admire their sense of humor, but you can see that they both live some strange dysfunctional world. It's clear from watching the documentary that they love having the audience, someone else to listen to them apart from each other.

After the film last night, there was some speculation as to their psychological make-up, were they classic narcissitic personalities? Was little Edie crazy? And more importantly were they being exploited in the film or was it that other way around? It's clear from comments the women made after the film was made that they clearly knew what they were doing, and relished the attention, as women who have been admired all their lives for their beauty and charm, and would expect nothing less from a film.

I found a blog Grey Gardens News that gives a little bit more information about the two women, the various films, and the musical. The movie has become a cult classic with people throwing Grey Gardens parties where they dress up like Little Edie. And fashion designers have been taking their cute from her style. I think that Little Edie would have really gotten a kick out that.

Big Edie passed away shortly after the film was made but Little Edie lived on until 2002, finally moving to New York and then finally down south to Bal Harbour where she passed away.

If you haven't seen Grey Gardens I can't highly recomend it enough. It will haunt you.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 26, 2007

5 Cheesiest Songs on my iPod

So after I lost my red iPod Nano, I hadn't planned on buying another iPod, but I was missing my music something fierce, so I decided to buy the little Apple iPod shuffle, and I chose orange, because it was such a neat color, and I knew most people would go for the pink or blue colors. My shuffle would stand out in the crowd, the way my red one did.
The only thing that's bad about the shuffle is that it only holds about 250 songs compared to the 1,000 that the 2G iPod Nano holds so I've had to be really careful about what I download onto it.
Still, it's always good to have a little cheese among the Amy Winehouse and the Bob Dylan don't you think? For those moments when you need a little pick-up or want to go bopping down the street.
So here are the 5 cheesiest songs on my iPod:
1) Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield (Got's to love the Rick and how can you not love a song that uses the word moot in the lyrics?)
2) Dancing Queen - ABBA
3) These Boots are made for Walking - Nancy Sinatra
4) MacArthur's Park - Donna Summer (Doesn't anyone know what those lyrics mean? 'Someone left the cake out in the rain?)
5) What's new Pussycat? - Tom Jones (Oh my God, the man is like 67 and still hot).
Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Yes, I'm a Celebrity Magnet

So I'm on my way to the subway last night, clutching Harry Potter Book 7, when who should come walking past me, yakking on his cell phone but the great man himself, Mr. Gordon Ramsay. I couldn't believe it. I just about died. Now this is not quite as fantastic as KMJ getting to press her womanly flesh up against Sam from Top Chef but it was close. I would have said something to him but I was afraid he was going to yell at me for talking to him when he was clearly on the phone.
I watched the first season of Hell's Kitchen for the most part, but I couldn't watch the whole thing because it was giving me an ulcer to watch him yell at the contestants every week. But I do like Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America, where he actually comes off as a nice person, who cares about people that he's trying to help. I understand that in the American version, he's back to yelling at people.
And no, I have not finished Harry Potter 7. I just got the book on Monday and I'm savoring it like a fine wine. I do not want it to be over yet, although I'm tempted to take a mental health day to finish it. I know I'm going to need that glass of wine when it's over, because I'll be so sad. And there's no chance of Hogwarts, the Next Generation (Thank God).
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Memories of Venice

In honor of the release of Amanda McCabe's first Harlequin Historical (which I just picked up at Barnes and Noble, I had the great honor of hanging out with Amanda in the Grand Lounge in Atlanta last year), I thought I would share some of my pictures from my trip to Venice a few years ago. I had long dreamed of going to Venice, hopefully with that special someone, taking a gondola ride, staying at the Danieli. Well, the years were going by and that wasn't happening (I couldn't even get ex-sweetie pie to come and visit me in London, and he wouldn't have had to pay for a hotel room) so the year I turned 40 I decided to treat myself to a trip to Venice.

So of course, I decide that the best way to see Venice is during Carnivale, that festival which literally means End of Meat, since it ocurrs before Lent. My friends and I stayed in a lovely little flat on the Fondamente Nuove right near the canal. Literally. If any of us had been too drunk and walked too far, we would have fallen right in.

This is my friend Bella and I at the final night ball during Carnivale.

A lovely view of Piazza San Marco. On left is Cafe Florian where we spent many a day sipping frothy cappucino's, and Prosecco.

Okay, I'm not sure where I took this one.

Or this one. But aren't they pretty?

Anyway, go out and pick up a copy of Amanda's book today!

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 23, 2007

Is Hershey's the Devil?

I was a girl scout for 5 years, and every year I looked forward to selling cookies primarily because it meant getting my hands on Thin Mints. Even after I dropped out (my school didn't have enough girls interested in being cadets and I couldn't find another troop), I still managed to get my hands on some Thin Mints.

So imagine my surprise when I bought a box of York Peppermint Patty cookies and discovered that they tasted just as good as Thin Mints. In fact they reminded me of my other favorite mint cookies from the 1970's, Mystic Mint which are extremely hard to find, sort of like Mallomars.

Damn you Hershey Chocolate!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter

Find out your Harry Potter personality at LiquidGeneration!

Sherman's March

So I went to a screening of this documentary Sherman's March on Thursday. I had never heard of this movie, but that's not saying much because there are tons of documentaries that I haven't heard of. Such is a life spent seeing movies that have roman numerals after them, along with the occasional independant film, and a huge amount of films made before 1970.
The plot is thus: After his girlfriend leaves him, McElwee takes a voyage along the original route followed by General William Sherman -- but rather than cutting a swath of destruction designed to force the Confederate South into submission, as Sherman did, McElwee searches for love, camera in hand, “training his lens with phallic resolve on every accessible woman he meets.” The movie was shot in 1980 but not released in 1986 where it won an award at Sundance.
After watching the film, I wasn't sure if I liked it or hated it. I was split down the middle. At first this movie reminded me of that new show with Scott Baio, where he goes and talks to all his old girlfriends including Erin Moran who played Joanie on Happy Days to find out why he's still single at 45, along with seeing a life coach who's supposed to help him have a break through with his emotional issues.
Fortunately this movie was a bit deeper than whether or not Scott has emotional issues because he used to be a teen star. Ross McElwee clearly indentifies with Sherman in some way. He mentions that Sherman had been a failure before the Civil War, as was Ulysses S. Grant (nice to know the Northern Army was in the hands of men who were basically incompetent in the real world. Maybe that's why we kept losing in the early days!) He emphasizes that Sherman loved the South, and hated what he was doing.
In some ways, I wish that he had included more about Sherman in the movie, than the few tidbits that we got (although there is a hilarious scene where he's dressed up as a confederate solider for a costume party) but Sherman is just a by-product of the film. Although ostensibly he's trying to find out why he's still single, the film is a valentine to the South,and Southern women, and the way he grew up.
Confession, my mother was Southern, from Suffolk, Virginia (peanut country), although she wasn't from the Deep South. My grandparents however were from North Carolina. Legend has it that we have Cherokee and Shawnee blood, which my mother was prouder of, than being from the South. Although they moved to New York when she was five, she spent every summer down South in Virginia and she was raised by her older sisters who southern women down to their fingertips. So I've always been fascinated by the breed.
Enough about me, back to the movie. My biggest problem with this film was the length. At times it felt as long as Sherman's March to the Sea. It clocked in a whopping two and a half hours. Although most of it was fascinating, there was at least a good half hour of material that could have been cut, including all the Burt Reynolds stuff. Don't ask.
I also noticed a pattern in his relationships. He seemed to gravitate towards unattainable women, women who were madly in love with men who didn't treat them very well. That whole bad boy thing rearing its ugly head again. Ross seemed like the nice guy that we often ignore for the exciting guy who doesn't call us for two weeks after a date.
While I felt for him, there were other times when I just wanted to slap him upside the head and tell him to wake up and smell the Krispy Kremes. The only women who weren't involved were both how shall I put it, a bit on the religious side? And then there was a singer that he seemed interested in but that seemed to peter out. He just seemed to float from town to town, relationship to relationship, leaving a path of destruction (or at least a broken down car).
It was frustrating and reminded me a little too much of my Impossibly Handsome British Friend. It didn't seem as if Ross knew what he was looking for in a woman or a relationship. The film ends tantalizingly with the promise of perhaps another relationship as he takes a continuing education class in music.
My favorite character was his friend Charleen who he's actually featured in a short film which I thinking of renting to watch. She's one of those straight talking women who tell it like it is, and don't give you a chance to argue. She steamrolls over Ross in a way that was absolutely hysterical.
WTF moment of the film was the woman who claimed while the South was justified in fighting the war against Northern Aggression, slavery should have been an option. As she put it, "If you want to be a slave, be a slave." Okay, who in their right mind is going to choose being a slave over freedom? Like that's even a choice.
Anyway, if you want to see an early example of what we know take for granted in confessional movie-making, rent Sherman's March. And take a break midway through to make a sandwich or a bathroom break or to take a nap.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

EW does Romance

Imagine my surprise when I got home last night from work and opened my copy of Entertainment Weekly to discover that this week they've reviewed 4 romances in a special box at the top of the page. With all the controversy this past week over romance authors wearing costumes, and whether or not it set the genre back a hundred years, here were romances being reviewed by a magazine that's read by millions of people.

Of course, I was a little disappointed that the books they chose to review were by pretty well-established authors like Joanna Lindsay and Sherrilyn Kenyon (clearly wearing that swan hat in Dallas didn't hurt her a bit), but it was nice to see Meljean Brooks get reviewed. My good buddy Megan Frampton loves her books, and after reading the review I'm tempted to go out and get a copy (or just borrow Megan's hint, hint).

Here's hoping that this will be regular feature in EW (does anyone know if this is the first time they've done this? I confess I can't remember). It can only help the industry, when a magazine that deals with pop culture reviews romances. I know that People has reviewed Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts. Maybe the New York Times won't be far behind? Nah, that's too much to even hope for.

That just goes along with the other good news that Megan, along with several other friends, Lani Diane Rich, Eileen Rendahl and Michelle Cunnah had books that were included in the Complete Idiot's Guide Ultimate Reading list which just came out recently.

Oh, and I got to see Patti Lupone play Mama Rose in Gypsy today which did a great deal to alleviate the pain at knowing that not only do I have to buy a new VCR/DVD player tomorrow, but also a new answering machine, since mine just died on me today.

Well, I'm off to get ready to watch Rachael Ray tonight for work.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, July 20, 2007

TGIF - Things that I love

Since it's Friday, and I'm so happy that this week is over, I thought today's post would be about some things that I love.

Mike Rowe - See the guy to the left? That's Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs on The Discovery Channel. If you haven't watched this show, you should. The premise is that Mike Rowe goes around the country investigating the jobs that are the most people are lucky they don't have to do. Everything from cleaning out a septic tank, to standing hip deep in bat guana, this guy is game for everything. And he doesn't just stand around interviewing people, he gets right in there, and I mean literally. I think in one episode, he hand his arm up a cow's ass for some reason.

Joey and Howie on Top Chef - First these two lugs hate each other and almost come to blows, next thing you know after working with Casey, they love each other so much, I expect them to start making out at any moment. Two lunkheads making great food.

Dark Chocolate Covered M&M's, Dark Chocolate Covered Raisinets - Basically if you cover it with dark chocolate I'll eat it. You could probably cover a cockroach in dark chocolate, and if I didn't know what it was, I'd think it was just something crunchy. Barring that, with these two items, I can get my dark chocolate fix every day. And it's good for you too, plus raisins are fruit!

Anthony Bourdain - How much do I love this guy? Even though he can't stand vegetarians, I still love him, because he's witty, and smart, and he's willing to drink snake's urine, so I don't have to. Every episode of Top Chef that he guest judges is a keeper. Seriously, get rid of Padma and Gail and just have Tom, Ted, and Anthony and I would be a happy girl.

Richard Armitage as Sir Guy of Gisbourne - Is it just me or is Richard Armitage the only reason to watch the BBC's new Robin Hood? Cause it certainly isn't Robin Hood. While I like Maid Marian and the Sheriff, Robin Hood and the Merry Men are a bit boring to me. But Richard Armitage is cruel, manly and also surprisingly vulnerable. He's the classic alpha male/bad boy. Someone give this guy his own series pronto!

And finally how smoking hot are these shoes?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

When Hell Breaks Loose - RWA Conference

Why is it that whenever I don't go to the RWA conference, stuff happens? I missed the conference in Reno, which was the year of the RITA awards debacle, where Nora walked out and TTQ gave the lamest apology on the planet if you can ever consider it an apology. This year, I don't go and there's RITA controversy again, and alot of stuff about readers/reviewers/bloggers attending the conference as well as what it means to dress professionally. Not to mention the changes to PAN and the publishing criteria.

Even though I wasn't there, that's never stopped me from putting my two cents in.

1) It seems that people are up in arms about the changes to the RWA policy for recognizing publishers, feeling that it means that RWA hates erotica. I don't think that the changes to the policy mean they hate erotica, I think they just want to protect writers from getting screwed since Triskelion went bankrupt and it's not the only e-publisher to go belly-up in recent years. Do I think the hate the idea of erotica and erotic romance? Well, I went to the board meeting in New York two years ago, and I had the feeling that the board at that time, had not only problems with erotica but with chick-lit as well. They felt that RWA was moving away from it's purpose which is romance writing. Remember the whole definition of romance debacle?

2) Barb Ferrer winning the RITA for Best Contemporary Romance. Poor Barb, you win a RITA and before you have time to enjoy it, the knives are out. It seems there are two issues here, should she have won the RITA for Best Contemporary Romance, and why the book was included in that category at all. My feeling is that, the preliminary judges, knowing that Barb had to enter two categories to be considered for best first book, let her slide into the Best Contemporary Romance category, since word count kept her out of Best Mainstream with Romantic Elements. They clearly liked the book and felt that she should be nominated. And she won because the final judges preferred her book over the others in the category. Instead of being mad at Barb, those naysayers should take it up with the preliminary judges.

Now I read Adios, was it a romance? No, not the way RWA or the category defines contemporary romance. And that has nothing to do with the age of the heroine. It has to do with the fact that the book is a coming of age story, with a romance. In a contemporary romance, the primary focus is supposed to be on the hero and heroine, not as a subplot.

RWA already has put measures in place so that next year the YA category is more open, which openfully will mean that there will be an RWA YA RITA awarded, and I hope that Barb's next book is one of the nominees.

3) Authors dressing up in costume during the conference. Apparently there are authors who were not happy that a few authors dressed up like their characters to promote their books during the public book signing for Literacy that RWA has each year. Correct me if I'm wrong but don't members of the Beau Monde dress up for their RWA party every year? And the book-signing was not just an RWA book signing, it was open to the public meaning readers were there, so what's the big deal? It would be one thing if they had walked around the conference the entire time like that, but they didn't. I seriously doubt that RWA is in danger of going the way of RT with Vampire Costume Balls or Faerie Balls, or Cover Model pageants.

Update: Okay, I just got done reading the rest of the comments over at Smart Bitches and I can see where Nora Roberts and Jenny Crusie are coming from, but I can also see why the two authors chose to promote their books dressed not so much as their characters but in a Manga style. The Shomi line is new, and their two books are part of the launch. The criticism stemmed partly from whether or not they turned people off from reading the other Shomi books, and whether or not it was appropriate at an RWA function.

Also, an another issue is how far should an author go to promote their books, and when does it cross a line. Frankly, I don't think the two authors crossed that line, but it is possible that they should confine their promotional efforts to other conferences that aren't RWA. They say on their web-site 'Rebels of Romance" that they want to get readers who don't read romance to try the books, and a younger audience. Great, I'm all for that, but perhaps RWA was not the appropriate forum after all.

Also, I'm not sure that publishers are going to be pressing authors to dress like their characters, but the reality is, most mid-list authors get little to no promotion from their publisher, so whatever you can do to promote your books, you need to consider. But you also have to consider what you are promoting, the book or yourself. It appears that several authors who were taken aback, felt that there was a fine line between promoting the books and the women themselves.

4) Readers/Bloggers/Reviewers attending the conference. Okay, a lot of authors who attended the conference are bloggers, as are booksellers and librarians. The only way to keep them out is if RWA requires only RWA members can attend the conference, which means that the cost will go up probably. Most conferences allow non-members to attend. I don't see what the big deal is. If they're willing to shell out about over $1,000 to attend the conference, I say more power to them. None of the bloggers have had anything bad to say about the conference. They all loved it and had a great time.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why Spoil the Fun?

So I've been reading articles on the internet lately about certain people who''ve taken it upon themselves to spoil the ending for the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, some sites apparently have uploaded supposed photocopies from the book including the last page.
My question, why? Why spoil the fun for the millions of fans who have been waiting for this book since the series first began, who have waited patiently (and impatiently) for JK Rowling to finish writing the series.
And why would anyone want to read the book before it's released?
I confess I do have a habit of picking up romance novels and reading a bit of the end before I buy the book, but I have never been tempted to read the ending of my Harry Potter novels nor have I gone to any of the sites that purport to have intimate knowledge of the book.
Why? Because I want my experience of Harry Potter to be untainted. In a world where spoilers abound for everything, this is the one thing that I hold sacred. And I just don't get why people are doing it. Is it jealously of JK Rowling because she's sold millions of copies of her books and will continue to do so as new readers discover Harry Potter? Is it just sheer maliciousness?
All I know is that they're totally breaking the law, at least the people who are publishing excerpts from the book without permission, and I hope that publishing company cracks down on them for it.
The bottom line is that this is someone's lifes work. JK Rowling has sweat blood, and tears to make this series true to her vision, and I think that we owe it to her to come to the experience without judgments or prejudices, to just let her entertain us.
I will be eagerly waiting my copy of the book (I pre-ordered it way back in March) and promise you I will not be peaking at the ending to make sure that Harry lives. Not because I think that JK Rowling would never do that to her fans, she can do what she wants, but because I want that pure element of surprise.
Thanks for reading,

Monday, July 16, 2007

Jane, Jane, Everywhere

Here we are in 2007, and doesn't it seem that all of a sudden Jane Austen is everywhere. Sure, this isn't the first time there's been a plethora of Jane Austen books, and Jane Austen movies, but suddenly it's like she's on every freaking corner, or every single bookstore shelf. Not to mention television and the movies. Not since 1995 when Pride and Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Clueless, and Persuasion came out, have I seen such a bonanza.

Just head over to the Austen blog if you don't believe me. Not only do they have a listing of every single Jane Austen sequel, biography, paraliterature known to man that's coming out in the next few months, but they also list stage adaptations as well. New York alone is going to see 2 musical versions of Austen novels, Emma and Pride and Prejudice.

Just recently we've had Austenland, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, and Me and Mr. Darcy. Last year, we had By a Lady, where in an actress from the 20th century goes back in time to 1801 Bath, and meets Jane Austen. There's even a Jane Austen mystery series which I've tried to read but couldn't get through.

Don't get me wrong, I adore Jane Austen but I sometimes wish that all this creativity could be put to, oh I don't know writing about something else? Maybe it's just because I think Jane's books are perfect on their own. I don't need to know what Darcy or Mr. Knightly were thinking if Jane didn't tell me, or what happened to them after they married Elizabeth and Emma. I'm going to assume they lived happily.

Now, this weekend, I saw a preview for 2 new movies that have connections to our Jane. One the Jane Austen Book Club based on the best selling novel (which I read and enjoyed) and Becoming Jane starring Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen.

Just from the previews, I can state unequivacably that I prefer the Jane Austen Book Club. If you're read the book, you know that Jane Austen is just the jumping off point. It's what they learn during their year of reading Jane, and how that reading impacts their lives. How reading Jane has made them a better person if you will.

Meanwhile, Becoming Jane Austen, looks like some weird romantic comedy. In fact from the preview, it kind of looks like Pride and Prejudice. Whoopsie, do you think that was the plan? Seriously, if this movie weren't about Jane Austen, I might even enjoy it. But the fact that they're taking Jane's meeting Tom Lefroy and turning into some sort of strange love story kind of bugs me. It's not like Shakespeare in Love, where since we know so little about Shakespeare's life in London away from his family, you could buy into the idea that he fell in love with a noblewoman who inspired him (i.e. Dark Lady of the Sonnets), who he couldn't be with due to differences in station, and oh the fact, that he was already married.

I just find it sad, that the only way that Jane could have written her beautiful books was if she had been disappointed in a love affair. Of course, I could be wrong, the movie could be wonderful. I'm just going by the preview. Of course, despite my misgivings, I totally plan to be there opening weekend.

I think the best comment on the recent spate of Austenmania comes from this piece entitled "Jane Austen Meets Jesus"

What do you think? Too much Jane or not enough?

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Time for a little grown up tag courtesy of Carleen! (We writers will do just about anything to put off you know actually writing.)There are rules for this game and here they are:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

8 Random Things About Me:

1. I'm average height, and usually I think I'm pretty tall until I stand next to someone tall and then I realize just how short I am!

2. Eight years ago I went off meat, and giving up steak and chicken was much easier than I ever imagined it would be. Although occasionally, I miss eating liver.

3. When I was in 9th grade I received an award for Perfect Attendance.

4. I'm afraid of snakes so much, I won't even walk through the reptile house at the zoo.

5. I once Xeroxed my breasts at my temp job and faxed them to a guy I was hot for.

6. I can't stand being late. I'm almost anal about getting anywhere on time, and nothing gets me more upset than people who are habitually late. I'm talking 20-30 minutes late. I think it's rude and inconsiderate, particularly now that people have cellphones. Dude, call if you're going to be late!

7. When I was little I thought that people actually lived in the television set.

8. I hate, hate, hate going to the dentist!

So now I'm tagging, Marley, Kelly Parra, Megan , Gabrielle, Mary, Carolyn, Maureen, and Anton. You're it!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Groovy Groups

TGIF I always say! I hope everyone had a great week. Why is it that the week after a holiday week seems like the longest week on the planet? And the weather here in NY has been freaky, it's either cool or it's scorching hot, and Wednesday, all of a sudden there was a torrential rainstorm. Well, at least we're not having a typhoon like they're having in Japan. Just want to give a quick shout-out to KMJ who is recovering from surgery, and I'm happy to say that my friend's little boy came through having his tonsils shaved yesterday.

Last night, I actually went out to a reading series downtown at this groovy dive bar on the LES (Lower East Side). KGB bar is housed in an old Polish union hall and it consists not only of the bar but also a theater complex and art gallery, multi-tasking at it's finest. KGB actually stands for the Kraine Gallery and not the KGB, Russian equivalent of our FBI/CIA.

The reading series is sponsored by an organization called Behind the Book whose mission is to excite children and young adults about reading. They work with low-income students in the NYC public schoools. What they do is they bring authors and their books into individual classrooms to build literary skills and to nurture a new generation of readers. Sounds cool huh? They made about 90 schools and they have a waiting list of schools.

They not only bring authors in but they also work with the kids to help them craft stories of their own, getting them excited about the process as well as reading. Of course the minute I heard about it, I had to donate. It was only $25, but I felt good about helping the next generation of readers. Reading meant alot to me growing up, and it still is such a big part of my life.
So, I went down to KGB, and the reading got started around 7:30. I was only familiar with one of the authors, Arthur Phillips, who has a new book out called Angelica which is in my TBR pile as I write. The other two authors, Helen Schulman and Will Allison, I wasn't familiar with, although after hearing them read, I will seek out their books at the bookstore. I did know that Helen Schulman's book, P.S. had been made into a movie with Laura Linney where she played an admissions counselor at Columbia who falls for an 18 year old who may be the reincarnation of her old boyfriend, which was a lot less creepy than it sounds.

It was a good evening, and it was neat to hear Arthur Phillips read us an excerpt for what may be his next book, and to hear that after doing a book tour, he was sick of reading from his latest novel. He was wickedly funny as you would expect a former child actor, and 5 time Jeopardy champ to be.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!
P.S. Skip the new dark chocolate mint 3 Muskateer bar, it tastes like cold medicine.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thursday Fun!

I've got nothing today while I work on the revisions of my novella/potential Modern Extra novel. So here goes:

1. Men are like ..Laxatives ..... They irritate the crap out of you.
2. Men are like. Bananas . The older they get, the less firm they are.
3. Men are like Weather . Nothing can be done to change them.
4. Men are like ...Blenders You need One, but you're not quite sure why.
5. Men are like ..Chocolate Bars .... Sweet, smooth, & they usually head right for your hips.
6. Men are like .... Commercials ....... You can't believe a word they say.
7. Men are like Department Stores ..... Their clothes are always 1/2 off.
8. Men are like ......Government Bonds ..... They take soooooooo long to mature.
9. Men are like .....Mascara . They usually run at the first sign of emotion.
10. Men are like .Popcorn ..... They satisfy you, but only for a little while.
11. Men are like Snowstorms .. You never know when they're coming, how many inches you'll get or how long it will last.
12. Men are like . Lava Lamps .... Fun to look at, but not very bright.
13. Men are like Parking Spots All the good ones are taken, the rest are handicapped.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New roads to Publication

We've all heard of authors getting publishing contracts after spending their own money to self-publish, and authors who've been found the slush pile, and authors who've won contests like American Title from RT/Dorchester, but now there's another way.

Welcome to Media Predict a web-site which bills itself as an online game with very real consequences. They have something called Project Publish which is a book contest wtih Touchstone/Sime Schuster. Through Media Predict, Toughstone will select a book proposal from their site for future publication.

The whole idea is to get new ideas out there instead of the same old, same old. This includes not only publishing, but TV, movies and music as well. But it's the Project Publish that interests me. I must have been under a rock when this was first announced because I didn't know about it until I was reading SFA RWA's newsletter online and discovered that Josie Brown, an author who has published two books with Avon Trade, and has an agent was one of the authors being featured on the site.

The way Media Predict works is like the stock market. The projects have a share value and apparently when you sign up, you're given a certain amount of fake money to play with. You can buy stock in any project and that drives up the value of the book. The top 5 proposals will be finalists and from those 5, one grand prize winner will be chosen.

I was surprised that a published author like Josie Brown would need to use a site like this to get a book deal. From the except that is posted on the web-site it sounded interesting. A little different from the usual Mom battling demons books that have come out. This is Mom battling real spies, sort of if Sydney Bristow had married Michael Vaughn and they'd had kids and a car pool.

Sounds high concept to me, so I'm unsure as to why it hasn't been snapped up, and why her agent feels that this would be the way to go.

I have to confess that I'm thinking about submitting my YA proposal to the site, but then again, I have no agent nor have I been published, so the stakes would be higher for me.

I'll post if I decide to go ahead.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Well Wonders Never Cease

so I found this astrology site called The Astrologer and they have this section where they match you according to your birth date with your celebrity matches. Well, guess who I'm the most compatible with? Yes, Mr. "I dumped my pregnant girlfriend for Claire Danes" Billy Crudup.
Jeez, you have to be kidding me! But apparently on the Harmony Scale, we score a 10 for so easy, it's dull, and a 2 on Tension, which means that we have healthy tension.
Oh, and apparently, I'm really compatible with Brad Pitt as well, so Angie better watch out!
I'm apparently also incompatible with Fred Durst. Well, that's a relief.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Mercury in Retrograde is kicking my ass!

For those who don't believe in astrology, please feel free to ignore this post, for those who do, perhaps you feel my pain.

Mercury in Retrograde means that the planet Mercury which governs communication, etc. is traveling backwards in the sky meaning that things have a tendency to get screwed up.

Little things, like losing documents on the computer, emails that never show up, phone calls that never get returned. In my case, its included a DVD that is now stuck in the player, losing my iPod, getting stuck in traffic for over an hour on the way back from New Jersey, I can't get into the web-site to schedule my next cycle for my night job, the list goes on.

I'm distraught at losing my iPod, but the biggest pain is having the DVD stuck. I can't get it out, it's from the library, so I may have to pay for it, if it stays stuck. Oy!

Not to mention the bitch of a time I've had at my day job trying to get computer applications approved for the new hire on the sales desk. My biggest pet peeve with this job is that the assistants have to do all this stuff ourselves, and it involves dealing with multiple groups, instead of one central group. Every other investment bank I've worked for as had office managers or floor administrators who dealt with all this stuff.

The Italian Stallion who I've been corresponding with on Match.com for the past several weeks blew me off when I tried to schedule a lunch date with him this Sunday. I even gave this guy my cell phone number to call. Nada. Which is funny since for weeks he's been emailing about how sexy I am, my stunning smile, my eyes etc. To the point where it was getting kind of creepy, but I thought hey, he's Italian. And still no word from the sweetie pie I have a crush on.

And I'm not the only one affected. Apparently Miss New Jersey is being blackmailed into giving up her crown. Wow, I had no idea that someone could want to be Miss New Jersey that badly.

Sad note, Kathleen Woodiwiss passed away on Friday. She was one of the first historical romance authors that I read after Rosemary Rogers from what we now call the Golden Age of historicals. Back in the days when authors could write 600 page epics that spanned years. The Flame and the Flower was one of my favorites that I read over and over, despite that whole rape thing between Heather and Brandon in the first chapters.

There was a time when I read everything she wrote from the Wolf and the Dove, through Shanna. I can still remember sitting in class in high school, book bag on my desk, as I devoured her books. Sadly, I felt the quality of her work suffered in the past several years, as the market changed, so I haven't read anything she's written since the late eighties. Still, I remember her fondly and my fumbling attempts to write like her when I first started writing romance in high school.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, July 06, 2007

This Day in History: Anne Frank

I had planned on blogging about how Mercury in retrograde is kicking my ass until I read on historychannel.com that today was the day that Anne Frank and her family went into hiding.

13 year old Anne Frank and her family were forced to take refuge in a secret annex in the Amsterdam warehouse where Mr. Frank worked. The day before Anne's older sister Margot had received a call-up noticed to be deported to a Nazi "work camp." Anne had recently begun a dairy relating her everyday experiences, and observations about the increasingly dangerous world that she lived in.

Anne and her family had moved from Germany to Amsterdam after the Nazis gained power. They lived in the Annex for two years until they were betrayed and transported to the camps.

I read the Diary of Anne Frank for the first time when I was ten years old. Immediately I felt like I had found a friend in Anne, even though our lives were so different, our emotions weren't. I felt for her having to live in this small space, with strangers, having her first real crush on Peter, her difficult relationship with her mother, and her close relationship with her father. I loved the fact that she wanted to be a writer, and that she kept pictures of movie stars on her walls, the way I had pictures of Parker Stevenson, and pictures from Star Wars up on mine.

I kept hoping after I read it, that things had turned out differently, that she had managed to survive the camps, that her life hadn't ended at 15. I couldn't believe that someone who had effected me so deeply hadn't lived to grow up, have a family, to live her life in freedom. I could understand now why so many people wanted to believe that Anna Anderson was really Anastasia because it meant that what happened in that basement in Ekaterinburg hadn't wiped out an entire family.

I remember scouring the library at my school looking for any other books I could find on Anne Frank. I managed to find a book that not only had the diary but also her other writings that had been saved by Miep Gies. I read the play and I eagerly watched the movie when it was shown on the 4:30 movie on Channel 7 in New York.

She wrote in her diary that she still believed that people were good at heart. I try to remind myself of that when I read about some atrocity taking place in the world, or the latest policies of the Bush administration (by the way it's our fearless leader's birthday as well), or I read about how people in New Orleans are still suffering even two years after Katrina. I want to believe that those words are true.

If Anne could have that kind of faith, living in that tiny attic annex with seven other people, knowing what awaited her if they were caught, than I should be able to find it within myself to have faith too.


Thursday, July 05, 2007


I've always been fascinated with medicine, despite the fact that I have absolutely no aptitude for science, and doing dissection in 7th grade, I was nauseous all the time, even though we were just dissecting frogs and fish. The smell of formaldehyde to this day makes me gag. Still, I find myself watching medical shows like "ER" and "Grey's Anatomy" eagerly. I used to love to play that medical game where you had to remove the body parts with like tweezers without touching the sides. I used to devour this medical encylopedia that we had. Of course, every disease I read about, I thought that I had.
It finally dawned on me, that I liked playing a doctor, I didn't actually want to be one! Still, it made wonder what it must have been like for the first woman to try and enter the medical profession or the first woman to every try and get a law degree. I remember reading about Elizabeth Blackwell, and her struggles to get accepted by a medical school in this country, until finally a college up in Geneva, NY accepted her totally as a joke. They never expected her to actually succeed as a doctor.
That's why I loved the series Bramwell on PBS. Jemma Redgrave (one of the Redgrave clan) starred as Eleanor Bramwell. Eleanor came from an upper middle class family where her father was also a doctor. She ends up running a free hospital in the East End where she encounters prejudice from not only her staff but also the poor who utilize the clinic. She ends up falling in love with an Irish doctor who marries someone else, when he goes to America.
This series was wonderful for depicting what it was like for a woman not only to get a medical degree but also to set up a practice. I found it much more interesting than Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and not just because I'm not a huge Jane Seymour fan. Eleanor has to deal with men who don't like the fact that she's not only a competent doctor but also might be better than they are. Even her father is not always as supportive as she would like. She also has to deal with the prejudices of women, like Nurse Carr, who has never worked with a woman doctor and who might have wanted to be a doctor herself. Also the fact that Eleanor is upper middle class when women of the era were only raised to be wives and mothers, not to work.
I would love to read an American version of Bramwell, one that's not a mystery series like Victoria Thompson's wonderful books. I actually love reading historicals where the women break out of the confines and actually have careers whether through necessity or because they want something more than just being decorative. If I read the back cover of a historical and discover that the heroine wants to be an architect or a lawyer, I'm totally there. Millie Criswell wrote a historical that had a lawyer heroine.
Anyone else out there like historicals where the heroine is pursuing a career?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth of July!

I'm sitting here watching the fireworks reflected in the windows of the building across the street while I'm at work.

I hope that everyone had a happy, healthy Fourth of July, and like Paris Hilton says "Don't Drink and Drive!"


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Bashing New York Women

I've been in a really unhappy mood over the past few days, partly because of my sunburn that made me look like a rotisserie chicken on Saturday, and partly because I lost my beloved iPod. 330 songs down the tubes until I get a replacement, and I can upload everything that I lost. I hadn't realized how dependent I had become on it, until I lost it.

So I wasn't in the best of moods when I read actor Justin Theroux's comments about New York women in New York magazine. All I could think of was WTF? That would be Mr. Theroux to the left.

Here are his comments:

“New York chicks, girls who are really from here, are the fastest women around,” he says. “They were all at Danceteria and dating 30-year-olds when they were 14.” Can he spot one on sight? “No,” he says, “you can only tell that after talking for about fifteen minutes. By then, they’re usually bored and have seven other places to go. If she ditches you to meet some guy named Marco, she’s from New York.”

Again I say WTF? Where is this coming from and what sort of New York women does he know? I'm getting a little tired of the bad rap New York women get. First there was Toby Young's book How To Lose Friends etc. where he details the several years he spent in New York chasing models and socialites instead of normal New York women who have like jobs. And now this crap?

I'm a native New Yorker and I have never been to Danceteria and I have never dated a 30 year old when I was a teenager. In fact the girls I grew up with? The oldest guy they dated when we were in high school was a 21 year old, and we thought that was racy. Maybe those Brearly girls and Spence girls were like that, but the average New York girl? Not so much.

Seriously, it's New York men that are the problem, not the women. Anyone read the article in the New York Times style section about 40 and 50 year old men chasing 20 year olds in share houses in the Hamptons? Or how they break up with their girlfriends so that they can spend the summer getting laid in their share houses instead of oh, I don't know, spending the summer with their girlfriends?

Truthfully, finding an honest guy who will treat you well is nigh near impossible in this city. That's why I've been corresponding with guys who live in Canada. They're polite and well-mannered arent' they?


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Harriette Wilson - Detective?

I love historical mysteries. Just the idea of what it was like to solve a crime without our modern forensics intrigues me, makes me think. Of course, the greatest of all historical detectives is Sherlock Holmes (although at the time that Conan Doyle was writing, he was a contemporary detective).

Whenever I see a new historical mystery, I have to buy it. Nowadays, there are so many, I can't believe it. Everything from Ancient Rome to turn of the century New York has been featured in a mystery novel. Some have been great like Anne Perry's Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, some have not been so great (I won't name names). For a long time, I've been toying with the idea of writing a historical mystery series of my own.

But who would be the detective? Well a good friend of mine once said, "If you want to know where the bodies are buried, ask a whore!" And who was the most famous courtesan of the Regency period? Harriette Wilson according to my friend. He was actually the one who suggested that Harriette would be perfect as the heroine of a series of Regency mystery novels.

There's only one problem, Harriette was a blackmailer, when she wasn't whoring. Not the most attractive quality to have in a detective. See, she would threaten to name names in her future memoirs unless the client paid up. Some like the Duke of Wellington told her to "publish and be damned." Others paid up several times.

Who was Harriette Wilson? Well, she was born the daughter of a Swiss clockmaker, and was working as a prostitute by the age of 12. By 15, she was courtesan. It was something of a family industry, both her sisters were also courtesans, her sister Sophia actually married into the aristocracy.

Harriette's usual modus operandi was to seduce a lover, and then write him an intriguing letter. Then after they were lovers, she would threaten him with exposure unless he paid up. This practice eventually led to her downfall.

I suppose I could get around the whole blackmailing thing by having it that Harriette was actually working for the government. Or the whole first mystery could be Harriette working to clear her name after one of her lovers is found murdered and she's a suspect. I suppose if Jane Austen can be a detective, then a courtesan like Harriette Wilson could as well.

The question is would anyone want to read a mystery series about a detective/whore?