Title: Into theTeam
Author: Rob Damon
Publisher: CoolDudes Publishing
Genre: New Adult Romance
Length: 216 Pages
Available from: Amazon US ~ CoolDudes Publishing ~ Amazon UK


To honor his father, young footballer Todd Mackerson commits to his goal of playing for a professional team. When, at the age of 20, he is offered a place to train with one of England’s biggest clubs, he leaves home convinced his dream is within reach.

Being warned by his new team mates of the tough rules and hard training routines, Todd is undeterred. But when he discovers that the player’s way of bonding borders on the sexual, and that he must learn to accept the erotic affections that connect the team together, he wonders how far he can go for his dream.

But, after experiencing the care and attention men can give to each other, Todd feels awakened. Learning that each player has a special “partner” on the team, who they play and bond with as intimately as lovers, Todd becomes fascinated with the idea.

And when he develops feelings for one player in particular, he discovers how a stronger kind of romance – that between two men – can be pure and powerful enough to bring magic and success on the pitch.

Explicit Excerpt: Continue Reading »

Elin Gregory:

Heartfelt thanks to all attendees. PLEASE sign up to the newsletter if you’re interested in the event because that’s where all the best and most exciting info will be. <3

Originally posted on Clare London, Author:

UKmeetBanner_blank1Just a few words to finish off, before we get into UK Meet 2016.

Thank you

Thanks to everyone who stuffed bags, helped on the desk, did panels, said hello to newbies and made them welcome and generally made the weekend go smoothly. What a fantastic atmosphere you created; we couldn’t do this without any of you. Also, a heartfelt “well done” to all who bought raffle tickets – we raised £494 for Albert Kennedy Trust.

Thinking ahead

We’re collating all your feedback on the world’s biggest spreadsheet; that really clarifies what we need to tinker with. We’re aware we need to revisit quality control for panels to ensure they’re all up to the standard you expect and we’ll need to do a bit of work about better embedding our event values, but all of this is eminently doable.

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comfy chairToday my guest is Pat Henshaw, a new to me author so I think the best thing I can do is hand straight over to Pat :D


Hi, I’m Pat Henshaw, writing to you from Northern California, where my Foothills Pride novella series is set. I’m a retired English composition instructor who’s had a lot of interesting jobs during my life, including reference librarian at a number of libraries, promotions person for a PBS TV/radio station in the Washington, DC, area, and book reviewer for a number of print and online venues.
My contemporary gay romance series is set in the fictional town of Stone Acres, California, and is based on a number of foothills communities where I know people. Even though the books are serial in that they all use the same location and many of the same characters, each book can be read as a stand-alone title. In October, the third in the series will be published by Dreamspinner Press, and in December, a totally unrelated story will be included in Dreamspinner’s Advent short story anthology.

Now, on with the interview

Can you tell me a little more about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

After what sometimes felt like centuries of teaching English composition at the junior college level and grading more essays than I can even imagine counting, I retired a few years back. At the time, I had to have a kidney operation—in which a very cute and very young-looking doctor cut me open, took out my kidney, scraped off threatening growth, put the kidney back, and sewed me up—before I could pursue my writing dreams. It took two years for me to completely recover. But after I did, I started writing. I gave myself this past year to get one thing published. As of the end of the year, I will have published four pieces—three novellas in the Foothills Pride series and a short story in a holiday anthology. I feel as if I’ve been very blessed and very lucky.

When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy?

I make dollhouse miniatures in quarter inch scale. Quarter inch means when I make buildings, furniture, and decorative items to complete the buildings I use a quarter inch to equal a foot in reality. This means the structures are usually around 6 inches or so tall. The ice cream cones I’m making these days look like they’re made from seed beads, but they’re actually molded from air-dry clay. What intrigues me about quarter inch scale is that it relies a lot on illusion to make the viewer believe the object is real. It’s not as pinpoint accurate as one inch scale can be, but more smoke and mirrors—a lot like creating a fictional story actually.

What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

I just finished Sutphin Boulevard by new author Santino Hassell, which I highly recommend. In fact, I’m eagerly awaiting the next one in his series. I also loved Heidi Cullinan’s Lonely Hearts in her excellent Love Lessons series. I recommend it as well as her Dance with Me, a go-to read for me, which I use when I’m feeling down and need something to cheer me up. I’d also recommend new author Roan Parrish, whose first novel, In the Middle of Somewhere, I just loved. I wish I’d written all of these books.

When writing series, what measures do you take to keep track of those annoying little details – eye colour, car type, name of ex-spouse’s dog – that are so easy to drop into text and so easy to forget about?

Funny you should ask this since I’m currently grappling with it. I wrote my first book, What’s in a Name?, with no idea about writing another about the characters or creating a series. But after it was accepted, one of the characters, out-and-proud designer Fredi Zimmer, cried out to have his own story. So I said okay to Fredi and wrote Redesigning Max, which I submitted and was pleased to have accepted.

Well, like Fredi, a character in Redesigning Max cried out to have his own story told. I loved building contractor Abe Behr from Fredi’s book and wrote his story in Behr Facts. I hope you’re keeping up with the progression here and have noted that other than make a list of characters’ names, I kept no records at all.

After the Behr book was accepted, I panicked. I’d created a community and had made very few notes other than a name list, but I was working on the fourth book, celebrity chef Adam de Leon’s story, When Adam Fell.

Fortunately, my editor, the marvelous Erica Orrick, came to my rescue and sent me her series notes list. At least I had a start to making sense of the fictional town of Stone Acres, California. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down and drew a map of the community and the buildings I’d mentioned as well as those characters I’m writing about in the fifth book in the series.
At least I’m a little more organized now. But if readers find discrepancies, know that the mistakes are all mine and not my editors’ faults.

Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. What sort of villains are in your series?

Unfortunately, in my books, the villains are based on real people, the prejudiced people we know and sometimes we love. Coming out and being gay seem to be magnets for bigots and homophobes. And while I’d love to be able to create colorful and fictional villains based on imagination, the real ones are much more harmful and need to be unmasked for who they are.

I’m particularly repulsed by two groups of haters: those whose job is to nurture and protect young men, people like their parents, grandparents, and other family members; and those who say they are friends of the young men prior to their coming out and then can’t abide them afterward as if the young gay men are not the same people they were moments before.

So my stories are horribly contemporary and don’t feature strange creatures or situations who are battling the protagonists, but the forces that make up the world in which we live today. I think it’s important to hold the looking glass up to what’s actually going on around us, so that everyone can recognize and stop the villains.

What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished.

Oh, no, I love to share what I’m working on. I just sent the fourth Foothills Pride novella, When Adam Fell, the story about celebrity chef Adam de Leon, who’s in all three previous books as a minor character. In it, Adam left the love of his life in San Francisco when his lover got strung out on drugs and started selling all their belongings to feed his habit. Years later when the lover turns up at Adam’s door, Adam must decide whether his lover is clean—and they possibly have a life together—or not.

After sending Adam off, I’m currently writing the fifth in the Foothills Pride series, tentatively called Cookie, about Adam’s sous chef, John, a young man who’s five foot two and has come from a horrific past in San Francisco. John’s villains come calling and try to derail his romance with nurseryman Zack during the Christmas season. I’m not excited about the tentative title, so anyone who can suggest a better one will have a heartfelt thanks on the dedication page.

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Absolutely. Here’s the setup and a tiny excerpt from my first book, What’s in a Name?, told from the viewpoint character barista Jimmy Patterson:

What’s in a Name?

“Okay. How’s this for a deal?” He put down his knife and fork and leaned into the table, stabbing me with his eyes. “I’ll give you a week to guess my name. Seven chances. Every day you can ask a few questions, then come up with what you think my name is. If you’re right, I’ll buy the best bike for you and teach you how to ride it.”
“And if I’m wrong?”
“You owe me a kiss.” He leaned back in satisfaction.
“A kiss? One measly kiss?”
“Oh, I don’t want the measly ones. I mean a real, God of Love kiss. Something to set my ass back a couple a notches.”
Now I really laughed. Right. Me, giving him a humdinger of a kiss? Right. Who were we kidding? Oh, well. Didn’t matter because I was going to accept his challenge.

Stonewall was chaos when I got there. Guy and another bartender were mixing drinks as fast as they could. I squeezed in at the end of the bar near the hatchway and sat on an abandoned stool there.
I didn’t think Guy had seen me come in, so when there was a lull in the frenetic pace and he was nearly within arm’s reach, I called out, “What’s a guy gotta do to get a drink in this place?”
Guy looked up, grinned at me, and yelled back, “Fuck the bartender.”
A slim man sitting next to me perked up, gave Guy the once-over, and yelled, “Okay!”
Guy’s startled gaze met mine, and we broke out laughing.
The man next to me sighed and slumped over his beer. “I knew it was too good to be true,” he mumbled.
I patted him on the shoulder.
“Maybe next time,” I commiserated with him.
“Right,” he answered glumly.

And here’s a short snippet from the second book, Redesigning Max, told from viewpoint character, the out-and-proud designer Fredi Zimmer:

I’d spied the much-too-handsome Max around town a time or two, but hadn’t known his name. If Courtney knew him, he must be someone prominent in the community. I hadn’t lived here long enough and hadn’t taken time from my busy schedule to explore the local business scene. If nothing else, this job would let me break into the local hierarchy. Yay, me.
I stopped by my banana-yellow hybrid. “I’ll follow you. Which one’s yours?”
He stood by my car, looked down at it, then back at me with a slight smile upending his lips. The corners of his eyes crinkled, and his dimples peeked out from behind his mustache. His cuteness factor went off the charts. Little Fredi wanted to jump him right there on the sidewalk.
“Uh, better ride with me,” he purred. “The road’d kill that thing.” He flicked a finger at my car. “I’m over there.” He pointed to a monster truck.
Well, howdy. I’d never ridden in one of them before, but I’d certainly fantasized about what could be done in them. This would be a new experience and definitely enrich my bedtime fantasies.
After hauling myself as delicately as I could into Max’s behemoth truck and fastening the seat belt, I looked around, scoping out all the nooks and crannies where someone could climb over the driver or the driver could grind into the passenger. Yeah, monster trucks had it all.
With a shake of my head while Max fastened his seat belt, I rebooted and settled into interior designer mode. I’d done so many vacation home makeovers it was second nature. Somebody says “I want to remodel” and the professional me usually takes over my mind and body. Today? Not so easy staying on track.


What’s in a Name?


Barista Jimmy Patterson thinks it’s a good idea to get rip-roaring drunk on his birthday after he’s dumped by his boyfriend. When the burly owner of Stonewall’s Saloon rescues Jimmy, the night starts to look up.

Now Jimmy just wants to know the bartender’s first name since he’s worn a different name tag every time Jimmy’s seen him. “Guy” Stone gives Jimmy seven guesses, one for each night he takes Jimmy out on a date.

While Jimmy’s trying to come up with his name, he’s distracted by the destruction of his coffee shop and what looks more and more like a hate crime.

To buy What’s in a Name? go to:
Amazon UKAmazon US – Amazon OzB&N
Dreamspinner Press and everywhere eBooks are sold online.


Redesigning Max


Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires Fredi to revamp his rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and Max is just too hunky for words.

When Max comes on to Fredi, the designer can’t imagine why. But he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, even if it’s just in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max’s dilapidated cabin into a showplace. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually?

Max, for his part, is grateful when Fredi takes him in hand, both metaphorically and literally. Coming out is the most exciting and wonderful time in his life, despite the conservative former friends who think they’re saving him from sliding into hell.

To buy Redesigning Max go to:
Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon OZB&N
Dreamspinner Press and everywhere eBooks are sold online.


You can follow all Pat’s writing news and more at:

The blog, PatBooked: http://patbooked.blogspot.com
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pat.henshaw.10
On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6998437.Patois
On Twitter [occasionally]: @PatHenshaw

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My guest today is Amelia Faulkner, writer of historicals and paranormals, who today has provided us with a totally irrelevant but extremely delightful bonus corgi!

Welcome Amelia, and your corgi, and thanks for answering my questions.

Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

I don’t! I’m a full-time writer. I used to work in I.T. but I eventually sidestepped into technical authoring, and from there into freelancing and self-publishing. I’ve been full-time self-employed for about six years now.

When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

I like to travel a lot, and have written many freelance travel articles (it’s not as exciting as it sounds). I also enjoy photography, but I haven’t written about that so much. It’s been useful in supplying images to accompany articles, though!

What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

I’m currently reading KJ Charles’ A Fashionable Indulgence, and I absolutely wish I could have written her Magpie Lord series. It’s got all the things I love: horror, magic, and brilliant characters! If you haven’t read it (what the hell?) go, go go!

In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

Character. I come up with the absolute bare bones of a character – two or three words at most. I pick at it and see how to make life hell for the poor bastard even though he or she is only a couple of words so far. For example, Ellis O’Neill began life as nothing more than “blind vampire”, and then he became “blind vampire art dealer” out of the kindness of my heart (cough). From there came a full background, tons of research, world-building… and then I had to start all over again with Randall ;)

Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?
I spend days developing characters, fleshing them out, giving them histories and siblings and life experiences. I want to know who they are and how they might react in a given situation before I set foot on the outline. Ideas sprout from character research that wouldn’t have occurred to me if I’d leaped in with both feet, and knowing characters well prevents getting written into a corner halfway through the book.

I was a pantster once. It was horrible. I never finished anything.

Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake? What inspired you to write about vampires and werewolves?

I’d quite like to write Billionaire. In my old I.T. life I worked first-hand with multi-millionaires and a couple of billionaires, as well as old money British Aristocracy, and it was a very interesting insight into a very different world. I think the potential for stories which cross between that world of ultra-rich and normal life is limitless. I’m also working on the characters for a Police Procedural series.

I’m not sure that I could produce an especially realistic story featuring Cowboys. All the Arts of Hurting was as much research into horses as I could bear, I think, and even then my extremely horse-savvy editor had to steer me several times!

Paranormal has long been my cup of tea, though. I’ve always loved stories with a touch of horror to them, and I love delving into legends and mythology for inspiration. Vampires have been one of my main interests in this field for something like three decades. I love how they are essentially tailor-made for exploring the question of what makes a person a monster. At what point do you accept that you feed off people to survive? How far will you go to retain immortality once it becomes an option? Does it become easier to justify increasingly horrific decisions the longer you survive? What happens to a person who remains eternally young after everyone they loved has died? Like all good speculative fiction devices, the vampire is a superb lens through which to question humanity. And the most perfect contrast to the hidden monstrosity of a vampire is the outward monster of the werewolf, who has to cope with the things he’s done when he regains control and is left with blood and memories.

Do you find there to be a lot of structural differences between a relationship driven story and one where the romance is a sub plot?

Original Uhura > the reboot Uhura

At the most abstract level, not at all. But when you narrow down the focus things suddenly become very different. When romance is a sub-plot you can paint it in very broad strokes, but doing so often leads to the bland “and then he gets the girl” chestnut Hollywood has given us for decades. It reduces the heroine to nothing more than a prize, and there seems to be an expectation nowadays that a female character must absolutely be in the possession of a man by the end if she isn’t already at the start. It’s my main gripe about the otherwise great Star Trek reboot: Uhura was changed from a woman who had a highly skilled job on a starship to a woman who frequently has to wrangle her boyfriend to get ahead in her career. At first Spock derails her career (illogical, eh?), and then he restores her career by putting her on the ship she deserves to be on. A genre once renowned and acclaimed for its progressive thinking took a step back fifty years.

To have a romance be the primary driver of a story requires that the characters themselves are their own obstacles. Characters cannot be flawless; they can’t be perfect little Gary Stu’s. There’s no story if the most challenging interpersonal barrier is whether or not the hero can only get the girl (or, in my case, the other guy) if he wins a race, shoots a bad guy, or otherwise receives ’em as some kind of raffle prize.

The ultimate goal is still a structure with your chosen number of acts (five. Five is good. I like five) though, so from a distance it all looks like Kurt Vonnegut’s Shape of Stories chart.

When writing series, what measures do you take to keep track of those annoying little details – eye colour, car type, name of ex-spouse’s dog – that are so easy to drop into text and so easy to forget about?

It all goes into my character notes right at the start. Oh yeah. My character sheets are a work of sheer terror!

Good place for Amelia’s bonus corgi y/n

Put together your ideal team of men/women – drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional – who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?

I would totally want Whyborne and Griffin to leap in and rescue me from all of those things! I’d pay good money to see Whyborne burn some fundie faces off.

I’m not a violent person, honest.

Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

I like my villains to be people. I like them to have their reasons for what they do, you know? And it doesn’t always have to be the case that they believe they’re doing good, either, but they must believe they’re right. If they’re willing to fight so hard for what they want, they have got to believe in it. “I’m so evil I kill my own men” is only amusing in cheesy Eighties Hong Kong action movies.

I also like them to show the kind of person the hero could be with the right nudge. The old “Bwa ha ha, we are alike, you and I!” does actually have sound roots. A villain is most interesting when he is, to some extent, the dark mirror to your protagonist.

What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished.

I’m currently working on Book Three of the Tooth & Claw series, Balance of Power. It picks up a couple of months after the fallout of Blood Moon Rising (spoilers, gosh), and this time it’s Randall who takes a back seat while Ellis gets up to his neck in poop… and takes another step toward losing his humanity…
Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Through Adversity – Historical, LoveLight Press.

“Help me down,” Krämer said.
Val shook himself free of his memories and turned his attention back to the man at his side. He took Krämer by the arm and helped the enemy pilot lower himself until he sat in the water, whereupon Krämer let out more uncomplimentary-sounding words in German and shivered as the water lapped around his waist.
“I told you it was bloody cold,” Val huffed.
“I think my, ah. What is the word? Sausage and eggs-”
Val stared at him as Krämer gestured idly down between his thighs, and felt his entire face grow hot as his eyes naturally followed for a moment.
Krämer laughed. “Yes, those. I think they have perhaps retreated into my body!”
“I’m not bloody surprised,” Val stammered as he searched for something else to lay eyes upon. He decided on a tree.
“Go,” Krämer said amid the light splashes of his bathing. “The water is not strong here, and I will call when I need your help to stand.”
“Are you absolutely certain?” Val glanced down in time to catch Krämer dipping his head into the water, and had to wait until the German resurfaced.
“Yes. Go. Besides-” Krämer grinned up at him, eyes alight with mischief “-I think in a minute or two you do not wish to stand downriver of me. I have not had use of a bathroom since this morning, and so much water is… inspiring.”
Val gaped in horror. “You- Well, I-” He huffed. “I swear, Leutnant Krämer, you are the most infuriating man I have ever met!”
“You may as well call me Siegfried,” Krämer answered. “Only my mother calls me Leutnant Krämer, and I wouldn’t like to be reminded of her while I piss.”
Val, spurred on by the thought of urine soaking his boots, waded as quickly as he could back to shore, to the sound of Krämer’s ridiculous, cheerful laughter at his back.

Through Adversity


Tortured German fighter ace, Lt. Siegfried Krämer has a terrible secret which could ruin him: he prefers men. Hurried, loveless encounters have armed him with a sardonic wit and a bleak outlook, and he faces a life in which his only companion is his dog, Eike.

The young and talented Lt. Valentine Westbrook should be considered an ace, but most of his victories are unconfirmed, and now that his squadron is relegated to bombing missions the chances of him ever reaching the magic number are dwindling. When he encounters an equally-skilled enemy pilot during a terrible storm, Valentine is unable to resist the hunt.

Both men soon abandon all common sense and – with a protracted dogfight at their backs – crash-land in the midst of the German Empire’s last great offensive push. Injured, stranded, and with no idea which side of the Line they are on, they must work together if they are to survive. One of them will become the other’s prisoner just as soon as they figure out where they are, but until then they are stuck with no food and no shelter in storms which don’t seem ready to end. But worse still, their mutual respect blossoms into something dangerously intimate, and their lives are about to become forever intertwined…

Amelia’s latest release, Balance of Power, is available NOW.

A blind man who won’t die. A new Alpha learning to lead. And London’s oldest vampire has had enough of them both…

Tooth & Claw, Book 3.

The vampire Ellis O’Neill has weathered more attempts on his life in a year than most people suffer in a lifetime. His continued survival is down to a collection of facts he prefers to keep closely-guarded secrets: his lover is a werewolf; he’ll break whatever laws he has to; and he’s willing to become a monster to protect those he loves.

Werewolf Randall Carter is settling into his new role as Alpha. For a man used to a lifetime of bullying and abuse this is a terrifying change, and it’s taking everything he has to work out how to do his best without it all falling down around his ears.

Ellis’ world is about to fall apart. His best friends harbour a secret which could ruin them all. His brother is headed to London to recover their father’s loan. Barb wants him for her revolution. And Charles Devitt wants him destroyed once and for all.

Christmas is coming, but peace and goodwill are nowhere to be found…

You can get the latest news of Amelia’s work from the following sites:






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I’m very excited to be able to welcome today Lloyd Meeker, one of the most versatile authors in the catalogue.

Lloyd credits Walter de la Mare’s “The Listeners” as the first poem to steal both his heart and his imagination. That was in seventh grade, and he’s never been the same since. At university he devoured LOTR in a single weekend. Then came Lord Dunsany’s The Charwoman’s Shadow, Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea.

He’s happily entangled in a life-long love affair with metaphor and the potent mystery of the Hero’s Journey, especially in its metaphysical and psychological aspects. He lives in southern Florida with his husband, reading, writing, practicing subtle energy healing, wallowing in classical music and celebrating a very active life among orchids, hibiscus and palm trees.

Welcome, Lloyd and thank you for answering my questions so gallantly.




Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

I retired in 2011, and it took me a couple of years to get used to the change. From minister to software developer, with a bunch of odd stops in between, I’ve held a variety of jobs. Now I write stories, and it’s the best job in the world for me, even when I hate it. I’d starve if I had to live on my royalties, but no, no day job in the usual sense. I do work two days a week at a local historical site, which helps me support my writing habit.

I live with my husband Bob in Wilton Manors, FL, which is a pocket municipality in the Fort Lauderdale area. It’s Provincetown South, basically, as about three-quarters of our population is LGBTQ. I think there’s one straight person elected to the City Commission, but he’s not the mayor—we do try to be inclusive. <laughing>

When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

I’m taking Spanish lessons, and hope one day to get back to playing my octave mandolin. We have a large circle of friends and have a healthy social life. We’re also pretty active in our local leather community—others may disagree, but I consider that a creative activity. Certainly an adventure. I also practice a form of subtle energy healing similar to Reiki. I’ve done that since I was a boy.

I haven’t written about any of those activities as a story subject, per se, but power/energy and music often show up in my work. I’ve thought about writing a BDSM story, but at this point I haven’t come across one that was mine to write.

What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

I just finished Lightning Rod, Broken Mirrors Book 2 by Vaughn R. Demont. I like his work a lot. It’s smart and exciting, his imagination is gripping and his craft is at a fine level. House of Stone and his Broken Mirrors series is a must read for lovers of spec fic.

Something I wish I’d written myself? Jackdaw, by KJ Charles is the most recent. It’s brilliant. Taking the heroes from the Magpie Lord series, which is wonderful in its own right, and casting them as the unlikable antagonists (not the same as villains!) in Jackdaw without altering or diminishing their character is the work of a master. I wish I could do that. Maybe one day I’ll be able to pull that off.

In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

In a series like my Russ Morgan mysteries, the main character is already set, so the story idea comes already featuring that character. He’ll grow, but it will be his story.

In other projects, though, character and situation arrive together: “What if a person like this encounters a problem like that?” The plot/situation is of no interest to me unless I care about the character in the middle of it, and just having an interesting character means nothing until he has a story platform to stand and act on.

I should disclose that the traditional distinction between plot-driven and character-driven is an artificial duality to me. A good story requires both characters and plot. I want my story to be story-driven.

Do your characters arrive fully-fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

They always develop beyond my first feeling/thought, never like Athena springing from Zeus’ head, already fully grown and wearing armor. Frankly, it takes some time for me to know a protagonist. That’s why I usually think about a protagonist and his challenges for months before I write a word. I love learning about the character as he or she grows in the story. That’s an adventure I get to share!

Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake? 

I have sketches for a work of magical realism, and I’m really excited about it. It’s the kind of writing I’m reaching for as I mature as a novelist. I flatter myself thinking the intellectual and emotional challenges will one day be within my reach to handle well.

A genre I doubt I’ll ever tackle (never say never, right?) is YA/NA. I haven’t the mindset. By definition the protagonist has to be immature, and as entertaining as the story might be I get too impatient with the characters’ mandatory immaturity. The whole point of those stories, it seems to me, is that the characters are still too young to get over themselves without unnecessary drama.

Sometimes as I read a YA/NA story I think, “Yes, and it will be much more interesting to meet you when you’ve actually grown up.” Especially male characters. The male brain doesn’t finish maturing biologically until 25 or so. Until then, as wonderful as a young man might be, he’s just not playing with a full deck, emotionally or mentally. I’m sure I’ve offended a big chunk of your subscribers by saying that, but I figure you—and they—deserve my honesty.

While I’m on my rant, I’ll add that one of my biggest peeves in romantic gay fiction is how protagonists supposedly in their 30s and 40s still act as if they’re in their early 20’s. It’s infuriating to me and I think insulting to gay men.

While that chronic immaturity allows an author to employ shallow tantrums, buying into cheap misunderstandings without actually taking time to find out the truth like an adult would, or trading on emotional fragility and never-ending angst as plot devices, is, as I say insulting to gay men in general.

Just as most straight guys worth knowing aren’t shallow, posturing buffoons like their depictions in American TV commercials, most gay men worth knowing aren’t emotionally damaged children in need of rescue or redemption. I’d love to see more stories about emotionally mature gay men.

Do you find there to be a lot of structural differences between a relationship driven story and one where the romance is a sub plot?

Yes. Again I’m probably jumping into chummed water, but here goes.

It’s certainly not inevitable, but a romance or relationship-driven story is much more likely to fall victim to a familiar (and seductively convenient) set of devices used to drive the story forward. Here are a few overused (imho) ones:

  • The Big Misunderstanding/Betrayal That Tears the Lovers Apart
  • The Thing/Love We Can’t Talk About Because if We Did the Story Would be Over
  • The Awful (but please, not TOO terribly Awful!) Secrets from the Past
  • The Crippling Unworthiness Wound
  • The Catastrophic/Chronic Inability to Trust

Sometimes these are so obviously engineered to provide plot that I shake my head as I read. A relationship-driven story doesn’t have to be device-driven. I believe there’s a big difference in quality of story when it’s not.

When writing series, what measures do you take to keep track of those annoying little details – eye colour, car type, name of ex-spouse’s dog – that are so easy to drop into text and so easy to forget about?

I use Scrivener. It’s got built-in functionality that allows me to keep track of characters, their backstory, attributes, locations they’ve lived and when, the works – anything I need. If the ex-spouse’s dog is important to the story, its name will be on the character sheet and I can refer to it any time.

I’m no farther than number two in a series, so I haven’t run into the more serious continuity problems. I may eventually need to print up those pages into a binder, organized by book or by character. That would take no more than half an hour. Scrivener is an incredible application.

Put together your ideal team of men/women drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional: who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?

What an interesting array of threats! Let me draw from characters I’ve written.

Muggers, I’d take Marco, the LAPD detective from The Companion, or Deputy Sheriff Heath Baker from Blood and Dirt. The muggers should start running right now.

For alligators, I think I’d call on Delen (rhymes with Helen), the nature witch from my current WIP. She could talk the alligators down, no problem.

For fundamentalists, I honestly don’t know. They’re the toughest of the lot. To be an extreme fundamentalist requires a certain level of intellectual dishonesty, so there’s no basis for logical engagement. Unexamined belief (religious or otherwise) is prejudice, and probably the most dangerous force in the world. I guess I’d call in every magician I’ve ever written – Talak and Yurud from Blood Royal, Arden and Toral from my first book, The Darkness of Castle Tiralur. (Mercifully Tiralur is out of print, but the characters are still good friends of mine.) I might need all of them to take on fundamentalists!

Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

I hope I never write what I would call a villain, as all I can think of is Snidely Whiplash tying some fair damsel to the railroad tracks. His morality is one-dimensional. Antagonists can be deadly, but in my mind should be more complex when it comes to the morality of their actions. In general, I’m most interested in the antagonist who is convinced he is doing good even as he commits evil—like burning someone at the stake, convinced it’s the only way to save their soul. That’s very compelling to me.

I haven’t written a serial killer, and probably never will. They don’t interest me. I could write an impartial antagonist such as the ocean, but Nature can never be truly evil, even if climate change destroys the entire human race. Gaia always bats last!

Societal pressures can be evil, for sure. Inspired by the terrifying militarization of police forces in the US, I’ve thought about writing a police state novel, but nothing concrete has come to me yet. In that case the antagonist would believe deeply in an “us vs. them” paradigm, certain that extreme force was required to maintain essential order and decency. He would have to believe that “the public” was somehow inherently wrong, misled, bad, or just dangerous, and therefore every citizen posed a potential threat to everything he stands for.

The hero’s inner demons? Yeah, they’re always in the mix. Regardless of what challenge he may attempt externally, those internal demons are what his character growth is about.


What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished?

I can say something without giving too much away. I’m currently working on the sequel to my m/f romance Blood Royal, which is being released by Wild Rose Press soon. It picks up even before the epilogue of BR occurs, and builds toward the lineage that will one day rule the House of Albessind. The story is about love, political intrigue, love, murder, love, individual power, love, magic exercised by will/spells vs. magic that springs from nature, and of course love.

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Yes, certainly! Here’s an excerpt from Blood and Dirt, my second Russ Morgan mystery, just released by Wilde City Press. This is the third excerpt so, if you would like to read them in order, you can find the first here with Clare London and the second here with Jon Michaelsen.

Russ has been gently but relentlessly pursued by Colin Stewart, a young paralegal he met in the first mystery, Enigma. Russ is attracted, but has resisted getting involved because he’s afraid. In this scene they’ve gone on a hike in the Flatirons, near Boulder, Colorado.



I worked hard to keep my breath rhythmic and steady, if only so I wouldn’t embarrass myself with ragged gasping. Men at different ages had different things to prove, I mused, focusing on my diaphragm to push used-up air out of my lungs.

At twenty, few men needed to prove they could get an erection; at seventy, it might be different, setting aside magic pills. On the other hand, at twenty it was hard to prove excellence in your chosen field, if you even had a chosen field at that age. At seventy, you’d probably have made peace—or at least a truce—with your career. From my vantage point at fifty-three, I seemed obliged to prove most everything. I was about to draw some deep conclusion to my train of thought, but some scree gave way under my boot and derailed it. I nearly fell on my face.

Here on a steep Flatirons trail outside Boulder, Colin Stewart didn’t need to prove he was equal to the climb, whereas I felt obliged to keep up with him even though he was half my age. Pride can be a bigger bully than a drill sergeant.

Colin’s sturdy calves bunched and released as he clambered up the escarpment ahead of me, his hiking boots bouncing from one toehold to another. The trail wasn’t heart-stoppingly difficult, even for me, and following his firm shorts-clad backside at close range certainly made the tougher parts of the trail more rewarding. The Sunday morning sun, still fairly low behind us warmed our backs and turned the fine hair on his tanned legs to spun gold. Lust for spun gold was another powerful inspiration to keep up.

As I pulled myself up around a boulder already May-morning warm, I admitted that hiking with a young man who, for some unfathomable reason, found me desirable was the standard stuff of midlife fantasies. Most gay men my age would be trembling with excitement, asked out on a date with an adorable young thing who made no secret he wanted more than just a date. But adorable and young as Colin was, he definitely wasn’t just a thing. He deserved much more than I could give him.

The trail’s incline eased, and I filled with more gratitude than I should have felt.

The way I saw it, the reality of a fifty-something-year-old man being pursued by someone as young, intelligent, and sweet as Colin Stewart posed a much more complex problem than any midlife fantasy. I had serious reservations. When I thought about a relationship with him, I immediately felt responsible for his happiness, and my sobriety had no room for such bald codependence. Worse, I was fighting a losing battle to suppress an old shame I didn’t want to face.

Sweat tickled down my spine in a steady little stream. With a mixture of relief and arousal, I stared at a moisture- darkened V forming on the back of Colin’s khaki shorts, starting just below his belt. Never mind he was carrying our lunch and all the water in his daypack. At least he was sweating, too. It seemed only fair.

He twisted to look down at me, his face damp, radiantly happy under the wide brim of his hat. “Let’s stop for water,” he said. “Even on a trail like this, it’s important to stay hydrated.”

“What do you mean, even on a trail like this?” I panted, trying not to feel embarrassed.

Colin laughed, pulling a big blue bandana from his hip pocket and tilting his hat back to wipe his forehead. “I didn’t mean it that way. Really. This is work for me, too.” He hitched his pack into place. “I meant a short outing. We’ll be back in Denver in a few hours.”

“Still plenty of time to see the rest of my life flash before my eyes, I guess.”

“You’re doing great,” he said, holding out his hand to me. I took it, and he pulled me up next to him. Close. He cocked a thumb at his backpack and turned away from me. “Dig us out some water.”

As I pulled out a bottle, I admitted he was right. I was in much better than average shape for my age. But I wasn’t twenty-five like Colin, and he certainly wasn’t fifty-something. And therein lay the root problem for us, as I saw it.

Us. I handed Colin the water and watched him tilt his head back to drink, watched his throat move as he swallowed. I wanted to feel that motion under my tongue. There couldn’t be any “us,” not in the long run.

He must have felt me staring, because he gave me a knowing smile and slowly licked his lips. “Like what you see, Russ?”

“You know I do.”

“Well, I like what I see, too.” He handed me the water bottle, staring me in the eye. “A lot.”

I couldn’t bring myself to accept what he said was true, but I knew he wasn’t lying. His aura showed no guile when he said it, not a flicker. I got vertigo when he talked like that. I took a long pull of water, not wanting to think about what the lust in my own aura might look like in that moment.

“Time for us to get back on the trail, don’t you think?” It was lame of me to change the subject like that, but I wasn’t feeling brave. Colin gazed at me for a moment, eyes cool, and shrugged.

Ashamed of my cowardice, I stuffed the water back in his pack and off we went again.


“I love the climb, but I love the view from the top even more.” Colin made a slow three-sixty, turning first to the mountains and foothills to the north, then the flatland stretching out to the east under its Front Range brown cloud, and finally, endless mountains to the south and west.

“It’s magnificent,” I agreed, pulling in lungfuls of air so fresh the ozone stung my nostrils.

“That’s what I wanted to do to you, too,” he said, not breaking his gaze from the higher hills behind us. “First time I saw you, I wanted to climb you so bad.”

“Climb the mountain just because it was there?”

“Not at all,” he said, turning to scowl at me. “And it’s not just physical. When you told me about how you read auras and what it felt like, that was it. I wanted to move in with you right then.” He laughed. “And climb your mountain.” He gave me his evil grin, the one that scared the crap out of me because it cut straight through my rational defenses to fire me up. “I’ll bet the view from your peak is fabulous. Bet I’d see shooting stars from it.”

I laughed in spite of myself but kept staring at the snow-covered peaks to the west. I could feel Colin’s eyes on me as he waited for me to say something. I filled my lungs with air and let it out slowly, grateful I was no longer panting. He deserved my honesty, if nothing else, even if I wasn’t proud of what I had to say.

I turned to face him. “We should talk.”



Blood and Dirt: a Russ Morgan mystery

by Lloyd A Meeker


Family squabbles can be murder. Psychic PI Russ Morgan investigates a vandalized marijuana grow in Mesa County Colorado, landing in the middle of a ferocious family feud that’s escalating in a hurry. Five siblings fight over the family ranch as it staggers on the brink of bankruptcy, marijuana its only salvation. Not everyone agrees, but only one of them is willing to kill to make a point. Russ also has a personal puzzle to solve as he questions his deepening relationship with Colin Stewart, a man half his age. His rational mind says being with Colin is the fast track to heartbreak, but it feels grounding, sane, and good. Now, that’s really dangerous…

Blood and Dirt is currently available from Wilde City Press:



You can get more news of Lloyd’s upcoming projects at the following web locations:

Website: http://www.lloydmeeker.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LloydAMeeker

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/MBe1gp




Writing the controversial

Okay, maybe “controversial” is overegging the pudding in this case, but when authors touch on subjects like politics or disability or religion in their books, they can find themselves losing readers who may not agree with the views they – or their characters – espouse. In the case of my latest novella, I’m being contentious by having a gay priest who (gasp!) has sex and enjoys it.

Now, I guess that the readership for books self selects, so people who are fervent in their belief that a man of the cloth (or any other Christian for that matter) can’t possibly be gay aren’t likely to read the book except to knock it, but that’s their look out. I’m happy to stand up and trade them blow for blow on theological points. And on real life examples such as Harry Williams, who was one of the priests at Prince Charles’s wedding and a well respected authority on faith.

While Dan, the vicar in the story, doesn’t move in quite such elite circles he faces the same sort of dilemmas, and I confess that I put many of my own views on faith and what it means to be Christian into his mouth (and mind) and into those of some other characters. I also confess to having put some of the views I don’t approve of into the mouths of the less sympathetic people in the story.

It’s a delicate balance. Sometimes an author has to put words into the mouths of their characters which they find offensive, or give their characters views the author would find untenable. Yet that has to be done, because these viewpoints exist and plenty of people sound them off regularly. However, an author has to avoid being preachy when they attack these opinions via what their protagonists say and do. I can think of few easier ways of putting a reader off than delivering a sermon to them!

Title: Don’t Kiss the Vicar (m/m contemporary romance, PG excerpt)

Link: Bold Strokes Books


Vicar Dan Miller is firmly in the closet in his new parish. Could the inhabitants of a sedate Hampshire village ever accept a gay priest? Trickier than that, how can he hide his attraction for one of his flock, Steve Dexter?

Encouraged by his ex-partner to seize the day, Dan determines to tell Steve how he feels, only to discover that Steve’s been getting poison pen letters and suspicion falls on his fellow parishioners. When compassion leads to passion, they have to conceal their budding relationship, but the arrival of more letters sends Dan scuttling back into the closet.

Can they run the letter writer to ground? More importantly, can they patch up their romance and will Steve ever get to kiss the vicar again?


“Vicar!” The shout, the almost friendly wave meant the decision to veer off was taken too late.
“Steve!” A cordial wave back as the distance between them narrowed. “Didn’t think you frequented this place.”
“Is that why you come here, then? To get away from the parishioners you like least?”
Dan tried to find an answer, but somehow the connection between his brain and mouth had become severed. Helpless, he could feel the flush rushing up his neck, and could see—without looking at the bloke—that Steve was less than amused. What the hell else was he going to think other than that he’d hit the nail on the head, and Dan was too dumb to cover the fact up?
“Rex!” A high pitched, agitated female voice broke the awkward moment, as did a huge Great Dane, about the size of a rhinoceros, which came haring out of the woods, onto the path and straight into Steve’s leg.
“Shit!” Steve staggered, arms flailing in a futile effort to keep himself upright. Dan’s attempt to reach out and catch him before he hit the stony path was equally ineffective, but at least he could keep the nasty, snarling brute at bay with the aid of the stick he habitually took when he walked. Jimmy had said it gave him gravitas, now it provided the ideal weapon.
“You should keep that thing under control,” he said, as the woman came up and made a lunge for the Great Dane. “What if it had gone for a child?”
“He’s just nervous,” she said, flustered. “Here, Rex. Here boy.” The dog stood off. “He’s a rescue dog. Doesn’t like men.”
“Then take him somewhere he won’t have to see them. Are you all right?” Dan tried to focus his anger into something useful, rummaging in his pocket for a clean hankie. “You need something on that hand.”
“I’m fine,” Steve said, trying to hide the bleeding while keeping a nervous eye on the dog. “Can somebody not take that bloody thing away?”
“There’s no need for that sort of language,” the woman said, at last managing to get a lead onto the dog’s collar.
“I think there’s every need for it. And worse,” Dan said. “You’d better take him off if you don’t want the air turning blue.”
“Well, really! Come on boy.” She hauled the dog away at last.
“Right. Show me that hand.”
“I’m fine.” Steve got to his feet, brushing the dirt off his trousers and managing to get blood on them.
“That hand’s a mess.” Dan grabbed it, none too gently, which made Steve wince, but it served him right for faffing. “This cut’s full of crap. You need to have it cleaned out and a steri-strip put on. Might even need a stitch or two.”
“I’ve had worse,” Steve said, trying to free his paw.
Yes, you have. There’s that intriguing scar on the back of your hand and the one above your left eyebrow. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. Don’t think I don’t imagine tasting them.
Dan became aware of the strange look he was getting and ploughed on. “So have I. Come on, the vicarage is closer than your house. We can dress this there.”
“Oh, for fu…goodness sake. I can sort it out myself. I’m not a child.” Steve tugged his hand away, clearly avoiding Dan’s gaze.
“Will you not let somebody help you? Must you always be so bloody stubborn?”

Bio and links:

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.

She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.

To sign up for her newsletter, email her at cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com, or catch her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18
Twitter: http://twitter.com/charliecochrane
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2727135.Charlie_Cochrane
Blog: http://charliecochrane.livejournal.com
Website: http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk

The Google Doodle today was labelled Mundaneum and I couldn’t quite remember what it was. That’s been happening a lot lately. I guess I need more RAM? Anyhow I clicked on it and there it was on Wikipedia, in all its glory.

The Mundaneum – a paper version of the world wide web made in 1910 by two Belgian lawyers researching documentation science.

Everything was cross referenced against everything else according to a numerical system called the Universal Decimal Classification so it should be possible to follow routes of research by going from one numerical reference to another. There’s a museum in Wallonia where one can view what remains of the Mundaneum – parts were lost during WW2 and other parts have been damaged by neglect.

Reading about it, I remembered why I recognised it. In 1982, when I first started working for the museum, a modern version was being launched called the SHIC classification system that had been designed especially for museum archivists. SHIC = Social History and Industrial Classification. Every social history item could be logged with a series of numbers. Say one had a photo of some Morris dancers. That counts as part of Community Life – 1 – subdivided to Cultural Traditions – 1.1 – but if the dance was part of a Mummer’s Play only performed at a solstice then it would fall under Custom and Belief and Calendar Customs which would give it a code of 1.116 AND/OR as Community Entertainment – 1.66 – and if the photo was part of a newsclipping then it would also fall under dessemination of information which would take it into a whole new category. For example, smelling salts should normally be classified to 2.7, but smelling salts in a small bottle obviously carried around by one particular individual should be classified to 3.72. A scrapbook about a coal mining disaster would be classified to 4.2121.81, but a scrapbook recording the life of one particular individual would be classified to 3.12. A pipe rack would be classified to 2.68, but a pipe would normally be classified to 3.63.

Not confusing at all! Obviously.

Then the personal computer revolution kicked off with searchable databases and the SHIC system fell into disuse. I rather regret that somewhere in my head there’s a whole bunch of bits and bytes where bunches of info from the system is stored, hard to get at but still present. Local topography – 1.92 – crop spraying – 4.13. I wonder why I can remember those when I often can’t remember a doctor’s appointment or to pick up a prescription.

More RAM.


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