Companions & Whitefield Hall

Whitefield Hall has been substantially rewritten and expanded, and will be out in eBook format in the next 24-72 hours on all major venues.  In anticipation of its release, here is a post about companions in the Victorian era. My heroine in Whitefield Hall is a middle-class woman by the name of Elizabeth Dutton. Elizabeth has chosen a career as a companion, rather than seeking a husband and having children. Elizabeth Dutton is also the name of my third great grandmother who was born in Warrington, England, the setting of Whitefield Hall.  Of course, the book is dedicated to her memory. As I researched the lifestyle of companions in the Victorian era, I discovered some fascinating reports. In addition, I discovered photographs of advertisements placed in the London paper (click link to read). Here is one that I tweaked for the book: Wanted – A respectable, young woman as a companion Read More

My Inspiration for Lady Charlotte

I had a great time writing Lady Charlotte, which is a tit-for-tat relationship between Albert Beckett and Charlotte Rutherford.  Cedric, Charlotte’s cousin, thinks her behavior is an embarrassment to the extended family and sets out on a bid to reform her ways. He chooses Albert Beckett to take on that task, who you will soon find out spouts an awful lot about what constitutes good society. So, where did I get all this stuffy fluff about behavior?  It’s from a book that I’ve used quite a bit in research entitled, The Habits of Good Society: A Handbook for Ladies and Gentleman written by an Unknown Author in 1872. I wrote a review of the book on Amazon that will give you an idea of its contents: When writing, I try to be as accurate as possible regarding the times. However, this book goes far beyond what I would term a typical Read More

Where Are the Poppies Now – Tales From Those Who Bought Poppies

I was one of the lucky ones to purchase a poppy from the Tower of London. As you know, I dedicated Lady Grace to my fallen cousins who lost their lives in World War I. I’ve been able to replant the poppy on this wonderful website! Please visit, comment, and read their story of where the poppy has been planted.  Find my Tower poppy at: https://www.wherearethepoppiesnow.org.uk/the-poppy-map/               Source: Where are the Poppies Now – Tales from those who bought poppies Read More

World War I Posters

The call to war is evident by the myriad of propaganda posters encouraging the general public to enlist, serve as civilians, donate money, or to take in the downtrodden. One of the scenes in Lady Grace touches on the heroine’s thoughts of a poster she sees at the train station depicted below, “Women of Britain Say GO!” Rather than inciting empathy for the cause, she questions the ability of any rational woman to encourage their husbands to join and face the probability of certain death. Writing about this era in England has been a challenging exercise in examining the struggles of those left behind and the fears they may have endured. Of course, there is often passionate love based on the uncertainty of survival. As you can see from the examples of posters below, each carries their own theme that is meant for the very purpose of moving individuals to Read More

The 1880s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade – Mimi Matthews

Mimi Matthews is my go-to expert for anything Victorian. She’s a fantastic resource for 19th-century etiquette, fashion, beauty, and more. It is worth subscribing to her newsletter and blog if you wish to learn more about the era. Below is a link to fashionable gowns that will make you want to throw away your jeans and tee-shirts.  Enjoy! “The 1880s ushered in an era of tailored, close-fitting gowns, some of which were almost masculine in appearance.  These gowns exemplified women’s changing roles in society.” Source: The 1880s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade – Mimi Matthews Read More

Madam, it is my painful duty to inform you…

As part of my research for Lady Grace, I needed to know how families were notified of the death of their loved ones. The next of kin of officers often received telegrams, while the families of non-officers received a letter. The link to the article below talks more of the sad process during World War One and contains examples of correspondence. From looking at the demise of my distant cousins in the war, I discovered that their bodies were never returned to their homeland. They were buried where they fell in the distant lands of France, Belgium, and Turkey. Not having their bodies returned to be buried near their families surely added to the grief. I’m reminded of the movie Water Diviner, with Russell Crowe, that was released a few years ago. It’s a story about three of his sons who died in the battle at Gallipoli, Turkey (where Thomas Read More

World War One: Belgian Refugees

Britain was home to 250,000 Belgian refugees in WW1 so why is their story forgotten today? Read the story below. Source: World War One: How 250,000 Belgian Refugees Didn’t Leave a Trace – BBC News When I set Lady Grace during World War I, there were two choices for her manor home. One was to take in wounded soldiers for recuperation like those in Downton Abbey, and the other was a lesser known occurrence during the war – the influx of 250,000 Belgian refugees integrated into society. In the end, I decided to take the second route, because I had read quite a bit about it during my own ancestral research in Manchester during the war years. I discovered that Salford, where my grandparents were born, welcomed refugees. The city, at first, set up temporary housing using schools and other public buildings. However, as the wounded returned from the front Read More

Lady Grace – Update

Progress so far on Lady Grace – 12,192 Words – Chapters so far include: 1 – A World Turned Upside Down 2 – Shared Heartache 3 – Digging Trenches 4 – The World at War 5 – Welcome to Our Homeland 6 – Cozy Cottage 7 – Whales and Poets. Two new posts on Ladies of Disgrace book blog – fashions of the era and the story of Belgian Refugees. Women in Dresses  World War One: 250,000 Belgian Refugees Read More

Looking Back at 2016: Important Publishing Developments Authors Should Know | Jane Friedman

45% of all books purchased in the US in 2016 are digital In adult fiction, sales in the US are roughly 70% digital 30% of all US adult fiction purchases are books by self-published authors Source: Looking Back at 2016: Important Publishing Developments Authors Should Know | Jane Friedman An interesting article worth the read, especially that 30% of all U.S. adult fiction purchases are books by self-published authors.   Read More

The Love/Hate Relationship for The Price of Innocence

My recent promotion on The Price of Innocence has once again skyrocketed the book into bestseller sales ranks, giving it more exposure than usual. It appears that I am having a repeat of my 2012 experience when I participated in May with a free giveaway. Since this book was first released in 2009, I have consistently advertised it as historical fiction, with romantic elements. It is not historical romance. If you’re looking for traditional feel-good romance, that is not The Legacy Series. If you read the series, proceed with caution. It’s not the normal cookie-cutter story to sweep you off your feet. It is a family saga that covers twenty-plus years. My characters face hardship and challenges. The story is filled with reality; and its themes are the price we pay for innocence, deception, love, and passion. The Price of Innocence has been reviewed by Writer’s Digest (read here the Read More

My Visit to Lyme Park (fictionally known as Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley)

My visit to Lyme Park while visiting Manchester UK this October was for the purpose of taking my book, Blythe Court, and standing in front of the estate and snapping a picture. Lyme Park is on the cover, as well as “The Cage” on a hill in the background. Of course, most of my readers are probably more interested in the fact that Lyme Park was Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley in Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth. Getting to Lyme Park is fairly easy coming from Manchester.  I took a train from Piccadilly Station to Disley, which took approximately 36 minutes. When I exited, there is a steep climb up to the roadway. The directions I received from the National Trust was to turn left and walk a half-mile.  There is a sidewalk the entire way but the road is extremely busy with cars and trucks whizzing by your side only a Read More

My Visit to Elizabeth Gaskell’s Home in Manchester

Today I had a wonderful and inspirational experience visiting the home of Elizabeth Gaskell in Manchester, UK, at 84 Plymouth Grove. Her most memorable works were Cranford (1851-53), North & South (1854-55), and Wives & Daughters (1865). She also authored many other works over the years such as short stories and novellas. After arriving at the home, I was greeted by informative volunteers placed in each of the rooms ready to give visitors the background on the house and the fascinating lives of its former occupants.  The home itself is actually Georgian in design, but the interior, of course, in the mid-1800s was Victorian. Elizabeth and her husband William moved into the home in 1850 (it was built in 1838). The home has welcomed many to its doors, including Charlotte Bronte and Beatrice Potter,  The narrator told us that the doorbell knob had been pulled by others, including Harriet Beecher Read More

Dancing (1872 Style)

A lady – beautiful word! — is a delicate creature, one who should be reverenced and delicately treated. It is therefore unpardonable to rush about in a quadrille, to catch hold of the lady’s hand as if she were a door-handle, or to drag her furiously across the room, as if you were Bluebeard…”  (The Habits of Good Society: By Unknown Author, originally published 1872. Copyright 2012 Forgotten Books). Recently on my author Facebook page, I’ve been posting videos of period dramas with romantic scenes of waltzes.  Some of my favorites are from The Young Victoria, War & Peace (2016), Cinderella, and Crimson Peak.  They look so romantic with women in gorgeous gowns being swung around the room by handsome men. According to The Habits of Good Society, there were rules to be followed if you were considered to be an “accomplished” individual on the dance floor.  The introduction above Read More

The English Victorian Wedding – 1872 Style

I am back to poking around one of my favorite books, “The Habits of Good Society: A Handbook for Ladies and Gentlemen,”  available on Amazon in print form.  Tucked on page 316 is Chapter XV. Marriage.  It begins with this quote: At a time when our feelings are or ought to be most susceptible, when the happiness or misery of a condition in which there is no medium begins, we are surrounded with forms and etiquettes which rise before the unwary like spectres, and which even the most rigid ceremonialists regard with a sort of dread.” Here is how courtship, engagement, and the wedding process is described by the anonymous author of this fascinating peek into 1871 life. First, an offer of marriage must be made, and even in 1871 it is the custom that the lady surrenders to the will of her parents.  They must approve of the match, Read More