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Conflict ~ Guest Post by Anna Butler ~ Author of Gyrfalcon

A warm welcome to friend and author, Anna Butler. She’s here to tell you about her new release, Gyrfalcon.

“Conflict is drama, and how people deal with conflict shows you the kind of people they are.”

Stephen Moyer

Where’s a story without a bit of conflict? Flat as the proverbial pancake, that’s where. Without something throwing an obstacle in the main character’s way, something that gets between them and what they want, then where does a story get its excitement and its tension? If there’s no conflict, if the characters have nothing to overcome, then where’s the drama? It would all be sort of meh.

I hate ‘meh’.

I hope I can offer you a bit of drama in Gyrfalcon—in the whole Taking Shield series, in fact. It’s all about conflict on a grand scale: humanity fighting a war to the death with an alien race it has never even *seen*. Gyrfalcon sets the scene there, opening with a Shield Regiment raid on a Maess outpost. Within a paragraph, the hero, Shield Captain Bennet, is fighting for his life against a Maess drone.

Yeah, yeah. So far, so old-school science fiction. Hero brandishing a laser against a big cyborg warrior robot thingie. But you know, while I like explosions and lasers, it’s only takes a few minutes for me to be looking around for something more satisfying than yet another spaceship going belly up in a flash of white flame.

Characters, now. They’re far more fun. Make the conflict human in scale, show me what this character does or that one, and then you have me hooked. Yes, you can still have the big war going on, the flashbangs and explosions and spaceships crashing down onto world in flames. But are you like me, and more interested in the characters who are pulled into the fights, who are flying the spaceships or raiding the Maess’s bases? More interested in who they are and why they’ve ended up as they have, who they love, who they quarrel with, how they grow or even, sadly, how they die?

The war with the Maess is too vast a canvas to see. It rages over dozens of star systems, across hundreds of light years, over a hundred years. But there, in that tiny corner of the canvas, that’s where Bennet and Flynn stand. That’s where Bennet is not only fighting his little corner of a big war, but where he’s dealing with the smaller, but no less demanding conflicts in his life: the demands of duty and service and how they must come first and override his own desires and ambitions, his estrangement from his father and the work they have to do to reach some sort of understanding and forgiveness, the emotionally draining and contorted relationship he has with Joss, his lover of more than eight years now, and the way that Fleet Lieutenant Flynn walks into Bennet’s carefully regulated life of duty and service and turns it on its head so fast that Bennet is dizzy with it. And what’s more, these conflicts aren’t fully resolved in Gyrfalcon. Some of them are never resolved.

Gyrfalcon isn’t a romance, not as you’d think of a m/m romance, but it is a love story. It’s a love story about two people caught up in something huge and threatening, who have to fight their personal battles as well as the big cyborg warrior robot thingies. It’s a love story that plays out over years, not days or weeks or months, against that backdrop of war and loss, where service and honour conflict with love and desire, and where (to quote the immortal Spock) the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one—or two, in this case.

I hope that as you read Gyrfalcon, and the other books in the Taking Shield series, you’ll see that Bennet and Flynn are standing between home and destruction, their lives are all drama and conflict, stress and war—and you’ll come to see what sort of people Bennet and Flynn are with all their strengths and heroics, and above all, their glorious faults.

And maybe, like me, you’ll root for them to have a happy ending. Some day.



Earth’s last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield series, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesn’t need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his father—or with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down. He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war. What he doesn’t expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.


Outside, Bennet turned into the main corridor, heading towards the elevators. Flynn fell in beside him.

“Where are we going?”

“I’m heading back to my quarters to check my shield-suit is charging up and to try and get a few hours sleep. It’s a bit selfish of me to drag you along, but it’s a good opportunity to talk along the way.”


Bennet’s mouth twisted a little. “Listen, Flynn. Commander Caeden has a…a gratifying concern about getting me back. He’s trying very hard to reduce the risks. Very reassuring for me, but I don’t think for a minute that all this really reflects his opinion of your abilities as a pilot and an officer. He’s just caught up on those things that, in his eyes, make you seem a little undependable.”

“Mmn.” Flynn stayed non-committal, but he was gratified that Bennet was taking the trouble to try and mitigate some of the chagrin and hurt that he felt.

“Are you a religious man, Flynn?”

It surprised Flynn into a laugh and a “Hell, no!”

“It’s a Theban thing, I think. They tend to magnify faults out of proportion sometimes, and then all they see is the fault and forget the rest of the person it’s attached to. “

“I know the commander’s Theban. A lot of the crew are… most of ’em maybe. We have a chapel and a priest. Handy for the burials after a battle, I guess.”

Bennet grinned. “I’ll bet. Anyhow, I think those Theban values are at work here. I’ve been on the receiving end of it myself. My family’s Theban, and something I did…” Bennet hesitated, and corrected himself. “Something I am, became the only important thing about me. It wiped out everything else. I know how hard that is to deal with, Flynn. It’s one of the reasons I’m lapsed.”

“I was never in, to lapse.” Flynn followed Bennet into the elevator.

“You haven’t missed much, although the sung High Services are spectacular if you like that kind of thing.” Bennet grinned at him. “Your record, Flynn, is pretty colourful, but the one thing I noticed was that you don’t foul up out there. That’s what matters to me.”

“And Powell doesn’t foul up in here, either. Is that what swung it?”

There was something very odd about Bennet’s grin. “Flynn, trust me. I know exactly what I’m doing here. I don’t want you driving that cutter. I haven’t wanted you driving that cutter ever since the commander objected.”

“Oh.” That hurt. That hurt more than the lack of the commander’s good opinion.

“You’ll be flying my Mosquito, instead.”

The warmth started somewhere in the pit of Flynn’s stomach, spreading out through his body until his ears tingled and his face heated up. “Consolation prize?”

The elevator doors opened. Bennet’s quarters were only a few yards away. Bennet paused at the door. His mouth had twisted into a wry grin that Flynn didn’t quite understand. “No. No, Flynn. I don’t do consolation prizes. I told you. I need you for insurance.” He put his hand on Flynn’s arm. Flynn liked the weight and the warmth. Maybe Bennet noticed, because the hand tightened and there was something in those pale grey eyes that was more than amusement, something that reflected the warmth in Flynn. “Another hour’s simulation practice, Flynn, and then go and relax until it’s time. I’ll be leaving in six hours.”

“I’ll be there to see you off and wish you luck.” Flynn licked dry lips, aware of nothing but the weight of that long-fingered hand and the eyes looking into his.

“I know you will. And you’ll be there to make sure I get back, too.” Bennet released Flynn. “Where it counts, Flynn, I think I can depend on you. I know you’ll be precisely where I want you.” He grinned. “Don’t say anything about using the Mosquito, or they’ll all want a go. I’ve cleared it with the commander. Jordan will be crewing for you and he’s getting the ship ready to go.”


Bennet yawned. “I’m half asleep. See you later.”

“Yeah,” Flynn said, grinning like an idiot. “You will.”


Gyrfalcon is available as an ebook at Wilde City Press

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Enter the RAFFLECOPTER giveaway to win an Amazon gift card (drawn when the blog tour is over at the end of March).

In addition, one commentator on this blog will be chosen at complete close-eyes-stick-a-pin-in-it random, and get a little pack of Gyrfalcon loot and a free copy of FlashWired (a gay mainstream sci-fi novella).



Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to running an internal TV service. She now spends her time indulging her love of old-school science fiction. She lives in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo.

Find Anna:

Website and Blog


The Butler’s Pantry (Facebook Group)



Four questions and a tag or two!

 I’ve been tagged in a rolling meme blog post by Facebook friend and fellow writer Anna Butler. The idea is that I answer four questions about my writing and tag three more fellow writers who pass on the torch in their turn. As Anna said in her post, “You have to be brave to venture onto Facebook these days!”

A native of Durham, England, Anna worked for many years as a communications specialist in the UK government. She now spends her time combining her love for science fiction with that for m/m romance.

Flashwired was Anna’s first published book. She is currently working on a series of five science fiction/gay romance novels, Taking Shield. The first will be published shortly. Anna is also the author of several short stories in Dreamspinner anthologies.

Written for the 2013 UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet, Candlelight (around 1,700 words) is available as a free downloadable .pdf on her blog. Join Jack Lincoln as he plans to romance lover Adam Hollister, and share the moment when Jack is entranced by how Adam looks by candlelight…


She also has a delightful M/M romance called Gilded Scarab on her blog. Each of her short vignettes from The Gilded Scarab is also available as a free downloadable .pdf that you will be able to transfer to any e-reading device.

See Anna’s blog for the links to both downloads. LINK HERE.


I met Anna at the UK Meet last year and am looking forward to chatting to her again in June.

So without further ado, here are the questions and my answers.

What am I working on? 

My main focus since last November  has been my novel, Paint the Sky. I wrote most of it for NaNo and have been slowly working through each chapter before sending it to my pre-readers. After they had their say, I reconsidered various aspects of the plot and even the personality of the main character before going over the chapters several times and editing again. I’m almost done now. Just got the last three chapters to complete before I send  it off to the publisher.


Inspired by Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night‘ painting and Don McLean’s ‘Vincent‘, my story tells of the developing love between artist, Vincent (Vinnie), and would-be writer, Ben. Each chapter is titled after one of Vinnie’s paintings, and part of the storyline within each chapter includes reference to that painting.


How does my work differ from others in my genre?

I currently write contemporary romance and erotica with a bit of angst thrown in. I don’t think I especially differ much from others in the genre except the first two short stories I published come with a tissue warning. Most m/m romances are expected  to be HEA or at least HFN. All my other stories since have happy endings.

Why do I write what I do?

I’m often asked this by members of my family. I tell them it’s the only thing I read these days. Het stories offer no appeal to me anymore. In my writing, I enjoy exploring the love and relationship between two men and focus on the intensity of their physical and emotional attraction. All my stories contain explicit sex scenes. As much as I put them off until last, I love writing them really.

How does my writing process work?

The initial inspiration for a story can be anything from lyrics in a song to a random thought while I’m ironing. It may inspire a whole scene or just a short scenario that takes hold in my mind. In fact, the very beginnings of Paint the Sky came from a line in Empty Chairs.

“I wonder if you know

that I never understood

that although you said you’d go

until you did I never thought you would.”


Once I’ve got my initial ideas, I usually write a rough overview in my note book or on my computer. I’ve used various frameworks for each of my stories to help me organize my thoughts on character sketches, settings and the basic outline of the story. I don’t like to begin with a blank screen. A few author friends have recommended Scrivener, so I might give that a go for my next story.

For my current story, before I started NaNo, I wrote detailed  notes for all the main characters and then listed chapter headings. I wrote the key points I wanted to cover under each section and used these notes to write the chapters during November.  Since then, I have edited each chapter  several times and changed or re-written a few scenes before sending them to my first scrupulous pre-reader, who in turn added her own thoughts, questions and suggestions within the text. I edited again and currently have another reader going through and discussing points with me as I do the “final” edits.

I will do another read through and probably more edits before it is ready for submission.


Now to hand on the baton to three other authors in the M/M romance world. I can’t wait to read their answers to the above questions and to find out a little more about what makes them tick. Although, to be honest, I have a good idea what the first one will say because I know him so well.

E.S. Skipper is a dear friend and a budding new author. I have worked alongside him over the past four months and encouraged his writing talent as I’ve edited his work. As a result, his first short story is being published in Wayward Ink Publishing‘s first anthology, Bollocks! His story, No Worries, Mate, will be an undoubted success, so make sure you check it out when it is published on June 5th.


                                   Bollocks Thumbnail

L.J. Harris is also a friend made though my writing connections. Her story, Just Like Pulling Teeth, will also be published in the Bollocks! anthology.

Check out her wonderful novella Heart of  Glass.


 Cindy Sutherland is another Facebook friend and a successful writer of m/m fiction. Her latest story, Wrapped Up In Chains, became a #1 best seller.


All three will post their responses to the questions on 26th May. Tune in to see what they have to say about how they approach their craft.


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