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As you know Washington DC joined the rest of the mid-Atlantic in experiencing a record-breaking December snowstorm. Here in the Northern Virginia suburbs, the snow started Friday night about 9 pm and didn’t stop until late afternoon Saturday. We got 2 feet of snow. Here is a view of our snow, taken from my upstairs window at 12 noon Saturday.

One nice thing about snow is it covers all the dirt and darkness in a blanket of pure white, everything becomes quiet and life, of necessity, slows down.

One can almost imagine what it would be to live in the country in Regency England, to take walks through the wood, perhaps even to go skating on the pond or zipping over to your neighbor’s house in a horse-drawn sleigh.

Of course, a Regency winter walk might be like this:

And zipping along in a vehicle, might be more like this:

In the newspaper you might read about stories like this one from the 1814 Annual Register:

Extraordinary Instance of the Sagacity of a Dog.—Mr. T. Rutherford, of Long Framlington, was, about a fortnight ago, overcome in a snow storm, near Alnwick, and fell. In this state he was exposed to all the horrors of the night, till seven o’clock in the morning. His faithful dog at this time observing a shepherd at a small distance, used every exertion to attract his attention, such as howling, going from and returning to the spot where his master lay. This induced the shepherd to follow the dog’s motions. Mr. Rutherford was found, (then covered by the snow,) carried to a neighbouring publichouse, and, after five hours’ exertion, life was restored, and he is now quite well.

On the other hand, one might have a lovely Regency Christmas, eating Christmas pudding, drinking wassail, playing Christmas music on the pianoforte, dancing or playing cards.

What do you imagine a Regency winter and Christmas to be like? What do you think you’d like best about it?

It’s been a great gift to have such a wonderful Risky Regencies community. I wish all my fellow Riskies and everyone else a very happy holiday season!

by Sir Walter Scott

Heap on more wood! – the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.

One more snow picture….That’s me, age 2, sitting on a mound of snow in Buffalo, NY.

I’m pleased to report that the Washington, DC, area easily beat out Buffalo for the most snow this winter. I watched carefully as we inched up to the Syracuse totals…and passed them!!! Yay! We won the city with the most snow for the winter of 2009-2010.

And we totally toasted the 1898-1899 all time record. We’re NUMBER ONE!!!

Being snowed in for a week is a discombobulating experience (Can you tell?). You’d think that I could get lots of writing done, but, then, the neighbors are shoveling and peer pressure demands I get my shovel out. Then there is exhaustion….Lots of looking outside, commenting on how high the snow has gotten, whether the Federal Government (and everything else) would be open or closed…lots of gazing at the Weather Channel.

In between writing, shoveling, checking email, eating, and various other things, I also discovered some interesting discussions about the romance genre, articles that made my brain work AND supported my beliefs (what could be better?).

The is by Jessica Tripler, a romance reader and philosophy professor, whose blog is called Racy Romance Reviews:
Feminist Critique of Romance: Ur Doing It Wrong

Jessica responds to an article in an academic journal. From the article’s abstract:

This article ultimately endeavours to demonstrate that, textually, even the most recent incarnations of the Harlequin Mills & Boon brand fail to withstand feminist scrutiny. … Something of an antidote to the Harlequin Mills & Boon romance, Bridget Jones’s Diary explicitly answers and counters many of the low-brow romance’s perceived ideological failings–from THE BARRISTER’S BEDMATE: Harlequin Mills & Boon and the Bridget Jones Debate” by Rochelle Hurst, Australian Feminist Studies, Vol. 24, No. 62, December 2009

The books Hurst decided to contrast with Bridget Jones’s Diary were the Harlequin Mills and Boon books of Emma Darcy. It may be just me, but I think it’s a bit snarky to put down a fellow Aussie who has been such a phenomenal success. Or perhaps to an Australian who doesn’t read romance, Emma Darcy is the only Australian Romance author, sorta like Nora Roberts…

Anyway, Tripler, with the help of Laura Vivanco of the Teach Me Tonight blog (more about her later) discuss several of Hurst’s misquotes and misteps in her research. Fascinating stuff, even though we hear the same old stereotypes of romance debunked again.

Next, we’re back to Yale. Andrea DaRif (Cara Elliott) and Lauren Willig are still calling attention to the romance genre with their very-first-ever Yale course on Regency Romance. This time The Yale Herald Online has an article by Katherine Orazem called In Defense of Romance: Proving the Stereotypes Wrong . Of course, the article is illustrated with a stereotypic parody of a Romance cover and this teaser: “Katherine Orazem investigates why romance novels do not get the respect (and love) they deserve.” I mean, why stick the “(and love)” in there? Makes no sense when romance outsells all other mass market books.

Orazem’s discussion is interesting and fun and the quotes by Andrea and Lauren and Susan Elizabeth Phillips are terrific. My favorite quote is from Harlequin Historical author, Louise Allen, in response to the feminism vs. romance novel issue: “Among the freedoms I insist upon as a woman is the right to my own fantasies.” Right on, Louise!

By the way, in my previous blog on the Andrea and Lauren’s Yale course, Andrea said she would post the syllabus and reading list when she could. It is now on her website. You’ll notice Amanda’s and Janet’s names on the reading list! I’m just saying….

Laura Vivanco was also quoted in Orazem’s article and has written some of her thoughts about it on the Teach Me Tonight Blog: musings on romance fiction from an academic perspective. Vivanco addresses Romance Novels: Literary Texts or Formulaic Stories? tackling the question of what makes a work literary or what makes it junk.

In her discussion, she quotes from Noël Carroll (“The Paradox of Junk Fiction. Philosophy and Literature 18.2 (1994): 225-241) who says “all cultural products contain a mixture of two kinds of elements: conventions and inventions.” Conventions and inventions! I like that!

Vivanco further mentions another blog discussing Carroll’s article about Junk Fiction–by Jessica Tripler on Racy Romance Reviews. Which brings me full circle. Another stimulating discussion…

What do you think? Do you like academic discussions about romance? Do you have pet peeves about romance stereotypes? Like always discussing present day romance as if they are exactly the same as the “bodice rippers” of the 1970s. Or that all romances are the same. Or that romance is about a woman subjugating herself to a man. What do you think?

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Janet and I (and Cara’s Todd, it turns out) have been caught in a near record-breaking Washington, DC, snowfall. I’m sure this is not a surprise; it’s made the news, but something this big cannot be ignored!

Those of you who live in places where snow is commonplace may not realize the significance of a 30 inch snowfall in Washington, DC (in my Virginia area we only managed 27 inches). We ususally get only one or two snowstorms a year and two or three inches of snow brings us to a crashing halt. Thirty inches in paralyzing.

Here’s the view from my bedroom window Saturday. We still had more snow to come.

And the same view Sunday afternoon after we were almost dug out. That’s my husband, who is 5’11” reaching up to clean the car.

Our front stoop and sidewalk are untouched.

We have not ventured out yet, but the roads remain so bad that the Federal Government is closed. (This is a very big deal here.) Amtrak between New York and DC is halted; planes aren’t flying; buses aren’t running. The only public transportation is the metro subway underground, not above.

We’re the lucky ones. We still have one gallon of milk left and plenty of toilet paper. Thousands are without heat, including some friends of ours who live near Mount Vernon.

Which brings me to the fact that this is not a record breaking snowfall. The unofficial record of 35 inches goes back to January 28, 1772, before official records were kept. How do we know that the snowfall that date was 35 inches? Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson record it in their diaries.

It’s not all hardship, though. Thanks to Facebook, two thousand gathered in Dupont Circle in DC for a Community Snowball fight.

I went on a search for Regency era snow pictures (to make this relevant to Risky Regencies). I found two. This first one is the Liverpool Mail, dating a bit later in the 1830s.

The second is from 1804 (earlier) called: The Neglected Daughter: An Affecting Tale.

This shows what happens to daughters who stray (i.e. have babies out of wedlock)

Are you in the “snow” area? How much did you get? If you were me, would you wish you were stranded in Florida, like my friend, Darlene Gardner? Do you like or hate the snow?

Check my website for new announcements and on how to order Regency High Society Affairs, Vol 12, featuring my second book, The Wagering Widow.

Happy Shoveling!

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1. I’m Diane, not Megan; I’m just the person taking Megan’s place today. Megan came to my rescue on Monday when the unthinkable happened. Shudder. My internet was down. FOR TWO DAYS, so I’m taking her day.

2. Here is the view from my deck on Monday when it snowed in the Washington DC area and up and down most of the east coast, Monday being the day I was without internet, I’m just saying.

This weekend they are forecasting temperatures in the 70s.

Looks like I have lots of property, doesn’t it? The ten or twenty feet of woods behind my house is “common ground,” owned by my suburban community. And there’s a development of townhouses on the other side of it.

3. I was dying to blog on Monday to tell you all about my birthday present (we will not speak of what birthday this was). It arrived last Friday…..My Kindle2!!!

Totally extravagant gift. Not a necessity. A definite frill.

My daughter gave me an gift card so I promptly purchased all the Kindle versions of my books (they only had 3). Isn’t that cool how it displays the cover of The Vanishing Viscountess.
My husband gave it to me. His idea was that if HE loved it, I could get him one for his birthday, but he’s not as thrilled with it as I am. His great love is his iphone and a Kindle was not enough to lead him astray.

I also downloaded Regency England by John Plowright, which is really about the political events during the time Lord Liverpool was Prime Minister. 1812 to 1827, longer than anybody.

I also downloaded several free ebooks, including Elizabeth Rolls’ His Lady Mistress, one of the 16 free ebooks Harlequin is offering to celebrate their Diamond Anniversary. You can see the titles HERE.
Books out of copyright are free, too: I downloaded Cecelia by Fanny Burney, The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, Travels in England in 1782 by Karl Philipp Moritz, The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, Persuasion by Jane Austen.

There has been spirited discussion of the new text-to-speech feature of the Kindle2. As an author, I totally support the Author’s Guild’s drive to protect authors’ rights in this matter, but as a reader, I have to say this feature is totally cool. The speaking voice doesn’t get the proper inflection of speech all the time, but it does a pretty good job. You can listen to a sample HERE.

I can also download my manuscripts, if I want to, and have them read to me!

I’m sure I’m going to love my Kindle2!

4. My new bookcovers are up on my website, as are two sneak peeks, one of my Undone estory, The Unlacing of Miss Leigh, and the other one is of my novella “Justine and the Noble Viscount” in The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor (also starring Amanda McCabe and Deb Marlowe!)

Okay, I couldn’t resist showing them to you.

So how about you? Any more weather stories to tell? Are your jonquils up? (mine are, but not blooming yet). Does anyone else have a Kindle? Do you love it? Does Diane have every gizmo in creation? Ask me!

Diane Gaston
The Unlacing of Miss Leigh, Harlequin Historical Undone, April 09
“Justine & the Noble Viscount” in The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor May 09

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Whoa! The weather has knocked regular Monday Risky Diane Gaston out of the internet, so we are hosting a weather free-for-all.

First, some Cruikshank humor:

And pix of the 1814 Frost Fair:

And a picture of a lovely couple skating:

How is the weather where you are? What are you doing today? What winter activities are your favorite (I’m guessing all of us will choose ‘A book and a pot of tea’)? How glad are you for heated houses and running hot water? What would you do today if you were a Regency gal?

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