The terrors of publication

The terrors of publication

Because I publish only every four or five years, in spite of my best intentions — in spite of being at my desk virtually every day for hours! — I forget how fraught the publication process is.

The first sign of “nerves” is going into a tizzy over the cover. I virtually never go into tizzies, but this almost always happens over a cover! And then into a tizzy again over the jacket copy: is it ever just right? And then there are the discovered typos that must be corrected right up until the hour before the book, my baby, hits the press. (I imagine this as a violent collision, not a birth — how strange is that?)

And then: a long, long moment of silence (please, as for a memorial). The book is in print. My job is done.

Ha. Not quite. What’s to come is the scariest part, and that’s the worry, the thoughts of all the ways in which The Novel could have been better. (For it continues to live in motion in my mind.)

The memory of how rushed writing it had been at the end, and how — no doubt — readers will be disappointed. It will be beautiful to behold, I know — such a lovely cover now! — but will it enchant?

Enchantment does not come easy, especially these days.

And then, among the early reviews, I read:

I enjoyed this book so much that I’ve read it twice already!

This is from “Leslie U,” whom I do not know. I want to print this sentence on a banner and pin it over my desk. (Maybe I will.) It’s what I aspire to!

I breathe. Maybe it’s going to be all right. There will be readers who like The Game of Hope. Not everyone, I know, but some.

Leslie U goes on to say:

Being a fan of the Josephine B. Trilogy, I have been anticipating this novel from Ms. Gulland. Her tale about the life of Josephine’s teenaged daughter Hortense and her recovery in the wake of the French Revolution is both realistic and poignant. Roommates, letters home, teenage crushes and innocence brought it to life for me. I especially enjoyed the way the Lenormand Cards were woven throughout the novel. I’ve purchased a deck to play the Game of Hope myself!

Ah, the wonderful Game Of Hope. I often cast those cards as I was writing Hortense’s story.

Maybe I should cast them now, ask: How are you doing, Hortense?


{Photo at the top is by Bank Phrom on Unsplash.}

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La Chantereine revealed

La Chantereine revealed

While researching The Game of Hope, intrepid traveller and fellow Francophil Ann Coombs sent me photos she took at a special exhibition at Malmaison. This was the one that took my breath away:

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It’s a mock-up of the house Josephine rented before she met Napoleon, then on Rue Chantereine. After his victories in Italy, the street was renamed Rue de la Victoire, and Josephine had the house decorated in a military theme, a style she used again years later at Malmaison.

The tented entry is very like the one she added to Malmaison:

Malmaison

I thought Josephine made the tented addition to the house after marrying Napoleon, but according to “The House on the Rue de la Victorie” by Ira Grossman, she did this before she’d even met Napoleon. “She turned the terrace of the house into a veranda under a wooden tent which was hung with cotton draperies and decorated with painted or carved flags and pennants.”

It was especially exciting to see a mock-up of Chantereine because there was so very little known about this house. In writing about Hortense, I had a more accurate sense of the place.

Click here to read more of what I’ve discovered about enchanting Chantereine.

See also: The House on the Rue de la Victoire.SaveSave

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Subscribe to my newsletter and get a chance to win a book or an Audible edition of the Josephine B. Trilogy

Subscribe to my newsletter and get a chance to win a book or an Audible edition of the Josephine B. Trilogy

 

I’ve a newsletter about to go out, and I want to remind my wonderful readers who aren’t on my newsletter mailing list that you’re missing a chance to win one of my books — or (for the first time!) win an Audible edition of the entire Josephine B. Trilogy. The choice would be yours.

Click here to sign up. (Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.)

Wonderful early reviews for The Book of Hope

Some readers have received an Advance Readers Copy (an “ARC”) of The Book of Hope, or read a free copy on NetGalley. It’s not possible for them to post reviews on Amazon until publication day, but it is possible to post a review on GoodReads and NetGalley.

It’s exciting (and anxious-making) to see early reviews coming in. My favourite so far is this one from Chelsea M. on NetGalley:

“Loved this read! It had me hooked!” 

Swoon. That’s the best review a book can get, in my opinion. Thank you, Chelsea M., whoever you are.

Beta reader love

Here is a photo of one of my wonderful Beta Readers, Vanessa Van Decker, with the Canadian ARC of The Book of Hope.

 

Vanessa wrote that she was moved to tears to see the book. I myself was moved to tears to see the photo (above) of her smiling face with The Game of Hope in her hand.

Readers are so very special, and my team of young Beta Readers who read and commented on the early drafts of this novel were absolutely amazing.

An idea

Early readers: send me a selfie with The Game of Hope and I’ll post it to my website. A photo of the chocolate madeleines you make would be extra special. :-)

Why pre-order?

Pre-orders inform a publisher that the book is going to sell well, which publishers in turn communicate to bookstores. In short: it’s a very nice thing fans can do to help both a book and an author.

  • Amazon.ca (due out May 1, in time for Mother’s Day, hint, hint :-)
  • Amazon.com (due out June 26, in time for summer reading :-)

For more buying options, click here.

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On Hortense’s creative process and how “Partant pour la Syrie” came into being

On Hortense’s creative process and how “Partant pour la Syrie” came into being

Hortense was an exceptionally creative person. At Madame Campan’s Institute she was fortunate to have Isabey for an art instructor and Jadin for music. Hortense painted and composed songs throughout her life, but she is most known for the song “Partant pour la Syrie,” which remains popular today. You can hear a lovely performance of this song here, by a singer wearing a gown very much like one Hortense might have worn.

Partant pour la Syrie

Hortense’s creative process

How did this song come to be written? What was Hortense’s creative process? There are hints in something she wrote:

At Constance, I had few books and no collection of poems in which I could find words. I once made some verses for my brother; I tried to compose, but the obligation to find a rhyme, to confine myself to a measure, soon tired me and after a few bad verses, I was left to the music. (See the French original below.)

This gives us an idea about Hortense’s creative process: she would write melody, and search in books for the verse.

Partent pour la Syrie

She wrote that she wrote “Partent pour la Syrie” at Malmaison, while Josephine was playing tric-trac, an old form of backgammon. The date she composed it isn’t known. One theory is that Hortense wrote the melody, and that the words were created by Alexandre de Laborde in or about 1807.

Under the Restoration (when Napoleon was overthrown and monarchy restored), “Partent pour la Syrie” became the rallying song for those in support of Napoleon. Hortense’s son Napoleon III made it a national hymn.

Hortense as composer

As an adult, Hortense composed many songs, then called “Romances.”

Hortense book cover Hortense book cover

You can “leaf” through this lovely book online: here.


A Constance, je n’avais que peu de livres et aucun recueil de poésies où je pusse trouver des paroles. J’avais fait autrefois quelques couplets pour mon frère; j’essayai d’en composer, mais l’obligation de trouver une rime, de me renfermer dans une mesure me fatigua bientôt et, après quelques mauvais vers, j’en restai à la musique.

—from “La reine Hortense et la musique” by Marie-Claude Chaudonneret in La Reine Hortense, Une femme artiste, a publication made for the 1993 exposition at Malmaison, France.

A great review of The Game of Hope — and how you can request a galley for yourself

A great review of The Game of Hope — and how you can request a galley for yourself

I was thrilled to read this lovely review of The Game of Hope on Net Galley. Here are some quotes:

Sandra Gulland demonstrates a masterful grasp that she has on history in her book The Game of Hope. While some authors struggle to convince their audience that they are educated in history and to fully immerse their readers in their story, Gulland has no problem displaying her understanding of post-revolution France and therefore invites her readers into a well-developed universe of Hortense de Beauharnais.

This book is well written for younger audiences of teenage girls, connecting them to the past with common issues that all preteen girls face in a timeless fashion. Gulland does not pump Hortense’s 1780 mind full of 2017 ideas, which is a genuinely refreshing change to the typical YA historical novel.

… for most preteen girls, this is still a wonderful introduction to history through the eyes of someone just like them, who truly lived, breathed, thought and felt in the same ways that they do.

How to get a copy for yourself

Should you wish to read The Game of Hope, you can request a copy on Net Galley in exchange for a review: 

(My apologies: earlier I had posted that a copy of the book would be free. Well, that is true, it would be free, but it’s up to the publisher to decide who will receive the free copies, and I don’t know what their criterion is. I’m sorry if I dashed your hopes. I was fairly excited about it myself.)

But if, by hook or by crook, you do get a copy of The Game of Hope, and if you love it, I would really appreciate if you would post the review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Reviews on these sites really matter, especially before a book is actually published.


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I wanted to simply put hearts at the end of this blog post in response to my request for posting reviews (it’s never easy for me to ask), but I couldn’t resist looking for something historical. This is a 19th-century map of a woman’s heart. I like that it’s described as “open country.” (I wonder what such a “map” would look like today.)

More anon … and here come those hearts!

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