Saturday, 25 August 2012

Fool's Oath Reviews and Excerpt


A rush of over-confidence on Xavi's part and his friend dies bloodily. Xavi is forced to face the reality of his own nature and the depth of his relationship with Andreas. And then there's the gold hidden in the walled-up crypt of the church...

*****


Excerpt

Xavi toweled himself dry and strolled into the bedroom. A glance at the clock on the night-table told him it was late in the morning. He’d slept solidly for nearly twenty-four hours and now he felt good. Energy fizzed in his blood, tingled on his skin, and everything around him was sharp and crystal clear. The doctors’ initial prognosis of a couple of days or a week of discomfort had turned out to be a hell of a lot more but finally, for the first time in what seemed forever, Xavi knew himself to be back to his usual form – one hundred percent back.

In retrospect, the finer details of the last two months were hazy, caught in a miasma of soaring fevers, delirium, and muscle spasms that felt as if his body were trying to tear itself apart. He had a vague recollection of being questioned by the investigating judge and giving evidence at a hearing, but there was another, more important point of reference that stood out.

Andreas. He had been a constant, both in the Hematological Alteration Research Center at the Santa Maria Hospital, and lately in this small split-level house that climbed a steep hillside not far from the hospital. Andreas had kept the nightmares at bay. Andreas had soothed and massaged his knotted muscles. Andreas’s strength had held him safe through the physical and mental torture that wracked him as the mutation worked its way through his body. Andreas seemed to have been on a period of extended leave because Xavi could not recall a time when he’d been alone in the house.

But he did remember something of those days and nights when the seizures had left him shaking with exhaustion. All he’d wanted was the silent comfort of being held, and it was given unstintingly. Something warm unfurled in him, something he did not have a name for as yet, but whatever it was, it unsettled him and he did not want to examine it too closely. Instead, he opened the wardrobe door and studied himself in the full-length mirror on the back of it.

He’d lost some weight, he noted. Not that he’d had much to spare in the first place. And his muscle-tone needed attention. He’d always kept himself pretty fit. His body was, after all, his stock in trade, so he’d be back to the gym as soon as he could make it. He was also paler than he liked, and Xavi scowled at his reflection. He’d already decided he’d have to start working on his tan as well. No way was he going to end up lily-white. It wasn’t profitable.

But all in all, he was in good shape, and while that pallor was the only potentially long-term negative aspect as far as Xavi was concerned, it should be easily – if uncomfortably – remedied. A couple of days ago, an amused Doctor Cortes had finally admitted that, yes, there was a possibility he could regain and maintain his previous tan, but it would take some unpleasant sessions under a sun-lamp to do it. Xavi was prepared to suffer some pain if he got his color back and kept it.

His eyes, too, had lightened from hazel to gold-flecked topaz.

Then there were his teeth. He’d half-expected to sprout fangs overnight but it hadn’t happened. The growth of the sharp incisors and extended canines had taken the same two months to adapt as the rest of his body, adding the misery of aching jaws and bleeding gums as new teeth formed and grew, pushing out his original ones. He ran his tongue-tip over smooth enamel, testing the keenness of the cutting edge. His frown became a grin.

Xavier Peres Escudero was a vampire.

Still grinning, Xavi stretched his arms above his head, watching the easy flow of his muscles. Gold moved at his throat: a simple curb chain, unadorned. Xavi had worn fancier, far more expensive jewelry, yet this one chain implied far more than anything he’d ever had.

So did this place. Not a safe house supplied by the Police Department, but a fully furnished rental that Andreas had found in the hilly outskirts of the city. It also had the added bonus of being within easy reach of the vampire-experts at Santa Maria. Xavi had explored it properly for the first time yesterday morning before going back to bed for the rest of the day and night. The street door opened straight into the large kitchen, and off to the side was a sheltered patio between it and the next house. On the floor above was the living room and their bedroom, and both had wide glass doors onto a terrace that provided views of Barcelona and the countryside. It had been constructed partly on the hillside to take advantage of a couple of scrawny shade-trees, and partly over the kitchen roof. On the next level up was a second bedroom with a deep balcony. All told it was a neat white-painted clambering kind of house capped by terracotta roof-tiles, a house that Xavi was beginning to associate with settled comfort.

But nothing lasts forever.

*****

FINDERS, KEEPERS - RELEASED TODAY!



Coming off a high-pressure undercover job for his company's covert Retrievals Department, despite being on the edge of burnout, Jeff is thrown straight into another mission, to trap illegal metal detectorists who'll be planting a priceless reliquary in a field.

To be in the right place at the right time, Jeff seduces Alan, son of the farmer who may or may not be in on the million dollar scam. Should be straightforward, easy, and it is. Until Jeff finds himself falling for Alan. But Alan is trying to shake off an obsessive ex-lover, and doesn't want commitment, just their no strings, friends with benefits relationship. Events have a way of changing minds.

~~~ * ~~~

Chapter One

The harsh sounds etched into Jeff's brain like acid, and it wasn't until the tinny backbeat registered that he managed to comprehend the torture was perpetrated by his cell phone. And it was the Indiana Jones theme, which meant Nate wanted him. Jeff swore, realized he was cursing in Russian, and swore again. In English. He'd been debriefed and given a full medical in Moscow, of course, but that didn't mean Borya Ivanovich was out of his thought processes.
"Fuck," he croaked, flailing his hand in the general direction of the night table. "Fuckfuckfuck…" It could only be bad news, like the cancellation of his well-earned and long-overdue vacation. He'd walked off the plane from Moscow only ten hours ago and had proceeded to wash Russia and vodka out of his system with good old American bourbon, so he was not inclined to be reasonable.
More by luck than judgment, Jeff located his phone and pressed the key. "Nyet," he croaked. It would have been a snarl if his hangover had permitted it. "Shit. No. Fuck off."
"Sorry, kid." Nate sounded weary, and Jeff acknowledged a faint twinge of sympathy. His handler was no spring chicken, and it had been a rough assignment for both of them. But Jeff hardened his heart.
"No." He cut the connection, shoved the phone under the mattress, pulled the pillow over his head, and tried to get back to sleep. It didn't work. Even muffled by fabric and whatever else went into constructing a mattress, Indiana Jones assaulted his senses again. Jeff whimpered and surrendered, fished out the cell and fumbled for the correct key. "What?" he demanded. "I love you like family, Nate, but I swear I'm going to break every bone in your body if this is a callout."
"Are you alone?"
"Huh?" Jeff moved the phone away from his ear and stared at it. He never brought anyone to his apartment, or at least, he didn't remember doing so on this occasion. Not that that meant much, given the amount of alcohol he'd poured down his throat. Nate, on the other hand, sounded surprisingly sober. Carefully, Jeff swiveled around to check out his bed. The other pillow was pristine, no sign another head had rested on it, and the covers on the far side were still tucked in. The en suite door stood open on a darkened bathroom, and he couldn't hear a thing from the shower or toilet. "I think so."
"Make sure."
"I'm sure! Come on, if I brought someone back with me, he sure as hell wouldn't be sleeping on the fucking couch!" Jeff wracked his brain and managed to recall stumbling from the club on his own and crawling into a cab. "I'm sure," he repeated.
"God. How much have you drunk?"
"Listen, I'm due this!" But it was more than time owed. After all those months undercover, Jeff needed the space to crawl back into his own head, and his handler knew it as well as he did, if not better.
"I know. It's tough," Nate said quietly, reasonably. "Thing is, it's an emergency."
"No."
"Trust me, Jeff. This is an easy case, nearest you'll get a paid vacation that counts as work."
"If it's so easy, Boss-man can give it to someone else," Jeff muttered.
"Sorry, kiddo. It needs your gay ass."
"Shit! Tell me that doesn't mean what I think it means." Jeff dragged his free hand through his hair, fingers catching painfully in the tangles. "Nate?"
"Sorry," Nate repeated, and his regret was genuine, Jeff knew. "It's a skin-job. I know we've just come out of the Kerzhakov assignment, but the boss wants you in on this one. We'll get double our leave back at the end of it, he says."
"I want it in writing, signed and witnessed," Jeff snapped, giving in to the inevitable. "Okay. Where and when?"
"Manhattan office, one hour. Call a cab."
"Yeah," he answered grimly. "Right. Connolly does knows it's three o'clock in the fucking morning, right?"
"Yup. And he's the boss. See you soon."
Jeff groaned. Moving and feeling as if he were three times his thirty years, he crawled out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom. This wasn't the worst hangover he'd ever had by a long shot, but he'd planned on sleeping it off before he started earning the next one. His vacation plans hadn't been ambitious: get drunk, maybe have random anonymous sex if/when it was on offer, and sleep off the alcohol. And remember to think in English. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Sometimes life sucked. He stared at his reflection in the mirror, and for a moment the fictional Borya Ivanovich gazed back at him. That face, with its wide blue eyes and full, vulnerable mouth, framed by untidy waves of dark hair, looked more like twenty than thirty, despite his defined cheekbones. His naked chest, bare of any hair thanks to the depilation of even the few strands that tried to grow around his areoles, was a sleek, creamy expanse of lightly defined muscles. So were his limbs, making him as graceful as a classical Greek statue. The apparent youthfulness was his stock in trade, but surely he had reached his sell-by date now? Jeff swore and dragged a comb through his hair, taming the wild curls and pushing them back from his face. At once his features looked harder, older, more like himself. Then he forced himself to relax until his eyes and mouth were his own again.
His talent for sinking himself so deeply into his roles made him invaluable to the Security and Retrievals Department of Davidson & Hart International Insurance Inc., but when he spent a long time undercover, he found it hard to slide back into himself. Nate helped, of course. That was one of the main reasons why they were agent and handler.
"Jefferson Damiano Taylor," he said slowly. "From El Paso via UC Berkeley and Quantico." Though Quantico had been only a brief interlude before he and the FBI agreed he wasn't their kind of material after all, and Texas had long since been purged from his accent. By the time the last word of his mantra was spoken, his own narrowed gaze and wry half-smile faced him. He gave himself a mock salute. "Welcome home."
He had half an hour to achieve something approaching functionality. Jeff showered, brushed his teeth, and shambled into the small kitchen. He'd stocked up on quart bottles of Gatorade beforehand, knowing they were the best things to rehydrate him after a drinking session. After downing all of one and half of another, along with a couple of Tylenol, he began to feel human again. More or less. The twenty-four-hour diner down the block would provide him with a fast meal, leaving him just enough time to get to Davidson & Hart's head office.
Taking another swig from his bottle, Jeff slouched into the living room and dropped onto his couch. The apartment was one of the perks of his job, but there wasn't much to show it was any kind of home. It resembled a generic hotel room. No personal knickknacks or clutter, no family photos, and as far as Jeff was concerned, no reason to have them. Of course, Nate regularly got on his case about the Spartan aspect, maintaining Jeff needed the anchors of familiar faces. Something, anything, to remind him he was Jeff Taylor and not some case-related persona. Jeff disagreed. He didn't spend a lot of time in America; most of his cases were in Europe. All he needed was a place to crash with a door he could shut. A place to unwind before the next assignment. That was all.
This time, the next assignment had caught up with him a lot sooner than he'd expected. Jeff sighed and chugged the rest of the bottle. If Connolly kept his side of the bargain, maybe he'd spend a few days in El Paso, catching up with the Taylor and Vecellio clans. Then again, maybe not. Being with family was difficult. Not because of his sexual orientation—they'd come to terms with his homosexuality when he was in high school—but because the sheer weight of their expectations became claustrophobic in a matter of hours.
They didn't know he was anything more than a paper-pusher for Davidson & Hart, and in their book he didn't stack up too well against his cardiovascular surgeon brother. Not to mention one sister's criminal law degree and the other one's doctorates in environmental sciences and geo-engineering. His own degrees in Slavic studies and languages paled to insignificance, especially as he was apparently wasting them sitting behind a desk.
But those appearances were deceiving. While D&H specialized in supplying security equipment and expertise to museums and art galleries, their Securities & Retrievals Department had a little-advertised covert function. Stolen items could be retrieved with extreme prejudice, with or without the cooperation of the local law. And that’s where Jeff’s true expertise came in.
Rehydration had soon dispelled the worst of Jeff's hangover, and his stomach started to demand solid food. Within ten minutes he was in the diner, ordering from their all-day breakfast menu. Another thirty minutes and he walked into his boss's office to find his handler had arrived before him. Nate Renouf gave him a nod and a rueful smile. Amazingly, Nate, who resembled a college professor with his mane of prematurely white hair and neatly trimmed beard, showed no sign of a hangover. His wife, Rose, had obviously taken control.
"Alan Fletcher and Operation Janvier," Connolly said, placing two brown folders in front of Jeff. Connolly's heavy-jowled features were set in his usual scowl. He looked like Richard Nixon on a bad day, and as usual, there'd been no preliminary greeting. "Your address and the keys to your apartment," Connolly continued. An envelope and a couple of keys joined the folders. "Renouf will be based here until the action moves across the pond. He'll bring you up to speed, so call him as soon as you've made contact with Fletcher. You're back in the Leidenton office, and you start at oh eight hundred hours tomorrow. You have fifteen days to make a solid acquisition, and I expect you to be with Fletcher on the plane to England at the end of it. Keep the expenses reasonable this time."
Within the hour Jeff had left Manhattan behind and was driving a company car toward upstate New York's Ulster County and Leidenton. Two case files sat on the passenger seat beside him. One was an overview of the case, the other dedicated to his target, and both were suspiciously thin. He hadn't gotten many details from his boss, either. But Nate would be gathering everything available, and he'd be updating Jeff later on.
By the evening, Jeff had moved into the third-floor furnished apartment on the edge of midtown Leidenton, stocked his freezer, refrigerator, and cabinets, and renewed his acquaintance with the city. Jeff's first overt job with D&H had been working out of the midtown office to design and then oversee the setup of the Turnabout Gallery's new security system. The covert mission had been to discover if the assistant director was involved in the smuggling of fifteenth-century Flemish paintings into the US. Both aspects of his assignment had been successful. These days the Turnabout was still going strong, and so were the museums and galleries he'd known before, plus some new ones. All the areas of Leidenton, uptown, midtown, and downtown, were thriving.
He spent the rest of Sunday evening going over the folders' contents again, memorizing his target's face and history, what there was of it on file, as well as the minimal details on the wider operation. The show was being run by the London office in conjunction with the Paris and Rome branches, and his target, aka Alan Fletcher, would get him to the right place at the right time.
Alan Fletcher was gay, had recently come out of a relationship with a man named Carl Cross, and on paper, Jeff's part in the overall scheme was easy. But he knew well enough real life did not often follow neatly detailed plans, and the plans for this gig were sketchy rather than detailed.
Jeff's specialties were languages, electronic wizardry, and the occasional skin-job—getting close to gay marks—rather than James Bond stunts, but he could hold his own when it came to the rough stuff. He'd had all the usual training in offensive defense, and he was up there with the best of them when it came to handguns. He'd needed all his talents in Russia. S&R's overt face was exactly what it claimed to be: security advice and installation, and the repossession of goods when the buyer defaulted on payment. Standard stuff. Covertly, each regional headquarters had a subsection of retrieval teams that functioned like black ops specialists when necessary.
Access to the dacha, Kerzhakov's luxurious summer home in the country, and its treasure trove of icons and other artworks Kerzhakov had stolen and otherwise acquired for illegal export, had been the purpose of that retrieval operation. It was the mother lode at the heart of the Russian's illegal empire, the place where his records and most prized possessions were kept, and Jeff had been assigned to infiltrate it. Long months had dragged by before Kerzhakov had been besotted enough, and trusting enough, to take him there.
Gritting his teeth, Jeff evicted Borya from his mind one more time and concentrated on his current assignment. He had a man to pick up tomorrow.



~~~ * ~~~

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Fool's Errand Reviews and Excerpt



When Xavi becomes an accidental witness to the murder of a wealthy woman he knows exactly what to do - get the hell out of there, fast! Xavi lives on the edge of the law; he and the police don't exactly mix. Unfortunately the cop who is sent after him turns out to have some rather unusual abilities, so it isn't long before their paths cross - which is roughly when Xavi begins to realise that getting caught may be the very least of his troubles.

*****

Reviews for Fool's Errand

Reviews by Jessewave - Overall I greatly enjoyed this story. The heroes are engaging and there are lots of great ideas which combine to create a vivid world in the future. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy and seeing where the author takes these characters.

Two Lips Reviews - Fool’s Errand is the first book in the Fool’s Odyssey trilogy by Chris Quinton, and is a great way to start the trilogy.

Top 2 Bottom Reviews - Each character’s backstory is sufficiently developed to add layers, depth, and interest to both, while the minor players provide just enough support to the plot to help the story advance.


*****

Excerpt

“Don’t tease,” Sophia whispered, her fingers loosening another button. “I have to be at the restaurant for lunch in half an hour…”

“I know,” he said smugly. “Go and meet your politician-friends, and think of me.” He let her slip her fingers inside his jeans and cup his genitals, then caught her wrist and lifted her hand to his mouth. At the same time he unfastened more buttons and freed his semi-erect penis, pumped it slowly, deliberately displaying himself in the mirror to arouse her even more. “I’ll be waiting for you.”

“Bastard!” She pouted and jerked free of his light hold, but she was smiling as she did so. Then a faint noise came from downstairs, a door shutting not quite quietly enough, perhaps. Yet the villa should be empty but for them. Sophia paled. “Ohmygod—Marco—he’s come home early!”

Xavi swore, fastening his jeans quickly. Of all the farcical situations—the stupid bitch had been so sure her husband was in Madrid until the weekend.

He took one swift glance at the windows and dismissed them at once. There was a three meter drop onto the terrace and he had no wish to risk broken bones. So he did the next best thing; he dived to the floor and rolled under the bed, grabbing his shirt and shoes on the way.

Sophia snatched up her robe and a book and threw herself onto the rumpled sheets. “Who’s there?” she called. “Is that you, sweetheart?”

A drape of linen partially obscured his view, but from where he lay, Xavi could see the mirror, and the foot of the bed and the door reflected in it. The door opened, and the dark silhouette of a man stood there. Not Marco Rodrigues, the body-shape was too tall, too broad-shouldered. He took a step into the room and Xavi saw a stranger’s face.

“Raoul?” Sophia, said surprise in her voice. “What are you—” Raoul raised his hand and the sunlight glinted off the barrel of his gun. Sophia screamed once, the sound cut off by the first shot.

Frozen in terror, Xavi could not move, and that probably saved his life. Three more shots rang out, each one punching through the bed in a line from pillow to midway down the mattress, the last two plowing into the floor only inches from his rigid body. If his bladder had not already been empty, Xavi would have pissed himself.

The thunder of his heart in his own ears was deafening. Surely this Raoul would hear it as well—but the man turned and walked out, shutting the door quietly behind him. Still Xavi couldn’t move. Blood soaked the loose sheet and dripped slowly off the bottom edge to spatter on the carpet, the smell of it mingling with feces and cordite to clog in his throat, and it was the steady pat-pat-pat into a widening pool that finally galvanized him into action.

A shuddering whine of horror broke from him, and Xavi rolled away from the spreading redness. He scrambled to his feet on the far side of the bed. Then he froze again. Sophia was dead. Very dead. One bullet had hit between her eyes, the others at breastbone, stomach and groin. Very precise, very deliberate. This was no passion-driven killing—this was an execution.

And he had witnessed it.

Xavi was at the door before commonsense stopped him. He had very little money, while Sophia was loaded and dead. Her purse lay on the dressing table and he pounced on it, jerked it open and filled his pockets with every coin and note he could find. The cards he left—any payment or withdrawal could be traced. Then the jewelry caught his eye.

Gold, gems, they could be fenced and Xavi had contacts in Barcelona’s back streets. He spread his shirt on the floor and dumped an indiscriminate double handful of treasure in the middle of it, then knotted the fabric into a bundle. He hurried to the security panel by the front door. Sophia had driven him here in her car, and she would have made sure his arrival hadn’t been monitored. One glance told him all the cameras were down. No one was going to have a record of him leaving the place.

He made for the deserted kitchen. From the trash container he retrieved a reasonably clean plastic bag with a local supermarket’s bright logo on both sides. He dropped his cache into it and let himself out the back door. Then, keeping to what cover he could find, he ran, not to the garage, but the boathouse below the terrace, and the small but powerful motor launch that was, as usual during the summer months, moored to the jetty. It was the work of seconds to hot-wire the ignition.

Xavi turned the boat for the open sea, and then accelerated south along the coast towards Barcelona and its busy marinas. Maybe he was being paranoid, maybe he wasn’t, but he wasn’t prepared to take chances. This was the safest way of getting back to his apartment, safer than taking Sophia’s car and driving. Just in case the killer—or whoever hired him—was watching the road. His fingerprints would be all over the room, but it was not only the police he was worried about.

Xavi Peres Escudero was going to disappear.

*****

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

When The Going Gets Tough, The Writer Gets Going.

Going on a writing retreat, that is. As I've blogged about this in my Chris Power website, I won't repeat everything I wrote there.

Visiting the Isle of Wight has been on my list of Places To Visit for years, and the final push was knowing that two writer-friends had written stories set on the island: Sue Brown's The Isle of... Where? and JL Merrow's Wight Mischief. I've now read both stories, and I thoroughly recommend them *g*.


It was overcast when I left Portsmouth Harbour, and some of the photos I took through the windows of the catamaran-ferry make it seem even more gloomy.





I rather like this very atmospheric image of the sail training tall ship moored not far from HMS Warrior in Portsmouth's Dockyard. 









I enhanced the photo a little, and now the details show *g*.Unfortunately, so do the reflections from the window! No idea of the ship's name...













The Spinnaker Tower is beautiful, especially against a dramatic sky.













It hasn't been slogging over a keyboard all the time. I did manage a wander along North Beach to give my feet their first - and probably last - dose of sea water this year, and explored Ryde itself.












Ryde is a small, oldfashioned town, with the kind of shops that have long departed the High Streets of most UK towns and cities. There are fascinating glimpses down side streets as well. This is my favorite - straight down to the sea.









JD Wetherspoons have a pub on Union Street, also with free WiFi, so if I wasn’t writing in my room, I was there, beavering away.













As you can tell from the photos, the weather on the island was perfect. Once I was back in Portsmouth, it started to head towards overcast again. With nearly an hour to wait for my train home, I took the chance to take some photos of HMS Warrior while the sun was still cooperating.

She was built in 1860, the Royal Navy’s first iron-clad warship, and is now part of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyards complex.










Her figurehead is rather fine as well.










There’s more information on the Historic Dockyards – home of HMS Warrior as well as Nelson’s HMS Vistory and Henry the Eighth’s Mary Rose, HERE. One day I’ll treat myself to a visit to the Dockyards. I haven’t been there since I was a child.

So all told, I had a damned good – and productive – time, and I'll be going back to Ryde in the not too distant future.

~~~ * ~~~

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Sea Change Reviews and Excerpt





Injured on duty and no longer fit for active service, soon-to-be-ex-Coast Guard Bran Kaulana is drifting, filling his days helping out at the Wai Ola Rescue Center, one of Honolulu's wildlife charities. He's working with the new veterinary, Steve, a man drawn to O'ahu by his fascination with dolphins. As their friendship slowly deepens into love, the two men are caught up in the mystery of injured seals and dolphins, a ruthless gang of smugglers and a not-so-dormant undersea lava vent.

*****

RJ Scott's Anniversary Blog Hop: Writer's Block - And How to Beat it...


RJ Scott's Anniversary Blog Hop: Beating The Block - and a Competition!

"Why don't you write proper stories!" my mum used to complain, "like the ones in Woman's Weekly and People's Friend!" Back then I was in my twenties with a toddler, a typewriter, and ideas that had focused on Greek and Roman history, or cowboys, or spaceships, since I was about ten. My years in my local grammar school did nothing to wean me off any of them, or my compulsion to create fiction. Quite the opposite - they reinforced my wish/need/hunger to write.

Unfortunately for Mum, the stories she wanted me to write were fluffy domestic romances featuring women who longed for a man in their life so they could keep house for him, cook his meals, bear his children, and after various misunderstandings and other setbacks, he would worship the ground she walked on because she was/would be the Perfect Wife and Mother.

Um, yes. So not my thing, then or now. There are lots of great authors out there filling that particular romance niche, with or without a spicing of erotica. Okay, I do write the occasional fluffy romance, but my leads are men - men who are not the straight person's usual conventional stereotype of gayness - and perfect wives and mothers do not feature.

I've learned a lot over the years - and I'm still learning. It's an ongoing process, and a hell of a lot of fun as well as hard work. Yes, sitting in front of a computer screen trying to create a believable story with sympathetic characters is hard work. Who'd have thought it?

Probably the hardest thing any writer has to deal with is the dreaded Writer's Block. This form of excruciating mental torture can take several forms - 1] the entire lack of any new ideas and the ensuing panic that causes, and 2] that infuriating gap between scenes where the characters aren't talking to you, and visualisations fails you, and 3] the frustration of having either the plot but not the lead characters, or the characters without a plot in which to chuck them.

The first thing is - DON'T PANIC!

There are all kinds of remedies for Creative Constipation, and the list below are tricks that work for me - usually. Once you've unlocked the log-jam, you're away and flying.

Gapgap. This is my personal favorite for when a scene just won't gel. You type gapgap after a paragraph break, and carry on with a scene that *does* want to be written. Any scene. It doesn't matter if the scenes aren't linear, you can sort that out later, and using the 'Find' function will take you to those gaps waiting to be filled when inspiration strikes.

Walking Helps.  Take your notepad or netbook on a stroll, and while you're walking, just let your mind freewheel. Put the problem right out of your head, and when  you end up at your favorite cafe or coffee shop, just write anything that comes into your head. The weather, the baristas, the couple over by the window - the dog towing its owner down the street. Anything that takes your fancy.

The Three-Word Prompt. Again, it doesn't have to fit in your blocked story. Either get your friends to throw random words at you, or go to a random word generator site and take what they have on offer, and write whatever those words suggest to you. I use this one - http://watchout4snakes.com/creativitytools/RandomWord/RandomWordPlus.aspx

Picture Prompts. The gods know there are thousands of pics out there, on Facebook, Tumblr and Royalty Free sites like http://dreamstime.com. You don't have to buy the pic, just save it in a Lightbox and use it as a springboard to a scene, an emotion, and write whatever it's saying to you.

The Last Resort. If all else fails, turn off your computer, close your notebook, put the story to one side and Do Not Think About It. Do something completely different. Weed the garden, do the ironing, mow the lawn, bake a cake, open a bottle of wine or beer and read that book you've been promising yourself you'll get round to one day. Inspiration will sneak up and bite you on the arse before you know it.

If you don't already, carry a notepad and pen with you everywhere you go, and have one close to your bed at night. Ideas can turn up in the early hours of the morning, or arrive between sleeping and waking.

Okay, those are my Break The Block tips - now for the chance to win an ebook. Tell me what Block-Breaker works for you, or share your story about being blocked, or just comment! and I'll pick a name at random to win a copy of my next release, Finders, Keepers, due out on August 25th.

The draw will take place on August 14th, and I'll forward the book on the Release Day.

Don't forget to leave me a contact address so I can let the winner know and have somewhere to send the ebook.



Monday, 6 August 2012

Hearts of England - Pre-Order Now!

 

Hearts Of England

an Anthology


Chris Quinton, Lisa Worrall, RJ Scott, S.A. Meade, Sue Brown & Meredith Russell
 

From the wilds of the Brontes' bleak moors and soft summer nights in Stratford upon Avon, to a chance meeting in a cosy tea shop: six stories in an anthology showing an England full of passion and love.
 


* * * * *



The Cameraman's Tale - Chris Quinton
Mark is a researcher for a paranormal reality TV show. A cameraman on the show encountered a ghost and needs his help. Mark must break the cycle of injury and death before filming begins, or others will be at risk.

Featuring Mark and Jack from the story: The Psychic's Tale.


By Design - Lisa Worrall
Robbie Cooper gets more than he bargains for when Shane Donald walks into his shop, photograph in hand, asking Robbie to tattoo the likeness on his skin. There’s something about the photograph and the way Shane talks about the man in the picture that ignites a spark deep inside Robbie, and he longs to know more. But will he like what he hears, and will he be able to control his instant attraction to his client?

Child Of Storm - RJ Scott
Ben Hyland is excited to be showing Cory Vasilyev Yorkshire. Cory scouts locations for film studios and needs the right inspiration for a new film version of Wuthering Heights. Problem is. while Ben wants to share his passion for the story and for the wild moors, Cory just wants to go home. Until he doesn't.

A Good Feeling - S.A. Meade
Jamie never expected to meet the love of his life in a tea shop. He never expected his lover, Connor, to be an Army Officer about to return to Afghanistan for one last deployment. After twelve short weeks together, Jamie has to face uncertainty and worry. Worry that Connor may not make it back alive, uncertainty that Connor will want him to be at the base, waiting, when he returns. Will the good feelings he always had about their future together survive their separation?
 

This Morning - Sue Brown
When Neil takes his son to school he doesn't expect Alex to tell him that he doesn't want to go to South Africa on a year-long trip with him and his husband. Neil has to make a choice between his son and his husband. He only hopes that Baz understands his son must come first, otherwise he faces the prospect of his love walking out of his life forever.

William's Heart - Meredith Russell
Jude is confident, happy, and views his world through the lens of a camera. Brody is a writer. Haunted, and searching for inspiration in Stratford-upon-Avon. In Jude, Brody finds something his heart has longed for—acceptance for who he is.
 
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