Got home to an email telling me that the UK-themed Dreamspinner anthology “Not quite Shakespeare” is now available for pre-order from their site. I’ve got a short in the anthology, all about baking bread and what it can lead to. :-) The book is available on both dead trees and live electrons, and will be released on 2 June. I’m assuming that it will eventually show up on the third party distributors as well, but here are the purchase links for the Dreamspinner shop:
Nice Tie is now available from Loose Id, and you can find the opening scenes on their website at http://www.loose-id.com/nice-tie.html#product_tabs_Excert
It’s not on the third party sites yet — it will show up on the Amazons etc eventually, but it’s been so long since I had a novel released that I don’t know what the timescale is these days.
More after I get home from the day job.
Nice Tie is currently scheduled for release in next week’s batch of new books from Loose Id. This is subject to the usual caveats about problems in getting the formatted ebook files onto a working server, but you should be able to get your hands on the book on Tuesday. Herewith the blurb and buy link — excerpt to follow as soon as the approved excerpt is available.
Alex Hall likes watching good-looking men doing up good-looking ties, a kink he can safely indulge on his morning commute as long as he’s discreet. At least until the day he meets new client Robin Wood, whose face seems oddly familiar. Embarrassingly familiar, when Robin recognizes him as “that guy on the bus.”
Lusting after the client and his tie is a really bad idea. Acting on it would be even worse. Which doesn’t stop Alex’s impulsive suggestion when he realizes that Robin’s as intrigued as he is awkward. They’re both grown-ups, they can handle the conflict of interest, and if nothing else it will get the awkwardness out of the way. And there’s a cheap hotel at the end of their bus route.
Just one date. One night for Alex to enjoy watching beautiful hands managing a tie with style. One night for Robin with a man who can understand his own grooming kink, even if it’s not quite the same as Alex’s. One night, and then just good friends, while they’re working together. Nobody else’s business.
But Robin has entirely too much experience with romance at work, and the past isn’t staying past.
20) Alexander McCall — In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
Sixth in the series about the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. The usual collection of small and large puzzles for the ladies to solve, and two new characters for the series. Mma Ramotswe knocks a gentleman off his bike, and thereby gains a new staff member for the joint premises of the detective agency and the garage. Mma Makutsi joins a dance class and thus acquires a new friend. As ever with this series, gentle humour and believable domestic mysteries make this a pleasure to read.
21) Sayers — The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (audiobook)
Superb BBC full cast dramatisation, with Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter. If you’re a Sayers fan, this radio dramatisation is well worth getting.
22) Georgette Heyer — Venetia
One of Heyer’s Regencies. There are several excellent reviews on LibraryThing, so I will merely say that I adored it.
23) Gladys Mitchell — The Twenty-third man
Another outing for the inestimable Mrs Bradley, this time on holiday to the Canary Islands, and a cave with a somewhat erratic number of mummies of ancient Kings. As usual for this series, enjoyable murder mystery with a fair bit of macabre humour.
24) Mark Coker — Secrets to ebook publishing
The head of self-publishing company SmashWords offers some useful advice on self-publishing via ebooks. While it’s slanted to using SmashWords, it’s wider-ranging than that. It’s free to download, and the contents are useful and well-written. Available from SmashWords, obviously, but also on Amazon and presumably other platforms.
25) Edward Marston — The Merry Devils
Second in Marston’s mystery series set in an Elizabethan theatre troupe. Enjoyable read.
14) Oscar Wilde — The Picture of Dorian Grey
Lots of reviews and critiques out there already, so I’ll simply say that I liked it.
15) Gladys Mitchell — Watson’s Choice
28th Mrs Bradley mystery. Mrs Bradley is invited to a weekend country house party thrown to celebrate the Sherlock Holmes anniversary. Naturally, someone provides a real life mystery, complete with a real live Hound of the Baskervilles. The plot wanders a bit, but it’s still a lot of fun if you’re a Holmes fan. I suspect that it will be less fun if you’re not, as the book is stuffed with Holmes references and jokes.
16) Mary Stewart — Stormy Petrel
Romantic suspense set on a remote Scottish Island. the story’s fairly simple, and the appeal is in watching the interplay of the characters, and the evocative descriptions of the island and its way of life. It has mixed reviews, and I can see why; but I liked it a lot.
17) EM Forster — Where Angels Fear To Tread
There are plenty of other reviews, so I will only note that I liked part of the novel, but it didn’t quite gel for me even though I like this sort of social satire. I don’t regret the time spent reading it but am not inclined to re-read. It’s out of copyright in some countries, and thus available on public domain sites.
18) Agatha Christie — Death on the Nile (audiobook)
Abridged audiobook on 3 CDs, read by David Timson. Heiress steals friend’s fiancee, friend starts blatantly stalking, even unto the honeymoon cruise on the Nile. Heiress is found murdered, and as the husband points out, the ex-friend has an obvious motive. The one problem is that she couldn’t possibly have done it. Nor could any of the other people the heiress has provided with motives. The abridged audiobook has been well edited for the plot, but does by necessity skimp on the character development and social observation. There’s also an unabridged audio edition, read by David Suchet, which I’ve not yet listened to.
19) T Baggins — Fifteen Shades of Gay (for Pay)
Contemporary m/m romance, and yes, the title’s riffing off That Book. What it isn’t is a rip-off of That Book. It’s a thoughtful and well-written look at men coming to terms with their sexuality, seen through the eyes of a young actor who takes on male escort work to pay for his sister’s chemotherapy, even though he’s straight. The blurb for the book tells you all you need to know about the plot, and there’s little point in rehashing it. It’s a plot that has the potential to be very cliched, but Baggins shows what a skilled writer can do with the concept, and the book is a joy to read.
It’s an m/m romance, so of course the POV character isn’t straight after all. But this isn’t a gay-for-you story. There’s a solidly laid foundation for a character who is in deep denial about his bisexuality, and has good reason to be that way. It’s Andrew’s story, so we see his character grow and change the most; but there are also good portrayals of men who aren’t in denial to themselves, but are closeted to their family and have different ways of coping with that. Perhaps it edges over into fairytale territory with how quickly Andrew comes to accept having gay sex without accepting that he’s bi, but the story’s good enough to carry it.
Be warned that it has the potential to be triggery for readers who’ve had to deal with cancer. Baggins doesn’t dwell on the reality of living with cancer in a loved one, but doesn’t gloss over it either — the one that got me was the comment about neighbours who insist on showing their neighbourliness by just popping in to see how you are even though they’re not well themselves, and infectious. But with that one caveat, thoroughly recommended.
Email this morning to say that Nice Tie has been accepted by Loose Id, subject to the usual tweaks. :-) So the rest of my free time this week is going to be taken up with reading the fine print on contract paperwork, as I’ve out of circulation for so long that all of the paperwork is different now.
I’ve been experimenting with self-publishing some of my old short stories that have gone out of print. After much angst, I’ve managed to upload “One Size Fits All” to Smashwords, and am awaiting the results from feeding it into the maw of Amazon.
This one’s priced at 99c, but I have also been playing with the coupon code generator on Smashwords. Plug the code RE95K into the appropriate place (ooh er, missus) before Monday, and get 100% off. And all I ask in return is for some feedback on whether the file actually works in your viewing device of choice…
You can find the book at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376309
Blurb: Hugh’s everything that Gavin could ask for in a lover. Everything, apart from his taste in underwear. Nothing wrong with the underwear, you understand, but that’s the problem. It’s boring. So Gavin decides to have a rummage through Hugh’s underwear, just in case there’s anything more interesting tucked away. And what he finds is so interesting that he tries it out for size…
m/m erotic romance, very mild kink, 3000 words.
It’s the return of the book log! Not a particularly detailed book log, since it’s a long time since February… But here are such thoughts as I can remember about what I read way back then.
5) Gladys Mitchell — Tom Brown’s Body
Another mystery for Mrs Bradley to solve. This one involves the murder of a junior master at a boy’s school. Mr Conway was unpopular with both boys and teachers alike, for a variety of reasons. A lot of fun, with some sharp social observation. It was first published in 1949, which has some bearing on one of the minor plot threads. One of the boys is Jewish, and subject to anti-Semitic bullying. He does engage in some stereotypical behaviour, but Mitchell, through her lead character, observes that the behaviour is in response to the bullying and not the other way around. I get the impression from this and other books that Mitchell had a low opinion of racists.
6) Fiona Glass — Gleams of a remoter World
LGBT paranormal mystery, where the mystery is long in the past, and the investigator is a ghost hunter. There’s a romance sub-plot, but the emphasis here is on the mystery. I can’t write a sensible review of this one because I’ve left it so long, but I stayed up far too late to finish it, and it will be no hardship to read it again at some point in order to review it properly. You can find the blurb and the first chapter on the book’s page at at the publisher’s website.
7) Dick Francis – Under Orders
Another entertaining thriller set in the world of horse racing. This one features jockey turned private detective Sid Halley, pursuing leads in the murky world of online betting.
8) Mary Stewart — Thornyhold
Romantic suspense novel from Mary Stewart, published in 1988, but set in the 1940s and 1950s. Young Geillis, known as Jilly has had a quietly miserable childhood, followed by leaving university early to look after her newly widowed father. Her future as a jobless spinster with no savings and no inheritance to speak of might have been bleak after his death, save for her older cousin and namesake leaving her Thornyhold — Cousin Geillis’s woodland cottage.
Jilly finds that her cousin has left her enough money to live on if she’s careful, together with all of Thornyhold’s contents. Those contents include the still room — and Cousin Geillis’s reputation as a witch. There is nothing but good in that reputation, but Jilly is still drawn into strange occurrences, some of which have an obvious rational explanation but which still leave her unsettled.
She’s even more unsettled when she meets a handsome neighbour — and then life becomes very odd indeed…
Highly enjoyable period romantic suspense, with well-drawn characters and just a touch of magic left even when the explanations are done. Definitely one I’ll enjoy re-reading.
9) Agatha Christie — The Secret Adversary
First of the Tommy and Tuppence books. It’s shortly after the end of the Great War, and a pair of bright young things are finding peacetime both rather boring and rather financially restrictive. They decide to advertise themselves as “The young Adventurers”, in the hope of finding a job. There follow many adventures in pursuit of a missing document, served with a large helping of fun and an even larger helping of red herrings. The politics are somewhat eyebrow-raising, but a reflection of the time when the book was written. I didn’t find this as appealing as the Marple and Poirot stories, but it was a pleasant enough way to spend a few hours. It’s still in print, but also now out of copyright in some countries and thus available on various public domain sites.
I wandered into Alex Woolfson’s sf webcomic site Yaoi 911 while he was still posting Artifice, and was hooked. The ad I clicked said “smart guy-on-guy sci-fi”, and that’s exactly what I got.
Artifice, now complete, is a solid story about an android soldier who didn’t obey orders, and is now being interrogated by the company’s top robopsychologist to find out why. There follows a battle of wits as Doctor Maven tries to uncover why Deacon, last survivor of an assassination squad, not only failed to kill the last survivor of the colony his unit was sent to dispose of, but attacked the retrieval team sent in to fetch him. Excellent writing by Woolfson teamed with nice art by Winona Nelson, and it skilfully blends a thoughtful look at the use and abuse of androids with a delightful gay romance.
The Young Protectors, currently in progress, is a superheroes comic. Although some of the superheroes we run into aren’t so heroic… In the prologue, young superhero Kyle has just finished a quick visit to a place he doesn’t really want to be found by the rest of the team, when he encounters supervillain The Annihilator. The Annihilator’s price for not telling the world that he just saw Kyle go into a gay bar for the first time is… a kiss. :-) Kyle goes back to ordinary after-class superheroing in the first chapter, but life rapidly gets more complicated for him. At forty-something pages in, there’s a lot of intriguing backstory and long-term plot being hinted at, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Also, some acidly entertaining commentary about the amount of collateral damage around superheroes. Woolfson’s excellent script is pencilled by Adam DeKraker and coloured by Veronica Gandini. I have no idea where Woolfson’s planning to take this, but if you like your superhero comics with some May/December superhero/supervillain in the mix, take a look at this.
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