Friday, April 5, 2019

I have a problem.
I love cuddly toys. I mean really love them.

Over the years I seem to have collected several boxes full of them. And I’ve held on to the ones my son had when he was young. They all have names. They all have memories attached to them. There’s Bill, the Pitt Panther. He was given to me by my first boyfriend way back when. There’s Misha, the mascot for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Blue is the teddy bear I rescued from a jumble sale, and Manabar, a donkey my late husband named after a useless (but lovable) race horse in the yard he once worked in. Hen Wen is the pig won at a fair ground in Toronto. Yes, they all have their stories. And one of these days, I’ll rescue them all from their box-bound limbo and they’ll see daylight again.

So, my question to you is: Do you have a favourite cuddly toy? Tell me their story below and you could win a book from my backlist, or a 10% discount on a full edit. Details here.

And don’t forget to check out all the other blogs from a whole crowd of amazing authors!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Autism Fact: Only 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid employment, and only 32% are in some kind of paid work.

It's that time of year again, when I dust off my blog and take part in the lovely R J Scott's annual blog hop. And, as usual, I'll leave my colleagues with more direct experience of autism to talk of how it affects their lives. There are over thirty of us taking part this year, so don't forget to check out the other posts. Apart from a wide range of posts, there's lots of fun too, as well as giveaways. 

Also, as with last year, I'm going to hoist myself with my own petard and post an excerpt from a yet-to-be-finished book. Over the next couple of years, I'll be getting the rights back to all of my Totally Bound/Pride books. The first one to come back to me, in May, is Mourning Jack. Right now, I'm working on the sequel which has the tentative title of Loving Cal. So, yes, for all of those readers who wanted Cal to have his HEA, I'm hoping to deliver that later this year--work schedule permitting. 
In this scene, I'm drawing on my own experiences of grief, how it sneaks up you when you least expect it:

It was nice to zone out a little. I just needed to make sure I kept the mower straight. The smell of cut grass made me think of the good things, of summer sun, roses in bloom, a kitchen garden bursting with produce. The latter was well on its way, which made Peggy very happy. I hummed along with the music, save in the knowledge that no one would ever hear how I couldn’t carry a tune, even in a paper bag.
            I can hear…
            One of Jack’s quirks…he absolutely loved country music. He played it all the time. After we’d been going out a while, I finally got used to it.  Not all of it. Some of it was a little too sappy and twangy for my taste, but other stuff… The old Rascal Flatts song kicked me in the guts. Grief could do that. After seven years, it could still sneak up and slap me upside the head. I couldn’t see. My eyes burned with tears I thought I’d long since left behind. I eased the mower to a halt and just…sat there crying.
            Damn it, Jack.
            So many memories passed in front of me. Jack at that party, cursing the lousy beer while giving me the glad eye. Jack sprawled out on the couch, snoring, an unread book resting on his stomach. Jack, his laugh ringing out in the cottage on an autumn morning. Doing a slow strip tease while singing Hey, Good Looking. His touch, his voice…pretty much everything I’d loved about him. All gone. But he felt so close that I was sure if I reached out I’d find him, touch him again, feel the smooth warmth of his skin beneath my fingertips. God, the pain. It was an all-encompassing ache, a deep longing made horrible because it could never be fulfilled.
            Grief sucked. It sucked and it never really checked out. Always there like an unwelcome guest, or the glimpse of something unpleasant in the corner of a mirror.

Hopefully, there'll be a finished story by summer!
In the meantime, I'm offering a book from my back list, which you can find here. All you need to do is leave an answer to this question:

What was your first job? What did you like/hate about it?

I hope you all enjoy this year's blog hop! Thanks, as always, to R J for putting this all together.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

You can find the master post, with all participating authors, bloggers and readers here

Many people with autism have key interests that can be utilized by employers in the workplace. (i.e. just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you don’t have abilities)


Once a year I dust off this blog to take part in RJ Scott's Annual Autism Awareness Blog Hop. Animals is this year's theme and, given the benefits that pets can have in helping people with autism, it seems pretty perfect to me.  Animals can help us in so many ways. This little fellow, Andi, has changed my life since he arrived three weeks ago. He didn't have the best start in life, having been a Romanian street dog, before he ended up in a shelter where he was bullied mercilessly by bigger dogs. 

I'm still coming to terms with losing my husband to cancer nearly two years ago. It's been a bumpy road and I had fallen into a habit of not wanting to leave the house, not having the energy to do anything except what I needed to do. I'd thought about adopting a rescue dog the summer Peter died and I'd gone as far as arranging a home visit with a rescue organisation...then I broke my shoulder and that went to the wall. Then, a few weeks ago, I was thinking out loud on Facebook about adopting a dog. A friend posted a link to this amazing rescue organisation and that, gentle reader, was that.

The first dog, alas, did not work out. He didn't like men and that dislike extended to my son. So, sadly, he had to go back and he's now in a home with people who have far more experience of looking after dogs with a 'history' than I have. Sarah from Leash of Life persuaded me to give Andi a try. His arrival was not the best. I was tired and stressed after getting lost and taking ages to get home. Andi was tired and stressed when confronted with our two cats. So stressed that he peed right there and then in the living room. Happily, he settled in. We fell in love and now neither my son or me can imagine life without him. Apart from the obvious benefit of giving and receiving unconditional love, the thrice daily walks have resulted in me losing weight and just feeling...better. I feel as if I have a purpose outside my job and my (sporadic) writing. I have this little, loveable creature waiting for me every morning when I wake up. I have this little, loveable creature demanding lap time and cuddles.  

Animals have so much to give us. They enrich our lives. They make us better, whether it's by giving an autistic child a connection with another living being, or just being that unquestioning friend we all need at one time or another.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and I hope you'll read  all the offerings in this year's blog hop. I believe I may have told RJ I'd do a giveaway. 

So, my question is this: Have you/do you have a much-loved pet who has made your life better in some way? Leave your answer below. I'll run the magic random number generator at the end of the month and the winner gets a choice from my backlist, which you'll find here or, provided I remember, an e-copy of my new book An Unexpected Truth, when it's released in June/July. 

Once again, thanks for stopping by. :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Today's Autism Fact:

Many people who have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have difficulty processing everyday sensory information such as sounds, sights and smells. This is usually called having sensory integration difficulties, or sensory sensitivity.
I’ve been a very lazy author over the past three years. Life had other plans for me and my poor, weary muse so writing had to take a backseat. Now, happily, I’ve finally started writing again. And, as I’m a lazy author, I’m going to post an excerpt from one of my WIPs. The working title is The Shelter, but that’s probably going to change. This is the gloomier of the two stories I’m working on, which I save for dull or rainy days. This scene, however, is before things start going to hell in a handcart for Noel and Malik.
I hope you enjoy it.
And, before I post. I’ll leave this question for you. Answer the question and you’ll go into a draw for a book of your choice from my backlist or, if you’re an aspiring writer, I’ll do a free one chapter assessment/edit of anything you’re working on. The winner will be announced at the beginning of May.
The question: Which of the five senses could you not live without?

Now, without further delay, the excerpt.

It was clear, from the smell alone, that this was the studio. The room was flooded with light, which fell across the wooden floor, turning the boards to amber. Several easels beside the windows, and a work bench, scattered with brushes, jars and tubes of paint rested against one wall. Paintings, too many to count, covered the white walls in brilliant splashes of vibrant blues, whites and golds. I was drawn into a maze of intricate geometric patterns. I recognised the motif immediately, being interested in Islamic architecture.
I drifted toward a painting on an easel, mesmerised by the contrast of light and rich, dark blues, threaded with gold lines. I could’ve looked at it forever. “Beautiful,” was about all I could manage.
Bedford stood beside me. Close enough that his shoulder brushed mine. Close enough that I could smell his cologne and feel myself sliding toward being attracted to him.
“Thank you.”
“This reminds me of the walls of the Bibi-Khanym mosque.”
“You’ve been to Samarkand?”
“Years ago. I could’ve spent hours in there. Incredible mosaics.”
He nodded and smiled. It is amazing, isn’t it? I’d love to go back one of these days.”
“So would I.” My travelling days were over. Living in a high-rent area put paid to anything more than a week in a cottage somewhere, if I was lucky.
I trailed around the room, captivated, lost in a tangle of colourful mazes. Some of the canvasses were huge, at least six feet long and three feet high. I would’ve happily handed over my wallet and my savings for one of them to hang on my living room wall. Luckily, common sense prevailed, and I had to be content to look and covet. Bedford trailed after me, standing at my side while I studied each piece. The room had fallen into a silence broken only by Laney’s distant murmur.
“They’re terrific,” I told him, as I completed my tour. “Just remarkable.”
For a man who must’ve heard variations of those compliments for years, he was gracious enough to offer me a warm smile. “Thank you. I’m glad you like them.”
“I like them very much.”
“I’d offer you one but I’m pretty sure that would be considered bribery.”
“That’s very kind and, yes, I’d probably lose my job.”
“Well, we don’t want that, do we?”
I didn’t want to leave the studio. The heady combination of the paintings, the peace and the artist had become addictive, something I hated the thought of leaving behind. When Laney entered the room, I knew the idyll was over.

S.A. Laybourn lives in Wiltshire with her son and two needy cats. She works as a freelance editor and sometimes writes stories. Her alter-ego S.A. Meade writes gay romance. She loves cooking, reading, gin and tonic and the occasional glass of wine. She is not terribly domesticated and has trouble finding things that she thought she’d put in a ‘safe’ place.
You can find her books at:
And follow her on:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

This has been a long time coming or: The Care and Feeding of this Widow

I've spent an unhealthy amount of time stewing over some of the baggage that comes with being a widow. I have a nasty habit of keeping things locked up inside but I've reached the point where I need to lance the proverbial boil. I didn't want to do it on Facebook because I am not trawling for sympathy, I just want to tell it like it is in my little world. So, here goes. *takes deep breath*.

  1. I am not an unexploded tear bomb. You can ask me how I'm doing and I won't break down and blub uncontrollably. I save my crying jags for when I'm on my own. 
  2. Do not say things like 'you must come to dinner' or 'we must have lunch' when you have no intention of following through. I'm lonely and if someone makes a suggestion like that, I make the mistake of getting excited, having something to look forward to. Then I am bitterly disappointed when the invitation never comes. It's like dangling a fish in front of a cat then whipping it away. 
  3. Don't say 'you must get out more'. I know you mean well but I find it intimidating to walk into a crowded place on my own and I'm terrified that, after the initial hubbub of greetings that I'll be left wandering about trying to find a conversation I feel brave enough to latch onto.
  4. Don't say 'you should get a proper job then you'll meet people'. Gee, really? Believe me, if I could get a job with a salary, benefits and the little extras like office Christmas parties and bonuses then I'd be on it like ugly on an ape. Unfortunately, I am 56 years old, overqualified for office/retail work and too many years out of touch with the UK town planning network. I didn't choose to be self-employed and, as a single mother, there is nothing scarier than working without a safety net. So, if anyone knows who's looking to employ  a loyal, hardworking but not-young former planner/self-taught editor do let me know.
That's pretty much it. Having had my little moan, let me just add that I'm doing okay. I get by and I will continue on because that's what I do. I am so thankful for those friends who have listened to me babble, to those lovely people who have fed me, taken me to appointments, invited me to parties. I'm grateful for my online friends who've put up with my ranty Facebook posts and offered sympathy and support. It's just, sometimes, I need to let rip!

Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Autism Awareness Month.

Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism.

I'm keeping things short and sweet this year. There are plenty of good people out there who have direct experience of living with autism. People who are far more eloquent on the subject than I could ever be. 

My lovely fellow author, RJ Scott has spoken openly and with humour about her lovely, clever son Matt, and continues to work to raise awareness of this condition.. This annual blog event, one that I'm always happy to take part in, goes some way to ensuring that we all learn something. That autism isn't just about a blinding ability to draw a city-scape from memory, or solving complex equations in a heartbeat, it's an everyday thing with its own heartaches, practicalities and worries. Autism isn't contagious, you can't give it to your kids if they have the necessary childhood vaccines. It's just one of those genetic flukes that happens to good people and good families. Love, understanding and support can go a long, long way.

Much love from me.

Her blog post for this year's event is here.

I'm giving away an e-book from my back list to a random poster, an answer to the this question:

How did you learn about autism? 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Smut for Sommer_My Sunday Snog

My fellow erotic romance author Victoria Blisse has been a very busy woman. Apart from writing scorching romances, promoting her fellow authors and bringing smut to a wider audience, she's also taken the time to organise today's very special event. Sommer Marsden is an incredibly talented and prolific author. Not only that, she's a remarkably strong and kind woman. She and her family are currently having to deal with her husband's fight with pancreatic cancer. Because they live in the US, they don't have the luxury of free healthcare. Every treatment, every scan, every drug, every piece of gauze or Q-tip costs something. Health insurance doesn't cover everything and, sometimes, doesn't pay at all. If I lived in Sommer's neck of the woods, I'd be bringing casseroles round, leaving bottles of wine on her doorstep, maybe even mowing the lawn. But I am sitting uselessly on the wrong side of the Atlantic and can offer little more than virtual hugs and words. So, when Victoria organised today's event, I was glad to be able to do something. Along with 52 other authors, I'm posting a snog scene from one of my books.

Please read my snog, click on this link . You'll find 52 other snogs here by some fabulous authors, as well as a Paypal button. If you can, please donate. It doesn't have to be much at all because, in the end, every penny helps.

If you'd like to leave a comment below, you'll be entered into a free draw to win an e-book of your choice from my back catalogue. :)

Thank you so much for stopping by and thank you for your help.


My snog is from my gay historical romance Tournament of Shadows.

“Will you walk with me?” he asked.
I managed a nod and fell into step beside him as he pushed through the crowds.
After a few moments, we found ourselves on a quiet street. Yakolev glanced over his shoulder, then steered me into a narrow, shadowed passageway.
“Hush. Don’t worry, I’m not going to murder you.” He backed me to the wall. “I just want to sample the wares before I make my final decision.
Before I could speak, he curled his fingers into my hair and pressed his lips to mine, devouring me with a hungry kiss.
I could do nothing but respond, winding my arms around his waist and pulling him closer. His arousal was evident, matching mine. Never before had I responded so readily to a man’s touch. Never had I been so desperate for it.
A rooster’s late call broke us apart. Yakolev stepped back, chest rising and falling like bellows. He reached out and brushed the hair from my forehead with a tender hand, then grinned.
My lips felt bruised and swollen. “Well?”
“You have my word. When I see the Emir tomorrow, I will suggest that to save him the burden of having two Englishmen and the danger that their countrymen could send an army to free them, I will take them and place them in a Russian gaol because the British would never attack us. It’s the best I could come up with. Of course, if he accedes to the request, I will deliver them to you at a pre-arranged meeting point, far away from here. Will that suit?”
I wanted him to kiss me. “Yes. It’s a very reasonable plan.”
“I’m glad you think so.” He brushed his lips over mine. “Assuming he doesn’t throw me in the dungeon, meet me at the tea house tomorrow night, so I can collect my payment.”
I was grateful that the robe hid my obvious desire. “Yes. I can do that. Thank you.”
“No, thank you. The thought of what I can do to you will get me through a very difficult appointment. I will just think of how much I want you, how much I have to look forward to.”
“Then let’s hope the Emir is in a good humour.” I ran my forefinger in a straight line from his throat to his groin, earning a fevered gasp for my sins.
Yakolev caught my hand and raised it to his cheek, before turning to kiss my palm. “I’ll make sure that he is and I’ll make sure that I leave that place in one piece.”
“See that you do.”
He released me with a sigh. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
We slipped out of the passageway and onto the quiet street. Yakolev raised a hand in farewell. “I’ll see you tomorrow evening at dusk. You’d best get as much rest as you can.” He winked, turned then walked away. I took a deep breath and headed in the opposite direction, wondering how I could get rid of my erection before I returned to Akmal’s house.