Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2009 Bloggies—Voting ends February 2nd!

Suzanne McMinn not only writes for Silhouette Romantic Suspense, but is also one of my fairy blogmothers.

Her blog, Chickens in the Road, is a finalist in the 2009 Bloggies, which apparently is like the Oscars of the blog world with top blogs nominated in various categories—it's a fun and interesting list.

If you are reading this blog (just a wild guess) you should be voting on the Bloggies, because you clearly know great blogging. And according to Suzanne, hers is the only romance writer's blog to ever be a finalist in the Bloggies. Which is very cool.

When you get to the Bloggies 2009 site, the scroll is to the right rather than down. She's a finalist in the Best-Kept Secret Weblog category (fairly far to the right). Voting ends Feb. 2nd. You can vote once per email address.

Suzanne's website is suzannemcminn.com with info there as well.

Get out and Vote!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In Memoriam

I wanted to share an excerpt from "A Memorial to the Men of the Yale College, Class of 1918 Who Died in the Service of Their Country, 1917-1918" New Haven 1924, compiled for the Class by Cassius Marcellus Clay and Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis.

I found it not only touching but also remarkable as a piece of writing by a young man of perhaps 27—Robert Emerson McClure—about a friend who had died before he'd reached 21. It seemed a compelling example of what can be done with a few words to make a person and an era come to life.

Frank Stuart Patterson: born September 3, 1897, Dayton, Ohio; Died June 19 1918, Dayton, Ohio.

He was very tall—over six feet three, I think—and he had the figure of a young frontiersman: very long and sinewy arms and legs, a slouching walk with head thrust slightly forwards, a small face, finely sensitive. He was, I think, secretly proud of the fact that nearly everything he wore and used was oversized and in most cases made to his order: his furniture, his bed, his shoes, his shirts, that fabulous leather sofa which was probably the largest affair ever coaxed into a Yale dormitory room. And I have always thought of him as oversized in soul as well, as unique in all his spiritual measurements.

I do not mean that his was a case for superlatives only; he was after all but a boy when he left New Haven; a boy on that day some thirteen months later when he plunged to death. He was one of the youngest men in our class, and one of the most boyish and fun-loving; devoted to sports, pathetically afraid of girls and in his quiet way, capable of ardent enthusiasms. These included baseball, trap-shooting, hunting, motoring, firearms, boxing, winter sports, the theatre and among books, Conrad, Kipling, Robert W. Service and stories of Western adventure—particularly tales of "two-fisted, gun-toting bad men," which he read clandestinely and cherished as a secret vice.

I mention these tastes because they always seemed to me characteristic of a type of romantic idealism grounded on a love of outdoor life—an idealism very youthful, very charming, and curiously frequent in those sprung from pioneer stock; also because they reveal an essential quality of Stuart Patterson's shy, quiet, rather inarticulate spirit; and finally because they contrasted, in their youthfulness, with the astonishing maturity of his attitude toward less material things.

I say maturity—his tolerance was mature, and his austere faith in all the elemental virtues: honor and cleanliness, fair play, courage, self-restraint. He was one of the purest men I have ever known, and the farthest from priggishness or cant. His was a fundamental decency, as instinctive as the act of breathing. His ideals of conduct were part and parcel of his heritage, like the strength of his wrists and his will; and they enabled him to see things simply, clearly, sanely. To make up him mind as to the right or wrong of a question without wavering or equivocation.

Others had Calvinistic standards; in Stuart Patterson they went hand in hand with charity of mind. Making no truce with weakness in himself, he was yet quick to allow generously for it in others. I remember his dislike of dogmatism in any form, and his invariable insistence of "hearing the other side." In three years' close association, I never heard Stu Patterson play the bigot or snob; never knew him to miss an opportunity to help another in distress, whether that distress were physical or moral or financial; never saw him betrayed by disappointment into envy or meanness of any kind. His patent to spiritual nobility was unobtrusive, but he carried it with him in his daily life, and it was honored by all who knew him well.

He would have made a notable record in the war. To a superlative degree, he had the qualities that go to make a great aviator—coolness in danger, presence of mind, self-reliance, a sense of tactics, a contempt for death. Long before our entrance into the conflict, he longed to go; and I think it was from a hope of later service, as much as his attraction to flying as a sport, that he took his pilot's license in the summer of 1916. When war came, he was among the first to leave New Haven.

But it is his life, rather than his death, I would recall; a life singularly pure, and generous, and noble; a life not lived, nor even lost, in vain.

— — —

This new year brings loss as well as new goals and possibilities. I was inspired to share the above on hearing from Robert Guntrum that his wife, author Suzanne Simmons Guntrum, had passed away on December 28th, suddenly, of a heart attack.

I worked with Sue when she wrote for Silhouette Desire many years ago and we have remained friends ever since. How I wish there was "audiography"—that is an audio equivalent of a photograph. Something that would allow you to take an audio snapshot of someone, so I could hear Sue again.

One of the most memorable aspects of Sue for me, was not just what she said, but how she said it. Her voice—not quite husky, not really Midwestern, but some remarkable amalgam of some combination of something. She would share her thoughts with a comic's sense of tone and timing, a quick wit, charm and combined a sense of pragmatism with an appreciation of the ridiculous. Unafraid to say what she thought. Always willing to hear your point of view. I will miss her.

I try to remember that the scope of your loss is the gift you were given. I am glad I appreciated it while I had it.

Indeed may we all look forward to the coming year with a renewed sense of appreciation and delight at what we have. Right here. Right now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January 1st Marks the Preliminary Launch of HarlequinCelebrates.com

To celebrate 60 years of pure reading pleasure, Harlequin will make 16 full books available for download on HarlequinCelebrates.com beginning January 29th – our anniversary!

For the month of January, a teaser site has been created where people can sign up to receive a reminder to come back for the unveiling of the full anniversary site and to download free books.

Visit HarlequinCelebrates.com to sign up for your reminder!

And if you want to learn more about what's happening in digital at Harlequin, check out Tote Bags 'n' Blogs January 14th post: Sneak Peek at Exclusive Digital Publishing from Harlequin by Malle Vallik.

Lots of good info there!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A New Year's Treat: what's really under that Kilt? (Warning: Racy content!)

A friend emailed me these photos. I don't know the etiquette—don't know where they came from, who took them, who the subjects are (aside of true kilt-wearers).

But it was such a lovely photo essay—one that so clearly indicated the proper way to wear a kilt (along with some gaffe's and some clear gaps in lessons learned on "how to sit cross-legged in a skirt")—that I just had to share.

I remember with the success of Liam Neeson in Rob Roy, I got phone calls from journalists asking "Did you know that men in skirts were romantic?" Duh! I responded: "Men in skirts, men wrapped in bedsheets—Scots, Sheiks, we are on it. Wake up!"


Kilt + Wind

Kilt + March

Kilt + Beers

This one is my favorite. I keep searching his face to see if this was planned... He seems rather vacuously cheerful—and surely there are easier ways to lose your job—though perhaps he needed his 15 minutes of fame. Still...!

Kilt + Queen

Now you know. Happy New Year!