Guest blog with Lillian Francis

Lillian’s hijacked my blog today to talk about her very FIRST published novel!! Is that great or what? She says some lovely things about me (*blush*) and is showing off her cover for Lesson Learned and an excerpt. So sit back, relax and leave a comment to show your love.  :)

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When Tina put out a general call for authors eager to pimp their wares, I jumped at the chance to get my first novel out there. I sent off the email, bouncing happily when her reply confirmed she could blog on my release date!

Then it hit me. I’m a first time author with an almost skin-crawling aversion to talking myself up. What would I write about? What was expected of me? What would people want to know about someone who they had never heard of before?

In a panic, I emailed Tina back, almost ready to pull out and hide back under my rock. Her reply was swift and held none of the disparaging tone I was half expecting. She explained exactly what she needed from me, without making any assumptions that I would know what format she required the files in, thus saving me the embarrassing task of having to email her back to ask. Then she suggested that I take a look at previous visiting author blog posts to get an indication of what to write. It was like a gentle hug in a warm duvet and just what my over-thinking mind needed.

Then it dawned on me—as I huddled in the warmth of her assistance and patience—a creeping knowledge of something I had been vaguely aware of since I started this whole process: Just how helpful other authors are to someone that is ultimately a rival for the readers’ hard earned buck.

Not that Tina and I could possibly be classed as rivals. Just a glance at my first book cover with its distinct lack of a scantily-clad buxom beauty should tell you that there is unlikely to be much of a crossover in our readership. Nevertheless, without knowing anything about me or the tale I am telling, she is willing to give up her time and a space on her blog to help me increase awareness of my book.

It is a gesture which I have seen time and time again since starting this journey.

The ‘many times’ published author, who hounded convinced me that I should try to send something off to a publisher and then held a gun to my back my hand through the whole daunting labyrinth of synopsis, agent letters and formatting.

My ever patient editor, who didn’t seem to mind the numerous emails with copious questions, and never once made me feel stupid about asking the things I did.

The people who blindly follow me on Twitter, despite not knowing who I am and that I have nothing interesting to say, and yet still help me with anything from English/American translations to setting up a blog site.

It is an eagerness to assist and share expertise which I never expected to find in the ‘cut-throat’ world of publishing. At first I thought it was the kindred spirit of that ever-growing band of published male/male erotic/romance writers. It isn’t. Maybe it is just romance writers in general, many of us who are finally living a long-held dream while still holding down a ‘proper’ job. I don’t know.

Never fear, I am not so naïve as to believe that everyone I come into contact with will be as welcoming or willing to impart their knowledge. Not everyone will like what I write or the style in which I write it, and I’m damn sure there will be as many reviews that are cruel as there are that are kind. I’ve learned to develop a thick skin and hold my tongue, you have to when you write m/m and aren’t afraid to tell people. Surprise, shock and, sadly in some cases, derision and disgust are all reactions I am used to having to deal with.

What I do know is that I have never once felt like I am on my own in this whole wonderful process.

For someone who didn’t have a clue what to say, I am aware I have babbled on long enough. So maybe it is time to do what I came here for and introduce you to Nathan and Drew.

 

Lesson Learned

By Lillian Francis

Released by Ellora’s Cave on 2nd February 2012 (http://www.jasminejade.com/p-9797-lesson-learned.aspx)

Blush sensuality level: This is a sensual romance (may have explicit love scenes, but not erotic in frequency or type).

Tired of having been constantly on the move, Drew is determined to make Cardiff his home. When Drew starts his new job as teacher in Cardiff, he strikes up an immediate friendship with Nathan Morgan, a young History teacher.

Nathan is instantly attracted to Drew, but doesn’t want to risk their fledgling friendship by declaring the extent of his desire. Completely oblivious to Nathan’s quandary, Drew doesn’t realize the true nature of his own feelings for Nathan until accusations from a student force both men’s hands.

But Drew has spent his life running away. Running away from his mistakes, his desires and a secret-filled past. Drew is forced to choose between running away once more and a possible future with Nathan.

I am particularly proud that this story is the first male/male romance released by Ellora’s Cave under their Blush range.

An Excerpt From: LESSON LEARNED

Yet another long corridor punctuated by wooden doors. The smell of paint still lingered, indicating the pale-green walls had been recently spruced up for the start of a new school year. The color also told Drew Jackman, as he glared at the floor plan in his hand, that this should be the Humanities department and consequently not only was he in the wrong corridor, but almost certainly the wrong block.

Damn his male pride, if he had accepted the assistance the Principal had offered, he would be safely ensconced in his new teaching domain by now. Instead he was wandering the corridors, lost. Yep, there was no other word for it, he was well and truly lost and this floor plan of the school made no sense what so ever.

And, of course, there wasn’t a student or teacher around anywhere to point him in the right direction.

The slap of rubber-soled shoes on the staircase to his right caught his attention and Drew moved through the double doors toward the sound. Maybe he wasn’t completely out of luck. There was a brief flash of denim as the sneakers carried on up the stairs and then Drew could hear the unmistakable sound of the doors above as they swung back on themselves.

It was the only movement in an otherwise silent building, so he followed it, but even as he did, Drew frowned, wondering who was prowling the corridors. The Principal had stated that all the students in school today, which was only the new intake of year sevens and the senior years, would be in orientation for the first two lessons, meeting tutors and student advisors.

Coming out into another green corridor at the top of the stairs, Drew spied his intruder at one of the notice boards that graced the walls in this particular part of the building.

Maybe he could get directions and exert a sense of authority at the same time. It wouldn’t hurt for the student body to get the impression that whilst he was a new teacher at the school, he was not going to be a pushover. And who better to start with than one of the senior students who, from the way he carried himself, looked like he would command respect and possible adoration from his peers.

“Shouldn’t you be in lessons?” Drew spoke clearly as he strode toward the young man.

Dark wavy hair flicked out as the young man’s head whipped round. Drew got the impression of amusement in gray eyes and a raised eyebrow in the blur of movement, but his face had been schooled into a deferential expression by the time his gaze settled on Drew.

“Actually, I’ve got a free period—” the young man started. A local boy, Drew realized. That was definitely a Welsh accent, and after four years in South London, it was a like a gentle caress to his eardrums.

“Still, library or sixth form center,” Drew interrupted the young man and saw that brief flash of amusement once more. “No hanging around the corridors.”

This time a grin split the young man’s face and he appeared to be struggling to get it back under control. “You must be Andrew Jackman.”

“That’s Mr. Jackman to you,” Drew reprimanded, although he was curious as to how he was already known when so far he had only met Shirley Hartley, the Principal. “What’s your—”

“I’m Nathan Morgan.” The pause was barely a heartbeat. “History teacher.”

He rarely got embarrassed, but Drew could feel his cheeks start to heat under the amused gaze of the other teacher. “Ah. Oops?”

In a desperate bid to bring this uncharacteristic blush under control, he glanced over the other man’s broad shoulders at the poster he had been pinning to the board. ‘Join the History Detectives’, it proclaimed, the remainder of the text disappearing behind a solid biceps which flexed as Drew focused on it, if the shift of material was anything to go by. This movement dragged his attention back to the unwavering gaze of the young history teacher.

Turning on the charm to save face—it had been his way of avoiding trouble and awkward situations since he’d been a boy—Drew grinned. “Aren’t you a little young to be a teacher?”

“I’m twenty four. I’ve been told I have a baby face,” Nathan confirmed with a shrug.

The gray irises were flecked with blue, and despite the nonchalant roll of his shoulders, Nathan had yet to look away. A sloping snub nose led down to full, but masculine lips and a strong chin, the skin smooth now, but Drew could imagine it would already be darkening with stubble before the school day was over.

He wondered how he could ever have mistaken this man for an adolescent. The baby face was an illusion, Drew decided. He glanced at the low slung jeans, the wide belt barely holding them up over narrow hips. A casual shirt, sleeves rolled up to expose the pale flesh of muscular forearms, was unbuttoned far enough to reveal an obscure band t-shirt.

“The clothes don’t help,” Drew teased, feeling almost instantly at ease in the other man’s company. Nathan, Drew reminded himself. His name is Nathan.

“What should I wear? Corduroy and tweed?” Gray eyes twinkled mischievously, the azure flecks multiplying until Drew would swear Nathan’s eyes were blue now if anyone had asked.

“You did say you were a history teacher.” Drew grinned, relishing the easy banter that they had slipped into. Relaxing against the wall, Drew crossed his feet at the ankles, the leather of his new boots creaking as they rubbed against themselves. He rolled his shoulders experimentally. The knot of tension that he had been carrying in his neck since he’d woken up that morning had disappeared at some point in the last ten minutes.

“And you teach science, but I don’t see a lab coat or test tube in your pocket.” Nathan jibed.

“How do you—?” Andrew asked, his confusion at being recognized once more reasserting itself. He pushed himself off the wall and thrust his hands into the pockets of his trousers, the paper map of the school crushed in his fingers.

“The American accent,” Nathan confirmed. His eyes narrowed and it appeared he had picked up on Drew’s discomfort. “Shall we start again? Hi, I’m Nathan Morgan, a history teacher here at Everwood Community College.” Nathan thrust out his hand.

Slowly, Drew tugged his hands from his pockets, the paper map catching on the thin lining.

“Andrew Jackman. But everyone calls me Drew. I’m new here, in case it isn’t obvious. In fact, I’m new to Cardiff, just moved here from London.” Drew grasped the offered hand, noting the firm grip and shook it vigorously. “Do I call you Nate?”

“Hell, no. Nathan’s short enough, but Nathaniel’s a bit of a mouthful.”

“Nathan then.”

The intensity of Nathan’s grin was blinding, but Drew suspected it matched his own. Warm skin pressed against his palm. Drew felt the apprehension that always accompanied yet another fresh start slip away.

Nathan indicated the crumpled plan of the school Drew was still holding in his free hand. “You’ll get lost using that. I’m doing nothing first period. Want me to show you around?”

“Thanks.”

Nathan’s gaze flicked down to their hands. “You might want to let go of my hand first. The kids do like to tease.”

* * * * *

About the author

An avid reader, Lillian Francis was always determined she wanted to write, but a ‘proper’ job and raising a family distracted her for over a decade. Over the years and thanks to the charms of the Internet, Lillian realized she’d been writing at least one of her characters in the wrong gender. Ever since, she’s been happily letting her ‘boys’ run her writing life.

Lillian now divides her time between family, a job and the numerous men in her head all clamouring for ‘their’ story to be told.

Lillian lives in an imposing castle on a wind-swept desolate moor or in an elaborate ‘shack’ on the edge of a beach somewhere depending on her mood, with the heroes of her stories either chained up in the dungeon or wandering the shack serving drinks in nothing but skimpy barista aprons.

In reality, she would love to own a camper van and to live by the sea.

Find me at my blog here http://lillianfrancis.blogspot.com/

Or follow me on Twitter @LillianFrancis_