Tag Archives: Devil’s Return

Ferocious lions and winged bulls

a sketch of the bas-relief of a winged bull with the cover of DEVIL'S RETURNAs I’m working on getting DEVIL’S RETURN ready for publication (I still have to look up a detail about the historical background and write two more paragraphs for the Author’s Note), I’ll give you a snippet from Chapter 2: Alex attends the staff meeting of ALLAN’S MISCELLANY for the first time and tells them about the archaeological wonders he has encountered in the Near East during a discussion about the contents of the next issue of ALLAN’S:

I have very fond memories of the Eglinton Tournament,” Beaton said to no-one in particular.

An amused gleam appeared in MacNeil’s eyes. “As you would, Robbie. As you would.—Will we have something on the impending arrival of Jenny Lind?” Of course, they would. Wasn’t all the metropolis aflutter to hear the Swedish Nightingale sing? Mr. Lumley was to be congratulated for the coup he had pulled off.

MacNeil grinned. “No doubt the eager audience with their raptures will take Her Majesty’s Theatre apart in the next few weeks.—What about you, Crenshaw? Anything new from Mr. Wodehouse?”

So Alex told them about Layard’s latest excavations, and their plan to prepare for his visit later this year. He described the alabaster sphinx that had been found in one of the buildings of Nimroud, and the strange creatures in the bas-reliefs: ferocious lions and winged bulls with human heads, dragons and fearsome monsters with heads of lions, bodies of men, and feet of birds. He told them of the quarrels in the workers’ camp—inevitably, those quarrels were about stolen property or women: an older wife objecting to the purchase of another, younger bride and involving her father, brothers, and cousins; a father who sought a greater bride price from his prospective son-in-law than had been bargained for; or a man who repented his decision of a bride and refused to fulfill his side of the bargain.

“In other words, it’s not much different from the state of marriage in England,” MacNeil remarked with a thin smile. “Conjugal relations being ruled by money, and all that.”

Beaton snorted. “Truly, your cynicism never fails to astound me, Mac. May I remind you that not all conjugal relations are ruled by money?”

“Speaking of yourself, are you, Robbie?” The editor’s grin widened and turned a tad malicious. “But then you had to wait three years until you could wed the divine Miss Marsh.”

The other man gave him a dark look. “I will tell the divine Mrs. Beaton to feel free to brain you with our cook’s best frying pan when you next call on us.”

MacNeil threw his head back and laughed. “And here I was thinking I was safe because you had scruples about hiding my dead body!—What do you think, Crenshaw?”

“About hiding your dead body or conjugal rights being ruled by money?” Alex grinned. “From my experience, I say you are absolutely right about the latter,” he added wryly. “What else is marriage in this country, but another form of prostitution?” For a moment, his mind taunted him with memories of exactly how right MacNeil’s opinion on conjugal relations was in his experience. But, ruthlessly he pushed these thoughts aside. He was no longer that youth who had not come up to scratch because he was merely a younger son, and had thus been cast aside for a better prospect.

His statement had caused some uproar among the men, as those who apparently enjoyed happy marital relations loudly objected to such an interpretation, while the others elaborated on the joys of bachelorhood.

“We will not have anything about conjugal relations in our magazine,” Jon Allan cut in, his voice decisive. “It’s crass and indelicate and would only serve to shock my aunt and uncle.” He gave MacNeil a pointed look. “In all likelihood, Aunt Allan would make my uncle throw you out of the premises. Or she would come after you with a large wooden spoon.”

(The comment about marriage being another form of prostitution is a nod to Thackeray’s THE NEWCOMES, where this is one of the themes that runs through the novel.) (Yup, I simply cannot resist inserting Thackeray references into my stories – in DEVIL’S RETURN, we will even meet Mr. Thackeray himself. And my favorite 19th-century artist: Richard Doyle. *fan-girl squeeing ensues*) 🙂

Ornamental Edits

Layering red on the page can render some rather pretty results. 🙂

Nearly reaching the end of DEVIL’S RETURN. But first – some male bonding.

Unperturbed, Beaton continued, “I say, Crenshaw, that’s all very romantic.”

“Yes, in the way of Romeo and Juliet,” Mac cut in, his voice a bored drawl. “He will want to slash his wrists next.”

As Robbie Beaton says at the beginning of this novella, “No. Cupid, our Mac is not.” 😉

Combative Revisions

I might have to start using two different colours for revivions in order to help me to keep the different edits apart later on when I’m going to work them into the MS Word document….

This, btw, is my attempt at the following suggestion from my editor: “P. 237. The bear scene needs a stronger ending.” 🙂

The Plot Thickens & a Bear

… or at least the layers of red on the page do. This has turned out to be a bit of a tricky scene. As my editor has pointed out, my heroine doesn’t say anything – or hardly anything – in two consecutive scenes, which is not so good. On the other hand, I want my heroine to be somewhat diffident in these scenes, soooo……

I’ve settled on letting her exclaim “A bear?” at one point.

And now, as my editor tells me, I need to find a stronger ending for the bear scene.


*scratching my head*


After finishing all the grading yesterday evening, I’m finally free to start with the revisions of my three novellas (as you can see, I’m using the same dark red pen for both grading and revisions *g*). Woohooo!!!! Since I received my editor’s revision letter, I’ve been looking forward to this SO much. I love this step in the publication process: giving the contents of my stories one last polish and seeing how it all tightens up. (Besides, at this point I’ve usually come to the conclusion that my latest literary outpourings are not lethal after all, which is always such a big relief! *ggg*)

With this new series, I also need to check the continuity, for in the earlier stories there are quite a few smaller incidents that will become relevant in later stories. And then, of course, we have all those recurring characters as well as a number of recurring jokes — like Matthew Clark’s whoopee cushion that makes a sound like a dying goat when you sit down on it. 😉

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).