To celebrate the release of Port In A Storm, my short novel The Bucket List is now reduced on Loose Id’s website. Save two dollars on the format of your choice, NOW!
I’m sure most of you will know by now – because I keep banging on about it! – that I came back to the world of erotic fiction in 2012. Prior to that, it had been a good few years – the exact number will remain undisclosed, thanks very much – since I wrote for the adult market.
I came back to the genre because I had an idea for a story, a story that would ultimately become Port In A Storm. I began the process of writing it while on holiday in Spain. I was suffering from what I suppose you could call a case of ‘professional/life-burnout’ (or if you were very unkind, a case of feeling extremely sorry for myself) and I went with my partner to visit family, drink too much wine and generally get away from things for a while. That was when main character Jake jumped into my head.
In November 2012 I self-published Port In A Storm. I did so because the publishers I had worked with or had heard of back in the day – I’m making this sound like ancient history when it really wasn’t – had all disappeared. I didn’t personally know anyone who still wrote erotica and I didn’t know where to start when it came to publishers, but I had heard of self-publishing. With the help of my partner, a former IT guy, I got Port formatted and onto the market.
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much and that, in the end, was what I got. I did my best to promote it, shop it around to review sites, but the truth is the story didn’t make much of an impact.
Now, technically that was fine with me. The entire purpose of the exercise had been, in the main, a self-healing one. I wanted to prove I could still write something, wanted to prove that if I ever needed it there would be a life outside of the professional one I had spent the previous X amount of years building for myself. I would have been happy to disappear back to my muddy archaeological digs and let sleeping dogs lie.
But there was a slight problem.
You see, as much as Port hadn’t set the literary world alight, it did receive some really nice reviews. And I mean really, really nice reviews. I had people email me to tell me – in possibly too much detail! – how they read parts of the story in bed aloud with their partners and then proceeded to… Well, like I said. Possibly too much detail.
I had people say kind things, accompanied by four and five stars on Goodreads and Amazon. They weren’t turning out in their thousands by any means, but for my little scruffy novel, ripped from my hands (in my mind) early by my partner who was sick of me tinkering with it every evening, it was pretty impressive. And really, that’s why I’m still here now.
It wasn’t long before I took Port down. I knew it wasn’t as good as it could have been, had probably always known that since I kept tinkering with it right up until the second my partner forced me to hit submit on Amazon and Smashwords. But, those characters wouldn’t go away. You see, there’s so much of me in that book. Too much, I think sometimes, and a lot of people I know or used to know. So, I stayed in this little erotic fiction world, messing around with short stories, never looking at the manuscript for Port, but always keeping it in the back of my mind.
This summer, I finally took it out and dusted it down. Ultimately, I rewrote it. The characters remained much the same, the love story between Jake and Alex as passionate, desperate and tempestuous as before, but by the time I was done the same couldn’t be said for the story. Relationships were altered, character histories were rewritten, even locations were adapted. I submitted it to an editor, had it accepted, and then… I panicked.
Like I said, this is a personal story for me. When I first self-pubbed it in 2012 it was part of a healing exercise. Facing the idea of it going out into the world with a publisher behind it, I froze. It was too personal, people who know me would recognise themselves in the story – perhaps not in a good way. I withdrew Port and tinkered some more and then, when I found my balls, sent it to another editor and now here I sit, at my dining room table, the day before release day, wondering what you’re all going to make of the story that brought me back to writing.
Port In A Storm will be released tomorrow. It is a very different beast now than it was before. It is better – but I would say that, wouldn’t I? – and I hope those of you (as in pretty much everyone!) who missed it first time round will find it now and enjoy it. And for the handful of people who did read it in its barebones state, thank you for the kind words that got me and my story to this point. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it a second time, but if you don’t want to, then all I can say is that’s perfectly fine and thank you THANK YOU THANK YOU for all your kind words of encouragement.
Have a wonderful day everybody. Here’s to tomorrow! :-)
It was just after seven thirty in the evening when James finally pulled his car into the car park of the Caledonian Hotel. The sunshine that brightened the afternoon had been replaced by strong winds blowing in from the North Sea. Rain whipped the sides of his car as he sat, staring up at the hotel’s imposing façade.
He was early, as he knew he would be. His nerves were now flying in his stomach, his breath catching in his throat. His good mood remained intact, but his hands had started shaking when he turned north across the Forth Road Bridge, and he couldn’t seem to make them stop.
He clenched his phone tightly as he searched through his messages, finding nothing new waiting for him. The last one he received had been a voicemail from Mark telling him he was about to get on a plane. James had just begun his four-hour journey from Glasgow to the hotel and hadn’t been able to answer the call. Letting it ring through to voicemail had hurt.
With his breathing finally under control, James opened the driver’s side sun visor and looked into the mirror. He had been so desperate to get on the road that going home to change hadn’t occurred to him. His grey work suit appeared drab; his black tie and shirt were dull and unimaginative. Stubble, that hadn’t been there twelve hours before, decorated his chin. He ran a hand through his hair and shook it out of its work-appropriate style. Mark preferred it messy.
He took off his tie and opened the top few buttons of his shirt. Rolling it up carefully, he put the tie into his briefcase along with his mobile phone. Taking one final deep breath, James prepared to get out of the car. He froze with his hand on the door. He was still wearing his wedding ring. He slipped it off with practiced experience and popped it into his briefcase, too. Then, he swung himself from the car, deposited his briefcase in the boot and removed a black, leather overnight bag instead. Locking his car, he made his way into the hotel. He gave a false surname at reception and accepted the key to his room.
Those are the opening paragraphs of A Secret Love, a short story that was published last summer by Evernight Publishing. They have certainly proved controversial, with some readers outright refusing to look at the book because of the suggestion of cheating.
For me A Secret Love is about two things. Don’t laugh when I tell your those things are.
2 – Secrets
Bet you didn’t see that coming, eh?
James and Mark have been in a relationship for a long time, but due to circumstances beyond their control, they rarely get the opportunity to be together. That’s about to change though. They just have to make it through six more months and then years of secrecy and hiding, meeting up in hotels and sneaking nights together whenever and wherever they can will all be in the past. They will be together, which is all they want.
They meet for a weekend in the remote Caledonian Hotel, where passions normally painfully contained threaten to boil over and they find themselves running the risk of blowing their cover and possibly shattering the dreams they have of a future together.
So, A Secret Love, is about two men in love who are on the verge of finally abandoning the lives they have been living so they can be together. And, it’s about secrets, because their relationship has to stay hidden – perhaps not for the reasons you might initially think – and the story looks at the impact this level of secrecy has on the characters.
Also, I think A Secret Love taps into a fantasy I imagine a lot of romance and erotic fiction readers share, whether they would ever say so aloud or not.
Driving away from home, to spend a weekend with your lover in a place no one will know your face. Two nights, two days of being the person that for the rest of the week, month, year, you have to keep hidden behind business suits or school runs or whatever ‘normal’ is for you.
For one weekend, you get to love and be loved, you get to taste the life you wish you were living, you get to experience your fantasy and, come Sunday afternoon, you leave again. You go back to what you know, either willingly or – in the case of James and Mark –reluctantly but, most importantly, with your secret intact. No damage done to your reputation. No harm. No foul.
A Secret Love is not the story of James and Mark’s fantasy. For them, hotels and stolen weekends are a hated necessity, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy their time together. There are fine wines and expensive dinners, long walks on secluded beaches and the completely inappropriate use of elevators, coffee tables, jacuzzis and cars. In short it’s a hot, sexy MM erotic romance that I think my readers will enjoy very much, and at it’s heart is a secret. A good secret. And no, of course I’m not going to tell you what it is!
Between now and the 13th of October, A Secret Love is reduced by 50% on Evernight Publishing’s website. That means it’s only $1.49 for the next two days! All formats are available. Discount applied at checkout.
Grab yourself a copy and find out what it is that makes James and Mark need to hide AND find out if they escape their weekend with their secret and their future dreams intact.
Today is the day! It is with great delight (and huge, stinking, fantastically unutterably ginormous pleasure) that I can reveal the cover art for my upcoming release, Port In A Storm. Scroll down to read more about Port In A Storm and indeed stay tuned for more updates as we moved towards release day – October 14th for those asking, and those who weren’t! But, without further ado, please allow me to introduce you to Alex and Jake. Alex’s world changes forever the day he meets Jake. It should be simple. Jake wants Alex. Alex wants Jake, but for Alex there’s this little thing called life that seems determined to get in the way.
Alex is stuck in a rut. He’s facing a big decision about his future, namely, what to do with it and so far he hasn’t managed to come up with an answer. Until he meets Jake. Jake blows through Alex’s world like a hurricane and Alex falls hard and fast for the perpetual traveller with a penchant for secrets and a perfect smile. Jake wants Alex, but life isn’t as simple as that. Jake never settles in one place for long and already their long-distance relationship is driving a wedge between Alex and his family. With no compromises on offer, Alex’s decision about his future becomes a decision about Jake. For Alex, the idea of losing Jake doesn’t bear thinking about, but choosing him looks like it will mean throwing away everything Alex knows, including his relationship with his parents. And so, Alex finds himself with another question to answer. How much would you be willing to give up, to be happy? Port In A Storm
As most of you probably know by now, I first started writing erotica when I was at university. Under various pseudonyms I wrote for magazines and adult and pornographic websites, way back in the good-old-bad-old dial-up days. The extra money those stories brought in made student life a little more comfortable, but I genuinely enjoyed the process of crafting short stories and novellas and although my ‘literary career’ ended as soon as I graduated, I never forgot the enjoyment writing those pieces gave me.
It never occurred to me to return to writing erotica once I started working full-time as an archaeologist, and the thought of writing romances definitely never crossed my mind until, in the summer of 2012, suffering from a mild case of professional burn-out, I took a holiday in Spain. There – spending my days eating good food, drinking far too much excellent wine and generally doing nothing more strenuous than lying on a towel on the beach – a character popped into my head.
I named him Jake.
Jake was the first character to come to me since my student days and he arrived fully formed. In many respects, Jake was a combination of two men I’ve known in my life. Both were similar in appearance, in attitude, in manner, and I developed horrific, all-consuming crushes (that doesn’t seem a strong enough word!) on both of them. One wouldn’t even give me the time of day. The other? Well, let’s just say he was happy to show off his watch. (Is it just me that thinks that sounds dirty?)
As my 2012 holiday progressed, I started to write down Jake’s story. I thought maybe it was just going to be a form of therapy for me, that I would write an erotic story and squirrel it away somewhere, for my eyes only. But things didn’t turn out that way. Jake developed and ended up taking a backseat in his own story. The element of him that was purely my fantasy faded and he started to become a more universal romantic hero.
A bad boy, a free spirit, a traveller. A wealthy man with his fair share of emotional baggage. Damaged goods, but not beyond repair. Loving, attentive, hypnotising, infuriating.
I needed a character who would fall hard and fast for Jake, who would have his world turned upside down by this mysterious stranger and who would have to fight to hold onto some semblance of sanity and normality despite his relationship with Jake threatening to destroy both. I found that in Alex.
Alex came to me just before the end of my holiday. He wasn’t Jake’s opposite. In many ways, he was a younger version of Jake. Jake before he got itchy feet and felt the need to wander the world, never settling in one place for too long.
Alex was a university graduate, stuck between a rock and a hard place, hating his job, but not willing to join the family firm as his family wanted, and not able to admit to what he wants from life for fear he’ll hurt people and lose his parents’ support forever. He needed Jake and Jake needed him. It seemed like a match made in Heaven, not a match made on a cheap Primark beach towel on the Costa del Sol!
And so I wrote the story and it became Port In A Storm.
Originally, I self-published it, but ultimately I removed it from sale and rewrote the whole thing many times over until I was completely happy with it. Then, in August this year, I submitted it to Loose Id Publishing and I am delighted to say they accepted it.
Port In A Storm will be released on October 7th, just over two years since Jake first came to me, and my publishers may be pleased (or horrified!) to hear, that he hasn’t quite left me yet. I think there may be more of his story to come, but for now, stay tuned for a cover art reveal on Friday.
I can’t wait to introduce Jake and Alex to you.
Stay safe and happy everyone!
On Friday, Spanish Heat was released. I was unable to announce this at the time because, rather fittingly, I was on a plane flying back from a fortnight-long holiday in Spain. So, I’m announcing it now.
Spanish Heat was originally published by the now-defunct Silver Publishing as Business or Pleasure. When the rights reverted back to me, I was delighted to be able to find a home for my story with Totally Bound Publishing.
I’ve always had a real soft spot for this story. The action follows Jack Capmbell, a young man who takes a job housesitting on the Costa del Sol to get away from events back home for a while. Clark Thomas is his new employer, and he has just one weekend to show Jack the ropes. Naturally, over the course of that one weekend things don’t go entirely according to plan.
I think part of why I loved this story so much comes down to the location. I have family in Spain and I love going to visit them. I do so as often as I can. Aside from the weather – which is glorious compared to the average Scottish offerings I deal with – there really are some beautiful pockets of Andalusia that you would be mad not to see. Little white-washed hilltop villages, sweeping beaches, cliffs, mountains, markets selling the sort of fresh produce you can only dream about back home, and yes, the odd cheesy nightclub and dodgy bar… All of these places feature in Spanish Heat. It’s like a mini-adventure to Spain, but for the cost of a book, not an plane ticket!
Here’s a little extra info for anyone who might be interested.
Jack is looking for a new job and a fresh start, but he finds more than he expected waiting for him under the Spanish sun.
When Jack Campbell is unceremoniously dumped in favour of his high school best friend, he decides he needs a fresh start. He sees an advertisement in The Times. Clark Thomas is looking for a house sitter for his villa in Marbella. In a slightly inebriated state, Jack applies seeing this as the perfect chance to get away from his troubles at home in Glasgow, but when he lands in Spain, he finds a lot more than a just job opportunity waiting for him.
Clark has one weekend to show Jack the ropes before he leaves Spain and the memories of his own recent break-up behind for the next nine months. However, there’s just something about Jack. Instead of explaining the finer points of Jack’s contract, Clark finds himself introducing the young Glaswegian to some of his favourite Andalusian haunts, and he’s spending more time doing so than is necessary.
There must be something in the Spanish heat. All too soon Clark and Jack find themselves struggling to maintain the boundaries of their employer-employee relationship. Jack is behaving in ways he never has before, but knowing that what he’s doing is probably wrong doesn’t stop it from feeling right, and it might cause Jack a bigger problem when Monday morning comes around and it’s time for Clark to leave.
Clark was quiet on the journey up into the mountains, speaking only to give directions. There was no noticeable tension between them and Jack didn’t try to start a conversation. He supposed Clark might be feeling as nervous as he was about the risks of trashing the very nice, very new, very fast Audi on the ever-ascending mountain roads.
As they closed in on their destination, the drops were knuckle-whitening and the hairpin bends pelvis-shattering. Lorries and vans laden with lemons and olives hurtled down the mountain at speeds Jack had always thought were the preserve of racing drivers. His heart was in his mouth but he couldn’t deny it was exciting.
If Clark felt the same he didn’t show it, but he didn’t seem panicked either. He sat with his legs dropped open, forcing the denim of his jeans to pull tight across his crotch, and looked out of the window, never jumping to find an imaginary brake pedal on the few occasions Jack swerved to avoid a runaway lorry and nearly plowed them off the edge of a cliff in the attempt.
Jack had a suspicion Clark was checking him out, though—just sometimes. He felt his skin tingle as though someone were walking over his grave. If Clark was sneaking glances at him, he was too quick for Jack. Any time Jack dared take his eyes off the road long enough to catch him in the act, Clark’s eyes were firmly fixed on the road ahead.
The time Paulo had taken going over every minute detail of the gardens meant most of the afternoon heat had gone when they reached the village. Jack parked the car where Clark suggested and killed the engine. Looking around him, listening to his own heartbeat return to normal, he couldn’t help feeling that he had stepped into a different world.
They sat on the edge of a little, whitewashed village that appeared to have been indelicately placed atop the dusty peak. The collection of houses and work places climbed ever higher up the mountain, overlooked from the top by a small, blue-roofed church and hemmed in on all sides by the farms that provided the village with its livelihood.
Jack slowly got out from the car and turned in a full circle, drinking in as much detail as he could. The village looked like it had dropped straight out of the Andalusian fantasies Jack had been entertaining since he found out his haphazard response to Clark’s advertisement had been accepted. Before the nerves had kicked in and his usually very sober sense of propriety had a chance to tell him he was probably making a mistake, Jack had allowed himself more than a few daydreams about Spanish markets, jugs of sangria, long, drunken tapas lunches and tanned, Spanish Adonises sunbathing on the beach. As much as he had enjoyed the entertainments of the previous night, the winding dirt roads had transported him to the Spain of his fantasies.
He turned to look at Clark and couldn’t keep the smile off his face. Being there with him, even though they barely knew each other, seemed to make the whole experience sweeter. Jack decided to blame that feeling on Clark’s impressive command of the language, rather than on any misplaced romantic ideas.
Spanish Heat is available now from all good Ebook retailers, including;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
You may have noticed me getting a little overexcited in recent weeks about a certain upcoming release. Well, that upcoming release has now been… Released! Funny how that works!
The Bucket List is available now. It’s a novella (MM erotic romance, as you would expect!) and the story follows Kade, a man recently dumped by his verbally abusive ex-boyfriend, Niall. Kade’s relationship with Niall has left him a shadow of his former self. He is stuck in his ways and the last thing he thinks he wants is to break his routine, let alone introduce any excitement into his life.
Kade’s friends, though, think those things are exactly what Kade needs. In a bid to break him out of his shell, they write him a bucket list. In addition to outlandish suggestions concerning going glacier-surfing and lava-chasing, the list recommends shopping in an Asian supermarket and buying a different cut of jeans.
While he has no interest at all in the list, Kade wants to keep the peace. He starts ticking off a few of the easier items, thinking he’s wasting his time when he should be working out a way of putting his life back together, but his friends forgot to mention that the list might well be responsible for shattering his world even further beyond recognition.
Kade had no idea that a trip to a supermarket, and an outlandish bucket list, could change his life.
When Kade Doherty gets dumped, he expects sympathy from his friends. Instead, he gets a bucket list. His friends want to help him enjoy life again, but Kade isn’t convinced a list of outlandish leisure pursuits will help much with that. To keep the peace he goes along with the plan and in the process, he meets Blake.
Blake’s Australian accent and surfer-boy looks are the stuff of sexual fantasies and Kade surprises everyone – including himself – when he wastes no time making a move.
Kade goes with Blake into the Scottish highlands, but just as he is beginning to get used to life with his very own Mr. Australia, reality comes knocking. Kade’s newfound happiness falls apart when his abusive ex demands they meet. Blake senses something is wrong and he wants to help, but Kade knows he can’t confide in Blake.
After all, Kade hasn’t exactly been honest. He might feel like a different man when he’s with Blake, but Kade knows he’s still just an accountant from Glasgow with slight obsessive compulsions and a bucket list that someone else wrote. He knows Blake won’t hang around, let alone help, when he finds out the truth.
Or will he?
Kade looked up at the unfamiliar facade of the building in front of him. If he hadn’t just checked his location for the third time, using both the sat-nav on his phone and the one in his car, he would have sworn he must have taken a wrong turn when he reached the unfamiliar streets of Glasgow’s East End.
Unlike the supermarket he normally frequented, this one had no branding or signage to speak of. There were no garish colors and definitely no cheesy logos. If it had an official name, the owners clearly didn’t think it was worth sharing with their customers.
The building looked like a windowless warehouse, and the car park, devoid of neatly painted grid lines and pointless shrubbery, was just a gravel-covered, pothole-ridden piece of ground hemmed in by a giant metal fence. If it hadn’t been for the steady stream of people coming and going through the single-door entrance, Kade wouldn’t have known if the shop was open or closed.
He sighed and leaned against the bonnet of his car. All he really wanted to do was get back behind the wheel and drive back to what was familiar. The temptation was almost overwhelming. It wasn’t like he hadn’t had enough changes and uncertainties to deal with recently without dragging the weekly shopping into the mix. He pulled out his phone and scrolled down until he found Ian’s number. Ian answered on the second ring.
“I’m standing outside an Asian supermarket. Are you happy now?”
“That depends,” Ian said. “Are you actually going to go inside, or are you just planning on standing in the car park, biting your bottom lip and looking at your feet?”
Kade looked up from his boots and removed the phone from his ear momentarily so he could stare at it instead. He heard Ian’s laughter through the handset.
“Fuck you very much,” Kade said under his breath when he put the phone back to his ear.
“And you. I’ll see you tonight. You know, I’m impressed. Doing two things outside of your comfort zone in one day? Hell, the council must be pumping chemicals into the water again.”
“Yeah, yeah. Very funny.” Ian was still laughing when Kade rang off and slipped his phone back into his pocket.
Ian’s jokes didn’t feel very funny to Kade at the moment, and his behavior had nothing to do with too much fluoride in the city’s water supply, as Ian well knew. Instead, it had everything to do with that stupid bloody list.
The bucket list. His bucket list. Only it wasn’t really his at all, because Kade hadn’t had any say in whether or not he wanted a bucket list, let alone what he wanted to put on it. Ian and his boyfriend, Paul, had drawn it up the morning after Kade had shown up on Ian’s doorstep, shouting and ranting and crying because Niall had left.
The Bucket List is, as I said, very much available now!