Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre and Love & Scandal

Love & Scandal coverI was forcibly reminded this week of why I wrote Love & Scandal.

I am currently reading ‘Unquiet Soul‘, a fascinating biography of Charlotte Bronte, and remembered how the idea for Love & Scandal started.

When Charlotte Bronte wrote and published Jane Eyre, it became a huge hit immediately. It was overwhelmingly popular, but controversial, too. It was dark, and sexy, and melodramatic, and had a lot to say about a woman’s right to independence, and her equality of intelligence and depth of soul. George Lewes was fascinated by the book, as was Thackeray. Both praised the author, even while they had criticisms. Though Jane Eyre was published as if written by a man – even her publisher was supposed to think that – many speculated on the gender of the author.

A couple of years ago I was also reading about Charlotte Bronte. What if, I thought… what if someone else, a man, had claimed to be Currer Bell? As retiring at Charlotte was, she still had a true writer’s powerful ego. Would she not have charged off to London in search of the devilish gent who had presumed to pretend authorship of her master work, if her publisher offered her no aid to contradict such a falsehood? I think she would have.

At the Audible.com page for the audio version of Love & Scandal, one reviewer had this criticism: “This book is a classic case of an author trying to (sic) hard to please: Please their editor, their supposed fan base and even, no doubt, their misplaced desire to produce “something more then (sic) just the ordinary romance.” The mere fact that she felt the need to have almost every living author of the time make multiple appearances I think proves both points. I was very disappointed, and yet I think the author does have talent, it was just hidden behind the show she put on here.”

I understand where the reviewer was coming from; I have Trollope, Mrs. Gaskell, George Lewes and the future ‘George Eliot’, Maryann Evans, in the novel. But it was not out of some desire to produce ‘something more then (sic) just the ordinary romance’.  Perhaps I didn’t express it in a way that made it clear to the listener/reader, but my choices were made deliberately to explore the outcome had this ‘what if’ scenario happened to Charlotte.

I make no claims that she would have fallen in the sexual sense Collette does in Love & Scandal. But Charlotte had such a deeply passionate nature that if she had ever been met with someone who wanted her so badly, as Charles wants ColletUnquiet Soul coverte, you never do know. Charlotte’s one great love, for her Belgian teacher Monsieur Heger, was so all-consuming, I can’t help but believe she may have succumbed, had physical love been offered.

I was reminded of this as I read Margot Peter’s ‘Unquiet Soul’ a fascinating, if flawed (I think the author makes unfounded assumptions of the Bronte sisters’ internal, unexpressed feelings) biography. We’ll never know what would have happened had Charlotte gone to London in that first fiery furor over Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (some folks thought the two ‘Bell brothers’, Currer and Ellis, were one and the same writer), but it was so much fun to speculate in my flawed, but hopefully interesting dive into the Victorian literary scene.

So… it is fascinating to look back and remember, for an author, where the ideas for a book came from!

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2010. That’s about 11 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 13 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 159 posts. There were 8 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 366kb.

The busiest day of the year was March 15th with 146 views. The most popular post that day was Awaiting the Magic.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were donnaleasimpson.com, en.wordpress.com, facebook.com, yandex.ru, and amazon.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for black wolf, donna lea simpson, princess diana and sons, black wolf with blue eyes, and black wolf pictures.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Awaiting the Magic June 2009
4 comments

2

Princess Diana – Ten Years Ago Today August 2007

3

Taylor Swift on CMA awards show… Georgian period dress? November 2008
2 comments

4

Publishing History May 2007
4 comments

5

About Donna Lea Simpson May 2007
9 comments

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Love & Scandal – Available NOW!

Love & ScandalI’m so happy about how Love & Scandal is being received; the Night Owl Reviews review is wonderful! Check out my homepage – http://www.donnaleasimpson.com – for an excerpt of the review and a link!

eBooks, I am convinced, really are the wave of the future. I’d like to urge everyone, all the skeptics about eBooks, if you’ve always wondered what an eBook looks like, download a free copy of The Last Days of a Rake, the companion book to Love & Scandal, and have a look! You can even download, at Amazon.com, a ‘Kindle for PC’ eReader software for FREE, and then check out The Last Days of a Rake and… here’s the great thing… there are loads of other books available for FREE online.

In the coming days I’ll provide links to some of the FREEBIE eBook sites I’m finding.

Until then… enjoy Love & Scandal, the book and the real thing! 😉

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Song of Seduction – Carrie Lofty

Welcome, today to the talented Carrie Lofty, my fellow Carina Press historical romance debut author. I look forward to reading her elegant Song of Seduction! And isn’t this the most gorgeous cover?? The story has the unique setting of Vienna and the music world of the early nineteenth century!
Bravo… bravissimo!
~::~
Tormented by guilt. Haunted by scandal. Freed by love.
Song of Seduction

Austria, 1804

Eight years ago, composer Arie De Voss claimed his late mentor’s final symphony as his own and became an icon. But fame has a price: fear of discovery now poisons his attempts to compose a redemptive masterpiece. Until a new muse appears, intoxicating and inspiring him…

Mathilda Heidel renounced her own musical gift to marry, seeking a quiet life to escape the shame surrounding her birth. Sudden widowhood finds her tempted by song once more. An unexpected introduction to her idol, Arie De Voss, renews Mathilda’s passion for the violin–and ignites a passion for the man himself.

But when lust and lies reach a crescendo, Arie will be forced to choose: love or truth?

~::~

Excerpt from Song of Seduction:

Mathilda fled Arie’s studio after their first sexual encounter. She’s terrified of becoming entangled in a scandal, while he’s only just learned why the fates of her parents and husband keep her emotionally distant.

Hours after waking, she stared at a book without comprehension. Ingrid sat beside her, casually gazing at a magazine Christoph had brought from his recent travels in the north. For weeks, Mathilda had behaved like the worst sort of confidant, denying a lifetime of friendship by keeping her secrets close. She refused to provide Ingrid an explanation as to her sudden decision not to attend additional music lessons, and she recognized her friend’s quiet hurt. Wednesdays came and went, yet Mathilda did not leave the manor. The unspoken argument rested heavily between them.

A footman knocked and presented Mathilda with an envelope. She accepted the letter, immediately recognizing the hand that had scrawled her name.

“From Herr De Voss?”

Ingrid’s happy enthusiasm broke her heart. She wanted to scream and rail, to make her understand that her optimism had no place.

“Yes.”

“Open it.”

“No.”

“Oh do, Tilda. I know you want to.” She flipped another page. With an insincere lightness she said, “I promise not to watch your face for clues.”

Despite her crippling curiosity, Mathilda resisted the temptation. He had said he loved her. She had left without a word. What possible topic would compel him to write after weeks of silence?

“No, I shall wait. The maestro has nothing of importance to say to me.”

She cringed at the bitter sound of her lie. Most likely, he had a great deal to say, none of which would be complimentary.

“He probably wanted to remind you that today is Wednesday.” When Mathilda said nothing, Ingrid muttered, “Spite yourself.”

“What was that?”

“Suit yourself, dearest. Now, come have a look at this gown.”

In the afternoon quiet of her room, Mathilda opened the letter at last. Her imagination authored no small number of themes, from passionate declarations of longing to bitter, resentful diatribes against her callousness. After hours of speculation, two lines surprised her with their stark simplicity.

Come to the orchestra balcony of the Dom after Mass next Sunday. Kapellmeister Haydn wishes to meet you.

A blot of ink trailed the last sentence–a thought he had penned before attempting to obscure it. She shifted the paper into an angle of sunlight to examine the scribble more carefully.

Please.

He had written “please” before thinking better of the word.

Across the span of their acquaintance, a measure of months that had seen them progress from strangers to lovers and back, she had come to understand many of his traits. He was impetuous, diffident, inspired, passionate and even amusing. Now she could add proud to her mental catalog.

He refused to beg for her.

~::~

Visit Carrie and check out her other books at:

Carrie Lofty

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Two weeks to Love & Scandal!

I’m so excited… as a part of Carina Press’s launch month (Carina is Harlequin’s all-digital imprint) Love & Scandal is already exciting some great reviews and perks.

I am bursting with pride to announce that Love & Scandal will be one of the first five Carina titles to become an audio book available from Audible.com… watch for more news!

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10 Lies Writers tell to their Agents and Editors

In response to a very funny blog “Ten Lies Agents and Editors Tell You to Protect Themselves From the Crazies” I have my own list…

10 Lies Writers Tell Their Agents and Editors To Keep Getting Work

1 – Social networking is fun… even though it sucks the life out of my day, drains most of my creative juices and seriously makes me long for the days before computers.

Honestly, it makes a lot of us crazy to have to keep up with blogging, FaceBooking, Twittering ad infinitum, except for those few who seem to be able to do it and sustain a daily wordage that astounds. We lesser mortals hate those writers!
2 – I’m happy to pay out of pocket for some additional marketing and advertising… because I know darn well that since I’m not J. K. Rowling or Stephen King I’d better ante up and hope to God something works and people notice my book!

Yeah, we’re realists, but we can’t help but think that if someone just spent a leeeetle bit of money on promotion, we’d have a better shot at getting noticed!
3 – You’re the expert, and I’ll defer to your knowledge about the business aspect… while I wail and gnash my teeth that no one can see that the next big thing won’t be the next big thing until someone takes a chance on something unusual!

We all have our little gems tucked away, waiting for the trend to move, leviathan-like, toward it! We phantasize that then, we’ll take it out, polish it, and someone – editor or agent – will leap on it with glad cries of, ‘At last… just what we’ve been looking for!’

4 – I’m so glad you’re determined to tell me what you think about my characters/plot/word usage/theme… but you don’t know what you’re talking about. They are my babies, dammit… or… wait a minute, maybe you’re right about this one thing, and maybe that, too, and shoot… you’re probably right about it all.

Sigh. Unfortunately, saying the right thing in this case usually saves us from having to eat humble pie later, when we figure out that yes, the editor/agent really was right about that passage/character/metaphor/word usage.

5 – I don’t mind waiting for the advance/royalty check… and I’ll keep telling that lie again and again, while gritting my teeth and putting off the phone company, the gas company, the hydro company and the bank.

Why – oh why – does it seem as if everyone gets paid before the writer? What? Because that’s true? Noooo! Couldn’t be that!

6 – I can write anything… and will if it will get me a contract that actually guarantees me a good advance and the opportunity to keep working on what I really love.

Sad truth… I can write anything, but not well. Takes a long time to figure that out.

7 – I have no problem getting these corrections/proofs/revisions back to you by Monday… but I may slit my throat or drink myself into oblivion in the meantime.

Why does this kind of thing always happen just before the weekend that you promised yourself you were going to kick back and relax? Or… just as you’re tight on another deadline.

8 – I’m so happy for ___, (insert name of agent/editor’s other client/writer who just scored a three book deal)… and that has nothing to do with why I hate their guts.

Jealousy, get thee behind me! The only cure for this is to not focus so much on other people’s careers and keep track of my own.

9 – I’d write even if nobody paid me… that was true once, but now I know how hard this business is and someone is going to pay me to do this, goldarnit!

A writer is worth their hire, if they have worked long and hard and honed their craft. It’s true. I know, I know, the changing market and all that.  But a part of honing your craft is understanding the market and writing something that readers will appreciate, while still satisfying yourself!

10 – It’s not about the money… well of course it’s about the money! It’s always about the money.

See Number 9.

~::~

This is written with tongue firmly in cheek! I would write for free, really I would… but don’t tell my editors that!

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Carina Press launch video

Check it out!! My cover for Love & Scandal, my June 21st, 2010 title with Carina Press, is in here.

Also, I am blogging all day today Thursday, May 20th, 2010 – at Carina Press… First up…  http://carinapress.com/2010/05/love-scandal/

Drop in and talk to me!!

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