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Archive for the ‘Guests’ Category

My guest today is one of my favourite writers in this multifaceted genre and also, coincidentally, one of my favourite people 😀

Chris Quinton is here today to tell us about her book Love in Three Moves and to answer some questions about her writing process.

Welcome Chris.

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 have a day job, which should give me plenty of time to write. Of course, it doesn’t work out that way – I have back problems which mean I can’t sit at a keyboard for long. I’m also a sloooow writer, which doesn’t help.

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

I like to quilt, and to knit, though the latter is only an ongoing supply of fingerless mitts [totally idiot-proof to make]. Back when I was more mobile, I was a 15th century re-enactor, which I loved. I got to spin, embroider, and dance. I have a few ideas to use a re-enacting scenario, but they are too vague to be even a plot bunny for now.

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

Oh, Gods, the list of wish-I’d-written-it books is far too long! Let’s go with anything by CJ Cherryh for SFR and Fantasy, Lindsey Davis for Historical, Dorothy L Sayers for Mystery. On the reading front, I’m rereading CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner series for the umpteenth time. IMO she is right at the top of the list of the best SF writers of all time.

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

Situation and characters first, then the plot grows organically. But with pruning and training as required. I often have to backtrack and add in elements that occur to me as I’m going along – the definitive description of a Pantster…

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 usually have a pretty clear image of them and what makes them tick. Odd quirks might appear as the story grows.

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.

At the moment I’m working on Interface, an SF story set in a distant part of the galaxy…

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Here’s a short piece from Love In Three Moves, three short stories charting the ups and downs in a love affair… This is from the first one, It Takes Two:

“It’s me,” David Grainger called as he opened the front door and walked into the large studio apartment. “Are you back? Babs has been nagging me again. Did you get the Stravinsky commis – ?” He stopped in his tracks. Yes, Ben was back from Geneva. The room looked like Selfridges at the end of a sale day. Cushions, bedcovers, pillows and odd items of clothing lay scattered over floor and furniture, and the warm air was heavy with an exotic, expensive perfume. But over all hung the scent of sex.

Who was it this time? David wondered, irritated. Roger, Melanie, or both? Not that he gave a damn who Ben took to his bed. No, he was peeved because he’d heard nothing from the man for several days. Phone calls and texts had all been ignored, and Barbara wasn’t the only one pissed off about it. Important matters hung on the success of Ben’s trip to Switzerland. Sometimes the man was an irresponsible pain in David’s arse.

Fastidious as a cat, he picked his way across the room, nose wrinkling as the assorted aromas assaulted his nostrils, and David thanked whichever gods looked after dissolute idiots that the used condoms had ended up in the waste bin and not on the floor.

Ben, the other half of Grainger & Tremayne Antiques, enjoyed a varied love life. Ten years of friendship, five of which included a highly successful working partnership, meant they’d shared keys long ago and had free range of each other’s homes in the same Canary Wharf up-market apartment block. It wouldn’t be the first time David had strolled in at the wrong moment. He was bisexual himself, but his own exploits in the relationship arena were a lot less adventurous. Or numerous.

“Ben? Are you still alive?”

 

###

Buy Links

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XTBV4KB

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/713621

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/love-in-three-moves

 

BLURB

 

Love in Three Moves – Three short stories chart a passionate love affair: yet true love rarely runs smoothly.

It Takes Two

David Grainger and Ben Tremayne are perfect partners in business and friendship – and finally they give in to the temptation of taking that further. Their passionate love has been brewing for a long time, and everything about their new affair is wonderful – until it isn’t.

Breaking Point

Ben hasn’t seen his ex-lover David, for a year. He lives alone with his remorse for breaking up their affair, overwhelmed by his fear of commitment rather than his love for David. When, out of the blue, David asks him for a favour, Ben grudgingly agrees. The simple errand takes a complicated turn.

Clue Game

Once instrumental in reuniting Ben and David, their friend Barbara Curtis now needs the couple’s help with her own love-life. Despite being in Paris on their pre-honeymoon, Ben and David are caught up in the ensuing puzzle, involving a Paris art gallery, the works of Shakespeare, a devious crossword, a pair of precious earrings – and satisfaction for Barbara’s heart.

Chris Quinton – a Bio

Chris started creating stories not long after she mastered joined-up writing, somewhat to the bemusement of her parents and her English teachers. But she received plenty of encouragement. Her dad gave her an already old Everest typewriter when she was ten, and it was probably the best gift she’d ever received – until the inventions of the home-computer and the worldwide web.

Chris’s reading and writing interests range from historical, mystery, and paranormal, to science-fiction and fantasy, writing mostly in the Gay genre. She also writes the occasional mainstream novel in the name of Chris Power. She refuses to be pigeon-holed and intends to uphold the long and honourable tradition of the Eccentric Brit to the best of her ability. In her spare time [hah!] she reads, or listens to audio books while quilting or knitting. Over the years she has been a stable lad [briefly] in a local racing stable and stud, a part-time and unpaid amateur archaeologist, a civilian administrator at her local police station, and a 15th century re-enactor.

She lives in a small and ancient city not far from Stonehenge in the south-west of the United Kingdom, and shares her usually chaotic home with her extended family, three dogs, a Frilled Dragon [lizard], sundry goldfish and tropicals.

Her blog/website is: http://chrisquinton.com

Her Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/chris.quinton.1

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My guest today isn’t just a blinkin’ good author but also a dear friend and mentor, a fellow UK Meet Committee member, a stalwart of the writing community and an all round good egg.

Charlie is here today to celebrate her brand new release – In the Spotlight. a bundle of two stories about men who tread the boards.

Charlie, what inspired you to write these stories?

My love of sport and the theatre. In the case of All That Jazz, I was once going to a rugby match at London Irish and I saw two blokes having a row in the club car park. My mind went into overdrive and by the time I’d considered all the possibilities why they’d been arguing, I had the makings of a character. At a similar time, the all-male productions at the Globe made me wonder if an all male Chicago would be a goer – so when these two ideas conflated I had the germ of a story. (Any more detail would give it away.)

If Music Be came from another mixing of ideas. I love Will Shakespeare’s work, especially Twelfth Night; the sexual politics and gender bending in that play are mind boggling. It’s something I’ve explored before and no doubt will do again. When hubby got given a Military Wives CD, it made me wonder about military husbands and – again – these two seemingly disparate things came together to make a tale.

Have you tackled the theatre in other stories?

Oh, yes. The Cambridge Fellows found themselves embroiled with an all male production of “The Scottish Play” and “Awfully Glad” concerns a WWI officer who appears in a concert party dressed as a woman (do I detect a theme here?) I guess it’s a matter of writing about what I enjoy watching or reading about!

“The Roosters”, an army concert party started in 1917 with the donation of a 100 drachma note by a Surrey wicket keeper and continued to perform for over 30 years

There’s something comfortably camp about the behavior of theatrical types, including the straight ones. They certainly seem happy touching each other when being interviewed on the television. Any thoughts?

Plenty! Cultures develop around professions and settings, so the language and interactions in the theatre will be different to those in accountancy. I’m sure the fact that actors spend a lot of time pretending to be someone else in an artificial setting must have an influence, too. Perhaps it loosens the inhibitions or something.

Mind you, that relaxed physicality can be seen in my beloved rugby, too. One of the factors must be the close contact on the pitch (hands and heads go places in scrums and rucks that they don’t go in other sports). But it isn’t just during the game – the lads are very tactile when celebrating a try, or after the match. I also see tweets from them along the lines of, “In bed with my pal x, watching TOWIE”. They’re clearly sharing a bed in the way Morecambe and Wise platonically shared a bed, as has been customary through time, but you can’t imagine a footballer making that sort of tweet, for fear of snide comments. I wonder if it’s because rugby players have nothing to prove in terms of their masculinity? After all, the world’s top rugby referee is “out” and nobody bats an eyelid.

What are you working on at the moment?

Something rather different and a bit daft, about which I’m giving no more details as I don’t want anyone else to nick the idea. J

Can we have an excerpt?

Of course! Here’s a bit from All That Jazz:

“Are you looking for someone?” An incongruously quiet voice sounded beside him.

Hardly the most original chat up line. Francis eyed the stranger warily. He’d got past the point of being impressed by smooth lotharios sporting smarmy clichés although this bloke didn’t seem like one of them. If Francis had been a betting man he’d have put twenty quid on the remark being genuine and heartfelt.

“Not really.” Francis used his huskiest tones, ones belying the clothes he wore, tones intended to impress. Whoever or whatever the bloke with the clichéd lines was, he had a stunning smile to accompany them. And an honest fresh face—as complete a contrast to Rhys fucking don’t trust him as far as you can throw him Mannering as you could get.

“Sorry, you just looked a bit lost.” The stranger turned face on, his smile now shy and losing some of its lustre.

“Maybe I am. Not sure I know anyone here.” Francis couldn’t believe he was uttering the words, and in such a bashful manner. He was used to being the confident, pushy one in these sort of joints. Or at least he’d been good at acting that part once Mannering had gone. He’d had to learn to make the running, determined not to let that poncy sod ruin any more of his life than he already had done. So why was he now admitting to some beddable bloke that he was anything less than Mr. Confidence? Especially tonight when a beddable bloke and a bottle of beer were top of his shopping list.

“You do look a bit out of place.”  Another devastating smile. Why the fuck did beddable bloke make you feel like you’d never been in a bloody gay bar before?  “It’s not your average pub, this place. Most of the team hang out here and it’s coloured the atmosphere.”

“The team?” Francis cast a quick glance around. The rainbow flag over the door might well have been false colours, given the butch, well built appearance of the bar’s clientele. It looked more like your average suburban local than a haunt of the spenders of the pink pound. Perhaps the flag had actually been flying over the Brasserie next door and he’d missed it in his foul temper? No, the looks and nudges he’d had were genuine enough, and he wasn’t so dragged up that he could really be mistaken for a bird.

~~~~~~

In the Spotlight

Blurb:

All That Jazz
Francis Yardley may be the high kicking star of an all-male version of Chicago, but bitter, and on the booze after the breakdown of a relationship, he thinks that the chance for true love has passed him by. A handsome, shy rugby player called Tommy seems to be the answer to his problems, but Tommy doesn’t like the lipstick and lace. Can they find a way forward and is there still a chance for happiness “nowadays”?

If Music Be
Rick Cowley finds himself taking up am-dram once more, thinking it’ll help him get over the death of his partner. He’d never anticipated it would mean an encounter with an old flame and the sort of emotional complications the Bard would have revelled in. Still, old Will had the right word for every situation, didn’t he?

Link: Amazon UK Amazon US

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.  Romances, mysteries, sometimes historical and occasionally hysterical. Rumours that she has written about weresloths are true.

Charlie’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, and regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.

You can reach Charlie at cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com (maybe to sign up for her newsletter?) or catch her on Facebook, twitter, goodreads, her website or her blog.

 

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New Beginnings

There’s a line in a song by rock band The Editors, “Some things should be simple; even an end has a start”, which has resonated with me recently as I come to the end of a book series. Tales from The Edge consists of eight books and four free short stories and began almost four years ago with Reaching The Edge. The main characters, Olly and Joe, have inhabited my head ever since and letting go has proved anything but simple. I wish they were real – they’d make really good friends and I think a night out with them might be an adventure!
I didn’t want to write a never-ending series where readers forget what the whole premise was about and characters become formulaic caricatures. That’s boring for the reader and the writer. But, I never imagined how involved readers would become with the fictional lives of a group of kinky, loving men who overcome their problems with the help of friendship, perseverance and a healthy dose of snark.

Whilst writing Tales from The Edge, I frequently found myself accidentally creating characters with the potential for stories of their own, so I may have to indulge in a few more short freebies when the urge takes me! In the meantime, the final book in the series sows the seed for a new set of stories I’ll also be starting this year. So the end really is a start.

Thanks so much for hosting me. xx

To celebrate the final book in the series, you can enter a Rafflecopter giveaway HERE. Five lucky winners will receive an ebook of their choice from my back list. (Draw open Jan 10 – Jan 31 2017)

Driven to The Edge
“So, fans of the Tales from The Edge series, buckle up. Here is the next story that you’ve been waiting for. And those new to the series, it’s never too late to start. You won’t be sorry. This is one of my favorite m/m, BDSM series. Enjoy!” Becky Condit for USA Today.

Scorched Edges
“The characters are intelligent, spirited, and needless to say smoking hot. Between danger and drama Scorched Edges has it all. This series consistently gives readers smoldering, sensual, and engaging stories to enjoy. Scorched Edges is another must read.” Joyfully Reviewed.

Rough Around the Edges
“The sex…HOLY COW! I love how Harry takes charge – his Dom juju made my heart beat faster.” Inked Rainbow Reads

A Double-Edged Sword
“This pair have love, respect and honesty to help them through and ‘contract’ their new relationship. The story was real, the secondary characters important and the sex was sizzling!” Prism Book Alliance

Dancing on the Edge
“Sensual dominance rules the day in Dancing on the Edge where desire sets the standard in tasteful erotic love play.” Joyfully Reviewed

Living on the Edge
“Living on the Edge is Yummy! This quick read is loaded with great characters, sizzling M/M sex, and engaging twists.” Jeep Diva

Reaching the Edge
“Oh, and Olly? My favorite character. God he’s just a freaking dervish. He’s like a Gremlin. Don’t feed him sugar. EVER. You’ll see.” Mrs Condit & Friends

Series Blurb

The Edge is a training company with a difference. It’s weekend clients come for classes in bondage and domination, not team building and problem solving. The management, staff and customers of The Edge do not lead boring lives. In fact they have a habit of getting themselves into all kinds of trouble. Put dominant, possessive alpha males together with bratty, loveable submissives and sparks are bound to fly. Tales from The Edge are their stories.

Blurb for Binding the Edges (Book #8 in the series)

Never let go of the one you love.

After recent traumatic events, Olly is finding it hard to get his head around what happened. While he tries to deal with a maelstrom of emotions, renovations at The Edge are in full flow, alongside preparations for tenth anniversary celebrations. Joe, his Dom, recognizes Olly’s delicate state of mind and does his best to reassure him. A trip to the New Forest with their friends, Aiden and Heath, helps the healing process.

Returning home, Olly and Aiden focus on preparations for the party. When Aiden is called away, Olly takes a walk to clear his head, keeping his eye on a brewing storm. To his horror, he discovers Mark Vickery, an old enemy, has landed on the island by boat and is out for revenge.

With Olly missing and the storm raging, Joe, Heath and Aiden set out on a rescue mission that unfolds in a way none of them expected. Can the storm wash away the past or will Olly and Joe’s future be destroyed by a twist of fate?

Excerpt from Binding the Edges

Olly tilted his head back to get a proper look at Joe’s face. Joe’s expression gave no indication of remorse or guilt, just his usual serene certainty that everything was under control. His control. He pressed a finger against Olly’s lips preventing him from forming them into a pout.
“Who knows what’s best for you, sweetheart?”
Olly ducked his head, escaping Joe’s finger. “You do, Sir.” In Olly’s mind, nothing was more certain. Joe only ever acted in Olly’s best interest, even to his own detriment. “But you don’t have to worry about me.”
“That’s for me to decide, Oliver. After everything you’ve been through recently I didn’t want you to be on your own.”
“Because you’re a psychologist and you were analyzing me?” Olly asked.
“No, because you needed a friend. I know what you’d do if you had too much time on your own to think. You’d mull over every detail of what happened and start to blame yourself, wish you’d handled things differently. Then you’d start worrying about all the what ifs with that creative imagination of yours, and end up having nightmares for weeks.”
“You know me too well, Sir.” Olly nuzzled against Joe’s chest, absorbing his warmth.
“I have better things to do with you in bed than watch you toss and turn in your sleep.”
“Yes, Sir.”
“So no sulking with Aiden. He’s a good friend.”
“The best. Now I understand why he didn’t run away when I interrogated him about what he and Heath got up to last night. I think you did me a favor, Sir.”
“That grin is far too wicked. I suspect you need to be punished.” “Ooh, yes please!”
“But you have packing to finish because we need to get on the road if we’re going to make it to Hampshire in time for dinner.”
“You’re no fun, Sir.” Olly was torn between wanting to play with Joe and his curiosity about their destination. He would also get to see Carey and Alistair. Maybe some of his other friends, too. “What do you want me to take?”
Joe gave him a curious glance. The press of Joe’s fingers under his chin tilted Olly’s head back. “This isn’t like you. Usually you’d have two enormous suitcases stuffed to bursting by now. What’s going on?”
“Sorry, Sir.” Tears that seemed to come all too quickly stung Olly’s eyes.
“Hey, now. None of that.” Joe kissed away a tear. “Are you having a tough time making decisions at the moment?”
Olly nodded. He worried that if he spoke he’d have a full-on nuclear meltdown. “Well, it’s a good job you have me, isn’t it?”
Olly bobbed his head, feeling a bit like a nodding dog toy. His head felt too heavy for his neck and a wave of exhaustion washed over him. He wanted to grab a pillow, one that smelled of Joe, hug it tight and drift off to sleep.

Buy Links for Binding the Edges

Pride Publishing: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/binding-the-edges
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2hOjlUS
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2ivuE57

Bio

LM lives in a small village in the English countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, cows and sheep. She started writing to fill time between jobs and is now firmly and unashamedly addicted.
She loves the English weather, especially the rain, and adores a thunderstorm. She loves good food, warm company and a crackling fire. She’s fascinated by the psychology of relationships, especially between men, and her stories contain some subtle (and some not so subtle) leanings towards BDSM.
LM is winner of the National Leather Association’s Pauline Reage Award for best novel and the 2016 Golden Flogger Award for best BDSM novel in the LGBT category. She has received multiple Honorable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards and won the Action and Adventure category of Divine Magazine’s Book Awards in 2015. You can track her down online here:

Pride Publishing page: https://www.pride-publishing.com/author/lm-somerton
Website: http://www.lmsomerton.com
Blog: http://www.lmsomerton.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lmsomertonwrites/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lmsomerton
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/lmsomerton/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/L.M.-Somerton/e/B00AV9XRW8

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First of all – Happy New Year!!

secondly – yes I wrote!!

So exciting because it takes me ages, but in this case I had the incentive to be quick because I was writing with the amazing Charlie Cochrane!

If you’ve ever wondered what might happen when you nail up a nervous plotter and a cheerful pantser in the same barrel, wonder no more. The result is below.

As promised, here for anyone who wants to download it, is our bit of mutual fanfic:

Spies, Planes and Automobiles

In which Miles Siward is dragged up to the nines on an edgy assignment that goes belly up, just at the moment when two gentlemen academics are on hand to pull his nuts out of the fire for him.

Download Here

I hope you enjoy it!

In case that doesn’t work, here it is again on Charlie Cochrane’s free fiction page, and theres a LOAD of stories there so well worth a look.

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comfy chair

In November, at Manifold Press’s Queer Company event, I was delighted to meet new-to-me author Michelle Peart who was attending with her family. Michelle’s debut New Adult novel had just been released and it looks absolutely terrific.

I’m very glad to host her today so I can get to know here a bit better.

Welcome Michelle!

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

When I was at school I was a shy kid who tried to disappear into the walls. But I was highly artistic with a vivid imagination and an avid reader. At that time, writing was something that was a means to an end and to write creatively just didn’t enter my head. Wind on many many years and I watched a TV programme that I didn’t like the ending of, so I re-wrote it and experienced great pleasure in doing so. That led to taking five writing courses over three years, two of the later courses were at an advanced level. I passed all with distinction. During the last course I began to write To the Left of Your North Star which grew from taking a long walk along the banks of a copper river.

Do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

In-between writing and family I work as a graphic designer with my most recent work being the new book covers for Manifold Press.

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

I enjoy Amateur Dramatics, I mainly help to create the sets and paint the scenery. I’ve painted, amongst others, a Norwegian fiord, a Paris skyline, and desolate moorland. But I have done a wee bit of acting and have become a sassy American photographer, a turn-of-the-century housemaid, and just recently a rather convincing WPC. The group also provide you with the opportunity to write plays – unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to take them up on the offer.

What are you reading?

I’m currently reading a friend’s manuscript. It’s a thriller, which, as a fantasy reader and writer, is a genre I don’t normally read, but I’ve enjoyed dipping into a different world.

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

For me, it was a river! Then the characters came along, and following them, the plot.

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?

Burn arrived fully fledged, I knew who he was, his flaws, his passion, how he spoke, how he felt, what he looked like. But Edward required a lot more work. Initially, because I knew Burn so well, he was going to be my POV character but then I realised that Edward would experience the most upheaval so he had to be my POV. I wrote a whole backstory for him, I even wrote down what he carried in his pockets, and then I trawled Google images until I found an image of a young man that I felt fitted Edward, I pinned the image onto the wall above my computer. He’s still there now, glowering at me.

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

I have a keen interest in history so I would love to write an historical novel. But I’m a scared as it’s a huge undertaking to make sure you have all the details correct. I recently attended the fascinating panels at Manifold’s Queer Company event where various authors discussed writing historical fiction – thought-provoking stuff but scared me even further!

I wouldn’t write horror; I simply can’t get on board with gore and violence.

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?

It’s got to be DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. With Rip, Firestorm, Atom, White Canary, Steel, Hawkgirl, Heatwave, and Captain Cold behind me, all baddies would turn and run with their tails on fire… or frozen.

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?

A villain who you can’t see – the best friend, the inner demon, the hidden in plain sight, the one you don’t expect, the shadowy ones.

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.

At the moment I’m writing a New Adult Urban Fantasy called Brennar. The title protagonist is a young man with a painful secret that lives in the sewers below a city under siege. I’m also compiling a story for Manifold Press’ WW2 anthology, Call to Arms.

 

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

 

Here’s an excerpt from To The Left of Your North Star

The problem was, simply put, that I didn’t feel what my father felt. In fact, I didn’t give a fuck about the planet with its backwards and frankly sex-obsessed natives and total lack of creature comforts.

My father waved once in farewell. I ignored him, tilted my head back, and rolled my neck. My head hurt and the annoying native boy’s humming added to the symphony of pain.

“Wave goodbye, Ed-ward.” Burn’s voice rang with merriment as he rammed his push pole into the sandy bank and heaved the Copper Queen into the twisting flow of the river. The raft jolted. I tumbled off the barrel, sprawled at Burn’s feet and looked up into his stupid grinning face. He flashed his eyebrows and laughed. I so wanted to punch him, but I couldn’t get off this hellhole of a planet without him.

I stood and my legs felt like pistons on the twisting deck. I looked back towards the Fire Glade. The sun was creeping up behind the Mountain of Bones, throwing long bronze reflections across the river’s surface. For a second, I forgot about the annoying boy and saw the beauty my father had talked about my whole childhood. A tiny stab of regret prompted me to wave goodbye but he’d already turned towards the crannog. He entered the dwelling and never gave the river, or me, a second glance. Maybe the famous explorer Herb Kemp was glad to be free of his problem, the embarrassing son. I was no chip off the old block.

Burn steered towards the calmer waters at the edge of the river. My guide appeared to be around my age, perhaps younger. He had a wild look to him with large eyes, cheekbones sprayed with freckles and hair the colour of the river. Long limbed and scruffily dressed, like badly pegged washing, with a bow strung across his narrow frame and an intricate pendant swinging from his neck. I assumed that all the furs in the tent must be the result of his hunting skills.

Burn winked as I caught his eye.

I curled my fists – fighting was always my go-to reaction. Everyone in the Fire Glade appeared to be bedding everyone else. If the bloody native thought he could try it on with me, then he had another think coming. I don’t do, and never will do, boys.

A look crossed Burn’s face as he showed me his open palms. “Lighten up, Ed.”

“It’s Ed-ward.” I sagged and gestured across the horizon. “What do you do on Abaytor? Why is it called that anyway?”

“Abaytor means second in our language, so that was the word your father chose. We call it Heras.”

Typical. Earthlings conquer and rename, whether it’s a tiny island in the middle of the ocean or a whole bloody planet.

Burn jabbed the pole into a shallow reed bed and shoved in the opposite direction. “I look after the bees. The ones your father and his companions have come to study.”

“A beekeeper?” I gave Burn a pitying look. He clearly didn’t aim high up the career ladder. I, on the other hand, was after the job of my father’s best friend – chief executive officer of the Westcoast Bank.

“Well, I suppose. They are rare gold-tipped bees only found in the Mountain of Bones. Their honey has healing qualities not found anywhere else on Abaytor or – ”

Zoning out, I stared at my wet feet. I missed my friends; they’d agree with me that my situation was pants and I had every right to complain. And my bloody mobile wouldn’t work; this God-forsaken planet hadn’t invented the radio yet, never mind the telephone.

“What do you do, Ed, when you are not accompanying your father on his trips?”

I ignored him.

“Edward?”

Good God, the boy was persistent. “I don’t do anything and I don’t make a habit of accompanying him.”

“What is it like having a famous father? I understand he is well known on your planet.”

Fighting an urge to push Burn overboard, I said, “It’s just peachy,” before muttering, “My father’s not paying you to ask questions, just to take me to the Landing Plains.”

“Your father is not paying me at all.”

“You’re doing this for free? You’re mad.” Never do anything for nothing, is what my father taught me. Oh, and never let your left hand know what your right is doing. I still don’t know what that means.

“Having now made your acquaintance, I think I probably am mad.” Burn smiled and rammed the pole into a nearby bank.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To the Left of Your North Star 

The self-assured Edward has accompanied his father, famous explorer Herb Kemp, to Abaytor. Herb is on a mission to save Earth’s bee population, but Edward couldn’t care less and just wants the comforts of home. Burn, an off-kilter Abaytorian with a desire for change, is charged with escorting Edward down the Copper River to Herb’s spaceship. As they travel through perilous lands on a makeshift raft, they are in a constant battle with the river, themselves and each other. Edward’s problems with his father are laid bare as they are hunted, starved, almost drowned, and confronted by difficult choices. But, among the striking landscapes and colourful people of Abaytor, Edward slowly learns about trust, self-acceptance and love.

Buy Links: ARe | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Smashwords

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Author Bio:

I am a writer, a designer, and lover of the fantastical. During the past two years, I have completed four writing courses, two at an advanced level, and passed all with Distinction. To the Left of Your North Star will be my debut novel.

 

You may follow me on my Blog: https://thecopperriver.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter as @ShellPeart, or on Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/mkpeart/

 

 

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comfy chairMy guest today is an author that I first met at this years UK Meet, and I most most intrigued to hear about his first release, The Necessary Deaths, which came out on the first of November and which I, for one, am gagging to read.

Please join me in welcoming David Dawson.

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Hello, David. 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 work as a documentary film maker. I was with the BBC for about twenty years, firstly as a trainee journalist then in television making documentaries, before going freelance. I’ve filmed all over the world, as a director and a producer, most recently making educational and charity videos.

I’m still producing videos, but my son is steadily taking that over from me, although I do some camera operating for him sometimes; it’s great being directed by your son!

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

I sing bass with the London Gay Men’s Chorus. They’re a great bunch of guys and they’ve been my strength and support over the last few years. We’ve sung in all sorts of places including: at Sandi Toksvig’s wedding to Debbie, at the West London Synagogue for World Aids Day, in St Paul’s Cathedral for Age UK and outside the House of Lords when the House debated the Equal Marriage Bill. Next year we’re off to New York and Chicago to sing alongside the Gay Men’s Choruses there. No, I’ve not written about the Chorus – yet. Look out for their appearance in a future mystery!

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

I’m re-reading Holding the Man by Timothy Conigrave. I’d read it a few years ago, and when I saw they’d made a film of the book, I worried they’d spoil it. Not at all. If you see the film, or read the book, be ready to weep buckets!
I aspire to the beautiful prose style of Armistead Maupin. He just gets better and better. His more recent books surpass the early Tales of the City books. Those early books were great fun, but it’s clear that with maturity, comes reflection and insight.

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

Oh that’s a tricky one, because they’re like Siamese triplets. They’re inseparable. I suppose for me the plot and core characters are born pretty well simultaneously. That is, I know who’s going on what journey and where they’re going to end up. Once I’ve fleshed out the characters in my head and on paper, I invent situations for them to deal with, on the journey through the book. Then the supplementary characters evolve, as the plot evolves. Sometimes I’ll experience a situation with someone in real life, then I’ll work out how to write it into a book.

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 like to spend time on developing histories for all my characters, I use pictures a lot for that, and names are very important. Once I set those, I’ll go for a ride on my motorbike, or cycle somewhere, and think about the character and about what has already happened to them. It helps so much in creating their motivation for doing things, or explaining why they react in a certain way to new situations. Once I’m writing the story, I’ll add to that back-story as events unfold. I have a spreadsheet full of character descriptions and images, to remind me when I forget what colour their hair is!

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

I’ve got an idea for a series in the science-fiction/supernatural genre, which I’m developing at the moment. There was a BBC drama series many years ago called “Out of the Unknown” which had a huge influence on me.

It took ordinary everyday circumstances, and then twisted them slightly, creating daytime nightmares. I think they’re far spookier than the usual night-time stuff.
I don’t think I’m cut out for historical drama/romance. My son’s the historian, not me! That said, I’ve been thinking about a thriller series set around The Chilterns during the Second World War. The Ministry of War had some very interesting places tucked away in this countryside, including what was called “Churchill’s Toyshop”, where boffins invented all sorts of amazing devices to defeat the enemy.

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?
Pretty well all decent novels are relationship driven. Even Tom Hanks, the lone survivor in Castaway, had the inanimate volleyball Mr Wilson to talk to!

The Necessary Deaths has a strong romantic plotline in the developing relationship between Dominic and Jonathan. The extraordinary circumstances that they’re plunged into test their relationship and develop it further, in a way that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise. I give the romantic story plenty of room to breathe, because it’s integral to the thriller. The romance between Dominic and Jonathan is what motivates them to react in the way they do.

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?

Yes, I have acute OCD on this! I have a spreadsheet full of detail and photographs about every character, even the minor ones. As soon as I write a new piece of description in the story, I add it to the spreadsheet. Photographs of people also help me imagine their back-stories, and how they might react to situations. One of my favourite tasks is to spend an evening scouring the internet for photographs of gorgeous men who might fit certain characters! It can be very distracting…

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?

George Clooney can come to my rescue! Every time. He’s been a hero of mine ever since he rescued the boy from the storm drain in episode seven, season 2 of ER. In fact, I’m such a big fan, he’s a major character in a short story of mine that Dreamspinner Press is publishing in its Love Wins Anthology for Orlando this December.

But you want a team? Well, I think Dame Maggie Smith would stand up to any mugger, any day! She and George would make a fabulous team. In fact, I wonder why they haven’t been paired on screen already!

clooney-smith

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?

Villains have got to be credible, so they need reasons for being bad. No one is all good, or all bad.

In The Necessary Deaths, the principal villain is motivated by ideology, and is very bad. But they still have a seductive side, which makes them intriguing and even appealing. Everyone has the capacity to be a villain, circumstances and back-story dictate whether the transformation to the dark side happens or not. In the second Dominic Delingpole Mystery I’m tackling this whole issue, which I think is fascinating.

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.

The Dominic Delingpole Mysteries will unfold over five books. I’ve plotted the overarching story, and I’m just finishing the second book in the series. I’m also working up the World War Two science fiction tale in the background, it’s quite a juggling act I can tell you!

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

From The Necessary Deaths:

“Mrs. Gregory,” said Dominic. “I would be very happy to have you as a client, but I’m not sure in what way I can act for you.”

Samantha smiled. “And neither am I just at the moment. Let’s call you a professional friend. I have no one else who I can turn to, and your legal mind will help me to see things a little more clearly. As you can tell, I’m a little emotional just now.” She turned away to wipe a tear from the corner of her eye. Then she looked at him steadily.

“Simon and I are very close. Ever since Richard, his father, died in a climbing accident, we have been a very tight family unit. I’d like to think Simon and I can tell each other everything.”

Dominic wondered if she was keeping up a brave front, or whether she really believed Simon told her everything. Her comments clearly contradicted what Simon’s housemate Jay had said an hour ago. Dominic decided that, as she was his client, he owed her the duty of honesty, and he should tell her about what he had learned in the last few hours.

“Samantha, I’m afraid I believe Simon may not have confided everything in you in recent times. I went to see John this morning before coming here. He told me about their relationship and how Simon was not yet ready to tell you.”

Samantha smiled.

“Dominic, I’m his mother. Do you think that I didn’t know?” She sighed. “I knew he was finding it difficult to tell me, and I was waiting for him to pick the right time. I didn’t want to rush him.” She paused. “But yes, you’re right, and I am wrong. Simon hasn’t confided everything to me; I merely know and am waiting for him to tell me. John is a lovely boy, and I was just pleased to know that Simon is happy.”

Samantha narrowed her eyes slightly as she asked, “But why do you think that means he must have kept other secrets from me? Surely you of all people must know how difficult it is to come out?”
Dominic blushed briefly. “Everyone’s circumstances are different, of course, and for young people it really is much easier….”

“Oh nonsense! Can I just say that I think it’s a bit rich for you to judge Simon when you’re so secretive about yourself? We spent nearly three hours in the car together last night, and I still don’t know whether or not you have a boyfriend!”
This time Dominic’s face turned crimson.
“Samantha, could we just get back to—”

“Well, do you?”

Dominic sighed. “I think it’s my turn to acknowledge that I am wrong. Yes, I do have a partner, and no, I am not very open about it. In this day and age, it probably is unnecessary for me to be quite so discreet. But after a while, it gets to be almost a habit.”

Samantha giggled. “Oh, Dominic, how delightfully bashful you are! I imagine that it’s rare you have a conversation like this with your clients.”

Dominic smiled. “Samantha, I can tell you truthfully that I have never had a conversation like this with my clients. You must meet Jonathan some time. I think you two would get on like a house on fire.”


A young journalism student lies unconscious in a hospital bed in Brighton, England. His life hangs in the balance after a drug overdose. But was it attempted suicide or attempted murder? The student’s mother persuades British lawyer Dominic Delingpole to investigate, and Dominic enlists the aid of his outspoken opera singer partner, Jonathan McFadden.

The student’s boyfriend discovers compromising photographs hidden in his lover’s room. The photographs not only feature senior politicians and business chiefs, but the young journalist himself. Is he being blackmailed, or is he the blackmailer?

As Dominic and Jonathan investigate further, their lives are threatened and three people are murdered. They uncover a conspiracy that reaches into the highest levels of government and powerful corporations. The people behind it are ruthless, and no one can be trusted. The bond between Dominic and Jonathan deepens as they struggle not only for answers, but for their very survival.

Buy Links:
Dreamspinner | Amazon UK | Amazon US | B&N | iTunes

BIOG:

David C. Dawson is an author, award-winning journalist and documentary maker, living near Oxford in the UK.
He has travelled extensively, filming in nearly every continent of the world. He has lived in London, Geneva and San Francisco, but now prefers the tranquillity of the Oxfordshire countryside.
David is a Mathematics graduate from Southampton University in England. After graduating, he joined the BBC in London as a trainee journalist. He worked in radio newsrooms for several years before moving to television as a documentary director. During the growing AIDS crisis in the late eighties, he is proud to say that he directed the first demonstration of putting on a condom on British television.
After more than twenty years with the BBC, he left to go freelance. He has produced videos for several charities, including Ethiopiaid; which works to end poverty in Ethiopia, and Hestia; a London-based mental health charity.

David has one son, who is also a successful filmmaker.

In his spare time, David tours Europe on his ageing Triumph motorbike and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus. He has sung with the Chorus at St Paul’s Cathedral, The Roundhouse and the Royal Festival Hall, but David is most proud of the time they sang at the House of Lords, campaigning for equal marriage to be legalized in the UK.

You can follow David at the following sites:
Facebook | Twitter | Website | Blog

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comfy chairMy guest today is a man I have known for over a decade – I even used to beta read for him way back in the dim and distant past before his first runaway successes in M/M romance.

Welcome B.G.

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

BG: I have an Evil Day Job! OMG! I’ll write a novel about the place someday. Let’s leave it at that and talk good stuff. I live in Kansas City—that’s Missouri and not Kansas—with my husband. We’ve been together over fifteen years, two of them legally married. I have a grown daughter and two wonderful little dogs (my daughter is pretty darned wonderful as well).

I love to read, just about every genre you can name, including fantasy, horror, science fiction, adventure, mysteries and of course, romance! I came to the last late though. My Mom read Harlequin and Silhouette Romances all my life, but I never read them. It was as an adult that a friend introduced me to a wonderful book called A Knight in Shining Armor—a time travel romance novel—by Jude Deveraux, and boy, I was hooked!

Growing up and reading all those genres, especially literature, had a heavy influence on my romance writing. I am a pure romantic, believe me. But I come to romance as the natural life of the novel rather than the Harlequin angle. Not that there is a darn thing wrong with those romances. They give so much hope. But I’m ignorant of the formula. It means some people love my stories, and some wish for a little less…angst! LOL!
I also write about gay men. I write what I know. My gay men do the things that gay men do. And again, sometimes people love that, and some wish for a little bit more…Harlequinism! LOL!

Elin: You’ll have to define Harlequinism for me some time. I’ve always assumed that gay men do things like pay their taxes, walk the dog and do laundry, in between, in the stories I read, being incredibly heroic under trying circumstances. Maybe we read different types of book? What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

BG: Two books actually (I do that a lot). Janet Evanovich’s Plum Spooky, a very fun mystery, and John Inman’s most recent Belladonna Arm’s novel, Ben and Shiloh. Delightful! Loving it! I don’t have a lot of time to read between writing and working all the hours I do at my Evil Day Job, but I have discovered Stephen King’s advice is absolutely true. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” So I find time to read. Reading has made me the writer I am today.

Elin: 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?

BG: With each book I write, I make what I called a “concordance.” As I write, I jot down the car and its color, the dog’s name, etc. I learned a long time ago I had to do that. Otherwise I made all kinds of mistakes. Once a character was an only child in the first chapter and had a sister in chapter nineteen. We caught in the galley weeks before it went to print! Learned my lesson there.

And with Winter Heart being a part of a four book series—Seasons of Love—and with each book being quite thick, I had to keep extensive notes. There was a lot to keep track of. And I still forgot stuff. I am thankful for beta readers with minds like steel traps!

Elin: Did you find it hard to maintain character voice and keep it true over the whole series. Especially bearing in mind that it’s several years since book one came out?

BG: You know it really didn’t. I mean, they are all pretty distinctive. I forgot a few of their little quibbles or gestures (who was it that waggled his eyebrows and who was it that could raise only one) but I would often go and read the first chapter of the preceding books and that is all it took. Each book of the series begins with what the four best friends call “Porch Night.” It is the night that no matter how busy they are, they promise to never miss getting together. They carry on and camp it up and have a general good time. Reading that would always toss me right into character with a snap. And the more I wrote about them, even though it has been over two years since I wrote that first book, the books are thick. I really came to know them. It was a pleasure to keep going back to them. And I hope it is for the reader too!

Elin: Heroes are great, and they ar what the majority of readers are reading for, but I have to admit to a great fondness for secondary characters. You can tell a lot about a hero from how he treats people he isn’t hot for! Which of the secondary characters in your series is your favourite?

BG: That’s a hard one. Because quite a few of those secondary characters later wind up being the love interest of a main character’s, making them main characters as well. For instance, the young Samoan named Peni who is a friend of Scott’s in the first book, Spring Affair, winds up becoming the love interest of Asher in the third book, Autumn Changes.

Then there are characters that I create originally more as tertiary (or do they create themselves?) that really do take on a life all their own. For instance, Blue—one of the “bad dates” in my novella Bianca’s Plan—has wound up showing up over and over again. He insists! I’ve come to love the little guy, and I’ve gotten quite a few requests to write his story.

Oh! And I adore Peter Wagner. He first showed up in The Boy Who Came in from the Cold, and he’s popped up several times since. He has been in my head since I was about eighteen and it was wonderful when he finally found himself in print. God, he holds a special place in my heart. I can’t wait for him to show up again.

Elin: I think Peter was a strong and benign presence in the first story you showed me, way back in 2003!!
Villains are incredibly important in fiction, too, since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. But there are all kinds of villains besides the mainstays of M/M romance – evil exes or scheming, predatory women. Your heroes may have to contend with the cruel sea, a serial killer, society itself or your hero may have inner demons that threaten his happy ending. What sort of villains do you prize?

BG: When this question started, Howard leapt to my mind. He was certainly a villainous presence in Wyatt’s life through my Seasons of Love series. But by the time of my new novel, Winter Heart, he is mostly gone. But then you finished your question and it turned very interesting indeed. Yes! The villain doesn’t need to be a specific person, or even a human at all. In Winter Heart small town life is a villain. A crazy father. Religion, when it turns wrong. Fear. Sickness. And a blizzard. And in the long run, that’s the villains I prefer. Because most of the time, when the villain is human—they don’t perceive themselves that way. And they can change. And that is what I find very interesting indeed.

Elin: 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?

BG: I don’t want to talk about something that I am actually writing, but I can tell you what you can expect to see from me next. For instance, a few years ago I wrote a novella called Trust Me. I love that story, but… It wasn’t what I wanted. I was limited by a word count on that book and there was a lot I wanted to do and say that I didn’t get to. When the publisher that bought that story from me went out of business—and that was a sad day—I was very pleased when Dreamspinner Press picked it up. But more than that, they gave me the word count I originally wanted. I didn’t think that story was bad, but I was very happy that I got to metamorphize it into the book I had always wanted to write. Now it’s called Do You Trust Me? and I am very proud of it!

Before that you will see my very first co-authored story which is coming out for Christmas. It’s called Mele Kalikimaka and I wrote it with an up and coming young author named Noah Willoughby. He’s going to be someone to watch out for. The whole process went surprisingly smoothly and I can’t wait to see what people think.

And then after that? Why don’t be surprised if you see a little novel called Blue!

Elin: I remember beta reading Trust Me. I’m glad you had the chance to expand it. Now, could we please have an excerpt of something?

BG: You sure can! In the following scene we see Wyatt get an unexpected call from his sister where he finds out his past is sneaking up behind him….

Wyatt wasn’t home a half hour when his cell phone rang. When he saw who was calling, he froze. It was one of his sister’s two annual phone calls. He took a deep breath before he answered it. “Feliz Navidad,” he said cheerfully.
“Merry Christmas to you too, big brother.”
“Thank you, little sister.” He closed his eyes. The familiar conglomerate of emotions were swirling through him: love, hurt, loyalty, shame…. It was always this way.
“And how are you doing today?” she asked. Her voice was cheerful-as usual. Seemingly genuine. And despite everything, he believed she was being authentic. They’d been nearly inseparable as kids, and surely that was what really mattered. Not what came later.
“I’m pretty good,” he answered, deciding to tell her how he felt in this moment, and not the general feelings that had ruled over him the last few months. “Just got back from Sloan’s house. He and Max had me over for Christmas dinner. You should see the T-shirts they got me.”
Which she wouldn’t approve of, but what the shit.
“You mean your… Howard didn’t make his big dinner this year?”
There it was. Already. But at least she’d said his name. It was more than his parents had done-when they still spoke to him. They. Meaning her. His mother. His father hadn’t spoken to him in, what? Ten years? When his old man had said he’d been right all along. That Wyatt’s evil ways had led him to hellfire. To homosexuality. And worse. Thinking that he could find love with another man.
Might as well get it over with. Get it done.
“I’m-” His throat locked up.
Shit.
It wasn’t going to be that easy.
Deep breath.
“I’m… I’m not with Howard anymore,” he managed and found himself once more wrestling his grief back down into its place deep inside that room he’d made for it.
Wyatt heard a small intake of breath from the other end of the phone. He didn’t know if he really heard it or if it was just his imagination.
“I…. Wyatt, I….” Then a moment of quiet. Because what was she supposed to say? She was sorry? Because she wouldn’t be, would she? She wouldn’t be allowed to be. But then she surprised him. “Wyatt, I’m so sorry. Are you okay? How long has it been?”
“A couple of months,” he said, his voice miraculously not trembling. “He left me.” Kicked me out is what he did.
“Why didn’t you call?”
Why hadn’t he called? Really? “And hear you say, ‘Well maybe now you can find a nice lady and settle down and have a family’?”
“Oh, Wyatt.” She sighed. “Like that’s ever going to happen.” Long pause while Wyatt tried to figure out what to say to that. Then just before he could: “Although nothing’s impossible through our Lord.”
“Oh really, Wendy?” Wyatt laughed. It wasn’t a feel-good laugh. How many nights had he cried himself to sleep begging God to make him straight? Hundreds? And when He hadn’t done what Wyatt had prayed for, it was the final straw. It was what made him finished with his family’s religion forever. “Don’t even think it.” After all, you knew I was gay before I did. Which wasn’t entirely true. She was just the first to say it out loud.
Another sigh. Then she asked, “So is Sloan your new b-boyfriend?”
B-boyfriend? She could hardly say it. And she was the one who had thought it was so cool to have a gay brother. And could she be his best “person” if he got married? And wouldn’t it be hil-arious when their parents found out? “You’re supposed to carry on the family name,” she had said.
As it turned out, it hadn’t been hil-arious at all. Wyatt had always known that. It was part of why it had taken him as long as it had to admit to himself he was gay.
“Sloan is just a friend.” Well, hardly just a friend. “He’s my best friend in the world.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” she said. “We all need best friends. What did that movie say that Mom liked so much? In a cold world, you need your friends to keep you warm? Or something like that?”
The Big Chill. Except his mother only watched it when his father was out of town and couldn’t walk in on her. She wasn’t quite old enough to have been a teenager in the sixties. But her older sisters were, and they had played the music on their record players when she was little. She’d lived the sixties vicariously through them.”
“The Big Chill,” he said aloud. Then asked about her husband—the bastard—and her kids.
“Oh, goodness, Mary! She just got straight As. Can you believe it? A child of mine? Miss C Average Wendy Dolan? And my kid is making straight As?”
“That’s nice, Wendy.”
She sighed. “And then there’s Norman Jr. He’s in and out of trouble. Second grade and a terror. Sometimes I don’t know what we’re going to do with him.”
“You’ll think of something.” She was born to be a mom, if not a wife. And why wasn’t she mentioning her husband? “And Norman Sr?”
“Ummm… Norman is Norman, you know? His job at the dam is stressful. There was so much rain last year, and the lake was higher than it had been in years. It’s calmed down a little with winter, but you know….”
Wyatt didn’t know. Didn’t have a clue. He’d toured the dam, of course. What with Mountain Home, where he went to school, being so close to one of the biggest lakes in the country, there was no way to avoid school field trips there. Plus the fact that the little town where he grew up was so close he could walk to it. But what the workers actually did there had always been sort of a mystery to him. So no, he didn’t know what Norman did. Then there was the fact that he’d never met the man. He hadn’t met her kids either. And he figured he probably never would.
“He’s leading the men’s prayer group on Thursdays, and he’s applied to be a deacon. I’m sure he’ll get it. I can’t imagine them turning him down.”
“That’s nice,” Wyatt said, not thinking so in the least. The only thing he could think of that sounded worse than being a deacon in the Baptist church he was raised in was maybe being the guy who drove that truck that vacuum-sucked the shit out of the porta potties at Camp.
“He really likes it, Wyatt. He says it gives his life purpose. Oh, and now he’s doing outreach at the prison in Calico Rock. He goes once a week and leads a prayer group there too. He says it’s a wonderful thing to help those men turn from their criminal ways and seek the Lord.”
Wyatt shifted from one foot to the other and found himself thinking about eggnog and whiskey. Was he tipsy enough to listen to any more of this? He went to the kitchen to see what he had to drink. “I….” Wyatt coughed. “I would imagine that adds to his stress, though.” He looked around the kitchen. Oh, thank the gods. Some tequila was on the floor next to the stove. But what did he have to drink it with?
“I think it relieves his stress actually,” Wendy said.
“All that soul-saving,” Wyatt managed without choking. He didn’t have anything in the refrigerator that would go with tequila. Certainly not milk or the eggnog. Did the eggnog have whiskey? He didn’t think so. Did he have any Country Time lemonade?
“Yes,” Wendy said, and then there was a long pause.
Yes? Yes, what? He couldn’t remember what he’d asked her. Wyatt found a couple of single packets of Crystal Light pink lemonade. It would have to do. In the meantime he opened the bottle and took a slug of the tequila. He winced, shuddered. Gods! Blech! He coughed. Shuddered again. Cleared his throat. Began to make a glass of the Crystal Light. Tried to build up the courage to ask the question.
Thankfully Wendy took that out of his hands. “Momma and Daddy came over for Christmas dinner.”
“Wow,” Wyatt said. “You guys didn’t go over there?”
“Ahh…. No, Wyatt. Not this year. Mom helped, but Daddy…. Well….”
Well what? Wyatt wondered.
“Daddy’s been a little… funny lately.”
“Funny?” Wyatt asked. The last thing he had ever considered his father to be was funny.
“Well, they think he had a little stroke.”
Wyatt jerked. Almost knocked his glass over. “Wh-what?”
“A little one,” Wendy said quickly.
Wyatt’s heart was rushing. “A little one?”
“Yeah. He…. Well, the other day he got up and almost fell over. He said everything was… tilted. He was having trouble walking. And he was having a little trouble talking. Slurring his words, you know? Mom wanted to take him to the hospital, but he wasn’t having any truck with that. Until he did fall, that is, and we insisted. They couldn’t find anything at first, but then they thought he might have had a very minor stroke.”
Wyatt found he could hardly move. Strokes. Were they ever minor?
“His doctor said he should have gone to the hospital right away because there are drugs they can give you to help, but it’s got to be in the first three or four hours. But as Daddy said, I don’t know what good that would have done since they weren’t even sure he had one.”
Wyatt shook himself. “Is-is he okay now?” He reached for the tequila and added a good bit to his glass, put the bottle down and took a hefty drink before stirring. It was a mistake and he began to cough. Whoa! Strong!
“Anyway, that’s why they came to our place. Norman was a little mad at first. Until Momma said she’d already bought the turkey and everything so he didn’t need to buy anything. I just ran to Damview and picked up everything from her place. We didn’t have to buy anything except some Stove Top. You know Norman likes that better than the homemade stuff.”
Wyatt didn’t know that either and thought it sounded crazy. How could anyone like that boxed shit when they could have his momma’s stuffing?
He quite suddenly found himself missing that stuffing, even though he did a fairly good knock-off. He’d even made a change or two through the years: sage from Sloan’s mother’s garden and a can of black olives, chopped up real fine. Howard had loved it, anyway. And what the fuck was he doing thinking about black olives?
“H-how did he act?” Wyatt asked her suddenly. Gods. Why was his heart doing that little dance?
Unbidden he saw his father-clearly, as if he were right there—standing over him. Tall. Hair and thick mustache going gray. Those intense blue eyes-like they were chipped from a glacier. And how that mouth could smile… or frown. You didn’t want to see the frown.
“He seemed fine, though he got tired fast. He wanted to help drain the turkey-you know he always does that for Mamma—but with Norman here, there was no sense in that.”
“No. Of course not.” Wyatt took another drink of his pseudo cocktail-drank it slower this time. But it was a big drink.
“I think we can all breathe a deep sigh of relief,” Wendy said in seeming conclusion. “God is taking care of things. He always does.” But why didn’t she sound like she believed what she was saying? “At least now Daddy will pay attention. Dr. Shelvy insisted that he get to the hospital immediately if any symptoms reoccur. Counseled us all on what to watch for. Gave us literature and everything.”
“That….” Wyatt’s voice caught. Dammit! “Th-that’s good.”
“He’ll be fine, Wyatt. I’m sure he will be. Trust in Jesus.”
Trust in Jesus? Had she really said that? She wanted him to trust in Jesus? Wendy was blind and deaf and who knew what else. She would never learn. Never. Never see him for who he was. Chose not to.
And now the tears wanted to come. Fuck that!
Wyatt picked up the bottle again and took a swallow. He shuddered but didn’t cough. It didn’t stop the tears, though. At least these were caused by the booze, he told himself.
“What?” Wendy called out.
What?
“Yes. I’m on the phone. Yes.”
Wait. She wasn’t talking to him.
And then she was. “Look, Wyatt. I need to go.” And, “Yes, it’s my brother.”
Wyatt closed his eyes and leaned heavily against the kitchen counter.
“Wyatt, I’m sorry. I have to cut this short. Merry Christmas, big brother.”
Wyatt sighed, forced back his body’s traitorous desire to cry. “And a Happy New Year, little sister.”
“Yes, Wyatt. And that too.” Then, with no preamble, she hung up.
Wyatt stood there a long time without moving. Then he made a second cocktail with the last of the Crystal Light and took the full glass and the one he’d already drunk half of and went back to the living room.
He watched Friends. The episode called, “The One with Phoebe’s Dad,” and let the six people he was getting to know sweep him away. Who knew? Maybe Chandler and Joey would finally get it on. That would be hot!
That night he didn’t dream about Howard.

Wyatt wound up staying up just past midnight, having watched eight episodes that first night. They made him laugh. He needed to laugh. It was strangely better than beating off, and didn’t make him feel lonely when he was done.
Tonight he had just started watching a Christmas episode, “The One with Phoebe’s Dad”—second season, third?—when the doorbell rang. He looked at the front door in surprise—Phoebe was just commenting about the size of Ugly Naked Guy’s Christmas balls—then shrugged and got up to see who it was.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Winter Heart

Seasons of Love: Book Four

For over ten years, Wyatt Dolan defined himself as the lover of Howard Wallace. Howard made sure Wyatt’s self-worth depended on that role. So when Howard dumps him, he is lost at sea in a storm without a rudder. If it wasn’t for his supportive friends, he doesn’t know what he’d do. Finally, after a series of disasters, he escapes to Camp Sanctuary—a sacred place to him—where he can be alone, try to put his past behind him, and find a new direction for his life.

Kevin Owens is a lonely man. He is very intelligent—several apps he created have gone on to make him a comfortable living—but he is also quite shy and is uncomfortable making conversation. The death of his dear friend and former lover after a long illness leaves him grieving, confused, and adrift. Then a dream guides him to Camp Sanctuary, only to find that the one cabin with a wood-burning stove has already been reserved. And worse, by a man he’s had a secret crush on for years—Wyatt Dolan.

When a snowstorm knocks out power at the Camp, Wyatt and Kevin must share the same cabin to stay warm, and very soon, magickal things begin to happen.

BUY LINKS:

Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/winter-heart-by-bg-thomas-7662-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Winter-Heart-Seasons-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B01LZ1A97Q/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winter-Heart-Seasons-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B01LZ1A97Q/

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/winter-heart-6

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-winterheart-2140782-149.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ben-whB.G. is a novelist and blogger. Every day last year he made an entry in his blog, “365 Days of Silver,” where he found something every day to be grateful for. You can find it right here: https://365daysofsilver.wordpress.com/

B.G. loves romance, comedies, fantasy, science fiction and even horror—as far as he is concerned, as long as the stories are character driven and entertaining, it doesn’t matter the genre. He has gone to conventions since he was fourteen years old and has been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers. He has made up stories since he was child; it is where he finds his joy.

In the nineties, he wrote for gay magazines but stopped because the editors wanted all sex without plot. “The sex is never as important as the characters,” he says. “Who cares what they are doing if we don’t care about them?” Excited about the growing male/male romance market, he began writing again. Gay men are what he knows best, after all. He submitted his first story in years and was thrilled when it was accepted in four days.

“Leap, and the net will appear” is his personal philosophy and his message to all. “It is never too late,” he states. “Pursue your dreams. They will come true!”

Visit his website and his author blog at http://bthomaswriter.wordpress.com/ where you can contact him. He loves to hear from readers and is always quick to respond. You can also find his Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bgthomaswriter

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