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I have a book recommendation for you!

thiefofsongs-200x300

I read this recently when I was not very well, and it made me cry in several places. On a basic level, it’s the story of the clan composer of a conquered people whose music has been taken without his permission by the court composer of the conquerors. He comes to court to protest the theft and ends up falling in love with the thief (and slowly coming to terms with the dominant culture.)

Recently, thanks to many reviews of my own stuff that went “cut down with the flowery language for crying out loud!” I’ve been pruning my own language back as far as it will go and learning to rely a bit more on a surprising metaphor or two. So it took me a while to get back into the sheer gorgeousness of the language of this. But the gorgeousness is in place and apt for a story that deals with the intricacies of a court setting whose intricacy and studied beauty reminds me of Imperial Japan.

Once you get into the flow of it again, you find you’ve been slowed down enough to start appreciating all the questions of culture and colonialism the book takes on in the middle of a love story.

I’m not doing this justice! I’m trying to be all intellectual about it and I shouldn’t, because what I really loved about it was that it’s a story set in a culture of people with men, women, hermaphrodites and neuters, and although the love story is between a man (Amet) and a Third (Dancer) – a hermaphrodite – it’s a poly relationship, because the Third is already in a sexless relationship of intimacy and love with a Fourth (Always Falling) – a neuter. And throughout the book, the relationship with Always Falling is acknowledged as equally important to Dancer, if not more so, than the love story, and it’s clear that Always Falling is not going to be usurped, squashed out or forgotten. It’s clear that unless they are fully involved with the relationship, there will not be a happy ending.

The last time I read a book where I felt that there was a character who I could latch onto as being like me was The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin. And that was Therem Harth rem ir Estraven – a person who was fully gender neutral and sexless about 90% of the time. I feel very fortunate that I’ve now met Always Falling, and that they are written by an author who can handle language with as much beauty as LeGuin and who simply *gets* them – gets their integrity and importance as a human being in a way even LeGuin didn’t.

I’m so delighted to hear that the next book is the love story between Amet and Always Falling! I’ll be getting that one on the day it’s out.

Basically, this is not a well put together review. What I’m trying to say is that if you are agender and asexual, and you’re thirsty for representation, and you’ve never (or rarely) seen anything like yourself in any form of media, this book not only gives you representation but also does it in a work of great beauty. It could not be better!

(Though as a niggling little point, I don’t personally like ‘it’ as a pronoun. I’d have rather had ‘them’ or ‘ze’ or something. I find it hard to reclaim ‘it’ from non-personhood. But I’m not going to quibble about that when everything else is so damn good :) )


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

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Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 12.09.09 PM

“Epic in its scope and intensity, this is a book full of very human emotions and deeply heartfelt journeys….”

How about that! :) Thank you RT!

However I do feel moved to mention that although they call it HOT here, I’m fairly sure it’s nothing of the sort. Epic scope and intensity, yes, heaps of steamy sex… not really. Regular readers will know me by now, but I don’t want any new people to expect scorching and then be disappointed.

 


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

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ReluctantBerserker-The300

Thanks ever so much to Kazza at On Top Down Under for a fantastic review of The Reluctant Berserker, and for choosing it as one of the site’s books of the month :)

It’s a lovely detailed review that does delve into a lot of the plot – so Spoiler Alert. But it was great to see that Kazza enjoyed some of the thinking about religion and spirituality in the book. I’ve had a few reviews where the overt Christianity of some of the characters was a problem for the readers, and I’ve been thinking that I should probably do a blog post to say why I chose to go that way.

(Short answer – because most of the written evidence of Saxon society shows a markedly religious/spiritual world view, and I was attempting to be true to that.

I probably also ought to say that what the Saxons called wicce craft is not what we would call wicca today. I studied Anglo-Saxon paganism for a year at university, and not a lot of evidence survives to tell us what it was really like. So in drawing Saewyn, I drew heavily on the Leechbook of Bald and Stephen Pollington’s book Leechcraft, Early English Charms, Plantlore and Healing, and various other sources…

But I’m getting distracted into writing that other post now, and I should really do it separately.)

For now I was talking about this book review, which sums up:

All characters were given time to develop, secondary characters included.  Overall, the writing is glorious – lyrical, intelligent without being arrogant, thought-provoking, nuanced perfectly for the setting with licence taken where it should be in fiction. It sets a realistic tone for the period and the characters, and stands up to any literary fiction written in any genre by any author. I loved Wulfstan and Leofgar, both independently and as a couple. 

And which I feel I could not possibly be happier about. Thank you Kazza!

The-Reluctant-Berserker-Quote-4


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

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I think of this review. It was initially published quite a while back on Goodreads, when I was a new author and wet behind the ears. Now the reviewer has put it on his own, excellent, review site, and I feel more justified in sharing it. This review and the conversation I had about it on Goodreads with Richard is probably the most treasured piece of feedback I’ve ever had, because it was proof that my writing had at least once done what I hoped it would do – help someone.

http://expendablemudge.blogspot.co.uk/p/glbtqall-genres.html

 


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

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Edited quickly because this felt like something to share with my friends-list. HaikuJaguar on publicity and artistic insecurity:

http://threejaguarscomic.net/

~*~*~*~

Here is a lovely review of Captain’s Surrender http://julian-griffith.livejournal.com/27644.html which makes me smile not only with the joy appropriate to a good review but with the additional joy appropriate to a review that really seems to get what you were trying to do.

I’m also hugely pleased and honoured to have The Wages of Sin reviewed in Wilde Oats http://www.wildeoats.com/review_WagesOfSin.html which is a lovely magazine to which I keep meaning to submit a story or two, but never seem to write anything short enough.

Thanks so much to both of you!

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And on a completely different note, I was very happy to find both asexuals and the gender fluid on this list, but while the factoid about Captain Jack Harkness makes so much sense, I suspect they might be wrong on the osmosis front. At least, it’s never worked like that for me.

In fact, seriously, go to the tumblr for more Facts about Queers. I never knew the reason why I had such difficulty with computers was because I was non-binary, but that makes so much sense too :)

~*~*~*~

I have a few ideas for some longer blog posts, hurray! But now it’s just a matter of sitting down and writing them. And as one of them is about the fact that I have converted my computer desk to a standing desk, this might be easier said than done ;)


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

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I’m afraid I had a bit of an evil chuckle over this one. I scared myself writing some of the scenes, so I’m glad to know it was all worthwhile :)

http://meanfatoldbat.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-wages-of-sin-by-alex-beecroft-mm.html

It took me three tries to read it. Not because it’s poorly written. Oh, no, it’s just as beautiful, poetic, and immediately engrossing as all her other works have been. I couldn’t go on because my teeth were chattering and the shadows in the corner of the bedroom were moving… it’s very atmospheric. Very. Atmospheric. The book.

Thank you! And I’m sorry!

On the self publishing side, I’ve put my two Loki stories, with a new, longer one, up on Smashwords. So if anyone likes my all-mythology-all-the-time cheerfully amoral trickster version, rather than Marvel’s clearly-up-to-no-good psycho version, you can find that here:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/291064

I like the freedom with self-publishing to write stuff that doesn’t comfortably fit into genre lines. I don’t think I’m going to concentrate on it, but it’s nice to have it there as another string to my bow.

(Violin bow, I presume, because I can’t think why you would want more than one archery bowstring at once, unless you had more than one bow to go with them.)


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

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Which struck me as a more interesting way of saying “several small things served up together.”

Evidently I’m not alone in being puzzled and even depressed by the fact that there seems to be no place in this world for m/m romance with sparse sex scenes other than being lumped in with “erotica”. Elin Gregory (she of the awesome On a Lee Shore which I highly recommend to you if you like naval m/m) is sounding out readers and authors alike on the question of whether she should start new Facebook and Goodreads groups focusing on the sweet end of m/m romance. If you think that sounds like a good idea (I do!) hie thee over to her place and tell her so: Elin’s LJ

~

A lovely review for Under the Hill: Dogfighters from RT this month

Dogfighters RT

Though I can’t get used to the way people treat them as separate books. I should expect that – the fact that you can hold one in each hand should be a clue – but to me it’s always going to be one big story packaged in two volumes.

It’s probably worth while saying that I have learned from this experience not to write such huge books. Or – if I’m going to write such huge books – to do it in such a way that the pacing is suitable for two books rather than for one. (Dogfighters is the breathless acceleration to the climax of both books, and is not structured to be read as its own entity.)

I’d like to say I’ve learned that, but then I went off and wrote The Glass Floor, which is equally huge and equally structured as one big story rather than two episodes. We’ll have to see what becomes of that before I decide emphatically what lesson I ought to have learned and actually try to put it into practice.

~

Two days ago, someone awarded this blog a “Most Inspiring Blog” award, and I thought “oh, how lovely, I’ll talk about that tomorrow.” But then I didn’t talk about it yesterday because I was distracted by the need to rant. And today, I can’t find that blog again. I only found it in the first place because somebody came to my blog through a link, and that showed up on my site stats. But my site holds the stats only for yesterday and today. I can’t get back to ‘the day before yesterday’ to re-find that link.

If that was you and your blog, thank you so much! Any chance of a link so I can re-read the rules and keep the meme going?

~

And finally, thanks to everyone who expressed an opinion on what I should write next. It was a landslide vote for Hoist By His Own Petard – a morris dance romance. (With reenactors). Accordingly, I started working on a plot plan for that last night, and am looking forward to starting to write it next week.


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

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Well, I’m going to have to stop being all passive-aggressive about RT now, as I have found out that not only have they been reviewing m/m romance for a few months now, but that this month they chose Under the Hill: Bomber’s Moon as one of their top picks. Huzzah!

BombersMoonreviewsm


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

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I have three things to recommend today. Unlike Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s latest programme, they are not three good things which taste great together – they’re probably better savoured apart.

1.

Rather than a pantomime, we went to see Loserville yesterday in London, on the advice of our drama-student eldest.

http://www.loservillethemusical.com/

Which was a great choice – great sets, great songs and brought a tear to the eye on occasions. It’s a geek versus jocks story, but perhaps not on the cutting edge of the geek social issues which are exercising the internet at the moment – being your typical male geek earns the respect of his peers (via the sacrifice and cunning of his girlfriend) story. Still better than a panto, though!

2.

A fantastic historical murder mystery http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mistress-Art-Death/dp/0857500368 which makes me feel ashamed of my own historicals. Beautifully written, fast paced, humane and set in my part of the world. I didn’t realise it was part of a series! I will have to get the others now.

3.

And finally I can thoroughly recommend Get Your Words Out as a guilt free alternative to the daily word count. Sometimes you just can’t write for a week or so, but this gives you the chance to have good weeks and bad weeks as long as you make your yearly word count – and provides you with a nifty spreadsheet and monthly check ins to help.


GetYourWordsOut: One Last Time (Probably)!
Pledges & Requirements | GYWO.net


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

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snow-crash

Guess what I’ve just finished reading? I suspect it’s a classic that I ought to have read earlier. Certainly if I’d read it when it first came out in the nineties many of the things in it that reminded me of stuff I’d seen elsewhere, or mundane every day realities, would have seemed like dazzlingly weird imaginings. Some of the gloss is taken off, now that we’re living with things like 2nd Life and Google Earth, which would have been intact when yahoo groups were the most complicated thing on the internet.

Anyway, ten things. Five good, five bad:

Good:

1. This is the very definition of high concept. It bursts at the seams with new ideas, and even though reality has caught up with some of those new ideas now, you can still hear them sizzle.

2. Sumerian neuro-linguistic programming. Seriously, I luuurve almost all stories that hinge on forgotten technologies of ancient civilisations that look like magic to us now. I was going “oh, stop with the swordfighting and get back to talking about Babel and Asherah and the nam-shrub of Enki.” I need to find excuses to get the phrase ‘the nam-shrub of Enki’ into every day conversation.

This is the high concept thing again, but the nam-shrub of Enki gets its own entry, because the idea of there once existing a language that bypassed all the higher functions of the brain and moved people to act the way computer programming causes computers to act, is a delightfully new one to me. I knew of the idea of a primal language, of course, but the idea that it would work like programming on people was fascinating.

3. Good doggies. I loved the rat things, even if they reminded me of the metal dog in The Ballad of Halo Jones. I don’t know which came first, but I loved both – so it’s all good.

4. Everyone is a character of colour – and this was first published in 1992.

5. Gated communities turned into independent countries, and run as franchises by enterprising individuals like Uncle Enzo of the Mafia and Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong. It’s a fun idea and doesn’t actually sound too impossible.

Bad:

1. (But appropriate) The characters are as flat as video game characters – they don’t have personalities other than their skills and appearances. These are designed to be cool, but they give off a ‘so desperate to look cool they just look like sad posers’ vibe to me.

2. Far too much ‘Look at all the hard edged urban crime-war grittiness! Isn’t it exciting?” for me. Possibly I’m just over-exposed to American urban crime-war grittiness as a genre, which would not have been such a problem when it first came out.

3. So YT’s mum gets interrogated by the Feds and reveals that she knows of the existence of a drug that can scramble the brains of programmers just by looking at a bit map. There’s lots of heavy angst and foreshadowing around this. And then nothing happens, and when YT gets home from being kidnapped, her mum’s there, apparently unharmed and unaware that her daughter has been missing for months, and everything’s back to normal? Does not compute.

4. Raven is the coolest badass ever to badass, and I suspect we’re supposed to think it’s glamorous and/or attractive, but actually it’s just the most extreme case of ‘my author thinks I’m hot, so you should too,’ I’ve seen in quite a while. Actually this goes for the hero, Hiro, too. I can’t take seriously anyone who calls himself ‘Hiro Protagonist.’

5. How convenient it is that YT discovers she has the hots for Raven, given that it’s pretty clear that she doesn’t actually have the choice to say no to him. It struck me as a nasty case of ‘how to rape your 15 year old heroine and pretend you didn’t,’ and it spoiled any pleasure I might have had in YT’s cleverness. Although the fact that she was passed from hand to hand between all the powerful men in the story for them to patronise and admire for her cute spunkiness didn’t help either.

On balance:

Still seriously worth reading. My life would be so much poorer without the nam-shrub of Enki in it. And having said all the bad stuff, it was still gripping and entertaining throughout. Even the bad bits were not that bad, when weighed against the good.


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

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I should probably be ashamed, shouldn’t I? Given that I met JL Merrow at the UK Meet in 2010 and have been following her blog ever since (not to mention working on the BritFlash and “Tea and Crumpet” anthologies with her) I should probably be ashamed that I’ve only just got around to reading one of her books.

However, I can’t be, I’m far too busy going “OMG, this is brilliant!”

I read Muscling Through over the weekend, and I knew within a page that I hadn’t been this excited about discovering a writer since encountering Josh Lanyon. Her characters absolutely leap off the page, and they’re so extremely loveable that I found myself enjoying a contemporary novella in which not much happens except for a slight misunderstanding. Normally this kind of thing bores me rigid, but JL Merrow proves that if you’re a good enough writer you can do anything and make the reader love it. Plot wise this was the professional equivalent of curtain fic, and I didn’t care because I was captivated watching the two of them pick out curtains, they were so adorable together while doing it.

I’m still buried under editing, so this is not a proper review, it’s just an “OMG! You must read this, you’ll love it!” So, to conclude, “OMG! Do yourself a favour and read Muscling Through. It’s wonderful.”

(In my head, blond curly-haired Tom Hiddleston played Larry, and Tom Hardy played Al. This made the reading experience even better for me, but you should probably substitute actors to suit yourself ;) )

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft.

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