Posted in Books, fiction, LGBT, paranormal, romance, Writing

Rainbow snippets: Ghosts Galore

The Rainbow Snippets FB group encourages members to post a few lines from one of their books and then link back to it on the group. It seems like a great way to introduce folk to my writing, so I joined the group this week and this is my very first post!

My chosen snippet is from my latest book, Ghosts Galore, a fun m/m paranormal romance set in a haunted English manor house. I was scrolling through and thought this particular piece summed up perfectly what the book’s about:

Adam sighed. ‛That’s not what I meant.’ He glanced over at Gramps, who was part way out of the door—without having opened it first—and making ‘follow me’ gestures with half his head. ‛I mean, I think there’s something going on in the house.’

‛Well, duh.’ Carl rolled his eyes. ‛Of course there’s something going on. It’s called filming a TV programme.’

For those of you who don’t already know about the book, it involves a TV crew filming in a haunted house, a producer who doesn’t believe in ghosts, a powerful and very annoyed spirit, some missing paintings, and a low-heat and unexpected m/m romance. If you like the sound of it, you can find out more at my website. I hope you like what you see!

And in the meantime, why not visit Rainbow Snippets for lots more, you know, snippety bits of LGBTQ+ fiction? You might find something new to read!

Posted in fiction, History, LGBT, paranormal, romance, Writing

Free Christmas story

I spent yesterday putting the finishing touches to a new, free Christmas short story set in the world of my paranormal romance novel ‛December Roses’, involving Nat, a former soldier turned gardener, his elusive musician lover Richie, and a cigarette case with a story to tell.

Nat’s been living at Frogmorton Towers for four years. He’s content with his life, working in the garden and slipping away to see his ghostly lover Richie every now and again. This year, though, he wants to give Richie a present, to say thank you for everything Richie has given him. He chooses to pass on his engraved silver cigarette case, but forgets that time doesn’t work the same at Frogmorton as it does everywhere else. The gift finds its way back to him unexpectedly, bringing its own story of loss, but also of hope and homecoming at this magical time of year.

His breath hitched at the surprise of it, even after all this time. The change was silent and happened without him noticing, even when he was half-expecting it. One of these days he’d understand how it managed that: what processes were at work to turn a perfectly ordinary garden into something so unique and magical. Not today, though. Today he had other things on his mind. Because there, a few yards away, was Richie, propped against his favourite apple tree. His hands were thrust deep into the pockets of his flying jacket and his face half-hidden behind an impossible scarf in shades of sepia and mauve that did nothing for his skin.
‛You startled me.’ It wasn’t entirely true—he’d been hoping for exactly this—but it was still hard, sometimes, to admit those feelings out loud.
The full lips tilted up into Richie’s customary impish smile. ‛Come over here and I’ll do more than startle you.’
Nat took a step, then several more, until he was close enough to reach out and touch the other man. It was pure temptation. He wanted nothing more than to kiss the corners of those lips, to poke his tongue into the soft, yielding space between them, to feel the rasp of rough stubble under his fingertips. But that wasn’t why he’d stayed out here, or wished that Richie would come. He had something else to do, and needed to distract himself before every last thought flew out of his head. ‛Like the scarf,’ he said.
Richie’s eyes danced. ‛Hideous, isn’t it? I have to wear it though. Elsie knitted it for me.’
The last sentence was imbued with brotherly pride. Hardly surprising, Nat thought. Since the thing was about three miles long, it was no mean achievement for a nine year old. ‛Good for her.’
‛Yeah. Gave it me for Christmas. It’s ghastly but it keeps the cold wind out.’
And cold it certainly was. Nat shivered, suddenly. The day had begun sunny and quite mild; he’d been working in a sweatshirt with the sleeves rolled up. Suddenly, with the sweat of his labour drying on his skin, his clothes were no match for the bladed wind.
‛Ah, look at you, you’re freezing. What were you thinking coming out dressed like that?’ Richie unwrapped a couple of loops of scarf and dropped them over Nat’s head, then used the ends to draw them close…

Want to read more? The story will be available to readers of my monthly newsletter, completely free, so why not sign up now? You’ll also get another free m/m romance, Monster in the Maze, when you do.

Thanks, hope you enjoy the stories, and have a lovely Christmas!

Posted in fiction, Guest posts, History, LGBT, romance

Fiction’s ‘golden age’

A lot of the books I read growing up were written and/or set in the early years of the twentieth century, so this lovely guest post from friend and fellow author Charlie Cochrane rang a lot of bells. Although I haven’t read much Sherlock Holmes, I’m familiar with Christie, Sayers, Heyer (the non-Regency stuff), du Maurier, Ngaio Marsh and many others who helped make those few decades either side of the century turn such a golden age for fiction. It was super to be reminded of so many favourite authors in one go, so I hope this article brings back some good reading memories for you too. Over to you, Charlie!

“When I write about the Cambridge Fellows, it feels like I’m coming back to family or old friends and starting up a conversation as though we left it just the day before, rather than months previously. They’re giving me an account of some adventure that I didn’t know about and I’m jotting it down furiously – I know that sounds weird because we authors are supposed to be in charge of our creations and making them do things but it’s never felt that way with any of my books. Especially with Jonty and Orlando.

I guess one of the reasons these two characters feel so ‘right’ to me is that I have always had a penchant for stories written in the back end of the nineteenth century and first part of the twentieth. Because I read a lot of them, the cadence of the language is easy to replicate and the sort of lives people lived don’t need a huge amount of research. Writing the Cambridge Fellows, who inhabit a world either side of the Great War, feels natural.

But before you start thinking, “How boring must those stories be that Charlie loves so much? Surely they’re creaking with age,” can I remind you that we’re talking about books and characters which have never lost their appeal. Sherlock Holmes is as popular today as he was over a hundred years ago and everyone still loves Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows and other tales from that time. Three Men in a Boat reads as freshly as it did when first published, as do the adventures of Raffles at his slashy best. So interesting to read them with a modern eye and see all sorts of things that either the author didn’t intend or put in almost sub-consciously.

The British Library – and other publishers – have been reissuing some of the lost and out of print mysteries from the Golden age, which has allowed us access to many a novel or short story we could never have accessed otherwise. As you can imagine, I’ve been wallowing blissfully in detectives and their detecting, drinking in the way people talked and acted. In my opinion, it’s possibly the best and definitely the lost enjoyable form of research!”

Lessons in Keeping a Dangerous Promise
Blurb: Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing better than being asked to solve mysteries, but when they get commissioned to help someone fulfil a vow he made to a late comrade in arms, matters start to cut too close to home for both of them.

Release date: December 6th

Buy link:
My website:

Posted in Cumbria, fiction, Nature, short stories

Taking flight

The Library of Rejected Beauty is one of those wonderful ideas that only comes along occasionally, but once it does you wonder that nobody thought of it before. Basically, it’s an online magazine dedicated to taking only those stories that have been rejected elsewhere, but which are still valid works in their own right. On a deeper level, it’s a collection of short stories that would perhaps never have seen the light of day without it – and a comment on the way different people judge something as subjective as ‘good’ fiction.

I first came across the magazine a couple of years ago (probably on Twitter) and sent them my short story Fearful Symmetry, which had been blown out of market after market because it’s written in (dare I say it) second person point of view. There’s a good reason why I chose that format, but I realise it’s pretty unpopular. Luckily the Library saw past it to what I still believe is a rather sweet story loosely based on my own childhood, and published it for me.

And now they’ve done it again. I had a lovely email this morning informing me that my latest submission Taking Flight had just gone live on the site. This is a short, magic realist or modern-day fairy tale set on the shores of Windermere, which I wrote for a Mslexia contest. I don’t have much luck with that particular market and it got nowhere, so a few weeks ago I dusted it off and sent it along to LRB, who leaped on it. As their very own Librarian pointed out, it’s a slice of rather unusual escapism that’s all too appropriate during the current lockdown!

You can see the story for yourselves, for free, by clicking here. But don’t just stop at my story – take time to explore the site and find some fictional gems that other magazines rejected, sometimes multiple times. It’s well worth the effort, because there’s some amazing writing here.

Posted in fiction, History, paranormal, short stories, Writing

Wings Over the Battlefield

Crowhurst, R.; The Angel of Mons, c.1914; National Army Museum;

A few days ago my friend and fellow author A L Lester posted a link to a fascinating article about the Angel(s) of Mons, and where the legend might have originated from. I devoured every word, because the tale has always held me spellbound. Reading the article, it seems it may well have been a First World War version of an urban myth, but it’s still rather magical – and intriguing that it seems to have caught the imagination of so much of the population, so quickly.

It also reminded me that I wrote a flash fiction on this very subject, many years ago. I dug it out, blew the dust off, rewrote the rather naff ending, and have posted the result on my Dreamwidth page, where it’s available to read completely free.

Whether or not you believe in the myth, I hope you enjoy the story, which is my attempt to work out what effect such a revelation might have had on an individual who was there and witnessed it.

The lovely picture is from the collection of the National Army Museum and was painted (as a postcard?) by R Crowhurst in about 1914.

Posted in fiction, Fun, News, short stories

Early Valentine’s Day pressie

In spite of lockdown and not being allowed to go anywhere or do anything to celebrate Valentine’s Day, I was determined to mark the occasion. So I’ve dug out an old short story, written in about 2004, I think, for a Torquere Press newsletter, tarted it up a little, and posted it on my Dreamwidth blog.

It’s a sweet but slightly daft little ‘plot, what plot?’ story, although it does have something of a twist in the tale. So if you like m/m romance, coffee, or kisses, why not pop over to Dreamwidth and take a look? You don’t need to be a member and it’s available completely free.

I hope you enjoy it, and manage to have a lovely Valentine’s Day too.

Find the story here: Coffee and Kisses

Posted in fiction, News, short stories, Writing

New fiction archive

I’ve been thinking about ways to share some of my fiction online for some time. Not so much the published works – the books, or the stories in anthologies and magazines – but the untidy heap of older stories, unpublished stories, stories newly out of publication, and excerpts from books and even works-in-progress.

Well, after much prompting (aka gentle nagging!) by fellow writer Jay Mountney, I now have a Dreamwidth account to use for exactly this purpose. So far it only has a couple of short stories posted: one creepy little flash fiction called ‘Noises Off’, previously published in Paragraph Planet, and ‘Concrete Jungle’, a rather weird prose-poem which appeared in online British fiction magazine Ink Sweat & Tears. I’ll be adding more soon, though, so feel free to bookmark the link and check back every now and again.

You can find the account, and both stories, here: FIONA’S DREAMWIDTH PAGE. I hope you like it!

Posted in Books, fiction, News, romance

Just Visiting excerpt

Those nice folk at Stonewall Writers & Readers have posted another excerpt for me, from my latest book Just Visiting.

This is the gay time-travel romance I published a few weeks ago. Rather appropriately (and completely accidentally) it features a fight against inequality and outright racism, as well as mention of a Great Plague!

You can read the excerpt, which is from the very beginning of the story, right here, absolutely free. I hope you enjoy it.


Posted in fiction, News, paranormal, short stories

Vampires, coffins and… dustbins?

Just popping in to mention that I’ve added my vampire flash fiction This Life Sucks to the Free Stuff page on my website.

The story, which was originally published by Pill Hill Press, was inspired by a real-life piece on the news. See if you can guess what it was before you reach the end of the story!

It’s completely free to read so do head over and take a look…

Posted in Architecture, fiction, News

New listing for Liverpool landmark

I was delighted to see the news that Liverpool’s Philharmonic Dining Rooms, more usually known as the Philharmonic pub or even just “the Phil”, has been awarded Grade I Listing for architectural and historic merit.

Although I grew up near Liverpool and went to university there, I’ve only ever been inside the building once. My family didn’t really ‘do’ pubs and I was too nervous as an 18 or 19-year-old to go in by myself. But when I was finally dragged in by some friends, I found it really was every bit as amazing as the descriptions suggest. Pretty much every surface is covered in decoration of some kind, and the result is luxurious, beautiful, but slightly overwhelming. You do start to wonder why a mere pub was treated to so much opulence.

The announcement is well timed for me since the Phil is just around the corner from St Luke’s church (Liverpool’s famous “bombed-out” church, gutted during the second world war) which appears in my new vampire book Echoes of Blood. I didn’t think to use the nearby pub as a location, but I’m hoping to write other books in the same series so there’s time to put that right.

In the meantime, maybe one of my characters will do something I never got the chance to do, which is visit those magnificent gents’ toilets. In my case, the photos will have to be enough!