Sunday, 30 August 2009

An Excerpt from “Lost & Found”

Here’s the second of the excerpts I promised you. This one is from Lost & Found and contains some adult material. Honestly, I’d be surprised if you were a regular reader of this blog and were offended by scenes of sex but you never know, so it’s probably best if I warn you.

So consider yourself duly warned – don’t read this excerpt if you don’t want to read about body parts doing things to the body parts of another person.

Lost & Found is available now from the Phaze Books website, Fictionwise, All Romance e-books and other online book stores. It is also available for your Kindle or mobipocket device. In this excerpt Chris and Beth attend her brother's funeral and then 'celebrate life' together.



Beth has lost the most important person in her life—her baby brother. The one person she wants to comfort her lives three thousand miles and five time zones away. And to cap it all, she's fallen out with her father again. Could things possibly get any worse?

Let Marc Nobbs take you on an emotional rollercoaster. From the heart-wrenching sorrow of a military funeral to the hedonistic heights of winning big in Vegas. From the pain of losing a loved one to the passionate consummation of a long-distance love affair. And running through it is The Colonel—a stubborn old mule who won't let some guy from across the pond steal his daughter away.


Captain Lance Burnett of the US Army 1st Infantry Division was afforded a military funeral at his father’s request. The cortège left his parents’ house and moved slowly east through the town to the cemetery. Townspeople lined the streets and followed behind.

The honor guard carried the casket from the caisson to grave, where it waited to be lowered into the ground. The Colonel and Ellen stood on one side, the honor guard on the other. Forty yards away, a lone bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”

The whole town had turned out to pay their respects to the fallen hero. A line of black limousines sat parked behind the small stage that had been set up for the cast of scheduled speakers. Television crews and photographers were herded into an area behind yellow ropes off to the side. Their whirrs and shutter clicks added an unwanted soundtrack to the somber atmosphere.

Chris had never seen anything like it. It wasn’t a time of private grief—it was showbiz. He stayed in the background with Beth, who didn’t care for the glare of the cameras. He held her hand as she cried silently and dried her eyes with the handkerchief that he’d given her.

Chris had often heard how grief made women appear sexy. He’d never experienced it and had always doubted it. But it was true. Beth looked stunning dressed in a small black hat, a short black jacket over a white blouse, a tight black skirt and black stockings. Chris knew they were stockings and not pantyhose because he’d seen her putting them on that morning when he’d accidentally walked in on her in the bathroom. Through her grief, Beth gave off an air of sexuality that Chris fought hard to resist. There was something carnal about the commemoration of death that made him want to celebrate life and all its pleasures. And he wanted to celebrate with Beth.

All eyes turned to the local Democratic senator, Hal Richards, when took to the stage to speak. “Captain Burnett was the sort of man that we all wish we could be. High school football star. Academically gifted. He was an exemplary solider. Strong of body and of will, he was liked and admired by both his superiors and those under his command. He was sent to fight a war in which the people of America no longer believe—but he was a courageous man and because of his courage there are people alive today who would otherwise be dead. Those people owe Captain Burnett their freedom and their lives. Like so many of our brave soldiers, Captain Burnett followed his orders and saved lives and asked for nothing in return but our gratitude and support. Captain Burnett was a proud man. A man of honor. And he did his duty. And for that, the people of this town, of this country, thank him.”

“Damn hypocrite,” whispered Beth through her tears.

“How so?” Chris whispered back.

“You should have heard him two years ago. He was in full support of the war.”

Captain Burnett’s commanding officer spoke next. Colonel Martin R. James told the crowd how Captain Burnett had displayed great valor and acted beyond the call of duty. He described how he rescued a kidnapped television crew. “His actions were that of a true American Hero.” There was no mistaking the passion and pride in his voice. “Unfortunately, those actions cost him his life. In recognition of his valor, I have this morning formally nominated him for the Medal of Honor—the highest award our government can bestow. This is the first time I’ve had the privilege to make such a nomination and I have no doubt that the award will be approved—I only wish that Captain Burnett were still with us to collect the medal from the President for himself.” He finished his speech with a salute to the casket and the words, “God speed, Captain.”

Two members of the honor guard removed the flag from the casket, neatly folded it, and handed it to Colonel Burnett while the remaining members of the honor guard fired a three-volley salute. Ellen had cried throughout the funeral. The Colonel had remained stoic until he took the flag, then he too broke down. As the casket was lowered into the ground, a sole bugle played “Taps.” Ellen and The Colonel stepped to the edge of the grave. Ellen threw flowers into it. The Colonel covered his son’s casket with a handful of soil. It didn’t take long for the crowd to disperse—the show was over. Beth remained still until she and Chris were the only people left. Tears had trickled down her cheeks and left streaks of make-up. Her eyes were red and puffy.

“You okay?” Chris asked.

Beth nodded. “I will be. Eventually.”

“Should we go?”

“In a sec. There’s a wake at my folk’s place. I just want to say goodbye properly first.”

They stepped to the grave’s edge, and Beth stared into it. The casket was covered with red roses and a sprinkling of soil. She remained silent. Chris guessed that she was talking to her brother. Finally she said, “I’m so sorry little brother. I’m so, so sorry.” She looked at Chris. “This is all my fault, you know. I should have stopped him from going to West Point. I should have talked him into doing what he wanted, not what The Colonel wanted. He should never have been over there.”

“You can’t blame yourself, Munchkin. He made his own choices.”

“I know.” She wiped her eyes with her jacket sleeve. “He thought this might happen you know. Before he left, he told me he might come home in a body bag. I told him he was being silly. All he had to do was keep his head down and stay away from trouble. And do you know what he said?”


“He said, ‘does that sound like me, sis?’ He was right. It didn’t sound like him at all.”

“Excuse me, missy,” said an old man with a shovel who was standing behind them. “Are you going to be here much longer? ’Cause we gotta fill in this here hole before the next one arrives.”

Beth shook her head. “No. No, I’m done.” A solitary tear trickled down her cheek. She kissed the single red rose she was holding and threw it into the grave with the others. “Goodbye, Lance.” She sobbed great, gut-wrenching sobs as Chris put his arm around her and led her away. He took her back to his rented car and drove to her house.

“We should be at my folk’s. I’m expected.”

“I don’t know the way. Besides, I thought you might like to freshen up first.”

She looked at him and smiled. “Thanks, that’s really thoughtful. I won’t be long. I promise.”

Beth was as good as her word. Within fifteen minutes, they had turned into the Burnett’s street. It was lined with parked cars. “There’s a parking lot in Lincoln Gardens,” Beth said. “It’s only a short walk.”

Before they went through the gate into the Burnett’s backyard, Beth stopped and faced Chris. “Whatever happens this afternoon, whatever’s said, I want you to know that I appreciate you being here for me more than anything.”

“What do you think is going to happen?”

“I told you, my parents—well, The Colonel, actually. He blames me for Lance’s death.”

“But that’s crazy. How could it possibly be your fault?”

“I told Lance I didn’t think he ought to be out there. I distracted him apparently.” She shrugged. “He has to blame someone. It couldn’t possibly behis fault Lance was in Iraq, could it?”

“So Lance’s death had nothing to do with him acting the hero to impress his father?”

“Lance didn’t act the hero. He was a hero. He was my hero. Always has been. But, just so you know, I expect this to be difficult. He’s grieving. We all are. I haven’t spoken to The Colonel for over a week and the last time it did, it wasn’t pleasant. I’m scared of what he’ll say. Or what I’ll say. I’m afraid I can be as stubborn as he is sometimes.”

She led him into the yard, where people stood around, drinks in one hand, sandwiches in the other. There was a low hum of stilted conversation. Many heads turned to look at them as they entered and the whispering increased. Chris could guess what they were saying. “Who’s that man with Elizabeth? Have you ever seen him before? No, me neither.”

The Colonel and Ellen were on the far side of the yard, by the marquee, talking with Colonel James and Senator Richards. Beth led Chris over to them, ignoring the looks and whispers.

“I assure you,” said Senator Richards, “that there’s no need to worry. As soon as the election is out of the way, I’ll put on the pressure and get that nomination pushed through as quickly as I can. I’m sure the President’s people will see the media potential of this award. You’ll get your day at the White House to receive your son’s Medal of Honor—even if it’s the next President that hands it over.”

Ellen spotted her daughter first. “Beth, dear. How are you?” She held out her hand and Beth took it.

“I’ll be okay, Mom. How are you?”

“How do you think she is?” said The Colonel, before Ellen could answer.

“Bobby. Don’t.”

“So, you finally decided to show your face, my girl?” The Colonel’s voice cracked as he spoke. His face was drawn. There were bags under his eyes, which glistened with the tears he fought to hold back.

“I needed to stop off at my place first.”

“You needed to be by your mother’s side. By my side. But no, Little Lizzie has to stay in the background.”

“Erm, excuse me,” said Senator Richards. Looking embarrassed, he backed away and went in search of someone else to talk to. Colonel James slipped away without a word.

“You know how I feel, Daddy. Today should have been just for family and friends, not the whole world.”

“Don’t you think your brother deserved a proper send off? A hero’s send off?”

“Yes, I do. I just don’t think that’s what we had today.”

“Your brother was a true American hero. And today we him treated like one.”

Chris looked around. The chatter had stopped and all eyes were upon them. Beth’s mother was staring at the floor, shaking her head.

Beth stared at her father. “What he deserved was some dignity. He wouldn’t have wanted what happened today.”

“Lance was a military man. This is a military family. Why shouldn’t he have a military funeral?”

“I’ve got nothing against a military funeral. But what’s wrong with a small one? A dignified one? Today was all about the show. It was over the top.”

“How dare you, young lady. Your brother is going to receive the Medal of Honor. He deserved the biggest funeral we could give him. He was a hero. A patriot.”

“He wanted to be a lawyer. He only joined the Army because it’s what you wanted. If it wasn’t for you and your outmoded ideals, he wouldn’t even have been in Iraq.”

“That’s enough, my girl. I didn’t raise you to talk to me like that. I expect some respect in my own home. Especially today. But then, why should you change now? You always were an ungrateful little wretch.”

Chris stepped forward. “That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?”

The Colonel looked at Chris with a critical eye. “And just who might you be?”

“Chris Austins. Sir.”

“He’s a friend of mine, Daddy.”

“A friend?” said Ellen in a soft voice. “This is your British friend?”

Colonel Burnett shot daggers at his daughter. His eyes narrowed and anger swept across his face. “You brought a date to your brother’s funeral. Oh, no wonder you wanted to stay in the background! A date! Unbelievable!”

“He’s not my date. He’s a friend. Here to support me.”

“Support you? And where were you when we needed your support? You should be thinking about your family!”

“You’re not the only one who’s upset here, Daddy. You’re not the only one who misses Lance.”

“Stop it! Both of you!” Ellen started to cry. She put her head on her husband’s chest and he put his arm around her.

“See now. You’ve upset your mother. Perhaps you should leave. You and your young man.”

“I think he’s right,” said Chris.

Beth looked up at Chris. Her eyes were wet with tears once more. She nodded and strode towards the gate. Chris followed a few paces behind. Even when they were through the gate, he could still feel the eyes of every guest on him.

They didn’t speak as they walked back to the parking lot, nor throughout the drive home. It was only when they pulled up outside her house that Beth spoke. “You stuck up for me.” It was a statement, not a question.

“I know. I’m sorry about that. It only gave your father another reason to lay into you.”

“Don’t apologize. He’d have had a go at me over you at some point anyway. So don’t be sorry. Actually, I liked it. I’ve never had anyone stick up for me before. Except for Lance, and he’s my brother—that’s his job. Was his job. I guess he won’t be sticking up for me anymore, will he?” Her smile was the saddest Chris had ever seen. He wanted to wipe the tears from her eyes and bring back the sparkle that had been there when she’d first seen him the day before. He wanted to sweep her up in her arms, love her, and protect her. Tell her everything would be all right and that he’d look after her. But he couldn’t. He knew that in less than two weeks he’d by flying out of her life again, and he’d go back to being the guy on the other side of the computer screen.

“It’ll be okay, Beth. The pain will fade with time. You’ll remember the good times you spent with Lance. All the happy times. It’ll be okay.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Guess I’ll have to wait and see. Come on, let’s go inside and watch a movie. I need to take my mind off things. I’ve got ice cream too.”

“Ice cream always helps.”

As soon as they entered the house, Beth pushed Chris against the door, threw herself against him and kissed him. She caught him off guard and slipped her tongue between his lips. He kissed her back until he realized what he was doing. He gently pushed her away. “Beth, we shouldn’t. It’s not right.”

“To hell with what’s right. Who decides what’s right anyway? You? Me? Everyone else? I want you, Chris. I want you now. I haven’t stopped thinking about the way you kissed me last night. It was like something out of a dream—so perfect. Until you pushed me away. I know I should be thinking about Lance today, and I have been, but you’ve been there too, always at the back of my mind. The whole time I was standing next to you, all I wanted was to kiss you. Touch you. Feel you. If losing Lance has taught me anything, it’s that you have to make the most of what you have. And while I have you here, I want to do all the things we’ve talked about online.”

“All of them?”

“All of them. Every last one. I know people will say we’ve only just met, but I’ve known you for two years. And I think I’ve been in love with you all that time. I know that sounds crazy—”

“It’s not crazy.”

“Then what’s wrong? We’ve got two years to catch up on, and only two weeks to do it.”

“And that’s the problem. I’m only here for two weeks. Then it’s bye-bye and back to London. What happens then?”

“Let’s worry about that later.” She held his face in her hands and pulled his lips towards hers. They kissed again, their tongues wrestling. Chris put his hands on her hips and pulled her closer. Her soft flesh pressed against his hard body. He could feel her erect nipples on his chest. His cock throbbed and grew and was painful confined in his tight shorts. He ran his hands up her back, then down to her ass. Her skirt was thin, and what he felt through it surprised him. “You’re not wearing knickers.”

Her eyes had all the sparkle and life of the day before. Her smile was wicked and sexy. She took his hand and dragged him up to the stairs to her bedroom. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pushed her lips against his. He went to wrap his arms around her, but she stopped him and moved his hands to her breasts. Chris squeezed gently and she moaned into the kiss. She ripped open his shirt, ran her hands along his torso and through his thin chest hair. After pushing the shirt from his shoulders and letting it fall to the floor, she ran her nails down his back. Chris shivered.

Beth tore her blouse off and threw it on the floor. Chris massaged her breasts until she stepped away. She hooked her thumbs into her waistband and said, “No knickers?” She wiggled out of the skirt and it fell to the floor. “No. Just really small ones.”

She wore a tiny black mesh thong that told Chris she kept her pubic hair neat and tidy. Her bra was the same material and stretched to breaking point by her breasts. Her nipples were hard. The black material contrasted with her white flesh. Her skin was smooth and her stomach flat and firm. She turned to show him her rear. The thong disappeared between her ass cheeks so that it looked as if she was wearing nothing.

She threw herself at him and they tumbled onto the bed as they kissed. He scooped her breasts out of her bra and caressed them. He teased her by avoiding her nipples and she gasped each time he brushed them. He bent to suck on the hard buds. Her mouth and eyes opened wide and her moans of pleasure were barely audible. She reached behind, unclasped her bra and slipped it off.

“Oh... oh, my god... oh, Chris, don’t you dare stop. That feels so good.” She flung the bra across the room and put both hands on the back of his neck. She pulled him to her tighter. “Oh, yeah... Oh, that’s nice... Oh, my god, don’t stop.”

He pulled away. She whimpered a small protest, but he was only pausing to swap nipples. He alternated nipples, sucking, flicking and rubbing. Eventually, he pulled away and sat up.

“Oh, Chris,” she said. “That was so nice.”

“There’s more to come,” he said.

She smiled. “Me first.” She pushed him onto his back and sat astride him. She kissed his chest, ran her fingers down his torso, and fumbled to open his trousers. She reached inside and squeezed his cock. He lifted his hips so that she could yank his trousers and shorts down. She sat up straight and stroked his cock.

“You know, Chris. I don’t want to wait anymore. There’s so much I could do while I’ve got you like this, but I don’t want to wait.” She pulled her gusset aside and lifted herself up so that she could guide him towards her pussy. She rubbed his cockhead along her entrance and then held him still while she pushed down and engulfed him. “Ohhh, that feels so good. Do you now how long it’s been? Have I told you that? Have I?”

“Once or twice.”

“Nearly three years. Three years, Chris.” She rocked back and forth. “That feels so good. I feel so full.”

He held her hips as she rocked faster. He pushed his hips up to force his cock deeper into her. She cried out and moved faster still. Their fucking intensified, until her whole body tensed as her orgasm started. She shook as it overtook her. Chris held still while she came. She collapsed onto his chest and he held her hips and thrust up into her until he pumped his semen inside her.

She lay on top of him and breathed heavily. Chris was exhausted too. He stared at the ceiling and held her in his arms. He could have lain there all day and all night.

“Beth… That was…”

“I know. Thank you, Chris. Thank you.”

“You’re thanking me? That’s a first.”

“I thank you all the time.”

“No. I mean, it’s the first time a woman’s thanked me after sex.”

“I was brought up properly, Chris. You always thank someone who does something nice for you.” She raised her head and brushed his lips with hers. “And that was very, very nice.”

“Well, get ready for more, ‘cause I’m not done yet,” he said.

“You are for now, Casanova. I haven’t come like that for as long as I can remember. I don’t think I could stand it again just yet.” Beth stood and stretched. “Let’s go eat that ice cream and watch that movie. Then you can do whatever you want to me all night long.”

Chris got off the bed, stood behind Beth and put his arms around her waist. “We could have a shower first. You know, to freshen up.”

“Oh, no you don’t, mister. I know your game. You told me all your tricks, remember. We get in the shower, get all soapy and wind up fucking again. Well, I’m not falling for it. You’ll have to find a whole bunch of new moves.”

Chris grinned. “Guess I’ll have to.”

“Not that you’ll need them. Once I get used to your cock inside me, you can fuck me whenever and wherever you want. Just about. I’m not about to go do it in my parents’ backyard or anything stupid. But until then, you’ll just have to go easy with me. Okay?”

Friday, 28 August 2009

An Excerpt from “Charlotte’s Secret”

On Wednesday I promised you some excerpts from my Phaze novels, so here is the first. It comes from Charlotte’s Secret and is the opening scene from the book. This scene doesn’t contain any dirty bits, but the book itself does. In fact, I’ve stopped this excerpt right before Charlotte and David get up to some naughtiness in the back room.


Charlotte's Secret is available from Phaze Books website, Fictionwise, All Romance e-books and other online book stores. It is also available for your Kindle or Mobipocket device.



Charlotte’s got a secret- in fact she’s got several. But she’s not the only one hiding things in this tale of love and betrayal. Secrets, lies and twisted schemes - Charlotte’s Secret has it all.


David walked past Charlotte’s Secret several times before he plucked up the courage to enter. The lingerie store was supposed to be man-friendly, yet he was apprehensive when he passed over the threshold. The last time he’d bought lingerie was just before his marriage, almost year ago. He got his bride-to-be a wedding-night outfit--an outfit she’d never worn.

The garments in the window were conservative. Simple designs, pastel colours and traditional cuts. David tried not to stare, convinced that the other customers would think he was a deranged knicker-sniffing pervert. He picked up a pair of lacy white French knickers and viewed them from all angles. He tried to imagine how they would look on his wife then put them back on the rack. The garment was part of a costly set by a designer he’d never heard of. The most expensive item was the thong. He picked one up and examined it.

“Can I help you, sir?”

David jumped and turned to face the assistant. Her handwritten name badge read ‘Jakki’ and she’d drawn a tiny heart above the ‘i’. She was young--she might even have been a schoolgirl with a weekend job. She was also attractive--far too attractive if she was a schoolgirl with a weekend job. The top few buttons of her blouse were undone. David assumed a bra they sold in the shop enhanced her cleavage. He forced his gaze upwards. She had pretty eyes too.

“I was just wondering why the price seems to go up as the amount of material used goes down.”

Jakki giggled. “No, sir. The thong is expensive because of the diamonds.”


Jakki took it from him and turned it over. Five tiny diamonds formed a “T” shape in the centre of the waistband. “They’re for wearing with hipsters.”

David’s brow furrowed. “Sorry, you’ve lost me.”

“Low-slung jeans,” she explained. “They sit on your hips and show off your thong. Look…” She turned around and wiggled her bottom. David noticed her thong didn’t have any diamonds.

“Oh, I see.”

“Were you looking for something in particular, sir? Or just browsing?” She made it sound as if men regularly came into the shop to browse.

“Yes. Actually, I’m here to see Charlotte.”

She opened her mouth to answer, but a woman put her hand on her shoulder. “Jakki, there’s a lady in cubicle three who needs help squeezing into a corset. Pop along and help her, there’s a good girl.”

Jakki rolled her eyes and muttered, “Again?” She turned to face the woman. “Can’t Ruth do it?”

“Ruth’s busy with someone else. Off you pop.”

The newcomer smiled at David. She wasn’t wearing a name badge. Her long dark brown hair shimmered under the bright spot-lights. Her eyes matched her hair and twinkled when she spoke. She offered her hand. “Long time no see, David.”

“It’s been a while, Charlie.” He shook her hand. She gently pulled him towards her and leaned forward to kiss his cheek.

“It’s been too long. Far too long. How have you been?”

“I’m fine. Fine. I like what you’ve done with this place. I was expecting something a bit more risqué after the newspaper reports. You looked good in the photo, by the way. You know, I can’t believe there are people so small-minded as to kick up a fuss about expensive knickers.”

“David.” She shook her head. “I’m surprised you haven’t realised just how small-minded this town can be. How long have you lived here now?”

“Five years, as you well know. Have things calmed down?”

“It took a few weeks, but the busybodies got used to us. Business really picked up after the protests stopped. There’s no such thing as bad publicity--isn’t that what they say?” Charlotte laughed. Her brown eyes danced. “I heard you had a bit of trouble yourself.”

“The break-in?”

Charlotte nodded. “Mother told me about it. It must have been awful, having your home violated like that. Was anything taken?”

“Nothing that can’t be replaced. I didn’t even bother the insurance company with it.”

“Still, I’m sorry it happened. Horrible thing to have to go through. So, are you here to buy Susie something nice? Finally decided to get her out of those god-awful cheap knickers and into something decent?”

“That’s unfair, Charlie. Her underwear isn’t that bad.”

“‘Isn’t that bad?’ I took her to London once to look at some new ranges and I was utterly shocked at what she found sexy.” She shook her head. “She has no taste, that girl. Sometimes, I wonder if she really is my sister. Maybe there was a mix-up at the hospital.”

“You’re more alike than either of you realise.”

“Well, I suppose you’d know that better than anyone.”

David ignored her remark. “We missed you at the wedding. Both of us. I can understand you not wanting to be Susie’s maid of honour, but why didn’t you come?”

Charlotte huffed. “Hardly appropriate, was it? The man I loved marring the sister I hated.”

“Hate is a strong word, Charlie.”

“You didn’t grow up with her.”

“True, but nevertheless, I’ve never seen the evil Susie you talk about. She’s always been good to me.”

“Too good, once. Sorry, I didn’t mean that. I don’t blame you for what happened, David. I blame her. You were drunk. She wasn’t. I trusted her. Although God knows why--guess I was drunk too. You let me down but she betrayed me. Betrayed my trust. Still, it’s in the past. You’ve got your family now. And I have mine.”

David couldn’t hide his surprise or confusion.

“This place,” said Charlotte, gesturing to the shop. “Jakki, Ruth and the other girls that work for me. They’re my family.”

David shuffled his feet. “Well, er… How’s business?”

Charlotte stared into his eyes for a moment, making him feel uncomfortable. She folded an arm under her bust, held her elbow in her hand and tapped her chin with her finger. David tried not to stare at her breasts.

“Oh, you know—steady. We had the usual rush at Christmas and Valentine’s. Men can be so unoriginal when it comes to gifts. Still, that’s what I’m banking on. This set that you were looking at has been very popular. I guess that's because of who models them.”

He thought for a moment. “I knew I’d seen the design somewhere. It's that footballer's wife, isn't it? She's gorgeous.”

She nodded. “The footballer is pretty gorgeous too.”

“Those adverts leave little to the imagination—especially that one in the cinema.”

“Did you know they can only show that ad with ‘18’ certificate films? I always wonder if it’s aimed at women or their partners. Anyway, this diamond-studded thong is well worth the money. Susie’s got some thongs hasn’t she? Cheap ones.”

“She has. I don’t know. I think thongs are a bit tacky. I prefer something with class, I suppose. The sort of thing you used to wear.”

“I still do, sweetie. I still do.” She winked.

“Charlie, is there somewhere we could talk in private?”

“Sure. Follow me.”

She led him toward the back of the store and through a curtained doorway. The house lights were dim and there were coloured lights above the stock. “This is where we keep the stock for the more discerning shopper. The stock that caused all the fuss. Actually, you’d be surprised at just how well it sells.”

David looked around. There was a lot of leather and rubber on display--it was no wonder the locals made a fuss. They passed a red leather outfit with holes on chest and in the crotch. “What are the rings at the end of the sleeves for?”

“To attach the chains to.”

“Chains? My God!”

They came to a door with an electronic lock. Charlotte tapped the entry code into the keypad and held the door open. “After you.”

She followed him into the darkened storeroom, locked the door behind her and switched on the lights. There were large cardboard boxes piled high all around them. In one corner was a small desk covered in papers. The jacket from Charlotte’s suit hung on the back of a chair. She sat down and offered the only other chair to David.

“Okay, what’s so important?”


Charlotte's Secret is available from Phaze Books website, Fictionwise, All Romance e-books and other online book stores. It is also available for your Kindle or Mobipocket device.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Does anyone actually enjoy ‘Promotion’?

One of the worst things about about being an author is that you have to work hard to promote your work in order for it to reach the readers. Back when I was an ‘amateur’ writer, by which I mean someone who wasn’t paid for what I wrote, it wasn’t such an issue, but now that I’ve turned ‘semi-pro’, by which I mean I do get do get paid but no-where near enough to make a living from writing, it has become very, very important.

In my amateur days I gave away my short stories for free in the UseNet group and on the websites and Indeed, I still have many stories on both those sites for people to read for ‘free’. I’ve put ‘free’ in quotes because both websites require you to become a member and both offer free and paid for memberships which have certain enhancements over free membership.

When people don’t have to pay to read your work, that work is obviously going to attract more readers. But when your work costs up to six US dollars to buy (and therefore read) as Kissed by a Rose does, people want to know what they are getting before they shell out their hard-earned. But, as a ‘semi-pro’ the amount I get paid is based on the number of people that buy the books – yes, I’m paid on a royalty basis – no whacking great advances for me yet I’m afraid.

Now, Phaze offer me very generous royalties in my opinion, but I still need to shift the books to get paid. And that’s why promotion is so important.

This blog is a form of promotion, as is my presence on twitter and MySpace. My website is nothing more than a shop front aimed at pushing people towards my e-books. Some might find this statement odd given that there are some attractively packaged stories to download from free on the website, but, when you think about it, it actually makes sense to do that. I want people to read my free stories in the hope they will enjoy them enough to consider buying one of my Phaze books.

The other form of promotion that I use is excerpts. I often (but probably not as often or as widely as I should) post excerpts from Kissed by a Rose, Charlotte’s Secret and Lost & Found  in various Yahoo! groups. Targeted Yahoo! groups, obviously – ones where potential readers might be members.

The problem is that I have no idea which of the forms of promotion I’m using is working. I have no way of finding out from a particular reader where they heard about my book and what prompted them to buy it. and while i may see a surge in sales for a given month, I never get to find out if that surge happened all on one day/weekend due to a particularly good piece of promotion.

And this is the reason I really don’t enjoy promotion all that much. It’s so… random. So hit and miss. And I never seem to see any connection between what I do and sales I make.  I’m sure a lot of other authors feel the same way.

Still, it’s something we have to live with. We can’t not promote or readers would never hear of us and we’d never sell anything.

Anyway, since it’s been such a long time since I posted any excerpts from any of my books on this blog, I thought I’d remedy that over the next few days and post a few. I’ll probably post the first later today. I hope you enjoy them and who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy them enough to go out and buy the relevant book if you haven’t already ;-)

Monday, 24 August 2009

Back to the Grindstone

Well, it’s back to work for me this week – in both senses of the word.

The day job has, perhaps unsurprisingly, not miraculously dealt with itself over my two week break, so I’ve got a ton of catching up to do as well as the job itself going forwards. Oh well, can’t have everything. But I’ve also taken a bit of a break from writing, and now it’s time I got back to that too.

I’ve put the first draft of Eternally & Evermore to the side and I don’t intend to touch it again until the end of September. Or maybe mid-September. Either way, this is something I need to force myself to do because if i don’t then I’ll never stop fiddling with it and that can’t be good.

In the meantime, I want to get to grips with the next book after that, which in my head I’m referring to as Westmouthshire book 5.

Westmouth is the name of fictional town & Westmouthshire the fictional county that is the setting for Kissed by a Rose and Eternally & Evermore. So why book five? Well, in truth, I’ve retrospectively set Charlotte’s Secret in the county (but not the town – it’s set in the other large town in Westmouthshire - Walminster) and I’ve convinced myself that the couple from Lost & Found move to Westmouth after the story. It’s as if all my stories have now set themselves in this Westmouthshire Universe that I’ve created.

In Kissed by a Rose there are references to Ladz magazine – a series of stories I wrote for Ruthie’s Club that are available to download from my website. As an aside, I was sad to hear of the temporary closure of Ruthie’s Club. It is said it should be back in January. I’ll be happy to see that happen.

Also, in Eternally & Evermore, I’ve referenced places from Charlotte’s Secret and in the next piece there may well be a character who is related to Chris or Beth from Lost & Found. Both Eternally & Evermore and the next book also reference Chloe and her film Reunion from Kissed by a Rose. (It’s worth noting that while not strictly part of the universe, the film Reunion in Kissed by a Rose is roughly based on the events and takes its title from a novella I wrote some years ago which is also available to download on my website.)

I’m hoping, eventually, to put together a ‘Westmouth Encyclopedia’ so to speak, with possibly maps and entries concerning the people, place and events from this universe I’ve created. Perhaps. One day.

But I need to get to work on that ‘fifth’ book in the series first. So let’s see how it goes.

So, how does “Eternally & Evermore – a Westmouthshire novel” sound?

Sunday, 16 August 2009

I feel no Guilt

For once, I can say I feel no guilt what-so-ever for failing to update this blog for the past week. Last Sunday I drove from my home in Northampton, down the M1, around the M25 and along the M20, to Dover, where I got on a ferry to cross the Channel to France and then onwards to finally, after several weeks apart, see my wife and son – my family.

I swear, the look on Jr’s face as he stood on the doorstep watching me get out of the car, the speed with which he ran down the path, the force with which he threw himself at me and the strength with which he hugged me to him as I carried him back to the house to greet his mother are things that will stay with me forever. It was like something from a movie – the sort of greeting from their offspring that every father must dream of.

Forgive me for not being able to hold back the tears at that point – or indeed from fighting them back now as I recall it.

So this week I’ve spent getting re-acquainted with my family. We haven’t been anywhere special or done anything of note – just spent some quality time together as a family. And for that reason I feel no guilt at all in neglecting this blog.

Some things in life are more important.

We’re going back home tomorrow (Monday) and I still have another week before I have to return to work, so don’t expect many blog updates next week either – I’ll still be doing the family thing.

Friday, 7 August 2009

And now the hard work begins

The first draft of my next novel, Eternally & Evermore, is complete. I polished it off last night – writing an epilogue that actually means the story has two endings of the variety that is popular with readers of romance novels.

I must say, I’m really quite pleased with it – even more so than I was with the first draft of Kissed by a Rose.

This first draft has come in at 83000 words, a bit more than the first draft of KbaR from memory and that finished up at 90000 after I’d revised it and it had been through my editor. So I’d expect E&E to similarly grow. I’m already brimming with ideas of where I’d like to add more detail so it may even to 100000 when it’s done.

And that’s even with my usual ‘trimming of the fat’ that I learned from The Fishtank. Fat trimming (getting rid of all those extra words that just weren’t needed and smoothing the prose out) was actually pretty important when I was writing stories that had strict (and small) word limits. If you think telling a story in 5000 words needs economy of words use, then doing it in 300 needs it even more so. That was one of the habits I picked up in The Tank and it’s a habit I’ve never (and never want to) gotten out of.

Which is an odd statement when I’m writing full length novels and I can take as much time as I want to say what I need to say. But tightly written prose is a lot easier to read, it’s a quicker read and it gets you more involved in the story.

But what I have started to do a lot in E&E that I haven’t done as much in other books is to write ‘cut scenes’ – little fillers between plot points that describe the environment and set the scene. Things like this at the start of chapter 20…

In the woods that surrounded Walminster Hall, a tawny owl perched in a tree, watching and waiting. Watching the ground and waiting for any sign of movement that might indicate a meal. His head swivelled. His big eyes shone in the darkness. Suddenly, he pushed off from the branch, opened his majestic wings and silently glided towards a pile of twigs and dead leaves twenty yards away. He opened his claws as he got near. Thrust his talons into the pile and, with a flap of those powerful wings, took flight once more, a small rodent rapidly losing life clutched beneath it. The owl hooted its pleasure at having found food for its mate and offspring.

Will looked around when he heard the owl. It had startled him. He and Amy had kissed again—even though they both knew that they shouldn’t.

The owl has nothing to do with the plot but it sets the scene before we get back to the characters after the chapter break. There are quite a few of these throughout the first draft. They might go. But I hope they stay. I like them They act as a break and give the reader a chance to catch their breath.

But I’m getting away from myself. For now, I need to put the first draft aside for a while and come back to it fresh so the second draft is something I’m even more pleased with. And hopefully something my publisher will be pleased with too.

Oh and I’d also like to thank all of you who follow this blog whether that be on Myspace, blogger, RSS, Soulcast, Zoo or SOL. It’s hard keeping tabs on the readership figures when they are spread across so many outlets, but my general impression is that the numbers are all going up – as are hits on my website. So many, many thanks to all of you for following my words of…. I was going to say wisdom, but that would be a bare faced lie. Just, thank you. I appreciate it.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

How did we get so Dependant?

Yesterday was truly a terrible day for me. I got into work at the usual time, but no sooner had I got through the door than those in early were telling me that they couldn’t log onto the network. So, like a good little boy, I checked on the server before doing anything else. Lo and behold, it was down. Nothing to worry about, it’s happened before. Just need to restart it, right?


I switched it off and back on again but it froze on a blank screen just before the “loading Windows” logo appeared. Okay, something wrong. Let’s start it in safe mode. No joy. It loaded four files then froze again.

Bugger. Time to call in the support.

Anyway, the short version of what followed was that it took us four hours to get the damn thing up and running again. FOUR HOURS!

And the worst thing is that in that time, none of the staff could get any work done. Oh, one or two had meetings with clients and the fee earners could work on files and dictate letters, and there was filing to be done but that didn’t take long. So most of them were sat around not doing much for most of the four hours. And that’s because so much of what we do in the 21st century is completely dependant on computers. More and more industries are finding that, not just computers but also the internet, are becoming fundamental to their business.

So when you suddenly find you have no computers, you’re screwed.

Oh, there are ways to cope, back up servers and what have you, but really, are small firms like us expected to be able to afford that sort of thing? I mean, a server is hugely expensive as it is so two of them…?

It’s scary how the world has changed and many of us have just accepted it. The change has been rapid. The things you can do now were unthinkable ten or twenty years ago. And yet, many of us seem to have not even taken the time to notice how much things have changed. We have just accepted it.

So, I wonder, how much will the world change in the next ten or twenty years? Who knows? But it’s an exciting and scary thought at the same time.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Those Pesky Characters Who Just Take Over

I’m nearly done with my WIP currently titled Eternally & Evermore. At eighty thousand words and fifty chapters long I think I have another couple of thousand words – or a chapter and a half, maybe two – and then I can re-title my Word doc as “draft 1” and put it aside for a while to get it out of my system before coming back at it for that all important second (because hopefully it’ll be ready to go to the publisher) draft.

But, something strange has happened. A character who has been introduced very late on in the story has kind-of stolen the show.

Sophie is Will’s thirteen year old daughter and currently lives with her mother in London, attending a private school that Will pays for. (This will all make sense when you read the completed story) She turns up ‘out of the blue’ (not to me, obviously, I knew she was coming) and while she was meant to do one thing in the story, she has actually become the focus of the conclusion and taken over the latter part of the book. She has, as they say, stolen the show.

She’s a fun character for me to write because, as a child, she’s so different from anyone else in the book. She sulks when she doesn’t get her own way and gets giddy when she does. She says what she thinks and will ask inappropriate and awkward questions and, most importantly for me as her writer, she speaks in a truly unique way compared with the other characters. She’s infectious and, honestly, I love her to bits.

She has stolen my heart and has proved to be, I think, one of the best characters I have ever created.

Here’s an example of Sophie getting into one of her speeches. Don’t worry about the content, it won’t make any sense until you’ve read the preceding thirty-thousand words or so. Just enjoy her youthful enthusiasm.

“She’s got a black eye, Dad. She’s covered it up pretty well with foundation, but you can so still tell. There was this girl in my class, Becky, and she came to school one day with a black eye, no one knows how she got it but I think her dad hit her or something ‘cause she can, like, be such a pain so you couldn’t really blame him if he did, but she came to school with a black eye and she’d covered it up with foundation, only not as well as Amy has done, and you could, like, so still see it, it was really, really obvious, but then Mrs Watson, like, made her take the make-up off and she walked around, like, all day with this black eye, well, not all day because she went home at lunchtime because I think she was, like, so really, really embarrassed by it. Was it her husband?”

What do you think? You can’t tell me you don’t like her already. And doesn’t she speak fast?

She’s been great fun to write and I’m really pleased with how she’s turned out. Actually, I really pleased with how the whole story has turned out, but especially Sophie. I didn’t expect her to play as big a part as she has ended up doing but she’s one of those characters that just demands you give her more ‘screen time’. The last character that did that to me was ‘The Colonel’ in Lost & Found and he wound up being one of my all time favourites. But I reckon Sophie has just usurped him for the number one spot.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

The World in my Pocket.

It's a funny feeling when you suddenly realise now much and how quickly the world has changed.

As I write this, I'm sitting on a park bench while out on a sunny Sunday walk. I'm writing it on my T-mobile G1, the google android based 'mobile device' and it's suddenly hit me - I've got the whole world in my pocket. Well, the whole of the internet and by extension the whole of the world.

And that's a very odd feeling to suddenly have.

It hit me as I took a photo of some graffiti on a gate in one of the fields I was walking through so that I could upload it to Twitpic. And after uploading it I scrolled through some of the other tweets I'd received and noticed a decidedly drunken looking tweet from someone in California where it must be the early hours of the morning right now and that's when it hit me just how powerful this thing in my pocket really was.

I’ve never been a big fan of the telephone – even the ‘normal’ ones that are tied to your wall – so it was reluctantly that I joined the 21st century and got a mobile phone a couple of years ago. Just a run-of-the-mill pay-as-you-go phone.

I never really used it for calls – I’m not a big talker – but I has taken to sending SMS messages on it to friends, family and, importantly here, twitter.

Trouble is, it was getting expensive to Tweet from my phone.

So I bit the bullet and got a contract. The phone came free, and it came down to a choice between the iPhone and the G1. Yes, Vodafone also have an Android phone in the shape of the HTC magic, but I like the slide out keyboard on the G1.

In the end, the fact that my primary e-mail account is google based was the clincher. That and the fact that the contract was £5 a month cheaper, I didn’t have to pay £60 for the handset (like I would have done for the iPhone) and I’ve now got more contracted minutes and text messages than I’ll ever use. But the important thing is the unlimited data. I can tweet, blog and surf all from my phone, anywhere at all (well, anywhere in the UK until the EU sort of roaming data charges) and it’s that ability that hit me today.

I wouldn’t have been able to do this 10 years ago. Or even 5. Hell, I’d have been hard-pressed to be able to do it for the cost I am now just last year.

It’s a different world we live in now. A smaller world.

And it scares the hell out of me.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

I Promise

I must admit to having had a pretty rough couple of weeks. Work is… well, it’s work and it’s not getting any easier. It’s hard being one of only three people in the company that fully understand the position the firm is in and not being able to really share your worries about it with anyone.

But it’s not so much work issues that have been preventing me from updating this blog as regularly as I would have liked over the past couple of weeks.

As some of you may or may not know or care, my lovely wife is French and for the past couple of weeks, she’s been in France with our son visiting her parents. I speak to them both every night, and I must say that Jr’s spoken French has improved loads in the time he’s been over there, but still, it’s very lonely coming home to an empty house every night.

This should have been a great opportunity for me to get on with lots of writing. I should have finished the first draft of Eternally & Evermore, I should have updated the blog every night and I should have started on any one of the new story ideas that have been floating around in my head ever since I ‘finished’ E&E in my mind.

But that’s not how things have turned out. Yes, I have finally written the dramatic conclusion to Will and Amy’s tale of woe and now all I have to do is round it off in a satisfying way. And yes, I’ve developed some of the story ideas in my mind so that whichever I choose I’ll be able to hit the ground running with it.

But no, I haven’t updated the blog and I haven’t actually written nearly as much as I would have liked and that’s simply because being on my own has sapped my motivation somewhat. I really don’t like being alone. I do enjoy being on my own but that is different. I like to know that someone else is about and that I can be with them if I want to. I like to know I’ll have someone to greet me when I get home and snuggle up to at night. I don’t like having to cook for myself but I do love cooking for the people I love.

So instead of being creative, I’ve found myself vegging out on the sofa watching all sorts of shit on the television. Even when there’s been nothing on worth watching.

But that is going to stop. I’ve got one week by myself left. One week and then I get two weeks off work and I can drive to France and see my family. One week until my life, no, my soul, is once again whole. And in that week I intend to write as much as I possibly can. I will force myself to do it. I will not turn on the TV or start reading one blog after another. Instead I will make the most of the ‘free time’ that I have. I will finish the first draft of E&E. I will. I promise myself.


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