Saturday, September 15, 2012

Guest Post by Author Lily Byrne

Lily Byrne is the author of a number of fine novels written under her pen name Lily Byrne, and her real name Catherine Chisnall.  This post is about her latest, and why she wrote it. It's a sequel to "Ragnar the Murderer", which is set in 10th century Britain. I like her writing. I think you'll enjoy her post.

“Why I wrote an M/M romance”

I am just an ordinary married mum of one—why would a respectable type like me write about two hot guys getting it on? Many people have asked me that…

The main reason is that I like going out of my comfort zone. I like writing about subjects that—for me—are unexpected or make people about things they haven’t before. I’ve written about a relationship between a teacher and a student; people thrown together by a death; lovers from different cultures, in this case Saxon and Viking.  Subjects that readers wouldn’t expect me to write about.

My Saxon/Viking romance, ‘Ragnar the Murderer’, led to sequels following the characters, and I developed the idea to write an M/M romance set in 10th century Britain. The Norsemen had settled in Britain but were in conflict with the natives, it was an unsettled time full of dangers and risks. The Norse culture was extremely homophobic, unlike some other cultures of the time, so it was very interesting to research how gay Norsemen would be treated and what would happen to them. I didn’t intend any of my characters to be gay, but I just noticed one of them was. Various ways he behaved—constant bitchy comments, accusing everyone but himself of being gay, obsessive womanising—all added up. What would happen if I wrote in a boyfriend for him? The ‘what if’ was too tempting to ignore. So I followed it.

Another reason is obvious, I’m afraid. I like men, and as my friend and fellow author, Sessha Batto, says ‘one man is good, two is better.’ I had already written M/F romances, so I wanted to try M/M and see if I could do it, like a challenge to myself. Besides, I like my characters and want them to be happy—after a series of events testing them of course—so if the hero didn’t want a woman, I’d give him a man.

I enjoyed writing my first M/M romance. I’ll leave that to readers to decide if the story—and the romance—are convincing. My book will be published in October.

This is my blog (where my books are for sale):  Really must get a better name :/

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

From time to time Tostada Speaks changes directions, and this is one of them. From this day forward, this is a blog for writers to post about what they do, why, how, and other subjects about writing, the writing life, their books and their works in progress.

This is a painting my mother did back in the mid 1920s when she was in her twenties. She was an artist, I'm a writer. Sometimes this little painting describes where I am or where I want to be. That's life. That's what I write about. Now to give someone else some say here, I'll leave and be back a bit later with a contribution from one of them.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Moving on with my writing goals

Looking into the Distance
Shiretoko National Park, Hokkaido, Japan

I've had a good time doing book reviews on Tostada Speaks over the past couple of years, and dong commentary before that. But my primary purpose as a writer is to write books. So, as of this date, Tostada Speaks is closed. I simply must focus my energy on the books I am writing and plan to write.

Right now I'm working on a children's novel about a 9-year-old boy and his dog. The novel is set in the Alki neighborhood of Seattle, Washington where I grew up. (I didn't grow up in the Alki neighborhood, but I got to know it very well. I grew up in the California and Admiral Way neighborhood which is up on top of the hill.  

I appreciate each and every one of you who has been following Tostada Speaks. I still have a public voice on my blog on my website, And, yes, "geoge" is spelled incorrectly, but that's the way I have it, and it will get you there. I've been blogging there about once a month on various topics related to writing, so drop on over.

You'll also find news about my books and other writings I've published over the last few years.

Thank you once again for your loyalty. I appreciate each one of you. Enjoy all your days.   

George Polley, aka Jorge Tostada

Sunday, May 20, 2012

An unforgettable page-turner of a crime novel

When I read Rags Daniels Lallapaloosa I knew that this man is a major new crime and thriller writer. Having just finished his newest novel, Foxy Lady, I know he is. 
Corrupt politicians, meddling bureaucrats, financial shenanigans, murder, rape and plenty of intrigue; add a beautiful young woman named Lady Carolyne Dryden who runs the family’s London policy auction house, and D.I. Reid, one of the most delightfully irascible police detectives in fiction; stir in revenge, sex and Inspector Reid who is determined to get to the bottom of all this mayhem in spite of his interfering superiors, and you have one of the best can’t-put-it down novels I have read in a while. On top of that, foxy lady Carolyne is foxy in every sense of the word: sexy, smart, not someone to be trifled with, and very, very deadly. Each of the characters is very well drawn, the action fast-paced and believable, and the story pulls you along until the very end.
Foxy Lady almost demands a sequel, and I hope Mr. Daniels writes one. If he does, I’ll be sure to read it.
An unqualified 5 star read.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A magical tale of intrigue, danger, magic and young love

The House of Sapphire Magic: Breaking Glass, the second novel in John Booth’s Magic Series, focuses on an evil project of Max Drexel, a powerful business tycoon. On the surface, the project looks respectable; after all, it is presented to the public as an orphanage for children who have no relatives who could care for them. Under the surface, the project is much more sinister: the orphans are guinea pigs in an experiment.
It isn’t long before the two eldest Grange children, Mandy and William become involved, as Max Drexel is out to buy their property and tear down their house. Glass, one of the  magical house guardians, uncovers the plot when she accidentally stumbles into the real world, thus discovering the magic powers of the sapphire ring that Mrs. Grange gifted her.
This is a fast-paced, action-packed little novel. If you enjoyed John Booth’s The House of Silver Magic, you are sure to love this one. I understand his Gold Magic: Terror in Mind  has recently been published, so give that one a look also. 
John Booth is a magical writer, with several series of novels, all very much worth reading, and all involving magic in one way or another.
The House of Sapphire Magic is a definite 5 star read.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Two from the capable pen of Kate Rigby

What happens when a beloved eldest daughter drowns in a boating accident and her sister feels at fault and left out by both parents because they are so torn apart by grief? In this case, she runs away and lives with people who live in the fringes of society, about as far away from her parents world of wealth and privilege as one can imagine. Far Cry From The Turquoise Room is a story that could easily have been romanticized, but isn’t. It is gritty and real and, as novelist and reviewer Susannah Burke says, “is a novel not to be missed.” 
A definite 5 stars.

Savage to Savvy is the story of an eleven year old girl who was bred to be a feral child who was raised by dogs. It is also the story about a place called the Institute of Developmental and Behavioral Psychology and its Director, an Albanian immigrant named Elena, a dodgy character named Aleksander, a man named Rob Ivory (aka “the Singing Man”), and Heidi, the young psychologist who solves the riddle of who Nikki is, how she became a feral child, and exposes the Professor and his “research” as frauds.
Ultimately, Nikki escapes her minders and returns to where she is the most comfortable, living in the wild with the animals she loves and understands. From a savage, she has become savvy to the ways of humans. As a young teenage girl caught between two worlds, Nikki is also very vulnerable to harm, as she lacks the knowledge she needs to live successfully in a world that is controlled by humans. She isn’t savvy enough to make it in the world, and I fear for her future.
I give this one 5 stars because of its theme and the skill with which Kate Rigby tells the story. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A valuable companion to take along on the adventure of life

Reading Quantum Meditations is an adventure and, like everyone knows, adventures take patience and time to bring their rewards each step of the way. 
The best way to read this book is to sit down with it and take your time to savor each poem as you would a fine meal that is served in multiple courses, each one delivered when the one you’ve been enjoying has been savored and it is time to  move on to the next. If you’re looking for a fast food kind of book, you’re better off looking elsewhere. But if it’s wisdom that you’re seeking, this book is a wonderful companion to spend some quality time with.
As the great mystics and poets have shown us so well, change sometimes appears to occur suddenly when all the pieces come together. In “Quantum Leap” (page 51), PD allen writes:
“Change in a complex
system occurs incrementally
bit by bit
below the surface
while the system as
a whole appears stable until
some critical threshold
is exceeded. And then
the entire system appears
to change in one instantaneous
The key word and concept is “incrementally”, the way our universe was created in the cataclysmic explosion we call “The Big Bang”.
The first poem, in the section called “Opening Enigma”, is “The Flame”:
“I am the flame,
    not the reflection
I am the flame,
                                               by the fluttering
                           of the moths.
I am the flame.”
In his commentary on the Opening Enigma series (page 221), he writes: “Our journey begins with the unanswerable riddle of who we are. There are no words to answer this riddle, but if you look within  you will find the answer. We are that which is forever outside of its definition. We are that which defines itself.” 
So take your time with this great book.  Breathe calmly and deeply, linger with each poem, taste each syllable and sound. There are three volumes of Quantum Meditations now available to take with us on our journey through life. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are (I am 78); what matters is that we learn to live our lives consciously and without fear. 
“Have wings that feared ever 
touched the sun?
I was born when all I once
feared -- I could
-- Rabia of Basra, c. 717-801
In “Our Song” (page 49), he writes:
“The world sings for me
All I need do
      is listen.”
PD Allen’s Quantum Meditations is a valuable addition to meditation literature. You will never finish reading it, just as I never finish reading those books in my library from which I draw sustenance and insight.
This book is a clear 5 star read, one that I highly recommend.