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For a pal who asked what he might have recognised, this might have looked familiar, at least in part:

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Where Jonty played rugby and Orlando had conniptions about it:

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"St. Bride's" looking lovely.

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I wonder if Orlando got jealous about Jonty eyeing up this chap. (I also wonder if Antinous really was this handsome.)

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And here's the pictorial evidence from the Romantic Novelists' Association in house magazine! Aren't we a lovely lot - we were pontificating on self-publishing, indie publishing and hybrid. CC RNA 001
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Ages since I did a Rainbow snippet, so am determined to get back into the habit. Here's a smidge from my paired novellas In The Spotlight, which would appeal to anyone who like their romance with a theatrical twist.

Francis ate up the admiring glances like canapés. He grabbed a beer at the bar, took a long cool swig and waited for the fun—he was sure there was plenty to be had here—to start.
“Are you looking for someone?” An incongruously quiet voice sounded beside him.
Hardly the most original chat up line. Francis eyed the stranger warily. He’d got past the point of being impressed by smooth lotharios sporting smarmy clichés although this bloke didn’t seem like one of them. If Francis had been a betting man he’d have put twenty quid on the remark being genuine and heartfelt.

Loads more excerpts over at Rainbow snippets.
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Life very exciting chez Cochrane at present. Had a guided tour of Twickenham on Tuesday including sitting in the royal box and in the England changing room (see below for pictorial evidence). In about ten days time I get a taxi ride on a Lancaster bomber. Am like a dog with two tails.

News 

I took part in the Goodreads mystery week 5 sentence mystery challenge, some of them inspired by prompts from readers. You can find them all at my blog (start here and work back) and there are a couple more to come. 

I’ll be taking part in The Romance Review’s Sizzling Summer Reads party in June. I will bear gifts, as will lots of other authors and publishers.  

MLR is having a Mother's Day Sale of 30% off every title for 24hours, midnight to midnight EST May 14th. If you fancy nipping over and picking up any of my tomes, use the discount code MLR-MOM-2017 when checking out. 

With that in mind, here’s an excerpt from Music in the Midst of Desolation, one of my darker stories and inspired by my obsession with World War One and a quirky idea about where old soldiers go when they die. 

“Headquarters. At least HQ here on Earth.” Marjorie opened the heavy front door, leading Patrick into a well kept, elegant hallway. Voices sounded from other rooms, the unmistakable sounds of people, or angels, at work, busy and content. “Come and meet Neville.” She guided Patrick through an open door into a small study, whose French windows gave onto a garden blanketed in snow.
Neville looked just like his name suggested. Big, bluff, quietly efficient. “Ah, Evans.” He gave Patrick a vigorous handshake.
“Pleased to meet you.” Patrick frowned. “Have we met before?”
“Not directly, although I’ve seen you plenty of times. I had charge of a friend of yours during the great unpleasantness.”
“Guardian angel? That couldn’t have been an easy job.” And why hadn’t there been more of them? Uncomfortable memories of young lads—wounded, dying or simply going mad—calling for their mothers, flooded Patrick’s mind.
“It wasn’t.” Neville sat down, encouraging his visitors to do the same. Back on Earth meant back with an earthly body and all the aches and pains that involved. “Easy at the start, nothing more complicated than saving him from stray bullets—albeit he had a nasty habit of trying to put himself in the way of one.” Neville’s face broke into an avuncular grin. “Had to make sure he was preserved—as per orders—to see out the war.”
“Why weren’t they all preserved? Why pick out just one or two for special treatment?” The return to Earth had brought a return of anger, too. He didn’t ask it for himself—his end had been quick and relatively painless—but for those poor boys.
“Why indeed?” Neville spread his hands. “I could be complacent and say we couldn’t have saved them all, not every day for four years. Everyone has to die sometime.”
“But the manner of their deaths…” Patrick struggled for words; strange how he hadn’t felt this way in so long. How he’d been grateful to have the sense of injustice flow away. How it had begun to make sense, back there, and now there was no sense to it at all. 

And finally, the inspirational words you can read from Billy Vunipola's place in the changing room. 

 
  

 
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When we were at Twickenham on Tuesday for a stadium tour, I got very excited. Not just at sitting in the royal box or in the England changing room, but in the reminders of those players who gave their lives in the Great War.

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This is a painting on display near the royal box, a reproduction by Shane Record of a famous photograph of the England team of April 1914, about to play France. The players with their roses 'greyed' rather than red died during the war.

The guy in the natty headgear is Arthur Harrison, VC, who volunteered for hazardous service and died in the Zeebrugge raids. Almost hidden in the back row is Robert Pillman, who was shot during a night raid near Armentieres. A contemporary photo of Pillman shows a remarkable resemblance to the current England captain, Dylan Hartley.

Also in that row is Jimmy Dingle, who died retaking Scimitar Hill near Suvla bay (having already taken it and been ordered to relinquish it.) Right at the end is James Watson who was a doctor (I wonder if he was ever heaved into touch at Old Deer Park). He served as naval surgeon on the Hawke when she was torpedoed and sunk. Down on the front row is Francis Oakeley, a submarine lieutenant on the HMS D2, which disappeared at sea after being rammed by a German patrol boat.

And who's that in the middle? Has to be the lovely Ronnie Poulton Palmer, who was shot by a sniper near 'Plugstreet' Wood. My favourite quote from "The Greater Game" concerns RPP, and his friend, the army chaplain Dick Dugdale who said he loved Ronnie more than anyone else and told his sister, 'each year passing merely means one year less to wait for Ronald'.

 

 

 
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I had a couple of prompts which couldn’t be accommodated in 5 sentences as they were too long, but nil desperandum! Here’s the next offering:

Jonty was perplexed. Here was a trail of clues that led nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Now where was that logical dunderhead when he needed him most?
“Orlando, do you have a rational dunderhead I could borrow? I know they’re rarer than hen’s teeth.”
“Rarer than dinosaurs’ dinner jackets. What do you want one for?”
“Got a puzzle I want somebody to look at. A pair of outside eyes with no prior knowledge of the subject, so that counts you out, oh heart of my heart.” Jonty sniggered.
“A mathematical puzzle?”
“No. Nothing so dull. Have you got said student?”
“I may know someone. Shan’t say who until I know what it’s about.”
“The lovely boy in the sonnets. I’ve a handful of suspects and a handful of hints to point towards each of them. I’d like a non-literary mind to offer an insight.”
“Hm. There’s a lad down at Kings. Logical mind, but not on the usual straight lines. And might have some, um, particular insight to offer in this case.”
“Aha. Sounds just the chap. Does this prodigy have a name?”
“Of course. And odd sounding one. Turing.”
Jonty chortled. “No odder than Coppersmith. I wonder if he’ll remind me of you?”
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Inspired by a first line prompt, though. It just never grew beyond a limerick.

Nobody should wake up this sticky.
The feeling’s decidedly icky.
Was it jam in the bed?
Or Orlando instead?
Whichever, I’m pulling a sicky!
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It runs all through June and there are a gazillion (count 'em!) prizes to be won including one from yours truly.

ssr2017
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OK, this is technically 6 sentences, but I'm not including the 'seeding one' I was given.

Orlando fumed: it literally just wasn't cricket - so unfair of Jonty not to play by the rules.

“Mitigating circumstances,” Jonty pleaded, “interest of the nation and all that.”

“And pray, how can it be in the interest of the nation for you to give a batsman out leg before wicket when the ball was clearly both too high and missing leg stump?”

“You know that Fry’s always up to something mysterious; he had to get away a bit sharpish so rather than force him into the disgrace of giving away his wicket I let him depart with dignity.”

“I wasn’t referring to his dismissal,” Orlando said, glancing at his newly oiled bat, which hadn’t been allowed to see its full usage.

“Ah.”

#MysteryWeek
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I'm sure there are a number of mystery/crime books set in WWI but my poor old brain can only think of one, but it's a good 'un.

I read Andrew Martin's The Somme Stations a couple of years ago and enjoyed it hugely. He writes a cracking mystery, does Mr. Martin, and the Jim Stringer books are always entertaining.

#MysteryWeek
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...at least online. I'm doing some edits for the third Lindenshaw book so am happily poking around on the Crown Prosecution service site. I dread anyone looking at my browsing history.

#MysteryWeek
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Many thanks to Jane Wickenden for the first sentence...
“Marmalade? I don't know what you're talking about."
“Yes you do, Orlando – sticky stuff, full of orange peel – the sort of thing you have all over your face right now, despite the fact you swore there was none in the house.”
“Ah, well, you see I discovered it was simply an optical illusion and there was just the merest smidgeon lurking at the bottom.”
“Sounds like a Sherlock Holmes story,” Jonty snorted, “the Mystery of the Not Empty Jar.”
“More like ‘The Mystery of how I ended up with you’,” Orlando muttered, although he made sure he snaffled the last piece of marmalade laden toast.
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In honour of #MysteryWeek,  here's a story in just five sentences.
Orlando Coppersmith felt better once the room had stopped spinning, an unusual habit it had taken to adopting whenever he imbibed more than a pint;  why had he let himself be talked into a third glass of stout, and why was there a dead body on the floor of his study?
He wasn't so sozzled that he'd have forgotten committing a murder, so which rotten swine had done the deed and left the corpse for him to - literally - trip over, splitting his trouser seam and an infinitive in the process?
The arrival of Jonty Stewart, with a, "Sorry, mea culpa," did nothing to ease Orlando's distress, given the possibility his partner had turned murderer.
"Tailor's dummy, new suit for the adjusting of," Jonty continued, hefting the thing off the floor, "Lavinia's idea, so blame her."
Orlando, jaw working up and down although nothing but beer fumes coming out of it, was left to curse the combined powers of Lavinia, Jonty and a quart and a half of Guinness.
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Lots of grand stuff going on - look for the #MysteryWeek tags on social media. And if you feel like dropping over to Goodreads and asking me a question or three, bring 'em on!

And here's an appropriate #MysteryWeek picture. Deadly Dames (and chevalier) ready for battle.
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And its sequel. You can find it here along with a sackload of other free stuff.

Here's a very nice sloth I made acquaintance with last month. Alas, he wouldn't fit in my bag.

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Are any of you fans of the inimitable Flanders and Swann? (If you’re not, look them up on youtube. So funny, so British.) They have a song about the weather including the lines: Farmers fear unkindly May, Frost by night and hail by day. Which shows that the climate was just as naff 50 odd years ago as now.

News

The next Lindenshaw story, Two Feet Under (working title) is scheduled  for the new year. So the current Charlie-releases-schedule looks like this:

June 5th 2017 Broke Deep (Porthkennack universe contemporary gay romance) October 16th 2017 Count the Shells (Porthkennack universe historical gay romance) 8th January 2018 Two Feet Under (Lindenshaw mysteries book 3)

There’s also the re-release of the first 8 Cambridge Fellows books on the horizon – dates to be confirmed - and a Cambridge fellows novella I really need to shoehorn in.

The were-sloths are now available for general download at my website. Or, to clarify, the story about them is; no actual weresloths were injured in this process.

I’ve booked to be part of Selsey Authors, which I had to pull out of last year at the last moment due to a family minor crisis so am determined to be there in 2017.

Excerpt:
Here’s a bit from that Cambridge Fellows novella that I need to sort out a release date for.

Cambridge 1922

“Owens? Owens?” Orlando Coppersmith’s voice sounded louder and clearer from his chair in the Senior Common Room at St Bride’s than it had ever sounded before, and with good cause.

“Steady on, old man. We’re in enough of a state of shock without you making sufficient noise to wake the dead.” Jonty Stewart smiled at his friend’s uncharacteristic outburst, although friendship would hardly be the most accurate way to describe their relationship. Even the description “lovers, companions, colleagues and partners in solving crime” didn’t quite cover the depth of the bond they’d build up in nigh on twenty years.

“Or wake some of the dons,” Dr. Panesar agreed, mischievously.

“Good point, Dr. P.” Jonty sniggered. “Some of them look like they’ve been asleep since 1913.”

St. Bride’s may have been one of the most forward looking of the Cambridge colleges, embracing the fact the year was 1922 rather than pretending it was still 1622, but some aspects of the university, including crusty old dons, seemed to be an immutable fixture.

“In which case,” Orlando pointed out, “we’d have ten years of history to explain to them, much of it unpleasant, let alone this latest scandal. Being asked to defend Owens. What is the world coming to?”

And finally, we're having our first UK Meet 2018 planning meeting on Sunday, so here's a nostalgic picture from the 2016 event to inspire me to get my thinking cap on.

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If you go to one film this spring, go to "Their Finest". Beautifully shot, beautifully acted, funny and moving at the same time, with so many "Singing in the Rain" type affectionate digs at the film industry. Bill Nighy is a genius - but you knew that, didn't you?
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If you're looking at the title of this blog article and thinking, "Oh, I don't remember that happening!" you're probably in the same boat as the person at our local Oxfam book shop who put the book in the biographies section. It's not a true story, but a highly amusing novel from 1975.

How had I managed to miss this? It's got sport and humour and lots of sly digs at the media and other targets. If you want to slip back in time 40 years, and have a smile while you're at it, I'd thoroughly recommend this gem of a book.
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I've just read my first Bulldog Drummond book - the first one Sapper wrote, to be precise. It wasn't too bad, as long as one accepts that it was a product of its time (nearly a hundred years ago).
What did I love best? The banter between the various ex-comrades. Several bits of it were exactly the sort of dialogue that would have got a modern reader saying, "Men didn't talk to each other like that in those days." Well, they did, obviously.
What surprised me? The repeated use of the expression "go gay", meaning doing something brave or taking decisive, uninhibited action.
Will I read another? I wouldn't rule it out, although I understand that this one was probably the best in the series so maybe not...

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