News roundup: a new author, new reviews, the BSB event and an offer or two

23 May

Good evening. Here is the news. And, blimey, there’s quite a bit of it….

bsbprogramNot long now until the Bold Strokes Nottingham gig which kicks off early on Saturday 6th June. Don’t miss the first session at 11.15 all about “Getting Some Action: diving in and getting it done”. The UK’s Cari Hunter will be on the panel with a couple of new authors from Down Under, Mardi Alexander and Michelle Grubb. Over the weekend you can catch readings and lively quizzes featuring I Beacham, Andrea BramhallRebecca S Buck, Crin Claxton, Lesley Davis, Amy Dunne, Jane Fletcher with Justine Saracen and David Swatling joining them from the US.

Entry is free and there’s lots of opportunity to socialise with the authors, and I believe there’s even free food at the end of the weekend. Click on the image for the full listings.

In preparation for the event, Lesley Davis has also been blogging on the BSB Nottingham site where she talks about the voices in her head:

I’m working on a new story now, no spoilers for that just yet, but the voices are back! I’ve got one set telling me scenes from what I am writing and another set that are telling me what they want once I’m finished!

royalromanticAnother BSB author, Jenny Frame has also been busy blogging with the publication of A Royal Romance (now available on Amazon). She discusses how her politics have softened over the years and also the politics of her characters:

When I grew up into a teenager, and my political principles started to form, I began to think about the people at the bottom, not at the top, and the injustice of riches being handed to someone by an accident of birth. I wanted to rebel against the establishment, not peer through rose tinted glasses at the history of the past. By the time I got to college and then university, I had very similar opinions to that of my character, Beatrice Elliot.

You can read the full piece on the Bold Strokes blog.

no good reasonAnd finally, in the BSB bunch, Cari Hunter‘s latest novel hasn’t even hit the shelves and it’s already had its first glowing review. C-Spot Reviews got their mitts on an early copy of Cari’s first novel in her Dark Peak crime series and this is what they had to say:

A new Cari Hunter novel? What mayhem will engulf her characters this time? The answer: Truly terrible things, as well as truly lovely things, abound in the mystery-thriller No Good Reason. “She hurt” are the opening words, and this is a bodily hurt. The plot takes off immediately as a captive woman makes her bloody escape and then — Well, this is not a romance, dear reader, so brace yourself.

Sound good? Well it is. Read the full review here.

unbrokenLet’s move on to a new author to this blog, Natalie Debrabandere. Natalie has just published her first book Unbroken. She lives in Leicestershire where she alternates between running between raindrops and perfecting lasagne-making. Somewhere in there is guitar-playing and writing too. It is unknown whether she has cats, dogs or children, but she does have a shiny new blog where she talks about the background to Unbroken and its possible sequel. Here’s the blurb for her debut:

When Liz Jackson arrives at the Whanau Ano Holiday Park on the beautiful west coast of New Zealand, the last thing she expects to find is love. Fresh from an abusive relationship, the British surgeon wants nothing but peace, solitude, and time to indulge in her passion for painting.

Kristan Holt is a kayak instructor and a helicopter pilot. Handsome and charismatic, she owns the park and the Activity Centre, and when the beautiful doctor literally knocks her off her feet one morning in the café, she leaves an indelible mark on her heart.

When both women fall in love it looks as if both have finally found the missing piece in their lives. But someone will stop at nothing, including murder, to deny them the future that they want.

Unbroken is available on Amazon.

A bit of news from Angela Peach. The lucky thing is going to the GCLS conference in New Orleans. She’ll be doing a reading as well as appearing on a panel alongside Dillon Watson, Riley Adair Garret, Sandra Moran and Ann McMan on the Friday (24th July) at 14.30. If you’re also heading New Orleans way here’s the full schedule.

TheLongWeekend-640x1024Moving on to reviews. The relatively new site The Lesbian Review has been making its way through UK authors. Already a fan of London Calling, the site reviewed Clare Lydon‘s The Long Weekend:

The long weekend by Clare Lydon is a cute lesbian book about an old set of university friends meeting for their 20 year reunion during a short vacation over the Easter weekend…I like the way Lydon writes. Her books are well paced and easy to read. The Long Weekend is light lesbian chick lit with an entertaining storyline that does not rely on sex to keep it interesting.

Full review here.

secretliesAmy Dunne‘s Secret Lies was also reviewed:

I like the way Amy Dunne writes. It is clean, fast paced and she manages to build rapport between her characters. It was a sweet romance with a lot of angst that will appeal to the teen market.

pennanceAs was Clare Ashton‘s Pennance:

The book is utterly unique. You will search to find anything comparable in the lesbian genre. It is well written and really dark. Some people tout this as a ghost story and it is easy to see why. It is moody and oppressive. Yet it isn’t really a ghost story. Not in the traditional sense at least.

You can find the full review here.

Coincidentally, Pennance is also to have a new lease of life as a translation. Verlag Krug & Schadenberg will be publishing a German edition next year.

the repercussionsMeanwhile, Catherine Hall‘s The Repercussions was reviewed at A Life in Books:

Hall’s exploration of the morality of war photography and its effects on those who practice it are vivid and immediate. All this is achieved in an intensely involving story – moving, poignant and often surprising. It’s a novel which succeeds in treating a deadly serious subject in a gripping, humane and thoroughly engrossing way. I’m looking forward to seeing what Hall does next.

You can read the full review here.

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Before I sign off, a latest release and a couple of nice offers:

arc over timeJen Silver‘s second book, Arc Over Time, is now out on Kindle and available from Amazon. The paperback will follow at a later date and Jen will be joining us on UKLesFic to talk some more about her new novel very soon.

The_Full_LegacyJane Retzig has written in to tell us that she has a number of free downloads of the audio version of The Full Legacy. Anyone interested should get in contact with her a soon as possible (janeretzig@gmail.com) and let her know if they need a copy from Audible’s UK or US site.

And if you’re super quick you might be able to get hold of Manda Scott‘s No Good Deed for a snip at 1.99 for the Kindle. Here’s the link to this bargainous book.

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Happy reading this weekend and a toodle pip from UKLesFic!

The Hystery App: Guest blog by VT Davy

15 May

VT Davy’s books revolve around a question or an issue. A Very Civil Wedding dramatised the scenario of the next in-line to the throne wanting to marry her girlfriend. Vic’s latest book takes an appealing idea of being able to film the lives of women through the ages. Read on to find out about the repercussions.

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If your tablet or smartphone had an app on it that allowed you to input any date and time from the past and then enabled you to use the device’s camera to film your current location at that date and time, would you download it? Think of the possibilities…

Want to research your family tree? You could go to the house lived in by your ancestors, input when they lived there, and find out more about their daily lives.

thehysteryappWant to witness historic events at first hand? You could go to the location where the event was supposed to have taken place, input the date and time, and see it from any angle you wished.

Want to set the record straight? You could go to a location where some disputed historic happening occurred, input the date and time, and publish your findings.

There’s just one restriction: only women who are deceased are visible to the camera. Even so, it would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? Or would it?

This is the premise of my latest novel, The Hystery App. The app comes about by accident when Dr Brogan Miller and her wife, Dr Honor Smith, are experimenting with sending a personal satellite into space, something that amateur scientists are now doing. A freak occurrence turns the satellite into a sort of time machine that allows mobile devices communicating with it to film video of women from the past.

Things start to go wrong when the app, like all technology before it, starts to be abused by people exploiting women for their own ends. The novel draws deliberate parallels with the use and abuse of the Internet to look at the question of how society treats women and girls, but also how women and girls treat themselves. Using glimpses of the uploads from the Hystery app, it shines a light on some of the milestones in Britain for the women’s movement and compares them to snippets from today’s multimedia culture to evaluate how far women have come and how far they still have to go.

In writing the novel, I am concerned about the state of feminism today. In the last twenty-five years, we seem to have slipped backwards. We live in a world where the top female artists in the music industry sing strutting anthems about girl power whilst wearing nothing more than a scrap of material in the relevant places. Compare their wardrobe to the top male artists in the music industry and you’ll see that equality has some way to go.

What does this say about the respect the managers and producers have for their talent? Your voice isn’t really good enough; we’d better get you to strip off? More than that, what does it say about the respect that the performer has for their talent?

Images like these stream onto the screens of teenage girls providing a very confused message for the next generation of women. What are they being taught here? To be a strong, powerful woman, like the song says, you have to expose your body for the titillation of men?

No doubt, the performers would argue that women’s lib means having the choice to wear (or not) what you like without being dictated to by men. Wearing very little to showcase their vocal talent is their choice, then. If that’s true (and I’m not sure it really is as free a choice as they think it is), that’s fine. However, because your music is purchased by impressionable young girls, would a more responsible choice not be to be a strong, powerful woman who has reached the top of her profession without using her body in that way?

On the flip side, women who have reached the top of their profession in politics, business or academia and who don’t use their bodies in that way are trolled mercilessly on the Internet and in the tabloid papers for the way that they look. And not just by men. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. It is this dichotomy that intrigues me and I hope it will provoke a reaction in readers, too.

VT_Davy_jpg_210x1000_q85As well as making readers think about an issue, reading should be fun, which is why The Hystery App has at its heart the relationship between Brogan and Honor and, without giving anything away, a stranger called Erin James, who comes into Brogan’s life at a crisis point. The story, a combination of romance and science fiction with lots of humour and observations on family life thrown in, and the love triangle at the centre, I guarantee, will be unlike any you have read before. I hope readers will enjoy it on lots of levels.

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You can buy The Hystery App on Amazon and find out more about Vic at Liberation Publishing.

News Roundup: Sarah Waters Hits the Stage, New Romance from KE Payne, Blogs from Jody Klaire, Clare Lydon, Jenny Frame, & Cari Hunter, Angie Peach Heads to GCLS, and Loads More!

9 May

Ahh, the sun is shining between rain showers, the birds are singing, and the Tories have finally stopped ringing me up at inopportune moments. Life is good and the news is absolutely hopping. So without further ado…

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KePayneLet’s start this week with a snippet about a new romance from K.E. Payne, who contacted the blog to let us know she has her seventh novel due out with Bold Strokes in October. The novel’s title is When I Knew You and its blurb goes like this:

When Ash Wells and Nat Braithwaite are thrown together after seventeen years apart, old resentments and passions are rekindled. The days of their heady teenage relationship are long gone – or are they? As they put aside their differences to honour the memory of a friend, Ash and Nat learn that sometimes, to build a future, you have to be willing to let go of the past.

K.E has promised to let us know when she gets the cover for this one sorted, so keep an eye on the news for updates.

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frog musicAwards season is continuing apace, with Emma Donoghue‘s Frog Music and Sarah WatersThe Paying Guests both shortlisted for the Third Annual Bisexual Book Awards. The Bi Writers Association will announce their winners in a ceremony to be held Saturday 30th May, with Waters and Donoghue competing against each other in the Bisexual Fiction category. You can find the full list of nominees here. Good luck to both Brits!

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We’ll stick with Sarah Waters for a moment, as word of a stage adaptation of Tipping the Velvet has sneaked onto the ‘net. Waters’ much-loved début novel is to be adapted for the stage as part of the Lyric Hammersmith‘s new season:

The play opens this autumn, and will run from 18th September to 24th October. This new adaptation of the novel by acclaimed playwright Laura Wade (Posh, Royal Court/West End) has been in the planning for four years. It will be directed by Lyndsey Turner (Chimerica, Almeida/West End).

From October the play will also be running in Edinburgh at the Edinburgh Lyceum, with the final performance scheduled for Saturday 21 November. As ever, more details can be found by hitting the link.

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vgleepolariThe Still Got Manners website has reviewed Polari‘s recent evening at Glasgow’s AyeWrite! festival. The event featured VG Lee: “who kicked things off in riotous style with accounts of her attempts at writing lesbian erotica. The droll sense of humour that runs through her writing is made even more hilarious by her impeccable comedy timing”, and Jackie Kay “with the talent of the true poet, she had audience members wiping away tears one moment with a lyrical tribute to her mother (and a reminder never to dismiss people as simply ‘old’)”. 

You can find the full review at the above link. Upcoming events from Polari feature Karen Campbell and Kerry Hudson. For more details see their schedule here.

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clare lydonSkipping onto blogs now, and Clare Lydon has decided that Book Editing: Not for Wimps in a new post detailing the trials and tribulations of cutting her next novel down to size:

With The Long Weekend, my beta readers brought up the fact I kept using the word ‘arse’, and had all the characters slapping each other’s bums every other scene – so I changed it. In This London Love, my beta readers told me people kept cocking their heads, putting their hands on their hips and turning on their heels every five minutes – all terribly camp and dramatic, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Clare’s third novel, This London Love – “not strictly a sequel” to London Calling – is due out in June, and the full blog entry is at the first link.

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blindtrustJody Klaire has been busy getting ready for the release of two novels. With Blind Trust, the sequel to The Empath, due out in summer, and a new romance La Vie En Bleu also pending, Jody has three blog updates to get people in the mood. You can find a primer for Blind Trust here and a character study on Renee Black from The Empath here. Rounding it all up is Jody discussing writing a romance when she’s better known for thrillers, along with a sneak-peek at the blurb for La Vie En Bleu, a snippet of which reads like this:

My name is Pippa Saunders and I have a BIG secret. You see I am engaged to Prince Charming, AKA Doug Fletcher, (Well unless it’s a golf day,) and my best friend and I, Rebecca (The one with the terrible haircut) live in our pokey little flat and are wonderful underachievers.  My life is pretty simple, I go to work in an office, go out to dinner with the handsome Doug and enjoy girlie DVD nights with Rebecca. It’s how I like it. Simple, uncomplicated and… well… Rebecca says boring…

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a royal romanceOver at the Bold Strokes blog, Jenny Frame, whose début A Royal Romance is out this month, is the feature of a new interview. In an interesting read, Jenny field questions about her influences, writing methods, and inspiration, amongst numerous other topics:

I always wanted to tell a story that was a modern retelling of a fairy tale. So my knight in shining armour and handsome prince is a handsome butch instead, who falls in love not with a suitable princess, but the village girl who protests outside the palace gates…It also gave me the opportunity to write about history and politics, two subjects I love, but still keep at its heart a sweet romance, with a healthy dose of spice.

Read more at this link.

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laddow3Finally in our blog hop I’ve chucked some pretty pictures of the Dark Peak and a shot of some rather gnarly-looking sheep onto my blog as a scene setter for No Good Reason. The snaps were mostly taken during the last year’s worth of hikes and include a few spectacular snowy shots from what turned out to be a good winter for walking. The pics and a bit of Dark Peak history can be found at the link.

And sneaking in just before the deadline, my freebie author copies arrived, which means only one thing: Giveaway! I’ve put two copies of No Good Reason up for grabs, either here at my blog or on my Facebook page. Deadline for comments/likes/discussion of biscuits is whenever I get my arse out of bed after my night shift (officially: noon GMT) on Wednesday 13th May. Best of British to you all.

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playing my loveFor those readers who might be reading this across the pond, or for anyone fond of travelling, Angela Peach will be heading Stateside in July to play at the Golden Crown Literary Society conference. Taking place 22-26 July, the conference is an extravaganza of LesFic, featuring panels, signings, readings and discussions, and culminating in the Goldies award ceremony. Although the schedule is still a work in progress, Angela has confirmed that she will be appearing on one of the panels. Hit the main GCLS site if you fancy making the trip or to have a toot at the finalists for this year’s awards.

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DSC_4199

If you’re more of a homebody, Vic Oldham has offered a glimpse of what this year’s Bold Strokes UK Nottingham bash has in store. With 13 BSB authors in attendance, the event promises to be bigger than ever and will include two after-event parties, the chance for prospective authors to pitch their novels, panels, chats, signings, and something called a Mayhem Team. I wish I could shed some light on the latter, but I honestly have no clue. As ever, the weekend will be held at the Waterstones store in the centre of Nottingham and it takes place 5-7th June.

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News roundup: Goldie shortlists, a lot of blogging, new books and events!

25 Apr

The awards season is in full swing and over the last few days the shortlists for the Goldies leaked out, and the UK has put in a jolly good show.

nightingalestars collidethat certain somethingLittleWhispers

Three authors made it on to the short list for Traditional Romance from a huge list of nominations: Andrea Bramhall for Nightingale, HP Munro for Stars Collide, and Clare Ashton for That Certain Something.

Karen Campbell put in a double showing in the Anthology (Fiction) category. Her collection, Little Whispers, was shortlisted and she also contributed to the UK anthology L is For… Lots of familiar authors in that (Kiki Archer, VG Lee, Clare Lydon etc.).

Jody Klaire is a finalist in the Debut Author category with The Empath, Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests popped up in the Romantic Intrigue section and KE Payne’s Because of Her was shortlisted in the YA category.

l is fortheempath_lgBSB_Because_of_HerAplacesomewherRJ Samuel is a popular gal and A Place Somewhere made it onto the shortlists of both the Ann Bannon popular choice category and the Tee Corinne Cover Design Award.

High fives all round for a good showing in the American dominated awards, or perhaps a cordial handshake will a solemn nod of approval. Winners will be announced at the GCLS conference in New Orleans on 22nd July. Fingers crossed lots of those Brits get a nice glass lump of an award on the night.  Good luck everyone.

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Right, moving on with the rest of this week’s business.

no good reasonCari Hunter’s imminent arrival has popped its head out for a good look. You can have a sneak peek at the prologue and first two chapters of No Good Reason over here. Cari promises the book will be Brittier than a buggering cold day at Blackpool and the extract features the text “Running late. Got puked on. Fancy a chippy tea at mine instead?

soul selectaGill McKnight’s Soul Selecta was reviewed over on C-Spot Reviews. Its review of Gill’s tale of the love-matching Soul Selecta begins: “Soul Selecta is an odd novel. A funny, stimulating, enjoyable read, but still a little odd. I like odd, however, so it’s all good.”  And it ends: “Soul Selecta ignores most lesfic plot arcs and completely entertained me with trashy Olympian gods, young lesbian love, some hot sex, a conundrum, and enough twisty fun that I consulted several times with my cats about what might happen next. Recommended.” Well I’d say. Sounds fabulous.

PLayinginshadowLesley Davis has been blogging over on the Bold Strokes site about characters and stories that stay with you when reading and playing games. Trent, from her novel Playing Passion’s Game, is one character who always has her ear and Lesley talks about her reappearance in her latest novel Playing in Shadow:

She’s one of my favourite characters I have created and I have so much more to share about her. So while romance weaves it spell around Bryce and Scarlet, Trent and Juliet will be preparing for motherhood. And as you can imagine, with these characters, it’s not going to be all boring bibs and baby grows!

You can read the full piece here.

riding in carsEvangeline Jennings has been over at Women and Words talking about the route she has taken on her way to publishing her latest book, Riding in Cars With Girls – it’s a roundabout one that you can follow here. The book itself is a collection of short stories, from “ESCORT – A high class hooker fucks a Mafia Don to death” to “TRANS AM – A widow hunts her husband’s killer across America. Route 666.” Hop in over here for a ride.

The_Full_LegacyMeanwhile Jane Retzig‘s The Full Legacy (a romance with a hint of the supernatural) has been published as an audiobook. It’s available on Audible, Amazon and will be available from iTunes soon. It’s narrated by Elizabeth Shelly who Jane says has done a brilliant job.

Clare Lydon reported from the Indie Author Fair in London:

it was also a real treat to be in Foyles’ flagship bookshop selling my novels – I was immensely proud. Plus, if you could bottle the upbeat energy in that room and sell it, you’d make a mint. After visiting The London Book Fair and hearing much indie author bashing, it was brilliant to soak up and add to the enthusiasm and gung-ho attitude of all the authors and readers present. We’re living proof that publishing is changing and only for the better.

Read her full article here.

runRun, the debut novel from new author Pat Adams-Wright, has hit the digital shelves. Here’s the blurb.

For Charlie Reinette, it was a typical Friday night out with her work mates. Or so she thought… Instead, she found herself in the midst of a domestic dispute, rescuing a woman she hardly knows and setting off a deadly chain of events. Harbouring the rescued woman finds them having to run from murder and the infernos raging behind them. Not quite the woman her friends think she is, Charlie has to face her past, her future, and everything in between as she fights for her life and the life of the woman she saved. Can the two women, Charlie’s group of eclectic friends, and the police catch the man terrorising them across Europe? How will they stay ahead of his game? One thing’s for certain…they need to RUN!

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Finally a few items in brief.

Should you start a novel with dialogue? No but yes says Jen Silver. She talks about one of the many writing rules and her new novel here.

Rachel Dax, author of the Pope Joan series, has started a fundraiser for her next film. A Delicate Love is a short film about “a young man’s first taste of love leads to a collision of fantasy and food“. Click here for further details.

Orla Broderick started an initiative to fill the bare shelves of a local Women’s Aid shelter with books. She donated two copies of her January Flower and put out a plea for other authors to donate. The support has been so fantastic that she’s extending the scheme to more shelters in Scotland. If you would like to donate please read about Orla’s plans here.

Polari is off to the seaside with a new venue in Hastings for the next six months. You can find out more about Polari on Sea’s first event on Facebook. And after last year’s success, Paul Burston has secured funding for another Polari national tour. Watch this space for further details.

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…Oh I do like to be beside the seaside… But I’ll settle for sitting in a sunny garden with my feet in a paddling pool. Tatty bye!

Guest post from Karen Campbell: Diary of a Broken Heart

20 Apr

diaryFresh from being shortlisted for a Goldie award for Little Whispers, Karen Campbell is here to talk about her new book Diary of a Broken Heart. Karen is not one to shy away from brutal subjects. Violet’s Story tracks how a woman comes to be admitted to a mental institution and The Knowing is a gripping supernatural thriller. Her readers love her for tackling those different and difficult stories, and last year she won the Ultimate Planet’s award for new author of the year.

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I’ve never written a blog but I thought I would try my hand. Why not? I have a new book out called Diary of a Broken Heart and I want to talk about this until the Highland Cows come home. (I am unapologetically Scottish.) I wrote this book for two reasons.

One is because I wanted a heroine who was ordinary, as that’s where the real heroes are found (in everyday life) and because I wanted to highlight the risks of cervical cancer to lesbians.

So, my narrator is Viv, a proudly over-weight lady, who works the night shift in Tesco. Not your average lesfic heroine. I wanted to write about a woman you could walk beside in a shop and not know her struggles, I wanted a face you could see and forget because she was ordinary. People don’t like to see themselves in books because then they’ll have to think about their lives. I’m sorry but if you want a lesbian fantasy where a rich movie producer seduces the hot lesbian actress, don’t bother reading me. If you want to read about a woman, like you or me, who fails and lies and has weaknesses, then you should.

I wanted Viv to be happy in her own skin. She likes being over-weight. I’ve been criticised because I wanted to call the book “Diary of a Fat Cow”. People saw it as a slight but, to me, that was judging a book by its title. Viv is desired, she has girlfriends, a job where she is valued, friends who want her support and advice. There is nothing derogatory there. I think, if anything, it has shown that a bit of flab makes no difference in life. That was important to me, that Viv was unhindered in life because of her weight. She was hindered by the weights in her mind.

Photo Emma Bailey Photography

Photo Emma Bailey Photography

The second thing I wanted to show was that lesbians who don’t sleep with men still get cervical cancer. I should know, I am one. I’m not traumatised by the experience but I am grateful to be alive and if one woman has a smear that saves her life then it’s worth it.

Every emotion I’ve ever felt has come through my pen and not my actions. I don’t know how to live the words I write but I can make endings for my characters as though they were real people that life cries out for.

I’m not good at doing myself justice without sounding arrogant but if my Viv were a real person, she would be my best friend. Read it and see.

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Thanks Karen. You can buy Diary of a Broken Heart on Amazon and catch up with Karen on Facebook.

Gateway Girls – A Guest Blog by Evangeline Jennings

14 Apr

evangeline jenningsToday we have the pleasure of welcoming Evangeline Jennings as guest blogger. Born and raised in Liverpool, Evangeline now spends most of her time in Austin, Texas. She is the author of Riding in Cars with Girls, a crime-themed collection of essentially feminist, very noir, and almost entirely queer short stories and novellas, and she is the founding editor of the Pankhearst writers collective. She describes herself as an unreliable narrator who tells lies for fun and profit. Mostly fun…

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When I was younger and confused about all kinds of things, it was a rare pleasure to discover a writer or character I could connect with. Val McDermid’s Lindsay Gordon was one. Mary Wing’s Emma Victor another.  I found them sitting on my father’s bookshelves, side-by-side.

Looking back, they were my gateway drugs. The Women’s Press was my dealer. And my life was never the same again.

Lindsay was a Scottish journalist. Emma a burned-out publicist working on a women’s help line in Boston. Later she moved to San Francisco – where else? – and set up as a proper licensed detective. One day, Emma introduced me to Pam Nilsen, Barbara Wilson’s Seattle-based printer and part-time detective.

dog collar murdersIn The Dog Collar Murders, Pam took me to a conference on sexuality, taught me about safe words, and openly discussed all kinds of tantalizing ideas I had thought were better left unspoken.

That was when I was hooked.

Crime fiction, I realized, wasn’t only Belgian moustaches, country houses, ageing spinsters, and dashing rough-tough heroes with a glint in their eye, a quip on their lip, and far too much testosterone stuffed down their pants. And it could say much more about my life than whodunit?

Katherine V Forrest’s Kate Delafield came to me next – a University friend had noticed a trend in my reading – and that was pretty much that. Kate was hot.

Sure, I’ve flirted with straight women from time to time. The Women’s Press published Marcia Muller, whose early Sharon McCone might as well have been queer, and suggested I take a look at Sara Paretsky’s VI Warshawski. Suddenly I was on a long and winding road that took me through Liza Cody, Lauren Henderson, Linda Barnes, Carol O’Connell, and Karen Kijewski. Sue Grafton and Laura Lippman were next. Eventually Stephanie Plum. But my Women’s Press books were the ones.

They taught me what crime fiction could be. A way to talk about life. A context for any story.

They told me it was OK to be me.riding in cars

And they inspired me to write.

My first full length book is called Riding in Cars with Girls. It’s a very noir, mostly queer, and thoroughly feminist crime fiction collection. My women are heroes and villains. Their sexuality is multi-faceted and explicitly depicted. Their streets are mean. Their worlds are wrong. And their solutions frequently lack in subtlety. There are, I have just realized, precisely no whodunits in this book. Not one murder is solved. But there are mysteries and, at heart, these are stories that go all the way back to my very first night with Lindsay Gordon. I’m very proud of that and I hope that maybe one day these stories may help someone just like the teenage me.

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If you’re tempted to take a walk on the Noir side of the street, Evangeline has sent us some of her top reading tips:

collectiveMurder in the Collective by Barbara Wilson (1984)
This intricate mystery is the first Pam Nielsen book and therefore the start – I think – of the first amateur lesbian detective series. If that wasn’t enough reason to read, here’s some more. First, this book is steeped in the women’s movement of the early 80s. It’s a story of two print collectives – one left-wing, one radical lesbian – and when they meet and plan to merge, it’s moider. Of course. Second, as if aware that she’s defining a new genre, Wilson’s Nilsen (ahem, giveaway rhyme ahoy) is straight when the book begins and only begins to realize the truth about her own sexuality in parallel with her search for a murderer.

murder at the nightwoodjpgShe Came Too Late by Mary Wings (1986)
The first of the Emma Victor series. Not the best, but a good place to start.

Murder At The Nightwood Bar by Katherine V Forrest (1987)
Strong, smart, and caring, Kate Delafield is an LAPD detective. This is the second of nine Delafield books, and it’s so much better than the first that I recommend you start here.

Common Murder by Val McDermid (1989)
In her second outing,  Lindsay Gordon investigates first an assault and then a murder at a Women’s Peace Camp. It’s so clearly based on Greenham Common that it’s hard not to compare and contrast with Wilson’s Murder in the Collective for different takes on the feminist politics of the nineteen-eighties. It’s a purely personal point of view, but I think Wilson’s work has aged better.

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Riding in Cars with Girls will be published on April 16th. You can find out more about Evangeline and her books, here at her blog.

News Roundup: New Books from Karen Campbell and Jen Silver, Clare Ashton Hits a Top 10, Val McDermid webchat, Sarah Waters video, and much more!

9 Apr

Be warned, this week’s news is fuelled by unseasonably warm sunshine and loads of Easter chocolate, so things might just get a bit giddy. On the bright side, if I do decide to write this whilst wearing shorts, at least you won’t be able to see them!

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diary of a broken heartLet’s kick off with the news that Karen Campbell has published her new novel The Diary of a Broken HeartThis is Karen’s third novel, and its blurb reads like this:

The Diary of a Broken Heart is a year in the life of thirty-eight year old lesbian, Vivian Westwood. Viv is an over-weight night-shift Tesco worker, who likes to eat, watch ‘Jeremy Kyle’ and lament the state of her love life.

The diary introduces Viv and her friends: Trace at work with the topsy-turvy love life; best friend, Lor, that Viv is hopelessly in love with; and her pen-pal Flash (Morag Gordon) who obsesses over Kate Bush.

But this is more than just a diary. This is an insight into the mind of an ordinary woman, who gets through her ordinary days in an ordinary way until she is diagnosed with cervical cancer. This diary will bring her self-deprecating humour to the fore as she fights this ghastly disease and begins to see her life in a new way, finally seeing the truths from her past and making decisions for her future happiness.

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that certain somethingMeanwhile, over at the Lesbian Review, Clare Ashton‘s Lammie nominated RomCom, That Certain Something, has been included in their Ten Best Lesbian Books:

This is a delightful, quirky romance with a boatload of angst thrown in for good measure. This is my favourite of Ashton’s books. It manages a lightness not generally present in her work. The characters are well written and believable. The book is filled with moments so lovely you wish you could frame them and keep looking at them.

The site has a full review of the novel here.

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clarelydonClare Lydon (AKA: The busiest author in LesFic) has narrated the first chapters of The Long Weekend and London Calling for your listening pleasure. You can find both excerpts here.

If you’d like the chance to meet Clare in person, she will be chatting to readers and selling her books at the 2015 Indie Author Fair, April 17th at Foyle’s bookshop in London. For more details about this Indie extravaganza and a chance to win one of 40 books, see Clare’s blog or our bang-up-to-date Events page.

And squeaking in just under the deadline – the sixth episode of Clare’s Lesbian Book Club podcast, which features an interview with Katie Bennett-Hall of Planet Of The Books, is available to listen to right here.

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arc over timeSome news on forthcoming books now, and Jen Silver recently revealed the cover and blurb for her second novel, Arc Over Time, the sequel to her début, Starting Over.

Dr Kathryn Moss, professor of archaeology, has much to think about. The job offers are flowing in after her exciting archaeological discoveries at Starling Hill the previous year. Now she has choices to make that could jeopardise her relationship with Denise Sullivan, the fiery journalist, who has become her lover.

Den has her own worries. She feels they have moved beyond the casual sex stage to something more like a true relationship. However, she’s not sure how to handle Kathryn’s continuing infatuation with Ellie Winters, the beguiling owner of Starling Hill farm.

Arc Over Time is a journey of discovery for all involved. I hope you will be tempted to come along for the ride.

The first chapter is available to read here, and the book is due for publication in May.

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PLayinginshadowSticking with the theme of sneak-peeks, a quickie reminder that Bold Strokes Books publishes excerpts of their forthcoming novels that are far more expansive than the traditional Amazon “Look Inside” feature. This means that the first three chapters of Gill McKnight‘s Soul Selecta, Lesley DavisPlaying in Shadow – both released this month – and Jenny Frame‘s May début, A Royal Romance, can be found by hitting those handy links and clicking on the Excerpt tag.

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With a general election pending, those of you who have ever wondered about the political bent of thrillers and crime fiction can hop over to this link where Val McDermid will set it all out for you. I’m not sure it’ll help you choose which idiot will make the least mess of our country over the next five years, but it does make for interesting reading:

val mcdermidThe current preoccupations of the crime novel…lean to the left. It’s critical of the status quo, sometimes overtly, sometimes more subtly. It often gives a voice to characters who are not comfortably established in the world – immigrants, sex workers, the poor, the old. The dispossessed and the people who don’t vote.

The Guardian also ran a live webchat with Val towards the end of March, the full transcript of which can be found here.

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intothefireRemember the days before Facebook, e-books and Twitter? Remember modems and dial-up? It’s hard to believe that fifteen years have passed since the release of Manda Scott‘s Dreaming the Eagle, but my grey hairs would seem to suggest that that much time has actually gone by, and this blog by Manda adds further credence to the claim:

We’ve sold somewhere around a million books since then. And this week, the e-book of Eagle was reduced as a way to introduce Boudica and her era to a new generation of readers around the world (we’re working on the US/Canada digital version, trust me on this) and to give them time to work through the series before the launch of Into the Fire in the middle of June. (It’s a dual time line book. Half is set in the world of Jeanne d’Arc, another woman warrior whose story is not remotely as we’ve been led to believe: the other half is contemporary – if you want a taste of my contemporary thrillers, head back to No Good Deed). 

Read the full blog here if you want to know more about Manda’s novels, and get all nostalgic about waiting till after midnight to access the Internet because the lines were busy!

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Writer-Sarah-Waters-006A treat now for Sarah Waters fans, with a new video interview being posted over at her website. Sarah was chatting to Canadian LGBT online magazine Daily Xtra, and you can find the full 20-minute interview here. The Events page of Sarah’s site has also been updated to give details of a tour that’s taking in Scandinavia, South Africa, Australia, and um…Norwich. Some of the details are still pending, but you can get an idea of the locations and dates here.

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I think that about covers it for this week. The sunshine and my back garden bench are beckoning, so I shall bid you all a fond farewell.

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