A Gathering Storm is out! Want to win a signed print copy?

Edited to add: now available at other online stores – see buy links page ūüôā

A Gathering Storm is out at Riptide’s site to buy and read now – and at other online stores from Monday! By way of celebration I’ll be giving away a signed print copy and some¬†other prizes via my newsletter which will be issued in a couple of days. Just sign up for a chance to win!

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In which I practically weep with excitement over all my booky news…

I have so many exciting things happening. So, let’s take a look at Thing the First. Check out this beautiful amazing piece of cover fabulousness by Natasha Snow. This is replacement cover for PROVOKED. Isn’t¬†it WILDLY LOVELY?

Provoked-JC-f

I am hopeful of having the main trilogy (Provoked, Beguiled and Enlightened) uploaded to online stores to buy again by early next week with the rest of my Samhain titles following asap thereafter. I cannot wait to show you the other covers! They are equally gorgeous, I promise.

Thing the second: My new novel,¬†A Gathering Storm (book 2 of¬†Riptide’s new Porthkennack series) is out on MONDAY!¬†Riptide preorders page is¬†here and I gather it should be up on Amazon very soon. There is a blog tour next week¬†– deets here –¬†you can win a gift token and the book on the tour AND I will be giving away a signed paperback of the book here on the website¬†too.

Thing the Third: I will have ANOTHER new book out in May and it’s a doozy! I’m usually much more modest about my books, lol,¬†but I get to boast about this one because it is co-written with the amazing ANNIKA MARTIN. It is a contemp MM and I fucking love it and can’t wait to share all the details – which will follow very¬†soon…

Thing the fourth: that is not all for 2017! There will be another Porthkennack book in August (a contemp this time), a vampire story for Hallowe’en (charity antho) and, I hope, a Christmas story revisiting two characters from one of my previous books. I have a couple of ideas as to which two to pick. If you have hankering for a particular duo, do let me know ūüôā

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Upcoming excitement!

agatheringstorm_400x600

I’m super excited about my upcoming release with Riptide Publishing on 17 April 2017. Isn’t the cover¬†lovely?¬†Blurb below. At 83K, this is one of my longer books and represents quite a lot of my 2016… It’s part of the Porthkennack series featuring¬†books from Alex Beecroft, JL Merrow, Garret Leigh and Charlie Cochrane (all great favourites of mine). It was lovely to be asked to¬†part of¬†it.

When grief-stricken scientist Sir Edward Fitzwilliam provokes public scorn by defending a sham spiritualist, he’s forced to retreat to Porthkennack to lick his wounds. Ward’s reputation is in tatters, but he’s determined to continue the work he began after the death of his beloved brother. 

In Porthkennack, Ward meets Nicholas Hearn, land steward to the Roscarrock family. Ward becomes convinced that Nick, whose Romany mother was reportedly clairvoyant, is the perfect man to assist with his work. But Nick‚ÄĒwho has reason to distrust the whims of wealthy men‚ÄĒis loath to agree. Until Fate steps in to lend a hand.

Despite Nick’s misgivings, he discovers that Ward is not the high-handed aristocrat he first thought. And when passion ignites between them, Nick learns there’s much more to love than the rushed, clandestine encounters he’s used to. Nevertheless, Nick’s sure that wealthy, educated Ward will never see him as an equal.

A storm is gathering, but with Nick’s self-doubts and Ward’s growing obsession, the fragile bond between the two men may not be strong enough to withstand it.

 

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Samhain closure – info about my books

As you may have heard, Samhain publishing will be closing at the end of February 2017. This means that a number of my books will be temporarily unavailable for purchase. The affected books are:

Provoked

Beguiled

Enlightened

Unnatural

The Dream Alchemist

Unforgivable

I am not sure at this point in time exactly what will be happening in relation to these books but I do plan to ensure they are back on sale, as soon as I can make that happen. In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email.

EDITED TO ADD: I’m hoping to have the Enlightenment series (Provoked, Beguiled, Enlightened and Unnatural)¬†out not too long after end February on a self published basis. I’m having new covers commissioned and¬†am excited to¬†share these very soon!

On a nicer note, I do have a new release coming up with Riptide on 7 April 2017, A Gathering Storm,¬†for which there be a cover reveal at Heroes & Heartbreakers on Valentine’s Day

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A year of philosophy

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For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been immersing myself in philosophy. This is something I’ve wanted to devote a chunk of¬†time to for a while but it suddenly began to feel urgent towards the end of last year. I’ve found myself reading and listening with a sort of thirst, and I’ve felt, well,¬†fortified by it.¬†
 

In part, I think this is a reaction to the world around me and in part, to how I’ve been spending my time lately, in particular, spending¬†far too¬†much of it scrolling through social media on my phone picking up fleeting impressions of a terrifying world and reacting to those events accordingly (quickly, fearfully). I’m making efforts to access news differently too, but that’s a different post.

Anyway, I’ve decided to make this a¬†project, and – somewhat arbitrarily – to¬†devote a year to it. Not the whole year, of course. I’ll still be¬†doing the day¬†job, being a mother, writing books.¬†I’m also not going to attach any particular goals to this project. I’m not going to study it¬†in the way¬†someone studies for an exam. I’m¬†just going to read – and listen¬†since I envisage¬†I will get quite a¬†bit of this my audiobook¬†and podcast – and see what I retain.¬† I’ll share the odd snippet and maybe pose some questions, maybe reflect on the exercise, we’ll see.
 
So, today,¬†I was listening to a programme about various pre-Socratic thinkers and I thought I’d share this quote from Empedocles. Empedocles believed there were two moving forces in the universe, Love and Strife. He said this:

The force that unites the elements to become all things is Love, also called Aphrodite; Love brings together dissimilar elements into a unity, to become a composite thing. Love is the same force that human beings find at work in themselves whenever they feel joy, love and peace. Strife, on the other hand, is the force responsible for the dissolution of the one back into its many, the four elements of which it was composed.

In other words, Empedocles envisaged a universe in which the four simple, unalterable forms of matter Рfire, air, earth, water Рwere drawn together by Love to form all material things and these things were in turn broken apart and dissolved back their constituent elements by Strife. Love and Strife were thus, he thought, the two agents of change in the universe.
Why am I sharing this particular little snippet? Well, it’s not because I’ve decided to¬†become a follower of Empedocles (legend¬†has it¬†he committed suicide by throwing himself in¬†Mount Etna, so really, no). I suppose it’s partly because this one¬†element of¬†his vision of the world and the forces within it chimed with me (probably for obvious reasons – the world feels pretty full of¬†Strife right now). But mostly I shared it as just¬†one illustration of something that brings me solace¬†– and that’s knowing that there have always been, will always be,¬†humans who question. Who burn with curiosity. Who aren’t satisfied with the answers offered to them, even when they are told that they must not question.
 

That’s reassuring, don’t you think?

One last thought:¬†when I put¬†that question mark at the top of this post,¬†it¬†was a placeholder for an image I was going to select later.¬†I wasn’t sure how the post was going to turn out. Now, it is the image¬†for¬†this post.
 

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What’s going on with me…writing and reading and hygge

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I’ve been awful at¬†keeping this blog updated with what I’ve been up to this year.

So far in 2016, I’ve¬†released a grand total of 0 books and… well, that’s going to be the 2016 total. Which is not to say I haven’t been writing. I have. I wrote and completed a new novel, am in the middle of a second novel AND am co-writing a third with Carolyn Crane, but none of those will come out till 2017. So this is the lowdown:

  • In April 2017, I’ll be releasing A GATHERING STORM with Riptide, part of the Porthkennack series. The Porthkennack universe, devised by the wonderful Alex Beecroft, ¬†will feature stories by me, Alex, JL Merrow, Garrett Leigh and Charlie Cochrane. It will be a mix of contemporary and historical titles. I’ll be publishing one of each – A Gathering Storm is my historical, a Victorian-set novel that¬†focuses on the twin Victorian obsessions of science and spiritualism. One of my heroes¬†is an aristocratic¬†scientist, the other¬†the half-Romany by-blow of the¬†richest family in Porthkennack.
  • In August 2017 (I think), my contemporary will release. This¬†one¬†doesn’t have a title yet. I actually wrote a whole song for his book, words and music–because I needed to hear it in my head for a key scene. This one is about abandonment and forgiveness.
  • In October 2017, I’ll have a short vampire story out in a charity anthology.
  • And finally, I’m hoping that in addition to the above, Carolyn and I will manage to get our co-written story out too. It’s a¬†…God, how to describe it? It’s MM spies basically. I love our two characters, American Will and British Kit. I adore adore adore Carolyn’s writing (we’ve been CPing for each other’s stuff for about 7 years, I think)¬†and I feel like we both bring something of ourselves¬†to this book.

So, yeah, 2016 has been a publishing famine, but 2017 will be (more of) a feast.

And after that? Well… 18th century werewolves in Scotland. I’m planning a pair of books on that. It’s been brewing a long while.

So that’s my writing news. In other news, I’m all about the hygge at the moment. God knows, we all need a bit of hygge in the face of 2016’s horrors: Brexit, Trump, terrorist atrocities, the rise of right wing nationalism and… well, I could (sadly) go on. But I won’t. Instead, I’m trying to be aware and outspoken during the day (in person)¬†while finding a little kindness and sanity for myself and my family at night.

In the hygge spirit, I’m greatly¬†enjoying my newly renovated front room, complete with new fireplace (which glows beautifully orange, even if it does look purple in the picture above).

And on the reading front? I’ve read some great stuff these last months that I’ve been¬†very remiss in talking about. Most recently, Josh Lanyon’s¬†fabulous Murder Between the Pages, a number of Keira Andrews’ books (both zombie apocalypse ones, Kick at the Darkness and Fight the Tide and the fab new baseball one, Reading the Signs), JA Rock’s latest two Subs Clubs books, 24/7 and Slave Hunt.¬†¬†Oh, and Kim Fielding’s Rattlesnake. And then, of course, there’s audiobooks. Right now, I’m listening to Josh Lanyon’s¬†The Mermaid Murders and enjoying it all over again. Murder in Pastel was another treat. My book listening has slowed down a bit recently though,¬†as not every author I enjoy reading translates well to¬†audio.¬†As ever, any¬†reccs gratefully received.¬†¬†Part of my personal hygge is the time I spend walking to work each day in coat, hat, gloves, soaking in the city I love while listening to stories, or music.

I should go to bed now, but the husb just put another log on the fire…

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### means The End

… At least it does to me.

I have been working very hard on my latest novel for basically all of 2016, a Victorian-set story based in Cornwall, part of Riptide’s new Porthkennack series.

I love this story now but it¬†was a ‘difficult birth’, so¬†it was a big relief to type that final¬†‘###’ and submit the thing¬†at last.¬†All this week I’ve felt like I’ve had a weight lifted from me –¬†I’ve been¬†walking lighter, looking about myself and feeling like I have time to do something other than work, write or sort out¬†domestic stuff for the first time in ages.

I haven’t blogged in forever, haven’t spoken about the books I’ve read or the audiobooks I’ve listened to or the new authors I’ve discovered – all stuff I love doing.¬† And over these last months, there’s been a thousand times I’ve thought, oh, this is so good! I totally want to blog about this, or at least chuck a paragraph on facebook, but then I haven’t, because my Victorian men have been frowning at me¬†and¬†tapping their elegantly-shod toes and I’ve had to sigh and get back to the grindstone.

Now¬†most of¬†those thousand little moments are gone and in the past and I can’t remember them. But here’s one I do remember.

Ghost TV by Jordan Castillo Price, narrated by Gomez Pugh is my current audiobook. It’s number 5 in the series, I think, and one of my favourites. When I read this series a few years ago, I ate them up so quick, but I can’t do that listening to them because the pace is fixed by the narrator. Other stuff too. In short, same story; different experience.

With an audiobook, the characters are less fluid because you’ve got the narrator’s interpretation¬†layered on the words (so, Pugh’s Vic isn’t quite my reader-Vic). Plus you aren’t able to perform those nimble reader-gymnastics you can utilise on a standard read e.g. reading some parts quicker than others, editing teeny details as you go –¬†stuff you (or at least, I)¬†do instinctively as a reader without much thinking about it.

The more fixed nature of audiobooks¬†has drawbacks and benefits. Drawback: you’re not as in control with an audiobook. Benefit: the slowed down pace means you don’t miss any gems and on a reread, you get a new slant on the book.

Anyhoo, Ghost TV opens with a¬†chapter set in a fairground: Vic, Jacob, Jacob’s sister and her kid.¬†Jacob in uncle mode, Vic in ever-present awkward mode. I’m pretty sure I enjoyed that chapter¬†a good bit when I read it first time round, but on this listen it was just great, and¬†so memorable. As a piece of writing, it’s full of¬†fantastic, satisfying details, character¬†clues and¬†fabulous turns of phrase, like this zinger:

A big-kid ride roared past us and the wall of scream trailed along in the wake of the metal cage full of freshly flung people.

That’s dazzling.

I remember¬†exactly where I was when Gomez Pugh drawled¬†that sentence to me.¬†Walking up to school on a day off work to pick up my boy (always a little exciting, that, even now) on a typical Scottish summer’s day –¬†grey¬† but fine, with a few¬†outbreaks of blue. Then, turning¬†a corner from the main road onto a more meandering lane, that slow, deliberate voice¬†in my ear ~

…freshly flung people.

Kind of a perfect moment, that.

 

 

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Shakespeare and senses – the Five Senses Blog Tour

Thanks to RJ Scott for inviting me to be part of her ‚ÄúThe Five Senses Blog Tour‚ÄĚ for autism – go have a look at the master post here. Today I’m talking about Shakespeare and senses! Why, you ask? More on that below –¬†and a chance to win one of my books (your choice of an eBook or a signed paperback).¬† First check out the fascinating fact below about autism:

Autism Fact: A Singapore scientist, Dr James Teh, has invented the T-jacket, a vest that provides deep pressure that simulates the feeling of a hug. ‚ÄúDeep pressure is a form of calming agent,‚ÄĚ said Dr Teh. ‚ÄúSo it basically helps to provide a sensation which an individual with autism, for example, can focus on. It helps to shut out all the other sensory inputs from the environment.‚ÄĚ A smartphone app controls the intensity of the hug that the T-jacket gives, with the maximum being akin to a bear hug.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/how-technology-that/1998210.html

So why Shakespeare? Because it’s only the dude’s freaking birthday! Yes April 23rd, as well as being St. George’s¬†Day, is¬†William Shakespeare’s birthday¬†*throws rainbow confetti*.

This man, this writer above all writers, who invented new words and coined phrases that have become part of our everyday language and wrote exquisite beautiful lines Рhe above all writers endlessly revisits the idea of the senses being our gateway to the world and to understanding ourselves and everything around us Рsuch as in this well-known speech..

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that…

Shylock, The Merchant of Venice

He uses this idea – of all the senses together¬†–¬†again and again when he writes of what¬†it is love, whether because everything about the beloved is delightful…

Had I no eyes but ears, my ears would love. That inward beauty and invisible;
Or were I deaf, thy outward parts would move each part in me that were but sensible: Though neither eyes nor ears, to hear nor see, yet should I be in love by touching thee.
Say, that the sense of feeling were bereft me, and that I could not see, nor hear, nor touch, and nothing but the very smell were left me, yet would my love to thee be still as much; for from the stillitory of thy face excelling comes breath perfum’d that breedeth love by smelling.

Venus and Adonis

…or, because nothing is, yet still he loves.

In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But ’tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who in despite of view is pleased to dote;
Nor are mine ears with thy tongue’s tune delighted,
Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone:
But my five wits nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee…

Sonnet 141

Even his comic characters muse on the senses, though in Bottom’s case, in a¬†rather muddled way:

The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man‚Äôs hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor¬†his heart to report, what my dream was…

Bottom, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

And actually, this last, comic quote is the one I’m thinking of today as I muse on the purpose of this blog hop. Because what are our senses, really? They are like a¬†shared language – blue is this colour, sour is that taste – and through this shared comprehension, of the world, we connect to others. But sometimes – as with language –¬†our experiences are not the same.¬†Sometimes our sensory language diverges.¬†That doesn’t mean I can’t connect with you – it just means I¬†need¬†to take¬†the time to¬†understand what your¬†experience is. And that’s what RJ’s blog hop is all about really.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a book Рthe winner can select either any eBook from my backlist or a signed paperback (paperbacks only available for Provoked, Beguiled, Enlightened, Unnatural, The Dream Alchemist or Unforgivable).

autism

 

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My year in books

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One of my actual bookshelves featuring no books I bought or read this year

My year in books encompasses both books written and books read.

I can take the first category quickly. As ever, time is shorter on the writing front than I would like. ¬†This year I wrote and published a full length novel, wrote and self-published a novella, revised and re-released¬†a short story for an anthology, co-wrote the first part of a new story with my CP, Carolyn Crane, and (mostly) planned out my next book. ¬†Not bad. Not as productive as I’d like, but considering work and family commitments, not bad. Part¬†of the challenge for me is to try to keep my focus on what I can reasonably achieve, rather than on what other people are doing and comparing myself unfavourably to them in terms of output. I don’t find that easy so that’s going to be an ongoing challenge in 2016. I’ll blog separately, perhaps soon,¬†about the queer joy of co-writing.

So far as¬†reading is concerned, I’ve been conscious that I’ve read less – and probably with less excitement – this year than for the last few years. Even so, I was surprised when I checked to find that I’ve bought less than half as many books in 2015 (c.80) than I did in 2014 (c.170). In 2014, I read a lot of books I liked. This year, as I scrolled through my kindle, I reflected that there seemed to have been nowhere near as many, a fact that¬†made me wonder, a little anxiously, whether romance is losing some of its appeal for me.

That would once have been unthinkable to me¬†but not so now. Also, though, it’s not the whole story. Not when I realised I was¬†forgetting something important: 2015 was the year of the audiobook for me. I’ve bought and consumed 30 titles/200 hours of audiobooks this year (almost all of which I’ve previously read). A huge highlight of that process has been working through Josh Lanyon’s audiobooks, both revisiting¬†old pleasures and finding new things to love in them. They really are all good, but my particular recommendations would be Come Unto These Yellow Sands, The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks and a superb value collection of shorts stories, In Sunshine and in Shadow. Right now – today – I’m listening to, and painfully loving Lovers and Other Strangers. So, so good. Other audio favourites have included Jordan Castillo Price’s Psycop series, Mary Calmest’ Frog¬†and Eli Easton’s The Mating of Michael.

I’ve been fascinated by the experience of audio *reading*. It’s a curious thing. In a normal reading experience, the only filter between author and reader is the reader’s mind. With an audio experience, you get another layer, the narrator. That voice in the dark brings a lot to the table: ¬†tone, inflection…judgment. You find that the tiniest things change meaning. Sway you. Curious to reflect that the Victor Bayne of my reader’s¬†mind is somehow sadder than the man Gomez Pugh gives voice to. Pugh’s Vic¬†is not the Vic I first met, in my head. He is another Vic. A¬†wonderful Vic, to be sure – Gomez Pugh is an incredible narrator – yet he’s¬†subtly different from my original Vic. You get another dimension, another, different experience.

My audio consumption will be likely diminish in 2016. I’ve discovered I need my audiobooks to be high quality reads. The pace of reading aloud is slow – listening to a book takes 3-4 times longer than reading it –¬†and there’s no place for an author to hide at that speed.¬†In my view, it’s only a medium for books you can savour every word of.

There have been some outstanding regular reads this year too. When I finally got round to reading them, I loved Keira Andrews’ Amish trilogy, starting with A Forbidden Rumspringa. I’ll be checking out some of her backlist in 2016. Other new-to-me authors I’ve enjoyed this year include Leta Blake, Megan Erikson and Sarina Bowen. The final book in S¬†P Wayne’s werewolf series, Everything Carries Me to You was a bit of brilliance. Alexis Hall’s For Real was fantastic, and did something I felt like I’ve been waiting for for a long time – brought BDSM plausibly¬†into the real world for me. A massive reading treat of 2015 was glomming Mary Calmes’ Matter of Time series (Sam! Jory!) albeit it left with¬†me something of a book hangover. More recently, I loved Santino Hassell’s Sunset Park -Raymond is one of those rare characters you Actually Fall In Love With – Josh London’s gorgeous A Case of Christmas, and LB Gregg’s With This Bing,¬†a pacey romp with characters I love. LB does great older guys. Dan – I mean, just, uhnnn. (sorry, but Dan!).

I also have to give a shout out to Lisa Henry (aka Discontented Winter) for her amazing fanfic – some of her stories transfixed me this year. Gorgeous, emotional writing…and free. So good, it doesn’t seem right to not be paying for it. There’s something here about the sheer joy of storytelling, untrammeled by writing to market/promo/performance anxiety etc. Something to ponder for 2016. I also need to read the sequel to Dark Space which I only just realised is out. Incredible book. That’s one I’ll pay for at least.

There’s undoubtedly¬†a pile¬†of books I’ve forgotten to mention that I ought to have, but this is ¬†only an impressionistic glance at my booklife in 2015. I’ve spent too long on this post already. Why look back when I could be slipping in my earbuds, sinking into the final chapter of Lovers and Other Strangers?¬† I’m sorry , reading friends, to be lax with my praise, and uncomprehensive. But the need to read is calling me, so I must away.

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12 days of Christmas Stories Giveaway – Day 12

And so it is the final day of my 12 Days of Christmas Stories Giveaway – I feel quite sad!

Today, I’m not featuring any particular book, just giving you the chance to win whatever book you’d like: today’s prize is a $20 ARe voucher plus your choice of any eBook from my backlist.

Just tell me what book you’re absolutely burning to read right now – I have an ulterior motive of course –¬†your comments¬†will serve as inspiration when I¬†come to add some books to¬†my Kindle for the Christmas holidays (when I plan to read, read, read. Bliss!) They don’t have to be Christmas Stories, and they don’t have to be current releases, just something you really want to read. I look forward to reading your comments.

Oh, and Happy Holidays!

EDITED TO ADD – THE WINNER OF THE GIVEAWAY IS D TORINI – CONGRATULATIONS!

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