Thursday, 1 December 2016

Blog Tour for Book 2 of the Flora Maguire Mysteries


RELEASED 1st DECEMBER


Even the most glamorous stately houses hide secrets and lies from the past...

For fans of Downton Abbey, a thrilling and romantic mystery set in the glorious Cotswolds landscape.

Flora Maguire is now happily married to Bunny Harrington and living in Richmond when she receives an alarming telegram informing her of her father's tragic death in a riding accident at Cleeve Abbey.

Heartbroken, she and Bunny return to her former home, where she was Governess to Eddy, Viscount Trent, and her father was Butler to Earl Trent. 

Flora’s intention was to bury him next to Lily, her mother, who sadly passed away when Flora was a small child.

Mystery surrounds the final resting place of Lily. No-one is willing to talk and, with her father now dead in a suspicious accident, Flora must once again strive alone to uncover hidden family secrets.


DATES and LINKS


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Blog Tour-Nadine Dorries


Publishers' Blurb

The nurses of Lovely Lane – Dana, Victoria, Pammy and Beth – are now in their second year and are about to face some truly harrowing and difficult times on the wards.

St Angelus needs a new assistant matron, but the members of the Liverpool District Hospital Board have overruled Emily Haycock and Dr Gaskell in their choice. Enter the mysterious Miss Van Gilder from somewhere down south.

The life of St Angelus is soon disrupted as her proposals turn the running of the hospital upside down and threaten the jobs of the domestics and porters. But Miss Van Gilder harbours a dark and dishonest secret, and the staff – who are used to looking after their own – set out to uncover it. 


Will they do so in time, before her meddling begins to affect the morale of the nurses and put the lives of their patients in danger? For one very sick little boy, especially, it will be touch and go.


Interview With Nadine Dorries

Welcome to the Disorganised Author Blog, Nadine. I am delighted to be included in your blog tour for your new book, The Children of Lovely Lane published this month.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It tends to exhaust. It is always the case that if I get to the end of a particularly emotional or difficult chapter, I sleep for about an hour. Sometimes it just drains everything I have out of me, however, the anticipation of writing, energises me. When I wake up in the morning, I'm buzzing. Excited about opening up the lap top and beginning a new writing session. I love Sunday's as this is the day I have all to myself to write.

Have you found that being a writer has spoiled your enjoyment of reading? Does your internal editor kick in?

Writing hasn't enjoyed my experience of reading other authors, in fact, I do it a lot. I listen to audio books when I'm driving. I think reading the work of others is almost essential research for a writer to undertake. I don't know how anyone could continue to be inspired to write if they didn't read.

The premise for the ‘Lovely Lane’ books is very appealing. Do you write what you love or do you try to deliver what readers want?

I just don't know what readers want because I'm such an amateur author! I just let the fingers move and out the words flow. It's the little things, one small memory can be the catalyst for a whole book. That is very much what happened in Angels. I was nurse Pammy. I spoke out. I got into serious trouble!

Writing can be isolating, so do you socialise with other writers and share experiences/advice or have you always worked in isolation?

Writing is not my day job, it's a hobby. I have a busy family and social life and so I never feel isolated, in fact, the opposite, I crave the space and peace and quiet to write.

What did you edit out of this book?

It is an enormous book, in fact it is really two books in one. I just couldn't find a point where I wanted to stop writing. Very little was edited out. In fact, I don't think my editor has ever removed very much from any of the books I've written.

Which chapter/section was the most difficult to write?

It would be a massive spoiler to say which chapter was the hardest. I pulled on personal emotion and tragedy. It totally drained me to write it.

Which chapter/section of the story was the most enjoyable to write?

Ditto the chapter I loved. But, it's always nice to have a love story thrown in too.
I am still in touch with the nurses I trained with. I can't help seeing them, hearing their words and remembering their antics. One found reminded me of the funniest nursing story I have ever heard and it went straight into the next Angels book.

Do you feel you have chosen the right time in your life to be a writer, or regret not starting earlier?

I definitely regret not starting earlier. I wish I had taken writing courses and put pen to paper in my twenties. I'm scared I will get too old to write and then I remember Mary Wesley, who didn't even publish her first novel until she was seventy one and when I do, I stop moaning.

Name your favourite book and the one you abandoned or wanted to throw against the wall?

My favourite book changes all the time. I recently re read The Remains Of The Day and loved it. I also loved Robert Harris's Conclave.

I'm too polite to say which books I've abandoned!


Thanks so much for answering my questions, Nadine, and may I wish you the best of success with your new title. below is a link for Nadine's new book and her previous novel, also set in Lovely Lane.

Nadine's Amazon Page




Friday, 25 November 2016

Nadine Dorries Blog Tour

BLOG TOUR



Interview with Nadine Dorries

Nadine Dorries is the author of the No. 1 bestselling Four Streets trilogy and Ruby Flynn. To promote her latest novel, The Children of Lovely Lane I am taking part in the blog tour.

Do stop by at The Disorganised Author for my Interview with Nadine about her new book..

Stops on the Tour:

28th November -  I Read Novels - Q and A 
29th November - The Disorganised Author - Author Interview
30th November - Rachel Bustin - Giveaway
1st December  -  23 Review Street - Extract
2nd December - With Love For Books - Q and A
5th December - A Sky Filled With Sparkling Stars - Extract




Wednesday, 23 November 2016

King Edward VII's Coronation

Flora Maguire returns to Cheltenham in the second book in the series. It is summer of 1902 and the country is celebrating the coronation of a new king.

When Queen Victoria died on January 22, 1901, after nearly 64 years as Queen, her son, Albert Edward assumed the throne as Edward VII at the age of 59.  His was the longest service as Prince of Wales in history, only surpassed by Prince Charles on April 22, 2011.

Victoria and her son had a difficult relationship, with different approaches to both duty and life. 'Bertie' as he was known was the first royal heir to attend university, studying Chemical Engineering at Cambridge.

Prince Albert died of typhoid handling one of Edward’s first scandals, and Victoria blamed Bertie for his death and said of Edward : “I never can or shall look at him without a shudder.”

Bertie fulfilled most of the widowed queen’s ceremonial duties, although he was forbidden from seeing State Papers. His coronation was planned for June 26, 1902, a year after his ascension. It had been so long since the last coornoation, the courtiers had to refer to old records as they had no idea how a coronation should proceed.  The ceremony was to be held at Westmineter Abbey with a banquet which would include 2500 quails, and hundreds of chickens, partridges, and sturgeons.

Viewing stands were erected by local businesses along the route and had purchased refreshments to sell to the crowd- St. George’s hospital had spent £2000 on building stands (about £200,000 in today’s currency), and another £500 on refreshments.  By mid-June, London’s hotels were full as the crowned heads of Europe arrived, most of them related to ‘Bertie’

On Saturday June 14, the king woke with lower abdominal pain.  His physician, Sir Francis Laking, was summoned, and by noon the King was feeling better and set out on a planned weekend excursion with Queen Alexandra to the Royal Pavilion at Aldershot, about sixty miles southwest of London. That evening the King and Queen attended a military tattoo, after which the king’s abdominal pain returned along with a fever.

Sir Francis Laking arrived at Aldershot early that morning, by which time the king had developed rigors and increasing pain. Laking consulted with Thomas Barlow, another physician and Mr. Alfred Fripp, a surgeon at Guy’s Hospital, and the King’s personal surgeon since 1897. Lord Victor Crichton was also summoned by Laking and boarded the royal train at Waterloo for Aldershot, but was intercepted by a telegram recalling the summons as the King was feeling better. The King was annoyed a surgeon had been sent for, concerned about the rumours which would begin  so close to the coronation date.

On Monday, June 16, the King, after consultation with Drs. Laking and Barlow travelled to the Royal Palace at Windsor by carriage. He was heavily medicated, leaving the Queen to review the troops in his stead. He rallied at Windsor, but continued to have intermittent fevers.  On Tuesday, June 17, Sir Francis Laking again advised consulting with a surgeon,but the king wouldn't hear of it. Laking stayed to persuade him and finally, he agreed   Edward “confessed that the company of his physician had its limits,” and agreed to see Mr Frederick Treves, Surgeon-Sergeant to the King, and a surgeon at London Hospital.

Mr. Treves examined the King for the first time on Wednesday, June 18, and advised rest, after which the King improved.  By Saturday, June 21, the King’s fever had gone and the swelling in his abdomen was nearly resolved.  By this time rumours of the King’s illness began to circulate, but when the Press Council asked for confirmation Sir Francis Knollys sent out a response which  said, “Windsor Castle, - Not a word of truth in reports. – Knollys.”

By Monday, June 23, the King returned to Buckingham Palace and that evening attended another grand pre-coronation State dinner. An eight-course meal including quails, saddle of lamb, ortolans, consume, gateau, ices, and anchovy canap├ęs and different wines served with each course.

By the early morning on Tuesday, June 24th, the King’s fever had returned, along with the pain and abdominal mass.  Urgent consultations were obtained with Drs. Laking, Barlow, and Mr. Treves, but also with the two most eminent surgeons in the realm, Lord Lister and Sir Thomas Smith, all of whom were in agreement that the King required emergency surgery for appendicitis.

The King refused; and was reputed to have said, "I shall go to the Abbey,” with Dr Treves responding, “then you shall go as a corpse.”  The King finally agreed and Frederick Hewitt was summoned to Buckingham Palace, where an operating theatre was created, in the billiard room. Some accounts say the king knighted his doctors before his surgery, though others that this happened afterwards.

The King had had a 48inch waistline, was a heavy smoker with bronchitis, and suffered obstructive apnoea with the anaesthetic and turned purple with hypoxia. Sir Frederick took hold of the King’s beard and pulled his chin forward, opening the airway enabling him to breathe again:

Sir Frederick Treves removed a large abscess and the King emerged from the operating room at 2:00pm. The next day he was “sitting up in bed smoking a cigar.” Within two weeks it was clear he would make a full recovery.

The crowds that had descended upon London for the Coronation dispersed, and the crowned heads of Europe returned home. The enormous amount of food obtained for the celebrations was quietly packed off to the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the charities in London’s East End all reported enormous largesse to distribute amongst the poor, who “had never eaten so well.”

The Coronation was rescheduled for August 9th, although the majority of the King’s extended family did not return for the new date. The ceremony was simplified to accommodate the recovering king, who was well enough to physically support the 80-year-old and ailing Archbishop of Canterbury. He even assisted the frail cleric to his feet at one point.  After the ceremony, the King was asked whether he was tired, and he replied, “Wonderfully, I am not.”


Painting of the Coronation by Edwin Austin Abbey
Most English towns held their own celebrations, from bonfires, to tree planting, concerts showing of Georges Melies’ film etc. Cheltenham held a tree planting ceremony plus concerts and a showing of Melies film. In the Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water, villagers set up goalposts in the section of the River Windrush that runs through the centre of the village for a riotous game of football.  The tradition of ‘football in the river’ has been played every August Bank Holiday since, with two teams of six play in knee-deep water for fifteen minutes each way and ends with a fair on the green.

Football In The River
King Edward's reign lasted only nine years, but he was charming, a bon viveur, fastidious about his dress, and a notorious royal womaniser with a reputed 50 extra-marital affairs to his name. He was also involved in two divorces but was adored by his wife, Queen Alexandra and was an affectionate father, possibly due to his mother’s disinterest in him as a boy.

Film of Coronation Procession

The coronation inside the Abbey was not filmed, but the director Georges Melies made a film using actors which was shown in cinemas round the country.

George Melies' Film 

Sources:
http://www.information-britain.co.uk/famdates.php?id=709http://www.information-britain.co.uk/famdates.php?id=709
http://www.appendicitis.pro/the-reginald-fitz-memorial/the-appendicitis-of-king.html


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Pinkertons Detectives

In my novel Murder on the Minneapolis, my female sleuth becomes friends with an enigmatic German gentleman with an interest in the man who died on board. He turns out to be a Pinkertons Detective, which led me to research the agency's interesting founder.

The  inception of the agency cannot exclude the remarkable life of, Glaswegian, Allan Pinkerton, who eloped with a singer, Joan Carfrae when he was 23, and sailed for Quebec with her the day after their wedding.

The ship ran into a storm off the coast of Halifax, blown off course and was shipwrecked in Nova Scotia. The Pinkertons were both injured, and lost everything they had in the submerged hold, leaving only what they were wearing and the silver Allan had in his pocket. When they stumbled onto the beachhead, the couple were surrounded by Indians who demanded their trinkets, including Joan’s silver wedding ring.

Changing his mind about Canada, Allan and Joan settled in Detroit, Michigan. He bought a wagon, a horse, cooking utensils and dried meats before heading west to Chicago. There, Pinkerton sold the horse and wagon for lodging in a hotel near the lakefront and the stockade of Fort Dearborn. Chicago in the 1850’s was a town of rutted streets and cobbled together timber storefronts. Lill's Brewery downtown was hiring barrel makers, so Allan built a cabin on the banks of the Fox River near Dundee and opened a cooperage shop

An honest man, Allan treated his employees well and undercut the Chicago firms and within a year, he had ten craftsmen working for him. As early as 1844, he was an ardent abolitionist, his shop functioning as a "station" for escaped slaves traveling the Underground Railroad to freedom in the North. Their son, William, was born in 1846. Twins Robert and Joan followed soon afterwards.

Allan helped the Cook County Sheriff to apprehend a gang of counterfeiters, which led to his appointment as deputy sheriff of Kane County, Illinois, and, later, as Chicago's first full-time detective. By later 1848, he accrued the highest number of arrests for burglaries and murders than any of the experienced police on Chicago's squad roll.

In the 1850’s, Pinkerton left his job with the Chicago police force, partnered with attorney Edward Rucker and formed the North-Western Police Agency specializing in the capture of train robbers, counterfeiters and provided private security services for a variety of industries.

As rail transportation increased, Pinkerton's agency solved a series of train robberies during bringing Pinkerton into contact with George McClellan and Abraham Lincoln.

Their building bore a sign with a logo of an eye and the words, 'We Never Sleep', which was the origins of the term, 'Private Eye'.

Their Detective Agency in Washington Street, Chicago bore a The Rules:

•    Accept no bribes
•    Never compromise with criminals
•    Partner with local law enforcement agencies
•    Refuse divorce cases or cases that initiate scandals
•    Turn down reward money (Agents were well paid)
•    Never raise fees without the client’s pre-knowledge
•    Keep clients apprised on an on-going basis

Kate Warne

Born in New York, Kate Warne was a slender, brown haired widow who walked into the agency offices in 1856 in answer to an advertisement for detectives in a Chicago newspaper. Pinkerton said: ‘Kate argued her point of view, saying women could be useful in worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective.’
Kate Warn [holding post] and Allan Pinkerton [Seated right]

In 1858, Kate gained the confidence of the wife of a Mr Maroney, who stole $50,000 from the Adams Express Company, and with Warne’s help, $39,515 was returned. Mr. Maroney was sentenced to ten years in Montgomery, Alabama.

In April 1861, the Confederate States of America's cannons in Charleston began firing on Fort Sumter. Pinkerton was asked by Major General George B. McClellan to set up a military intelligence service. Pinkerton became head of the Union Intelligence Service, the forerunner of the U.S. Secret Service. He took Warne, Timothy Webster, and later George Bangs west to set up a headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, to follow McClellan's Ohio division.

Kate Warne was one of five agents sent to Baltimore, to investigate secessionist activity prior to the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. During the investigation, they unveiled the plot to assassinate Lincoln on his way to take office. Posing a rich southern lady visiting Baltimore, Kate infiltrated social gatherings, like the Barnum Hotel where she discovered details of the plot. Lincoln gained four more years before John Wilkes Booth shot him at the Ford Theatre.

After the War, Pinkerton was hired by the railroad companies to track down Jesse James, but failed to capture him. The railroad withdrew their financial support, so Pinkerton continued the search at own expense. James allegedly captured and killed one of Pinkerton's young undercover agents, at which Pinkerton gave up the chase which some consider his greatest failure.

Allan Pinkerton and Abraham Lincoln
 Kate worked on high profile cases, unusual in that women were barred from the police force until 1891 and could not be detectives until 1903. She became supervisor of Pinkerton's Female Detective Bureau, but her expenses became a sore spot between Pinkerton and his brother, Robert, who believed she was simply accompanying him as his mistress. Pinkerton would never confirm the suspicions about his relationship with Kate. He adored her and she continued to work to his standards and deliver important information through her many clever guises.

Kate caught pneumonia on New Year's Day, 1868, and died shortly afterwards with Pinkerton at her bedside. Pinkerton neither confirmed nor denied Kate was his mistress, but she was buried according to his wishes in Pinkerton's family plot in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery, and he wrote in his will that that Kate's plot was never to be sold.

In 1876, Robert Pinkerton conspired with two lead agents not to hire female detectives. Allan sent his son a blazing telegram:

"It has been my principle to use females for the detection of crime where it has been useful and necessary. With regard to the employment of such females, I can trace it back to the time I first hired Kate Warne, up to the present time. And I intend to still use females whenever it can be done judiciously. I must do it or falsify my theory, practice and truth."

Allan Pinkerton died in Chicago on July 1, 1884, and was buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago. Soon afterwards, his sons rid their agency of female operatives.

The achievements of Pinkertons Detective Agency are too extensive to mention in this blog, but their main cases can be read about below:

Today, Pinkertons agency employs approximately 28,000 women.

Source

Pinkertons 
American Experience

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Flora Maguire Book 2


King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra are on the throne and Flora is now married to Bunny Harrington, and living in Richmond, Surrey with him and her mother-in-law, Beatrice. After a minor fire in their basement, Flora receives a telegram saying her father has died suddenly in a riding accident.

Heartbroken, she and Bunny return to Cleeve Abbey, with the intention of burying Riordan Maguire with her mother, who died when she was a child. When she discovers no one knows where Lily Maguire was buried, and with her father now gone, Flora sets out to discover if any of the longer serving estate staff can shed some light on what happened to her.

Although disapproved of by Lady Vaughn, the new tram system in Cheltenham gives Flora a certain independence, enabling her to go out and about asking questions about a mysterious poisoning incident her father appeared interested in before his death, as well as the mystery of a local girl who went missing after a summer fair.

Family secrets start emerging which combine to convince Flora there is also something untoward about her father's accident.   She finally learns something about her mother, but despite Bunny’s warnings, walks into a situation from which she has to be rescued and further revelations contrive to  alter Flora's perception of herself.

Published by Aria Fiction on 1st December 2016
[available for pre-order]

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Woes of Book Promotion

The edits of Murder at Cleeve Abbey are done, the cover art is lovely and the release date is three weeks away. It's about this point that I realise I'm still not working hard enough, because as every author will tell you, books don't sell themselves - they need help and lots of promotion.

But promotion is like advertising, some works, some doesn't - and no one knows which part!

To a talented minority, promoting themselves and their work comes naturally; to the easily embarrassed like me - it really doesn’t. It's awkward to keep pushing your book in front of people, becoming a walking advertisement that makes people duck into doorways when they see you coming. It's not - well English.

Social media is, of course, the cheapest and one of the most direct ways to tell the world you have a book out there, but if like me you are reluctant to bombard all your friends, even internet ones, with hundreds of pre-publication FB posts and Tweets encouraging them to buy your book, this can be embarrassing - I have e-mailed a list of my closest friends this week apologising for the over exposure of my book ad! Counterproductive? Possibly but I don't want them to block me because I'm nagging them.  I tend to think that I've told them once -they know - if they want to read the book they will buy it - no need for obsession.

But that ain't how it works apparently....

On the expert advice of my agent and publisher, [well more like prompting, reminding, insisting, all the 'ing' words] - and I admit they know more about these things than I do, I have succumbed and organised a programme of regular Tweets and posts to generate interest in my Flora Maguire Cosy Mystery Series, cue sales pitch - the second of which is being released on December 1st with books three, four and five following over the coming year.

I've also joined my local branch of Alli, who have been wonderful to a cowardly author like me without the confidence to go it alone and been put on their list of guest authors at the next literary festival, which is very popular in my part of the world. I have also persuaded other authors to read and review the book, because the average reader does not review books, and authors are the best critics - if it's rubbish they will let you know!

I hold my hands up and say I was sceptical about the effects of social media when there are so many authors clamouring for an audience - and there are thousands - but even I have to admit that after only a week, my personal 'virtual' audience has grown considerably with the tweets and posts circulating through a far wider sphere than I could have imagined.

So the Tweets will continue.....

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Dr Grace Harwood Stewart Billings - Edwardian Lady Doctor

Dr Grace Billings, who makes a cameo appearance in the second Flora Maguire Mystery, Murder at Cleeve Abbey, was the first female doctor in Gloucestershire, opening her first surgery in Cheltenham in 1899.

Grace spent her early years in Bristol, but at fifteen, her family moved to Cheltenham, where her father, a chemist, ran the Co-operative Drug Stores in the High Street. Grace had nine siblings, four sisters and five brothers. 

Grace attended a new, progressive Public Day School for Girls at 3 Bays Hill Villas which opened in 1885 to provide “at a moderate cost, the best education procurable for the daughters of the Middle Classes” whose parents’ social status would “preclude their admission into the [Cheltenham] Ladies’ College.” 

Grace trained at the London School of Medicine for Women and the College of Medicine of Durham University in Newcastle-on-Tyne. She graduated with an MB and BSurg in 1898 and set up her practice in Cheltenham the following year. Her sister, Mary, was also a doctor who received her medical degree from London.

At this time there was considerable hostility to women studying medicine. The Saturday Review wrote in 1870 that “lady aspirants to medicine and surgery desire to rid themselves speedily and effectually of that modesty which nature planted in them”. Grace was only permitted to treat women and children at her surgery, which only changed during WW1.

Grace’s Marriage Announcement
“Great local interest was taken in the marriage, at Charlton Kings, on Saturday, of Mr. Frederick Billings, a builder, and Miss Grace Harwood Stewart, who possesses the double degree of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. One of her sisters, who were her bridesmaids, is also a lady doctor, and many other lady members of the medical profession were among the guests.”
(Gloucester Citizen, 31 July 1899)

In 1900, Grace and Frederick had a son, Frederick Stewart, and a daughter, Brenda ten years later.During WWI, Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) hospitals were set up in Cheltenham to receive sick and wounded soldiers from the battlefields. The medical officers were almost exclusively men, but Dr Billings became medical officer at St Martin’s Hospital set up in a Cheltenham Ladies’ College boarding house.

Dr Billings continued her practice in Cheltenham, retiring in 1936, widowed in 1937, but came out of retirement to work with St John Ambulance during WW2. Her daughter Brenda also became a GP in Cheltenham and then School Medical Officer for Gloucestershire County Council. Her son, Frederick Stewart, who enlisted in the navy at 14 in WWI, became a Rear Admiral and was awarded the CBE in 1953.

In 1949 Dr Billings moved to a house overlooking Pittville Park, a few hundred yards from her first practice fifty years earlier. She died in 1957.

“When she first came to the town there were already forty doctors there; she was the forty-first, and the first woman. She has related how she called on them all, as was the excellent custom of those days, and how she was received quite kindly, but, in some cases, obviously not seriously.” 
“For some time she was the only woman present at B.M.A. meetings. It needed some courage to go to the dinners after the meetings, when women were in the extreme minority, but this never seemed to worry Dr Grace. It was amusing to watch her light her after-dinner cigar in complete unconcern at the surprised glances of newly arrived doctors to the area.” 

Obituary, BMJ 13th July 1957