The chaos caused by moving books around.

Lilac outside our landing window

For some time I have been meaning to put some of my books into Kindle Unlimited to see whether it would improve the number of readers I can attract. I finally decided to do this for the series The Skilled Investigators because I have committed to a blog for National Crime Reading Month (this June): Bring Crime out of the Closet. The blog tour deals with crime involving mm romance and of course in my series Genef’s brother is gay and his search for a HEA forms the secondary plot arc of the books.

Putting books into KU means removing them from other platforms such as Smashwords as the sites do not play nicely together. No mention of ‘the other place’ is allowed on either. I thought it would be simply a matter of unpublishing then realised I would also have to change the back matter in all my Smashwords books to reflect the fact that the series was no longer available on Smashwords. I duly created a changed back matter that would hopefully not need to be changed again even if I ever put anything else into KU. Instead of a list that could need constant updating I just referred readers to my website and the buy links there. Simple? Well, no, because the act of uploading new versions seemed to snarl up a lot of formatting even though only one paragraph was the issue. I still have to reformat, completely, my two novels The Virgin and the Unicorn and The Seekers because somehow Smashwords have now found various errors that were not, to their knowledge or mine, evident when the books were first published. The books are available on Smashwords but can’t be distributed to other sites because the conversion to Epub fails. I could have understood errors in the new back matter but not in the body of the text.

Then putting the series into KU seemed like a simple procedure but for about 24 hours Amazon seemed to jumble up my entire output. It insisted I only had six books instead of 17. Then it arbitrarily gave a cost of: free with Kindle Unlimited; £230 to buy… though in fact the figure should have read £2.30. The power of the point… Sorted, but quite nerve-racking while it all lasted.  And despite having published the books as a series, with volume numbers etc. carefully noted and all boxes ticked, Amazon doesn’t give the series below each book.

I get the impression that some authors manage to switch books between KU and other non-Amazon sites without all this chaos. I’d love to know how they do it!

I will keep you informed about how the trial of KU goes, and about the blog tour.

The Seekers is now available

My book is now published. Amazon were happy straight away. Smashwords had a problem converting to epub because there were hidden text boxes in the word document. Now sorted. I hope they don’t suddenly reappear in the Kindle version because Amazon don’t seem to give you the opportunity to reupload unless they’ve asked you to!

Buy links:

My new book is on its way

Well, I’ve uploaded it to Amazon and Smashwords, wrestled with possible blurbs (many many thanks to Rebecca Cohen) and agonised over categories, tags, etc. Apparently you’re not expected to have both mm and mf romances in the same story. Real life should clearly not intrude on fiction… I’ve hopefully given each site the correct versions. For example, Smashwords won’t have anything to do with docx whereas that’s Amazon’s preference even though till about a year ago they liked a web page. Their cover sizes differ, too. I’m never convinced they’ll use my correct pen name because of course I have to use my legal/banking name with them for tax purposes. I’m also usually terrified that they’ll shout at me because something has gone drastically wrong. The only time they ever did was when I forgot to tick the ISBN box, but you never know! I’ve chosen a price – at random really, because I can never decide what price things should be. It’s a question of a selling point rather than actual worth, after all. I suspect the Kindle version won’t have a live table of contents because I got stuck, for the first time, on creating one that looked reasonable. Smashwords do it for you provided you format the chapter headings a certain way. Now I’ll live with low level angst until both sites tell me the book is live – and then till Smashwords tell me whether they consider it worthy of distribution to various other platforms. I’ll let you know!

A New Book

I have a new book coming out soon and I’m quite excited. It’s called The Seekers and is a stand-alone completely unconnected to any of my other stories.

It’s all edited and ready but I’ve been struggling with the table of contents which a friend assures me is not obligatory and not really necessary with a novel. Smashwords do it for you, but Amazon expects its authors to be more competent… I usually manage tocs fine but this one keeps disintegrating.

Anyway, I’ve also been struggling with the blurb. The trouble is, the book has more than one romance thread and could appeal to both mm and mf readers. So I haven’t quite known how to pitch it! It grew out of characters initially developed for an online game.

Here goes:

Twin fairy princes and their sister are escaping from an abusive and manipulative father. They cross the ocean in search of a better life and head inland accompanied by a motley crew of companions picked up along the way. There’s a slow burn same sex romance, an m/f romance that strikes like lightning but is destined to last, and a choice for an ace character that will also impact the others. Much of the story involves jewels, mined and sold, which inspired the cover.

What do you think?

Advice desperately needed.

I am having a panic over my latest book.

It’s written, beta’ed, edited, proof read, and formatted to within an inch of its life. The cover is done and approved by my editor. It’s all ready to self publish. Actually, it’s been ready for about a month. And I still love the characters.

So what, you ask, is the problem?

The problem is both simple and insoluble: the right tags for Amazon and Smashwords.

Here’s the planned blurb:

The Seekers follows a group of people on a quest in a fantasy world. It’s a quest to escape rather than to seek. Twin fairy princes and their sister are fleeing their abusive and manipulative father. A dark elf is tired of the humdrum nature of his job as manager of the family mines. A young goblin on his travelling year needs to sell the contents of his pack before returning home. They meet almost by accident and have no idea where they are going. There is one unexpected m/f marriage in the desert and another in the hall of the mountain king. There’s an ACE character who falls in love with travelling and journeys on alone. There’s a slow burn m/m romance that ends in a HEA by the last chapter. So the novel asks what people really want, and gives them their sometimes surprising hearts’ desires.

OK. With me so far?

I get to fiction/fantasy and then get stuck. I want to stress the mm romance but can’t play down the mf ones. None of the romances are particularly explicit and are more interesting in terms of character development and family/friendship group reactions than in terms of sex. And yet – there’s at least one sex scene. It’s a quest rather than a romance and there are no thriller elements though there are moments of extreme danger. But it isn’t by any means a high fantasy quest of the usual kind.

The tag trees on the publishing sites simply don’t allow for much of this.

Any advice welcome!!

A new zine on the block

RoM/Mantic Reads is a new zine edited by my friend Fiona Glass. I was involved years ago when she ran Forbidden Fruit, a similar venture, and I know she expects high standards so if any of you enjoy m/m flash fiction (usually less than 1000 words) and articles I can recommend this! It’s on WordPress so you can ‘follow’ it and get notifications about updates. These will be irregular but reasonably frequent. I’m hoping to contribute myself. Here’s the link, and the first story is published!

An upcoming sale, and February’s television

header pic courtesy of Smashwords

The annual Smashwords Read-an-e-book week starts on Saturday 6th. This time I’ve put the first volume in each of my series into the sale. That means that for a week, Growing Up Fae and The Scroll are free on Smashwords.

Growing up Fae is the first in a four volume fae saga that has plenty of mm, mf and ff romance and lots of adventure.

The Scroll is the first in a six volume fantasy series that follows a trainee detective in an elf kingdom. She has two sidekicks, her gay brother who provides the romance sub plot, and a young dragon.

Please note that all volumes in both series are full length novels. I suspect the low pricing I’ve gone for so far might have made people think they were either novellas or YA so I’ll be looking to put the prices up soon. If you’ve thought about trying them, now’s the moment! There’s more information about both series under the books and buy links tab.

I’m currently working on a new fae saga in a completely different ‘verse.

Meanwhile, I’ve been watching TV quite a lot on February’s long dark evenings.

I’d recommend most of these – they should all still be available.

Death in Paradise *****(bbc iPlayer) I’m not that keen on cosy mystery books but I adore this series with its exotic location and the way it lets little known actors shine.

The Romantics and us with Simon Schama****(bbc iPlayer) Some newish information about some artists though plenty of stuff I already knew. Well presented of course. Note that Desperate Romantics***** is also currently on iPlayer and I loved that series. I had the DVD but am not sure whether it survived Portugal.

Trigger Point**** (itv hub). Some silly plot devices but Vicky McClure is awesome as always and there were times when the suspense was so great I had to cover my eyes.

Mary Beard’s Forbidden Art****(bbc iPlayer) I don’t think she always understands what causes people to dislike a piece of art or be offended by it. She speculates from her own reactions. For example I can’t cope with looking at illustrations of violence because they make me feel the subjects’ pain, not because I think they’re inappropriate subjects for art. There’s enough violence in the news without looking at it as art.

The Green Planet – David Attenborough**** (bbc iPlayer) I tend to fall asleep to the eye candy. I thought the last programme on plants in cities was the most interesting. It kept me awake, anyway.

The Impressionists: Painting and Revolution**** (bbc iPlayer). Some lovely insights into the lives (and locations) of the impressionists. I’ve visited Giverny but was hazy about some of the others.

This one wasn’t really worth the four hours I spent on it.

No Return***(itv hub). A lot of questionable plot points in this story of a family holiday gone horribly wrong (teenager arrested for rape of another boy) and the acting didn’t lift it out of the ordinary.

I’m still watching:

Dogs Behaving Very Badly Ch5

The Responder BBC

This is going to hurt.BBC

The Great Pottery Throwdown Ch4

and we’re thinking about The Promise BBC

Once upon a riverbank: a free story for Valentine’s Day on Monday.

This short mm romance is set in my fae ‘verse. It is very loosely linked to Living Fae in the sense that Harlequin, the main narrator of that series, visited Australia and met one of the characters briefly in one of the volumes. But these are Australian fae, living near the Murray river, north east of Adelaide in South Australia and they are not normally in touch with their British counterparts. I have visited some of the locations I describe, and my account of the wildfires owes much to my own knowledge of the Portuguese fires as well as to my Australian friends’ experiences. So I placed my paranormal romance in a very real.setting. Murray wants to ask Morgan to marry him but the right time for a proposal never seems to arise then events overtake them. Despite the worries about the fires I can assure readers there is a HEA ending to this tale.

I am extremely grateful to my editor, MA Naess. She lives in South Australia and kept an eagle eye on all aspects of the story. I got very confused over the correct usage for Big Bend, partly because I’d just been reading Blake Allwood’s romance series set in the US location known as Big Bend. I made the cover pic/post header based on a photograph by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash.

You’ll find the story under the Free Stuff tab. It’s currently the last in the list. (They are not in publishing order but divided by type and as I said, this falls in my fae ‘verse.) Enjoy!.

The Virgin and the Unicorn

The Virgin and the Unicorn is finally ‘live’!

At last! After some technical problems involving tearing my hair out (after going grey) and relying on wonderful friends, my novel The Virgin and the Unicorn is finally available on Smashwords and Amazon.

Kian, son of a lord of the manor, finds himself with an arranged marriage to a foreign prince. The prince’s sister needs a unicorn horn for her dowry and Kian wonders if his only qualification is his virginity. (Same sex relationships are illegal in his home country.) The marriage brings problems faced by most newly wed couples alongside culture clash and the royal duties that take Alair from Kian’s side. It also brings court rivalries. Eventually, the unicorns of the title appear but are not quite as expected and Kian has no intention of parting one from its magnificent horn. So can the marriage survive, and will the princess ever get her dowry?

The buy links are as follows:



Serious thanks and lots of love to all my FB friends especially Tal Valante, Jackie Keswick and Gynn Silva (and Gynn’s cousin).

Oh, and it appears I need to subscribe to or buy a new version of Word. I think I’ll subscribe then I’ll never have this kind of chaos again. My current copy is 2013 and was state of the art when I bought it – so I suppose in this age of built-in obsolescence it has served me well till the last couple of weeks.

A new book is imminent!

I’m about to publish my latest novel: The Virgin and the Unicorn should be available towards the end of next week. It’s a story of arranged marriage and is a standalone but I’ve left room for a sequel featuring some of the minor characters in more prominent roles.

I’ve finished all the final proofreading, the formatting and the cover. I’ve been working on the blurb which I find harder than the initial novel writing. I’m also working on marketing, which is why I’m actually giving advance information this time!

I never realised, when I started out, just how much time is taken on all the peripheral aspects of publication; time that detracts from writing and that, to be honest, I don’t enjoy. I especially don’t enjoy marketing. It requires a totally different skill set from writing, and I just don’t have it! Besides, tagging and marketing are particularly hard, because although the novel does contain one major sex scene, it’s by no means erotica.

Here’s the blurb (which might have some changed details between now and the time when it appears on Amazon or Smashwords).

“I knew you needed a unicorn and I knew I was a virgin and…”

A same-sex marriage is arranged in a Regency-style alternate universe . Can a hard working prince find wedded bliss despite his duties? Does his sister really need a unicorn horn as her dowry and if so how can she get one? Will a young foreigner ever settle in his new country and accept his own family’s attitudes? Find out how Alair and Kian cope in this tale of discovery and romance. There’s only one explicit sex scene (the wedding night) but the discussions of sex and emotion are probably only suitable for adult readers. A full length novel that explores culture clash, social expectations, the problems that beset any young couple and a new slant on some mythical creatures which turn out to be very real.

And the cover, which won’t change other than to have slightly different sizing for the different sites, is the header picture for this post.