Archive | December, 2013

Christmas Q&A

18 Dec

baublesUK LesFic is turning in for the year. But before we put up our feet for a couple of weeks, there’s time for a festive Q&A with several lovely authors. Here’s what we asked them:

Which book do you want for Christmas?

What was your book of the year?

We’ll be back early in 2014, until then we’ll leave you with these great recommendations, and a Merry Christmas and wishes for a happy new year from Tig (Clare) and Cari!

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VG Lee

the_summer_bookThe book I’m hoping to get for Christmas is The Summer Book by the late lesbian author, Tove Jansson who also created the Moomin books. I only found out about her recently and this novel, about a relationship between an aging woman and her grand-daughter has some resonance for me, now that I’m getting older myself!

the murder wallHaving been one of the judges for the 2013 Polari First Book Prize, I was fortunate to read many novels by lesbians over the summer.  Our winner was Mari Hannah’s, The Murder Wall and I think I would choose it again for best lesbian fiction. The author is lesbian, the main character, a detective, is also a lesbian. Yes, we do have a few lesbian crime writers but I feel there is room for many more and I was pleased that genre fiction won.

Merry Christmas!

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Amy Dunne

HighDesertBooks make amazing presents. As always, I’ve made sure we’ve purchased lots of books as gifts for our family and friends. When asked what I would like I’ve listed lots of books. But the book I’m most excited about is Katherine V. Forrest’s new Kate Delafield story, High Desert. I cannot wait to snuggle down and read this.

Choosing just one book of the year is way too difficult because there were some really fantastic reads. My top three are: Shadows of Something Real by Sophia Kell Hagen, How Sweet It Is by Melissa Brayden, and finally Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

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Cherry Potts

91CYqVEe28L._SL1500_My most wished for book for wintermiddle, which has been pointed out very clearly to a certain person who I believe has taken note, is Nicola Griffith’s HildFirstly because I’ve read everything by Nicola I can lay hands on, but also because I think Hilda of Whitby is a superb role model – a woman in medieval England with real power. She’s one of my heroes. So of course I want to read it!

Most of what I’ve read this year has been submissions, so actual published books haven’t had much of a look in, however I would recommend Mary Ackers’ collection Bones of an Inland Sea. It is a beautifully written clever and thoughtful series of connected stories, and working out the connections is half the fun. One strand involves a female to male transsexual which is handled with great tenderness. One of those books that go into the ‘I wish I’d written that’ category.

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Kiki Archer

I always seem to get a biography for Christmas and this year I’m hoping it’s Miranda Hart’s Is it just me? I love her show and find myself laughing loudly throughout each episode, even if she’s just looking into the camera and saying the words: “I thank you.” She calls the book her Miran-ual and I’m sure it would provide a lot of laughs over the Christmas period. Plus I’m not sure I could cope with Katie Price’s sixteenth biography. The other fifteen are already taking up too much room on my bookcase.

ExceptonToTheRuleMy book of the year was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. The tag line was: “They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose,” and I was hooked. The book was a deeply emotional, unconventional, romance, with a very sad, yet bitter sweet ending. Chick lit with depth!

My lesfic book of the year was Cindy Rizzo’s Exception to the Rule. I had the privilege of reading an advance copy over the summer holidays and I immediately knew I’d see it at the top of the charts. Fast paced, intelligent, engaging, and very hot. Exactly what I like in a good read.

Happy Christmas everybody.

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Orla Broderick

girlisA Girl Is A Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride – Finally I find a novel to challenge. With language like no other, with heart rending passion displayed on every page. Here’s a new voice. Here’s a woman’s tale of love and vulnerability. It is not an easy cozy little fireside read. It is not for the faint hearted. It is raw and honest. It is terrible and beautiful all at once. I was shocked by this book from the very first page. I was horrified. A girl loves her brother. He has a brain tumour. His life, his well being is infinitely more important than hers. Her pain is of no consequence to anyone, even herself. To her, pain is life, is love. I would urge anyone to purchase at least four copies directly from the publisher Galley Beggar Press and distribute widely. This book is going to change the way we write – and hopefully what we read.

The book(s) I would like for Christmas: I would like The Guga Stone: Lies, Legends and Lunacies from St Kilda, by Donald S. Murray and Douglas Robertson because I love a beautiful book and I know this one will be truly gorgeous in every way. I would like The Others by Siba Al-Harez because it is a new story and there have been wonderful reviews and I am curious. I would also like a copy of Orlando by Virginia Woolf because (I am ashamed to say) I have never read it.

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Cari Hunter

RoseUnderFireI actually know which books I’m getting for Christmas, because I ordered them and – at the moment, until my darling gives me some cash – paid for the bloody things! I love getting my teeth into a decent crime series, and a friend recommended Chelsea Cain to me this year. She’s a fun writer, who can be a little too outrageous (the culprits in one of her books were tiny killer octopi) but is consistently entertaining. So, I’m getting her new one, Let Me Go, in my stocking, along with Autumn Bones, the latest from Jacqueline Carey,  one of my favourite authors.

My book of the year is Rose Under Fire, Elizabeth Wein’s splendid companion novel to Code Name Verity. While it didn’t quite reach the heights of CNV (how could it?), it was still a book that stayed with me long after I’d finished reading it and was possibly even better the second time around.

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LettersNeverSentRachel Dax

My book highlights of the year are Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran and Out Late With Friends by Suzanne Egerton which I am currently halfway through and loving. Next to read is Careful Flowers by Kieran York – which I am really excited about.

OutLateWithFriendsI am hoping to find Hild by Nicola Griffith in my Christmas stocking. I am particularly interested to see what Hild is like because St Hilda gets a mention in my trilogy The Legend Of Pope Joan and I am keen to find out whether Nicola Griffith and I are exploring similar ideas in our writing.

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Andrea Bramhall

Okay, the book at the top of my Christmas list this year is Bonkers by Jennifer Saunders. That woman cracks me up so much and just reading the blurb had me in stitches. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into that one as I’m sure it will be one of those laugh out loud books for me.

My book of the year…seriously? You want me to pick ONE? That’s got to be against the Geneva Convention or some thing. Torturous, cruel and unusual punishment…do you know how many fantastic books there are out there? ONE? *Gulp* No need to resort to threats. I can’t babysit, Tig. Kids hate me. *sigh* Fine, I’ll do it. Just take that light out of my eyes, okay?

secretliesI’ll have to say…Secret Lies by Amy Dunne. I usually have to be in the mood for young adult titles but this particular debut novel didn’t fall into the same category. It is rather on the gritty side and it won’t be a book everyone can read as it deals with subjects that are both provocative and heartbreaking. It touches on the subjects of child abuse and self harming, and I think it does so in a way that is realistic, compassionate, and yet doesn’t shy away from the darkness each bring to a very different young adult novel. Dunne has managed to capture the innocence and excitement of young love against the pain and angst of two girls struggling through difficulties that most ‘grown ups’ would flinch at dealing with. This author is definitely one to watch.

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christmas-tree-snow-1

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News Roundup: Rainbow & Ultimate Planet Awards, Interviews with L.T. Smith and Amy Dunne, Hootenanny at Women and Words, and Lots More…

13 Dec

Happy Friday 13th! I’m sure if we all salute solitary magpies, touch a bit of wood, avoid walking under ladders, and be very careful whilst handling mirrors, we’ll get through just fine. So, without further ado, here is this week’s slightly superstitious news update…

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Stella Duffy, writer, actorKicking off with some splendid news, as the date (March 29th, 2014 – mark those calendars!) has finally been set for those of us in England and Wales who might want to marry our sweethearts but had previously had to settle for a civil partnership. Over on her blog, Stella Duffy posted a thoughtful and moving piece to commemorate what has been gained, but also what has been lost during the long campaign for equality:

Do remember, straight couples in your 70s, as you celebrate your golden wedding anniversaries, all those gay couples in their 70s who have been together just as long, and deserve the same celebratory joy, who will never live long enough to celebrate their own golden wedding anniversary.

Hear, hear. This is the link to the rest of the piece.

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rainbow awardMore things to celebrate now, with the winners of the Rainbow Awards being announced last Sunday. Representing the UK side of LesFic was Andrea Bramhall who scooped joint second place in Best Lesbian Début, and joint tenth in Best Lesbian Novel for Ladyfish, and myself as Desolation Point also got a podium finish with third place for Best Lesbian Thriller/Mystery.

Edited to add: I wrote this post with a bit of a day shift hangover and – despite thoroughly checking the list of winners for UK authors – managed to miss Barbara Davies entirely. Barbara’s License to Spy took second place in the Best LGBT Romantic Comedy category. Apologies for the oversight and congratulations!

There were loads of winners, runners up, and honorary mentions, so congrats to everyone whose book made it onto one of the lists. The full list of winners can be found here.

The Virtual Living Room will be holding a Rainbow Awards Party this coming weekend (14th and 15th December), where readers will be able to chat with participating winners and runners up at the Yahoo group.

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UltimatePlanetAwardAlso taking place this week were the Ultimate Planet Awards, where Kiki Archer scooped Independent Author of the Year, and Stella Duffy was named Published Author of the Year, with VG Lee getting an honourable mention in the same category. You can view the entire awards ceremony, and see the full list of winners here. Congrats, Kiki, Stella, and VG!

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cover_hearts-and-flowers-border_miniA couple of interviews for you now, and over at the Ylva website, L.T. Smith is the author in the hot seat for their Spotlight Interview. Whilst discussing such varied (dare I say, essential?) topics as “Curry or fish pie?” and “Supergirl or Wonder Woman—who is your favourite?”, LT also has plenty to say about her writing:

I write because I love doing it. There are times when I don’t, true. But just to sit and create a story makes me feel wonderful. I shut off from what is happening to me in the outside world and dip into the world of my own creation. A little like therapy, apart from the typos.

The interview is a lot of fun, and the whole piece is available at the link up there. On the same page, Ylva also announced that they will be publishing a revised version of LT’s Hearts and Flowers Border with a splendid new cover in Spring, 2014.

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BSB_Secret_LiesWith a brand new book out, Amy Dunne has been keeping herself very busy this month. She has an interview up at fellow BSB author Juliann Rich‘s blog, in which she discusses Secret Lies, life as a début author, and whether or not she watches Downton Abbey (no she doesn’t, because she has good telly taste!) There are also cute pictures of the destruction wrought when you leave animals in the same room as your Christmas tree…

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inseparableThis may not be a new book, but Emma Donoghue‘s Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature  (originally published 2010) has been newly released on Kindle in the UK with a very clever, eye-catching new cover.

In Inseparable Emma Donoghue examines how desire between women in literature has been portrayed, from schoolgirls and vampires to runaway wives, from cross-dressing knights to contemporary murder stories. Donoghue looks at the work of those writers who have addressed the ‘unspeakable subject’, examining whether such desire between women is freakish or omnipresent, holy or evil, heart-warming or ridiculous as she excavates a long-obscured tradition of female friendship, one that is surprisingly central to our cultural history. A revelation of a centuries-old literary tradition – brilliant, amusing, and until now, deliberately overlooked.

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hootenanny-day1With the festive season well under way, Women & Words are hosting their annual Hootenanny celebration. For the next 12 days (well 11 now, it kicked off yesterday) there will be loads of great freebies from a whole host of LesFic authors up for grabs. All you have to do is leave your name and email in the comments, and then keep your fingers crossed that your name comes out of the hat. It’s a rolling giveaway so be sure to keep checking the site to see what’s on offer each day. Good luck!

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PaleWingsProtectingPale Wings Protecting, Lesley Davis‘ paranormal thriller follow-up to Dark Wings Descending, has been reviewed at Lambda Literary, where Anna Furtado had this to say:

Pale Wings Protecting is a provocative paranormal mystery; it’s an otherworldly thriller couched inside a tale of budding romance. The novel contains an absorbing narrative, full of thrilling revelations, that skillfully leads the reader into the uncanny dimensions of the supernatural.

You can read the full text of the review at the first link.

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Phew, got through to the end without spilling any salt, standing on any cracks in the pavement, or opening a brolly indoors \o/ Also, bonus fun fact whilst surfing for superstitions: When you’ve finished eating a boiled egg, push the spoon through the bottom of the empty shell to let the devil out. On that note, have a lovely weekend, everyone 🙂

Caught By Love – guest blog by Jade Winters

9 Dec

Jade Winters is the best-selling author of four lesfic novels which have her readers hooked from start to finish. Here she talks about her latest Caught by Love.

JadeWintersphotoThe first thing I’m asked when I start writing a new novel isn’t “Oh how lovely, Jade, is it going to be a sloppy romance” or “Is the main character based on me?” (Cue fluttering of eye lashes). Oh no. Truth is, it’s more likely to be  “Who’s going to die this time?” or the “Am I going to need a valium after this one?”  Now, I’m not saying I lean towards the ‘dark side’ (Call me the even Grimmer Reaper) I prefer to see it as a desire to bring to my writing elements that have touched my life; and I don’t feel tragedy and death necessarily make for a depressing read. Such things can have a very positive effect on one’s life and allow a person to grow in a way they never thought possible. After all, ‘it’s always darkest before the dawn’. In this way, I find writing outside the bounds of the conventional romance enables me to explore a whole range of emotions beyond merely focusing on the attraction of two women protagonists throughout the book.

CaughtByLoveThe fact is, I love intrigue, a good twist or dilemma to sink my teeth into, because life without a problem or two would be dull indeed. As they say, put enough obstacles between two would-be lovers, and they are bound to fall over one of them and into each other’s arms! I wrote Caught by Love because I love writing about those hidden secrets, about ambiguity, because that’s what makes us human after all. Life is rarely black and white. Dealing with matters of the heart isn’t always going to be fluffy and light. Unfortunately, at some time in our lives we’re all going to suffer loss, betrayal (either real or imagined), strained friendships and fraught dealings with our parents,  all themes which I explore in Caught by Love.

The novel is hinged on the ‘will she ever find love again’ poser after the sudden loss of the central character’s partner. Hannah battles with the ‘how soon is too soon’ dilemma, one often faced by those left behind after a loved one dies. She struggles. She obsesses: What is the respectable grieving period? Will the new romance be disrespectful to the old? The guilt is overwhelming especially since, to her own surprise, the woman to whom she finds herself attracted is her late partner’s best friend, Alisa. Added to this cauldron of anxiety, Alisa has to deal with her own demons as she agonises over keeping a secret from Hannah which she knows could shatter their fragile union.

If I had to classify the novel, I would say Caught by Love, like all of my books, is indeed a love story…of sorts. It has many elements of the romance genre: the passion, the fire of desire that rages between the two female characters and the problems they encounter on the rocky road to happiness. But, by the same token, it’s not a typical romance. It has thrills, twists…and not just in the bedroom! It deals with the loss of an old love, the birth of a new one, and the guilt which accompanies that.  It deals with secrets, lies and what it is to be human and fallible. In short, I hate labels: “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” (Thanks Mr Shakespeare!)  Whatever Caught by Love is, I hope it is entertaining at least, and at most, a novel that will touch the reader and make them think. Enjoy!

News Roundup: L Festive Vids, New Books from Devon Marshall & Angela Peach, Lesley Davis Fantasy Collection, Desolation Point Bonus Scene, & More!

6 Dec

Deck the halls (or batten down the hatches; it’s bloody windy out there!) We’re on a Bloggy Christmas wind-down. Yes, we’ll be taking a short break for the festive season from December 18th till just after New Year, but before then we have some chocolate coin-like treats to squeeze in, not least this edition of the news…

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lfestiveI’ll start off this week by keeping with the ho-ho-ho-ing and the making of merry, as quite a few L Festive reports and photos have hit the ‘net in the past few days. Clare Ashton, Angela Peach, and Kiki Archer hosted a workshop for aspiring writers, which included tips, advice, and readings from their own works. The workshop was so well-received, it prompted Clare to write up her ideas in a blog post, so that those who couldn’t make it to L Festive didn’t miss out.

Here’s what she had to say about her current work in progress, which includes a YouTube link to her reading.

I’ve been torn between writing a couple of dark stories and a very British romcom. At the moment the romcom is winning – when horribly sleep-deprived and hallucinating, dark tales are possibly a bad idea. It’s set in London and here’s a passage I read at the weekend at L Festive, followed by a reading from After Mrs Hamilton.

Click away to watch Kiki Archer reading from Binding Devotion and One Foot Onto the Ice.

With thanks to Beni Gee for the rather lovely photo there.

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dante's choiceMoving onto new books news, and the sequel to Devon Marshall‘s Vampires of Hollywood Book 1: Dante’s Awakening has just been published. Vampires of Hollywood Book 2: Dante’s Choice continues the adventures of Dante Sonnier, Hollywood agent and friend to the vampire community:

Dante Sonnier…has been left reeling by revelations of her own supernatural ancestry. She also has a host of questions, but Dante knows that life with the vampires is rarely a one-problem-at-a-time deal, and answering these questions was never going to be simple… 

Dante’s Choice is available from Untreed Reads, and other retailers. I’ve added the full synopsis to the New and Upcoming Releases page.

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playing my loveThe aforementioned indie author Angela Peach published her fourth novel, Playing My Love, on November 23rd (if you don’t tell us, we don’t always catch ’em!) and the book is currently flying high at the top of Amazon UK’s Lesbian Romance chart.

I’d never believed in love at first sight. I mean, it had never happened to me, so I guess I just didn’t think about it. But then… 
Darcy. Beautiful, kind, intelligent Darcy, who showed me a whole new meaning to the word love, and how to live when I thought there was nothing to live for. 

I’ve squeezed its full synopsis into the November section of the New Releases page.

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Amy_Dunne_lgAmy Dunne‘s December début Secret Lies continues to garner excellent reviews. Rainbow Book Reviews had this to say about the YA romance:

There is a mega amount of passion, back stabbing, caring of a good and not so good quality, tender and passionate loving, super harsh brutalizing, and a truly compassionate reconciliation. This is splendidly balanced from the beginning to the end.

The full text of the review can be found here.

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PaleWingsProtectingFor those of you who are still scratching your head about Christmas presents – ha! Not me, my Christmas shopping is, literally, in the bag! – Bold Strokes Books have just released Lesley Davis Fantasy Volume 1, an ebook collection featuring  The Truth Behind the Mask, Dark Wings Descending, and its sequel Pale Wings Protecting. The compilation is available for $17.99 (which is around about 11 quid to you and me) and more information can be found at this link.

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treasure chestWe still have a handful of e-copies of VA Fearon‘s The Girl With the Treasure Chest for those quickest off the mark to send us an email (uklesfic@gmail.com) or leave a comment on the blog. You don’t have to be witty or charming, or anything; everyone likes a freebie!

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bah humbuggersAny folks who might not have been able to make it to VG Lee‘s recent Bah Humbuggers evening of unfestive fun, despair not. December 15th (7-10 p.m.) sees VG and Rose Collis bringing the show to The Hideaway, 2 Empire Mews, London SW16 2BF. The tickets include a glass of wine and canapés, and the proceeds of the evening will go to Kids’ City (a children’s charity providing after-school and holiday play-schemes for children in disadvantaged communities in south London.)

To book tickets for the event head here, and more details about the evening can be found on that page or over on our Events page.

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Desolation Point desktopBringing up the tail end this week is my own self (story of my life!) To celebrate the edits and the proofing for Tumbledown being all done and dusted, I posted a bonus deleted scene from Desolation Point over at my blog. The scene actually gets a brief mention in Tumbledown, and although you could easily use your imagination to fill in the blanks, I thought it might be nice to fill them in for you. Hit the link for the scene, and beware – there be spoilers for those folks who’ve not read Desolation Point

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Right, all that’s left for me to do is stuff another piece of Thornton’s Special Toffee into my gob and wish you all a happy weekend. Word of advice: avoid the Trafford Centre like the plague. For the next two and a bit weeks it’ll be the very definition of hell on earth.

eBook giveaway for VA Fearon’s The Girl With the Treasure Chest

4 Dec

treasure chestVA Fearon is giving away fifteen copies of her new book The Girl With the Treasure Chest, book one in a series of novels set in gang-land London. The format is epub you will need iTunes. Email us at uklesfic at gmail.com if you’d like a copy.

Here’s the blurb:

Dani Fenton thought her life was sorted. But when her private and professional lives collide, she is forced to walk a dangerous line and risk everything for love. At home Dani has a loving partner with a young child who adores her. At work she is a powerful broker in London’s vicious gangland, where she uses her influence to negotiate deals between rival gangs at underground “meets”.

Her intuition has never failed her and her charisma has attracted a loyal band of “soldiers” who would go to any lengths to please her. Life is good until Susanna returns. Enigmatic, sexual, hot-tempered and fragile, Susanna is irresistible to Dani, who soon finds herself in a spiral of obsession and violence that threatens to devastate every aspect of her life. Dani must choose between the love she has and the love she wants, and she knows the wrong decision could prove fatal.

If you missed it, VA Fearon did a lovely guest post for us recently on that familiar look – the international nod.