Book Highlight: The Woolworths Saturday Girls, by Elaine Everest

We’re always happy to see a new novel out by our friend and fellow saga writer, Elaine Everest, and today we’re delighted to feature the latest in the Woolworths series, The Woolworths Saturday Girls.

1950. The Second World War is over and life has moved on for the Woolworth girls, Sarah, Maisie and Freda. In a new world the Woolworth women have high expectations of their daughters, wanting them to seize opportunities they didn’t have themselves. Ready to take on Saturday jobs at Woolworths, budding friends Bessie, Claudette, Clementine and Dorothy are faced with unforeseeable challenges as the real world comes into focus. Their bond can only be strengthened as they overcome the darkest times. Perhaps their lives are not as clear-cut as their mothers wished them to be . . .

When Bessie finds love in the wrong crowd and falls pregnant, the image of her future and ambitions become skewed and she relies on the Saturday girls to help her see her problems through – but how can they find a home for the baby when it arrives? With wild imaginations, it is up to the Woolworth girls, new and old, to save the day and their futures.

Can the Woolworth girls achieve their dreams in time for their futures to begin?

About Elaine:

Elaine Everest is the author of bestselling historical sagas including The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths and The Teashop Girls. She was born and raised in North-West Kent, where her much-loved Woolworths series is set, and worked as a Woolworths Saturday Girl herself in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Elaine has been a freelance writer for 25 years and has written over 100 short stories and serials for the women’s magazine market. She is also the author of a number of popular non-fiction books for dog owners.

When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She now lives in Swanley with her husband, Michael and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry.

You can find out more about Elaine on:

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Welcoming Rachel Brimble with A Very Modern Marriage

Today author Rachel Brimble is popping in to tell us about her latest Victorian saga.

Welcome once again to Write Minds, Rachel. First of all, tell us what inspired you to write A Very Modern Marriage?

This book is the final instalment in the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy so it was inspiration for the whole series rather than this particular book. I read The Five by Hallie Rubenhold which explores the lives of Jack the Ripper’s victims and (although it might sound gruesome reading) it evoked such deep empathy in me. I was completely immersed in how very different these women’s lives were and the circumstances that led to each of them ending up in Whitechapel.

I just had to write a series about three prostitutes in Victorian Bath who come together in the name of survival and, of course, give them the happy ever after they deserve!

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

As a writer of historical fiction, research is obviously hugely important. So much so, that it is often difficult to know when to stop researching and start writing! For the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy, my research mainly focused around the lives of Victorian prostitutes as well as the taverns, gentlemen’s clubs and shops of Victorian London and Bath.

I tend to concentrate on the relationships in my books more than anything else so I would say that the research is used to add colour, flavour and realism to the setting and the adventures my characters become involved in. I tend to read a LOT of fiction and non-fiction of the period as well as visiting our local history centre for pictures and letters etc from the time.

As for the time spent…I’d say probably around a month or so.

Is this book a one-off, or is it part of a series?

A Very Modern Marriage is the final book in the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy and tells Octavia’s story. The series revolves around three women, Louisa, Nancy (whose stories are told in A Widow’s Vow & Trouble For The Leading Lady) and Octavia who live and work together in a brothel in the Victorian city of Bath.

The books are a combination of drama, intrigue and romance with a whole cast of characters, both main and secondary, who interact and add to the fun of what is my favourite series to date!

What do you find the most difficult part of writing process?

Definitely plotting! I am a plotter at heart and could never write a book by ‘the seat of my pants’, BUT that does not mean it makes my writing process any easier. I agonise over characters’ goals, motivations and conflicts, worry that my initial idea won’t stretch to 90,000 words…it never ends!

I am currently writing my 30th novel, by the way…

That’s incredible, Rachel! Finally if you could tell your younger self anything what would it be?

Relax! I still tell myself that now and I’m 47, haha! I am slowly learning to not overthink things or anticipate what ‘might’ happen. I recently signed up for a self-awareness course and it has helped so much with my anxiety and tendency to jump ahead rather than living in the moment.

I already feel happier, more relaxed and enjoying each day for what it is 😊

That’s great to hear, Rachel. Thank you for taking the time to come and visit us once again, and the best of luck with A Very Modern Marriage.

A Very Modern Marriage

He needs a wife…
Manchester industrialist William Rose was a poor lad from the slums who pulled himself up by his bootstraps, but in order to achieve his greatest ambitions he must become the epitome of Victorian respectability: a family man.

She has a plan…
But the only woman who’s caught his eye is sophisticated beauty Octavia Marshall, one of the notorious ladies of Carson Street. Though she was once born to great wealth and privilege, she’s hardly respectable, but she’s determined to invest her hard-earned fortune in Mr Rose’s mills and forge a new life as an entirely proper businesswoman.

They strike a deal that promises them both what they desire the most, but William’s a fool if he thinks Octavia will be a conventional married woman, and she’s very much mistaken if she thinks the lives they once led won’t follow them wherever they go.

In the third instalment of Rachel Brimble’s exciting Victorian saga series, The Ladies of Carson Street will open the doors on a thoroughly modern marriage – and William is about to get a lot more than he bargained for…

BUY HERE

About Rachel

Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of over 25 published novels including the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy, the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin). In January 2022, she signed a contract with the Wild Rose Press for the first book in a brand new series set in past British Royal courts.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association as well as the Historical Novel Society and has thousands of social media followers all over the world.

To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click HERE

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Cover Reveal Day for Trouble in the Valleys

Today is cover reveal day for the latest novel in Francesca’s Wartime in the Valleys series

Today I’m delighted to present the cover and blurb for the latest in the Valleys series, Trouble in the Valleys.

Can Polly finally escape her haunting past?

Spring 1919: WW1 might be over, but the inhabitants of Dorcalon in the Welsh Valleys still feel the pain of the war that took so many of their men.

Polly Smith is trying to survive her own battle at home. Since her abusive husband, Gus, was finally jailed, Polly has been raising her two-year-old son, Herby alone.

But being a single mother isn’t easy, and Polly finds it harder still as Gus’s criminal activities leave her with a bad reputation. Lonely and struggling for money, Polly retreats as she becomes the subject of cruel gossip.

A job offer throws her a lifeline, and as she grows closer to soldier, Henry Austin, it seems that Polly might finally be changing her life – until dark secrets from her past emerge, threatening her new happiness. Can Polly clear her name? Or will the mistakes of the past ruin her future?

Trouble in the Valleys is out on 5th May and ready to pre-order now:

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Apple

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‘Very Adorable Darlings’ in the First World War

Francesca’s latest Wartime in the Valleys novel, Hope in the Valleys, features Elizabeth Meredith who becomes a VAD nurse on the French war front in the Great War. But what did that entail?

Apparently one nickname for the VAD nurses, working voluntarily in hospitals during the First World War, was ‘Very Adorable Darlings’, obviously using the initials to convey how the soldiers considered them. Although it’s nice to know they were appreciated, I can’t help thinking this undervalues their contribution to the war effort.

So who were the VADs? For a start, it stands for Voluntary Aid Detachment, an organisation created in 1909 with the support of the Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance Brigade, due to a fear that there would be a shortage of nurses to aid the military should there be a war. During the Great War (and Second World War) they were used in both hospitals in the UK and abroad where the soldiers were fighting. These ‘nurses’ were not trained like official nurses, but had taken first aid courses.

It wasn’t uncommon for them to be resented by the qualified nurses who thought it unfair that they should be called ‘nurses’ when they hadn’t done the same training. It didn’t help that the VADs were usually middleclass women, compared to the mainly working-class nurses. Usually they were given the dirtiest and most tedious jobs, like scrubbing, dealing with soiled dressings, emptying bedpans and cleaning up bodily fluids. And also the disposal of limbs. Some did work with nurses who valued their contribution and who trusted them with more complicated jobs.

Some of the books I’ve used to research VADs in the Great War

Those who, like Elizabeth, ended up near the war front in France, must have felt like they’d entered hell. Everything about it would have been harder than working in a hospital back home, where conditions would have been cleaner, not mud encrusted and covered with the detritus of explosions. The hospitals in Britain would largely have been dealing with soldiers who’d already been patched up in some way. It’s hard to imagine what horrors the nurses and VADs abroad encountered when men, often great numbers of them, descended upon a hospital at the front. There are reports of limbs blown off or hanging loose, gaping, festering wounds and skin and bone blown apart by gunshot. And then there were the severe mental health problems labelled at that time as ‘shell shock’, that we now call post-traumatic stress disorder.

The percentage of deaths on the front would have been way higher than anything they’d have encountered at a hospital back in Blighty. Many of the men would have been very young, not even considered adults, some probably small for their age as the underfed working classes often were back then. The VADs would have been reminded of their own fighting brothers, cousins, maybe uncles and fathers and many of their own sweethearts, knowing they faced the possibility of the same fate.

And by the way, the VAD nurses were not paid. The clue is in the word ‘Voluntary’. That’s right, they did it for nothing. Yes, they were mainly middle class and could afford to, but that shouldn’t be a cause to belittle their efforts. Having read many accounts of what they experienced, I can only admire them for their sterling work and dedication under horrific conditions.

A VAD in a ward I’m guessing was back in Britain, as the hospitals on the front tended to be makeshift huts and tents.

Hope in the Valleys

It’s August 1917 and WW1 continues to take a toll. The villagers of Dorcalon, a mining village in the Rhymney Valley, try to keep hope alive; but every day brings fresh tragedy as more of their sons and fathers are killed on foreign battlefields.

Elizabeth Meredith, daughter of mine manager Herbert, enjoys a privileged position in the village, but she longs to break free of society’s expectations.

Falling in love with miner, Gwilym Owen, brings more joy to her life than she’s ever known… until she’s forced to choose between her love and her disapproving family. Seeking an escape, Elizabeth signs up as a VAD nurse and is swiftly sent to help the troops in France, even as her heart breaks at leaving Gwilym behind.

Separated by society and the Great War, can Elizabeth and Gwilym find their way back together again? Or will their love become another casualty of war?

Hope in the Valleys is published by Hera Books and is available here:

All Amazon

Kobo: United Kingdom Canada Australia New Zealand United States

Apple

Waterstones

WH Smiths

Publication of Hope in the Valleys and News of a Competition

With the publication of Hope in the Valleys today, Francesca is celebrating with a competition in which you can win copies of the various Valleys books and other goodies.

What an exciting day, with Elizabeth’s (and Gwen’s) stories the next to be published in the third episode of the Wartime in the Valleys series.

To celebrate, there’s a chance to win signed books, ebooks and other goodies in a simple to enter competition. The first prize is signed paperbacks of all three books, plus a basket of goodies. Second prize is all three ebooks, with a box of goodies. Third prize is an ebook of Hope in the Valleys, plus a bag of goodies. The items selected are either retro or connected in some way to World War 1.

There are three great prizes to win.

Did you know that ginger nut biscuits, Garibaldi, custard creams, Nice, Bourbons and shortbread were all around a hundred a years ago? So were wine gums, aniseed balls, jelly babies, humbugs, pear drops and chocolate limes, a mixed bag of which has been included in each prize.

And a prize to do with novels set in Wales wouldn’t be complete without a pack of Welsh cakes, would it?

To enter the competition, head over to my Facebook page and either like or follow it. Then go to the post headed *Competition Time* and answer the simple question there in the comments.

Easy! Good luck / Pob lwc!

ENTER THE COMPETITION HERE: https://www.facebook.com/FrancescaCapaldiAuthor

Will Elizabeth choose love over duty?

It’s August 1917 and WW1 continues to take a toll. The villagers of Dorcalon, a mining village in the Rhymney Valley, try to keep hope alive; but every day brings fresh tragedy as more of their sons and fathers are killed on foreign battlefields.

Elizabeth Meredith, daughter of mine manager Herbert, enjoys a privileged position in the village, but she longs to break free of society’s expectations.

Falling in love with miner, Gwilym Owen, brings more joy to her life than she’s ever known… until she’s forced to choose between her love and her disapproving family. Seeking an escape, Elizabeth signs up as a VAD nurse and is swiftly sent to help the troops in France, even as her heart breaks at leaving Gwilym behind.

Separated by society and the Great War, can Elizabeth and Gwilym find their way back together again? Or will their love become another casualty of war?

Available here:

Amazon http://author.to/FrancescaCapaldiAuthor…

Kobo http://bit.ly/3uVQ8u2

Apple https://apple.co/3aNTiIg

Come and find me here:

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Good Afternoon, Good Evening and Good Night!

Francesca explains the Welsh expressions used in her Wartime in the Valleys books

Someone asked me a while ago about the Welsh phrases used in the Wartime in the Valleys series. Although it’s implied that my characters are speaking Welsh much of the time, as many would have in the Valleys a hundred odd years ago, I’ve been careful to use only a few expressions, to add a flavour of the area.

I think some people have struggled with these expressions so, as the third in the Valleys series is going to be published in a week, I thought I’d write a blog post including all the phrases used and their translations. I’ve been through all four books (as there’s another, Trouble in the Valleys, due out in the spring), so hopefully have found them all.

I’m not a Welsh speaker myself, as my Welsh mother wasn’t either, only speaking a few phrases, but I’ve been endeavouring to learn some on Duo Lingo. Whether I’ll ever feel proficient enough to talk to a native seems currently unlikely. Unless it’s to say ‘Bore da,’ to my Welsh speaking friend Angela Johnson (author of another novel set in Wales, Arianwen) as we meet for a coffee. It’s been an interesting experience, learning the language of my past ‘fathers’. I think my mum would have enjoyed the opportunity to have a go at Duo Lingo too, if such a thing had been around in her time.

My favourite Welsh phrase of my mother’s? Ych y fi! You have to hear it said to appreciate how much it evokes what it means, which is Ugh! But to give you an idea, it’s something like ‘uh-ch ah vee‘, where the ch is a guttural sound at the back of the throat.

As Truman Burbank (sort of) said in The Truman Show , ‘Bore da, and in case I don’t see ya, prynhawn da, noswaith dda a nos da!’

Bore da                     Good morning
Prynhawn daGood afternoon
Noswaith ddaGood evening
Nos daGood night
Hwyl fawrGoodbye
Diolch yn fawrThank you very much
  
Nadolig LlawenMerry Christmas
Siôn CornFather Christmas
  
Bach (m) / fach (f)An endearment (literally ‘little’)
CariadAn endearment (meaning ‘love’ / ‘sweetheart’
MamguGrandma
  
Ych y fi!Ugh!
O Duw!Oh God!
Diolch i Dduw!Thank God!
  
Y NewyddionThe News
Gymanfa ganuA singing festival
EisteddfodA competition including poetry and music
  
Songs: 
‘Y Delyn Aur’‘The Golden Harp’
‘Dawel Nos’              ‘Silent Night’
‘Calon Lân’               ‘A Pure Heart’
‘Ar Hyd y Nos’          ‘All Through the Night’
‘Suo Gân’                  ‘Lullaby’

Hope in the Valleys is out on 20th January, currently available as an e-book and paperback, and can be pre-ordered from these outlets:

Link to Amazon in all countries: author.to/FrancescaCapaldiAuthor

Kobo:

UK bit.ly/3uVQ8u2

Can https://bit.ly/3GL9LvF

Aus https://bit.ly/3ywSQZz

NZ https://bit.ly/34b6ljJ

US https://bit.ly/3nTUjor

Apple UK: https://apple.co/3cqsH5O

Waterstones: https://bit.ly/3spMiII

WH Smiths: https://bit.ly/34CHbxN

A Chance to Win Signed Copies of Heartbreak in the Valleys and War in the Valleys

It’s the first anniversary of the publication of War in the Valleys, and Francesca explains how you can win a signed copy of it, along with Heartbreak in the Valleys.

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since the publication of War in the Valleys, the second instalment of the Wartime in the Valleys saga series, set in Wales in the First World War.

To celebrate, I’m holding a competition to win signed copies of this novel, along with the first in the series, Heartbreak in the Valleys. Although all stand-alones as well as a series, this is a good opportunity to catch up with the stories before the third book, Hope in the Valleys, is released in January.

All you have to do is click on my Facebook author page and either like or follow it, then answer a simple question in the post pinned at the top of the page.

Pob lwc! / Good luck!