Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lunch and Learn

Just spent one of the most delightful afternoons at Candy and Joe's—for those who know them, I thought I'd take a photo of them actually in the same frame to demonstrate they actually do intersect in their amazing and peripatetic lifestyle. No, I'm not even going to go into it.

Candy, in my opinion, defines the word Maven as used by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point. If you haven't read it, it's worth checking out. Perhaps one of the early works of non-fiction that really took to heart or simply took good advantage of the lessons of fiction and storytelling and makes for entertaining—as well as instructive—reading.

While I was ensconsed in this lovely spot, eating amazing food, enjoying the conversation of most eclectic, and fascinating group of people—journalists, vintners, actors, filmmakers, psychologists, writers, editors, pick an interesting profession, pick an interesting person, they are there—an interesting challenge was made: are there 32 great romances? Would I be willing to contribute to a collection a fellow guest was compiling? I canvassed everyone for help, but realized as I sat down that it was too awkward to do as a publisher, so I bowed out.

I wanted to thank everyone who contributed their brilliant suggestions—many of which I totally agreed with. However there were a number of titles I hadn't read, so my "TBR" pile has just grown enormously, and I can't wait to get started—thank you for so many excellent suggestions and ideas! I will also be passing on your recommendations to our team for consideration for favorite titles to get back in print, so I assure you, nothing is wasted!

OK, you have been so good, I had to share this brief article I read in my September 2006 Natural History Magazine Samplings section (Magazine is yours free just for being a member of the Museum of Natural History in New York, one of my favorite Museums!).

You may ask yourself: Is there any benefit to having a lateralized brain? Let me just share some information from a recent study by Marco Dadda, a psychologist, and Agnelo Bisazza, an evolutionary biologist, both at the University of Padua in Italy that suggests that lateralization may make animals better at the critical skill of multitasking (something you may feel is a skill particularly well developed in women. Well, gentle reader, read on!).

"Goldbelly topminnows are small Central American fish that belong to the guppy family. Female goldbelly topminnows must put up with repeated attempts by males to mate with them. The suitors can be distracting, even exasperating, to females, particularly when they are trying to eat.

"Dadda and Bisazza compared the feeding efficiency of female goldbelly topminnows bred to be lateralized with that of females bred to have no side preference. When there were no distracting males, the two kinds of females caught food equally well. When randy males were present, however, only the lateralized females kept eating efficiently, while still avoiding unwanted advances. Parallel processing seems to benefit from a brain with asymmetrical function. (Behavioral Ecology 17:358—63, 2006) —Stephan Reebs

Doesn't that sort of say it all? Somehow, when it's two Italian guys (with, c'mon, sort of made up sounding names) staring at schools of these adorable Central American guppies, worried about whether their girls are getting enough to eat. Sitting there, describing the importunate and irritating goldbelly topminnow guys...just trying to get on top, one can only assume, taking the girl's side. It's, well, it's beautiful. Food? Sex?

Now you know why you have a right and left brain. Keep them both in working order!


Alison Kent said...

Lots of good suggestions piling up here!

Patricia W. said...

Two of my favorites don't really count as romance, I suppose: Little Women (lots of romance in there) and Gone with the Wind (no HEA).

I'll get back to you on contemporary favorites. Mind if I share this in an online writing group that hosts a bunch of romance readers/writers?

Karmela Johnson said...

Instead of a "Best Romance Book," I give you the "Best Romance Arc." I couldn't give a "best romance book" because the story of these two characters spanned (count 'em) six books from start to finish. And who am I talking about?

Suzanne Brockmann's Sam and Alyssa.

They first appeared in Suzanne Brockmann's first single title novel, "The Unsung Hero," and she (Suze the Cruel) strung her readers along for FOUR more books after that. In book six, "Gone Too Far," she finally gave us Sam and Alyssa front and center. They got their big adventure AND their HEA.

She is trying to do a Sam and Alyssa Part 2 with two new characters: Decker and Sophia. I bet their arc will be just as good, if not better, than Sam's and Alyssa's.

Barbarajoe said...

Hi Isabel,

I'm a self-published author and I'm planning to publish an anthology in February titled "How I Met My Sweetheart." One of the contributing authors directed me to your blog. It will be a collection of eighteen short inspirational love stories. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your suggestion...

Patricia W. said...

Now that I've thought about it, here's my list (in no particular order):

Lisa Tawn Bergren's Northern Light Series

Fern Michaels' Texas Trilogy, particularly "Texas Heat"

Brenda Coulter "Finding Hope"

Jamellah Ellis "That Faith, That Trust, That Love"

Lori Wick "Pretense"

Lori Wick "The Princess"

Janice Sims "Out of the Blue" (and pretty much everything else she has written)

Kimberly White's Ballyntine Trilogy, particularly "To Love a Ballyntine"

Margeret Daley "Courage to Dream"

Felicia Mason Sweet series, particularly "Sweet Harmony"

Felicia Mason's Heart series, particularly "Enchanted Heart"

Janet Dailey "Silver Wings, Santiago Blue"

Valerie Hane "Samantha's Gift"

Marta Perry "Promise Forever"

Janet Tronstad's Dry Creek series, particularly "A Hero for Dry Creek"

Loree Lough "An Accidental Hero"

Victoria Christopher Murray "Truth Be Told"

I think that's 31 or 32 books in total, counting all of the titles in each series!

Then I have three that are probably more women's fiction than romance, although they have strong romance lines:

Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women"

Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind"

Barbara Taylor Bradford's "A Woman of Substance"

Isabel Swift said...

Thanks for the excellent comments and great suggestions! Its interesting to realize how quickly I move to "definition of terms" and have to acknowledge that there can be sweeping love stories like Gone With The Wind that don't deliver a HEA, and thus don't qualify within this definition of a Romance.

Of course my sloppy conversational world view is that most everything is a romance! War and Peace, James Bond, etc.

The Romance Arc with secondary characters that finally come through is a really good point too. Wonder how to incorporate that in a listing? Will have to ponder that one! We could come up with a for authors that tease like that, could we Karmela? (but we won't because we don't want to irritate them and cause them to torture us any more!)

Patricia W. apologies for not responding to your query, but when I really through it through I realized as an active publisher, just didn't seem right. Maybe someday! It's a rich topic, isn't it? You've sent in some great choices--of course I'm delighted to see so many authors that are Steeple Hill and Kimani Press and Silhouette (in the past, if not now) authors, as well as some favorites of mine too (Louisa May of course, GWTW) and some new suggestions!

Barbarajoe: just wanted to send my congratulations on your upcoming publication How I Met My Sweetheart--it sounds lovely!