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Lioness of Cygnus Five – blurb?

EcrivainAuxChats

By Morburre – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

This is probably oversharing or something, but what do people think of this as a blurb?

~

Busted to command of prison ship Froward, taking criminals out to colonise new worlds for the Kingdom of Peace, Aurora Campos’s days of heroism are behind her. No more conquering the fleets of the Source Worlds’ soul-less technocrats. She’s a fallen woman, a failure.

Bryant Jones, technocrat and ‘murderer’, is not going to let his future be taken away by some dark ages Neanderthal. He’s staging a break out from Aurora’s brig when the Froward is shot down around them.

The convicts have taken over the penal planet. Shipwrecked on a hostile world, where the only escape route is a single spaceship buried in a guarded silo beneath the convicts’ main building, Aurora and Bryant must work together to survive.

Aurora wants the ship so she can rescue her crew. Bryant just wants off world as soon as possible. Neither of them are expecting the aliens.

~

Interesting? Cliche? Would you want to read it? What would you do differently?


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

Sunrise on The Cygnus Five Series

I’ve mentioned the Cygnus Five series before, haven’t I? It’s more of a Cygnus Five trilogy at the moment, and comes to a satisfying close at the end of the third book. But there’s lots of room for expansion later on if people like these three books.

LionessFinalLarge

I’m in the final stages of polishing up Lioness of Cygnus Five at the moment. I’m writing a blurb/cover copy, doing one more proof-reading sweep, and – as you can see – creating the high-res cover, rather than the mock-up I showed you earlier.

This series is a massive experiment and learning experience for me. I’ve used self-publishing in a casual way before, as a way of testing the waters with things that I’d already written/published before, but I’ve never committed the time and energy to write three books specifically with an intent to Indie publish them.

Hanging around the internet over the last few years, I’ve heard more than one person wishing for queer books that were not, first and foremost, romances. “Why can’t we just be heroes? Why can’t our sexuality just be one aspect of who we are, not the focus of the book?”

That jived with me, because if you’ve known me since my early fandom days you’ll know that I was always primarily a gen writer. I like the fighting, blowing things up, saving the world and philosophizing on the nature of good and evil better than I like the romance. This is a problem for a romance writer.

So, I thought “I have no idea who would publish a space opera with a variety of queer leads, where the queerness wasn’t really the point, but wasn’t invisible either. Particularly when the first book revolves around a m/f relationship.” (Hero is bi, straight heroine spends some time body swapped to male-appearing and learns something about dysphoria in the process.) Later books continue the m/f relationship but also follow a f/f pairing and an ace m/m pair as they liberate prisoners and act as ambassadors for the human race to an alien AI.

Basically, I don’t think a mainstream publisher would know what to do with it, but it’s very much the sort of thing I wanted to write, and it’s the sort of thing I’ve heard people asking for, around the MOGAI and fandom sections of the internet.

I don’t have a game plan going in. I probably should. But if I waited for one, I would probably never do this. If there are any wise, established Indie Publishers out there who could give me hints as to how to do this, I would be very grateful. Equally, if any of my writing friends would like to host me on a blog tour for this, I would also be very grateful. (My blog is always open to you in return!)

I will be blogging about how it goes and what I’m up to, on a fairly regular basis. (That’s my aim, subject to depression and spoons.) So if you’re interested in a case study for how someone starts off in self publishing with a book, high hopes and zero knowledge, check back when you can. I’ll try to remember to tag all relevant posts Cygnus 5 books.

Now to write a blurb!

 


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

Who are you going to call?

GhostbustersPoster

Late as usual, I finally saw Ghostbusters 2016 on Saturday. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Tumblr had loved it, but then Tumblr loves Jupiter Ascending and Pacific Rim vastly more than I do for things that I’m not really seeing in either.

On the other hand, when I first saw the promo material come out, I couldn’t believe it was true. I could not believe anyone would make a big budget mainstream comedy/sci-fi film, the reboot of a beloved cult franchise, and have every single one of the heroes be women. I spent a lot of time reblogging trailers and promo material while commenting “I don’t believe this is actually happening.”

Throughout the history of movies and TV, it’s been so prevalent to have all male lineups, maybe with a token female character who gets to be the love interest, that we’ve forgotten that it could ever be another way. Things have been slowly improving to the degree that in a lineup of – how many Avengers now? Seven? – there are two female characters. (But one of them gets to sit the film out because she’s too unstable.)

There are better franchises, of course. Suicide Squad has three women to five men (if my hasty count of the poster is to be believed.) And Mad Max had six women to two men, and Mad Max blew my mind by doing that. But it was still unthinkable to me, even in 2016, to have a film in which there wasn’t a male hero at all – all of them were female.

But hell, why not? It’s been a long time coming and there’s a lot of ground still to make up.

Anyway. It was almost total disbelief that they were even doing this at all that made me determined to go and see it, if only to show my support.

ghostbusters-2016-movie-trailer

I’m so glad I did! It’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen in ages. For someone who expected to be knocked off my feet by the fact that all the leads were female, I actually forgot about that the moment it started, because I was just caught up in the fact that these were people. It’s quite rare, in fact, for women to be written as people in mainstream media. They’re usually written as women first and individuals after. Which usually means I find it almost impossible to connect with them on any level.

These women though, with their scientific curiosity and fear and glee and indomitability were instantly understandable. Holtzmann’s awkward, honest speech at the end made me feel so much “emotionally repressed nerd tries to be open about her feelings,” sympathy. I know how that feels from the inside. Abby’s insistence on the perfect ratio of wonton to soup is not only something I would do myself, but was a great running joke that culminated in me laughing silently until my muscles hurt. What a joy it was to see Patti’s knowledge of history be as vital to the team as the science. And I wanted to cheer when she backed out of the room full of mannequins. You know you would have too. I certainly would!

I even loved Kevin, though he was a pointed bit of social commentary. Why not? We’re probably owed it. And anyway, who couldn’t love a man who called his dog Mike Hat?

I did totally rejoice in seeing the girls kick ghost ass and be gloriously good and competent at it, but by that time I had forgotten about other films in which that wouldn’t have happened. DH came with me, and I wondered what he made of a film where all the leads were women. He said he thought it was a better film than the first Ghostbusters, because it was funnier and it didn’t take itself too seriously.

I completely agree. I would also say how much better it was for not having a gratuitous ‘love story’ forced in there as ‘something for the women in the audience.’ I didn’t even notice there wasn’t one. The ‘something for the women in the audience’ was the whole film. For once, Erin, a woman, was allowed to be the everyman. That’s actually quite revolutionary and long overdue.


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

Sandra and I go way back to the days when we were both hanging out on Livejournal together. She cheered me through the submission of the book that became Captain’s Surrender to its first publisher. So I am extremely happy to be able to hand over my blog to her for a guest post about her first novel, Under Leaden Skies, which came out from Manifold Press on Monday 1st of August. Just this week 🙂 It’s really exciting! Fistbump of authorly solidarity to you, Sandra.

~

Mosquito+Sandra-sm

The author with the prototype Mosquito being rebuilt at the DeHavilland Museum.

Things I learned during the writing and publishing of Under Leaden Skies

My first book, Under Leaden Skies, was released on Monday. As the full story of writing it is fairly long, I thought I would condense my experience into some of the things I have learned during the process.

1) Outline. Or at least have a vague 3-point plan.
They say there are “plotters” and “pantsers”. Well, the first draft of this book was written without any pre-plotting beyond “miner and airman in love during WW2”. Writing it was an adventure, editing it a complete and utter nightmare. I think it took me a month just to sort all the events into a coherent timeline, before I could even start looking to improve any other aspect.

2) When in doubt, research.
Roughly 99% of this story came out of the research I did: reading books and online articles, watching archive training films from the period as well as documentaries made decades later, joining Facebook groups and following people on Twitter who are interested in vintage aircraft. If this were a piece of academic writing rather than fiction, I hate to think how high a number I would have reached in marking my reference notes!
There is so much information available out there! As someone who didn’t have internet access until University, I remain amazed at how easy it is to access archived data. Everything from the dates which Teddy’s squadron moved from one posting to another, and which day of the week they were, to the Met Office weather reports (or at least monthly summaries) for each region of the British Isles during the 20th century (yes, I really did check if the weather in January 1942 was such that Teddy would be ok sitting talking for a while wearing nothing but pyjama bottoms in a minimally-heated room).

3) If you can visit places in real life, do
It was nearly 20 years ago now, but I have been down a coal mine – Big Pit, in South Wales – and my descriptions of Huw’s home village are based on what I remember of the villages clinging to the sides of Welsh valleys. I found it much easier to write the scenes in his family home after visiting Beamish in County Durham – another mining area – and their preserved ‘1900s Pit Village’, than just from reading descriptions and watching documentaries, however good they were. Most importantly, though, I visited the Sunderland flying boat preserved at RAF Museum London. Although one is not able to access the upper deck of this aircraft, I saw enough to realise that I had mis-understood part of the internal layout, and swiftly launched into re-writing at least one pivotal scene!

Sunderland+Sandra-sm

The author with the Sunderland at the RAF Museum

4) Sometimes, things are easier than you think they will be
There was a long gap between writing this story and pitching it to a publisher. Several years. Mostly, that’s because it’s not a romance. My characters refused to comply with any romance tropes, and therefore left me contemplating a much smaller group of possible publishers than I had initially hoped. I used the time to learn more about the industry, to keep my ears open to any information about working with various publishers, and most importantly to continually improve my craft.
When I finally decided to approach Manifold Press, and booked a pitch slot with them at UK Meet, I was unbelievably nervous, and assumed I would have a ‘hard sell’. I should have trusted that my research and instincts about their priorities would be correct. Although we both started off a little tentatively, within minutes we seemed to simply be enthusing at each other about writing and story, and history… and I opened my mouth without thinking and said “and of course, even though the story finishes at the end of the war, we ourselves know that doesn’t mean they will have a happy ever after, with everything which happened during the middle of the 20th century, and even inheritance tax might… Oh!”
I probably should have thought beforehand whether or not I wanted to write a sequel…
Similarly, I expected the cover to need several attempts before we found a compromise both I and the publisher were happy with – and I never really expected to get a picture of a Sunderland right there. But that’s what they offered on the very first version, and not only that but the whole image subtly shows the mood of the story.
Maybe I’m just incredibly lucky, or maybe it’s the decade I’ve spent hanging around with LGBTQ+ fiction and authors. Either way, I’ve got a damn great silly grin on my face and can’t wait to hear what other people make of my book.

COVER IDEAS 4

Under Leaden Skies
Love. Loss. Betrayal. Forgiveness. Honour. Duty. Family.

In 1939, the arrival of war prompted ‘Teddy’ Maximilian Garston to confess his love to his childhood friend, Huw Roberts. Separated by duty – Teddy piloting Sunderland flying boats for RAF Coastal Command, and Huw deep underground in a South Wales coal mine – their relationship is frustrated by secrecy, distance, and the stress of war that tears into every aspect of their lives.

After endless months of dull patrols, a chance encounter over the Bay of Biscay will forever change the course of Teddy’s life. On returning to Britain, how will he face the consequences of choices made when far from home? Can he find a way to provide for everyone he loves, and build a family from the ashes of wartime grief?


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

Labyrinth Cover Revealed!

I’m wondering when I can replace the place-holder covers on my website, but thinking ‘not yet’. This is an exclusive for Love Bytes Book Reviews after all, and I don’t want to steal their thunder. All I can say is, if you would like to be among the first to see the new cover, nip over there to see it. They are having a giveaway of a $10 Riptide voucher to one of the commenters, so that’s cool too 🙂 I almost commented myself and then I thought “No, that would probably be weird.”

Knossos_fresco_women By cavorite - http://www.flickr.com/photos/cavorite/98591365/in/set-1011009/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1350752

(All the ladies in Knossos are talking about it.)

Isn’t it gorgeous though? I’m so pleased! I sent Riptide’s art department a link to my Labyrinth Pinterest board for reference, and they sensibly decided that they probably weren’t going to find stock photos that were anywhere near right. So they handed me over to Simoné, who had previously done the gorgeous cover for The Crimson Outlaw

18th Century Romania
when finding pictures suitable for 18th Century Romania also proved impossible. I’m so glad they did, because there’s something especially wonderful about illustrated covers, and it does mean you can have exactly what you want on them.

It might not be instantly obvious, if you’re not a Minoan expert already, but one of the great things about the cover for Labyrinth is that this is a picture of Kikeru on a female day, wearing the Minoan equivalent of a nice dress. Kikeru spends a lot of the book being visibly queer by the standards of their own society, and in my opinion also visibly awesome, so it’s good to have both of those things on the cover.

The existence of Minoan genderqueerness is more or less historical, in the sense that a number of their artifacts show people who seem to have mixed gender characteristics. These artifacts have puzzled historians and archaeologists for some time, in the same way that graves containing female bones and swords have puzzled them – more because the historians were boggled by the unconscious limits to their own world view than because the artifacts themselves are particularly mysterious. But that’s another blog post for another time.

In the mean time, look at my lovely covers! I’ve got to write a third really obscure setting now, just in a quest to get a trilogy of weird historicals with gorgeous covers by Simoné.


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

Labyrinth Available for Pre-order

Well, it’s been a long while since I last had something new out. I’ve actually been working away behind the scenes for most of that time, and I have six new things to offer in total. (Number six is on chapter 31 of 36, so I’m counting it as near to finished as makes no odds. Barring acts of God and accidental death, I expect it to be finished in August.)

It’s always a bit frustrating when you’re beavering away and yet as far as the rest of the world is concerned, you’re doing nothing. So I’m delighted and relieved to be able to announce the near arrival of the first of the six. This one is Labyrinth – a historical novella set in Minoan Crete, featuring genderqueer inventor Kikeru, bisexual ship owner Rusa, Kikeru’s ace mum Maja and Rusa’s aromantic daughter Jadikira.

I have seen cover art and it is truly awesome. I can’t express how pleased I am with it. However, I also can’t show it to you yet because Riptide want to be the ones who reveal it to the world. So here is a flirty little glimpse of the upper right hand corner!

Labyrinth_Teaser

Kikeru, the child of a priestess at the sacred temple of Knossos in ancient Crete, believes that the goddesses are laughing at him. They expect him to choose whether he is a man or a woman, when he’s both. They expect him to choose whether to be a husband to a wife, or a celibate priestess in the temple, when all he wants to do is invent things and be with the person he loves.

Unfortunately, that person is Rusa, the handsome ship owner who is most decidedly a man and therefore off-limits no matter what he chooses. And did he mention that the goddesses also expect him to avert war with the Greeks?

The Greeks have an army. Kikeru has his mother, Maja, who is pressuring him to give her grandchildren; Jadikira, Rusa’s pregnant daughter; and superstitious Rusa, who is terrified of what the goddesses will think of him being in love with one of their chosen ones.

It’s a tall order to save Crete from conquest, win his love, and keep both halves of himself. Luckily, at least the daemons are on his side.

~

I must do a post about the research that went into it, because it certainly seems like a lovely place to have lived, and you can’t say that about many ancient civilizations. I must also go and put up a page for it on my website!

And lastly of all, I ought to mention that it’s now available for pre-order here 🙂

 


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

Writing Asexual Characters

Hwaet! I was on Twitter the other day when I intercepted a tweet from Dvorah saying “My next book is going to feature an asexual character, so if anyone has suggestions for what to do/not to do, I’d love to talk about it!”

My first thought was “I am an asexual and I have written a novel featuring an asexual character, which several people have told me represented the ace experience recognizably well. I could probably help!” So I said as much. Dvorah said “I’m mainly trying to get a sense of any big Nonos for writing ace, and the commonalities among differing experiences,” which struck me as something I could do, so I started typing out my first thoughts on the subject.

But then my second thoughts were “but I already know that I can’t speak for all aces any more than one person could speak for all straight people.” I’ve been in enough inter-ace disputes by now to know that we’re really diverse as a grouping.

So then I thought “Well, perhaps what I should do is type up my own thoughts, and then put the whole thing on my blog so that other aces could join in and speak up for themselves.” And that’s where I find myself now.

Below is my response to the initial query, unfiltered through my second thoughts, but I invite any other aces who might be reading to weigh in with their own takes, and either correct me, back me up, or add things I’ve overlooked, as necessary.

cropped-ABheart1.jpg

Off the top of my head I would say the things to avoid were any assumption that an ace character must be inhuman in some way – where we are depicted at all it’s often as robots or aliens or childlike innocent beings whose understanding of the complexities of life are poor. We’re not cold and unemotional. We’re not incapable of having crushes and starry eyed romantic feelings (unless we’re also aromantic, which presumably isn’t the case for your character.)

On the other side of things we are missing that orientation towards sex with other people that other orientations have. So we’re unlikely to ever be checking anyone out, sexually. We’re usually going to be completely unaware of how others react to us sexually. We’ll put on nice clothes to look smart and well dressed, and be surprised when that equates to other people as ‘trying to look sexy’ – because sexiness is just not on our minds as a thing to be aware of.

If someone else is wearing a ‘sexy’ outfit, I would probably be like ‘are you sure you’re comfortable in that? Doesn’t all that leather kind of chafe?’ And they’ll be ‘but look at my butt!’ and I’ll be ‘Yeah, it’s a butt. It holds up your legs. So?’ Because to me there’s nothing sexy about sexy clothes or sexy body parts. They’re neutral, like pieces of furnature. They might be pretty, like a particularly nice carpet or lawn chair, but they’re not something to get sexually worked up about.

I personally don’t like dirty jokes or innuendo. It jolts me, because every time it happens it reminds me that human life is driven by this big dumb stupid factor that isn’t even all that important. Every time, it smacks me in the face with the fact that I’m abnormal because I’m missing something that everyone else has. (But I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I don’t want it for myself, I just wish people would stop rubbing my face in it all the time.)

On the other hand, I know there are aces out there who are fascinated by dirty jokes. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s in a spirit of research or something. You’d have to ask them.

When I wrote Aidan from Blue Steel Chain, I wrote him without a sexual fantasy life, because I didn’t want readers who were unaware of things like autochorissexualism to get confused about how someone who was asexual could have fantasies that involved other people boning. But surveys of slash writers and queer romance writers seem to indicate there’s a large number of aces for whom sharing the sexuality of imaginary characters is – I can’t think of a better way to put this – is the closest thing they come to having a sexuality of their own. (I’m only allowing myself to say this, because I’m in this group, so I’m talking about myself.)

It still doesn’t mean we find actual people sexually attractive, mind you. If offered the chance to somehow become part of that fictional world and join in, I would go “ew, no!” Because I’m not actually attracted to either of those people. I’m just imaginatively sharing an experience that I personally don’t have and can’t have in any other way.

So what I’m saying here is that there are aces who have a sexual fantasy life, and there are aces who don’t. It’s just their sexual fantasy life almost certainly doesn’t feature themself having sex with anyone.

Equally, there are aces who masturbate and aces who don’t. Masturbation doesn’t involve finding another person sexually attractive, so your character wouldn’t have to turn in his ace card at the door if it’s something that he did. He just probably wouldn’t be thinking about any real life people – not even his lover – while he was doing it.

However, I’d also say that a level of sex-revulsion is quite common. It’s normal for a person to have a cycle of responsiveness from “we could do sex if you wanted” to “don’t even talk about that gross stuff in the same room as me,” in the same way that presumably allosexual people are not equally up for it all the time.

This is one reason why we insist that it’s an orientation rather than a behaviour, btw, because it’s not about what you do, it’s about the way you think and the things you notice and value in the world. Some aces can actually enjoy the act of sex – because an orgasm will happen if sex is done well and all your bits are in working order, and an orgasm is… nice. It’s enjoyable. But the drive to have sex is not there. It’s entirely possible for an ace to have great sex with someone they love the night before, and still wake up in the morning with no feeling that sex is important or valuable or that they particularly want to have it again. There are many more important things to be concentrating on.

We’re also no more a group-think than any other orientation, so you’ll have aces who are outgoing and bubbly and cuddly and fascinated with everyone’s relationships and great at giving advice, through to aces who are introverted and touch-averse and really love Star Wars. The second sort are the stereotype at present, so if your character is like that, you may get accused of writing a stereotype. However, I am the second sort, so you wouldn’t actually be wrong.

In a similar way, you’re going to get stick whether or not you show the ace character having sex with the non-ace character. A lot of aces will be “oh, fuck it, why are we always the ones who have to compromise? Why can’t the allo-sexual character give up sex for the ace instead?!” And a lot of other ones will be “I’ve had a happy 20 year relationship with my partner. Sex is not that important so why wouldn’t I occasionally do it to please the one I love?”

I am also the second sort in this hypothesis, but I can see the first people’s point. It is vanishingly rare to see a love story where the ace doesn’t have to consent to sex. I think ace readers would find it immensely liberating to read a story where it was the allosexual partner who had to conform their expectations to what the ace character wanted rather than the other way around. OTOH, your allosexual readers are going to find that very challenging!

I think it’s interesting to write a romance where sex is the main conflict rather than a force pulling the characters together. You can’t just have the characters gravitating together by sexual chemistry – there have to be other reasons for why they would fall in love. Shared goals and perils, genuine admiration for each other’s characters, that kind of thing. And that kind of thing has to be compelling enough to counteract the fact that they have mismatched sexual needs. Also the mismatched sexual needs will need to be negotiated and renegotiated every time with continuing respect and love. That problem will never go away. It will always have to be managed and lived with, but it can be done successfully if the love is enough.

Heh. I don’t know if that helps. Now I read it back it sounds angrier than I expected. I thought I was very chill about it, but it turns out it can be quite alienating, living in a world where you just don’t get, at all, that one big thing that everyone else claims is a basic human drive.

Notice on Brighton beach

And with that I throw open the comments for anyone else who wants to weigh in or ask more questions 🙂


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

It’s time to talk about Space Opera. It’s a good time to talk about Space Opera, in fact, given that Star Wars roared back to life this year with The Force Awakens. While I did enjoy TFA, I also felt it was a bit of a re-tread of the Original Trilogy. I appreciated that our heroes were now a woman and a black man, and I found both characters endearing, but I didn’t feel there was much that was new in the storytelling. Maybe I should wait and see what the next film does with this underwhelming start before I carp, though. Maybe they’re deliberately setting up parallels so they can surprise us by how differently they develop them in the next one.

I wasn’t this critical about the first Star Wars. And when I say ‘the first Star Wars’ I mean Star Wars: A New Hope, which I went to see when it was first released. I put in my dues as a SW fan! I queued round the block in the rain to see ANH, and it was worth it. I still remember that shot of the Star Destroyer passing overhead – and passing – and passing – and passing – as one of the greatest moments of cinematic awe of my life. It was a moment that redefined the size of science fiction films. They’d been intimate and thoughtful before then. Now they were huge and fun and maybe not terribly scientific any more, but who cared because they still had aliens and spaceships, right?

Heh. I don’t want to get into the argument about whether space opera can be called science fiction or not, because (a) that’s a sidetrack to what I’m supposed to be talking about here, and (b) it isn’t. It’s a genre of its own, and it’s probably all the better for it.

But my massive digression up there is intended to establish that I’ve been a space opera fan for a very long time. I’ve also (I’ve only just realized) always been a complete sucker for scenes of beautiful ships being slowly revealed in all their glory. Three of my favourite franchises ever open with a ‘look at this beautiful ship’ scene – the Dauntless in Pirates of the Caribbean, the Star Destroyer in Star Wars, and Destiny in Stargate Universe. That’s probably all you’ve got to do to ensnare me, then – a glamourous shot of a big war machine, and I’m in.

Putting the second diversion aside, I’ll get to the point of this post, which is that I’ve been very silent recently. Partly due to my dad’s final illness, of course, but partly because I’ve been writing a space opera trilogy. It looks like I’m on course to finish the third book by the end of August, after which I will self publish them. It’s a bit of an experiment. The books are plain old fashioned adventure with alien cities and sentient planets and religious versus secular societies and extreme body modification and intergalactic threats to the future of the human race. There’s a bit of romance, but they aren’t Romances, if you know what I mean.

The main reason I’m not trying to get them published with mainstream publishers is that the heroes are queer – an asexual homoromantic couple, a lesbian couple and a bisexual man/butch straight woman who spends half the first book sex-changed and learns quite a lot about herself and her beliefs in the process.

While the queer romance community is doing great things providing queer romances, I’ve been hearing that people sometimes wanted books where queer people got to save the world. So that’s what these are.

Sadly self publishing means I’m left to my own devices when it comes to titles and cover art. Currently I’m thinking of them as the Lioness Series, comprising of Lioness of Cygnus Five, Heart of Cygnus Five and Pride of Cygnus Five. Final cover art not made yet, but this is a sneak peek at what I think they might look like if the photos I want are still available when I finally go to buy them:

Lioness Heartmockup Pridemockup

You have no idea how hard it is to find pictures of battle-hardened space-navy Latinas in their forties. Aurora is therefore way too young. But I’ve got to make do with what I can get!

 


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

The review of my career

This is the review I hold to my heart whenever the topic of “can women write stories about gay men – or rather ought they to?” comes around. I wrote Captain’s Surrender partly in order to show people that you didn’t have to choose between your sexuality and your faith, you could have both. I thought if even one person got that message, so that they could stop feeling damned and/or condemned, it would justify my writing the books that I wanted to write.

Well, this is that review.

I’m so thankful for it! There are times when I feel the pressure – I’m not gay enough, I’m not male enough, I’m not persecuted enough to speak for this community. (As it turns out, I’m not straight and I’m not female either, but that’s a different story.) And when those doubts strike, I remember this review in particular, and others like it I’ve had since, and I tell myself that nevertheless, I’m still not being entirely selfish in carrying on.


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

Introducing Jay Mountney

I know Jay from my old Livejournal days, but I didn’t know that she had been busily writing exactly the sort of books that I love to read. Seriously? Elves! Elven private investigators. Queer main characters? Right there in the middle of the Venn diagram with me, where m/m romance, Fantasy/Mystery and adventure overlaps. How did I not know about this before? I’m very excited therefore to be able to hand over to her:

scroll new title final for S

Hi! I’m Jay. I write a mixture of fantasy, m/m romance and crime. Seems like an odd combination? Well, most of my stories were originally written for my own entertainment and those are three genres I enjoy so it seemed reasonable to try putting them together. I have always told myself stories and I wanted to share them with a wider audience than my immediate friends.

I decided to self publish because my initial works were the wrong length or the wrong genre for publishers and because I was anxious to retain control over various aspects of the publication process. I use friends, met through online writing groups, as beta readers, editors and proof readers and trust them to do a good job. As an ex-English teacher I think I’m competent to judge their work but I know I shouldn’t trust myself to do my own editing – you read what you think you wrote!

I design my own covers, using photography (which is a hobby) and photoshopping techniques. I’m pleased with the results. I wanted to get away from the kind of cover that has the hero or heroine as the focus, and give a taste of the ‘world’ I was writing about. That’s partly to let my readers use their own imagination when picturing my characters and partly because I enjoy world building and hope it’s a strong aspect of my stories. I often dislike covers that have a sultry looking model, male or female, representing the main character – I want both more and less from a cover.

I also do my own formatting which is perhaps the hardest part of the entire self-publishing adventure. I ‘practised’ on three novella length publications before embarking on formatting my novels  but I have to tell you it doesn’t get any easier. I love writing, don’t mind rewrites, and hate formatting!

I’m aware that self publishing means a hard slog self marketing, but from what I can gather, this is becoming more and more true of mainstream publishing. And that’s why I’m so glad of the opportunity to talk to more people about my books.

My main novels are a series centred round a female detective-in-training. She’s an elf, on a world where humans and elves live in comparative harmony. Genef has two ‘side-kicks’ in time-honoured crime novel tradition. One is a young dragon, accidentally imprinted on her at his hatching, and the other is her gay brother, Fel. Scratch, the dragon, enables us to see Genef’s world through the eyes of a child though as the series progresses he is growing up – fast. Fel provides the romance interest (nothing explicit) for the series but his adventures are a sub-plot and the main story arc concerns Genef’s training and her gradual acquisition of the magical skills that give the series its name – The Skilled Investigators.

The first volume, The Scroll, deals with Genef’s acceptance into the guild of investigators and the successful though sad conclusion to her first murder case. She must leave home to live and work in the capital but in volume two, The Market, she has to travel overseas to unravel the theft of some royal jewels. There she becomes embroiled in further troubles involving murder and kidnapping which threaten her brother and her dragon. The third book, The Crown, sees her travelling again, to track down an important piece of royal jewellery that was not retrieved in The Market. This story has Scratch as a teenage dragon, acting alone for the first time and in some chapters becoming the focus of the narrative. This third book is written and is currently being edited. The first two are available on Amazon, and, for people who have an e-reader other than Kindle, on Smashwords.

The Scroll – on Amazon

The Scroll – on Smashwords

The Market

The Market – on Amazon

The Market – on Smashwords

There are six books planned altogether. Genef will return to the capital to investigate a murder nearby, then cross the border to a human kingdom in an undercover disguise. Finally, in the last book, she will return to her family home where yet another case awaits her and the possibility of romance, though her personal affairs will remain sidelined and merely a hope for the future. Fel, on the other hand, will find happiness within the series.

The books are mainstream and are hard to categorise. As I said, a mixture of genres! In a sense they follow a coming of age arc but are not specifically directed at a young adult market.

shalott title final 1563x2500

A couple of years ago I published two novellas and a book of short stories. These are all primarily m/m romance with some explicit passages. Whilst definitely ‘adult’ they are not really erotica. ‘The Lord of Shalott’ turns Tennyson’s poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’ on its head and explores the idea of the curse being the fact that the heir to Shalott was a boy who enjoyed wearing female clothing and was attracted to men. ‘Silkskin and the Forest People’ also twists legend. The basic tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is transferred to mediaeval Africa and the princess becomes a Zimbabwean prince. ‘Three Legends’ has an m/m version of a Northumbrian legend, an entirely invented ‘legend’ and a modern fairy story about a time thief.

You can find these via my author pages on Amazon and Smashwords. Because the books are ‘adult’ anyone looking on Smashwords should make sure the adult filter is off.

Jay Mountney on Amazon

Jay Mountney on Smashwords

You can read more about my books and my writing on my WordPress site. I’d be delighted to answer questions or just chat, about my writing or about self publishing, there or on Facebook.

https://jaymountney.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011794093032

 

Thanks for reading, and many thanks to Alex for hosting me!

 

 

 


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

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