Diary dates, upcoming events and a bit of chit chat

There’s a lot going on in my world at the moment.

I have a new release on the 29th August called ‘Love and Punishment’, I’ve just finished the first book in my Men of London series (MOL) (five more to go!) and I also have the third book in my Starlight series, ‘Starlight and Promises’ coming out this year too. And I’ve already started writing the second book in the MOL repertoire. I also have this awesome book plot for something I’m going to write next year with a view to self publishing this one. So watch this space…I think I need to shut myself away in something like this beautiful room and focus on everything.

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In the meantime, here are some important dates for the diary. You can always find out more about them by keeping an eye on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/susiemax77

UK Gay Romance writers book signing – September 6th 2014 – London. If you fancy coming along let us know by joining below. I’ll be there with my books and hopefully someone will ask me to sign one *grins*

To find out more information check out details here on the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/events/478879022255681/

Gay Rom Lit - October 16-19th 2014 – USA http://www.gayromlit.com. I won’t be at this years GRL conference but I am hoping to make it over next year.

UK MM Writer’s Retreat – May 2015 -check out the website for more details about a beautiful country hotel getaway.
Read more here: http://ukwritersretreat.weebly.com/

Euro Con (Munich) 10-12th July 2015 – further details will be made available by Marc Fleischhauer and the team putting the event together – Isa Brandt and Anna Martin.

europridecon@gmail.com, europridecon.weebly.com is the website, https://www.facebook.com/europridecon?fref=ts is the Facebook Page

So loads on the go for both authors and readers alike..we hope to see you at some or all of them !

The Equal Rights Queer Town Abbey Blog Hop

Welcome to the Equal Rights Queer Town Abbey Blog Hop. As always, it’s a pleasure participating in these, as they always seem to bring people together.

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The hop runs July 4th 12:00 am EST through 11th 11:59 pm EST and there are some fabulous prizes for the giveaway!
You can check the big prize list here: http://queertownabbey.com/the-equal-rights-blog-hop-july-4th-through-11th/

My first experience in the LGBT community.

Hmmm. That’s a wide reaching topic and could mean just about anything. I don’t really remember my first ‘experience’ – was it perhaps the first time I ever read an M/M book and thought, ‘Wow, I love this genre and I want more?’ Was it the first time I actively researched topics for my own books and got exposed to the wonderful world of Gayology 101 on Goodreads where frank, open discussions were the norm and a great source of information. Tongue piercings and blow jobs, shower action and the question of shaving all body hair formed a big part of one of the discussions I was involved with and was a real eye opener. Or was it the time I cheered when UK marriage for same sex couples became legal and shared in the joy of many of my friends who’d been tirelessly supporting this initiative.

It could be all of the above. I think though I’d like to talk a little about this past weekend, when I attended Pride in London. Yes, it pissed down like the proverbial London weather is imagined to do. I got wet and ate more than I’d ever planned as I was constantly ducking into coffee shops to get out of the rain. And of course, when you smell the coffee and see the pastries on offer, you just have to have one of each. But you know what – the bad weather didn’t matter. The spirit of this event was overwhelming, all encompassing to the point of sheer exuberance, and everyone participated with all their hearts and souls could offer. It was a proud event, an event where people can see the extent of the immense LGBTQ community we have, and gave them a chance to have their say and simply enjoy this day. I was proud to be a part of it and these pictures say a thousand words….even if it was a bit bleak and grey.

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Question- Where was the recent PRIDE Day I was at held – in which city?

To enter the giveaway head down here and answer the simple question I posed above. There are some wonderful prizes on offer.

Rafflecopter Link is below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saving Talliston -Escape the Ordinary. Become Extraordinary.

I have the privilege of being part of something called the Talliston Writer’s Circle. It’s run out of a house in Great Dunmow which is, surprisingly enough, called Talliston. I’ve been there just under two years now and every minute spent at this unique venue has been a pleasure and an inspiration. My good friend John Trevillian, together with his partner Marcus Cotton, have spent the best part of twenty years transforming this simple, three bed roomed, semi-detached house into the incredible and unique place it is today. The website is below and I strongly suggest you take a look. It’s breath taking and simply out of this world.Talliston 3

Here are just a few pictures to show the beauty and majesty of the place. You can see more on the website.gilesg-the-watchtower-sofassmall

Talliston

Talliston Pinterest

We have had our writer’s meetings here, spent numerous wonderful evenings at themed supper club events, socialised and drunk coffee and tea whilst having a chat and just generally delighted in the company of good friends.

And now this wonderful venue needs help. I’m not going into details but you can listen to the story here. The house is in trouble and I would like to do everything I can to help them save this timeless and precious house.

Saving Talliston Dunmow Broadcast

The project is also detailed on the Talliston website, link above. There is currently an Indigogo project to try raise the necessary funds to complete the project. The link is below should you feel you wish to contribute.

saving talliston

Saving Talliston Indigogo Project

I’m not the only person trying to save this house. My fellow writers Duncan Swallow and Michelle Garrett are also passionate about the venue and you can read their blog posts here.

Duncan Swallow

Michelle Garrett

Even the newspapers have got involved….they see the solace and perfection of this place as we do.

News article

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have people from all walks of life getting involved. Philip Carr-Gomm is a writer and psychologist. He trained with Ross Nichols, the founder of the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids, and has been leading the Order for over twenty years. He too supports this project.

http://philipcarrgomm.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/save-talliston-house-and-gardens

I ask you all to take a look at this wonderful place and I dare you not to want to save something that is so magical and special. Even if you don’t feel you wish to contribute money-wise, then please share this message and get the word out. That will count as a lovely gesture towards saving this remarkable place. Thanks for reading this blog post and I hope you feel inspired enough to do something to help.

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Sigh. I’m in lust -I mean love- with a fictional character

Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character? Or even worse, lusted after them so much that all else pales in comparison? I’m sure if you have, you’re not alone. At some stage of our reading or film and television experience, I think we all find that special someone who truly appeals to us and whom we wish was in our lives for real.

Fan Fiction

I did a bit of an experiment. I typed ‘unhealthy obsession fictional characters’ into Google just to see what happened. And boy, did I get a lot of responses. It seems a lot of people out there are worried about their crushes and love affairs which people who don’t even exist. There are forums dedicated to the subject, and plenty of whacky questions and answers flying around. See for yourself.

Google Whackiness

I guess this is evidenced by the love people have for writing fan- fiction. This is a fascinating glimpse into the world of make believe that has actual roots in the characters and situations created by TV and film and expounded upon by lovers of the genre. There is all sorts of fan-fiction out there. I wrote some myself actually, a short, poignant story based on the TV series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch (of course) and I found it very a very enjoyable endeavour.

After Sherlock

My daughter has a total girl crush on Ziva David, the Israeli Mossad agent from NCIS. She writes fan fiction for this, as well as the Stargate Atlantis series, the one with the strong warrior woman persona of Teyla Emmergan. Of course Sherlock, Twilight, Star Trek, all have a base of very strong fan fiction aficionados who write some really good stuff, and I’m sure one day their hope is that some of it might be picked up the TV studio itself. I’m not really talking about the slash fan fiction here but the stories that generally lead themselves to perhaps one day becoming an episode in the series. Slash fan fiction is another topic all together and may well be discussed in a further blog post….

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Here are some links to some fan fiction sites in case you’re curious enough to take a look and see what you think…

Wattpad Fan Fiction

Fan Fiction

I couldn’t resist popping a little bit of slash fan fiction in this post and this is one of my personal favourites…I love the Winchester boys..

Supernatural Slash ‘Wincest’

Have fun drooling over these images of Dean and Sam together….if you know what I mean.

 

 

My writing process (Err, sorry, what’s that?)

I was tagged by fellow author Sarah Granger to participate in this meme about my writing process. Of course my first question to her ‘Oh, is there a writing process?’ Well I never. *grins* Of course for everyone the process is different so I’ll try explain a little about mine in this post. I think Hemingway had the ‘write’ idea myself.

Hemingway

What am I working on?

Currently I’m working on a series of six books revolving around men in London. The series is called, strangely enough,’Men In London’ and the first book is called ‘Love you Senseless’. It’s the story of Gideon Kent who was damaged in a fire and as a result lost his sense of smell and taste. He’s a little bitter about that as he was an award winning chef and now feels he doesn’t have what it takes to continue his culinary career. When he meets another young, rising chef in the making, Eddie Tripp, Gideon realises there’s more to life than simply regretting life and living with only his remaining three senses. The series will be set around a trendy restaurant in Soho called Galileo’s, which Gideon owns.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t think I can answer this one. I think this is the sort of question best aimed at readers to tell me what differentiates my stories from those of others in the same genre. I write damaged men – so does Garrett Leigh. I write stories set in the UK -so do Josephine Myles and Sue Brown. So what makes mine different ? I don’t really know. Readers, please give us your thoughts on this one :)

Why do I write what I do?

I write M/M Romance because I discovered I have a passion for it. I started reading it and got completely hooked by the tales of strong men fighting for each other, hurting and loving each other and having raunchy sex which makes your nether regions tingle. I love the settings of the stories, the plot lines that to me differ from the M/F genre and the fact that you have this whole other side to men that we as writers can develop and make our own.

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How does my writing process work?

I am a confirmed pantser. I get the vague idea about two men and a story, I sit down, write the first line and work from there. I have no detailed plot development, no rich character summaries, no bloody idea at all how things are going to go. I do however keep a timeline of events, with the important scenes noted, so I don’t trip myself up talking about something out of chronological order and making a fool of myself. I have perhaps 10 lines on my character’s physical attributes and some major traits and habits. I have a one pager on what the story is all about and how I want it to end and that’s that.

I sit here in my corner, where all my books have been written and I simply type away and let the story flow and the characters tell me where we’re headed.

My study 2

Now, this meme asks me to nominate a couple of other people to share their answers to these questions. I had a couple of victims picked out and they agreed with a little of the turning of the screws, threats , and the promise of virtual hugs if they participated. It’s hard to find good help nowadays. *sigh*

Rory Ni Coileain – now this lady is one of my favourite authors and I just love her paranormal take on the Fae world and all her sexy, tortured heroes. especially my favourite – Garrett the insanely beautiful pole dancer. She knows of my obsession in this regard and sends me the occasional picture treat. Err, Rory, I think it might be about time for another one ?

Garrett

 

 

 

 

Fae DominanceThen there’s J B Miller who writes these fantastical novels about sexy Fae in her Dia Mclearey novels. She has some beautiful covers….check them out on her Facebook page. This is one I loved…

Well, I hope that’s given you a little insight into the writing process I use, and I’m sure you have your own that works for you. Whatever your method, as long as it gets you putting words to keyboard or paper whatever your process is, that’s all readers can ask for. So carry on doing whatever it is you do to keep the world turning with sexy stories of romance and sex.

Mental health and the inspiration for my damaged characters

I’m often asked where my inspiration draws from for writing damaged characters like Alex Montgomery in Saving Alexander and Nick Mathers in Worth Keeping. I think the answer is we all draw on our darker experiences when creating these angst driven souls. We reach down deep inside and drag up the darkness from our core. The wonderful thing about writing fiction is that you can create your own happy endings. Real life doesn’t work that way. The Keith Milano Memorial Fund bears testament to that fact. However, in every tragedy, there is a light. It’s not that we make any less of our loved one’s passing but rather that we choose to remember the good times we shared and in this case, try make sure anyone feeling the same is caught in time, on outspread angel wings and born on the back of a strong supporting strength that may save lives. This is what this organisation sets out to do. Keith Milano Memorial Fund   and Shh Mom’s Reading EffortsKeith-Milano-Fundraiser-larger-banner-e1398956790418

Saving Alexander

 

 

 

My book ‘Saving Alexander’ is dedicated to my sister Carol, younger than me by three years. She was always a delicate soul, feeling too deeply and bearing pain that she held too close and was unable to let go. A series of traumatic events played on her psyche and she decided to take refuge in alcohol. In doing so, she fell into deep depression and her mental health suffered to such an extent it became a deep well out of which she would never emerge. There are some fairly personal revelations in this blog post, and you’ll get to know a bit of me that perhaps no one really knew before. I feel it’s worth it for this event.

My character Alex Montgomery, he of the different colour eyes in the picture above, shares her same birthday, the 27th September, a Libra. Star signs may be hocus-pocus or not depending on your point of view but these qualities were some of what drew me in to create Alex -

Peace loving, idealistic, hospitable, diplomatic, indecisive until forced. Seeking others to provide the peace they crave.

Carol herself decided that she would kill herself through alcohol as she did not want her death certificate to read that she had committed suicide. She didn’t want her children to live with that stigma. She made this conscious decision in a very matter of fact way and told me about it. From then on it was simply a matter of time. She’d made her choice, and nothing would change her mind. One day she went into hospital and never came out. Two days after her 42nd birthday she passed away.

I prefer to remember the good times we had – the giggly little sister who played with Barbie dolls and loved glitter. The beautiful woman who produced beautiful children. The teasing sister who was the youngest in the family and had her two big older sisters to look out for her. The look on her face when she watched Oliver with me, and sang along to ‘Food Glorious Food’ at the top of her voice. The sister who sat with me while we constantly re-played records in order to try write down the lyrics for our scrap book. Tom Jones was a favourite and we loved all the Bond themes. She was an avid reader of romance and happy ever after to her was the Holy Grail.

Saving Alexander dedication to Carol

Saving Alexander dedication to Carol

My book dedication is to her, her warmth, her smile, her good times and of course, her bad times. She is forever remembered, missed and I shall always think fondly of the little sister who always threw one good potato in with the bad potato in the bin ‘so it had company’. I think that sums her up so well.

They look so happy together. Hey, who said even potatoes couldn’t have a bit of romance as long as they’re together? I think this might have been the subliminal desire she wanted to create :)

Happy Potaoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are all the authors that are taking part in the event to showcase that mental health matters. We donated sales proceeds of our books to the Keith Milano Memorial Fund. I’m proud to say that two of my books are on this collage – Worth Keeping and of course, Saving Alexander.

My publisher was very on board with the idea and have been a great source of support to this cause. Boroughs Publishing Group . My book ‘Worth Keeping’ was also involved in raising funds for a UK charity called the NSPCC – the National Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children with part sale proceeds being donated to them too. It’s a small thing to give back to such wonderful organisations. Nick and Owen, and Alex and Sage would be so proud of the fact that their books are helping others who need help.

Denise collage

Virtual Friendships – and how they move on

I want to talk a little bit about virtual friendships and making friends via social networks. Yep, those ones you make on Facebook and other social networking sites. Now some people have questioned the use of the word ‘friend’. They say, ‘How can someone you’ve never met be your ‘friend’, someone you only know over the ether waves and even then, you have no idea who they really are.  Man, woman, pervert, paedophile, priest, business man, serial killer….true, you have no idea who they really are. A lot of them you have no idea of their gender, and the number of nom de plumes abound. There are super heroes, book characters, film-stars and even cartoon characters.

friendship

The word friend is defined in the dictionary as ‘a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.’ It’s a very broad and sweeping definition and in my mind, it certainly applies to those people with whom we strike up a relationship over the social airwaves. I talk to people every day who I consider friends. People who share their stories and their lives with me, their ups and downs, their successes and failures, their daily strife and their dreams and aspirations. I have people I know in ‘real life’ who are not as good as friends as these others.  I have people who know me personally and face to face yet have never bought or read any of my books and aren’t really interested in what I do because it’s out of their comfort zone.

And then I have people who private message me, sending me personal voice messages of support and whenever I’m down, seem to pick up on it and let me know they are thinking of me. Scott Burkett, honey, you know who you are.

Personally, I have made some of the best friends ever via Twitter and Facebook. People who are now face to face friends and where the relationship has developed to such an extent that it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Take my friend Geoffrey Wakeling for example. We met one night about eighteen months ago on Twitter. Geoff was off to visit his boyfriend, Saad in Toronto and I saw something in one of his tweets about being a writer. I tweeted him telling him to have a good time and enjoy his time there, just randomly. He replied, we started chatting, I found out he lived not too far away from me and we planned a get together, a cup of coffee at Westfield Mall in Stratford. Of course, my family were a bit worried, asking me how I could meet a random stranger, a man, all by myself and of course, they had a right to be worried. Geoff could have been anyone despite the fact he probably wasn’t after my body because he was gay. However, my husband travelled with me to Westfield and then after meeting Geoff, and seeing he wasn’t that scary, he left us alone to natter for a few hours. We got on like a house on fire. Since then we’ve met a few times, spoken on Facebook, texted and this whole relationship has culminated in me being a guest at his wedding to Saad next week. Geoff has read my books, been a beta reader for me and is a great source of support. He’s epic (my new buzz word) This was taken at the shopping mall we met at. Sorry it’s a bit fuzzy :)

Me and Geoff

Me and Geoff

I then have a great buddy in Baltimore, called Shanella McBeth. She’s a bundle of fire, energy and sass and although I’ve never met her, I feel like I’ve known her forever. We met when I was doing research into pole dancing for my book Waiting for Rain. She introduced herself to me and then introduced me to Steven Retchless – yummy. I found out she was a writer too, we started chatting and now Shanella is the trusted co-admin of the Male Pole dance facebook group. We plan to meet up sooner or later too. She’s read my books, loved my writing. And I know when I’m down, as does she, we can talk to one another, commiserate, swear like troopers and share pornographic pics to cheer each each other up. No I won’t post any here, it’s more than my life’s worth. :(

I have wonderful fellow authors who give me advice on areas they are more expert in and others, professionals in their field, who do the same and give up their time to make a meaningful contribution to something I’ve written. I have other best -selling authors who give me their time and knowledge and expertise and counsel to try and make me a better and more marketable writer despite the fact they have their own books to promote and their own businesses and lives to live. She knows who she is.

So the next time someone face to face says’ You and your stupid Facebook and Twitter friends, why don’t you get a proper life’, just look them in the eye, and say ‘Have you read my books, the ones I slave over? Have you helped me out recently when I was feeling down, sent me a funny message to cheer me up? Have you heard my tales of woe and actually listened instead of telling me all yours?”

If the answer is No, then don’t feel guilty for having this world of virtual friendships. Whatever keeps you going and happy, it’s worth it if it means something to you.

Keep calm