New release, old story – Reclaiming Territory

Available now on Smashwords and Amazon, and others soon when Smashwords distributes it, Reclaiming Territory, my story that was first published in the Lashings of Sauce anthology.

Reclaiming Territory

Reclaiming Territory CoverA m/m contemporary romance short (4000 words.)
Originally published in the Lashings of Sauce Anthology.


Many years ago the events of a weekend at the seaside drove Jim to make a choice he’ll always regret.

Now Jim and his lover Andy return to the place that once ended their relationship. Only there can they reconcile the past with their future together.

ISBN: 978-1-31090-210-9

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Amazon UK

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Reclaiming Territory
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Not my beeswax

Door sign Private
Twitter users might have noticed in the last few days they’ve got this new tab called “Activity”. Basically, it shows what your various Twitter contacts are up to. Who they’ve started to follow, what tweets they retweeted, or favourited, who they’ve added to lists. Personally, it makes me uncomfortable, because the first thing I thought when I saw it was “is this information any of my business?”

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Autumn, season of links and mellow fruitfulness

Here are links to some interesting bits and bobs I’ve read in September.


The man in the grey flannel suit – a post by Josh Lanyon about writing about men for women writing m/m romance genre.
5 tips for writing a series at the Loose Id authors blog – also by Josh Lanyon. He’s a busy lad this month.
A post on the Carina Press blog about the importance of not making your characters appear to live in a world of total isolation aside from the love interest!
On Jesseswave, Nicole Kimberling talks about emphasising dramatised scenes over narration and back story.
Five things writing experts won’t tell you.
18 tips on how to stand out from the slush.

The writing life

Pros and cons of publishing with small presses.
Sound advice to “let your agent be the bad guy”.
The art of avoiding burn out
Josephine Myles talks about dealing with rejection.
Some tips about using promotional postcards.

Terrible Minds – it gets its own section! How does Chuck Wendig keep coming up with all this stuff and have time to write too?

Chuck answers readers emails. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
25 things you should know about queries synopses & treatments.
25 ways to plot plan and prep your story.
25 virtues writers should possess.

Meta and opinion
Allie Ritch posts about mixing sci-fi and other genres with romance. I contributed some thoughts too.
Across the digital divide: Why “print is dead” means “poor people don’t deserve to read”.

Cross Pen

Are you a voyeur or a participant?

The Highest Price to Pay by Maisey Yates

Insert self to right. (Admittedly that's quite tempting...)

Do you read to watch the characters or to be the characters?

It’s often said of romance that the reader wants to put herself in the heroine’s place and imagine it’s her that the hero is in love with. This of course makes two assumptions, one that the reader is a woman and two, that there’s a hero and a heroine and nobody else. Neither of which are necessarily true, though women are still the biggest readers or romance. But those assumptions are a whole other can of worms; I want to talk about the idea of putting oneself in the place of the characters in the book.

There are some stories where a character who is a reader’s proxy is essential, so they can ask the pertinent questions. Doctor Watson is our reader proxy to say “Good Lord, Holmes, how did you work that out?” Sidekicks of various kinds can often serve this function – Dr. Who companions come to mind.

Stowaway cover - artwork by Anne Cain

But where do I fit in here?

People often talk about “identifying” with a character, but what do they really mean by it? Characters should be identifiable as human (unless they’re not human, of course) with human motives and desires, even if the reader doesn’t share those motives and desires. They have to be fundamentally understandable. We understand the idea of ambition and greed for power, even if we’d never arrange for a co-worker to be framed for embezzlement to secure a promotion, or have a rival for gang leadership killed. So it’s certainly possible to identify with a character without thinking of yourself in their place.

I personally have never “got” the idea of putting myself in the shoes of one of the lovers in a romance, not even in straight romance where the shoes that would fit me are bit more obvious. Who do you even choose in a m/m romance? I want to watch the characters having their romance and adventures, and root for them to win through. I want to aspire to being as clever, brave or determined as they might be. But I can’t say I’m seeing myself down amongst them in the story having this stuff happening to me.

Is this maybe more of a writerly trait than a readerly one? As I writer I’m used to the idea of moving the characters around and having them do stuff and suffer reverses and troubles. And though they come from my mind, once they are on paper they also become something outside of me, so I can’t just think of them as me with a different face. Am I more a voyeur of characters than an identifier with characters?

How about you? Do you fantasise yourself into the story, or are you watching the shenanigans from the edges?