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.

Captain’s Surrender News

It being lo, these seven years and more since Captain’s Surrender came out from Samhain, the contract on this book is up. I have asked for the rights back and I recieved them (on the same day, no less! I commend them on their efficiency.)

This means it’s time to give Captain’s Surrender a facelift and relaunch it with a snazzy new cover. Sad though I am to say goodbye to the gorgeous cover I had on the Samhain version, I was quite excited to be able to make my own. Of course, all the usual caveats apply – lack of good historical stock photos, my own limited artistic talent. Nevertheless, I’m quite pleased with this one.

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It says ‘nautical’ and it says ‘gay romance’, which is what you want from a nautical gay romance, I feel. And it references the point where Josh blows up his own ship to try to take out a French ship of the line, so it’s more relevant to the content of the book than some of the covers I’ve had.

I’m going to have a quick look through to see if anything needs scrubbing up and then reformat it for self publishing as an ebook on the 21st. Then I can wrestle with how to release it as a paperback over the Christmas holidays.

In the mean time I may reblog some of my old posts about the book, which have suddenly become relevant again. Watch this space 🙂

Why the Ancient Minoans?

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

Anyway…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Labyrinth at Amazon.com

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At All Romance Ebooks

At Riptide Publishing