Doorway to the sea: flashfic

I’ve never before been drawn to the sea. But after writing UNBROKEN, a historical novel about a sea voyage and its unique destination, everything changed for me. Everything.

One day I saw this image on a Facebook page called Everlasting Beauty…and the poem simply came.

I don’t expect to draw readers from this little essay. But after all, the blog you’re reading is close to being my personal journal…reflections and prismatic faces of a writer.

Could my doorway open to the sea

its hinges would be stopped with clots of sand

and lintel given no toe hold

in grass-grown dunes

to stop me from throwing all myself one day

into the sounding waves.

doorway to the sea


The island is Okracoke, off the coast of North Carolina. Here’s an actual photo from the remote place where Blackbeard met his doom and where I ended the novel:

ocracoke dunes & grass jerry deter

Dunes and grass of Ocracoke Island, photo by Jerry Deter [Google Maps]

The two-novel series is here, for those who’d like a rousing read about a moody Scot and a wide-eyed Yankee Quaker in 1772.

R&R yellow ribbon

“The Renegade and the Runaway” series

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From the ashes…a new title is born

Readers who’ve followed Erin O’Quinn’s *Nevada Highlander series may remember a certain constable from the most recent novel **Sleeping with Danger…a tousle-haired young man named Aidan Williamson out of Ballater’s small Police Scotland office.

ballater ps

A Google Maps image of the Ballater PS office where Aidan works with a midnight-shift colleague. Small, but not unattractive.

I keep wondering about Aidan… Why does a Scot have a name like Williamson? What keeps a vigorous, inquisitive young man behind a desk in a tiny hamlet in the Highlands? Was he telling Rory the truth when he admitted to loving his unnamed mate—and if so, who’s the lucky partner? Male, or female?

Recently I sat at my keyboard and began to wonder with my fingers. Here’s the result: about 800 words of a new work. Novel, or novella? Not sure. Probably a novella, with a new love interest who may (or may not) show up in another book. We’ll see.

Here’s a make-believe promo, using models whose images  I’ll need to purchase if I decide to use them.

wts smoky coll

Chapter 1
From the Ashes

Pain rode like a surly hitch-hiker in the small of his back.

Aidan leaned back in the creaky swivel chair, his long legs crossed on the splintered desk, trying to ease a distant ache.

Almost five o’clock. Time for the night shift to appear in the form of Michael Murphy. He lifted his reluctant feet off the scarred surface, careful not to scrape the shine off his PS-issued brogans, pretending he wasn’t bored to fucking death and in desperate need of a cigar and a bed, in any order at all.

His reports were complete. Check. He’d scanned the latest Police Scotland bulletins on his desktop computer. Check. He’d gone to the rescue of a tabby cat on a roof and an elderly man who’d lost his way in Ballater’s only bus station. Check. He’d answered the phone fifty times, at least, and only half of them wrong numbers.

Now what?

He tried not to think about the four walls waiting for him in his bland flat, or saying goodbye to Justin. Not “see you later,” or “be good, man.” Saying goodbye, farewell, sayonara.

The parting had been a year in the making. Justin’s work day getting longer…his own shift needing more scrupulous attention…their days off never seeming to coincide…their sex life  as routine as the Ballater Community W.A.T.C.H. he wrote up each week for the website.

We Are The Community Helpers.


So. Justin was now a clerk in the Aberdeen office of the Regional Judge. 

He sighed. Not exactly a life filled with excitement and danger, like his own—the thrill-a-minute existence of an underpaid Sergeant Constable in the tiny Ballater office of Police Scotland.

At the sound of a vehicle pulling into the cramped concrete parking lot, he stood and pretended to scan the bulletins pinned to the cork board. Lost pets, alerts on suspected stalkers, a lonely man reported lurking in petrol stations, reminders to report any sighting of a 2009 gray grocery getter, commendations of model citizens, and even a few random constables in other towns who’d earned a promotion…

He turned to greet his office mate, and found another man altogether.

Chief Inspector Grant McDowell was no longer young, but he was a match for any officer on the force. Aidan didn’t know him, except to stand straighter and make eye contact on the few occasions their paths had crossed—one commemorative dinner, two funerals, and a parking lot somewhere, maybe a year ago.

It was either a talent or a curse that Aiden could read character in someone’s eyes and body language. That hidden skill had served him well during the four years he’d toiled for Police Scotland. It had won a few friends…he thought about his ex, of course, and his recent acquaintance with the faux-Constables Alex and Rory…and the same ability had also earned more than his share of arrests.

Even with his cap under his arm, the inspector stood over six feet, a shade under his own height. The sandy-gray hair, worn straight back from his forehead, lent him an almost leonine air, a feral animal trapped in a cage. His eyes, pale blue, hinted at an ancestry well beyond the Highlands and Islands. Behind the black-rimmed glasses they were steel-hard, intelligent, restless, hungry…


McDowell didn’t wait for Aidan to approach him. He strode the few paces to the bulletin board and held out his bear’s paw of a hand.

“Sergeant Williamson. Nice to see you again.”

Since his superior had chosen to see him here, in his own tiny office late on a Friday afternoon, Aidan ungraciously thought it was hardly nice, but a surprise nonetheless. He liked McDowell, but he hated rude awakenings.

What had he done wrong?

Fuck, Aidan, think positive. What have you done right?

He shook the proffered hand and smiled with his mouth and his eyes too. The man’s grasp was strong and honest.

“The pleasure is mine, sir. Um, have a seat? Or…”

“Or not, Sergeant. I’ve come to whisk you away for an hour, tops. Your second-shift man Murphy should be here—” he glanced at his watch—“any minute now.”

How did someone from the echelons of power know the name of his five-to-dawn partner? He’d done his homework, obviously. “Yes, sir. So you want to…”

“To take you somewhere with a bar top and a nodding acquaintance with a wee dram. Know any place close by?” The ironic tone was not even necessary. The inspector wasn’t testing him. He already knew Aidan liked his whisky and cigar. 

aidan cigar h:s

He grinned at the older man. “I recommend the Black Boar. Five minutes from here—but isn’t every place in Ballater?”

McDowell laughed outright. “This burg is a favorite of mine, but yes, ’tis not over-populated with pubs. I’ll meet you there in fifteen minutes.”


Stay tuned for the rest of chapter one, if I decide to write this new one, Where there’s Smoke.


NEV HI 4 correx



*The Nevada Highlander Series (4 novels) is here:

**Sleeping with Danger is the fourth of the series

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First meeting: Grier & David

flame on whte

What was the spark that started the fire?

This is the first of a series of short articles/excerpts showing the meeting of main characters from Erin O’Quinn’s M/M work.

I’ll begin with my latest work, a series called “The Renegade and the Runaway.”

Grier Black (Gregory MacGregor) is a Highland outlaw, one of the clan whose name has been forbidden by royal law…and one who’s been stripped of his tartan and weapon too.

David Campbell is a young Quaker-trained lad from Philadelphia who’s been drugged and kidnapped.

Chapter One (Unkilted) is from the pov of the Scot. Here’s their first meeting. The grabbing of the hand is repeated, subtly, in the next installment of this two-novel series, when (ironically) it’s Grier who lies in a drugged state, awakened by David.

From Chapter One:

hands wheat

Grier knelt, letting his eyes grow accustomed to the almost-darkness. Needing to see the figure better, he grasped the candle-holder and brought it close to the pallet.

He saw a pale face under a massive woolen cap…a man of eighteen or twenty…eyelids closed, long dark lashes…high cheeks and a full mouth…a lad dressed in a strange over-shirt that seemed to conceal some kind of flat bundle…

He was immediately captivated. Why would a young man lie in foul-smelling and stained clothing, yet arrive in a coach-and-four? Was he, like the old man, a prisoner—or a poppet? His slender body and handsome face hinted at stories he wanted to hear. And what was he protecting under the tunic?

He reached to lift the shirt. A swift, strong hand burst from the darkness like a thunderclap and grasped his wrist.

“Kill me now. Or if it please Christ, do not touch me at all.”

In the next and last novel of the series (Unbroken), Grier is the victim of a knife attack. He finally wakes from the opium-based laudanum the ship’s doctor has given him. From Chapter Eleven:

hands oblivion

The devil that was never far away told him to reach out and grasp the speaker, in the way this same stranger had seized his own arm…verra long ago, in another place and another time.

“Ye’ve taken it from me.”

A halting voice came, nearer now. “Taken what, Gregory MacGregor?”

“My heart, damn ye. Sit me upright.”

“Then release my arm. And do not curse me.”

Strangely, it took no effort at all to smile. He loosed his grip, letting his arm drop back onto the surface of the bluidy hard bed.

“How long?”

“Not quite a week.”

“Someone stood me up to take a piss. Someone…tore me from the hard stone.”

“The doctor, mostly.”

He opened his eyes and looked up at David. “Liar.”

The series is here, on Amazon’s series page. You may click one or both to buy!


  Slow Burn Gay Romance

  Slow Reveal

  Family Secrets

  Action and Adventure





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Waterfalls are sexy as hell

I’ve recently published two novels in which a waterfall is one of the central symbols in the story.

The first one, Unkilted, takes a reader to an actual waterfall, where a cave lies hidden beneath the rushing water. The Reekie Linn on the River Isla near Alyth, Scotland is at “full spate” when the main characters arrive. Of course, that phrase means more than the spring-flood capacity of the river. It’s my way of expressing the pent-up passions that erupt between the two main characters, and of course the overflow that results.

If you’re a reader of MM romance, you may be interested in an excerpt published on this blog, here:

The Reekie Linn image below was taken from Wikipedia:

reekie linn image wiki

Reekie Linn even has its own legend, of a outlaw who—oops, TMI. Read the novel.

The other waterfall…ah, it truly becomes the crux and the climax of another novel, MF romance in ancient Ireland called Fire & Silk, *released just days ago. 

Flann is a cranky bachelor whose “mistress” is Mt. Errigal in Co. Donegal, Ireland.

At the time the story is set, that area of Ireland was called Tyrconall, named after a real historical high king, 300 years before the Viking invasions in the 8th century . The takeover of Norsemen led to the area being called “Donegal,” Fort of the Foreigners.

errigalpink 400

Mt. Errigal takes on a rosy glow when the sunlight is just right…

The waterfall on Errigal is one I imagined as I wrote this part of the story, and the ending too…a cascade leaping from a high gorge on the rose-quartz mountain.

They sat cross-legged before a cheerful fire, the last morsel of squirrel sucked off their thumbs. After a while, he brought out the bone whistle and played to her, telling her all about his most secret desires.

“Flaaawn,” she said.

“What, a chuisle?”

“Describe your favorite place.”

He looked around at the spot they were sitting. “Ah, well, there is a great rocky ledge, senhorita, all shaded by a grand oak…”

“But that is the place we are sitting.”

“It is, lass. Me favorite place. The place ye’re sitting with me.”

She laughed, and he loved the sound of its lovely cadence. “Tá go maith. Then describe the place in the great northern expanse you remember most fondly.”

He threw his head back, and his eyes sought the uppermost branches of the oak that he could see from his lowly spot on the ground. The leaves seemed to be miles deep, the sky very far above them. He did not have to remember, because he knew the spot like the palm of his own hand.

“There is a mountain, Mariana. Na cnoc named Errigal. It stands higher than any peak in the Seven Sisters. Indeed, higher than any in Tyrconnell. It is the most southern mountain in that lovely group of hills, all rounded like breasts of a woman. If ye stand at a distance looking toward her in the rays of the sunset, she blushes pink, like a maiden emerging from her bath.” He was silent for a while, letting the image of Errigal play through his mind.

“In her foothills, from high on a bluff…deep between the crack of her lovely loins, there springs a waterfall. Fed in the spring by the snows, she sings an’ calls like a very siren, cailín. Every spring, I fulfill me promise to her, an’ I return.”

She said nothing, watching him remember. “Years back, I built a small shieling near the bottom of the falls, against the face of the cliff. Almost a lean-to, just a place to shield me from the rain, a place to return to like a home. To lie there, Mariana, to hear her sing while I play to her on me bone whistle—ah, ’tis like honey to a bear.”

He sat straight and looked at her closely. “I would like—someday it would be—I know ye’d like her—” He stopped, confused by his own words. What am I saying? he wondered. The reality of her short visit seemed to crash upon him like a rockfall. By the time he got to Errigal, she would be home somewhere in Galicia. “But…Let us enjoy this night together, a chuisle. I need not use me memory when I have a vision in front of me to treasure.”

“Flaaawn. I would go there with you someday. Do you think we might?”

He leaned to her and gently took her face in his hand. “We might, lass. If the Lord smiles on us. Let us glory in this night, this place. All right? Tá go maith?

Está bien. Jo te quiero.

Was she really telling him, “ye make me happy”…or something beyond? He wondered why, in spite of his joy, he felt tears rise in his throat and threaten to choke him.

waterfall inishowen

Although not on Errigal, the Glenevin Waterfall in Clonmany, Co. Donegal, is geographically close to the one in my story!

The waterfall is important to Flann, and the story finally ends at his place of healing. But not before all hell breaks loose, and heaven too.

F&S quote

Fire & Silk, just published, is here:

~MFRomance  ~SteamyErotic ~VirginAndBachelor ~AncientIreland ~Rescue ~FemaleWarrior

Kindle US 

Kindle UK 

SeaToSky (pdf or epub)

Smashwords (epub format) 

Note: the image at the top of this blog is called “Colours of Jungle” by Arun K. Mishra, for me a deeply sensuous image.

*This novel was previously published and held in contractual captivity. I re-wrote it, re-formatted it, and designed a new cover. So in my mind, it’s really a new release, freed at last from the restraints placed on me by the Editor from Dante’s Fifth Circle of Hell.

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Fire & Silk: more than romance

Fire & Silk is more than a re-release, and much more than a romance. I’ve poured my love for Planet Earth into this novel, and my admiration for the human spirit. My abiding attraction to Ireland lies in its pages, and my own warrior soul.

This novel, once published by a well known press and now released from contract, is back with massive re-writes, new formatting, and my own cover. I hope you’ll give it a try.

flower 3 best

When moody Flann meets headstrong Mariana…

The clash and crash of his fire with her silk creates a whirlwind of conflict and intense emotion that changes both their lives. Flann O’Conall, the cranky bachelor son of a king in ancient Ireland, seems to have two clear choices: the lonely but secure life on his chosen mountain—his symbolic mistress—or the burr-in-his-britches torment of trying to understand the willful, passionate Mariana.

MFRomance  ~ SteamyErotic ~ VirginAndBachelor ~ AncientIreland ~ Rescue ~ FemaleWarrior ~ naturalIreland

Kindle US

Kindle UK

SeaToSky (pdf or epub)  

Smashwords (epub format) 


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Unkilted: New work underway

I have long been in thrall to bonnie Scotland: her language, music, history, people, mythos, traditions. And I found recently that I’m descended from Clan MacGregor, a family that had its shares of ups and downs. (I refer you to a recent article I published on another blog site, Celtic Fire, called “Children of the Mist”:

So, what could be more natural than a novel about a MacGregor?

Here’s a tentative blurb and a fanciful cover, which I shall *not use:

unkilted border

One man is stripped of his name, his tartan, and his weapon. Another is torn from his very homeland, forced to live in danger and deceit. What happens when an unkilted Scot meets a runaway Colonial Quaker?

Can Grier and David, born enemies, live together? Fight together? Can they combine the best of themselves and set aside the grief of their past? The future of bonnie Scotland and a fledgling America may hang in the balance.

I’ll be writing the novel (or maybe pair of novellas) in this year’s annual Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). Right now, I’m trying to research a very complex subject so that I can distill it into a readable story.

In the front matter of the work, I intend to publish a short glossary. That will no doubt turn off some potential readers. But how can I do justice to my character if he sounds like a bloody Englishman? 😀

Aye…Yes. (As an adverb, pronounced differently , it means “always.”)

Baws…Balls, bollocks

Bod…Penis, Cock

Burn…(Also modern) A small brook or stream

Braw…Brave. Also, fine, elegant, beautiful, excellent

Cathairean…Highland cateran or warrior (also rustler or outlaw!)

Dirk…Short dagger worn by Highland warriors. More than a personal sidearm, it was the symbol of a man’s honor.



Nae…No. Fixed to the end of a verb, the meaning changes to the negative, as in dinnae, “do not.”

Piob mhor…Great highland bagpipe

Reekie…Smoky, misty, transitory. Note that the MacGregor clan came to be called “Children of the Mist.”’ The nickname for Edinburgh for centuries was “Auld Reekie”; and the waterfall central to this story was (and is) Linn Reekie, Misty Falls.


Sgian-dubh …Small concealed knife (in modern times, it’s tucked into the top of a highland stocking)


Walloper…Fucker (literally, a galloper)


Thus a radge walloper is a crazy fucker…and there are plenty of those in my story!

Stay tuned to this blog, where I’ll jot my ideas and scribbles about the new work and probably pre-publish a few chapters.

*I do not have permission to use these handsome men on a cover; and the tartan shown is not that of a MacGregor, but a Balfour.

dirk for blog

This is an actual MacGregor tartan, and a stylized dirk used as a kilt pin in the modern age.



The dirk…a Highlander’s personal sidearm…was a symbol of his honor. To have it broken or destroyed was a way of breaking his heart and his soul—and his manhood.

Posted in Scotland setting | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Devil’s Damned Elbow

Note to self: don’t try to screw the Devil…

The Man in Romance

I’ve just published a new work, SLEEPING WITH DANGER, in which the native Nevadan Alex Dominguez finally goes back to the mountains…the famed Highlands of his new home.

danger a in mts

The novel is fraught with danger. Both Alex and Rory almost lose their lives a few times. But no adventure in the series up to this point is as life-threatening as their headlong plummet down the double-hairpin called Devil’s Elbow, now bypassed, but a scourge to travelers in the Cairngorms for more than 200 years.

What follows is told from the point of view of Rory Drummond, the bigger-than-life Scot who would challenge the horns, the tail and the very prick of the Devil hiself for the sake of his lover.

His head hit something hard…or was it the other way around? A gawdawful roar filled his ears. He opened his eyes and saw nothing at all.


Something like mud…

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