Friday, 7 April 2017

Texts I won't delete

In the car, I caught a couple of minutes of a segment on BBC Radio 4, about texts that people won't delete.

I don't delete any texts, but I still have my late sister's phone number as a contact. I refuse to delete the only messages I have from her. The last message she sent was popping out to deal with a plumbing issue at work. Nothing earth-shattering but that was my sister all over. She was always hands-on, dealing with problems where she worked.

The Radio 4 presenter had her mum read out a text.

"I love you."

It was a random late night text from the presenter, apparently something she didn't usually do. My mum died in 1985. I don't have anything like that to or from my mum. Nothing really to link me back to her; no letters, videos or texts.

I wish I did. I looked at the texts to my kids. Full of "Here!" as I wait for them in the car outside. I am used to being taxi. Maybe I'll send them a random "I love you," instead.

~~~

With apologies to the presenter but I don't generally listen to Radio 4 and I didn't catch her name.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Pre-order form for shiMMer

I finally managed to produce my pre-order form for shiMMer. Sign up over here if you haven't got your ticket.



If you are going to the book signing, please order here, for guaranteed books.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

I want my Romance with a promise of forever

Over the past couple of days I've seen a lot of people I follow on Twitter get hot under the collar about what is romance. What defines the romance genre? I traced it back to this blog post, Sometimes I want a Romance Without the HEA.

From the angry tweets I've read, people vehemently disagreed. They point out that a romance without an HEA is women's lit. You don't have a mystery without the goddamned mystery. In romance an HEA is essential.

At one point, I had the same opinion as this post. I didn't think it was necessary to have a happy ever after or even a happy for now after a wild romance. But I don't believe that now and I want to explain why I think an HEA or a promise of one is essential.

My reading habit in my life followed this pattern from early teens:
Crime-->Romance-->SciFi-->Fantasy-->Classics-->Crime-->Fanfiction-->MM Romance

There is at least twenty-five years between reading Mills & Boon to discovering MM Romance. Crime and Fantasy have been my great loves as genres and spread over the years, but I stopped reading romance the day my mum died when I was eighteen. In 1985, the romance I was reading had just discovered sex and the formula was woman meets man, woman falls into man's arms, HEA. Things happened along the way of course, but that was the basic formula. The ones I remember are the books which bucked the formula just a little. It wasn't that I liked them more, it's the fact they stood out in the hundreds of romance novels I eagerly devoured.

By the time I started writing for MM I was adamant I didn't write romance, I wrote relationships.
Nothing Ever Happens wasn't a fairytale romance. It was a hard, sometimes traumatic, always passionate, relationship between two men spanning nearly a decade. Morning Report was about two men who loved each other passionately but it was a well established relationship with its ups and downs. As for The Nightporter, one of them walks out to get married at the end.

I was more interested in the journey than the end. Why were they attracted to each other? What stood in their way? Why did I have to write man meets man, man falls in love with man, sex, HEA? I wanted more than that, and was frustrated by readers who insisted on an HEA/HFN ending.

I was wrong, my dear reader. I admit it. I was wrong.

Seven years on and I've mellowed. MM manages to satisfy my need for crime and explore romance in its glorious rainbow. But what are my comfort reads? The ones with a Happy Ever After of course.

People don't read romance for soap-opera gritty reality. They can watch the TV for horrible news. They may seek to escape for a few precious hours from the reality of their own life. They may read a sweet romance, or a tear your clothes off from the first look romance. But what they want at the end is a promise. A promise that the author is going to deliver is a happy ending, and if they don't get it they feel betrayed. Why have they invested their time, their energy in these characters only to have it torn away?

I still write books which buck the norm, but I'm just as happy to write a man meets man books, like Lyon Road Vets or the Isle series. Even a book with a tough storyline like Letters From a Cowboy has a true happy ever after, as is proved by the epilogue.

I need that reassurance when I start a book or when I start writing that these two people are meant to be together. That the road travelled together so far is worth the journey ahead. An HEA isn't an end, it's a promise of something more.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Plotting a Scene

MI6 building by Vauxhall Bridge
Last week on Mother's Day (UK), my son and I went to London. Most people go out for nice meals and buy flowers. I took my son on a trip over two bridges to see if one of my scenes worked. Answer: it didn't. I needed to rewrite it. My boy was great. He not only helped me rewrite the scene, but plotted the next book too. Did I tell you I love my son?


Lambeth Bridge
It was a gorgeous day to be in an area I love. We walked the whole scene and found what I'd written just didn't work, and I needed to rethink. It wasn't too complicated, thank goodness.



Houses of Parliament






I did take him for a meal in the Royal Festival Hall. We walked along the river, past the Houses of Parliament. It was a couple of days after the terror attack, and Westminster Bridge was extremely busy. Just a word, Fox News, try being in London before passing judgement on how London reacts.

Researching this particular book has been a pleasure. London is my city. I can't wait for the next one. Who knows where it will lead me.


Friday, 31 March 2017

Goodnight My Angel

Cover art by Meredith Russell

Angel Enterprises #2 is out now!


Buylink: Amazon

Blurb:

Callum Ross has a tough decision to make. After years of working for the covert ops agency in the UK and owning his own security firm in the US, he’s forced to choose between the business he loves, and the new relationship with his partner, Josh Cooper.

A bottle of whiskey and Josh almost being killed helps Cal make the decision, and he moves to the UK with plans to set up his own security consultancy. Then the head of the covert ops agency where Josh now works asks Cal for help. Agency operatives and their families are being injured or killed, including Cal’s friends.
Cal is asked to investigate with Josh’s assistance.

As the number of victims increase, they’re aware either of them could be the next target for the killer.

Teaser: 

Josh pushed through the commuters and tourists at Victoria Station, his travel-mug clutched to his chest, until he reached the entrance to the underground station. He was freezing, the train unheated yet again, not prepared for the cold weather they’d been forecasting for weeks. Great Goddess Farrah, he hated the English weather; gray, wet, more wet and more gray. He was also miserable for reasons unconnected with commuter travel in a foreign city. Josh wanted to be wrapped around his Charlie, not beating his way through the early morning crowds to work. Maybe it was time to quit being an asshole and go back to Seattle where the man of his dreams was.
Josh had left the States to make a point. He was damn sure Cal had received the message, and he knew Cal was as lonely as he was. He could find another job. Not at CDR because of Cal’s stupid rule, but somewhere close so he and Mr. Truffles could live with Cal. If Cal wanted that. Did Cal want them to move in together? Josh was over thirty. It was time to stop behaving like a teenager on his first crush.
Fucking tourists with suitcases that attacked his ankles! He resisted the urge to kick one, then a woman shoved in front of him with a backpack that nearly sent him tumbling, and he snapped at her. She flipped him off and then ignored him on the long ride down the escalator. Josh planned her demise in exquisite detail. She was lucky he couldn’t follow through, though he’d write it in his notebook for future reference. Then the tube doors shut in his face as he reached the platform. Josh growled and shoved his earphones more firmly in his ears and pulled down his beanie. Today was too fucking much.
Crowds gathered around him as he waited for the next train. One minute to go. He took a long slurp of his cooling coffee. Someone nudged him from behind. He was about to glare at the idiot who couldn’t keep his hands to himself. Then two hands shoved him fiercely from behind and he tumbled over the edge of the platform.

Angel Enterprises

#1 Morning My Angel
#2 Goodnight My Angel
#3 It's Time, My Angel (coming Autumn 2017)

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Favourite Romance Plots in One Sentence

The muse was suffering plotter's block, so I asked my Facebook friends for their favourite romance plots in one sentence. I have to say the first one from Angel Martinez proved to be one of the most popular. If you are having plot block, I hope this stirs the bunnies.

  • Everybody dies!
  • Meeting by chance.
  • Amnesia.
  • People thrown together by something dangerous fall in love.
  • She fell in love with her priest, became a world class dominatrix, and made some obscenely sexy friends. (Done and dusted already)
  • Stubborn alpha meets strong omega.
  • When they really don't think they'll ever fall in love again after their partner dies but someone comes along and changes all that.
  • Poor boy/guy finds love with medium to rich incomed boy/guy and hopefully live happily ever after... with lots of fun and kink.
  • Angsty young folks that have sparks fly.
  • Dogs, dogs, dogs, dogs... who don't die!
  • Mortal enemies forced to marry for peace, fall in love (another popular one)
  • They met, fell in love, changed, and were together for life.
  • When all hope is lost, love saves the day.
  • Incorrect assumptions by looks & mannerisms & assumed physical abilities.
  • Love packages that are unwrapped & contain a whole different gift!!
  • They have to pretend to be a couple. They are a couple, but have to relearn each other all over again due to injury or amnesia. They are thrown together by circumstances and welded together by danger. (someone didn't see the one sentence part)
  • Two heroes who despise each other have to work together while fighting the fact that maybe they don't hate each so much after all.
  • Two imperfect people finding they are in fact perfect for each other.
  • Mature grumpy/stubborn colleagues thrown together.
  • Older heroes with kids.
  • A normal everyday law enforcement type gets partnered with a handsome, infuriating, jerk.
  • Older teacher falls for younger student. - this one has some issues but I know it's popular.
  • Love happens regardless of the challenges standing in their way. 
  • An outsider / loner who finds love.
  • Younger and older guy get together.
  • Parted lovers brought together again.
  • And then the murders began. (I've just written that)
  •  Anything with two dudes.
  • Revenge love or revenge sex.
  • Some situation arises that isolates the two main characters together, away from society for most of the book, forcing them to get to know and fall for each other.
  • He's broken, but I'll fight the world to give him a chance to heal.
  • It turns out that he's an alien/shifter/vampire/other magical creature, they save each other from the horrible bad guy, they fall in love while doing it, the good guys win, and they all lived happily ever after.
  • Boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy turns into shifter and eats his competition, boy gets boy back.
  • They fell in love, faced down censure, then saved the world.
  • They take on impossible odds and between battles discover they hold each other in unusually high regard.
  • Two guys who don't like each other forced together by circumstances.
  • I walk into a swingers club and... 
  • Two people find love, trust and hope in each other and make it through tough times together, because their love is stronger than anything else.
  • You two people are not allowed to be together for some reason or another, but you totally HAVE to be together.
  • Don't care as long as there's torture. (this is romance?)
  • Two guys see each other while hunting out books in a small book shop
  • Unrequited love and double misunderstandings.
  • Fall in love but are separated due to forces against nature...still their love is immortal--titanic, city of angels, old yeller...
  • Enemies thrown together find mutual understanding, or enemies hate that they find each other attractive, lose control and fall into bed, and eventually re-evaluate and discover their mutual dislike is pointless so they can enjoy each other and fall in love.
  • Two men start talking in bar in London about "Split Enz", well into their 18th year as married couple!
  • Two people are honest with each other and this enables them to get through whatever difficulties are operating to keep them apart. 
  • Snark, bickering and quarrelling. 
  • A misunderstanding causes Alpha type to mistrust their Omega type mate and he has to grovel for putting him through all the pain. 
  • Boy meets boy.
  • Two single dads meet at the school gate.
  • Newcomer finds heart of gold in grumpy reluctant hero in pressured situation.
  • Repairing the damage done by the past.
  • She's a brilliant eccentric, he likes complicated.
  • "I never realized I love you...huh."
  • Secret baby.
  • So I meet this cute guy and...
  • May/December.
  • My boyfriend dumped me right before we were supposed to meet my family at Christmas and I'm going to blackmail you into pretending to be him so I don't have to deal with my family thinking I can't keep up a relationship, even though they're totally right.
  • Best friends who finally realize they need to stop looiking elsewhere for their life love it was them all along.
  • Boy meets boy/man meets man and falls in love, although they have to work for their HEA.
  • There were two people who hated each other very much.
  • Forbidden love or star-crossed lover who find a way to be together despite everything working against them.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Have you read Morning My Angel?

The sequel to Morning My Angel is out this week, so here's where the story began.

BuylinksAmazon - on Kindle Unlimited

Now on Goodreads here

Blurb:
Josh Cooper, top US security field agent, is sent on an inter-agency assignment to London, when a partner in his firm goes missing in suspicious circumstances. Used to working in sole charge of his well-honed team, he clashes heads with the handsome, but pompous Cal, his UK co-operator and superior. Josh’s gut tells him something is wrong. He’s being kept out of the loop and Cal’s agenda is running on a different path.

He also has a personal issue to deal with. He’s involved in a cyber-relationship with “Charlie”, an unknown man who connected with Josh by accident. Their banter has led to deeper respect and a sexual interest, but now Josh is faced with a growing attraction to Cal. Between this conflict and the tension of the mission, Josh’s heart and head are overworked and confused. Things can’t get much worse.

Then Josh discovers the enemies he’s seeking have a new target: him.


Excerpt

The message popped up as soon as Josh Cooper logged on.

“Morning Angel.”

Josh blew the message a kiss and typed a greeting in return.

“Morning Charlie. Need coffee.”

Any further communication would have to wait until Josh found caffeine. After two years Charlie knew Josh wasn’t in the mood to talk until his blood stream was eighty per cent caffeine.

Of course, Josh wasn’t really Angel and Charlie was… whoever he was… but if they wanted to greet each other like relics from a seventies TV show then it was no one’s business but their own. Their relationship—if IM could be called a relationship—had started two weeks after Josh began at CDR, when CDR053 had messaged Josh by mistake. When he wouldn’t give his name, Josh had dubbed the mysterious stranger Charlie. The minute Charlie had called Josh his angel; Josh knew Charlie was sent by his goddess, Farrah Fawcett, to brighten his existence. But he didn’t hear from Charlie every day. Sometimes weeks would go by without a word but, when he’d log on and receive a “Morning Angel”, Josh would send up a thanks to Farrah for making his day golden.

Josh blew one more kiss at the computer even though Charlie couldn’t see it, and wandered off to find life-saving coffee. It was just after nine in the morning and he was about to drink cup number four, which would elevate him from zombie to almost human. He was unashamedly addicted and if he encountered one of those ‘green tea plucked from the Himalayas only on a full moon in a month beginning with Z’ types he wouldn’t apologize for what came out of his mouth. He liked his coffee black and strong, just like his… dog. Josh didn’t have a dog either.

Whenever he said that people would smirk at him and he’d smirk back. He didn’t care what they thought he was going to say. Josh didn’t give a fuck if his men were black, white, built or tiny. When a guy tried it on, Josh stabbed a finger in his chest. “If you think picking me up and banging me against a wall is a sign of a real man you can think again. ‘Sides, I can probably put you on the floor before you lay on finger on me.” And then he would demonstrate. Josh was a show-not-tell man, and the guys who picked themselves up and ran away weren’t worth his time of day. Enough of them dusted off their butt and stayed to make the demonstration worthwhile.

Josh filled his mug with fresh brewed coffee, took a huge swallow, topped off the mug again and returned to his desk at a leisurely pace, waving to the receptionist as he rounded the corner. She blew him a crimson lip-sticked kiss and he caught it, slapped it to his ass and grinned as she giggled. He sat at his desk, pleased to see the cursor still flashing, and typed a quick “Back again.”

“Been caught by Dominic yet?”

“Not yet.” Josh had slid past the operations manager’s office in the hope of being undetected. He couldn’t cope with Dominic Cook prior to being caffeinated. Charlie found Josh’s fractious relationship with Dominic endlessly amusing. Josh had another word—many words— for their working relationship. Amusing wasn’t one of them.

“Did you hide from him?”

Josh pulled a face at the screen. Charlie knew him far too well. “It’s too early to deal with him.”

“Coward.”

“Sensible.”

It was all right for Charlie to fling random accusations around when he didn’t work for Dominic. Josh wasn’t entirely sure what Charlie did for CDR and Charlie was annoyingly closed-mouthed.

CDR, named after its founder, Callum David Ross, provided security for anyone who needed it; whether they were celebrities, big companies, or wealthy individuals who could afford CDR’s resources.

Two years ago, Josh had been head-hunted from his former company after he saved one of CDR’s high profile clients from an assassination attempt. Josh always maintained he was just in the wrong place at the right time but, after a cutting interview with Dominic which felt like he’d had the close hairs shaved off his balls; Josh was employed as part of a field team dealing with low profile but high risk clients. The rest of his team were currently two floors up in the gym beating the living shit out of each other. They were the muscle; Josh was the brains. At least in theory. Josh didn’t want to test it out. He had a feeling both men were more than capable of beating him in both brains and brawn.

Charlie left a new message. “You’ve got a new assignment.”

Josh frowned at the screen. “How do you know that?”

“You know I’m not going to tell you my sources.”

“Fuck. I’ve just got back from the last one. Mr. Truffles is gonna be pissed.”

Josh had recently been adopted by a chocolate brown cat who’d moved in one day and showed no signs of leaving. So far his neighbor had seen more of Mr. Truffles than he had.

“You know Eileen will love to have him again.”

“That’s what I’m worried about, Charlie. I swear one day she won’t give him back.”

“Angel.”

“Yes?”

“Be careful.”

Josh didn’t think Charlie was talking about the potential loss of a cat. He huffed and stabbed at his keyboard. “I’m always careful. You know that.” He’d built his reputation on protecting his clients and his team.

“I know, Angel. But this isn’t like your usual assignments.”

Josh could almost hear Charlie trying to sooth him but he was still feeling huffy. “I’ll do my job. You know. What I’m paid for.”

“I know you will. Just watch your back. Sorry, Angel. I’ve got to go.”

Josh stared at the screen for a long moment. He’d always suspected Charlie was high up in CDR’s ranks, but for Charlie to know about the assignments before he did only confirmed Josh’s suspicions.

“Cooper!”

Josh looked up to see his flame-haired operations manager waving from conference room one. “You yelled, oh great one?”

“Cut the crap,” Dominic growled. “It’s too early.”

“Yes, sir!” Josh saluted him smartly.

Dominic growled again. “Get the boys down here now!”

Josh sent a text to both members of his team and then sat back in his chair to finish his coffee. There was no point in rushing. They would take six minutes and forty-five seconds to shower and arrive from two floors up. In the meantime, he wondered whatever the hell was so serious that it had stuck a bug up Dominic’s butt and worried Charlie. He pulled out his notebook and logged this crisis under number 5440. Josh definitely had OCD tendencies, although not many people noticed until they discovered he never forgot anything, invariably to their cost.

After six minutes Josh headed into the conference room, a full mug of coffee in his hand. Dominic was staring pensively out of the rain-lashed window. He didn’t turn around as Josh entered so Josh took his usual seat and waited for Dominic to acknowledge him. Forty-five seconds later when the rest of the team arrived, Dominic was still staring out of the window.

Landry and Gil Grover, the so-called muscle of his team, took the seats flanking Josh. Twins, six-foot-four, dark skin and dark eyes, they were basically sex on legs. Josh had entertained more than one fantasy about being the filling in that particularly muscled sandwich. Unfortunately, they were both straight, laughed hysterically at the idea of being in the same bed and rejected the offer of Josh’s dick on numerous occasions. He kept trying though, for form’s sake. At least now they rejected him without threatening to rearrange his face. Josh didn’t take it personally. He was born to flirt. Sometimes he got lucky.

Gil raised an eyebrow at Dominic’s preoccupation and Josh shrugged in response. Aside from Charlie’s comment he knew no more than they did. Eventually, Dominic dragged himself away from the window to sit down at the table.

Josh leant back and stuck his feet up on the polished surface, crossing them at the ankles. Landry automatically knocked them down before Dominic exploded. Josh thought about doing it again but decided against it. He gazed around the table, flitting from one face to the other. Josh was sure none of the three men were Charlie. Landry and Gil had girlfriends. Landry’s girl was half his height and twice as scary and Gil liked to date stunning models. Dominic had a wife—supposedly. No one at CDR had ever seen her. He kept his personal life well away from the office.

“If you’re ready to do your job, Mr. Cooper?” Dominic snapped.

Josh slurped his coffee loudly and gave him a condescending wave. “Please, go ahead.”

His red brows almost knitting in the ferocity of his scowl, Dominic tapped at the iPad on the table. The screen on one wall sprang into life showing the round face of a man, his hair thinning on top and grey around the edges, but handsome enough, with a slightly crooked smile and teeth to match.

“Who is he?” Landry asked. Six minutes older and half an inch taller than his twin he was shy in a public situation but was always the one with the questions. It was easy to underestimate Landry. Josh didn’t make that mistake.

“Jonathan Michaels, thirty-eight,” Dominic said. “An entrepreneur who’s now a hedge fund investor in London. He’s gone missing.”

Gil tapped the table. “So why do we need to know about a missing Brit?”

Josh was equally confused. CDR focused on bodyguard work for celebrities and politicians. The agency never touched missing persons’ cases.

“Because he’s a friend of a friend,” Dominic replied. “We’ve been instructed to find him before Scotland Yard’s Serious Fraud Office does. You’re booked on a flight to London this evening. Details of which, along with the hotel information, have been forwarded to your emails.”

“We don’t do cases for friends,” Landry said in a flat tone. “Company policy.”

Dominic inclined his head. “Normally yes, but not this time. He’s insisted.”

He was the boss. Josh had never met Callum David Ross but he wasn’t in any hurry to rectify that situation. From office gossip CDR could snap people in half if they crossed him, pull out their intestines and fry them up for dinner. The stories may have been exaggerated but Josh had never met the guy. What did he know?

“When did he disappear?” Josh asked.

“Three weeks ago. October 30th,” Dominic said. “He left the office at 7.00 p.m. and never arrived home. The journey from his office to his house in Chelsea takes thirty minutes.”

“And we’re only just getting involved?” Josh knew in K&R three weeks was a lifetime.

“The local law enforcement, the Metropolitan Police, thought he was a jumper as his car was found by the Thames. His body’s not been found, although that’s not unusual. Sometimes they get stuck in the mud but the bodies usually turn up downstream after a few days. If he didn’t jump and he’s still alive, no ransom demand has been made.”

So no kidnap and ransom. “Why us?”

“Because money has gone missing,” Dominic said. “A lot of money, from his clients’ accounts.”

“And Michaels is the prime suspect?” Landry asked.

“That’s the general belief, yes.” Dominic’s frown intensified. He seemed personally pissed off about this case.

Landry leaned back in his seat and slurped his coffee, ignoring Dominic’s glare. “This sounds more like a job for the insurance company than us. An executive skipped off with the cash. Why isn’t their white collar division dealing with it?”

“What are you not telling us?” Gil demanded.

Dominic took a long time to answer but finally he said, “Jonathan Michaels is a partner in this agency. If he isn’t found this agency is at risk.”

Josh snapped his fingers. He knew that name sounded familiar. Before Josh had interviewed for his post, he’d found out all he could about CDR. Jonathan Michaels was the silent partner of CDR. An old college buddy of Callum David Ross and an extremely successful businessman, Jonathan had lent him the money to start the business eight years ago. Now he was in trouble and therefore, potentially, so was the agency. Josh tried not to process the thought that his job was at risk. He loved working at CDR. “Where do we start?”

“I’ve sent you everything we already know about Michaels,” Dominic said. “I’m going to follow the trail this end. There’s no record of him leaving the UK but that don’t mean jack. You coordinate the London operation and report back to me. Darryl and I will stay here and focus on his financials and his movements. Nothing else matters until we find Michaels, dead or alive.”

Josh waited for Dominic to say something else but the operations manager stood and scowled at them all. “Why are you still sitting here? You’ve got a plane to catch.”

Gil looked at Josh. “Meet at your desk in ten?”

“Yeah.” Josh finished his coffee and headed for a refill. He had a ton of phone calls to make before they left. Not the least of which was roping in his neighbor to look after his cat while he was away.

London in November. Christ, why couldn’t Michaels live somewhere hot?