Categories
Fiction The Highwayman

Rejoice and Resist – a Holiday Box Set for Repressive Times

I’m pleased that a new novelette featuring my highwayman will appear in Rejoice and Resistthe upcoming holiday box set from the Final Draft Tavern. The story is titled “The Highwayman Takes an Office,” and takes place four months before the beginning of Daring and DecorumIf you’ve read the novel, you’ll remember Robin mentioning vague reasons for decamping from London to Devonshire. That’s explained here in fuller, more gripping detail, since Robin is pressured on a number of fronts and faces a difficult decision. Also, one reader of D&D questioned how the highwayman so successfully avoided both murder and capture by the authorities. That’s explained here, too.

The box set includes stories from a variety of genres, and historical periods spanning four hundred years, from 1666 to the late 21st century. Some include time travel and paranormal activity, some are realistic; some are romance, some are horror, some are political. But they all feature characters pushing back against the repressive regimes of their day. (In mine, Robin participates on the fringes of a mass protest against the Treason and Sedition bills of 1795.)

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of “The Highwayman Takes an Office,” with a fuller description of the box set below that. Also, don’t forget to join us at our pre-launch party on Facebook, this coming Monday afternoon/evening. And if you share the event on Facebook, you’ll be entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card (our answer to not having a Russian troll farm to spread the news for us).


In this excerpt from the beginning of the story, Robin and the gang have just finished holding up a carriage.

Our horses chuffed and blew as we drew to a halt in a wood north of the Mile End Road. Red Jack gave his own whistle of relief as he pulled alongside me.

“All righ’?” Tom asked, reining in on Jack’s other side.

“Oh, plummy,” said Jack, holding out his gloved hand so we could see it shake.

Sam brought his horse to stand in front of us, pulling down his black cloth mask to speak. “I thought you’d bought it, I did.”

“It were close, weren’t it?” said Jack.

“Too close,” I said.

Tom gave a laugh. “But did ye see the lamps on that lordling when his stick misfired?”

“Aye,” Jack said, “how could I help it? He was staring right at me.”

Jack had rewarded the coachman’s foolhardy attempt at self-defense by leaping onto the box and clouting him on the pate with his own pistol. Now the fellow was lying in the ditch, no doubt attended to by the carriage’s footmen, while we made our escape, gold and valuables in hand.

“Here,” Tom said, pulling a flask from within his coat. He looked at me, receiving a nod before passing it on to Jack. We usually didn’t tipple on the job, but Jack deserved it after his recent experience. He pulled his mask down and took a long swallow, his face pale in the tree-dappled moonlight.

Tom watched him, his brow furrowed. “Why didn’t you plug him in the first place, eh, before he could fire on you?”

“Tom…” I began.

“I don’t know.” Jack shook his head. “It’s been so long since anyone’s drawn on us.”

I leaned over and put a hand on his shoulder. “You’re a buff cove, Jack. You kept our streak alive.”

“Aye, the streak.” Tom hawked and spat on the ground. “That bloody streak’ll get us killed, it will.”

We’d been two years on the highway and never killed a man. Tom had put a ball through a footman’s arm early on, but soon our reputation for genteel behavior had spread. The Burgundy Highwayman and his noble lads never harmed their victims if they could avoid it; even the prettiest young misses had nothing to fear from them. In time, being robbed by our gang became something to boast of, the young ladies rhapsodizing over the highwayman’s flashing eyes and gallant speech as he demanded their baubles.

“Tom, but for the streak, our marks would often draw on us.”

“Streak or no, Robin, the marks are growing bold,” Sam said.

“Aye, you may be right. But come, time to change togs and move on. We’ll share out the regulars farther along.”

I dismounted Juno, my black mare. Off came the tailcoat of claret velvet and the French cocked hat. Out from my saddlebags came a greatcoat, and in went the coat and hat, the latter becoming somewhat crushed, an unavoidable hazard if we wanted to fool any who might give chase. Last, off came the mask, just a square of black cloth.

Around me, the lads did likewise in practiced unison. The quick getaway, an immediate change of dress, never more than one job in a night, and a constant shift in location: through measures such as these, we had kept ahead of Bow Street’s runners. Many a highwayman had gotten his neck stretched through greed or a fondness for a favorite spot, not to mention a fondness for drink and boasting of his exploits in his favorite flash house. Coming up through the criminal ranks, I’d heard all the mistakes, and I was determined to make none of them.

But Sam was right, our marks were showing more resistance. Two years made a long career for any highwayman, yet we were still far from that goal we all most desired: what those in the life call doing the trick, achieving independence and leaving the criminal life for good. This was not the time to turn from the methods which had brought us this far. Yet tonight’s events made me wonder just how much longer we had in this game before it ended with the blast of a pistol or the rough caress of the hangman’s nooses around our necks.


Come share a drink in the Back Room of the Final Draft Tavern, where for nearly a millennium, the Marchand family and their cat, Whiskey, have led travelers through time and space: rebels and dissenters, heroes and villains, artists and lovers. These seven short stories feature characters united through the ages by resistance to tyranny, and celebrating the right to speak truth to power. Rejoice and Resist will amuse and entertain, but also inspire you to call out oppression, demand human rights, question the status quo, and stand up to be counted.

Travel backward and forward through time with multiple authors and fiction genres: drama, horror, women’s fiction, historical fiction, time travel, historical or contemporary romance, and paranormal. Shoot through the lens of a photographer or the pistol of a highway brigand; meet death with a ghost-writer, or a president and his cabinet with a deck of cards; brave life in a new country, or just in a new era of civil rights; or conceal yourself in time with an orphan of the apocalypse.

Whatever role you take in the struggle toward justice, step through a secret passageway and pull up a barstool, let the closest Marchand pour you a libation, and celebrate the holiday season with the Speakeasy Scribes.

Find out more about The Final Draft Tavern on our Facebook page, which includes historical tidbits and excerpts from all the stories. 

Image of a 1920s bar

Categories
Fiction News The Highwayman

Blog Tour Update

The blog tour for Daring and Decorum is going well, and a couple of new dates have been added.

Here’s what’s new and upcoming:

  • Cover of Blind Tribute by Mari Anne ChristieTomorrow, 7/28, I’ll be part of Mari Christie’s Facebook release party for her new Civil War novel, Blind Tribute. The event lasts from 5-9 p.m. ET, and features several authors of historical fiction, with Mari kicking things off and closing it down with a livestream. I’ll be in the 5:30-6 slot, with some excerpts and research bits. Hope you can join us!
  • Author Jennifer Senhaji will host an excerpt from D&D in which Elizabeth rebuffs Anthony, Lord Burnside’s, hesitant advances. She knows he doesn’t have the will to defy his parents, who will never approve of him marrying a vicar’s daughter. Date to be decided. Hope you’ll check out Jennifer’s site.
  • Jessica Cale will host a backstory extra on her author site this Saturday. The story takes place four years before the events of Daring and Decorum, and gives deep backstory on Rebecca. This is the most Gothic part of Rebecca’s whole tale, and involves bleak moors, a crumbling manor, lots of blood, and a couple of dead bodies, not to mention a bumbling country constable.

And here are links to the blog stops that have already taken place, as well as a couple of other tidbits from works in progress.

  • Picture of a castle, a woman and cups of teaElizabeth had a very successful tea with the Duchess of Haverford, managing to dodge some of Her Grace’s more impertinent questions.
  • Anthony’s lovelorn letter to Elizabeth appeared on Mari Christie’s website — is it any wonder he burned it, rather than sending it? Good thing, too; if it got out that she was involved in secret correspondence with a nobleman, it could ruin her reputation.
  • Cover of Stevenson's "The Beggar's Benison."I was very pleased with the response to my article about the Beggar’s Benison, that freaky Scottish sex club, over on Jessica Cale’s DirtySexyHistory. (NSFW, obviously.)
  • I was back on Jude Knight’s blog last Sunday, with an excerpt in which Rebecca and Elizabeth confront a drunken Anthony and two of his wastrel friends. Hmmm, I wonder how that drunken lord came to be sprawled on the pavement in front of Bath’s Assembly Rooms? (Not solely from his inebriation, I assure you.)
  • There was some intriguing gossip about my highwayman (known in London as the Burgundy Highwayman) over at the Teatime Tattler yesterday.

Image of a 1920s bar from The Final Draft Tavern on Facebook

  • At The Final Draft Tavern Facebook page, I offered up a bit of my research into 18th-century highwaymen, including how I think Robin stayed away from the Bow Street Runners and also avoided killing anyone in the course of many carriage robberies. The Final Draft will be publishing a holiday box set featuring my story, “The Highwayman Takes an Office,” along with stories by six other writers.
  • Jude Knight offers up excerpts from works in progress on Wednesdays, and invites other authors to join in with an excerpt of their own on the same theme. Yesterday’s theme was “transport,” and I submitted an excerpt from Silence and Secrecy (the second in my highwayman series) showing the comings and goings at a village coaching inn, where Rebecca and Elizabeth have gone to escort an arrogant professor of botany out of town. Check out her post, featuring an awkward carriage ride, and then you’ll find my excerpt in the comments.
  • I reviewed Mari Christie’s Blind Tribute, which I thoroughly enjoyed, over at Goodreads.

That’s it for now. Hope you find some of these excerpts and other bits enjoyable.

Categories
Author Spotlight Books The Highwayman

Daring and Decorum Blog Tour

Daring and Decorum book coverDaring and Decorum will be featured on several blogs and websites over the coming weeks, ramping up to its release on August 1. Mostly this is bonus material, like letters characters never sent, character interviews, and more. This is my first blog tour, so I’m just dipping my toe in the water — some writers do ten or more guest spots for a single release.

The tour starts tomorrow. The schedule is below, but first, thanks to the wonderful women of the Final Draft Tavern, the Speakeasy Scribes and the Bluestocking Belles for hosting me on their various sites.

  • Monday, July 17: Elizabeth will visit with the Duchess of Haverford on Jude Knight’s website. Look for Lizzie to try to sell some watercolors, while Her Grace gleans whatever information she can about her visitor’s relationship with a certain highwayman, for obscure purposes.
  • Wednesday, July 19: Mari Christie’s website will feature an extra that doesn’t appear in the novel, a letter from Anthony, Lord Burnside, to Elizabeth. The missive is quite improper, being a private communication in which Anthony makes some very indiscreet disclosures, which explains why Anthony never put it in the mail. (Also on Wednesday, Mari will be here with a spotlight on her new Civil War novel, Blind Tribute.)
  • Sunday, July 23: I’ll have an article on Jessica Cale’s Dirty, Sexy History focusing on an eighteenth-century Scottish sex club devoted to the “convivial celebration of the phallus.” The Prince of Wales was its most prominent, not to say its largest, member.
  • Wednesday, July 26: The Bluestocking Belles’ Teatime Tattler will feature some intriguing news about the sudden departure from London of the highwayman (known in that town as the Burgundy Highwayman), and a bit of gossip about the rogue’s actions in Devonshire.
  •  Sunday, July 30: Jude Knight will have a Spotlight feature on Daring and Decorum, including an excerpt in which Rebecca and Elizabeth are accosted by a drunken Anthony and two of his wastrel friends.

And a final tidbit: you’ll find an excerpt from a new story, told from Robin’s perspective, over on The Final Draft Tavern Facebook page. The story will appear in a holiday box set, due out this fall. The stories by seven different authors are set in different periods, from the 17th century through modern-day and onwards into an apocalyptic future. All feature the tavern as it evolved through time (sometimes appearing as a coffeehouse, as in my 18th-century story), and also the radicals and reformers who frequent it as they struggle against whatever repressive regime was in power. The holiday theme makes its appearance in various ways, sometimes sardonic, as you’ll see in this excerpt. Hope you’ll check it out!

Categories
Books Reviews

Book Review: Artemis

Cover of Artemis by Jessica CaleI got to know Jessica Cale after reading her wonderful highwayman novel, Tyburn, set in 17th-century London. She’s moved into the Regency era with Artemis, a novella that was previously part of the Holly and Hopeful Hearts box set from the Bluestocking Belles. This one doesn’t deal with highwaymen, but it does feature a few interests we have in common. Here’s the review I posted over on Goodreads:

I loved Jessica Cale’s Tyburn, and this novella was a great read, too — perfect for a rainy vacation day. It’s great to see Ms. Cale moving into the Regency, and also giving us LGBT characters. It’s important to imagine the lives of people who loved differently in the past, given where we are today in the back-and-forth struggle for LGBT rights.

The story revolves around Apollo Rothschild, the reclusive Earl of Somerton, and Charlotte Halfpenny, a disgraced actress. Apollo has loved Charlotte from afar since he first saw her on stage; Charlotte needs a protector for herself and her baby on the way. What could get in their way? First, Charlotte distrusts the intentions of a nobleman she’s never met. Second, and most important, Apollo has a secret. Something to do with a mysterious inability to sire children, which is his justification for offering marriage to a pregnant, disgraced actress — like all noblemen, he needs an heir.

The story is propelled by the unraveling mystery of Apollo’s secret. Given that this is an LGBT story, the truth behind the mystery shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but the details of it are intricate and fascinating. For readers who do twig Apollo’s identity right away, the pleasure comes from the dramatic irony of watching Charlotte try to unravel the secret the reader already knows. By the end, we’re convinced that these two characters are incredibly fortunate to have found each other.

Along the way, Ms. Cale’s vivid depictions of life in London in the early 19th century, with just the right amount of historical detail, make the novella a pleasure to read. Highly recommended.

Categories
The Highwayman

Print version of Daring and Decorum now available

Book promo for Daring and Decorum: Racier than Jane Austen, Better Written than 50 Shades of Grey.For those of you who have been waiting with bated breath for the print version of Daring and Decorum, it’s now available for pre-order through your favorite local bookseller, Barnes and Noble, and through Amazon.uk. It’s not up on Amazon.com yet, but will be soon. (Come on, give BN or your local bookshop some love!) It will make my week if you pre-order, because this helps the book climb the sales-rankings on the day it’s released.

If you haven’t read the preview yet, you can find that here.

Categories
The Highwayman

Daring and Decorum Cover Reveal

It’s here, the moment I’ve been waiting for (and you too, I hope!): I can now reveal the cover of Daring and Decorum, along with pre-order info. 

Ta-da!

Daring and Decorum book cover

 

I love the bold way Robin looks at the viewer, don’t you? Exactly what I imagined when I wrote my highwayman.

The release date is August 1, but you can pre-order the novel right now. The ebook links are below, but you’ll truly warm this writer’s heart if you contact your local bookseller and request a print copy in advance. (UPDATE: The print book is now available for pre-order through your local bookseller and also through Amazon.uk. Not on Amazon.com yet.)

Amazon | Amazon UK | Website | Smashwords

If you’d like a preview before buying, the first three chapters are available here.

Categories
On Writing The Highwayman

The Highwayman’s Quarry – Thieves’ Cant

The Thieves Den -18th-c engraving by William Hogarth

“Mill the gig with a betty, then we’ll strip the ken and backslang it out of here. I’ll lumber the swag at the stalling crib and we’ll be up in the stirrups.”*

One of the fun parts of writing a story set in the underworld of 18th-century London is getting to use Thieves’ Cant, or flash speech. What is Thieves’ Cant? It was a secret language attributed to criminals, mostly in Great Britain, beginning in the 1500s. Whether thieves actually used this language to disguise their activities, or whether it was invented by writers of pamphlets about thieves’ culture and dictionaries of their language, there seems no telling; probably there was a little of both. The speech became popular in Elizabethan theatre, and in the 18th century the Bow Street runners (early police) were said to be familiar with it.

Many of the terms are still used today: crib, crack, fence, gams, and grub all meant roughly what they do in today’s slang (or maybe the slang of old Hollywood gangster movies). Now we call an alcoholic a lush; back then the word meant either an alcoholic drink or the state of being intoxicated, and a drunken man was a lushy-cove.

A buz-cove (pickpocket) caught in the act.