Lady Grace is on track for release in eBook form on August 1. I will be uploading it to Amazon and Draft2Digital on July 29th. Once distributed it will be available for sale. The print version is in the works and audio will follow. Below is the “dreaded” synopsis. I term it as such because I hate writing them! As always, thank you for reading and supporting me as an author.
“As a young woman of twenty-one, Grace did not think it unusual to marry a man of forty. Though she wed a kind and respectful man, something remained absent from their relationship. Before she could fully understand her growing despondency and restless emotions, England declared war on Germany. Like a jig-saw puzzle turned upside down, the pieces of Grace’s life scatter in different directions. When her husband leaves for France to fight for king and country, Grace is left behind to face years of loneliness, temptation, and loss. After the declaration of peace, the picture puzzle of her life is reassembled but paints a vastly different scene than it did before.”
“The best way to thank an author is to write a review.”
As I’ve been editing and rewriting portions of Lady Grace this past weekend, I have realized that I am emotionally involved in this book. Naturally, as a writer that often happens when you create characters and bond with them. It certainly did to some extent with the Legacy Series since I had so many lives that I followed on paper for twenty plus years.
Lady Grace, however, has been an emotional journey. I don’t think that I have blubbered so much penning and reading my story. It finally dawned on me why my emotions have been so stretched after watching a new interactive documentary now streaming on Netflix entitled “Our World War” that originally aired on BBC. You can read about here on the BBC site. It’s not an easy show to watch because it puts you in the middle of the war as if you’re standing in the trenches with the young lads.
When I walked away from the first episode, I had to ask myself why am I so involved in this book and so horrified and filled with sorrow after watching “Our World War.” I guess you could say that little voice within my heart spoke and answered the question that also brought me to tears. The answer lies in my DNA that links me to my second cousins, two times removed, who bravely served, fought, and perished in the line of duty during World War I. Each of the young men below, share the same distant grandfather with me, Henry Holland (1792-1853). Perhaps somewhere in the DNA strings that we share they are speaking from the grave to remember them and their sacrifice. And remember them I will, as I dedicate Lady Grace to their memory in the front of the book.
God rest your souls, dear cousins. Rest in peace for the peace you fought to bring for King and country.
Private Thomas Douglas Holland – Killed in Action June 5, 1915 – Gallipoli, Turkey (18 years of age from Salford, UK – buried Helles Memorial Cemetery, Gallipoli, Turkey)
Private Harry Walton – Killed in Action February 6, 1917 – France (42 years of age from Salford, UK – buried in France)
Private Gilbert Hough – Killed in Action October 9, 1917 – Belgium (18 years of age from Salford, UK – buried in West Flanders, Belgium)
Private Frederick John Holland – Killed in Action May 8, 1918 – France (27 years of age from Tuakau, New Zealand)
Major George Henry Holland – Killed in Action May 15, 1918 – France (32 years of age from Tuakau, New Zealand – buried in Colincamps, Somme, France)
Corporal John Holland Sapsford – Killed in Action November 4, 1918 – India (24 years of age from Prestwich, UK – buried in Rawalpindi, Pakistan – formerly India)
In memory of my great aunt’s husband – Henry Lofthouse – Died of wounds May 1, 1917 – Kent, England (30 years of age – buried Shorncliffe Camp, Kent, England)
My life would be so much easier if I just wrote in the twenty-first century where I’m familiar with everything around me. I can see why contemporary authors often pound out book after book of modern love stories. Unless they are focused on some particular subject, research is pretty much quick and easy. I’m sure in some cases, it’s not needed. The only book I’ve been lucky enough to write with little effort is my one contemporary romance.
However, I apparently love to torture myself by picking difficult subject matter. Lady Grace is no exception. Set during World War I in England from 1914-1919, I’ve been spending hours researching everything from aspirin to Belgian refugees in order to place this story in a believable setting. Research teaches me (a person who once hated history), and I am often fascinated about what I learn.
As I finish the first draft (yes, I’m writing the last few words), it dawned on me that I pretty much build stories around history. Of course, many authors do the same and take creative liberties along the way. Famous writers have rearranged history to make things more interesting. However, doing so can make you a magnet for criticism and one-star reviews. I get those one-stars regardless, but at least I know that I’ve done my homework for the most part.
In Lady Grace, I’ve built a story around history, which includes the Belgian refugees and Belgian soldiers convalescing in Britain. So what have I learned? If you haven’t been following my Ladies of Disgrace blog, here are links to the interesting facts weaved throughout the book. In addition to those noted below, I also used some personal books that I’ve amassed from my own ancestral research into the years of the Great War in England. One of my resources contained newspaper articles from the time period. Salford 1914-1920 – The County Borough and the First World War by Roy Bullock.
Lady Grace does contain many somber elements in the storyline, but I do leave a semi-sweet happy ending. My next lady will be much more lighthearted and set in the Victorian era. I defintely need a few laughs.
I really wanted to put a man in uniform on the cover of Lady Grace. Days – I spent days hunting pictures on stock photo websites. Only a few decent ones came up after searching World War One soldiers, most of which could not be used because they were editorial. (In case you don’t know what that means, they cannot be used for commercial purposes like book covers because there is no model release. For example, taking photos of men in uniform during a public re-enactment exercise.) However, I did find one I really wanted but they wanted $300 for usage rights. (Gasp for a tiny image in the background behind Grace.) CLICK HERE TO SEE IT
After giving up there, I went to the public domain and did find a few that I downloaded. In fact, I had been ready to put the face of one particular gent on the cover and a horrible pang of guilt sliced through my heart. I had no idea who the man was or whether he survived the Great War. After going through a guilt trip of using another person’s image, who had no say in the matter because he was long dead, I came to the conclusion – no photos of soldiers on the cover.
That doesn’t mean, however, that I cannot share them in this blog post of dashing British officers that served in the war. A few of these soldiers are breathtakingly handsome. Since Grace is married to a man in his forties, I thought the man in the center with the mustache and his hands behind his back would be a perfect representation of the middle-aged gent she wed.
Here they are – most with mustaches but a couple of clean-shaven British males, circa 1914-1918.
In closing, if you are looking for public domain photography or illustrations, visit Flickr. The British Library has posted over 1,000,000 items that are free for use. All you need to do is give the credit as I have done above. Here is the HOME PAGE.
Researching this story timeline is an interesting and somewhat sobering journey.
I am aware of some things during that time period because my ancestors lived in the Manchester area during the war years of 1914-1918. I have a few reference books with newspaper articles that give insight into the times and struggles at home while the men were away fighting.
My ancestors lost sons and husbands to the war, which are my second cousins two times removed on the generational chart. (This means we share the same third great-grandfather. Their fathers were my second great uncles, Robert Holland and Henry Holland.) Since I’m an avid ancestry nut, I have been able to trace military records and references to their losses. Below is a sampling of the information I have discovered.
The story of Lady Grace will include two men in the military – Grace’s husband Benedict and Arabella, her friend, whose husband Thomas has left for war. What happens to them while they are away, of course, you’ll find out when you read the story. However, the main focus will be the women left behind during turbulent times.
In honor of my relatives who lost their lives during World War I, which I hope you don’t mind me sharing with you, are noted below. When I think about them, it saddens me that they perished at so young an age never able to live out their days. May we never forget the sacrifice of the millions who died during this world conflict and others. You will note that their bodies never returned home and are buried where they died in France, Belgium, Turkey, and India.
Name: Thomas Douglas Holland
Death Date: June 5, 1915
Death Place: Gallipoli
Buried: Helles Memorial Cemetery in Gallipoli, Canakkale, Turkey
Rank Private – Regiment Manchester Regiment – Battalion 1st 6th Battalion
Type of Casualty Killed in Action – Theatre of War Balkan Theatre
The National Roll of the Great War (Entry)
“Holland, T. D. Pte. 6th Manchester Regiment. He volunteered in August 1914, and sailed for Egypt in the same month. From Egypt he proceeded to Gallipoli in April 1915, and took part in the famous landing at Cape Helles, ever memorable for the magnificent bravery displayed. In the second Krithia Battle in June 1915, he fell fighting gallantly and was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory medals. “Great deeds cannot die.”
Frederick John Holland
Died May 8, 1918
Killed in Action France
Place of Burial: Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Leper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Regimental Number: New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 2nd, Service #57847, New Zealand Entrenching Battalion, 2nd
Major George Henry Holland
Died May 15, 1918
Killed in Action France
Buried Euston Road Cemetary, Colincamps, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France
New Zealand Army
Corporal John Holland Sapsford Died November 4, 1918
Killed just one week before the end of WW1 in India.
Buried C W G cemetery in Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan).
Royal Field Artillery
Name noted on St. James War Memorial along with Thomas Holland, both grandsons of Robert Holland.
Private Harry Walton Died February 6, 1917
Killed in Action France
Lancashire Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion
Private Gilbert Hough Died October 9, 1917
Killed in Action Belgium
Lancashire Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion
Buried Tyne Cot Memorial – Zonnebeke, Arrondissement Ieper, West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium
Lady Isabella is out for editing, and it should be ready for release February 1 in eBook and print.
After mulling over a few story lines and time eras, I felt compelled to backtrack to the time period of World War 1 for my next story entitled Lady Grace. I had thought about choosing other names for the title, but the name Grace stuck with me because of the personality of the young woman that I will be writing about.
In 1914, Grace has given birth to her first child and her husband, Benedict Russell, has left for the front. Of course, anytime that I decide to write about something new, I’m strolling down research lane. The premise of this story is going to make me study more than fashion, makeup, and hair. It’s also going to cause me to research England during World War I and the sacrifices that its citizens made while men gave their lives on the battlefield.
Already, I have chosen a cover for this new work and hope that you find the picture of Grace dressed in red, standing among a field of poppies, a poignant reminder of the times. Gazing at the cover helps me develop the character as I write the story. I can’t tell you how many times I will pause in a portion of a book, glance over at the face of my heroine or hero, and wait for the inspiration to know what they would say or do next. It’s a way of looking into their faces and becoming who they are so I can bring them to life on the page. Hopefully, each of these fallen ladies in this series of books will have vastly different personalities.
In the meantime, stay tuned for Isabella! For her story, too, set in 1930 will hopefully be an entertaining one. I will let you know when it’s release. Those on my mailing list will get an email, too. If you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter for release notices, you can do so by following this LINK.