Friday, October 13, 2017

Australian historical don't sell...?

Three of my novels are in the top 10 of Australian category. Kitty McKenzie's Land, Nicola's Virtue & Southern Sons.

I'm so pleased that they are doing well because I feel that a lot of the time the reading public ignore the region of Australia and southern countries and islands, when in truth they are wonderful places to learn about and enjoy. I suppose everyone has their favourite areas where authors set stories, as they do by having favourite genres and historical eras. However, there is room for more, less known countries to be featured and explored, and I really encourage readers to try something new and different.

Throughout the many years I've been writing, I've been told constantly that Australian set historical novels don't sell outside of Australia. Well, I beg to differ. Agents who have said in the past to me to not bother writing Australian historical novels may not have been willing to take a chance, and I think that is a mistake.
I'm excited by the fact that people may be branching out and trying books set in other areas outside of the main countries that are so popular. If you are one of those readers, thank you!

Amazon UK. Australian & Oceania category. 13th October 2017. 9:48 am.
Proof that sometimes readers buck the trend.

A novel setting... a peek inside...

My latest release, Southern Sons, is set in Australia and France during the Great War.
It's about the grandchildren of Kitty McKenzie, who live on a large cattle property (or cattle station) called Blue Water.
I set Blue Water in the country area of Northern New South Wales, near the town of Grafton which sits on the mighty Clarence River. A smaller river runs off the Clarence, called Orara. Blue water sits on the edge of the Orara River.
In a chapter in Southern Sons, Tilly learns to drive her father's motor car and she drives it miles from Blue Water to Grafton to do some shopping. She has to cross the Clarence River on a steam ferry, and I have found a picture of the actual ferry.



The picture below is something similar to the motor car, Tilly would have learned to drive while the men were at war.
 
Tilly also went on a cattle muster, to bring in the cattle that grazed the hundreds of acres of Blue Water...
 
 
and at night they would camp by the fire.
 

Read Tilly's story in Southern Sons.


 
Blurb: 1914, Australia. As war is declared, the idyllic world of Blue Water Station is torn apart when Oliver, the eldest grandson and heir, shares his desire to enlist in the army. His enthusiasm ignites his brother, cousins and friends to do the same, but upsets his sister, Tilly. After a tragic family incident, Tilly is left to run the cattle station and take care of the older folk. A chance meeting with a sophisticated Lieutenant opens up a friendship through letters, but it’s a rogue stockman who attracts her attention with dire consequences. With the men at war, and her heart pulled in two directions, Tilly must grow up quickly and face the consequences of her rash decisions. Will She find her own happiness?Surviving a baptism of battle fire in Gallipoli, Turkey, Oliver and the men are sent to France and feel the brutal force of the Western Front. The only glimmer of light for Oliver is his relationship with Jessica, an army nurse. But as the terrors of war impact him, he feels the heavy guilt of encouraging the others to follow him into combat. Will he, and they, ever make it home to Blue Water.

Can the grandchildren of Kitty McKenzie survive the horrors of war?
 
Out in ebook now
Amazon myBook.to/SouthernSons
Kobo https://goo.gl/x8uXMB
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Book fair at Morley

Last Saturday I attended the Morley Lit Festival, which held a book fair in the Town Hall. Unfortunately the turn out wasn't great, perhaps due to the awful cold wet and windy day. But that didn't stop all visitors.








A selection of my books.
 

I met some lovely readers and signed some books. The highlight was meeting Deborah, an avid reader and supporter of authors, who runs a couple of Facebook pages promoting historical fiction authors like myself. I was so pleased to see her and have a chat in person - and of course we had a photo taken!




Deborah and myself

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Work on the land in World War II

At the start of the war because of the blockade around our shores, there were fewer imports, and farming exports fell. The amount of food people could find went down and people turned their flower gardens into vegetable plots. They would keep hens and maybe a pig too. Women and youngsters would go out each autumn to pick acorns, collecting those that had fallen from the oak trees and use them to feed pigs. Children often had plots at school where, with the help of teachers, they too grew vegetables.

Throughout the war the government maintained good prices and strived to avoid a post-war farm recession, as happened following World War I. Farm labour shortage did become a problem, most men having enlisted. A farmer’s first reaction was to get his wife and children to work with him, being required to produce more food. Eventually an emergency appeal was made to recruit members for the Women’s Land Army. Many had not worked on the land before, some having been hairdressers, shop assistants or simply wives and mothers, so had a great deal to learn. It could be difficult at times for them to cope with the cold and mud of winter, the long hours and heavy work involved in the vital tasks of digging, weeding and ploughing, but the land girls grew proud at being able to contribute to the war effort.

Later, the government allowed German and Italian prisoners of war (PoWs) to be used as farm labourers, which is what happens in this story. Were they welcomed, and were there rules that had to be kept? They were often involved in caring for sheep and hens. I too have experienced that when running a smallholding. I found that great fun, if quite demanding and took me a while to learn how to do it.

A friend supplied me with a number of sheep and battery hens. I could give them the freedom to be free-range. Being a lass from the mill towns of Lancashire I barely knew how to deal with them, except for a vague memory of helping my grandfather with his hens when I was a small child. She explained the routine, reminding me to shut them up last thing at night. What she didn’t tell me was how to get them safely into the hen hut. I diligently attempted to pick them up. They ran around avoiding me and I finally fell headlong, catching none on them. I went off to have a cup of tea to puzzle over how to resolve this issue, then saw them forming an orderly queue. Presumably in correct pecking order they hopped through the pop hole and onto their perches. So simple! I used this experience in the story, just for fun.

Despite rationing of raw materials for farm equipment, farmers during the war became keen on new technology. The arrival of the Ford Tractor provided valuable equipment for the task of food production. When the war was over, most of their previous hired labourers did not return to the farm. By then most farmers were much better equipped, having used their increased income to buy machines, so they no longer required anywhere near as many workers.


Brenda Stuart returns to her late husband’s home devastated by his loss only to find herself accused of bestowing favours upon the Germans. Life has been difficult for her over the war, having been held in an internment camp in France simply because of her nationality. Thankful that her son at least is safe in the care of his grandmother, she now finds that she has lost him too, and her life is in turmoil. 

Prue, her beloved sister-in-law, is also a war widow but has fallen in love with an Italian PoW who works on the family estate. Once the war ends they hope to marry but she has reckoned without the disapproval of her family, or the nation. The two friends support each other in an attempt to resolve their problems and rebuild their lives. They even try starting a business, but it does not prove easy.

Available in most good books shops and online:

 WH Smith 

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

Friday, September 29, 2017

Southern Sons - WWI historical fiction


So, for those of you who have read and enjoyed Kitty McKenzie, and the sequel Kitty McKenzie's Land, you'll be pleased to know that I've written a third book to do with the family. Southern Sons is about Kitty's grandchildren. (If you've not read the first two Kitty books, don't worry, Southern Sons is a stand alone book as well.)
I absolutely loved writing this book. it was one of those books that just flew out onto the page without much hardship. The research I did was enjoyable because the era of WWI is fascinating to me. I have many books about the Great War, and spent hours watching documentaries. Also online are some wonderful forums and websites about WWI, the battles, the conditions and the soldiers' stories.

I felt the need to write about the young Australian men who went to war so naïve and fresh-faced, and who, by the end of 4 years of fighting, were renowned as a magnificent army of brave and gutsy men full of the new-born Australian spirit that still lives on today.
I used Kitty's grandsons for that honour, and her tenacious spirit flows in their veins.
To add to the drama of  the grandsons going to war, I needed a granddaughter to be at home on Blue Water Station to 'keep the home fires burning' so to speak. Matilda (Tilly) is definitely Kitty McKenzie's granddaughter, with the same braveness and can-do attitude.

I love this family like my own, I hope you do too.




Blurb: 1914, Australia. As war is declared, the idyllic world of Blue Water Station is torn apart when Oliver, the eldest grandson and heir, shares his desire to enlist in the army. His enthusiasm ignites his brother, cousins and friends to do the same, but upsets his sister, Tilly.
After a tragic family incident, Tilly is left to run the cattle station and take care of the older folk. A chance meeting with a sophisticated Lieutenant opens up a friendship through letters, but it’s a rogue stockman who attracts her attention with dire consequences. With the men at war, and her heart pulled in two directions, Tilly must grow up quickly and face the consequences of her rash decisions. Will She find her own happiness?Surviving a baptism of battle fire in Gallipoli, Turkey, Oliver and the men are sent to France and feel the brutal force of the Western Front. The only glimmer of light for Oliver is his relationship with Jessica, an army nurse. But as the terrors of war impact him, he feels the heavy guilt of encouraging the others to follow him into combat. Will he, and they, ever make it home to Blue Water.

Can the grandchildren of Kitty McKenzie survive the horrors of war?



Out in ebook now
Amazon myBook.to/SouthernSons
Kobo https://goo.gl/x8uXMB


Out in print October 17.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A picture says a thousand words?




Things go right and things go wrong when you’re writing. Some mornings your character voices (in your head) are indistinct, right down to a whisper. So you sit there and look at your screen and place your fingers on the keys. And you wait. And wait. Then you type something and it’s all wrong. Your characters are up to mischief. They hide, are devious, play games in your mind instead of coming to life in the scene you know you want/must/need to write. Even stoked to the ears with caffeine and digestive biscuit, turning three times in a circle and saying abracadabra doesn’t help.

And then I remember. Look at the pictures!!

I have amassed a library of wonderful, evocative digital photos over time, each bearing a relevance to the story I’m writing. I even have personal photos, browned and torn, but doubly beautiful in their own tarnished way because they are unique. However, two of my favourites are these. The watercolour is one that Chris painted for me some years ago. The other is from a recent Google search. Both represent Terry Doyle, Bella’s poor little brother from Christmas to Come. These two street kids and their fight for survival are what the story is all about. By a happy accident or coincidence or fate, the coloured one was painted for a character I had not yet written. But when I found the black and white photo some time later I KNEW exactly what my story was going to be. Weird isn’t it, the magic that fate has in store for us?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Edwardian Fashion

I really enjoy looking at historical fashion, especially from the Victorian and Edwardian eras which are the periods I set a lot of my novels.
Below are some pictures of Edwardian gowns that I can easily imagine my characters wearing. I like the simple, clean lines of the Edwardian fashion and the soft subtle colours and textiles. They capture the essence of style and femininity.








Monday, September 4, 2017

Catrina's Return - Victorian saga

I'm highlighting another one of my books, which I really enjoyed writing.
Catrina's Return is a story of a young woman who is brave and strong and a survivor.
In this story I deal with issues resulting from selfishness.
Phillip, Catrina's half brother is the cause of a lot of Catrina's problems, like many of the men of those times, he had wealthy and power and ultimately abused both. 
Travis, the man Catrina loves, was wonderful to write. Although a flawed hero, (and we all love those, don't we?) Travis is torn between the love of Catrina and the loyalty to his family.
 
Set in the beautiful countryside of Yorkshire, Catrina's Return is a story I hope you enjoy reading.
 
 

Catrina's Return

 Blurb:
1899. A life altering event led Catrina Davies to hide from her family and society. Alone in The Highlands she exists in a lonely world cared for only by her saviour, a kind old gentleman. When she receives a surprise visitor, Travis Millard, the man she used to love, her head and heart are thrown into turmoil. 
Travis is determined to save her from this poor life and return her to her family where she belongs. No one is more surprised than he when she agrees to marry him. 
When Catrina arrives back at her family estate, Davmoor Court in Yorkshire, she is stunned to see the changes. While her father clings to life, Davmoor is nearly ruined by her brother's gambling obsession, and there is something strange about his new wife. 
As Catrina adjusts to her regained position in society and being with Travis, her marriage comes under attack from Travis's grandmother, who has her own secrets and reason for loathing the Davies family. 
When one of her brother's adversaries comes to stake his claim on the estate, the resulting chaos threatens not only Catrina's home, but the very lives of those she loves the most. 
Can she find the strength to fight once more for the right to be happy?

Catrina's Return is available now.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Main Characters of Forgotten Women

Charlotte McBain, daughter of a Scottish laird, spent a lonely, neglected childhood growing up in a fine castle in Kirkcudbrightshire and has no wish to be forced into marriage by her bully of a stepfather. She is passionate about art, stubborn, courageous and determined to find freedom and do something useful with her life. It is 1936 and Spain is on the brink of civil war. Across Europe, young men are enlisting in the International Brigade to free their Spanish brethren from the grip of Fascism, leaving sisters and lovers at home. But not all women are content to be left behind. Charlotte, who likes to be called Charlie, also has a desire to help people less fortunate than herself, not only the tenants on her father’s estate but also the people of Spain caught up in the Civil War. She and her dear friend, Libby Forbes, have a somewhat complex relationship, being from opposite sides of the class divide, but wish to do what they can to help.

Libby Forbes is a somewhat unsociable and self-opinionated girl who very much likes to be the centre of attention. She rarely reveals her true feelings about anything, particularly the fact she is passionate about Ray Dunmore, and fond of Laurence too. But her worry is they may both be more fascinated by her friend Charlotte, who is a beautiful and rich woman. She strives to remain friends with her, despite the jealousy she feels. When Libby’s brother goes missing in Spain in 1936, she is desperate to find him, no matter what the risk.

Rosita García Díaz, a young Spanish girl, is fiercely loyal to her family and country and having suffered badly from the war, she cannot stand by and do nothing. When Charlotte and Libby arrive, they become good friends. Three brave women, inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, who dare to do battle against tradition and oppression.

Scotland 1986: Libby’s granddaughter Jo, is accused of displaying a forged picture in an exhibition. And finding a letter tucked into the back of it, realises she knows little about her grandmother’s life. Why has she kept silent? Feeling the need to find answers and recover from her own personal traumas, she goes to Spain to find the effect the Civil War had upon these three women’s lives, and why they are forgotten women. What she learns will change all of their lives forever.

Click here to download a sample: http://www.fredalightfoot.co.uk/



Amazon UK

Amazon US


Wednesday, August 23, 2017



www.carolrivers.com

MOLLY'S CHRISTMAS ORPHANS has a flavour of the sea, and is inspired by one of my Dad's (BILL SKEELS) wartime adventures. THIS IS A COPY OF AN EXTRACT FROM THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 1943

"DIVED IN SERVICE GAS MASKS TO REPAIR HOLE IN SHIP"
BY TAFFRAIL


This is the rather unusual story of LCI (L) Landing Craft Infantry (Large) as recently told me by her Commanding Officer Lieutenant William T. Skeels, RNVR, of London who before the war worked with the Port of London Authority. The tale has never been made public.

An LCI (L) may be used for carrying troops from shore to shore for short voyages or alternatively for short journeys from a transporter to the shore. Since crossing the Atlantic, No.179 as she may be called for brevity in default of a name, has taken part in the original landing in Sicily and four other operations in Italy. She has had her fair share of excitement and danger in the way of enemy gunfire and bombing and like all the other landing craft out here, has done a sterling good job of work.
Lieutenant Skeels described the evening and night before the Sicilian landing as the worst he'd ever experienced from the point of view of weather. "We hung by our eyelids and many were miserably sick. It was worse by far than the long swell of the Atlantic."

HIT AMIDSHIPS
At 4.45.a.m. on the day of 179's great experience, dawn was beginning to break and objects on the hostile coast ahead were beginning to take shape. Filled with troops she was on her way ashore with a concourse of other craft. Soon after daylight shells from a coast defence battery were falling unpleasantly close. 179 beached herself and landed her troops, still under fire. Disembarkation was completed by 6.40.a.m. and the ship hauled off. Almost at once she was hit amidships on the port side of the waterline, the shell making a hole about three feet by two and a half feet. She tried to make water so was re-beached. The enemy battery had meanwhile been silenced by a destroyer; but not before the First Lieutenant and four ratings of 179 had been slightly wounded by shell splinters. It was surprising there were no more, as between twenty and thirty shells had fallen within twenty yards and the ship had been peppered all over by splinters%u2026275 times - I saw a photograph.

Lieutenant Skeels then set about repairing his ship. As a temporary measure the large shell hole was filled with blankets, duffel coats and fenders, anything they could spare, beg, borrow or steal. It wasn't very satisfactory so they asked another ship to cut them a steel plate and having borrowed a drill tried to heel the ship over to get the hole out of the water. With his ship still on the beach that was found to be impossible. But extemporising a diving helmet for working under water out of a service gas mask, with air supplied by a hand foghorn like an exaggerated bellows, they managed to bolt on the plate somehow. It was while this work was in progress that they found the shell - unexploded - still inside the ship.

A THUNDERING GOOD JOB
"Then we hauled off and took her out for a trial," said Lieutenant Skeels. "It was quite successful; a good deal of water came in but it could be kept under by the pumps. However, to make quite certain, I went alongside a ship and they built us a cement cofferdam inside. Then we went to Malta who took a look at us, but said they'd plenty on their hands, that we would do for the time being and sent us on to Bizerta where we were finally repaired by an American repair ship. Those chaps made a thundering good job of it, welding on the big patch and the 275 small ones. The old ship looked like nothing on earth when they'd finished."
"I like the idea of your gas-mask diving helmet,' I said to Lieutenant Skeels. "Who thought of it?"
"I can't quite remember,' he replied, "but it worked."

A QUOTE FROM "NAVAL AWARDS" - LANDINGS IN SICILY AND ITALY
The King has approved the following award for gallant and distinguished service in the face of heavy opposition from the enemy for BAR and D.S.C to Lieutenant William Thomas Skeels
 

Dad was an Eastender born and bred. He was a quiet, unassuming man, but he must have been very brave. I model a lot of my heroes on his character. Thank you, Dad.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Primary Sources

Primary sources, I feel, are a writer's best friend, especially for a historical writer.

   I collected Victorian diaries and journals, written mainly by women who have arrived in Australia after leaving England, but also by women born in colonial Australia. These diaries give me an insight to how they lived and what was happening in the world around them at that time. From their personal entries, we can learn what was important to them, their daily routine, their views and opinions. They can also lift some of those myths we in the modern world tend to think as true.

   Diaries aren't the only primary source available to us. We have so many museums and art galleries. I love studying paintings of the different eras and visiting museums that have wonderful displays of every era.

  We should be visiting our local or state libraries for books, letters, newspapers and articles written in the eras we write. Naturally this is difficult for those writing in the ancient periods, but those of us who write about the last few hundred years have sources available and we need to use them.

   If you are writing about the area where you live, join your local historical society, where as a member, you can study maps, paintings and photos are that district. Also the local councils will have documents and maps going back years.

   It is not always possible to visit your chosen setting, but if you can visit, make sure you don't simply go to the main attractions, like a castle, etc, but find the time to visit the graveyard of the local church, sit in a pew and study the stain glass windows, lay by the river and absorb the surroundings, listen to the birds sing, the insect buzz and imagine what it would be like in your era, the smells, the sounds. Glance up at buildings, many have the dates of construction engraved at the top to give you an idea of how the street would looked. Walk the back streets of the village or town, find the oldest parts and touch the walls of the buildings and think of nothing but how your characters would have lived. Would their footsteps have walked where yours have?

 



The photo is taken from a sketch done of Lower George St, Sydney, Australia 1828. I used this as a guide for where my character, Nicola, goes in my book, Nicola’s Virtue, which is set in Sydney, Australia in the 1860s.

Sketches and paintings like these give us the artist's view of those times and from studying it we can see a little of what life was like then.

I found this photo in a book, but the internet has many websites with great antique photos and paintings, some even for sale.
 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Lost Children in the Spanish Civil War

Lady Felicity, Charlotte’s mother, decides to support her daughter by helping refugee children during the Spanish Civil War. It wasn’t an easy time for them. Many were sent away to foreign lands, including Scotland where she lived. Once the war was over they were expected to return to Spain, whether or not their parents agreed. Some didn’t wish that to happen because their lives were still not entirely safe. But these children were used as means of political propaganda.

Children were taken from those who had been assassinated, jailed, or where members of families had vanished without a trace. Women were in danger of being arrested simply for supporting their husbands. To have a child in prison was a woman’s worst nightmare. If the infant was fortunate enough to survive the birth it would often be taken from her, and their emaciated mothers could do nothing to save them. The law stated that children could remain in jail with their mothers until they turned three. But many were taken away before that, either because of ill health or were considered to be of the wrong religion, not being Catholics.

In addition, babies were often taken away from their mothers at birth, not only if they were unmarried or jailed, but if they were of a different political persuasion to the fascists. This rule was considered to be of benefit to the couples of the Francoist regime who wished to adopt a child, or sometimes in order to indoctrinate them to agree with the new politics of the state. Even after the war it became a state policy that continued for some years.

Other characters in the story also help with this issue, but won’t go into any more detail, as I’ve no wish to make spoilers.

Here’s an extract from the Prologue:
Ventas prison, 1938 
My dearest love,
Let me assure you that I am well. The silence in the prison cells as thousands of women prisoners wait for the call they dread is deeply distressing. Every night is the same. The guards come in the hour before dawn to select the next victims to be shot by firing squad. The only crime of many of these poor women is to have supported their husband by not revealing his whereabouts, or simply to raise funds for the Republican cause. Even failing to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church with sufficient diligence can result in execution, particularly if the family is of the wrong political persuasion. 

Sometimes I feel that anticipating one’s death is almost worse than the actual event itself, rather like waiting to be sacrificed to ancient pagan gods. The agony becomes so intense that desperation grows inside me to get it over with quickly. 

Each night, when the call finally comes, the eyes of the women being taken go instantly blank, as if they’ve already departed this world and are looking beyond the grim walls of the prison to a life of peace in the hereafter. They walk to meet their fate with pride and courage, dressed in their best, heads shaved. 

I confess to breathing a sigh of relief each time I am passed by, even if my heart bleeds for those less fortunate than myself. An emotionally charged silence generally follows, as those of us who have been spared listen for the sound of the shots that mark the end of yet more innocent lives. 

Some prisoners have had their sentence commuted to anything from ten to thirty years. I can’t recall how much of my five-year sentence I have served here in Ventas prison, or La Pepa as some call it. I’ve lost track. But then time no longer seems relevant. I do hope you are still safe, my darling. I live in hope for the day when this dreadful war is over and we’ll be together again. 

Sorry, my love, but I had to stop writing this letter and have returned to it a night or two later. I was interrupted by a heart-rending scream, then forced to watch in agonised silence as a woman frantically fought a guard who was dragging her child from her arms. He strode away with the screaming infant tucked under his arm as if it were no more than a rabbit. Silence descended upon everyone as the poor woman fell into a stupor, realising she had but hours to live. Perhaps she no longer cared, having lost the battle to save her child. The lack of facilities is such that many babies don’t survive birth. Nor do their mothers. 

The conditions here are unbearable: fleas, lice and bedbugs, with very little water to drink or wash ourselves. Yet we endure it all without complaint. It’s the safest way. I’ve grown accustomed to battling hunger, dysentery, food poisoning, malnutrition and rat bites, even the regular beatings. But living with the fear of torture, rape and execution is another matter altogether. I try to be brave, as always. Did I write to tell you about the interrogation I had to endure, once I’d recovered from the trauma? Can’t quite remember. I do hope you receive all my letters. I’m so grateful for yours that R brings to me. Reading them daily gives me the will to battle on. 

Must hurry to finish this one as letters are already being passed to friends before the guards come for their next victims. Wedding rings, crucifixes, earrings and other jewellery are also being handed over. I have none left, as I’ve given them all away in payment for food and other necessities. Mothers are whispering a loving farewell to their children, preparing for the worst as they struggle not to shed a tear, fearful of frightening them. Babies are put to the breast to silence them too. 

Ah, a small voice has started to sing. This happens often, almost as if the women feel the need to indulge in some light relief to make their last hours on earth joyous. I’m singing along with them. Can you hear me in your heart, my darling? 

Sadly the singing has stopped almost instantly at the sound of footsteps clomping on the stone paving that leads to our cells. My heart is racing. The sound of breathing too has almost ceased. Fists are clenched. I hear soft whimpers and cries. The guard has entered and is reading out names. The women called rise at once to their feet, knowing there can be no delay in obeying or more will be taken in retaliation. Five are now standing in line. I am safe. Oh no . . . 


Amazon UK 

Amazon US 


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Molly's Christmas Orphans and Links to the Merchant Navy






June 4 1940. Waiting, wondering, hoping and praying. In Molly’s Christmas Orphans, this is exactly what Molly does; like millions of women world wide, she dreads the arrival of bad news. She’s already lost her family; young husband Ted, who enlisted and perished in the fated British Expeditionary Force, and her darling little daughter Emily, victim to the influenza outbreak. Now Molly is entrusted with the care of two orphans and the London blitz shows no mercy. Their father, Andy, is serving on an ‘old lady’ from World War 1, a battered, and bruised vessel and at the mercy of the infamous German U-boats of the Kriegsmarine. How will Molly cope? In Andy's absence has she the strength to fight for the children's lives? Molly’s Christmas Orphans is a saga of wartime courage and hope.

My October saga, MOLLY'S CHRISTMAS ORPHANS is set during World War 2 and against the backdrop of the Merchant Navy. Many unsung heroes lost their lives because of our badly defended merchant ships. Light cruisers and sometimes destroyers tried to protect them as they ploughed through the freezing North Atlantic, sitting targets for the famed wolf-packs of the Kriegsmarine. Molly's love interest, Andy, has escaped the dangerous duties of the DEMS (merchant ships), only to find himself in deeper trouble and longing to be home with Molly and his family.

On sale with AMAZON and eretailers, in supermarkets and book shops as from October 2017.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Farm in West Yorkshire

Isabelle's Choice is set in West Yorkshire, in the area around Halifax, Hebden bridge and Heptonstall. This story was a favourite of mine to write, and after visiting the area I could really imagine Isabelle living there. The quaint village of Heptonstall, situated on top of a moor and over looking Hebden Bridge and the river below is the perfect setting for the run-down farm where Isabelle goes to live when she marries Farrell, a drunken waster. She thought him a better man than he was, and out of desperation for her and her brother's safety, she hopes marriage will give her a decent life after the trauma of being in the workhouse. Little does she know...


Blurb
Halifax, 1876. On the death of her mother and sister, Isabelle Gibson is left to fend for herself and her brother in a privately-run workhouse. After the matron's son attempts to attack her, Isabelle decides to escape him and a life of drudgery by agreeing to marry a moorland farmer she has never met. But this man, Farrell, is a drunkard and a bully in constant feud with his landlord, Ethan Harrington. When Farrell bungles a robbery and deserts her, Isabelle and Ethan are thrown together as she struggles to save the farm. Both are married and must hide their growing love. But despite the secrecy, Isabelle draws strength from Ethan as faces from the past return to haunt her and a tragedy is set to strike that will change all of their lives forever.


Isabelle’s Choice is available now
Purchase:
Amazon: myBook.to/IsabellesChoice

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Historical Places

Apart from the historical novels I have set in Australia, the rest of my historical stories are set in various areas around Yorkshire, England. I think I chose Yorkshire because my family and ancestors are from this region.
Yorkshire has some beautiful countryside, and it's worth visiting, but it also has quaint little villages and historic cities full of wonderful architecture. It has a rugged coastline and bleak moors, sweeping valleys and mountains.

The map below shows you its size and location within the UK.



Novels I have set in Yorkshire and where.
 

 
Kitty McKenzie - York
To Gain What's Lost - Leeds
Aurora's Pride - York
Broken Hero - near Bridlington
Isabelle's Choice - Heptonstall & Hebden Bridge
Eden's Conflict - Gargrave
Catrina's Return - York
Grace's Courage - Leeds
Where Dragonflies Hover - Wakefield

I have visited all of the above places, but because my stories are set in Victoria & Edwardian time, I've relied heavily on maps from those eras and non-fiction research books, paintings and so on. Luckily for me, the eras I write in are not that long ago, unlike say, Roman or medieval, therefor I can still see evidence of Victorian streets and buildings. Some villages have not been modernised for centuries and that helps me as an author to visualise my characters in those places.



Gargrave, and the river Nathan gets swept away in - Eden's Conflict.
 
 





The photos of York, featured in Kitty McKenzie and Aurora's Pride.
 
 
 
 
The farm is something similar I pictured for Isabelle at Heptonstall in Isabelle's Choice.

These are just a few examples of places and images to show where my books are set, or where my characters might have visited. I could go on for hours and fill the page with photos, and perhaps I'll do some more another day.






Sunday, July 9, 2017

Aurora's Pride- Victorian saga

Aurora's Pride


My
Victorian historical novel, Aurora's Pride, is set in 1898 Yorkshire.
 This is Aurora and Reid's story and will be available in paperback and March 14th 2017.

Back blurb:
Aurora Pettigrew has it all, a loving family, a nice home, a comfortable life. She’s waiting for the right man to offer her marriage, and the man for her is Reid Sinclair, heir to the Sinclair fortune and the love of her life.
But, Reid’s mother, Julia, is against the match and her ruthlessness unearths a family secret that will tear Aurora’s world apart.
Unwilling to bring shame on her family and needing answers to the allegations brought to light by Reid’s mother, Aurora begins a long journey away from home. She leaves behind all that is familiar and safe to enter a world of mean streets and poor working class.
Living in the tenements of York, surrounded by people of a class she’d never mixed with before, Aurora struggles to come to terms with the way her life has changed. By chance, she reconnects with a man from her past and before he leaves with the army to war in South Africa, he offers her security through marriage.
Aurora knows she should be happy, but the memory of her love for Reid threatens her future.
When tragedy strikes, can Aurora find the strength to accept her life and forget the past?



Excerpt:

Aurora walked along the streets of York, head down against the wind. The end of summer was proving difficult this year and warm days would be followed by squalls of rain and blustery winds such as today. Since Ethel Minton’s visit six days ago, Aurora had gone out looking for work and new accommodation. Each day she had come home despondent on both issues. Without a wage they couldn’t look at the better houses, and the poorer areas were the likes of Edinburgh Yard, which she and Sophia were adamant not to go back to. Noah and Lily had spoken as one offering their home to them, but Aurora was reluctant to agree as they’d be on top of each other, especially when the two babies came.
  Aside from the anxiety of finding money and lodgings, she had become aware over the last few days of someone watching her. She couldn’t define what made her so sure someone was, but instinct told her she didn’t walk the streets alone. Then, last night, while closing the curtains a stranger lingered in the lane looking at her windows. As yet she hadn’t mentioned it to Sophia, who after the attack was nervous enough and jumped at any loud bangs or sudden shouts. Perhaps she should mention it to Noah, ask him to keep an eye out, and just hope that she was imagining it all.
  Her feet throbbed as she turned into Coney Street. The baby kicked, a new sensation that Aurora marveled at in secret joy. She rubbed her stomach and hurried on. She needed to buy some buttons and thread, as Sophia was letting out all her skirts. She’d have liked to buy some linen material too, for a blouse, but every penny had suddenly become precious now neither of them was working.
  She passed a tailor’s shop and was bumped into by two men coming out of the doorway. She apologized, even though it wasn’t her fault, at the same time the gentleman did too. Then she stopped and stared. Tom Sinclair stood gaping back at her, open-mouthed.
  “Aurrie?” He frowned, puzzled.
  She was the first to recover. “How are you, Tom?”
  “My God!” Tom enveloped her in a tight embrace and for a moment she relished being held by him. It’d been a long time since a man had held her, and Tom was as close as she would get to Reid. He stared at her in amazement. “What are you doing in York?”
  “Shopping.” She smiled brightly, acting as though them bumping into each other was an everyday occurrence. “And you?”
  “Oh this and that.” His gaze roamed over her and his grin faltered as he took in her appearance. He’d never seen her in anything but beautiful clothes and neatly groomed. She put a hand to her hair escaping from her felt hat and blushed. He’d noticed her faded clothes beneath her coat, which also needed a sponge and brush. Her shoes hadn’t seen polish for weeks.
  Tom turned to his companion. “Hal, my friend, I’ll meet you back at the hotel.”
  Hal, a tall, healthy-looking young man winked, a devilish smile in his eyes. “As you wish, my good fellow, but remember we leave on the evening train tomorrow.”
  Aurora’s blush deepened, imagining what Hal would think of her. “You should have introduced me, Tom. He thinks the worst judging by that remark.”
  “That’s more exciting than the truth though, isn’t it?” Tom’s smile flashed, but the amusement in his eyes had vanished completely. “There’s a tearoom on the corner. Let’s go.” He took her elbow and so shocked was she to see this serious side of him that she let him escort her into a small tearoom and assist her onto a wooden chair in the corner. He sat on the other side of the square table and lifted his hand to the passing waitress. “Tea and a plate of-of cakes…er…food, sandwiches and the like.”
  “Tom, I—” The words dried in her mouth as she saw the agony in his eyes. “What is it?”
  “I cannot believe it.” He shook his head and looked as if he was going to cry.
  Her heart leapt to her throat and she leaned forward. “Good God, Tom, what?”
  “What happened to you?” His voice came out on a whisper.
  She sat back in her chair, again conscious of her appearance. “You must be shocked.”
  “Shocked?” he squeaked and then clearing his throat, he held his hands out as if in question. “I thought you were travelling with your father’s aunt? That’s what your mother is telling everyone. Is this aunt without funds? Doesn’t your father know—’
  “Please, Tom, stop.” She rubbed her forehead, wondering how to tell him, whether she should tell him. “I’m not with my father’s aunt.”
  “I don’t understand.” He scratched his chin. “Aurrie, dearest, you look like hell. You’re so thin and…and shabby.”
  She wanted to laugh at being called thin, especially when the front fastening corset she’d bought only two weeks ago no longer fitter her. The top button of her blue skirt was left undone and her white blouse strained across her breast, which she hid with her coat, but his expression of horror wiped the laughter from her instantly. Apart from the parts of her body concern with the child, the rest of her was thin, her hands and arms especially. “It’s a long story.”
  “And I’ve got all day.”
  “But I haven’t.” She stood. “I must go. It was nice seeing you again.”
  “No.” He grabbed her wrist and forced her to sit down, causing the other customers to glance in their direction.      “Don’t go, not yet.” He let go of her as she sat and the waitress brought over a tea tray, which she set out on the table. Tom watched Aurora the entire time and she knew he was full of questions. “I want to hear it all, Aurrie.”
  “Do you?” She pulled off her gloves, revealing her red and work-chapped hands and ignored his gasp of surprise at the sight of them. Dropping a cube of sugar into her cup, she then stirred it slowly with a teaspoon. “I don’t think you want to know, Tom, not really.” She gave him a sad smile, knowing his personality as one of fun and laughter, never taking anything seriously.
  “I thought we were friends?”
  “We were. When life was simple.”
  “Aurrie, please. I can’t bear to see you like this.”
  “This?” She waved at her worn clothes. “Good lord, Tom, this is a good day.” Her chuckle was brittle. “We had enough water last night for a bath so I washed my hair…’
  “We?” He leaned forward over the table, cradling his teacup in one hand and took her hand in his other.
  “My mother, Sophia. We live together.”
  “Your mother Sophia?” His eyes widened. “Dearest, are you ill?”
  “Mad you mean?” This time she did laugh. “I wish I was, but alas I’m quite sane.” She bent over the table until their faces were nearly touching. “Can you cope with knowing the truth, Tom Sinclair? The man who has never had a moment of responsibly in his life?”
  Review:
If you're looking for a fairy tale with a twist, then look no further than Aurora's Pride. The characters may not fill out all the classic roles precisely, and you'll get to meet the entire townspeople around the "castle", but they are beyond a doubt entertaining and very adeptly written. It's a great read that reminds the little girls in us that sometimes the princess has to become Cinderella in order to be a good queen one day.
Books N Beans

 Aurora's Pride is available now.
Apple iBook https://goo.gl/1oY8BH

Friday, July 7, 2017

Victorian Saga - Grace's Courage on sale 99p




Grace's Courage



       My Victorian historical novel, Grace's Courage is set in Leeds, West Yorkshire,  England 1870.

 I truly enjoyed writing Grace's Courage. It's many engaging characters and the twists and turns this novel took as it evolved, had me gripped from page one.
 I wrote the first draft in five months because most chapters just flowed really well, which is very rewarding for the writer when that happens! But then, who couldn't have fun with seven daughters, a tyrannical father, a
selfish mother, a lost love, a handsome butler and a quiet, enigmatic coal miner?
 I hope readers enjoy it too.

Blurb
As the Victorian Age draws to a close, lonely and brokenhearted, Grace Woodruff fights for her sisters’ rights to happiness while sacrificing any chance for her own.
The eldest of seven daughters, Grace is the core of strength around which the unhappy members of the Woodruff family revolve. As her disenchanted mother withdraws to her rooms, Grace must act as a buffer between her violent, ambitious father and the sisters who depend upon her.
Rejected by her first love and facing a spinster’s future, she struggles to hold the broken family together through her father’s infidelity, one sister’s alcoholism, and another’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy by an unsuitable match.
Caring for an illegitimate half-brother affords Grace an escape, though short-lived. Forced home by illness and burdened with dwindling finances, Grace faces fresh anguish –and murder– when her first love returns to wreck havoc in her life.
All is not lost, however. In the midst of tragedy, the fires of her heart are rekindled by another. Will the possibility of true love lead Grace to relinquish her responsibilities in the house of women and embrace her own right to happiness?

 Grace's Courage is now.
Online
Kobo UK
Apple iBook

*Please note that Grace's Courage was originally published with the title, The House of Women.

Review Rating: 5 Cups
Grace Elizabeth Woodruff is one of seven daughters who witness her family crumble before her.
Montgomery Woodruff, the father of the household, does not love his wife and hates being saddled with seven daughters.
Diana, the mother, neglects the household duties leaving everything to Grace.
William Ross holds a part of Grace's heart. It has been six years since she has seen him.
William Doyle, the new butler admires Grace.
George Henry Walters is shift foreman and a union man who fights for the rights in the mines. He is smitten with Grace.
Grace wishes for joy and pleasure just once in her life. She has always been the strength of the family and now the pressures are rising into one giant boiling pot about to explode. Her father pawns his daughters into marriages that tighten his money belt. The daughters see it as escape from an abusive, selfish father. Grace tries to keep peace while taking care of ailing sisters and wishing for her own flight. When an old love returns, a new butler is hired and a shift foreman enters her life, Grace wonders is this her chance to leave a family that has needed her many years.
Grace's Courage is a saga about a family full of betrayal, hate, lies, infidelity, disappointments and often love. Grace is a strong character that strives to keep things intact while facing many frustrations. Her deep felt emotions interweave within the pages. Ms. Brear paints a remarkable novel with well-developed secondary characters that bring out the good and the bad in the worse of families. She instills believability with all her characters. She pens a story that will touch the heart, often irritate and sometimes make the reader cheer. This is a most rare gripping read.
Cherokee
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
Reviewer for Karen Find Out About New Books

After finishing Grace's Courage by newer author Anne Brear I applaud this author for this immensely satisfying and fine example of a riveting Victorian historical. I can promise that once started you will not put it down until the final page is turned.
In Leeds, England 1870, Grace Woodruff, eldest of seven daughters is mired in responsibility. Grace runs the household and serves as a buttress between her sisters and the father who sees all his daughters as nothing but worthless commodities to be wed in order to forge business ties, gain wealth and ingratiate himself with the nobility. But fate is about to deal the entire Woodruff family some devastating blows and losses that will send this dysfunctional family spiraling out of control leaving Grace to stand alone in forging a new way of life in trying to manage both household and her heart.
What an amazing story from this newer author that chronicles a strong and resilient young woman's journey as she put aside her own broken heart in order to battle and stem the tide of the downward disintegration of her family from the result of their father's perfidious ways. Grace was a terrifically strong and resilient  heroine whose loving heart and loyalty to her siblings was unwavering and constant in a life turned upside down. Coming on the heels of the authors fabulous debut of KITTY MCKENZIE this sticks to a common theme of featuring a well to do family that must learn how to live in reduced circumstances while surmounting real
problems that people face even today. Brear excels with a deft hand in creating superb depictions of her characters with amazing depth. Frankly, if you've ever been a fan of Catherine Cookson, you are going to love AnneMarie Brear. This was a remarkable, deeply moving and powerful read I hated to see end and one in which I highly recommend.
Marilyn Rondeau, RIO - Reviewers International Organization

Nobody wants to help Grace Woodruff deal with the running of the household or managing the problems of her mother and many sisters. It would, by all rights, be enough to drive anyone crazy, but Grace rises to each and every challenge that comes her way. Placed in a time period where women had very little power, Grace proves again and again what strong women are capable of achieving.
AnneMarie Brear has created a truly remarkable heroine, along with a cast of characters that will keep you guessing until the end.
"Grace's Courage" is full of twists and turns that are sure to entertain. Ms. Brear's character development has certainly impressed me. Kudos to the author. -
Diane Wylie - author

AnneMarie Brear has penned a wonderful historical novel addressing hurtful family issues as well as triumphs. Grace's Courage is set in 1870 Leeds, England, in a time when women had few choices.
Despite the abuse of her father, the emotional abandonment of her mother, and the unpredictability of her six sisters, stalwart Grace Woodruff keeps the family together through thick and thin. But all she really wants is her own family.
Grace's Courage is a story of serious family issues, of love lost and love gained, of financial strife and crossing class lines.
Ms. Brear brings amazing strength of character to Grace as well as depth of emotion to all characters--characters you're sad to leave at the end. I would recommend The House of Women to anyone.
- Jacquie Rogers author.