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Still Nanowrimoing

I haven't much else to talk about at the moment. I'll be back in work on Monday, pretending I want to be there, so for now I'm making the most of my writing time.

I've just broken the 35k mark

*bounces carefully in chair*

and here's an excerpt. Our hero has been to the barber shop and gets more than just a haircut: Read more...Collapse )


I've realised now that I'm writing a series. Not something I expected but I have this notebook called Ideas and I bung every little inkling of a story that I get in there with notes for a title, characters, places, occupations and how they all fit together.

Last week I realised just how many of them are set in or around a small Welsh borders town and satellite villages - they say you should write what you know - and I also realised that it wouldn't take much effort to fit them together. If Mal and Rob in The Bones of Our Fathers need a solicitor, why not let Leo the solicitor from Northern Light serve their needs? If Leo needs a haircut why not let Terry from Untitled but there's a Poodle do it. If someone is stupid enough to pick a fight with Terry over his poodle, he's probably a bully and may well pick on poor lonely little Dai Beynon from Untitled Paranormally Murdery Thing and have his arse handed to him by the silent but incredibly dangerous David Ashton from The Language of Flowers. It could be fun to populate this small country town But I'd best get this one done first.

28359 so far today :) and here's an excerpt: Read more...Collapse )

Halfway *chair dances*

And repeating it here - 25294 words - because that graphic will change next time I update.

I'm about halfway through the story too and have written the first Big Misunderstanding™, a trope I really don't much like but in this case it's more of an ethical disagreement than done to make the relationship more iffy.

Anyhow, here's a sample, all unshod, uncurried and straight off the moor:

It was trowel work, quick and satisfying and he was soon able to see the slabs in their entirety. They were a lot wider than he had thought they would be and he realised he'd be unlikely to be able to move them alone. Luckily Sion and Rob were still close to hand and each man fitted a hand into the overlap of the lid with the supporting stone and stood ready to lift on Mal's work. He held up a length of two by one.

"Just lift the first one a couple of inches," he asked, "so I can slip this in to support the lid. I want to get a couple of pictures. If we can document the whole process it could be good publicity for the site." And for the museum, went without saying.

"Ready, Rob?" Sion grinned at Mal. "On three then - one, two, three."

The stone lifted smoothly just a little soil tumbling into the void below, and Mal slotted the piece of wood in about a foot. "Lovely," he said and took a penlight from his pocket. "Want the first look boys?"

"Hell yeah," Rob said and Sion grinned at him and shouldered into the space between him and Mal.

Mal turned on the little torch and directed the beam into the gap. He smiled to hear two indrawn breaths. It was such a thrill to be the first to see something that had been hidden in the ground for centuries. he remembered his first time well. The dry earth under his knees, sun on his back, the grit on his tongue as a breeze laden with the scent of thyme and seaweed blew dust across the rocky Aegean peninsula. Then he had moved some more dust and and been looking into the face of a man long dead, just bones but broad browed and strong jawed. Moved, Mal had murmured, "Hello brother."

It was a long moment before Rob or Sion stirred.

"Oh wow," Rob whispered, his voice a little shaky. "Hello you. Pleased to meetcha."

"Mal.” Sion looked across at him, eyes wide. “You got to see this."


Nanowrimo again

Another quick update. As off last night I have 17187 words, some of which will have to go as they don't do much but add to the word count. BUT they were quite fun to write.

The story is tentatively called "The Bones of our Fathers". I googled it and there's nothing else with that title other than a Men's Rights Activist page on Facebook and I'm not too worried about the two being confused. The story has also informed me that instead of being the little standalone comedy short I thought I was writing, it is in fact the first part of a series of seven interlinked comedy novellas about the relationships of a group of gay men in a small country town each of which more or less standalone, but contribute a bit to an overall plot. Some of the stories are already partially written and some are already planned. It's a nice thought, anyway.

Because it's nice to have a proper beginning to a project, here are the first few paragraphs:

Mal supposed that she was gorgeous. Forever legs in tight jeans emphasised by those stupid Ugg Boots, a tailored blouse clinging to, to his eyes, impossible breasts, fine flyaway blonde locks floating on the breeze like a shampoo advert and a pretty face currently obscured by the camera she was holding to record the event. Yes Mrs Gaskell was, probably, gorgeous. And the reason Mal suspected this was from the hungry wistful expressions of the faces of the men standing around him on this Godforsaken hillside, listening to Mr Gaskell drone on about what an asset this development would be to the community, while this lovely trophy wife half his age drifted around recording the event for posterity.

"Shouldn’t be allowed.”

Mal looked over his shoulder at a heavy set man in a hard hat who was staring at Mrs Gaskell as though he could eat her with a spoon. “God, look at that arse."

"Oh, yeah I am," muttered the younger taller man beside him and Mal saw with utter shock that he wasn't looking at the girl. The young man caught Mal's eye and gave him a huge white grin before letting one eyelid droop in a wink. Mal looked away hurriedly, not quite able to believe it.

"Rob," the older man warned, "don't frighten the archaeologist."


Nanowrimo 2

Another quick update. I'm doing better on word count than ever before due to being off work at the moment. So something that could be potentially upsetting is actually great because I can write for chunks of the day instead of fret about work I'm not doing :) Serendipity

That's 6440 words at lunch time on Nov 4th because that graphic will update on its own, clever thing

And here's a little excerpt. Briers and his co-spy Miles, who for reasons that made perfect sense when I started the novel is in very convincing drag, have just been to see the classic silent war film Wings:

The film was every bit as good as Briers remembered and he was keen to see what Miles made of it. As they left, surrounded by chattering couples and a bunch of rambunctious youths, Briers nudged Miles and said, "Well, what did you think."
"Stunning," Miles said and made approving comments on Clara Bow's hair, clothing and makeup, until they were out of the crowd then changed tack and got really enthusiastic about the flying and the stunt work. "I can't believe they didn't kill a few pilots making that," he said. "And that young actor who played the Cadet will be worth keeping an eye out for."
"Fancied him did you?" Briers grinned and patted Miles hand. "Don't worry I won't hold it against you. I did too."
Miles fizzed with laughter and added, "The bit that suprised me most though was - well, they kissed. The two men I mean. I know it was only a peck but - dear God."
"I thought you might notice that," Briers said. "I wonder how long it will be before they are able to show two men kissing properly. If ever."
"I know," Miles sigh was soft and Briers slung his arm around his shoulders again to give him a comforting squeeze.
"It's a bastard, isn't it. But at least they've stopped hanging us. Two years hard labour, disgrace and ruination is a little less final."
"It's not always that bad," Miles tilted his head to smile up at Briers. "I knew a man who only got three months with time off for good behaviour. All right, he lost his job and had to move to Canada but ..."
Briers laughed and gave him another squeeze. "What was he arrested for?"
"Ah, sad story. He propositioned an undercover copper in a public lavatory. The judge was sympathetic when he heard that the copper made the first approach but the letter of the law still had to be obeyed."
"Damn." Briers shook his head. "Wouldn't it be smashing if they'd just leave us alone. It's nobody's business but ours what we do as long as it's in private. And believe me, there's so much we could do."
"As long as it doesn't scare the horses is what Mother always says." Miles chuckled. "There are no horses on - where are we? Arlington Street. We could try to scare some pigeons instead?"



This is harking back a bit but I always used to post about my progress on Nanowrimo plus a bit of an excerpt if what I was writing was excerptable. I also really enjoyed a time of year when I felt no crushing guilt over typing something like "responisitibilities"!

I haven't Nanoed for a few years but I thought I'd dip my toe this year. I'm not doing it properly - natch. I'm writing some additional chapters to a completed work as per suggestions from my betas - when J L Merrow, Clare London and K J Charles all give you similar advice you better jolly well take notice - and when those are done I'll start a completely new work.

Progress so far:

And here's a little excerpt of Eleventh Hour - which is spies vs anarchists in 1920s London. I started it 9th September 2011 so it's bloody well time I got the damn thing finished. Here tough guy spy Briers is checking in with Naylor, his handler, and expressing concern over Miles's Siward, his partner, who is having to wear a frock and is feeling both vulnerable and very pissed off:

"By the way, congratulations are in order for that piece of work yesterday. Please let Siward know that it was appreciated. He seems to be doing well."
"Better than he thinks, which is probably my fault, sir." Briers admitted. “I gave him a bit of a rocket for overstepping the line. He is only supposed to be an observer, after all. But my - er - language was a little immoderate." Briers grinned and added, "If you get a request that he be reassigned, please ignore it."
"I've already had such a request and replied to the effect that he'll be reassigned when the job is done."
“Thank you for that, sir." Briers felt a little shocked because he had been joking and hadn't even considered that Miles might have been so angry that he would try to get out of his responisitibilities. "So continue with the observation and I presume that I should carry on trawling the depths to see if I spot anyone I know?"
"Indeed." Naylor picked up a sheet, partially typed with scrawled notations. "There's been a development. we've had word from Berlin that one of their better agents has been moved to London. Remember that business in Vienna? You knew him as Ritter, I believe, but Lord knows what name he'll be travelling under now."
Briers grimaced to cover the urge to grin at the memory of the smooth curve of Falk’s bare back and his moan of pleasure as Briers’s hand fastened on his hips. "That slippery bastard?"
"His presence may have absolutely nothing to do with Andrija but as a coincidence I don't like it."
"Neither do I. I'll keep both eyes open for him, sir," Briers promised.


The Mundaneum

The Google Doodle today was labelled Mundaneum and I couldn't quite remember what it was. That's been happening a lot lately. I guess I need more RAM? Anyhow I clicked on it and there it was on Wikipedia, in all its glory.

The Mundaneum - a paper version of the world wide web made in 1910 by two Belgian lawyers researching documentation science.

Everything was cross referenced against everything else according to a numerical system called the Universal Decimal Classification so it should be possible to follow routes of research by going from one numerical reference to another. There's a museum in Wallonia where one can view what remains of the Mundaneum - parts were lost during WW2 and other parts have been damaged by neglect.

In the process I remembered why I sort of recognised it. In 1982, when I first started working for the museum, a modern version was being launched called the SHIC classification system that had been designed especially for museum archivists. SHIC = Social History and Industrial Classification. Every social history item could be logged with a series of numbers. Say one had a photo of some Morris dancers. That counts as part of Community Life - 1 - subdivided to Cultural Traditions - 1.1 - but if the dance was part of a Mummer's Play only performed at a solstice then it would fall under Custom and Belief and Calendar Customs which would give it a code of 1.116 AND/OR as Community Entertainment - 1.66 - and if the photo was part of a newsclipping then it would also fall under dessemination of information which would take it into a whole new category. For example, smelling salts should normally be classified to 2.7, but smelling salts in a small bottle obviously carried around by one particular individual should be classified to 3.72. A scrapbook about a coal mining disaster would be classified to 4.2121.81, but a scrapbook recording the life of one particular individual would be classified to 3.12. A pipe rack would be classified to 2.68, but a pipe would normally be classified to 3.63.

Not confusing at all! Obviously.

Then the personal computer revolution kicked off with searchable databases and the SHIC system fell into disuse. I rather regret that somewhere in my head there's a whole bunch of bits and bytes where bunches of info from the system is stored, hard to get at but still present. Local topography - 1.92 - crop spraying - 4.13. I wonder why I can remember those when I often can't remember a doctor's appointment or to pick up a prescription.

More RAM.

Weekend Recommendations

I normally post these on a Saturday so I'm a day late and a shilling short, as they say. But no, no missing shillings because today I have just finished something rare and wonderful.

I'm ploughing a hard furrow at the moment with a mule that's on three legs and a swinger, and with Christmas coming up it's enough to drive a body to drink. But I don't drink so instead I mine the M/M pit for gems and take my mind of the situation by reading a lot.

This weeks gem is a softly glowing pearl of a book - Like Fire through Bone by E E Ottoman.

I'm a real history nerd and feel that some periods and places are unjustly neglected, so it was a HUGE treat to find this book set in something very much like the Eastern Roman Empire. Byzantium/Constantinople is never mentioned and the geography has been fiddled with a bit, but the world was familiar, lush, horrifying and complex. I loved that.

Then there are the characters. Firstly Vasilios, the MC, a castrato who was captured in war and mutilated. Rather than falling into despair he worked hard and has made himself indispensable to his master, a merchant whose health is failing. These eunuch bureaucrats, highly educated, highly motivated, cultured and competitive, were the driving force behind the Roman Empire, both east and west and the Ottoman Empire that followed, in government, th military, financial institutions, the church and right down to household level. Vasilios runs his master's household, directs his business, disciplines the other servants and has more or less given up on doing anything other than serve others. He's a sweet, gentle, intelligent man who is appreciated only as a valuable asset rather than a person in his own right. His one little self indulgence is a wistful crush on General Markos, confidant of the Emperor.

Then Vasilios begins to have horrifying dreams and realises that they have a bearing on a task that the General is trying to accomplish. This provides the excuse fr him to meet the General more often and the crush blossoms as he realises that the General too may be harbouring feelings for him. Markos is a tough guy but benign who has attained his rank through competence and loyalty rather than birth or connections. As such he's a very good match for Vasilios.

Their gentle and careful courtship forms part of the story. Other themes are a dark paranormal tale concerning devils and murder and the utter vulnerability of slaves in a world where they have absolutely no rights and can be killed, discarded, used or brutalised at their owners whim.

I read this book almost at a sitting and enjoyed every word of it. Very highly recommended. If you want a standard romance structure you might be a little disappointed in the slightly ambiguous ending but for me it was perfect for Vasilios and an ending that is good for the character has to be better than one that panders to readers tastes doesn't it? Get it, read it. I'm sure you'll love it as much as I did.


Happy Saturday.

Reading really is the BEST thing to do when it's a bit dreary and miserable outside and you can't summon up the enthusiasm to do much inside.

This week I've been dipping into old favourites again - Harry Dresden ftw. Then a pre-ordered book popped up on my Kindle which was a terrific surprise. I always forget preorders and have sometime pre-ordered copies from the publisher and Amazon AND bought one on release day from ARe as well. But this time there was just one - sorry, Charlie - The Best Corpse for the Job, a cosy British murder mystery from fave autobuy author Charlie Cochrane.

Isn't that cover brillant? Thanks Riptide.

This is one of those books that doesn't categorise easily. It has the murder, but it's not gory. There's a mystery but not very many potential murderers to choose from. There's some romance between two young men but none of the usual heaving, moaning and spurting that's almost obligatory in M/M romance. Also it's very very British and, again, thank you Riptide from the bottom of my heart for not moving it to that watery mid-Atlantic grave inhabited by UK-set books who are trying to cater for readers who can't cope with odd words like curtains, crumpets and trainers.

I smiled all the way through this examination of the petty rivalries and quirky competitions between characters in a small closed in community. Village life can be cut throat emotionally and sometimes I think it's just as well that we don't 'do' guns or the local PTA meetings would be a blood bath. There was so much here that I recognised, empathised with or laughed at with a wince.

The lead characters are very sweet and some of the secondaries almost deserve their own stories. It was a very relaxing read and great fun as well.

Highly recommended.

Originally posted here on Wordpress.

Saturday Recommendations


Scary night last night :(

We had heavy rain and it hammered down on the new bit of roof over our derelict kitchen and woke me up. that was about 3.30. So I had a read - as you do - until I felt sleepy and went back to sleep. And THEN I had a nightmare that the museum was on fire, and it was full of school buses and I had a ZZ Top style beard that was singeing. Bloody scary. So I read some more.

But that means I have more than one rec for you this week because I have been inhaling books like a book-breather.

Firstly, How to Train Your Dom in 5 Easy Steps by Josephine Myles. Straight wannabee dominant Jeff's brusque 'tell it like it is' attitude has upset so many potential female subs that the only person he can find is a very cheerful chap called Eddie who is a self described 'pain-slut' with an equally high tolerance for butch straight boys who don't know what they are doing. This story is tender and funny, although some of the descriptions of their play made my eyes water, and the gay-for-you theme of it was handled with care - Jeff fighting it every inch of the way. Yes there's a lot of sex, yes it's graphic. Not my usual choice of reading matter but I ALWAYS give Jo the benefit of the doubt and I've never been disappointed. Highly recommended if the mere mention of nipple clamps doesn't send you fleeing for cover.

My next outstanding read this week was Cover Me by L A Witt. This is quite sexy too but since that was part of the personalities of the incredibly stressed protagonists it worked well. EMT Nick meets detective Andrew at a call out that ends tragically with a death and extreme trouble for Nick. Getting a lift home from Andrew the two of them get rid of some on their built up stress by shagging each other silly in a quite startling exhibition of stamina. I got the impression that this was even more fantasy than M/M romance usually is. BUT there was also a really good tense mystery that was resolved in a satisfying manner. Highly recommended. The sequelae, Trust Me and Search Me, respectively follow the adventures of two other protagonists with another mystery, which was fun, and unpacked some of the baggage Nick and Andrew still had to work their way through and was solely about the tensions in their relationship, which didn't work as well for me. But I think romance readers will get a kick out of them.

My third recommendation, finished around 5am this morning, is Unspeakable Words by Sarah Madison. This is an FBI story. Special Agent Jerry Park is more intelligent than almost everyone else around him but has a habit of showing that he knows this. A superlative number cruncher and data miner he is paired with Special Agent John Flynn who is charismatic, charming and has a special hatred of serial killers, to investigate a possible connection to the Grimm's Fairy Tale killer, a cold case, that may have new evidence. So far so good, but there's an unusual paranormal event that adds a whole new dimension to the story. This book is the set up for a new series so while it is a satisfying read and comes to a good conclusion, there are plenty of issues left unresolved to be tackled in future titles. Book 2 is out now and I plan to get on with reading that as soon as I have some reading time! Highly recommended.

So those are my recs for this week. Have you got any recommedations for me?