If you’re looking for some new books you should check out Authors ’18 We’re 120 authors with debut novels releasing this year in all genres. If you’re looking to win some new books, join us on Facebook June 18th for the Summer Reading List Party!
Greetings from London, 1899. My name is Frances, Countess of Harleigh and I’m delighted to be sharing a bit about my life with you today.
You may be wondering how I, an American born in Akron, Ohio, became a Countess. The answer, quite simply, is that I owe it to my mother. A decade ago, while my father applied himself to the stock market, my mother, Violet Price set about working her way into New York Society, a daunting task to set oneself.
She failed miserably. The Knickerbocker set simply couldn’t abide the odor of new money. But when my mother heard of the success in London of Lillian Hammersley, Jennie Jerome, and many other girls, she contrived a new plan. She’d launch me onto London Society as the latest American heiress. The soul of efficiency, it took her less than a week to choose my future husband, Reginald Wynn, Earl of Harleigh.
My mother loved Reggie’s title and Reggie loved my money so I suppose one could call it a love match. I went along with the plan. I thought it would be great fun to marry a young, dashing lord. Indeed it was, until just after the wedding when my mother returned to New York, and Reggie returned to his friends and mistresses in town, and left me at the old pile—that’s what they call the ancient manor house.
Through the nine years of our marriage, Reggie remained constant—devoted to my dowry and unfaithful to me right up to the day he died. I never wished him any ill, he was the father of our daughter after all, but I couldn’t help but thrill at the prospect of freedom. Well, I did more than just shiver with excitement. During my mourning period, I made plans to move out on my own and away from my grasping in-laws. Reggie’s brother was the new earl and our arguments over money had become a daily ritual. But in just a few more days, I’ll have my own household.
Well, I won’t be entirely alone. My mother plans a return trip to her old hunting ground to bag another title for the family. After all, she considered my marriage a success, why not marry off my sister, Lily and make some other lord very wealthy.
This new stage of my life should be quite busy. I’ll be back in town to visit with my old friends. I must vet Lily’s suitors and at least attempt to keep my mother from matching her with some decrepit duke or marquess. I’ve heard there’ve been some mysterious burglaries in Mayfair and Belgravia but surely a burglar won’t bother with my meager household. And I understand an Inspector Delaney has been asking about me, though I can’t imagine what he wants. Heavens, my life has become so intriguing, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone wrote a book about me.
I’m joking, of course.
Advance Praise For A Lady’s Guide To Etiquette And Murder
“A delightful tale of shenanigans among the British aristocracy. Lady Frances feels very real—not too smart and spunky but no shrinking violet either.” –Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of the Royal Spyness and Molly Murphy mysteries
“Lady Harleigh must rally the support of friends and an attractive neighbor to untangle her affairs in this engrossing tale of aristocratic intrigue. Freeman vividly portrays the opulence of late Victorian life among the British upper crust as Lady Harleigh takes us into the exclusive ballrooms and drawing rooms of London society in 1899. Deception and trickery abound and nothing is exactly as it seems.” –Rosemary Simpson, author of Lies That Comfort and Betray
“Dianne Freeman has penned a mystery that’s witty and fun, with just the right amount of danger and romance to keep you turning pages.” –Alyssa Maxwell, author of A Devious Death
“A fantastic blend of history, mystery and humor. I did not want to put it down. Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer.” –Darcie Wilde, National bestselling author of A Useful Woman and A Purely Private Matter
Clarissa Goenawan’s debut novel, Rainbirds is out today. Happy release day, Clarissa!
Here’s a little bit about the book.
Ren Ishida has nearly completed his graduate degree at Keio University when he receives news of his sister’s violent death. Keiko was stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, failing to understand why she chose to turn her back on the family and Tokyo for this desolate place years ago.
But then Ren is offered Keiko’s newly vacant teaching position at a prestigious local cram school and her bizarre former arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s ailing wife. He accepts both, abandoning Tokyo and his crumbling relationship there in order to better understand his sister’s life and what took place the night of her death.
As Ren comes to know the eccentric local figures, from the enigmatic politician who’s boarding him to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, captivating young female student, he delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren realizes that Keiko Ishida kept many secrets, even from him.
Sounds intriguing, Clarissa. How did you come up with the idea?
One afternoon, I was just wondering, “What if someone I cared about suddenly passed away, and then, I realized too late that I never actually got to know them?” At first, I wanted to write a short story about a young man who had just lost his older brother, which later on, morphed to an older sister. And then, I realized there were so many things I wanted to explore in their relationship, and that this story has to be a novel.
Can you tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket?
RAINBIRDS is part of a series of interrelated novels. So do keep a lookout at the side characters, because they might be the main characters for the next book.
Who’s your favorite character from the book?
Rio Nakajima, also known as ‘Seven Stars.’ She’s a seventeen-year-old girl who is bright and bold, unafraid to voice her opinion and relentlessly goes after what she wants. She doesn’t care about conforming to public’s expectation, and I really admire her for that.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Surabaya, a city in East Java and also the second most populated city in Indonesia. In my mid-teens, I migrated to Singapore, which I now call home. I live with my husband, three beautiful daughters, and a broken-coated Jack Russell named ‘Hunter.’
How did you get into writing?
It was my childhood dream I’d loved reading ever since I was a kid and dreamt that one day, I would publish my own book. But I only started to seriously pursuing the profession after I quit my banking job at age twenty-four (probably not the most conventional thing to do, but I never regretted it.)
What’s your next project—what are you working on now?
I’m currently editing my second and third novels, both of them literary mysteries. And just like RAINBIRDS, they’re set in Japan.
You can connect with Clarissa Goenawan here:
You can buy a copy of Rainbirds here:
Barnes & Nobles: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rainbirds-clarissa-goenawan/1126551443?ean=9781616958558
I’m talking research again. Historical novels require a lot of it. Fortunately for me, my novels are set in the late 1890s. As history goes, that’s not so long ago and information is boundless. I can get lost in the newspaper archives for hours and yes, I sometimes lose my focus as well. Why am I interested in the cost of leasing a house in a town where none of my characters live? Am I researching or procrastinating? Does it matter? This stuff is fascinating and I’m sure to need it someday.
But my favorite research is for the cover image. I’m thrilled my editor actually wants my input. The cover is so much fun—fashions and hairstyles and hats—oh my! I don’t have much of a style of my own, jeans and tee-shirts are fine with me, but there’s something about pouring over vintage fashion plates; the sumptuous fabrics, the draping, the colors, the sheer artistry of design that brings out my inner fashionista.
One of my favorite places to search is the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum http://collections.vam.ac.uk/search/ . That’s where I found this fabulous confection. Doesn’t it just conjure the image of Eliza Doolittle at Royal Ascot shouting, “Come on, Dover! Move yer bloomin’ arse!”
As it happens, my main character, Frances doesn’t attend the races, at least not in this book, so I had to move on to more appropriate attire. Another of my go-to sites for 1890s fashion, is The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s digital collection, which contains fashion plates from the Costume Institute. https://libmma.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15324coll12
Here I don’t have to settle on a typical outfit of the era. I can narrow my search to the year and even the season. Believe it or not, this is a summer walking dress. Significantly more covered than we’d see today.
Again the hat is simply a work of art. Do I wear hats? No, never. I can’t explain my fascination, but I love whiling away many happy hours browsing through these plates.
And I get to call it work.
As a debut author, I’m always looking for advice. It felt like I was writing my book forever and I pretty much had the writing part down. Once my book sold, I found myself in unknown territory–publishing. The one piece of advice I received more than any other was to join a debut author group. If I couldn’t find one, I should start one. Well, I couldn’t find one, so I started one. And it’s the best first step I ever took.
All of our members are in the same situation, but at different stages. We’ve learned from each other, shared tips, given and received support. Over the long months building up to our 2018 releases, we’ve become a writing family, and today one of our own is releasing her book! I couldn’t be more excited for Pamela Kopfler and BETTER DEAD.
Since I write historical mystery, one thing I thought I’d do with this blog is introduce some new Mystery and Historical fiction I’ve enjoyed. So with no further ado:
Here’s the book!
A feisty B & B owner believes her cheatin’ husband deserves to choke on his divorce papers and spend eternity roasting in hell after nearly bankrupting her Louisiana bed and breakfast. At least, she’s half-right when he turns up dead, but she’s dead wrong when she accidentally calls him back from the grave. Unfortunately, he has unfinished business. Unless she wants to be stuck with her ghostly ex forever, she has to wedge him through the pearly gates by cleaning up the mess he left behind—a smuggling ring he started behind her back at her B&B. Now she has thirty days to solve her not-so-dearly-departed’s murder or she’s stuck with him for life. Or worse, she may be doing life.
Here’s a short interview with Pamela.
Tell us about yourself.
PK: My husband and I have a blended family of five, which is sometimes a circus and sometimes wonderful, but always a blessing. I count my days on earth by the lives dogs adopted. My current fur baby is a solid black standard poodle who thinks he’s the sixth child. Between you and me, he is.
How did you get into writing?
PK: I took the scenic route, as I often do. I was hosting a home and garden show on a local TV station, telling Southern anecdotal stories on a local NPR affiliate when I met Mr. Deluxe, my current husband. After a year of our long distance relationship, he popped the big question, but someone had to move. That someone was me. The only marketable skill that survived the move was my ability to write, so write I did.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
PK: Read a good book. Walk my big black poodle. Try a new restaurant or an old favorite. Paint. Cook. Decorate. Garden. Watch the Tigers or the Saints play. Travel. I don’t get to do these things as much as I’d like, but each interest fills the well that spills out stories.
Where did you get the idea?
PK: The inspiration for BETTER DEAD came during a writers’ retreat at Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana. The organizer challenged the authors to write a ghost story in the spirit of Lord Byron’s challenge to Mary Shelly to write a supernatural story at a retreat in 1816. Shelly gave us the classic Frankenstein. Pamela twisted Frankenstein and added a funny bone when she remembered a lament of many women going through divorce. It would have been easier if he’d just died. But what if he did die and he came back as a ghost? That thought sparked the premise for BETTER DEAD.