Monday, 13 November 2017

On Kindness


On Friday we buried my brother. I live in the north west of England and my family are from Barry in South Wales. I have arthritis and can’t drive long distances. I had no idea how I was going to get there, or how I would manage once there. Lying awake this morning, I decided to write about kindness, then I discovered on twitter that today is World Kindness Day, so this blog seems even more serendipitous.

I am a great believer in kindness and letting people be kind. Having mobility issues has taught me that people like to help, people don’t always get it right, but I want to believe they are motivated by the best of reasons. The events of the last few weeks have shown me just how wonderful people can be.

We knew getting to Wales would be a problem. I rang a local taxi firm to enquire and they gave me a quote but didn’t seem too keen, then out of the blue one of my publishers offered the services of her husband. The wonderful Mr P hired a car big enough to take us and my walker and baggage and drove us there and back, clocking up many hours of driving and dealing with someone – me – struggling to get into the seat, panicking that I might not – and us singing along with the radio. I can’t tell you how grateful we were that this person, who we had never met before, went out of their way to take us and bring us back.

Once at the hotel, everyone again was kind and helpful. We stayed at a Premier Inn next door to a Beefeater Restaurant called Walston Castle. Some of the reviews aren’t complimentary online, but every person who served the tables were as helpful as they could be, from making sure doors were opened so I could get my walker through, to making sure we got the table nearest the entrance from the hotel so I wouldn’t have to deal with steps. Our waitress was lovely with my young niece and nephew on the first night there, and nothing but polite and helpful, constantly checking we were okay, especially after they discovered why we were there.

An old friend of my mum’s took us to the funeral, with her daughter driving and then onto the venue for the wake/disco. Again, I had fun getting in, but we managed. We did go to the wrong door so I couldn’t get into the main room due to many stairs, but they stayed with me and the place was so packed I definitely wasn’t alone. A lot of me was glad not to be sitting with him in front of me in that coffin as I find that so hard to deal with. The celebrant sought me out and introduced herself and the funeral directors also checked on me. My sister in law and her family were wonderful. How C did that speech about my brother, I have no idea, but she managed to stand there in front all those people and speak about him. So many people went out of their way to speak to me and tell me their stories. I’m not sure many of them would ever have been to a funeral where dancing took place before, but my brother loved dancing and Boogie Wonderland was his choice.

At the wake which had a DJ and disco, as he’d insisted, I met people I hadn’t seen for nearly forty years, people who we’d grown up who were now grandparents. Still, I could find no one who knew why my brother was nicknamed Ned. I also got a lot of questions about my writing – my mother and brother had told many that I wrote novels, so there I was talking about gay romance. When we left, the disco had started and many were up on the floor dancing as he’d have wanted, including my older nephew and my sister in law. I suspect there will have been a few thick heads the day after.

Leaving my mum and eldest nephew was hard, but I know C will look after them. I returned home to discover more kindness. I have an amazing group of friends online. We met through our love of Doctor Who. These wonderful friends had made a donation to Cancer Research on behalf of Ian. Such kindness brought more tears, and I’ve cried a few recently.

Lastly, there is one person without whom I could not have done this. She has been my best friend for nearly forty years. You know how important you are to me.

Sometimes, this world can seem like a horrible place when you read all that is going on at the moment, but out there are people who want to be kind. I am so grateful for that kindness, and wanted to state so publicly. We will never get over our loss, but the kindness of so many made the last few days just that bit easier.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Round up, 30th October


Morning everyone from a sunny but cold and frosty Lancashire. Weather forecasts are warning of snow to come so maybe the view from my kitchen might look like the picture above. I like snow as long as I don't have to go out and have plenty of food. I’ve been awake since 4.30 so I’m already hugging my coffee after my usual morning mug of tea. I’ve already put the fire on so cat the elder is a happy puss.

Once again, I’d like to thank all the people who offered love and condolences for my brother. We finally have a date for the funeral and have been spending time picking tunes. My brother loved to dance, usually without too much style, so there are some interesting choices and, when asked, his twenty-six-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter both chose the same song. They knew their father well.

Making arrangements for me has been tricky, and I’ll admit to being nervous depending on others because I can’t do the driving. Thankfully, someone has come to our rescue and is taking us down to Wales and collecting us. Such kindness is truly appreciated, especially as this person doesn’t know us at all except online. I’ve hired a wheelchair which arrives tomorrow so we can practice, booked the hotel, and sorted out the cattery. I know this is going to be one of the most difficult occasions in my life. The physical pressures will be hard enough, but emotionally, I’m all over the place. The venue will be packed. My brother was one of those people who gathered friends and kept them. I’m so grateful that many of them have taken my oldest nephew under their wing. Maybe, I might get chance to visit Barry Island to see the view on the cover of The Matchmaker, my short story.

I have, at least, managed to produce some words over the last week. I’m not sure they are likely to stay, but WIP, Two for the Road, is up to just under 48K words now. I reckon on approximately three to four more chapters so it’s going to reach around 55K words. Once this is complete, I intend to start the third part of a trilogy with the same MCs. I want all three parts complete before I even think of submitting it, so I don’t have deadlines to deal with.
Over the last week, we’ve finished watching S2 of The West Wing which includes my favourite ever episode of anything – Two Cathedrals. I love this show so much, but it makes me so much sadder knowing who is in charge in the US today and the climate we live in. Next on the watch list is S2 of Stranger Things while we continue to watch Star Trek Discovery.

My current reading is The Convenient Husband by Robin Covington, a new author for me. I enjoyed reading The Palisade by Rosalind Abel and Curious by Seth King. Really looking forward to reading Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger.

I think that’s it for now. I could say more about current events but I’m tired. Hopefully, with so much happening, there will be changes in attitudes and behaviour. For now, I feel like I’m in limbo until after the funeral. For those of you who love Halloween, I don't, I hope you have a great time dressing up. My last words again this week are life can be too short so if there’s someone you haven’t talked to for a while, because we all live busy lives, let them know that you care. 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Round Up 23rd October


I wasn’t sure whether to write anything this week, but here I am. We thought we’d have more time. As most of you who read these missives probably know, my brother died last Friday. He’d had cancer for over a year. Like they tell you in the adverts, he’d been to his doctor because he had bleeding when he went to the toilet. The doctor dismissed his concerns for months. I can’t tell you how much I want to rage at that man. At first, we were hopeful the cancer was only in his bowel. They operated, and we crossed our fingers, then they found it in his liver. Again, we hoped they’d be able to cut it out, but they couldn’t operate straight away so he had chemo. Our hopes were dashed when they found another small tumour in his lung. Treatment kept it stable, but it had reached his lymph nodes too and he’d started to get pain. 
His friends, and he had many, raised some money for him and the family to go away recently. They had a lovely holiday in France and a couple of weeks ago he was able to go to Old Trafford to see his beloved Manchester United as part of a special VIP package, meeting more of his heroes and watching United win. 

His death came suddenly, with a blood clot, which I’ve found can be a side effect of cancer treatment. He was fifty-four and leaves behind his wife, his three kids, my mum, me, and so many friends. My brother was the sort of person who kept his friends, many from when he was in school. You’d have never have got him out of Barry, unlike me.

I’m not sure how I’m going to get to the funeral. Because of the arthritis and recent injury, I can’t drive very far or walk too well. I’m hoping we can get a car and driver to take us and I can hire a wheelchair maybe. One big problem is my mum’s house has no parking outside, being one of those 60s housing estates, so I have to walk just to get to it. When we have a date, I’ll see what can be organised. Luckily, we have Skype so I’ve been able to speak to my mum and sister in law and discuss what songs he might like. I expect George Michael, he adored him so much, or Paul Weller will be there, with some Bowie as well.
My brother was a lovely bloke who found the thing he did best was being a dad and it breaks my heart to know his little ones aged four and seven won’t have his presence in their lives. For me, although we didn’t see each other much recently, it feels strange to know there’s only me now. He loved the idea of his older sister writing stories with gay sex in them. It amused him to think of me writing those scenes. The world is a worse place for him not being in it anymore.
On to other things. Last week, I managed to write some words and the WIP, Two for the Road, my May/Dec romance, has now reached 45K words. I’m expecting it to be around 50K words, but it may be longer. The Matchmaker, my short story from the Right Here, Right Now, anthology is now available for preorder from the publisher and Amazon. This is a fluffy feel good piece with very little angst and a picture of the beach at Barry Island on the front. It will be out on general release 28th November.


I’ve done some reading over the last few days, especially when sleep has eluded me. Axios, by Jaclyn Osborn, as promised needed some tissues. I enjoyed Rebuilding Together by Kaje Harper and reading the rest of the short stories in the anthology. I’m currently splitting reading between Good Omens by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman and Curious by Seth King. Not sure what to read next, but looking at a Rosalind Abel story. I haven’t read any of her work before. 

On the watching front, really enjoying Star Trek Discovery. We’re splitting the boxset rewatch between Buffy and The West Wing. With every episode, I appreciate even more the wonderful script and performances in The West Wing and wish someone like Jed Bartlet was President, but don’t get me started on the man in charge now.

That’s it for this post. We survived a battering by storm Brian which brought down all the leaves over the weekend. I hope you are all well, and please tell the people in your life how much they matter to you. One of my main comforts at this time is knowing my last words to my brother were - love you too.




Monday, 9 October 2017

Round Up Post 9th October

Morning from a dull and overcast Lancashire where it has just started to rain. Woke up this morning and it was one of those days when you know you’re alive because you ache all over – the joys of arthritis when the weather is damp. It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote a blog so I hope everyone who glances at these things is all right. Recent events in Las Vegas show that you can take nothing for granted. I’m British and I don’t understand the need for guns many people in the US seem to have. Though, having said that both of my neighbours have guns they use for hunting rabbits. It’s not that we don’t have guns over here but that we don’t have automatic assault rifles or own so many guns and carry them around while shopping in Tesco. Even police carrying guns don’t make me feel safer when I see them on the street. I have fired an air rifle a long time again now shooting tins off the fence, but that’s my only experience.

On to other things. Last week Right Here, Right Now came out. This is an anthology of six contemporary gay romance stories by some great authors. Each story is different. Mine, The Matchmaker is quite fluffy and low angst and will be available on its own 17th October. Links to both are on my blog page where you will also find this piece.
I’ve spent most of the last week getting a final draft of the first part of what I’m calling my Half trilogy. Yes, this is the story of three halves. The first is Half Full and introduces the characters of Jonah and Owen as well as their friends and family. I love writing all the secondary characters and the dialogue between them and the MCs. The idea for this story came from a documentary I saw about an athlete who’d been adopted a few years back so you know one of the MCs, Owen is adopted, but he isn’t an athlete. He’s a librarian and mixed race/biracial – I’ve had different opinions about which I should use. The other MC, Jonah, is based on a secondary character from another story, who I wanted to give a story to but it wasn’t possible so I adapted him to fit into this one. I love Jonah. He’s a great believer in paying back, is full of life like Tigger, but has his own insecurities. He produces beautiful things from wood. I’m lucky to have Rebecca, my last editor from Pride, giving it the once over. Part two is written and with my beta, and part three has a lot of ideas and will be next writing when I finish WIP. I need to get back on track with the WIP, now called Two for the Road. It’s at 35K with probably about another 15K to write. At least they’ve got together at last! I’m still grinding it out slowly.
I’ve been reading a bit more lately and my TBR list is growing. I’ve finished Silk by K C Wells. Loved the story as I needed at bit of low angst. Raced through An Unsuitable Heir by K J Charles. Loved the while series and how the ending was sorted. Just started Axios, having read so much about it, by Jaclyn Osborn. I know very little about Sparta but watched all of Spartacus (Nagron needs no further explanation) and have studied Roman history so hoping that will help. I’ve some books by new to me writers, C F White, Annabeth Albert and Robin Covington on my TBR list. I am also eagerly awaiting Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger. I loved the Parasol Protectorate series and two of my favourite characters are Biffy and Lyall. I wrote fanfic. The cover for this new book that brings these two together, is gorgeous – a corseted waistcoat – yum. I wish I could include it here.
On the watching front, I finished Shadowhunters and adored Magnus Bane. We watched World Without End based on the book by Ken Follett, and once again I was thankful not to have been female back then. We’ve started watching Star Trek Discovery. I am a huge fan and as I also love Jason Issacs, this is a must. I first loved Jason when he played Hook – love a pirate in a puffy white blouse or not as below. Our latest boxset watch is Buffy the Vampire Slayer – yes, all seven series which we may mix with Angel. Other excitement is the end of this summer's Hellatus with the return of Supernatural this week.

Right, I think that’s enough from me. Have a good week everyone and happy sales. 

Oh and you can add The Matchmaker to your reading list if you'd like here

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Right Here, Right Now - anthology of contemporary gay romance

I'd seen the call for stories for this anthology from Pride Publishing but didn't have an idea and I was also deep into writing another story, so I ignored it, then I received an e-mail. Could I write 15000 words? I wasn't sure. I mulled it over attempting to find a story, then from nowhere the first words jumped into my head - "I know you like him." I then started to think who might say these words and to whom would he say them and a story was born. 
I'm a pantster but I got out my ideas pad and scribbled down ideas for characters, locations and issues and The Matchmaker was created. The main characters are Simon, a businessman, Tom, his adopted son who says the opening lines, and Josh, Tom's carer. They live in Cardiff and some of the story involves a visit to Barry Island shown on the cover.

There are five other wonderful stories in the anthology, all very different from some amazing authors. I've read them all.

’Undercover’ by Lily Harlem
When two alpha males collide, sparks will fly.
’Never the Groom’ by Samantha Cayto
A cold night turns unexpectedly hot.
’The Soldier Next Door’ by Brigham Vaughn
Sometimes, love is right next door.
’The Matchmaker’ by Alexa Milne
Sometimes you need a little push.
’Throwaway’ by Jon Keys
Garrett escaped the death threat from his family, but the Texas Panhandle is where he may be at the end of any hope.
’The Coach’ by Thom Collins
A routine assignment unlocks the secrets of his past.

So if you love mm romance and need a short story to fill in a boring lunchtime or to read before going to bed or any time really, why not download this collection?

Links

You can use

Universal Amazon link - myBook.to/RightHereRightNow

Monday, 25 September 2017

Round Up Post - 25th September


Sorry, it’s been a couple of weeks since my last blog. This morning, I’m having a bit of a panic about pulling a muscle behind my right leg as it’s aching. Last year, I managed to tear the thigh muscle behind my left leg which led to me being stuck upstairs and then down when I did it again. I don’t usually mention it here, but combined with my arthritis, my movement has been limited. So, here I am sat on a cool pack on this dull and overcast September morning. I can hardly believe it’s October at the weekend.


Right, enough of that. Lots going on in the world. The mess that is Brexit continues to annoy the hell out of me. More stupid in fighting and no one seeming to have any idea what they’re doing. Then there are the ‘mad’ men trying to lead us to war, which reminds me of kids in the playground. I always described world war one as two gangs of boys simply running out of options and then choosing to hit each other. Finally, the earth seems to be trying to tell us something and it isn’t good. Meanwhile, we’re still trying to put three houses into one and had over twenty bags of stuff collected by the British Heart Foundation with no doubt more to come.

On to the writing news. I wrote words last week, around 4500 of them on my current WIP. This is my age difference story which has a title as well. It’s now up to nearly 32K words, but I’m not sure how long it’s going to be by the end. They have finally gotten past the kissing stage, but only just, and it’s going to take a rewrite because the MCs keep telling me things they didn’t mention at the beginning of the story. Book 2 of my trilogy set in Norfolk is ready to be sent to my beta, and I have ideas of what I need to tackle in the third part which I intend to write when I’ve finished this story. I still have an unfinished story which I left at 20K words hoping for inspiration.

In other writing news, the anthology of contemporary gay romance, Right Here, Right Now is out on
general release 3rd October, but can be pre-ordered now from Amazon, Pride Publishing and First For Romance. My story, The Matchmaker is a fluffy piece set in South Wales. The story will be released on its own in November with a wonderful cover from Emmy Ellis. I am in great company in this book, so why not check it out?

And onto watching and reading news. I haven’t managed much reading over the last few weeks, but have completed Yanni’s Story by N R Walker. I’ve enjoyed this series but I have to admit to having an issue with ‘daddy’ stories. I nearly put this down on several occasions, but did finish it. Other than this, which is a personal squick for me, the story, as always, is well written and poignant. It also helped me work out a few things about my own age difference story. I’m currently reading two other books. Firstly, The Monet Murders by Josh Lanyon. I love Josh’s work and I enjoyed The Mermaid Murders, but I am finding Sam’s behaviour annoying. I won’t spoiler. I hope it’s resolved, but then again, my favourites Adrien and Jake had their moments of stupid behaviour too. I’m also reading A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale. It’s interesting comparing gay romance and gay literature and how they are structured and written. I keep thinking I wouldn’t get away with that huge section of exposition or that info dump, not to mention the use of adverbs. Still, I have enjoyed it and I’m still hoping for a happy ending. Next read will be Memories by Ruby Moone, followed by An Unsuitable Heir by K J Charles, or Romancing the Werewolf (see the fabulous cover) by Gail Carriger.
On our boxset watch, we have finally finished all twelve seasons of Supernatural before season thirteen begins next month. Sadly, I’ve not managed to persuade my fellow watcher of the existence of Destiel – oh well. We are currently keeping up with Victoria, in which nothing much happens, and the next watch will be World Without End based on the books by Ken Follet set in Medieval England, followed by Buffy which for me will be a rewatch. I’ve also nearly finished watching Shadowhunters which I’ve enjoyed mostly for Magnus the Warlock. Also this starts today and I may be a little excited.
That’s everything for now. I hope everyone is well and happy sales to all my author friends out there.

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.