Mrs Beeton’s Favourite Herbs

Can you name Mrs Beeton’s favourite herbs, still in use today? Click here to find out.



My Writing Process: how and why I write Victorian mystery romances

Hello and welcome. I’m Frances Evesham. I’m going to let you into some of my writing secrets and share an early peep at the official publisher’s description of my new novel. Only the friends on my email list have seen it so far. Scroll down to the bottom of the page if you can’t wait!

Frances cropped

My author friend Pat McDonald, kindly invited me to take part in this Writing Process blog hop. You can read her post on her Facebook page.

What am I working on?
Life is extra exciting at the Evesham’s just now, as we’re busy getting ready for the launch of my first novel,  An Independent Woman, a historical mystery romance, on 11 June 2014.

At Thatcham Hall, an English Great House, the fiery, determined Philomena leaps straight out of the frying pan into the fire. She’s escaped the perils of 19th century London only to tumble into a whole new set of predicaments that force her to face an impossible dilemma.

Her story was enormous fun to write, and Thatcham Hall made such an impression on me that I couldn’t wait to go back there with the next story.

The sequel to An Independent Woman, half-written,  is set just a few years later. It promises plenty of danger, excitement and romance.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I love a strong plot and plenty of action. I’m proud of feisty Philomena, who’s brave enough to take her destiny in her own hands in the 19th Century, when women came a distinct second to men.

Debbie Tailor has designed a deliciously atmospheric, Gothic cover for An Independent Woman. It made me wonder what other secrets and gossip the walls of Thatcham Hall have heard.

An Independent Woman
An Independent Woman

Why do I write what I do?
One day, when I was very small, I visited the Post Office in a tiny Cotswold village where my mother grew up. There, I met Great Aunt Annie, a maiden Victorian lady, almost a hundred years old. Tiny and neat, with cotton-wool hair styled in a careful bun at the back of her neck, Aunt Annie bustled about, making cups of tea and cutting slices of fruitcake.

Aunt Annie lived quite alone, content, full of lively interest in the world and its news.  She would have adored the internet.

Philomena, the Independent Woman of my novel, is a Victorian woman: self-sufficient, spirited and capable. The Victorians invented and built things. They engineered steam trains, bridges and factory machinery. Their photographs suggest they were solemn and unsmiling, but that was because they had to keep still for 30 seconds for every shot.

I believe the Victorians were like us inside, nursing their own hopes and dreams of adventure, love and happiness. I’m having fun writing their stories.

How does my writing process work?
Some say writing is a form of self-hypnosis, where your subconscious takes over from the careful, sensible, everyday part of your brain. I love the feeling of travelling into another world in my head as the story unfolds.

Before I begin, I get to know my characters well. Who are they? What happened to them that made them who they are? What do they want and how can they achieve it?

A rough plan for the story takes shape and then the fun starts. At once, my characters grab hold of the tale and startle me with their actions and reactions. They invade my dreams so I wake in the night with a scene in my head that insists I record it then and there. I make a quick note on my phone: sometimes I can read it in the morning, sometimes it turns out to be nothing more than gobbledegook.

I write at a tiny desk in the smallest, cosiest bedroom in the house, now that our children have all left home. My shelves are full of family photos, presents from the children, folders of family history and, of course, far too many books.

I scribble unreadable notes on scraps of paper and pin them to a corkboard above my head. I like to research in the evening and write during the day, leaving time to cook spicy things for dinner and watch nonsense on television.

When I have a plot problem, I walk in the Somerset countryside or visit Burnham on Sea’s nine-legged lighthouse on the beach, and I read, read, read whenever I have the chance.

Please keep in touch
An Independent Woman will be available through Amazon and The Wild Rose Press, my publishers, on 11 June 2014.

Enter your email address here to join the group of friends who’ll be first with news of my books, including the launch date for the print version of An Independent Woman and a first look at an excerpt.

via Wikimedia Commons
via Wikimedia Commons

Next week, I’m handing the  parchment and quill pen to three author friends: Heather McCollum, R.E. Mullins and Larry Lee Farmer.

Heather McCollum is an award winning, historical paranormal romance writer, a member of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood of 2009 Golden Heart finalists & a surviving warrior of ovarian cancer. She resides with her very own Highland hero & 3 spirited kids on the mid-Atlantic coast.

Heather’s post will be on her blog  Heather McCollum.

R. E. Mullins was born and raised in Joplin, Missouri. She has also lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mt. Clemens, Michigan, Springfield, Missouri and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Though she has loved each area, the Ozarks hold a special place in her heart.

Find R. E. Mullins’ post on Goodreads or on her Facebook page.

Come back here on 28th April next week, for Larry Lee Farmer’s post on my blog. I’m hosting it for a  while as his site is under construction.

Larry recently published a mini novel, ‘The Kerr Construction Company,’ through the Wild Rose Press that is now on Kindle ebooks through Amazon.

Finally, as promised, here is the Official Publisher’s Blurb for An Independent Woman:

With nothing left from her childhood except a tiny portrait of a beautiful woman, some skill with a needle, and the knowledge of a dreadful secret, Philomena escapes her tormentor, Joseph, and the dank fogs of Victorian London, only for a train crash to interrupt her quest for independence and freedom.

Trapped between the upstairs and downstairs occupants of a great country house, Philomena hears whispers of the mysteries and lies that lurk in empty corridors and behind closed doors. Her rescuer, the dangerous, enigmatic Hugh, Lord Thatcham, wrestles with his own demons and makes Philomena’s heart race, but she must fight her passion for she can never marry.

Haunted by her past, Philomena’s only hope of happiness is to confront the evil forces that threaten to destroy her.

Join my friends for early news of the launch of  An Independent Woman.


Ten Best Human Communication Websites

Sites that offer advice on human communication often specialise. Some aim at communication in the workplace, or leadership. Some deal with personal development or NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). Others offer advice on talking to children. Here’s my selection.

BBC website  
There’s good, solid information here on talking to children in its health section. The information’s brief and accurate: well worth a visit.

Family Education
If you need advice on talking to your child about difficult topics, like drug or alcohol abuse, you’ll find this site offers many solutions. If you just want to know more about talking to kids, especially those teenagers who communicate in grunts, you’ll find that too.

Communication Skills Power Blog
This blog has been around for a while, and as a result there’s a long list of posts full of useful information. Follow this advice and you’ll soon be a communication expert. It’s not too easy to read, though, as the text is very closely written and I do dislike blogs that hit you with a pop-up “send for this” page. Please wait until we’ve read something interesting before assuming we like your products.

The Communication and Conflict Website
This site specialises in conflict resolution and sets out a series of principles of communication, such as “challenge the behaviour and not the person.” If you’re interested in workplace communication, this is well worth a visit.

The Communication Blog
This has interesting information on self-esteem and there’s a fascinating post on cultural communication differences. Another post advises on how to avoid asking impolite questions, like ‘How come you never had children?’

This blog aims at developing leadership, which as we all know, depends heavily on communication skills. I especially like “The Lost art of Brevity” post. The pages focus on business aspects: but then, why not apply big business principles to daily life if they work?

NLP Blogs
This is a 2-for-the-price-of-one selection. If you’re interested in NLP, here’s a post that lists 10 NLP blog sites. It’s written by Andy Smith, whose own site is at There’s a lot of “NLP” speak in all of these: but I’m an NLP Practitioner myself and I suggest you stick with it if you’re interested in better communication. There are real nuggets in all these posts.

997 ways to be a great speaker
I’m sorry to say I haven’t counted, but I found plenty of useful information here, specific to public speaking. Suggestions on how to put humour into your speech, like how to be prepared to deliver “impromptu” stories: for example, keep a bunch of index cards about your person, with story prompts. Maybe I’ll try that one.

People Communication
This blogger understands technology, likes explaining social media and has some good posts on the difference between email, phone and face-to-face communication. There are even some listening practice steps. Bridge the gap between human and techie communication here.

Speech Contacts
This is my own site. Well, I like it. Youi’ll find posts about better communication to help the world go round in the occasional “Build your own Communication Kit” entries. There are writers’ tips and plenty of specifics on children’s speech and language. There’s also a free iHappiness iPhone app for download if you click on the bird.

If your site has information on improving communication, please leave the address in the “comments” and I’ll come and visit you.