Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Cover Reveal Enigma II Fighting The Man

Book I and II Free for short period on Smashwords

When first published by the amazing Red Haircrow we used one of my own paintings of the inimitable Silver as the cover
When the sequel Enigma II Fighting the Man was released Red designed the amazing cover for it, which I am very fond of
When I got myself off my backside and got Book III Friends and Lovers ready for publishing Red suggested a revamp of the current covers before the reveal of the Book III one. So he started by designing a stunning new cover for Book I
This was a definite improvement on the first cover, and I thought it fitted well enough with the Book II cover - until I saw Red's ideas for the new one. goes. This is the brand new cover of Enigma II Fighting The Man
Of course, the model can't encapsulate the fool wonder of Silver, he's much closer and suggest one of Silver's greatest loves and skills - his dancing.

If you are interested in reading Enigma I and II, they are currently free in the lead-up to the release of Book III on 6th December and for a short while after. So, if you haven't got to know Silver and River yet, or if you want to take advantage of the beautiful new covers then head on over to Smashwords and pick up your FREE BOOKS. You won't regret it.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Boy in the Window Chapter Ten: A Trip to Town

Ace dressed quickly in t-shirt and jeans, and hurried downstairs. There was no one in the hall, so he headed to the kitchen. The smell of coffee stirred his stomach and he went straight to the percolator.
“Why don’t you sit at the table, darling?” Mrs Richmond headed him off smoothly and directed him to sit.
“I’m perfectly capable of making myself a cup of coffee,” Ace grumbled.
“Why do we have to wait until Ace has coffee?” Logan protested, then subsided. Ace could imagine his mother giving Logan a stare. Other people had talked about mothers’ stares although he had, of course, never seen one himself. He’d never seen anyone’s stare.
“Now, you’re sure you’re up to this,” Mrs Richmond said, setting a cup of coffee on the table in front of Ace, and directing his hand to the mug. “It’s a big responsibility, taking care of your brother outside.”
Ace’s ears pricked up. What did she mean? Oh God, she wasn’t going to send him out into the world with Logan and Nick, was she? What would they do to him without his mother there to temper them.
“What do you mean?” he asked sharply. “I don’t want them to take care of me. I don’t need anyone to take care of me. I don’t want to go out with them.”
“Believe me,” Nick said, “I don’t want you to go out with us either but it’s either that or we don’t go and I need to.”
“Need to what?”
“Just get some stuff done.”
“Why can’t you just do that and leave me here.”
“Because I’m going out,” Mrs Richmond said, in her “don’t’ mess with me” voice. Ace might not be able to see her stare, but he could certainly hear the tone of her voice and had learned all the subtle differences and exactly how far he could push before he got to this stage. Clearly his brothers had been having this conversation with their mother for quite some time.
“That’s okay. I’ll be fine up in my room. I don’t come down here very often anyway.”
“You cannot stay in the house on your own.”
“Why not? I hardly ever see you anyway.” Ace couldn’t help the touch of bitterness that crept into his voice and was unprepared for the sharpness in his mother’s when she replied.
“That’ hardly my fault. You shut yourself away upstairs and half the time I don’t know I even have another son.”
Good grief, she sounded for a minute as if she wanted to spend time with him. Then he remembered all the times she’d sent him scuttling up to his room whenever anyone came around. If an unexpected visitor arrived Ace was expected to make himself scarce pretty damn quick, even to the point of her practically throwing him up the stairs. She might be feeling guilty about not spending time with her son but that certainly didn’t extend to other people. Oh no, whenever anyone who might – God forbid – judge her, was around Ace was hidden away, tucked safely into his attic room, isolates; for his own good; somewhere he couldn’t hurt – or draw attention to – himself.
So why now was she pushing him out into a world he was unprepared for? Why was she forcing him into the company of the two people in the whole world she knew he was least safe with?
“Please don’t make me do this.”
“I thought you wanted more independence,” Mrs Richmond said, placing  bowl in front of Ace and putting a spoon in his hand.
“I do…just not with them. I wouldn’t mind going out on my own.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, you can’t do that.”
“I could. I have my stick, and--”
“Please let’s not go there again. It’s not going to happen, so let that be an end to it. I’m fed up of all of you this morning. Finish your breakfast, then get out of my sight until teatime.”
“Don’t take it out on me,” Ace grumbled and was glad he was unable to see stares because he had a feeling he was the focus of three of them.
The journey into town was conducted in silence. Initially, Logan had repeatedly kicked the back of Ace’s seat, but Nick got pissed off with him for possibly damaging the upholstery and when he threatened to drop Logan off in the middle of the lane, Logan subsided.
Eventually, the car came to a halt and Nick said, “Okay, rugrats, get out.”
“What? Here? You’re leaving me on my own with him? Mum’ll kill you.”
“Mum will never know,” Nick growled, “Not if you want to keep your balls. Now get out.”
“Where are we?” Ace asked.
“Bus depot. You can walk in from here.”
“No way. I’m not getting out. You can’t abandon me here with him.”
“Quit whining and get out. Dump him in a cafĂ© somewhere. He’s always whining on about being independent.”
“I’m not doing that. Mum’ll kille me. Besides,” he continued in a smarmy voice. “I’m not allowed to be left on my own. I’m too young. Mum would have a blue fit.”
“I told you, if either of you speak a word to Mum I’ll make you wish you’d never been born. Now get the fuck out of my car.”
“I’ll tell Mum you swore.”
“I’ll tell Lucie you’ve got an STD.”
“You wouldn’t.”
“Try me.”
With a huge sigh, Ace let his brothers’ argument wash over him and kept the hell out of it until the slamming of the door startled him. Next moment, hid own door was wrenched open and Logan practically dragged him out.
Suddenly, Ace found himself standing on the pavement, listening to Nick’s car zoom away.
“Stay here,” Logan spat. Sit on a seat and don’t move. I’ll be back.”
“What? Wait. Logan, wait. I can’t…. Logan?”
All Ace heard was the rumble of traffic and footsteps running away.
“Logan get back here and tell me where I am. Logan.”
There was no answer. Ace was alone in a place he had never been and no way of getting his bearings. Dammit. Although it was true he wanted to be independent he did need some assistance. His stick would help keep him safe so he wouldn’t fall into a hole or get run over, but he couldn’t just walk either. He could wind up anywhere, and even if he got lucky and walked straight into town his chances of finding either brother were slim at best. So he sat.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Boy In The Attic Chapter Nine A Sleepless Night

It's been a while but I keep forgetting to post these snippets. I hope you forgive and bear with me. It's been an adventure writing about Ace pre Haze. Many of the things that were resolved are now unresolved and he has a lot of growing to do so I have to make him less wise and more immature. Not that Ace was ever immature. I suppose he had to grow up fast considering all that was going on around him, Anyway, here is the next installment A Sleepless Night

Despite the pain medication, Ace didn’t sleep well. It wasn’t just his shoulder that kept him awake, though. He couldn’t stop thinking how messed up his family was, and how messed up his life was. James had a point when he said Ace was way too ready to excuse, explain and forgive. He knew what was happening was wrong. He knew he should get angry and fight back – but they were his family, and despite everything he loved them. It was hard enough getting through the day without being constantly at war. And he knew that’s what it would be. If he started making a fuss over the way he was treated – by everyone really – then he’d have them all on his back, all the time and he’d get nowhere fast. No, it was easier to keep the peace. All he had to do was keep his head down for a couple of weeks, then he’d be back in school and wouldn’t have to worry until Christmas. If he was really lucky he might be able to persuade them to let him stay at school…or better still go to James’.
Ace sighed. That was the other thing causing him to lose sleep. James. James had always been Ace’s best friend. They’d bonded since the day they started at the school when they were five. At that time, James still had a little vision and he insisted Ace was a fairy. He also insisted on following him everywhere and holding his hand whenever he could. Later, Ace realized that part of it was fear.
James’ family had sent him to the school for very different reasons his own family had. Ace had been send to Brookwood Academy For The Visually Impaired because it was the best boarding school his parents could buy. They could assuage their guilt by telling themselves and their friends that they were doing everything they could for their flawed offspring. At least, as it was an exclusive school, he’d be mixing with the right kind of blind children, with families who wouldn’t judge them on their failure to make perfect children. Maybe they’d expected him to make friends with a blind prince or something.
James, on the other hand, had parents who genuinely wanted him to do well in life and be as independent as he possibly could. They’d chosen he school not for how much it cost but on what it could actually do for their child. They looked at results not the roll. Mrs Richmond tolerated Mrs Thomas because the family was wealthy and influential. She didn’t like her. She didn’t like James either, because he was everything Ace wasn’t. Fearless, brash, wild and uncaring. Sure he got hurt. He was always nursing bruises at best, but he truly lived. In fact, he squeezed life by the throat until sheer joy burst out, then he rode it as far as he could before he fell off. Just by being his friend, Ace found himself basking in the shower of sparks he left in his wake. Mrs Richmond would drop dead on the spot if she found out half the things Ace got up to with James.
All of this made Ace smile, but it started to go off the rails a bit when he thought about visiting James for his birthday. He wanted to go. Oh hell yes. He was counting the minutes, but…. Recently, James had got kind of… weird. Sometimes, Ace could sense James staring at him, and he’d go quiet and kind of…intense. Then there were the hugs. James had always been tactile, but recently he’d been holding on just a little too long to be entirely comfortable. Sometimes, James’ voice would get husky or kind of wistful and the things he said seemed to have more meaning that Ace could catch.
It was all very confusing but also…troubling. The problem was, that when James did all these things, it made Ace feel weird. Kind of fluttery inside. Hot and tingly. All the boys talked about sex. Hell, they were nearly sixteen. Some of them claimed to have actually done it, but Ace wasn’t sure he believed them. Next year, they’d be allowed to go down to town unaccompanied by teachers, as long as there were at least two of them and he’d heard there were plenty of girls more than willing to teach the blind boys a thing or two. He’d never really taken part in those conversations. He wasn’t interested in sex. In fact, he’d begun to worry about that a little. Was it normal for a sixteen-year-old to not think about sex all the time?
Only, now he was thinking about it. He was thinking about it a lot. Dreaming about it. He’d caught himself in daydreams, with his hand wandering over his body, and woken in the morning to a damp bed and memories of blue eyes. The problem was, he wasn’t dreaming of girls. He was dreaming of James and he had a pretty good idea James was dreaming about him, too.
He knew what gay was, of course. He wasn’t stupid, and there were a few relationships at the school. There always were at boys only schools, or so he was told. He’d tried to tell himself that living and working so closely with boys of all ages, who really understood his life and the struggles he had to achieve things others took for granted, made it inevitable that he would think of boys “in that way”, even if he wasn’t gay.
So what if he was? Would it really make a difference? He was a freak anyway, so would it be so much worse to be a gay freak? Well…yeah it would. Nick and Logan would be totally unbearable and what if his parents threw him out on the streets? How would he survive? Without school what would he have? Would James’ parents take care of him? Or would they hate him, too. Just because they were so open and sensible about James’ blindness, and just because they were nice, didn’t mean they’d accept James being gay any more than the Richmonds would accept Ace.
A loud hammering on his door startled him out of a light doze. “Get up, fag. We’re going out.”
Ace sat up, his heart hammering. Had he talked in his sleep? Had someone overheard him? Did someone know?
The hammering came again. “Get your stupid arse dressed. We can’t go until you’re here. Just do it.”
Thunderous footsteps raced down the stairs and Ace fell back, shivering as his racing heart slowed. It was just Logan. Logan and Nick always called things like ‘fag’ and ‘gay’ just because he had long hair. He must never let them know they were right.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Boy in the Attic - Chapter Eight James, Give Me Strength

Ace slammed the door to his room, and locked it carefully. Even so, he was careful to check thoroughly before he permitted himself to walk with his usual confidence.
The room was filled with soft sounds, even before he turned on his music. Most of them were alarms of some kind. He worked his way through them, until he was sitting in front of his computer, with a cold can of Coke from his mini fridge, and a plate of snacks. One thing he could give his mother credit for was keeping his snack cupboard up here well-stocked. He was sure it was just another reason to prevent him from going downstairs. From his mother’s point-of-view, the only time Ace was safe was when he was safely inside his room. In this house, she was right.
Running his hand through his hair, Ace allowed his hands to roam over the familiar keyboard and the last of the alarms whispered into silence. Barely moments later, it started again. Ace smiled. That was exactly what he’d hoped for.
“Hey you, where have you been?”
Ace had never been so glad James was blind. He knew he looked a mess, and the last thing he wanted was for his friend to know how rattled he was. He swiped the back of his hand across his nose, wiping tears of self-pity from his cheek at the same time. Maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea after all.
“What’s wrong?”
“What makes you think something’s wrong?”
“Don’t bullshit me, Richmond, what’s happened?”
Ace sniffed. Who had he been kidding? He could never hide anything from James. “Just came back from the hospital.”
“The hospital? What the fuck happened? Are you okay?”
The concern in James’ voice warmed the cold place that had been growing inside Ace’s chest since he’d returned to his room after lunch to find that, in the short time it had taken him to recover from Logan’s assault and make the decision to lock the door of his room, Logan had run up the stairs and thrown a handful of marbles in through the door. Ace had always felt safe in his room and hadn’t been on guard when he stood on the marble and came crashing down on his bad shoulder.
Whether by good or bad fortune his mother had heard his yells and come running up the stairs. Ace would never know if her curses had all been because of his pain or because she’d seen the marbles. In any event, she’d bundled him up and drove him to the hospital for a professional assessment on his shoulder. He’d been in so much pain he hadn’t argued. After four hours at the hospital, more pain than he could ever remember, and a bagful of drugs he couldn’t wait to swallow, Ace was home with his arm in a sling and a warning to keep the shoulder moving or it would get stiff. His mother told him he should be thankful it was nothing more than a sprain. Ace couldn’t find much comfort in that.
“You know I hurt my shoulder at school with that stupid frieze?”
“I fell on it and it hurt so much my mother made me go get it checked. It’s fine. Just have to wear a sling for a couple of days, and if it doesn’t get better I might have to have physiotherapy. It’s nothing major, just me feeling sorry for myself.”
“How did you fall?”
There was something dangerous in James’ voice and Ace didn’t want to say another word, but the need to get everything off his chest was too great and in the end he told James about the marbles.
“I’m going to kill him. I don’t know when or how, but someday, somehow, I’m going to kill the bastard.”
Ace shivered. He knew James didn’t mean what he said, no matter how serious he sounded, but he also knew that James would find some way, short of murder, to pay Logan back.
“Please, James, don’t. For all his faults, Logan is my brother, and I don’t want to see him hurt. Besides, if you do anything I’ll get blamed. Just let it lie. Anyway, it won’t be long before I’m safe with you.”
James growled. “You should be safe there. It’s your home. Your mother is so fucking worried about danger everywhere, why can’t she see how dangerous it is in her own fucking house?”
“Stop swearing,” Ace said automatically. He’d never been completely comfortable with swearing, and James did it a lot.
“Oh for fuck sake, stop trying to divert the topic.”
“I wasn’t. I just don’t like too much swearing. You know that.”
Speaking with James always made Ace feel stronger and calmer. James’ unhesitating support and righteous anger on Ace’s behalf could be worrying sometime but it always made him feel better. He smiled at the screen, even though he knew James couldn’t see him.
“You’re my knight in shining armour,” he said.
“What?” James snapped, no doubt thinking it was another ploy to divert the topic. He’d be half right.
“You always come rushing in to my defence, no matter what, like a knight on a charger.”
“Oh for God’s sake, Richmond, you sound like a bloody….”
“A what?”
“A goddamn princess.”
Ace laughed out loud. “I’m a princess in a tower, and you’re my knight. Come rescue me, Sir Knight. Save me from the horrible people who keep me prisoner and want to murder me.”
I want to murder you right now.”
Ace smiled. He could tell that James was amused and that the amusement had, at least temporarily, killed his anger. To be truthful, he couldn’t give James answers to any of his questions. He’d asked them to himself often enough, and had come up with nothing. All he knew was that if he tried to make a fuss it made everything a whole lot worse and he was always the one who came off badly. Even when his parents did take his part against Logan or Nick the fallout was horrible.
“Don’t make me talk about all this shit, James,” Ace pleaded. “Talk about things that make me happy.”
“I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about those things on a computer,” James said, his voice suddenly husky. “My mother might read them.”
“That’s not what I was talking about and you know it.”
“I bet you’d love me to talk dirty to you, wouldn’t you?”
“Yeah right. Dream on.”

Friday, 14 October 2016

The Boy In the Attic Chapter 7 - Afternoon Sunshine

If you want to read the previous chapters please go here

Time passed slowly, as always, but that suited Ace fine. The faster time passed, the sooner his brothers would be home. They wouldn’t bother him, because he made sure to keep the door locked when they were in the house, but somehow just knowing they were nearby placed him on edge. At times like this, he wished he could go walk in a park or maybe on a beach. He’d never been near the sea, because his mother thought it was a dangerous environment. His mother thought a lot of places were dangerous. Ace sighed. Thank heaven for school. At least his parents had done one thing right in choosing the school. He felt almost normal when he was there.
A crash from outside jolted Ace out of a doze. He listened intently and heard Logan curse. Oh great! Surely, it couldn’t be four already. Straining his sensitive ears, Ace heard the door slam and Logan’s voice yelling for their mother. Ace slipped off the window seat and padded silently to the door, which he unlocked as quietly as he could. There were no pounding footsteps on the stairs, so Logan wasn’t coming up. It was fairly safe to creep down to the first floor where he could hear better.
Ace was in luck, Mrs Richmond met Logan in the hall.
“What on earth is all the commotion? Is everything alright? Is Ace hurt?”
“Ace? Why does he have to come into everything? This has nothing to do with Ace.”
“Then what does it have to do with, dear?”
There was a long pause, and Ace wished he could see what Logan was doing. It didn’t sound as if he was moving around.
“Out with it. You’re not in trouble are you? What have I told you about fighting?”
“I wasn’t fighting,” Logan snapped.
“Then what are you doing home from school so early?”
Ah, so it wasn’t four o’clock.
“Well what?”
“Well….” Logan heaved a sigh. “It wasn’t my fault.”
Uh oh.
“What have you done?”
“I told you, I haven’t done anything. Jamie Deacon, he’s captain of the football team, overheard me telling Jack about what happened at the freak school and he said I shouldn’t call Ace a freak and I told him to mind his own business.”
So much for “What does it have to do with Ace”, then.
“You said you hadn’t got into a fight.”
“I didn’t. We didn’t. One of the teacher overheard and I got sent to the headmaster for what I said about Ace. He sent me home “to think about it” and I have to talk to the school liaison about some pc shit tomorrow.”
“Don’t swear, Logan.”
Uh oh, his mother sounded mad. Time to make a strategic retreat. He really didn’t want to know what she had to say because it would be more of the same old and he would much rather not listen to himself being talked about as if he was…well, a freak. Did his mother really not see that the things she said about him weren’t all that much different to what Logan and Nick said. She didn’t actually use the world “freak” but she might as well have.
As Ace stepped back, his foot caught on something. Damn, he’d forgotten to check the stairs. He didn’t fall, but he did stumble and made a noise that was clearly heard from downstairs.
“Ace? is that you?”
Ace seriously considered sneaking back upstairs. He could probably make it before Logan could get to him and he had a fair chance of being quiet enough for them not to hear. However, they’d both heard him and he’d never get away with pretending it hadn’t been him. He was terrible at lying.
“I’m sorry to eavesdrop,” he said, carefully making his way down the stairs. “I was coming down to get something to eat.”
“Oh Ace dear, I’m so sorry. I forgot to get you lunch. I’m in the middle of baking. There’s a fete at the church on Saturday and I promised to provide some cakes. I have no idea why because I don’t even go to church.” She sighed. “Oh well, I suppose a quick sandwich will have to do.”
“I’ll make it.”
“Don’t be silly, you can’t make sandwiches, you’ll make a mess and you might hurt yourself.”
“We make sandwiches at school and I manage not to cut my fingers off or burn down the kitchen.”
“Yes, well, I’m sure you do, but that’s not a proper kitchen, is it?”
“No, of course not, it’s made of lego.”
There was a pause when Ace was pretty sure they were both staring at him with puzzled expressions, then Logan said, “You’re such a prick, Ace.”
“Logan. Your language. You’re lucky I need to make lunch for Ace, but I can assure you this conversation is not over. Go to your room and we’ll talk later, when your father gets home.”
“Can I have a sandwich?”
“You still have your packed lunch.”
“Yeah, but─”
“Go to your room, Logan. Don’t make this any worse than it has to be.”
“But it’s not fair. I didn’t do anything wrong. I can say what I like about Ace. He is freak. And I didn’t swear that much.”
“Swearing? You didn’t mention that little bit of information.”
“Sorry, Mum. It wasn’t bad swearing. Not really.”
“Room. Now.”
Ace drew back as Logan’s thunderous footsteps started up the stairs, but not far enough. Somehow, even though he flattened himself against the wall as much as he could, Logan managed to jab and elbow into his side, hard enough to make him double over. That jarred his shoulder and he had to grit his teeth to keep from crying out. He was not going to give his brother the satisfaction.
Mrs Richmond said nothing, she was already on her way back to the kitchen and probably wouldn’t have seen. Ace was glad. If she’d seen, she would have yelled at Logan and that would just have made things worse. With a sinking heard, Ace realized he’d left his door unlocked. He was now faced with a choice. Either he could go back up and lock the door, in which case he’d get told off by his mother for being so long, or he could go straight to the kitchen, get his lunch and take it back up as soon as he could, hoping Logan wouldn’t have gone into his room and done anything nasty while he was gone.
Ace shivered and headed back up the stairs.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

We are FAILING our Rainbow Youth

First, who am I? I'm a writer of LGBT books for young people. I'll make it clear to begin with that I use LGBT only as a convenient shorthand for ALL people of the Rainbow Community. I myself am on the ACE spectrum and am just squeezing under the edge of the Rainbow umbrella. I write characters who are gay, bi, trans, intersex, genderfluid, blind, mentally challenged, autistic and a whole spectrum of other wonderful things.


This post is not about abbreviations, umbrellas or where one fits under it. This post is about my concern for our young people and how I, and those like me can, and must, help them.

The statistics regarding suicide rates among Rainbow Youth are frankly frightening. 

LGBT youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers.
Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt. (source The Trevor Project)

So what can a writer do to help? Potentially a whole lot. Suicide rates are vastly increased in young people who are not supported by their families and have no positive role models. They struggle with finding acceptance, and a place for themselves in a world geared to an 'ideal' into which they don't fit.

Television programs, films, books, music etc are all aimed at straight, cis, men and women and contain very few characters from the Rainbow Community. This hardly engenders a supportive environment for young people questioning and exploring their place in the world.

I've received emails from young people in distress, with one theme, one message - thank you for writing characters who are just like me, I never thought I'd see it.

And so many STILL don't see it, because although it's out there it's not in bookstores or libraries, and even if it were they wouldn't know about it.

Yes, the LGBT genre as a whole is getting more recognition, although not a lot, but the majority of LGBT books are not inspirational to young people. Some are harrowing tales of struggle with no happy endings, while by far the largest number are romances aimed at adults, and although by no means all, most of them are erotica.

I'm not saying erotica doesn't have its place, of course it does, and I write adult books too - but under another name and in another place. I'm also not saying there is no sex at all in any of my young adult books. Young adults, after all, have sex. However, it's not blatant, it's not much and it's only when necessary to the plot. Don't read my books if you're looking for scorching hot sex scenes scattered through them. There are plenty of other books out there that do. Nephy Hart writes good ones ;)

It worries me that some of the tweets and emails I've recived tell me that reading my book has saved a life, at least for now. No teen should ever feel that way; EVER. To write to an author and say 'you saved me' is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. To think something I wrote was capable of doing that is great, but the fact that someone was so desperate they actually wrote to an author and poured out their hearts because no one else was listening is awful and should never be necessary. That being said I'm always here for my readers and anyone else who needs a listening ear and a kind word.

I repeat LGBT books aimed at young adults should and MUST become mainstream. They MUST be in every library. They MUST be in major and minor bookstores around the country (and every country where it's legal). They MUST be in supermarkets and malls, schools and colleges. They MUST be on books lists and winning prizes. It would be nice if they were mine but that doesn't matter; what matters is that someone; anyone, is out there making a difference.

Major publishers and agents don't even look at LGBT books

So if you know of a good LGBT writer of young adult books shout about it, tweet about it, demand the media, the publishing world; in fact, the whole world sit up, take notice and DO something. If you don't know one, find one.

You might just save a life


Monday, 25 July 2016

Shade's Champion. Deal of the Day at ARe 27.07.16



Shade's Champion is a moving, rollercoaster ride, telling the story of two very different and very broken boys, who find a friendship that leads them both toward the healing they desperately need. Of course, their path is not easy, it never is, but Shade's Champion follows them every step of the way, through trials and triumphs, hope and fear, joy and pain.

Shade has been kept in the dark for eight long years. Now he’s facing a world that terrifies him. A world that seems to hold no place for him.

When the authorities are unable to find a home for Shade, Penny, reluctantly accepts him into the secure school she manages, despite thinking it’s the wrong place for him. Penny fears for his safety among the other troubled children. In an attempt to forestall the disaster she predicts will happen she appoints one of them as his champion.

Dory, an engaging seventeen year old with mental health issues, is proud to be chosen as Shade’s champion and throws his heart and soul into the job. In doing so he is forced to face the thing he fears most – his own emotions.

An unexpected friendship begins to grow into something more, until a spiteful act tears them apart and leaves them broken.

When Dory falls ill, Shade is forced to face his demons and struggles to find the strength and courage he needs to fight for the right to love, and to be there for his champion when he needs him most.


Shade flinched and moaned. “No,” he whispered. “Please, no.”

“No, what?” Dory asked, bending closer to hear. The next thing he knew, Shade had grabbed him, pulled him down, and was kissing him in a way that stole his breath. He’d never been kissed like this. In fact, he’d never really been kissed at all. With a gasp, he let Shade put his arms around him and draw him down, burying one hand in his hair to massage his scalp. Dory whimpered and moaned as the sensations sent a jolt of electricity straight to his groin.

Suppressed sexual urges he’d kept under strict control surged through him, and he threw himself into the kiss with desperate hunger. When Shade’s hand slipped under his Tshirt and stroked the hot skin on his back he almost lost it. Almost. But something was off. Something wasn’t right. Shade was whimpering, but it wasn’t with desire, and the kiss tasted salty. Concern cut through his endorphin-drugged mind, and he raised his head to find Shade was crying. It hit him like a slap in the face, and he struggled out of Shade’s embrace.

“Stop,” he cried, trying to catch his breath. “Just stop.”

Panic hit him. This was wrong. He wasn’t supposed to do it, and he’d made Shade cry. Shade was going to tell, and they were going to take him away to the hospital again. This was just like when he was angry, probably even worse. He didn’t want to go to the hospital. He didn’t want to talk about this; it would be horribly embarrassing. Most of all he didn’t want to be drugged, for them to change his medication again. He was just starting to feel okay. Dammit, he was starting to feel. And now he’d screwed up again. And worst of all, he’d let Penny down. Some champion he’d turned out to be. It had lasted all of five minutes. Now they’d all be disappointed in him and that was the worst thing of all.

Before he knew it, he found himself backed into a corner, hugging his knees and rocking. Someone was touching him. Usually when he was having a panic attack he couldn’t bear being touched, but somehow this was different. This was… okay. Gradually, as he got himself under control, he became aware of a voice.

“It’s okay. It’s okay, I’m here. It’s okay.”

Surprised, he raised his head and found himself staring into Shade’s golden eyes. “We’re not allowed,” Dorien croaked, and Shade nodded.

“I’m sorry,” Shade said.

“W… why? Why did you…?”

“I thought…. I thought I was… back there.” Shade’s voice was low and kind of distant, as if he wasn’t used to using it and had to think about every word before he said it. Of course it wasn’t helping that he was slurring because of the medication. All in all, it was quite difficult for Dorien to understand him.


“I… I thought….” Shade shook his head, crawled over to the bed, and sat with his back to it, hugging his knees.

“Thought what?” Intrigued now, Dorien forgot all about the panic attack. They were always no more than sudden storms in his usually sunny sky.

Shade shook his head.

“Is it somewhere bad?”

“Yes.” Shade looked scared now, and hunched like Dorien had moments before. Now it was Dorien’s turn to put a reassuring hand on Shade’s knee. Shade flinched.

“Don’t. I’m not going to hurt you.” Shade closed his eyes and shuddered.

“What’s wrong? What did I do?” Dorien snatched his hand back, worried he’d messed up again. “You’re okay. We can touch like that, to comfort people, you know. We can hug, too, just little ones. We’re just not allowed to touch, you know, inappropriately.”

Shade still looked scared, and panic slammed into Dorien again.

“You’re not going to tell, are you? You… you’d probably be okay, because you’re new, but…. Please, Shade. I’m not supposed to…. They’ll take me back to the hospital and I’ll have to…. Please. They’ll drug me again and I hate that. Please. Please don’t tell. I won’t do it again. I just… I can’t help it. It’s…. I’m… I’m supposed to… but you were…. And I, I did try.”

The gentle touch on his arm and soft words, “I’m sorry,” brought him suddenly back to reality. He sat back and his eyes met Shade’s. There was still a lot of fear there, but something else, too, something soft and kind and worried.

“I… I’m not supposed to let myself get carried away. I’m especially not supposed to let… well… those kinds of feelings get a hold of me. I have to learn to control myself. I don’t have any, see, control that is. I can’t control anything. That’s why I’m dangerous. That’s why I’m here.”

“Why…? Why am I here?”

“I’m not sure. I think it’s because you want to hurt yourself, and you have to be watched.”

“Oh. Yes.”

“Why do you want to hurt yourself? I’d never do that, no matter how bad it got, because it always gets better in the end, and mostly I like my life. At least most of it… mostly. Sometimes it’s hard, but it gets better, and one day I’m going to be able to live on my own. They don’t think I can, but I’ll prove them wrong. I will get control. I will.”

Shade smiled and nodded. “I believe you.”


Ms. Headford said it’s not a romance but I have to disagree with her here. In a way that was the most beautiful love story I read this year. It is this pure love that helps her broken boys find the strength they carry inside on their winding road and makes them whole again.
                                                         Rian's Randomness

I normally place stories into 3 main categories; paranormal, science fiction and the rest go into a general fiction category.

That being said, I have had the honor and privilege of reading an advanced copy of Shade’s Champion and I can honestly say that it is the best piece of fiction I’ve ever read...

...If you only read 1 book a year, make sure it’s Shade’s Champion.
                                                                              Jim Dunaway