Release Day!

June 25th was release day for A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, the second book in the Countess of Harleigh series. We celebrated with a release party at Schuler Books in Okemos, Michigan. Guests included the countess herself and her anonymous villain!

Characters book and Di 2

Because I’ve been so busy with the release, I don’t have a new blog post for today, but I do have an excerpt from the book. Hope you enjoy it!

Also, for those of you who haven’t read book 1, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, Kensington has put the e-book on sale for $2.99 on all platforms! I never know exactly how long the sale price will last, but I believe it will be at least through July 15th.

Excerpt from A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder

“What about Lottie as a match for Mr. Evingdon?”
I glanced over at Lottie in time to see the girl blush furiously. I should have seen this coming. Lily had invited her to visit during the next social season and allow me to introduce her to London society. Lottie’s mother favored the idea, but not the timing. She’d dropped her only daughter on our doorstep three weeks ago, like a twenty-one-year-old foundling, and took herself off to Paris to have a new wardrobe designed.
Or so she claimed.
Since her forwarding address was in care of the Comte De Beaulieu, I found her cover story rather weak. The Comte was the notorious libertine British husbands considered all Frenchmen to be. And penniless in the bargain. If he had designs on anything, it was likely Mrs. Deaver’s pin money. Considering the large bank draft she provided to cover her daughter’s expenses, and my own of course, I suspected her pin money to be substantial, and Mr. Deaver was unlikely to miss it or his wife. If the gossip from my mother’s letters was true, Mrs. Deaver so scandalized the matrons of New York, none of them would let their sons near Lottie.
Considering Mrs. Deaver’s reputation across the pond, it was perhaps for the best that she moved on before she could establish one here. But while I appreciated the extra funds, I was left with the problem of what to do with Lottie. The unfortunate young lady sought an aristocratic husband during a time when the aristocrats were all tucked away at their country homes preparing to shoot red grouse as soon as the Glorious Twelfth arrived.
There were few social events this late in the summer, which meant we had her company all to ourselves for the weeks she’d been here. She was a pretty girl of medium height, slender, as fashion decreed, with an oval face framed by an abundance of russet hair. I found her to be endlessly interested in everything. As I told Sir Hugo, she was easy to entertain. She was also determined to be helpful. I learned very quickly, accepting her assistance could be dangerous.
If I allowed her to arrange the flowers, she’d only break the vase and spill the water. I’d once asked her to fetch a book from a shop just a few blocks away. She’d neglected to take a maid and, lost in thought, she wandered so far out of the neighborhood, three of us had to go out in search of her. A search that took several hours from my day and, I suspect, a few years off my life as I imagined her abducted and sold into slavery. How would I ever have explained that to her family?
She seemed always to have a spot on her dress, ink on her fingers, and a trail of destruction in her wake, but it was clear she always had the best of intentions. In fact, she was very endearing and I liked her a great deal, if only I could keep her from touching anything.
But as a match for Charles? I wasn’t quite sure who would make a good match for Lottie, but I’d never have picked him. For one, his home had far too many priceless antiques to be broken. For another, though I protested Aunt Hetty’s saying it, he was a bit of a dunderhead. Lottie needed someone to help her navigate the twists and turns of society. That would not be Charles.
There was one objection I could make. “It would probably be wise to find out from Mr. Evingdon why he didn’t form an attachment to Mrs. Archer before I introduce him to anyone else.”
“What did you say her name was?”
I glanced up to see Hetty watching me over the turned-down corner of her newspaper.
“Mary Archer. Why?”
Hetty twisted her lips into a grimace. “It appears Mr. Evingdon is correct in this matter. Whatever divided them, he’ll have no opportunity to reconcile with Mrs. Archer.”
Confused, I stared at my aunt. “What are you saying?”
“I’m sorry to give you this news, Frances, but I just read about her in the paper. It appears she’s been murdered.”

Hope you enjoy the book!

 

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American Heiress Helena Zimmerman

 

The first heiress I profiled, Consuelo, Duchess of Manchester, had a son who unfortunately followed in his father’s feckless footsteps.

William Angus Drogo Montagu, the Ninth Duke of Manchester needed to marry an heiress too. By the age of twenty, he was a notorious fortune hunter and deeply in debt. Possibly to put off his creditors, he’d claim to be engaged to one heiress or another including Pauline Astor, Miss Joan Wilson, daughter of an MP, and May Goelet, one of America’s richest heiresses. He was also rumored to be engaged to an American actress.

His sudden and very quiet marriage to Helena Zimmerman put an end to the rumors but not the notoriety. After the wedding, a newspaper published a photo of him surrounded by portraits of the 22 women he was supposed to have been engaged to. Not a great start for a marriage.

Helena Z and Manchester

From the Cincinnati Enquirer August 1900

 

Miss Zimmerman was the only child of Eugene Zimmerman and Marietta Evans. Her mother died when Helena was only four. Her father, a wealthy investor, sent her to school in France. In 1900, when she was 21 and the duke 23, the couple met at a fancy-dress ball and struck up a friendship. He made his intentions known, but Mr. Zimmerman did not approve of the match. Manchester was nearly bankrupt must have seemed aimless to the American as he drifted from acting, to reporting, to chasing heiresses. Helena’s father insisted the couple wait and Helena returned home to Cincinnati.

Helena returned to England in November of 1900 with a chaperone but without her father. The chaperone was easily won over and the couple were married privately on November 14th, with the hope that Mr. Zimmerman could be won over as well.

Though the match had something of a romantic beginning, Manchester was too much like his father and enjoyed gambling and women. Helena’s father bought them a home in Ireland, Kylemore Castle, and settled an income on Helena. He knew better than to allow Manchester access to the whole of her fortune and held it in trust. Regardless, the duke went through a large portion of the Zimmerman fortune before the couple divorced in 1931. Manchester remarried that same year and Helena remarried in 1937 to the 10th Earl of Kintore.

I haven’t found anything recorded from Helena’s perspective, but it’s hard not to believe she was swept off her feet by a scoundrel. She plays a small role in A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder when Frances tries to determine if Helena is aware of the duke’s many peccadillos.

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A Look Back And A Look Forward

It’s June 1st and in just a little over three weeks A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, the second book in the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series will be out in the world. It’s hard to believe ALG Etiquette and Murder launched almost a year ago. Where did that year go? Thank goodness I took pictures! (Sorry in advance to those of you who read this blog on Goodreads. I cannot get my pictures to sinc. Please keep reading because I have upcoming events listed at the end.)

It started with a launch party at Aunt Agatha’s Mystery Bookshop in Ann Arbor, hosted by the fabulous Robin Agnew.

Author - Dianne Freeman

More fun at the Kensington Cozy-Con at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ.

K cozy con 3

A joint event with my friend, Minerva Spencer also at the Poisoned Pen!

PP M&D 2

Di wave

Winning Best Debut Mystery award at Left Coast Crime in Vancouver, CA

 

Agatha pic

 

 

 

Though I wasn’t able to attend the conference, it was still a thrill to learn I was part of a first ever tie for an Agatha Award for Best First Mystery with friend, Shari Randall! (teapot should arrive next week!)

 

With book two ready to launch, I’m ready to celebrate! First the giveaway! I have 2 advance reader copies of A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder left. To win one, just leave a comment at the end of this blog post, or hop over to my Author page on Facebook where I’ll have the giveaway posted. I’ll draw the winners Thursday, June 6th.

I’ll also be doing guest posts on the following blogs and giving away a hardcover copy of A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder
6/27 Dru’s Book Musings https://drusbookmusing.com/
7/9 The Wickeds https://wickedauthors.com/

Want to celebrate with me? Here’s the schedule of where I’ll be over the next couple of months.

6/25 7:00 p.m. Schuler Books in Okemos, MI (near Lansing) https://www.schulerbooks.com/event
8/28 7:00 p.m. Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, MI (With CM Gleason and LA Chandlar) https://www.nicolasbooks.com/
8/29 6:00 p.m. Pages Bookshop in Detroit MI (With CM Gleason and LA Chandlar) https://www.pagesbkshop.com/

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

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Another Giveaway!

Between my birthday and other events, I don’t have a new post for this week, so I’m doing a giveaway instead! Please go to my author Facebook page to enter: https://www.facebook.com/DianneFreemanAuthor/ You can win one of two trade paperback copies of A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, or one of two advance reader copies of A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder. Your choice!

The drawing is only on Facebook and will close Sunday evening!

Good Luck!

Paperbacks

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American heiress, Consuelo Yznaga

Frances Wynn and the Countess of Harleigh mysteries were inspired in part by the real American heiresses who, between the mid-1870s and around 1910, contracted over 400 transatlantic marriages with British peers. It seemed fitting to introduce some of those heiresses in a series of blog posts and I’d like to start with one of my favorites, Consuelo Yznaga.

Consuelo was the daughter of a wealthy Cuban merchant, and a planter’s daughter who brought their fconsuelo-montagu-duchess-of-manchester-6175f805-a0c8-4ada-9049-61c74a41f2a-resize-750amily from Louisiana to New York after the civil war. During a visit to Saratoga Springs in 1875, Consuelo met 23-year-old George Victor Drogo Montague, Lord Mandeville, son and heir of the Duke of Manchester. He had a less than sterling reputation, but he was a friend of the Prince of Wales and he would one day be a duke. He was also unwell, suffering from a lingering fever, possibly a bought of typhoid. Consuelo’s mother invited him to recuperate at their family home, nursed by Consuelo. Once he recovered, and her father offered a dowry of £200,000, they were engaged.

This was only the second marriage of an American girl to a British peer. The New York newspapers crowed and the Yznagas ignored any rumors they may have heard about the groom’s unsavory reputation.

Viscount_Mandeville_Vanity_Fair_1882-04-22

Caricature by Spy, Vanity Fair

After the wedding, the couple returned to England. With her beauty, wit, and vivacious nature, Consuelo took London by storm. Though her high spirits, cigar smoking, and banjo playing shocked some of the more proper members of society, she was a favorite of the fashionable set and the Prince of Wales. Unfortunately, her charms did not help her marriage. Mandeville had earned his reputation. He spent his wife’s dowry on his mistress and gambling, racking up large debts. The Duke sent them to Ireland in the hope of curbing his son’s spendthrift ways. They also spent some time with Consuelo’s old friend, Alva Vanderbilt, but nothing could keep their debt from mounting.

 

By 1890, when Mandeville inherited the Dukedom, the couple rarely even saw one another. Consuelo was still a favorite in society an used her connections to sponsor other American heiresses, even after her husband died two years later. Sadly, the 9th Duke of Manchester was no better with finances than his father and had to seek his own heiress.

If you’re interested in learning more about Consuelo, you might enjoy the following books:
In a Gilded Cage: From Heiress to Duchess by Marion Fowler
The Husband Hunters by Anne de Courcy
And of course, the character of Conchita Closson in Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers was based on Consuelo.

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A great time at Left Coast Crime

Just back from the Left Coast Crime conference in Vancouver. What a wonderful city and a great conference! I’ve attended lots of writers’ conferences in the past, but like Bouchercon and Malice Domestic, Left Coast Crime is more of reader/author mixer and every minute is filled with bookish activities and events. There are author panels that range from informative to entertaining, interviews with notable guests of honor, a new

Sex panel

The Sex Panel was so funny!

author breakfast, where you can hear about your next favorite book, author speed dating, where authors come to your table in short increments to tell you about their books, and free books! I picked up Paddy Hirsch’s new novel that I’ve been dying to read.

Of course, you don’t have toVancouver waterfront attend every event. This is also a chance to meet in person people you’ve only interacted with online, meet authors you admire, or meet new friends. We’re all there to celebrate our shared love of books after all. And because both authors and readers aren’t often extroverts, there’s time to break away now and then to explore the host city. Left Coast Crime is in a new city every year. Next year, San Diego!

As I’m somewhat introverted, I’m always a nervous wreck when IDi wave anticipate speaking in front of a crowd, but I managed to get through the New Author Breakfast without blathering and the Lefty Debut Nominee panel with Tracy Clark, A.J. Devlin, Keenan Powell, and J.G. Toews was so much fun! I’m thrilled to say my novel, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, won the Lefty for best debut mystery. I was so overwhelmed when I went up onstage to accept, I had no time to be nervous. I also have no idea what I said!

Have you ever been to Left Coast, Bouchercon, or Malice Domestic? How did you like it?

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Research Material is Everywhere!

I have a lot of friends and family who claim to hate history.

cat shockedI don’t believe them.

Okay, maybe they hated studying history. Depending on how it’s presented, it can be dry or just a succession of dates to be memorized. Maybe there are certain eras in history they dislike. I can understand that too. But I don’t believe they hate history because each one has provided me with a wealth of historical information I might never have found elsewhere.

Yes, one of those history haters eyes lit up when he regaled me with the details of fishing, line dating back to the first person to ever try an alternative to bare-handed fishing. Before my eyes glazed over, I learned everything I needed to know about braided fishing line in the 19th century—and the 18th century, and the 17th century. The thing is, he doesn’t consider himself a historian, he just loves to fish and every time he had a chance to learn something about his hobby, he did. Victorian hunting costume male

I don’t know how much time I might have wasted researching Victorian hunting parties if one of my history-hating hobbyist friends hadn’t informed me that when someone is hunting birds, it is not called hunting, but shooting. Thus, I needed to research Victorian shooting parties. Since he knew that, I took a chance and asked if he’d ever been part of a shooting party. Jackpot! I got a first-hand account of a traditional shoot. I know this because once I was armed with the proper terminology, I was able to do the follow-up research. I had similar experiences talking with friends about archery and golf.

By now, you should have the idea I know nothing about sports, and you’d be right. However, my third Countess of Harleigh mystery, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder, takes place at a country house party, where sporting activity abounds. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by people who, while they might hate history, (I still don’t believe them) they know the history of their sport inside and out.

Book three won’t release until 2020, but in the meantime you can enjoy A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, and in June 2019, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder.

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A Very Late Post

I completely missed the month of February on my blog. In part, because I was very busy and in part, because I was very busy celebrating. Both are good things—just not for my blog.

The second half of 2018 had me doing quite a bit of juggling—writing book three, copy edits and page proofs for book two, and marketing book one along with my regular life. The result was that I was way behind on book three. With only two months left before I had to submit the manuscript, it needed another thorough edit. So in February I planted myself in front of my laptop and got to work.

Then the nominations came out for the Lefty Awards and A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder was nominated for best debut novel! I couldn’t believe it! I celebrated, then immediately made arrangements to go to the Left Coast Crime Conference in Vancouver (March 28th – 31st). If you’re going, come say hi! I’ll be at the Debut Author Breakfast Friday morning from 7:30 to 8:30, and on the Debut Nominee Panel from 1:30 – 2:15. Fellow nominee, Tracy Clark and I will be hosting a table at the banquet Saturday night and we’d love to have you join us. Otherwise, I’ll be haunting the bookroom and lobby and enjoying the other panels! VancouverBanner

I got back to work and was moving right along when I heard A Lady’s Guide had made the short list for the Mary Higgins-Clark award! This was incredible! I love Mary Higgins-Clark. I met her at a writers’ conference in 1993 and was awed by how gracious and down to earth she was. It’s such a thrill to be nominated for this award. Of course, I celebrated.

Responsible as ever, I got back to work again, but I hadn’t quite finished this revision when I heard the announcement of the Agatha Award nominees. This time I figured I must be dreaming when A Lady’s Guide was nominated for Best Debut! Sadly, I have a conflict that will keep me from attending the Malice Domestic Conference, but I’m tickled to be nominated! Agatha pic

Meanwhile, I am also gearing up for a newsletter. I am not particularly techy, so working with Mail Chimp and putting a subscribe link on my website (you will notice there’s a pop-up now) did not come naturally to me.

Eventually, I managed the technical stuff, the nomination announcements ended, and I actually finished my revision, but that didn’t happen until last week. I still have a few tweaks to make before I send it to my editor, but I have to say I’m very happy with it and I can’t wait to share it with you!

 

 

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Giveaway!

This is fun–out of the blue, my publisher sent me four copies of the audio book for A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder! So I’m giving them away! Here’s what you can do to win one:

Follow this link to add A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder to ygiveaway picour shelf on Goodreads. Then let me know in a comment here, or on my Author Facebook page that you want to be in the drawing. That’s it! Do you already have book two on your ‘want to read’ shelf? Thank you! Just let me know that in a comment here or on Facebook, and I’ll enter you in the drawing. Don’t have a Goodreads account? Just follow my FB Author page and leave a comment that you want to be in the drawing. Due to shipping costs, this drawing is for US residents only. (Sorry) I’ll keep it open through Monday, January 21st, and draw four winners on Tuesday, January 22nd. Good luck!

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder is the second in the Countess of Harleigh mystery series. Here’s a little bit about the book:

How far will some go to safeguard a secret? In the latest novel in Dianne Freeman’s witty and delightful historical mystery series, the adventurous Countess Harleigh finds out . . .

Though American by birth, Frances Wynn, the now-widowed Countess of Harleigh, has adapted admirably to the quirks and traditions of the British aristocracy. On August twelfth each year, otherwise known as the Glorious Twelfth, most members of the upper class retire to their country estates for grouse-shooting season. Frances has little interest in hunting—for birds or a second husband—and is expecting to spend a quiet few months in London with her almost-engaged sister, Lily, until the throng returns.

Instead, she’s immersed in a shocking mystery when a friend, Mary Archer, is found murdered. Frances had hoped Mary might make a suitable bride for her cousin, Charles, but their courtship recently fizzled out. Unfortunately, this puts Charles in the spotlight—along with dozens of others. It seems Mary had countless notes hidden in her home, detailing the private indiscretions of society’s elite. Frances can hardly believe that the genteel and genial Mary was a blackmailer, yet why else would she horde such juicy tidbits?

Aided by her gallant friend and neighbor, George Hazelton, Frances begins assisting the police in this highly sensitive case, learning more about her peers than she ever wished to know. Too many suspects may be worse than none at all—but even more worrying is that the number of victims is increasing too. And unless Frances takes care, she’ll soon find herself among them.

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A Year of Wonder and Gratitude

Happy New YearWith the launch of my debut novel, 2018 was an incredible year for me. Publishing a book comes with the privilege of writing acknowledgements; thanking those people who helped see the book through to fruition. But I wrote them so early in the process, I had no idea how many people would be there to help with promotions, marketing, support, advice, and kind words though the launch and beyond. So, this is an addendum to my acknowledgements for A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder.

Thanks to my friends and family who traveled a minimum of 30 minutes through Michigan road construction—some coming from across the state—to spend a beautiful, summer afternoon indoors, to listen to me speak, yet again, about my book. You made my launch party an experience I’ll never forget!

Thanks to Robin Agnew for taking a chance on a brand-new author and letting me hold my launch party at Aunt Agatha’s Mystery Bookshop. And thanks to Sarah Zettel for recommending A Lady’s Guide to Robin.

Thanks to my new friends and fellow debut authors at Authors ’18. From celebrating one another’s achievements to crying on one another’s shoulders, to promoting one another’s work, this group was proof I wasn’t alone in either my triumphs or travails. I’ll keep cheering for you through 2019 and beyond!

Thanks to fellow writers and bloggers who allowed, or invited me, to guest post on their (much larger) platforms. To those who interviewed me or provided content for my blog by allowing me to interview them.

Thanks to reviewers and readers who found enjoyment in A Lady’s Guide and were kind enough to share their thoughts on Goodreads, Bookbub, and elsewhere across social media, and even directly with me. The reason writers write is to connect with readers and hearing that I have, just makes my day.

Thanks to the man pictured above; my husband, Dan for sharing this experience with me. 2018 truly was an incredible year. I hope I’ll always look back on it with the wonder and gratitude I feel now.

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