Sunday, May 27, 2012

Oh no! Not another new release!

Dudes, I promise, this is the last one until the end of August.

'Biscuits and Bunting' is my take on a behind the scenes look at a village getting ready to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It's a big deal here. Our village is hurling itself into the festivities with a lunch on the village green or, for the well-heeled, you can pay £60 a head to eat in a marquee in the middle of a field. The village brass band (one of the finest in the country, believe me) will  be having a concert on the green in the evening. There's all kinds of things going on. You can go to the village shop and buy a celebratory bottle of Pimms with a Union Jack all over the label,  or a 16-pack of crisps (potato chips) also emblazoned with our national flag. If you really want to throw yourself into the spirit of the occasion, there's Union Jack bunting (see above picture) for sale.

Being an anti-social old fart, I'll be staying at home and writing. I'll listen to the celebratory chimes from the church. If Friday night's bell ringing practice is anything to go by, they need to tighten things up a little, but it'll sound glorious because our bell ringers are good. It wouldn't be a Friday night in the village without the faltering chimes of practice. I may also give in and buy a bottle of Pimms so I can make Pimms cocktails to toast Lizzie's health and all that good stuff. I'll need something to wash down the salmon and cucumber sandwiches, trifle and Union Jack crisps.

It's a very British occasion and 'Biscuits and Bunting' is a Very British book. There's food porn and naughty bits. There's gossip in the village shop and someone running amok with a cricket bat. What could be more British than that?

To whet your appetite, here's a little teaser:

Neil pulled the car up in front of my house. “This is the part where you ask me in for a cup of coffee, I accept, but…somehow…we never get round to having the coffee.” He put the car in park and turned off the ignition.

I did a quick mental inventory. The bed sheets were clean. I’d just changed them that day. There was coffee, nothing lying around that shouldn’t be there, a bottle of lube and condoms in the bedroom cabinet. “Would you like to come in for a coffee?”

He grinned. “I wouldn’t say no.”

We climbed out of the car. Mrs Bramley’s net curtains twitched. I didn’t care—I was too busy fumbling for the keys.

We tumbled into the house. Like a good host, I took Neil’s coat, hung it up and backed him to the wall.
He plunged his hands into my hair and kissed me greedily. The silence was occupied by sighs, gasps and soft moans. Denim scraped on denim. Neil smelt of wood smoke and tasted of wine. He pushed back until we reeled across the hall towards the stairs.

“Where’s your bedroom?”

“Usual place, top of the stairs…you know.” I took his hand and led him up the narrow staircase.

Pssst! If you like it, you can buy it here

So, here's the give away question: What thing/person/whatever comes to mind when you think of Britain?
Best answer wins a PDF of 'Biscuits and Bunting'. :). A winner (or winners depending on how many entries there are) will be chosen on Wednesday, 30th May.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mourning Jack - Give Away!

So, in this crazy busy spring, I have another book being released...Mourning  Jack. It's released by Total E Bound on Monday, 14th May. I'm back to my comfort zone with this one. It's contemporary and it has food and horses in it. Ade, the narrator, is a chef. So there's some food pr0n. I just couldn't help myself.

Mourning Jack is all about hurt,healing and moving on. Ade, being a chef, uses his skills in the kitchen to make people happy, to offer them comfort by providing them with good food. One of the dishes he gives Cal is chili con carne. I love chili, it's great on a cold and rainy day. It's hot and  it's satisfying. I don't get to have it very often because my family aren't fans of chili. But, for those who are, here's mine (and Ade's recipe)

1 pound ground beef (80/20)
ground cumin (around a tsp)
chili powder (around a tsp)
14oz can chopped tomatoes - with juice
garlic powder (about half a tsp)
cayenne pepper - if you like to scorch your eyeballs.
oregano - 1 tsp.
one tin pinto beans (optional)

Brown the beef in a pan. When it's browned, stir in the ground cumin, garlic and chili powder. If you're a heat freak, this is also the time to add the cayenne pepper. Let this cook for a minute or two, until you can really smell the spices. Add the tomatoes and juice. Stir, bring to a simmer and then add the oregano and salt to taste. If it's not tomatoey enough for you, feel free to add a squirt of tomato paste. You may need to add a tiny bit of brown sugar to take the acidic edge off the tomatoes. Add the *beans, if you must. Leave to simmer until the meat is tender.

Serve in a nice deep bowl with loads of grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream on top. I also like crumbling tortilla chips over it. Yum.

*My fellow countrymen, for some reason, like to add red kidney beans to their chili. This  is an abomination. Purists say that you shouldn't add beans at all. If you must, use pinto beans. They tend to absorb the flavour of the chili rather than dominate it, like nasty big kidney beans.

What I'd love to know is what recipe do you fall back on when you've had a lousy day?
The winner of the free PDF of 'Mourning Jack' will be the person whose recipe appeals to me the most.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday, May 16th. So get posting! I'm hungry!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Glorious new cover art!

One of the absolute best things about writing and being published is that day when the cover art arrives. Today is no exception. Total E Bound's Art Director, Emmy Ellis, has produced another gorgeous cover. This one is for the first of 'The Endersley Papers' series, 'Lord of Endersley', which is due to be released at the end of August.

I think the artwork captures the story perfectly. So, without further delay, here it is!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sometimes, it only takes a song.

I love to write. I really do. I can't help it.

I get these characters who turn up on my doorstep and demand that I tell their stories. Sometimes it's easy. They know exactly what they want to say, where they want to go, what they want to do. Sometimes, it's not so easy.

I knew I wanted to write a story about a chef. I love food. I love reading cook books, I love cooking. People have complained that some of my emails are food p0rn. Food seems to turn up a lot in my stories. The trouble was, I couldn't quite decide what to do with Ade. It took a few attempts to find a story that fit him best. But I was still missing that elusive final spark that kicks off the writing.

For some writers that spark is a visual clue, a picture, a moment when the sun slips over the rooftops or snow swirls past a window. For me, it's always music, it always seems to be a song that sets things off. That's certainly how it was for 'Mourning Jack'. I happened to watch the 2011 Brit Awards and there was a performance that brought the audience to its feet and gave me chills. That's when Ade's story finally fell into place.

Is there a song that inspires you?