Saturday 31 December 2016

My Favourite books of the Year

These books are chosen from the novels I’ve read this year, not from those published this year. After not reading any historical romance, I’ve discovered it in a big way. The list is in no particular order.

Eleventh Hour by Elin Gregory

I loved this book set in 1920s London. It is the story of spies Briers Allerdale & Miles Siward who have to play a married couple. I loved Millie, Miles’ alter ego and am looking forward to more.

What it Looks Like by Matthew Metzger

This is a character driven story and I especially fell in love with former bad boy Rob. Without I hope spoiling anyone, Eli is transgender. His relationship with Rob is central to the story and there is an interesting and unexpected dynamic between the two. Eli’s relationship with his parents is difficult to say the least and it is Rob who finds the money to allow Eli to have further surgery. It isn’t a perfect read but it is a powerful one.

Hexmaker 1&2 by Jordan L Hawk

Great worldbuilding. I’ve never been a shifter fan but these stories of witches and familiars grabbed me straight away.

Dirty Angel by Barbara Elsborg

I love Barbara’s stories for the angst. I’d just written an angel story so thought this one would be fun. It is a redemption story. Can Aden save himself from hell? He gets run over on a snowy night by Brody. Can they get their HEA?

Reaping Havoc/Reaping Fate by A J Rose

Another paranormal story. As a Supernatural fan, I was drawn to this by the idea of having reapers for characters. Reapers collect the recently dead and help them on their way. These are part murder mystery as well as romance between Nate and Mitch.

A Gentleman’s Position by K. J. Charles

I could have chosen any of the Society of Gentlemen series but I especially fell in love with David Cyprian the brilliant ‘servant’ of Lord Richard Vane who has contacts all over London. Being an historian by training, I’d shied away from historical novels but I couldn’t get enough of these. I might mention Silas as well, my other favourite character.

I love Dan’s writing and Memorizing You will always be a favourite. On the face of it this story sounds shallow but it’s anything but. Bill takes Ted on the road to discovery and goes on one himself over one summer. I always say Dan makes me read like an adult and this is no exception.

Playing with Fire by Avery Cockburn

This could be any of the Glasgow Lads series. I read them all because I love football and I love Scotland. It is set around an LGBT football team but also reflects political and religious divisions in Scotland. Great writing and great characters.

First and First by Santino Hassell

Part of the Five Boroughs series set in New York. Santino knows his subject well. He writes flawed and sometimes annoying characters. This is the story of Caleb and Oliver. Santino writes great emotional sex giving more insight into each character as lives are woven together.

Damaged Goods by Susan Mac Nicol

I looked forward to getting Jax’s story. This was a more gentle read in the Men of London series. I loved Dare and together they made a lovely couple.

Fallow by Jordan L Hawk

Oh, how jealous I am of this wonderful series. Whyborne and Griffin are such great characters. Add in Christine as well and you have the perfect threesome going on adventures mixed with magic and mythical creatures set in the past. I’m so looking forward to Undertow

Straight Jacket by Matthew Todd

This is a non-fiction book subtitled How to be Gay and Happy written by the editor of Attitude. Todd uses his own and other experiences to deal with issues facing gay and bisexual men.

There were many others I could have chosen but in the end I had to decide. Happy reading in 2017

Friday 30 December 2016

2016 - A True Annus Horribilis

I hesitated about writing this blog as 2016 has not been a good year for me or for the world. Don’t get me wrong, there have been many positive things, but the negative has been overwhelming. In politics, it started with Brexit and then Trump, and I’m still wondering if the world is going mad as it seems to be moving apart when it needs to pull together.

Secondly, so many people died. The year started with the loss of Terry Wogan and David Bowie, through to Prince, Muhammed Ali, Victoria Wood, ending with George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, but including so many others. I should point out when I wrote this a week ago, I ended with Greg Lake.

Personally, 2016 has been a bit of a non-starter. At the beginning of the year, I was recovering from injuring my knee – I have arthritis in both knees which limits my mobility – but this had been worse and stopped me driving. Gradually, it got better, and I got more confident until I could drive more than locally, then, out of nowhere, and I’ve still no idea why it happened, I got an ache in the back of my left thigh, got up one morning in late July, took a few steps and something pinged. The pain was extraordinary. Somehow, I got back to my bedroom and ended up staying upstairs for over three weeks. I managed to get downstairs and cope on my own for a few weeks and then in September I pulled it again – not as bad – but ended up stuck downstairs. Every time I think it’s going away, it comes back. I’ve been stuck inside, not able to drive and I’m thoroughly pissed off and scared I’ll do it again. It’s been easy to feel sorry for myself.

Plan for next year – find a bungalow. I’m told it’ll be better when it’s better, which isn’t much comfort. Also, my only sibling has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment. We all have our fingers crossed as well as everything else.

On the writing front, I’ve had four books and a short story published. Comfort Zone came first. I love this book. It was my payback to Aron to give him a happy ending after I’d split him from rugby player, Dan Morgan in Sporting Chance. Aron and Joe get their HEA, via a bit of angst, with the help of their friends and families and one special little girl called Ellie. It’s now cheaper on Amazon as well.

Next came A Bell Rings – the sequel to Not Every Time, my Christmas short story – a bit of paranormal inspired by It’s a Wonderful Life, my favourite Christmas film.

Finally, came the Call of Home series set in Scotland, on the Moray coast, a place I love. In Choosing Home, Zac, an ex-footballer, who retired rather than be outed, meets troubled Seth Pritchard and helps him overcome events in his past. In Returning Home, Darach, a policeman, arrives home after breaking up with his cheating boyfriend and meets a beautiful cat and her mysterious owner, Bryce. Darach is immediately intrigued by the man in the wheelchair and gradually uncovers his past, leading to danger for them both. In the third story, Staying Home, Sam Carmichael, a minister in the Church of Scotland, finds himself falling for Tosh, but Sam has more secrets than being gay. Will there be a fourth? I’m not sure, but Hamish and Cameron may get their story, eventually.
 You can find links to all the books at the side of this blog.

Writing has been slow this year as I’ve found it hard to keep focused, and I’ve done a lot of rewriting and editing. Starting the year, I rewrote a fanfiction which was mostly original anyway, and featured a character from one of my favourite shows. A Matter of Timing gave him a whole back story set in late 1960s America. Maybe someone will publish it, or I’ll put it on Wattpad for free – I’m not sure. I also rewrote my older men story. This has gone through four revisions and finally been accepted for publication. I am so thrilled to get a romance between two sixty year olds published, and there’s a subplot as well. While You See a Chance will be out sometime next year with Manifold Press.

I’ve also written a story based in Norfolk currently called Half Full. It’s currently around 60K. I was thinking of writing a sequel, but now I’m planning to extend it next year. My Christmas story didn’t happen. I had nearly 10K of a cat shifter story started and I may try again next year, or maybe do a car sharing story. Editing here to add the other story completed which I'm now editing - see concentration nil. This is the meeting of two opposites, Duncan who owns what could be called a dude ranch in the highlands of Scotland and Connor, a designer who lives in London. At the moment, I’m 8000 words into a story about two men who meet at a bus stop. I’m not calling it a gay for you story, more of a finding out more about yourself story, and opening yourself to possibilities you’d never considered before.
When I read this, I realise I've done more than I thought so that's good. Writing has been slow and concentration has been an issue for me, worrying about my leg and practical issues of dealing with even more mobility. Well, that and my other obsession of watching great programmes and reading great books. Maybe I’ll write a blog about my watching and reading recommendations for 2016. (The book blog is complete)

So, that’s it. Not much being published so far next year, but you never know, if I get things finished…

If you’ve had a great 2016, and I know people did and may be thinking I'm being over dramatic with the headline,  I hope next year is just as good. For everyone else, let’s hope 2017 is better.

Monday 19 December 2016

Weekly Round-Up 19th December

Morning from a dark and overcast Lancashire. Missing my SAD lamp as it stopped working last week. I'm all ready for Christmas with everything bought, posted and food ordered. All I have left to do is wrapping a few presents. My little tree went up Saturday with help from a cat or two. Thankfully, neither seems interested in playing with the baubles. 
             I continued writing WIP which has the title Meeting on a Bus so far, and I'm 7000 into that. The MCs in this one have definite ideas of their own. I also began the long task of editing my Scottish cowboy story with removing those naughty words - always do that first and then begin the structure edit to check on continuity with a bit of punctuation as I go along, and then the proper punctuation edit. After that it's handed over to betas. 
              Last week started with the wonderful news that Manifold Press have taken a chance on my older men story. I have the contract ready to sign and I can't tell you how thrilled I am. In fact, over the weekend, I was assured it's possible to be erotic when over 60!
              I watched Dirk Gently which was wonderfully mad like the books which I love. I've read a few books. The charming and lovely Merry Christmas, Mr Miggles by Eli Easton -I'm currently reading Falling Down, Santa Baby by Heidi Cullinan, which managed IMO to pull off the threesome, and From Out of the Cold by Lori Gallagher Witt, a great free book.
              This week will be more writing and editing, and no doubt some watching. We have the last series of Game of Thrones for over Christmas.
               I'd like to wish everyone a happy Christmas and New Year. Let's hope 2017 is better. I'll be doing a round up blog at some point. And if you've shopping left to do - good luck.

Monday 12 December 2016

Weekly Round Up, 12th December.

Monday again - only one more before Christmas and I've bought all the presents and posted all the cards. For me, this is unusual. 
I started a new story this week and got over 3000 words done as well as my feeble attempt at planning, which consists of writing any ideas down then crossing them out. I've already changed my initial ideas about the MCs and these two are a bit younger than my usual pairings. The story is set in Leeds. This week I hope to add more words and see where Danny and Mark go. This one is going to be a slow burn.
Last week, I had a Heidi Cullinan fest and read the Minnesota series. I love reading linked in stories. Next up is Merry Christmas Mr Miggles by Eli Easton as I continue Christmas stories and a new author, Jerry Cole.
On the watching side, thanks to Heidi and Jordan L. Hawk, I ended up watching Yuri on Ice in a day. I've never watched anime before. Some characters are a bit shouty, but I love the central story of Yuri and Victor, and I've been a skating fan for years. Yesterday, Dirk Gently appeared on Netflix, so that'll be on my binge list as well as continuing Eyewitness as the rest of my watches are now on holiday hiatus.
Watching Countryfile yesterday, it was lovely to see the Moray coast, the setting for my Call of Home series. 

And a little edit to say my older men story, While You See a Chance, has been accepted for publication. I am thrilled.
Have a good week everyone. Next week I'll be writing my round up for 2016 - oh dear.

Monday 5 December 2016

Weekly round up 5th December

Monday morning again. It's a cold and frosty one here this morning in north west England. 

I didn't get any writing done last week but I did do the last edit of While You See a Chance and resubmitted. For me, there aren't enough stories about older people in the romance genre so I've fingers crossed. Now, I'm not sure what to do. I have a few ideas including the first chapter of a story written. I also have two completed stories which are in first draft so perhaps I'll go back to them. I do have to finish off writing up my research on a family tree for someone.

This week I've read through all of Jordan L. Hawk's Hexmaker books and loved them and read the first two stories in Heidi Cullinen's Minnesota stories. On a recommendation, I'm now reading Documenting Light by E E Ottomen which is really interesting, especially as my older men story has a subplot involving finding photographs from the past.

A couple of TV shows to recommend - Eyewitness which I've watched all episodes of so far and loved and Class, which is a Doctor Who spin off on BBC3.

Anyway, that's me for the week, but finally, I'd like to mention the Christmas story and its sequel I did last year Not Every Time and A Bell Rings.…/…/B017XZUSWY

This post will also be on my blog.

Monday 28 November 2016

Weekly roundup, Monday 28th November.

Monday morning again and Christmas is getting nearer.
Last week I wrote those special words - THE END - my Scottish cowboy story came in at 66K. I like to leave stories for a bit before editing. I also set up my new computer and discovered I had lost the latest version of While You See a Chance, my older men story now set in Wales. I was a bit pissed off to say the least.
As for reading I'm hooked on Jordan L. Hawk's Hexmaker series. I have such admiration for world builders. I've always loved fantasy and now I can combine with historicals. I've also downloaded Heidi Cullinen's Minnesota series so they'll be next. I also listened to the latest Torchwood story on Big Finish set before CoE with lots of Jack and Ianto called Outbreak which was wonderful.
On the injury front the leg is a lot better. I'm not back sleeping upstairs yet but I can get up there now despite being scared stiff every time just in case I aggravate the injury again. My main problem is not using the muscles means I'm a bit shaky.
Oh and lastly this week, thanks to Santino Hassell, I discovered Eyewitness, and after bingeing six episodes, I'm hooked.
This week I'm going to tinker with While You See a Chance before resubmitting and maybe research a publisher for A Matter of Timing. I also have a completed story I've not opened for several months so maybe I'll take a look at that and decide if it needs more or a sequel.
Have a good day, everyone. And the photo is a reminder that the Call of Home series is on sale at All Romance and Pride Publishing today.
Have a good week everyone.

Thursday 24 November 2016

The Call of Home Giveaway Blog

To celebrate the publication of Staying Home, I’m going to give away e-copies of all three books in the series so far. To enter all you need to do is comment below or retweet the post on twitter.

About the series

I’d written two and a half of the stories in this series before I realised what they had in common. The first story, originally called There’s No Place Like Home didn’t become part of the series - it seems older men aren’t the thing. But I got permission to rewrite and I’m hoping to find a new home for Phil and Sion’s story – but I digress.

Choosing Home started life as a Torchwood fanfiction, which I planned but didn’t write. I had the idea for a story with an ex footballer driving down the A1M from Northumberland. Why is it that ideas always come when you’re driving or in bed? Luckily, I had someone to write down my thoughts and, by the time we got home, I had the characters and a basic story. It’s why Seth is Welsh and Zac Scottish. I decided to set the story in one of my favourite parts of the world, on the Moray coast, and there is an old, now empty house, on the coast that provided the perfect inspiration for the hotel Zac owns.

I chose football for two reasons. Firstly, I’m a lifelong fan of the beautiful game and secondly, I’d watched a documentary about the lack of out gay footballers made by Amal Fashanu, the niece of Justin Fashanu, and  the daughter of John Fashanu, both footballers.

For those of you who don’t know, Justin Fashanu came out while playing, but ended up committing suicide. With this background, it’s hardly surprising no footballer has come out while playing since, especially when you consider the speculation around some players. In that documentary, the only current footballer who agreed to speak to her was Joey Barton, who, for all his faults, has always been a someone who’s supported LGBT in sport. Another documentary is coming out soon made by Stephen Byrne for Irish television, and again it appears people were reluctant to talk to him.

 The idea for Zac’s experience came from the first documentary. His coming out, and helping Seth deal with his own issues around self-worth and guilt, not to mention dealing with his physical issues, form the core of their story.

Returning Home started as a separate story, based on a photograph showing a thin, bare-chested, tattooed man, holding a big, long haired cat up in his hands while lying in a bed, with flowery covers and tiny trolls and gonks on the window sill. I wrote a turning point scene at midnight, one day, and didn’t go back to it for a while. Originally, I intended to place it in another part of Scotland and then, having been asked for a series, worked out how I could move it and link the main characters in this story - who became Darach and Brice - to the first story. The link is admittedly tentative for that reason. Darach was always going to be a policeman, and had a sister who ran a café. He’d returned home after breaking up with his boyfriend, and the story was set near Plockton, in Hamish Macbeth country. Now, moved to the Moray coast, this is where Bryce parks to watch the seals.

Brice’s mysterious back story came out of that scene. I needed him to be flawed. I needed him to be in danger, but not merely a victim. Writing someone who uses a wheelchair, but is independent, was challenging. Although, I have some understanding of physical limitation, and have had to use a chair myself in hospital, I did have to do more research. I discovered there were pottery wheels specifically made for people in wheelchairs as well as discovering more about spinal injuries. This story was always going to have a death, as Brice’s danger had to be real.  The link to the third story only came after the story had been completed. I had to write in more about Sam Carmichael, in the redraft.

It was when I’d finished this second story, that the fact they dealt with men coming home struck me, as well as the tag line, that even if you tried to escape, you brought your baggage with you – hence you couldn’t escape from yourself.

Staying Home features Sam Carmichael, the middle of the five Carmichael brothers who is a Church of Scotland minister. I took a risk writing about someone who is closeted and religious. Religion fascinates me. I’m not a believer myself, but I love religious history, and was head of Religious education. I wanted to show how the Church in Scotland has been forward thinking – they have had women ministers since the 1960s and this year voted to allow same-sex marriages for ministers. Sam’s belief is central to his character and his experience. He derives strength from his God. As well as that, he threw me a huge curve ball I wasn’t sure I could tackle in the middle of one night. His choice not mine. Tosh was simpler, but again I worried about writing a romance for someone who had lost his husband in tragic circumstances. I know some people won’t like this, but life goes on, and I like to think Harry, Tosh’s husband, would have approved.

Will there be a fourth book? I have an idea for Hamish and Cameron so we’ll see.

So, my giveaway. I have a set of all three stories to give away in PDF or EPuB. All you need to do to enter the competition is comment below. Only those who comment on this blog or retweet my blog post tweet, will be included.

I hope you enjoy the series and, if you don’t win, give the stories a try. Thanks to everyone who have already bought, read and commented, whatever your view.


Monday 21 November 2016

Weekly round up 21st November

Morning - it's Monday again. 
Last week I managed to write about 3000 words on my Scottish cowboy WIP and did some tinkering on A Matter of Timing and While You See a Chance. I need to work out what to do with these two stories. 
Read and enjoyed Drawn In by Barbara Elsborg and the 13th Hex by Jordan L. Hawk so started on The Hexmaker. I so admire worldbuilders.
This week I have to face getting a new computer set up as my main one has bitten the dust and is so slow it keeps sticking. I hate having to lose my favourite sites built up over time and working out all my passwords.
Finally this week - tomorrow in fact - the 3rd part of the Call of Home series is out on general release. Staying Home has Sam Carmichael and Tosh Mackintosh as the MCs. I hope you'll give it a try.
Have a good week everyone.

Monday 14 November 2016

Weekly round up 14th November, 2016

Monday again. Well the last two weeks haven't been brilliant for anyone. I thought Brexit was bad but electing Trump has made me fear for the world. I don't understand hate. Maybe I've never had enough energy to hate - I don't know. Students used to sometimes say I hated them but I used to assure them I didn't because I didn't want to use so much energy or thought in a negative way. I was also taught to dislike the behaviour not the person but I'm finding that more challenging of late.
I've done hardly any writing in the last fortnight. I've been ill and too sad to write a happy ending for my Scottish cowboy story. I did begin another story and wrote the first chapter and have another plot bunny based on a dog walking story in my home town - not Walnut which had me crying buckets - but walking certain breeds of dogs on Sundays on Barry Island beach. Maybe I'll feel inspired and also resubmit my older men story when people have read it and I've tinkered some more - computer willing. I'm having trouble with it again so bought a new one. Setting up everything again is such a pain though.
I've read a few books and enjoyed them but not as much as usual. I finsihed The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick, Interborough by Santino Hassell. The Soldier's Scoundrel by new to me author Cat Sebastian, and have now started Drawn In by Barbara Elsborg.
New watching for me - Frequency on Netflix which I'm enjoying and Class the Doctor Who spinoff on BBC3 which is great.
Targets for this week are flexible. Any writing would be good. I've a blog post to do for Female First magazine as well.
Lastly, the winner of the signed PB copy of Sporting Chance is Sula Holland so if you PM me an address I'll get that sorted ASAP.
Oh and Staying Home is out on general release 22nd November.
Have a good week everyone.

Thursday 25 August 2016

Blog Tour - Volatile by Avylinn Winter

 Volatile (Treacherous Chemistry #1)  - Avylinn Winter

Author: Avylinn Winter


Add to Goodreads

Length: 72,000 words
The Violinist (Now called Volatile), won a Watty award in 2015 in the LGBT+ category. The Wattys is the world’s largest online writing contest hosted once a year by Wattpad.



Like a depressed moth drawn to a wild flame, Chris hoped that flame would brighten his life, not burn him alive.


Chris Sinclair fades into a grey world after losing his mother to cancer. When forced to attend a concert as a last attempt to coax him out of his shell, he discovers that life might not be as bleak as he first thought.

 Dante Heron holds the audience between the tips of his fingers and the delicate bow, playing the violin as if every heart is his to command. However, something darker brews behind the façade, and Chris is determined to solve the enigma.

When Chris is offered the job of traveling around Europe with the famous violinist, he surprises himself by accepting. With no idea what awaits him, he's thrown into a world where emotions rule and rules are bent.

They're a perfectly dysfunctional match, but then there's always calm at the heart of the storm.


Author Bio


Raised in one of the cold corners of the world, Avylinn spends her days either wrapped up in a blanket or basking in the precious sunlight. When she can’t choose herself, she’s holed up in an office working with climate research that has little to do with the worlds and characters she creates in her vivid dreams.

Always the emotional one, she has found her outlet in writing, voicing thoughts, emotions and fears through her characters that feel very much alive to her. And, what began as a hobby soon took more and more time in her life until she realized that she had left her old life behind and entered a new one where her emotions turned into a super power—ready to launch at her poor readers.

She recharges with the help of coffee, cinnamon buns, popcorn and occasionally a healthier alternative.

Social media links


This isn't really a review but I was given a copy of Volatile so I'm going to say a few words.
I really enjoyed Avylinn's writing style. I found the story easy to get into and easy to read. The main characters were young, but interesting, although, I have to admit to preferring my MCs a little older, like myself. Being young, they made mistakes with each other's feelings, both before and after they got together. The end felt a little rushed to me, and I did feel a little peeved at the sex being off story.

With the youth of the characters, and the lack of sex on the page, the story had the feel of a young adult novel - which in itself is a good thing.
Would I recommend the story? - absolutely.
Will I read more by this new author? - yes


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday 25 July 2016

Divine Magazine's Summer Hop



Summers always seemed longer when I was a child, and summer holidays lasted so long you could even get bored and look forward to returning to school. When I became a teacher, I swear those summer holidays were much shorter. Now I’m retired, summer is more of an amorphous blob, stretched over odd days, and certainly not a block of weeks.

Anyone who is my age - mid fifties – and British - will remember the summer of 1976. This summer has reached almost legendary status in this country. We had weeks of hot weather, so hot that fires broke out on the abandoned land behind my house, and also on the common ground nearby. There was a hose pipe ban and eventually water supplies were cut and they delivered bottled water to our estate, or others had to use stand-by pipes. The ground was as dry as a bone and the grass yellow and wilted. But I was lucky. I lived by the seaside in the town of Barry, famous then for Barry Island, Butlins, the funfair, a huge outdoor swimming pool and several beaches. Now, it’s famous for the programme Gavin and Stacey filmed there, and the Island has undergone a recent revival. There are multi-coloured beach huts, new cafes, the funfair has been renewed, and the area has been renamed @BarryBados on twitter. Look up the page and you’ll find lots of lovely pictures of the beaches.

Back in 1976, the heatwave started before we broke up for the summer. My school was huge – nearly 2000 girls with around 300 of us in each year. Towards the end of term, the school was empty. You could have taken a bus to the beaches to round up those kids who were truanting, or mitching as we called it in South Wales. One afternoon, with about twenty of us left in my year group, we had the school pool to ourselves with a few teachers - much more fun than a crowded beach.

Once school had ended, and I don’t know how those poor souls got through their exams in the heat, we spent the holiday at the outdoor pool, or swimming in the sea at the nearby Pebble Beach getting sunburnt on more than a few occasions. In those days our parents waved us off in the morning with our bus fayres and sandwiches. The gang of us would spend all day having fun, finally returning home when it was getting dark, or we were hungry.

But all things come to an end and that summer ended with spectacular thunder storms. Forked lightning flashed across the dark skies and rain lashed down on the hard ground creating waterfalls down the steps near our house. Suddenly, the summer was over and it was time to return to school.

Then summer meant fun at the beach. Now, I’m afraid I’m one of those people who whinge about the excessive heat and not being able to sleep. But it is good to remember those carefree days when I was young and the sun shone brightly every day.

For a chance to win prizes go to Divine Magazine and comment.

For a chance to win an e-copy of either Choosing Home or Returning Home please leave a comment on this blog.
Links to the other blogs can be found below