Friday Night Drinks with… Sasha Lane

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Tonight, on Friday Night Drinks, I am joined in my virtual bar by romance author….Sasha Lane.

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

Gin and Tonic, and it has to be rhubarb gin!

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I love rhubarb gin, so I think I will join you. 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? (We can but dream of that day!)

I love the Cloud 23 Bar at the Hilton on Deansgate in Manchester. Although I live in South Yorkshire, not Manchester, this bar has a panoramic view of the city, and where you visit it by day or by night, the view is always amazing.  

This definitely looks like somewhere I need to visit when life gets back to normal! 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 love to have a drink with Marilyn Monroe. I bet she’d be great fun and we could learn a thing or two from her. She absolutely rocked it! And Justin Timberlake, because I’d love to watch him dance all night – I saw him in concert two years ago and was amazed at his dance moves, plus he’s pretty cute – I could easily hang off his arm all evening!

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?

After a hectic end to last year – I launched my fourth book two weeks before we moved house! – I’m trying to find a bit more time to read books and to work on my next project. I’m working on a new book and am trying something a bit different to my usual novels. Having written a series, I’m now working on a kid of ‘girl turns detective, chick lit crime book’. This is me trying to combine two of my loves. I’d love to write serious crime novels, but my writing style is far too lighthearted. I read Nancy Drew books as a kid and want to write something along this theme where it’s crime related but still capturing some humour and romance. 

Sounds fantastic, I loved the Nancy Drew books. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

When I did my first book signing at WHSmith in Meadowhall shopping Center they said I had outsold some of the celebrity authors they had recently had in store and immediately asked me to book back in for another signing date with them. I was overwhelmed.

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I think the marketing has been the biggest challenge as it’s led me to do things that were way outside of my comfort zone. I’ve done so many public speaking events, recorded radio interviews, live radio interviews etc that I would never have dreamed I would have done as I’m actually quite shy so this took some confidence to do. 

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 it if one of my books was made into a movie! I know it might seem like a cliché but I’d really like to see the characters I’ve created come to life, other than just in my head where they, of course, are very real!

Well, as an avid reader, I can tell you that I’m sure your characters come to life in your readers’ heads too! 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 favorite place I’ve been is New York – I fell in love with it the minute I got off the plane. The whole place just feels magical, and you don’t have to be doing anything special to feel in awe of New York. I loved just grabbing a take away coffee and strolling around Central Park watching the world go by. I loved New York so much that I write about it in both my first book, Girl Conflicted, and again in the third book, Girl, Unconventional.

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

I have a 2:1 BA Honors degree in Criminal Justice which I completed via online distance learning in my early thirties. I love Criminology and have done from a really young age – I’m not sure what that says about me! I’m just as likely to have my head in a crime novel as I am a romance one.

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 read The Runaway by Martina Cole about 20 years ago. This was the first book I read of hers, and in my opinion, the best. It’s not an easy read but you go through every emotion. No matter how many times I’ve read this book it’s probably the only book that I will still gasp out loud at, and shed a tear while reading, even though I know exactly what will happen at the end.

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You can’t run for ever.

All that prostitute’s daughter Cathy Connor and drunkard’s son Eamonn Docherty want to do is escape their grim childhoods in London’s East End. And soon events turn so dangerous they are left with no choice but to flee. Cathy to the red lit streets of Soho, Eamonn to the high ranks of gangland New York.

Now she’s a hardened survivor, he’s Gotham’s most ruthless villain, and their paths are about to cross once again…

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?

Drink a bottle of water before bed. If all else fails, although it will be agony, I go for a 20 minute run and have a fruit and protein smoothie to try to kill of cure my hangover!

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

Relaxing at the spa having some ‘me’ time – a facial, massage, and of course, a good book!

Sounds fantastic and relaxing! Sasha, thank you so much for joining me, I’ve really enjoyed our chat and finding out more about your work.

Sasha’s latest book, Girl, Always and Forever is out now. This is the latest title in her Girl series, following Girl, Conflicted,  Girl, Unhinged and Girl, Unconventional.

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Emma is turning forty, and that’s when everything in life falls in to place, right? Apparently not.

As Emma moves into a beautiful new house with her lovely boyfriend, Joe, she feels that life couldn’t get more perfect.  But perfection is short lived as Emma’s friend’s relationships all start falling apart at the seams, with adultery and mid-life crisis wreaking havoc.

Joe is also given a promotion at work meaning he is away from home in London, leaving Emma alone and under pressure to keep everything together.

Joe‘s new found love for life in the big city, and his close relationship with his new work colleague, Karen, leave Emma questioning everything.

Is she destined to follow in the footsteps of her friends, or will she and Joe stand the test of time?

A proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Sasha Lane lives in Barnsley and works full time in the finance industry but writes in her spare time, allowing her imagination to have a whole lot of freedom as she writes Chick lit novels. They’re romantic comedies with a hint of darkness.

She tries to create characters that are everyday women so hopefully readers can find something about their personality or lifestyle that they can relate to and fall in love with them as much as she has while writing about them.

The idea behind her books is to show the challenges of everyday women trying to balance jobs/careers, with family, friends and relationships. It’s hard, and sometimes you have to laugh at yourself, which the main character, Emma, does, but she also wanted to show how important friendship is too at keeping us all sane!

She loves writing romance with twists and turns, but of course, with a happy ending!

You can find out more about Sasha via her website, Facebook,  Twitter and Instagram.

Please come back next Friday for another virtual night out with…Carol Thomas. See you then.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Karen King

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Another Friday night in for everyone, so welcome to my latest edition of Friday Night Drinks and, this evening, I am delighted to be joined by fellow RNA member and author…Karen King.

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Welcome to the blog, Karen. Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Pink gin and gaseosa, which is a zero calorie soda popular here in Spain.

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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?

Probably to The Coconut, a local Tapas bar In Coín, a nearby town.

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?

Julie Walters and Paul Daniels. I think they’d be great company for 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?

Well, I’ve just re-signed with Bookouture, my current publishers, this time for two psychological thrillers. I’m delighted to be turning to the dark side and writing about relationships that have gone wrong as opposed to the romance novels I’m more known for.

Oooh, interesting! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was writing a book of 27 plays for use in schools. I also had to write teacher’s notes for each play, detailing how to make the costumes, how the children should act etc. I’d never written a play before and it was tough going.

My proudest moment was when I was approached by Bookouture and asked to write for them. I had admired the company for some time and am thrilled to be part of their team.

They are a great publisher, as a blogger, I love working with them. 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!

Having a book made into a film would be nice. 😊 

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

My first psychological thriller, which is about a woman whose husband suffers amnesiain a car crash, leaving him unable to remember their marriage, or the darkness within it.It’s a story that’s been in my head for some time so I’m excited to be actually writing 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?

It’s hard to choose. I was fascinated by Venice, the magical appearance of the houses seeming to rise out of the water, the gondolas and water taxis everywhere but the pyramids in Egypt were breathtaking so that comes a close second.

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

I’m pretty open so don’t really have any secrets so this is where I usually mention that it took me seventeen attempts and many years to pass my driving test.

Wow! 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 books I love that I couldn’t possibly recommend one. I enjoy reading lots of different genres, romance, thrillers, autobiographies, travel books. All I can say is read whatever takes your fancy but do read, books give so much pleasure and open the door to so many worlds and experiences.

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?

Alternating alcoholic drinks with soft drinks and drinking a glass of water before you go to bed is a good way to avoid a hangover. If you do get one just try and sleep it off.

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

A trip to the Saturday market in Puerto Banus would be a great way to spend themorning then lunch at one of the harbourside restaurants, followed by a shopping trip in Marbella then ending the evening in one of the nightclubs there. Sunday we could take adrive over to Benalmadena and take a boat trip around the bay, have a paddle in the sea, then grab some souvenirs at the local shops, drive back to my home in Cartama and have tapas and drinks around the pool with friends.

That sounds busy but fun! Karen, thank you for keeping me company this evening, it’s been wonderful.

Karen’s book, The Year of Starting Over is the perfect feelgood novel to cheer you up and take you away during this period of enforced idleness and isolation. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, you can buy a copy here.

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What if – to find yourself – you had to run away?

Last year was meant to be when Holly got her happy-ever-after. But stuck in a job that’s going nowhere, and a relationship that feels more like it’s going backwards… this year Holly has decided it’s time to change her life. She just has to:

– End the relationship with the commitment-phobic boyfriend
– Go on a proper adventure
– Learn to be herself again
– Definitely, categorically not fall in love.

Cramming her belongings into her little yellow Mini, Holly drives on to a ferry bound to Spain, to stay at a remote farmhouse near a beautiful village in the Andalusian hills.

But the day she arrives she nearly crashes her car into a gorgeous guy on a motorbike. He’s called Matias and their paths keep crossing, much to Holly’s irritation. Because as she learns to speak Spanish from the locals, finally starts laying out plans for her own design business, and sips sangria in the sunlit village square, Holly is beginning to remember who she is and what she wants.

So she won’t allow herself be distracted by Matias. Because this year – for Holly – there are more important things in life than love. And she won’t let yet another bad relationship ruin everything… will she?

Karen King was born in Birmingham and has always enjoyed reading and writing. She’s been published for over thirty years, in a variety of genres for both children and adults. She loves writing about the complexities of relationships. She has had eight romance novels published, is currently published by Bookouture and is thrilled to have signed a two book contract with them for psychological thrillers where she can explore the darker side of relationships.

Karen now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.

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

Next week, I am due to be joined for drinks by author, Sasha Lane, so watch this space.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Catherine Kullmann @CKullmannAuthor #RegencyRomance #HistFic #FridayNightDrinks #ThePotentialForLove

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A lot of people will find themselves at virtual bars tonight, but I’ve been doing it since before it was cool, and I’m delighted to be joined for socially-distanced drinks tonight by author…..Catherine Kullmann.

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Catherine, I hope you are keeping well. Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thank you for the invitation. I’ll have a Bronx, please. It’s a version of a dry martini with fresh orange juice added. I came across it in one of Georgette Heyer’s 1930s detective stories and had to try it. Delicious but insidious.

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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?

Shelbourne Social in Dublin. This restaurant has a lovely cocktail bar so we can start there, move downstairs for dinner and then go back upstairs for a digestif or two.

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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?

Georgette Heyer—she is said to have been very reserved, but, judging by her books, she had a great sense of humour and I would love to talk to her about the Regency. My male guest must be Thomas Creevey MP whose entertaining letters give a real insight into the Regency period and beyond, right up to the ascension to the throne of Queen Victoria. And, if you allow me a married couple as well, I would love to chat to Sir Harry Smith and his wife Juana de los Dolores de León. Their true love story is one of the best Regency romances ever and inspired Georgette Heyer’s The Spanish Bride.

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?

My new book, The Potential for Love, will be released next week, on Wednesday 25 March. Set in 1816, it continues the Waterloo arc of my previous novels, this time looking at what happens after the end of the Napoleonic wars. The heroine, Arabella Malvin, is mourning the loss of her brother at Waterloo while the hero, Major Thomas Ferraunt returns to England from occupied Paris after six years in the Peninsula with the army.

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

The day after my first book, The Murmur of Masks, was released, a reader in Sylvania, Georgia posted it on Goodreads with a four star rating. I was suddenly out there as a real author.

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 The biggest challenge is to find time for writing, marketing, promotion etc. etc.

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!

As it’s just us—I think my Duchess of Gracechurch trilogy would make a fantastic television series. Set from 1803 to 1816, three interlinked novels celebrate family, friendship and love in all its guises, with some wonderful scenes at Watier’s Masquerade in 1814 and Brussels and Waterloo, not to mention a duel, three major and two minor love stories, and beautiful Regency costumes.

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

I am working on the last book in the Waterloo arc. It takes place six years later. The heroine lost her fiancée at Waterloo and has had no interest in love or marriage since. But then she is made an unexpected offer and must decide does she want to remain in the shallows for the rest of her life or risk deep water again.

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 late husband and I travelled a lot and it is very hard to say which was my favourite place. Greece is my favourite country, I think. We travelled extensively there and there is so much to see and do.

At this stage in my life, I am more interested in revisiting places than discovering new ones. First on my list is Sorrento in Italy.

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

I love to plan—it is my coping mechanism—but have no problem ditching one plan and developing another. 

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 cannot imagine a life or a house without books. The Beacon at Alexandria by Gillian Bradshaw is one of my absolute favourites. Set in the fourth century AD, it is the story of an upper-class Roman girl who runs away from home and disguises herself as a eunuch so that she can train as a doctor in Alexandria. Charis is an intriguing character and the book gives wonderful insights into the late Roman Empire, the development of Christianity and the beginning of the rise of the Goths and Huns. And there is a hero to die for.

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In the first century Roman Empire, Charis, a young woman determined to become a doctor, flees from an arranged marriage, and, disguised as a eunuch, journeys to Alexandria to continue her studies

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?

Pace yourself and drink water or tea in between and get some sleep. If I do get a hangover, first paracetamol, then tea, toast and marmalade, and finally a walk in the sea air. 

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

As you would all be visitors to Dublin, I would love to show you my city on Saturday, with your choice of concert, theatre or an Irish music session in the pub in the evening. If there is time on Sunday before you go to the airport, we could have a walk followed by lunch in the little fishing village of Howth to the north of Dublin.

Catherine, that sounds perfect. Thank you for joining me, it has been  pleasure toccata with you and good luck for the new book.

Catherine’s new book, The Potential for Love, is out next week and you can buy a copy here.

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When Arabella Malvin sees the figure of an officer silhouetted against the sun, for one interminable moment she thinks he is her brother, against all odds home from Waterloo. But it is Major Thomas Ferraunt, the rector’s son, newly returned from occupied Paris who stands in front of her.

For over six years, Thomas’s thoughts have been of war. Now he must ask himself what his place is in this new world and what he wants from it. More and more, his thoughts turn to Miss Malvin, but would Lord Malvin agree to such a mismatch for his daughter, especially when she is being courted by Lord Henry Danlow?

As Arabella embarks on her fourth Season, she finds herself more in demand than ever before. But she is tired of the life of a debutante, waiting in the wings for her real life to begin. She is ready to marry. But which of her suitors has the potential for love and who will agree to the type of marriage she wants?

As she struggles to make her choice, she is faced with danger from an unexpected quarter while Thomas is stunned by a new challenge. Will these events bring them together or drive them apart?

Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector.

Catherine has always been interested in the extended Regency period, a time when the foundations of our modern world were laid. Her books are set against a background of the offstage, Napoleonic wars and consider in particular the situation of women trapped in a patriarchal society. She also blogs about historical facts and trivia related to this era.

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

Next week, join me again for Friday Night Drinks with author, Karen King.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Diane Saxon @Diane_Saxon @Boldwoodbooks @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #TheKeeper #Copycat

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Tonight I am joined for Friday Night Drinks  by fellow RNA Member and author….Diane Saxon.

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Diane, welcome to the blog and thank you for coming along this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Good evening Julie, and thank you so much for inviting me around. I’m a red wine drinker and currently I have a really nice Malbec from Argentina in my glass.

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Sounds lovely. 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, I’d probably take you to my local bar and restaurant, The Ugly Duckling. They serve lovely food and have a good selection of wines and have a lovely atmosphere.

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?

Hugh Jackman – without a doubt. I think he’s not only gorgeous, but intelligent, engaging and so in love with his wife that you can’t help but admire him.

Other than Hugh Jackman’s Debbie, (who can come along too) I would also choose Nora Roberts. A fascinating woman, very direct, and I believe great fun 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?

I’m currently pounding through the next book in my DS Jenna Morgan series. Burn! is the working title, but that will probably change. It’s book three of the four-book deal I have with Boldwood Books and my hero and heroine are dicing with a drug lord. I have a plan, but that could all fall by the wayside pretty soon if my characters don’t cooperate.

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

Proudest moment. When Boldwood offered me a four-book deal.

Biggest challenge. I’ll have to think about that one. I’m quite philosophical so challenges come, I wade through them, I carry on. I don’t dwell on them. 

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 for the BBC to call me and offer to buy the series for a drama production. That’s all. Not much to ask for.

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

As above.

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 have a travel bucket list too. I adore travelling and do a city visit every year with my girls and a beach holiday with hubster (and quite often the girls too). I have so many places I’ve adored, but I try not to go back as there are so many more to see. Up there amongst the favourites was Canada in a Winnebago. 

One day I’d love to visit the Great Wall of China, but I suspect it won’t be for a while.

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

I used to kiss dung beetles when I was a little girl living in Africa.

Was there a particular reason for kissing the dung beetles?! 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’?

Okay, this is by far the most difficult question, because I absolutely love books and my ‘must-read’ recommendation probably changes on a daily basis. So, I will give three answers. 

One which will always remain a favourite as my sister, Margaret, read it to me when I was nine or ten and made me fall in love with romance. The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

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Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. So when she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts – who never leaves survivors – her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So starts a fairytale like no other, of fencing, fighting, torture, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, hunters, bad men, good men, beautifulest ladies, snakes, spiders, beasts, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles.

The second is When The Lion Feeds by Wilbur Smith. I sneaked it away from my dad and read it when I was fourteen and it opened my world. 

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Brothers by birth. Enemies by blood.

Natal, 1860; the Courtney twins are born. Heirs to their father’s fortune, destiny divides the boys from the start – Garrick is eager to stay indoors with a book and escape the hardships of cattle-rearing, while Sean, strong and much-loved, wants to try his hand at everything. When Garrick is forced to take ownership of their farm, Sean must explore the opportunities awaiting him: the rush and horrors of the Zulu Wars, the women who will fall for his charms, the rise and fall of gold fever and the deadly thrills of big game hunting on the African plains. But will Sean’s adventures really be his making – and at what ultimate cost . . . ?

The third is (today at least) is *drumroll* – no, no I just can’t choose…

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?

Ah, I see you stumble a little, but what you never realized was that for each glass of wine I’ve had, I’ve accompanied it with a glass of water, so I’ve actually only had three all evening. I do love a glass of wine, but I don’t ever get drunk. I know the exact moment to stop. This comes from experience and the desperate desire never to be sick. That’s my true failsafe. I don’t get a hangover, but I would waste really good wine if I had too much and I’ve learnt never to do that.

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

My perfect weekend is walking with my gorgeous dogs. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, I’m as happy in the pouring rain as I am in the sunshine. If its autumn, I’ll pick blackberries. A deserted beach is beautiful, and woodlands inspire all sorts of dark storylines. 

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They are absolutely gorgeous! Diane, thank you so much for joining me for a chat this evening, it has been an absolute pleasure.

Diane’s brand new book, Copycat, is out now and you can buy a copy here. This is the second book in the DS Jenna Morgan series, which started with The Keeper.

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Is he still out there?

When a beautiful, red haired nurse’s body is found mutilated in her house in Lawley the morning after a date with Detective Constable Ryan Downey, all eyes turn to him.

With a very specific modus operandi, Detective Sergeant Jenna Morgan and her team know exactly who the offender is, the trouble is he’s currently serving a life stretch in HMP Long Lartin.

It soon becomes evident to DS Morgan and her team that there maybe a copycat killer is on the loose.

In a race against time, they need to track down the copycat and discover who is pulling whose strings?

Diane Saxon lives in the Shropshire countryside with her tall, dark, handsome husband. She has two gorgeous daughters, a Dalmatian, two cats, numerous rare breed chickens, and a black Labrador called Beau–a name borrowed by her hero in For Heaven’s Cakes.

After working for years in a demanding job, Diane gave it up when her husband said, “Follow that dream.” She subsequently has 12 Romances published for the U.S. market.

Inspired by her long, lonely walks in atmospheric woodlands, Diane has gone over to the dark side to write British psychological crime thrillers.

You can find out more about Diane via her website,  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Next week I will be having Friday Night Drinks with author, Catherine Kullmann.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Lizzie Chantree @Lizzie_Chantree @crookedcatbooks @RNATweets #CreativeBizHour #FridayNightDrinks #IfYouLoveMeImYours

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Tonight, I am thrilled to be joined on the blog for Friday Night Drinks by fellow RNA member, author, entrepreneur, creative mentor and founder of #CreativeBizHour…. Lizzie Chantree.

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

I’d love a Mojito! 

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Love a mojito, let’s have one (or two!) each. 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’d take you to a lively bar for cocktails and next for a Mexican meal. Then back to the cocktail bar. I really enjoy listening to live music, but a meal is a social place to sit and chat. 

Good plan. 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’d invite Ed Sheeran and Beyonce. I love hearing their new music and am fascinated by how they come up with their lyrics. They are both inspirational and I’d probably wear them out with questions about their craft.

Not had either of them before, so those are good 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?

I published my first book at the age of forty and am now writing my 9th novel. I write contemporary romances about female entrepreneurs with some pretty zany businesses. They get up to all sorts of trouble and have lots of giggles along the way. My books are full of friendship, laugher and sizzling men! I ran my own business for over fifteen years until I began writing, then my new career took over. I now also work as a business mentor.

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

Seeing all of my published books become international bestsellers and my most recent hitting the #1 spot twice has been amazing. I have had such support from the writing and book loving community, that I can’t thank them enough for their advice and for them picking up my books to read and telling their friends and family about them. 

My biggest challenge has been learning about marketing. Even the word used to scare me! Now I really enjoy chatting to readers and give seminars to help other writers move forward in their careers. I also run a networking hour on Twitter called #CreativeBizHour for creative businesses, to help spread the word about their work. We often have millions of views in one hour and #CreativeBizHour has been trending most weeks for over four years now. 

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 see all of my books made into films! That would be a dream come true. 

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

I’ve just finished a manuscript and it’s in first edits. I can’t wait for it to be ready. I have a new book out with an American publisher next year and I’m waiting to find out what their designers have come up with for the cover. It’s a really exciting time. I currently have both French and American publishers. 

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 absolutely love being in France or Spain. I have written a lot of my books whilst on holiday there and find the scenery really inspiring. I’m happy anywhere with views and the sea or mountains. I enjoy spending time near the U.K. coastline too. We are lucky that we have such beautiful scenery here. Cornwall is one of my favourites.

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

I was one of the Female Inventors of the Year as voted by Fair Play London and The Patent Office. I invented a ‘ladder’ or ‘run’ stop spray for hosiery. From this my first customers were two very big high street chains. It was a real experience and a lot of fun. I went on a lot of television shows including This Morning, Sky news and the ITV lunchtime news. 

Wow, exciting! 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’?

Anything by Heidi Catherine. She’s a bestselling author of fantasy books and she has a new novel out soon that I can’t wait to read. 

I’ve not come across her before, I shall have to take a look. 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?

Tea and two slices of toast before bed! Not everyone’s idea of a good idea, but it works for me. Plus drinks lots of water. I’m an absolute lightweight with drink, so I’m giddy after two glasses of wine. It doesn’t stop me from dancing the night away though.

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

A lie in and then brunch with family or friends would be the perfect weekend for me. Most of my good ideas for a day out include food! ☺

Mine too! Lizzie, thank you for joining me, it’s been great fun and I hope we get to do it for real at this year’s RNA Conference.

Lizzie’s latest book is If You Love Me, I’m Yours, and you can get a copy here.

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‘If you love me, I’m yours…’

Maud didn’t mind being boring, not really. She had a sensible job, clothes, and love life… if you counted an overbearing ex who had thanked her, rolled over and was snoring before she even realised he’d begun! She could tolerate not fulfilling her dreams, if her parents would pay her one compliment about the only thing she was passionate about in life: her art.

Dot should have fit in with her flamboyant and slightly eccentric family of talented artists, but somehow, she was an anomaly who couldn’t paint. She tried hard to be part of their world by becoming an art agent extraordinaire, but she dreamed of finding her own voice.

Dot’s brother Nate, a smoulderingly sexy and famous artist, was adored by everyone. His creative talent left them in awe of his ability to capture such passion on canvas. Women worshipped him, and even Dot’s friend Maud flushed and bumped into things when he walked into a room, but a tragic event in his past had left him emotionally and physically scarred, and reluctant to face the world again.

Someone was leaving exquisite little paintings on park benches, with a tag saying, ‘If you love me, I’m yours’. The art was so fresh and cutting-edge, that it generated a media frenzy and a scramble to discover where the mystery artist could be hiding. The revelation of who the prodigious artist was interlinked Maud, Dot and Nate’s lives forever, but their worlds came crashing down.

Were bonds of friendship, love and loyalty strong enough to withstand fame, success and scandal?

Award-winning inventor and author, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

You can find out more about Lizzie and her work on her website, Facebook,  TwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Next week, I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by author, Diane Saxon, so please do come back then.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Emily Royal @eroyalauthor @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #LondonLibertines

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Thrilled to be joined for Friday Night Drinks tonight by fellow RNA member and historical romance author, Sally Calder, who writes under the pen name…. Emily Royal.

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

It’s a pleasure! Thanks for having me. I’ll be drinking gin & tonic. I’m picky, so if I’m allowed to mention brand names, it has to be Bombay Sapphire with a slice of lime or Monkey 47 with a slice of pink grapefruit. And for the tonic, only Fevertree will do.

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I agree, Bombay Sapphire is the best. 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?

An Italian restaurant – not a chain, but something family run with an authentic menu. Can I recommend Cosmoba in London? Failing that, I’m always up for a curry! Most of my favourite nights out centre around food.

Italian is my favourite cuisine so I would love that. If you ever find yourself in Dublin, do check out Il Vicoletto in Temple Bar, it’s my favourite. 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?

This is so tough! There’s lots of famous people I admire but I don’t know if I’d enjoy being in their company for a whole night out.

I’m a big fan of Tommie Smith, the athlete who won the gold medal in the 200m sprint in the 1968 Mexico Olympics and staged the silent protest on the podium together with John Carlos, the bronze medalist. But as our male guest, I’ll go for Peter Norman, the Australian athlete who won the silver medal in the same race. He supported Tommie and John, and was heavily criticized for it, but he always seems to get forgotten. I’d love to hear his story.

For the female I was tempted to go for either Tonya Harding, another controversial athlete – or Christine Keeler, whose story I’ve always been fascinated by. But I’ll plump for Eleanor of Aquitaine. The toughest of tough ladies, she was a duchess in her own right, queen consort of France, queen of England, acted as regent for a while and gave birth to three kings, weathered an unhappy marriage, was imprisoned for 16 years, staged a rebellion against her husband and lived into her 80’s which is quite remarkable for the thirteenth century! I think she’d have a lot to talk about to keep us entertained.

Interesting 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?

I’m currently traditionally published with a handful of small presses. But I’ve just recently begun to make plans for some indy projects. I’m researching the whole process of formatting and publishing as well as cover design, to see which parts of the process I can confidently do myself and which parts I’ll need to contract out. Ideally I’d love to be a hybrid author with my projects split between traditional and indie. My current draft-in-progress is the fifth book in my Regency series which makes references to a famous chess match.

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

I’m tempted to say the proudest moment was when I had my first offer of a contract on a novel – but I think it has to be the first time I had a formal critique. The reviewer’s positive feedback was a pivotal moment which made me believe I was capable of writing a novel which didn’t suck! If I’m allowed to state another, I think it was when I was sent the first rough cut of a cover for my debut novel and it began to sink in that this was really happening!

The biggest challenge has been to force myself to keep on writing. When I get a stinky review on Amazon which dents the rating, or when I’ve been waiting weeks for a publisher or agent to respond to a query/pitch, it’s really easy to talk myself into believing the negatives and ignore the positives. But I force myself to shift focus onto a new project and concentrate on that. Another big challenge is accepting that time is a finite resource. I have a lot of ideas for different projects and genres, but a) there’s only 24 hours in a day, and b) for many of those, I’m working on my day job, rather than writing.

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!

An orange bestseller flag on Amazon. I’d love one of those. Even if just for one hour!

Great ambition! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

Quite a lot! I released three novels last year and I’m currently drafting another three in the same series and have some early ideas for a series of novellas in the same genre. I have three more books I’d drafted a few years ago – same genre, different time period – which I’ve earmarked for indy projects, so that will be exciting as it’s all part of my plan to branch out into being a hybrid author. As well as that, I have outline plans for some secret projects in a completely different genre and under a different name.

Busy woman. 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?

Favourite place has to be Rotorua in New Zealand where we spent our honeymoon. It’s close to loads of sulphur springs and volcanoes, and is one of the friendliest towns I’ve ever been to. Top of my bucket list would be the Galapagos Islands.

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

I once hijacked a passenger train at a major airport.

What? You can’t leave that hanging! We need more details! 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’?

Skallagrigg by William Horwood, One of my keepers which I can never get through without crying!

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Skallagrigg unites Arthur, a little boy abandoned many years ago in a grim hospital in northern England with Esther, a radiantly intelligent young girl who is suffering from cerebral palsy, and with Daniel, an American computer-games genius.

Skallagrigg – whatever the name signifies, whoever he is – will come to transform all their lives. And William Horwood’s inspired, heart-rending story of rescue and redemptive love will undoubtedly touch your life 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?

Before going out, in anticipation of a heavy night: drink a pint of milk

While you’re out: eat lots of carbohydrates while drinking

If you’re young enough: go clubbing. I always had a clear head after a bout of energetic dancing

On arriving home drunk and before going to bed: drink at least two pints of water

The morning after: A fizzy drink with Vitamin C in, and a big greasy fry-up

Very specific, thank you. I think my clubbing day are behind me, alas. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

A log cabin in the mountains, tucked away from the rest of civilization.

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Emily, I have had a wonderful evening, thank you for spending it with me and I wish you huge success with your future projects.

Emily is the author of historical romances, including the London Libertines series, Henry’s BrideHawthorne’s Wife and Roderick’s Widow.

Readers signing up to Emily’s newsletter will receive a free novella (a prequel to London Libertines, but a standalone story).

Emily Royal is a confessed mathematics geek and a hopeless romantic with a passion for alpha heroes. From an early age she dreamed about knights in shining armour, Medieval castles, Highland Heroes and Regency rogues. She lives in rural Scotland with her husband, children and menagerie of exotic pets, including Twinkle, an attention-seeking boa constrictor.

From an early age she devoured romance novels but set aside her passion to focus on university, work and raising a family. But after a long career in financial services she re-ignited her love of romantic fiction when she stumbled across the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s website and joined their New Writers’ Scheme.

You can find out more about Emily and her work via her websiteFacebook and Twitter.

Next week I am having Friday Night Drinks with author, Lizzie Chantree, so please do join us.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Katerina Diamond @TheVenomousPen @AvonBooksUK @RichardAyoade #FridayNightDrinks #WomanInTheWater

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Very pleased to welcome to the blog tonight for Friday Night Drinks, one of my favourite authors newly-discovered since I started book blogging….Katerina Diamond.

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

I’m not a big drinker to be honest but I’ll have the Pina Colada. 

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That’ll remind us of tropical shores on a chilly, winter evening.  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?

Somewhere with a view I think. I love the sea so  maybe a beach front Tiki bar. 

Perfect for pina coladas, they always taste better if you drink them with your feet in the sand and accompanied by the sound of gentle waves lapping a beach. 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?

For the male I would invite Richard Ayoade, he seems like a total blast to hang out with, clever and funny and I love his dry sense of humour. For the female I would invite Agatha Christie, a natural born storyteller, I think she would be very interesting.

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?

I am currently working on my second standalone novel which is the eighth novel I have written. The first six belonged in my Police procedural series. This one is a bit of a departure for me. I had the idea for this book about a year ago (at the cinema while watching Deadpool 2) I’m looking forward to seeing what peoples reaction to it is. 

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

I think my proudest moment was probably getting a publishing deal at all. And everything that has happened since has been mostly amazing. My biggest challenge is always the blank page, starting a new project and thinking I have forgotten how to write a book. 

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!

As we’re only talking – I’d say – a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio in it – not that I have written a role suitable for him yet but maybe I should. 

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There are worse places to get inspiration! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m always more excited for the next project as opposed to the one I am working on! I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into my next standalone. 

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 think my favourite place ive ever been was a place called Keri Lighthouse on the island of Zakynthos – it was such a magical place.

I would really love to go to Hawaii but I absolutely hate flying so I don’t know if it will ever happen.

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

This is really tricky. I am really crafty and I used to run a market stall full of things I had made like dolls and petticoats and cushions and jewelry. 

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’?

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn. It’s a few years old now but I absolutely love it. 

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In his palace at Inuyama, Lord Iida Sadamu, warlord of the Tohan clan, surveys his famous nightingale floor. Its surface sings at the tread of every human foot, and no assassin can cross it.

But sixteen-year-old Otori Takeo, his family murdered by Iida’s warriors, has the magical skills of the Tribe – preternatural hearing, invisibility, a second self – that enable him to enter the lair of the Tohan. He has love in his heart and death at his fingertips . . .

I’ve read that book, it is indeed wonderful and I second your recommendation. 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?

Drink lots of water – it’s that simple. 

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

Cuddled up on the sofa with my cats Max and Fez watching old Cagney and Lacey. 

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Kat, thank you so much for joining me, it has been lovely to get to know you better and I look forward to your next book.

Katerina’s current book, Woman in the Water is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here. If you would like to read my recent review of the book, you can find it by following this link.

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I’m alive. But I can’t be saved . . .

When a woman’s body is found submerged in icy water, police are shocked to find she is alive. But she won’t disclose her name, or what happened to her – even when a second body is discovered. And then she disappears from her hospital bed.

Detectives Adrian Miles and Imogen Grey follow their only lead to the home of the Corrigans, looking for answers. But the more they dig into the couple’s lives, the less they understand about them.

What’s their connection to the body in the river?

Why have other people they know been hurt, or vanished?

And can they discover the dark truth of their marriage before it’s too late?

Katerina Diamond is the author of the Sunday Times Best Selling Exeter-based crime thriller series – starting with ‘The Teacher’ and followed by The Secret, The Angel, The Promise and Truth or Die. Katerina is currently working on her seventh novel which is a standalone.

Katerina also runs the facebook book group CRIME SUSPECT with several other crime authors.

Katerina currently lives in East Kent. Katerina was born in Weston-super-Mare and has lived in various places since including Greece, Cyprus, Derby, East London and Exeter. Katerina watches way too much TV.

You can find out more about Katerina and her books via her website and by following her on Facebook,  Twitter and Instagram.

Next week, I will be joined on Friday Night Drinks by author, Sally Calder.