alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.
1.) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2.) Italicize those you intend to read.
3.) Underline those you LOVE.
4.) Put an asterisk next to the books you’d rather shove hot pokers in your eyes than read.

01. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
02. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

03. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

04. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
05. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
06. The Bible

07. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

08. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

09. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy (I may be mistaken, but this was the one where there’s a terrible storm and her grave spits her back out? That’s all I remember, so it might be some other book I’m thinking of.)

13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (Can you semi-underline? I wouldn’t say I love his stuff, except possibly The Tempest, but I am awed by how brilliant it is.)

*15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

20. Middlemarch – George Eliot (Makes you want to weep, it’s so dull.)
21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
*23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy (I think I’ve read it, but I don’t remember anything about it, so I may be mistaken.)
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh A book of two halves – I liked the first half.
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Or it may have been this one I read. I know I read some well known doorstop of a gloomy Russian saga. I remember the sense of achievement on finishing it. Now I can’t even remember which book it was, so what was the point of that?)
*28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
*31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34. Emma – Jane Austen
35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres (Does it count if you started it and couldn’t get past the first chapter? At least I now know how to extract a pea from someone’s ear.)
39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41. Animal Farm – George Orwell Not exactly loved it, but thought it was utterly brilliant.

42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown If I could only discover the secret of his success, I’d be a happy author.

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
(Another one where I think I read it but have blanked the actual experience thoroughly.
47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy Dullsville.

48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding Gripping but too disturbing to get an ‘I loved it’.

50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52. Dune – Frank Herbert (Now this was cool!)
53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
*67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville (Well, I started it and put it away, thinking ‘what does everyone see in this?’)
71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens (I’m surprised I’ve read so little Dickens, but what I did read, I didn’t like.)
72. Dracula – Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses – James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal – Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession – AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton (Why these and not the Famous Five?)
91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas (I started but couldn’t continue with this. Good proof that all action, all the time, makes for a dull read.)
98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare The underlining is for watching the play. It’s a bit hard going to read, but to watch it’s the most amazing piece of characterisation ever.

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo I could have done without the play-by-play recounting of the battle of Waterloo, but otherwise it was so gripping I stayed up all night reading it, and even voluntarily read The Hunchback of Notre-Dame afterwards.

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

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

This story has a remarkable story of disasters, obstacles overcome and dogged persistence all of its own. It’s possible that some of you may remember the first time I announced the sale of what was then a long short story called 90% Proof to Freya’s Bower. I can’t now remember how many years ago that was, but it was supposed to go in an anthology with various other stories. It got through two rounds of editing before the editor became ill and all the authors in the anthology were offered their rights back.

After that, I took out all the editing that had been done on it, reverted it back to how it had been and sent it elsewhere. The second publisher I sent it to accepted it but said that it might take a little while to assemble some other historical stories to go with it to make up an anthology. So I waited a little while, and a little while became two years. At the end of two years I decided that probably they were not quite as enthusiastic about the story as I might have hoped. I asked for the rights back and got them.

Then I thought “well, it’s already a long short story, and I think it would be improved if I gave the POV of both men instead of just one. And it really needs to start earlier if Hal isn’t going to come off as a completely obnoxious git. And I should really show Robert being a prankster rather than tell people about it. Perhaps I can rid the story of its curse if I re-write it as a novella.”

So I rewrote it as a novella, retitled it Poison and Poetry and sent it off to Carina, where it has now gone through all of its edits and been given a release date of 18th of June 2012. I’ve learned better than to suppose it will now be published – there’s plenty of time for something to go wrong again – but this is certainly the furthest it has managed to get down the publishing road so far.

It has also been given a new name. Carina have a special department for titles, apparently, specially for thinking up properly romantic things to call their stories. They’ve outdone themselves this time, I think – I don’t think I could have thought of anything that said “old school Romance with a capital R” better than this.

Drumroll please…. Anyone who wanted to read 90% Proof, you should soon be able to find it under the title His Heart’s Obsession.

It’s perfectly appropriate to the novella, which is indeed a story about the differences between love and obsession, but I have to admit it does make me laugh and suspect that there’s going to be decorative swooning on the cover. If we could have Rob carrying wounded!Hal in a bridal carry, surrounded by the smoke of cannons, so much the better :)

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

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Gosh, my titles are imaginative, aren’t they? But I got the final version of my cover art for Under the Hill: Dogfighters last night and had logged on to post it for people to see, when I came across the Hobbit trailer. That made two things to squee about instead of just one, so here they both are together, unconnected except by my enthusiasm.


Look! I have a dragon! And a Mosquito bomber, and mehndi, and countryside that looks like it really is the Peak District, and a model I can easily picture as Ben – he has just the perfect attitude. So cool! I can’t wait to get both this and Bomber’s Moon in paperback. They’re going to be such handsome books :)


As for the Hobbit trailer


I’m loving all of it except for the completely random Galadriel/Gandalf shipping. What?! As someone who spent three years writing Celeborn/Galadriel fanfic, my feathers are mightily ruffled. Why must everyone in the world disregard my favourite elf?

Apart from that, I loved the Dwarvish plainsong, and I particularly love “Can you promise that I will come back?” “No.”

So, on the whole I’m guessing it’ll be like the other films – mostly excellent, but with some bits inserted that make me tear my hair out. I wonder which part will outweigh which.

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

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

You’re all going to be fed up with this, I can tell.  But this is the last one for a while, because it’ll be months before Pilgrim’s Tale is in need of re-titling, if I’m ever lucky enough to get it (a)finished and (b) accepted by a publisher who thinks its temporary title is not snappy enough.

The one I need help with today used to be called 90% Proof, but when I decided that was an ill-fated title I submitted it to Carina as Poison and Poetry.  I’ve just got my content edits back on it, along with the suggestion that Poison and Poetry doesn’t cut the mustard either (why would you want to cut mustard, btw?)  So I need a new title, and I’ve had so many great suggestions from my friends for titles for other books over the years that I thought I’d ask again.

This is another Age of Sail novella;

It is 1779.  Robert Hughes, a Lieutenant in the British Royal Navy, is in love with his fellow Lieutenant, Hal Morgan.  But Morgan only has eyes for their Captain, William Hamilton.  Sick of watching Hal miserably eat his heart out over Hamilton, Robert determines to seduce him.  But Hal is a tough nut to crack and demands proof of love before he will submit.

Robert’s attempts to usurp Hal’s love for Hamilton lead him to expense, embarrassment, the threat of exposure, and mortal danger from the French.  Also into rather more hard work than he was prepared for.  If only Hal was more susceptible to the lure of perfume and bad poetry!

So something about proof of love, or fighting obsession with poetry would be appropriate.  Or something else entirely which I am too stupid to see.  I quite like “The Poetry of Proof” but I don’t know if that sounds any more romantic than what I had before.  Any suggestions?

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Woo!  I have a duology.  That sounds very fine.  Even better is the fact that I can now say that Under the Hill: Bombers’ Moon should be out in April 2012, followed in May 2012 by Under the Hill: Dogfighters.  I sent off the cover art sheets today, so it’s all beginning to feel a bit more real.

On the blogging front, I’ve been second guessing myself again recently.  One of my many problems is that I do have a tendency to follow advice, and in this case it has been the advice to think of my blog as a marketing tool and a way to build my authorial ‘brand’.  I read, all over the place, that should commit to updating it on a regular basis, and I should make sure I only put stuff up on it that reflected my brand.

The result of which was that I made a resolution to post once a week on a Monday.  And then I immediately couldn’t think of anything to blog about.  I have a group of interests that looks like a lotus flower, it’s got so many separate petals, but whereas all the things that interest me are united by virtue of interesting me, that’s about all the link there is.

I should (according to this advice) remember that I’m a m/m romance writer, and blog about m/m romance.  But that’s terribly limiting.  Besides, all my friends are writing about m/m romance, and covering all the topics I could possibly think about better than I could.  Also – to be frank – I find it easier to say what I want to say (if anything) by writing a story than I do by sitting down and attempting to analyse it in some kind of meta post.  I enjoy reading other people’s theories, but formulating my own feels like letting the genie out of the bottle.  That genie could have been powering a story instead.

I could write about writing – but what do I have to say that’s different from what everyone else is saying?  No one needs my inchoate thoughts when they could just buy a ‘how to’ book and get it all in one spot.

So I think I’m going to go back to posting whenever I like, about all the stuff that is irrelevant to my brand but interesting to myself.  Since my brand as an author is to be the author that I am, surely nothing I find interesting is irrelevant to it?  Even if it is Nazi talking dogs or Steampunk cell-phones.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

1st part available here: in which the elderly Sceldwulf is telling his disapproving kinsfolk about how he once met two gods, when they were being hunted out of England by the new faith.

Chapter 1, Part Two – in which Sceldwulf fulfils an old oath.

Read the rest of this entry » ).
alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

I will have to post this on a Thursday.  Slightly embarrassing though it is, here is an excerpt of the first ever novel I actually finished.  I hit on the cunning plan of telling lots of short stories – because I knew I could finish a short story – and then linking them together to create one larger tale.  It helped that I set this in the oral culture of early Anglo-Saxon England, where it would (I thought) be quite in character for people to stop whatever they were doing at intervals in order to tell each other illustrative stories.

Nowadays I suspect this is not a great way of maintaining narrative flow, but hey, I was 18 and had never written a novel or read a ‘how to write’ book.  Possibly it shows.


Chapter One.

The Tale and the Teller

Read the rest of this entry » ).

The Eagle

Apr. 21st, 2011 12:20 pm
alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

I went to see The Eagle last night.  I’m fairly certain that I read the book in my youth, but it must have been at least 30 years ago, and the only thing that struck me as familiar in the film was “Roman discovers that his slave is actually a very important person & undergoes a kind of role reversal.”  I didn’t remember the book as having so many fight scenes in it.  It’s all very clouded but I thought it was mostly travelling and conversation – quite tense conversation, true, but not full out warfare.

I’m also uncertain as to whether it was my own imagination that made me expect torcs and round-houses and more of an Asterix the Gaul look for the Celts than a Last of the Mohicans.

Read the rest of this entry » ).
alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Maybe it’s a case of ‘separated by a common language’ again, but how hard can it be to find a single decent picture of an Oxbridge young man in summer flannels (preferably lounging against a wall)?

I’m looking for something like this:


And I’ve tried Brideshead Revisited (as a sort of theme), Maurice (theme), EM Forster, Oxbridge punting, Oxbridge boating, 1930s style, flannel trousers, garden party, Ascot, Edwardian gentlemen, elegant men, themed weddings and even three men in a boat. And I’m getting pictures of gardens, ties, men in business suits and high tech yachts. Searching for ‘men in punts’ just gets me a do you mean ‘men in pants’?

So maybe I’m using the wrong terms. Anyone got any suggestions?



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