Springtime Pleasures now has a sexy new cover. So many people kept telling me that the first cover didn’t look historical enough, so I’ve decided to change it. 🙂
I hope you like it!
I wish you all merry Christmas and happy holidays! May these days be a peaceful time for you, a time for meeting with friends and family and sharing a good meal and forging new, happy memories!
As a Christmas gift to all my readers, I’ve made the Kindle edition of SPRINGTIME PLEASURES free until 29 December. (I know it’s not exactly a holiday title, but I promise I’ll do better next year!) Happy reading!
I’m so thrilled to announce the release of the paperback edition of SPRINGTIME PLEASURES. The book is now available on all Amazon sites, and you can also buy it directly from CreateSpace. To celebrate the release I’ve set up a Goodreads giveaway where you can win one of five signed copies of the novel.
And yet another way to get inspired for NaNoWriMo and to get past the dreaded mid-book blues: receiving a truly wonderful review for the novel you’ve just released! (Woohooo!)
Today I found the November edition of the German magazine LoveLetter in the mail. It not only includes an article by yours truly, but also a review of SPRINGTIME PLEASURES. It’s fair to say that the reviewer loved the book: she compares the banter between the protagonists and the humour of SPRINGTIME PLEASURES to those in Hollywood comedies and calls the novel a “small jewel of a story”.
Battling with the Muse has suddenly become much less of a hardship. 🙂
I do apologise: I’ve been a bad blogger. *hangs her head in shame* I really do need to get back the hang of blogging on a regular basis. I mean, I didn’t even announce the publication of SPRINGTIME PLEASURES here. Argh! *head desk*
Yes, SPRINGTIME PLEASURES has come out and has already garnered some very nice reviews. The German LoveLetter magazine called it “a small jewel” and Mel from bookworm2bookworm wrote about the novel:
“If I was given one word to describe ‘Springtime Pleasures’ I would choose ‘cute’, but I’m so glad not to have to choose only one word because this is one of those books that will have you smile long after you’re done reading it.”
“Cute” was also how Carole Rae described the story:
“Overall, this was a cute and fun and simply adorable. I simply loved the added letters. It really added a special-ness to it. I’m also so glad that Sandra Schwab made the HEA between Charlie and Griff a little harder to obtain. I shall recommend this to those that love HRs and for those looking for a book that will make them smile.”
Oh, I LOVE making my readers smile! 🙂
You can buy the ebook online from Amazon (a print edition will follow in a few days’ time), or you can enter one of several giveaways:
In other news: I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo 2013, i.e., National Novel Writing Month, when thousands of writers from all around the world aim to write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. I start off my first NaNoWriMo as a NaNo Rebel because I’m not exactly writing a novel, but something else. A secret project. Shhhhh.
You can find my NaNo profile here – if you’re joining the NaNo madness, please feel free to add me as your Writing Buddy!
Today started quite well: so far I’ve written 2609 words and have already made my heroine almost cry. I will proceed to ruin my hero’s day tomorrow. 🙂
Here’s a snippet from today’s chapters (please remember that this is a raw, very raw, first draft!):
“Have you heard? Devil’s back,” said the men in the alehouses of London, with whom he had drunk and gambled and sometimes fought, ugly, brutal tavern brawls, not at all fitting for one of the house of Crenshaw. In the Cider Cellar, which could boast to have been his favourite haunt, they sang a raucous song in his honour, toasting the man who would laugh Satan himself in the face.
Stay tuned for further NaNoWriMo updates!
Just a little more than a week before Springtime Pleasures will be released! I’m so excited, and I can’t wait to share this story with you!
For now, I present to you the following snippet, in which Carlotta (Charlie), my heroine, and her best friend Emma-Louise discuss the merits of the hero. Enjoy!
“The drive with Lord Chanderley was pleasant. Very pleasant, truth to be told.” Charlie looked up at her friend. “I wish you could meet him one day. He is so handsome. Indeed, I should say he is the most handsome man in all of London!” She smiled dreamily. “He can make his eyebrows mesh. Like this—” She curled her forehead, imitating Chanderley’s frown.“A most peculiar feat,” her friend commented drily.Grinning, Charlie nudged her with her elbow. “It is. And it has the most peculiar effect on me.” Reddening, she quickly continued, “But he is a charming man. And a nice one. It is not often that one finds a genuinely nice person, is it?”Emma-Lee made herself comfortable on the arm of Charlie’s armchair. “He certainly sounds very pleasant.”“Yes, pleasant. And sitting next to him on that box seat yesterday, now that was very pleasant as well.” Charlie grinned up at her. “It is most shocking, is it not?”“Most,” Emma-Lee agreed. “Do continue.”Charlie leaned her head against her friend’s shoulder “He smells very nice. And he has those lovely big hands.” She stretched out her right arm in front of her and wriggled her fingers. “They are quite lovely in gloves, but when everybody sits down to supper at the end of a ball, I can’t help looking at them in the, you know—” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “—nude.”The two girls exchanged a glance before they burst into giggles.“I suppose he would be much shocked if he knew that I am fantasizing about his hands,” Charlie finally gasped.“Fantasizing!” Emma-Lee’s brows rose. “You’ve said nothing about fantasizing, Carlotta Stanton!”“I know, it is most shocking. But his hands are so big and brawny and… and manly.” Charlie gave a happy sigh. “I never knew that handscould be so fascinating.” She glanced up at her friend. “Do you think I might be developing a brain fever? When I sat next to him in that phaeton, my body felt all warm and tingly. Prickly. As if I had fallen into nettles. Though not as unpleasant.”“One should hope not!” Emma-Lee murmured.
The following snippet from SPRINGTIME PLEASURES ties in with my last blog post about handwritten music in the Regency period. I wanted to make music something to strengthen the friendship between Charlie, my heroine, and Lady Isabella, the hero’s sister. In this context, swapping music and sharing your own private music album becomes an act of growing intimacy. (The traditional song that is mentioned in this excerpt can be found in the Austen music albums, too.)
Charlie rummaged in her reticule and dug out the music album she had mentioned to Isabella on one of their earlier outings. Music, as Emma-Lee had informed Charlie, was generally considered a suitable topic for young ladies and was not likely to shock a gently-bred girl like Lady Isabella (unlike boars and other wild beasts). Charlie had decided to follow her friend’s advice, and as she had expected, it turned out to be a sound one: Isabella loved music, and she particularly liked playing the fortepiano.
“Here is the song album I promised you.” She put the much-used album with its rubbed corners onto Isabella’s lap.
Delight spread across the other girl’s face. “How very kind of you.” Smiling broadly, she stroked the faded red cover. “A true St. Cuthbert’s artefact! I am so excited.”
“It contains all my favourites,” Charlie said eagerly, leaning forward. “Do you know ‘Waly, waly’? It’s such a lovely sad song.” Unerringly, she found the right page. “There it is. I hope you can read my hand.”
Isabella peered at the page of handwritten music and quietly started to hum the melody. “Is this correct? How delightful it sounds!” she said after a few bars, glancing up at Charlie.
“Doesn’t it? And isn’t the text of the chorus most heart-wrenching?” Charlie started to sing:
“O waly, waly, love is bonnie
A little time when it is new;
But it grows auld, and waxes cauld,
And fades away like morning dew.”
Today I’m also doing a guest post on Just Paranormal Romance about “Folk Charms and Folk Magic in Bewitched“.
In our age, in which printed matter is so easy to come by – indeed, our daily life is dominated by printed matter as are our correspondences – it’s very easy to forget to what extent handwritten texts dominated everyday culture 200 years ago. I knew that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries a lot of poetry was still circulated privately among friends and family, and would be copied into private albums.
What I didn’t know until I started researching this matter for SPRINGTIME PLEASURES was that a lot of music was also circulated in the same manner. And we are not merely talking about short songs here; no, people copied longer pieces, too, like whole sonatas. Chawton House holds eight manuscript volumes of music that belonged to the Austen family:
The musical content of these volumes is varied. Songs, keyboard works (both solo and duet) and chamber music form the core of the collection and are drawn from a variety of sources. The contents are typical of domestic music-making of the period – and consequently include hardly any music by composers famous today. In Jane Austen’s day, Pleyel and Sterkel were more famous than Haydn and Mozart, their music often more accessible via successful printing and distribution businesses than those of their more talented colleagues with their high-powered court appointments and operatic commissions.
Isn’t this fascinating? I have to admit that I was rather flabbergasted by the info that longer musical works were copied, too. So I decided to do an experiment, and copy the first few bars of the Haydn sonata Isabella plays at a party in SPRINGTIME PLEASURES. You can see the result above. From what I’ve seen, the Austens used albums in landscape format, so format wise, my attempt is not quite authentic. In addition, it’s been twenty years or more since I last wrote down music – and boy, did I feel these years!
Apart from the resulting awkwardness, I also noticed a number of other things that make copying music quite different from copying a text. First of all, with music you have to plan ahead and decide which hand to write down first. Secondly, you have to be so, so careful because it’s so, so easy to make mistakes. Also, you want to make sure that you (and others) will be able to read the music after you’ve copied it. As a curious side-effect, you become rather intimately acquainted with the piece you are copying, which, I assume, would also make it easier to learn the piece afterwards.
If you are interested in the Chawton House collection of music, I can recommend the CDs Jane Austen Entertains (you might want to listen to the samples first; several Amazon customers apparently didn’t like the soprano) and Jane Austen Piano Favourites. If you’d like to start copying a few musical pieces yourself, I suggest you do it in style and buy this scrumptious-looking Edition Peters album.
I was mad enough to include a throw-away line about a zebra in SPRINGTIME PLEASURES: basically, Charlie asks another character whether that person has ever seen a zebra. It only occurred to me later that Charlie could have well seen a zebra herself in one of the menageries in London. So I’ve been leafing through my research books and flicking through early-nineteenth-century guidebooks on Google Books on the hunt for the dratted elusive zebra.
In the early 19th century, there were at least two menageries in London, namely the Royal Menagerie in the Tower and Pidcock’s Museum. The Zoological Gardens were opened in 1828, but apparently, they weren’t open to the public at first. But SPRINGTIME PLEASURES is set in 1817 anyway, so no London Zoo for Charlie.
About Pidcock’s Museum I’ve so far found only the following:
Over Exeter Change, in the Strand, has a collection of divers beasts and birds, not exceeded in rarity even by the royal menagerie in the Tower. These occupy three apartments, which may be seen for half-a.crown, or two of them for two shillings.
No list of animals, alas.
I’ve been luckier in regard to the Royal Menagerie and found the following list in THE PICTURE OF LONDON OF 1805:
As you can see, still no mention of a zebra. So, sorry, Charlie, it looks as if there is no zebra for you.
This post could also be titled “Thank you, Flintstones!” because it’s thanks to Fred Flintstone’s “Yabadabadooooo!” that I’ve figured out how to translate music talk into English.
What’s music talk, you ask?
Well, have you ever heard people who play instruments talking about the pieces of music they practise? They often use nonsense words like lalalala when describing a particular passage in the music. The first time I consciously noticed this was twenty years or so ago when I was talking to my very good friend Petra about some piece or other and it suddenly struck us how utterly ridiculous we sounded.
I was reminded of this conversation when I wrote a particular scene in SPRINGTIME PLEASURES where Charlie and her new friend Lady Isabella are discussing what Isabella might play on the fortepiano at an upcoming party. Izzy thinks a Haydn sonata would do nicely.
“I have already narrowed it down to two options. One” – she gave Charlie an expectant look – “the sonata in A major that starts with dlummM-tadatadada-tidabambah,” she sang, her fingers playing an invisible fortepiano on her lap. “You know, the one with all the triplets?”
“Hmm,” Charlie said. “Tricky things, triplets.”
Isabella’s face fell a little. “Yes. Yes, you are right. Not suitable for a first performance.”
“No.” Isabella took a deep breath. “What then do you think of the sonata in C major where the right hand starts with bllum-dam-dam-dam bllum-dam-dam-dam, and the left hand goes yabadaba yabadaba yabadaba yabadaba? It is quite lovely, and it is one of my favourites.”
So you can clearly see where Fred is coming in. To choose nonsense words in a foreign language is rather tricky, I can tell you, and it took me a while to figure out how to translate the German “jabadaba” into English – until I eventually remembered the Flintstones. 🙂