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Hoping that Friday the thirteenth is treating you well. It’s a grey day here, but very mild (probably the start of “St. Luke’s little summer”) and I’ve been attacking my grape vine. Alas, none of them made their way into my tummy, having been devoured by the blackbirds – it was fun to see them flying in and out of the vine to feed.

News

Count the Shells is out on Monday – cue the happy dance. It’ll be a busy week with an extensive blog tour and, of course, a bag full of goodies to be won. You can comment at any (or all!) blog stops for a chance to win, and every new comment you make increases your chances of winning. Think of it like raffle tickets…
The first review of the story popped up in Publishers’ Weekly, about which I’m grinning from ear to ear.
Cochrane’s ear for historical idioms and sensitivity to the secrecy of gay life in early-20th-century Britain create a powerful impression of accuracy. This deeply felt work is sure to please fans of historical romance.

It’s been a busy week for me with a local writers’ meet up, and RNA lunch and an ITW interview to start. Can I put in a word for the two latter organisations? Any of you based in the UK who are aspiring writers might consider contacting your local Romantic Novelists Association branch to see if they allow visitors at their events. Ours does, and several of are regulars don’t even write romance! It’s a great networking opportunity. And for those of you who like crime and thrillers, the ITW e-zine, The Big Thrill, has some great articles in it. Well worth a look through.

Also coming out soon (November 1st) is the charity anthology Call to Arms which will support refugee aid. All the stories are set in or heavily influenced by World War Two.

My offering is Better to Die, which is inspired by old soldiers, the war grave I tend in the local churchyard and the Gurkha kukri I inherited from my dad.

Here’s an excerpt:

By a coincidence, my great-uncle had served in World War Two, out in Burma, with the Chindits, though it would have been stretching things to hope Great Uncle Frank had known my captain.
Frank was the black sheep of the family. He'd lived in our village until I was five and my fondest memories of the man were the stories he regaled us with. Snakes in the jungle so thin they'd slip through the eyelets of your boots, Gurkha soldiers as hard as adamant that you thanked God were on your side and not the other. Never anything about the fighting, though; he kept that close to his chest.
I'll never forget the dirty great Gurkha kukri Frank kept on his wall. Mum had kittens when he got it down and let me hold it, but I treated it with respect. Didn't so much as nick my fingers.
"Jamie," Frank used to say, "when you take a kukri out of its scabbard, it has to taste blood before it can go back again. That's why I took this out and keep it out, so it doesn't need satisfying again. My fighting days are long gone. You can have it when I'm gone."
"You'll never go," I'd said, secretly delighted that I'd get the thing one day.
"Better to die than to be a coward," he'd replied, enigmatically. Later I found that had been the motto of the Gurkha Rifles, but I was sure there was more to what he was saying than just that.
Frank moved away not long after, and our side of the family lost touch with him. I suspected Dad knew where he'd gone but he wouldn't even let anyone send Frank so much as a Christmas card. When I was twelve Dad sat me down and told me I was old enough to know the truth: war was hard, and Frank had suffered the worst of it. He'd seen some dreadful things, done some dreadful things, and he found it difficult to live with himself. Dad reckoned Frank had come home with something like shell shock so he acted loopy at times. It was safer for all of us not to be near him when things turned bad.
That changed my mind about being a squaddie – I was going to save lives, not take them. Going off to Bart's meant I stopped grave visiting, although I tried to keep up an interest in browsing war books, although that stopped when I discovered sex. No healthy, testosterone-laden medical student was going to stay at home with 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence' when he could be out getting his leg over. Notice I didn't say "when I discovered girls" and you'll get the picture.

And finally, at the RNA lunch we were discussing my 'non-bucket bucket list' which made me remember getting on that Lancaster Bomber. Appropriate with Call to Arms in mind!



Charlie
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Summer 2017 has finally gone. Nothing to do with the equinox, or even the weather—which has been glorious on and off this week—but the end of the cricket season. Yes, cricket is the sport in which you can have a single game that lasts five days and in which there isn’t necessarily a winner. How quintessentially English can you get?

News

There has been a flurry of reviews. (Better than a slurry of reviews!) First of all for Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour,  in the Mystery People e-zine, reposted at Promoting Crime Blogspot.

There are many deft touches of humour, as when Orlando and Jonty individually experience the salutary realisation that the members of ‘the college next door’ are, in the main, pleasant and intelligent people, and that many of them regard St Bride’s with the same degree of disdain as the St Brides’ Fellows have always felt for them.

Jury of One got a 4.25 star review at Joyfully Jay.

I’d highly recommend this series to readers who love both mysteries and British colloquial English

I’ve set up a page for The Right Chair Press, which is my imprint for my new and re-released self-published stories. I’ve got three titles so far, although that represents five stories, as I’m putting out the older titles as double-ups, to provide best value for my readers.

Here’s a snippet from Wild Bells,  my first foray into “DIY”.

Benjamin Swann couldn’t sleep at all. Dinner, excellent as it had been, lay heavy on his stomach, while thoughts oppressed his mind. He looked out over the fields, their thick coating of frost resembling snow in the moonlight. He loved winter, the white and grey tones, the clear light and sharp air all helping to bring his life into a clearer focus. Not that it needed to be brought much further into focus after tonight. He wandered down to the library, where a fire was always kept burning low on cold nights. He coaxed it into life, laying another log on, then found his favourite pack of cards, dealing out hands without thinking.
Queen of hearts. He considered the ladies sleeping in houses and cottages all over the parish, lost in dreams of suitors and admirers, then held the pack to his head in an attempt to cool his restless, guilty thoughts.
Queen of clubs. His sister too, not thirty yards up the stairs and along the corridor of the big house, asleep and no doubt dreaming, like the other maids who frequented St. Archibald’s, of a pair of blue eyes and a flashing smile.
Jack of hearts. The only decision William Church could make which wouldn’t disappoint any of them would be the offer of his hand.
disappoint any of them would be the offer of his hand.
Jack of spades. Well, whatever the man chose to do, there would be many a long face in the parish. Everyone with any sense had seen the risk of that eventuality from the moment the curate had arrived and swept the spinsters off their feet, and the likely number of potentially broken hearts seemed to increase weekly.
King of hearts. Only one person could win the man’s lasting affection—Benjamin was sure William was no cad and wouldn’t seek to play the field. Whether he’d be brave enough to go where Benjamin felt his conscience might lead him was another thing.
Joker. Why did life have to be so ridiculously complicated?

And finally, thinking of autumn days ahead



 
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It was an exciting time hard on the heels of the last newsletter going out – our first ever double header at Twickenham. Now, before anyone with a smutty mind starts reading double meanings into that, it was simply two rugby matches in succession and wonderful they both were. Saracens won the first, London Irish the second, and a good time was had by all three Cochranes who attended.

News

“Shell Shocked”, my humorous – and whimsically peculiar – shifter story, is now available for everyone to read on my free stories page. I’ve re-organised that part of the site so it’s easier to find the stories by type. Free stories are always given as an exclusive to newsletter members first!

I’ll be taking part in the International Thriller Writers roundtable discussion that runs September 25th to October 1st: Comedy and Humor in the thriller genre: Is it difficult to write comedy or humor into thriller novels? Is it necessary, desired, or just a tool to release the tension in some needed spots? The roundtable discussions are usually very interesting and informative.

I’ve been busy doing my blog posts for the Count the Shells blog tour next month. I’ll be offering a bag of British themed goodies as the tour prize and am happy to post that to anywhere in the known universe. I’ve also been getting into gear with UK Meet stuff, preparatory to tickets going on sale in October (that’s going to be a busy month!) If you’re interested in attending UK Meet 2018, which is 8th-9th September in the lovely city of Bristol, make sure you sign up for the event newsletter at any page of our website.

And now for one of those really annoying “I have news although I can’t tell you much” type announcements. I’ve got a re-release date for Lessons in Love (the first book in the Cambridge Fellows series) and it’ll be this year, but I’m bound to keep things quiet for just a wee while longer. As they say, “Bear with, bear with!”

And finally, a reminder of summer and the lovely - very inspirational - island of Jersey. There are thousands of years of archaeology in that there picture.

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Afternoon all. And that’s possibly the last coherent remark you’ll get out of me for the next few days as we’re imminently off to Twickenham for a weekend of rugby. Stand up for the Saracens and all that.

News 

I’ve had a few enquiries about formats of Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour other than the currently available kindle and print formats. At some point all my self published/self re-published repertoire will appear at sites other than Amazon, probably starting with Wild Bells and then In the Spotlight. If you need a non-kindle format for any of these books, please contact me direct.

In a mad moment, and inspired by Nicky’s Slade exhibition of art – including framed books – at the Harbour Lights cinema I have persuaded a few fellow authors to hold an exhibition there next May, with the working title Cover? Art! More news on that once I have it, but here’s an appetite wetter, with a certain author already starting to scheme.

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My next new release is Count the Shells. It’s out on October 16th, which suddenly is next month! Here’s an excerpt, with Michael (my leading man) and his sister discussing an old photograph.

Caroline smiled. “Anyway, that picture kept me going all those long days when the family waited for the next letter from you.”
Michael nodded. Many a photograph must have kept families, wives, and sweethearts comforted over the years. “Not just me, I suspect. You always had a soft spot for Thomas, didn’t you?”
“He was rather handsome. We all liked him.”
Did she know how far Michael’s liking had gone? It wasn’t something they could ever have freely discussed, but Caroline was far from stupid. She must have noticed exchanges of glances, overheard whispers or mysterious laughter, wondered why Michael wasn’t quite the same with Thomas as he was with other friends. Or had she simply assumed that was how men were when they had close friendships? Many people lived in blissful ignorance of what really went on between some couples of the same gender who shared a house or habitually holidayed together.
“Michael?” Caroline nudged him. “Are you feeling all right?”
“Yes. Just lost in memories. I can almost see him here, now. Running along this very lawn with that wretched kite.”
“The one he couldn’t get to fly?” Caroline snorted.
“That’s the one.” They’d have been fifteen, the family holidaying here and Michael introducing Thomas to them for the first time. He’d lived not far away, at a house called Broch, which was apparently some type of ancient Scottish dwelling and had been the brainchild of a previous, Celtic, owner of the property. Thomas had dropped in on the Grays on an almost daily basis, although nobody had complained at the intrusion. As Caroline had pointed out, he had been universally liked. It had been a glorious summer of warmth and light, the two boys teetering on the brink of understanding that their camaraderie was not like that of their schoolmates. “I was glad when that kite broke. I always felt he’d get so enthralled he wouldn’t realise where he was running and he’d go down the path and right over the cliff with it.”
Caroline, sly smile creeping over her face, patted his hand. “I have a terrible confession to make, although I won’t do it until you swear you won’t tell Richard.”
“I swear,” Michael promised, intrigued.
“I was the one who broke that kite. I had exactly the same concern as you did—he was so terribly reckless, so . . .” She shrugged. “I’ve lived with it on my conscience, but it had to be done.”

And finally, it has to be the dressing room at Twickenham. Unoccupied, alas, but I guess a girl can't have everything.

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Charlie

And finally finally, a bit of fun.
RJ Scott's Birthday Treasure Hunt

 

Clue One - One half of the guys who really like the barn.


Answers to be entered on RJ's blog on September 3.

 

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Afternoon all, or whatever time it is in your neck of the woods when you read this. We’re enjoying a typical August day, with blazing sun hard on the heels of a thunderstorm that produced hailstones the size of broad beans. As Flanders and Swann sang 50+ years ago, “August, cold and dank and wet, Brings more rain than any yet.”

News

Lots going on at the moment, the first of which is the release – just this Monday gone – of Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour, which is in both kindle and print form.
Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being given a mystery to solve. But what happens when you have to defend your greatest enemy on a charge of murder?

I’m doing a blog tour, all stops of which are linked here as they appear. Comment at any stop (or all) to get your name into the hat to win an audio copy of Lessons in Love.

I’ve done an interview about the book for Mystery People, where Carol Westron asked me lots of excellent questions, like When a new character appears in their investigations, do you know from the beginning exactly what they are like and the role they are going to play, or do you discover it as you write? I had to get my thinking cap on.

There’s a great review of Broke Deep over at The good the bad and the unread.
All in all, a most delightful read, and a highly worthy addition to the world of Porthkennack.

And finally, my favourite picture from the Selsey Meet the Authors event last week. Me, with one of my writing heroes - Simon Brett - on the same table! Be still my racing heart…




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Do any of you have a bucket list? Or, as we call it, a “non-bucket bucket list” as we’re not intending popping our clogs just yet. We simply decided that with one of us having reached the big six zero, and with me rapidly approaching it, the time had come to jot down what we want to do and get about doing it. Being us, though, it’s not things like “walk the great wall of China” more, “attend a Nigel Owens charity event”. Got that one booked already… 

News 

Everyone loves a giveaway, (at least, I hope they do) and today I come bearing one.

The “Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour” blog tour will be happening next week and to celebrate it, I’ll be giving away a copy of Lessons in Love audio version. You can comment at any of the blog stops, which are listed here – if you comment at more than one stop, you get more than one entry in the virtual hat.

Have you noticed my new banner, at the top of  my Facebook page, and reproduced here? Am very chuffed with it - love all those sepia tones.

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Today I delivered a free story (Shell Shocked) to my newsletter peeps, a shifter story with a difference. If you want exclusive stories, before they appear on my website, make sure you sign up to the newsletter. 

Excerpt from Shell Shocked:

The lights, the recording equipment, the lairy looking rozzer.
I’ve never experienced anything like this before, never been in trouble with the police. Honest Billy, that’s me, always kept my nose clean; I even declare every one of my tips on my tax form. So, what’s Mrs. Zanderson’s best boy doing being formally interviewed under caution?
Doing his best to explain just how he’d got into this mess in the first place, only I can’t tell them the whole truth, for reasons that will become apparent.
“How and when did you meet Jonny Telfer?”
“A couple of months ago, in a bar. The Happy Return.”
“Had you gone there to pick up a fare?”
“No. It was pleasure, not business.” And what a pleasure it had turned out to be, at least at first...

 

 

 
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A real milestone for the Cochranes this week when our youngest girl graduated from University. I have to confess that tears were shed among the smiles. Don’t tempus blooming fugit?

News

The big news is that “Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour” is now available for pre-order,  with a release date of August 14th. At present, it’s only going to be out as an e-book as it’s novella length, but here’s a question: would any of you lovely lot be interested in a print version? Please let me know, as I’m gauging interest.

I keep being asked when the first eight Cambridge Fellows books will be available again, but at present I don’t have a definite date. Books 9 through 12 are still out, from Riptide, (you can buy all four at a discount) and book one is in audio version. And don’t forget there is a pile of free Jonty & Orlando stories (among others) at my website.

If you’re in the Sussex area, and you fancy coming and annoying me, I’ll be at the Meet the Authors event on the afternoon of August 9th, at the Selsey Centre. The Deadly Dames will also be appearing at a U3A event in Selsey later in the year. No comments about how that’s the right age range for us! We’re also putting our Damely feelers out for appearances in 2018. More news when we have it.

And finally, en route to the graduation, we stopped in Sidmouth. Stunning flowers!

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Many apologies for the radio silence. We spent three weeks on Jersey which, as usual, exceeded all superlatives. Now the nose is back to the grindstone and I’m madly playing catch-up all round.

News

Have had some lovely feedback from readers about Broke Deep, including someone who thanked me for all the new British slang words she’d learned. Writing can be so educational...

I often get asked when there’ll be a new Jonty and Orlando story so I’m delighted to announce that there’ll be a new Cambridge Fellows short, “Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour” coming later this summer. It’s just at the final edit and cover art stage.

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?”

“Technically, we’re not being asked to defend him, simply establish the truth of what went on. Can you not square that with your conscience?” Jonty tried his most winning smile, but to little avail.

Perhaps Orlando had a point. Every decent St. Bride’s man loathed Owens, the master of the infamous “college next door”; a college so despised that it didn’t merit a proper soubriquet among its neighbour’s environs. He’d caused trouble aplenty over the years, perhaps his worst offence attempting to molest the wife of the present college master, in the Fellows’ Garden, when she’d been younger and fancy free. She’d landed him a swift kick right between the two small forsythias, which was no more than the man deserved.

And now that he’d been accused of murder most foul, any decent St. Bride’s man might have been glorying in the prospect of the nuisance being removed.

Except that Owens swore he was innocent and Ariadne Sheridan—she of the forsythia incident, of all people—believed him. That had been enough for Jonty to promise to take a serious look at the matter, although he’d promised nothing in the way of success. The police believed Owens guilty, the road to trial and conviction looked a pretty straightforward one, and the close contacts the fellows of St. Bride’s had once possessed in the local force, who might have brought influence to bear, had long retired.

“We would all do anything to serve Mrs. Sheridan,” Dr. Panesar said, with a twinkling eye, “or any of the ladies who grace our college.” He’d long held a passion for the long widowed college nurse, a fact which was now a matter of St. Bride’s folklore, although whether her amply bosomed frame graced his bed—as many averred, but without proof—was a matter of debate. Jonty had long believed the pair were secretly married, having to keep it quiet not because it breached college etiquette, but owing to the potential scandal surrounding a union between Sikh and Christian. “The days of chivalry are not dead.”

And finally, here’s one of the things I love best about Jersey. Lizards!

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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
charlie_cochrane: (Default)
 

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

 

 

charlie_cochrane: (jury of one)
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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