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Flying Free is published.

Flying Free, the third volume in my Living Fae series, is now available!

I was surprised at the speed at which Smashwords accepted it into their ‘premium’ catalogue and therefore shipped everywhere in various formats. Usually they take a few days, and this time they didn’t. So I am now scrambling to get this post out!

Harlequin is the narrator for the various sections in this book. He is still on Alderley Edge with his lover, Yarrow, after Yarrow’s time in Tara but before Harlequin’s. He tells the stories of some of his siblings. Peasblossom, Columbine and Cobweb all find romance and the book is hard to categorise as the romance is both same gender and opposite gender.

Whilst the main focus is on the various love affairs, there is an underlying theme of a family saga and although there is foreign travel, most of the action takes place in midsummer on the Edge. There are fairies, goblins, humans, unicorns, cats, etc.

The story probably won’t make sense unless you’ve read the first two volumes, Growing Up Fae and Tales from Tara. However, there is helpful (I hope) page on my WordPress blog with a glossary and a timeline, and the fourth (and final) volume is complete and with my editor.

Buy links:
Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TGH19MS
Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/945685

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Posted by on June 26, 2019 in publishing, writing

 

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Meme adapted for original work.

Someone suggested adapting the AO3 meme for my original work. I found it resulted in a neat summary of my work, which might be of interest to anyone who wants to know what I write but doesn’t need the hassle of trawling through my old WordPress posts. So here we are!

Rules: Go to your Amazon, Smashwords or other works page & answer the following questions!

How many works do you currently have published?
I currently have 10 works, all self published. I also have poetry and ficlets on my WordPress blog.

What’re your most common work ratings?
6 are flagged as adult and 4 are general.

What’s your most common warning?
I suppose mm romance/sex or fantasy

Least common warning?
Not really applicable but I don’t write horror and I don’t write crime from a criminal pov.

Do you consider yourself an adventurous writer?
As I said for fanfic, I’m not sure what other people consider adventurous! I write in a few genres, fantasy, crime and romance. Sometimes a book will have more than one of these. I adapt my style for different series and for that matter for different volumes. For instance, the first volume of Living Fae is in diary form. I don’t write much kink though have some ménage (four male fae) sections in my Living Fae series. I tend to steer clear of too much violence, and the sex, whilst sometimes explicit, is usually vanilla. So – wide ranging within a limited set of genres. I also write poetry and critiques of others’ writing. On my friends-locked social media sites I have written travel blogs and have vague ideas of publishing those some day. The Living Fae series grew out of a children’s book (no sex or violence…) which is also available following the link at the end of the next volume to be published.

How many works have you made in each pairing category?
I have written mm, mmmm, mf and ff in Living Fae. In that series I have also explored interspecies relationships such as werewolf/fae romance. In The Skilled Investigators series there is an mm sub plot but there is never any explicit sex which is why the series is not flagged as adult. My 4 stand-alone books are all mm.

Is this more accidental, or do you have preferences?
I enjoy exploring different cultures and culture clash. Both fantasy (fae and elves) and mm romance fall into this category. So yes, there’s a preference for anything that is not typically conventional and for issues that might lead to problems of various kinds. I also like revisiting folk tales and giving their elements a new twist.

What are your works?
Living Fae: Modern fae, living on Alderley Edge in Cheshire, UK.
Volume 1: Growing Up Fae. (Harlequin, the narrator, grows up, moves to The Edge, and ends up with Yarrow.)
Volume 2: Tales from Tara. (Harlequin and Yarrow spend time, separately, at the court in Tara and we see the start of the ménage with Starling and Ferdy.)
These are published. Volume 3: Flying Free, which follows the stories of Harlequin’s siblings, is in the final formatting process and Volume 4: On The Edge is currently with my editor. That will complete the series and bring all the stories up to date but as I said above there is also the children’s book, Answering Amanda, available to readers of Flying Free. Or, if you’re interested, comment here!
The Skilled Investigators: Elf detectives in a fantasy kingdom.
Volume 1: The Scroll. (Genef has to struggle to solve a murder and start her training as an Investigator, assisted by her dragon friend.)
Volume 2: The Market. (Genef, her brother Fel, and the dragon, Scratch, sail to the Spice Islands to track down some stolen royal property.)
Volume 3: The Crown. (Genef, Rath, her mentor, and Scratch journey to the Ice Country in search of a missing crown.)
Volume 4: The Lantern, (Genef, Rath and Scratch investigate murders in Cave, Rath’s home town. Rath and Fel are forming a tentative relationship.)
I have just sent Volume 5: The Road (Genef and Rath go undercover in the human kingdom of Norveria) to be edited, and the final volume of the series (no title yet) is still in note form.
Stand-alones:
Silkskin and the Forest Dwellers. A prince of mediaeval Zimbabwe meets a merchant prince of Benin. Loosely based on the legend of Snow White.
The Lord of Shalott. The cross-dressing lord of Shalott meets Lancelot then Merlin.
Three Legends. An mm retelling of the Northumbrian Jingling Geordie, an invented legend about early mm relationships, and a contemporary ‘mystery’ about a new boyfriend and some loss of time.
Silver Chains. Angus is a country lawyer who meets Damien, a city bartender, online.
A further stand-alone, Beating Hearts, is in the editing queue. 5 mm short stories, each with a fantasy/supernatural twist.

Are you still active in any of your series, & do you tend to migrate a lot?
Both main series are unfinished from the reader’s point of view. Living Fae is finished in draft form and The Skilled Investigators has one volume to go. I alternate between the two, depending on whether something needs edits, formatting, or writing. I have another novel mostly written but on a ‘back burner’ till those series are complete. It might be the first volume of a new series.

What are the main relationships in your stories?

Living Fae has an overall main focus on Harlequin and Yarrow.
The Skilled Investigators has a sub plot with a focus on Fel and Rath.
Silkskin in Silkskin and the Forest Dwellers meets a merchant prince of Benin.
The Lord of Shalott meets Lancelot and later Merlin.
Angus, in Silver Chains, meets Damien. (This is my only book with no fantasy element.)
I won’t list the short stories.

Does this match how you feel about the characters, or are you puzzled?
These are ‘my’ characters. I tend to have stories arrive quite well developed in my head. The characters are at liberty to do their own thing with regard to details so long as they stick to the eventual destination… So minor plot points sometimes surprise me but mostly I know in advance who’s who and who they’re going to meet, etc. I suppose that as Living Fae developed I was intrigued by the different cultural attitudes of my fae characters towards sex. Similarly, in The Skilled Investigators I started to explore elvish attitudes to crime and punishment. No puzzlement, but great interest on my part.

What are your top most used tags, & your bottom 2?
The top two are:
fantasy
crime
and at the bottom are all the multitude of things I don’t write about but also contemporary romance.

Romance in general comes in between because The Skilled Investigators is primarily fantasy and crime and that’s nearly half my output.

What would happen if you combined all 4 of these into a fic?
This isn’t really applicable. If I put a contemporary romance into a fantasy world it would in turn become fantasy…

How many WIPs do you have currently? Any you don’t plan on finishing?
Living Fae is finished but only two of the books are published so far. The Skilled Investigators needs another two volumes. One is finished and one is in note form. I have every intention of finishing it. The Virgin and the Unicorn is the book on the back burner, but it is mostly written and just needs some editing and amendments. Once I’ve started something I don’t like abandoning it. I might alter it a lot – for instance, the first volume of The Skilled Investigators was originally written in first person and I felt obliged to change it. If anything isn’t worth finishing I delete it immediately and don’t give it another thought.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2019 in writing

 

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Another fanfiction meme

One of my Dreamwidth fandom friends introduced me to this meme. If you’re interested in my fanfic writing, you can find it on Archive Of Our Own and my pseudonym is moth2fic

Rules: Go to your AO3 works page, expand all the filters, & answer the following questions!
(Even with everything expanded I found it hard to access some of the information.)

How many works do you currently have on the Archive?
I currently have 90 works on AO3.

What’re your 1st & 2nd most common work ratings?
I couldn’t get the numbers for these without going through all 90…
Not rated – this is my own ‘default’. It includes sex and violence and saves argument.
Gen – a few that really didn’t deserve to be not rated…

What’s your most common archive warning?
Creator Chose Not To Use Archive warnings

Least common archive warning?
I only ever use Creator Chose Not To Use Archive warnings or No Archive Warnings Apply

Do you consider yourself an adventurous writer?
I’m not sure what other people consider adventurous! I write in a lot of fandoms (40, though some of those are fusions, crossovers and drabbles). I adapt my style for different fandoms. I don’t write much kink though have some incest and threesomes. I tend to steer clear of too much violence, and the sex, whilst explicit, is usually vanilla. So adventurous in terms of wandering around, but unadventurous in terms of staying within my comfort zones.

How many works have you made in each pairing category?
I have no idea how to work this out without going through all 90. Most of my work is M/M but occasionally there is a fic or ficlet with Gen, F/M (especially for minor characters), F/F and Multi.

Is this more accidental, or do you have preferences?
I prefer slash in fanfic. If I want F/M fiction I’ll usually look to canon or to ‘official’ books based on canon. Or to original fic. That’s in terms of reading, but obviously it influences what I write.

What are your top 4 fandoms by numbers?
The Professionals (16)
Stargate Atlantis (11)
Harry Potter (11)
Lewis (9)

Are you still active in any of them, & do you tend to migrate a lot?
I’m less active than I used to be as a writer, partly because I spend more time on my original fic. I’m active in the sense of following communities and news, and of course commenting and I usually read challenges and big bangs. I do beta work for other writers, too. I also follow some other fandoms e.g. Bandom, in which I never write. I don’t migrate – once ‘hooked’ I never leave – but I am very multi-fandom.

What are your top 4 relationship tags?
I could only find 3.
William Bodie/Ray Doyle
John Sheppard/Rodney Mackay
Robbie Lewis/James Hathaway
All the rest are one-offs; if I wrote much Harry Potter there would be Harry/Draco but the fic count goes up because I’ve written a series of crossovers with Lewis and the pairing in the series is the Lewis one.

Does this match how you feel about the characters, or are you puzzled?
I’m not puzzled. I tend to see all shows and books with a kind of shadow agenda where the characters behave differently because of things like alternate universes. I like getting to the core of a character and asking myself what would happen if they were born or employed etc. in a different place or time or if they interacted with characters from another fandom. I don’t write rpf unless I’m being satirical so I don’t have to deal with the real families of actors. Canon ‘realities’ are infinitely amendable.

What are your top 2 most used additional tags, & your bottom 2?
The top two are:
alternate universe and casefic. I just realised this applies to my original writing too!
and the bottom two are:
poetry and meta

What would happen if you combined all 4 of these into a fic?
It might be hard to incorporate poetry and meta sensibly into a fic. There could be poems or lyrics in a story, and perhaps some meta aspects of the plot, I suppose. So I’d compose lyrics to fit and include a theme that had meta overtones.

How many WIPs do you have currently running on AO3? Any you don’t plan on finishing?
I very rarely post WIPs. Only two spring to mind. The Thing (SGA) 2017 was written in response to prompts for each chapter or episode, as a prompt challenge. It was very interactive. Highway Robbery (multi-fandom) 2016 was written for some friends who volunteer for AO3 with their names and roles thinly disguised and I was getting feedback and encouragement from them each time I posted a chapter – it was easier to just put the chapters on the Archive for everybody than distribute them… Other than that, I finish work before I start posting. Any WIP that is unfinished, whether it will remain that way or not, is on my hard drive, not out in public. It’s vaguely possible that I could add to a couple of series but the fics stand on their own as they are. Incidentally, Highway Robbery has a tinge of meta because it deals with the issue of plagiarism in fanfiction.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2019 in fanfiction, writing

 

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May Reviews

TV and film

In case anybody wonders, most of my TV viewing consists of news, in-depth politics, interviews, etc. I really enjoy BBC Parliament, for example, but am not about to highlight specific debates here! This section is for programmes I would recommend if they are still availabe.

The excellent:

Line of Duty season 5***** I adore this show and although season 5 wasn’t quite as good as the early seasons, it still gets 5 stars from me and I’m looking forward to season 6.

Wellington: The Iron Duke Unmasked (BBC4)***** Lots of interesting material about Wellington’s later life and his marriage. I’m a huge ‘fan’ of the Napoleonic war period – fiction and non-fiction alike – so I enjoyed this.

Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure ***** Vicky is, of course, one of the main actors in Line of Duty but here she showed her amazing skills as a presenter. She watched her grandmother suffer from Alzheimer’s so jumped at the chance to help with a scientific experiment to see how music affects people with the condition.

The good:

Adele: In her own Words**** I didn’t really know Adele’s music before I watched this – wrong generation, I suppose! Anyway, I now have some of her songs on my Spotify list and was fascinated by this exploration of her personality and work.

The Hunt for Jihadi John**** This was grim viewing. I knew about his ISIS actions, of course, but not much about the man himself. This programme corrected that ignorance.

Botany: A Blooming History**** An intriguing look at plants. As well as the inevitable eye candy we got, in three programmes, a history of botany and botanists ranging from early agricultural experiments to today’s genetic modification techniques.

The merely watchable:

Our Kind of Traitor (Ewan McGregor)*** Forgettable spy film but McGregor was, of course, watchable.

Killing Eve*** I didn’t mean to watch this, and didn’t like it much, but husband was hooked so… Brilliant acting, and I think all of them deserved Baftas, but the concept – assassins and so on – didn’t appeal to me.

Cowboys and Aliens*** I think I’ve seen this before but if so had forgotten a lot of the story. Mediocre plot, acting and direction.

Books

The excellent and the good:

Healing Glass by Jackie Keswick ***** I had an advance review copy. See my separate review during May.

Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews***** A fascinating novel about the women who were forced into being ‘comfort’ workers for Japanese troops during WW2. It’s told from the point of view of a grandaughter of one of them, brought up in America.

A Merciful Silence by Kendra Eliott***** I didn’t realise I’d bought this fourth thriller featuring Mercy and Truman. It was as enjoyable as the first three but the series is becoming a little formulaic and I may not continue, especially now that Mercy and Truman seem to be engaged to be married.

Murder House (Psycop 10) by Jordan Castillo Price*****
I love the Psycop series. In this one, Vic is undercover, away from Jacob, investigating a house where someone died.
Hue Tint and Shade by Jordan Castillo Price***** A long short story, one of the Bittersweet Candy Kisses collection featuring the magical chocolatier Chance as well as Nathan and Tommy, the couple for whom he arranges romance. I love the whole series, including stories by other authors.

Montana Sky by RJ Scott (Montana 6)*****This is the last of the Montana series and I shall be sorry to leave Crooked Tree Ranch. I still think that statistics suggest there are too many gay men in the immediate area but I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Martin, Tyler, and the geology of the region.

Moonstruck by Aleksandr Voinov ***** I loved the fact that the author really understands fan fiction, and brings Anthony and Samir through Samir’s work in the ‘world’ of Anthony’s published series. The fact that the series involves werewolves made me want to read it though I am sadly aware that it is a plot device and not an actual set of novels.

Rewind by Marshall Thornton (Pinx 4)***** I’ve been enjoying this series of ‘cozy’ murders investigated by an intrepid group of gay men in Los Angeles during the worst years of the AIDs epidemic. In this volume, Noah wakes up next to a dead body but although the victim did have HIV that wasn’t the cause of death.

Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss 1) by DJ Jamison ***** I shall be following the author’s new series. Her writing is excellent and I think she is at her best when exploring themes with mild thriller elements. Caleb, Julien and an island dedicated to providing an exclusive marriage venue form an interesting story.
Special Nights by DJ Jamison **** This loses a star because there is less to grip the reader in this pleasant romance. Sam has insomnia and meets Hunter, a barista. It’s a short novel or a long short story and is well written.

Bone to Pick (Digging up Bones 1) by TA Moore**** This is a story of a police dog handler and an FBI agent. The thriller element, with the missing child, was well presented and the writing was good. However, my favourite character was the dog, Bourneville, and I don’t think I’ll be following the series.

Kip’s Monster by Harper Fox **** As with all Harper’s books, this was beautifully written, but loses a star because I found it thoroughly depressing despite the upbeat ending. I was glad Kip and Oz got together, and I appreciated the Loch Ness scenes, but I couldn’t stop wondering what life was going to bring for Oz’s grandmother and Kip’s mother. Nothing good, I suspect.

A Few Good Fish by Amy Lane (vol 3)**** I enjoyed this finale to the story of Jackson and Ellery and their battle against maverick military experiments. The main pleasures of the book lie in the explosions, and the romance, and the author points out that anyone wanting facts about the police or army should avoid it. It loses a star because, just like the middle volume in the series, some extra sections from the beginning and middle of the story which originally appeared in the author’s blog are tacked on at the end, just when the tale had reached a satisfactory conclusion. Poor structuring.

The reasonable:

Say You’re Sorry (Sacramento 1) by Karen Rose*** I’ve always enjoyed Rose’s books even though they’re formulaic (police or FBI agent meets woman investigator/witness/pathologist/lawyer etc. and romance ensues while the thriller continues). However, I was less than keen on this one. About half the book was told from the point of view of the serial killer. I can see why: it was necessary, to avoid too much telling instead of showing at the end. But I’m simply not a fan of criminal point of view. I won’t be following the series.

The ones I wouldn’t recommend:

Less by Andrew Sean Greer ** This was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and to be honest I wondered whether it was because a minor character gets a Pulitzer, which gives rise to a conversation about how to pronounce it… Arthur Less is a mediocre writer of gay fiction, who travels to avoid the wedding of an ex-lover. Most of the book reads like a travelogue with a lot of purple prose more suited to brochures. Arthur himself is not a particularly endearing character. The narrator seems too intrusive though the reason for this becomes clear at the end. I was mostly bored but persisted because I’d paid for the book and also wanted to know why the critics liked it. I still have no answer to that.

A Fistful of Emmett by Jambrea Jo Jones** Emmett and Kit are two-dimensional characters and the story had little to grip the reader. It followed the basic ‘gay for you’ trope but I was bored and only finished it because it was short. The writing was less than stellar, with lots of repetition.

No Brief Affair by Ryan Taylor. Abandoned. The story switches point of view between Liam and John, repeating the same events from a different perspective. There is also too much explicit sex. I got bored very quickly and didn’t care what happened to the characters.

Fanfic

Another month with a lot of reading that relied on canon familiarity, including the Lewis Spring Challenge, and a new Supernatural series my daughter is writing.

I’ll recommend the following:

Running on Air by eleventy7
https://archiveofourown.org/works/3171550
Harry Potter fandom. Draco is missing and the case is given to Harry as an auror. Very slow burn mm romance with no sex during the story. Beautifully written.

To Steal a Kiss From Borrowed Lipe by corruptedkid**** https://archiveofourown.org/works/16958304
Bandom AU. I’m always interested in how other writers handle magic. Gerard and Frank accidentally exchange bodies when a magic user tries to ‘help’ their relationship.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2019 in reviews

 

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‘Why I write’ meme adapted for original works.

I promised to adapt this set of questions for my original work so here it is.

1 What made you start writing original stories, poetry, etc?
My first ‘work’ was a play performed by our local Brownie troop. I was five, and because I had written it I was allowed to join the big girls and be onstage. I think this must have gone to my head… I continued with plays, poems and stories until I left uni. Working as an English teacher meant producing work as a ‘role model’ for pupils, and I had neither the time nor the creative energy left to write anything else. When I took early retirement, one story was already in my head so I was itching to get to the keyboard.

2. Which of your own works have you reread the most?
I think sections of my Living Fae series. The story started in a ‘muse’ journal on LJ and by the time I decided on publication it needed a great deal of collection, collation, and decisions about what to include. As a result, I read and re-read various parts till I almost knew them by heart. At first, they were a pleasant surprise as I’d forgotten quite a lot. Later, I just wanted to get them sorted out and sent off to my editor.

3. Describe the differences between your first published work and your most recent.
When I decided to self-publish I used two novellas and a collection of three short stories as ‘practice’. So they were comparatively short. They were all based on legends and fairy tales, twisted into fresh forms. I was lucky enough to have seriously good editors and I learnt a lot from them.
My most recent publication was a short story – a contemporary romance. I wrote it some time ago, initially for a prompt in a writing group then, in a longer and edited version, for inclusion in a now defunct online zine. I decided to publish it myself and it went through a further editing and formatting process until I was satisfied with it. It has no fantasy and no connection with fairy tales.

4. Do you think your style has changed over time? How so?
I think and hope I use different styles depending on the kind of story I am telling. For example, my novella The Lord of Shalott, and the first volume of Living Fae are told in first person. I write novels, novellas, short stories, flashfic and poetry. I also write reviews and critiques. Obviously I need to use varied styles for all these. I don’t think my style has changed much in recent years; it has changed since I was a teenager, of course, but that’s to be expected.

5. You’ve posted a work anonymously. How would someone be able to guess you’ve written it?
As I said in the fanfic meme with the same questions, I once did this when the online writing group suggested we all write a flashfic in the style of my Living Fae material. Nobody was able to guess who had written what; I assume part of the reason was the choice of similar subject matter, characters, etc. Beyond that experiment, I can’t think how anyone would guess I had written something unless I included locations that people who know me know I’m familiar with.

6. Name three stories you found easy to write.
No real answer to this.

7. Name three stories you found difficult to write.
All writing is easy for me. It’s the editing, proof reading, formatting, etc. that causes headaches.

8. What’s your ratio of hits to kudos?
This was a fanfic question and I assume I need to consider ‘success’ as a writer. The world is drowning in self published material and I am not alone in sinking without much of a trace. My royalties about keep us in pizza and we don’t eat that every week. They also cause intense irritation to me when my tax returns are due. Most people who both like fantasy and actually find my books are complimentary, but too few find them! The same applies to my fanfic and I think the bottom line is just that I’m completely hopeless at marketing.

9. What do your fic bookmarks say about you?

Another fanfic question (specific to AO3) so I’ll refer to my to-be-read list instead. I read widely and voraciously, and at any one time you’d find mainstream novels, genre novels, short stories, poetry, and non-fiction in the queue. I think it just says I like reading! I also keep a record of e-books I’ve read, partly to stop myself re-purchasing them and partly so that I can recall the titles and authors to recommend to other people. That list says I like history, fantasy, mm romance, crime, biography, science (especially the natural world), finance, politics, and cookbooks.

10. What’s a theme that keeps coming up in your writing?
Culture clash, which is something that interests me.

11. What kind of relationships are you most interested in writing?
I have a tendency to focus on mm romantic relationships, though not to the exclusion of anything else.

12. For E-rated fic what are some things your characters keep doing?
I will assume we are talking about books that would be suitable for general audiences. That means my Skilled Investigators series, and as the name implies, the characters keep finding crimes and mysteries to investigate. Other than that, like anyone, they eat, sleep, talk, etc.

13. Name three favourite characters to write.
1. Harlequin, the main character in Living Fae. I call him my muse and he lives in my head and tries to influence all my writing.
2. Genef, the main character in Skilled Investigators. She is training as a detective and I like both her attitude to her work and her ability to question herself. She doesn’t live in my head, and although female, has almost nothing in common with me.
3. Scratch, the dragon who helps Genef in Skilled Investigators. I love writing from a dragon’s point of view, thinking how he might see human and elf behaviour and what he might say about it.

14. You’re applying for the [fanfic] writer of the year award. What five works do you put in your portfolio?
I’d have to think about things that are published somewhere, including my WordPress site. My work wanders around between genres and I don’t think they’d ever be regarded as award material for original writing. However, if I had to put together a selection:
1. Lord of Shalott: a novella set in Arthurian legend and inspired by Tennyson’s poem The Lady of Shalott.
2. Growing up Fae: volume 1 of Living Fae, told in journal form by Harlequin, a modern fairy living on Alderley Edge in Cheshire.
3. Answering Amanda: a children’s story based on Harlequin’s little sister’s letters to a human child. This is ready to send to anyone who asks for it using the information at the end of volume 3 of Living Fae. It was, in fact, the springboard for the entire world/series.
4. The Zoo: one of my poems, based on an actual day at Chester Zoo. It’s on my WordPress site. I might create a volume of poems to put on Smashwords; poems always get more ‘likes’ than anything on WordPress.
4. The Scroll: volume 1 of The Skilled Investigators and the one that introduces Scratch, the dragon.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2019 in personal, writing

 

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Guest Blog by Alex Beecroft

I was excited at the idea of welcoming Alex to my blog. I really love the Trowchester series and am looking forward to reading this latest installment. A highly recommended author, whether the books are set in historical periods or are contemporary romance.

Hello from Alex Beecroft  I write gay romance that is on the sweeter side of the spectrum. I am asexual and agender myself, so that probably has something to do with the slow decline of my heat level over the years.

I made my name with books set in the 18th Century Age of Sail, but there’s only so much you can write about the navy in one go.

Now my settings range all the way from Bronze Age Crete to the modern day UK.

My latest book, Seeing Red, is a contemporary romance set in my own fictional town of Trowchester.

Let me tell you some more about that…

When I started writing novels I had no idea how people wrote contemporaries. What was there to write about in real life?

I don’t like biography, or autobiography. I don’t like paying bills and having to clean the bathroom. I go to books to escape all that.

It took Trowchester to free me from that mindset.

At some point after I began contemplating how to write in the present day without writing a story about cleaning toilets, it finally occurred to me that I had been confusing contemporary novels with non-fiction.

But contemporary fiction is still fiction.

I could create my own world every bit as much as I would have done in a historical or a fantasy. I could write about a town that was everything I liked about towns and nothing that I didn’t. If I wanted tea-shops and hanging baskets full of flowers I could have them.

I could mix them with morris dancing and pagan wells, Bronze Age burial mounds, murder mystery, found families and a basket full of puppies, if I so wished.

And so Trowchester became my playground.

If you like sleepy English towns with some quaint customs, a gay book-club who look out for one another through arson and escape attempts, more than a hint of peril behind the scenes, and a promise that love will save the day, it might be yours too.

SEEING RED

BLURB:

Bad boys don’t tame easy.

Victor is a bad man. Is there anything he won’t do for power and money?

Destroy a local business so he can buy it cheap? Kick out its owners and turn it into a cash cow? He relishes the chance.

Idris is a good man in possession of a renowned tea-house. He’s put his heart and soul into the place. It’s everything he has and wants…

Except for Victor.

He wants Victor too.

Can the love of a compassionate man restore a predator’s withered soul? Or is Idris doomed to lose his life’s work, and his heart with it?

~

A contemporary mm romance, Seeing Red is a long-awaited new installment of the critically acclaimed Trowchester Series.

Each book in the series is a standalone, and can be read in any order.

Feel free to start here and work back!

Get Seeing Red today and visit the town where love conquers all.

EXCERPT:

The suit had given Victor a certain untouchable air, like something on which the stray hand would cut itself. But now he wore a soft, turquoise silk button down and black skinny jeans, grayed and soft with age and wear. Idris hadn’t noticed a bin smell, but he did notice the scent of soap and shampoo—an almost continental fragrance of blended coffee and whiskey. Victor was a vision, dressed as though he was about to go clubbing, and Idris’s infatuation—somewhat dashed by the house—flared up again like a tongue of flame.
“Wow,” he said. “You are so beautiful.”
“Don’t!” Victor flinched, his mouth turning down. He poured himself a drink with curt movements as though he’d been insulted. “I know I don’t look like much, but don’t make fun.”
“No, I meant it!” Idris exclaimed. “How can you not see? You’re—”
“I look like them,” Victor dropped to his knees beside the dogs, which put him dangerously close to Idris’s side. He brought a blast of warm, humid air with him, his hair still damp from the shower. Even watered, it was still bright, a bronze rather than the red-gold it was when dry. Idris reached up for it without thinking, touched the ends that curved over his ear, and then swept his fingertips over the soft arch of his ear down to the lobe as if he was petting another dog.
“Hm?” he asked.
“Scrawny, half-starved, feral. Like I’ll bite you as soon as look at you.”
Idris smiled, because although there was an element of truth in that, it didn’t sound like such a bad thing. “Would you?” he teased, “Bite me? That sounds like a promise.”
Victor took in a breath as if prepared to snap. Then he seemed to realize that he was being flirted with and laughed, awkwardly. “Not on a first date.”

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Healing Glass: A Gifted Guilds Novel by Jackie Keswick. An in-depth review.

I received an advance review copy of this book but I can assure you that if I hadn’t liked it I wouldn’t have reviewed it at all here!

I loved the story of Minel and Falcon and their strong bond. I enjoy fantasy novels, not least for their fascinating world-building, and this was no exception. The floating city of glass, with its possible sentience, is a wonderful concept and the author helps the reader to see it clearly, along with a thrilling awareness of the ‘invisible’ steps that lead to the shore.

At the beginning of the story, Minel, a glass master-craftsman, is suffering from a severe and probably fatal disease, one which we gradually learn was contracted by more than an unlucky chance. We are also given a glimpse, or clue, in the prologue, of the fact that all is not well with the city, its craft-masters and its council.

Falcon, a warrior captain, is desperately anxious for Minel to live. I enjoyed their growing relationship and the way their society was depicted so that same-sex love is never presented as anything unusual, and the culture clash that always appeals to me in stories is between craftsmen, warriors, commercial experts and councilmen or administrators.

There is sufficient angst and mystery to grip the reader, the descriptions of both locations and characters are detailed and excellent, and even the most minor characters come alive in the hands of a competent writer. There is magic, but it never overwhelms the plot or becomes unrealistic. The two main protagonists and their friends are highly gifted but at all times there is stress on how much hard work has led them to the flowering of their abilities.

I was, towards the end, slightly disappointed that we didn’t learn more about the wider context of the world in which the story is set, but it appears there will be sequels, or at least books set in the same world, so hopefully this will be remedied. Meanwhile, there were other pleasures, such as the details of glass making, and other ways of life.

I would highly recommend this book and look forward to the next volume.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2019 in critiques, other writers

 

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