Goodnight, 2017

I’ve been doing a yearly roundup of what I’ve been working on for a long time now, and it’s time to reflect once again.

The new year has really snuck up on me this year and I can’t quite believe where the past few months have gone. My beautiful sister got married at the end of November, then it was Christmas, and oh my God 2018 is only a few breaths away.

It’s been almost a year since I released The Impossible Boy, the novel that took me so long to write and made me so nervous to set upon the world. Looking back, I couldn’t be more grateful for the wonderful feedback and love the book has received, and I was delighted to learn that it’s been nominated in the LAMBDA Literary Awards, for a 2017 INDIES Book of the Year award, and in multiple Goodreads M/M Readers Choice awards. Thank you again and again and again.

With a lot still happening in my life (this year I bought my first house and changed jobs!) I haven’t published a huge amount, with two novellas rounding off my year in books. However, I have written a lot! I’ve got three novels which are almost complete, thanks to some amazing beta readers who have helped me knock them into shape. If things go according to plan, I’ll release all of them next year.

2018 is going to be another great year for travelling and conventions; I’ll be at the Coastal Magic convention in Daytona Beach, Florida in February (in six weeks! Not that I’m counting or anything…), at the Paris Book Fair (Salon Livre Paris) in March, then at the Romance Times convention in Reno, Nevada in May, and of course the UK GLBT Fiction Meet in Bristol in September. I’ll also go back to Orlando in September to hang out with my Dreamspinner family at the annual workshop. The workshop is one of my highlights every year and I really must thank Lynn West, for what I’m sure is her influence seeing it hosted at Disney World!!

I’m so incredibly lucky to have the support of friends and fans and people who let me live my dreams by writing things that they want to read. Thank you to you all, and I wish you all the very best things for 2018.




Rainbow Advent Calendar – Day 11

Welcome to Day 11 of the Rainbow Advent Calendar!

I am so delighted to be part of this wonderful event, and thank you again to Alex Jane for organising it. I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been loving reading the stories so far. Please go check them out via the Facebook group here and show the authors some love:

On to my warm little fluffy Christmas story…. It’s a tad NSFW, so please read and share responsibly! 😉



Are You Listening?

by  Anna Martin

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?
In the lane snow is glistening
A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight
Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland, Dean Martin



Grant ran his hand down the back of his daughter’s dress, pushing the plush velvet until it sat smooth, then did the same with the dark curls that had fallen out of her careful braid.

Against his neck, Diana snuffled with contentment.

“You’ll have to wake her up soon,” Mason said in a low voice.


“Or she won’t sleep tonight, and Helen will kill us.”

Grant pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Just a few more minutes.”

He was wrapped so tightly around Diana’s little finger it was becoming something of a family joke. At only nineteen months old she was already testing the boundaries of what she could get away with… and with Grant, the answer was pretty much anything.

This was the first Christmas she was alert enough to enjoy, after all. Last year she was just a baby, so Grant wanted to make the most of it. From six that morning Diana had been tearing around the house, high on Christmas energy or the scent of candy canes or something, excited to a level their older child had never achieved.


Stan stuck his head out from around Mason.


“We’re staying with Aunt Helen tonight, right?”

“Yeah, hon, that’s the plan.”

“In the bunk beds?”

Mason turned his face to Grant’s shoulder to hide his grin from Stan.

“You can stay in one of the bunk beds if you like, kiddo. I’m sure Austin and Jamie would love that.”


Grant had an agreement with his sister and brother: between the three of them they had seven kids, so for the evening of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year they took it in turns to entertain all of them overnight. Each year they traded off on which night they were in charge of the whole rowdy crew. Grant and Mason had already taken their turn at Thanksgiving.

It was coming up to 5:00pm, so they’d be leaving soon enough. All of the kids stayed over with their aunts and uncles often enough that they didn’t cause a fuss when their parents left them overnight. It was a good system.

While Mason’s face was so close, Grant leaned in and gave him a kiss too. The holiday season had been particularly crazy this year, with so many kids around and Mason’s parents being in town for Thanksgiving and balancing over-excited kids on top of everyday life. It was these little moments of peace that Grant cherished: all the kids sprawled out on the floor or squeezed in next to their parents on the sofas, watching Miracle on 34th Street. The one with Richard Attenborough. It was Grant’s absolute favorite Christmas movie.

Across the room Colin gave an exaggerated yawn and checked his watch. Grant watched his brother’s failed attempt at subtlety with amusement.

“Behave,” Amanda, his wife, hissed, and elbowed him in the ribs.

“Getting late,” Colin said.

Mason snorted with laughter. “The movie’s nearly over.”

Grant could feel Diana waking up from her nap. She wasn’t grouchy though, thankfully.


“Right here, baby,” he murmured. Instead of responding, Diana gave him one of her blinding, beaming smiles. Grant’s heart melted… again.

When she started wriggling Grant set her down on the floor, confident that if she wanted anything she’d find someone to get it for her. It wasn’t that she was a brat, people just seemed to fall over themselves to make Diana happy, like she really was the goddess she’d been named after.

She ended up in a corner playing kitchen with her cousins. Her speech was a little delayed, especially compared to Stan who’d been talking since before his first birthday. The two words she was most comfortable with got used a lot: ‘daddy’ and ‘no’.

Now they had the couch to themselves, Mason shuffled closer and wriggled against Grant’s side until he wrapped his arm around Mason’s shoulders.

“Comfy?” he asked, teasing, and Mason tucked his chin on Grant’s chest and nodded.


Mason kept his hair buzzed short and when Grant smoothed his hand over it he was immediately reminded of the texture of Diana’s dress. Not that he’d ever tell Mason that his hair felt like velvet… that was too gay, even for Grant. Who had been gay for a very long time.


“Dad… what’s that?”

Stan stood in the archway that led from the hall to the family room, staring straight up and pointing at a sprig of mistletoe, likely hung there by Helen’s husband. It was exactly the sort of thing he’d do.

“Mistletoe,” Grant said, smirking at Mason as he struggled into his heavy winter boots.

“What’s it for?”

“It’s tradition. Like Christmas trees and wreaths and holly and ivy. You’re supposed to kiss under it.”

Stan pulled a face. He was five, so kissing was gross. “Why?”

“I’m not sure, buddy,” Grant said, laughing. “You just do.”

“Like this,” Mason interjected and swept Grant into a long, dramatic smooch.

Stan protested—loudly—and Grant could hear Colin and Helen laughing and whooping from the family room. He considered struggling against it, but they never shied away from moments of affection in front of the kids, so Grant threw himself into the kiss too, hooking his foot around Mason’s calf.

When they broke apart Mason’s lips were red and he was laughing, his eyes crinkled at the corners. Grant kissed his cheek, just quickly, and patted him on the ass. A promise.

“Right, kiddie-o’s,” Mason said. “Come give us Christmas hugs.”

Stan ran at him full tilt and Mason made a show of falling backwards as he pulled Stan in tight. Their eldest was far more reserved and quiet than Diana. Grant still wasn’t entirely sure how they’d managed to raise one gentle, introspective, artistic child, and another who was a screaming menace from the moment she woke up to the moment she fell into an exhausted sleep.

He loved them all so much sometimes it felt like his heart was going to burst.

Diana was still playing and Grant didn’t want to make a scene with leaving, so he quickly kissed her on the head and left her to whatever she was building with Helen’s daughter, who was only four months older than Diana. It seemed like they were already on their way to becoming lifelong friends.

Mason was just done hugging Helen and thanking her again for watching the kids when Grant slipped back into the hall.

“Ready?” Mason asked.

Grant nodded. “Yeah. See you in the morning,” he added to Helen.

“Don’t worry about being early. We’ve got enough leftovers to make them lunch if you want to come back mid-afternoon.”

“Sounds good,” Mason said before Grant could worry.

The snow was really coming down outside and the roads were quiet; most people had apparently opted to barricade themselves indoors to wait out the holidays. Mason sang along, loudly, to Christmas songs on the radio as Grant drove cautiously through the dark streets.

“I’ll be an old man by the time we get home,” Mason complained as Grant rolled to a stop at a red light.


“I am not a Grinch. I am a young man in the peak of my vitality—stop laughing at me, Grant.”

Grant leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, still chuckling under his breath. “Nearly home.”


They stumbled through their front door, kicking snow from their boots. The house was thankfully warm and Mason went around turning on all the twinkly lights that Grant had spent a whole day stringing up the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Grant had bought a real Christmas tree from the farm out on the edge of the forest. It was a pot-grown tree, complete with all its roots, and come fall they could go and plant it back in the forest. He thought it was a nice way to teach the kids about tree conservation. And he really loved the smell of a real tree in the house.

“Do you want tea?” Grant called as he headed for the kitchen.

Mason stuck his head out of the family room. “Hot chocolate?” he asked hopefully.

“I can make hot chocolate,” Grant said with a laugh.

“With marshmallows and whipped cream.”

“I’ll see if there’s any left in the fridge.”


Mason’s smile was beaming.

Grant found a hair tie in the little glass dish he kept on the windowsill in the kitchen and scraped his dark hair back into a stubby ponytail. He’d been meaning to get it cut for a while now, but he liked pulling it back while he worked.

When Grant had announced they were expecting Stan, his boss was less than impressed. He was even more disgusted when Grant said he wanted to work fewer hours in order to spend more time with his son, so Grant wasn’t totally surprised when he was let go a few months later. Mason had been horrified and desperate to sue the company, but Grant took it on the chin and applied for a part time job working for another architectural firm. This one was owned by a woman who happened to be a working mom, and she helped him set up a home office where he worked three days a week.

It had turned out perfect. Grant was around for the kids when they needed him, but got to keep making strides in a career he loved. Stephanie, who owned the business that Grant now called home, had been nothing but supportive since the beginning.

“Smells good,” Mason said as he wandered into the kitchen. He was wearing pajama pants with a Spiderman print and a Wonder Woman T-shirt with an image of Gal Gadot on the front.

Grant leaned in and kissed his cheek. “Mixing genres again?”

“Representing my babies.”

Grant laughed. “Nerd.”

“Hey, you’re the one who’s been to… how many comic conventions with me?”

“Twelve,” Grant said drily.

“And cosplayed at how many?”

“Too many.”

Mason laughed brightly. “You love it, Master Obi-Wan.”

“I love you.”

“Yeah, that too.”

Grant finished heating the milk and chocolate and carefully transferred it from the pan into two large mugs. He topped Mason’s mug with cream, marshmallows, and sprinkles he’d found in the cupboard that were left over from the previous summer. He went for just the marshmallows in his own.

The family room was still a mess of toys from that morning but Grant just stepped around them and curled into his corner of the couch. Mason made himself comfortable in the opposite corner and deposited his feet onto Grant’s lap.

“Pet me,” Mason demanded.

Grant complied.

They watched two episodes of NCIS back to back even though they’d seen them before, because it was Grant’s favorite show. As the credits rolled Mason’s feet began to wander and he nudged at Grant’s crotch.

“Are we going to make the most of this child-free house, or what?”

Grant laughed. “Subtlety has never been your strong point, has it?”

“Nope,” Mason said happily. He twisted on the couch until he could straddle Grant’s lap, then wound his arms around Grant’s neck. “Kiss me.”


Their bedroom faced out over the back yard, which meant Mason mostly kept the curtains open. Actually, the reason why they’d taken the bedroom at the back of the house was because Mason kept the curtains open, and the windows too in the summer. No one in their neighborhood needed to see Mason wandering around the house naked. The room at the back was a good compromise.

Tonight, it meant the constant falling snowflakes were reflected in the glass while they made out on the bed. At some point Mason had removed his own shirt, and now he was working on getting Grant’s off too.

“Come on,” he huffed. “Off.”

Grant chuckled as Mason got his own way and tossed the shirt somewhere in the corner of the room. Probably for Grant to clean up later.

They kissed forever, hands wandering, and Grant wondered for a moment if tonight it would end like this, orgasming into each other’s hands. Since the children had arrived that had become their normal. Not that Grant minded. He liked the sex they had, and always felt like the fact that they were having it at all was what mattered.

Then Mason caught Grant’s earlobe between his teeth and gently tugged, and Grant felt his toes curl in response.

“I want you to fuck me.”

It was easy to agree. “Okay.”

Mason curled up facing the snowy window and pressed his face into his arm as Grant scooted up behind him.

“Go slow,” Mason said. His voice already sounded shattered.

“I will.”

Grant took his time with slick fingers, gently stroking his fingertips over Mason’s cock while he curled his fingers into Mason’s hole. He kissed any patch of skin he could find and pressed his fingertips against Mason’s prostate to make him squirm.

“Now, Grant. Please.”

It still took another moment for Grant to slick his own cock with more lube while Mason huffed impatiently. Then he was guiding himself inside, one hand on Mason’s stomach, the other braced on the bed. He kissed Mason’s neck and breathed in all of Mason’s desperate gasps and whimpers.

“You used to be loud, you know,” Grant murmured. Then he snapped his hips forward, driving his cock against Mason’s sweet spot.

“Oh, fuck!”

Grant couldn’t help but laugh, pressing his face against Mason’s shoulder. A second later, Mason joined in.

“You feel so good,” Mason said, then remembering that he could be loud, groaned and tipped his head back.

“So do you.”

They made it last, taking their time with teasing touches and wet, loose kisses. Then Mason’s hand was on his own cock, gripping too tight, and Grant used a hand on Mason’s hip for leverage as he thrust hard, bringing them to a gorgeous shared orgasm.

For a moment Grant held himself still, breathing hard, loving the smell of his lover and the feel of the two of them together. Then Mason shuddered hard and Grant reluctantly pulled away.


They didn’t immediately go to sleep. Mason went to the bathroom first and cleaned up, then they swapped, and Grant was almost surprised to find Mason still awake when he slipped back between the sheets feeling warm and loose and sated.

He curled into Mason’s embrace, pillowing his head on Mason’s shoulder, and felt like he could purr when Mason started scratching the shorter hair at the nape of Grant’s neck.

“Ten years next week,” Grant said, suddenly remembering their anniversary.

Mason hummed. “Yeah. Fuck. Where did the time go?”

They’d met on New Year’s Eve, at a gay bar that was having a neon party night. Grant had watched Mason dance for hours. He’d been in the middle of the dance floor, glowing with UV paint, dancing up a storm with anyone who’d dared get close enough.

Grant’s friends had all paired off and had retired to various corners of the club to make out and grind on each other, so he’d been left on the balcony overlooking the dance floor, watching the one guy who was capturing everyone’s attention.

As it approached midnight, Grant found himself at the bar trying to get another beer from bartenders who seemed to find him invisible. Like his ego hadn’t taken a big enough hit… when Mason had gently bumped his shoulder against Grant’s. He’d always claimed he wasn’t trying to get Grant’s attention, but time and repetition had warped the story so much Grant wasn’t even really sure what the truth was any more.

He did remember the kiss they’d shared at midnight, how Mason had literally glowed, then laughed as Grant leaned in for more. It was a good laugh, though. Mason laughed a lot.

“Ten years, two kids, one mortgage—” Grant started.

“We should get a dog,” Mason interjected.


“We should have another baby.”

“No,” Grant said, laughing now. “You don’t mean that.”

Mason sighed dramatically. “I could. What if I did mean it?” He shifted to face Grant properly.

Grant shook his head. “We can’t afford it right now. But if you’re serious, I’ll look at our savings in the new year.”

“That’s not an answer,” Mason said and poked Grant in the ribs. “Do you want another baby?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it. I always expected to have two, and we have two. I’m not sure how a third child would fit into the family.”

Mason hummed. “You’re a great dad.”

“Thanks. So are you. Does it really take one round of amazing sex and a night away from the kids to make you forget that Diana still doesn’t sleep through the night? Or that Stan cried so much when he was a baby that you took him to the emergency room a dozen times in his first six months?”

“Party pooper,” Mason said. But he was smiling. “We should get married.”

That stopped Grant in his tracks. He blinked. “What?”

“Maybe it’s time for something new.”

Grant shook his head. “What’s changed?”

“Ten years,” Mason said softly, reaching up to cup Grant’s cheek in his hand. “Two kids. One mortgage.” His thumb brushed over the stubble that peppered Grant’s skin.

“You never wanted that.” Grant felt like his heart was beating too fast. “You said—”

“Lots of things,” Mason agreed. He gently touched Grant’s bottom lip. “Are you listening? We’re already married, Grant. We live our lives like a married couple, we’re raising a family together. Let’s make it official.”

“What changed?” he repeated, struck dumb by Mason’s new attitude.

“Well, I’m a guy in my early thirties—”

“Babe, you’re thirty five.”

“In my early thirties,” Mason repeated, louder this time, “Who has realized that I have been unintentionally hurting the man I love more than anything else in the world by turning down his numerous marriage proposals over the past ten years. You make me happier than I ever knew was possible, and I’m so sorry for ever saying no.

“So now I’m saying yes. If you’ll still have me.”

Grant wasn’t sure if he had any words for that. Most of the time that was okay; Mason had enough words for maybe two or three people. Grant spoke in actions.

He leaned over and gave Mason a small kiss, right on his lips, then rolled over to shuffle through his nightstand. It was three drawers of mess, the one place in his life where Grant allowed himself to stash stuff that might be useful… at some point. Possibly.

Tucked away at the back of the bottom drawer was a small box, containing two rings that Grant had bought about seven years ago. Before Diana, before Stan, before the house. Before Mason had graduated his Masters. When the world looked like a different place, Grant had bought wedding rings.

He rolled back and passed the box to Mason, who looked both terrified and excited. He took the box hesitantly and turned it over in his hands. Grant nodded, silent permission.

When Mason opened the box his face lit up and he laughed, probably remembering the first time he’d seen the elegant silver bands.

“You kept them,” Mason breathed.

Grant nodded. Then he smiled. “Happy Christmas.”

The End


A final note from me: I know many of my fellow Advent Calendar authors are making suggestions for charities readers might donate to this Christmas. I’m not going to suggest a specific charity; instead I’d like to ask that if you’re able, to find a small charity in your city. I used to work for a small children’s hospice charity and I know what an impact even the smallest donations can make, especially for charities who don’t have a huge marketing budget to solicit donations. I will always be an advocate for small local charities, so please support one if you can this Christmas. 


Rainbow Sprinkles Blog Tour Finale!

Hello! And welcome to the grand finale of the blog tour for my Dreamspinner Press ‘States of Love’ novella Rainbow Sprinkles.

Rainbow Sprinkles tells the story of Cooper, a down-to-earth guy who makes ice cream at the Dreamy Creamery, and Drew, who’s a Prince at Disneyland. I’d actually had the idea for the characters for a while when I saw the open call for States of Love novellas, which gave me the perfect excuse to write a ridiculously fluffy little story about two guys falling in love in California.

And Disneyland.

I’m a big, big Dis-nerd. Unapologetically so, with a huge amount of love and an abundance of opinions. Since Rainbow Sprinkles is only a novella I don’t want to give too much of the story away, so I’ve got a little excerpt for you and through my blog tour I’ve been covering some of my favourite parts of Disneyland!

Today is a bonus post… you’ll see why! Please do leave a comment and let me know your favourite places and attractions at Disneyland!

Thanks for stopping by.

Anna xx


Rainbow Sprinkles, available March 29th 2017 from Dreamspinner Press

Rainbow Sprinkles - Anna Martin.jpg

Buy here:



California was sweltering through an early heat wave, the temperatures hitting the low 90s—and it was only April. Cooper’s hottie was sweating at the temples, just a little, just enough to dampen his dark blond hair.

“Can I get a….”

He looked over the menu like he didn’t stop by here at least once a week. Cooper would have expected anyone who got two sundaes a week to be a little chubby around the edges, but not his hottie. He was tall and broad shouldered, with a narrow waist and long legs. Most of the time he came by in workout gear. Whoever thought to put an ice cream parlor on the same patch as a gym was either an idiot or a genius. Probably a genius, since the Dreamy Creamery was signposted on billboards for miles, and they were on the main route into Disneyland. The place saw a lot of tourist traffic.

“Birthday Cake and Green Tea.”

Cooper winced. “You sure?”

“I’m adventurous.”

“You’re sure something,” Cooper laughed, turning back to the freezers and his scoop. “In a cup, right?”

“Yeah. And with—”

“Rainbow sprinkles,” Cooper finished for him.

Always the same. Always gross combinations of ice cream, topped with rainbow sprinkles, and if that wasn’t code, Cooper was going to die.



Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

The whole time I was writing posts for the Rainbow Sprinkles blog tour I was feeling a little sad, because my absolute, all time favourite ride at Disney is The Little Mermaid. However, in California, it’s located at the California Adventure park rather than in the main Disneyland park (at the Magic Kingdom in Florida it’s in Fantasyland) which technically excludes it from my list of favourite things at Disneyland.

So I decided to hell with it, I’m going to talk about it on my own blog!

Ariel is my favourite Disney princess, and definitely towards the top of my list of all time favourite Disney movies. (I actually prefer a lot of the classics to the modern modern movies – Lady and the Tramp, Dumbo, the Aristocats, Peter Pan, Fox & the Hound, Robin Hood….)

The Little Mermaid is a classic “dark ride”, taking you through scenes on a similar ride system to the Haunted Mansion. There’s a truly magical moment when you go backwards and down, heading under the sea, and bubbles rise up in front of you. Little touches like that always make me smile.

The animatronics in this ride are incredible. The Ursula figure is the biggest animatronic Disney Imagineers have ever made (at 12 feet wide, almost 8 feet tall) and she’s just amazing, as is Sebastian crooning in the ‘Kiss the Girl’ scene.

Out of all the more recent additions to Disneyland, I feel like the Little Mermaid ride is most in keeping with the spirit of classic Disney rides. It’s undoubtedly modern, with the scale and complexity of the animatronics and the UV glow of the fishes, but with a simple heart and awesome storytelling. One of the absolute best things about this ride is how short the wait times usually are! I’ve been known to head back to ride it again and again… why wouldn’t you, when there’s only a ten minute wait?!

So, there we go, folks. I don’t think I need to tell you just how much fun I had writing these posts. Give me even half a chance to talk about my love of all things Disney and I’m right there! I hope you’ll check out Rainbow Sprinkles – writing that story was even more fun than talking about it here, and if you like my ramblings about my love for Disneyland then definitely be sure to check it out because there’s plenty more of it in the book!


My Impossible Story

I honestly can’t quite believe that The Impossible Boy is released today. I started working on this novel in early Spring 2013, somewhere in between writing Jurassic Heart and Summer Son. I was spending a lot of time up in London at that point with a friend there, who took me to all the little awesome dive rock bars in Camden. That’s when the story really started to take shape in my mind.

The story got abandoned over and over again while I worked on other projects, and that’s probably why I’m so nervous for it to finally be out there in the world. I lost faith in the novel multiple times. I convinced myself no one would want to read a story about a transgender/gender fluid guy. I wasn’t prepared to give up the British setting and spelling and gratuitous use of the word “cunt”. I convinced myself that no one wanted to read that, either.

It was late last year, when I was still battling with my own mental health demons, that I finally felt like I could take on some of Stan’s demons and finish the novel in the way I wanted it to be finished, staying true to the characters and the story. It just so happened that my finishing the novel coincided with Dreamspinner’s launch of the ‘Perchance to Dream’ line, which is their house line for stories set in the British Commonwealth.

I always thought that Dreamspinner wouldn’t be interested in my impossible story, mostly for it’s in-your-face Britishness. However, I adore them as my publisher and especially considering how delicately I wanted this story to be handled, I wasn’t confident sending it to another publisher. The new house line gave me the opportunity to keep the story how I wanted it, with a publisher I trust. I honestly can’t thank them enough.

There are so many things I could say about this novel but for once i’m going to try and leave everything on the page. (It’s for that reason I haven’t scheduled a blog tour or any interviews. Not because I don’t want to talk about the novel – I really do! – but I don’t know what more I can add to what’s written in the book itself and if I tried I’d probably fuck it up.) 

Just a few thank yous – to Garrett, who gave me the most incredible cover, then read the book and became a cheerleader for it. Most authors only dream of getting work with artists like you. And to Tia, who listened to me whine about this story for almost four years, never got bored of it, and kept nudging me to just write the damn thing. To a wonderful trans* editor who gave me so much invaluable feedback. And to all of the readers who will give this story a chance. 

One of my dreams is coming true today. 



At the end of the year I usually do a little roundup and post it somewhere on the internet (usually never to be found or read again, because that’s how I roll.) And while we could all learn a lesson or two from Edna Mode, I find it quite cathartic to reflect once a year.


So, for me, 2016 started with an episode of depression so crushing I took almost four months off work, and ended up changing my job half way through the year. God damn, that was hard, and the reason for my low writing output over the past twelve months.

I only released one novel on the world in 2015, but the title is long enough for at least three, so that must count for something, right?! Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me, and One Time I Kissed Him First was so much fun to write, mostly because the format felt so familiar to me. I’ve read a lot of ‘five times’ fanfic stories over the years. (A lot).

The Impossible Boy is a novel I’ve been writing for almost four years on and off, and I finally finished it at the beginning of July. Editing it was bloody hard work, mostly because my writing style has evolved so much from when I started it. (Seriously, you guys, there were so many elipses in that manuscript I thought I was drowning in them.) Now it’s due to be released within the next few weeks and I’m so nervous and excited to see what the response will be. It’s still a very me novel, though with much harder themes than I usually contend with. I’ve also been incredibly blessed with beautiful cover art design by my wonderful friend Garrett Leigh. Let’s all just bask in her talent for a moment….


In March I’ll have a short story coming out called Rainbow Sprinkles, which is part of the Dreamspinner Press ‘States of Love’ collection. The idea for the story had been circulating in my mind for a long time when the call went out saying that DSP were looking for a novella set in each of the United States. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to snap up California, and write the story about a guy who works in an ice cream parlour and a guy who works as a prince at Disneyland. It’s unashamedly, tooth-rottingly sweet.

The best part of that writing process was getting to visit Disneyland in April, ostensibly for ‘research’ purposes 😉

In September I managed to write exactly 30,000 words of a story, then stalled, so that’s sitting around waiting for a wave of inspiration so I can go finish it. It’s a novel, so it’ll definitely need some more work before it’s ready. I also battled, and eventually won, National Novel Writing Month (woohoo!) but I’ve been left with 50,000 words of ‘oh my god, what am I going to do with this‘ which is taking time to unravel. I’m hoping one or the other of those books gets finished asap, bumping my output for 2017 up to three!

With everything that’s happened this year, when I sit down to write I always find myself reminded of why I do this. Yes, there seems to be a never ending stream of people out there trying to scam writers in new and imaginative ways, which has only been highlighted with the ARe fiasco in the past few days. But I write for the same reason I read – because from the very bottom of my heart, I love love stories. I love being able to tell my stories in an era that encourages me to do it my way, and I love that I have a publisher in Dreamspinner Press that takes such good care of my work. I write because it puts joy in my heart, however cheesy that might sound, and anything else is a fringe benefit.

My writing goal for 2017 is to be true to myself. I always want to put novels out there that I believe in, that I’ll stand by and be proud of. When I keep that thought in mind I undoubtedly produce better novels.

Thanks for stopping by. And happy new year!


In Defence of Traditional Publishing

With the year 2016 has turned out to be, there has been more talk than ever in our genre about the role of self-publishing. I always find these debates fascinating and, of course, there’s never one right answer. I’m here to put forward the other side of the story; to bang the drum in support of traditional publishing houses. Because there will always be a role for a publisher in my career. 

I’m here essentially as a hobby writer. I work a 40hour week doing Marketing for a wonderful little local charity. I probably spend another 15-25 hours a week working on my writing career (this might be why I’m so painfully single, shhh!!) I’ve been published since September 2011 and have put out 15 novels in that time, including 4 co-authored books and a handful of novellas/short stories. That’s a rate of 3-5 novels a year, while working full time. 

That full time job allows me to write what I want, at a speed that suits me. There’s a reason why I still write fan fiction – which earns me nothing – and why I don’t write M/F romance – which would earn me more. My royalties allow me to attend conventions around the world and go on nice holidays, treat myself to something fun every now and then. I’m fortunate enough to not have to rely on my royalties to pay a mortgage or pay my bills. I write because I can’t not write, not because I have to, and the difference is everything. 

I’ll confess – once I’ve finished writing a story, my role in the whole process becomes light-touch. I’m happy to sit back and let my publisher take care of the editing, formatting, promotion, marketing. For me to do that myself would cut so deep into my writing time that I’d be down to 1-3 books a year, and by that point I would have lost any financial benefit of self-publishing. Yes, a traditional publisher is going to take a cut of my royalties, but let’s face it, they earn that cut! They pay for top-notch editing, cover art, marketing (with contacts that put my book under noses that might never otherwise see it). Frankly, that’s work I don’t want to do myself.

At the UK Meet this year I attended a panel on self-publishing, led by KA Merikan, Jay Northcote, and RJ Scott – four amazing women I call friends as well as colleagues and peers. And I think RJ kind of hit the nail on the head when she said that self-publishing becomes akin to running a business. You don’t get to just do the writing part, you become a small business owner with all the things that go along with that responsibility. 

I want to make it clear that I have no beef with my self-pub peers. My concern is for people like me, who rely on a publisher to get our work out there, and whose options when it comes to reliable, trustworthy publishing houses is diminishing. I have a huge amount of faith in Dreamspinner Press and the work they do. The exposure I’ve been offered to the foreign translations market (shout out to my Italian and French readers, who are freaking awesome) and audiobooks market would have been so so difficult to achieve if I was doing this on my own. 

One last thing: as we all know, at any publisher you’ve got three tiers of authors: the bestsellers, the mid-list, and the newbies. A publisher will take a cut of my earnings to cover the costs of producing each novel, but also to offset the expected losses from those new authors. If we all pull away from publishing houses and and self publish, who’s going to be there to give those new authors a chance? Because if it’s hard to get a publishing contract, it’s much harder to gain traction as a new name in the self-pub world. Sticking with a publisher is one way of paying it forward. I’m a reader too, maybe a reader first, and I want to see new talent being nurtured by good publishers and given a chance to grow. 

Honestly? I think we’re so lucky to be living in a time when we have all these options as authors. 20-30 years ago they just didn’t exist; hell, ebooks didn’t exist 10 years ago. It’s obviously up to each author as to what they want for their career, and at one point I may dip my toe in the self-publishing pool. For now, I’m going to stand here on my self-built pedestal to say, thank god for my publisher.


Throwback Thursday – Signs

I’m going to do a thing.

Go watch this video. It’s only a couple of minutes of your time—please, for me?!

So that’s a clip from the deaf production of the musical Spring Awakening.

Yeah, I’m serious. A deaf musical. And it’s one of the most stunning pieces of theatre I’ve never seen live! (For reasons I’ve never understood, Spring Awakening bombed when it debuted in the West End in London, after many successful years on Broadway. British theatre audiences just didn’t connect to it, though it does have something of a cult following these days, mostly in amateur theatre groups.)

If Signs does for anyone what that clip does for me, I might, maybe, have done what I set out to achieve with that novel. I always had a very clear idea of what Signs would be. Caleb was always deaf, always socially awkward and mildly agoraphobic. He always had communication issues, was possibly on the autism spectrum, and was always blond. I knew a lot about Caleb before I started to write about him. With the exception of Will and Jesse from the Another Way series, Caleb has always felt like one of my most ‘real’ characters. I found these images early on in the writing process and they helped me build Caleb’s sort of sweet, shy innocence. The striped shirt definitely features in one scene, and I’m sure the second picture was inspiring too 😉

From these pictures you can really see how perfect the cover art image is. The boy is Caleb, he just is, and it’s such a beautiful cover. Possibly my favourite cover?!

I’ve spoken before about how I started and stopped writing Signs many times. It was one of those ‘work in progress’ stories that I went back to from time to time, wrote a bit more, then abandoned again while I worked on something else. At one point I had both Signs and The Impossible Boy abandoned—Impossible Boy is coming out January next year, so I’ve finally cleared both of them from my work in progress list!

I spoke to some lovely readers at the UK Meet and confessed that I actually cut the epilogue when my editor suggested that it weakened the ending of the book. They were totally right, but a few people have asked for it now, so here you go. The never-before-seen Signs epilogue.


Epilogue. One Year Later

Caleb was in the kitchen, making a start on dinner when Luc arrived home. He looked up from the chopping board when the door slammed and waited for Luc to skip through the apartment.

“Hey, baby,” Luc said, wrapping his arms around Caleb from behind and insinuating his hands under the hem of Caleb’s t-shirt.

“Hi,” Caleb said and shivered at the cold hands. He tilted his head to the side, offering his neck to Luc’s kisses, smiling to himself when Luc obliged.

Caleb set down the knife and turned in Luc’s arms then reversed their positions so Luc’s back was against the hard counter top and Caleb could box Luc in. It had been a hard few weeks for Luc while he got exams out of the way and he spent long hours in the library revising. Now there was only one exam left and his success so far had put him in a good mood.

It was a relief to see the hard lines of tension melting out of Luc’s face, the dark circles under his eyes disappearing as he started to sleep better, through the night. Luc rarely had nightmares any more and, even if he did, Caleb just held him until they passed. He didn’t even mind the disturbance to his own sleep.

Luc was smiling indulgently as he reached up to wrap his arms around Caleb’s neck, drawing him down into slow, exploring, intense kisses. Caleb was just about ready to give up on dinner and drag Luc to bed – enchiladas be damned – when Luc broke the kiss, laughing, and set his head down on Caleb’s chest. Caleb inhaled deeply then sighed.

“What’s for dinner?” Luc asked.

“Chili,” Caleb said. “I’m making it from scratch. Is that okay?”

“Perfect,” Luc said and leaned up to peck Caleb on the lips again. “I’ll just go take a shower.”


Caleb still used lip reading as his main way of understanding people, and in public was still so wary of speaking aloud. But, he was working on that with his therapist, and working on the speaking part with his speech therapist. Sometimes having two therapists was exhausting, but they were there for a reason. And Luc would come with him to some appointments, which was nice.

The only person Caleb felt completely at ease speaking around was Luc. When communicating with his parents ASL was still his first language, one that he shared with them, where they all knew each other’s shorthand.

Luc didn’t care that his speech wasn’t perfect, or that he sometimes misheard words or pronounced them wrong. Although their days of Luc’s speech therapy were over, he still used the same techniques to help Caleb hone down certain words, and still rewarded him with kisses.

Since he knew Luc would probably be hungry, Caleb rushed through the final preparations for their meal and turned the heat on the stove down low to let the chili simmer, then started loading the dishwasher. His last class of the day had been earlier in the afternoon, so he’d taken the opportunity to catch up on some of his assignments and clean the apartment. Well, he’d done the laundry that was in the hamper and made dinner.

When Luc reappeared from the bedroom he was shirtless, wearing only a pair of boxers. My boxers, Caleb thought to himself, but didn’t challenge Luc on it. Anticipating what Luc wanted was easy; at some point (and Caleb couldn’t quite remember when), Luc had decided that the best thing in the whole world was bare chests lying against each other. When Luc stood at the end of the sofa and put his hands on his hips Caleb made a show of sighing, but secretly smiled as he crossed his arms over his chest and tugged his t-shirt up and off.

Moments later Luc had rearranged himself on top of Caleb on the couch, his head turned to watch the TV. The next bit was easy too; Caleb started a light, easy stroking up and down Luc’s spine, making him purr with delight.


Luc had a tattoo now. If there was no birthmark on his chest it would have curved in a semi circle from one collarbone to the other. Because of the birthmark it started about two thirds of the way along that imaginary line, and ended on his shoulder.

If the angle looked off balance then that was good, as far as Luc was concerned. It was supposed to. The words read ‘Blood, Threat & Fears’ and started right on the edge of his blood red birthmark. He thought it fairly self explanatory.

Caleb had gone with him when he got the tattoo done and had held his hand for the few hours it took to complete. Luc couldn’t imagine going through something so important and permanent without Caleb by his side. That was just the way they were with each other now.

As with so many other people, Luc thought he’d probably caught the tattoo bug and had already started planning his next seven or so designs. Caleb had been fairly emphatic in his refusal to get anything inked on his own body and Luc silently approved of this decision. He couldn’t think of anything at all that could make Caleb’s skin any more perfect than it already was. That probably made him a sap. He didn’t care at all.

It had been an easy decision to stay in New York with Caleb, and one he hadn’t regretted. That wasn’t to say it hadn’t come without repercussions. There were reasons why Luc had wanted to go to an East Coast school – there wasn’t anything there that would remind him of his father.

Memories of his dad still haunted Luc from time to time. He still woke up from nightmares, especially when he’d been somewhere or seen someone who reminded him of the sort of person his father had been. After Jo had come home for Thanksgiving and found out Luc was living with a boy, Luc had had nightmares every night for two whole weeks. Apparently, a few years in Florida weren’t enough to wash away the years of bigoted thoughts that Jo had learned at their father’s side.

Luc knew he would never be close to his brother, and that was okay. Since making the decision to stay in New York he’d grown ever closer to Ilse, who had become like a sister to Caleb, too. She invited them over for dinner at least once a week and they tried to return the favor from time to time. Ilse was a rock. A constant.

“Dinner, baby,” Caleb murmured, his chest rumbling against Luc’s as he spoke. The words were slightly slurred, but that was how Caleb always sounded. Luc didn’t even notice it any more. “You should put a shirt on.”



Luc lifted his head and propped his chin on Caleb’s chest to look up at him. “Do you love me?”

Caleb grinned. He knew this game. “Yes,” he said.

“How much?”

“More than the whole world,” Caleb said, and ran his palm down Luc’s back.

“Show me,” Luc said, his eyes full of promises.

Caleb leaned down and pressed his lips to Luc’s mouth, taking both beautifully firm ass cheeks in his hands and squeezing. Luc reached up into the kiss, his hand cupping Caleb’s face, and slipped his tongue into the mix.

They struggled to their feet, then Caleb gave Luc a wicked sort of look, and threw his boyfriend over his shoulder, fireman style.

“Hey!” Luc yelled, laughing.

Caleb took him first to the kitchen, turning off the stove and leaving their dinner there – it would be fine – then walked through the apartment to their bedroom.

They could, and would, and did have sex everywhere. It was their place, after all, and they were never interrupted. Luc wanted love, though, and there was only one place where they did that.

Caleb dumped Luc unceremoniously on the soft white sheets and stood at the end of the bed looking down at him, lust and love clashing in his eyes.

‘You’re still the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,’ Caleb signed in front of his bare chest.

‘I love you.’

“I love you too,” Caleb said. Then he set about showing Luc just how much.


I think I will always feel like I never quite did Signs justice. There’s a part of me that will always want to go back and pick at it and rewrite sections, like I did over and over before the novel was finished. Despite that, I’m proud of what I accomplished. It’s a very different novel from others I’ve written, and I’m always aiming to challenge myself as a writer.

I’m going to leave you with another clip from the Deaf West Spring Awakening – it has very little to do with Signs, but it’s a gay, signed romance, so I’m hoping you’ll forgive the indulgence!

Oh, and because I had a handful more ‘inspiration’ photos in my folder, you might as well have a look at those too.