TwoNerdyHistoryGirls.com (TNHG) launches today, a place I'm already crazy for, and one Chase and Scott invite you to think of as a kind of gossip column about history. "Historical figures are as fascinating to us as modern celebrities are to normal people," says Chase, who always has seemed pretty normal to me. "We love historical gossip -- who wore what, who's sleeping with whom, and who's a cheat at cards. To us, history is never boring, and we hope our readers will agree."
Oh, your fellow nerd girls definitely concur, because "historical" is one of the most beloved sub-genres of romance fiction, and historical women's fiction's selling like turkey gams at a Renaissance faire. So, it's actually cool to be a history lover, as I suggested to Chase and Scott, who're a little befuddled by the suggestion. "Is it cool? We're so nerdy we don't really know if it's cool or not."
You can expect humor and fancy, and definitely sexy topics at TNHG, cause that's part of the fun of women dishing history. Basically, Chase and Scott will write to entertain and provoke much joyful and irreverent discourse by addressing, as Scott puts it, "whatever captures our shallow and easily distracted yet historically accurate little minds."
Yeah, OK, you're probably thinking what I am: Some readers and writers who love history can get a little nutty about the pesky historical accuracy thang. Are the Two Nerdy History Girls really gonna' be more like the Two Nerdy History Policewomen?
Naw, not these two. They say they want to be informative and entertaining. "We might shatter some cherished myths along the way," says Scott, "but we're not trying to teach history or police it. For one thing, we're too shallow. For another, that's no fun."
"I like historical accuracy," says Chase. "I make myself insane trying to get details right, but I'm writing romance, not history, and romance is a fantasy. Isn't the sex usually better or easier than in real life? Aren't the guys more . . . um . . . romantic? More articulate and understanding? Well, some of them. So why can't I let them have great teeth? And no venereal disease?"
And Scott, who writes historical fiction and has published 30+ historical romances as Miranda Jarrett, says Chase points out the one of the biggest differences between her current novels and historical romance. "Because my historical novels are based on the lives of real people, I have to be accurate," she says. "As much as I might long to play God and change history -- and sometimes I really, really want to -- I just can't justify making the Earl of Rochester trot off to anachronistic rehab so he survives to see his thirty-fifth birthday.
"This is also what's making the TNHG blog so...alluring to me. No one will die badly from the pox in any of our blogs, and a good thing it will be, too."
So now you know the TwoNerdyHistoryGirls.com score: 2 bestselling authors, 1 history e-gossip rag and 0 French pox.
In the hands of lesser women, that might equal a recipe for disaster. Yet conceived in the brilliant and wicked minds of Loretta Chase and Susan Holloway Scott - and combined with liberal discussion of fabulous shoes -- it's recipe for sweet success.
Are you a fan of historical romance, historical fiction or both? How accurate does the history in your historicals have to be? What do you love about Loretta's and Susan's books?
Check out Michelle's UB romance column on Mozart, cross dressing and Highlanders: "Hey, Figaro! Nice Pants."
Image: Detail from Barnes & Noble classic, "Sense and Sensibility," by Jane Austen
Suzanne Brockmann is bumming around Barnes&Noble on facebook all day today to swap comments w/you about her new book and any old thing. But if you know Suz, then you know Suz. Which is to say the WYSIWYGirl is as engaging and accessible as her novels -- and she digs using her ability to connect with folks to make good things happen. So even before she was a NY Times bestseller, Brockmann hooked up what we now call a social media network online, one that grew successful not just in size, but in building intimacy and connection between her reader fans.
In a recent post at Romance: B(u)y the Book blog, Brockmann wrote about the message board she created, saying it "...soon became more than a place to socialize – it became a place in which members actively practiced the art of kindness."
I met Brockmann online a few years ago when she was raising awareness of a Navy SEAL's need for a bone-marrow donor to save his life. She writes about SEALs, and her online reader friends support and are very connected to the military. My online community and I jumped onboard with her; it was a special opportunity for me because in 1988, my career Navy older bro -- my real-life hero -- gave me one of his kidneys to save my life.
Whether her online community is "sending ornaments to the mother of a SEAL who lost a lifetime of decorations in a hurricane," or celebrating the fact that one of her message board members' husbands "turned out to be a one-in-25,000 [bone marrow] match for a desperately ill 12-year-old boy," Brockmann's philosophy of why they stick together to do it is simple and somewhat Blanche Dubois-like. She writes:
I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. And, yeah, okay, unlike Blanche Dubois, my dependency isn't physical – it's emotional. See...I believe that most people are good, and that when push comes to shove, they'll treat others kindly and respectfully. Even when hiding behind the anonymity of the internet.
I'll be visiting with Brockmann today at Barnes&Noble on facebook, not just because I like hearing what she's got to say about her SEALs and Troubleshooter, but also because I love meeting the kinds of people she draws to her. I hope you'll join us, too.
*Suz Brockmann hangs at Barnes&Noble on facebook 7.29 from noon -- 9 EDT. The thread will remain open indefinitely, and, who knows? Suz may stop by in the future. That's kinda the way she is. Click here to swap comments and join the fun.
Which is to say, Adam Nevill, erotica editor of London's Virgin Books' Black Lace (BL) and Nexus imprints became "redundant."
Such a polite and utterly British way of noting that as Virgin owners Random House UK concentrates on "prioritising [their] rapidly expanding non-fiction list" and shuts down BL/Nexus, Nevill -- whose seemingly innate ability to procure then nurture ridiculously talented authors and facilitate their creating top-shelf works of wickedly erotic novels -- "doesn't work here anymore."
But why should you care whether Nevill edits Black Lace/Nexus any more than you do whether the imprints exist at all? First, Black Lace and Nexus titles'll be published through February 2010, and backlist remains available for these lovely naughty bits of sexy fun that took America by storm back in '06 and since 1993 influenced significantly the way fine stateside erom's created.
And next: Because under Nevill's and his team's direction, BL/Nexus authors provided readers some of the most exceptional erom and erotica published. Vanguard, and occasionally even deliciously uncomfortable to read because of the nature of their intimacy, the books allow women not only to embrace their sexual fantasies, but also to explore those they perhaps didn't realize they'd had.
Yet Nevill doesn't see himself as driving force behind Black Lace/Nexus' success among readers and critics, rather points to the authors and imprint itself. "I cherry picked the best writers, the best submissions, and what seemed to be the most honest and authentic writing," he says.
And what seems such a simple philosophy worked. From early on, Black Lace, says Nevill, "was a phenomenon, selling over 5 million books and going into 21 languages. It had a huge impact on liberating the female imagination and exploring what had been predominantly taboo imaginative expressions."
Part of what makes Black Lace popular with fans of erotic genre fiction is the availability of themes that appeal to contemporary readers, ones often they can't find even in traditional erotic- and sensual romance. In a 2006 post at Romance: B(u)y the Book blog, Nevill writes:
Sometimes these [Black Lace] stories explore a female character's fantasy life, her inner life and quest for experience, and her goal isn't to find Mr Right and she may not end up ‘happy ever after' with dream man, but will nonetheless be wiser, stronger, confirmed, liberated by the end.
While Nevill moves on from his post at Virgin Books to a 2-book deal with Pan Macmillan - his "Banquet for the Damned" is considered something of a supernatural horror classic - it's clear his tenure at Virgin Books was about the colleagues and the creative. States Nevill, "Commissioning the work of so many talented authors and artists, innovating the direction of the lists and their design, and managing a huge critical path for so many titles has been immensely satisfying."
Obviously, Nevill's not the only one becoming redundant as Black Lace/Nexus close shop. Authors have lost contracts; some
Yet if American houses are wise, they'll keep an eye out for the bright, brash "young" talent - and the established wordsmiths who've caught Nevill's keen notice.
For as I like to say, one editor's lovely naughty bits are another editor's treasure.
How do you feel about erotic romance and erotica? What are some of your fave titles/authors? How are you feeling about the demise of Black Lace/Nexus? What do you feel, if anything, is the difference in flavor between British and American erom/erotica?
Suz Newz! Suz Brockmann hosts a special chat for BN.com viewers on facebook, beginning 12.00 pm EDT, July 29. More info here: http://facebook.com/barnesandnoble/ PLUS: Exclusive Troubleshooter Newz here!
First off, looks like one hit series ain't enough for our girl, Jo, cause Feb. 2010 marks release of a hot new series for her, the SHADO Agency trilogy Jo describes as "anything-goes erotic romance." Boy o boy, is all's I'm sayin, if you know what I mean. SHADO is the Secret Homeland Security Dept, and they work black ops while gettin' hot n' heavy -- and following through all thre books a bad guy who receives what's comin' to him by trilogy's end. The books are stand alones, but you'll wanna grab all three starting with, "Eye Spy a Wicked Sin."
But what of those sexy Sugarland firefighters? Hang on a sec, cause "When Alex Was Bad " drops first, Aug 4, and the book's in development in Hwood and a screeenwriter's been hired. "Alex" is a story close enough to real life to be many a married man's or woman's fantasy: What if your spouse allowed you 7 nights of decadent pleasure? Cool, yet here's the fantasy twist:. In return you describe every detail, then accept your spouses delicious, wicked punishment... Click here to read an exclusive, scorching hot, absolutely adults-only excerpt from "When Alex Was Bad!"
Now, for the smokin-hot FS5 news! First, Dec 1 marks the drop of Julian's book, "Hidden Fire." Jo reports there's a new person coming to town that you'll find molto interesting...and in 2010, expect one of your FS5 craves to take a larger role in the action. Tommy's story, "Line of Fire" drops in June '10, followed by Sean's book, "Ride the Fire," following in Dec. Jo's being evil right now, letting us know that one of those men's careers will be killed, but won't say whose!
But here's the super scoop: At the end of "Line of Fire," expect a surprise you couldn't have seen coming in a bazillion years, one that'll rock your hot-tub-love-scene-lovin' world right back to "Trial by Fire !"
Yeah. I know what it is. Not tellin'. But I will share that Jo didn't take me up on my suggested name changes for the last two FS5 books: "Hell Fire," and "Hell Fire and Damnation."
What? They so too are good.
Why do you think the fantasy played out in "Alex" will play well on-screen, as well as in erotic romance? What do you like about the FS5 books?
It's with abject disappointment that I must report there were no plaids to be had at last night's Harlequin bash at the Georgetown Ritz Carleton. The art director from Hquin who'd donned the thing for last year's event shared w/me that too much of a good thing might get old fast, but he'd probably snap out the pleats for next year's RWA National.
I'm thinking one never can get too much of some good things. Take romance fiction, for example, the reason so many of us are gathered here in D.C. Recently, RWA published stats from its regular survey of romance readers performed by a couple sources. Seems romance readership is up, with 74.8 million folks in the U.S. having read at least one romance in 2008! And readership is up, with 24.6 percent of all Americans having read a romance in '08 versus 21.8 percent in '05. (Source: RWAnational.org)
The RWA survey also found that "the most popular online resource for a reader looking for information on a romance novel is a retailer [website]."
Gulp. Now I'm feeling a little pressure. When more folks find out about H2H, will they be looking to me to provide all that info? I mean, 74.8 million folks' worth of recommendations is a lot of recs. I think I'm going to need your help.
And maybe a mimosa. Thank goodness I'm off to brunch with Firefighters of Station Five series author Jo Davis! Her new FS5 novel, "Under Fire " is hawt. But we'll be talkin' "When Alex Was Bad," her August erotic romance that's not only hawter, but has been optioned to Hollywood by none other than Academy Award-winning producer of "Crash," Cathy Schulman.
Later today, you can read an exclusive, adults-only excerpt from "When Alex Was Bad !"
Why do you think romance reading is on the rise?
ps: I've been taking lots of photos, but having a little trouble posting them! I'm really sorry and will definitely do a photo re-cap next week!