Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Wednesday WIP

Wondering what I'm up to? Working on book 2 in the Dark Matters series, of course :) Here's a snippet from the chapter I'm busy on right now.

A Matter of Propriety and Parasites...


“How dare you.” Her hand flew up and the sting creased her palm as she struck cheek.
His jaw glided with the delivery. Too controlled. No flinch. He’d seen the slap coming and he’d allowed it. She saw it in his eyes when he met her glare with mild tolerance.
“I dare,” he said, “because someone had to awaken you.”
An unfortunate choice of language or did he mean that in terms of passion? Her sight blurred red and her voice pitched unsteadily. “You’re a despicable, arrogant, intolerable, despicable—”
“You already said despicable,” he muttered.
Her eyes narrowed to slits. “I’ve never hated any human being in my life, never, not until this moment.”
Cynical amusement settled in the line of his mouth. The warmer depths fled his gaze. “You, me, the entire country stands on the cusp of an apocalypse and the edge is crumbling while you’re fretting about sentiments, confusing your loyalties and dithering over inconsequentialities. You said it yourself. I've just saved us precious time by breaking down the walls you were too afraid to.”


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Next Big Thing

Wendy Soliman (visit her here), author of Compromising the Marquess, has invited me to take part in a blog event entitled THE NEXT BIG THING  - a series of questions and answers about what’s happening next in my writing life.

What is the title of your book?
A Matter of Propriety and Parasites. This is the second book in my Dark Matter series and since it hasn't been released yet, I'll put up the cover of book 1 since this gives you a good feel for the series



How did you come by the idea?
Well, I love reading and writing historical romance, but when it comes to TV and movies, my first love is Science Fiction, so I guess it was only a matter of time before I combined my two loves :) There's no single event that sparked the idea for this series, it was more like a conflagration of characters and stories that grew inside my head. 

I like characters that are deep, intense and conflicted, and the force driving this story is the past of my hero and heroine and how it has dominated their lives without them even being aware of it. I can't tell the big secret here without giving everything away, but if anything, my characters sparked the story because, as always, the idea started with them and the story grew with them.

What genre does your book fall under?
Steampunk romance

What is the one-sentence blurb synopsis for your book?
Propriety is even more vital when demons walk amongst us

Will your book be self-published or traditional?
I've decided to self publish the Dark Matters series. I like that this gives me the freedom to take this series exactly where I envisaged it would go from the very first word

What others books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, which I absolutely love. Because her world is also created within the strict confines of Victorian England and because of the paranormal element

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
For the sake of propriety, our heroine, Lily, has to marry. But will she choose the dashing Scottish rogue, Greyston Adair, or the arrogant and powerful Kelan McAllister who reminds her of an avenging angel? Will the choice even be hers?

My thanks to Wendy Soliman for inviting me to take part in this blog even















Sunday, 11 November 2012

SkyFall: Return of the "Real" James Bond

The plot from the last James Bond is still a blur in my head, I never understood it and I barely recall it. Too complex and perhaps too clever for me. Yes, we still had all the action and the gorgeous Daniel Craig, but the James Bond *sparkle* was missing for me.

Bring in SkyFall and Hello! to James Bond. You came back to us.

We have the egomaniac villain with one very simple goal, not quite world domination but hey, it worked for me.
We have giant man-eating reptiles in a pit
We have James Bond spreading his charms across no less than three beautiful women. He's also had a life-changing experience and loosened up a bit without losing any of the mysterious brooding you just gotta love.
The gadgets were missing ("We don't do exploding pens anymore") but Q is a cute, geeky Tech-Whizz-Kid who makes up for this in leaps and bounds.

And I was particularly tickled by how far we'd regressed into the past by the ending...

Spoiler Alert (highlight text below to read)
Out with the glass and chrome offices and in with the wood-paneled library-style male domain office.
Out with the female M and in with a very interesting Irish rebel male M
Out with the male assistant and in with the sexy Miss Moneypenny who has already fallen foul to James Bond's charms.

Yeah, not very politically correct, but come on folks! This is James Bond!



Tuesday, 2 October 2012

A Matter of Circumstance and Celludrones

Dark Matters: Book 1

A Victorian Steampunk/Paranormal series with strong elements of romance...

Lady Lily d'Bulier is prim, proper, and prefers to think of herself as pragmatic rather than timid. And avoiding life-threatening situations at all costs is just plain practical. But everything changes when Lord Adair tracks her down in London; searching for answers he seems to think she has.

Greyston Adair is a blackguard and a smuggler, although British Customs will have to catch him red-handed to prove the latter. Fortunately, the dirigibles they float around in have never been able to get near his air dust.

Hell is rising, One Demon at a Time...

With Lady Ostrich hunting them, and the mystery of how their lives tie back to Cragloden Castle and the powerful McAllister clan, Lily has no option but to throw propriety to the wind and run off with Greyston to Scotland, away from the immediate danger and toward possible answers.


Available now from Amazon 

Excerpt...

Chapter One

The Duchess of Cheshire’s Mummy Ball was the official opening of what promised to be a bumper season. There were two earls, a viscount and a marquis on the table this year and only twenty-eight hungry debutantes. Twenty-nine if Lily d’Bulier counted herself, which she did not. Twenty-one was no grand age, even if her Aunt Beatrice had started clearing off a shelf for her, but debutante she was certainly not.

The gas lighting was off-tap for the occasion, the subtle glow of a thousand candles cradled in hanging chandeliers deemed kinder on the twenty-eight nervous expressions and faux-Egyptian decorations. Silk hangings depicting geometric paintings of sphinx creatures fascinated everyone. Fewer wished to examine the bandaged apparitions scattered between the imported potted palms in any great detail.

“Unimposing, barely titled and clearly in need of a fortune.” Lily lifted a brow in the direction of the young man with an ill-fitting swallowtail and badly tied cravat. “Practically perfect.”

“Except for the unfortunate red hair.”

Lily turned that arched brow on her friend’s flaming ringlets.

“A pleasant auburn, if you don’t mind.” Pragella Lane puffed her ringlets protectively.

Both pairs of eyes returned to the man in his first bloom of adulthood, awkwardly freckled despite half the length of the ballroom and the best intentions of candlelight.

“Consider the children,” Pragella urged.

Lily sipped on her punch, her nose wrinkling as she contemplated this latest dilemma. “Perhaps I should aim lower.”

“I always endeavour to aim as low as possible,” chirped a new voice near her ear.

Evelyn Thorn, dearest friend for many years and Duchess of Harchings for only a few short months (A winter wedding! Any matron worth her width in crinoline was keeping a sharp watch for signs of early pregnancy) lined up alongside the wall beside Lily. “What are we discussing?”

“Lily is on the hunt for a husband,” Pragella offered with her dimpled smile.

“Ah…” Evelyn cast her eyes over the dance floor, where a slow pavane was in progress, then thought to clarify, “We are larking about, are we not?”

“Not quite,” Pragella said.

“You can’t be serious.” Evelyn turned a frown on Lily. “Whatever happened to your delusions of love?”

“I’ll assume you meant aspirations and, um, I’ve reconsidered my position.” She tilted her chin to better observe the couples spilling from the dance floor as the music ended. “Oh, stuff and cockles, we are being approached.”

James Lanbury, third son of the Viscount Cootte, cut an unremarkable figure in black formals as he came to a halt before them. His gaze landed on Evelyn, by far the prettiest of the three with her cinnamon curls, blue eyes and classic features, but unfortunately attached to a husband; skidded past Lily, who’d turned down a gallant and adequately unassuming proposal from him only last June; and came to a final rest on Pragella, all flaming ringlets, hazel eyes and dimpled smile.

He inclined his head at her. “May I be so bold as to claim the next dance, Miss Lane? If you’re not already spoken for, that is.”

“I’d be delighted, Mr. Lanbury.”

With a shallow bow to the remaining ladies, he led Pragella away.

Lily’s lips curved in wistful contemplation. James Lanbury was so very affable, bland and biddable. “I do believe I regret turning him down.”

“You are serious about this marriage nonsense.”

“Well, look at you, Evie, perfectly happy and all.” She was about to hand her empty glass over to a passing footman when she realised he was a celludrone. She squinted at his forehead instead to read his name. “Gragor, could you please take my glass?”

Gragor stopped, turned, smiled his hollow smile and placed the glass on his tray. The average celludrone was a tiresome thing, having to be addressed by name and requiring specific instruction when one’s wishes would be obvious to the freshest footman, but so outrageously expensive that every household able to afford one was obliged to flaunt it.

“Marriage has it moments, some less fun then other,” Evelyn said dryly once he’d moved on. “But you don’t have a papa threatening to reduce your allowance to a pittance unless you— Oh, I begin to see. Is your aunt tangling your petticoats into knots again?”

“Petticoat.” The latest Paris fashions dictated exactly one petticoat, worn over lace-trimmed bloomers, and the barest whiff of a bustle. “You have the gist of it, though. Do you know, she means for us to depart for Bath at the end of the week? I’m to be whisked off to take the medicinal waters. Of all the preposterous…”

Lily faltered as she became aware of the gentleman standing directly opposite on the other side of the ballroom, his rude stare interrupted only by the occasional couple waltzing into his line of vision. Brown hair in dire need of a clipping, square jaw that would likely shatter at the suggestion of a smile, the set of those broad shoulders—even in the absence of the oilskin coat, there was no mistaking him.

“You cannot go to Bath. You’ll stay with me for the duration of the season.”

“Thank you, Evie, I was relying on your invitation.” She linked arms with Evelyn, leaving her friend no option but to join in the retreat to a suitable niche between a pot plant and a mummy.

“Whom are we hiding from?”

“We’re not hiding, we’re blending.” Quite successfully, too, with her jade gown trimmed in rusty petals and Evelyn’s cream silk. She peered through a fan of broad leaves. The man’s gaze was roaming the ballroom with intent. Ha! “Honestly,” she went on seamlessly, stepping back from the plant, “in this day and age, one would think a lady who’d reached the respectable age of twenty-one should be permitted to reside in her own home, with or without the presence of a chaperone.”

“There are—”

“If nothing else, Aunt’s latest whimsical has made up my mind. I’ll never be allowed an ounce of freedom until I acquire a husband.”

“But surely—”

“And that’s another thing.” Lily glared her friend down for the interruptions. “What does Aunt Beatrice mean by removing me from London when the season has only just begun? I was holding out for love, not for spinsterhood.”

“I rather think your aunt is achieving exactly what she meant to. All of which still does not explain why we’re hiding—blending with the decorations,” Evelyn pointed out.

An excellent reminder for Lily to check through the fronds again. “Blast, he’s coming and he’s bringing reinforcements.”

Evelyn looked. “Oh my…” A gloved hand gripped Lily’s arm. “My knees have just gone all gooseberry jellified.”

Lily pushed her hand off. “Ah, they’ve been waylaid by the dowager battalion.”

“What have you been up to while I was confined to Castle Oh-So-Dreary in the bottommost pit of the Bowels-Of-Nowhere?”

“Don’t be so melodramatic.” She scowled at Evelyn, who was too busy gawking elsewhere to notice. “Surrey is lovely all year round and Harchings Castle is supposedly a study in modernization and elegance.”

“Pity the same cannot be said for my husband.”

Having little experience in the way of husbands, Lily was at a loss of how to respond.

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, Evelyn’s attention was riveted to a man who was most decidedly not her husband.

“Who is he? How come I’ve never seen him before and where did you meet him and, most importantly—” Evelyn’s eyes came back to her, sparkling with mischief “—is our Lord Dashing there the reason for your sudden reconsideration in matrimonial matters?”

“Of course not. I have no idea who he is. We have never met.”

“Then why are we hiding from him?” She shook a finger when Lily opened her mouth. “Do stop denying the fact and don’t you dare change the subject again.”

Lily sighed. “I was about to draw my bedroom curtains this morning when I spotted him across the street on the green. He wore the oddest pair of goggles that covered most of his face. I’d never have noticed him there, propped up behind that tree, if not for the sunlight sparking off the glass and brass. He stood there for ages, staring at our front parlour window as if he were waiting for the drapes to go poof so he could see inside.”

“Do you think he’s a spy? He could have been engaged in a secret assignation.” Evelyn’s voice pitched in excitement. “He must be working for the crown.”

“Why would the crown be interested in me?”

“Maybe it has nothing to do with you at all.”

“I never assumed it did, until I found him staring at me from across the dance floor just now. But there was an assignation,” Lily said thoughtfully. “A lady dressed in burgundy velvet from bottom to top with a plume of matching ostrich feathers for her bonnet, no less, walked up to him. He stepped out from behind the tree and lowered the goggles and they proceeded to converse in a somewhat heated manner.”

Evelyn leaned closer, whispering, “What happened then?”

“He fainted.”

“Lord Dashing fainted?” Evelyn gasped.

Lily nodded. “Crumpled around the tree like an over-baked soufflĂ© and puddled to the ground. The lady prodded his thigh with her parasol a few times, but he did not even bother to stir himself until she’d trotted off and out of sight.”

“Are you quite sure this mysterious lady did not shoot him?”

“In Grosvernor Square in broad daylight?” Lily exclaimed.

“Well,” Evelyn said. And then, “Well, I’m sure he had his reasons.”

In that moment, using the full advantage of her extraordinary five-foot-seven and abhorrence for the new fashions, Beatrice Ardington loomed over the pair of skulking girls while blotting the rest of the room from view, including the stranger who’d brought her. In deference to her wide skirts, he was forced to remain five feet to the side.

In deference to Aunt Beatrice’s stern expression, Lily and Evelyn lost the inclination to strain around mummies and peek through fronds.

“Lily, darling,” Aunt Beatrice said in a voice wholly opposed to her whatever-are-you-doing-behind-the-pot-plants face, “I have a gentleman here who most ardently seeks an introduction.”

With one last warning look at them, Aunt Beatrice swished to the side in a rustle of satin petticoats and polite smiles to invite the gentleman forward. Aiding her introductions with the tip of a closed fan, she clipped out, “Lord Adair. It is my pleasure to present Lady Lily d’Bulier and Lady Harchings.”

After the prerequisite round of dips and bows, Lord Adair trained his gaze on Lily and murmured in a burr of warm honey rumbling over oats, “The pleasure is all mine.”

Amidst the confusion of heat spreading up her throat and prickles chasing down her spine, Lily gave another shallow dip.

“Charmed,” Evelyn declared. “I do hope, Lord Da—eh, Adair, your duties in the highlands can spare you for the duration of the season?”

His gaze slid to Evelyn. The line of his mouth curved into a hint of a smile, but a smile was a smile and his jaw hadn’t shattered after all. “The temptations are already showing themselves to be irresistible.”

Aunt Beatrice drew in a sharp breath of disapproval.

Lord Adair apparently took that as his cue to leave. His eyes never leaving Evelyn, he extended an arm and burred, “Would you care to dance?”

“I love to dance above all else.” Evelyn linked her arm in his and sauntered off with a wink thrown over her shoulder for Lily.

“Well, I n-never,” spluttered Aunt Beatrice. “He specifically asked for an introduction to you, my dear, but clearly he was angling for Evelyn all along. No Scotsman is to be trusted these days.”

Lily said nothing.

She doubted a man like Lord Adair needed to resort to trickery when it came to claiming a lady’s attention. With his unfashionable hair, intense brown gaze and smoky burr, Lord Adair was dark, dangerous and pulse-racingly different.



Sunday, 30 September 2012

Pick 3

On my mind today, the top three things I really wish I could...

.... just wash the $*^*% socks and shove them into the drawer when the kid brings back someone else's socks from gym class. But, eeow, so in the rubbish bin and off to the shops again

...be putting authentic garlic boerewors (preferrably from SPAR) on the braai today instead of the next-best-thing available from the South African shops here in the UK

...cower in the darkest corner of my writing cave and not have to think about anything other than working on my next story. Don't get me wrong, I love chatting with readers, writers, and just about everyone really about books and everything in between, just not so keen on having to chat about my own books #promosucks

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Endings and Beginnings

Love it when one book winds down and I can start looking ahead to the next story. My hand's in the cookie jar, there are at least 3 stories I'm desperate to start writing, and right now I have no idea which one will win first pick!

Then again, I've been known to write simultaneously (great for when one story get's a little blocked for whatever reasons) so while I let that stew, I get to catch up on a little reading, a little tv, and I suppose I should re-introduce myself to my family.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

A Conversation I never imagined

having with any adult, let alone my husband.

So, we've just had a lovely, sunny week in Spain. The thing is, neither the hubby nor I are particularly good at foreign languages. Our Spanish extends to "Halo" and "Gracie"

Having decided on a barbeque at our villa, the hubby dutifully went off to the supermarket to procure lamb chops and chicken breasts (for our kebabs). He returned with chops that looked supiciously like slabs of steak

Me: You're sure this is lamb?
Him, nodding: I went "moo, moo" to the man at the meat counter
Me: Lambs go "baa, baa" (with the wavering baaaa sound) Cows go "moo, moo"
Him, frowning: I didn't want to go "moo, moo", didn't want him to think I meant pigs (we don't eat pork)
Me: Pigs go "oink, oink"

At this point, we both eye the chicken breasts suspiciously

Me: Okay, just tell me
Him: "quack,quack"
Me, shaking head: I'm sure it will taste almost the same

We had an interesting barbeque. My husband might have a Masters degree, but I think he failed nursery school

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Loading up the Kindle

It's almost time for my spring holiday and that means beach and sun and lotsa reading. Which means it's time to load up the Kindle again.

It's a real mixmatch hashup, just the way I love to read

Starters by Lissa Price (YA dystopian)
Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Claire (YA steampunk)
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin (YA)
Pandemonuim by Lauren Oliver (YA and I've been desperately waiting for this sequel)

The Passage by Justin Cronin (not really sure what genre, but I'll find out soon enough)
Timeless by Gail Carriger (Steampunk)

This year I've also grabbed some from the Rita Finalist List
The Devil in Disguise by Stefanie Sloane (best first book) historical romance
When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James (regency historical romance)
Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep (young adult romance)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

At the Halfway Mark

On my current wip, this means about 80% done with the graft and agonizing. I don't plot meticulously and generally start writing on a whiff of direction and a breath of inspiration. I know where I'm going, and I know who I'm taking with me, but I have no idea how I'll get there or who all will surive the journey and what kind of tangled relationship they'll be in if they do.

But once I reach the half way stage, my characters have established themselves, I've learnt what makes them tick, and I'm pretty happy with the path I'm on now after a lot of circling back and rehashing and them bullying me into shape. The rest of the story simply needs to be written with, hopefully, a few surprises popping up along the way.

I guess things would go a lot more smoothly if I started off from scratch with every detail plotted, but that doesn't work for me. Once I know exactly what's going to happen, that's like reading a book after you've seen the movie. It's still enjoyable, there's still excitement to be had, but it's not that same rollercoaster ride of possibilities in the air. My favourite part of writing is making the story take new shapes along the way.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Excerpt: The Devil of Jedburgh

     There must have been a hundred of them. Black-hearted Kerrs with mud-streaked cheekbones, matted braids falling down naked chests dark from dirt and sun and hair. But the eyes. Black as night, black as their hearts, black as the devil’s soul.
    Breghan ran faster, tearing through the summer-thick foliage. She could hear them rapidly closing in. The high-pitched grunt was neither human nor animal.
    Branches rustled at her left, then at her right. Stubby fingers reached for her, scratching, clawing, poking, until all that remained of her gown was shredded ruins.
    And then they went for her hair and face.
    “No,” she screamed, swatting in every direction before she fell to her knees and covered her face with her arms. “Leave me be. Please, please… let me be.”
    The cruel fingers fell away.
    The grunts stilled.
    Breghan swallowed her sobs, slowly lifting one arm, then the other, afraid to look and afraid not to.
    The leader of the pack stood there.
    A shudder trembled through her. The stories were all true. He stood at least seven feet tall, blocking out the sun with his width. What she could see of his face was horribly disfigured, the skin puckered and mottled red. This one’s eyes were not black. No, the Kerr’s eyes were blood-red and burning bright with the wild rage of a fire-spitting demon. Only one of his names was the Devil of Jedburgh.
    Breghan’s eyes shot open to sunlight streaming through the densely covered branches. Her chest was so tight, she had to fight for every breath as she sat up straight, her gaze darting about in a wild frenzy. A late afternoon breeze rustled the leaves above and skittered shadows across the tangled yellow gorse and long grass. Her snowy mare, Angel, grazed contentedly at the base of the tree she was tethered to. It was a perfectly normal summer afternoon.
    But there was nothing normal about this day.
    Breghan slumped back against the tree trunk.
    How long had she been asleep?
    The long shadows indicated a couple of hours at least. She had to get home, before she was missed. Little chance, she remembered with a groan. Her mother demanded her almost constant attendance of late, plucking at sleeves and pinning up hems, embroidering necklines and sewing fresh ribbons onto old slippers. An entire wedding wardrobe was to be fashioned in under a week.
    A week that ends today. By this time tomorrow, she’d be married to the beast.
    She was no longer the infant to be threatened into obedience by tales of the Black-Hearted Kerr of Ferniehirst, but that was when he lived a mountain range away. Now she was as terrified as a small child.
    She couldn’t make this sacrifice.
    Her father demanded too much.
    I could run away. That desperate thought was followed by a revelation: I already have.
    She hadn’t meant to. She’d simply done what she always did when it felt as if the walls of Castle Donague were closing in on her. She’d mounted Angel and the two of them had raced the morning breeze across McAllen fields. Neither the stable master nor the gate guard had blinked an eye. They knew she never went further than the river.
    This morning, however, she couldn’t stop herself. She’d veered west with the River Tiviot, onto the main road, and then she’d just kept on going and going.
    Now Breghan contemplated truly doing it. She only had to stay away until the Kerr arrived to find his bride gone. His pride and her father’s shame should do the rest. The Kerr would never tolerate being stood up on his wedding day and her father would never dare insist the jilted laird honour their brief betrothal.
    Running reeked of a cowardice that was abhorrent to her nature. Then again, opposing her father might be construed as a show of astounding courage. ’Twas more than her brothers had ever dared. Her father would be furious, but anything was preferable than marriage to the Beast of Roxburgh.
    The rhythmic thud of pounding hooves interrupted her thoughts. Breghan held completely still, grateful for the overgrown shrubbery protecting her position from the road. She peeked over her shoulder, reassuring herself that Angel was deep enough in the woods to not be seen either.
    “Halt,” called one of the men in a heavy burr.
    Eyes squeezed shut, breath held fast, Breghan waited and listened.
    “What is it, Arran?”
    “Movement in the bushes.”
    “Ah, a wee beastie for our sup.”
    “Do you no think of naught but your stomach?”
    “’Twas nothing,” decided that first voice. “We ride on.”
    Relief weakened Breghan’s limbs. In a clumsy moment, she put a hand down to steady herself. The rustle of leaves crunching beneath her palm was barely audible. Breghan froze again.
    Apparently the men and their horses were doing the same.
    She heard only the soft gurgle of the Tiviot water rushing around a nearby shallow bend.
    Into that intense silence, Angel blew her nostrils at the scent of stallion. Moments later, the brambles shook. Breghan didn’t even have time to jump to her feet. Half the bush flattened and she found herself staring at a pair of fawn leather boots.
    Her mouth opened in a silent scream and her gaze travelled up slowly, afraid to look, afraid not to. Dark blonde hair covered the muscled leg between boot and plaid. She didn’t recognize the green thread running through the woven red.
    Her gaze shot straight up, past the thick waist and white linen shirt. The fierce warrior stood so tall and broad, he blocked the sunlight. Her heart slammed against her chest bone and Breghan wondered crazily if she’d fallen back into her nightmare.

Available from most places where ebooks are sold, including 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Read all about it

I'll be doing the odd guest post (some with giveaways) around the web on The Devil of Jedburgh over the coming weeks, so I thought I'd keep a handy list here for anyone interested in reading different aspects around the book. I'll update this post as my scheduled blogs go live.

For now...

Breaking the Rules at RomancingThePast

Writing historical and Rewriting history at Novel Thoughts

You gotta love yourself a Scotsman at Carina Press

Choosing a Clan for my Hero and Villain at Book Lovers Inc

Monday, 16 January 2012

Read a good book lately?

Or several?

AAR's 16th Annual Reader Poll starts today if you want to have your say and vote for your favorite books of 2011 in a number of great categories.

Here's the link: http://www.likesbooks.com/ballotannualpoll2011.html