Apologies for the utter, utter lack of blogging–my brain has truly not been in the game over the last few months. The Post-Lockdown, New-Me routine is aiming to post something every Tuesday if everything works out with the kids going back to school etc.. And as a first post… DRUM ROLL…
Taking Stock is coming on 19th September!
It’s 1972 and Laurie is a farmer with a problem. He’s had a stroke and he can’t work his farm alone any more. Phil is running away from London and the professional suspicion that surrounds him at his City job. They’re both alone and unsure what the future holds. Can they forge a new life together with their makeshift found family in Laurie’s little village?
Today, I have all the info about James, Earl of Crofton by Rebecca Cohen for your reading delight!
James Redbourn, Viscount of Crofton, enjoys all the pleasures King Charles II’s Restoration court affords him. His encounter with the enigmatic Chivalrous Highwayman in Epping Forest, sets the court aflame. Tales of the charming rogue treating his latest victim with his usual gentle hand has ladies’ fans quivering with every whisper.
While the Chivalrous Highwayman is a delicious fantasy, it is the intriguing Adam Dowson, the son of one of the greatest Cavalier generals, who is firing James’s daytime desires. Their friendship might be growing stronger, but Adam seems to be one of the few men who is impervious to James’s charms, no matter how hard James tries.
When James’s father become deathly ill, James races home. He is ill-prepared to become the 4th Earl of Crofton, and his father’s vague but dire warnings on his deathbed only make matters worse. Now the earl, James must discover what is happening at Crofton Hall that had troubled his father so deeply.
James turns to Adam for help. Despite Adam’s own secrets, James trusts him. James hopes he’s not making a mistake, risking his family estate, and his already bruised heart. Together, they need to work to clear out the rotten core at Crofton Hall, and along the way secure a happy future for them both.
James, Earl of Crofton by Rebecca Cohen
Release Date: April 10, 2020 Length: Novel / ~86,000 words Pairing / Genre(s) / Keyword(s): M/M Historical Romance
Three loud bangs on the roof of the coach made James jump in his seat and Tilly gasp and clutch his arm. If it weren’t for her gleeful grin he’d have thought she’d grabbed him for comfort.
“If you would be so kind, step out of the carriage, my lord and lady.”
If James was not mistaken, the voice belonged to an educated man, or at least one intelligent enough to make himself sound like one. James could hear nothing in the words to suggest whereabouts he came from in the country. His soft tones could have easily slipped into a conversation at court.
“Stay here,” insisted James.
“I will not,” said Tilly, indignant, her eyes flashing with annoyance. “I know you far too well, James Redbourn. If anyone is going to claim the right to brag over the Chivalrous Highwayman, it will be me.”
REBECCA COHEN spends her days dreaming of a living in a Tudor manor house, or a Georgian mansion. Alas, the closest she comes to this is through her characters in her historical romance novels. She also dreams of intergalactic adventures and fantasy realms, but because she’s not yet got her space or dimensional travel plans finalised, she lives happily in leafy Hertfordshire, England, with her husband and young son. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and sloe gin with lemon tonic in the other.
Thank you so much to Sarah for this piece on writing gender diverse characters (and for being so kind about my own work!)
I love adventure stories (especially adventure stories including ferocious tigers). I love creepy paranormal mysteries. I love romance (especially queer romance). And I love, big, sloppy, loyal dogs.
A.L. Lester’s THE FLOWERS OF TIME has each of these things,
which made me a Very Happy Reader. ™ But if you sat me down and said,
“Sarah, tell us your most favorite thing about this, the third book
in Lester’s LOST IN TIME series?” I would reply, without hesitation,
Jones. The non-binary, dog loving, code-breaking, magic-wielding,
one-half of our romantic pair. (The other half being Edie, whom I adored as
well, especially for her* stubbornness and petticoats). But. JONES. Jones made
me laugh, and Jones made me cry. Because I am a non-binary person, and in
Jones’ fear that she might somehow be broken, in Jones’ sometimes unrecognition
of her face in a mirror, in Jones’ distress over her menstruation and lack of
Well. In Jones I saw myself. And for that I’m grateful.
Although publishing is finally beginning to catch up and
catch on, finding well-written stories with well-written gender diverse
characters can still be difficult. Many of my favorites I have discovered
through word of mouth, rather than Big 5 marketing. This may be because I am
super picky about how I connect with gender diverse characters, or it may be
because there is still a tendency to rely on tropes when writing about a
character whose gender identity lies outside the ‘cultural norm’.
I’m not saying that tropes can’t be fun. Nor am I implying
that I haven’t fallen into the trope trap myself. As a fantasy author, I’ve
written my share of non-binary faeries.
What I am saying is: let’s hold Jones up as an example and try
to do better.
“But Sarah,” you may argue, “writing gender
diversity can be hard, and frightening. Even as a gender diverse author.
Everyone has a different experience. What if I do it wrong?”
We all get it wrong occasionally (see non-binary faeries)
but if we’re too afraid to dip a toe then certainly we’ll never get it right.
So, here are three helpful tips to keep in mind going forward:
Your character’s gender diversity is 100 percent NOT their defining characteristic. Take Jones. She’s an extremely well-rounded and believable character with passions and fears that have absolutely nothing to do with being non-binary. Which is fantastic. Because so do I!
Gender identity, gender expression, sexuality and physical sex are different things. I didn’t write Jones, so I don’t know all her secrets, so here I’ll use an example from my latest book, EARNEST INK. Hemingway, my MC, is trans masc. He thinks of himself as male (gender identity) he prefers to present himself as male (gender expression) and he’s sexually attracted to any gender (pansexual). He hasn’t yet opted for gender confirming surgery, he is on T, and if you asked him about his physical sex he’d probably punch you in the face because: rude. As a writer, knowing a character’s gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, and physical sex helps to make for more believable, well-rounded character motivation.
Talk to gender diverse people. Educate yourself about experience. Lean on your gender diverse friends and your sensitivity readers. But do so politely. A good example: “Hey, Sarah, I’m writing a non-binary character, but as a gay cis male with zero non-binary experience, I have questions. You seem to be pretty open about discussing your gender. Would you mind weighing in?” Sure thing. Thanks for asking so nicely. Hit me up any time.
*In 1782 there were no they/them pronoun options, so I will
refer to Jones as she does herself.
Sarah Remy/Alex Hall is a nonbinary, animal-loving, proud gamer Geek. Their work can be found in a variety of cool places, including HarperVoyager, EDGE and NineStar Press.
Here in the UK, it’s Boxing Day. In my household it’s a more relaxed Christmas Day, where we eat left-overs and play with our new toys. The name comes from the tradition of giving your servants and tradesmen a ‘Christmas Box’, either food, gifts or cash.
In 1710, Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, complained:
By the Lord Harry, I shall be undone here with Christmas boxes. The rogues of the coffee-house have raised their tax, every one giving a crown, and I gave mine for shame, besides a great many half-crowns to great men’s porters!
It was pronounced a Bank Holiday day by Queen Victoria in the second half of the nineteenth century, but there’s been an association with alms-giving for centuries before Pepys wrote about it- the 26th is also St Stephen’s Day, the Feast of Stephen as per the carol. St Stephen was the first Christian martyr. He was in charge of handing out alms to the poor and when he got cross with people for not contributing enough, they stoned him to death. So Pepys and Swift got away lightly, really.
On the Isle of Man and in parts of Wales and Ireland- the Celtic edges of Europe- it’s also the day of The Hunting of the Wren. These days no wrens are harmed during the enactment of the ritual, which goes back to pre-Christian solstice celebrations and the story of the Goddess Arianrhod. Ren means King/Queen or Lord/Lady in Welsh, which gives more context to the story.
In my area the traditional Boxing Day hunts still meet with their red coats and their hounds and are countered by now equally traditional saboteurs.
I am curled up by the fire watching Mr AL and Talking Child play Super Mario Odyssey and considering whether to eat more cold roast potatoes.
People who read my newsletter will already know that I have a new project in the works.
I am starting an episodic sequel to my short story The Gate that I’m going to make available as a serial for newsletter subscribers. It’s got a working title of Inheritance of Shadows and I’m going to share a piece monthly. The idea is that I share what I write and then when it’s done it will be published as a novel. It feels a bit exposed – I discovery write and half the time I don’t know what my characters are going to do before they do it. It’s a chance for readers to watch a work-in-progress develop as well as getting the next installment every month.
It will be edited as I go along and will hopefully produce a relatively clean draft that I can revise in to a polished novel at the end of the project.
The Gate was only ever intended as a short story introducing my universe and my historical-romance-paranormal-time-travel-suspense Lost in Time series. Although it’s complete in itself I have always had a niggling need to find out what happens next to Matty and Rob, and a very unscientific poll of newsletter readers backed that up.
This is a huge thing for me – I’m very pressed for time generally speaking and actually having a deadline every month-ish is a scary concept on top of all my other commitments. It may not work, but I’m keen to find out if I can manage it.