Thursday, August 27, 2009


As a Classic Romance Revival affiliate author, I’ve been blogging at the CRR blog nearly once a month for some time now while awaiting the launch of the website … and now it’s LIVE!

What is the Classic Romance Revival? It’s genre romance in its classic form, meaning various heat levels but never pushing the line into erotica and always between two committed characters, one male and one female. While we respect whatever type of romance others like to write and read, we’ve recognized some have pulled away from reading any romance because they aren’t sure what they’re getting.

At CRR, you may get a fair amount of heat in our sophisticated line. You may get sweet romance with no more than a lovely kiss. Or you may get something in between. You’ll get contemporaries, historicals, fantasy, and paranormal. You’ll find musicians and soldiers and cowboys and bikers and time travelers and artists and pirates. You won’t find a lot of graphic detail. And you won’t find bed-hopping only for the sake of … well, for the sake of bed-hopping.

CRR does romance. Real romance. The girl-meets-boy. The struggles of forming and holding relationships. The happy endings.

You’ll even find a few of my books in the bookstore.

It’s a bit funny to advertise this here and now at this point when I’m not sure my next book fits the CRR category well, being more literary and less romance. However, I do have those that fit better and I have plans for stories that will fit even more. In fact, I may be starting one in November for Nanowrimo, a shorter work, more genre romance, historical.  It’s in formation stage in my head.

Anyway, go check out CRR! I’ve been reading some of the authors’ books and I can tell you there’s a lot worth reading there. ;-)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Love Your Libraries

One of my favorite childhood memories is walking the half mile through town with my older sister and perusing our little local library. It was, and is, little. So is my hometown. There’s not even a stoplight. The one room library was well-stocked for its size, however. It was a magical place, full of stories about everything and set everywhere. I rarely went farther than 25 miles outside my town other than family road trips on summer vacation. I don’t remember many of them.

My days at the library are firmly ingrained in my being.

I love stories. That’s a silly statement to make, I suppose, since I write them, but it’s not only the act of writing I like, it’s the true love for Story. With some books I read, I’m not so sure the author has enough of a love affair with Story. I think some like to hear themselves talk, as they say. I think some simply like the act of writing and struggle to find something to write about. I’ve often heard writers moping about being blocked and wanting to write but not having any good ideas.

I don’t get it. Anything can be a story. If you love Story, sitting on your front porch watching the leaves turn orange before it’s even September can become a story. A ladybug crawling along a picnic table can be the start of a story, especially if there are two ladybugs, one red and one orange, and you know the orange ones aren’t native to your area and shouldn’t be there while the red ones are highly beneficial and well-loved. There: a story idea. Where it goes from there would be different for each writer and that’s the magic of Story.

They are who we are.

I won’t go into the whole narrative therapy concept here, but stories help create who we are. We can change them, if we wish, and if we’re willing to accept we can.

Our libraries are full of stories that show how they shape us. They can let us be anyone. They can take us anywhere. Where would you like to be right now? Ask your librarian to help you find a book to take you there.

Where did I go on my story adventures in my childhood library? More places than I can remember. My favorite was solving mysteries with the Hardy Boys. I could be a detective, too. I loved being able to be anything even if only for the length of the book. Now, I love giving that back to others. I have lots of stories in my head waiting to come out to share. I hope that never changes.

Do you have a favorite library or a favorite librarian? Tell me about your library, either from your childhood or recent, and tell ALA about your favorite librarian--

The Carnegie Corporation is sponsoring the “I Love My Librarian” award. You can go here to nominate someone you think should win:

Libraries all over the country are losing funding right now with the current economic issues. Consider doing what you can to help promote the good they do for us and to encourage maintaining their funding. Ours is expanding with a lot of help from the community. It’s beautiful to see. And it’s very much needed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Times in Music

There’s something about waking up to Quarterflash’s “Harden My Heart” and then moving on to The Fray’s “You Found Me” that makes you stop and think.

Harden My Heart:

"All of my life I’ve been waitin’ in the rain. I’ve been waitin’ for a feeling that never, ever came. It came so close but always disappeared. Darlin’ in my wildest dreams I never thought I’d go, but it’s time to let you know … I’m gonna harden my heart. I’m gonna swallow my tears. I’m gonna turn and leave you here.”

You Found Me:

"And I’ve been calling for years and years and years and years, And you never left me no messages, You never sent me no letters, You got some kind of nerve taking all I want! .. Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me, Lying on the floor, where were you? Where were you? Just a little late, you found me, you found me!

Think about this a minute…

For those who aren’t pop music buffs, Harden My Heart came out in the Eighties. It’s fairly typical of Eighties pop. The music is “simpler” in that you hear the different parts of the music clearly and it all blends together. There’s a sharpness about it and the lead singer stands out from the music while still working with it.

You Found Me came out in 2007 and was recorded in 2008. It’s also fairly typical of today’s music. There’s a “mush” feel where all the sounds seem to run together and it’s hard to differentiate one from the other, including the lead’s voice. We hear the words because they’re louder but it’s still part of the mush. The instruments are less sharp. There’s more “extra” stuff that jumbles it all together. Okay, I’m not a music critic and am not qualified to be, but Youtube these two songs and you’ll get what I mean.

The lyrics are my focus for this entry. I am a word critic. That’s part of my job. So yes, I analyze songs for their lyrics. The differences here are amazing. Harden My Heart: things are tough for her, she’s been hurt and betrayed and feels lost. So what will she do about it? Get together. Deal with it. Move on. It’s part of life and it’s her job to handle it as she needs. You Found Me: things are tough, he’s feeling lost and betrayed. So what will he do about it? Find God (smoking on a street corner, btw) and rant to him about why He’s letting bad things happen to him and those he cares about.

Yes, huge difference here in lyrics, and in attitude. But then, they reflect the times from when they were written. Song lyrics from the late Sixties to early Seventies tend to be pretty similar in attitude as You Found Me. In truth, there was a lot of whining about the lack of fairness of things. It’s all over the music, set in its history. The late Seventies and early Eighties pushed that aside and took command. Whining was suddenly for wimps, and the Eighties weren’t going to be wimps. They’d stand up and take care of things that went wrong and move on.

I’m also not a political science expert, but I can tell you I sure appreciate the Eighties attitude of “can do” that we had naturally. We didn’t have to be told we could, or persuaded to maybe think we could. We could. And we did. Sure, times change. Things are hard. But then, things are always hard. That will never change. It’s our attitude about it that makes the difference.

Me, I’m a harden my heart and move along kind of gal. That’s the kind of music I listen to by choice, also. Yes, I’m an Eighties girl. I graduated high school in 1984 listening to Quarterflash and Huey Lewis and the News (It’s Alright) and Sawyer Brown (Shakin’) and Joan Jett (I Love Rock and Roll) and Michael Jackson. 

1562 I keep wanting to ask the guy asking where God was when things were tough, “What were you doing about it?” 

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Author Interview: Joanna Waugh

Blind Fortune CoverBlind Fortune
Joanna Waugh

Regency Historical Romance
322 pages

buy link: Cerridwen Press

Read My Review on CRR 

LK: When I first heard about Blind Fortune and saw the cover featuring music, I knew this was a story I wanted to read. The combination of music and history was compelling enough, and then I got to know Joanna through mutual writing sites. Through her daily writings I could see she was well-studied in both her story matter and in the writing craft. I also enjoy her informative blog posts about the Regency period of England as often as I can get to them. As impressed as I was with the story of Lady Fortuna Morley and Charles, Marquess of Granville, I’m honored to have Joanna here talking about her debut novel. Welcome, Joanna!  

Joanna Waugh: Thanks so much for inviting me in today, Loraine. And thanks for the great review of BLIND FORTUNE.

The first question I always ask is if you have a response to my review. Is there anything you'd like to highlight or argue?

JW: I only want to say how pleased I am you liked the book. The feedback from readers and reviewers has been heartwarming. I’m overwhelmed by the positive response BLIND FORTUNE has received.

It’s all well deserved! Debut novels tend to be a huge learning curve and I think you’re starting ahead of the game. Speaking of starts, as I mentioned in the review, the amount of research you did for the novel is impressive. Are you a researcher by nature?

JW: I think so. I discovered I had a knack for it in the late 1980s when I researched my husband’s family tree. I was able to ferret out information about his great grandfather others had spent a decade trying to track down. Later, this talent stood me in good stead when I became involved politically. I think I would have made an excellent investigative reporter!

Yes, I’m guessing you would, also. Family tree research is an admirable skill, and tedious. I’ll bypass the political question that’s skimming my brain since I try not to do that here ;-) and move on.  

The Regency Period covers England in the late 18th to mid-19th centuries. How long have you been interested in this era? Did you grow up reading Regencies? If not, what was your favorite reading material?

JW: My mother belonged to Book of the Month Club and I grew up on authors like Mary Stewart and Daphne du Maurier. I had a voracious reading appetite. By junior high, I was sneaking into the grown up section of the public library. I couldn’t borrow the books so I’d sit there all day, every Saturday, reading them.

Mom loved history and historical romance. She still does. I remember once, when I was in grade school, the Kroger store had a special promotion of young adult biographies. Every week Mom bought me a new one – George Washington, Stephen Decatur, Abraham Lincoln, Louisa May Alcott. I loved American history! But I got hooked on the English Regency when I discovered Georgette Heyer as an adult.

How wonderful of your Mom to feed that interest! I started reading historicals because Mom did, as well, particularly with John Jakes and Irving Stone. I may have to look up Georgette Heyer.

Joanne, as well as history, I sensed a love of art in general from within "Blind Fortune" and had to go peruse your website to fulfill my curiosity. Can I say I'm not surprised you studied art? Now I have to say I also began college heading toward commercial art and changed paths, as well as also being pulled out of college for marriage. This is leading to two questions:

Was your art love a planned theme for this novel or did it appear as you wrote?

JW: How wonderful we have so much in common, Loraine!

Most blind people possess an affinity for music so it seemed logical that Lady Fortuna would play the pianoforte by ear. And because music speaks so deeply to the soul, I knew it had to be important to my emotionally wounded hero, Charles Lowden, as well.

Music, art and classical literature were an integral part of 19th century life. Some of the greatest painters of the 18th and 19th centuries came out of England—Joshua Reynolds, John Constable, JMW Turner. William Hogarth and Thomas Rowlandson were wildly popular with their satires of English life.

Remember, this was before photography. The only way to memorialize a scene or person was in a painting or illustration.

That’s something I didn’t know about the blind. Interesting. And I’m applauding your point about music and healing. Speaking personally about the soul, did your own experiences play a role in Lady Fortuna's feelings and fears about married life or about life for women in general?

JW: I wrote BLIND FORTUNE based on personal experiences with my husband’s loss of sight from diabetes. Most human communication is nonverbal so he often misunderstood conversations. It struck me as an excellent premise around which to craft a romance.

I tried to imagine what life would have been like for a blind woman of good birth during the Regency. But the story really came together when I read Mary Wollstonecraft’s Maria or The Wrongs of Woman published in 1798.

Women of the Georgian and Regency periods were owned body and soul by the men in their lives. In BLIND FORTUNE, Lady Fortuna fears a husband might lock her away once he gets his hands on her dowry. It’s a legitimate concern, given how little time alone courting couples were allowed in order to get to know one another. An unscrupulous man could hide behind exemplary behavior until the marriage vows were exchanged.

In Mary Wollstonecraft’s world, a woman’s identity was subsumed with that of her husband when she wed. People literally believed the biblical doctrine “two become as one flesh.” Divorce was almost unheard of and required Parliamentary approval. Once married, a woman was trapped for life.

Ah, I read part of “The Wrongs of Woman” as part of a women’s literature class some time ago. Powerful writing. It’s amazing how far women have come and we need to pay homage to women such as Wollstonecraft for helping that come about. I’m glad you mentioned her.

As romance writers, we know there is a tendency for the general public to look down on romance novels. And yet, they are the best selling genre consistently. I know from your website that women's issues are important to you and you've done a fair amount of research in that vein. Do you think there's a connection between a general degrading of romance and 'chick flicks' that relates to women's fight for equal recognition?

JW: You are right that women’s issue are close to my heart. In the early 1980s, when my husband lost his sight, I needed to find a better job to support my family. As a union employee with the local gas and electric company, I was able to leave my clerical position and become the first female journeyman electric meterman.

As a writer, particularly an American one, I can’t help but bring this experience to my stories. Unfortunately, it makes them less true historically. I mentioned before that women of the 19th century were at the mercy of the men in their lives. Most of them were content with this position. But that attitude doesn’t resonate with 21st century women. More of them are entering the military; more are opting to have children outside of marriage. It’s difficult for them to identify with the past as it truly was so an author sometimes must bend the truth to fit modern sensibilities.

I think you did a nice job showing both, balancing the historical aspect with the needs of modern fiction.  I also have to think many women were not content with that slavery but unsure how to go about changing it. It was widespread battered women/victim syndrome where only the strongest dared fight it.

To lighten things up again, what is your favorite color? Do you wear this color a lot?

 JW: Blue has always been my favorite. But over the last few years, I’ve gravitated toward purple and lavender. It goes well with my gray hair!

Are you an outdoorsy type or do you prefer being within closed windows?

JW: Despite working outdoors for almost thirty years, I’m not the woodsy type. I don’t camp or hunt. My idea of roughing it is the Holiday Inn! But I do adore walks along Lake Michigan and boating.

There’s another similarity. I agree! So do you have any "different" hobby you'd like to share with us? Do you collect anything outrageous or scuba dive or so on?

JW: I collect Russian nesting dolls. Lovely little works of folk art. I have one whose smallest doll is roughly the size of a sesame seed. And it’s painted. With a magnifying glass you can make out its little smiling face.

Oh, those dolls are precious! I have a set we picked up in Germany but the smallest is nowhere near that small.

Speaking of painting and art, if you could claim one famous work of art as your own, which one would it be and why?

JW: Only one? What an impossible task! Van Gogh’s Starry Night.  Salvador Dali’s Invention of the Monsters with its flaming giraffe and his Persistence of Memory with its melting clocks. I absolutely adore Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. It’s on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. When my son was in grade school, I took him to see the painting. I dragged him up close before he had a chance to assimilate what the picture was about. Shoving him within inches of the canvas, I asked, “What do you see?” “Dots.” He said. Then I dragged him back and watched the wonder dawn on his face as the picture gradually coalesced. “The original dot matrix image,” I told him.

Joanna! La Grande Jatte is one of my all-time favorite works of art! I saw it at the Art Institute back in my college days after I’d studied it in art history class and it’s amazing. I had to use it in one of my books, I was so struck by the piece. Van Gogh is another fave. I love your picks.

Back to writing, tell us what you're doing now. Any projects in the works?

Right now I’m working on a Regency paranormal set on the border of Scotland in 1816. Home from the war, my hero accidentally releases the 6th century spirit of a pagan king from a well in which it has been trapped for twelve-hundred years. The spirit follows him home and begins wreaking havoc. The hero and heroine must overcome their differences and work together to banish it. In the process, they rediscover the love they lost two years before.

Sounds like another great read. I’ll be watching for it.

Joanna, thank you for taking the time to be with us. I wish you all the best with future books. I also encourage any art and music loving readers out there to pick up Blind Fortune. Is there anything you would like to add? Be sure to leave us your links to find you!

Check out my resources for Regency readers and writers at

(Click on “Joanna’s Books” to read excerpts from BLIND FORTUNE)

Be sure to “friend” me on Myspace and Facebook

And don’t forget my blog about British customs and holidays at