Monday, 15 August 2016

New Release: Haven's Revenge by Phetra H. Novak

Title: Haven's Revenge (Caddo Norse #1)
Author: Phetra H. Novak
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Fantasy, Adventure, Adult
Published: 15th August, 2016
Length: 82,000 words (272 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78645-066-1
eBook ISBN: 978-1-78645-067-8
Formats: ebook (epub, mobi, PDF)

Haven Naranjo is a proud Caddo Indian, with a frightening past. He was a mere fifteen-year-old boy when he found his parents, part of his tribe, and his high-school sweetheart slaughtered by a wereman gone mad. Falling victim to a system unable to deal with a shattered young mind, Haven finally gives up on himself. He grows up to be bitter and resentful toward the creatures he hates: werewolves.

Alexander Prescott has known since he hit puberty that Haven is his true mate. But there's one problem: Alexander comes from a large werewolf clan and is the true vessel of the Fenrir Ulv, destined to become the leader of all supernatural beings: the King of Wolves.

Alexander knows how to charm his, and his wolf's, way into the grumpy Caddo Indian man's heart. But fate has other plans for them.

When war between the Asa Gods and the Fenrir Ulv threatens, which side will the damaged Haven choose? Will he find a way of trusting those, especially Alexander, who he feels betrayed him? Or will he trust the words of strangers, who promise to make his quest of seeing all shifters dead a reality?

Haven's Revenge is a story of an emotional journey for a whole community. It's about finding acceptance not just from others but in yourself.

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Reading Haven's Revenge, I realised something that's kind of obvious. It was something I already knew, but I've read so many stories over the past five years - not all of them good - that I'd forgotten.

And it's this:

If a story is well-written, the genre doesn't matter.

See, I've never been keen on shifter stories. I've always found them too contrived and a bit...odd, to put it politely. I avidly watch Supernatural, and I'm prepared to temporarily invest my belief in fantastic creatures for an hour of Dean and Sam Winchester exuding masculinity in the obliteration of evil, but it's only TV.

A book is different. The images are more vivid (results may vary), the scenery less significant, and whilst I'm more than happy for Dean Winchester to be about as deep as a grunting puddle, in books, for me, characterisation is everything.

That depth of characterisation is what I find lacking in most shifter stories, regardless of whether they're romance, horror or thriller. The average shifter is portrayed as a mostly human hybrid who finds his/her shifting an inconvenience, albeit one that comes with a few added advantages - great sense of smell, ability to leap from buildings and land unharmed on all fours, or whatever. The shape-shifting is an add-on to the human condition rather than integral to the character's being.

This is NOT how it is with Haven's Revenge, which, on one level, is an insightful allegory of real-world oppression. The shifter community exist in secrecy, finding support and companionship in each other and trusted allies. For centuries, they've been happy to keep to themselves, but times are changing, and they're preparing to come out into the open - not to shove their shifter identity in non-shifters' faces; they're coming out because there are great dangers facing both human and shifter kind.

So there's a broader, overarching political element to Haven's Revenge. It's not heavy in this regard, but it lends a wonderful layer of authenticity to the story.

There's also the cultural aspect of Haven's Revenge, which marries Caddo and Norse history and legend, and again, it's subtle. The horrifying opening chapter takes place in a Caddo community, and stepping outside the story, it could have been anywhere. But within the context of the story, the events are foretold. Young Haven endures a terrible encounter that is life-changing, although, for him, it's a case of 'what doesn't kill you makes you rude and obnoxious'.

On the Norse side, there are the children of the Fenrir Ulv, wolf shifters scattered all over the world, but it is the Prescotts on which the story focuses - a large clan whose alpha and his family run the Prescott ranch close to the Caddo community where Haven and his grandparents reside. The author's research really pays off in the way she's been able to intricately weave the legends into the narrative so that they become one with the story as it unfolds.

Lastly, and most importantly, there is the story of Haven's redemption and Alexander Prescott's integral role in that. Haven and Alexander are utterly brilliant characters. On the one hand, there's Haven's sweary muttering and constant grumpiness, and he has every right to act that way, but at times it's hilarious. On the other, there's Alexander's total understatement of the significant. He's going to be the King of Wolves, yet his only concern is getting Haven on side. Granted, the two goals are interdependent, but Alexander is so down-to-earth and real, he's a joy to read about.

Alongside Haven and Alexander, there is a rich cast of supporting characters in the form of Haven's grandparents, Alexander's family, the guys working the ranch, the owners of bars, restaurants and stores in the local town, the Asa Guards, the human politicians, even Mrs. F-ing Harris and Anthony. Here again, the author has done an outstanding job of introducing this large cast gradually, giving the reader a chance to get to know each and every one of them. I know when an author gets this right for me by my depth of feeling towards the characters and how much they make me laugh, cry, rage or simply sit back and wonder how they're doing.

That's what I'm doing right now - wondering how Sean, Milton, a certain politician and his silver fox, and all those other secondary characters are getting along and whether I'll meet any of them again in book two.

Yes, indeed, there is a book two. That's the mandatory shameless plug - if you love Haven's Revenge even half as much as I did, you'll thank me later.

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About Phetra H. Novak
Phetra often refers to herself as the odd man out, the dorky book nerd. She'd rather spend time with a good book or making up fantastic stories with even more fantastic characters, than live in the real world, dealing with real people.

The real world is strange, in a very non-humorous way, and people in it complicate it to the point of wearing you out. In the written word world, whether it's someone else's words or her own, things might get busy, complicated, and even downright painful, but somewhere along the line, a hero's always on the horizon. He's probably not a prim and proper, church-going pretty-boy since the author prefers rebellious men and women who don't follow the protocols of society.

One of her favorite sayings is that 'Only dead fish follow the stream,' and well she ain't no dead fish.

Phetra lives with her family - two children, a domestic partner, and their two cats in Gothenburg, Sweden. When reading her books, you'll notice she always finds a way to bring her own culture into her stories.

The joy of reading and writing comes from her childhood and is something she has always loved, and been passionate to share with others. Phetra loves hearing from her readers, even with ideas of what they'd like to come next.

If you are looking for her, the best place to start looking is at home in the quietest corner of the house, where she'll be curled up with either her Kindle, reading or with her laptop typing away.

Blog: Seduce Me With Words

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Saturday, 9 July 2016

New Release: Shorts - Stories from Beneath the Rainbow by Hans M Hirschi

Title: Shorts - Stories from Beneath the Rainbow
Author: Hans M Hirschi
Genre: Crime, Thrillers and Mystery, LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships, Short Stories, Literary, Adult
Published: 9th July, 2016
Length: 78,000 words (254 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978 1 78645 059 3 / eBook: 978 1 78645 060 9 / ASIN: B01GMVWN46
Formats: ebook (epub, mobi, PDF)

"Shorts - Stories from Beneath the Rainbow" is a collection of LGBTQ-themed short stories. In happy or dire circumstances, this collection offers glimpses into contemporary LGBTQ life from many different angles and perspectives, and from diverse cultures -

a beggar trying to survive, the mother of a drug addict, a groom on his wedding day, a gay family running from impending war, a refugee above the Arctic circle, a bullied kid, a gay man witnessing a crime, a rushed middle-aged man, a banker in love, a lesbian mom in Las Vegas, a public servant getting ready for her intern, an Alzheimer patient in Bombay, a cop in Los Angeles, a doctor in Atlanta, a man celebrating Christmas on his own, a ruthless killer, a survivor of a WWII concentration camp

- all different, yet alike in their humanity.

"Shorts - Stories from Beneath the Rainbow" is a kaleidoscope, a colorful sample of the rainbow in its true form: life.

* * * * *

This collection of short stories from Hans M Hirschi is, in some ways, very different from his previous works, the first and most obvious being that he usually writes novels, whereas the longest story in this collection - 'Nightmare' - is 10,600 words. Hans also usually writes exclusively about gay men's experience - not surprisingly, given he is a gay man. More than that, he's a vocal member of the LGBTQ community, both on and offline, and is undoubtedly an inspiration to many.

In this collection, Hans explores a number of different LGBTQ identities in different settings and from different walks of life. I won't repeat what's in the blurb (see above), but there are representations of lesbian, gay and trans* identities within these stories. In some cases, the character's identity is the main driver of the narrative; for instance, 'Alex' explores what is tragically too common an experience of LGBTQ youth, and other stories also tackle life-threatening discrimination. Then there are stories, such as 'Sandra's Grandma' and 'The Scarf', that incidentally feature an LGBTQ character.

In all, this is a fairly eclectic collection - crime thrillers, romances, family sagas and snapshots - of mostly contemporary tales of life beneath the rainbow. And just as in real life, there are gentle, loving characters who readers will want to hug and wrap up in a warm snuggly blanket, and there are characters who readers will want to throttle (with a scarf).

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About Hans M Hirschi
Hans M Hirschi has been writing stories since childhood. As an adult, the demands of corporate life put an end to his fiction for more than twenty years. A global executive in training, he has traveled the world and published several non-fiction titles as well as four well-received novels. The birth of his son provided him with the opportunity to rekindle his love of creative writing, where he expresses his deep passion for a better world through love and tolerance. Hans lives with his husband and son on a small island off the west coast of Sweden.

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Thursday, 2 June 2016

New Release: Picture Us by Shayla Mist

Title: Picture Us
Author: Shayla Mist
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Short Stories, Adult
Published: 2nd June, 2016
Length: 18,000 words (72 pages) approx.
ISBN: 978 1 78645 053 1
Formats: ebook (epub, mobi, PDF)

Chance has lost two things in the past year: his only remaining family and his passion for photography. He didn't expect to get any of them back or to gain anything new, until he finds out his childhood crush, Terrance, is gay. But either Terrance isn't interested in him or he has a real hang-up about dating younger men. Can Chance make him change his mind?

* * * * *

Shayla Mist writes the quirkiest short stories that are lighthearted and fun, yet not, because they do that thing - as life does - of juxtaposing blossoming romance against the big ugly stuff, on this occasion, the loss of one's family.

But that's how love (and its variant forms) works. It doesn't wait for the right moment. It just happens, and we can fight it all we want, pretend to not feel it, or attempt to postpone it until the timing is better, but if it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen.

So that's where we find poor Chance, who's lost his only remaining family, and Terrance, the family friend who is young enough to have loved Chance's aunt and uncle as if they were his own parents yet old enough for both Chance and Terrance to question the appropriateness of their feelings towards each other. It's all legal - they're both adults, but it can be difficult, even later in adulthood, to perceive the child we knew in adolescence as a fully grown adult.

Then there's Chance's BFF, who is fabulous. He needs a book of his own. Really. It would be so much fun.

I love the characters, the setting, the setup. This short story / novella (18k) leans towards classic M/M Romance and doesn't pretend to be anything else. Thus, you can expect a bit of sexy time along the way, and an ending that will make you go "Awww!"

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About Shayla Mist
Shayla made her debut in the writing world during elementary school with a heart-breaking story about how her grandma's chicks died from an unknown disease. It was published in the school newspaper, spurring a significant amount of pitiful looks directed her way. Being a stubborn Aquarius, she kept on striving, publishing cheesy love poetry, an endeavor that thankfully proved to be far more successful. Her writing life changed dramatically when she read her first yaoi manga and discovered her real calling. Imagining guys together has become her favorite pastime.

Aside from writing, daydreaming about men and devouring any M/M book she can get her hands on and, she also loves manga, kpop, jrock, classical music, crafts and art. An earnest romantic, she's always been convinced there's a soulmate out there, searching for her. It appears he's been lost. Maybe word hasn't gotten to him that cars are faster than white horses. In case you've seen a prince on a white horse (though a sports car would be preferable), Shayla would very much appreciate if you let her know.

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Thursday, 26 May 2016

Uber Release Day! New Stories from Claire Davis and Al Stewart, Ofelia Gränd, and Debbie McGowan

Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace!
by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

Published: 26th May, 2016
Length: 29,000 words (126 pages) approx.
Language: English
ISBN: 978 1 78645 055 5
Category: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships, Contemporary Fiction, New Adult

First love - coming of age - family - acceptance

When Charlie was eight years old, his mum bought him a microscope for his birthday. Since then, he's known how he wants to spend his life. There have been trials, and challenges, but now - finally - the day is here for him to start college with his lifelong friend Anthony Pace.

Anthony is a red-haired force of nature. He writes poetry about their enemies and eagerly participates in all Charlie's science experiments without understanding a word. Every morning, he waits at the end of their street so they can get the bus together.

But things are changing.

Families are important, and complex. Charlie's mum hasn't been well, and his relationship with Anthony begins to shine like a different star in the sky.

Can everything come together in this explosion of physics and chemicals that Charlie calls life? Will Anthony Pace ever share his poems with the world, and can the Chihuahua, Princess Arabella, ever learn to stop licking?

WARNING: includes moderately explicit scenes of intimacy between consenting young adult males.

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There are no words that will do justice to how good this story is.

But I'm going to try.

Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace! is a 'British' young/new adult romance about Charlie Woods and Anthony Pace - two young men who have been friends for most of their lives (red-car incidents aside). It's a novella - around the 29k mark - but my goodness, does it pack an emotional punch.

Funny, silly, sad, tragic, romantic, naïve, sweet, real...the narrative swoops and soars over and over again. I variously (and repeatedly) laughed, cried, took a moment to gather my thoughts - shook my head in wonder at how brilliant the writing is. It's stunning.

The characters are different. No, they're unique. A lot of authors endeavour to portray characters like Charlie and Anthony and get so bogged down in how those characters come across to other people, they don't adequately convey how the characters feel, live and experience the world. With this story, the connection is beyond sympathy or empathy with the characters; it's insight. It's breathing the dust particles, feeling the sunlight, seeing the freckles and the boing-boing hair.

I love every story written by Claire Davis and Al Stewart, but this one is special. Read it; you'll see.

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About Claire Davis and Al Stewart:
Website: Claire Davis and Al Stewart's Website

Al Stewart and Claire Davis write about people who are not perfect. Claire embraces the dark side, and Al the good side of the force. Their work is there for a fusion of both, mixed often with kink and humour.

Al Stewart on Goodreads
Claire Davis on Goodreads

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Purchase Links:

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Falling Through
by Ofelia Gränd

Language: English
Published: 26th May, 2016
Length: 12,690 words (50 pages) approx.  
ISBN: 978 1 78645 056 2
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Short Stories, Adult, Paranormal

Travis is running himself ragged. He's trying to keep two jobs just to pay his rent. If he has to flirt with some creepy old women at the pub to get a little extra tip money then so be it. One day, he'll have someone special waiting for him when he gets back home from work, or is that too much to ask? Right now isn't the best of times to get a boyfriend anyway since Travis is going mad, but one day... Every so often, Travis gets the feeling of not being alone, and sometimes, he sees things. But he tries to stay positive; maybe there's a strapping young fella waiting for him in the looney bin.

Larry's existence was dead boring until Travis moved in. Now he spends his time watching Travis, fantasising about touching him, kissing him... Their movie nights would be a bit cosier if Travis knew he was there, but sometimes, you have to settle for what you can get. As far as roommates go, Travis is the best Larry has ever had, and it isn't Travis's fault he can't see Larry - no one has been able to since the day he died.

When Travis loses one of his jobs, both he and Larry fear for their future. Larry can't imagine being without Travis, and Travis is desperate to find a way to pay his bills. While Travis searches for a solution to his money problems Larry has to decide if he's willing to risk existence as he knows it for a chance of a better life.

* * * * *

This is an Ofelia Gränd love story. It's paranormal, not too grim, with two lovely young chaps in it, one of whom is...well, dead. But never mind. Love has a habit of prevailing in such situations.

It's a fun story, quite lighthearted - certainly with less of the supremely dark humour found in Deadly Sugar - but it does touch on some of the everyday troubles we all know (alas) along the way.

Larry...He's one cool dude. Quiff, leather jacket, struts his ghostly stuff like a pro.

Travis...He's a lovely guy, deserving of a touch of shivery-spooky-ghostly-voyeur happiness in his downtrodden life.

This is a wonderful short read with a solid 'happy for now' ending and definite scope for a sequel (which I'd very, very, very much like).

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About Ofelia Gränd

Ofelia Gränd lives on the southern west coast of Sweden with her husband and their three children. At the moment she's on parental leave. She could give up her glamorous life as a stay-at-home mom, and go back to her job as a teacher if she wanted to. But why not take advantage of the situation when she's living in a parental leave utopia? Enough about her being a parent, you think, and you're quite right. Ofelia is a No Poo practiser, a pescatarian who bakes her own bread and makes her own soap. Now you wished that we'd stuck to the children, don't you?

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Those Jeffries Boys
by Debbie McGowan

Language: English
Published: 26th May, 2016
Length: 101k words (344 pages) approx.
ISBN: 978 1 78645 045 6
Category: Fiction
Genre: Romance and Relationships, Contemporary Fiction, General Fiction

Three brothers: doting dads, dealing with the everyday challenges of fatherhood.

Following the imprisonment of his ex-girlfriend, Mike Jeffries has one priority: his six-month-old daughter, Bethan. Between caring for her and being a self-employed painter and decorator, he's already got enough on his plate, without his sisters-in-law insisting he's ready to date again. Now Bethan's grandmother intends to fight him for custody, and Mike's not sure he can rise to it.

Always up for an adventure, Andy Jeffries has finally found the perfect challenge: keeping the woman he loves satisfied and raising their twin daughters, Rosie and Sorsha. The problem is everyone else thinks he needs more, and dealing with his brothers' trials and tribulations means he's getting it, whether he wants it or not.

Dan Jeffries is about to become a father for the second time, and he's terrified, not that he's the kind of man to admit it. But after the premature birth of his daughter, Shu, he's taking no chances until his son is safely delivered into this world, which means putting a hold on his hunt for the perfect family home. However, the house he wants comes with a very big price tag, and not of the monetary kind.

Those Jeffries Boys is a novel-length character special. Part of Hiding Behind The Couch series. This story follows chronologically from Two By Two (Season Six) and continues in Reunions (Season Seven).

WARNING: this story contains intimate (moderately explicit) scenes between consenting opposite sex (F/M) adults.

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About Debbie McGowan
Blog: De-blog

I am an author, publisher and a social scientist. My academic specialism is gender and sexual politics and identity, so you can expect this to crop up now and then in my writing too! Not in an "in your face" kind of way - subtlety wins hearts and minds.

I write character-based/driven fiction - mostly general/contemporary, some (M/M and F/M) romance and a bit of sci-fi fantasy (light). Basically, I write about life. I've written a few stand alone novels and short stories, but my main work is the Hiding Behind The Couch series, which these days I'm referring to as a literary soap opera.

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Saturday, 30 April 2016




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Thursday, 28 April 2016

New Release: Spin Play by Alexis Woods

Title: Spin Play
Author: Alexis Woods
Genre: Contemporary MM Romance
Published: 30th April, 2016
Length: 14,000 words (58 pages) approx.

Now in his midthirties, college professor Ben, is tired of playing around. He's more than ready to stop with the hide-and-seek and start with the manhunt. The fantasy of his perfect mate becomes reality when the tables are turned during an evening out to celebrate his birthday. The music is cranked up loud, and the startlingly flexible Sawyer tempts Ben with his seductive moves. Ben's willing to play Sawyer's game, taking a chance on the adventure with all its twists and turns, and hoping his decision will be the winning move that will last a lifetime.

* * * * *

Southern Jersey Shores is a great series of short stories from Alexis Woods, the common themes running through them being the setting, of course (the clue's in the series name), and that they're MM romances.

What I love about a series like this is that each story focuses on different main characters, whilst also featuring cameo appearances by the characters from the other stories - there's something rather fun about recognising the characters behaving in familiar ways and pausing to think 'yep, that sounds like something Dare would do'.

What's also great is the subtle, everyday almost-snarky humour that lightens some fairly intense moments, and there are plenty of those throughout the series, perhaps more so in Ultimate Summer (SJS #3) than any of the other stories.

Spin Play is the story of Ben, a college professor who is single and comes across as being quite serious and responsible. His best friends, on the other hand, are not, and make what can only be described as irresponsible mistakes, always with the best of intentions. Ben is, without a doubt, the grown-up in this story, and in some ways is wise beyond his years.

What follows, therefore, is quite an interesting juxtaposition as the rather sedate Ben and 'startlingly flexible' Sawyer engage in a sexy courtship that had the Blondie song 'One Way or Another' stuck in my head the entire time I was editing.

As with the previous Southern Jersey Shores stories, Spin Play is a short story, complete in its own right and entirely stand-alone, but readers of the series will enjoy catching glimpses of characters from the previous stories.

Spin Play is Book 4 in the Southern Jersey Shores series.

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About the Author:
Always an avid reader and colorful dreamer, it was only a matter of time before taking pen to paper, oftentimes literally. I sing under my breath, tap my toes and swing my hips, much to the delight of my coworkers and friends. I’m a firm believer in every song tells a story and every story has a song, so each story I write has a song or theme, oftentimes both, behind it. I freely admit that becoming a romance author is the best mid-life crisis a girl could ever have.

Friday, 8 April 2016

New Release: Mission Accomplished by Sheila Kendall

Title: Mission Accomplished
Author: Sheila Kendall
Genre: contemporary/historical/romance/paranormal
Published: 8th April, 2016
Length: 65,800 words (230 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-039-5 / eBook: 978-1-78645-040-1
Formats: paperback, ebook (epub, mobi, PDF)

When government cutbacks leave RAF pilot Steve Wilson without a job, he decides to invest his redundancy money in a family-run museum.

But Steve has an ulterior motive: a mission that leads him to a remote Yorkshire Dales village to fulfil a lifelong ambition, unaware of the repercussions his actions will have on the villagers and his own family...

...once long-buried secrets come to the surface. 

* * * * *

A novel that crosses genres, Mission Accomplished is the kind of story that's got a bit of everything - mystery, supernatural and romance, both historical and contemporary - indeed, the threads of past and present are entwined from the outset, although it is only as the mystery unfolds just how deeply entwined they are.

The setting is a village in the Yorkshire dales, with just the kinds of people you'd expect to find there, and what is particularly wonderful is that, aside from the main protagonists, most of the characters are older people, which is how it should be, because it is a story across two generations (grandparents/grandchildren).

Saying more would be tricky without giving away spoilers. Suffice to say, digging up the past is always bound to unearth a few unexpected surprises, often the kind that are better left undisturbed.

A great read, well-written, intriguing and with a touching conclusion.

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About Sheila Kendall
I was born and bred in Yorkshire, close to the Dales, and now live in Leeds. I am married and have two sons and a soon-to-be daughter-in-law.

I've been writing for most of my life. It's what keeps me sane, although I have to admit it isn't always easy, helped as I invariably am by our two gangster cats, aptly named Bonnie and Clyde.

Most of my inspiration comes from life, although not necessarily mine. I'm well past the heroine stage now! Like many other writers, one of my favourite pastimes is people watching, so, if you ever see a strange woman sitting scribbling in a café, beware! It could be me...

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