Friday, 12 December 2014

Guest Author - Faith Ashlin




Faith Ashlin's new release is now available for early download HERE from Totally Bound - treat yourselves to an early Christmas pressie with this gay, alternate reality novel!
 

A Slow Process of Understanding

How does a world that accepts slavery affect both master and slave? Can two people build a new life for themselves with a start like theirs?

It’s a world like this one except for the all-powerful State that’s very firmly in control and the fact that slavery is legal. Jimmy had never really thought about it or the fight for freedom going on around him. He was too busy enjoying his privileged life as an actor on a sci-fi show.

But what is he meant to do when he’s forced to permanently bond to a slave he doesn’t want just because he made one silly, drunken mistake? Does it change who he is, what he is?

Trouble is, Jimmy isn’t sure who he was to start with. He’d never thought about it.
And what about his slave, Nate? Can a slave force Jimmy into learning something about himself?

EXCERPT

‘It’s not fucking fair,’ was all that kept going through Jimmy’s mind. Over and over on repeat. It wasn’t fucking fair—not fair he was here, not fair he’d be here for weeks, not fucking fair he was being forced to bond with some guy he didn’t even know. How could something like that ever be fair?

Okay, so maybe he’d stepped out of line and said things he shouldn’t, to people he shouldn’t. Said them long and loud. But he’d been drunk, and everyone knew he was an arsehole when he was drunk. He’d just kind of assumed they knew he was he was a friendly, didn’t-mean-it kind of arsehole.

And okay, maybe he had hit someone, but he hadn’t meant that either. He was the kind of drunk that did stupid things they wouldn’t normally—things they didn’t mean. Hit people they didn’t mean to. It wasn’t personal. He hadn’t known who the guy was. Just some random kid, who just happened to have a powerful mother.

Was it such a crime to get drunk and say things he shouldn’t, in front of people he shouldn’t? And hit people he shouldn’t?

Yeah, actually even he knew it was a crime, but shit, this was a hell of a punishment.
He was a good guy really, only the authorities hadn’t seen it like that, and now he was fucking stuck here. Even the minor celebrity that came with being on a TV show with plastic spaceships hadn’t bought him any leeway. But he should have known that, known what a hard, unforgiving bastard The State could be.

Now he had to pay for his stupidity. Nothing else to do now but suck it up and pay his dues.

But it might not be all bad. They’d told him he was going to be bonded with this guy—which was as near as damn it to fucking marriage—but the man would still be Jimmy’s slave. Jimmy would own him, be accountable and responsible for him. That was supposed to be part of his punishment. To teach him to be responsible, so in future, he’d act that way toward The State.

Owning a slave. That was a weird concept, but there could be positives.

He wasn’t about to treat a slave the way some people did. He’d seen it—at parties, around, hell, on the streets. Slaves bent over and fucked, passed around for anyone’s pleasure. Treated as slabs of meat. He wasn’t about to do anything like that. He’d be fair, protect him from the perverts. He’d be responsible, just like they wanted, even if it wasn’t fair.

They both knew the score, knew there’d have to be sex, but he knew how to treat a person right. Slaves were people, no matter what The State said. He’d take the free, no-strings sex as a bonus. But people, anyone, deserved to be treated right.

He might not have understood the freedom movement, but he could help one man live an easier life. He’d be doing his small part to make the world a more decent place. He’d be responsible and accept his punishment like a man. Once he got through prison.

That made him feel a little better about everything.

He just hoped the guy didn't look like the tail end of a rhinoceros. 

                                                                                              ~ * ~
 
[If this whets your appetite, a much longer excerpt can be read on Totally Bound's site...]






Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Heat and History...

Heat, the book I co-wrote with the immensely talented RJ Scott is set in Salisbury, so I thought I'd give you a rough idea of this little city on the edge of Wiltshire. I'll issue a disclaimer right at the start - I haven't been able to 100% verify all the information below, as the Salisbury Reference Library doesn't hold anything much in the way of historical records. Everything is stored at Chippenham, which is a complicated bus or train ride away. So we are relying on my memory and inside knowhow gleaned during my years with the now defunct Salisbury Museum Archaeological Research Group [aka SMARG], and a ten-year-old survey on the Archaeology Data Services website.

Okay, here we go. Salisbury didn't start off on its current site. It probably began as a Neolithic causewayed enclosure on a nearby hill before moving down to the valley in the early 13th century. This followed ongoing disputes between the powers that be at castle and the church, and in 1220 the cathedral was re-sited on church-owned land beside the River Avon. At the same time, the city was planned out in the usual grid pattern, and some of the chequers were named for the inns in them; the Three Cuppes, the Blue Boar, and the Cross Keyes, to name but a few.

A city wall was part of the project, but didn't really get off the ground. Impressive stone gates were constructed [now long gone], but the wall was no more than a dirt rampart and was never completed. It exists today in the street name - Rampart Road - and a short piece of bank and ditch in the grounds of Bourne House.

Communities already existed on and around the chosen site. Palaeolithic stone tools have been found,  as well as Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman artifacts, and at least two Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. The church of St Martin and the village around it predates the new city.


While Laurels, the Mandineaus' restaurant, is fictional, and its address wasn't given in the story, it is sited in New Street, and backs onto the walls of the Close that surrounds Salisbury Cathedral. Its stand-in body-double is the New Inn. Don't be misled by the New. The street and the building are among the oldest in Salisbury.

The city planners had an eye to sanitation. Watercourses were diverted down channels [canals] in the centre of the streets to serve as open sewers that carried waste away into the river. The street known as New Canal still reflects that. Now it's part of the city's notorious one way road system.


Visitors to Salisbury have scratched their heads in a WTH moment at the name of a small coffee bar; Nuggs 1268. Back in the year 1268, Hugh Nugg lived here. It's a prestigious site on the corner of Blue Boar Row and Endless Street, and Nugg was probably an eminent - and rich - guild member. Endless Street isn't, of course. It's possibly named for a well-to-do family called Endell or Endle.


 
Another eye-catching place is the Odeon cinema. It was once the Hall of John Halle, built in 1470. Halle was elected mayor four times, and was also Salisbury’s MP. He took on the Bishop of Salisbury in defence of the citizens' rights, so much so he managed to offend the king and ended up in prison for a while. Inside it has some impressive Jacobean panelling.


This is a brief snapshot of Lewis' Salisbury... Come and visit if you're in the area; we have some great restaurants and pubs, plenty of shops, and lots of history tucked away in unexpected places.


~ * ~

HEAT

Serving up passion, family, love and hate, with a side order of arson.

Lewis has lost nearly everything, and now it seems that Devon is here to take the last thing he has left - working in his beloved restaurant, Laurels. But when an arsonist threatens everything Lewis loves, he realizes sometimes everyone has their ghosts, and he discovers an unexpected ally who is prepared to risk everything for him.


Set in the small cathedral city of Salisbury, Master Chef Lewis Mandineau no longer owns the Laurels, the restaurant that had been in his family for generations. Betrayed and robbed by an ex-lover, he's had to sell to Carnegie Enterprises, an American corporation. That isn't all Lewis has to contend with. Rachel, his beloved younger sister has been left severely hurt by the car crash that killed their parents, and taking care of her has to be his priority.

Enter Devon Trelawney III, sent to assess the viability of the restaurant and its staff. Devon knows all about family tradition. But he also knows sentiment has no place in business matters, and the Laurels' potential is swamped by the debts it has accrued. Devon is a hardheaded businessman, first and foremost, but Lewis and Rachel test his resolve in different ways. Soon Devon is forced to admit that what seems like an impossible love can sometimes become something very real.  

Buy Links for Heat

Love Lane Books  |  Amazon (US)  |  Amazon (UK)  |  ARe  |  Smashwords  |  B&N  |  iTunes

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Names: More than labels...

Words - meanings and derivations - fascinate me, especially when they are personal names or place names. There are a lot of sites out there where I can indulge my curiosity, so I picked one at random, https://www.surnamedb.com/ and decided to investigate my family names. I have three I can play with; adopted name, married name and birth name. The results are intriguing, and could easily flush out the odd plot bunny if ever the ideas dry up. 

All of the below information comes from the Surname Database...

Last name: Quinton
This unusual and interesting name has a number of possible origins. The most likely of these is of Anglo-Saxon origin, from one of the places called Quinton in Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire and Worcestershire. The first of these places is recorded in 848 as "Quentone", and in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Quintone". The name means "the queen's manor", derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "cwen", queen, with "tun", enclosure, farm, estate. Another possible origin is from the Old French given name "Quentin" or "Quintin", which means "fifth-born", from the Latin "quintinus", and a further French origin is locational from anyone of the places in Normandy named from St. Quentin of Amiens. Quainton is a variant of the more common surname Queinton. Henry Quinton, aged 20 yrs., was one of the earliest settlers in the New World, having travelled to Virginia, from London aboard the "Bonaventure" under James Ricrofte, in January 1634. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gladewin de Quenton, which was dated 1176, in the "Pipe Rolls of Berkshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Last name: Power
This interesting surname has two distinct possible origins, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly, the name may be locational from the Old French "Pohier", indicating a native of Pois, a town in Picardy, North France, so called from the Old French "pois", fish, because of its well-stocked rivers. Locational surnames were originally given to the lord of the manor, or as a means of identification to those who left their place of origin to settle elsewhere. The surname from this source was introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It entered Ireland in 1170 when a bearer of the name le Poer took part in Strongbow's invasion of Wexford. The name, initially Gaelicized "de Paor", and later Anglicized "Power", became one of the most completely Hibernicized of the surnames introduced at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion. Poore may also have originated as a nickname for a poor man, or ironically for a miser, from the Middle English and Old French "povre, poure", poor. In the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, dated 1296 to 1332, the name appears as "le Poer, le Power", and "Power", and Richard le Poor, Poore or Poure (deceased 1237), was successively bishop of Chichester, Salisbury, and Durham. A Coat of Arms granted to the Poore family of Oxfordshire, is a silver shield with three black bars nebulee, over all a gold bend. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Drogo Poher, which was dated 1127, in the "Ancient Charters of Gloucestershire", during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. 

Last name: Hayes
This distinguished and ancient surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any one of a number of places called "Hayes". Hayes in Kent, recorded as "Hese" in the 1168 Pipe Rolls, and in Middlesex, recorded as "Hesa" in the Domesday Book of 1086, derive from the Olde English pre 7th Century "haes", brushwood or underwood. Hayes in Devonshire and Dorset is the plural of the Olde English "(ge)horg" an enclosure, or "hege" a hedge. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname is first recorded in the late 12th Century (see below), and can also be found as Heyes and Hease. Henry Heyse is noted in the Chartulary of Ramsey Abbey, Cambridgeshire (1240). Agnes Hayes married Willmus Smallrydge on October 18th 1543, in Devon. One Martin Hayes, together with his wife and child, is recorded as living in the Barbados in 1680; he was one of the earliest settlers in the New World. There are no less than nineteen Coats of Arms granted to this illustrious family. One granted to the Hayes family in Middlesex is blue, on a gold pale three black bulls heads couped. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh de la Heise, which was dated 1197, in the "Eynsham Cartulary of Oxfordshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Another Cover Reveal and an Excerpt - Undercover Blues

Undercover Blues

To be Released by Manifold Press on November 1st!

Blurb

London 1935: industrial espionage, blackmail, and two Home Office agents masquerading as lovers in a dance band. What could possibly go wrong?

With the cooperation of a top-ranking scientist and his son, Tom Langton and Robert Darnley are sent in as bait for a gang that uses blackmail to steal industrial secrets at a time when Hitler's rise to power in Germany threatens Europe. The two men are friends, but they each have secrets of their own - both are well aware that homosexuality is against the law. Living in close quarters, having to portray an illegal relationship, adds unexpected tensions to an already dangerous situation.

Excerpt

As Sloane had known he would be, Rob was the first to become restless, impatient. Tom remained impassive. Neither man spoke.
Sloane nodded, a silent assent to the question he had been asking himself since Harvey's visit.
"Sir Owen Bellamy," he said, taking a photograph out of a file and putting it in front of them. They stared at the image, a grim-faced man in his late fifties, white hair thinning, a bushy white moustache above thin lips and an obstinate chin. "Edmond Bellamy." A second photo joined it, a young man, short dark hair combed from a side parting, and pale eyes scowled at the camera. The face was handsome, but marked with a sullen nervousness, skin sallow, eye sockets dark-ringed, jaw jutting with an inherited obduracy.
"Looks familiar," said Tom, "Do we know him?"
"No." Sloane's smile was entirely mirthless. "He bears a marked resemblance to Darnley. Change Darnley's hairstyle to match and they could be a twin."
"What? Not bloody likely! He doesn't look a bit like me."
"I see what you mean," Tom said thoughtfully. "Sending him in as a ringer, sir?"
"Yes. Pay attention, Darnley. Sir Owen is an old friend of mine, we went to school together. So too is John Harvey." He produced a third photograph; another man in his late fifties, brown hair greying at the temples, styled straight back from a high forehead. "John had been meaning to look me up for some time with a problem of his own, but was not sure if it was IRD material or not. After a meeting with Sir Owen and a comparing of notes, they decided their two problems could well be one.
"Sir Owen is the head of the Montfort Research Laboratories at Oxford. Last month, his chief assistant's son was caught going through his father's notes. They had a row, the boy ran out. The next morning he was found hanging in the orchard. Suicide. He left a note which Sir Owen kept from the police. It is somewhat ambiguous and seems to have been written under the influence of drugs, and certainly heroin was found in the boy's system at the post mortem. However, it does tie in with some of the things he'd shouted at his father during their quarrel.
"The boy was under pressure from an unidentified person or persons to obtain information on the Research Laboratories' current project, refining a new underwater detection device to be used by submarines. The lever being blackmail with some unspecified photographs, and the lad's addiction to cocaine. He had been an habitué of some rather expensive London nightclubs, and this is where the two problems become one. John is the leader of a dance band that plays alternate nights at two of these clubs. He served with me in Intelligence during the war, and he is convinced that one of the clubs is being used for some kind of underhand activity. He thought drugs, but it could also be blackmail."
"Does it link in with any other security leaks, sir?" Tom asked.
"Possibly. We've no concrete proof, but what we could have here is a gang who specialise in industrial espionage, using inside contacts through blackmail. There have been a number of cases over the last year that could fit this pattern. Even more worrying, there is rumoured to be a link with the Baumann-Klein gang in Germany, who are known to be funded by the Nazis. The relevant files are here for your perusal. I intend to put a stop to their activities, and have come to an arrangement with Sir Owen and John. And Edmond Bellamy." He frowned at Rob, daring him to speak out of turn. "He is Sir Owen's only child, and is something of a black sheep. He's spent the last six years in New York, living a somewhat bohemian life, and has been estranged from his family since he was sent down from Oxford. The official reason was drug-taking.
"What was not general knowledge was that he had also been caught in a compromising situation with his History don. His time in New York reflects the same indulgences; drugs and a series of homosexual liaisons." He broke off, the better to appreciate Rob's expression of dumbfounded and outraged horror. Tom, his face contorted with suppressed laughter, leaned over and patted Rob's knee.
"Never mind, sweetheart," he snickered. "It couldn't happen to a nicer girl."
Rob took several deep breaths, and controlled himself with an obvious effort. "I see, sir," he said through gritted teeth. "I'm supposed to stroll into this bloody club, pick up a feller and get myself blackmailed. Right?"
"Not quite, but close," Sloane acknowledged. "Bellamy has been shipped back to this country and is safely stowed away in our care. Sir Owen will let it be known that he is anxious to be reconciled with his son, providing he gives up his rackety lifestyle and settles down to a respectable job with a respectable girl who'll become a respectable wife. In the meantime, Edmond Bellamy will appear in London under another name, attached in some way to John Harvey's band. Do you play an instrument, Darnley?"
"Triangle," Tom supplied, delighted.
"Guitar," Rob snapped. "And piano. But I've never played in a regular band, just a jazz group occasionally."
"There's a first time for everything," Sloane said. "John has just gained a pianist."
"Who," Rob snarled, "do I pick up, sir? Anybody?"
"No. A casual liaison is out of the question. There would have to be a lot more at stake, more to pressurize Bellamy." His gaze moved to Tom, whose wide grin faded to wall-eyed wariness.
"Oh, no. Not me."
"Yes," said Sloane.
"He's not my type!" Rob protested, his own amusement growing as rapidly as Tom's disappeared. "Far too manly and hairy."
"He won't be by the time we've finished with him," Sloane said grimly.
"Now wait a minute!" Tom yelped. "Sir—"
"Oh, yes, sunshine!" Rob interrupted. "If I'm going to be made the laughing stock of IRD, there is no way I'm going to leave you on the outside to stir up more bad jokes at my expense. You're going to be right in there with me!"
"Exactly," said Sloane. "Langton, can you sing?"
"'Course he can sing, sir," Rob cut in. "Pour enough alcohol into him and the trick is to stop him. No one knows more verses of Eskimo Nell than he does."
"No," snapped Tom. "I can't."
"Then you're going to have to learn. I want you, as one Jeremy Collins, to be a visible part of the Harvey outfit. John is prepared to stretch a point and let you take over his own vocal spot. If you're good enough. If not, we'll have to think of something else."
Tom heaved a sigh, glowering and sullen in his chair. "Yes, sir," he muttered. "I take it you've got it all worked out, sir?"
"I have. Gentlemen, we all know the law, and public perceptions of homosexuals. I think we also know human nature and cold reality. The situations of Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward, for example, though they are hardly contemporaries, are in stark contrast to each other. While Mr Coward receives a certain amount of approbation from some quarters, others are willing to turn a blind eye to his proclivities. So I expect you both to conduct yourselves discreetly but in such a way that the relationship between Bailey and Collins is beyond doubt."
Tom and Rob glanced at each other, then they turned to Sloane.
"Yes, sir," they said in unison.
Satisfied, Sloane nodded. "Darnley, make a start on these files. That one is Edmond Bellamy from birth to this morning. Memorize every last word. Langton, come with me. They're waiting for you in the basement."
"Oh, God," Tom moaned. "The things I do for my country." Rob laughed and blew him a kiss as he trailed out of the office.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Meet the Character Blog Tour



The uber-talented and prolific Jody Lynn Nye tagged me to join in the Meet the Character Blog Tour. Her entry can be found here: http://jodynye.net/meet-the-character-blog-tour/
where we meet Lord Thomas Innes Loche Kinago, cousin to Emperor Shojan XII, of View From the Imperium and the newly released Fortunes of the Imperium, both from Baen Books.

Okay, I am in exalted company here, being very much a niche genre author, but I'll give it my best shot and invite you to meet one of the heroes of my latest ebook release, Greymalkin, the first in my Melusine's Cats series, out of Kouros Books.

Is he fictional or historical?

Jesse Adams is fictional, and reflects in some ways the situations that openly gay sportsmen face even when discrimination is against the law. He also has to face greater dangers when he finds himself caught up in ancient myths.

When and where is the story set?

It's set in the fictional Lynn valley, in the northwest of Devon in the UK. The time is the present day, but the barriers between his reality and the other reality of the local legends are thin. The River Lynn runs the length of the valley from its source on Exmoor to the sea. Melusine, a water entity, is bound to the river, and she is both prisoner and warder. She can only travel in the flowing water of her river, and cannot set foot on her banks. Her cats are not so bound. Neither pets nor familiars, they move freely between the realities, her agents among the humans who live along the Lynn. She needs to rebuild her triads, the pairs of warriors united with their guardian beasts.

What should we know about him?

Jesse is a gay ex-rugby player who's gone into seclusion to avoid the media following a guilty verdict in a court case. He was the tighthead prop for the Warwick Rhinos, until false accusations and lying testimony cost him his career. Jesse has come to live for a year in the village of Greenlynn, where he is supposed to be writing his biography. He's something of a gentle giant, and doesn't often lose his temper. When he does, he's formidable.

In Greenlynn, he first meets a large grey cat, a seeming-feral that is a lot more than its appearance suggests. Then he meets Will Blake, the local policeman. Will is out and proud, respected and liked by the community he helps to protect from rural crime. Their attraction is mutual, but when Melusine's enemies come to the valley in search of revenge, Jesse and Will discover they, and the mysterious cat Greymalkin, have a part to play in the ancient feud.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

Jesse has to contend with the arrival of old enemies. At the same time, he's building a relationship with Will, and coming to terms with the dangers that Greymalkin and Melusine bring to their lives. She, too, has an enemy searching for her and that other prison she guards.

What is the personal goal of the character?

To clear his name is his primary objective at first, but as he and Will are drawn deeper into Melusine's situation, he realises that the people of the Lynn valley as well as Melusine need help and protection. He has to accept the realities of the everyday and the otherness of Melusine's world and become the warrior he was born to be, while he and Will forge an unbreakable relationship.

Is there a working title for this novel, and where can we read more about it?

Greymalkin - Melusine's Cats #1 was published by Kouros Books as an ebook, and is available across the Amazon sites, and from All Romance eBooks.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Cover Reveal and Update...

It's been a while since I regularly updated my blog, but now I've caught up with some of my writing projects, I can get back to more frequent posts. I've just finished writing my last chapter of Heat, the story I've been writing with RJ Scott, and it's coming out from Love Lane Books on October 25th. The cover is by Meredith Russell, and she's turned out yet another stunner.

Heat - Set in the small cathedral city of Salisbury, Master Chef Lewis Mandineau no longer owns the Laurels, the restaurant that had been in his family for generations. Betrayed and robbed by an ex-lover, he's had to sell to Carnegie Enterprises, an American corporation. That isn't all Lewis has to contend with. Rachel, his beloved younger sister has been left severely hurt by the car crash that killed their parents, and taking care of her has to be his priority.

Enter Devon Carnegie III, sent to assess the viability of the restaurant and its staff. Devon knows all about family tradition. But he also knows sentiment has no place in business matters, and the Laurels' potential is swamped by the debts it has accrued. Devon is a hardheaded businessman, first and foremost, but Lewis and Rachel test his resolve in different ways. Soon Devon is forced to admit that what seems like an impossible love can sometimes become something very real.

~ * ~

Secondly, I've finished the edits on Undercover Blues, and it will be escaping from Manifold Press on November 1st. I don't yet have a completed cover for this, but the draft copy I saw was really striking and eye-catching. Fiona Pickles does the cover art for MP, and she always comes up trumps. I'll post it as soon as I receive the final version.

Undercover Blues - London 1936: industrial espionage, blackmail, and two Home Office agents masquerading as lovers in a dance band. What could possibly go wrong?

With the cooperation of a top ranking scientist and his son, Tom Langton and Robert Darnley are sent in as bait for a gang that uses blackmail to steal industrial secrets at a time when Hitler's rise to power in Germany threatens Europe. The two men are friends, but they each have secrets of their own, both only too aware that homosexuality is against the law. Living in close quarters, having to portray an illegal relationship, adds unexpected tensions to an already dangerous situation.


~ * ~

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Back To Front...

Okay, the usual sequence of events in a story's growth is this, And yes, I have greatly simplified this list, leaving out all the creation and building of the characters, the world building, the research...:

1. Start the story while angsting over the title until one feels right.
2. Battle over the mid-story hump.
3. Battle through the last chapter brain-slump
4. Finish the story.
5. Put it through umpteen drafts.
6. Send it to beta readers and try to distract self with another Work in Progress while waiting for their responses.
7. When those responses come in, edit and tweak accordingly.
8a. Submit to a publisher and retreat to those distraction tecniques again - OR -
8b. If self-publishing start the Great Photo Hunt.

 

That sequence has been pretty much turned on its head for two stories in my WiP folder. Cause and Effect has been sitting there for quite a while. I know the characters, I know the story arc - it's a paranormal - On the run from crooks and the FBI, Rob hides out in an old deserted house, only to discover he has to confront the results of his teenage stupidity before it kills him. As soon as I saw the picture in Meredith Russell's Ready-made Cover Deal, I knew I had to grab it quick.

Meredith's site is HERE







In the other case I found the cover picture first. I purchased a creation of the uber-talented D.W. Skinner, and it suggested its own title - As Above, So Below - which I added to the photo. All I know is, it will be another paranormal.

D.W.'s site is HERE 


So there you have it. And all I have to do is work my way through my ever-expanding Work in Progress folder, most of which aren't listed on my site, and write them!

Easier said than done...

~ * ~

Friday, 20 June 2014

Greymalkin, Melusine, and Me - and Excerpt

Inspiration comes in many forms. Every writer knows this. It can be a chance-heard conversation in the street or coffee house, an old photo, a place, the way the full moon looks though bare winter branches with frost in the air, a song, a dream.

One of my light bulb moments came several years ago. I was staying with a friend in Cheshire, and she was showing me the historical delights of her home county. This included the remains of a small castle that once belonged to Sir Francis Lovell, the longtime friend of Richard III. The lane to the ruins passed by a church and its cemetery, and there I saw this gentleman. He was considerate enough to pose for me until I could get out my camera and take his photo, then he came over to greet us.

I knew right away he had to feature in a story. His name was obvious right from the start. What else could it be but Greymalkin? And Greymalkin had to be the companion of a witch. Or at least, a supernatural being of some kind, but I needed someone away from the usual suspects. 






The legends link Melusine to France and to Avalon, which made her ideal. She is a water spirit, capricious at times, and dangerous. Most of the stories feature her marriage to an unsuspecting mortal, who must swear he will not spy on her while she is bathing. He inevitably does, of course, and discovers she is a mermaid. He cries out in shock, and she immediately disappears, never to return.

Public Domain illustration from the Jean d'Arras work, Le livre de MĂ©lusine, 1478, found on Wikipedia.

I'd originally intended the Melusine's Cats series to be mostly romances, featuring interfering river deity and her cats acting more like Cupids. But they had other ideas, and before I knew it, a whole lot more plotty stuff happened.

When it came to the cover art, contacting Meredith Russell was a no-brainer. I sent her my photograph, and the two men I found on Dreamstime who matched the images in my head to the last pixel, and she came up with what has to be one of my favourite covers - thank you, Meredith! 

Melusine's Cats #1 - Greymalkin


Amazon HERE
All Romance eBooks HERE
Smashwords HERE
~ * ~

The mutual attraction between Jesse and Will is a bonus for Melusine when her enemies close in and she needs to rebuild her war band—starting with Jesse, Will, and Greymalkin.


Jesse Adams is an ex-rugby player who's gone into seclusion to avoid the media following a guilty verdict in a court case. Jesse has come to live for a year in Greenlynn, where he is supposed to be writing his biography.

Will Blake is an out and proud policeman, respected and liked by the community he helps to protect from rural crime.

When the two men meet their attraction is instant, but they have no idea their love will draw them into a centuries' old conflict.

Melusine, a deity of rivers and seas,  long ago lost the Battle of the Betrayal and is imprisoned in a nexus centred on the source of the Lynn River. She can only travel in the flowing water of her river, and cannot set foot on her banks. Her cats are not so bound. Neither pets nor familiars, they move freely between the realities, her agents among the humans who live along the Lynn.

When Melusine's enemies come to the valley in search of revenge, Jesse and Will discover they have a part to play in the ancient feud. Do they commit to becoming part of a mythical triad, or leave the valley and forget they ever knew that magic exists?

EXCERPT

Chapter 1

"If you want to be anonymous, don't go and live in a village in the back of beyond. Out there, you'll get nothing but trouble." Sid Levison gazed at the brochure and its picture of the small cottage with whitewashed stone walls, slate roof and neat colourful garden. His disparaging sigh said more than mere words. "Sexton's Cottage, Greenlynn, Devon. Look at it! The potential is horrific! If you really need to get away from it all, rent a flat in an inner city high-rise. You'll have all the peace and quiet you need to write."

"If I wanted that, I'd stay home," Jesse answered, his jaw set in characteristic stubbornness. "Sid, I appreciate your concern and I know you mean well, but for God's sake, get off my back! I'm there for twelve months. Get over it!"

"You won't last twelve weeks. Hell, if you hold out for twelve days it'll be a miracle."

"Cynic."

"Yes, I am. Jess, I've been your friend for ten years, and your agent for six. Country life is not for you. The gossip grapevine will have broadcast your name around the village within a few hours of you signing the bloody lease, along with all the lurid details of your coming out, the brawl and you breaking Harry Crendle's jaw, and now the trial. They won't spare any exaggeration, I promise you. It'll be intolerable, and you'll end up damaging someone else's face."

"No, I won't. I can't, remember? A fine and twelve months' imprisonment suspended for one year. But it was worth it. Harry had it coming. He and his little gang of arse-lickers--they're a bunch of entitled, homophobic shits." He didn't mention John Fulton, the man who'd deceived and outed him by selling their story to the Daily Mail, which had started the whole train of events.

"Yeah, and you're Jesse Bulldozer Adams, the terror of the rugby pitch. Oh, sorry. Correction. The ex-Bulldozer, thanks to the lying scum who backed up the sod's story, not to mention Crendle's dad on the Rhinos' board, his brother the journalist and his uncle the cop."

"You don't have to remind me," Jesse growled. He pinched the bridge of his nose in an effort to push away the tiredness that threatened to wear him down. To be a professional rugby union player had been his life's ambition. It didn't matter that he was county level rather than a candidate for the national squad, playing in the front row for the Warwick Rhinos had been a dream come true. It had lasted for six years.

Back in March, John's tabloid story had given their brief affair a salacious twist, but since his family, his teammates and coaches already knew, it had only made for a few uncomfortable days until the shit hit the fan. No, John hadn't ruined his career. Harry Crendle had done that, with help from Jesse himself. His parents, brother and wider family had been there for him, one hundred percent. Most of the Rhinos had stood by him, had given interviews supporting him and, later, condemning homophobia. But with the court case going against him, plus the covert hostility from certain members of the club's board of directors, the damage was done. The insidious tide of lies and insinuations following the dustup with Harry and his pals meant that Jesse's contract hadn't been renewed at the end of the season. No other club had wanted all the negative publicity that would come with him. So, at twenty-nine, he was effectively benched for the foreseeable future.

It was September now and the new season would be starting soon. Jesse needed to be away from his home, his ex-teammates, everything that would remind him of what had been taken away from him by his own hot-headed stupidity and the maliciousness of others. His expression must have shown his thoughts, because Sid leaned over his desk and patted his arm.

"You'll get your career back," Sid said quietly. "This autobiography of yours will turn things around, I promise you. Just keep up your fitness, don't lose hope, and by this time next year you'll be signed up and playing again."

Writing an autobiography at his age had struck Jesse as plain stupid at first, until Sid had explained it to him. Yes, it was a publicity stunt, but it would serve good, practical purposes as well. He would, of course, state the truth behind his conviction for Grievous Bodily Harm, and that--in Sid's not so humble opinion--would reinstate him in the eyes of rugby clubs across the country as well as the sporting public.

The second benefit was, as a respected and talented sportsman, he wouldn't be writing his life story so much as helping other gay kids come to terms with their sexuality. The third was that some straight people--especially parents--would come to see that to be gay--and by extension, lesbian, bisexual and transgender--was simply another facet of the complex human genome. Nothing to be afraid of, or to be ashamed of, and as outside a person's control as the colour of their skin. Decision made, the next thing he had to overcome was the reluctance to bare his soul in public.

"Yeah," Jesse said, and hoped his smile didn't look as fake as it felt. He folded the brochure and put it back in his pocket. "I'll text you when I get there. Bye, Sid."

"You better. Oh, wait a minute." Sid reached down beside his chair and brought out a large supermarket bag packed full of groceries and wrapped foodstuff. "Julie put together a survival kit for you," he said and held it out. "Food and drink for the journey, and basics you might need in the cottage."

"That's great. Saves me having to go to the local shops when I get there. Thanks, Sid. Give her a hug from me."

"I will. She said you'd probably not have any supplies with you. Y'know, if you weren't gay, I'd be worried about how much my wife likes you."

This time Jesse's smile was unforced and genuine. "Think yourself lucky, then, because if I was straight, you'd never have stood a chance with her."

"In your dreams!" Sid cackled and waved him towards the door. "Go on, hop it. The sooner you get to the depths of darkest Devon, the sooner you'll get In The Ruck finished."

"Okay, okay! I'm going." But before he closed the office door behind him, he paused and glanced over his shoulder. "I still hate the title, by the way. Think of something else. Please."

~ * ~