Tag Archives: Uncategorized

A Risky Business: Driving around Nineteenth-Century London

Today I’m once again guest-posting on Risky Regencies, and I’ve picked a really, really, REALLY risky topic: traffic woes in nineteenth-century London! 🙂 For this I dug out some of the research I’ve done for my three novellas (the smiley paper-clips might be familiar to some of you by now) and for past conference papers (have I already mentioned how much I love it that I can use my academic research for my creative projects???), for example all the newspaper snippets on the dangers of wooden pavement.

You can read the whole post here: Traffic Woes in Nineteenth-century London

Off to Freiburg

I’m off to Freiburg for a short academic conference on book history and print culture. Yesterday was one of those typical (typical for me, that is) pre-conference days:

  • Checked weather report for Freiburg
  • Said “Waaaaargh! What do you mean, rain on Thursday?!?!?!?”
  • Panicked.
  • Made sure my shoes (for walking around) are waterproof
  • Worried  about my conference shoes (What if I get wet feet?)
  • Loaded the mini-Kindle.
  • Wondered whether four full-length mysteries plus all Mapp & Lucia novels will suffice. (I will come back home on Saturday.)
  • Just to be on the safe side, I also copied Howard’s The Complete Mackenzie Collection and a few Suzanne Brockmann books onto the Mini-Kindle. (Just in case I’m in the mood for a nice romance novel.) (Or in case all the books I just bought turn out to be horrid.) 
  • Packed conference notebook and writing notebook.
  • Packed sketchbook and watercolors.
  • Agonized over which suitcase / bag to take.
  • Panicked.
  • Packed suitcase
  • Panicked some more.
  • Finished paper
  • More panic (Waaaargh! It’s already 11:30 p.m.!!!!)
  • Put together some kind of PowerPoint presentation.
  • Went to bed.
  • Couldn’t sleep.


Website Update

Last night I’ve updated my website and made it all shiny and new: there are new sections (e.g. the “News” bit on the frontpage), new pages (“In the Press” for articles and interviews), new research articles, and …

… new pages for both Betrayal and Springtime Pleasures. With excerpts!!!

Moreover, I’ve got a shiny, new newsletter, for which you can sign upto receive updates about my books and some additional goodies.

I hope you’ll enjoy the new site!

Welcome to the People on Goodreads and Amazon!

Today I continued with my babysteps to reclaim my writing career (and I can’t begin to tell you how good this feels!!!!):

  • I continued to proofread Bewitched in order to get it ready for a relaunch;
  • I updated my profile on Goodreads and managed to add my blog to my author page (whee!);
  • and I finally, finally, finally set up my author pages on amazon.com, .co.uk, and .de (more to follow).

So I’d like to extend a warm welcome to everybody who comes to this blog from these sites. It’s so lovely to have you here!

What a nice start to a new month this day was! 🙂

In the works: BETRAYAL

Do you remember that novella which I wrote for my now defunct podcast (*cough* and which I never finished *cough*)? I expanded the story and plan to post an updated (free) audio version soon. This is the blurb:

On a golden day in early summer, two young boys meet in the crowded streets of Florence and change the lives of a man and a woman forevermore.

For seventeen years Ash has been eaten up alive by bitterness and hatred, caught fast in the clutches of the past. For seventeen years he has not been able to look at the boy he raised as his heir and not remember the terrible betrayal he had to endure. And yet, for seventeen years he has closed his eyes against the even more terrible truth …

Seventeen years ago Georgina fled from England and all she ever held dear. But for the sake of her child, she must return to confront the man whom she once loved more than life itself until lies and deceit tore her life and marriage apart.

Will their love stand a second chance?

Part of the story is set in what is hands down my favourite house in the whole wide world: the Villa unter den Linden. The current house was built in 1904 by the factory owner Herbert von Meister. Rather than moving to a more posh town like his relatives, he decided to have his new house built on the banks of the river Main, with a view of his factory right across the river.

The name “unter den Linden”, under the linden trees, is a bit of a misnomer because the trees that line the drive today are chestnuts. But there once was a drive lined by linden trees: this belonged to the old house which had been torn down to make room for Herbert von Meister’s villa.

My use of the current house in a novel set in the early nineteenth century might be anachronistic, but I love the house so much that I simply had to put it into one of my books.

This is the beginning of Chapter 1:

In the roseblush morning room of the Villa under the Linden Trees, Mrs. Georgina Crawley took breakfast with her employer and read the newspaper to the old lady. Once upon a time, she had had a morning room of her own, a house of her own, servants of her own, but that was all so far in the past that she hardly ever dwellt on it any more. Indeed, it was all so long ago, it now felt like another lifetime to her, a dream of a distant past, easily forgotten. She had built a new life for herself here in this villa on the river, in one of the small towns that spread along the river Main west and east from old, venerable Frankfurt like pearls on a string. 
Paper rustled as Georgina turned the page. “It seems that young Dr. Rüppell has been sending Egyptian artefacts to the naturalist society in Frankfurt.”
“Naturalist?” Frau Else snorted into her coffee. “What a fancy word for butterfly-hunters and bone collectors! What is the world coming to, I ask you, when boys fresh out of school deem it necessary to dash off to some faraway places, simply to dig up bones or, worse, drag home some poor, wee beasties.” The old woman’s eyes narrowed as a new thought occurred to her. Judging from her expression, it was a most dreadful thought indeed. “Do you think he will bring back a camel?”
Georgina glanced at the paper and quickly scanned the article. “There is no mention of a camel.”

“He will want to bring back a camel. Or even an elephant. These people always do.” Frau Else shook her head.

Escaped from Deadline Hell!

I spent the past few days in deadline hell, scrambling to finish an article that was due on Thursday (didn’t make it till then; I needed a day longer for proofreading and polishing). After weeks and weeks and weeks filled work, today was the first day I could take off and not feel guilty about it. Whew! Let me tell you, the feeling went quite to my head. 🙂

In order to celebrate the finished article, I decided I would order some new watercolours because I recently realised I would be able to modify my trusty waterbox and add a couple more half pans (yay!). So spent an hour or so poring over colour charts (not that I hadn’t thought this through before, but hey, you want to be absolutely, 100% certain that the stuff you’re about to order is really the stuff you want), then I went a bit crazy in my sketchbook thinking about all the crafty DIY stuff I’m going to do to my watercolor box …

double page from my Moleskine sketchbook showing my watercolor box (real size – it’s that small!) with my current palette

 … then I had lunch, then I went shopping for bananas (since I’ve started with Weight Watchers, I can’t have enough bananas at home), then I watched TV (Murder She Wrote) (I LOVE Murder She Wrote – nice and cozy, no disgusting shots of people’s innards, no totally disturbed serial killers) with the kitteh on my nap and my sketchbook right next to me and practiced trees by copying the sketches from James Richards’s Freehand Drawing and Discovery. Though the book is primarily targeted at designers and architects, it is quite useful for interested amateurs *g* as well, for it includes a host of tips how to draw lively urban landscapes. One of the exercises involves trees. So trees I doodled. This is one of the results.

(I added the watercolour later, without the telly and without the cat.) (I really don’t like the way the paper in Moleskine sketchbooks look when you scan the pages and I can’t wait to start a new sketchbook!)

LoveLetter Convention 2012

For me, one of the highlights of 2012 was attending the very first LoveLetter Convention back in May. The conference was organised by the fantastic team of the LoveLetter Magazin and took place in Berlin-Spandau, which is about a 20-minute train ride away from the city centre. In other words, it’s just close enough to enjoy the sights of the big city, but also small enough to make somebody like me feel thoroughly comfortable (I’m so not a big city girl).

Spending two whole days in the company of romance readers and other romance writers was a treat in itself. In addition, the trip presented me with the opportunity to test my new sketching skills: I only brought my new instant camera and a sketchbook. The advantages of bringing a sketchbook became obvious quite early on: back at home, I had covered the first pages with a map of Spandau and had marked where the station was, where my hotel was, and where the conference would take place. Thanks to doing this map, I didn’t need to consult a map once I had arrived in Spandau.

The next big advantage of bringing a sketchbook became obvious when I took a walk around Spandau that first afternoon and did some quick sketches: not only does sketching make you look closer at things, but it also makes other people talk to you. It’s amazing, really. Complete strangers will come up to you and start a conversation and tell you things about the stuff you’re drawing. 🙂

This became even more obvious when I went to Berlin the next day. My first stop was the famous Alexanderplatz (I can’t say I was impressed …), where I sketched the “Alex”, the TV tower and then went up the Alex. I was lucky enough that the first view I had when I stepped up to the enormous glass windows was of the Brandenburger Tor – and so I started sketching, while around me people hastened around, taking picture after picture with their digital cameras and not taking in the sights at all. I received A LOT of funny stares, but when I moved on and started on the cathedral and then the “Fat Hermann” (a watertower), I suddenly heard somebody saying behind me, “Oh WOW, look what she’s doing. She’s drawing.” And another voice, “What? What is she drawing?” “The Fat Hermann,” I said and showed them. By that time, half a school class of fifteen-year-olds had assembled behind me and stared at me as if I were a two-headed calf or something. Then they took pictures of me (definitely two-headed calf!) and my sketches: I suddenly had become one of the sights of Berlin. *ggg*

But it didn’t stop there: Once I was back down on the ground, I spotted a donut shop and decided to have a donut lunch. In the shop, a young woman started a conversation with me because she had seen me sketching up on the tower. The whole experience was just surreal. Nice, but surreal.

I spent the rest of the afternoon on a tourist bus tour, which took me past the most important sights of Berlin and several of the very cute Buddy Bears, which you can find all around the city. Of course, we also saw the famous Checkpoint Charlie and the remains of the Berlin Wall, and I covered several pages with quick, rather shaky sketches.

On Saturday, the conference started and because I was moderating panels throughout the day, I didn’t get to do a lot of sketching. However, I did manage to squeeze in a quick drawing of our fantastic dinner at the restaurant in the Zitadelle Spandau, a Renaissance fortress. The next day more panels followed. It was fun, but hard fun: I had initially thought my task merely consisted in introducing the panelists. As it turned out, I was also supposed to ask them interesting questions. So I had to improvise (a lot!), which kept me on my toes (figuratively speaking). By the end of the day I felt pretty much wrung out, so it came as a wonderful surprise to find that two girls had left a whole box full of donuts in the conference office for the conference team. Wheeee!!!! I definitely needed that sugar rush! 🙂

One of the best things about such conferences is to meet new people and people you’ve already met before; to chat with readers and authors and editors and publishers; to talk romance almost nonstop. So it won’t come as a surprise to you when I tell you how much I’m looking forward to this year’s conference. 🙂 I will once again moderate the panels and *fingers crossed* this time I might even have a new book to sign.

And of course, I will bring my sketchbook.

(Btw, if you’d like to take a look at somewhat bigger pictures of the sketches from the mosaic above, hop over to the Flickr album)

Discrimination is still discrimination even if you dress it in magic

Let me tell you a story …

Once upon a time there was a Romance Writers of America Chapter. They called themselves Romance Writers Ink and decided their purpose would be

to promote excellence in romantic fiction, to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy, to provide a general basis of mentorship to any writer who is actively, and seriously striving to become published and thus establish a career in the romance genre, as well as to provide a camaraderie for writers within the romance publishing industry.

They also had one annual contest for published writers, the More than Magic, which had the following categories:

  • First Book
  • Historical
  • Novella
  • Paranormal
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Sensual Contemporary
  • Single Title
  • Sweet Contemporary

Oh wait, and there was yet another category:

  • Erotic Romance

Oh yes! They had a special category for erotic romance! Weren’t they cool? And forward-thinking? (At this point I would like you to think about what’s really hot — pun intended — in erotic romance right now …)

The judges for this contest were recruited not just from the RWI chapter, but various other RWA chapters as well, and naturally, all judges were romance readers. Regular romance readers.

And then in 2012, RWI added a little amendment to their contest rules, namely the following little jewel:

Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category.

In other words: gay and lesbian characters need not apply.

Why? you might ask (and you wouldn’t be alone).

Kari Gregg, who writes M/M erotic romances, sent an e-mail to the More than Magic contest coordinator to ask exactly that. The reply she got stated

that RWI chapter members were “uncomfortable” with accepting same-sex contest entries. “Same-sex was just too much.”

So apparently, aliens with interesting appendages, sex-crazed werewolves, vampires with exotic tastes, slutty rakes, zombies, forced seductions, outright rape, vanilla sex, masturbation, anal sex, threesomes, foursomes, orgies are all okay and perfectly acceptable, but two homosexual partners in a loving relationship are too much?

Excuse me?!

To make matters worse, it would seem that at the RWA offices nobody feels inclined to call out such discriminatory behaviour.

And to make matters even more worse, on some RWA loops, some members showed themselves astonished over the uproar and cautioned others to actually use the word “discrimination”.

Would they be as nonchalant if the revised contest rules statet that “MTM will no longer accept entries with African American characters in any category”? Or perhaps, “MTM will no longer accept entries with Jewish characters in any category”? Do we really need to spell out how crass this kind of discrimination is?

The changes that Romance Writers Ink made to their contest rules are discriminatory and unacceptable.