ARC – Readers Wanted for Susan’s Launch Team

ARC—Advanced Reader Copy is a pre-launch copy of a book.

I am looking for 10 – 15 readers who would like to be part of my Launch Team. As a privileged member of the launch team, you will receive an advanced e-copy of The Blue Pendant, a historical fiction; time period,1913 -1947. In return, Susan would greatly appreciate your help by writing a book review for the official launch day.

In a nutshell, the story is about a spirited young woman who defies tradition and seeks adventurous independence. Complicated by the love of two men, two world wars, two countries Britain and Canada; Anna struggles to follow her dreams over a period of three decades.

The novel will be available in the following format, Kindle, Kobo or PDF. Sorry, I am not able to provide advanced paper copies. The book is quite long, approximately 500 pages, so it is a time commitment. If you would like to join the advanced reader launch team, please fill out and submit your name and email address on the Contact Page and I will send you the details.


As you may gather, the launch date is getting closer. I find myself holding my breath thinking about it. But just this week I allowed myself to get a tiny-weeny bit excited. I received the Round 1 proof from the publisher and it looks like a book. I don’t have the cover yet, but that is coming soon.


Praise for Tellwell: I can’t believe my luck in finding this publisher in Victoria B.C., imagesTellwell Talent. I was quite nervous having heard conflicting stories about the publishing industry. I can’t praise Tellwell enough, for their reasonable prices, expert and friendly advice, plus the helpful, smart and efficient service. So far they have delivered on time, whether it’s a phone call, an email or proof copy. The owner Tim Lindsay took the time to answer all my questions before I signed up and has stood by all his answers. Kimberly, the lady who co-ordinates between the author and designer, is amazing. I may add I think there is something saintly about her personality because she is always pleasant, understanding and very patient. For those of you who are readers and not writers, I should explain that after spending months or even years writing a novel, authors get somewhat over protective and a tiny bit touch, about their work. It’s similar to a mother bear protecting her young. Grrr! Growl as you may, Kimberly greets you with reassurance, kind words and a smiling voice. All this to say I can highly recommend this company for anyone who is looking for assisted self-publishing. Contact Tellwell.  


Are you interested in historical fiction and love the Victorian and Edwardian era? Me too. Why not join Susan’s Readers Group?   A monthly chit-chat about books, authors, and reader trivia. If you would like to follow Anna and The Blue Pendant or the Blue Heron Mysteries. Click the FOLLOW BUTTON TO THE UPPER RIGHT OF THIS PAGE and add your email address. Once a week the blog will be sent to your inbox.

Please feel free to share this blog with friends, or on social media but please remember the written content belongs to me. Copyright © Susan A. Jennings
Disclaimer: Please be aware that some the information in this blog, although factual in some incidences may have been fictionalized for the purpose of the story.

Bill – The Under-chef

The Sackville Hotel
The Sackville Hotel

Most of my recent blogs featuring The Blue Pendant have talked at great length about Anna, the protagonist. There are in fact three main characters, in the novel, Anna being the first main character but without the secondary characters, Bill and Alex, there would be no story.

Introducing Bill Blaine. Bill was born in Edinburgh, his father was a stable manager and his mother was the daughter of a duke. I know that is a bit of a tease–spoiler alert, I’ll say no more.

220px-William_Orpen_Le_Chef_de_l'Hôtel_Chatham,_Paris
A chef outfit worn in the early 1900s.

Bill arrived in Bexhill as the under-chef to Chef Louis, the head or master chef at The Sackville Hotel. During this era, schooling to learn a trade or craft was minimal. Most often people learned their craft through working under someone experienced, in Bill’s situation he would be an apprentice to a master chef. The ‘chefing’ business was a tough trade. Master or head chefs were often temperamental men with unrealistic expectations. Chef Louis was even more difficult than most.  A tyrant with an over zealous ego and a very bad temper. In today’s world he would be called a bully, an interesting character to dislike as the story unfolds. Quiet, tolerant Bill tries to takes it all in his stride, but there are times when Chef almost pushes him over the edge. To the right is a picture of a Parisian chef. The height of the chef’s hat shows his ranking. Bill’s hat would have been smaller and Chef Louis hat would have been very much taller.


Are you interested in historical fiction and love the Victorian and Edwardian era? Me too. Why not join Susan’s Readers Group .A monthly chit-chat featuring historical trivia, book reviews, (historical, modern and local authors), interviews, book and author news and a brief summary of the previous months author and writer’s blogs. Next issue August, 2015. Susan’s Readers Group, join here.


If you would like to follow Anna and The Blue Pendant or the Blue Heron Mysteries. Click the FOLLOW BUTTON TO THE UPPER RIGHT OF THIS PAGE and add your email address. Once a week the blog will be sent to your inbox.

Please feel free to share this blog with friends, or on social media but please remember the written content belongs to me. Copyright © Susan A. Jennings

A Beautiful Complexion in Victorian Times?

Toilet Mask or Face Glove was a genuine Victorian solution for obtaining a perfect complexion.

Victorian beauty aid Courtesy of Olddesignshop.com
Victorian beauty aid
Courtesy of Olddesignshop.com

One of the fun things about writing historical fiction is the research, copious amounts of research and fact checking. The Blue Pendant is fiction from my overzealous imagination but historical facts, dates and places must be accurate, that part is easy. Understanding the daily living regime of an era is a little more difficult. But, I have to say, it is a lot of fun researching and uncovering all kinds of trivia, and then determining what is appropriate and what is not for the characters and story. I doubt that my protagonist Anna Neale would have used such a device as the toilet mask but it is an interesting discovery even if it was before  Anna’s time. Can you imagine sleeping in this toilet mask/face glove three times a week. I wonder what kind of reaction you met get from your spouse. I don’t know if Anna tried anything like this but young women try lots of things. Could it be any worse than sleeping in rollers, which I did most nights during my youth.

Victorian fashion prescribed that ladies should have pure white skin; not only did they cover themselves with big hats and parasols but they used creams to make their skin white, some with poisonous ingredients like mercury and arsenic.Perhaps the toilet mask or face glove was a safer solution. And, of course today we expose our skin to harmful sun rays for what the 21st century considers a healthy glow. Vanity knows no boundaries of time or place.


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Please feel free to share this blog with friends, or on social media but please remember the content belongs to me. Copyright © Susan A. Jennings

The Neale Family and Anna’s Reaction to Marriage

Anna may have worn this as a child of 7 or 8. Courtesy of oldDesignShop.com
Anna may have worn this outfit as a little girl of 7 or 8.
Picture Courtesy of OldDesignShop.com

We’re back with more from the novel The Blue Pendant  by Susan A. Jennings. The main character Anna Neale, was born in 1894 towards the end of the Victorian era. The Neale family were not rich, but respectable middle-class. They lived in a modest house with two servants, a maid and a cook. Mr. Neale was an accountant and provided well for his family, two daughters and a son. Growing up in a Victorian middle-class family in England, Anna and her older sister Lou would be expected to marry quite young. A suitable match would be found by their parents. The word suitable, meaning that the prospective husband came from a respectable family, had sufficient finances and a secure occupation to support a wife and subsequent family.

Anna, influenced by her globe-trotting Uncle Bertie, decided quite early in her childhood that she wanted to follow in his footsteps. She had no intention of marrying and succumbing to the domestic life. It is ironic, that in spite of trying to avoid it, love and romance play a large role in her life as she searched and strived for her goal of adventure and independence.

A quote from Chapter One of  The Blue Pendant.  Anna’s response to her parents presenting her with a suitable husband.

Not only did Anna have no affection for Mr. Tolford, she had no interest in marrying anyone. The thought of running a household and having babies made her feel quite ill. Anna adamantly refused Thomas Tolford. Mama and Papa were insistent that if she didn’t marry she must find something useful to do, always adding, until she did marry, which Anna had decided long ago was not going to happen.”


SIGN UP FOR SUSAN’S E-NEWSLETTER. A brief summary of May’s blogs, plus trivia for readers, interviews, reviews, book and author news. Next issue June 5, 2015.


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Copyright © Susan A Jennings 2015.

How is Rudyard Kipling connected to The Blue Pendant?

Rudyard_Kipling,_by_Elliott_&_Fry
Rudyard Kipling

The Blue Pendant, historical fiction, connected Anna, the protagonist, to India through her uncle. Author, Rudyard Kipling, connected to India through birth. His Parents, Alice and John Lockwood Kipling spent their courtship at Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire, England, which explains Rudyard’s unusual name. After they married they moved to British India, where his father was Principal and Professor of Architectural Sculpture at Sir Jamseetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in Bombay. Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865.

At five years old, Kipling was taken to England to board with a couple in Portsmouth, while he attended primary school, until old enough for boarding school. Reflecting on his childhood, Kipling wondered if his early interest in writing, which later developed into a literary life, might have been his way of coping with the abuse and neglect he suffered in Portsmouth.

The mid to late 19th century was the height of the the Victorian British Empire and it was normal for parents, working overseas in the British Empire, to send young children home to be educated.  I can’t imagine sending my children away, at any age, let alone at five years old.

In his adult years, Kipling travelled and lived in India and England. After marrying Carrie Balestier, an American, they lived in Vermont until political concerns prompted the family to move. After much traveling, they settled down in 1902 at a place called Burwash Sussex. Here they raised two of three children; Josephine their oldest daughter had died in1899 at the age of six. Kipling stayed in that house until his death in 1936.

I know this is a slim connection and perhaps a mere coincidence, but the first part of the The Blue Pendant is also set in Sussex, albeit a few miles away at Bexhill-on-Sea.

No matter where they lived, Kipling was a prolific writer and subsequently became one of the most famous authors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  He wrote for children and adults alike. The Jungle Book is a household name, even today, but he also wrote poems, short stories that were very popular in Victorian times, as well as novellas and novels. Many of his stories were of India, which is perhaps why he was Anna’s favorite author. Several of his titles are mentioned in The Blue Pendant.

The connection goes a little deeper when Anna sympathizes with Kipling’s struggle and early denial, of his son’s death in the Great War.

Rudyard Kipling was a fascinating man and author, for more details go to Wikipedia or read his biography. The original biography called, Rudyard Kipling written by John Palmer in 1923 has been restored and is available from Chapters/Indigo or select from the many other versions available in paperback or eBooks, at any on line book retailer.


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