Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Wednesday Briefs. The Faery of Beacon Lake Part 5

I can't believe it's been a whole week. There goes my intention of writing at least a couple of blog posts every week, I blame it all on my friend, Anna Marie. She has got me into researching my family history. I'm sure that no one who has spent time with an autistic person will know about "obsessions". Writing is one of mine and it's the only one that has been a constant with me. Others come and go, an overwhelming compulsion while the fire is hot, then waning to nothing after weeks, months or even years. While the compulsion is on me I can't think of anything else. It dominates my mind and I don't know how to do things by halves.

In a matter of three or four weeks I have used almost 200 plastic pockets, each with a profile of a family member, compiles endless lists and drawn up dozens of family trees, colour coded and indexed of course. Sigh. Writing is taking a back seat for the moment. I'm hoping I'll run out of steam - or ancestors - soon. In the meantime, at least I have my little fey

The moon, just past full, was still a bright disc, brushing the top of the mountains, before dipping down to hold court at the end of a silver-blue carpet, richer than any red carpet ever was. A light wind brushed the surface of the lake, raising ripples like goosebumps on the water and on Owen’s arms. He shivered and gazed out over the choppy water and signed, turning the loaf of half-baked bread in his hand. He hadn’t bothered to put it in a box this time. To be honest, he felt like throwing it into the water, or right at the face of the arrogant faery.
Yesterday’s experience had been even worse than the day before. The faery had thrown the over-baked bread away, scorning Owen’s choked words – Over baked bread to represent the hard wall of our differences, that stand between us. The silvery peals of his laughter endured to follow Owen home. For a second time he’d ranted at Aggie and had endured another lecture about foolishness.
This was his last chance, and despite Aggie’s reluctant assurances, he wasn’t hopeful. He went over the words in his head and sighed. They meant no more to him that the previous days had.
The bread was still slightly warm and Owen hugged it to his chest. The weather was turning and there was a definite chill to the air. The summer was almost over, as was his pursuit of the elusive fey. He’d promised himself, and Aggie. that tonight would be the last attempt, and it was a promise he meant to keep no matter how much it cost him. He’d go home and forget he’d ever met the arrogant little shit. He snorted aloud. Right. And who was he kidding? He sighed again, eager to get it over with and back to his warm bed.
The glow from the lake’s heart caught him by surprise, but not so much as the speed with which the fey rose and sped toward him, stopping little more than arm’s reach away. As before, he was naked, his long, slender body on full display. Owen’s eyes roved downward and he licked his lips. Magic reached for him and his mind began to sink into it.
Then, the fey held out his hand and demanded imperiously. “My gift, human. I hope you’ve made more of an effort this time.”
Anger snatched Owen’s consciousness out from under the blanket that sought to smother it.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” he yelled.
The shocked fey blinked, seeming for a moment to be both much younger and immeasurably older than he had before.
For a breath’s space, Owen was unsure if he wanted to go ahead. Perhaps Aggie was right and the fey presented more trouble than he was worth. However, the flash of vulnerability he’d caught in the fey’s glance tugged at him. The spell was gone, the glamour fallen away and somehow the fey was more real, more approachable, and lovelier than ever.
He thrust the loaf at the faery. “Half-baked. Like you, really. I don’t see where you get off with your bullshit. You’re no better than me; just different. At least I’m not bloody rude and so damn up my own arse I could clean my teeth with my toes from the inside. Here, have your bread. It symbolizes a moment in time. Before everything changes. Half way.” He thought hard, pondering again that Aggie was belabouring the point but faithfully repeating as he’d been taught. “The in between. The fey point, filled with promise and possibility.”
Owen faltered because, as his words fell, one by one, they seemed to float in the air between them and the fey’s expression changed from scorn, to shock, to wonder.
“Who?” he whispered at last, and it broke the spell.
Owen shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. It was a stupid idea anyway.” He turned, fully intending to walk away.
“Stop,” the fey commanded.
Owen took a few more steps.
Owen continued walking.
That got him. He froze. The arrogance had suddenly dropped away and the last word had been filled with – what? Longing? Uncertainty? Hope?
Owen turned slowly. The fey had floated closer still and his feet touched the pebbly shore, even though they were still lapped by water that was even more agitated than before.
“Please,” the fey repeated. He seemed confused now.
“What?” Owen snapped, reluctant to return. Something had changed, and as amorphous as it was, he recognized the potential. Somehow, the words had become real, changed reality to make themselves true. Owen recognized that they were actually in that moment; the fey point; the in between. The world was slipping away and magic crackled and popped around them.
“I…don’t know what to do,” the fey boy said, a frown creasing his smooth forehead, drawing together perfectly arched brows.
“Not used to anyone getting this far, eh?” Owen said, his voice dripping with scorn.
The boy winced. “Not used to humans.”
Shit. The fey seemed to be getting more solid, less magical. He sounded almost…. Without thinking about it, Owen took a step closer. Then another. He stopped when he was so close he could see the tiny drops of water that sparkled in the fey’s hair, like crystals.
For a long, stretched moment the two gazed at each other. Owen noted that the fey’s eyes weren’t silver after all, but pale blue with a ring of turquoise around the pupil. Would that intensify in daylight when the pupils were contracted?
“What’s your name?”
The fey boy winced, his eyes narrowing in an expression of suspicion and wariness. As well he might: names have power, even more so in the faery world.
“Mine’s Owen. Owen Prentis.”
After what seemed like a long time, the boy’s narrowed eyes relaxed and he nodded sharply. “Bran,” he said.
“Bran?” Owen repeated in surprise.
Bran pursed his lips, and Owen swiftly realized what he’d done. All words had power, but names… to mock a name was a terrible insult to the fey. Aggie had drummed that into his head from day one. “Every plant, every animal, every living creature on this good earth has a true name. Learn them and you will always have power at your fingertips. But use them wisely, because power can turn, boy.”

“No. I didn’t mean…. It’s a lovely name. It’s just… It means crow…or raven and you’re not….” He waved his hand at Bran, whose pale skin shivered and shone like moonlight. “…black.”

Now go check out the other briefers for some truly fantastic stories.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Wednesday Briefs. The Faery of Beacon Lake Part 4

My these Wednesdays are rolling around fast. This week I chose the prompt "Fucking haha. Very funny." Maybe it is a little out of character for Owen to say that to his grandmother, but he was very stressed at the time. Aggie let it go graciously - which means he owes her one.

The hush, as complete as it had ever been, seemed to deepen further, and the hair all over Owen’s body crawled and lifted. As before, the world held its breath. Owen held his with her.
Minutes ticked by as Owen scanned the water for any sign of movement. At his back, the black mountains were a looming presence that pressed on his mind.
Was it just his straining mind or was there a faint blue glow deep in the water? Yes.
The glow increased in size and intensity. In its very heart, a darker shape took form.
With a suddenness that startled Owen back a step, the water erupted in a fume that shot ten feet into the air. Owen blinked against the spray, and when he opened his eyes the water was smooth again. Poised on the surface, the boy who’d taken his breath smiled and stole his heart.
Although there was no breeze, the boy’s long, silver hair blew around him, seemingly having life of its own. It was all that protected his modesty. Not that he appeared in any way to be modest. As usual, he was entirely naked and unashamed.
Usually, this was where the vision ended. As soon as he became aware of Owen’s scrutiny, the boy would sink again. The pale blue light would wink out in moments. Owen had been forced to watch from a distance. Tonight, the boy floated closer, almost reaching the bank. Owen gaped, awed by the delicate strength of the candle-straight fey, who glowed with the same pale light that illuminated the water beneath him.
“You have a gift.”
Owen was even more mesmerized, unable to process thoughts or find words, lost in the music that was the fairy’s voice. Cold laughter shocked him like a bucket of iced water poured over his head.
“Foolish human. My gift.” The boy held out his hand, his light voice heavy with command. He watched imperiously down his nose, waiting.
Owen stared blankly for a moment, then shook himself and offered the box. His numb mind struggled to find the words Aggie had taught him. He’d laughed at her when she’d grilled him, making him repeat them over and over. He wasn’t laughing now.
“It…er…it’s…. It’s bread. Well, almost. Unbaked. Dough, I suppose. Maybe. Um. It...it’s…. It represents a…a relationship unformed. L…like ours.”
The fey made no effort to take the box. For a long moment, he observed Owed with his head tilted to one side. Then he laughed. The laughter was mirthless and spiteful.
“Relationship? You presume too much, human.”
Before Owen could say another word, the faery sped backward then disappeared beneath the surface.
“Wait! No!”
It was no good. Not so much as a single ripple remained, and the water was as deep and dark as it had ever been.
“Dammit.” Owen flung the bread into the lake, then stomped off along the path into the pass. Aggie had told him the fey wouldn’t accept the first gift, but even so – the smug little bastard didn’t have to be such a dick about it.
Aggie didn’t look up when he stormed through the door.
“Didn’t go so well then.”
He threw himself into a chair and folded his arms across his chest.
Aggie chuckled.
“What?” Owen demanded. “You think it was so funny? Fucking haha. So funny."Owen bit his lip and fumed. His voice was tight, and he had to spit out the words. “He laughed at me. He didn’t just say no, he laughed.”
The mirth dropped from Aggie’s voice and expression. “You’ve no one to blame but yourself. I’ve warned you I don’t know how many times. I told you. The fey folk are different to humans. They might look the same, but they’re made of different stuff. They’ve no time for your foolishness.”
“Is that what you think it is? Foolishness?”
“You know exactly what I think.”
Aggie slammed a mug of cocoa on the table in front of him, then stood with her arms folded and lips pursed.
Owen examined the rough grain of the wood under his mug. The table was the heart of the kitchen. Built from one complete oak trunk, it could have seated twenty people. Owen had no idea how it had got through the door, and was half convinced the house had been built around it. Owen had had so many happy times around this table, so many heart breaks were spilled onto it, so many hopes and dreams discusses and explored.
“I know you don’t believe me,” he said, his eyes fixed on the mug, “and that you think I’m under a spell or a glamour, or something. I suppose it’s what I’d think too, if I were you. But it’s not like that. This weird feeling. The… the drive or push or…whatever, was there before I ever saw him. I know in my heart that the… whatever it is, is meant to be.”
“I know,” Aggie said, her voice tight. “But I still think you’re a damn fool.”
Owen flashed her a rueful smile. “I agree with you.

And now for the rest of our fine flashers

Monday, 29 January 2018

Undone by M Noel and R Phoenix

Book: Undone
Author(s): Morgan Noel & R. Phoenix
Approximately 122,000 words.


Leandro is a capricious fae, and he has it all: a glamorous casino as his personal playground, more power than he knows what to do with, and Kol’tso, his pet incubus. When Kol’tso tries to push the boundaries of their relationship and provokes feelings in Bryce, a nosy detective, the arrangement becomes more and more complicated. Kol’tso soon finds out there is a high price to pay for angering one of the fae. He finds himself trapped between his nature as an incubus and his desire for freedom. Leandro and his personal security guard Gideon may just be the only obstacles standing between the incubus and everything he wants.

Buy Link: http://amzn.to/2ndBkpx


“What is it, Kol’tso? Did you finally decide you were hungry?” Leandro asked petulantly, stretching out in the tub as though seeing his incubus didn't make him ache in more ways than one. He pointed to his empty glass. “I'll need another if that's what you're after.” His words were met with silence, though there was something dark and dangerous behind the incubus’ eyes that he couldn't place. It looked like anger, terrible anger, and it was in brief moments like this that the slave looked disturbingly fae — and suspiciously like him... If someone didn't know better, they might’ve even been fooled. Leandro wasn’t sure he liked that.

The moment faded, and Kolt looked at the drink in his hand before looking back at the empty glass. Without a word, he stepped closer, right up to the edge of the counter by the tub where he wordlessly exchanged one glass for the other.

“Do you want me here, or should I just go back down?” the incubus asked, his voice quiet, guarded, as if he was expecting bad news.

Leandro didn't know which answer Kol’tso would prefer. “Where do you think your place is, Kolt?” Leandro asked, drinking from the glass before offering it back to the incubus in what he thought was a conciliatory gesture. “Here, at my side? Or somewhere away from me?”

That terrible rage threatened to break through the surface, and he wasn’t sure if it was his own or Kolt’s — and the fact that he had to wonder infuriated him. Kolt needed to remember he was a slave. Perhaps he’d been too lenient…

“Wherever you want me,” Kolt answered flatly. “Which is apparently somewhere way at the bottom of your contact list, after Gideon and even your pet detective,” the incubus added, his bitterness clear as day.

Or perhaps he hadn’t been too lenient. “Oh, Kolt,” Leandro said, his voice softening. He straightened, gently pressing the drink into his incubus’ hand. “I knew that would take only moments. I wanted it out of the way so I could give you all of the attention you deserve.”

“And what do I deserve?” Kolt questioned in turn, bringing the glass up to his lips but not drinking from it.

“My entire focus,” Leandro said, rising. Water slid down his body into the large tub, and he reached out and touched Kolt’s cheek with one wet hand. “No distractions. You and me, Kolt, together.”

“Yeah?” Kolt mused, his eyes narrowing a little. “So lock the door…?”

“Lock it,” Leandro purred, stepping out of the tub. “Shut out the world. No one else exists tonight, my Kol’tso, except the two of us.”

Author Bios & Social Media: 

R. Phoenix

R. Phoenix (code name: Raissa) has an unhealthy fascination with contrasts: light and dark, humor and pain, heroes and villains, order and chaos. She believes love can corrupt, power can redeem and that the best of intentions can cast shadows while the worst can create light. She agrees with those who say that the truth is best told through fiction — even though fiction has to make sense while reality can be utterly baffling.

She loves chatting with readers, though she often awkwardly rambles. No matter how much she tries to keep her bad and often perverted sense of humor in check, it seems to escape at the most inconvenient moments. (Thanks, universe.) Feel free to friend Raissa on Facebook and chat or send her an email!

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/r.phoenix

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/raissaphoenix/

Twitter: @RaissaPhoenix

Email: raissa(dot)phoenix(at)gmail(dot)com

Morgan Noel

Fluent in sarcasm and double entendre, devourer of cookies and champion pizza consumer. Pantser who doesn't play by the rules. The Kraken has been released, so long and thanks for all the fish!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/morgan.noel.71271

Email: authormorgannoel(at)gmail(dot)com

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

WEDNESDAY BRIEFS: The Fairy Of Beacon Lake Part 3

I didn't get a prompt this week so the brief is free range.

I hope you enjoy.

Hours later, close to midnight, Owen scrambled down the path toward the lake. A low moon lit his path but leeched colour from the world, turning it blue and silver. Owen shivered and pulled his coat closer around his throat. It was late summer but already the nights were turning cold. He clutched the parcel he was holding tight against his chest. He was by no means convinced that the “gift” Aggie had provided would bring anything but scornful laughter, but she’d never let him down before. Three nights, she’d told him. “Three nights. Three gifts. Then we’ll see.”

The lake lay at the foot of a rippled mountain range that staggered around it in a broken semicircle. It was as if some giant had come along when the earth was forming, found it to be whipped and light like mousse and took a spoonful. One side of the rough bowl was steep and almost fluted, while the other, after a slight rise over the lip, swept gently downwards into the valley below. It was over this lip that Owen now strolled, following a well-worn path from the top of the cliff, between two of its ripples where the slope was less rocky and steep. Even so, it was uneasy going for those unused to it, especially at night. Fortunately, Own had wandered the sheep paths all his life and his feet were sure enough to navigate with far less light than the moon provided.

By the time he reached the bank, a strange hush had fallen. It was this that had drawn him here the first time. He’d been walking back from somewhere, Gethin’s probably. It was before they’d both left for uni. It was a shame Gethin had chosen Cambridge. Owen missed his friend, but he had neither the means nor the desire to attend such a prestigious university – or such an English one. He was lucky the course he wanted was available at Swansea, which was not much more than an hour away, giving him plenty of opportunity to come home to see to Aggie.

On the last night before Gethin left, they’d had a going away party in the village hall. He’d gone back to Gethin’s after, and, fair play, he did have a belly-full of cider before he even got there. When everyone else had gone, Gethin had opened a bottle of Penderyn whiskey. It turned out to be his father’s and to say Gethin Snr was displeased would be understatement of the year. By the time Owen staggered along the path over the cliff tops he was as pissed as a parrot.

He hadn’t noticed at first. That silence. There was always sound. The wind. Small things in the grass. Bigger things eating the grass. Sheep that is. There were sheep everywhere. Bloody nuisances. At least they didn’t wander down to the village anymore. He’d been scared out of sleep plenty of times by sheep knocking the lids off the dustbins. Nowadays, the farmers had to fence them in. It was a pain having to climb stiles, but probably for the best, in the end.

That night, there had been no sheep. No owls. No anything.

By the time the silence had reached the place, deep inside his head, that was still functioning at something close to normal, he was at the place where the path diverged. The right fork led down to the lane that ran to his cottage, the other wound down to the lake. He’d hesitated for no more than a moment, before taking the left path. Some strange urgency had overtaken him and he’d sped up, tripping over rocks and almost falling more than once. When he’d reached the lake, he’d felt stupid. Panting hard, with his heart hammering against his ribs, he’d gazed out over the water, waiting to catch his breath. Then he’d seen it; he’d seen him.

There were no islands in the lake, no protruding rocks or stepping stones, yet there he’d been apparently sitting on the surface of the water itself, combing hair that must have been three feet long, 
silver in the moonlight.

At first, Owen had though him to be a mermaid. It had taken a while of breathless voyeurism to discover he was male. It had, in fact, been the point when, as if he’d known Owen was watching, the boy had flowed up to stand on the water. Half-turning he’d stretched upward, then arched his back, giving Owen a perfect view of a long, lean body with a defined musculature and…. Of course he’d looked. He couldn’t help looking. A lovely boy, naked in the moonlight? Where the hell was Owen’s gaze supposed to go? Downwards of course. His cock was perfect.

Owen shivered again. One look was all he’d got before the boy spun and sank into the water. For an instant Owen had been worried, but he’d known all along, in the back of his mind, that this was no ordinary boy. Although he’d tried to blame it on his drunkenness, Owen knew he’d seen a fairy.  Of course, he’d said nothing to anyone. Neither had he told of the sightings he’d had since. Four – no five – times he’d stood just here on the bank and watched the boy rise to sit on an invisible rock and comb his hair. The last few times, the lilting notes of a strange song had floated to Owen on the wind and he’d become entranced, sometimes finding himself alone on the shore with the dawn breaking and no memory of what had happened. Of course, he hadn’t told Aggie that part. She never would have helped him if she’d known he was already under the fairy boy’s spell.

With a sigh, Owen clutched the box containing Aggie’s gift tighter to his chest. What if it didn’t work? What if it did?

Now's the time to head off and find out what the other flashers are offering this week

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

WEDNESDAY BRIEFS The Fairy of Beacon Lake Part 2

It was hard to choose a prompt this week. I really wanted to use this one

because it's just so spectacularly amazing. However, it doesn't really go with what I wanted to say and is definitely not right for my fairy. However, Cernunnos is a Celtic pagan god and both Owen and Aggie are pagan, so it tenuously fits. However, given I've only just come back I figure tenuously might not be enough so instead I chose "How many times do I have to tell you?" which fits much better.

I hope you enjoy.

“Gran, please. You’ve got to help me. Tell me what to do; how to get him to notice me.”

“He’s noticed you, boy. You can be sure of that.”

“Alright then, not notice. Pay attention. How do I make him pay attention to me?”

“Make him? You’d be a fine one to make the fey do anything. A better man than me, for sure.”

“Gran.” Owen ground his teeth.  His grandmother never gave a straight answer to questions like this, and she wouldn’t be pushed. Pleading and cajoling would get him nowhere. Taking a breath, he modulated his voice. “Okay, I don’t want to make him do anything, but I….”

Owen paused. Time to choose his words carefully. Any suggestion of love would be met with humiliating derision. Aggie Morton didn’t pull her punches and made no secret of the fact she thought love was nothing but a cruel illusion.

Sitting astride a wooden, kitchen chair, he watched for a while as his grandmother went about making their evening meal. He’d long ago stopped trying to persuade her to modernize her home and she still cooked over an open fire on a long, black-lead stove. At least she had electricity now and he’d made sure she had electric heaters to keep warm if she wasn’t up to chopping wood. She had a freezer, too, and a microwave, but she kept both in the shed, along with the heaters, still in their boxes.

Bending to sip from a wooden spoon bigger than his hand, out of a cauldron that might well have weighed more than his nine-year-old sister, she was positively witchy. Not that she’d admit to being a witch. She preferred “wise woman” and swore that all her potions, remedies and good advice were nothing more than “knowing the way the world works”. She was a no-nonsense person with no times for such things as magic and love. Dreams, on the other hand, she was much in favour of. When Owen had chosen to do a Creative Writing Degree rather than the Business course his father was pushing for, it was Aggie who had taken his side, insisting that words had power and learning to
wield them well could get a young man a long way in the world.

Time to draw from the well and find some words.

“I know you think the fey are dangerous and I agree with you, I really do. I’ve seen enough over the years, and learned from you to be on my guard. I won’t take anything at face value and I know all the rules about not following music or light, not eating or drinking and never going to sleep in a fairy circle. I won’t get lured into anything or fooled by glamour.”

“Seems like you already have been.”

Agatha put down her spoon and tilted Owen’s face up. He met her gaze calmly. “Hmpf. You’ve been lucky so far. I don’t see no sign of enchantment on you. But be careful. There’s more than one way to put a spell on a man, and I’ll bet that boy knows them all.”

Owen dropped his head, long strands of vibrant blue hair falling forward to curtain him. He tapped his fingers against the scrubbed wood of the kitchen table. “You know I won’t give up. I’ll figure it out somehow, with or without your help. I just want to do it right.”

“How many times do I have to tell you there is no right way to court a fairy,” Agatha snapped. “Fey and human don’t mix. Never have; never will. No relationship I’ve ever heard of has brought anything but tears in the end.”

“A lot of relationships bring tears, Gran. That’s why I’m here, remember?”

“Yes, and I thought you’d have learned your lesson.” Agatha dunked the spoon and stirred rather more aggressively than the recipe warranted.

“What lesson? That love is bad for you?” He huffed. “I suppose it is. When it goes wrong. I just haven’t had much luck finding the right person.”

“The right person? Seems to me you’ve done your best to find the wrong ones.”

Owen shrugged. “I can’t argue with you there.”

Aggie sighed and set down the spoon again. She laid a hand on Owen’s shoulder. He glanced up. Her gaze was grave. “I thought we were going to lose you this time, boy.”

Owen shivered and nodded. “There were times where I thought so, too.”

“Haven’t you had enough to be done with love for a while?”

He closed his hand over hers and rested his cheek against her arm. She moved in to embrace him as she always did when he was hurt or sad. Her earthy scent surrounded him, wrapping him in safety and stability.

“That’s the point. It stopped being love a long time ago.”

“And you really want to be so quick to jump back in? This isn’t love either, you know.”

“I know. Not yet, but I have a feeling it could be.”

“A feeling eh? I know those kinds of feelings, and they rarely lead to good decisions.”

Owen twisted to gaze up at her. “Probably not, but I’ve always got you to pull me out of the lake if he tries to drown me.”

Aggie glared at him for a moment, then her rosy cheeks dimpled. “Oh, very well. I’ll help you. I never could say no to that smile. On your head be it, mind. I’ll pull your body out of the lake, but I’ll do nothing to mend your heart when he breaks it. That’s a consequence you have to work through all on your own.”

“I don’t think he’ll break my heart.”

“Oh, he will. Maybe not for a very long time, but he will in the end. They always do.”

Now's the time to head off and find out what the other flashers are offering this week

Monday, 15 January 2018

Review of Misdemeanour and Hard Times by C F White

Buy Link
Buy Link


Book one in the Responsible Adult serial

Love isn’t always responsible

After his mother tragically dies and his deadbeat father goes off the rails, nineteen-year-old Micky is left to care for his disabled little brother, Flynn.

Juggling college, a dead-end job and Flynn’s special needs means Micky has to put his bad-boy past behind him and be the responsible adult to keep his brother out of care. He doesn’t have time for anything else in his life.

Until he meets Dan…


Micky was a bad boy. Who knows all he got up to, but some of it, at least, wasn’t legal.

That was before his mother died and he kicked his drunken, abusive father out of the house to take care of his young brother, Fynn. Fynn suffers from Williams Syndrome, a rare condition that causes some physical and developmental problems that makes Flynn overly social, trusting and a challenge to bring up.

The authorities are not happy about the situation at all, and Micky struggles to stay one step ahead of them. Time is running out as no one really believes he has adult supervision any longer. Micky is terrified that his past will preclude him from caring for Flynn if they’re caught

There are some amazing touches that hit you right in the feels, such as the post box the boys have in their garden where Flynn posts letters to his mother. Micky tells him their mother comes in the night to read them and if he’s asleep she kisses him goodnight.

The characters are so real that by the end of the book it was almost as if I knew them personally.
Micky is certainly no angel, neither does he pretend to be.

Dan, a harassed store manager and Micky’s boss knows about his background but cares for him anyway, even though his faith is strained sometimes. He’s a solid, well adjusted person whose life is turned upside down by Micky and Flynn, but he hangs in there and helps Micky to learn how to adult, and tried to convince him that being an adult sometimes involves making hard decisions.

Flynn is just Flynn. There’s no one like him. He’s utterly adorable and I loved the heck out of him.
He trusts his brother implicitly, and he trusts everyone else almost as much. He’s so vulnerable and loving you find yourself holding your breath every time something threatens the home Micky has made for and with him.

The author calls the story gritty, and I suppose it is, but in a warm way and even when bad things happen there’s a warmth to them.

I did some research on Williams Syndrome and the author really knows her stuff. Like autism, it’s a bundle of possible symptoms that present differently in each person, with certain uniform characteristics. It is also known as Elfin Face Syndrome, which I think is perfect for Flynn who is such an innocent, affectionate, faery-like creature.

I warn you, this book ends in a cliffhanger. The title of the next book “Hard Time” might give you a clue as to what that is. Thankfully, I’m moving on to the next one immediately and I suggest you have the second book ready.

This is a wonderful, warm book with a high level of realism, and yes, a grittiness that spotlights a difficult life and someone struggling with an almost intolerable situation. However, there is humour, kindness and enduring love throughout that makes it a challenging but rewarding read.


Book two in the Responsible Adult series

Love isn't always responsible.

After Micky O’Neill is remanded in custody for breaching his court order, his already tempestuous relationship with Dan Peters is tested to the limits.

Having to battle their way through a court case that could end with Micky in jail, social workers breaking up the family home and the return of Micky’s deadbeat father, it seems everything is set to destroy their relationship before it even has the chance to start.

With such high stakes involved, not just for Micky but for once-burned, twice-shy Dan, they both have to learn that falling in love isn’t always responsible.


Continuing on from Misdemeanour this book can’t be read as a standalone. Mickey, the reforming bad boy, hit rock bottom when arrested for breaching a restraining order (justifiably, I thought). At the beginning of this book, Mickey gets out of prison but he’s lost his brother, Flynn when Social Services finally caught up with them.

By a stroke of luck, Dan’s parents are foster carers, albeit retired and they are able to take Flynn, at least temporarily.

Things look up for a while, but it’s not for Mickey to have things too easy. His father makes a comeback and steals everything he owns. In an attempt to get them back, Mickey finds himself in trouble again.

The author has an amazing ability to lull you into a cosy sense of false security, before dumping a bucket of “Oh my God no” on your head. Mickey is tested at every turn and cosy domestic scenes are interspersed with much darker events. At no time are you allowed to get too comfortable and I love this.

Throughout all his trials, Dan remains a steady influence but Mickey still finds it impossible to say “I love you”, and his lack of commitment is the one thing most likely to blow them apart. That and his temper.

The workings and attitudes of social services and the courts are accurately if somewhat optimistically, represented and add to the gritty realism that pervades the books. While everything has a satisfactory outcome, it certainly wasn’t an easy one.

As usual, Flynn provides light relief with his pure innocence and truly beautiful personality. It was heart-breaking to see the author deal with the kind of bigotry children with disabilities far too often face.

When the first book ended in a cliffhanger, this one most certainly does not. The upbeat tone and sense of real hope for the future is as beautiful as the scenery and I felt as if I was coming home at last after a long, hard journey.

These two books were not easy to read, but the rewards were enormous. If you want your heartstrings tugged, torn and played like a finely tuned instrument then these are the books for you. You won’t be sorry.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Wednesday Briefs The Faery Of Beacon Lake

It's been a while, but I'm finally back in the saddle and working on my first Wednesday Brief in a very long time.

I'm not going into details of why I've been awol, let's suffice it to say that I'm writing again, I'm back and I'm hoping 2018 will be the best year yet for my writing.

To celebrate my new start, I'm starting a new story that is based on an old Welsh legend and is set very close to where I live. It only very loosely follows the legend but at least I'm supplied with a ready made story arc and I get to write about two things I love - Wales and faeries.

So, without further ado let's get into the story. It is introduced by a lady we'll get to know and love as the story progresses. Listen to her, she speaks a lot of sense.

Ancient medieval manuscripts tell the story of The Physicians of Myddfai and the lady who rose from the waters of Llyn-Y-Fan-Fach (Translated as Lake of the Small Beacon) which lies nestled in the Black Mountains near Brecon in South Wales. The story is well known in Wales, first appearing in The Red Book of Hergest and later absorbed into the quintessential collection of Welsh Folklore, The Mabinogion.
This is not that story. In this story it is not a lady who rises from the lake. It  is not set in Myddfai, nor on the banks of Llyn-Y-Fan-Fach, but an imaginary place that is reminiscent of both but infinitely more pronounceable.  



That fool of a boy had got himself mixed up with faeries. I’ve dragged him out of his fair share of scrapes over the years, sometimes by the ear, but I’m not sure I can get him out of this one.

You don’t mess with faeries. I don’t know how many times I’ve told him that. They’re not human and don’t take the trouble to try – not unless they want something, and that never turns out well for the human involved.

It’s not so much that you can’t trust the fey folk, but more that they don’t trust you. Too many, humans are the enemy. You came tearing into fey lands, taking what suited you,  and destroying the rest, and the fey didn’t take too kindly to that.

In the very beginning, human and fey lived side-by-side. If not in harmony, then at least in peace. That was before the warriors came from across the seas and took whatever they wanted, calling it their own. That’s the difference, see? Fey take care of the land: humans think they can own it. How can you own a living thing? Living things own themselves, otherwise that’s slavery but you’ve done your fair share of that over the years, too.

‘Course you don’t call it slavery anymore, do you? You think you make your own choices in complete freedom. Humans really are fools.

For a human, Owen’s about as good are you’ll get. He’s got his head screwed on the right way, but he’s a dreamer all the same. I ask you, what boy of going-on-twenty spends all his time wandering around in the middle of the night on the mountainside? How he hasn’t broken his back, I don’t know. 

That’s what moonlight does for you, see? Makes you into fools. That’s because moonlight is magic, or to be more precise the moon-dust within the moonlight is magic. A good lungful of that is plenty to have a grown man acting like a five-year-old. Many a foolish deed were done after a night of dancing under the moonlight.

Some as knows the right ways can make real magic on the nights when the moon is full and hangs over the lake like the dug of the Mother herself. With a good suckling of moon-dust in your belly, a man could almost think himself invincible. Or even…in love.

Ah love. The most powerful magic of all. It can make a man of a boy, a child of a man and a damn 
fool of them all. Love magic is powerful stuff. Magic love? That’s a whole new ball game, and that fool boy can’t even see the park.

Falling in love with anyone is bad enough; falling for a fairy is nigh on the most stupid thing a man can do. What about a woman? Read your history. The stories of a woman drawn off the path by a pretty fey boy are rare.

Mind you, that’s exactly what’s set our Owen’s blood afire – a pretty fey boy. Not that I’ve seen him, but it’s rare a fey is ordinary. Ugly or beautiful but never in between. A people born and raised on the extremes. Afraid of the in between? Perhaps. But they’ve good cause to be.

I told that boy not to go wandering around near the lake in the moonlight. Lakes are doorways, see. Lakes and mirrors both, like caves and wild places. They are the in between, where two worlds touch and folk foolish enough can be lured from one side to the other. At least Owen came back to tell of it.
It’s rare nowadays for the fey to steal someone away. There was a time when no mother would settle for the night without setting iron in her baby’s cradle, lest the fair folk come in the night and steal them away, leaving a changeling in their place. Now, the fey can’t get near. If not iron, there is cold concrete and glass, poisons in the air and everywhere eyes watching.

In places like this, though, in the heart of Wales, where the old stories are still half believed, the fey have a few places where they can still pass through their gates and do no end of harm if they can get away with it. Here, the mists come down so fast and the winds blow so hard that sometimes people wander onto the mountains or down to the water, and are never seen again. Or, if they do manage to wander out, they are forever changed.  

Here, it’s still possible to meet a fairy, but if you do best beware because the fey don’t like what you’ve done to our beloved Mother Earth and we’ve no reason to play fair.

Now visit the rest of the flashers this week for some wonderful stories.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

NOW AUDIO: Pricks and Pragmatism J L Merrow


Kicked out by his father at age sixteen, English student Luke Corbin’s used to trading on his looks and charm to keep a roof over his head until he can make it big as a journalist. He goes for men with money, power and looks, in that order, and he doesn’t let emotions get in the way. But when his lover tells him it’s over, Luke finds himself homeless—just as his final exams are looming.

Moving in with geeky chemical engineer Russell may be a step down for him, but Luke can’t afford to be choosy. Fully prepared to put out as usual, Luke’s confused and frustrated when Russell refuses to take advantage of him—and even more so when he finds out Russell’s saving himself for someone special.

The more time he spends with the shy, honourable man, the more Luke finds himself bowled over by Russell’s sweetness and integrity. But just as he’s coming to terms with his own wish to be that special guy for Russell, Luke has to face facts: he’s fallen for the one man he can’t seem to charm.

Thursday, 4 January 2018


AS a not-quite-a-new-year-resolution, I decided that I wanted 2018 to be a year when I became more proactive, stop whining about how bad I am at promotion and actually tried to be better. There were spurts in 2017 but I got discouraged too easily, I hope that by going into this with the intention of learning rather than knowing what I'm doing, I'll fare better.

One of my aims is to write at least two or three blog posts on one of my blogs or my website every week. So far so good. We'll see,

Another thing I'm working hard to set up is a newsletter. I've made my very first one and now all I need are people to send it to. I very much hope that if you're reading this post you are interested enough in this crazy mind of mine to subscribe.

The first edition has a Giveaway and I'm going to include a treat in every one of them, I promise.

You can subscribe for the newsletter to the right of this post, or on my Website. I look forward to entertaining you.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Soul Infection by Katerina Ross

Soul Infection (The Sons of Gomorrah. Book 1) by Katerina Ross

“The Sons of Gomorrah” is a paranormal M/M series set in Prague, the city where anything magical might happen. But sometimes it’s dark magic.

Blurb: Tristan Todorov, formerly one of the best scholars at the legendary and sinister Scholomance school of magic, was cast out and now travels alone through Eastern Europe offering discreet services as an unlicensed magician. In a luxurious hotel in Prague where he’s been invited to investigate a suspicious series of suicides, he’s about to meet someone who will make him remember the darkest secret of his past. Will a night of lust soothe Tristan—or will it stir up something evil and dangerous, something he’s tried so desperately to forget?


Jarek slid off the bed, the coverlet still loosely draped over his shoulders and trailing behind him like a king’s cloak. In the gap between the folds, Tristan could see everything he wanted to.
“Don’t move,” Jarek told him softly. “Keep your hands to your sides.”
And Tristan obeyed.
“Interesting,” Jarek mused, trailing a finger along his collarbone.
Tristan sucked in a deep shuddering breath, but stayed still. It felt odd, letting this happen. Jarek slipped his hand lower, casually brushed it across Tristan’s perked nipple on the way, and then traced a path down his chest and over the muscles of his abdomen. Tristan’s abs went taut at the feather light touch, and Jarek laughed quietly.
“Sensitive.” He stated the obvious. He let the coverlet slip from his shoulders—an effortlessly seductive gesture, probably well-practiced. A slow, crooked smile made the expression on Jarek’s face all the more lascivious, which was most certainly the intention. “I think I know what you need.”
Tristan looked down pointedly and then up, with a hint of sarcasm. “Well, that’s kind of apparent.”
He still felt nervous, but not as much as when he’d thought of being pitied or rejected.
Jarek quirked an eyebrow at him. “Is it? Hmm. We’ll definitely come to that, but why rush things? I’m here to take care of your wishes, even the ones you’re not sure you have. Why not try something new, something unusual?” He leaned in, very close, and Tristan felt Jarek’s warm breath on his lips when he whispered, “Just let me take control for a while, and you’ll see how good I can make you feel.”
The next moment, Jarek backed off, to Tristan’s disappointment, but maintained eye contact, and Tristan felt unable to look away, as if mesmerized. The tips of Jarek’s fingers now rested lightly on his hipbones, almost where Tristan wanted them most but not moving closer.
“Say yes,” Jarek coaxed him in a low voice. “Say you give in to me tonight. It’s easy, giving in.”
“Yes,” Tristan breathed out, not sure what he’s agreeing to and not caring in the least.

Buy links:

Soul Infection (The Sons of Gomorrah. Book 1)

Evernight Publishing: 

The House of Fear (The Sons of Gomorrah. Book 2)

Evernight Publishing: 

About the author: Katerina Ross lives in Russia and works as a journalist. There are no M/M romance publishers in her country at all, so she writes hot M/M stories in English.

Social media links


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Detective Fox by Isobel Starling

Is everyone sitting comfortably? Good, let's begin. I want to tell you a story about a fox, Detective Fox.

New on Audible, just in time for Christmas

Thursday, 23 November 2017



(Sale begins and ends according to Eastern Standard Time)

  Why not take the opportunity to pick up HOSTAGE at 35% discount?

Astrin Raphael wakes up in a strange place, frightened and confused. He is told to trust someone who seems to hate him, and he tries—he really tries. However, things change rapidly when he discovers his friend is actually his archenemy, Rowan Gabriel, whose abusive behavior stems from a deeply ingrained, if unwarranted, hatred over something that happened many years before, and simply wasn’t Astrin’s fault.

When Rowan's uncle and Astrin's father are kidnapped by Strebo Michael, the two crown princes are catapulted into an adventure that forces them to work together, and along the way their feelings for each other grow.

Rowan is quick to let his hate go, but Astrin can’t release his inhibitions. It takes Astrin almost dying from a poisoned dagger before he finally accepts Rowan's love.

When they return home, their problems continue as their Houses try to negotiate a way for the young men to be together. It soon becomes clear at least one of them will need to relinquish his throne.

Monday, 13 November 2017

RELEASE DAY! Fairies At The Bottom Of The Garden

Facebook: NineStar Press
Facebook Readers Group: The NineStar Niche
Twitter: @NineStarPress

Author: Cheryl Headford

Release Date: November 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-947904-22-4

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Category: Romance

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Word Count: 84700

Sex Content: Explicit/Fade to Black

Pairing: MM

Orientation: Gay

Identity: Cisgender

Purchase Links:

Book Blurb

All Keiron wants is a quiet life. Fat chance with a boyfriend like Bren. But if he thought Bren complicated his life, that was nothing compared to the complications that begin when he opens the door to what he thinks is a naked boy claiming to be his slave.

Draven is a fairy with his sights set on the handsome human who keeps a wild place in the garden for fairies. When Draven slips through a fairy gate into the city, he sets in motion a series of events that binds him to Keiron forever, and just might be the end of him.

While Draven explores Keiron’s world with wide-eyed wonder, Keiron does everything he can to keep Draven’s at bay, until the only way to save Draven and bring him home is to step into a world that should exist only in children stories.


Keiron hurried home at the end of a very long day, anticipating some peace and quiet. He liked a quiet life, so what had possessed him to take on a boyfriend like Bren Donovan was anyone’s guess. Whatever else it might be, life with Bren was certainly not quiet, and it was slowly wearing Keiron out.

It was almost a relief Bren wouldn’t be staying at the flat that night. Although they were practically living together, Bren had his own place and sometimes felt the need to stay there. This was usually because a member of his family—or particularly flighty friend—was coming to stay. It wasn’t as if his family wasn’t aware of their relationship, but Bren was shy about “rubbing it in their faces”. Keiron didn’t understand because Bren’s mother seemed to like him a great deal and considered him to be a stabilising influence on her son.

Keiron was a conservative person and so different to Bren, they might as well live in different worlds. As for Bren’s friends, they were usually very like him—loud, messy, and irresponsible. Keiron couldn’t stand them. He was lucky if nothing got broken, and they always left the flat in a complete mess. If Bren wanted to live in a pigsty, so be it. He could do it in his own home.

This weekend, with the bank holiday, Bren was getting both. His friends were congregating on Saturday. Then his parents and sister were coming on Sunday, and staying through until Tuesday morning. Keiron had a Bren-free weekend and was looking forward to it.

If it hadn’t been for their differences on this point, they’d have moved in together a long time ago. Bren chafed for it, but Keiron couldn’t handle his flat descending into chaos, and it wasn’t even as if Bren helped tidy up afterwards. Keiron cringed at the thought of having that chaos and therefore stress every day.

Not only that, but Bren was the most jealous person Keiron had ever come across. Keiron was constantly accused of looking at other men, and God forbid he spoke to one. Bren was a firebrand, completely living up to his fiery red-headed Irish-descended promise. Sometimes it was exciting, even invigorating, yet at other times Keiron longed for the peace and stability he used to have before Bren burst in on him. Maybe at twenty-two, he was just getting old.

Keiron ordered takeaway and, while he waited for it to arrive, wandered down to the bottom of the garden, a beer in his hand, his hair damp from the bath. The sun was still high and warm enough for him to be wearing a thin T-shirt and shorts. The smell of a barbecue drifted over from a neighbouring garden and his mouth watered.

Savouring his drink, he sank onto the stone bench under the rose arbour. It afforded a good view of the whole garden. It was a big one. A long lawn stretched ahead of him to the decking immediately outside the house, where a large wooden table, a number of items of garden furniture, and a shiny silver gas barbecue sat.

Sometimes, he had Bren’s friends around for a barbecue. They weren’t so bad out here in the garden, although they made such a mess of the barbecue itself that it took him days to get it properly clean. He smiled to himself. Sometimes, living with Bren was like having a teenage son. Fortunately, Bren was very good at things he’d hate to think any son of his could do.

The lawn was bordered on either side by flower beds and bushes, which hid the wooden fences separating his garden from the ones on either side. To his left, screened from the arbour by a yew hedge, was a garden pool with a rock fountain and fat koi swimming under lily pads. There used to be more fish—before Bren’s friends found the pond. He pursed his lips at the thought.

To the right was a shrubbery. A large variety of plants made up a wild area of about thirty square feet. Bren loved it, of course. He’d burrowed into it and, within a week, had made a green cave right in the middle. He’d floored it with an old piece of carpet he’d found on a skip. It had taken a long time and a lot of carpet-cleaner to persuade Keiron to enter it, but he had to admit, making love outside under the bushes in the darkness was something he’d come to enjoy very much.

Bren had been surprised he had such a wild place in his neat garden, in his neat life. Perhaps it was the thing that sealed the deal with Bren, who’d been reluctant to get involved with someone so unlike himself, and likely to “cramp his style”.

“But why?” he’d asked. “It doesn’t seem like you to have a wild place like this. It’s so out of place—with the garden and with you. Why haven’t you ‘tamed’ it? Everything else in your life is tame. 
You’re the most vanilla person I know—except for this.”

They were in the “cave” at the time. It was dark but warm, and they were holding each other in the afterglow of amazing sex. Keiron had smiled lazily and sighed.

“My mother used to live out in the country somewhere when she was a child. My grandmother never took to city life. She told me once there was no room in a city for life, real life. Nowhere for roots to reach the earth. No place for the fairies.”


“Oh yes, she was very superstitious about fairies. Never had anything made of iron in the garden. Put out saucers of warm milk if there was a deep frost or snow. And always had a wild place in the garden—for the fairies.”

Bren had smiled at him. “I never thought you had any of that in you, Keiron. I guess there’s hope for you yet.”

Keiron had grinned and held Bren tightly in his arms.

Keiron smiled at the memory and took a drink of his beer. Something caught his eye, and he turned towards the shrubbery. He was sure he’d seen something move, shooting across his vision, behind the trees. He stared hard, but there was nothing there. It must have been a squirrel. He saw them now and again, scrabbling for nuts under the hazel tree or acorns from the enormous oak that overhung the garden from next door.

With a sigh, he settled back and took another drink. His stomach rumbled, and he glanced at his watch, wondering when his pizza would get there. The deliveryman was a regular, and if there was no answer at the door, he’d text to say he’d arrived. So Keiron could relax and not worry about—
There was definitely something there. It moved again. He’d seen it—a flash of white. A cat? Most of the neighbours had cats, and they liked to hang about in the shrubbery, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting birds. It had taken a lot of work to get rid of the smell of cat pee from the carpet.

Ah well. Although…something nagged at the back of his mind. It wasn’t a cat. It couldn’t have been a cat because it hadn’t looked like a cat. It had looked like a person. A small person with a pale pointed face. But it had only been a fraction of a second, a flash, an impression. It was nonsense, of course.

Maybe it was one of the fairies. He smiled.

There was no further movement in the bushes, so when the text came to herald the arrival of his pizza, he wandered back into the house.

He decided to eat his stuffed-crust vegetable supreme at the kitchen table. It was a beautiful night. Other than distant strains of music drifting over from the barbecue, there was the type of silence that magnified the slightest sound. Like the silence that came with snow. It was magical.

Keiron laughed at himself. Magical? That’s what you get for thinking of fairies.

Something flashed at the window and he glanced up sharply. There was nothing there, but there had been. In that fraction of a second between his head beginning to move and his eyes orienting on the window, there had been something or someone peeping in. Someone with a small pointy face. Shit.
Take it easy. If something was there, he didn’t want to frighten it away before he found out what it was.

He took up the uneaten pizza, making a show of putting it onto a plate and into the fridge. The back door was open to let in the summer warmth, and the bin was next to it, out of sight of the window. He folded the pizza box, and headed for the bin—only he wasn’t going to the bin at all. He lifted the lid, so the sound carried out into the garden, but before he let the lid drop, he dived for the back door.
There was nothing there, but there had been. There had been someone crouching under the window, peeping in. It was someone with long white hair, a pointed face, and unnaturally blue eyes. It was all seen in the blink of an eye, and after he’d blinked, there was nothing there and no sign there ever had been.

“I know you’re there. I’ve seen you three times now,” he called into the silence. “I know what you are.” Why had he even said that? It couldn’t have been anything but a figment of his imagination. Human beings couldn’t move that fast, and it was certainly no animal. Then what? A fairy? Hah.
Smiling at his own foolishness, he went back into the house and closed the door.

He was halfway through the remaining pizza, drinking his third bottle of beer and feeling pretty mellow, when there was a soft tapping at the back door. This surprised him very much. No one ever knocked on the back door. Why would they? How could they? They’d have to be in the garden, and there were only two ways into it, the door at which they now tapped or a tiny gate right at the bottom, which would have necessitated them traipsing right through the garden. Who would do that?

With a frown, gripping the bottle in his hand like a weapon, he walked through the kitchen to the door. He could see a vague form through the frosted glass. There was definitely someone there. He wondered if they’d disappear by the time he opened the door.

When the door opened, Keiron froze. He’d never seen anything—or anyone—remotely like the creature who stood on his back doorstep.

Neither spoke.

Keiron blinked, half expecting the creature to vanish before he opened his eyes. He didn’t. He seemed human enough. A boy of seventeen or eighteen years old, with long silvery-white hair and a pretty elfin face. Long white lashes swept over the downturned eyes and skin so pale it appeared translucent, seeming almost to glow in the gathering dusk. He was slender, willowy, and completely naked.

“Who the hell are you?” Keiron eventually asked. The boy looked up and Keiron recoiled. Nothing with eyes like that could be human. They were blue, but it wasn’t any blue he’d ever seen before. It was a brilliant electric blue with a metallic sheen that marked him as something very different to anyone Keiron had ever encountered.

“Draven,” the boy said automatically in a light singsong voice.

“What do you want?”

“Whatever you want.”

“I…want…I want to know who you are and why you’re standing naked on my back doorstep.”

“I’m…Draven,” he said with an anxious little smile. “I’m yours.”

Author Bio

Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.

Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play. Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a reenactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.

It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere. In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son, dog, bearded dragon and three cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. She’s never been happier since she was made redundant and is able to devote herself entirely to her twin loves of writing and art, with a healthy smattering of magic and mayhem.