I was asked to post this by F E Feely in case anyone who sees this might be interested in joining in.
Matthias Reynolds loves his life. He’s starting to make it as a graphic artist at last and has a job he really likes at a local café that pays the bills. When a night out clubbing leads to an awkward morning after, he’s embarrassed and more than ready to forget all about it. When Talani Enforcers show up at the café, he doesn’t know what to make of it all as he’s led away in restraints.
Standing accused of crimes he struggles to understand, he finds he has an unexpected champion: the Talani warrior and war hero J’nah Quislin. J’nah knows that Matty is his. All J’nah has to do is keep Matty safe from those who engineered Matty’s charges and sentencing. That, and get Matty to accept that universe always intended them to be together as one. All it requires is for Matty to return J’nah’s devotion and offer his willing submission. Can Matty do it, with all that it will mean for his future?
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Leona is a longtime staunch supporter of human rights and environmental causes. Her favourite genre to read is M/M fiction and she particularly enjoys science fiction, fantasy, and action/suspense subgenres—especially if they have a nice seasoning of romance. She has far too many books on her Kindle, has overloaded her phone with even more and, when not reading, writing, being driven to distraction by her children, or being overlorded by her three cats, can be found trying to locate the portal that the sock monster uses to steal socks from her dryer.
Recently head-reeling news for her included her novel Jared:Urban Wolves #1 being nominated for an Indie Award from Metamorph and placing as a finalist in the 2016 Rainbow Awards, earning an Honorable Mention. She’s still suspicious that it’s all been a dream, but as long as her readers are happy and she can find at least one of the missing socks, she’s happy.
You’ll find her books on Amazon, including on Kindle Unlimited. You’ll also find her on Facebook at Leona Windwalker, where you can keep up on news regarding current, new, and upcoming releases.
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I really don’t know how short story writers manage it. They must have incredible focus.
I was recently offered the opportunity to write a piece of short fiction for a blog event – “Just use your own characters, whichever you like, and oooh, anything over 500 words would be great” – so yeah, between 500 and 1000 words would probably be enough.
Can I? Can I heck as like! But it’s fun anyway. Id forgotten how much I enjoyed writing Briers.
Early February and things were pretty much dead on the espionage front. It was bitterly cold and there was a lot of snow, just the time to steal the march on one’s opponents, one would have thought, but the reports that came in from outlying agents were sadly lacking in action. Briers Allerdale could only assume that his various opponents were doing what he was doing – following orders to sit in an office pretending to work and be bored out of their minds. He had even sunk so low as to tackle the filing.
“God, what I wouldn’t give for a nice juicy assassination attempt,” he muttered as he slammed the filing cabinet. He shuffled over to the fireplace and made more fuss than necessary over adding a few lumps of coal to the already blazing hearth.
“You’ll set the chimney on fire.” Basset muttered. He was rocking in his chair, balanced on the two back legs of it, and had given up all pretence of looking busy in favour of making paper aeroplanes. “But then we’d be warm and have something exciting to do, so go ahead.” He launched his missile and missed the waste paper basket by inches. Briers picked it up and threw it back.
The phone rang and they both lunged for it, Basset beating Briers by a short head.
“Hello, International Trade and Exchange,” Basset said. “Oh – right. Allerdale, it’s for you.”
“Hah!” Briers grabbed the handset from him. “Yes, what?”
“Politeness doesn’t cost anything, you know.” The bureau chief sounded harrassed.
Aaaaand the game is afoot. Watch this space for more info on the blog event. I think it’ll be a really cool one.
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.
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.
Now for some updates.
I’ve been really bad about blogging this year, but then I’ve had loads of other things on my mind. 2016 has NOT been a happy year, either globally or locally. But I still managed to finish two stories and get one book published thanks to my wonderful betas and to the stars at Manifold Press.
Eleventh Hour came out on August 1st and I have been delighted by how well it has been received. It did very well in the Rainbows, getting a joint 5th runner-up spot for best Gay Historical Romance and, astonishingly, joint 7th in Best Gay book. It has also been nominated in the Goodreads M/M Readers group polls for best historical, best military/intelligence and best book! I’m so happy about this because I had ideas for sequels but one never knows until the first book is out whether it’s worth devoting the time to write any more, especially when time is so short.
In 2017 I plan to make a start on the second Eleventh Hour book and I hope to finish polishing Calon Lan, a short set in the last year of the Great War and set on a farm in Monmouthshire. What I’ll do with that, I don’t know. It’s not a typical M/M in that while there is a romance in it, it’s written from the point of view of the sister of one of the lovers who has no idea at all what she’s witnessing. The other book is called The Bones of Our Fathers and is a contemporary comedy romance, hopefully first in a series about a small town in the Welsh Marches. This one is about what happens when the local population butts heads with a developer, and Mal, the brand shiny new curator of the town museum, falls for Rob, one of the workmen on the building site.
“Bones” has been out to betas – thank you my loves – and I’m working on the edits now. Here’s a sample just for fun. In this bit Rob turns up at the museum on the flimsiest of excuses and Mal is very happy to play along.
He wasn’t altogether surprised to see someone with a yellow hard hat and broad shoulders in blue coveralls and a high vis jacket climbing the stairs.
“Hey,” he greeted. “Didn’t think I’d see you again so soon. No pool table but I can make you a coffee.”
Rob gave him a beaming smile. “Tea and you’re on,” he said and followed Mal into the little room they had set aside as a staff kitchen.
Mal reached a couple of mugs down from the cupboard and turned on the kettle. “I think I thanked you all for last night, didn’t it? It was good fun.”
“Yeah,” Rob’s grin sounded in his voice but Mal turned to look at him anyway just for the pleasure of it. Rob had taken off his hard hat and put it on the window sill and was leaning against the edge of the window, hands in his pockets and looking out over the patch of grass and shrubs that was all the museum could afford of a garden these days. With his high vis jacket and coveralls undone to show a bright segment of printed tee shirt – the bit Mal could see read “-oun-arm-lu” leaving him to imagine the rest – and with long legs in rigger boots crossed casually at the ankle, he looked both wildly out of place and very much at home. Mal really envied his ease. There was a man, he thought, who knew exactly what he wanted and was fairly confident of getting it.
“And what he wants right now – apart from tea – is me!” Mal found that a very satisfying thought.
The kettle hissed, the water purred into the mugs soaking the special pyramidal bags that Sharon insisted made much better tea than any other variety. Mal stooped to open the fridge.
“Milk?” Malcolm asked. “Sugar?” Rob had stopped looking out of the window and was watching Mal. Mal could feel it.
“I never say no to a bit of sugar. Bit o’ milk too. Just enough to take the edge off.”
Mal grinned and made the tea then turned and offered Rob his mug.
“Thanks,” Rob said then lifted the mug a bit to read the printing on the side. “Museum curators do it meticulously? Oh. My. God. I hope that’s true.”
Mal snorted. “It’s part of the job to keep the paperwork in good order.”
“That’s not what I meant and you know it.”
Mal just smiled his agreement. “Come through to my office,” he suggested. Rob followed, his boots sounding heavy even on the threadbare carpet.
“Blimey,” Rob muttered as Mal opened the door. “Bit of a mess innit?”
“Inherited, I assure you. My predecessor had some health problems the last few years of her tenure and everything got a bit out of control.” Mal went to the desk to put his mug down then took another box, contents comprising two rebate planes, a chisel, a sheaf of papers rolled and secured with a perished rubber band and a couple of ziplock bags of Roman grey ware pottery sherds, off the room’s other chair. At a loss for where to put it, he shoved it into the foot well where the candlesticks had been. By the time he had straightened up Rob was in the chair, ankle cocked on one knee with his mug balanced on the other. “I believe you’ve got something to show me?”
“Oh hell yes. And I brought you some stuff I found to look at too.”
Mal couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re shameless!”
Rob shrugged. “Saves time, doesn’t it? I like the look of you. If you didn’t like the look of me you’d’a told me to fuck off by now.” He grinned and offered Mal a jiffy bag with a scrawl in biro on the front, “Betty’s been after me to bring these in for a while but I never got round to it before.”
“Oh?” Mal eyed the bag feeling the familiar flutter of excitement. There could be anything in there. Could he be blamed for prolonging the moment? “And why would that be?”
“Because the previous curator was a nice enough old lady in her own way but I didn’t want to rip her clothes off with my teeth.”
Mal took a deep breath. “Fair enough,” he said. “Though you don’t actually have to rip. I’m quite capable to taking my own clothes off for the right person.”
“Where’s the fun in that? Come on, take these off me quick before I do something the council might object to.”
Mal took the bag, enjoying the brush of Rob’s fingers against his. Bloody council. Bloody “no bonking on the premises” rules. “Thank you,” he said, “I’ve only just got this job and I wouldn’t like to lose it.”
Check back here on the 30th because I’m hosting a cover reveal for a fantastic sci fi story – Regeneration by Louise Lyons – and in the New Year there will be a free short story featuring Miles Siward, where a simple assignment becomes very complicated when he is assisted by Professor Orlando Coppersmith and Dr Jonty Stewart.
If I don’t see you before 31st December, I wish you all a really happy new year. Let’s hope 2017 is a bit kinder to all of us, eh?
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.
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.
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.
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.