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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #81

Dear Reader,

My historical novels are great fun to write, but it’s always lovely to return to Sam, a bit like returning home after a holiday. Here’s Stormy Weather, book eighteen in my Sam Smith Mystery Series, available for pre-order from today.

Pregnant in a pandemic. My life is never dull. While Alan and I set about the pleasant task of selecting a name for our baby, Faye interviewed candidates for the role of maternity leave assistant.

Our plans were going well until a friend was murdered. The evidence pointed to a hitman, a professional killing. A further murder underlined the fact that the stakes were high, that someone had a secret to hide. 

Who was behind the murders? And what was the secret they were desperate to hide?

Stormy Weather, an investigation that threatened my life, and my baby’s, a case that revealed that greedy men are prepared to kill anyone and anything, including our planet.

Stormy Sunday

Amazing to record that over a quarter of a million of my books have now been downloaded. I honestly thought that if that figure reached a hundred it would be remarkable. Many thanks to everyone who has made this possible.

Swansea Market, 1880.

🎼🎼🎼 Oh the Deadwood Stage

is a-rollin’ on over the plains 🎼🎼🎼

Deadwood, South Dakota, USA, 1876

On 19 December 1778, Marie Antoinette gave birth to her daughter, Marie Thérèse, in front of 200 people. Her maid said, ‘The persons who poured into the chamber were so numerous that the rush nearly killed the Queen.’ These persons included two chimney sweeps who climbed on the furniture to get a better view.

Locals use German military equipment as they man the barricades during the liberation of Paris, August 1944.

The 1930s, fashion Canadian style. Cone-shaped face masks to protect your face in a snowstorm.

Now aged 99 and resident in New Zealand, Phyllis Latour is the only surviving female SOE agent from the Second World War. She served in France under the code name ‘Genevieve’. You can read my appreciation of this remarkable woman here

https://hannah-howe.com/eves-war/phyllis-latour/

Ancestry

My 2 x great grandfather, William Howe, was born on 3 March 1855 in South Corneli. His parents were William Howe of St Brides and Mary Hopkin of Corneli. He was baptised on 6 April 1855, Good Friday.

In 1861 William was living with his parents and siblings, Hopkin and Mary Ann. Lodgers, David and Ann John, also lived in the house. The census shows that William was attending school and his main language was Welsh.

Newspaper reports of the time show that William’s father, also William, owned a bank account, which suggests that the family were careful with their money and had a few spare pennies to stash away for a rainy day.

By 1871 William had left school and found work as a servant, farm labouring for Thomas Powell in Newton Nottage. He was one of three farm labourers and two domestic servants working for the Powell’s. One of the domestic servants was Mary Jones. Mary introduced William to her sister Ann, and the couple started courting.

On 13 November 1876 William won five shillings for plowing half an acre of land with a pair of horses within four hours. Five shillings was the equivalent of a day’s wages for a skilled tradesman.

On 5 December 1878 William married Ann. Ann was born in Corneli on 22 April 1854, the youngest child of David Jones of Merthyr Mawr and Ann David of Margam. William was still working as a farm labourer at the time of his marriage. Interesting that when William recorded the family birthdays in the Howe family Bible he did not know the exact date of Ann’s birthday. A typical man?!

William and Ann were married at Hermon Methodist Chapel in Bridgend, a grand chapel for a grand occasion. They signed their names, thus proving that they were literate, and the marriage was witnessed by William’s brother, Hopkin, and Ann’s friend, Mary Phillips.

William and Ann, c1905

By 1881 William had returned to Corneli. Along with his wife Ann, he lived with his father-in-law, David Jones, and their baby daughter, Mary Ann, born in 1879. A niece, Elizabeth Burnell, Mary Jones’ daughter, was also living in the house. Elizabeth Burnell was living with the Howe family because Mary Jones was suffering from a chronic mental illness that stayed with her for the rest of her life. The family were now in North Corneli and William was working as a railway packer. 

Around this time William would walk three miles to Newton – and three miles back – three times a week to receive lessons in English and other subjects. Each lesson cost one penny. 

William became Headman in South Corneli and through his learning he helped the villagers with their reading and writing. Another duty of the village Headman was to lead the band of mourners as they carried a coffin from home to burial ground, many miles sometimes, over fields and mountains. He was living at a time of changing attitudes, and he seized the opportunity to improve himself and give help and support to the less educated in his village, a Howe trait that can be traced back many generations.

By 1891 four more children had appeared in the Howe household: Christiana in 1881, Evan in 1885, Elizabeth in 1887 and William David in 1890. Sadly, William David died on 20 May 1891. The family were now living in South Corneli, two doors down from Ty Draw. The house had three rooms and William was working as a stone quarryman in the limestone quarry. His parents, William and Mary, lived next door.

William’s handwriting, recording the family’s birthdays in the Howe Bible

In February 1895 William had a life threatening accident in the quarry, which was recorded in the South Wales newspapers.

In 1901 William was still working in the quarry and his family were living on Porthcawl Road, South Corneli. Now, they had a four-roomed house. They also had four more children: William, born in 1892, Margaret, born in 1894, Priscilla, born in 1897 and Edith, born in 1899. Along with Elizabeth and Mary Ann, all were living at the house. William was now bilingual; he could speak Welsh and English. And although his mother, Mary, had died in 1897, his father, William, still lived next door.

The workforce at Corneli Quarry, c1920 when William was foreman 

Along with a host of other people William Howe was fined five shillings on 16th February 1906 for not sending his children to school. He was a platelayer on the railways at this time and the fine is interesting because it seems to go against his character of a well-respected member of the community and chapel. Also, William was a firm believer in education so he must have had a good reason for not sending his children to school. Unless any further evidence comes to light, we can only guess at his reasons.

By 1911 William and Ann had been married for 32 years. All the family, except Christiana, were living in a five-roomed house in South Corneli. William was an excellent gardener and grew fruit and vegetables to support his family and augment his wages.

Tragedy struck the family when on 6 November 1913, Priscilla, William and Ann’s daughter, died during an operation. She was sixteen years old. Evidently, Priscilla had a sweet voice because she sang at the Corneli Literary Society concert in December 1909.

William’s wife, Ann Jones, died on 29 February 1916 of Bright’s disease. She was sixty-one. Ann was buried at St Mary Magdalene, Mawdlam, plot A118. The census described Ann as a ‘housewife’, but one suspects that there was much more to her than that. She gave birth to nine children and no doubt supported her husband in the running of their home and allotment. In all probability, she shared William’s Methodist beliefs, although the fact that she was buried at Mawdlam and not at Capel-y-Pil adds an element of mystery.

By the 1920s William had become one of the elders at Capel-y-Pil Methodist Chapel. Therefore he was in the company of some of the leading land owners in the area. His house in South Corneli was called Lilac Cottage and William was now a foreman at the quarry. In his youth, his ambition had been to become a Methodist Minister. However, family finances dictated that only his older brother, Hopkin, could train for the ministry.

Elders of Capel-y-Pil, c1930. William is seated, third from left.

On 14 May 1933 William died at ‘Woodview’, North Corneli. His son, Evan, was at his side. The Howe family continued to live at Lilac Cottage in South Corneli while William was buried with his wife, Ann, at St Mary Magdalene, Mawdlam.

Lilac Cottage, home to my 3 x great grandparents, William and Mary, and my 2 x great grandparents, William and Ann. 

In the twentieth century, William David Howe, his wife Gwendolyne and their children lived in Lilac Cottage, followed by my great grand aunt, Mary Ann and great grand uncle, Evan. Mary Ann lost a leg as a child and Evan was blind in later life. Both were great ‘characters’. 

Painted by Priscilla D Edwards, nee Howe.

A Christmas card from 1876.

Merry Christmas!

Hannah xxx

Categories
Mom’s Favorite Reads

Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine December 2018

Earlier this year, in partnership with authors Ronesa Aveela and Denise McCabe, I created Mom’s Favorite Reads, one of the highlights of my publishing year.

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What is Mom’s Favorite Reads?

*It’s a community of book lovers

* A monthly magazine featuring some of the biggest names in the entertainment world alongside the best in modern publishing

*A book catalogue containing over 400 books, including many bestsellers and award-winners

*A website with dedicated author pages

*A reading group where readers can discover new authors

*A partner to major businessness including The Fussy Librarian and chess.com

* A fun way to promote books with items like our Advent Calendar and nominations to the Apple News Channel

* A community to support literacy amongst adults and children

This weekend, we published our December magazine. The magazine is available from all major retail platforms, including Amazon. You can also read the magazine, for free, here:

Featured items include:

* Acclaimed author Nicholas Rossis writing about encouraging children to read

* A young author, aged eleven, writing about his moving experiences

* Christmas in various parts of the world

* Coping with stress at Christmas

* Healthy eating at Christmas

* Ghost stories at Christmas

* Paddy, The Christmas Turkey, a fun festive tale

There is something in the magazine for everyone: short stories, articles, puzzles, recipes and more. Follow the link and have a read 🙂

 

Categories
Sam Smith Mystery Series Saving Grace

Christmas Newsletter

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I am delighted to say that Sam’s Song, book one in the Sam Smith Mystery Series, is currently available FREE! Here is a recent review from Amazon:

I really enjoyed reading this character driven mystery. Sam is a female detective, damaged, determined. Her character is extremely well developed, real, the flaws serve her. There were several secondary characters who were also fleshed out, making this a richer read. Sweets gave me a few giggles, he played well against Sam. Dan, oh my, I wanted to pop that man on more than one occasion. The balance to him was Alan, a good man. Is she too broken by Dan to give Alan the chance he deserves? That she deserves?

In addition to rich characters, there is a lovely narrative that paints easy to imagine settings, and brings the characters thoughts to life. The pace was deliberate with a nice balance of intensity and introspection.

The mystery was interesting, with a satisfying conclusion. This is a great start to a series and I look forward to reading more.

Most of my books start with the central character and develop from there. However, with Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen the title, Snow in August, came first, with no idea regarding the content. However, an article read yesterday suggested a location, that location suggested an atmosphere, that atmosphere suggested the crimes, and the crimes suggested the central characters. Within five minutes the story unfolded like a movie in my mind. Snow in August will follow A Parcel of Rogues, Boston, and The Devil and Ms Devlin in the series.

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In my forthcoming novel, Saving Grace, Carys Beaumond invites advocate Daniel Morgan and his associate, Mr Robeson, to dinner. After dinner, she entertains the gentlemen on the pianoforte. Then she encourages Mr Robeson to sing two songs, including this song, Woodman, Spare That Tree, from 1837, an early environmental song. Here is a modern version.

Thank you for your interest and support.

Merry Christmas!

 

Categories
Ann's War Sam Smith Mystery Series Saving Grace

December Newsletter

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

This week, The Big Chill, book three in the Sam Smith Mystery Series, made the top one hundred on the Amazon private detective chart, alongside Sue Grafton, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert B Parker.

Set at Christmas, and with a snow storm gripping the city, someone is out to murder private detective Samantha Smith. Using her wits and skills as a detective, Sam sets out to track down the assassin leading to a dramatic showdown in her snowbound apartment.

https://www.amazon.com/Hannah-Howe/e/B00OK7E24E

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I have storyboarded Boston, book fourteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. This story takes place over Christmas and features a range of new characters, including Gabe, a Boston private eye. The picture shows a south-east view of Boston, c1730.

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In chapter three of Saving Grace, my forthcoming Victorian mystery novel, Daniel Morgan, my advocate, meets Grace Petrie, his client, for the first time. Grace reminds Daniel of Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s paintings, in particular the sensuality of the lady in ‘The White Hat’, pictured, and the vulnerability of the girl in ‘The Broken Vessel’.

Jean-Baptiste_Greuze_The_White_Hat_2120759508

The picture below is from my research into Victorian fashions for my forthcoming novel, Saving Grace. Saving Grace is set in 1876 when slimline dresses, bottom left of picture, were in.

Fashions

Below, the location for the dramatic finale in Betrayal, Ann’s War Mystery Series book one. This location also features in the Sam Smith Mystery Series.

If you have any comments or questions about my books please feel free to contact me via my website. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Hannah's Diary

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

And in case you are wondering, it is okay to believe

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Childhood beliefs in Father Christmas explored in Psychology Today