August 2018

August 31

It’s the Summer of Secret Celebrity Weddings

By Lori Perkins

People Magazine

So actor Daryl Hannah and rock legend Neil Young tied the knot this weekend in California with a 100 of their best friends such as Rosanna Arquette, Joni Mitchell and Stephen Stills. They said their actual “I do’s” the day before on Young’s yacht.

 

Young, 72, has been making rock’n’roll for 50 years with his first band Crazy Horse, then with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and later on his own. He was previously married for 36 years, but divorced in 2014.

Hannah is best known for her roles in Blade Runner, Splash and Kill Bill, among other films. Though never married before, she has been linked to two of the hottest bachelors of the 70’s & 80’s: John F.Kennedy. Jr. and Jackson Browne.

 

But the Hannah/Young marriage isn’t the first secret celebrity wedding of the summer. Hilary Swank and Philip Schneider also quietly got married this weekend and British tabloids claim that singer Ed Sheeran married his finance this weekend. Two weeks ago, House of Cards actor Robin Wright (Sean Penn’s ex) reportedly married Saint Laurent VIP relations manager Clement Giraudet in France. In July, Michelle Williams and Phil Elverum got married.

Any guess as to which celebrity couple is going to tie the knot over this Labor Day weekend? 

 

August 30

Breaking Jurassic Park Records with An Engagement

Culturess

By Lilli McHale

A lot of couples have fond memories of riding the Universals Studio’s “Jurassic Park” ride with the rushing wind, speed and photo-op splashdown. 

 

But Chelsea and Devin have had hundreds of incredible memories on the “Jurassic Park” ride. The pair have been long-term fans of the ride and use their Los Angeles resident annual passes to visit the theme park throughout the year. On Chelsea’s birthday, the pair have created a tradition of riding Jurassic Park. This year the two had planned to create an amazing memory, as the ride will be closing on September 3rd to make room for the “Jurassic World” upgrade. To commemorate the day, the couple hoped to break the park’s record for most times the ride has been ridden in a single day; the record was set at 60. 

Universal Studios posted a video, on their YouTube channel, of the couple completing their 13-hour journey, on July 17th! On their 61st ride, Devin proposed to Chelsea by opening his Jurassic Park look-alike raincoat, under which was a shirt that read, “Chelsea will you marry me?” written in the classic Jurassic Park font. 

The ring’s box was a donated prop from Universal Pictures. An amber stone encased with a mosquito was inside a replica of the infamous Barbasol shaving cream can, the same that the film characters utilized for stealing dinosaur's DNA. 

 

This story originally appeared in https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/couple-gets-engaged-after-riding-jurassic-park-ride-a-record-62-times_us_5b8047c4e4b03485860047bd

 

August 29

Is it Too Early to Vote on

Bridezilla of the Millennium? 

By Lilli McHale

Culturess

I know it’s only 2018, but apparently Mercury being in Retrograde REALLY made one bride act like the ultimate Bridezilla. Last weekend, a twitter user posted screen-shot images of a post from a Facebook wedding shaming group. This woman called off her wedding four days before the big day because her wedding guests weren’t willing to succumb to her demands of $1,500, each, in order to attend her fairy-tale nuptials.  She actually said she wanted to be Kim Kardashian for a day.

After a childhood romance that turned long term, kid and all, this couple wished to have their fairy-tale wedding. When their $15,000 budget didn’t stretch as far she hoped it would, bridezilla turned to terrorizing her guests, maid of honors, and, worst of all, her fiancée. 

See the screen shots below for the full story.

 

https://www.elle.com/life-love/sex-relationships/a22838613/wedding-shaming-twitter-thread/

 

August 28

What Women Want (According to Hollywood)

By Lori Perkins

Warner Bros

Some marketing genius at Atom Tickets, a movie industry ticketing company, decided to release survey results on what women want to see in movies on August 26th, as part of their “celebration” of Women’s Equality Day.  In spite of that, the results are interesting.

Women like equality – imagine that. 

An overwhelming number of women said they prefer to see a female and male leads (90%) in the movies rather than an all-male or all-female cast.  Another 40% of women said that that they are still dissatisfied with how women are portrayed in blockbusters.

Ninety-five percent of women said they would like to see more women in filmmaking careers such as directing, producing, or writing, but only 12% said that they prefer seeing content created by female filmmakers. The majority of respondents said they didn't have a preference.

And the hottest female audience tickets for next years movies according to Atom Tickets are Aquaman, Venom and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Women ranked their favorite movie genres as 1) action/adventure, 2) comedy and 3) sci-fi/fantasy, which means they probably didn’t have romance as an option.

According to Atom Tickets' proprietary ticketing data, the following is a list of this year's top movies for each of the above genres that skewed the most female.

Top Action Movies:

1. Ocean's 8

2. The Spy Who Dumped Me

3. Skyscraper (I don’t know a single woman who wanted to see this) 

Top Comedy Movies:

1. Book Club

2. I Feel Pretty

3. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!

Top Sci Fi/Fantasy Movies:

1. A Wrinkle In Time

2. Maze Runner: The Death Cure

3. Rampage (again, not a chick flick in my opinion) 

Female movie fans also revealed their top picks for movies set to release later this year.

Overall, women are most excited to see the following top three films in theaters:

1. Aquaman

2. Venom

3. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Organized by their top three genres:

Top Action/Adventure Movies:

1. Aquaman

2. Venom

3. Robin Hood

Top Comedy Movies:

1. Night School

2. Holmes & Watson

3. Nobody's Fool

Top Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movies:

1. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

2. The Predator

3. The Nutcracker and The Four Realms

 

August 27

The Best Bad Book Reviews

By Lilli McHale

Every once in a while I get a note from an author I love showing me a bad review for a book we both know is pretty damn good.  Sometimes, the reviews are works of art unto themselves (and sometimes, the reviewer is just being a troll who is one-starring a book because s/he doesn’t like the content).  We laugh, we cry and I send them the Buzzfeed article titled “One Star Amazon Reviews of Classic Novels” which always makes them feel better.

 

But some of these reviews are really worth sharing, so I asked some of my writer friends to send in their favorite bad reviews.  I hope to run a round up of these best of bad reviews every few months, so please continue to send them in.

 

Louisa Bacio, who has been writing for close to a decade and published at least a dozen novels, sent me this note, “I received a one-star review on B&N for The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome. It read: ‘This book is not for children.’ That's for sure!”

 

The Circlet Treasury of Erotic Wonderland also received a Netgalley review somewhat like this saying “An uncomfortable read as the Alice in Wonderland references was what initially led me to read it, but in hindsight, I think sexualising a fantastic kids book is wrong.”

 

Author Morgan Rayne writes “I once had a review that sticks with me to this day. It was on my first book A Different Kind of Fairy Tale and the reader said, “my blind dog could write better.” I can laugh now, as it was sandwiched between six 5 star reviews, but at the time as a new author it was devastating.”

Vikki Romano sent me a note explaining, “I have one that is still listed with the book and it makes me laugh every time I read it.  It’s for my book Edge of Darkness.  The story is futuristic, about a military vet who had his brain augmented by the military and is hacked. The title of the review is ‘Vulgar romance set in the future’ which made me laugh from the get go considering there was absolutely no sex in this book.” 

 

It appears that the reviewer took issue with the book’s content.  “The reviewer, an adult male, was incensed that I had the hero mention his need to relieve some sexual tension, alone, in the shower.  That was all.  I don’t explain it in detail, I don’t show anything.  It is mentioned once and done.  Oh, and swearing.  Too much swearing.  Again, coming from a guy, this threw me.  The story is military-based and even my narrator, who is currently in the air force, said my dialogue is not only mild, but accurate.”

 

Romano went on, “The reviewer also mentions that the story was bad, but the synopsis was so good that he read it again.  Even after he said he hated it.  That’s a nice trick.” 

Should you need a good laugh, or an ego boost, below is a link to the above-mentioned article about one-star reviews for classic novels, as well as a second article on spectacularly bad book reviews.

 

 

https://www.buzzfeed.com/margaretmaurer/one-star-amazon-reviews-of-classic-novels-18660?utm_term=.ndpB2ae5Ag#.brXp97xB2Z

 

https://justpublishingadvice.com/wonderfully-bad-book-reviews/?utm_source=TW&utm_medium=Derek+Haines&utm_campaign=SNAP

 

August 26

It’s National Equality Day – Here’s Some Suggestions on How to Celebrate

By Lilli McHale

On August 26th the United States celebrates National Equality Day in order to commemorate the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote in 1920. National Equality Day was first celebrated in 1973 after New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug introduced a resolution to designate August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. 

As of 2017, every president since Richard Nixon has issued a proclamation designating August 26 as Women’s Equality Day.

 

Here are some ways to celebrate the women in your life: 

 

  • Spend time with the special women in your life 

  • Make a video of important women 

  • Make a scrap book of women who have impacted your life

  • Call the women in your life 

  • Join NOW

  • Support Planned Parenthood 

  • Donate menstrual or makeup products to a women’s shelter

  • Paint a portrait of yourself or other women in your life

  • Read your favorite feminist novel, by authors such as: Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Julia Ward Howe, Mary Wollstonecraft, Malala Yousafzai, Margaret Atwood, Kate Chopin, Louisa May Alcott and Octavia Butler.

  • Compliment a woman you see

  • Rewatch speeches from Women’s Equality Marches

  • Watch Emma Watson’s UN speech that launched “He for She” 

  • Watch Ted Talks on feminism such as: Chimamanda Ngozi, Tracee Ellis Ross and Roxanne Gay

  • Empower yourself by challenging yourself to something new, such as a new exercise, recipe, or going somewhere new. Read something new, write something new. 

  • Find a new girl crush 

  • Find a new favorite motivational quote 

  • Take your girl squad, or yourself, out for lunch 

  • Have good sex, even if it’s by yourself!

  • Listen to female anthems, artists such as: Nikki Minaj, Cardi B, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kesha and Aretha!

  • Watch female documentaries such as Iris, Kesha’s Rainbow: The Film, and Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold 

  • Print and handout equality day handouts. 

 

August 25

Dating Con Man Gets 24 Years in Prison When All The Women He Scammed Joined Forces

The Smoking Gun

By Lilli McHale

You know the crime has to be pretty bad for a 47 year-old white man to get a sentence of 24 years in jail.

 

This is the story of Derek Alldred, aka Derek Peterson, Richard Tailor, Ritchie Peterson, Richard Peterson, Derek Allred and Derek Allarad.  Over the course of eight years, he swindled more than a dozen women in five states out of a combined $1 million by pretending to be the man of their dreams.  He was their nightmare.

 

He found them on the internet, targeting divorced women over 40 on dating sites like OurTimes.com and Match.com and claiming to be a Navy pilot. University professor, vet, doctor, lawyer, Vegas real estate developer, etc. He wined and dined them, flying each successive new girlfriend to exotic vacations and taking them on boat trips, all paid for by the previous girlfriend, who didn’t know he had taken out credit cards in her name, or liquidated her retirement or savings account.

 

But it all came to a crashing halt when Minnesotan Missi Brandt found a fake ID in one of his other names in a wallet he had secreted away.  Things between them had been less than perfect, as he was constantly having to disappear for days for health and family drama.  When she goggled his new name, she found that he had posed as a firefighter and scammed hospitals out of drugs. She read that he had dated a California woman and stolen nearly $200,000. Under his alias, he had married another woman, pretended to pay the bills on their home and then disappeared when it was foreclosed on. The man of her dreams had impersonated a surgeon, checked into a swanky St. Louis hotel with a woman and her two daughters, charged up nearly $2,000 and then skipped out on the bill (and the woman).

 

In her heart, Missi knew there had to be even more women scammed by this man.  And she found them all. Together, they all worked against him and pressed charges in Minnesota. Some of the women found that they became friends, having this shared experience. They were able to testify against the con man who stole a chunk of their lives.

 

On August 22nd, Derek Alldred was sentenced to 24 years in jail for mail fraud and aggravated identity fraud and will have to pay $254,892.41 in restitution. He’ll be 71, when and if  he makes it out of prison.

 

Here’s a great recap of this story which I am sure we’re all going to see on Lifetime in the near future. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/04/our-time-com-con-man/554057/

 

August 24

Is 2018 the Year of the RomCom?

Warner Bros

By Lilli McHale

Everyone who loves romance was seeing Crazy Rich Asians this past week as the film tops the box office for a second week in a row.  It’s done so well that there has already been an announcement that a sequel is in the works.  And while this film has been heralded for featuring an entirely Asian cast (last time Hollywood did this was 25 years ago with The Joy Luck Club), it is also the crest of the RomCom wave that has been quietly building up on TV. 

 

Netflix announced that 2018 would be the “Summer of Love” with six new RomComs. The summer RomCom buzz started with Set It Up featuring two relatively unknown actors --  Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell—which has done so well that a sequel is already in development and Deutch was given the coveted role in Top Gun 2.

 

Netflix has also been investing in Young Adult RomCom. The Kissing Booth (based on the book by Beth Reckles), which was released in May, has become one of the network’s most watched films of all time in barely three months.

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (also based on a book by Jenny Han) was released six days ago, and has already received tremendous buzz and great reviews, and a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

 

In September, Netflix will launch Sierra Burgess, a contemporary teen retelling of Cyrano De Bergerac 

 

Netflix told the L.A. Times that is had made a massive investment in RomCom when they learned that 80 million accounts (two-thirds of Netflix's global audience) have watched a romance-themed movie in the last year.

 

By the end of the week, we’ll have anther RomCom to consume.  Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder reunite again in Destination Wedding. To All The Boys I’ve Loved is actually the first novel in a trilogy, so we can expect a sequel to that to be announced soon. October will bring us the latest version of A Star Is Born and November has J Lo In Second Act.

 

So, yes, even if we approach what might be the winter of our discontent we can say that love is all around us.

 

August 23

Michael Buble Says He Fell in Love with His Wife All Over Again After Their Son’s Liver Cancer Went into Remission

Michael Buble/ Instagram

By Lori Perkins

Michael Buble and his wife, Luisana Lopilato, have been battling their son Noah’s liver cancer since he was diagnosed at age two. Now, two years later, Noah is clear of cancer. Buble says that after the diagnosis, the couple’s life was flipped upside down.  

 

The two were only married for two years before the arrival of the first of their three children, Noah. It was only two more years before he was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, the same year their second son was born. 

The pair opened up about their son’s diagnosis via Facebook in 2016. The couple had to step away from their day jobs, singing for Michael and acting for Luisana, in order to take care of Noah. The parents are still struggling find ways to open up to the public to discuss the trauma of their experience. Buble wants to avoid talking about it so the family doesn’t have to relive the experience. 

However, Buble does see a bright side in the dark clouds. He says that everything he experiences is so much better now. The couple fell back in love again, after being through the very worst there is and he says there is nothing better than each other. 

After being told Noah was in remission, the pair welcomed their third child later the same year. When the couple found out it was a girl, Luisana literally shrieked. Their first daughter, Vida Amber Betty, was born this July and is named Vida for life. Lopilato says their hearts are filled with love and that they hope to welcome more children soon. 

 

This story originally appeared in https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/michael-bubl%C3%A9-says-he-fell-in-love-again-with-wife-after-sons-cancer-battle_us_5b7ad0aae4b018b93e961704

 

August 22

Did Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves

Get Married in 1992?

Columbia Pictures

By Lori Perkins

Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves have been working romantically together since the 90’s. The pair stared in Dracula in the 90’s and are now finishing up their latest collaboration, the romantic comedy Destination Wedding, which opens at the end of August. It turns out that their long-term relationship was no farce. The two might have actually gotten married when they were filming Dracula in 1992. 

According to Ryder, Francis Ford Coppola used a real Orthodox priest when shooting the master shot, and there were no cuts. The priest apparently performed the entire ceremony, thus the two were wed. Each side of the couple said their “I do’s,” so Ryder is pretty sure that the marriage was official. According to Ryder, Coppola was disappointed with the stylized version and thought a real wedding ceremony would be more aesthetically pleasing. 

Reeves says he didn’t remember the spectacle of the ceremony. How typical of the groom? Ryder, on the other hand, can pin down all the details. She even remembered the date of the shoot, Valentine’s Day! The two seem to have skipped the honeymoon, but still got to enjoy their own destination wedding in Romania. The couple get to, yet again, enjoy a scenic romantic destination with San Luis Obispo, California as the backdrop to their newest flick. 

The two worked to keep their relationship fresh with credits on 2006’s Scanner Darkly and then worked together again in 2009 on The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. Reeves recently joked that it was lovely to see his wife again while wooing her again throughout the filming of Destination Wedding. 

August 21

American Sexual Fantasies and

the Romance Market

Columbia Pictures

By Lori Perkins

In July, Dr. Justin Lehmiller published Tell Me What You Want, the results of a 4,000 person survey on American sexuality that asked 350 questions of adults aged 18 to 87, almost equally divided between men and women, and covering residents of all 50 states. While these results make for compelling reading in the vein of the classic My Secret Garden volumes by Nancy Friday, they are especially relevant for erotic romance readers and writers who are on the cutting edge of female sexuality.

 

While Middle America always seems surprised that fantasies of power play are an integral part of the American sexual psyche, readers of erotic fiction have known this way before the tsunami of popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey.  It is therefore no surprise to us that 60% of respondents have some sort of BDSM fantasy.

 

It is also no surprise to any readers of erotic romance that ménage is a leading fantasy among American women (89% of survey participants had threesome fantasies). Or that “we often become different people in our sexual fantasies.”  Shape shifter erotica anyone?

 

But this book is an essential read for anyone working in the erotic romance milieu, as it offers countless fantasies and explanations for their inspiration and genesis.  While the book is aimed at readers who might want to make sure that their fantasies are “normal,” it is an encyclopedia of honest, rich and creative fantasy for those of us working in this market.  It is written in an easily accessible language, well-organized and just plain fascinating.

 

Below is an interview with the author, who holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Purdue University.  He is a Research Fellow at the Kinsey Institute and the founder of the Sex and Psychology Blog, where he has become a sort of male Dear Abby with answers  grounded in rigorous science. 

 

You conducted one of the largest and most comprehensive scientific surveys of American sexual fantasies.  What was your most unexpected finding?

 

I found so many things that were fascinating and surprising.  One finding that was particularly interesting was the way that our sexual fantasies seem to change with age.  I found that threesomes and group sex were more popular fantasies among older adults, whereas passion and romance were more popular fantasies among younger adults. 

 

Did male and female responders have different desire?

 

Men and women were surprisingly similar in the types of things they fantasized about.  Indeed, many of the fantasies that are stereotyped as masculine (like threesomes) and feminine (like emotional fulfillment) were things that a majority of both men and women were fantasizing about.  However, there were some important differences that emerged.  For instance, women were more likely then men to fantasize about same-sex experiences, whereas men were more likely than women to have gender-bending fantasies (like crossdressing or having sex with a transsexual person). I also found that women were more likely to have fantasies about BDSM and to place more emphasis on where they were having sex: by contrast, men reported more taboo sexual fantasies and placed more emphasis on who they were having sex with.

 

What does a person’s sexual fantasies say about their personality?

 

My survey results suggest that people with different personalities tend to fantasize about very different things.  For example, people who are more extroverted and outgoing tended to have more fantasies about group sex and non-monogamy (after all, they like meeting new people!). Highly agreeable persons (i. e, those who have more care and concern  for the well-being of others) were less likely to fantasize about BDSM, infidelity and emotionless sex—a pattern that males a lot of sense because they don’t want to hurt anyone and they want to be sure that their partner is enjoying the sex.  Also, those who were more neurotic, meaning those who don’t handle stress well, were more likely to   include calming emotional content in their fantasies (like romance), while they were less likely to  fantasize about trying new things —in other words, neurotics’’ fantasies seemed to be designed to avoid stressing them out.  I discovered many more connections between our personalities and our fantasies, but it seems that, overall, our fantasies reflect who we are and they appear to be designed to meet our unique psychological needs.

 

Is there anything you’d like to add for this romance reading audience?

 

The only thing I would add is this: For people who are interested in reading and/or writing about romance, I think Tell Me What You Want will really resonate with them. I say this because my book offers a science-based perspective on what turns us on and why. This will likely help you to better appreciate why certain themes have been so popular and enduring in romance books and novels, while simultaneously offering inspiration for several new and exciting ideas. 

August 20

Romantic Comedy Comes to The Ripped Bodice

By Lori Perkins

Every third Thursday of the month, the only romance bookstore in the country hosts a Romantic Comedy night in Culver City, California. For free. With cupcakes and wine.

 

I was lucky enough to attend the stand up performance on the 16th, where a standing room only crowd heard the female-centric and LGBTQ-themed humor of five comedians—Keith Carey, Grayson Morris, Ana Valenzula, Valerie Tosi and Guy Branum, who was also there to sign his new just-published memoir My Life as a Goddess.

 

Sister storeowners Bea and Leah Koch explained how the comedy night came about. "Romantic Comedy has evolved into one of our favorite events to host at the store. Standup comedy hasn't always been particularly friendly to women and our show is a direct response to that attitude. With an audience that's generally about 90% women, it's a welcoming, feminist stage to preform on."

 

The show is produced by Erin Judge and Jenny Chalikian who handle all the booking, and is always on the third Thursday of the month. Next month’s lineup is not set yet, but if you keep an eye on romcomshow.tumblr.com, the set will be published about a week before the show.

 

And, on top of all this great feminist comedy space, attendees for the evening get a 10% discount on such fabulous treats as gift wrapped mass market titles with description of the plot, signed author copies, and an entire wall of previously owned mass market novels.  

 

The store is located at 3806 Main Street in Culver City and is open late from 8:00-10:00 p.m. on comedy nights.

 

All I have to say is this was such a delightful and empowering night of fun, that I can’t wait until they open the New York City franchise.

August 19

Giving Your Liver and Finding Your Heart

By Lori Perkins

When Heather Krueger was told she had only a 50% chance of living through the next two months, due to her stage IV cancer diagnosis, she was devastated. Then a miracle happened; his name was Chris Dempsey.

When Chris Dempsey, a former Marine, heard one of his co-workers talking about their cousin who would die of cancer unless she received a liver transplant, he offered to help. His Marine Corps training taught him to never run away from any challenge and he wanted to help in any way possible. Despite not knowing anything about Kruger, Dempsey got tested to see if he was a possible match for the transplant. By some miracle, Dempsey was a perfect match and decided that he would risk his own life to undergo the serious surgery, where 55% of his liver was removed to be placed in Kruger’s body. 

When Krueger found out she had found a match and would be receiving a transplant, she hung up the phone and started to cry with her mother. They were both in disbelief by this man’s generosity. The two arranged to have lunch, before the surgery would take place, to get to know each other, and developed a friendship. Dempsey iterated that she owed him nothing and could part amicably after the surgery. 

After the successful operation, Krueger knew he meant something special to her and the two kindled a romance. Dempsey proposed in December of 2015 in Chicago and the two were happily married in October of 2016, a date Krueger never thought she would see.

 

This article originally appeared here, https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/relationships/news/a41127/couple-met-man-donated-liver-complete-stranger/

August 18

Today is the Most Popular

Wedding Day of the Year in America

By Lilli McHale

According to a recent article in Bloomberg News, 8/18/2018 is the most popular wedding day of the year with almost 30,000 couples scheduled to marry on this date in the U.S., which is ironic because I am attending the wedding of my cousin’s oldest son on this date.

 

According to a survey published by The Knot, guests will spend  an estimated $1 billion on gifts and attire for wedding events on this day alone. The average wedding includes 136 guests, who spend an average of $261 on gifts and attire (quite a bit more if travel is involved. And/or they are part of a wedding party).

After August18th, Saturday, Oct. 6th, is the second most popular wedding date for 2018, with 24,359 weddings planned, according to The Knot

“A lot of couples picked [the date because] it’s a palindrome month—8-1-8-1-8,” said Ivy Jacobson, senior editor at The Knot. They also added that September is the most popular month to exchange vows (165,157 weddings scheduled), followed by October (152,521) and June (135,140).

Gifs for the happy couple have changed a lot since the days of Four Weddings and a Funeral.  The most popular gift is an iRobot Roomba, according to Amazon, followed by the KitchenAid stand mixer, Ninja blender, Dyson vacuum and an air fryer. Of course, the newlyweds always appreciate cash and checks.

August 17

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia Celebrate

Their Ten-Year Wedding Anniversary

Ellen and Portia have been giving the LGBTQ+ community a glimpse at the triumphs of same-sex marriage for the past 10 years. The two met backstage at an award show in 2004, and have been together since. Ellen proposed with a three-carat diamond ring, after the same-sex marriage ban was lifted in California. Only two months after getting engaged, the two were married on August 16th 2008, in a small ceremony wedding in their home in Beverly Hills. Ellen believed a big wedding would be too stressful. The two had only 19 guests and their animals, currently four dogs and three cats. The pair have been vegans since 2008 and have adopted several animals together while promoting the organizations such as ASPCA and the Digital Fund. 

Portia changed her last name to DeGeneres and has become an American citizen (she was Australian), thanks to the marriage. As for kids, the pair has no plans to include them in their lives, despite the solidarity of their relationship. When asked why, Ellen replied that they have too much glass in their house. The two love interior design and flipping houses. Ellen, who never had a house as a kid and grew up living in rentals, wanted her first purchase, once she became successful, to be a house. Portia joked that she never stopped buying them. The pair have completed many interior design and flipping houses projects together. 

As for the divorce rumors that circulate constantly, the couple are just excited to be accepted into the conversation with the rest of the celebrity couples. The two don’t exchange gifts, saying they have all they could possibly want. 

Cheers to 10 love-filled years, and hopefully many more to come! 

By Lori Perkins

August 16

Confessions of A Secret Romantic

By Sandy Lu

For the longest time, I have stated that I am not interested in representing romance. As an agent, I feel that I can only properly represent a genre if I also read it for pleasure, and I have not read a romance novel since my early teen years. 

 

My first encounter with romance novels was when I was about 13, when a Harlequin salesman came knocking on our door in Taiwan and somehow convinced my father that getting a subscription was a good way for me to be exposed to American literature. Since the covers of these novels featured historically dressed, respectful-looking couples, neither one of us had any idea what he was getting me into.  Imagine my shock and thrills when I discovered what really happened between the covers! Growing up in a traditional Chinese family, my parents never gave me the birds and the bees talk. In fact, whenever there was kissing on screen, my mom would tell my brother and me to cover our eyes. Unlike my brother, I, the obedient child, never peeped. 

 

Needless to say, these Harlequin novels became my sex-ed primers. I shared my new revelations with my best friend, and they became our obsession. We would read them under the cover with a flashlight way past our bedtime and sneak peeks at passages under a textbook in class. Soon the subscription was not enough, and we started finding more in the neighborhood book rental store (that was actually a thing in Taiwan— for a nickel each, you could binge on all the manga and “trashy” novels the library wouldn’t carry.) Soon we graduated to the more scandalous kind of romance novels, and their covers reflected the lovers’ true passions accordingly. 

 

One night I didn’t turn off the flashlight fast enough when my mom came into my room. She snatched the book out of my hand, took one look at the cover, and almost had a heart attack. I was in serious trouble—the kind that required my father to deal with when he came home. It took all my wits to get out of that one: After she left, I buried the books with half-dressed heroines on the covers under a pile of fully clothed ones and hid the ones with the most debauched covers in bed and lay on top of them, then proceeded to wait. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever had to do—lying there as the hours went by, heart pounding, pretending to be sound asleep when my dad finally got in and my mom showed him the evidence of my crime. He picked up the books from the top of the pile and laughed. These are nothing! They’re from the Harlequin subscription I got her. My mom tried to explain that the one she found was not among them, and sure enough I felt the mattress move slightly as her fingers searched underneath, just as I predicted. She let out a frustrated grumble that I must be hiding it in bed with me, but my dad thought she was overreacting and told her not to wake me. It was all I could do to continue to feign sleep. Whew!

 

My dad never mentioned this incident afterwards, but my mom was not so easily fooled. She started looking at me like she knew what I was up to, like she knew I was no longer her innocent little girl. I suspect that was another reason why she sent me to an all-girls boarding school the next semester, as the school had a strict policy against any extra-curriculum reading materials. That was the end of my love affair with romance novels.

 

Perhaps it was the suppressed trauma caused by that sudden breakup, or I simply grew out of the puberty curiosity, or maybe because sex was so prevalent everywhere in America that it no longer provoked hidden thrills (we moved to New York when I was 16 and it was quite a culture shock,) I never renewed my passion for romance novels. On the contrary, as a lover of crime novels and male-centered books like American Psycho and Lolita, I adopted the same prejudice many such readers have for romance novels and thought them too formulaic to be satisfying reads. I especially despised the love-at-first-sight convention, which I never believed in. Therefore, after I became an agent, I proudly stated on my submission guidelines: no romance, please.

 

That is, until my conversation with Louise Fury, a big romance lover who never stopped trying to entice me to take on romance (and trust me, she can be very persuasive.) At some point she made me realize that despite my claims, many of my favorite YA authors—Robin LaFevers, Sherry Thomas, Laini Taylor, Morgan Rhodes, are all romance writers. And even though their YA novels are not necessarily romance in genre, they are romance in essence. This gave me pause. 

 

I started to ponder why I love these authors so much. They write in very different styles, but what they have in common is that they are all experts at building mounting tensions between their characters with clever, twisty plotlines and misdirection that have me biting my knuckles, breathlessly turning the pages until the misunderstandings are elegantly resolved in the final act and the impossible conflicts give way to a happy ending that I in principle don’t believe in but root for in secret. Essentially, I love them for the same reason I love my favorite suspense writers. In that sense, I realize, romance is really not that different from mysteries and thrillers. 

 

In fact, given the restrictive story arc, romance writers have an even tougher job: instead of one brilliant protagonist who can solve the crime or defeat the villain without necessarily being likeable, romance writers have to create two main characters who the readers must be emotionally invested in and bring them together from opposite ends of an impossible obstacle.

 

And who was I to look down on romance as a lesser genre? After all, aren’t Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice classic literature just like Crime and Punishment and Dracula? Didn’t I adore them just as much, if not more? It’s about time I put aside my bias and open myself up to romance. So, romance writers, send me your submissions! I am ready to be seduced.

 

Sandy Lu is the senior agent at the L. Perkins Agency and can be reached at Sandy@lperkinsagency.com.

August 15

The Power of Paying It Forward

with a Simple Cup of Coffee

19-year old Kent State student, Mackenzie Mauller, of Union Town, Ohio, has had her coffee bought for her in the past and wanted to pay it forward. So, she bought coffee for the women behind her in the Starbuck’s drive-thru.  

Nicole Clawson, the woman she bought coffee for, was the mother of two young children. Clawson said she almost never treats herself to coffee but did do because she had to call out of work for the day as her alternate babysitter had called in sick and her usual babysitter, her father, had just died. She stated that she was not financially or emotionally ready to become a stay-at-home mom but had to soon fill that role, as she has no one to watch her kids. The stress of her life and the kindness extended to her by Mauller brought Clawson to tears. 

 

When she looked up through her tears, Clawson then noticed that her Good Samaritan’s car had pulled into her neighborhood and the owner lived only a few doors away from her. 

After the kindness extended to Clawson from Mauller, Clawson wanted Mauller to understand just how much her gesture had meant. So, Clawson and her children, three and six years old, wrote thank you notes and put them in Mauller’s mailbox. 

Mauller, in turn, went door to door to find out where Clawson lived to meet her in person. 

After Mauller tweeted about the thank you notes, the tweet went viral and twitter users have sent her over $150, which she gave to Clawson in the form of a Starbucks gift card. Additionally, she has extended her babysitting services to help with her children.

Mauller’s actions have additionally inspired Clawson’s young children who now want to pay it forward. 

This article originally appeared https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/mothers-thank-note-teen-bought-coffee-goes-viral-turned-whole-day-around-214602148.html

By Lilli McHale

August 14

Battling Trolls and Cyberbullies as an Author

By Isabelle Drake

There are times when being ‘out there’ isn’t so great. Recently, I’ve been talking with fellow writers about their online experiences and repeatedly heard tales of two online creatures that are at minimum annoying and at worst traumatizing. What are these virtual animals? Trolls and cyberbullies. 

 

These invisible beasts aren’t the same. They’re motivated by different goals and appear in the writer’s virtual life for different reasons. Unchecked, virtual attacks can do more than soak up chunks of time and patience. They can damage an author’s reputation, spirit, and creativity.

 

Troll attacks aren’t personal. The troll seeks to disrupt an online community or ongoing conversation. The more positive or meaningful the troll perceives the online environment to be; the more motivated they are to damage it. Ironically, it’s for this reason that the presence of a troll in an author’s online community is an indicator that the author has created a cohesive, vital online community.

Trolls

Most everyone agrees that trolls exist. Authors I spoke with were comfortable discussing trolls and the consequence of trolling behavior. Even the self-proclaimed trolls were willing to discuss their behavior. “I love to make people dance,” said one, laughing, when describing the enjoyment she got out of tormenting strangers online. “It’s hilarious how upset they get.” 

When I asked another what she got out of disrupting people’s conversations, she told me about her fake profile, giggling as said she didn’t really know. “They don’t have to stay there (in the online community),” she reasoned. “Whatever I do to them is their own fault.”

Arguing with a troll is not likely to be successful. The committed troll operates under a cloak of deception and truth is irrelevant. In fact, truth and openness are contrary to the troll’s persona and goals. Arguing with a troll gives them additional satisfaction because the argument is proof of their success. What to do? Delete their comments and move on. Followers in your online community will recognize the troll for what they are and generally, the troll’s long-term effect is minimal.

Cyberbullies

For authors, trolls are a hassle, but not as harmful as cyberbullies. Cyberbully attacks are personal. The cyberbully engages in intentional, targeted harassment and seeks to cause direct psychological pain. Authors who’ve been cyberbullied don’t need to be told the emotional pain caused by virtual harassment is equal to ‘real life’ bullying. For the working writer, who must be online 24/7, it may be an even greater source of distress. The cyberbully can attack any time and through multiple channels. 

Authors I spoke with told me about being anxious in the morning because they were afraid to see what chaos had been created overnight. Those with day jobs spoke about day-long anxiety as they worried about what they’d find when they logged in at lunch or during breaks.  Knowing that this constant damage was being done by someone they knew, a so-called friend or relative, complicated things. If they rebuffed them, asked for support from others who also knew the bully or blocked the disrupter, other so-called friends and relatives connected to the bully would minimize the victim’s pain and professional damage and step in to ‘resolve’ the ‘misunderstanding.’ 

Cyberbullying is one of those things that happens but nobody wants to talk about. Writers I spoke with were hesitant to admit it’d happened to them, and those who did share their experiences were reluctant to talk about the details. It became clear to me that the harm done to the writer’s reputation is easier to deal than the personal pain caused by toxic shame. 

Toxic Shame

‘Toxic’ shame isn’t the same as guilt that comes from choosing to do something later regretted. Toxic shame occurs when a person has been exposed in a way they weren’t prepared for or in a way that’s too intimate. In this case, the so-called friend or relative has invaded an author’s public space in a way that intentionally humiliates and crosses boundaries. This isn’t the same as basic stress. Toxic shames creates feelings of inadequacy and lack of emotional and intellectual safety. This combination of mental wounds not only weakness confidence but also stunts creativity. 

My sense, if it feels like bullying it probably is. Trust yourself. Don’t try to reason with the bully. They know they’re causing harm. Don’t waste time trying to figure why the person is doing it. Why they’re doing it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they’re intentionally hurting you. Talk about how the situation with one or two close friends and silently block the bully on all social media. Be patient with yourself and understand healing from the attack may take time.

These virtual beasts aren’t going to do anyone the favor of staying in their invisible liars. Acknowledging what these creatures are, understanding what they want, and having a plan of action for when battling with them can be a useful tool in an author’s kit.

Writing professor Melissa Ford Lucken writes as Isabelle Drake. She regularly presents on author branding and strategic, online self-promotion. She has published more than 55 novels, novellas, and short stories. She has also published academic work and is a faculty chair at Lansing Community College. Her academic areas of interest include composition and curriculum development. 

August 13

Burger King Experiments with the “Pink Tax”

on its Chick Fry

Burger King’s president Christopher Finazzo has decided he has had enough of the pink tax, where products aimed at women are charged more than those geared towards a male audience.  He wanted to make a stand. So naturally he decided to use one of Burger King’s most popular items to prove a point. 

In a clever marketing scheme, Burger King created the “chick fry” which is identical to the original chicken fry, but with a twist; it costs almost double and comes in a pink box with eyelashes. The traditional chicken fry sells for $1.69, while the “chick fry” sells for $3.09. 

While female customers complained about paying extra for the same food as their male counterparts, employees asked customers if they complained to those who sold them products marked up due to the “pink tax.” Most customers were speechless. 

On average, females spend about $1,351 more a year on everyday products such as:  shampoo, conditioner, razors, shaving cream, body wash and deodorant. If women aren’t getting ripped off on price, they’re getting ripped off in volume; even if the prices are the same, the amount of product is often smaller in volume.

There is legislation before Congress, introduced April 10th, which was National Equal Pay Day, to repeal the pink tax. 

Wouldn’t equality be romantic? 

 

This article appeared here,
https://nowthisnews.com/videos/money/burger-king-raises-awareness-about-pink-tax

By Lilli McHale

August 12

August 12

Yes, Yes Nanette

Yes, Yes Nanette

By Lilli McHale

Everyone is talking about the Nanette comedy special by Tasmanian lesbian comedian Hannah Gadsby, which quietly landed on Netflix about two weeks ago and has been getting the kind of buzz I can only remember for 50 Shades.  “Have you seen Nanette?  What do you think?”

 

Now you may already be asking yourself, “What the hell does this have to do with romance?” and you’d be surfacely justified, but in this age of #MeToo and TimesUp, everything in the life of contemporary women has to do with romance, or the total lack thereof.  And it’s time we, as romance readers, start connecting the dots (as Hannah Gadsby does brilliantly in this performance).

 

So, back to Nanette. This made headlines because the comedian said she was doing this comedy special to announce that she was leaving comedy, and then, to her surprise, the powerful, gut-retching and side-splitting performance she gave was so timely and honest that it literally launched an international career that she could never have imagined. So, of course, she is not quitting comedy (there’s your HEA).

 

Ok, so, if you haven’t seen this special (and maybe even if you have) let me tell you why it’s so perfectly zeitgeisty.

 

We have grown accustomed to female comedians doing their shticks about dating, marriage, children, shopping, their bodies, each other, men, etc.  We expect the humor to be self-deprecating.  If there’s any anger at all, it is usually aimed at ourselves, or society, or the patriarchy. And women on stage usually don’t get very angry because we have been told a thousand times that angry women aren’t fun or funny.

 

So here comes Hannah, a bordering on middle-age out lesbian who makes it clear to us that she doesn’t care what we think of how she looks because she’s spent the whole of her life not fitting in as a girl, as a woman, as a comedian, and even, sometimes, as a lesbian. We’ve laughed a few times because we’re trying to get to know her, and she’s being so incredibly forthright that we think we know where this is going… and then she just completely takes us elsewhere…a place we weren’t even thinking we would go on a comedy special.

 

And she does it so eloquently with a lesson from art history featuring Van Gogh and Picasso (and I have an art history degree, so this really got me where I live).

 

And where she takes us is to her teenage rape, but she does not dwell there.  She dares us to see her as so many men over the centuries have seen her and most women they encounter as objects for their pleasure telling us about 50-odd year-old Picasso’s bon mot about how his 17 year old lover was at her prime, as was he.  And Hannah then double dog dares us to see her for who she really is – a middle aged out Tasmanian lesbian – who is only now in her prime.

And then she utters this line (you will quote forever), "There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who's rebuilt herself." 

 

Just so powerful.

 

There has never been another comedy performance like it.

 

I hope it sets the bar.

 

Now, go watch that special again. Grab some friends and watch it. 

Everyone is talking about the Nanette comedy special by Tasmanian lesbian comedian Hannah Gadsby, which quietly landed on Netflix about two weeks ago and has been getting the kind of buzz I can only remember for 50 Shades.  “Have you seen Nanette?  What do you think?”

 

Now you may already be asking yourself, “What the hell does this have to do with romance?” and you’d be surfacely justified, but in this age of #MeToo and TimesUp, everything in the life of contemporary women has to do with romance, or the total lack thereof.  And it’s time we, as romance readers, start connecting the dots (as Hannah Gadsby does brilliantly in this performance).

 

So, back to Nanette. This made headlines because the comedian said she was doing this comedy special to announce that she was leaving comedy, and then, to her surprise, the powerful, gut-retching and side-splitting performance she gave was so timely and honest that it literally launched an international career that she could never have imagined. So, of course, she is not quitting comedy (there’s your HEA).

 

Ok, so, if you haven’t seen this special (and maybe even if you have) let me tell you why it’s so perfectly zeitgeisty.

 

We have grown accustomed to female comedians doing their shticks about dating, marriage, children, shopping, their bodies, each other, men, etc.  We expect the humor to be self-deprecating.  If there’s any anger at all, it is usually aimed at ourselves, or society, or the patriarchy. And women on stage usually don’t get very angry because we have been told a thousand times that angry women aren’t fun or funny.

 

So here comes Hannah, a bordering on middle-age out lesbian who makes it clear to us that she doesn’t care what we think of how she looks because she’s spent the whole of her life not fitting in as a girl, as a woman, as a comedian, and even, sometimes, as a lesbian. We’ve laughed a few times because we’re trying to get to know her, and she’s being so incredibly forthright that we think we know where this is going… and then she just completely takes us elsewhere…a place we weren’t even thinking we would go on a comedy special.

 

And she does it so eloquently with a lesson from art history featuring Van Gogh and Picasso (and I have an art history degree, so this really got me where I live).

 

And where she takes us is to her teenage rape, but she does not dwell there.  She dares us to see her as so many men over the centuries have seen her and most women they encounter as objects for their pleasure telling us about 50-odd year-old Picasso’s bon mot about how his 17 year old lover was at her prime, as was he.  And Hannah then double dog dares us to see her for who she really is – a middle aged out Tasmanian lesbian – who is only now in her prime.

And then she utters this line (you will quote forever), "There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who's rebuilt herself." 

 

Just so powerful.

 

There has never been another comedy performance like it.

 

I hope it sets the bar.

 

Now, go watch that special again. Grab some friends and watch it. 

By Lilli McHale

August 11

Bridezilla Requests Bridesmaid Be Replaced

There are women who wait their entire lives to celebrate their love to someone else with their besties… and then there’s bridezilla. 

You look in the mail and there it is, your invite to your best friend’s wedding. Oh, and wait, there’s more! She’s asked you to join her in celebrating her special day. You mean so much to her that she’s requested you act as one of her ladies in waiting and worship her on her entire wedding day. 

But what do you do when it’s not just a day, it’s an entire weekend? And it’s not just your presence the bride wants, but your apt attention for the entire weekend, or you’re out. 

That’s exactly what happened to former bridesmaid Courtney Duffy, who was in the midst of studying for her Dartmouth MBA. Bridezilla Alex decided that Courtney’s flight out on the same day as the wedding was just unacceptable and voiced her opinion, after Courtney had already booked her flight. Alex replied that she was glad Courtney had booked her flight and asked her for one more favor: to no longer be her bridesmaid. Alex told Courtney that since she couldn’t take part in the Bachelorette party, wedding prep, and the full wedding day experience that she wouldn’t be able to fulfill her bridesmaid duties. 

But Courtney, don’t fret. Alex is not mad at you, she just wants to replace you with someone else, someone not as important as you are in her life, or she would have asked them first. And Courtney, if you’re worried about finding somewhere else to wear that expensive bridesmaid’s outfit you also already paid for, Alex’s new bridesmaid will Venmo you for it, and its postage, since you’re only passively aggressively still invited to the wedding. 

Courtney has since contacted her flight provider to ask for a ticket refund, which they said they would gladly swap for a sponsored girls’ trip with Alex when, and if, the two work it out. 

By Lilli McHale

August 10

Every Day Romance

Woman Wears Engagement Ring for a Year Without Knowing It

By Lilli McHale

Terry Dougherty knew he wanted to make his proposal to his girlfriend, Anna, special. In order to celebrate their one-year anniversary, Terry hand-crafted a necklace out of Huon pine with wood from Tanzania. Anna wore the necklace for an entire year and never took it off. 

Anna’s relationship with the necklace changed in November of 2016 when Terry knew it was time to propose, while in Smoo Cave in Scotland. ‘Smoo’ derives from an old Norse word that meant ‘hiding place’ and had been a place that they two had wanted to visit ever since they met. 

In order to be subtle, Terry asked Anna if he could have the necklace to take photos of it with the rocks from the cave.  This allowed him to break the seal on the secret compartment he had carved in the wood, where he had placed an engagement ring. Terry got down on one knee with the ring and necklace in hand. Anna said yes and was shocked that she had been wearing her own engagement ring, before she had ever realized it. 

 

This story originally appeared https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/relationships/news/a44149/woman-wore-engagement-ring-without-knowing/

August 9

Free Mom Hugs: Need a Mother of the Groom

for Your LGBTQ Wedding?

Conservative Christian mother, Sara Cunningham, went Facebook viral this July, after offering to be people’s mother at same sex weddings, when the couples’ biological mothers won’t attend. She jokingly said she’ll be their biggest fan and is willing to bring the bubbles. Her post blew up with people sharing their stories and many asking her to attend their weddings. Currently, she has over 130 messages in her inbox. 

 

Cunningham became immersed in the LGBTQ+ community after her son came out as gay.  As a woman of faith in the mid-west, Cunningham admits that the confession left her confused and torn on how to understand this. She almost felt as though she had to choose between her child and her faith. After finding a group of moms who were also negotiating faith and their children’s sexuality, she came to realize that her acceptance is rooted in love. Her realization was cemented after she and her husband attended their first Pride parade, in Oklahoma City. She came to understand that her homophobia was driven by ignorance and fear. After her first pride, Cunningham came back the next year with her own pin, “Free Mom Hugs.” She offered anyone hugs and high fives. During her interactions with the community, she heard horrific stories of familiar rejections, which helped spawn her viral post. 

 

Cunningham, influenced by the group of women who supported her and her experiences at Pride, has since created her own Facebook page specifically for mothers with LGBTQ+ children, “Free Mom Hugs.” Her blog has spiraled a memoir on acceptance entitled, How We Sleep at Night: A Mother’s Memoir. She also has been ordained as a minister so that she can officiate same-sex weddings and has performed 12 so far. 

 

https://womenintheworld.com/2018/07/27/formerly-homophobic-womans-offer-to-serve-as-a-mom-at-same-sex-weddings-draws-magnificent-response/

 

 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sara-cunningham-oklahoma-free-mom-hugs-same-sex-weddings-stand-in-mother/

By Lilli McHale

August 8

A Funny Thing Happened

on the Way from My Divorce

By Lori Perkins

Michele Traina, a regular at Caroline’s on Broadway and various East Coast comedy clubs, has put together a comedy showcase where performers share their amusing divorce stories and is now collecting anecdotes like these into an anthology with Riverdale Avenue Books.

 

Divorce Diaries is a comedic journey examining families, careers, and love before, during, and after divorce.  In this anthology, writers, actors and comedians share how they, their family or friends have been touched by divorce, and replaced their tears with laughter. 

 

Michele Traina said, “Divorce led me to uncover different facets of my life and affected my journey as a stand-up comic. I live with my parents, make fish sticks for dinner and I’m far from the average soccer mom. But I enjoy my daughter’s silly moments and show her how to find the humor in life's roughest.” 

 

The collection is intended to inspire the reader, and motivate them through any life-transition. Reminding them to laugh because nothing is perfect forever, and remember that you have the power to change your life.  

 

The anthology is looking for humorous prose in the 1,500 to 5,000 word range.  Please include a short bio with your submission.  If you are on the East Coast, you might be asked to bring your routine to the stage.  Please send submissions to: submissions@riverdaleavebooks.com, attn: Divorce Diaries.

 

Deadline for submission is September 9.  Publication will be November 1, 2018

August 7

Every Day Romance:

Love Will Find a Way – 60 Years Apart

Anna Kozlov married Boris, the man of her dreams, in 1946 in a small village in Russia. The two met when Boris, the secretary of the Young Communists, had to make a speech in Anna’s village. Anna stood there with her friends while Boris couldn’t tear his eyes away from her. He believed her to be too beautiful for words. The two married quickly, as there was no time or money in those war-torn days. 

 

Three days after the wedding, Boris’ Red Army unit moved him away from their village, and when he got back, Anna was gone. 

 

Anna’s father had been taken away for refusing to work in Stalin’s collective farms. The state unit who collected Anna’s father quickly caught up with her, as well. Anna and her family were considered enemies and were exiled to Siberia. Anna considered suicide rather than give up her husband, but her mother wouldn’t hear of it. Boris didn’t know what happened to his bride but hoped that she someday she would return. 

 

Anna’s mother quickly forced a new husband on her young daughter. After burning all relics from her daughter’s first marriage, Anna’s mother slapped her and told her a man was coming to meet her. If she was lucky, this man would marry her, and he eventually did. 

 

Boris remarried as well, never forgetting his first wife. After becoming a writer, Boris dedicated a book to the first woman he had married. 

 

After the downfall of the U.S.S.R., Anna finally travelled back home. One day Anna watched a man climb out of a car, near her former home and thought she was going crazy.  Standing In front of her was Boris, the same man she had married 60 years ago. 

 

Boris felt the same way he did nearly 60 years before, stating she was the love of his life. He even proposed again. At first Anna refused, but he was persistent and the two became newlyweds 60 years later. 

 

 

 

This story originally appeared in The Telegraph: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1575382/Russian-couple-reunited-after-60-years-apart.html

By Lori Perkins

August 6

Unfinished Jane Austen Novel to be Mini-series

at PBS

By Lori Perkins

PBS and Masterpiece Theater (among others including the BBC) are joining forces to bring us the unfinished Jane Austen novel Sanditon to the small screen in an eight-part TV series.

 

The incomplete Austen novel was 11 chapters at the time of Austen’s death in 1817 and will be developed by Emmy and BAFTA-Award winning writer Andrew Davies who adapted Pride and Prejudice to film in 1995 starring Colin Firth (yes, THAT Pride and Prejudice) as well as War & Peace, Mr. Selfridge, and Les Misérables. 

Sanditon is the story of a spirited Charlotte Heywood and her relationship with the rakish but charming Sidney Parker. When happenstance takes her from her rural hometown to the soon-to-be expanding seaside town of the title, she is exposed to the ins and outs and goings on of a much ore complex social world. Clever plot twists bring viewers to the London underbelly and West Indies, as well as the secrets of each character. In the course of discovering these revelations, Charlotte finds out who she really is ...and who she really loves (of course).

“Jane Austen managed to write only a fragment of her last novel before she died – but what a fragment!” commented Andrew Davies in a Masterpiece press release.

ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill added: “It’s a rich, romantic, family saga built upon the foundations Jane Austen laid.”

Casting will be announced in the near future, with filming expected to commence in Spring 2019.

August 5

Everyday Romance:

Posing for a Wedding Photoshoot Turned into the Real Thing

Amanda Semmence and Kieron Dudley worked together for years before they got thrown together to take a wedding photoshoot at their place of employment, the Dunston Hall Hotel. In 2004, the two were selected as a picture-perfect couple for the front cover of their job’s wedding brochure. Hotel goers looked on and commented on how perfect the pair looked as a couple. 

 

Semmence, despite being the hall’s wedding coordinator, did not select the groom, the conference and banquet manager, for the photoshoot.  While there was an undeniable connection between the two, nothing happened until Semmence left the job in 2005. Two months later, Dudley fired up the connection.  He wanted to get to know her better, after she looked stunning in the photoshoot. Despite reservations about things being awkward, the two went out for dinners together and started to date. Things escaladed, and the two moved in together. Within a month of moving to Norwich together, the two became engaged. 

 

Three years after the photoshoot, the two are officially getting married. The wedding will take place at Norwich Assembly house, before the reception at their photoshoot setting, the De Vere Dunston Hall hotel. 

Semmence believes the wedding site is fitting, as it brought them together. 

This article originally appeared here, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-473490/Couple-posed-newlyweds-hotel-wedding-brochure-marry-real.html

By Lilli McHale

August 3

Bigfoot Erotica Breaks Out

By Lori Perkins

I looked up, and “Bigfoot Erotica” was trending. WTF?

 

A conservative candidate for a Virginia Congressional seat, Denver Riggelman, was recently outed by his Democratic opponent for his appreciation of Bigfoot erotica (he wrote “nonfiction” on this subject) and suddenly this sub-genre of monster loving is trending on Twitter and the punchline of many late night jokes.

 

Bigfoot erotica is nothing to make fun of. One of my favorite authors, Trinity Blacio, has a female yeti as the central character in After Hours on Bourbon Street, the eighth novel in her Running in Fear series (about an intergalactic paring of supernaturals and the humans who love them). It is simply part of the overall trend to feature other worldly alpha males with human women who ultimately tame the savage beast. 

 

The Bigfoot erotica that is getting all the attention usually features a rather well-endowed Bigfoot. An example often cited is the self-published Cum for Bigfoot by Virginia Wade (2011), who told The Daily Beast that she was making $30,000 a month on Amazon selling her novels in her monster sex series. The author took a break from writing Bigfoot erotica, but returned to her calling in January of this year with more Namaste for Sasquatch, which is the first in her new four-book Sasquatch smut series titled Monsters in the Woods. And there are a number of additional authors who seem to be succeeding publishing in this outsize alpha male terrain.

 

So who knows. if Denver Riggelman doesn’t win the election, he might turn his treatise on this subject Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Women Want Him (this is a real book he authored, folks) into his own self-published erotic romance series.

August 2

Suzanne Brockmann Launches Kickstarter Campaign for Movie Based on Her Latest M/M Novel,

Out of Body

Just days after delivering a blistering speech at the annual Romance Writers of America convention where she called out RWA for their past history of non-inclusion, NY Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann announced a Kickstater campaign to crowd fund the movie adaptation of her latest m/m romance novel Out of Body.

 

Out of Body is a contemporary m/m novel featuring the classic friends-to-lovers romantic plot device with a supernatural twist that was published by Suzanne Brockmann Books in July.  

 

Brockmann, and her son, Jason T. Gafney, have written and produced a number of LGBTQ indie feature movies including the 2012 rom-com The Perfect Wedding, and the 2018 thriller Russian Doll. Their latest movie, a rom-com called Analysis Paralysis will be screening at film festivals this fall. 

 

Out of Body, written by Brockmann and starring both Gaffney and Kevin Held, is currently in pre-production and will begin filming this September. 

 

If you would like to be part of the community that makes this film possible, visit their crowd-funding via Kickstarter campaign.

 

Brockmann and Gafney showed a trailer of their current project, Analysis Paralysis, at the RWA convention in Denver. Gafney then introduced his mother to the audience before Brockmann delivered her Lifetime Achievement Award speech, where she connected the dots between being the mother of a gay son and writing for a romance industry that insisted that there be no gay characters in her books. “I would not write books set in a world where gay people—where you—were rendered invisible, where you were erased “’because that’s just the way it was’” Brockmann told the audience, as she challenged them to ““Stand up. Speak up. Fight. VOTE. Our lives, our rights, our marriages, our love depends on it.”

 

Brockmann’s entire speech, along with her son Jason’s heartfelt introduction, can be viewed on YouTube as part of the Romance Writers of America’s Rita Award Ceremony 2018, link: https://youtu.be/T1fO_1rLDsA. Jason’s intro starts at about 46:30 minutes in, with Brockmann taking the stage soon after.

By Lori Perkins

August 1

The Best Online Dating Story

By Lilli McHale

Online dating really does work. 

After spending more than 25 years away from each other, summer camp sweethearts reconnected after Evan Leach sent a ‘wink’ to Kim Kuhl on Match.com. While Leach didn’t recognize Kuhl, who was no longer using her maiden name due to a marriage and divorce, Kuhl thought she knew Leach.  Kuhl thought that the name Evan rang a bell. 

The two had met at a North Carolina summer camp when they were teens. Kuhl teased him saying she had questions about the YMCA’s Blue Ridge camp in the mid-80’s. She then told him to check her Facebook page and he instantly remembered her and their teen summer romance. The two reflected on their camp relationship as innocent teenagers, and Kuhl admitted that years ago she would look his name up in the phonebook and hope to see him around, although the two only met up a few times after camp. 

After messaging for a long time on Match, the two finally met up again and instantly reconnected. The two lived less than two miles apart in Tampa, had mutual friends, and had sat only four rows away from each other during University of South Florida football games. 

Kuhl shared that it was the first time since her divorce that she felt that she had anyone and could open up. Evans proposed to Kuhl in 2015 and they got married in Paris in March of 2016. They still cannot believe that they were right next to each other and all they needed was a computer to reconnect. 

 

This story originally appeared in https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/relationships/news/a39485/summer-camp-crushes-reunited-married/

 

And https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/07/19/couple-finds-each-other-reconnects-match-dating-site-25-years-later-teenage-crushes/87249056/