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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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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.

~~~

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.)

News Roundup: New Releases from Karen Campbell & Angela Peach, Polari Readings, Andrea Bramhall Cover reveal, and Free Stuff!

21 Nov

Welcome to a rather wet and shivery news update, written on one of those days where you just want to curl up with a nice cup of tea and a good book. So howsabout you stick the kettle on and I’ll have a toot at what’s on the shelves this week?

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strange adventures ofAnd I can indeed start by telling you all about a new book. Karen Campbell Diary of a Broken Heart, The Knowing, Little Whispers has recently released The Strange Adventures of Mavis Street, a book that – it’s fair to say – sounds unlike anything else in the pantheon of UK LesFic.

Mavis Street is a dwarf with one brown eye and one green eye, and a lopsided mouth. She grows up in the love of her mother and father, who teach her the lessons she needs for life. Growing up adept at poker, she wins a casino, buys a strip joint (where she first meets the beautiful Eladora Diodata) and runs a funeral parlour. She is assisted in life with best friends, Freya the Norwegian, Allistar Spanner and Sven the Swedish fisherman.

But Mavis needs a love and is lonely. She has a voice of honey and this dwarf talent leads her to a late-night radio show, where she broadcasts through the night, unable to sleep with longing for her lost love, Eladora Diodata.
Finally, Mavis will receive word that Eladora must be rescued and Mavis and Sven will set off on a course that will alter all their lives.

This is a book about family and love and friends and even though you may look in the mirror, as Mavis does, and think yourself ugly, there is always a true lover waiting who sees that you are beautiful because beauty is not measured in centimetres.

You can buy the book at the link above.

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VGKikiI had the pleasure of meeting Karen at the recent lesbian authors coffee shop event in Urmston where she read her short story, Voices Carry, from the Little Whispers collection. It’s a gorgeous story and – as luck would have it for those not in Manchester that day – Polari have posted a video of Karen reading it for the November Polari event.

Karen shared the bill with Kiki Archer and VG Lee, whose readings from Too Late…I Love You, and Diary of a Provincial Lesbian can be watched by clicking the links.

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cloud heartsMeanwhile Angie Peach is gearing up for the release of a new novel in February/March 2016 by releasing a selection of short stories to whet the appetite. The first, Cloud Hearts, is available here on Amazon:

I’m waiting in the meadow for her, for Elizabeth. The last place she could possibly be, and I hope that after all this time, she’ll remember. Because if she doesn’t…well, the consequences don’t even bear thinking about. We parted in the worst way possible and even though it took me a long time to come to terms with what had happened, I know the burden she carries weighs heavy in her heart and there’s every chance she can’t let go of the past.
But she must. If we are to ever have a chance at love again, she needs to forgive. Please, Elizabeth? Please?

Keep an eye out for more shorts as the release date creeps closer.

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collide o scopeAndrea Bramhall has unveiled the cover and the blurb for her forthcoming release Collide-O-Scope, her first with Ylva, which will be published in April 2016:

An unidentified woman is found murdered on the North Norfolk Coastal Path and newly promoted Detective Sergeant Kate Brannon and Kings Lynn’s CID have the task of figuring out whom, how, and why. A job that’s made more difficult when every one of the forty residents in the village has something to hide and answers her questions with a string of lies.

Georgina Temple has her own secrets to keep, and her own reasons to keep them. But her growing attraction to Kate makes it increasingly difficult to keep them.

Kate’s investigation into the woman’s death delves into the heart of the tiny fishing village where nothing and no one is quite what they seem.

Andrea’s most recent novel, The Chameleon’s Tale, was also reviewed by the Velvet Lounger this week:

“In the latest offering, The Chameleon’s Tale, we are firmly planted in South Africa, starting during apartheid when being liberal was a dangerous personal statement, and jumping forward to the present day, when the anger and pain of that era is still deeply engrained in all those affected. It combines romance, as do all Bramhall’s books, with a personal intrigue and a political thriller – in this case a page-turner dealing with corporate greed and social abuse.”

You can read the full review here.

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AllIWantForChristmas-Clare-LydonAll of which brings us hurtling to everyone’s favourite bit of the news: Free stuff!

First up is Clare Lydon, who is giving away a free bonus chapter of her chart-topping festive romance All I Want For Christmas. If you’ve read the book and you want to find out what happens to the characters on Boxing Day then all you need to do is sign up to Clare’s mailing list and she’ll send you the chapter for absolutely no pence whatsoever. Can’t say fairer than that.

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Cold to the TouchAnd that’s not all… Being a generous type, I’m currently running a giveaway for two copies of Cold to the Touch – the December sequel to No Good Reason. The first couple of names I pull out of the hat when the draw closes on Sunday 22nd November will win a paperback – signed or unsigned! – and a bag of delicious pork scratchings 🙂

You can enter by commenting here on my blog, or by saying hallo on my Facebook page. You are not obliged to eat the pork scratchings. Good luck!

 

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sdmFinally this week it’s with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to lesbian fiction author Sandra Moran. Sandra – who had many UK friends, myself and Tig among them – died on November 7th with her family by her side, shortly after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

Sandra’s first novel Letters Never Sent was published in 2013 and went on to win Rainbow awards for Best Lesbian Historical Romance and Best Lesbian Début, a Goldie for Dramatic General Fiction, and the Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award. Nudge followed hot on its heels in 2014, and All We Lack was published in March of this year.

Sandra had only spent a few years in the LesFic community, but her love of all things neon, taking blurry pictures of her cats and creating daft pie charts, along with her just being a damn good egg, made her a very popular lady indeed. She’ll be hugely missed, and our deepest condolences go to her family.

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News Roundup: Sarah Waters Hits the Stage, New Romance from KE Payne, Blogs from Jody Klaire, Clare Lydon, Jenny Frame, & Cari Hunter, Angie Peach Heads to GCLS, and Loads More!

9 May

Ahh, the sun is shining between rain showers, the birds are singing, and the Tories have finally stopped ringing me up at inopportune moments. Life is good and the news is absolutely hopping. So without further ado…

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KePayneLet’s start this week with a snippet about a new romance from K.E. Payne, who contacted the blog to let us know she has her seventh novel due out with Bold Strokes in October. The novel’s title is When I Knew You and its blurb goes like this:

When Ash Wells and Nat Braithwaite are thrown together after seventeen years apart, old resentments and passions are rekindled. The days of their heady teenage relationship are long gone – or are they? As they put aside their differences to honour the memory of a friend, Ash and Nat learn that sometimes, to build a future, you have to be willing to let go of the past.

K.E has promised to let us know when she gets the cover for this one sorted, so keep an eye on the news for updates.

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frog musicAwards season is continuing apace, with Emma Donoghue‘s Frog Music and Sarah WatersThe Paying Guests both shortlisted for the Third Annual Bisexual Book Awards. The Bi Writers Association will announce their winners in a ceremony to be held Saturday 30th May, with Waters and Donoghue competing against each other in the Bisexual Fiction category. You can find the full list of nominees here. Good luck to both Brits!

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We’ll stick with Sarah Waters for a moment, as word of a stage adaptation of Tipping the Velvet has sneaked onto the ‘net. Waters’ much-loved début novel is to be adapted for the stage as part of the Lyric Hammersmith‘s new season:

The play opens this autumn, and will run from 18th September to 24th October. This new adaptation of the novel by acclaimed playwright Laura Wade (Posh, Royal Court/West End) has been in the planning for four years. It will be directed by Lyndsey Turner (Chimerica, Almeida/West End).

From October the play will also be running in Edinburgh at the Edinburgh Lyceum, with the final performance scheduled for Saturday 21 November. As ever, more details can be found by hitting the link.

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vgleepolariThe Still Got Manners website has reviewed Polari‘s recent evening at Glasgow’s AyeWrite! festival. The event featured VG Lee: “who kicked things off in riotous style with accounts of her attempts at writing lesbian erotica. The droll sense of humour that runs through her writing is made even more hilarious by her impeccable comedy timing”, and Jackie Kay “with the talent of the true poet, she had audience members wiping away tears one moment with a lyrical tribute to her mother (and a reminder never to dismiss people as simply ‘old’)”. 

You can find the full review at the above link. Upcoming events from Polari feature Karen Campbell and Kerry Hudson. For more details see their schedule here.

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clare lydonSkipping onto blogs now, and Clare Lydon has decided that Book Editing: Not for Wimps in a new post detailing the trials and tribulations of cutting her next novel down to size:

With The Long Weekend, my beta readers brought up the fact I kept using the word ‘arse’, and had all the characters slapping each other’s bums every other scene – so I changed it. In This London Love, my beta readers told me people kept cocking their heads, putting their hands on their hips and turning on their heels every five minutes – all terribly camp and dramatic, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Clare’s third novel, This London Love – “not strictly a sequel” to London Calling – is due out in June, and the full blog entry is at the first link.

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blindtrustJody Klaire has been busy getting ready for the release of two novels. With Blind Trust, the sequel to The Empath, due out in summer, and a new romance La Vie En Bleu also pending, Jody has three blog updates to get people in the mood. You can find a primer for Blind Trust here and a character study on Renee Black from The Empath here. Rounding it all up is Jody discussing writing a romance when she’s better known for thrillers, along with a sneak-peek at the blurb for La Vie En Bleu, a snippet of which reads like this:

My name is Pippa Saunders and I have a BIG secret. You see I am engaged to Prince Charming, AKA Doug Fletcher, (Well unless it’s a golf day,) and my best friend and I, Rebecca (The one with the terrible haircut) live in our pokey little flat and are wonderful underachievers.  My life is pretty simple, I go to work in an office, go out to dinner with the handsome Doug and enjoy girlie DVD nights with Rebecca. It’s how I like it. Simple, uncomplicated and… well… Rebecca says boring…

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a royal romanceOver at the Bold Strokes blog, Jenny Frame, whose début A Royal Romance is out this month, is the feature of a new interview. In an interesting read, Jenny field questions about her influences, writing methods, and inspiration, amongst numerous other topics:

I always wanted to tell a story that was a modern retelling of a fairy tale. So my knight in shining armour and handsome prince is a handsome butch instead, who falls in love not with a suitable princess, but the village girl who protests outside the palace gates…It also gave me the opportunity to write about history and politics, two subjects I love, but still keep at its heart a sweet romance, with a healthy dose of spice.

Read more at this link.

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laddow3Finally in our blog hop I’ve chucked some pretty pictures of the Dark Peak and a shot of some rather gnarly-looking sheep onto my blog as a scene setter for No Good Reason. The snaps were mostly taken during the last year’s worth of hikes and include a few spectacular snowy shots from what turned out to be a good winter for walking. The pics and a bit of Dark Peak history can be found at the link.

And sneaking in just before the deadline, my freebie author copies arrived, which means only one thing: Giveaway! I’ve put two copies of No Good Reason up for grabs, either here at my blog or on my Facebook page. Deadline for comments/likes/discussion of biscuits is whenever I get my arse out of bed after my night shift (officially: noon GMT) on Wednesday 13th May. Best of British to you all.

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playing my loveFor those readers who might be reading this across the pond, or for anyone fond of travelling, Angela Peach will be heading Stateside in July to play at the Golden Crown Literary Society conference. Taking place 22-26 July, the conference is an extravaganza of LesFic, featuring panels, signings, readings and discussions, and culminating in the Goldies award ceremony. Although the schedule is still a work in progress, Angela has confirmed that she will be appearing on one of the panels. Hit the main GCLS site if you fancy making the trip or to have a toot at the finalists for this year’s awards.

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DSC_4199

If you’re more of a homebody, Vic Oldham has offered a glimpse of what this year’s Bold Strokes UK Nottingham bash has in store. With 13 BSB authors in attendance, the event promises to be bigger than ever and will include two after-event parties, the chance for prospective authors to pitch their novels, panels, chats, signings, and something called a Mayhem Team. I wish I could shed some light on the latter, but I honestly have no clue. As ever, the weekend will be held at the Waterstones store in the centre of Nottingham and it takes place 5-7th June.

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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 🙂