What people think about UNDER LEADEN SKIES

UNDER LEADEN SKIES by Sandra Lindsey is a solid wartime novel, mixing the best of realism with a turn-the-page approach to story-telling.

How have people responded to it … ?

UNDER LEADEN SKIES received an Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2016, and was a Finalist in the Gay Historical fiction category. Among other things, the judges said:

It was a pretty good story. It kept me curious as to what would come next.

Stevie at The Good, the Bad and the Unread rated it Grade A, and concluded:

I loved this book, both for the story told within it and for the style in which it is told – addressing the reader throughout, as Teddy passes his story on to an individual whose identity only becomes clear at the very end. There’s a lot of scope for sequels – and possibly a prequel – so I hope this isn’t the only visit we pay to the characters and their world.

Dan at Love Bytes LGBTQ Book Reviews gave it four stars, and said:

This was one of those books I finished reading and then sat there gazing at my Kindle…reflecting on the story I had just read…and the book hangover it left me with. Did I like it? Yes, very much. Did I like it all? No, to be honest…there were parts I didn’t like, but only because they tugged at my heartstrings. […] Is the book complete as it is? Yes. But I enjoyed the story and would like more, darn it!

Freya at Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews gave it four stars, and concluded:

Under Leaden Skies is a delightful, engaging tale that took me into a world far from my own. There is death, dealing with life in difficult circumstances, injury, drama, loving from a distance and making the best of the hand one is dealt. This would be a lovely story to lose oneself in during that sunny afternoon, lay in a hammock under a shady tree, with a cup of Earl Grey at your side.

Our readers are loving it, too! On Amazon, Andyj9511 gave it five stars and said:

A cracking good read … This is a fantastic story of “forbidden love” in difficult times. It is well written and gives a good insight in to the struggles of two young men coping not only with their love but of a Country at war.

While Stephen H gave it four stars and said:

Very good! … My wife and I included this book in our bedtime reading-to-each-other hour. We were both excited about a book that had LGBTQ characters. We enjoyed it very much. Our only complaint is that we wanted the story to be longer! 🙂


Indeed! We love it when the readers are left wanting more – though we have to admit it does also make us feel a tad cruel. But this is obviously a marvellous book to read alone or with the partner(s) of your choice … The people that read together stay together!

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including UNDER LEADEN SKIES – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading!

Creating a world of modern horror and magic

A guest blog
by Dorian Dawes

HARBINGER ISLAND came out of a dark place in my life. I hadn’t written much in the way of fiction in nearly three years. I’d become isolated, virtually agoraphobic, hiding in my boyfriend’s room and doing nothing but playing video games or browsing the internet. Some days it was a chore just to get out of bed. I’d resorted to dying my hair crazy colors just to retain my creativity.

The only thing I looked forwards to was playing D&D and Pathfinder every week with my boyfriend’s gaming group. Getting to escape, be anyone who wasn’t me, and to tell a story without the pressure of succeeding. The discouragement over lack of interest in my work, coupled with personal recent traumas made the very act of writing anything out a Sisyphean task. I loved the world we built and the characters we played, and somehow out of that, found the inspiration to write my own campaign.

I wanted to do something different, to create a world of modern horror and magic and combine my various aesthetic sensibilities into one cohesive vision. Part modern-day Dungeons & Dragons and part X-Files, I created the town of Oakridge and beset it with undead horrors shambling out of the fog. I had some friends online, gay and trans alike who were interested in playing, and together we laid the groundwork for the world that would become Harbinger Island.

To help facilitate exposition for key plot-points, I created a character named Professor Bartley Prouse. He was modelled after specific horror-archetypes, the old man who’s battled evil before (Donald Pleasance in Halloween) and the eccentric and creepy scientist (Jeffrey Combs in Re-Animator). The shades of darkness and light that surrounded him compelled me, and I wanted to continue his story long after the campaign ended.

The drive to create for creativity’s sake had rekindled within me, and I set about writing the prologue story that introduces Harbinger Island. From there, once a month, I made myself write a story within that setting, some which didn’t make it into the book. I kept returning to that world, because it was something I made that I liked. Despite all its horrors, I wanted to live there.

Harbinger Island is a world where oppressive darkness exists, horrors and conspiracies that lurk around every corner, but it is a work of fiction where minorities like me are seen fighting back. Bartleby Prouse is an asexual trans man utilizing his knowledge and powers to protect the queer minority students beneath him from the horrors that surround them. He remains one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written, and ever roleplayed in a tabletop game. I’m currently embroiled in work on other projects, but I hope to return to that world someday again soon. It gave me my writing back, and for that, I will be forever grateful. No matter what I work on in the future, this book will forever be held in my heart affectionately as the one that started it all.


Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including HARBINGER ISLAND – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading!

What people think about TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR

TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR by Michelle Peart is a terrific story of an otherworldly pair of misfits on a road – well, a river trip. Edward just wants to go home to Earth, while Burn wants to see more of his own home planet Abaytor as they travel by raft down the Copper River. Does either of them get what he wants?

And how have people responded to this novel…?

TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR received an Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2017. The judges said:

This book was AWESOME. I was captured by the characters and story from the first page and was held captive until the last. The world building was vivid and captivating, the characters distinct and fully rounded. The plot moved along at a cracking pace as I went on a journey of discovery with Edward and Burn. Both of the boys worked their way into my heart and I eagerly await for more. What a debut!

On AmazonO.M. Carey Jones gave it five stars and said:

Very imaginative storytelling – an excellent read! … The story is so imaginative and different and so interestingly written that I did not know what to expect next as I turned each page. And the ending was completely unexpected, both sad and inspiring – I loved it!

Brightwood also gave it five stars and said:

This is an engaging, romping, rollicking adventure of two teenage boys on another world. As the river in this outer world tosses them about and challenges them to the limit, their inner worlds begin seismic shifts. The author’s use of descriptive language is beautiful and evocative – you are right in there with the boys – and I love the way the story unravels in unpredictable twists and turns, just like the river they’re riding, just like life. It’s messy, it doesn’t turn out how you expected or how you wanted it – but isn’t it interesting how it’s often just what you really need? A brilliant story, brilliantly told.

On Goodreads, Sabrina gave it four stars and said:

What a delightful read! Really did love the dynamic between the main characters a lot. Totally fell in love with the flirty Burn and the grumpy Edward right from the beginning.

While Rosie gave it five stars and said:

Loved absolutely everything about it. Desperate for a sequel now…


Does this romping, rollicking adventure sound like something you – or a loved one – would enjoy reading? This novel is suitable for people of all ages who are young at heart.

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading!

The culmination of a dream

A guest blog 
by Eleanor Musgrove

When I was asked to write a post explaining what I love about SUBMERGE, I had to think about it for a bit. Truth be told, I hadn’t read it in a while, due to a combination of having other things to write, real life getting in the way, and the fact that by the time I’ve edited something a million times (Manifold’s high standards don’t just happen, you know!) I generally can’t bear to look at it for a while. But it was about time I revisited my story, and I’m glad that this post gave me a good reason to do so, because suddenly the things I loved about the story, and the things that made it so much fun to write, came flooding back.

What do I love most about Submerge? Well, the first thing is Submerge itself. The book is named for the nightclub where most of the story’s main events take place, and that nightclub is the sort of place I would hang out if I could. It’s a very warm, friendly LGBTQIA+ safe space, with the big noisy dance-floor/bar setup alongside a smaller, quieter performance area, both with plenty of tables and chairs to sit down at if, like me, you’re not quite up to partying all night. Miles – the manager, and one of the main characters – has gone to a lot of trouble to make sure that it’s not just a gay/lesbian bar, for example by offering free pronoun stickers to make introductions easier between people with varying gender identities. And that makes a lot of sense when you think about Miles’ friends, who make up the main cast of the novel.

That’s the second thing I love about Submerge (though I know some people found it a bit off-putting) – the group of friends it centres around is quite varied in terms of LGBT+ identity. My main characters are two gay men, a bisexual woman and a lesbian, but the supporting cast includes a transman (one day I’d love to write more of his story, and indeed if I ever expand Submerge into a series I will go deeper into his life), an asexual woman, and a pansexual drag queen with a glitter obsession. Though it might seem like a box-ticking exercise, it is actually more to do with the friends I found when I was first beginning to understand my own identity, and the friends I continue to have now. I have always had friends from all over the sexuality and gender spectrum, and I didn’t see many of those mixed queer groups in fiction. Besides, when you set a book in a gay bar, you have to go all-out and pack it with a range of colourful characters, don’t you?

Submerge is my first published novel and the culmination of a dream I’ve had since I was fourteen years old. Well, I say ‘culmination’, but that suggests that I’ve finished, and I haven’t. I’ve learned a lot from the process, and I definitely still have stories to write! I really enjoyed writing Submerge, so I really hope people enjoy reading it just as much.


Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including SUBMERGE – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading!

Have you read SUBMERGE … ?

I was delighted to work as editor with Eleanor Musgrove on her novel SUBMERGE. We’d been friends for a while, and I was keen to see what she’d come up with in a novel-length story. Needless to say at this stage, I wasn’t disappointed!

I love this tale of a group of friends who have made a safe place for themselves – both literally in terms of the eponymous LGBTQ+ nightclub ‘Submerge’, and metaphorically in terms of their love and support for each other. They are a diverse bunch, with an importance placed on shared values and goodwill. I loved this, as for me this is how friendship should be. Yes, there needs to be some like-mindedness and shared concerns, shared understandings, but this need not be narrowly interpreted as based only on gender, sexuality, ethnicity and so on.

Within this very contemporary setting, one of the main characters is set on solving a mystery which just might bring the whole wonderful thing crashing down. This plot-line is carefully and intriguingly developed, intertwining with the more personal concerns of the characters.

If you’d like to join Jamie, Miles, Gina, Addie and their multifarious friends on their journey, SUBMERGE is currently on sale at Smashwords!


Blurb: Jamie Hill walks into his local LGBT+ nightclub, Submerge, intending to make friends and have a good time. When he meets comedian Addie Crewe and her girlfriend Gina Wilson, his night is already looking up – but it’s the man Gina introduces him to who really catches his eye. Miles Bradford seems to be everything Jamie could want in a man: smart, funny, kind. Jamie can’t take his eyes off him.

But though Submerge might sparkle on the surface, Jamie knows that the club, just like himself, hides darker secrets in its depths … and even Miles might not be as clean-cut as he appears.

Word count: 72,400 words

Smashwords sale: $6.95 $5.95


It’s the season for thinking about gifts – for yourself and for your loved ones! Is there ever any better present than a book … ?

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you.)

Happy reading!

What people think about ARDENT

ARDENT by Heloise West is a fascinating tale of two artists, Benedetto and Morello, set in the beautiful but strife-ridden city of Florence, Italy during the late fifteenth century.

How have people responded to it … ?

Lisa at The Novel Approach Reviews gave it four stars and said:

…. I was so eager to take on Heloise West’s Ardent. It’s not only set in a time not often covered in historical romantic fiction but is set in the Italian art community of the 15th century, incorporating a forbidden love story with murder and intrigue, and doing so beautifully.

Diane at Hearts on Fire Reviews gave it five stars and said:

While the story starts in Torrenta, the bulk of the story takes place in Florence and what is interesting in that is just how amazing as well as intimidating it must have been to be a painter at that time, in that city, with all that talent. No doubt, it was a dog eat dog industry, as much as it was a passion-filled one, on and off the canvas and serves as the backdrop of this story. …

As a history nerd, I … felt the author had the same interest [as me] in both the period and the location as the story was very well written and the whole plot was so well crafted. These are great main and supporting characters, and of course the culture of the village and city play parts in this too. The book has a great pace and really gets hard to put down once all the cards seem to be in play, which is when the author introduces the twists!

Kazza K at On Top Down Under Book Reviews with Substance gave it four stars and said:

I’ve never read Heloise West before but I was impressed with this book. The writing is pretty tight – it captures the essence of the Italian Renaissance, the mood and the people, very well. I don’t know much about the art world but that didn’t detract one iota from the well-named Ardent.

It’s a nice historical romance with some sexy moments, a murder/mystery which doesn’t shirk its task, including a twist or two and some other arcs that converged … The main characters are well developed and some of the secondaries were interesting as well. I would definitely recommend Ardent to those who want a well written and interesting historical romance that sets the right tone for the crime and the time.

Mari at Bayou Book Junkie gave it four stars and said:

The suspense part of the book was well-developed and kept my interest throughout the story, trying to figure out how it would all play out.

I love historical romance books, it’s one of my favorite genres and this one was really good! Heloise West obviously did a lot of research and it showed in the story. Her writing transported me to Italy during the Renaissance period and it had a good balance between the mystery/intrigue portion and the romance. Very recommendable!

Morningstar at Diverse Reader said:

This was a first for me even as someone that loves historical stories, as they often are not based in Italy.

The writing was beautiful and vivid. The characters were well fleshed out with their story told with detail bringing to life the world at that time and their struggle in it. It was suspenseful but well balanced with the love story of Morello and Benedetto.


Are you seduced, as I was … ? After re-reading all the reviews, I am yearning now to also re-read this colourful novel!

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including ARDENT – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading!

Have you read ARDENT … ?

I had the honour of acting as editor for ARDENT, a fascinating historical novel set in the dangerous world of Medici Florence.

Heloise West is already well established as an author, but she was new to the Press when she offered us the opportunity to publish ARDENT. We felt it was a perfect fit with Manifold Press, as we are known for our quality historical fiction. ARDENT, with all its vivid detail, brings to life two artists as its main characters, and explores their world of creativity and commissions, intrigue and innocence, apprentices and patrons, lovers, friends – and the occasional murderer.

As someone who is fascinated and often seduced by colour, I appreciated that the plot centred on a controversial new method of creating a paint pigment – the ‘ardent red’ of the title. I also loved how aware the main characters were of the colours of their world, and how that also brought the village of Torrenta and the city of Florence into clear view for the reader. I keep wanting to use and re-use the word ‘vivid’ to describe the results!

Beyond the use of colour, I loved how intrinsic their art was to the main characters’ point of view. Their values and perspectives and imagery were all affected by their work and their vocation. Splendid stuff!

If you’d like to explore below the surface beauties of Florence with Morello and Benedetto, ARDENT is currently on sale at Smashwords!


Blurb: In the village of Torrenta, master painter Morello has created a color that mimics the most expensive pigment of all, the crimson red. Master Zeno, from strife-ridden Medici Florence, tells him the color gives him a competitive advantage – but Morello must be careful. Fraud is ever-present in the dye and pigment markets.

As they work together in Torrenta, Morello falls hard for Zeno’s assistant, Benedetto Tagliaferro, a young man of uncommon beauty and intelligence. Benedetto is still fixed on his old lover, the master painter Leo Guisculo, and cannot return Morello’s affections.

But when Leo dies in a terrible accident, it’s to Morello that Zeno and Benedetto turn for help. And Morello soon finds that in Florence, every surface hides layers of intrigue.

Word count: 75,600 words

Smashwords sale: $6.95 $5.95


It’s the season for thinking about gifts – for yourself and for your loved ones! Is there ever any better present than a book … ?

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you.)

Happy reading!

The surprises and joys of historical fiction

A guest blog 
from Sandra Lindsey

UNDER LEADEN SKIES is, and always was, the story of Huw and Teddy (aka Max). Or rather it’s Teddy’s version of the story because it was only after several false starts that I tried writing a bit in first person from Teddy’s point of view and suddenly things started to click.

Some things clicked a little too well. Within a few pages, I found Teddy on rather intimate terms with someone who definitely wasn’t Huw. Cheeks was a complete surprise to me – I’d anticipated him becoming a close friend of Teddy’s, but not that close! Of course, once I learned that Sunderland flying boat crews always left a pair of men aboard, it seemed only natural that young men like Teddy and Cheeks might take advantage of such a situation …

Cheeks wasn’t the only character who surprised me: there was also Jem, who I hadn’t expected to return to the story until he did so, and Teddy’s grandfather who turned out to have some very different views to those I’d first imagined.

Aircraft were a little more predictable – although even there I found I had to re-write sections once I gained a better understanding of technical details. I can’t stress enough the value of being able to see preserved aircraft ‘up close and personal’ in museums as well as at airshows when creating a story like this. Sylvia’s reaction to the Spitfire is based on my own first encounter with one of the iconic single-engine fighters on the ground, although mine was at RAF Museum Cosford rather than on my in-laws’ cricket pitch!* Other parts of that scene are based on a tale I heard of wartime goings-on in the village where I live: it wasn’t a Spitfire or a cricket pitch, but there were hastily erected anti-aircraft defences involved.

This is where I find the most joy in historical fiction – as both a writer and as a reader – the weaving of real historical events into a fictional narrative. Truth is always stranger than fiction, but in fiction we can skip the boring parts.

*None of my in-laws have a cricket pitch, as far as I know.


Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including UNDER LEADEN SKIES – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading!

Have you read UNDER LEADEN SKIES … ?

Fiona Pickles loves a good historical novel, so she was delighted to work as editor with author Sandra Lindsey on this story. When I asked her which aspects of UNDER LEADEN SKIES she liked best, this was her response:

“In fiction, first-person narration is difficult to pull off successfully. People who aren’t writers often think it should be easy, but when you consider that it involves living inside the skin of a character for a sustained period – several months, at least – the scale of the challenge becomes apparent, and succeeding so well that the end result reads like an autobiography is rare indeed.

“When we first encountered UNDER LEADEN SKIES, this was what we noticed – the wholly convincing and consistent voice of Max-alias-Teddy, the lead character, who describes his wartime adventures, both heroic and romantic, as calmly and authoritatively as any real-life veteran. There’s also a genuine love and understanding of the technology; the aircraft Teddy encounters are characters in themselves – and some of them have pretty decisive roles to play in the story, too.

“Being set in wartime this is a realistic mixture of joy and sorrow, love and pain; for Teddy, as for millions of others at the time, life doesn’t turn out quite the way he was hoping – but he learns to hold onto the happiness he has, without ever losing sight of the pleasures of the past.”

If you’d like to accompany Teddy on his journey through the war and beyond, UNDER LEADEN SKIES is currently on sale at Smashwords!


Blurb: Love. Loss. Betrayal. Forgiveness. Honour. Duty. Family.

In 1939, the arrival of war prompted ‘Teddy’ Maximilian Garston to confess his love to his childhood friend, Huw Roberts. Separated by duty – Teddy piloting Sunderland flying boats for RAF Coastal Command, and Huw deep underground in a South Wales coal mine – their relationship is frustrated by secrecy, distance, and the stress of war that tears into every aspect of their lives.

After endless months of dull patrols, a chance encounter over the Bay of Biscay will forever change the course of Teddy’s life. On returning to Britain, how will he face the consequences of choices made when far from home? Can he find a way to provide for everyone he loves, and build a family from the ashes of wartime grief?

Word count: 46,000 words

Smashwords sale: $5.95 $4.95

Recognition: Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2016, and a Finalist in the Gay Historical fiction category


It’s the season for thinking about gifts – for yourself and for your loved ones! Is there ever any better present than a book … ?

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you.)

Happy reading!

What people think about HARBINGER ISLAND

HARBINGER ISLAND by Dorian Dawes is a collection of character-driven stories which combine dark fantasy and horror elements within a modern setting, featuring a diverse cast of LGBT+ individuals.

How have people responded to it … ?

HARBINGER ISLAND received an Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2017. Among other things, the judges said:

Delightfully creepy tale that could well have been part of the Twilight Zone series … Interesting and spooky plot. … I loved the way the stories all linked together to form a full story. Great sense of evil and horror, and interesting diverse characters. Hope there’s a sequel as it feels as though the fight against evil has only just begun.

Cheryl at Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews gave it four stars and said:

Harbinger Island contains all the classic Lovecraft themes … While other horror writers focus on shadows, gore and violence, Lovecraft (and Dawes) paints beautifully creepy landscapes and situations then saturates them with ichor and sprinkles them with tentacles. … This was a real sit on the edge of the seat, keep your eye on the shadows and trust absolutely no one book. After a slow start, I thoroughly enjoyed it and can recommend it to anyone who has a love for creeping horror, ritualistic murder and things with more tentacles than they’ve any business to have – oh and a damn sexy, green gorgon with scales.

Our readers have also been impressed! Kyrah commented on our website to say:

This is one of the best up and coming authors I have ever had the pleasure to discover, their book is truly an amazing work of art. What a gifted writer! It is like reading colorful poetry that completely sucks you into a world of mystery and magic. Bravo, Dorian Dawes!

On Goodreads, Laura said:

this was a wild, gay ride from start to finish

And Lindsay Bee seemed particularly impressed:

I really enjoyed this book. Like. REALLY. A LOT. MUCH ENJOYMENT. … I love the interconnected-short-story format when it’s done right and here, it’s done right. … I also love how the book doesn’t feel the need to explain itself. It doesn’t infodump, or go into convoluted back stories – it gives you enough information to enjoy what’s happening while leaving enough unsaid to keep you thinking about it. … I would love to read more from this author, and I’d LOVE more books set within the universe of Harbinger Island; it’s a terrifying world for sure, but one with enough points of light to give you a bit of hope.

Meanwhile, on Amazon, Joshua Valley gave it five stars and said:

This is a horror story of impeccable craft, evoking cosmic terrors and oppressive forces from beyond the world that threaten to expose the insidious secrets of a community. The characters fight against these forces valiantly, with depth and beauty. It’s not a “fun” novel by any means, but it’s worthwhile and satisfying to those who have been looking for it’s like for ages.


Does that sound weird enough to be your kind of thing … ?

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including HARBINGER ISLAND – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading, and do remember to leave the lights on!