Tags: real life, writing
…of the last 2 months. First, I worked myself into exhaustion and had to take 2 weeks off to recover, and then last week, a good friend and coworker died of breast cancer, after a really sudden deterioration.
It’s that last one that’s knocked me for a six. Several women in my circle have said to me that we’ve all known someone that this has happened to, and that’s true, but for me this is the first person who’s been really close to me who hasn’t made it. Breast cancer is not in my family, and maybe I am still a bit young to have known that many people with breast cancer, and so my chance of being close with someone who died from it is smaller, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have no desire to repeat this experience again. I have cried inconsolably more in the last 3 weeks than I have in the last 3 years, possibly more than in the last 3 decades. Tomorrow is the funeral, and I am speaking for a few minutes at the service. I’ve decided that since my friend was one of the jolliest, funniest people that I know, that I’ll tell a funny story involving her so I can laugh for a while, and remember her how she’d want to be remembered.
I know things will get better. Even now, they’re better than they were at the beginning of the week. It’s the nature of these things, isn’t it? We can’t crumple into a heap for too long, because the world goes on around us in ways that force our participation. So I’ll get there eventually. It might just take a little while, that’s all.
Needless to say, I’ve done absolutely no writing recently. I feel very bad for those blog visitors who look at my Coming Soon page and constantly see sweet FA. I’m not the type of writer who can write in the face of massive emotional turmoil, I’m afraid. But maybe I’ll put a few words down tonight, and a few more down tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. One foot in front of the other and all that.
Tags: real life, writing, writing progress
How it got to be almost April already, I have no idea. I tell myself I’m going to blog regularly, and then life happens, and I just don’t.
2015 is turning out to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride. I have a very intense and mentally draining day job, which tends to ebb and flow in terms of workload, but I can safely say that we are the busiest that we have been in years, with no sign of it slowing down. Add to that some serious health issues being dealt with by people close to me, and all I can say is thank God it’s Easter next week because I am so tired I can hardly bear it.
Having said that, I have been writing – my current WIP is around 53,000 words at the moment, so not insignificant. Given that I never plan things I’m not sure how long it’ll end up being, but at least 80,000 I’d imagine. So a while to go yet, but it’s getting there.
I hope you’re all well, and getting much more sleep than I am!
Tags: free fiction, Whitewater
Well, it’s Christmas Day here in the Southern Hemisphere, so I’d like to wish all of you who celebrate a merry Christmas, and a joyful festive season to those who don’t. Here’s to a happy and healthy time for all of us.
I have a little something for you, a glimpse into the Christmas of Luke and Cam from Whitewater. I hope you enjoy it.
It started on the first of December, with the noise of something hitting the landing with what could only be described as a whump. Cam stood at the fridge with an unopened beer bottle in his hand and stared at the front door. After a moment, there was the jangle of metal and the scrape of a key in the lock. The door swung open, Luke’s keys swinging from the door knob, and after another moment Luke appeared, red-faced and sweating, and carrying what seemed like twenty shopping bags on each arm.
“What the hell is all that?”
“Dried fruit,” Luke said breathlessly, dumping all the bags along the wall with a grunt. “About a million kilos of it. I think I cut off the circulation in my arms.”
He came towards Cam. He was wearing shorts, and Cam could see a graze on his left shin, bright red against the purpling bruise around it. Luke kissed him, a quick press of lips, and Cam put an arm around him, Luke pressing his sweaty face into the crook of Cam’s neck when Cam tightened the embrace. “You’ve got a bruise on your shin.”
“Tripped up the stairs with my million kilos of fruit,” Luke said, his voice muffled by Cam’s neck. “I’ve got a case of brandy in the car. Want to help me carry it?”
The brandy wasn’t for drinking, unfortunately.
Cam knew that December was a big baking month for Luke, because he’d witnessed it the year before. But they hadn’t been living together then, so the reality of the million kilos of fruit, the sacks of flour, stacks of butter and mountains of six different kinds of sugar in a relatively small space was a little confronting. Never mind the canning equipment and cute decorative jars and bottles for sauces and flavoured vodka. But not being able to move properly around his flat had one upside: getting to watch Luke work. He was just so fucking good at all of it, and he got this look on his face when he was right into whatever he was doing that made Cam want to haul him onto the nearest flat surface and have his way with him. It was a difficult urge to resist.
It was also difficult to resist dried cherries that had been soaked in brandy for a few days. The sound of Luke’s hand smacking down on his knuckles was almost more shocking than the sting of it, and Cam snatched his hand back. “Ow! Just a couple!”
“It was a couple yesterday, and the day before. Keep out of them.” Luke pointed at him, eyebrows drawn, the look in his eyes stern. The effect was ruined just a little by the fact he had a piece of shortbread shaped like a Christmas tree tucked into his palm, and a slight smear of royal icing on his finger. “If I end up not having enough cherries for all of the cakes you’ll be in the doghouse, make no mistake.”
Cam grinned at him, and waggled his eyebrows. “At least then you’ll catch up on your sleep.”
Luke rolled his eyes, glancing over to the living room area before going back to his shortbread, a slight blush on his cheeks and a small smile on his face. Behind him, Cam heard some sniggering, but he ignored it. “Anyway, seems to me that you’d make this whole Christmas thing easier for yourself if you just bought people DVDs. Or socks.”
“Oh, hey, enough of that,” Terry said, right next to his ear, just before a palm slapped the back of his head. “Don’t go putting ideas into the boy’s head. I need more spicy tomato chutney. I’ll die without it.”
“And his strawberry and lime vodka is the nectar of the gods. He didn’t make that one last year. You just wait till you try it.” Aidan leaned across him to filtch one of the shortbreads before following Terry to the door, lifting a hand to wave goodbye. “See you round, mates.”
“Can’t help but notice you didn’t slap his hand,” Cam said as the door closed behind them.
Luke’s slight smile was back. “There are plenty of biscuits at the moment. And he’s a lot less annoying than you.” He put his piping bag down and stepped back from the bench, taking a deep breath. “Right. They’re done, and this round of cakes still has an hour to go.” He paused, picking up a small glass bowl next to his elbow, idly stirring the substance in the bottom of it. “Made too much ganache for the macarons,” he said blandly, but when he looked at Cam, his eyes were practically smouldering. Cam’s stomach flipped. “What do you think we could do with it?” His gaze flicked downwards, then travelled slowly up Cam’s chest. “It’d be a shame for it to go to waste.”
Cam reckoned he would have made a great fireman, if the speed with which he carried Luke—and the ganache—to the bedroom was any indication at all.
Luke and his friends always did their Christmas on the twenty-fourth, before they scattered to Sydney’s four winds to see family on Christmas day. Cam took over the cooking for that, planning a tapas-style menu that could for the most part be prepared ahead and served cold to suit the heat of the December days and avoid turning the flat into a hot box. They sat amongst piles of wrapping paper and gifts, eating with their fingers and drinking strawberry and lime vodka and egg nog that was more brandy than nog. A Southerly came up in the afternoon and blew some of the heat out of the day, and when the sun went down they left the lights off so the Christmas beetles wouldn’t batter themselves to death against the screen door trying to get in. Luke’s eyes shone in the glow of the fairy lights on the tree, his smile the brightest thing in the room, as far as Cam was concerned.
The more Luke drank, the fuzzier around the edges he got, and the more he leaned on Cam for support. By the time the others showed themselves out he was tucked up in the vee of Cam’s legs as Cam sat with his back against the lounge, his left leg crooked and supporting Luke’s lower back as Luke curled up with his right shoulder against Cam’s chest and his face tucked into Cam’s neck. Luke had his legs curled up as tightly as they would go, and Cam’s right hand rested on his knee, holding Luke’s left hand, their fingers intertwined. Cam stroked Luke’s side with his left hand over and over; Luke smelled like strawberries and cinnamon and nutmeg, and when he sighed, like brandy, and Cam breathed it all in, letting himself relax and bask in Luke’s warmth, even while his arse was slowly going numb against the hard floor. If asked he probably would have said Luke was asleep, but eventually Luke shifted slightly, the scruff of his beard rough against Cam’s collarbone as he said softly, “Midnight. It’s Christmas day. Merry Christmas, Cam.”
Cam smiled and put a hand up into Luke’s hair, tugging his face up for a kiss. “Merry Christmas, Luke.”
Tags: interviews, promotion, writing
You would think that after more than 10 years of friendship LJ LaBarthe would have run out of things to ask me about, but she has not! So there is an interview with me over on her blog, where I talk about writing, story locations, and my favourite place in the world.
The post is here – feel free to come over and say hi.
Tags: locations, writing
Some could argue that in the age of the internet, with Google Earth, Google street view, Flickr, etc, that you don’t have to visit a place to write about it. I know of authors who have written novels set in cities that they’ve never set foot in, and I’ve done it myself, never having visited Kalgoorlie and its surrounds, where Eyes Wide Shut and Rust Red: Galvanized are set.
No one’s ever picked me up about any location errors in those books; still, set something in a real place and it’s always a risk that there’ll be something you miss. I almost made a location error in Whitewater – there were plenty of photos of Wylie’s Baths, the place where Luke goes for his daily swim, online for me to look at, beautiful, atmospheric photos that showed me that Wylie’s was just what I wanted in a beachside pool for Luke. But what none of the photos I saw online showed me, what I saw when I got there, was that the pool was graduated, less than ankle deep at the land edge and only about 3 feet or so deep at the sea edge. The photos also failed to show me the big “NO DIVING” warnings painted on the concrete along each of the pool’s edges. Originally I did have Luke and Cam diving into that pool, but in the finished book they walk in, because to remain faithful to the reality of that place, they couldn’t dive.
Now, obviously there is room for poetic license, and writers do that all the time; I made up a whole town in Equilibrium, and made space for a bakery and a beachside café in Coogee for Whitewater where there is no space for those things in the real Coogee. Sometimes, if you need something to be there you just plop it down where you need it and all is right with the world.
Having said all that, if you can visit a place, it’s usually an advantage. Lake Pupuke is a freshwater lake in the middle of the North Shore of Auckland, formed in the craters of two volcanoes (yep, volcanoes). A lake in a volcanic crater sounds like a place where some paranormal happenings might take place, does it not? Observe:
OK, admittedly, the bright, sunny day makes it look like the best place ever for a swim, but people have drowned there, so…yes. We will see what happens. 🙂
Tags: Cutting Out, free fiction, writing
Despite suffering the catastrophic meltdown of my main laptop on Friday night (it died and is dead, never to be backed up again – thank god for Dropbox is all I can say), I have managed to update my Coming Soon page with the news that Cutting Out, the novel-length adaptation of my short story of the same name, will be out mid-year. So yay to having something new out relatively soon!
In the meantime, I will be occupying myself with another freebie, because I accidentally tripped and fell into the Goodreads M/M Romance group’s annual member prompt frenzy. I didn’t mean to, because I do have other things to write, but when you’re confronted with something that looks like this:
how can you possibly resist?
Reader, I couldn’t.
The prompt that goes with the post is this, from the lovely Donna:
This is my life… by day I walk on land and I am as human as the man standing next to me… but by night… the water calls to me and I must return to it… all I have ever wanted is a man who would love me for who I am… both day and night…
I would only ask for a story… as beautiful as this photo
So it gets even better. I have Plans for that young man, is all I can say. If having to survive for the next 2 weeks on my very non-grunty netbook until my replacement computer arrives doesn’t kill me first, anyway.
Tags: Cutting Out, free fiction
I break my accidental blog hiatus to say that I’ve updated my book pages with some changes. First of all, my novella Rust Red: Galvanized, which is a sequel to my free read Eyes Wide Shut, has now gone out of print. So if you wanted to grab it, you’re out of luck, I’m afraid. At least until I decide what I’m going to do with it.
Second of all, the first M/M meetup in Australia has come and gone. I flew over to Sydney to attend it, and had a fab time, which I will attempt to put into words sometime soon. To commemorate that event, an anthology with six stories from some of the attending authors has been produced. Called Blokes in Love, it’s available for free from Smashwords and All Romance ebooks. All the stories have a common thread, in that they’re all set in either Australia or New Zealand, to showcase life down under. As is fitting for a bunch of bods who love M/M and got together to celebrate being from the southern hemisphere!
Contributing authors were AB Gayle, NJ Nielsen, Jess Buffet, Pelaam, Susan Beck and me. My story is called “Cutting Out”, and it’s the story of Shane Cooper and Lachlan Moore, shearers who work the runs of New Zealand. Serena Yates of Rainbow Book Reviews – who came all the way from the UK to attend the Meet, how good is that? – has reviewed the anthology and loved it.
Of Cutting Out, she said:
“…this story about two sheep shearers, one much older than the other, touched me deeply. Shane so desperately wants more than casual encounters with the much younger Lachie, and is devastated when Lachie rejects him. Shane’s situation had me up in arms, railing against the injustices of fate. That was until I got to see things from Lachie’s side, and his reasons for turning down Shane almost made me cry. Be ready for an intense emotional roller coaster as these two men battle their pride and their circumstances!”
Below is an excerpt, for your reading pleasure. The lovely cover is courtesy of Jess Buffett, who went the extra mile and made all contributing authors individual covers, in addition to the anthology cover.
He’d half expected it, but his heart still jolted when he came face to face with Lachie, his shaggy black hair poking out from under the beanie he wore, his dark brown eyes fixed on Shane’s face.
Lachie offered Shane a tentative smile. “Morning, Coop.”
“Morning,” Shane said gruffly, his heart aching as he stared at Lachie for a few seconds longer before picking up his gear and stowing it in the trailer. When he turned around he didn’t look at Lachie again, directing his gaze somewhere in the vicinity of Lachie’s booted feet. “We’ll be leaving in a minute.”
Lachie said, “Okay…” and Shane stepped around him, heading towards the bus’s sliding door, which was now standing open. Don was there, chatting to the team, and the last-minute instructions he had for Shane were a welcome distraction. Being the first one in the van, Shane folded himself into a seat at the front, slouching down as Jade and Di took the driver and passenger seats and the others piled in behind Shane. Shane’s neck and shoulders loosened just a tiny bit as the new rouseabout—Pania—sat beside him, Lachie casting them a look Shane refused to believe was disappointed as he climbed in after her.
Shane slouched down a bit more as they set off and the others started chatting around him. He knew he wouldn’t be allowed to sit quietly and mind his own business straight away, so he wasn’t surprised when someone grabbed the back of his seat and shook it.
“Coop, did you watch the game over the weekend?” Maaka asked, his voice triumphant. “We thrashed the Wallabies good, didn’t we? We thrashed you good and proper!”
“Didn’t watch it,” Shane said, which wasn’t exactly true. He’d watched it, sitting in the corner of his local pub on his own, surrounded by Kiwis and trying not to let anyone hear him say anything like “six” or “fish and chips” while the Aussies were soundly thrashed by the All Blacks. He’d left at half-time, when all hope was lost. It didn’t matter too much; he’d get his own back when the cricket started, because the Black Caps were the shittiest cricket team in the world, and everyone knew it. He’d let his gang take their victories while they could.
Before Maaka could gloat any more, Pania turned to him. “You from Aussie, then?”
Shane had given up trying to get the Kiwis he knew to call Australia the right nickname—Oz—years ago. It was a losing battle. “Yep. South coast of New South Wales,” he said. “Been here about ten years.” Braced for the question they always asked, he wasn’t disappointed.
“What the hell did you come here for? Isn’t it always the other way around, us going there?”
Shane sighed internally. They never got it. “I’m a shearer,” he said, like he always did, because nobody ever seemed to realise that wasn’t an actual answer before he distracted them with another thing he always said. “I like New Zealand, it’s beautiful. You lot don’t appreciate what you’ve got here. You just focus on the bad things and forget about the good.”
That shut them up for a while, and when they’d all mulled that over and started talking again, the conversation turned from him to other, safer topics. Glancing over his shoulder to find Lachie watching him, he turned back around without acknowledging it. Slumping in his seat some more, Shane settled in to brood for the rest of the trip.