Archive | July, 2013

News Roundup: Everyone’s got the Blogging Bug, Manda Scott & VG Lee at Brighton Pride, and the Pope’s testicles cause a stir…

29 Jul

As the schools break up for the summer hols, the roads fill up with staycationers and unnecessary roadworks, and the weather inevitably turns rubbish, what better excuse is there than to sit in a quiet spot with a good book, or a good blog? Or maybe you’re more inclined to write the good book or blog. Whichever floats your boat, UK LesFic is here for you. So, what have folks been up to this week?

~ ~ ~

A fair bit of blogging, seems to be the answer…

bsb_the_rarest_rose__03887I. Beacham is a bit of a secret squirrel when it comes to an online presence, but she has been spotted over at Women and Words chatting about her new release The Rarest Rose, a love story with ghostly undertones:

I have a genuine love of history and I am more than aware that next year will be the 100th anniversary of the 1914 – 1918 World War One. As a keen reader of that period of time and, in particular, its emotive and powerful poetry, I have always felt drawn to its sadness and loss. It was a time that deeply impacted many across the globe, and certainly here in Britain. I have grown up hearing about those in the family who went to fight, and who did – or did not—return… So I think my latest book was influenced by this approaching anniversary and that, subconsciously,I wanted to acknowledge it. The outcome is that The Rarest Rose delivers two love stories, both blighted, and where echoes of the past still resonate. These gentle reverberations offer direction and hope for the two contemporary characters in this book.

You can read the full piece here.

~ ~ ~

youcantrunA former secret squirrel, Bella author Kate Snowdon is becoming less of an enigma with the creation of a brand new blog, which was swiftly followed by her very first post. The aptly titled The First Post! gives an insight into Kate’s début novel You Can’t Run From Love, as well as explaining why she initially preferred to keep things on the hush-hush. It’s a telling reminder that lesbian authors may face a real dichotomy between publicising their works and keeping their private lives private, but it’s one with a happy ending. Once Kate gets started, there’s apparently no stopping her: we will be hosting a guest post from her later this week.

~ ~ ~

SuzanneEgertonSticking with the blog theme, Suzanne Egerton‘s blog might not be new, but we don’t seem to have it listed on our Author page. So you should all go on over there and see what you’ve been missing out on, and I’ll update the information as soon as Talk Talk get their fingers out and stop WordPress from being a temperamental little arse!

Suzanne will also be reading from her novel Out Late with Friends and Regrets in a five minute spot at Café Rio, Glasgow, tonight (Monday 29th.)  The readings begin at 8p.m, there are other fabulous performers on the schedule, and all are welcome.

~ ~ ~

clareashtonLast blog mention in this bloggiest of blog roundups comes from Clare Ashton, who will be guesting over at Kim Taylor Blakemore‘s blog this coming Tuesday. Can we tempt you with the tag-line?

After Mrs. Hamilton, Pennance, and all things indie! Drop on over Tuesday to learn what inspires and motivates the inimitable Clare Ashton.

Of course you’re tempted. Head over here on Tuesday to read the post.

~ ~ ~

An advance heads up now for Brighton Pride, where Manda Scott and VG Lee will be making appearances in the Literature Tent on Saturday 3rd August between 2-5 p.m. At 3 p.m. Manda will be giving a talk about the roots of writing history. We’re not exactly sure what VG will be up to, but it’s guaranteed to be entertaining. Full details about the Pride festivities can be found at the official website.

_ _ _

sedia stercorariaFinally this week, a big thanks to Rachel Dax whose recent guest post about The Legend of Pope Joan II is single-handedly responsible for providing the funniest search term resulting in a hit to our site: “so why the testicles are checking the pope?”

For a explanation, see Rachel’s guest post of June 28th… Hell, the Pope’s testicles certainly makes a change from Lesbian Ass Kissing

L Fest

23 Jul

ClareUKLesFic’s Clare Ashton reports from L Fest 2013.

L Fest was big, beautiful and had something for everyone this year. The music side of the festival has always been major part of the event, but this year they ramped up the arts side (organised by Spring Out) with everything from a cabaret night, carnival procession, tea dance, cinema and, of course, author events.

VG Lee and Clare Ashton

VG Lee and Clare Ashton

Headlining act VG Lee kicked off the event with her one-woman play The Lady of Wild West Hill. There were various technical hitches but being the pro and quick thinking wit, VG accommodated the interruptions with aplomb and the audience assumed they were part of her funny act and the play was a fabulous success.

(I was very chuffed to catch up with her on Sunday to grab a quick photo.)

Saturday morning author events kicked off with the panel Ghosts From the Past with Crin Claxton and New Zealander Robyn Vinten. The audience looked hungover but happy from the fabulous opening night and Robyn started with an excellent read from her first literary novel. Bruceville reunites three childhood friends for a reunion that stirs up the horrifying and romantic past.

Crin Claxton

Crin Claxton

Crin followed up with a reading from her novel the Supernatural Detective, a funny ghost crime novel brought to life by Crin’s excellent reading and assistance from actress partner Deni who added some wonderful voices for incidental characters. Crin talked about her penchant for the extraordinary in the ordinary – stories with a little bit of magic in them. This was the second reading I had seen from this book. This time I had the good sense to buy a copy and get it signed by Crin who later gave me a lesson in good signing practice (i.e. bringing a bloody pen).

The day continued with an open mic session for author readings and workshops from Helen Sandler (from Spring Out) on Performing Your Work and VG Lee From Truth to Fiction – generating ideas for fiction and getting them down on paper. VG also did another popular workshop on the Sunday (The Lesbian Monologue).

Robyn Vinten

Kiki Archer

Saturday night was time for cabaret headed up by Clare Summerskill, and a Grease themed party – which seemed to involve a large amount of alcohol and bad behaviour (further coverage has been censored, but UKLesFic has come by some photos…) .

Kiki Archer

Kiki at the romance panel signing session

Sunday morning was time for the romance panel with me, Kiki Archer and Angie Peach. I started with a passage from After Mrs Hamilton (video here) and Kiki followed up with (by popular demand and unrelenting pressure) the kitchen scene from Instigations (video here). Angie had the hard task of following that, but she did with an absorbing read from In Reflection (a book that both Kiki and I found dark and unnerving and memorable). Angie’s reading’s here.

The Q&A session that followed was great fun with all authors having awkward questions about how much of themselves they put into their work about high-class escorts, murderers and teachers who have affairs.

You can see the session here:

Not fiction, but a very affecting and inspiring session was Clare Summerskill‘s Gateway to Heaven reading – a collection of oral histories from older lesbians and gay men. Clare showed what a class act she was with her commentary and analysis of the lost voices of generations of especially working-class GLBT people and by bringing to life the histories in her performance. The session was heart-breaking, uplifting, funny and above all inspiring.

Rose CollisThis was followed up with a popular spoof costume drama, Cromford, and Rose Collis’ one-woman show Trouser-Wearing Characters about gender-bending characters of the past.

The biggest disappointment of the arts side of L Fest? I missed Jackie Kay‘s session. I saw Jackie Kay on panels at the last ever YLAF and she was incredibly witty as well the seriously talented writer you’d expect. As well as a reading and Q&A there was a book club session discussing Reality Reality which I also missed. So I kicked myself hard twice this weekend. Next year….

If you haven’t considered going to L Fest before, please do.  The timetable was packed with music, comedy, cinema and workshop events as well as games and activities so that everyone had more sessions they wanted to attend than they physically could from dog shows, pole-dancing workshops and throwing yourself around in a sumo suit.

Romance panel

The romance panel with L Fest organiser Cindy Edwards

Finally, and just because they were fabulous, dynamic, charismatic and bloody good to photograph, here are some photos of Betty – and yes they did play the L Word theme tune.

DSC_3287DSC_3171DSC_3155DSC_3149

News Roundup: We’re all Melting but UK Authors are still doing Cool Stuff!

22 Jul

england-flip-flopsSo, I’m sitting here covered head to toe in ice pops, wearing naught very much at all, with a fan blowing directly into my face, and my fingers are still slipping around on the damn keyboard. Yes, summer finally hit the UK! The roads are melting, people are getting told off for turning up to work in flip flops, and everyone’s looking a bit pink and peely. Naturally, stuff is beginning to break, not least my Internet connection, which for some reason is refusing to allow me to log onto WordPress. Consequently, I’m writing this but my lovely co-mistress is putting it all together, and we’re hoping that nothing else goes pear-shaped before we get it posted. Ha! Fat chance.

~ ~ ~

The weekend of 12-14 July saw my hometown of Manchester hosting the UK GLBT Fiction Meet, and I popped along on the Saturday to wave the flag for LesFic, invade one of the panels, eat some amazing flapjack and meet some very nice people indeed. The event has been growing in leaps and bounds for the last four years, and there was a real family atmosphere as old friends were reunited and new ones were welcomed to the fold. The emphasis was still very much on M/M fiction but the panels were relevant and entertaining for authors and readers of any genre, and as an F/F writer with an American publisher I found it fascinating to learn of other British authors’ experiences of writing “in Brit”. By the end of my panel (Leave my “ou” alone How do I retain my Britishness in a world of American publishers) I felt very fortunate indeed to be writing with Bold Strokes, who did “leave my ou alone” and let me use the word pillock.

One of the event’s co-organisers, Josephine Myles, has posted a fun, comprehensive overview of the meet here and here. Stay tuned for details of the 2014 Meet as soon as we get them!

~ ~ ~

PopeJoanCover2The aforementioned technical difficulties have buggered the timing of this news post ever so slightly and prevented us from giving you a heads-up about the bookflash for Rachel Dax’s The Legend of Pope Joan, Part 2 – Athens that took place at the Virtual Living Room on Sunday 21st July. For those of you who want to catch up with the posts for this event, hit the link to join the group and they should be there in the archive for you to read.

~ ~ ~

Ke Payne has been keeping herself (and us!) busy of late, with a flurry of interviews and blog posts to tie in to the release of her new book The Road to Her. There’s an in-depth and illuminating interview with Ke over at the Hannah’s Nook blog and she’s also been wrestling with her latest edits at Women and Words. As if all that wasn’t enough to be getting on with, she recently announced that Bold Strokes have signed her fifth novel Because of Her, which should be ready for publication in 2014.

Lastly but by no means leastly in the Ke Payne section of this roundup: Ke has stuck the proverbial pin into the entrants of last week’s giveaway and we have our winner, Sue H. Congrats, Sue. We’ll be in touch for your contact details, and shortly afterwards a signed copy of The Road to Her will be winging its way to you 🙂

~ ~ ~

rebecca's hatHeading back to the subject of new contracts, Rebecca S. Buck has just announced the signing of her fourth novel. A little while ago she was chatting about a novel set around the time of the Great Fire of London, but so far she’s keeping the details of this current contract under her hat. Which is fair enough; it’s a fabulous hat.

~ ~ ~

A little music for the soul now, with Val McDermid discussing her favourite tunes on Desert Island Discs. You can find out what Val picked to be stranded with by listening along at the BBC iPlayer (UK only).

~ ~ ~

One of the newest authors to the growing list, Catherine Blackfeather, is offering her debut novella Mitchie for free on Kindle. Head over to Amazon to download yourself a copy today or tomorrow.

~~~

awalkintodarknessRounding out this roundup is Jade Winters, whose new novel A Walk Into Darkness has just been published. And when I say just, I mean today! Here’s a little blurbage to tickle your fancy:

Twenty-five years after a young girl goes missing from her home in South-East England, most have given up hope of ever finding closure. But when a renowned psychic has visions of a murder the police reopen the case, placing the puzzle of the ‘woodlands killer’ in Ashley McCoy’s capable hands.  Firmly set in the harsh reality of a world where the young and beautiful are not safe from dangerous hands, A Walk Into Darkness navigates the ups and downs of Ashley’s life; desperate to solve the cold case without letting the trials and intrigues of life get in the way. When the delectable Tasha comes onto the scene, both women struggle to find a balance between their responsibilities and the undeniable chemistry behind their growing friendship. 

A story of murder, intrigue and the twisting path of life and love.

~ ~ ~

And on that note, all my ice pops have melted, so I’m going to go and grab a mop and leave you in peace.

Where I Write: VG Lee

19 Jul

UKLesFic is a bit of a nosy beast at time, so it’s started a new irregular feature called Where I Write as an excuse to nose around writers’ homes.

VG Lee has very gamely indulged us and sent us some lovely photos of where she writes, with most importantly a good close up of her book shelf so you can flick through her books.

You can catch VG Lee at L Fest this weekend where she is performing her one-woman play The Lady of the Wild West Hill and also running writing workshops.

vghome34

I write at my desk in a quite untidy study with the window on one side so I can look out at what is going on in my road. The various boxes and baskets on the floor provide a space for any visiting cat to settle and keep me company while I’m working. The colour of the walls is aqua blue which I chose because it seemed restful but I now find it too restful!

vgstudy shelf

vgstudy 2

The Road to Her: book give-away and guest blog by Ke Payne

16 Jul

Ke Payne blogged with us earlier in the year about her loveable heroine Clemmie from 365 Days. She’s back today to talk to us about the inspiration for her fourth book A Road to Her. She is also generously giving away a paperback of her new novel. Please leave a comment or email uklesfic at gmail.com if you want to be added to the draw for Friday.

the road to her bigHow many lesbian storylines on TV can you remember?

Since 1994 when Brookside blew everything out of the water with their Beth and Margaret storyline (and, boy, did I use the rewind/pause facility on my VCR a lot on that one) there have been many, fabulous female characters on TV soaps and dramas who have indulged themselves in a little lady-loving. And can’t we all honestly say that TV is the better for it?

The sparse pickings from twenty years ago where lesbians were portrayed as desperate individuals (Joanna Trollope, I’m looking at you. The Village Affair? Shameful) have, thankfully, been replaced by so many enriching lesbian romances it makes you glad to be gay.

Thanks to the internet, those of us looking for fulfilling stories of women in love have a multitude to choose from, albeit in different languages, but somehow that just makes them even more awesome, don’t you think? I mean, who needs subtitles when Pepa from Los Hombres de Paco is looking so hot with her gun holster on? Do you think I care when I perchance upon a random programme set in Medieval Spain and notice that the two main female characters have perfectly plucked eyebrows and mascara on while they’re making out? And do you honestly think I want to waste time Googling what “Another Kartoffelpuffer with your Bratwurst, father?” means in English when Jenny is looking at Emma in Hand aufs Herz with those amazing eyes?

Sigh.

Where was I?

Jenny Hartmann’s eyes. No, focus. Lesbian storylines.

So you see, from Brookside to The L Word, from Sugar Rush to Pretty Little Liars and beyond, there are now more lesbian storylines than you can shake a stick at, and the good news is they just keep getting better and better.

It was two characters from a UK soap that were the inspiration for my fourth novel, The Road to Her. Anyone remember the Sophie and Sian story in Coronation Street a few years back? Like a lot of other people, I was brought up on Farleigh’s Rusks and Corrie – a standard diet in many British households. It became a way of life; a habit that, after 30-odd years, is now hard to break. So imagine how excited I was when I found out that it was to have its first ever lesbian storyline! After all, this was the soap whose most exhilarating story in years had been Deirdre getting herself a new pair of specs…

Sophie and Sian were cute together, and I got totally caught up in watching how their friendship blossomed into something more and then, finally, of course, fizzled out again. Well, okay, not so much fizzled as one almighty row at their wedding which ended with Sian flouncing off and straight into a minor part in Casualty. As you do.

But it didn’t matter. My favourite all-time soap had had a lesbian storyline. And what’s more, the writers kept the character of Sophie as a lesbian (we’ll forget that her current relationship is about as exciting as watching indoor bowls on a wet January afternoon). If you went on to any Corrie fansite, you’d see that others were just as excited as I was over the story, too. The fact that two female characters had fallen in love and that – gasp! – the world hadn’t ended because of it, and that, yes, they were two normal teenagers and that – well blow me down – their love for each other didn’t particularly bother or offend anyone was awesome.

There was furious speculation, too, on fansites, over whether the two actresses playing Sophie and Sian were dating in real life, because their scenes together were so realistic. Okay, that’s just called plain, old-fashioned good acting rather than anything more, but it didn’t stop gossipers hoping amongst hope that they’d one day become an item in real life.

So it got me thinking: what would happen if that really did happen in real life? What would happen if two actresses, thrown together as characters who fall in love, found that they really did like each other once the cameras stopped rolling? How would they cope? What would they do? Would they give in to their feelings, or just put it down to being confused? This is the basis for The Road to Her, which explores the possibility that two actresses could confuse what they’re acting out on screen, with real life.

In The Road to Her, twenty year old actress Holly Croft is an already well-established character on a UK soap called Portobello Road. The producers create a new storyline for her where the character that she plays, a sweet girl called Jasmine, falls in love with another girl – Casey.  Another actress, Elise Manford, is drafted in especially to play the role of Casey, and the storyline is an immediate hit with both fans of the show and the critics.

However, while their characters fall for each other on screen, Holly and Elise barely tolerate one another off screen, until a unusual and funny encounter at Holly’s apartment one evening makes both of them see the other in a different light. Gradually, their initial frostiness towards one another is replaced by something else (of course it does – this is a lesbian romance after all!) and they start to get drawn to each another. But will they give in to their feelings, or is it just that the lines between what’s real and what’s not have become blurred for them both?

One brief and clichéd episode of Dates aside, I can’t think that there are any lesbian storylines on British TV at the moment. If you know of one, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll be trawling the internet (in the most un-stalkerish way, you understand) for overseas soaps and dramas in the hope that some far-flung country has produced a lovely, sweet lesbian romance for me to enjoy, even if it means I don’t understand a word they’re saying.

And all the while I’ll be looking at the two lead actresses and wondering, what if…?KePayne

The Road to Her is Ke Payne’s fourth book with Bold Stokes. She is also the author of YA novels 365 Days, Another 365 Days and me@you.com

News roundup: UK GLBT meet, new authors, books and reviews

11 Jul

Cari’s off somewhere in the north of England saving lives (I always picture her wearing a cape over her paramedic uniform) so it’s my turn to get out the ice-cream (home-made strawberry) and bring you the news.

~~~~~

UKmeetSquare_zpsb289200bThe UK GLBT Fiction meet kicks off in Manchester tomorrow with the main sessions and panels over the weekend. Bold Strokes is well-represented this year with Cari Hunter, Andrea Bramhall and Victoria Oldham all attending. Cari will be appearing as part of a panel discussing British authors in a US dominated market: “Leave my OU alone!”. Vic will be at the Bold Strokes table and on a publishing panel. She’ll also be hearing pitches for Bold Strokes publications (contact the organisers if you want to pitch your novel to her, there may still be time).

~~~

the road to her bigKe Payne‘s new book is off to a cracking start with a great review from Terry Baker. This is what Terry had to say about The Road to Her:

KE Payne has written a wonderful, heart warming story of love, unrequited love, betrayal, self discovery and coming out. She has also giving us a first hand insight into life on a television soap opera. From the dialogue, it was very easy to immerse myself in the story amongst the characters….Personally, I’d love to see more of these characters and more of the soap, Portobello Road.

You can read the revew in full here.

~~~

HanselGretalNiamh Murphy has a new novella out: Gretel: A Fairytale Retold. Here’s the blurb:

Starving and lost, Hans, and his sister Gretel, are saved from a pack of bloodthirsty wolves by a woman, who seems to ask for nothing in return. Seduced by her kindness and beauty, Gretel grows closer to her, while Hans becomes ever more suspicious of her motives. Torn between her brother and a woman she has just met, Gretel soon learns she must make a choice between long held loyalty and newfound love. Gretel: A Fairytale Retold is a six chapter novella of over 12,400 words. Retold as a fast paced, lesbian love story, this novella contains some explicit passages.

~~~

We have two new authors this week. Catherine Blackfeather describes herself as a dancer, live story teller and poet. Her first book is a novella called Mitchie, a tale of self-discovery set in 19th century Canada.

Angie Peach has managed to sneak three novels past us without us noticing, although she does keep very quiet about. She has published The Blurring, In Reflection, and 47 (a novella) in the last year and she’ll be appearing on the Shifting Desires panel with Kiki Archer and Clare Ashton at L Fest.

~~~

Meanwhile Sarah Waters celebrates 40 years of women’s fiction at Virago with this quiz. How many extracts do you recognise from classic women’s fiction? I’ll show you my score if you show me yours first.

~~~

Finally, Crin Claxton is throwing a book launch for The Supernatural Detective, at WW Gallery in London tonight from 6pm-9pm. If you fancy going, be very very quick and drop her a message on Facebook!

~~~

Did we miss something? Then let us know at uklesfic at gmail.com.

Book feature: Mountain Rescue: The Ascent by Sky Croft

5 Jul

imagesSky Croft has been busy. Her debut novel, Amazonia, was published by Regal Crest last autumn, her second novel Mountain Ascent came out this spring, and her third is due out in September. She took some time out to talk to UKLesFic about her writing in general and her second novel in particular.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Writing takes up a lot of my time, but whenever I can I visit the local cinema and watch the latest releases – I’m a huge movie buff. I love tennis (I’m currently watching Wimbledon, in fact), but unfortunately a lack of skill and height (I’m only five foot) means I’ll never be much of a player – I have a feeling I’d struggle to get the ball over the net!

I’m also interested in history, and I enjoy looking around historical buildings. When I was young my parents often took me to old characterful properties, usually belonging to The National Trust or English Heritage, and I’ve carried that interest into adulthood. Castles are a particular favourite, along with churches and cathedrals.

When did you start writing and how would you describe/classify your work?

I’ve written stories since I was thirteen– it’s always been a form of escapism for me. Most of my work is action/adventure with a good dose of romance thrown in. That said, I like most genres – I had a lot of fun writing Shadowstalkers (out in September) which falls into the supernatural category.

My leads are always strong women, despite having adversity in their lives. No one goes through life without their fair share of troubles, and I try to make my characters reflect that.

As for the romance, I like the romantic relationship to be a source of strength, and for both women to gain equally from the partnership.

Your new book Mountain Rescue: The Ascent is a romance between a doctor and climber who work on a mountain rescue team in Scotland. Did you need to research the area and the characters or is it based on a setting and careers you know well?

I’ve been holidaying regularly in Scotland since I was a child (my most recent holiday being in June this year to the west coast of Scotland). It’s a beautiful place and the scenery is breathtaking. The village in Mountain Rescue: The Ascent is fictional, though I used many attributes from different places I’d visited in Scotland to give myself, and hopefully readers, an image of the setting.
I researched what a Mountain Rescue team does, from the kinds of incidents they can be involved in, the equipment they use, the types of vehicles that are at their disposal – ground and air support – down to what they wear. As for the climbing aspect, my brother-in-law is a climber, so his knowledge and expertise were of great value. I also went climbing with him, so I could experience it for myself.

What have readers liked about the book?

People seem to like the mix of romance, action, and drama. Many have liked the fast-paced action element of the rescues – people have commented that they couldn’t put the book down.

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback about the characters themselves, especially the leading ladies. One reader commented that she could fall in love with either Saber or Sydney, which, as a writer, I took as a huge compliment.

The book is the first in the Mountain Rescue series. Can you give us a taster of the other books to come?

In Mountain Rescue: The Ascent you got a taste of Saber’s family, the negative reaction to her sexuality. In book two it will be a complete contrast, as we get to meet Sydney’s family, who are fully supportive of Sydney and her relationship with Saber. However with family there is always drama, and Sydney will face a challenge on the home front. The Mountain Rescue team will of course have more accidents to deal with, as they will in every book.

Further on in the series I’d like to revisit the north slope, where Charlie (Saber’s former climbing partner) was badly injured. I’m not short of ideas for subsequent books, I just have to decide which to go with!

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

A few things. I’ve just submitted the Amazonia sequel to my publisher. I intend to start on the Mountain Rescue sequel shortly, then after that I’ll likely do a follow up to Shadowstalkers. I get quite attached to my characters, so I’m looking forward to revisiting them. As long as I still have ideas and people keep reading the books, I’d like to do many more sequels.

Thanks for talking to us, Sky. You can find out more about Sky and her work on her website.