From Piano Playing To Writing

Francesca and Elaine are thrilled to have Mollie Walton as their guest on The Write Minds Blog today chatting about her writing life and what makes her happy.

Other than writing what else do you love to do?

I love to play classical piano. During the lockdown, I’ve been posting daily piano pieces on Facebook for three weeks. I’ve called it Piano Therapy, because it seems to help with anxiety. I’m loving learning new pieces and having a target to aim for. That’s a good thing in these strange days.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

I think there are snippets of me in all of my characters, probably, even the baddies! I try to identify with all of them, however far from me they seem. I wish I had the bravery of some of my characters. I hope I have some of their strength. I’ve had to be strong at various difficult times in my life, so I know how it feels to have to battle through something. That certainly helps me to identify with my saga characters, who I put through the worst of times, the poor things!

How do you select the names of your characters?

Mostly I look up the popular baby names in each character’s year of birth. I will also look at regional variations, such as with my latest trilogy, which is set in Shropshire. There are some names that are particularly common in that area, so I’ve chosen those too. This is especially true of surnames. I have a list of common Shropshire surnames and have only used names from that list for all my Shropshire characters. It’s great because then I’ve been contacted by Shropshire readers with the same name, saying how happy they were to see their surname immortalised in print!

If you could tell your younger self anything what would it be?

I would tell her not to worry so much about the future. Things have a way of working themselves out. I would also tell her to start writing novels earlier, as it took me years to finally get published!

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on Book 3 in the Ironbridge Saga, which will be out next April. It’s pretty hard to focus in the current climate. The words don’t come easy! But I’m getting a lot of the historical research done, which I find my brain finds easier to focus on. It’ll get done! It always does.

Do you have a favourite writing place?

I live in a very small bungalow, so I write at a desk in my bedroom! It’s very comfy and snug. I used to have neck problems so I have to use a decent chair and a raised monitor etc. If I don’t work at my desk, my RSI starts playing up again. So, that’s my best and most sensible writing place. I’d rather write in bed though!

What does success look like to you?

Writing is a funny old game. Just when you think you’re doing all right, the goal posts shift! For years, my aim has been to live solely from my writing and I’m just about to achieve that this year for the first time. So, that’s success to me, because it means I can afford to write and it’s actually paying its way. Writing is the only thing I ever wanted to do as a job, so if it pays enough to get by, that means I can keep doing it. And that not only means success to me, but also pure happiness!

Thank you,  Mollie, for sharing your wonderful day with us today. Read below about Mollie Walton’s The Secrets of Ironbridge.

Amazon Link: The Secrets of Ironbridge

The Secrets of Ironbridge, out now in e-book and out in paperback April 30th. It will be available in Tesco from that date and also in Morrisons from the end of June. Also available for order from independent bookshops and also all online book retailers:

1850s Shropshire.

Returning to her mother’s birthplace at the age of eighteen, Beatrice Ashford encounters a complex family she barely knows. Her great-grandmother Queenie adores her, but the privileged social position of Beatrice’s family as masters of the local brickworks begins to make her uncomfortable.

And then she meets Owen Malone: handsome, different, refreshing – and from a class beneath her own. They fall for each other fast, but an old family feud and growing industrial unrest threatens to drive them apart.

Can they overcome their different backgrounds? And can Beatrice make amends for her family’s past?

Mollie’s Bio

Mollie Walton is the saga pen-name of historical novelist Rebecca Mascull. She is currently a Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund at the University of Lincoln and she lives by the sea in the east of England.

Cover Reveal Day for Heartbreak in the Valleys

It’s time for Francesca to introduce the cover of her debut saga novel

I’m totally thrilled to be able to reveal the cover for Heartbreak in the Valleys today.
















I’m really pleased with the cover my publisher, Hera Books, has produced for me. It certainly catches the essence of the beautiful, brooding Welsh valleys.

It’s also newly available for pre-order as an ebook from several outlets:

Amazon                                                                                                                                                                                 Kobo                                                                                                                                                                                       Apple

Later in the year, it’ll be available as an audio book from Ulverscroft

More about the book and its genesis on this blog on publication day, June 10th.

Heartbreak in the Valleys

Anwen Rhys is devastated when her fiancé, Idris Hughes, ends their engagement. Discharged due to ill health from his Pal’s Brigade in the Great War, Idris finds it hard to come to terms with his untimely return to the mining village in the Valleys.

Set against a backdrop of loss and poverty, everyone in the village of Dorcalon is struggling. Coping with this burden, along with a drunk father, bedridden mother and ailing sister, Anwen takes up the position of maid in the mine manager’s house. Here she meets his daughter, the feisty Elizabeth. With her encouragement they start an allotment scheme to grow vegetables for the village, striving to combat the dire food shortage. Encouraged by their success, Anwen draws Idris in, hoping to lift his melancholy and help him integrate back into village life.

But both Anwen and Idris have gained enemies in the community, and it isn’t long before invisible forces gather to bring them down. Can they fight this together, or will mounting family difficulties destroy them?

Come and find me on:




The Perfect Day

Francesca and Elaine are thrilled to have Fenella Miller as our guest on The Write Minds Blog today chatting about her perfect day.

My perfect day would begin after an unbroken night’s sleep, one where I hadn’t had to get up three or four times to take painkillers or go to the loo and hadn’t been woken by my cat pouncing on my feet at four o’clock in the morning. I would have dreamed of riding along a deserted beach with Sean Bean for company. He would be in the persona of Richard Sharpe of course.

Fully rested, showered and dressed I would wander into the garden to listen to the dawn chorus before going inside to prepare a breakfast of croissant and real coffee. For medical reasons I haven’t had coffee or croissant for years.

I would then sit in front of my computer and dictate three thousand words of what is going to be the next bestseller without having once to stop and rummage through a dozen researchbooks to check a fact or three.

I would then drive to my husband’s care home, it would be sunny and warm, he would be waiting in his electrified wheelchair for me to take him for a walk along the promenade and then to a small outside café where he would enjoy a coffee and cake. More often than not it’s raining, he won’t be ready when I turn up and then the foot rests will fall off his wheelchair whilst we are out. Obviously, at the moment all I have is a few minutes face time on weekdays which breaks my heart.

On my return home at around two o’clock I’d have a delicious lunch sitting in the garden in the sunshine. After editing what I’d written the morning, I’d deal with social media where all my posts would be witty and upbeat and all my emails would be full of good news.

There would be cricket to watch on the television and England would be winning – of course – and I’d have a new Bernard Cornwall or Lee Child book to read over supper sitting in the garden once again. My son would ring discuss what we would be doing on our family day together – Sunday. After deadheading and watering, I’d watch television – Chicago Fire, The Good Doctor or The Rookie and head for bed around nine o’clock pleasantly tired and confident I’d not wasted my day.

  • I love to spend time with my husband and family. I also am a cricket fanatic so if England is playing anywhere in the world then I’ll be watching that, usually whilst reading a thriller or historical.
  • The only good thing about my enforced self-isolation is that I’ve got as much time as I want to write. I’ve just written a Regency and sent it for a professional proof read and from start to finish it took twenty-four days. Tomorrow I’ll start the third and final book in my current Regency series, The Reluctant Duke. I’m hoping to have time to write a Christmas Regency before I have to start the next book for my publisher which has to be in on October 11th. Two weeks ago I handed in the first of my new series, Girls in Blue, three stand-alone books about friends working in different sections of the WAAF.
  • Success for me is knowing that thousands of people enjoy reading my books – that I give happiness to so many with what I do. I’ll never be a bestseller, I’m a mid-list author, but I’m happy with that.

Thank you,  Fenella, for sharing your wonderful day with us today.  Read below about Fenella’s final instalment  of the Spitfire Girl series.

All’s fair in love and war for First Officer Ellie as she takes to the skies yet again in the final instalment of Fenella J Miller’s Spitfire Girl series.

1943, White Waltham. 

As Italy surrenders and victory looms on the horizon, Ellie’s doing what she does best – flying. And this time, she’s rising to the sky in four-engined Halifaxes. Determined to keep doing her bit, Ellie’s successes in the airfield mount but so do tensions with her new beau, Squadron Leader Jack Reynolds.

When Ellie and Jack find their dream home, they discover they’ve bought more than they bargained for. With a cellar full of secrets, Jack and Ellie must stand united in the face of mystery, war and loss. And as family circumstance threatens to tear them apart, Ellie and Jack are stronger than ever.

Amazon Link: The Spitfire Girls: Over and Out

Fenella J Miller was born in the Isle of Man. Her father was a Yorkshire man and her mother the daughter of a Rajah. She has worked as a nanny, cleaner, field worker, hotelier, chef, secondary and primary teacher and is now a full time writer.
She has over fifty Regency romantic adventures published plus four Jane Austen variations, four Victorian sagas and eight WW2 family sagas. She lives in a small village in Essex with her British Shorthair cat. She has two  adult children and three grandchildren.