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charliecochrane [userpic]

World war one commemoration

February 11th, 2017 (08:20 pm)

Appropriate to the day, remembering some of the great rugby internationals who died in the Great War (the ones I haven't yet mentioned at length).

What about Dave Gallaher? His All Black shirt is among the memorabilia at the Saracens stadium.

Or Jimmy Dingle, one of several internationals from the England team who never made it home.

And the marvellous David Bedell-Sivright who once held up the traffic in Edinburgh by laying down on the tram tracks - nobody dared to shift him.

Check out some of the other heroes of battle, whether it be fifteen man a side or millions.


charliecochrane [userpic]

Because I love to bring you a bargain

February 11th, 2017 (03:10 pm)

Bold Strokes have a cracking little pre-Valentine's day sale. Ends minute tonight (EST) so if you fancy 10% off Don't Kiss the Vicar or Awfully Glad then nip over there quick.

dontkissthevicar-small   awfully-glad-final-cover-small

charliecochrane [userpic]

Samhain closing end of the month

February 10th, 2017 (02:00 pm)

Such a sad thing to see, the demise of another press, especially one to which I owe so much. I'll never regret being with them. Have already started the hunt for a new home for the first 8 Cambridge Fellows books, which were all I had at Samhain.

The point of this post, though, is to say that if you need to get any of books 1 to 8 in print or e-book then you've only got 18 days to do so. Some good bargains to be had at the site, too!


charliecochrane [userpic]

Guest author - my old mucker Jay Lewis Taylor

February 8th, 2017 (12:56 pm)

One of the great things for me about the 'Pride of Poppies' anthology project was getting to know Jay. He once did me the inestimable honour in a private chat of saying I was a ridiculous woman. He knows me too well. So pleased to have him back here today, not least because it means he has a new release.

So, old bean, is it still as exciting to publish your umpteenth story as your first?

Fourth as a definition of 'umpteenth' isn't in my dictionary 😉 but yes, it is still exciting. For one thing it's proof that I can still have the odd (sometimes very odd) idea crawling out of my brain cells; and then there is the excitement of hoping that my readers will like this one too. I know that 'Break of Another Day' is by no means a full-size book, but I really wanted to explore the questions left hanging in 'Across Your Dreams'.

When revisiting characters from a previous book, what are the challenges?

When I was writing Lew and Alan I found it relatively easy to drop back into Lew's point of view and to keep Alan in character; Alan is fairly much as other people see him, whether the reader is in his point of view or someone else's. With Jack the challenge was that readers have only ever seen him through other characters' eyes before: I had to get into his point of view and make it distinctive, and perhaps unexpected, while showing that other people would see him as the same exasperating devious git. (Jack is the character I'd like to be when I'm drunk; in my dreams, alas). The other challenge is working out exactly how much time has passed since the characters last appeared - this can be surprisingly difficult.

Have you made any terrible continuity errors? How do you ensure against contradictions?

I'm embarrassed to say that there are at least two minor contradictions even in something that got as much reading and re-reading as 'Across your Dreams' - they were addressed in the paperback edition, and I say 'at least' because I'm not sure I haven't left something out of place even now. Very easy when something covers a huge span of time, although I do make myself a chapter list when writing a novel, which effectively works as a continuity check.

'Intimate Meanings' takes place during November-February, so not so huge, but - perhaps because of that - I did perpetrate one enormous continuity slip. I wrote that story after 'Heritage of Heart', although chronologically it takes place beforehand, and my writing brain implanted a change in the earlier setting that only happened in the later one. It wasn't until Julie Bozza, my editor at Manifold, pointed it out that I realised. Editors (and proof-readers) are the best insurance - writers take note, and pay attention to what they say!

Do you get bored with your characters? How do you make sure they stay fresh for both author and reader?

I don't think I could get bored with my characters; at least, I can't have yet, or I wouldn't still be writing about them. The trouble is stopping myself from replaying the loop of favourite settings. I have a couple of failed starts for something featuring Lew and Alan in the 1930s which I have had to stop for the moment, as the chaps seem to spend all their time having breakfast. I think the thing about keeping characters fresh is that, while they are also - one hopes - loved as they are, there are only so many new challenges one can put in their way. It's all about finding the balance.

You've taken a minor character and made him the focus of this story. Was that always the intention at the time of writing 'Across your Dreams'? Will any other characters be cropping up in stories in the future?

Jack's whole appearance in 'Across your Dreams' was unintentional, in a manner of speaking - he was not meant to be like that, but when Russ walked into his shop and Jack shouted from the dark-room, there he was, completely himself without my having to think about it. It was only when people kept commenting about him after 'Across your Dreams' was published that I started wondering what would happen to him afterwards.

I may, one day, finish the 1930s stories with Lew and Alan, which will take them close to 1939; so I think readers will be seeing more of the 'Across your Dreams' team in 1939-1945, though what form anything will take I can't tell, right now. I hope there will be an appearance by Celia Vavasour in the not-too-distant future.

Will we be getting a follow up to 'The Peacock's Eye'?

It's possible. (Who spotted the clue in 'Across your Dreams'?). The year 1613 was very interesting for all sorts of reasons, and I do have an idea. However, whether it's an idea that will sustain a whole novel, or whether it will be another Espresso Shot, I don't know.

Finally, I'd like to thank Manifold Press for taking 'Break of Another Day' on to the Espresso Shots list, and to wish Manifold's two new authors, Heloise West and Dorian Dawes, all the very best!

Break of Another Day


charliecochrane [userpic]

Guest author - Dorian Dawes

February 7th, 2017 (08:36 pm)

It's always a pleasure to meet different people through this here writing lark. They usually turn out to be nice, and Dorian is no exception. So...

What inspired you to start writing?

Telling stories and inventing characters and worlds has been something I've done ever since I was a kid. My sisters and I used to play in the woods and create long-running narratives over the course of entire summers. Writing fiction was the next logical step, and it's all I've ever really wanted to do with my life.

What does it feel like watching your first book fledge and leave the nest?

When I first got that acceptance letter, my boyfriend heard me gasping in the other room and rushed to make sure I was okay. He found me a quivering, sobbing mess. I had to reassure him that this was good news! This has been a lifelong dream for me and seeing my work finally get out into the world is humbling beyond words.

What was the inspiration for Harbinger Island? 

I'd been particularly hungry for something specific within the fantasy genre, something modern but filled with darkness and conspiracy. I wanted X-Files with magic! So I started writing out a scenario and tested the idea and world in a tabletop campaign for my gaming group. Later, I expanded the universe and penned additional stories within the setting and it pretty much evolved from there! 

Are you character or plot driven? What sort of characters do you like to write?

My favorite plots tend to be the ones driven by characters. People who do things, investigate, cause problems; they're the most interesting to write about. I also really love writing about good people who sometimes do horrible things and the fallout from those decisions and how they deal with that.

If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why?

Professor Bartleby Prouse! He's had a lifetime collecting all manner of knowledge and some fairly dangerous artifacts. His ability to analyze a situation and call upon exactly what it needs makes him truly formidable. More importantly, it is his tenacity to protect others even in the face of overwhelming evil. The worse things get, the harder he fights.

What’s your favourite LGBT book? And why? 

I've been thinking about Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite lately. It's about a gay serial killer and the relationship to his victims, with many parallels to the Jeffrey Dahmer case. It's a beautiful book filled with human ugliness, as erotic and seductive as it is barbaric and horrifying. I think it's important to me as the characters show more depth and humanity than they do in many works of token gay fiction. Poppy's characters are allowed to be horrible to each other, to display their naked raw vulnerabilities. They aren't polite or nice or meant to be good representation. They're just people, and that's what I want to write.

What's your next project? 

I've just finished work on a sci-fi adventure comedy following a transgender bounty hunter in her mission to uncover an ancient alien temple on a hostile planet. It's a significant tonal departure from Harbinger Island and it's a lot of fun. I can only hope people who follow my work aren't too terribly confused!

Buy Links for Harbinger Island:


charliecochrane [userpic]

Rainbow snippets goes with a 'Best of' Nominee

February 5th, 2017 (07:48 pm)

Jury of One is up for Best Contemporary 2016 at Love Romances Café. (The voting begins at 12 pm est (USA) on Tuesday February 7th at the LR Café Yahoo Group and runs to midnight February 14th.)

“You need a proper meal, some footie on the telly, and an early night. You’ll be back to your usual self in the morning.” Adam pulled his partner into an embrace, rubbing his head against the side of Robin’s neck. “Go and have a proper soak in the bath while I get the rest of that casserole out of the freezer. Beef. You need it to build you up.”
“Sounds like heaven.” Robin gave him a smacking kiss. “Talking of which, when you say ‘early night’, do you have any plans for it apart from sleeping?”
“Wait and see. Maybe if you smelled less like a wrestler’s jockstrap, you’d be in with a chance.”
“Bloody hell, I’d better get in that bath, then.” Robin stifled a yawn. “You should come and bang on the door every five minutes. I could sleep for a week.”
“Take Campbell in the bathroom with you. Newfoundlands are supposed to be ideal for water rescues.”


More excerpts at the excellent Rainbow snippets group.

charliecochrane [userpic]

WWI commemoration - book recommendation

February 4th, 2017 (03:31 pm)

I put Code Breakers (by James Wyllie and Michael McKinley) on my Christmas list because while I'd read loads of stuff about the codebreakers of Bletchley, I'd not delved so deeply into the world of Room 40, and the feats of the redoubtable Blinker Hall. I have learned so much, not just about the volume and nature of decoded material that was produced - and the usual inter departmental squabbles about who should be in charge of making use of it - but also about the events across the Atlantic that drew the USA into the conflict. Highly recommended book.

Of course, Jonty and Orlando both spent some time working for Room 40, thanks to Mr. Stewart's friendship with Blinker. Both of them have been very cagey in terms of telling me exactly what they did, but this book has given me some definite clues. Part of Jonty's role had to be acting as the sort of decoy MIib also had, somebody who could provide a front to the office and give 'the impression of a typical British idiot'. Orlando would have been doing the decoding, no doubt irritated by being surrounded by linguists and classicists.


charliecochrane [userpic]

Newsletter 168

February 3rd, 2017 (12:38 pm)

By the time you get this I should be in possession of two fewer teeth (dirty great big ones, too!) which should make my mouth a happier place. And if you get this at an odd time, my scheduling has gone up the spout.


Always fun to belatedly find a good review (this one was from last June!). It’s for the audio version of Lessons in Love.
“This was a lovely historical mystery…” read more at Books, Coffee and Captured Moments.

My next full length romance, Broke Deep, is up for pre-order.

Here’s an exclusive, unedited snippet:

Late morning, the doorbell went off with its horribly insistent tone. Morgan smoothed his hair and put on a smile—the best sort of smile he could manage on a day when he’d woken at five o’clock in the morning and not managed to get back to sleep. The fact he’d been having an erotic dream involving James hadn’t made things any easier.
He was bloody glad he’d made some effort on his appearance when he glimpsed the vision of hotness through the hall window. This had to be a lost surfer boy or someone who’d come to the coast to find himself a job as a lifeguard and then somehow got hopelessly off track. It couldn’t be Dominic, because blokes like this didn’t usually knock on the door of Cadoc for any legitimate reason to do with the occupant.
Morgan hesitated, hand on the doorknob. If real life was like a gay romance book, this would be Dominic and they’d bond over a discussion of James, one full of shared hatred for the bloke. The next minute they’d be taking a romantic walk on the beach and maybe tonight they’d drag each other up the stairs and...
The doorbell rang again and Morgan realised he was still standing fantasising. He opened the door in a rush just as “surfer boy type who might just be Dominic” had turned to go back down the path.
“Sorry I took so long,” Morgan said, as brightly as he could manage.
“I thought there was nobody in.” Surfer boy smiled, which reignited memories of last night’s dream. Morgan squirmed. “There’s a bloke here to see you, only he’s gone off to take some pictures and he asked me to come over and say he’d arrived.” Surfer boy waved airily in the direction of a bright red hire car, parked next to the gate.
“Are you a friend of his?” Surely this couldn’t be Dominic’s boyfriend, although a twin brother would be good.
“No. We met on the plane and when he heard where I was heading he said he’d give me a lift, so I didn’t have to wait for a bus. My girlfriend lives up on the main road.” Surfer boy grinned, looking stupidly handsome, even more so for being clearly unavailable. “Stroke of luck on my part. Eh?”
“You did well for yourself.” Morgan sighed as he scanned the line of the hedge. “Has your chauffeur gone walkabout?”
“Probably. He seems a bit of a fanatic; something to do with ships or timbers or whatever. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention. I bet he’s seen an interesting piece of wood and gone to take a sample or something.” Surfer boy—straight, unavailable surfer boy—smiled again, then adjusted his backpack. “Right. Unless I want a dose of earache I’d better be on my way. Bye.” He turned on his heels and walked off down the path towards the gate, duty done.
“Bye,” Morgan answered, watching him go and wondering why life was never like gay romance books.

Don’t forget:

Deadly Dames will be at Portsmouth Book Fest trying to sound intelligent and amusing on the subject of 'Nemesis with knitting needles'. Saturday 18th February,
Tickets available now! Do come and insult—sorry, consult—us. You’ll be able to see the post-teeth op mess my face will be in.

And finally, one of the places that inspired Broke Deep.

charliecochrane [userpic]

Guest author Heloise West

February 2nd, 2017 (02:08 pm)

Delighted to welcome Heloise, who has a brand spanking new story - Ardent - out with Manifold.

Heloise, thanks for being my guest. What inspired you to start writing?

I always had a vivid imagination as a kid, and once I learned to read and write, I started putting narratives together from the books I read. Not fanfic, but kind of derivative of the things I liked reading about. I wrote pirate stories, caper, post apocalyptic, a gothic romance, and fantasy. It was both an escape and a way to cope, I think. Still is. Mostly I was, and still am, inspired by reading the words of others, but I found my own voice and narrative. I always wanted to be the mind behind the story—which was how I described wanting to be a writer to myself as a kid.

Does it feel different when you're launching your fourth book compared to the first?

Yes, I’m definitely much calmer about it, but still excited. Things have changed in the last two years in publishing, especially in the small press, so I never really know what to expect.

Why this particular setting and era?

I think Ardent sprouted from a seed dropped way back when in Art History 101 with a very long germination time. The first novel I ever finished was an Italian medieval mystery set in Tuscany during the time of Dante, and I spent a lot of time reading books backwards and forwards on that timeline. For me, I think all roads lead to Florence. There was so much going on during the Italian Renaissance, so many personalities, conflicts, innovations. Much of the material I found wasn’t taught in undergraduate classes, either. It would be difficult for me not to find a story to write by reading between the lines of this particular era in history.

Are you character or plot driven? What do you do if one of your characters starts developing at a tangent?

Character driven. Well, there’s quite a few characters in Ardent who have their own complicated stories to tell, and I was hoping they would continue to speak to me after Ardent was finished. There is so much more to explore here, from so many different perspectives.

If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why?

Falcone. Who also has the most developed next story in this universe. Falcone is morally complicated, an abandoned child who had to learn to fend for himself, who also loves beauty and music. His loyalty and love, however, once earned, is unwavering, and he would do anything for that person who earned it.

If you had no constraints of time and a guarantee of publication, what book would you write?

My Italian medieval mystery ended up being a mess, but it was my learning project. The main characters are still compelling to me, as is the place and time. It occurred to me that I could create an AU with strong fantasy elements where Dante goes to hell and curses Florence by unleashing the inhabitants on them. I’d need the time to do submerge myself in the research and developing the AU.

Is there a classic book you started and simply couldn't finish?

Crime and Punishment *hangs head*

What’s your favourite gay fiction book? And why?

Only one? Okay, The Persian Boy. I re-read that one every few years. I love Bagoas’ voice. It’s not a romance, but the love story between him and Alexander makes the historical aspect even more compelling and vivid.

What's your next project?

Well, speaking of historicals, the rights for my short story from the Dreamspinner anthology Juicy Bits were just returned to me. I’m thinking of self-pubbing it as an erotic historical, as it’s not technically a romance. The premise for the anthology was to write just the juicy bits from a romance, so they didn’t have time to get to the learning to love part. I’m undecided about expanding it, as it feels complete to me as it is. But I’ll let that simmer on the back burner for a while, see what my subconscious comes up with. The story is called River Gods, set later in the Renaissance in Florence. There’s another murder mystery beckoning, set in this same time period and place, basically after Savonrola’s death. I’m also working on a novel for the Order of the Black Knights multiauthor series with Dreamspinner, and edits for the third novel in my Heart and Haven series with Loose Id.


In the village of Torrenta, master painter Morello has created a color that mimics the most expensive pigment of all, the crimson red. Master Zeno, from strife-ridden Medici Florence, tells him the color gives him a competitive advantage – but Morello must be careful. Fraud is ever-present in the dye and pigment markets.
As they work together in Torrenta, Morello falls hard for Zeno’s assistant, Benedetto Tagliaferro, a young man of uncommon beauty and intelligence. Benedetto is still fixed on his old lover, the master painter Leo Guisculo, and cannot return Morello’s affections.
But when Leo dies in a terrible accident, it’s to Morello that Zeno and Benedetto turn for help. And Morello soon finds that in Florence, every surface hides layers of intrigue.


charliecochrane [userpic]

The real Turing

February 1st, 2017 (12:18 pm)

"The Imitation Game" is a good film, so long as you take it as Alan Turing fanfiction. Its resemblance to reality is not to be relied on. One of the many things that annoys me about the plot is the way it portrays Turing as a pathetic individual towards the end of his life, which doesn't accord with his biographies. This article about the people who knew him at the time is fascinating, and includes the intriguing story of the fortune teller, which they bloody well should have put into the film, rather than making stuff up.

Rant over.

On a happier note have a sketch I did of my eldest daughter's guinea pigs riding a motorbike. As guinea pigs are wont to do.