Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Values of Newsletters, Google+, FB and Twitter

Why the title, "The Values of Newsletters, Google+, FB, Twitter"? Well, because the value is in the connection. Great ways for writers to get to know more about their readers. And even more so now after the publication of my recent first Newsletter - the next will be in summer when my new book Lizzie of Langley Street is published. Social media such as Google+, FB and Twitter, are perfect vehicles for learning more about your lives and what you enjoy reading. These little pearls of information help me to know where you're coming from and how I can improve in delivering my stories to you. Almost everyone has a computer in the house and I'm happy to say that my books are gathering great reviews. Giant online retailers like Amazon invite readers to discover the best Family Saga Fiction in the Best Sellers lists and find the top 100 most popular items. And I've accepted this offer many times and count myself lucky to have my sagas featured. One click for an instant ebook, or just a day or two’s wait for a paperback by post. How I love to receive a paperback in the post wrapped in its trendy parcel! Paperbacks are still hot and my readers tell me that just the smell of the pages transports them into another world. Audio versions of my Best Sellers are available for those who want a laid-back form of reading or enjoy browsing the libraries. So it's a big hurrah for books of all shapes and sizes in 2015 and just as big a cheer to the social media platforms supporting them! I'll be waiting to hear more from you in response to my next Newsletter, complete with a competition, pics, prizes and hot gossip. Meanwhile, if you haven't received my Newsletter already, go to this link, subscribe - and read all about it. With love and very much more to follow! CAROL'S NEWSLETTER

Monday, March 2, 2015

Great Recipes ...

During the wartime era we were slim! Housewives dreamed up recipes from the basics. Austerity recipes? I hear you gasp. Well, yes, but great recipes all the same. 40's recipes avoided the more harmful fat and preservatives we eat today. Here's a pic of a 1944 mutton and mash recipe, ingredients used from the weekly basic allowance for one. I've added celery as a 2015 treat! It would more likely have been carrots, cheaper and easier to source unless you grew your own. (Which everyone was urged to do!) Coupons were a way of life during the 40's and 50's. Rationing didn't completely end until the mid fifties. In those 15 years, we changed our shapes and our stomachs grew accustomed to smaller proportions. We appreciated the coveted treats of tea, coffee, chocolate and tinned fruit - to mention just a few. Enter the 60's and sex, drugs, and rock n' roll kicked off. With affluence, we started to pile on the pounds. (Or ounces as they were in those days.) In came the slimming fads and the dietary meals, the G5 slimming machines and the appetite suppressants. No wonder the previous generation were astonished! They'd only had a world war to contend with to maintain a slim figure! So, if you'd like to know more about all things 40's and 50's, why not try some of my novels as well as the nosh? I love writing about these eras. And I can heartily recommend the corned beef and lentil hotpot illustrated here as I cooked it only yesterday! The ingredients are included in my March newsletter. So if you are keen to know more, please click on this link carol 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Normanby Hall my inspiration

After a three year break from writing new work, I've had thoughts to get back into it. More than thoughts really, as I've gone as far as opening an old, unfinished manuscript and reading it. Naturally, reading led to editing and fiddling with sentences. It's been so long since I started writing this story, I found that the characters jumped from the page, as if to say, hey here I am, you've forgotten me, but once I started reading, I knew I hadn't forgotten them -- life had just sidelined them and my writing ambitions for a while.

So now I thought to make a promise to myself. I'm going to try and finish the story. Write the novel. Not think ahead to the agonies of promoting it. Just write. I'm hoping this will help me to keep opening the manuscript and plugging away at it.

Also, to help this process I've been looking at historical research, since the book I'm writing is set in the Edwardian era, starting at 1912, and research is very important to me.

Harry, the male character, owns an estate, and much of the surrounding village and the local coal mine. For his home I found inspiration from Normanby Hall, a local grand estate near where I work.
Visiting places like this helps the imagination, fills the creative well, so to speak.

I've decided to share the some of my research. Obviously, Harry's home isn't Normanby Hall, but I can create something similar in my story to make it lifelike and more true to the times.

If you wish to learn more about Normanby Hall please visit this link.

Friday, February 13, 2015

To Take Her Pride is only £2.99!

I love all my novels, but one of my favourites is To Take Her Pride and it's currently on Amazon Kindle at £2.99!

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?
You can view it here. To Take Her Pride

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Life as a Governess in Russia

Imperial Royal Family - 1912

Hiring a British governess was quite fashionable among Russian aristocracy during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. They loved English style and wished their sons to turn into little Lord Fauntleroys. Being able to speak English was considered to be a necessary social accomplishment. French too was fashionable among the upper classes so employing an English governess who could speak the language was ideal. A tutor might also be hired to provide instruction in Russian and history, and perhaps someone to teach the piano or violin, but the governess was in charge of everything else. Lessons would take place in the mornings with the afternoons devoted to teaching drawing, painting and sewing for the girls. Boys spent the afternoons taking part in field sports and fishing. Very much in the style of British aristocracy.

Books were hard to find. Those brought into the country were often assumed to be politically suspect and not allowed in, a situation which worsened once the revolution started. Education was seen by the Bolsheviks as a problem since it gave people ideas and tended to make them difficult to rule. Families who owned precious books learned to keep them hidden away, along with their jewels and personal treasures.

Children were expected to take afternoon tea and dinner with their parents, and the governess must accompany them. This requirement differed very much from the situation in England where a governess was held in something of a limbo between servants and master. Millie was thankful that she’d learned about aristocratic etiquette from her former employer. The children, however, were quite capable of embarrassing her.

Discipline was an important part of a governess’s job. Not always easy with children who had led sheltered, spoiled lives. Some governesses lost patience and made them stand on a table, or put sticky paper over their mouth. Millie did not approve of such punishment.

A governess was also expected to attend church with the family most Sundays. The congregation would stand throughout the long service, even the Tsar and Tsarina, and all servants of the household must wear their best clothes. A fine hat was essential, the more flamboyant the better.

She could also visit the British and American Chapel in St. Petersburg on her day off, which Millie did, once she had convinced the Countess that she was entitled to some free time of her own. After the service the governesses would get together to chat as this wasn’t simply a place of worship, but also a social club. It provided evening classes, a library, chess club, choir, amateur dramatics and jolly picnics. It was the place to make friends, and hear of new jobs on the chapel grape-vine. Very much a home from home for ex-pats. It was here that Millie met the love of her life, but did he feel the same way about her?

Set against the backdrop of revolutionary Russia, The Amber Keeper is a sweeping tale of jealousy and revenge, reconciliation and forgiveness. 

English Lake District, 1960s: A young Abbie Myers returns home after learning of her mother’s death. Estranged from her turbulent family for many years, Abbie is heartbroken to hear that they blame her for the tragedy. 

Determined to uncover her mother’s past, Abbie approaches her beloved grandmother, Millie, in search of answers. As the old woman recounts her own past, Abbie is transported back to the grandeur of the Russian Empire in 1911 with tales of her grandmother’s life as a governess and the revolution that exploded around her. 

As Abbie struggles to reconcile with her family, and to support herself and her child, she realizes that those long-ago events created aftershocks that threaten to upset the fragile peace she longs to create. 


Excerpt from The Amber Keeper 

And there they all were, a dozen or so young women gathered in the vestibule area, all welcoming me with smiles, and lots of hugs and kisses. As they quickly took my coat and settled me into a chair with a cup of tea and a bun, I instantly felt as if I was among friends. ‘No picnics at this time of year, sadly, but there are one or two concerts lined up. Even the odd bridge night. And the Christmas party, of course. Plenty of fun to look forward to,’ a blonde-haired young woman who introduced herself as Ivy, assured me.
     ‘Are you musical? If so then don’t bother to join the choir as it seems to be a requirement that members should not be able to sing,’ another warned.
      Everyone laughed, seeming to think this highly amusing.
     ‘I doubt I shall have much time to join anything. The Countess and the children keep me pretty busy.’
     ‘Oh, do make sure you get it written down what time off you are to be allowed.’
     ‘And when you are to be paid,’ another girl added. ‘Employers in financial difficulties can put off paying your wages, which isn’t right at all.
     ‘The Belinskys are definitely not in any financial difficulties,’ I hastened to assure them. ‘I’m sure everything will fine, once I’ve settled into a routine. But first I have to organise the refurbishment of the schoolroom.’ I went on to explain how the Countess wanted it to be in English style, so more advice followed on how best to achieve this in Russia. The most useful information came from Ruth.
     ‘I can certainly recommend a good carpenter to build the toy cupboard and everything you need. Stefan attends here regularly as his own mother came over last century to work as a governess herself for a Russian factory owner. She eventually married one of the employees. He’s bilingual and feels very much a part of the English community. He might well be around this afternoon. We’ll go and look for him after we’ve had tea.’
     I set down my cup and saucer. ‘Perhaps we should look now as I really should be getting back.’
     We found the young man in question and Ruth quickly explained my need for a good carpenter. He was tall and lean with well-muscled shoulders, red-brown hair and only the finest bristle of a moustache on his upper lip, rather than the heavy beard that was considered fashionable. I thought him rather good looking.
     ‘So you work for Count Belinsky? Interesting. He is said to have considerable influence with the Tsar.’
     ‘That’s not what I’ve heard.’ I remembered the conversation over afternoon tea when the Count had spoken of the bullying uncles.
     ‘Oh, so he tells you his secrets, does he?’
     ‘That’s not what I meant.’
     ‘Ah, so you were listening in to a conversation? That’s interesting too.’ My cheeks grew warm, and, noticing my embarrassment he laughed out loud. But I could hardly deny it to be true.
     ‘Stop teasing her, Stefan.’ Ruth chided him. ‘We all hear things we shouldn’t. It’s part of life in service, as you well know. And Count Belinsky is a very important minister.’
     ‘He’s certainly that,’ he agreed.
     ‘Although whether I’m prepared to work for a member of the rich aristocracy is open to question.’ The man was beginning to irritate me but, stiffening my resolve, I looked him straight in the eye. They were a fascinating greeny-blue, sparkling brightly as if he was finding this entire conversation hugely entertaining.
     ‘It’s the Countess who has ordered this work, but if you’re not interested then I’m sure I can find another carpenter, equally good.’
     ‘I very much doubt that. I’m the best there is.’
     ‘Oh, and do you have any references to that effect?’ I must have sounded rather haughty for he laughed all the more. ‘I can provide any number, should they be necessary.’
     ‘It is not I who will require it, but her ladyship may well demand assurance of your …’
     ‘… competence? Can it even be in doubt?’
     I almost wanted to slap his arrogant face, and was grateful when Ruth again intervened with a chuckle. ‘Do behave, Stefan. Millie is only doing her job as well as she can, otherwise she might lose it.’
     He sobered instantly, and giving a little bow of the head agreed to come round to the Belinsky’s flat the very next day to discuss what was required. I was glad to make my escape. But there was something about the way his eyes followed me as I left the building that set my heart beating just a little faster.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Twitter: @fredalightfoot

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Free Short Stories

My publisher has 5 short stories of mine, which are completely free.

Apart from A New Dawn (based on the Titanic, written under old pen name Anne Whitfield), the other four stories are all linked, starting with The Lieutenant's Lady, A Most Serious Gentleman, A Most Damaged Gentleman & An Adventurous Lady. All written during the Edwardian Era, 1914, then through to 1922.

The link to download the stories -

Saturday, November 1, 2014

100 years on: Armistice and Remembrance

My husband and I sit on a quiet Sunday afternoon, collecting the images for a YouTube video available to watch on my website www.carolrivers.com
As we work, the trees in the garden sway softly in a mild November breeze. Somewhere church bells are ringing, so faintly we hardly notice them. Crisp, dry leaves scuttle along the garden path and swirl by the garage doors. Life is perfectly normal and yet as we study the faces of the Fallen, young boys and men, who a hundred years ago were losing their lives in the hell of war, the moments stop still. Fathers, husbands, sons; these men all had hope of a future before 1914. But the Great War machine ripped apart millions of families worldwide. So we chose the most poignant image of all to begin our trailer. The Christmas Truce of 1914. There were  just a few hours when troops on both sides put aside their weapons and played football. The conflict could have ended there if it had been up to those men. And millions of lives saved. But sadly history tells another story.
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thinking of Christmas Shopping?

October 23rd is almost here, the day when my 2014 novel, TOGETHER FOR CHRISTMAS is published in paperback form. The book's beautiful cover shows my central character, Flora Shine, dressed in her Great War nurse's uniform. Together with her two close friends depicted in the background, this clever artwork hints at the story inside. I'm so grateful to Simon & Schuster, my publisher, for taking such care to make the tale come alive for the reader from the moment the book reaches the shelves. But no sooner than TOGETHER FOR CHRISTMAS is done and dusted, my attention turns to next year's story, where the characters impatiently wait in the wings, eager to be written into life. September's amazing weather has allowed me to work in the garden on my laptop where intoxicating scents of bonfire and horse manure fill the air. I am at once transported back to the blackened chimneys and dilapidated 1930's terraced houses of London's East End, my writing turf . If you've read my first novel, Lizzie of Langley Street, set in 1919, you'll know costermonger Lizzie Flowers is as stubbornly determined to succeed in business as she is to protect her family from the hard men of the capital's underworld. In this sequel, my cast of characters have moved on from their horse-drawn carts and into the modern world of motorized vehicles. Lizzie plans to open a  cooperative for women, giving hope to those families who are burdened by poverty and destitution. But the criminal gangs soon get wind of her enterprise and demand a large slice of her investment. Lizzie knows she has some difficult choices to make. Does she pursue her dangerous path, refusing to give in to the racketeers and perhaps putting her family in danger? Or will she finally realise that survival is more important to her than success? Well, you'll have to join Lizzie next year to find out -  and I promise it will be worth your wait! Meanwhile, with Christmas shopping already underway, TOGETHER FOR CHRISTMAS might just prove the surprise stocking-filler you're searching for!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Release: Woodland Daughter

Woodland Daughter is set in Yorkshire in 1902, Queen Victoria has died and the new century has brought in many changes, including another Boer War in South Africa, which features a little in this story.

A new century brings change to the carefully ordered world Eden Harris maintains, change that threatens all she holds dear. Despite years of devoted service to the Bradburys, the leading family of the community, Eden hides a secret that would affect them all. When an enemy returns, her world is shattered and her secret exposed. Torn and provoked, she strains to protect her family until a devastating accident leaves her alone and frightened. As the threat against her grows, Eden takes her precious daughters and flees from the only place she's called home, to live amongst masses in York. Her attempt to start anew is not so simple as the past haunts her, and the one man she thought lost to her so many years before, returns to claim what has always been his. Eden must gather her strength and look into her heart to accept what the future offers. Can she find the happiness she longs for?

Joel rested his body against the ship’s rail, bracing himself for the slightest pain in his shoulder. With one arm in a sling tucked beneath his uniform jacket, he was careful to keep out of the way of people. The slightest touch could have him sweating in pain. The sea breeze lifted the hair on his forehead and neck, cooling him slightly. He needed a haircut, but he’d wait until he’d reach England before attending to that.
Below him on the deck, he watched the crowds scurrying about like ants. Soldiers, nurses, travellers, ship crew, dock workers all hurried back and forth. Behind him, from within the ship, came the noise of eager travellers settling in for their ocean journey.
He stared out into the distance, where Table Mountain dominated the view. He was sad to be leaving Africa. He’d come to think of it as home in a way. The sights and sounds, the heat and people were familiar now. Of course nothing competed against Bradbury Hall, but he’d been in Africa for seven years. It was a long time. The army had replaced his family. He’d learnt to rely on his fellow officers to ease the loneliness, and at first it had worked well. The adventure and excitement kept his mind from thinking of home. But lately, for the last year and a half, a yearning to return home had claimed him and not let go.  
The ships funnels belched smoke and the boarding siren wailed. Under his feet he felt the deck shudder as the enormous engines surged with power. Anticipation welled. He was going home. Despite the ache in his shoulder, he smiled. Time to start a new phase of his life. Time to reaffirm the links with his family, the estate, old friends, and… Eden.
He was conscious of the changes awaiting him back home. Much had happened in his absence. Not long after he joined the regiment, his mother died. That had been a blow, but on the whole he had managed to keep the family and home intact in his mind. When he’d left England, his father had been alive, Charlie well, Annabella cheeky, pretty, naive and Eden… Eden had been beautiful, a free spirit of the woodland where she lived.
What awaited him now?
The ship eased from its berth and glided out into the harbour. The breeze sharpened and Joel turned away from the rail. He glanced at a crippled solider standing near the door leading into one of the saloons. The soldier swayed on his crutches, one leg gone in battle.
“Major Bradbury?”
Joel checked his step and hurried over to steady the man with his good arm.
“Thanks, Sir.” The solider smiled.
“Stevens, isn’t it?” Joel mused, helping the man to lean against a wall and out of the way of other passengers.
“Stevenson, Sir, Corporal Dave Stevenson.” He leaned against the support and breathed out slowly. “I still haven’t got the hang of these things yet.” He held up the crutches.  
Joel grinned. “I think it might be an art that takes practice, Corporal.”
Dave took of his hat and wiped the seat off from his forehead, his fair hair stuck to his head. “Do you mind, Sir, if I sit down? This leg isn’t used to holding all the weight and gets a bit shaky, like.”
“Of course, man, sit.” Joel again aided Stevenson in lowering to the deck. There were no chairs about and after a moment’s hesitation, Joel join him and gently eased his backside down, careful not to jar his shoulder. “We should have gone inside, it would be more comfortable.”
“Sorry, Sir, but I’m no sailor. Once inside my stomach has a mind of its own. I’m better out here.”
“Well, I’ll keep you company for a while until dinner is announced. My stomach is the opposite of yours. Once on the ocean I’m always ravenous. I do nothing but eat.”
“You might struggle with a knife and fork, using only one hand.”
Joel chuckled. “Yes, true. So far I’ve had only soup and sandwiches.”
Stevenson laid his crutches beside his good leg and gazed out through the iron rail. “So, we’re going back home to England. I’ve been away three years. I should be happy to be going back, but I’m not as excited as I should be, I don’t think.”
“It affects men in different ways.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, Sir, how do you feel? Was your clipped wing the reason for you to go home?”
“Yes. My shoulder stopped a bullet.” He glanced down at his padded and bandaged left shoulder. “Normally they’d take it out and I’d be back in the mix of things, but this Boer bullet went in at an angle and wedge itself deep. The surgeon managed to get it out, but he wasn’t sure what damaged had been done. Only once the swelling has gone down and the soreness gone, will I know what strength remains in the arm.”
“Does your family know about it yet?”
“No, not yet. It didn’t seem worth writing when I was going home anyway. What about your family?”
“Oh aye, they know. I’ve been in hospital a while, long enough for letters to go back and forth.” Stevenson bent up his leg and rested his elbow on it. “They say they don’t care if I come home missing a leg, as long as I’m coming home to them. I’m an only child see, and I used to help my father run our grocers shop.”
“Will you do that again?”
“I guess so. Funny how things change, isn’t it. I hated working in that shop as a lad. All my friends would be out playing football or cricket and I’d be stuck behind a counter. The first opportunity I got to leave I took, and that was the army.” He tapped the toe of his boot on the deck. “Now, I can’t wait to get back there. I miss me mam and dad, and me gran, who lives with us. My mam makes the best jam roly-poly you’ve ever tasted. Dad brews his own beer in the back shed and Gran used to be my partner in cards.”
“There’s nothing better in this world than returning home to a family that loves you.” A picture came into Joel’s mind of the estate in autumn, the tall graceful trees, their leaves turning gold and amber, the squirrels scurrying around in the wood, collecting the last of their booty, harvest time and bringing in the hay, the smell of open fires as the gardeners raked up and burnt the fallen leaves.
He leaned his head back and smiled in remembrance. “I long to go riding with my brother. We used to ride for miles. Sometimes we’d stop at a pub and have an ale and a hot pie smothered in gravy.”
“Me mam has written of a neighbour’s daughter, Vera, who she hopes I’ll one day marry. I’m not so sure what Vera has to say about it though. We got along all right before I went away, but…well, I’m not as I once was.”
“If this Vera is a decent woman, she’ll not mind.”
“Maybe.” Stevenson lifted his face to the breeze. “Will you have a girl waiting for you at home, Sir?”
Joel’s stomach clenched. “Perhaps. I’m ready for a family. However, I’ve been away longer than you, and I’m not sure what to expect when I arrive home.”
“None of us are, Sir, none of us are.”   
A group of children ran by, the shoes thundering on the timber deck. One cheeky boy paused and waved to Joel and Stevenson before scampering off again. A harassed nanny tried to catch up as she wheeled a pram after them. Joel watched until they turned a corner at the bow of the ship and were out of sight. His heart constricted, thinking of the boy’s lively face. A son. He wanted a son so badly it hurt. A boy to teach all the things his father taught him, to hunt, to fish, to ride, to play sports. He thought of Charlie. Two sons perhaps. Two fine boys to grow up together like he and Charlie did.
Emotion clogged his throat and he coughed to clear it.  He’d been away from home too long…

Buy in ebook or paperback from all online retailers such Amazon USA and Amazon UK, iBooks, Nook, etc. 

I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August's ebook 'Together For Christmas'

My Great War Centenary book ‘Together For Christmas’ is published in ebook this month. So August is a very exciting month for me, as publication coincides with the Centenary celebrations. 'Together for Christmas' opens as Britain declares war on Germany. The whole country seems to be in uproar as Flo, Hilda and Will, orphans who have just left St Boniface's Orphanage in the East End for their first jobs, sit in the sunshine of Hyde Park on a rare day off, discussing the impending war and the changes it will bring to their lives.
Little do they know what is ahead of them - nine million combatants are to be killed during the period July 1914 – November 1918. The effects of this conflict will shatter families for years to come. Some returning troops suffered what we now recognize as post traumatic stress disorder and in one way or another my young characters' lives are linked to this heart rending disaster .
Should you like to read a little more about the novel please visit my website carolrolrivers or call by where you can download an excerpt from the first part of the book.
My very best wishes Carol Rivers.