Blood & Milk
Earlier this week, I mentioned how the cogs were slow-turning, getting some books distributed to all retailers. Well, it’s finally happened!!
Blood & Milk is now available at:
iBooks: Book 1 Book 2
I don’t know how long they’ll be available at these sites before they go back to Amazon only, so be quick!!
It’s almost April, and boy is it going to be a busy month for me. I have a release, a blog tour, a bookbub featured deal, and some other secret squirrel stuff happening, AND I’m also away for 20 days of it. I highly doubt I’ll be online much over the next month and would urge anyone who needs to reach me to email (not PM or tagging on FB because I just won’t see them). It also means I won’t get much writing done, so it will be a while before my next books come out. As frustrating as it is, these things can’t be helped, I guess.
My next book, which I hope to start this week, is Yanni’s Story. You might remember Yanni from the Spencer Cohen Series. I’m really looking forward to letting his story unfold. I imagine there will be some angst, but it will mostly be a story of healing, age-gap/daddy-kink 🙂
Imagines now has an official blurb!
Jack Brighton and Lawson Gale have been together for six months and are very much in love. Lawson’s work ensuring the survival of the Tillman Copper is demanding as ever, and Jack’s work with the regeneration of the bushfire-ravaged national park is just as hectic.
When Jack suggests they take a short trip, Lawson agrees. But then he is offered a two-week research position in tropical Queensland to help determine why the Ulysses butterfly is on the decline. Figuring they could combine work and pleasure, Jack and Lawson go on their first vacation together.
Working alongside renowned professor Piers Bonfils isn’t easy. But personal and professional differences aside, Lawson is offered a more permanent role in Queensland. Torn between his new life in Tasmania with Jack and a dying species of butterfly he feels compelled to save, Lawson has to decide where his fate lies.
But fate changes the rules. On a research expedition into the depths of the rainforest, suddenly it’s not only the butterflies’ existence that hangs in the balance
A butterfly’s life cycle never changes. From larvae to imago, their course is plotted by design. Jack and Lawson need to determine where they stand, if they live through it. Because the only thing more incredible than one imago is two.
RELEASE DATE: April 10th
I’ve also taken three books out of the Amazon exclusivity clause. This gives folks who don’t/can’t/won’t use Amazon to buy at other stores like iBooks, B&N, Kobo, etc. I do try and move all my books around to keep it fair, though it’s not always an easy feat and sometimes I forget… (I blame writer-brain for that LOL)
First, my Gay Sex Club Stories, written as A. Voyeur, can now be found at the following outlets:
And Blood & Milk can now be found at the following outlets:
For some strange reason, Smashwords is taking aaaaaages to assess the files for distribution to iBooks, B&N, Kobo. Normally they’re super quick and only take a day or two, but these are going on five days without any word. Fingers crossed it won’t be much longer. I’ll post links ASAP.
In audio news, Red Dirt Heart 3 has been scheduled for October, and production for Cronin’s Key is due to start real soon! I’ll be sure to keep you posted on any updates I have!
That’s it for this week! I will try to keep posting updates during April though there may be a week or two where I can’t. Until next week…
Sorry for the lack of post last week – I was away and had no chance (or wifi) to post anything. I’ll also be away this week, so by the time you guys read this I’ll be in Sydney. I have four days there, then finally come home for three days before the kids go back to school. Hopefully life will resume to normal then. I’ve been so absent on social media as well that I feel a disconnect with my writing life. IDK. It’s been such a busy and bizarre month and I miss that daily interaction with the wonderful people who have become not just online friends but real friends as well. Fingers crossed everything settles down soon.
My writing last week was very minimal. I think I did 4K words all up, which is nowhere near my usual quota. My current WIP, which I’ve tentatively titled “The weight of it all” is at 22K words. I have no clue how long it will be but I’m estimating around the 40K word mark.
My other short story, titled Perfect Catch, is back from proofreaders and will be ready for release in October as part of an anthology. I’ll be posting more on that later, but I’m really excited and can’t wait until I can share more news. 🙂
Excuse the dodgy lighting and bad photography, but here are some photos of the paperback proof…
I’m still waiting on final proofreading of my German translation of Red Dirt Heart. I was hoping to have it released already but with me being away it just couldn’t happen. Hopefully it will be out very soon!
But the audio for Red Dirt Heart went live!!! I’m so excited about this! And there has been some GREAT reviews already! Joel did a fabulous job bringing Charlie and Travis to life! And again, a huge thanks to RJ Scott and Love Lane Books for making it happen.
Sooo, what’s new this week? Well, I’ll be away for four days of it. We leave early Monday and get home late Thursday, so I doubt there will be much writing done at all. I’m really behind on my schedule and can’t see any hope of catching up, let alone getting ahead. But I’ll just keep going with all I can because as all writers know, even a few hundred words a day helps to add up. My lack of word count isn’t writer’s block, it’s just lack of time and real life being crazy, which is truly frustrating because ALL I want to do is write and I can’t. For now, the characters in my current WIP are being patient, however my next books’ characters are already starting to talk in my head, so I definitely know who I’m writing next LOL
I also have accounts/taxes to do this week which I’ve been a total fail at. I seriously need an assistant. Or a clone. Or an extra day in the week. Or more coffee… Actually, all four would be great. 🙂
So that’s all I have to report on just now. I hope everyone is well, and with all the craziness happening in the world right now, I want to take this opportunity to wish all my readers peace and love.
Until next week…
Can you believe this year is literally half over? That means we’ll have to start thinking about Christmas soon… *head desk* Not to mention I have six week overseas family trip in September/October to plan and organise. Man, I am so not ready for that. LOL
Okay, so this week has been super busy. Blood & Milk is out and the reviews on Amazon have been wonderfully positive and heartfelt. I would like to thank everyone who took a chance on reading. I have also received more emails from readers about this book (in the first few days of release) than any other book. Your messages of love and support truly mean a lot to me, so thank you everyone, from the bottom of my heart. <3 <3
In news of the charity fundraising, I estimate by the end of the first week alone we will have raised about $400USD for the African Human Rights Coalition. I will be sure to keep you posted with updates.
I also have some exciting translation news! Red Dirt Heart is coming out in German!! I’m just waiting on proofreading, which hopefully won’t take long, then I can format it and get it live asap. Rote Erde 1 will be out soon, and I’m super excited about this!
Something else I’m ridiculously excited about is Red Dirt Heart in Audio is due out any day!! This is my first ever audio book and the narrator, the wonderful Joel Froomkin has graciously held my hand throughout the entire process 🙂
The lovely RJ Scott and Love Lane Books will be releasing it asap! I can’t wait for you guys to hear this book. Just listening to it, I laughed and cried – hearing my own words is an amazing thing. And man, I have missed these boys – Charlie still means as much to me now as he did two years ago.
In other news, my WIP (not sure on the title yet…) is at 10K. I estimate it will maybe be around 40K words, but we all know how characters do whatever the hell they want and I, being the lowly writer, have no say in such things. LOL My main character (it’s first person pov) is Henry Beckett and his love interest is Reed Henske, and it’s set in Balmain, Sydney. And I’m aiming/hoping for a release in early September. More details on that later.
What’s happening this coming week? Well, another busy one (no surprises to those who know me lol) It’s EOFY here in Australia (end of financial year) and I haven’t done ANY of my accounts yet, so that needs to be a priority. I also need to write as much as physically possible, as school holidays start on Friday and I’ll be away for all of the first week and half of the second week, so my writing time will be almost zero for the two weeks after this one. Not to mention the RL stuff I have going on…
That also means there might not be a post next week (as I won’t be home) and my online time will also be very minimal, but I will try and schedule something.
Something a little different this week. This is release week! And it’s with great pleasure that I can introduce someone very special to me, and special to my book, Blood & Milk.
Santa Aziz first contacted me a little while ago as a reader, to express her love for my books. She mentioned she was from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and I was instantly intrigued! We exchanged a few emails, and I was floored that my books had reached someone in Africa!
Skip ahead a few months, and in our conversations I mentioned my WIP (work in progress) and how it was set in Tanzania with the Maasai people. I also explained how I was so unsure whether publishing the book was even going to happen because I feared I would be wrong, or worse, disrespectful, in some way. I mean, research is great but pales in comparison to experiencing first hand, or having ever been there.
Then Santa shared with me her history and experiences, and I almost fell off my chair! I begged her to read my first draft – not that it took much begging because she was super excited LOL. And beta-read she did. Her feedback was fantastic and heartfelt, and any reservations about publishing Blood & Milk were gone. After spending weeks wondering if I should/could/would publish it, I read her email telling me my words give African LGBT people hope, and I sent the manuscript to my editor that very day.
Blood & Milk, without any doubt in my mind, would never be published without her input, her experience with Maasai, and her encouragement so the people she knows and encounters daily could have a book they identify with.
So please let me welcome Santa Aziz S. to my blog! I hope you don’t mind my gushing introduction LOL Please tell everyone a little bit about yourself…
SA: Hi N.R, wow, this is like a dream come true. I am very honoured to be the one you picked among your countless fans! Thank you for all!
Soooo, I am Santa Aziz S., I am a Congolese citizen from Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. I am a mother of a beautiful, adorable (drive me crazy) 14 months old girl; I’m straight and a LGBTQ activist which specialized in orphanages and homeless shelters. I am the General Director of a local NGO, Maisha Mazuri, A Better World for all of us, (also known as ABW). Maisha Mazuri is Swahili which means “a better life”.
I L-O-V-E to read! Fiction or non-fiction altogether. I am French literate so please, excuse me if I rumble a bit…lol. But I grew up in English speaking countries which are an added bonus.
My passion to help LGBTQ centre comes from the fact that I have great grandparents from Portugal on my mom side and great grandparents from Pakistan from my father side, I am Muslim and live in Christian country, I am a woman and believe me, all that is a good combination to be at the front of discrimination. I tend to believe it is because of that I can easily relate to those who are discriminated based on their sexual orientation.
NRW: Wow. Your work is phenomenal! And helping so many young LGBTQ people is a remarkable achievement. <3
I spend my week working and looking after my two kids, driving them to and from their sporting commitments. If I do have some downtime (which isn’t very often) I love to spend it reading. Explain a typical week for you.
SA: I wish I could be like you super mom, but noooo. My typical week is….mmhhhh…. from Monday to Friday I have work. On Thursday, I go to a support group to help with logistic on karate lesson for women. On Friday I might go out with my friends. On weekend, I am 90% at ABW and 10% chasing my daughter around.
NRW: I think it’s safe to assume you’re more than a super mum!! LOL You’ve lived in many parts of Africa, and spent two years in Tanzania? What was it like? What was your favourite and not-so favourite thing of your time there?
SA: let me start with the least favourite thing! Well, you know how everywhere people have their customs and habits? In Tanzania is gossip! It’s like their hobby or something. I hated it, still do. They ask so personal question even if they don’t know you and like to gossip…much more than corrupting! Ooppss.
I have spent 2 years straight in Tanzania, and I kid you not, it is everything that you see in pamphlets and travel agencies brochures. It was a blast and so much more. I have drank so much “madafu”, coconut water… eating seafood in various cooking style (from Indian to Arusha style). It was there I had to perfect my Swahili. I travelled inside the country up to Ujiji in Kigoma. And my eyes almost fell out my eyes when my aunt house was opposite to the legendary museum, where David Livingstone met Henry Morton Stanley in 1871! If you are wondering who are those dudes… well, thank God Wikipedia and Google are there for that hahahaha.
NRW: Speaking of food, as part of your feedback for Blood & Milk, you mention ugali. It is something Damu and Alé eat a lot of. You even showed me pictures which I added to this post. (It looked delicious, I might add 🙂 It reminds me a lot of Indian food, which we see a lot of in Australia) Is ugali a staple in your diet? Can you explain to our readers what it is? And what other foods are traditional for you?
SA: Ugali is a must in my diet! A MUST!! It can be cooked with maize flour, cassava bread flour, sorghum, semolina, soy and even better corn flour. Typically, is like a hot bread without yeast and not cooked in the oven. The flour is dropped into boiling water and we stir it up with a special spoon called “mwiko” for a dough shape like consistency and it is eaten with hands (right one of course). Better to eat it with vegetables, sauce, meats etc.
Other traditional foods:
- Beans: cooked with palm oil
- Caterpillar: yes, yes…but yummy, typical for DRC
- Sukuma wiki: it is a vegetable commonly eaten in Kenya
- Bokoboko: it is rice, overcooked rice like a porridge which is mixed with camel meat or sheep meat or even goat meat eaten with a “sour/bitter/sweet” sauce composed with goat fat, dry grapes, sugar, garlic, vinegar, onions and cinnamon ( muslim)
- Chapatti: made with corn flour in dough, then rolled flat in a circular form like a pizza and fried with a quarter spoon of oil in a pan for 10 to 20 seconds. Eaten with vegetables/ beans/ eggplants/minced meats/duck gizzard
- Futari: it is a combination of tubers boiled with salt, palm oil, tomatoes and onions, sometimes we can add beans or peas.
There are so much traditional foods but nothing is really good without a good hot “pilipili” (various kinds) which is pepper.
NRW: Something a little more serious: In Blood & Milk, both Damu and Alé are subject to discrimination and are ostracised for being different. In your feedback, you explained this is very common in Maasai culture. In real life, Damu may or may not have been an outcast for his mother dying during childbirth, but for other reasons like being born with birthmarks, and being born with hair. This is fascinating to me, if not concerning, as these are things the newborn child cannot control, like their sexuality. In Australia, same sex marriage isn’t legal here (yet) but you said it will never EVER be allowed in Africa?
SA: It will never be allowed. I wish I could be wrong, I wish there will be a day that my statement will be proved wrong. But, with what the community is facing in Zimbabwe, Uganda or even here in DRCongo and Kenya…I doubt that it will be so soon.
When I say Africa also, I mean those remote places where beliefs are still so strong and where the outside world ways of living will never reach. Since 30 November 2006, same sex marriage is legal in South Africa. I have been in Alexandria where there are hidden gay clubs, in Kenya too even though it is ILLEGAL to be gay in those countries. But those are big cities.
What I am talking about is the rest of Africa, those remoted places where there isn’t even access roads, electricity or running water, those places like where Damu lived. Those are the worst. I have testimonies and stories that are heartbreaking.
NRW: Oh no 🙁 *cries*
SA: Yes, the families and the entire community, sometime, force into the mind of gay people that they are devil, that it is an abomination to be gay. Unfortunately, some of them believe that, commit suicide, run away…because they can’t comprehend. And I won’t even start with the whole AIDS it’s because of gay people stuff.
I can only hope that one day, people like Desmond Tutu, Charlize Theron, Glen Relief, Kizza Besigye, Frank Bwalya ( both in the LGBT portal on Wikipedia) and so many more will do something that will help us all. I know that homosexuality is a death sentence here, I know that gay people don’t have the necessary resource, support and even the will to do something about it… but that is why I do what I do, sneaking your book to them, roughly translate them in French or Swahili for them to read to understand that there is nothing wrong with them. ABW will share stories of those people in our website soon.
NRW: I think it’s incredible, everything you do. Your work and commitment to helping LGBTQ people in Africa, is incredible and inspiring! I wish too, for change and reason.
You told me something once that will stay with me forever: you said “…that i have to sneak some of your books to some of my friends so that their family member will not know they are homosexual!!! ( cause of course they can’t have smartphone or tablets which is the devil work) this era is really bad for our people ( knowing that in some other countries gay marriage is allowed while they cant even fathom the idea of kissing a man or a girl even in dreams) they are struggling like hell…and in books, they find some sort of peace. and this story Blood & Milk….I know….in my heart, will help A LOT! cause they will relate…
P.S: by publishing that book you will save people from their daily nightmare, you are a good person! May God bless you!”
It was this message from you that made me realise I *had* to publish Blood & Milk. If I can help one person, then I absolutely will. But it got me thinking, are there any LGBTQI support groups, that you know of, in your area? Do these people have anywhere/anyone sympathetic to their emotional needs?
SA: yes, there are “hidden” LGBT group like mine, but for my local NGO to be legalized, I had to hide our main objectives, it shouldn’t appear in our status or otherwise we couldn’t have been granted the go ahead from the government. So we are just a NGO that help orphanages and homeless shelters.
In Kinshasa, where 7 million people lives, there are only 3 LGBT support group that I know of who are credible and supportive. We have a total of 14 volunteers and doing 2 to 4 jobs altogether. I, myself, work in orphanages because that is where the worst cases are found, mainly tortured kids from 8 to 17 years old. We are doing all we can to help them, but we are faced by many challenges. Barrier language being the first (word like depression become difficult to explain in Swahili), financial support and of course our own educational background and experience in the matter. I have a master degree in HR and others have in economics or engineering. No one has a background in counselling or psychological need or any remote area.
We are working blindly but if we don’t do anything, I don’t think I can live happily. I have hope and faith and I am strong and stubborn, for now, that is all I need!
NRW: And that’s what makes you a truly wonderful person! It’s hard enough in countries where this work isn’t illegal, and doesn’t have to be “hidden”. Given the secrecy, and given the persecutions, how did you start reading M/M books? How did you find it? And what was the first book that introduced you to this genre?
SA: ok, one of my favourite hobbies a part from travelling is reading. I started to read since I was 2 year old and still do. I have over 3 thousands books in my kindle and more than 5 thousands on paper backs. Cartoon, fiction, non-fiction, some I wrote myself, I have poems, Shakespeare etc, the range is so wide. I love to read, usually 4 books at a time hahahaha.
In 2012, I was in Wageningen in Netherlands with some of my friends and we were traveling to Marseilles in France, and I happen to see my mentor with a book and the cover struck me. It was one girl and two men and the title was kinda obvious: the Rule of Three by Kelly Jamieson! My friend had it with the original cover and was proudly, shamelessly reading it and enjoying it. I had to read it on the spot of course. It isn’t the typical M/M book, but that was the closest thing gayish I ever read my entire life at that time. It was E-P-I-C. I couldn’t believe such books existed.
NRW: Now for some quick fire fun questions: Idea of the perfect date?
SA: Lol, tall, brunet and fit dude in a beach at Mombasa, bare feet, siting in the sand at night eating skewers of seafood!
NRW: Favourite food?
SA: this is the part where you want me to say ugali? Hahaha, but its French fries with beef stroganoff
NRW: Favourite song?
SA: WOW, this is tricky… how can one choose? I have two favourite songs: Castle of glass by Linkin Park, and You will be in my heart by Phil Collins
NRW: Favourite book?
SA: should say the old testament, but I will go with the one that changed me deeply. And although it’s a fiction and a bit “ are you kidding me?” I still go for it: Cronin’s key 2
NRW: Aww, I’m so flattered and humbled! Especially now I know the reason behind this answer. *hugs you and Marta* Okay, next question… Number of countries you’ve visited?
SA: No need to count for this one, its 12! Because I have a tattoo of each country I visited! Symbolic tattoo lol
NRW: Dream holiday destination?
SA: Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. I know it’s weird, but hey…that is my dream! lol
NRW: On a deserted island, you can take three things. They are?
- Duct tape ( too long to explain)
- My kindle ( if it comes with a solar panel charger)
- A butcher knife
NRW: You find a magic lantern with a genie who grants you one wish. What is it?
SA: OMG! I have dreamt all my life to be asked this question. I can wish for no more wars or hunger in the world, or peace or something like that, stop climate change…or better yet, same sex marriage everywhere…but, I will ask for a magic ring that will grant me every wish.
Awesome!!! Thank you so much for being here and sharing a little bit about yourself with my readers. Thank you for your input and help with Blood & Milk, and most importantly, thank you for the wonderful work you’re doing to help LGBT people in Africa.
I hope everyone loves Heath and Damu, and I hope those who read the book learn a little about Maasai culture and Tanzania. I also hope the African people who read Blood & Milk can relate and find a little peace in Damu’s story.
Thank you too Nicole, I am so happy about all this and I am confident Blood and Milk will be a blast. I would like also to add something about the names.
Heath? You might think it’s very common but I am not even sure I pronounced it right. I wanted to share some DRCongo, Kenyan and Tanzanian names:
-Numbi Muhima Edher, Mwangaza Mutonda Sylvie, Wanjiru Mumbi Michelle, O’chollah Bryan, Kongolo Mweshi, Abdi Ramji… those are common name people relate easily. And I confess that, sometimes, depending of my audience, I have to Africanise the names of your character to fit easily. (I better not start explaining how the whole Alec – Ailig translation went hahahahaha)
LOLOL No, I couldn’t imagine it’d be easy haha. Thank you again, with all of my heart.
Thank you so much for this. ABW moto is “be kind to one another”. You have been so kind! Words fail me to express my gratitude! Be blessed, forever…and always!
I’m sure you will all agree that the work Santa does in Africa is beyond incredible. Her non-profit work for orphans and homeless children and teens, secretly helping LGBT kids, is awe-inspiring. She has shared with me a few stories of those she translates/reads my books to and their personal life stories are so, so heartbreaking (and utterly horrifying). And to hear my books make their days a little happier and bearable is truly humbling. Kinda puts a few things into perspective, yeah?
Her help with getting the Maasai aspects right, and also the governmental issues, in Blood & Milk were invaluable. I had a few different African beta/pre-readers, but it was Santa’s input, her stories, her experiences, and her encouragement, that made Blood & Milk what it is. And I will be forever grateful. In case you missed my earlier posts about how much Santa has helped me and the charity I’m donating to, you can read that HERE. I am donating part of Blood & Milk royalties to African Human Rights Coalition who are a proactive group on the ground in Africa, actively helping LGBT people.
The pre-order link for Blood & Milk on Amazon is HERE
Until next week…
This was scheduled to be posted a few days ago, but I held off posting in the wake of the horrific mass murder in Orlando. 🙁 But then I realised, maybe that’s the reason I should post it. Because not only are hate crimes still happening, but anti-homosexuality laws are still a thing, now, in 2016.
From my research for Blood & Milk, and from all I have learned, I can tell you the prospects for LGBTQI people in Africa are pretty grim. In fact, according to ILGA, out of the 83 countries in the world where anti-homosexuality laws are still in place, 33 of those countries are in Africa. Punishments include imprisonment, torture, and death.
Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania where, if found guilty, the sentence is imprisonment. And as we see in Blood & Milk, the Maasai laws for this “crime” are not so lenient.
I have had the help from a LOT of different people for this story, including several people from Africa. But the most help has come from a woman by the name of Santa Aziz, who works “in secret” helping African LGBT people, but who also lived in Tanzania with first-hand experience, information and guidance on Maasai language, diet, and culture. (I have an interview with Santa which I will post asap – she really is an amazing woman.)
But Santa has helped me with so much more than just the technical things.
I’ve doubted myself with this story, a hundred times more than I have with any other thing I’ve written. And every time I get to the point of not publishing the book, Santa says something to me that drives me forward.
The first time was before I sent it to my editor. Santa told me she works, in secret, with LGBT people in her country who live in fear for their lives everyday, and she sneaks them my books for them to read. She said it gives them hope. Real, legitimate hope, and it makes their nightmarish days a little brighter. And having something they can relate to would mean more to them than I could possibly imagine.
Her email touched me so deeply, I cried. I sent the manuscript to my editor that day.
Then when it came time to load it into Amazon for pre-orders, again I struggled for hours trying to decide whether I should publish this book at all. I knew some people would be opposed to me writing this story…
Then Santa sent me another long email of hope and gratitude for giving these people, her people, a voice, including this:
i know it might be difficult to comprehend the importance of such small gesture, but believe me when i say that it will be a HUGE thing for us. really… for anyone in Africa speaking swahili and who can understand that.
And you know what? I hit publish right then and there. Because it’s not about me, and it’s not about whether someone else thinks I don’t have the right to write this story.
It’s about giving hope to LGBT people in a small part of Africa. Real hope for real people who struggle every day, for whom this story will make a positive difference. And if this story can do that for even one person, then it should be published. When LGBT African people plead with me to please please publish this story because they need something they can relate to, then I absolutely should.
I’ve contacted The African Human Rights Coalition, an organisation who do wonderful work with LGBT people in Africa, about donating a percentage of royalties of Blood & Milk. I will post more when I have the confirmation.
If you’re interested and able, you can donate at the following links:
Because, in light of the hate-crime that cut short the lives of 49 people in Orlando, it’s more important now than it was before that we speak up for those who cannot. Not just in America, or Europe, or Australia, but in Africa too.
Because love is not, nor should it ever be, a crime.
I have a little something special for you this week! I’m still away from home so I’ve scheduled this in advance to make up for my lack of social media presence.
Given it’s just ten days until Blood & Milk is released, I thought I’d share with you a little excerpt. This is how Blood & Milk begins…
It was twelve months on. A full year had passed, yet my world had stopped completely. The men who stole my life were charged and would serve time for their crime. No one called it a hate crime, but that’s what it was. If I was expecting some sort of finality to come with the court findings, I didn’t get it.
I was still hollow. I was still numb to the world, and I was still alone.
I was also awarded damages, civilian victim and medical.
A nice healthy sum that meant I could pay off my debts after not working for twelve months, and more. Though no amount of money would make this right. No amount of money would bring him back.
My mother came along for the final hearing, though I could only guess why. I had barely spoken two words to her in the last year. Maybe she came so she could vie for the sympathy card with her friends. Or maybe she thought she could have one last twist of the knife…
“Now it’s all over,” she said, nodding her head like her words were wise and final. “You can put all this homosexual nonsense behind you.”
I looked at my mother and smiled. I fucking smiled. I raged inside with a fury to burn the world, and maybe she saw something in my eyes―maybe it was a ferocity she’d never seen before, maybe it was madness―and my words were whisper quiet.
“You are a despicable, bitter human being, and you are a disgrace to mothers everywhere. So, when you go to your church group, instead of praying for my soul, you should be praying for yours. You have only hate and judgement in your heart, and you are doomed to an eternity in hell.” I leaned in close and sneered at her. “And I hope you fucking burn.” I stood up and stared down at her. She was pale and shocked, and I did not care. “If you think my words are cold and cruel,” I added, “I want you to know I learned them from you.”
I walked away, for the final time. I knew I’d never see her again, and I had made my peace with that.
I didn’t care for the money. I didn’t care for anything. I longed for sleep, because in my dreams, I saw him. And that night, almost one year to the day since he was gone, in our too-big bed, in our too-quiet flat, in my too-alone life, I dreamed of Jarrod.
He sat on our bed and grinned. I longed to hear his voice, just once. It’d been a year and I craved the sound of his voice, his touch. But when I reached out for him, even in my dream, as in my waking nightmares, he was gone. I sat up in our bed, reaching out for nothing but air. He was gone, really gone.
But in this dream, on the bed were he’d sat, was a plane ticket. Mr Heath Crowley, it said. One way ticket to Tanzania.
My apologies for missing last week’s post – I was away (kids’ tennis, again) and we were that busy, I didn’t even take my laptop out of my bag. We actually had a weekend at home this weekend! OMG they’re a rarity these days, it’s just a shame the entire time was spent doing housework and other mundane, real-life chores (the glamorous life of an author/mother LOL).
This week, Spencer Cohen Book One came off Kindle Unlimited. His 90 day exclusivity to Amazon ended, so he’s also now available at All Romance eBooks and Smashwords and Apple, and has been approved for distribution to B&N, so I’ll post that link asap.
The Italian translation of Red Dirt Heart comes out this week! And even the title, Cuore di Terra Rossa, is gorgeous. I will post the links as soon as I have them!
I do love my Italian publisher, and highly recommend them to all my author friends. Triskell Edizioni have been wonderful to me, very professional and they love their authors. I can’t praise them enough. I have actually just signed the Spencer Cohen Series to be translated, and my Italian readers can expect to see them early next year. <3
In GRL news, my flights are booked and our itinerary is done! My family and I will be doing four weeks of touring the US and briefly into Canada (for three days lol) before GRL. I know the timing isn’t perfect, and I’ll be exhausted going into GRL, but it couldn’t be helped. My husband has a work conference on in Las Vegas mid-September, which left a four week gap in between. So, instead of coming home for those four weeks, we are seeing Las Vegas, Nashville, New York, Boston, Quebec, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Washington DC, San Fran and LA, then finally on to Kansas City.
I’m busy getting the family part organised, while ignoring everything else I need to think about (like swag lol) for GRL. But don’t forget, if you want me to have signed books at GRL for you, you MUST pre-order them. You can find the order form HERE – and you have until September 1st to pay for them. 🙂
Blood & Milk is still on schedule for June 23rd. I have sent it to more beta-readers, with a different perspective on race and religion to me, looking for any possible red-flags, while my editor is working on it. In case you missed the cover reveal I did two days ago, here is the gorgeous cover Sara York made me. I found the photo of Damu ages ago and *had* to have it. Sara made it pretty for me 🙂
And on a different note, I’ve just finished my second week (sixth session) of crossfit. Everything hurts, but the pain is getting better. Kind of. LOL I do feel better for it though, even if my thighs feel like there are knives stabbing them and my arms are like cooked spaghetti. >.<
So, until next week…
Here it is! The gorgeous cover to my next release, Blood & Milk. Eeeeek!
I’m super excited (and extremely nervous) about this one. I wasn’t going to publish this book at all, but after an extensive beta-group read for race/cultural sensitivities from people all around the globe, and after a heartfelt plea from my Kenyan beta to please please publish it, the original release date of June 23rd still stands.
The blurb is unedited, so I won’t share that just yet.
Damu (pronounced Dah-mu) is on the cover, he is Maasai. I can’t wait for you all to meet him!
I’ll be posting more on why this book almost made the cutting room floor, and ultimately why it didn’t. I’ll also be sharing an interview with a lovely Kenyan-born lady who helped me with some of the finer points of research on Maasai lives and culture, and who gave me the final push to say yes to putting this book into production.
Blood & Milk is the story of Heath Crowley, an Australian man who finds himself living with the Maasai in Tanzania.
Here’s a tiny little (unedited) excerpt:
I stripped down too, completely naked and not caring for modesty, and dove into the water. It was cool and fresh, and felt heavenly against my skin. I didn’t realise how gritty I’d become. Sure, I’d dived into the water a few times in my time here, but never fully naked.
It was sublime.
Underwater, I raked my hands through my hair letting the water sluice through the strands to remove any grit and sand. Daily face washes, shaving and teeth brushing served its purpose, but a proper bath was unbeatable.
I’d forgotten what a shower felt like. And as amazing as the water felt, I didn’t miss running water. I didn’t miss electricity. I didn’t miss anything.
I broke the surface, gasping for air. As usual, the memory of Jarrod squeezed my heart and crippled my lungs.
Damu laughed at me, oblivious to my struggle to breathe. And strangely enough, his laughter, his smiling face, calmed me. I exhaled with a rush and laid back, allowing myself to float, feeling my lungs expand and contract with every inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, until my panic attack passed.
Damu floated beside me and without a word between us, with a peace that soothed me, we floated naked in the water under the Tanzanian sky.