Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas songs - what's your favorite?

One of the things I really missed when we were in the US was decent Top 40 Christmas songs. I can only listen to 'Rockin' round the Christmas tree' or some soppy Country song laden with maudlin sentimentality so many times without screaming. So, one of the good things about being back in the UK are the great songs on the radio this time of year. This old grump is very slowly getting into the Christmas mood, a mood knocked back only by the price I paid for a single sad string of lights for the tree, and the endless, sodding perfume adverts on television.

There are quite a few Christmas songs that cheer me up but the one that gets me singing loud enough to frighten the cats is 'Fairytale of New York' by The Pogues and the late, great Kirsty McColl. It has one of my favorite lines of all time. Those of you who know me will probably figure out what line that is. I ain't sayin'.

So, what's your favorite Top 40 Christmas song?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Being Human - Thanks for kicking this writer.


By a route too tortuous to mention, I stumbled on 'Being Human' a few months ago. I'd heard about it on the 'net but, because I was living in the US at the time, I didn't really think I'd have a chance to watch it. My lap top can't handle video streaming without overheating and I didn't want to watch the programme in ten minute snippets on a certain video sharing web site. So I resigned myself to saving up the pennies to buying the DVDs. Then BBCAmerica decided to show the first series. I watched all 6 episodes of the first series in a one day marathon and I was hooked.

All right, I have to confess, the initial attraction was the delicious Aidan Turner. I mean, really, how can any female with a pulse resist those eyes, framed by those birds-wing eyebrows?

*sighs*

Where was I?

Oh, yes...the programme.

Harumph.

The premise of a werewolf, vampire and ghost sharing digs in an ordinary terraced house in Bristol is a clever one and a tough one to pull off with any kind of credibility but full marks to Toby Whithouse and the cast for making it work so splendidly. BH is a compelling combination of brilliant writing and top class acting. The story carries humor, pathos, tragedy, darkness and light with no effort at all. There are moments that made me cry, moments that had me giggling helplessly and moments where all I could do was stare, open-mouthed, at the screen. I can't remember the last time a television programme has done that to me. It's also rare for something I've watched to linger with me long after the closing credits have rolled.

Apart from the main characters, the others who come into their lives leave their mark. The supporting cast are equally memorable and there are incredible turns from Paul Rhys as the ancient vampire, Ivan, Donald Sumpter as Kemp and Adrian Lester's Herrick. The on-screen chemistry between Lester and Turner crackles and sizzles - the first season is worth watching for that partnership alone.

Being Human is that rarity, a bright gem hidden away on a satellite channel. it deserves far more exposure than it currently receives and the prospect of an American remake has me reaching for the bucket. It's a story that doesn't need schmaltz, touchy-feely introspection or santitizing. It packs enough emotional punch as it is.

So, why did I revive my cobwebby old blog to bore you all with my thoughts on a television series?

Because it is so bloody good that when I finish watching an episode I want to hide myself away and write the best stuff that I can. Inspiration has been hard to find for me these past few months. Being Human has kick started my writer's brain again and, for that, I am truly thankful.

Roll on Season Three.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thoughts on being home

Well...we've been back in the UK for nine days now, although the first day doesn't really count because I was only half-conscious after the Flight from Hell with the Flight Attendants from Hell. It was not a one-way trip we'd ever planned on taking, unfortunately, my former employers, easily baffled by bullshit, chose to let me go. Having read recent articles in the local paper, I suspect they let the wrong people go, but that's for another blog, when or if I ever get over my anger at such misguided stupidity among management and certain council members.

I'll just say this. If a certain supermarket on the south end of that town ever caught fire, I'd not pee on it to put it out.

That's enough of that.

I knew, when I returned to England, that I'd appreciate the little things I'd taken for granted before. So, indulge me while I list them:

1. The constantly changing sky - after years of relentless, cloudless blue skies, it's a real treat just to sit in the back garden and watch the clouds. Sometimes they're leaden, grey and heavy with rain. At other times, they're thin wisps of white horsetails stretched out across a silvery evening sky. On warm, muggy afternoons, the puffy cumulus idle across the sky, threatening to darken and bring rain. Now, the sky is something to gaze at and appreciate because, like snowflakes, no one day is ever the same.

2. Rain - There's nothing more pleasurable than standing outside in a gentle rain listening to the drops whisper on the leaves and the lawn. They're tiny, cool kisses on a skin parched by eight years of desert heat.

3. Grass - standing on the cool, soft grass in my bare feet is absolute bliss.

4. The countryside - We're in central Berkshire at the moment. The landscape is a mosaic of gently rolling fields, hemmed by ancient hedgerows and trees. The wheat fields are beginning to turn to a soft gold as the crops ripen after an unusually dry and warm summer. The horse chestnut trees are growing heavy with conkers, which will drop in the autumn revealing gleaming mahogany seeds bursting from spiky pods. Then, there's the country lanes transformed into shady green tunnels by the trees growing over them. The grass verges are alive with flowers, Queen Anne's lace and others.

5. Driving a car with a manual transmission - I had a bit of a rough introduction because the rental place is in the middle of a busy town and I had to remember, very quickly, how to navigate a roundabout, while struggling to recall how to drive with a gear shift, without stalling in the middle of said roundabout. Now that I've got the hang of it once more, it's great fun, even on the winding, narrow country lanes. I have to say, the price of petrol is a bit of a fright, so for all of my American friends reading this, three bucks a gallon really isn't anything to whine about so...don't.

6. Pie and chips - yeah, all right, so the local chippy is run by Greeks, but they've nailed the art of frying potatoes. The Daddie's sauce is just the perfect finishing touch.

7. BBC One. Oh how I missed thee. The highlight of the viewing week is 'Sherlock Holmes', a modern reworking of the old stories. Beautifully written, clever plots and a wonderfully quirky Sherlock. Then, there's the news...no carefully groomed, plastic newsreaders, just proper journalists doing their jobs and doing it well.

I could go on and on. I know it's not paradise and I know if it wasn't for the incredible kindness and generosity of friends, it could be really tough, but when all is said and done, it's good to be back.

Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A friend remembered


Today I had to say goodbye to a very dear friend.

Almost eight years ago to the day, a colleague delivered a spectacularly beautiful, excitable, affectionate bundle of Australian mongreldom to our front door. Patches' previous owners had decided that they didn't have the time to care for her. We were looking for a dog for our son and there she was. I took one look at those anxious brown eyes and was lost.

She was a funny mix of a dog. Her broad forehead and stocky torso screamed Queensland Heeler, as did her need to protect everything and everyone in the household. That chunky body was perched precariously on delicate Australian Shepherd legs and her coloring was clearly a legacy from the Aussie Shepherd side. She was beautiful, with absurdly large, pointy ears and a kissable pink spot on her muzzle.

Patches also dispelled the myth that mongrels enjoy rude health. Her mixed parentage led to a damaged hind leg, probably from racing like a fool around the backyard. There was the time I was summoned home from work to take her to the vet when she was bitten by something and one side of her face swelled up so much she looked more like a pit-bull. Then, there was the arthritis in her neck and spine. A cruel ailment for such a lively dog. We were lucky there because she only ever had a couple of flare-ups. Our other dog, Otto, kept her young.

I had a host of nicknames for her. Fusspot was one of them, because of her fussy little anxious steps and her worried expression. Plus, if my husband and I ever argued she would push between us and bark at him, warning him to keep away from me. She loved to have her chest rubbed and would rest her paw on my arm to keep me from stopping while she sat there grinning.

Then, there's Otto, a lumbering, good-natured chocolate labrador who was twice her weight. Yet, when it came to rough-housing in the back yard, all Patches had to do to bring him down was dive for one of his legs, pull it out from underneath him and that was the match won. They adored each other. They slept side by side, they cleaned each other, fussed over each other but she was always the boss. Today, Otto is subdued and quiet. He saw his friend get in the car and saw me walk into the house with an empty collar and lead. He knows, somehow, that she's not coming home and his sad resignation breaks my heart.

I'm sitting here watching Otto sprawled on the floor without his fussy little shadow. My eyes are burning a little. The Valley Fever that he seems perfectly able to live with, made his friend cough, killed her appetite and left her lethargic. We're leaving in a few days, we can't take him with us and we're hoping to leave him with a good home. He's young, he has a chance. Patches wouldn't have had that chance. I hated the thought of her spending her last days in a crowded, noisy shelter among strangers. It wasn't right, it wasn't the way I wanted to leave my good friend. Luckily, our vet saw that letting Patches go quietly and peacefully in that special, quiet room in her surgery was the kindest thing to do.

Since I was the one who welcomed Patches into our home, since I was the one she protected and fussed over, it seemed only right that I be there when she left this world. I can barely see as I write this. I know, that somehow, somewhere, I'll see my little Fusspot again.

Love you, Fusspot.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I picked up a Stray.


It's been a while since I've played with my blog. To be honest, I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with it in the long term. Then there's all the drama of orchestrating a trans-Atlantic relocation to factor in. Thanks for my former employers we're now up the Swanee with a teaspoon instead of a paddle and have to return to the UK.

I've been distracting myself with a lot of writing and a little reading between spurts of paperwork, booking things, etc. I bought my first e-book the other day. It was written by Ash Penn who is a very fine writer and an ace Beta-reader. Since she's patiently reading through the chapters of my WIP as I finish them I thought the least I could do was to review her latest release, 'Stray'.

Stray is available through Loose-ID and it's frightening how easy it is to buy a book from them. This may bode ill for my bank account in the future.

Anyway, let's stop the babble and talk about 'Stray'.

The protagonist, Terry, is a bit of a bastard when we first meet him. He's cynical, damaged, hopelessly lusting after his housemate, Marc, whose just brought a stray home. The stray, in this case is a pale, delicate waif called Dan. Terry takes an instant dislike to him, believing the lad to be Marc's latest squeeze and, worse, someone who's out to take advantage of Marc's generosity. Terry's way of putting Dan in his place is a rather perfunctory (but hot) shag over the kitchen table.

Alas, that first taste of forbidden fruit ends up not being enough for Terry. In spite of his, apparently, hostile feelings towards Dan, it doesn't stop Terry from availing himself of Dan's charms again.

Where this all leads to is well worth the read. Penn has a real gift for creating very believable, flawed characters, all moving around in very real settings. The story is emotionally engaging and you'll want to know how it all shakes out. There's plenty of misunderstandings, heartache and trouble on the way but that's real life for you. 'Stray' is well worth a read. It's certainly a book that'll be hanging around on my hard drive for a long time to be visited again. It's m/m erotica at its best. It's not just about the sex, it's about the story.

You can click on this link Stray to find out more. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Query

Here's the new version. I started from scratch, taking as many comments on as possible!
In this version, Grace actually does stuff, so hopefully the dreaded Passive-bleh stuff is gone.

Thank you all for wading in!

Grace Webb trains racehorses for a living. It’s a career she’s happy to focus on when her fianc√©, Christopher Beaumont, is deployed to Afghanistan. At a time when racing yards are losing horses because of the bad economy, a promising horse like Allonby could be the salvation of her father’s yard. Grace welcomes the chance to focus on Allonby in attempt to stop fretting about Christopher’s growing despondency and the frustration of lousy internet connections.

When Christopher is sent home with horrific leg wounds and, as a consequence, PTSD, Grace is determined to help him heal. As she fights Christopher’s nightmares, depression and rage, she also faces a battle to save Allonby’s career before it’s had a chance to blossom.

Christopher, feeling that he’s giving Grace more grief than love, leaves her. Grace couldn’t heal Christopher, but she can help Allonby and keep her father’s yard running. When Christopher returns, seeking forgiveness and a second chance, Grace gives him that chance. This time she won’t let Christopher surrender to his demons. On the eve of the biggest race of Allonby’s career, Grace faces down her worse nightmare – saving Christopher from himself.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

..and it's goodbye

for now.

I'm throwing in the towel on the blog for the time being.

I'm not one who can write about writing. There's plenty of very good blogs out there that cover the agony and ecstasy of writing much better than I can. I'm not going to vent about politics or publishing because...meh, there's plenty of those blogs out there too.

If I can think of anything to blog about, I'll be back but, for now, no more Teasers, no more drivel. I gotta get my writing done and get my books out there...some time, somehow.

Thanks to those of you who visited and commented. Those comments have been greatly appreciated. Thank you for stopping by and reading my bits and pieces.

So, I leave you with this. This my favorite song from my favorite Elton John album (Madman Across the Water).

Peace out.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Grace is a bit put out - Teaser Tuesday

I'm back to working on 'Christopher's Medal' again, thanks to some excellent Beta feedback. As seems to be the problem with most of the stuff I've written, it lacked more conflict. I think it's a psychological thing, I feel guilty being mean to my characters.

So, I've bitten the proverbial bullet and thrown a few stones in the Path of True Love. This is from a shiny new chapter. Christopher takes Grace to a Very Posh Wedding at a Very Big House. Unfortunately, one of the guests is Christopher's odious ex-girlfriend, Pippa. She rubs Grace up the wrong way and Grace returns home with a bad taste in her mouth.

*********************************************************

Grace couldn’t shake Pippa’s words. She stared out of the window at the flat, south Lincolnshire landscape and stewed while Christopher drove on oblivious. She looked at him out of the corner of her eye and understood why Pippa found it hard to let him drop. She just wished she could forget how much could keep them apart. Grace hated that Pippa had reminded her of it. Hated that she’d reminder her that she was nothing more than a glorified shit-flicker with working hands. The man driving the smart, sporty little car was out of her league. He belonged at dinner parties in big houses, drinking port and talking about rugby. He didn’t belong with her in her little cottage, with a take away for dinner and two filet steaks in the freezer.

“Are you all right?” Christopher turned onto the Fordham Road. They were nearly home.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” It wasn’t worth explaining. Grace knew it would sound stupid. “I think I’ll just be glad to get home.”

His hand was warm on her knee. “Me too. I’m sorry I inflicted that on you. It won’t happen again.”

Grace folded her arms across her chest and watched the road. “Good.”

Back at the yard, evening stables was in full swing. The yard echoed with the sound of slamming buckets and the anxious whicker of hungry horses. Grace hurried into the house and inhaled the familiar scent of home. The faint smoky scent of bacon lingered in the kitchen and, in the living room, the cinnamon perfume of candles. Grace picked up her bag and took it into the bedroom.

“Grace?” Christopher stood in the doorway. “What’s wrong?”

She unfastened her dress and scrambled out of it. “I don’t want to talk about it. It even sounds stupid when I think about it.”

“About what?”

Grace sorted through a drawer for a tee-shirt. “Nothing, forget it. I’m fine.”

“Grace, darling, you are not fine. You’re sorting though that drawer as if you’re looking for something to kill.”

She pulled the shirt over her head and paused. “I would like to kill Pippa. How’s that for an answer.”

“She doesn’t mean anything to me.”

“No., perhaps she doesn’t, but she doesn’t think I’m good enough for you and maybe she’s right. I’ve just spent the weekend in your world and I didn’t much care for it because it reminded me that I didn’t belong there.” She held out her hands, palm up. “These are my hands, they’re working hands. You said that once, remember? These hands are a constant bloody reminder that I don’t belong in your world. I’m a pretender.”

“Now you’re just being silly.” Christopher took a step towards her. His hands closed on her shoulders. “The only world that matters to me is the one you’re in. This house, this room, you…this is where I belong, this is where I want to be.”

Grace lifted her chin. “I want to believe that. I really do. But look at us, look at you. You’re an officer in some posh regiment. You visit my world but you don’t belong here.”

“Grace, stop talking like that. It’s bollocks.” There was an edge to his voice. His grip tightened when he drew her close, one hand cupped her chin. “Just…stop.” His mouth devoured hers, angry breaths drowned the silence. Christopher backed her to the wall while Grace braced her hands on his chest. She couldn’t find it in her to push him away, not when he pressed against her, all heat and fury. His tongue swept over hers, drawing her in, demanding her attention until she relented. Her breath fell into sync with his.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Teaser revised

It pays to post bits of your work, folks.

I had some feedback from yesterday's Teaser, pointing out things that this oblivious writer didn't think of. Thanks to those of you who took the time to read and comment. Yinz rock.

So, for kicks and giggles, here's the revised version.

****************************

They ambushed us when we passed through a village. It was on the cards. The white flags of the Taliban fluttered from crumbling mud walls and people stared at us with blank, hostile eyes when the armored vehicles rumbled along the narrow, dusty lane. Captain Beaumont was quieter than usual, his mouth set in a grim line beneath three days’ growth of beard. I wanted to ask him what he thought was up but after a week in his company I’d already learned when to keep my journalist’s mouth shut.

After a few stints embedded with various regiments in numerous war zones, I’d developed a bit of a feel for trouble myself. I guess a kid would call it ‘Spidey sense’, I just called it my “Oh shit” sense. Neither me or Beaumont were wrong on this occasion.

They started firing at us from the rooftops, a couple of fuckwit snipers with nothing better to do than taking pot shots at British soldiers. Bullets pinged off the vehicles, spat in the dust and slammed into walls. The explosion came from the front of the convoy. Rolling waves of dust funneled through the alley. Our men returned fire in workmanlike silence but, beyond the uneven tattoo of battle one man’s screams cut through me like a fucking knife.

I tucked my shaking hands between my knees and prayed there wouldn’t be grenades. We were proverbial sitting ducks in armored vehicles of dubious construction. There was sod-all in the APC to hide under. We just had to sit it out and hope there were no IEDs. At moments like this, it was hard not to imagine my paper’s headline ‘Journalist Evan Harrison killed in ambush’. I wasn’t ready to die. I was thirty-two and had issues that needed to be resolved.

“Call in air support.” Beaumont barked into the radio. “Tell them to hurry the fuck up. I can’t send the fucking medic in while those fuckwits are firing at us.”

I didn’t hear the reply but, given Beaumont’s choice language I didn’t think the choppers would be too long. I felt lousy sitting there listening to that poor sod scream when no one could do a thing to help him until the snipers were nailed. Our lot were doing their best and a sharp, pained yelp made me think one of the snipers was hit but the other kept firing, erratic bursts into the shooting gallery. As the long, turbulent minutes passed, my fears of grenades and IEDs faded a bit. The insurgents would’ve used them before now, rather than waste bullets. Perhaps I wasn’t going to make the headlines in the wrong way…this time.

I watched Beaumont. He gnawed at his thumbnail while he peered through the slatted window. His dark eyes were a study in contained agony and fury. I don’t know that I could even being to understand or try and describe what he was feeling. I liked the man. I was also a sucker for brown eyes. Sometimes I wished…never mind.

The roar of the incoming choppers shattered the impasse.

“Thank Christ for that.” Beaumont spoke into his radio. “All right, send in the medic. We’re clear.” He took his helmet off, ran his hand through his spiky hair and sighed. “I hate this fucking job.”

Monday, May 10, 2010

A new start - Teaser Tuesday

Revised version posted 5/12/10

So...um...poor Fin and Angharad, they're left hanging again.

I couldn't resist starting revisions on 'Stolen Summer' I started at the beginning. Taking Beta comments in hand, I needed to expand on Evan's experience in Afghanistan and lay the groundwork for stuff which happens a little later in the book.

So, here's the new start.

*******************************************

They ambushed us when we passed through a village. It was on the cards. The white flags of the Taliban fluttered from crumbling mud walls and people stared at us with blank, hostile eyes when the armored vehicles rumbled along the narrow, dusty lane. Captain Beaumont was quieter than usual, his mouth set in a grim line beneath three days’ growth of beard. I wanted to ask him what he thought was up but after a week in his company I’d already learned when to keep my journalist’s mouth shut.

After a few stints embedded with various regiments in numerous war zones, I’d developed a bit of a feel for trouble myself. I guess a kid would call it ‘Spidey sense’, I just called it my “Oh shit” sense. Neither me or Beaumont were wrong on this occasion.

They started firing at us from the rooftops, a couple of fuckwit snipers with nothing better to do than taking pot shots at British soldiers. Bullets pinged off the vehicles, spat in the dust and slammed into walls. The explosion came from the front of the convoy. Rolling waves of dust funneled through the alley. Our men returned fire in workmanlike silence but, beyond the uneven tattoo of battle one man’s screams cut through me like a fucking knife.

“Call in air support.” Beaumont barked into the radio. “Tell them to hurry the fuck up. I can’t send the fucking medic in while those fuckwits are firing at us.”

I didn’t hear the reply but, given Beaumont’s choice language I didn’t think the choppers would be too long. I felt lousy sitting there listening to that poor sod scream when no one could do a thing to help him until the snipers were nailed. Our lot were doing their best and a sharp, pained yelp made me think one of the snipers was hit but the other kept firing, erratic bursts into the shooting gallery.

I watched Beaumont. He gnawed at his thumbnail while he peered through the slatted window. His dark eyes were a study in contained agony and fury. I don’t know that I could even being to understand or try and describe what he was feeling. I liked the man. I was also a sucker for brown eyes. Sometimes I wished…never mind.

The roar of the incoming choppers shattered the impasse.

“Thank Christ for that.” Beaumont spoke into his radio. “All right, send in the medic. We’re clear.” He took his helmet off, ran his hand through his spiky hair and sighed. “I hate this fucking job.”

“Yea.” There wasn’t much else to say. One of his men was hit and screaming like a stuck pig because we got jumped in a place where we shouldn’t be.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Homecoming - Teaser Tuesday

So, after a long drought, lots of staring at words and, finally sending what I'd written to the lovely Amy Bai for a little advice, I've finally returned to Fin and Angharad's story. I churned out 4,000 words on Sunday and spent some of Monday, tidying up and rearranging things. I'm still not sure where this is going. I have a rough idea and I'm not ready to abandon them, because I'm quite fond of Fin. :)

Anyway, this is part of the 4k marathon. Fin has been away, summoned to the north of the Kingdom of Dumfries to see his dying father. Angharad had more or less given up on him returning. She's about to get a happy surprise.

For the record: Minn sal is Old Norse for 'my soul', minn astir is 'my love' and minn kona 'my wife'. Angharad only knows the meaning of the latter.

*******************************************

For a moment, everything else disappeared, lost in silence. The fire was a dim flicker and Angharad looked at her husband, drenched and pale. His eyes were dark and unreadable.

“Minn sal.” His voice was a whisper.

“Husband.” She wasn’t sure the word left her mouth. She ran across the hall, a rustle of straw and a whisper of skirts and hurled herself into his open arms.

“Angharad, minn astir.” His grip was fierce. His heart pounded against her breast.

Angharad thought he’d break her in two. She took a deep breath and held onto him. “I missed you. I thought you were never coming home.”

“I’m sorry.” His voice shook. His breath was warm against her skin and his hands brushed her veil away. “I’ll never leave you again, minn kona.”

She wanted to cry. Instead she kissed his cold cheek. “See that you don’t.”

“Never.” He stepped back and Angharad returned his gaze.

“You need feeding,” she said, touching his face. “You’re too thin.” The dark crescents beneath his eyes were like bruises.

“I need you.” There was fire in his voice.

“You have me,” she replied.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Back to Summer - Teaser Tuesday

Just for the heck of it. Here's another bit from 'Stolen Summer'.

Because I felt like it.

*****************************************************

“So, what’s the big emergency?” Ellen stood up and kissed me when I walked into the restaurant. I’d phoned her almost as soon as I returned to London and arranged to meet her on Monday for lunch.

“You’d better sit down and get yourself a drink.” I sank into the booth and waved for the waiter. I ordered a glass of red wine, Ellen asked for a vodka martini. I waited for the drinks and pretended to look at the menu. I didn’t feel much like eating.

“Jesus, Evan. It must be serious, your hands are shaking.”

They were. I wanted to throw up. “Yea, well, it is serious.”

The waiter returned with drinks. Ellen ordered lunch. I decided on a salad.

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

I took a sip of my wine and then another. “Nothing’s wrong, not for me anyway. In fact, I couldn’t be happier. I’m just not sure anyone else is going to be too chuffed.”

“God, what have you done now?”

“I’ve fallen in love.”

“Well, that’s a good thing, isn’t it?”

“It is as far as I’m concerned.”

“Please stop buggering me about. What’s the big deal?”

“It’s Colin.”

“What’s Colin?”

“That’s who I’m in love with. We’re in love. We’re a couple.” There, it was out. I said it. The ceiling didn’t cave in, no one screamed, no one fainted. The world kept turning.

“Colin,” Ellen repeated. “Best friend Colin, the good looking one with the brown eyes and the perpetual stubble. That Colin?”

“Yes, that Colin.”

“You’re in love…with Colin. You’re a couple.”

“Yes.”

She took a huge gulp of her martini, pausing only to remove the olive, which she set, with great care on her side plate. “Bloody hell. You don’t do things by halves do you?”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Viking returns - Teaser Tuesday

So, following my poll which wasn't shaped like a poll, I took a break over the weekend, read a book and had a think.

The Shiny New Idea is on the back burner because someone else already has a published book which has the same kind of bad guys I wanted. Back to the drawing board and a hunt for a new villain. I already have some ideas but they can wait.

So, it's back to Angharad and Fin up in the wilds of 9th century Cumbria. This week, Fin has recovered, more or less, from his unfortunate encounter with a boar. It's Angharad who's about to get into a spot of bother.

Usual caveat applies, rough as a cat's tongue but less smelly (I hope).

**************************************

Angharad gathered up the reins and glanced back at the house. Fin stood in the doorway, The sun found copper in his hair. His quiet smile made something inside her turn over. For a moment, she considered forgetting about the breached wall but she knew she wouldn’t be long and the brief absence would make the rest of the day all the better. Angharad smiled back surprised how much she wanted him.

The stallion skittered sideways across the grass. Angharad sat deep in the saddle and nudged him forward. He tossed his head and snorted, sending silver clouds of vapour drifting into the bitterly cold air. She knew he was spoiling for a race and, if the ground hadn’t been hard, Angharad would’ve indulged him. Instead, she kept him at a bone-jarring walk and wished she’d taken the mare.

“He’s a bit of a handful this morning, mistress,” Elfled observed.

Angharad looked with envy at the shepherd, happy on the half-asleep pony. “He is.” She dropped her hands and pushed him forward, hoping he would lower his head. Instead, he squealed and bucked. Angharad tightened her hold on the reins, shaken by the buck. She smacked his hindquarters with the stick and held on when he bucked once more. His high spirit replaced by a squeal of temper. He spun around, his ears flat against the side of his head.

“Bastard.” Angharad struck him again. “Settle down.”

The stallion reared.

Angharad clung to the saddle and prayed he wouldn’t topple over. The coarse hair of his mane whipped across her face when he plunged back to earth, tucked his head between his forelegs and bucked. The saddle was no longer beneath her, the reins tore away from her cold hands as Angharad was flung sideways.

This is going to hurt.

Angharad wondered, before she slammed onto the ground, whether Fin would be angry because she didn’t take the mare.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What's a writer to do? Answers on a post card please.

Allrighty then.

The Post-Beta revisions to Christopher's Medal are done and it's gone back out to Betas. So, nothing to do there until I hear back.

Stolen Summer (Contemporary Fiction) is languishing on the back burner, following Beta reads, and awaiting revision;
Viking story (Women's/historical)- The Man in the Reeds - is waiting to be continued.
Through the Mist (Women's/historical WW2) is also awaiting revision prior to going out to Betas
Empty Places (Women's dystopian), the NaNo novel, is languishing on the back burner, awaiting revisions.
Shiny new idea (Women's fiction - horse racing in UK again) still percolating.

So...what is a writer to do?

I haven't a frigging clue. If I knew how to add a poll, I would.

Anyone have any suggestions? I have to do something, I just don't know what.

All suggestions gratefully accepted.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Some crossover fun - Teaser Tuesday

I'm working through the revisions to Christopher's Medal. I've been taking scenes out, adding new ones. I'm now 2k words ahead of the original draft. Nearly, nearly there before it goes back out to Betas.

Which, brings me to my next tropic, I've received feedback from the lovely Betas on Stolen Summer. All three Betas felt that I needed to add some more on the MC's time in Afghanistan. So, in my revisions to Christopher's Medal, I added this scene. You may recognise the other person. :)

Christopher has just finished a hasty, snatched call to Grace, via satellite phone.

*****************************************

Christopher handed the phone to the Sergeant and walked away, his boot heels kicking up dust in the sharp chill of morning. He strolled across the compound and thought of Grace. It wasn’t hard to imagine her lying in bed, half-asleep with her hair all over the place, all warm from the duvet. It was so good to hear her voice, to know that she loved him. The only problem was that he missed her even more.

“Everything all right?”

Christopher wheeled around and found the journalist who’d been embedded with the regiment, walking towards him. He stood and waited. It probably wasn’t a good idea to be alone knowing that he’d probably do something stupid like sit on the compound wall to mope about Grace and provide a nice target for the local sniper.

“Yea, I suppose so.” He liked Harrison. He didn’t seem to fit the stereotype of a pushy, nosey journalist. It helped that they’d been to the same public school, albeit, not at the same time but they shared the same memories of the place.

“It can’t be easy just having a few minutes on the phone like that.”

“No. It isn’t.” Christopher kicked at a small stone and sent it tumbling across the dirt. “It almost makes things worse.” He looked at the journalist. “Do you have a girlfriend? Don’t you miss her when you go away?”

Harrison shrugged. “I have a girlfriend but I can’t say I miss her all that much.”

Christopher raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you think that’s a bit odd? Doesn’t that tell you something?” He couldn’t imagine not missing Grace.

The journalist’s face was a study in indifference. “It tells me that we should really break up. I miss my best mate more. When I’m stuck in places like this, I wish I could sit down and drink a few beers with him.”

“How extraordinary. I suppose Grace is my best friend too. I’m not sure I’d be drinking beers with her if she were here, mind.”

Harrison laughed. “I suppose not.” He shoved his hands in his pockets and stared out across the compound, suddenly still. When he spoke again, he sounded wistful and lost. “I’m not sure I would be either.” With that, he nodded and wandered away.

Christopher watched him go and then turned back towards his tent with a sigh.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Discord and disharmony - Teaser Tuesday

Still working through revisions on 'Christopher's Medal'. I've taken out a few words and I've added some new scenes. After a day of wallowing in self-pity on Saturday and playing Mahjong Tiles (I never knew I had that on my lap top), I kicked myself in the arse and resumed work. I'm slowly getting there. I've got to go back to the beginning and read through and see what still needs to be fixed, glued on, stripped away and made pretty.

This is a new scene. It ain't pretty and there are some bad words.

*********************************************************

Grace leaned against the wall and held on to Christopher’s calf. “Come on, Chris, push.”

“Fuck off.”

She gritted her teeth and looked at him, lying on his back on the floor. His tee-shirt was blotched with perspiration and his eyes full of fury. Physio was a daily nightmare, wrestling with the twin monsters of Christopher’s anger and pain. “It isn’t going to get better if you don’t work at it.”

“I’m not one of your fucking horses, Grace.”

“More’s the pity. Just push will you?”

“You’re a hard bitch, do you know that?”

“You’re a soft bastard. A soft, self-pitying bastard and you’ll never be able to walk properly if you won’t work at it.”

Some days were better than others when it came to the physio. Sometimes, Christopher worked hard and in silence, his jaw set against the pain and it hurt Grace to see him fighting it. Other days were like a battle and it took everything she had not to lose her temper when he lashed out at her. This was one of them.

“I’ve had enough.” Christopher tried to pull his foot away.

Grace tightened her grip. “No you haven’t. Come on, Chris. Don’t give up.” She was tired, she wanted her afternoon nap, not this constant bloody battle.

“Will you just let go. Just fuck off.”

She bit her lip and stared past him, to the soft sunlight beyond the window. This wasn’t a day for fighting. “Fine.” She let go. “I’ve had enough. You can fucking deal with it on your own from now on.”

She had to be away from there. Grace knew if she stayed it would just get worse. It would end in arguments and long, dark silences. “I’m done. Sort yourself out and let me know when you’ve the bollocks to pull yourself together. I’m your fianc√© not your bloody whipping boy.” She swept from the room and slammed the door.

Grace stood in the kitchen for a moment, shaking. The house was suddenly too small, too full of anger and it didn’t feel like her place any more. Christopher thumped about in the other room swearing and banging his fist against the wall.

“Sod this.” She shoved her feet into her shoes and stepped out into the early afternoon silence.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - a new bit

With 'Stolen Summer' out to Betas, I've plunged back into revisions on 'Christopher's Medal'. I had some brilliant advice from Beta readers, which I'm incorporating into the revisions. For starters, Grace isn't quite the cry-baby she was in the first version. The main changes come in the second part of the book. That's what I'm working on now.

This is a new scene. Christopher is in hospital in the UK and things aren't going quite the way Grace hoped. So far, he hasn't asked to see her. He's told her, through his parents, that he doesn't want her to visit.

******************************************

“He’s with the physio. Phone back in about an hour.”

Grace looked at the clock on the mantelpiece. “Yea, I’ll do that.” She wanted to ask how Christopher was, how he was doing but the nurse’s tone put paid to further questions. She thanked her and put the phone down. It seemed such a simple wish, to hear his voice, to hear him say that he loved her. Grace rubbed her eyes and stared at the fog. It cloaked the house in silence and a grey chill that crept into her bones. She had an hour to fill – a long, empty hour. No racing on television, the papers already read from front to back. She’d even done the crossword puzzle. The yard was quiet. Evening stables was hours away and her father had gone racing. Grace found her jacket and boots and walked out into the mist. Even the crows were silent, sulking in a ragged gathering in the black trees. Allonby nickered softly when she turned the corner into the yard. His star shone a brilliant white in the grey gloom. Grace sorted through the bits of paper, empty bute sachets and cellophane in her pockets until she found the mints. She held her hand out and Allonby lipped the mint from her palm, his muzzle warm velvet against the chill of the day.

“What do I do now, eh?” Grace rubbed his nose. “He won’t phone me back. Why doesn’t he want to speak to me?”

The colt nibbled at her hair. His breath was scented with hay.

“No, I didn’t think you’d have an answer.” She tugged his ear and headed to the tack room. If she mucked out now, there wouldn’t be so much to do at evening stables.

Grace walked back to the house after an hour, two rows of stables skipped out. She sank into a chair, picked up the phone and hit the ‘redial’ button.

A different nurse answered. Grace asked for Christopher.

“He’s just come back from Physio. Hold on, I’ll just fetch him for you. Who shall I say is calling?”

“Grace.” She waited, hearing the nurse set the phone down. “Captain Beaumont?” Her voice was distant but cheerful, speaking of an easy familiarity with Christopher. “There’s someone called Grace on the phone for you.”

Grace tightened her hand around the receiver and felt a sharp little stab in her gut. She was ‘someone called Grace’, someone who this nurse, who knew him, hadn’t heard of. She wished she hadn’t phoned. Grace pressed the phone to her ear, straining to hear Christopher’s voice. There was a distant murmur and then the brisk footsteps of the nurse.

“I’m sorry, miss. Captain Beaumont can’t come to the phone at the moment.

“Oh.” Grace’s fingers cramped. She wrestled with the sudden tightness in her throat. “All right. I see.” She didn’t. She couldn’t see at all. Her eyes burned. “Just tell him to phone me some time.”

“I will.”

Grace thought she heard sympathy in her voice. That made her hurt even more. “Thanks.” She hung up and fought an urge to crawl into bed and cry herself to sleep. The dull glint of the sapphire on her finger was a bitter reminder. For a moment, she was back on the beach, warm in Christopher’s arms. She wanted that Christopher back, the affectionate one, irresistible and charming. Grace wondered if she’d ever see that man again.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - A confession

That's it, 'A Stolen Summer' is done, the first draft. It weighs in at 71.5k words and will, doubtless, need some serious, serious revision.

So, with that in mind, this is the last scene you'll see from it. It's going for a long rest so I can tackle all those other things that need to be done, e.g. taxes, census forms, revisions of other novels, beta-reading, etc. etc. Ah well, keeps me out of trouble.

I'm leaving you with a pivotal scene. It's about 800 words but a lot of it is dialogue. I'm interested to know if it works.

Oh, yea it's slightly rude.

***********************************************************

It was raining when we left the restaurant. A soft, cold steady rain that had us hurrying along the pavements. It was good to reach the warmth of the flat. Colin turned on the fire while I closed the curtains. He made coffee, humming while he messed about with mugs, spoons and boiling kettles. He handed me a mug and sank onto the settee. His eyes were dark and distant. I had no idea where he’d gone to in his head. It was somewhere I couldn’t follow. Those thoughtful moments were rare with Colin. We drank our coffee in silence, broken only by the whisper of rain against the windows. After a while, he set the mug down on the table and looked at me.

“There’s something I need to say to you,” he said. His voice was low, uncertain. “I’ve been trying to think of how to say this for a long, long time. I think I need to say it now, before you go away.”

Something inside slipped a little. Something in his tone made my hands shake. “All right. I’m listening.”

He looked down at his hands and shook his head. “Fuck me, this is hard.”

“When has it ever been hard for you to say anything? Out with it, man.”

His hands trembled. He flattened them and rubbed them along the top of his thighs. “Believe me, Evan. This is hard. This is a deal-breaker.”

I had no fucking idea what he was getting at. I know that he scared me.

Colin took a deep breath and looked at me. “I love you, Evan.”

“I know that.” Relief washed through me. I was expecting something horrible, like he had a terminal illness. “We’ve known each other for ages. I love you too.”

He swallowed. “That’s not quite what I meant.”

Jesus H. Christ.

I stared at him. I saw him for the first time. I saw the pain of this secret he’d kept for God knows how long. “We’re not talking brotherly love, are we?”

“No.” His voice was scarcely a whisper. Uncertainty clouded his eyes.

I scrambled to find something to say, something that would make sense. I wondered why I wasn’t horrified. “Since when?”

“A long time.”

It explained so much - the restless flitting from partner to partner, the perpetual dissatisfaction with them. I looked back through them all, and understood. “Bloody hell.”

“Please don’t say you hate me.”

“No, I don’t hate you at all.” His pain gnawed at me. For a moment I felt like crying. Instead, I got up and walked to the window. I looked out at the rain and tried to find something to say. Inside, I was all messed up because I wasn’t repulsed by the confession. Far from it. That’s what scared me more than anything, that I couldn’t see anything wrong with it. It was like finding the last word in a crossword puzzle, the one that ties all the others together. You see the theme the puzzle writer was aiming for and it all makes perfect sense in spite of all the time you spent wondering what that last word was.

I thought back to the day we met, me soaking wet and summoned out of the shower by the doorbell, him standing there all hopeful in the doorway wanting to know if the room was still available. The way he looked at me meant nothing back then, now, it meant everything.

I leaned against the windowsill, with the chill of the night behind me and looked at Colin. His eyes were huge and sad.

“How long have you felt this way?”

“Remember the night in Woodhall Spa when we got rat-arsed at that wedding? The only place we could crash was that old fashioned, creepy hotel?”

I remembered. Waking in the middle of the night on an old soft mattress, Colin’s arm thrown over my waist, a semi-erection pressed against my arse. I remembered how ashamed I felt because I liked that feeling, wished it wasn’t just a drunken lazy lob. I remembered battling with my own erection, feeling like I was back at boarding school.

Yes, I remember.”

“I woke up wanting you. God, I wanted to fuck you so bad.”

I felt the memory tug at me. An ache grew in my groin and my jeans weren’t going to hide it for much longer. I didn’t even want to think about Katy, not when Colin sat on the settee with his hands in his hair. God, I wanted to feel those long pale fingers on me, curling around my cock.

“Yea, I wanted that too.” I sat down beside him. It felt right to put my hand on his thigh, to feel hard muscle beneath warm denim.

“Really?”

“Yes, really.” His breath hitched when I slid my hand towards his crotch, to the bulge there. I kissed him, feeling his stubble, feeling his tongue sweep over mine. I curled my fingers in his hair, intoxicated by his aftershave, by his nearness, by him.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Never can say goodbye - letting go of your darlings

I just tweeted about this and thought...hmmmmm I can blog about this, can't I?

The WIP that has occupied the empty bits of my brain for the past four weeks is drawing to a close. I'm excited that the end is nigh because I didn't get lost in a mid-book slump and because I have a wonderfully angsty, romantic ending in mind. I loves my emotional stuff, oh yes I do.

That's a good thing, right?

Well, yeah but *sniffs* I love Evan and Colin. I've loved shaping their lives for them, putting them through tough times, letting them enjoy themselves (rather rudely) when the occasion arose. Now, I have to give them an ending, let them get on with their lives without me telling everyone about it. I need to leave them alone.

I hate this bit, sometimes. Now I can understand why some writers want to keep their characters around, make up shiny new adventures for them. I can't do that with these two, it's just one story, theirs, and it's nearly done and dusted. Now my writer's feet are dragging because I don't want to let them go. I know I'll be visiting with them many times again as I tidy up what is bound to be a very messy first draft, but it's not the same, dammit. It's like going back to visit someone you once adored and finding out that they pick their nose, fart, leave the toilet seat up just like other mortals.

Still, I will pony up, fix the messes, make the story shine and try and find a home for it.

I'll miss them.

So, my question for writers is: Do you miss your darlings when you've typed 'The End'?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tuesday Teaser - Introducing Colin

So, the WIP charges ahead. No mid-book slump and at 53k, I think it's safe to say I'm over halfway through. I did have a minor falter. I wondered whether the emotional issues and effects of PTSD on a relationship would be enough to sustain the story. Perhaps in the hand of a top-class writer. I'm not there yet! So I've thrown a spanner into the works for later.

Anyway, this week, we meet Colin. He and Evan have been best friends for 10 years, since University. Colin is a lecturer at Oxford University and Evan has gone to visit because he's got business in Oxford anyway.

****************************************************

Colin’s car was already there when I pulled into the broad sweep of gravel in front of the house. I retrieved my bag from the back seat and glanced up at the upstairs windows. A curtain twitched open. He opened the window and waved. “Come on up, it’s open.”

His flat sprawled across the top floor of an Edwardian house. I always envied him for it.

“Hello, mate.” He stood in the hallway. A bottle of beer in each hand. “I bet you could use this.”

“You got that right.” I dropped my bag, took the beer and then engaged in the traditional, manly one-armed hug. The bottle was cold in my hand.

The huge living room was filled with light from three sash windows. Colin sank onto the settee. I took the chair. I tried to remember the last time I saw him. It was before Michelle, probably after Janie. He looked the same as he had ten years before; lean, pale with disheveled half-curls and a habitual nine-o-clock shadow. It wasn’t hard to see why his conquests were so easy.

“You’re looking well,” he said.

“Thanks.” I took a gulp of beer and sank into the cushions.

Late afternoon sunlight filtered through the bare trees, fell across the polished floorboards and faded Turkish rugs. As usual, there were books everywhere, spilling from the bookshelves on either side of the fireplace, stacked high on the dining table, scattered across the coffee table. One of the two bedrooms was entirely devoted to books. Hapless guests, like me, slept on the settee. Special guests, of course, shared his bed. There were more books in his bedroom, stacked on the mantelpiece of the fireplace, in boxes under the bed and on the top shelf of the wardrobe.

“Fancy Italian tonight?”

“That sounds good to me.” Anything would’ve done. It was just good to get away from London and all the hassle that went with it.

“So, you’re still going to Pakistan?”

“Yup.”

He shook his head, his eyes suddenly grave. That took me by surprise. It was a rare moment when I made Colin unhappy. We weren’t like that. “I hope to fuck you know what you’re doing.”

“I have a pretty good idea.”

“You’re a feckless git sometimes, Harrison. You know that, don’t you?”

Damn him. He actually made me feel guilty. I looked down at my beer. “Yes. I suppose I can be. But you weren’t in Afghanistan, mate. You didn’t see the mess, you didn’t see a Guardsman with half his face blown off. I want to find out more about the bastards who did that. If I can expose those fuckers and help bring them to justice then I don’t think that’s so feckless.”

“What if you get kidnapped? It happens you know. I looked at the Foreign Office web site, they don’t want anyone going there.”

“I know all that. I’ll have armed bodyguards.”

“Like that’s going to make a difference. You need a small army to keep you safe.” He slammed the empty bottle on the coffee table. “How about those of us you’re leaving behind? While you’re off playing Big Time Heroic Journalist, we’ll be worrying ourselves sick. Remember Daniel Pearl?”

“I remember him well enough.” Pearl’s fate had nagged at me since I decided to go to Pakistan. It was another very sound reason not to become attached to someone before I left. As Colin had so bluntly put it, I’d hurt enough people if anything happened to me.

“I don’t want that happening to you.” He walked into the kitchen and returned with two more beers.

“I promise I won’t be careless.”

He smiled then, a sudden, brilliant smile. The old mischief returned to his eyes. "Good, see that you’re not.”

Monday, March 1, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - More from Evan.

So, here I am, 40k words into my latest obsession. I haven't written much tonight. I think I'm still whacked after yesterday's 9k marathon. It never feels tiring at the time, but it caught up with me today.

Anyway, here's another piece from what I've decided to call "A Stolen Summer". Evan has just returned from Afghanistan and is phoning his girlfriend, Katy. I think the conversation pretty much sums up the state of their relationship.

**************************************

I couldn’t be arsed to break up with Katy, not at the moment. It was too much effort. It seemed easier just to let things bump along for a little while longer. I punched in her number and waited, staring at the photograph of the two of us on the shelf.

“Hello?”

“Hi.”

She was smiling in the picture. It had been taken while we were on holiday in Paris. It was a cold day, I had my arm around her waist. Her pale blonde hair blew in fine wisps across her face. It was a long time ago, back when we couldn’t keep our hands off each other.

“You’re back.” There was a false brightness to her voice.

“Yup.” I wondered whether I should ask her to dinner or something. Instead, I waited.

“So.” A gusty little sigh. “Are you doing anything tonight?” She only asked the question because it was expected of her. It was the same every bloody time.

“I didn’t have anything planned. Fancy going out for a meal?” Translation: Fancy having something to eat and going back to your place for a shag? It had been a while. My penis twitched a little. I didn’t really want Katy, but it clearly did. I was too tired to argue.

“Yea, okay. Where?”

I glanced up at the ceiling and went through my list of venues. “How about Le Petit Filet?” It was only a few streets away from hers. We could meet there, eat, back to her place, shag. Pretend we still liked each other. The usual.

“That’s fine. Eight o’clock?”

“I’ll see you there.”

“Brilliant. You can tell me all about your trip.” She made it sound like I was going to tell her about a holiday. I doubted she really wanted to hear the nitty gritty. Katy’s idea of current events revolved around the gossip columns in the papers. I wondered how we’d limped along for three years.

“If you like.” I was already thinking beyond the phone call. I was thinking about lunch and the bottle of beer in the fridge. “I’ll see you at eight.” I tried to smile.

“Bye.” The line went dead. I put the phone down and headed for the kitchen.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday and I'm still obsessed

I've been writing seriously now for about two and a half years. I've churned out several books. Book one is trunked, awaiting major surgery; book two is currently going through the query-go-round. Book three is halfway through revisions, books four and five are awaiting revisions.

As I wrote earlier, I have a shiny new idea, which has steered me away from the revisions. Those revisions wait like a pile of nasty, slimy things but I don't care.

This shiny new idea has possessed me like no other story I've ever written. I'm not sure why. I know that I've fallen completely in love with Evan and Colin. I know that I'm enjoying writing from Evan's POV, in first person (new territory for me). I know that the story has the potential to be very powerful, if I get my research right and get across the fear and uncertainty that poor Evan and Colin are about to endure. I know that, when I'm not writing, I'm thinking constantly about it. Working out the next scene, seeing it my mind's eye. It's an obsession like no other.

I'm churning out words at a NaNo pace - on average, 2k a night. At this rate, I should be done with the first draft in another two or three weeks. Of course, there will be months of revisions and polishing but I have high hopes for this one.

So, my question for other writers is: Does every new story you write take possession of your every waking moment, or is it some stories more than others?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Early Teaser - Boom Boom

So, here it is. My own personal leap in the dark. From third person close POV to first person...oh, and the MC is male.

I'm completely absorbed by this story. I can't stop thinking about it, when I'm not writing it. I'm also anxious to know if I can carry this off. To that end, I've posted this early Teaser, because I really am going to be a shameless comment whore with this one. This is the first 250 words, those golden, attention-grabbing moments.

The usual caveat applies. It's rough and I need feedback on whether it works for you or not.

Dig in.

******************************************************************

When the IED went off, none of us expected it. I guess that’s why those Taliban bastards use the buggers. They love their little surprises. This one certainly worked. For a split second everyone in the convoy stopped and gawped at the blossoming cloud of dust and smoke. I grabbed my camera and then stopped. It was bloody hard to maintain good old-fashioned journalistic neutrality when the blast hurled Captain Beaumont through the air.

Holy crap, I thought that only happened in films.

Men shouted at each other up and down the convoy. While the dust and smoke from the explosion faded, the air was now alive with the wasps’ hiss of bullets, pinging against the lorries, spitting in the dust. Guardsman Walker grabbed my arm and wrenched me to the ground.

“For fucks’ sake, man, get the fuck out of here.”

No arguments from me.

I did my best impression of a combat crawl, across the dirt and small stones, under the lorry to the ditch on the other side of the road. I didn’t even swear when scraps of sharp rock bit into my skin. I just wanted to be away from the worst of the gunfire. At least the ground there was open, no place for the gutless little bastards to hide. Nope, they were entrenched on other side, hunkered down behind a crumbling mud wall.

Lucky them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Venturing into strange places

So, as I mentioned in this blog yesterday, I had a shiny new idea, which great out of a writing exercise I did. Usually, I write close third from a woman MC's POV. The exercise was written in first person from a man's POV... well out of my comfort zone. Well, I thought it would be out of my zone.

The exercise was just under a thousand words, an erotic scene. By the time I'd finished it, fixed it, read it, I'd fallen in love with Evan and Colin. While I was plugging away at revisions on 'Christopher's Medal', they kept nagging at me, wanting to find a permanent place on my lap top. Just for fun I picked up from where that scene ended and ended up with a four-thousand word chapter. For the record, it's rather naughty and I'll have to tone it down a fair bit!

I went to work yesterday, spent a lot of time staring out of the office window and mulling things over. I wanted to find a story for Evan and Colin and, eventually, I did. So, here we go again, a shiny new idea, research and poor Fin and Angharad will have to take a back seat for a while. I have a feeling this may be one of those stories that gets pounded out in a handful of weeks.

While I'm posting about this, I want to give thanks to AW Purgies. I posted a question yesterday about whether it's possible that two seemingly straight men could fall in love with each other. I received some wonderful input and, as a result, I know I can make this work.

So, while I'm sitting on a plane today, I'll be scribbling down some notes. If I get back from LA with my liver and brain intact, I'll be diving right in.

Gotta love these shiny new ideas.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - A spot of bother

Here's another teaser from 'The Man in the Reeds'.
This might be it for a little while. I'm knee-deep in revisions to 'Christopher's Medal' and I want to get that 'out there' in Queryland soon. Plus, I wrote a little scene for an exercise and now those characters are nagging me to tell their story. Should be interesting, given that the scene was written in first person POV, a male character. Go figure.

The fun never stops.

Tomorrow, I'm LA-bound for a couple of days. I suspect my liver may never be the same.

***************************************************************************

Something inside her lifted at the sound of returning horses. She walked to the door to greet her husband and paused. Something wasn’t right. Elfled rode the pony and led Fin’s mare. It was hard to see in the dusk, the last of the daylight slid over the fence, casting long shadows across the yard. Coppery light shone on the mare’s black coat and glistened on the blood there. Angharad tried to make sense of what she was seeing. Fin should’ve been sitting upright in the saddle. Instead, he was draped, face down across it, his hands dangled limply below the mare’s bloodied stomach. Everything inside her, slid to her feet, weighing her to the ground. She bit her knuckle and stared at the mess. The world was suddenly a lot darker than the twilight.

“What happened?” She didn’t recognize her own voice. “Dear God, Elfled, what happened?”

The shepherd pulled the pony to a halt. Angharad forced herself forward, afraid of what she would find.

“He’s still alive, mistress. Don’t worry. It was the boar. The master’s horse slipped in the mud and he came off, just when the boar charged him. He couldn’t get out of the way quick enough.” Elfled’s face was streaked with mud and blood. “He was hurt bad, mind.”

Angharad brushed Fin’s hair from his cheek and felt his skin. In spite of the chill of the evening, it was warm. His breath was faint against her hand. “Help me get him to our room.” She drew herself together, gathering up all the scattered thoughts and fears. “Hilde, I need water and bandages. Quick as you can.” She helped Elfled ease Fin from the mare’s back and they carried him across the hall to the chamber.

The new stone wall made the chamber warmer and darker. Hilde lit lamps and placed them around the room while Angharad took Fin’s knife and cut his bloodied clothes away. She needed to see where he was hurt but dreaded seeing the damage. Hilde returned with hot water and linen. Angharad eased the torn clothes off and bit her lip. She took a deep breath and tried to assess the damage with a calm head. Her hand shook when she leaned close to look at the wound on his side, almost a mirror image to the wound Athelwulf had given him. It wasn’t as deep, but the edges were ragged and raw. Blood oozed from it, thick and black in the uncertain light. The wound on his thigh was deeper, surrounded by dried blood. Below it, another smaller wound.

“What a mess.” Angharad wanted to weep. She looked at Fin’s face, pale and still beneath the mud.

“Will he be all right, mistress?” Hilde hovered behind her, holding the basin of water.

“I hope so.” She couldn’t imagine him not getting better. She needed him. Angharad cleaned the wounds and poulticed them all, scared that Fin hadn’t stirred. When she bandaged the wounds she took his hand and sat beside him on the bed. Only the steady rise and fall of his chest told her that he was all right.

“Don’t you dare leave me,” she whispered, choking back tears. “Not now. Please, Fin, stay with me.” Angharad stroked his face.