Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Cover Reveal - The Matchmaker

I'm happy to reveal the cover for my short story The Matchmaker below. This story is one of six in Right Here, Right Now an anthology of contemporary gay romance with great authors. You can get it on early download from Pride Publishing or pre order on Amazon. The anthology will be released on 3rd October.

The cover for The Matchmaker was created by the wonderful Emmy Ellis and the image at the bottom is of Barry Island which appears in the story. Barry is my home town and has recently undergone a transformation which has seen improvements to the beach. You can follow new updates @BarryIsland on twitter. So here is the lovely cover. The story will be available by itself during the last week of November.

If you want to find out more about the story, I've written a blog post for Pride here. It also has some stuff about me and what I'm doing right now.

Hopefully, normal service will return on my own blogging, real life permitting.

I'll be giving away a copy of The Matchmaker nearer the time of general release.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Round Up Blog Post, 4th September

Hello from Lancashire. There has definitely been an Autumnal nip in the air. So, while we wait to see if the end of the world is coming, here’s my update.
Today is an odd day for me. Even though it’s been four years since I had a back to school day, it still seems wrong not to have bought stationery supplies and been mildly excited, that is until the excitement of new classes wore off. My nephew starts infants school this week. I have to say, I’m very glad not to have to worry about education with all the changes to exams as the government tinkers yet again. It is also my brother’s wedding anniversary today. It’s not been an easy year for him and his family so it’s nice to have something to celebrate.
Over the last fortnight, I’ve done the first edits of what are currently called Half Full and Half Time which are 58K and 47K words respectively, though, as I’ve realised I’ve missed a scene, the second one will get longer. I intend to write book three before even thinking of submitting anywhere, especially as my usual publisher is currently up in the air. In other news, I have written some words on my car story – only 4000 but more than I have for a while. It has now reached 21K words and there has been a kiss. I’m sure Riley and Dylan will get themselves sorted at some point.

I’ve managed to read a few books over the last couple of weeks. I enjoyed Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell, although both MCs irritated me at times. Mid Life Crisis by Audra North, a new author to me, was a nice easy read with older MCs, and I enjoyed If I was a Girl by Meredith Russo. This was her first novel about a trans girl. As the author explained, she decided to make the MCs transition much easier than it would have been in real life. I enjoyed the story, although I felt sorry for the character who turned out to be the ‘baddie’, especially when, after her big moment, she disappeared. Now, I’m reading Experiment by Dan Skinner, which is a long read. I’m about 30% through and finding it fascinating, especially with everything going on in the world at the moment.

Next, recent boxset watching has included catching up with the first series of Victoria, which I’ve found to be rather dull, and watching the first series of Dirk Gently. My watching partner found Dirk annoying. It is very quirky, but I’m looking forward to the next series. Next up to watch is Supernatural S12 which arrived today.
Finally, My Highland Cowboy continues to get lovely reviews and tomorrow Right Here, Right Now, is available on early download form Pride Publishing. My story in this anthology is called The Matchmaker in which Tom attempts to bring together his father, Simon, and his carer, Josh. This story will be released on its own in November and I have a lovely cover for it from the wonderful Emmy Ellis who I’d like to thank for all the other covers. I will say this new one has a photograph of the main beach at Barry Island, my home town, on it. I will never forget receiving my first cover for Sporting Chance over three years ago. It was a tremendous moment in my life along with holding my first novel in my hands.

That’s enough for this week. Have a good week everyone and happy sales.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Round Up 21st August

Morning everyone from a cool Lancashire. The weather here has been unsettled to say the least. I’m sorry I haven’t had an update for a while. The truth is I haven’t felt like writing much. Lack of writing and pain have left me feeling a bit fed up, not to mention all the nastiness happening in the world. Still, matters are moving forward in some areas of life.

As I said above, writing has been slow. I’ve added about 8000 words to my May/Dec WIP which now stands at nearly 20K. I have ideas, but find my concentration won’t last more than 1500 words at a time. Instead, I’ve been editing. I have a 100K story which I’m splitting into two. The first half is with my betas, but I’m always looking for anyone else who fancies a read. I’m editing the second half now, and jotting down ideas for the final part. This will be a trilogy with the same two MCs set in Norfolk. Jonah is a larger than life character who produces beautiful bespoke furniture, loves amateur dramatics, and has found a new family after his own threw him out as a teenager. Owen, too didn’t have the best of starts in life, but having been adopted as a toddler, grew up happy and loved. Now a librarian who fosters kittens, like Jonah, he’s not exactly looking for love, but isn’t averse to a little exploration with the man who literally turns up on his doorstep. I plan to continue the editing with more writing when I can.
In other writing news, the anthology containing my short story – The Matchmaker – is up for preorder with Pride Publishing tomorrow. Right Here, Right Now is a collection of six contemporary stories. You can find out more from the link here.

I haven’t managed much reading, but the TBR list has grown. Last book finished was The Bones of Our Fathers by Elin Gregory, who is fast becoming an auto buy for me, as I love her style. Continuing my archaeologist phase, I’m now reading Spectred Isle by KJ Charles. As usual, I am in awe of any author who can create worlds and different realities. After this, I’m not sure whether to read Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell, or something completely different. I downloaded If I was a Girl by Meredith Russo because I have a side character in my long story who is twelve-year-old and announced he wants to be a girl. I’ve read a few stories by FTM authors, but not MTF.
On the watching front, we’ve finished all the available Supernatural until S12 comes out on DVD next month. We’ve also watched all five series of Orphan Black which ended well for me, and is highly recommended. We also rewatched all the Harry Potter films before playing my birthday present – Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit. My next watching choice will be the Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. I loved the books. I’m such a fan of Douglas Adams.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope life is treating you well. Enjoy the eclipse if you are in America, and with any luck the future will be brighter for everyone soon.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Weekly Round Up 31st July

Morning everyone from an unsettled Lancashire – me and the weather. How did we get to the last day in July? Sorry about last week – had a day of feeling tired and irritable and words wouldn’t come. Cat the elder has a yowl that could pierce steel, and she uses it from five in the morning, so lack of sleep has been a problem. She is old and deaf, but since we’ve put her in the kitchen overnight, she’s been okay, and I’m not so worried about the neighbours. Real life has also been rearing its ugly head. Hoping for some more positive news soon.
Writing has been slow. I’ve managed a few thousand on current WIP, but it’s hard going. I think even the voices have been too tired to talk to me. Trouble is, I know where the story is going, I even have a last scene written, but the in between, and getting the pair to that point, is eluding me. Instead, I’ve been editing Half Full, but it is 100K words, so doing my first sweep for certain words is taking time and, as I read, I realise the kitten timeline is totally rubbish. So, plans are to do as much as I can because some words are better than none. I will probably get my short story, The Matchmaker, to edit soon. This comes out as part of an anthology of contemporary stories with Pride Publishing in September/October.

On the reading front, I’ve managed a few including Robert Winter’s Lying Eyes, which I enjoyed except for, the Stoke accent. I find some accents difficult in books, especially if the person has simply looked up the accent and never heard it spoken. I’ve been told off for using typically English, Scottish or Welsh phrases in my books as well as for not including them. Accents work better in some books than others. Avery Cockburn’s Glasgow Lads is one example of getting it right, although I found the Doric in the first book, challenging. I’ve stayed in the North East of Scotland many times, and not understood more than the words Janet, Hoos, Elvis and explosive charge in a conversation. Dialect words are one thing to set a book in a place, even phrases, but sometimes I find they throw me out of the story.

Other reading has included, Atonement by Sloane Kennedy, my first by this author. Took me a while to get into it, but once there, Magnus hit me right in the feels as they say. One of my favourite authors, Gail Carriger, who wrote the wonderful series, The Parasol Protectorate, has a new book out. I discovered I’d missed a couple of novellas set in that world so read and enjoyed Romancing the Inventor. Now, I’m not a lover of shifter books, but I love her steampunk world of werewolves and vampires, so I’ll try her new one set in an alternative San Francisco. Current read is Felice Stevens, The Shape of You. I’ve been putting this off, and I know it’s going to be tough reading for me. I find books where one character is overweight problematic, but I thought I’d give this one a try. Early days yet.
Box set watching continues. We’re up to S11 of Supernatural, so not much left, and now on S3 of Orphan Black. I need to think what to watch after we’ve finished S11. I might try American Gods, but I’m not sure. Lots of current watches are coming to an end on TV now, as we get the summer recess and lots of repeats. I have enjoyed the Gay Britannia season of programmes tying in with the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which partially repealed laws and decriminalised some homosexual behaviour. It was a start, and along the way other obstacles appeared, including the awful Clause 28, which I’m proud to say as a teacher, I completely ignored. No one was telling me I couldn’t tell a teenager that being gay wasn’t normal. I wish I could find a sketch Ben Elton did at the time which questioned how the government then thought teachers were rubbish, but believed they’d be able to make everyone of their pupils gay with a few words. The film, Pride, was on TV last night. If you’ve never seen it, please do. The women in it are fantastic, and want to hope the character played by Bill Nighy finds love after so many years attempting to hide his sexuality.
That’s it for this week. I’ve had some more lovely reviews for My Highland Cowboy, so if you want a low angst, heart-warming read, it might be the one for you. 

And just a reminder that today is the last day for getting 25% off Manifold Press books at Smashwords, including my older MC story, While You See a Chance.

Have a good week everyone.

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..

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.