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This book has taken so long to write, abandon, come back to, fiddle with, abandon again, then finally finish, polish, submit and, with a final buff up, it’s actually ready to go!

My goodness it feels weird to be promoting one of my books instead of someone else’s!

Blurb:
Borrowed from the Secret Intelligence Service cipher department to assist Briers Allerdale – a field agent returning to 1920s London with news of a dangerous anarchist plot – Miles Siward moves into a ‘couples only’ boarding house, posing as Allerdale’s ‘wife’. Miles relishes the opportunity to allow his alter ego, Millie, to spread her wings but if Miles wants the other agent’s respect he can never betray how much he enjoys being Millie nor how attractive he finds Allerdale.

Pursuing a ruthless enemy who wants to throw Europe back into the horrors of the Great War, Briers and Miles are helped and hindered by nosy landladies, water board officials, suave gentlemen representing foreign powers and their own increasing attraction to each other.

Will they catch their quarry? Will they find love? Could they hope for both?

The clock is ticking.

68,000 words/ 248 pages
$5.95

Publication 1 August 2016

It’s preorderable from Amazon US, Amazon UK and Smashwords

And here’s an excerpt from Chapter One:

Siward picked up a small leather bag and led Briers out of the back of the building into a cobbled court.

“Nice car,” Briers said, admiring the vehicle’s powerful lines. “Armstrong-Siddeley?”

Siward opened the dickey seat and crammed his bag down into it. “Four-Fourteen Tourer, Mendip model. It was George’s,” he said as he got into his seat. “He only drove it twice. I’m keeping it in tune while he’s convalescing.”

Briers waited until Siward had turned the car and driven it out onto Buckingham Gate before he spoke again.

“How is your brother?” he asked.

“As well as can be expected.” Siward drove carefully, without much dash, content to follow a coster’s cart until sure it was safe to pass it. He glanced at Briers and smiled – a polite but unconvincing grimace. “Thank you for asking. He’s walking now, at least, and is his cheerful self, but we don’t know how long it will be before he can get back to work. He misses it.”

Briers expected he did. He didn’t know the details – all very hush-hush – and hesitated to embarrass Siward by asking. “Your brother’s a brave man. He could have cut and run. He didn’t owe his informant anything.”

“Yes, he did.” Siward’s reply was sharp. “The man was risking just as much as George was, if not more. And he got George to the border, injured though he was. I hope … I hope if ever I’m in a similar situation, I have half the courage. In comparison with that, anyone should be proud to do what they can, even if it’s not what they expected to be asked to do.”

“I see,” Briers said. Once Siward had taken the turn into Victoria Street he broke their silence again. “So – this business. Mildred?”

“Dear God in Heaven.” Siward sighed. “Don’t think I’m doing it because I like it. I just happen to be very, very good at it.”

“And how did you discover that?” Briers asked. “No, honestly. I’m genuinely curious, not poking fun.” He turned a little on the broad seat and studied Siward’s profile. “We’re going to be in close quarters for a while and I like to know a bit about the people I work with. Was it at school?”

Siward’s flush was immediate. Even the narrow strips of skin visible between his cuffs and his driving gloves went pink. “I didn’t go to school. I had rheumatic fever when I was six and again when I was nine, so I stayed with my parents and we hired a local tutor wherever we happened to be. Hence all the different languages, I suppose. No, it was when I went up to Cambridge. I read English and wasn’t doing too well. My supervisor – dear me, even he was a war hero – suggested I join the Shakespeare performance society. He felt it might give me more insight. I’m not sure it worked as he intended but, over my time there, I think I played all the main female leads – Viola, Ophelia, Rosalind, Beatrice, even Lady Macbeth. I enjoyed the challenge but that was Shakespeare, with all the weight of tradition of men playing female roles. Out in the street, it’s something else entirely.”

“We all have to play roles in this business,” Briers said. “Just remember you are doing something unique. Something I most certainly couldn’t do.”

Siward replied with a peevish snort. “Well, no, because you are a proper stalwart type. You don’t get people sneering at you barely behind your back. I bet you played rugger and boxed for your college.”

“Good guess.” Briers chuckled. “Rugby League was the big thing in my house. Pa was a follower of St Helens and when I was born, the week before they played in the Challenge Cup, he named me after the entire front row.”

“Briers?” Siward’s tone was sympathetic.

“Briers Winstanley Allerdale,” Briers said. “Actually it should have been Winstanley Briers Winstanley, because the brothers were playing, but even Pa wouldn’t go that far. Being Brian Carstairs for a week or two will come as something of a relief.”

Siward chuckled. “So your father was a Rugby League enthusiast. What about your mother? Are they still with you?”

“Yes, bless them. Pa is a country doctor, with a practice outside Eccleston. Ma – well she organises things, mostly Pa. I’ve got a younger brother who’s in the practice with Pa and a sister who’s courting.”

“Someone suitable, I hope?” Siward said. “Do they know what you do?”

Briers shrugged. “I think Pa has guessed. The others think I’m something to do with steel production, which I am some of the time.”

“That must be difficult,” Siward said. “At least when I write to my family I can tell them a little of my daily life. A clerical post with the government is close enough to the truth.”

“Just how many languages do you speak?” Briers asked.

“Five usefully.” Siward’s tone was matter of fact. “One picks them up easily as an infant and my nursemaids were a mixed bunch. I could speak Czech and Serbian by the time I was three and learned this odd kind of dialect mixture of Macedonian and Bulgarian from an Embassy driver who had the most wonderful pet ferrets.”

Briers laughed. “So if ever I need someone to give a talk to the ferret fanciers of Skopje…?”

“I’m your man,” Siward said. Their eyes met for a moment and both grinned. “Charing Cross.” Siward nodded to the turn ahead. “Why don’t you nip in and get your baggage while I turn the car around?”

Update

It’s been a while since I last posted here so what’s new?

I’ve had a super review from Lena Grey writing for Rainbow Book Reviews of my sunny little novella of Ancient Greece, Alike As Two Bees, which Lena describes as an ‘endearing love story’.

I became quite attached to the characters and, although they ride off into the sunset to their happily ever after at the end of the story, I’d love to read more about them in the future. I’d recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a sweet historical romance where love prevails regardless of the circumstances.

Many thanks, Lena, for that. It gave me a real boost.

The other big news is that I have finally finished the revisions to Eleventh Hour, a book I started in 2011! I’ve poked and tweaked it til it squeaked and it has been submitted to a lovely British based publisher with the following blurb:

“Don’t think I’m doing it because I like it. I just happen to be very, very good at it.”

Borrowed from the Secret Intelligence Service cipher department to assist Briers Allerdale, a field agent newly arrived in 1920s London with news of a dangerous anarchist plot, Miles Siward moves into a ‘couples only’ boarding house with him, posing as his ‘wife’. Secretly Miles relishes the opportunity to allow his alter ego, Millie, to spread her wings but if Miles wants the other agent’s respect he can never ever betray how much he enjoys being Millie nor how attractive he finds Allerdale.

Setting up their surveillance post Briers Allerdale realises there’s more at stake in this job than his life. The more time he spends with Millie, the greater the risk to their lives and their country, the closer he comes to losing his heart.

Pursuing a ruthless enemy who wants to throw Europe back into the horrors of the Great War, Briers and Miles are helped and hindered by nosy landladies, water board officials, suave gentlemen representing foreign powers and their own increasing attraction.

Will they catch their quarry? Will they find love? Could they hope for both?

The clock is ticking.

It’s hard to type with ones fingers crossed isn’t it?

Fingers crossed

Talk Like a Pirate Day

In case you didn’t know today, September 19th, is the annual Talk Like a Pirate Day. Why Sept 19th? Blowed if I know. Why NOT Sept 19th?

Anyhow, just because I like pirates, here’s a long piratey snippet from On A Lee Shore:

Amidships the party was getting rowdy as the musicians sawed, pounded, or whistled. One crew challenged the other to wrestle and made wagers on the outcome. It looked like anarchy, but there were men in the waist of the ship who stepped in if the struggle got too aggressive. Kit found himself laughing as he watched Saunders, bottle held safely out of the way, battering a brawny pirate about the shoulders with the despised volume of Homer.

Saunders spotted Kit, abandoned the brawlers, and made his way to his side. He offered O’Neill a swig from his bottle and leaned back against the transom.

“What a to-do,” he said. “Damn fellow knocked my bottle over, would have spilled it if I hadn’t looked sharp.”

“So inconsiderate,” Kit nodded to the book, “and he made you lose your place.”

“Hanging is too good,” O’Neill commented as he offered the bottle to Kit, who shook his head. O’Neill passed it back to Saunders.

“Barbuda,” Saunders said suddenly. “That is our destination. There I should be able to replenish our medicine chest—try as I might the men will keep catching things. While we are in port they will have the opportunity to catch some more I wouldn’t wonder. “

“Something to look forward to then—you and your syringe.” O’Neill grinned as Kit shuddered. “And what will you do, Mr. Penrose?”

“He will give his parole,” Saunders said, “as befits an officer of His Majesty’s Navy, and will accompany me to Willaerts coffee house to see if we can trade this unlovely item for something more elevating.” He waved the book again. “Or he will not give his parole and will spend our time in port chained to a long gun—possibly. It depends on our lord and master’s whim.”

Kit’s spirits had sunk to hear that, and he shook his head. “You must see that I can’t give my word not to try and escape?” he said. “I can promise to guide the ship to safe waters, but I won’t take part in acts of piracy or neglect my duty to return to my post.”

“You’re a fool then,” O’Neill said, without rancour. “This can be a fine life for those of us cast out. Half the men on board here would be hanged or starving, else. True there are a few who would knife a blind beggar for half a groat, but most are just getting along.”

“Indeed we are,” Saunders said. “I too, Kit, was once part of your glorious institution,” he said the word with great relish. “But I too fell foul of the authorities. I lost the life of a man rather than, as in your case, Kit, losing a mere boat. That I had a drink or two taken was seen as the reason for his demise, though a far better and soberer doctor than I would have been hard pressed to save him. So—they consigned me to Gehenna.”

“Gehenna? I wouldn’t have described the Africa as Gehenna,” Kit said. Saunders had mentioned the wreck of the Malvern, so he was half expecting a reference to the cities of the plains. Gehenna had thrown him.

“Hah! No! You’re right. The Africa is an abode of angels. I was referring to the Army!” Saunders rolled his eyes and took a drink to wash away the memory. “No wonder I ran away to sea. Come, Kit, you must have a drink with me to celebrate our disgrace and our subsequent escape from tedious respectability.”

Kit took the bottle, containing God knew what. “To tedious respectability,” he said and made a creditable mime of taking a sip until O’Neill slapped him hard on the back. Kit choked down a mouthful and coughed.

“Well done, Lieutenant Penrose, sir,” Saunders crowed. “We’ll make a pirate of you yet.”

“If I live!” Kit wiped his tongue on the back of his hand. “Trying to drum up trade, sir? That’s truly awful.”

“Isn’t it though?” O’Neill said taking the bottle. “Now you hit me while I take a swig.”

A Taste of Copper will be released, God willing and all that, by Love Lane Books Limited on September 26th.

Here’s the cover and blurb.

A Taste of Copper

Your master has the field for today, but his name, whatever it might be, is without honour.

Olivier the squire worships the Black Knight and takes a fierce joy in his prowess as he defends a bridge against all comers. Olivier only wishes that his master loved him as much in return instead of treating him as a servant and occasional plaything.

Then word comes that the King desires to cross the bridge. With an army approaching, a bright eyed archer enticing him to desert and the first cracks beginning to show in the Black Knight’s gruff demeanour, Olivier is left wondering if his honour is worth more than a chance for happiness.

More information and an excerpt or two when the edits are done!!

Bollocks!

No, that’s not me being gratuitously rude!! That’s the title of the forthcoming anthology of stories that will be published by Wayward Ink Publishing, a brand new initiative that will be accepting Gay Fiction as well as romance titles!! Links to their website as soon as it’s available but you can follow them on Facebook right now.

Bollocks! is a collection of British themed stories that plumbs the depths of our very broad and earthy sense of humour. I’ve chipped in with a story of angst, passion and Mars Bars. Here’s the official blurb and stuff!

Bollocks as a word is a little naughty. It’s a little cheeky. It’s a little rude.
And it’s the tongue-in-cheek theme for this collection of short stories celebrating all things English.
You’ll discover a bonk is not a typo for somewhere to keep your money.
A shag isn’t something thick and plush under your feet to keep them warm, though it is guaranteed to heat you up!
And as for a snog, the boys of Bollocks! can assure you it’s worth finding out what that Brit term means.
The stories will make you laugh.
They’ll make you snort.
They’ll make you blush.
Sigh—they’ll probably make you shake your head.
They may even make you want to catch the next flight to England to find something a little British of your own!
It’s not just cricket, or jolly hockey sticks, it’s more… it’s the very British, Bollocks!

More information to follow when available.

Update

It’s a while since I’ve done one of these. There have been so many good books to read and so many good authors to promote that I haven’t been bothering to blog.

Extra points if you recognise who used this diary in which film. Answer below

Mostly this is because I didn’t have much to write about on my own account. I’ve betaed a few terrific novels over the past year but haven’t actually written much. Circumstances change and take some adjustment. I prefer to think of 2013 as a ‘laying fallow’ year rather than a waste of time. I read a LOT, re-read old favourites, fell in love with Harry Dresden for the first time and with Adrien English all over again, immersed myself in the Shadow of the Templar and Falls Chance Ranch. It was comfort reading and there’s nothing in the world wrong with that. I attended the 2013 UK Meet, met wonderful people. I interviewed authors, promoted books, hosted guest posts. But I didn’t write. This year, as of mid-March, I have already written more words than I did in the whole of 2013!

So, I haven’t got a lot to talk about, but Sue Roebuck tagged me in a writing progress meme – check hers out, she’s been busy – so that’s made me take stock.

1. What am I working on?

At the moment I have a short story on the go which may or may not meet the 31st March deadline. Sheep’s Clothing is about a Londoner trying to make a new life somewhere rural and I hope that it will be light and amusing. If I don’t make the deadline with it I’ll see if I can get a cover made for it and offer it as a free ebook. I have finished the first draft of Eleventh Hour, a spy story set in London in the 1920s. At the moment it is in a file fermenting for a bit before I try the second draft. The first is rough as a badger’s chuff but I think could be made fun.

I have another long short – about 25k – called A Taste of Copper that was inspired by the Black Knight sketch from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In January I received a revise and resubmit request for it in January from Riptide Publishing, did a very fast turn around and sent it back on 17th January. Since their normal response time to a slush pile request is 3 to 4 months, it’s at least another 4 weeks before I can legitimately email to ask for confirmation that the editor received the MS. I’m doing my best not to think about it. This is hard.

2. How does my work differ from others?

I’m not sure that being different from others in ones genre is a good idea. People go to M/M to read lots of good red hot explicit man on man boinking. Disappoint them at your peril. It will be reflected in your reviews and your sales.

I do disappoint. Sex happens in my books, eventually, but it’s the fact that it has happened and the effects it has on the relationship that is important, not whose hands/mouth/feet/other body parts went where, how often and from what exact angle. I have read thousands of brilliant mainstream novels where this was acceptable and am saddened that books with gay protagonists can’t be accepted as just being part of their genre – horror, sci fi, historical, detective – without having to have the erotica label applied to them as well.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think well written sex scenes can complement a plot and can be informative about a character, but I don’t think it’s fair or sensible that a 400 page novel with two short plot relevant sex scenes and a 25 page short that is just one joyous explosion of bonking will both be advertised as Gay Erotica. Likewise, books that, had the protagonists been straight, would have been advertised as sci fi, thriller or historical get lumped in with romance if the protagonists are two men.

As more authors dip their toes into writing genre fiction with gay protagonists, and all the rest of the rainbow too, I don’t think the M/M label is serving us well and we need something else to help readers find us. Any suggestions gratefully received, but because M/M s just so handy to type and fits into almost any blurb, I can’t see changes being made any time soon.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Some years ago I saw a plaintive comment from a well known gay male author – no names no pack drill – along the lines of “Where are all the good humoured historical stories with gay protagonists where they end up happy instead of dead?” and thought “Damn, I’ve been writing things like that for close to 40 years”.

I write action adventure stories, often historical, about gay men. I have never read M/F romance, apart from Georgette Heyer, but preferred what my husband describes as bloke books with masses of plot and action, where the heroes swing from the rigging, or charge with the Light Brigade or keep their heads down in the trenches. Sometimes there’s romance but generally the important relationships are man to man – Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin spring to mind. I have been writing stories all my life and they were almost always about men, or about dreadful Mary-Sue women doing their damndest to BE men [but as a confused teenager I forgive myself for that]. Dropping the female protagonist was a huge relief and for years I wrote stories with male protagonists who were BFFs edging into romance. Adding a teaspoon of love between the guys just seemed logical if they care about each other that much and it ups their stress levels enormously when they are in danger.

Then I discovered that other people were actually publishing that kind of thing – only with more emphasis on sex and romance – so I thought I’d have a bash at it.

4. How does my writing process work?

Not very well at the moment. My circumstances changed radically last year when my husband retired and the hours I could spend in the evenings have been cut right back. However ideally the process would be as follows:

  • Get an idea and think about it for a year or so
  • Do the background reading
  • Work out first draft in head
  • Transcribe first draft from head to computer early in the morning before anyone else is awake
  • Suffer existential angst about a 3rd into the story that halts writing
  • Overcome angst and carry on, or abandon project and work on something else
  • Finish project, hate it, put it aside
  • Look it out some months later and decide that it might be better with more work
  • 2nd draft then off to the darling betas
  • 3rd draft with edits and polish
  • Try to decide what to do with the finished MS

That’s actually the easy part of the process. Once the writing is done there’s the submission process. If the book is good enough to be accepted there’s the editing process. Then – Oh God – marketing! Writing a book is just a little bit of the work.

Oh the diary? Highlight down to the star – it belonged to Indiana Jones, my absolute hero. I’d love to rewrite Raiders of the Lost Ark so he’s in love with Martin Ravenwood instead of Marion. *

Sadly this is necessary again this year, what with Eastern European countries refusing to pass laws against violence to women for fear that it might benefit lesbians, Uganda set on a return to the Middle Ages, religious groups tearing each other and themselves apart over the vexed question of how equal does equality mean, others railing against same sex marriage as an attack on the sanctity of increasingly short lived, adulterous and leading to divorce traditional marriage and what seems to be increasing attacks on transgender people everywhere.

I am taking part again with a post on homelessness about LGBT youth. Just click on the picture below to be directed to my blog where you can comment for a chance to have a donation made to the Albert Kennedy Trust in your name plus win a title from my back catalogue.

Nearly 200 authors, book bloggers and publishers are taking part. Click the picture below to reach the hop.

Reviews

I’m so delighted and relieved that some reviews are finally coming in for On A Lee Shore. It’s always an edgy waiting period. The publisher handles the lists of reviewers and authors are warned not to bother them, not to duplicate submissions, so there’s nothing at all one can do other than wait. And worry.

Will they hate it? Might they like it?

Mrs Condit Reads: On a Lee Shore is rich in period detail, full of wonderful characters, not just Kit and Le Griffe, but also of the vast array of secondary characters. The book is very well researched; I felt I was living the pirate life along with Kit. The story pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go.

Manic Readers: If you love pirates, and hot guys loving each other, you’ll find it in On a Lee Shore. Read this now! You won’t be disappointed.

So far, thank goodness, they seem to like it.

On with the WIPs!

Early 18th century shenanigans on the high seas

On A Lee Shore

“Give me a reason to let you live…”

Beached after losing his ship and crew, and with England finally at peace, Lt Christopher Penrose will take whatever work he can get. A valet? Why not? Escorting an elderly diplomat to the Leeward Islands seems like an easy job, but when their ship is boarded by pirates, Kit’s world is turned upside down. Forced aboard the pirate ship, Kit finds himself juggling his honor with his desire to stay alive, not to mention his desire for the alarming–yet enticing–captain, known as La Griffe.

Kit has always obeyed the rules, but as the pirates plunder their way across the Caribbean, he finds much to admire in their freedom. He deplores their lawlessness but is drawn to their way of life, and begins to think he might just have found a purpose. Dare he dream of finding love too? Or would loving a pirate take him too far down the road to ruin?

Buy Links:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
B&N
Kobo
All Romance eBooks

New release – On A Lee Shore

I have the final version of the cover for “On A Lee Shore”, designed by Mina Carter!

No fixed release date yet and no official blurb but here’s what I put on my CAM form:

“Give me a reason to let you live.”

Beached after losing his ship and crew and with England finally at peace, Lt Christopher Penrose will take whatever work he can get. A valet? Why not? Escorting an elderly diplomat to the Leeward Islands seems like an easy job until the morning their ship is attacked by pirates and Kit’s world is turned upside down. Forced aboard the pirate ship Kit soon finds himself juggling his determination to stay true to his honour with the requirements of the crew and the alarming yet enticing requests of the captain. Kit has always obeyed the rules, though sometimes it has been painful, but now the rules have changed and Kit feels himself to be adrift in a chartless ocean.

As the pirates plunder their way across the Caribbean, Kit finds much to admire in their freedom, while deploring their lawless ways, and is drawn into their way of life.  He finds friendship with Saunders, the acerbic doctor, Denny the elderly cabin boy, and Lewis and Protheroe, genial rapscallions who are often hand in hand. He makes powerful enemies. He finds a purpose – the greatest robbery ever committed. Dare he dream of finding love, too, or would loving a pirate take him too far down the road to ruin?

Coming soon from Etopia Press

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