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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.

Q&A with Karen Campbell (and bonus Giveaway!)

25 Jun

Today it’s our pleasure to welcome Karen Campbell to the site. Hailing from Scotland, and a keen fan of Glasgow Rangers and Irn Bru, Karen is the author of Violet’s Story and the short story collection Little Whispers. Her new novel The Knowing – a Glasgow-based, supernatural crime thriller – is due for release on June 30th.

We also have two signed copies of The Knowing to give away – see the end of the post for more details.

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karencampbell2First up, tell us a bit about yourself. Are you really as grumpy as your bio says you are, or is it all for show?

I am quite grumpy in the morning, especially if I feel that I have been woken up before I have had about twelve hours sleep. (Which I never get with three dogs and an annoyingly chirpy girlfriend from the moment her eyes open.) I get better once I have had a cup of tea, but it’s touch and go some days. I’m joking, I think. I am generally quite a cheerful soul, I just swear too much, and with the Scottish accent it makes me sound grumpy!

the knowingYour new novel The Knowing is out at the end of June. What inspired you to write a “gritty, supernatural crime novel set in Glasgow”?

As a Scot, I think it is important to show Scotland in my writing. I lived in Glasgow for a bit and it has a gritty feel about it. Saying that, I love Glasgow, it has a great vibe and I will always have a softness in my heart for the city. The novel itself came from a short story I wrote and kept going back to, adding another chapter and another until it finally dawned on me that I had a book.

With British lesfic on the up and up, how important is Glasgow as a setting for the book? Would the story have worked as well in another city?

The story could work anywhere but I don’t love other cities as I love Glasgow. It was important for me to have Scottish characters in a Scottish city because I am very proud of my country. Glasgow is a wonderfully vibrant city but it also has a dark underbelly and a colourful history, which makes it perfect for a bit of creepiness.

The Knowing is the first part of a trilogy, and you’re currently writing its sequel, A Love Like Ishinnie. Do you have the series completely mapped out, or are you adapting it and developing it as you go along?

I know how the second book ends and I almost know how the last one ends, but there are a lot of in-betweens, and the fun I have with writing is that I like it to take me along on the ride and see where the story goes.

violet's storyYour debut novel Violet’s Story was a first-person account of mental illness. Were there particular issues that you wanted to address with the novel, and was it difficult to get inside Violet’s head?

This was my first serious dabble into writing, which I started when I was about 21 and went back to over the years. I wanted to show that love was the cause of her madness, and it wasn’t hard for me to get inside Violet’s head (maybe I shouldn’t admit that). I think there is a bit of madness in everyone and, as writers, we can tap into that side of us to make a character credible. Or maybe I’m just doo-lally.

LittleWhispersThere’s quite a gap between Violet’s Story in 2001 and the publication of The Knowing. Was it a case of getting back into writing, or are you sitting on a big stash of unpublished stuff?

I never stopped writing, but it was mostly short stories, nothing to grab me. After recovering from two episodes of cancer, I thought I only have one shot at this life and I need to be doing what it is that makes me happy, and so I knuckled down a bit and got a bit more serious about it. I got plenty of ideas for more books, from this hiatus, and now I just need to get around to actually writing them down instead of having them flying around the recesses of my mind.

If you had to choose between Irn Bru and Rangers getting back up into the Scottish Prem, which would it be?

Rangers every time. There are other drinks but there is only one Glasgow Rangers!

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Many thanks to Karen for letting us peck her head with our questions, and to Lily at Austin Macauley Publishers for setting up the Q&A. You can find out more about Karen and her novels by heading here to her Facebook page.

And now for the GIVEAWAY! If you fancy getting your hands on a signed copy of The Knowing, we have two up for grabs. To be entered into the draw, just leave a comment in this thread or email us at uklesfic @ gmail.com (take out the spaces when you use the address). Closing date for entries is  July 3rd at noon BST. Good luck!

Guest Post and Giveaway from Andrea Bramhall

29 Apr

BSB-AndreaBramhallLgToday we have a short guest post from Andrea Bramhall, and a chance to win a copy of her new book Nightingale which goes on general release in May. Nightingale is Andrea’s third novel, and she has a fourth – Swordfish (a sequel to her début novel Ladyfish) – on the way in January, 2015. If you want to catch up with Andrea in person, she’ll be attending the Bold Strokes Books UK shindig in Nottingham on June 7th and 8th (head here for more details.)

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Inspiration; ɪnspɪˈreɪʃ(ə)n/ {noun} A fickle creature that visits at the most inconvenient times and deserts us when we need it most. Can sometimes be coaxed to a party with a wide range of stimulants given its addictive nature, and originates from the same genus of animal as creativity, inventiveness, and imagination.

One thing I do know about inspiration is that it can come from anywhere, at any time, and smack you, like a brick…right between the eyes.

The inspiration for my book, Nightingale, started very simply. It started when I heard a song on the radio. Norah Jones’ Nightingale. A lovely, wistful little song with a very simple lyric line. And the first few lines of the song were all it took for me to form the idea of ill-fated lovers, longing for the past they had together and their only desire being to find each other again, to re-kindle the flickering flames of their passion, and spend eternity burying the pain of their separation.

nightingale“Nightingale
Sing us a song
Of a love that once belonged
Nightingale
Tell me your tale
Was your journey far too long?

Does it seem like I’m looking for an answer
To a question I can’t ask?”

It was this final line that led me to the deeper parts of the story in Nightingale.

Hazaar and Charlie meet and fall in love at University. They spend three years together trying to ignore the fact that time is ticking away as the expectations of Hazaar’s family creep up on them. Hazaar’s father is a respected businessman in the strong Muslim community in the North of England, and Hazaar knows that the time is coming when she will have to decide between her love for Charlie and her own self-respect, or everything she has held dear in her life to that point. Her faith, her family, her culture, friends…everything. She is looking for the answer to the question both of them are too afraid to ask. When the time comes…which will she choose? What are the consequences of each choice? And can she live with the consequences of her final decision?

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For a chance to win a signed paperback copy or an ebook of Nightingale simply answer the following question, and correct answers will go into the proverbial hat to be drawn at random.

What does ‘Hazaar’ mean in Arabic?

Email your answer to andreabramhall@rocketmail.com. Good luck!

Giveaway Winners: Puppy Love and The January Flower!

3 Feb

There’s little we like more on UK LesFic than giving away free stuff (hmmm, with the exception of cake and chocolate!) and we’ve had two authors  – Orla Broderick and LT Smith – running giveaways through the site for the past couple of weeks.

We’ve had a lovely, chatty response for both competitions, and we’ve just had the pleasure of drawing the winners via a handy random number generator.

the january flowerThe winners of Orla Broderick‘s début novel The January Flower are:

Widdershins and julietwilson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

puppyloveThe winners of LT Smith‘s Puppy Love are:

solargrrl, Amanda C, and Trish Whelan.

Congratulations to all five of you – look out for an e-mail from uklesfic later today.

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the draw, and to both authors for their generosity 🙂

News Roundup: Our First Birthday! New Indie Sites, RJ Samuel & Jade Winters Interviews, Upcoming Events, and More!

30 Jan

cake!Ooh, time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? UK LesFic celebrated its first birthday this week – 25th January, fact fans! – and it’s not been a bad year at all. We’ve come a long way since those early posts, made a lot of new friends, expanded our author list considerably, and almost know what we’re doing now!

So, we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s supported the site over the past 12 months. I would offer you a slice of cake, but we’ve scoffed it all. Have some news instead…

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First out of the traps this week, Planet of the Books has been catching up on RJ Samuel‘s novels with a review of her 2012 début, Heart Stopper. The link there includes a brief Q&A with RJ.

RJSamuelAuthorPicHeart Stopper is right on the money with the scientific detail – reminiscent of early Michael Crichton – and an intriguing love story between two appealing female characters, and both are stories of the heart. A fantastic first novel that combines drama, attention to detail and a compulsive attraction. 

RJ has also been busy creating Indie LesFic, a new site listing independent authors of lesbian fiction (many of whom will be familiar to regular readers of this blog.) The site is growing day by day, so be sure to pay it a visit here.

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Apparently, sites for indie authors are a bit like buses – you wait ages for one and then two come along at once (hopefully smelling a lot nicer than the top deck of the 192 – cannabis, wet dogs, and well, more cannabis!)

In the words of its web mistresses, Sapphica Books is: “one easy, fabulous place to find independent authors writing lesbian fiction and non-fiction.” VT Davy and Vickie Clifford are two home-grown talents currently signed up to the site, but as it grows I expect we will see many more joining its listing.

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guiltyheartkindlecover-186x300Over at LGBTQA Culture is another combined review and interview, this time featuring Jade Winters and her new novel Guilty Hearts. Katie Kobrossi had this to say about the book:

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an easy read and a love story that’ll leave you with a smile on your face. I felt for these characters (we meet and love many) and join them on their journeys to finding themselves and the meaning of love and commitment.

You can read the full piece here.

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Cherry PottsCherry Potts recently posted an open invite to our UK LesFic Facebook page: Lesbian writers in London or nearby, who can read their work well – short stories or poetry – please contact us. We are looking for performers for our Queer Tales session 19th Feb. Max 2000 words. Hope to hear from you. We can pay reasonable expenses and a couple of free drinks.

The full details, including contact information, for The Story Sessions can be found here.

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ylvaAlso on the look out for talent, is LesFic publisher Ylva who have posted a call for submissions for their 2014 Halloween anthology:

We are looking for lesbian fiction. That hasn’t changed. All submissions must have either Halloween or supernatural beings as the main theme. The stories can be romantic, humorous, enthralling, spooky or erotic. We accept only short stories that haven’t been previously published.

Full details can be found by hitting this link.

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KePayneWe now know a little more about KE Payne‘s sixth novel Once The Clouds Are Gone, as KE has just unveiled its blurb over on her website:

Nine years after leaving the small Scottish town where she’d grown up, the sudden death of her father forces Tag Grainger to return to a life she’s long since put behind her. After inheriting a share of a family business she wants no part in, Tag is overwhelmed by the dark clouds of her past; her brother can’t forgive her, the nephew she adored doesn’t remember her, and everywhere she goes there are whispers about how she abandoned her family. With her old wounds re-opened Tag longs to escape again, until the appearance of the intriguing and spirited Freddie Metcalfe forces her to re-evaluate much more than she thought she needed to. But while Freddie is harbouring a secret of her own, can she help Tag reconnect with her family and move on from her past?

The novel is due for release in October 2014, and KE is currently working with Bold Strokes on the cover design.

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Another novel promised for 2014 is Sky Croft‘s sequel to her 2013 hit Mountain Rescue: The Ascent. According to her blog, she has just sent the manuscript for Mountain Rescue: On The Edge off to Regal Crest, and is hoping to see the book released this year.

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vghome34VG Lee has so many antics planned for February and March that it’s impossible for us to list them all. If you fancy catching Val performing comic readings, stand-up comedy, headlining at Polari, hosting this year’s Rainbow Intersection event, or being part of Polari Up North in early March, head over here to her events page, and pop the dates into your diary. All that and keeping an allotment as well, she puts the rest of us to shame!

Monument to Murder cover image~ ~ ~

If you still have any space left in your diary , February 5th will see Polari First Book Prize winner Mari Hannah in conversation with Ann Cleeves at the Tea and Tipple, 18 Market Place, Corbridge, NE45 5AW.

For tickets, call: 01434 632931

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HILD_jacket_closerNicola Griffith has been chatting with Norelle Done at Seattle Wrote, in a piece that’s part interview, part overview of Nicola’s career to date. The feature is well worth a read, and concludes with sage advice for aspiring writers:

“You have to do the work. It involves being patient … You don’t get to be a good writer until you’ve done the work. It’s not magic, although it can feel like magic.” And she would echo her partner, Kelley Eskridge, who spoke with me about a concept called the ‘Generosity Economy’: “Play nicely … You don’t get anywhere as a lone person … It’s possible, but it’s very hard. Very unlikely. Why not make friends, and do some good in the world!”

Find the full interview here, and Nicola has also posted another handy Hild round-up, this one featuring loads of reviews, but sadly no photos of “pets reading Hild.”

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the january flowerFinally this week, a reminder to get your entries in for our two ongoing book giveaways. Orla Broderick‘s giveaway for The January Flower ends on 31st January, and LT Smith‘s giveaway for Puppy Love runs until noon GMT on February 3rd. Leave a comment in the relevant thread, or email uklesfic at gmail.com to enter.

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Somewhat ironically, I do have a birthday cake to make now – for the missus though, not the site! Whatever your plans for the day, I hope you too find time for cake.

rainbow cake

Puppy Love by LT Smith – Book Giveway!

27 Jan

puppyloveJust before Christmas, UK LesFic received a lovely e-mail from Astrid Ohletz over at Ylva Publishing, asking whether we would host a giveaway for LT Smith‘s latest novel Puppy Love. Naturally, we jumped at the chance, and LT has written us a short piece explaining her inspiration for the novel, and telling us about the charity to which she has pledged all the royalties.

We have three signed copies up for grabs, and it’s as easy as pie to enter: just leave a comment in this thread, or e-mail us here: uklesfic at gmail.com Closing date for entries is Monday 3rd February, noon GMT, and we’ll announce the winners in the news roundup that week.

So, all that remains for me to do is hand you over to LT, and go Google some cute puppy pictures…

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DogsTrustLogoAs a lover of animals, dogs especially, I have always dreamed of helping those less fortunate than I. In this case, it is help for what we all consider to be “Man’s Best Friend”. When I first penned Puppy Love, I always had the dream that if it was ever published, then all my royalties would go to help those pups in distress, and one of the main charities in the UK that can do this is the Dogs Trust.

The aim of the Dogs Trust is to give stray and abandoned dogs a second chance at a brighter future with responsible, caring new owners. They are totally reliant on voluntary donations to continue the fantastic work they do. Without our help and support, it would be simply impossible for the Trust to care for over 16,000 dogs every year.

So, here is the deal. I am offering three signed copies of Puppy Love (I would say to three “lucky readers” but you might disagree) for you to win.  But, me being me, I can’t decide how to choose a winner.  I have a hard enough time deciding if I want coffee or tea most of the time.  Therefore, with a smug grin, I am going to leave the finishing touches of the giveaway to the lovely ladies at UK LesFic.  It will be their job to decide who gets a copy and they can let me know.  I’ll take over from there.

cute puppy 1One last thing before I leave you in peace – thank you so much for all your support.  I am sitting here with fingers crossed (and finding it very difficult to type) that you will offer the same level of support to our furry pals.

Happy reading and good luck.

L T Smith

(You can keep up to date with everything that LT’s up to by heading over here to her Facebook page here.)

News Roundup: Help us Win Stuff, Free Stuff, New Stuff, P-Town Stuff, and Spooky Stuff!

4 Nov

Morning, morning! To compensate for last week’s lack of news (in truth, there wasn’t much going on, I was snowed under with Tumbledown edits, and Clare was snowed under with having a life!) we have a ginormous update for you this week. Loads of authors have been up to mischief, and there’s plenty of free stuff for you all to get your grabby hands on. So, where to start?

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nominatedLet’s start with us. And when I say “us”, I mean UK LesFic, which has been nominated for an Ultimate Planet award in the category of Blogger of the Year, over at the Planet London website. Huzzah! And, of course, thank you to all those who took the time to nominate the site. So what happens next? Voting for the shortlisted nominees is open here throughout November, and it would be rather fab if people would hop on over there and put a tick in our box (so to speak).

VG Lee, Stella Duffy, and Jackie Kay are nominated for Published Author of the Year, and also on the list are Clare Ashton and Kiki Archer, who are scrapping it out for Published Author of the Year (Independent).  Congratulations to all, and um…good luck to those trying to decide between the latter two 🙂

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onefootWhilst we’re on the theme of Ultimate Planet and Ms Archer, Planet of the Books (the literary offshoot of Ultimate Planet) recently reviewed Kiki’s new novel One Foot Onto The Ice, where they had this to say:

Well paced, and gentle, and sometimes very sexy, this romance offers some sweet moments as two polar opposite women find love and face their internal demons in a bid for love.

You can read the full text of the review here.

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the black houndSpooky stuff now, and Niamh Murphy has published a new short story for Halloween over on Wattpad. Complete and in three parts, The Black Hound tells the story of Isobel, forced to live in a crumbling manor where something lurks on the surrounding moors. With the arrival of the new lady’s maid, Kate, Isobel’s life is about to be altered, forever…

The story is free to read, and available at the link.

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Amy_Dunne_lgDébut Bold Strokes Books author Amy Dunne has a Behind the Writing interview up at her BSB author’s page, where she chats about what made her become a writer (“the gift of the gab”!) where she gets her ideas from, and what her family have had to say about the whole shebang (which sounds naughtier than was actually intended!)

They’ve been amazingly supportive—especially considering I’ve been telling them I was going to write a book for over ten years. My beautiful wife was the only person I trusted to read the first draft. She kept putting it off and making excuses, and only later she confessed it was because she was terrified it was going to be awful and she wasn’t sure how she’d break the news to me…

You can read the full interview at the first link, and with Secret Lies due for release in December there is a short excerpt from the novel in the November BSB newsletter.

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FinalistSMMore awards news for you, with Elisa Rolle running a month-long Treasure Hunt throughout November to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Rainbow Awards. Each day, mystery excerpts from 6 of the shortlisted novels will be published. To enter, try to identify your chosen book in the comments. There’s no limit on how many books you can win, and you can keep entering until November 30th. Correct entrants will go into a draw at the end of the month. The books offered are a mix of e-books and paperbacks. You can find the entire list of novels at the link, and there are quite a few LesFic authors on it…

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the january flowerSticking with the theme of freebies, Orla Broderick‘s Polari-longlisted novel The January Flower is currently free on Kindle. The offer is open for five days, and the original announcement was made on Friday, so there should be a couple of days remaining for you to go and get yourself a copy. The first link is the UK link, and the US link (before we get our arses kicked by our US readers!) is here.

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See Right Through Me- Draft2With the joyous prospect of Christmas shopping creeping onto the horizon, November seems set to be a lively month for LesFic releases. LT Smith has been talking about her new novel See Right Through Me over on the Ylva website:

When I was writing See Right Through Me, I kept on thinking about how we sometimes doubt the most obvious good things in our lives. How we question those three little words—not “I love you” exactly, but the three other little words that should come hand in hand with it. Trust, respect, and love. How sometimes our own actions can lead to negativity, lead to those other three words—jealously, insecurity, and heartbreak. I wanted to show what could happen if we found ourselves in that situation, what we could lose if we allowed our lack of confidence to encroach on love. Not the most pleasant experience, believe me.

See Right Through Me has just been published, and you can read the full piece from LT here.

Sneaking in at the last minute is MORE FREE STUFF! Ylva have just announced that they have two e-book versions of See Right Through Me to give away. All you have to do to enter the draw is leave a comment at the foot of this page, or send an email to info@ylva-verlag.de Better get your skates on though; the closing date is 5 a.m. Tuesday morning (how random!)

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GB-Cover1VT Davy, another author with a new book out, has been blogging about Deadlines, Rewrites and Getting it Out There

The biggest rewrite happened back in May following the passage through Parliament of the same-sex marriage bill. I never thought that it would go through. I thought that the bishops in the House of Lords would ensure that it was sent back down to the Commons to be revised. When it did pass, I spent 24 hours worrying about whether the novel that I’d worked on for seven months was now relevant. It didn’t take me long to realise it was, as the news about the battles for equal marriage from the USA and Australia kept on coming.

And just before I hit post on this news, up went a guest blog from VT over on Women and Words, where she talks about the politics behind A Very Civil Wedding .

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NicolaGriffithThere are not one, but two new interviews – one video, one print – with Nicola Griffith talking about Hild. The print interview at The Coffin Factory includes a particularly lovely description of Nicola discovering Whitby for the first time:

In my early twenties I was living in Hull, a depressed (and depressing) city in East Yorkshire. And one spring I needed to get out, get away for a few days. I hiked north up the coast, to a town called Whitby. I’d read Dracula so I was expecting the one hundred and ninety-nine steps up the cliff. I was expecting the great ruin of an abbey against the skyline. I wasn’t expecting what happened next…

To find out what did happen next and how it inspired the novel, hit the link.

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I.Beacham_lgClosing out this week with reports from three of our Brits who made the trip over to PTown for Women’s Week and then made it all the way back, safe and sound, to tell us about it. Over on the UK BSB blog, I. Beacham shares her insight into the benefits of Women’s Week:

So there’s a lot of lovely exchange going on all week and women meeting women and talking (and possibly other stuff, but I’m British and I don’t talk about sex). PTown is very relaxed and definitely a place every lesbian (reader or not) ought to go at least once in their lifetime. The place is alive, exciting, exhilarating.

She also gives some handy travel tips for anyone who might be considering making the trip next year: Is it easy to get to? Remember PTown is right on the far tip of the Cape, any further right and you’ll be a fish. 

Sage advice indeed. For more of the same, head here.

PTownJoining the BSB contingent was Andrea Bramhall, whose A Brit Abroad blog gives a comprehensive look into the panels and various hijinks that occur when a lot of lesbians gather in one rather small town:

Saturday was the last day of readings and signings. We were in the Provincetown Library and Vk Powell went into full cop mode trying to coral us all on the When Sparks Fly panel. Shelley Thrasher drafted in the considerable theatrical talents of Melissa Brayden and Carsen Taite to play characters in her reading. Carsen was meant to be playing a French woman but she had a decidedly German accent. It was hilarious. 

There are some lovely photos, and of course the rest of the tale, at the link.

Not to be outdone, RJ Samuel has posted a series of seven blog entries detailing her time in the States. From clicking on the link to buy plane tickets, to meeting online friends, playing wiffle ball, and of course, appearing on her first panel, RJ has left no stone unturned:

RJ Samuel reading on FridayI enjoyed the experience of relaxing and just reading my words aloud to what seemed like a group of interested friends. While planning the trip, I’d printed out 10 booklets of a short story and had promised them to the first five women who came up to say hi to me after each reading. On the spur of the moment, looking out at the audience, especially at the friendly face of Tonie, Kate’s partner, I wanted some way to thank them for listening, for being supportive. I asked for a hug instead and the wonderful hugs I got were another highlight of my trip. And a surprise for me and for anyone who knows how shy and introverted I can be.

Her epic blog starts here, and the links for the next entry can be found at the base of each page.

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And I think that’s about yer lot. If you’re off to a bonfire this week, wrap up warm, eat parkin, and try not to have anyone’s eye out with a sparkler 🙂