TagPastiche

Neurodiversity in my books

N

It seems a good time for an update on neurodiverse characters in my books (the last one was back in 2021.) April is one of the months celebrating neurodiversity (Autism Acceptance Month), and there was a recent extensive rec post on /r/romancebooks on Reddit for romances with neurodiverse characters.

As I did in 2021, we’re going to go at this by character (alphabetically by first name), since many relevant characters appear in multiple books. My goal with writing has always been to reflect a wide range of experiences of the world like me and many of my friends. And that includes people who don’t always get to be the ones on adventures or getting a happy ever after romance.

There are a number of other characters in my books you might reasonably read as neurodiverse. I’ve mentioned a few at the end of the post that Kiya and I have discussed back and forth, but some of this is in the eye of the beholder. Reader perception is important too!

Just want to explore some books? Here are all the titles that particularly feature a neurodiverse character.

You can also find more of a number of these characters in various of the extras I’ve written and shared.

Upon A Summer's Day displayed on a tablet in a sunset scene looking out across water to fields beyond, all of it glowing golden and sparkling with magic. The cover of Upon A Summer's Day shows a man in a suit silhouetted over a map of northern Wales in a muted green. He is gesturing, holding his cane in one hand, a cap on his head. Behind him is an astrological chart, with Jupiter and Saturn highlighted in the sign of Taurus.
(more…)

Architecture and magic

A

One of the things I’ve thought about a lot is the interaction between architecture and magic in Albion. 

Now, first, I am by no means a specialist in this sort of thing! But besides having lived in a range of places, I’ve done a little bit of college coursework that covered buildings. I’ve been generally been interested in how spaces adapt and change over time. 

The cover of Four Walls and a Heart in a frame, with a globe and cup of coffee. The cover is a deep red, with a man in a wheelchair and a man standing, both in silhouette, in front of a large blue and glass door.
(more…)

In Character : Richard Edgarton

I

Welcome to the first in a series posts focusing on a specific character. We’re starting with Richard Edgarton, who’s appeared in a number of books over his life. He’s married to Alysoun Edgarton, and the father of Gabriel (Gabe) Edgarton and Charlotte Edgarton Wright, as well as grandfather to their children. He’s also been Lord of the land, a Captain in the Guard, and a magistrate for most of his life.

You can find the complete list of books Richard’s appeared in on his page on my authorial wiki, as well as the arc of books that deal with the Edgartons as a family

Copy of Pastiche on an open book on grass with yellow leaves. The cover has a silhouetted man and woman in Edwardian dress, in front of a golden stained glass window on a deep teal background.
(more…)

Three Books on Sale : FaRoFeb

T

I’m excited to be part of FaRoFeb this year. That stands for Fantasy Romance February, and it’s a promotion with a number of moving pieces. There are tons of different events planned, including 250+ books available for $0.99 US on February 1st. (That’s tomorrow, when I’m posting this.) There are also author spotlights, a panel discussion, a giveaway of a book a day between February 1st and Valentines Day on February 14th, and more. 

Find out all the details at the FaRoFeb 2024 site including how to follow FaRoFeb on your social media of choice and how to sign up for the newsletter to get the book giveaways. 

And if you follow FaRoFeb on social media (please do!), you’ll see me spotlighted on February 8th.

Me and my books

Three of my books will be on sale for $0.99 USD (and the equivalent elsewhere) through February 15th as part of FaRoFeb.

They are Sailor’s Jewel, Pastiche, and Eclipse. All three are set in Albion, the magical community of Great Britain that is the setting for all my books. They’re a mix of history, fantasy, romance, and a puzzle or mystery to solve. (In FaRoFeb terms, they fall into the gaslamp category.) 

Read on to learn more about all three books!

(more…)

Up for a 2024 reading challenge?

U

It’s late December, which means it’s also the time when various sites post their reading challenges. If you’re doing one in 2024, here’s a guide to which of my books might fit particular categories. (If you’re doing a challenge not listed here, and other people can join in, send me a link and I’ll add it!) You might also want to check out my post about summer reading challenges from the summer of 2023.

The two challenges I’m pulling from for this post are the Book Riot’s Read Harder 2024 challenge and the 2024 PopSugar Reading Challenge. They have some overlapping categories, so I’m going to note which challenge applies, and the books I’ve written that might apply.

Copy of Best Foot Forward standing upright with leather bound books stacked behind it. The cover has a deep red background with map markings in a dull purple. Two men in silhouette stand, looking up at a point in the top left. An astrology chart with different symbols picked out takes up the left side of the image, with glowing stars curving up to the title.
(more…)

Reviews and how they help

R

Reviews are a fantastic way for readers to help out authors they want to support. But a lot of readers are nervous about what to write, where to share them, and what they ought to know about the process.

Here’s a little demystification to help. I’m focusing here obviously on books, but the same basic process can help with music, podcasts, and all sorts of other content out there. 

The short version: Leaving a brief (2-3 sentence) review of books you love wherever you get or talk about your books is a fabulous way to both help other readers and the author. They don’t need to be long or complicated to help.

The cover of Old As The Hills displayed on a tablet in front of a pine forest, dotted with firefly light. The cover of Old As The Hills has a man with a can and a woman silhouetted on a green ground with a map. She holds out her hand, he is putting something into it, forming a doorway between them. An astrological chart behind them shows the symbols for Venus, the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn highlighted behind a splash of glowing stars.

What kind of review are we talking about? 

When authors talk about reviews helping, what we mean is usually something simple.

We’re talking about a review of one to four sentences from a real human who read the book and wanted to share a couple of thoughts. You don’t need to be elaborate and you don’t need to include tons of details. Reviews like this help provide what gets called “social proof”, that real humans read the book and had a range of feelings about it. 

Detailed reviews and literary criticism are fantastic too – but they’re a completely different thing. Many people aren’t up for writing that (and certainly not about all the books or music or whatever else it was they enjoy).

(more…)

Lords & Ladies: A guide to the land magic

L

Are you curious about the land magic? Carillon’s background? What it means to be a Lord in Albion?

Did you know there’s a new novella out? It’s my treat if you sign up for my newsletter. (Feel free to unsubscribe when you need to, of course. But I hope you’ll stick around, at least for an email or two that will let you get all the other treats I share with my newsletter subscribers.) 

A copy of Ancient Trust displayed on a tablet, surrounded by drinks on a drinking cabinet. A man holding a book and glass wearing a grey suit stands at the right of the image.

Ancient Trust is all about what happens when Geoffrey Carillon inherits the title on his brother’s death. It has quite a lot about the land magic customs at Ytene. It also led to some interesting questions from a reader. 

(I love reader questions. Sometimes I haven’t settled on my final answer about something. But I’ll let you know if you ask something I can’t answer yet. Or if you ask something that’s too much of a spoiler for something that’s coming out in the future.) 

The questions: 

It got me thinking, how do the Lords of Albion engage with the House of Lords? Is attending Westminster an additional responsibility for Carillion? Do Albion peerages result in having the right to sit in the House? And what about the women? How does the Land Magic recognise women?

These are great questions – and also some that I haven’t quite found the right place to get into text. Let’s take this one by one in an order that should help.

(more…)

Question answered! Character ages

Q

I got an email from a reader (hi!) asking a couple of questions, including this one: “In your romantic couples, the women seem to be consistently a little older (or a lot older) than the men. Was this a conscious choice, and if so, is there a reason for it?” 

The Fossil Door cover displayed on an ereader, surrounded by candles, dried plants, and a mug of tea. The cover has a man and woman in silhouette at the right, looking to the left, on a background of dark burgundy to golden yellow, with an inset smaller image of an illuminated manuscript in the right corner.
(more…)

Idea to book: Pastiche

I

Pastiche is my first Edwardian book, mostly set in 1906. That year turns out to be interesting for medical history reasons, but it’s also in the middle of a period rich in artistic and creative activity.

Living well with chronic illness

Alysoun, the heroine of this book, lives with what we’d call fibromyalgia today. At the time of the book, they don’t quite have a name for it: fibrositis (the earlier name) shows up in the medical literature for the first time late in 1906.

What she knows is that her body aches – often and also unpredictably. She struggles with fatigue and brain fog, wanting to have an engaged and active life, and yet also not wanting to spend her limited time and energy on social events she doesn’t enjoy.

The trick is that she is Lady Alysoun, married to Lord Richard, who not only has those obligations to the land magic, but who is also a member of the Guard (Albion’s equivalent to the police, more on that in the next section), and who is asked to become a magistrate in the course of the book. Being a magistrate comes with a number of additional social obligations for both of them, as well.

My chronic health stuff is not exactly the same as Alysoun’s – though at points in my life, I have had a lot more of all of her main symptoms than I do at the moment (if sometimes in slightly different modes.) Writing that experience, however, comes straight from my desire to have someone like me be loved, have pleasure, and find a place in the world that suits her.

Alysoun’s experiences are also rooted in many conversations I’ve had with a dear friend who shares some of her symptoms too. Specifically, “If I’m going to hurt if I don’t do this thing that would also bring me pleasure, and I’m going to hurt if I do (maybe a bit more), I’d rather have the pleasure, too.” Navigating that, moment to moment, day to day, year to year, is always a trick. Alysoun’s still learning it in Pastiche, but has found a lot more rhythm and balance by the 1920s, and the later books we see her in.

Now, this is Albion, and so there is a touch of fantasy here. Veritas, the Edgarton family home, started as a Roman villa, and the hypocaust system has been tended over many years. She can therefore retreat to a series of baths I absolutely envy, including the deep multi-person hot soaking tub.

The Guard, power, and responsibility

I wrote the draft of Pastiche between November 2019 and February 2020. I was editing it over the summer of 2020, as George Floyd was murdered by police officers in Minneapolis. (I lived in the Twin Cities for more than a decade, my last few not too far from Lake Street and Minnehaha Ave.)

I did a lot of thinking about this particular book, about the history of policing, about the ways any system (and especially those dealing with authority and law enforcement) can be abused and manipulated. I did a lot of talking with my editor, Kiya.

For one thing, while British policing isn’t perfect either, as I did more and more research, I realised that the history of how organised policing developed was rather different. (And in Albion, coordinated law enforcement in various forms became urgently needed following the Pact in 1484 and establishment of additional portals and means of rapid transporation in the next couple of hundred years.)

I also thought about what I’d already established in Albion (Wards of the Roses features Kate Davies, my other character who is a member of the Guard proper, though in that case, very much in an investigative magical role.)

And I looked at what I’d already embedded in both this book in particular, and in the larger world: the idea of magically enforceable oaths. Every magical person in Albion makes one at the age of 12, and various other professions and occupations make them as well. (Pastiche in fact already had the scenes of Richard taking the magistrate’s oath and the effect it has on him.)

Here’s the thing that was already in the draft, but that I expanded far more thoroughly:

The Guard make something that’s equivalent to a chivalric oath, as Richard describes in the book. It isn’t a perfect protection, but it does mean that people who wish to abuse their power tend to fail out of apprenticeship or are redirected into other roles.

And as Richard points out, a lot of their work is more about solving problems, directing people to appropriate help, seeing to the actual physical and magical safety of people in the community. (This last part is particuarly important since people experimenting with magic they don’t fully understand can have a wide range of implications for the safety of those around them.)

It’s a complicated issue, and a complicated role.

Arranged marriage to love match

I first wrote about Richard in Outcrossing and Alysoun and Richard both appear in Wards of the Roses and On The Bias, where it is clear they adore each other and work well in tandem.

But I also knew they’d been basically an arranged marriage, and I wanted to know how they fell in love.

They married knowing of each other (similar family circles) but not knowing each other well. They married more rapidly than they might have due to Richard’s father’s decline in health. And for the first few years, they are cordial and pleasant, but not close.

Richard had been brought up not to be a bother to women (his mother, who is not a pleasant human, had strong opinions about this.) He thinks he’s being polite and considerate, when Alysoun deeply wants more of his time, attention, and preferably affection. It’s only through the events of the book (and a bit of help from those who are wiser in these things) that they figure out how to navigate that.

(When my beta readers got their hands on this one, they left comments of “RICHARD, TALK TO YOUR WIFE” in many places.)

More of the Edgartons

It turns out I can’t let them go! They have secondary roles in a number of my other books so far (as well as some upcoming works.)

Richard appears briefly at the end of Outcrossing (in his role as Captain of the Guard) as well as in Complementary, when he gives an assignment to Elizabeth Mason. Richard is Kate’s commanding officer during Wards of the Roses (and Alysoun appears at the end.) They’re both present and helpful during the climactic events of On The Bias.

And then there’s Gabe. Their son has his own romance in The Fossil Door, and his parents also make an appearance in the extras associated with that book. (Sign up for my newsletter to get access to those and upcoming extras.)

They’ll also be making an appearance in Ancient Trust (a prequel novella about Geoffrey Carillon inheriting his title, available in the summer of 2022) and Best Foot Forward (out in November 2022) and some of the extras for that. I’m also chewing on a book about Charlotte, their daughter, though I’m not yet sure exactly where that will fall in my upcoming writing plans.

New and exciting!

Upon A Summer's Day

Explore my blog posts

Explore posts about each book

Get in touch

My contact page has all the latest on where you can find me (and a form if you'd like to email me directly).