Friday, April 4, 2014

It's no one's fault.

Autism Fact: Autism is not caused by a person's upbringing and is not the fault of the individual with the condition.

The topic the blog participants have been given this year is 'What have you learned from a child'. 

Lordy, this is a tough one. As a mother, I never stop learning from my son. It's been a privilege to watch him grow from a drooling, chubby little baby who was always fascinated with the colour supplements from the newspapers to a cheeky lounge lizard with a smart answer for everything. 

When you have a baby, no one presents with you with an instruction manual. Once you leave the maternity ward, you're on your own. You are faced with the frightening responsibility of caring for a helpless infant. You soon learn that babies become slippery little buggers when you put them in a bath, that little boys will do a pretty decent impression of the Trevi Fountain when you take their nappies (diapers) off , that they often prefer home-made baby food to the goo that comes in jars. 

As they grow older, you learn from their silences. Silence in the playroom probably means that you're going to walk in and find it looks like an explosion in a Lego factory, with a few plastic dinosaurs thrown in for good measure. Silence after a day at school can often mean something more sinister, like a bullying incident, or a ticking-off from a much-loved teacher. 

When you drop a dramatic change into a child's life, you learn that they have a resilience beyond their years. Our son spent 8 years of his childhood in the USA. When he was eleven we had to up sticks and return to the UK. It's a big thing for anyone, but for a child who's spent his life in one education system, it's a daunting prospect. I was terrified when he started his first day at a British school, afraid that he'd be lost in the different curriculum, much like I had felt all at sea when we first returned to this country. I needn't had worried. He made friends (more than he'd ever made in Arizona), settled into the new curriculum, and even managed to keep his grades as high as they were in his previous school. 

We've thrown a lot of stuff at our son, not by choice, but by circumstance and he never ceases to amaze me with his resilience, his good nature, his thoughtfulness. He's no saint, mind. He has teenage strops, he's a bit on the lazy side and he is perhaps a little too fond of some awful cartoons, but if I can deal with life's pitfalls and traps the way he has, so far, I'll be happy. 

So I guess this post is a bit of a love letter to my son. His name means 'gift from God' and, although I'm not a religious person, I am reminded every day that he is a gift for which I'll be forever grateful.

Now for the plug. My latest release is Tournament of Shadows, an historical novel set in Central Asia and Russia in the 19th century. 

Don't forget to check out all of the amazing blog posts. You can find the master list here.





Monday, October 21, 2013

So what the hell's going on?

This is a very hard post for me to write. But I need to get it 'out there'. Perhaps it'll be cathartic, perhaps it'll just be a reminder that no one should ever take anyone for granted.

Earlier this summer my husband, Peter, started having some stomach problems. At first we (and the doctor) thought it was just acid reflux. Some appropriate medication was prescribed and we moved on. Unfortunately, the medication didn't work and the episodes of reflux became more frequent and more prolonged, to the extent that Peter started losing weight. He's one of those people who can lose weight very quickly. He returned to the doctor, to a different one this time. He chased up the request for an endoscopy that a previous doctor had (perhaps) forgotten about.

The endoscopy showed Barrett's Oesophagus, a condition that comes about as a result of a hiatus hernia. Some samples were also taken for biopsy and a scan was booked for two weeks further on. The results of the biopsy showed cancerous cells in the oesophagus. The scan indicated that the cells hadn't gone walkabout. Still, to hear that word 'cancer', is a shock. And that, frankly, is putting it mildly. It's like staring into the gaping, dark maw of a formless monster. There's no sugarcoating the word. There's rogue cells making busy in my husband's body and I want the fuckers out.

Today we went to Oxford, to the Cancer Unit at Churchill Hospital. This is a very good place, Peter couldn't be in better hands. We went, hoping for a way forward. What we're facing is more tests. There's a more detailed scan scheduled for three days from now, then there's an ultrasound endoscopy for two weeks after that. Then there's a laparoscopy. The doctors want to be assured that the cancer hasn't spread.

If it hasn't, then it's surgery. Go in, cut that bastard tumor out, and hopefully, that will be that. On the other hand, if it's spread. Well, I'm going to just stick my head in a pile of sand for now. We'll deal with that if it happens.

What this means is that, I'll be sticking with the day job. It keeps me busy, it keeps me focussed on something else, means I'm not staring the monster in the face. The writing, however, may have to take a back seat. As much as I love to write, I can't write with so much in the air. I need security and certainty before I can relax into a writing frame of mind.

So that's pretty much it. I don't think I'll be blogging much about the cancer. There's plenty of very good blogs out there that cover all aspects of the disease and its effects on people. I'm not going to add much to the discussion. I just thought that I'd better get this news 'out there' in case anyone wonders about vague Facebook status updates, or passive aggressive tweets. All of this business has made a few of my personal 'filters' slide a little. I may be blunter than usual, I may be less inclined to offer sympathy for broken fingernails or faulty fridges. There are more important things to worry about.

There's my husband, my best friend. He drives me mad sometimes but he's gotten under my skin over the last 17 years. I'd like to think he'll be around for many more. Ten years from now, I want to hear his key in the lock at the end of the working day. Twenty years from now, I still want to wake up with him hogging the bed. I can't imagine him not being there.  There's also our son. I want him to know that his Dad is going to be around for a while, to tell him off for slouching on the settee and for parking his nasty feet on the coffee table.

I'll be staying online. I work from home. The virtual world is my lifeline. I have good friends there and, if the power of positive thinking and virtual hugs has an effect, then the cancer will be banished for good.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Now you know what's what.

Love,

Me.
xxx

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hey! Waiter! Someone stole my story!

I woke up to a very unpleasant shock on Thursday morning. A sharp-eyed reader (thanks, Arthur), sent me a message, via Goodreads, asking if I'd rewritten my free short story, Tumbleweed, under a different pen name. When I had a look at the link that I'd been sent, I started shaking. Yep, it was that big of a jolt. Someone had taken the story that I'd written for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group 'Love is Always Write' event, moved the setting from Arizona to Yorkshire, changed the names, embellished it and has had it published by a reputable UK publisher of Erotica. Not only that, but the author had given one of the main character's my pen name. That, in particular, was a slap in the face.

I had a look at the sample pages on Amazon and my own lines jumped out at me. Lines I'd written, taken care with, polished and published. My friend, who'd edited my original story, bought a copy of the offending book and started doing a line by line comparison, highlighting the lines that had been stolen. She gave up after 11 pages because the similarities were glaringly obvious. Those 11 pages are more yellow than white.

Knowing that I had more than enough grounds for complaint, I informed the publisher of a copyright infringement and attached the highlighted copy of my manuscript. Fortunately, they responded almost immediately, promised to keep me informed and they did. The book has been temporarily removed from sale pending a full investigation.

I feel happy that the publisher has responded so quickly and I hope that the author, whoever they are, get their arse kicked from here to kingdom come. I have no idea who they are. There's no blog, nothing in the online searches to show that they made any kind of effort to promote that book, which strikes me as peculiar. There's no one I can hit out at, and perhaps that's a good thing. I am still angry that someone had the brass-balled ignorance to steal my words and make money out of something that was free. Was it because Tumbleweed was free that the thief decided it was fair game? Did they like my writing so much that they wanted to claim it as their own? Is it some twisted fan-fic? What?

In spite of plenty of one-star reviews on Goodreads, the plagiarist (let's not beat around the bush here, that's what he/she/it is), has yet to come forward and deny it, or say anything. Has their mission been accomplished? Steal a book, piss off the author, get some attention? Are they sitting in their mother's basement wanking off to the fuss and excitement? I hope they're laid up in bed with an unpleasant genital complaint.

I feel angry, violated, impotent. I can't fight someone who's too gutless to own up to their actions. It's too easy to create a fake persona these days. I may never know who did it. I hate that.

By the way, if you want to read the original, it's here


Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Absolutely Erotic Blog Hop Interview with Erin Lark


Welcome to a stop on the Absolutely Erotic Blog Hop, where we’re showcasing erotica and erotic romance authors from the Absolute Write forums. Each day, interviews will be posted, and when it’s all said and done, some lucky commenter will win a huge prize!  Click here for the entire blog schedule and details about the contents of the prize, and how to win an armload of ebooks, a $25 Amazon gift card, and more.

Today, I'm chatting with the multi-talented Erin Lark , who I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with over on the Absolute Write Forums. Not only is she an extremely productive writer but she also does amazing cover art.

What draws you to romance?
I think my stories have always had some piece of romance in them. I’m not entirely sure as to why I write it. Maybe it’s that first kiss, or the very first touch of fingertips to flesh. All I do know is a story that has romance in it (even if it’s just sweet romance) feels better to me than one without.
What’s the best part of publishing your book, from start to finish?
Watching it go from being an idea that I’ve slaved over for months to something a person can read on their screen. It never ceases to amaze me just how different my first drafts are when compared to the final product. I’m not just talking about what I have out with publishers either. Even my own publications take on a transformation that is in no way similar to the plot I originally had in mind.
What’s the worst part?
The worst part of publishing can sometimes change on a day to day basis. Working on deadline, while exciting, can also be stressful as hell. But like most things you need to work hard for, it’s almost always worth the anxiety and restless nights once the book is out.
What do you think is sexy?
Eyes. I don’t care how someone looks like, so long as I can stare at their eyes. I have a thing for abstract art, and the iris of every eye is different. You have the usually lines and waves of color, as well as flecks.
However, when it comes to my husband, seeing him in a button shirt is more than sexy enough for me. *swoons*
How often do you Google yourself?
Maybe every other week? I know I usually Google myself a week or so after a new release to check up on blogs and reviews. I try not to do it too often though.
Do you read reviews of your book?
Yes, but before I do, I distance myself from my work. The whole purpose of looking at reviews for me isn’t to boost my ego but rather to see what problem areas I may have that I can work on in my next book.
I think I’m fortunate because I can look at a review and, so long as I prepare myself, I can look at it subjectively instead of personally. I have gotten a few emailed to me though that were unexpected.
What’s the one thing readers can always count on when they pick up a book written by you?
Character development. I try very hard to change every single one of the characters from start to finish. Like adding sexual tension and romance, chipping away at a character’s personality is a must when it comes to writing erotic romance. In most cases, this happens naturally, but there were a few books such as the one I just released where I really had to work on to get everything right.
When you're not writing, what do you do for fun?
I’m a two-track mind. If I’m not writing, thinking of writing or something similar, I’m working on cover art. And if I’m not doing either of those, I’ll go for a nice walk with the hubby or play a video game such as Allods Online or Darksiders 2.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
Took the hubby and I out to dinner at Uno’s J
Can you tell us a little about your latest release?
Nowhere to Run is close to my heart. Simon is essentially a survivor of sexual abuse, but for the last six years, in order to keep himself and his family safe, he’s changed his identity and hasn’t spoken to his family at all. Not even his sister. He struggles with personal identity, and whenever he thinks of his old name and the life connected to it, he can only remember the abuse and not the fond memories he once had with his family back home.
This piece was heartbreaking to write. It has triggers in it that I had to be careful of writing since I’m also a survivor. But, with a lot of support from the folks on Absolute Write along with my husband, I was able to finish it and get it published.
How did you get into cover design? What do you love best about it?
Cover design completely happened by mistake. Back when I was writing my middle grade series on Kind Arthur and Merlin, I was having a very hard time finding a cover artist who did work in that genre or who was affordable enough for me at the time.
So, I figured why not? I’d painted in Photoshop, so how hard could putting a few photos together be?
Let me tell you, that first cover took DAYS of non-stop work to do. I had to learn what a mask was, how to use it and just how important lighting was and where to place it on the model as well as the background and anything else I put on the cover.
I started doing most of my self-published covers after that. I showed them around last year when I made the covers for my All He Desires series and was immediately told I should offer my services to authors. I thought long and hard about it, then early this year, I bought a stock subscription, designed a few pre-made covers and, they sold. And they keep selling.
So now, like it or not, I’m hooked. I’m designing even more now, and loving every minute of it.
How can readers connect with you? Do you have a blog?
I have a main website, a blog and Facebook. I have Twitter as well, but I don’t really post much on there.

What’s your current book list and where can we buy them?
I have way too many books to list! You can see a full listing of books on my website: http://erinlark.com/books.html
Most of the titles can be found on Amazon, All Romance, Barnes & Noble and sometimes on Kobo and iTunes.



Monday, April 1, 2013

Of Prejudice and Ignorance

Fact: Autism is the fastest growing disability in the United States


The Oxford English Dictionary defines 'prejudice' as: dislike, hostility, or unjust behaviour deriving from preconceived and unfounded opinions.

There's a small town in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. The town was established in the 1920s, but there had been people living there long before, descendants of the Hohokam. The Hohokam had carved canals into the rock-hard caliche to divert the life-giving water of the Gila River, they grew cotton, they grew their own food, their civilisation flourished. However, the arrival of Manifest Destiny in the mid 19th century drove the indians onto reservations. Europeans settled in the area, fought off Apache raids and, diverted the Gila River and eventually dammed it. As a consequence, people starved, the Akimel O'odham--the People of the River, lost their lifeline, part of their cultural lifeblood. 

There are two communities. The town that was thrown up after the damming of the river, the one whose economy thrived on cotton and there's the reservation. There's only a mile or so of desert separating them, but the gap is so much bigger. The elementary schools still teach kids that Columbus discovered America, in spite of the fact that evidence of the original inhabitants' presence stands at the north end of town. People still think that tribe members do nothing more than sit in their free houses and collect their share of the revenue from the reservation's casinos. It's not just a local thing, though. That's the problem. In spite of cultural leaps forward like, the very corny, 'Dances with Wolves', reservations still exist. Prejudices still flourish. Injustices still happen. 

I find it sad that, in this day and age, some lessons are never learnt. That prejudices which grew partly out of ignorance and partly out of 19th century government policy, still remain. I know it's not something that's limited to one country, it's a worldwide thing. There are displaced people everywhere, separated from 'society' by ignorance and prejudice.  It's a fairly lofty wish, but it would be nice to think that one day, we can put aside one of the bad aspects of human nature, and sweep our prejudices aside. 

So, what experience do you have of prejudice as a result of cultural differences? Leave a comment below along with an email address and you could win a signed print copy of either 'Stolen Summer' or 'Lord of Endersley', both of which involve cultural misunderstandings and differences in one form of another. 

And don't forget to visit RJ Scott's blog to find links to all the other bloggers taking part in this month-long Autism Blog hop--a series of posts revolving around prejudice.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chapter Six-The Party - by SA Meade




BLURB:

Henry and Jack had thought nothing could ever drive them apart. They were wrong. Three months have passed since Jack walked out of the home they shared, and Henry had been too stupid to take back the hurtful things he'd said.

Both assured by their respective parents the other would not be present at Henry's mother's annual Christmas gathering, they attend. Finding they have been duped into seeing each other, Henry realizes that this may be his only chance to try and make things right. But will he be able to convince Jack to come home?

Chapter One can be found here  Chapter Two is here Chapter Three is here  Chapter Four is here and Chapter Five is here

So here, without further adieu, is the final Chapter. Thanks to everyone for coming along for the ride and reading our story. :)

Chapter Six - S A Meade


Henry paused on the doorstep, his hand suspended just above the doorbell. “Do we really have to be here?” He looked at Jack, hoping he’d say that he’d prefer to pop down to the Bell and Whistle for pie and a pint.

“Sorry, my love. Tradition is tradition. You know neither of us would hear the end of it if we turned around and headed home again.”

“But it’s snowing and home is warm and cosy.” Henry brushed an errant snowflake from Jack’s hair. “And our bed is even warmer and cosier.”

“We have all of Christmas to take advantage of that bed.” Jack paused. “I hope. You’re not on call are you?”

“Nope. Since I’ve agreed to be one of the groomsmen at Georgina’s wedding, I’m in her father’s good books. I told you, I’m off until New Year’s Day and I intend to stay at home with you.”

“Then we can deal with this. It’s only for an hour or two, right?”

Henry took a deep breath, braced himself for the onslaught of his mother’s party-madness, and depressed the doorbell.  He reached for Jack with his other hand, twining his fingers through his. “I love you.”

“Love you too.”

The door opened to a blast of warm air and perfume. “Oh darling, I’m so glad you’re both here.”

Henry humoured his mother, letting himself be caught up in her embrace. “It’s great to be here, Mum.”

Emily turned to Jack and hugged him. “Hello darling. It’s so lovely to see you. Come on you two, the party’s in full swing, there’s plenty of food and drink.”

She hustled them into the hall and took their coats. Henry stared at the tree, as impeccably and precisely decorated as usual, at the knots of chattering guests in the lounge, clutching plates and glasses.  Georgina held court in the corner by the drinks cabinet, grasping her fiancĂ©’s arm with the ferocity of a pit bull tugging at a bone. The poor man had the hunted look of someone who had a lifetime of social events mapped out ahead of him. He wouldn’t be escaping to the pub any time soon.

“Go on.” Emily shooed them towards the food. “Go and help yourselves. I don’t want to spend the next week or two eating leftovers and watching those prawns go off in the fridge because your father won’t  touch them after…you know.”

“Yes, mother dear.” Henry winked at Jack and dragged him towards the table which, as usual, resembled a food porn centrefold from a culinary magazine. He picked up a plate, then wondered, should he wait until after they’d eaten? Before the toast? Could he eat anything? His stomach curdled with nerves.

Don’t be stupid. He loves you, you love him. Of course he’ll say ‘yes’.

He slid his hand into his pocket and curled his fingers around the small velvet box, seeking comfort from the warmth and softness of the fabric, knowing that the simple, gold symbol  that represented their future rested inside. Nope, best to go with the routine, food first, pick a moment afterwards.

“Prawn?” Jack grinned and held one of the offending crustaceans towards him.

“Sod off.” He waved it away.

“Well, I’ll have it, then.” Jack swept the prawn through the little cut glass bowl of American style cocktail sauce.

Henry shuddered. He hated horseradish, he hated tomato sauce. Putting the two together was an abomination. “I don’t know how you can. I hope you’re not going to kiss me with that mouth.”

Jack laughed, then lowered his voice to a heated whisper. “I have every intention of doing a lot more than kissing you with this mouth when we get home.”

Oh God. Henry adjusted his trousers to accommodate his sudden erection.  The way Jack then caressed that asparagus spear with his tongue… Jesus.

“Aren’t you going to eat anything?” Jack’s voice was all innocence. His eyes—full of heat and promise—told an entirely different story.

Henry gulped and reached blindly for a sausage roll. “I suppose I’d better.”

Jack laughed, leaned close and touched his lips with a kiss. “You’ll need to keep your strength up for later.”

“You have got to stop tormenting me or I’ll drag you down to the wine cellar.”

“Feel free.”

“Nope, I want you in bed, our bed.” He spooned some potato salad onto his plate. “So no more teasing.”

“Spoilsport.” Jack helped himself to a handful of olives. “I’ll try to behave myself.”

****
Jack wished the whole evening was over. He sat beside Henry, who perched precariously on the edge of the settee, and wanted them both to be home. Sometimes, tradition was a pain in the arse. He plucked at an olive, relishing the saltiness. He needed to remember to ask Mrs Lewis where she bought them. He’d have died happy to sit down with a jar and a fork and work his way through the lot without stopping. He stole a glance at Henry. His lover’s gaze was distant, as if he was staring into a tangle of wool that he couldn’t quite figure out how to unravel. He’d been a bit like that lately, given to long silences, while he gnawed at his bottom lip. There had been times in the past few weeks where he’d wanted to ask what was wrong but he knew Henry well enough to know that he’d tell Jack in his own sweet time.

“You all right?”

“What?” Henry turned towards him, holding a sausage roll in mid-air. “Yes, I’m fine. I guess I’m just tired. It’s been a long week.”

“Yeah, it has been.” Jack swept his hand down Henry’s back, welcoming the solid warmth of it, the comfort of Henry just being. Knowing that he was his—hopefully forever. “Let’s just sneak out. We wouldn’t be lying to your mother if we told her you’ve been crazy busy. You deserve your rest.”

Henry set down his plate and offered him a weary smile. “I do, don’t I? So do you. We’ve both been busy. All right. There’s just one thing I need to do first. Give me a minute.” He stood up.

Jack watched him walk towards the middle of the room and grab an empty glass from a side table. He pinged it with his forefinger, until it sang out. The chatter faded to silence. Henry set the glass down and shoved his hands into his pocket.

What the fuck? 

Jack recognised all the signs of nerves—the bobbing Adam’s apple, the way Henry shifted his weight from one foot to the other, the tight set of his jaw. Something inside swooped and dove. Whatever Henry was about to do was going to be big and unforgettable.

“Thank you. Now that I have your attention.” Henry cleared his throat. “I have something I need to say.” He stared at Jack, a fire in his eyes. “As you all know, apart from a brief hiccup, Jack and I have been together for quite a while.  I’d really like us to stay that way…forever.” He strode towards Jack, then dropped elegantly onto one knee. “So I want to make it official.”

Jack lost every word and every thought. He saw the future shining in Henry’s eyes and glinting off the ring his lover held before him.

“Marry me,” Henry whispered. “Make me yours.”

There was a muffled sob from somewhere. Jack wasn’t sure if it was Georgina finally getting her reality check, Mrs Lewis or his own mother. He scanned the room for his parents. Not that he needed their approval or anything, but their tearful smiles were blessing enough. He took a deep breath and covered Henry’s hand with his. “Yes please.”

The room filled with applause when he leant forward to kiss Henry. For a moment, they were all there was, all there would be. No one else mattered, the past was done with, the future was set in the band of gold Henry held before him. That was all he would ever need.

The End.

The entire story will be available as a free download from All Romance EBooks and LoveLane Books after the 23 December. Merry Christmas!

~~~
I have a few books out there. You can find a list here at Total-E-Bound. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Planning the Christmas Meal

Today's seasonal offering is from 'Biscuits and Bunting', a story about some saucy happenings in a village during the run up to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebration.



Here, a Christmas meal is being discussed, with ... undertones.


The slow click of the indicator heralded the turn-off to the farm. Hamlyn eased the car over the sodden gravel and pulled up in front of the unit. “I have a Christmas dinner planned at my house, a business thing. It’s one of those necessary evils, but it has to be done. I know it’s a busy time of year for you but if you could fit me in, I’d appreciate it.”
“I’ll check the diary while you’re here.”
Alice, my secretary, was shamelessly peering through the misted window.
We climbed out of the car. Hamlyn followed me through the door. The warmth was a relief after the piercing, damp cold outside.
“Do you a fancy a coffee while you’re here? I’ve been testing out some new biscuit recipes. You could be a guinea pig.” I asked, more in hope than anything else.
“Sounds good to me. I’m not in a hurry to be anywhere.”
I didn’t want to consider the reasons why this was good news to me. I took my diary from Alice’s desk and asked her to fetch coffee and a selection of biscuits before taking Hamlyn to my office.
“Sorry about the mess.” I cleared some space on the desk to try and make it look tidier and sat down.
Hamlyn took a seat and slipped out of his coat. The spice of his cologne drifted across the morass of papers and invoices. I slid my chair under my desk because my dick was having thoughts of its own about Hamlyn’s presence.
Not good.
“What date did you have in mind?” I opened my diary and pretended to be professional, in an attempt to snap myself out of it.
“I know it’s short notice, but is there any chance you can do the last Friday in November? I wanted to get the business over and done with before anyone gets too jaded from a surfeit of celebratory dinners.”
I shuffled through the pages. “That should be fine. I have a lunch but nothing in the evening. Have you any thoughts about what you want to serve?” I picked up a pen.
“It’ll be a sit-down dinner and there’ll be half a dozen guests. Three couples and me.”
How pathetic was it that I perked up at that intelligence? “Any idea what you’d like? French? Hungarian? Italian? British? A Christmas themed meal?”
“Italian would make a change.”
I rummaged through the pile of menus. “Here are the Italian choices. Have a look and give me a call when you’ve decided what you’d like. I can get it all ready and then just drop it by the house. All you’ll have to do is heat it up and serve.”
Hamlyn set the menu down. “I was wondering…if…” He glanced at the menu again. “I’d prefer it if someone could be there to serve it. I don’t want to be in and out of the kitchen all night when I’m entertaining.”
“Fair point.” I considered my list of part-time servers. “I can get one of the girls to serve.”
“I don’t suppose I could persuade you, could I? I’d rather you were there.”
“I don’t usually do that.”
“If you don’t want to, I’d understand.”
I can’t resist pleading blue eyes. I just bloody can’t. This had nothing to do with business and everything to do with wanting him.
Alice clattered in with two mugs of coffee and a plate of fresh biscuits. The Christmas line was a cut above the normal, plenty of chocolate, nuts and fruit. Hamlyn helped himself to a biscuit and smiled at Alice. She dimpled, blushed and scuttled away.
“If you’re the type that goes out on Friday nights, that’s all right. It’s okay to have a social life.”
“What is this ‘social life’ you speak of?” I waved the biscuits away. I’d spent most of the morning baking the bloody things.
“Ah, it’s like that, is it?” His eyes had a glint in them. “Just like me. No life.”
“I’ll do it. I haven’t anything else to do.”
Hamlyn’s smile was worth sacrificing an empty Friday night for. “Excellent. Thank you.”
“Just don’t expect me to dress in a maid’s outfit and hand the canapĂ©s around.” I scribbled the details into the diary. “What time will you want dinner for?”

If you want to read how things went the night of the dinner, why not pick up a copy of 'Biscuits and Bunting'?