We have a winner and a quick trip to merry olde England

 

The Last Heiress

Today I wanted to share photos of the best part of being an author….research. I was fortunate enough to travel to England several years ago for background for my latest book, The Last Heiress.  The story which starts in Manchester and continues in Wilmington, NC features a pair of identical twins. During the American Civil the English textile industry nearly ground to a halt due to the blockade of southern ports. No export of cotton….no raw materials to for the mills. My British twin, Amanda Dunn, is heir to the largest textile mill in Manchester, England. After the blockade of southern ports threatens to destroy the family business, Amanda’s father sends her to Wilmington to restore trade. Her estranged twin sister, Abigail, eloped at 17 with an American cotton broker, lives in Wilmington. Blockade runners, such as those owned by Abigail’s husband, would leave the southern coast of the United States bound for the ports of Liverpool or Swansea, and then the mills of Manchester.GE

Amanda plans a long overdue reunion with her twin, conduct business for her dad, and hurry back to England. Fate has other plans for our heiress. Amanda butts heads at every turn with her brother-in-law, a slave-owner, in a town not used to dealing with businesswomen. When she falls in love with a local shopkeeper, a man who refuses to fight for the Confederacy, class distinctions, political loyalties, and family obligations guarantee a turbulent romance.

In Portsmouth harbour

In Portsmouth harbour

My trip to England allowed me to reconnect with an old friend, Caroylne Way,

Rowing on Lake Windemere in the Lake District

Rowing on Lake Windemere in the Lake District

who lives in Gosport (near Portsmouth in southern Hampshire.) Carolyne’s great grandfather owned a mine which supplied coal for the garment mills during the nineteenth century. I was able to use real events which took place at his mine in my story. Of course as you can see from my pictures,  I had plenty of time to see merry ole England too.

Research also took me not less than a half-dozen times to the beautiful city of Wilmington, NC on the Cape Fear River. Lucky for me, the riverfront area, some of downtown, along with Fort Fisher on the peninsula looks like it did 150 years ago.

Wilmington waterfront

Wilmington waterfront

Fort Fisher was the final definitive battle of the Civil War, fought on both land and sea.

Ahhh, research. For some authors, the topic draws beads of sweat to the brow. But if a writer is able to pack a bag, book a flight and travel, then history…and the story can truly come alive.

Hope you enjoy these pics from England

and Scotland.  And I hope you’ll look for The Last Heiress, a book from Harvest House Publishers which was a pleasure to write!! Have a great week, readers….Mary

London Eye, on the Thames River

London Eye, on the Thames River

restored English village

restored English village

2008-05-18 12.35.18

On the Solent near their house

 

 

Old Towne York

Old Towne York

 

Stonehenge, about an hour away

Stonehenge, about an hour away

Big Ben, London

Big Ben, London

You can go back again…with plenty of caffeine

Happy Thursday readers, a frequent question writers are asked when they’re first published: Is this the first book you ever wrote? Often on television talk shows we hear about so-and-so’s first book hitting one of the coveted bestseller lists. Although there are exceptions to the rule (J.K. Rowling comes to mind….) in most cases, the book in question is the first published work. The writer might have penned any number of novels before creating a story that resonated with an editor or agent, and then finally with readers. For me personally, I was first published in romantic suspense set in the South. Then I happily changed genres to Amish romances since I’d been fascinated with their simple lives for years. After twelve novels set in the Amish world I was ready for another change, but didn’t wish to venture too far from romance. Everyone falls in love, right? Including people in bygone eras whose lives were simpler than how we live now.

So I decided to dig out two historical romances I’d written first, a dozen years ago. “Should you do that?” asked my practical husband. “Can you go back to something you wrote before you learned all the ‘rules’ and developed your voice?” He was giving me the same look like the time I announced, “I think we should retire in Costa Rica where the cost of living is less.” I assured him that I could do this. After all, I loved those stories when I created them, even though my agent said no one was interested in Civil War fiction at the time. The Quaker and the Rebel, first in the Civil War Heroines series, was my first baby. I dusted her off and breathed in new life with better plotting, sentence structure, and inner conflicts, and reduced redundancies and unnecessary verbiage. Bottom line? The rewrite took twice as long then if I burned the manuscript and started from scratch, and required more high-test coffee than I drank in four years of college.Quaker and the Rebel, The

I know what you’re thinking: Hubby was right. But I ended up preserving every sweet nuance and historical detail that had originally intrigued me, in an easy-to-read structure and format. The best of both worlds! Would I do it again if I discovered two more novels waiting to be revived in my sock drawer? Only if I’m sitting on the beach in Costa Rica, sipping a cool drink, with plenty of time on my hands.

The second book in the series, The Lady and the Officer, releases this summer from Harvest House Publishers.Lady and the Officer, The

Happy reading….Mary