Hello, and welcome to 2022! I have aspirations and intentions of doing more regular blogging about my books and writing this year, so I thought it’d be great to start out with what I’m hoping to write and publish this year.
(As always, my newsletter gets all the news first, including some additional details that won’t be on the blog. Also some extra scenes or short stories from time to time as I’m inspired to write them.)
(2021 was an amazing year! The Fossil Door, Eclipse, Fool’s Gold, Sailor’s Jewel, Complementary, and Winter’s Charms all came out thanks to my being home a lot more. I’m expecting my writing speed to drop a bit in 2022, but I also have a lot of things I want to write, so I’ve got some ambitious goals.)
(Likely) coming out in 2022:
I’m hoping to release 4 books and 2 novellas in 2022. Because of the way I draft and edit, three of the four novels already exist in draft (or will within a week or so, I’m finishing one of them right now.) My goal is to hit the months indicated, but it’s a changeable world out there, so dates may shift somewhat in the process.
The Hare and the Oak: A later-in-life romance featuring Cyrus Smythe-Clive (seen in Sailor’s Jewel as Rhoe’s older brother, and briefly in Carry On and Eclipse). When Lord Baddock shows up at the Council Keep looking for help, Cyrus and Mabyn Teague (seen briefly at the end of Eclipse) need to figure out why the land magics are failing, find a lost heir, deal with Lord Baddock’s difficult mother, and decide how much they’re willing to trust each other. Out sometime in February 2022.
Point By Point: Lydia needs to make a name for herself as a journalist, but she needs an entry point into the right social circles to investigate a particular story. When Galen (last seen in In The Cards) agrees to help, they’re drawn into a world of horse racing and dangerous secret societies. Fortunately, with the help of the Dwellers in the Forge, including Martin (Galen’s best friend), they’re able to find a way through. (Alternately, ever wonder about the aftermath of Magician’s Hoard? This is also about what happened next.) Out in May 2022.
Mistress of Birds: When Thalia’s great-aunt needs a rest cure, Thalia agrees to stay at her estate on the edge of Dartmoor to keep an eye on the place. (Thalia’s career as an author isn’t going very well, so getting room and board doesn’t exactly hurt.) Once there, she discovers a mysterious man in the apple orchard, and a series of odd and spooky events around the ancient house. Out in August 2022. Last book in the Mysterious Powers series.
Also coming out in 2022 if all goes well are three things that I haven’t written yet…
In the writing stack
When I wrote Eclipse, my editor Kiya left a note at one point saying “I now sort of want the buddy cop story in which Alexander and Carillon team up to utterly destroy a munitions smuggler.” Every single one of my early readers (all friends) left comments wondering how they could encourage that to happen. Since I can take a hint, I started thinking about how to make it work.
Best Foot Forward is going to be the result. Here’s the trick: while it’s about friendship and chosen family, and caring about other people, it’s not actually a romance. (Alexander is both asexual and aromantic. He doesn’t have the terms for either, though he’d grab them with both hands if he could.) Carillon, mind, is still very happily married to Lizzie (see Goblin Fruit and On The Bias), so there’s going to be some needful conversations and sorting out what to do about this man who is, in other ways, very much Carillon’s type.
I’m going to start writing this one in February, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a grand set of adventures across the Contintent in 1935. (Probably mostly Germany and Switzerland, but I reserve the right to change my mind later if I have a better idea.) It should be out in November 2022.
I’ve been saying I didn’t want to get into the Second World War, but having had this idea, it feels wrong to just do one book in the time period. I have now laid out the bones of two more books (to make a trilogy). Chances are decent there will eventually be some surrounding novellas, too.
The second book doesn’t have a title yet, but it’s going to deal with Gabe and Rathna (from The Fossil Door) in 1940 and focus largely around their relationships with their apprentices and communities. Why? For a lot of the book, they’re going to be in different places. (Yay for magical journals and direct speedy communication? Makes a long-distance relationship so much easier.)
Also, it will be full of land magic, the Magical Battle of Britain from Albion’s perspective, and a bit more portal magic applied in service of getting people to safety. I plan to start writing this one in August 2022 and it will be out in May of 2023 if all goes well.
The third book? Well, for the moment, let’s just say that sitting down to work out the next generation (i.e. who of my extant characters had kids in the late 20s and 30s, and what’s going on with their families) led to an idea that is also decidedly not a romance.
It is, however, set at Schola. (I’ll be sharing more with my mailing list about this, first, so check in there if you want more details.) I don’t plan to start writing this one until February of 2023.
Now that I’ve finished a second series of 1920s books, I need to start a new one, right? I’ve got all these secret societies attached to Schola, and only one of them has gotten any serious time on the page (the Dwellers at the Forge, in both In the Cards and the forthcoming Point By Point.)
I haven’t actually sketched out the details of this series yet in more than very broad strokes, but they’ll
a) Take place during the 1920s (or maybe the Great War)
b) Each book will have at least one main character who’s a member of one of the seven secret societies.
c) Each will focus on some sort of art (or craft) – I’m thinking about things like music and dance and theatre, but also considering things like bookbinding, perfume making, illusion performances, jewellery making, or dyecrafting. If you have something you’d love me to think about, drop me a note via the contact form or email.
Once I figure out the sequence, my plan is to write one in May 2022, and one in November, with them coming out in 2023. (I normally write over a 3 month period, and then it sits for a bit before I edit. This is why I can be fairly predictable about release dates, if you’d been wondering that…)
I’ve been chewing on a prequel novella about Carillon inheriting the title for a while, and in December finally figured out how to structure it properly. It will be a freebie for signing up for my mailing list (you’re always able to immediately unsubscribe if you’d rather…) and I’ll announce it here and on social media when it’s available. I expect it to have a lot of Carillon and Benton, and also spend some time with how Carillon, Richard and Alysoun Edgarton, Giles Lefton, and Hippolyta FitzRanulf connect to each other. This one’s set in 1921.
Time and energy allowing, I’m also hoping to do a prequel novella for the Mysterious Powers series, focusing on how Roland Gospatrick’s parents (seen in Carry On) decided to marry each other, and how that started.
I’m aiming for the Carillon novella to be out sometime over the summer, and the Gospatrick one sometime after that.
I have somehow written a lot of books! I know it can be confusing to figure out who’s in which book, or the complete timeline, or where things are located.
Help is on the way, however. I spent my vacation time over the holidays working on a solution. It needs some more hours to get everything sorted the way I want, but I’m expecting to be able to share the core of it starting in January or maybe February. Keep an eye on my newsletter for more (including a sneak peek) and let me know if there’s a topic you’d particularly like me to cover.
(Or for that matter, if there’s something you’d like me to blog about. I’m aiming for every fortnight, aka every two weeks, and I’m going to start with some “Idea to book” posts.)
Hello to winter! (At least in New England, where I am.) Time to curl up on the couch with a good book? Winter’s Charms is a collection of three seasonal novellas that centre around the winter holidays.
I’d known since I wrote Eclipse that I wanted to spend more time both with Seth and Golshan and Dilly, and exploring some of the further mysteries of Schola. Several readers had also said they were very interested in these things. Add in a bit of Kate and Giles and their glorious banter, and you have a collection!
Casting Nasturtiums is about how Seth finds his best friend Golshan after the Great War. (MMF polyamorous romance, mentioned briefly in Eclipse).
This is the novella that came bursting out of my head from the opening scene, and the three of them continue to delight me. Seth’s fierceness, Golshan’s bafflement, and Dilly’s resolute good humour just make me smile (and sometimes cry) every time.
Country Manners finds Kate and Giles (from Wards of the Roses) visiting his grandmother and his family for the winter holidays in 1921. It’s a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, they also discover a small mystery.
I love Kate and Giles, and their comfort with each other here. (They have a great line in banter, sometimes.) This also answers the question of “How did Kate get that Pleasing Token she’s wearing in Outcrossing, and what is a Pleasing Token, anyway?”
Chasing Legends explores some of the deeper magics of Schola, when a mysterious knock on the door of the great hall during a holiday feast leads to challenges and opportunities. This one features Thesan, Isembard from Eclipse and Pross and Ibis from Magician’s Hoard, along with other familiar faces.
What’s not to love about exploring the history of Schola and some of its particular enchantments? It’s also about claiming who you are, what you’ve done, and what you’re willing to do.
Get your copy from the usual places…
(If you think the seasonal collection is fun, let me know. I’m contemplating a summer one, centred around the Summer Solstice faire, for 2023.)
Fool’s Gold came about partly because my editor said, “You haven’t done a villain redeemed yet. Robin would be a great candidate.”
Robin appears in Seven Sisters (and Fool’s Gold does contain references to, and thus some spoilers for the events of that book, though only in fairly broad strokes.) He also appears briefly in Wards of the Roses.
Since then, he’s been struggling. Closely monitored by his Aunts for more than two years, he’s finally freed to begin to rebuilding his life and work. He’s eager to get back to paints and inks, art and antiques, even if he’s still frustrated and unmoored by other parts of his life.
When he overhears a chance conversation about art forgery, he notices Beatrice.
Beatrice has lived with an inherited curse since she was a baby. Visible to her family but invisible to everyone else (or so she thought), she is startled when Robin addresses her. She wants to know more, and besides, Robin has some thoughts about the man who’s courting her cousin.
Come enjoy Fool’s Gold for a story about finding your way in the world, family expectations (both good and bad), a perky dragon, art and artists, and much more.
If you’ve read more than a couple of my books, chances are that you’ve noticed a number of them have characters who are what we’d now describe as neurodiverse.
Neurodiversity is a term that encompasses a lot of conditions or experiences of how people think and interact with the world. They can include a wide range of things we have some names for, and plenty of things we don’t.
Some you’ve probably heard of include autism, ADHD or ADD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dyspraxia Tourette’s Syndrome and some mental health conditions. Some estimates suggest that 30-40% of people fall into at least one of these categories (there can be overlaps, which make statistics harder…)
There’s also a huge range of experiences and ways this shows up for people. Each and every person has a unique brain and set of life experiences. All sorts of factors like family support or expectations, educational support, professional support and guidance (if testing and/or medication is part of the picture) make a difference in what it means for an individual.
We also know that while the term ‘neurodiversity’ is quite modern (it was coined in the late 1990s by Australian sociologist Judy Singer), that neurodiverse folks have been part of the world since, well, there were people.
For example, John Donvan and Caren Zucker wrote In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, a history of autism. As part of their research they discovered records from the mid-1800s that pretty clearly describe what we’d call autism today, and they talk about some earlier examples where there are less thorough notes.
One theory about why we see more people with these diagnoses or identifications these days is that modern society is a great deal more complex. Most people are asked – as part of ordinary daily life – to deal with a huge range of different situations and stimuli and expectations.
These include plenty of different noises (traffic, sirens, background music in every store ….), bright lights, dealing both with people who are well-known and a lot of total strangers (especially in the kind of work often open to people who are either still in school or are figuring out what they want to do with their lives.)
Modern life often expects us to reach a certain level of skill with a huge range of things, rather than being focused on a small number. Just think about all the skills someone needs to be competent in for a high school diploma – not just the subjects themselves, but technology skills, a certain amount of social skill (all those group projects…), and often many other non-academic expectations like community service.
It’s a big difference to the historical past. Even fifty years ago, many (though certainly not all) people might live much or all of their life in their home area or around people they’d mostly known from childhood. Even people who travelled or emigrated often did it in a context where they knew people with them, or where a situation was entirely new and challenging for everyone. Or it had some sort of structure to the expectations. In those cases, working through the situation could be more transparent and shared by everyone.
In addition, some people have an easier time than others of interacting in neurotypical society (or seeming to work with those expectations, anyway). Others have a much harder time. For people where the effort of doing so isn’t obvious, others may not realise what’s going on inside their head. They may only talk about it with a few close friends or family members. They might not talk about it much with anyone at all.
In my books
At this point, I’ve published five books that have neurodiverse characters. Three of them probably wouldn’t define themselves as being notably different from other people, but those experiences and how their minds work definitely shapes their interactions with the world and their stories.
On The Bias features Thomas Benton, who went into service in a great country house at age twelve. It’s clear from his comments several times in the book that he found the structure and clear expectations very reassuring. A country house ran rather like clockwork: each person had their set of duties and knew the expected standards they had to meet. Even the social interactions were laid out pretty clearly – who you socialised with below stairs, what you did on your afternoon off, what the next step in advancement would involve.
Benton eventually became a valet, and then was thrown into the chaos of the trenches of World War I. He did his best to become very competent at what he could control (he is, for example, extremely good at charms to heat up water – a comfort in the trenches.) Once he came into the sphere of Lord Geoffrey Carillon, there was someone he could look to (in a socially expected and structured way) for what he should be doing, and how to do it. At the same time, his attention to detail and a certain determined focus on his work meant he was a superb valet for an adventuring younger nobleman. He trusted Carillon would explain what was needed on the adventuring side, and then he set about making it happen.
Cadmus Michaels, in Seven Sisters is in somewhat of the same position. While he has his strong interests and his preferences for how things are done, he happened to be born into a life where those things fit with what was expected of him. Mostly. A man of his class and education is permitted a bit of eccentricity, after all. If the money is there, being a somewhat reclusive classicist is an entirely acceptable mould for a man. Even his time in the Colonial Service was largely expected, and a place where the needed skills and social expectations were well-known.
Gabe Edgarton in The Fossil Door is the exception in my list above. He – and his family – are quite clear his mind isn’t like most people’s. While Gabe doesn’t have a term like ADHD to work with, he knows he skitters around between ideas, that he’ll make startling choices. And he definitely should not be left entirely alone with his impulses without some moderating influence.
He was lucky enough to have parents who didn’t entirely understand how he thought, but who made sure he had the support to figure it out for himself. He didn’t go to tutoring school (common for people of his class and privilege). Instead various of the adults in his life made sure he got additional resources for learning. He bounces around too much from topic to topic to make friends easily, but in among people who also love the endless puzzle, he does fine. Better than fine.
Thesan Wain in Eclipse is possibly the character where it’s least obvious. When reading her point of view chapters, it becomes obvious that sometimes the world is too fast and too bright and too complicated for her to sort out right in the moment. Stars, her beloved field, are very far away and don’t generally move quickly at all. The others in her field tend to appreciate steady reliable work and a certain obsessive focus on detail.
However, if you were to ask her about it, I think she’d blink a lot. From inside her head, many of the things she struggles with are about issues of class, expectations she doesn’t fully understand (often related to class and social niceties), and the eternal question of dealing with widely varying students. That these things also are partly about neurodiversity, well… that’s why sorting this out gets complicated.
The last published work so far is Complementary, a novella about Elizabeth Mason, which makes it clear that she (like Gabe) is somewhere in this set of experiences. She is, perhaps, slightly less likely to fling herself out a window as a resolution to a problem. (Though compared to Gabe that’s not a high bar to get over.) But she is a tad impulsive, a very non-linear thinker and problem-solver, but capable of intensive focus. She’s also very used to working with people who tolerate or even admire her admittedly many quirks and preferences.
In Casting Nasturtiums, a novella due out in December 2021, Golshan Soltani also has what we’d call ADHD, and before that novella begins, has funnelled it into a mix of duelling, Materia training, and running a music hall with its endless challenges. When injuries during the Great War change what’s practical for him, he has to rearrange a whole lot of expectations about how to handle the bees in his head.
Why does this matter?
As with much of my other writing, I want to write books where people like me, like my friends and loved ones, get to have romance and love. Where they get to have adventures and come safely home. (And have a home that is safe to come to…)
That’s as true when we’re talking about how someone’s mind works as their body.
I owe many things to my editor, Kiya Nicoll (an author in their own right), who is also a long-time friend. But I especially owe them a lot of thanks for helping me figure out how to best show the neurodiversity of my characters on the page. And also for nudging me to write this post in part to highlight Thesan, in particular, as a model of neurodiversity that often goes unremarked.
Sailor’s Jewel is set in 1901, during a November crossing of the Atlantic on The Moonstone, a luxury magical ocean liner.
Rhoe is about to take up a new and challenging position at the Temple of Healing. Her parents have persuaded Cyrus, her brother, to take her on one last pleasant voyage in hopes of changing her mind about a few of those commitments. Cyrus, a member of Albion’s Council, has his own worries, but he’s looking forward to a trip with the sister he rarely gets much time with.
Hugh Pelagius has been working his way up in the family business, learning all the pieces that go into every voyage. This trip, for the first time, his duties are to socialise with the first-class passengers and make sure everything goes smoothly.
When a magical jewel Cyrus is conveying to Boston causes problems, Rhoe and Hugh must work together with Cyrus and others to keep the ship safe and take care of everyone on board.
Get your copy now for pelagic mermaids, magical gems, and shipboard life:
Where this book fits into my other stories:
Anything else you want to know?
You can check out my content notes page for some additional details.
I spent last night staring at my computer screen in utter delight (and a fair bit of ‘wait, is this real?’), due to the lovely comments on the latest Whatcha Reading? (May 2021, part 2) post from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.
Thank you so much to Catherine and all the other commenters who’ve said such kind and glowing things about my books. I’m ecstatic that people have enjoyed them for all the reasons I hoped people would. I’ve been a reader at SBTB for many years (sometime before 2010), and it’s one of my go-to sites for discovering new books, with thoughtful commentary about a wide range of books.
The comments there did make it clear I really ought to add some information to my website, though.
If you’d like to try out my books, you can get my first book, Outcrossing, for free by signing up for my newsletter. (It’s my first book, and I’ve learned a lot about writing since then. I recommend Pastiche as a starting point to see what I think my books do best.)
I have a page of questions and answers, talking about:
- Reading order (see below)
- Where you can get my books
- Getting my books from your library
- What helps me most as an author
- Finding out about what’s coming next
- Why I’m (mostly) writing in the 1920s
- Why disability representation is a thing I care about.
- Where to learn more about historical tidbits
- What’s in my newsletter and why you might want to subscribe
- Why my books aren’t in Kindle Unlimited
- How to get in touch if you have other questions
The question I’ve been seeing most is about where to start. Taken from that questions page, here’s my answer as of May 2021.
You can read my books in any order. (One note: I do recommend reading Goblin Fruit before you read On The Bias.)
- If you’re someone who prefers internal chronological order, here’s a timeline.
- Start with Pastiche if you want to read just one of my books, and get a grand sense of what they’re like.
- Start with Carry On if you’d like to start with the current series.
- If you like a locked room murder mystery with your romance, try In The Cards
If you’re looking for particular kinds of stories, or want to avoid a particular topic, check out my content notes for more information about each book. I have a project in the works to make it easier to find out if a character you love appears in any other books.
I’m so delighted to be able to share Eclipse with all of you.
Schola is the most elite of the magical schools of Albion, devoted to preparing the best and brightest young adults for a life of magic, innovation, and perhaps service. Students hurry from class to class, learning everything from writing to duelling, alchemy to astronomy.
Thesan is now established as the Astronomy professor, but is still one of the youngest and newest teachers at Schola. She is eagerly anticipating the upcoming eclipse, a rare event, as well as her usual classes and projects.
Isembard came to Schola last year to teach Protective magics and act as bodyguard and mentor to two sons of Council Members. He has settled into a pleasant life with a great deal of time in the duelling salle, and an amiable beer in the pub on Saturday evenings while he and Thesan mark assignments. This year promises to be even better, since Alexander, his own mentor, will be teaching Ritual classes.
No school year is ever simple. And it never goes the way you think it will.
Eclipse is full of astronomy, what makes a good teacher, student dramatics, glittering social events, academic politics, students who are possibly up to something, and whether a relationship might work between two people from very different backgrounds who have their own professional goals and expectations. Set in the 1924-1925 school year, Eclipse explores what it means to live, work, and love at Schola.
An unusual post from me, but I found I had some blog-length things to say about a currently ongoing conversation on Twitter.
Short version: If you want to support an author:
- Buy their books (or ask your library to)
- Tell other people about their books (leave a review, tell your friends, etc.)
- Support a reasonable copyright term that allows them to plan for the future and benefit over time from the work that has gone into the book.
When a recently established portal stops working in the Scottish Highlands in 1922, Rathna, a Portal Keeper, is assigned to figure out what happened. Gabe is assigned to assist her. Neither of them expect the challenges they find, the dangers of the local wildlife, or the way history and magic can come back to haunt you.
They’re both keeping secrets. Can they learn to trust each other, fix the portal, and move forward in the world?
Gabe is perhaps one of my favourite heroes so far – and a book set in the remote Scottish Highlands gives him plenty of scope to show off his skills and knowledge. Rathna is much quieter, the sort who looks before she acts, for all sorts of reasons.
(Sign up for my newsletter for a short character study about Rathna’s apprenticeship that I’ll be sending out in March 2021.)
Knitting for the war effort during the Great War involved all sorts of things. Some were simple – wristlets and mufflers (scarves), and socks. (I admit, I am intimidated by knitting socks.) They also included more complex items, like gloves designed to allow for easy shooting of a gun, or caps to be worn under helmets.
Elen, the heroine of my latest book, Carry On, does a lot of knitting. I wrote in my last post about wartime knitting in general, but I wanted to give it a try myself.
So I spent a bit of time in late November knitting up a set of wristlets. (About 7 hours, all told.) Read on if you’re curious about knitting your own historical pattern.
I ended up using a modernised pattern from Holly Shaltz, taken from a July 1917 issue of Modern Priscilla Magazine, using patterns from the American Red Cross. There are very similar patterns in British Red Cross guides too. Holly has patterns for a scarf there too.
British and American knitting needles are different sizes. Worse, needles during the Great War were also different from the sizes we used today. I was happy to use someone else’s guidance on an appropriate combination.
The yarn for these is in a colour suitable for wartime (not quite British khaki, but would not draw attention), Jagger Spun Heather in the Peat colourway. Basically any wool worsted-weight yarn should do for this.
My yarn comes from my local yarn shop, Mind’s Eye Yarns. Much thanks to the shop owner, Annie, who also consulted on some of the historical knitting here.
My adaptations and process
I have small hands, so instead of 20 stitches on a needle for a total of 60, I went for 16 each.
(Since the pattern runs in groups of 4 stitches, you probably want to add or remove stitches in groups of 4. If you want to remove fewer than 12 from the original pattern, you could remove 4 from just one side. This saves you having to remember whether you start each needle with knitting or purling.)
I used double pointed needles (three to hold the stitches, one working needle). I liked this pattern edit because it also gives an option for knitting flat and seaming the finished piece into a proper tube (leaving a hole for the thumb.)
Other than the multiple needles, it’s a very simple pattern – knit 2, purl 2. Repeat for as many rows as you need.
I did 40 rows total. 25 to the start of the thumb, 10 for the hole for the thumb, 5 more plus binding off to make the band across the palm above my thumb. They’re shorter than the original version, but I wasn’t entirely sure how much yarn I’d be using up.
For the thumb hole, I rotated so I could knit going the opposite direction, leaving the gap for the thumb – this worked great.
Let me know if you try your own Great War knitting project! I’d love to feature it if you’re willing to share.
A short video guide to getting started with historical knitting from Engineering Knits. (She’s also done some great Edwardian and 1920s pieces.)
British Red Cross knitting and sewing patterns (via the Internet Archive). Dated 1914. Includes everything from hospital clothing to knitting to dressmaking.
British Red Cross knitting patterns (PDF). Undated, but I think this is from around 1917. Includes patterns for sewing as well (pyjamas and other hospital attire.)
Historical Resource Shenanigans talks about a sock knitting project using a British Red Cross Pattern. (She’s also got a post about a Canadian knitting nurse.)
Some examples of American patterns (with modern samples) from the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
The Antique Pattern Library for a wide range of (mostly not War related) historical knitting patterns