Saturday, July 28, 2018

"The Secrets of Haversham House" by Julie Matern ... and a GIVEAWAY (SLB Tours)

The Secret of Haversham House Tour

About the Book

The Secret of Haversham House
Genre: Christian, Fiction, Historical, Regency, Romance 
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Publication date: June 12, 2018 

Francesca Haversham is eighteen years old and about to step into a glittering future - all she has to do is secure her wealth with an advantageous marriage. Then she learns the truth:her entire identity is a lie. Now Francesca faces a horrible choice. Will she give up all she knows or continue to lie about her past and risk everything, including her heart?

About the Author

MATERN Julie_author photo

Julie Matern is a resident of Utah. She attended the University of Exeter in Exeter, England, and graduated with a double major in French and Education. She was born and raised in England, moving to America after her marriage and is the mother of six children. She has served in the PTA for over 20 years, taught tap dance, and enjoys amateur photography. She is the author of 'British War Children' ( for which she received a "Recommended Read" award from the League of Utah Writers) and 'British War Children 2: An Enemy Among Us'. Hometown: Highland, UT

Author Interview

1. If you could go to tea with any of the characters in The Secret of Haversham House, who would you go with and why?
Lady Augusta Haversham firstly, though she might refuse the invitation as I am a social ‘nobody’! I would ask her if she is lonely and whether her pride is worth the price of exclusion from her family. I would also ask her if she has any regrets about her own behavior. Secondly, I would be very interested to talk to Antonio, Francesca’s birth father, about how he felt when he learned that he had a daughter and all the emotions it stirred up and if he was angry about the contract they made him sign. I think I might also like to go to tea with Mario and ask what he really thought of Giorgio’s revelation about a secret granddaughter and the search for her.

2. Did you travel to gather research for The Secret of Haversham House? If so, where did you go? If not, what did you do to gather your research for this story?
I travel to England frequently to visit family and I have lived in France twice and often pop over when I am in England. So my research has been conducted over a lifetime. I have been to Italy once but a daughter spent time there on a study abroad and shared her love of it. In terms of research of the language style, I read Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskill and watch lots of period dramas.

3. What did your writing process look like for The Secret of Haversham House?
This was my first book for adults and though I was careful not to write down to the middle grade readers obviously, the language for an adult regency book needed to be of a higher level. Also, the number of characters was much greater (necessitating some family group sheets and family trees to keep it all straight!) and the plot was more complex. I am not an extensive planner when I write (though many authors are). I know the end and perhaps the middle but then I let the story write itself. It can surprise me and is an exciting way to write. The characters are like this to some extent too. I write a bio of each character for reference at the beginning but they often change during the course of the novel and I have to go back and edit the bio. I also often write amidst lots of noise and activity. I am drawn into the writing so much that I am able to block the disturbance out, fortunately, which means I can be in the middle of my family while writing and not closeted away.

4. What inspired the idea for The Secret of Haversham House?
Social class. It is still alive and well in England but not to the extent it was in this period. One day I wondered what would happen to a person who discovered that they were actually from a much lower class. Would it change the way friends and family treated them? I decided it would and thus a main character with a secret past was born.

5. What did you as a writer take away from writing The Secret of Haversham House?
When I started the novel I did not know that Phillip was going to experience an emotional crisis. His reaction to Francesca’s heritage showed me that we all might have hidden prejudices that we only discover when circumstances tease them out. I also firmly believe that through Christ we can overcome all and any prejudices.

6. What is your current WIP? What can you share with us about this project?
Arranged marriage was obviously the standard during this period. Jane Austen’s writings show us that marrying for love was an often unattainable wish. It is a concept so foreign to our culture that I wanted to examine it. In order to do this, I created a character who is thrust into different households as a governess. She experiences the difficulties of arranged marriage as an observer. I plan on writing a third novel from the viewpoint of the bride of an arranged marriage.​

5 Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author I Didn’t Know Before

In no particular order-
  1. Writing isn’t just about writing any more.
I had no idea how much the publishing industry had changed because of the internet. (Yep, I’m old!). When I first started out, before I had anything more than an idea for a plot, I took an adult education class at a local college by a visiting presenter and came back absolutely overwhelmed. I had thought I was going to a class about how to write a book and found out it was really a class about how to market the book you have written. I almost gave up as this was not really what I wanted to sign up for. I decided just to write the book and worry about the other stuff later. I entered my book into a local contest which meant joining my local writer’s chapter. This was a gift. I was with like minded strangers who were hiking the same path as me and once a month they had education classes on the whole industry. It has been invaluable. I won third place in the contest! (we had self-published and made mistakes on the formatting and done the cover ourselves - these were the main critiques) This was the validation I needed that I could write. Then I had the courage to take the plunge into the marketing side. It has been five years and I still feel like a marketing novice but I am continuing to learn new things all the time.
  1. You feel like a fraud.
It’s called the ‘Imposter Syndrome’. It’s a real thing and there are studies about it. When I grabbed my courage by the throat and attended my first writer’s meeting I felt way out of my league. I almost didn’t go back. These people were real writers (or so I thought) and I was just a pretender. After attending several meetings and meeting a few of the other members I learned that many of them had not published anything. That didn’t mean they were not writers. Jennifer A Nielsen author of ‘The False Prince’ gave the keynote at the second writer’s conference I attended. It was a game changer for me. She gave the most inspiring pep talk ever and really boosted my confidence. Then she showed us the pile of rejection letters she had received when trying to get her book published. She had felt like a fraud once!
  1. You can spend a lot of money.
If you have a ton of money then spend away. Most people don’t so I would caution you to be careful with your precious funds. I self published my first book on a shoestring. Three web-site domains that were $15 each, I incorporated by creating an LLC and the license cost approx $40. I designed the cover and we used KDP to upload the e-book and Createspace for the hard copy which are both free. So for around $100 my first book went live. My initial goal was just to publish a book. For $100 I achieved that goal and it was a great feeling. Did I make any money on it? Nope. But that was not my initial goal. Here’s some ways you can spend money to improve your chances of making money on your book:
  • Pay an editor. The price here can vary but it’s not cheap. This is valuable if you don’t have the best grammar and are worried about plot holes etc…
  • Pay a cover designer. Again the price can vary widely. If you send your finished manuscript to a publisher they may not use your cover.
  • Pay someone to design your web-site and pay to have someone maintain it.
  • Pay for FB or other social media advertising.
  • Hire an agent to sell your book to publishers.
  • Buy promotional products to give away.
  1. You’ll make lots of new friends
If you are an introvert you may not see this as a perk! Joining writer’s groups and attending writer’s conferences are great ways to meet new people who are like-minded. The conference I attend has evening social activities for those from out of town who are staying at hotels near the conference.
  1. Critiques can be harsh
I have a critique partner who is a close friend who is an author. She is kind in her critiques. My writer’s group moved closer to me so I thought I would try their critique session. There were not many in attendance that night so I was not put with people who write in my genre. They were brutal. I was a mess. I had already had my manuscript for Haversham House accepted by this point and I was still a mess at their harsh critique.

10 Things you didn’t know ( and maybe didn’t want to know) about Julie Matern

  • I was born and raised in England.
  • My name was going to be Victoria as my maternal grandfather died just before I was born and his name was Victor.
  • I attended an all girls high school from age 11. We had a very strict uniform. At the beginning of each school year the teachers checked our uniforms to make sure they were to code. They even measured the height of our heels. They couldn’t be higher than 2”. I credit that school with giving me the best of educations and helping me believe that I could become anything.
  • I love dogs. I have had 7 dogs during my life. My current dog is a Golden Retriever named Duchess.
  • I was a tap dance teacher for 7 years.
  • I love amateur photography. I cannot do it for money as I become neurotic that the pictures won’t be good enough and drive myself and my husband crazy!
  • I sew. I sew clothes, curtains, baby bedding and table runners.
  • Thrillers and detective novels are my guilty pleasure. I have subscribed to the Reader’s Digest edited books for decades. This is how I read my thrillers and detective books - edited.
  • I am the mother of twins. Double trouble and double the fun. I have six children and three grandchildren.
  • I hate running. Like really hate it. I could dance for three hours straight but I can’t run to the end of the block.


Francesca stopped breathing as Mr. Ashbourne gently took her gloved hand in his and expertly spun her around the room, leaving her former partner spluttering at the lack of manners, in the center of the dance floor. She became dizzy at the realization that Mr. Ashbourne was actually dancing with her. After several turns, he lowered his head and whispered into her ear, his nose tickling her skin and sending a thrill up her spine, causing a delicious sensation in her midriff. “Are you unwell?” he asked. “You look faint.” She recovered herself and observed that he had a playful smile on his lips, fully aware of the power his presence had on young ladies. Not wanting to appear as inexperienced as she really was, she blurted out, “Oh no, you merely surprised me, that is all.” “Then I shall take pleasure in surprising you whenever I can as it only serves to heighten your beauty!” Francesca’s cheeks burned under his scrutiny and she bent her neck to avoid his piercing gaze and gather her confused thoughts.


Eighteen-year-old Francesca Haversham is set to make her way, and name, in society, but a deathbed confession changes her life forever. If the truth comes out, it will have a major impact on Francesca, as well as her family. Will she follow her heart, even if it means giving up on her standing in society or love? Is it possible for her to find someone who will love her for who she is vs. what she has to offer?

Rich details combine to bring Mattern’s charming Regency romance to life as she takes the reader across England, France, and Italy. Multi-layered characters quickly engage the reader. A bit of mystery is involved, which is a nice addition to the tale. The reader may notice a connection between the Regency-era high society to the modern world’s social media, especially when it comes to prejudices and judging others based on their position, wealth, etc. I look forward to reading other books by this talented author.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher as part of the SLB Blog Tour. I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.


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  1. This looks like a really good book to read! TBR list. :-)

    I have a question for the author: Why weren't you named Victoria?

    Leslie, thank you!

    1. You're very welcome :)

      Yes, it's a really good book. I hope you enjoy it.

      Good luck!

  2. Sometimes I wonder whether every school should have a uniform dress code. I think it would take a lot of pressure off of kids to have "in" clothing and friendships wouldn't be based on what you wear/don't wear.

    1. I used to teach, and I agree that it would certainly take away some of that pressure.

      Good luck!