Tag Archives: Midnight Posts

*blinks sleepily* Night-time Reading

It’s now 1:15 a.m. and, obviously, I’m still awake though I had planned to be in bed at 11 p.m. (so I’d be ready for that next battle with the dragons tomorrow morning). I blame it all on Stacey Joy Netzel.

I only wanted to have a tiny, itty-bitty mini-peep at the beginning of her novel “Chasin’ Mason,” which I had bought at Fictionwise earlier today. And then the story sucked me right in -wooooooosh! And there I was, poor little me, and couldn’t stop reading despite the fact that the hero was a bit grumpy at the beginning (but only a little bit!).

Here’s the blurb:

When his father announced his engagement to a gold-digger with a lying, scheming fourteen-year old daughter, seventeen-year old Tripp Warner left Warner Ridge Ranch and never looked back. Until the day he got the phone call that his father had died unexpectedly.

Reggie Reed lives with her guilt every day but can’t quite work up the courage to track down the son of the man who raised her as his own. When Tripp shows up at his father’s funeral eleven years later–and a hell of a man to be reckoned with–he has no interest in her too-late apology. Worse, they’ve inherited half shares of the family ranch—but only if they work together to catch Mason’s Gold, the stallion a young Reggie let escape and made sure Tripp took the blame for.

Tripp proposes a secret competition to the beautiful witch who stole his life: whoever catches the stallion first gets the ranch all to themselves. It sounds simple, but once they’re out on the range, tempers and passions flare in the Texas heat and nothing goes as either of them expects.

Can they work together to keep the ranch, or will their past get in the way of their future?

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

And now please excuse me while I totter off to bed … Good night!

Invitation to Tea, Part I (Or, Making Tea Cakes – U R Doing It Right)

After the chocolate disaster (or is it “desaster”??? I guess I could look it up, but it’s almost midnight here and I can’t be bothered with thingaboos like dictionaries), I decided I’d try tea cakes next, since I already got such good results with a different Nordic Ware baking mould. So I whipped together some red-wine cake dough, filled it into the tea cake mould, put the mould into the oven and watched the mini cakes rise while the heavenly smell of red-wine cake filled my kitchen. (Okay, I admit it, I didn’t watch the mini cakes rise *all* the time; I was busy licking the whisk clean. *g*)

And here’s the result:

Don’t those mini cakes look cuuuuuuuute? 🙂
And last, but not least, here’s proof that it pays to buy quality: tea cake mould with itty-bitty details: cakes came out clean and easy. VS *very* cheap mini-Gugelhupf mould: It took me five minutes to get the cake out of the mould, and when it finally said goodbye to the stupid mould, it left a “skin” behind.

Coming up next: Tablescape in Red (with my new Burleigh china and Lindor eggs)

Sandy’s Tuesday Midnight Post

Sitting-Room Decoration Dilemma Solved

I’ve got beautiful, elegant reddish-orange cushions for my red couch, but because the kitty-cat has invaded the sitting room, I can’t really leave the cushions on the couch for everyday use. But without cushions the couch looks rather bare and dreary. So, what to do?

I rummaged among my old stuff that’s all packed up, and got out our old caravan cushions from the 1970s. These are my all-time favourite cushions anyway: they’re round, they’ve got frills of sorts, and they’re covered with brown, orange and yellow little flowers. Very pretty. They’re my think-happy-thoughts cushions. 🙂 At first I wasn’t quite sure, whether they would actually fit into the overall decoration scheme of the sitting room, but in fact, they look lovely and lend the room a nice, casual atmosphere.

New Favourite Blog

While searching the web for red transferware today, I stumbled across a truly wonderful blog: Little Red House. For somebody who loves home decoration magazines as much as I do, Mary’s blog is a veritable treasure trove: she has decorated her house with antiques, family heirlooms, and thrift shop finds — and it’s sooooo pretty. No doubt I will visit her blog quite often in the future. 🙂

Speaking of red transferware: I’ve fallen in love with the Bristol series from Crown Ducal. Isn’t it pretty?


Tickling the Muse

Today I did some work on BETRAYAL (yay!) and elaborated some more on Georgina’s memories of Ash. Since the two of them meet face to face relatively late into the story, I have to balance this by emphasising their memories of each other. (I hope this actually works!)

The scene I was working on today is one of my favourites: Georgina is sitting at the window of the coachman’s house in the evening, when her son enters the room and sits down at her feet and leans his head against her knee. The scene is so poignant because it’s not the son she has raised, but the other twin, who has grown up in the stifling atmosphere of Ashburnham Place and hungers for love. It’s definitely an awwww-scene for me — and I hope that it will also be an awww-scene for my readers . 🙂

Friday Late Night Blogging

What Sandy did today:

  • Subscribe to Homes & Antiques. I discovered the magazine when I was in London last autumn, and fell instantly in love. 🙂
  • Find out that Gaskell is a very sly, very subtle author (as if I hadn’t known that before!): she shows you one thing, but actually tells you something quite different. Brilliant!
  • Acquire a new jumper. It used to be my Dad’s, but apparently something terrible happened to the poor thing in the washing machine. It’s still much too big for me, but it’s supersoft and supercomfy and looks great with jeans. So now it’s mine.
  • Admire Burleigh ceramics online. (Oh, oh, oh …)
  • Try to type with cat lying on my arm or wrist.

Gaskell Wheeee!!!

I’ve just finished my preparations for my literature class on Monday — and I’m so exhilerated!

I think I’ve already mentioned that I’m teaching Gaskell this semester (and Gaskell beat Shakespeare! By miles!!!) and that at the moment we’re discussing North and South. The preparations this afternoon & evening were truly great as they allowed me to dig into the novel once again and to penetrate the web of story Gaskell spins. I love it when I can make a text my own this way. The rush this gives me is almost as big as the rush I get from a good day of writing: my skin tingles and I feel as if my body were filled with lots of bubbles. 🙂 So yay to Gaskell!!

I enjoyed how sensual the writing in N&S is: the author lovingly describes Margaret as seen through Thornton’s eyes and it’s quite clear that he’s physically attracted to her. Or in other words, that he’s got the hots for her. Take this description from their first meeting in Chapter 7:

[…] her full beauty met his eye; her round white flexile throat rising out of the full, yet lithe figure; her lips, moving so slightly as she spoke, not breaking the cold serene look of her face with any variation from the one lovely haughty curve; her eyes, with their soft gloom, meeting his with quiet maiden freedom.

Or this, from Chapter 10:

She looked as if she was not attending to the conversation, but solely busy with the tea-cups, among which her round ivory hands moved with pretty, noiseless daintiness. She had a bracelet on one taper arm, which would fall down over her round wrist. Mr Thornton watched the re-placing of this troublesome ornament with far more attention than he listened to her father. It seemed as if it fascinated him to see her push it up impatiently, until it tightened her soft flesh; and then to mark the loosening — the fall. He could almost have exclaimed — ‘There it goes, again!’

🙂

In addition, there are quite a few Awwwww-moments in the novel, especially when poor John Thornton is struggling with his feelings for Margaret. Take this (he’s about to propose to her for the first time):

He dreaded lest he should go forwards to meet her, with his arms held out in mute entreaty that she would come and nestle there, as she had done, all unheeded, the day before, but never unheeded again. His heart throbbed loud and quick. Strong man as he was, he trembled at the anticipation of what he had to say, and how it might be received.

And after he has been rejected:

It would have been a relief to him, if he could have sat down and cried on a door-step by a little child, who was raging and storming, through his passionate tears, at some injury he had received. He said to himself, that he hated Margaret, but a wild, sharp sensation of love cleft his dull, thunderous feeling like lightning, even as he shaped the words expressive of hatred. […] She would not make him change. He loved her, and would love her; and defy her, and this miserable bodily pain.

If that’s not seriously Awwwww!-worthy, I don’t know what is.

What I found interesting was a comment from the essay “North and South: Varieties of Love and Power” by John Pikoulis, who regards the second proposal and the ending of the novel as weak:

To the end, Margaret regards her connexion with him as (the metaphor is unavoidable) busieness-like, and it is only when he sinks to his knees that he can coax her into laying her face, still covered with her hands as a final gesture of reluctance, on his shoulder; only when he has made the pilgrimage to Helstone does she agree to marry him. The object of his affections has become the tyrant of his conscience, as well as his landlord. […] [Margaret] has Thornton in her power and accepts him on her own terms. […] She takes Thornton as if they were friendly master and hand […]. The sin and sinner have been punished, Margaret’s suffering rewarded, but a mature relationship between a man and a woman avoided.

At first I was rather puzzled by this comment, because this is not how I’ve read the ending. But it took me some time to figure out why: I’ve read N&S as a romance. And then, of course, it makes perfect sense that Margaret accepts Thornton only when he is “tamed” (see Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ article in Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women), only when it has become clear that she can assert a certain influence over him (he has, after all, listened to her and has begun to regard his workers as individuals). But even if he is brought low in the end and she has to help him (what’s the problem with that? other people’s heroes have been tied to rocks and have to look on while the heroine shoots the villain! *g*), he has not lost his edge, he can still be masterful: “Take care. — If you do not speak — I shall claim you as my own in some strange presumptuous way.” (Hey, he can claim me as his own any time! Especially if he looks like Richard Armitage! *ggg*) It’s a romance ending, of course it’s a romance ending. And all their (very sexy, very stimulating) verbal sparring throughout the story has shown that they are ideally suited: Margaret is interested in the politics of Milton, and Thornton is not only eager to make her understand him, but also actually listens to her. Which shows that he values her opinion. He is not Henry Lennox, who

loved her beauty. He saw the latent sweep of her mind, which could easily (he thought) be led to embrace all the objects on which he had set his heart. He looked upon her fortune only as a part of the complete and superb character of herself and her position: yet he was fully aware of the rise which it would immediately enable him, the poor barrister, to take.

(Jerk!)

No, no, Margaret needs Thornton. That they will be happy together becomes more than obvious at the very end for the novel ends with mutual teasing:

“How shall I ever tell Aunt Shaw?” she whispered, after some time of delicious silence. [And why the silence? Because they’re busy snogging!]

“Let me speak to her.”

“Oh, no! I owe it to her, — but what will she say?”

“I can guess. Her first exclamation will be, ‘That man'”

“Hush!” said Margaret, “or I shall try and show you your mother’s indignant tones as she says, ‘That woman!'”

Now is that sweet or what?

In the wee hours of the morning …

… I’m still flying high as a kite courtesy of those wonderful reviews and lovely e-mails I received in the past 48 hours. It’s truly the best feeling in the world, to hear how much a reader has enjoyed the story you created!

And as I’m still up I can tell you that everybody who urged me to watch the BBC adaptation of NORTH & SOUTH was absolutely right: this mini-series is fantastic! It contains many beautiful and powerful images:

  • the contrast between the almost supernaturally bright colours of the South / Margaret’s old home in the country VS the dark, bleak city of Milton
  • the cotton flying around in the mill that makes it look like it’s snowing indoors — this is later echoed by the snow outside, and due to this doubling it appears as if the cotton is taking over the whole city.

And then there is Richard Armitage, who plays the male lead. He’s tall, dark (and dangerous) (and where have we heard that before? *g*), rugged (oh the wonders of beard stubble!), and has a wonderfully deep, raspy voice. And a lovely Northern accent. And a nose like a sword blade. In other words: the perfect, brooding hero of a dark historical!!! Perhaps I ought to use actors and models more often as an inspiration for my characters. Other people do it all the time. Just imagine: I could buy the first season of the new Robin Hood series (in which Armitage play Guy of Gisborne), watch it until my eyes start bleeding, and pretend it’s all research! Wow! But … isn’t it somehow wrong to watch a Robin Hood series and root for one of the baddies? On the other hand:

The Last of Friday

Or is it the First of Saturday?

Actually, it’s more like the first of Saturday. Anyway, I’m so excited: Dear Author has mentioned my podcast! (Now, of course, I feel doubly bad for not having posted a new episode for so long. Hmm. Perhaps I can put one together tomorrow…)

And what’s more: the book arrived today (or rather yesterday). “The Beeton Book of Garden Management” is now all mine (and yes, Carolyn, you can come and visit the book 🙂 ) — and it’s a beautiful copy, very well preserved.

And what’s even more: I got a very nice review of Castle from Coffee Time Romance today (no, yesterday). The reviewer calls it “enchanting and full of surprises”. Definitely nice!

But for now, I’ll totter off to bed. Good night!