At RWA and having a blast! It’s so great to see/meet everyone!

I mostly ended up staying by my table during the signing (thank you, people who stopped by, you made my YEAR, and it was so nice to meet those of you I already knew online in the flesh!!) but I did sneak out for a bit near the end and managed to get a few signed books to give away on the website over the next little bit: The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig (this book has one of my favorite difficult heroines and one of my favorite bad first marriages EVER), His at Night by Sherry Thomas (actually her only book I haven’t read yet, how did that happen? I think I got confused and thought I had read it. Should have bought two copies! Luckily I have my Kindle with me), The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne (I may have gotten gushy about how much I love Adrian), and Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer (!!!). I got a little starstruck while talking to Jenny Crusie and forgot to tell her that my dad is a huge fan as he asked me to, I hope he won’t be too mad. (Yes, I got my dad hooked on romance!)

I’ve been reading a lot lately and haven’t had time to post on Goodreads, but the conference is making me want to spend hours talking about books! So those of you who have me friended on Goodreads and Twitter may be deluged by reviews in the next few weeks. Sorry!

Also Susanna Fraser and I went to the Pompeii exhibit this morning. So awesome! Apparently the discovery of the ruins of the nearby city of Herculaneum in 1709 and the later discovery of Pompeii and their excavation was really important to the creation of modern archaeology and a lot of that was happening in the 18th and early 19th century. I wish to learn more. LOTS more. Anyone have any book suggestions?

That was a lot of exclamation points, huh? Whatever, it’s that kind of week.

"Does she care for olives?"

When I turned in the manuscript of A Lily Among Thorns, my editor at the time (the fabulous Leah Hultenschmidt) commented on a particular scene, “Your men are so good about bringing women exactly what they want to eat in the ballroom.”

“Huh,” I thought, “I guess there are scenes in both my books of the heroes bringing the heroines just what they want to eat at a party.” In In for a Penny, Nev remembers that Penelope hates being messy when she eats (the young ladies at school made fun of her for her low-class table manners), so he cuts up all the food from the buffet into bite-sized pieces for her before giving her the plate.

(This turned out to be a favorite moment for readers, actually–I’ve had people mention it to me more often than probably every other scene combined.)

And in A Lily Among Thorns, Solomon and Serena gate-crash a society party (for Important Intrigue Reasons). Serena has a very scandalous past, and Solomon’s grandfather was an earl but his mother ran off with a poor curate whose brother is actually a tradesman (gasp!), so their arrival doesn’t exactly go unnoticed:

Serena hastily turned her attention to the ballroom. Everyone in the room was watching them. The low murmur of conversation rose to an excited hum. At least Mrs. Elbourn looked pleasantly scandalized instead of horrified. This would make her party the talk of London. Perhaps that would be enough to keep them from being tossed out on their ears.

Solomon’s shoulders slumped. “Shall we try the buffet table? Maybe there are lobster patties.”

Serena felt warm. Was it because of all the eyes on her, or because Solomon had noticed she loved lobster patties when Antoine [the chef at her hotel] made them last week for supper?

“Whatever,” I said to myself. “It’s probably just a coincidence.”

Only now I’m working on my next book (not sold yet so I have no details, sorry!). The heroine (a middle-class widow who does her own grocery shopping, so a gift of food makes sense) doesn’t like sweets and no one can seem to remember that! And in the scene I just wrote, after their first (awesome) kiss, the hero really feels he should apologize for taking such shocking liberties, so he brings her a whole ham.

ham covered in pineapples and maraschino cherries on a tastefully elegant plate

She hasn’t been able to afford a whole ham since last Christmas! (It’s just such a cute image to me, this guy ducking his head apologetically and holding out…a ham wrapped in paper.)

Okay, so maybe it’s not a coincidence. Maybe it’s a thing.

I guess, to me, coming from a Jewish/Polish family, food is more than just food? Food and cooking are family, and love, and friendship. My biggest fear when I have people over is that I won’t have enough or the right kind of food for them and they’ll be hungry. HUNGRY, AT MY HOUSE! THAT WOULD BE TERRIBLE.

Plus…isn’t it nice to have someone pay attention to you? To be so interested in you that they actually remember small details like what you like to eat, or to want to please you so much that they make the effort to find out?

There’s a point in Sense and Sensibility after Willoughby has dumped Marianne when Mrs. Jennings is trying to cheer her up:

Had not Elinor, in the sad countenance of her sister, seen a check to all mirth, she could have been entertained by Mrs. Jennings’s endeavors to cure a disappointment in love, by a variety of sweetmeats and olives, and a good fire.

When I’m heartbroken, that’s exactly what I want!

What little things mean love, to you?

David Tennant was originally cast in this movie and left the production

Burke and Hare contemporary engravingsSo I sincerely apologize if any of you have seen this movie and loved it. My mother always taught me that it’s not nice to say ick about what other people are eating, and I really believe that. So if you liked Burke & Hare with Simon Pegg, please don’t read this.

Sonia and I just walked out of the movie about halfway through. I am so bitterly disappointed. I was in a great mood going in (and had had a couple glasses of wine) and I love Simon Pegg and I love grave-robbing (not as a hobby, you understand, but as a topic of historical interest) so I was really predisposed to love this movie. And I absolutely couldn’t stand it.

I think my main complaint is that there was NOTHING about this comedy that felt specific. To the topic, to the characters, to ANYTHING. This movie could have been set in the 80s and it would have had the exact same complement of jokes:

1. People talking in “hilarious” working class Scottish accents.
2. A woman drinking until she fell with her face in a dish of oatmeal.
3. A fat guy having a fat body. Hilarious! Oh wait no, that’s just HOW PEOPLE LOOK SOMETIMES WHAT IS INHERENTLY FUNNY ABOUT THAT.
4. The word “whore” said in a “funny” accent.

Oh and this one is at least historically specific but I’ve seen it already in 8,000,000 historical comedies:

5. Someone emptying a chamber pot out a window. This hasn’t been funny since THE SIXTIES.

The jokes were just so stale and so easy, and the whole setting looked like it was borrowed from the Masterpiece Theater wardrobe closet (and you know I love low-budget costume dramas, but there was seriously NOTHING fresh about the historical setting, NOTHING), there was such a huge cast of incredibly talented people who were completely and utterly wasted…

I can’t remember the last time I felt this generally appalled about a movie. X-Files 2: I Want to Believe, maybe?

To learn more about Burke and Hare and how incredibly ludicrous their story actually was in actual real life, see this recap.

To see Burke and Hare comedy done right, see this Kate Beaton comic.