And Now I Wish I Could Make This A Real Thing

So Rose Lerner recently noticed that Booklikes had substituted a scholarly book cover in place of the proper cover for Cecilia Grant's A Woman Entangled. But Rose is gifted with a sense of fun in addition to her keen observational eye, and she quickly had put together a series of faux-scholarly romance covers. They are delightful!

And now everyone's getting in on the game. Isobel Carr has a roundup post, but here is my own hasty contribution.

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Because what form would a Greek robot romance take, if not that of the marvelous Loeb Classical Library?

The Robot Girls of Ancient Greece

In Homer's Iliad, there appears the following passage. Translation by yours truly, because if you can't use your 7 years of ancient Greek for translating things like this, what can you use it for? ... And to their lord hastened Golden servants like living maidens. In them were minds and hearts, voice and strength, And they have learned skills from the deathless gods. They hurried around and about their master. (Iliad 18.417-421)

Why am I posting about ancient Greek lady-robots made of gold? It's a secret—for now. Feel free to let your imaginations go wild. (Lord knows I did!)

 

Announcing: Damned If You Do, Coming Soon From Ellora's Cave!

It is with great delight that I announce my third novella, coming soon from Ellora's Cave! Damned if You Do is an erotic Regency romance set in Hell—yup, actual Hell—that tells the story of the demoness Idared and her love for the damned Lord Lambourne. This cheeky little book answers some overlooked but fascinating questions, such as:

  • What happens to a human soul that commits sins when already in Hell?
  • What could a damned aristocrat and an ambitious demoness possibly have in common?

And:

  • How does Lucifer really feel about the violin?

Dore's image of Francesca and Paolo from Dante's Inferno.

You Had Me At "Demon King"

We here at Olivia Waite love illustrated myths—especially when the illustrations are done by the marvelous Vladimir Verano, whom we are honored to count as a friend. And Saturday, June 11, if you're in the Seattle area, you should stop by Elliott Bay Books because Vlad will be on hand signing copies of The Prince, the Demon King, and the Monkey Warrior, a book of illustrated stories from the Ramayana retold for younger audiences.

The cover for an illustrated retelling of the Ramayana aimed at younger audiences.

Vlad is not only a superb artist and a well-read man of letters; he also runs the Espresso Book Machine (code name "Ginger") at Third Place Books.

You can get a sneak peek at the illustrations on Vlad's Flickr page—and if you're far away from Elliott Bay, you can buy the book online from Powell's Books.

Lost Stories

A recent tweet from Edward Champion (picked up by GalleyCat) brought to light this lovely Wikipedia list of lost works throughout history. It's enough to make any book-lover weep, and swear, and gnash their teeth. Highlights that are particularly close to my heart:

  • The second volume of Aristotle's Poetics. The first volume (which amounts to student notes on one of Aristotle's lectures) deals with the structure of a tragedy, and is where we get all our ideas of catharsis and hubris and in medias res. The lost second volume dealt with comedy; I know some might object to the study of comedy on the theory that explaining a joke makes it less funny. That's like saying that knowing how to fix your car makes your car break more often. Studying comedy means you learn how to make better jokes. I would be interested to learn what Aristotle considered to be a good joke.

A photo of a bust of Aristotle, with a large and curly red mustache drawn on.

  • Augustus' autobiography, De Vita Sua.
  • Two-thirds of Livy's Ab Urbe Condita, a book on the history of Rome that is hugely inaccurate and fascinating and really useful from a critical standpoint and really trashy from a literary standpoint (bonus!).
  • Ovid's Medea, just about the only straight-up tragedy this naughty love poet wrote, and the very first thing he published. Having studied Latin for nearly seven years, I am a huge Ovid fan. If someone told me to cut off my right arm because this lost story would be found on a roll of papyrus in the center of my humerus bone (hee hee … humerus), I would do so quicker than James Franco trapped between two boulders with only a rusty Swiss Army knife and no painkillers.
  • Suetonius' Lives of Famous Whores. Can you think of anything more fun to read than a book about famous whores in ancient Rome? Me neither. Unless it's his Greek Terms of Abuse, also lost.
  • Anything by Sappho. We have two poems, mostly but not entirely complete, and a bunch of random lines like If you are squeamish, don't prod the beach rubble. Here is an awesome thing you can read about Sappho if you really want to see past all the hype.
  • The Gospel of Eve, which sounds delightfully filthy.
  • Shakespeare's Love's Labours Won. Obviously.
  • Mozart and Salieri's jointly composed (!) cantata for voice and piano.
  • Byron's memoirs.

What are your favorites on the list? Anything you'd give an arm for—or even a pinkie?

The Amazing Glass Sculptures of Lucio Bubacco

We here at Olivia Waite did not sleep particularly well last night. (Dear dream dictionary: what does it mean when you dream that the bottom of your foot is pink and black and flaky like a grilled salmon? We are totally stumped.) As a direct result, we are a little slow of brain this morning, so writing the incisive, thoughtful blog post we wanted to write seems a bit beyond our capabilities. The warm, sleeping puppy snoring in our lap is hardly helping matters.

So instead, here are some pretty pictures of the work of Lucio Bubacco, an Italian glass artist. I've never seen anything like them.

Cream glass winged figures with clear glass supports.

A goblet surrounded and supported by the figures of cream-glass angels and red-glass devils.

A white glass woman opens her legs for penetration by Zeus in the form of a white glass swan.

A dark purple glass woman with hand outstretched, and sinuous purple glass snakes for hair.

A black glass figure of a woman, Daphne, whose arms are becoming branches, hair leaves, and legs the roots of a tree. The black glass figure of Apollo attempts to embrace her as she transforms.

There's Always Hope in Pandora's Box

The best story idea you'll ever have is the one you haven't started writing yet. Take me, for instance: I've got a carefully plotted, long-sweat-over outline for a fantasy historical romance based on the Cinderella story. This outline is holding up well, and proving adaptable toward the inevitable expansions and twists that happen under NaNoWriMo's blowtorch of speed. There are even a few passages I have come to like, or at least that I don't feel the need to bury forever from the shaming light of day.

But three days ago someone coined a term--or brought up a newly coined term--in a Twitter chat, and a day after that I had an hour to spend with no internet or computer access, and the next thing I knew I was in the grip of an Idea.

It was half-formed, but so irresistible that I kept thinking about it, asking how this part happened, why the characters would do this, what is the agenda of the protagonist and how is it possible to defeat the antagonist. A video recently posted by a Facebook friend turned out to provide one solution, and others soon amassed themselves.

I wanted to start immediately.

If you're like me, and like many writers, this happens to you all the time. New ideas are dazzling, splendid, perfect, magnificent things that you know will practically write themselves, and then you as the humble conduit for this perfection will make scads of cash/cure cancer/get seriously laid.

It never works out that way, once you start writing. Beginning to write the idea is like the moment when Pandora, full of curiosity, opens the box that contains all the evils of the world.

Your characters turn out to be people with flaws -- or worse, they turn out to not be people at all. They move and speak like cardboard cutouts, and you feel like you are a five-year-old playing with action figures, but without the cuteness factor to save you from ridicule. Meanwhile, your characters refuse to do things that are vital to your plot, and start doing other things they have no business doing.

You feel you have let your Idea down, and therefore you have no worth as a human being.

Sometimes you push ahead, and finish the manuscript anyways, because having part of the Idea on paper is better than none. And then you remember, or someone reminds you, that there is this magical process of salvation. It has many names -- editing, or revision -- and it can work miracles.

Sometimes you sense an upcoming catastrophe and see no option but to stop writing -- slam that lid down on the box and try to pretend you never opened it in the first place.

But no matter how badly you've bungled it with your horrible prose and your wooden dialogue and your lackluster characterization, Hope never escapes from that chest.

And you know that, sooner or later, another Idea will come along. You'll sneak back, cast a quick look around to make sure no one is watching, and try again. Pandora's always going to open that box.