Blog Tour Guest Post: Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore

I'm very excited today to be on the blog tour for a book I very much enjoyed by an author I absolutely adore. Thank you to Katherine Longshore and Rockstar Book Tours for including me in the Manor of Secrets Blog Tour!

Here's a bit about the book:
Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore.

Page Count: 320.
Published: January 28, 2014.
Published by: Point (Scholastic).
Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Goodreads Synopsis:
The year is 1911. And at The Manor, nothing is as it seems . . .

Lady Charlotte Edmonds: Beautiful, wealthy, and sheltered, Charlotte feels suffocated by the strictures of upper-crust society. She longs to see the world beyond The Manor, to seek out high adventure. And most of all, romance. 

Janie Seward: Fiery, hardworking, and clever, Janie knows she can be more than just a kitchen maid. But she isn't sure she possesses the courage -- or the means -- to break free and follow her passions.

Both Charlotte and Janie are ready for change. As their paths overlap in the gilded hallways and dark corridors of The Manor, rules are broken and secrets are revealed. Secrets that will alter the course of their lives. . . forever.

To chat about the "darlings" she had to cut from this story, here's Katherine!

Hello. My name is Katherine Longshore, and I’m an overwriter.

There. I’ve admitted it. For every book I’ve written, I’ve had to cut what adds up to about fifty percent of the final word count. So for MANOR OF SECRETS, which clocks in at just over sixty thousand words, I’ve had to kill about thirty thousand darlings.

Many of these disposable words are just that—disposable. Extraneous buts and ands and accidentally-repeated phrases (I think I had to cut several lines that read, “live up to expectations” and “want more out of life than…”) But, like many writers (at least those of us who overwrite), I also had to kill some bigger darlings.

In the first draft, Lady Beatrice showed up with a daughter—a girl who bore a striking resemblance to the daughter of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice—mousy and milquetoast and pledged to marry the eldest son who will inherit The Manor. Not my most brilliant character portrayal—cut! The little miss no longer exists.

Another character who got airtime in an early draft was the eldest son himself. David. He was a bit full of himself, quite rakish, and ignored his (much younger) sister. He pulled a few stunts that earned him enough of my ire that I eventually decided he should be in the army—with World War I in the near future. Cut! David still exists—along with four other older brothers—but doesn’t get any of the spotlight.

Both Charlotte and Janie have a lot of backstory, as all characters should. But it takes a lot of effort merely to imply the backstory rather than have it all in there at once. I tend to throw everything at a first draft and cut judiciously after that. For instance, I spent a good half a day figuring out how Janie would be able to travel by train from her aunt’s house in Romney Marsh to The Manor—or at least to Penshurst station. She must have done this at about the age of eleven or twelve, the age when compulsory schooling terminated. This journey is not in the book (but it’s still in my head!). Sadly, some of the rail lines no longer operate, either.
An absolute treasury of historical detail had to fall by the wayside, as well. Nijinsky’s performance at the Ballets Russes. Eating at the Savoy. A picnic at the cricket ground, with Charlotte trying not very successfully to understand the terminology. The name of the horrible-sounding cocktail Lord Andrew refused to imbibe before dinner (it’s called a Bosom Caresser, a name that never fails to make me smirk, but wasn’t really appropriate for Lord Andrew to mention at the time). How the birds are “ripened” and dressed at a shooting party. How calling cards are used—and how they can be used as weapons.

The historical details were the hardest to cut. They really are my darlings. Historical details make the world more real, more visceral. They give us a place to be grounded, like the soil of The Manor itself.
But when the details take over, and the story doesn’t progress, they have to be cut. Every writer of historical fiction (or any genre—science fiction, fantasy, dystopian, paranormal) has to believe that just knowing these details can imbue the story world with the richness it deserves. Obviously, characters living at the time aren’t going to comment on what they find utterly commonplace. For instance, the lack of a telephone or the servants’ daily prayers led by the master of the house. Not to mention the sheer extravagance of running a house with forty indoor servants and dressing in gowns and white tie for a three or seven course dinner every single night (I consider myself lucky if I dress up for dinner twice in one year). But hopefully good characters will live those things without comment, and that will come across in actions and attitudes.

It’s part of what makes writing historical fiction so much fun. Doing an abundance of research and playing with lots of scenarios so you can decide what to keep and what to cut. Loving all of it, but being willing to sacrifice for the sake of a good story.

Wow. Even just the sheer number of darlings cut has me surprised! Nobody can ever say that authors don't work very, very hard on their books! As a history lover myself, I would love to see all that detail that had to be cut! But having read the book, I think it flows very well and so as much as it hurt Katherine (and as much as I wish I could see it all), I agree that it was probably for the best.
Thank you, Katherine!

About the Author:
Katherine Longshore grew up on the northern California coast. At university, she created her own major in Cross-Cultural Studies and Communications, planning to travel and write. Forever. Four years, six continents and countless pairs of shoes later, she went to England for two weeks, stayed five years and discovered history. She now lives in California with her husband, two children and a sun-worshiping dog.

Website / Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

To go along with the blog tour, there is a US-only giveaway of 5 finished copies of the novel. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the rest of the tour:
Week One:
1/27/2014- Fiktshun- Guest Post
1/28/2014- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
1/29/2014- Good Books and Good Wine- Review
1/30/2014- Hobbitsies- Review
1/31/2014- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads- Interview

Week Two:
2/3/2014- A Glass Of Wine- Guest Post
2/4/2014- Mundie Moms- Interview & Review
2/5/2014- Read My Breath Away- Guest Post
2/6/2014- Page Turners- Review
2/7/2014- Tales of a Ravenous Reader- Guest Post


  1. Eep! I think the coolest thing about this book is I know I'm not the only one in my house who will go diving for it. Both my mom and my sister are big Downton Abbey fans, so you better believe I'll be pushing the book on them.

    1. I think this is definitely a good buy for the whole family if they're Downton fans. The whole upstairs/downstairs aspect is so intriguing and gives lots of opportunity for both growth and drama. I hope all three of you enjoy this one! :)

  2. The cover of this book really captured my attention. I love historical fiction and it sounds like the author used inspiration from some of the best classics.

    1. The cover definitely caught my attention too. Really evokes Downton Abbey! I trust Katherine Longshore with historical fiction, I think she handles it very well.


I'd love to hear what you think!