Guest Blog from Jody Klaire: The Essence of Home

14 Apr

Today we welcome Jody Klaire as a guest blogger. Hailing from Wales, Jody’s career to date has seen her enjoying stints as a singer/songwriter and a police officer, and she apparently lives with some kind of small petting zoo which includes her golden retriever, several gerbils, some sneaky house mice, and a neighbour’s cat. Her début novel The Empath (book one of the Above and Beyond series) is due out from Bedazzled Ink this summer.

But enough from me, I’ll let Jody tell you the rest…

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The Essence of Home

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Well hello there!

JodyKlaireFor those of you who haven’t met me yet, I’m Jody Klaire, a chatty Welsh-woman from the south. I converted from writing songs and music to novels in 2011, and my debut book The Empath is out with Bedazzled Ink in the summer.

With the introductions out of the way, when the ladies allowed me to write a guest blog I wondered just what I could talk about. Then it came to me in an Oscar Wilde flash: ‘Two nations divided by a common language’.

You see, I’m part of the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) and the British Writer’s Workshop Wordcloud, and through getting the wonderful benefits both offer, I have found a home in Bedazzled. Both groups have taught me to see the differences in our cultures and language, as well as our common traits. So I thought that I would look at the way both sides have influenced our genre and cultures, and vice versa.

Since you follow this blog, I am guessing that you like to read, write or both. Perhaps, like me, before you dared to consider the possibilities of who you were, you took solace in the stories of others: authors who, like you, may have stuck out like a football fan at a rugby match. They gave you characters who resonated with you, and you experienced that exciting and slightly addictive sense that when you picked up those books, you met people who felt the same way that you did. Authors who showed you that you weren’t alone but part of a wonderful vibrant world.

When I think of authors with that power, I think of Gerri Hill, Karin Kallmaker, Georgia Beers, Katherine V. Forrest, Radclyffe… you could probably insert an awful lot more. They are only the tip of a huge Arctic iceberg that includes my own fellow Bedazzled authors – Ann McMan, Sandra Moran and Barrett – and Sapphire’s Isabella, Lynette Mae and Linda K Silva, to name a few, and that’s without listing the countless indie authors. In America the genre is bubbling, growing and creating new ways for readers to connect to their culture.

Through the words of those authors, I discovered a continent. Through their characters, I learned about their complex network of subcultures and experienced their issues. Through their works, we live so many different lives. The sheer power of the book (or eReader) in your hands to transport you to a place that understands you and frees you is essential to me as both a reader and an author.

But…

Sometimes we need characters who live a little closer, ones who echo our own lives. Here in the UK we have some big hitters of our own, authors like Sarah Waters, who launched a whole new world to another generation through TV adaptations. I wonder how many readers were drawn by the BBC depictions. This, of course, is missing out Jeanette Winterson and Val McDermid, to name only a few. They are power players in their own right, who show our culture and speak in a way that resonates with us.

theempath_lgSo what does all of this have to do with my writing? Well, The Empath is a fusing of these two cultures. It is based in the fictional town of Oppidum, Missouri, which echoes British and American cultures. Aeron, my main lady, has subtle touches that I hope British readers will spot and enjoy. Her series takes in a continent that I have learned so much about, yet through the eyes of someone who, I hope, will feel like a treasured companion.

The second series will be launched in the winter with Fractured and takes in the city of Edinburgh. I love the old town, and I explore it through the eyes of Nita, who is not the kind of person you may be used to spending time with. In my writing, I strive to create characters who compel you, if not lure you, into wanting to know them.

My two series seem to mimic what I am talking about here. Aeron and Nita are polar opposites in some ways, yet they share a common author… me!

I feel that we, as British authors, have a culture and a society at our mercy to play with and depict in rich new ways. We have so much history, so many facets to our wonderful nation. It would be amazing if we could share that with our American sisters and, of course, globally. Speaking only of Wales, it is incredible how different life is for people who are only separated by miles. We have some incredible scenery at our fingertips here in the UK too.

Just as America has the GCLS as a source and an epicentre, wouldn’t it be lovely to see that kind of community grow over here? A place where indie authors and those from publishing houses can meet, conspire and educate, all while meeting the readers and hopefully attracting swathes of new ones. Sites like this one play a great part in that vision, so I am thankful to Cari and Tig for undertaking such a big task. You rock, ladies!

The GCLS philosophy of paying it forward is one that has made their side of the pond an indomitable force in our genres. I hope that we Brits can feed off that and forge the same sense of camaraderie. I hope that we can drive each other to new heights in order to reach that young girl (or young-at-heart girl) and show her that there is a world ripe for her to explore. A world brimming with possibility and excitement, a world that is even closer to home than she realises… in fact, it’s right there in her hands.

Big smiles!
Jody

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You can catch up with Jody here at her blog or over at her Facebook page.

 

News Roundup: BSB UK Fest Line-Up Revealed, Interviews with Pauline George & RJ Samuel, Blogs, Reviews, Events, & More!

11 Apr

rainbow-wedding-cake__fullAs gay wedding bells finally (legally!) chime across England and Wales, and lesbian couples break out the taffeta, pearls, triple-tiered cakes, and tuxedos, Tig and I would like to offer our congratulations to anyone who has already tied or is planning to tie the knot.

So how will LesFic respond to the new changes? What term will authors use for these newly married women? Do we stick with partner or move on to wife? ‘Er indoors? The old ball and chain? The missus? The better half? Only time will tell, but it’s lovely to have all the choices at our disposal.

Anyway I digress, where was I? Oh, aye, let’s get on with the news…

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bold books logoFirst this week, I can reveal the line-up of authors who will be putting on their best game face for the Bold Strokes Books UK Festival. The weekend-long free-for-all (in pretty much every sense of the term!) is being held in Nottingham on June 7th & 8th and features author panels, readings, Q&A sessions, signings, meet-and-greets, giveaways, loads of food, shenanigans, and the chance to hang out with other like-minded LesFic-loving folk.

This year the authors and editors attending will be:

group shotI. Beacham (Sanctuary & The Rarest Rose), Andrea Bramhall (Ladyfish & Clean Slate), Rebecca Buck (Truths, The Locket & The Flintlock), Crin Claxton (The Supernatural Detective), Lesley Davis (Playing Passions Game & the Wings paranormal series), Amy Dunne (Secret Lies), Jane Fletcher (the Celaeno & Lyremouth series), Michelle Grubb (Getting Lost, due out in 2015), Eric Andrews-Katz (The Jesus Injection), Gill McKnight (the Garoul series), Rikke Peterson, Justine Saracen (Tyger, Tyger, Burning BrightWaiting for the Violins), Stacia Seaman (editor), Victoria Oldham (editor), and Me (Desolation Point & Tumbledown). But don’t let that last put you off!

2013′s event was the biggest and most successful to date, and this year Vic Oldham wants to hear from you: What do you want/expect from the weekend? Do you have any questions that would you like to ask the authors or editors? And is there anything that might encourage you to come along if you’re currently sitting on the fence?

Feel free to comment here or over on the BSB UK blog.

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pauline georgeTwo UK authors have been hitting the airwaves recently, with Pauline George interviewed by Tom C at Croydon Radio, and RJ Samuel chatting to Breda Burns and Grainne O’Reilly on wrfm Westport Radio Arts show.

To listen to the podcast with Pauline, head here (scroll to 1 hr 9 mins to find the start of the interview), while RJ has uploaded her interview onto YouTube.

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Amy_Dunne_lgAmy Dunne has been tagged by Blog Tour Monday, giving her a great opportunity to tell people about her writing processes, her upcoming works, and why she ever picked up a pen in the first place:

I read anything and everything, but lesfic always has and will have a special place in my heart. It’s wonderful to be able to read a story and feel represented in the pages. When I was in a dark place and unsure of myself, lesfic opened my world up. It offered solidarity and hope. It enabled me to accept my sexuality and source the courage to live the way I wanted to. As dramatic as it sounds, it really did impact tremendously on my life. It’s always been my ambition to provide stories that do the same thing. It’s a privilege to be doing just that.

Amy is currently working on The Renegade, book one of the Rapture series, which is speculative fiction. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where only a few survivors remain, the novel is tentatively due for release in Spring 2015.

Read the entire piece here at Amy’s blog.

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With Frog Music newly released, Emma Donoghue has a few suggestions for what people might want to read afterwards. She’s been discussing her six favourite books over at The Week news site. To compare your personal faves with Emma’s hop (Ha! No pun intended) over here.

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nicola griffithA trio of updates now from Nicola Griffth, who has been discussing bisexual characters, killing off characters, and making stuff up, with Annabel (high school junior and new fan).

I wrestled with Gwladus and Cian, and Hild’s attraction to both. I found it surprisingly difficult at first; I’ve never written a bisexual main character before. The power differential and possibility of incest, respectively, made this even more complicated of course. 

The full radio interview with Nicola that Tig mentioned in the last news update is now available at this link, and if that’s not enough for you, any budding authors living in or near to Seattle can sign up for Nicola’s workshop on the Magic of Immersive Fiction. The workshop will be held on June 1st and is an overflow workshop for those who missed out on the April 13th session. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying that places will be limited and disappearing fast, so check out the workshop’s sign up page if you’re interested.

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london callingC-Spot Reviews has a new reviewer – The Bookgeek – whose first write-up for the site focuses on Clare Lydon‘s London Calling:

With this delightful debut, British author Clare Lydon keeps the reader entertained with plenty of interesting people, great food, lots of humour, and a heart-warming romance…Last but not least, the title “London Calling” is indicative of the whole tone of the book which oozes with unabashed Britishness and does not cater to international tastes, which adds to its allure.

Click here to read the full review.

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manda-scottFinally this week, anyone who fancies celebrating World Book Night with Manda Scott is very much in luck! On Wednesday 23rd April 7.30 p.m. there will be a talk with Manda at Oakham Castle (somewhere between Melton Mowbray and Stamford, and reasonably close to Peterborough!) Tickets are a snip at £3. For more details see the Rutland Library Events page.

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And that’s just about it. I thought this was going to be a quiet week until I went out trawling for news. Yes, yes, I know, it’s my fault for looking!

 

News roundup: A pair of new authors, a plethora of reviews, a couple of readings and more!

4 Apr

It’s not so much a pea-souper outside, more a light chicken broth, but if you’re inside avoiding the smog now’s a good time to catch up with some reading and two more UK lesfic writers:

JodyKlaireWelsh Jody Klaire is a new writer at publisher Bedazzled Ink. Previous careers have been all sorts from police officer to singer. It is unknown whether she has combined the uniform of the former while performing the latter in any capacity, but I like to think she has. She lives with several furry animals, some out of choice. Her debut The Empath is due out this summer. Here’s the blurb and pretty cover:

theempath_lgBlessed and cursed with the ability to sense the feelings, past, and future of those around her, Aeron lived as a misfit child until she took the blame for the death of her best friend’s little brother when she was sixteen.

Released from the correctional facility, Aeron must go back to her hometown–the scene of the crime that no one in town has forgotten. But, Aeron must deal with more than just animosity. Someone in town is abducting and killing young girls, and with Aeron under suspicion, her distant father, the spectre of her Grandmother, and her psychiatrist–who is more than she appears–must all work together to figure out who’s invaded their town before it’s too late. Aeron must use the burdens that she has spent her life trying to hide to prove her innocence and save those taken.

karencampbell2A big welcome also to Karen Campbell a grumpy Scot who supports Arsenal (probably explains the grumpiness). Nirvana for Karen may be drinking Irn Bru, eating tattie scone and square sausage while listening to loud music. It is not known whether she is partial to furry animals but she definitely doesn’t like spiders.

violetHer novel, Violet’s Story, is a tale of a young lesbian in a mental hospital looking back on the events that led to her to being admitted. She also has a collection of short stories out now called Little Whispers. She has a new novel published by Austin Macauley this summer. The Knowing is part 1 of the Jen Keith trilogy.

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Cari Hunter readers will be over the moon to hear that Bold Strokes will be publishing her fourth novel and have also given her the go ahead to develop it into a series. No Good Reason sees Cari back on English turf in her favourite Derbyshire Peak District. Here’s a bit more about it from a giddy Ms Hunter.

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A quick run through reviews now.

treasure chestV.A. Fearon‘s gritty gangland novel The Girl with the Treasure Chest was reviewed by the Lesbian Reading Room.

This is the Veronica Fearon’s first novel and what an excellent start. Set in modern day London this is a gritty tale of love, loyalty and survival in the estates and the gangs that inhabit them. The tone, the settings, even the voices make this a novel very much of London.

The Lesbian Reading Room also reviewed Andrea Bramhall‘s Lambda finalist Clean Slate, an intriguing story of memory loss:

Andrea Bramall gets and holds your attention throughout this novel with multiple layers of suspense. Without giving any specific spoilers we spend our time wondering why Morgan did what she did, whether she will recover, how Morgan and Erin will cope, who is behind it all and then, when we have found out all of the above, we are still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Ke Payne‘s YA novel Because of Her Review was reviewed by the The Fangirl:

Despite this being a Lesbian YA romance, this isn’t an “issues book.” Tabby’s sexual orientation is a fundamental part of her and her story, as it is with many LGBTQ people, but it’s not the sole plot point of the book. I cannot tell you how much of a relief it was to discover that this is really truly about Tabby’s life and love, not a angst tale about how lesbians’ are doomed to be heartbroken and alone.

FrogMusicFrog Music by Emma Donoghue was reviewed by Lambda:

This is Donoghue’s first full-length novel since her bestselling Room, and though the subject matter couldn’t be more dissimilar, Donoghue’s trademark language and curiosity about the seedier aspects of humanity are on full display…Call it a literary crime novel, call it historical fiction, call it lyric and engaging, Frog Music is in a category all its own.

This is Donoghue’s first full-length novel since her bestselling Room, and though the subject matter couldn’t be more dissimilar, Donoghue’s trademark language and curiosity about the seedier aspects of humanity are on full display. Though the story sags a little in the middle, this otherwise fast-paced mystery is a captivating exploration of female friendship, music, cultural clashes, San Francisco’s history, childcare, and the sex trade in the United States. Call it a literary crime novel, call it historical fiction, call it lyric and engaging, Frog Music is in a category all its own. – See more at: http://www.lambdaliterary.org/reviews/04/01/frog-music-by-emma-donoghue/#sthash.5trkchuk.dpuf
This is Donoghue’s first full-length novel since her bestselling Room, and though the subject matter couldn’t be more dissimilar, Donoghue’s trademark language and curiosity about the seedier aspects of humanity are on full display. Though the story sags a little in the middle, this otherwise fast-paced mystery is a captivating exploration of female friendship, music, cultural clashes, San Francisco’s history, childcare, and the sex trade in the United States. Call it a literary crime novel, call it historical fiction, call it lyric and engaging, Frog Music is in a category all its own. – See more at: http://www.lambdaliterary.org/reviews/04/01/frog-music-by-emma-donoghue/#sthash.5trkchuk.dpuf
This is Donoghue’s first full-length novel since her bestselling Room, and though the subject matter couldn’t be more dissimilar, Donoghue’s trademark language and curiosity about the seedier aspects of humanity are on full display. Though the story sags a little in the middle, this otherwise fast-paced mystery is a captivating exploration of female friendship, music, cultural clashes, San Francisco’s history, childcare, and the sex trade in the United States. Call it a literary crime novel, call it historical fiction, call it lyric and engaging, Frog Music is in a category all its own. – See more at: http://www.lambdaliterary.org/reviews/04/01/frog-music-by-emma-donoghue/#sthash.5trkchuk.dpuf

Planet of the Books reviewed See Right Through Me by L.T. Smith:

See Right Through Me by L.T. Smith is the book you’re looking for if you want to have a great time and laughter with an entertaining lesbian romance. It’s perfect for a holiday when you just want to relax and forget everything but the magic of love at first sight and read about human doubts and insecurities that can ruin everything.”

Nicola Griffith‘s Hild continues to get fabulous reviews – here’s a round up on Nicola’s blog. They include a review from Bisexual Books:

If you like historical epics with a leisurely pace and detailed world building, and your only complaint is that none of those books have queer protagonists, then Hild is for you.”

Clare Lydon‘s London Calling was reviewed by Terry Baker:

“This book is well written and edited, gripping, fast paced and a page turner from start to finish. It’s filled right to the brim with wonderful, multidimensional characters, glorious scenic descriptions of my home town, hilarity, family issues, loving and not so loving friends, there are even a couple of extra cute children to add to all the fun. A true melting pot full of authentic British dialogue and drama.”

And while we’re here, a reminder about the book flash for Clare’s London Calling on the online discussion group the Virtual Living Room this weekend. Clare will be answering questions on Sunday at 3 p.m. EDT. Click here to join this lesfic discussion group.

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hild coverSome nice extras now.

Emma Donoghue has provided an interactive map of locations for her latest book Frog Music. It shows 19th century San Francisco with snippets of information of venues from the novel. There’s also a playlist for the novel and almost all of the songs are available here.

Meanwhile L.T. Smith has been reading some of her republished work Hearts and Flowers Border. Scroll down to the bottom of the publisher’s page for the book to “Listen”.

Nicola Griffith has also been doing some readings for an interview and a great atmospheric reading from the middle of Hild is available here as a teaser.

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fakingitJade Winters has started a series of blogs about how she approaches writing a novel. This week she tells us how she starts her novel from initial idea, keeping focussed and inspired and stepping into the shoes of her heroines. She’s also posted the first chapter of her work in progress, Faking It. Take a look here.

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Finally, that Clare Ashton has been muttering about writing a light romance for an age, and she finally got her arse in gear and did it, or has nearly done it. That Certain Something is being polished and snipped at by an editor and is due out in May. In the meantime here’s Chapter 1 as a teaser.

News Roundup: Val McDermid in Manchester, RJ Samuel’s Launch Party, VG Lee on Video, Book Reviews, and More…

28 Mar

Things were finally a little more sedate on the news front this week, but we don’t really do sedate here at UK LesFic, so as a special bonus I’ve added a write-up of Val McDermid’s appearance at Waterstones in Manchester on Wednesday night. Enjoy!

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val mcdermidFollowing hot on the heels of Joanna Trollope’s reimagining of Sense & Sensibility, Val McDermid’s take on Northanger Abbey is the newest release in the Austen Project, in which six best-selling contemporary authors have been paired with one of Jane Austen’s complete works: Sense & Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion and Mansfield Park. Taking these well-loved stories as their base, each author has been tasked to write their own unique version.

Val McDermid is always good value at an author event. Funny, personable, and genuinely interesting, she covered a lot of ground during Wednesday’s chat. Starting with Austen, she spoke about how returning to the classics as a fledgling author helped to improve her writing, and how unpicking the plotting of such writers as Austen and Agatha Christie provided her with a masterclass on structuring a multi-layered story. Her own version of Northanger Abbey differs from the original in that parts of the mystery are held over to the end, whereas Austen plays all of her cards with a good twenty percent of the novel still remaining. Val admitted that she found the task “daunting” and refused to participate when she was initially asked. Northanger Abbey was specifically assigned to her due to its elements of suspense and intrigue – “Can’t really see me doing Pride & Prejudice, can you?” – and she confirmed that she was tempted to slaughter a few of the more annoying cast members in ways far too gruesome for the project. At an earlier point, chatting to her editor, she had discussed how much fun it would be to rework Emma as a lesbian novel, “Which is probably why they didn’t ask me to do that one!”

northanger abbeyMoving on to her writing in a more general sense, she identified Sarah Paretsky (V.I. Warshawski) as an early influence, as Paretsky had created a strong female protagonist who didn’t need to get a bloke in when she wanted to get something done. Val also revealed that she doesn’t plot as rigidly as she used to. Her first novels were plotted chapter by chapter, but at some point this suddenly stopped working for her, sending her into a panic. “What if this was it?” What if she had dried up? Hurtling towards a deadline, she would speak to her editor on the phone: “It’s fine, it’s all fine. I’m writing!” and eventually went to Italy, sequestered herself away and wrote 65,000 words in nine days of solid graft. She could barely string a sentence together when she had finished, but her editor was certainly happy: “It’s the best first draft you’ve ever handed in!” Since then, her process has been looser, something she called “driving at night writing”, in that you know where you start out from and your eventual destination, but the middle bit reveals itself incrementally as you go along.

In closing, Val answered questions from the audience, signed copies of Northanger Abbey, and posed for piccies. If she’s heading to your town in the not too distant future, she’s well worth hanging out with.

Val’s version of Northanger Abbey has just been released in hardback and e-book.

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And now onto the news proper…

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I’ll kick off with a date for the diaries, as Kiki Archer will be appearing at the Polari Literary Salon on Monday 28th April. The event takes place at the Level 5 Function Room at Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre at 7.45 p.m. Tickets are £5 and available to book here. I’ve added the listing to our events page for those who might want to check back in a little closer to the time.

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VGLeeSticking with Polari, VG Lee has a new video of her reading from her forthcoming novel Mr Oliver at a recent Polari evening:

Mr Oliver has had his heart broken by falling for a much younger women, and in this scene he’s on a cruise to recover. A lady of a certain age also feels like getting over her own woes by trying to seduce him. The result is VG Lee’s classic mix of tragedy and comedy.

Head over to YouTube to watch the video.

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the january flowerCrafty Green Poet, who won a copy of Orla Broderick’s The January Flower in our recent giveaway, has reviewed the book over on her blog.

The whole book is very poetically written, full of lovely phrases. Oddly I felt this sometimes stopped me feeling close to Mary. I also often felt that the individual characters, other than Mary, could have benefited from more consistently and better developed voices. Having said that, this is a lovely book to read for a different insight into life in the Scottish Highlands and for its portrayal of people living in close connection and awareness of nature.

You can read the full review here.

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AplacesomewherMeanwhile, the Lesbian Reading Room has been waxing lyrical about RJ Samuel‘s new novel,  A Place Somewhere:

A Place Somewhere is an extremely well-written novel, well edited and crafted – always a joyous find when one reads a new author, particularly somebody who is self published. The characters RJ portrays are well rounded and have an integrity that is sometimes challenged by their heart-ache and loss, but ultimately shows them for who they really are.

The review can be read in its entirety at the above link.

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RJSamuelAuthorPicRJ is also having a launch party for the novel and the song, starting at 7pm GMT (3pm EST) on Saturday 29th of March. On the event page, RJ has this to say:

As the theme of the book is a bit dark (online deception), I‘m hoping to make the launch a more positive experiment in connection.. I’ll be reading at some point and Sharon Murphy will be performing the song. There’ll be friends at the party here in Galway (Ireland) and I have (just about) managed to figure out how to live stream from here. I’m also hoping to have FB friends video chat with us on FaceTime or Skype.

I’ll post the details of how ye can watch the live stream if you’re interested, but I was hoping to get some idea of who would be interested in participating in the video conversations. Please comment or PM me if you’d like to take part. Please remember, this is a new (and kinda scary) thing for me so it might not be very ‘professional’, just informal. I just love the idea that we might be able to connect ‘communities’ across the world in some small way.

For more information, head over here to the launch party Facebook page.

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And that just about rounds up the roundup. Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend. I’m on nights and the clocks are going forward, WOO HOO!

News roundup: Hild makes it to the UK, a new old book from LT Smith, food porn from Cari Hunter and music from RJ Samuel

21 Mar

While most authors seem to have been distracted by the latest Buzzfeed quiz of which actress would play them in their life’s movie (Emma Watson, mutter mutter, I wanted Meryl Streep, mutter mutter), there’s still enough going on to bring you a news roundup:

coldwindNicola Griffith‘s Hild makes an appearance in the UK, without Hild appearing on the cover. Have a look over here for the classy UK edition and release dates for the various formats. Nicola is also adding the finishing touches to a short story, Cold Wind, which has more tantalising artwork. It will be available (free) from April 24 on the science fiction / fantasy website Tor.com.

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cover_hearts-and-flowers-borderL.T. Smith‘s Hearts and Flowers Border has been reissued with her new publisher Ylva. This second revised edition is now available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle. Here’s the blurb:

A visitor from her past jolts Laura Stewart into memories—some funny, some heart-wrenching. Thirteen years ago, Laura buried those memories so deeply she never believed they would resurface. Still, the pain of first love mars Laura’s present life and might even destroy her chance of happiness with the beautiful, yet seemingly unobtainable Emma Jenkins.

Can Laura let go of the past, or will she make the same mistakes all over again?

Hearts and Flowers Border is a simple tale of the uncertainty of youth and the first flush of love—love that may have a chance after all.

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FrogMusicIt’s also not long now until Emma Donoghue‘s Frog Music is available. For those of you who want to tease yourself a little more while waiting here’s the trailer over on Goodreads.

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New author Clare Lydon will be online for a Q&A session about her popular debut London Calling. You can catch her in the discussion group The Virtual Living Room on Sunday 6th April at 3 p.m. tumbledownforblogEST. To join the discussion group click here.

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If you’re one of those readers who loves background to a novel, don’t miss out on Cari Hunter‘s post to accompany her latest book Tumbledown. The post details Cari’s research from locations of derelict warehouses to some obligatory food porn. Cari’s also happy to answer questions about the book in the comments section. Here’s the post.

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sharonmurphy1As mentioned on last week’s news, the song RJ Samuel wrote to go with her new novel A Place Somewhere is now available to purchase on Amazon’s MP3 store,  available to everyone that is apart from RJ and anyone else in Ireland. Irish fans will just have to wait for the iTunes version or nip over here to cdbaby.

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BSB_Because_of_HerThere’s a nice guest post on the Bold Strokes Author Blog about KE Payne‘s latest novel Because of Her. KEblogged for us earlier this week about why she writes YA fiction to reassure people that it’s OK to be gay. Her work certainly strikes a chord:

Because of Her is the kind of YA book that makes a difference without being forced. It doesn’t tell you how all people my age are supposed to feel, but it reminds us there are others who have gone through the same things as us. Everyone has been this age, but some people seem to have lost the ability to understand how it feels to be a high schooler. Thank goodness K.E. Payne hasn’t because people my age, myself included, need writers like her telling stories for and about us.”

You can read the full post here.

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merylstreepFinally here’s a picture of Meryl Streep, just because. (Look if she can pull off roles from Thatcher to Mamma Mia then she can do me – stupid Buzzfeed.)

Because of Her – a guest post by Ke Payne

18 Mar

BSB_Because_of_HerKe Payne is a best-selling author of entertaining YA lesfic that appeals across the ages. She writes the kind of romantic girl-meets-girl stories she wished were around when she was growing up. Here she talks about her latest novel Because of Her and what it’s meant to early readers to be reassured that it’s OK to be gay.

I did a Q&A on another author’s blog a while ago, and one of the questions I was asked was what message did I hope readers took away from my books? My answer was short and sweet: I wanted readers to know that it’s okay to be gay, and, just like you can’t help which food you love, or which clothes you love, you can’t help who you love either. This assertion was at the forefront of my mind when I started to write my latest novel, Because of Her. I didn’t want it to just be a let’s run around and tell everyone how fab it is to be queer, I just wanted people to read it and realise that, hey, the world isn’t going to stop turning just because you happen to be gay.

Because of Her packs a lot into its 264 pages. My heroine Tabby is uprooted from her small town in the northeast of England and enrolled in an exclusive girls’ school in London when her father’s new job forces the family to move. Taken away from her girlfriend Amy, Tabby hates her new life in London and rails against everything and everyone in the hope that she’ll get sent back to the northeast. That is, until she spots the lovely Eden across a busy classroom…

Whilst battling her feelings for her classmate Eden and feeling guilty about Amy at the same time, Tabby also has to run the gauntlet of prejudice from Eden’s two ghastly friends Gabby and Beth. Thankfully Tabby has support from her new best friends Libby and Greg, and while of course good triumphs over evil in the end, writing the book really made me think about every school kid that’s ever had to fight against homophobia.

Shortly after Because of Her was published, I read an incredibly poignant review from a gay teenager who had just finished the book and wanted to express how much reading it had helped her personally. She said she could identify with Tabby, because she too was at school and having to face the sorts of ignorant comments Tabby faces because she was, as she said, “different from the other girls”. Although this reader wrote that she wasn’t out at school (Tabby is), her words, “I liked how I lost myself in this book and saw how Tabby faces her enemies. I really drew confidence from how Tabby reacted against the bullies” absolutely hit home.

Then, soon after that review, I received an email which was just as touching. It was from a reader in her late forties who told me she’d read Because of Her because she’d so enjoyed my last novel The Road to Her as it had shown her that “YA books weren’t just for kids”. She too told me Because of Her was personal to her and said that she wished there had been books like it around when she’d been a teenager because she felt it would have helped her come to terms with being gay a lot earlier and, as she put it, “stopped her from living a lie for too many years”.

Both the review and the email struck a chord with me as I could genuinely identify with each one. To this confused teen growing up in the 1980s, lesbianism seemed stuck in the Victorian era; if we didn’t talk about it, then it didn’t exist. I longed to read books that might give me answers to my many questions: was I the only one feeling like this? Was it wrong to like girls? Was I going to hell in a handcart because I fancied Wonder Woman? Like reader number two, when I was a teen, all I wanted was to read books where I could identify with the heroine and for her to reassure me that what I was feeling wasn’t immoral. I didn’t want to read about boy meets girl, or about girl chasing boy because she fancies him but he doesn’t fancy her back (yawn). Just like the teenager that wrote the review of Because of Her, I wanted to read books about what I was going through. I needed to read about characters that didn’t give a flying fuck what people thought about them, and I wanted to absorb all those books that told me I wasn’t weird for being Team Bionic Woman rather than Team Bionic Man (I said it was the eighties, didn’t I?).

Most of all, though, through reading those types of books, I simply wanted to reassure myself that I wasn’t alone, because it sure as hell felt like it at the time.

It was only later when I was still trying to figure out what I was, and when lesbian fiction was starting to become much more available, that I was able to devour the books I’d craved as a teenager. I loved them all, and drew comfort from them. I wished I could be the girl in the story; I wanted to be that confident lesbian who gave a middle finger to all those who didn’t understand. Those type of books are wonderful because they take you out of the real world, if only for a while, and place you somewhere where you’re comfortable with who you are, and where you’re also accepted by others for who you are.

That was what I wanted to achieve when I first started writing YA novels: books that send out an important message to all ages, while still being the sweet, romantic girl-meets-girl stories I so wanted to read for myself way back then. In Because of Her, I wanted to show that with the support of others, you can overcome prejudice. If you believe in yourself, you can rise above the bullies and the haters and those that plain just don’t understand, and show that you are a better person than they are. My heroine, Tabby, does just that. She ignores the comments and snide remarks that she has to deal with every day at school and proves to herself and those around her that she’s a better person than they are. She’s honest to herself, doesn’t take any crap from anyone, and with the help of her friends, rises above the hateful whispers that follow her down the school corridors.

KePayneBecause of Her, I hope, tells those reading it that they should never fall to the haters’ level, and that it’s the haters and the ignoramuses that end up looking stupid. If you can have confidence in who you are, and if you can continue to walk with your head held high despite everything, then the only losers will be those that choose to refuse to understand.

So if I can write just one book that a reader can identify with–whether you’re fourteen or forty– and take comfort from, then read again when they need the message reinforced that being gay is nothing to be ashamed about, then my job is done and the message is loud and clear: it’s most definitely okay to be gay.

News Roundup: New Novels from Just About Everyone, Reviews Galore, Awards, and Upcoming Events

14 Mar

After Tig‘s heartfelt plea in the last news, you’d think all the UK LesFic authors would be off sunning their bums on an island somewhere and giving us both a rest. Ha. Not a bloody chance. Here is another rather lively News Roundup…

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First out of the traps this week are Jade Winters and RJ Samuel, who have both released novels within the last couple of days.

say somethingJade’s latest, Say Something, is now available on Amazon (UK) , Amazon (US), and Smashwords, and we have a blurb to go with the cover we recently previewed.

When love-struck teenagers Jessie and Toni’s clandestine affair is exposed, Jessie’s only option is to move on. Feeling betrayed by Toni, she swears she will never trust another with her heart. Fast forward ten years when, in a strange twist of fate, this vow is put to the test as Jessie and Toni are thrown together by chance. Can Jessie put the put the past behind her to help Toni – who now needs her more than ever. Will she be able to deny the feelings that still run deep for the only woman she has ever loved?

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AplacesomewherRJ Samuel‘s A Place Somewhere is also available on Createspace, Amazon UK, and Amazon US. This is what LesFic reviewer Terry Baker had to say about the novel:

I’ve loved each of RJ Samuel’s books, this one is in my honest opinion, her best to date. Told from the heart and written from the mind and muse. Truly a wonder to behold. A definite and firm favorite to be read time and again. 

You can read the full review at this link.
 

Not content with writing the book, RJ also wrote a song with the same title, a clip of which can be heard over here on YouTube.

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pauline georgeNever one to rest on her laurels, Terry has also been casting her eye over Pauline George‘s début novel, Jess:

Now and then I come across a début author who shines through. Pauline George is one such author. She has written a wonderful story with believable and loveable characters. All well developed, multidimensional and easy to get to know.

As always, you can catch up with the full review here.

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crin claxtonOoh, just nicking in under the deadline, Crin Claxton‘s novel, The Supernatural Detective is a finalist in the 2014 ForeWord Review Book of the Year Award: Gay and Lesbian category.

Each year, Foreword shines a light on a small group of indie authors and publishers whose ground-breaking work stands out from the crowd. Foreword’s awards are more than just a shiny sticker on the front of a book; they help connect the best indie books to readers eager to discover new stories written by previously unknown authors.

The finalists are selected by librarians and booksellers, and the winners will be announced at the American Library Association annual conference on June 27 in Las Vegas.

Congratulations and good luck, Crin!

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statesofindependence2014If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, Amy Dunne and editor Victoria Oldham will be flying the Bold Strokes flag at the Leicester festival States of Independence, a celebration of the breadth and diversity offered by independent publishers throughout the region. As Vic so succinctly says:

The event is free to attend, and there are panels and book vendors, and a whole crowd of people who loves books as much as you do. If you’re in the vicinity, this is where you should spend your Saturday!

The event takes place Saturday 15th March at De Montfort University, and all the necessary details, including information on the LGBTQ panel (the topic of which is The Road to Integration), can be found at the above link.

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season's meetingsWe’re sticking with Amy Dunne for a moment, as her second novel Season’s Meetings now has a blurb and a lovely new cover (yes, that is Amy’s own pup Kimmy, in a starring role!)

Could the festive road trip from hell actually lead to love?

Catherine Birch is a lonely workaholic who hates Christmas. This year, she is being forced to celebrate with her best friend’s family in the Highlands of Scotland. Having missed her flight, Catherine reluctantly ventures on a road trip with beautiful stranger Holly Daniels. Although polar opposites, the intense attraction between them is unmistakable. Just as Catherine begins to think spending Christmas with Holly might not be so bad, a raging snowstorm leaves them stranded in the middle of nowhere. Huddled together, with little chance of rescue, they forge a pact: if they escape, they’ll make this a Christmas to remember. But will it be remembered for the right reasons?

With a December release date, the novel is perfectly timed to slip into your Christmas stocking. Hey, it’s never too early to plan these things, there are only 285 shopping days left, folks!

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BSB_Because_of_HerKE Payne is also keeping herself very busy on the writing front. Her fifth novel Because of Her (available now from the BSB site, and on wider release from March 18th) has been given a standing ovation at Lesbian Fiction Reviews:

If I could use just one word to describe the book it’d be sweet, and this applies to the main character, the plot and the way K.E. Payne tells the story. I felt completely caught with Tabitha because she’s a down-to-earth, sensible and sensitive character. She’s not perfect, doesn’t look like a model; she’s just a girl with insecurities and fears who is violently taken away from what she’s known her entire life and has to face a big challenge.

once the clouds have goneWhile novel number 6 – Once the Clouds Have Gone – now has a cover and a blurb:

Nine years after leaving the small Scottish town where she’d grown up, Tag Grainger is forced to return following the sudden death of her father—and back to a life she’s long since put behind her. After inheriting a share in a family business she wants no part in, Tag is overwhelmed by the dark clouds of her past: her brother can’t forgive her, the nephew she adored doesn’t remember her, and everywhere she goes there are whispers about how she abandoned her family. With her old wounds reopened, Tag longs to escape again, until the appearance of the intriguing and spirited Freddie Metcalfe forces her to reevaluate much more than she thought she needed to. But while Freddie is harboring a secret of her own, can she help Tag reconnect with her family and move on from her past?

Once the Clouds Have Gone is due for release in October.

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duffy_maureenSome more dates for the calendar now, with Maureen Duffy set to headline at Polari on March 17th. Paul Burston’s celebrated Polari salon provides a platform for new and emerging LGBT literary talent and showcases the very best in queer writing. From the Polari website:

Maureen’s latest novel, In Times Like These, is a fable that puts politics to its ultimate test. Jill Gardiner describes it as ‘a pacy, exciting read, centered around an out-lesbian MP and her artist girlfriend, whose well-established relationship is very much of our times.’ 

For tickets and further details about the event click here.

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frogmusicFinally this week, Emma Donoghue‘s Frog Music tour, will see events taking place in Brighton (25th March), Norwich (26th March), and Cambridge (1st April). More details on each of those dates can be found at the links, while a full worldwide listing of the tour is on the Latest News ticker-tape on Emma’s homepage.

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Right, that’s yer lot. For those with the weekend off, have a fabulous one. For those working it, like me, keep your heads down, it’ll be over before you know it!

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