Excerpt from Release (Rent Boys Book One) coming July 2019
Sean slipped from the barstool, ready to shoulder his way across the crowded floor. Movement caught his eye, further along at the other end of the bar. It wasn’t the push or shove of customers waving for the attention of the androgeneous barman. It wasn’t the group of guys crowded around a table laughing and joking as they knocked back the champagne, all except for one who clung onto his pint with grim determination. It wasn’t the suited group who sat on a raised area, pride of place taken by an older man who stroked the bright blond hair of a teenage boy who sat statue-still with downcast eyes. Sean let his gaze linger on the teen. He recognised what the boy was, and wondered at the thoughts he knew must be raging behind his bland, placid expression.
“I’m just waiting for my friends, so can you leave me alone, please?”
“So? What’s that got to do with me offering you a drink, or you accepting? Your friends aren’t here yet, so what’s the problem?”
The small, round table was tucked away. The lights in the bar were low. The focus was on the deep blue uplighters dotted against the bare brick walls. In a shadowy spot at the far end of the bar, the table was easy to miss. So somebody was being a bit pushy? It wasn’t his business; he had chips to buy and late night TV to watch. He’d taken no more than a couple of steps when Sean stopped.
“What’s your problem? Why don’t you want to have a drink with me? I’m just being friendly. What’s wrong with being friendly?” The words were drink slurred and edged with aggression.
“Nothing, but I’ve told you—”
“Didn’t you hear what he said? He doesn’t want a drink. Are you fucking deaf as well as stupid?”
The words were out of Sean’s mouth before he could think. This wasn’t his fight, this wasn’t his problem. What am I getting myself into? But Sean knew why he hadn’t turned and walked away. The drunk was a bully, and his hectoring voice had scratched down Sean’s spine like nails over a chalkboard. Sean took a step closer to the table, narrowing the space between him and the drunk.
“Piss off, this hasn’t got anything to do with you.” The drunk made a good effort at standing his ground, but his voice had lost its edge. He was no longer so sure of himself, the ground beneath his feet no longer so stable.
Sean said nothing, offering only a grim smile. He knew what the drunk was seeing. Tall and well-built, and with his hair cut short and severe, Sean looked like a squadie, a soldier off-duty for the night. Have you got the uniform? Have you got the fatigues? Words, and others like them, he’d had panted into his ear more than once. Sean watched as the drunk hesitated. Unexpectedly challenged, he deflated like a balloon stabbed with a pin.
The guy shrugged and walked off, banging his shoulder into Sean in a final show of defiance. Sean let him have his second or two of triumph; he was gone and it was all that mattered.
A soft and cultured voice drifted out from the shadowy corner.
“Thank you. You didn’t have to, but, thanks. I appreciate it. He, erm, didn’t seem to want to listen to me.” The added words were accompanied by a nervous, hesitant laugh.
Now that the drunk had gone, Sean gave the guy at the table his full attention. He gave Sean a lopsided smile as he swept a dark, floppy fringe away from his brow.
“Are you waiting for friends or was that just a way of telling him,” Sean said, jabbing his thumb over his shoulder, “to take a hike?” He stared down at the guy who seemed as awkward and out of place in the overpriced, pretentious bar as Sean.
The guy nodded, fiddling with the mixer stick in his glass, stirring the ice and pushing down on what looked like a whole load of salad leaves.
“I am. This wasn’t my choice, but, well…” He screwed up his nose as he looked beyond Sean and into the bar.
Sean glanced behind him, surprised to see how in just a few minutes the crowd had swelled. He turned back to the guy, and met his wry smile with one of his own.
“Yeah, well, this place was my choice, but I’ve gotta ask myself why.”
The guy laughed. “Everybody’s allowed one erroneous choice. It’s a friend’s birthday and he wanted to come here, so I didn’t get a lot of say.”
“So where is he then?”
“Late, as always. And I’m early. As always.”
Sean nodded. It really was time to make a move, but the guy had an air of vulnerability about him that, in a place like Blue, for all it was smart and swanky with prices to match was, when that was stripped away, just another meat market. Leaving the guy on his own would be like tethering a lamb to a post, and letting in the wolves. Maybe I can buy him that drink, and stay until his mate gets here… But then Sean remembered the beer, and the tiny pile of change he’d got back from the tenner he’d handed over. He glued his lips together, and nodded again.
“Look, I can—” Sean began to ask the question he told himself not to ask, but it was as far as he got.
“For Christ’s sake, Laurie, we’ve been looking for you. Didn’t you get the message, or have you turned your phone off again?”
“No. Or I don’t think so.” Laurie scrabbled for his phone. “It’s on, I couldn’t have heard—”
“Whatever. Change of plan. We’re going to The Topaz Lounge, then onto Push. Come on, you’re holding everything up. Just as always.”
Sean eyed up the guy who’d barged in, noting that he was almost as tall and well-built as himself. Almost, but not quite.
Taking no notice of Sean, the newcomer made to lurch forward, to grab at Laurie, hemmed in between the table and the end of the bar, and clutching his drink that was really a salad.
Sean moved forward, blocking the guy from reaching Laurie. It was the second time he’d stepped in without thinking, in the space of minutes. Just like with the drunk, this was none of his business, but the guy’s ill-tempered, snotty-nosed voice got under his skin as much as the drunk’s bullying had.
“Can you move out of the way?” the guy said. “We’re going.” His brow puckered in a deep frown, giving him a pissed-off look. Sean doubted he was used to having his actions thwarted. “Who’s this?”
The guy was looking at Laurie as he jerked his head at Sean. He was barely bothering to acknowledge Sean’s existence, making Sean grind his teeth together and flex the suddenly tight muscles in his shoulders.
“Get your arse into gear,” the guy said, not waiting for an answer.
“We’ve got a taxi waiting outside, which you’ll be paying for if we have to hang around any longer.”
“Toby, don’t be so bloody rude. You’re—”
“You’re the one who’s rocked up late, and I’m the one who had to stop some wanker from giving your mate a hard time.” Sean leaned forward, getting in the face of the guy Laurie had called Toby. It was a small movement, but antagonistic, maybe even aggressive, but Toby had got on Sean’s tits, and what hadn’t been Sean’s business now was.
Toby stepped back and Sean didn’t bother hiding his smirk of satisfaction. But it wasn’t just wariness Sean saw on his face, but a glimmer of concern.
Toby looked at Laurie, his brows raised in a silent question.
“Somebody took exception to me sitting in a corner and having a drink on my own. Luckily—” Laurie looked up at Sean, his eyes widening in realisation. “I’m so sorry. You got me out of a very tricky situation and I didn’t have to the manners to ask your name or even offer you a drink as a thank you.”
Even in the bar’s low lights, Sean could see the deep flush stain Laurie’s cheeks.
“No worries. It all happened so quickly. I’m Sean.”
“And I’m Laurie — as you may have gathered.” He smiled, and Sean smiled back.
“Thank you for helping out.” Toby’s words sounded like they were being dragged out of him. “Take this.”
Sean smacked Toby’s hand away, along with the note dangling between his fingers.
“What the fuck d’ya think you’re playing at?” Anger boiled up from the pit of Sean’s stomach and rushed through him. His skin pinpricked with heat, and his body stiffened as it prepared for fight of flight. Running away was’t his style.
“Toby? What the hell—?” Laurie scrambled to his feet.
“I was making the offer to buy Sean a drink, in appreciation for his assistance.”
Toby's tone was level and reasonable, but his lips twitched in a smirk Sean itched to wipe from his face. He pressed his clenched fists hard against his thighs. If he took a swing, the black suited, mic’ed-up bouncers would be on him in seconds.
The tense silence that settled on them was broken by the buzz of a phone. Toby pulled out what Sean saw was the latest, top-of-the-range mobile from his jacket pocket.
“They want to know what’s taking so long. The champagne’s already on ice at The Topaz Room, apparently.” Toby looked at Laurie. “It’s time to go.” And leave your trashy new friend behind you… Sean could have finished Toby’s sentence for him. His jaw, locked tight, was beginning to ache.
Laurie bunched up his jacket in the crook of his arm. Shuffling out from behind the table, he knocked over his abandoned, half-finished drink, flooding the surface.
“Oh, bugger,” he muttered.
Producing a wad of paper tissues from somewhere, he began to wipe up, spreading the mess rather than clearing it. Sean couldn’t help smiling. It was like watching Bambie on ice.
When I tell people I write books the third thing they ask is, where do you get your inspiration? The first two questions in case you haven’t guessed, are: mm, what’s that? and, but you’re a woman so why do you write stories about gay men? The answer to question one is self-explanatory; to question two, that’s a lot more complicated and, as we know, can be a touchy if not explosive subject.
But back to question three.
I write London-based books for a simple reason: I know the city, or at least parts of it. Some areas are as alien to me as the dark side of the moon, so I stick with what I know: the West End and Soho, vibrant and bursting with life lived across the spectrum, and Hampstead where high up on the Heath the view across London is unrivalled. For the Urban Love trilogy, however, we take a trip south, across the Thames to Vauxhall and Kennington, where my family comes from and where I grew up.
The Urban Love trilogy follows the complicated and sometimes downright fraught lives of a small and close-knit group of friends. When I started writing Loose Connection, the first book, I took a walk – and photos – to refresh my memory of the area where I wanted to set the main action in all three stories.
Every place of significance in the books exists. The real life version of the Georgian square where close friends Rick, and Archie and Zack live, is tucked behind a busy main road in Kennington. Okay, the place I refer to as The Square is a carbon-copy – not much artistic license there! I’m not going to name it, but this was where I spent lots of time as a young kid because it was where my dad’s family lived. It’s a lot more expensive but a lot less scruffy now! Jake, the fourth member of the group, lives around the corner in a flat-fronted Victorian terrace - not so swanky but certainly more Bohemian.
Which brings me to the garden.
Overgrown, unkempt, and full of artwork poking out from bushes or hidden in shadowy corners, the garden sits in the centre of a small network of streets. The garden, and the nearby café, are of particular significance for Zack as they witness both his growing realisation of the man he could be as well as his near-destruction.
I loved placing Rick, Archie and Zack, and Jake and their unfolding stories in areas I know well to invoke a sense of place. For me, as an author and reader, I like characters to be firmly rooted in their worlds – and what better world than one I know and love, and return to again and again?
The Urban Love trilogy:
Loose Connection - Rick's story
The Story of Love - Archie & Zack's story
Corporate Bodies - Jake's story
Christmas is looming and Jack De Lacy needs a solution to one hell of a fix.
Dumped by his boyfriend in favour of his best friend, Jack’s been busy bragging about the hot new man in his life.
A hot new man who doesn’t exist.
With an important function to attend where he’ll come face-to-face with his ex, Jack knows he’ll be a laughing stock when his boasts are exposed as nothing more than wishful thinking. He’s desperate but time, like his options, is running out.
Rory Kincaid is scared he won’t last another night sleeping rough on London’s frozen, snowbound streets. With all the homeless shelters full, Rory seeks refuge in the first empty doorway he stumbles across.
Finding Rory shivering in the sub-zero temperatures, Jack can no more send him away than kick a puppy out into the cold. A shower, shave and hot drink later, and the grubby street kid is transformed into a beautiful young man.
As the attraction between them grows, so does a plan that will get Jack out of the mess he’s in and give Rory a warm, safe home for Christmas. Sweet and adorable, Rory will make a great fake boyfriend for the festive season – the problem is, neither Jack nor Rory is sure where the make believe ends and the truth begins.
Warning: this 37k novella contains a camp Christmas tree, a drag queen Christmas fairy called Doris, way too many jugs of eggnog, a closet posh boy, and the sweetest Kiss Before Christmas ever.
Live on Amazon, and available to read in KU, from 15th November .
Captive Hearts is the first book in my Deviant Hearts series, and is due to be released in late February 2018. Set in contemporary London, Captive Hearts follows Dashiell Slater and Billy Grace's forbidden romance. Written in alternating 1st POV, this extract is from Billy's perspective. Billy's ready to fall, but Dashiell's there to catch him...
"We really must stop meeting like this."
Dashiell leaned against the wall, his legs crossed at the ankle and his hands in his trouser pockets. He looked at ease, and was smiling with all the warmth of earlier.
"You okay?" He bent his head to the side and looked at me, and a small frown furrowed his brow. When I didn’t answer he pushed himself away from the wall and took a step towards me.
"Yes, I'm fine." I was anything but fine, because that smile brought back what I’d seen in his eyes as we’d stood by the wall. He had no right to look at me like that, not when there wasn’t a thing he or I could do about it.
"Are you? You seem very, I don’t know, muted I suppose the word is. Yes, muted."
I wanted to scream. Yeah, I was muted, all right. Muted, meek, mild, compliant, silent. All those words and more were my default mode. It was what was expected of me, and I played my part well because muted and all the rest of it got me through each day.
"I'm okay. I should get back," I mumbled, and I made to walk past but Dashiell caught my arm and stopped me in my tracks. I stared down at his hand, wrapped around my forearm. A few fine dark hairs were scattered over the pale skin. His hands were calloused, as though he was used to rough or outdoor work, but it was his fingers I noticed, long and slender, and I wondered, just for a moment, what he might do with those fingers and how they might feel as they traced their way across my skin.
"No, you're not."
No, I wasn't all right. I was as far from all right as it was possible to be, but I tugged my arm out from his grip. I needed to get back, to the noise and the heat and Frankie's insistent squeezing and rubbing of my thigh under the linen-draped table. That’s what I needed to do, but instead I looked up into Dashiell's big blue eyes, eyes that were looking back at me with concern and compassion. I honestly didn't know if what I was seeing was genuine, or whether Dashiell was under orders from Frankie to test me, and trip me up, but at that moment none of that mattered as I stood there and unraveled.
Dashiell’s arms wrapped themselves around me, holding me up and holding me tight. There was no heat, nothing sexual in his touch, there was just warmth and strength, and I just couldn’t hold back. I cried. Big, fat, messy sobs, and it wasn’t pretty. I had snot running from my nose and drool from my mouth, and I was getting it all over his suit, the suit he looked fuck-off gorgeous in. I couldn't help any of it, and all I wanted was for Dashiell to hold me in his arms, a temporary safe haven from the mess that was my life.
"You can trust me, I'm not like the others. With whatever you need. If you want to talk—”
"There’s nothing to talk about. It is what it is.” I stepped back and dragged my hand across my face to wipe away the snot and tears. The wave was receding, and I was feeling a bit stupid as I battled to regain the control I’d lost that had resulted in me melting into a slushy puddle.
"He's asked me to report any unusual activity."
"So you're a spy? Your daily reports are just going to be a pile of blank pages." Perhaps I should have been angry, but I didn’t have the energy.
"No, I'm not. And I never would be, for that man."
Dashiell looked down at me. His eyes were still kind, but there was something else there too, as if he were thinking, and working something out.
"You don’t believe me? Would I have told you that if I intended to do it?"
"Why would you go against his orders? Frankie's not a man to make angry." If there was anyone who knew that, it was me, and I had the faded bruises and faint scars to prove it.
"Maybe I don't like being told what to do."
"I—" I didn't get any further. Dashiell pressed a forefinger to my lips, and the rest of the words melted away.
"Sometimes you just have to trust somebody, and that somebody's me."
His words were matter of fact, as if my trusting him was some kind of done deal. And you know what? In that moment that was exactly what it felt like. I nodded and Dashiell smiled big, broad and this time just a touch cocky, and God, didn't I just want him to pull me back into this arms.
"Come on, let's get back out there," he said.
He was right, because being away for too long wasn't a good idea, but as I washed and dried my face, and walked through the door Dashiell held open for me, I felt a calm I thought had been lost to me forever.
As we head towards the last days of 2017, I thought I'd post a taster of what will be my first release of 2018. I've still a handful of chapters to go, and the book will need some heavy duty editing (including this extract).
This is Billy and Dashiell's story (DASH-uhhll, although pronounciations vary). That's not the title, because I have no idea what to call it! This is a departure for me, as the story is written in 1st person POV. This is where Billy and Dashiell meet for the first time and it's from Dashiell's point of view. Be warned, it ain't a romantic start...
My thoughts shifted to the beers in the fridge at home and some late evening telly. That pulled me up short. Here I was walking out of a bar filled with plenty of men I could have some no-strings fun with, and I was looking forward to sprawling out in front of the box watching a re-run of Terminator. It was almost enough to make me turn around, go back to the others and let Andy pay for me. But not quite. Maybe I'd drop into The Crown on the way home, the drinks were a fraction of the price and there was always some fun to be had. My hand went to the back pocket of my jeans, feeling the flat little packets. Yep, everything was there for the night ahead. But there was one thing I needed first, and that was a piss.
Instead of pushing my way out onto the street, I followed the sign to the toilets, pointing up a narrow set of stairs. At the top and down a long corridor, and through another set of doors, they were cut off from the busy bar at ground level and very little of the noise from below filtered its way upwards. Which is why I could hear the muffled cries and grunts and gasps, and the laughter. I hesitated. I didn't want to walk in on a couple of guys getting down and dirty, but I was straining to relieve myself. There was no way I was going make it more than a hundred yards, let alone home. If anybody was getting their end away, they could do the decent thing and lock themselves in one of the cubicles. I pushed the door and it didn't move. I pushed again, harder this time, and it opened an inch or two before it was slammed back. Somebody was deliberately blocking it. Another cry came through the door and a sharp gasp. Whoever was in there wasn't there because they wanted to be, and they weren't having fun. I put my shoulder to the door, and shoved hard. It flew open and I staggered in, just keeping my footing. And stopped dead.
The kid who'd come in earlier was pushed front first up against the wall. There was a smear of red on the wall tiles, from the blood that was running from his nose. His jeans and briefs were half way down his legs but his jeans were tight enough that they didn’t allow him to splay his legs, and all I could think was thank Christ for that.
A guy was pressed up against him, one hand on the kid's neck. With the other, he was rummaging around his flies, his dick already out.
"Fuck off, this is none of your business," he hissed.
"Yeah. Do yourself a favour and go, or wait and take your turn." The words were accompanied by a filthy laugh and I swung around. The guy I'd shoved away from the door was sharp featured, and feral looking. I didn't stop to answer, instead I shot my fist forward. A spray of blood, a high pitched wail and he crumpled to his knees, his hands clamped to his face as he crawled away. The guy just behind the kid fumbled his dick, now as limp as spaghetti, into his jeans. Maybe he thought getting into a punch-up with his cock flapping around wasn't the best of ideas, but whatever, it delayed his reaction and he jack-knifed in two when I landed a punch in the centre of his stomach, before I kicked him and he collapsed into a groaning, gasping ball on the tiled floor.
"Are you all right?" I asked the kid. Stupid, stupid words. How could he be all right? But I didn't know what else to say. I didn't know whether to touch him, to lead him over to the sink and wash away the blood that was already drying around his nose and upper lip. But there was one thing I did need to do. I pulled out my phone, ready to call the police.
"No. No, don't do that," the kid barked at me as he yanked his jeans up.
"I said no. The police can't be involved."
His voice was shaking, but I heard the determination in them. And the fear. Why—? And then I remembered the older guy whose arm the kid had been draped over, and the men milling around looking like extras in a gangster film. Men who wouldn't appreciate the involvement of the law, even if it were to investigate the attempted rape of one of their own.
"Besides, there's no evidence. Nothing happened, and there’s nobody to take in for questioning. Look around you, they've gone."
I turned around. He was right. I’d been so focused on him that I hadn’t heard the vermin who'd attacked him crawl off, hopefully to die, but I'd not hit either of them hard enough for that.
"Thanks for your help, but I'm okay. I'm just gonna clean up before I go back down." He stared at me, and I had the feeling I was being dismissed. I'd served my purpose, and now I was being given my marching orders. And that pissed me off no end.
"No." I crossed my arms over my chest and met his stare.
He scowled and turned to the sink and grabbed a handful of paper towels, which he soaked and dabbed away the blood with. I stood and watched because I wasn't going to be given my orders by a snotty teen. Whether he liked it or not, I was going downstairs with him and was going to explain what happened to his boyfriend, or whoever the older guy was. At least I'd have done what I could and the rest of it would be out of my hands.
The kid dried his hands and turned back to me. You wouldn't have thought anything had happened. He looked composed and calm, and somehow bland, which was one hell of a trick to pull off for somebody as gorgeous as he was. He narrowed his eyes as we studied each other. He was certainly a lot younger than me, maybe as much as seventeen, eighteen years, but as I looked into a pair of jade coloured eyes, 'kid' no longer seemed right. There was a wariness about him that went way beyond his years.
"So you're not going to go and forget this happened?"
He said the words slowly, as if he were considering the consequences, and my resolve wavered. Maybe he had his reasons for not wanting anything to be said, and I was just going in heavy with my size tens.
"O-kay. Can you just say you saved me from a mugging? Please?"
That didn't seem right, to lie about what had almost happened, it was too serious but I already knew I'd lie for--
"What's your name?"
"Billy. Billy Grace."
Billy Grace. The name taptoed down my spine, and I shivered. I swear I shivered.
It's Snippet time once more, and I'm back with another taster from Bernie, Barista Boys #4.
Context: Jared's just turned up at Barista Boys...
“I hope you don’t mind? Me dropping in like this, I mean?”
“No, of course not. Why would I?” I’ve been waiting for you all day.
“It’s your place of work, but I was doing some shopping close by.” Jared nodded down at the department store bags he carried. “This is really, really nice.” Jared looked around, and Bernie did too.
The rough brick walls were covered in posters and prints, and shelves held books and magazines. Flyers lay around advertising gay-themed film festivals, shows and cabarets, and there was a blackboard, small but prominently placed, with the chalked up telephone numbers and websites for LGBTQ advisory and health services. Small round tables with mismatched chairs filled the main floor space, and a battered, squashy sofa was pushed up against the wall. As Jared looked around him, Bernie felt like he were seeing the café with fresh eyes.
“Let me get you a coffee.”
“Oh, you’re a life saver. That sofa’s inviting.” Jared sat down and looked up at Bernie. “You going to join me?”
Bernie swallowed. He’d been about to ask Jared through to his office, where they could talk in private, away from Pete’s sharp eyes.
“Sure. Macchiato? That’s what you had at my place, and in the restaurant last night.”
Jared tilted his head. “You remember what coffee I had?”
“Coffee’s my profession, so yes.”
“So your interest in me is just professional?”
“My interest in you is – not professional.”
Jared’s smile broadened, but he dropped his gaze and rearranged the bags that lay around his feet.
The muted chatter of the customers, the hard tap of metal on metal as coffee grinds were discarded, the whir of the milk frother, all of it faded to nothing for Bernie as he stared down at the man who’d left him standing dumbstruck outside a tiny Italian restaurant just the night before.
“I’ve got a guilty pleasure.”
Bernie’s stomach tightened and his cock twitched as he looked down into Jared’s dark, pupil-blown eyes.
“Yes?” Bernie croaked.
Jared licked his lips, and Bernie’s cock jumped.
“What I’d really like is one of those milky coffees, topped with whipped cream and loads of syrup. A complete and utter sugar rush. That’s my guilty pleasure and I have to indulge it every so often.”
Bernie laughed, and Jared joined in.
“You little shit,” Bernie muttered under his breath.
“Yeah, I know. Sorry.” Jared grinned.
“Is that really what you want?” Bernie quirked his brow.
Jared nodded. “Does it offend your inner barista?”
“For the price I can get away charging for them? Not at all,” Bernie said with a smile. “You can have whatever you want, whenever, and always on me. Give me a minute.”
Take a look at Rainbow Snippets for some wonderful reading inspiration.
I'm an infrequent Snippeteer these days, but thought I'd drop by with an offering from my latest release, Bernie, the fourth and final book in my Barista Boys series. On a balcony, and overlooking night-time London, Bernie and Jared share a kiss...
Bernie stood and held out his hand, and pulled Jared up to standing. Their bodies bumped into each other’s, but Bernie didn’t step back, and nor did Jared. Just a heartbeat apart, Jared’s breath was warm against Bernie’s fevered skin. Jared’s eyes glittered as bright as the city lights against the inky sky, and Bernie’s heart tumbled into freefall. His breathing hitched as his gaze dropped to Jared’s mouth. Soft full lips, damp and slick, parted. Bernie shivered and his skin goosebumped as he pressed his lips to Jared’s in a slow, tentative kiss. Bernie closed his eyes. Rich chocolate combined with the warm spice of the wine on Jared’s lips, but there was more, there was the taste of Jared himself, and it was sweeter than any chocolate, and more intoxicating than any wine could ever be.
Bernie, Barista Boy #4 is now available exclusively on Amazon. Find Bernie here.
There are so many wonderful authors and enticing Rainbow Snippets here. Click the link and find your next favourite author!
I've just come back from a writers' retreat.
There we were, eight MM Romance novelists, spread across two caravans on a storm swept site on England's south coast. Torrential rain, winds that rocked the 'van and threatened to send us tumbling down the hill towards an icy English Channel... And the seagulls. Some of them were the size of a large dog/cow/pony (delete as appropriate). We took our lives in our hands, and it was fabulous, every single minute. There were mountains of food and rivers of wine. Add in a pinch of gossip, a liberal dose of drunken story telling, and our combined body weight in laughs, it was a recipe made in heaven to create the perfect weekend.
It was great fun, but it was also very productive because we all worked as hard as we played. Word count targets were surpassed and even obliterated in one case. Great strides were made on WIPs, and some even finished. I beat the word count I'd set myself by over a thousand words, which made me a very happy bunny indeed.
Times like this, whether it be a day, a weekend or longer are invaluable to authors because writing is a solitary pursuit. Sure, some of us might pitch up in cafes, or libraries, places where there are others milling around. But it's not the same as time spent with other authors, writing side-by-side with them, offering encouragement and support. It just isn't, trust me on that.
The next retreat, no doubt, will take place on another out of season, windy caravan site, buffeted by wind and rain and stalked by mutant gulls.
I can't wait. Bring it on.
Bernie, the forth and final installment in the Barista Boys series, will be hitting Amazon's electronic bookshelves on 27 October. You can find the blurb on the My Books page, under the Barista Boys tab
I've loved writing this series, and I'm going to miss my 'boys' when I wave goodbye to them. The important thing is that they all sail off into the sunset with their happy ever afters because, let's face it, I've put them through the wringer. But who said the path to true love was an easy one? Not me, that's for sure.
It's not just the guys' stories I've enjoyed creating, it's also been about the Barista Boys cafe itself. The place is obviously fictional (yeah, really) but it is loosely based on a number of cafes I've been to, not just here in London but in also in Amsterdam and Utrecht in the Netherlands. A happy international mash-up!
And of course there's Soho, which I love. It's a bit scruffy and there's still a vaguely louche air but it beats with life and energy, and it scores bonus points for being the home to The French House, one of my favourite pubs.
So, it's time to drink that final coffee and indulge in one last muffin before we wave the boys, and Bernie, goodbye...
A E Ryecart
This is my blog, where I'll keep you posted on the latest happenings, updates on my writing, previews and news.