Archive for March, 2010

ARGH!

Today has been one of those days. Already. Kind of like when you wish you could rewind the first couple of hours, wake up in bed once more and start again. It doesn’t help that I’m tired. We started—and finished—the first season of Dexter very quickly, so staying up later on weeknights to watch ‘just one more’ has taken its toll. I’ve also been working on my Ellora’s edits and editing a book for my friend. I love it when books are gripping, but, like Sally Royer-Derr’s that I read the other week—or was it last week? Dunno—I tend to want to do nothing else but read that bloody book. Okay, so I did a bit of housework and the food shopping yesterday, but other than that, I’ve parked my arse at the computer and stayed there.

So, back to this crazy day. Bear in mind it’s only 9:20 a.m., and an hour ago I was ready to scream. I don’t usually get myself worked up like this, but every so often, the fates conspire against me, the angst fairy takes over my personality, and I want to flip. First, the weather is crappy—cold wind and horrible rain, so my umbrella kept flipping up, which, incidentally, bugs the hell out of me even on a good day—and it seemed we just couldn’t get out of the bloody house to do the school run. Then I realised Smallest hadn’t put on her glasses. Sod going back for them, she can have a day without, I said to my very irritated self. Then Smallest said, “Have you got the pound for non-uniform day?”

Well, we’re half way to school at this point, and quite frankly, no, I didn’t have the sodding non-school-uniform-day pound, and no, I most definitely WASN’T going back to get it. Not with the wind attacking me and my brolly, my temper at breaking point, and and and…

I dropped Smallest off, and Jennifer, one of the other mothers, very kindly lent me the pound. I left the classroom with over-zealous in-and-out breaths, with a neighbour looking at me with wide eyes because, yep, she knows that look I had on my face.

So, I was invited round for a cuppa with three other mothers, and I wasn’t sure whether to go. I mean, I have that book to read, I have more housework to do, and a couple of other excuses that would prevent me going, but d’you know what? I’m going to go round there now. It’s the last day before the Easter break, and I could do with the laugh—especially with 4 kids off school until 19th April, which will sorely test my nerves.

So I’m off. Sod the computer! Sod the things I *should* be doing. I’m going to do something I rarely do. Stop and smell the roses.

 


AWH Magazine

Once a month, AWH is published. It’s a project I do in my spare time and is open to all writers. Submission guidelines below.

Submit to: emmyellis@live.co.uk

AWH MAGAZINE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

  1.      Articles are accepted regarding a range of subjects. They can be any length. They do not have to be based on our current features. New ones are encouraged. Feature articles can be duplicated, so don’t worry if you have chosen one that someone else has also sent something in for. The only ones NOT to be subbed for are: Diary of a Reluctant Housewife, Publisher Splash, Just a Reader Reviews, Mah Jong (see point 6), and Writing Tips.
  2.  If you have more than one article for each issue, no problem.
  3. If you would like to be a constant feature, please feel free. If you’re unable to send something in for one or two issues, don’t worry. Your articles will be posted in the following issue. This is a magazine without deadlines or pressure!
  4. Short fiction can be any length, but please base your submission on the usual publishing guidelines found at all publishers—no beastiality, necrophilia etc.
  5. Anon posts are exactly that. I will never reveal who sent them in, but if you’re uncomfortable with me knowing who you are, send via a new email address.
  6. Arcane Anna will now pull one card from her Mah Jong deck for a specific person, should you request a reading. If you don’t want your name related to the article, please state this in your request email.
  7. Blog Posts: Do you have a blog post that can be used as an article? These are welcome!
  8. Character Interviews: If you’d like to send in an interview with one of your characters, fabulous!
  9. To know what to send in and how your article will look, please check out April’s issue below to get a feel for what’s being accepted.
  10. Current Features Accepting Submissions:

Excerpts

Covers and Blurbs

Writing Mothers

Musings of an Author

Author Splash

Short Fiction

Recipes

Jokes

Top Tips

Confessions of an erotica/m/m/any Author (anon confessions)

Darn That TV! (for TV addicts to talk about their fave programme)

Author Bios

Dear Editor

Delight Features: M/M, Het, Ménage Delights = Covers and Blurbs

Top Secret (anon confession)


Coming Soon!

Rob is settled in a great relationship with Stuart, but his past catches up with him in a startling way. Photographs of Stuart engaged in sexual acts arrive in the post, sending Rob into turmoil. Stuart denies cheating, so who is the man in the pictures? Rob aims to find out, discovering someone from his past has a side to him even Rob finds hard to swallow.

The two men turn into amateur detectives and soon realise they have stumbled into something far more sinister than they could have imagined.

Excerpt:

We follow down various streets, heading into the heart of Grebe. We’re talking a nasty place here, where a bloke being shanked on a street corner goes unaided by heroes. Who wants the hassle of a gang on their back should they intervene? Youths remain silent around here too—I saw and heard nuffin’, mister.

The streets are a tangle, a maze of roads that only a Grebe resident born and bred would know how to navigate. I don’t know where the fuck we’re going or how to get out if we have to go back the way we’ve come. We’ll have to rely on those two up ahead to lead us back to the outskirts where they live.

“Got a bad feeling,” Stuart says.

I can only nod; not feeling too bright myself. The brief thought of fucking off comes to mind, but a stronger force pushes me forward. Intrigue and, if I’m honest, downright nosiness makes me put one foot in front of the other in a place no one should be unless they have no choice.

The tunnel entrance looms ahead at the end of a cul-de-sac. Traffic from the main road behind it creates whooshing noises—tyres on a rain-slicked road, jetting along at speed. The houses either side of us give way to ratty scrubland, all knee-high grass growing out of an uneven, pot-holed surface. It skirts the whole of Grebe, a no-man’s-land of rough terrain the council didn’t have enough cash to fill with homes. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few dead bodies rest there, residents neither knowing nor maybe even caring whether they do. Just another day in the life of people struggling to mind their own, with perhaps a thought or two for the day they can pack up and leave—go somewhere the air isn’t tainted with the stench of death and violence.

“Shit, here we go,” Stuart mumbles, hands out of his pockets now as Dave and Muscle Man head into the tunnel unevenly lit by rectangular orange lights.

Patches of gloom hang between each illumination, and the tunnel bends halfway down, curving for about a hundred metres before the exit. That would bring us out, funnily enough, to the edges of the estate we live on. I’ve been through here once before, and let me tell you, it was enough. Just glad I was pissed at the time. It didn’t seem so sinister then, but it shit me up all the same.

Back to back, the two estates couldn’t be more different. At least on our streets we can almost guarantee help if it was needed. Folks round our way try hard to pretend Grebe and those living in it don’t exist.

We wait a minute or two at the entrance until the two round the bend. Fuck knows what we’re going to find down there, but with the mention of a gun and my suspicions about drugs, I have a damn good idea.

“You sure you want to follow?” Stuart raises an eyebrow, fists clenched at his sides, and shifts from foot to foot. The first light shines on his face, making him look the colour of a pumpkin.

“Uh, yeah. You?”

“Not really, but we’ve come this far so…”

“Right.” I breathe out and look down the tunnel. “Let’s go.”

Grit beneath our tread seems to shout our existence, the sound amplified in the confined space. I walk lightly but may as well not have bothered—a shouted “Oi, Davey!” rips through the tunnel, resounding until it dies out. A ripple of adrenaline spears my gut, filtering through my body, bringing me to a stop.

Should we go forward or back?

I glance at Stuart, who halts, arms rounded beside him, chest puffed out.

“Fuck!” He stares at the bend ahead then back to me. “Shit!”

He takes off, and I follow, heart beating like a bastard, my legs wobbly. Various scenarios flash through my mind, none of them nice, and we reach the curve and peer around it.

Dave and Muscle Man stand a short way ahead with their backs to us, legs apart, body poses those of men readying themselves for an attack. Some guy in front of them—I can only see his face between their heads—scowls, brows so low they almost obscure his eyes. His hair hangs lank and long—needs a bloody good wash—and an unkempt, scraggly beard and moustache cover the lower half of his face. The light they stand under brightens his red hair several hues.

“You got my fuckin’ money?” Redhead’s chin juts out, and the thin, tight line of his mouth disappears inside all that facial hair.

“No,” Dave says, hands clenching and unclenching beside him. “But I’ll be getting it Tuesday.”

“Tuesday. Right. And I’m meant to believe that, am I?” Red cocks his head to the side, as though listening really hard for the sound of bullshit. He sniffs. “And you got me here to tell me that.” Bland statement. “Right.” He widens his eyes and leans his head forward. “Anything else?”

Dave steps back—reckon that man’s breath must stink if his appearance is anything to go by—and slides a hand in his coat pocket. “Yeah.” He shrugs then rounds his shoulders, body jerking. “Uh, I need some stuff.”

Red throws his head back and laughs. I give Stuart a sidelong glance; he looks ahead, jaw rigid, body poised to flee, his face half in shadow.

I stare ahead again and whisper, “Get your phone out.”

In my peripheral, I see him do as I ask. He presses some buttons. Hopefully he’s got the camera ready to go.

Red takes a few paces backward, bringing into view his filthy grey coat, his hair laying over a multi-coloured scarf around his neck. “You want me,” he laughs again, “to give you some gear when you owe me ten grand? Give me a fuckin’ break!”

“I need it.” Dave eases his hand out of his pocket, snaking it behind him.

Jesus Christ, he’s got the gun.


Coming Soon… Werewolf!

The First Kill: A completely new start brings horrors that Lee could well do without. Who is killing the townsfolk? And who is sending those macabre gifts?

Lee has moved to town to start again. His last relationship turned sour, so he opens a bar and throws all his energy into it, though two men he has befriended cause him to wonder if he’s ready to take the plunge again. However, a murderer is out there, sending gifts to Lee—body parts—as a token of his love. Rumours say it’s a wild dog roaming the forest, but if that’s the case, who is sending the presents to Lee?

 

The Reporter: The town is thrown into chaos as news of the murders spread. No one is a suspect, because the police have put the killer down to being a large wild dog…

News crews descend on the town, and one reporter befriends Lee for inside information. Another corpse is discovered, and Lee wonders what ‘gift’ he’ll receive next from the warped killer. He turns to his friend, Nathan, for support, and their relationship blossoms. However, the killer isn’t happy, and one person has trampled on his last nerve…

 

The Talisman: Body parts keep arriving at Lee’s bar after every kill. How many more gifts will he receive?

After the shock of receiving yet another body part in the post, Lee gains news of the latest murder. The rumours are still rife that a large dog is killing residents, but with the arrival of werewolf hunters in town, Lee is forced to contemplate the absurdity that the killer is a man and a wolf. The head hunter gives Lee a talisman for protection, and Lee becomes the shoulder for the local policeman involved in the case, who needs to talk about his burdens.

 

The Obsession: The murders take on a new twist, and Lee continues to cope with being the recipient of macabre gifts…

Lee and Nathan’s relationship reaches a new level, but the killings continue. This time it isn’t anyone Lee knows, but news of the murder still hits him hard. He braces himself for another of the killer’s ‘gifts’. The policeman leans on Lee again, the case a difficult one for him to cope with, and they arrange an evening out to de-stress. However, the inevitable gift arrives, shaking up the small town’s residents once again.

 

The Capture: As the stress levels increase, Lee is about to discover just who and what the killer is.

Lee and the policeman meet up for their much-needed night out. On the way home, they walk past the scrubland, where one of the murders took place. Scuffling noises sound, and the policeman leaves Lee on the sidewalk to investigate. The killer’s ire is up, and his desperation at having Lee all to himself surges to the fore. When will this madness end? And will Lee come out of the ordeal with his mind intact?

 


New Release!

Off we go today with the release of book four from The Marked One series. Here’s a bit of blurbage:

Another Realm: With the task of slaying dragons ahead, Jerry and Zeb enter the realm of Vildas, a part-desert, part-earthy plane. The myth has it that The Beckoner and The Marked One survive the dragon fight, but with someone else in the realm with them… Circumstances ensure Zeb must conjure a demon for help in seeking out an invisible threat—a threat that can change destiny and end their lives.

OTHER NEWS!

At the moment I’m co-authoring with the wonderful Jaime Samms and having a great time with our book. We’ve been taking it in turns to write a chapter each. Jaime’s are in first person, and she writes the good guy. Mine are in third person, and I write the bad guy. He’s a killer, so I’m in my element there. The tale is unfolding so well, and we’re writing with no plan. I’m really happy to say it’s like we’re reading one another’s minds as to where the story will go, and I feel we’ll have a fantastic book once it’s complete.

I’ve got another thriller/suspense in mind for my next book. The kernel of a plot is in my head, and I’ll be ready to start in a few days when a little more of it has grown. I’ll be writing about a sociopath, so I’m looking forward to that!

That’s about it from me today. I’m having a day off. How exciting!


I Feel Crazy!

Ever had one of those busy couple of weeks where the to-do list is so long you could cry? That was me, my beauties, ploughing through the list and nearly weeping with joy when able to scrub something off. But yes! My list is gone! Gone, I tell you, and I feel marvellous and so full of the crazy gene that I could headbang the air and pretend I’m a drummer with my fake drumsticks. Or something equally odd.

Anyway, I have the great news that another Sarah Masters series will soon be available. Oh yes, dearies, there are a set of 5 m/m werewolf books if that takes your fancy. Lots of suspense and thrills that had my editor ripping through the edits to find out what happened. This is good to know. It means I achieved what I’d aimed for. Yee har!

I have the release dates for 3 new m/ms. Beautiful Sunset is 9th April, Grave Findings is 16th April, and Blinded is 23rd April. I turned in my manuscript for Reversed Blackmail yesterday, so that one should be coming out soon too. What a crazy ride this year has been so far, with 18 acceptances. I’ll be subbing a het novel to Ellora’s tomorrow and praying my editor likes it.

Tomorrow I’m having a day off and will probably spend the weekend either reading or compiling April’s issue of the AWH magazine. Lots of goodies going in, so I hope you’ll enjoy it.

That’s my news for the past couple of days, so I’ll leave you be and thank you kindly for reading this far. Goodnight you divine people!


More New Releases!

I have more releases to nag you about today! Yeee har!

Queen Dolly

Carmel Wickens longs for a ‘proper’ life—one with a mother who hugs and cares for her and works as a waitress or secretary. Instead, Carmel is blessed with a prostitute mother who thinks nothing of her pimp taking explicit photographs of her child.

At the age of six, Carmel commits her first murder—an ‘accident’. The young girl she kills presents herself on occasion in ghostly form, ridiculing Carmel and urging her to cause more ‘accidents’ until every person that has hurt Carmel has been killed.

The shop keeper, the old man at the end of the street, her mother, the pimp…they all feature in Carmel’s upbringing. How did she stage their deaths and get away with murder? But even with the last one dispatched to Hell, Carmel’s journey isn’t over.

She has other demons to slay.

Sam-u-hell

Samuel Harding is a sociopath. After receiving a comfortable inheritance from his monstrously abusive father, he spends his days carefully selecting young women to bring home with him—young women who will never leave alive.

When Samuel meets Bernita, a waitress in a café he frequents daily, he begins to realise she may be the fifth victim he has been seeking. He initiates the elaborate courtship ritual he has developed to determine whether the women he stalks are worthy of love, or destined for death.

Samuel recalls, through conscious thought and dreams that leave tangible evidence behind, the endless physical and sexual abuse he suffered at his father’s hands, as well as the odd behaviour of the crass, reclusive grandmother who became his primary guardian after his father’s death. As his relationship with Bernita deteriorates towards a violent end, he asks himself the simple question: Will I get away with murder?

The Gamble

Maimings, shootings, double-crossings. Subterfuge, deceit, secrets. Dare you take The Gamble?

Ronald Dolan: Gangland boss. Ruler of 1950s London. Owns public houses and holds illegal poker games. Don’t mess with him. He’ll cut your crown jewels off.

Violet Dolan: Ronald’s spinster daughter. Shirks her roots and acts prim and proper. She’s been devious in the past, and someone is out to get her.

Jonathan Pembrooke: Loses a game of poker to Ronald Dolan. Wins Violet’s hand in marriage. Falls in love with a younger woman. If Dolan finds out, Jonathan is dead.

Rose Lynchwood: An old friend of Violet’s. She’s out for revenge but hides her secrets behind a sweet façade.

Gracie Lynchwood: Rose’s daughter. Jonathan’s girlfriend—only she doesn’t know she’s his mistress.

The Brothers: Ronald Dolan’s hardmen. They’ll do anything—for a price.

Wasted

One man, a thousand devils. Can Wayne Richards cleanse his mind by kidnapping a young woman, or will his actions haunt him forever?

Wayne Richards has a theory: Is it possible to make a woman do everything she’s told? To find out, Wayne kidnaps a young woman and holds her hostage in his home. After a time, the woman grows to trust Wayne, and a warm and caring relationship develops. But things aren’t as they seem. Something isn’t quite right…

Upon realising certain truths, Wayne finds himself in a mental institute. His therapist encourages him to face his past and oust the demons from his mind. With help from the institute’s employees, it appears the young man is on the mend. Or is he?

More shocking truths hit Wayne, forcing him to face the past in an altogether different way. Given two options, Wayne must decide which path to take. Will he choose the road of goodness, or has his past tainted him so badly he takes the only road he has ever travelled? The road to Hell.

 


New Releases!

Today sees three of my books up for sale. Secret Society is about four main characters who struggle to understand society and why they are treated unfairly. There is a theme where all of them are targeted in various ways due to what they have done/do sexually. Isabella is thrown out of her home for having sex before marriage, and husband and wife, Clem and Kathryn, belong to the Secret Society, where people meet and share one another with consent. The baddie, Kleveland Stokes, longs to clean the ungodly from the village of Eustace, but he has help from a woman who isn’t quite the norm… This is a historical fantasy, so if you like your erotica with a splash of the fantastical, then you may well enjoy this book.

Predilection is a tale of a psychopath, Robert Keagan, who, as a young child, began his life of crime by torturing small animals. His home life isn’t stable, and he embarks on a quest to rid his life of anyone who slights himself or the ones he loves. He is a damaged individual who sees no wrong in his actions, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this character to see how far he was prepared to go. He went too far, but pushing the boundaries and laying a deranged human out onto the page for all to see was my mission—no holds barred. I didn’t want to be held back by unspoken ‘rules’ where I was limited in what I wrote. This tale is harsh, nasty, and as real as I dared to get it. From previous reviews, I achieved my goal and freaked out a number of readers, but also gave them a chance to think about themselves, because at one time or other, no matter how pure we like to think ourselves, we have ALL had thoughts of varying degrees like Robert Keagan—he just acts on them.

Stone Cold shows how a man can have such control over a woman that she becomes an automaton and completely pliable—until he kills her best friend. This act spurs Tessa to leave Den, but Den is a detective and vows to find her no matter what he has to do to achieve that aim. No one thwarts him, and he’ll prove it. In his mission to find her, he kills again and again, while Wade, another policeman, tries to keep Tessa safe and show her that not all men brought up in dysfunctional households turn into sociopaths. If you like thrillers and crime and warped characters, this is the book for you! Den is a complete arsehole, to put it mildly, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed writing his character and dealing with him at the end. Horrible, horrible man!

If you buy the books, I’d love to know what you thought of them—good reviews or bad!—and will thank you in advance for supporting me with your purchase. Happy reading…or not!


Excerpt Excitement!

COMING SOON!

Copyright©2010 Sarah Masters

 

 

Chapter One

Russell stared at the sky. Darkness had come on swiftly, and a thick bank of clouds obscured the moon. He still had another grave to finish digging before he could head for home. He normally used the digging machine, but what with the great oak being right at the foot of the grave, there wasn’t much room for manoeuvre. Besides, he could have fucked the machine up if he encountered a tree root. As luck would have it, there were none. He sighed, telling himself to get on and complete the job. Two funerals tomorrow, and it wouldn’t do to have one corpse denied its eternal resting hole. He stabbed his shovel blade into the pile of earth beside the grave and made for the worker’s shack on the other side of the cemetery. Trees lining the path, naked in the winter night, stretched up high, their branches sinister claws. Russell strode on, the graveyard far from creeping him out these days. The shack, nothing more than a large wooden shed, stood at the end of the path, its silhouette a hulking blackness apart from a faint light flickering through the window. George, the elderly groundsman, was still there, then.

Nice of him to give me a hand.

Russell pressed on, hands in jeans pockets, and shrunk his neck down into his scarf. The wool warmed the lower half of his face, but the biting wind made short work of chilling his cheeks.

“Damn fucking weather. And damn fucking working here.”

His breaths condensed on the inside of his scarf, and his chin itched. Annoyed, he yanked the scarf down, instantly regretting it as the cold homed in on his exposed skin. At the shack door, he pushed it open, stepping inside to toasty warmth. George sat in a battered green armchair in one corner, his feet on a mismatched footstool, the edges frayed and foam peeking out. His bushy white beard held cake crumbs, and he repositioned his flat grey cap as if he’d been napping. A three-bar fire blasted out heat, reminding Russell of rigid rows of caged snakes. He shuddered, the last remnants of the cold disappearing, and plopped down on the seat beside George, an equally battered throwback to the ‘80s with its brown woven fabric.

“All done?” George asked, hawking spit and disposing of it in a less-than-appealing handkerchief.

“No. I’m about three quarters down on the last one. Came back for a torch.”

George cleared his throat. “I’ll be off in a minute. Won’t mind finishing, will you?”

Doesn’t look like I’ve got a bloody choice.

“No. I’ll finish.” Russell stood, back aching, arms heavy, and took the large torch off the top of the small refrigerator. He moved to the door and looked back. “You’ll leave the keys under your seat cushion, right?”

George nodded. “As always, lad. See you tomorrow.”

Russell held back a sarcastic retort and opened the door, going back out into the bitter night. He switched on the torch and walked toward the gravesite. The huge oak’s trunk was so wide the tree must have been growing for a thousand years or more. Once at the grave, he placed the torch on the ground and wedged a hunk of earth beneath it so the beam shone into the hole. He lowered a small ladder into his workspace and jumped in, reaching out for the shovel sticking out of the ground above.

His mind wandered to thoughts of home as he worked on one half, digging deeper until he reached the required depth. Moving the ladder to where he’d just dug so he could climb out later, he shovelled more earth so the grave bottom was level. A microwave curry waited for him in the freezer in his one-bedroom flat, and his mouth watered at the same time his stomach rumbled. Maybe he’d wash it down with a beer or two and watch a movie.

Nothing else to do. Working here kills any chance of a social life.

Finished, he threw the shovel out on the side free of earth and prepared to adjust the ladder so it held firm with his weight.

“You’ll be needing that shovel a while longer,” a male voice said, its timbre low and menacing.

What the fuck?

A twig cracked, and the shuffle of footsteps filtered into the hole. Russell’s heart rate increased speed, and he stared up, blinded by the torchlight. He blinked, and an image of the beam flashed with each close of his eyelids.

“Who’s there?” he said, one foot on the lowest ladder rung, hands gripping the sides.

“Never you mind.”

The footsteps resumed, came closer, and a click echoed a second before the torch went off. The beam image still dancing on his retinas, Russell squinted out of the hole. A black figure stood at the narrow end nearest the oak, and he struggled to make out a face. The shape moved, picking up the shovel, and speared it into the grave. It landed beside Russell, the handle leaning toward him.

“Who are you?” Russell asked, his sight clearer now. He made out a guy in a black raincoat, the belt cinched tight at the waist. A baseball cap sat tight to his head, the brim pulled low. It appeared incongruous considering he wore what looked like dress trousers and pointy-toed leather shoes.

“Like I said, never you mind. Keep digging.”

“What? It’s deep enough. I’m done. I—”

“I said, keep digging.” The man shuffled inside his coat with a gloved hand and brought out what appeared to be a pistol. “You gonna do as you’re told?”

Russell took his foot off the ladder and reached for the shovel without taking his gaze off the man. “Looks like I haven’t got a choice.”

“That’s right, mate. You haven’t. Two more feet should do it.”

Two more feet? Shit. What the hell is he playing at? He risks a cave-in!

Russell dug, conscious of the man watching him. Sweat broke out all over his body, the fear of why he wanted him to dig churning his guts and weakening his knees. He dared not ask. The least he knew the better. Time seemed to slow, and the shovel felt like it weighed a ton, but he pushed on, wanting out of that hole. One half deeper, he moved the ladder across to the end where the gravestone would jut from the ground once the earth had settled. Head down, coaching himself to do the job and get the hell home, he continued with his task. The man remained silent, though the click of what was surely his finger snapping the gun trigger back and forth cracked open the quiet.

“Hurry up,” the man said.

Russell hefted the shovel out and let it drop to the ground. He stepped up the ladder, careful to keep his gaze down. Beside the grave now, he pulled the ladder out and bent down for his torch and shovel.

“You’d do well not to switch that light on.” The man sniffed. “Take your things back to the shed and fuck off. You didn’t see me, didn’t do any extra digging, and you won’t tell anyone I was here. If you do, I’ll know.”

Heart thumping, appetite gone, Russell walked with his head down, heading for the shack. He itched to look back, but the man’s warning wasn’t something he could ignore. No, he’d fuck off like he’d been told and forget tonight ever happened.

 


Reviews: To Sting or not to Sting, That is the Question!

Been thinking this morning—no, don’t soil your pants, I do think sometimes—about being a writer. No one tells you at the start, at least no one told me, about how potentially heartbreaking it could be if you let it. Of course, twelve years ago, with no access to the internet and the vast amount of support groups for authors, I knew no one else who wrote or understood why I do it. Now I do, and with that came the realisation that writers knowingly leave themselves wide open for ridicule. We write what’s in our hearts and minds and hope people enjoy it. When they don’t and write a scathing review, a writer could go one of two ways. Stop writing, beat themselves up for being so crap—or whatever the reviewer said they were—and go into a funk, or take the comments on board, digest them, agree and/or disagree, and move on.

My first bad review (a book in my real name) made me feel guilty. The lady had clearly wasted her time, was angry that my book hadn’t lived up to what she’d expected (was that my fault she had her expectations too high? Something to ponder), and hated, from what she’d said, every second of it. I felt sorry for her losing those precious moments of her time, but did wonder, if the book was so awful, why she continued to read. I didn’t get angry, but sat here with a red face, wondering if I should write to her and apologise for tainting her life. I didn’t. I put the review on my then website along with all the others; after all, a review is a review.

Now, I’m a soft-hearted person, one where people who know me would possibly think bad reviews would hurt me and make me cry. Uh, no. I put things in perspective. There are far worse things that have been said to me, have happened to me, that make bad reviews just a tiny, barely felt prick on the skin of an unlanced boil. A quick, sharp burst of words, that are, after all is said and done, one person’s opinion.

I had what my friends would call a ‘snarky’ review recently, and although I briefly wondered if I had done something to personally upset the reviewer (I don’t see how when I don’t know her or frequent writer groups anymore), I didn’t think much beyond taking her criticism and seeing how I could better my writing in future. I’ll admit she never said anything bad about the writing, but the plot/plot devices, and character’s actions. Her words helped. I had a second review of another book by the same site, and this person didn’t like that book either. Bit of a shame, but what can you do? Sell ‘You Will Like My Book!’ pills with every copy? Give out hypnotherapy CDs that the reviewer must listen to before they begin my books? Come on, it’s just an opinion, and again, I took what she said, filed it in my mind, and applied it to future books. I didn’t ask for those reviews either; they did them out of the kindness of their hearts.

So, if you can take negative feedback and gain something good from it, you’re onto a winning formula. Those bad reviews don’t hurt, because you’re too busy looking for how to fix the problems they encountered to be worrying about the snark. Besides, if snark gets reviewers through their day, good for them! Who knows what kind of life they lead? They may need snark as their outlet as a means to continue each day. See, there’s always a bigger picture, always a reason for everything, and I like to put myself on the outside looking in on most situations so I can clearly see how to fix issues.

I feel for authors who take things to heart. Reviewers aren’t getting at them personally—or at least they shouldn’t be, and if they are, that’s their problem if they like living a life of forever griping at people (Christ, can you imagine the wrinkles from frowning all the time?)—they are reading a book and telling us what they thought of it because that is their right.

I don’t send my books out for review anymore, haven’t done for a very long time. Either people like my work or they don’t. If I get sent links to any reviews, of course, I’ll read them to see if there’s anything I can learn, but as for the bits that are designed to upset…meh. There are far more important things that could cause me worry than a few words written by someone who doesn’t know me.

I wish my books had a label on them: Reviewers, if you’re going to review this with intent to wound and cause intentional upset, don’t bother. Sarah Masters, Charley Oweson, and ****** ****** don’t give a shit (said with a smile and sigh at having to write this bit in brackets so people don’t take it the wrong way or think I’m angry. I couldn’t be further from that emotion with regards to this subject).

I find the things I have endured in my life far more scary than someone’s opinion of what I’ve written. But if you do review my books and genuinely don’t like them, say so—and why. Please. If I see them (and that isn’t always the case because I don’t go looking for them), you’ll be doing me a favour by helping me learn from my mistakes.


Trying to Blog Regularly

Okay, I know I need to blog regularly, but I haven’t kept an everyday blog for years. I got out of the habit, but now I feel I should maybe get back into the swing of things. The problem is, who the bloody hell wants to hear what I’ve got to say? I can’t imagine my insane ramblings will be of any interest, but I’ll write them all the same and hope that some bugger reads them.

So, if you are reading this, hello, nice to ‘meet’ you, and I hope I don’t bore you stupid while you’re here.

Now, where to start? I could guff on about myself, I suppose… Here goes. I used to be an editor and cover artist as well as an author. I gave it up to write full-time, and since then have found I’m much more content. I only have my own books and edits to worry about.

This week sees me busy on edits and reading final arcs. Serves myself right for subbing so many books all at the same time. I write under three names, and at the moment I’m dealing with edits on all three of them. Ah, it’s so cool, though. Years ago I wondered what it would be like to be in the position I’m in now (arse firmly in chair, keyboard never far away) and I can say I’m happy as a pig in shit, so the saying goes.

The Marked One series (m/m) has been released (book 3 came out last week), and Friday sees Secret Society (het) on the e-book shelves. Grave Findings and Beautiful Sunset (both m/m) are due out very soon, as are Reverse Blackmail (m/m–and I need to finish it pretty sharpish too!), and six of my Charley Oweson novels. I have three Charley final arcs to read through this week and I want to try and finish Reverse, but my mind has switched to another het novel I’ve been writing. My beta reader sent it back with some ace suggestions, which will make the book about 10K longer, and I’m halfway there after writing this afternoon. That book is destined for Ellora’s, and I can only pray my rather brilliant editor likes it.

Christ, anyone got any vodka? A stiff one would do me nicely. DRINK! I meant drink!

Now, if I could work out what the hell an RSS feed is so I could link my website blog to Goodreads, I’ll be a happy bunny, but so far I’m stumped.

Gawd, I seriously need to get a grip. I’m slowly losing my mind!

That’s all from me at the moment, folks. I’m off before I start rocking in my chair. See you soon!