A little freebie for Christmas

A new series set after the 1968 Doctor Who serial The Web of Fear follows the adventures of Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart spanning the four years from when he was a colonel in the Scots Guards to his promotion to brigadier and head of the UK branch of UNIT. Candy Jar Books brings additional life to Lethbridge-Stewart, fully licensed by the executor of the Haisman Literary Estate, Hannah Haisman, and endorsed by Henry Lincoln. Whilst the series is not Young Adult fiction, its intention is to maintain that family-friendly feel balancing the classic with a sense of modernity.

To get a feel for the series, visit Candy Jar Books offers and drop down to the bottom of the page for this year’s Christmas free download. Enjoy!

Wishes Do Come True

My latest news speaks for itself. Excuse the unseemly author squeal but HOW COOL IS THIS!!!!!

Sharon x

wishing_bazaar_cover_smallPRESS RELEASE 25/11/2016



Candy Jar Books is pleased to announce its latest brand new free story!

The Wishing Bazaar by Sharon Bidwell will be sent out to all subscription customers, and those who pre-order the forthcoming novel, Blood of Atlantis by Simon A Forward.

Sharon Bidwell was born in London on New Year’s Eve. She has been writing professionally for many years, with her first short story receiving praise for being “strong on characterisation, and quite literary, in terms of style”.Her work has appeared steadily in both print and electronic publications, such as Midnight StreetAoife’s KissNight To Dawn, and Radgepacket. She has written several romance novels under the name Sharon Maria Bidwell, including Snow Angel and A Not So Hollow Heart, as well as dark fiction under the name Sharon Kernow. She was propelled into the universe of Steampunk as one of the writers for Space: 1899 & Beyond, winning the approval of series creator and award-winning game designer, Frank Chadwick. She wrote three books in the series, one of which was co-authored with editor (and writer) Andy Frankham-Allen.The Wishing Bazaar is her first piece of Doctor Who related fiction.

Range Editor Andy Frankham-Allen says: “I first met Sharon via the wonderful world of social media back in, I think, 2009. I was very impressed with her work, and soon enlisted her for my Space: 1889 & Beyond series. Her work ethic was proven to me when a novella fell through at the last minute and she agreed to co-author a replacement with me – which we did, in only two weeks! Sharon’s first drafts are often better than a lot of published works out there, and from the off I told her that I would get her writing for the Lethbridge-Stewart series. She resisted for all of five minutes.”

Sharon says: “I’ve written for and with Andy before with great success, so I was not entirely surprised when he got in contact about his latest project. For one thing, he’d been ‘hinting’ for some time that he wanted to rope me in and Andy isn’t someone who understands no as an answer.Whenever I hear from Andy, I never know whether to cheer or groan. All those who write novels for well-known television shows now have my utmost respect. Some find it easy; for others the experience feels difficult and involves a lot of angst. I’m one of those worriers. Despite the responsibility, Andy has dragged me into incredible worlds and stories that are part of history and there’s no way not to be grateful for that.Invariably the experience of writing for Lethbridge-Stewart was, for me, daunting, exciting, fun, and adventurous…a bit like the character himself.”

Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, says: “Sharon was an unknown quantity for me, but I knew that Andy had worked with her before, so I was more than happy to see what she’d come up with. Having read her short story, and looked up her other work, I now believe she’s going to be a wonderful addition to our stable of authors on this series.”

This story is set between Times Squared and Blood of Atlantis.

Blurb: Back from New York, Lethbridge-Stewart is investigating one of the strangest cases that has come across his desk yet. Wishes are coming true, and if there’s one thing Lethbridge-Stewart still doesn’t believe in it’s magic. But what if he’s wrong?

The cover of The Wishing Bazaar is by regular cover artist, Richard Young. Richard says:“I adore working with Candy Jar, and their cover briefs are always so specific, but this one was rather ambiguous as there were several elements that I could have used on the cover. I decided to concentrate on the alien of the piece.One passage of the story mentioned its burning eyes. Using a combination of traditional drawing and then colourisation in Photoshop (to really get the blazing eyes right), this is what I came up with.And I’m pleased to say everyone loved it.”

The Wishing Bazaar will be sent out to every person who pre-orders Blood of Atlantis (as a single book, or as part of our bundle/subscription offers).

Blood of Atlantis can be pre-ordered individually, or as part of the Series 3 Bundle (both UK and overseas), which includes the previous novel, Times Squared by Rick Cross, and the forthcoming novel,Mind of Stone by Iain McLaughlin, or the subscription deal for those wishing to get six books for the price of five.

Candy Jar is pleased to announce that the subscription offer is now being extended to international customers. Please see http://www.candy-jar.co.uk/books/subscriptions.html for more details.

Candy Jar is also offering a special promotion for its online customers. Buy Blood of Atlantis for £8.99 and get Times Squared for £5. This promotion also applies to six other Candy Jar titles. Please see http://www.candy-jar.co.uk/books/offers.html for more details.



For more information, or to arrange an interview with the editor, authors, cover artist and/or license holder, please contact Shaun Russell at shaun@candyjarbooks.co.uk or 02921 15720

Lethbridge-Stewart series 1:

The Forgotten Son by Andy Frankham-Allen

The Schizoid Earth by David A McIntee

Beast of Fang Rock by Andy Frankham-Allen

Mutually Assured Domination by Nick Walters

Lethbridge-Stewart series 2:

Moon Blink by Sadie Miller

The Showstoppers by Jonathan Cooper

The Grandfather Infestation by John Peel

Lethbridge-Stewart series 3:

Times Squared by Rick Cross

Blood of Atlantis by Simon A Forward

Mind of Stone by Iain McLaughlin

Blog Hop for Visibility, Awareness and Equality

I’m a multi-genre author who has written several gay (m/m) romances, and one lesbian story in a polyamory fantasy series. I never intended to. Like many writers, I followed the nagging muse. I never considered the idea would lead to more titles, or that I would need to speak on the subject, to stand on any type of soapbox. A writer’s opinion, like anyone, is his or her own business; I sometimes write contrary to my beliefs, sometimes in keeping. I usually adhere to the golden rule of never discuss sex, religion, or politics. There’s always the exception. When invited to write for the blog hop — like with that first story — I let the words flow.


Hop for Visibility, Awareness & Equality

Do follow the rest of the authors on the hop by clicking the link.

The gay people I’ve known have been much like anyone — wanting a home, a partner with whom to share their life, to have love. I believe one is born gay, that it’s not something someone chooses. I’m not sure I adhere to the Kinsey Scale (developed by Alfred Kinsey in 1948) to describe sexual orientation. Sexuality can be complex. I’m unsure any ‘scale’ can suffice. I’ve known gay men who have had good relationships with women but felt something emotional was missing. I’ve known gay men who find the thought distasteful. For some, sex with the opposite sex is as impossible as is (for some) sex with the same sex. Objections often seem to stem from personal dislike and/or religious doctrine. Both state and church have changed its opinions throughout history. Once, these institutions condoned slavery. Now they know better. History documents scripture as edited and censored, scribes ordered to excise whole (blacked-out) passages. Language no longer has the same meaning, leaving such teachings open to mistaken interpretation.

”The church is always trying to get other people to reform; it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example. –
Mark Twain


Regarding the current disagreement concerning the use of toilets for transgender people, I can see both sides. I appreciate and understand why women are afraid of mixed gender toilets, and won’t belittle the fears of any woman who may have been violated. I equally appreciate parents feeling uncomfortable. These concerns are genuine, but they are also lacking, not considering the subject on a broad enough basis.

“The grocery store is the great equalizer where mankind comes to grips with the facts of life like toilet tissue.”– Joseph Goldberg

I imagine many LGBT people live with the same fear of attack as that being discussed by heterosexuals may be as much, if not more, at risk. The feared situation already exists… for everyone. Sexual predators are already out there. A sign on the door will not keep such a person out, particularly if washrooms are isolated. Abusers bear no external markings. They wear no ‘badge of office’. They don’t don a certain uniform. A person likely to attack a child or a woman could be a next-door neighbour, be married with many offspring. Just like most heterosexuals aren’t offenders, LGBT people are not predatory. Predators come in all forms, genders, orientations, races, religions, economic levels, etc. Evil doesn’t differentiate, only people do.


“It’s not hard to tell we was poor – when you saw the toilet paper dryin’ on the clothesline.” –George Lindsey

I’m speaking as someone who has a nephew with special needs. I rarely discuss my family, but my nephew was born with a brain tumour. He’s now an adult, but will always need protecting. At all stages of his life, when his mother has been out minus an adult male companion, she’s faced the unenviable decision of what to do if there is no available disabled toilet. Fortunately, there often is — these days more so than ever — but in some situations those cubicles are still separated: segregated within ‘male and female’ facilities. She has categorically not been allowed in most of the male toilets and when she has taken her son into the female toilets, even when he was younger and even though from his appearance it’s possible to deduce he has special needs, she’s faced aggressive abuse. And I mean aggressive. I’m not arguing for or against. I’m specifying that the situation many fear has existed for years; many have simply been unaware of it.

“Today, the degradation of the inner life is symbolized by the fact that the only place sacred from interruption is the private toilet.” –Lewis Mumford

The only correct solution would be individual cubicles. I don’t mean rooms containing banks of separate toilets, rather — as I recently experienced during a weekend away where I went to a spa — a bank of individual ‘rooms’ to be used by the abled and lesser-abled, by children and adults, by men and women, and all sexualities, where people could go in alone, or have a helper if necessary. These ‘rooms’ were not hidden away but situated where spa personnel could readily find out if they were being used inappropriately. Naturally, such a solution means money, so it won’t happen soon, if at all.

“Like when I’m in the bathroom looking at my toilet paper, I’m like ‘Wow! That’s toilet paper?’ I don’t know if we appreciate how much we have.” — Peter Nivio Zarlenga


Some won’t like this idea either. People can be notoriously private about their toilet habits — a polite reserve I am sure must seem droll to many continental countries where I’ve seen an abundance of ‘squat’ toilets, restrooms that use different hygiene methods (with or without toilet paper), plumbing that cannot cope with any type of ‘wipe-clean’ material, where the cost varies. A woman in Yugoslavia once handed me a couple of sheets of paper for a few coins, the cost of which and meagre supply made me grateful I was only there to spend a proverbial penny. The French seldom have separate amenities. Open air public toilets usually designed only for men and definitely living up to the term ‘public’ is a fine and rather disgusting example of which I’ve seen in Bruges, but can be found in other parts of Europe. I heard even the UK city of Chester tested a form of these a couple of years ago. Attractive they were not.

“European toilet paper is made from the same material that Americans use for roofing, which is why Europeans tend to remain standing throughout soccer matches.” –Dave Barry

The subject of toilets can be comical, but safety is not a LGBT issue. Some will argue, but I can only speak from experience, and I see a sad fact in a sad world — personal safety is a problem we all share equally.

Giveaway: Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of one of my LGBT related books. Winner’s choice.

25 May 2016: And my winner is Chris McHart as chosen by Random.org. I’ll be in touch.

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The Next Big Thing

I did not know what to blog this morning, and then in clearing out old files, I came across this. As my m/m romance book, Hounding the Beat, saw a second edition release recently, this seemed a good time for re-posting this. (Note: I know of at least one reader who is begging for a third installment. It is on my to-do list, although it may not happen for some time for several reasons. I won’t go into that here as the timing is wrong, and that’s more appropriate to my romance site.):

First, a big thank you to Adera Orfanelli for asking me to take part in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. As I didn’t have a new WIP, I chose Mistletoe and Whine for my subject and made this a page post as the questions may interest the readers of both Hounding the Beat, and Mistletoe and Whine.

What is the working title of your book?

This question is simple. I knew from the outset I was going to call this Mistletoe and Whine (a play on words from the Christmas song). Sometimes I struggle with titles, but not this one, although it may give the impression it’s a lighthearted story, which it isn’t. These characters are a lot of fun and are perfect for some hysterical puns. There is fun in this story, but it has a darker edge than the first book.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s a sequel to Hounding the Beat, but can be enjoyed as a standalone read without picking up the first book. I wrote a follow-up because the characters remained vibrant and I discovered a couple of my readers were equally eager to hear from them again. I’d left a loose thread dangling from the first book — partly intentionally, partly because that’s how the story worked out — that I could pick up, and it just felt natural to do so. So the basic idea already existed. The title then popped into my head and filled in the gaps.

What genre does your book fall under?

Shape-shifting paranormal erotic menage romance, I guess, if that’s one genre all by itself. I blend subjects.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

I seldom visualise characters that distinctly, but at a push, I think Amanda Righetti (Grace from The Mentalist) would be a decent match for Chantelle. Although her features aren’t quite right (as beautiful as she is) she has the right body shape, the red hair, the essential feisty spark the character would need. The most difficult to cast would be Sam. I’m thinking, Sam Trammell (Sam Merlotte in True Blood) but he’s not quite right either. He’s got a similar gaze — I know that sounds strange, but it’s true, and I can see my Sam’s ruffled hair. My Sam has been called ‘sour puss’ though, so whoever played him would need to portray a certain ‘moodiness’ along with a fierce sense of loyalty. And oddly enough Joe Manganiello (Alcide/True Blood) could be Bobby when wearing a suit as in this PHOTO, but he’d have to be a little more clean-shaven with tidier hair because of Bobby’s profession. He’s too tall, really, at 6’5” (I don’t visualise quite that amount of height discrepancy).

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When the peace of Bobby, Chantelle, and Sam’s lives come under threat, they have more to whine about than plastic mistletoe.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s being published by Changeling Press.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I usually aim for about 2000 words a day, five days a week when writing. As Changeling only takes shorts, I can usually draft a story for them within two weeks. Then there are edits, of course — my own before I sub and after acceptance — but fortunately neither Hounding the Beat nor Mistletoe and Whine required much editing. The story came to me as a clean copy.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Obviously, Hounding the Beat. I don’t think it compares to anything else. My stories at Changeling are all very different. I’ve written about a marooned astronaut, the fae, vampires, and a feel-good alternative history featuring a knight. I guess although this is paranormal, it has a similar feel to the contemporary stories as it has a modern setting. The only other menage I have out right now is Cosmic, available from Loose-Id, but that’s science fiction.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I was looking to write for the Protect and Serve series at Changeling — the series created by the wonderful Lena Austin, which meant *gulp* whatever I came up with had to please Lena and the usual suspects. I liked the series and wanted to be part of it. I first chose police as my topic — being able to put a spin on that as the British ‘Bobbie’. Then I had to choose what kind of shape-shifter to use. I’ve wanted to write shape-shifting huskies for a while, and so Bobby Pooch and Chantelle Shepherd were born (what did I say about the puns *grin*). And then there’s Sam Sanders, who’s human. Really, both books are largely Sam’s story, though I didn’t even realise it at the time.

What else about your book might interest the reader?

That this one may require a box of tissues, and I mean for the odd sniffle if not outright cry. Funny how a good old sob can be cleansing, especially when left with a reason to smile. The best books affect readers’ emotions, after all. Not sure I always succeed in that as much as I like, but with this one I know I did. I made those who went through the process with me have a lip tremble or two, including me and my editor.