Now a soft kiss…

– Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss. John Keats


Happy Valentine’s Day!

I thought it might be fun to share some of my characters thoughts on Valentine’s day. Either their thoughts, or what they do, or gifts they’ve received.

Motts (Primrose Poison): Over commercialised nonsense–but I sell a lot of paper bouquets so I won’t complain.

Francis (After the Scrum): I love a romantic day. You have to be creative, though. Who needs flowers or chocolate? Caddock found me a 17th-century desk to refurbish, the best gift I’ve ever received. He was also naked on it, so happy Valentine’s Day to me.

Davet (At War with a Broken Heart): Not bothered by cards. Chocolate and coffee make me happy.

Elaine (The Misguided Confession): If I get one more bouquet of flowers, I will riot all over London.

Tosh (One Last Heist): We played cops and robbers last Valentine’s day. I got to be the copper. We might’ve accidentally lost the handcuff keys.

Ivy (Ivy, The Blackbird Anthology): Best gift ever? The handmade card Gareth and Steve had the kids make for me.



(Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay)



I thought it might be fun to share the best gifts my characters have received–whether within a story or off the page.

  1. Woody (Pure Dumb Luck) – a signed football from his favourite professional player.
  2. BC (The Wanderer) – the news that Graham was cancer free.
  3. Bishan (The Grasmere Trilogy) – a piano, Valor had to do something with his inheritance.
  4. Ridge (By The Fire) – a 1936 Ford Roadster that needed work.
  5. Kaito (By The Fire) – a photo album filled with family photos.
  6. Ivan (Forged in Flood) – his grandfather’s motorcycle.
  7. Fie (At War With A Broken Heart) – Haggard.
  8. Gray (The Lion Tamer) – His restaurant.
  9. Francis (After The Scrum) – a signed first edition of A Study in Scarlet.
  10. Valor (The Grasmere Trilogy) – a Bishan gnome.

(Image by Yvette Fang from Pixabay)

Silent Night

It’s always fun to share music playlists.

I wrote By The Fire in July. I don’t recommend writing a holiday-themed book in the summer. It’s a real pain.

So, here’s the music I listened to all through the summer.

  1. Both of Pentatonix’s holiday albums.
  2. Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong album
  3. Michael Brech’s holiday album
  4. Victorian Christmas by Heavenly Angelic Light Orchestra
  5. An English Christmas Cheer in Song and Carols


Deck The Halls.

giphy-downsized (4)

When I start a story, nine times out of ten, I’ve already figured out the title. Every once in a while, I end up having to change it midway through. (Forged in Flood, for example, was The Blacksmith even after I’d finished it then I had to change the title. The Misguided Confession also went through a name change midway.)

My latest holiday short story definitely fit into the one time out of ten.

It went through several different titles.

First, it was Screw You Santa Clause, but the story changed enough the title didn’t fit.

Then came a few different ideas I bounced around with my beta readers: Dim The Lights, Broken Baubles, Holiday Heartbreak. None of those fit the story that was developing. I find it really difficult to write without a title. Almost every time, I have a title beforehand.

So, three chapters into By The Fire, I just hated Broken Baubles as a holiday title. It wasn’t working. Every time I pulled up the word document, the title annoyed me so much.

So much.

I spent an entire day looking through holiday phrases, listening to songs, etc.

And then, By The Fire hit me.

It was perfect.

It said what I wanted to say. I wanted this holiday novella to be about romance and comfort. What’s more comforting than sitting beside a fireplace?

If you’re an author, do you start your story with or without a title already decided?