Series on Hold

Hi, everyone!  The Leighton Family Saga has been put on hold for a while. I’ve had a difficult time marketing the first book and a pittance of sales, but let’s face it — most readers don’t like to read about poverty or bricklayers. Any historical fiction/romance with a duke is much more appealing. Nevertheless, I will continue it as time allows.

In the meantime, the book did receive a favorable four-star review with Readers’ Favorite.

Author Vicki Hopkins tells an amazing story about two siblings at odds with one another. It’s very relatable and an enjoyable read. Toil Under the Sun gives the reader the feeling of being from the lower classes, trying to survive and thrive in such a way that you can easily step into William’s shoes. I always like learning about pieces of history that I hadn’t before and Hopkins’s book has urged me to research further into Manchester, their bricklayers and how the unions really operated back then. I will definitely be looking out for the other Leighton family saga books! A must-read for fans of dramatic and historical fiction dealing with social issues and family relationships.

I’m glad I was able to inspire one person to do a little research about bricklayer unions in Manchester during the 19th century.  I have also entered the book in this year’s Readers’ Favorite contest under Fiction – Historical – Event/Era category.  Results are announced September 1.

reggia di casertaIn the meantime, I have a new release coming out September 16, 2019, and up for pre-order at all retailers on August 1st.  It’s the fourth book in my “Ladies of Disgrace” titles – Lady Jane.  Put it on your to-read list!

After it’s out, I’ll return my focus to book two, “Slave to None,” and continue this series for my ancestors.

All my best,

Vicki

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Book One Released

This is one of my favorite quotes from Winston Churchill about writing a book:

 

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.” – Winston Churchill

Well, I’ve flung that baby to the public.  November 1, Toil Under the Sun hit the marketplace in eBook.  It’s also available in print.  You can purchase copies at these links.  Below is the synopsis:

Described as hell on earth, Manchester in 1866 was the hub of industrialization in England. Its chimneys rose high above the landscape, spewing out smoke from the factories. While men, women, and children spun cotton in the mills, bricklayers built the workhouses, warehouses, and terraced residences of the city. They were skilled in their craft but also experts in enforcing the rules of their union demands, hoping to escape the bondage of serfdom to gain a better life.

Born into obscurity and a descendant of men who slung mortar from their trowels as a trade, William Leighton, swore that one day he would rise above his poverty-ridden class. The means in which he chose to climb out the slums differed from his brother, who believed that violence was the only way to bring about change and close the gap between laborers and masters.

The clash of siblings in Toil Under the Sun creates the foundation of family and is the first book in a saga that spans three generations.

Research for Book One

I’ve been searching my family history for well over twenty years, amassing information and books from the early 1800’s to 1930’s.  Book One, Toil Under the Sun, is really a compilation of much of my research.  What you are going to read upon release November 1, are historical accounts gleaned from this group of material.

This particular book was a good resource regarding the building of the town hall. The planning started in 1863 but the Town Hall wasn’t completed and opened until September of 1877.  The construction was plagued by multiple worker strikes.  To read more about it, you can visit Wikipedia. 

On one of my trips to Manchester, I did visit the impressive building and interior.

What shocked me the most regarding this discovery was that my third great-grandfather, wife, and child lived two blocks from the area that was known as Angel Meadow.  I’m sure being two blocks from these notorious slums still placed the family in the middle of the worse areas of Manchester during the mid-1860s.  This book is an eye-opening experience for the author who also discovered his ancestors lived at this location.

My introduction to this court proceeding was discovered from searching articles about unions on the British Newspaper Archives.  By the way, if you’re into ancestry research in England, this is a great source. I found numerous articles regarding my second great uncle, as well as the testimony when these proceedings took place.

It is a fascinating read into the incidents of that time. You might think twice about mild-manner bricklayers. These men were often violent in their pursuits to protect their trade and became known as terrorists and despots of their class. Of course, that is how history has recorded them, but they were working folks protecting a trade that kept roofs over their heads and food on the table. Most of their actions are driven by desperation to survive. It’s an interesting read from 1867.

These two references were of great help. Broughton and Cheetham Hill especially helped me to set the scene for the location.

Radical Salford focuses much on the political landscape and the growing socialist movements of the time, which will be weaved into Book Two.

Let it not be said that I didn’t read about the craft, although I’ve never laid a brick myself. I did, however, take home a piece of brick from my second great uncle’s twelve bedroom home still standing in Higher Broughton as a memento from one of my trips. Thank goodness it made it back to the USA.

To add to the fun of research, you need historical maps. There are plenty to find online which helps immensely in visualizing the area while writing. The University of Manchester has a wonderful collection online at Maps Collection. Manchester Libraries, Information, and Archives, Manchester City Council are the rights holder but they do allow you to share, embed, print, and download the maps.

One of the most disparaging reviews an author receives is when readers don’t find your books believable. I’ve done my best to do my homework in historical romances and family sagas. Some of what you may read will sound outrageous and shocking, but in reality, such times existed. I’m sure the majority of ladies would rather focus on the titled aristocrats and cushy way of life with 10,000 pounds a year or more income. However, that lifestyle only accounted for a very small majority of the English population. However, it doesn’t, in my opinion, make the lives of the working class any less interesting in their pursuits.

All my best,

Vicki