Tag Archives: Romance

Spotlight – Forever at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn


Today I am hugely excited to spotlight the amazing Forever at Conwenna Cove by the lovely Darcie Boleyn.

Forever At Conwenna Cove was released on the 23rd April 2018 published by Canelo and is a romantic comedy perfect for this beautiful weather.


‘If you have never read a book by Darcie Boleyn you are definitely missing out.’ Rae Reads

Following heartbreak, Zoe Russell found a haven in Conwenna Cove. As the owner of the village diner and a volunteer for the local greyhound sanctuary, she’s happy with her peaceful life.

Local surfer Nate Bryson plans to leave Conwenna and see the world. He wants to shake off his reputation as a ladies man and start again somewhere new. Before departing, Nate decides to raise funds for the dog rescue home as a way of giving back to the community.

When Nate approaches Zoe to help with the charity event she sees there’s more to him than meets the eye. Nate can’t believe he’s failed to notice the kind and beautiful woman right before him. But can two such different people ever be together, especially if one of them is determined to leave?

Perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Phillipa Ashley and Sarah Bennett.

You can buy a copy of Forever At Conwenna Bay on kindle here


About Darcie Boleyn

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

You can find out more about Darcie on her website – www.darcieboleyn.wordpress.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @darcieboleyn

Or on Facebook here or Instagram here


Previously on Tales….

Check out previous Darcie Boleyn posts here on Tales…

Spotlight – A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn

Guest Post – Fab Five Romantic Moments by Darcie Boleyn


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Ellie at Canelo for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Forever at Conwenna Cove?  What did you think?  Do you like a nice summery romance?  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Characterisation by Ella Harper


I am over the moon to have the wonderful Ella Harper on Tales today to celebrate the release of If I Fall her new adult contemporary romance.

If I Fall is published in ebook by the lovely people at Canelo and is an unputdownable and emotional novel about love, loss and friendship.

So today Ella shares a fab guest post about Characterisation…..


I’m really sorry for what I’m about to do…

It’s fifteen years since graduation, and Connie, Jonas, JJ and Layla have managed to remain close despite the odds. They’ve supported each other, but are some things too big for friendship?

Connie is desperate to maintain the veneer of perfect family life.

Jonas is feeling the pressure at work.

Layla’s career is unravelling thanks to her ill mother

JJ’s past is catching up with him.

When they stumble and fall, who will be there to catch them?

A truly powerful and unforgettable story of love, friendship, and real life, If I Fall is perfect for readers of Alice Peterson, Amanda Prowse and Lianne Moriarty.


Praise for Ella Harper:

‘You won’t be able to stop reading’ Heat Magazine

‘Such a beautifully heart-breaking novel, written with such poise, strength and power.’ The Writing Garnet

I couldn’t put it down. I went without sleep to finish this book… If I Fall would definitely make my 2018 must-read list‘ Writerly Ways

Highly recommended, but be prepared for tears!’ Stardust Book Reviews

‘This book was heartbreaking but beautiful…Such a joy to read, while holding back tears’ Til Then Smile Often

‘Only very rarely does a book come along that captures me and engages me as much as this one did… But don’t despair, the ending was uplifting and filled with promise’ Bookish Bits

‘I finished the book with a whopping big lump in my throat but with joy in my heart’ JaffaReads

‘Wonderful, heart-breaking and poignant… The story touched me to the core with its deeply moving plot, beautiful characters and a unique, inspiring and insightful plot’ Read Day and Night

‘A great book to curl up with’ Daily Mail

‘I had tears in my eyes’ Bookworms and Shutterbugs

‘A beautiful emotional story… I shed quite a few tears while reading this book. It’s a marvellous must-read’ With Love for Books

‘I have a feeling this book will stay with me for a long time’ Lilac Mills

‘Warm, perceptive and razor sharp. It’s everything you want from a novel’ Veronica Henry


Characterisation

Back in the day, when I was first writing (as myself, Sasha Wagstaff), I used to have detailed notes about all of my characters. And when I say ‘detailed’, I really mean that. I would devote pages and pages to my characters – where my character shopped, what perfume they wore, their fashion sense, their food preferences.

Now, I spend just as much time working out who my characters are, but I keep neat, concise notes – roughly half a page long – which I check and add to as I’m working through the novel. I think the difference these days, is that I am more in tune with my characters once I’ve invented them. The one thing I spend a great deal of time deciding upon is the names of my characters. I use a really good baby naming book and I enjoy finding the right names for my cast. I was able to use far more flamboyant and unusual names in my earlier novels as they were escapist and set in glamorous locations, but for my Ella Harper novels, I use more relatable, normal names. But they still have to be absolutely right! Occasionally I start writing the novel using a certain name and decide halfway through that it isn’t sitting right for whatever reason and have to dig my baby naming book out again.

But apart from the name issue, I do find that my characters form themselves in more mind more readily now and I don’t feel the need for such detailed notes. I am aware mentally of each character’s personable style and behaviour and they feel very real to me from the off-set. If anything changes about them as I’m writing, I jot it down, but by and large, I flesh them out at the beginning and get their back story laid out. I remember when I was writing ‘The Years of Loving You’, I struggled with writing the present day and my very lovely editor suggested that I didn’t write in chronological order for once, but wrote the entire past and back story first. It was a revelation as I am a very ordered person and that seemed bizarre to me – but it worked! Once I had written the past, the present became obvious and clear to me and I knew who my characters were and how they would act in the present day. The beauty of a fabulous editor!

But I think the most important part of characterisation is making sure that each character is real and relatable to the reader. That their actions and thoughts are authentic. This is more important than the perfume or aftershave they might wear, although that may get a brief mention. Each character should be true to themselves and act in a way that seems fitting with the personality and history described. I miss my characters when I finish a novel – and I mean that, genuinely. I get very involved in their lives and they are real to me. And then I start all over again with a new novel…

You can buy a copy of If I Fall here


About Ella Harper

Ella Harper learned foreign languages, and imagined she might eventually get a glamorous job speaking French. After climbing her way up the banking ladder, Ella started idly mapping out the beginnings of a novel on an old laptop. When she realised her characters were more real to her than dividends and corporate actions ever could be, she left her job to become a writer.

You can follow Ella on twitter – @Ella__Harper


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Ella Harper for such a fab guest post and to Ellie at Canelo for organising and asking me to host!

Have you read If I Fall?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Why Florence? by T A Williams


Today I have the fab T A Williams on Tales as part of the blog tour for his new adult romance, Dreaming Of Florence.

Dreaming Of Florence was released on the 8th January published by Canelo and is the feel good read of the winter.

Today T.A. (Trevor) Williams tells us why he chose to set his latest book, Dreaming of Florence, in that wonderful Italian city in this fab guest post!


Fresh pasta, red wine, fine art… and love? Find enchantment this year in the magical city of Florence

When Debbie Waterson’s bicycle crashes into handsome doctor Pierluigi, she wonders if her luck has changed. Determinedly single after ending a long relationship, at last, a man worth bumping into!

Inspired to visit Florence, she soon runs headlong into that old foe: reality. But is Pierluigi the man of her dreams? Then there’s her booze obsessed boss, his forbidding secretary and her noisy inconsiderate neighbours. But could her luck be about to change? Will she find love after all?

Warm-hearted and unputdownable, Dreaming of Florence is the perfect escape for readers of Holly Martin, Tilly Tennant and Jenny Oliver


Why Florence?

They say you should write about what you know, so that’s what I’ve done. I know Florence really well and I love the place. I worked there for almost four years, living in a very historic, but very Spartan, eleventh century convent in the hills outside the city. The area is enchanting, the city stunning, and I’ve always wanted to write about the place.

Dreaming of Florence comes on the heels of Dreaming of Venice, and is going to be followed in the spring by Dreaming of St-Tropez – nobody can accuse me of writing about drab, boring places! They are also gorgeous places to visit on those all-important research trips. Although the titles are similar, these are all standalone books. The characters are all different, but the reader will find a few recurring themes in all of them. There’s always romance, there’s always a Labrador, and there’s always a happy ending. I like happy endings and feel, with the way the world is at the moment, we could all do with a bit of Happy Ever After.

The charm of Florence is its history and its architecture, as well as its geographical location – squeezed between the rugged Appenine mountains and the rolling hills of the Chianti region. But, as well as the place, I just love the people. Florentines are a law unto themselves – and always have been. They don’t suffer fools gladly and they don’t mince their words if they’re unhappy. But, in spite of this, they are wonderfully hospitable and generous, and I count my Tuscan friends among my dearest, closest friends.

The other wonderful thing about Florence is the food. I always try to describe the food and drink of the places I write about, and I found myself salivating as I remembered some of the wonderful meals I had when I lived over there. Florence maybe isn’t the best place in the world to be a vegetarian – the iconic bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine steak) is a huge slab of tasty steak about the size of a telephone directory  – and I mean one of the old telephone directories that strongmen did their best to tear in half with their bare hands. But there’s more to it than meat. There’s the bread for example. It may sound crazy, but Florentine bread is just terrific. It’s white bread, it comes in big round loaves that you slice, and it is completely unsalted. The first time you taste it, you may well think it strange – boring even – but I promise you it grows on you.

Then there’s the wine. Who hasn’t heard of Chianti? Nowadays it’s hard to find the old straw-covered flasks, but the taste is still the same. It’s a light red wine that you can still buy direct from the producers at farms tucked away in the hills. We used to buy our wine in 50 litre demi-johns (a huge glass ball encased inside a wicker basket) and then bottle it up ourselves. Please believe me when I tell you neither I nor my wife are alcoholics, but we used to get through a good deal of the stuff and I still miss it.

I hope I’ve been able to give the reader a true representation of this magical city in my latest book. If I inspired you to visit Venice after reading Dreaming of Venice, I really hope Dreaming of Florence will have you all hurrying off to book flights to Florence. Trust me – it’s worth it.

You can buy a copy of Dreaming Of Florence here


About T A Williams

T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.

You can find out more about T A Williams on his website – www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Or why not follow him on twitter – @TAWilliamsbooks

Or on Facebook here


Previously On Tales….

Click on the below links for previous post with T A Williams on Tales Of Yesterday!

The Research Behind Chasing Shadows

Five Interesting Things About Dreaming Of Venice

Spotlight – To Provence, With Love


Blog Tour

You can catch up of follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to T A Williams for a fab guest post and to Ellie at Canelo for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Dreaming Of Florence?  Are you intrigued?  Do you love a good romance novel?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – My Favourite Reality TV Shows by Stephanie Kate Strohm


It’s Christmas Eve and what better way to celebrate than to have a wonderful author here on the blog!

Today I have the super wonderful Stephanie Kate Strohm on Tales to celebrate the release of her new YA romantic comedy, Prince In Disguise published by Disney-Hyperion.

I was lucky enough to meet Stephanie this year when I chaired an event at Waterstones Birmingham and lots of laughs were had so I literally cannot wait to jump into this book!

Prince In Disguise finds our main character Dylan as part of a reality TV programme so I thought it would be great to hear all about Stephanie’s favourite reality TV guilty pleasures…..


Someday I want to live in a place where I never hear ‘You’re Dusty’s sister?’ ever again. Life is real enough for Dylan -especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress… if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.


My Favourite Reality TV Shows

I watch…a lot of reality TV. But I also read a lot of books, so I think it totally evens out! Prince in Disguise, my newest book, combines these two great loves, as it is a book about a reality TV show! When Dylan’s older sister Dusty falls in love with a Scottish lord on a reality dating show, the entire family is whisked off to Scotland to televise the wedding, much to Dylan’s chagrin. Like Dylan, I wouldn’t want to be on a reality show, but I do love watching them! Here are a few of my favourites:

Say Yes to the Dress 

Simple but brilliant. Brides head to Kleinfeld’s in NYC to shop for their dream dresses with the help of Kleinfeld’s stellar team of bridal consultants. Sometimes there’s drama caused by unsupportive family members, but there’s almost always a happy ending as the bride says yes to the dress. I could watch an infinite amount of these back-to-back-to-back, even though every bride with a budget over a certain amount ends up choosing the exact same Pnina Tornai gown.

My Fair Wedding with David Tutera

This show has since rebranded itself as first David Tutera: Unveiled and then David Tutera’s CELEBrations, but it is not as good as it was in the halcyon days of My Fair Wedding, specifically the masterpiece that is Season 3. Celebrity wedding planner David Tutera helps brides short on time, money, or organizational abilities miraculous pull together their dream weddings. The themes – and the weddings – became increasingly elaborate as time went on, often with such high production values that they looked more like film sets than weddings. My beloved Season 3 brought up such treasures as a Phantom of the Opera wedding, a Wizard of Oz wedding, an Alice in Wonderland wedding, and a mini-truck wedding. (That’s right. The theme of the wedding was small trucks.)

 Four Weddings

The weddings on Four Weddings are never the over-the-top confections David Tutera might dream up, and in some ways, that’s part of their appeal. Four strangers from the same area meet and then attend each others’ weddings, ranking them in such categories as dress, venue, food, and overall experience. There’s something kind of evil but also deliciously fun about watching people say out loud all the judgmental things you think when you’re at your cousin’s/sorority sister’s/whoever’s wedding.

 Top Chef

The only thing I love more than weddings is eating. (So if your wedding has really great food, yes, it would be my ideal event!) There are a lot of reality TV cooking competitions (see: basically all of Food Network and Cooking Channel), but for me, nothing beats Top Chef. I love getting to know the chefs and their stories, I love the challenges and the different restaurants and farms they visit, but most of all, I love seeing plate after plate of delicious food. The only thing it’s missing is some romance. If a few more of these chefs would start kissing each other, then it would literally be a perfect show.

Special UK Bonus 

When I was on vacation in England, I caught an episode of The Geordie Shore. It was like Jersey Shore, but way better! I quickly became obsessed and spent way too much time watching it. I have since read all of Charlotte Crosby’s books and done her 3 Minute Belly Blitz workout. Since no one in the states knows who Charlotte Crosby is, I have no sense of how embarrassed I should be about this. (Like, for example, I would never admit to anyone that I’d done Snooki from Jersey Shore’s workout, if such a thing existed.)

Prince In Disguise is out now and you can by a copy here


About Stephanie Kate Strohm


STEPHANIE KATE STROHM is also the author of Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, Confederates Don’t Wear Couture, The Taming of the Drew, and It’s Not Me, It’s You. She works as an actress and teacher in Chicago. Visit her website at www.stephaniekatestrohm.com and on Twitter @stephkatestrohm.


A huge thank you to Stephanie for such a fab guest post and to Amy at Disney-Hyperion for getting in touch about hosting.

Have you read Prince In Disguise?  What did you think?  Do you enjoy reality TV?  What are your favourites?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guet Post – The Perfect Christmas Book by Katey Lovell


Today I finally have one of my most favourite humans ever on the blog –  the amazing and super wonderful Katey Lovell to celebrate the release of her new Christmassy romantic comedy, Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown!

Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown was released in paperback on the 30th November published by Harper Impluse and is set to get you in the Christmas mood!

“Warm and romantic, every page is sprinkled with Christmas magic”  Cressida McLaughlin, author of The Canal Boat Café

So as it’s nearly Christmas and we are looking for the perfect Christmas read to snuggle up by the fire with I asked Katey exactly how to write the perfect Christmas book…..


This Christmas she’ll give her heart to someone special…

As Christmas approaches Joe Smith knows he should be celebrating with friends and family, making the most of the season. But for Joe, Christmas only holds painful memories. Ones he can feel crushing his heart, a reminder of a time he can never forget.

Clara O’Connell loves Christmas. For her it is the most magical time of the year. And she’s determined to make Joe love it too! She knows he’s hurting, but maybe she can help to ease his pain. Her plan: One special gift every day to remind Joe just how loved he is.

But the clock is ticking. Will the Christmas magic wear off at midnight or will Clara’s Christmas countdown be the perfect gift to heal Joe’s broken heart? And in doing so, maybe she will get a gift in return…Joe’s love for Christmas and forever…?


The Perfect Christmas Book

When the wonderful Chelley invited me to guest on her blog I was thrilled – she’s such a force to be reckoned with in the publishing industry, known and loved by everyone.  However, when I asked what she wanted me to talk about and her reply was ‘how to write the perfect Christmas novel’ I could feel the imposter syndrome creeping in.  I’m very proud of my festive release Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown, but perfect?  There’s a lot of weight in that word, but I am going to share how I wrote this book, step by step.

Have a ton of ideas, reject most of them, hone the good one

As I was reaching the end of drafting my second novel, The Café in Fir Tree Park, my editor Charlotte Ledger and I were in discussions about what to do next.  I was really keen to write a festive novel and tentatively suggested my ideas.  Our favourite was based around an office secret santa, but Charlotte felt the office setting had the potential to be too dry.  I wanted charity to be a big theme in this book and after dismissing the idea of setting the book in a foodbank (although there is a scene at a foodbank in the novel) ran with it centring around a fictional Manchester youth club.

Make notes on anything and everything Christmassy

Throughout October 2016 I carried my notebook everywhere and made a ridiculous amount of notes.  I asked friends what their favourite aspects of Christmas were, queried Twitter and Facebook on what they thought were ‘musts’ for a festive read (tinsel, mulled wine and Santa, apparently) and thought about how my characters were going to develop over the course of the novel.  I also came up with a title at this point, which was eventually tweaked only slightly (when the male protagonist’s name changed).

NaNoWriMo 2016

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) takes place every November and encourages writers to draft 50,000 words in 30 days.  I still had 20,000 words left to write to complete The Café in Fir Tree Park but, knowing that it would be easier to write a Christmas novel in winter, I surrounded myself with mince pies and decided to also write the first half of the Christmas book.  By the end of the month I had ‘won NaNo’ and had the first 30,000 words of what would become Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown.

Finish the book!

This stage took a while.  I had a much-needed month away from writing over Christmas and struggled to get back into the routine of writing afterwards, especially after the tree came down and Christmas was over for the majority of people.  Thankfully I’m friends with other writers who were in the same predicament and so our fictional Christmases continued in parallel.  I finally finished the first draft in May 2017.

Edit, edit, and edit some more

Personally, I always find structural edits (big changes to plot, the order events take place in, adding in subplots or additional characters) difficult.  One change often starts off a chain and it felt at times as though the novel I’d worked so hard to build was falling like one of those tracks of dominos where you touch one and the whole lot fall down.  However, I had the experience of knowing I could edit a book because I’d done it before (twice!) and knuckled down to get stuck into polishing my Christmas book.

Next came the line edits, where as well as working on editors suggestions I was keen to inject even more festive sparkle into the book.  I wanted it to be 100% Christmassy!  This is where I developed a lot of the outdoor scenes such as the one at the skating rink and at the Christmas market, to ensure I was encapsulating the magic of the traditions of Christmas in my words.

Finally, in August 2017, it was time for the proofread – the end was in sight!  I must admit that by now I was all Christmassed out – I challenge even the most avid Christmas fanatic to feel in the mood for listening to Shakin’ Stevens in temperatures nearing 30 degrees.

Let it go

As Elsa so wisely said in the Disney hit ‘Frozen’, there comes a time where you just have to let it go.  For authors, that time is publication day, when ownership is no longer yours and your publishers, but your readers.

When Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown was released in October I was nervous – would people like the idea enough to buy it?  Thankfully, people have and I’ve been fortunate that bloggers, authors and readers have shared their kind words about the book online.

So that’s my experience of writing a Christmas book – it was jolly hard work, but worth every tinsel-filled moment.  If what you’re dreaming of this Christmas is writing a festive novel I’d encourage you to go for it, and sprinkle glitter on every single page.

You can buy a copy of Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown here or from your local bookshop


About Katey Lovell

Katey Lovell is the author of three commercial women’s fiction novels published by Harper Collins’ imprint HarperImpulse. Her novels are about people overcoming everyday challenges with the support of their friends, family and local community. She has also penned a series of coffee-break romances (also published by HarperImpulse) and a hot romance for Tirgearr’s City Nights series.

Originally from South Wales, Katey now lives in Sheffield with her husband and son. When she’s not writing she’ll most likely be found watching musicals, enjoying live music or reading anything and everything she can lay her hands on.

You can follow Katey on twitter – @Katey5678


A huge thank you to Katey for such a fab guest post and for sharing so much about her writing process.

Have you read Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown?  What did you think?  Do you read Christmas reads in the lead up to Christmas?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

 

Spotlight – To Provence, With Love by T A Williams


I am super happy to have been asked to feature 4 brilliant excerpts from To Provence, With Love from the wonderful T A Williams as part of this fab blog tour.

To Provence, With Love was released on the 12th July 2017 on e book published by HQ Digital and is set to be a brilliant adult fiction romance novel with a beautiful setting.

So today I am shining the light on this gorgeous book…..



Escape to the south of France with this perfect feel-good summer romance!

 Struggling writer Faye Carter just can’t believe her luck. She’s off to Provence to write the autobiography of a famous film star and she’ll be staying in the stunning chateau!

So when she meets charming (and completely gorgeous) lavender farmer, Gavin, she knows that she’s made the right choice – even if glamourous, elderly Anabelle seems to be hiding something…

But when the sun is shining, the food is delicious and the air smells of honey, anything seems possible. Will the magic of Provence help Faye finally find a happy-ever-after of her own?


To Provence, with Love – Excerpts

Excerpt One

  The dog stopped dead, only a few feet from Faye and waited for his master. She was impressed and relieved. She loved dogs, but she was on her way to an interview after all, and the last thing she needed was to be leapt upon by a dog, however friendly his intentions might be. She took a step back and studied the man surreptitiously as he approached.

   He was wearing a battered T-shirt that had once advertised a Rolling Stones European tour. From its faded appearance, the tour in question had probably taken place in the years before the surviving members of the group had reached pensionable age – and that was a good while ago. On his feet were equally scruffy trainers and his strong, brown legs ran a long way up before disappearing into his sand-coloured shorts. He had hold of the dog by the collar and was bending over. Sensing her eyes on him, he looked up towards her and, to Faye’s considerable surprise, she realised that he was very, very good-looking. Somehow, out here in the wilds of deepest rural Provence, she hadn’t expected to meet a man whose face could have come off the front cover of a fashion magazine. She swallowed hard before answering.

   ‘Afraid so. Totally lost. I’m looking for St-Jean-sur-Sarde; the chateau to be precise. I was told to follow the signs for St-Jean and then turn right after the restaurant in the centre of the village. Only I can’t seem to find any road signs at all and I’m just going round in circles.’

   The man nodded. Satisfied that the dog wasn’t going to jump all over Faye, he released his grip on the collar and reached up to pull off his sunglasses. As he did so, Faye noted the network of lines around his eyes that would no doubt have been airbrushed away by a photographer. As it was, they only served to add character to an already remarkable face. His eyes met hers for a second before he dropped them again and, in spite of herself, Faye was fascinated. They were the most amazing and unusual colour; a very light yellowy brown. They gave her the surreal sensation of looking into the eyes of a lion or a tiger – and a very fine-looking male of the species, although by the look of him, a rather unhappy male of the species. She was wondering why the expression on his face was so glum when he shot a glance at her, his expression not exactly hostile, but definitely lacking in warmth.

Excerpt Two

   As she opened the car door, she heard a cacophony of barking and came close to closing the door again and locking it. It sounded as if the Hound of the Baskervilles himself was in there, straining to get out. Cautiously, she made her way up the steps until she was level with the half-glazed front door that was visibly shaking. By this time, Faye was also close to shaking. The door, set into a carved stone surround, was made of sculpted oak and, thankfully, it looked solid, even though the upper half was made up of little square red, white and blue stained glass panels. Staring at her through the base of one of these, was the source of the noise. A shiny black nose and an intimidating set of gleaming white teeth were very much in evidence, as were a pair of bright eyes that studied her approach. Then, as she and the dog made eye contact, the barking suddenly stopped, leaving Faye’s ears ringing. The dog dropped back to the floor, and in place of the barking, she heard low whines emanating from inside.

   At that moment, the door was opened by a slim, grey-haired man in jeans and a crisp white T-shirt, his other hand firmly gripping the dog’s collar.

   ‘Good morning. You must be Faye. We’ve been looking forward to meeting you.’

   He spoke in English, with a soft American accent, and he might have been seventy or so. He shot a glance down at the dog, who was wagging his tail so hard, the whole back half of his body was wiggling. ‘You must tell me your secret. I’ve never seen Marlon so pleased to see somebody before. I’ll let him go if you’re all right with dogs. He’ll probably try to jump up at you, but just push him down.’

   Faye looked at the dog whose intentions were now unmistakably friendly and nodded her head. ‘Hello, yes, I’m Faye Carter. Do let him go. I’ll be fine.’

   A split second later she found herself pinned back against the door by a pair of hefty, mercifully clean, paws; a big hairy Labrador head stretching upwards, a pink tongue trying unsuccessfully to reach her face. Marlon was definitely very, very pleased to see her. She recovered her balance, persuaded the dog to return to all fours and bent down to stroke him. As if by magic, feeling her touch, he slid down onto the floor and rolled over, all four legs in the air, emitting an assortment of happy canine grunts, his tail still wagging furiously, doing a very efficient job of sweeping the polished oak floor.

   ‘That’s quite amazing.’ The grey-haired man was still looking very surprised. ‘We normally have to shut him in the kitchen when somebody comes to the door.’ He stepped to one side and waved her in formally. ‘Anyway, welcome to St-Jean, Faye. My name’s Eddie Marshal. I’m Miss Beech’s PA.’

Excerpt Three

   Before they reached the Coq d’Or, Marlon led her off to the left along a narrow path and Faye was happy to unclip the lead from his collar and let him make the decisions as to where they should go. He was very well behaved and didn’t attempt to run too far ahead as they followed the path alongside a dry gulley running down towards the river in the valley below. From the collection of bone-dry branches and weeds caught in the bushes lining the gully, it was clear that this would turn into a raging torrent after heavy rainfall, but for the moment, there was no sign of water at all. Everything around them was terribly dry, the grass burnt brown by the sun. She picked up a stick and threw it for the dog. He ran for it, picked it up, but then steadfastly refused to bring it to her. Clearly somewhere along the line, his brain hadn’t quite got the hang of the retriever part of his ancestry.

   As they walked along, a succession of startled lizards ran frantically for cover and Faye found herself hoping there were no snakes about, and this reminded her of her father. She had texted him as soon as she had reached the chateau to let him know she was safe and well, and she resolved to call him later to tell him all about her first day. All around there was virtual silence, and for somebody used to the never-ending background hubbub of London, it was almost disconcerting. After a short distance, threading their way between dry stone walls, covered with wild vines, and among ramshackle old buildings, Marlon, still carrying his stick, turned left once more and led her over a bridge composed of a single irregular slab of limestone, well over six feet long. Faye wondered how many centuries it had been lying there and how on earth the people who had laid it had been able to do so in an era surely long before motorised cranes and mechanical diggers.

   On the other side of the bridge, she saw her first human being.

   ‘Hello, Marlon. Who’s this you’re taking for a walk, then?’ The voice came from the owner of a very large shaggy mongrel that looked like a cross between a sheep and a grizzly bear. From the wagging of tails that was going on, clearly Marlon and he were already on good terms, which was just as well because Faye had no illusions as to her chances if it came to having to step in to stop a dogfight with this monster. The dog’s owner, on the other hand, looked big and strong enough to separate a pair of fighting wolves, if he had to. He looked down at her, fortunately with a smile. ‘You’ll be the young lady who’s going to be staying at the chateau, I daresay?’

   Faye nodded and took a good look at the owner of the Beast of St-Jean. They say that dogs and owners often come to look alike and this pairing certainly added weight to that hypothesis. The man, maybe in his late thirties or early forties, was the size and shape of a wardrobe, with a hairstyle, if, indeed it could be called a style, not dissimilar to that of his dog. Fortunately, he was still smiling benignly at Faye and she summoned a nervous smile in return.

   ‘Yes, that’s right. I’ve just arrived. My name’s Faye. How did you know I was coming?’ She wondered for a moment whether this man mountain might in some way be related to Miss Beech, and it turned out she wasn’t far off the mark.

   ‘Name’s Albert. I’m the man who’s just spent a week redecorating the flat above the stables for you. My mum’s Miss Beech’s housekeeper and I do the garden and stuff.’ He extended a huge paw towards her in greeting. Gritting her teeth, Faye reached out and let him envelope her hand and shake it, mercifully remarkably delicately.

Excerpt Four

   Faye went over and clinked her glass against Miss Beech’s, then Eddie’s, and took a mouthful. She watched as Miss Beech sipped her drink pensively before looking up. ‘Here’s something you can put in the book, Faye. They say alcohol slows the activity of the brain, but every time I drink champagne, my mind’s flooded with memories of so, so many good times.’ She stared down into the wineglass. ‘To be quite honest, I’ve never really liked the stuff that much. Those bubbles always seem to go up my nose, but it’s what it represents, I suppose.’

   ‘Well, I haven’t had the opportunity to drink enough champagne in my life to develop a special taste for it, but this is gorgeous. By the way, talking of wine, thank you so much for all the food and drink you’ve put in the flat. The fridge is absolutely packed.’ As Miss Beech made a dismissive gesture with her hand, Faye took another mouthful of champagne. It really was excellent. She pulled up an ornate wooden stool and sat down to one side of Miss Beech, directly in front of the fireplace. ‘So, go on then, what’s running through your mind at the moment? What memories has this sip of champagne awakened?’

   There was a moment’s silence while Miss Beech reflected on the question and then, to Faye’s surprise, she started giggling like a schoolgirl once more. ‘To be totally honest, Faye, it reminds me of the night I tipped a bucket full of ice into my leading man’s lap in an Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills.’

   Faye gasped, feeling a fit of the giggles rising up inside her as well. ‘You did what?’ She watched as Miss Beech dissolved into laughter, her whole face flushed with pleasure as the memory returned. ‘It was at the end of a day’s filming of Faded Heart.’ Faye knew this to be one of Miss Beech’s best-known films. ‘All that day we’d been riding around on horses. As I recall, I was trying to show him how the stunt boss had been teaching me to jump onto a moving horse.’ She looked up. ‘We did a lot of our own stunts in those days, not like today – and as I leapt to my feet and stretched out one leg to demonstrate, my foot hit the bucket and … splash!’

   Faye was laughing by now. ‘Who was the leading man?’

   ‘Charlton Heston.’

   ‘Wow, and what was his reaction? Was he angry?’

   Miss Beech shook her head. ‘Not at all. He laughed his head off. Said it cooled him down. He was a good, kind man, was Chuck. Not like some others I could mention.’

You can buy a copy of this fab book here

Or why not add it to your Goodreads list here


About T A Williams

I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, “Dirty Minds” one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn’t possibly comment. Ask my wife…

I’ve written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I’m enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job.

I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.

I’ve been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she’s right.

You can find out more about T A Williams on his website – www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Or why not follow him on twitter – @TAWilliamsbooks

Or on Facebook here


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to T A Williams for letting me share some fab excerpts of the book.  Also a huge thank you to Faye for asking me to be part of the blog tour.

Have you read To Provence, With Love?  Are you intrigued?  Do you love a good romance novel?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Cover Design for One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman


Today I have a fantastic insight into the cover design process to celebrate the release of One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman.

One Silver Summer was released on the 25th May 2017 published by Old Barn Books as it set to be a gorgeous summer read.

‘Loved it. A book bursting with my guilty pleasures.’ Sophia Bennett; ‘I loved reading One Silver Summer. It kept me captivated all of Friday afternoon, and all weekend I felt like a little part of me was still in Cornwall, surrounded by swirling mists, galloping along a beach.’ –Natasha Farrant

‘I loved One Silver Summer. A gorgeously swoony tale of first love and beautiful horses set in a Du Maurier inspired Cornwall of rocky beaches and crumbling castles. Perfect for fans of Lauren St John, this fills a gap in the younger teen market for well written, thrilling, romantic stories.’ –Fiona Noble

Looking at that beautiful cover made me curious about the process behind it and how it suited the book so today Rachel tells us just that……


After losing her mum in an accident, Sass is sent to live with her uncle in England. Far from her native Brooklyn, the rocky shores and crumbling castles of Cornwall seem like the perfect place to hide her grief. And when she stumbles across a silver horse in a sunlit meadow Sass feels a surprising sense of peace…only to have it broken by a boy. Arrogant and distrustful, the horse’s trainer, Alex, doesn’t approve of the trespassing American. Yet after a few chance meetings, he begins to feel a connection to the curious girl with the sad eyes, and offers to teach her to ride. Sass never expected to feel anything again – least of all love – but the lessons reveal a far different Alex, and soon their friendship turns into something more. But Alex has a secret – a bombshell about his family that could shatter Sass’s trust…and force him to abandon the one girl who made him believe in himself.


Cover Design

Helen Crawford White and I have worked together for about 100 years at Chicken House. She’s a very patient person. Helen’s also hugely creative. She designs, draws and paints – and is digitally brilliant. She also does ballet. I suppose we work well together because I like covers to be true to the books they represent, but most of all – stand out. The best example of this is Children’s Book of the Year and Waterstones Children’s Prize winner, The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave which not only had a beautiful cover with French flaps and hand-painted colour maps (echoing the heroine’s map-making skills), but we made the design integral to the story, printing the book – unusually – in navy and orange.

So when I was lucky enough to see my own book, One Silver Summer, published by Scholastic Inc. NY and Old Barn Books, I knew there was one designer, I could suggest, who would capture the spirit of the book. Both sides of the Atlantic agreed which never happens!

The cover brief began with a scrap-book on Pinterest:

https://uk.pinterest.com/rachelhickman44/one-silver-summer-by-rachel-hickman/ 

I love it when authors at Chicken House tell me they have a Pinterest page because you get to see into world-building beyond words.

Helen then created a mood board so we could arrive at the right styling:

file:///C:/Users/Win8/Downloads/OneSilverSummermoodboard.pdf

Following this, with a number of composition suggestions:


 

 

 

 

 

 

file:///C:/Users/Win8/Downloads/OneSilverSummercomposition.pdf

For the US market, Scholastic went for hand-lettering and a painterly dip-dyed blue sea and Cornish castle….

….while Old Barn went for a contemporary take on old-school summertime-adventure and romance, borrowing from Daphne Du Maurier, or Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. Most of all, both publishers wanted to capture the atmosphere of a wild and lush Cornwall.

Helen then set about drawing and painting the images, piecing them together on her Mac like a jigsaw.

With the addition of kind endorsements and a cracking blurb, the cover came together. Discussions ensued with the printer about finishes: to foil or use a special metallic Pantone silver. Both! Rose-gold foil edges finish the flowers. Add a shell-pink contrast inside cover with more quotes and an author biog et voila! Team OB even got to see the book on press thanks to CPI in Kent.

You can buy a copy of One Silver Summer here or from your local bookshop!


About Rachel Hickman

Rachel Hickman is a founding Director of Chicken House Books. She wanted to work in children’s books since joining the Puffin Club as a child and has lived that dream for over 25 years. Having worked with some of the most famous names in children’s publishing, including Roald Dahl, Dick King-Smith, Ursula Moray Williams and Posy Simmonds, Rachel has at last put pen to paper for her own first novel of love, loss – and horses. Rachel lives in the countryside in Hampshire with her husband, two children, the dog and, of course, her horse.

You can follow Rachel on twitter – @Hickman_Rachel


A huge thank you to Rachel for a fab post and insight into the cover design for One Silver Summer and to Liz at Old Barn Books for asking me to host.

Have you read One Silver Summer?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Five Interesting Things About Dreaming Of Venice by T A Williams


I am super happy to have been asked to feature another brilliant guest post from the wonderful T A Williams as part of this fab blog tour organised by PR Extraordinaire Faye Rogers.

Dreaming Of Venice was released on the 24th April 2017 on e book and is set to be a brilliant adult fiction romance novel with a beautiful setting and a little comedy.

Today T A Williams tells us a little more about Dreaming Of Venice…..


Find love, friendship and prosecco – in the magical city of Venice.

Life is tough for Penny. A dead end job in a London café, a boyfriend in Australia (what could go wrong?) and an art career going nowhere. But then Penny is approached with an extraordinary proposition.

It isn’t going to be easy but, if she can pull it off, she will turn her life around and at long last see the fulfilment of her dream – to visit Venice. And, just maybe, find true happiness with the handsome man of her dreams.

But can dreams come true?


Five Interesting Things About Dreaming Of Venice

I have to confess that Venice is one of my favourite places in the whole world. Choosing to set a book in that enchanting city was, therefore, a very logical step and it gave me the chance to wallow in my memories of a city that is without question unique in the world.

So, five interesting or surprising things about the book, eh?

It may come as a surprise to readers to find that our heroine, Penny, doesn’t actually get to Venice until about halfway through the book. Of course, she’s constantly dreaming of visiting Venice (hint: the clue’s in the title) and everything in the first half of the book is leading inevitably to that glorious moment when her plane comes in low over the lagoon and lands at Marco Polo airport. From then on, it’s Venice all the way.

I always try to put a big black dog in all my books (it’s a long story and I won’t bore you with it here), but with Venice there was a problem. You see, dogs need space to walk, to explore and, <polite cough>, to poop. Venice has very little in the way of grass or open spaces for dogs so I decided to insert the black Labrador into the first half of the book that takes place in England. Hence the canine exercise and poop problem was averted.

The hotel in Venice where Penny goes to stay is the world-famous Hotel Danieli. If you’ve ever seen a movie called The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, you will recognise it. The Danieli has hosted princes, presidents, celebrities and, two years ago, me. My wife and I got a really good deal just before last Christmas and had the chance to sample the lap of luxury for ourselves. Fabulous, and not in the least bit snooty as I had expected. A great historic, beautiful hotel with helpful, friendly staff. If you win the lottery, try it!

I’ve wanted for some time to write a book dealing with the phenomenon of love at first sight. Does it exist? As far as Penny is concerned, at least at the start of the book, the answer is very definitely NO. She even comments on it. “Surely it’s impossible. I mean, the man could be a mass murderer or, even worse, a house agent or something.” As the book develops, she finds herself hearing about it time and time again. Could it really be a thing?

Finally, when she gets to Venice, Penny spends half her time there getting lost. I can quite honestly say that this is not just poetic license. It really happens. I like to think I have a reasonably good bump for direction, but my wife and I regularly got lost in the maze of narrow alleys that make up the old town. It’s a truly fascinating place where you can feel the history oozing out of the brickwork all round you. Set off for a walk and who know where you will end up?

So, in conclusion, although I am in no way sponsored by the Venice Tourist Board, my advice to anybody reading this would be to start saving up. It’s not cheap, but Venice is unique and unforgettable. I hope at least some of its charm spills over into “Dreaming of Venice”.

You can buy a copy of Dreaming Of Venice here

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here

You can also find previous posts from T A Williams on Tales by clicking on the below links….

The Research Behind Chasing Shadows


About T A Williams

My name is Trevor Williams. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, “Dirty Minds” one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn’t possibly comment. Ask my wife…

My background, before taking up writing full time, was in teaching and I was principal of a big English language school for many years. This involved me in travelling all over the world and my love of foreign parts is easy to find in my books. I speak a few languages and my Italian wife and I still speak Italian together.

I’ve written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I’m enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. My most recent books are the What happens… series. What happens in Tuscany reached #1 in the Amazon.uk Romantic Comedy chart and What Happens on the Beach, the last in the series, came out in July. Chasing Shadows is still romance, but with the added spice of a liberal helping of medieval history, one of my pet hobbies. I do a lot of cycling and I rode all the way to Santiago de Compostela on a bike a few years back. This provided both the inspiration and the background research for Chasing Shadows.

I’m originally from Exeter, and I’ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away down here in south west England. I love the place.

You can find out more about T A Williams on his website – www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Or why not follow him on twitter – @TAWilliamsbooks

Or on Facebook here


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to T A Williams for a fab guest post.  Also a huge thank you to Faye for asking me to be part of the blog tour and for organising this post.

Have you read Dreaming Of Venice?  Are you intrigued?  Have you ever been to Venice?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – 5 Reasons To Read Waking In Time by Angie Stanton


I’m super excited to be sharing a brilliant guest post today about a brand new YA Romance, Waking In Time by Angie Stanton pitched as a Time Travellers Wife for the YA market.

Waking In Time is due to be released on the 9th March 2017 published by Curious Fox and is set to be a page-turning story full of romance, twists and delightful details about uni life then and now and will stay with readers long after the book’s satisfying end.

#WakingInTime

Today I’m sharing the top 5 reasons to read Waking In Time….


Still mourning the loss of her beloved grandmother and shaken by her mysterious, dying request to “find the baby”, Abbi has arrived at uni to start her first year. But on her second day, she wakes up to a different world: 1983. That is just the first stop on Abbi’s journey backwards through time. Will is a charming student from 1927 who travels forwards through time. When Abbi and Will meet in the middle, love adds another complication to their lives. Communicating across time through a buried time capsule, they try to decode the mystery of their travel, find the lost baby and plead with their champion, a kindly physics tutor, to help them find each other again …even though the tutor gets younger each time Abbi meets him.


Top 5 Reasons To Read Waking In Time

  1. Time Travel – I mean, who doesn’t wonder what it’s like to live in another time. It’s a subject that’s long fascinated me. I’m quick to watch every movie on the topic, and I have a shelf full of time travel books. People are saying Waking in Time is a Time Traveler’s Wife for YA – which is so flattering as that’s my favourite book!
    1. Love Story – I wanted to create a love story that I would believe in, that readers would fall in love with, and, as a writer, you’re always looking for tension or obstacles which stop your couple getting together, so that, ultimately they can overcome those obstacles and it’s happy ever after.

     

    1. Secrets – There’s so many secrets! When you have one character from present day travelling back in time, and another from the past who only travels forward, there’s so much information they need to keep to themselves in order not to mess with time and put their own futures at risk.

     

    1. Buried treasure –Imagine discovering that a local legend of buried treasure turns out to be true! It was great fun deciding where to hide it and what items to include in the treasure box that would add more twists and turns to the story. Can you picture communicating over time via a buried time capsule!

     

    1. True story – the best stories for me, are always based in fact, and when I did research into my own family history I discovered a relative with gaps in her fascinating history, leaving me wondering what really happened to her. When I exhausted all my research without any answers, I realized the only way to find out the truth would be to travel back in time. And that’s how the idea of Waking in Time was born.

You can buy a copy of Waking In Time here or from your local bookshop!


About Angie Stanton

American author Angie Stanton is a life-long daydreamer who grew up with her hands on a book and her head in the clouds. As an adult she’s learned to put her talent to good use and writes contemporary fiction about life, love, and the adventures that follow. She is the best selling author of eight novels including Rock and a Hard Place, and Love ’em or Leave ’em. Angie has a Journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin. In her spare time, she sneaks off to New York City to enjoy the best entertainment experience on earth, Broadway. She is currently working on a series of Broadwaythemed books, and is also a contributing editor to BroadwayWorld.com. 

You can find out more about Angie on her website – www.angiestanton.com

Or why not follow Angie on twitter – @angie_stanton


Blog Tour

Catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops or by using the hashtag #WakingInTime


A huge thank you to Angie for a fab guest post and to Georgia at Curious Fox for organising and asking me to be part of the tour!

Have you read Waking In Time?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Research Behind Chasing Shadows by T A Williams


I am super happy to have been asked to feature a brilliant guest post from the wonderful T A Williams as part of this fab blog tour organised by PR Extraordinaire Faye Rogers.

Chasing Shadows was released on the 16th January on e book and is set to be a brilliant adult fiction romance novel with a blind protagonist at it’s heart.

I was really interested to hear about the research behind the novel…..


Amy had it all – money, brains and beauty. And then the accident happened.

The Present Day: Left blind and without her family, Amy feels she needs to get away. On a trip along the Camino, she is accompanied by the mysterious and troubled Luke. Having been set up to help Amy by a mutual friend, Luke finds he is also running from his past…

1314: A Templar Knight, Luc, is also running. He meets the wife of a former comrade, now blinded in a terrifying attack: Aimee. Taking her under his wing, they must journey together through a dangerous world.

As they travel through the stunning scenery of Northern Spain, this couple, so very like Luke and Amy, emerge from the shadows of time carrying a treasure of inestimable value.


The Research Behind Chasing Shadows

I certainly didn’t make it easy for myself when I decided to write a book….

1. Along a route of almost a thousand kilometres, crossing two mountain ranges and through countries speaking different languages.

2. With a blind person as my main protagonist.

3. Referencing events that happened seven hundred years ago.

The first part was probably the most straightforward. Along with a bunch of friends, I set off on my bike with two hefty panniers packed with clothes, camera and notebook, and cycled all the way along the pilgrims’ way to Compostela. Just like the characters in Chasing Shadows, this involved crossing first the Pyrenees and then the equally daunting Montes de Leon. We encountered headwinds in France, fierce heat in central Spain and damp, chilly weather in northwest Spain. My legs and lungs emerged stronger as a result and I came home with a notebook full of local colour, impressions and memories as well as a hundred photos of places along the way.

I speak pretty good French, but my Spanish is fairly rudimentary and my Basque non-existent and I was a little nervous before the trip about how well I would be able to communicate. I needn’t have worried. The Camino, as it’s known, is a real Tower of Babel with people from all over the world. I met walkers and cyclists from as far away as South America and Japan, as well as a load of Europeans, but the lingua franca everywhere was English. Not for the first time I thanked my lucky stars I have grown up with English as my native tongue.

So, as far as the nuts and bolts of a trip along the Camino were concerned, I managed to achieve pretty much all I needed that way. The next hurdle I had to cross was the whole blindness thing. I’m short-sighted and I wear glasses, but I have no experience of blindness apart from a close friend of the family when I was a kid. I knew I needed to research this more fully and I got some fantastic support from a local sight loss charity, Devon In Sight, and in particular their IT boffin, Darren, along with his lovely guide dog, Jet. From Darren I learned that my assumption that when you go blind your other senses improve to try to compensate for the loss is not correct. As he pointed out to me, his ears and nose remain the same size they were before he went blind five years ago, so it’s not that he hears and smells more acutely. Maybe, without the overwhelming sense of sight, he is able to concentrate more, but if the meat in the oven starts burning, he assured me Jet the dog is the only one with an olfactory advantage.

And, finally, the historical side of things. From that point of view, I am fortunate in that I developed a deep and lasting interest in the medieval period at least thirty years ago and I have read loads, and I mean loads, of books about that era. But, in writing a book, I didn’t just need to know the historical happenings at that time. I needed to find out what people ate, drank and wore way back then. However natural it may now appear to us to stop for a coffee, a bar of chocolate or even a portion of French fries, that just didn’t happen then. A banana or a Mars bar for energy were sorely lacking then, as was a nice warm, breathable waterproof jacket. A chunk of cheese, some dry sausage and a heavy oiled wool cloak were what the pilgrims used way back then.

I can’t claim that my research has been exhaustive, but I’ve really done my best to draw you a true and accurate picture of what it’s like now, and what it was like seven hundred years ago along the Camino. I hope you enjoy the picture I paint.

You can buy a copy of Chasing Shadows here

Or why not add to your Goodreads here


About T A Williams

My name is Trevor Williams. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, “Dirty Minds” one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn’t possibly comment. Ask my wife…

My background, before taking up writing full time, was in teaching and I was principal of a big English language school for many years. This involved me in travelling all over the world and my love of foreign parts is easy to find in my books. I speak a few languages and my Italian wife and I still speak Italian together.

I’ve written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I’m enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. My most recent books are the What happens… series. What happens in Tuscany reached #1 in the Amazon.uk Romantic Comedy chart and What Happens on the Beach, the last in the series, came out in July. Chasing Shadows is still romance, but with the added spice of a liberal helping of medieval history, one of my pet hobbies. I do a lot of cycling and I rode all the way to Santiago de Compostela on a bike a few years back. This provided both the inspiration and the background research for Chasing Shadows.

I’m originally from Exeter, and I’ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away down here in south west England. I love the place.

You can find out more about T A Williams on his website – www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Or why not follow him on twitter – @TAWilliamsbooks

Or on Facebook here


Blog Tour

You catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops.


A huge thank you to T A Williams for a fab guest post.  Also a huge thank you to Faye for asking me to be part of the blog tour and for organising this post and for being very patient with me.

Have you read Chasing Shadows?  Are you intrigued?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading

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