History and Academia

Historical Fiction in Kindle Unlimited

Click the pic to find the offers

This month, I am promoting Deviant Desire and Guardians of the Poor, and I am doing it through two promo outlets which might interest you. The first is for Deviant Desire (and Guardians as that’s in both promos), and that book is up there with 38 other titles by some great authors.

If you like 20th Century historical fiction then KC Savilis is the writer for you, with his ‘The Devil’s Spies’ being set during the Cold War, and his ‘Operation Teardrop’ set in 1944. If you like historical fantasy, then ‘Legacy of Hunger’, by Christy Nichols might suit you, and if you want to go right back, then ‘The Frowning Madona’ is set in 412 A.D.

There is a wide range of historical fiction on offer, though not necessarily gay historical fiction as in Deviant Desire. The first in my Clearwater series of Victorian mysteries, ‘DD’ starts the ball rolling with the East End Ripper – my take on Jack – with some references within the novel being factual and inspiring the ongoing series. For example, my Ripper is never caught, the same as Jack was never caught, but in my world, you, the reader, will find out not only who he is, but why he was never exposed.

You can find all the books through this link.

Academia Romance

Guardians of the Poor has a place in an Academia Romance collection of 19 books on offer through the Academia Romance promo on Book Funnel. Going by the titles and covers, these are mainly straight, academy-themed stories, and Guardians does rather stand out as being something different. Perhaps that will attract some new readers, perhaps it won’t. What I do know is, if you are looking for more KU books to add to your TBR list, and you like the idea of teachers and students, or students and students, or teachers and… you get the idea… then this promo is for you.

Click the image to take a look.

Jackson’s Academy

I was going to leave things there, but then I started thinking about how many of my novels feature an academy, or a mentor. Guardians of the Poor starts off the Larkspur Series, and these are set at the Larkspur Academy, so there are seven right there. Then, I have the Mentor series where an older guy mentors a younger guy through coming out and accepting he’s gay. You can add to that, the Students of Barrenmoor Ridge which is about two school leavers.

I was only allowed to put one title in the academy promo, hence Guardians is there because it’s a series starter, and the story introduces us to the Larkspur Academy, Professor Fleet, and a string of new lead characters.

As usual, you can find all my books through my Amazon page, and they are all available in KU.

[KU = Kindle Unlimited. TBR = To Be Read.]

Willing

Just a quick hello today, as I have got behind on jobs and chapters this week. I did manage to get some research done, though, and did a lot of reading which, in the end, wasn’t that helpful. I was trying to find out about wills and bequeathments, so I turned to a friend who is a genealogist for advice. My imaginary will was written in about 1862, and I was trying to find an example of a will from that time so I could copy the wording. I have seen some from my family of the past, but they were 18th-century ones, and I thought there would be a difference. Turned out, I was right. Here’s what my friend wrote back:

The key thing is that in 1858 everything changed. Up until then, wills were written for and proved in the various church courts, so they were both kind of religious documents (the testament) and a disposal of worldly goods (the will). So they were a mix of the religious and the legal, and proved in the court of the Archbishop, or bishop, Dean and chapter, or archdeacon, as appropriate.

In 1858, all that changed and the wills were written for, and proved in, the High Court of Justice, in the newly established probate division. So they ceased to be religious documents and became purely legal ones. You no longer get all that stuff about believing in the merits of Christ as Saviour and believing in the Resurrection. And usually, out goes all the stuff about being decently buried in a good Christian manner. Although you still often get some instructions to executors about the burial where the will-maker had some definite preferences. Extravagant brick-lined graves, for example.

I don’t think I have any from around the 1880s, though I will have a look. The only way to get wills from the post-1858 period is to apply to the High Court Probate Division with the index details and pay a fee. They are not available on Ancestry unless an Ancestry member has gone through the application process then scanned the document and kindly made it available, although there are copyright issues when people do that, and it’s not really allowed.

Later, he sent me a link to a PDF file online. It’s a collection of Wills from the 19th century. Although I only found one dated after 1858, it was enough. I have now written my late character’s will-reading scene, and it will make for fun reading, I assure you. I’ll be back on Wednesday with another update on ‘Where There’s a Will.’

Meanwhile, don’t forget this promo is still running until the end of the month.

Finding a Way to Kindle Unlimited

You may have had your Easter by now, but over here in Greece, ours is yet to come (May 5th). Meanwhile, the special Easter promo of queer romance novels available on Kindle Unlimited is still running. My third series starter, ‘Finding a Way’ is in there with many other hot titles, and you can find them all by clicking the image:

So far, on Amazon, Finding a Way has had 56 rates and a few reviews. I am pleased to say that it’s gained mainly four or five stars (you can never please everyone), and some people have gone to great lengths to leave very positive reviews. Here are some snippets:

Find your way to reading this first book in a new series.

I highly recommend this book for those fans of Jackson Marsh who enjoy his style and humor.

I was hooked on this story from the very first sentence. As always, great characters are introduced to the reader and some cameo appearances of characters from previous series just tied everything so perfectly together.

His brilliant use of words, particularly with the more colourful, learned characters, is almost poetic in nature, while still being incredibly funny to read.

The scene between Jack and Larkin is sublime and other MM romance authors should take note that this is how you write a romantic scene.

Thank you to everyone who takes the trouble to write a review and post it. And also, a huge thank you to anyone who shares these blog posts, the books’ links and news of the Clearwater, larkspur, Delamere series, and my other books.

Spend Easter With Queer Romance

Here’s a special promotion that’s going to run long enough to cover Western and Orthodox Easter. Over here in Greece, East Sunday is not until May 5th while in the UK and elsewhere it’s on March 31st. This means you’ve got six weeks of promo to look forward to with 80 titles being promoted during this time.

I, of course, have my three series starters in the list and am up there with other top writers of gay and lesbian romance and fiction. I was just browsing the list and noted a few interesting facts:

There are 80 titles.

All but three feature at least one model (boy or girl) on the cover.

The word ‘Desire’ appears in two titles: ‘Corrupted Desire’ by Ryder O’Malley, and Deviant Desire by Jackson Marsh. Oh, that’s me!

Some of the authors have appeared on my blog, i.e. KC Carmine.

There is a wide range of niches, themes, tropes, but with queer romance as the overarching common theme, and here are some I have gleaned from the covers:

Mystery books, lesbian literature, age gap and daddies, fantasy, history, medical, the priesthood, rakes, tough boys, fit boys, sword and sorcery, YA… A browse of the covers will give you a better idea, but plenty to choose from.

I hope you will pop over to the promo during the sates March 29th to May 6th and click on some of the covers to discover more about the books that lie behind them. Also, if you will, feel free to share the link around, on your Facebook pages and groups, and give us indie queer authors some extra publicity.

My first series starter is Deviant Desire – and that’s in the promo, of course. This is the novel that started the entire Clearwater world, and the 21 books within that world are now becoming a trilogy of three complete series.

Deviant Desire, like most of my novels, is a love story within a mystery, and in this case, the mystery is based on the story of Jack the Ripper. (Though I have changed it to the East End Ripper who is targeting rent boys.) It’s all about love across the great Victorian class divide and begins a love story that continues through 10 books and a prequel, and endures through the next series and beyond.

More about the other books in this great Easter promo as the days go by. Meanwhile:

Thank you, and happy reading!

Jackson

News and Updates

Usually on a Wednesday, I give you an update about my current work in progress, and I will, but today, there is a little more news than that…

Follow the Van has just been released and the paperback version should be available in a few days. This is book three of the Delamere Files series which follows on from the Larkspur Academy Mysteries, though takes us away from Larkspur while keeping us in the Clearwater world. The first three books focus on Jack Merrit, his first love and his new job as an investigator. With him is his younger brother, Will, and book four takes Will’s point of view of the world. So…

Where There’s a Will has begun, and I am already on chapter three. I must admit, I’m not sure where the story is going, as I only have a rough idea, but I know it’s going to be fun and intriguing, though like the others in this series, not particularly steamy. Meanwhile…

The Students of Barrenmoor Ridge is in a special promo that is celebrating the best friends to lovers trope. In my contribution, two 18-year-old besties go camping, one is determined to come out to his best mate, but then, they are attacked, and in trouble, and the two characters from The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge have to come to their rescue, both physical and emotional. Yorkshire Dales, mountain rescue, nerdy teens, crush, best mates, and ‘fade to black’ sex, so suitable for anyone who’s around 16 and upwards.

Click to see all the books in the Best Friends to Lovers Promo.

Meanwhile…

The special Historical Fiction available in the Kindle Unlimited promo is still running, and you can find the books listed here until the end of the month.

And soon…
Another promo will hit the screens and you’ll get another newsletter reminding you (if you are signed up for my newsletter). This one is called ‘Spend Easter with Queer Romance,’ and there are plenty of new titles available. Or, there will be soon as the promo doesn’t officially start until March 29th. However, Click Here and you will be able to see the covers, and after the 29th, you’ll be able to click them and find out more info. I have all three series starters in this promo.

That’s the news for now, and as you can see, there’s a lot going on!

Best Friend to Lovers

There’s a new promotion running on Book Funnel and this one celebrates the trope of Best Friends to Lovers. There are 49 books in this promo, and the page is a lovely long list of hunky-guy covers, topless men, and two boys outside a tent. Oh, that’s because my ‘The Students of Barrenmoor Ridge’ is included in this promo. This is a YA, coming out, coming of age, best friends to lovers novel set in the Yorkshire Dales, and can be treated as a sequel to ‘The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge,’ though it can also be read as a standalone.

I’ll be sharing more info about the Students on my Saturday blog, and there will be a newsletter soon. As per usual, if you have time to click through to the promo page and check out a couple of the titles, plus, if you can click the link in the email when it arrives, you’ll be doing me and the other authors a great service.

I’ll now go over and share this post on Facebook. Please feel free to do the same and get these 49 books some positive attention. Thank you.

More Books Being Promoted

As you might know, I have my three series starters in a month-long promotion. These are all historical mystery and adventure novels, and they are all available on Kindle Unlimited. If you’re not sure what that is, ‘KU’ as it’s often called, is a bit like a paid-for library. You subscribe each month and in return you can choose from over 4 million books, audiobooks, comics and magazines, ‘borrowing’ up to a certain amount each month. Perfect for avid readers. I expect there are some other benefits, and you can find out more about it from a Google search.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/marchkuhistoricalfiction/z3i8ioodkk

So, the books in this promotion are all available ‘for free’ if you have signed up to KU. I believe they are also available on Kindle generally and in paperback. I know mine are.

I try and promote the series starts as much as I can, in the hope that new readers will enjoy the first book, and go on to read the second, and so on. It sometimes happens that was and it’s great when it does. A couple of times in my writing career I’ve woken up to find someone has bought every book in all three series all in one shot. That’s 11 Clearwater Mysteries, seven Larkspur Mysteries, and so far, two Delamere Files (with a third one out any day now). Total coast of Kindles for that lot? Roughly $79.00. If a couple of people a day would buy the whole series… Pipe dream, perhaps, but it happens, just not to me.

So, this week’s highlighted novel is in the promotion. Finding a Way is the story that starts the Delamere Files. The ‘file’ in this case is the main man himself, Jack Merrit and the crime he suffered, and how he deals with it. In book two, Jack’s gone from being a cabman to being a detective, and his second file takes hm into the world of the Victorian public schools and old school ties. A Fall From Grace. The third book, Follow the Van, takes him and his very precise brother, Will, into the world of the music hall which was their late father’s domain as he was a top music hall entertainer.

Jack and Will Merrit in ‘Follow the Van.’

The next one in the series is to be Where There’s a Will. I am starting on that this week. I want to do something I’ve always wanted to do and have a classic (you could say clichéd) “reading of the will at a creepy old property during a storm”, kind of story. A Cat and Canary for the Merrit brothers to take part in. However, that’s as far as I am with it, and I am trying to think of ways to make it non-cliché before I dive in.

So, the point of this weekend’s ramble is to remind you that the promo is still on, and if you’re looking for more historical action and mystery, you can check out the books via this link.


Coming up on the 20th for a few weeks is a ‘Best Friends to Lovers’ promo with over 40 books on that theme taking part. The link is live but the book links are not: Click here to check it out.

Coming up on 29th March and running until the end of May is a ‘Spend Easter with Queer Romance in KU’ promo, with another set of books, including my three series starters and work from other top authors. Click here to check it out.

The Hackney Workhouse (Notes)

Three of my books are in a Kindle Unlimited promotion throughout March. One of the books is ‘Guardians of the Poor’, the first Larkspur Academy Mystery. Here’s the image of the promo page and the link straight to the exclusive list of titles from me and other authors of historical fiction. I’m particularly interested in the ‘Murder on the…’ series, because of the steam trains.

Link

If you’ve read ‘Guardians of the Poor’ you will know that much of the story concerns the Hackney Workhouse. In fact, the story is about more than that. Yes, I researched what I could about the actual workhouse, as I do, and I realised I’d actually been into parts of it when it was being used as a hospital. The story, though, is also about the Academy and its setting up, and the MC of the book, Dalston Blaze. Through his eyes, we experience not only workhouse life but also we get our first view of the academy, and we meet the Clearwater series characters from the point of view of someone outside of the organisation, someone who’s not yet on Archer’s ‘crew.’ The story, though, is also very much about Joe Tanner, who is deaf, and I put a lot of work into researching what his life would have been like too.

Anyway, the point of today’s post rises from that book, because it’s one in the promo, and because I was sifting through some notes for it, and I found the following. I’m leaving it here as a point of general interest for anyone who is interested in the Hackney Workhouse, Homerton, London, in the late nineteenth century.

My notes, as usual, are taken from a variety of sources including newspapers and journals of the time (quoted), and are in no particular order, and have not been altered since I made them.

Workhouse Details

Plan of the Hackney Workhouse

Hackney: Lower Homerton (N div.)

By 1870s the main block was an inverted U shaped fronting onto the high street.
North side, offices and stores.
West: females.
East: Males.
South, a long block with chapel, children’s school, dining rooms, day rooms.
Either side of southern block were workshops; stone breaking shed on men’s side.
Admin block centre east of the site, casual wards and stone shed fronting Sidney Road.

Roughly 600 inmates (1866)
400 + in 1881 census

Rooms mainly low and narrow but with windows so good light, ditto stairs. ‘A confined air to the whole building.’ Male/female wards on ground floor are dark and cheerless.

I wish that the same could be said of other places where “the Poor Law” is wrested to a harsher punishment than that of the criminal code, and where the grim rule and oppressive dead level of the workhouse ward is but a preparation of the youthful pauper for the no more repulsive discipline of the gaol.

The librarian and superintendent of the Ragged School held in the house that was once the Thieves’ Kitchen, but now filled up-stairs and down with children perspiring in their nightly work of dividing a hundred scholars into classes amongst half a dozen teachers, and distributing the books which they are allowed to take home with them to read.

A blank wooden gate squeezed into a small space in the midst of the neighbouring shops, and indicated by a hoard, on which are painted the regulations for granting medical assistance, and the times at which the applicants for parochial relief will be received by the “Master,” is, as I am informed, the entrance to one of the most constantly occupied, although by no means the largest of the London workhouses, where a large proportion of the inmates come and go so frequently that they might, in some other districts, be almost regarded as “casuals,” and receive no definite settlement in the regular wards.

Christmas at the Hackney Workhouse

Dalston’s Childhood

(Based on a real case)

5 years old. Board of Guardians became his legal guardian when his mother died when he was five. (She died in a fire in Homerton, and was brought in with child, but no-one knew her name and so he was known as ‘The child from the Dalston Blaze’, because that’s where the fire was. The title stuck and became Dalston Blaze.)

The Matron, childless, saw the opportunity to keep him as her own so he was then brought up in the workhouse under the care of the staff.

6 to 13 years old. Sleeping in one room with 23 other children ‘the infant nursery’

Three hours a day instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic, Christian religion at the workhouse school.

Corporal punishment on boys only and only by the master.

Boys under 14 could be flogged, but not over 14!

14 able to work, but Matron didn’t want him going to the ships/army, or to local work so kept him in work on site.

Sleep and beds

Seen in the bare wards, where the long rows of low bedsteads, each covered with the same pattern of counterpane, make even the dull walls more monotonous; in the cleanly scrubbed floors; the absence of any furniture save that which is required for the absolute necessities of the place; the walls against which the long rows of bedsteads stand have been coloured a pale blue, as an improvement on the sickly yellowish tint which is peculiar to such apartments.

  • Flock placed on iron bedsteads, with iron laths or sacking.
  • Red, wool rugs (blankets), decent bed covers.
  • Chamber pots under beds.
  • Thin sheets.
  • Very little furniture, no lockers or tables only a few chairs, no mirrors (men’s ward) and no prints/decoration.
  • Chests for foot warmers.
  • A metal sink per ward with soap and two combs (shared, I guess), no hair brush.
  • Towels supplied twice per week.

Dining and food

  • Allowance per adult person:
  • 7 ounces of meat without bones
  • 2 ounces of butter
  • 4 ounces of cheese
  • 1 pound of bread
  • 3 pints of beer
  • Children’s allowance at Mistresses discretion

Listen to the murmured talk, which resolves itself into remarks about food; and then remember that here, as in a prison, extra rations, and an increase in meat and the privilege of beer, are the great topics of conversation. Well they may be, for that dietary scale hanging on the strict enough in its provisions, even if they were administered according to the intentions of the Poor-law Board – is at the mercy of guardians and master and matron, and may be reduced so much below prison fare, that life in a workhouse comes to be but a continuance of that struggle against hunger which preceded it in the world outside those grim brick walls.

Some three hundred paupers, old men, women, and children are at dinner.

at a cross-table under a high desk like a pulpit, the master himself without a coat, and with his throat released from both collar and neckerchief- is carving the meat, and weighing out the allowance for each person according to the dietary scale, which differs but slightly from that of the union where I lately made the acquaintance of the pauper of the north-eastern suburb.

Tin plate and cup, wooden spoon

The ordinary workhouse gruel, known to the paupers as “skillet,”

Hygiene, Health, the sick

For every morning (I am informed) the wards of this great straggling building are scrubbed and purified. The thin withered anxious faces which peer upwards from the white pillows, or rest in a slumber so like death.

Men with VD are placed in the ‘itch ward.’ (Small in capacity.)

Lying-in ward (a small room for birthing).

Imbeciles have their own rooms and day rooms.

A kitchen in the sick ward, but food comes 150 yards from main kitchens.

One fixed bath and one portable bath.

Badly ventilated generally, though some has been put in.

Too many men in each ward.

Only two paid nurses.

A pauper nurse and a helper to each ward men paid 1/6d each week.

Medical officer comes two/three times per week, daily if there’s an epidemic.

Rules (read aloud each week)

[These rules from the Hackney Workhouse 1750s, but (in my story) still in use.]

Morning prayers or lose a meal.

Not leave house without permission.

No liquor, quarrelling or fighting or lose a day’s meals.

Work or be kept on bread and water.

Wake bell at five every morning between Michaelmas and Lady Day.

Bed at nine in summer, eight in winter.

Bells for mealtimes.

No smoking in bed or bedrooms.

Roll call at six, one (lunch) and by eight (winter) if not there, punished.

General good behaviour, no telling lies or else sat on a stool in the dining room with a note pinned reading Infamous Lyar and no meal.

No defacing or graffiti.

You must not… Hang washing outside, go through the velvet lined door (staff).

‘When will somebody come and take me away?’

Clothes

‘Fisherman short coat’ (see pinterest)

Wards

The effect of this is less observable in the boys, who are now coming out in single file, and dressed (sensibly enough this warm weather) in holland-pinafores over their corduroy trousers. Some of them are still masticating the last of the most tasty mouthful reserved as the finish of their mid-day meal; and, as they pass, hear a general resemblance to the other inmates, inasmuch as they stare at me, while they ruminate like so many young cows.

There are amongst both boys and girls many sickly, deformed, and stunted children who will, perhaps, carry with them to the grave these heritages of the gutter and the foul lodging-house where they struggled, like unhealthy plants, into such life as they possess; but in almost all of them I am rejoiced to see something of that elastic spirit which shows that here, too, the old suppression of every hope and promise of youth has been superseded by a gentler and more beneficent appreciation of the difference between poverty and crime.

Again, in the workhouses the church bells may be heard within the whitewashed walls, especially in the stillness of the night, and, when they have the long account of twelve to proclaim, how many are lying awake, staring at the dark and listening! In the old folks’ dormitory, for instance, a woeful watch-night is it for scores of those whose shrunken cheek presses the hard pillow, and the more so, perhaps, after the mild excitement that Christmas brings into even a workhouse ward. It brings couples together that at ordinary times the Poor-law sets asunder; and there is the banquet of roast beef and pudding, and the half-pint of beer, and maybe the unwonted luxury of a quarter- ounce of snuff or a half-ounce of tobacco. All very proper and enjoyable to such an extent that for the time being it makes the grey- haired paupers forget everything but the treat in progress. But the worst of it is, after such stirring times, there comes reaction.

The Master

The master is in a great heat from the exertion of [- 71-] carving and weighing, although he is a tall muscular gentleman, with somewhat of a military bearing, and (notwithstanding his open collar) a way of holding his head, as though he had at one time looked at the world over a stiff leather stock.

daily visit to the different wards after resuming his neckerchief, and a particularly fresh-looking linen coat.


Sources

The Pauper, The Thief and the Convict, by Thomas Archer, 1865 – Chapter 4 – A London Workhouse

Mysteries of Modern London, by One of the Crowd [James Greenwood], [1883]

http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Hackney/

1881 census

http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Hackney/Hackney1881.shtml#Inmates

March KU Book Promo

Hi folks,

There’s a promo running all through March, and I have my three series starters appearing in it.

The promo’s been organised by Kevin Savilis who, under his name K. C. Sivilis, writes historical mystery and action books. In fact, the promo is specifically for historical action, adventure, and mystery novels. It’s an exclusive, choice selection as you will see, with all titles available on Kindle Unlimited.

Please share this message around and include the link to the promo which is right here.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/marchkuhistoricalfiction/z3i8ioodkk

Clicking to the promo page and investigating the titles doesn’t cost you anything, but each click brings the authors another step closer to new readers, so it’s a worthwhile thing to do, and sharing the promo page always helps us. Thank you and here’s wishing you a happy March.

Mardi Gras LGBTQI+ Romance Promo

Yup, I have another promo to tell you about, and this one is the Mardi Gras LGBTQI+ Romance Promo.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/lgbtromancemdp/mxgjqlwf49

There are 75 titles in this promo, with all books being available on Amazon, Kindle, and some on other platforms too. Each has an info page that you find by clicking the book cover, and those pages come with a summary or blurb.

I have two series starters in there, Deviant Desire, and Guardians of the Poor. I expect most of you have read them already because you are lovely, loyal readers, but there must be plenty of titles and new authors in the list waiting for you to discover. Looking at those covers, you can see there is an eclectic mix of niches, including friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, contemporary, fantasy, MM romance, FF romance, and, of course, historical fiction. Among the authors, you will find Addison Albright, Anne Barwell, and Ann Lister.

There is even one that features a model I used on one of my covers. T.L. Travis has ‘A Little Christmas, Orion’s Secret’ in the promo, and the guy on the cover is the same one who appears on my Dracula-related mystery, ‘The Stoker Connection.’ We share the same taste in tasty main characters!

Check out the list, click a few covers to explore further, and recommend your favourite authors on my Facebook Page.

There’s another massive promo coming next month, and I’ll be sending out a newsletter about that at the start of March.

Follow The Van

As Wednesdays are my work-in-progress update day, here’s a quick update on Follow the Van (The Delamere Files book three).

This novel has probably given me more hassle than any other I have written. Why? I am not sure. One reason is because of interruptions, but another is having too many ideas. There are so many threads, I am worried they have led to a lot of repetition. That will all be fixed, and the repetition is me reminding myself of what happened when I last picked up the pen two weeks ago, or even yesterday.

Fear not! It will be fine in the end, and the end is what is in sight. I have started on the climax/finale, though I have left the build-up to it until I have finished the climax, so I know how to start it… You see? It’s one of those that needs a good, long re-look once I’ve stumbled to the end. I’ll keep at it and am aiming to finish the first draft (in whatever form) by this time next week.

Click to find the promo with 75 titles.