The Things We Hide At Home Release

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So, The Things We Hide At Home has finally got a release date – 25th of January 2020!

It’s been a long time coming for this book. Originally it was accepted by Less Than Three Press to be published last year, and that was after a bit of a stop-start when I couldn’t decide what to do with the book. Then LT3 closed down and it was left without a home! Fortunately, JMS Books took me on and agreed to publish it instead, and at last, Tenny and David will be introduced to the world.

Due to the tight release time frame, I’m going to try and squeeze in an ebook giveaway for this release, and maybe later I will do some kind of promo tour etc. For some reason, I always end up doing these things after the fact lol. Not very good marketing strategy.

You can find The Things We Hide At Home on Goodreads!

The Things We Hide At Home to be published!

Good news: The Things We Hide At Home has now been accepted by JMS Books to be published, and its expected publication date is in January 2020! It was originally accepted by Less Than Three shortly before the publisher announced it was closing down, so it never made it to its release date. Fortunately, JMS has given it a new home now, which makes me so happy as it’s the first non-Fantasy thriller I’ve ever written. I hope people will love the characters as much as I do!

I’ve recently been working on an entirely brand new project that is related to the Lunar Shadows series. I want to make Lunar Shadows more of a universe with many standlone books that have cameos and interwoven lore. This current project is technically a prequel to the first two books but it is an entirely unrelated storyline that stands totally apart and alone, so the other books don’t need to be read for it to be enjoyed. It is steeped deeply in my love of the 1980s, so I’m trying to work in as much 80s fashion, music and pop culture as I can without it being one giant name-drop. I guess I am trying to capture the soul of the 80s in one book haha. Again, I am writing with a trans male MC.

I did, for awhile, feel obliged to change things up a bit and non write trans men as my main characters every time, but then I thought to myself, well, many cis authors just write MCs that are the same gender as they are and never change it up, so why should I? So, I think I will likely be writing with trans guys again in the very near future, once this project is done.

I also have a collection of short stories I wrote some time ago, which I plan to edit up and make into an anthology. I plan to release it as one of the first books through my own publishing company, Gurt Dog Press, which is still in its infancy.

Amendments to Witcheskin

I wanted to write a blog post about this, because since Witcheskin has been re-released, I decided to make some amendments based on what I’ve heard people saying in reviews. I want to reiterate that I don’t read reviews unless someone points me to them directly, mainly for my own mental health. I got asked directly by my PR manager as someone had asked whether I would make these amendments, so I want to talk about what’s been changed and why I changed it.

Mentions of ‘donkey’ or ‘donkey lashes’
I explained about this in a previous post some time ago. I chose not to change this for a long time because I felt that people weren’t understanding the language I had used. The characters I write use a lot of colloquial British language, slang and regional dialect, and the phrase ‘donkey lashes’ is one of those phrases commonly used where I come from. I think some people misinterpreted it as a racist slur, which is absolutely not what was meant by that. The thought that anyone would think I would write something horrible about a character I love so much makes me incredibly sad, especially since the phrase ‘donkey lashes’ is in fact a very nice compliment!

I decided to check with someone I know, who comes from Syria, about whether comparing someone to a donkey is an offensive thing where he comes from. Of course, Syria is only a small part of the Middle East, but he is Muslim and was raised in Muslim society. When I asked him about it, he actually laughed at me. He said that it’s no different to calling someone an ass, or an idiot, in English language, and that ‘donkey lashes’ isn’t a phrase he’d heard of before. When I explained it to him, he said that he did not think it was offensive. Of course, this is just one person’s opinion, just as finding the phrase offensive is another person’s opinion.

I decided to amend the book and remove the phrases because I love Maredudd; he’s very important to me, and I also think Owen would be horrified if anyone ever thought he would say something cruel about him. I think sometimes people assume that American English is the only version of English out there; ironic, considering British English is the original English, but there it is. There is a lot of British language that American speakers don’t recognise or understand, and also that non-native British speakers don’t recognise either. There’s even misunderstanding between British people from different localities! It’s a sad world when readers won’t make any attempt to understand slang or dialect (from any language, not just English) they’ve never seen before and instantly jump straight to being offended by it.

Of course, I want the message in my writing to be clear, so amending that erases any possibility that someone would misunderstand what Owen was saying about Maredudd.

Owen’s conversation about Wenda’s poly relationship
Okay, so this one actually made me chuckle quite a bit because I am actually poly myself and I live in a triad with my two partners. When I wrote this part of the story, I never thought that it would be interpreted that Owen is disgusted by Wenda’s poly relationship with Evan and Geraint. Reading it back to myself, I can see how that might be construed, so I decided to add in an extra sentence to make it clear that it’s actually Geraint that Owen is disgusted by, not the poly aspect! Owen doesn’t like that Wenda is dating Geraint, because Geraint is always nasty towards him, and imagining his father being in a relationship with the person who keeps hurling transphobic abuse at him makes Owen feel very uneasy. I hope that the additional sentence will make that clearer.

I want to write some more stories in future with poly relationships in them, since this is something I haven’t written about in detail just yet, but is a major part of my life.

Maredudd saying Morcant is not his real father
I chose not to amend this, because this is something that is quite close to me, and I think ultimately Maredudd’s words are his to speak about his relationship with Morcant. I can understand where someone is coming from when they say that saying an adoptive parent is not someone’s real parent can undermine the relationship between the non-bio parent and child. My children aren’t genetically mine; biologically, I had nothing to do with their conception. Does that mean that I’m not their ‘real dad’? Of course I’m their father, and kids will use ‘real’ in a less nuanced way to adults. But, coming from a family where one of my parents and their sibling was adopted, I’ve seen a different aspect of what it means to not be related to your family members. I learned as an older child that the grandparents I adored were not genetically related to me, and it totally changed how I viewed the world.

I’m not going to talk in detail about my parent and their experience with being adopted since it’s not my story to tell, but I will talk about my experience with that. I knew my biological grandmother, saw her regularly as a child, but I knew her as some kind of additional auntie or family friend and never understood who she was to me. I think my parent always needed to know who their biological parents were, and I think that’s something many adopted people go through. I also think calling someone your ‘real parent’ is no different to saying your ‘biological parent’; it’s just a turn of phrase.

I do feel that some people have an idea of how adoption and non-bio parenting should be portrayed in fiction, but in the real world it doesn’t always work that way. Many adopted people still see their bio parents as their ‘real parents’ and that’s just how it is. Maredudd knows that Morcant isn’t his biological father, and although he accepts that he will probably never see them, Maredudd thinks that his bio parents might still be out there.

This is just my opinion, based on my experiences, and in a way, those experiences are a part of Maredudd too, but that is why I decided not to change this part.

So, I actually ended up writing a lot more than I originally intended haha, but I suppose that’s a good thing since I realised I had more to say on the matter than I first thought! Sorry if some of it is a little meandering or doesn’t make sense; at the time of writing, I have quite a bad headache (obviously I’ve been playing too many video games). These amendments were made a week or two ago, so any copies sold from now on will have them. Obviously, if you acquire an older hard copy or an LT3 edition, it will still contain the original manuscript.

Lunar Shadows Re-Release Tour!

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To celebrate the re-release of the Lunar Shadows series through JMS Books, B Proud PR is hosting a blog tour and book giveaway! Check out the participants below:

October 14th
Mirri Gold
Author Niamh Murphy
Kinzie Things
B Proud PR

October 15th
Love Bytes Reviews
Books, Tattoos & Tea

October 16th
Bayou Book Junkie
LGBTQ Reads (Guest Post)

October 17th
Book After Book
Small Queer, Big Opinions

October 18th
Roanna Sylver
Queer Books Unbound

October 22nd
Joyfully Jay (Guest Post)

You can enter the book giveaway here and be in to win e-copies of both Witcheskin and Rough Sleepers! 5 days and counting until the winners are chosen!

If you’d like to read more about the books in the Lunar Shadows universe, you can do so here. You can also read about the characters here.

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LT3, Sweden and more

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that my publisher, Less Than Three Press, are very sadly closing down, which meant I had to find a new publisher for my novels. Someone very kindly directed me to JMS Books, a queer small press and they have taken me in as an LT3 refugee! So my books are going to get a re-release in August and September, for which I will be going some giveaways to celebrate.

I’m not 100% certain what’s going on with The Things We Hide At Home, which did get accepted for publication by LT3, but sadly never made it to release because they are closing down, but JMS have said they will take it on too. I just need to get the maniscript back haha. More later as it comes.

I moved to Sweden a couple of weeks ago, so I’m still settling in and looking for a stable job, which isn’t easy. It’s even harder when you aren’t fluent in Swedish and don’t have a personal number. It’s only been 3 weeks, so maybe I need to cut myself some slack. I have had some time recently to return to writing after spending the last few months organising the house move, which was pure hell and I’m so glad it’s over. I’ve returned to a particular project, not Lunar Shadows Vol. 3, but I do still have plans for that project. I hope that I can release that through JMS in future too, otherwise it would be a bit strange to have the first two and not the third.

In about 3 – 4 months I’m also going to become the dad to a set of triplets so I’ve definitely got my work cut out.

In Memory of Eva

On the 26th of May, I took my best friend to the vets for the last goodbye.

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I found Eva on a classifieds website over a decade ago. She was one and a half years old, and belonged to an old man who couldn’t keep her anymore. He had a heart condition that meant it was impossible for him to exercise her, so he knew it would be best if she went to another home. She had been given to him as a puppy after being rejected by her mother, with the belief that she wouldn’t make it as she was the runt and very poorly. His dedication and nuturing meant that she survived and grew into a bouncy, boistrous adolescent. As soon as I saw her picture, I knew it was meant to be. I’m very sad I don’t still have the photos from the advert.

Things were a little awkward in the beginning; she had never been trained to walk on a leash, so when I took her outside the apartment, she would scream and thrash to try and pull it free from her collar. She was also quite underweight and needed to be fed up to a decent size. People looked upon me with disgust, as though I was the cause of the situation, which was tough in the beginning, but I was determined to fix her and make her better. Of course, being that Eva had no interest in edible treats whatsoever, that made things quite a challenge as the only thing I could motivate her with was a tennis ball. I eventually figured out that using a head harness instead of clipping the lead to her collar immediately banished the screaming and we went from there. It took another year of constant messy carpets and large meals before she was the weight she needed to be.

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Right from the start, we were inseperable. Everywhere I went, she went, otherwise tantrums would arise, and even though it was annoying sometimes, I have to admit I kind of liked it. It felt good to be wanted so badly. It felt good to be loved unconditionally by someone who needed every iota of my attention. It didn’t matter that I was different. Eva came to me just before I began my transition, when I was somewhere in between male and female and weighed almost 30 stone, a time when I hated myself and the way I looked. Before she came along, I was reclusive and rarely left the house; she gave me a reason to get outside and breathe some fresh air. None of my hang-ups meant anything to her. I was her new master, and she depended on me for everything and in return, what I got was unwavering loyalty and selfless protection.

Within the first few months of her being mine, she protected me from several suspicious persons while out walking late in the centre of town. She made me feel safe and like I could go anywhere at any time without needing to worry that I was in danger. She would growl and her head would go down whenever someone approached that I felt was unsafe; she just seemed to ‘know’ without my even needing to say a thing to her. That aside, she regularly got compliments about how beautiful she was whenever we went to the park or if I walked her down the street. She knew she was photogenic and she loved the attention, as she was, despite her guarding me, an incredibly social dog who was excited to make new friends and greet new people.

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I have so many special memories of her that it’s difficult to choose just one. So many fun times, so many hilarious mishaps and some catastrophes. She was so wreckless that she would charge headlong down hills after the ball, regardless of consequences. One time she managed to follow the ball through a chainlink fence and down a 15 feet drop onto a main road where the traffic had to stop to let her fetch it before wandering along the roadside in search of us. I’ve never run so fast in my life! But when I got to the gate at the bottom, expecting the worst, she came running to me expectantly with the ball in her mouth as if nothing had even happened!

One time, I made the mistake of leaving the kitchen window of our house open during the hot summer. We woke the next morning to find that some pots and pans that had been on the draining board had been knocked to the ground and there were grubby handprints all over the window sill. The latch on the back door was undone, but the lock was in tact. A burglar had climbed through the window during the night and come face to face with Eva’s barking, unaware that she was shut in her crate in the living room, and had been so terrified that he had attempted to escape through the back door and climbed back out of the window. Nothing had been taken.

Eva was a chronic mail-eater, and even in her old age, we had to be careful about keeping her away from the front door if we were expecting post. For all her life, she had an ongoing vendetta with the postman. Nothing I did would persuade her otherwise. My wife has several books that she received in the post which have been imprinted with Eva’s toothmarks.

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No matter how many years went by, she was always up for adventure, come rain or shine. Of course, this story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning her little brother.

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God forbid any other dog should attempt to have a go at Dolphie when Eva was around. Only she was allowed to boss him about! But they adored each other, and when separated would actively look for each other around the house. He relied on her for guidance and always looked to her to figure out what was going on, because she was the leader and she knew the household better than he did. She always beat him at fetch.

Around the time of Dolphie’s passing, we began to notice that something wasn’t right with Eva. She started to fall down and trip over while walking, and then one day, we noticed she was dragging one of her back legs. I knew what it was straight away; I had seen the same thing happen to a friend’s German Shepherd. We carried on anyway, kept going to the park, kept going for walks, kept playing fetch… Until that wasn’t possible anymore. Degenerative Myelopathy took away my best friend’s ability to run and leap and play. Her mind was still active and she wanted to fetch, she wanted to go out, but she couldn’t anymore. Her legs grew weak and her feet grew blistered. She couldn’t climb the stairs, then she couldn’t climb the front door step. I had to lift her out onto the grass and stand with her to help her go to the bathroom. It was humiliating for a dog of such vivacity to be reduced to stumbling and collapsing when her mind was so ready to race.

Carrying my best friend up the stairs at night so that she could sleep at the foot of our bed was the time I realised that it wasn’t fair to let this continue.

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My heart was still broken by the loss of Dolphie. It took a long period of denial to pass before I was strong enough to say that this couldn’t go on. It was different with Dolphie; cancer took him from us, we didn’t have a choice. This time, I had to choose. I’ve never had responsibility of this magnitude, and I didn’t even think about it when I became a dog owner. I never considered that one day I would have to make such a decision. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life to date. She didn’t want to say goodbye to me and she would have hung on right to the bitter end if I had allowed her to, but I was a better person than that and I wouldn’t let her suffer. Dolphie would be waiting for her on the other side.

So that’s what I chose to do. One final visit to the vets.

Eva will always be a part of me, no matter what I do or where I go. She changed me at a time when I needed to change. She taught me to love myself. She made me get out and be a better person.

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On mornings when I wake to the sun shining, moments before I open my eyes, moments before I am fully conscious, sometimes I hear the sound of paws running up the stairs and wagging tails bumping against the bedroom door.

I know that one day, I will open my eyes and see them waiting for me.

In loving memory of Eva
Always my protector

New work coming soon!

My 3rd novel, The Things We Hide At Home, has been accepted for publication and I’m super excited! It is a stand-alone romance thriller that is not connected to my first two novels, and is the first time I’ve written a book that doesn’t have any Fantasy elements in it! I guess you could say it’s Contemporary? I’m not entirely sure how to classify it to be honest. But I’m really excited that it will be published and I can’t wait for folks to read it.

In regards to the closing novel of the Lunar Shadows trilogy, I am about 40% through the manuscript now. I took a break from writing to deal with going into hospital and a few other things, and when I returned to my project, I realised I hadn’t written the plot down… So I had to go through the notes I did have and come up with a new plot ha-ha. Lesson learned: always keep notes.

Some less positive news… My dog, Eva, was recently diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy. She’s 14 years old, and in otherwise excellent health, but shortly after the death of Dolphie (my other dog) in August last year, she started to show signs of wobbles in her back legs. In the last few months, she’s declined rapidly. Her hind legs have become very weak, in particular the right leg, which she keeps dragging along the floor and had caused her claws to erode quite short, so now she has to wear little booties to keep her feet from getting sore. The vet told me that I have only a few months left with her before it’s time to say goodbye. I’ve been battling the onset of grief since then and it’s unbearable to see her so clumsy and weak when before she has always been an incredibly active and healthy dog.

I’m devastated because we are intending to move to Sweden at the end of the year, but it looks likely that she will never get to experience the Scandinavian forests that I know she would adore.

I’m currently grinding on the Lunar Shadows manuscript, which I hope to get finished this year, and then I’ll probably turn my attention to one of my existing projects, although I do have some desire to start something new!

The New Year

I’m so glad to see the backside of 2018. It’s been an unbelievably bad year despite my book releases. The release of Witcheskin seems like it was a decade ago, and yet that was only in February. A lot of bad things happened throughout the course of the year, the biggest and worst one being the death of our dog, Dolphie, while others such as my fight for revision surgery dragged on slowly over the months. I’m relieved that this terrible year is over and I can began afresh in 2019.

The third Lunar Shadows book is around 30% through, but it’s been on hold for the last couple of months due to my ill physical and mental health and everything else that’s been going on. What has been written I am very happy about. I am due to go in for surgery in the first week of January, so the book will probably be on hold for a little longer since I won’t be able to use my arms very much post-op. Once I’m healed, I hope to return and finish the manuscript, which will close off the trilogy. I don’t know if I will write something further with that batch of characters, I never can tell! It might be the last we see of them, and it might not. I hope not.

One good thing that did come out of 2018 and was completely unexpected is the new poly relationship between my wife and our girlfriend, Linn. It wasn’t something we thought would happen considering everything else around us was going so badly, and I’m so grateful for our relationship. I do intend to write a book in future that focuses on a poly romance since I only briefly touched upon a (failed) poly relationship in Witcheskin, because it’s a lifestyle that isn’t hugely represented.

I have a cluster of unfinished projects to return to, which I hope I’ll be able to complete sometime soon. Maybe I’ll even get an agent someday. The problem I find with being transgender is that my transition often gets in the way of my creative process instead of fuelling it. Until my transition is over, I’m gonna have to fight with it to make room for the things I love.

I wish everyone luck, romance and joy in the New Year!

About Rough Sleepers

Rough Sleepers is being released today! Scroll down to read more about the characters!

I am currently doing a book tour on Instagram so go and check out the posts from all the folks taking part! #nemrowan #roughsleepers

We are hosting the giveaway for everyone who ordered an e-copy of Rough Sleepers, and you could win a signed hard copy and a bunch of other book merchandise.

As it’s release day, I want to talk a little about the book, its characters and how I worked on it, so here we go.

Leon (or Leona) is a very old character of mine, first taking shape as a somewhat scatter-brained space pirate that I created when I was 11 years old. Even before I know what being gay, or even being queer, was all about, there was something rather flamboyantly rainbow about Leon, who later began to evolve into a much bossier, big-mouthed cross-dresser. In later years, he then evolved again into the form he takes now, switching between genders and pronouns, and taking great delight in showing off his good looks. Amusingly, the original form of Leon had a terrible singing voice and was made fun of by the other characters for being awful at karaoke, so in this incarnation, it felt right to make him a successful performer who could actually hold a tune. Leon was always very critical of other peoples’ appearances, he could be quite cutting at times, and I tried my best to retain his sharpness without making him unlikeable.

Ceri is a much newer character. He too underwent some transformation to get where he is now, but I won’t talk about that too much or risk spoiling the story! Ceri represents my own battle with self-harm, appearing as this weathered, scarred old man who feels sorry for himself and runs away at the first sign of emotional confrontation. His appearance and scruffiness in partly inspired by two other characters that appear in the story (Gabriel and DogEnd) as I am, for some unknown reason, very fond of scruffy men. I wanted Ceri to have a chance to repent and for the reader to see him the way Leon sees him: someone who was abandoned when they most needed help, and the consequences of that which followed. Because of Leon’s sometimes shallow personality, it seemed right to pair him with Ceri, who is the complete polar opposite in many ways, as an opportunity for Leon to understand his own flaws and help Ceri heal from his old injuries.

Mecky is a character that is quite close to my heart. She is based in part on a friend of mine from Poland, and she shares a lot of his no-nonsense attitude, his fighting spirit and inability to surrender. Mecky’s language also borrows heavily from the way he talks, so in a way she is my tribute to him for all the times we laughed and the jokes we shared. I wanted her to be strong but also motherly, caring for the other characters and being strong for them despite trying to hold back the crippling grief of losing her husband and child. Most of all, I wanted her to get revenge. I had originally planned for Rough Sleepers to have a polyamorous triad instead of a couple, so some of the traces of Mecky’s brief romance with Leon is still present in the story, but it felt wrong to remove all of it as I didn’t want her relationship with him to be cold and distant. Even with Ceri, she is still very close. I chose to remove the relationship as I felt it would isolate Christine’s character too much.

Christine was created as a sub-character, but she quickly blossomed into one of the main four and took on a personality all her own. Her background closely mirrors my own; in fact, I grew up not far from where her home is set in the story. I feel as though she is a fragment of my own childhood that has broken off and taken up its own personality. Christine’s relationship with Darnel was so important to Darnel’s survival that as soon as he entered the story, I wanted them to have a happy ending and to continue to have a relationship together despite its rocky start. I also wanted to show that a young girl like Christine can be strong and supportive, a reflection of my wife’s relationship with me when we were teens, so it felt natural for her to be Darnel’s support system despite the front of confidence he puts on. Christine even makes Leon doubt his own approach to dating, causing him to reconsider the pressure he puts on Ceri in the beginning.

The idea I had for Rough Sleepers was originally going to be a totally separate story that had nothing to do with Witcheskin. It was spawned from a short story I wrote about Leon getting attacked by a werewolf and turning into a beast, and some of that short story made it into the manuscript, which I used as a base to build upon when I began creating the other characters and planning the rest of the storyline. Some of the characters are going to reappear in the 3rd Lunar Shadows novel, which will tie off the plot (hopefully in a neat way!) and explain some of the unanswered questions in books #1 and #2. It took me about 6 months to write Rough Sleepers (minus the editing process), so it was ready for submission not long before Witcheskin’s release. I think it was so easy to write because I’d had the story going round in my head long before Witcheskin had even taken shape, so putting it into words wasn’t so difficult.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been so lucky with the 3rd book. I’ve scrapped the manuscript 3 times already! But there is a lot of work for me to do in regards to tying off loose ends, winding down character arcs and fact-checking to ensure everything makes sense. I do have some spin-offs planned that will be set after the events of Lunar Shadows, in particular a book about Mecky and what she does after the trilogy ends, which I hope to get started at some point next year.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my little essay about my characters and that you will enjoy reading Rough Sleepers if you have purchased a copy!

Cheers!

2 days until release day!

If you have pre-ordered, you can enter my giveaway to win some book merchandise! You can DM me @nemrowan or my PR friend @midnightclockwork on Instagram with a screencap of your receipt, to receive further instruction on entry.

I am doing a Bookstagram tour too, so go and follow the awesome people taking part and follow them to keep updated:

Rough Sleepers is available to pre-order on Amazon, direct from my publisher at Less Than Three Press and it is also available at SmashWords and a few other retailers.