The thrill of cutting book pages

Have you ever had to cut the pages of an old book in order to read it? It’s like venturing into virgin territory, a frontier. It never fails to thrill. 

I’m head-over-heels charmed by the “packaging” of Merilyn Simonds‘ limited edition letterpress collection of stories, The Paradise Project

The book is inside, and included is a paper-cutter to part the pages.

And have I mentioned? My copy is #1!

The book can still be reserved simply by e-mailing the publisher at 

For other posts I’ve written on this wonderful project, click here

For other news, I’m thrilled that almost all the Sandra Gulland Ink e-books are now on-line. I was shocked to discover that some have even sold. Imagine that.

I’ve created a Sandra Gulland Ink Facebook page which is picking up steam. Have a look here. The image of the covers is from the line-up on iTunes. Yes, I’m proud!  

I’m working on The Last Revise of The Next Novel, due at the end of September. I’m super pleased that in addition to HarperCollins Canada, it’s to be published by Doubleday in the U.S.

What do you think of this title? 

In the Service of the Shadow Queen

I’m also researching the life of Hortense, Josephine’s daughter, for the YAs I will write this winter (she said bravely). 

Yes, my head is spinning!

On visiting the past (present and future)

I’m very busy right now: the move back to Canada, a final draft of The Next Novel due soon, my Ink e-publishing on the verge of a launch … so my notes here will be sporadic and scattered over the next little while. 

Not that I don’t have a great deal to share!

I was struck this morning by an essay written by writer-friend Stephanie Cowell, “The Mystical World of Historical Fiction.” A quote:

To sustain the journey of writing a historical novel requires passionate interest, research, many rewrites, great skill, and the patience of a saint. Lives often do not come with plots; we have to create a plot to take the reader down the path of the story. We have to say, “Come with us. We will show you something wonderful.”

Other articles of interest:

What Makes a Critic Tick? Connected Authors and the Determinants of Book Reviews.”

An interview with Stephen King: “I never think of stories as made things; I think of them as found things. As if you pull them out of the ground, and you just pick them up.”

The image above is from BibliOdyssey:  Wendel Dietterlin’s 1598 work on baroque engravings -‘Architectura von Ausstheilung, Symmetria und Proportion der Fünff Seulen’. It evokes, for me, the revision process: one walks through a “finished” manuscript into a wreckage. One must have faith! 

The last cut

As readers of this blog know, I’m preparing to e-book publish all my novels for the UK and beyond. What I hadn’t factored into my schedule projections was the need to proofread and re-proofread the files, nor my natural impulse to revise a novel long after it had been published. 

And so — due to a comment from one of my ever-so-excellent volunteer proofreaders, Wally Rabbani — I have just made a cut to Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe that … yes … just a little, took my breath away! (There’s a scary thrill to cutting.) 

I cut the Prologue. Out!  (You can read it here.)

It’s written from the point-of-view of a ghost, Marie Antoinette. Josephine did believe that Marie Antoinette’s ghost haunted the Palace, and I wanted this ghost to have a role in the novel, but … no, that was too tricky (but for one scene, with hints). Hence, the ghost’s prologue at the beginning.

I’ve been fond of this prologue, but, as Wally pointed out, the reader just doesn’t need it. And he’s right. I think it’s a stronger novel without it, and that’s what counts. 

Have iPad, willing to proofread?

{Image: from the National Library of Serbia Manuscripts, Cetvorojevandelje 17th century, BibliOdyssey.}

Recently I put out an unusual request on my Facebook Fan Page, asking for volunteers with iPads to proofread the e-book editions of the Trilogy which will be published soon.

I got an amazing response from my awesome Peeps: 7 volunteered for the first, 7 for the second, and 3 are now working on the third. A number of those who are now still proofing the second are willing to read/proof the third, as well.

But now I have a forth — Mistress of the Sun — ready to be proofread. Do any of you have an iPad? And, if so, are you willing to take this on? I’d email you the file with instructions. Basically, if you see an error, you highlight it.

I should explain that the reason an iPad is important is that the file is in ePub format and it’s possible, in iBook, to highlight the typos and email them to me. I’m told that an ePub file can be read on other readers, as well (Sony, for example), but I’m not sure how easy it is to email in the errors.

If you have an iPad and you’re willing, send me an email: sgulland at sandragulland dot com.


No chuffing, please! On revising, again and again.

No chuffing, please! On revising, again and again.

{Cover of my e-book edition of Mistress of the Sun.}

In preparing to e-book publish my existing novels in the UK and beyond, I’ve had to revise, and then have them retyped and proofed. (Thank you so much, my FaceBook Fan Page readers!)

I, too, have had to carefully reread all of them, which has been quite an experience for me.

As well as timely.

In preparing to write a Young Adult novel about Josephine’s daughter Hortense, it has helped a great deal to re-read the Trilogy.

In writing This Bright Darkness (working title of The Next Novel) — a novel set in the Court of the Sun King — it’s been vital for me to reread Mistress of the Sun.

Firstly, I’ve recognized important changes I will need to make to This Bright Darkenss.

But secondly, I have had the opportunity to revise Mistress of the Sun. (The process never stops!)

At the Banff Book Discussion Weekend this last summer, a reader questioned the use of the word “shenanigan” in Mistress of the Sun.

Quite rightly! The first use of that word wasn’t until 1855.

I considered changing “No shenanigans—” to “No nonsense—”, but that didn’t quite convey the meaning I wanted. (Clorine is warning Petite not to have sex with old Gautier.)

Exploring possibilities in the on-line Oxford English Dictionary is one of the tasks I love best, so after some searching, I settled on another word. It’s quite old, quite rare and mysterious, but I think it gives more of a sense of Clorine’s meaning:

Clorine wagged a finger. “No chuffing—”

“Don’t worry!” Petite said, cutting her off before she said more.

Do you love it? It’s a word that goes back to 1200, and it means cheating, deceit, or falsehood. Plus, if you ask me, it sounds just a little bit rude.

Update: I admit I’m chuffed over how many have expressed interest in the word chuffing. (Thanks to Anita Davison for pointing out the modern English use of the word.)

Now, another change. Although “nickname” is a very old word, it feels modern to me — and, I suspect, to readers. Thus, I’m changing it to the dignified “sobriquet.”