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What a few weeks I’ve had. Ignore book launches and general elections – not only have I had the Lancaster bomber, and the 617 squadron memorial, I’ve had an unexpected encounter with The Flying Scotsman (see below for evidence). I can’t help liking large, smelly vehicles.

News

Broke Deep is now out in all the usual places. . The associated blog tour continues apace – you can find all of the stops listed here. If you want a chance to win a goodie bag (and it’s one of my better ones), comment at any of the tour stops for your name to go into the hat. Because I use a random number generator to pick a post and a commenter, the more times you leave a comment, the more chances you have to win.

The first review is up at The Novel Approach. “One of the things I love about this author is that her characters are consummately English, whether she’s writing a historical or contemporary novel, and the dialogue tells the story as much as it reveals about her characters: their thoughts, feelings, and personalities.”

My second contribution to the Porthkennack project – the historical Count The Shells – is at edit stage. One of my editors thinks it’s the best thing I’ve ever written and I suspect I agree with her. It’s awfully grown up.

Here’s a snippet:

Michael stopped by a mound of rocks, where little pools of trapped water promised boyish delights. He reached beneath the surface of one to draw out something green and glistening.
“A bottle of course.” Richard shook his head at such dimwittedness.
“Ah, but is it an ordinary bottle or a magic one? If we rub it will a genie come out and grant us three wishes? And how would we divide them if he did?”
Richard frowned; neither algebra nor grammar held the answer to that. “One each and one for mother,” he stated, at last, and with a conviction that could brook no argument. “None for Lily because she’s too young to use them sensibly.”
“You’re probably right.” Michael wondered if Richard would ever regard his sister as being old enough to act sensibly. “I like that way of dividing them. What would you wish for? All the sweets in the shop?”
Richard giggled, looking just like his mother when she was the same age. “That’s the sort of thing Lily would want. I’d wish for no more algebra or grammar lessons for any boys forever more. What about you?”
“I’m not sure. You’ve taken care of the school stuff, already.”
“I know what mother would wish for,” Richard said, suddenly serious again.
“And what’s that?” Michael asked, attention only half on his nephew, the other half considering what he would do if really presented with the opportunity to make that wish. To have such power—the responsibility would be overwhelming.
“She’d wish for all the soldiers who were hurt in the war to be whole again.”
“Oh.” Michael, unable to say more, kept his gaze straight out at sea. Maybe if he concentrated really hard he could keep at bay the tears that suddenly threatened to unman him.
“Yes, and she’d wish for the dead to come home, too.”
The only safe reply was a simple nod. Michael thought of the shells he’d just counted, the parade of names. How could he trust himself not to break down, to blurt out that roll call, then have to provide a back story to each of them? Richard had the knack of making all his defences too relaxed to work effectively.
“Don’t you think that’s a good idea?”
Michael forced a reply. “I think it’s excellent. What a shame it’s just an empty bottle with nothing in it.”
“Yes. Fairy tales never come true, I suppose.”
“No. That’s one of the sad things you learn in life, alongside the algebra.”
Richard made a disdaining face, although whether that was at the algebra or the fairy tales, Michael couldn’t tell. “It is sad. Otherwise we could have wished home your friend Thomas.”
“Thomas?” Having just recovered his composure, Michael felt unmanned again, the waves beating more violently about him than they’d done previously—or was that just the rushing of blood in his ears? He steadied himself with a hand on his nephew’s shoulder.

And here that train is, with a fine head of steam.

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The Lancaster ride has happened (pictorial evidence here and here). What a fantastic experience. If any of you ever get the chance to do something similar, grab it with both hands.

News

Have been knee deep in edits for Count the Shells (my historical romance in the Porthkennack project, coming out in the autumn) and Two Feet Under, the third Lindenshaw book, which will be a 2018 release. Am still waiting to get the go ahead to announce the official relaunch of the first Cambridge Fellows books – have put a primer on the series page so people coming in at the later books know what went on! At least you can get book 1 (Lessons in Love) in audio and find out how it all started.

Don’t forget I’ll be taking part in The Romance Review’s Sizzling Summer Reads party next month. I will bear gifts, as will lots of other authors and publishers. My question goes live on the 3rd June.

Broke Deep comes out on June 5th. There'll be the usual blog tour where I'll be all over the place like a rash and will have a bag of goodies to offer. Here’s an excerpt:

Late morning, the doorbell went off with its horribly insistent tone. Morgan smoothed his hair and put on a smile—the best smile he could manage on a day when he’d woken at five o’clock in the morning and not managed to get back to sleep. The fact his waking had interrupted an erotic dream involving James hadn’t made things any easier.
He was bloody glad he’d made some effort on his appearance when he glimpsed the vision of hotness through the hall window. This had to be a lost surfer boy or someone who’d come to the coast to find himself a job as a lifeguard and got hopelessly off track. It couldn’t be Dominic, because blokes like this didn’t usually knock on the door of Cadoc for any legitimate reason.
Morgan hesitated, hand on the doorknob. If real life was like a gay romance book, this would be Dominic and they’d bond over a discussion of James, one full of shared hatred for the bloke. The next minute they’d be taking a romantic walk on the beach, and maybe tonight they’d drag each other up the stairs and . . .
The doorbell rang again, and Morgan realised he was still standing fantasising. He opened the door in a rush just as “surfer boy who might be Dominic” had turned to go back down the path.
“Sorry I took so long,” Morgan said, as brightly as he could manage.
“I thought there was nobody in.” Surfer Boy smiled, which reignited memories of last night’s dream. Morgan squirmed. “There’s a guy here to see you, only he’s gone off to take some pictures, and he asked me to come over and say he’d arrived.” Surfer boy waved airily at a bright-red hire car, parked next to the gate.
“Are you a friend of his?” Surely this couldn’t be Dominic’s boyfriend, although his twin brother would be a good outcome.
“No. We met on the plane, and when he heard where I was heading, he said he’d give me a lift so I didn’t have to wait for a bus. My girlfriend lives up on the main road.” Surfer Boy grinned, looking stupidly handsome, more so for being unavailable. “Stroke of luck on my part. Eh?”
“It worked out well.” Morgan sighed as he scanned the line of the hedge. “Has your chauffeur gone walkabout?”
“Probably. He seems a bit of a fanatic; he’s got a bee in his bonnet about ships or timbers or whatever. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention. I bet he’s seen an interesting piece of wood and gone to take a sample or whatever.” Surfer Boy—straight, unavailable surfer boy—smiled again, then adjusted his backpack. “Right. Unless I want a dose of earache, I’d better be on my way. Bye.” He turned on his heels and walked off down the path towards the gate, duty done.
“Bye,” Morgan answered, watching him go and wondering why life was never like gay romance books.

And finally, that Lancaster again!

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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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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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This must be spring as the blossom is out, as are the bluebells, but the weather has turned distinctly autumnal. Ah, what would be Brits have to talk about if it wasn’t for our four-seasons-in-one-day climate?

News

The were-sloths have landed for newsletter subscribers. I’ve updated the story slightly from its original incarnation; it made me realise nothing dates a story quite so much as contemporary references. And I've added a postscript about the boys. I'll put them on my website in a fortnight.

There’s a new review of Wild Bells over at Love Bytes. Always good when someone enjoys your writing.

The third Lindenshaw mystery (working title “Two Feet Under”) is “go”. Just waiting for the release date to be finalised and I’ll share that here. Here’s an unedited snippet:

Adam put his mug on the table. Might as well take advantage of the offer because who knew when they’d get the chance again? Murders meant long hours, late nights, and knackered policemen whose thoughts were too tired to get into their pants. He leaned in for a smacker of a kiss.

“That was good. For starters.” Robin’s lascivious grin could have turned the iciest libido to butter. “What about—”

Once more Robin’s phone interrupted them just as things were getting interesting.

“Sorry,” he said, picking the thing up off the table.

“I told you to stop saying that.” Adam forced a grin, knowing that a second call so hard on the heels of the first couldn’t be good news and surely meant a return to the station.

“Oh, hi.” Robin halted halfway to the door. “How’s life?” Not the station, by the sound of it. “Yes, if we can. Depends what it is.” Robin mouthed what looked like the name “Anderson”. Hopefully this was just a social call from his old sergeant that could soon be dealt with, letting them get back to the matter in hand.

“Bloody hell!” Robin sat down heavily in the armchair. “When? Why?”

Adam, infuriated at only hearing half the conversation, helped himself to a consolatory biscuit. The worried expression on Robin’s face, and the way he’d settled into his chair suggested he was in for the long haul. As it turned out, the call was surprisingly short, with Robin saying, “Okay, I think that’ll be alright, so long as it’s short term,” then making a helpless gesture at Adam.

“What the hell’s going on?” Adam mouthed, but his partner simply gritted his teeth and rolled his eyes. Things had to be bad.

“I guess you got that was Anderson,” Robin said as the call ended.

“Yeah. Sounded ominous, whatever it was.”

“It is. Helen’s chucked him out.”

And finally, a snap from Cochrane Towers to prove that it must really be spring!

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Charlie
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I'm afraid I made a bit of a Horlicks in Friday's newsletter - the link for Dreams of Hero was broken. You can find the story here.
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Is it really a fortnight since I sent out the last of these? We’ve had my nephew’s wedding since then and just completed a university pick up run so tempus has been fugiting all round, as one might say. The clocks have gone forward so it’s gloriously light in the evenings and the birds are singing fit to burst!

News

In The Spotlight” is out now, with another rash of blog visits due this week. Last of the blog posts sent out so now I can start to get my mind round the next set of posts, those for the “Broke Deep”  blog tour. It’s all go, isn’t it? 

I often get asked what I’m working on at present, so:

  • Doing the second draft on a Cambridge Fellows short story which I’m doing to celebrate the projected relaunch of the first books in the series (more news when I’m allowed to talk about it!)

  • Writing a birthday story for a mate, one featuring a were-glyptodont. (Mad? Me? What makes you think so?)

  • Updating “Sollicito”, my weresloth story, to send out with the next newsletter, along with some more about those sloth shifter boys.  


Blast from the past! It’s been a while since I did one of these but I used to regularly feature an older story, so here’s a snippet of my first story with Carina, “Dreams of a Hero”.  

Excerpt (featuring the dream itself!)

The shield was tall and heavy, but the bearer was taller still. This gave little advantage when it meant he could get such a clear view of the advancing lines of troops. Miles adjusted his stance for comfort, staring oncoming death in the eye. “Which one is he?”
“The small one, that’s what they say.” Roger held the spear straight, never wavering even in the heat of impending battle. “Word is he’ll be leading the cavalry, away from where his father’s stationed.”
“Can’t have two firebrands together in case the whole world catches flame?”  Miles managed a rueful smile. “They say he’s handsome, the son.”
“And spoken for.” The smile was returned.
“I only said he was rumoured to be handsome, not that I wanted him to carry me off to his tent.” Miles adjusted his stance again, eliminating any chink in the shield wall.
“You might be grateful if that were your fate, come nightfall.” Roger shivered. “I  pray we’ll survive to joke about this. Now comes the deluge.”
“Deluge? Don’t you mean the conflagration, with the son of fire at its head? And with Hades’ gates wide open in his wake.”
The company turned slightly, as the horses came charging over the plain of Chaeronea.
Miles woke with a start.
 

And finally, some snaps from last weekend.



 

Charlie
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Since my last epistle, I’ve rather blotted my copybook with Mr Cochrane concerning that rugby game last week which I’m not allowed to mention. I just made an off the cuff remark wondering how many England might have scored against Scotland had we had our first choice team playing… 

News 

In The Spotlight”  comes out tomorrow! Nice little mention for it at the Romantic Novelists Association blog. And yes, I’ve created a “publisher” name for my self published works – most of you will realise what “The Right Chair Press” alludes to. 

As part of the usual release hoo-hah, I’m blog touring (all over the place like a rash, one might say) and most of these appearances give you a chance to win either a copy of “In The Spotlight” or something from the back list. So for starters, there’s: 

A week of giveaways at The Diverse Reader - I was one of those on day 3.  I’m guest author there tomorrow, too.

There’s a whole month of giveaways at The Romance Reviews anniversary event. My question will show up in a week’s time, on the 24th 

My main writing job at the moment is sorting out some edits for Broke Deep, which is available for pre-order at the Riptide site. Really good offer for the e-book/print combo. Then I need to get my head down over the edits for “Better to Die”, my story for the Manifold Call to Arms anthology. Still a couple of months before submissions closes so if you’re tempted to send something along, get a wiggle on.  

And finally, I occasionally turn my hand to a bit of sketching. Yes, it's two guinea pigs driving a motorcycle and sidecar. As they do...


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By the time you get this I should be in possession of two fewer teeth (dirty great big ones, too!) which should make my mouth a happier place. And if you get this at an odd time, my scheduling has gone up the spout.

News

Always fun to belatedly find a good review (this one was from last June!). It’s for the audio version of Lessons in Love.
“This was a lovely historical mystery…” read more at Books, Coffee and Captured Moments.

My next full length romance, Broke Deep, is up for pre-order.

Here’s an exclusive, unedited snippet:

Late morning, the doorbell went off with its horribly insistent tone. Morgan smoothed his hair and put on a smile—the best sort of smile he could manage on a day when he’d woken at five o’clock in the morning and not managed to get back to sleep. The fact he’d been having an erotic dream involving James hadn’t made things any easier.
He was bloody glad he’d made some effort on his appearance when he glimpsed the vision of hotness through the hall window. This had to be a lost surfer boy or someone who’d come to the coast to find himself a job as a lifeguard and then somehow got hopelessly off track. It couldn’t be Dominic, because blokes like this didn’t usually knock on the door of Cadoc for any legitimate reason to do with the occupant.
Morgan hesitated, hand on the doorknob. If real life was like a gay romance book, this would be Dominic and they’d bond over a discussion of James, one full of shared hatred for the bloke. The next minute they’d be taking a romantic walk on the beach and maybe tonight they’d drag each other up the stairs and...
The doorbell rang again and Morgan realised he was still standing fantasising. He opened the door in a rush just as “surfer boy type who might just be Dominic” had turned to go back down the path.
“Sorry I took so long,” Morgan said, as brightly as he could manage.
“I thought there was nobody in.” Surfer boy smiled, which reignited memories of last night’s dream. Morgan squirmed. “There’s a bloke here to see you, only he’s gone off to take some pictures and he asked me to come over and say he’d arrived.” Surfer boy waved airily in the direction of a bright red hire car, parked next to the gate.
“Are you a friend of his?” Surely this couldn’t be Dominic’s boyfriend, although a twin brother would be good.
“No. We met on the plane and when he heard where I was heading he said he’d give me a lift, so I didn’t have to wait for a bus. My girlfriend lives up on the main road.” Surfer boy grinned, looking stupidly handsome, even more so for being clearly unavailable. “Stroke of luck on my part. Eh?”
“You did well for yourself.” Morgan sighed as he scanned the line of the hedge. “Has your chauffeur gone walkabout?”
“Probably. He seems a bit of a fanatic; something to do with ships or timbers or whatever. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention. I bet he’s seen an interesting piece of wood and gone to take a sample or something.” Surfer boy—straight, unavailable surfer boy—smiled again, then adjusted his backpack. “Right. Unless I want a dose of earache I’d better be on my way. Bye.” He turned on his heels and walked off down the path towards the gate, duty done.
“Bye,” Morgan answered, watching him go and wondering why life was never like gay romance books.

Don’t forget:

Deadly Dames will be at Portsmouth Book Fest trying to sound intelligent and amusing on the subject of 'Nemesis with knitting needles'. Saturday 18th February,
Tickets available now! Do come and insult—sorry, consult—us. You’ll be able to see the post-teeth op mess my face will be in.


And finally, one of the places that inspired Broke Deep.

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Greetings from a bright, sunny, blue-skied (and totally freezing) England.

News

An eagle eyed fan noticed that some of the links to free ficlets/missing scenes on the Cambridge Fellows page of my website were broken. They should now be all up to date.

Other news:

Five stars for Wild Bells at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

Charlie Cochrane is one of our top m/m historical ficthttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NA785IDion authors.  Her stories center us and her characters in their era and cultures effortlessly, plunging us into the niceties of teas, obligation,and  respectability.

You can win a copy of Horns and Haloes in my Valentine's Day themed contest over at Fresh Fiction .

Excerpt:
Who’d want to be a school governor? No pay, little thanks, plenty of red tape. And yet they’d all volunteered to be on this course. Altruistic. Or gluttons for punishment. And on Valentine’s Day, just to rub things in.
“So just work with the person next to you.”
The tutor’s words brought Jamie back to the present with a bump. Work with the person next to you to do what?
“I hope you know the answers because I’m stuck.” The bloke next to Jamie — Alex, according to the hand written sticker on his shirt — grinned and brandished a worksheet.
“I do, but only because I’ve done this bit before, on another course.” Jamie returned the smile.
“You write the answers in, and I’ll read them and try to look intelligent.” Alex’s eyes twinkled.
Why weren’t there any blokes like this on the Cattlebridge Primary Governing Body, with brown eyes lively enough to make the interminable meetings worth sitting through?
“Deal. They’ll give us an answer sheet later, anyway.” Jamie scribbled down some key words, just so it wasn’t obvious that his mind wasn’t on the questions.
“I don’t think they’ll let me have one, punishment for sneaking in late.” Alex smiled again.
Jamie filled in some more answers, trying hard not to write “Do not flirt” on the page.
What point would there be in flirting, anyway? Alex was bound to be married, with two kids in school and one more to come. Typical parent governor. The handsome ones always were.

Don’t forget:

Deadly Dames will be at Portsmouth Book Fest trying to sound intelligent and amusing on the subject of 'Nemesis with knitting needles'. Saturday 18th February,
Tickets available now! Do come and insult—sorry, consult—us.

And finally, spring must be coming – I have snowdrops. (Not that I ever planted them; these are a present from the birdies.)



Charlie
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Happy New Year. May 2017 bring you all you wish for – at least those things you wish for which won’t get you into trouble!

News

The Christmas present from me and Elin (the daft Cambridge Fellows/Eleventh Hour crossover, Spies, planes and automobiles) is now available for general download at my free fiction page and at Elin’s blog. If you fancy a car chase or two, an encounter with an AA man, and a hilarious and bloodthirsty youth (Elin’s invention) hie thee hence. 

Other news:

Smashing review of Lessons in Love audio book  at Rainbow Gold Reviews.

Mysteries and British charm just seem to fit together perfectly. It was a light-hearted and engaging read! I had a great time with this story and can strongly recommend it!

Read more of the review here.

Deadly Dames will be at Portsmouth Book Fest trying to sound intelligent and amusing on the subject of 'Nemesis with knitting needles'. Saturday 18th February, tickets available from Monday January 9th. Do come and insult—sorry, consult—us.

And finally, spring—and these sorts of flowers—can only just be round the corner, can’t it?

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Charlie

 

 

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Only 16 (count ‘em!) sleeps until Christmas. I am so excited it’s ridiculous. I know, not dignified for a woman of my age, but I approach this season like a big child, loving every mince pie and carol service.

News (and there’s lots of it!):

Lessons for Sleeping Dogs was third placed in the Rainbow awards Historical category. Icon. One of the judges remarked, “Ms. Cochrane has the ability of leaving you guessing until the very end, leaving you making assumptions throughout the story.” Am thrilled skinny!

Wild Bells is now fully unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Its first review (at The Novel Approach) said, “Charlie Cochrane’s historical fiction is the chicken soup for my soul.” So am thrilled skinny twice over.

Talking of The Novel Approach, I’m being interviewed there today, sharing some tips about writing historical fiction. Feel free to drop in and ask me questions. (I can’t, alas, supply Saturday’s winning lottery numbers.)

The free 500 word story, A Certain Man was Sick, is now available to everyone at my free fiction page. If you want to know who died in the cathedral and why, it’s all there. You’ll find another free story coming exclusively to newsletter subscribers next time (23rd December). This is a Cambridge Fellows/Eleventh Hour crossover which I wrote with the multi talented Elin Gregory and which involves spies, planes and automobiles.

And finally,

Not yet got this year's tree up, so here are some highlights from last year's.



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Wishing a very happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it. Can you believe it’s only a month to Christmas? (I can – am off the wall with excitement!) Sunday is the start of Advent, so we’ll be getting out a wreath and candles to start our preparation for the big day. Okay – that’s a lie. My preparations for Christmas start on December 26th.

News:

It’s time for another Charlie freebie for the mailing list. This one was originally written for a Dorothy L Sayers Society ‘Death in the Cathedral’ competition and can be downloaded exclusively by newsletter subscribers for the next fortnight. The next freebie – the Cambridge Fellows/ Eleventh Hour crossover – will be out at the end of December, so if you want to sign up click the link on the right hand side of my website home page.

Wild Bells is now available for pre-order ahead of its release date of 1st December. This is my first foray into self-publishing (see, you can teach an old dog new tricks) and combines in on edition two previously published historical novellas, The Shade on a Fine Day and The Angel in the Window. Both of which have a winter theme. Here’s a smidge, in which Tom and Alexander from The Angel in the Window are on the way home from the Christmas Eve service.

They reached the house tingling with cold and welcoming the glasses of hot mulled wine thrust into their hands. The household and guests were still up enjoying drinks and a light supper, servants and all on this special day. Mr. Anderson—a wrinklier, balder version of his son—bounded over and embraced them both.
“About to set the dogs out to look for you. Stargazin’ and daydreamin’ again, was he?”
“No, but not for want of trying.” Alexander nodded, stray auburn wisps from his queue escaping onto his neck. “I’m amazed he hasn’t driven us all to grey hairs.”
“Why do you think I have so little of mine left?” Mr. Anderson, beaming, ran his hands through his thinning locks.
“What are you boys up to?” A deep, pleasant female voice announced the arrival of the Mrs. Anderson. “Talking about the sermon? Or was it Drury Lane?”
“Discussing my faults, mother.!” Tom kissed her cheek. “We could be here till Lammas.”
She grinned. “The next Lammas but one. Now, tomorrow. No hunting.”
“Oh, mother, surely...”
She stifled her son’s argument with a wave of her hand. “I’ve been keeping the local young ladies at bay for you, as you’d wish. Had to use the tactic ‘Injured in action, ship’s surgeon insists on complete rest’. What will they and their mothers think if they see you cavorting on a horse?”
“But...”
“No ‘buts’. If you wish to chase the fox, you must risk being chased by the vixens and I’ll offer you no place to go to ground, my boy.” She narrowed her eyes. “And watch what you wear. If you’re done up like a spinsters’ delight, you’ll have to live with the consequences.”
“We should have you leading the fleet,” Alexander, emboldened by wine and warmth, bowed to his hostess. “Not even Sir Edward Pellew could show such dash.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Mr. Anderson said, raising his glass and proposing the first of many toasts.
After what seemed an age of “wives and sweethearts” and “confusion to Napoleon”, the post-church party dispersed, and everyone could creep away to bed. Although Alexander had the distinct, disquieting impression his host had said something like, “Those boys. Think of the quantity of feminine guile that will be wasted on them over the years,” as he and Tom had ascended the stairs.

And finally, talking of cathedrals...Winchester, en route for the Cathedral Christmas market last evening. Quite magical.

image-w1

Charlie
charlie_cochrane: (jury of one)
Been a bit of a week, hasn’t it? We had the events across the Atlantic of Tuesday through to Wednesday (I was chairing a meeting on Wednesday and had to sign/date a set of papers which meant I kept writing 9/11 – make of that what you will). Then yesterday our nation was torn apart, family member against family member – were you for or against the John Lewis Christmas ad? All joking aside, my American pals are very much in my thoughts at present.

News:

Lessons for Sleeping Dogs has got an Honourable mention at the Rainbow Awards which is dead chuffifying (I have turned into Shakespeare – I’m making up my own words).

Also a lovely set of reviews for my WWI books (among some other excellent ones) in Padme’s Library’s Remembrance post.

I guess, given the day, it’s appropriate to post a snippet from one of those stories, and I’ve chosen Awfully Glad with my WWI concert party female impersonator.

“We’ll leave you to it.” Corry ushered the gaggle of officers out, leaving Sam alone with the business of casting off one persona and putting his real face back on. While being Madeleine was always exhilarating—especially when some poor dupe fell for the trick—he was more comfortable in his own skin. He knew men who weren’t, of course, who’d have envied him this opportunity to prance about onstage and garner the temporarily deluded worship of ranks of young men, but that wasn’t his cup of tea. Somehow his being a rugby-playing, Military Cross-winning officer added a certain authority to the deception. A female impersonator he might be, but nobody would ever accuse him of being a pansy.
He considered his reflection, which was almost passable now that the red patches on his face, where he’d smeared off the make-up, had faded and his hair had been towelled to a tawny dark blond. He looked younger than twenty-seven, barely a touch of six o’clock shadow, which was why Madeleine was always so authentic looking, of course. He’d make some young lady a wonderful husband, as his family kept reminding him.
Except that was on the bottom of his list of priorities, possibly even below getting himself stuck on a piece of barbed wire.
Make some chap a lovely husband? Yes, well, less chance of that happening than George V coming out here, shaking the Kaiser’s hand, and putting this whole mess to an end right now. Still, he couldn’t deny that the last few minutes had been pleasant. Corry was a great bloke—if he knew, then he was keeping his own counsel—and the ginger-headed lad had blushed rather attractively, even if the rest of his face seemed to consist of rough and pockmarked terrain.
The other two officers had been a treat for the eye, though. Did somebody in the regiment have an eye for a handsome face and make sure the pair had been assigned to the same battalion?
A small shape, just at the corner of Sam’s vision, caught his attention: a small piece of writing paper, or something else of the same colour, between two jars of make-up on the makeshift dressing table.
He prised the thing out—a little piece of paper, which had clearly been folded with great care before being wedged in such a position as to be visible only to someone sitting in the chair. It hadn’t been there before the show, and he’d swear it hadn’t been there at the interval nor straight after they’d taken their curtain call, either. Which meant, presumably, that one of his little gaggle of visitors had left it. Except he hadn’t noticed anybody put it there, or even one of the officers touching the jars on the table. Someone must have had a good tactical eye, an appreciation for the lay of the dressing-table land, and the ability to make a bold but discreet move. That hardly narrowed the field, did it? They were army officers, after all.
He turned the paper in his hand, imagining some poor chump of a second lieutenant writing love lines to Miss Madeleine, leaving them here, and then not being able to retrieve them after the great denouement had occurred. How that chap would be squirming now at the thought of Sam reading the lines he’d penned and having a good laugh over them. Perhaps it would be kinder just to chuck the note in the bin, rather than making the man suffer embarrassment. He might have put his name to it, after all.
Still…
Sam couldn’t resist unfolding it; he’d had these sorts of things before and they were always good for a laugh. The invitations would range from the innocent to the knowingly experienced, although nobody ever suggested something entirely obscene—Miss Madeleine gave an air of always being above such things. This would probably be the usual Might I buy you a drink? I know this little estaminet…
It wasn’t.
“I’m awfully glad you’re not a girl. J.”

And finally...lest we forget


Charlie
charlie_cochrane: (jury of one)
Oh, I love this time of year. The leaves on the trees are turning so almost any journey becomes a real delight. Even going to the dentist is a pleasure, given the glorious golds and reds en route.

News:

Have the finished Cover Art for Broke Deep (next year from Riptide) which I can’t share, alas, although I can give you an exclusive look at the cover for ‘Wild Bells’ which will be out on kindle later this year and is a double header of ‘The Shade on a Fine Day’ and ‘The Angel in the Window’. More details of release date when I have them. Cover design courtesy of the lovely (but far too talented) Alex Beecroft.  



 Writing: 

Talking of people who are far too talented, Elin Gregory (she who wrote Eleventh Hour) and I are putting together a mad crossover fanfic between her book and the Cambridge Fellows. We’re 80% finished so it’ll be edited and ready to let loose on you by Christmas. 

Here’s an unedited snippet, starting with a car chase. Oh, and if you’ve not read Eleventh Hour, you need to know that what makes Miles Siward such a good agent is his ability to pass for a gal. 

Ahead, Polzin had realised he had a pursuer. He braked hard, turned in his seat and fired again, but Miles had no idea what became of the bullet.  He accelerated, making a mental apology to the transport department because he’d run Polzin right off the road if necessary, and hurtled down on Polzin.

Another shot, this one starred the windshield, then Polzin took off again. He was driving an Austin and Miles remembered another pursuit, this time by night.

“I wish you were here, Briers,” he murmured, then flinched and braked, Polzin was swerving wildly, dust billowing up from under his tyres as another vehicle appeared. A farm cart drawn by two enormous Shires and beyond it another car. Polzin squeezed past in a shriek of metal on stone but the Lagonda would never make it. Miles had a split second to choose – hit the wall or plough into the great feathered legs of the team. No choice, really.

“Is she dead?” A deep voice. Miles could hear it clearly, and even thought he might be able to put a name to it from some deep cavern of memory, but he could neither open his eyes nor respond.

“No, she’s breathing, you clown. Hopefully nothing worse than being out for the count. And a pint of claret down the front of her dress.” Another voice, one that Miles instantly recognised, although what Jonty Stewart was doing here, God alone knew. Unless Miles was dreaming, of course. Or really had died and Dr. Stewart and his colleague—that’s who the other voice must belong to—formed an unusual pair of heavenly ushers. “It wasn’t your fault.”

“I know. It was that other idiot going far too fast. Worse driver even than you.” The colleague—what was his name again? Wainwright? Copperberg?—sounded beside himself with worry. “We should have gone for the doctor. The car would be quicker than a cart.” 

And finally...something suitable for the season and all our own work (albeit from a few years back). 



 

 

 
charlie_cochrane: (jury of one)

This is always a momentous weekend as it sees the return of the European rugby competitions, so if I time things right I can sometimes see as many as 8 games Thursday through to Sunday. Be still by racing heart…

News:

Don’t forget that there are all sorts of book bargains to be picked up in Riptide’s 5th anniversary sale, including some of my books at silly prices. Fill one’s boots time, methinks.

The lovely Elin Gregory and I are ignoring what we should be writing to spend some time on a mad crossover ‘self fanfiction’ between the Cambridge Fellows universe and her novel Eleventh Hour. (Her leading man Miles definitely had Jonty as a tutor when at Cambridge so this was always at risk of happening.) So far we have a car chase, an angry Orlando, a Jonty who is being Jonty-ish to the nth degree and a perplexed AA man. And the intention of putting in some very daft jokes.

Talking of Elin, it’s not long until the Queer Company event. Last time I heard there were still some places left so if you want to come and hear me on Alex Beecroft’s panel about reality in fiction, nip in quick.

And finally...


As summer ebbs away, here's one of my favourite castles seen on an August day. Why do I like it so much? Best place in the world for lizard spotting.


charlie_cochrane: (jury of one)
Afternoon all. Autumn is definitely in the offing, with wind getting up and bedding plants looking decidedly sad. However, autumn means rugby so life isn’t all bad. (And I’m still super inspired by the Olympics and Paralympics.)

News:

Aftermath – my very first published story back in 2008 when I was only 29 (she lied) – is now up on my free fiction page having been exclusively available to newsletter members only for the last fortnight.

Next year sees the release of two stories of mine in the Porthkennack universe.  Cover art is almost done for the first one, Broke Deep (a contemporary romance with a darker side) and I’ll share it as soon as I’m allowed to. The other story is set just post WWI, talking of which…

I’ll be recommencing the WWI centenary themed posts next month. Have posted something on the 4th (to mark the start day) and 11th (to mark the end day) of the month since August 2014, although this summer I got a bad dose of life – don’t ask – and things went to pot. You can find the older posts here.

And finally...

Some appropriate foliage.

img_0328
charlie_cochrane: (jury of one)
You’ll be pleased to know that a) UK Meet went really well and b) it was suitably short skirt weather. We’re having a year’s sabbatical, so let’s hope the old pins are up to being aired in 2018.

News:

My very first published story, Aftermath, was in a now defunct anthology, “Speak Its Name”. It’s been unavailable for a while, but – tah dah! – here it is again, with an entirely new epilogue.

I resisted all temptation to rewrite the earlier part of the story as my writing has developed an awful lot since 2008, but I decided against that. Take it as evidence of how my ability with words has improved!

My newsletter subscribers can access an exclusive download of the story (I do like to give them freebies) for a fortnight, and then it’ll go onto my free fiction page.

And with the Paralympics in full swing, I’m pleased to remind people that I have possibly the only Paralympics swimming themed story in existence, Tumble Turn.

Writing:

Have got the rights back to some of my early short stories, with a view to self publishing them. More news when I have it.

And finally...

It being Olympic year, here’s something to rekindle fond memories of the Olympic stadium, Super Saturday 2012

charlie_cochrane: (jury of one)

Am all of a divvy doo dah getting myself ready for UK Meet, which starts tomorrow. Do I take the brand new dress I got for a wedding next spring and debut it at the Rainbow dinner? Do I have a skirt short enough to live up (down?) to my reputation?

News:

I’ve been answering questions hither and yon (luckily none like “What were you doing the night the bank was robbed?”) including at Rachel Brimble’s and as part of the Summer’s Day blog tour. If you follow the link in my bit of that second post, you’ll find a really heartwarming story about one of our UK Meet keynote speakers.

Always good to see the old warhorses on offer and there are some good deals on the early Cambridge Fellows books on Amazon at present, also a great deal on the whole series.

Writing:


Have almost finished the additions to Aftermath, my very first published story which is now out of print and not available anywhere but the dreaded pirate sites. Once it’s complete (and a little epilogue is taking on a life of its own so that’s taking longer than expected!) I’ll be sending it out to all newsletter subscribers, free and gratis.

And finally...

in case you missed it, Jonty's new obsession (or it would be if Orlando let him buy one!)


charlie_cochrane: (jury of one)

Great to have my fellows 'Summer's dayer' Dianne popping in today.

What inspired you to join The Summer's Day project?

I was super excited to be asked to join The Summer’s Day project. It sounded like such an intriguing idea. Take a Shakespearean play and turn it into my own story? I could do that. Shakespeare has such terrific plays to choose from. And the fact that it’s for charity just makes it that much more fun.

How did your story take form in your mind?

That was easy! The Two Gentlemen of Verona is about Valentine, half in love with his best friend Proteus, who in turn loves the beautiful Julia. Val travels to Milan to seek his fortune. Proteus follows. They both fall in love with the lovely Silvia. Proteus betrays Valentine to Silvia’s father and Valentine flees into the forest where he is made the king of a band of outlaws. Julia dresses as a man to be near Proteus…

As you can see, all the drama I could want is in this play! I simply put all these elements into a modern setting and let the story unfold.

What did it feel like watching your first book fledge and leave the nest?

Simple relief! That first book was a trial by fire. ALEX, my psychological thriller, took me a year to write, another four months with an editor. Then, when it was picked up by a publisher, one month before it was due to be released, the publishing company folded. I received my rights back, but it was devastating, to say the least. Luckily, I found a new publisher for it. Needless to say, all my other publishing experiences have been much more pleasant.

Are you character or plot driven? What do you do if one of your characters starts developing at a tangent?

Definitely character driven, and I’m all about emotion, climbing right into my character’s mind and body to live the story through their eyes. How they experience a scene, especially their emotional response, propels my story forward.

And I love when a character wanders from the plot. It adds another dimension to the story and takes my characters to places I hadn’t originally thought of. If they try to take over the story, well, I usually let them, making sure what they do ties in with my main character. And I can always rein them in if they get too far off the mark.

If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why?

That would be Valentine from Two Guys from Vancouver. Not only is he sweet and dependable, but he would do anything to help his friends. He has a kind heart and doesn’t like to see anyone in trouble. And when it comes to helping his friends, he never backs down from a fight.

If you had no constraints of time and a guarantee of publication, what book would you write?

I write the books I want to regardless of a guarantee of publication. At the moment I’m doing research for a book involving hoodoo bokors and zombies. After that, I want to write the third story in my ALEX series, involving psychics and killers and a little boy lost. Hopefully they’ll be published, but I’m writing them anyway.

Is there a classic book you started and simply couldn't finish?

Moby Dick. I’m intrigued by the whole psychological aspect of the story, but the writing is simply too dry for me.

What’s your favourite gay romance/other genre book? And why?

That would be A Charm of Magpies series by K.J. Charles. Intriguing, plot driven, Victorian novels with characters I’ve come to love and admire.

Warning: Contains hot m/m sex between a deeply inappropriate earl and a very confused magician, dark plots in a magical version of Victorian England, family values (not the good kind), and a lot of swearing.

What's your next project?

At the moment I’m doing my final read through for a story, Robin’s Confession, I’m submitting to another charity anthology called Turn the Page. The specific focus of this project is suicide prevention and awareness. The planned beneficiaries (at this point, subject to change) are: The Trevor Project (local chapter), Prevent Suicide Wisconsin, HOPES – Helping Others Prevent and Educate about Suicide, and Suicide Prevention Resource Center – UWM (Milwaukee), with a tentative release date of October 8, 2016

Robin’s Confession

How can Robin find true love without accepting himself first?

Sweet, shy, gender fluid; Robin hides who he is, molding himself into what society views as ‘normal’, finding solace in the intricate pattern of scars he carves into his arms.

That is, until he starts dating Jase, the new man at his father’s construction company and the one who seems to want Robin for who he is, dresses and all. Jase even stands up to his own parents for Robin’s sake, risking his father’s anger and his chance to go to college. Robin is poised on the edge of happiness, ready to step into Jase’s open arms. Yet how can he believe in Jase’s love without first learning to believe in himself?

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