Friday, 13 September 2013

CARLYLE'S CROSSING - OUT TODAY!

My paranormal m/m romance from Total-E-Bound is out on general release today! Set mostly in contemporary Vermont in the [fictional] town of Whitewater, where an ancient evil from the far distant past has seeped into the here and now. 

Buy link HERE

Jubal is the last Carlyle, and lives near Seattle, far away from his Abenaki ancestors. A letter from a lawyer draws him and his best friend, Sal, to Vermont and the town of Whitewater. Soon they are right in the middle of the old conflict that drove Jubal's parents away just before his birth. 

Whitewater is suffering and not just from the economic downturn. Unleashed by one man's obsession to call back the spirit of his dead wife, and by the well-meaning but flawed actions of another, dark forces are bringing depression and hopelessness. 

Jubal's father had neither the talent nor the wish to attempt the task of driving back the incursion, but Jubal knows he has to try. He must find a way to reverse the process before the malaise spreads. But he has no knowledge, no training, just instinct - and Sal. Always Sal, who is rapidly becoming far more than a friend with benefits. The dangers they face are insidious, and more than their lives and sanity are at risk.

Chapter One


“Was wondering when you were going to wake up,” said the voice.
Since his head currently felt as if an axe was embedded in it, coherent thinking wasn’t an option. Jubal managed a slurred, “Shut up,” and tried to open his eyes. It didn’t happen. His lids seemed to be glued shut. Not that it fully registered with him. The mere effort had been enough to send the pain soaring to a new level.
“You don’t want to think about moving just yet.” The deep voice sounded wryly amused. Jubal decided he hated the guy, whoever he was. “You got a minute or so.”
“Wha…?” he groaned. At the same time he became aware of bruising pressure across his chest and legs. A hard and jagged cage-like something enclosed his body. He heard the pings of cooling metal, the steady drip-drip of leaking gasoline. Smelt it as well. Not good. His memory surged back in a nauseating rush.
He’d been returning home after his shift at the forest ranger station, looking forward to getting out of the deluge that hadn’t let up all day, and into a hot shower. Friday night with the rain lashing down, he’d had the back roads leading from Seattle’s Capitol State Forest to himself. Until a deer had come out of nowhere, dashed in front of him in a flash of glistening wet hide and black eyes. He’d slammed on his brakes and—nothing at all after that.
“You don’t want to hurl either,” the man said. “Trust me.”
“Help me, for fuck’s sake!” Jubal snarled. He tried to raise his right arm so he could scrub at his eyes, but the pain struck again and he nearly passed out.
“Can’t.” The man didn’t sound regretful, just matter-of-fact. “You gotta do it yourself. And if I was you, I’d start right about now. Bastard’s struck a match.”
“Mother-fuck—” A faint crackling sound started up and another smell assaulted his nostrils. Something was burning.
Panic exploded through Jubal in a scorching tide. He tried to simultaneously shove off whatever was pinning him, roll over and get to his feet. He failed at all three. The agony was oddly distant, but the whoosh of flames and heat were not. His fear became a savage beast that clawed at his brain, at any vestige of self-control that remained. There was only the all-consuming need to be somewhere else
Something tore deep inside him and Jubal howled. He must have blacked out for a while, because the next thing he knew the biting weight had gone from his body and his arms were free. Rain pattered on his upturned face, sliding its chilled fingers across his skin. He had just enough time to register the texture of the earth and grass beneath him before the gas tank exploded. A wave of heat scooped him up and dropped him into a puddle.
The rain did Jubal a favour. It softened and rinsed away the whatever it was gluing his eyes shut. He still couldn’t move his limbs, but he managed to force his eyes open.
Flames painted the night in flickering red light and shifting black shadows. The silhouette standing over him could have been a statue carved from jet and there were no other colours in Jubal’s world.
“Better late than never, I guess,” it said disparagingly. “Why is it always hard work with you, Jubal?”
“What the hell happened?” His voice was a wheezing croak, but he put every ounce of command into it that he could. “Call 911, for God’s sake!”
“No need. You’re outside the Butler place. He’s already called it in and he’s on his way over. See you around.”
Jubal lost track of things then. When he managed to blink his eyes open once more and focus, Pat Butler crouched beside him, swearing in a monotone.
“Jesus Christ, Jubal, hold still, don’t move! Don’t try to talk, just breathe. You’re gonna be fine, I swear.”
“Oh, my sweet Lord!” Ellen Butler bent over him, shielding him from the rain with her body. Her tears fell glittering like rubies. Their touch on his face scalded and froze at the same time. “Jubal, honey, you got to hold on…” She covered him with a quilt, careful not to move him. It did nothing to dispel the ice invading him.
“Heard the crash, saw the explosion,” Pat was saying. It sounded as if he was a long way off, in an echoing place. “You’re a lucky sonofabitch, Jubal. You got thrown clear before the tank blew. Hold on, son…” But the red and the black were swirling, merging into a foggy haze, and Jubal was swamped.

* * * *

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Cameraman's Tale - Available Now!

The next short story in the Renfrew Files is out now! The Cameraman's Tale awaits you on the usual sites

All Romance eBooks HERE
Amazon HERE
Smashwords HERE


Mark Renfrew is a researcher for a paranormal reality TV show, but no one involved with the show knows he is the real deal—a genuine psychic. When a cameraman encounters a ghost and needs his help, he has to come out of that particular closet. Along with his archaeologist lover, Jack Faulkner, Mark must find a way to break the ghostly cycle of injury and death on a haunted road, but things don't go according to plan. Mark discovers a new aspect to his psychic talent, and with another ghost to contend with, he is entering dangerous and uncharted waters.


Excerpt:

"I want the girl in the road," Dominic Waldron insisted, slapping the relevant file in the centre of the table. "Fuck it, who's running this bloody show anyway?"

Mark pushed up his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. He wanted to say Goldstream Media, but since Dominic owned at least half of the production company and was the executive producer for his own show, it wouldn't carry much weight. Besides, Mark preferred to keep a low profile around the man. Next to him, his fellow researcher, Heather, swore under her breath.

"The headless woman has more impact," Jerry Kent said persuasively. Head of Research—and Mark's immediate boss—he also had a good eye for visuals and what the TV-viewing public liked. At least, the preferences of those who avidly watched The Dominic Waldron Experience. "It'd be perfect for the opening show—mysterious inn, hidden cellar, reconstructions with Royalists and Roundheads, the woman in a tight bodice…"

Across the table, Trevor Johnson, the special effects expert, nodded with enthusiasm. "We could have cannons, muskets, and pikes, plus the torture chamber in the cellar. The road girl would only have screams and mists and a crashed car."

"There's more in-depth material on the headless woman," Jerry added quickly. Dominic's scowl darkened and Jerry indicated a thick file pushed to one side. "We've put together that much from online research alone. Once Heather gets going on the libraries and Mark chats with locals, there'll be a lot more to play with. And there's a five-star hotel only six miles away. The road girl is out in the back of beyond."

Mark doodled on his notepad, wrote his name, then Jack's, and framed the Mark Renfrew and Jack Faulkner in a circle of vine leaves—until he realised the circle looked more like a heart. He scribbled over it, flushing, and tuned back in on the arguments. Being openly gay was one thing, being a soppy romantic was another thing entirely.

The planning conference for the TV show's new season was not going well. As usual. Every year the same things happened, only the details changed. The sole reason Dominic wanted to build a show around the road girl was it would require the poor bitch to run, half-naked in a flimsy nightgown, from the trees by the side of the road and into the path of an oncoming car, her clothing torn by branches and hanging off her heaving breasts. And knowing Dominic, he'd demand take after take until cast and crew were ready to drop from exhaustion, while he sat in his director's chair with a hard-on.

It was a mystery to Mark why no one had punched the man. Or sued him.

"Road girl." Dominic folded his arms over his broad chest and glared around the pre-production crew.

The pose was impressive. Mark had to give him that. Dominic, his chiselled jaw set in determination, brilliant blue eyes glittering with the fire of his resolve, and artfully styled leonine mane of white hair carefully tousled for maximum effect, was the ultimate Silver Fox with a more than slight resemblance to one George Clooney. His string of conquests was legendary, and few men could turn on the charm with such success. Unfortunately, the Waldron Dazzle Effect soon wore away, as his five failed marriages and rapidly replaced mistresses testified. Mark knew the man was in his early sixties. Thanks to good genes and judicious use of Botox, he looked nearer forty despite the colour of his hair.

"Okay," Jason Armitage said. "Here's what I've decided." As producer, he usually endorsed Dominic's choices and this was no exception. "Our six shows for this season will be the road girl, the gibbet at the crossroads, the hand in the wall, the black dog, the haunted bridge, and we'll close on a dramatic high with the headless woman. We'll hold over the phantom bells until next season, along with the shipwreck. I'd like at least two more water-themed shows then. Jerry, get your team working. I want the first breakdown on the road girl two weeks from now so Paula and her writers can start on it, and the rest in the usual stages after that. Joanna, start looking to cast our girl, the villain of the piece, and at least two car drivers, maybe passengers. Harry, we'll also need a couple of cars we can crash, and a coach and horses. But keep an eye on the budget. The headless woman is going to be more expensive. Don't forget, folks. Shooting will start on the first of May as usual."

Mark and Heather scurried to escape with the first exodus from the conference room, and dived into their cramped office before their department head could grab them.

"Kev is going to kill me," Heather exclaimed, collapsing into her chair. "I wish I'd never mentioned the bloody ghost to Jerry! It was only a rough premise and I didn't think he'd put it forward in a million years!"

"He knows Dominic," Mark pointed out, "and other than the headless woman, there isn't much in the way of boobs in any of the other stories. At least, not before the scriptwriters get hold of them."

"I know." She heaved a sigh. "Thing is, Kev half-believes she's for real. After all, he virtually grew up in the Neston area, and his gran was full of the old tales."

"But why would Kevin be angry with you? I mean, if the story's in a book somewhere, then it's in the public domain."

"Well, because he sort of saw something," Heather answered, her expression guilty. "Oh, he was only a kid at the time, but it scared him rigid. He and his parents nearly died, and he had nightmares for ages he said. That's all I know. He doesn't like talking about it."

"Ours is the wrong kind of TV show for him to be working on then," Mark said wryly. "The Dominic Waldron Experience—the Paranormal Brought to Life!" he intoned in a passable imitation of the show's opening voiceover.

Heather giggled. "I think he'd be more worried if any of the fancy gizmos the show uses actually worked."

"Some do," Mark reminded her. "The EMF meters, the thermometers. And orbs have been seen on photos and vids."

"Dust motes and Photoshopping. No one saw them with the naked eye."

Mark didn't tell her it wasn't all dust and computer skills. He'd seen orbs and far more. He was firmly in the closet as far as his psychic abilities were concerned. "Don't tell me you're not a believer!" he gasped, mock-horrified. "Blasphemy, woman!"

"You bet I'm not. I've only been with the show for a year, but don't try to kid me Domiprick believes a word of it either. He just saw a niche and grabbed it by the throat with both hands. He's about as psychic as a box of rocks!"

Mark smiled and didn't mention how rocks, bricks, and mortar—simple everyday possessions—could hold impressions, echoes of distant memories some could read. 

The Cameraman's Tale
Another title from Kouros Books

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Amazon Issues and the Free Read

The Carpenter's Tale is a Free Read from Kouros Books. It is free on All Romance eBooks and on Smashwords. But NOT on Amazon. Since I'm publishing it through other distributors, the Kindle Direct Publishing setup does not allow me to select a price lower that $0.99 - which it immediately ups to $1.19.

Over the last few days, I and others have used the book's page to inform Amazon it is free on other sites. No effect. I emailed Amazon Customer Services to request their help in amending the price for Carpenter to zero.

They replied... "Thank you for your information on pricing. From time to time, we may match free promotions on other sales channels, but we retain discretion over our retail prices.In the future, you can let us know about lower prices through our website by clicking the link to "Tell us about a lower price" under the "Product Details" section for your title. Please be sure to specify all of the websites which are selling the book at a lower price.Thanks for using Amazon KDP."

Since it is STILL showing a price on Amazon, I then replied... "My ebook, The Carpenter's Tale, is FREE on ALL ROMANCE eBOOKS and on SMASHWORDS. I want it to be FREE on Amazon as well, but KDP makes this borderline impossible. I don't want to remove it from the Amazon database, but if this pricing issue cannot be resolved, I will have no choice. "

If anyone has any suggestions about where I go from here, I'll be happy to try them. 

All I can add is, I apologise. I am not trying to screw money out of people - this is down to Amazon, not me. PLEASE DON'T BUY IT - you can download it for free in Kindle-friendly formats from Smashwords and All Romance eBooks

~ * ~

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

FREE READ - The Carpenter's Tale

The Renfrew Files #1 The Carpenter's Tale is a short paranormal story featuring Mark Renfrew, closeted psychic, and his lover Jack Faulkner, freelance archaeologist.

Download Links

All Romance eBooks
Smashwords

Amazon - the story is live on Amazon, but I haven't linked to it. I'm *STILL* trying to convince them it is a Free Read!
 
~ * ~

It should have been a bit of a break for Mark Renfrew, attending an archaeological conference with his lover, Jack Faulkner. No ghosts, no drama beyond the academic. But it didn't work out that way. The modern Five Star hotel held a dark secret, and Mark knew he had to uncover it before more people were hurt.

~ * ~


It took Jack Faulkner half an hour to extract himself from the gaggle of archaeologists gathered in the hotel's reception area. He doubted he'd be missed. The latest discoveries in a ravine a few miles from the Valley of Kings in Egypt had grabbed everyone's interest. Usually he'd be in on the gabfest, oblivious to all else. But this time, after registering at the desk, he had other plans. His lover had gone ahead to their room. 

They'd been together for just over a year, and Jack still got that delicious frisson in his blood at the thought of Mark, waiting for him in a room with one large double bed. Okay, it was ten o'clock in the morning, but this conference was programmed to last for three days, and they would need to snatch every chance they could to be together. 

Until recently, Jack had been fortunate enough to score short-term jobs in England, and had chances to accompany Mark on some of his research trips to Wales and Cornwall. But yesterday he'd signed the contract that would take him to Cyprus for four months. Mark, tied to the UK by his commitments to The Dominic Waldron Experience TV show, would not be going with him. For the first time they'd be apart longer than a handful of days. He was not looking forward to it.

Jack took the lift to the third floor and hurried along the corridor to Room 314. He carded the door open and bounced in. Then hesitated for a moment. His lover sat on the edge of the bed, his head in his hands, elbows planted on his knees.

"Are you okay?" Jack asked cautiously, coming forward. "Mark?" No answer, and he leaped to the obvious conclusion. Mark Renfrew was psychic, and ever since the Fitzwarren affair, his talent sometimes didn't play nice. "What's here?"

"Don't know, yet." Mark's voice shook a little and Jack crossed the room in a few strides to wrap him up in a protective embrace. Mark didn't raise any objections.

"So what can you tell me?" Jack asked.

"The room's clear—it's at the top of the stairs, just along the corridor from here. Fury, pain, death…" He took a deep breath and straightened. "Sorry. It took me by surprise."

"But this is a modern hotel!" Jack protested. "Well, comparatively." He stretched for the fancy dossier on the nearest bedside table, and flipped it open. The illustrated potted history of the Havenbridge Hotel, the five star flagship of Haven Hotels Consortium, was brief. The place had been built on a green-field site in the seventies and HHC had gone from strength to strength, creating a thriving chain to rival the Travelodge and Premier Inn franchises. Nothing there, but he knew where he could find out more. "Build up your barriers, Sunshine. I'm going to ask some questions." He pressed a kiss into Mark's untidy hair, and made for the door.

"Wait a minute!" his lover protested, but Jack was a man on a mission.

He closed the door behind him and stared down the corridor. Shades of blue carpeting, warm cream walls, unobtrusive artwork, and tasteful ceiling lights met his gaze. This was a Five Star hotel, and looked the part. Everything was immaculate. Jack walked to the stairs and paused. He didn't expect to sense anything, he was an archaeologist and dealt in hard facts. In a career that often involved excavating the dead, he had never experienced anything remotely paranormal. A year ago Jack would have been sceptical, now he didn't doubt that Mark had encountered something unpleasant there.

"Okay," he said aloud and walked carefully down the stairs.

~ * ~

Monday, 2 September 2013

KOUROS BOOKS AND ME

Deciding to self-publish wasn't an easy choice, but when I began to receive back the copyrights  as books reached the end of their two year contracts, it seemed a logical one. After all, I'm not one of the Big Guns in the authorly world, so saddling another publisher with secondhand titles didn't strike me as being profitable for them.

So I tested the waters with a short story - FALLING AGAIN, and put it up on Amazon, All Romance e-Books and Smashwords for $0.99.
In an effort to keep costs down, I created the cover myself from a photo purchased from a royalty-free site. It seemed to work just fine, FALLING got the usual range of reviews on Goodreads, from 5 stars to 2 stars, so I thought, what the heck - go ahead. So I did.

But I needed a name - a logo of sorts. Since I write primarily men falling in love with men, I eventually decided on Kouros Books. The word 'kouros' in Greek means [male] youth and refers to a particular type of statuary from pre-5th century BC, of a young man standing upright with his arms at his sides, and facing forwards. While I had photos of this style of statuary from my visit to Greece a few years ago, none of them were good enough for what I wanted. 

So, because I have a great love and admiration for Classical Greece, and the Greco-Roman world, I decided on Antinous, Hadrian's young lover. Luckily I'd taken several photos of him while in Athens' Museum and one of them worked perfectly.. Yes, he is a youth, and the style isn't the formality of the earlier kouroi - but he is so very beautiful...

*Ahem*, okay, moving on... I now have four titles with Kouros Books , one first edition, the others second editions, with more projected. The next one to appear under the Kouros banner will be the free read The Renfrew Files #1 The Carpenter's Tale. This is a much-expanded edition of a short story published in a free anthology from Silver Publishing, and features Mark Renfrew, closeted psychic, and Jack Faulkner, freelance archaeologist...


... It should have been a bit of a break for Mark, attending an archaeological conference with his lover. No ghosts, no drama beyond the academic. But it didn't work out that way. The modern Five Star hotel held a dark secret, and Mark knew he had to uncover it before more people were hurt.

~ * ~