Friday Night Drinks with…. Kim Nash @KimTheBookworm @HeraBooks @Bookouture @RNATweets @millyjohnson #FridayNightDrinks #EscapeToGiddywellGrange #AmazingGrace #ChaseBookFest

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I’m giddy (see what I did there?) with anticipation for tonight’s Friday Night Drinks because it is with one of my favourite people in the bookish world, and someone I have been lucky enough to meet in person through our shared membership of the RNA. It is book blogger, Bookouture Publicity Manager, book festival organiser and, since Wednesday, published author of TWO books (gosh, I’m tired just thinking about it all)……Kim Nash.

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Kim, welcome to the blog. It’s so lovely to have you here. First things first, what are you drinking?

Gin and Tonic for me always if I’m going with alcohol, and coffee otherwise.  I do like my gin to taste like gin though, so none of this fancy stuff for me! Also I did discover some Grapefruit and Pomelo gin at the weekend from Chase Distillery which was blooming gorgeous and I think is my new favourite drink. 

Gin is also my tipple of choice, although I do like to try different ones. I had a lovely Earl Grey Tea one the other week. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Well Friday nights are dog training nights for us, so our night out would consist of going to meet our wonderful friends at ChasinTails (http://www.chasintails.co.uk/) .  Roni is our rescue dog who came to live with us about 19 months ago and he’s changed our lives!   Friday night dog training is not just for him, but for all of us to have a social meet up with lovely new friends that we’ve met through the club.  Then it’s to the chippy to pick up fish and chips on the way home, before relaxing with a gin and tonic and celebrating the weekend ahead. 

Sounds great. I know Roni is a spaniel, like my lovely Lola, we should have a doggie date next time I am down your way! If you could invite two famous people, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

As I’ve recently read Michelle Obama’s Becoming, I’d love to invite her. She’s such an inspiration and a lovely lady! She’d be a great night out guest.  I’d also invite Jenny Éclair, as I saw her recently at the Hachette showcase and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in such a short time.  I think they’d both be great fun and would love a chippy tea and a G&T!  

Great choices, that would be some girls’ night out. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Gosh! Where do I start.  I’m promoting Book 1, Amazing Grace, which came out in April, Book 2, Escape to Giddywell Grange, is also now out and I’m writing Book 3.  I’ve also been working with our local museum to organize Chase Bookfest which a local book festival with the most amazing best-selling and award-winning authors that we are so honoured to have join us.  Hopefully it’ll bring the authors together with readers who get the chance to meet their favourite authors and hear them read and answer questions.  This is happening TOMORROW! Saturday 21st!   SOOOOO EXCITED!!! 

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Such a busy lady, and that is without even mentioning the day job! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment is when my son admitted that it’s quite cool to have an author for his mum!  He’s my biggest cheerleader, along with my lovely sister, and is constantly checking chart positions etc.  I think it’s the first time he’s ever really thought I’m cool! LOL! 

The biggest challenge is to write while working full time.  In my day job, I’m Head of Publicity at Bookouture and it’s busy and I’ve a head full of other people’s books.  I’m a binge writer so find it very difficult to get into a routine of writing some words every day and go for long spells without writing at all, but then will sit for hours once I get into the swing of it.  

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I think I’ve already achieved it and I’m totally honoured.  I wanted to touch people with my writing.  I wanted someone to be inspired, moved, or motivated to do something, or feel something through my words.  I’ve been incredibly lucky that lots of people messaged me while reading Amazing Grace and also Escape to Giddywell Grange to say that they’ve laughed and cried and some who have been inspired to try something new or to change their lives.  That feels really special.  

That is such a great ambition to have and pretty much exactly how I feel about my writing, i’m so happy for you that you have achieved it. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m writing Book 3 and have other ideas whirling around in my head, some a little bit darker and deeper than my normal rom com writes!  Watch this space. 

Exciting! Those voices never quite shut up do they, and they always bring the best ideas to you in the most inconvenient of places…. middle of the night, driving the car, in the bath, lol.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I’m very lucky to have travelled well in the past (before child! LOL!)  My favourite place is The Maldives, and whenever I’m struggling to sleep, I always go back to my sunbed on my private beach outside of my beach bungalow.  It works every time to relax me and ground me.  

I would love to go back to Dubrovnik, which I went to once as a quick stop on a cruise, but we didn’t stop long.  The streets are so shiny it looks like fairies have been up all night polishing them.  I’d love to spend some more time exploring there.   

Another place is Italy.  I had a bad experience once, where I went to Turin, and was in a bar and needed a wee, and had to go across a courtyard, into a garage like building and there was a hole in the floor which I had to stoop over.  It put me off Italy for a while but I really would love to go to Positano and Lake Garda.  

And I’ve read so many books about Martha’s Vinyard and Nantucket that I would love to go and explore there too.  I’ve only ever been to Florida in the US and want to sit on a swing on a porch overlooking the sea and I’d love to visit the places that I’ve conjured up in my mind from so many fabulous authors.  

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That’s one of my favourite things about reading, the armchair travelling. I am such a sucker for a book set anywhere along the US coast. I have been to New England, but not to Nantucket yet. Definitely a bucket list destination.

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

This is hard!  I’m very open so people know most things about me.  I could say that I’m a Reiki Level 1 Practioner, I could say that I’ve been to see David Essex about 35 times (all my sister’s fault!) or that I believe in life after death!  Take your pick! 

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

I love to read personal development books and one of my favourites is You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero.  It’s so inspiring and everyone should read it.  

The fiction book that changed my life was A Spring Affair by Milly Johnson.  It made me realize that I was unhappy and needed to make changes.  I did, and Milly encouraged me to start a book blog and I became immersed in the publishing world and merged my marketing and PR background with my love of books to work with Bookouture and I pinch myself and thank my lucky stars every day! 

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‘Clear your house and clear your mind. Don’t let life’s clutter dictate to you. Throw it away and take back the control!’ 

When Lou Winter picks up a dog-eared magazine in the dentist’s waiting room and spots an article about clearing clutter, she little realises how it will change her life. What begins as an earnest spring clean soon spirals out of control.

Lou‘s loved ones grow disgruntled. Why is clearing out cupboards suddenly more important than making his breakfast, her husband Phil wonders? The truth is, the more rubbish Loulets go of, the more light and air can get to those painful, closed-up places at the centre of her heart.

Even lovely Tom Broom, the man who delivers Lou‘s skips, starts to grow concerned about his sweetest customer. But Lou is a woman on a mission, and not even she knows where it will end . . .

Lovely Milly, what an inspiring story. It is amazing how much writing can inspire people to change their lives. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Oh it has to be a big pint of water before bed and a good old Wetherspoons breakfast.  Then home to tuck up on the sofa under a blanket with a great book.   Never fails. 

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Saturday mornings normally start with a nice early dog walk over Cannock Chase Forest, then just hanging out with my son for the day.   Jimmies are on quite early and we snuggle up with a film or watch some TV.  Sundays I can normally be found on the sidelines, cheering on his team with the other fabulous footy mums that are my football family.   Then another walk over the forest with Ollie and Roni before a good old Sunday roast.  

Sounds like bliss. Kim, thank you so much for coming on the blog tonight, I have had the best evening. Huge luck with the new book and the book festival tomorrow, I hope it all goes wonderfully.

Kim’ new book, Escape to Giddywell Grange is out now and you can buy a copy here.

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Maddy Young thought she had it all.

Swanky city apartment? – yep. Fancy car? sorted. High-flying career? – tick.

Even if she’s lost most of her friends because of spending all her time at work, and can’t remember when she last had fun, it’s worth it.

Until she’s suddenly made redundant. Now she’s 37, jobless, and after the breakup with the former love of her life, unhappily single.

Enter Maddy’s childhood friend, Beth, the owner of Growlers, the doggy daycare centre at Giddywell Grange, on a mission to make Maddy see there’s more to life than work.

Soon, Maddy is swapping spreadsheets for volunteer duty at the library, daily Starbucks for cups of tea with elderly neighbours, and her Prada handbag for doggy poo bags… And with Beth’s gorgeous brother, Alex, back from the States, Maddy starts to think that Giddywell Grange might just be her happy place.

But when her old life – and her old boyfriend – comes calling, will Maddy go back to the job she loved so much? Or will she discover that the key to happiness lies in making others happy?

If you would like to read my review of Kim’s first fabulous book, Amazing Grace, you can find it by following this link.

Kim Nash lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture and is a book blogger.

Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association’s Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can’t quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA.

When she’s not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs.

You can read Kim’s book blog at Kim The Bookworm and catch up with her via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Next week I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by blogging superstar, Kaisha Holloway of The Writing Garnet, so please do join us.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Sheila Turner Johnston @SperrinGold @colourpoint #FridayNightDrinks #MakerOfFootprints

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Tonight I am delighted to welcome to the virtual blog bar for Friday Night Drinks, author…Sheila Turner Johnston.

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Sheila, it is lovely to have you on the blog. First things first, what are you drinking?

Hi Julie, thank you for inviting me this evening! I’ll have a pure apple juice with ice please, with a tonic water mixer on the side. If the bar is out of that, make it a tonic water and bitter lemon. 

If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

It’s hard to narrow this down, but we could have dinner in the Europa Hotel and then take in a show next door at Belfast’s historic Grand Opera House.

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Sounds fabulous, Belfast is top of my bucket list for my next city break. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Only two? Oh dear! Well, I’m interested in ancient and medieval history and the Tudors, so I’d like to have a chance to talk to Cicero, the Roman senator and orator. He lived in and influenced pivotal times when the Roman Republic became an Empire. I’m sure he would have a lot to say about Brexit and the EU! There are so many women to choose from also but it would be fascinating to meet Emmeline Pankhurst. Her views on the current feminist movement, in contrast to the struggle she had in the early twentieth century, would be very interesting.

We haven’t had either of them on Friday Night Drinks before, so great choices. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Right now I’m involved with publicity for my novel Maker of FootprintsIt’s a contemporary novel exploring relationships that get complicated when personal boundaries are challenged. One book blogger described it as a love story that is lifted into something more. I like that! Where do I want it to go? Into the best seller lists of course! Apart from that, I am doing final revisions on my next novel and hope it will be out before the end of this year or early next year. Fingers crossed! 

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

I’ve been writing for a long time, and during my student years my main method of creative expression was poetry. I had the scary and wonderful experience – especially with hindsight – of reading my poetry at a meeting of the English Society at Queen’s University with none other that Seamus Heaney in the audience! I remember him sitting in an armchair, eying me thoughtfully and puffing on his pipe – which was allowed then. He was one of my lecturers as well.

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My biggest challenge is defeating procrastination. I am very easily distracted and have too many interests to find it easy to focus. Everything ever written about how writers invent displacement activities applies to me with bells on!

Seamus Heaney, I am so jealous! What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

The ‘one big thing’ changes as time and events move on. For example, my elder son asked me some years ago if there was something I would really like to do and hadn’t yet done. I said I’d like to write a novel. He said “Ok, then write one.” So I did! The next thing I really wanted to do was write another one – and I did! So I suppose what I’d like to achieve is a regular output of good novels that people enjoy. If I had to push the boat out, I’d love to see one of my novels made into a movie! In case any film producers are listening to us this evening, Maker of Footprints is just perfect for the big screen – all the scenes are there ready to go! Well, you did say “be ambitious”! 

Book-to-movie is the most common ambition amongst authors on this feature, it has to be said! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m excited to see my next novel published and nervous about what people will think of it. It tackles a difficult subject and involves a controversial relationship. I loved writing it. I also have novel number three started. It’s giving me a few headaches at the moment and all the displacement activities are having a party!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

Unlike you, I’m afraid I’m not a great traveller. I get travel sick, agonizingly sore ears on aeroplanes etc. However, three years ago I screwed up my courage and went to Italy on an special interest archaeology holiday. Amongst many fascinating places, we visited Pompeii and Herculaneum, places I had always wanted to see. I’m so glad I did that. Apart from that, I find the UK and Ireland endlessly interesting and hope to visit more places closer to home, especially sites of historic interest. 

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I love Ireland. My partner, who is from Dublin, is taking me on a road trip along the south and west coasts next month – it was my birthday present – I cannot wait. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Scraping the barrel a bit to answer this question! I suppose I could tell you that my mother was from Belfast in Northern Ireland and my father was from Cork, far down south in the Republic. So I can say that my brother and I are very early examples of cross-border co-operation!

You should be in charge of Brexit! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Goodness, that’s a tough one. The one that seems to float to the top of my mind is one you’ve probably already read, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. That book should be required reading for everyone, especially GCSE and A level history students. It evokes the mud-soaked horror of war, not from the elevated perspective of generals and governments, or even history textbooks, but through the eyes of the men who were really there, in the mud and the foxholes and the tunnels. From an Ulster and Irish point of view, Faulks’ description of the Battle of the Somme is particularly vivid and memorable. It’s as close as I imagine anyone could get – or want to get – to actually being there.

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1910. Amiens, Northern France. Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman, arrives in the French city to stay with the Azaire family. He falls in love with unhappily married Isabelle and the two enter a tempestuous love affair. But, with the world on the brink of war, the relationship falters. With his love for Isabelle forever engraved on his heart, Stephen volunteers to fight on the Western Front and enters the unimaginable dark world beneath the trenches of No Man’s Land. From award-winning writer Sebastian Faulks, Birdsong is an exceptionally moving and unforgettable portrait of the ruthlessness of war and the indestructability of love.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I’ve never had a hangover! The obvious failsafe way to avoid one is not to drink too much in the first place, but that is probably not what you mean! I do get really bad headaches sometimes and I reach for the ibuprofen and then just lie down and moan a lot till it goes away.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Besides reading?! A lovely walk along some of our fabulous north Down coastline, time with my family, church on Sunday morning, a meal in a nice restaurant and maybe a film on TV. A packet of giant chocolate buttons would be in there somewhere too!

Sheila, it has been an absolute delight to chat with you, thank you so much for joining me and I wish you lots of luck with your writing.

Sheila’s debut novel, Maker of Footprints, is out now as an ebook and paperback and you can get a copy here.

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Meeting him was easy. It was knowing him that burned bone.

Paul Shepherd is dangerous. He crashes into Jenna’s life like an asteroid into an ocean. Willful and exhausting, he stirs feelings that make her confront all that has kept her safe – and bored.

Relentless and determined, he needs Jenna with a desperation she does not understand. Jenna discovers that, although she can try to hide from Paul, there is nowhere to hide from herself.

But he is married…

What do you do when you discover you are not the person you thought you were?

This is one of those rare books that touch the soul – a story of irrevocable change, tragedy and indestructable love.

Sheila Turner Johnston was born in west Cork, Ireland and spent her childhood in different counties the length and breadth of the country, as the family moved wherever her father’s job took him. She attended Queen’s University, Belfast, and apart from managing to graduate against all her expectations, one of her best experiences was reading her poetry to an audience that included Seamus Heaney. 

Sheila has won prizes for both fiction and non-fiction, and has written many articles for both local and national publications. She and her husband Norman founded the publishing stable Colourpoint Creative Ltd, which is now owned and managed by their two sons.

Maker of Footprints is her first published novel.

You can find out more about Sheila and her writing on her website and on Twitter.

Please join me back here next week when I will be having drinks with author, fellow RNA member, blogger and Bookouture Publicity Manager, Kim Nash.

Friday Night Drinks with …. Yvonne Bastian (@yvonnembee) @TarnRichardson #bookbloggers #bookblogging #amreading #FridayNightDrinks

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Bit of a change this week, I am having Friday Night Drinks with friend and fellow book blogger at Me and My Books – Yvonne Bastian.

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

During the day I drink black coffee, when I am out my local it’s a pint of real ale and the occasional tot of whiskey. 

 You are the first real ale drinker I have had on the blog! If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

 I don’t go out that often, but I would love to go and see a show on the West End. There are so many to choose from and I think either the Lion King or Cats, but I would apologise in advance for my singing along. So I am going to be sneaky and ask what would you choose?

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Ohh, I love going to a West End show! What would I choose? Depends how much of a prude you are. If you are not at all, I would take you to Book of Mormon, which is hilarious but outrageous. If that isn’t your bag, Wicked would be my first choice, I love it and it makes me cry. The Lion King is also amazing, though. 

If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Oh, I would love to have met Terry Pratchett and I would love to meet Maggie Smith. I love the humour of both of them and think it would be a noisy and fun filled evening.

Two of my absolute heroes. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

It has been a busy 6 months for me. It saw me changing jobs, not having enough time in the day to commit to the things I had signed up for, and making some tough decisions. I think this is something we can all relate to. 

I had been in my job for 12 years and it was a tough one to leave the friends I had made, luckily, it’s local so I still get to see them. My new job is very different and just as rewarding in many other ways and I am enjoying it a huge amount.

I decided that I did not have enough time to continue my Open University course so that has been popped on the back burner at the moment. 

The final toughie was to stop taking part in blog tours, I still have a few more to go that I had committed to and ..whispers…I have agreed to another 3. I am still reading 3-4 books a week but from my own shelf so hopefully I can get my TBR down into double figures one day!

I feel your pain. I have also stopped taking on blog tours to concentrate on my TBR and NetGalley backlogs, but sometimes it is so hard to resist, and I always want to help out the amazing blog tour organisers and authors. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

For me it’s the little things that make a huge difference. My first follower, the first person to comment and share are things that gave me a lovely boost. Then as the months turned into 2 years, the time an author sends a message to say thanks for a great review and asks me to read their next book, fellow bloggers leaving comments and letting me know that they have bought a book based on what I have written. Last year I was nominated in the Annual Blogger Bash Awards, when I got the email I cried and laughed at the same time, it wasn’t a pretty sight. I have reached milestones that I did not expect and it has boosted my confidence a lot.

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The hard bit, well that is finding the time to share, comment and chat on the various platforms. I can easily spend 2-4 hours a day reading and sharing fabulous posts from other bloggers, but this also eats into reading time. Finding a balance is important so I blog 5 days a week at the moment, and I also have two days away from social media, I do this so that things don’t become routine and that I don’t put pressure on myself. 

That is very organised and disciplined! What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

I was asked a question at my interview and it was “What would you do if you could do anything?” my response was “to buy the winning lottery ticket so I could stop working and do all the things I want to do”. I would love to travel to ALL the Book events and festivals, meet fellow Book Bloggers and travel to those wonderful bookshops you see on Instagram posts. Of course, with all the books I would buy I would need my own Library, complete with windy metal staircase, a slidey along the wall ladder, leather armchairs, and a big old wooden desk, crystal decanters and a plumbed in coffee machine. Yep, that would do me.

Great ambitions, you are a twin soul! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I am looking forward to reading several book series. Now I may need to explain a little, until I started my blog I spent a couple of years reading a lot of Classic books, before that I would binge on various genres and then move on. Then the blog started and I started to read books that had just been released and finding that I was behind in the series. So, I am gradually starting to fill in the books I am missing for several authors and then I can read the series in order.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

There are loads of places I would like to visit or see, I have no passport and to be honest living in Cornwall is like being on holiday…sometimes. As a child, mum and dad took me and my sister camping and we went to Scotland, Wales and spent a lot of time on the Norkfolk coast. I would love to revisit some of these places, but I don’t think they would hold the same childhood magic. 

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I love Cornwall. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Errmmm interesting fact… I have 6 different coffee machines, sounds a bit boring lol I have 3 tattoos and want a fourth one because I hate odd numbers. The tv has to be on 18, not 17 or 19, it could go on 16 or 20. If a packet of sweets has an odd number I throw the odd one away, breaking it in half doesn’t count either.

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Oh, that is so interesting. Imparnumerophobia is the fear of odd numbers, did you know that? Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

ONE BOOK……….. sorry didn’t mean to shout……..BUT SERIOUSLY ONLY ONE BOOK!!!!!!!!!! Oooooooommmmmmmmgggggggg… There are so many that jump into my head at the moment and I could recommend so many, so I decided to be a bit naughty as I am sat at my computer surrounded by books and I thought about all the books I have read over the years. Last year I discovered a fantastic trilogy hahaha a trilogy yep 3 books wooohhoooo. Sorry feeling a little smug hehehe.Right so The Darkest Hand by Tarn Richardson is a mash up of historical, conspiracy, fantasy, and I absolutely and most definitely loved this series a huge amount and I would recommend it as a must read.

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THE DARKEST HAND

1914. The Outbreak of War

In the French City of Arras, Father Andreas is brutally murdered and the Catholic Inquisition sends its most determined and unhinged inquisitor to investigate. Poldek Tacit’s mission is to protect the Church from those who seek to undermine it. At any cost.

As Tacit arrives, British and German soldiers confront each other across the horror that is No Man’s Land and a beautiful French woman warns Lieutenant Henry Frost that there is a dark and unnatural foe lurking underground more awful than even Tacit can comprehend.

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1915. Demonic possessions are sweeping across Rome.

War is raging on the Italian Austro-Hungarian border and bodies are piling up in the streets. But it isn’t the ravages of war that is causing such mass destruction, something evil and unnatural force is roaming the land and the Vatican’s Eagle Fountain is running red with blood.

Only Poldek Tacit, the church’s brilliant but flawed Inquisitor can hope to hold back the malevolent power, but as he immerses himself in this dangerous investigation he discovers that the path he is treading has already been prophesied and that where it is leading is threatening the very future of a world already teetering on the brink of the abyss.

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1917. The Apocalypse is imminent.

It is three years since our first introduction to the brilliant but flawed Catholic church Inquisitor Poldek Tacit, and the world has never needed him more. War, revolution and a relentless tide of inhuman terror is consuming the earth but where is Tacit?

As old allies unite in a frantic race to unmask the Antichrist and thwart his plan to bring everything into his power, the Darkest Hand continues to terrorise the innocent while in the Vatican’s vaults, long-buried secrets are about to be unveiled, and humanity’s chance of escape from the forces of evil hangs by a single thread.

You can but it as one set, so I’ll allow it! So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover andyour go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Failsafe…pahahaha… failsafe plan would be DON’T do the shots or the jaeger bombs or the …well I think you may see this may lead. To be fair I am not for going out much now, it takes longer to deal with the hangovers, I am sure its something to do with the water and not that I am getting older and turning into a lightweight. 

I’m afraid it’s age, embrace it! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

That would all depend on the shots thing, but if I was hangover free then the weather would determine where I would read. Yep Sunday afternoon reading,  in front of the open fire at home, as the weather gets warmer, then in my garden or in one of the beautiful gardens here in Cornwall or on a beach or clifftop bench.

Sounds perfect! Yvonne, this has been so much fun, hopefully one day we will get to do it for real. Thank you so much for coming on the blog.

Yvonne is a fabulous blogger and book lovers should definitely check our her blog at Me and My Books. You can also find her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Next week I will be joined by another of my favourite bloggers, Eva from Novel Deelights, so please do come back and join us.

 

Friday Night Drinks with…. Rosemary Smith @Endeavour_Media @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks

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Tonight, I am delighted to welcome to the blog for Friday Night Drinks, author …..Rosemary Smith.

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Rosemary, thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Hi Julie, thanks for inviting me. I would like a peach schnapps & lemonade please, no ice. Thank you.

My pleasure. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

If I return the compliment, and I hope I can, I would like to take you to our cosy little pub in the village where we live, The Walter Raleigh. The pub is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who was born in our village. Very quaint and full of atmosphere, the pub boasts a cosy little bar, and a small restaurant area where delicious meals & sweets are served. I have no doubt you would enjoy a relaxing evening here with me Julie!

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Look idyllic. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I would also like to invite author Emily Bronte, and poet laureate John Betjeman to join us for a drink. Emily, because I love her writings, and truly believe that since visiting her home at Haworth, she has been my guide with my own writing. I love Victorian times, and set my novellas in that period of time. And Emily lived in those times, and understood love and all its frailties. I feel we would both enjoy her company.
Like John Betjeman, I love Churches, and in 1966 I was lucky enough to hold a conversation with him at Alturnun Church in Cornwall, on a grey November day. I also love poetry, and so did Emily, and feel they would be worthy, interesting people for us to chat too.

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Apart from writing, I have for 17 years been searching for my husband Mike’s sister. The family were all split up in 1950 when their Mother died. Mike was adopted, and found out about his sib!ings when he applied to the Courts for his adoption papers. We found his brothers, but his sister Mary has eluded us thus far. I search on a daily basis along with others, and my hope is, that one day soon we will find her.

Wow, that’s an amazing story, I hope it has a happy ending eventually. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment since I started writing, was when my first novella The Amethyst Brooch was published. Sadly my dear Dad who always believed in me, died a few days before the story’s release date. But it was my proudest moment.

My biggest challenge has been trying to get back to writing since my dear eldest daughter, Paula, passed away after a battle with jaw cancer. I am at last back to writing, and at last I have the inspiration, but it has been a challenge!

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

The one big thing I would like to achieve, is to see my seven Victorian Romantic Suspense novellas put into two-hourly dramas on television!! A wild thing to hope for, but many of my readers have said how much they would like to see my stories acted out on television! There are big houses on Cornish cliffs, beautiful dresses, weddings, secrets & mystery. I can but dream!!

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Having dreams is very important! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

At the moment I am working on, hopefully, my eighth novella! For the first time I had a story rejected, and will submit it elsewhere, but in the meantime have started a new story! Set in Scotland, about a young woman who wakes up in a castle, and has no idea who she is. I have titled the story The Key of Love, and while that could possibly change, I am very excited about this project. This time I have stuck to my usual format of love, mystery & romance, which has always worked for me! A key does hold the answer to the mystery, hence the title. I am enjoying writing this novella, and do feel very hopeful for it!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

The favourite place I have visited, has to be the Isles of Scilly. I adore the peace and tranquility of each island I have visited, it reminds me of how life was in the 1950s. The only traffic is on the Island of St Mary’s, and that is very sparse. It is without doubt a writer’s paradise, and I love it there.

Top of my bucket list to visit, is the artist Monet’s home Giverney outside of Paris. Monet is my favourite artist, and I would dearly love to see where he lived & worked. Everything crossed that I visit there one day.

The Scilly Isles are high on my bucket list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

One surprising fact about myself! I never mention it much to anyone, but in the very early 1960s when living in Bristol, I did photographic modelling, for travel brochures and advertising. The beautiful photos I had, were sadly stolen, by someone who broke into my bedsit while I was afraid home in Devon for Christmas! I can never replace them, which is very sad!

That sounds like a fascinating career. Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

There are so many wonderful books which I have read, which I could recommend to you! But the one which springs to mind, is, The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron. This book totally captivated me with its 3 timelines. It is one of those books which I couldn’t wait to get back too. Beautifully written, it really drew me in, and I was very sad when it finished! I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to escape into another world & another time.

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Broken-down walls and crumbling stones seemed to possess a secret language all their own.

What stories would they tell, if she finally listened?

Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . .

Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.

Bridging the past to the present in three time periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and of an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

That sounds great, I will add it to the TBR. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

My failsafe plan to avoid a hangover, is to not drink too much! But if I end up with one, my cure is a good breakfast, and to drink plenty of water!

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

After our wonderful night out, my ideal way to spend a weekend is to watch beautiful movies, eat chocolate & drink lemonade!

Thank you Julie for a wonderful evening.

It has been my pleasure, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me and I wish you great success with all your projects.

Rosemary Smith is the Devon-based author of seven Victorian suspense novels, Where Love Takes You,  The Lady and the LakeDarkwoodA Stranger’s KissA Strange AffairGypsy Heart and Matters of the Heart. They are available as ebooks via Amazon by following the preceding links or borrowed from your local library.

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Find out more about Rosemary by visiting her Facebook author page.

Next week I will be joined on the blog by my friend and fellow blogger, Yvonne Bastian of Me and My Books so don’t miss that.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Rachel Brimble @RachelBrimble @Aria_Fiction @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #Penningtons

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Tonight I am happy to welcome to Friday Night Drinks on the blog, author and fellow RNA member… Rachel Brimble.

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Rachel. First things first, what are you drinking?

A lovely chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc – I adore white wine (probably too much!) and Sauvignon is my favourite.

If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Whenever people come to visit me, I love taking them to Lacock – it’s a small village where parts of the Harry Potter films, Pride & Prejudice and Poldark were filmed. It wouldn’t be a rock and roll kind of night, but you’d be fed good, old-fashioned pub food, plenty of wine and some lovely sightseeing walks.

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Looks gorgeous! It sounds like my perfect kind of evening, I am not very rock and roll these days. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Oprah Winfrey and Cillian Murphy – Oprah so I could gather some wisdom, Cillian so I could just stare at him…

Good choices! Roll on, Peaky Blinders Series 6. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I am currently working on revisions for my next book – Christmas At Pennington’s will be released in the Autumn and I can’t wait! And once those are done, I’ll start on the first draft of Pennington’s Book 4, which I intend part of the story to take place on the Titanic – I am so excited as I’ve wanted to write a Titanic book for YEARS!!

That sounds really exciting, what a fascinating time you will have doing the research. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment was probably when I signed my first book deal with Harlequin – I had been told they were an almost impossible publisher to break into, but I managed it and went on to write a further seven books for them (The Templeton Cove Stories).

My biggest challenge has always been (and still is!) stretching an initial idea to 90,000 + words!

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I’d love to have a bestseller and earn enough money that my husband, who has supported me for years, to be able to give up his day job and spend all day with his music. Oh, and I think we should be able to spend our time cruising around the world while I write – bliss!

Good ambitions to have, you need to talk to Jean Fullerton about achieving the last part! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

See question 4!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

The best place I have been to so far is probably Maderia, which was beautiful and Verona which I absolutely loved. I love to travel, too and there are so many places I’d love to visit – I suppose my top two destinations are Nora Roberts’ hotel in Maryland and the Maldives.

That’s fascinating, I never knew that Nora Roberts owned a hotel. One for the bucket list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I was rescued by helicopter from a hotel roof during the 2010 French floods – my family and I were stranded during a flash flood while on holiday. It was the most terrifying 18 hours of my life. Twenty-five people from our resort died that day…

How terrifying, glad you made it out safely.  Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

For contemporary, anything by Nora Roberts. For historical, anything by Philippa Gregory.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Food! I am terrible for enjoying my wine more than my food but if I eat as well as drink, I usually avoid the dreaded hangover. If that fails, a bacon sandwich and plenty of orange juice in the morning!

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Sitting in my sunny back garden with either a book or my knitting – I LOVE knitting and find it’s the best route to my relaxation. 

Rachel, it has been really lovely chatting to you this evening, thank you for taking the time to join me and I wish you great success with the next books in the Pennington’s series.

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The first two books in the Pennington’s series by Rachel Brimble, The Mistress of Pennington’s and A Rebel at Pennington’s are out now and can be purchased by following the preceding links. Book 3, Christmas at Pennington’s, will be out this autumn.

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One woman’s journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner, Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington’s Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women’s progression and will do anything to help secure the vote. 
Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.

When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life’s challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed. 
With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists’ determination to secure the vote.

Will Esther’s rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018 with book two coming February 2019.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America and has thousands of social media followers from all over the world. 

You can find out more about Rachel and her books on her website, and via Facebook and Twitter.

Next week I will be having Friday Night Drinks with author, Rosemary Smith, so please do join us.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Cressida McLaughlin @CressMcLaughlin @HarperFiction @KarenSwan1 #FridayNightDrinks #TheCornishCreamTeaBus

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I have been looking forward to this evening for ages because tonight I am having Friday Night Drinks with one of my absolute favourite authors and all-round lovely virtual friend, Cressida McLaughlin. It’s a special evening too, as the full version of Cressy’s latest book, The Cornish Cream Tea Bus was published only yesterday.

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Welcome to the blog at last, Cressy! I am so excited to finally have you on. First things first, one are you drinking to celebrate the launch of your new book?

A glass of prosecco or, as it’s a special occasion, champagne. Pink, preferably. Pink champagne seems like a cliché, but it is my all-time favourite drink. 

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Pink champagne it is then. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I live in Norwich, which is a great city for versatile nightlife, with lots of cozy pubs and smart bars to choose from. I’d take you to St Benedict’s Street, for cocktails at The Ten Bells, wine and live music at Platform 12 or, if you want a quieter atmosphere, The Bicycle Shop. If the weather’s nice, we might walk along the river and sit in the garden of The Rushcutters, watching the boats and swans go past.  

That sounds great. My only visit to Norwich was when I went to look at the University in 1989! I didn’t end up there, but the city seemed nice. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I would invite Karen Swan and Henry Cavill. Karen Swan is a goddess of fiction, I am in awe of every book she produces, and I would love to hear about her life in the fashion industry and where she gets her story ideas. Henry Cavill is my favourite actor and, in my opinion, perfect romantic hero material. But he also comes across as smart and funny, and I’m sure would be good fun on a night out. 

Oooh, good choices! I adore Karen’s books, I would love to spend an evening chatting with her, I’m going to tag her, in the vain hope she might agree to a night out! So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’ve just finished my final changes to The Cornish Cream Tea Bus, which came out in four e-serial parts in June and July, and then as a paperback yesterday. I really enjoyed writing it; it wasn’t as straightforward as some of my previous books, but I feel stronger and more resilient as a writer for having had to work so hard on it, and I think the book is a lot better as a result. I want it to be successful, for readers who already enjoy my books to love it, and for it to find new readers, too. It’s a summery, uplifting story in a beautiful setting, and I hope people will see it as a real holiday indulgence; a romantic, escapist read they can sink their teeth into. 

Your books are always the perfect holiday read, I am such a huge fan and have been since the first one. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

Holding your book for the first time is always such a proud moment, and never gets any less special or – in some ways – unbelievable.  Holding my first paperback, A Christmas Tail, having a launch at my local Waterstones and watching the copies disappear from the table is something I will remember forever.  The biggest challenge is also the biggest thrill. Putting your work out there  – something that you’ve been working so hard on for months, that you really care about, and feel protective towards, and putting it in the hands of readers.  There’s always the fear that it’s actually awful, and of course there are the bad reviews. You start to grow a thicker skin, realise that not everyone is going to like it, but there’s still a hold-your-breath moment before each new book comes out. 

I love that picture of you signing your book. You just look so happy, exactly as it should be, it makes me smile.

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

Can I have two? They’re both pretty typical writer goals, I think. I would love to be a Sunday Times bestseller, and I would love one of my books to be adapted into a film or TV series, preferably with Henry Cavill in a starring role. ☺ 

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’ve just started thinking about my next book.  It is in very early, fledgling stages at the moment, so I can’t really say any more, but I am very excited about my initial idea, the potential it has to be a romantic, engaging and, hopefully, compelling story. 

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

My husband, David, and I went to the Amalfi coast a couple of years ago, and I’m not sure anything will ever beat it.  Everything about that week was beautiful, luxurious and special. We did lots of walking around the town, sat in the square with cold beers and people-watched, lounged by the hotel pool with the cliffs above us and the sea below.  We got a speedboat out to Capri – the boat was all white leather and wood like something out of a James Bond film – sat on these seats on the bow and got a wonderful view of the Amalfi coast, of Naples and Vesuvius.  It was a magical week, and I’d love to go back there.  At the top of my bucket list is seeing the Northern Lights.  Even pictures of them make me gasp, and I would love to see them in real life.  I can’t think of anything more impressive or awe-inspiring. 

Seeing the Northern Lights seems to be the most popular pick amongst my guests! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

When I was 13 or 14 I was in the English National Opera’s youth group. We performed youth operas (I played a glass in an opera about crockery!) and we also got involved in various projects in the London Coliseum.  I remember once, before and during the interval of performances of Hansel and Gretel, going round to the bar areas, telling the audience members how they could spot a witch and handing out packets of supposedly ‘safe’ sweets. 

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

If I had to narrow it down to one recommendation I think it would be The Greek Escape by Karen Swan.  It came out last summer and it is one of the best, most breathless and brilliant books I’ve read.  It has a twisting, compelling plot, great characters, beautiful locations, heartbreak, loss and a beautiful romance at its heart.  I love all Karen’s books but felt like this one was a step up – it was just MORE everything, and I fell in love with it. 

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Before every new beginning, there must be an ending . . .

Running from heartbreak, Chloe Marston leaves her old life in London for a fresh start in New York. Working at a luxury concierge company, she makes other people’s lives run perfectly, even if her own has ground to a halt. But a terrible accident forces her to step into a new role, up close and personal with the company’s most esteemed and powerful clients. Charismatic Joe Lincoln is one of them and his every wish is her command, so when he asks her to find him a secluded holiday home in the Greek Islands, she sets about sourcing the perfect retreat.

But when Tom, her ex, unexpectedly shows up in Manhattan and the stability of her new life is thrown off-balance again, she jumps at the chance to help Joe inspect the holiday house; escaping to Greece will give her the time and space to decide where her future truly lies. Tom is the man she has loved for so long but he has hurt her before – can she give him another chance? And as she draws closer to Joe, does she even want to? As magnetic as he is mysterious, there’s an undeniable chemistry between them that she can’t resist.

But whatever her heart is telling her, she’s in over her head – another client’s wife has mysteriously disappeared and serious allegations about Joe threaten more than just her happiness. Who can she trust? And will Chloe uncover the truth in time?

I loved that book too. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Ugh.  I wish I had the perfect hangover cure.  If I’ve had a lot of alcohol, I always try and drink at least a pint of water before bed. Then, in the morning, a nice big breakfast – eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, possibly hash browns – usually helps.  Once, when we’d been out drinking in London, we got bean wraps from the M&S food shop at the station.  It had been a fun night, but we’d had too much whisky, and I was prepared to feel awful the next day.  But I didn’t – and it wasn’t even that I was still drunk and started to flag later – I just felt fine from the moment I got up.  So perhaps a three-bean tortilla wrap is the answer?  I haven’t tested the experiment a second time, but maybe I should. 

That’s a new one, I will give it a try. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

In the garden if it’s nice, or going to one of the beaches not too far from us – Norfolk has loads to choose from.  Lots of reading, cooking some delicious weekend food, and watching a couple of films in the evenings.  Generally being lazy and indulgent is my idea of a perfect weekend! 

Cressy, thank you so much for joining me this evening, it has been the most marvellous fun and I wish you great success with the new book. If it is half as good as your previous ones, I know I will love it. Let’s hope we get to meet IRL soon, maybe with Karen Swan, what a night that would be.

Cressida’s latest book, The Cornish Cream Tea Bus, is out now and you can buy it in ebook and paperback format here.

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Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, is surprised when her late uncle bequeaths his vintage bus to her in his will. Keen to give the bus a new lease of life, Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, and when her friend, Juliette, suggests Charlie comes to stay with her in the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, she’s thrilled at the chance of a new start.
Charlie and her cute dog, Marmite, make new friends wherever their bus stops – except for the sexy but reclusive owner of the posh spa up on the hill, Daniel Harper, who isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel.
Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village – and for them?

Cressy was born in South East London surrounded by books and with a cat named after Lawrence of Arabia. She studied English at the University of East Anglia and now lives in Norwich with her husband David.

Cressy’s favourite things – other than writing – include terrifying ghost stories, lava lamps and romantic heroes, though not necessarily at the same time. (Though perhaps a good starting point for a story . . ?)

When she isn’t writing, Cressy spends her spare time reading, returning to London or exploring the beautiful and romantic Norfolk coastline.

You can find out more about Cressy and her books on her website, Facebook, Twitter and  Instagram.

You can also read my reviews of Cressida’s last two books, The House of Birds and Butterflies and The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse, on the blog to whet your appetite for her writing.

Next week I will be having drinks with author, Rachel Brimble, so please do join us.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Eleanor Harkstead & Catherine Curzon @e_harkstead @MadameGilflurt @Totally_Bound #FridayNightDrinks #TheGhostGarden

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I have a rather delayed Friday Night Drinks tonight, as this should have appeared in April, until I was suddenly struck down by illness. However, better late than never, and it is a double whammy as, for the first time, I am having drinks with two authors tonight who are co-authors of a series of historical novels. You know what they say, two’s company, three is a party, so I am delighted to welcome to the blog…. Eleanor Harkstead and Catherine Curzon.

Thank you both for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

EH: Give me gin or give me death. Or alternatively a nice white wine.

CC: Tea! I will happily order tea in a pub, because there’s no finer drink under the sun. If I must have something a little more dramatic, Mason’s do a stunning tea gin. They do a lot of stunning gins, but that one is particularly special. 

 You are ladies after my own heart, as I have been a gin devotee since long before it became trendy. I have never tried the tea gin, though, so I must track that down. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you ​​be taking me for a night out?

EH: There’s a place in Birmingham called The Jekyll and Hyde. It has an amazing “gin palace” room where they sell nothing but gin! 

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CC: There’s no better way to start an evening out than a gorgeous meal and no better place to have a gorgeous meal than Salvo’s in Headingley. I’m not sponsored by them, but I wish I was — send me free food, Salvos! It’s the best Italian you’ll ever eat at, and has been family run for something like forty years. They won Best Neighbourhood Italian on Gordon Ramsey’s The F Word too, which isn’t to be sniffed (or sworn) at.

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If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on ​​our night out, who would we be drinking with?

EH: Byron and his pet bear. I’m not sure if the bear was male or female, but I’m sure no one’ll mind. Byron would be a laugh on the gin (or a morality black hole, it’s hard to say which), and the bear would be an excellent conversation piece. Besides, you never know when a bear might come in handy on a night out. It could keep an eye on your drinks while you’re dancing or deal with any argy-bargy. 

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CC: In my other writing life, I write nonfiction about the 18th century and that means there can only be one correct answer to this question. Laurence Sterne on one side and Caroline of Brunswick on the other. Sterne was known for wit and fabulous conversation and could hold a room in the palm of his hand with his stories. It’d be a privilege to meet the great man.

Caroline of Brunswick, meanwhile, was the scandalous estranged wife of George IV. She famously danced in diaphanous gowns on the Italian coast, shared a bed with a soldier noted for his dramatic whiskers and didn’t always wear her stays in polite company. I’d love to discover if the stories about Prinny are true, as well as find out if Caroline’s own hygiene was as shocking as her husband claimed it was!

Sounds like this could turn into quite a raucous night out, even without the bear. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going ​on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

EH/CC: We’re celebrating the publication of The Ghost Garden. We’re also writing something in our sandbox just for fun, but as usually happens, I’m sure the grain of an idea will make itself known and we’ll be off to turn it into a novel.

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Within the tangled vines of a forgotten garden, can a blossoming new love overcome an ancient evil that threatens both the living and the dead?

After losing her brother in the trenches of the Great War, Cecily James is a prisoner of Whitmore Hall, the respected but remote boys’ school where her brutish husband reigns as headmaster. With its forsaken walled garden, a hauntingly tragic past, and midnight footsteps heard from an unoccupied clocktower, Whitmore Hall is a place where the dead are rumored to walk.

Whitmore Hall is a place filled with mysteries and as a ghost garden emerges from the sun-bleached soil, long-buried secrets cry out to be told.

When new teacher Raf de Chastelaine blunders into an impromptu seance, Cecily finds an unlikely and eccentric ally. In a world of discipline and respectability, barefoot Raf is unlike any teacher Cecily has ever met. With his tales of the Carpathian mountains and a love of midnight gardening, he shakes Whitmore Hall to its foundations. Could there be more to Raf than meets the eye? And as he and Cecily realise that their feelings run deeper than friendship, dare they dream of a world beyond Whitmore Hall?

As Cecily and Raf team up to unite long-dead lovers and do battle with an ancient evil that has long haunted Whitmore Hall, Cecily finds her chance of happiness threatened by her tyrannical husband. But is the controlling headmaster acting of his own free will, or is he the puppet of a malevolent power from beyond the grave?

 What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has ​​​been your biggest challenge?

CC/EH: Definitely when Pride signed up our first Captivating Captains novel, The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper. Our first published work with Pride was a short story, An Actor’s Guide To Romance, and that was a really special moment for us as co-writers, but to see our first joint novel out there was fantastic. Even better was when Pride decided to launch the Captivating Captains series of novels, which cross genres and eras to tell stand alone stories featuring… some captivating captains!

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as ​​you like, its just us talking after all!

EH/CC: I suppose every writer hopes this, and it’s not very realistic, but we’d love it if one of our stories was dramatised. But (again unrealistically!) we’d like to oversee the casting. 

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

CC/EH: We’ve just put the final finishing touches to the first draft of the sequel to The Ghost Garden and we’re ready to shout it from the rooftops, but we can’t just yet! 

We’re really excited to introduce readers to the village where Raf’s family have lived for generations and to the people who live there. Although it’s the second book in our series, The de Chastelaine Chronicles, it can be read as a stand alone too, so readers who aren’t familiar with Raf and Cecily will still be able to jump right in and uncover their latest supernatural investigation!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the ​​​future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of ​​your bucket list?

EH: I have two favourite places, which are in fact weirdly similar — Edinburgh and Granada. They’re both modern cities but ancient too with lovely old towns and castles. Granada is a magical place — I went in December once in the snow and it was beautiful. The Alhambra Palace is an amazing place to visit, but also to see peering over the buildings of the city as you wander about. And the view from the Albayzin (the Old Town) of the Alhambra with mountains behind it is breathtaking. I love Edinburgh — the Georgian New Town is gorgeous, and the higgledy-piggledy Old Town around The Royal Mile is fascinating. And Edinburgh’s old cemeteries are fantastic to visit.

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Top of my bucket list is Japan — I studied Japanese for two years but have never had the chance to go. One day, maybe!

CC: I’m going to choose two places for this question, one at home and one abroad. 

My first choice is the breathtaking Niagara Falls. It’s a place everyone should experience if they can for its wildness and the sheer scale and strength of the falls. I’m a bit of a waterfall fan!

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A little closer to home, there’s nowhere better than the rugged North Yorkshire coast. Not only can one have the best fish and chips, there’s miles of wonderful walking, gorgeous views and friendly Yorkshire folk – like me (though I’m only honorary Yorkshire!). 

At the top of my bucket list is only one thing: I am utterly obsessed with seeing the Northern Lights. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing and something I hope will happen one day!

Well, we are honoured to have you in Yorkshire and I agree that the North Yorkshire coast is as beautiful as any you will find anywhere. Lots of places there that are also on my bucket list! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know ​​​about you.

EH: I was once, by accident, in a documentary about students from the Middle East. I’m actually from East Anglia, which isn’t quite the same thing. I still don’t know how that happened.

CC: I spent many years working in the House of Commons. At some point during this occasionally surreal decade, a Home Secretary stole my shoe whilst he was drunk. I won’t name him!

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for ​​​​recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

EH: Chingiz Aytmatov’s Jamila (also known as Jamilia). It’s a beautiful, quietly rebellious love story set in Soviet Kyrgyzstan — so exquisitely moving and will stay with you long after you’ve read it. James Riordan’s translation is nothing short of lyrical.

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The Second World War is raging, and Jamilia’s husband is off fighting at the front. Accompanied by Daniyar, a sullen newcomer who was wounded on the battlefield, Jamilia spends her days hauling sacks of grain from the threshing floor to the train station in their village in the Central Asia.

Spurning men’s advances and wincing at the dispassionate letters she receives from her husband, Jamilia falls helplessly in love with the mysterious Daniyar in this heartbreakingly beautiful tale.

CC: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. I guarantee you’ve never read anything like it before, and you never will again. My interest in history and writing was awakened by my grandad, who was a born storyteller. Tristram Shandy is just like sitting beside grandad’s hearth and listening to him tell tales. It wanders, stops and starts, and leaves you hanging. Perfect storytelling!

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Sterne’s great comic novel is the fictional autobiography of Tristram Shandy, a hero who fails even to get born in the first two volumes. It contains some of the best-known and best-loved characters in English literature, including Uncle Toby, Corporal Trim, Parson Yorick, Dr Slop and the Widow Wadman. Beginning with Tristram’s conception, the novel recounts his progress in ‘this scurvy and disasterous world of ours’, including his misnaming during baptism and his accidental circumcision by a falling sash-window at the age of five; unsurprisingly, Tristram declares that he has been ‘the continual sport of what the world calls Fortune’. Tristram Shandy also offers the narrator’s ‘opinions’, at once facetious and highly serious, on books and learning in an age of rapidly expanding print culture, and on the changing understanding of the roles of writers and readers alike.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and ​​​your go-to cure if you do end up with one?​

EH: Drink lots of water, keep paracetamol by the bed and get lots of sleep! To be honest, I’d also say that in order to avoid hangovers never pass the age of thirty. And don’t have more than one or two drinks, definitely never on an empty stomach. (Thus speaks the voice of bitter experience. And the least said about that the better, I think!)

CC: I’ve never been drunk, so I’ve never had a hangover. My failsafe plan is, therefore, don’t get drunk! Easier said than done sometimes, I know, but it works for me!

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect ​​​weekend?

EH: Almost inevitably, there will be writing and maybe podcasting. Other than that, I might be in the garden. I’ve just planted a clematis, a honeysuckle and a passion flower to climb my boring fences, and I now have a red bottlebrush — it’s a magnificent Australian plant which reminds me of my auntie’s garden in Perth.

CC: There’d definitely be some writing in there somewhere! I’d also catch a football match (and hopefully, unlike this season, we might even win!) then pack my airband radio and binoculars and head off to the airport. I’m not a plane spotter so much as a plane watcher. We sit at the end of the runway, eat fish and chips, drink tea and watch the planes come and go whilst listening to pilots and tower. It’s more fun than it sounds, believe me, you see some really unexpected sights!

Some diverse weekend plans there! Thank you very much for joining me on the blog tonight, it has been a great evening.

As well as their book, The Ghost Garden, which is described above and which you can buy here,, Eleanor and Catherine have a new book coming out on 3 September. The Captain and the Theatrical is the third book in the Captivating Captains series and you can buy a copy here.

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When Captain Pendleton needs an emergency fiancée, who better to turn to than his male best friend? After all, for Amadeo Orsini, life’s one long, happy drag!

Captain Ambrose “Pen” Pendleton might have distinguished himself on the battlefield at Waterloo but since he’s come home to civvy street, he’s struggled to make his mark.

Pen dreams of becoming a playwright but his ambitious father has other ideas, including a trophy wife and a new job in America. If he’s to stand a hope of staying in England and pursuing his dream, Pen needs to find a fiancée fast.

Amadeo Orsini never made it as a leading man, but as a leading lady he’s the toast of the continental stage. Now Cosima is about to face her most challenging role yet, that of Captain Pendleton’s secret amour.

With the help of a talking theatrical parrot who never forgets his lines, Orsini throws on his best frock, slaps on the rouge and sets out to save Pen from the clutches of Miss Harriet Tarbottom and her scheming parents.

As friendship turns into love, will the captain be able to write a happy ending for himself and Orsini before the curtain falls?

Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead began writing together in the spring of 2017 and swiftly discovered a shared love of sauce, well-dressed gents and a uniquely British sort of romance. They drink gallons of tea, spend hours discussing the importance of good tailoring and are never at a loss for a double entendre.

Their short stories and the Captivating Captains series are published by Pride. Don’t miss the de Chastelaine Chronicles, coming in 2019 from Totally Bound.

You can find more information on their writing partnership on their website.

Catherine Curzon is an author and royal historian of the 18th century.

In addition to her four non-fiction books on Georgian royalty, available from Pen & Sword, she written extensively for a number of internationally-published publications,  and has spoken at venues and events across the United Kingdom.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine can often be found cheering for the mighty Huddersfield Town. She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill with a rakish colonial gentleman, a long-suffering cat and a lively dog.

Connect with Catherine via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She knows rather a lot about poisons, and can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens, and has a huge collection of vintage hats. She is the winner of the Best Dressed Sixth Former award and came third in the under-11s race at the Colchester Fire Swim.

Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.

Connect with Eleanor via FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Next week, I will be joined by the fabulous Cressida Mclaughlin to celebrate the publication of her latest paperback, so make sure you join us.