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2017-04-13 09:22 pm
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How exciting is this – The Porthkennack series has arrived!

Introducing Porthkennack, A New Shared World Series!
Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur’s Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.
This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.
Each novel in this series is just $4.99 in ebook!
The First Two Porthkennack Books are out April 17!

South London mechanic Devan Thompson has gone to Porthkennack to track down someone he’s been waiting all his life to know. But Dev’s distracted from his quest by Kyle, a broodingly handsome local of only a few months, who’s already got a reputation as an alcoholic because of his strange behaviour—including a habit of collapsing in the street.

Kyle Anthony fled to Porthkennack to escape from the ruins of his life. Still raging against his diagnosis of narcolepsy—a condition that’s cost him his job as a barrister, his lover, and all chance of normality—the last thing he wants is another relationship that’s doomed to fail. But Dev’s easy-going acceptance and adaptability, not to mention his good looks, have Kyle breaking all his self-imposed rules.

When disaster strikes Dev’s adored little sister, Kyle steps up to the plate, and Dev sees a side of his lover he wasn’t prepared for: competent, professional—and way out of Dev’s league. With one man determined that they don’t have a future, and the other fearing it, life after Porthkennack is starting to look bleak for both of them.

When grief-stricken scientist Sir Edward Fitzwilliam provokes public scorn by defending a sham spiritualist, he’s forced to retreat to Porthkennack to lick his wounds. Ward’s reputation is in tatters, but he’s determined to continue the work he began after the death of his beloved brother.

In Porthkennack, Ward meets Nicholas Hearn, land steward to the Roscarrock family. Ward becomes convinced that Nick, whose Romany mother was reportedly clairvoyant, is the perfect man to assist with his work. But Nick—who has reason to distrust the whims of wealthy men—is loath to agree. Until Fate steps in to lend a hand.

Despite Nick’s misgivings, he discovers that Ward is not the high-handed aristocrat he first thought. And when passion ignites between them, Nick learns there’s much more to love than the rushed, clandestine encounters he’s used to. Nevertheless, Nick’s sure that wealthy, educated Ward will never see him as an equal.

A storm is gathering, but with Nick’s self-doubts and Ward’s growing obsession, the fragile bond between the two men may not be strong enough to withstand it.

Upcoming Porthkennack Books

Morgan Capell’s life is falling apart by small degrees—his father’s dead, his boyfriend dumped him, and his mother’s in the grip of dementia. His state of mind isn’t helped by his all-too-real recurring nightmare of the wreck of the Troilus, a two-hundred-year-old ship he’s been dreaming about since his teenage years.

The story of the Troilus is interwoven with the Capell family history. When amateur historian Dominic Watson inveigles himself into seeing the ship’s timbers which make up part of Morgan’s home, they form a tentative but prickly friendship that keeps threatening to spark into something more romantic.

Unexpectedly, Dominic discovers that one of the Troilus’s midshipman was rescued but subsequently might have been murdered, and persuades Morgan to help him establish the truth. But the more they dig, the more vivid Morgan’s nightmares become, until he’s convinced he’s showing the first signs of dementia. It takes as much patience as Dominic possesses—and a fortuitous discovery in a loft—to bring light out of the darkness.

June 5
Calum Hardy’s life has unravelled. Reeling from the betrayal of a man he once loved, he boards a train heading south, with no real idea where he’s going except a world away from London.
Brix Lusmoore can hardly believe his eyes when he spots one of his oldest friends outside Truro station. He hasn’t seen Calum since he fled the capital himself four years ago, harbouring a life-changing secret. But despite the years of silence, their old bond remains, warm and true—and layered with simmering heat they’ve never forgotten.
Calum takes refuge with Brix and a job at his Porthkennack tattoo shop. Bit by bit, he rebuilds his life, but both men carry the ghosts of the past, and it will take more than a rekindled friendship and the magic of the Cornish coast to chase them away.
July 17

After a massive anxiety attack, Sam Atkins left his high-powered job in the City and committed himself to life on the road in a small van. Six months in, he’s running out of savings and coming to the conclusion that he might have to go home to his emotionally abusive family.

Needing time to think, he takes a walk through a copse by the Cornish roadside, only to stumble upon the body of a ritualistically killed sheep. As he’s trying to work out what the symbols around the animal mean, the sheep’s owner, Jennifer, and her nephew, Ruan Gwynn, come upon him.

Ruan is a kind-hearted young man with a large supportive clan, and since he and Sam feel almost instant attraction, he doesn’t want to believe Sam is a sheep-killing cultist. In fact, the moment he lays eyes on Sam’s miserable solitary life, he wants to rescue the man. But as the killings escalate, he and Sam need to stop whoever is actually to blame before they can concentrate on saving each other.

September 4

 

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2017-04-02 03:37 pm
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How I would improve Dracula

I’m not even going to pretend that Sons of Devils wasn’t directly inspired by Dracula. Why would I? Have you read Dracula? Even though it’s now a little outdated, it’s a genuinely enjoyable book, and at least half of it is brilliant.

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Bram Stoker is a master of gothic atmosphere, and the part of the book set in Transylvania is to my mind breathlessly gripping and fascinating. When I first read the book, the predator/prey dynamic between Dracula and Jonathan Harker was erotic, and the Romanian setting was unfamiliar and interesting and capital R romantic. I wanted more.

But then the action shifts to England, thus – for me – losing the unfamiliarity and Romance. And with Jonathan Harker presumably dead any kind of erotic charge now fades for anyone who doesn’t like heterosexual pairings… And pretty much my interest in the novel falls off and is gone. No. I wanted to find out what happened to Jonathan. I wanted him to escape and travel through more of that fascinating setting, having interesting encounters and close scrapes until he either defeated Dracula or joined him.

It took me many years of chasing after other vampire novels and wondering why they didn’t deliver the same thrill to realize that it wasn’t the vampire part of Dracula that I was enjoying at all. Half of it was the intense relationship between two men, and half of it was the scenery. Without the setting, none of these other stories were as good. So it didn’t come as any surprise to me that when I began research into Wallachia I absolutely fell in love with the country. What a place! What a beautiful place.

But it did surprise me that it was a very different place than the Transylvania of Stoker’s story. I expected a bleakness in which not much had happened but trees growing and wolves howling, and in fact I discovered a country with roots that were splendid even before the Romans got there. A diverse country full of Dacians and Saxons and Romani, with ancient links to the Ottoman Empire. With lyrical and oddly affectionate folk stories – much softer and more humane than the Brothers’ Grimm stories – and nobles with iron hearts. Such a place! How come more people hadn’t used it as a setting already? I had to put that right.

As far as the intense relationship between two men went, I realized as I got older that a lot of the erotic charge of the vampire came from the Victorian sense that sexuality was something bad and wrong, whose lure was therefore evil – it was a sin whose wages were death. When I realized that, the charm wore off. I don’t want to be suggesting that two guys falling in love with each other was bad or wrong in any way. I don’t want to be perpetuating that whole bodice ripper thing whereby the innocent protagonist has to be forced to have the sex they secretly really want but can’t allow themselves to consent to. Rape culture. Blergh!

That’s not for me. My characters like to take responsibility for their own sexuality, thanks. So my gentlemen’s love for one another is a force of strength for them both, and my vampires are, as they originally were, monsters.

Basically, Sons of Devils is my version of what Dracula should have been, if only it had been written to suit me. I hope it will suit you too!

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Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2017-03-27 08:49 am
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Angels of Istanbul is out today!

Huzzah! This is part two of the story that began in Sons of Devils, but with a change of location and an upping of the stakes (heh) I like to think it feels like its own entity. If last book was a love letter to Romania, this one is a sonnet to Istanbul, although I apologize for the vampire apocalypse while I was doing it.

angelsofistanbul_200x300Wallachian nobleman Radu is recently arrived in Bucharest with his vampire parents. Welcomed as an eligible bachelor, he’s introduced to the enchantress Ecaterina, whose salon is Bucharest’s centre of magical expertise. 

But when Ecaterina’s brother dies of a mysterious new plague, it’s clear to Radu that his parents have not been idle. Soon Bucharest is in the grip of an undead epidemic—a less than ideal time for Ottoman Sultan Mahmud, Wallachia’s overlord, to call Bucharest’s nobility to assemble their armies in Istanbul for a holy war against Britain.

The Wallachians have long resented their Ottoman overlords, so Radu seizes the chance to eliminate them while also ridding Bucharest of the undead: he leads an army of vampires to Istanbul and sets them to feed on the Turks.

As Radu’s demons gut the city of Istanbul, their plans become horribly clear. This is only the start. With the Ottoman armies under their control, the undead are poised to suck the life out of the whole world. Radu, his lover Frank, and Ecaterina are appalled at what they’ve unleashed. But they may be too late to stop it.

~

If you know that you like my stuff, I recommend that you buy both volumes in the package deal, because although the story pauses at the end of Sons of Devils, it doesn’t properly conclude until the end of this one. If you aren’t sure you’d like it, I’ll put up an excerpt on the Freebies page by the end of today so you can try the first three chapters before you buy.

Also, let me know if you’d like more! I have four further volumes mapped out in plan form, if anyone wants to read them 🙂 And in the mean time join me on the tour for a chance to win a backlist book and a $10 Riptide voucher:

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Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2017-03-13 12:05 pm
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Sons of Devils is Out today!

Those of you who’ve known me a while will have seen me blog about this book and Angels of Istanbul, its sequel, for years. I know there are folks out there who want to see epic historical fantasy where the protagonists are queer, but the story is not about the queerness – the story is about the protagonists having badass adventures and saving the world.

There are folks who are tired of queerness being considered a talking point or an obstacle to get over, and who just want novels where queer characters’ sexuality is treated the same way straight characters’ sexuality is treated. Namely, it’s an important part of their character, but it’s not going to get in the way of the adventure.

That’s what this is.

Yes, there’s a love story. Yes, it influences the plot. But you could say the same thing of Star Wars without deciding that Star Wars was therefore a romance.

What this actually is, is my homage to Dracula, where I kept everything I liked about Dracula (Romania, the UST between Dracula and Jonathan Harker) and turned it up to eleven. Then I dropped everything I didn’t like (rainy Victorian Britain, het romance) and added the Ottoman Empire. Everything’s better with the Ottoman Empire.

Anyway. To all those people who said they wanted to see queer literature that was (a) not about coming out or dying, (b) not limited to romance, here it is. I hope you like it!

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British scholar Frank Carew is in Wallachia to study the magic generator on nobleman Radu Vacarescu’s land. There, his party is attacked by bandits and his friends are killed. Pursued by a vampiric figure, he flees to Radu’s castle for help.

Unfortunately, this is precisely where the vampires came from. If allowed, they would feed unchecked and spread their undeath across the whole Earth, but Radu maintains a shaky control over them and keeps them penned in his tiny corner of the country.

As Frank recovers from his assault, Radu finds himself falling for the young man. But loving Frank and not wanting to lose him leaves Radu vulnerable to his demons’ demands. Can he bear to let them feed on the man he loves? Or must he give in to their blackmail and set them free to feast on his entire country?

You can get it here

Or join me on the virtual tour to hear more:

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Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2017-03-01 11:02 am
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RIP Samhain, Long Live the Samhain Backlist

This morning, Samhain’s website has gone dark, only redirecting to a farewell page. It’s the end of an era but not the end of the world. Having had notice, and feeling too fuzzy-headed to write, but capable of doing a bit of light administrative work, I spent the last two weeks reformatting the five books of my Samhain backlist and making new cover art, so that I could make them available on Amazon and Kobo immediately, and in paperback asap.

The paperbacks are also formatted and uploaded, but I’m waiting for Createspace to deliver proof copies to me so I can check they’re okay before I finally press the ‘publish’ button.

One bonus of this crash course in formatting for paperback is that Lioness of Cygnus Five should also be made available in print at the same time. The proofs are in the post, so it shouldn’t be long.

Unfortunately I haven’t yet had a rights reversion letter from Samhain, so I can’t put the ebooks up today after all. But they’re working through the authors alphabetically and I’m a B, so I hope it’ll be in the next fortnight or so.

In the mean time, I really need to re-do my website with the new covers!

Speaking of new covers, here they are:

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Plus, I liked the cover for The Reluctant Berserker so much that I’m keeping it, so that one still looks like this:

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Watch this space for when I can make them available again. As I say, I hope it will be soon.

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2017-02-13 08:50 am

How to make simple but effective cover art

With Samhain closing its doors, hundreds of authors are now wondering what to do with their backlists. I’ve been busily making mock-ups for new cover art for my own books, and I thought this might be a good time to repost this “Absolute basics of making your own cover art” post. Learning how to use a photoshop-type program like Gimp takes a long time and a lot of effort, so if you’re reasonably well off but short on time, I think your best option is probably to buy your Samhain covers, or pay a professional to make new ones. If you’re short on money but long on time, however, this might be the point to teach yourself how to make book covers.

First of all, go to http://www.gimp.org/ and download The GIMP. (This stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program” and has nothing to do with leatherwear unless you want it to.) The Gimp is almost as powerful as Photoshop, more than capable of allowing you to make highly professional book covers, yet totally free.

It’s also offputtingly complicated and has no user manual, but who cares about that, right? 🙂

So, today let’s make a cover for a book which you are going to upload to Smashwords. Smashwords likes its book covers to be 2400 pixels tall by 1600 pixels wide. If you want to make a cover for Amazon, you’ll need to check what dimensions they recommend and use those instead.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2017-02-10 10:50 am

Samhain Publishing to close on the 28th

So, in an email that went out to Samhain authors this morning we were asked to keep this confidential, but as it’s already out in the public here on The Digital Reader I think that part of it is moot.

Samhain has just announced that they will in fact finally be closing on 28th of February (ie in 18 days time.)

UTHBomberMoon200x133 UnderTheHill-Dogfighters200x133 TooManyFairyPrinces200x133 ShiningintheSun200x133 ReluctantBerserker200x133

If you’re a Samhain reader who’s been storing their books in Samhain’s cloud, this would be the time to download them to your own hard storage so that you don’t lose them the way readers lost books they bought with All Romance Ebooks.

Authors are getting their rights back once the closure has happened, and I intend to reformat my books and self-publish them as soon as I can. But as you know, I’m still recovering from an operation and I have a deadline for a new manuscript which I intend to turn in first, so it may be some time before I can get around to re-launching my backlist in print.

(Ebooks may be faster, depending on availability of cover art. I’m looking into buying some of my covers back from them. All the haggling with the artist that went on to make the cover of The Reluctant Berserker as authentic as possible was in my view 100% worth it, and if I can possibly keep that one I will. It’s gorgeous. But otherwise, making new cover art is quite fun, though laborious.)

If there’s a book of mine you haven’t already bought, but were idly thinking of getting on some future day when you felt like it, let me know and I’ll prioritize my re-release list to get to those ones first. But if I can beg a favour, I would ask you to hold on a little longer and get them from me, rather than buying them from Samhain now. On a callously monetary basis, I will recieve much more of the royalties if you buy from me than if you buy from them – and you will probably get the book cheaper too.

My royalties from Samhain halved during this last year, so I am quite pleased at the prospect of having my rights back from them, but I’m still sad about this. They were an excellent publisher while it lasted – which is why they have so much of my backlist. There was a time when, in my view, they were the best m/m publisher out there. The genre will be poorer without them.

It does seem to me that the m/m publishing boom has finally burst. This may yet have its good side, in that the people who leaped on the bandwagon because m/m seemed like the place to get easy sales will find somewhere else to go, and we’ll be left with the people for whom it actually has meaning. I think that’s been quietly self-selecting inside the genre for a long time anyway.

tl/dr

Download your Samhain books to your own storage now. They’ll be gone on the 28th.

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)
2017-02-03 03:01 pm

Foxglove Copse now available for pre-order

Well, provisionally, following my surgery I am more or less happy to declare that I am not dead yet 🙂

I’ve also come out of the hospital to news that the Porthkennack series is now available for pre-order.

A complete change of pace from the historical-fantasy of the Arising books, the Porthkennack series is a shared universe series, where several authors write stories based in the same location. In this case, the location is a small seaside town in Cornwall, and the ‘several authors’ are me, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Each book is a standalone, but locations and some characters may be shared between them. (You’ll find Garrett’s Brix from Blood Rush has a walk on part in my Foxglove Copse, for example.)

The series is planned to contain mostly contemporary novels, but with a few historicals thrown in for background. I’ll be writing one of the historicals for the second wave, but my first novel in the series is the contemporary Foxglove Copse in which eco-traveler Sam Atkins and local boy Ruan Gwynn investigate what looks like a nasty bit of cultic activity on Ruan’s aunt’s farm.

foxglovecopse_teaser

Blurb:

After a massive anxiety attack, Sam Atkins left his high-powered job in the City and committed himself to life on the road in a small van. Six months in, he’s running out of savings and coming to the conclusion that he might have to go home to his emotionally abusive family.

Needing time to think, he takes a walk through a copse by the Cornish roadside, only to stumble upon the body of a ritualistically killed sheep. As he’s trying to work out what the symbols around the animal mean, the sheep’s owner, Jennifer, and her nephew, Ruan Gwynn, come upon him.

Ruan is a kind-hearted young man with a large supportive clan, and since he and Sam feel almost instant attraction, he doesn’t want to believe Sam is a sheep-killing cultist. In fact, the moment he lays eyes on Sam’s miserable solitary life, he wants to rescue the man. But as the killings escalate, he and Sam need to stop whoever is actually to blame before they can concentrate on saving each other.

Foxglove Copse available here for preorder

And if you would like to read the rest of the Porthkennack books, you can find them here on the collection page.

Meanwhile, I hope to soon be fit enough to start writing again on my second novel for the series, which is the first Age of Sail novel I’ve done for a good long time, and is currently five chapters long out of a planned thirty.

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)
2017-01-07 03:38 pm

Captain’s Surrender Paperback

The proof arrived this morning and was a joy to behold, so I have okayed it, and you should now be able to buy a paperback of the new edition.

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I don’t know how long it will take until it’s available on Amazon or other retailers, but it should be available right now on the Createspace website here. (From which I may say I get the maximum royalties 😉 )

Now that I know that worked, one of my projects for the new year will be to do a paperback version of Lioness of Cygnus 5. (The last time I tried, I got a doorstop of a book 600 odd pages long because it was doublespaced with extra spaces between paragraphs throughout. This time I will do it properly, reformatting everything and then cutting and pasting each chapter individually into the template.

It is, I have to say, worth it. The new version of Captain’s Surrender is a very good looking book, with a nice large text size that makes it easy to read even without your glasses. Very professional! I am pleased.

On other news, I have finally started work on Contraband Hearts – the second of my Porthkennack books. This is going to be an Age of Sail book from me! A new one, after all hope was lost. It’s not going to be a naval one, though – this one is smuggler versus Customs officer, with some wrecking, some mining and some pilchard fishing just for local colour.

Subject to my health, the plan for this year is:

  • Blog posts for the Arising series release tour
  • Write Contraband Hearts and get it to Riptide before August.
  • Edit Foxglove Copse
  • Release Lioness of Cygnus Five in paperback.
  • Edit Heart of Cygnus Five and release in ebook and paperback
  • Edit Waters of the Deep (sequel to The Wages of Sin) and release in ebook format
  • Edit Pride of Cygnus Five and release in ebook and paperback
  • Write something else – possibly a Trowchester murder mystery book. Or – if I don’t have time after everything else – the third Jasper and Charles story, so I can bundle Wages of Sin, Waters of the deep and Torments of the Damned into an anthology of Unquiet Spirits novellas.

Ideally I would like to get back to the point where I have a ratio of one book in need of editing to one book in first draft stage. My concentration on producing new stuff in 2016 has left me with a serious second draft/editing backlog.

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2017-01-01 06:13 pm
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Interesting times

Well, what an interesting year 2016 was, (in the sense of ‘may you live in interesting times.) My father died in February. We had always had a rocky relationship, and making sure he was cared for in his final two years, when he was suffering from dementia, was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. 2014-2015 brought the rest of my dysfunctional family back into my life in a big way too, putting me in their spotlight in a way I hadn’t had to endure before. I soon discovered I was not going to make it without help, and I put myself into therapy to try to make myself into the sort of person who could cope with this.

It was a year’s course of therapy, and how I wish I’d done it earlier! I learned that I had the right to say ‘no’ to my sisters. This did result in one of them deciding never to speak to me again – but after the months of weeping and raging over the rejection had settled, I discovered that I didn’t actually want to talk to her much either. So I am actually quite proud of her for making a move that did us both good, in the long term. Our family had always caused us pain – let it end, then.

And I’m sad to say that when my Dad died this year, that also came as a relief. I debated not saying this, because it’s not the sort of thing you’re allowed to say about your family. But then I remembered that this was also the year in which I promised myself I would stop being silent, and I decided I would say it after all.

I loved him – all my life I wanted his approval and raged because it seemed to me that although he loved me, he profoundly wanted me to be someone else (and therefore he didn’t love me at all.) Although the last two years almost killed me – literally, the stress symptoms were wild – I’m thankful that we had them, so that (maybe) he could see that my refusal to take money from him was because I didn’t need to be paid to love him, and so that I could see that his insistence on trying to give me money was because it was the only way he knew of to express love.

(We fought a lot about money. Dad used it as a way to gain power over people, and to accept it was to accept a position of subserviance. Everyone could be bought, but he didn’t think there was anything wrong in that – it was just the way his world worked. He honestly couldn’t conceive of anyone doing anything for any motive other than money. My writing was a mystery to him, when I could have earned much more in almost any other job.)

I also had the chance to finally get to know him as one adult to another. It amazed me to see in him the self same anxiety and depression I had been suffering all my life, and that my daughter now shares. It was an eye opener to realize that he too was maybe not entirely responsible for the workings of his own brain – that the desperate thing that whines and batters itself against the closed windows of the inside of my head was in him too. I wish he’d been able to have therapy too, before it was too late. It would have helped him. But he would have laughed for scorn at the very idea. I never told him about my own.

I never told him about his trans grandson. He would have ridiculed us both if I had, and so he never saw his grandson as he truly was… and now I’m just making myself sad.

In February my father died, and after the funeral I went through six months of feeling liberated; I felt wary – waiting for the other shoe to drop – and guilty for not feeling any real grief. (By contrast, when my mum died I felt like the world had ended and it was not to be rebuilt for two full years.)

I don’t know whether I’m a terrible person, or whether dad reaped what he sowed in raising us the way he did. But 2016 has been for me the first year ever when I have not been wrung like a dishrag with anxiety about my family of birth. I have felt hopeful and balanced and strong as a person for the first time ever. I even looked forward to Christmas with no fear that I would get everything wrong and be disowned. It was very odd.

But the world is not like a story, and every time you think you’ve got to a satisfying conclusion something new comes along to throw you back into a state of human turmoil. 2016 was also the year when I found a lump in my abdomen, which has grown rapidly to the point where I now look 6 months pregnant. On 1st February 2017 I will go in for a hysterectomy, at which point we will find out what it is. Is it a huge fibroid? Is it something more sinister? We just don’t know.

And then of course there is the state of the world. I doubt that 2017 is going to be better than 2016, with Trump as president, and Brexit on the way. The future is full of dread.

But even as I say that, I remember that my major lesson in 2016 was that nothing quite turns out the way you expect. The Lord has given me strength to get through two years where I wanted to die. He brought me through without being broken, and enabled me to treat my father as well as I could and make the end of his life as bearable as I could, even though I was terrified of him.

I guess I’ve learned not to look too far ahead. The future may be full of dread, but the present is full of warm electric light and the sparkle of the holographic stars with which I’ve decorated my walls. Good came out of the evil that I endured in the past, and if there is evil to be endured in the future, I have God’s promise that he can bring good out of that too. In the mean time I am counting my blessings while I have them, because I’m beginning to see that the present moment is all I really have.

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2016-12-29 11:16 am

End of year sale

Just a quick post to say that along with lots of other brilliant bargains, Labyrinth, Blessed Isle and The Crimson Outlaw are available for 99c in Riptide’s end of year sale. Scoop ’em up for cheap while you can ;)*

*if you want them and don’t already have them, of course. I don’t want to make assumptions.

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Given that the Arising books are coming out soon, you might be interested in The Crimson Outlaw. While I was writing Sons of Devils (the first in the Arising series) I found myself wanting to fanfic myself by shipping Radu with Cesar. I’m not entirely sure how that turned into the story of young Vali and his adventures with Mihai the bandit, but the workings of inspiration are a mysterious thing. What can I say? I really liked the Romanian setting and wanted to use it more. It’s distinctly odd that this one came out so long before the book that inspired it, but they belong together, thematically.

The Crimson Outlaw also has the distinction of being a Romanian story entirely without vampires. I don’t know why, but that amuses me.

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2016-12-25 11:35 am
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The light shines in the darkness

and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)

A bible reading which I am finding reassuring in these times 🙂

I made a Christmas card thinking ‘ha, this is funny. It’s a marine but it looks like Santa, so it’s really appropriate for me:

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But then I thought ‘yet how festive are the redcoats, really, when your audience contains many people for whom they were the enemy? We’re talking about a wish for peace on Earth here!’

So I made another one which was a little less risky:

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Happy Christmas or other seasonal festival, or just general happiness for those who don’t celebrate anything at this time!

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2016-12-24 11:49 am
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Cover Art reveal for Angels of Istanbul

In a little while I’ll be able to put this on my own site, but for the moment you can only see it here:

Angels of Istanbul cover art on Night Owl Romance. Isn’t that lovely? I will admit that I head-canoned Frank as being played by Tom Hiddleston in his Wallander days, and the resemblance is definitely striking 🙂 I can’t wait to put up both covers, as they look extra nice next to each other.

There were other things I was going to say when I opened this blog post to write it, but I can’t now remember what they were. Other than to mention that in honour of Rogue One the next Age of Sail book is going to open with Perry writing a letter home to his mother (who is still alive) and feature a dashing smuggler character who (when he is on shore) lives with his mother (who is still alive.) As a mother myself, I’m tired of being thought of as inconvenient and dispensible for the hero’s journey.

My temporary title for the next Age of Sail book – which will be book two of the books I’ve been asked to write for the Porthkennack series – is Contraband Hearts. Which clues you in to the smuggling theme, but is possibly a little cheesy. It may not be coming out under that title. Watch this space 😉

later…

….Oh, that was it! I also wanted to let everyone know that Captain’s Surrender and Lioness of Cygnus Five, plus all my other self-pubbed books were now available on Nook and Kobo for those who don’t like Amazon. I’m also going to put them on Smashwords when I’m not befuddled with Christmas, and print will be available as soon as I get through the proofing stage.

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2016-12-21 06:22 pm
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Lovely review of Lioness from Romance Novels For Feminists

I was really delighted to see this turn up in my Twitter feed, completely unexpectedly. It’s great to get any reviews, obviously, but it’s even better to get positive reviews of books you didn’t expect to be reviewed, from reviewers whose platform and take on things you admire. Thank you Jackie!

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“Beecroft has penned an adventure-filled utopian science fiction romance, an opposites-attract love story that also interrogates issues of gender and bodies, all with intelligence and a healthy dollop of humor. While Lioness of Cygnus Five will never be mistaken for hard SF, it does gift its readers with an engaging balance of extrapolative thought-experiment and unexpected romance.” 

– Romance Novels for Feminists

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2016-12-18 12:35 pm
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Captain’s Surrender now back on sale (partially)

Having said I would make this available again on the 18th, that is what I’ve done 🙂 However, some self-publishing platforms are more efficient than others, and although I finished uploading the book to Amazon, Kobo and Nook yesterday morning, only Amazon has yet finished processing it.

I can therefore at least offer you the Amazon link for your Kindle.

While I was putting Captain’s Surrender up on the other platforms, I also put up all my other self-published books, and Nook seems to have accepted all of them without a problem except for Captain’s Surrender. I presume this is because CS is a third edition and therefore more complicated. I’ll continue wrestling with Nook and Kobo over Christmas and we’ll get there eventually. In the mean time it’s been good to finally get the chance to put my entire self-pubbed catalogue onto other platforms.

I can officially attest that Nook’s self-pub interface is really quite hard to deal with, but Kobo’s is very friendly and easy. (Though neither of them has yet managed to work in the case of CS. In fairness to Kobo, I did Nook on Friday and Kobo only yesterday, so I may be expecting a little too much in Kobo’s case.)

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2016-12-16 09:20 pm
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Sons of Devils cover art revealed!

Woohoo! It’s all becoming real at last. After an exceptionally long gestation period, the book that was The Glass Floor is showing its face in its true form as Sons of Devils. Allow me to direct you to the exclusive cover art reveal on Night Owl Romance:

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The cover artist is Simoné,

who also did the fantastic covers for The Crimson Outlaw and Labyrinth. I am particularly blessed 🙂

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Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2016-12-15 01:10 pm
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Captain’s Surrender, third edition

Well, I have re-read Captain’s Surrender and made a (very) few changes. I’m ready to launch it on KDP, but not quite there in print.

I feel like I need to apologise to those people who really didn’t like Peter Kenyon, but I have not changed him. He is just as unreflective, entitled and arrogant as he always was. I know from experience that you can live for many years not even thinking about an aspect of your own personality that – when you’re finally confronted with it – throws you into existential crisis, breaks you and forces you to entirely remake your world-view. That’s happened to me two or three times in my life, with long periods of complacency in between.

After a long period of being almost willfully oblivious, Peter changes rapidly, dramatically and with excessive force, but I think that’s realistic for some people, because that’s how I did it too.

The only thing I have changed, therefore, is the description of the church, which I ignorantly assumed would be made of stone. I don’t remember who it was who emailed me to say that the stone church I was writing about wouldn’t be built for another hundred years, but thank you!

Putting the manuscript up on KDP is as easy as clicking an ‘upload file here’ button and selecting your Word document. But putting it up on Createspace, so there will be an option of having it in paperback, is significantly more difficult.

The way I finally got it to work was to download a template for the interior text from Createspace. You can choose the correct template for whichever trim size you want. Then I copy/pasted each chapter of the manuscript into the corresponding chapter on the template individually. That seemed to prevent the problem I’d been having with Lioness of Cygnus Five, whereby I could not get the line-spacing down from double no matter what.

I’m going to have to re-do Lioness now I think I’ve got this cracked.

I did the interior first, so I would know how many pages my book would have. Then I downloaded a full cover template. This will calculate the size of the spine for you, as long as you input the number of pages before you download it. (Which is why you need to know how many pages first.)

With the cover template, I could place my front cover artwork on the front and jiggle it so the text was all inside the lines. And I could make a back cover and spine that matched the front. Then all I had to do was click the ‘upload cover file’ button and ignore Createspace’s array of weird and not very nice cover art generators.

Because I’d used the templates, both files passed Createspace’s testing process first time. So now all I’ve got to do is to wait for my test copy to arrive. If that’s okay, I can give the thumbs up to make the paperbacks available to everyone else. I don’t know if that will be before Christmas or not – it depends on whether the test copy is up to snuff, and I haven’t received that yet.

As it turns out, I am going up to visit my in-laws on the 19th-21st, so releasing the new Kindle version of Captain’s Surrender on the 19th as planned is probably not on. I’ll do it on the 18th instead.

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Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2016-12-09 12:00 pm

Arising Series available for pre-order

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But Alex, what the heck is the Arising Series? How come you’ve never mentioned this before? Springing this on us as a bit of a surprise, aren’t you?

Well, hypothetical reader, you make a good point. However, I have talked before about The Glass Floor, my novel in which Wallachian noble Radu and his lover Frank invade the Ottoman empire at the head of an army of vampires, and behold, the Arising series is that very story.

It went like this: First of all, nobody thought The Glass Floor was a particularly inspiring title, so on the first editing pass it was decided that The Glass Floor would become Angels of Istanbul.

Second of all, my editor commented “Mirela doesn’t have much to do, does she? Can you expand her part a little?”

As I’d already been worried that Mirela turned up and was important at the beginning, became important again in the end, but basically did nothing at all in the middle, I could see the justice of this comment. So I wrote a couple more chapters for her – belatedly introducing an actual glass floor to a story that had previously only been using the idea as a metaphor.

But now the story had become humungous in size. It had already been teetering on the edge of what could be fitted into one book – in fact when I wrote it I’d been considering the idea of splitting it into three parts, and selling them as a three volume series. So when Anglerfish came back and said “This is just economically impossible to sell in one volume, let’s make it two,” I went “Of course!”

I don’t know if any of you remember the Under the Hill books, Bomber’s Moon and Dogfighters? This is a very similar situation. This is me writing a doorstopper Fantasy with queer protagonists, rather than writing a queer romance. And naturally I made it the length I expect from a proper Fantasy – long enough to get your teeth into.

So, Angels of Istanbul had to become two volumes rather than one, which meant another title and a series title. As the Istanbul part comes in the second volume, volume #2 got that title. Volume #1 is very much about Frank’s escape from his (metaphorically) monstrous father, into the arms of Radu, whose father is literally monstrous. So it became Sons of Devils.

And after that long explanation I can cycle back to the beginning and announce with more fanfare that this epic is now ready to be read and available to be pre-ordered. Anyone who liked the Under the Hill books will probably like this. Anyone who liked The Crimson Outlaw will probably like this too, because a lot of the research I did for Arising overspilled into the writing of The Crimson Outlaw.

Oh, do shut up Alex. Stop waffling and get to the point!

My internal voice is very rude to me. But it may be right:

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Sons of Devils: March 13th, 2017
Angels of Istanbul: March 27th, 2017

But available for pre-order now!

1742

Ten years ago, the island of Atlantis rose out of the sea, triggering mechanisms all over the world that made magic a genuine force once more. Now paranormal creatures are coming out of hiding and demanding their rights. In every country, scholars and scientists are scrambling to research and understand the occult so they can harness it safely. And all over the world, rulers and warlords are commissioning magical weapons they don’t understand and can’t control.

The Age of Enlightenment has become a race for dominance that human beings are no longer guaranteed to win. This is the perfect time for them to go to war with each other. Obviously.

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2016-11-28 03:20 pm
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Why the Ancient Minoans?

Early reactions to Labyrinth seem to confirm that it’s something of a marmite book – people have either loved or hated it. I can understand that. I remember when Ursula LeGuin went through her feminist awakening-goddess-y-‘lets talk about weaving instead of war’ phase, and I hated it, because I was still in my own ‘whoa, spears are cool!’ phase. Not that I’m claiming any kind of equivalence to Ursula LeGuin of course, apart from the slow awakening to the fact that even the way we tell stories – the things we think of as being story-worthy – has been shaped by patriarchy and sometimes we need to expand our minds to be able to find other things worthwhile too.

Anyway…

Why on earth, when faced with all human history, did I choose to write about the Ancient Minoans? Historical novelas, as you know, tend to cluster into similar eras of interest, leaving vast swathes of the past untouched. Popular eras are the Regency (balls, duchesses, carriages,) the Romans (slaves, gladiators, Imperial decadence), and the Egyptians (mysterious, supernatural, full of gold.)

What all these eras have in common is that they were literate, and we have access to reams of information about what life was like there. This is sadly not true of the Minoans, who have left (so far) very few written records, and as far as I know some of those are still untranslatable. Meaning that we actually know very little about what their life was like, and such things as we do know are down to looking at their artwork and making an educated guess as to what’s going on.

So I repeat, why would I want to write in that setting?

Firstly, I’d have to say “Doesn’t it look beautiful!” Look at the sun. And the colours! Look at the ruins of palaces, with those iconic blood-red pillars standing out against that indigo sky. Can’t you almost feel the warmth already?

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And now look at the artwork! Doesn’t this civilization seem a nice place to live? It does to me. If I imagine the sun-drenched shores and tamarisk-scented hills of Crete inhabited by these long-haired, long-limbed beautiful people in their colourful kilts and their ridiculous belled skirts, athletic people, bedecked with jewellery, gathering saffron among the flowers, of course I want to be there.

I find a lot of people are attracted by the glamour and the peril of times of war. They want to read about macho warriors doing manly things. But I’ve become a little bored by that, and I wanted to write about a civilization that didn’t seem to revolve around its warriors, or who it could kill.

Scholarly opinion is, as always, divided on what Minoan civilization was really like, but there seems to be a strong case for the Ancient Minoans being a civilization dominated by priestesses. Earlier archaeologists assumed from reading Greek literature that the Minoans were ruled by a king called Minos, but nowadays there’s a core of people who think they were ruled from a temple, by the priestesses, and ‘Minos’ was a religious title of some sort.

It’s all a bit vague and speculative, particularly as anything the Greeks said is being filtered through their own preconceptions. But I thought it would be interesting to explore a culture where being female is associated with power. What would it be like, being a man in that culture? Would it be easier for a genderqueer person, or harder, than a culture in which a person’s value was determined by how manly they were?

And what would that culture think when it came across a patriarchy like the Ancient Greeks? That culture clash fascinated me. If Minoan society was indeed peaceful and matriarchal, how on earth did it survive in a world full of societies that would have regarded it as abhorrent and against the natural order of things?

The answer for which drew me into a world of ecstatic goddess worship and drug-fuelled religious rites, a bit of hands-off research into the effects of opium smoke, and an enlightening crawl through the many early cults with ‘third sex’ eunuch/transgender or genderqueer priest/esses.

I was left with the realization that even the most peaceful places hold extraordinarily interesting stories, if you just look. I hope you enjoy mine!

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Labyrinth at Amazon.com

Labyrinth at Amazon.co.uk

Labyrinth at B&N

Labyrinth at Kobo

At All Romance Ebooks

At Riptide Publishing

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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2016-11-21 12:46 pm
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Labyrinth is out today!

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Click on the banner to be taken to the blog tour page.

Hurray! Today is the launch of my experimental novella Labyrinth, in which I look at the minotaur from the Minoan point of view; I cast the Homeric Greeks as a bunch of bullying bad guys; I attempt a possible reconstruction of the Minoan attitude toward third-gender people; I examine life in a female dominated society; I put a bunch of queer characters together in a found family, and I do all of this while I also attempt to prevent a war and tell a love story.

Am I successful in doing any of that? It’s up to you to judge 🙂

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Kikeru, the child of a priestess at the sacred temple of Knossos in ancient Crete, believes that the goddesses are laughing at him. They expect him to choose whether he is a man or a woman, when he’s both. They expect him to choose whether to be a husband to a wife, or a celibate priestess in the temple, when all he wants to do is invent things and be with the person he loves.

Unfortunately, that person is Rusa, the handsome ship owner who is most decidedly a man and therefore off-limits no matter what he chooses. And did he mention that the goddesses also expect him to avert war with the Greeks?

The Greeks have an army. Kikeru has his mother, Maja, who is pressuring him to give her grandchildren; Jadikira, Rusa’s pregnant daughter; and superstitious Rusa, who is terrified of what the goddesses will think of him being in love with one of their chosen ones.

It’s a tall order to save Crete from conquest, win his love, and keep both halves of himself. Luckily, at least the daemons are on his side.

Labyrinth at Amazon.com

Labyrinth at Amazon.co.uk

Labyrinth at B&N

Labyrinth at Kobo

At All Romance Ebooks

At Riptide Publishing

 

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.