Saturday, April 12, 2014

Addictive Research

I recently stumbled across an Ebay auction of a double volume of THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS. Of course, I had heard of that newspaper before (after all, my current academic research focuses on Victorian periodicals), but I hadn't realised what a gem it was. But the person selling his copy on Ebay kindly provided pictures. OH MY! Where are my smelling salts?!?!?!?

That volume on Ebay was in a bad shape and the price was already quite high when I discovered the page, so I decided not to bid on it. The volume that I ended up buying (because, hey, it's for research, right? and I can use it for both my academic work and my creative work -- awesome! it's like "Buy one get one free"!!!) arrived today. In a word: it's gorgeous!

So far I've just leafed through it and took pictures of some of the highlights, e.g.
  • intriguing bits of paper pasted into the newspaper (pic on upper right)
  • prize cattle
  • masses of people emigrating to the New World
  • the construction of the Crystal Palace for the Grand Exhibition in 1851
  • the new railway station in Newcastle upon Tyne (pic on upper left)
  • some sheet music
  • the Assyrian sculptures from Nimrod at the British Museum*
  • Stamp Duty in action

* I yelled "Wheeee!" when I came across that particular picture because DEVIL'S RETURN deals with the excavations in Nimrod in the mid-1840s. :-)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

That moment when you realise there was no direct train between London & Edinburgh in 1846....

... and it totally messes up your story.

Well, a little anyway.

Thanks to the somewhat belated realization that perhaps I should check whether there was indeed a direct train from London to Edinburgh in 1846 or whether my heroine is sitting in a horrible anachronism, I had some digging to to earlier this afternoon. And this is what I 've found:

The Great Northern Railway, that is, the line between Newcastle and Edinburgh, was opened either in late 1850 or at some point in 1851 (a guidebook from 1851 mentions that new connection), so in 1846 my heroine wouldn't have been able to take a train on that line. As to the Berwick-Edinburgh connection, I couldn't quite figure out when exactly this was opened (it was at some point in the late 1840s). So in the end, I decided that my heroine would take the train to Newcastle and from there the stagecoach to Edinburgh. (Grrr....)

In other news, the revisions of A TANGLED WEB are all finished; I just need to type up all my edits. I'm not yet quite happy with the prologue (should I ditch Tennyson's "Lady of Shalott" or not?), but I hope I'll be able to iron this out tomorrow morning. Then I'll just need to Americanize the whole manuscript before I can send it off to my copy editor. Wheee!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Invitation to a Tournament

Today I'm guest-posting on Risky Regencies, where I'm sharing some info about the historical background of THE BRIDE PRIZE. And no, we are not talking about medieval romance here. :-)

Click here to find out more

(There are men in kilts! Noble knights! People in medieval costume!)

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


As you know, I was working on the revisions of THE BRIDE PRIZE these past few days. These were the hardest revisions I've ever done (mainly because I didn't properly plan the story from the get-go), and there was a lot of red on the pages. Like, A LOT!

In the end, I was so very frustrated that I decided to switch colours to make the pages look a little less horrid. And with a little help from my friends (in the picture below you can see a promo pen Debra Holland gave me when we met at the IndieUncon in San Francisco back in February) I muddled through a few more chapters, until....

....until I hit a major, major roadblock. I grappled with that one scene for days and days and days and DAYS. And it was beyond depressing because I just couldn't figure out how to resolve this dratted scene -- until this afternoon!!! Wheee!!!!

Well, actually, I had already scribbled what eventually became the solution onto a post-it the night before: just before I went to bed, the Muse struck me over the head. :-)

After a final read-through tomorrow morning, both THE BRIDE PRIZE and DEVIL'S RETURN will go to my copy editor, and for me it's then on to A TANGLED WEB (which will probably be a similarly hard nut to crack as THE BRIDE PRIZE - oh joy!)

Monday, March 31, 2014

In Support of Jackie Barbosa

If you're looking for some good books to buy this week, I ask you to consider the books of my colleague Jackie Barbosa. Jackie writes in various different genres, so there's a little something for almost everybody, especially if you like your stories a bit spicier. I've just bought the contemporary According to Luke myself because the excerpt sounded so very delicious. Check it out here.

And here's the blurb:

Luke Finley, the eldest of four brothers, is a committed serial monogamist. He’s all for one woman at a time, but not one woman forever. He knows a lifetime of fidelity just isn’t in his genes.

But when his latest girlfriend kicks him out–of his condo–the woman he’s always thought of as “one of the guys” turns out to be the one woman who can rock his world and make him believe in forever.

A friends-to-lovers story! Love those!

Or perhaps you'd like to have a look at her two free historical shorts, The Reiver and Nine Ladies Dancing.

The reason I'm asking you to support Jackie is a sad one: You might have already heard that earlier this month Jackie lost her 17-year-old son Julian in a car accident. Most of us will never be able to fully understand what Jackie and her family are going through right now, the terrible pain they must be feeling.

There is nothing we can do to ease this pain, but we as her colleagues wanted to show her our support, and so Beverly Kendall and Courtney Milan came up with the idea of authors highlighting Jackie’s books on their blogs or FB pages.

There is also a memorial fund set up in Julian's name. Details to donate can be found here. Any and all donation amounts are greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Doggie-walking Duties & a Tournament

Today, I was once again on doggie-walking duty. :-)

I'm also still hard at work at the revisions for THE BRIDE PRIZE. At the moment my characters are at a tournament (which is not exactly surprising, given that half of the novella takes place during the aforementioned tournament). As per my editor's suggestions, I'm working on increasing the conflict between hero and heroine. In this particular scene it needs to be clearer that he regards the whole tournament thing as a rather silly affair. Sooo..... (insertions in red)

Around them the crowd fell silent as the knights retired to their tents in order to don their helmets and await the formal challenge to combat. Yes, very much in the manner of Ivanhoe (though minus the nasty Prince John and the general bloodlust of the audience) and as good a show as anything you might see on a London stage.
Here and there a few laughs could be heard as the jester rode across the field, swinging his bells in a somewhat dampened tingle over his head.

And then, finally, a blast of trumpets sounded, and the first challenge of the day was issued: the Knight of the Swan sent his defiance to the Knight of the Golden Lion. Having donned their helmets, both knights rode forth, plumes fluttering in the wind.

Everyone around the lists seemed to hold their breath. This was it! This was why they had come here from all corners of the kingdom; indeed, even from all corners of the world!

Breathless excitement gripped the stands & slopes, Robbie scribbled into his sketchbook right next to a very hasty drawing of a round gentleman staring in open-mouthed wonder at the silly spectacle unfolding in front of his eyes.

We do so need somebody for satirical illustrations, Robbie thought ruefully.
The knights took their positions on opposite sides of the barrier that had been set up for the tilting.

Miss Florence sighed happily. "Isn't it wonderful? It's so --"

Another blast of trumpets, and the knights rode furiously -- or at least as furiously as was possible in the rain, which was not very furious at all -- towards each other... further and further... and past each other, without so much as scratching their shields, let alone splintering anybody's lances.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Out and about with the Doggie Sister

I've taken over doggie-walking duties for a few days, and today was just perfect for going down to the river.

On the way back, we passed the car park where my Mum usually parks her car when she takes Tinka down to the river. Tinka was utterly flummoxed that today THERE WAS NO CAR TO TAKE HER HOME! Wait, wait, what? I actually have to walk home???? She just couldn't believe it. *g*