UK Meet Manchester 2013

16 07 2013

What can I say? It was fantastic and I spent four days talking to anyone who’d stay still long enough or only walked slowly.

Julie Bozza has written about most of the panels I attended and done it much better than I could so check out what she has to say here

Stevie Carroll, RJ Scott and JL Merrow have all talked about the guided walk many of us went on. The wonderful John Ryan took a group around each evening.

Stevie’s words here
RJ Scott here
JL Merrow here

I went on the final (Sunday) walk and Alan Turing was wearing green eye shadow. I didn’t get a picture of the Beacon of Hope as I was trying not to take pictures of the people and there was a group enjoying beer and conversation sitting at the base of the Beacon. I wasn’t entirely comfortable about going on the guided walk (after I’d booked it) as it felt like going to the zoo or maybe a safari park (where the inmates are in a more natural environment) so I was particularly careful not to get any of the people in the pictures. The walk wasn’t like that at all and was about the buildings, history and the area – not the others enjoying a warm evening by the canal.

Manchester reminded me of London – maybe that was the black cabs – but I didn’t feel uncomfortable walking back to the hotel alone in the evening which I would have done in London. Not that I saw a lot of the city apart from the daily trek to Canal Street for dinner and the view out of my hotel window – it was a very big window with a very big view.

It was great to see everyone again and make new friends. Mara’s gang had a few new recruits outside the main entrance and we provided a service to other Meeters who knew they were coming back to the right hotel because we were there! 
🙂

Cross-posted on Dreamwidth and LJ





Release Day 2

13 06 2013

If you squint a bit and don’t look too closely it’s Wednesday 12th June and “Something Worth Fighting For” (that direct sequel to “Jobless in January: Johnny Smith” I mentioned a while back) is released today!

Blurb
Johnny and Charlie, from “Jobless in January: Johnny Smith”, have enjoyed a casual relationship for nearly a year, meeting up once or twice a month. The trip to Dorset should have been a fun reunion after six weeks apart and it shouldn’t have had Charlie walking out on the first morning. Johnny is left at a guest house with more questions than answers and no Charlie to answer them.

Johnny has to decide if he wants to fight for their casual relationship, and the hope that it might lead to something more, or just crawl away and lick his wounds. Is Charlie worth fighting for even if Johnny knew where to find him?

Excerpt
I rolled over, the unfamiliar bed waking me further as I groped across the cold, empty space beside me. My sleep fogged brain insisted that the space should be filled with hot, hard man and that woke me completely. I sat up and scrubbed my hands over my eyes before looking around the dim room.

The curtains were drawn and the sky was faintly gray with the approach of day. A familiar figure sat hunched in front of the window and I relaxed slightly. Charlie was still here, just not where he should be.

Too many mornings I woke up and Charlie wasn’t there at all, but on those few mornings when he was real and with me, then he should be in bed beside me not sitting across the room staring out the window.

“What time is it?” My voice croaked the words and I fell back on the over sprung mattress, bouncing slightly. I smiled as memories of the night before passed lazily through my brain. We’d had to make some interesting adjustments to make up for the mattress.

“Just after six.” Charlie’s voice wasn’t sleep roughened or happy.

“Breakfast isn’t until seven thirty. Why don’t you come back to bed?” I snuggled under the covers and rolled to my side to watch Charlie’s silhouette. I could think of several ways to pass the time, if only he was here in bed rather than over there in a chair; although the chair had possibilities. I tried to remember what sort of chair it was, but I hadn’t been paying much attention to the room last night when I’d arrived. I hadn’t seen Charlie for nearly six weeks, which was the longest time we’d been apart in nearly a year.

Even if the chair wasn’t up to supporting both of us, and very few chairs could take much more than Charlie’s weight, it still had possibilities if I didn’t mind kneeling on the floor. I was willing to put up with more than a cold floor for Charlie, but that was something I couldn’t say aloud.

“Charlie, are you coming back to bed?” I realized I’d been thinking for a long time and waiting for him to answer my question. Charlie usually put a lot of effort into stopping me thinking because he claimed it was dangerous to me and everyone around me.

“Just go back to sleep, John.” Charlie’s voice rumbled from the chair.

Go back to sleep? On one of our few mornings together? Cold fear settled in my belly. I had kept Charlie’s interest for nearly a year. Had I become complacent? Had I said something clingy or demanding last night? Anything to suggest that I wanted more from him than sex?

I wracked my brain, but couldn’t remember saying anything that wasn’t to do with sex. I’d told him that I wanted him, but I’d said that often enough before. Charlie told me that he wanted my body more often than I said I wanted his.

He’d been to Canada for three weeks, which was why we hadn’t got together for so long. Had he met someone new there? Some lumberjack who could look him in the eye and match his strength? Had he finally realized that he was wasting his time with a screwed up, boring man like me?

I had been afraid of something like that since we started this relationship. Charlie didn’t have relationships, he had one night stands and brief flings, and probably went to clubs where he fucked someone without even bothering to learn their name. Was it a one night stand if it didn’t involve a bed or more than fifteen minutes?

What did that matter? I suppressed the flare of jealousy that such thoughts always produced; I was used to ignoring that particular emotion where Charlie was concerned. What mattered was that Charlie was here with me now and should be ‘mine’ for the next day and a half before we went our separate ways again.

One thing was certain I wasn’t going to go back to sleep any time soon.

***

This is the sequel to “Jobless in January: Johnny Smith” that I’m sure I mentioned before. It’s about 10,000 words (around 35 pages depending on format) and covers just over one day! It is a very busy day for Johnny with plenty of ups and downs to keep him occupied. It should work as a standalone, but it is a sequel so reading the novel first would be better. 

I’m giving away a copy so comment here before 20th June to get a chance to win.

Check out my Torquere page here for more info.





Ereader

25 05 2013

I bought a Kobo ereader from WH Smith a few weeks ago and intended to write a diary about getting used to it. That didn’t happen like a lot of other things because I’ve been too wrapped up in reading. Despite wishing I’d bought a Kindle instead for the first week or so I have persevered and now find it hard to put the thing down.

I’ve been re-reading a lot of books – some old favourites and some I only read last year. I don’t seem to have retained anything that I read last year which is frustrating and depressing. Usually it takes several years for me to forget a story to the extent that it all seems new when I open it again and stays seeming new after the first chapter. The joys of getting old I suppose. The positive side is that I should be able to save a fortune on ebooks if the trend continues!

I got a 32GB memory card to extend the Kobo’s memory so that I could carry my entire elibrary around with me, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I could have bought a much smaller card because it is a pain to search through hundreds of books and seems to take forever with only half a dozen books to a page on the Library list. I’ll be keeping a bare minimum on the card for reading and trying to remember to remove them once I’ve read them. The theory is that the Kobo will just be stocked with “To Be Read” books rather than everything and the kitchen sink.

The Kobo store hasn’t impressed me. They might have millions of books, but the single-level search facility and limited display makes finding things time consuming and frustrating. But that seems to be a signature feature of the device and its interface. I’ve had to learn how to use a touch screen which is sometimes too sensitive and other times unresponsive. AND THERE ARE NO INSTRUCTIONS!!!

I like to read the instructions when I get a new toy. I might not remember everything; they might not make sense; but at least I’ll have some idea how to do stuff or where to look for help. The Kobo instructions are five whole lines and three of those are about downloading the desktop interface. That was when my “wish I’d bought a Kindle” phase started, as soon as I got it out of the box at home.

I have mellowed towards it with time as I’ve figured out how to make it do what I want most of the time, and figured out what I’m doing to make it do weird things. Mainly I’ve just got used to the weird things and the lack of direct ways of doing stuff. And it does have built-in Sudoku so most of the time I’m not even reading just playing.

The battery lasts about a week now if I use the light a lot – that’s just basic reading and playing with no wi-fi or internet. That’s good enough for what I want. I’ve bought a mains charger because it was a pain having to tie the Kobo to the laptop for three or four hours to charge. It only takes an hour or so to charge direct from the mains. It doesn’t come with a mains charger just a USB lead.

I should have gone with the older, cheaper option without a touch screen. I’m probably just being old and grumpy about it and would have found as many irritations with a Kindle. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t tempted by a second-hand Kindle for £25 the other day…

I am enjoying the portability factor and the built in light that means I can read in poor lighting conditions and walk around reading like I used to with paper books only more so. I did read a paper book last month and it took a long while because I couldn’t adjust the font and my eyes needed frequent breaks.

I’m getting withdrawal symptoms since it’s been several hours since I picked up the Kobo…





Where did March go?

2 04 2013

Hmm. A lot happened in March and it has gone by in a flash. The biggest thing in RL was completing the sale of my mother’s bungalow. After many years of clearing it out, repairing things and generally fretting about it I don’t have to worry about it anymore; or worry about the large Care Home debt that had built up. Even after two weeks it still hasn’t really sunk in that I never have to go back there again and open the door to find floods, collapsed ceilings or ant invasions.
I also got another temporary contract for eight weeks work after six weeks without work. Naturally this was at the same time as the sale of the bungalow completed – it was a very stressful two weeks!
“Jobless in January: Johnny Smith” has received some nice reviews on Goodreads, so I should stop looking before the less nice ones show up. The short sequel, “Something Worth Fighting For” will be out in June from Torquere, and I have a Cover Art form to fill in. It is good to have some input into the cover, but it is one of the more difficult things for me to come up with some sort of pictorial idea. At least I can stick with the beach theme for this one!
Three months to the UK GBLTQ Meet in Manchester. If you’ve been dithering about attending then keep an eye on this site: linky. I’ve paid my registration fee at last, but still have to sort out hotel and train. I had to cancel a week away for the end of April when I lost my job in February, so I’m going to splash out on the posh hotel for the Meet. The lovely Elisa Rolle is the keynote speaker this year and she is hosting giveaways from the registered authors; so there’ll be another copy of Johnny Smith up for grabs in due course.
“Smoke” and “Yarotanji” have both had their contracts renewed so they’ll be available for another two years rather than vanishing about now.
As I said, it has been a busy month even if there was very little new writing involved. Maybe April will be more writing friendly.





Release Day!

27 02 2013

Today I’m celebrating the release of my second novel!

 photo 9e3fe23a-380b-4953-87be-4be77fe1dbe5_zpsc5df973a.jpg

Blurb: Johnny has spent thirty-two years trying to do what was expected of him. When he finds himself divorced, overweight, living with his parents again, and losing the job he’s had since leaving school, it’s the wake-up call he needs to start taking charge of his life. It’s time to do what he wants — if only he could figure out just what that is.

Choosing to go looking for his brother Joey, who he hasn’t seen or spoken to for eight years, he follows a post mark on a Christmas card to the seaside town of Anwell-by-Sea. Joey isn’t that difficult to find and comes complete with boyfriend Dave, Dave’s Uncle Ed, and a rather large and very bad tempered arsehole called Charlie.

Johnny is happy to find Joey and enjoys meeting Dave and Uncle Ed; but he’s pretty glad to see the back of Charlie. Despite Charlie being an unpleasant git, Johnny can’t wait to get back to Anwell-by-Sea with his kids for an Easter break, and maybe he can make some progress on his to-do list by then, too.

Check it out here

As an added incentive all my titles at Torquere are 20% off this week.

***
Excerpt:

Joey and Dave walked me downstairs and out of the front door. A pushbike shot into the driveway and pulled up in a spray of gravel just before plowing into us. Charlie glared at us from underneath a metallic green cycle helmet.

“What are you lot doing in the middle of the driveway?”

“Standing here just to get in your way, Charlie!” Joey snapped back without a pause.

“We were going to give Johnny directions back to the sea front,” Dave explained. “It’s easier from the road.”

“It’s easier to drive him than give him directions.” Charlie moved his glare to Dave.

“I wanted to walk. I need the exercise.”

I ignored Charlie’s snort, just like I was ignoring the clinging Lycra that was displaying all his muscles. The pushbike was giving me more ideas. I didn’t know where my old one was at home, or even if I still had it, but I could afford to buy a new one now. Cycling would help get me in shape and be a way to get to a job, if I found one.

“Johnny is trying to get back in shape,” Dave said. “I thought that maybe you could give him a few pointers?”

“And while you’re at it you could show him the way to the sea front,” Joey added.

“I suppose I could.” Charlie sighed loudly. “If he stops staring at my arse long enough to look where he’s going.”

“Your arse?” I turned my gaze to it and stared openly. “Very impressive I suppose, must’ve taken a lot of work to get it like that. Are those gel saddles any good? I’ve seen a lot of people with them and the adverts make them sound wonderful, but are they really any better than a decent saddle?” I lifted my eyes from the bike saddle and looked at Charlie innocently. I just prayed that I wouldn’t blush. I had been staring at his arse and wondering if the narrow saddle was as painful as it looked.

“I haven’t noticed that much difference.” Charlie shrugged and glared at me suspiciously. “I think it is a bit better. It came with the bike and I haven’t bothered changing it.”

“Can’t be too bad then.” I nodded. “Maybe I’ll try one and see for myself.”

I said goodbye to Joey and Dave, after agreeing to meet them the following evening.

It felt awkward walking along the road with Charlie looming beside me. It was even more awkward answering his barrage of questions about my height, weight, age and stuff. He was pushing his bike with one hand in the centre of the handle bars and making it look easy. I knew it wasn’t.

“You should get a complete physical before you start any intensive exercise.”

Charlie’s voice startled me. He had been quiet for some time after I finished answering his questions. I had been trying to pretend he wasn’t there, which was difficult given the size of him.

“I’ll draw you up a plan,” he continued. “If you stick to it for three months you’ll be in better shape than Joe.”

“I will?” I wasn’t sure that was possible. Joey looked in pretty good shape to me and he was six years younger, not to mention how seriously out of shape I was.

“If you stick to it.” Charlie nodded. “It won’t be easy,” he warned. “But if you have the will power it’ll produce results.”

“Okay. Thank you.” I was bristling slightly at the tone of his voice, especially when he mentioned will power.

“There’s the sea.” He pointed ahead of us.

“Then I can find my way from here.”

I watched the bike vanish around a corner and blinked a few times.

I shook my head and turned back toward the sea. It was starting to get dark and the wind seemed to be colder without Charlie’s bulk acting as a wind break. I walked faster. The sea front promenade was well lit, I shouldn’t have any problems finding my way back to the guest house.

***

To celebrate I’m offering a copy of the ebook to one lucky commenter. I’ll leave this open until next Wednesday 6th March and all you need do is say hello and leave a contact email to be in with a chance of winning.





February Continues

10 02 2013

This has been a week of ups and downs. There I was all chipper and hopeful on the 1st, as well.

Naturally it started with the downs – Saturday 2nd Feb was a Very Bad Day. It was a working Saturday and I got told I wasn’t wanted on Monday – as this was by the tactless supervisor I didn’t focus too much on the ‘not wanted’ part and rationalised it as there was an audit on Tuesday in the other admin person’s area of expertise – she’d just had a week off and the audit had been arranged two hours after she left – so it made sense that she’d want to come in on Monday (when she wasn’t due back until Tuesday) and clear up after me to be ready for the audit.

I got home and switched on my laptop – it was running a bit slowly loading web pages, but got there in the end. I thought the router was playing up again and wandered off for a few hours of exciting RL stuff like grocery shopping. When I got back to the laptop it wasn’t running at all. The hard drive had given up the ghost. And I hadn’t backed it up…

Sunday was spent updating my old laptop which hadn’t been switched on since 2011 and grizzling.

Monday I called in a Computer Wizard to give me a professional opinion. While I was waiting for him to turn up I got a call from the agency to say I wasn’t wanted at work all week until Saturday – so much for my rationalising. After over two years working there I’d expected a little better than a call via the agency…

The Computer Wizard arrived and confirmed my diagnosis, but was hopeful that he’d be able to get my data back. He took the sick laptop away and left me with the old one. I was hopeful until I got an email later that night to say he couldn’t get anything from the old hard drive, did I still want him to fit a new drive and install Windows and Office for me? Yes was the short answer to that.

The week went by quite quickly all things considered as I applied for jobs and waited for the next disaster. On Wednesday I discovered that my main author email didn’t have anything in it from before Saturday even when I went online to check the main version. Outlook on the old computer had the box for ‘delete from server after 7 days’ checked for that account…

Fortunately that was only for that one account, although I lost a lot of important info from that one. I do have several email accounts feeding into Outlook and there are a couple where losing all messages wouldn’t have hurt so much.

Friday lunchtime I got a call asking if I’d be interested in a short term contract as a building site administrator – yes, gimme, gimme. I was ecstatic for half an hour or so while I waited for the call back that never came. That would have been so sweet to be able to go into work on Saturday knowing that if I was asked to work the following weekend I could tell them NO with a clear conscience.

I got the repaired laptop back on Friday afternoon and then went to work on Saturday for 6am – no mention of what’s going on or if they want me to work every Saturday or anything.

Two days later the computer side is going well. I’ve recovered most of my ebook library, reinstated thousands of emails (and deleted thousands more), and now just have programs to install. I’ve decided to take a break and do some enjoying instead.

Trawling through years of ebook purchases and emails has had its moments of interest – although mainly of the ‘it wasn’t that long ago was it?’ variety. There were some ‘I’d forgotten about that’ moments and some ‘I haven’t lost that, thank goodness’. It’s scary how many ebooks I’ve bought in the last two years and no way am I going to add up how much I’ve spent on them!

I suppose I should look on the bright side – at least I have plenty of time to restore my laptop to its normal cluttered state and try and recreate all the writing I lost.

Maybe I’m taking that old saying to extremes: “If you can’t be a shining example be a dire warning” or however it goes.  Do remember to back up your important files!





February already

1 02 2013

And here we are in February already. Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? Or in my case running around like a headless chicken when not hiding in my family tree research.

Five and a half months to go to the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet in Manchester. I’ve registered and might even pay for the event soon. I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do about hotels – save some money or go for the luxury option – but I can put that decision off for a while yet. I have decided on my travel option which will be train as I can catch one direct from the next station down the line, but the cheap advance tickets aren’t available until three months before time of travel so I can’t get them yet.

The UK Meet website has a blog this year and various people are posting memories of last year and plans for this year there. Maybe I should add my excitement in 2011 when I met a fanfic author whose work I’d read and enjoyed. I was already quite bouncy about meeting so many other m/m authors and being able to talk about m/m fiction without having to explain why I read it, but to meet a fanfic author and discuss, however briefly, that particular fandom just blew my mind. Or maybe I’m just a bit strange. *grin*

If you’ve been thinking about attending and worrying that it might not be as friendly as we all make out please give it a try. I can’t guarantee that everyone there will be a perfect picture of love and goodwill to all, but I can guarantee that we are a very diverse and accepting group – you’re bound to find several someones to talk to who are on your wavelength. Check out the website here for more info: http://ukglbtfictionmeet.co.uk/

The writing progress hasn’t been so good. I have written a bit, but not the significant amounts I’d intended. It’s less than four weeks until Johnny Smith is released and I’m stuck in that jittery place where I’m looking forward to having a novel published, (ebook and then print, did I mention?) but also worrying that nobody will like Johnny because he’s just an ordinary bloke trying to do the best he can. I’ll know the answer to that one in a few weeks.

I have added a lot of names to my family tree even if most of them aren’t direct relatives. I track families through the Census records and individuals through Birth, Marriage and Death lists. The Census gives glimpses of their lives every ten years and the BMD index gives me an approximate date for the events and a place. Some families are a joy to track, appearing at each Census with enough members (to be sure I’m looking at the right family in the right location) with in-laws, siblings, nephews and nieces visiting or living with them.

We tend to think that moving around the country or the world is something fairly modern and that a few generations back only the rich moved more than a couple of miles from where they were born. The ‘relatives’ I’ve found aren’t rich or famous and tend to be Agricultural Labourers more often than anything else, but that doesn’t stop them moving about and trying different things. Some do stay in the same area and stay working on farms, but others seem to flit about and have a different job every ten years. I really want to track down more about the nephew listed as visiting and born in Australia…

There are eight sets of Census records available for the UK now, so in theory if an ancestor was born in 1840 and died after 1912 I could find eight slices of his or her life. That got me to thinking about how my life would appear to some future descendant tracking me through the Census records. I think I’d look rather flighty with a different address through the first few records, then the address would settle but the job titles still keep changing. How would you measure up? Think about where you lived and what you were doing in as many XXX1 years as you’ve been alive. I think the US is neater and takes their ten year census on to “0” years – would that make your “history” look any different?

I find myself making up little stories about these poor unfortunate relatives and giving them characters on the basis of very little information. Maybe that’s why I find it so fascinating – all that speculating is great fun.

I think that is enough rambling for now.

Happy February folks!