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.


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

Actual transcript of actual conversation that took place this morning between me and roommate:

Me: I have great news!

Roommate: What?

M: Thorns and Fangs is coming out in print August 10th!

R: That’s great! [Beat.] That’s–

M: The day I arrive back in New Zealand.

R: That’s terrible news! How are I going to make you sign my book if you’re not here?

June has been a month of personal highs and global lows. Part of me feels very selfish for writing at all with so much going on but I’m realizing how much I need an escape in times of stress. As my time in Japan draws to a close, I am going to be making an effort to spend less time on social media, more time getting things done, whether preparing for the move, writing–or reading.

I decided June was going to be an all-writing month, and that I wasn’t going to read. It didn’t speed up my writing process any. In fact, I ended up getting stuck at all the usual points in the drafting process, and ended up reading anyway. Each time I read, I noticed an increase in enthusiasm and creativity. Of course, I was reading during times when I needed to pause and allow the next part of the plot to solidify, so I can’t simply credit reading for the writing boost … but it wasn’t taking away from my writing time like I’d assumed. Anyway, The Junk Mage has been burning a hole in my virtual bookshelf long enough–I’m going to treat myself and start reading.

In the meantime, I am really happy with how Uprooted is progressing! I’m going to share an excerpt under the cut: Ben spending some quality time with Nate’s brother, the elusive Ethan.


June Goals, AotM & Pinterest Preview.

It’s the first blog post of the new month! Obviously an ideal time to share my plans for June and reflect on the business that was May. But before I get started on all that fun stuff, I have something I have to get off my chest:

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 7.41.28 PM

That. See that? That is my book on the front page of the M/M Romance Group! I’m one of their 5 authors of the month (not pictured in the above screencap is Ally Blue, and I have to say that her Bay City Paranormal Investigations series sounds very cool, and I intend to check them out once I am allowed to read again–more on that later)! I won’t lie, I am ridiculously pleased. This was an awesome, totally unexpected surprise.

Another totally awesome surprise?

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 5.24.15 PM

This screencap was taken from Morgen Curse‘s Amazon page yesterday! ( yesterday at time of me writing this post anyway). For a hot second, Morgen Curse was 57 in a category on Amazon! How cool is that?

… apologies. We authors get way, way too excited about things like that. Anyway, now that I’ve peeled myself away from my kdp dashboard, writing plans!

May Goals!

  • continue to update blog twice weekly-DONE
  • publish Mystery Project aka. Deep Magic sequel-VERY DONE
  • new outline for Uprooted-DONE
  • work on Uprooted-DONE but could do better
  • Read more M/M romance – DONE but could read more
  • stay focused by reading writing blogs and books on craft.- Kind of Done

May was very productive! Despite school throwing extra hours at me, I managed to get all of my list done. However, this came at a price! I’ve had a non-stop cold since Friday the 13th (ironic, right) that has already seen me go to the doctor twice, and may necessitate a third trip. Yeah, I’m not impressed either. With that in mind, and also because I know I have problems focusing on reading when I’m writing, I’m going to make things easier for myself in the month of June.

For a start, I’m not going to be doing any guest author interviews for June! I love doing them, and I’m always encouraged and inspired by the conversations I have with my fellow M/M authors, but I think I need to take care of myself. I’ve also got a couple of guest appearances in the works, and will continue update the blog with updates from my June project. And speaking of …

June Goals!

  • Get back into the habit of writing everyday.
  • Get at least 50% through the draft of Uprooted.

… Uprooted? What might that be? Well, here’s a pinterest board to give you an idea. And if that’s not enough, here’s a teaser from what I wrote today:


Morgen Curse: Cover Reveal!

Deep Magic and Morgen Curse might be part of a series that deals with witches, curses and now a sorcerer, but I think the real magic worker might be cover artist, Bree Archer, who has once again worked her magic and made me the perfect cover.


I don’t know what to say, besides look at it–look at it! I could not be happier. Thank you, Bree!

In other news, I am working on getting chapter one ready to send out as a sample to members of my mailing list next week! If you are not already signed up, now is a good time. I am also preparing a dramatic reading and an interview with me, so if you have any requests or questions please leave me a comment!

Writing, Identity, Cats and an Amazing Moustache — Elliot Cooper Cover Reveal and Interview!

Today’s interview is a blog first — an interview and cover reveal with Elliot Cooper! I’ve got to know Elliot a little over Facebook, but this may be many readers’ first introduction to Elliot. I’m excited to learn more, not just about Elliot, but about his book and to see the cover that has him so excited. Welcome, Elliot! I’m really happy to be hosting you today.

Elliot: Thank you for having me for my first ever author interview!

I know Elliot primarily as a fellow member of the NineStar Press Author group on Facebook, where we’ve talked about writing, and our interest in paranormal and sci-fi in particular. Preparing for this interview, however, I learned more about Elliot the person and was excited to realise we have more in common than sharing the same (awesome) editor at NineStar. Elliot, please introduce yourself!

Elliot: This is the hard part lol!

Here’s the basic stuff. I’m a pop culture geek in his early 30s, a cat person, internet and caffeine addicted, and still learning how to harness creative peaks to focus creative energies for more than a month at a time. Also I’ve been married for a decade and have one kiddo.

Recently I’ve read about how sad it is that we define ourselves by what we do, not who we are. What I “do” is work at a grocery store while dealing with my family’s wildly disparate schedules and trying not to think about anything relating to finances. Who I am has a lot more to do with being a lover and creator of stories. Granted, that’s not all of me, but it’s the wildly beating heart.

The Clockwork Menagerie sounds like a lot of fun! Amazing title, a sweet steampunk romance and clockwork animals … What is not to like? Tell us about your story, please!

Elliot: Thank you! 😀

I originally wrote it for a steampunk anthology call three years ago where it (obviously) didn’t make the cut. I’d always wanted to write a story where a cat was the catalyst (lol puns) for a romance. Throw in steampunk elements and style, a down-on-his-luck artist who’d rather flounder than ask for a leg up, a man who has no idea how to communicate with his crush, and…there’s the recipe for the story. The cat who plays such an important role, Ophelia, is a mechanical one created by Clement.

I am a big fan of cats, mechanical or otherwise! But what turned The Clockwork Menagerie from ‘want to read’ to ‘must read’ for me was what you shared about the personal inspiration behind it. Would you mind sharing that story?

Elliot: Sure! I was somewhat inspired by my own real-life romance with my husband. I think one of the big themes of The Clockwork Menagerie is to not give up on love (or, in the case of the story, don’t give up when you care about someone and think there’s strong potential for love). When I came out to my husband as a transsexual man (shortly before I wrote Menagerie), it really tested us in regards to what sort of relationship we would have following my pursuit of transition, but romantic love won out. And it’s still winning for us 🙂

I am saying this a lot this interview but both Clement and Duke sound fun — I cannot wait to meet them properly when I read this story! Clement especially as a struggling artist is someone I think will resonate with a lot of readers. Did your own experiences and struggles as a writer play into his creation?

Elliot: Absolutely! I remember telling one of my critique partners about using my own experiences as a creator to help imbue Clement with depth. All of my characters have some part of my own personality or experience in them, some more so than others, and Clement definitely got the creative drive and a lot of the issues that follow it.

The Clockwork Menagerie had a three year journey to publication. Firstly, well done on not giving up on the story! It must feel fantastic to have found a publishing home for it at last. Was it difficult to come back to the story after a long time, or had you been revising it over the years? How has your perspective on the story changed in that time?

Elliot: A stack of physical copies butchered (lovingly) by my crit group sat inside a bag in my spare room for the better part of two years. When I decided I did want to start getting serious about writing again, I figured it was high time I go back over those critiques. Having let the story sit for so long, it was a lot easier to pick out which bits of criticism to put into effect and which bits to ignore. Having emotional distance was a big help, since getting rough feedback on a draft can cause a real knee-jerk reaction.

Back when I’d first got the critiques I had the knee-jerk thing going on and thought “oh no, this is crap unless I turn it into a full length novel!” But that wasn’t the story that suited Clement and Duke. It would’ve involved a lot of contrived elements that felt forced to me, which made it easier to put the manuscript aside.

Going back to the critiques first, then rereading the story with new eyes reminded me how much I loved the characters and their little tale. It only needed a few tweaks after all to feel complete 🙂

And now — the main event! Elliot, I know that you are very, very pleased with your cover so I’m going to turn announcing the cover over to you!

Elliot: I’d need at least five memes and an assortment of emoticons to really express how much I’ve flailed excitedly about this cover! Aria did an amazing job capturing Duke as I pictured him and a steampunk feel that suits the story. There are so many little details like the gear schematics, the rose window that evokes a particular scene, and Duke’s signature mustache! Plus, I’m a sucker for grunge layering on spec fic covers.


It must be incredibly satisfying to see a story you’ve worked on so long finally coming together — congratulations, Elliot! I’m really excited for you. But this is not your first story or even your first experience with publishing! Please tell us about your writing journey and your previous releases.

Elliot: Thanks! 

Using a retired pseudonym, my first forays into publication were primarily via short stories in ezines. The genres ranged from paranormal to horror, with no romance in sight. Then I had my first book — a sci-fi romance novella about space pirates — published with Dreamspinner Press, though it’s been out of print for a few years now.

Ultimately, my issues with depression and anxiety (mostly tied to my struggles with my gender identity) put me in a very non-creative place until I pushed forward with helping myself. It ended up being a good break, I think, since I’d be uncomfortable publishing going forward under a feminine moniker and it gave me time to reevaluate and rediscover my love of writing.

Recently, I’ve begun dabbling in self-publishing, under the name Xander Blythe, with a planned series of erotic shorts about a gay werewolf pack. The first is currently available for Kindle on Amazon: Stray Pup – A Pack Mentality Story. It’s interesting to handle the process on my own. And there’s definitely a steep learning curve, but it’s more of a fun side project than anything serious right now.

You’ve also got some other exciting projects in the works, right? I am particularly curious about Junk Mage — what can you tell us about that story? And are you working on anything else at the moment?

Elliot: Junk Mage is another sweet m/m romance, this time between a technomancer and a cyborg who meet while stuck on a far flung planet. It’s got a healthy dose of humor and action, too! It will be released in the coming months from Ninestar Press as well 🙂

On submission, I have a high fantasy erotic romance novel that centers around a bisexual man in a poly relationship, plus royal intrigue and orcs. And on the non-romance side of things, a horror short about zombies in the workplace.

My current works-in-progress include a sci-fi MMF menage, an m/m urban fantasy featuring a necromancer and a zombie, and a paranormal m/m involving a demon and incubus in an enemies-to-lovers plot. I’ve also been enjoying the planning/worldbuilding stage of a series that I’m collaborating on with a friend.

You mentioned that a cat plays a pivotal role in The Clockwork Menagerie and that you yourself are a cat person. I am going to assume that you have or have had cats at some point, so I am curious … How much of Clement’s mechanical cat is inspired by real life cats you have known?

Elliot: All of her lol! Ophelia’s mannerisms are most heavily inspired by one of my childhood cats in particular, Bridgette, who was a sweet-natured, talkative Balinese mix.

I currently have two kitties in residence. Padme is the queen of the house, one of the most intelligent cats I’ve ever known, and genuinely loves belly rubs. Gaius is my little shadow who must be in the same room with me. He’s terrified of everything, but never fails to yell at us when it’s time to eat. Both are accomplished at tricking one of us adults into serving them second breakfast while the other is at work or asleep. They may be part hobbit.

The Clockwork Menagerie is not your first story — is it your first steampunk story? If so, what were the challenges of writing in this genre? What do your stories, regardless of genre, have in common?

Elliot: This was my second steampunk story. The first was a flash piece titled Gear Heart that I had published on my website for years, but because it has a sad ending I’ve taken it down for the time being to avoid any confusion with Menagerie and its setting.

I think my biggest challenge for Menagerie was utilizing enough of the genre’s hallmarks while putting my own take on things. After that, I tried my best to ensure the way automatons fit into the culture made sense.

With regards to elements my stories share, I have a penchant for writing about people who experience a physical transformation. Werewolves and zombies are my favorites. I didn’t even catch my own trope until a friend pointed it out while critiquing my fantasy novel! But given The Clockwork Menagerie and Junk Mage don’t share that commonality, I’d have to go with characters learning self acceptance of some sort. Which is just as tied to my own lived experience as physical transformation.

This is where we say goodbye to Elliot — for now! I will be talking to Elliot again in May once The Clockwork Menagerie is out and I’ve been able to read it. If you have questions for Elliot, now is the time to ask them and I will include them in the interview! Until then, what is the best way for readers to keep up with you, Elliot?

Elliot: Thanks again for having me, Gillian!

You can find (and follow!) me at:

website | twitter | Facebook


The Clockwork Menagerie 


Autostheclockworkmenageriemith Clement Dyer wants to create his life-like, mechanical animals in peace. He’s tired of being badgered about selling his business to his long-time rival and former lover, Duke Goodwin. He also craves appreciation for his living works of art.

Unfortunately, not all of Clement’s clients see his clockwork creations the way he does, and a prominent but dissatisfied customer threatens to sink his struggling business into the ground.

Elliot Cooper


Elliot Cooper is a creativity addict who prefers writing stories that embody adventure, a hint of the taboo, and shadows that are deeper than they appear at first glance. All the better if romantic or erotic elements are key.

Elliot also enjoys video games and knitting, and lives in the southern US with his human and feline family.

April Goals! (and sneaky sneak-peak of new story)

This month’s stock take is coming a little later than usual, but you’ll have to forgive me — tonsillitis wasn’t on my schedule! Today is the first day since March 28th that I’ve had a temperature that was approaching normal. I am functioning and happy, but still suffering an energy deficit … Just as well I had most of the week off!

Before I get into my April goals, let’s look back at March. It was a busy month. To be honest, I was not entirely sure I would survive it, what with the WWOOFing, the room-mate moving in, the staff changes at my workplace … Actually, while intense March ended up going quite well! I’m going to be talking specifics in future blog posts, so look forward to that!


From Hells … to Hospitals. March was an intense month!

March Goals:

– getting March and April blogs posts done in advance! Mostly done! I left for my farm adventure with only a few minor tweaks. While the tonsillitis knocked me back, I have ideas for April’s blog, and some exciting interviews on the horizon.
– reading more M/M romance. Read two M/M books thanks to interviewees for the blog! I am enjoying this, but need to do better.
– reread Thorns and Fangs. Done!
– new Uprooted (Thorns and Fangs 2) outline. Done!
– continue experiments with dictation and write up blog post. Done! Would have liked to do more, but considering that from the 19th I had very little time or space to myself, think I did okay.

I also started an unexpected writing project.

April Goals!

– continue to update blog biweekly.
– Finish mystery project.
– Start mystery project editing process.
– Submit mystery project cover request.
– Work on Uprooted.
– Read more M/M Romance.


And onto the sneaky excerpt! This is the second piece I’ve shared of ~mystery project~ and there have been a handful of name changes since then, and probably many other changes before I’m done with this story.

“I was not born when the humans cast us from the land,” Ieuan said, brushing his hair back from his face. “I do not remember to grieve what we lost. But you do.” He peered at the murky shadow that obscured the Cursed One’s face. “You have no reason to save this man.”

“No.” The word was almost a sigh. “None whatsoever.” There was a glint of bone white as the Cursed One smiled, and Ieuan was uneasily reminded that he was alone in a predator’s lair. “And yet …” The Cursed One spoke briskly. “The storm was sudden and unusual. It roared with powerful fury. I made up my mind to see it for myself. I was there when the boat smashed against the rock and I delighted in the wreck! I searched the surf for any survivors, thinking to drag them down into the deep, feel for myself the moment of his death. But when I saw him—” The Cursed One faltered, his voice growing uncertain. “His arm was broken, and there was no hope of rescue. Yet he clung to the wreckage of his boat like a man who very much wanted to live.” The water stirred as the Cursed One drew his hair around him, gathering it into a single rope.

What is so remarkable about that? Ieuan opened his mouth, but he caught a glimpse of the Cursed One’s face, the part of it that remained.

The right eye was downturned beneath delicate lashes, the fine brow creased as the Cursed One continued. “It is long … so long since I have felt any interest in living that I have forgotten what it feels like to want to live,” he said slowly. “Since I lack it myself, I wish to preserve it in him. I cannot kill him.” He looked up, his undamaged eye meeting Ieuan squarely. “Do you understand, Ieuan? The man must live.”

Ieuan swallowed. The weight he felt had nothing to do with their depth in the water. “What would you have me do?”

The Cursed One breathed out, releasing his rope of hair. “There is water. Fresh water — in a container of metal I took from his boat. Help him to drink.”

Ieuan nodded. “That should not be difficult.”

“Talk to him gently so that he does not agitate himself,” the Cursed One continued. “If you succeed, he may eat. I have placed what supplies I could recover within reach. If he will speak to you, ask him the extent of his injuries.”

“Injuries?” Ieuan looked to the surface above them. The man was not visible but remembering how still he lay and how slight his movements, he felt a moment’s pity. It is likely the Cursed One is wasting his time! The man will surely die.

The arm is the worst that I saw, but it is possible that he has other injuries. If he responds well, have him tell you who his friends are and how they will seek him.”

“Friends?” Ieuan tilted his head.

“Men have learned — as they should have centuries ago — to fear the sea,” the Cursed One said wryly. “He will not have ventured out alone in a vessel without telling someone of his plans. There will be someone searching—”

A pebble slid down the slope above them, speeding a scattering of loose stone before it.

“He is stirring!” Ieuan started towards the surface.

The Cursed One snatched him back by his ankle. “Ieuan, what do you know of man?”

“I know enough.” Ieuan freed himself easily.

The Cursed One followed him towards the surface. “We morgen came here in secret to live apart from man. The people of these waters are entirely ignorant of us, and we must keep it so. Ieuan, he must think you a man.”

It never changed! Whether it was the Cursed One, Howel or even Ieuan’s mothers, everyone thought they could tell him what to do! Ieuan kicked, slicing cleanly towards the surface. “But that is simplicity itself!” Men were just like morgen after all, except they drowned.

“Ieuan, I am serious—”

Ieuan broke the surface.

Behind the Scenes: My Daily Writing Process.

Today’s post is a little different. I am talking about my current writing process and giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the sequel to Thorns and Fangs.

I actually finished the draft of The Dead Living, the sequel to Thorns and Fangs, in October last year. It had taken over a year to write and given me a lot of trouble (difficult second book indeed!), so I was really pleased to have it finally finished. But when I got it back from my super-helpful beta-readers, I realised I still had a lot of work to do.

Actually it was a lot more than that. Eager to get to the new characters and plot of the dead living, I’d skipped a lot of the development of Ben and Nate’s relationship. I’d left clues to what happened and I knew in my head exactly what that was. But I didn’t stated it explicitly, because part of the fun of reading is piecing things together for yourself, right? And then it struck me. Just like I’d done in Thorns and Fangs., I was writing a romance as if it was a mystery.

[slow clap]

Finally, after an email conversation with Kaje, I realised that in my eagerness to get to The Dead Living, I might have skipped a book. The plot of book 3 (which I am tentatively calling Uprooted), made more sense coming between Thorns and Fangs and The Dead Living. And so many people had expressed an interest in what happened between the two books, that I realised I had to show it.

So my goal for February became to write Uprooted.

It was tough going. My confidence had been knocked and I was frustrated that I was still making the same mistakes I made when I wrote Thorns and Fangs. So I decided to experiment. I went back to writing by hand. I bought myself a new notebook in which to write (I am a stationary addict. Nothing makes me happier than our new notebook, and Japan has no shortage of cute notebooks!), and got to work. On my first day of writing I only managed 300 words. I was fighting what a good friend describes as ‘jerk-brain’ — the suspicion that you’re wasting your time, that everything I wrote was awful. But I kept at it and by the end of the first week I was hitting 3000 words a day. Even more exciting, the story was starting to come together.

At the same time, I discovered Monica Leonelle. She’s a fiction author who also writes non-fiction, describing how she maximises her writing process. She talked about dictation. It seemed like a fun way to vary my writing (going back to writing by hand in a notebook was a great way to shake off my writing blues, get myself into a better headspace). I experimented with the built in dictation on my laptop and when I got good results with that, decided to take a risk and invested an actual dictation software and mic (fun fact — I am using those now!). I’m still getting the hang of using dictation to its fullest extent, but I think that speaking the text freed me from worrying too much about it. And worrying has been the biggest hindrance to my writing of this book. Speaking the text gives me less time to think, more time to intuit the story. It’s led to some neat discovery moments.

Actually, this whole writing experience of Uprooted has led to some neat discoveries. I have discovered that even when I feel insecure about writing, I can still make progress on a story. I have learned how to combine a loose scene outline and dictation and that I can write to discover how to fill in the holes in my plot outline (next step: figuring out how to fill in the blanks in my plot outline as a plot outline level). I’ve also got a writing partner, keeping me on track as I go which is awesome. Maybe the best thing I’ve discovered is that productivity begets productivity! Over December and January, not only was I not writing, but I had a dearth of writing ideas. While working on Uprooted, I’ve come up with a premise for a mystery series and figured out the heart of the fourth Thorns and Fangs story.

So while I fluctuate between feeling happy with my progress and being daunted by the amount of work still in front of me (the downside to writing to discover the answers to plot problems means that you’re left with a lot of fixing to do at the end), I am also proving to myself that I am growing as a writer. When I encounter a problem I don’t give up and set the draft away to work on when I feel like it. I persevere. And as a result, I’m learning more about writing as a process.

All going well, this time next week I will be sharing with you a preview of Uprooted.

Thorns and Fangs: Ben

Exciting news — Thorns and Fangs is already available for preorder from NineStar Press! There is an excerpt up on the site, along with more information about the novel.

As you might have guessed, today’s blog post is an introduction to Ben. Nate’s first impression of Ben is not positive — ‘The only interesting thing about him was his mouth, too wide for his thin face, which registered his abrupt discomfiture.’ This is, unfortunately for Ben, a recurring theme! The youngest and newest member of Saltaire’s vampire colony, Ben lacks Hunter looks and charisma and Saltaire’s sheer force of will. He’s slight with a quiet, self-contained personality. Because of this, he’s considered the weakest link in the vampire colony, a prime target for a necromancer out for revenge.

thornsandfangsThere’s much more to Ben than meets the eye. His strict self-control holds in check considerable determination and a passionate nature. The glimpse Nate gets of Ben’s concealed emotions is enough to keep him pursuing Ben, even despite the ever-increasing threats in their way. Ben resists — and for good reason. In order to preserve his self in the night world, Ben must preserve his distance. It’s his safeguard against the necromancer’s attacks, the influence of his fellow vampires and his own inner monster. But Ben’s self-control comes at a cost. Nate believes that by starving himself of the contact he craves, Ben is setting himself up for failure. Ben knows that Nate is dangerous, that he can shatter all Ben’s carefully honed defences, but is as unable to forget Nate as Nate is him.

To introduce Ben, I’ve chosen a moment where Nate finds himself confronted with the reality of Ben’s world.


There were three of them, a bearded man and two women with knotted hair and clawlike nails. Their ragged clothing was torn and bloodstained, and their movements were strangely jerky, as if the impulse to move came from outside and not their own movements. They made no sound at all, but they spread out as one to circle the tree.

Their mouths were too hungry, always working. They bared their teeth, licked their lips, and snarled, always creeping closer. The nearest woman smiled, but the invitation of her lips became immediately undone by the sharp edges of the teeth she revealed.

“Stay against the oak,” Ben said. “Remember they can’t cross the circle.”

Nate glanced down. The three revenants stood just before the line drawn by the salt. “It’s working?”

“Be confident in your work,” Ben squeezed Nate’s hand again. “It’s powered by your belief.”

Unbelievably, Nate—the normal one of the family—had done magic. Who knows what else I can do?

The woman stayed where she was, but her companions prowled the edge of the circle. They shot dark looks at Ben, hissing as they did. Occasionally, they made short darts toward them but always stopped at the edge of the circle.

“What are they doing?”

“Probing the circle for weak points,” Ben said. “Failing that, they’re trying to trick you into stepping out of it.”

Nate took his eyes off the staring woman to glance at him. “That a fact?”

“You forget.” Ben looked at the male revenant with a strange expression. “I’ve had practice.”

No amount of practice is going to stop Ben pitying these things. Nate took a deep breath and tried to imagine them as Ben saw them. Not monsters, but as victims of supernatural attack. His gaze followed the dark stains on the woman’s chest to the bloodied patch on the man’s back. Days ago, they’d been ordinary people. And now…

If possible, that was even more terrifying.

“How do you do it?” His voice sounded more abrupt than Nate wanted, and he pressed on, hoping that Ben wouldn’t notice. “Stay so calm, I mean.”

Ben turned a measured gaze on him. “You’ll laugh.”

“Try me.”

“I used to read a lot of comics, loved action movies, TV shows.” Ben took a deep breath, leaning against the tree. “Whenever I was in a situation like this, I imagined a voice-over narrating it for the viewer who’d just tuned in. Break down the threat, go over the stakes, round it off with a throwaway line—somehow, it made things more manageable.”

“I knew it! You’re a closet geek.”

“You asked.” Ben’s shoulders hunched. “Anyway, it’s not like I do that now.”

“You don’t?”

“Used to it.”

The thought gave Nate chills. Ben turning into Saltaire or Hunter—or worse, the creatures circling them with predatory interest—gave him chills in a way the revenants did not.

“See what I mean? Focus.”

“I got this.” The conversation had taken the edge off the circling revenants. They were still there, but a degree removed. “You know, back at the mansion, I felt like I was channeling Attenborough. Undercover, observing the vampires in their natural environment.”

Ben looked at him sharply.

“Not saying you’re anything like these monsters!” Nate waved a hand toward the revenants and then snatched it back hastily. The three creatures had immediately honed in on him.

“You were right the first time.” Ben turned away once more, back toward Nate. “Vampires aren’t anything to be happy about.” He paused. After a long moment, he added in a much quieter tone, “My friends don’t know what happened to me. As far as they know, I just vanished.”

“You’re serious?” Ben had cut himself off from any contact?

“I tell my family I see my friends occasionally, but since they don’t know what I am, I can’t invite them to the house.” Ben’s mouth flickered cynically. “With the lengths Hunter went to arranging the party, I hate to think what he’d do if he knew.”

“I can picture it now. Vampiric playdates. Truly terrifying.”

Thorns and Fangs: Nate

Today I’m introducing Nate, the main character of Thorns and Fangs, the first book in my paranormal romance series coming out in January.

Nate, host at an exclusive night club, prides himself on being ordinary. In New Camden, monster capital of the world, normal is an achievement. An unashamed hedonist, Nate likes feeling good, but he likes making others feel good even better.

thornsandfangsHis comfortable existence is threatened when Hunter seeks him out at Century, drawing Nate into the Night World inhabited by vampires and necromancers, neither of whom think twice about using their abilities to their advantage. Nate’s quickly over his head in a world he barely understands, but he can’t turn away. As Nate struggles to retain his comfortable world view he has to fight the realisation that he is not as normal as he wants to believe. Comfortable is no longer enough.

Nate’s greatest strength is his ability to empathise, even with emotionally challenged vampires. Unsurprisingly, this gets him into a world of trouble. I’ve chosen an excerpt that introduces Nate’s inability to make smart decisions.


A drink and a set on the dance floor later, Nate leaned back against the bar. Endorphins and alcohol mingled in his system in the best possible way. It was early enough that there were plenty of energetic partners on the floor and late enough that inhibitions were thoroughly lowered. This is the best idea I’ve had in days…

So why can’t I make myself believe it? Nate replaced his glass on the bar. Time he faced the facts. The problem wasn’t Denise. It wasn’t Aki. It wasn’t even vampires.

The problem is me.

The chill was just as surprising the second time, like someone placed an icy hand on his shoulder. Nate took a deep breath, squaring his shoulders before he turned. Last person I want to see right now is Hunter.

Ben’s blue-gray eyes were a shock. He stood at the edge of the dance floor. His eyes widened as Nate looked up, but his surprise was momentary. As Nate watched, Ben subtly adjusted his posture. Shoulders back, hands tucked in the pocket of his jacket, he could have been a club regular.

With a smirk, Nate sauntered across the floor to join him. He kept his eyes on Ben, noting with amusement the brief flicker of his tongue across his lips. Out of his element, but like hell is he gonna admit that. Nate slowed his pace. He could match Ben’s control any night.

“No one takes getting caught staring gracefully,” he said. “But I got to admit, that’s the closest attempt I’ve seen.”

Ben raised an eyebrow. “You’re that sure I was staring.”

“Gonna tell me you’re here to dance?” Nate let his gaze fall deliberately to Ben’s clothing. The casual T-shirt and jacket combination looked better on him than the stiff suit from the anniversary party but still overdressed for the dance floor. “I might call your bluff. And then where would you be?”

Ben’s mouth twitched. “Presumably on the dance floor.”

The mental image was immediate. Ben’s cool skin would contrast with the heat of the surrounding dancers, making every brush of their bodies in the pulsing light an electric shock. Unable to resist, Nate let his fingers rest on Ben’s arm, feeling the familiar thrill of contact. “Fun as that would be”—Nate tugged at Ben’s jacket sleeve—”you’ll suffocate in this. Far too hot.”

Ben blinked. Something indefinable flickered in his eyes, and his mouth twisted.

Fuck. Vampires don’t do temperatures! Nate squeezed his arm in apology. “Sorry,” he said as he withdrew his hand. “Wasn’t thinking. So, if you’re not here to dance, why are you here?” Like I don’t know. Nate had no desire to see Hunter, but given the way the two vampires felt about each other, he knew he couldn’t be far away. Better accept it. Only pleasure I’m getting tonight is vicarious.

In any other circumstance, that would be a fate worse than death. Knowing how deeply Ben felt his isolation from the world? You’d have to be a complete asshole to resent the guy getting a taste of happiness. The memory of Ben’s expression as he looked up at Hunter returned to Nate, and with it, the same tug at his insides. I want someone to look at me like thatbut Ben needs it. If Nate had facilitated the two vampires getting together? Job well done. He scanned the club for Hunter.

“I’m not—” Ben hesitated. “Looking for company.”

Nate snorted. Anyone else, that level of straitlaced unease would be irritating. Ben made it endearing. “I know. This isn’t exactly your scene.” And then as Ben blinked, expression growing fixed, Nate frowned. “You’re here alone?”

Ben’s fingers tightened on Nate’s arm. “You’re making a lot of assumptions,” he said, “for people who’ve just met.”

Nate shrugged. “You forget. We had one hell of an introduction.”

Ben didn’t share Nate’s smile. “You remember?”

“Of course. I meet a lot of people on this job, but a client like you stands out, Ben.”

How had Nate imagined Ben soft? His grip hurt. “I told you to forget.”

“You can’t tell someone to for—” Nate swallowed. His throat felt uncomfortably tight. “You compelled me?”

“We need to talk.” Ben kept his grip on Nate’s arm tight as he glanced around the club. “Somewhere private.”

Reveal Reveal!

No, the title isn’t a typo. This isn’t just a cover reveal — this is a story reveal, too! The Ugliest Sweater is a tale of tragic Christmas clothing choices coming soon from NineStar Press.


Dan’s favourite Christmas sweater is so hideous it has cost him not one but three boyfriends. Dan looks set to spend another holiday season single, until a chance encounter over a pumpkin spiced latte introduces him to Jake, whose rock star cool is entirely at odds with the interest he shows in Dan’s sweater. Suddenly Dan’s sweater is the subject of national attention as Jake’s radio station seeks to set him up with the ‘guy in the terrible sweater.’ Thrilled to reunite with Jake, Dan starts to have doubts. Is Jake interested in him or is this a publicity stunt? Is there any hope for a guy with a fondness for tacky festive jumpers?

The Ugliest Sweater has been an incredible amount of fun. Writing a short story posed challenges, but I have been working hard with Raevyn, my editor at NineStar Press, and I am really pleased with the story we’ve produced. Aria’s cover is amazing — I think it really captures the distinct personality a beloved item of clothing can take on. All in all, I could not be more pumped to introduce my story to you all.