Thursday, May 31, 2012

Necessity's Door blog tour - day three

So here we are at day three of the blog tour and today it's the turn of Pants Off Reviews (who apparently "take ur pants off one m/m book at a time").

I thought I'd told everyone enough about the book, so for a change I've concentrated on me, with five fun facts that you might not have known (and quite possibly didn't want to). So, for a potted tour round where I'm from, what I like and which star sign I am, drop into Pants Off. I hope I won't bore the pants off you, at any rate. ;)

M/M book wins Orange prize

I was fascinated to read that this year's winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, 'The Song of Achilles' by Madeline Miller, is a same-sex novel set in the world of Ancient Greece.

From the sounds of it, it's a good old-fashioned m/m erotic romance, so it's all the more surprising that the judges went for something rather controversial. This has to be a good thing, though, in turning the spotlight on same-sex romance and opening it up to the reading public.

For all the cries of originality I can't help feeling that Mary Renault got there first, but even so I've added this to my reading list and will be really fascinated to see how good it is. And watch out for other same-sex novels, hopefully following in Ms Miller's footsteps.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Necessity's Door blog tour - day two

Day two of my mad dash round the ethernet sees me posting at Joyfully Jay, with a piece about how the whole story of Necessity's Door came about from initial head-scratching and ideas to the actual publication.

"The book is called 'Necessity's Door', it's just been published by Riptide Publishers, and I had an absolute blast writing it. A very speedy blast, mind you, since I only discovered the call for submissions ten days before the deadline..."

Join me at Joyfully Jay to read the rest of the post, find out more about the book, and take part in the contest.

There are seven more stops on the tour, by the way, and if you'd like to know where else I'll be appearing just pop over to the events page at the Riptide Publishing website, where there's a complete list.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Live chat coming up

Just a note to say watch out for me at author Beth Wylde's yahoo group on Friday (1st June). Every June she throws her group open to gltb writers and this year I collected a group of fellow authors - myself, Anne Brooke, Sharon Maria Bidwell, Jo Myles, Becky Black and Clare London - to take part. We'll be calling ourselves the British Belles since we're all British and all (ahem) incredibly beautiful, and we'll be chatting about ourselves, our books, and, seeing as it's the Queen's Jubilee weekend, probably the Jubilee celebrations as well.

And on top of that, four of the assorted Belles will be giving away books from their backlist as prizes.

The address for the chat is - please make a note in your diaries and pop in to join in the fun.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Necessity's Door released - blog tour and giveaway day one

Riptide Publishing have officially released 'Necessity's Door' today (woot!) and to mark the launch I'm off on my virtual blog tour.

First stop on the journey is Jody Faltys Words of Wisdom from the Scarf Princess, where you can find a fun little interview with the book's main character Jake. I won't give away the contents but let's just say he wasn't being entirely cooperative when he was interviewed. LOL

You can find me and the interview at Jody's blog. And don't forget, for the duration of the blog tour I'm running a contest/giveaway, with two of my earlier books/stories and some cool swag as prizes. Just read the book, answer the three simple questions you'll find on any of my blog tour posts, send the answers to my (email on each guest post) and you'll be entered into a prize drawing at the end of the tour.

Good luck, and I hope you enjoy the book.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Novel accepted

You might remember a few weeks ago that I'd submitted my Irish paranormal novel Gleams of a Remoter World to a publisher. That publisher was Riptide again (the same people who are releasing Necessity's Door in a day or two) and the great news is that they loved it and have accepted it! They've asked for a few minor changes but nothing I can't handle (I'm busy on some of those right now) and we're hoping for a release date around October/November this year, to coincide with Halloween.

This will only be my second ever novel (the first being Roses in December, which was published yonks ago by Torquere Press), and I've always been rather fond of it. I think I've mentioned that the first seeds were planted during a holiday we had in a remote part of Co Galway about ten years ago. Possibly the novel brings back memories of that holiday or perhaps I just like the ghost story and all the mystery, but whatever it is, I can't wait to see it in print. In a misquote of a rather dreadful tv advert for Disneyworld from a few years ago, "I'm so excited!"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Not long now...

It's less than a week until my new book Necessity's Door is released and the excitement is building. Well, my excitement at any rate. It's been too long since I had a whole book to myself, with just my name on the cover, and I have to admit it feels rather special.

To celebrate the launch I'll be going on a ten-day long virtual blog tour, with guest posts at ten different blogs in various corners of the internet. Each is on a different topic - an interview with the book's main character Jake, for instance, or a fun little 'did you know' about the British police force, and as well as the posts I'll be running a contest for the duration of the tour, with cool prizes!

I'll pop on here each day to make a note of where I'll be popping up next, or you can go to the main 'master list' for my blog tour at the Riptide website. That way you can follow me about, stalk me, heckle me, and find out a little more about the book (and me!) along the way. I'll see you there.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


We're back in the smoke for a few days, partly to do yet more clearing on the house but mostly to go to a concert with our friends.

And what a concert, because for a complete change we'd booked tickets for Mugenkyo, a group of British taiko drummers. If this sounds improbable, it is - most of the group are from Scotland and look rather as though they've just stumbled out of a pub on a back street in Glasgow at three o'clock in the morning. Looks can be deceiving, though, because they're all fully trained in the Japanese art of taiko; the group's leader Neil Mackie actually studied under a sensei in Japan. And it shows, because they are Good with a capital G.

Dave and I first saw them when we lived in Loughborough, when they played live at a street festival in the town. We'd never heard of them, but were so blown away by the sound that we stood and watched for over an hour. The subtleties and range of sounds the musicians get out of their drums are just incredible - everthing from a faint reverberating hiss to the sort of percussive pandemonium that nearly brings the ceiling down.

Last night was no exception - the rafters of Solihull theatre rang - and the group have added more theatrical style to their repertoire in the intervening years. The end result was loud, spectacular, moving, entertaining, and, er, did I mention loud?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Olympic torch relay blog tour

The Olympic flame reached Britain yesterday evening and set off on its 70 day dash round these islands first thing this morning. During that time it will visit all four home nations (England, N Ireland, Scotland, Wales), calling in at over 1,000 towns, cities and villages as well as some well-known landmarks such as Stonehenge. This morning, rather fittingly, it began its journey at Lands End in Cornwall, which is always supposed to be the most south-westerly bit of mainland Britain, and I'm sure it'll be visiting John O'Groats in north-east Scotland at some point.

And to mark the torch relay, author Charlie Cochrane has organised a special blog tour, with authors posting about places they know, love, or that feature in their books. Each day, the post will feature the particular area the torch is travelling through - be it a county, a city, or even a small village. You can find the offical torch relay blog tour blog right here - and follow the torch's progress around the country day by day.

Today's post from American writer Syd McGinley is all about the beautiful Cornish coast - very appropriate as the torch spends the day zig-zagging through the county towards the city of Plymouth.

Muggins here is due to appear on 1st July with a post about England's second city, Birmingham, which just happens to be the setting for my forthcoming book Necessity's Door. I'll remind you and re-post the link nearer to the time so do keep popping back to check.

And apologies if I seem to be making even less sense than usual. Last night I collided heavily with one of the structural beams in our attic, and although I've got away with nothing worse than a sore head and whiplash, it does seem to have temporarily scrambled my brain...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hop against homophobia

I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know today is International Day Against Homophobia. Luckily not everyone is as 'un-switched on' as me, and a large group of authors have come together to support the day with a 'Hop against homophobia'.

You can find a list of participating authors here; each has posted a message on their blog so feel free to trawl the list, pick out your favourites and leave a comment in support.

If I'd known about this sooner I'd have been taking part myself, so the least I can do is give the event some added publicity - and watch the calendar more closely next year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Synopsis hell

Just how do you squash the setting, characters and plot of an entire, 68,000-word novel into 500 words?

Ask any writer and the chances are they'll tell you writing a synopsis is the single most difficult part of their job. I'm no exception, and tend to sweat blood whenever I have to summarise one of my works. Last time was bad enough, but that was for Necessity's Door which is only around 16,000 words long. This time, it's worse. Much, much worse.

I'm trying, I really am. I bashed away at the keyboard for a couple of hours this morning, stopped, hit the word count button, and found I'd done over 1,000 words. Without even trying. I hacked out as much as I could, stopped, checked again, and found it had crept down to about 800. I kicked the desk, hacked out a bit more, and got it down to 750.

Then I got really cross, and started chipping away at stuff I thought was necessary to explain the plot. After another twenty minutes of that I'd reduced the wretched thing to 588 words, and there I have stuck. I've read and re-read; I've fiddled and re-fiddled; but there's nothing else to come out - not if I want the overall piece to make the slightest bit of sense.

So, 588 it is. D'you think there's any chance that the publishers are too busy to count? :D

Monday, May 14, 2012

Necessity's Door excerpt

The excitement is building as the release date on Necessity's Door creeps ever closer (28th May, in case you'd forgotten).

We've finalised the edits. We've gone through a massive proof-reading excercise and I've accepted the final proof. And today, the publishers have released a nice long juicy excerpt of the story, which is available to read on their website.

So, if you'd like to read a bit and see whether the story, and my writing style, are your sort of thing, just pop over to the Riptide website. Scroll down the page and click on the small black tab marked 'excerpt', in the box at the bottom next to 'warnings' and 'additional details'.

Happy reading - and you'll see from the quote at the top of the excerpt where my title came from!

Friday, May 11, 2012

UK glbtq fiction meet 2012

This year I've finally got myself organised enough to book a place on the annual glbtq fiction meet-up, which is being held in Brighton. I'd wanted to go to the last couple of events but never quite made it - either we had holidays booked that clashed, or I simply forgot to book in time. But this year I'll be heading off to Brighton on Saturday 15th September, in order to meet up with lots of other glbtq authors and readers and hopefully have a thoroughly good time.

Not only that, but I've signed myself up to take part in the 'novel openings' panel, where authors will be reading out the first 150 words of their latest book. So, if you haven't bought or read Necessity's Door and want to find out if it's your cup of tea, now's your chance. Or will be, once September rolls around.

There are still places left for the weekend, so if you're interested in coming along and meeting some of your favourite authors (including, hopefully, me...) please head over to the official Meet-Up website for more details of how to book.

I'll post more details about the exact venue, time etc when September is a little closer to hand.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Walking with ravens

Sunday wasn't supposed to be up to much weather-wise, so we hadn't planned anything special. In the event the sun shone, the wind dropped and there was no sign of the promised rain, or even much in the way of cloud.

On a whim we decided it was too nice to stay indoors, dug out our boots and tackled the little fell at the back of Windermere, School Knott. It's only a tiddler at about 750 feet above sea-level, but the nice thing is there are a number of ways up it so you can vary the route. This time, we approached from the back, having first staggered up to Lickbarrow and then cut across the fields to Old Droomer (wonderful names...). After that we took part of the Dales Way, following a stream and crossing a ford in the direction of School Knott Tarn.

The air was wonderful - fresh yet warm in the sun - and everything smelled clean. Sheep munched the grass practically at our feet, the gorse was out, and when we hit the fell tops we heard the unmistakeable call of a raven. Looking up, we saw four different ravens circling overhead. Given how rare those birds are, it was an amazing and special sight.

The views from the Knott were amazing, too. The previous day's haze had cleared and we could see for miles in an unbroken 360-degree circle, including pretty much all the high ground in the north-west of England. The Conistons, the central fells, the eastern ranges, Shap, the Howgills, the Pennines... It may not be very high, but it's a staggeringly good viewpoint.

And we even made it home in time for a cup of tea and a sticky cake.

Just as well we took advantage of the sunshine, because yesterday was a typical bank holiday washout...

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Walking with coffins

I finished the first round of edits last night and sent them back to the publisher; they'll look them over and no doubt send me a 'second round' to get my teeth into but that will take a day or two so today I was actually free. In the meantime, Dave has also been working all the hours God gave, but he'd also reached a natural break in his work, so we decided to take the day off.

This morning we set off for the little village of Grasmere, which we haven't visited since an incredibly wet walk over a year ago. We could just have parked in one of the village car parks and stomped round the shops, but decided to be a bit more enterprising by dumping the car at White Moss and finding part of the old Corpse Road from Ambleside to Grasmere.

This isn't quite as ghoulish as it sounds. In Medieval times Ambleside had no church of its own, which meant no consecrated ground for burials. So every time anyone in the village died, their coffin had to be taken, by horse and cart or more usually by man-power alone, to the nearest church for proper Christian burial. In time, people found the best routes - compromising between distance and gradient - and the corpse or coffin routes were born.

At first we thought we'd taken a wrong turning since the path from the car park headed straight uphill at an alarming degree of steepness. Eventually, though, after much puffing past a waterfall and a gang of men repairing a dry-stone wall, we hit the coffin route proper. Neither of us had ever walked this way before, and discovered a whole new fascinating world, from White Moss Tarn which used to be used for washing wool, to the 'coffin resting stone' by the side of the track, where the men used to pause before the final, steep slope down into Grasmere. Add to that some lovely old farms and cottages, stunning views of the fells, and pretty woodland to boot, and it was a simply beautiful walk. We'll definitely be doing this one, or variations thereof, again.

Oh - and having a coffee sitting outdoors on a riverside terrace in Grasmere, watching the old church, with small birds zizzing this way and that after crumbs, was an added bonus.

And here's a picture of the coffin resting stone, just to prove I'm not making it up!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Can't talk... editing

This is just a tiny note to say that there's a reason I'm not being my usual chatty self, and it's called 'edits'.

The editing process is much harder work than most people realise (heck, it's harder than I realised before I started this writing lark) and fiddly and time-consuming to boot. So when I get a set of edits to work through, I pretty much have to abandon everything else, draw the curtains, ignore any distractions, and plod through them as quickly as I can.

This time, it's taken four whole days - and counting. But it'll be worth it in the end, and I'll be back with you when I can.