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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Anne Gracie -- The dreaded R-word

Wow, when I signed up for this date, I didn't realize Lilian Darcy was going to be on before me. Thanks Lilian, and I so agree with you about the importance of friends.

In fact I think one of the best things about being a romance author has been the friends I've made -- and keep making. It came as a surprise, actually -- I expected to be working totally alone, and that I'd miss the friends I'd made at my other workplace. Nut no -- I do work by myself in something of a cave but I'm never really alone. There is always a friend on the end of the email or the phone. And that's a real blessing.

But that's not what I planned to blog about today. It being nearly the end of the year, I thought I ought to write something about that little piece of insanity we all go through around New Year -- I'm taking about the dreaded R-word -- resolutions.

I don't do resolutions. They invariably make me feel like a failure, as very few of these bright shiny new intentions last. So I'm not making a resolution -- but maybe I have a Plan. ;)

A few months back I was feeling really stale. I was suffering from post book slump, and though I had a big to-be-read pile of brand new shiny books, for some reason nothing appealed. I picked them over listlessly and they slid to the floor. So then I looked at my bulging bookcases and decided it was time for a clear out. (Clear outs for me are much like resolutions -- a guaranteed failure! I'm such a pack rat.)

So I started with my keeper book case ... Yes, another spectacular failure, if you use the number of books cleared out as a marker.

But oh, what a time I had!

It started with Susan Elizabeth Phillip's Nobody's Baby But Mine. What a mistake. ;) There went the next few hours. Blissfully.

I opened keeper after keeper, just to check whether they still hit the mark, and got lost in each one. It was the beginning of a massive reading binge -- a rereading binge, actually.

Over the next week I became a complete glutton, filling up on the stories that had first caused me to become a romance writer; I fell in love with again heroes like Dominic le Sabre, with the Marquis of Dain, with Simon Augustus Blade, the Earl of Traherne and with some really hunky navy seals. I got my socks knocked off by Johanna Lindsay's warriors, and by Wolf Mackenzie and his gorgeous son. I sobbed at the end of Eva Ibbotson's Morning Gift and LaVyrle Spencer's Morning Glory, and I traveled the south of France with my ancient copy of Madam Will You Talk. I chuckled through the dinner party scene in Strange Bedpersons, and the Nemesis and old Horley conversation from Friday's Child and I went on a complete Heyer glom, loving the fiery courtship of Deb and Max, Phoebe and Sylvester, and the incomparable Damerel.

I had the most wonderful time. And in the process I fell in love all over again with my chosen genre. What a gift these books are, to make you laugh and cry and feel so satisfied at the end. And how lucky I feel to be writing in such a gorgeous genre.

So if the New Year madness comes upon me, and I find myself making a resolution, it won't be one I'm likely to break; it's to reread my old keepers, as well as new books.

So what are some of your favorite keepers, or beloved comfort reads?

Anne

29 comments:

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Anne, what a lovely post. A lot of your keepers are my keepers too! I must attack my bookshelves and see what treasures await. I've got a few failsafe comfort reads.

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale

Captives of the Night by Loretta Chase

Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase (hmm, I'm starting to sound slightly fan girlish here)

The Baron by Julianna Garnet (starting the Sheriff of Nottingham as the hero, how could I resist?)

The Flesh and the Devil by Teresa Denys

I'd better stop of my comment will be longer than your blog. Oh, and I agree with you about Venetia. Sigh.

Happy New Year!!!

Annie West said...

Anne, you evil woman. I have work to do today - serious work - and now I want to run off to my books and delve into my keepers instead. Talk about temptation.

I smiled and nodded through your list and also through Anna's. A lot of familiar names there. However, if I had to go right back to the very first books to hook me on romance (and that I still read) it would have to be Mary Stewart (yes, 'Madam, Will you Talk?' was one of them) and Georgette Heyer. Bliss! Victoria Holt too (which probably explains why I like a good dose of gothic drama in my romance). There are plenty more since then, especially writers of Presents stories and historical authors like Loretta Chase. So many keepers in fact that I've run out of space. The family thinks I need an extra room to devote to books. Now, wouldn't that be a great idea?

Thanks for the post, which has me eager to get my work done so I can curl up with a really good romance.

By the way, I love the cover of your new book! Looking forward to reading it. Did I mention that your stories are part of my 'keeper' collection?

Annie

Maureen said...

I agree with Anna. All Loretta Chase books are on my keeper shelf. So many of the books you listed are on there too. Also a bunch of Lisa Kleypas books and Linda Howard books.

Estella said...

Great post! I don't re-read books---cannot get interested the second time.

Anne Gracie said...

Thanks Anna and Annie (other members of the Tribe of Annes) LOL
There are a couple of books in Anna's list I haven't read yet, so I must get to it.

Annie, your family is right -- you do need a room for your books. In fact I'm thinking of getting an extra floor made - a sort of attic/study that will contain my computer and files and it will be lined with bookshelves. Sigh. It's my dream.

A very cheeky writer friend said, when I shared this vision with her, that she had visions of me lying dead in my house under a mound of books, with the roof and walls having collapsed under their weight. LOL.

Anne Gracie said...

Maureen, I blush to confess that I discovered Loretta Chase late in life. It's quite hard to get romance books in Australia, so I didn't come across some really wonderful authors until after I was published and had discovered the specialist bookstores that keep Australian Romance readers happily supplied.

And yes to Lisa Kleypas. I actually missed out on a lot of names and titles, including a heap of wonderful series romance writers. But there was a Linda Howard in there -- the fabulous Makenzies.

Estelle, not all books lend themselves to a reread, but some books are so wonderful that I always get something different out of reading them.

Cryna said...

reaonI have a lot of keeper books, and I keep adding to them. I have such a huge TBR pile that I know that I could be snowed in for a year and not run out of something to read.

I too do not make resolutions because it is left unsaid that I will fail at them. But like you I make plans which are so much easier to keep.

Hope you have a great new year.

Anne Gracie said...

Cryna, of course -- that's a great excuse for why I need so many books. In case I'm snowed in for a year... (it never snows here, but shh, don't tell .)

Seriously, I so identify with that feeling of not wanting to run out of books. I've had it ever since I was a child. In fact there's a story on my website about when I was a kid and we were travelling (my parents had gypsy blood, I suspect) and I'd run out of books to read. My gorgeous mother (who was probably ready to strangle me LOL) combed the secondhand bookstalls in Paris looking for something in English for me. I still have the book she found...
http://www.annegracie.com/anne/journal.htm#rave

Denise Rossetti said...

Oh Anne, SNAP!

But I read SF and fantasy too - or I did until I started writing it. A keeper author for me is Barbara Hambly. Intelligent, literate, so very beautifully crafted fantasy. And I love that she uses the occasional word so abstruse I have to look it up. Just call me nerd girl. *grin* She also writes amazing historicals - with a black ex-slave hero set in 18th century New Orleans. Wow.

Beyond that, it's Heyer, of course - she started me on this whole romance gig at the tender age of twelve. Plus Crusie, Howard, SEP, Chase. And for the erotic stuff, Emma Holly and Joey W. Hill.

Loved the post, you wicked temptress!

Denise *virtuously returning to Deadline Hell*

Eric said...

Hello Annie, how wonderful to know all the problems of fitting three-square metres into one isn’t just local. I suspect the only activity more distracting than going through bookshelves is renovating old houses, the part where you pull up the floor coverings and find old newspapers to read; some articles even find a place in ‘that’ book shelf.

I brought myself a present for Christmas, five oldies off my list of books I’ve always wanted to own. They cost me five cents and thirty-nine dollars postage.

New-year comes with an ultimatum, reduce the book selves by two or ‘she’ will. Being male comes with pressures you can only dream of.

Regards, Eric

Anne McAllister said...

I second Annie West's comment -- you evil woman, you! How dare you remind me of all the books I love when I am doing my best to weed out! I already have more bookshelves than anyone should be allowed. And I just keep getting books. And reading books.

I think I will have a contest and give away some of my keepers. At least I will know they are going to good homes. If I can bear to part with them . . .

Serena said...

Hi Anne,
Oh boy - keepers - I have more than just a shelf or two or three. We built an extra level on the house not for bedrooms but for storage. In what was built as my office (but is not my older twin's bedroom {SIGH}) we have floor to ceiling bookshelves! Of course they're not all for me but I managed to fill quite a lot with keepers and many of them are signed by the author.

List of keeper authors - there are so many I know I'll forget someone. I tend to read category romance so - anything by Fiona Lowe, Maxine Sullivan, Nicola Marsh, Trish Morey, Bronwyn Jameson, Annie West, Valerie Parv, and I also have Anne Gracie's How The Sheriff Was Won :) There are MANY MANY more authors on my keeper shelves, but it would take up a whole column on this blog to write them all :)

Hugs
Serena
xx

deseng said...

Hi there Annie,

I have many keeper books! Most are favorite authors like Janet Evanovich, Jennifer Crusie, Vicki Lewis Thompson, etc. Then I have all the Harry Potter books which I have read several times now. There are some historical books, books I did reviews on, books that are autographed by authors, etc. In other words I collect books!

You wouldn't believe my TBR pile! I just got a rotating book shelf for Christmas that has 15 plexiglass bins on the 3 sided unit where they hook on it. It is about 65 inches tall. I absolutely love it! It perfectly fit my TBR collection! I have trade size books, hard backs, and lot's of paperbacks.

I have the whole collection of books from Victoria Holt. I started reading her books and my love for reading evolved from there!

Michele L.

Annie West said...

Ooh, I am enjoying everyone's comments. Just posting to say, Anne that my book room fantasy sounds exactly the same as yours - a loft room encircled by bookshelves. Sigh! My kids talk of it as if it's going to happen one day soon. I wish!

Anne (McAllister) I hope you advertise widely if ever you give away keepers. I want to be in that!

Amanzing number of Anne's here today.

Annie

Jane said...

Anything by Julie Garwood and Lisa Kleypas is a keeper for me. I, too am a big fan of Loretta Chase. My favorites from her include "Lord Perfect" and "The Last Hellion."

Karen H in NC said...

I am not a re-reader. For one thing, I don't have room for 'keepers'. My TBR stack is composed of 3 6-shelf bookcases packed to the edges with not-yet-read books. Second, I don't think a re-read would hold my attention like it did first time around.

I am also not a resolution maker. I don't like to set myself up for failure. I tend to think of this time of year with 3 R words: Reflect, Refresh and Renew.

Anne, I am so waiting for your new book to hit the shelves on Wednesday. Love that cover.

Anne Gracie said...

Denise, I love sci/fantasy, too, though I haven't read a lot for some time. In fact I have a couple of half-started novels in that genre, but my historicals took off and I decided to stick with them.

I love Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series, Anne McCaffreys Dragons, Mercedes Lackey's many books and the Empire series by Janny Wurts and Raymond Feist.

And I don't know if you'd call Terry Pratchett books sci/fi fantasy or what, but I adore them too. Death and The Luggage are my favorite characters.
And then if we're into comedy, there's E.F. Benson's Lucia novels. Priceless.

I'll keep a look out for Barbara Hambly books in the future. And Denise Rosetti books, too. ;)

Anne Gracie said...

Hi Eric, yes, renovating old houses can turn up some amazing things. I remember some years ago a friend in the country bought an old house and whe they pulled up the lino, they found hundreds of old movie posters.

It turne out a previous owner had owned the local cinema and was obviously a believer in recycling.

Anne Gracie said...

Hi there, Anne McA - another member of the Tribe of Annes.
Evil? Moi?

Weeding books? No, no, no! Now that is evil.

Junk yes, even though it brings in that rule of the universe -- as soon as you throw something out, you find you really need it. LOL.

Serena, you are a woman after my own heart. An extra level on the house for storage. Wow!
And you've named some really wonderful series authors -- all of whom, coincidentally, were at the Simmer, Seduce and Sizzle launch! ;)
http://www.annegracie.com/books/sizzleseducesimmer.htm

Denise Rossetti said...

Anne,

I'm still in Severe Avoidance, as you can tell. *sigh*

Ditto on all of those. With the addition of Lois McMaster Bujold. Her Miles is a fascinating hero.

My whole family adores Pratchett. I'm particularly partial to Death of Rats and Nanny Ogg. Then there's the Librarian, with whom I feel a certain professional association. Fancy being able to say "Oook!" in answer to anything at all. *g* Not to mention, being able to reach the top shelf with your looong arms.

I love his wonderful characters, but also the IDEAS. He has such an interesting mind, though I've heard a very sad rumour to the effect he may have early Alzheimer's. I hope with all my heart it's not true.

Anne, you'd be wonderful at SF/F. Perhaps you could try a short story? And then a longer one? urge, urge... It's not as if you have much to do. *snicker*

Denise

Anne Gracie said...

Deseng, your rotating plexi glass bookshelf sounds brilliant. I have an old bamboo table with teetering piles of books, and they never get smaller. I just need more shelves.

Jane, yes, I have a couple of Garwood keepers, too, though I came to her late in life. Oh this makes me just want to go and pull them off the shelf and start reading... I loved that one where she warmed the hero's feet...

Karen H in Nc - I love Reflect, Refresh and Renew. A fabulous motto.

And I hope you enjoy my new book. I must say, I agree with you and Annie West that Berkley have given me lovely covers. I'm so lucky.

Anne Gracie said...

Oh Denise -- you are indeed a Pratchett fan! I love the Librarian's gentle "ook", too. And Nanny Ogg. And Magrat.
And the opening sequence of Guards Guards where they're at the meetings -- I first read that when I was on about seven different committees, and oh, did it ever strike a chord. Or should I say the funny bone.

And Anna Campbell thinks she's a gushing fangirl ;)
And yes, one day I will write a sci fi story...

Lois said...

Well, I guarantee that 4 of my keepers are a certain Perfect series that I just simply loved!! :) And can't wait to pick up the Stolen Princess as well! :)

Lois

Nathalie said...

My keepers:
all books by Kathleen Woodiwiss... the fIrst romances I have read.

the same for the Georgette Heyers!

Happy New Year

mammakim said...

A lot of my keepers are my Fern Michaels, Debbie Macomber, Sherrl Woods Susan Wiggs, Beth Ciotta hmmm the list could go on. I can reread my comfort stories, especially when I want a warm and fuzzy story

Anne Gracie said...

Lois, you're a sweetheart.
Thank you. I'm really glad you liked my Merridew sisters. I loved those girls, too, and their guys and I hope you'll enjoy the new set of guys, too

Mammakim, Susan Wiggs wrote a number of my keepers, too and I have two more of her books in my TBR pile. Have you read The Lightkeeper? Such a lovely tear-jerker story.
Debbie Macomber came out to Australia last year to our annual romance conference, and she is such a darling. She told us the story of how she started to write romance and how difficult it was at first. And when she told us about having an early manuscript of hers savaged horribly in public by a critic on stage, I swear, 200 aussie women wanted to jump out of their seats and hug her. She deserves every little bit of her success.

Anne Gracie said...

Nathalie, I came to Woodiwiss late, but I grew up with Heyer and I'm certain she's the reason I write Regency historicals.

Trish Morey said...

I'm terrified of all these recommendations! I'm between books and throwing myself into my towering tbr piles and finally caught up with Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels, finished it just yesterday, and I'm hooked. Totally loved it and now will have to hunt down all the rest. And now I have to chase up Laura Kinsale, Eva Ibbotson, Lisa Kleypas... The list goes on and on and I can see I'll be reading forever (not a bad way to go, hey?).

I do have big collections of SEP, Jennifer Crusie and Linda Howard on my keeper shelves. But also have a lovely selection of Tom Sharpe as well, which I love and can reread till the cows come home. Not romance at all but delicious, witty LOL humour. The man's a genius.

And I do love my Aussie author collections and all my Anne Gracie's and Bronwyn Jameson's and Annie West's and Anna Campbell's (does two qualify as a collection? No matter, there will be more soon:-)) Untouched is next on my reading list - yippee!

Plus I have to have a shelf or three for all my wetnoodleposse mates' books. There are one heck of a lot of those.

Anne Gracie said...

Hi Trish

I only read Lord of Scoundrels a few years back, too. Fabulous, isn't it? It and Kinsale's Flowers of the Storm are in my absolute top faves. You have some gorgeous reading ahead of you. It's a good time for reading at the moment, whether you're in the northern hemisphere and holed up in front of a cosy fire, or down south and heading for the beach or a cool, shady treee...

Mind you, you do provide some gorgeous reading yourself, Ms Morey, as do so many of those lovely people who've left comments-- Ms Campbell, Ms West, Ms Rossetti and Ms McAllister -- and what was I saying about the wonderful friends I've made in this business? :)
BTW, there's a fabulous pic or two of Trish on my Sizzle launch page - that was a fun night. When 15 authors get together...