Archive | April, 2015

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!

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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.