Monday, December 31, 2007
Although more than one Scots poet wrote of the days of "auld lang syne" (roughly translated as "long, long ago" or the "olden days"), it is Robert Burns (1759-96) whose poem, set to music is the one we all sing at the chimes strike midnight, or the Times Square ball drops on New Year's Eve.
2007 had its ups and downs for me. Professionally, I received my first nonfiction contract. Royal Affairs: A Lusty Romp Through the Extramarital Adventures that Rocked the British Monarchy, which will be published by NAL in original trade paper on June 3, 2008, tested my ability to research, write, and deliver in record time (about 5 months) over 400 pages that covered more than 900 years of English history, in a breezy, accessible style.
It was a very exciting, albeit grueling, project, and as the bright January days of the new year dawn, I expect the copyedited manuscript to show up on my doorstep.
Nonetheless, 2007 will remain in my heart as one of those that might as well be enshrined within the schmaltzy lyrics of "It was a very good year." I got married on May 19, to a wonderful, kind man with a wry sense of humor, and after years of writing happily-ever-afters for my fictional characters, I've got one of those for myself.
Although I resolve every year not to make any new year's resolutions, I've made a few of them anyway. Along with those personal perennials like exercising more and losing weight, I'm resolving to reach out even more to my readers. If you belong to a book group, I'd love to set up interactive chats about my titles just for your group on one of my blogs. And if you're in the NY-Metropolitan area and are up for hosting an in-person author visit to your readers group, let's chat about how we can turn it into a fun special event.
Wishing each of you a healthy and prosperous new year! And happy reading!
Have you made any new year's resolutions for 2008 that you'd like to share here? Let's resolve to help each other stick to them!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The Magna Carta curbed the power of the king and established the rights of the English people. And the U.S. Constitution includes ideas and phrases taken almost directly from the charter, which rebellious barons forced their oppressive King John to sign in 1215.
However, the Magna Carta was ratified and reissued with each monarch who succeeded John. It was enacted as law in 1297 by the British parliament when it was reissued by King Edward I, nicknamed by his subjects, "The lawgiver." The 1297 document is considered the most definitive (and therefore valuable) version because that was the text that made it into the English statute books.
The medieval vellum manuscript was bought at auction by the founder of a private equity firm, David Rubenstein. We applaud him, because he plans to keep it where it has been on display at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington D.C.
Now that's what I call equity.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
At 11am, the galleries were empty, save for the occasional security guard. There were no signs forbidding photography, but I figured there would be too much of a glare coming off the vitrines, so I kept the camera in my purse. Unfortunately there were no postcards for sale in the gift shop (I am an utter museum gift shop junkie...almost as bad sometimes as "No, I missed that exhibit--but I visited the gift shop.")
Sèvres ice cream cooler. Everyone should have one!
Carpet from the Throne Room (detail). Manufacture de la Savonnerie,designed by François Debret and Jacques Barraband1807–09WoolMusée National des Châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau, Rueil-Malmaison
Thursday, December 6, 2007
The Magna Carta was the birth of the concept that nobody - including the king - was above the law, and that a fair trial was a right of all. The document was first written in 1215. King John (the wicked king of Robin Hood legend) was on the throne, and yes, he was quite the bully. His barons didn't appreciate such autocracy, however, and at the risk of losing his throne in a civil uprising, King John signed the document in a convocation held at Runnymeade in 1215.
Magna Carta was originally written because of disagreements among Pope Innocent III, King John and the English barons about the rights of the King. Magna Carta required the king to renounce certain rights, respect certain legal procedures and accept that his will could be bound by the law. It explicitly protected certain rights of the king's subjects, whether free or fettered — most notably the right of Habeas Corpus, meaning that they had rights against unlawful imprisonment.
The document was revised throughout the 13th century. It wasn't confirmed as English law until 1297, when it was signed by King Edward I (the wicked king of William Wallace ["Braveheart"] legend). Of 17 copies of the Magna Carta that still exist, all but this one are publicly owned. The only other copy outside England is on show in Australia's Parliament.