Five things in my WIP

Fiona Glass didn’t tag me but said anyone could join in with the five things in your current WIP meme.

The Seekers (working title) is a stand-alone fantasy based on some characters I developed in an rpg some years ago. I started it during Nanowrimo but always knew it was a long term project. I got about 30k words done in November but have been busy with Christmas ever since. Yesterday I got back to my characters who were getting fretful and feeling ignored. I only managed 500 words but it was a start! I mentioned my current writing in my poem about plot bunnies but thought I’d make it clear what I’m working on at the moment.

Five things in the story?

*A found family on a quest to escape their current lives

*Disinherited royal fairy twins – one gay and one asexual

*A goblin pedlar (on his coming of age travelling year) who is seeking his heart’s desire

*A large talking bird who helps fight bandits

*A fairy princess who needs new shoes for the primce’s ball in the desert

The icon was made for me about fifteen years ago by kethlenda, a friend on Live Journal.

A Free Story for you at Solstice

A free Solstice story for you and some other gifts and price reductions.   My new free novella Across Two Seas is set in the world of my Living Fae Series.  

A quick summary: Eichhorn, from Germany, visiting Alderley Edge in Cheshire (UK), meets Velvet, who has come from Tara (Eire) to lead the Solstice Wild Hunt. Their instant attraction leads to an equally wild affair but will the relationship survive being separated by two seas?  

It takes place after the events in the books and concerns the romance (mm) between two minor characters. I hope it’s accessible to people who haven’t read the series and will give you a glimpse of the world of my fae.   I might get round to formatting it for Smashwords in which case it will be permanently free there, but meanwhile you can find it here on my website as a pdf you can download. To anyone who isn’t sure and prefers e-readers, remember Calibre is a free download and will convert almost anything to the e-book format of your choice.

https://jaymountney.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/across-two-seas.pdf    

That’s my free gift to celebrate the Solstice but the series Living Fae, which is in four volumes, all about the lives and loves of modern fae living on Alderley Edge, is enrolled in the Smashwords end of year sale so they are all half price till Jan 1st. At only $1.49 each and all well over 60k words that’s $5.96 for four full length novels. (I was going to create a box set but time got away from me!)

The titles are:  

Growing Up Fae : the childhood and early adulthood of Harlequin, the narrator, told in diary style. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/720139  

Tales from Tara : relates the experiences of Harlequin and Yarrow, as they separately spend six months on royal guard duty.
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/913151  

Flying Free: recounts the lives and loves of Harlequin’s siblings. (mm, mf and ff) https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/945685  

On The Edge: this brings us up to date on the lives of the fae of Alderley Edge and includes departures and arrivals.
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/999158  

If you don’t read them in that order you will get desperately confused. Across Two Seas follows them but shouldn’t cause confusion as it isn’t primarily about the main characters of the series. There’s a glossary under the series tab but it needs updating and also needs the timeline I keep promising.  

My fae celebrate the Solstice rather than Christmas so this is the perfect date to launch my new story and slash the price on my series at the same time. It’s my preferred holiday, too, though I also go along with the traditions to fit in with everyone around me.  

Do any of you have children? Another free pdf is a children’s book, Answering Amanda, which is in some respects is the prequel to the entire Living Fae series. It works well for children aged 7 – 11 but young teens also like it, finding the concept amusing. Amanda corresponds with a fairy at the bottom of the garden. (Harlequin’s saga started when the fairy’s big brother pestered for his own novel.) It’s in colour – not just the illustrations but some of the text, and the colour is an integral part of the story – so if anyone downloads it for children to read, make sure you use a device that shows colour, not e.g. a b&w Kindle. Guaranteed no sex or violence, but this website has plenty of the former so please don’t let children explore.

https://jaymountney.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/answering-amanda.pdf    


There are shorter free stories available, as most of you know: fantasy, contemporary, sci fi, mostly LGBTQ but some gen. Just go to ‘free stuff”.

https://jaymountney.com/free-fiction/    

Also in the Smashwords sale, and FREE until Jan 1st, is the first book I self published:
Silkskin and the Forest Dwellers is a retold and twisted fairy tale – Snow White, transported and transformed by taking place in mediaeval Great Zimbabwe with a prince instead of a princess. It’s a novella rather than a novel. As Snow White is a traditional holiday and pantomime story, I thought people might like to see the same (but mm) story told about an African prince. It also seemed a good idea to make it free in this time of trying to make sure that Black Lives Matter.  

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/170617  

So don’t forget: Across Two Seas (free), Silkskin (free), Living Fae series (price slashed), Answering Amanda (free) and a link to other freebies.  

Happy Solstice, everyone! Stay safe and well!

Halloween Gift: a gift story for Halloween

Happy Halloween everybody!

When I was at boarding school (UK) we made a big fuss of Halloween. We dressed up and told ghost stories, and the older teenagers put on spooky plays. We had candles and games like bobbing for apples. I have no idea how the staff coped with a lot of excited children in sheets rushing around a dark but candle-lit Victorian building. They must have been foolish or brave or both. I don’t suppose today’s health and safety rules would allow it! That’s the school in the header photo – imagine it with candles in every window and no electric lights on!

American trick or treat hadn’t crossed the Atlantic in those pre-internet days, so we didn’t do that, but in any case, trick or treating was associated with Mischief Night, the night before Bonfire Night in November. Everything nowadays seems to have been amalgamated into one end of October/beginning of November festival, no doubt to satisfy the demands of council-supported firework displays. And we got the American trick or treat bug, though Brit children mostly stick to spooky costumes, not princesses or supermen. In Portugal the older teenagers rush around with very ‘realistic’ ghoulish masks and I’m told by friends that Portugal has declared a 48 hour lockdown to prevent too much mingling this year!

Nowadays, I live in an old stone cottage (seventeenth century) with low ceilings, oak beams and a resident poltergeist. (A next door neighbour who has since moved away actually got her priest to come and do an exorcism.)

I don’t watch scary films – they make me jump, hurt my neck muscles, and give me a headache. But I like ghost stories, just for reading, not viewing!

You might recall my free story last Halloween which was based on our house’s history. The photograph that accompanies it is of our lounge window – where I write! And it’s clear that someone (not us) pebble dashed the front wall, presumably to stop it falling down. The modern facing hasn’t deterred the poltergeist in the slightest.

All of which leads to my free Halloween story for this year. It’s called Halloween Gift and is, like last year’s, in my ‘free stuff’. (See the tabs at the top of the page.) It’s about ghosts and witches (and a cat) but is ff and is (hopefully) cheerful fluff to offset the creepiness of the season.

I’d also like to link to some ficlets I wrote for an October ‘monsterfest’ run by a writers’ group I belong to on Dreamwidth (ushobwri). The ficlets are a mix of original writing and fanfic. They are interspersed with a few posts and poems you might recognise from this site. They can be found at https://archiveofourown.org/collections/Shoobie_Monster_Fest/works/27267490 and you could enjoy exploring the other contributions too.

Sorry this is so late in the day – possibly too late for friends in Australia and NZ – but I committed myself to posting on a FB group and that needed the first ‘publication’ of the freebie. I got a 3.30.pm slot UK time, so…

I don’t suppose many people will allow their children to go trick or treating this year. Greater Manchester, where I live, is in Tier 3 lockdown and visiting other people’s houses is illegal. I suppose you can knock at the door, but think about handing over coins or sweets without adequate hand sanitiser – not recommended!! So I’m going to curl up with some TV (not Halloween related) and then do my usual screen switch-off an hour before bedtime and read a couple of spooky stories.

Whatever you’re doing, enjoy the festival – and stay safe!

Monster Fest

A Dreamwidth community I belong to (ushobwri) has a Monster Fest during October when members are prompted to write about various ‘monsters’ and link to things they have written in the past as well as reccing work they have enjoyed by others. At the end of October they are encouraged to upload their offerings to a collection on AO3.

(At this point they go into support mode for members who are doing nanowrimo in November. The group’s name is a condensation of ‘you should be writing’.)

Not all the work is fanfic. AO3 is happy to host original work if it is part of a fannish collection or uses obvious fannish tropes. Members of the group are mostly interested in fanfic but write original stuff too.

One or two of the things I posted are already on this site in among other ‘free stuff’ and poetry, but most of the ficlets apart from the first one are new. The shifter ficlet is mm romance (nothing explicit) but otherwise the fics are gen. I have still used ‘not rated’ and ‘chose not to warn’ because my volunteer work for AO3 showed me you can never second guess what will trigger readers.

They are, inevitably, very short, because there were only a couple of days between prompts. But taken as a whole I’m quite pleased with them. I hope you will be too!

https://archiveofourown.org/works/27267490

The picture was made for the community as an icon and we were told we could share it. I have no idea who made it.

A choice of tropes: my preferences in fiction.

I was going to write about what appeals to me in the books I give four and five stars then I saw this meme. It’s one a few of my friends have done. I think it was originally conceived for the world of fanfiction but it works for original fiction tastes too, although it doesn’t cover crime stories which I also like. If you want to play, copy and paste the whole thing then post substituting your choices.


Slow burn OR love at first sight

Slow, please. Love at first sight always seems more like lust at first sight and either unrealistic or realistic but doomed. It can be fun, but not for longer stories or novels. Besides, I like following the details of decisions made over time.

Fake dating OR secret dating

Fake dating, because it’s fun to read as it gradually turns into not-so-fake. Secret dating – if that means people are in the closet about their attraction to each other and don’t want to be seen together – no, not for me. Again, if it means one or the other is already in a relationship, it’s a no-no. Not that I don’t think it can happen, and might make a good topic for a novel, but it isn’t a trope I go for.

Enemies to lovers OR best friends to lovers

I like both. If I have to choose I’ll have best friends to lovers because, as with the previous tropes, I like the slow realisation. With the enemies trope it sort of depends why they’re enemies in the first place.

Oh no there’s only one bed OR long distance with correspondence

I like long distance correspondence fic. I find it amusing and it’s usually a nice slow burn. I’m not keen on the one bed trope – it’s been done to death, and I don’t find it all that realistic.  

Fantasy AU OR modern AU

I write fantasy… So I’ll say fantasy but I prefer urban or sci fi fantasy and don’t go much for the heroic kind unless it happens to be Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. Modern AUs are fine in their own way – I assume this mostly refers to fanfiction. I can’t be bothered with many coffee shop fics, and college fics are a turn-off, but sticking the characters of e.g. SGA in an urban American setting can be interesting. I’ve personally written modern police characters in a mediaeval setting and find using a different period/location is a good way of exploring the core character. I do think quite often the writer ends up with an original story, merely hung on the names and character traits of the originals.

Smut OR fluff

I don’t really like smut if that means erotica. I tend to skim long sex scenes to get to the next bit of plot. I don’t really like fluff, either, since I like stories to have something serious about them as well as the romance element. Above all, I’m there for the story, not the details of the sex or romance. If I have to choose, I suppose fluff. I have read some very sweet short stories but I would quickly lose interest if they were longer.

Mutual pining OR domestic bliss

Mutual pining can be interesting. Domestic bliss rarely is. The details of other people’s domestic trivia simply don’t appeal. Having said that, I do like domestic details – if the characters don’t seem to shop, cook or eat I start to suspend disbelief.

Alternate universe OR future fic

Both please. In fanfiction I’m very happy with AUs in which canon characters don’t die, or make irrevocable bad decisions. I’ll even write it/have written it. I like future fic – I think good sci fi lets us explore our own society in a new context, and the same goes for any story set in a future, near or distant.

One shot OR multi-chapter

I have read lots of short stories I’ve enjoyed, but if I have to choose, the longer the better. And I do like people to break their work into discrete chapters, preferably with chapter headings. I actually seek out trilogies, too. I have a horror of unfinished WIPs, though, so each book has to stand reasonably alone. Think Robert Jordan… until Brad Sanderson took over there were a lot of angst-ridden fans, and at the moment the same applies to George RR Martin

Kid fic OR road trip fic

Kid fic if it’s well written. But I suppose that goes for anything, really. Road trips are OK as part of a longer story but I wouldn’t choose to read something with a road trip as the focus unless it was written by a friend and I felt obliged…

Reincarnation OR character death

Neither if it can be helped. I am very wary about reincarnation or anything similar that presupposes religious premises. And I dislike major character death quite intensely though I don’t mind if someone is recovering from losing a loved one who died before the story starts.

Arranged marriage OR accidental marriage

I think arranged marriage is interesting as a concept. In fact, I’ve just written a novel based around it. I find accidental marriage unlikely and can be irritated by the trope. It almost has to be a comedy and I don’t choose comedies often.

Time travel OR isolated together

Isolated together stories (e.g. snowed in cabin) can lead to some good character exploration. I don’t like time travel much.

Neighbours OR roommates

I think I prefer neighbours. Room mates tend to be college fic or very young adult fic which is not really my scene. Neighbours demand some serious world building which I enjoy.


Sci-fi AU OR magic AU

I like sci fi – as I’ve mentioned once or twice already. I also like magical universes and write them… So both, please! If I have to choose I’ll go with the magic but be sad about abandoning the space. Having said that, I don’t much like space opera any more than I like earth-based military fiction. So it rather depends on the context.

Bodyswap OR genderbend

I’m not particularly keen on either of these. Bodyswap is difficult for authors to present in a way that lets me suspend disbelief. Genderbend can be interesting, but frankly, I’d sooner read a story about someone who was trans, or cross dressing, or something more seriously in need of fictional exploration.

Angst OR crack

What a strange pair of tropes to set against each other. I’ve read brilliant versions of both and can’t choose.

Apocalyptic OR mundane

I quite like post apocalypse future fic but am rarely keen on zombies. Mundane modern stories have to be extremely good to hold my interest over a whole novel but some authors do a fantastic job.

Enemy Mine: another fanfiction story

https://archiveofourown.org/works/26286616

I’m telling you about my fanfiction again because I spent a great deal of time this year writing for the Fandom Trumps Hate and Fandom For Australia auctions in which someone bids for your work. The highest bidder gets a fic and pays to a specified charity. I foolishly agreed to write another fic for my second highest bidder in FTH and am still working on that.

My highest bidder wanted Stargate Atlantis, which is one of my fandoms, and requested an unusual human/alien pairing. I had great fun researching and writing the story and so far, people seem to like it.

Writing fanfiction is interesting and in no way do I regard it as less valuable than my original work. It does require slightly different skills with regard to plot, location and character, but it demands the same attention to language and story structure.

I explored the breakdown of team dynamics in the face of one member moving in a different direction, and possible aspects of the culture of an alien race who were only ever depicted in the show as a stereotypical enemy.

The story is very loosely based on canon, with an alternative perspective on some events, until near the end when it veers off into an alternative universe altogether with a happy ending. I think if you know the show at all you will probably find it all makes sense, but I also think anyone who doesn’t know the show and characters might find the story confusing at times because I condensed various references to canon in order not to spend ages writing about things fans already know.

Readers might notice that all the chapter headings are based on quotations from various books, shows and songs. The graphics are by me. The title is the title of a film I like which also has a human/alien romance though nothing else in common with my story.

Anyway, some of you might like sci-fi and some of you might like the human/alien romance. If so, give it a try and I hope you enjoy it!

The ballad of o guerreiro

Just a brief post to let you know what I’ve been doing. The first of my fandom auction fics is posted. My winner in the Fandom For |Australia auction is a close friend and when she asked for this particular pairing I had to watch the show rapidly! My story has spoilers for Season 1 so unless you’ve either watched or don’t intend to watch, don’t read! It was hard work turning ten minutes of screen time into ten thousand words but I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I hope some of you will enjoy it too. I especially hope my giftee likes it!

I don’t often mention my fanfic here but thought I would since it occupied a huge chunk of my time and was also for a very worthwhile cause. I think between us my winner and I contributed a great deal more than buying the odd bracelet!

So, if you’d like to read the result, see https://archiveofourown.org/works/26159467

The River: final volume in my elf detective series.

Finally!

The last volume in my Skilled Investigator series is live on Amazon and Smashwords and will be distributed to Smashwords’ varied retailers. (I use Smashwords as well as Amazon to let people choose which e-reader they prefer.)

This time around I’ve had a battle with formatting because Word, which both sites prefer, chose to hide formatting from me and the mess only showed up when Smashwords tried converting to EPub. I think Word hates me. I certainly hate it back! It really shouldn’t be necessary to convert to EPub to see hidden formatting. I know all about pilcrows etc. but this really was hidden – different font sizes appearing in other formats when they were perfect in the source document. As Smashwords said, the only answer was to ‘nuke’ the formatting via Notepad and start again.

It seems like forever since I started this series, and indeed the first volume was already a chaos of plans and notes before I published anything else. I’ve lived with the characters and world in my mind for about ten years now, longer than some relationships last. Genef has, I hope, grown during the series and is now a fully fledged Investigator, mentoring Scratch, who is nearing the end of his own training. There will soon be a dragon Investigator in the Guild after this final case, which takes place in Stoneyhill, Genef’s childhood home, and closely concerns both her friends and the mine where she found Scratch hatching from his egg. There’s the usual gay romance sub-plot for Fel, who finds a happy ending, and there’s romantic hope for Genef too. In case that sounds too sweet and sickly, let me add that there is plenty of death, disappearance and detection for Genef and her dragon companion to solve. I’ll miss them but it was perhaps time we parted company.

Now that this series, and the Living Fae one, are finished, I’m wondering whether to try creating boxed sets. Any thoughts?

I’ve also written a short story in the Living Fae ‘verse, and that’s with my editor; I expect to post it as a ‘freebie’ round about Christmas. Besides that I’ve been working on the rewrites for my stories written for the fandom auctions.

Anyway, all that, especially the formatting fiasco, explains why I’ve been fairly absent this month. I haven’t even managed my monthly in-depth review. All I can say is that I was away on holiday for a week then plunged into formatting which stole my brain.

Meanwhile, buy links:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1039364
Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08GGC7M32

Serendipity

(A free flashfic for Easter)

It started in a shared taxi. The rain was bucketing down and they both seized the door handle, each asserting themselves and their right to a ride, to get out of the weather.

No, wait, it started at the concert, when their eyes met across the auditorium, quite by accident.

But it started before that.

*****

James was walking up from the beach, musing on the wonder of rocks and patches of thrift, when he saw the discarded wrapper. He picked it up automatically, intending to find the nearest bin. Green was both his surname and his nature. As he was about to drop it in, muttering about litter louts and the environment, something made him look at it properly. It was the outside paper strip from a foil wrapped chocolate bar; as well as advertising the name of the product, it claimed in loud letters: YOU MAY BE A WINNER. James shrugged, but something, the weather, serendipity, environmental gnomes, made him put it in his pocket and continue homewards. He phoned the number, amused at himself and faintly guilty at the cost; these prize numbers were all about making money through the phone charges. It seemed he had won a ticket to a concert at the huge new arena. A pianist was performing a varied programme and he was free on Saturday evening – as usual. A serious (and unattached), gay environmentalist who didn’t enjoy ‘the scene’ was rarely out at weekends.

Even then, at the last moment he almost didn’t go. The sky was stormy and he had a new DVD to watch. But his sister phoned and told him he ought to get out more, so, although he didn’t think this was quite what she meant, he set off.

The young man at the ticket office appreciated the dark gold curls and the honed physique of the prize winner but didn’t even dare flutter his eyelashes at the aloof expression on the conventionally handsome face. He told James to enjoy himself and watched him head for the stairs, then turned his attention to the next in line.

*****

Iain stared petulantly at the computer screen. He was so tired of trying to conform. His wife had worked out his ‘secret’ so his ‘good’ behaviour counted for nothing, and their acrimonious divorce had left him struggling to make ends meet, so ‘bad’ behaviour was unlikely to occur with any regularity. He surfed the net and ended up on eBay, bidding without much hope for a ticket to see his favourite pianist at a local venue. To his surprise, he won the bid at his lowest, rather than his highest figure, and hurried to pay the seller and wait for the post. Meanwhile, he continued to work at the programming assignment he’d accepted.

On the day of the concert he did grocery shopping in the afternoon and got drenched in one of the sudden downpours that seemed the norm for the month. By the time he’d showered, changed and dried his long black hair, scrunching it back tightly into a pony tail, he thought he might be too late for the concert, but public transport was on his side for once.

He gave a quick glance at the people in the queue, glad he had his ticket already, and didn’t need to wait for fate to be kind, then followed a group of people up to the doors that led to the stands of seating.

*****

During the interval, James looked round, wondering why this particular concert had attracted such a huge audience. It was good, but not, he thought, good enough to merit such a turnout; it wasn’t as if they could all be prize winners. He noticed the rapt expression on the face of the dark haired man directly across the aisle. He must have been looking hard, because their eyes met, in a sort of recognition, although they had never seen each other before. He was sure of that.

*****

Iain was still in a music-induced reverie when he felt eyes on him, and looked up to meet the gaze of a blond stranger. He turned away, flushing slightly and cross with himself at his automatic response. He was free to look, now, but when he did, the other man had turned his head and the moment had gone.

*****

Except that when they left, it was raining.

The entire crowd was trying to find taxis, which are as rare as jewels, especially when the weather makes them desirable.

If they hadn’t, if it hadn’t, and so on. But they had, and it did, all by happy accident. Their hands met and they shared the taxi.

*****

Yesterday.

Yesterday he had been solitary, slightly sad and somewhat serious.

Yesterday the most important thing in his life had been his job as a park ranger.

Yesterday he had been accustomed to living alone, to having to rely on fantasy for fulfilment.

Yesterday he had expected to continue in his self-imposed isolation, withdrawn from the social whirl that had sickened him with its superficial pleasures.

Yesterday his greatest loves had been the red squirrels and the quarrelsome gulls of the coastline he guarded.

Yesterday he had sighed when his sister told him to ‘get a life’.

Yesterday it had rained.

Today, there was Iain, and the sun was shining.

*****

A whirlwind spring and summer were followed by a whirlwind wedding and a hastily organised honeymoon.

The hotel was perfect, golden stone dreaming in the sun, and a room with a view of the mountains, snow-capped as he’d hoped. The place was run by a gay couple who made the atmosphere as comfortable as the rooms. Iain was pleased with their choice and hoped James was too. After freshening up and a few hugs (they’d keep the main course till later), they decided on a walk before dinner and went out to explore the village.

*****

The steep, narrow, stone stairs that stood in for streets started from the hotel’s back courtyard. Strings of onions and garlic hung from wooden balconies and pots of geraniums and chrysanthemums straggled up the smaller steps at each entrance. One doorway boasted a smart rose with striped petals and an air of modernity at odds with its surroundings. Further up a woman was washing her steps, and the rest of the street by default as the water gushed then trickled down the hill. Ian wondered if the rose looked forward to a daily deluge. James thought it was merely being brave and bold in the face of adversity as roses should always be.

There were people about. A couple of builders stood by their open-backed trucks blocking the cobbled main street (mercifully not stepped), chatting and exchanging news with passers-by. Iain was bemused by the strong similarity of all the men he saw. The younger ones, from tradesmen to homeward-bound clerks, were all short, dark-haired and stocky, quite handsome despite a decided lack of sophistication in their manner and clothing. At about sixty they turned inexplicably into replicas of garden gnomes, gnarled and stooped, prone to wearing outlandish caps and scarves. Despite the cloudless sky they all, young and old, carried umbrellas slung across their shoulders or hung from the back of their collars. He felt like a giant and even James, shorter than him by a good few inches, towered over the locals. He felt feckless, too, unencumbered by any protection from the unlikely rain.

The women were shorter still, dark-haired and pretty, calling to each other across the narrow lanes from one balcony to another. The sixties rule seemed to apply to them too. James said he thought the origins of northern European witches might have started here in these mountain villages. A crone whose nose almost met her chin shouted a cheerful greeting to them. James thought his Portuguese good enough to reply with a cheerful ‘bom dia’ but the woman cackled and repeated her ‘boa noite’ just as the church bells rang a dolorous seven, echoed thirty seconds later by a slower church clock, further down the valley.

*****

Iain laughed at James’s mortified blush and pulled him down yet another street stair. Perhaps they could return to the hotel a different way. The small post office was still open but the only postcards on offer were tired views of the last skiing season in the mountain. It was a good job not many of their friends would expect postcards from a honeymoon couple. Their parents were a different matter and they would have to look further afield. A few of the gnomes were gossiping on stone seats around the bandstand that evidently served as a village centre. Faded posters advertised delights that by the pictorial content included grape harvests, new wine and dancing.

The lane narrowed further, taking them between gardens full of glowing flowers and ripening grapes. A dog suggested they were trespassing and was shouted into silence by its owner. A cat watched them pass and merely licked its tail, settling more firmly on the gatepost. They came out at the front of the hotel again, seeing the late summer reds and oranges of the vines on the slopes beneath them and hearing the clink of glasses in the outdoor dining area.

It was, Iain reflected, like a film-set, perhaps for a fairy tale or fantasy, and yet he’d never felt so real, so alive. He turned to his partner and found an answering smile. Yes, he concluded, they’d chosen the perfect place. And the perfect person to share it with.

As they entered the hotel they heard music over the loudspeakers in the dining room. It was piano music and was, Iain realised, ‘their’ piece, the one played just before the interval in which their eyes had met. He looked at James and knew he’d recognised it too. And so they went in to dinner accompanied by the sound that had brought them together in the first place, and brought them here.

Happy Valentine’s Day 2020

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I intended to write a story for you. However, the plot bunny grew to stupid proportions and necessitated quite a bit of research so will not be ready for publication for some time. By the time I realised that, it was getting too late to write anything else. So, as I was about to add pdf versions of some of my work to my free fiction page I decided that would have to be my Valentine gift to you this year. People who have been following my posts for some time will be familiar with the works but at least can now download to read at their convenience and on any device. So I’ll post now for the sake of my Australian friends. Click on the free stuff tab and download anything you want to read, re-read or share! Enjoy!