Words and Stuff

For the past month I’ve been trawling through my bookshelves (virtual and literal) in an attempt to choose my top ten books of the year and to be honest its been a bit of an ordeal. Who do I include? There are so many that have made me cry, laugh and read again. There are also books which I have been surprised by, then there are the books which I may never visit again (one of which nearly made it onto the list).

Finally though I  have decided on ten – plus some special mentions.

Soooo *drum roll* in no particular order, please find my top ten(ish) (and a small disclaimer I am no reviewer – I write about how a book makes me feel nothing else)…

1. A Little Too Broken by Brad Vance
This book has been growing on me since I downloaded it earlier this year and has become one of my frequent re-reads. Is it erotica? A big love story? Not really, its two guys who are a little bit damaged (one is HIV positive, the other a veteran who has lost his legs and who is diagnosed with PTSD) attempting to find their way in life. It’s kind of a feel good book. They take it slowly, they have their ups and downs and finally, eventually get their HEA/HFN

2. All Kinds of Tied Down by Mary Calmes
Better than the others in this series? For me yes. I love how Mary Calmes writes and of course normally there is the big alpha male being all stompy and ‘mine’, this though isn’t like that. Ian is the alpha but boy is he damaged and needing care and love. I adore it.

3. In Your Eyes by Cardeno C
I’ve read this book so many times if the pages could wear out they would. Wonderful characterisation of Samuel from a rigid, stroppy, stubborn boy to a man whose whole life turns 180 degrees over the course of a night. You can almost hear the penny drop from the page as he realises who his mate is.

4. Meatworks by Jordan Castillo Price
There is a strong possibility I may well kick myself repeatedly for a) not reading any of the authors work prior to this and b) not saying hello to her at the UK Meet earlier this year. This book was my first work by JCP and hasn’t been the last. I have since moved onto the Psycops series and am thoroughly enjoying that too. The MC here is a hot mess in this book and by god you want to strangle him at times but I think that’s why I enjoyed it.

Also the Sea Monkeys. The damn sea monkeys. I’m still wondering how they are.

5. A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews
I also survived it. Although it was a close call. Hit all my kinks. Especially the Amish part. Obviously.

6. Hostile Ground by LA Witt & Aleksandr Voinov
This is were I admit to being an idiot (part one). I had this on my kindle ages before I read it. I put it off though, not really feeling the blurb, the cover or anything about it really to be honest. Oh was I a fool girl, because yes of course, I fucking loved it. Guns, sex, spies, hot sex, guns, espionage, nephews, demands to the author he write another, whats not to like? I loved it so hard.

7. Evenfall by Santino Hassell & Ais
I will never forgive / stop saying thank you to the persons who recommended the start of this series to me. I have cried, laughed, punched the kindle then hugged it pretending it was Hsin. I have now moved onto Afterimage, the second in the series, which so fair involves the character Boyd being recommended for level 10. No good will come of that I suspect.

8. Strength of the Mate by Kendall McKenna
Superior paranormal shifter story set in a world where shifters are not hidden but are part of a modern day US Army. Noah and Lucas make an appearance from the first book which is always a bonus feature but mostly it’s Adam and Dawson’s story that does it for me.

And the dirty talk. Cos there is lots of dirty talk.

9. The Mating of Michael by Eli Eastern
Book three of the Sex In Seattle Series is wonderful but at the time of reading I wasn’t sure how to review it and merely gave it 5 stars. It dealt with difficult topics well, it was emotional and humorous, Michael and James became firm favourites with me. I even took it into work so I could finish it!

10. Think of England by KJ Charles
A hint of Sherlock Holmes about this in my opinion only (hope the author doesn’t mind me saying), and I loved it. In fact it’s probably one of my most favourite books of the year along with Meatworks. Cleverly written, the attention to detail is superb. One of the best historical books I’ve ever read. Plus, I got to visit the house the author had based it on and that made it even better.

And that’s my top ten – however there are some special mentions. And these are series where if I was to just put them all together they have a top ten(ish) of their own:

The Magpie Lord Series by KJ Charles – wonderful wonderful series of books that led me to too…
Widdershins by Jordan L Hawk – I’m a idiot part 2 as I only found them in October
Enlightment Series by Joanna Chambers

Additional special mentions also go to Jay Northcote for Nothing Ventured, Skybound by Aleks Voinov and SA Meade for Tournament of Shadows. Books which I have loved and which where *this close* (holds fingers up to the screen) to getting on the list.

Till next year – When I remember how to work Word Press again.

Sam x


A little update

So for a long time now I have struggled with my writing. A trip to Bristol and the UK Meet didn’t fix it nor did a holiday. I’ve tried. I mean I really have. I write 1k and then read it and loose all hope. My confidence disappeared completely. I would read status updates about contracts & submissions and have to beat the jealously down with a large stick.

Not writing affected my mood and my anxiety. I was also taking hormone medication which affected me so severely that in April just before Bristol had a breakdown at work of all places. It took me 8 weeks to recover. In that time I edited my short of the NQS anthology, joined a gym, dealt with a bout social anxiety and healed. Slightly.

But I still couldn’t write and in turn I let people down.

Until this week. After I visited the London book signing earlier this week I completed a short story I’m going to submit to an anthology to be published next year. It needs editing, rewriting and some TLC but I’m so fucking proud of it.

I don’t know why I suddenly had a burst of energy. I think sitting & talking to, and finding common ground with other authors at the weekend has helped enormously. In particular the two people who I sat outside St Pancreas station with, even though they probably will wonder the hell how.

So thank you to them.

My short – Left Behind – I will submit & I have a 30k novella called Bad Boy in progress. I may not get awarded contract after contract, and I probably won’t write a book a month, but I will be kinder to myself in regards to my mental health and I definitely will be registering myself at the next book signing as an author.

I have to admit I am not the best blogger. I even forget when I am appearing on other people’s blogs (sorry Charlie) but I get home at night after work with all the good intentions of writing something amazing I’ve thought of during the day, then I have something to eat, sit down in front of the laptop and I’ve forgotten everything.

However I have been meaning to blog about my first visit to the UK LGBTQ Fiction Meet 2014 all week. Real life unfortunately got in the way. Trips to A&E, GP’s, horrible letters from hotel etc, kind of put my well-meaning plans on a back burner. Then yesterday myself and the man decided to spend the day, just us two away far from the maddening crowds.

That little break did me wonders. This morning I wrote 1k on my Pride story, which has quickly changed into something very personal and something that  I never thought I could incorporate into a story I have (it was an idea which gathered steam last weekend). I then sat down to write this.

It began very differently. I shall be honest and say I am still a little star struck about last weekend. I met people who I only interacted with on Facebook and twitter and all of them where friendly and readily accepted my nervous and relief filled hugs  (I’m thinking Sue Brown here). My first draft listed endless amounts of authors I got starry-eyed over – and that included the three people who I sat with on that first afternoon in the bar of the Marriott – Jay Northcote, Annabelle Jacobs and Garrett Leigh. I’m fairly sure not one of them knew that inside I was thinking to myself, ‘dear god she is the woman who wrote Bullet/Not Just Friends/Capture’. But I was.

I spoke about buying Max Vos a shot of Tequila (more of whom in a bit), fangirling over Aleks Vionov and LA Witt and meeting Susan from the Boys in our Books blog.

I also wrote about how nervous I had been because the meet coincided with the Not Quite Shakespeare anthology being published and how I was now having to step semi out of the closest as Sam Evans the author. I also talked a bit about whether I should have worn a purple or white lanyard (I chose purple to allow photos).


I then went onto to talk about the meet itself. On the Friday night I watched a pole dancer covered in diet coke, a wickedly funny compare, a man get himself out of a straight jacket whilst riding a unicycle, I ate tapas and met even more authors including Jo Myles, Jordan Castillo Price and KC Wells who made me realise things are closer than you expect them to be.

My highlight of the first day however was none of be above – sorry – although all of the above was pretty ruddy special. It was a surreal moment sharing a six-pack of Carlsberg with Petronella and Max Vos and watching men use the public urinals whilst sat in the middle of Bristol.

I even got to see a man’s tackle (or two) I can’t remember – and got asked if I was on Tindr (I’m not!).

As the weekend went on it got better and better. I am kicking myself for missing the BDSM session and would love for something similar to appear at next years. In fact due to needing  fresh air I actually missed a whole hour of the Saturday afternoon but was rewarded instead with seeing hundreds of naked cyclists shaking their thing(s) through the centre of Bristol.

photo (6)

The most surreal moment of the day belongs to the moment I was asked to sign a book. To be honest, it nearly got signed with my works signature – the one I use for pping letters until I remembered who I was.

The Saturday evening was the gala dinner. Again I sat with Garrett, Annabelle and Jay. I’m shall apologise now for grilling Garrett a little but she probably gave me the best advice of the weekend when she said I needed to take my time and not feel in any way under pressure to submit something else until it was right. (Elin Gregory comes in a close 2nd with ‘get used to it’ advice).

Eddie the drag artist who provided entertainment was hilarious and the choir sang their hearts out. I’m pretty sure they sang one of my favourite songs perfectly.

Saturday’s highlight however – was again – nothing of the above (again it was all fantastic) but on the Saturday I met Joanna Chambers and her purple heels and KJ Charles. Joanna and KJ are two of my most favourite authors ever. Both write historical stories and in KJ’s case a touch of the paranormal too. I could speak to them both endlessly.

Throughout the weekend I met so many wonderful people – RJ Scott, Lisa Worrell, Meredith Russell, and Lauren Lewis stand out. I got to say hello to Beverly Jansen who reviews for Prism and let out a little internal squeal when MJ O’Shea & Anna Martin said hi. I also hugged Max Vos lots. The session’s I attended where superb, especially the ones on contracting, insider speak, research and the novel openings which kicked off the meet (please do this again next year!).

In all, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole event. The key-note speeches where very different, Belinda McBride gave me many things to think about and Aleks Voinov kinda blew my mind a little.

I realise I met people and there are those who I haven’t mentioned – for this I’m sorry. I also didn’t get to say hello to people I should have done – again sorry. The whole weekend was overwhelming and my tote bag is still sitting on the living room floor untouched as I haven’t got around to sorting it out.

I don’t think I can end this however, without thanking the organisers – Charlie Cochrane, Liam Livings and his  beautiful red jacket, Jo Myles, Clare London and JL Merrow. This was wonderfully brought together and a safe environment was created for people to share their love and passion for this genre and from it I can’t wait to return next year.

One last thing. A massive thank you to Jay and Annabelle for taking me under their wing(s).

So… I was tagged by the lovely Jay Northcote who has just released her wonderful book Not Just Friends from Dreamspinner Press.

And more information about her, her other releases and to see the answers she gave to the four questions below can be found here! http://jaynorthcote.com/blog/

1)      What am I working on right now?

I never really know how much to say about what I am working on, because sometimes it’s a whole load of different things.  For example the WIP that is in my head at the moment is a 30k novella set in and around the Manchester Pride weekend and is based on a conversation I overheard coming from the three gents stood next to me as the Saturday parade went past.

Let’s just say they were very funny, very sharp and had me giggling and I have an cracking title for it.

I’m also working on a 50k novel (probably will be more I have no doubt) and that’s called Nudge. It’s been in my head for a long time and has a policeman in it and a teacher. My research has led to me stalking the men of Greater Manchester Police and their vehicles so much so I am currently trying to find a way of getting inside one without having to be involved in a high speed car chase.

2)      How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hmmm… a difficult one. I’m very much an unknown quantity even to myself.

I’m very British and very Northern, so most my stories will probably be set in Manchester and the UK (although I do have a short set in Cyprus).  I also love British humour, in particular the Carry On films and shows like Morecombe and Wise and the Two Ronnies. In fact the short that was accepted for the Not Quite Shakespeare anthology touches on this and so I am really hoping readers will ‘get it’. In it, there is references to old comedy routines and has a tongue in cheekiness to it. Plus, it’s set in Blackpool… so cock shaped rock? Yeah, that makes an appearance too.

As for something very different, I also have a deep desire to write a serial killer story. That story already has a title and a MC who is grumpy as anything, bless him. This story started life in 1997 and has been swimming around my head since then in many different guises.

3)      Why do I write what I do?

Because I enjoy it. It’s that simple.

I am new to this genre and it was only 15 months ago that I found a series of books about werewolves that changed my reading habits forever, so to find myself writing it….has come as a bit of a shock.

When I get asked why write about men I say it’s because I just ‘get’ them better. Female characters end up being me and no one wants to read about a neurotic national health service administrator that moans about her drive home every night do they?

I basically write what I know. It might not be hard hitting, it might not be full of gratuitous bonking but I love a happy ending and an epilogue.

4)      How does my writing process work?

Huh. Well it’s slow.

I work full time and do a round trip of 50 miles to and from work every day. I’m tired and sleepy and don’t feel like doing anything when I get home…

But honestly? A writing process? I don’t have one. But as soon as I’d started on this journey the voices refused to shut up. However if I was to pin it down, my process tends to go as follows.

  1. Flash of inspiration (usually something random) usually in the shower, at work, on the drive to work.
  2. I write the first chapter in my head and practice my Oscar speech.
  3. Forget about it
  4. Remember it.
  5. Think about it long and hard on my car journeys to work
  6. Think about it long and hard on my car journeys from work
  7. Set up a playlist
  8. Listen to playlist
  9. Please note at this point I still haven’t written anything down
  10.  Finally think about the ending. I possibly might write it down. This can be either the complete thing or just some notes.
  11. I start it. Knock out 3k and immediately hit a dead end.
  12. Get distracted by something shiny – usually a naked boy or two naked boys, or three if the mood takes me or I end up on Tumblr when I can loose whole days to shiny things… (which reminds me I haven’t visited there today)
  13. Points 8, 9 and 10 get repeated. Lots.

  14. Re-read the original 3k and start again.
  15. I finish it, I submit, then the fretting starts, the panic increases along with the worry and ‘oh boy they got it wrong’.
  16. This lasts a while.

  17. And finally
  18. It’ll be reet.

My current WIP’s are both at number 12 and have amazing songs including Bastille’s Weight of Living Part 1, Neil Diamonds Forever in Blue Jeans and Beyonce’s Drunk in Love on their playlist


So that’s me.

Thank you for reading and thank you for Jay for tagging me


KJ Charles

Another day, another Goodreads meltdown. In the latest ‘oh dear’ moment, an author and her friends (or possibly alternate personalities) is/are going nuts on anyone rating her book less than an enthusiastic 4+ stars. This includes attacking someone for leaving a DNF review (without star rating) and someone else for saying ‘I’m not reading this because the blurb is terrible’* (again without a star rating).

* As annoying as it may be for authors to have someone say ‘I’m not reading this because X’ where X is a factor unrelated to the book itself… the blurb in question is terrible. It’s one ADJECTIVE IN CAPITALS away from achieving sentient life and eating your soul. As a blurbwriter of many years’ experience, I want to give the person who wrote this blurb an hour’s remedial intensive coaching, and a slap. I’m not reading this book because the blurb is terrible. Please

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Overheard conversations

So I started a new wip today. It’s going to be a novella and is based on a conversation I overheard at Manchester Pride last year…


I’m aiming for 25k but who the hell knows.

The story focuses on Gethin, a welsh man who hasn’t had the greatest luck at Pride over the years, he’s had his drink spiked, got lost on a 10 mile walk back to the city centre and last year there was the whole Adam’s apple ‘thing’.

I got the story in my head (its been circulating for a while) so now its probably time to put it on paper.

For reasons unknown I want to called it Red Leather Shirts and Jodhpurs.

In October of last year a call was made by Dreamspinner Press for short story submissions to their UK Anthology to be published in June.

And me being me I decided to fuck it, have a go and write a story which celebrated the United Kingdom. I have to admit right away I found it hard. Really hard. I planned for 5k – I’d written a story previously at that length and it worked really well, so I sat down and wrote straight off a story about a son who returned home to find his fortune telling grandmother had died and left him her ‘booth.’

It was ‘okay’.

Nothing special.

That was mid December. With the hustle and bustle of Christmas I didn’t touch the story again until the New Year. Then I attacked it with a big knife and completely changed it. The story ended up being something very different to the original.

The next thing I did was have someone read it. She loved it (apparently).

Her feedback was good. Her final word on the matter – “submit it.”

Next I then gave it to my boyfriend who also said  – “submit it.”

However the day before the deadline I still hadn’t submitted. Why? Well most people think I am confident, talkative, kinda girl. In reality I’m neither. I have at times anxiety issues and sometimes my self esteem goes so low it takes a strong minded man who I adore to pull me back out.

On that particular day the man was about. He sat with me as I did a final read through, wrote the submission email and did a short synopsis. He was then the one to click send.

Not me.

I couldn’t do it.

However as soon as he hit send I felt better – for about an hour. Then the doubts crept in. Should I recall it? Am I going to show myself up? What if… heavens above they like it and want it (nah..).

I sat and waited for two days and on the third I received an email.

They said yes.

Insert screaming. Lots of oh my gods, fucking hells, and explanations to work colleagues as to why little old me was unable to breathe.

Suddenly I had people whose names I only knew from twitter emailing me, welcome emails from Dreamspinner Press and apparently had to go and get something called an ITIN.

A what now?

Because what they don’t tell you that when you have said yes and signed a contract there is the little thing called IRS, then the British tax system, legalizing yourself (I am officially me now), something about artwork (really?), burbs, adjectives to describe your story (erm funny??’) and then there are track changes. And honestly? I hate track changes.

Thankfully though, I have had help and everyone I have got information and advice from has been wonderful.

But all the while, my nerves are getting steadily worse. What if I let the ‘side’ down? What if no one ‘gets’ it? What if the publisher already regrets saying yes?!

For an aspiring author to have their first submission accepted and published is just down right fucking scary but in the end getting published and submitting work is exactly what I wanted. I made a promise to myself that by the time I was 40 I would be an published author.

At 39 I will have achieved that.

I hope people like my story.

I hope they get it.

I also feel I might have to do a guide to Blackpool at the beginning for those whose have never heard of it.

But in the end I am proud. My short story will be published, it may lead to other things, it may not but for a girl who needs a new head attaching every now and again and who has wanted to smoke a packet of cigarettes whilst typing this, that can’t be a bad thing.

Holy Crap Batman

On Monday two wonderful things happened.

The first involved a hospital appointment. Not to go into too much detail but I’m happier now because of it.

The second was the fact I passed my Level 3 Business Administration NVQ. Six months work condensed into three weeks and a pass at the end of it? Yeah. I couldn’t be more chuffed.

Then today something even more wonderful and strange happened. Last Thursday I threw caution to the wind and submitted a story for an anthology. The Not Quite Shakespeare, UK Anthology to be precise. I actually submitted it after putting myself through the mill about submitting it.

Today I heard something back.

And yep, it got accepted. Like accepted for real. Like oh shit on a stick it’s going to be published accepted.

So yes. My first ever published short story will be out on the 2nd June 2014. It stars Josef and Will and a theatre.

I’m off now to scream inside a room where no one can hear me.

Like for the next hour.


I wrote the story. It’s semi ready. It needs to be submitted. But I’m not sure, because all of a sudden today my confidence left the building and took a holiday.

Cats, Cars & Craiglist

Stolen from other places..


Joanna Chambers

Romance author

A Very British Book Blog

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