Tired of Adulting

As children, we often feel put upon because the adults are the ones who make ‘our’ decisions. This is not helped by the (many) times these restrictions come without an explanation. Children feel victimised, unfairly treated. Other children bullied them, and in worse cases, so do parents and teachers. We hear, or imagine, how great it is to be an adult. Being ‘adult’ represents freedom. Being told, “Well, when you’re an adult, you’ll be able to make your own decisions,” strengthens this.


Adults are liars. People are born into a world where they are never free. They are born into a world with expectations. That’s not entirely a bad thing — I believe in a certain standard of social and ethical responsibility, but it’s why money can be the root of all evil. Money represents a kind of freedom most of us will never obtain, never appreciate. It’s not so much about what we can buy, or what we can own. Not even about not having to do as we’re told. It’s about not having to do as we’re told, unjustly.


Children and adults bully children. Adults and children bully adults. Children look at adults and see them as having all the power when most adults will never have the power at all. Adults remain children. It’s just that some are better at hiding it. Some ooze confidence, but in their darkness hours, they are still children. Sometimes we all need a cuddle. We all wish someone else could be the adult for a day. All just keep plodding along, doing the best we can. We learn our parents were ‘winging it’, faking it, ‘putting on a brave face’… and maybe that’s the accurate definition. Maybe in that regard I excel at being ‘adult’. I’m still tired some days. And it is on those days where creativity is many a person’s survival mechanism.


‘Adults’ everywhere, I hug you.

Images from memepile. If aware of any copyright breaches, please advise.

Beautiful Brugge

Hi Everyone. I was absent from blogging last week because we were in the beautiful city of Brugge (you may have seen it more commonly spelled as Bruges). We sailed over on a two-night cruise to spend the day for two reasons. One of which was curiosity. We had heard both good and bad reviews of the flagship Britannia and wanted the experience and to make up our own mind.

The Atrium

Our view is short is that while well conceived overall the ship is seriously let down by a few design flaws, most importantly the lack of a central staircase, which would ease congestion on the lift (even if unable to walk up, many would have used them going down). There were stairs mid-ship, but only for the crew or to be used in an emergency. At least we found points we did like, including a good bottle of wine in the wine bar.

Wine Bar, Coffee shop, and shops surround the Atrium
Decided if this were a long cruise this would be my spot in the library.

It shocked me to hear a few less than complimentary remarks when we said we were going. We’ve been three times. On this occasion, we went to do some shopping.

The famous Belfry (I’ve climbed twice), over 36o steps.

What is Brugge famous for? Most chocolate, beer, and lace. My tip for chocolate is don’t opt for the cheapest as you’ll be eating butter, not cocoa. Of course, there are also cakes.

Just one of the bright ‘eat me’ displays.

Beer… it’s an acquired taste for some, so it’s one of those flavours that needs experiencing rather than recommendation. Belgium beer is very different from other parts of the world, though can be more refreshing. Lace… I bought my first pieces, both with Halloween/Autumnal themes. I also bought an Autumn Mix bag of chocolates that is too cute to eat… but I’m sure I will manage, though I may save them until the end of the month. But for the writer in me, I love the architecture, which screams story setting and fairy tales.

Looks like something magical should happen.

For now, life returns to normal with a shiver or two not created by anything I’ve written. There’s a definite nip in the air.

A Writing Process Blog Tour

Around this time two years ago, I was nominated for a blog tour without my knowing. I can trust my co-writer and editor, Andy Frankham Allen, to not tell me. I guess he counted on me reading his blog… and it appears he was right. This was my entry, which I reproduce here with updated footnotes. Two years. This was TWO YEARS ago. How the time has flown.

Q1 What are you currently working on?

Not as easy to answer as it should be. I’ve recently finished one lot of edits for a steampunk work and had decided to write a third in a published series of romance titles only to realise a need to edit books one and two as I reread them. That turned into a total exercise of shock mixed with the delight of seeing how well I’ve improved in five or six short years. And while I did that, edits for another book arrived. I’ve just returned the first round but don’t expect it will be long before the second arrives (there’s usually two before line edits etc), so I’m sort of jumping about at present. Interruptions and having to hop between works is one thing I never accounted for.

UPDATE: The romances I mention I’m only now finishing up. Personal problems and a necessary move cause a good deal of interruption. Book one has this week been contracted and the trilogy will be on the way.

Q2 How does my work differ from others in my genre?

A genre is a bit of a painful topic for me. I’ve been calling myself a multi-genre writer, but I realise that’s not an easy achievement. Readers will seldom follow a writer through multiple genres — a fact that had never occurred to me. Yes, I know, naïve, but then I’m a reader who will stick with writers I love no matter what they do. I’ll at least give all their works a try, and I read so widely it seems strange to think there are people who read a single genre. I cannot imagine life without reading at least two or three different stories. I always say I write as I read, meaning anything and everything. While this is true, branding is everything these days, so lately I’ve been giving serious consideration to what I do.

I hit on the romance/erotic romance market mostly by accident rather than intent and I tend to call this side of my writing ‘non-traditional’ romance in that I’ve written a large portion of gay or ‘m/m’ titles, also menage, and those in themselves have ranged from contemporary, comedy, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. I want to have a serious try at writing a hetero romance, but I’m sure it will have a paranormal setting, so I say ‘non-traditional’ to explain that I write a range of pairings and sub-genres.

Of my non-romance work… again, it varies, but I realise that many of my stories seem to contain a dark thread. I’ve a short story Bitter and Intoxicating in the anthology Red Velvet and Absinthe (edited by Mitzi Szereto, foreword by Kelley Armstrong) which is a perfect example of this. It’s erotic gothic romance with more than a touch of horror. My one and only short story available at Untreed Reads called The Texture of Winter is impossible to describe. It’s about loss and pain and the end of life, and yet I feel the tale has a bittersweet quality. Both stories are unusual and yet both contain a dark thread. I kind of pride myself in being able to write almost any genre, but I’m currently trying to pin down what I most want to focus on, so I recently re-branded my site and myself as a ‘writer of dark and light fiction’, which at least seems to cover all possibilities. When I get a little ‘breathing space’ I plan to write a novel with that dark side in mind, think ‘outside the box’ to see where it leads me.

UPDATE: I subsequently divided my romance and darker work and have a pen-name for what I now call Dark Fiction.

Q3 Why do I write what I do?

An innate love of books, of stories, of story-telling. Books have been companions throughout my life. They seldom let me down. They’re a way to explore life. To live and experience other lives, to be someone you are not. They’re time machines, both into the past and the future. Stories are for enjoyment and exploration. They can teach or simply hold the reader’s hand through good and bad times. I’d love to make a living at writing, but realistically so few writers do. Many writers write because they simply don’t know how not to. It’s a driving force. I’ve referred to it as akin to breathing.

Q4 How does my writing process work?

I’m not sure. Every project feels different, and the process isn’t always the same. I call myself a pantser — a term in writing circles to mean fly by the seat of. Andy is mostly a plotter. When we co-authored a book together, I found it a little exhausting, and it wasn’t just because we were stepping in at short notice and had limited time. Andy is fast, and he tends to know exactly where he wants to go. I can be fast, but not always, and not when plotting. Writing with someone else requires a certain amount of plotting to be inevitable, but I seldom know where I’m going, so following any kind of pattern felt alien to me. I may start a work based on an opening scene that’s come to me. I may have an idea where I want my characters to end up, but not have a clue how they’re going to get there. On rare occasions I’ll know the end, but nothing or not much leading up to it. I have written things based on nothing more than a title or a handful of words given to me. Characters may come to me without a story, or I’ll connect two random events and realise there’s a plot hiding there. I really cannot explain how my ideas form because it can happen in many ways.

The writing process itself can also differ. I usually write from beginning to end, as if I were reading a story. Occasionally I’ll write random scenes or jump a few scenes ahead and then connect them, sort of in the way they produce a film. The writing can come easily or take forever. It’s a wonderful feeling when it’s flowing; other times… I can only say there’s a good reason writers refer to it as proverbially pulling teeth. When the writing drags, it drags big time, yet I can’t base how good the writing is on how easily the work flows. Sometimes it feels as if a story wrote itself and poured out of me; other times I’ve had to wrench out every word, but in neither case does that tell me a thing about the quality of what I’ve produced until I shelve it for a while and come to the edit. That’s the one thing about my process — I like to shelve work before I do an edit. I may edit a little as I go, I may read over the previous day’s work to get me back into the story and tweak it, but before I do a first major edit, I prefer to let work sit a minimum of two weeks, preferably two to three months or even longer.

Q5 What’s new from you?

I’ve a short story called The Night Train in a magazine, Night to Dawn, and I’ve recently finished The Draco Eye a steampunk work for Space 1889, so that’s likely to be the next available longer work from me. The intrepid crew of Sovereign are heading for Jupiter and find the most fantastical creature yet… which the amazing cover reveals.

Coming next… current edits are on a book tentatively entitled Going Nowhere — a title that will probably end up changed owing to the publisher’s list of titles already in use. This is a gay erotic romance paranormal detective type thing that will be available from Loose id though I don’t have a release date yet. Who said a writer can’t mix things up?

UPDATE: Going Nowhere ended up releasing as Wildest Dreams.

Love of the Written Word

I’m here to discuss a friend’s point of view — one that hadn’t occurred to me. I’m going to wander a bit because I’m also talking books, but it all translates to love for the written word.

Some people appreciate e-books, some don’t. Some hate the term ‘e-book’ and I take the argument on board. A ‘book’ is a bound set of pages. We might more accurately call the electronic file of a book an e-novel or e-story because I don’t believe the presentation affects the content.

The narrative ‘exists’ the moment the author penned, typed, or dictated the words. When one used typewriters or even quills and ink, the method didn’t make the yarn exist any less. Although by no definition could hand written or typed pages be called ‘books’, I would take them over the existence of nothing. A story exists regardless of presentation.

I’m not against electronic files, but I still love paper; always will. I admit there’s nothing like a physical book one can hold. It’s nostalgic. If a gift, we may recollect when we opened a brightly wrapped package, the second we first saw what was inside, felt a fission of pleasure, and spare a moment’s thought for the person who gifted it.

An electronic file, mostly, lacks the personal touch. An old book even deteriorated… Well, those creases in the spine and cover could have developed over many years of handling and love. I don’t see a scruffy volume as one discarded or ill-used.

Also, for someone like me who spends a great deal of time in front of computer screens, then the printed page is a departure from our world that thrives so heavily on electronics. I find room for both formats simply owing to practicality. I write e-books and would be a total hypocrite to say I loathe them. Far from it. Sure, I would adore the library the Beast gave to Beauty in the Disney film. Push my bed and a chair and desk into the middle. I’ll be fine — but I’ve yet to stumble across any enchanted castles even if I’ve found my Prince Charming.

I love many types of books, from the classics to children’s stories, fantasy and horror, some romances. I can be fussy about my romantic tales more than any genre, but they stand alongside all the other genres I cherish. To call my collection eclectic is an understatement. Unfortunately, I simply don’t have room for all the books I want to own — I will never live long enough to read them all even if I had said library.

My key problem is I’m one of those readers who struggles to part with titles, especially if I enjoyed them. I’ve relatives and friends who don’t understand this. They feel a book read, or a film seen, they’ve finished with. The story told, the reader/viewer knows what will happen, so why read/watch repeatedly?

I comprehend the point but disagree. A much-loved experience can be enjoyed more than once and often one can miss things on a first pass the same way an author can during the creation process. Among my many ‘wants’ is a desire to own an entire library of classics. I’ve an abiding affection for them. I’m amazed when I hear someone say they’ve read none of the literary greats. Black Beauty, Heidi, Pride and Prejudice, Gulliver’s Travels, Oliver Twist… all these and more were my childhood reads. I cannot even remember when they first earned the term ‘classics’ — they were simply books, and they were my first adventures. They took me to different worlds and gave me experiences I would never have had otherwise. I experienced these alongside stories like The Water Babies, What Katy Did, Ballet Shoes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and never differentiated.

Now they are looked upon as stuffy and dry, the language outdated. I cannot help feeling that people were better educated, more eloquent and literate when such volumes were picked up at a younger age. I was born when almost all parents read to their kids, where they gave me titles intended for older children; if unable to enjoy them right away, I wanted to. That longing made me strive to learn. If I didn’t know a word, my parent handed me a dictionary and told me to look it up, and yes, I took the time to do so.

So these stories remained with me, ingrained, and the electronic format allowed me to revisit some of these classics lost through moves, through lack of space. They are adventures and memories revisited, and I can keep them in virtual reality. Although I still often buy my favourite authors in print, I branched out and discovered others owing to electronic formats. I am grateful, and I would prefer the world where there wasn’t an argument for or against, but where all can live side by side. In an advanced society, life is about individual choice.

I personified my thinking when speaking with a friend. This person is in his seventies and he recently bought an e-reader… and adores it. His reason is simple — he has struggled to read a book for some time. His eyes aren’t quite as they used to be and there may be other factors in his health, but whatever the cause, he can ‘see’ the words better on his reader as opposed to looking at a printed page. He can also increase the font size if need be, or zoom in. This small device made his whole experience come alive again, and where he had as good as given up on books, or took a long time to struggle through a single novel, he’s reading again… devouring titles, and what I saw in his eyes as he told me all this was joy.

So I’m putting this thought out there for those much against. Maybe e-books and e-readers aren’t for everyone, and for some, they never will be, but I think this proves that it’s pointless to criticise the needs of another person and that none of us can know what we may one day need ourselves. Should there be anyone saying they’d rather give up than commit sacrilege and read electronic books, then I can only think ‘nose, spite, and face’. I could never cease reading.

Strangely, I’ve never heard such venomous disagreements over audio titles, which many people enjoy who aren’t blind and don’t have seeing difficulties. The arguments come from fear — a dread that the production of printed books will one day die out altogether. I understand that emotion well. Without print, this would be a poorer world, but one cannot ignore the increase of electronic formats (although sales have dropped back they’re holding their own) — something I knew would take off long before the first e-reader was even conceived. I foresaw a time before such devices existed, where e-readers and titles intended for them sold alongside things like audio were considered as commonplace, and where — for some — they’re a lifeline. Just as someone brought books into my life to enrich it — in my ‘book’ that makes their existence tolerable and even worthwhile.

Happy Anniversary

Been absent for a couple of weeks, away on holiday to celebrate a special anniversary. Some highlights on what we saw in other blogs but for now I’ll say the holiday was good, never as relaxing and restorative as people hope they will be, but we had an amazing meal on our anniversary in a special restaurant. Another couple we met went the night before, so told the staff it was our anniversary and they decorated the desert plates.


Mine was the rectangle plate and smaller dessert, a chocolate pudding with sorbet. Best chocolate creation I may have ever tasted. Want the recipe. The husband wondered why they felt he needed to chill. lol


An Absolute Pleasure

This is going to be my last blog for a couple of weeks because I’m taking a break. I hope to get a work I’ve been editing through its first re-editing phase before the end of the week, and for those who follow my romance titles, I have a new due at the beginning of July. This is more a ‘bye for now’ than an actual blog, but I have an important date to celebrate that will be an ‘absolute pleasure’ for me. We all face milestones in our lives and I have one on the way that’s an achievement.

On that note (forgive the dubious segue), I’m taking a moment to reflect on something else that put a smile on my face in January 2013 (where has the time gone), when my Steampunk adventure — co-authored with Andy Frankham-Allen — Mundus Cerialis: Space 1889 & Beyond was called ‘an absolute pleasure to read’.

You can read the full review by going to The Traveler’s Steampunk Blog.

Stay well, stay happy, and Happy Reading!

A Blast from the Past

It’s April 2007 and I’m watching Night at the Museum. Mickey Rooney is in the cast. I’m experiencing a blast from the past, but one of those synchronous moments, a weird coincidence. I’ve recently lost my father. The connection — as tenuous as it can be between people and families — has been severed. When grief is fresh, it’s often difficult to invoke a good recollection and, depending on the relationship, sometimes those are scarce. Seeing the thespian conjures a welcome memory.

Many years ago, I booked tickets to Sugar Babies at the Savoy Theatre in London; the performance starred Mickey Rooney and Anne Miller. At the last moment, I told the agent to add a ticket. I didn’t check with our friends whether they minded, or if my father was free. I took a spur-of-the-moment chance. Our friends didn’t mind, and I told him to make sure he was available. I did not tell him where he was going except to see a show.

Sugar Babies is a musical revue, a tribute to the era of burlesque. Some might have thought it strange that our age group wanted to attend, but many of us had grown up watching musicals airing on a Sunday afternoon. The production was as nostalgic for us as for someone of my father’s generation.

A fabulous evening was had by all, though if you were to ask me now to note the songs sang, or the skits performed, I couldn’t. I can remember the moment Mickey came onto the stage too soon, then had to stand pretending to be invisible until he could step in on cue, much to the entertainment of the other actors and the crowd. That Anne still had those fabulous shapely legs, which I rightly knew my father would enjoy viewing for real and not just on the television. That the saying not to work with children or animals, applies, at least when TV and stage are concerned: namely, a sketch where a woman had to stand covered in birds; the enactment went well except for the ‘little presents’ left on the floor, which created more laughter in a scene that should, and otherwise did, look beautiful.

We all had a wonderful night, but my father enjoyed himself most. He laughed his proverbial socks off and watching him laugh added to our amusement. I spent the evening sitting by his side while he chuckled, grinned, clapped, and whistled. He did these things to the point of embarrassing, was the last one to stop, the last person to leave his seat — wonderful! Not only do I have this recollection, he took pleasure in a marvelous evening during a hard working, stressful and, at times, painful life. My impulsive decision gave him enjoyment. For a few hours, he could set everything else aside.

This reveals a routinely overlooked truth: entertainment serves more than one purpose. A good book, a film, a play, music… Such things are part of our lives to a greater extent than we realise. The books I read as a child, many of which I still own, are friends, much as the people who remain a constant presence, and are as priceless. Not only do these things entertain, sometimes providing us with a much-needed escape, the moments they create shape our future, present, and our past.

The format doesn’t matter. What makes us laugh, gasp, cry, jump or stare in wonder — all these are markers, our companions along the way, part of the journey from birth unto death, and they form the blasts from the past that help our loved ones recall those happy moments once we are gone.

I owe a thank you to the creators, organisers, and performers for a precious memory…and to the writers, without whom such shared experiences would never happen.