Wednesday, August 28, 2019
The day the Queen came to Manchester was a grand day for Ruby McBride and her young sister and brother. It’s glories fade into insignificance, however, when their mother, Molly, due to illness reluctantly entrusts her beloved children to Ignatious House, and the not-so-tender care of the nuns. Ruby, a rebel at heart, is always on the wrong side of authority. Her chief concern is to keep her promise to take care of Pearl and Billy, but when she is sixteen, the Board of Guardians forces her into marriage and she has to abandon her siblings, vowing she will reunite the family when she can. Convinced that her new husband is a conman, Ruby discovers life on the barge is not at all what she expected. She is furious at being robbed of the chance to be with her childhood sweetheart, Kit Jarvis, so resists Bart’s advances as long as possible. Only when Kit comes back into her life and jealousy between the two men causes events to run out of control, does Ruby realise which one she truly loves. But it takes the Great War for her to fulfil that childhood promise, and not in the expected way . . .
This is an enthralling story of romance and rebellion perfect for fans of Rosie Goodwin and Dilly Court.
‘Charming and exciting. A lovely story by an author with an extraordinary feeling in her writing.’ Bangor Chronicle
‘An inspiring novel about accepting change and bravely facing the future.’ The Daily Telegraph
Ruby McBride has always been on the wrong side of authority. The grand opening of the Manchester Ship Canal is set to be a day of unfettered festivity for Ruby and her younger sister and brother. Even Queen Victoria will be in attendance.
But the glories of the ceremony fade into insignificance when their dying mother delivers them to the imposing oak doors of Ignatius House. Abandoned in the not-so-tender care of the nuns, the siblings are soon separated. So when the Board of Guardians force Ruby into a marriage that sends her to a new home upon the Salford waterways, she makes only one vow: to reunite her family whatever the cost.
21 May 1894
‘Rise and shine, chuck, kettle’s on.’
Ruby stretched blissfully, then lifted her arms and wrapped them about her mother’s neck in a tight, warm hug. Even if she was nearly eleven, she hoped never to be too old for a morning cuddle. ‘Is this the special day you promised us, Mam?’
‘It is, love, and if you don’t shape yourself, you’ll miss out on a very special breakfast an’ all. I’ve saved a bit of jam to go on us bread and marg this morning.’
The thrill of a day’s holiday from school made Ruby want to shout with joy, and jam on her bread took it into the realms of fantasy. She’d known too many mornings when there’d been no breakfast at all. Inside, she felt a bit sick with the wonder of it, and prayed she wouldn’t disgrace herself by not managing to eat the promised treat.
Molly McBride kissed her daughter and tweaked her snub nose. ‘See you wash yer lovely face and hands especially well this morning. We don’t want Her Majesty to see the McBrides looking anything less than their best, now do we, chuck? Not when she’s come all the way up from London to see us, eh?’
Ruby giggled as her mother gave a huge wink then, one hand at her hip and the other lifting her long cotton skirts, she sashayed away, nose in the air, just as if she were the Queen of England herself. Oh, she was a laugh a minute, her mam. But then she leaned over the table, clinging on to the edge as she started coughing, which quite ruined the effect.
Ruby felt the familiar jolt of panic but said nothing, knowing how her mother hated a fuss or any show of sympathy. ‘I won’t let it rob me of me sparkle,’ she would say, but the cough that had got worse all winter was a constant worry at the back of Ruby’s mind. She felt thankful that summer was almost here, for the warmer weather would surely ease it. And Mam didn’t want her to worry about anything today, not with the Queen herself coming to open the Manchester Ship Canal that had cost millions of pounds to build. ‘The big ditch’, they called it. Folk had been putting up flags and bunting for days, and there was to be a band.
Others coming are:
The Favourite Child
Dancing on Deansgate
The Castlefield Collector
Monday, August 12, 2019
A Revolutionary Gone with the Wind. In 1780, what happens when you're on the wrong side of the American Revolution? In HER VANQUISHED LAND, Rowena Marsh and her family are loyalists who support England and the King. But their home in Pennsylvania is rapidly coming under rebel control.
She insists on spying to help the loyalist cause, runs afoul of both rebels and British forces. Then the enigmatic Welshman who at first repels her ends up attracting her. But what can she do with such a rogue?
During this conflict, many weren't certain which side to join, and many wanted to stay neutral. Their home in danger of confiscation, her father on the verge of being arrested, Rowena's family escape south, but soon the Battle of Yorktown will decide their ultimate fate.
And will she ever see the Welshman again?
Diane Scott Lewis grew up in California, traveled the world with the navy, edited for magazines and an on-line publisher. She lives with her husband in Pennsylvania.
Available in paperback and Kindle. FREE for a short time on Kindle Unlimited.
Monday, August 5, 2019
The characters in my book were inspired to go to Spain for personal reasons and as a result of what they saw on the British Pathe news. Crowds of refugees escaping the bombing of their town, children crying and bodies lying everywhere. This was why many local Scots volunteered to join the International Brigade. Some young men were seeking adventure or felt the need to escape from some problem back home. But hundreds of brave men and even women volunteered to help the Spanish people, believing in humanity and democracy. These comprised ordinary working and middle-class folk, students, artists, photographers and many others, both British and Scottish. They also feared that if fascism was not stopped in Spain, it would spread to a wider conflict across Europe and maybe to England. And with no support from the British government, they would make their own way to Spain.
Many Scottish Nurses went to help too. As Orwell states in his personal account of the Spanish Civil War - Homage to Catalonia, ‘Apparently there was no supply of trained nurses in Spain, perhaps because before the war this work was done chiefly by nuns.’ Possibly for that reason their assistance was greatly appreciated, as foreign medical volunteers were much better trained. The Scottish Ambulance Unit made a vowed commitment to neutrality, pledging to treat the injured of both sides even if this sometimes proved difficult. The nurses too remained neutral.
Spanish women took on their husbands jobs once they’d joined up to fight. The government recommended families did this, thus enabling industry to continue, women having been granted more rights during the war. But as we know, the Fascists did not always approve of them working close to the Front, even when they were supporting the men by providing food and clean clothes. However, many brave women paid no attention to this attitude, some even fought alongside the men and were in need of volunteer nurses if they suffered injury.
Around 2,400 British nationals fought in the International Brigade in Spain and about 550 were Scottish. Very few had had training and ammunition was not easily available at first. There were some volunteers who had naively imagined the war would last only a few months, and when they realised that wasn’t going to happen, would escape and return home. Later, that was disallowed, although most volunteers fought hard to the end, many of whom never returned.
The moment finally came when Franco declared he’d won and all foreigners must leave. Those who did return home were often assumed to be communists, as a consequence of their support in the Civil War, and had problems finding a job. Some men went to join up and fight in World War II, many believing that if the British and French government had done more to help Spain fight for their democracy, Hitler might never have started that war. Mussolini too might have thought twice about what he did. Yet many Spanish lives had been saved thanks to the International Brigade, including evacuated children. But sadly, Spain’s problems continued for some time.
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. In Britain, Charlotte McBain and Libby Forbes, friends from opposite sides of the class divide, are determined to do what they can; in Spain, Rosita García Díaz, fiercely loyal to her family and country, cannot stand by and watch. Three brave women, inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, dare to go into battle against tradition and oppression.
Amazon Lake Union
Monday, July 22, 2019
Friday, July 19, 2019
To make characters believable, they must act as if they are contemporary to that time and place. For instance, they might not know that a war is looming even if the reader does. Anything they are planning might have a poignant threat of hope and interest but possible devastation to it. So long as their motivation is clear and the world in which they exist is a living-breathing place, the reader will accept attitudes and actions they never would need in their own life. It helps to read contemporary novels if you can, to get the feel of behaviour, problems and concerns, attitude and speech. And you naturally have to put words into their mouths, so carefully check the language of that period.
Some characters of the less salubrious kind if it’s a gritty historical, could be guilty of prejudice, prostitution, cruelty or whatever, for which the reader will feel no respect. We live in a world with certain demands of political correctness and moral requirements. Our society disapproves of prejudice and bigots, racialism, chauvinism, sexism, provincialism. Remember your characters are people of their own times who may accept some of these issues. You must allow them to act according to their own standards, not yours. Don’t pass judgment on them by making excuses or being dismissive. Don’t apologize for their mistakes and don’t attempt to make them all into free thinkers who are ahead of their times. You have to be able to see the story from their perspective, even if it offends you. And if they are more of a villain to a mistaken hero, they’ll pay the cost for their dreadful behaviour.
Should you use real historical figures?
A novel about a famous historical figure may feel exciting and good to write. However, can the facts of their life be changed and fiction added? Can you have a woman marry if in reality she actually remained single or was captured and killed? Are you free to change these characters and the way they lived? It is essential that you make it plain that you are adding fiction to the story of your chosen historical figure. You’re saying - What if she was able to free herself/marry/live elsewhere, survive, or whatever. Wouldn’t that have been better for her? Sometimes you are short of knowledge and have to guess what she did and why, so make that clear too.
The concern is, do these historical people or their descendants still have rights? In theory they do, but if it suits the story you are writing to give them a safer or more interesting life, make sure that you do it well. A less well-known figure may seem easier to write about but may not be as interesting. Using real historical figures can be difficult and demand a lot of research, but fascinating. Readers have their own perception of these historical figures. If you feel it might be a problem to develop them in a way to suit your story, it could be fun and more imaginative to create your own historical figures.
In the end there are no set rules. It’s up to you. But if you do it badly, the critics will slay you as being inaccurate, sloppy & anachronistic, so do it well.
I have written about real historical people in the Hostage Queen Series, The Duchess of Drury Lane, Lady of Passion. But in My Lady Deceiver, The Promise, and The Girls of the Great War,’ I made up characters who never existed in reality. You can find these on Amazon, if you are interested in any of them.
Monday, July 1, 2019
Infantry soldiers often knew very little about where they were or what was going on elsewhere. They lacked the facility of maps, news and information, relying on gossip and rumour. Food in Blighty was very much a problem. They might be given bacon and liver, brawn and kidneys, bread and dripping, but not too much food was available. They might have porridge with a few smashed army biscuits boiling in a mess tin with some water and sugar. Sometimes they were given a small drink of beer, and they would take a sip of rum and roll it on their tongue. Soldiers were also expected to keep their boots, caps, badges and buckles well-polished, and would hide them at night in case one of the other chaps might pinch them. Life was not easy, and they very much depended upon friends and letters from their family. It was a relief for them to be given a short break from the frontline when they were feeling worn out, perhaps to walk through the streets unthreatened by locals. Or to enjoy a performance.
War might drain men of energy, but Cecily firmly believed that their minds and spirit needed nurturing. Her team gave regular performances in the camp and at local hospitals. It was not unusual for wounded men to be wheeled out of the wards and lie on stretchers in order to watch, having been treated or were simply waiting for the necessary care. They often happily accepted they could be soaked as rain beat down on them. Cecily would regularly sing and on one occasion, they performed a play. Because some couldn’t be moved, following a concert Cecily would visit the hospital and sing to patients in their beds, or to one alone if he was blind or dying. It was exhausting but moving, her team’s situation ripe with danger too. They performed popular songs, poetry, Shakespeare, comedy and gave a glimpse of ‘Blighty’ often to an audience of thousands. The soldiers were always overjoyed to be entertained.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Two weeks after release Beneath a Stormy Sky has an Amazon Best Seller tag!
It's #1 on Amazon Australia in the Victorian historical category! (The Slum Angel is #3!) 😃
Friday, June 14, 2019
I sincerely hope these other books will also do well for them. I will put up pictures of them closer to the time. But here are a few details of their stories.
Watch for the Talleyman.
He’s after more than your money… Dolly Tomkins knows what it’s like to live hand to mouth. In the mean streets of 1920s Salford, the only one making a decent living is the talleyman - and Nifty Jack has a moneybag where his heart should be. Dolly’s mam is in hock up to her ears, but when Jack offers to wipe the slate clean in return for Dolly’s favours, she just can’t bring herself to do it. Instead, she takes him on at his own game, and in the process is in danger of losing the love of her life.
Dancing on Deansgate
They called it the Christmas Blitz, but there are no festivities for Jess, locked in the cellar by her feckless, tarty mother. And when Lizzie is imprisoned for shoplifting, Jess is sent to live with her uncle, a bullying black marketeer, who treats her like a slave. Her natural musical talent offers an escape route - and the chance for love. But Uncle Bernie has never forgiven his niece for refusing to join his illegal schemes, and threatens to deprive Jess of her hard-won independence.
The Favourite Child
Isabella Ashton has always been her father's favourite, but when she becomes involved with the new Birth Control Movement, Simeon is scandalised. It’s 1928 and running a family planning clinic in Salford is challenging but rewarding work, and Bella is grateful for the help of Violet Howarth, a big, generous-hearted woman who takes her in off the street. A friendship with Violet’s son, Dan, quickly turns to love. But Bella also becomes involved with handsome ne’er-do-well Billy Quinn, leader of an illegal betting ring, and soon finds everything she has worked for put at risk, and herself in mortal danger . . .
The grand opening of the Manchester Ship Canal is a big day for Ruby McBride and her young sister and brother. Its glories fade into insignificance, however, when their mother Molly, due to illness, reluctantly entrusts her beloved children to Ignatius House, and the not-so-tender care of the nuns. Ruby, a rebel at heart, is always on the wrong side of authority, but when she is sixteen, the Board of Guardians forces her into marriage and she has to abandon her siblings, vowing she will reunite the family just as soon as she can.
Convinced that her new husband is a conman, she discovers life on the barge is not at all what she expected. She is furious at being robbed of the chance to be with her childhood sweetheart, Kit Jarvis, so resists Bart’s advances for as long as she can. But Ruby’s courage and spirit enable her to rise above the disadvantages of her birth and make a life for herself within the thriving community of waterways folk.
And on 23rd September they will next publish The Champion Street Market Sagas, of which there are six of them. More details of these later.
My latest news, Freda Lightfoot.
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
The Great War is over, and Millie is ready to leave her loving family home and be a wife to Jeremy who is everything she had hoped for.
Not long after their wedding, Millie discovers Jeremy is affected by shell shock and moving into his late father’s cold dark estate escalates the problem. Millie tries to help, but Jeremy grows more distant and befriends a homeless, wounded ex-soldier, Monty, who has secrets...
As Millie’s distrust of Monty grows, a rift is created between her and Jeremy and when he leaves to receive hospital treatment, she is left feeling abandoned. When her family is dealt a terrible loss, it is Millie who must be the strongest. However, just when she feels things couldn’t become worse, she suffers her own heartbreaking tragedy.
Grieving and alone, Millie wonders if her marriage can ever be mended, but she can’t give up without a fight.
Will a new home for her and Jeremy in a foreign country be the answer, or will the events of the past destroy everything she wished for?
Saturday, April 6, 2019
Ebook on sale for .99.
The church, a wonderful gothic structure, dates back to the fifteenth century. We entered the dim, cool interior, where we inspected the twelfth century Norman font, carved with eyes that are supposed to open during baptisms. The effigy of Prior Vyvyan—a Cornish bishop in the 1500s—lies on a chest, both carved from Catacleuse stone and grey marble. Fine woodwork, a rood screen and bench ends were constructed around this time.
Years later when I looked at the photograph my husband took, inspiration struck. What if a woman researching her ancestors poked through a neglected cemetery, moved a fallen headstone and was whisked back in time to 1789? How would a modern woman survive in the more primitive eighteenth century where women had few rights? Miners out of work, grain riots, and the French Revolution, all happened in this year. Would she be condemned as a spy, or a witch, with her strange ways and odd clothing?
My novel, Beyond the Fall, a time travel adventure, tells that story.
Blurb: In 2018, Tamara is dumped by her arrogant husband, travels to Cornwall, England and researches her ancestors. In a neglected cemetery, she scrapes two fallen headstones together trying to read the one beneath, faints, and wakes up in 1789, the year of The French Revolution, and grain riots in England. Young Farmer Colum Polwhele comes to her aid. Can a sassy San Francisco gal survive in this primitive time and fall for Colum, a man active in underhanded dealings or will she struggle to return to her own time?
Saturday, February 9, 2019
Victoria flees to the poor side of York to start again in a world that is full of perils. To combat the heartache of being without her family, she befriends the destitute women and children in the slums, but such friendships come with the danger of disease, and increasing poverty, and the threat of a brutal man could cost her everything.
Can Victoria find the security she has lost? Will a certain doctor be the man she can give her heart to? Or will the ghosts of the past return to take away everything she has worked so hard for?
Available in ebook and paperback from Amazon:
Friday, January 11, 2019
The Girl from Poor House Lane What lengths will a mother go to in order to protect her son? The first in the historical Poor House Lane sagas The slums of Poor House Lane are no place to bring up a child, and Kate O'Connor struggles to make ends meet when her beloved husband is killed, leaving her a single mother with a baby to support on the meagre hand-outs she gleans from charity. So when the childless Tysons, owners of Kendal's shoe factory, offer to adopt her son, Callum, and employ Kate as his nanny, she seizes the chance to ensure he has a better life. To be so close to her son, yet no longer be his mother, is bittersweet. But Kate is not prepared for the jealousy the new arrangement provokes in Eliot Tyson's brother, Charles, who sees Callum as a direct threat to his inheritance…
2 -The Child from Nowhere Kate finds herself back in Poor House Lane with some heartrending decisions to be made, not least how to find her missing son. Somehow she must also make a living for herself and help the women being abused by the hated Swainson. But nothing is straightforward, and her sister-in-law Lucy isn't done with her yet…
Friday, December 28, 2018
Here's the blurb:
Refused his rightful promotion, Adam Hardacre quits the Royal Navy in disgust and is quickly approached with an intriguing proposition to serve his country undercover.
His first assignment takes him home to Cornwall to expose traitors plotting a French invasion of England. There, he meets newly unemployed governess, Olivia Collins, who has stumbled upon a hidden secret from Adam’s past – his youthful summer love affair with the local squire’s daughter. It is a tragic history that brings Adam and Olivia closer than is wise.
However, with the attraction deepening to something more, neither realize that Olivia unwittingly holds the key to his mission.
As Adam infiltrates the plot, Olivia finds out the shocking truth behind his lost love’s death many years ago, and both their lives are in danger. But their growing relationship is clouded by suspicion. Who can and cannot be trusted – anyone or no one?
Or... even each other?
Here is the buy links:
US - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L23VCZT
CA - https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07L23VCZT
AUS - https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07L23VCZT
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07L23VCZT
Adam felt the hair rise on the back of his neck.
He was not alone.
Whoever watched did not want to make themselves known. He turned slowly, looking in the shadows for a tell-tale figure. Nothing made itself obvious to him. The stream bubbled along merrily as it had always done; the old priory was still there. He’d played in the ruin as a child and later became a man there, in deed if not in years. In fact, it looked as though not another stone had tumbled since he first saw it. It made him feel like he was ten years old once more.
Surmising that whoever watched had slipped away, more cautious of him than he of them, Adam started whistling a familiar tune, one they used to keep time as they brought in the halyards. He approached the standing end wall where an old window opening would have once have contained stained glass, the sill at waist height. Adam lay a palm flat on the wall to the left of the opening and closed his eyes, feeling the rough texture of stone weathered for centuries but still solid – a mute sentinel which had stood watch while two young people cautiously and tentatively explored the act of love together.
Kenstec House was only just through the trees. Perhaps it wouldn’t do any harm to venture as far as the edge of the lawns. He doubted anyone would recognise him. Squire Denton would be in his seventies now, if he lived.
Even if his presence was questioned, he could always say he was a rambler who had lost his way.
Adam took a deep breath bringing with it the nostalgic scent of honeysuckle. It was a perfume Constance favored, and it was strong here, as though her presence lingered still. And yet...
He furrowed a brow. There was no honeysuckle covering the ruins, so where had it come from?
He opened his eyes and was face to face with a woman through the opening in the wall.
The woman looked as shocked as he did.
Before he had time to compose himself, the woman fled, disappearing into the thick of the trees.
He called out her name once more but had gone no further than a few steps in pursuit before his rational mind could alert him to the differences between the two women.
Constance would be nearly forty now. That woman was at least ten years younger. This woman’s hair was much darker. But it was the eyes he remembered. Constance’s eyes were the lightest shade of blue. His wood sprite had brown eyes – as big and as frightened as a doe’s.
Adam chuckled to himself. He’d frightened a maid from Kenstec House. Or perhaps it was she who startled him.
The man’s question lingered and his exclamation rang in Olivia’s ears as she ran through the woods into the safety of the estate grounds.
Who was he? Why would this stranger mistake her for a girl who had been dead these past twenty years? She was afraid she knew the answer, but no – surely it was too much for a coincidence for it to be Adam Hardacre.
By the time Olivia had got half way across the lawn, she had dissuaded herself from such a foolish belief. She must have misheard the man. Clearly, he had been as surprised by her appearance there as she was of his.
She let herself into the house via the kitchen and bolted the door. In the stillness, she became acutely aware of her isolation inside the manor walls. Perhaps it wasn’t wise to stay here on her own tonight.
She wondered if it was too late to accept Polly’s invitation to live at the inn for a few days. Olivia hadn’t minded being on her own in the earlier part of the week when there was much to do in the house, but now, with that work nearly complete, one could almost entertain the thought of ghosts.
And while she was in the mood to contemplate such matters, it was also time to stop dwelling in the past; worse still, in someone else’s past.
The fate of the ill-starred lovers from Constance’s diary was long ago and there was nothing more she could do about it. The mystery of it had been solved.
Olivia went up to her room and packed a small valais. The afternoon sun through the window brought out the red grain of the mahogany of the writing box. Inside it, she had reunited Adam’s love notes with Constance’s diary as well as the letters from St Thomas’ Hospital in London which told of the young woman’s untimely end.
She ran her hand over the box. Did this Adam the carpenter still live?
If she left now, she could stop by the Trezises’ at the timber mill on her way to the inn and ask if they knew how to contact the former owner. She would write him a letter to explain who she was and what she had found. She would make the offer of returning the box and the papers relating to his one-time sweetheart.
Without truly knowing why she did so, Olivia shoved the writing box under her bed next to her trunk. Something which had been hidden for so long ought to be kept hidden until it could be returned to its rightful owner.