Thursday, 1 September 2016

THROWBACK THURSDAY - Ghosts, Curses and Psychics...

"I curse you and your children's children, that you shall all live out your allotted years, and that those years shall be filled with grief and loss and betrayal, even as you have betrayed and bereaved me."
But in this case, the caster was vindictive enough to tantalise his victims with a spark of hope. In the best fairytale tradition, if certain conditions were fulfilled, the curse would be broken:
"When the one who reads the earth joins with he who sees beyond, when the warrior and the healer stand to swear a sacred bond, when the one who seeks in danger is sworn to the landless lord, then shall my curse be lifted and all the lands restored."
Some years ago, RJ Scott had an idea for a paranormal trilogy, each story to be written by a different author, and she invited Sue Brown and me to join her in writing The Fitzwarren Inheritance. "We need a curse," she said, and blinked innocently the way she does. I came up with the required malediction and its get-out clause, and those two passages formed the springboard for The Psychic's Tale by Chris Quinton, The Soldier's Tale by RJ Scott, and The Lord's Tale by Sue Brown. Each title is available as a single ebook, and also as a box set, The Fitzwarren Inheritance. All versions are available across the Amazon sites, and from All Romance eBooks.

I sort of fell in love with my two men - Mark Renfrew, closeted psychic and openly gay, and Jack Faulkner, archaeologist. So under the overall label of The Renfrew Files, I've written two standalone stories.


The Carpenter's Tale

It should have been a bit of a break for Mark Renfrew, attending an archaeological conference with his lover, Jack Faulkner. No ghosts, no drama beyond the academic. But it didn't work out that way. The modern Five Star hotel held a dark secret, and Mark knew he had to uncover it before more people were hurt.







The Cameraman's Tale

Mark Renfrew is a researcher for a paranormal reality TV show, but no one involved with the show knows he is the real deal—a genuine psychic. When a cameraman encounters a ghost and needs his help, he has to come out of that particular closet. Along with his archaeologist lover, Jack Faulkner, Mark must find a way to break the ghostly cycle of injury and death on a haunted road, but things don't go according to plan. Mark discovers a new aspect to his psychic talent, and with another ghost to contend with, he is entering dangerous and uncharted waters.



Both titles are available across Amazon as well as ARe

Saturday, 21 May 2016

RAINBOW SNIPPETS - Mat 21-22

For more tantalising snippets from a whole host of authors, see the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group, you won't regret it. There are Snippets to suit every reader.

Life is back to being hectic this weekend, which means my Snip will be posted on auto-pilot, as it were. We're on Chapter Four of Coins Not Accepted, and it’s far more than six sentences, I’m afraid. Apologies, but this is about as far as I have got with this WiP, so I thought I’d leave you with a longer teaser, and move onto another story next time...

"In the meantime we need to get Allan to safety. Somewhere far from here where they won't think to look for him and he can recover from his injuries." His stern gaze fell on Miles. "Take him home with you and keep him hidden."

"What? No, I can't. The twins are in and out of my place like a horde of Visigoths on bungee cords."

"All the more reason for him to be there. Business as usual, my boy; that is all the enemy will see if they should follow or find you."

"Seriously? How do you expect me to explain him?"

"How do you think?" his grandfather replied, exasperation in his voice. "He's your lover, of course."

"Oh, of course. Stupid me," Miles said over Allan's startled, "What?"

"Allan, like you, my grandson is also strange. At least, I assume you are and the rumours I've heard about you have some basis in truth."

"I'm not--" Miles began, affronted. This, from a man who took alternate dimensions in his stride? Then he noticed his patient had a mutinous set to his mouth and his face was even more scarlet, as much in embarrassment as fever.

"Strange is the same as gay," Miles Senior replied  crisply, "and Logrean society is not as accepting as ours. Hence the scandals that have followed Allan around for most of his adult life."

~ * ~

I've also doing Throwback Thursday, featuring a longer excerpt from a novel from my backlist, so if you'd like to read a few more than six lines of my fiction, check the excerpt from DARK WATERS in the previous post.





Thursday, 19 May 2016

THROWBACK THURSDAY - DARK WATERS

Today’s Throwback is a shifter tale with a difference, more traditional in some ways. It's set in an historical, semi-mythical Scotland where the Elder gods haven't quite left the lands.


Dark Waters

Available at Amazon HERE
All Romance eBooks HERE
Smashwords HERE 

~ * ~

Flein is a wanderer by instinct and need, roaming the known world as the fancy takes him. In the Highland village of Glenfinnan, women have been raped and brutally murdered.  By all accounts, the killer is a waterhorse, a monstrous shapeshifter. But when Flein meets Donnchadh, first in its equine form, then its man-shape, he knows the waterhorse is innocent. Flein is drawn to the shapeshifter, but he finds it difficult to acknowledge it's more than a monster.


Donnchadh, though wary, shares the same attraction. They join forces to hunt for the real murderer, but time is short.  They must find the killer before more women die. Then suspicion is turned on them and the hunters become the hunted.

Excerpt


At the water's edge stood a horse. A riderless horse. It wore neither saddle nor bridle and the glossy brown hide gleamed in the May sun. The mane and tail were long, very black and by the look of the wind-tangles in them, had never known a grooming. The heavy stallion neck swooped down to join strong shoulders, and arched ribs led on to powerful haunches. Long black legs and rounded hooves completed the picture of what to Flein seemed the perfect horse. Sharp ears were angled toward him, deep dark eyes were fixed on him and the fine head was held high, nostrils flaring.

Flein Traveler smiled, his eyes narrowed and watchful. He knew danger when he saw it.

"Gods, but you're magnificent," he said quietly. "I know you. I don't know who you are but I know what you are." Flein had long ago learned all he could about shapeshifting predators. Loki was such a one and far more lethal than this creature. The horse gave a deep-throated grunt that was almost a snarl and took a pace toward him, its ears flattened against its skull, long neck snaking forward. "Waterhorse." He had an instant of warning as the muscles bunched and he hurled himself away from the stallion's charge. Fast as he was, the narrow head whipped round and carnivore fangs clashed a scant hairsbreadth from his shoulder. Laughing, Flein put the slender grace of his rowan tree between himself and the creature. "If I'd known this land had such wonders I'd have come here sooner."

It might have been his laughter or his lack of fear, or perhaps it sensed the difference in him that came from his sire, but the stallion stopped and its ears flicked forward. He was being studied, assessed by a keen mind.

"So, I'm something new, am I?" Flein drawled softly. "I've not met the likes of you before, either. I can see how you'd entice someone onto your back. You're the finest beast I've seen in many a year, but you won't be chewing on my bones, nag."

The ears twitched and it came toward him, pacing slowly. He was not deceived. He'd already seen it could move with the speed of a striking snake for all its size. Reluctantly, Flein drew his sword and the waterhorse paused.

"I don't want to hurt you," he said. "Go back to your loch and leave me alone." He stepped out from his shelter, blade held ready. "I've a long journey ahead of me and I'd sooner not fight you."

Again the ears flicked forward. The gesture was purely equine but the growing curiosity in the steady gaze was not.

"Go back." He moved closer and stopped with his sword point only a few feet from the broad chest. It was more than a little risky and it put him perilously close to those murderous hooves and teeth, but it also enabled him to see more clearly the intelligence in the beast's eyes. "Don't you know an iron sword will kill you?" he snapped. "And you, my splendid fool, would find it hard to kill me."

The waterhorse wrinkled its upper lip, scenting him. As a sneer, it was monumental. It came forward until the point of the sword was almost touching it and Flein smelled the lightness of clover, as if it had rolled in a meadow. If it feared the touch of the forged metal, Flein could see no sign of it. The dark eyes were challenging him now, daring him to chance his speed against its swiftness for the first strike and Flein laughed again. "Shall we call it a draw between us, then?" he suggested. "We go our separate ways and agree not to harm each other?" It would be so easy just to grab a handful of mane and swing up onto that sleek back—Flein got hold of the impulse and smothered it, easing back a pace. At the same time the waterhorse retreated a short way.

They matched each other step for step, until Flein was on the road and the stallion hock-deep in the loch. Then the each-uisge turned and plunged into deeper water, sending up twin wings of spray. Feeling oddly disappointed, Flein called his horse to him and soothed its sweaty fear. He took off the hobbles, tightened the girth, mounted and started on his way.


Saturday, 14 May 2016

RAINBOW SNIPPET - May 14-15

For more tantalising snippets from a whole host of authors, see the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group, you won't regret it. There are Snippets to suit every reader.

Life is a little less hectic this weekend, so I should be able to manage my Snip a lot better. We're still on Chapter Three of Coins Not Accepted: Gramps performs the introductions...

"Good. No one knows Miles is here, either, so..." He paused thoughtfully. "Hm. Proper introductions are in order, I think, then I'll open the emergency link. I present my grandson, Miles Westerman Carter." He gave Allan a semi-formal bow. "Miles, this is Prince Allan, youngest child of the Wyvern Throne." Yes, he definitely didn't approve of this uninvited guest.

"The in disgrace youngest child," Allan said, his voice light. "Also known as Allan Landless."

"Good grief." Miles sighed and shook his head. "This is Alice Through The Looking-Glass insane."

~ * ~

I've also doing Throwback Thursday, featuring a longer excerpt from a novel from my backlist, so if you'd like to read a few more than six lines of my fiction, check the excerpt from STARFALL in the previous post below.




Thursday, 12 May 2016

THROWBACK THURSDAY - STARFALL

Over the years - and I mean decades of original fic and fanfic - I've written in a mix of genres; paranormal, contemporary, mystery, historical, romance, fantasy, and science-fiction. But among my list of published works, there is only one SF [so far]. So if a story of an alien on our planet, trying to stay unnoticed and find his sister, sounds interesting, give STARFALL a try.

BLURB:
Ash is looking for his sister. He refuses to accept she's dead and he's come halfway across the galaxy to the lakes of Vermont in search of her.

Faye and Conn are on the trail of an underage runaway who has no intention of going back to Florida with them.

They all meet up in Amassol, Vermont. When Ash and Conn encounter each other, the attraction is immediate and almost overwhelming.  It's also impossible. Ash's mission and Conn's assignment, as well as rival street gangs, make sure of that.

EXCERPT:
Quincy's Roadhouse & Grill squatted on the western edge of the town, on the other side of the wide High Verde River. Just upstream from the modern bridge a long, smoothly curved outcrop of rock jutted from the water. It looked like the back of a prehistoric creature or an overturned boat. The Roadhouse, a solid-looking two-story place with a poorly surfaced parking lot surrounding it, had a deep covered porch the length of its front. On the apex of the roof sat a neon sign that glowed with only a slight intermittent flicker. The rough and ready agelessness of the Roadhouse hinted at drovers, loggers, quarrymen, and prohibition. Now it seemed an anachronism.

Conn pulled in and stopped well away from the dozen or so vehicles already parked, and they climbed out. The heat hit like a wall of wet feathers.

There were maybe twenty people in the thankfully air-conditioned room, and none of them looked like tourists. Conn was expecting the swift checkout he received when he followed Faye inside, and he kept his expression bland as he did some surreptitious checking of his own.
What he did not expect was the peculiar jolt behind his eyes as his gaze swept over the attractive barkeep and the man leaning against the bar talking to her. It came as a soundless click, as if something that had been out of alignment had just snicked into place. Not painful, and gone as soon as he'd registered it, but definitely not his imagination messing with his head.

Conn was too good at his job to show any reaction. Without a pause he strolled to the bar and ordered a couple of beers, giving the woman behind the bar a friendly smile. The man had turned away slightly so that his back was toward Conn, but every detail of the pair was already filed away in his mind. The woman was about five-six and in her forties, older than he'd initially thought, and on the plump side. She had long dark hair worn in a trailing tangle of ringlets, and her makeup was a little too garish for the sunlight struggling through the windows. Her scarlet shirt was tied off under her impressive breasts, and her painted-on jeans hung low on well-padded hips. A Chinese dragon tattoo snaked around her waist, its head and tail meeting at the crimson rose surrounding her navel. The heart of the vivid flower was a navel-piercing, a ruby-colored crystal that glittered when she moved.

The man's skin had a red-brown tint that suggested a varied racial heritage, and his hair was mostly a rich burgundy that never occurred in nature. That color and the streaks of copper and pale blond must have cost a packet in a salon. It fell over his forehead in heavy waves and curled on the collar of his shabby denim jacket. He wore shades and, incongruously, gloves that drew attention to his hands. Both pinkie fingers seemed to be unusually thickened inside the supple leather. He was maybe in his late twenties, six feet tall, and lean, his shoulders tapering to narrow hips. His jeans were faded, baggy and shapeless, as if he'd bought them from a thrift shop, but somehow managed to be stylish. Conn had gotten a brief glimpse of a high cheekboned, unsmiling face and lips pressed to a thin line that might have been anger, and he wondered briefly what the woman had said or done to irritate the guy. Who seemed familiar. But Conn's usually infallible memory let him down in this instance. Or maybe it was the tension in the man, that coiled-spring alertness beneath the casual surface that struck a chord.
He carried the beers over to the table in the corner and slouched beside Faye.

"The guy at the bar," he said quietly. "The redhead. Do you know him?"

"No," she answered. "Pretty, though."

Conn snorted. "So's a mountain lion, but you wouldn't want to get up close and personal." And he wondered where the conviction that the man was dangerous had come from.

"Speak for yourself." Faye snickered. "Or is the scarlet Amazon behind the bar more your type?" Then she became serious. "Why? Do you know him?"

"Just looks familiar, like I've seen him around somewhere, or maybe in a photo in a file."

* * * *

"What's suddenly bitten your ass?" Rose demanded, thumping another beer in front of him. Ash shrugged.

"Just remembered something I was supposed to do," he lied. He could feel the man's presence scratching at the edges of his awareness, and indisputably there. No, that was impossible. He was imagining it. For a moment Ash lost track of what Rose was saying. Of course it was his imagination. This wasn't a Fourth Consortium planet. It was a Class One Prohibited World, poised on the edge of space-flight and with no knowledge at all of the species and politics that lay beyond their solar system. There was no way he would be drawn in—not for casual sex and never by the deep-in-the-gut awareness of a true connection.

Rose's knuckles tapping none too lightly on his forehead brought him back with a jolt.

"Earth to Ash," she drawled, amused. "For the second time I'm asking, Angi isn't here yet. Is she going to be late tonight?"

"Uh, probably. She's gone to the discount warehouse in Montpelier with Emma. The Lodge was running out of basics ahead of schedule, she said. I told your dad at lunchtime," he added.

Rose scowled. "Oh, great. So of course the drunken bum forgot to tell me. Fuck!" She made an obvious attempt to sweeten her expression. "Hey, want to earn a few extra bucks? I booked the Raiders for tonight and it's gonna be busy. They're a popular band around here."

"Behind the bar or bouncing?"

"How about both? Not that I'm expecting trouble, but you never know these days."

"Okay." Ash glanced at his watch. He wouldn't be able to search another segment of the lake that night, but he could do with the extra cash. "I have to finish up at the Lodge first. Nine o'clock?"

"Great. The band should be setting up then. Be here by eight-thirty and I'll throw in a burger on the house before you start. Dad's promised to be sober this evening."

"Deal." He smiled and drained his beer in long swallows. Being a carbon-based life form on a planet that shared the same fundamental chemistry as his own species had its advantages. There wasn't much in the way of food and drink he had to avoid.

Ash took another quick look at the couple in the corner on his way to the door. The woman was watching him with unhidden interest. He knew most of the people he'd met here thought of him as handsome—and that had taken some getting used to, after years of his family and friends teasing him about his height, his heavy-set body, and coarse features. Then her companion looked up and for the first time since he'd landed on this planet, Ash's shades provided no barrier. The man locked eyes with him and Ash swore under his breath. A slow fire began in his blood. Yes, there was no possibility he was imagining it. He had never experienced the sensation before but it was hard-wired into his psyche. Every Vyan knew what to expect when they met their true-bond. The connection was real and unless he was very careful, it would only strengthen from now on. At least, it would as far as he, Ash, was concerned. What the Douryan felt—if anything—was another matter entirely. Either way, it meant he was effectively shafted.

available from All Romance eBooks HERE 




Saturday, 7 May 2016

RAINBOW SNIPPETS - May 7-8

For more tantalising snippets from a whole host of authors, see the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group, you won't regret it. There are Snippets to suit every reader.

We're still on Chapter Three of Coins Not Accepted:

"Okay, then it's time you showed - " A scream from the kitchen interrupted him, and he shot to his feet. At the same time his grandfather pushed himself up from his chair. "Stay here," Miles instructed, and raced out of the study. Another scream rang out, underscored by the crash of breaking crockery. He threw open the kitchen door to see Dora pressed against the fridge, a large frying pan in one hand, a carving knife in the other. A man's body lay sprawled face down on the flagstone floor in a widening pool of blood.  

~ * ~

I've also started doing Throwback Thursday, featuring a longer excerpt from a novel from my backlist, so if you'd like to read a few more than six lines of my fiction, check the excerpt from Finders, Keepers in Thursday's post.



Thursday, 5 May 2016

THROWBACK THURSDAY - FINDERS, KEEPERS

Nighthawk - such an evocative name, implying mystery, romance maybe, and with a hint of danger. Could be a superhero, or supervillain. Wrong on all counts. Nighthawks are the scavengers of the metal detectorists' community. While their ethical cousins perform useful work in tandem with archaeologists on regulated sites, or browse paths and shorelines, or certain fields with legitimate arrangements with landowners, nighthawks pillage sites, ripping out the marketable goodies without any regard to the irreplaceable information they destroy in the process.

Okay, I'll climb off my soapbox now...

The idea for the crime arc of this story happened a long time ago, when a beautiful medieval reliquary pendant was discovered by a metal detectorist right on the doorstep of Middleham Castle up in Yorkshire. This was the favoured home of Richard III, and to find such a rich jewel so close to one of the country's most famous castles led to all kinds of speculation in the press and certain historical societies. Was this lost by Richard himself? By his wife, Ann?

It would be nice to imagine it was, but that wasn't what sparked my imagination.
 
Now, I'm not saying for a moment that there was anything at all hinky about that find. Luck and local knowledge plays a huge part in the metal detectoring/treasure hunting circles. Yet that, and other amazing discoveries by detectorists since then, set my writerly [and I'll admit, cynical] brain cell working.

You know, the usual author's trigger of "What if..." has a lot to answer for. When I first had the idea about an on-the-edge-of-burn-out retrieval agent having to seduce a man so he could be undercover at a crime scene, a detectorists' scam immediately jumped up and waved flags...

Finders, Keepers Blurb

Coming off a high-pressure undercover job for his company's covert Retrievals Department, and despite being on the edge of burnout, Jeff is thrown straight into another mission: set a trap for illegal metal detectorists who'll be planting a priceless reliquary in a field.

To be in the right place at the right time, Jeff seduces Alan, son of the farmer who may or may not be in on the million-dollar scam. The job should be straightforward, easy, and it is—except that Jeff’s usual guard is down, and he finds himself falling for Alan. Still trying to shake off an obsessive ex-lover Alan doesn't want commitment, just a no-strings, friends with benefits relationship. But events have a way of changing minds. 

Excerpt

Luck was on Jeff's side. He located his target at the Boat House, the first midtown coffee house and bar he checked at the end of his first day in the office. Despite its name, the place had no connection to the riverside wharfs downtown other than the pictures on its walls. Jeff paused just inside the door to remove his dark blue tie and undo the top two buttons of his cream shirt, and have a surreptitious look around as he did so. Alan Fletcher was sitting at the bar. The series of photos in the man's dossier made him impossible to miss, even when seen from behind. So did his height and untidy mess of copper-red hair badly in need of restyling. All Jeff had to do now was engineer a successful hookup.

The Boat House, conveniently situated five minutes’ walk away from the office and his apartment, hadn't changed much in eight years. The decor was still Victorian municipal green and cream tiles, gleaming brass fittings, and sepia-tinted pictures of wharfs, locks, and canal boats decorated the walls. The clientele remained the upwardly mobile types out to unwind and socialize after a hard day. Singles, too, discreetly looking to connect with the opposite sex. Or the same sex, Jeff observed. By the look of it, the House was an equal opportunities kind of place these days. He threaded his way between the crowded tables and fake-leather easy chairs to the bar, and eased himself into the narrow gap between a tall girl having an intense conversation with a bemused-looking man in a green polo shirt, and his target.

Alan had his back to Jeff and was chatting to an older couple. The woman was African-American, of average height, plump, her strong features good-natured and pleasing rather than pretty, and framed by neat black cornrows. The man was solid with muscle and built foursquare like a brick outhouse, his brown hair thinning and shot with gray. The three of them were comfortable together, in the way of friends and/or work colleagues.

Jeff leaned both elbows on the mahogany surface and relaxed with a long sigh of relief. It was genuine. He felt tired, jaded, and some of it showed.

"Hard day?" the bartender asked with a sympathetic smile.

"Yeah. Just got transferred in from the Manhattan branch. New office, new regime. You know how it goes." He ordered a beer then picked idly at the pretzels in the dish off to his left and just within his reach. He didn't move it closer.

The first swallow of beer slid down Jeff's throat like a cold blessing, and he sighed again. The woman on his right was becoming indignant, the pitch of her voice enough to engrave designs on glass, and he tuned her out with difficulty. To his left, the discussion was a lot more good-natured: an obviously long-standing friendly feud over the merits of football, soccer, and rugby. Alan had an unmistakable English accent and a pleasant, easy on the ear baritone. His laughter, when it came, was the contagious kind that brought a smile to the faces of anyone within hearing. Jeff schooled his expression to a staring-into-space vagueness and did not react.

The argumentative woman finally stormed off, followed more sedately by Alan's friends. Jeff had purposely sat close to him, and when the Englishman shifted to face the bar, he jostled Jeff's elbow. Jeff, who had timed his moment to take a handful of pretzels, let them spill.

"Damn, I'm sorry!" Alan exclaimed, turning quickly.

"It's okay." Jeff brushed a few straying crumbs from his pants. "It is kind of crowded in here." He looked up to meet Alan's hazel eyes and saw the pupils expand in the so-useful giveaway. He knew what the man saw: sable hair, deep-set blue eyes in the hawk-like Italian features he inherited from Grandma Lucreza. A young but dangerous face now he wasn't being Borya: a Mafia hitman masquerading as a male model, back in the day when male models didn't look like they'd blow away in a high wind. "Hey, you're a long way from home. British, right?"

"Yes and no." Alan's smile was engaging. "Mum was American, but I grew up in the UK. Alan Fletcher."

"Jeff," he replied with a full wattage answering smile that was all his own and had nothing to do with his last persona. Alan blinked. Target acquired, Jeff thought.


Available from Amazon 
And in paperback from Amazon

Saturday, 30 April 2016

RAINBOW SNIPPETS - April 30 - May 1st

For more tantalising snippets from a whole host of authors, see the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group, you won't regret it. There are Snippets to suit every reader.

We've progressed to Chapter Three of Coins Not Accepted, and apologies - this is a little more than six sentences: Miles' grandfather has started to explain what's going on...

"Gramps," Miles said carefully, unable to stay silent any longer, "you do realise all this sounds completely bonkers, right?"

"Oh, yes." His smile was a wry twist. "Your mother made that perfectly clear. Yet it is easily proved. I have only to take you to the ford. It isn't water, you understand, but flows of energy that can be interrupted briefly from the Exchange to allow people to cross. Logres, and the other countries allied with the Wyvern throne, are in a parallel dimension. They have developed a little differently to society on this plane, ahead in some things, behind us in others. Some key elements in Britain's history didn't have the same outcome."

"Okay." Parallel dimensions. Of course, why didn't I think of that... Miles managed not to roll his eyes.

~ * ~

I've also started doing Throwback Thursday, featuring a longer excerpt from a novel from my backlist, so if you'd like to read a few more than six lines of my fiction, check the post for April 28th.




AUTISM ISN'T A NEW THING...RJ's Five Senses Blog Tour


AUTISM FACT: Most people think of there being five senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell – but there are actually seven – the final two are balance ('vestibular') and body awareness ('proprioception'). People with an ASD can be over-sensitive ('hypersensitive') or under-sensitive (‘hyposensitive') in any or all of these senses.

~ * ~

Our senses define everything about where we are in life and how we relate to it all. Even when some might say the signals they send to us are a little bit scrambled, each one of us makes it work out.
Take Synaesthesia  for instance.
Synaesthesia is a fascinating condition, and has many variables. At least ten forms are known, the most common being Chromesthesia where a sound is perceived as a colour, and Grapheme-Colour Synaesthesia where numbers and each letter of the alphabet are seen as a colour.  
The human brain is a pretty amazing computer, and even when faced with tangled signals, it manages to make its own kind of sense of the information. So much so that a lot of Synaesthetes don't see their condition as an affliction, but a gift that can enhance their lives. Nor is Synaesthesia a modern phenomenon. A while ago, I saw an article about the great Vincent Van Gogh, showing that it was highly probable that he was a Synaesthete in the

Chromesthesia category. He sent a letter to his brother Theo, and in it, the way he describes seeing colours as sounds in such a matter-of-fact way, clearly shows he was comfortable with the phenomenon:

[The italics are mine]: "Some time ago you rightly said that every colourist has his own characteristic scale of colours. This is also the case with Black and White (sic), it is the same after all — one must be able to go from the highest light to the deepest shadow, and this with only a few simple ingredients. Some artists have a nervous hand at drawing, which gives their technique something of the sound peculiar to a violin, for instance, Lemud, Daumier, Lançon — others, for example, Gavarni and Bodmer, remind one more of piano playing. Do you feel this too? Millet is perhaps a stately organ." 
I haven't discovered Theo's reply, and I have to wonder if he had the same wiring in his brain...

In Aloes, my main character, Perry, is a Synaesthete. Unlike Vincent and others, he developed Synaesthesia after a freak accident. His is a version of the more rare Lexical-Gustatory Synaesthesia, but with a paranormal twist. Normally, Synaesthetes with that form experience a particular word as a taste or a smell. In Perry's case, he can taste the intent behind the word, whether it is a lie or a truth.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win an ebook from my back-list HERE - I'll make the draw on May 10th



Thursday, 28 April 2016

THROWBACK THURSDAY - PARADOX

Definition from Webster’s:PARADOX: A tenet or proposition contrary to received opinion; an assertion or sentiment seemingly contradictory, or opposed to common sense; that which in appearance or terms is absurd, but yet may be true in fact.

Today on Throwback Thursday, I'm focusing on my mystery romance, Paradox. The story takes placer in the present day, and in Roman Britain during its heyday. The cover is from a photo I took of a Roman mosaic in a Roman townhouse in Rabat, Malta, though Malta doesn't appear in the story at all.

Blurb: Phil is trapped in a coma, and he's sharing a parallel life. Centuries ago, someone is trying to kill Caius Marcellus Niger - Phil must find out who and why. But he’s alone, and nothing is the way it seems.

Excerpt: Phil was a fast and skilful driver, and the Peugeot streaked along the unfamiliar country roads at a calculated, reckless pace. Leaden clouds swept across the sky, reducing visibility to a near-dusk level, occasionally lessened even more by skeins of mist in the river valleys. But it didn't slow him down.

Fortunately for Phil, the roads were deserted, and a swift glance at the dashboard clock told him he was making pretty good time, considering. Then the forecasted rain arrived, and the first few heavy drops splattered on the windscreen. Within minutes the full force of the deluge struck, complete with thunder and lightning, and he had to ease up on the accelerator.

Thankfully the storm didn't last long, but it left the road awash with more water than the drains could cope with. A long, straight stretch opened up in front of him, and Phil increased his speed. The M4 was behind him now, and turning east would point him towards Chippenham. From there he'd soon be back on the motorway with the blockage well behind him. If he was lucky.

Then his luck ran thin. Suddenly the car was drifting, aquaplaning, and there was little he could do except go with it and pray his wheels would bite before—his nearside hit the high verge, flipped the car into a screeching, sliding roll across the tarmac. It slammed onto its wheels, hurtling sideways and down into thick undergrowth beyond the road. The Peugeot finally came to rest beneath an oak tree, the driver's door jammed against the trunk, tail and rear wheels in a stream, and its nose on a level with the bush-lined crest of the bank.

Phil blinked his eyes open. It wasn't easy; his lashes were glued together. But he couldn't see much for his efforts. He had an impression of something very close to his face, and he seemed to be lying on his back—he started to move, and pain exploded through him. The choked cry of agony rang in his head as if it came from someone else. Surely he couldn't have pushed it past the clenching talons closed around his body.
He lay still, panting in shallow gasps, and struggled to retain both consciousness and memory. Aquaplaning—rolling impact—the pain gradually receded to a bearable level, leaving him reasonably clear-headed. Coherent enough to take stock of his situation, at least.

It hurt, but he could move arms and lower legs, if only to a limited extent. Nor did he get that sharp, splintering pain when he drew a careful deeper breath, just its lesser cousin. Bruises and strains, he decided. He couldn't raise his left arm above shoulder-level, but his right was mobile, and he investigated the throbbing areas on his head. Several lumps were swelling under his hair, and a cut on his forehead had provided enough blood to coat eyes and face. His movements dislodged beads of glass from the shattered screen, and they fell about him, rattling on exposed metal. It reminded him belatedly of fire risk, then he realised that if the car was going to go up in flames, it would have done it at the time of the crash. Whenever that was.

His physical state assessed as best he could, Phil attempted to extricate himself. The roof had twisted and depressed to scant inches above his face, the steering wheel leaned against his chest, the airbag a deflated rag. The dashboard had come down to dig into his thighs. One foot was trapped between brake and accelerator pedal.

The conviction began to grow in him that he wasn't going to be able to get himself out. It spurred him to fresh efforts. Ill-judged efforts, for the pain suddenly flared to new heights. He could neither cry out nor breathe, and unconsciousness crashed over him like a falling wall.


Awareness returned slowly, and for a while Phil lay still, relishing the comfort of the bed. He felt heavy, lethargic, oddly detached from himself; a familiar experience. He'd regained consciousness in enough hospital recovery rooms to recognise drug-induced and painless ease. He drowsed, half-listening to the muted sounds of bustle beyond his room, too lazy to even think of opening his eyes. Time enough for that when discomfort made rest impossible. Sleep and relaxation were the best healers.

Somewhere nearby children's voices were raised in sudden altercation, to be abruptly hushed by an adult's hissing whisper. Phil smiled to himself. His young sisters, Camilla and Aurelia, were still quarrelling over that damned puppy.

Camilla? Aurelia? He didn't have any sisters.

Phil opened his eyes to an ochre ceiling bordered in geometric designs in terracotta red, sombre in the dimness of the room. He blinked at it. A little avant garde for your usual hospital, he decided, and he wasn't sure if he liked it. Either way, it was enough to distract him from the unfamiliar names in his head, and he tried to sit up.

He failed. Bandages swathed his chest, his left arm was heavily wrapped, and so were his right ankle and foot. His head also sported fabric bands, but the discoveries paled to insignificance as he took in the rest of the room's decor. The walls were painted, and not in silk emulsion. Despite the gloom, bright earth-colours glowed in frescoes designed to look as if he gazed out of colonnades onto different scenes more Mediterranean than English. Nymphs, voluptuous to the point of being overweight, tripped with ponderous grace among glades of trees. Improbable sea-beasts poised coyly in a wash of waves while a plump and smirking Venus rose from detergent foam, draperies strategically clutched about her. Against a background of stylised hills, two hounds held a stag at bay, while in another, formal gardens and vineyards were laid out under a blue and cloudless sky.

The claustrophobic effect was immediate, and it took a while for Phil to realise the carved wooden panels separating the five different vistas along one long wall were two sets of shutters and a double door. Another door was opposite, sandwiched between nymphs and stag, and about the room were some carved chests, a large plain table, and a couple of basket chairs. A litter of earthenware cups, many small glass jars and pots, and a good-sized jug sat on the table. A low pile of folded cloths lay beside them, and the still air was heavy with the scent of herbs.

The ceiling and walls were devoid of electric light fittings.

Phil pushed himself to an awkward sitting position, the alarm bells in his head cutting through the fog of whatever drug had been administered. He lifted away the sheet covering him. But for the bandages he was naked, and there was no sign anywhere of clothes, watch, shoes—his gun. On- or off-duty, the snub-nosed semi-automatic went with him, and he wanted it within reach now. This was no hospital that he'd ever seen.

He set his sights on the nearest chest and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. It was much lower than he expected, and it took a lot of effort to get to his feet. His balance was precarious, his vision began to blur out of focus, but he lurched painfully towards his goal.

He didn't hear the door open, just hurrying footsteps and a rush of incomprehensible words. He spun as hands caught at him, tried to swing a punch, but coordination was gone. Instead he clutched a fistful of clothing for support, was wrapped in a strong embrace and half-carried back to the bed.

Thankfully, Phil leaned his weight on Demetrius's shoulder and let himself be settled on the pillows.

Demetrius?

Who the hell is Demetrius?

He struggled to focus on the features bent over him, got an impression of a concerned young face topped by neat chestnut brown hair, then fog closed in around him and he slipped out of consciousness.

~ * ~


This second edition is self-published under my own Kouros Books imprint

Saturday, 23 April 2016

RAINBOW SNIPPETS - April 23-24

For more tantalising snippets from a whole host of authors, see the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group, you won't regret it. There are Snippets to suit every reader.

Time needs to slow down - the week speeds by far too fast! Here we are again, with six more sentences from Chapter Two of Coins Not Accepted: Miles has travelled to East Harptree and meets his grandfather...

The last time Miles had seen the old man, he'd been a tall wide shouldered man of military bearing, his strong, distinguished features crowned by a tidy mane of thick iron grey hair. The man who rose from the wingback chair and came to meet him seemed a frail caricature. His now-white hair was still thick but he stooped a little to one side as if he should be walking with a cane. His shabby-smart tweed jacket and gabardine slacks hung on his gaunt frame, and he looked every one of his eighty-four years. His eyes, the same startling blue as the twins and Miles' own, were a little too bright with moisture.

"My dear boy," he said quietly. "I am so pleased to see you at last."

~ * ~

In other news, I've also started doing a Throwback Thursday thing, featuring an excerpt from a novel from my back-list, so if you'd like to read a few more than six lines of my fiction, check the post here for a bit of Sea Change....


Thursday, 21 April 2016

THROWBACK THURSDAY - SEA CHANGE

For the next however many weeks, I'm going to showcase my earlier books, starting with an excerpt from SEA CHANGE.

If you like slow burn friends to lovers, this could be the one for you. It's set on O'ahu in the Hawaiian Islands, and features a Brit veterinarian and a retired American Coast Guard, their friends, and various critters around a wildlife rescue charity...



Blurb:

Injured on duty and no longer fit for active service, soon-to-be-ex-Coast Guard Bran Kaulana is drifting, filling his days helping out at the Wai Ola Rescue Center, one of Honolulu's wildlife charities. He's working with the new veterinary, Steve Lucas, a man drawn to O'ahu by his fascination with dolphins.

As their friendship slowly deepens, the two men are caught up in the mystery of injured seals and dolphins, a ruthless gang of smugglers and a not so dormant undersea lava vent.

Excerpt:

With a plate of pork from the kalua pig, leaf-wrapped bundles of steamed chicken and of fish, small mounds of poi and thin-sliced sweet potato, Steve retreated to the far side of the now blazing fire pit and sat cross-legged on the sand. This was the third Sea View-Wai Ola luau he had attended, and he wouldn't willingly give up the chance to be on this private beach with the people who had so quickly become close friends. His first had been the one thrown to welcome him the night before his first working day, a somewhat mind-blowing experience. Somehow he'd had the time of his life and managed to remain sober enough not to be hung over the following morning.

What one Harry Lucas would have made of it, he couldn't begin to guess. He had a stormy relationship with his father at the best of times. Every so often it had escalated into outright verbal conflict, and as usual, those clashes were caused by Steve's inability to stay long enough in one place to build any kind of a career.

Eight years ago Steve had graduated from Nottingham University with his degree, and started work in his father's veterinary practice. After less than two years he'd applied for and got an interview for the job in Bradenton, Florida, and left England behind him. Harry hadn't spoken to him for nearly a year. That rift healed eventually, thanks to his mother's skillful diplomacy, only to be reopened when he took the Miami post. That, too, had been smoothed over with time and distance, until the Sea View advert caught Steve's attention.

To leave the prestigious Marine Research Institute for a veterinary practice in a city, even if the city was the state capital of the Hawaiian Islands, was the height of lunacy as far as his father was concerned. It was merely a replay of Steve's previous fickleness. Immature pie-in-the-sky posturing, was only part of his loud denunciation when Steve had phoned to tell them. Heated words had been spoken on both sides of the Atlantic and the result was no more phone calls, and no Christmas trip home last year. He'd kept in contact with his mother, brother and sister via letters and emails, and told himself the break with his father did not hurt.

Over the last six months Helen Lucas had worked to form a truce of sorts between her pigheaded husband and equally stubborn youngest son, and had come a long way towards success. Steve's letters had helped. They had started out as short, curt notes, and rapidly escalated to pages of small details, long descriptions of the island and tales about his work and his friends. They'd also had the ongoing sagas of the more eccentric patrons of the Clinic and the Rescue Center.
Steve found he was laughing, and that Bran was approaching with a couple of cans and a quizzical expression.

"Share the joke?" Bran asked, offering one of the cans and folding long legs to sit beside him.

"Thanks," Steve said. "You're a mind-reader. No joke exactly, just imagining my Dad here. The next time I write I'm going to invite the family for a visit and not stop nagging until they agree." Over the months he'd emailed photos as well, pictures of work colleagues and friends, breath-taking scenery, and a couple of himself, looking sun-bronzed and fit, even if he said so himself. "Alan, Vickie and Mum would come like a shot, but getting Dad out of the country would be like trying to move the Statue of Liberty with one hand tied behind your back. But he needs to experience this. I don't know whether he'd let his hair down and join in, or pin Ken in a corner and talk comparative veterinarian practices at him."

"Or both?" Bran suggested, a smile growing. A smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. Although he put on a cheerful face there was always an aura of sadness about him. Steve knew that Bran had lost his lover in a horrific accident scarcely a year ago, and how their friends could think Bran was ready to move on so soon was beyond Steve's comprehension.

"That's distinctly possible," Steve said. "It doesn't do to make assumptions, after all. For instance, when Connie told me about the Coast Guard officer who would use his pickup or boat as a taxi service whenever the Center needed it, and would be doing odd jobs around the place while he recovered from an injury, I had a picture in my head of a gnarled old sea-salt with tattoos, white hair and beard. And possibly a parrot."

No matter that Bran had that shadow of sorrow about him, his laugh came easily enough. "I've got the tattoos," he said. "Maybe I'll think about the beard sometime and the white will come soon enough. But a parrot? Give me a break. Didn't that African Grey nearly take your finger off last week?"

"He did, the mangy sod." Steve eyed him critically. "No," he said. "Can't see the beard somehow. White hair, maybe. But not the beard." He remembered the tattoos, hidden now under Bran's shirt. There was a complicated tribal design over the muscled curve of his right upper arm and shoulder, a stylized dolphin shape almost hidden in the heavy black pattern. Another abstract of dark angles and curves stretched across his shoulder blades. That, too, was a dolphin, though to Steve it had looked more like a shark. The first time he'd seen them was two months ago. Bran was working shirtless in the sun, trimming back a rampant moonflower vine, and his coppery skin was glossy with sweat. Heat had started to curl low in Steve's belly, reminding him that once he had not been quite as hetero as he was these days, and he had to smother an inappropriate impulse to trace the maze of black lines on Bran's flesh with his fingertips. Or his tongue. "How about an eye patch?" Steve said quickly. "You'll look like a pirate. Talking of pirates, I hear you've upgraded the Nautilus."