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Today I’m more than delighted to welcome my very good friend guide and mentor, Charlie Cochrane, who is celebrating the release of her latest Cambridge Fellows story – Lessons in Loving Thy Murderous Neighbour – by sharing some thoughts about how the technological progress of the 20th century opened up all kinds of exciting possibilities for novelists.

There’s also a giveaway so read on:

People say the world is changing fast nowadays, but there have been periods in the past where the same would be true. One innovation happens—the steam engine, the internet, powered flight—and it opens the gates for a flood of inventions or changes to lifestyle that utilise that new technologies. Imagine when cavemen invented the wheel and all the possibilities that opened. (I wonder if the older generation of cave people shook their heads, tutted and said, “It’ll never catch on.”?)

The late 19th and early 20th century saw many changes to both technology and society, and even the University of Cambridge and its colleges had to move with the march of time. In St John’s college, for example:

  • 1892 Electric light installed in hall, chapel and undergraduate reading room.
  • 1901 First Indian Oxbridge fellow elected (had to mention him as he was one of the inspirations behind my character Dr. Panesar.)
  • Also 1901 Telephone in the porters’ lodge!
  • 1911 Electric light installed in the rest of the college.
  • This may seem small beer to us, but gas/electric lighting had huge implications in terms of how buildings could be constructed. No longer did the layout have to make the most of natural light and no longer did readers have to squint over their books, struggling by the illumination of a candle or gaslight. The arrival of the telephone not only gave instant communication (assuming the person you wanted to talk to also possessed a connection, naturally) but would have been a boon to my gentlemen sleuths. No more waiting for a reply to a telegram, and having to accept its stilted format. Being able to hear the voice of someone miles away, to read into their intonation and words the subtle information that no abbreviated telegram or letter could convey. Making appointments to see people with an ease not available a generation before.

    Transport—the arrival of the internal combustion engine and man taking to the air—also changed life greatly, although maybe too late for the huge number of horses who were employed (and often died) in WWI. The horse drawn carriages of Jonty’s childhood have given way, at least on his driveway, to the automobile which doesn’t need stabling or grooming or feeding with hay. It also meant that he and Orlando had the freedom to go investigating at will locally, without relying on the train to get them there. And indulge in car chases, too, which adds excitement for their official biographer (me).

    I’m no Luddite, so I’m all for innovations that make a difference to people’s lives. People sometimes yearn for “the good old days” but would we really want to live in a time before antibiotics, heart bypass surgery, washing machines, equal rights and all the other things which make modern life great? However, modern technology makes things difficult for the writer. I have much more of a challenge producing a believable storyline for my contemporary series (Lindenshaw Mysteries) than I do for the Cambridge Fellows because I continually have to get around problems like, “Why doesn’t he just use his mobile to ring for help?” It’s much easier in the days when there was no CCTV, DNA profiling or internet databases.
    I wonder what Orlando would have made of those…

    Giveaway:

    Comment below for the chance to win an audio copy of Lessons in Love. One winner to be drawn from total comments from all blog tour stops.

    Other stuff:

    Biog: Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Lethe and Bold Strokes, among others.
    A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.

    Title: Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour (m/m mystery)

    Blurb: Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being given a mystery to solve. But what happens when you have to defend your greatest enemy on a charge of murder?

    Buy links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

    Excerpt:

    Cambridge 1922
    “Owens? Owens?” Orlando Coppersmith’s voice sounded louder, and clearer, from his chair in the Senior Common Room at St Bride’s than it had ever sounded before. And with good cause.
    “Steady on, old man. We’re in enough of a state of shock without you making sufficient noise to wake the dead.” Jonty Stewart smiled at his friend’s uncharacteristic outburst. Although friendship would hardly be the most accurate way to describe their relationship. Even the description “lovers, companions, colleagues and partners in solving crime” didn’t quite cover the depth of the bond they’d build up in nigh on twenty years. If their hair bore the odd silver thread, their ardour hadn’t cooled.
    “Wake the dead or, harder still, wake some of the dons,” Dr. Panesar agreed, mischievously.
    “Good point, Dr. P.” Jonty sniggered. “Some of them give the impression they’ve been asleep since 1913.”
    A quick glance around the oak panelled room supported his assertion. St. Bride’s may have been one of the most forward looking of the Cambridge colleges, embracing the fact the year was 1922 rather than pretending it was still 1622, but some aspects of the university, including crusty old dons, seemed to be an immutable fixture.
    “In which case,” Orlando pointed out, “we’d have ten years of history to explain to them, much of it unpleasant, let alone this latest scandal. St. Bride’s men being asked to defend Owens. What is the world coming to?”

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    Now available – a cracking action adventure from Lisa Worrall.

    Looking For Jesse

    Blurb:

    Life is full of decisions and it’s the split-second ones that change your world forever.

    Nick Shepherd made such a decision on the day his son, Jesse, was taken from a Christmas market in Naperville. The woman looked normal and had a son of her own, and he was only going to be a minute. But that minute was all she needed. His son was gone.

    A year later, the task force is being downsized and they are no closer to finding Jesse than they were the day he disappeared. At his wits end, Nick is given a number and a name by the lead on the case.

    Ex-detective Frank Ford has issues, several of them. Two steps shy of a full-blown alcoholic, all he wants is to bury himself in the bottle. He’s doing a pretty good job of it, too, when Nick Shepherd asks for his help. Does Ford want to help? No. Is Ford going to help? Hell no. Until four words resonated deep within him.

    “She took my son!”

    Excerpt:

    Tapping the woman in front of them on the shoulder, Nick made an executive decision.
    “Excuse me,” he said as she turned around. “My son left his mitten at the seating area over there but I don’t want him to miss his turn. Would you mind watching him for a minute while I run over and find it?”
    The woman’s kindly brown eyes took in Jesse’s tear-soaked face and the length of the line then smiled. “Of course,” she replied. “But be quick, I think they’re rushing the kids through so they get in as many as they can before closing.”
    “Like there’s fire coming out of my as—sorry, butt—sorry.” Nick stumbled over the words but she only laughed and waved her hand.
    “Go!”
    “Thanks,” Nick said gratefully and quickly hugged Jesse to him. “I’ll be right back, buddy, okay? You just stand here with this nice lady and I’ll be so quick you won’t even notice I’ve gone.”
    Jesse looked at him warily but the woman smiled and said, “He’ll be fine with me and Marcus, won’t you?” Jesse gave a hesitant nod and Nick hit the ground running.
    The mitten Gods must have been smiling down on him because he found it under the table where they’d been sitting almost immediately. He heaved a huge sigh of relief and dashed back to Santa’s Grotto, mitten held high like a victory torch so Jesse could see.
    Nick made good on his promise, he was back in just over a minute, if a little out of breath. Promising himself he’d tell Daisy to stop bringing in donuts to work, he headed to the front of the line. He smiled as he slowed his approach, not wanting to slip on the frozen ground. Nick was surprised to see Jesse still held the woman’s hand. Although Jesse was an affectionate kid, he was also very cautious and took a while to warm up to new people. A hand tightened around Nick’s heart. It had been a long time since Jesse had felt a motherly touch. Even when they’d sat on the couch watching TV, Jesse’s hand had always been curled around Anna’s.
    “I got it, dude!” Nick said jubilantly, putting his hand on Jesse’s shoulder. “It was right whe—”
    The words caught in his throat as the boy turned and so did the woman holding his hand. “Hey!” she yelled, pulling the boy toward her.
    “I’m sorry.” Nick held up his hands. “I thought you were… my….” He spun on his heel, his gaze flitting all around him. “Jesse!” His name echoed on the cold evening air. “Jesse! My son? Where’s my son?” Nick grabbed the woman’s forearm and her eyes widened in horror. “My son!” he repeated. What was wrong with her? Why was she looking at him like that?
    “Hey, man, take it easy.” That came from a big, bald man a couple of spaces down the line.
    Nick ignored him and shook the terrified woman. “My son, he was here. Right here. Where is he? You must have seen him!”
    “Sir, is there a problem?”
    Nick looked at the woman dressed in a short-skirted elf costume and the burly security guard behind her. He dropped the frightened woman’s arm and ran shaking hands through his hair. “My son,” he said again. Why was no one listening to him? “He was right here! Where is he?” He turned back to the dark-haired woman who now clasped her son to her tightly. “You saw him. You must have. He was with the other woman and the boy. I just went to find his… his mitten.” Nick waved it pathetically, the woolen mitten still clutched firmly in his fingers. “I found… it.”
    “The little blond boy?” the elf asked.
    “Yes!” Nick tried not to scream but panic, raw and heavy bubbled deep within him. He tried to push it down, but he could taste it in the back of his throat. “He was here. Right here. I was only gone—”
    “She left.”
    “She left?” Nick shook his head. “What do you mean she left? Where. Is. My. Son?”
    The elf turned her concerned gaze on the security guard, who stepped forward and put a firm hand on Nick’s shoulder. Spots dotted Nick’s peripheral vision as his brain tried to force him to accept what she was saying.
    “Sh-she said there was an emergency. That they had to go.”
    “Go?”
    “I-I thought you were together,” she stuttered. “Oh, my God. I didn’t know. I thought you were toge—”
    “Where is my son?” Nick knew what the answer was going to be, but he had to hear it. “Where is my son!”
    “Sh-she took him.”

    Looking For Jesse

    Buy Links:

    Amazon.com

    Amazon.co.uk

     

    Author Bio:

    Lisa in her own words:

    I live in Leigh on Sea, a small seaside town just outside London on the coast of Essex, about ten minutes from Southend, which boasts the longest pier in the world. I live with my husband and two ever-growing children, who I let think are the boss of me; along with two dogs who actually are.

    As the wonderful Beatrix Potter said, “There is something delicious about writing the first words of a new story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.” I know exactly what she means.

    Website: http://lworrall.blogspot.com/

    Facebook: Lisa Worrall Author

    Twitter: Lisa_Worrall

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    I’m so glad this book is being released again, keeping its original cover. I love it to bits, especially Jasper because I feel a real kinship for anyone who takes comfort from tottering towers of books. Also with Lewis’s wildly embarrassing parents. 🙂

    If you haven’t read it before, give it a go. There are riches within.

    Stories That Make You Smile

    View original post 410 more words

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    My guest today, Alexa Milne, isn’t known to me personally but I would so love to rectify that. How about it Alexa? Do you think you might make Queer Company 3 in 2018?

    Meantime, many thanks for playing along and 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 was born in Wales in the area where my latest book, While You See a Chance is set. I’ve lived in the north of England for a long time but am still passionate about being Welsh and supporting my national teams. I’m retired after teaching for thirty years which means I don’t have an evil day job.
    I started writing in 2009 when my favourite character was killed in Torchwood, my favourite show. I’ve written over a million words of fanfiction. I decided to try to write something original, and as I’d written m/m stories in fanfics, kept to that genre with my first novel, Sporting Chance.

    I try to write most days but I’m not the most disciplined of writers and often have times when I write a lot or a little. I plan a little and create an A3 sheet for each story which I jot down things about the characters, backstories, events, motivations and friends and family.

     

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

    I’m not sure whether this counts as a creative activity but I like researching family trees. I started doing my own way back in the eighties when you had to go to London and shift around their huge volumes or to local record offices which is my case took me to Cardiff, Newport, Worcester, Warwick, Taunton and Stafford and Lichfield.

    I’ve since done a lot of other peoples’ trees and it can be fascinating. You’ll find a bit about genealogy in While You See a Chance as Sion Goff has returned to Wales to help solve a family mystery he has discovered. What he finds astonishes him.

     

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

    I’m very much a punster with minimal plotting. Usually I get an idea of a meeting and the characters develop after that. Sometimes, there’s a setting as in another new book, My Highland Cowboy. The idea for that came from a TV programme and my love of Scotland. My WIP came from watching kitten cams as one of the MCs fosters kittens and this MC is based on a documentary I saw of a person who was adopted searching for his birth mother.

    As I write romance the end is the same but how I get the MCs together is another matter. Sometimes I throw in obstacles or the characters do it themselves. Some stories are more about keeping them together than tearing them apart. I love a bit of hurt/comfort and angst.

     

    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?

    Sometimes a character arrives fully formed at other times they reveal themselves. I’ve changed what a character looks like often when it simply doesn’t fit. The physicality of a character matters to me. I tend to write about ordinary men rather than those with the perfect abs. I keep a spreadsheet of characters which often gets edited in order to remember about eye and hair colour or height and size as well as notes on their backgrounds.

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

    I taught history and I’d love to write a historical story but so far a plot has eluded me except for one set around the murder of Lord Darnley which maybe I’ll write one day. I’d also like to write some f/f romance. I’ve written a few fanfiction stories and have a few ideas. I doubt I’ll ever write m/f. I’ve tried on occasion and my beta readers say it’s awful.

    What inspired you to write about older characters?

    I have two books out soon. Once thing I’d noticed about the m/m genre was the lack of older characters and heading towards sixty myself, I decided to write a second chances story about two men who had been childhood friends meeting again nearly forty years later. The story While You See a Chance, out on general release from 1st May with Manifold Press, came from that and developed into exploring being gay in three different generations.

    The inspiration for my other story, My Highland Cowboy, out on general release with Pride Publishing on 6th June, came from a report on the programme Countryfile about five years ago which discussed diversity in farming. I came up with the idea of an American style ‘dude’ ranch set in the Highlands of Scotland near Glencoe, an area I love. As I love opposites attract and MCs who’ve had to hide their feelings for some reasons, these ideas formed and drove the story.

    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 have a list in which I try to include everything about each character in the story. My main problem is continuity of story. In the edits, I always end up having to rewrite events. Perhaps I need a chapter spreadsheet for this as well.

    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?

    My ideal team would be Captain Jack Harkness, The Doctor, The Winchesters with Castiel and more surprisingly Crowley, any of the Avengers, Canary and Snart from Legends of Tomorrow, Buffy and Miles, and lastly, Hermoine and Peggy Carter. I’m a bit of a geek.

    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’ve not written any out and out villains but I love them in my favourite programmes. I love the characters who do good while retaining an element of being bad like Spike from Buffy, Loki from the Avengers, and Crowley from Supernatural.

    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 have two WIPs. Half Full is about an MC who fosters cats, is mixed race and was adopted when little. There are other things I won’t disclose. The other MC provides the title. Jonah was thrown out of a home ruled by his grandfather when he was fourteen for being gay. Luckily, he got help and inspiration for his career from the people who found him and he’s always been one of nature’s optimists and loves helping people, especially children and amateur dramatics and is somewhat larger than life. There is a romance but also a lot about discovery. This one is at 70K words and getting towards completion.

    The other WIP is about two younger men in their twenties, one a student and the other just graduated who meet on a bus. One has never considered himself interested in men but finds himself drawn to the other. There are lots of secondary characters and a secret one MC discovers which throws out every idea he’s ever had about his family. This one is at 20K and near the middle.

    Could we please have an excerpt of something? 

    Here is an excerpt from While You See A Chance.
    While You See a Chance

    “D’you want help with packing your shopping, sir?” the girl on the till asked in a sing-song voice typical of the area.

    “No, thanks, I haven’t got much.” He pulled off a few plastic bags, a difference from the usual brown paper of American supermarkets. In a hurry, he didn’t pay much attention to the people around until a voice, that came from so long ago, distracted him. He lifted his head.

    “You have to pay five pence each for those, sir. New rules.”

    Sion turned his attention back to the girl. “That’s fine. Don’t worry.”

    “You could get a bag for life, sir.”

    “Whatever’s easiest.”

    He glanced over to the other till in the direction of the voice where a large man stood stuffing his purchases into a bag. He stood well over six feet, with broad shoulders, which Sion supposed tapered down to narrower hips. A heavy suede coat covered the man’s rear, making it hard to tell. His luxuriant salt and pepper locks reflected the many shades that older ginger-haired men often had when mixed with grey. Strands curled over the fur collar of his coat. Something familiar about the man made Sion’s senses tingle.

    The assistant at the other till spoke to the customer. “That’ll be eighteen seventy-four please, Mr Price, and I’ll see you at parents’ evening tonight. I hope Jamie’s been behaving himself this term.”

    Sion’s breath hitched, and the girl on his till gave him a puzzled look as he turned away. The noise he’d made must have been more audible than he’d intended. Now he was absolutely certain of the man’s identity, even if he hadn’t seen his face. He leaned on the counter and took a deep breath, hoping to slow his racing pulse.

    “Are you all right, sir?” the girl asked. “I guess with that accent you’re not from around here. On holiday, is it? It’s a lovely part of Wales, even at this time of year. Lots to do.”

    “Yes, sorry, and no, I’ve just moved here,” he said, raising his head to meet her concerned gaze, but keeping his face down. “How much do I owe?”

    The girl told him and he handed over the money in a hurry, not wanting to lose sight of the other man. Sion followed his childhood friend until he stopped behind a Land Rover near the entrance. Shaking slightly, Sion moved nearer.

    “Phil?” he asked quietly, not wanting to make the man jump.

    “What the – ?” Phil stared at him then rubbed his eyes as if he couldn’t quite believe them.

    The shock on his friend’s face made Sion step back for a moment. He took in the figure in front of him. Phil had turned into a huge bear of a man, complete with beard. He’d always had the height, but now he had the breadth as well. Sion imagined his size might intimidate the small children in his charge. Now, Phil simply stared, his eyes wide with shock, then took a step backwards as if he’d seen a ghost.

    “It’s me, Phil,” Sion said. He supposed he’d also changed over the last thirty years. His hair, now grey, was cut short at the sides but longer on top. He’d put on a few pounds since his teens, but remained lean and wiry, although more through luck and genetics, than diet and exercise.

    “Bloody hell.” Phil continued staring, then put out his hand. Sion took it, and they stood shaking and saying nothing for an awkward moment. “My God, Sion, hmm, I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting … What on earth are you doing here? Are you here for Christmas?”

    “I’ve just bought a house locally. I’m back to stay. I guess I’m the last person you expected to find out shopping. Mind you, I could say the same for you. I thought you lived up north.”

    “I’ve been back four years. I’m head at a local primary school. When Helen and I got divorced, I decided to come home to Wales. So, why on earth are you here of all places?”

    Sion had to collect his thoughts and process that information. Phil and Helen had split up? Come on, get your act together. “I decided to move back after … It doesn’t matter for now, it’s a long story. Look, why don’t you and I have dinner tonight and catch up? There must be a decent local restaurant – unless you’re busy, of course. Sorry, that was presumptuous of me.”

    Phil lifted the bag into his car then slammed the boot closed. “No … I mean yes. I’m sorry, I can’t do tonight. I’ve got to get going. I slipped out at lunchtime to get a few bits and pieces for parents’ evening.”

    Sion heard the shake in his old friend’s voice, but resisted the temptation to reach out and touch him again. “It’s okay,” Sion said, reaching into his pocket for his wallet. He took out a change-of-address card. “I live here now. Call me any time.”

    Sion waited while Phil parked the trolley in the bay to the front of the building and returned to his car.

    “I will, but I’m not sure when. It’s a busy time of year, leading up to the holidays.” Phil glanced at his watch. “I’ve got to go.”

    Sion moved closer and this time touched the other man’s arm. “It’s so good to see you again.”

    Phil continued to stare at the ground, obviously unable to look him in the eye. “You too, but I must get off. I’ll call as soon as I can.” Phil jumped into his car without looking back.

    Sion watched the Land Rover pull out of the car park before returning to his SUV. Sitting in the driver’s seat, he reached for his wallet again. Tucked away inside, he found the photo he’d carried with him for over thirty years, taken the day before he went off on his own to Oxford University. Everyone had called them the Three Musketeers, himself, Phil and Helen, always together, sharing everything except their deepest darkest secrets. Sion had loved Phil with a passion, but had never told him. Phil and Helen had gone off together to Manchester University, and had married not long after they’d graduated. Not wanting to stay, Sion had emigrated to America to lecture in history at Yale.

    Leaning back in his seat, he thought back to the conversation he’d had with Helen the day before he’d left for Oxford. He’d often wondered if she ever told Phil about his confession that, being gay, he could never feel that way about her. Sion hoped she hadn’t. He’d been surprised to hear of their engagement, but hoped she’d come to love Phil. For the truth and tragedy of Sion’s life was that he’d only ever been in love with one person, and he’d just watched him drive away.

    While You See a Chance

    Blurb

    As children growing up in South Wales, Sion, Phil and Helen were known as the Three Musketeers, always together and never apart – but time moves on. Sion left to lecture in history at Yale. Phil married Helen because it seemed the obvious thing to do, and they settled down to life in Manchester.

    Now all three are approaching sixty. After the death of his partner, and wanting to solve a family mystery, Sion returns to his childhood home to start again. When Helen announces she wants a divorce, Phil also returns home, to a new teaching job, and to renovate the ruin of a house he and Sion once dreamed of living in.

    Neither man knows the other is back. Neither man knows how the other feels. With so much unsaid, and so many years apart, can Sion and Phil finally face the truth and take a chance on finding happiness together?

    myBook.to/WhileYouSeeAChance links to all amazon but just in case

    Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XW5694F/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1491058183&sr=8-3&keywords=alexa+milne

    Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XW5694F/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1491058376&sr=1-1&keywords=alexa+milne

    Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/714329

     

    My Highland Cowboy

    Blurb

    Duncan McLeish owns a ranch. Unlike most ranches, this one is in the Scottish Highlands. Having inherited a failing farm from his grandfather, he turns it into a successful business. He has friends, he loves his home, but he’s lonely, and not even infrequent trips to Glasgow and Edinburgh slake that thirst to find someone. Then Drew Sinclair walks into his life.

    Drew Sinclair is tantalizingly close to getting his clothes brand noticed in the industry. He and his business partner, Joy, design individual dresses, while on the side, Drew designs and produces a line of men’s lingerie. He visits Scotland to design dresses for his sister, Jenna, who is marrying Duncan’s best friend at Christmas.

    Duncan and Drew have nothing except their Highland upbringing in common, but they say opposites attract, and the attraction is immediate. Is this simply a summer fling, or can two men who live such opposite lives, miles away from each other, find a way to love?

    Publisher link for pre order from 25th April – https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/my-highland-cowboy

    Link to all Amazon – myBook.to/MyHighlandCowboy

    Author Info:

    Originally from South Wales, Alexa has lived for over thirty years in the North West of England. Now retired, after a long career in teaching, she devotes her time to her obsessions.

    Alexa began writing when her favourite character was killed in her favourite show. After producing a lot of fanfiction she ventured into original writing. She is currently owned by two mad cats and spends her time writing about the men in her head, watching her favourite television programmes and usually crying over her favourite football team.

    Links:

    Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/alexa.milne.5

    Twitter – https://twitter.com/Alexa_Milne

    Blog – http://alexamilne1234.blogspot.co.uk/

    Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8306423.Alexa_Milne

    Email – alexamilne1234@outlook.com

     

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    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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    I’m off to my compulsory Welsh class shortly – aka dosbarth Cymraeg gorfodol – but first I’m going to allow myself a bit of a squee. The Bones of Our Fathers [contemp m/m] is finally finished bar the annoying whizz through to insert missing commas and work out why Scrivener has exported it with all my italics as underscores instead. It’s a shade under 80k words and will probably be 80k when I’ve looked it over and added the inevitable “OMG they never mentioned that again” bits.

    And because that is nearly done, I thought I’d mention some of the other things in the pipeline.

    Calon Lan – only with the proper little ^ over the A – is with Manifold Press and will be published later this year. I think maybe August 1st but making no promises. This is the historical Great War m/m story told from the point of view of the sister of one of the protagonists.

    Manifold Press has a call out for submissions for a WW2 themed anthology called Call to Arms. I’ve got a story almost ready to go to submission for that.

    I’m a couple of thousand words into Eleventh Hour #2 – I’ve missed Miles and Briers – but I still have no title. I sort of fancy Midnight Departure because that happens. I think it will be shorter than EH#1 but who knows.

    Close Shave – sequel to Bones is around 35k words and I have bits and pieces and plans and plots for at least 4 more books and a couple of short stories.

    A Fierce Reaping [hist m/m set in post-Roman Britannia] is still at 65k words and needs 30k of those editing out and another 70k adding to tell the whole thing. Not sure what to do with that one. I’ve also got plots and plans and resources for The Hounds of the North [hist m/m 1st century Rome and Britannia] and The Shepherd’s Hut [hist m/m WW2 set near Eastbourne].

    Now I just need to get my head down and write.

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    Transgender Day of Visibility

    March 31st is the annual Transgender Day of Visibility and I think that it’s more important to celebrate it this year than ever.

    If you don’t already know, here is an easy peasy infographic to tell you why:

    I would be very interested in hearing how the experiences described in that picture compare with the experiences of transgender individuals in the UK. I would hate to think that things are as bad here, especially since, according to the Independent, the number of British people who wish to change their gender has soared.

    I should say that ‘wish’ is the wrong word there. It should be ‘need’ and nobody should suffer for wanting to live their lives truly and honestly as themselves.

    One person who was brave enough to do this is Caroline Paige.

    Caroline’s story in her own words is well worth a read – you can find it here – but here is her comment about TDOV:

    Visibility was important, but it wasn’t enough, people still needed to understand. I volunteered my story publicly, revealing the good and the bad, and people listened, they understood, they appreciated being given the awareness and opportunity to respect difference. The military evolved, in fact it became a leader in diversity and inclusion, a safer place to be openly transgender, or gay, or just different. This is the power of visibility and revealing lived experience, the power of seeing, of understanding, of change. This is the purpose of TDOV.

    The courage, the absolute bravery, of both Caroline and the people I see every day on facebook or Twitter, people who have made the decision to live their lives as they should be lived, is inspiring and heartwarming. And I offer them all my love and support in my small sheepish way.

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