Tag Archives: WIP

In Deadline Hell

In case anybody wonders: I haven’t fallen off the edges of the earth, I’ve merely stumbled into deadline hell. I’m waaaaaay behind with this project, so it will be a small miracle if I manage to finish it in time. And as always, I worry that reading the outpourings of my Muse might kill my poor editor. In other words: Same procedure as every year. 🙂

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The Inspirational Value of Finger Exercises

Last night I wrote a scene in which my heroine plays finger exercises on the piano (finger exercises tend to be somewhat dull and monotonous – in other words, they’re just perfect for a heroine who feels sad and depressed) (yes, I like torturing my characters, but then you already knew that, didn’t you?). So I dug out my old piano music and studied the book with finger exercises, Hanon’s Der Klaviervirtuose (yes, indeed, I’ve got a WHOLE BOOK of finger exercises – the bright red book of horror). I laughed out aloud when I stumbled across the following note written by my piano teacher: “Please don’t place the fifth finger of your left hand like a fried sausage on the keys!” Needless to say that I just had to use this in my story. 🙂

And here’s the raw scene (note: the cousin is not the hero, and as you’ll see, the poor chap doesn’t have a name yet, though I did try out Edward & decided against it; for now, the cousin is XX):

Susanna sat at the piano and concentrated very hard on the finger exercises she was practicing. The left hand was still too weak, the notes too uneven. Drat that little finger! And the ring finger!

She started again, concentrating even harder.

51213141 – 51213141 – two octaves up, and then all the way down again – 15453525…

“Drat,” she said as her little finger failed to comply. “And again.”

15453 –

The door opened, and her cousin walked into the drawing room.

– 525 – 15453525….

From the corner of her eyes she watched him sit on the sofa in that nonchalant, but elegant sprawl that was so characteristic of [Edward? No, not Edward – we’re not in Twilight for heaven’s sake!]

The fifth finger missed a key.

XX flinched.

Susanna swore softly. Start again, at the top.

15253545 – 15 –

Her little finger hurt, but she only gritted her teeth and continued. If she concentrated hard enough, she would master this, she was sure of it.

– 45352 –

“Are you intent on torturing that piano for the rest of the afternoon?” came her cousin’s somewhat pained voice from across the room.

Susanna clenched her jaw. “Yes,” she forced out. “As long as my little finger lies on the keys like a fried sausage, I will continue with this.”

“Don’t you worry your ears might start to bleed?” he drawled.

Susanna scowled at her fingers. She would not deign this with an answer.

She would not.

My ears might start to bleed,” he said plaintively.

I need a hero…

Actually, I need two …

Well, three …

Um … four?

Better go with four because you’ll never know what might happen. They might come in handy and all that. Just sayin’.

So last night I was casting heroes for my spring project. (I know it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.) Since I had already cast Damian Lewis (loved him in LIFE and THE BAKER) as one of them, and one of Kim Killion’s male models as another (the advantage of self-publishing? you can make sure that the descriptions in your novel fit the pictures of the people on the cover!), I decided to do a casting for the rest of them, too.

The chap whose story I’m currently writing is Robbie Beaton: when we meet him, he is in his early twenties; he’s got a boyishly round face and a sweet smile (yeah, definitely beta material *g*) (but hey, not all of my heroes can be dark and crumpy! we need some variation!). I had a vague, fleeting idea of how he looked, and I was pretty certain that I had unconsciously based him on somebody I had seen (in other words, on a real-life person), yet I just couldn’t figure out who that might be.

But hey, we’ve got Mr. Google! 🙂

So I asked Mr. Google “actor round face.”


How about “young actor round face”?

(Actor, Mr. Google, acTOR, not acTRESS!!! Argh!)

I’m afraid that particular experiment was not altogether successful, given that among the first few results of this image search were a guy with very sharp cheekbones, a guy with an off-putting self-satisfied smirk on his face (Note: People whom you’d like to slap at first sight, don’t make for good heroes.), a rather worrying picture of Anjelica Huston, Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia, a bloated Boris Becker (dearie me, what has happened to him?!?!?), several women, a scary Snow White holding a little girl hostage – but no Robbie Beaton.

Right. So let’s try “young actor round face sweet smile”.

Thank you, Mr Google. I do like Tom Hiddleston, and I do like Richard Armitage as well, but really, they’re not Robbie Beaton. Sorry. Also, what’s with all the women????? I’m still not looking for an actress with a round face and a sweet smile!

Eventually it was my brain which made the connection between “young actor round face sweet smile” and the image I was looking for: Kevin Whately! No wonder then it took me a while to figure this out: after all, I had lately seen him only in Lewis (one of my favourite TV shows). There he plays Detective Inspector Robert “Robbie” (see? see? my brain is working in strange and wonderful ways!) Lewis, a reprisal of his earlier role in Inspector Morse. Whately has this very homely face (in Lewis it’s a rather crumpled homely face; the young, smooth version can be found in Inspector Morse), but his smile is just adorable.

So there you have it: a young Kevin Whately as sweet, boyish Robbie Beaton, and a smouldering, intense Damian Lewis as William MacNeil. Now all I need to do is to move Robbie and Mac up to Ayrshire. 🙂

Btw, I’ll soon send out a newsletter with an update on my projects for 2014. There will be cover reveals and a special free goodie, too. Curious? Then make sure to sign up for my newsletter!

Two Conspirators

My heroine, Carlotta, and her new friend are up to no good …

“I think that went very well,” Charlie whispered to Lady Isabella as she pushed the wheeling chair after the elderly lady. “You were truly splendid!”

The other girl shot her a blushing glance accompanied by a shy smile. “Would it be very wicked of me to admit that –” The blush deepened. “– that I enjoyed myself?”

Charlie grinned. “Oh, no! It’s the spirit of St. Cuthbert’s, you see.”

They caught up with the lady who had led them across the room to a table where a group of young gentlemen lounged in their seats. Charlie surveyed them critically. So one of those was the fabled Mr Whitstock, owner of the most splendid phaeton in all of London.

(from a scene I wrote last night)

From my Sketchbook

In the past months I tried several things to kickstart my creativity. Sewing is a great creative outlet, but ultimately, it didn’t help me to get back into writing. So at the beginning of this year, I started a sketchbook. I blame this on Amazon and Amazon’s book recommendations: among the books that appeared on my page were several about mixed media designs and creating sketchbooks of one’s everyday experiences. I loved the idea, thought it might be helpful, and bought a shiny new Moleskine notebook as well as some fancy pens.

First thing I did was to create a title page:

You can see the starting date on the bottom left corner — dating my notebooks is a habit from the time when I used to write poetry. (Oh wait, did I say notebook?)

Anyways, I dutifully dragged the sketchbook to university to start on drawings concerning my everyday life. As you can see, I decided that the dirty tea mug on my office desk would make a great still life AND could be combined with a still life of my tea mug at home. Cool, eh?

That was kind of fun. Alas, at that point I realised that the paper of the notebook was actually too thin for the fancy pens I had bought. (Duh.) So I started to use a pencil instead. (Oh wait, did I say notebook again?)

Next I tried my hand at a collage kind of thing. Well, not really a collage. More like, “let’s take a glue stick and glue something into our shiny bright sketchbook”. Tea mug, tea bag, gettit?

For my next everday object to sketch, my choice fell on Teh Kitteh. The strange drawing on the right side? The snow-capped mountains and the lush valley inbetween? That’s Cara sleeping in her kitty bed, and the snow-capped mountains are in fact the corners of a pillow. To fill the page I also did a study of her kitty nose and her kitty paw and … Uh, that’s kind of boring. And the results aren’t too good either. (I spare you the sight of the next page where I tried drawing with my left hand.)

And then something really wonderful happened: on the page after the unsightly left-hand drawings, I started to play around with words. And the words turned into chapter headings for the WIP.

And then suddenly, I was scribbling away at a scene …

And after that, the sketchbook turned into a notebook, which I filled with scene after scene, interrupted by some odd comments like this one:

Or maps, like this one:

To my delight I found that my plain black Moleskine notebook is also useful for other things apart from drafting a novel: it is also extremely helpful for drafting the acknowledgments of the dratted diss:

In short, I LOVE my little black notebook!

Goody for the First Advent Sunday

Since I can’t invite you all for Advent afternoon tea, I’ve decided to give you another kind of goodie: a snippet from the WIP. In this scene my heroine, who spent the past few years at a (finishing) school far away from London society, attends her first ball. Enjoy!

This, this wonderful ball was magical — from the candles blazing from the chandeliers, bedecked with crystals that glittered like icicles, to the sweet sounds of the small orchestra.

Imagine that! An orchestra playing the music for a ball! It was so much more … refinded than Miss Riggs’s efforts on the piano during the dancing lessons at St. Cuthbert’s.

And best of all: to dance with a gentleman instead of a fellow student! Why, her insides had been all aflutter during the first few dances (even though she had told herself sternly that such silliness was the first step of becoming an utter henwit).

Lightbulb Moment

After some serious thinking and heavy browsing of my Oxford Dictionary of First Names, I’ve finally found the perfect nickname for my unfortunate secondary character in the WIP: Dodo! (From rabbit to extinct bird – that’s not such a big improvement, is it?) And here he is, the Honourable Adolphus Fenton Cole:

With a thunder of hooves the man who was rumoured to be the least well-favoured gentleman of all of London rode up to their landau. His light-blond hair, or what could be seen of it below his hat, bore a strong resemblance to straw; his nose had once been called a potato-shaped appendage; and his hands were as big as the blade of a large – a very large – spade.

Button Love & WIP

O, the things you do to keep yourself from grading papers! I, for example, are in the process to succumbing to red hot button-lust. Aren’t these darlings pretty?

I’ve already got these – I love the slight retro touch. They would look lovely on a pastel pink Sencha blouse.

But these are very cute, too:

And these:

And these, too:

Apart from succumbing to button-lust, I’m also smooching with the Muse again these days. (Yay! She’s back!!!!). And I’m happy to report that I’ve got names for my hero (George Augustus Frederick Griffin) and heroine (Carlotta Staunton, short Charlie), for her best friend (Emma-Louise, short Emma-Lee) and that I’ve finished the first chapter this morning. 🙂

O What a Circus!

Got those today. Ain’t they pretty? And I’ve bought enough fabric for two quilts! 🙂

In other news: My heroine has now got a gun in her carpet bag. O the things you pick up on the journey from Edinburgh to London!

And more: Yesterday I blogged about the Pre-Raphaelites on Unusual Historicals.