Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Betty JoDee

The Hoarders camera crew had finally arrived.  The world was about to see if a man wearing a reflective smock and low-rise pants could pry her TBR pile from her cold, dead hands.
Today is the first birthday in twelve years that I haven’t had a child at home during the day for it. I decided to celebrate by reading Betty Magdalen’s manuscript she graciously provided. I have been saving it for a special (read: uninterrupted) occasion. I burst out laughing when her RPJ (Rich Philadelphia Judge) gave her Outlier a tour of his ancestral house--with already outfitted nursery! I have encountered the, I assume for publishing, now requisite trip to Brighton and am working on my game face for Betty Magdalen when I encounter her next—who knew? The RPJ is quite the poppet though.

Professor van der Hertenzoon is taking me for my birthday tea/luncheon at a historic mansion (I’m not making this up; I hope they have at least Gentleman’s Relish for him). Meanwhile, I am blowing off all responsibilities to read Betty Magdalen’s tome, surrounded by dishes in the sink, dirty laundry, unturned-out cupboards, floors and bathrooms needing the “rough” done, uncounted linen,etc. I did manage to make my bed and step into the shower.

My question is this, Fellow Bettys: Would Mrs. Neels approve of Araluaminta ignoring domestic pressing matters to read a book? Did one of hers ever do it? I don’t think so. Would she grant an exception if the volume were one of hers (or a Betty’s, in this case)?


  1. Happy Birthday, Betty JoDee! The answer to your question is N.O. The only kind of woman to enjoy flop-time when there are children (or housework) about are also the same kind that get lushy, ply pop records and invite long-hairs to plant their bottoms on priceless antiquities.

    However, I heartily approve.

  2. Outside of Neeldom, we Hanna Bettys have actual superpowers connected with our ability to read while Rome (or our households) burn around us. In the words of Betty Keira: "Read Harder!"

  3. Were there Aramintas/Olivias who actually read something in her books?????

    I don't recall. Maybe one.

    If they did, I'm sure they read it while they were sick in bed with the flu, but that wouldn't be right--the doctor would take it away from them and say its bad for your head.

    Or she read them while on a train to dover. That sounds so cool. Imagine sitting on a train to Dover. Sigh*

    Or the one we just reprised who went to the cottage in the country by the gate every weekend to potter around. I'm sure she also never had time to read, although that's what you're supposed to do in the country. I'm sure all her free time was spent digging in the garden (front and back), going on long walks with a dog, and baking fresh bread for the yucky Veronicas to come in and sneer at.


  4. Betty Barbara here--

    Happy Birthday Betty JoDee!!

    Well, come to think of it, I can't remember our heroines reading unless they were at the house of the RDD/REW and taking advantage of the 'library'. Or, there's that stack of reading material on the bedside table (along with the flowers and munch-ables). Oh yeah, there are the few heroines who 'borrow' medical books in order to learn about the doc's specialty.
    But I can't remember a Betty heroine taking advantage of a rainy day/birthday/whatever and chucking housework to read. Proving that they are not related to us at all!!
    Says yours truly, who believes that reading trumps housework every time!

  5. Happy Birthday! BJDee

    No, can't imagine a Betty heroine shirking her unpaid and paid domestic duties to read her 'catholic' taste books!

    But as a doctor's sister type (nanny'd, domestically distracted), I thoroughly endorse reading while procrastinating or doing something like housework. Happy Fiction time!
    Betty AnHK

  6. Happy birthday, Betty JoDee!

    Betty's heroines are never seen reading except for the aforementioned exceptions. ;-) BUT they are always well read. 'Splain that, Lucy!


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  8. DONT’T click on the CHEAP NHL JERSEYS to see who is behind it. I did. They want to sell jerseys.

    Happy Belated Birthday, Betty JoDee!

    From across the ocean.
    When Betty Debbie posted her congratulations I had just shut down my laptop for the day - the sun had set well over 2 hours earlier - or I would have congratulated you sooner.

    Yes, the Araminta/Olivias did like to read.Daisy had a small bulging bookshelf(or was it a bookcase?). Anyway, they sometimes buy/want to buy paperbacks but they are expensive in the Netherlands. I haven't been there in years, but I remember English books being more expensive than in their "native" countries. Which makes sense. I can recall Sister Peters getting books for Sint Nicolaas. But no, I too cannot remember any of our dear Betty's heroines shirking domestic duties in order to indulge in a good read. Personally, I am all for it, especially, when the occasion practically begs for it.
    Betty Anonymous from Germany

  9. Happy birthday, Betty JoDee. I look forward to your thoughts on Gemel Ring when you get around to it.

  10. Correction:
    The books for Sister Peters were a Christmas present which she found on her desk when she came on duty at 1:00 p.m. on Christmas Day.And - wonder of wonders - she actually had time to read quite a bit into "A Christmas Carol"


    because casualty was empty.
    "Sister Peters in Amsterdam" is one of my absolute favourites, by the way, the one that got me hooked onto La Neels. I had ordered it because of the title, the "in Amsterdam" part, to be precise.
    Betty Anonymous from Germany

  11. Thanks Bettys for all the wonderful birthday wishes! Professor van der Hertenzoon survived all the frou-frou of the tea room (he did order an extra set of the dainty sandwiches for his vast frame). No Gucci but I received a handwoven, raw silk scarf (from a great female friend--the Consequences of Brighton gifted me with a "magic" wooden box and the Professor with tickets to Glenn Miller).

    I had forgotten, Betty Anonymous, about Sister Peters reading Dickens on duty! Plus, Jane Eyre is, presumably, nighttime reading sometimes. I think I can stretch such thin gruel to cover reading a fellow Betty while "on duty" on a holiday....

  12. What an honor to be the text-of-choice when avoiding domestic duties. Happy Birthday (belatedly), Betty JoDee.

    (I hope you liked the book. I just excerpted the Black Moment, culminating in the mad dash from her house to his, for one of my workshops for the MFA. Very weird feeling to make sure all the punctuation and formatting is correct, knowing that the actual words will be torn to shreds, in a kindly way, by my fellow classmates.)

    (And did you and Professor van der Hertenzoon resolve the dispute over the "love at first sight" issue?)

    (Sorry about the trips to Brighton. Kind of necessary with my heroine being rather commitment-phobic as she is.)

  13. Tell me about MFA, Betty Magdalen. I'm curious to know when you know you're DONE with a book.

  14. It's a "low residency" Master of Fine Arts program in Maine (Stonecoast, part of University of Southern Maine) which means I only have to be on site for ten days in the summer and ten days in the winter. (My parents lived very close to there, so I know well what winters are like...)

    During the residency, we "workshop" what we've written, meaning everyone gets a copy in advance and writes out comments, but as a group we discuss each other's work. What we like, what we thought could be improved, etc. I know, it sounds like a recipe for meanies, but I think the fact that we've all been selected will take some of the insecurity that feeds nastiness in critique groups. At least I hope so!

    At the end of the residency, we're assigned a mentor -- a faculty member we work with for the entire semester. At home, we're working on our "genre" (there are five: poetry, creative non-fiction like memoirs, screenwriting, literary fiction, and popular fiction such as science fiction, fantasy, YA, mysteries, and romance) writing, but we're also writing essays on other people's books and how they influence our individual writing. Ooh, and we're allowed to write something "in the style of" another writer. I could do The Great Betty!

    Four semesters, five residencies and then I'll have more letters after my name. But I really really hope I will have learned a LOT more on how to write.

    Sometimes, the end of a book is super-easy to identify. With Blackjack & Moonlight, the one Betty JoDee has read, I wrote up to the middle, then wrote the ending. I had to go back and fill in the 40,000 words I hadn't quite figured out yet.

    So, word-count is important. I'm writing single-title contemporary romances, which need to be around 90,000 to 120,000 words. (I don't like subplots, with secondary characters, so I don't bother with them -- they'd add a ton of words, but as a reader, they're all words I don't bother reading.)

    If what you mean is, when is a book completely done, polished, sanded smooth, and flawless? Never. But at some point you have to unclench your fingers from around the manuscript and hand it over to someone and say, "It's done."

  15. Pretty please do one in La Neels' style! We'll promise you a publishing contract... (with big bucks...which is code for plaudits and that's it)

    Maybe we should all talk about that other type of book--the secondary character ones and whatnot. I'm kind of with you on it. I like more focus on two people. I dunno...I get a little put off by non-classic romances that are over 300 pages. There's bound to be disillusionment and, perhaps, the hero taking awful 'other women' (named Angel or Dixie) off to Brighton. Rare is the author that can sustain bright, joyful awesomeness throughout a novel that long without taking refuge in reams of words spent on fiddly (and invariably depressing) historical details (Indian scalpings make it an epic!), minute discussion of clothing (Sarah Winfeld entered the room wearing her sky-blue Indian muslin gown with the white net overlay complementing her violet-trimmed cap...), or soap opera-ish contortions by the principles (Duke knew at last the Melanie was carrying his baby but it was too late for them. She had married Shane and it would be another 50 pages before Shane took to drinking and another hundred after that before his gaming debts would lead him to be killed in a bar fight...)

  16. One of my least favorite page count fillers is name-dropping. I do understand that if the hero is wintering in Valley Forge in 1778 (or whenever it was) it's likely he crossed paths with a couple of historic figures. What I hate is when a writer goes all Forrest Gump and has recurring visitations from one big name person after another. UGH! Some writers can handle the odd meeting with style and control. Most work very hard to make it understood that THIS hero/heroine ultimately influenced history by this chance meeting with this or that historic person. Please! :)


  17. Okay, here's my pet peeve: The sections done in the villain's POV (point of view). First off, I don't want to be inside a bad guy's head. Second of all, in order to keep the tension ramped up, the author has to lie about what's going on. So in the villain's head, he (or she) is artfully NOT thinking about some identifying detail or important clue (like, that he/she is the villain). That's not credible.

    Third, it's usually not very suspenseful. I'd much prefer to stay in a protagonist's point of view and hear the bump in the night and worry. (Not that I'm a big fan of horror as a genre, but you know what I mean.)

    So I just skip all that stuff written in the meanie's POV. Life's short & I don't have enough time to read everything I've got as it is.

    BUT - I would have loved loved loved more in the RDDs' POV. ::swoon::

    (Still waiting to hear what Betty JoDee liked about Jack McIntyre, my Rich Philadelphia Judge...)

  18. I've read books successfully written (in my opinion) with small doses of the villian's POV, usually when he is deranged and we get insight into his actions due to insanity.

  19. Betty van den BetsyOctober 31, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    HB, JD! (sorry so late; work has been nutsy)