Tag Archives: Springtime Pleasures

Revisions in Action, Part 2: The Sphinx

So I’ve got this scene in SPRINGTIME PLEASURES where a character mentions travels in Egypt. Here is the relevant dialogue:

“And to Egypt?” Charlie asked.

“Indeed, I have.”

“Then have you seen the Sphinx? Is it as elegant as it appears in the prints?”

XY smiled. “I must confess I considered its head to be somewhat small. Indeed, there are those who believe that it once had a different head. A lion’s head, perhaps, to go with the rest of the body.”

“Surely, a lion is rather imposing, too,” Charlie said cautiously, “but a Sphinx is an altogether different matter!”

Innocent enough, right?

But it was only after I had written this that I vaguely remembered to have read an article on Egypt during the early 19th century. I also remembered that the Regency prints accompanying this article showed a Sphinx that was largely buried underneath the sand.

 AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!!!!!!! (The print on the cover of this issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World dates from 1804.)

This nicely illustrates the dangers of an innocent throw-away line in a historical romance, and the amount of research you might be obliged to do when you are determined to use such throw-away lines. Did people even know what was underneath the sand? Did they really suspect that she might have had a lion’s head once upon a time????

In the same scene I also happen to mention a zebra. *head desk* Since I wrote that scene, I have learnt about the menagerie in the upper rooms of the Exeter Exchange on the Strand and about the royal menagerie in the Tower of London, both of which operated long before the London Zoological Gardens opened. How I have to figure out whether one of them housed a zebra. *head desk, head desk, head desk*

Revisions in Action, Part 1

Regarding one particular scene, my editor’s notes read: “I wanted a more intense reaction on Charlie’s part. And she can realize that’s why he doesn’t seem interested in other things most young men of his kind would be […].”

So, among other things, I added a few more sentences to the following paragraph (additions in colour):

Too shocked to speak, Charlie stared at her. This was truly monstrous! The poor man! She remembered the lines of strain in his face that evening in those moments when his polite mask had slipped. No wonder he looked like three days of rain!  In his situation anybody could be excused if they suffered from an attack of the blue devils. Merely thinking about the gross injustice done to him made her feel sick.

(Also, Tortured Hero alert!)


With the usual amount of chaos and panicking, I finished SPRINGTIME PLEASURES on 14 July and sent the manuscript to my new editor, the lovely Bev Katz Rosenbaum. As I still had to write the love scene that very day (and when I finally got around to it, my characters just wouldn’t stop, and Griff turned out to be a bit a of a devil), I was – oh my gosh! – SOOOO happy for the time difference between Europe and North America.

Bev read the manuscript in one sitting and sent me a list with necessary revisions the very next day. Her critique started thus:

Sandra, I loved this book! What a great character you’ve created in Charlie! Your voice is so strong and unique, and you have a real gift for dialogue. This was a wonderful, witty read!

I’m totally keeping Bev. 🙂

She sent me a list with 18 things that, in her opinion, need improvement (that’s not counting the not-quite-finished scene with the Great Sphinx of Giza). In two cases, I don’t share her opionion, so these two points will be disregarded. That leaves me with 16 (mostly minor) things to work on this week. AND with the Sphinx, of course.

The print out of the manuscript has just finished, so I guess I better start working.

Designing Bookmarks

In all the first-weeks-of-term flurry (not to speak of the adding-the-finishing-touches-to-dratted-diss misery), lining up my promo material for the LoveLetter Convention was of somewhat minor priority. But with only one month to go till the big event, I decided it was high time to do something about bookmarks and pretty things I would be able to sign. So I sat down last night and started to design.

The last batch of bookmarks for Castle of the Wolf didn’t turn out all that nice (granted, this was partly my fault because I forgot to convert my file into a CYMK image, but there were also issues with the overall quality), so I looked around for some other options. Let’s hope I’ll get better results with the new printer of my choice.

Designing bookmarks for Springtime Pleasures turned out to be surprisingly difficult – I wanted a nice, dark green for the background, but my first attempts all looked rather lame. Luckily, I remembered my trusty swirls, fiddled around with transparency, fonts, and what not, and ended up with this:

I like my bookmarks rather clean and uncluttered, and I think this will do the trick nicely. What do you think?

Now I only have to decide on the punctuation of the tagline:

Caught between duty & desire … Which one will he choose?

Caught between duty & desire – which one will he choose?
Caught between duty & desire, which one will he choose?

Hmm ….

The Bestial Boar

The new term started on Monday, so the past few days whirled by in a flurry of preparations. I didn’t get much of anything done beyond stuff for uni. So I don’t really have any news for you except for …

… the Bestial Boar.

Specifically, an image of the Bestial Boar.

Yes, indeed, not sparing any effort, not caring about the great danger, I ventured forth to sketch a likeness of this mythical beast. And would you believe it? I was successful (well, more or less).

 The text is a snippet from Chapter 4 of Springtime Pleasures:

Charlie became aware that Lady Isabella was staring at her in a most peculiar fashion, which made her wonder whether she had committed another faux pas and whether wild boars were deemed an unsuitable topic in London society. She hadn’t seen any wild boars since her arrival, so perhaps they were considered unworthy of being talked about. Which was entirely unfair when they presented such a problem in other parts of the country.*


* This bit was partly inspired by a TV documentary about (urban) wild boars in Berlin, where apparently groups of wild boars roam through the suburbs and destroy gardens. 🙂


I’m working on the cover blurb for SPRINGTIME PLEASURES. This is what I’ve got so far. What do you think?

Caught between duty …

George Augustus Fenton Griffin, Viscount Chanderley has to marry – fast, for his father has ordered him to find a suitable wife this very season. Alas, the only woman Griff has eyes for is the very unsuitable Miss Carlotta Stanton, who is not only far too unfashionably tall but also wears the ugliest spectacles in all of England. Still, Griff is utterly bewitched by her intense green eyes. Yet however much he feels drawn to her joie de vivre, duty and honor demand that he stay far away from Miss Stanton.

… and desire

Dubbed “the Giantess” because of her unfortunate tallness, Charlie Stanton finds that the London season is far less glamorous than she has ever thought – not the least because she is consigned a place among the wallflowers. But then she befriends Lady Isabella and becomes acquainted with her very dashing brother Lord Chanderley, whose life is overshadowed by a terribly tragedy in his past. Ever ready to help other people, Charlie is determined to rid him of his Sad Melancholia – even if it means taking on wild boars and several highwaymen. Indeed, even if the handsome viscount remains maddingly elusive and obviously doesn’t want any help. However, the biggest challenge will be to overcome the handsome viscount’s belief that he doesn’t need any help at all. However, the biggest challenge will be the elusive viscount himself and his belief that he is beyond all redemption.

Cover Reveal!

And here it is: the preliminary cover (or rather, three slightly different versions of the cover) for the brandnew novel! What do you think? Which do you like best? (Updated to add: The edge of the lower part of the cover is different in each picture. *g*)

Springtime Pleasures will be the first in a series of four books: “A Love for Every Season” will follow the adventures of four young women who become fast friends in the course of a year. The men they meet are all strong and stubborn, and most unlikely partners for our heroines – or are they?

Names, names, names

Yesterday afternoon I had another of those pesky panic attacks, so I dived into my (very battered) 1833 copy of Debrett’s Peerage. I found a pressed clover, various notes in ink (reminded me of Sir Walter Elliott editing his family’s entry in the baronetage in Austen’s Persuasion), and a very good reason why upper-class men addressed one another by their last names or titles: they were all called John, Henry, Edward, John Henry, Henry Edward, George, Robert, George Augustus, George Edward, William, John William, John Edward William, James, James Edward, George John, Thomas, Thomas George, Richard, John Richard, Thomas William, etc. If you had walked into White’s and called “John”, at least ten men would have turned their heads. Not very useful.

There are a few variations to these names as some families used the mother’s maiden name as their heir’s first name. Thus Austen’s Mr. Darcy is called Fitzwilliam Darcy (we also learn that his cousin is Colonel Fitzwilliam, so Fitzwilliam is obviously the family name of the Earl of —, Darcy’s uncle). But judging from my copy of Debrett’s, it would appear the practice wasn’t that widespread.

You can also find some really fanciful names, like Sir Launcelot Lake (I kid you not). Incidentally, Sir Launcelot named his son after his wife’s family title: she was the daughter of the Earl of Warwick, so the son was called Warwick Lake. His son was Launcelot-Charles Lake, then followed a few Gerards, then finally Francis-Gerard Lake, the present [i.e. in 1833] Viscount Lake. (He is also Baron Lake.)

Even though I found quite a few George Augustus Fredericks listed in Debrett’s, I decided to re-name the hero of the brandnew novel because I realised that quite a few people I know have young sons called Frederick. So a romance hero called Frederick would have been … eh … weird.

I thought about replacing Frederick with Fenton, his mother’s family name, until I realised that it would have been his elder brother who would have been given that name.

So, scratch Fenton.

In the end, Griff became a mere George Augustus. I daresay the loss of a Christian name won’t bother him too much given his overall problems. (Note to self: Give all your heroes LOTS of problems so they won’t be bothered when you rename them.)

His very large cousin, by contrast, got the Fenton name: he is George Fenton Cole.

His other cousin is Edward Fenton, Baron Anson (or, Ed the Snake). (Though you won’t see much of Ed the Snake in Book No. 1)

As you can see, naming one’s characters is a tricky business, especially when you want to stay true to the time your story is set in. 🙂

3 Facts about the Brandnew Novel

  1. Charlie not only wears spectacles, but she is also very tall.
  2. This is considered a sad affliction by her aunt.
  3. Charlie considers footmen far more distressing:
“I am too tall.” She frowned, pausing for a moment. “Or perhaps the gentlemen are simply too short, whatever it is. I could live with that, I assure you, but the footmen!” She sighed, shaking her head.
“The footmen?” Mrs XY [poor woman, she doesn’t have a name yet] echoed, her brows raised.
“Yes. In London one cannot go out on one’s own, but is obliged to take one of them. Truly, for the life of me I cannot see what for, as they are not even armed.”
“Armed?” Mrs XY’s brows climbed even higher.
Charlie eyed her speculatively. Perhaps, having been out of the country for so long, Mrs. XY didn’t yet know the extent of the moral depravity to be found in England.

 Confidently, Charlie leaned towards her. “On account of the highwaymen.”

Yes, you guessed right: 3 facts about the aforementioned brandnew novel

  1. Carlotta feels very deeply for people who have got problems and she normally feels obliged to help them (mean-spirited people refer to this habit as meddling, which is completely untrue and utterly unfair).
  2. Griff has a problem. A big problem. (Remember that he has problems with his papa? His Big Problem is connected to that.) Griff himself doesn’t think he has a problem.
  3. Nevertheless, Charlie is determined to help him with his Big Problem, for one simply cannot have people of one’s acquaintance fall into a sad melancholia!
Miss Carlotta Stanton to Lady Isabella Griffin, by two-penny post
My dear Lady Isabella,
I hope this letter finds you well. Your brother has just called on us & I am positive that the lines on his face were harsher than 3 days hence. He looks positively haggard. I am convinced  that we ought to take Some Kind of Action to cure him of his Sad Melancholia. Indeed, dire measures are called for. Do you think it will cure him when he has to teach somebody to drive a high-perch phaeton? I asked James the footman (as the Most Likeliest Person in this household to know the answer to my question) & he informed me that the highest high-perch phaeton in all of London is owned by an Individual called Whitstock. […] I believe we ought to take Action as soon as possible to let your poor brother not continue in this sad state.

Your affectionate friend, Carlotta Stanton