Friday, 19 June 2015

Release Day - Ari by Cheryl Headford

Ari by Cheryl Headford banner
Title:  Ari
Author: Cheryl Headford
Genre: LGBT, romance, transgender, intersex, M/M, F/F
Length: Novel
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Synopsis

After having known each other online for some time, writers, Benji and Ari meet at a convention.
Their attraction is both immediate and mutual.
But all is not straightforward—Ari is intersex and Benji transgender.
Together they embark on a journey.
Ari Cheryl Headford
A journey that unites families, and heals old wounds.
But not everyone is happy with the blossoming love between these two unique and special individuals.
Will an act of aggression crush the flower before it can bloom?

Book trailer


Buy Links

WIP: http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/?p=1298
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YUT48QE/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00YUT48QE/
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00YUT48QE/
Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/dp/B00YUT48QE/
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-ari-1820879-341.html
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ari-cheryl-headford/1122098431?ean=9781925222487

Excerpt

MY EYES slammed open to a world gone mad. Bella barked as an enormous flash of light was followed immediately by a god-awful bang and rumble that shook the house on its foundations. Before I quite got my bearings, another brilliant flash of lightning blinded me and thunder cracked and rolled down the valley. I yelled at Bella for howling, cursed her for waking me—then I checked the clock.

“Jesus. Marc, it’s ten past five. We slept in. We have to get up. Now.”

“Benji?” Marc’s sleepy voice was sharp with alarm. He cried out with terror when another flash of lightning was followed by a deep boom and the lights flickered.

“Benji?”

“It’s okay. I’m here. It’s just a thunderstorm. We need to get going. We slept late.”

Marc jumped up and scampered around the bed to hug me tight. The dog was still whining and yipping, clearly unhappy, and the rain absolutely hammered.

“Typical,” I grumbled as I pried my little brother off me and headed for the bathroom. Marc followed, so close he tripped me.

“Whoa. You can’t go in the bathroom with me.”

“But I’m scared.” He underlined his words with a yelp when another round of thunder and lightning rolled over us.

“You can’t come in the shower, so don’t be silly. I’ll leave the door open, okay? You can sit on the stairs, or in your room.”

Marc was unhappy, but I managed to take a quick shower. As soon as he was able he came in, sat on the closed toilet, and watched me do my hair.

“You have very pretty hair.”

“What’s brought this on? You’re usually criticizing.”

“You shouldn’t complain. You should take compliments where you can get them, at your age.”

“Cheeky bugger. I’m not old.”

“You are, compared to me.”

“Only by seven years. I’m still a teenager.”

“Only for four weeks.”

“Then I’ll have to make the most of it while I can.”

About the author

CHERYL HEADFORD was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.

Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.

Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re-enactment group who traveled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.

It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.

In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.

Website: Nephylim-author.blogspot.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.headford
Twitter: @SevenPointStar

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

ARI by Cheryl Headford. Meet the Characters


To Be Released 19th June

In preparation for the release of Ari next week, I thought I would introduce you to the characters

Ari is in his late teens and a writer of LGBT novels. His father died when he was very young and he's been brought up by his mother and grandmother, both very strong women.

Ari is intersex with ambiguous genitala. This means he has neither male not female genitalia. All he has 'down there' is what he calls his 'nub', which is described as either an enlarged clitoris or micro penis. 

When Ari was born, his parents were put under a lot of pressure by doctors and social workers to make a decision for Ari and allow him to have surgery to create a gender, one way or the other. Ari's parents were strong enough to resist the pressure and allow Ari to grow and develop naturally. To make up his own mind when he was mature enough.

For Ari, there was no issue at all until adolescence reared its ugly head. Of course he'd known he was different. Children experiment and see more than we think, but he had no concept that his difference was significant. It was a difference akin to hair and eye colour, although it did make choosing which toilet to use in school a little more difficult, and something of an adventure.

Of course, with the advent of puberty when children start thinking about their bodies in different ways, the difference became more significant, and Ari's insecurity was born, although never allowed to fully flourish.

After being labelled a 'freak' early on, and having two disastrous pre sexual experiences which ultimately ended in physical violence, Ari was taken out of school and spent the last few years of his life pretty much secluded with his mother and grandmother in a remote house near Portsmouth in the UK.

Under the influence of the strong women who reared him, Ari grew up completely accepting and open with his gender and sexuality. He is about as gender fluid as they come. Sometimes he feels masculine and is a boy, and sometimes he feels feminine and is a girl. His sense of gender flows naturally from one to the other and back according to his moods, although he identifies mostly as male. He is (mostly) entirely comfortable with this and finds it quite natural to be either gender.

When he meets Benji he falls hard and fast, but his latent insecurities about his gender raise their ugly heads and it is only when a random even reveals his secret to Benji can he begin to relax and be completely himself. 

Benji's initial reaction to the revelation wasn't the best but he quickly realized that he was falling for the person, not the package and as soon as that was cleared up Ari went from strength to strength, blossoming in Benji's care as he had in his mother and grandmother's


Benji is an entirely different kettle of fish. Although Benji, too has known from a very early age there was something different about himself, he still hadn't found his place. 

Over the years he tried on a number of different labels - tomboy, straight, bisexual, lesbian, and finally, when he was sixteen, transgender - but none of them sat right. Even the transgender he uses now doesn't feel quite right. Maybe if he'd been aware what it was and meant when he was younger it would have been different, but transgender was a term he'd only been introduced to and got familiar with in his late teens.

Like Ari, Benji only really became aware of the extent of his difference to other girls his age when puberty hit. Until then he'd been happy in his role as tomboy, always being 'one of the boys'. Then when puberty hit and his body and sexuality began to develop, he realized he was growing further and further apart from his girl friends and closer to his male friends.

After a few disastrous relationships left him unsatisfied with either male or female partners, he started to wonder why. Of course, at that time, he was still Poppy; Daddy's little girl.

Finding himself playing the role of the 'man' in all of his sexual encounters, Benji gradually came to realize that this was not because he was a control freak, but because he was, in fact, a boy. With the discovery of the trans community came an wave of relief and understanding, and a belief he'd finally found his place.

Unfortunately, he too found insecurities worming their way in to his new found understanding of himself and he began to question whether he could really be a boy, when he still sometimes liked to wear high heels, sexy underwear and make up. Could he really be male when his female side was still there, and sometimes still strong.

At sixteen, his world was shattered when, after a tragically short illness his mother died and his father threw him out of the only home he'd ever known due to his inability to accept Benji (as opposed to Poppy)

A series of events led him to take responsibility for his younger brother who had lived with him for almost three years.

Going to the UK Meet of LGBT writers feels like a new start. It's his first trip out of Wales alone and the freedom is making him dizzy. He's already half in love with Ari from having grown to know him online, and is excited to meet him and to find out why Ari is so keen to keep everyone guessing whether he's a boy or a girl.

Benji is sure that when he meets Ari he'll know...but the doesn't. Ari still isn't telling and he's so fluid Benji can't make a call at all - and that only attracts him even more.

When he discovers Ari's secret Benji runs, but very quickly gives himself a quick shake and realizes it really doesn't make a difference because he's already falling for the wonderful person Ari is, and he's a poor one to be making those kinds of judgments in any event, given his own situation.

When they finally admit their mutual attraction, sparks fly and Ari's unique wisdom opens Benji's eyes to how unimportant labels really are and that labels are what you make them in any even.

Finding home in each other the two boys face the future with hope and confidence - and that's when their story really starts.




Ari is the story of two very unusual boys and their journey of discovery, from tentative beginnings, to a love that is so strong it can overcome just about anything - and boy does it need to be

Reserve your copy of Ari now, and don't miss getting two know two of the sweetest and most unique people you will ever read

Book trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUntf_SzFDA

Pre-order Links


Friday, 5 June 2015

COVER REVEAL Ari by Cheryl Headford

Ari by Cheryl Headford banner

Synopsis

After having known each other online for some time, writers, Benji and Ari meet at a convention.
Their attraction is both immediate and mutual.
But all is not straightforward—Ari is intersex and Benji transgender.
Together they embark on a journey.
A journey that unites families, and heals old wounds.
But not everyone is happy with the blossoming love between these two unique and special individuals.
Will an act of aggression crush the flower before it can bloom?

Ari Cheryl Headford

Book trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUntf_SzFDA

Pre-order Links

Excerpt

I was wandering aimlessly, in the vague direction of the exit, sipping a reasonably nice coffee from a cardboard cup when I heard someone yelling. It was odd. The voice was quite soft, but very clear, and it seemed to fill the air. I realized, with some shock, it was calling my name. Why the hell was someone calling my name in Bristol train station?

I turned toward the sound and barely had the chance to register a small, running figure before it was on me. The coffee flew out of my hand and hit the floor.

I froze. For a moment my brain ground to a halt in the face of such a surreal situation. I’m not the person who drops coffee on the floor, or gets hugged in stations.

The person—whoever he or she was—threw slender arms around me and held on tight. My face was full of long black hair which smelled of lemon and utterly blinded me. What the hell was going on?

I stiffened for a moment but didn’t have much choice but to return the hug. The person definitely seemed to know me, so I could only go along for the ride. I’d find out who it was soon enough.

After what seemed like an age, the person let go and pulled back a little. Bright emerald-green eyes sparkled in an almost inhumanly beautiful face.

“Benji, you’re so beautiful. I didn’t think you’d be so beautiful. I love your hair so much. Are those your real eyes?”

“Um, well… yeah, they’re my real eyes, just not the real colour.”

Ari laughed. Yeah, it was him. It was really him—maybe. I mean, I still wasn’t sure if Ari was… a him. He was slender and small, at least two inches shorter than my five-feet-seven, and his face was entirely free from hair, in a way that suggested natural absence rather than shaving. He also seemed to have kind of feminine curves, but there was something masculine in his voice and sometimes, when he turned his head—I just don’t know what. He didn’t seem to have breasts, and he’d pressed his chest pretty hard against me, yet a furtive glance didn’t show any kind of package in his jeans.
The mystery continued.

I suddenly realized Ari was still talking. I don’t think he even expected me to answer as he chatted with breathless enthusiasm.

“And I nearly didn’t catch the train. You’re taller than I thought you’d be, but did I mention how beautiful you are? We have to take a new photo for your avatar. You’re going to have to be less modest. Come on, let’s go. Do you want to share a taxi? Where are you staying? I’m in the hotel. I keep forgetting what it’s called. Oh, be careful, there’s coffee all over the floor.”

When I looked down, the first thing I noticed was Ari’s boots. They were so pretty, with silver tips on the pointed purple toes. It wasn’t the shape or colour that caught my attention as much as the absolutely killer heels. He was even smaller than I’d thought. My impression as to his gender shifted again.

“It’s mine,” I managed to stammer.

“Did you drop it?”

“Kind of. When you—”

“Oh my goodness. Did I make you drop it? I’m so sorry.”

Before I could say a word, Ari had dragged me to the nearest counter, ordered more coffee, and charmed the barista into cleaning up the spill. Then he linked our arms and guided me away.

About the author

CHERYL HEADFORD was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.

Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.

Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re-enactment group who traveled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.

It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.

In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.headford
Twitter: @SevenPointStar

Thursday, 4 June 2015

TOMORROW - The grand Cover Reveal of ARI featuring Ari and Benji - Opposite Ends of the Gender Spectrum



I've always liked to write challenging and have never shied from controversy or from touching on subjects I'm not familiar with. Research is part of the fun for me, and at the end of the day I write the stories I'm given by my characters, so if it all goes wrong it's their fault not mine.

But even so, can I, or anyone write about characters who are transgender and/or intersex? Do I have direct experience? Do I know what goes on in their heads? Can I render a reliable and realistic portrayal? I don't know. I guess you'll find out for yourself. Although I have to warn you that my characters are totally...erm...unique, and that reflects on their gender identity and he way they rationalise, understand and deal with it.

Well I've given it a go

ARI is to be released on 19th June with a grand unveiling of the stunning cover tomorrow. Here's the synopsis

Synopsis

After having known each other online for some time, writers, Benji and Ari meet at a convention.
Their attraction is both immediate and mutual.
But all is not straightforward—Ari is intersex and Benji transgender.
Together they embark on a journey.
A journey that unites families, and heals old wounds.
But not everyone is happy with the blossoming love between these two unique and special individuals.

Will an act of aggression crush the flower before it can bloom?


Ari began as a short story for a Wayward Ink Publishing anthology Stranded

I wanted to get away from the more popular interpretations of the title and look at someone who was not stranded in a place, but rather in something far more personal. I was thinking about it a lot, when an annoying but adorable little imp called Ari started talking to me at the UK Meet of LGBT writers in Bristol last July.

I started writing the story at the Meet and the entirity of the short story - which extends to the point where Benji makes his discovery about Ari - and parts of the extended novel (principally Benji's journey home) are based on my own experiences. (except, of course the parts that obviously aren't). Yes, our hamster died the night before, yes we overslept and were woken by the dog howling at a thunderstorm, and yes the guard did sing Oklahoma up and down the train on my way to Cardiff. There were many more personal experiences dotted through the first part of the book relating to that Meet. I will never forget my time there.

Back to the point. Ari and Benji begin the story stranded between genders. Benji is transgender...although he's not entirely sure about that, until Ari puts him right. All the way over on the other side of the spectrum, Ari is intersex, with no definitive genetalia making him (his chosen pronoun most of the time) effectively neither male nor female. In an uniquely Ari way, he deals with this by not confining himself to a single gender, but allowing himself to be male when he feels like a male, and female when he feels like a female. That suits him fine. Shame the rest of the world don't understand or agree.

Benji is fairly insecure as to his gender identity while Ari has no doubts at all about either and no time for labels in any event.

Back to another point. I am not intersex, and I am not overtly transgender. However, I identify strongly with Benji with regard to his internal processes. Although I have had two good marriages, with two good men, I have always felt something was 'off'.

I remember when I was 8 years old and started menstruating, lying on my bed and sobbing my heart out - because I couldn't be a boy anymore. Oh if only I'd known at the time that I could have. Now, after fifty years of living as a woman, and finding my own fairly gender neutral identity, which has recently begun to accommodate a worrying amount of pink, I can honestly say I don't give a flying fuck what labels I or other put on myself and that the labels can change and be as fluid as I am.

My internal dialogue is entirely male and in my head I refer to myself as 'he' and, I now realize I always have. Externally I present as female. - kind of, although my dress style is mostly fairly gender neutral - and that's okay, although I still surprise myself sometimes with a strong desire for pretty dresses and lovely shoes.

In either gender I am pansexual and have enjoyed relationships with both sexes, although by far my longest relationships have been with men. That might have been very different if I had understood myself better when I was younger. However, I had never heard the word transgender, or known what it means, and as shocking as it may seem, I have only really understood what it means to be trans fairly recently. As I said if that understanding had come sooner my life could have been very different - but I may well not have had the beautiful children I'm blessed with, so there are no regrets about anything in my life. (except perhaps that the sex would have been sooo much better if I had embraced my true self and his needs)

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, can I write intersex and transgender characters? Hmm. I think anyone CAN write anything they want. I'm perfectly capable of writing any kind of character or situation whether I have any experience or understanding at all. The questions are - can I write a BELIEVABLE character, and more than that 'should' I do it without a more in depth understanding of their issues, and the issues of the wider community.

Well, I have never shied from controversy, so that deals with the 'should', and as far as believability (is that a word? If not Ari probably made it up, he does that) is concerned, you'll have to make up your own minds, although as far as I'm concerned they can't be anything other than believable because they actually exist.

If you're interested in seeing a bit more of Ari and Benji, stay tuned because tomorrow is the grand cover reveal, and I think it's awesome. I'll treat you to an excerpt from the book, provide some pre order links and open the floor for question time. I am intending to do an interview with Benji and Ari before the release on 19th June and would love to receive questions from the floor, so to speak