Saturday, 30 April 2016

RAINBOW SNIPPETS - April 30 - May 1st

For more tantalising snippets from a whole host of authors, see the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group, you won't regret it. There are Snippets to suit every reader.

We've progressed to Chapter Three of Coins Not Accepted, and apologies - this is a little more than six sentences: Miles' grandfather has started to explain what's going on...

"Gramps," Miles said carefully, unable to stay silent any longer, "you do realise all this sounds completely bonkers, right?"

"Oh, yes." His smile was a wry twist. "Your mother made that perfectly clear. Yet it is easily proved. I have only to take you to the ford. It isn't water, you understand, but flows of energy that can be interrupted briefly from the Exchange to allow people to cross. Logres, and the other countries allied with the Wyvern throne, are in a parallel dimension. They have developed a little differently to society on this plane, ahead in some things, behind us in others. Some key elements in Britain's history didn't have the same outcome."

"Okay." Parallel dimensions. Of course, why didn't I think of that... Miles managed not to roll his eyes.

~ * ~

I've also started doing Throwback Thursday, featuring a longer excerpt from a novel from my backlist, so if you'd like to read a few more than six lines of my fiction, check the post for April 28th.




AUTISM ISN'T A NEW THING...RJ's Five Senses Blog Tour


AUTISM FACT: Most people think of there being five senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell – but there are actually seven – the final two are balance ('vestibular') and body awareness ('proprioception'). People with an ASD can be over-sensitive ('hypersensitive') or under-sensitive (‘hyposensitive') in any or all of these senses.

~ * ~

Our senses define everything about where we are in life and how we relate to it all. Even when some might say the signals they send to us are a little bit scrambled, each one of us makes it work out.
Take Synaesthesia  for instance.
Synaesthesia is a fascinating condition, and has many variables. At least ten forms are known, the most common being Chromesthesia where a sound is perceived as a colour, and Grapheme-Colour Synaesthesia where numbers and each letter of the alphabet are seen as a colour.  
The human brain is a pretty amazing computer, and even when faced with tangled signals, it manages to make its own kind of sense of the information. So much so that a lot of Synaesthetes don't see their condition as an affliction, but a gift that can enhance their lives. Nor is Synaesthesia a modern phenomenon. A while ago, I saw an article about the great Vincent Van Gogh, showing that it was highly probable that he was a Synaesthete in the

Chromesthesia category. He sent a letter to his brother Theo, and in it, the way he describes seeing colours as sounds in such a matter-of-fact way, clearly shows he was comfortable with the phenomenon:

[The italics are mine]: "Some time ago you rightly said that every colourist has his own characteristic scale of colours. This is also the case with Black and White (sic), it is the same after all — one must be able to go from the highest light to the deepest shadow, and this with only a few simple ingredients. Some artists have a nervous hand at drawing, which gives their technique something of the sound peculiar to a violin, for instance, Lemud, Daumier, Lançon — others, for example, Gavarni and Bodmer, remind one more of piano playing. Do you feel this too? Millet is perhaps a stately organ." 
I haven't discovered Theo's reply, and I have to wonder if he had the same wiring in his brain...

In Aloes, my main character, Perry, is a Synaesthete. Unlike Vincent and others, he developed Synaesthesia after a freak accident. His is a version of the more rare Lexical-Gustatory Synaesthesia, but with a paranormal twist. Normally, Synaesthetes with that form experience a particular word as a taste or a smell. In Perry's case, he can taste the intent behind the word, whether it is a lie or a truth.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win an ebook from my back-list HERE - I'll make the draw on May 10th



Thursday, 28 April 2016

THROWBACK THURSDAY - PARADOX

Definition from Webster’s:PARADOX: A tenet or proposition contrary to received opinion; an assertion or sentiment seemingly contradictory, or opposed to common sense; that which in appearance or terms is absurd, but yet may be true in fact.

Today on Throwback Thursday, I'm focusing on my mystery romance, Paradox. The story takes placer in the present day, and in Roman Britain during its heyday. The cover is from a photo I took of a Roman mosaic in a Roman townhouse in Rabat, Malta, though Malta doesn't appear in the story at all.

Blurb: Phil is trapped in a coma, and he's sharing a parallel life. Centuries ago, someone is trying to kill Caius Marcellus Niger - Phil must find out who and why. But he’s alone, and nothing is the way it seems.

Excerpt: Phil was a fast and skilful driver, and the Peugeot streaked along the unfamiliar country roads at a calculated, reckless pace. Leaden clouds swept across the sky, reducing visibility to a near-dusk level, occasionally lessened even more by skeins of mist in the river valleys. But it didn't slow him down.

Fortunately for Phil, the roads were deserted, and a swift glance at the dashboard clock told him he was making pretty good time, considering. Then the forecasted rain arrived, and the first few heavy drops splattered on the windscreen. Within minutes the full force of the deluge struck, complete with thunder and lightning, and he had to ease up on the accelerator.

Thankfully the storm didn't last long, but it left the road awash with more water than the drains could cope with. A long, straight stretch opened up in front of him, and Phil increased his speed. The M4 was behind him now, and turning east would point him towards Chippenham. From there he'd soon be back on the motorway with the blockage well behind him. If he was lucky.

Then his luck ran thin. Suddenly the car was drifting, aquaplaning, and there was little he could do except go with it and pray his wheels would bite before—his nearside hit the high verge, flipped the car into a screeching, sliding roll across the tarmac. It slammed onto its wheels, hurtling sideways and down into thick undergrowth beyond the road. The Peugeot finally came to rest beneath an oak tree, the driver's door jammed against the trunk, tail and rear wheels in a stream, and its nose on a level with the bush-lined crest of the bank.

Phil blinked his eyes open. It wasn't easy; his lashes were glued together. But he couldn't see much for his efforts. He had an impression of something very close to his face, and he seemed to be lying on his back—he started to move, and pain exploded through him. The choked cry of agony rang in his head as if it came from someone else. Surely he couldn't have pushed it past the clenching talons closed around his body.
He lay still, panting in shallow gasps, and struggled to retain both consciousness and memory. Aquaplaning—rolling impact—the pain gradually receded to a bearable level, leaving him reasonably clear-headed. Coherent enough to take stock of his situation, at least.

It hurt, but he could move arms and lower legs, if only to a limited extent. Nor did he get that sharp, splintering pain when he drew a careful deeper breath, just its lesser cousin. Bruises and strains, he decided. He couldn't raise his left arm above shoulder-level, but his right was mobile, and he investigated the throbbing areas on his head. Several lumps were swelling under his hair, and a cut on his forehead had provided enough blood to coat eyes and face. His movements dislodged beads of glass from the shattered screen, and they fell about him, rattling on exposed metal. It reminded him belatedly of fire risk, then he realised that if the car was going to go up in flames, it would have done it at the time of the crash. Whenever that was.

His physical state assessed as best he could, Phil attempted to extricate himself. The roof had twisted and depressed to scant inches above his face, the steering wheel leaned against his chest, the airbag a deflated rag. The dashboard had come down to dig into his thighs. One foot was trapped between brake and accelerator pedal.

The conviction began to grow in him that he wasn't going to be able to get himself out. It spurred him to fresh efforts. Ill-judged efforts, for the pain suddenly flared to new heights. He could neither cry out nor breathe, and unconsciousness crashed over him like a falling wall.


Awareness returned slowly, and for a while Phil lay still, relishing the comfort of the bed. He felt heavy, lethargic, oddly detached from himself; a familiar experience. He'd regained consciousness in enough hospital recovery rooms to recognise drug-induced and painless ease. He drowsed, half-listening to the muted sounds of bustle beyond his room, too lazy to even think of opening his eyes. Time enough for that when discomfort made rest impossible. Sleep and relaxation were the best healers.

Somewhere nearby children's voices were raised in sudden altercation, to be abruptly hushed by an adult's hissing whisper. Phil smiled to himself. His young sisters, Camilla and Aurelia, were still quarrelling over that damned puppy.

Camilla? Aurelia? He didn't have any sisters.

Phil opened his eyes to an ochre ceiling bordered in geometric designs in terracotta red, sombre in the dimness of the room. He blinked at it. A little avant garde for your usual hospital, he decided, and he wasn't sure if he liked it. Either way, it was enough to distract him from the unfamiliar names in his head, and he tried to sit up.

He failed. Bandages swathed his chest, his left arm was heavily wrapped, and so were his right ankle and foot. His head also sported fabric bands, but the discoveries paled to insignificance as he took in the rest of the room's decor. The walls were painted, and not in silk emulsion. Despite the gloom, bright earth-colours glowed in frescoes designed to look as if he gazed out of colonnades onto different scenes more Mediterranean than English. Nymphs, voluptuous to the point of being overweight, tripped with ponderous grace among glades of trees. Improbable sea-beasts poised coyly in a wash of waves while a plump and smirking Venus rose from detergent foam, draperies strategically clutched about her. Against a background of stylised hills, two hounds held a stag at bay, while in another, formal gardens and vineyards were laid out under a blue and cloudless sky.

The claustrophobic effect was immediate, and it took a while for Phil to realise the carved wooden panels separating the five different vistas along one long wall were two sets of shutters and a double door. Another door was opposite, sandwiched between nymphs and stag, and about the room were some carved chests, a large plain table, and a couple of basket chairs. A litter of earthenware cups, many small glass jars and pots, and a good-sized jug sat on the table. A low pile of folded cloths lay beside them, and the still air was heavy with the scent of herbs.

The ceiling and walls were devoid of electric light fittings.

Phil pushed himself to an awkward sitting position, the alarm bells in his head cutting through the fog of whatever drug had been administered. He lifted away the sheet covering him. But for the bandages he was naked, and there was no sign anywhere of clothes, watch, shoes—his gun. On- or off-duty, the snub-nosed semi-automatic went with him, and he wanted it within reach now. This was no hospital that he'd ever seen.

He set his sights on the nearest chest and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. It was much lower than he expected, and it took a lot of effort to get to his feet. His balance was precarious, his vision began to blur out of focus, but he lurched painfully towards his goal.

He didn't hear the door open, just hurrying footsteps and a rush of incomprehensible words. He spun as hands caught at him, tried to swing a punch, but coordination was gone. Instead he clutched a fistful of clothing for support, was wrapped in a strong embrace and half-carried back to the bed.

Thankfully, Phil leaned his weight on Demetrius's shoulder and let himself be settled on the pillows.

Demetrius?

Who the hell is Demetrius?

He struggled to focus on the features bent over him, got an impression of a concerned young face topped by neat chestnut brown hair, then fog closed in around him and he slipped out of consciousness.

~ * ~


This second edition is self-published under my own Kouros Books imprint

Saturday, 23 April 2016

RAINBOW SNIPPETS - April 23-24

For more tantalising snippets from a whole host of authors, see the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group, you won't regret it. There are Snippets to suit every reader.

Time needs to slow down - the week speeds by far too fast! Here we are again, with six more sentences from Chapter Two of Coins Not Accepted: Miles has travelled to East Harptree and meets his grandfather...

The last time Miles had seen the old man, he'd been a tall wide shouldered man of military bearing, his strong, distinguished features crowned by a tidy mane of thick iron grey hair. The man who rose from the wingback chair and came to meet him seemed a frail caricature. His now-white hair was still thick but he stooped a little to one side as if he should be walking with a cane. His shabby-smart tweed jacket and gabardine slacks hung on his gaunt frame, and he looked every one of his eighty-four years. His eyes, the same startling blue as the twins and Miles' own, were a little too bright with moisture.

"My dear boy," he said quietly. "I am so pleased to see you at last."

~ * ~

In other news, I've also started doing a Throwback Thursday thing, featuring an excerpt from a novel from my back-list, so if you'd like to read a few more than six lines of my fiction, check the post here for a bit of Sea Change....


Thursday, 21 April 2016

THROWBACK THURSDAY - SEA CHANGE

For the next however many weeks, I'm going to showcase my earlier books, starting with an excerpt from SEA CHANGE.

If you like slow burn friends to lovers, this could be the one for you. It's set on O'ahu in the Hawaiian Islands, and features a Brit veterinarian and a retired American Coast Guard, their friends, and various critters around a wildlife rescue charity...



Blurb:

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 Lucas, a man drawn to O'ahu by his fascination with dolphins.

As their friendship slowly deepens, 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.

Excerpt:

With a plate of pork from the kalua pig, leaf-wrapped bundles of steamed chicken and of fish, small mounds of poi and thin-sliced sweet potato, Steve retreated to the far side of the now blazing fire pit and sat cross-legged on the sand. This was the third Sea View-Wai Ola luau he had attended, and he wouldn't willingly give up the chance to be on this private beach with the people who had so quickly become close friends. His first had been the one thrown to welcome him the night before his first working day, a somewhat mind-blowing experience. Somehow he'd had the time of his life and managed to remain sober enough not to be hung over the following morning.

What one Harry Lucas would have made of it, he couldn't begin to guess. He had a stormy relationship with his father at the best of times. Every so often it had escalated into outright verbal conflict, and as usual, those clashes were caused by Steve's inability to stay long enough in one place to build any kind of a career.

Eight years ago Steve had graduated from Nottingham University with his degree, and started work in his father's veterinary practice. After less than two years he'd applied for and got an interview for the job in Bradenton, Florida, and left England behind him. Harry hadn't spoken to him for nearly a year. That rift healed eventually, thanks to his mother's skillful diplomacy, only to be reopened when he took the Miami post. That, too, had been smoothed over with time and distance, until the Sea View advert caught Steve's attention.

To leave the prestigious Marine Research Institute for a veterinary practice in a city, even if the city was the state capital of the Hawaiian Islands, was the height of lunacy as far as his father was concerned. It was merely a replay of Steve's previous fickleness. Immature pie-in-the-sky posturing, was only part of his loud denunciation when Steve had phoned to tell them. Heated words had been spoken on both sides of the Atlantic and the result was no more phone calls, and no Christmas trip home last year. He'd kept in contact with his mother, brother and sister via letters and emails, and told himself the break with his father did not hurt.

Over the last six months Helen Lucas had worked to form a truce of sorts between her pigheaded husband and equally stubborn youngest son, and had come a long way towards success. Steve's letters had helped. They had started out as short, curt notes, and rapidly escalated to pages of small details, long descriptions of the island and tales about his work and his friends. They'd also had the ongoing sagas of the more eccentric patrons of the Clinic and the Rescue Center.
Steve found he was laughing, and that Bran was approaching with a couple of cans and a quizzical expression.

"Share the joke?" Bran asked, offering one of the cans and folding long legs to sit beside him.

"Thanks," Steve said. "You're a mind-reader. No joke exactly, just imagining my Dad here. The next time I write I'm going to invite the family for a visit and not stop nagging until they agree." Over the months he'd emailed photos as well, pictures of work colleagues and friends, breath-taking scenery, and a couple of himself, looking sun-bronzed and fit, even if he said so himself. "Alan, Vickie and Mum would come like a shot, but getting Dad out of the country would be like trying to move the Statue of Liberty with one hand tied behind your back. But he needs to experience this. I don't know whether he'd let his hair down and join in, or pin Ken in a corner and talk comparative veterinarian practices at him."

"Or both?" Bran suggested, a smile growing. A smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. Although he put on a cheerful face there was always an aura of sadness about him. Steve knew that Bran had lost his lover in a horrific accident scarcely a year ago, and how their friends could think Bran was ready to move on so soon was beyond Steve's comprehension.

"That's distinctly possible," Steve said. "It doesn't do to make assumptions, after all. For instance, when Connie told me about the Coast Guard officer who would use his pickup or boat as a taxi service whenever the Center needed it, and would be doing odd jobs around the place while he recovered from an injury, I had a picture in my head of a gnarled old sea-salt with tattoos, white hair and beard. And possibly a parrot."

No matter that Bran had that shadow of sorrow about him, his laugh came easily enough. "I've got the tattoos," he said. "Maybe I'll think about the beard sometime and the white will come soon enough. But a parrot? Give me a break. Didn't that African Grey nearly take your finger off last week?"

"He did, the mangy sod." Steve eyed him critically. "No," he said. "Can't see the beard somehow. White hair, maybe. But not the beard." He remembered the tattoos, hidden now under Bran's shirt. There was a complicated tribal design over the muscled curve of his right upper arm and shoulder, a stylized dolphin shape almost hidden in the heavy black pattern. Another abstract of dark angles and curves stretched across his shoulder blades. That, too, was a dolphin, though to Steve it had looked more like a shark. The first time he'd seen them was two months ago. Bran was working shirtless in the sun, trimming back a rampant moonflower vine, and his coppery skin was glossy with sweat. Heat had started to curl low in Steve's belly, reminding him that once he had not been quite as hetero as he was these days, and he had to smother an inappropriate impulse to trace the maze of black lines on Bran's flesh with his fingertips. Or his tongue. "How about an eye patch?" Steve said quickly. "You'll look like a pirate. Talking of pirates, I hear you've upgraded the Nautilus."


Saturday, 16 April 2016

RAINBOW SNIPPETS - April 16-17

For more tantalising snippets from a whole host of authors, see the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group, you won't regret it. There are Snippets to suit every reader.

Thank you everyone who have read my Snips, and thank you for your comments - some of you have guessed Coins' genre *g*. So here are six more sentences from Chapter Two of Coins Not accepted...

"You don't seriously believe all this, do you?" his sister said. "I mean, it's utter crap. There's not a chance any of that shiny yellow stuff is real gold. Oh, it makes a pretty story, and the jewellery is cool even if it's glass and zircons, but - " She stopped and squinted at him. If she had been a cartoon character, a light bulb would have glowed above her head. "Someone enabled him. Someone got into Gramps' head and played him!"

Miles nodded. "I think there's a strong chance you're right," he said. "But on the off chance that whoever it is has an agenda that might involve violence, we'll proceed with caution."





Saturday, 9 April 2016

RAINBOW SNIPPETS - April 9-10

For more tantalising snippets from a whole host of authors, see the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group, you won't regret it. There are Snippets to suit every reader.

This week I'm going with six lines from the start of Chapter Two of Coins Not Accepted {I've changed the names of the twins - Mary and John have now become Jenny and Rob]:

In the cold hard light of morning, the previous day's happenings seemed fanciful to say the least. Miles stared into the depths of his mug of strong Twinings Breakfast Tea and wondered if he'd imagined most of it. Last night Rob had keyed in a Google search for 'Logres', and discovered it was an old name for England. The twins' speculations had become wilder. And louder. Miles hadn't joined in the theories batted back and forth between them.




Sunday, 3 April 2016

VELVET AND STEEL - Freeform Writing...

Sometimes, when you're looking through page after page of Royalty Free photos, one or two will suddenly start to wave flags, even if they aren't at all like the images you're searching for. So you snaffle them and tuck them away in a folder for future reference. But the image won't let go.

That happened to me with some pictures of cards from the turn of the century. I spent a little while on possible titles, wanting something that would be both of the picture, but hinting at a twist. Then put them aside to work on my current WiPs.

But the one image and title would not stay away. So I sat down and just wrote whatever appeared in my head. I have no idea where this is going, my knowledge of the time period is best described as ephemeral, and I'll need to do some intensive research on what I suspect will be an alternative reality. Oh, and it's potentially a mainstream mystery which may or may not have much in the way of romance...

Thoughts, anyone?

Velvet And Steel

"Amelia! Amelia Wendington!" She turned at the first sound of her name and saw a familiar young lady waving to her across the Rue Chambiges. Lucinda Belmonte.

"Lucy!" she cried in perfectly portrayed delight. "What a wonderful surprise!" That was all Lucinda needed to plunge into the traffic and cross the boulevard with unseemly haste and not a little risk to life and limb.

"Oh, I knew it was you, Cousin!" she cried and enfolded Amelia in a lilac-scented embrace. "It's been simply years!"

Since their last meeting had been the previous month, and Lucinda was not a relation, Amelia took the hint and ran with it. "Well, four at least." She laughed and hugged Lucinda again. As she did so, the two men who had crossed the road in Lucinda's wake, suddenly developed a deep interest in the window of Madame Jolie's millinery shop. "Look at you! So much the grand lady! Miss Potterton-Smythe would be proud."

"Proud?" Lucinda giggled. "Amazed, more like. Poor old Miss Potty had washed her hands of both of us, if you recall. 'The Potterton-Smythe School For Young Ladies does not turn out hoydens'," she pronounced in the acerbic tones of their erstwhile head mistress. "Oh, we have so much gossip to exchange! Is there somewhere you have been be, or can we drink tea and chat?"

"Nowhere important. I can buy new gloves whenever I wish." Amelia linked her arm through Lucinda's. "And Le Jardin de Roses is the perfect place." It was also a highly respectable establishment much frequented by ladies, and should the two burly men attempt to enter, they would stand out like bulls in a garden of fragile flowers. Not that either girl was in any way fragile, appearances to the contrary.

Arm in arm they strolled slowly along, talking of their old finishing school and class friends, the Channel Crossing - by dirigible in Lucinda's case, and schooner in Amelia's. The two men trailed along behind them, close enough to overhear, and Amelia thought longingly of her fashionable parasol's steel spike. And Lucinda usually had a pair of finely balanced knives tucked into her garters. Then there were the fine silvery threads that ran through certain of their ribbons... Garrottes were useful additions to their armouries in difficult circumstances.

The small procession reached the tree-lined expanse of the Avenue Montaigne, and there parted company as the two girls entered the tea house. Most of the tables were taken, but few remained unoccupied towards the rear. They took over one that afforded clear views of the wide windows as well as the street and kitchen doors.

"Who are they?" Amelia asked. "Do you know or should we lure them into an alley?" She patted her reticule, a sweet smile lifting her lips. "I have a few surprises."

"Great Aunt Wilhelmina wouldn't like it." Lucinda shook her head sadly. "At least, not yet. They're two of the lesser minions of a certain Professor Mondragore, who is seeking to overturn the French government and restore the monarchy."

"Oh, dear... Surely not the Bonapartes?"

"Indeed not. The Capets."

"But the last Capet went to the guillotine." Amelia frowned. "Though heaven knows they produced enough illegitimate offspring, so I suppose..."

"Exactly."

To Be Continued... [possibly] [the Gods only know when...]

~ * ~



Saturday, 2 April 2016

Rainbow Snippets April 2-3

For more tantalising snippets from a whole host of authors, see the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group, you won't regret it. There are Snippets to suit every reader.

This week I'm going with six more lines from Chapter One of Coins:

Gold poured out into the lid of the deposit box, a cascade of discs the size of a two pound coin.

"Oh my fucking God!" John croaked. "Is that money? For real?"

"Looks like it." Miles scooped up a few of the coins. Again, the wyvern featured on one side. On their reverse were crowned heads in profile with the legend, 'Richardus VI Princeps' or 'Marcus III Princeps'. If this was the old man's fantasy life, he'd taken it to a ridiculous degree, though it was highly unlikely the metal was truly gold.


Amazon Link for Tawny HERE