Question: What do you get if you cross LGBTQ+ and crime?
Answer: the CWA National Crime Reading Month “Bring Crime Out of the Closet” blogathon!
Joking aside, the NCRM is taking place throughout June and to help celebrate, Charlie Cochrane, Clare London and I have organised a blogathon for the entire month (and possibly beyond).
There’ll be lots of authors, plus readers and other affiliated creatives (including the three of us), all blogging on a range of topics including whether they were aware of gay characters in the old crime classics; the first crime book they read featuring a gay main character; or why they put LGBTQ+ main characters into their own books.
With a brand new post every day throughout June it promises to be both fascinating and entertaining. So if you want a bit of intrigue with your morning cornflakes, why not bookmark/follow the blog so you don’t miss any of the posts? Things kick off with a shotgun bang tomorrow (Thursday) and my own post (on Louise Welsh’s The Cutting Room) is scheduled for June 12th. You can find it all here.
Another sunny morning; another walk. This time we zoomed down to the coast at Grange-over-Sands. We’d intended to walk to Kents Bank station along the promenade and the side of the railway line, but the first thing we saw in the car park was a sign advertising a classic car rally that just happened to be part way along the route.
After a coffee at one of the cafes along the promenade (including making friends with a small Yorkshire Terrier and having a nice chat to its owner), we headed for the Memorial Playing Fields where the rally was being held.
It turned out to be much larger than we were expecting, and not too expensive to get in, and with all proceeds going to the excellent Blood Bikes charity, so we handed over £10 and headed in. The competitors? entrants? hadn’t quite finished turning up but there was already a really good turn-out, with over 100 classic, vintage and veteran vehicles dating from the 1990s back as far as about the 1920s.
My own favourites were a stunning Healey saloon, and a Bentley S2 of the exact same vintage my grandfather drove when I was a small child. It didn’t seem to have the electric windows his had, but it did have the let-down picnic tables on the back of the front seats, and the gleaming all-walnut dash. It brought back some very happy memories!
When we weren’t poring over the cars, there was the view over Morecambe Bay to stare out at. All in all it was an unexpected and enjoyable bonus to a lovely morning out. Although I was amused to see that stray apostrophes don’t seem to be a new thing if the sign on this old van is anything to go by!
A quick update to let everyone know I’ll be taking part in a Facebook launch party on Sunday. The event is to celebrate the release of Alex J Adams’ new book Finding Beau, a m/m romance set in my home city of Liverpool – so how could I not take part?! – and I’ll be giving away one digital copy of my own paranormal m/m romance December Roses, as well as chatting about ways to keep cool in this inferno of a heatwave.
One of our good friends is a member of charity organisation The Soroptimists, who fundraise on behalf of disadvantaged women and girls around the world. On Sunday they’d organised a Strawberry Tea in the garden of a rather grand house overlooking Windermere (the lake) to raise money, and our friend invited us along.
There were various old fashioned stalls including plants and a tombola as well as a raffle and other games and activities, and we could also stroll round the beautiful gardens. And then there was a slap up tea involving cake, home-made scones and jam, and strawberries.
We caught up with our friend, her husband, and two other friends we’d met at similar events in the past and it was all very jolly. The weather was slightly less jolly – the sun eventually came out, but there was a strong cold blustery breeze that kept blowing the tea things about.
But it was all great fun and will hopefully have raised some much-needed funds. I donated a signed copy of Got Ghosts?, the (now out of print) predecessor to Ghosts Galore, as a prize in the raffle. And was both surprised and delighted when one of my tickets was called out and I won a Nutcracker Paperweight. I’m not sure it’s much good at guarding my papers but it’s very good at sitting on a box in the spare bedroom and looking cute…
Country Fest, to be precise. This sweet, slightly old fashioned show happens once a year on the Westmorland County Showground near Kendal. We try to get there whenever we can as it has a lovely feel to it, with stalls, marquees and events throughout the two days it’s on for.
Last year was the first time it had run for two years thanks to the pandemic, and even then it was a little thin on the ground as some exhibitors – and visitors – had clearly stayed at home. This year there seemed to be no such fears and it was pretty much back to its usual self.
We got there soon after 10 am and spent a happy couple of hours wandering about, checking out the produce, looking at sheep, watching Morris dancers, mooching round the vintage cars and fuzzing bunny rabbits. We also had a lovely lunch from a stall operated by Yardies Jamaican food. It was all very relaxed and made a lovely change from the usual chores. And we came home with this rather adorable little robin, which is perched on the handle of a life-size garden fork. Apparently they’re made from recycled oil cans in Zimbabwe. A little bonus on top of a very pleasant morning.
For a complete change yesterday I went to an art workshop at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal. I’d seen it advertised a few weeks ago and booked a ticket just because it sounded fun, even though I’d never heard of the particular technique before.
It’s called geli, or gelli, plate printing, and involves a thick gelatinous sheet that you can roll paint onto, then use various shapes and textures to create interesting effects. Then you lay a sheet of paper on top, press down, peel the paper off again and hey presto, you have your very own unique artwork. And that’s it. There’s no printing press, no massive preparation, and the materials (apart from the paint) can be pretty much anything you like, from garden leaves to recycled junk and even bits of fabric and cardboard.
I’d expected to come home with one or two, but at the end of an intense and entertaining three hours with tutor and local artist Jess Levine, I had a whole sheaf of prints. Some of them are really attractive and I’ve already found frames for several and dotted them around the house. And because I got on with it so well, I’ve ordered a geli plate of my own. I’m hoping to use it not just for prints, but for greetings cards, gift tags and perhaps even simple wooden jewellery. Apparently, almost anything is possible!
And yes, the picture above really is my work – about the third print I made, before the room got too hot and the paint started to dry out. I’m oddly proud of it.
A quick heads-up that tomorrow evening (Friday 24th September) I’ll be at fellow m/m romance author Jackie Keswick’s Facebook group, helping her celebrate the release of her new book Caught.
Caught is a m/m paranormal romance featuring demons and demon-hunters, with more than a hat-tip towards Japanese culture. It’s currently on pre-order but releases tomorrow, hence the party.
As you can see from the graphic there’ll be lots of authors taking part with all kinds of games, questions, and things to take part in, plus prizes and giveaways. I’ll be dropping in at 7pm (UK time) with a couple of posts about my latest book Heat Haze: Summer Sizzlers, and will be giving away one copy of the e-book. So if you fancy a chance at winning it, or chatting to me or any of the other authors, why not come along to Jackie’s Kitchen and join in the fun?
A rare evening out and a real treat, too. This was part of the Lakes Summer Music Festival, which normally takes place every year but which was cancelled thanks to the virus last year.
This year the organisers bust a gut to get as many events and concerts back on, subject to increased Covid security measures, and last night we’d booked to see an Eastern European band called Paprika perform in Ambleside parish church.
And it was great. The venue, a typical Victorian gothic church with soaring arches and a high altar lit up purple for the evening, was a super setting. And the music was quite unexpected. We’d assumed it would be ‘world music’, perhaps with an Eastern European flavour, but Paprika are actually Balkan (four Serbians and a Hungarian in the line-up we saw last night) and the music definitely reflected that.
We heard everything from old Rumanian dances to a Serbian rumba, plus tunes with a distinct Jazz flavour and even one or two pieces that wouldn’t have been out of place at a Russian Jewish wedding. All of it was lively and all skillfully played on an unusual combination of guitar, bass guitar, two accordions and a violin. The band members also took turns to compere, announcing the various pieces and giving some fascinating snippets of the history of music in their countries. Apparently the Balkans have long been a meeting place between east and west, with influences from the Ottoman Empire, Jewish traditions and the Romany culture to name but a few.
The end result is a fascinating mix and made for an entertaining night out. The only slight downside was having to sit in face-masks for nearly two hours, in a very stuffy atmosphere since the organisers had closed all the doors and windows. To be honest, though, after so very long without live music that was a small price to pay, and I found myself getting quite emotional at the return of something we love so much.
I’m just dashing in to let everyone know that one copy of my e-book Trench Warfare will be included in the prizes for the Goodreads M/M Romance group’s twelfth anniversary celebrations, starting this Saturday (7th August).
The event will feature all kinds of fun and games, with lots of other goodies available as well as my book. To take part, all you need to do is join the group, then follow the instructions. There’s more information available here, although you probably need to be a group member to access it.
I hope that if you pop in you’ll have lots of fun, and that whoever’s lucky enough to win Trench Warfare enjoys it as much as the event.
Just a quick heads-up that I’ll be doing a takeover on the Talking RoMMance with a British Accent facebook group at 5.15 today (Sunday). I’ll be chatting about my new book Trench Warfare, posting an excerpt from it, and giving away one e-book from my m/m romance catalogue to a lucky winner on the day.
This is part of the group’s Pride Weekend celebrations and there are dozens of other authors taking part. Yesterday was the lgbt authors, and you can still catch their posts by scrolling down through the group discussions. Today is what I’d describe as “allies” to the lgbt cause. All write m/m romance and all are contributing to the fun with questions, trivia, book recommendations and lots of giveaways, so do pop in because there’s something for everyone.