Archive | June, 2013

Rachel Dax and the Legend of Pope Joan

28 Jun

Rachel Dax B&WThe Legend Of Pope Joan by Rachel Dax is a three-part, gender-bending, pansexual, theological extravaganza. Part 1. Frankia was released on Amazon earlier this year to rave reviews, and Part 2. Athens is out this weekend. To celebrate the release of Part 2, Rachel is offering Part 1 FREE from noon Friday 28th June – Tuesday 2nd July. (Grab a copy here or here) UKLesFic asked Rachel about this fascinating character and her new book. 

Pope Joan is a real historical character or at least a legendary character. Can you tell us a little about her and how you came across her?

There are very few ‘facts’ available about the real Pope Joan and all of these ‘facts’ are disputed. The evidence currently available asserts that Joan grew up in 9th Century Eastern Frankia (now Germany) but ran away some time during her early adolescence to Athens disguised as a seminarian, accompanied by a man. It is said that she stood out as an exceptionally intelligent and compassionate theologian and at some point, word of her skill reached Pope Leo IV and she was invited to Rome where she eventually served him as a Deacon, acting as his personal assistant. On Pope Leo IV’s death in 853, Joan was elected Pope and occupied the Papal Throne for two and a half years. I will not reveal what is said to have happened after this point, as it will ruin the ending for those who do not already know it! Continue reading

News Roundup: In Which A Whole Host of Authors Are Doing Exciting Things!

24 Jun

If there’s anything sticky smeared on this update, worry not, it’s only marmalade. I dragged myself out of my pit good and early just to bring you the news. How’s that for commitment? And yes, it’s just taken me three attempts to spell commitment correctly, I fear this may not end well…

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divaFirst up this week, exciting times for two of our most popular authors, Kiki Archer and Clare Ashton, who have a swanky feature in this month’s Diva magazine. In the article, Kiki and Clare chat about the joys and pitfalls of Indie publishing, and give some pointers to authors who may be thinking of heading in that direction. The July issue of Diva is widely available right now.

Kiki’s novels have also been highlighted as great beach reads in the July-August Curve magazine. That issue should also be on the news stands as I type.

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rainWe’ve welcomed another new author to the site in the last couple of days. Rain McAlistair started writing in 2010 and has since published three Indie novels – DoveBridge, and Moonchaser. A fourth novel is currently in progress but, in her own words, “it’s early days yet.”  Born in Warwickshire, Rain has since settled in the West of Ireland. We’re looking forward to hearing more from Rain in the not too distant future. In the meantime, you can find out all about her on her website.

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Cherry PottsAfter an open call to UK authors on this site a few weeks ago, Cherry Potts has recorded a Bar Rag with the ladies from The Cocktail Hour podcast. Cherry chatted with hosts Andy and Cheri, and then read from her short story collection, Mosaic of Air. You can listen to the Bar Rag by hitting the above link, and anyone who leaves a comment on the page will be entered into a draw to win a copy of Cherry’s current release, Lover’s Lies.

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Some new and upcoming releases now…

Crin Claxton‘s début novel Scarlet Thirst has had a revamp (ha, no pun intended!) and has been reissuedBSB_Scarlet_Thirst by BSB as an e-book. You can buy it on Kindle or directly from the BSB website. You want a little teaser? Oh g’wan then:

One rainy February night, cool butch vampire Rob Perdoni is bowled over by Rani Shah and immediately wants to date her. Rani is tough and gorgeous, just the sort of woman Rob likes. Trouble is, she’s human. Rani, on the other hand, doesn’t believe vampires exist. But before she can say, “Bite me,” she’s taking a roller-coaster ride from femme on the streets to vampire between the sheets.

Meanwhile, Nicola Griffith‘s forthcoming novel Hild is available to pre-order (Kindle and hardcover) and has picked up its first review over at Publisher’s Weekly:

Griffith goes boldly into the territory, lingering over landscape, wallowing in language, indulging the senses, mixing historical fact with feminist fiction in a sweeping panorama of peasants working, women weaving, children at play, and soldiers in battle: the Dark Ages transformed into a fantasy world of skirt and sword.

Hild is due for release on November 12th.

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Rounding out the news this week with two authors who are keeping themselves good and busy.

admin-ajaxA guest blog by author and film maker Rachel Dax will be posted over at Kim Taylor Blakemore’s website tomorrow. In the feature, Rachel will be discussing  the portrayal of women prisoners in film, the reality of both the prisoners’ and the guards’ lives, and how the film Yield to the Night became the inspiration for her novel After the Night.

We are also hoping to bring you a feature from Rachel in the not too distant future (i.e. by the end of the week – fingers and toes crossed!)

Andrea Bramhall announced this week that she will be polishing off her passport (and possibly packing her thermals!) to head to Provincetown, USA for Women’s Week. The annual lesbian festival in this gayest of all American small towns will run from 14-20 October, and features a schedule cram-packed with well, a bit of everything really. You can read all about the event on their main website.

For anyone thinking of heading over for the week, I highly recommend the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop where the portions are so large I almost did myself a mischief trying to finish one. But before I allow myself to become distracted by peach-flavoured reminisces, Andrea has also participated in the Women & Words 1 Question, 10 Answers. Find out which of her characters she would like to take a road trip with, here.

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I’m sure there was something else I needed to…Mmmm…


BSB UK Bash, 2013 – A Truly Fabulous Fest!

19 Jun

bsbpanelSitting in the sunshine and reading through eight pages of scrawled, at times barely legible notes is making me smile. The sunshine is playing its part in that, but the notes were taken during the recent Bold Strokes Books UK Fest and they are bringing back very fond memories. With over eighty people crammed into Waterstones’ events room, cameras clicking and snapping, enthusiastic audience participation and a book sales table that looked like a plague of locusts had been through it, this year’s event was the best one yet. It was, in no uncertain terms, a bloody good weekend. So, where the hell do I start? Continue reading

News Roundup: Trio of Brand New Authors, New Reviews & BSB’s Rogues’ Gallery

17 Jun

I’ve just tied back my hair (ha!), grabbed a feather duster and given the site a bit of a summer clean out. In a nutshell, this means the New Releases page is bang up to date (with a couple of additions we’d missed added retrospectively), we have three new authors whom I shall tell you all about in a moment, and more information added to the Events page. If it wasn’t so bloody chilly outside I’d treat myself to a Solero…

youcantrunRight, new authors. Henriette Bookgeek has truly earned her spurs the last few weeks and pointed us in the direction of a trio of new Brit authors. Bella Books has signed two of these: Kate Snowdon and Lyn Dowland, but in a somewhat dubious marketing strategy they seem determined not to let anyone know much about them. Neither author has a website and Lyn isn’t even listed on Bella’s site, despite her début book – Distance Learning – being scheduled for a September release. We can tell you that Kate lives up in Scotland and her first novel, You Can’t Run From Love, sneaked out in April, when it was reviewed by Terry Baker:

A nice well written debut book with a sweet and tender romance that simmers throughout the book. The scenic descriptions and wildlife are brilliant too.

As Kate recently followed us on Facebook, I’m hoping to get in touch with her, then we can let you know more about her!

blue hourRounding out our trio is Beatrice Donahue, whose short story The Blue Hour was published in May by Ladylit. Beatrice hails from Southwest England and, according to her Goodreads page, is currently contemplating a sequel to her novelette:

It appears that a sequel (and final) piece is brewing for Eve and Rosina. What will become of them? They’re telling me the rest of their story now, usually at night, and I’m doing my best to write it down.

A Q&A with Beatrice can be found here at the Harper Bliss site, and Terry Baker had this to say about The Blue Hour in her review:

A well written debut novelette. The two characters, Rosina and Eve are likeable, well formed and interact well with each other. From the scenic descriptions, it was easy to visualize myself back in a sleepy little English village in the roaring 1920’s.The story is short, but sweet, hot and very erotic. I’ll be watching out for more from Beatrice Donahue.

If any of the authors are lurking in these parts, give us a shout – we’d love to hear from you. Meanwhile, blurbs for all of their books can be found over on our New Releases page.

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Sticking with reviews for the moment, The Guardian has recently reviewed two of the authors we’ve featured on this site. They had this to say about Diana Souhami‘s biography The Trials of Radclyffe Hall:

Souhami, a witty and astute reader of human nature, never makes her subject a martyr, cataloguing the pets Hall ditched because of defects, the dismal pretexts for infidelity, the admiration for Italian fascism. Not always a wonderful life, then, but a truly remarkable one.

The full text of the review can be found here.

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In the same week, Stella Duffy’s The Purple Shroud (the sequel to Theodora) also got a favourable write-up:

Theodora is, in Duffy’s hands, a richly paradoxical character from whom the light of life shines brightly.

Read the whole review here.

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bsbOver on the BSB UK website, Vic Oldham has been busy collecting photos from the 2013 Nottingham Event, and what a rogues’ gallery it is turning out to be 😉 Hit the link to scroll through the pics, and if you have any that you took yourself I’m sure Vic would be happy to include them on the site.

On a more serious note, Andrea Bramhall posted a blog about breaking down barriers during the weekend, and Amy Dunne shared her thoughts on how LGBTQ books made her realise she wasn’t alone. Like all good stories, both blogs come with a happy ending.

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Speaking of rogues… If you’re feeling daring, hop over to our About page, which has also had a bit of an update in the last week 🙂

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Right, I don’t care if it’s miserable outside, I’m having that Solero!

News Roundup: Awards for UK Authors, Clare Ashton at the VLR, New Book Covers and Trailers, and BSB a Hit in Nottingham

10 Jun

Whew, back to earth with a bump after a fabulous weekend at the BSB Nottingham bash, where the sun sort of shone, loads of folks turned up, lots of laughs were had and I got to meet my blog co-mistress for the first time. More on that anon; what else has been happening in the past few days?

lambda-literary-awards_s345x230On June 3rd, the winners of the 25th Annual Lambda Literary awards were announced at a sold-out gala ceremony held in New York city. Nicola Griffith was presented with her Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist prize, and she has posted a lovely, candid write-up of her “Night at the Lammys” on her blog. Due to popular demand, she also posted the text of her acceptance speech:

I’ve spent my whole writing life feeling like a stranger in a strange land: the foreigner, the cripple, the queer. But tonight this award says: You belong here. We value who you are and what you do. We see you, we know you, you’re one of us. And I like that. A lot. So thank you.

Many congratulations to Nicola, and also to Jeanette Winterson who triumphed in the Lesbian Memoir/Biography category for Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

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Sticking with the awards theme, Val McDermid will be presented with an honorary degree from Dundee University in a ceremony later this month. Val published her first novel in 1987 and has since written more than 30 books. Her shortest story to date was also published this last week when she took part in the Guardian’s Twitter Fiction challenge to come up with a story in 140 characters or less:

He couldn’t work out why she’d grown interested in TV DIY shows. Then he leaned on the fatally weakened balcony wall of their highrise flat.

Ha! Nice one!

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717930A heads-up now about a Spot-On feature this weekend at the Virtual Living Room. Running from 14-17th June, the theme will be Lesbian Moms in Lesbian Fiction, aka cute kids, and our very own Clare Ashton will be chatting about the topic, along with Karin Kallmaker, Lara Zielinsky, Sunny Alexander, Melissa Brayden, Joann Lee, Barbara Winkes and PJ Treblehorn. The VLR is a lively Yahoo discussion group that focuses on lesbian literature in all its permutations. To sign up and take part in the fun, hit the link.

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nightingaleNot only has Andrea Bramhall recently finished the first draft of her forthcoming novel Nightingale, she has given readers a sneak peek at its shiny new cover as well as its synopsis, over on her blog

When Charlie Porter meets Hazaar Alim her first year of University, she’s instantly smitten. Hazaar has it all: beauty, talent, and brains. What she doesn’t realize is that Hazaar’s future has already been decided and Charlie has no place in it.

Hazaar desperately wants to break with her traditions and stay with Charlie, but when forced to choose, she chooses her family over love. When she realizes the choice she made is the worst one possible, it’s too late…

Nightingale is due for release in Spring 2014.

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HSWidgetWith scores of novels being published each year, it is harder than ever to make your work stand out in a crowded market. To this end, book trailers are becoming a popular way to engage a potential audience. RJ Samuel has just completed a trailer for her novel Heart Stopper. Hop on over to YouTube and see what you think.

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Finally, a big thanks to all the folks who came to Nottingham this last weekend to support the UK BSB authors. We hadbsb a brilliant couple of days with our largest audience ever, and I know that a few of the people who went along keep an eye on this blog. I took a ton of notes and will – day job permitting –  attempt to write a bit of an overview for those who couldn’t make it. There are some lovely photos (courtesy of Clare Ashton, who has a far better camera than me!) over on our Facebook page. If you don’t do FB, this link should take you to the album.

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News roundup – free book, new anthology, Cherry Potts and the Bold Strokes blog tour

5 Jun

We’re in the final run-up to the UK Bold Strokes Festival in Nottingham which takes place this weekend, and the attending authors have been doing a blog tour this week. Amy Dunne talked about the power of books and their vital company for someone coming out. Rebecca Buck described the excitement of the festival and its origins. I. Beacham explains why she wrote her latest book The Rarest Rose. And Andrea Bramhall talks about word power. Catch up with all the blogs on the Bold Stokes Festival site.


Counting_Down_The_Seconds_-_lesbian_fiction_storiesEarlier this year, UK online magazine When Sally Met Sally and publisher Freya Publications held a short-story competition for female writers of LGBT fiction. The winning entries have now been posted and the best entries have been published in a new anthology called Counting Down the Seconds.  It features writers from all over the world and stories from science fiction to period drama, darker tales of lost love, from literary fiction to chick lit.


518YExipElL._SX385_The audio version of Emma Donoghue’s Astray by Hachette Audio has just won the award for Best Short Story Collection at the Audies. The Audie Awards are a US competition only for audio books. Narrators include Khristine Hvam, James Langton, Robert Petkoff, Suzanne Toren and Dion Graham and the edition has already won an Earphone award.


Cherry Potts, author of fantasy, science fiction and fairy tales, has several readings lined up starting this weekend. She’ll be reading in Lewisham, Brixton and central London. For more details check here.


Finally, OutLateWithFriendsgrab a free copy of Suzanne Egerton’s new book Out Late with Friends and Regrets. It’s free to download on Amazon today and tomorrow. This is Suzanne’s debut novel and you can read more about the background on the novel’s publication and the story in this guest blog on UKLesFic.

Guest Blog: Victoria Oldham – Pitch it to Me

2 Jun

Today’s guest post comes from Victoria Oldham, one of the commissioning editors for Bold Strokes Books. We’ve mentioned a few times that Vic will be hearing pitches from prospective authors at next week’s BSB bash in Nottingham and the forthcoming UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet in Manchester. Then we realised that folks might not have a bloody clue what it meant to “pitch your novel” (clue: it doesn’t mean kicking it into a hole!) So here’s Vic to shed a little light…

Pitch it to Me

Andrea Bramhall signs books at States of Independence

When you work in publishing, you throw terms around like confetti, just expecting folks to know what they mean. POV, ms, fancy-tagger, white space, etc. You kind of just figure a writer will know what you’re talking about.

But that’s not always true. How can you possibly know what I mean when I tell you your white space balance is off, if no one has ever mentioned that before?

I’ve come to realize that’s the case with the term “pitch”. When I tell you to come “pitch your novel to Bold Strokes”, I’m guessing you have an inkling of what I mean. You should come tell me about your book.

At the Bold Strokes Nottingham event, and at the GLBT Fiction Meet in Manchester, I’ll be hearing pitches for Bold Strokes. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet someone who works for the company, to get the idea of your novel across and potentially get it reviewed in full. That’s a big deal–it’s not easy to get face time with publishing houses! (Particularly publishing houses in the States, as there aren’t any lgbtq publishing houses left in the UK).

In the interest of convincing you to sign up to pitch to me, so I’m not sitting there listening to crickets, here are the three steps to pitching your novel:

  1. Know your time allotment. In the case of the pitches I’m hearing, it’s a ten minute time slot.
  2. Give me a solid overview of your book. Beginning, middle, end. Primary characters, major conflict, resolution. Know what you’re going to say in advance–don’t wing it! This is your moment to shine, to convince me your book is just what I’m looking for. But, for the love of God, don’t tell me “this book is the best thing ever and if you don’t take it you’re stupid”. Let me be the judge of whether or not it’s the best thing since rocky road ice cream. Be concise, be clear, be interesting. (If you can’t make your story interesting and explain it in a straightforward manner, who can? And if you can’t, perhaps there’s too much going on…but, I digress into editorial mode. Back to pitching…)
  3. Make sure you’re pitching to the right people. If you’re pitching a hetero, sci-fi, memoir, we’re not going to be interested. You’ll want to pitch that novel to someone who publishes that kind of novel. If you’re pitching to us, we want positive lgbtq fiction.
  4. Leave me with a single page synopsis and your contact details.

states of indieThat’s it! It’s that easy, and that difficult. My advice: practice. Write it down, read it out loud, make sure it makes sense. Don’t leave me with a synopsis full of spelling mistakes! Have someone else check it over. Sit across from someone (your dog, your cat, your plush toys, an actual human) and say exactly what you want to say to me, and time it. There are folks signed up before you and after you, so you don’t want to run over your ten minutes.

That’s what it means to pitch your novel. Convince the publisher that you’re serious about writing, and you have something they should consider.

If you have any questions, you can drop a comment below, email me at  bsbediting @ gmail .com , check out the writing section of my personal website, or even just ask me on Saturday at the Bold Strokes event (pitches will be heard on Sunday morning. TBD in Manchester).

Victoria Oldham is the development editor and UK Rep for Bold Strokes Books and runs the literary consultancy Global Words.