Fridays at Ofelia’s | Taking Flight


Taking Flight, a Reworked Celtic Myth

Firstly a big thank you to Ofelia, for inviting me to visit today! I’m here to blatantly pimp my new release, Taking Flight, which came out a couple of days ago on Tuesday 13th July. I was also here a few weeks ago, talking about the collection generally and how I started writing them. (I don’t want to call it a series, because that implies they’re connected, and they’re not really, only by the fact they’re all based on the myths). You can find that post here!

It’s a story I’ve had in my mind for a while, chewing over and over, wondering how I could make it into a contemporary queer tale. I had problems to begin with because the story of Brânwen from The Mabinogion is quite complicated and I didn’t want this to be a full length novel. I was aiming for about ten thousand words and it’s come in at fourteen, which is more than I wanted really. To get it down to that I’ve had to radically chop the original tale up and focus on Brânwen/Gwyn’s escape from their imprisonment in the kitchens.

Once I’d decided to focus on a much smaller part of the legend, it all seemed to fall into place and the story more or less wrote itself. Okay, that’s not quite true, I did get stuck for a week, which involved lots of sulking and eating of carbohydrates, but generally, it suddenly clicked. I really hope it’s as easy to read as it was to write!

I’ve got an excerpt for you here today, set just as Gwyn and Darren have left and are waiting for the bus!

Taking Flight

Excerpt of Taking Flight

All right?” Darren asked, sitting down next to him.

Hurts,” he said, briefly.

He felt rather than saw Darren nod, shoulder pressed against his on the narrow seats. It was warm and comforting and nice to have someone to lean on, just a little bit.

There should be a bus in about fifteen minutes,” Darren said, “but I’m never quite sure whether they’re reliable. If we miss this one it’s four hours until the afternoon ones start again, so cross your fingers. Although we could hitch I suppose.”

Gwyn pulled a face without opening his eyes. “I’d rather not,” he said. “But better than hanging around here for four hours. I don’t think he’ll come after me. But he might.”

Darren was silent for a few minutes beside him. Then he said very gently, “You know I’ll listen if you want to talk, don’t you? I know we’re not close friends, we haven’t known each other long. But I’m here.”

Gwyn bit his lip. He couldn’t answer. He’d cry if he did. He drew in a sharp little breath and Darren nudged him gently with his shoulder.

It’s all right. Don’t worry about it. Let’s get on the bus and get down to Dublin. We can find somewhere to stay overnight and get the ferry in the morning. It’ll all look better when we’re further away from here.”

Gwyn nodded carefully, eyes still shut and head tilted back. Projecting everything is fine, honestly, vibes as hard as he possibly could.

Thanks, Darren,” he finally managed to find voice to say. “Thank you.” He swallowed. “I wouldn’t have found it as easy to leave without you backing me up. I could have phoned my brother…,” he trailed off, “…but it’s complicated.” He swallowed again. “I just want to go home. I should probably have gone before, but…like I say.”

Darren patted him on the knee. “Don’t worry about it now. Just rest. Have you taken any painkillers? I’ve got some, I think.”

Gwyn shook his head and then regretted the movement. “No, I haven’t. I didn’t think.”

Here.” Darren began to root through the front pocket of his enormous rucksack. “I’ve got paracetamol and ibuprofen. Take two of each. That’ll help.”

Gwyn heard him rustling about and the sound of the pills popping out of their little foil nests. And then a water bottle being opened.

He had to open his eyes, he knew. He didn’t want to.. It was nice sitting here in the darkness, pretending the rest of the world didn’t exist for a bit.

It wasn’t too terrible though, opening them and seeing Darren looking at him cautiously. He was a nice-looking man. Smaller than Gwyn’s 5’11, with brown eyes and heavy brows that were currently creased with concern. His black hair was buzzed down to half an inch all over—Gwyn had noticed he’d cut it twice in the six weeks Gwyn had been at the hotel. Too hot in the kitchen otherwise, he’d told him.

Gwyn took the proffered pills and the water bottle and swigged them down.

Drink the water,” Darren advised. “I’ve got another bottle.”

Gwyn nodded, and then regretted the movement.

Shitfire,” he said. “It hurts quite a bit actually.”

I bet. Let’s get down to Dublin and then go and get it looked at. I’d feel better knowing you’re not going to die in the night. And we’ll have time.. We’re going to miss the ferry by the time we’ve dicked about getting tickets and such. e’ll have to find somewhere to stay overnight.. We can go to A&E.”

Okay,” Gwyn conceded. “If it’s still as bad when we get down there.”

Darren nodded and poked at the water bottle. “Finish it up, then. The bus’ll be along in a minute.”

True enough, as Gwyn was putting the cap back on the empty bottle the red and white bus came into view around the long bend to the north.

Told you,” Darren grinned as he jumped to his feet, disturbing the big flock of starlings that had come down in the field behind the bus-stop so they flew up in a huge, chattering cloud . “Come on then. Do you want a hand with your bag?”

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Taking Flight

Cover Taking Flight

Gwyn Mabler is on secondment at the Kings of Ireland Hotel at Tara. He and his brother Brân are in the process of buying the place and Gwyn is getting to grips with the everyday running by shadowing the current owner, Mal Reagan.

Gwyn’s an idiot, though. Mal made it clear from the start he’d like to get Gwyn in his bed and after a couple of weeks of pursuit, Gwyn gave in. Mal was hot and pushy and just the kind of dangerous to pique Gwyn’s interest. He honestly thought Mal knew he was trans.

Since that horrible night, Mal has had Gwyn ‘workshadowing’ Chef in the deeply unhappy kitchen. He doesn’t want to go home and cause a fuss that might make the sale fall through, but when a huge row breaks out over a flour delivery and Mal backhands Gwyn across the face, he finally decides enough is enough. With the help of Darren Starling, one of the line-cooks with whom he’s formed a tentative friendship, he leaves.

During the two-day journey from the middle of Ireland home to Wales they have plenty of time to exchange confidences. Could the delicate pull of attraction between them grow into something stronger? Is it safe for Gwyn to out himself to Darren? Will Darren want to go out with a trans guy? And how will his brother Brân take Gwyn’s arrival home with a stranger?

A 14,500-word short story in the Reworked Celtic Myths series.

Buy Taking Flight: AmazonEverywhere Else!

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About A. L. Lester

Ally Lester writes queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense and lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, Morris the badly behaved dachshund, a terrifying cat, three guineapigs, some hens and the duckettes.

She likes permaculture gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy these days. Not musical, doesn’t much like telly, likes to read. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has fibromyalgia and tedious fits.

Join my newsletter, for a free copy of the novella An Irregular Arrangement or find me on social media via my link-tree.


What the Heck Do You Blog About?


This blog post is related to one I wrote earlier this year, What the Heck Do Authors Do? Half the year has passed, and it was time for me to turn a page in my bullet journal. I have a spread, not a fancy or artistic one as many you see out there, but one that gives me an overview of what I have scheduled and what I need to write. 

As I write this, WordPress tells me that I have published 107 blog posts, the average word count per post is 1.100 words, and I’ve written a total of 117.705 blog words during 2021.  

If I’d written those as story words, I’d have had a few more releases. But of all the ‘side stuff’ authors do, blogging is what I like best.  

So what do I blog about? 

All sorts of things. Sometimes, I have no idea what to write about, and sometimes I have so many blog posts I need to write that it’s hard to fit them all in. 

  • Behind the Scenes – I do posts like this one that’s about what I do rather than about a book. 
  • #WhatToReadWednesday – This is a feature I started this year. I’ve read a few books through the years, and we’re always bombarded with new releases, but what about those old books? For the #WhatToReadWednesday posts, I make a list of books in a certain trope, for a certain day, with covers of a certain colour, or whatever else I can come up with. 
  • Wrap-Up Wednesday – This I do on the last Wednesday of the month. I tell you about what I’ve read during the month. Last year, I did Friday Reads posts, where I read a book for each Friday, so this is a bit more relaxed. If I haven’t finished a book one week, I won’t have to panic, but I don’t know what I like best. 
  • Fridays at Ofelia’s – This is the main reason I don’t do Friday Reads posts anymore. I decided guests would be fun to have, so Fridays are dedicated to guest posts from other authors. 
  • Cover Reveals – Whenever I have a new cover, I like to show it off and tell you what’s coming. 
  • Release Day Posts – When something goes live, I like to tell you about it 😀 
  • Character Introductions – This I always do for the Up North stories, and I did it for The Rockshade stories too. I tell you a little something about the characters in an upcoming release. 
  • Book Birthdays – On the first of every month, I do a giveaway of books published in that month previous years. It’s a fun way to celebrate former achievements 😀 
  • Sales – If we’re having a sale, I try to blog about it. That being said, keep an eye on Barnes&Noble, I never know when books go on sale there, but it’s pretty often! 
  • Random Posts – When something happens, when someone from the morning office has a release and want to come on a day other than Friday, or if I join some kind of event or other there will be a random post. 

And it looks like this: 

 So, onto another six months of blogging! LOL 

Fridays at Ofelia’s | Bring Him Back, Jack


Hi, Holly here, stealing a spot again! I wanted to tell you about a story I’ve written for (National) Different Coloured Eyes Day. It’s called Bring Him Back, Jack and it’s about Ivan and Malik. 

Ivan is a shadow walker, which means he can melt into walls and stuff. That’s the cool part. The not so cool part is that there are a lot of evil wizards who believe he’s a bridge between the living and the dead and that by using his blood in a special kind of rite they can gain immortality. 

Ivan has different colours on his eyes, something all shadow walkers have, so he’s hiding it by always wearing coloured lenses.  

Malik is a vampire, and in this alternative universe, vampires are treated like slaves. They have a stake attached to their chests ready to shoot through their hearts at any given moment, and Malik’s master insists on them wearing chains as soon as they leave the cage they live in. 

When Ivan has to do a job for Malik’s master to pay off a debt, he insists on Ivan bringing Malik along – as a guard. The problem is that Ivan is to steal a diamond, and being stealthy is not easy when you have a massive vampire in rattling chains shadowing your every step.  



Ivan left the bathroom without cursing. Malik had never been in a shower. It was hard to tell how old a vampire was, but Ivan would guess Malik was close to forty, maybe a couple of years past forty, and he’d never been in a shower. Ivan would turn thirty-four in October if they survived this mission, and he’d always assumed Malik was a few years older than him.

How did they wash in the basement? He wanted to strangle Remington Redwood.

He hadn’t seen many vamps living happy lives, but few were as miserable as those Remi kept.

The chain rattled against the shower stall wall, and Ivan winced. Perhaps he should have stayed in there. “Everything all right?” He stood right outside the door, not wanting to barge in unless Malik wanted him there.


Ivan grinned. “Turn the temperature down.”

I have.”

Well, there you go. Enjoy!” He went to inspect Raina’s cleaning cabinet. Last he’d checked, she kept a hammer and some nails there. He didn’t hold much hope to her having something able to cut metal, but you never knew. Raina had a tendency to surprise him.

When he couldn’t find anything, he pulled out his phone.

Only one signal rang through. “What?” Her bark made him wince.

Erm… is this a bad time?”

Crawling with people.”

Ivan nodded; he’d assumed as much. “Do you own a hacksaw or something?”

No, if I need something I always go to Zev on the ground floor.”

Ivan had no idea who Zev was, and he wasn’t sure it was a good thing to involve someone else. “Who is he?”

A super-hot werewolf. I don’t think he’d like you, so better wait until I get there.”

Yeah, super-hot werewolves were normally bigoted assholes with an alpha male complex—Ivan didn’t do those. “He can’t know what it’s for.”

I’ll handle it. A hacksaw?”

Something to cut metal.”

You’re sawing through the chains? I don’t think that’ll work. Hang on, I’ll call Ibine and ask how she removed them the first time.”

Ivan nodded. Calling Ibine would be good, but she didn’t remove the chains, she removed the cuffs. “I’m not cutting the chains, it’s for the stake. We’ll need some nuts to screw on and then tape some shit over so he doesn’t catch on anything. It must hurt like hell.”

Aww, are you worried about your pet?”

Stop it.”

I think we should keep him. You’re cute together, and you know what they say about vamps.”

He didn’t, and he wouldn’t ask. Raina chuckled as if she knew what he was thinking.

The bathroom door opened, and Malik stepped out buck naked and dripping wet. “I have to go, Raina. Call Ibine and pick up a hacksaw and nuts in different sizes.”

I’ll be there soon.” She hung up, but Ivan kept on holding the phone to his ear as he studied Malik.

I left a towel out for you.”

Malik turned and looked into the bathroom, goosebumps covering his skin.

Come on.” Ivan put the phone away and walked past him into the steaming bathroom. He must have half-boiled himself. He grabbed the towel and shook it. When Malik raised a hand to grab it, drops fell from his chains and Ivan cursed. “I’ll…” He quickly dried off Malik’s shoulders and arms. When he reached the chain, he ran the towel over it, too. “You can… eh…” He gestured at his middle, not looking despite wanting to.

For the first time, he noted a spark of amusement in Malik’s eyes and rolled his in return. “Did you do it to embarrass me?”

No. But I like you touching me.”

Ivan froze. “You do?” Heat washed over him and Malik grinned, fangs peeking out from underneath his upper lip.

I do.”

Ivan huffed. “I believe you’re yanking my chain, Mr. Malik.” He changed his hold on the towel, ducked in under Malik’s arm, and reached around him to wrap the towel around his middle. Those strong arms wrapped around him, and for a moment an alarm went off in Ivan’s mind, then he became aware of the hard length pushing against his belly when Malik hugged him.

You don’t have any chains to yank.”


bringhimbackjackOnce every century, a shadow walker is born. Ivan Charna is that shadow walker, and he and his sister Raina are on the run from wizards who want to sacrifice their blood in some crazy rite. They never stay long in one place, and they do their best not to stand out. When Raina loses a bet, Ivan is forced to work off her debt, and they have to stay put. As long as no wizard figures out what they are, Ivan doesn’t mind all that much since he gets to work with his favorite vampire.

Malik lives in a cell in a basement. He’s never allowed to go anywhere without chains around his wrists and ankles, and there is a stake hovering over his heart at all times. Master can trigger the stake with a push of a button. He doesn’t even have to be in the same room to do it. Malik dreams of a different life, a life with Ivan, but he’s a vampire, and vampires have to do what their masters tell them.

Ivan only has to steal one last diamond, then the debt is paid, and he and Raina can leave town. It should be easy, but when Remington Redwood, the man Raina owes money, insists on having Malik shadow his every step, it complicates things. Malik might dream about making Ivan his, but getting him away from Master alive has to be enough. Ivan knows it’s a stupid risk to take, but if he’s stealing a diamond, what’s to say he can’t steal a giant vampire too?

Buy links:

Paranormal M/M Romance: 32,159 words

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