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I’m delighted to be hosting RJ and VL today as a celebration of their ice hockey series about the Railers team. It’s always sad when a series ends, but it’s something to celebrate too as the authors go on to explore the lives of new characters. So let’s hear how the Railers stories came to be and wish all the beloved characters well.

hockey team logo, locomotive and Harrisburg Hockey Railers

Building the Railers

Building any kind of team for a writing project, be it hockey players or a SEAL team, or a group of friends, can be approached in so many ways. Believe me when I say Vicki and I have learned a lot about building a team in our hockey writing, mostly by trial and error, and always with a lot of fun.

For example when we created the Railers, we didn’t really have a sense of who the team were. We knew that the Railers were a fairly new expansion team, and we knew what our storyline was for book 1. Other than that the team itself was a blank slate.  As new to each other co-authors we were literally flying by the seat of our pants for Changing Lines (Railers 1) and the May/December, best friends little brother, story, just fell out of us in only three weeks.

We had our star, we had a coach, we even had a Russian goalie who didn’t speak very good English. What we didn’t have was the rest of the team, and for the Railers series, that happened very organically after book 1. We kept a google doc that we could both access with names, relationships, positions, age, and most importantly country of birth.

A hockey team is made up of guys from all different countries. From the big contributors like Canada and the USA, there are also swedes, Finnish, Russian, Norwegian… the list goes on. As the team grew, so did the spreadsheet of information, and the spread of countries we represented in our writing. Then not only did we need our players, but we required a person in marketing, another to control social media, even the name of the security guard that became a focal point in a couple of the books. Not to mention we had to name an arena!

For the spin-off, Owatonna U (NA series), we created a team of character names to start with. Sitting in Vicki’s house in Pennsylvania we came up with characters and the positions they played first. We already had Ryker, he is the son of Jared Madsen in book 1 of the Railers, but the rest were all new to us. As we wrote names down we got over excited with small character sketches – “his dad drives the bus!”, “He’s lost his brother”, “He gets to be in the NHL draft!” and just by sitting together and coming up with names we also came up with the stories we wanted to tell.

Slowly but surely our teams have become more, and with the release of the final Railers novella we not only have teams, but we created family.

The seven bookcovers of the Railers series, plus information that it will be available on Kindle Unlimited for 90 days.

Changing Lines (Harrisburg Railers #1) – Jared & Tennant

Can Tennant show Jared that age is just a number, and that love is all that matters?

First Season (Harrisburg Railers #2) – Layton & Adler

Layton wants success, Adler wants family, how can love made both these things possible?

Deep Edge (Harrisburg Railers #3) – Trend & Dieter

One man’s passion, another man’s lies. Can love fix even the darkest of hearts?

Poke Check (Harrisburg Railers #4) – Stan & Erik

One scorching summer in each other’s arms could never be enough.

Last Defense (Harrisburg Railers #5) – Max & Ben

A hockey player with a medical secret, meets the owner of a no kill shelter. Two men afraid to feel have to make choices that could end up breaking down their defenses and leading them back to love.

Goal Line (Harrisburg Railers #6) – Gatlin & Bryan

Fear and sadness mark Bryan’s life, can Gatlin show him that you have to trust before you can love?

 

There’s a giveaway too, which you can enter by clicking the Rafflecopter Link 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I imagine everyone in the genre knows by now, April is Autism awareness month, and therefore time again for R J Scott’s amazing Blog Hop event. Click on the image to the left to go to her masterpost.

We start with a fact:

34% of children on the autism spectrum say that the worst thing about being at school is being picked on.

Children can be very unforgiving of other children who don’t conform to the world view that they are just beginning to formulate for themselves with the help of parents siblings and relatives. The trick is to catch that early one and stop it before it can turn into picking on, or even bullying. And for that adults need to be educated as well. We’re never too old to learn.

The subject we have been given for our posts is “Childhood Toys”.

Obviously my mind went straight to history – in fact prehistory – and I wondered what is the oldest child’s toy to be found.

This is quite hard to establish. Children’s toys need to be small, portable and, usually, organic – soft and cuddly with no sharp edges. Sadly organic things tend not to survive for very long so we are left with more robust materials, ie harder to work, more valuable, more highly prized. Such valuable items in metal, stone or wood have usually been attributed either to use or ritual.  If one digs up a human figurine painstakingly carved from stone or bone can one say for certain that it’s a votive offering to the gods – or a dolly?

Tiny depictions of kitchenware found in tombs – an expression of what one will need in the afterlife or dolls tea party?

Sometimes we’re lucky and not only find objects, but also find illustrative material. It seems that grooved clay discs that were initially assumed to be parts of a loom are actually yoyos.

Wheeled objects are very popular – chariots of course, and Scythian children appear to have played with little facsimiles of the wagons they lived in.

But you can put wheels on anything – horses, lions, even hedgehogs!

 

This stone hedgehog was made in Iran some 3000 years ago. But older toys have been found including the item below. This bone disc has a hole in the middle and on each side is an incised image of an antelope. It is 30,000 years old.

This may have been a thaumatrope – the toy made by spinning two images on a string so they appear to be one.

In the image on the reverse the antelopes legs are drawn up. Twist the string and it appears to twitch its ears and jump.

Was this a toy to amuse a child, or a religious ritual? We don’t know for sure but I can’t see any reason why it can’t have been both.

Time for a giveaway – I will pick a commenter to win a novel from my books page. 

If you would like to donate to a charity that does sterling work in providing for the needs of autistic young people, I don’t think that you could do any better than RJ’s charity of choice – Lindengate.

Lindengate is a Buckinghamshire-based registered charity that offers specialised gardening activities to help those with mental health needs in their continuing recovery
Operating from a 5-acre site adjacent to the Wyevale Garden Centre in Wendover Lindengate offers a wide range of gardening/horticulture activities so that users can spend time in a managed and calm and safe environment, either singly or in small groups, working towards recovery.

You can donate here.

I think we all have favourite books that stay with us for a long time. This is one of my top reads, and also one that made it a little hard for me to sleep at night because ooh boy some bits are viscerally upsetting. But there’s a happy ending too, and that’s important.

fingerprints

The Definitive Albert J. Sterne
by Julie Bozza

Tag line: An obnoxiously immovable object is partnered with an undeniably irresistible force – in pursuit of a cruelly imperturbable serial killer.

Review snippet: “a terrific novel, ambitious in both its scope and complexity”, LadyM for Reviews by Jessewave

Introduction: This well-respected novel was Runner Up (equal third) in the Best LGBT Mystery/Thriller category of the Rainbow Awards 2011. It is now being re-released, after first being published in two volumes by Manifold Press. The original novel and companion anthology have been stitched back together into one long tale.

Blurb: Albert Sterne, forensics expert with the FBI, is so obnoxious on the surface that no one bothers digging deeper. When he’s sent to Colorado to investigate the work of a serial killer, he encounters Special Agent Fletcher Ash and they end up reluctantly joining forces to unravel the case. It’s only a matter of duty, though; it can’t be more, because Albert doesn’t do friendship – and he certainly doesn’t do love!

Genre: gay fiction; contemporary; love story; serial killer thriller; not a romance!
Word count: 226,000 words
Publisher: LIBRAtiger
Release date: 16 April 2019
Formats: eBook, paperback

Buy links:
• Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/b/bpjyBJ
• Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QGM44WN/
• Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QGM44WN/
• Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07QGM44WN/
• Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/dp/B07QGM44WN/
• Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/932637
• Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1116840309?ean=2940156040803
• Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-definitive-albert-j-sterne-1
• Google Play: http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN9781925869125
• iTunes US: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-definitive-albert-j-sterne/id1459015054?mt=11

<<0>>

Author bio:

Julie Bozza is an Aussie-English hybrid empowered by writing, fuelled by espresso, calmed by knitting, overexcited by photography, and madly in love with Amy Adams and John Keats.

book cover showing water liliesI haven’t actually had time to read this one yet, but I have a copy and am looking forward to it enormously.

Constantinople, Byzantium or Istanbul, is one of the places I would love to visit but probably never will, so I’ve made a habit of seeking out stories set there – from Russia with Love and Pawn in Frankincense for instance. I’m very excited to add this one to the bookshelf.

Title: Scent of Lillies

Author: Sarah Ash

Publisher: Manifold Press.

Genre: M/M historical set in Byzantine Constantinople

Rating: Sweet.

Gabriel wants to be an artist. His father wants grandsons. His teacher wants refuge. And the ghost of a young woman who drowned for love of one of his ancestors wants revenge. When events spiral out of control Gabriel heads to Constantinople, but his past is not far behind.

Damien isn’t sure what he wants. He doesn’t want his father’s business, whatever his stepbrother thinks. He doesn’t want his betrothed even though she may still want him. But he does want beauty, and he may find that in the yet to be consecrated church of Saint Thekla, a personal project of the Emperors.  But is it in the painting he will find beauty, or the painter?

Author:

 Sarah Ash read music at New Hall, Cambridge for four years, studying with Robin Holloway and John Rutter for her finals. Her interests in music and drama led her into teaching where she has been lucky to work with many dynamic and talented young people.

 

Extract:

“Full moon.” Old Marta clicked her tongue disapprovingly and closed the shutters with a bang, crossing herself as she did so.

“Why shut out the moonlight? It’s so beautiful.” Gabriel had been dozing but his nurse’s voice brought him back from the edge of sleep.

“Has your mother never told you? But then she’s not from these parts, she knows nothing.” There was thinly disguised resentment in Marta’s voice as she came waddling back to tuck him in. The reek of ale on her breath mingled with the green scent of the parsley stalk she had been chewing to freshen her mouth.

“Told me what?”

“You’re eight, old enough to know these things. Old enough to be warned where not to go.” She plumped herself down on the bed beside him like a hen settling itself on its clutch of eggs. “Haven’t you ever heard tell of the Ninufarim?”

“Never.” He was fully awake now.

“Pretty child.” She leaned forward and smoothed down his wayward curls, murmuring. “Such pretty hair, even if it is the same colour as your mother’s.”

He shook his head free of her hand, hating to be touched.

“You must never leave your shutters open when it’s full moon.” She wagged a finger at him. “And you must never, never go walking by the lake. For that is when the ninufars rise to the surface and the Ninufarim are abroad.”

From Amazon USAmazon UK, Kobo and Books2Read from April 14th

 

I’ve been looking forward so much to this book’s release. I betaed two of the drafts and have been blown away by the way the story has been developed. Such an exciting and satisfying tale.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys tales featuring WW2, spies, gay culture and a love story.

 

Book Cover showing a young bearded man with the sea and a submarine in the background

 

Under the Radar

 Tagline

Navigating the deep waters of war and love.

The Book

It’s 1942 and after a sexual indiscretion, US Navy pilot Zachary MacKenzie is sent to serve in the Royal Navy’s submarine service—a shockingly harsh punishment for a man who loves to fly. The submarine is oppressive and frustrating for him, and he’s marked out from his peers, publicly by being American, and privately by his attraction to men.

The only bright spot is the company of his steward, sonar operator Gethin Llewelyn. Despite the differences of rank and background, they’re drawn to each other. Gethin’s integrity complements Zach’s casual joie de vivre, and soon the friendship develops into something much more.

As the threats of war increase, the submarine is plagued by potentially hostile vessels, and circumstances lead them to suspect there’s a spy amongst their own crew. Being forced even closer together as they work for the greater good reveals a new awareness, and Zach doesn’t know what is in more danger, the vessel under his charge or his heart.

Author recommendation

From Polari to Polaris, it’s never been just the nice girls who love a sailor. Lillian Francis effortlessly evokes the claustrophobia and camaraderie of life—and forbidden love—aboard a WW2 submarine. – JL Merrow

Word count: ~138,500

Cover designed by Tiferet Design

Buy Links: Kobo // Payhip // B&N // Smashwords

Universal Amazon link:

mybook.to/UndertheRadar_LF

 

Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf here.

                                                

About the Author

Lillian Francis is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, her Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hob Nobs and she can lose herself for weeks. Romance was never her reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including herself, to discover a romance was exactly what she’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cosy murder mystery she always assumed she’d write.

http://lillianfrancis.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter @LillianFrancis_

Facebook

Facebook Author Page

Lillian’s Lovefest – FB group

BookBub

Goodreads

Sign up for my newsletter

Email: lillianfrancis@rocketmail.com

 

 

A notable day

Blue pink and white striped flag with the words "March 31, International Transgender Day of Visibility"

By clicking on the picture above you will be taken to the website of the Human Rights Campaign and a page of information, resources and interviews for and by and about transgender people worldwide. Some of it is very interesting and uplifting, some of it is heartbreaking, all of it is worth watching/reading. And it’s a really good reminder that, while today is THE day to look across at our transgender friends and say “I see you and you’re admirable”, we should be putting the suggestions for how to be a good ally into practice EVERY day. Of course there will be times when we fall short, through ignorance or thoughtlessness, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try again to do better.

Saturday Book Recs

It’s been a tense week for all kinds of reasons, some personal and tense for the wrong kinds of reasons and some book related because Midnight Flit flew the nest. Naturally I have been reading to calm myself down. This week it has been crime drama and I have 2 recommendations, because I enjoyed them equally for very different reasons.

The first was Murder of a Straw Man, book 1 of the Dancing Detective series by Robyn Beecroft. Not a romance, though there is potential, it very much falls within the genre of very very British cosy/quirky mysteries but this one has a more then usually engaging and diverse cast. At the end of the story a few threads are left dangling, but that is FINE as it’s book one of a series and good series need through plot, don’t they. Book 2 is available, which is nice.

The second was Kill Game, book one of the Seven of Spades mysteries by Cordelia Kingsbridge. This is very much an American book – hard boiled characters walking mean streets, and the murders are MORE, more plentiful, more graphic – but the characters are differently engaging and equally diverse. Like the Straw Man there is a through plot but this one is more of a cliff hanger and I’m looking forward to reading the several other books in the series when my book budget allows.

Morris dancers in rural scene bloodspattered seven of spades
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