A Storming L Fest 2014

22 Jul
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VG Lee

The forecast for the L Fest weekend was for stunning sunshine and a heatwave, which naturally meant that torrential rain, thunder and lightning arrived. UK LesFic wimped out of camping and turned up on a very soggy Saturday morning. But saturated tents turned out to be great for audiences of the indoor and dry arts stage, and even though the event kicked off at 10 a.m. there was a good turnout to see VG Lee open the event.

VG has become a bit of feature at L Fest and they are happy to have her. She talked a little about the resurgence of British lesbian fiction in the last couple of years and how good it is to see writers beyond the established literary set having success.

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Cindy Rizzo, Clare Lydon, Clare Ashton, Kiki Archer

She handed over to Kiki Archer to host a very lively indie panel. There were excellent readings by US author of Exception to the Rule Cindy Rizzo, Clare Ashton read from best-selling romcom That Certain Something and Clare Lydon from her well-received début London Calling. Kiki put the panellists through their paces with questions ranging from “Do you like writing sex scenes?” to “do you base your books on your own experiences?” after authors had read pieces about waking up with a hangover in bed with their boss. You can see the whole session on this video. Do not miss Kiki Archer’s reading and do marvel at how good a sport her wife is!

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Crin Claxton, Gill McKnight

Up next was Crin Claxton‘s fabulous Bards on Buzzers quiz. The panel featured Lammy winner Andrea Bramhall (Clean Slate), Goldie award winner Amy Dunne (Secret Lies), Gill McKnight author of the popular Garoul werewolf series, and BSB development editor Vic Oldham. Serious bookworms were well-rewarded with a quick-fire round, followed by some in-depth questions by Crin to the authors. Authors were then treated to seeing Crin and beautiful assistant Denny acting out scenes from the panellists’ work in the guess the novel round, in ways that both surprised and tickled everyone. The audience were especially surprised to find Agadoo feature so prominently in Lammy-award winner Andrea Bramhall’s opus.

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H.P. Munro, allegedly

VG Lee meanwhile delivered two workshops “A Leap of Faith” and “Fast and Furious”, both very well received by new and established authors. Several other authors were also spotted in various states at different times. Karen Campbell author of the new novel The Knowing was one the appreciative attendees of VG’s workshops. Angela Peach took camping to a different level by sleeping in a hearse. She was asked about her enjoyment of the evening activities but declined to comment in the presence of children. H.P. Munro made several appearances, mainly looking very authorial but, by the end of Saturday evening after drinking games with other indie authors, she looked like this.

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Andrea Bramhall, Amy Dunne, Vic Oldham, Crin Claxton, Gill McKnight

The sun, at last, came out which baked those with hangovers in their tents and hearses, and BSB authors were back in action early that morning for a slick readings and Q&A session. The work of the panellists shows how varied these British authors and the Bold Strokes output now is. Andrea Bramhall talked about the inspiration behind her diverse work which includes scuba diving and memory loss, to love across religious and cultural divides. Amy Dunne talked about becoming an expert in post-apocalyptic life while researching her work in progress (she has a cuddly Christmas novel out before that). Crin Claxton is hard at work on a follow up to the thoroughly entertaining  Supernatural Detective and Gill McKnight teased the audience with some hints about her current work on a series of novels on soul matchers.

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Maureen Duffy

The highlight of the arts stage for many was an audience with Maureen Duffy – trail blazing novelist and poet writing since the 1960s. An enthralled audience listened to Maureen reading from her novels and poetry, followed by a Q&A which revealed that she writes sitting in an arm chair and then sends her words away to be typed up, which UK LesFic thinks is class. Some misty eyed and overawed authors and readers patiently waited to have copies of Maureen’s work signed at the end of the session.

L Fest is a wonderfully varied festival. As well as the author sessions, two band stages were in action, attendees could learn anything from drumming to how to avoid lesbian bed-death, Planet London hosted speed dating, films, quizzes and a friendly zone to hang out and there was always something entertaining to see and do. Here’s a taste of this fabulous event:1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9

News Roundup: New Author Jenny Frame, Goldie and IndieFab Winners, New Novel from Jade Winters, Sarah Waters goes on a Paying Guests Tour, and More!

17 Jul

And we’re back! Refreshed and ready for a steamy summer of LesFic-themed romps, mischief, and general shenanigans. Let’s get on with it then, shall we?

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jenny frameFirst up, a warm welcome to a new UK author, Jenny Frame, who hails from Motherwell and recently signed with Bold Strokes Books. Jenny’s début novel, A Royal Romance, will be published in 2015, and the blurb goes like this:

Georgina, Princess of Wales, has always known her destiny, but she never expected duty to call so soon. When her father dies suddenly, she is called back from her Royal Navy post to assume the crown. While the people acclaim their new Queen, Great Britain’s first openly gay monarch, all George feels is the isolation of her station.
Beatrice Elliot’s staunch anti-monarchist views have always been a point of gentle contention with her working class, royalty-loving parents. When Bea—director of a hospice charity—must spend six months working with Queen Georgina, her charity’s new patron, sparks fly and passion blooms. But is love enough to bridge the gap between Bethnal Green and Buckingham Palace?

As with many LesFic authors, Jenny started her writing career by dipping her toe into the fan fiction arena (Xena Uber, if I’m not mistaken), and there are several stories available for downloading on her website. She can also be found on Facebook, and her bio is now up on our Author page.

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GCLS clean logoBrits scored a hat-trick of wins in this year’s Goldie awards, with gongs going to H.P. Munro for Silver Wings in the Historical Fiction category, Sky Croft for Mountain Rescue: The Ascent in the Romantic Suspense/Intrigue category, and Amy Dunne for Secret Lies in the category of Young Adult.

The GCLS site seems to be kaput at the moment, but a full list of the winners can be found here.

indiefabRounding out an excellent week for the UK, Crin Claxton‘s The Supernatural Detective has been awarded an Honorary Mention in the 2013 IndieFab awards, which celebrate the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the cherries on top a metaphorical ice cream sundae of indie books.

Massive congrats to all four authors! We reckon you’re all fab :-)

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lfestSpeaking of fabulous authors and sunshine, L Fest is happening this very weekend (July 18-21), and there are loads of Brit authors - VG Lee, Kiki Archer, Clare Lydon, Clare Ashton, Jade Winters, Amy Dunne, Andrea Bramhall, Crin Claxton, Gill McKnight and I. Beacham – heading to the festival tents. The forecast is hot, hot, and occasionally thundery, so grab your Factor 30 and a pair of wellies and get out there! All the details can be found at the above link.

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faking itDue to our little hiatus, we missed the release of Jade Winter‘s new novel Faking It. Well, it’s out, it’s doing fantastically well in the amazon charts, and you can catch a promo video for it here. I’ve added the blurb to the New Releases page, but for those of you who just can’t be bothered clicking…

Danni Gardener is a talented writer. The only problem is, nobody else seems to think so. Rejected by what seems to be the entire global publishing industry, her gay best friend Josh makes her ‘an offer she can’t refuse’. Pretend to be his fiancée for one night only and he will open doors for her in the elusive publishing world. It all seems so simple. Across London, successful non-fiction editor Brooke Gibson is wondering how long she can carry on living with her partner, Megan, who seems unable or unwilling to commit to their relationship. When Danni and Brooke are introduced, the chemistry between them is explosive. This seemingly ‘professional’ encounter will throw them into emotional turmoil and a situation neither could have foreseen. Will aspiring writer Danni jeopardise a literary opportunity and break the cardinal rule of mixing business with pleasure? Will Brooke reciprocate, risking everything for a woman she believes to be engaged? After all, there is nothing so desirable as forbidden fruit…

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Sarah Waters is heading out on a Paying Guests Tour, an August-September hop around the UK which is taking in the cities of Edinburgh, Nottingham, Oxford, York, and London, amongst others (no Manchester, Sarah? Why? Why?!) Tickets are variously priced, very reasonable and often redeemable against a copy of the novel. Head to this page for more details. Having listened to Sarah read and chat at YLAF events, I can highly recommend that you go along to see her.

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Stella Duffy, writer, actorSticking with events for the moment, this one is very short notice but I’ll pop it in anyway: Stella Duffy will be discussing the thorny issue of Is there a gay gene and should it matter? along with other panellists tonight at Hall 2, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1. Tickets are £20/£26 (this price includes a copy of Julie Bindel’s Straight Expectations). For details call 020 7520 1490 or hit this link.

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stilllifeThe Writing Processes blog tour seems to be winding down, but LT Smith got herself a last-minute tag and has been answering the questions over on her website. Putting the rest of us to shame, she seems to have about five million projects either pending or in progress, so head over there to read all about them and/or wonder how the hell she finds the time to squeak everything in:

I have just finished editing Still Life, my new story that is due out in September. If it hadn’t been for Day Peterson, I think I would have run screaming from the house every five minutes. But, I am really happy with how she (I mean the story, not Day) is turning out, although editing is very time consuming.

Driving Me Mad has just been accepted for publication for spring next year, a story I started to write last year and sent along to the Academy of Bards as a short piece. I had such great feedback that I decided to add to her – and she ballooned like a greedy piglet. To be honest, I am really happy at how she came out. The story seemed it had to be written.

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Nicola_05-08-30_003rFinally this week, an event you’ve got plenty of time to prepare and save up for, as Nicola Griffith has been confirmed as a guest of honour at Reader Con 26, an annual conference or convention devoted to “imaginative literature” — literary science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the unclassifiable works often called “slipstream”. The con will take place in July, 2015 in Burlington, Massachusetts. For more details, keep an eye on the main website.

Over on GoodReads, Nicola has also been chatting about Hild’s sexuality:

Hild isn’t lesbian/homosexual. She’s bisexual. I doubt they had such terms back then, though. I’ve seen no evidence that who you did or did not have sex with defined how women thought of themselves…

You can catch the full response at the link, and still ask Nicola questions by signing up to the site.

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the knowingJust sneaking in at the last minute, we have the winners of the giveaway for signed copies of Karen Campbell‘s new novel The Knowing. Congrats and a shiny paperback go to Marie Foose and Rebecca Layer. For those of you who missed out on a copy, the book is now available in Kindle or paperback.

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And I think that about covers everything. Or most things. I’m sure I’ve missed stuff, but I’ve done my best :-)

News roundup: free stuff, new books, calls for submissions, interviews and a bit more

27 Jun

UKLesFic is heading off on holiday for a couple of weeks – some to the hills, others just to catch up on sleep – so here’s a quickie before we go:

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First, free stuff.

fakingitJade Winters is doing an excellent giveaway for her book Faking It, due out on the 29th. To celebrate she’s doing a special ‘Danni giveaway’ which is a bundle of things her character likes in the book: chocolate chip muffin with a Latte via Costa coffee voucher, a Girl On Girl T shirt and of course a paperback copy of Faking it. To enter see Jade’s Facebook page. Be quick. You need to enter by midnight Saturday 28th.

cover3Comic short story The Dildo in the Kitchen Drawer by Clare Ashton is free all weekend. Grab a Kindle copy from Amazon. Last time this story was mentioned, with an aside in the news about the Great British Bakeoff, UK LesFic had hits from people searching for information on “flour dildos”, which sadly the blog was unable to provide. We’ll see what happens this time.

And a reminder for the Karen Campbell giveaway of The Knowing here on UK LesFic. Sign up for a copy by 3rd July.

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The Green Carnation Prize organisers have announced the judges for 2014 and the award is now open for submissions. Previous winners for this UK LGBT literature prize include Catherine Hall and Patrick Gale. For information on entering see the submissions criteria. Unfortunately self-published works are still ineligible.

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radio-picOn to interviews, and Clare Lydon has been having a chat on the radio about her novel London Calling, writing and the process of self-publishing . Here is her TOTP-style mic picture – apparently the urge to sing was almost overwhelming. Click here for the interview (around the 37:40 mark).

KiKI_standingMeanwhile Kiki Archer was interviewed on AJ Adaire’s blog. Kiki talks about her background, writing process, reviews and reasons behind the success of her novels:

I think I proudly categorize my novels as chick-lit. I don’t pretend I’ve written the next War and Peace. I write easy-read ‘fun’ books. People know what they’re getting when they pick up a Kiki Archer. They’re getting giggles, fun, and frolics. Doesn’t everyone need that every once in a while?”

You can read the full interview here.

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stilllifeLT Smith fans will be very pleased to hear that she has a new novel out in September. Here’s the cover and blurb for Still Life.

After breaking off her relationship with a female lothario, Jess Taylor decides she doesn’t want to expose herself to another cheating partner. Staying at home, alone, suits her just fine. Her idea of a good night is an early one—preferably with a good book. Well, until her best friend, Sophie Harrison, decides it’s time Jess rejoined the human race.
Trying to pull Jess from her self-imposed prison, Sophie signs them both up for a Still Life art class at the local college. Sophie knows the beautiful art teacher, Diana Sullivan, could be the woman her best friend needs to move on with her life.

But, in reality, could art bring these two women together? Could it be strong enough to make a masterpiece in just twelve sessions? And, more importantly, can Jess overcome her fear of being used once again?
Only time will tell.

owleyesNew author Georgie Watts has her debut available as a paperback on Amazon. The Kindle version should also be available soon. Here’s the blurb:

Twenty year old Sarah is struggling to cope with a stressful job, demanding parents and an eating disorder, when she is drawn into the dark world of Graffiti and Street Art. Set in the nineties in an unremarkable mid-British town, ‘Owl Eyes’ is a gritty yet funny coming of age story of loss, love, friendships and acceptance. If you like the nineties, gritty yet witty content as well as strong female characters, then you might like this book.
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There are two new calls for submissions for short stories from UK authors.

Kiki Archer and Angela Peach are organising a charity lesbian chicklit anthology with proceeds going to www.rucomingout.com. They are looking for fun and light pieces between 2000 and 5000 words from new and established authors. Please contact Kiki or Angela for more information.

Arachne Press are hosting a one day festival on Short Story day – 21st December. Stories on the theme of time to be read at the festival will be chosen by competition. Please register your interest here - Arachne are seeking funding at the moment and will contact authors.

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Finally, tickets for Polari at the Manchester Literary Festival are now on sale for the 15th October. The event is part of a forthcoming Polari tour and you’ll be able to see the fabulous VG Lee on this Manchester leg. More details here.

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That’s it!

“We’re all going on a summer holiday…”. Cue hits from people searching for Cliff Richard shaped dildos….

Q&A with Karen Campbell (and bonus Giveaway!)

25 Jun

Today it’s our pleasure to welcome Karen Campbell to the site. Hailing from Scotland, and a keen fan of Glasgow Rangers and Irn Bru, Karen is the author of Violet’s Story and the short story collection Little Whispers. Her new novel The Knowing - a Glasgow-based, supernatural crime thriller – is due for release on June 30th.

We also have two signed copies of The Knowing to give away – see the end of the post for more details.

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karencampbell2First up, tell us a bit about yourself. Are you really as grumpy as your bio says you are, or is it all for show?

I am quite grumpy in the morning, especially if I feel that I have been woken up before I have had about twelve hours sleep. (Which I never get with three dogs and an annoyingly chirpy girlfriend from the moment her eyes open.) I get better once I have had a cup of tea, but it’s touch and go some days. I’m joking, I think. I am generally quite a cheerful soul, I just swear too much, and with the Scottish accent it makes me sound grumpy!

the knowingYour new novel The Knowing is out at the end of June. What inspired you to write a “gritty, supernatural crime novel set in Glasgow”?

As a Scot, I think it is important to show Scotland in my writing. I lived in Glasgow for a bit and it has a gritty feel about it. Saying that, I love Glasgow, it has a great vibe and I will always have a softness in my heart for the city. The novel itself came from a short story I wrote and kept going back to, adding another chapter and another until it finally dawned on me that I had a book.

With British lesfic on the up and up, how important is Glasgow as a setting for the book? Would the story have worked as well in another city?

The story could work anywhere but I don’t love other cities as I love Glasgow. It was important for me to have Scottish characters in a Scottish city because I am very proud of my country. Glasgow is a wonderfully vibrant city but it also has a dark underbelly and a colourful history, which makes it perfect for a bit of creepiness.

The Knowing is the first part of a trilogy, and you’re currently writing its sequel, A Love Like Ishinnie. Do you have the series completely mapped out, or are you adapting it and developing it as you go along?

I know how the second book ends and I almost know how the last one ends, but there are a lot of in-betweens, and the fun I have with writing is that I like it to take me along on the ride and see where the story goes.

violet's storyYour debut novel Violet’s Story was a first-person account of mental illness. Were there particular issues that you wanted to address with the novel, and was it difficult to get inside Violet’s head?

This was my first serious dabble into writing, which I started when I was about 21 and went back to over the years. I wanted to show that love was the cause of her madness, and it wasn’t hard for me to get inside Violet’s head (maybe I shouldn’t admit that). I think there is a bit of madness in everyone and, as writers, we can tap into that side of us to make a character credible. Or maybe I’m just doo-lally.

LittleWhispersThere’s quite a gap between Violet’s Story in 2001 and the publication of The Knowing. Was it a case of getting back into writing, or are you sitting on a big stash of unpublished stuff?

I never stopped writing, but it was mostly short stories, nothing to grab me. After recovering from two episodes of cancer, I thought I only have one shot at this life and I need to be doing what it is that makes me happy, and so I knuckled down a bit and got a bit more serious about it. I got plenty of ideas for more books, from this hiatus, and now I just need to get around to actually writing them down instead of having them flying around the recesses of my mind.

If you had to choose between Irn Bru and Rangers getting back up into the Scottish Prem, which would it be?

Rangers every time. There are other drinks but there is only one Glasgow Rangers!

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Many thanks to Karen for letting us peck her head with our questions, and to Lily at Austin Macauley Publishers for setting up the Q&A. You can find out more about Karen and her novels by heading here to her Facebook page.

And now for the GIVEAWAY! If you fancy getting your hands on a signed copy of The Knowing, we have two up for grabs. To be entered into the draw, just leave a comment in this thread or email us at uklesfic @ gmail.com (take out the spaces when you use the address). Closing date for entries is  July 3rd at noon BST. Good luck!

News Roundup: Stella Duffy on 20 Years of Being Published, Ylva Call for Festive Submissions, VG Lee at L Fest, New Books, Giveaways, Blogs and More!

20 Jun

With the national team performing their usual rousing routine of losing horribly and destroying the slender hopes of the three fans who thought they might have a chance of glory, why not take your mind off the footy and settle down with a nice mix of news? There’s a little something for everyone this week…

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Stella Duffy, writer, actorI’ll start with a blog update from Stella Duffy, who has been reflecting on her 20 years of being a published author and offering her thanks to those who have supported her along the way:

Interaction with readers has been one of the greatest unexpected gifts of my writing work. I didn’t realise this interaction would happen, and back when I was first published it happened very differently – without twitter, without facebook, without amazon, goodreads, blogs …

To read the rest of the piece, and feast your eyes upon a vintage Calendar Girl cover, click here.

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ylvaNow, I know that Christmas stockings, tinsel, carols, and festive shenanigans seem like a long way away when you’re currently debating which bikini to pack for your summer holiday, but Ylva are already decking the halls in preparation for a Christmas anthology:

We are looking for lesbian fiction. At least one of the main characters must be a lesbian. If the story is erotica, it must be F/F. All submissions should have Christmas or Hanukkah as the main theme. The stories can be romantic, humorous, or erotic.

christmas-tree-snow-1If you fancy trying your hand at writing a short story (4000-8000 words) for the collection, head to this link for all the necessary details. All the proceeds from the anthology will be donated to the Albert Kennedy Trust in the UK and the Ali Forney Center in New York City. Both organisations provide housing for homeless LGBT youth.

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VGLeeSticking with the authorly theme, if you are heading to the lesbian weekend extravaganza that is L Fest, more details have been posted about the writing workshops with VG Lee:

Workshop 1: A leap of faith: Let’s get emotional! To create believable characters and a credible narrative we have to know how people really feel and react…

Workshop 2: Fast & furious: Perfection in a few hundred words or less. We will work towards writing a piece of flash fiction… 

Hit the above link to read more about each of the sessions. Both workshops are included in the price of the admission, so they really are too good an opportunity to pass up.

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edinburgh BookFest-LightThere’s a veritable embarrassment of riches for lovers of lesbians and lesfic authors at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year.

Set in a specially created tented village in Charlotte Square Gardens in the heart of Edinburgh, the Edinburgh International Book Festival offers something for just about every age and every interest, bringing readers and writers together for inspiration, entertainment and discussion.

The festival runs from 9-25th August, and the schedule has just been made public. Feast your eyes on this little lot (with love to the missus for copying them all down out of the paper for me!)

Carol Ann Duffy (Poet Laureate): 9th August, 18.30

Jackie Kay (author of Reality Reality & Trumpet): 12th August, 18.30

Ali Smith (author of Girl Meets Boy): 15th August, 10.30 & 24th August, 20.30

Val McDermid (author of the Lindsay Gordon series & many more!): 20th August, 17.00

Sarah Waters (author of Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith, and the upcoming The Paying Guests): 25th August, 20.00

Tickets for each event are around £10. For more details and ticket availability/booking, the official site for the festival is here.

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BSB-QueerJusticeI was just tooting around looking for new release info, when I happened upon the cover for Rebecca Buck‘s forthcoming collection of short stories, A Queer Kind of Justice: Prison Tales Across Time. The collection is slated for a September e-book release from Bold Strokes in the category of Historical Fiction. Given Rebecca’s love of all things historical and her recent experience guiding people around the Galleries of Justice museum in Nottingham (“On any given day you might find me dressed as a Victorian warder, a drunken Georgian prisoner, or conducting a mock trial with a group of children!”), she’s probably the perfect person to get her teeth into the subject. There’s no blurb on the BSB site yet, but as soon as one appears, we’ll let you have it!

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faking itAnother author with a new release pending is Jade Winters, whose novel Faking It is scheduled for publication on June 29th. Jade has just updated her blog with a new post about Diabolical Dialogue:

Conversation is an exchange of information – it’s not dialogue… My book was full of conversation. The way I had written my characters’ dialogue was so out of sync with how people spoke in real life. Why did I fall into this trap? Because I wanted to get the message across in a clear and precise manner (whilst boring the pants off the reader). I was scared to have my characters swear, say something rude, you know, all those things that comes naturally to some people.

Hit the link to read the full piece. Faking It is – as yet – blurb-less, but for now you can feast your eyes on its shiny new cover.

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HILD_jacket_closerFree Stuff! Ha! Thought that’d get your attention. There are 5 copies of Nicola Griffith‘s Hild currently up for grabs over at goodreads. The giveaway ends July 8th and is open to residents of Great Britain only. All you need to do is hop over to the link and add your name to the hat. Good luck.

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JodyKlaireJody Klaire has a new blog post over at Women and Words, where she chats about her début novel The Empath and the challenge of finding a unique voice for her characters:

Well, my writing is a little different, as are my characters. When you meet Aeron Lorelei, my protagonist in The Empath, you will see from the very first page that she is unique. Her voice, her speech, her thoughts and feelings are hers alone. I never intended to create characters who were so very… well… different but I hope one thing that resonates is that when you pick up one of my books, it’s unmistakably mine.

Apologies for not quite hitting the giveaway deadline with this one, but it fell between two news posts!

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Right, three night shifts and a bunch of rowdy, drunken, and inconsolable footy fans await. I sincerely hope that your weekend turns out to be better than mine…

 

News roundup: L Fest videos, an awful lot of blogging and an event or two

13 Jun

A quick gambol through the news…

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KikiAndBoobsAnd this just in…oh God, I knew it was coming. The L Fest artist of the week videos have kicked off with the indie author panel who may not appear as you expect… Have a look at this short fun video. Kiki Archer‘s done a typically fab job of making it a lot of fun with an effortlessly cool appearance from Jade Winters. (Ha! Clare Ashton you are totally in it too! – Cari H xx)

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DSC_4067 - CopyAuthors have been busy blogging again. Andrea Bramhall caught the writing process blog hop. She talks about her work in progress The Chameleon – “the story of Amhale Zuma and Imogen Frost; they are multiracial childhood friends in a South Africa driven by fear and separated by hate when children are colour blind and the eyes of the world were watching as Apartheid began to crumble.

It’s nice to see Andrea’s a big planner – far too many of these nonchalant pantsters around.

I have a huge poster sized diagram of a story arc up on the wall in my study.  When I complete my research I outline each chapter–briefly–on a sticky note and put it on the appropriate part of my arc, different coloured depending on who’s point of view the chapter will be written from. OCD, right?”

Be proud of your fastidiousness Andrea. Here’s the full piece.

Andrea’s Nightingale was also reviewed on C-spot reviews this week. Here’s what the Bookgeek had to say of her story of love beyond and despite brutal arranged marriages and abduction.

Andrea Bramhall put out a book which, although it contains a love-story, is difficult to be labelled as a romance. It is in the form a romance-cum-thriller a thought-provoking exploration beyond the curtains the genre of lesbian fiction usually accepts for itself…So let me recommend Nightingale to anyone, lesbian or feminist, who would like to read a thought-provoking, well-written novel about the clash of cultures happening on a daily bases right where we live

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london callingClare Lydon has been blogging over at Women and Words. She talks about the London setting of her best-selling debut London Calling.

The lead characters lived in zone one, based smack in the middle of London Town. They got the tube, they ate in local restaurants, they drank London lager, they lived and breathed the city. Quite a few readers commented that London came across as a lead character in the novel and I loved that description. I wanted to portray a sense of real-life London, of what it’s like to live in the city I’ve called home for the past 15 years.

Clare is spurning the capital for her next book, but don’t worry, she promises she’ll be back in this fascinating city for her third novel. Here’s the full piece.

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BSB_Secret_LiesAmy Dunne, author of the YA novel Secret Lies, has been getting one or two things off her chest. In a  guest post on E. Kristin Anderson’s blog, Amy responds to an accusation that coming out stories are no longer valuable and that young people don’t read:

I can’t fathom how someone could nonchalantly say that young people don’t read nowadays. If that was the case, why is YA fiction so huge?….Coming out stories can be a lifeline in an otherwise bleak and lonely world. They show there is a brighter world beyond the high school years. You’re not alone. Who you are and who you love isn’t wrong or sinful. And above everything else, they show that unconditional acceptance, love, and happiness are definitely possible in the future.

Go Amy! Here’s the full post.

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nicola griffithThe Nicola Griffith goodreads Q&A that we mentioned in last week’s news, is now live. Nicola will be answering a question a day throughout June, and all you need to do to get involved is sign up with goodreads. This is the direct link to the Q&A and Nicola’s answers so far. For those of you who were wondering about a sequel to Hild, Nicola is currently “into it” and its working title is Menewood. In her own words, Nicola has now “drawn the line under banging the Hild drum” and has been considering future blog topics in this post. Comments are welcome at her site.

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val mcdermidNot content with being a best-selling author, and having her work adapted for television, Val McDermid has turned her hand to penning a radio drama. Deadheading - a comic thriller set amongst the plots and sheds of a Lancashire allotment – stars Julie Hesmondhalgh and Miriam Margolyes, in fifteen minute instalments. You can catch up with the aired episodes here (only three days left to run on the first!) and read a short interview with Val discussing the project here:

My favourite line, which I couldn’t shoehorn in, was about an allotment society chairman who held the post for several years and always held the meetings at his substantial house. ‘And do you know, in all those years, he never so much as offered us a cup of tea or a biscuit,’ one outraged committee member said.

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cover_hearts-and-flowers-borderOver on her brand new blog, LT Smith has revealed the origins behind her online pseudonym Fingersmith, and how the Sarah Waters novel pulled her back into loving the written word:

Just reading that first paragraph made me fall in love all over again. It was as if my heart suddenly filled with all the emotion I had locked away for far too long and allowed me accept reading back into my life.

You can read the full piece here.

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VGLeeOn to events and VG Lee has a busy couple of months ahead. You can catch her being interviewed on BBC Sussex and Surrey Radio on Sunday 29th June at 5 – 6 p.m. as a guest on Rosie Wilby’s Sunday Night Live. Then she’ll be moving swiftly on to a Laughing Cows comedy night in London – more detail here. And then she’ll be running two workshops up at L Fest: A Leap of Faith – creating believable characters and a credible narrative and Fast and Furious – perfection in a few hundred words or less. There are more details on the L Fest workshops here. She’ll be back down south for a charity cabaret fundraiser for Pride in Brighton at the end of July – full details here.

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Finally for those of you who missed last weekend’s Bold Strokes Festival, you can catch the author readings and some very entertaining panels  on Youtube.

The event was also covered in the Nottingham Post.  The article has a picture of the authors looking very serious and writerly. But it also looked like this:

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You can find more photos of the event on our Facebook page here, including the UKLesFic eds attempting a Charlie’s Angels pose…seemed like a good idea at the time.

Ta ra!

 

Q&A With Sky Croft

10 Jun

Under the UK LesFic Q&A spotlight today is Sky Croft, Regal Crest author of the Mountain Rescue and Amazonia series, lover of wilderness and women, and 2014 Goldie nominee. With two novels set for release later this year (Amazonia: An Impossible Choice in August and Mountain Rescue: On The Edge in December), we’d like to thank Sky for finding the time to let us pick her brains…

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mountain rescueFirst things first, congratulations on the Goldie nomination for Mountain Rescue: The Ascent. How did you feel when you saw your name on the shortlist? And who would you thank most in an acceptance speech?

I was over the moon when I first saw my name on the shortlist – though I re-read it umpteen times, thinking I must’ve misunderstood somehow. I never imagined I’d be a finalist among such big-name authors!

In an acceptance speech (which is really getting ahead of myself!) I’d have to thank my parents the most. They always believed in me, and their support allowed me to realise my dream of becoming an author. Also, I’d like to thank the readers for their kind words regarding Mountain Rescue: The Ascent, as I never would’ve had the courage to enter the awards otherwise!

Tell us a little about yourself. How would your nearest and dearest describe you?

Hmm…let me think. Most people say I’m funny, though whether they’re laughing at me or with me I can never tell! I like to think with.

I love nothing more than a long walk in the countryside or down at my local beach, followed by an evening at the cinema. I’m an avid film buff and my DVD collection takes up half my home! When I’m not writing or working my way through another TV box set, I’m usually enjoying the rare few minutes of free-time with my fiancée and our pet budgie.

My family would say I’m caring, overly sensitive and talk way too much.

Personally, I think a comical, hypersensitive, non-stop talker is quite an apt description of me.

Your work is very varied: the supernatural Shadowstalkers, the adventure romance Mountain Rescue series and the fantasy Amazonia series. What, if anything, links them? Do you feel there are common themes?

ShadowStalkersBoth the Mountain Rescue and Amazonia series are romances at heart, so the obvious theme there is love, and how it enriches our lives.

Family is a central theme throughout my books. In Shadowstalkers, the Valentines are an incredibly tight-knit family. Amazonia displays the bonds of sisterhood, with both the twins, and the ties of the tribe as a whole. Mountain Rescue shows how friends (the rescue team) can become family without needing the connection by blood.

Loss is also a recurring theme. Mountain Rescue and Amazonia both have the loss of the family home, while Shadowstalkers has the loss of a parent. Over the course of the stories, the characters have to come to terms with those losses and move forward with their lives. They have to find hope again after tragedy.

All three of my books explore heroism, without it being overly contrived. I’m a big believer in female empowerment, so my stories tend to have feisty, strong-minded women at the core.

The sequel to Amazonia is out in August. What can readers look forward to in book two?

amazonia_impossible_choiceThere’s a wedding in store for the main couple (which I really enjoyed writing), and an Indiana Jones style treasure hunt with lots of trials for the Amazons to overcome. The women also have to face extreme weather, predatory animals, and deadly foes. They’re certainly kept busy in this book! Oh, and the past resurfaces in an unexpected way.

I was always fascinated by the idea of putting Shale into a situation where she had to choose between her twin or her love. I know I’m morbid, but I like to challenge my characters, and I felt that dilemma would be the biggest of her life. So naturally I took the story there in book two. You’ll have to read it to see what happens!

You say on your bio that you’re an “avid film buff”. Which of your books would you most like to see up on the big screen, and who would you cast in the leading roles?

I would love to see Shadowstalkers as a TV series. I think there’s lots of scope within that world to make numerous stand-alone episodes, as well as a bigger story arc for a season. Cassie’s such a conflicted heroine, her story would be fascinating to watch on-screen.

For the matriarch of the family, Eve Valentine, I would pick Lena Olin. Not only is she beautiful, she portrays strong characters without losing her femininity. She’d be ideal for showing both sides of Eve – the protective mother, and the lethal qualities of a shadowstalker.

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Summer Glau – lovely lady, but she does have an unfortunate habit of starring in doomed TV shows…

As the lead, Cassie Valentine, I see Summer Glau playing the role. Cassie is written as exceptionally attractive, which Summer certainly is, and I could easily picture her kicking ass (witnessed when she was the terminator in The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Despite Cassie’s physical prowess, she is vulnerable mentally, and I think Summer would be wonderful at portraying that aspect of the character (she did a fantastic job playing the damaged River in Firefly/Serenity).

I could easily envisage Evan Rachel Wood as Vicki Valentine. I loved Evan’s depiction of the spoilt Queen Sophie-Anne on True Blood. Vicki’s self-importance causes quite a few problems for the Valentine clan, and sometimes you love her, sometimes you hate her. I think Evan would be more than capable of taking on such a misunderstood character.

Where do you get your ideas and how do you start developing stories?

I love to daydream. I can sit for hours thinking over different characters and scenarios. When ideas emerge, I focus on those that have enough merit to hold my interest, and I begin to ask questions around that subject. An obvious example would be: What’s the main character’s background? What led them to be in the scenario they’re now in? Etc. These questions lead me deeper into the original idea, and from that a plot begins to take shape.

What has surprised you most about the feedback on your books?amazonia (1)

I’ve been surprised by how many people are committed to the series of Mountain Rescue, and their loyalty to the characters and the story. They really want to see what happens next in the lives of Sydney and Saber, where they’re going as a couple, and what adventures they have next on the mountainside. I certainly hoped there’d be a following for them (to allow me to write many follow-ons!) but it’s exhilarating to realise so many people relate to the characters, which, as I mentioned in an earlier question, is what pushed me to enter the book into the Golden Crown Literary Society awards.

A lot of people seem surprised that I vary my work genre-wise, and that in turn surprises me. I’ve never understood why an author needs to be boxed into one area of writing. Even from a young age I’ve always crossed the genre-lines. For me personally, I feel it helps to keep my work fresh – it stimulates my mind to create other worlds, and other scenarios for the characters to contend with.

What’s up next?

I’d like to revisit Shadowstalkers and write the sequel for that, as I’ve already got quite a bit of the story planned out. Another Mountain Rescue is definitely on the cards, and after those I have a sci-fi tale I’d like to tell. I’ve also got my own wedding to plan :-)

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Cheers, Sky!

For more information on Sky and her novels, her blog is here, and her official author page at Regal Crest is here.

 

 

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