Friday Night Drinks with….Elaine Everest @ElaineEverest @RNATweets @panmacmillan @peterjamesuk #FridayNightDrinks

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Tonight, I am delighted to be having Friday Night Drinks with author and fellow member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association….Elaine Everest.

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Elaine, thank you so much for taking the time to join me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thank you for inviting me for drinks, Julie. A glass of Prosecco would go down a treat!

Dry January is finally over, so joining you in a glass of Prosecco would seem the perfect way to celebrate. Cheers! 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 would be delightful to meet in real life. After careful thought, I’d take you along to one of the writing classes I run. My novel writing students at The Write Place in Hextable, Kent would love to meet you. We often celebrate publishing successes with cake and bubbly so with luck you could celebrate with us. The writers also like to meet real life bloggers so there would be a list of questions for you to answer!

That sounds great, I love meeting other writers. 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?

Being selfish I would like to invite along Winston Churchill to quiz him about WW2 as he does pop up in my books occasionally as my characters are extremely pro Churchill. The second person would have to be a writer, and who better than crime writer Peter James. I’m hooked on his books and we share the same publisher although he is oblivious to my existence!

Interesting choices! Maybe Peter will see this, who knows? 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?

At the moment I am writing about Woolworths once again. This time we leave the war years behind and visit 1947 and 1948. I’m busy researching what went on at that time in history and how it would affect my characters. 

Sounds like fun but a lot of work. I have always been immensely in awe of people who write detailed historical fiction and all the research that entails. I have an idea for a dual timeline plot for a future book but the idea is a little intimidating, I have to admit. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment has been when readers contact me to say how much they love my stories and to share their own experiences of working in Woolworths. Ten years after this iconic store closed it is still thought of with fondness. My biggest challenge has been not to disappoint my readers and to make sure I don’t fabricate what went on at that time. Whether it is worldwide events, local news, or Woolies itself I must stay true to the time and the people – no pressure!

Rather you than me, I know how critical we readers can be if we spot incorrect details. (I almost threw a book last year after the writer twisted a fundamental point of UK law, only the fact of it being on my Kindle stopped me!) 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!

My goodness what a question! I’d like to be taken seriously as an author of historical fiction. So often saga writers are not taken as seriously as writers of other genres. Also, we have this tag of being ‘romantic writers’ with a pink and frothy image. Many of my friends in the writing world will agree that sagas and romance are seen on every supermarket shelf and are often found in the best seller charts so it is time to take us all seriously! So if I may I’d like to share my wish with my fellow writers if that is okay?

Of course, I agree that romance writers and saga writers do not seem to get the respect they deserve, given how popular those genres are. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

As mentioned earlier, I’ve rolled up my sleeves to get stuck into Wedding Bells at Woolworths (a working title) as it has to be filed with my publisher, Pan Macmillan, in mid April. However, the first book in my new series about the women who worked as Nippies in the Joe Lyons teashops on the Kent coast will be published on May 2nd. The Teashop Girls is already available for pre order and has the most fabulous cover, thanks to the designers at Pan Macmillan – such a great team to work with. Already I have ideas for book two in the series and beginning to feel excited about taking Rose, Lily an Katie into 1941…

As for further book ideas – there are so many that I need more hours in the day.

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It is early 1940 and World War Two has already taken a hold on the country. Rose Neville works as a Lyon’s Teashop Nippy on the Kent coast alongside her childhood friends, the ambitious Lily and Katie, whose fiancé is about to be posted overseas in the navy. As war creates havoc in Europe, Rose relies on the close friendship of her friends and her family.

When Capt. Benjamin Hargreaves walks into her life, Rose is immediately drawn to him. But as Lyon’s forbids courting between staff and customers, she tries to put the handsome officer out of her mind.

In increasingly dark and dangerous times, Rose fears there may not be time to waste. But is the dashing captain what he seems?

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 one of those people who has always owned dogs – many dogs – and along with my husband we have exhibited, bred and been involved in the dog world since way back when… When we’ve had at least half a dozen Old English Sheepdogs in the house, holidays and travel is spent going to dog shows and staying in cottages in the UK where we have enjoyed many lovely holidays. However, having just the one dog at the moment – Henry is a Polish Lowland Sheepdog – and as I hit a ‘special’ birthday at Christmas, I will soon be striking something off my bucket list. Many many years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I went to Switzerland on a school trip. It has always been my dream to return so we are doing that this coming summer. We will be travelling by train from St Pancras station on a tour that will take in many places that I want to show my husband. Henry will be going into kennels – sshh, he thinks it is a luxury holiday home for precious pooches!

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That sounds wonderful, I hope you enjoy the trip and that Henry is happy in his luxury dog hotel! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

My goodness I’m such a blabbermouth that I’ve told most of my secrets. Hmm I used to be a Brown Owl and run a Brownie pack in Erith, Kent – very much as one of my characters does in the Woolworths series. When I married in 1972 as an innocent eighteen year old (with a mortgage), all the Brownies arrived and stood to attention as we left the church. Not a major secret but a happy memory!

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’d like to take you back to my childhood year when my parents took us to Ramsgate for two weeks each year – before we graduated to the Isle of Wight. I would accompany my mum to the second hand bookshop where we would spend hours rummaging for hidden gems. This is where I discovered Little Women and to this day can recall the delight of finding a character in that book to identify with. Yes, I wanted to be Jo and write all day and create magical characters. Mum died when I was seventeen but I do hope she knows that this child’s dream came true.  

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This is one of my all-time favourite books and I, too, dreamed of being Jo March and writing in my garret, wrapped in a shawl and eating russet apples. So lovely that your dream has come true (minus garret, I assume). 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?

A large cup of tea and a bacon sandwich! I’m not sure if it does cure a hangover but at least I can enjoy the experiment. 

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

I’d make a trip to M&S to purchase some of their yummy pre cooked food and then spend the rest of the weekend reading, eating and watching old movies on television. My husband can walk Henry!

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Julie and cheers! xx

No, thank you for agreeing to come on, I have enjoyed our chat immensely and I hope we can do it for real at an RNA event this year…I will seek you out and pick your brains about historical research! 

Elaine’s Woolworths series, including the latest, A Gift from Woolworths, are out now and you can get a copy here. Elaine’s new book, The Teashop Girls will be published on 2 May and you can pre-order it here.

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As the war moves into 1945 the lives of the women of Woolworths continue. When store manager, Betty Billington, announces she is expecting Douglas’s baby her future life is about to change more than she expects.

Freda has fallen in love with the handsome Scottish engineer but will it end happily?

Maisie loves being a mother and also caring for her two nieces although she still has her own dreams. When her brother appears on the scene he brings unexpected danger to the family.

Meanwhile Sarah dreams of her husband’s return and a cottage with roses around the door but Woolworths beckons.

Will our girls sail into times of peace, or will they experience more heartache and sorrow? With a wedding on the horizon, surely only happiness lies ahead – or does it?

Elaine Everest, author of Bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths, and Wartime at Woolworths was born and brought up in North West Kent, where many of her books are set. She has been a freelance writer for twenty years and has written widely for women’s magazines and national newspapers, with both short stories and features. Her non-fiction books for dog owners have been very popular and led to broadcasting on radio about our four legged friends. Elaine has been heard discussing many topics on radio from canine subjects to living with a husband under her feet when redundancy looms.

When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school at The Howard Venue in Hextable, Kent and has a long list of published students. 

Elaine lives with her husband, Michael, and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, in Swanley, Kent and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Crime Writers Association, The Society of Women Writers & Journalists and The Society of Authors.

To find out more about Elaine and her books, join her on social media:

Facebook: Elaine Everest Author

Twitter: @ElaineEverest

Next week, I will be drinking with one of my favourite book bloggers, Jo Park, of Over The Rainbow Book Blog, so make sure you join us.

Friday Night Drinks with….Wendy Clarke from The Fiction Cafe @TheFictionCafe #FridayNightDrinks #GuestPost #MadisonWard #TheFictionCafeBookClub #BookClub #amwriting #FictionCafeWriters

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I know I have been promising this guest for quite a while now but finally, at last, I am delighted to welcome to Friday Night Drinks, the founder of The Fiction Cafe Book Club, my favourite corner of the internet, my online writing group, The Fiction Cafe – Writers Group and a host of other brilliant related Facebook groups we will talk about later….. drumroll…….Wendy Clarke!

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Wendy, glad you finally made it! First things first, what are you drinking?

Had you asked me that this time last year it would have been anything from a pink gin and ginger ale to a Bailey’s but in April last year I gave up alchol and started drinking water! 

Now though, it’s coffee. I’m a little bit of a coffee addict!

At last, I’m not the only non-drinker at the table (if only for another six days anyway). 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 rarely go out as I prefer the quiet, warm of my home around my family, but if we were going ‘out out’, I’d take you to my daughter Bethany’s work place, which is a Cocktail Bar, restaurant. The Oat Hill which is in Market Harborough. She is training to be a chef. I’d treat you to a three-course meal from the A La Carte menu, cooked by my beautiful daughter. 

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I would really enjoy that. You must be very proud. 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?

Ooh, I have no idea on this one. I’m not that wowed by celebrities. I’d probably rather spend the time talking together. If I had to choose someone, maybe the character’s Joey Tribiani and Phoebe Buffet, from Friends I think they would be pretty funny to spend time with. Plus Joey doesn’t share food so no sharing would be needed!

Good choice! 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, 2018 was a really busy year and I didn’t get a lot done due to illness and busy groups. I have totally failed at getting my book edited, which I had planned to finish by end of last year. I need to knuckle down and get that done. The debut is a thriller but may be leaning a little more toward crime. I have several ideas for further novels all floating around in my head. Two of which will be books two and three with similar themes. They are both themed with something I’m really passionate about and feel will help people connect.

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Aside from my writing, the Fiction Café groups have been my most valued achievement. I started off by creating a little book group which would be a welcoming, friendly environment for people to talk about books. What I’ve managed to create, with the help of several admins, past and present, and of course the wonderful Tera Tidwell who was co-founder of the Café, is a group where people want to spend their time. We have also expanded in the last two years and now have a ‘franchise’ of additional groups, I’m not sure if franchise is the correct word, but sister groups doesn’t quite feel right either. With our other groups we also offer a unique element of respect and kindness which isn’t found in many book clubs. I do feel very proud of what I have achieved and although it is one hell of lot of work behind the scenes ensuring the group runs smoothly, I couldn’t do it without my wonderful admins. The last few months have been really tough but they have all supported me in a way you wouldn’t believe and I think the team we have currently, together will achieve great things. I can’t thank them enough for what they do for me and the groups and for their friendship. 

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You have truly created something remarkable in The Fiction Cafe. It is a friendly, fun, respectful group where there is never any nastiness, just a love and joy of books. It is totally my favourite place online and I have made some great friends there, so thank you! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

Oh most definitely the Fiction Café groups. I probably should have read ahead and added that here! 

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!

My dream is to publish and hold my paperback in my hand and sell one signed book! It’s a very simple dream, I’m not bothered about being successful, although obviously that would be nice, I just want to write, publish and sell my novel to show people I can. It isn’t a pipe dream, it will be my future. Ideally, I’d like to be a writer full time. I’d love to write a crime series with many books in it but I am very far off from that at the moment. 

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We share the same dream there, along with a lot of other members of The Fiction Cafe – Writers Group. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

My debut. It is my first novel that has taken a different turn from the original storyline that I had but I think it will be a shocker. People who know me will be surprised at my dark side. I write under a pen name of Madison Ward.

I also have another project for an anthology that nobody knows about so this is exclusive news! It wont be out until after my debut novel so unfortunately you will have a little wait yet. 

Wow, a scoop! How exciting! You heard it here first, folks. Thank you for sharing that with me. 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 funny story about bucket lists actually. When I first started dating Phil, we used to talk about all the things we would do together and we did create a bucket list of things to do. The first one though was funny because I didn’t know the name for it so I said I wanted to roll down a hill like a hamster. It was actually zorbing but we still laugh about it today because I didn’t know the name for it! Generally, bucket lists are full of cray things people want to do but mine is mainly countries I want to travel to. My favourite place that I’ve been to was Italy. I absolutely love the culture and food. I also loved Corfu. Once day I would like to live the dream of writing books while by the side of the pool in the Greek sunshine… Ah, we can all dream! 

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

I don’t know that there is anything, I was very briefly in a stunt team before I had my daughter but that isn’t anything new to group members of The Fiction Café.  

It will be news to some of my readers though! Stunt woman, amazing. 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’?

This is a very personal thing as everyone has different preferences of genre. I recently read the Chris Carter series of Robert Hunter which was really good. They were very gruesome so not for the squeamish but I like that kind of theme. I started those after reading the most gruesome and sick book called Lines of Justice: Azdaja by Lee Sherred. This was truly shocking but the best book I’ve read for a while. You should definitely read it if you like dark crime thrillers.

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I’m not sure this might not be too gruesome for me. It’s funny, isn’t it, because you’d never imagine Lee would write that kind of thing when you talk to him in the Cafe! 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?

If I drink alcohol, the trick is not to mix spirits and lager! That is the rule to not getting a hangover! But if you do go a little crazy, a pint of water before bed and a banana always ensures I wake up with a smug smile on my face.

Never tried a banana, I’ll have to give that a go. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

I’m happy at home, so after spending time with my family, curled up watching Netflix with a blanket and a cup of coffee. I like an easy life and don’t feel the need to go out all the time. A nice field to park up the caravan where we can take the dogs for a walk on a nearby beach and stop off at the local pub for a cider (Obviously local Cornish cider is a must and the only time I generally make an exception to break the no alcohol rule).

Thank you so much, Wendy, for chatting with me this evening, it’s been delightful. And thank you for creating some of my favourite Facebook groups, you have definitely enriched my life!

If you are interested in exploring the marvellous groups Wendy has created on Facebook (and you should), please follow her social media links below:

https://fictioncafe.net

The Fiction Cafe Book Club

The Fiction Cafe – Writers Group

The Picturehouse Cafe – Movie Club

The Jukebox Cafe- Music Club

Facebook: Madison Ward

Twitter: @TheFictionCafe

Next week I will have novelist and stalwart of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Elaine Everest, joining me for the evening, so please call back then.

Friday Night Drinks with….Anne from Being Anne @Williams13Anne #FridayNightDrinks #GuestPost #BeingAnne #BookBlogger #BloggerLove

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Thrilled to have as my guest for Friday Night Drinks tonight one of my favourite, most admired and award-winning bloggers, and one of the few I have actually met IRL, the wonderful, Anne Williams from Being Anne.

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

Thanks for inviting me, Julie! I’d usually stick with a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc, but I’ve acquired quite a taste over Christmas for those flavoured gins – could I have a raspberry one please, with a dash of tonic?  

Oh, that sounds delicious! Roll on 1st February, I’m on the soft drinks again. 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’m so boring these days – but, in my defence, I am getting on a bit now. Would you mind staying in instead? I’d be happy with a takeaway – curry or Chinese – and a couple of good rom coms…  

That is perfect for these cold, wintry nights, to be honest. It is forecast snow for these weekend. 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’m a big Radio 2 fan, and I’m so upset that Simon Mayo is leaving – I think he’d be interesting for a night out, and we could find out how he really felt about sharing his drive-time show with Jo Whiley. And how about my favourite actress, Judi Dench? I think she’d be good fun… 

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I love Judi Dench, I’d quite like to be her when I grow up! 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 doing what I’ve been doing for nearly six years now – reading in my every spare moment, sharing reviews (and sometimes interviews, features and guest posts) on my blog, Being Anne. It all started as a way of keeping my reviews in one place, and no-one was more amazed than I was when I found people liked reading it. I stepped things up a bit when I retired three years ago – moved everything from Blogger to WordPress, improved the way it looked, tried to post content at least every weekday. Life got a little more complicated when I became carer for my mum, and the frequency of posts has dropped rather recently – but I hope what I now manage to do is of the standard I’ve always strived to achieve. I so enjoy sharing my thoughts on books I’ve enjoyed – and if I don’t enjoy a book, you won’t find it on the blog.   

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Your blog is definitely very professional and one that every book lover should check out. What has been your proudest moment since you started blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

I’ve been delighted to win the “Best Pal” award three years running at the Annual Bloggers’ Bash. But I think what gives me the most pleasure is when someone tells me they’ve bought a book on my recommendation – and if they then tell me they enjoyed it just as much as I did, that’s just wonderful. I also love it when authors interact – particularly to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed a review, or to tell me that I totally “got” their book. No particular challenges really, other than finding the time to read and review everything I really want to – although I am rather worried about the new WordPress editor, and will put off using it for as long as I possibly can.

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Huge congratulations on that success. 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!

No, I’m really not ambitious – I got that out of my system in my working life, and I never intended that the blogging should be anything more than a pastime for my retirement. 

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

When I retired, I always planned to try my hand at writing. I’m not sure if I have a book in me, but I really would like to give it a try. Now life’s becoming a little easier again, I’ve signed up for an on-line writing course starting in February, and I’ll see how it goes. I’d like to attempt romance, maybe featuring some of those rather older characters I enjoy reading about…

You should join the RNA New Writers’ Scheme if you get into 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?

I love to travel too, and in the last fifteen years or so – after I ditched the partner who only ever wanted to go to the Lake District – I’ve managed to get to a lot of the places that were on my own bucket list. I’ve been so very lucky. I started with the US, West coast and then the East, then followed through with China and Hong Kong. I’ve been to South Africa, ridden elephants in Northern Thailand, watched the sunrise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and totally adored my tour of Cuba. Peru – particularly Macchu Pichu – was so spectacular: and you really haven’t lived until you witness the sunset on Halong Bay in Vietnam. My last big holiday was watching the wildlife in Borneo, with a touch of real luxury in Singapore on the way home. I really don’t have a favourite, but the holiday I took for my 60th birthday was particularly special – starting in Peru, crossing the Andes, visiting Buenos Aires, the jet boat under the Iguazu Falls, the helicopter over Rio de Janeiro. There aren’t that many destinations left on my bucket list, but I would like to spend more time in the Far East – and I’ve yet to visit Australia and New Zealand. 

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Oh wow, you’ve been pretty much everywhere I want to go. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

There’s very little people don’t know about me – I share a lot about my life on my blog (too much, maybe?!).

Never, it is lovely to learn about people who are so open and friendly as you come across. 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? Maybe… or then again… no, give me a moment. No, sorry, I just can’t do it! You’ll find my books of the year on my blog though, always posted just before Christmas…

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’m afraid I’ve never perfected the art of avoiding one – other than not opening the second bottle of wine. And the cure – or at least, the compensation – has to be a good fry-up. 

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

Here I get boring again! If it’s ok with you, I’d rather curl up with my current book – which is always my favourite way to spend a weekend. Unless there’s a good book event going on – shall we take a look?

Anne, thank you so much for joining me on the blog this evening, it has been so much fun to talk to you and we will have that IRL lunch soon.

Anne and I have a lot in common, She lives in Yorkshire, as I do, in the beautiful market town of Wetherby. Having spent her working life as a civil servant, she’s now 62 and retired, and able to spend her time doing all the things she enjoys most. Her first passion has always been reading – and she enjoys spending much of her time doing just that, sharing her love of books on her blog Being Anne. She enjoys travelling to book related events – and is lucky to be invited to some of the best launches and parties. Her second passion is travel – usually long haul, and to places where other people might not have been. 

If you would like to find out more about Anne, catch up with her on social media:

Webssite: https://beinganne.com

Facebook: Being Anne 

Twitter: @Williams13Anne

Next week I am joined for Friday Night Drinks, by Wendy Clarke, founder of my favourite group on the internet, The Fiction Cafe Book Club. Make sure you join us then.

Friday Night Drinks with….Lynda Stacey @LyndaStacey @RNATweets @ChocLituk #FridayNightDrinks

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Tonight on Friday Night Drinks, I am thrilled to be joined by author, fellow member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and my IRL friend, Lynda Stacey.

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

Well, I’m on a serious diet so I’m drinking tonic water (with a splash of gin) lol..!

I’m still on Dry January so I’ll just have to have the tonic. 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, we normally go to the pub that’s next door to your house. But, if you fancied somewhere different I’d probably take you through to The Percy Arms in Airmyn, they do fabulous fish and chips…. As well as the alcohol, of course.

Sounds ideal, let’s go there next time we meet. 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 my gosh. This is hard because I’d love to have my mum there, but then I’d have to speak to her (no disrespect)… but for a good night out I’d probably say Dawn French and Eddie Murphy. Love them both so much.

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That would be fun company to be in for sure. 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 writing Book 5, which is surprisingly Doncaster-based. My choice of my home town might come across as odd until you learn about its history. Back in the 1800’s there was an area in Doncaster that the locals called the sand pit. This was a sand quarry. The owners literally carved a whole house out of the sandstone. But not being satisfied at that they continued to carve out the most amazing catacombs that ran beneath the ground and held the most intricate carvings. All of this area has been lost. The council filled it all in with concrete to make way for high rise flats, which I still find unbelievable. 

I became interested in this site a number of years ago and really want to bring some attention to this amazing archaeological site that’s buried 9 metres below the pavement.  

My novel is set in present day and follows the life of Cassandra Hunt, a young archaeologist that was brought up by her aunt after the murder of her father and subsequent death of her mother. As always, my novels are romantic suspense and in this book I really crank up the tension when after opening the tunnels, Cassie comes face to face with the man who murdered her father.

You can see more about the Sand House here.

Below are just a few pictures of how amazing these tunnels were.!!

Wow, I’ve lived in Doncaster on and off all my life and I had no idea about any of this! I’ll look forward to reading the book. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment was winning the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition which put me on the route to becoming a published author. Something I’d dreamed of for most of my life.

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 like to be a household name. I’d like my books to be talked about and yes… I’d love to see them all as films.

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

I’m working on The Sand House as described above. I’m really hoping that with all the publicity that the Sand House project is getting this year, I’ll get some extra publicity for the book.

Fingers crossed, it sounds like a fantastic project. 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 the favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I’ve pretty much completed my bucket list. I’ve travelled the world as a Scuba Diving Instructor, I’ve dived the deepest accessible wrecks and I’ve free dived with sharks. It doesn’t get much better than that. 

But my favourite place in the world would have to be The Maldives. It’s the most perfect place in the world and all I can say is it’s like being Robinson Crusoe with a bar and a chef.

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The Maldives is definitely on my bucket list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I was a Scuba Diving Instructor. I taught people to dive from their first breaths right to becoming instructors themselves.

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 loved Vanessa Savage’s new book, The Woman in the Dark. Also, I love everything that Jane Lovering, Milly Johnson and Mandy James are writing at the moment. But if I had to insist on one book that you should read it would just have to be my very own The Fake Date. Xx (I had to say that, didn’t I?)

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I admire your chutzpah! I know you’ve recommended Vanessa Savage’s book to me before so I must get it. 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 never normally get hangovers, but having had a few in the past I always found that fresh air helps…. Unless of course you have an oxygen cylinder handy (which I always did when teaching scuba), then pure O2 cures a hangover in minutes.

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

I’d definitely be in my pj’s for the weekend. I’m very much a home girl and love curling up in front of the log burner wrapped in a blanket, especially on nights like tonight.

A woman after my own heart there! Lynda, thank you so much for joining me on the blog this evening, it’s been a blast as always.

Lynda’s latest book, The Fake Date is out now and has received amazing reviews from some of my favourite fellow bloggers. If you would like to get your own copy, you can purchase it here.

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Nine hours and eleven minutes …
That’s how long it’s been since Ella Hope was beaten to within an inch of life and left for dead.
She lies, unable to move and praying for somebody to find her, as she counts down the minutes and wonders who could have hated her so much to have hurt her so badly.
Was it the man she went on a date with the previous evening, the man linked to the deaths of two other women? Or somebody else, somebody who wants her out of the picture so much they’re willing to kill?
Whoever it is, they will pay. All Ella has to do first is survive …

If you would like to find out more about Lynda and her books, you can find her on her website and Facebook and Twitter.

Next week i will be joined for drinks by my fabulous fellow book blogger and great supporter of authors, Anne Williams, so make sure you don’t miss that.

Friday Night Drinks with….Sherron Mayes @authorMayes @FictionCafeWriters #FridayNightDrinks

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So, after an unplanned hiatus last week (for which I blame an over-indulgence in Christmas spirits by someone!), I am back having Friday Night Drinks with lovely author and my fellow Fiction Cafe Writer, Sherron Mayes. Writing as S. D. Mayes, Sherron’s debut novel Letters to the Pianist is out now in paperback and e-book formats.

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Sherron, thank you so much for joining me for drinks this evening. I love that you have sent me a photo of you already drinking to go with the blog post – a girl after my own heart! Sadly, I am doing Dry January so I will be on the lime and soda water, but what are you drinking?

A glass of red Shiraz

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?

To Alto Lounge, a bar in Caversham where I live, where you can get amazing food/tapas, cocktails, wine or tea/coffee

That sounds ideal, I love tapas. 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?

Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe. I mean can you imagine having the pair of them there with us. It would be weird and amazing. Something we’d never forget.

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That would be an interesting combination! I suspect she’d have him wrapped around her little finger quite quickly! 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 writing my WIP, ‘The Lodger’, and that’s ticking along. More of that later. I was also asked to open a new library in a school near me, where I did a talk and book signing on Letters to the Pianist.  I am also networking a lot and have recently joined a writers group in my little Village of Caversham in Berkshire.  Writing can get lonely, so it’s great to meet in a bar and bounce ideas off other writers and sometimes get together to just write and feel that you are all motivating each other. 

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

Proudest moment, seeing my novel, Letters to the Pianist published with its fabulous cover, that’s won a best cover award in LA.  My biggest challenge is the publicity. Sending it off to magazines and papers who expressed interest and hearing from some and not others. It’s a lot of work that can feel like you’re in Groundhog day.

I can imagine. 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!

Okay here goes … in present tense. I have an amazing gungho Literary agent for, ‘The Lodger’ who auctions it in a bidding war, and I end up with a phenomenal publishing house who give me a half million advance, and make sure the book gets lots of publicity.   The book then sells 10 million plus copies. And then I’m commissioned to write the screenplay, which is made into a film, which is a box office success.  I’d also like the rights of my current novel, Letters to the Pianist to be bought for half a million and made into a film by Steven Spielberg, which is also a box office success.  And then I’ll fly you over to the screening by private jet. Let me know your meal requirements. 

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It’s a deal. I will eat (almost) anything. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m writing my WIP, ‘The Lodger’.  It’s about a single mum who takes in a lodger to make ends meet after she loses her job in finance. She’s vulnerable and falls for him, but he isn’t quite what he seems to be.  I felt inspired to write a thriller or as the literary world calls it, a ‘domestic noir’,  It’s the first time I haven’t had to do a ton of research for a novel as I’m using a lot of my own experience, but just ramping the temperature up a fair few degrees.  I’m 33,000 words in so eek a third of the way there.

How exciting, quite a change from Letters to the Pianist. I love domestic noir and I know I’m not alone in that so hopefully it will be a big success for you. 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?

One of my favourite places I’ve visited is Alaska where my aunt lives. It’s so breathtakingly beautiful – so much space, mountains and sky.  I was there in the month of July, over a decade ago,  so it was sunny, but you have the amazing glaciers which look like something from an ice age movie.

I definitely want to travel more and would love to go to Hawaii, Peru and Tibet

Oh, I would love to go to Alaska! All of your bucket list destinations are on mine too. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

My family followed an Indian Guru, and when I was seven I moved to Plymouth to live in a boarding school on a farm which was supposed to be a ‘divine school’. We meditated, ate organic vegetarian food and fed animals. However, the idealism of the place didn’t match the reality.  It was all a bit chaotic and my mum ended up taking me out of there, when we were sent to the local village school.  It was an interesting interlude. 

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Wow, that sounds like the plot of a book right there! How interesting. 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’?

Hmmm it’s so difficult to say just one. Probably, I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. It’s so descriptive and clever, but you’ve probably already read it. 

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I have read it, it is a wonderful book. 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 God, what boozers we are haha. I’d make sure we ordered lots of carby food like chips, or pasta and then have a large slice of chocolate cake or some kind of fruit pie.  I would also ask for a jug of water on the table to dilute the alcohol content, which I would sip in between the wines/Gins/Rums. If I do end up with a hangover, I tend to just eat more carbs or a fry up. Mind you, I’d eat myself out of any situation. I’m a foodie, so it’s the answer to everything. 

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Chocolate cake is always the answer! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

After a boozy night out, I tend to want a pyjama day to recover, watch movies at home, play scrabble and order a take away curry or pizza – or both!

That sounds great, I am in! Sherron, thank you so much for joining me tonight. Sorry for being a boring teetotaller tonight but I had great fun anyway, I hope you did too.

Make sure you check out Sherron’s wonderful debut, Letter to the Pianist. You can buy a copy here.

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A FAMILY TORN APART … A PAST THEY CAN’T ESCAPE

In war torn London, 1941, fourteen-year-old Ruth Goldberg and her two younger siblings, Gabi and Hannah, survive the terrifying bombing of their family home. They believe their parents are dead, their bodies buried underneath the burnt remains – but unbeknownst to them, their father, Joe, survives and is taken to hospital with amnesia.

Four years on, Ruth stumbles across a newspaper photo of a celebrated pianist and is struck by the resemblance to her father. Desperate for evidence she sends him a letter, and as the pianist’s dormant memories emerge, his past unravels, revealing his true identity – as her beloved father, Joe. Ruth sets out to meet him, only to find herself plunged into an aristocratic world of sinister dark secrets.

Can she help him escape and find a way to stay alive?
LETTERS TO THE PIANIST is a compelling page turner packed with drama, intrigue and suspense. If you loved The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas or The Pianist, then you will love this exciting novel. 

If you would like to learn more about Sherron and what she is up to, why not check her out on social media?

Facebook: Author Mayes

Twitter: @authorMayes

Goodreads: S.D. Mayes

Next week on Friday Night Drinks I will be joined by my good friend, fellow Yorkshire lass and RNA member, author Lynda Stacey, so don’t miss that.

Friday Night Drinks with….Rachel Dove @WriterDove @HQDigitalUK @BooksManatee @RNATweets #GuestPost #FridayNightDrinks #RNA

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So, you may have noticed that the blog has been a little quiet this week as things are winding down for Christmas. I feel a bit like I’ve gone in to hibernation mode. However, I am happy to be sticking my nose out of the nest for the evening to join my next guest for a festive Friday Night Drinks. So, welcome to the blog, Rachel Dove. Rachel is an author  and teacher, winner of Prima/Mills & Book Flirty Fiction Competition 2015, Writer’s Bureau Writer of the Year 2016 and fellow RNA Member and, mostly importantly, fellow Yorkshire lass. What better introduction could there be!

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A huge welcome and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. I appreciate you popping out this close to Christmas, you must have had many more better offers! First things first, what are you drinking?

A cheeky (large) glass of rose wine – cheers!

Cheers! 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 am soooo boring! I would say a nice meal out, followed by the cinema. Which sounds like a date. Sorry! I love to eat out in new places, and am a huge fan of films. My days of bar hopping are over, I used to be a trainee nightclub manager, so it lost its sparkle early on.  

I think my clubbing days are well behind me, so that will suit me fine, as long as it’s not a horror film, I am a huge scaredy cat! 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 love to meet Shonda Rhimes, and pick her screenwriting brains, as I am a big fan, and Margaret Atwood too. I find her writing so interesting to unpick, so that would be a great night!

An evening of writing chat – sounds wonderful. 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 crazy busy at the moment finishing off my two latest books for Manatee and HQ Digital, and working with my agent on some future ideas. I am also still teaching and just started my second year of a Creative Writing MA so with that, our house renovations and family, I am looking forward to having two weeks off at Christmas and reading lots and having a lovely relaxing Christmas. (Or, that’s the plan!) I am excited about my future book ideas, so watch this space!

Can’t wait to hear more, but that sounds like some workload, I’m impressed. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

The challenge is to keep writing when life gets busy. I have had so many proud moments, but winning the Prima competition is what kicked all the other proud moments off, so that has to be it for me. 

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 would love to see my work in foreign editions, I think that’s my goal, that and audio! We shall see 🙂 

That must be amazing, to see your work being published around the world, a great ambition. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

Ooo lots, but my lips are sealed as yet!

Spoilsport! 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?

Top of my bucket list is Tobago and Goa – both places I would love to visit. I really love UK holidays, and Spain is a wonderful place too. For me, the family holidays we have are all great. 

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I’d love to go to Tobago. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I used to kickbox back in the day, and have passed exams and gained belts!

Remind me not to get on your bad side! 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’?

This is so hard. I love books so much! One I have loved recently is by CJ Skuse, called Sweetpea. It’s dark, funny, gory and utterly unputdownable.

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The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…

I’ve read such great reviews of this book, I’ve already added it to be 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?

I would say you are asking the wrong person! I do drink water before bed, and there is nothing like a bacon buttie to soak up the alcohol. I hate hangovers now, in your 20s they are quite fun. 30s? Not so much. 

I agree. I’ve got to the stage where the fun of the drinking is no longer worth the pain of the hangover! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

We love going on holiday to a cabin in Cumbria with our sons and our dog, so I would say that. It’s isolated, quiet and beautiful with lots of long walks nearby, and a hot tub with champagne for when the kids are in bed. Lovely, I love going there and always write lots when the kids are busy.  

That sounds fantastic. Rachel. thank you so much for chatting to me this evening, it has been great fun. I’m really looking forward to your upcoming books in 2019, and hopefully we’ll meet and do some of this drinking in person at an RNA event next year.

Three books by Rachel in the Westfield series are currently available to purchase, they are The Chic Boutique on Baker StreetThe Flower Shop on Foxley Street and The Wedding Shop on Wexley StreetThe next book in the series will be published next spring.

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Rachel is also the author of Nice Guys Finish Lonely and The Long Walk Back

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To find out more about Rachel and her books, you can check her out on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

To fill that interminable lull between Christmas and New Year, join me next Friday when I’ll be having drinks with the lovely John Jackson. In the meantime, may I wish you all a

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Friday Night Drinks with….Jo from Tea & Cake For The Soul @teaandcakesoul #FridayNightDrinks #GuestPost #Tea&CakeForTheSoul #BookBlogger #BloggerLove

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A slight change to the scheduled post tonight. due to unforeseen circumstances, but I am delighted to welcome to Friday Night Drinks – a few weeks earlier than planned – Jo who runs one of my favourite blogs, Tea & Cake For The Soul. Jo’s blog is a lovely mix of book reviews, travel, music, lifestyle, recipes, health and lots more, so there is always something interesting to read.

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Jo, thank you so much for stepping in at the last minute and joining me for drinks this evening, I hate to drink alone! First things first, what are you drinking?

Vodka and coke, although to be honest I’d rather have a mug of tea!

Sometimes I’d just rather have tea too. My friends and I have been known to order cups of tea in my local! 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 would be going to a gig, just a small club gig nothing big. Music of choice would be rockabilly, psychobilly, ska or ska/punk.

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?

If we’re out drinking then I’d choose Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, they just always seem to have a laugh don’t they?

That’s very true. I’ve lost count of how many times they’ve corpsed on This Morning. I thought Holly did a great job standing in for Ant on I’m A Celebrity, 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?

At the time of writing, I’m busy giving my blog a huge overhaul. Although I’ve been blogging for 3 years, I’ve only been doing it seriously in the last 8 months or so and there’s more to it than just typing something and hitting publish isn’t there?

I’ve learnt so much recently that I thought before I go any further I’d go back through my old posts and try to bring them all up to scratch. It’s quite a mammoth task now that I realise I’ve already written 180 posts! So maybe not all of them, but I’d like to get some of my core content up to date and SEO optimized.

Why did I start it? I’m asking myself the same question hahaha! I currently run my blog as a hobby so I don’t NEED to do it for business but unfortunately, once I get an idea in my head I have to see it through.

While I’m doing all the above, I’m also continuing to keep the gig guide and all the band pages that I run, up to date at the same time. And doing my usual paid work, running a house and looking after my family. I think I need a holiday very soon!

I’ve always written and run websites for as long as I can remember. I have recently been offered a regular freelance writing job and I’d certainly like to do more of that if the right opportunities come along.

Ultimately though I just want my writing to be useful and enjoyable, and want to get the word out to as many people as possible.

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That is a great ambition, Jo. What has been your proudest moment since you started blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

Blogtober and Blogtober. 31 posts in 31 days. I tried to write interesting and varied content that still fit in with the themes of my blog so travel, music, recipes, book recommendations, health, eco issues, etc. I found that the whole process taught me that I had skills I’d forgotten I had, it certainly took some planning.

I managed to get most of it written and scheduled throughout September so I was feeling pretty confident about it and thought I’d get a bit of a rest in October! Promoting the posts turned out to be as time consuming as writing them.

And one big part of Blogtober is to interact and support other bloggers. I joined a great Facebook group so lots of time was spent reading and commenting on their posts too. It was a full-time job for September and October. But one I’m glad I did. I picked up new followers and I’ve found some great new blogs to read too.

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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!

Well, I’m driven more by the simple pleasures in life of just being happy rather than having ambitions, but for the sake of our night out, and presuming that the vodka has made me a bit silly, I will choose to interview Robbie Williams. Did you see my post earlier in the year The Day I Met Robbie Williams? Well yes, I’m still kinda hankering over meeting him and getting to ask him some down to earth questions.

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

I’ve got lots of great new musical articles coming. I’ve been running music-based websites and writing for books and magazines since 2002. It really is a huge passion of mine so I’m pleased to be bringing more of that to my blog.

Even if you don’t like the style of music, I hope that every music lover out there will be able to identify with the stories. They are all approached from a personal angle. I will be featuring fans, promoters, and DJs, as well as musicians, and everyone has an interesting story to tell, they just need someone to prise it out of them.

That sounds really exciting, I will look forward to reading those posts. 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 favourite place is Seal Beach in California. We try to go over to the US once or twice a year. We always go somewhere new on each trip but have a couple of days in Seal Beach too if we can. We’d like to spend much longer there when we retire.

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Bucket list at the moment is Monument Valley in Sedona/Utah which I am going to tick off in 2019 but then after that, I think it will be New York and Canada. I’m not a city girl but I think it has to be done once doesn’t it?

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I love the USA too. I’m not a city girl either but I love New York, I’ve been four times and I would still go back. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I once cut the hair of an 80’s popstar. He’d been on Top Of The Pops and in National Press too. 😉 

Oh, you are mean keeping his name to yourself! 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 have been two stand out books for me this year so it’s a hard decision but I think for a universal appeal it has to be Big Sexy Love by Kirsty Greenwood. If you just look at the book blurb, I’m not sure everyone’s going to want to read it, but it’s probably the best book I’ve ever read, a real rollercoaster read full of laughs and warmth.

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Jo’s review of Big Sexy Love by Kirsty Greenwood

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?

Well if you’d stuck with me and drunk tea you’d be fine! 😉 But if you’re feeling rough, there’s no other way than to spend the morning in bed feeling sorry for yourself being served copious amounts of chilled water, hot tea and biscuits.

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

My perfect day would be at the beach, a really quiet flat sandy beach so I could walk along the water’s edge chatting then just sit and look out to sea and let my mind go blank for a while. I love being by the ocean, it instantly calms me.

I love the beach too, it has a certain way of putting things in to perspective. Jo, thank you so much for joining me on the blog this evening, it has been a huge pleasure and I look forward to seeing the developments on your blog as it grows.

If you would like to get to know Jo better, please make sure you visit her blog, Tea & Cake For The Soul or catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Please join me back here next week when I will be having Friday Night Drinks with author, Rachel Dove.