The Perils of Travel in Historical Fiction: A Guest Post by Caroline Warfield

18009085_10155113596020833_1125127663_nTravel presents a challenge to any writer of historical fiction. I once asked my brother, a navy veteran, how long it would take to sail from Ostia to Genoa and he said, “That would depend on the ship, the tides, the winds, and the weather.” Not much help! Luckily there are sources that can give approximate times for frequently used routes. 

In writing The Reluctant Wife I discovered that a typical trip home to England from Calcutta took six months by sail. SIX MONTHS?! What on earth was I going to do with characters shipboard for that long, and/or how could I handle a big time gap? I discovered another option. In 1835 the India Mail instituted steamship and overland service from Bombay. Steamers would travel up the Red Sea to Suez. Passengers then disembarked and went overland to Cairo, sail up the Nile and then across on the Mahmoudiyah Canal to Alexandria. From there they embarked on a second steamer to England. It took four months off the journey.

That left me with two teeny-weeny problems. #1 The steamer and overland service from Calcutta didn’t begin until 1841 and #2 My story was set in 1835. There is a reason why they call it fiction. I took the liberty of moving Calcutta service forward six years and apologized afterward. My characters were much happier, particularly a small girl who was dee-lighted to go the way that involved camels. 


 18009198_10155113595015833_1116346867_nThe Reluctant Wife

Children of Empire, Book 2

Genre: Pre Victorian, Historical Romance Heat rating: 3 of 5 (two brief -mild- sexual encounters)

ISBN: 978-1-61935-349-9 ASIN: B06Y4BGMX1 Page count: 275 pages

Pub date: April 26, 2017

When all else fails, love succeeds…

Captain Fred Wheatly’s comfortable life on the fringes of Bengal comes crashing down around him when his mistress dies, leaving him with two children he never expected to have to raise. When he chooses justice over army regulations, he’s forced to resign his position, leaving him with no way to support his unexpected family. He’s already had enough failures in his life. The last thing he needs is an attractive, interfering woman bedeviling his steps, reminding him of his duties.

All widowed Clare Armbruster needs is her brother’s signature on a legal document to be free of her past. After a failed marriage, and still mourning the loss of a child, she’s had it up to her ears with the assumptions she doesn’t know how to take care of herself, that what she needs is a husband. She certainly doesn’t need a great lout of a captain who can’t figure out what to do with his daughters. If only the frightened little girls didn’t need her help so badly.

Clare has made mistakes in the past. Can she trust Fred now? Can she trust herself? Captain Wheatly isn’t ashamed of his aristocratic heritage, but he doesn’t need his family and they’ve certainly never needed him. But with no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above past failures to forge a future together?

Find it here:

About Caroline Warfield


Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Caroline is a RONE award winner with five star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, Night Owl Reviews, and InD’Tale and an Amazon best-seller. She is also a member of the writers’ co-operative, the Bluestocking Belles. With partners she manages and regularly writes for both The Teatime Tattler and History Imagined.


Amazon Author

Good Reads


Twitter @CaroWarfield


Children of Empire

Three cousins, torn apart by lies and deceit and driven to the far reaches of the empire, struggle to find their way home.


Caroline will give a kindle copy of The Renegade Wife, Book 1 in the series, to one person who comments. She is also sponsoring a grand prize in celebration of her release. You can enter it here:

The prequel to this book, A Dangerous Nativity, is always **FREE**. You can get a copy here:

Excerpt 18034863_10155113596610833_468827986_n

I want to take the steamship and camel,” Meghal interrupted.

Ah yes, the camel. Do you plan to ride north along the Silk Road to Istanbul, or merely cross the Punjab into the Kingdom of Kabul and beyond?” Fred asked, unwittingly echoing Clare’s reaction to the shipping agent.

Where is that?” Meghal demanded.

To the west,” he responded.

Meghal turned to Clare. “Is the Nile in the Kingdom of Kabul?”

No. Egypt. It is also west, but farther south”—Clare waved a hand back and forth—“but we’re not taking the steamer route.”

Tell me about this route you aren’t taking. The Nile?” The workings of his daughter’s mind mystified him; Clare’s fascinated him.

Clare briefly explained what she had learned about the inaugural run of a mail steamer to the Suez.

What is the advantage?” he asked.

It cuts four months off the time we would spend cooped up on a ship,” Clare answered.

Camels,” Meghal declared. Her eyes widened as a new idea struck. “And crocodiles.”

The disadvantage?” he asked, barely controlling his laughter.

Goodness, Fred. I would have to disembark with two children, travel overland to Cairo, travel by river barge down the Nile and the Mahmoudiyah Canal to Alexandria before embarking on yet another steamer for Falmouth or Southampton while managing luggage and keeping your daughter from wandering off with the first interesting band of Bedouins she encountered.”

But Papa can help with the luggage, and I promise not to follow any—what are Bead-oh-ans?”

Clare’s face registered the shock he felt. Neither one of them had mentioned his plans to his daughters. Clare raised a brow and shrugged, obviously unwilling to rescue him.

You’re on your own, Wheatly, he thought as he tried to put words together while Meghal smiled hopefully at him.

I thought you knew, Meghal. I’m not going with you. You will have to take care of Miss Armbruster for me.” She will like the idea of caring for everyone, he thought, pleased with himself for coming up with that.

His daughter’s instant response disabused him of that notion. “Why?” she demanded, the universal challenge of children everywhere. Before he could think, she stabbed him in the heart and twisted the knife. “Don’t you care for us?”

Of course, I do! Never think that.”

Where will we go? Who will take care of us? Do we have to live with Miss Armbruster?” Meghal colored and turned to Clare. “I’m sorry, Miss Armbruster. Ananya and I like you, but you aren’t family,” she said. “We need family.”

Fred seized on her words. “That’s just it. I’m sending you to family. Your Aunt Catherine and your cousins will be happy to have you come and stay with them while I”—he clenched his teeth—“while I find work so I can send her money for your care.”

Meghal sank back in the chair, outrage still rampant on her face.

National Library Week!

So here’s the deal: This week is National Library Week! Having been a bookish kid, a homeschooled kid, and a kid who grew up without a lot of resources, the library was always an amazing place to me.


Now is my chance to help give back (and to one of the libraries I frequented the most while growing up, and that I still take my kids to today). For the next week, all proceeds from the sales of my books, paperbacks or ebooks, will be donated to the Juniata County Library. I didthis once before and raised a whopping $12.80! (Yeah, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but all of my books were on sale that week, which lowers the royalty rate to nickels and dimes.) I’d love to double that amount this week, and should I triple that amount – total pie in the sky, I know – I’ll even match what is raised and donate that portion to the Marysville-Rye Library here in my town!

I’ll post all important links below, and I’ll be a real irritant and post about this every day this week.

Thanks in advance to anyone who helps this cause. I love my local libraries, my kids love the library, and I want to do everything I can to help them!

The Half Killed ebook

The Half Killed paperback
(Barnes and Noble):

Knotted ebook:

Knotted paperback:

Things I Did This Week (So You Don’t Have To)

I want to say it was a busy week. That’s always the default response when someone asks about my day/week/month/life/etc., but it really wasn’t. The kids missed dance lessons on Monday because of the Nagging Cold From Hell, but they were still well enough to do school work and just… be kids.

Because of the impending snow storm barreling down on us, and all of the panic-inducing news reports to flash across the television screen (DID YOU BUY YOUR MILK AND BREAD AND EGGS YET???? DON’T YOU KNOW A BLIZZARD WILL KILL YOU UNLESS YOU CAN DEFEAT IT WITH FRENCH TOAST?????) they created their own newscast.


Probably more accurate than the paid weather forecasters.

I was also interviewed on Carolyn Astfalk’s blog. She asked some great questions, and I was reminded (by myself) that I probably need a new author photo.

I wrote, some, but not a lot. A couple handwritten pages here and there, and not much more than that. I hope to finish the first draft of this chapter over the weekend, while my husband fixes the dryer and my kids recover from playing outside with some cups of Swiss Miss and those tiny little marshmallows.

Dinners were nothing amazing. Lots of potatoes and carrots were involved, so it was potato pancakes, potato waffles, steamed carrots, mashed carrots, and so on. Which is what happens when I go to the store and all the huge bags of root vegetables are buy one get one free.

I did make a new brownie recipe, these “Sweet Heat” Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies from The Cozy Apron. With cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and instant coffee, they are absolutely delicious, and I love their texture.

And then, because of the snow and the inability or desire to go anywhere (beyond the confines of our patio and yard), there will be reading this weekend. Oh, so much reading.


Mondays with Moby: Chapter Three

Entering that gable-ended Spouter-Inn, you found yourself in wide, low, straggling entry with old-fashioned wainscots, reminding one of the bulwarks of some condemned old craft.

We’re now taken on a tour of the Spouter-Inn, boasting dark, “besmoked” paintings of whales attempting to impale themselves, along with all manner of saws and harpoons and other menacing weaponry. Oh, and a bar set within the jawbone of a whale. And inside this ghastly maw, an old man dispenses his various “deliriums and death.”

Ishmael asks for a room, but is told he can only have one if he agrees to share his bunk with a harpooneer. Ishmael isn’t thrilled by this prospect, but agrees because the only other alternative is to spend the night outdoors, in the wind and the dark and the bitter, bitter cold and snow. In other words, winter in New England.

So he settles back to wait for the return of his bedmate, described to him as a “dark-complexioned chap” who eats nothing but steaks and “likes ‘em rare.”

A tramping of sea boots was heard in the entry; the door was flung open, and in rolled a wild set of mariners enough. Enveloped in their shaggy watch coats, and with their heads muffled in woolen comforters, all bedarned and ragged, and their beards stiff with icicles, they seemed an eruption of bears from Labrador.

This marks the arrival of a crew lately returned from a three-year voyage. There is one in the crew that Ishmael makes note of, a Bulkington who we’re told will play a larger role in the narrative later on.

He stood full six feet in height, with noble shoulders, and a chest like a cofferdam… His face was deeply brown and burnt, making his white teeth dazzling by the contrast; while in the deep shadows of his eyes floated some reminiscences that did not seem to give him much joy.

But Bulkington only stays on the scene for a minute, and we return to Ishmael’s concerns of having to share a bed with a stranger.

No man prefers to sleep two in a bed. In fact, you would a good deal rather not sleep with your own brother. I don’t know how it is, but people like to be private when they are sleeping. And when it comes to sleeping with an unknown stranger, in a strange inn, in a strange town, and that stranger a harpooneer, then your objections indefinitely multiply.

Ishmael also laments the assumed state of this harpooneer’s linen, which wouldn’t be the “tidiest, certainly not the finest.”

My takeaway from this is that “harpooneers” are at the bottom of a whaling ship’s proverbial totem pole? And that they’re not very clean? I mean, that’s what I got from this. Eep.

The moment finally comes when Ishmael can’t take anymore. The thought of sharing a bed with a strange “harpooneer” in untidy linen is too much to bear, and so he proposes the idea of sleeping on a bench in the main room. A few paragraphs follow of attempting to make the bench plan work (Spoilers: It doesn’t.) and the “harpooneer” still hasn’t returned, and the landlord confesses that He of the Dirty Linen must still be out trying to sell his head, which Ishmael takes for a yarn (or a “farrago”, which is an awesome word I must use more often) and after a long speech from Ishmael, the landlord clarifies that the “harpooneer” just arrived from the South Seas and is trying to sell embalmed human heads.

As one does.

“… and he’s sold all on ‘em but one, and that one he’s trying to sell tonight, cause tomorrow’s Sunday, and it would not do to be sellin’ human heads about the streets when folks is goin’ to churches.”

Things Not To Do On a Sunday Morning #47: Sell Human Heads

Finally, Ishmael gives in and goes to bed on his own (Why he didn’t do this in the first place, I’m not sure). The bed turns out to be huge, and after a quick rummage through the “harpooneer’s” things (Seriously, Ishmael?) he jumps into bed and is nearly asleep when he hears footsteps.

Lord save me, think I, that must be the harpooneer, the infernal head-peddler.

“Infernal Head-Peddler” being the third track from the latest CD by The Tepid Tears of Orphans.

The newcomer is tattooed, with a “purplish-yellow” complexion, and without any hair on his head “but a small scalp-knot twisted up on his forehead.”

This is all, once again, too much for poor Ishmael. (Perhaps the book will receive an anniversary re-release when it will be titled “Moby-Dick, or Things That Are Too Much For Ishmael.”) And then the “harpooneer” strips out of his shirt and proceeds to go through a little ceremony with a carved idol. But through all of this, Ishmael is too stunned to speak up and announce his presence in the room, until…

The next moment, the light was extinguished, and this wild cannibal, tomahawk between his teeth, sprang into bed with me. I sang out, I could not help it now; and giving a sudden grunt of astonishment he began feeling me.

Is this part in any of the movie or television adaptations? Is it? Please, tell me that it is.

“Who-ee debel you?”- he at last said -”you no speak-ee, dam-me, I kill-e.” And so saying, the lighted tomahawk began flourishing around in the dark.”

There’s a bit of a rumpus, the landlord arrives, but Queequeg – because we discover that our tattooed “harpooneer” is named Queequeg – is actually a pretty nice guy.

For all his tattooings, he was on the whole a clean, comely looking cannibal. What’s all this fuss I have been making about, thought I to myself – the man’s a human being just as I am: he has just as much reason to fear me, as I have to be afraid of him. Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.


I turned in, and never slept better in my life.

Next up? Chapter Four: The Counterpane

Things I Had To Look Up:

Cofferdam: According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is “a watertight enclosure from which water is pumped to expose the bottom of a body of water and permit construction (as of a pier).” Or, you know, a big thing.

Skrimshander: According to… “Whale-bone, and other like skrimshander articles, as the whalemen call the numerous little ingenious contrivances they elaborately carve out of the rough material, in their hours of ocean leisure.” And it really seems to find a bit of exclusivity in Moby-Dick, since almost all of the examples of its usage come from this book.

Hyperborean: “It’s a Hyperborean winter scene.” A phrase used as one of the possible scenes in the painting that hides beneath all of the smoke and soot inside the Spouter-Inn. According to Merriam-Webster, Hyperborean is either 1) a member of a people held by the ancient Greeks to live beyond the north wind in a region of perpetual sunshine, or 2) an inhabitant of a cool northern climate.

Monkey Jackets: These are referred to a lot in this book, and even though I’d heard the term, I couldn’t place the look. So I ran over to Wikipedia for help. “A Monkey Jacket is a waist length jacket tapering at the back to a point. Historically, monkey jackets were typically worn by sailors.”

Mondays with Moby: Chapter Two

I stuffed a shirt or two into my old carpetbag, tucked it under my arm, and started for Cape Horn and the Pacific.

First off, I confess that I have always wanted to own a carpetbag. That is all.

Ishmael has now set off on his journey, and sets a course for New Bedford (In Massachusettes. They have a whaling museum!) in order to sail from there toward Nantucket (which also has a whaling museum, for anyone planning a whale-centric vacation anytime soon). He misses the boat, and so must spend two nights in New Bedford before he can obtain a spot on a Nantuckian ship.

For my mind was made up to sail in no other than a Nantucket craft, because there was a fine, boisterous something about anything connected with that famous old island, which amazingly pleased me.

(In fact, a little research will tell you all about the whaling rivalry between the two places, and how New Bedford began to quickly outstrip Nantucket in whale oil production in the mid to latter half of the nineteenth century. In my mind, they attempted to settle all grievances by sending emissaries to a nautical-themed rumble.)

Unfortunately for Ishmael, he’s a bit short on funds, and being “a very dark and dismal night, bitingly cold and cheerless” he knows he better find some lodgings quick or Melville’s tale won’t make it to Chapter Three.

He begins his search through New Bedford, passing several inns which are immediately skipped over for looking too “jolly”. In Melvillian terms, that means “expensive”.

I now by instinct followed the streets that took me waterward, for there, doubtless, were the cheapest, if not the cheeriest inns.

After stumbling on past dreary houses devoid of light and life, he finally happens upon a place more suited to his pecuniary needs.

As the light looked so dim, and the place, for the time, looked quiet enough, and the dilapidated little wooden house itself looked as if it might have been carted here from the remains of some burnt district, and as the swinging sign had a poverty-stricken sort of creak to it, I thought that here was the very spot for cheap lodgings, and the best of pea coffee.

That place sounds like an absolute delight.

(Note: Before you freak out about “pea coffee”, they mean coffee made from green peas, and not… that other kind of “pee”.)

And now that Ishmael has found a place to stay, he embarks on a page-long philosophical bit about “that tempestuous wind Euroclydon” which then brings in Lazarus and Dives (from the Biblical parable of the rich man (“dives” being a word for “rich man” in the Vulgate, and not an actual name) and Lazarus (but not THAT Lazarus, the one who was all raised from the dead and such)), and though the prose is achingly lovely, and there are great lines such as “give me the privilege of making my own summer with my own coals” and “he too lives like Czar in an ice palace made of frozen sighs” and “drinks the tepid tears of orphans” (Tepid Tears of Orphans TOTALLY being the new name for my imaginary band), I have to admit that I got a bit lost.


Euroclydon. defines it as “a stormy wind from the north or northeast that occurs in the Levant, which caused the ship in which St Paul was travelling to be wrecked (Acts 27:14)” or as any “great wind” and Wikipedia (I know, take everything they say with grain of salt) states that it is “a cyclonic tempestuous northeast wind which blows in the Mediterranean, mostly in autumn and winter”.


It stood on a sharp bleak corner, where that tempestuous wind Euroclydon kept up a worse howling than ever it did about poor Paul’s tossed craft.

See? Makes total sense now.

And now, after all of that, Ishmael is finally about to step inside his new lodgings at The Spouter-Inn.

Let us scrape the ice from our frosted feet, and see what sort of place this “Spouter” may be.

Next week? Chapter Three: The Spouter-Inn


Mondays with Moby: Chapter One

I’ve heard a good deal of not-too-flattering things about Moby-Dick. Even as a lover of classic works of fiction, it seemed like Herman Melville’s most famous novel (Quick! Name another one of his published works in the next three seconds! No cheating!) was one of the most polarizing I had ever come across.

It’s a masterpiece!


It wouldn’t have stood the test of time if it wasn’t any good!

There are entire chapters about how whale lamp oil is made. LAMP OIL!!!!1!!

Now, I’ve always been a fan of Charles Dickens, who is equally polarizing. He was paid by the word (and BOY did he make the most of it). He expounded, to great length, on the workings (or the failed workings) of the courts and poor houses and orphanages of the day. He even deus ex machina-ed characters off his pages by having them spontaneously combust out of existence.

And yet I love his style. I love the wordiness, the way his prose and his descriptions seem to pull me all the way back to that time period.

But still, I was put off reading Moby-Dick because I was afraid it would be interminable. And because once I’d read it, or attempted to, I’d no longer be able to avoid Melvillian discussions by claiming ignorance. I would have to put forward an opinion, and it might not be a good one.

So here I am, committing myself to reading the thing. One chapter at a time, and dissecting it, like someone with way more time on my hands than I actually possess.

First, here’s my copy of the book.

Summer 2014 226

I probably have it stashed in some collection on my Kindle (probably labeled “Books I Tell Myself I’ll Read But Netflix Just Keeps Adding New Stuff”), but I went for a paperback copy from my shelf, picked up in a library book sale two years ago.

(Also, that cover is amazing. And I have a great suspicion that the sailor on the upper-right may be about to break out with some nautical jazz hands.)

And so I begin with Chapter One: Loomings

Call me Ishmael.

One of the most famous first lines in literary history. As a writer, studying first lines is one of the things you often do, looking for which ones grab the reader, which ones stick with you, and why.

This one makes the narrator, Ishmael, approachable, as if he’s allowing you, Dear Reader, a bit of familiarity that he doesn’t share with just anyone.

So, again…

Call me Ishmael.

Ishmael is immediate with telling us about his penchant for slipping into dark, dreary moods and needing to “drive off the spleen”.

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

Right there. That is a great sentence. I must have read it about ten times before I could continue any further. Honestly, knocking people’s hats off might just become my new favorite thing. And I can simply blame it on my spleen. Brilliant!

Ishmael then takes us on a tour of the city, while telling us about the great and magnetic pull that water has on man.

Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries.

But it’s not merely city-folk who fall under this spell. It’s in man’s nature, no matter his home.

Say you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it.

History and mythology are full of tales of people going off to sea, venturing into the unknown. Off the edge of the map. Here, there be dragons. Mermaids, selkies, sunken treasure, underwater cities, Davy Jones, Anuket, Poseidon, Neptune, the list goes on and on.

There is magic in it.


Ishmael continues (he seems to be quite the loquacious sort, I’ll give him that) about how he prefers to travel when it comes time to air out the ol’ spleen.

I always go to see as a sailor, because they make a point of paying me for my trouble, whereas they never pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard of.

And later:

The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvellous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!

You know, Ishmael? I think I’m starting to take a liking to you.

Finally, Ishmael reveals that his chosen voyage is going to be a whaling voyage (*cue dramatic sound effects*). Because he is a curious man. Because he is adventurous. Ishmael’s soul is not a timid one, and we’ve been invited along for the journey.

By reason of these things, then, the whaling voyage was welcome; the great floodgates of the wonder-world swung open, and in the wild conceits that swayed me to my purpose, two and two there floated into my inmost soul, endless processions of the whale, and, mid most of them all, one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air.


Words and Phrases I Had to Look Up:

Circumambulate: (verb) to walk around (something)

I should have figured out that one on my own. Circum… Circle. Ambulate… Amble. Circle… walk. Thanks for nothing, That One Year of Latin I Took in High School.)

Pythagorean maxim: Okay, this one took a bit of research, and when I looked it up, I realized… Oh, there’s a fart joke in Moby-Dick.

Here we go: For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim)…

A bit of Googling told me that the Pythagorean maxim mentions a little something about not eating beans, because they make you gassy. (Edit: I found this just a minute ago, which explains things much better than I can.)

So, fart joke, in chapter one of Moby-Dick. Oh, Melville. You old rascal, you.

Next week? Chapter Two: The Carpetbag.