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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

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.)

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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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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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.

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