Tag Archives: Bold Strokes Books

News Roundup: New Releases from Jane Fletcher & Jen Silver, Free Audio Book from Jane Retzig, Wrapping up 2015 with Clare Lydon, Events, Awards, and More!

16 Jan

The tinsel is stashed away for another year, the party poppers are popped, and we’re back with our first news round-up of 2016. I suspect most of our authors are still slightly hungover, because things are a little quiet on the UK LesFic front, but I’ve done my best to dig up a few tantalising tidbits with which to welcome in the new year…

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Writer-Sarah-Waters-006Let’s kick off with some good news on the awards front, with both Sarah Waters and Ali Smith making the Bailey Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist, for The Paying Guests And How to be Both respectively. The winner will be announced on June 3rd, and you can see a complete list of the finalists here.

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bold books logoBold Strokes Books have seen in the new year by giving their website a complete overhaul, and they’re rewarding punters with 10% off their current and backlist releases all through January. The website is far easier to navigate, looks rather pretty, and now comes with the facility to pre-order e-books. There are loads of UK authors publishing with BSB, so now might be a great opportunity to take a peek and catch up on those you might have missed.

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the-shewstoneI’ll stick with BSB for the moment, because Jane Fletcher is an author of theirs we’ve not heard from for a long while. If you’re a fan of Jane’s fantasy/romance novels, you’ll be delighted to hear that June 2016 will see the release of The Shewstone, the blurb for which reads like this:

In the port city of Fortaine, two young girls acquire new families.

Four-year-old Eawynn, the unwanted illegitimate daughter of an ambitious noble, is dumped in the temple. When she is old enough, she will be initiated into its sisterhood of priestesses. Meanwhile Matt, the street urchin, earns a crime lord’s admiration, so much so he adopts her as his daughter and heir to his underworld clan.

Nearly two decades later, their paths cross when Eawynn is appointed custodian of the Shewstone, the mystical orb of prophecy. Unfortunately for her, Matt is on a mission to steal it.

Clicking the link up there will take you to the pre-order page and allow you to jump to Jane’s BSB profile and all of her back catalogue.

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For those who enjoy resting their eyes and reading with their ears, Jane Retzig has released an audio version of her lesbian mystery/romance, The Photograph

the photographEverybody’s worried about Becky. She’s too rich, too young, and much too cute for her own good. And she’s driving her friends and family to distraction, playing fast and loose with the bored housewives she meets through Girl Power, the offshoot of Marsten Builders, which she co-runs with her best friend, Frankie. When she hears Niamh busking in the center of town, Becky is stunned by the intensity of her attraction to the itinerant young musician. The feeling is mutual. For Niamh, Becky has a familiar feel that reminds her of the home and family she has lost, and she quickly finds herself looking for ways to meet this intriguing young woman again.

Both women are deeply wary of any kind of new relationship. Their early experiences have left them wounded and vulnerable. But for some reason, they can’t help but trust each other. But even as the pair are taking their first shaky steps toward love, they begin to realize that their apparent chance meeting is already part of a much bigger drama unfolding. Events of the past are starting to catch up with them, and they are about to be faced with challenges and decisions that will change their lives forever….

The audio book is narrated by Danielle O’Farrell and available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes, but Jane is marking the launch by giving away free Audible copies to you lucky UK LesFic readers. If you are interested, please contact Jane at: janeretzig @ gmail . com  Be sure to take the spaces out of the address before you use it.

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clare lydonClare Lydon has wrapped up 2015 with a Ten Things I Learned… blog post, in which she discusses the joys of discovering Scrivener…

If you don’t know what it is, it’s a writing program that enables you to jump around your manuscript at will, keeps notes and most importantly, turn your novels into ebooks at the click of a button. Scrivener has made my life so much better. Apart from the morning it ate This London Love the day before I was due to release. That wasn’t pretty.

…And how rubbish she is at choosing titles:

Being a former magazine editor, titles should come easy to me, but they don’t. Time to start eating dictionaries for breakfast and pun books for lunch.

See the above link to have a toot at the other eight highlights!

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carved_final (1)Always busy on the blogging front, it seems that Jen Silver has been ramping up the novel writing as well, with new releases due in February and March. February will see the publication of Carved in Stone – the conclusion to the Starling Hill trilogy, and the re-release of all the books in that series, with a makeover cover for the central book in the trilogy. Meanwhile a standalone novel, The Circle Dance, is due out in March:

Another book, due out in March, is a completely new story with different characters and is called The Circle Dance. No archaeology in this one, but there is a nod or two to the surfeit of stone circles in the UK. You don’t have to go far to find one here. Not all as magnificent as Stonehenge, but compelling evidence of an ancient culture’s communication network.

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catherine hallA few events for your calendar now:

Val McDermid will be headlining at the York Literature Festival in March (if the city has dried out by then!). Poet Carol Ann Duffy is also on the guest list.  Find a full programme of events, ticket booking and the usual gubbins at the festival’s main site.

Catherine Hall has three events to discuss her most recent novel, The Repercussions, planned for spring. Find a listing of them here.

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And that about wraps things up. Brr, speaking of wrapping, it’s cold out there! Get plenty of layers on and don’t be slipping on any icy puddles. In fact, best just to stay inside and read a good book.

News Roundup: New books from Bold Strokes, L.T. Smith, & Pauline George. Clare Lydon’s Top 10 of 2014, Jade Winters on Saucy stuff, Events, Interviews & More!

12 Jan

Happy New Year! Yes, we’re back, refreshed and raring to go now that the festive season is over and done with and the Cadbury’s Creme Eggs are already in the bloody shops. So stick your feet up, pop a Mini Egg or two, and settle in for the news…

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As befits the start of a year, we have loads of news on forthcoming novels. First up,  a trio of books pending from Bold Strokes Book‘s UK contingent.

a royal romanceLesley Davis recently announced that she has signed the contract for her next book, Starstruck. The author’s eleventh novel (if I’ve counted them correctly) is due for release in 2016.

With her début A Royal Romance due out in May, Jenny Frame isn’t resting on her laurels either. She posted this message over the Christmas period: I’m delighted to announce that I have just signed a contract with Bold Strokes Books for my second book, Heart of the Pack, coming in 2016. It features the Werewolves of Wolfgang County. If that has you intrigued, you can read more about said werewolves right here on Jenny’s blog.

Finally for this BSB hat trick, a tiny teaser from Rebecca S. BuckI just signed a contract for a new novel with BSB! This one is set in the 1920s…

For a sneak peek at the first half of BSB’s 2015 LesFic schedule, head to their newly updated Forthcoming page, which lists releases right through to August 2015. You’ll be able to find more information on new books from Andrea Bramhall, Lesley Davis, Gill McKnight, and me, Cari Hunter.

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199StepstoLoveThe second novel from Pauline George (whose début, Jess, was featured on the blog in February) has been released by Regal Crest. Set in Whitby, 199 Steps to Love has a blurb that reads like this:

At 61, Lucy finds herself divorced and decides to go on holiday to Whitby. There she meets the gallery owner, a woman named Jamie, who she is drawn to in ways she can’t yet understand. Jamie is also drawn to Lucy, despite the advice of her best friend against lusting after a straight woman. But just as they come together, Lucy leaves without explanation, not only putting a physical distance between them, but an emotional one as well. Can they overcome the distances and find each other? Or is it more than just the miles that’s keeping them apart?

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beginningsAlso due out this month is an Ylva reissue of L.T. Smith‘s Beginnings (first published in 2007).

1974. The Osmonds, space hoppers and climbing trees, all grounded in the ultimate belief that life was perfect. Childhood filled with tomorrows and a friendship built to endure anything. Or was it? Lou Turner loves Ashley Richards. Always has and always will. This is Lou’s story…a story spanning thirty years…from the innocence of youth to the bitterness of adulthood…

You can read the full blurb over on our New Releases page, and if that has you minded to read more of L.T.’s work, she posted a short Christmas story over the break. Part One can be found here, and the remaining three parts are linked from her main blog.

Meanwhile, Astrid Ohletz – Ylva’s Publisher in Chief – posted this new year message on their website:

We at Ylva Publishing are really happy to have been able to give some spotlight to amazing authors from other publishing houses and self-publishers in 2014.

You’ll find interviews with Bev Prescott, Barbara Winkes, Carrie Carr, Rebecca Swartz, D Jordan ylvaRedhawk, Liz Bugg, Sarah Ettritch, Andrea Bramhall and Cari Hunter on our blog. We also had a lot of authors from other publishing houses and self-publishers participating in the anthologies we published last year. This list is too long to list here.
We would like to continue this tradition in 2015 as we are lovers of lesbian fiction. So, if you are or know an author who would like to be interviewed by us and get a spotlight on our blog… just contact as at info@ylva-publishing.com and we see if we can fit you in. We have several spots to offer. And watch out for our submission calls in 2015.

Hit the links to read the Brit-themed interviews 🙂

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Also getting into the spirit of new year message is BSB editor, Vic Oldham, who is largely responsible for organising the annual BSB UK Author Fest held in Nottingham each year. It’s never too early to make a note in your diary, and this year’s event will run from June 5-7th, about which Vic had this to say:

We’ll be posting more details as they come along, but this is sure to be the most amazing year yet. We’ve got several new authors joining us, lots of ‘old’ favorites (not that I’m calling anyone old, clearly), and a whole host of new panels and even some writing workshops for those of you aspiring to join the ranks of the published.bold strokes notts

For the full blog and more details, head here.

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Being a thoughtful sort, Clare Lydon decided to close out 2014 with a review of the year on her blog. 2014: Ten Things I Learned details the ups and downs of everything from make-up application, to footy, to reading in public.

Publishing Books Is A Rollercoaster Ride

Writing a book and readying it for self-publication is a lot of hard work – the cover, editing, proofing, formatting & marketing. 2014 was a crash-course in that, and with a little help from my amazing friends as well as huge support from the local, national & international writing and reading communities, I managed it. I look forward to doing it again this year with at least one more book, maybe two.

clare lydon

Having found her calling behind a microphone, Clare is also reading from her second novel, The Long Weekend, at the Polari Literary Salon, February 23rd at the Royal Festival Hall. Tickets are available here, and more details can be found on our Events page.

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HILD_jacket_closerA snippet of news now from Nicola Griffith about Hild II and III:

Yes, after Hild II there will be Hild III. But there will only be three. The working title of Hild II is Menewood. I have no anticipated completion date. I’ve been travelling way too much to properly get my head back in the writing, as opposed to publicity, game.

Click here for the full post, and that link will allow you to root around for all the updates posted by Nicola during our festive hiatus.

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598px-Sarah_WatersOver at The Hairpin website is an interview with Sarah Waters that we missed while we were busy stuffing our faces with chocolate coins and Christmas pud. Queering the Canon is a fascinating interview that focuses upon “the importance of queer archives, secret lesbian communities of bygone eras, and the queering of Jane Austen classics”.

And for this novel, I sort of knew enough about lesbian history and this period to be confident that I could talk about lesbian communities…I think the crucial thing about this period was, there was the lesbian experience and information about homosexuality, but it very much depended on which circles you moved in. So if you were kind of arty or perhaps well-off, I think you’d have access to the new kinds of knowledge and information that were available. We have much less information, and we always do, about the working-class lesbian life in this period.

The full interview is well worth a read and can be found at the above link.

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neighbourJade Winters might be a prolific writer of LesFic, but – until recently – she’d never popped her erotica-writing cherry. All that changed with the publication of Neighbour From Heaven, a short piece of erotica co-written with Alexis Bailey and released in early December. Jade has been talking about her “first time” writing saucy stuff, in a guest blog that you can read here:

After reading Alexis’s stories I realised how liberating it was to let the characters be free and upfront about their wants and desires. For me, writing erotica, is less about the character’s heart fluttering when they encounter the woman of their dreams. It’s about their natural sexual desires being explored and not being ashamed to admit it.

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Kerry-Hudson-008For any prospective novelists out there, author Kerry Hudson is running writing workshops at City Lights, a project she founded to provide “affordable, high-quality, part-time creative writing courses that develop and reignite passion for the written word”. If that sounds like your idea of fun and you live in or near London, then head to this link for more details, booking information and prices.

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And I think that just about covers it. I hope everyone had a smashing Christmas and saw in 2015 with style (or went to bed at 10.30 p.m., which, y’know, is okay too!) Looking forward to bringing you the best and the brightest in UK LesFic for the coming year 🙂

What Exactly is Christmas? Guest Blog From Amy Dunne

1 Dec

It’s the first day of Advent, so deck the halls and all that! To help us celebrate this most festive of festivals, we have a guest blog from Amy Dunne, whose Christmas-themed novel Season’s Meetings is out this very month. Falalalalalalalalah.

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What exactly is Christmas?

Amy DunneIt’s that time of year again. The weather outside is cold and the nights grow dark so quickly. The branches on the trees are bare and the glittery frost dusts everything in its path. Plenty of cosy nights snuggled inside with raging fires to toast our toes. The yearly prediction that this will be the UK’s worst winter since the beginning of time. It’s December. In just a few weeks, people will celebrate Christmas Day. Children will be bordering on hysteria, parents will be trying to survive the manic shopping expeditions, we’ll all buy far too much food and drink, and the festivities will begin.

I’m a huge fan of Christmas. I always have been. I always will be. I love the festivities. I can’t wait to see the expressions on my family and friend’s faces when they open the gifts I’ve chosen, and Lou’s taken time to painstakingly wrap to perfection. Lou and I are festive fanatics. From October, we count down until December 1st and then decorate our home, our fur-babies, and ourselves with Christmas paraphernalia.
season's meetings
I’m extra excited this year because my second novel, Season’s Meetings, is being released in December by Bold Strokes Books. It’s a fun, festive romance set in the Highlands of Scotland. I came up with the story and characters last October and started writing the story near the end of November. This time last year I had written only three chapters. Now I’m staring at the beautiful cover and skimming with delight through the pages of the actual book. It feels somewhat surreal—but not quite as surreal as it felt doing the edits and reading about snow and blizzards in the middle of August. The cover and story star our very own little cairn terrier, Kimmy. She was actually only added to the story last December. Inspiration struck after she (and her feline brother and sister) systematically destroyed the Christmas tree that Lou and I had slaved over for hours. She used a forty-minute window of unsupervised opportunity to break through the doggy-proof gate that we’d put in place—we still don’t know how she did it. After we got over the initial frustration, we could (eventually) laugh about it, and I realised Kimmy and her mischievousness should be added into the story.

As the time for Christmas music, decorating, shopping, and general festivity is fast approaching, I decided it was time to sit our fur-babies down and have the talk. I was adamant that I would succeed in explaining to them what Christmas is, in the vague hope they may refrain from sabotaging it and our tree this year. I must admit, at the start of this process I was enthusiastic, but by the end I’d lost all hope. I know they have smaller brains and all, but jeez! I personally think they had no intention of participating. They were only there for the treats that I’d bribed them with. Anyway, here’s the transcript:

Amy: “Thank you so much for agreeing to do this. I really think you’ll appreciate everything so much more once you’ve learned what Christmas is.”
Alice: “Is it food?”
Harley: “Let’s get one thing straight. I’m only here for the treats, woman. Hand them over, or me and my fluffy behind are out of here.”
Kimmy: “This is completely pointless, Mummy Amy. Christmas is about me.”

2 minutes later…

Kimmy 2


Amy: “There you go. You’ve all had your treats. Now it’s time to listen. Okay. So, I’m not actually sure how to start. Perhaps I didn’t think this through enough. Well, anyway, let’s begin with something simple. You know how every year we bring a tree into the house and decorate it with shiny baubles, decorations, and tinsel—”
Alice: “What’s a year? Is it food?”
Harley: “It doesn’t happen every year.”
Amy: “Alice, you can’t eat a year. It’s time. And it does happen every year, Harley. Christmas happens every December.”
Harley: “How many Christmases have I had to put up with?”
Amy: “We’re kind of moving off point here, guys. Harley, you’ve had six Christmases because you’re six years old.”
Kimmy: “Have I had six Christmases?”
Amy: “No, Kimmy. You’ve had two. This will be your third.”
Kimmy: “You had Christmases without me? How could you do that? I feel so unloved.”
Harley: “I’m actually forty-two years old in cat years. So if they happen every year, I’d have had forty-two of them.”
Alice: …
Kimmy: [blatantly sulking]…
Amy: “Let’s forget about the whole time thing. Kimmy, those Christmases happened before you were born.”
Kimmy: “So it’s my fault now? I don’t believe it. Not only do you break my little heart, you’re actually blaming me.”
Alice: “How do you know I can’t eat time?”
Amy: “I’m not blaming you, Kimmy. And Alice you can’t eat time because it’s not a physical thing.”
Alice: “Can I try?”
Amy: “No.”
Harley: “So you were referring to human years?”
Amy: “Yes.”
Harley: “Well, that’s a bit rude.”
Amy: “Why is it rude?”
Harley: “Because the three of us don’t use human years. We use cat years, or in her case [glares at Kimmy] dog years. You should know your audience and do proper research.”
Kimmy: “What do you mean by dog years?”
Alice: “Can I eat audience? It sounds tasty.”
Amy: “I need a drink.”

The Tree Before...

The Tree Before…

5 minutes and one alcoholic beverage later…

Amy: “This really isn’t going how I envisioned it. Forget about years, cat, dog, or otherwise. Let’s move on. Can any of you remember the tree we have? It’s the one you destroyed last year. It’s big and green.”
Kimmy: “What’s green?”
Amy: “Sorry, Kimmy. I forgot you’re colour blind. Don’t worry about it.”
Kimmy: “Don’t worry? How can you say that? What do you mean I’m blind? When were you going to tell me? Everything’s getting dark.”
Amy: “No, it’s not.”
Kimmy: “It is! It’s so dark. Where am I?”
Harley: “I remember the tree.”
Alice: “If I’ve eaten some of it, maybe I remember. I think it tasted funny.”
Harley: “It’s not even a real tree.”
Kimmy: “I can’t see! Where have you gone? What will my life become? I’ll never get to see my pretty face again.”
Amy: “Kimmy, open your eyes and you’ll see just fine. Yes, the plastic tree we had in the house.”
Kimmy: “My special play tree? Yes, I remember it. It’s my favourite toy but you took it away from me.”
Amy: “It’s not just yours, Kimmy. It belongs to all of us. We only have it up in December—”
Alice: “Can I eat December?”
Kimmy: “Nope. It’s definitely mine. I marked it.”
Amy: “What do you mean marked it?”
Kimmy: “Do you really need me to explain?”
Amy: “You didn’t—”
Kimmy: “I did my business. That’s why it’s mine. I mark everything that’s mine. Don’t bother looking at me like that, I can’t see you because I’m blind.”
Amy: “For all that’s good in the world, please, please, give me strength.”

5 minutes later…


The Tree After…

Amy: “Okay, so we’ve established that the tree isn’t food. Right, Alice?”
Alice: “…”
Amy: “It isn’t a plaything or a toilet either. It’s just supposed to look nice. That’s why we put ornaments on it.”
Harley: “Why?”
Amy: “Why what?”
Harley: “Why do you bring a not-real tree into the house when there are lots of real trees that look better outside? And why do you put cat toys on it and then get annoyed when we play with them?”
Amy: “They’re not cat toys. They’re ornaments. It’s tradition—”
Alice: “Can I eat tra—”
Amy: “No, Alice. Kimmy, are you still sulking?”
Kimmy: “First you admit to having Christmases without me, then you blame me for it, then you tell me I’m blind, and now you say my tree isn’t mine.”
Amy: “I’ll take that as a yes then. Let’s move on from the tree. Just, please, promise not to touch, eat, play, or mark it this year. Okay?”
Harley: “What’s it worth?”
Alice: “Just a little nibble?”
Kimmy: “It’s my tree. I can do what I want with it.”

4 minutes and another alcoholic beverage later…



Amy: “So, Santa Claus brings all of the good boys and girls presents while everyone is asleep. It’s magical. He watches over every child and has a list of whether they’re good or bad. And then on Christmas morning they get to open their presents.”
Harley: “Define good?”
Alice: “He has claws? Is he related to us?”
Amy: “No, that’s his name. He’s human—I think.”
Harley: “Santa sounds like a creepy guy.”
Amy: “He’s not creepy. He’s a nice guy.”
Harley: “If it makes you sleep better at night, you tell yourself that.”
Kimmy: “So, I get presents off Santa for being a good girl?”
Amy: “Well, no. You’re a dog.”
Kimmy: “Why do you all keep saying that? I’m not a dog. And you always tell me I’m a good girl.”
Amy: “Yes, but that’s just a phrase. You’re a dog.”
Kimmy: “I’m not a dog.”
Amy: “Kimmy, we’ve been through this way too many times. You’re a dog.”
Kimmy: “So, I’m not a good girl then? What about a star? You said I was going to be a famous star because of agreeing to be in your book.”
Amy: “It’s not meant to be taken literally.”
Kimmy: “I’m living in a den of lies.”
Harley: “So we don’t get presents from this Santa guy?”
Amy: “No. But mummy Lou and I always get you presents.”
Harley: “Maybe Santa would choose better presents.”
Amy: “Harley, you’ve got to be grateful for all of your presents. It’s the thought that counts.”
Harley: “Hypocrite!”
Amy: “What do you—”
Harley: “You’ve never been grateful for the presents we’ve given you. Every single mouse, bird, and frog we’ve presented for you, you’ve either ungratefully thrown away or let loose again. The screaming, crying, and slamming of the door doesn’t seem very grateful to me. Where’s the thought then? Huh?”
Amy: “I appreciate what you’re saying. In the past I’ve handled your presents badly. I’m sorry. But Christmas isn’t about the mindless murder of innocent animals. Okay?”
Harley: “Oh really? What about all of the turkeys?”
Amy: “…”

6 minutes later…



Amy: “So, then baby Jesus was born in a stable. A little while later the star led the three wise men to visit him. That’s where Christmas comes from. Simple, eh?”
Kimmy: “Mentioning a star at this point is just cruel.”
Harley: “You seriously believe this?”
Amy: “Well, some people do and some don’t. Historically there’s proof it happened, but the religious side of it is always full of contention.”
Harley: “Humans are so weird.”
Alice: “I’m hungry.”
Kimmy: “I’m going to go live at grandma’s house. She appreciates that I’m a good girl and a star.”

2 minutes later…

Amy: “And then we wear our jumpers, and you wear your cute festive outfits.”
Kimmy: “I’m too upset to think about outfits right now.”
Amy: “But, Kimmy, you look so beautiful in them.”
Kimmy: “I know I do. But with being blind and not a star, I can’t make any promises.”
Amy: “Harley and Alice? You guys always wear them.”
Harley: “If you ever try to put me in one of those monstrosities again, I will cut you. You’ve been warned.”
Alice: “I’m with him on this one. They taste awful.”
Amy: “Sod it! I give up.”

So, that’s it. I accepted defeat. At least with children there’s the subtle threat of Santa’s naughty list to help with coercion. It turns out cats and our dogs don’t want to grasp what Christmas is. If it’s not entirely about them, or can’t be eaten, or played with, they’re just not bothered.

I hope you all have a safe winter, filled with love, laughter, and good health. And if you do celebrate Christmas, have a fabulous time.

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Cheers, Amy!

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Amy was raised in Derbyshire, England. She attended Keele University and graduated in 2007 with a BSc in Philosophy and Psychology. After graduating she worked for a while with vulnerable young people. She is currently concentrating on her writing. She is married to her beautiful wife, Lou. They share a love of Dolly Parton, have two gorgeous cats, and a very mischievous little dog.

Contact Info:

Twitter: @giftofthegaborg

Website/Blog: authoramydunne.wordpress.com

Facebook: facebook.com/amy.dunne.165

E-mail: authoramydunne @ hotmail.com

Building Worlds: A Conversation between Jane Fletcher and Nora Olsen

17 May

A couple of months ago we were delighted to be asked whether we would like to host part of a conversation blog hop feature between two Bold Strokes authors. As Jane Fletcher is one of the leading lights in UK lesbian fantasy writing and Nora Olsen is a brand new BSB author, we jumped at the chance to have them chatting on the site.

Jane Fletcher and Nora Olsen began their conversation at the Bold Strokes Books Author’s Blog on May 14  and will wrap it up on Tuesday May 21 on Women and Words. Take a look!

nora picNora Olsen:

I’m curious about what it’s like to have published a whole lot of books. I’m still a newbie, and every time anything happens I’m overwhelmed with wonder or maybe confusion. When you’ve published ten or more books, is it still really exciting to see your new book cover for the first time? Or is it just business as usual?

fletcherJane Fletcher:

I’m not a natural writer. I didn’t keep diaries or write little stories when I was a kid. I wrote my first book mainly to see if I could finish a whole novel, but also partly just to play around with the word processor on my first home PC. My only intended audience was my partner. I certainly had no plans to submit it to a publisher, so there was no pressure on me at all. Nobody else in the world was waiting for it.

Getting published was a year long roundabout of wonderful moments. Sometimes, out of the blue I’d be surprised by the thought “I’m going to have a book published” and I’d have to stop myself from literally jumping up and down with excitement. The peak though, was holding a proper copy of my book in my hands for the first time.

The surprised excitement element has now faded, but the satisfaction when I send the manuscript back to my editor after completing the last round of edits has not dimmed at all.

If I had to be honest, I’d have to say I enjoy having written more than writing. And nothing says “I’ve written” more than getting the copies and holding them – in fact, to be more accurate, the phrase should be cuddling them.

So what has the publishing process been like for you? What have you found the most unexpected part? And what got you writing to start with?

Nora Olsen:

bsb_swans_klons__94993I used to write a lot as a kid–in fact, when I was visiting my mother the other day I found a story that I had written when I was about seven years old called The Fight For Unicron (I was not a good speller at all.) Also a choose-your-own-adventure detective story where one of the options was disguising yourself as a landlord. I don’t know what I thought landlords were supposed to look like.

As an adult I started out trying to write literary fiction, short stories, for grown-ups, which was a total bust. I finally realized that I was writing about teenagers all the time and I should really be writing FOR teenagers. I hit my sweet spot when I started writing specifically for LGBTQ teens. (And anyone else who wants to read my stuff—I’m not picky. But there’s definitely a target audience in my head that I write to.) So far the publishing process has been great for me. I have been blown away by it. The most unexpected thing happened to me recently, when I went to the Rainbow Book Fair in NYC to help out at the Bold Strokes Books table. My book Swans & Klons was not published yet; it still had about a month before it came out. But there my book was, sitting there all glossy and shiny on the table, for sale. I was so surprised and amazed. And then some people bought it, even.

I definitely identify with enjoying “having written” more than actually writing. I think I mentioned before that I like writing the first draft, but editing it so that it’s good enough for an editor to read is torture. However, being done with writing is the most satisfying!

Jane Fletcher:

bsb_the_temple_at_landfall__81031On the other hand, I like editing. For me, it’s a bit like decorating a room and making it pretty after you’ve done the hard slog of building the house.

I’ve got set in my own editing routine, which came about from my first book. As I said, I didn’t write it with a view to getting published, but after I’d finished, I decided to put it aside for 6 months, then read it through, in the hope of seeing it with fresh eyes. If I thought it was good enough, I’d send it off.

When I eventually did the reading, what I discovered was that my writing had improved enormously during the course of the book. So I had to edit it, to bring it all up to the same standard – except the same thing happened again.

By the time I’d completely rewritten it six times, my writing was no longer getting better. But by now the novel was too long (250,000 words). However after all the time that had gone by, I had an idea for a shorter novel which I dashed off quickly.

I also let this sit on my hard drive, unread for 6 months – just to be sure. This confirmed my writing had stabilised. However, what I had written wasn’t always the same as what I’d thought I’d had.

When I’m writing, I’m much too close to the story. I need the gap of a few months so I can judge what I’ve written and see how far it’s drifted from what I intended. It’s when I edit that I really learn who my characters are. Their voices become much stronger. I also spot the bits that aren’t working – usually because I had an idea so firmly fixed in my head I didn’t notice when it failed to get onto the paper.

The second shorter novel became The Temple at Landfall. My first marathon effort was not a loss. After yet more editing, it was split in half and became the first two books of the Lyremouth series.

Nora Olsen:

That’s very interesting. I’m fascinated by how different every writer’s process is. It sounds like for you the book has to bake a little bit after it is written, and then you look at it again.

Jane Fletcher:

It sounds as if you also had to sit back and evaluate in order to discover who you were writing for. Was there anything more intentionally planned that led you into spec fic? Do you think you’ll stay with it, or do you have plans to explore other genres?

Nora Olsen:

I didn’t really intentionally get into spec fic, except that it’s a genre I’ve always loved, and that’s the kind of idea that tends to occur to me. It’s easier to have a story that’s a little offbeat in spec fic, and I think I can’t help bringing a quirky sensibility to what I write. I would like to explore other genres, but I’m sure I will always want to write spec fic too. I think that LGBTQ spec fic YA is kind of a rare, elusive unicorn—any two of those elements aren’t that hard to find but all three is uncommon. Most LGBTQ YA is set very firmly in our ordinary world. I like the idea that queer teens who enjoy reading dystopian or spec fic novels will be able to see themselves reflected in Swans & Klons.

Jane Fletcher:

I can trace the steps that brought me to the genre.bsb_wolfsbane_winter__16848

As a young girl in the 1960s, suitable books had titles like The friendly puppy’s birthday party. Edge of the seat excitement got no more intense than wondering if the sky really would fall on Chicken Little’s head.

Then one day, when I must have been no more than 7, I was allowed to pick my own book from the school library. I got a children’s version (it had big pictures) of the Greek legend of Perseus and Medusa. I can still remember being blown out of my little white cotton socks by a story of a woman with snakes for hair, and a flying hero who cut her head off.

The friendly puppy didn’t get a look in thereafter. I absorbed every scrap of mythology I could find. Which got me, via Arthurian legend, to fantasy and science fiction.

bold books logoBios:

Jane Fletcher is a GCLS award-winning writer and has also been short-listed for the Gaylactic Spectrum and Lambda Literary awards. She is author of two ongoing sets of fantasy/romance novels: the Celaeno series and the Lyremouth Chronicles. As a child, her resolute ambition was to become an archaeologist when she grew up, so it was something of a surprise when she became a software engineer instead. Born in Greenwich, London, in 1956, she now lives in southwest England where she keeps herself busy writing both computer software and fiction, although generally not at the same time.

You can find Jane here on the Bold Strokes Books website, her own website, and on Facebook.

Nora Olsen was born in 1975 and raised in New York City. Although her mother, a prize-winning author, warned her not to become a writer, Nora didn’t listen. Swans & Klons is her second YA novel. Her short fiction has appeared in Collective Fallout and the anthology Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction. Nora lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her girlfriend, writer Áine Ní Cheallaigh, and their two adorable cats.

You can find Nora here on the Bold Strokes Books website, her own website, and her Facebook page.

News Round Up: New books from loads of Brit authors, The Cocktail Hour Needs You, and Gaze Magazine hits the Internet

25 Apr

We hung on to the news this week so we could post a bit of a bumper update! And bumper it certainly is! Deep breath, here we go…

Let’s kick off with what we’re all about on this site, which is new books by UK authors:

bold books logoBold Strokes Books updated their forthcoming schedule last week, providing details on all their new releases up to and including February, 2014, and there are loads of UK authors listed.  In June, Crin Claxton’s vampire thriller Scarlet Thirst will be getting an e-book rerelease, while July sees brand new works from I.Beacham and Ke Payne. Andrea Bramhall has Clean Slate out in September and the next instalment of Lesley Davis’ Wings Paranormal series Pale Wings Protecting is released in October. Rounding out 2013 and just in time for Christmas will be Secret Lies, the début from YA novelist Amy Dunne. The synopses and covers for all those novels can be found by clicking the above link.

See Right Through Me- Draft2LT Smith has a new novel pending with her new publisher Ylva. See Right Through Me is slated for an autumn release  (well, the site says Fall, so I’m translating that into Brit!) and the blurb goes a little like this:

Trust, respect, and love. Three little words—that’s all. But these words are powerful, and if we ignore any one of them, then three other little words take their place: jealousy, insecurity, and heartbreak.
Schoolteacher Gemma Hughes is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Disorganised and clumsy, she soon finds herself in the capable hands of the beautiful Dr Maria Moran. Everything goes wonderfully until Gemma starts doubting Maria’s intentions and begins listening to the wrong people.
But has Maria something to hide, or is it a case of swapping trust for insecurity, respect for jealousy and finishing with a world of heartbreak and deceit? Can Gemma stop her actions before it’s too late? Or will she ruin the best thing to happen in her life?
Given her track record, anything is possible …

Over on Val McDermid’s blog is the revelation that she is currently working on a new Tony and Carol thriller.

Val says: ‘I’m working on the new Tony & Carol book, Cross and Burn — the title comes from the saying, ‘the problem with bridges is knowing which ones to cross and which ones to burn.’ A killer is on the loose, a killer who threatens both Tony and Carol but in very different ways.’

Val is also busy with preliminaries on her reworking of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Never let it be said that this is an author who doesn’t like a challenge.

perf6.000x9.000.inddLast but not least of our roundup of “new release” news this week is BSB’s UK editorial arm Victoria Oldham (an honorary Brit!) who has a short story (Love’s Horizon) published this month in the anthology Blood and Lipstick

In Love’s Horizon, yacht captain Jayne moonlights as a paranormal researcher, so she isn’t surprised when her newest client, Eleni, turns out to be a vampire. What does surprise her is that after making Eleni promise that she was permanently off the menu, she becomes increasingly frustrated when Eleni keeps it.

For more information on the anthology and the stories within, check out this link.

Moving on from reading to listening now, and the lovely ladies at The Cocktail Hour podcast have been in touch with UK LesFic to open up an invitation to any UK authors who might be interested in featuring on short recordings. Cheri – who regularly co-hosts the show – wrote to say:

Any authors looking for an audience for a short reading or would like to chat for a bit about their work and/or future projects canheader1 contact the folks over at Cocktail Hour and set something up. info@cocktailhour.us

The Cocktail Hour podcasts have  a large and enthusiastic fanbase and their focus is mainly on LesFic, whether that be interviewing authors, chatting about books or, on occasion, just getting a little bit tipsy. If you’ve never visited their archives before, you could probably get lost in them for a good few days! At the moment, they are holding a Best of 2012 poll where listeners can vote for their favourite show of the year. There are some huge LesFic names in the running, so go catch up on those you might have missed, and pick your winners!

GazeCoverA new gay culture review magazine, Gaze, has just hit the Internet. In a recent article for The Guardian, co-creator Paul Burston explained the thinking behind the publication which lists VG Lee as one of its contributors: “We didn’t want to write about gay lifestyle or pander to straight soap hunks who love their gay fans. We wanted to tackle issues one doesn’t generally read about in the lesbian and gay press.” Sounds like it might be well worth a peek. The magazine can be purchased here.

To round out on a lighter note, the best search term of the week resulting in a hit to this site simply has to go to: lesbian hunting hunting lesbian girls in shopping center

Whoever the hell was trolling for that, I hope you eventually got lucky. PS – you misspelled centre.

Book feature: Dark Wings Descending by Lesley Davis

3 Apr

DarkWingsDescendingLesley Davis was recently short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award. Here, she very generously answers some questions for UKLesfic on her award-nominated book Dark Wings Descending.

For those who haven’t read the book, here’s the blurb:

Goodness may appear in many forms; evil need only take one.

The Chicago PD Deviant Data Unit specializes in the dark and cruel aspects of criminal behavior. When a serial killer who leaves his victims oddly posed starts terrorizing the city, Detective Rafe Douglas leads the team tasked to find this sadistic killer. Still recovering from severe injuries sustained in the line of duty, Rafe’s tenuous hold on what is real is further tested by someone who wants in on the case and won’t take no for an answer.

Private Investigator Ashley Scott experiences the world through unveiled eyes. She alone can see that Hell’s inhabitants are breaking free from their confines and are bringing their evil to Earth. She believes the killer isn’t human and knows she has to convince Rafe there are more things happening in the Windy City than anyone could possibly realize. Only together can they solve the secrets revealed in the killer’s brutal slayings.

Congratulations on being a Lambda finalist. Before telling us about the book, would you like to tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you. I’m chuffed to pieces to have been nominated in the Best Lesbian Romance category with Dark Wings Descending. It’s a fantastic honour.

I’m from the West Midlands of England, born and bred in the Black Country. I’m a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy films, and eat, sleep and breathe gaming. (Yes, just like Trent in Playing Passion’s Game!) I play on all consoles but am a Nintendo diehard through and through. I suffer with M.E. so battle daily with the demons that particular illness carries. And in a former life I was a Mortgage Associate…. before the dark times, before redundancy!

How would you classify Dark Wings Descending?

I’d classify it as Supernatural Romance. With a crime story. And a cat, don’t forget about the cat!

What attracted you to the story and these characters? What’s the core appeal of the book for you?

I’ve written supernatural stories before with Cast A Wide Circle and A Touch of Alchemy (previously published works) but this time I didn’t write of witches and magick. I wanted to go a different route and picked angels and demons. I hope the appeal is firstly the romance between two very strong women, each with their own place in a very crazy world. A world that gets crazier for Detective Rafe Douglas the more she gets exposed to it. But with Ashley Scott by her side she finds her true place. I also wanted to explore how someone would react if faced by things we’re told exist but that we never truly see except with eyes of faith.

Did you enjoy writing from the perspective of one character in particular?

Rafe Douglas was great fun to create. She’s my most sweary character to date, I think! But I figure, if I was surrounded by the badness of human criminality as well as demons from hell, I’d swear a lot too! I wanted her to fight against what she was being shown, after all, who wants the knowledge that hell exists and is bleeding out onto the earth? But when she accepts that she really has no choice any more she gains purpose and a new fight. I also liked she never held back what she thought either, especially if it was a sarcastic reply!

Did you set out to write a series when you began writing the book?

I had the idea for the sequel while I was writing Dark Wings Descending. Blythe Kent, Rafe’s FBI friend, had a much bigger scene originally but it was edited down (which worked out better for me in the long run). I knew that the next story would be Blythe’s and would be about her and a detective investigating child abductions. Dark Wings Descending was written to be followed by Blythe’s tale, hence it being done immediately after. Pale Wings Protecting is due for release in October 2013 and I’ve got an idea for what comes after that one too. But I have some other stories to do before then…unless those characters start talking to me louder than the others!

The book has a great cover.

Sheri always does fantastic artwork for Bold Strokes. I love all the covers she has done for my books and this one was particularly eye-catching. I just wanted a cover alluding to wings and I got the most fantastic descending creature possible. The cover for Pale Wings Protecting is equally as striking and the books totally complement each other.

Would you like to tell us a bit about your other work?

I have three books published with Bold Strokes so far. Truth Behind The Mask tells the story of a city watched over by masked Sentinels. It’s my version of a superhero story (I love my superheroes!) but these don’t have special powers, just some very fancy gadgets and a vigilante spirit. Pagan and Erith are my romantic leads in that story. Playing Passion’s Game features characters very close to my gaming heart! Trent is a passionate gamer who finds romance with the beautiful Juliet. I’ve been very pleased by how many people have told me they enjoyed the story so much they went out and brought a console because they wanted to play too! I feel my job is done there! Does my gaming heart proud! I’m working on a spin off to those characters at the moment. Dark Wings Descending is my third book and its spin off, as mentioned above, is out in October. I also have five other works (that were published elsewhere) that are now in the hands of BSB and I’ll be re-working those as soon as I finish writing what I’m working on now and can put my games controller down! I also have numerous short stories in some of BSB’s anthologies. Check out the BSB website or my own http://www.lesleydavisauthor.co.uk for further details of them all.

Bold Strokes Books Palm Springs LGBT Festival – Sun, Shorts & Chicken Fried Steak

11 Mar

Today’s guest blog comes from our own Cari Hunter, who’s just been on a book-related jolly to California (the lucky devil!)

~ ~ ~

It started out months ago as a flippant remark made to my partner: “If I get another book signed up, we’ll go to Palm Springs.” I was still busy writing story number two at the time, but the thought of heading out to the annual Bold Strokes Books Festival held in sunny California during deepest, darkest February sounded awfully attractive. When I signed the contract for Desolation Point and received a publication date of April 2013, my lovely missus reminded me of my earlier promise and then got busy Googling accommodation, flights, and the nearby national parks. Despite a fear of flying that I can only describe as “paralysing”, it seemed we were going to America…

The Joshua Tree national park sits just north of Palm Springs

Joshua Tree National Park, just north of Palm Springs

The BSB LGBT Palm Springs Book Festival takes place over a four-day weekend, with events – author panels, readings, signings, Q&As, and general daftness – held at the Casitas Laquita hotel and the Palm Springs public library. We arrived in California a few days early, determined to explore some of the desert hiking trails and avoid scaring the locals by alleviating a little of our English winter pallor. By the time the festival rolled around, I had almost mastered driving on the right (so, technically the wrong!) side of the road, suntan and cactus scratches had somewhat tempered the lily whiteness of my limbs, and we had learned that asking for a “small” portion still provided more food than we could hope to eat. The weather was hot and forecast to get hotter, Desolation Point had been rushed to the printers so it would be available early, and our hotel came with a cat. The portents were definitely good.

Cari Hunter reads from her novel

Cari Hunter reads from her novel Desolation Point

Thursday’s inaugural panel was appropriately entitled The Hook: First Scenes. I read a slightly edited version of Desolation Point’s opening scene, tried not to blow unintentional raspberries into the microphone, and then took part in a discussion that covered starting and ending a novel, changes that were made during the editing process, and tricks to grab the reader’s attention right from the outset. The ensuing Lesbian Desire panel kick-started a joke about hand washing that would run for the duration of the festival, while the Coffee Break featured UK author Jane Fletcher in a Truth or Dare battle with Georgia lovely, D. Jackson Leigh. I swooned a little over shiny new copies of my book (it might just have been the heat!) and tried not to blush when people asked me for autographs. That night we dined out with an online friend, finally, finally unravelling the mystery that is “Chicken Fried Steak”.

With the mercury continuing to rise, Friday got underway with a chat about Other Worlds, before I read for a panel discussing the Art of Romance. I had managed to find a short but sweet extract that included the phrase “bloody Nora”, didn’t contain any maiming or mayhem, and didn’t give too much away. Later, Carsen Taite nabbed me to record a very giggly video blog (see below!) where she wilfully declined to understand a word I was saying, and I deafened her with my football terrace whistle. Highlight of the day was a Coffee Break chat where Justine Saracen and Ashley Bartlett played off each other quite beautifully, took the piss out of their generational differences, and generally made us all laugh.


The British contingent! Cari Hunter & Jane Fletcher

Saturday morning saw my partner and me playing hooky at the top of the Palm Springs aerial tramway, where we trusted the helpful directions of a Ranger and promptly got lost in a foot of snow. We made it down in time for the BSB skit, which featured Nell Stark sporting a pink tutu and an atrocious British accent, Justine Saracen in a scuba mask, and Trinity Tam dressed as a cat. Suffice to say, you probably needed to be there! The closing panel on Sunday broke the mould somewhat. Deciding to forgo the traditional format, participants offered a synopsis for an upcoming work and then fielded suggestions from fellow authors on how that work could be improved. I’m not sure why Ms Saracen wasn’t keen on inserting musical numbers and a bliss montage into her book about a British nurse working in occupied Belgium during WWII, but I didn’t see her taking many notes.


Final casting call on the last day of the festival

Afterwards, there was just time for hugs, kisses, and group photos before people began to go their separate ways. We staggered back to our hotel to coo at Miss Kitty. We were knackered, happy, and already chatting about our next trip “over the pond.” Well, we came home with a few spare dollars; it’d be rude not to go back and spend them…

Click to watch the aforementioned Vlog with me and Carsen Taite!