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Guest Blog & Giveaway with Anna Larner: Highland Fling – We need to talk about love!

24 Mar

A warm welcome to Anna Larner, whose debut novel, Highland Fling, will be released next month by Bold Strokes Books. Anna is today’s guest blogger and generous giver-away-er of a lovely signed paperback…

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Set in the majesty of the Highlands of Scotland, Highland Fling tells the story of holiday maker Eve Eddison who falls for enigmatic local Moira Burns. The unfolding twists and turns of their emotional journey to love remind us that when we fall for someone, we don’t really know what we’re getting into.

This brief description offers just an outline and I’ve been thinking about how I can introduce Highland Fling to you properly, how to explain to you what lies at its heart, what drives its characters and shapes their story. To do this we need to talk about love – because ‘love’ in all its complexities defines Highland Fling.

As we all know, love can hurt us as much as it can bring us joy. Love is contradictory. Love can begin big, burn bright and fizzle out, or it can start small, grow tall and magnificent. It can mean nothing or it can define you. It can be forgotten or forever remembered.

Love can humiliate you or make you proud. It can thoughtlessly hurt you or tenderly heal you. It can be certainty or it can be risk. It can be the impulse to leave or the reason to stay.

It is the stuff of humour and the heart of tragedy.

And that is Highland Fling – love in all its states, real and true.

I can’t protect my characters from the effects of love, and it is not my place to. This is their story not mine. If I stepped in to prevent Eve from falling for Moira because I know that loving Moira will risk her heart, then I diminish Eve by not allowing her to grow and find her ‘one’.  And if I refined Moira, somehow made her simpler, then she would not reflect her true self and I would have fictionalised her when the real Moira is so much more vivid and whole.

Highland Fling not only embodies love, it has been written with love, from my heart, unguarded, unconfined by expectation. If I followed a rule at all, then it is this – to be true to my characters, to be their faithful writer and yours.

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To celebrate the publication of Highland Fling, Anna is giving away a signed paperback copy. Just leave a comment on this post or send an e-mail to: uk lesfic @ gmail .com (take out the spaces before you use the address!) to be entered into the draw. Closing date: 31st March, 2017. Good luck!

Highland Fling will be available 1st April 2017 from the Bold Strokes Books website, and 18th April 2017 from all other retailers.

To keep in touch with Anna, check out her blog or find her here on Facebook.

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Jen Silver – Journey to Winterbourne and an Ebook Giveaway!!!

18 Nov

Giveaway is now closed and the winners are: Elma Young and Devlyn!

Christmas is coming and Jen Silver has the perfect book for the upcoming holidays. Leave a comment at the end of the blog to be in with a chance of winning an ebook of Christmas at Winterbourne. Take it away Jen!

 

christmasatwinterbourneThe ideal Christmas to me is a few days in a country house hotel, log fires, mulled wine on tap, homemade mince pies, Christmas crackers and beautifully prepared meals that we haven’t had to shop for or cook (and clean up). Then, a little doze after the main meal when the most important decision is whether or not to watch the Queen’s speech.

So this was the inspiration for Christmas at Winterbourne…the cosy Christmas setting with a lesbian twist.

The book took me a long time to finish. I started it two and a half years ago and since then I have had four other books published (and another submitted to my publisher and accepted!).

What happened? Well, it was going to be a short story for Affinity’s 2014 Christmas Collection. However, after writing the first sixteen hundred words, I realised there was a full-length novel lurking.

Christmas at Winterbourne is a story that has its beginnings in the past. Characters in the book flash back to memories of the previous owner of Winterbourne House, Kim Russell. The book’s subtitle is ‘A Memoir in the Making’ so the story is as much about Kim as it is about the present day inhabitants and guests.

Kim has her own fully developed backstory in an unpublished novel—something I started writing about twenty-three years ago. But it needed re-telling from a present-day perspective. This meant I already had a cast of characters, just older (and not necessarily wiser). But the Christmas theme brought a different dimension and gave me the chance to add some new characters.

The Christmas setting won’t appeal to everyone, so it was a relief for me to see these comments by a reviewer:

…I was surprised at how much I liked this book. I am not a fan of Christmas and I was really worried that this book would be all about it. Turns out that while the book is set during that time of year, it was much, much more than that! Ms Silver writes flawlessly. The pace was great, there were no technical errors that I noticed and the story itself was just wonderful…

Readers of my other books will also notice I’ve taken a break from the north of England landscape. Christmas at Winterbourne is set in the Sussex countryside, not far from Brighton. I had started the original story when I was living in London. When I began the new one, I did have thoughts about relocating it to somewhere near Manchester, but Winterbourne was pretty much set in my mind as I could picture the village and surrounding area with visions of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville West frolicking in the woods.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it before, here is the back of the book blurb:

The Christmas festivities for the guests booked into Winterbourne House have all the goings-on of a traditional holiday. The only difference is that this guesthouse is run by lesbians, for lesbians.

When the guests arrive, tensions are already simmering between the house’s owner Wilma (Wil) and very pregnant partner, Gabriella. Wil has a lot on her plate…ensuring the smooth running of the events, looking after all the guests, including her in-laws and business partners. What she hasn’t planned for is a ghost from Christmas past.

jen_silver_christmasWil inherited Winterbourne from her adopted mother, Kim Russell, author of a series of successful lesbian novels. Most of the guests who stay, do so because they are fans of the author.

One guest, Sally Hunter, is on a mission to write Kim’s official biography. She meets with resistance from the people at the house she tries to interview, stirring up memories from those who knew the reclusive writer well.

For a bit of extra spice to the festivities, add in an unexpected snowstorm, a disappearing guest, and an imminent birth. Join the guests and staff at Winterbourne for a Christmas you’ll not soon forget.

So, I hope you’ll enjoy a visit to Winterbourne House. Never a dull moment where this lot are concerned (oh, and there are horses, too!).

Christmas at Winterbourne is available from: Affinity eBooks / Amazon UK / Amazon US / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Welcome to the Club – a bit of research and a giveaway!

22 Jul
The-Club-by-A.L.-Brooks

Welcome to The Club—leave your inhibitions and your everyday cares at the door and indulge yourself in an evening of anonymous, no-strings, woman-on-woman action. For many of the women who visit The Club this is exactly what they are looking for and what they get. For others the emotions run high, and one night of sex can change their lives in ways they couldn’t have imagined. For Lou, her weekly visits to The Club enable her to set aside her shyness and loneliness and feel intimacy, however briefly. For Kath, caring for her mother at home, The Club is a welcome relief from her everyday toil; while Max needs distraction from her troubled relationship, even as she tries to tell herself she isn’t really cheating. Tania and Jacky find an outlet for a tricky block in their sex life. Cassie and Nina, bar staff at The Club, find themselves staying on after hours. And finally, Stephanie, struggling with her sexuality, finds her life changing in so many ways once she plucks up courage to enter. The lives of these women intersect in ways they don’t realize, and watching over them all is Mandy— the owner, whose own ghosts play a pivotal role in the existence of The Club.

“Welcome to The Club—leave your inhibitions and your everyday cares at the door.”

Aaah… it’s a tough life being an lesfic author. It’s your job to imagine attractive women meeting and falling into bed with each other. It’s hell I tell you. Then there’s the research. Just your everyday research. Here’s AL Brooks to tell you about where the background checks for her intriguing debut, The Club, took her.

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Research for a novel can take you to many strange places, I’ve discovered. The Club is an ensemble piece set in a fictional lesbian sex club. There are many characters and stories interwoven throughout and as a result that led to some, er, interesting research projects.

Over the duration of my time writing The Club, I managed to rack up a Google search list that contained, amongst other things: BDSM equipment suppliers and dungeon-builders, the symptoms of anxiety attacks, the truth about female ejaculation and what real lesbian sex clubs there were in the UK for comparison purposes (I couldn’t find any evidence of any, sadly).

At the end of the process I was thankful for the fact that (a) I was doing this all from my personal laptop, rather than my work one, and (b) that I was old enough not to have my mother monitoring my internet usage.

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Sound intriguing? The Club is now available on Amazon and you can also enter the draw for a free paperback and two ebooks! Just add a comment of interest below, or even better leave a comment letting AL Brooks know about your most surprising topic of research – something you never thought you needed to know!

(Giveaway closes Thursday 28th July.)

Jen Silver guest post and book giveaway

29 Apr

We have Jen Silver with us today to talk a little about her new book The Circle Dance. And because she’s just got her mitts on her author copies she’s being fabulous and giving away two shiny paperbacks. So have a read and leave a comment to enter the draw. Take it away Jen!

Circling and cycling

circle_finalMy fourth book, The Circle Dance, was published in March, coming out hot on the heels of the third book in what is now called The Starling Hill Trilogy – Carved in Stone.

Although set in the same area, in and around Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, The Circle Dance is a completely different story with a new set of characters. There’s no actual circle dancing in the novel (sorry to disappoint any enthusiasts of this activity). I could just as easily have named it The Cycle Dance, as one of the main characters cycles to work – a quite challenging journey between Hebden Bridge and Huddersfield.

Cycling is big around here even though any journey will involve negotiating steep hills to move between the deep valleys. A lot of weekend cyclists use the canal towpaths for a gentler pastime. My cycling days are long gone – this photo of me on my once beloved Apollo ten speed is from almost thirty years ago.

Jentbt_ten_speedAnyway, cycling aside, The Circle Dance is primarily a romance. And, as with my previous books, most of the women involved are in their mid-to-late 40s. One of the reviewers on Amazon put it succinctly with the observation that maturity doesn’t always guarantee common sense when it comes to relationships – one of the protagonists discovers the hard way that “what goes around, comes around”. (An excellent circle – and cycle – metaphor to fit the title, I thought.)

So, this is the back of the book blurb:

Jamie Steele has moved to another town trying to forget the heartbreak of losing her lover. She now has a low paying job as an IT technician, lives in a rented room, and mostly failing, at the forgetting part.

Ivana Spencer is introduced to Jamie over dinner at her friends’ house. She can see herself falling for Jamie, but Jamie hasn’t got over her ex, Sasha, and perhaps never will.

Sasha Fairfield, finds her thoughts taken up with her ex-lover of six years and thinks she wants Jamie back. But given the acrimonious nature of their breakup will Jamie want to even talk to her? After all, Jamie lost her home, her job, her car…and most importantly, the cat…all at the same time.

Follow this captivating romance as love dances through the lives of these women to its surprising conclusion.

I hope that whets your appetites to discover what happens in the story and perhaps you’ll decide to come along for the ride.

The Circle Dance is available from: Affinity eBooks / Amazon / Bella Books / iTunes / Smashwords.

jenbooksJen lives in West Yorkshire with her long-term partner whom she married in December 2014. Reading, writing, golf, archery, and taking part in archaeological digs all form part of Jen’s everyday life. Her novels, published by Affinity eBook Press, include the Starling Hill Trilogy: Starting Over, Arc Over Time, and Carved in Stone. The Circle Dance, published in March 2016, is a standalone story. Jen describes her books as romance for the older generation who believe in growing old disgracefully

Guest post and giveaway by Jen Silver – Voices in my Head

12 Jun

The giveaway is now closed.

Jen Silver is back with UKLesFic to talk about her new novel, Arc Over Time.  It follows hot on the heels of her debut Starting Over – a tale of simmering passion in the hills and down in the archaelogical dig trenches. Jen is doing a paperback giveaway of Arc Over Time, or, if you missed the first book, a copy of Starting Over if the lucky winner prefers. Details below and over to Jen!

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arc over timeThey’re back! The Starling Hill gang, as they call themselves. Instead of lying down quietly on the shelf between the covers of Starting Over, they started clamouring for attention.

Dr Kathryn Moss, a respected archaeology professor – well, I really didn’t expect any trouble from her. She’s usually fairly quiet on the whole, saving her energy for giving lectures and writing academic papers. And she’s happy with things generally. Okay, so it didn’t work out with Ellie and she’s still disappointed about that but the long distance relationship with Denise means she gets regular reminders that she’s not dead from the waist down, yet.

Den is much more vocal. She’s not happy with this LDR arrangement at all. The roving reporter, one time Queen of the Casual Shag, she’s now totally smitten with the professor. She wants commitment but Kathryn’s keeping her at arm’s length and the u-haul is parked in the garage for the time being.

Then there’s Jasmine Pepper. She felt she got short-changed in Starting Over and wanted more than a walk on part. And why should everyone be left thinking she was a class-A bitch? How could I do that to her? Well, Jas, you asked for it. Nothing ever goes quite to plan for Jasmine, and she gets a few shocks along the way, but don’t despair, this is a romance after all.

Ellie and Robin have been a bit pre-occupied (SPOILER ALERT for anyone who hasn’t read Starting Over).  After their trip to Rome, when Robin proposed, Ellie decided to take up painting again. She’s a very talented artist and it’s one of her paintings that threatens to derail any hopes Den has of a lasting relationship with Kathryn.

jensilverMeanwhile Jo and Harry have moved onto a narrow boat on the canal at Hebden Bridge. Jo is doing very well, thank you, making and selling sock puppets and loom bands. And what about our royal skeleton and her partner? Without venturing into the paranormal, I can only say, a mere matter of a few thousand years won’t stop the Queen of the Brigantes from having her say.

All right, guys, you’ve got another book – can I go now?

Actually, no. The voices have started already. ‘Why is she on the cover?’ ‘You can’t leave me here!’ ‘That’s not fair, she’s had all the fun.’

Sigh. Never a dull moment where the Starling Hill gang are concerned. (Am I certifiably nuts? No, just a writer.)

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To win a paperback copy of Arc Over Time, or Starting Over, please leave a comment below (as verbose as you fancy or as brief as “Me!”). Or if you’re very shy or comment averse, you can email us at uklesfic at gmail.com to enter the draw. Good luck!

The Hystery App: Guest blog by VT Davy

15 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.