My editor likes it!

My editor likes it!

My editor, Iris Tupholme at HarperCollins Canada, likes my 5th draft of This Bright Darkness (working title) “very much.”

You can imagine how relieved and happy I feel.

This time, when I submitted the manuscript, I included a description — the type of thing a reader might read on the cover flap. It’s a draft, and too long, but here it is:

This Bright Darkness


When a maid’s duties include a lot more than making up the bed  . . . 


This Bright Darkness is a work of fiction inspired by the real life of a maid: Claude des Oeillets. The daughter of itinerant actors and therefore impoverished and socially scorned, she nevertheless rises to become the confidential attendant to the most powerful woman in the 17th century French court of the Sun King: Madame de Montespan, mistress of the charismatic king. However, in Claude’s so-called “respectable” position, she is required to obtain love potions and other magical charms as well as occasionally satisfy the king’s sexual needs (thereby bearing him a daughter).


Claude’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set: in the First Act, she’s the starving child of a family of caravan players, devoted to tending her beloved “half-wit” baby brother; in the Second, she’s with the greats of French theatre — Pierre Corneille, Molière, Racine — witnessing her mother’s amazing rise to stardom in the fantastical (but cut-throat) world of the 17th century French stage; in the Third, she’s front and center in the dazzling world of the charismatic Sun King.


Insinuating herself throughout the worlds of both the theatre and Court is the witch Catherine Voisin, sometimes benevolent and kind, but ultimately ruthless, a woman willing to sacrifice innocent lives in order to satisfy the corrupt desires of her wealthy clients. A woman who ultimately pays for her sins on the pyre — but not without exposing the rot at the heart of these glittering worlds.


Claude rises from poverty to a position of power and influence because she is loyal and can be trusted, a vow she made as a teen to her father — but as the mercurial Montespan becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King’s sexual favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claude must choose between betraying a trust or doing the right thing — an act which will put her own life at risk, as well as the lives of those she loves dearest.

What do you think? Edits welcome!

Beware the "Working Title"

One of the things I did yesterday was tackle the claim form for the Google Library settlement. I love Google Book for research, but I’m not really happy about the settlement because—according to a New York Times Book Review article—it gives Google a monopoly. The Google groups might be Good Guys now, but that may not always be the case.


Nonetheless, a settlement is a settlement, and my literary agency is advising their authors to fill out the claim form. I did, with the usual on-line form frustrations. But the puzzle (and surprise) was to discover that one of the Google Book listings for Mistress of the Sun is shown as: Mistress of the Sun: A Romantic Tragedy with Several Changes of Scene. Say what?

Readers of this blog might recall that this was the title of a very early draft of this novel—possibly the first one submitted to HarperCollins, my Canadian publisher. My guess is that that was the title on the contract and that somehow it got picked up by Google Book. I’m rather charmed to discover this—I’m fond of this title—but it cautions me to be wary in the future. What I think of as a “working title” might easily become etched forever in the ethernet airwaves.