Tuesday, August 31, 2010

At the Riskies

Today at Risky Regencies, Judith James is our visitor! I LOVED her book Libertine's Kiss and am so excited she's giving away a copy there...

Sunday, August 29, 2010


The winner of a copy of Improper Ladies is...Snow White! Please email me your snail mail address at Amccabe7551 AT yahoo.com

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Heroine of the Weekend

(I'll be choosing a winner of the copy of Improper Ladies tonight, so there's still time to enter!)

Happy weekend, everyone! Even though the weather here stays hot almost all through September, it feels like summer is drawing to a close with this last weekend in August. I'm off to the farmer's market in a few minutes to buy some tomatoes and peaches for tonight's dinner, but first this weekend's Heroine.

When I was a baby, my mother received shower gifts of many, many books (an omen, maybe?). One of them was from my grandmother, an alphabet book called A is for Annabelle, where each letter stood for some item in the doll Annabelle's extensive wardrobe (seriously, this was one fashionista of a doll!). Once I was old enough to look at it for myself I was enthralled by the beautiful illustrations and always begged for a doll just like Annabelle for Christmas, though I never got one. The author was Tasha Tudor, and I also had many other books by her on my childhood shelf. She was born on this day in 1915, and in honor of the many hours of enjoyment she gave me as a child she's featured here this weekend.

She was born in Boston and originally named after her father, naval architect Starling Burgess. But her name was soon changed to Natasha (shortened to Tasha) because her father was a big fan of War and Peace, and her mother's maiden name was Tudor (her mother was the artist Rosamund Tudor). She grew up surrounded by a sophisticated, learned environment, and in 1938 married Thomas McCready and moved with him to a large old farm in New Hampshire, where their four children were born. Her first book, Pumpkin Moonshine, written for a young niece of her husband, was published in 1938, starting a long career of almost 100 books (the last published in 2003). (She was divorced in 1961, and she and all her children changed their name legally to Tudor. A second marriage was very brief). She lived the rest of her life on a farm in Vermont, with an old-fashioned lifestyle and lots of family business concerns.

Her books, which "feature simple, captivating and often rhyming text accompanied by enchanting detailed and realistic drawings with soft colors," received Caldecott Awards and a Regina Medal in 1971. She also illustrated beautiful Christmas cards, Valentines, prints, calendars, and many other items. She also toured the country for many years giving lectures and workshops; her last appearance was at an exhibit in Williamsburg in 1997 where many of her personal and dollhouse items were on display along with the manuscript and original illustrations for her most famous book, Corgiville Fair. She died June 18, 2008 at her home in Vermont, leaving family contention (and a gorgeous body of work) behind her. For more information, see the Tasha Tudor and Family website

A couple sources:
Harry Davis, The Art of Tasha Tudor (2000)
William John and Priscilla Hare, Tasha Tudor, The Direction of Her Dreams (1998)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Release--And Contest!

So, yesterday I got a big box full of new author copies of my September release! Improper Ladies is the latest two-in-one release of a couple of my old Signet Regencies. (The Golden Feather, a Bookseller's Best Award winner, and The Rules of Love, a RITA nominee!)

I'm giving away a signed copy this week. Just let me know in the comments what your favorite Regency story is (can be a trad, a historical, paranormal, classic, whatever you like) and I will randomly select a winner this weekend....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Heroine of the Weekend

August seems to be shaping up as the Month of Musical Heroines! Today we look at Lili Boulanger (Marie-Juliette Olga Lili Boulanger), born on August 21, 1893.

Lili was a child prodigy, born in Paris to a very musical fmaily--her older sister Nadia became a composer and composition teacher, her mother Raissa Myshetskaya was a Russian noblewoman who married her Paris Conservatoire teacher Ernest Boulanger (who was 77 when Lili was born, and died in 1899), and her grandparents were cellists and singers. Lili started going with her sister to classes at the Conservatoire when she was only 5, sitting in on music theory lectures and learning the play the organ as well as singing, piano, violin, cello, and harp (was there an instrument she couldn't play???). She was encouraged by her family and their circle of musical friends (including Faure), and at only age 19, in 1912, she competed in the prestigious Prix de Rome (though had to withdraw early because of illness).

The next year she went on to win the Prix de Rome for her composition titled Faust et Helene, becoming the very first female composer to win. She was noted for the "colorful harmony and instrumentation and skillful text setting" of her compositions, which often center on themes of grief and loss. She is considered a great influence on many composers even today.

But her life was interrupted by chronic illness, starting at only the age of 2 with bronchial pneumonia that weakened her system, and intestinal tuberculosis (now called Crohn's Disease) that led to her tragic early death. She didn't let it get in the way of her passion for travel, as she lived in Italy for long periods of time. World War I forced her home to France, where she and Nadia organized efforts to nurse and support soldiers as they returned from battle. She also used this time to finish works previously abandoned and complete some of her most famous pieces, including the beautifully sad Pie Jesu and the opera La princesse Maleine, which remained unfinished.

Lili died at the age of 24 on March 15, 1918 and was buried at the Cimitiere de Montmartre in Paris (her sister was buried next to her when she died in 1979).

The one biography I have of her life is The Life and Works of Lili Boulanger by Leonie Rosentiel. The Boulanger Foundation can be found here, with lots of info on both sisters' lives and work.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Portrait Friday

Sir Thomas Lawrence, Elizabeth Farren later Countess of Derby, 1790

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What I'm Reading Today

It's been a while since I've really found myself immersed in a romance novel (I usually don't read historicals while I'm working on a book of my own--too hard on my ego!), but this one is GORGEOUS. I haven't been able to put it down

(there's a great review here at All About Romance, which perfectly reflects my own views on the book...)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

19th Amendment

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote! (more info can be found here). It's astounding to me that this terrible injustice was only corrected within my own grandmother's lifetime (even if she was an infant at the time). It helps me remember never to take rights for granted...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Over at the Riskies today, talking about historical reality stars and revealing new covers! (Regency Christmas Proposals--what do you think of it??)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Heroine of the Weekend

This weekend's Heroine is English author Letitia Landon, born on August 14 in 1802! Though she was well-known in her time, she's unfairly overlooked today....

Landon was born in London to John and Catherine Landon, and was soon found to be a most precocious child who learned to read as a toddler. At age 5 she was sent to Mrs. Rowden's School, whose other attendees included Caroline Lamb and Mary Russell Mitford, but after 1809 her family moved to the country and she was taught at home by her mother and her cousin Elizabeth (who, though older, soon found herself outdone in learning by her pupil!). In 1815 the family moved back to London when her father's model farm failed, and the family became friends with William Jerdan who was editor of the Literary Gazette. He encouraged Letitia's writing, and her first poem was published in the Gazette when she was 18 (under the initial "L").

The next year she published a volume of poetry, The Fate of Adelaide, under her real name. It sold well, though the critics were not as kind, and Letitia never got much money since the publisher soon after went out of business. But she went on to publish poems in the Gazette and other magazines using the initials "LEL", which attracted a great deal of speculation and even fame. Edward Bulwer Lytton later wrote that as a student he and his friends would run out every week for the Gazette "to hasten at once to that corner of the sheet which contained the three magical letters LEL....We soon learned it was a female, and our admiration was doubled, and our conjectures tripled." Letitia also worked as reviewer at the publication and her second volume of poems, The Improvistrace, came out in 1824.

Soon after this her father died and she became the chief money-earner for the family, forced to write faster. By 1826 she was victim to rumors that she had affairs and had secret children, but the success of her poems didn't suffer, and in 1831 she published a novel, Romance and Reality. She was engaged to a man named John Forster for a brief while, until he pressed her about the old rumors. She broke it off, writing to him, "I feel that to give up all idea of a near and dear connection is as much my duty to myself as to you," and insisted he could not marry a woman under such suspicion. But to friends she stated she really couldn't marry someone who distrusted her, writing to a friend "I cannot get over the entire want of delicacy to me which could repeat such slander to myself." She began to talk of somehow getting away from England and the old stories.

In October 1836 Letitia met George Maclean, governor of the British colony at Ghana (then the Gold Coast) and the two fell into a whirlwind romance. Despite some separations and misunderstandings, they were married June 7, 1838, though the marriage was at first kept secret. In July they sailed to Maclean's post in Ghana, where Letitia was found dead on October 15 of that year with a bottle of prussic acid in her hand. Later poets including Elizabeth Barrett Browning (with her poem LEL's Last Question) and Christina Rossetti (who also wrote a poem titled LEL) cited her as a great influence.

For more information on her life and work, this is a great website

A few sources:
Isobel Armstrong and Joseph Bristow, eds., 19th Century Women Poets, Oxford 1998
Duncan Wu, ed., Romanticism: An Anthology, 2006
And a book to be published in November is Julie Watt's Poisoned Lives: The Regency Poet Letitia Landon (LEL) and British God Coast Administrator George Maclean (can't wait to read it!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Portrait Friday

Today's portrait--Queen Adelaide, wife of William IV, born on this day in 1792...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday Storytelling

Over at the Riskies today, talking about Disney World storytelling!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Hottie Monday

Today's Hottie Monday is a little different, born out of a heated debate at a recent girls' night out with mojitos and guacamole--who are the actors you find attractive that no one else (or few people you know) does? Here are a few of mine, though I'm sure I'm forgetting some. What do you think? Who are yours???

Jemaine and Bret from Flight of the Conchords (because funny is sexy!)

David Tennant

James McAvoy (I was surprised he fell under this category--all I can say is some people must not have seen his shirtless scene in Macbeth)

Stephen Dillane (if you haven't seen John Adams or Firelight go see them immediately! I'll wait...)

Benedict Cumberbatch (an odd one--he can seem like the most weaselly man alive in Starter for Ten or Small Island, but intense in stuff like The Last Enemy and that one Miss Marple mystery. Can't wait until they show the new BBC Sherlock Holmes here)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Heroine of the Weekend

Slowly getting back into the routine of writing and blogging after the excitement of RWA! This weekend's Heroine is French composer and pianist Cecile Chaminade, who was born August 8 in 1857. Though her reputation suffered a decline after her death, the recent renewed interest in women composers such as Fanny Mendelsohn, Clara Schumann, and Amy Beach has lifted her to attention again.

Chaminade was born in Paris, and was first taught music at home by her mother, though she was soon found to be something of a prodigy at the piano. Though her father disapproved of girls seeking careers in music, Bizet was a family friend and advised her parents that she should be properly educated. She had many teachers in her young years, including Augustin Savard, Martin Pierre Marsick, and Benjamin Goddard. She played her first compositions when she was 8, and 10 years later gave her first public concert which gained her acclaim and a steadily rising career. She wrote mostly character pieces and salon songs for the piano, which were published and became great sellers.

She embarked on a touring career, and made her English debut in 1892, where she was very popular, while continuing to travel in France. In 1901 she married music publisher Louis Carbonel, and after his death in 1907 never married again. Soon after she visited the United States and became just as popular there as in Europe. Her pieces such as Ballet 1 and Scarf Dance were best sellers, and she composed theatrical and ballet music as well as a Konzertstuck for piano and orchestra. In 1913 she was awarded the Legion d'Honneur (the first for a female composer) and in 1903 made some early gramophone recordings of 6 of her compositions. As she grew older she composed less and less, and was effectively retired when she died in Monte Carlo on April 13, 1944.

For more information on her life, check out Louise Corteau's Portrait de Cecile Chaminade. There is a list of her works and some recordings here.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

RWA Pics

Over the next few days I'll be posting some random RWA pics....

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Riskies Tuesday and RWA!

Over at the Riskies today, with pics and stuff from RWA! It was a fabulous conference. More here anon, once I've recovered a bit more :)