Poppy Jenkins – chapter one of a forthcoming romance

DSC_3634It’s been a long time, but I’m finally into the last stages of writing a new romance.

I’ve been back to some favourite childhood haunts for this one, and it’s set during a beautiful Mid-Wales summer. I’ve adored remembering the Welsh hills, paddling in the river Rhiw, exploring Montgomery’s ruined castle and square – all places that have inspired the setting.

I’ve also been chuckling away while drawing on some characterful people from my childhood to populate the novel.

Here’s a taster with chapter one. Poppy Jenkins is out this summer.
Continue reading

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Review: Cari Hunter’s No Good Reason. A great writer just got better.

caribookcoverI’ve been a fan of Cari Hunter’s writing ever since reading Snowbound. In this excellent thriller-romance debut, her vivid and economic style was already evident – very effective and affecting – as was her ability to bring alive brutal scenes in a way so realistic as to make many other books seem cartoonish. The injuries and scenes of violence are so intimately realised that if you didn’t know she was a paramedic by career you’d have serious misgivings about the author’s mental well-being and pastimes. But with Tumbledown, and even more so with No Good Reason, Cari is now delivering complex plots and sets of characters that go well beyond a simple adventure or thriller romance.

No Good Reason is classified as a crime novel but the reader is still in for an emotional rollercoaster as gripping as any romance. Free from the restrictions of the romance genre formula, the heroines in No Good Reason are two life-long friends who occasionally sleep together – a relationship that feels real and is refreshing to see in a lesfic novel and one which I think many readers may root for even more strongly. Meg (a medic) and Sanne (a policewoman) both become involved in a case of a young woman found horrifically injured on the Peak District moors from a fall and showing signs of torture. Investigations stay close to home, in the hills and the deprived city areas of the heroines’ backgrounds. The story unfolds skillfully, giving a feeling of following a genuine investigation rather than being mislead by literary red-herrings.

No Good Reason is a rich book with much to enjoy and admire. It has captivating settings from lonely moors to gritty northern city estates. The characters who span classes, careers and geography, from working class girls come good to slippery drug dealers, all ring true. Cari is a skilled writer and her unflowery and vivid style is particularly suited to crime. Her assured writing allows her to build layer on layer of story, setting and characterisation with captivating and beautiful detail and then casually twist the story to send chills down your spine, or ramp up the action to make your heart race.

Fans of lesfic and British crime really shouldn’t miss this one. A difficult one to beat Cari Hunter, but I hope you do.


No Good Reason is ready for download from the Bold Strokes site and available for preorder on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk.

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That Certain Something short-listed for a Lammy

LammySealI am over the moon because That Certain Something has been short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award!

The awards are among the most prestigious for LGBT literature and That Certain Something is listed in very good company in the Lesbian Romance category. You can find the full listing here.

Winners are announced in June. In the meantime, I’m going to stay a little bit giddy from being shortlisted.

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Reading from the Polari Tour

polarireadingI’ve been wanting to do a reading from The Dildo in the Kitchen Drawer ever since writing it, and the Polari night in Birmingham seemed a great place to take it out for a spin.

It was a great night, packed theatre and lovely audience, and the readings from VG Lee, Kiki Archer, Frances Gapper and Gerry Potter were all top notch. I can’t recommend catching a Polari night enough!

Here’s my reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tp79iK02jcI&feature=youtu.be

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That Certain Something cover through to final round of voting

cover20aThe cover for That Certain Something has made it through to the final round of the Rainbow Awards!

I think this competition is very nicely set up because you have to vote for at least three covers so you can support more than one book.

Please vote for your favourite covers here:


You have to pick three and if one of those three is That Certain Something, that’s grand:)


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Paperback giveaway of That Certain Something

FREE paperback!

And an excuse to talk about beautiful women…

The classy and beautiful Cate in That Certain Something is inspired (in part) by Rosamund Pike. Let me know who your favourite elegant and irresistible actress is in a comment at the end of my blog on Women and Words and I’ll add you into the draw.


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A bit about That Certain Something and the Writing Process Blog Tour

I was very kindly tagged by V.G. Lee and Sandra Moran for the Writing Process Blog Tour. Authors answer four standard questions about their work in progress and their writing process in general, and then they nominate two more authors to answer the questions the following week.

EdinaV.G. Lee has long been one of my favourite authors. Her Diary of A Provincial Lesbian from 2006 was a very refreshing comic and poignant story of an ordinary British someone at a time when there was very little like it (I would still like more). It is a much treasured bonudgeok. Her last novel, Always You Edina, shows what an accomplished writer she is; it’s a beautifully observed and written novel. Please check out her work and her answers to the blog tour. Sandra Moran is a very interesting author. Her debut, Letters Never Sent, is one of the highest rated lesbian novels on Amazon and won The Rainbow Award for historical fiction. Not one to write to a formula, not even her own, she followed this up with a story of an advertising exec commissioned by God to write and market a supplement for the Bible. Have a look here to see what she’s working on now.

Now, on to the questions.

What am I working on?

When V.G. nominated me I was checking the last version of my romcom, That Certain Something, which was published last Monday. It is still my current love so I will be talking about that.

It’s quite a change from my other novels, Pennance and After Mrs Hamilton, which have been dark, twisting intrigue romances with a few surprises and uncompromising differences.

It was sparked by a conversation on the VLR discussion group where I was larking about answering questions for one of their spot-on weekends. Someone found my answers entertaining and fun and asked if my novels were the same. I had to respond that actually they were rather angst-ridden and miserable, so it had me wondering why on earth wasn’t I writing something humorous?

I had a trial run with a short story in the summer (The Dildo in the Kitchen Drawer) which I found enormous fun. And that set me up for writing a full-blown romcom.

How does my work differ to others of its genre?

cover20aI’m a sucker for British romcom films, Richard Curtis’ in particular. I love the settings, the quirky and very British characters and the wonderful lines and romances. So that is another source of inspiration for this novel: a very British romp and romance, but with an awful lot more lesbians in.

The two main characters appear poles apart. Young, fiesty Pia Benitez-Smith is a photographer and one of those amazing people who sees the essence of what is good in others, life, everything. She definitely follows her heart. She is drawn to the more reserved and thoughtful Cate, who is beautiful and refined, but who also has a naughty streak and a wry sense of humour. The two disagree about the importance of love and money and when Cate claims that her perfect night could only be expensive, Pia can’t resist the challenge and sets out to prove otherwise.

She does so with the aid of a beguiling summer night in London. This novel has a massive sense of place. I’ve loved living through the scenes in some of my favourite hidden parts of London and also researching the more exclusive settings (I would love a tour of a penthouse in the Shard).

Then there are a host of esoteric and very British characters (some forceful older women appear) and a great deal of the humour comes in their scenes. Actually, I found getting the balance of humour and romance right in this novel very interesting. Although I relished the comic scenes, they needed to be held back at times to allow the full ebb and flow of the love story.

I think that’s what has possibly become a bit of a trademark for me: the emotional intensity of my novels. People have found my previous novels harrowing at times, whereas this one really hits those highs, and tickles your funny bone too.

I think all of those aspects above give this novel a lot of flavour.

Why do I write what I do?

For that buzz from the emotional rollercoaster! Doesn’t matter if it’s the suspense of Pennance, the erotic mystery of After Mrs Hamilton or the romantic capers in That Certain Something, daydreaming of the scenes and experiencing the turmoil and ecstasy of the characters is why I write.

How does my writing process work?

A lot of that daydreaming at first. Playing with the glimmerings of a plot, characters and themes. I start jotting down bits of dialogue that I keep hearing in my head and ideas for scenes in a new Moleskin notepad for each book (I love looking back at these and finding scenes and characters that I never used and realising how different the book was when I first conceived it).

At some point I decide to write down an outline. For That Certain Something, I lived through the whole story several times from Pia’s point of view and then from Cate’s. Even though it’s predominantly from Pia’s perspective, I had to make sure that Cate’s emotional arc was right. I made other passes through to look at setting and the comic balance and when I was finally ready with all those notes, as usual, I put them aside and started writing the first draft as quickly as possible.

My main beta-readers then pull that first draft apart and I set about putting it back together again. More refined later drafts go to different beta-readers. Then after a good bit of spit and polish, reading aloud and tweaks, it goes off for a very patient last read from the first beta-readers and for copyediting and formatting.

Then I have a bloody good rest.

Next week

I’ve nominated two wonderful authors to answer these questions:

tumbledownforblogCari Hunter is a phenomenal writer of thrillers and adventure romances. Hers are gutsy stories that will leave you tense with fear for her much-abused heroines, written in perfectly crafted prose (Tumbledown, the sequel to Goldie finalist Desolation Point, being my personal favourite so far.) I’m very interested to hear what she’s been up to.

reviews_SBHLCChris Paynter is the author of the Playing for First series and Survived by her Longtime Companion – Goldie award winner, Lambda finalist and one of my favourite romances. I’d love to know who she was channelling for Eleanor and Daphne. Chris has a wonderful feel for romance and definitely knows how to deliver those gotcha moments – whether tender, heartbreaking or uplifting. She is an author and editor for Blue Feather books and is in the throws of giving birth to a new novel at this very moment – I hope she doesn’t mind stopping between breaths to answer the questions.

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