Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Change my dears and not a moment too soon – representation and choice.


Or why I write what I write


Sunday, it was announced that the next Doctor would be female – I hesitate to use that word, but it’s what we have. We’ve known Timelords can be female for many years, but that they can regenerate into either gender is a more recent development. This is not a first for SciFi or Fantasy. Those of us who watch Supernatural know that angels and demons can use vessels of either sex. This change has led a lot of people to wring their hands and talk about how Doctor Who has caved in to those who want the programme to be ‘politically correct’. I, for one, am fed up of this. I want to talk about two aspects of what has happened.

1.      Representation

2.      Writing

Little girls need heroes – hell, women need heroes. Even better, they need heroes who look like themselves. On film, a girl can be a Jedi, a vampire slayer, a Wayward Daughter, a starship captain and now, finally, the Doctor. You see representation is important. We all need to see ourselves in others. We all need role models who show us that the seemingly impossible is possible. Our culture and media should reflect those needs hence a Doctor who can be in female form as well as male – though, I am still pissed the Doctor isn’t ginger. Some people, however, feel that this is a step too far and creating change for change sake. As a historian, I’ve heard this message before.

·         Why give the working class the vote? They won’t understand.

·         Why give women the vote? They have husbands and fathers to take care of them

·         Women can’t be lawyers or doctors. They aren’t intelligent enough.

·         Men should go out to work and not stay at home to care for their children. It’ll make them feminine and they won’t be able to cope.

·         Women aren’t strong enough to be superheroes. They have weak bodies and no one wants to see them as the lead in films and who will buy the models?

·         Men shouldn’t cry. Men should be macho and should no signs of weakness.
With this decision, another section of the monolith of what you can or cannot be, or do, has been chipped away. This brings me to the other issue – why writers chose their characters and story lines.
I write gay romance. I’ve been asked why so many times and told I’d sell more if I wrote M/F stories. The simple answer is, because I can, and because I want to. But shouldn’t I be writing about women people ask if I’m such a feminist? Again, the answer is, I do. Yes, my MCs are men, but my stories contain lots of strong women. I wouldn’t write them any other way. Women play vital roles in my books, and maybe, one day, I’ll get the F/F story I have a plot bunny for written. I’ve written about a variety of men because I can. My MCs have been a rugby player, a teacher, a chef, an inventor, a postman, a hotel owner, a minister, a policeman, a rancher, a designer, and a potter, among others. I’ve written characters with anxiety, with a damaged leg, with HIV, needing a wheelchair, with a bad childhood, who are gay and bisexual, parents and not. I’ve written them because I wanted to, because I wanted to explore a variety of issues and not write the same thing over and over again. I’ve written drama, angst, fluff and humour. I’ve given some characters a hard time, and others not. I’ve hopefully given them all some sort of happily ever after because I write romance.

So, when people question choices, and talk about being politically correct, writers will do what they want. They might kill a favourite to stir things up – looking at you here Russell T Davies and my beloved Ianto -  and create drama.
In romance, we have to find a happy ever after, but this isn’t true of all drama. The writers have their plans, their story lines. We may not agree with their choices, but they are the ones at the keyboard, and I, for one, always look forward to what they produce.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Weekly Round Up 17th July


Monday again. This week the sun is shining in my part of the world. I wasn’t sure if I’d write anything this week, as I’m in less than a positive mood. A combination of depressing news from home and reading crap because they dared to give a woman the role of the Doctor, has left me frustrated and annoyed. For the record, I have some reservations about a female Doctor but it’s the stories that matter to me so get those right and I won’t care.

Writing has been slow, only about 3000 words on current WIP. My concentration levels are shot, and my brain keeps coming up with starts for other stories, which isn’t helping. I’m waiting to hear about short story I submitted in the meantime. This morning, print copies of My Highland Cowboy arrived so if I owe you a copy, I will get them out to you in the next week. I would take a photo, but sadly my camera has decided to play silly devils and not accept the memory card. I might go back to editing Half Full for weak words so I’m doing something productive.


Reading has been slow as well, but I have finished The Ruin of a Rake by Cas Sebastian, which got better after a third of the way through but I enjoyed less than the other two. Read and loved Satin by K. C. Wells and looking forward to Silk. Now reading Lying Eyes by Robert Winter which is also a bit of a slow starter for me, but I want to know more.


Finished S8 of Supernatural and now watching S9. In between have watched Orphan Black S1 and remain amazed by Tatiana Maslany. Other than this watching various series such as The Handmaid’s Tale, The Loch, Fearless and Poldark. Will also be trying to stay away from spoilers for Game of Thrones.

That’s it for now. I could rant about the unfairness of so many things, but it won’t make anything better, and I’m not looking for sympathy. Life is just a bit of a bugger at the moment but..
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Monday, 10 July 2017

Weekly Round Up 10th July


Hello on a Monday morning from a rainy Lancashire. Noisy banging from next door has accompanied the last week as my neighbour has removed his roof and the whole of the back wall and is now rebuilding. He did warn me. Apologies for loss of blog last week. I could say I was recovering after a birthday weekend of drink and debauchery, but I’d be lying. I did have some lovely presents including a Funko Tenth Doctor to add to the collection, and the Harry Potter version of Trivial Pursuit. I think a complete rewatch may be necessary before tackling them.


Writing has been pretty slow, but I did get the short story finished in time to meet the deadline thanks to my alpha reader giving it a quick once over. Provisionally, it’s called The Matchmaker. I can only wait now to see if they want it for the contemporary anthology. I’ve attempted to get back into my age gap story. Adam and Jason are beginning to talk to me in the middle of the night, so there’s hope. I didn’t intend it to be a long story, and so far it’s around 5000 words at only two chapters in. I am getting to know them though. When the muse is avoiding me, I’ve started to remove ‘weak’ words from Half Full the 100K+ story of Owen and Jonah. I always start an edit with this then do the first read through checking continuity, repetition and punctuation before I hand it over to a beta to read. It does take me time, however, because I have to leave the MS alone for a while. This week, I’m going to continue the current WIP, I hope.

On the reading front, I haven’t done much except download several books so my TBR list is growing. I decided to have a change and read Poppy Jenkins by Claire Ashton, which I liked but did get a bit fed up about some aspects of the story. I did enjoy it being set in Wales. My current read is The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian. I very much enjoyed her first two books. I’ve also listened to three of the CDS in The Lives of Captain Jack audio series from Big Finish. I love that I can still hear Torchwood stories and these are attempts to fill in what I would call fanfiction gaps. In this case the four stories cover what happened after Jack came alive again after being revived by Rose, visiting Rose’s estate when she was young and meeting Jackie, her mum, what happened when he was introduced to Alonso – so lovely hearing Russell Tovey, and finally what happened with the two-year memory loss which made him leave the Time Agency.


Box set watching for this week, in between the tennis, has consisted of Supernatural S8 – I do love the Purgatory stuff and Benny, and the first series of Orphan Black which we watched in 3 days. How Tatiana Maslany didn’t win all the prizes, I’ll never understand. Now onto S9 of Supernatural again in between tennis depending on how far Murray and Konta get.


That’s it for now. My Highland Cowboy continues to get some lovely reviews which is wonderful. If I owe you a prize, I’m hoping to get the print copies this week as they are on order. Thanks for all the entries in various giveaways. Have a good week everyone. As usual, this can also be found on my blog.


Thursday, 6 July 2017

Throwback Thursday - Sporting Chance




Sporting Chance was my first published novel. I began writing it while still in my full-time job of teaching, fitting it in before school, at lunch time, and at night after marking. It took nearly three years to finish, and the first draft was mostly written by hand.

Most people know I started my writing life writing fanfiction, mostly in the Torchwood/Doctor Who fandoms and later in Supernatural. Coincidentally, today is the eighth anniversary of the first showing of Day One of Children of Earth and I’m currently listening to one of the Big Finish Torchwood CDs from the set -  The Lives of Captain Jack—still a fan.

Dan and Aron, two of the characters in Sporting Chance, began life as original characters in one of those stories. In Torchwood High, they were teenage boys who had just realised they loved each other, then I callously split them apart in my first novel. I did feel guilty about that, but then I did give Dan someone else. Dan was always a rugby player and had to be, like me, Welsh. I wanted him to be openly gay rather than this being a story about coming out. Around the time I started writing, Gareth Thomas came out. If you ever get a chance, read his book. Alfie, as he was always known, was a superb player and has become a trailblazer for others. Dan isn’t based on him though. Physically, he’s based on another lock forward – I’ve always had a thing for locks – it’s the height. I decided instead to concentrate the story on what it is like to be famous, gay and looking for love.


Iestyn, the other MC, is a history teacher – yes so was I – who literally falls at Dan’s feet. The romance begins with a dinner date and continues in secret. Iestyn has a great family and friends who can’t quite believe he’s caught the eye of the best player in Wales. Eventually, their relationship is outed and here the problems begin for both men. At the time I wrote the story, there was a lot in the news about phone tapping of celebrities, so I speculated about press intrusion and how people make things up. Then, as the nasty author, I split them up in order to bring them back again. That reunion isn’t easy though, and help comes from surprising places, namely Dan’s ex-boyfriend, Aron. This is, of course a romance, so it had to have a happily ever after.

I submitted the manuscript to a couple of places and no one was more amazed than me that a publisher took a chance on the very raw story. I went on a steep journey learning about all sorts of things, like independent body parts and passive voice thanks to my editor, who was immensely patient with me. Finally, in November, 2014, Sporting Chance was published. It received some lovely reviews and some not so lovely, but such is the life of a writer. It was hard and it still is, dealing with the highs and lows, but a few years later, I’ve had more published and I’m still writing but Sporting Chance was where it began and it still sells double figures most months.

You can buy Sporting Chance in these places. And if you want to know what happens to Aron I tell his story in Comfort Zone.

 Links




Monday, 26 June 2017

Weekly Round Up 26th June


Monday morning again, and thankfully cooler after the heat of last week. If only cat the elder would stop yowling in the early hours of the morning I might get more sleep. Now, she is lying next to me asleep as I type. I have just finished writing a short story to submit to Pride Publishing for their contemporary anthology. The idea for this one came from a first line that popped into my head from nowhere.

As you can read above, I did manage to get some writing done last week. Next I have to do a fast edit as it needs to be ready to submit, as well as the usual blurb and synopsis – aarrgghh. Should get it done and then it’s back to my Christmas story. The way that one is going, it might be ready for next year. Of course, really, I’m putting off editing the mammoth 103K words of Half Full.

I’m sure you’re all desperate to know what I’ve been reading and watching over the last seven days. I finished An Unnatural Vice by KJ Charles and loved it. Can’t wait for the next one. Nearly finished Femme by Marshall Thornton. I have enjoyed this one as well, although the more than once one MC leaves the other MC in the lurch was annoying. Is it controversial that I like stories that aren’t about two so called alpha males battling each other? I like writing them too, even if I can be accused of writing stereotypes. Marshall Thornton addresses this in the story and as he says, within a stereotype every person is different in some way. Next on the reading list is The Monet Murders by Josh Lanyon, who was one of my gateway authors into mm romance.

I’ve spent a lot of the weekend watching Glastonbury. Being an older person, for me the highlights were, The Jacksons, Chic and Barry Gibb, although I do like Rag and Bone Man. I’d love to see him sing with Gregory Porter and Rick Astley, with maybe George Ezra as well.

This week’s boxset has been Flambards, a series from the late 70s. It’s set amongst the upper and lower classes in Edwardian times. I can stand the story but the theme music makes me want to stick cotton wool in my ears. I don’t think it stands the test of time like some others from that era. I watched How Green was my Valley a while back and still loved it as much as it did as a teenager. Maybe it will improve by the end as we’ve a few episodes to go. After this, it will be back to Supernatural and season 8.

That’s it for this week. I will be giving away a signed print copy of Comfort Zone as I have one come available – more in another post about that. I’ll also be giving away PDF of While You See a Chance this week as well because I feel like it.

Have a good week everyone.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Weekly Round Up 19th June


Monday morning, and once more we are greeted with bad news. It has been a tough week in which I’ve used the word really so many times when questioning what people have done, and said, or not done. I’m lucky enough not to have been affected by recent events in London, except for witnessing the results on the news, but seeing the pictures, and reading reports, has made me both sad and angry. I’ve also been incredibly thankful for the men and women who put other people before themselves – the police, firefighters, paramedics, medical staff, as well as the volunteers who turn out to help every time. Then this morning we have a man who uses a van to try to kill people coming out of a mosque after prayers. I’ve already heard the words mentally ill being used, and no doubt he’ll be a loner, but terrorists hope to inspire terror, so this makes this man a terrorist as far as I’m concerned.

In other news, it is too hot. I am not a lover of heat as high pressure and humidity affect my arthritis. I also have trouble sleeping, though having a cat with the loudest yowl in the world doesn’t help. Cat the elder suffers from pee and poo phoria – a well-known phenomena that cats who have been to the toilet run around like mad things and meow. As she is deaf, she is also very loud. If she’s bored and wants to play, she wanders around crying for cat the younger. As a result, I am tired and a bit tetchy.

Writing – better news here. I started my Christmas story and got 2000 words done then got a plot bunny for a short story as my publisher is looking for entries. I’ve written around 8000 of that so far – the most I’ve written in ages. I’ve scribbled in bed being unable to sleep, and so only have one scene to write from scratch now. This will involve a visit to Barry Island, which has been looking lovely this weekend. It should come in between 10-15K as asked for. That will be this week’s task. I have been buoyed up by the many positive reviews for My Highland Cowboy. If anyone would like to review While You See a Chance, please let me know.

On the reading and watching front, I finally finished Draakenwood by Jordan L Hawk and loved it as always, especially Ival’s reaction to how his sister enjoyed his desk! Now reading An Unnatural Vice by KJ Charles, and yes, Justin Lazarus is great fun. Next on the TBR list is Femme by Thornton Marshall, a new writer to me. We finished Supernatural Season 7, and next I’m told is Flambards, because we need something fluffy, and I haven’t seen it.

That’s it for now. Let’s hope there aren’t any more horrific events this week anywhere in the world. I’ll leave you with a link to a blog. It’s a tough read but shows what firefighters do. These are the people who run towards.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Weekly Round Up 12th June


Monday again. It’s blustery here in Lancashire and has been for the last few days, but at least it isn’t raining now. We even had the fire on for a while on one day. Cat the younger, the only one allowed out – cat the elder is deaf and gets lost – doesn’t like the wind ruffling her fur so hasn’t enjoyed the weather recently.

Of course, last week was dominated by politics over here with yet another vote. We stayed up until around five in the morning not quite believing all that happened. Now, I’ll admit I’ve never been much of a Corbyn fan but he’s done well and probably got more of the Labour party to pull together. I mean, who could imagine Labour taking Kensington in London where the average house price is £1.4 million? So now we have a hung parliament with the DUP calling the shots with their bigoted agenda. With many LGBT MPs in the Conservative ranks, and Ken Clarke, not to mention more women MPS than ever before, it’s going to be interesting to see how things go. In fact, two good things came out of the vote - the increase in female, BAME, LGBT and disabled MPS and that so many young people voted. This might help you work out what happened, or not!

On the writing front, I finally wrote THE END on my WIP, Half Full, at 103K words. This is the longest story I’ve written. I think it might split into two stories, and it needs a third to finish it off properly and settle all that’s happened. I’ve made a start on the Christmas story, but need to get more of a feel for my MCs, Jason and Adam. I’m writing a May/Nov story – a bit more than Sep and less that Dec, which could be any length but aiming at about 20K. As I don’t plan, who knows?


Last week saw the general release of My Highland Cowboy. This story has received some lovely reviews. It is quite fluffy for me. After writing lots of angst, I wanted to write a story with less. The problems in this one are practical. It interested me to see comments about the age difference between the MCs. There is one, but I didn’t consider it much like in Sporting Chance. It’s what inspired me to write a real age gap story, I suppose. It has been a busy time promoting books. I’d also like to remind people about While You See a Chance. I’d love if people gave this story a chance. It’s had a few lovely reviews. I know it isn’t a typical m/m romance story as the MCs are old and it has a pretty important back story, but as I’ve said before, it was important to me. Again, I’d like to thank Rachel Maybury and all the bloggers and reviewers as well as anyone who retweeted or shared posts. Now, I need to get on with the next one and let Half Full settle before I edit.


We watched State of Play which held up as a story and now we’re back to Supernatural, season seven which isn’t a favourite – lots of dick jokes and less Castiel, although what there is of him is great. Started watching Orange is the New Black as well as The Handmaid’s Tale and Poldark is back. Really upset that Sense8 has been cancelled. Why seems a bit of a mystery. It is such an awesome show, but maybe it’s simply too expensive.



I haven’t managed much reading as I’m only getting time before I go to sleep. I’m enjoying Draakenwood by Jordan L Hawk, and have added around five more books to my kindle. The TBR list is growing again.

That’s it for this week. Have a good week everyone and at least us Brits have the joy of knowing President Trump isn’t going to visit anytime soon.