Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year


We may have mentioned this before, but sometimes reviews are like London buses - you can wait ages for one, and then all of a sudden two arrive together! At any rate it would seem that some reviewers have been using their holiday break to catch up on reading assignments, and as a result we are now able to bring you new reviews of two of our books. In the order we received them, therefore... Over at Reviews and Ramblings, the wonderful Elisa (does she ever take a day off, bless her?) has been reading Jane Elliot's THIS MEANS WAR. Her comments are brief but include this gem ...

They are clever but innocent pranks, and in the middle of them, Jasper and Brian enjoy a lot of sex and good friends. There is a moment of climax, no pun intended, just a touch of drama, but truth be told, I didn't need it much, to me the story as it was had already satisfied my needs

... and that last line is exactly the accolade every author strives for!

Meanwhile, at the Prism Book Alliance, we have reviewer Feliz's take on Chris Quinton's most recent title UNDERCOVER BLUES:

All in all, this was a deliciously intricate caper-mystery-spy novel that I most certainly will read again in order to (re)discover and enjoy all the tiny details that made it such an enjoyable whole. Highly recommended.

Moreover, Chris appears to have 'converted' a reviewer who wasn't previously a fan of historical novels - which strikes us as a very notable achievement indeed.

Congratulations to both authors on impressing these reviewers - although we'll quietly admit that we're not remotely surprised to learn of it! - and thank you to the reviewers for their time and their good opinions; isn't this just a brilliant way to end one year and look forward to another?

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry happy .....

To those of you who celebrate at this time of year - and also to those who don't - our warmest seasonal wishes and thanks for your company and support. Look out for a new giveaway promotion starting on Friday 26 December!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


We'd like to apologise for dropping the ball a bit on our Author Guest Blogs recently; our author for October had to default due to family circumstances but will hope to have something ready for us early in the New Year, and as if that wasn't bad enough we're now a day late posting Chris Quinton's contribution - which was submitted in plenty of time, and the delay is Totally Our Fault. Sorry, Chris!

- - - - -

The Garret Syndrome

The image of an artist - painter, poet, writer - shut away in self-imposed isolation to work their creative magic is a rather idealised picture. Yes, it happens to an extent, we all need time and space without distractions. On the other hand, the chance and the need to interact with people who share the same interests can't be overlooked. This probably explains why FaceBook and other social media have risen so quickly. If you're in a home situation where there's no one with whom you can freely discuss plot/character/writing hangups, those wider connections are doubly valuable whether they are online or in the Real World.

Being a writer, having that drive to put down on paper or screen the stories and people populating your head, can result in a logjam of ideas, or that stalling moment when you haven't a clue where you're going next despite having the storyline carefully plotted out. That's when you need the connection with others who understand the writerly mind. Sometimes an email or an online chat will do the trick. Sometimes you need that Real Life meeting with a couple of fellow writers over a drink or two of the beverages of your choice to simply talk writerly things, share ideas and experiences. More often than not you'll come away refreshed and newly inspired, and perhaps with a new slant on the current problem.

The larger get-togethers work as well, whether it's a workshop scenario, a collective book-signing event, or a full-blown conference spread over a weekend. The important thing is that connection, knowing you're among people who have the same interests, shared similar situations, know where you're coming from just as you understand them. And then there's the fact that the people you meet at the various places are welcoming, supportive, always ready to offer a helping hand and a listening ear.

Needless to say, the above remarks refer to *all* genres of writing, but perhaps those of us who write in the GLBTQ spectrum need them more than others.

A few of the publishers run Writers' Workshops, or Authors' Retreats, often over a weekend. In the UK, Manifold Press is having one for its stable of authors next spring, and I'm looking forward for a few days of uninterrupted writing and discussions on plots, characters, and anything else that fires our imaginations at the time.  RJ Scott, of Love Lane Books, is also planning a second Retreat next year.

Larger events happen in the UK, the US and Europe - and probably other countries as well, but below are the ones I know of for certain.

Here in the UK, there's the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet. It's small compared to its American counterparts, with attendance capped at 150 delegates. This means it's possibly more intimate than very large conventions, and, from my experience, it's a great chance to meet and socialise as well as attend panels, invaluable workshops, and have one-to-one chats with your favourite authors and cover artists.

A new venture is the Meet The Authors Booksigning events being organised by Sue Brown. The first one was held this year near Liverpool Street Station in London. It was a runaway success and we all had a blast. That afternoon about twenty authors attended, and many, many readers. There were readings, book-signing and buying, much talking, eating and drinking. The link is to the Facebook page set up by Sue, and next year's event is in the planning stages.

Over the Pond in America, there are two big conferences that I know of; the biggest is the GayRomLit Retreat. It is huge, people, and hosted in a different city each year. Then there's the smaller RainbowCon, now in its second year and planning for 2015

On the other side of the planet is Queermance Australia. Their next extravaganza is 7PM Friday 17th April 2015 – Sunday 19th April 2015. Queermance 2015 is a celebration of GLBT relationships in fiction. It is a chance to catch up with the authors and publishers of GLBT fiction, pick up tips, find opportunities and ask all the questions you always wanted an answer to but didn’t know who can answer them.

Nearer to home in Germany, Marc Fleischauer of the Rainbow Gold Reviews LGBT Blog is busily organising an event in Munich next year - here's what he told me... It will be July 10-12 in Munich. The event hotels will be the Sheraton and Westin Grand Arabellapark. We are very close to signing, but there were some details that we have to figure out. We figured out that the reduced hotel prices for the event are much more expensive than getting them on the website and so we have to figure that out. Everything else is planned. It will be called the Euro Pride Meet and we will include some cultural experiences like going to the Pride Parade in Munich and invite some German publishers interested in acquiring rights of translations to English M/M and LGBT stories. It sounds as if it'll be a wonderful event, so keep your eyes on this link

When it comes down to it, the trick is not to feel obliged to be alone, but to choose to be isolated in your writerly garret, knowing that when you need them there's someone ready to be there for you just as you will be ready to be there in turn.

[Edited to correct the maximum capacity of UK Meet, which is actually 150.]

Monday, 8 December 2014

Rainbow Awards 2014

Hooray! The Rainbow Awards were announced this morning (well, actually in the middle of the night UK time) and once again it's time to congratulate two of our authors:

RANDY by Jane Elliot was placed 2nd in the Best Gay Historical category


DANCE OF STONE by Jay Lewis Taylor was placed 4th in the Best Gay Historical Romance category

... both of which awards we feel are thoroughly deserved and reflect the hard work and dedication of the authors. It seems to have been a particularly tough and competitive field this year, so to have made such a good impression on the judges is no small achievement - well done, Jane and Jay, we're extremely proud of you both!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Changes afoot at Manifold Press!

As those of you who have been with us from the beginning will know, we're dedicated to improving the quality of both our books and our service. As Manifold Press grows and gains in stature, we're finding that some of the systems we needed when we started out are rapidly becoming redundant - we like to think of them as similar to the training wheels on a bike - and that as we mature we can learn to do without them. This is why we'll be closing down our online shop at the end of 2014 and selling in future through our distribution partners Amazon, AllRomance and Smashwords and their affiliates (and also CreateSpace for paperbacks).

We know some people found the online shop cumbersome, but it was important for us in the early days to have the additional revenue obtained by selling directly - i.e. without having to pay commission to anyone. It enabled us to get established, and we can't thank enough those people who understood that and still bought directly from us even after our books became available on Amazon; those sales put us in a strong enough financial position to expand and allowed us to start thinking bigger, although we hope we'll always be small enough to give individual care and consideration to every book we produce.

There are more changes ahead for Manifold Press, so watch this space (or one very much like it) for further announcements. We're off on a fascinating journey of discovery, and we're very much hoping to have your company along the way...

Friday, 14 November 2014


Delightfully, another review of Julie's new book has just appeared - this time on the blogsite Boys In Our Books. While it's not an entirely uncritical review - you can't please all of the people all of the time, alas! - the reviewer is still overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the series as a whole:

I couldn’t read it without feeling warmth and comfort. I love these two as they love each other. And in this book, we get more of the watering hole and the Dreamtime location in the Australian Outback … and this will always be near and dear to my heart since book 1, Butterfly Hunter, introduced us to this magical place.

Here at Manifold Press we like to think we're all about the magic - about taking readers to places that otherwise they wouldn't be able to go - so it's gratifying to know we're still making that happen. Thank you, BIOB reviewer, we appreciate your comments!

Sunday, 2 November 2014


Mark, over at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews, did a Release Day review of Julie's new title which we should really have acknowledged yesterday - and we're very sorry that it didn't happen.

It's a great review, too, full of enthusiastic praise for THE THOUSAND SMILES OF NICHOLAS GORING:

Julie’s writing is poetic, dreamy and makes you want to escape to this magical waterhole yourself. However, with just the right amount of gritty reality thrown in makes it the perfect balance between the everyday trials and tribulations and a place where we can all dream of , a place that is worry free, full of love and respect ~ that is the waterhole!

Mark's absolutely right, that's quite a balancing act - but if anyone's going to pull it off, it'll be our Julie!

Thank you, Mark for your comments - we're glad you enjoyed the book, and we're sure a lot of other people will, too.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Two new books released today!

Good morning, everyone, from the (cold and dark) UK!

Our two new titles, Julie Bozza's THE THOUSAND SMILES OF NICHOLAS GORING - which concludes her Butterfly Hunter trilogy - and Chris Quinton's historical novel UNDERCOVER BLUES, are now on sale not only through our online shop but also through our other outlets: AllRomance eBooks, Smashwords and Amazon. (If you don't see them immediately in your particular part of the world, it's only because they're still working their way through the system.)

We're aware that in the past some readers have been frustrated by the 'staggered release' of our books, even though we explained why it was necessary at the time. The simple fact was that, starting Manifold Press completely from scratch, we thought it wise to learn to walk before we tried to run. It's now been almost five years, though; we think we've mastered the 'walking' thing, and we're looking to pick up speed a little bit - and this is our first modest step.

For the time being the online shop facility will remain available, but in due course we'll be looking to phase that out so that you can buy quickly and easily from one of our distribution partners; that will, in turn, free up person-power here at Manifold Press Megaheadquarters which can be devoted to other essential parts of the publishing process. We may move slowly compared to other organisations but we don't want to stand still altogether; after all, there are still plenty of fascinating places that we want to go - and we like to think we'll be taking you with us!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Two Morgan Cheshire titles now available in paperback!

We'd like to congratulate our friend and fellow-author Morgan Cheshire on the paperback editions of her two Manifold Press titles, SOLEMN CONTRACT and ALWAYS WITH US, which became available to buy today!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Rainbow Awards - finalists announced

We're delighted to announce that all three of the books which had previously been awarded 'Honourable Mentions' in this year's Rainbow Awards are now definitely among the finalists. These are:

DANCE OF STONE by Jay Lewis Taylor

alongside these, we're also very pleased to note, goes:

HUNTED by Liz Powell

which could still outperform them all. We're already biting our fingernails and the announcements aren't due until December 8 - it's going to be a very tense few weeks here at Manifold Press Megaheadquarters!

Once again, though, and in all seriousness, we would like to congratulate our four authors for their excellent showing in the Awards; it's no small thing simply to have made the cut, and we're exceptionally proud of all of you.

ETA: RANDY by Jane Elliot also made the cut - humble apologies for missing it on our first run through the list!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


We're very much afraid this got lost in the shuffle when Megaheadquarters moved recently, but Elisa Rolle has posted a review of Julie Bozza's BUTTERFLY HUNTER containing the sort of comments every author really dreams of!

Julie Bozza puts together an unlikely pair, but right for that, it was endearing to read how they fell in love, and the ending was almost fairy tale.

Apologies to both Julie and Elisa for not responding to this in a more timely manner, but we hope it's a case of 'better late than never'!


Apologies to Liz Powell; contrary to what we mistakenly said a couple of days ago her book HUNTED was eligible for the Rainbow Awards after all and has in fact been entered - and we're sure it won't fail to impress the judges!

Two new titles announced today!

It’s that time again; we’re delighted to announce our two new titles for publication on November 1, and we have an uncanny foreboding that they’re both going to prove hugely popular!

We’ll start with Julie Bozza‘s eagerly-awaited conclusion to the Butterfly Hunter trilogy, THE THOUSAND SMILES OF NICHOLAS GORING, in which the trials of married life for Dave and Nicholas include a threat to their beloved (and secret) Dreamtime site and some unexpected revelations from Dave’s nephew Robin…

… and partner that with a delightful ‘historical’ by Chris Quinton; secret agents in 1930s London, Tom and Robert are tasked with joining a dance band in order to unravel a sinister blackmail plot – and find their impersonation of a clandestine lifestyle becoming all too real in UNDERCOVER BLUES.

We're busy putting the finishing touches to them both at this very moment, as well as making active preparations to bring you more books just as fascinating as these in February and in May - watch this space (or a very similar one nearby!) for details as and when we have them...

Sunday, 28 September 2014

New review of ABOVE ALL

Despite being exceptionally busy co-ordinating and releasing the first batch of Honourable Mentions for the 2014 Rainbow Awards (see this post for details), Elisa Rolle has still apparently managed to find plenty of time for reading - we only wish we knew her secret!

She has recently given her verdict of Jane Elliot's very popular ABOVE ALL, the first of her 'Jasper Swinton' novels:

Even if I was very busy, and sincerely I didn't have many time, these two men and their story was always there, in the back of my mind, asking me to continue reading and knowing what was their happy ending.

We've said it before, but it remains true: to impress someone who reads as much male/male fiction as Elisa is a noteworthy achievement, but we're not at all surprised Jane's book had that effect! Congratulations, Jane - and thank you, Elisa, for your lovely comments.

Rainbow Awards 2014

The first information about the 2014 Rainbow Awards has been released over the past week, and although we're not sure whether or not there's more to come we thought this would be a good moment to bring you up to date with what's been announced so far - 'Honourable Mentions' for:

DANCE OF STONE by Jay Lewis Taylor

To quote Elisa on the subject, "an honorable mention means a judge gave a rate of 36 or above out of 40 to the book; an honorable mention doesn't mean the book is automatically among the finalists".

The next phase of announcements can be expected at the beginning of October, and we look forward eagerly to seeing how these and our other books have fared. We will say, though, that we entered six eligible books this year (Chris's GAME ON, GAME OVER and Liz's HUNTED, having been published previously, did not meet the criteria) and to have achieved such a high percentage of Honourable Mentions is incredibly reassuring; we're actually starting to think that we may be doing something right!

Monday, 15 September 2014


Whose life is it anyway?

I've frequently heard authors complaining that this or that character simply wouldn't do what the author wanted them to do, and it's a phenomenon that's occurred to me a time or two as well.  It's almost as if - having once conjured the characters into existence - they have a mind and a life which is completely independent, and will act according to their own lights regardless of an author's wishes.

This came to mind again recently when I happened to be re-reading one of John Sutherland's works of literary deconstruction, 'Is Heathcliff a Murderer?'  In the chapter where he discusses the 'double-ending' of Villette he explains that Charlotte Bronte modified what was originally intended to be a tragic ending at the urging of her father.  To quote Mrs Gaskell on the subject, "Mr Bronte was anxious that her new tale should end well, as he disliked novels which left a melancholy impression upon the mind; and he requested her to make her hero and heroine (like the heroes and heroines in fairy-tales) 'marry and live happily ever after'."

I can only sympathise with Charlotte Bronte's frustration on the point – being caught between characters who insist on acting in one way and a stern but beloved critic who insists on something completely different is clearly not just a phenomenon of the instant-feedback Internet age.  In fact, Sutherland also quotes Hard Times by Charles Dickens and The Newcomes by W.M. Thackeray as books where reader pressure brought about a change in the author's plans, and these are presumably only the most notable of a number of examples.

In any case where a work appears in instalments – where it is an 'open', rather than a 'closed' canon – there will always be debate about the way the story is likely to turn out.  We've all experienced this with television shows – would Deanna Troi ever get together with Will Riker, for example, or Jean-Luc Picard with Beverly Crusher? - and in a way it's part of the attraction and what keeps us returning week after week, year after year, to see what happens.  Indeed, the unresolved storylines and constant twists of fate are the principal stock in trade of the soap opera genre.  Where it becomes a potential problem, however, is at the interface between the reader (or viewer) and the writer; after all, there will be just as many opinions about the future of the characters as there are readers – but even if, by some miracle, they all happened to agree, would that in itself be sufficient reason for the author to take notice of their wishes?

Clearly, some authors are prepared to be influenced by what their readers want.  Others prefer to stay true to their original conception and ignore howls of protest from those who would rather have something different.  However, the writers and the readers are not the only people to be consulted; the wishes of the characters must also be taken into consideration, and this is where the picture becomes more complicated still.  In fact I can quite categorically say, from personal experience, that it is impossible to get a character to do something he or she doesn't want to do; it's like getting toddlers to eat their vegetables, or cats to march in a parade.

So, any story is going always to end up balancing the requirements of three different sets of individuals – writers, readers and characters.  Just as 'Man proposes, God disposes', an author can set up a situation and guide his or her characters into it - but the way they choose to deal with it from that point forward is really up to them.  I'm convinced that a lot of people consider this fanciful; surely, they must think, a strong-minded author can prevail over their own creation?  But it isn't quite as simple as that.  Having invented the character in the first place, it's important to remain consistent and to have them behave appropriately throughout.  If a mild-mannered academic is going to go mad with a machine-gun and wipe out all his colleagues, for example, he's going to need provocation or the readers will rightly say he's 'acting out of character' – or, worse still, that the author has cheated.  Trust me, neither of these accusations is a good one to have levelled at a book.

Who, then, is in charge of the way the story develops?  Is it the author, with a firm hand on the tiller, steering the characters through a series of perils and bringing them out safely on the other side?  Is it the reader, exercising the economic power of 'demand' over 'supply' and declining to buy any book which doesn't meet their specific requirements?  Well, to a certain extent it's both – but in the end, wherever there is doubt, the characters themselves must always be the ones who make the decisions.

So, where does that leave readers who – like Charlotte Bronte's father – demand a happy ending?  The unfortunate fact is this can never be guaranteed.  After all, even if it is a happy ending, it may not be the precise one the individual reader has in mind – and this in turn is why it's helpful not to prejudge a book and to be open to any one of a number of different possible outcomes for the characters.  Whilst respecting those who – no doubt for good reasons - insist on their 'HEA' or at least an 'HFN', it has to be said that they're limiting their choices and therefore their potential reading experience.  Can it be argued, for example, that Wuthering Heights has a happy ending?  Not exactly, surely.  With some books, after all, it's the journey that's interesting rather than the destination – and, with all due respect to Mr Bronte, sometimes a book is much more enjoyable to read if you don't know precisely how it ends before you start.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

August titles available on all platforms!

It's taken longer than it should have this time (we'll explain why in a moment!), for which we apologise profusely, but later on today it should be possible to purchase our two most recent publications through our distribution partner sites.

Just in case you're in any doubt, the titles are:

RANDY by Jane Elliot - the tale of Garrison who – down on his luck after a series of catastrophes – is rescued by a young man who will change his life in ways he can’t even begin to count. Unfortunately, though, the path to true love never did run smooth…


HUNTED by Liz Powell - Adam is a professional footballer, and everything he says or does is subject to scrutiny; when rumours of his affair with team-mate Louie begin to surface, he might just as well have a target painted on his back – and Adam’s increasingly desperate efforts to deflect suspicion only seem to make things worse…

The delay this time has been caused by a major upheaval at Manifold Press Megaheadquarters; we've actually moved fifteen miles or so up the road to a new location, from which we'll be operating for about a year - and then there will be another and hopefully permanent move towards the end of 2015. We're doing our best to make this as seamless as possible for all our loyal readers, but we hope you will forgive us (not least for the mixed metaphor!) if there is the occasional bump in the road.

Statistics for August will follow as soon as we have them; we're experiencing a slight operational difficulty - just not enough pairs of hands available at the moment to do everything we need to do - but we doubt anyone will be seriously inconvenienced by the lack of statistical information and therefore on this occasion we hope to be forgiven!

Thursday, 14 August 2014


It's lovely to know that some of our old favourites are still filtering through people's 'To Be Read' piles, and here's a review of Julie Bozza's THE DEFINITIVE ALBERT J. STERNE from Rosa at My Fiction Nook to prove it.

"I think this is a love it or hate kind of book. It's a bit dry in the beginning, but once you push though that and kind of go with the flow of the novel, it's awesome and singularly different from other MM books."

We quite sympathise, Rosa! Albert, the dear old curmudgeon, doesn't give his readers an easy or a comfortable time - but the end is totally worth the journey, and we're very glad you stuck with it. Thank you for your lovely comments!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

New reviews of RANDY

Some of our reviewers have been very quick off the mark this time, and there have been at least three release-day reviews of RANDY by Jane Elliot. (If there are more, we haven't seen them yet.)

They're a fascinatingly mixed bunch, which only goes to prove that people read from such varied points of view that no two opinions are ever likely to be the same - and this, believe it or not, is exactly the reason why we love what we do; if we were all the same, after all, what a boring world it would be!

Let's start this time with Jenni at Boys In Our Books, who - it's fair to say - didn't have an overwhelmingly positive experience:

I went into the story thinking there would be a hard fought, hard won May/December romance, and there was almost none. In fact—yes, epiphany here!—the novel read more like a (very boring) friendship, with one character coming to the realization that he might actually be attracted to men. (Queue annoying internal dialogue.)

Whoops! We're very sorry Jenni didn't enjoy the book, but we can certainly understand and respect her point of view - and we thank her for taking the time to comment.

Cat, at MM Good Book Reviews, came up with a very different response:

I liked this story because it isn’t your usual love story. It’s not actually a romance at all, but it is about love and friendship. I couldn’t put the book down once I started. I hope there is more to come!!

If you like trappers, the old west, beautiful friendships, gamblers and a gripping story, this is definitely for you!

[Scroll down the page for the review and a giveaway offer!]

She's absolutely right; if you go into RANDY expecting it to be a neat-and-tidy traditional love story, you may be quite surprised!

Delicately balanced between these two opinions is a perceptive review by Cindy on Love Bytes, who discusses in some detail the emotional journey she went on while reading the book and concludes with these words:

...if you’re someone who appreciates that real life doesn’t always go the way we wanted to and that not every romance has a happy ending then I think you will love this well-written story.

Thank you, Cindy; we understand that this may not have been the perfect book for you, but we're glad you recognised its qualities nonetheless. What more could anyone ask of a review than that, really???

So there you go, folks - a very mixed bag of reviews covering an intriguing spectrum of opinion. But don't just take their word for it! Why not dive right in and experience Jane Elliot's RANDY for yourself?

Friday, 1 August 2014

Normal service has now been resumed...

Apologies to our 'early bird' customers; there seems to have been a slight technical hitch with the online shop this morning. It was scheduled to update automatically at 01.00 as usual, but for some reason that didn't happen; however we have now updated it manually and orders can be received and processed in the usual way. Thank you for your patience.

Two new titles published today!

Our two newest titles are now available to order!

There's a welcome return for Jane Elliot, who brings us another of her always-popular authentic stories featuring gay life in the Old West. Here, it's the tale of Garrison who - down on his luck after a series of catastrophes - is rescued by RANDY, a young man who will change his life in ways he can't even begin to count. Unfortunately, though, the path to true love never did run smooth ...

The main protagonist in Liz Powell's novel HUNTED is facing a similar crisis - but there the similarities end! Adam is a professional footballer, and everything he says or does is subject to scrutiny; when rumours of his affair with team-mate Louie begin to surface, he might just as well have a target painted on his back - and Adam's increasingly desperate efforts to deflect suspicion only seem to make things worse ...

Liz is a new member of the MANIFOLD PRESS family; we'd like to welcome her to the fold and wish her and her book every possible success.

Saturday, 26 July 2014



Over on LiveJournal it's the first day of our new Extremely Random Harvest giveaway! We are giving away seven books over seven days, with the first one being drawn at random 24 hours from now. To win, all you need to do is give us (in a screened reply) your first name, your e-mail address, and the title of the book you'd like to win - which includes our two new titles being published on 1 August, RANDY by Jane Elliot and HUNTED by Liz Powell.

One entry per day only, please - and nobody is allowed to win more than twice.  Also, please don't forget to tell us which format you'd like to receive!  We'll do our level best to draw the winner at the same time every day, to give everyone an equal chance of winning - so come and join in the fun, and don't forget to tell your friends; this is a great chance to discover a new author or a new book, or to complete the back catalogue of an old favourite.  After all, what have you got to lose?

Saturday, 19 July 2014


Join us on LiveJournal for a new MANIFOLD PRESS EXTREMELY RANDOM HARVEST which will start at 07.00 (UK time) on Saturday 26 July. We'll be giving away seven books over seven days, in advance of the publication of our two new titles on Friday 1 August. This is a great opportunity to experiment with a book or an author you haven't tried yet, or to complete the backlist of a favourite - so why not come along and join us; what have you got to lose?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


Serendipitous Charlotte

Researching a novel can be challenging and frustrating, even when you’re looking further into a subject that already fascinates you. But there are times when you are fossicking through the mullock heap and you discover a Yowah nut, and inside that a precious opal. (This metaphor has been brought to you by The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring, third and final novel in the Butterfly Hunter series, on which I am currently working.)

Writing A Threefold Cord was a surprisingly serendipitous experience in this regard. As some of you will already know, it features three actors as the main characters, who evolve from friends to a twosome-and-friend, to a threesome. The story takes place over about a year. This meant that I had to take into account the various bits of television, film and theatre work they’d each be involved in throughout. They all had rather busy years, I have to admit, and many working actors would be envious of such a schedule, but I wanted to convey a sense of these young-ish men each coming into his own, so to speak, and starting to be recognised for his individual talents.

Some of the mini-stories in which they act, either jointly or separately, I made up myself. That was fun! (To be honest, if I thought I’d be any use at all at writing a medieval murder mystery, I’d have a go a novelised episode of The Justice of Godbolt.) For other mini-stories, I drew on actual plays or novels that would be more or less familiar to readers. I chose each mini-story as carefully as I could, so that its tale and its characters would inform the main story in different ways.

At this point of the main story, I wanted to throw an early challenge at the threesome. Even as they are realising that they’re evolving from a twosome who have a friend-with-benefits into a committed threesome, they are faced with the fact that one of the original twosome has to be away from home for about six weeks, because he is starring in a play in another city. How is his absence going to effect this tentative, precariously balanced relationship?

Well, that’s the big question that I won’t answer here. The question I had to answer at the time, though, was what the play would be.

The actor involved is Grae, who is the point-of-view character. While he doesn’t think of himself as anything much more than a hard worker, he is considered by others to be a particularly gifted actor. So I wanted to find something that would be particularly challenging; something he’d love to get his teeth into; something that other people would consider as risky without an actor of his calibre. He’s gay, though he’s a discreet and private person. So I thought that some kind of queer subject matter would be irresistible to him. I also wanted it to be a one-man play, to emphasise the fact that at this key juncture he is not only separated from his lovers, but isolated in a distant city.

‘Right!’ I thought. ‘Where do I start?’ I couldn’t even think, off the top of my head, of any one-man plays, let alone any that fit the other criteria. So naturally my first step was to boot up Wikipedia. I did a search for one-man plays, and within the first few results I discovered I am My Own Wife, a play by Doug Wright that I hadn’t even heard of before. A quick skim of the material, and I realised I’d found that opal.

The play tells the story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a transgender person who was born Lothar Berfelde in East Berlin in 1928. Having long been abused and threatened by her father, teenage Charlotte’s eventual response was to kill him. She was detained for a short while as a juvenile delinquent. Once free, Charlotte began work as a second-hand goods dealer and became an antiquarian, developing her own museum collection of everyday items. She survived both the Nazi and the Communist regimes, despite living openly as a transgender person who loved men, known for always wearing a black dress and pearls. Charlotte died in 2002 at the age of 74.

She is not an unproblematic person to like, having expressed opinions about gays and lesbians that are rather offensive. It also seems she was a Stasi informant, or at least they tried to use her as such – but then that was their modus operandi, and apparently at least one in three ‘ordinary’ people were compromised in similar ways. The very fact that Charlotte stubbornly survived 74 years as her own self is remarkable, and perhaps it’s inevitable that in our eyes she can seem rather cross-grained.

Doug Wright wrote the play based on his own research and on his interviews with Charlotte; the play often dramatises his research and writing process. The title comes from Charlotte’s answer to her family when Lothar was asked when he’d marry: there was no need for Lothar to marry, because ‘I am my own wife.’ The play premiered in 2003, and won the Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Lead Actor in a Play in 2004, as well as earning Wright the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

While it is a one-man play, the actor is required to present not only the character of Charlotte, but also over thirty other characters, including Doug Wright himself. All with only one costume change…

Honestly, I couldn’t have made any of that up! Not Charlotte herself, bless her, nor the play. A one-man play with over thirty characters…? Inconceivable!

So of course this was exactly the play I was looking for. What an irresistible challenge for Grae to take up, and what a recommendation of his talents! He got to explore aspects of someone who firmly embodied a queer identity – and not only that, Charlotte’s rather self-contained persona emphasised his own isolation.

Meanwhile, his two lovers Ben and Chris remain in London playing Edward and Gaveston in Marlowe’s Edward II. Not only were they together, but they were playing an ardent pair of lovers, and there was barely even a mention of Edward’s Isabella.

And this all led to other serendipities within the novel as well, such as the Charlotte-related present Ben and Chris give Grae to remember them by when he leaves London, and then me having fun imagining a Charlotte-inspired photo shoot for Grae, and then having Ben choosing one of those photos as expressing something true about how he feels for Grae, and…

It was serendipity of the most marvellous kind! Thank you, Charlotte, and thank you, Doug. My novel would be dimensionally poorer without you.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014


Ahead of the publication of Jane Elliot's new book RANDY on 1 August, you may like to wander on over to MMGoodBookReviews where she's recently been interviewed and is now offering a free copy of her previous title THIS MEANS WAR to a commenter on the blog; good luck to everyone who takes part!

Two new titles announced today!

We can now bring you details of our two exciting new titles, scheduled for publication on 1 August!

There's a welcome return for Jane Elliot, who brings us another of her always-popular authentic stories featuring gay life in the Old West. Here, it's the tale of Garrison who - down on his luck after a series of catastrophes - is rescued by RANDY, a young man who will change his life in ways he can't even begin to count. Unfortunately, though, the path to true love never did run smooth ...

The main protagonist in Liz Powell's novel HUNTED is facing a similar crisis - but there the similarities end! Adam is a professional footballer, and everything he says or does is subject to scrutiny; when rumours of his affair with team-mate Louie begin to surface, he might just as well have a target painted on his back - and Adam's increasingly desperate efforts to deflect suspicion only seem to make things worse ...

Liz is a new member of the MANIFOLD PRESS family; we'd like to welcome her to the fold and wish her and her book every possible success.

Friday, 27 June 2014


We've said it before, but we mean it - we'll never get tired of seeing reviews pop up unexpectedly for books which are a year or two old, because it means that a whole new set of readers have the chance to find a book which may have slipped out of the spotlight a bit. That wouldn't be a fair description of Julie Bozza's BUTTERFLY HUNTER, though - there always seems to be someone talking about it somewhere in the world!

This time, the review is by Breann at Boy Meets Boy Reviews:

I saw all the 4 and 5 star reviews. Sure, I knew that most of my friends loved it. But while I was reading I thought it was a nice enough story. But then, all of a sudden, my heart is breaking. And I realize that I have fallen head over heels for these characters and am smacked in the face with too much emotion.

We know just what you mean, Breann - it hit us that way, too, the first time we read it, and we're very glad the old magic's still working! Thank you very much for your kind comments.

Sunday, 15 June 2014


The reason it's taken a week for us to get round to talking about our experiences at UK Meet 2014 is, quite frankly, that it completely exhausted us! There were a lot of preparations to be made in advance, there was a lot of tidying-up to do afterwards, and the weekend itself involved rather more dashing-about and being intelligent than some of us had actually fully bargained for!

As veterans of various media cons in the dim-and-distant, we had a general idea what to expect - although this was considerably up-market from those, and the hotel staff in general seemed far more amenable than we were used to. (For example, we've been to cons where all the bedspreads were removed from the rooms - in winter - because they were considered too good for the Star Trek wierdies ... )  Plus the food was plentiful, excellent and served with a smile - all reflected in a delegate rate which in the old days would have paid for the entire weekend including transport and costumes. Not that we're complaining, you understand - merely remarking on how much times have changed!

Our table was set up in the main hall, very close to the front, and we were therefore in an ideal position to listen to whatever was going on. We won't attempt to summarise any of the discussions - other people have done this, better and more accurately than we could, but we will say that the level of debate was very impressive and all conducted efficiently and in an atmosphere of calm co-operation. The main focus of our day, however, was the group of pitch meetings we took in the early afternoon, settling ourselves in the deserted 'Palm Court Bar' for the purpose. It would be unfair to discuss the authors or their pitches in any detail, so we'll only say that we loved meeting every single one of them - four thoroughly charming people - and we're actively pursuing several of their book ideas for future publication - watch this space!

Saturday evening was the formal dinner with entertainment; a wonderful drag artiste by the name of Eddie (?) was followed by The Songbirds, an all-female choir, and afterwards some young men in bow-ties and aprons and very little else. The room was packed to the gunwhales, you couldn't have got another person in there, and it must be admitted that some of us found it all a little bit too loud - with the result that we were pretty well exhausted by the time our lift came to take us back to Megaheadquarters for the night. (Since the event was in our home city of Bristol, three of us had decided to save on the price of the hotel; Julie, however, forked out for a room - and a lovely one it was, too, far above the standard of those cheapo venues alluded to earlier!)

Sunday was another lovely day, bright and fresh, and we returned for a further series of fascinating discussions and some serious networking. The event dispersed in mid-afternoon and we withdrew to Megaheadquarters for what in military parlance would be a PXD - a post-exercise discussion; basically a chance to digest and begin to respond to everything we'd learned over the weekend. (Occasions when we're all together are few and far between, unfortunately, so we have to grab every opportunity we can get for a bit of forward planning!) We emerged well-pleased with the whole experience and fully determined to attend again next year, and we've already started working towards it. You see, you can't ever stand still in this business - you're always working towards the next objective, and the objective after that! But we had a lovely time, very productive, and would like to thank all the people who put so much hard work and inspiration into making sure the event ran entirely seamlessly. For those of us who are far more used to the chaotic catastrophes which characterised fan-run conventions in the past, this was a very clear and graphic demonstration of exactly how it should be done!

Oh, and here's the photographic evidence - pictures kindly supplied by Julie!


Here are Julie and Morgan 'personing' our sales table in the main hall; you can see we had a wonderful range of stock, and we sold quite a lot of it too!


And here are Chris, Julie, Morgan and Fiona all gussied-up for the formal dinner; there may or may not be a couple of glasses of champagne behind some of those smiles! (Come to think of it, that's another thing we didn't get at any of those old-style media cons!!!)



There is one question that I’ve been asked more often than any other in real life with regards to my writing, the question that every woman who openly writes gay fiction will eventually get asked: “Why do you write GAY fiction?”

(It’s funny how no one ever asks why I write books featuring rich characters, or poor characters, or military characters, or smart characters, or dumb characters. Heck, I once wrote a novel in which an acid-scarred former supermodel did battle against super-powered flying battle machines and no one blinked an eye. But once you bring GAY MEN into the mix, well, now you’ve got people wondering.)

I’m sure the answer to this question varies from author to author (though most of them, I suspect, will include the words “hot” and/or “sexy” at some point) and I have quite a few answers myself. What they all boil down to, though, is one thing: gender roles. Namely, my absolute and complete loathing of traditional gender roles.

I used to belong to a writers’ group. The first book I presented to them was a YA novel featuring a background heterosexual romance, but mostly focused on a couple of kickass female characters and a one major supporting male character. And the very first comment I received was: “your male character is too weak”. And when I asked what that meant, the explanation was that the problem lay in the fact that “male character was weaker than the female character”.

To that I say, “Fantastic! I did my job right, then.”

Unfortunately, that’s not what most mainstream publishers want. They want female characters who are strong but vulnerable and who secretly, deep down, really just need a man to lean on. And that dynamic interests me not at all.

This is why I love writing gay fiction. No one requires me to write a built-in, society-mandated power imbalance. If I want my guys to both kick ass, that’s great. If I want one to be big and burly and totally a bottom, that’s cool, too. If I want my female characters to universally and unequivocally kick ass, no one is going to complain.

(And, you know, I don’t have to even consider the question of kids and/or pregnancy. Bonus!)

In short, what I love about writing gay fiction is the complete freedom to write characters the way I want them to be, rather than the way society tells me they should be. For that, I’ll take a hundred iterations of THAT question.

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With Jane's permission, we'd like to point out that this blogpost by Sue Brown also deals with a similar topic - although Jane's blogpost was written a short time ago, it turns out to be remarkably timely! You can also click through from Sue's blog to another by Amy Lane on the same subject - all excellent food for thought.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

New reviews of THIS MEANS WAR

Just before all the madness started ahead of UK Meet - which we'll be telling you about when we've got our breath back properly! - we were notified of a couple of new reviews of Jane Elliot's recent title THIS MEANS WAR. Taking them in chronological order, the first appeared on Boys In Our Books on 2 February but unfortunately slipped through the net. Reviewer Ami wrote:

It was a nice read – I still enjoyed it, especially because Brian could surprise Jasper when it came to pranks. But was it a needed sequel? Not so much, unfortunately. And would I actually recommend it? Uhm, only if you are okay with slice-of-life and enjoyed the first book…

Clearly it didn't quite push all her buttons, which is a shame, but we appreciate her comments anyway!

More recently, Portia de Moncur at MM Good Book Reviews had this to say:

This story has a bit of everything, fun pranks, snarky jasper, a broken Brian a cute, funny cat, and mystery. The sex scenes while hot are very tastefully done and for the most part off page.

If you like, a fun, fast-paced story with romance and mystery, like pranks, broken men, ex-military men, smart men, good friends, adorable cats, and committed couples this is for you. I can’t wait for the next one.

Which only goes to prove that tastes differ, and it's quite impossible for everyone to like everything equally! Thank you, too, to Portia for her comments.

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On a slightly different topic, we don't think we've mentioned yet that two of Adam Fitzroy's books, STAGE WHISPERS and MAKE DO AND MEND, are now available in PoD editions and can be bought directly from CreateSpace or from your local Amazon Marketplace - see links on the appropriate pages of our website. We understand that Adam is also planning to offer some copies on eBay in due course.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

It's the first of June!

Just a reminder to readers that the two books we published on 1 May - Julie Bozza's popular A THREEFOLD CORD and Jay Lewis Taylor's highly-regarded debut title DANCE OF STONE - can now be bought from our distribution partners Smashwords and Amazon, and will shortly be available from AllRomance eBooks too. In addition, there's also a paperback version of A THREEFOLD CORD which is available to order from CreateSpace. You'll find buy links on the relevant pages of our website.

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While we're on the subject, it will probably come as no surprise to anyone to learn that our overall best-seller for the month of May was Julie Bozza's A THREEFOLD CORD!

Friday, 30 May 2014

New review of A THREEFOLD CORD

No sooner had we posted this morning than we became aware of another review of Julie Bozza's A THREEFOLD CORD, this time by KindleRomance over on The Romance Reviews:

The conversations between these characters were also perfect in their simplicity. They addressed several issues including how to tell their family and how to address sex when there were only two of them available. Watching them address the issue of jealousy through their thoughts and actions put me on the edge, wondering if this relationship could truly be pulled off.

Once again, Julie's book seems to have reached an appreciative audience; thank you for your comments, KindleRomance, and we're very pleased to know you liked it!

New reviews

As regular readers will be aware, we aren't always informed when new reviews of our books appear; indeed, very often the first we know about them is when there is a sudden surge in sales of a particular title! However we do also from time to time do searches to pick up anything we may have missed, which is how we came to know of the following two reviews!
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Reviewer Tina at The Novel Approach seems to have thoroughly enjoyed Julie Bozza's most recent offering!

I’m a big fan of Julie Bozza’s previous work. After my initial surprise at a ménage gay romance novel titled after a Bible verse, I found that A Threefold Cord is another great book by a favorite author. I found it to be uplifting and cleverly written. The pace, tone and narrative are all excellent, as if forming their own threefold cord.

What a lovely comment - thank you, Tina, we're very glad you liked it!

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Meanwhile, Ilhem over at Boys in Our Books has been reading one of our older titles, Morgan Cheshire's SOLEMN CONTRACT - and, without being completely wowed, still had some extremely positive things to say about it:

I’m surprised that this story remains underrated. Granted, it doesn’t linger on the sex scenes, but the romance is sweet, the feelings take their time to grow from friendship to love, the writing is smooth, and the twists and turns are bad enough to piss you off on Jem’s behalf, but not explored enough to make you feel bad. “Solemn Contract” will not shake your world, but it can provide an easy, enjoyable read and a nice change of scenery

We'd have to agree, Ilhem; those who like a leisured pace of storytelling and books that aren't necessarily sexually explicit will find a lot to enjoy in Morgan's book.

- - - - -

Thank you again to both reviewers for their time and their comments, and we're only sorry that we were a little late in picking up on them!

Thursday, 29 May 2014


Over on MM Good Book Reviews, a reviewer named Cat has been taking a look at the paperback edition of Julie Bozza's OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES.  It's only a short review but a very positive one, and she ends with the words:

If you like sweet, sensual, emotional romances, sexy Australians, hot English dignitaries, butterflies, beautiful scenery, and a little very sensual, loving mansex, same-sex weddings and happy for now endings, this is for you.

Who could possibly argue with that?  And thank you very much, Cat, for your good opinion!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

New review of THE EAGLE'S WING

Once again Elisa Rolle, steadfastly working her way through her TBR pile, has done us proud - this time with her highly favourable comments on Cimorene Ross's THE EAGLE'S WING:

It was also good to read how the author grasped the custom of the time: that Lucius bought Keret as a bed slave wasn't strange at all, but that he wanted a relationship with him was basically forbidden

and she closes by saying:

it was for sure an original Gay romance, out of the thousand of titles you can find out there.

We figure if anyone should know about those 'thousands of titles' it's Elisa, and we're very glad that she felt this one stood out from the crowd. Thank you, Elisa, and congratulations to Cimorene for making an impression!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Friday, 9 May 2014


We're proud to announce a new anthology now open for submissions. Titled A Pride of Poppies, it will feature short stories set during World War I (1914-18) featuring GLBTQI people as the main characters. We would love to present a real range of settings and characters, so feel free to explore the possibilities! Our only stipulation is that both sex and violence should be kept to a ‘mild R’ rating with an adult mainstream audience in mind.

In acknowledgement of the centenary of the Great War, all proceeds from sales of this book will be donated to charity. We have already contacted one of the major service charities, and will pursue that further once the book is coming together.

More details are available on our website here:

If you have any queries - or indeed any submissions! - please contact editor Julie Bozza via email:

New review of A THREEFOLD CORD

Over on Mrs Condit and Friends Read Books, reviewer Feliz seems to have been bowled over by Julie Bozza's new title A THREEFOLD CORD.

All three main characters are lovingly drawn, essentially ordinary people with mundane flaws that make them all the more human. And yet they’re able to go beyond themselves for love’s sake. They disregard conventions and overcome their own misgivings out of love.

It’s beautiful, it’s amazing what people are able to do for love, and the reward makes it all worthwhile. This was the message I took from this story, and it made me close the book with a blissful sigh. Highly, highly recommended.

Thank you, Feliz, we couldn't agree more - and there are plenty of other readers who seem to feel the same way too!

Friday, 2 May 2014

New reviews of A THREEFOLD CORD

The reviewers have been very quick off the mark this time, hovering over their keyboards in eager anticipation of publication day. In fact, one even got in ahead of time with a pre-release review!

First to pass an opinion was Jenni at Boys in our Books, who asks a series of very pertinent questions in her review, culminating in the following:

Has Bozza changed my mind about all ménage? Heck no. But if she’s writing about it, I’m reading it…and probably liking it lots.

Dead-heating for second place were Tina at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews ...

Love is love and it appears in all colours of the rainbow. When it comes your way, you better be ready to grab it with both hands. And once you have grabbed it, hold on to it, it’s a gift that needs to be cherished and to be held dear. And read this book!!!

... and Mandy at Hearts on Fire Reviews:

All I can say is, if you enjoy Julie’s wonderful writing or if you like ménage stories (and oh boy do I ever!) or you just want a beautifully told story with men finding their way together, this is THE book for you.

Thank you very much to all three reviewers for their time and their valuable comments; it would be difficult to imagine giving any book a very much better start in the world than this!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Statistics for April

Just to bring everyone fully up to date, we're pleased to report that our best-seller for the month of April was Adam Fitzroy's THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE. Well done, Adam!

And now we turn our attention to preparations for our two new books for 1 August - one from an old favourite, the other from a writer new to us - and to other exciting future developments which we're longing to tell you about as soon as they've been finalised. Watch this space for details, book-lovers!

Two new titles published today!

We are proud to announce that our two new titles are now on sale - although those of you who hover over your keyboards waiting for our online shop module to update have probably realised that already!

Julie Bozza explores another unconventional relationship in A THREEFOLD CORD; Chris, Ben and Grae are three young actors enmeshed in a web of attractions – the only solution to which seems to be to think the unthinkable. Yet it’s a delicate process of negotiation, not without its difficulties …

Jay Lewis Taylor’s DANCE OF STONE is set in the mediaeval period when religion and superstition were constantly at war – and, for master mason Hugh, being drawn towards his own sex is fraught with the potential for disaster.

These books couldn’t be more different, yet they both explore intriguing facets of our chosen genre and introduce us to fascinating characters and concepts we may not have considered before – all part of our continuing endeavour to bring you the widest possible variety of high-quality gay fiction!

Congratulations to our two authors - publication day is without question the most exciting day of all! - and best wishes for the success of both their titles.

Don't forget that you can take part in a Twitter chat with @juliebozza @jaylewistaylor @ManifoldPressUK and @AdamFitzroy at 7 p.m. this evening (UK time), and our authors will also be available to answer questions on Goodreads from 9 p.m. (UK time) on Saturday 10 May for 24 hours. We hope to see many of you there!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The 2014 AGM in Weymouth - The Unusual Suspects


Here's a picture of your trusty Manifold Press authors and editors (no names, no packdrill) relaxing over a meal at our AGM, which this year was held in Weymouth. This was taken after a wonderful meal at Prezzo, where the staff couldn't have been more helpful - and we're disappointed to report that very little alcohol was consumed the whole weekend; in fact we worked out that it was precisely one drink each.

On the Saturday morning we went to the Abbotsbury Subtropical Garden and actually had our formal meeting in a corner of the Colonial Restaurant - nobody seemed to mind. We made a lot of decisions about the future of the Press, all of which were very exciting and most of which you will start to see evidence of over the next few weeks and months. Our business is gradually expanding, and we'd like to continue with that trend; we're hearing pitches from authors at UK Meet in a few weeks' time and after that we should have a very much clearer idea of how everything is going to shape up. One thing's for sure, though, it certainly isn't going to be dull!

Satisfied with our 'working day', we then settled down to enjoy the rest of our time in Weymouth. After a thorough tour of the gardens - which were a bit damp underfoot but otherwise spectacular - we all returned to our accommodation and then assembled again in the evening for our meal. On the Sunday, although some of us had to leave relatively early, the rest managed lunch at the hotel before a gentle expedition to Portland which culminated in a trip to the excellent Chesil Beach Visitor Centre; both the view and the cakes there are highly recommended. (They also have chocolate ammonites, which is more than enough reason for a visit in itself.)

Finally dispersing late on Sunday afternoon, we reached our separate destinations that same evening exhausted but extremely happy; this was our finest AGM so far, and plans for next year's extravaganza are already well in hand. In fact, we're counting down the days ...

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

New review of ALWAYS WITH US

Morgan Cheshire's ALWAYS WITH US is the most recent of our titles to come to the benevolent attention of Elisa at her influential blog Reviews and Ramblings, and once again we seem to have made a good impression on her:

Harrison and Daniel's relationship is like embers more than fire; there is passion, and warmth, but they aren't full flames, so much that Harrison, until forced by someone else to analyze his feelings towards Daniel, hadn't realized they were love.

It would be fair to say that, like Harrison and Daniel's relationship, Morgan's book has been a bit of a slow-burner - but, to pursue the metaphor, we also believe that it has great staying-power; it's a book that people fall in love with, and the feeling tends to last. Thank you, Elisa, for making it possible for even more people to fall in love with ALWAYS WITH US!

Sunday, 20 April 2014


Elisa, of Reviews and Ramblings, has very kindly taken time out from her many other responsibilities to read and comment on Julie's book THE APOTHECARY'S GARDEN.

I liked how respectful the author was of these two men, and how she didn't deprive them of the sexual nature of their relationship. Tom is 23 years old and it would be unbelievable if he hadn't desires; sure their love making is different from that of two twenty something fellows, but nevertheless is satisfying for the both of them.

It's always gratifying when an author's obvious affection for her characters transmits itself to the reader, and we're glad to know that Tom and Hilary are still making new friends out there in the big wide world! Thank you for your comments, Elisa!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


DANCE OF STONE can't claim the record gestation of Cimorene Ross's THE EAGLE'S WING, but I do recall that I bought the first book for research purposes in the late 1980s. It had to be a book, for even in university libraries the internet was unheard-of. I researched for six happy months or more, and then Ken Follett published Pillars of the Earth, his (unreadable, at least by me) novel of mediaeval cathedral-building, and stopped me in my tracks.

Finishing the unfinished, so many years later, there have been revelations: how much information is online; how a book planned to be 50,000 words long can explode to twice its length under the pressure of history; how medieval studies have changed since I was an undergraduate (1980-1983, for the record).

Books, of course, are still indispensable. One arrived too late, or I would definitely have borrowed from it: Medieval obscenities, editor Nicola McDonald. Who knew that there were spoof pilgrim badges depicting a prick on legs? And how about the cover?

One sentence in the Introduction struck me: "For all of the famed restrictions of Christian doctrine and medieval modes of social conduct, the Middle Ages was, perhaps paradoxically, a period that seems to have accommodated, in ways our liberal society does not or seems not to, what we might broadly call the rude, bawdy or obscene."

And, if obscenity, why not homosexuality? Could the Middle Ages have accommodated it in a way later European society didn't? And if so, why do we know so little about that?

But first, a reminder: 1. The Church had nothing against men loving one another - in the spiritual sense. 2. When it came to the fleshly sense, even the heterosexual population was perilously and perennially on the verge of committing the deadly sin of Lechery. There are fifty shades of everything...

So, researching "Homosexuality in the Middle Ages". Questions: Did it actually happen? Can I research something for which there is so little record? And - homosexuality?

Last question first: the word "homosexuality" is first recorded (not in English) in 1869. One could dive very deep into queer theory, and drown in arguments. Was there a male/male relationship culture at any period in history, or simply the act of men making love and/or having sex with other men? Whether or no: did the change between "then" and "now" happen in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance or the Enlightenment or the Regency or ... when? And what exactly is meant by sodomy? (quite a lot: anal sex with a woman; heterosexual intercourse with a pagan; with a Jew; with a Muslim... )

Middle question. Yes, research is easy with the internet. Accurate research is another matter. Objectivity, for example: a clerk's Latin poem can be interpreted as an expression of platonic love or of forbidden desire (although there seems little room for doubt when a monk writes of sex "between the slippery thighs of boys" being better than sex with a woman). In the context of DANCE OF STONE, what about the Lionheart? We've all seen that episode with Richard and Philip in The Lion in Winter, haven't we?

*sigh* It seems to depend on the researcher's sexuality; and on whether said researcher likes the person in question. One gay historian includes Richard I as a homosexual because of the word "bedfellow"; another gay historian excludes (in another case) James I, because the word "bedfellow" doesn't necessarily have that meaning. Take your pick.

Then there is the problem of what was recorded, and whether the record survived. The late twelfth century just preceded the great record-keeping mania of Henry III's reign and onwards. Adam Lock is recorded as master mason at Wells from the 1190s to 1230. Of his predecessor there is no trace; but in the gap between the unknown and the recorded, imagination has room to play. That predecessor could have been Hugh de Barham.

First question last: Did male/male sex happen? Of course it did: as a behaviour, it's surely as old as human desire. And there are records, of a sort: the penitentials allocate scales of penance for men confessing - one wonders how many didn't confess! - to sex with another man. And why have a penance for something that doesn't happen?

But, remarkably - despite all the penitentials, despite the thunderings concerning "love against nature", despite the threat of damnation - genuine accusations, trials, convictions for sodomy, are few. Vanishingly few.


Theory a) The threats and penitence were deterrent enough, and it didn't happen...

Hmm... seems unlikely.

Theory b) People were not actually that bothered by it to the point of bringing it to trial.

Could be. In England common law still had priority over canon (church) law, as Thomas Becket found when at loggerheads with Henry II. Sodomy was a moral, therefore a church, offence, not a civil crime - unless rape was involved, and even then it was almost impossible to secure a conviction unless the person attacked was under age.

Theory c) It happened, and it was kept secret.

I have played with this theory in DANCE OF STONE, based on the wisps of evidence that can be dug from the sources; the "half-world" that Hugh encounters in The Swan might be the evolutionary ancestor of the molly-houses and male brothels of later centuries.

One last thing made Hugh's story possible: the time when he lived. Medieval Christianity was not as monolithic and inflexible as popular prejudice has it: there were opinions and counter-opinions and factions and even atheists, in other words a constant to-and-fro of ideas with a certain amount of give-and-take. England, in fact, was considered remarkable for housing people who held all sorts of dissident opinions while not subscribing to any organised heresy.

This all changed when the anti-Cathar, Albigensian Crusade swept bloodily across the south of France, not long after the ending of DANCE OF STONE. Faced with external threats, the Church began to draw in upon itself, to become the Us against the Other; after 1214 sodomy was perceived as a sign of, indeed part and parcel of, heresy. This perception held firm in England until 1562; quite unintentionally, I had set Hugh and his story in the last decade for centuries when he would be safe from the worst excesses of the law, if not from the prejudices of his fellow men and women.

When I began it, DANCE OF STONE was intended to be a straight - in every sense of the word - historical novel. Then Fiona asked if I would write something medieval for Manifold Press, and I planned an M/M romance with a medieval setting. Researching to the depth I needed has, however, changed the book I meant to write, and now it is - I hope - a serious historical novel, featuring two men whose just happen to desire other men, whether in love or lust. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Friday, 11 April 2014


Reviewer Mandy, who had previously given her opinion of Julie's THE APOTHECARY'S GARDEN on Goodreads, has now also posted it to the Hearts on Fire review website:

I bought the paperback of this book and took it with me to all my appointments and read it while I was waiting, which took a bit, but honestly, this book deserves the slow approach. It deserves to be savored and enjoyed, like a good cup of tea. Not rushed through.

Honestly, we couldn't agree more; a good book is one you can become absorbed in and spend a lot of time with, and if takes the boredom out of waiting for appointments it's more than served its purpose. Thank you, Mandy, we're very glad to know that this one worked for you!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Two new titles announced today!

We’re very pleased to be able to bring you news of our titles to be published on 1 May:

Once again Julie Bozza will be exploring an unconventional relationship in A THREEFOLD CORD; Chris, Ben and Grae are three young actors enmeshed in a web of attractions – the only solution to which seems to be to think the unthinkable. Yet it’s a delicate process of negotiation, not without its difficulties …

We’re also delighted to introduce you to the work of an impressive new author, Jay Lewis Taylor. Jay’s book DANCE OF STONE is set in the mediaeval period when religion and superstition were constantly at war – and, for master mason Hugh, being drawn towards his own sex is fraught with the potential for disaster.

These two books couldn’t be more different, yet they both explore intriguing facets of our chosen genre and introduce us to fascinating characters and concepts we may not have considered before – all part of our continuing endeavour to bring you the widest possible variety of high-quality gay fiction!

The two titles we published on 1 February, Jane Elliot’s THIS MEANS WAR and Adam Fitzroy’s THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE, will shortly be available from our partner sites for those of you who prefer to obtain them that way.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Reviews are like buses; you can wait ages for one, and then suddenly two come along at the same time! In fact, GiGi's review of Adam Fitzroy's THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE appeared on MM Good Book Reviews at the beginning of March, but we have only just become aware of it - for which we apologise, both to GiGi and also to Adam.

This story is an honest look at life’s mistakes, adventures, relationships both good and bad, and the balance between relationships and commitments, how they both conspire to shift the path we take in life.

It's a lovely, thoughtful review which really gets to the heart of the book's central theme; thank you, GiGi, very much indeed!

Saturday, 22 March 2014


The review business has been very quiet lately; we suspect people are just overwhelmed by the sheer number of new books coming out. However we were very pleased to see that Adam's THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE had recently been favourably reviewed by Breann at The Romance Reviews:

I'm not a huge fan of mystery but this was well done and held my attention throughout.

There was mystery and romance, and the two were blended together nicely to make a really enjoyable read.

It's nice to know that we can sometimes tempt a reader out of their comfort zone and still manage to keep their attention - thank you very much, Breann, for your kind remarks!

Saturday, 15 March 2014


Everyone who writes historical fiction must enjoy research and want to reflect in their writing the customs of their chosen period of history. I'm not referring to the 'historicals' read by devotees of the romance shelves back in the days when I was a junior in the library – their only connections with history were usually long skirts, carriages rather than cars, and no electricity – although I do remember we whiled away boring late-opening nights by looking for glaring anachronisms in the cheaper end of the market. The advent of the internet has made research much easier and leaves the author with no excuse for not checking facts, although I must admit that I still prefer books; indeed, Fiona and Morgan have complained for years that I love research more than writing! They may have a point, otherwise it wouldn't have taken me more than thirty years to complete THE EAGLE'S WING. The story itself, though, actually first emerged twenty years before that as a 6th Form project, after 'A' Levels were over and when we needed an occupation – apart from the 6th Form play – until the end of the term. Some of that original survived into the finished novel, so coming from a long line of pack-rats definitely has its advantages! However, as other people have already discussed the joys of research in these guest blogs, Fiona suggested that perhaps I might explore homosexuality in the ancient world – and, after knowing her for nearly forty years, I know when to take the hint!

Because very few non-religious texts survive from classical times, it is impossible to make any definitive statements. Opinions differ over the social norms regarding sexual life, and in any case there must have been considerable variation throughout the centuries and civilisations from Sumer to the Hittites. In the few texts mentioning homosexuality in Ancient Egypt, for example, only the New Kingdom Book of the Dead implied that it was condemned. As may be expected, some scholars believe that this was only aimed at priests and other personnel who were banned from any form of sex on temple premises.

Egyptian society expected every male to marry early and produce children, so both prostitution and homosexuality were officially frowned upon but probably flourished regardless. Once a man was married, with a household of his own, he no doubt lived the rest of his life precisely as he pleased. As with all ancient civilisations, however, our knowledge is based on the upper classes; the hoi polloi were too busy scraping a living to become educated or to leave much evidence of their lives.

It's in the myths of the Egyptian gods where the topic of homosexuality takes a starring role; Seth and Horus were not condemned for their night of passion so much as that it developed into complicated infighting in the hierarchy of the gods, an all-too-common occurrence in the pantheons of ancient civilisations.

There is a funeral stele showing two young men face-to-face – and, likewise, two theories. The simple one is that they were a gay couple, the other that they were twins buried together as they were born together and thus creating the balance the Egyptians lived by. Take your pick; expert opinion, as always, is deeply divided!

Another story is straight out of the defunct tabloid newspaper 'The News of the World'; a pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom was observed sneaking out of the palace at night to visit his lover, a general in the army. Funnily enough, it wasn't his choice of paramour that incensed people; their complaint was that he brought the kingship into disrepute by sloping out under cover of darkness.

By the time of the Greeks, and then the Romans, there are plenty of texts including laws, literature and graffiti. In Greece the heterosexual relationship wasn't the centre of social life; women were uneducated and confined to the home, while men conducted their lives in public. Educating a youth to become a man, a worthy citizen, was the responsibility of an older man – a relationship bound by strict rules of courtship and behaviour which was only supposed to last a specific period of time. Continuing in the passive role as an adult was frowned upon but not unknown; once maturity was reached and facial hair sprouted the youth was supposed to abandon the passive role – both cultural and sexual – to take his place in civic life, marry, raise children and become the educator of his own beloved youth. It was a way of life which had started as an initiation rite in pre-classical times and reached its peak in the last few centuries before Rome conquered Greece. The Greeks didn't differentiate between homosexuality and heterosexuality so much as between active and passive patterns of behaviour.

Rome held no truck with the Greek way of courting a beloved, or of educating the object of desire; to an upper-class Roman, this was merely lack of virility. A male Roman had to be the active one in any sexual encounter, regardless of the gender of his partner, and the passive male sexual partner of a Roman had to be of a class lower than his own – whereas in Greece the chosen beloved had to be freeborn and from a good family.

Rome rejected the Greek tradition of 'courtly love', as losing oneself in love and sensuality was considered moral slavery and thus a dark shame – especially if it affected public deportment and social relations. It was felt that a well-born man must never submit himself either physically or morally to an inferior of either sex – and all women were by nature considered inferior!

By the late Republic and early Empire standards had slipped, and Rome embraced pleasure with enthusiasm. Augustus introduced laws attempting to restore morality to his city – without much effect, as the upper-class man, including Augustus himself, continued not to distinguish between male and female partners. There was no such thing as privacy in Rome; the Romans had no need of the internet – their 'social networking' came in the form of household slaves. Members of the ruling class were never alone, and their slaves gossiped – at the fountain, in the markets and shops, and while attending their masters in public. Gossip must have spread widely to reach the ears of the masters and mistresses, and thus it's no wonder that the literature of ancient Rome comprises such a vast amount of scandal.

Sadly, however, in time the more open attitudes of the pagan world died out; belief in the old gods faded, and the harsh laws of the new religions of Christianity and Islam were enforced with a severity that had never previously been encountered. Sic transit gloria mundi.