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April 27, 2006

Tina Adams wants to sell you something
Posted by Teresa at 03:14 PM * 137 comments

Many struggling writers believe there’s a magic secret that’ll smooth their path toward publication, fame, fortune, and universal respect. Some bird named Tina Adams is now saying she’ll sell it to them—assuming they’re trying to write romance:

They swear a “formula” does not exist, but I’m about to prove them wrong…

“I Wrote My Romance Novel In 3 Days! Want Me To Show You How…So You Can Do It Too?”

(Hey, Mike Resnick used to do that all that time … for certain values of “romance novel.”)

You know that joke about how the headline we never see is “Psychic Wins Lottery Again”? We also never see “Self-Appointed Writing Expert Pens Bestselling Book.”

Tina Adams is that inexplicable recurring phenomenon, the writing expert who has no perceptible expertise. She had a poetry collection called A Journey Unto Wisdom published on CD-ROM by DiskUs. It’s out of print. On her profile page at Amazon there’s a picture of a book titled How To Write A Romance Novel: A Line-By-Line No Nonsense Guide To Writing Romance Fiction, but Amazon’s own database doesn’t know the book exists. And her page at DiskUs says “She’s currently working on three romance fiction projects she hopes will soon see publication,” but it’s said that since July 2001.

This is not a writer, much less a writing expert. But not only does she have no expertise; she wants to charge you $200 for the expertise she doesn’t have:

Dear Frustrated Romance Writer:

My name is Tina Adams, and I’m the creator of THE MAGIC FORMULA. I am writing this letter because I know you are interested in learning exactly what it takes to write a romance novel and get it published, and I’ve created a home study course that teaches you exactly that, and more. I call it “The Magic Formula” because when you work through each section, completing the exercises at the end, your novel almost writes itself — like magic.

Why did I create this course?

Because when I was yet an unpublished romance author,

Note the sneaky implication that she isn’t still an unpublished romance author.

I desperately wanted…no, make that needed…a step-by-step guide that would lead me through the process of writing a romance novel. But it had to be simple and easy to understand. I had to be able to “get it”. But no one offered what I needed.

Undoubtedly true. That’s because it doesn’t exist. There are teeming hordes of aspiring romance writers out there. If it were possible to construct a workable dead-simple step-by-step system for writing romances, those teeming hordes would undoubtedly have it sussed by now.

I’m not going to make you read all her sales copy. I’ll summarize her story for you:

TA goes on a “how to write romances” book-buying spree. Takes writing courses. Attends workshops. Magic formula eludes her. Takes to the web, reads everything she can find about how to write. (Claim is obviously untrue. Someone who does that never finishes reading.) Still no magic formula. Desperate. Then one day it all just “clicks,” and she tries something different: she sits down and starts writing.

That certainly solves the mystery of why she hadn’t been getting any writing done. It’s kind of remarkable that it took her that long (twenty years, by her own admission) to figure that out. This is not someone you’d pay to give you advice.

She thinks otherwise:

THE MAGIC FORMULA Home Study Course - 100+ information-packed pages of pure romance writing how-to gold you won’t find anywhere else - 18 sections crammed with everything you need to know to plan, write, sell, and promote your romance novel

“The Magic Formula” Home Study Course is as close as you’ll get to a fill-in-the-blanks template that you can use, any time, for any romance novel you want to write, and have it actually WORK.

Introductory Offer

For the next 10-days ONLY, you can get “The Magic Formula” home study course for a mere $197, plus $12.95 shipping and handling. After that, the price will double every couple of months or so. Why? Because the competition is already incredibly fierce in this field.

As more aspiring romance writers get their hands on this information, more saleable romance manuscripts will reach the hands of editors who are in a position to publish them, and the competition will more than double. In order to help slow the inevitable, to help keep competition down, I’ll raise the price of this course.

But if you want it at this price, you have to act now. Why? Because…

There are ONLY 100 COPIES of the course available!

Yeah uh-huh sure. And Franklin Mint limited editions are sure to increase in value.

Do you find this story depressing? Don’t. You can’t afford to. There are too many other stories just like it.

Comments on Tina Adams wants to sell you something:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 05:52 PM:

Tina has, in fact, sold a romance novel, which she typed (or at least typed the 80-page outline to) in three days.

It's Redemption by Morgan Leshay, published by Let's Be Frank (LBF) Publishing.

#2 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 05:54 PM:

Magic formula? Hmm.

'Susan's womanly bosom heaved at the sight of Rick. His large, manly hands held a tennis racquet in a large, manly way. She could sense his manliness from twenty feet away. He glowed as he exercised. His large, manly feet moving swiftly and he hit the ball back over the net again and again. He seemed so much larger and more manly than his opponent, Chester, who held the racket tightly in his small, almost feminine hands.'

#3 ::: Anders ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 05:55 PM:

One needs only to look at the Google ads on any writing Web site to find dozens more "write your book in just one month/week/day/minute using techniques THEY don't want you to know" ads. Along, of course, with POD hawking.

#4 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 05:56 PM:

As more aspiring romance writers get their hands on this information, more saleable romance manuscripts will reach the hands of editors who are in a position to publish them, and the competition will more than double. In order to help slow the inevitable, to help keep competition down, I’ll raise the price of this course.

See, she's charging so much because she wants to help. Her astronomical price is her way of doing a personal favor for all the struggling wannabes out there.

What a gem.

#5 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 05:58 PM:

James Macdonald: She manages to avoid committing any crimes against grammar for three whole paragraphs. On the other hands, I've never heard of ghosts billowing before. I was rather under the impression that they couldn't fill with wind. Unlike, say, the authors of bad romance novels.

#6 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:04 PM:

There's an unclosed center tag in there...the whole blog is centered. I just thought I was getting dizzy at first...

#7 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:04 PM:

Test:

#8 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:04 PM:

Nope. Didn't work.

#9 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:05 PM:

I don't know where you are, Frangano, but around here ghosts billow all the darned time.

"What's that billowing over there, Fred?"

"Dunno, Charlie. Prob'ly 'nother ghost."

"That'd explain it, then."

#10 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:05 PM:

Hmm. There seems to be a missing format command somewhere uppost. Everything is centered.

A friend of mine had written a pretty fun historical mystery novel set in post-WWII NYC. At a certain point, it looked like he was going to lose his job and, being a gentleman of a certain age, he thought he might never get another.

He told me of his plan to publish his book through PublishAmerica, which he would use as a credit to teach a writing course at a local night school. I tried to dissuade him, but he was getting pretty scared, financially-speaking.

Luckily, he found a new job and a reputable agent for his book, so he took a better path. Still, if things hadn't worked out for him, he could have found himself as one of those people.

#11 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:06 PM:

By a minor coincidence, I saw a couple of reviews of how-to-write-a-novel software packages today, in the same British computer magazine.

The reviewer's enthusiasm was unusually muted for a review in a computer magazine.

#12 ::: Joy Rothke ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:06 PM:


The sound of his breathing seemed to magnify in the deafening silence and a chill chased its way up his spine. The urge to shiver grew nigh unbearable with each second that passed.

***************

Mr. Grigory bade him wait here, and Devlin had lighted only the single candle on the desk to cast the gloom from the room whilst he waited. The chamber, for the most part, remained cloaked in darkness.

http://www.morganleshay.com/latest.htm

#13 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:30 PM:

This is in the same class as Investment Experts who have made their money off of seminars and book sales.

Without the book sales, of course.

Well, perhaps not exactly the same class, as some of the investment experts have gone to jail for it.

#14 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:41 PM:

Formatting flub found, fixed.

#15 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:48 PM:

As Tina herself says, "The results mentioned on this site are not typical."

#16 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:51 PM:

James: I'm in Georgia. Fortunately, I wasn't drinking anything when I read your comment!

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:54 PM:

Eric: Here in Atlanta, recently, it's been hard to avoid ads proclaiming a seminar by Donald Trump on how to get rich. I'm thinking that Trump will begin 'First, pick rich parents.'

#18 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 07:15 PM:

I'm starting to think that perhaps I should get the current novella finished, shove it at my editor, and then spend the next couple of weeks knocking out "You too can be a gay erotic romance author!" The genre is starting to take off, so I could probably be onto a nice little earner there catering to all the people who think that they'd like to jump on that there bandwagon. :->

No, I've got *some* ethics...

#19 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 07:56 PM:

LOL Julia! When I was the message board manager for OMNI on AOL, I knew I could write an ET-on-earth-are-angels book and make a lot of money, but I do have scruples.

#20 ::: ksGreer ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 08:46 PM:

Wow, and I thought romance novels basically all consisted of just "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl dies in teeth of combine engine."

Oh, wait, damn it, that's teenage angst novels. Boy, this writing stuff is harder than it looks.

#21 ::: AliceB ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 08:51 PM:

What I find scary is her FAQ page. Question number 4:

"4) I’ve e-mailed a few of the authors mentioned in your advertisements and they say they have never met you and don’t endorse your program. Why is that?"

Tina's answer:

"The authors mentioned in my advertisement have all met me and spoken to me and some I have interviewed...along with a whole lot more not mentioned in the ad. The reason they say they have never met me is because a lot of them "met" me a long time ago in AOL's now defunct WCRG chat room, and I used a screen name that was not my own name. They do not endorse my program because they have never seen it, though I would be happy to send them a copy for a review/quote. Nor did I say (in my ad) that they had seen it, or that they endorsed the course in any way."

Yet the very first ad says:

"1) I wish I had Tina Adam's MAGIC FORMULA HOME STUDY COURSE when I was starting out! What a treasure trove! I had to study many 'how to' tomes to learn what she puts all in one course.

"2) Tina Adam's MAGIC FORMULA HOME STUDY COURSE is a must have for any beginning romance author - and a great find for veteran writers to brush up on their skills!

"3) MAGIC FORMULA HOME STUDY COURSE by Tina Adams belongs on every romance writers book shelf!

"4) A must have for any beginning romance writer!"

The other two "testimonials" are equally efuse, name the Magic Formula by name, and talk about the "program." I dunno, sounds a whole like "endorsement", even the phrasing makes it sound like they read the stuff. I wonder whether these authors will call her on it.

Best,
Alice


#22 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 09:01 PM:

"There are teeming hordes of aspiring romance writers out there. If it were possible to construct a workable dead-simple step-by-step system for writing romances, those teeming hordes would undoubtedly have it sussed by now."

I think they'll get it eventually...after which it will be valueless.

#23 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 10:43 PM:

Please, Joy Rothke, tell me that the words you gave are meant to be deliberate demonstrations of the depths to which bad writing can sink. Tell me, please tell me, that nobody, nobody was so lost to sense as to imagine that this is competent prose.

The... poor soul.

#24 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 11:23 PM:

If you write a romance in three days will you end up with Return to the Bridges of Madison County? Will it be worse than the original? Is that possible?

#25 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 11:32 PM:

Formatting flub found, fixed.

"Gosh," gushed Greg. "Great!"

#26 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 11:37 PM:

Formatting flub found, fixed.

"Gosh," gushed Greg. "Great!"

"Hooray!" howled happy Harry.

#27 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 11:49 PM:

>Then one day it all just “clicks,” and she tries something different: she sits down and starts writing.

I believe that she has given away the answer in her advertising, alas for her.

Or as I tell people interested in learning how to paint: "The rough part is actually painting."

Or as the punchline goes, "Practice."

There really isn't a magic genie answer.

#28 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 11:49 PM:

Dave Luckett -- you are gentle.

There are contests these folks could enter...

#29 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 12:35 AM:

And once that sure-fire romance-writing software has done its job and you have a couple hundred pages of heaving bosoms and manly whatevers, here's a post I wrote about another piece of sure-fire software that'll help you write sure-fire query letters:

Instant Query Letters

Marked down from something like $199 to $39 because the seller is sooo generous and just wants to help people. Yeah. Uh-huh.

#30 ::: Joy Rothke ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 12:45 AM:

Dave:

I sense you are feeling a well night unbearable need to shiver.

Theodric shook his head regretfully. A slight frown wrinkled his otherwise smooth forehead, and he sighed. “Perhaps ‘tis best you meet our lady, my lord,” he suggested.

Devlin simply stared at him, trying to assimilate all that had occurred in the last few minutes. Intrigued, despite his anger and incredulity at the audacious announcement the man had made, his thoughts spun.

#31 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 01:51 AM:

My thoughts would be spinning too if I had to wade through that prose for pages at a time.

Eighty pages in three days? Just think what she could have done if she'd taken four! *Shudders*

#32 ::: Falon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:22 AM:

AliceB:

From the disclaimer: "The authors who gave testimonials did so after evaluating the material for themselves."

Maybe the "authors who gave testimonials" (from the disclaimer) refers to the ones on the main page, and the "authors mentioned in my advertisement" (from the FAQ) refers to authors mentioned in a different advertisement. Especially since the FAQ mentions that the ad says "I'll show you how, so you can do it too", which is nowhere on the main page that I can find.

Of course, if she would just be specific about which advertisement she's talking about in the FAQ, there wouldn't be any confusion.

I'm trying to find the ad mentioned in the FAQ, but no luck so far. Maybe it was a print ad. I'd like to find out in what context she mentioned the authors' names, if not for endorsement purposes.

#33 ::: MaW ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:41 AM:

I'm sorry, but when I want to write a novel quickly I participate in National Novel Writing Month. The end result has been awful in all three years I've done it, but I did have a lot of fun.

Very funny. Slightly depressing, but also very funny. Less funny is the people who are destined to be taken in by this. To them I say: No! Stop! Think! The best way to write a good book is to sit down and write the thing!

Also the motivating example: even Harry Potter, the bestseller phenomenon of our time, was rejected by seven publishers.

But you intelligent readers all knew that anyway.

#34 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 07:18 AM:

Dave Luckett: Alas, she is that bad. Or worse. The 'billowing' ghost is white in one paragraph, and iridescent in a later paragraph.

And no cliché goes unused. In the 'about the author' blurb, she started reading romances at 'the tender age of nine'.

#35 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 08:52 AM:

Alas, as you look around you find this sort of stuff everywhere.

Take How to Write A Child Book in 30 Days or Less! by Caterina Christakos.

Caterina's webpage is in Scammer Format: narrow column centered on a yellow background. On it we learn that she's the author of three children's books, with three more on the way.

She lists two of the titles:
And Dreams Lost Along the Way (a 2000 release from FirstPublish, Inc. FirstPublish was a pay-to-play vanity POD based in Orlando, FL that is now, sadly, tragically, out of business), and If I Could Remember All the Dreams She Forgot (a book that doesn't seem to exist).


How to Write a Children's Book in 30 Days or Less: Stop Procrastinating and Start Writing Today is from Writer's Club Press (that is, iUniverse, a pay-to-play POD vanity). As is How to Completely Blow Your Competition Away at Any Audition: What casting directors wish you knew and your competition hopes you never find out!.

Since these are iUniverse books you can read them in full on-line for free, here and here. (If you want to skip ahead to the good stuff, it's here.)


She also writes articles.

Ms. Christakos appeared in a movie (probably hence her advice about auditions). Her IMBD.com Bio tells us that she's "a respected children's book author." The movie itself ... well. Let's just say that "Alone and Restless" never made it into wide release.

#36 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 09:10 AM:

While I, too, have the good-natured contempt for the romance novel that most people probably do, I gotta admit, my respect has increased after meeting a friend of mine, who writes Regency romances for a living (and who shall remain nameless since this could be taken as a slam on her fans, although it's not intended as such.) And the thing that keeps striking me is how much research goes into the things. I would not have guessed in a million years how much legwork she does on these books, to make sure the bodice being ripped is the right KIND of bodice, and the ravishing pirate hero is the appropriate type of ex-privateer from the appropriate nation during the appropriate war on the appropriate style of ship having kidnapped the appropriate sort of heroine being transported for the appropriate crimes. (Apparently the Regency was a helluva time, too. Who knew they had ether parties?)

The reason, though, didn't surprise me at all--apparently if you have the heroine peeling off her whalebone corset six months before the whalebone corset fashion was widely introduced, you get snarky letters from your fanbase about it.

Three days strikes me as just about enough time to make sure your heroine's costume is accurate to the period, right before the hero divests her of it.

#37 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 09:14 AM:

Writing a good, publishable novel of any kind is hard. No one here is saying that writing a romance is easier than any other kind of novel. Rather, we're mocking someone who says that you can knock one off in three days using a secret formula.

#38 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 09:18 AM:

Oh, no, I wasn't thinking it was a slam on romance writing in general! I was agreeing with you, three days is pure craziness.

#39 ::: AliceB ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 09:20 AM:

"Maybe the "authors who gave testimonials" (from the disclaimer) refers to the ones on the main page, and the "authors mentioned in my advertisement" (from the FAQ) refers to authors mentioned in a different advertisement."

I didn't think of that. It makes sense that she'd advertize elsewhere.

It is troubling, though, that she listed authors in her ads that she claims to have "met" when she obviously didn't. (I suppose I've "met" the folks on this comment thread, in the sense that I shared some itty-bitty internet space with them. But I certainly wouldn't be able to pick anyone out, even in an elevator with only one other person. And it'd be beyond the pale to use anyone's name to add varnish to a claim about anything I say here.)

Best,
Alice

#40 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 10:37 AM:

Margaret: Neil Gaiman's take is more concise, but says much the same thing. ;-)

> What advice would you give to writers?
Write. Finish things. -- Neil Gaiman

#41 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 12:46 PM:

Formatting flub found, fixed.

"Gosh," gushed Greg. "Great!"

"Hooray!" howled happy Harry.

"I'm irridescently illuminated," intimated Irene.

#42 ::: Alice Bentley ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 01:00 PM:

At the bookshop, we were *frequently* asked for advise on how to get published (even though none of us had written or published anything...). We told them there were only two important steps - other steps could be added but these two were the important ones.
1) Put the words on the paper.
2) Put the paper in the mail.

And most especially, don't tell me all about your new novel that you haven't written.

Alice Bentley (not the AliceB of previous comments, that's someone else)

#43 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 01:03 PM:

Formatting flub found, fixed.

"Gosh," gushed Greg. "Great!"

"Hooray!" howled happy Harry.

"I'm irridescently illuminated," intimated Irene.

"Joy!" joked Joe.

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 01:10 PM:

Wow, K is gonna be hard. *thinks*

#45 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 01:20 PM:

Think Yiddish.

#46 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 01:33 PM:

"Kewl!" keened Kate.

#47 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 01:36 PM:

Replace genre and author, and the letter becomes totally credible.

Dear Frustrated Thriller Writer:

My name is Dan Brown, and I’m the creator of THE MAGIC FORMULA.

#48 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 02:35 PM:

Formatting flub found, fixed.

"Gosh," gushed Greg. "Great!"

"Hooray!" howled happy Harry.

"I'm irridescently illuminated," intimated Irene.

"Joy!" joked Joe.

"Awesome action," asseverated Alasdair.

#49 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:03 PM:

Formatting flub found, fixed.

"Gosh," gushed Greg. "Great!"

"Hooray!" howled happy Harry.

"I'm irridescently illuminated," intimated Irene.

"Joy!" joked Joe.

"Kewl!" keened Kate.


"Lovely!" laughed Larry.

#50 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:07 PM:

"Marvelous memories," mused Moriarty meditatively.

#51 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:18 PM:

"Never." nattered Ned.

#52 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:19 PM:

Now I get it!! Brain slowing.

Formatting flub found, fixed.

"Gosh," gushed Greg. "Great!"

"Hooray!" howled happy Harry.

"I'm irridescently illuminated," intimated Irene.

"Joy!" joked Joe.

"Kingly!" keened Kester

"Lordly, lavish," lilted Leopold.

#53 ::: AliceB ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:20 PM:

"Awesome action," asseverated Alasdair.

"Beautiful," boasted Barry.

. . .

Formatting flub found, fixed.

"Gosh," gushed Greg. "Great!"

"Hooray!" howled happy Harry.

"I'm irridescently illuminated," intimated Irene.

"Joy!" joked Joe.

"Kewl!" keened Kate.

"Lovely!" laughed Larry.

"Marvelous memories," mused Moriarty meditatively.

"Never." nattered Ned.

#54 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:31 PM:

A few years ago I was playing music in a seedy dive bar in a dodgy part of town. During a break, I sat down at the bar and found myself next to a grandmotherly, suburban middle-class woman, looking terribly out of place among the old alkies, ironic hipsters, and rough trade that would hang out there. "Cheers," she said to me as she downed another shot of whiskey. "I'm celebrating. I quit my job today."

"What did you do?," I asked.

"I was a romance writer," she replied. "For Harlequin."

***

True story, I swear. We had a long talk about the soullessness of being a hack writer, and how now that her kids were out of school, she was moving to an old family cabin in Maine to write the novel she'd always wanted to. It occurs to me now that she was just leaving one kind of romance for another. I never saw her again.

#55 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:43 PM:

"Outrageous!" oathed Oswald openly.

#56 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:46 PM:

Cynthia Wood -- Eighty pages in three days? Just think what she could have done if she'd taken four! *Shudders*

A little self-editing, maybe?

#57 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:48 PM:

"Piffle!" pooh-poohed Pamela pugnaciously.

#58 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:49 PM:

"Rapscallion!" roared Roderick rudely.

#59 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:52 PM:

"Quitter," Quinn quipped quietly.

#60 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:52 PM:

"S-s-silly," stuttered Sandra, stumblingly.

#61 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:54 PM:

"Quoi?", Quentin quietly queried.

#62 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:54 PM:

"T'riffic," tittered Titania tidily.

#63 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:55 PM:

Rats, regarding rules re: refreshing.

#64 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:56 PM:

"Understood," ululated Ursula uncertainly.

#65 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:59 PM:

"Veni vidi vici," vowed Victor voraciously.

#66 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 04:08 PM:

"Wonderful," whinnied Wanda, wildly.

#67 ::: Shawn Bilodeau ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 04:15 PM:

"Awesome action," asseverated Alasdair.

"Beautiful," boasted Barry.

"Custom comment contest? Cool!" cited Cindy

. . .

#68 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 04:30 PM:

"Dandy," drawled Daryl dryly.

#69 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 04:36 PM:

"Excellent," ended Edgar.

#70 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 04:37 PM:

(Admittedly, Xavier, Yolanda, and Zorro still await someone to come up with the right lines.)

#71 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 04:40 PM:

"X-actly," x-ulted Xavier x-citedly.

#72 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 04:47 PM:

Um, 'Zounds!' zaid Zander ?

We seem to be short some z verbs ... where's that dictionary?
Zap ... doesn't sound right. Neither does zero or zest.
Zigzag? Zip?
Zonk - let's not go there.

#73 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 04:52 PM:

[Regency romances]
And the thing that keeps striking me is how much research goes into the things. I would not have guessed in a million years how much legwork she does on these books, to make sure the bodice being ripped is the right KIND of bodice, and the ravishing pirate hero is the appropriate type of ex-privateer from the appropriate nation during the appropriate war on the appropriate style of ship having kidnapped the appropriate sort of heroine being transported for the appropriate crimes. (Apparently the Regency was a helluva time, too. Who knew they had ether parties?)

So how come Regency authors almost invariably muck up the dance scenes? It makes them look like fools and makes me suspect that the other Research Raisins in the book are just so much nonsense studded on to make the author look like they actually do research. That's probably an injustice at times, but when the author is demonstrably careless and inaccurate, you can't really trust even the bits that look convincing.

(Not that I'm not grateful for the entertainment these scenes afford - another dance historian wrote a description of the ballroom scenes from a romance novel I shall leave nameless, and the joke among my friends is that if we made it a drinking game we'd be under the table after only one scene.)

(I should note that fantasy authors who shall remain nameless but write alternate-history-fantasy-Regency novels for three-letter publishers beginning with T suffer from the same problem, and I wish they would get a fact-checker for these things. Meow. And yes, this inspired a snarky letter on my part to one of our hosts.)

The reason, though, didn't surprise me at all--apparently if you have the heroine peeling off her whalebone corset six months before the whalebone corset fashion was widely introduced, you get snarky letters from your fanbase about it.

I'm trying to work out how that's a problem for Regency romances when whalebone corsetry was introduced at least as far back as the 1500s. FWIW, Regency (and earlier) corsets can be remarkably annoying to peel off. You can get MUCH better effects with Victorian ones - the front busk is absolutely key to the whole efficient-stripping thing.

Three days strikes me as just about enough time to make sure your heroine's costume is accurate to the period, right before the hero divests her of it.

What I used to like about Regency romances back in the early 1980s is that they relied on witty repartee rather than bedroom scenes. I found that a lot sexier than the pulsating-manhood school of romance novels.

#74 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 05:00 PM:

"Yowza!" yelped Yseult.

(taking the easy one? moi?)

#75 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 05:02 PM:

P J: "zinged," I think, would be the most representative z-verb of speech.

"Zany," zinged Zelda, zetetically.

#76 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 05:28 PM:

Wow. Go away for a couple of hours and the whole things played out.

#77 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 05:28 PM:

thing's*

#78 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 06:41 PM:

The romance writers haven't been too thrilled by this either.

Here, at Booksquare, you can see Tina in person pop in to defend her product.

Meanwhile, over at The Magic Formula, the FAQ (the one that said, essentially, that she made up the endorsements) and the disclaimer (Results Not Typical) seem to have been removed.

#79 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 10:06 PM:

Do you think that was in person? It sounded like a robot leaving a stock post to me. I would think a real person would be more irate and defensive. But maybe I'm thinking of a real person with a conscience, who wouldn't be conning people to start with.

#80 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 10:10 PM:

Meanwhile, does anyone know what to make of the role of the "book-packaging" company who helped Kaavya Viswanathan put together her now-ex-book, or has that already been covered in a different thread?

#81 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 10:40 PM:

*laugh* Sorry, Susan, you can tell I'm not the one researching these. Whalebone corsets was a random grab for a hypothetical example, not based on my intimate personal knowledge of Regency fashions.

But hey, my point obviously stands! You get these things wrong, and immediately somebody lets you know! Were I ever to attempt to write a Regency (which I will probably do before I scale Everest in a whalebone corset, but not much before) I'd research stuff like that in pure self-defense...

Out of curiousity, what do they generally do wrong with dancing? Dance history is entirely opaque to me, so as long as they're not doing the Electic Slide, I'd probably miss it...

#82 ::: Falon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 01:03 AM:
Here, at Booksquare, you can see Tina in person pop in to defend her product.

Meanwhile, over at The Magic Formula, the FAQ (the one that said, essentially, that she made up the endorsements) and the disclaimer (Results Not Typical) seem to have been removed.

It's like we're being watched. Eerie. (Well, less eerie considering she has a "statistics program" that apparently keeps up with links to her site, but still.) She could've done a better job responding to the criticisms of her novel-writing product rather than spend four paragraphs proving she exists and wrote a book; but as you pointed out, she took down the only section of her site that addressed such questions (the FAQ).

Julie L.: I had never even heard of a "book packager" before the Kaavya Viswanathan story (and if Tom Tomorrow's 26 April blog post guesses correctly, I suppose most other people hadn't either), so I really have no frame of reference for what they do and how many of them might resort to unethical actions. I wanted to believe Viswanathan when I saw her Today interview, but with that many similarities... I don't know. It does seem, though, like it's more than a simple case of an author stealing material. That's my completely unprofessional opinion, anyway.

Not to veer the conversation wholly off-course, but if anyone stumbles along this who knows anything about intellectual property rights/ copyright/ whatever is actually relevant here, as it relates to sites like MySpace, I've been wondering about section 6 of their TOS and its use of terms like "royalty-free, worldwide license". Because I was thinking of using my blog to post writing excerpts, but I'm not even going to do that if it means giving up rights to it.

Apologies if this random writing-related question is out of place, but you guys seemed to be the right people to ask.

#83 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 02:59 AM:

Falon: In many situations with wording like that, they just mean "we don't have to do anything special each time someone accesses your website on our servers." Can't say for the specific one. Haven't looked at it; not really legally educated enough to do much by looking at it. If it's worded as a non-exclusive license, they're not trying to home in on your ownership of the material.

Generally, Internet publication does take up first publication rights, but doesn't damage your copyright of the material.

#84 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 06:36 AM:

"Awesome action," asseverated Alasdair.
"Beautiful," boasted Barry.
"Custom comment contest? Cool!" cited Cindy
"Dandy," drawled Daryl dryly.
"Excellent," ended Edgar.
Formatting flub found, fixed.
"Gosh," gushed Greg. "Great!"
"Hooray!" howled happy Harry.
"I'm irridescently illuminated," intimated Irene.
"Joy!" joked Joe.
"Kewl!" keened Kate.
"Kingly!" keened Kester
"Lordly, lavish," lilted Leopold.
"Lovely!" laughed Larry.
"Marvelous memories," mused Moriarty meditatively.
"Never," nattered Ned.
"Outrageous!" oathed Oswald openly.
"Piffle!" pooh-poohed Pamela pugnaciously.
"Quitter," Quinn quipped quietly.
"Quoi?", Quentin quietly queried.
"Rapscallion!" roared Roderick rudely.
Rats, regarding rules re: refreshing.
"S-s-silly," stuttered Sandra, stumblingly.
"T'riffic," tittered Titania tidily.
"Understood," ululated Ursula uncertainly.
"Veni vidi vici," vowed Victor voraciously.
"Wonderful," whinnied Wanda, wildly.
"X-actly," x-ulted Xavier x-citedly.
"Yowza!" yelped Yseult.
"Zany," zinged Zelda, zetetically.

#85 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 06:39 AM:

It might not be appropriate for me to comment on Kaavya Viswanathan's packager just now.

#86 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 08:01 AM:

I'd be curious to know more about the role of packagers in general, actually, not just Alloy in particular. Do they just work in adult non-fic and YA and middlegrade series, or are they also working on adult tie-ins (or other adult series, for that matter)?

I knew what a book packager was before this -- I keep my ear to the ground on YA markets -- but knowing that they exist is pretty far away from knowing what they do.

#87 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 08:08 AM:

I hate toxic-wanna-be-published-writers who do their own bios in third person.
If I had a dime for every--scratch that: If I had a penny...

-=Jeff=-

#88 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 08:11 AM:

One of the articles linked from Tom Tomorrow's post has quite a bit more info about book packagers-- apparently in addition to urchins' books, they're the driving force behind the "Idiots' Guide to Foo" and similar serieses, as well as middlepersoning between publishers and printers etc. (in which last function I assume some sort of packager must work with Tor, hence TNH's reticence).

I'm still thinking, "Well dang, you mean that if my parents had shelled out $20k to groom my college applications process, *I* could've gotten into the Ivy League *and* turned my juvenilia into a $500k publishing contract?"

#89 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 09:36 AM:

Out of curiousity, what do they generally do wrong with dancing? Dance history is entirely opaque to me, so as long as they're not doing the Electic Slide, I'd probably miss it...

The most common error is to introduce dances that had not yet been invented or popularized. Getting through people's heads that people haven't been waltzing for thousands of years is surprisingly challenging. You even see SCA dance books with waltzes in them; that makes me want to beat my head - or their heads - against a wall.

I had a difficult experience when advising an episode of "Biography" a few years ago - they insisted on having a waltz. I pointed out that the waltz at that point was unknown in the English ballroom. They said "but what did couples do to whirl 'round the room romantically in each other arms?" I said "well, they didn't do that." The response was that they had to have done that, so please direct a waltz for them to film. I ground my teeth and reminded myself that a television credit was a useful thing and that no one who knew anything would actually see this thing.

Other common errors are getting the style details of a dance wrong (turning exuberant bounciness into stately processionals), dance cards before dance cards existed, and a lack of understanding of etiquette as it pertains to dancing. And authors should resist the temptation to mention country dances by name, since that makes the shallowness of their research obvious.

I've been told that I ought to write a romance novelist's guide to the Regency ballroom, but that I'd probably have to give it away on the net because no one would pay for it. I might get around to this eventually.

And now I'm off to the city to teach Regency dancing and Belle Epoque two-step instead of talk about it!

#90 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 09:40 AM:

Thanks for the summary, Teresa.

HP: I'm hurt. Xavier, indeed!

#91 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 09:42 AM:

Well, I don't know who did the writing, or which of said parties might be responsible for the plagiarism, but "signed a contract with a 17-year-old" is a concept that sets off my Miss Clavel-meter.

Re the admissions coach thing: if rich people want to spend more money on coaching than some people spend on four years of college, more power to them. We do, in fact, have a two-tiered educational system in this country. One tier is for people who want to teach and people who want to learn. The other tier awards doctorates to people who can't spell "potato". I suppose the admissions strategy involves taking in enough well-heeled examples of the latter to fund the education of the former.

(And no, I'm not claiming that being rich makes your kids stupid. I only note that those certain of their children's ability are unlikely to shell out umpty-K to a 3rd party rather than have the kid write his/her own application essay and think up his/her own answers to interview questions.)

#92 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 10:03 AM:

Hey, I learn something new every day! My vague mental notion of the waltz was "probably came after discovery of fire," but I had no idea it was so recent.

#93 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 10:20 AM:

Its introduction into the polite ballroom was as early as 1815, I believe, though it existed before that. It was considered very licentious.

#94 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 10:41 AM:

"So how come Regency authors almost invariably muck up the dance scenes?"

Because sometimes you think you've done all the research you need, because sometimes that one piece of reference material you needed to prevent the error wasn't there until too late, because sometimes all the research you can do isn't a substitute for actual hands-on doing the things you're writing about.

One of my own stories, about ten years ago, reworked the Good Samaritan Parable as a mystery story ("Yes, Virginia, there is Biblical fanfiction"). It involved a lot of research into the history and customs of Judea circa 6AD. But there was a point (and a deadline for the anthology) where I just had to cross my fingers and hope I wasn't writing something that would make me look foolish.

(Nobody ever called me out on the history or customs in the story. But it did turn out that I'd included an utterly boneheaded misuse of terminology that was TOTALLY OBVIOUS once someone pointed it out to me. *sigh* Would be nice to think that someday someone might actually want to publish a collection of my writing, so I could FIX that.)

#95 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 11:20 AM:

JKRichard: It has to be noted that the 'bio' concludes "When not otherwise engaged in generating new and exciting romance novel concepts she spends her time enjoying the sunrise and sunset with her husband."

That's just so precious. It makes me want to ask if her writing causes diabetes.

#96 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 12:05 PM:

Its introduction into the polite ballroom was as early as 1815, I believe, though it existed before that. It was considered very licentious.

A little earlier than that in England, maybe 20 years earlier in France (evidence is unclear). And of course it was licentious - you were touching something besides hands; it had been a good two centuries since that was last in style (the volta of the late 16th century). It was Regency-era dirty dancing and occasioned much fuss and some fabulous caricatures by Cruikshank and others. It took nearly three decades and the influence of the polkamania in the 1840s to really make it acceptable.

from a short story published in 1818:
"'Do not mistake me, however,' said he: 'I do not mean to say that I consider all young ladies who waltz as devoid of modesty, delicacy, or proper feeling; but I feel that I should wish my sister, or my mistress, or my wife, to have a sort of untaught aversion to the familiarity which waltzing induces. I would have her prize too highly, from self-respect, the sort of favour which a woman confers on a man with whom she waltzes, to be willing to bestow it on any one of her acquaintance. I would wish her to preserve her person unprofaned by a clasping arm, but that of privileged affection. For indeed, dear Miss Musgrave, if I saw even a woman whom I loved, borne along the circling waltz, as I see these young ladies now borne, I should be tempted to address her partner in the words of a noble poet--'What you touch you may take.'"

Even Byron found it too licentious for his tastes in 1813.

#97 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 12:21 PM:

[Belatedly] There's at least one other semi-handy Z verb: "Zany!" zipped Zoroaster. (Unzipping, however, is so very non-Regency.)

#98 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 12:35 PM:

but I feel that I should wish my sister, or my mistress, or my wife, to have a sort of untaught aversion to the familiarity which waltzing induces

It's good to be reminded every so often that we Gen Xers didn't invent irony.

#99 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 02:19 PM:

I note too that Ms. Adams has removed the note about how the usual advance for a romance novel is $3-5K from her web page.

I rather suspect that the advance she personally got from LBF for her romance was considerably lower.

#100 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 03:10 PM:

For indeed, dear Miss Musgrave, if I saw even a woman whom I loved, borne along the circling waltz . . .

"Ah, Watson. Once again we are brought news of the Musgrave Ritual. This will, I think, be a two-pipe and one-bitchin'-speedball problem."

#101 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 06:30 PM:

Susan, I would buy your book if you wrote it. Oh, and could you please expand on the point about naming country dances?

And I abase myself to Julie L. Her correct use of 'reticence' is balm to my soul after having seen it used as a synonym for 'reluctance' or perhaps 'hesitance' a half-dozen times. I recently saw 'nonplussed' used correctly, which also makes me happy.

#102 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 10:07 PM:

Susan, I too would be interested in your book, and I don't see why it mightn't be published as a slice-of-life; _How Dickens Bowed And Jane Austen Twirled_, etc.

#103 ::: Falon ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2006, 04:19 PM:

Posting this rather late, but...

A. J. Luxton: Thank you for the information. Lately I've noticed other people discussing that part of the MySpace TOS, but it seemed like a good idea to ask people who know more about that sort of thing than I do before overreacting.

#104 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2006, 11:04 PM:

Susan, I would buy your book if you wrote it. Oh, and could you please expand on the point about naming country dances?

[Here followeth deep geekery]

There are two problems with actually naming particular dances that you pick up in the modern English Country Dance community or elsewhere in a novel. The first is that the dances done in that community span 356 years, and very, very few of them that are popular today date to the Regency. Much of that community treats country dancing as one unified dance form that was unchanging for centuries; this is, um, deeply incorrect. Dance figures and tunes went in and out of style and figures changed choreographically as well.

So you'll probably get it wrong and thereby look careless unless you do the research to find a dance dated in the proper era. (Barbara Hambly lost points with me for naming a c1720 dance as occasional music in a novel set in the 1830s. Not as bad as using it as a dance, but still eyebrow-raising. And she usually does pretty well with dance scenes.)

The more serious problem is that as far as I can tell - and I am in a position to tell - country dances did not, for the most part, have names during that era. Tunes had names, and dancers and dancing-masters would set figures to those tunes, but the figures and tunes were mostly not tightly associated. I have, for example, seven different dances all set to "Juliana". Which is "Juliana"? None of them; "Juliana" is a piece of music.

If you read through Jane Austen's novels and letters, you will discover that she never names country dances. She says that she danced country dances or she led a country dance, but never any particular name. The one dance she names ("Boulanger" in P&P) is not a country dance. The idea that country dances all have names appears to be a post-Regency concept. So if you name a dance, you instantly demonstrate that you didn't figure out this utterly basic information about Regency era dancing.

There are a few Regency-era country dances that appear to have a long history of a single set of figures associated with a single tune (so that the figures took on the name of the tune), but I'm talking about half a dozen dances out of maybe 2,000 I have in my personal collection, which is a small fragment of the surviving dance manuals, which in turn are a small fragment of the ones published in the era. Naming one of those would be terribly clever, but only one of them is still extant nowadays among anyone but serious dance geeks. You could also be terribly clever by naming a tune and having a character ask what figures will be set to it or somesuch - my hypothetical how-to-write-the-Regency-ballroom book would be stuffed full of examples like that of how to make use of dance details in novels.

This is not information that's easily available unless you've been within range of one of the lectures I emit in little pedantic bursts wherever I go, but it could be deduced by a reasonably observant person from materials available on the internet or by spending some quality time in either the British Library or the library at the University of Glasgow, to name two that have substantial collections.

[geek mode off]

Susan, I too would be interested in your book, and I don't see why it mightn't be published as a slice-of-life; _How Dickens Bowed And Jane Austen Twirled_, etc.

Well, that's two copies. Maybe I should sell subscriptions like Regency dancing masters did. I did have one Regency romance author take classes from me and take little notes on everything I said as a way of doing her research, and I do answer research queries by email if they don't get too burdensome, but that's a rather inefficient way of educating the masses.

There is a rather cool book along these lines already, by the way, though it doesn't do much with Regency or go into the depth my pedantic little heart desires. It does have some luscious quotes, though! Beth Aldrich's From the Ballroom to Hell. It's fairly easy to find.

#105 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2006, 11:56 PM:

Susan, thank you for that background, that's very helpful! I do hope you write the book, (though perhaps you'd want to take longer than 3 days about it, unlike Tina Adams) and wouldn't the BAERS people and others want copies too? Publishing by subscription seems the appropriate way to do it, but one could always bow to modernity and go to Lulu or Cafepress.
Ever since I read about Georgette Heyer's personal research library, I have mourned the fact that it was split up after her death. What a resource it would have been if it could have been kept together!

#106 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:20 AM:

Susan, thank you for that information. I have no desire to write a Regency novel (though I am a Heyer fan, as all literate folk should be, she said haughtily) but I love geekery in almost all its manifestations (except the mathematical, because I can't understand it). A shared love of geekery is one of the delights of this particular blog community, I think. As is a shared love of Teresa's prose in whatever manifestation it arrives (particularly when it arrives in smackdown mode), a shared awe at James D. Macdonald's magisterial posts, an appreciation for absurdity, and a willingness to be outraged.

I didn't know Heyer's library was broken up after her death. Aaargh!

#107 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:30 AM:

Susan,

From sheer geekery, three sales. If available in sheets, one hand-bound and back to you in the style of the era of your choice.

Were there callers at these dances, as there are for modern Scottish country dances in all but the most expert company?

Lizzy L,

Add a delight in Mr Ford's poetry to that list.

#108 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 09:47 AM:

Susan, I'd buy one, and I can think of three more people who probably would. (I'm always delighted to meet another dance geek. We seem to be rarer than other sorts.)

#109 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 10:04 AM:

Susan, thank you for that background, that's very helpful! I do hope you write the book, (though perhaps you'd want to take longer than 3 days about it, unlike Tina Adams) and wouldn't the BAERS people and others want copies too?

At the rate I write, three years is more likely than three days. Alan Winston from BAERS would probably be interested; he and I correspond fairly often and I've taught a workshop for BAERS. But most people who do what BAERS does, which mostly is not actual dancing by Regency standards, are not particularly interested in being geeked at, especially if the geekery makes them realize they aren't as historical as they like to believe.

Publishing by subscription seems the appropriate way to do it, but one could always bow to modernity and go to Lulu or Cafepress.

I am fascinated by Diane Duane's current experiment in subscription novel-writing. (Fascinated enough to become a subscriber, even.) That sort of thing is easier if you have a Name and a Following, however.

Ever since I read about Georgette Heyer's personal research library, I have mourned the fact that it was split up after her death. What a resource it would have been if it could have been kept together!

I didn't know about this - tell me more? I originally read Heyer long before I started doing dance research, and I haven't reread much of it since, but when I have, it hasn't jumped out at me as error-ridden. Heyer was smart enough to put minimal detail in her ballroom scenes. Writers seem to get into trouble when they do very shallow dance "research" and then put in unnecessary details based on it - that's a recipe for errors. The moden social dance community is not without blame either - it often creates and perpetuates myths. Every time I see a modern English Country Dance group advertise that they are dancing "just like Jane Austen" I have a small intellectual seizure. That doesn't excuse writers who take that at face value and assume that they can do their research via watching modern dancing, however.

#110 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 10:41 AM:

Were there callers at these dances, as there are for modern Scottish country dances in all but the most expert company?

I assume someone will tell me if this gets too off-topic or dancegeeky for this blog or this thread, right? We could take it to email.

First: Scottish country dancing is the closest modern equivalent to what Regency-era dancing was like. If you want to capture how it feels to dance early-19thc style, go to SCD rather than ECD. The steps are extremely similar. (ECD fails from the start by not doing steps 90% of the time; not doing steps = not dancing, by Regency standards.)

Callers: Sort of. Public assemblies at least would have a master of ceremonies, whose role was to convey the wishes of the lady leading each dance to the musicians and to announce the dance. It's not clear to me whether they actually called out the figures verbally or whether the dancers picked them up from watching the first couple perform them, as is heavily suggested by surviving sources. The latter is practical with good dancers - I've experimented successfully with this, and I don't have dancers anything like as good as people who did this sort of thing from childhood would be. It certainly wouldn't be called for long, if at all.

Unlike modern SCD, you didn't have memorized sets of figures with names (see my previous post), so you couldn't just announce that you were dancing NameOfDance and have anyone know what to do. Instead, the first lady in the set would select the tune and the figures to go with it. At a public assembly, the ladies would be numbered (literally - little number-tags were attached to their gowns) with each lady in numerical order getting to lead a dance. A private ball would be more likely to do it on the basis of rank, and it's not clear whether such an event would have a master of ceremonies.

The figures could be chosen from one of the innumerable little pocket dance manuals that were published with titles like "Twenty-Five New Dances for the Year 1803" (which actually contained new tunes with sets of figures which were remarkably like all the other dance figures around) or they could be strung together on the spot if the lady was quick-witted enough. I do this periodically; it's not that difficult once you internalize the rules for how a dance is constructed, though we also have sources suggesting that ladies could and did flub it when their turn came, and that the other dancers in the set sometimes altered the figures on the fly (whether through incompetence or malice is open to debate; it would have been an insult to the lady who called the dance to do it deliberately.) It does take some modest skill to set figures that flow nicely rather than awkwardly.

(Random aside: one dancing master suggests that the first gentleman should make the selection of tune and figures on the grounds that the gentleman - of course - would consult the lady and be guided by her preferences, while if the choice is left to the lady, she would not consult the gentleman at all. This idea does not seem to have caught on.)

It's not clear to me whether the lady could or would ask the master of ceremonies to set figures for her, which would put him in more of a caller role, but we have published kvetching from dancing masters about the quality of the figures the ladies were choosing (too short and too simple, not as good as the dancers when they were young and walked to school uphill both ways in the snow, etc.) In my weirder moments, I have worked on rewriting the card game Fluxx into a Regency country dance creation game.

The Regency era was really the last gasp of the country dance as the dominant ballroom dance form. Midway through the decade (1810-1820, though people use the term "Regency" much more loosely), the quadrille came to the ballroom and Things Were Never The Same. And that would be a whole essay.

Susan, I'd buy one, and I can think of three more people who probably would. (I'm always delighted to meet another dance geek. We seem to be rarer than other sorts.)

Okay, that's seven.

TexAnne, what sort of dance geek are you, and are you also from Texas?

#111 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 10:56 AM:

In my weirder moments, I have worked on rewriting the card game Fluxx into a Regency country dance creation game.

Please, please do this. It can only improve the game.

Okay, that's seven.

Eight. I'm unlikely to write Regency romance any time soon, but I'm finding the dance discussion fascinating.

#112 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 11:00 AM:

Susan: yes, I'm a lifelong Texan. Dancegeekery...well. I started as a ballet and tap geek. (Embarrassing details of how obsessed I was available on request.) Then I discovered Baroque dance in grad school, which I believe to be one of the finest excuses for geekitude ever invented.

#113 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 11:19 AM:

Susan: Make it nine: I'm curious. (Information junkie, anyone?)

#114 ::: Mags ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:48 PM:

Coming out of lurk to say: Ten.

And I'll post a link to any sales site you care to name on my blog, where it will no doubt be fallen upon by ravenous hordes of Georgian/Regency fiction aficionados.

#115 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:19 PM:

Susan -- Make that n+1, partly out of general geekery, but also because I've run into some notionally similar problems in describing the historical conveying of movement-related information for processional routes on religious and civic occasions.

(And yes, I'm from Texas, too. What is this, some kind of trend?)

#116 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:49 PM:

Good quality geeking is always fun to read. I'll add my vote - and I have one or two places in mind where I could pimp it.

#117 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:33 PM:

Scottish country dancing is the closest modern equivalent to what Regency-era dancing was like...ECD fails from the start by not doing steps 90% of the time; not doing steps = not dancing, by Regency standards.

Susan, you don't go to the same Scottish country dances I do. We pretty much count our blessings if the right person, the right gender of person, or in extreme cases, anyone at all is in the place where they are needed.

I suspect this is the product of going to ceilidhs in Scotland itself, where the general populace remembers 3.5* country dances from high school. The price of a living tradition is, as always, that it sinks to the lowest common denominator.

On the other hand, it's hilarious fun.

* the Gay Gordons, Strip the Willow, the Dashing White Sergeant, and some of the Eightsome Reel.

#118 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:35 PM:

Falon inquired:
I've been wondering about section 6 of [the MySpace.com] TOS and its use of terms like "royalty-free, worldwide license". Because I was thinking of using my blog to post writing excerpts, but I'm not even going to do that if it means giving up rights to it.

As is traditional, IANAL, but I read this to say "we can do anything we like with anything you post, until such time as (1) you delete the post and (2) we get rid of our backup copy. In addition, we can sell all these rights to anyone else, too, who can then do anything they like with your post."

For example, it looks to me like they could take your posted work and include it in a "Best Writing from MySpace" book, and as long as they did so while the post was up, they'd be legally allowed to. (And that "we keep rights to the backup copies" clause probably allows them to keep publishing the book even if you delete what you've written.)

Me, I wouldn't go near it.


A. J. Luxton commented:
In many situations with wording like that, they just mean "we don't have to do anything special each time someone accesses your website on our servers." Can't say for the specific one. Haven't looked at it[.]

I doubt that that's what's going on here. MySpace explicltly lists far too many rights to be merely insuring that access to user-posted files on the server is legal. While having the right to copy the post might reasonably be needed, I can't imagine that having the right of public performance or of translation--which are specifically named in the terms of service--would be necessary for anything but ways that MySpace could make money off its users' work.

#119 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 08:20 PM:

And over on rasfc, Susan Graham (one of the bad agents listed on Predators and Editors) has advertised her service. When questioned, she ducks.

#120 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 11:22 PM:

The Private World of Georgette Heyer, by Jane Aiken Hodge, is where I read about Heyer's research library. Her real passion was the Middle Ages, but unfortunately she didn't write nearly as well about what she called 'armour' as she did about the Regency (using the time period loosely) or even Elizabethan. I've read all of her Regencies at least twice, and have yet to be able to get half-way into My Lord John.
Anyway, the perks of being one of the first to be interested in the time, and being in England, she was able to buy private papers, letters and diaries, runs of Belle Assemblee, guidebooks, newspapers and so on, as well as the occasional less ephemeral thing. She kept notebooks in which she sketched carriages and hats, noted dates of interest and jotted down useful expressions and slang. You probably know that she had an exhaustive knowledge of the battle of Waterloo, and much of that was gained from diaries and letters of the time.
Her notebooks have been preserved, I believe, but the sources for the information in them are scattered. And since the notes were made for herself and no-one else, she didn't usually cite her source beyond the date. I think it was the phrase 'enact a Cheltenham tragedy' that she was once asked about, and could remember that she had only seen it once, in someone's personal correspondence, so she didn't know the origin.

And of course, most Regency writers since have used her books for their research, rather than going to any primary sources.

#121 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 11:55 PM:

Susan,
I am not a dance geek, yet I would be interested in your potential book/subcription.

Perhaps you could begin blogging it, chunk by chunk, to lay out the whole book sub-chapter by sub-chapter? The infrastructure for doing so (free blogging software and paypal donations) is pretty well established nowadays, and the business model seems to work well for webcomics types. Though they often sell t-shirts and mugs as well. What would a Regency dance themed t-shirt say, do you suppose?*

-r.
*The mind boggles!

#122 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:29 AM:

Group response to all the substantial things here.

[Me] In my weirder moments, I have worked on rewriting the card game Fluxx into a Regency country dance creation game.

[JC} Please, please do this. It can only improve the game.

I'd be using the game mechanics 'cause I like them, so if this implies that you don't, you probably wouldn't care for my rewrite.

[TexAnne]: Dancegeekery...well. I started as a ballet and tap geek. (Embarrassing details of how obsessed I was available on request.)

Oh, please, consider this a request!

Then I discovered Baroque dance in grad school, which I believe to be one of the finest excuses for geekitude ever invented.

Feuillet fan? I don't do a lot with baroque dance because my focus is on social dancing and baroque is more theatrical than social by today's standards. A ball where most people watched for hours while one couple at a time performed minuets would not be a roaring success nowadays!

I do have a semi-ongoing project of reconstructing a set of minuets from 1711 that seem to have been written as recital dances for a girls' school - they're for groups of three or more dancers, all female. I'm always fascinated by complex floor patterns.

[joann] ...I've run into some notionally similar problems in describing the historical conveying of movement-related information for processional routes on religious and civic occasions.

Now that's a nifty topic. Have you read Lynn Matluck Brooks' book, The Dances of the Processions of Seville in Spain's Golden Age, which has been on my bookshelf unread for about a year?

(And yes, I'm from Texas, too. What is this, some kind of trend?)

I'm a Texan for values of Texan that don't actually include being born there or currently living there, but I spent eleven formative years there between the ages of 2 and 13 which have marked me for life.

[abi]: Susan, you don't go to the same Scottish country dances I do. We pretty much count our blessings if the right person, the right gender of person, or in extreme cases, anyone at all is in the place where they are needed. I suspect this is the product of going to ceilidhs in Scotland itself, where the general populace remembers 3.5* country dances from high school. The price of a living tradition is, as always, that it sinks to the lowest common denominator.

Too true. I should have been more specific: by SCD I was referring to the standardized form propagated by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society over the last 75 years or so rather than community dance in modern Scotland. I should've said RSCDS. It's an artificial creation/revival rather than a continuous living tradition.

[Barbara Gordon]: Anyway, the perks of being one of the first to be interested in the time, and being in England, she was able to buy private papers, letters and diaries, runs of Belle Assemblee, guidebooks, newspapers and so on, as well as the occasional less ephemeral thing. She kept notebooks in which she sketched carriages and hats, noted dates of interest and jotted down useful expressions and slang. You probably know that she had an exhaustive knowledge of the battle of Waterloo, and much of that was gained from diaries and letters of the time. Her notebooks have been preserved, I believe, but the sources for the information in them are scattered.

That is indeed just criminally awful. Sigh. Quite a few periodicals are now available online if you have a university that subscribes to the service, and I've found wonderful things in them; it's going to take me years to work through them. My dance partner has some original fashion magazines she's found at estate sales and such. But large collections of ephemera are invaluable and to break one up....sigh.

One of my favorite little sources is a few letters from 1805 that I got from a very nice little library in some small town in Scotland whose name escapes me at the moment, but whose librarian was quite startled to find an American on the other end of his phone asking him to make photocopies. They describe the dances that were taught by a dancing master on particular evenings and even have a few tips on figures. That sort of thing is a wonderful confirmation of the more professional works by dancing masters, who have an understandable tendency to describe dancing as they think it ought to be.

And since the notes were made for herself and no-one else, she didn't usually cite her source beyond the date. I think it was the phrase 'enact a Cheltenham tragedy' that she was once asked about, and could remember that she had only seen it once, in someone's personal correspondence, so she didn't know the origin.

That, however, is a careless way to do research, just sayin'.

And of course, most Regency writers since have used her books for their research, rather than going to any primary sources.

I hate to say it, but they could do worse.


#123 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 01:18 AM:

Group response to warm fuzzies about hypothetical book here.

Eight
Nine
Ten
...etc.

Okay, there's some market, got it. Your email addresses are being stored for future marketing.

[Mags]: And I'll post a link to any sales site you care to name on my blog, where it will no doubt be fallen upon by ravenous hordes of Georgian/Regency fiction aficionados.

Thank you, and your blog is most interesting!

[Julia Jones]: I have one or two places in mind where I could pimp it.

I'm sort of curious about where those would be.

[rhandir]: Perhaps you could begin blogging it, chunk by chunk, to lay out the whole book sub-chapter by sub-chapter? The infrastructure for doing so (free blogging software and paypal donations) is pretty well established nowadays, and the business model seems to work well for webcomics types.

Could you point me at some sample webcomics using this model?

I've been cheerfully distracted all day by the thought of making this book real and the logistics of actually doing so. I'm also torn (as always) between the academic and the popular - it could be done as a scholarly volume or as a much less reverent how-to guide. I wonder if the latter would wreck my chances of ever getting into a respectable PhD program.

Either way, we're not talking a 20-page booklet here (I have that already). If I'm going to create a monumentally geeky and unsalable (to a commercial publisher) book, I have the mad impulse to throw in not merely the kitchen sink but the entire aisle at Home Depot. That would include not only exciting subtopics like "The Mescolanze and Other Choreographic Miscegenation" and "The Secret History of Rights and Lefts" but a ton of quotes, an index of tune names and perhaps a nice crunchy database of choreographic patterns, and, ideally, period illustrations, which would involve the tedious process of tracing where each original is (in cases where I have an nth generation photocopy from a string of barters with other researchers, this isn't always obvious) and getting permission. Making all this interesting to the layman as well as useful to the romance novelist will be quite the trick, but part of the enticement for me is the chance to effectively write a dissertation that sums up Everything I Know on the topic.

(Aside on copyright: it drives me batty when libraries assert a copyright on 200-year-old material. Unfortunately they have the Big Stick of being able to block my research if I don't go along with this blatant rights-grab.)

Anyway, I was looking around at various POD/self-publishing options (and studying the current Particle to remind me not to get vanity plates that say PUBLISHED or otherwise turn into a blithering idiot). Lulu.com seems to be fairly respectable (Diane Duane is planning to use them for The Big Meow when it's finished) and it actually can provide an ISBN. Does anyone know anything good or bad about Lulu or have any other recommendations for self-publishing?

This isn't incompatible with a subscriber approach or blogging it, provided the subscribers don't mind watching parts of it evolve in real-time. (The one real advantage I can think of with a purely web publication vs. printed is that my knowledge continues to grow, and five years from now, I might have to rewrite the whole thing to reflect new research. This is why I have a perennial problem writing up my research - it's never finished!) I could certainly put up a password-protected website to host it. I would have no clear idea what to charge, though, since I honestly have no idea how large the thing would be when finished.

Further advice from the extremely well-informed folks on this blog re. self-publishing models for nonfiction would be deeply appreciated, if that isn't inappropriate; if it is, I would be happy to take this to private email. I really appreciate the encouragement and suggestions I've gotten so far.

Though they often sell t-shirts and mugs as well. What would a Regency dance themed t-shirt say, do you suppose?*

I've joked for years about making a t-shirt that says "Real Regency dancers don't turn single", but that may be too obscure. "The felicities of rapid motion" perhaps? There are plenty of amusing quotes about waltz, of course, and dancing masters had some choice language for dancers and for each other. I expect one could find any number of things.

#124 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 07:43 AM:

Susan: You don't already have a PhD? You sure sound like an up-and-coming academic hotshot! If your scholarly writing is as informed and passionate as what you've been saying here, I wouldn't worry about your getting into a good grad program.

And the embarrassing details of my childhood obsession involve things like knowing who was in the original Pas de Quatre, who subbed for Elssler and why, and who took which part in the recreation. This later paid off in grad school, when I did my Nineteenth-Century Women term paper on the development of the Romantic ballerina. (I got a B because I refused to agree that pointe work developed because the male spectators had foot fetishes.)

#125 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 09:56 AM:

Susan wrote:

Could you point me at some sample webcomics using this model?
[piecemeal publication]
Well, I may have oversold it. Everyone does something slightly different, and none of the following examples use a strict donation model. (There is one webcomics artist I know of who challenged his fans to pay him a year's salary so he could stop worrying about it and just produce regularly. They did, and he did. Remarkable, but I don't recall his name.) All of these people do support themselves* via these business models, and all of these people have been doing this for 2-7 years.

Megatokyo: Fred Gallagher update 2-3 pages a week for free. New trade paperbacks published quasi-annually through Dark Horse and CMX, sold through normal distribution channels. Also sells T-shirts, mugs, posters, via self-managed store website. (Used to be handled by ThinkGeek) Will not take donations. Sells advertising space in two flavors: sponsored and a single banner at the top. The big enchliada: He who has made it big, and is envied by many.

Alpha-Shade: The Brudlos Brothers update 1-2 pages (full color) a week for free, and does a biweekly-ish podcast instead of an ongoing blog. One full-color book released, self-published they do all the order fulfillment/shipping/handling themselves. Also sell t-shirts, a podcast compilation, posters via their own store, uses papal for the purchasing infrastructure.

Girl Genius: Kaja and Phil Folgio update 6 pages a week(!) (full color!!!) for free, do the occasional radio show, and self-publishes (hardcover!) collections, which are carried by one of the major comics distributors. Takes Paypal donations (in return, you get access to a bit of additional artwork per donation), and run their own store, featuring posters, buttons, etc. Formerly used Cafe Press.

Scott McCloud: Assorted online webcomics projects, and daily blog. Uses bitpass micropayment system for finished projects: 25 cents for part two of one of his recent stories for instance. Site says: Re-read it up to 16 times for 300 days or just download a copy to your disk. Previews available for the first few panels. Also has two very popular books out on the nature of comics, sold through normal distribution channels. (He's an acknowleged authority.) Original art, and prints sold through his online store, as well as Amazon afilliate links for his books.

Real Life Comics: Greg Dean does 4-panel full color humor, updated M-F, free. Paypal donations, advertising, appropriate affilliate links. Has (self?) published the collected first year, which is available through Amazon. Donating to "The Real Life Support Group" enrolls you for a month, entitling you to assorted rewards, access to which is managed via the forum software. (I can't find the specifics on the rewards right now.)

The only blogging example I know of is Daring Fireball: Mac Nerdery, Etc. He gives fulltext rss feeds to "supporters", in addition to other benefits. (Not sure which.) Please, I implore you, do not think of this as paying $20 just to get a full-content RSS feed. Think of it as a small token of my gratitude for supporting my writing at this site. It’s like when you pledge $100 to PBS and they send you a tote bag; no one does it to get the tote bag.

'Whew! There's more, but you get the idea. Note that you can find all of these by typing the name into Google and hitting "I'm feeling lucky."
-r.

*okay, Joe Brudlos (Alpha-Shade's writer) still has his day job, and Greg Dean is going to culinary school.

#126 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 10:09 AM:

Susan wrote,
I've been cheerfully distracted all day by the thought of making this book real and the logistics of actually doing so. I'm also torn (as always) between the academic and the popular - it could be done as a scholarly volume or as a much less reverent how-to guide. I wonder if the latter would wreck my chances of ever getting into a respectable PhD program.
It's always better to get started on your PhD at the beginning of your career instead of at the end. Skip the book and get the PhD. We'll wait. Alternatively, do both.

Either way, we're not talking a 20-page booklet here (I have that already). If I'm going to create a monumentally geeky and unsalable (to a commercial publisher) book, I have the mad impulse to throw in not merely the kitchen sink but the entire aisle at Home Depot.
Given the length of the Fanfiction thread for instance, I think you might be able to fit the entire plumbing department in a blog more easily than between two covers.

That would include not only exciting subtopics like "The Mescolanze and Other Choreographic Miscegenation" and "The Secret History of Rights and Lefts" but a ton of quotes, an index of tune names and perhaps a nice crunchy database of choreographic patterns...
You are describing a life's work, I think. (Thus why I'm cheering on the PhD!)

Making all this interesting to the layman as well as useful to the romance novelist will be quite the trick, but part of the enticement for me is the chance to effectively write a dissertation that sums up Everything I Know on the topic.
Which is why I'm cheering on the blog idea too: you don't have to cut things for length.

(Aside on copyright: it drives me batty when libraries assert a copyright on 200-year-old material. Unfortunately they have the Big Stick of being able to block my research if I don't go along with this blatant rights-grab.)
Good heavens! I had not heard of such a thing! (Except about art reproduction companies/museums, who cheerfully copyright print-quality photographs of famous 15th century artwork. If you want to use a good quality reproduction in your book/magazine/etc, they want to charge you for it...and get the little (c) notice too. Bah. They are of questionable parentage!)
-r.

#127 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:45 PM:

Just for the marketing data-point: I dance very little, so it's pure research-geekitude on my part.
When I read in an interview of Susanna Clarke that she had paused in writing one character putting a table-knife to another character's throat, and thought of buying a book on Georgian tableware, I was immensely relieved to discover that I wasn't the only person who did such things, and that it didn't mean I was very sad indeed (at least, not on that count).

#128 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:32 PM:

Susan: I used Lulu for a volume of family history that I compiled last year and was very happy with the results. My brother was so impressed with the physical quality and the pricing that he's investigating the possibility of using Lulu for his deapartment's academic publications.

--Mary Aileen

#129 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 04:27 PM:

Susan: Yes with the Flux. Yes yes yes. I love a good Flux "expansion deck". I recall being far, far too amused by some homemade cards being used a couple World Fantasy Cons ago when I came across and joined a game being played in the lobby... All I remember now is one of the goal cards being "Golden Apples of the Sun" and you needed the rocket and the sun card to win.

rhandir: The author who challenged his fans to donate a year's salary? You're thinking of R. K. Milholland and Something Positivee

#130 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 04:47 PM:

TexAnne :And the embarrassing details of my childhood obsession involve things like knowing who was in the original Pas de Quatre, who subbed for Elssler and why, and who took which part in the recreation.

You, too! I had such a lock on _Ballet for Beginners_ for about six months that no one elde could check it out from the school library. But I can't dance for toffee. (All I can remember now about the Pas de Quatre is Taglioni and Elssler, and I never forgave Taglioni after I discovered it was she who was responsible for the, er, remuddling, of the Ca' d'Oro in Venice.)

This later paid off in grad school, when I did my Nineteenth-Century Women term paper on the development of the Romantic ballerina. (I got a B because I refused to agree that pointe work developed because the male spectators had foot
fetishes.)

You shock me.

#131 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 04:50 PM:

Susan: [joann] ...I've run into some notionally similar problems in describing the historical conveying of movement-related information for processional routes on religious and civic occasions.

Now that's a nifty topic. Have you read Lynn Matluck Brooks' book, The Dances of the Processions of Seville in Spain's Golden Age, which has been on my bookshelf unread for about a year?

That I have not! Thanks for the reference.

#132 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 06:00 PM:

Just for the marketing data-point: I dance very little, so it's pure research-geekitude on my part.
When I read in an interview of Susanna Clarke that she had paused in writing one character putting a table-knife to another character's throat, and thought of buying a book on Georgian tableware, I was immensely relieved to discover that I wasn't the only person who did such things, and that it didn't mean I was very sad indeed (at least, not on that count).

(looking ruefully at her book on 19thc tableware)

Um, no, you're not.

#133 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 06:07 PM:

TexAnne writes:
You don't already have a PhD? You sure sound like an up-and-coming academic hotshot! If your scholarly writing is as informed and passionate as what you've been saying here, I wouldn't worry about your getting into a good grad program.

There are a few problems with the grad program thing, starting with my desire for a PhD program in social dance history, which does not actually seem to exist anywhere (which means I need a program that will let me sneak that in under some other major), and not ending with my total financial inability to quit my job and go back to school. The best bet at the moment, believe it or not, seems to be my university's Italian department. But I can do nothing about it in the next several years.

At any rate, I'm mostly self-taught, with occasional helpful guidance from a couple of other scholars (often taking the form of thumping a thousand pages of dance manuals down in front of me and telling me to figure it out for myself.)

And the embarrassing details of my childhood obsession involve things like knowing who was in the original Pas de Quatre

I am only vaguely familiar with the Pas de Quatre in its original ballet context. Did you know that the music was liberated and attached to the schottische, a popular 19thc social dance? British dancing manuals of the late 19thc/early 20thc sometimes call it the Pas de Quatre after the music. (The poor schottische had a real problem with tunes clamping on and renaming it.)

#134 ::: Elle ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2010, 11:17 PM:

I actually know this woman. She doesn't have a lick of sense or an original idea in her. A really good friend of mine used to consider her an online friend, until she tried to scam her several times.

She also kept stealing ideas from my friend and many others. I can almost guarantee that her Magic Formula site is likely a near copy of someone else's site. She changes just enough to not get busted, but never has an idea of her own. Since she doesn't have unique ideas, she isn't successful. You can only ride so far on someone else's ideas. Glad to see this site is now down, so she can't rip people off.

She also called her husband Bubba. Just sayin'.

#135 ::: Benjamin Wolfe sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:29 AM:

Absolutely transparent spam

#136 ::: Cadbury Moose spots linkspam @ #136 ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 05:38 PM:

Gnome cleanup crew when you're ready, please.

#137 ::: Xopher Halftongue sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 05:39 PM:

Though I also enjoy reading through yyour article post.

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