Book Monday: Gifts for Book Lovers – Literary Board Games!

Over at Flavorwire last week, they collected ten board games for book nerds, and I thought I’d share them, but with the links to purchase. I also found some more!

The sharp eye of a fellow Austenite alerted me to the article, due to this:

pandpgameA Pride & Prejudice Board Game!

Totally want. Want one too? You can get it for $36 + shipping. Here’s the official blurb:

Attend a ball at Netherfield, take tea at Rosings or stroll through the gardens at Pemberley as you experience Regency life and test your knowledge of Jane Austen’s most beloved novel. Will you linger in Meryton or pine for the amusements of London? Perhaps you’ll astound your opponents with your superior knowledge of the book. Alas, your progress may be deterred by anything from a bit of slipped lace to a scandalous elopement.

Marriage is the Object
Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, Lydia and Wickham or Charlotte and Mr. Collins–pick one of four couples from the novel and maneuver them separately or together through town and countryside. Be the first to collect all game tokens, then race to the Parish Church to marry and win the game!

Here’s more!

Which ones do you want? Which ones would you like to see be a board game?

How Accurate Do Your Historicals Need To Be?

I’ve heard various opinions on this, either in conversations with fellow writers or in blog posts. One thing I’ve found is that opinion amongst those romance writers I’ve talked to vary WIDELY.

One writer I talked to, when I said that the historical inaccuracies in one NYT Bestselling Author used to bother me, but her delightful writing and humor won me over, stated she couldn’t read her works because of the inaccuracies. I’ve heard others say that they don’t worry too much about historical accuracy when writing because they consider the historical past a fantasy world.

I think I fall somewhere between, with my bar as a writer higher than as a reader.

While I agree that the worlds we are creating for our reader are fantasy worlds, that fantasy world can be popped if we’re too careless with facts. It’s true that we write about situations and events that might not have happened, heck, I wrote a time travel, and we know there just weren’t that many scorchingly handsome, progressive-thinking single dukes to be had in Regency England for our Bluestocking heroine. But I do think we have a responsibility to be as accurate as we can while still creating that fantasy world for our readers.

I feel like if a book has the basics down, I’m able to suspend my disbelief and immerse myself in the straight-up Regency with the aforementioned hijinks of the duke and heroine, or into the wonderful world of vampires, werewolves and tea in Victorian England, like Gail Carriger’s wonderful Parasol Protectorate series. I wonder if it’s the same level of tolerance paranormal writers talk about? You can have one made up thing/premise, but throw in more and you risk popping that bubble?

So if the premise is what we’re making up, shouldn’t we try to be as accurate as possible with the day-to-day, non-plot elements? Nothing yanks me out of that world than simple historical details that could easily be fixed without affecting the plot. Some things that yanked me out recently:

  • Addressing someone by the wrong title. It should have been Lady Something, not Miss Something
  • Introduction etiquette–who-gets-introduced-first type of thing.
  • Having the heroine refer to wearing bloomers (and using that word) in a Regency. Not only a problem with word choice, but they didn’t wear pantaloons or drawers in the early Regency.
  • Having an historical character know that a Jane Austen novel was written by Jane Austen and the book is set prior to 1817. I blogged about fact-checking last year and about this particular date.
  • Using modern day valuations for transactions. I remember one historical where the hero gave the heroine like a 100,000 British pounds piece of jewelry. While yes, today, that would be extremely expensive and would show how wealthy the dude was, did the writer understand how freakishly, astronomically expensive that would have been in modern terms when converted to the valuation of the pound in the novel’s time?
  • Using the word fiancé or fianceé in a Regency. They used the word betrothed until about the 1850s.
  • A Scotsman from the 900s wielding a claymore.

I know that there’s way more than this that will yank me out, but that’s all I can think of that I remember, or came across in my reading in the last week (wish I’d taken notes!). I also know we can’t possibly get everything accurate, because sometimes even historians are divided about what really happened. And also because sometimes we just can’t know. Or it’s something that only someone with a doctorate in history would happen to know. After all, we’re not writing non-fiction, we are writing entertainment. But for things that are basic, like what they ate and wore, etc., we should strive to be as accurate as possible. That’s my take.

Also, others might look at some of my examples and roll their eyes as their tolerance as a reader is lower. And that’s fine. It’s all about the reader and what keeps their willing suspension of disbelief.

This also underscores how important Beta readers are. I know mine have caught numerous historical inaccuracies and anachronisms in mine! (Thank you!)

As a reader, where do you fall on this spectrum? Writers, how accurate do you strive to be? As a writer, is your reading tolerance higher or lower than what you write?

Recap of RWA12, plus other news!

Man what a week that was! Last month (Wait. What??) was the Romance Writer’s of America’s national conference in Anaheim, California. Being an introvert, it took me awhile to recover when I returned home, hence the lateness of this post. Plus, I’ve also been busy polishing MUST LOVE BREECHES to send out and also subject to another round of queries (more on that at the end of the post).

I thought I’d do a quick recap, but focus on only how the conference experience was for me, instead of giving a highlights recap as many have already done much better than I could. You know, I actually thought I would live blog the conference? Hahahahaha, giggle, sniff. Yeah. I barely tweeted.

One of the main validations I received was the payoff in all the hard work I’ve put into my writing career in the last year, especially cultivating my social media profile. As conference roomie Jami Gold explained so well in her post, Social Media: An Introvert’s Secret Weapon, those of us who have cultivated our online presence saw the benefits when we arrived at the conference. I hopped on the airport shuttle to the hotel, and two other attendees were on board. Like a good newbie, I handed out my card, and one of them recognized my name! (Remember, I’m unpublished) — she’d ‘seen’ me on one of the RWA loops and we figured out which one and had a great convo on the drive.

I checked in early (I arrived in CA around 9:30 a.m.) and then took the Amtrack into Los Angeles to meet my cousin for a late lunch. Like many in LA, she’s a struggling actress. She took me to Cole’s in downtown LA, which just oozed 1930s glam. We caught up on our happenings and had a cute bartender who was kind of a geek about mixology, which was a lot of fun. He mixed me a very tasty Old Fashioned, which I only found out after my second one that he made it with 100 proof bourbon, yikes!

The bar at Cole’s

Back at the hotel, I texted Jami and I finally got to meet her at the Literacy signing! We’ve been Beta reading buddies, and it was so great to finally meet in person, someone whom I’d been communicating and forming a friendship with first via Twitter, then email and then even phone (I hate talking on the phone).  She was with Buffy Armstrong, who I’d interacted with on Twitter and we had a great time going around the tables. The room was filled with writers signing books, and the first person I had to locate and say “Hi” to was Tessa Dare.

Sidenote: I have a little confession to make. My first fiction writing attempts began back in 2005 when I wrote Jane Austen fan fiction. I’d created a website called Longbourn Loungers for fans of the 2005 Pride & Prejudice movie and we had a lot of fun for a while indulging our addiction and exercising our writing muscles. My screen name was Plange. One of the participants was Tessa under the screen name Vangie and we Beta’d each others stories. I remember being blown away then by her prose. So we were super excited to see her succeed so well later on! I’m still in touch with several of the participants via Facebook and email and they were the ones who turned me on to NaNoWriMo back in 2009 which finally got me over my fear of writing novel-length fiction, and so I owe a huge debt to the Loungers :) One of them is fellow Six Sentence Sunday participant Kate Warren who just published a fabulous ebook, Bridging the Gaps.

Anyway, this was a long way of saying that it was really great to finally meet Vangie (Tessa Dare) in person:

With the lovely and super-talented Tessa Dare at RWA12’s Literacy Signing event Wednesday night

Okay, quick recap this has not become! I’m going to try to be more brief! In fact, I’m just going to say a general statement, show some photos and hit some personal highlights…

The conference was my first national writer’s conference and I know they say that you’re not supposed to hang with the same people, but I’m sorry, I did. I know this might have made me miss out on making some connections, but what it did was give me the feeling that I was part of the conference, not a stranger on the outside looking in, seeing everyone else interacting. My conference buddies were the wonderful Jami Gold, Buffy Armstrong and Janice Hardy, and it was so great getting to know them better and know they had my back. Thanks guys, can’t wait to see you again! I also met other online friends and several fellow Six Sentence Sunday and Critique Circle writers, so it was like meeting old friends, but not.  :)

Personal Highlights

  • Getting recognized at the Literacy signing! Another writer approached me by saying, “I have to meet the woman who wrote Must Love Breeches.” I think my jaw hit the floor. I know I look befuddled and probably stammered. First, I’m not published, so… Huh? How? Turns out she’d judged it in a writing contest and made me feel pretty dang good with her praise. What a way to start the conference :) There was an irony to this too– we’d just walked away from Courtney Milan’s table and I said to Jami, “Meeting great writers like her makes me really wonder what the heck I think I’m doing trying to write,” and two seconds later, this lady walked up to me and said the above, LOL. Served me right for succumbing to the writer’s worst enemy: self-doubt.
  • Hanging in our hotel room briefly Thursday night with Jami and Kat Latham and practicing our pitches. Kat was pitching to someone I’d pitched to at FF&P and I said I might still have my one-page dossier that I’d made on that agent if it’d help. So I opened my laptop and we were reading the bullet points I’d garnered on that agent back in March and then Kat says, “That’s me!” — I’d had a bullet point referencing something that agent had said on her blog, LOL.
  • Pitching on Friday. I pitched to two agents and one editor and all went well. I wasn’t nervous and I think I have the FF&P conference to thank for that. It’s one of the main reasons I went, was to experience pitching in a less intimidating atmosphere before I went to Nationals. I got requests for partials from the agents (50 pages and 30 pages) and a full from the editor.
  • Being told by Carrie Lofty at her Pitch Witch Rides Again workshop, that my pitch was a “win”
  • The lunch time keynote speeches
  • The awards ceremony (though we didn’t get to sit at a table, despite being only 2 minutes late, so we missed dessert and had to stand for part of it until they brought in chairs). It was so wonderful seeing all those talented writers going up to receive their award and hearing their tales. It just felt like a big dose of girl power and was very inspiring!
  • Running into writers that I’d met at the FF&P conference
  • Meeting published writers I admire
  • Meeting online friends
  • Free books!
  • Great workshops!

Photos

Wish I’d taken more, but here’s my paltry offering:

Thursday Night, at the FF&P’s party The Gathering. The theme was Disney characters…

With the fabulous Amanda Quick/Jayne Anne Krentz. She’s the one, with her sparkling wit and humor, who inspired me to write romance!

All dressed up with some place to go! With my conference buddies Buffy M. Armstrong and Jami Gold

Jami Gold’s hand, and Buffy Armstrong adjusting her napkin… After the awards ceremony– we arrived two minutes late and so had no place to sit and missed out on dessert. So we ordered our own later!

All the free books I got (well, mostly free. I bought 3 at the Literacy Signing, and then sent some back via Media Mail for $13)

Contest Update and Other News

I came back to some great news. First I’d won a pitch contest on Savvy Authors that resulted in a partial request from an agent. And then I found out that MUST LOVE BREECHES finaled in two more contests, making that a total of 7:

So right now, I’m doing one last exhaustive polishing revision of MUST LOVE BREECHES, before I send it to the ones who requested it and also do another wave of queries.

Did you go to RWA? What did you learn? What stuck with you the most?

Monday Hunk Who Reads – Colin Firth

By Rathika Mawtus [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Colin Firth

What? No book in the pic? Before we move on to the awesomeness that is Colin Firth, first a little housecleaning. The Monday Hunk Who Reads feature is now in a different format and schedule, due to the blog post by Roni Loren about usage of photos in blogs. Basically, it boils down to: I was doing a big No-No all this time. I immediately pulled down all the articles and am slowly working my way through to get permission for the photos. I’d thought that if I attributed/linked back, I was fine, especially since it promoted a good cause–reading. So, if you’re wondering where they all went, that’s why. There’s a few back up now, especially the most popular: Dan Stevens.

What this means going forward, is that if I cannot get permission to post the photo that features our hunk with a book, I will only be able to link to it. So that means no opening glitzy photo. From here on out, the opening photo will most likely feature the hunk without a book that is in the public domain.

Like above!

It also means, since more work will be involved, and more lead-time needed, that this feature will only be published on the first Mondays of each month.

Actually, I’ve been wanting to do Firth for a while, as I knew he was a reader, but could not find him with a book, so I couldn’t profile him. Now I can!

Now onto Firth and books…

According to this article in the Belfast Telegraph, Firth is an avid reader and “views his books as ‘old acquaintances'” and loves his collection of books. It turns out though, that this Kindle skeptic has become a convert.

“[I bought] a Kindle. I was a skeptic-what about the feel of a book, the smell? But I found it surprising how unimportant that became,” he told People magazine.

“No [I haven't switched over completely], if I love a novel, part of me just wants the book. The picture on the cover. And I like glancing up at books on my shelves. They’re rather like old acquaintances.”

Colin feels transformed by the works he’s read that were penned by his favourite authors.

“William Faulkner would be on the list-The Sound and the Fury. John Cheever’s stories, Richard Ford,” he shared. “I’d never read Jane Austen before I [played Mr Darcy] in Pride and Prejudice; she was a revelation. I went through every book and wished there were more.

In Oprah’s column “Books That Made A Difference,” Firth shared:

When I’m really into a novel, I’m seeing the world differently during that time—not just for the hour or so in the day when I get to read. I’m actually walking around in a bit of a haze, spellbound by the book and looking at everything through a different prism.

I’m paraphrasing terribly from a theory I came across years ago, but there was this idea that everyone leads a kind of secret life. All of these things are going on around us that we don’t process consciously but that stay with us. There’s a school of thought that inanimate objects can make you feel certain things and you don’t know why. You pick up a green mug and you drink coffee out of it and you’re not thinking about anything except whether the coffee is good or bad. About an hour later, you feel depressed and you don’t know why. Perhaps the mug is exactly the same color as your grandmother’s. You’re aware of the emotion but you didn’t know your subconscious went through a whole thing—remembered something, relived something, and fed it back to you.

So a book can pull out responses that would be dormant otherwise. I find that a very valuable thing to have as a possibility. I’m not simply responding to the author’s vision. The joy I take from a book is mine. It comes from me.

So what else does he like to read? in the above Oprah article, it says he “goes for psychological intrigue, moral mud puddles and lyrical truth-telling.” In another Oprah profile, this is what’s on his bookshelf: Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s The Leopard, David Gates’ Preston Falls, Anne Tyler’s Saint Maybe, William Faulkner’s Light in August, and Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections.

About Rilke’s book, Firth says:

I don’t think I’ve ever read such descriptions of what it would be like to lose your grip. He has a vision that makes you less sure of your surroundings—and I find that stimulating.

About Greene’s The Power and The Glory, he says:

This is about a man—the whiskey priest—on the run in a Mexican state during a purge of religious figures. The most poignant thing in the story, for me, is that the priest has had a child. He wants to repent, but how can you find salvation when you can’t hate the sin? He’s stuck in that paradox: The one thing that prevents him from repenting is love. That so interests me—the idea of looking for spiritual salvation in what is otherwise an impossibly compromised life.

Be sure to click through and read the rest of what he thinks about each book he’s named above.

According to this article on CBS, Firth would sometimes skip school to read! He’s also lending his talent to recording classics for Audible.com. In this article, he states that he’s reading John Fante’s Ask the Dust, about Los Angeles in the 1930s.

Reading is sexy people!

So that’s this month’s Hunk Who Reads. If you like these articles, please comment. They’re fun to write, but are time-consuming :) — on that note, if you run across any photos of hunks reading, please let me know. If you know of an intellectual hunk you’d like to see profiled, let me know that too.

For further opportunities to idolize men and books:

Do you have any photos of male celebrities reading?

Come back next month to see the next Hunk Who Reads…

Past Hunks Who Read/Related Articles:

*previous Ovaries Exploding Award winner

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to a Sendak/Avengers Mashup

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Take a Chance on Me” ABBA

Writing and the Writing Life:

Jane Austen:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

  • And I’ll leave you with this:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to a Queen Riding Darth

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Feeling Gravity’s Pull,” R.E.M.

Writing and the Writing Life:

Romance Writers

Ada Lovelace:

Jane Austen:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

  • And I’ll leave you with this, Queen’s Freddie Mercury riding the Darth (h/t Stubby the Rocket):

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Gandalf skateboarding

Song playing right now on my playlist: “I Shall Believe,” by Sheryl Crowe

Writing and the Writing Life:

Ada Lovelace:

Jane Austen:

In Geekdom:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Stormtroopers relaxing in a pool

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Sally MacLennane” by The Pogues.

Writing and the Writing Life:

Ada Lovelace:

Jane Austen:

In Geekdom:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Vader In A Kilt On A Unicycle Playing Bagpipes (I Kid You Not)

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Stray Cat Strut” by Stray Cats

Writing and the Writing Life:

Romance Writers:

Ada Lovelace:

Jane Austen:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Vader Hugging a Unicorn

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Bittersweet Symphony,” by the Verve. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Writing and the Writing Life:

Romance Writers:

  • Sarah Wendell does an awesome post in reaction to 50 Shades and everyone in the media shocked to learn that women enjoy sex: Romance, Arousal, and Condescension
  • Merry Farmer writes an awesome post in reaction to a Philadelphia magazine article about the sorry state of the modern male which could explain why women like to read about Alpha males in romance: Where Have All The Good Men Gone?
  • Apparently we’re hitting the fruit too much, specifically cherries and berries, when describing nipples– this post will either have you chuckling or groaning: A Description of Nipples
  • Romance author Beth Dunn does an excellent and humorous overview of men’s fashion, specifically their pants, in the Regency and why some eschewed underwear (they didn’t want a panty line!) in her post at Wonders & Marvels: The Turn of the Leg

Ada Lovelace:

Jane Austen:

Browncoats:

And I’ll leave you with this: