character sketch: Rob from Inheritance of Shadows

Rob is a farm worker on Matty’s farm. He was born in 1884 and started working there when he was about thirteen. He’s now about thirty-five. He’s gentle and good with animals. He’s clever, thoughtful and quiet, a steady sort of person who likes to think things through before acting. If I had to use one verb to describe him, it would be stabilize.

He joined the army in 1914 when Britain first went to war with Germany and was promoted to Sergeant in the Signals by the time he was discharged in 1919. He’s largely self-educated, very eclectically. He’s a regular library user.

His wartime experience involved a lot of communications tech and he happens to find ciphers and codes fascinating and breaks them for fun. (This is extremely handy for my story, I have no idea how it happened, honest!).

Rob has been in love with Matty for years, but Matty was oblivious. Neither of them said anything to each other before they went off to the war, but afterwards, Rob decided that life was too short and fragile not to take a chance at happiness and made his feelings for Matty clear.

Their story begins in The Gate, which is free on the various ebook platforms and when you sign up for my newsletter; and it continues in Inheritance of Shadows.


I am trying to serialize IOS free, monthly for newsletter readers (not always successfully because of life-chaos). The following month, episodes then go to my Ko-fi for subscribers and hopefully when I finish the whole thing I’ll be publishing it as a novel.

flowers of time is out to beta

So! The Flowers of Time has gone off for beta readers to run their eyes over and I’m left working on the blurb. This is the bit I hate the most. I don’t think I’m alone in that, but so far it’s a bit of a struggle.

Jones is determined to find out what caused the unexpected death of her father whilst they were exploring ancient ruins in the Himalayas. She’s never been interested in the idea of the marriage bed, but along with a stack of books and coded journals he’s left her with the promise she’ll travel back to England for the first time since childhood and try being the lady she’s never been.

Edie and her brother are leaving soon on a journey to the Himalayas to document and collect plants for the new Kew Gardens when she befriends Miss Jones in London. She’s never left England before and is delighted to learn that the lady will be returning to the mountains she calls home at the same time they are planning their travels. When they meet again in Srinegar, Edie is surprised to find that here the Miss Jones of the London salons is ‘just Jones’ the explorer, clad in breeches and boots and unconcerned with the proprieties Edie has been brought up to respect.

A non-binary explorer and a determined botanist make the long journey over the high mountains passes to Little Tibet, collecting flowers and exploring ruins on the way. Will Jones discover the root of the mysterious deaths of her parents? Will she confide in Edie and allow her to help in the quest? It’s a trip fraught with dangers for both of them, not least those of the heart.

My issue now is what to work on next!

an interview with Elizabeth Noble

Welcome to Elizabeth Noble, who has pitched up today to chat about her re-released series, Sentries!

Hello, and thank you for having me today! Recently I decided to find a new home for my oldest series, Sentries. I was lucky enough to place it with JMS Books. The first book, Marked Yours, will be released October 12, 2019. I seriously re-evaluated the book and the series and made some changes, particularly to the first two books. The story remains the same, but they needed a good re-edit. I also added some information that ties the series together in a much better way (I hope).

Tell us a bit about how long you’ve been writing and what inspired you?

I think I started writing before I could even read.  I can remember telling stories to anyone who’d listen since a very young age.

I write pretty much anywhere. I do have an office at home that’s my comfy space. I also have what I refer to as my outdoor office—I take the laptop to the patio when it’s nice outside. When I’m away from home I’ll make notes about whatever chapter I’m working on at the time.

I belong to a few online writing groups. I really enjoy it and these groups are a great source of information and support. There is always someone who knows something about a topic I’m researching, or has good marketing tips. No matter what a person’s profession, it’s always nice to be able to interact with others who do what you do.

Do you read the same things as you write?

I’m a reader of scifi, mysteries and sometimes horror (never watch horror, though). The romance books I read are usually in those sub-genres or BDSM. I also enjoy nonfiction subjects of canine history, archeoastronomy and geology/meteorology.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I have a day job (sometimes I work it at night), I’m a veterinary nurse. As for hobbies I garden and am an amateur astronomer. My younger dog, Finn, and I take obedience classes and we hope to begin competing at the novice level in Rally Obedience this November. Oh, and I LOVE my Netflix!

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?  

A little more than a decade ago I was reading through a Live Journal—anyone remember that?—board where people looked for books or online stories with certain plots. There was one request for stories about arranged marriages and the very next was a request for two people who’d know each other all their lives but didn’t really get to know each other until they were adults.

I had one of those “aha” moments and the kernel of a story formed in my brain. That kernel turned into a gigantic plot bunny that evolved into Sentries.

In book one, Marked Yours, the two main characters, Todd and Nick, are bound to each other as children. They spend the time between then and when Nick turns twenty-two exchanging letters. It’s not until Nick is old enough that they are physically together. So, in a way they’ve known each other all their lives, but their pre-arranged bonding doesn’t take place until each man is an adult.

Marked Yours

When one society fell, assaulted by natural disaster, in its place rose another, molded into something entirely different. Protectorates were divided by beliefs and distance. Slavery was accepted and threats both natural and supernatural were commonplace.

This became a world where sentries were needed. Trained almost from infanthood, these tough men and women lived in a society within a society. They were warriors and protectors, ferreting out evil and defending the citizens of New Colorado Protectorate from inhuman terrors and, on occasion, human ones.

Todd Ruger was born into life as a sentry. Raised by a hard father into a hard life, Todd becomes the consummate sentry, tough, dangerous, and good at what he does. When he wasn’t quite into his teen years, he was bonded to a special young slave named Nick. For years their only interaction was through letters. Friendship turned to a sort of courtship between them. Todd lived for the day Nick became of age and Todd’s ownership would take effect. That was the day Nick would leave the village with Todd. They’d begin a life together. They’d make a difference.

Raised as a slave, Nick never wanted to be special, but nature had other ideas for him. He grew up in a village with other slave children and was taught to be useful to his future master because he a gift … or curse. The tutors responsible for his upbringing didn’t understand what Nick could do, what he was; they were afraid of him. If sentries hadn’t bought him, it was likely he’d never have lived to see the age of five. All that changes the day Nick leaves the village with Todd. He’s cared for and shown a new, better life with a man who loves him honestly and wholly.

But after being together barely a day, Nick is brutally attacked and injured. Though he recovers without incident, Todd’s heart fills with revenge. The guardian in him turns into a dangerous, driven assassin, a wolf on the hunt.

Todd’s obsession with tracking down the men who hurt Nick and making them pay could very well get them both killed. Can they survive and build the life together they’ve both dreamed of for years?

NOTE: This is the third edition of Marked Yours. The first and second editions were released by another publishing house. This story has been revised and re-edited with the end result being a better, stronger story.

Find Elizabeth

Website : Amazon Page : Facebook : Twitter : Goodreads

Mystery, action, chills, and thrills spiced with romance and desire. ELIZABETH NOBLE started telling stories before she actually knew how to write, and her family was very happy when she learned to put words on a page. Those words turned into books and fan fiction that turned into a genuine love of M/M fiction. Being able to share her stories is really a dream come true. She has a real love for a good mystery complete with murder and twisty plots as well as all things sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural.

Elizabeth has three grown children and is now happily owned by an adorable mixed breed canine princess, a spunky Cardigan Welsh Corgi and their sidekick, tabby cat. She lives in her native northeast Ohio, the perfect place for gardening, winter and summer sports (go Tribe and Cavs!). When she’s not writing she’s working as a veterinary nurse, so don’t be surprised to see her men with a pet or three who are a very big part of their lives.

Elizabeth has received a number of amateur writing awards. Since being published, several of her novels have received Honorable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards. Jewel Cave was a runner-up in the Gay Mystery/Thriller category in the 2015 Rainbow Awards. Ringed Love was a winner in the Gay Fantasy Romance category of the 2016 Rainbow Awards.

Website : Amazon Page : Facebook : Twitter : Goodreads

A big thank you to Elizabeth for submitting herself to my questions!

my favourite time-travel paradox

James Tiptree Jr, 10,000 Light Years from Home

My blogging record this last month has been grim, because of school holidays, poorly children and poorly me, so I threw a question out on twitter asking for a topic and the lovely Elin Gregory came back with the subject of this post.

I love time-travel when it’s done properly. It’s like magic though, in my opinion, and there always has to be a price to pay for it. I think that the best known paradox story in time-travel fiction is All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein. He crams it all in there… being your own mother, your own father and your own recruiter to the Time-Travel Bureau.  The price the protaganist pays seems to be loneliness. So it works for me in that it fits my criteria. But it leaves me with a sad, empty feeling afterwards and I’m not sure I like that.

My absolutely favorite time-travel story, in fact probably my favorite short story of all time, is The Man Who Walked Home, by James Tiptree Jr, in her short story collection Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home. There has only ever been one attempt to send someone through time and essentially it blew up the world. I come back to it again and again and I can’t really tell you why:

On this spot there appears annually the form of Major John Delgano, the first and only man to travel in time.

Major Delgano was sent into the future some hours before the holocaust of day zero. All knowledge of the means by which he was sent is lost, perhaps forever. It is believed that an accident occurred which sent him much farther than was intended. Some analysts speculate that he may have gone as far as fifty thousand years ahead. Having reached this unknown point Major Delgano apparently was recalled, or attempted to return, along the course in space and time through which he was sent. His trajectory is thought to start at the point which our solar system will occupy at a future time and is tangent to the complex helix which our earth describes around the sun.

He appears on this spot in the annual instants in which his course intersects our planet’s orbit and he is apparently able to touch the ground in those instants. Since no trace of his passage into the future has been manifested, it is believed that he is returning by a different means than he went forward. He is alive in our present. Our past is his future and our future is his past. The time of his appearances is shifting gradually in solar time to converge on the moment of 1153.6 on May 2nd 1989 old style, or Day Zero.

The explosion which accompanied his return to his own time and place may have occurred when some elements of the past instants of his course were carried with him into their own prior existence. It is certain that this explosion precipitated the worldwide holocaust which ended forever the age of Hardscience

Thank you, Elin for the question! It ties in nicely with my own time-travel shenanigans. Lew and Mira both get dragged back in time at the beginning of Lost in Time (hence the name, doh!). It’s not an easy bit of magic and although it will happen again in other books, there is always quite a big cost. For Lew and Mira it’s extremely dangerous to try to get home. It’s not a safe process and they need to make a choice.

I don’t much like time travel stories that just have people whizzing about through stone circles and whatnot like trap doors in to the past, although I know a lot of people find them great fun. I think that’s possibly because I like all my stories with a lot of angst, so easy time-travel immediately becomes a super-power rather than something to be tortured about.

Next week I’m talking to Elizabeth Noble about writing life and her re-released series, Sentries, so do pop back if you want to get to know her better.


Note: I know that for some people, the Tiptree/Sheldon narrative has become problematic because of the manner of her death (CW: Suicide/Murder) in the same way Heinlein’s politics makes some of his writing difficult to stomach for some people. Whether art should stand independent of the creator is a whole other discussion on it’s own. In their specific cases, I think their work transcends that, but I’ve included the links above for completeness .

interview with Naomi Aoki

This week Naomi Aoki has popped in for a chat. Welcome and thanks so much for visiting!

Why are you doing this interview? (A new book? A new website? A re-release? Just for fun?)

For fun 😊

What started you writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and at sixteen declared I was going to publish a book. At the time I was thinking non-fiction history and would never have considered romance even though I read it quite a bit. But as always happens, life got in the way and it was shoved to the way side until I went back to University and discovered how much I loved putting pen to paper… began dabbling in fanfic and then got the confidence to write original works.

Where do you write?

I’m either at a table I hauled into the lounge so I could work while my computer is charging or sitting on the couch. My cat prefers it when I’m sitting on the couch so she can curl up on my legs.

What do you like to read?

These days the books I read are very much queer and romance. I read very little MF and usually only if a character is transgender. Sub-genre wise… I love romantic suspense, historical romance and paranormal.

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

Does my kindle count as a single book? (EDITORIAL COMMENT: No! No cheating! 🙂 )

Okay, but choosing three books is hard as a lot of my favourites tend to be a part of a series. But if I have too…. Anna Zabo’s Just Business (Takeover Series Bk2); Tal Bauer’s Whisper; Drake/Elliot’s Shiver. Why? Easy they’ve all got memorable characters who no matter how many times you read the book, you never grow tired of.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I belong to my local writer’s group and while some days not much writing gets done or shared, listening to the older members talk about their life can be just as interesting… plot bunny fodder.

Online I belong to New Zealand Rainbow Writers. They are a really supportive bunch of authors who are all ready to lend a hand, an ear or even a virtual shoulder when needed.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing I’m usually reading, gardening or watching anime—or rolling my eyes at my youngest dd’s umpteenth viewing of Gilmore Girls. I love to eat Chinese or Japanese food, especially trying all the weird and wonderful flavours of chips the Chinese shops nearby stock.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

My most recent release was Rueben (Men of Science Book One), an historical novel set in Shanghai, 1878. The idea came about as I thought there really wasn’t many historical novels that involved scientists—or anyone who wasn’t a Lord or a Duke—and the Victorian era is also when a lot of discoveries and theories on the natural world were made, including the theory birds evolved from dinosaurs. Setting it in China was easy. I’ve always loved learning about Chinese culture and graduated with a BA in Chinese earlier this year. (Though my speaking skills are woefully out of practice.) Many stories set in China tend to be during the Song Dynasty or Romance of the Three Kingdoms-esque, but I’m more intrigued with the social and political upheavals associated with the 19th Century. I think it took me four or five months to write. I loved being able to weave Mandarin into the story, but there wasn’t as much as in my previous book.


Reuben, Men of Science #1

Rueben would be the first to admit he was stubborn. He hated being told something wasn’t possible when there was no scientific basis for their claims. So, when his peers told him searching for fossils in China wouldn’t be a worthwhile endeavour, instead of quitting Rueben doubled down his efforts to raise the necessary funds to travel there.

But his arrival in Shanghai started with embarrassment and left Rueben fearing his distracted clumsiness had scared away his translator and guide, Yuan Xi, before they’d even left for their destination: the Taihang Mountains in Shanxi Province.

Yet Rueben hadn’t imagined the most important discovery he’d make in those mountains would be about himself. An overwhelming and confusing discovery that had Rueben wanting to run… had him never wanting to leave Yuan’s side.

Yuan Xi prided himself on being a sought-after translator, capable of hiding his anger despite the way his European employers treated him and his countrymen. Knew how to keep a smile on his face while being treated like a servant; remaining invisible until needed.

But this latest job could be hazardous to his health, and Yuan didn’t mean physically. The endearingly clumsy scientist employing Yuan made him question whether he wanted more than emotionless, casual relationships… and whether taking a risk with his heart might be worth it.

Buy Rueben!


Visit Naomi online

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Thank you so much for blog-visiting, I really enjoy getting to know people through these interviews. And Rueben is now on my tbr list!