Posted in Books

Rainbow Snippets: an expensive home

It’s that time of week again when my fellow Rainbow Snippetters post their excerpts and then report back at the Facebook group.

I mentioned Ghosts Galore in my post about blurb-wrestling yesterday so I thought I’d choose a few lines from that. This is from near the start of the book, where main character Adam is wrestling with the cost of running an ancient, if much-loved (and haunted) home. It’s a little longer than the regulation six lines (so sue me lol) but helps to explain why the lure of payment from a TV production company is so tempting…

His eyes strayed to the nearest window—a Gothic affair with a pointed top—and the view of the garden it gave. He could be out there now, painting the early tulips or the new shoots on the larch, not stuck indoors on a rare and beautiful day. But there’d been a letter in the post yesterday, with an official-looking header and some threatening red ink. It was, all too probably, the tax return or bust.

            He scribbled some numbers on a bit of scrap paper and blanched. Was that even possible? Oh, hang on, he’d got the decimal point in the wrong place. Well, that helped. A bit. ‛Why we chose to live in a draughty, falling-down-round-our-ears place like this instead of a nice, easy to maintain modern house…’ He glanced at the portrait of his grandfather that hung in pride of place over the mantelpiece. The eyes were as kind as ever, but there seemed to be a rueful expression on the old man’s face. An expression that said ‘Not much I could do about that’. Which was true, since Gramps had inherited Greystones Hall from his father, and his father’s father before that, all the way back to some improbable date not long after the Normans had first marched into the local area. And he had to admit it was a wonderful place to live. Just… an extravagance he could barely afford…

The snippet gives a good flavour of the very tongue-in-cheek tone of the book. The whole thing was an absolute joy to write and I still giggle at the flouncing mediums, unbeliever producers and dotty vicars that pepper the pages. If you like the sound of it you can buy the book for only $3.92 (or your local equivalent) on Kindle – or of course it’s free on Kindle Unlimited.

Posted in read around the rainbow, Writing

Read Around the Rainbow: Writing Blurbs

Ah, yes, the blurb. Those two or three paragraphs on the back cover of a book (or the virtual equivalent if it’s an e-book) that tell you who and what the story’s about. Nothing to them, really. I mean, you’ve already written an entire book. How hard can a few paragraphs be?

Well, that hard, actually. First of all you need to squash the entire contents of the book into a few hundred words. Next you need to make sure all the really important bits are covered. And finally, you need to make sure it sounds tempting enough that people will actually want to read the damn thing. (After all, there’s no point sweating blood over a novel only for the blurb to make it sound about as entertaining as Dostoevsky on a bad day.) And let me tell you, that can be hard work.

I normally wait until I’ve either finished a book, or am pretty close to finishing it, before I even attempt to write a blurb. I need to know how the thing ends, and what the main themes are, and how the main characters are affected. This is mostly because I’m a ‟pantser”, and write as the inspiration (and the characters) take me, so I don’t always know exactly what will happen, or how much things will change. So if I write the blurb too soon it’ll be wrong, and that would just be a waste of time.

Once I know how the book’s going to end, I sometimes find that breaking off and writing the blurb can give me the inspiration I need to actually finish the thing. That and a good idea of the cover art seem to give me clarity, and something to aim for, in the final few pages or chapters, which can otherwise be really hard to write. And if the book is really clear in my mind, I don’t have too much trouble coming up with at least the bare bones of a blurb, because by then I know who the main characters are, what they want, and what they do or don’t get. Conversely, if I’m struggling with the book, I’ll almost certainly struggle with the blurb – because how do you summarise something you don’t fully understand?

The blurb I found easiest of all my books to write, I think, was the one for Ghosts Galore, which is such a fun romp that it was almost a joy to summarise it. I wrote several versions, but the one I eventually settled on was this. Would it tempt you to read the book?** I certainly hope so!

Cash-strapped artist Adam Price is the owner of Greystones Hall, an ancient manor house he shares with a plethora of ghosts. He adores the place, but life is a constant battle to pay the bills and he’s lonely, too, following the death of his beloved grandfather two years earlier.

Lonely, that is, until the Ghosts Galore crew offer to film an episode at Greystones Hall. Adam’s a bit dubious about letting them loose in his home, but allows himself to be persuaded by the fee they’ll be paying him. Led by handsome producer Carl, dotty medium Stella and pleasant-but-nondescript historian Guy, they fill the house with wiring, cameras, lights and people. But when filming starts, things soon go wrong. The crew turn out to be using dodgy tricks. Carl refuses to believe in ghosts in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. And Stella stirs up a new and malevolent spirit, more dangerous than any that have been known at Greystones Hall before, who seems to have a violent dislike of Adam’s art.

As Carl and Stella disappear and the local vicar is powerless to help, Adam turns to Guy—who has a secret of his own—for help. Together they must solve a centuries-old mystery involving lost paintings, a priest hole, and a death that might have caused all the negative energy in the house. But that’s not all the pair discover, on a night of adventure that also brings unexpected romance…

Overall then, writing blurbs can be challenging. But they’re something I don’t mind too much, and can be useful in getting a book’s main points straight in my own mind. And compared to the complete and utter torture that is writing a synopsis, they’re a gentle stroll in the local park.

**If that blurb really did inspire you, you can find more about Ghosts Galore including a buy link at my website here.

And don’t forget to check out the other webring members’ blogs to find out how they do or don’t cope with blurbs!

K.L. Noone :: A.L. Lester :: Nell Iris :: Ofelia Grand :: Holly Day :: Addison Albright :: Ellie Thomas :: Amy Spector :: Lillian Francis

Image credit: Steven R Southard

Posted in Writing

Read Around the Rainbow: How does your main character react to insults?

This sounds like fun! Maybe I could line all my main characters up in a room, say horrible things to them and see what happens? Oh, yeah, that’s right – they’re fictional. Shame. I was looking forward to that.

In the absence of such silliness I can only fall back on my own feelings about how various characters might react. In most cases I suspect it’s fairly similar, since most of my M.C.s are typical British men suffering from Great British Reserve, who tend to keep their emotions to themselves and pretend everything is okay even when it isn’t (although mercifully that is beginning to change, but that’s a whole other story). Faced with an insult I suspect most of them would simply swallow their annoyance and remain polite, if somewhat icy, towards the perpetrator. The British equivalent of a sarcastic ‟Have a nice day,” through clenched teeth, perhaps.

Take Nat in December Roses, for instance. He’s just as reserved, and quietly damaged, as all my characters. And he has an even more pressing reason for hiding his emotional responses because he’s a gay soldier in the British Army in the mid 1990s, at a time when it was still illegal for homosexuals to serve in the armed forces. So he’s well used to maintaining the old ‛stiff upper lip’ in all but the most extreme cases. Towards the end of the book, though, things are changing and he’s coming to terms with his own sexuality and the possibility that he might not have to hide it any more. That means he can be a bit less careful about the way he responds, as this snippet shows.

The doctor, a thin pallid chap with a lisp, wittered for a full fifteen minutes about all the jobs he wouldn’t be able to do with residual shell-shock and a dodgy leg. When he’d finally run out of steam the careers bloke gave him a patronising smile and said, ‛Don’t worry, Sergeant, there are still plenty of openings for a man like you. You’re still fit and healthy, even if you are a…’
‛Watch it,’ Nat growled. He didn’t often lose his temper but he’d been told when he did the results were spectacular. Sure enough, the man took a step back and ran one finger round a collar that was apparently restricting him. ‛Er, erm, recovering from your injuries. Yes. That’s what I was going to say.’
Nat didn’t believe him for a second. ‛And anyway, the name’s Mr Brook. I stopped being a sergeant yesterday when all the paperwork was signed.’
‛Er, yes, of course, Ser— that is, Mr Brook. Now, as I was about to say…’
But he couldn’t add much to what the doctor had already said. There was the usual guff about security work and managing a post office or a pub, but precious little else. The civil service would be barred to him, apparently, because the army weren’t prepared to give him a reference, and casual labour such as construction work was limited because of his leg. ‛So what can I do?’ he asked eventually, exasperated beyond endurance.
‛Er, well, there’s always a family business,’ said the careers man, wiping his hands on his trouser legs. ‛A lot of our fellows go into that when they leave…’
‛My dad’s retired,’ said Nat. ‛And guess what—he was a civil servant. And he’s not speaking to me because he doesn’t approve of my lifestyle. Not very encouraging, really, is it?’

This probably still sounds very reserved and non-threatening to most non-British people but to us it’s quite an outburst! And although Nat is very cross, he’s sufficiently well trained as a soldier not to need to resort to shouting or violence – he can get his point across with the tone of his voice and the unspoken threat of physical strength alone.

The exception is probably Ghosts Galore’s Adam, who is just as quiet, reserved and slightly hapless as my other characters, but possesses a rebellious streak of mischief that he isn’t above using to get his own back. So when the TV producer who’s come to his very haunted home, Greystones Hall, to film the ghosts tells him he doesn’t believe in the supernatural, Adam and his grandfather plan a trick…

‛It’ll only take a minute. Come and see. It’s really weird.’ He led the way back to the studio with Carl marching at his side and behind Carl a smaller figure with grey hair and the inevitable pipe. Gramps, as good as his word, had come along too.
‛I came to check if this was still secure,’ he explained, letting them in. ‛The key was where you’d left it, the door was locked and it didn’t look as though anyone else had been near the place. But when I stuck my head round the door, I found this.’ Stepping aside to give Carl an uninterrupted view, he pointed dramatically to his work bench at the far end of the room. Amongst the clutter of brushes and palettes and water jars and pots and tubes of paint, a small space had been cleared. Standing upright in the exact centre of the space was a small, thin hardback book. And balanced perfectly on top of that was a much heavier tome, lying on its side.
It had taken him several minutes to get the books to stand up like that and he was proud of the result. Carl, though, smiled in a superior way. ‛Oh, come on, you don’t expect me to fall for that old chestnut, do you? You’ve been in here and stacked them up yourself.’
‛I could have.’ Adam crossed his fingers behind his back. ‛But why would I need to? It sounds like you’ve got plenty going on without me having to do that.’ He paused as a particularly high-pitched shriek echoed through the house, perfectly timed to prove his point. ‛I just thought maybe… if the whole house is overrun, the ghosts might congregate in the only room that was quiet.’
Carl still wore an infuriatingly smug grin. ‛Nice try,’ he began, but was interrupted by a soft click, closely followed by a moan. ‛What the‒?’
‛Search me.’ Adam tried to look innocent, with limited success. The hi-fi’s loop function had kicked the first CD in at exactly the right time. The moan was followed by a chorus of muffled whispering voices, rising and falling in volume and tone. Here and there a word stood out with more clarity than the rest: bleeding, headless and revenge. He knew full well it was just a recording he and an ex-boyfriend had made one night whilst they were messing about, but the sound system was well-hidden and the room’s acoustics were tossing the voices about in unexpected ways. He glanced at Carl, wondering whether it would be enough to dent the producer’s unshakeable confidence.
The grin was still in place. ‛Oh, well done, you’ve wired the place for sound too. Not a bad effort—even I can’t see where you’ve hidden it.’
Torn between hope and disappointment, Adam fought his facial muscles again and won. He shrugged. ‛Suit yourself. You already told me you don’t believe in ghosts so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Never mind—I’ll let you get back to work.’
‛Cheers.’ Carl’s grin became less smug and more conspiratorial. ‛Things are a bit hectic at the moment. But if you want to get me on my own this badly, I’m sure we could find some nice dark corners to investigate together later on.’
Was Carl saying what he seemed to be? A quick glance said yes, he really was. Yet another blush raced up Adam’s cheeks and he cursed the family’s pallid colouring. ‛Oh God, no, I didn’t… that is, I mean, it would be good but that’s not…’
‛Whatever you say.’ Carl blew him a kiss and turned back towards the door—just as Gramps set off on his party trick with the bag of flour…

Chaos ensues, which is only partly because of Adam’s mischievousness, but if you want to see what happens I’m afraid you’ll have to buy the book! You can find it on Kindle or Kindle Unlimited here, and December Roses is also available on both Kindle and KU.

Who knows, one of these days I might write about a character who isn’t afraid to let his emotions show, or who is so damaged that he follows people up dark alleys and beats seven shades of something out of them at the least provocation. Until then, you’ll have to make do with lots of ‟Mr Quiet-and-Subtles”, and hopefully enjoy some of the wry humour behind my characters’ everyday reactions.

Don’t forget to check out the other webring members’ entertaining takes on a really fun topic, here:

K.L. Noone :: A.L. Lester :: Nell Iris :: Ofelia Grand :: Holly Day :: Addison Albright :: Ellie Thomas :: Amy Spector

Pic credit: Icons8 Team on

Posted in reviews

New Ghosts Galore Review

There wasn’t time to mention it yesterday, but QueeRomanceInk posted a super new review of Ghosts Galore at their site which totally made my day.

The reviewer described the book as “a well-written short paranormal story with a smattering of spooky moments, humor and a budding romance”, and said she wished she’d read it sooner, having had it on her to-be-read pile for ages.

If you want to read the whole review, you can find it here. And of course, if you fancy reading the book and discovering those spooky moments, or that budding romance, for yourself, you can find that here.

My heartfelt thanks to Maryann, who reviewed the book, and to J Scott Coatsworth for organising it. Between you, you brightened up a cold, foggy November day!

Posted in Interviews, Promotion, Writing

RoM/Mantic Reads: Meet the Contributors

Today, over at RoM/Mantic Reads magazine, I’ve turned the spotlight on myself and answered a string of questions about myself and my writing. These include how many books I’ve written, which one is/was my favourite, how many bookcases I have, and what my favourite dinosaur is (clue: it might have something to do with the picture above). There’s also a snippet from my most recent book, Ghosts Galore, and an explanation of its title.

For all that and more, head over to RoM/Mantic Reads and read the “interview”. I hope it’s entertaining and gives a bit of insight into my writing process. And Dippy says hello.

Posted in Newsletter

Latest newsletter – and free story!

I forgot to mention the other day that my October newsletter is out now, and features quite a bit of news. For starters there’s some more detail about our recent holiday in Scotland, especially a visit to the Charles Rennie Mackintosh gem at The Hill House, Helensburgh, which was an absolute highlight.

Then there’s more news and a cover reveal for my new book Embers of Bridges (written under my Tess Makovesky pen name) which is due out any day now, plus a lengthy book review of my latest m/m romance read, The God’s Eye by Anna Butler, which I loved.

And finally (phew) there’s Can’t Fool Me, a brand new story in the Ghosts Galore universe, featuring Adam, Guy and Gramps getting their own back on an arrogant journalist who’s dissed the ghosts of Greystones Hall. (The cover art – above – features a possible version of Gramps, and isn’t meant to suggest any kind of older character romance.)

Fancy getting your hands on any or all of that? Then why not sign up for the newsletter? It’s free, it only comes out once a month (apart from the very occasional newsflash) and there’s an additional free story, Monster in the Maze, available when you sign up. So go on, what are you waiting for?!

Posted in Events

Two have a Strawberry Tea

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…

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 Books, LGBT, News, paranormal, reviews, romance

Some lovely reviews

My latest book Ghosts Galore has been out for a couple of weeks now and it’s already getting some smashing reviews. But don’t just take my word for it – here’s a selection of the best:

‘…one of those charming, offbeat, feel-good books I’ll enjoy reading again and again.’
Ellie Thomas, author of The Spice of Life

‘Oh my, this was a hoot! A truly fun and intense read, especially when the naughty Spirit shows up.’
Maureen on Goodreads

‘A somewhat scatterbrained main character and his not so alive grandfather. Loved them both.’
Amazon-Kunde on Amazon

It’s always a delight to know readers are enjoying my books and I’m blown away by such lovely comments. If you want to read Ghosts Galore and see what all the fuss is about, then you can find it here:

Amazon UK :: Amazon US

And thank you to all my readers for making this my best self-published book launch yet!

Posted in Books, LGBT, paranormal, romance

Ghosts Galore excerpt

Just in case anyone’s wondering whether to buy my latest book but doesn’t know what to expect, I thought I’d post an excerpt to give you some idea of the style. This particular bit is from the middle of the book, when main character Adam is starting to have doubts about the TV crew who’ve come to film his haunted home, and even bigger doubts about the show’s producer Carl. I hope you enjoy it – if so, you can find the book here.

‛So, what now?’ said Carl, frowning and tapping two fingers, dit-dit, dit-dit, on the wall. ‛You’ve dragged me up here for some reason, I assume?’

            ‛Now we wait.’

            ‛And how long’s that going to take? In case you hadn’t noticed I’ve got a TV programme to run. And couldn’t you have found somewhere more comfortable? There isn’t even a chair up here and we’ve got nothing to eat or drink.’

            Adam was usually a patient man, but everyone has a limit and he’d just hit his. He was worried about the house, he was worried about his paintings and that dark thing in his studio; most of all he was worried about Gramps. ‛Believe me,’ he said in a taut voice, ‛if things get nasty then sitting down and eating will be the least of our worries. I’m scared. I don’t know what Stella thought she was doing, but she’s quite possibly disturbed something that was best left undisturbed.’

            ‛Okay,’ Carl flicked his pony-tail in a restless way, but some of the peevishness left his face. He reached for Adam’s arm. ‛Is there anything I can do to help?’

            ‛Not really.’ Adam tried to smile but wasn’t sure it succeeded very well. ‛There are people helping us, even if you can’t see them.’

            ‛Okaaaay,’ said Carl again, investing a whole plethora of emotions into a single word. ‛Er, are we talking about ghosts here? Only you know I don’t actually believe‒’

            ‛I don’t care what you don’t believe in, it’s happening.’ Adam forgot to be polite. ‛I’ll admit the thing with the books and the flour was mostly a trick, but this is real, and it could be dangerous. So just sit there and shut up for a minute while I try to get a handle on what’s going on.’

            Carl closed his mouth and opened his eyes very wide, and for a minute Adam thought he’d gone too far. But then a rueful look came into the producer’s eyes, and his mouth relaxed again into a small but mischievous smile. ‛Wow, you can get quite aggressive when you’re worked up, can’t you? I like that in a man.’

            ‛That’s nice,’ said Adam. ‛But you’re still not sitting down.’

            ‛Nowhere to sit. In case you hadn’t noticed. I’m an Important Television Producer. I don’t do floors.’

            ‛Oh, of course. Silly of me.’ Adam snapped his fingers, and a couple of large tapestry cushions took flight from the Great Hall below, up and over the balcony, to land with a faint thud at their feet. He had no idea which of the ghosts had tossed them up, but the result could hardly have been more spectacular. ‛Thank you,’ he called, and kicked one of the cushions across to Carl...

The photo is one I took a couple of years ago at Blackwell Arts & Crafts House near Windermere. Not quite tapestry, but it’s near enough!