Saturday, January 31, 2009

New free story

If you want to read the latest free story by yours truly, pop along to Flash Me! Magazine where the January 2009 issue has just gone live, complete with 'This Life Sucks'.

This little tale about a disillusioned vampire was based on a news story about some dustbin men discovering a fully functional, empty coffin propped up next to somebody's dustbins one morning! Nobody could work out where it had come from and it made such a surreal 'truth is stranger than fiction' story that I just had to write about it. 'This Life Sucks' is the result.

"This would be his last night in this form. No more biting, no more sucking, no more taking of innocent lives. No more lurking in the shadows and hiding from the sun; from now on he would be a creature of the light."

I hope you enjoy the story.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Apostrophes on street signs

Birmingham City Council has been getting a lot of stick lately for its decision not to use apostrophes on street signs.

As a writer part of me does worry about this. It's yet another erosion of the traditions of our language and grammar, and yet another blow to the trusty old apostrophe, the use of which baffles many people already.

But just how important is this? Fair enough, something like St Paul's Square really should have an apostrophe because it's called after St Paul's Church, which is called after... St Paul. The apostrophe is there to show possession. Place names, on the other hand, tend to be less clear-cut. Kings Heath perhaps ought to have an apostrophe because it refers to the heath owned by the king (singular). But how about Druids Heath? Is that singular or plural? Where should the apostrophe go? It might well be better in that case to leave it out than get it wrong. And as for Acocks Green, is this even named for someone called Acock or does it come from a different source altogether?

As the article I link to above says, many of the apostrophes were already dying out in the 1950s so this is hardly a new phenomenon. Indeed, I have an old map of the area which shows Kings Heath spelled without the apostrophe as far back as 1880 - and many other such names around the country have either lost their apostrophes or never had them in the first place: Kings Pyon, Bishops Itchington (yes, really!), Canons Ashby.

So perhaps Birmingham council deserves a bit of slack. After all, I'd much rather see a road sign spelled Kings Heath than the sign I saw in a computer superstore this lunchtime, which read "IPOD's". That really did annoy me. :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

'I Do' in print

Had some exciting news over the weekend and have finally found a spare minute to blog about it - the charity anthology 'I Do' is now available in print.

You can buy your copy at either Amazon UK or Amazon US depending on where you live and where you'll get the best deal on shipping.

For more information on the book including an excerpt of my story; reviews; and a list of places to buy the electronic version, feel free to pop along to my website where you can find all these details and more.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

If that's a myth I'm a...

Nul points today to Labour MP Graham Stringer, who has declared that dyslexia is a myth designed to cover up poor teaching methods. I'm sure that will be a *huge* comfort to all those kids out there who suffer from it, and struggle to make sense of their reading and writing. Of *course* they could pull themselves together and get over it if their teachers worked harder, couldn't they? Right.

These sort of medieval attitudes help no one. I taught adult basic English (ie literacy) for only one term before I realised I wasn't best suited to helping those people who need it most. Several of the class members were dyslexics, some of whom had slipped through the net at their schools and therefore never learned to read and write. Watching them applying themselves week in, week out, with little or no real progress, and watching the sheer warmth and patience of the teachers, gave me a whole new insight into this difficult condition and one I won't forget in a hurry.

Perhaps Mr Stringer should visit one or two Adult Literacy Classes and see for himself the dedication that goes on there before making any more foot-in-mouth pontifications.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This Life Sucks

Nope, this isn't me getting morbidly depressed - it's the title of my latest story to be accepted.

The story, a short dark tale about a disenchanted vampire, will be appearing in the upcoming issue of Flash Me! Magazine, which is due out on 31 January.

Believe it or not, the story was inspired by an online challenge after one of my friends read a news item about some dustbin men who were rather baffled to find a complete, new, unused coffin propped up next to the dustbins one morning! This Life Sucks is my quaint attempt to explain why...

As usual I'll post as soon as the story is available to read, so do watch this space.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Reaction to 'I Do'

We've had some wonderful positive feedback on the new anthology already. Have a look at these quotes, supplied by authors Victor J Banis and Josh Lanyon.

Double Your Pleasure
This is like the steak specials at my local market: buy one, get one free. When you buy this book, 100% of the proceeds go to the Lambda Legal fund, to help in their fight against California's Proposition 8. That's a good thing in itself, as I'm sure you will agree. But, not only are you making a donation to a cause we all care deeply about, you also get—this is the FREE part—a collection of 20 stories from an elite list of M/M and LGBT writers. How can you beat a deal like that?
And what a collection! There's surely something here for every taste: man on man and woman on woman; fantasy and funny and sizzling and sweet. Swans and Snow Queens and salty sailors and slithering serpents, oh my! And Holy Macaroni, but you're going to have to buy the book to figure that out. French Legionnaires do it in the mud; little girls grow up married from childhood, and first timers discover the magic. All of the myriad elements of love lost and found and refined and redefined. I could go on and on, too, but every story here is a treasure on its own; together, they make up one of those rare "read-over-and-over-and-keep-forever" books.
I recommend stocking up. Get some steaks while you're at it, you're going to be doing a lot of curling up.
Victor J. Banis
Author of The Man from C.A.M.P., Lola Dances and Deadly Nightshade

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue: twenty tales — funny, sweet, erotic, poignant — from some of the best and brightest writers in GLBT romance. Never has support for a good cause been more delicious, more delectable than in this generous helping of life — and love — affirming stories.
Josh Lanyon
Author of the Adrien English Mystery Series and Man, Oh Man! Writing M/M for Kinks and Ca$h

I'm delighted at the response to the book. The more people who like it, the more will hopefully buy it and make lots and lots of $$ for the cause. And with endorsements like that, how can you resist? ;)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Nice start to the year

I had some lovely news yesterday as the editor at Byker Books confirmed that Rock and a Hard Place will indeed be appearing in Volume 2 of 'Radgepacket - Tales from the Inner Cities'. This is a real bonus since he wasn't originally sure he could squeeze it in and was talking about putting it in Volume 3 instead. Since that would have meant waiting an extra three months or so, I'm delighted. Vol. 2 is due out late February/early March and obviously I'll post more details as soon as I have them.

In other news, I've managed to do some writing again for the first time for weeks, on the Lake District novel. I didn't get far, but I did manage to start it for the *fourth* time of asking, to copy across the prologue and the first few paragraphs of Chapter One, and add another 1,000 or so words, before close of play. And have a jolly good think about where I'm going and what the structure will be, since that's always my biggest downfall. Now, if I can just keep the momentum going....

Monday, January 05, 2009

'I Do'

I must admit I haven't been keeping up with the latest happenings during the Xmas break, but switched on the pc this morning to find some very good news - the charity anthology 'I Do' has been published in the interim.

This is a book full of m/m short stories published in support of the Lambda Legal Fund to fight Proposition 8 against same-sex civil partnerships in California. It includes a wealth of stories by such well-known m/m authors as Alex Beecroft, Erastes, Lee Rowan, Storm Grant, Sharon Maria Bidwell and many, many more, as well as a kitchen-sink style romp called 'Salad Days' by yours truly which involves two men and some fennel.

"Tim had finished the carrots. He searched around for something else to keep his hands busy and found he'd picked up the fennel again. Holding it firmly this time he began to slice into its bulbous flesh, imagining it was Ed's smoothly handsome face. Him, jealous?"

The anthology will be widely available in electronic format and a print version is due out later this month. Currently you can buy your copy at either All Romance E-books or Mobi. And don't forget - every penny of the proceeds will be going to a very worthwhile cause.