Tag Archives: A Tangled Web

A Tangled Web – now also available on Kindle!!!

Kopie vonAllansMisc-03-ATangledWeb-Rahmen-kleinerA Tangled Web is now also available for the Kindle (the Nook book will follow soon) (as soon as I’ll have convinced myself that registering a Nook account isn’t terribly and won’t make me cry…) (I’m an artist – I don’t have to make sense *g*).

You can grab it here:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon DE
and in all other Amazon stores

Excerpt from A TANGLED WEB

Kopie vonAllansMisc-03-ATangledWeb-Rahmen-kleinerA TANGLED WEB is already available on Kobo and will become available on Amazon and Nook during the weekend. To whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt in which we meet our hero, Lawrence Pelham – and two old acquaintances from THE BRIDE PRIZE. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

On Friday morning, when Lawrence Pelham, comic illustrator, walked along the gallery to the door to ‘the Den,’ the holy of the holies, the editorial office of that illustrious weekly periodical Allan’s Miscellany, he was nearly bowled over by one of his colleagues, who came dashing out of the office, his face brick-red, his mouth quivering.

Mr. Nicklewick was followed by roaring and a shoe that hit Pel’s shoulder.

“Ouch!” Rubbing his offended flesh, Pel poked his head around the door.


“Um,” Pel said. “Nicklewick’s probably already reached Fleet Street at the pace he was dashing along.”

MacNeil, the editor, glared at him. Flushed with anger and breathing hard, he stood, leaning on his hands slapped flat on the large table that dominated the room. His tousled, copper-red hair wafted around his head like a fiery halo and intensified Mac’s look of an outraged archangel. In Pel’s mind rose a black and white drawing of him in antique armor holding a flaming sword while he expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden—Adam was rather short and round and bore a striking similarity to the unfortunate Nicklewick.

“You,” MacNeil growled, “are late.”

Abruptly, the imaginary drawing evaporated.

Pel glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece. “Just forty minutes,” he replied cheerfully. “Could be worse.”

Robbie Beaton, the magazine’s other artist, threw him a warning look and imperceptibly shook his head. His normally cheerful round face was uncommonly grave as he half sat on the table next to MacNeil. In front of them rested a pile of paper and several woodblocks—the material for this week’s issue.

“What has happened?” Pel asked. “Nick’s been—”

“He is a moron,” MacNeil cut in. “A bloody moron who can’t spell his way out of a damned box and who writes the damnedest drivel I’ve ever seen.” He slapped a piece of paper in front of him. “‘Regent Street, a Death Trap.’ A whole damned page on carriage accidents as a result of the wooden pavement. A whole page! Has he taken leave of his senses?” He snorted and answered his own question, “That fool has never had any to begin with!”

“It’s an…um…important topic,” Pel offered cautiously, which earned him a disgusted look.

“Not when the author writes that the wooden pavement—and I quote—‘preys on the flowers of our aristocracy and carries them off to Elysium.’ Really? Really? And he has misspelled ‘prey’ and ‘flowers’.”

Pel raised his brows. “How can you misspell ‘flowers’?”


“Oh,” Pel said. “Oh well.” He reckoned it safe enough to step nearer and deposit the woodblocks with his illustrations for the issue on the table.

“And Nitwit was late handing in his texts, too. They should have been on my table yesterday afternoon.” MacNeil turned to Robbie Beaton, with whom he had founded the magazine seven years ago. “This was the last time we’ve taken on somebody as a favor to somebody else,” he growled.

“Can anything of his be saved?” Pel asked.

MacNeil’s look could have made a flower wither and die on the spot. “An article on the merits of keeping a goldfish?”

“Uh. I guess not.”

“How about replacing it with something on the whole farce of the Irish Arms Bill?” Beaton suggested. “Topical, and given what’s been going on in the Lower House, nobody will mind a biting tone.”

MacNeil glanced at the clock. “No time to send for Mr. Flanders and ask him to produce another piece from Our Man at Westminster. Lives too damn far away.”

“Then let me write it,” Beaton said. “I’ve accompanied Flanders a few times this week. That should do it.”

“Good.” MacNeil nodded. “And a second large cut. One for you, Pel. On…let’s say, the Statue?”

Pel didn’t need to ask which statue the editor was referring to. For weeks now the talk of the town had centered on one statue alone: Wyatt’s equestrian monster of the Duke of Wellington on his horse Copenhagen, which was to be erected on the Triumphal Arch at Hyde Park Corner this very month. Earlier this year the press had been granted a glimpse into the master’s workshops and on this occasion, the proportions of the planned statue had been revealed as well. Unfortunately for Wyatt, the sentiment that bigger is better was not universally shared.

Pel took a pencil from his pocket and reached for Nicklewick’s article on the goldfish. On the back of the paper, he began to draft a quick sketch. “What about…” The hawk-like nose, an outstretched arm. “…uh…shall we say…?” The curve of the horse, barely managing to stand on a minuscule arch.

Robbie Beaton looked over his shoulder. “I like that. Poor horsie; it looks as if it’s standing on raw eggs.”

Pel grinned. “Hmm.”

“How about a few clouds?” Beaton pointed. “Around the horse’s middle?”

A few darker whirls.

A birdie on top of the Iron Duke’s helmet, and a whole row of birds on his outstretched arm.

With a flourish, Pel wrote underneath the sketch, “London’s New Gigantic Bird Perch.” He turned the paper around to show it to MacNeil.

The editor looked at it for a moment, then nodded. “Call it ‘London’s Most Expensive Bird Perch’.”

Pel corrected the title. “What about that pavement thing of Nicklewick’s? If you shorten it and we add a comic illustration—like, the street as a giant monster waiting to devour aristocratic gentlemen—everybody will think it was meant as a satire in the first place.”

“Good thinking. I’ll do that.” MacNeil said. “And Dr. Grant has already sent his article for next week, which we can substitute for Nitwit’s thing on…” He looked at another piece of paper and turned up his nose. “’The Merits of Green Peas.’ Goodness!” His expression darkened once more. “That man will never set another foot in this office!” he muttered. “What else have we got?” He shuffled his papers around. “A review of Gervase Carlton’s latest literary offering. A nice one, that.—An article from Our Man Abroad. More about the diggings in the Near East.” He glanced at Beaton. “We already have an Assyrian lion for that one, haven’t we, Robbie?”

In lieu of an answer, Beaton pointed at one of the woodblocks lying on the table.

“Right. Another worry letter for Cupid’s Letter Box?”

“I’ll write that one,” Beaton said hastily. “You’re such a cynic when it comes to love, Mac. Nobody wants to hear what you think about the plight of a young girl who…hm….is wondering about whether or not to send a posy of forget-me-nots to a gentleman of her acquaintance—”

MacNeil groaned. “And thus we all die from an overflow of sentimentalism…”

Unperturbed by the criticism, Beaton just grinned and shrugged. “Flo quite likes the overflow of sentimentalism. Says it gives the magazine a heart.”

The editor threw him a sour look. “Your wife’s taste is not always sound, Robbie. Just look at whom she has married!”

Whistling, Beaton gazed at the ceiling. “Which, if I’m not mistaken, was the making of our magazine.”

“Yes, yes. The search for the Mystery Maiden—all very romantic.” MacNeil made a dismissive gesture. “My brains must have been addled at the time.” Again, he glanced at the clock. “Barely two hours before the issue has to go to the printers. We’d better get started, gentlemen. You go over and take care of those illustrations, Pelham. And tell them downstairs to send a boy to that new chap Tambling to tell him we’ll need another piece of literary criticism this afternoon. Not about peas!”

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!

Heard from My Editor Today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m hardly able to focus on the grading today — and I blame it all on my lovely editor! When I switched on my computer this morning, I found her critique of my three novellas in my mailbox. It took me a good 30 minutes to open her mail. What if she didn’t like those stories? What if she was going to tell me they were really, really, really bad and how did I even dare to send her such crap? (By now you should know how my mind works, so this mini meltdown will hardly come as a surprise to you. *g*)

Anyways, I finally DID open her e-mail, and — oh my gosh!!! — Bev really, really, REALLY liked the three stories. “Did I ever love working on these novellas, Sandra!” her e-mail starts. “Please forgive me for not listing everything I love about them in my critique–it would have been a hundred pages!”

*melts into a happy puddle*

So I’ve been singing and humming and grinning stupidly and dancing around my flat for most of the day. 🙂

Let’s Talk Covers!

One of the truly nice things about indie publishing is that you have complete control over your covers. You can pick a design, make sure that the people on the cover match the characters’ descriptions in your story, and you can brand a series whichever way you like.

One of the major elements of branding for the covers of the new series will be a blue background. Originally, I thought I’d just use the same sky picture for all covers, but not only would this look boring, but that one picture also doesn’t suit all the people I’ve chosen to go onto the covers.

Sooo, today during my lunch break I went hunting for blue backgrounds. I’ve already found some nice matches for some covers, but there is one picture of a woman that, as it turns out, is rather difficult to match with a blue background. Hmmmm. Clearly, further experiments are called for!

The Day after….

The day after sending your manuscript to your editor is always the worst because not only does even your tea cup (well, mug) look slightly battered, but you also come up with 1.000 reasons why your book project sucks, why your editor will hate it, why she will probably drop dead while reading it, why it totally would have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs (if dinosaurs had been able to read, that is).

The best thing you can do then is to stagger into the kitchen and deal with the piles of dirty dishes (including the tea mug).


Story No. 2 Finished!!!!!

Finished “A Tangled Web” (WOOOHOO!!!!). Now I just need to type it all up (= three slim Moleskine notebooks) and then finish the third story (which is actually the first of the series) over the weekend.

Insights I gained during the last few days:

  • I write faster by hand. Though why this should come as a surprise to me, I don’t know – after all during my late teens and early twenties I used to write these monstrously long fantasy novels (all by hand!), and one of them I wrote within six weeks.
  • While first-kiss scenes are really awkward to write, second-kiss scenes are much better.
  • The more you know about social conventions in the 19th century, the more difficult it is to write about love and courtship during that time, especially when your characters don’t belong to the aristocracy. Hmph. I try not to bend the rules too much, though I had to bend them a little for “A Tangled Web”
  • I love the heroes of this series. They’re all rather sweet, especially Robbie and Lawrence from the first two stories. Alex is a bit more intense, but then he is a tough adventurer, who travelled around the Wild, Wild West AND the Far East.

I’ll leave you with a bit of hero-sweetness from “A Tangled Web”:

He dragged her into the hallway, where they found his coat and her shawl — the beautiful shawl he had given her. As he had done before, he draped it around her shoulders, then kissed the tip of her nose.

“Leave the bonnet,” he whispered. “I love seeing your hair.”

“It’s not seemly.”

His eyes twinkled with mischief when he leaned down to murmur against her ear, “I dare you to leave the bonnet.”

How could she resist him?

First Kiss

Freshly written scene from the WIP:

“Sarah,” she whispered, her gaze dropping to his mouth. “Call me Sarah.” She glanced back up at him, her expression a curious mixture of nervousness and anticipation.

“Sarah,” he repeated, desire deepening his voice. He searched her eyes, and then slowly, ever so slowly, leaving her plenty of time to protest or turn her head, he leaned forward. “Sarah,” he murmured against her lips.


His mouth covered hers, tentative at first, but as he felt her hand glide up to his shoulder, he became more demanding. He slid from his chair until he knelt in front of her, until he could slide one arm around her, until she moaned softly into his mouth.

He took the chance to deepen the kiss, to taste her, devour her.

Oh God, he couldn’t get enough of her!

Now her hand was in his hair, the other one clutching at his shoulder, kneading his flesh as if to spurn him on.

His heart thundered in his ears, and his chest expanded with all that he felt for this woman until he thought he would burst with the joy of it. Half gasping, half laughing, he broke the kiss to look at her.

Her eyes opened slowly, languid with pleasure.

“Sarah,” he whispered.

She blinked. A smile spread over her face, and all at once she glowed.

Evil Author

Today, I wanted to write a few happy scenes. You know, the kind where the hero and heroine fall deeper and deeper in love and everything’s just SO NICE. The kind of scene that makes readers say “Awww!” and sigh happily and all that.

But because I’m an evil author, I ended up writing a scene in which I make my hero and heroine really, really, REALLY unhappy (which is a nice euphemism for “I demolished them”) and which will probably make readers cry because it’s all really, really sad.

Yup. I’m short and evil.