Gods Acre by Dee Yates

Cover Reveal

What a brilliant cover. I have been waiting for what feels like ages for a new book by Dee Yates and here it is! A stunning cover and it sounds like a brilliant story and I cannot wait for it to arrive on my kindle. Keep on reading to find out more about the book and author.

As the drums of war begin to beat louder on the continent, and life becomes more dangerous in cities, seventeen year-old Jeannie McIver leaves the comfort of her Aunt’s house in Glasgow, to head to the wilds of the Scottish Uplands to start life as a Land Girl. Jeannie soon falls in love with life on the busy Scottish hill farm, despite all of its hardships and challenges.

She feels welcomed by the Cunningham family who value and cherish her far more than her own rather remote and cold parents, and the work is rewarding. She even finds her interest piqued by the brooding, attractive Tam, the son of the neighbouring farmer, and a sweet romance between them slowly blossoms.

But even in the barren hills, they can’t avoid the hell of war, and as local men start disappearing off to fight at the Front, Jeannie’s idyllic life starts to crumble.

Those left behind try desperately to keep the home fires burning, but then Jeannie makes one devastating decision which changes the course of her and Tam’s lives forever.

About the author:

Born and brought up in the south of England, the eldest girl of nine children, Dee moved north to Yorkshire to study medicine. She remained there, working in well woman medicine and general practice and bringing up her three daughters. She retired slightly early at the end of 2003, in order to start writing, and wrote two books in the next three years. In 2007 she moved further north, to the beautiful Southern Uplands of Scotland. Here she fills her time with her three grandsons, helping in the local museum, the church and the school library, walking, gardening and reading. She writes historical fiction, poetry and more recently non-fiction. Occasionally she gets to compare notes with her youngest sister Sarah Flint who writes crime with blood-curdling descriptions which make Dee want to hide behind the settee.

Interview with Carol Wyer

Blog Tour Interview

I would like to thank Carol Wyer for agreeing to answer some questions for me and appear on Chells and Books today!

  • Please tell us a little about What Happens in France and where your ideas for the book came from?

It’s a feel-good story about Bryony Masters, a somewhat quiet and reclusive teacher, whose sister, Hannah, ran away from home when she was 16. Bryony blames herself for the incident and has over the years, tried to find Hannah, but to no avail.

When her father has a sudden stroke, she is propelled into taking more drastic action and egged on by her best friend, Melinda, applies for a televised gameshow in the desperate hope she can use it as a platform to find her sister.

The show is filmed in France and she finds herself teamed up with the gorgeous but unattainable Lewis, and a bunch of hilarious competitors, including a limelight-stealing pug – Biggie Smalls. With Lewis’s help she has to fight off the competition and take part in a series of wacky and fun challenges, not to win the prize but to get the winners’ ten minutes of air time at the end of the show each day, which she uses to find Hannah.

As for the book’s inspiration, well, it was a mishmash of things. My mother suffered very badly from St Vitus Dance as a child and relayed the horrors of her own childhood which gave me the kernel of the idea for the Hannah and Bryony plot. That led me onto how Bryony would manage to find her sister and in turn, took me down the gameshow route. Given our obsession with shows like Love Island and the like, it seemed an ideal solution, so I applied for a variety of gameshows to see what I could find out. I ended up on quite a few (all in the name of research) but they helped fuel my ideas for the ridiculous challenges and games Bryony and Lewis have to tackle.

Finally, I am an absolute Francophile and have lived and worked in France. Nowadays, I visit the country several times a year, renting small gites, so it seemed the perfect place to set the book.  A few years ago, my husband, AKA Mr Grumpy, and I travelled around Brittany and the Loire-Atlantique and stayed in chateaux along the way. It was such fun we went back a few more times and saw as much of the regions as we could.

  • Do you have a favourite character or scene from What Happens in France?

To be fair, I love all the characters who stomped around in my head for a good few months, with the exception of Prof. David Potts. He deserves a good slapping! They were all incredibly entertaining and I found myself guffawing at some of the incidents and lines they came out with. Yes, I know I’m making them sound real, but they are to me.

I enjoyed writing all the scenes that took place in France and especially the game scenes. Quite possibly one of my favourites is when Bryony, in their furry 2CV, is attempting to direct a blindfolded Lewis around a course using only French directions so they’ll avoid cardboard cut-out cows. It was fun writing the dialogue for that. It’s almost like a scene from ‘Allo ‘Allo.

  • Tell us a little about your writing process and where your ideas come from and how they develop?

My head is constantly awash with ideas. I’m forever collecting names that I like, snippets of conversation I overhear, ideas from television or the newspapers. My mother always said I had an overactive imagination and I suspect she was right. Some of my ideas come to me when I’m asleep (a rare occurrence, as I suffer from insomnia) in the forms of dreams and I write them down on Post-it notes as soon as I wake up and file them to work on at a later date.

Before I begin writing a book, I’ll run a series of ideas through my mind. This usually happens when I’m lying in bed awake (as I mentioned earlier, I suffer from insomnia). I play them out as if they’re a film and over the coming nights and weeks, make necessary changes to the script, the endings and so on, until I think I have a novel. Next, I make character notes in a fresh notebook. Each character has a backstory. I probably won’t write down everything about them in the actual script but I need to know who they are – where they were born, if they are only children, what size shoes they take and so on to develop them into credible characters. I’ll then begin writing chapter synopsis so I know where the book is going and to keep me on track. Once I have those in place, I clear my desk and begin typing. I used to write the entire book out by hand into a series of notebooks, but nowadays I have too many tight schedules, so I use a laptop.

  • What is your favourite type of genre to write and is one easier than the other?

I write both romantic comedies and crime fiction. I really enjoy writing both but romantic comedy is a lot easier! Crime fiction requires meticulous plotting, endless research to make sure you are factual and of course hours of coming up with red herrings and twists. I find it far more demanding whereas romantic comedy flows more easily for me.

  • A day in the life of Carol Wyer + ?

This is where I prove I have no life!

5-8 .00 a.m. Get up, check social media and do some writing

8-8.30 a.m. Have breakfast with Mr Grumpy

8.30-9.30 a.m. Do housework or pretend to be doing housework and actually hide in my office, typing

9.30-11.30    Write or edit, depending where I am in my schedule

11.30-12.30  Go out for a walk. Mr Grumpy insists I go out for my health!

12.30-1.00    Coffee with Mr Grumpy

3.00-4.00      Write or edit

4.00-4.30      Afternoon tea with Mr Grumpy. (Mr Grumpy loves afternoon tea and cake!)

4.30-6.00      Write or edit

6.00-9.00.     Cook and eat dinner and maybe watch an hour of television

9.00-11.00    Write or edit and maybe check social media.

11.00-3.00    Either lie awake plotting, get up and write because I’m in the middle of a script and hate leaving it or drop off to sleep for a couple of hours and then lie awake.

Reading this back, I realise how dreadfully dull I am. I do take days off if I haven’t got a book to write.

  • What is the one thing you would tell your younger self?

Don’t worry about smashing out your front teeth… one day you’ll have a bridge instead of false teeth that keep slipping out and no one will any the wiser.

Thank again Carol. I have enjoyed having you appear in my blog today and really appreciate the time you took to answer my questions.

What Happens in France by Carol Wyer

Blog Tour

She stood and took her place in front of the camera… It was now or never”

Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.

With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye.

Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…

Chells and Books Review:

I would like to thank Canelo for asking me to review this book and for organising the blog tour. I would also like to thank Carol who agreed to appear on my blog for a QnA. (See my next post)

This is a brilliant read full of humour. Bryony has wanted to find her long lost sister and with her father having a stoke she has more urgency now. Now, Bryony goes about this in the most brilliant modern way of gaining attention by going on a game show in the hope that her sister will be watching. Throughout the process of keeping in the show a lovely romance blossoms.

Carol has created an uplifting, funny romance that has strong emotions running through it giving real meaning to the characters stories. This is far more than just a funny romance. I adored this read and found myself completely lost in Carols words.

As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.

Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

The Chance of a Lifetime by Kendra Smith

Blog Tour

A new life down under? It’s not as perfect as you’d think.

Katie and Tom’s marriage is in trouble. As is their bank account. So, when Tom tells Katie that they need to talk, she knows it must be about one of two things, and neither are good. But when he blind-sides her saying that his boss is sending him to Australia – permanently – Katie realises it might just be what they need to save their marriage.

Trouble is, she doesn’t like the heat, can’t swim and hates spiders. Not to mention the bouts of homesickness – and Tom’s endless business trips. Katie is finding the hope of saving their marriage slowly slipping through her fingers. But Katie is determined to take the bull by the horns – and her Speedos by the strap – and tackles her new life.

When all is said and done which side of the globe will she decide to call home

What others think:

‘An entertaining, fast-moving, page-turner for anyone dreaming of a new life’ Jane Corry, best-selling author of Her Dead Ex.

Chells and Books Review:

I would liked to thank Aria for asking me to review this book and to be part of the blog tour.

This is a lovely read and one I very much enjoyed. The vibrancy of the cover reflects well inside the book to some interesting characters. A marriage needs saving but will going across the globe save it? Poor Katie is going through some struggles and moving across the world might not be the the right move to make as first thought. This is a book filled with lots of action and interesting things happening.

I would have liked to have come away after reading feeling I really knew that characters and setting better but other than that it was a great read with some very funny moments thrown in.

A great debut from Kendra.

Kendra Smith has been a journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver and very bad cake baker. She started her career in Sydney selling advertising space but quickly made the leap to editorial – and went on to work on several women’s magazines in both Sydney and London. With dual Australian-British nationality, she currently lives in Surrey with her husband and three children.

Love Heart Lane by Christie Barlow

Blog Tour

Welcome to Love Heart Lane…

When Flick Simons returns to the small village of Heartcross she only expected to stay for a few days. The white-washed cottages of Love Heart Lane might be her home, but the place holds too many painful memories, and of one man in particular – Fergus Campbell.

When a winter storm sweeps in, the only bridge connecting the village to the main land is swept away! As the villagers pull together, Flick finds herself welcomed back by the friends she once left behind. And as the snow begins to melt, maybe there is a chance that Fergus’s heart will thaw too…

Chells and Books Review:

Firstly, I would like to thank Rachel Gilbey for organising this blog tour. As soon as I knew a new series was coming out from Christie Barlow I new I had to get my hands on a copy as quickly as possible.

Well as the blurb says Welcome to Love Heart Lane and what an absolutely brilliant setting we have for this story. Love Heart Lane is in the beautiful village of Heartcross in the Scottish highlands and here there is plenty of drama. It all starts with snow which is very apt at this moment in time and the arrival of Felicity, who is back home to face up to what she left behind. Her arrival home is met with mixed emotions from many of the locals and lots has changed. Felicity needs to get herself together to help sort out the village of Heartcross before everything is lost. Just when things seem to be calming down, the snow has stopped and his melting and friends are welcoming Felicity back with warm hugs heavy winds and rain appear leaving the village stranded as the only connection to Heartcross collapses. All the locals must pull together but they need a strong leader to guide them!

Felicity has an eventful welcome back to the village and not just with the locals and the weather but also with a certain handsome man she left behind and still loves. Christie has really excelled in her writing if that is even possible as her last book was just amazing and had me in tears. Love Heart Lane has my emotions all over the place too.

A brilliant read filled read full of hope, love and friendship. I am excited for what is next in the series.

Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, A Home at Honeysuckle Farm and Love Heart Lane. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA & Australia. 

Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with impoverished people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being as well as Literary Editor for http://www.mamalifemagazine.co.uk bringing you all the latest news and reviews from the book world.

The Foyles Bookshop at War by Elaine Roberts

Blog Tour

Swapping books for the bomb factory takes courage – and could be dangerous.

Working at the Foyles bookshop was Molly Cooper’s dream job. But with the country at war she’s determined to do her bit. So Molly gathers her courage, and sets off for the East End and her first day working at Silvertown munitions factory…

It’s hard manual labour, and Molly must face the trials and tribulations of being the ‘new girl’ at the munitions factory, as well as the relentless physical work.

The happy-ever-afters Molly read about in the pages of her beloved books have been lost to the war. And yet the munitions girls unite through their sense of duty and friendships that blossom in the most unlikely of settings…

What others think:

‘A delightful story of friendship, love and hope during the dark days of WW1. Elaine Roberts is a bright new star in the world of sagas’ Elaine Everest.

Chells and Books Review:

First I would like to thank Aria for asking me to review this delightful book and to be apart of the blog tour and to Elaine for answer my questions, which you will see in my next post or on my interviews page.

This is the follow on from The Foyles Bookshop Girls. We continue the journeys from the girls from the first book and see where they are know and what is going to happen to them now in the back drop of WW1. Molly whose dream job is to work in the bookshop decides that she must do her duty and goes to work in a munitions factory, however while here she comes up against some issues that even she did not see coming. As the war rages on can these girls keep the dreams that they read about in books alive? Read and find out, there are no give away’s here.

About the Author:

Elaine Roberts had a dream to write for a living. She completed her first novel in her twenties and received her first very nice rejection. Life then got in the way until she picked up her dream again in 2010 and shortly afterwards had her first short story published. Elaine and her patient husband, Dave, have five children who have flown the nest. Home is in Dartford, Kent and is always busy with their children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats visiting.

Look out for the next in the Elaine Roberts’ heartwarming series The Foyles Girls series, Christmas at the Foyles Bookshop, coming soon!

Interview with Elaine Roberts

Interview

I would like to welcome Elaine Roberts to Chells and Books and to say I am very excited you are here.

  • Please tell us a little about The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War and where the idea for the book came from?

Working at the Foyles bookshop was Molly Cooper’s dream job. However, with the country at war, she’s determined to do her bit, so Molly gathers her courage and sets off for the East End and her first day working at Silvertown munitions factory.

It’s hard manual labour and Molly must face the trials and tribulations of being the ‘new girl’ at the munitions factory, as well as the relentless physical work.

The happy ever-afters Molly read about in the pages of her beloved books have been lost to the war. However, the munitions girls unite through their sense of duty and, as a result, friendships blossom in the most unlikely of settings.

It was while I was researching for The Foyles Bookshop Girls, that I came across an explosion at the Silvertown munitions factory. The photographs showed the devastation, but it was the podcasts from the women who worked there that were so moving, as they were so accepting of the work they did. The health and safety in those days was almost non-existent.

  • This is a sequel, did you know how you wanted the characters journey to play out before writing or did you find the characters had a mind of their own? 

The three main characters developed their personalities in the first book. However, as with all of my books, detailed planning is necessary, regarding their individual journeys and the plot of the book itself.

  • How much research did you do for this book and what are the best ways that you find to go about doing research for a story idea?  

For the first book, The Foyles Bookshop Girls, I visited the museums, including the Imperial War Museum, and downloaded some of their podcasts. Archive libraries were also valuable, to gain more information. The Internet is a wonderful asset, although it is always best to check the information is correct. When I do research, I always involve my husband, Dave, because I have a tendency to get lost in all of the information gathering, especially on the internet.

I prefer to use reference books for that reason. I have a numerous amount of books on WW1, including recipe books, theatre shows, cinemas and a book that was written for a child. I purchased several old maps of London, which have enabled me to work out things like routes taken to work and often, to add a complication, I discover that road names have changed over time. I have pages of old newspapers, so that headlines could be mentioned in my novel. Pinterest is great for images of the time. The BBC Schools website is an excellent place to go, because it is factual, but written for children, so is easy to understand. I looked at the census for popular names at that time, as well as my own family tree.

  • How do you develop your plot and characters?

Some of the plot and character development is based on their individual back-stories, their history. Important dates and events have to be tied into the story, to make it factually correct, so that adds to the plot and the characters’ stories. I always do a chapter breakdown by scene and that enables me to see what my characters have ahead of them. Sometimes ideas come to me while I’m writing, so that means my chapter breakdown is a changeable document. I also get ideas through conversation, so I’m always using my voice memo on my phone to record the ideas.

  • Do you have a certain place where you like to write?

When I’m at home, I do have an office, which is ideal because my various research books and articles are to hand and it’s also a place that I can lock myself away and be relatively undisturbed. However, if I’m away from home for any reason, my laptop always goes with me. In fact, as I write this, I am at the hospital while my husband receives treatment.

  • Did you learn anything from this book while writing it?

At the time of writing my first book in the series, I’m ashamed to say I had no particular interest in the WW1 period, although I knew loads about WW2, but I wanted to write a family saga. Once I started the research, I came to realise that it became the backdrop for some major events in social history, particularly relating to the roles of women. They worked tirelessly and extraordinarily long hours, in conditions that put their own lives at risk. They were the unsung heroes, or should I say heroines, of the war. It is their actions that helped to get women the vote, and therefore changed all our lives.

  • What advice would you give to any budding writers?

Writing a novel is not the same as writing an essay. It does need to have structure, which I would suggest is one of the important things to learn. If you write historical, it’s important to incorporate the historical timelines with your characters and story timeline. The facts need to be correct, but delivered in a way that will hold the interest of the reader. Know your audience and believe in your characters, because if you don’t, the readers certainly won’t.

Above all else, don’t give up, no matter how many rejections. Make sure you learn your craft; try writing short stories and articles. I often liken it to someone who learns to play the piano at school – the fact that they have learnt to play doesn’t make that person a concert pianist. Likewise, learning to write doesn’t make you a novelist. Good luck.

  • What are your future projects?

There is a third book in The Foyles Bookshop Series, Christmas At The Foyles Bookshop, which is due to be released next year. Beyond that, I’m not sure yet, although I do have a few ideas floating about. I daren’t get too excited about them just yet because I’m easily distracted and a new project always seems more exciting than the one I’m working on at the time.

Thank you agin Elaine for taking the time to answer my questions.