British Blooms and Books Giveaway

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Hello, Gentle Reader, and welcome to the first annual British Blooms and Books giveaway! This week, we’d like to celebrate the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show with you. After enjoying this post, please visit each of the other five authors’ websites (links provided below) and, after a bit of reading fun, follow one simple instruction given in each post, and then leave a comment on each to be entered to win a fabulous, British Blooms and Books prize. (US entries only, please, due to shipping the petit fours.) Thank you for stopping by!

Visiting English Gardens

Hi Friend, Carrie here….

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The Garden at Highclere Castle ~ Downton Abbey

I’ve been blessed to take two research trips to England in recent years, and visiting gardens there has been one of the highlights of those trips for me! In September 2012 my husband and I visited Highclere Castle and spent time in the gardens before we toured the house. We walked through the walled flower garden, the all white garden, and the secret garden. What a fun experience to see where Downton Abbey was filmed and imagine the characters there with me.  In The Governess of Highland Hall several scenes take place in the gardens and greenhouse, so I had those memories of Highclere to help me visualize my characters as I wrote those scenes.

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Tyntesfied with Cathy Gholke and Carrie Turansky

Cathy Gohlke and Carrie Turansky visit Tyntesfield ~ Highland Hall.

In 2014 I returned to England with my author friend Cathy Gohlke and we visited Scotland, The Lake District, and Tyntesfield, the estate I had in mind as I wrote the Highland Hall novels. Touring the house and gardens there was very inspiring! In The Daughter of Highland Hall the heroine, Kate Ramsey, and her aunt visit the Royal Horticultural Society Exhibition in London, which was held on the grounds of the Chelsea Hospital. It was so successful that the Chelsea Flower Show has been held there since 1913. I enjoyed reading about the history of the flower show and adding some of that information to The Daughter of Highland Hall, including the Royal Family’s appearance at the event.

Highland Hall Series

The third book in the series, A Refuge at Highland Hall, takes place during World War One. Penny Ramsey brings orphans to Highland to escape the bombing in London. Taking the children outdoors to spend time in the gardens and parkland was one of the ways Penny kept the children busy. Those memories of my visits to Highclere and Tyntesfield helped me bring those garden scenes to life in my books.

Carrie and Cathy in the Inverarary Castle gardens in Scotland.

Carrie and Cathy at Inverarary Castle, Scotland

I hope you enjoyed this virtual garden tour! To enter the grand prize drawing: Please sign up for my newsletter (the sign up box at the top on the right of this page) and comment below. If you are already a subscriber just mention that in your comment.

One grand prize winner who comments on each of the six authors’ websites and agrees to the boldfaced condition posted at the end of each post will win a signed copy of the six books plus delivery of six English hat petit fours to enjoy while you read! Winner’s name will be drawn via random.org after May 28th.

Tea Hat Petit Fours.

Tea Hat Petit Fours. (Photo from Divine Delights)

Finished? Well done! Please visit these five other fabulous authors of English historical novels to see what flowers mean to them and their heroines.

Sandra Byrd’s Page: http://www.sandrabyrd.com/british-blooms-and-books-giveaway/

Melanie Dickerson’s Page: http://melaniewrites.blogspot.com/2016/05/british-blooms-and-books-6-book-giveaway.html

Kristi Ann Hunter’s Page: http://www.kristiannhunter.com/#!british-blooms-and-books/dtpk9

Julie Klassen’s Page: http://inspiredbylifeandfiction.com/british-blooms-and-books-giveaway/

Roseanna White’s Page: http://roseannamwhite.blogspot.com/2016/05/british-blooms-and-books-contest.html

Google Searches, Little Green Men, and More…

17288762Hi Friends,

It’s surprising what you find doing a Google search!  Today I was looking for a painting I’d seen at Tyntesfield, the estate I have in mind as I write my Highland Hall books, and I found a blog post written by the photographer whose photo was used on the cover of The Governess of Highland Hall. When the book came out he recieved a copy from my publisher and wrote about it on his blog – Little Green Men Photography.

This quote stung a bit:  “Reading the blurb on the back, it’s clear that the story is some kind of Edwardian bodice-ripper, unashamedly cashing in on the current popularity ofDownton Abbey.”

Hmmmm, an Edwardian bodice-ripper? I think he must not have read the story. I wondered if I should respond and leave a comment on his blog to set the story straight or let it go. After a thinking a about it a few minutes, here is the comment I posted:

Hello, I’m the author of The Governess of Highland Hall, and the one who pointed the art director to your lovely photo for possible use on the cover. Your photos were a great help to me as I wrote the story and imagined what my characters would do and see at Highland Hall. I watched a documentary about Tyntesfield and found several more photos online that I saved on a Pinterest board . . . but yours were the first. Thank you for sharing them!

I was very excited to finally visit Tyntesfield last May. What a delight! It is even more beautiful in person than in the photos. The National Trust staff was very kind and gave me a private tour of several of the rooms that were closed to most visitors. It was a wonderful day that I will never forget. I took a lot of photos myself that day.

Daughter Highland HallI’ve gone on to write two more books in the series. The Daughter of Highland Hall released last October. It is mainly set in London, and now I’m working on A Refuge at Highland Hall, which releases this coming October. This story brings us back to Highland Hall (Tyntesfield) and follows the Ramsey family through WW1. The hero is a very brave and daring British pilot who must learn how to build a new life after he is injured in the war, but not before he takes down a German zeppelin. I enjoyed the research and learning more about WW1 in England and France. I try to give my readers a look back at history as well as romance, family drama, and inspiration.

The Governess of Highland Hall is not a bodice-ripper. My novels are inspriational, clean-reads that can be enjoyed by teens through greatgrandmothers with no embarrassment. I’m very happy about that, and so are my readers. The Governess of Highland Hall has done well in the US and has been translated into Dutch. It’s been a finalist for two national writing awards and has some great reviews on Amazon.

I hope you’re pleased to see your photo used for the cover. I would’ve sent my thanks earlier, but I just found this blog post when I Googled Tyntesfield images. I hope you keep taking and sharing great photos! You never know who you will inspire!

Want to read the books for yourself and see? Just click on over to my book page.

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When we or our work are criticized or belittled, we have a choice how we respond. It felt great to set the record straight, yet do it in a way that I hope was kind and informative. I hope the Little Green Men agree! :  )

***Update, check out Ian Wilson’s reply to my comment. It seems I’ve won a friend who is eager to share more photos with me for future projects.

Happy Reading,

Carrie

 

Discovering the Setting for The Governess of Highland Hall

993354_10151763649586967_1872496112_nEarly in 2012 when I started working on ideas for The Governess of Highland Hall, I wanted to find an English country estate for my setting. I am a visual person, and finding images for my characters and setting brings the story to life for me. I loved visiting Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed, and I wanted to find an estate that gave a similar impression but was unique. After a short search online, I discovered Tyntesfield, and I was delighted when I followed several more links to other images and articles. It was the perfect inspiration for the Ramsey family’s Highland Hall.

The marble fireplace in the great hall at Tyntesfield

The marble fireplace in the great hall at Tyntesfield

Tyntesfield is a beautiful Victorian Gothic Revival house and estate near Wraxall, North Somerset, England. The house is a Grade I listed building and now is owned by the National Trust of England.

The house is named after the Tynte baronets, who had owned estates in the area since about 1500. The location was formerly a 16th-century hunting lodge, which was used as a farmhouse until the early 19th century. In the 1830s a Georgian mansion was built on the site, and it was bought by William Gibbs, an English businessman, who made his fortune by importing guano (bird droppings) from South America that was used to make fertilizer. Gibbs became the wealthest non-noble in England for a time. Gibbs had a beautiful chapel added in the 1870s. The Gibbs family owned the house until the death of Richard Gibbs in 2001.

The great hall and gallery above

The great hall and gallery above

Tyntesfield was acquired by the National Trust in June 2002 after a fundraising campaign to prevent it being sold to private interests and to ensure it would be open to the public. The house was opened to visitors for the first time just 10 weeks after the acquisition, and over 189,000 people visited Tynestesfield in 2012. I hope to visit Tyntesfield in person next spring.

Several of the scenes in The Governess of Highland Hall are set in the great hall, the gallery, and the nursery. So I thought you would like a peek at those areas of the house.

Julia, Andrew, and Millie spend a lot of time in the nursery.

Julia, Andrew, and Millie spend a lot of time in the nursery.

What do you think it would be like to live in a house like this?

Would you like a sneak peek at the first chapter?

Still eager for more? Here is my Pinterest board with lots more photos.

Carrie