publishing

New Release: The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert is, well, live!

I’m really excited to be bringing you the third instalment of the For the Love of Christmas! series: The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert! I hope you enjoy revisiting Jake and Dan, and I can’t wait to see what you think of Mikaal, Declan and Hiro.

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To celebrate the launch, I’ve got an excerpt for you. Guitarist Declan has strict rules about not mixing music and relationships. Front man Mikaal knows this—but the knowledge does nothing to stop his growing attraction to Declan. When an unexpected concert booking brings Mikaal’s chronic stage fright to the fore, his resolve is tested.


The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert (For the Love of Christmas! #3)

Mikaal Sarhadi has been in trouble since the moment he met guitarist Declan Hyde. Declan treats music like religion, setting high standards for himself and his bandmates. Mikaal struggles to even step on stage. He will do anything to justify Declan’s belief in him—even if that means ignoring the powerful attraction between them.

After a chance meeting with Brandon, Declan’s estranged brother, reveals just how much Declan will sacrifice for his music, Mikaal wonders if he can even call himself a musician. Worse, drummer Hiro’s visa application has been denied. With time running out for The Charity Shop Rejects, Mikaal must conquer his stage fright or lose music—and Declan—entirely.

Ninestar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo | Goodreads

(more…)

Countdown: 2 days to go!

Three books, three days… I’m sure it comes as no surprise that day two of my countdown is all about Ibiza on Ice, book two of the For the Love of Christmas! series—now only 0.99 US!

Confession time: I have a really big soft spot for Ibiza on Ice. Sure Aston, the main character, isn’t exactly going to win person of the year in any competition—he’s not even going to make the nomination list. He broke up with his boyfriend, Dan over Dan’s hideous Christmas sweater, and for most of Ibiza on Ice,  is trying desperately to prove to Dan and the world that he made the right decision.

So, yeah. Aston, not a great guy.

But there’s always two sides to every story. As a kid whose parents went through a bitter divorce, I learned this really quickly. Even today, with several decades of happiness with new partners between them and the divorce, they both have two very different versions of events. And while they both believe they’re telling the truth, their truths are incompatible with each others. And I don’t think that means one of them is lying, or that their memories are faulty. I think there is more than one truth.

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Take Aston and Dan.

Dan wore the sweater knowing Aston’s reaction would be bad. He had an inkling it would be relationship ending bad—but he went ahead with it, giving Aston the ultimatum, ‘it’s me and the sweater—or not at all.’ Aston responded the way most people do when given an ultimatum. He stuck in his heels—one of Aston’s better traits is his tenacity. He didn’t expect Dan to be serious about his sweater, because Aston could never have feelings that strong for a tacky jumper. So when Dan not only left, but found a new boyfriend, Aston was left scrambling. That’s not a nice place to be, so if Aston lashed out, can you really blame him? Break-ups suck, no matter which side of them you’re on.

The second thing is that if Dan and Aston were meant to be, no amount of ugly sweaters could have prevented them from living happily ever after. That the sweater was enough to precipitate a break up says a lot about their relationship. Aston appreciated Dan’s good looks and healthy lifestyle, Dan respected Aston’s dedication to his fitness regime. They had a mutual interest in health and working out, but is that enough to base a relationship on?

As it turns out, no. And not only are they both better off out of the relationship, but they’re got the potential for happiness that they could never find together—and I think that’s a good thing. Not all relationships work out. Recognising that something isn’t working and moving on is a lot healthier than trying to make a round peg fit in a square hole.

The final clue that the break up was a good thing is the effect Laaksonen has on Aston. From the moment they meet, he’s challenging Aston’s assumptions about what he wants and what he believes. Being around Laaksonen pushes Aston, forcing him to question, and finally grow and change—and I will be the first to admit that Aston has a hell of a lot of growing to do.

But he’s like one of my naughty kids when I taught English in Japan. No matter how disruptive they were in class, or what fresh hi-jinks they’d come up with during the school breaks, you couldn’t help but love them. Aston’s my naughty kid.


Ibiza on Ice.

Tired of being ridiculed as the man dumped in favour of an ugly Christmas sweater, Aston is determined to get revenge–by having his dream vacation at Ibiza’s hottest clubs! He’s even planned a social media campaign to make sure his ex, Dan, knows exactly what he’s missing.

When a snowstorm strikes, and Aston’s media campaign takes off before he does, he finds himself propositioned by his unwelcome roommate Mike: trade vacations, or Mike will out Aston as a fake. Desperate to save his reputation, Aston finds himself in Finland–and falling hard for a man with a sweater almost as terrible as Dan’s. Worse, Laaksonen cares as little about impressing people as Aston cares about being nice. Aston knows he has too much self-respect to fall for a man so hazardous to his reputation. But the long Polar Night poses the ultimate test to his Ibiza club dreams…

Purchase:

Ninestar | Amazon  | Smashwords | Kobo

more than I should

Countdown! 3 Days until the Charity Shop Rejects are Live!

First off, if anyone saw ‘3 days’ and had a moment of panic thinking it was December 22nd, I am really sorry. That is exactly the sort of thing I would do, and I hope that your heart isn’t racing too badly.

Instead, it is three days until my 2017 seasonal story, The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert is released! It’s available for pre-order on Amazon or the NineStar Press website. You can even add it on Goodreads.

With three days left until the Charity Shop Rejects release, and three books in the For the Love of Christmas! series, I thought I would kick off the countdown by featuring The Ugliest Sweater, the first book in the series. At roughly 15,000 words it is the shortest story I’ve ever published, and is cute without being saccharine. In the words of one Goodreads reviewer, The Ugliest Sweater is ‘sweet, cute and a little nuts… just like I like ’em.’ Best of all, it is only 0.99 USD, meaning that it’s a great reward for getting caught up on your gift shopping, finally remembering to drop past the post office with your cards, or if you’re me, finally mowing the lawn.

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It’s also National Ugly Christmas Sweater day (according to Queer Romance Ink anyway), so really, you kind of have to buy it. And then wear it while wearing your own ugly sweater, creating ugly seasonal clothing quorum and—okay, I’ll stop.

The Ugliest Sweater is the story of Dan, an otherwise down-to-earth fitness instructor who has a deep affinity with a Christmas sweater so hideous he’s been dumped three times for wearing it. Jake is a radio DJ with a reputation for cool and a guilty Christmas secret that could destroy his career. I’m still not sure whether this is a story of opposites attract or ugly sweaters attract, but it is a quick, fun read with some laughs, some sex, and a lot of Christmas tack.

One of the biggest complaints about the Ugliest Sweater is that it was too short, and we didn’t get enough time with Jake and Dan. I think the length is right for the story it is, but one of my favourite things about The Charity Shop Rejects, was the chance to revisit Jake and Dan. We get to see how their relationship is progressing a year down the track, which was a lot of fun for me the writer, and I hope fans of Ugliest will enjoy it, too.


The Ugliest Sweater

Dan’s favourite festive sweater is so ugly, it’s cost him not one but three boyfriends and sent him back to his parents’ place for the third Christmas in a row. About to give up hope of ever having a Christmas date, Dan meets Jake, a hot guy with a rock and roll edge. Jake is infatuated with Dan’s sweater but vanishes before Dan can decide if Jake is for real or really in need of an eye-check. After all, no one has ever liked the sweater.

Dan’s sweater is rocketed to national attention, when Jake’s radio colleagues launch a hunt for the mystery man in the hideous jumper. Dan jumps at the chance to meet Jake again, and they hit it off in a big way, to the accompaniment of intimate gigs, exclusive clubs, and the paparazzi. Dan falls hard, but despite obvious mutual attraction, Jake refuses to take him back to his apartment. Is the relationship real – or a ratings stunt? After all, Jake has a reputation for cool that Dan, a lowly gym instructor, could never approach. Is a fondness for tacky Christmas clothing the only thing they have in common? Or does uber-cool Jake hide a Christmas secret of his own?

Purchase links:

Ninestar  |Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo

Cover Reveal: The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert

On this day next week, The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert will be released! I’m really looking forward to sharing it. We get to revisit Jake and Dan, as well as spending time with The Charity Shop Rejects, who, by performing in ugly sweaters, are men after my own heart.

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The cover doesn’t really convey what this story is about. It’s beautiful—I don’t think Ninestar’s cover artist Natasha Snow has made a cover that wasn’t—and does a good job of suggesting seasonal without being overtly about Christmas or one of the other holidays represented by the NineStar Holiday Story Collection. The problem is that when you have a collection of stories that are as different as the NSP Holiday Collection (seriously, we have stories revolving around Christmas tree ornaments to stories revolving around dragons), it’s really hard to come up with something that can really capture all of them.

So how to properly convey the train wreck that is The Charity Shop Rejects? It’s a tough one. A really, really, really tough one. I don’t know if there’s even—

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Okay, nevermind.

The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert.

Mikaal Sarhadi has been in trouble since the moment he met guitarist Declan Hyde. Declan treats music like religion, setting high standards for himself and his bandmates. Mikaal struggles to even step on stage. He will do anything to justify Declan’s belief in him—even if that means ignoring the powerful attraction between them.

After a chance meeting with Brandon, Declan’s estranged brother, reveals just how much Declan will sacrifice for his music, Mikaal wonders if he can even call himself a musician. Worse, drummer Hiro’s visa application has been denied. With time running out for The Charity Shop Rejects, Mikaal must conquer his stage fright or lose music—and Declan—entirely.

Preorder from NineStar Press or Amazon (coming to other vendors from December 18th).

The Biggest Scoop in French!

While in Rotorua, I got a Facebook alert that three people I didn’t know were talking about me. Now, I’m not Facebook famous, so three people talking about me all on the same day was pretty unusual. I wondered what was going on, and voila—I found out.

As scoops go, this was pretty grand. Plus grand, in fact.

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Confused? The Biggest Scoop is coming out in French October 25th!

I wrote The Biggest Scoop for the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads 2015 Don’t Read in the Closet event. The prompt was submitted by Josephine. It was my first YA, and it was incredibly fun to write. One of those stories where the characters (Milo) just take over the story (Milo), going places you never really expected them to go.

When I wrote it, I was still teaching in Japan, and when I reread it recently, I was surprised how nostalgic it made me for my students and my classrooms. My students constantly surprised me with their inventiveness and sheer enthusiasm for life, and I wanted The Biggest Scoop to reflect that.

Then, early 2016, totally out of the blue, I got an e-mail from MxM Bookmark. They are a French publishing house specialising in positive LGBTQ-romance, and they were interested in The Biggest Scoop. I was tremendously flattered, but given that The Biggest Scoop was produced with the help of volunteers from the M/M Romance group, I didn’t feel it was appropriate to sell it. We worked out a compromise. Once the production costs have been covered, all profits from The Biggest Scoop—or I should say, Le Plus Grand de Tous les Scoops—will be donated to a charity supporting homeless LGBTQ teens.

I could not be happier about this (also my grandma is totally impressed).

If you missed it the first time round, The Biggest Scoop is available for free along with an incredible range of stories from the official M/M Romance DRITC site. Here is the original cover (by cover artist extraordinaire Bree Archer) and the blurb:

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The Biggest Story Milo’s ever found is one he can’t tell.

Everything is going wrong for Milo Markopoulos. The future of the school newsletter is in jeopardy, he doesn’t have a single friend among his junior classmates, and his film script has just been rejected again. Worse, he has only one day to find a story that will satisfy newspaper editor, Candice. Enter transfer student, Taylor. Good looking, responsible, and possessed of a mysterious something that has him turning heads on his first day of school, Taylor is the story Milo is looking for — too bad Taylor has plans for a quiet high school experience.

Despite their many differences of opinion, Milo finds himself developing a close journalistic relationship with the future class president. But Taylor’s success might put an end to their burgeoning friendship. What will happen when Taylor is no longer Milo’s story? How far will Milo go to save the newspaper?

Written for the 2015 DRitC event hosted by the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads, The Biggest Scoop is a YA story that focuses on the development of the main characters. Sweetly romantic, the story is freely available in a variety of formats from  the M/M Romance Group.

The Wing Commander’s Curse is out!

After a false start (proof-read my e-mail before sending, somehow still missed that I’d forgotten to attach the book I was sending the e-mail about), The Wing Commander’s Curse has been released to subscribers of my mailing list. It feels really good to have completed a project started in May to help raise funds and awareness for LGBT Chechens.

Even better, I heard from Kathleen, the auction winner whose request resulted in The Wing Commander’s Curse, to let me know she enjoyed it. That’s really made me happy. I realised while listening to the authors speaking at the Marlborough Book Festival this past weekend that before writer or author or novelist, I identify as a story-teller, which to me implies a connection between the story-teller and the person the story is being told to, and started with me telling stories to my younger sister. That I’m able to successfully tell a story to someone I’ve never met in real life always feels like a prize to me. Thank you for that, Kathleen! And for the story request that resulted in Mallory, Jonah, and the world they inhabit.

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The Wing Commander’s Curse

An unbreakable curse.
England overrun by monsters.
Two men locked in a losing battle.

England, 1915.

Jonah Valliant longs for active service, but is stuck making coffee for the local officers. A year ago, the world erupted into magical chaos. No one knows why Britain is overrun by fearsome worms, magical creatures whose gaze turns men to stone, or how to stop them. When Jonah loses his temper with Wing Commander Mallory, he has no idea that picking a quarrel with the wizard may lead to Britain’s salvation–or its destruction.

Augustus Mallory carries more than the weight of the war effort on his shoulders. He’s the last of the Mallory wizards, feared for their power, arrogance and the dark family curse. He knows losing his heart to Jonah endangers everything Mallory cares about—but Jonah may possess the key to defeating the worms once and for all. His only hope: staving off his doom long enough to learn the secret behind the Quickening.

To read The Wing Commander’s Curse for free, sign up to my mailing list. Thanks!

Cover Reveal: The Wing Commander’s Curse

If you’ve been following the progress of my Readers and Writers for LGBT Chechens Auction Winner’s Story, great news! The first draft is completed, polished, and currently with my editor and beta-readers. I anticipate sharing it with you all before the end of the month.

And it gets better. How much better you ask? Well, check this out.

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Yes, we have an absolutely gorgeous cover, and a new title!

I realise this would be more of a surprise if, you know, this post wasn’t titled ‘Cover Reveal: The Wing Commander’s Curse’ but look at it! Look at it!

An unbreakable curse.
England overrun by monsters.
Two men locked in a losing battle.

England, 1915.

Jonah Valliant longs for active service, but is stuck making coffee for the local officers. A year ago, the world errupted into magical chaos. No one knows why Britain is overrun by fearsome worms, magical creatures whose gaze turns men to stone, or how to stop them. When Jonah loses his temper with Wing Commander Mallory, he has no idea that picking a quarrel with the wizard may lead to Britain’s salvation–or its destruction.

Augustus Mallory carries more than the weight of the war effort on his shoulders. He’s the last of the Mallory wizards, feared for their power, arrogance and the dark family curse. He knows losing his heart to Jonah endangers everything Mallory cares about—but Jonah may possess the key to defeating the worms once and for all. His only hope: staving off his doom long enough to learn the secret behind the Quickening.


While the auction is over, there are still ways to help LGBT Chechens. Dale Lowry has a list of ways you can take action on his website here (scroll down to the list ‘Other Ways to Help’).