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Charlie’s latest newsletter

Apologies again for yet another the gap in normal newsletter production. Those of you who are retired will know how busy a time old crumblies like us have. I can only plead a big rugby weekend in Newcastle and another seeing Sheku Kaneh-Mason playing his cello. I must try harder to report for duty when I’m supposed to.
This week’s special offers on Charlie books include the audio version of Promises Made Under Fire and  the paperback version of Undeath and the Detective.
Looking at the year ahead, I’m planning a reissue on 22nd July of four of my stories – Tumble Turn, Horns and Heroes, Sand and What you Will – under the title “Seasons of Love”. More news of that when it’s up for pre-order. And the next Cambridge Fellows novella is at edits stage and should be out around the end of August/start of September.
The excerpt this week comes from Secrets, my story in the Undeath and the Detective anthology
Aboard the frigate Hecuba, two bells in the last dog watch.
Only a fool would barge into Stephen Hopkins’s great cabin unannounced, especially when he was in conference with his first Lieutenant. So when Midshipman Rogerson burst through the door, he got the reception he deserved. “Are we beating to quarters?” Captain Hopkins demanded, dark eyes glowering below a mass of dark hair, which seemed reluctant to stay tied back.
“No, sir.” Rogerson was a sensible lad of fifteen, two years now at sea and utterly absorbed with serving King and country, so why he’d taken such leave of his senses as to come in unannounced was an utter mystery.
“Then, Mr. Rogerson, you are forgetting yourself. What is the meaning of this?” The lantern shadows on the captain’s face gave it an unnaturally solemn appearance. Barely more than ten years older than the midshipman, but with all those years’ experience in his pocket, Hopkins seated at his own table in his own well-furnished cabin was a formidable man
“It’s a monster, sir. Two points off the larboard beam and very close. Mr Douglas said you were to be notified immediately, sir.” Rogerson was usually a bundle of nerves when in the presence of his superior officers but on this occasion he was strangely animated.
First Lieutenant Simon Paget smiled. Despite being the same age as the captain, he gave the illusion of being younger, less careworn, if no less a sailor. “I’ve always heard about other people seeing sea serpents but I never believed it could be true. You’re not attempting to fool us, are you?”
The young man looked horrified. “Of course not, sir. It’s there all right, come and see.”
Lieutenant Paget caught Hopkins’s eye and managed by another smile to defuse the anger brewing there. He picked up his hat and placed it over his tawny, short cut locks. “There’s not a moment to lose, captain.”
The scene on deck was like a tableau. From Douglas, the ship’s master, down to the meanest foremast jack, men were frozen in their places, eyes fixed on the object in the water. The sun had set early, being only weeks from the shortest day, but the steady stream of moonlight made observation easy—this was no optical illusion. This was indeed a monster: huge, menacing and slowly approaching the frigate.
A long neck rose from the water like a sinuous mast, with a head that seemed too small to grace the body carrying it. That body could be seen just breaking the water—a massive bulk, as big as a finner—shining sleekly. There was the impression of a long, strong tail following behind, making Douglas mumble about Behemoth and whether this beast also ate grass like the ox, or if its preferred food was jack tars.
“Ye Gods,” Hopkins muttered, and gripped the rail.
Even Paget was speechless; his boyish enthusiasm had disappeared at the terror which permeated the crew. The beast made several more passes of the ship—very close this time, its foul breath flooding the air—and then was gone, diving like a dolphin into the waves and creating a swell which rocked Hecuba like a toy.
And finally – a suitably framed photo from the weekend. Not just rugby – see those ruins? That’s near where my dad was stationed during the war on the anti-aircraft batteries. 


Money Money Money

Excellent post by Clare London on all things financial UK Meet wise.

UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet

So what’s the behind-the-scenes magic about the UK Meet money?

Like all of you, we’re interested in value for money. We know everyone has a million demands tugging at every pound/dollar we earn (or it feels like it!). The aim of the UK Meet Team is for us to have a great time, with everything available to all, without breaking the bank.

We’ve never sought to make a profit, though it’s not always easy to juggle things so the receipts and payments match up exactly. But, overall, at the end of the day? We’ve had a few years’ practice, and they usually do.

The only leeway we allow ourselves is to leave enough in the bank to pay the early deposit on the following event’s venue, as this is billed to us before we even start selling tickets.

Our general strategy goes like this!

  • The attendee fees pay for all…

View original post 366 more words

Picspam of our weekend

Just back from sunny Newcastle – which wasn’t sunny when we arrived on Thursday. In fact it felt more like the Arctic. But interesting sites more than made up for the weather.

IMG_1703 IMG_1708

Also, why is this ship following me? I can understand me seeing it when it’s lurking in Southampton but it kept popping up in the Canaries/Spain. I assumed I’d be safe in South Shields, but no…

More picspam to follow

Some recent film type thoughts

We watched Mary Poppins last night (of which more anon) so am feeling inspired to discuss some of the last few months cinematic offerings.

First Man: Interesting story, amazing in-rocket scenes. I know some folk found these loud and jerkily filmed but for me they effectively conveyed what it must be like ‘sitting in a tin can’.

Bohemian Rhapsody: Stunning. Rami Malek gives such an extraordinarily nuanced performance. Freddie Mercury could have ended up as a bit of a comic grotesque but he was in safe hands in this film.

Green Book: Once I got over the state Aragorn had got into, I found this an immensely satisfying film. Not the type I usually go for, but I had to see what had won the Oscar ahead of BoRap. I can see why this edged it.

Mary Poppins: such a lovely homage to both the original and the other Disney films of the 60s. Thank you, Lin Manuel Miranda for producing a half-way decent London accent. We still can’t forgive Hollywood for Dick Van Dyke’s Bert, but you’ve gone some way to redeeming the situation.

Chances to win books


Am at Annabelle Jacobs’ group today 1230 British summer time as part of her release day party and will have a book from my backlist (winner’s choice) for one lucky commenter. Will draw the winner Sunday.

Also I have the Autism Awareness blog hop competition running for a few more days. Comment at the original post (or anywhere else it gets reposted) to be in for a chance of winning a copy of Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code.

Have my slash glasses got too misty?

I’ve been reading The Murder of my Aunt by Richard Hull and enjoying it very much. However, the intro says it got a mention in the book Lost Gay Novels. Now, with the exception of one particular line (quoted below) and a main character who exhibits some features stereotypically gay (possession of a Pekinese dog, liking for bold colours and well matched clothes) this would never have struck me as a gay novel. Anyone else read it and am I missing something?

The line concerns soldiers, where Edward says he’s never met a really desirable one.

More thoughts on Father Mallory

For those of you who have missed this saga on Facebook, I was trying to find a song I’d not heard for 30 years and a dear pal found it for me.

As I’ve relistened to this (and it’s every bit as lovely as I remember it) I’ve realised how its worked in my subconscious and manifested itself in my writing. William Church in Wild Bells owes much of his knowingness (eg. of the effect he has on the females of the parish) to young Father Mallory, whose exhortation to the young girls that he’ll see them at confession clearly shows that he knows what they’ve been thinking.  I wonder if Mallory also shares other traits with William Church, ie a liking for his own sex which would make both of them oblivious to the charms of the young women who pine for them. I wouldn’t be at all surprised.