Monthly Archives: June 2014

Blogspot – 6 questions for Syd Parker

5128024Syd Parker is the best-selling author of Remember Me, Someone Like You, and the thriller series, The Gray Foxx Files. Originally from California, she now resides in Indiana with her partner of eight years. She loves golfing, biking and spoiling her ten nieces and nephews. She loves to travel and anywhere on the water feels like home. She spends her days toiling away at her day job until she figures out a way to drop the last fifteen strokes to make it on the LPGA tour, although she’s totally mastered Tiger Woods Golf on the Wii.

Most days when she’s not writing, you will find her on the trails or riding her road bike and praying she doesn’t end up in another ditch.

She loves to read a good love story and thoroughly enjoys writing them as well. “It isn’t just about writing a story, it’s about creating a world and having the reader climb into it, experiencing it in first person. That’s my goal…that’s why I write.”

Her Remember Me is a Goldie finalist in the Dramatic/General Fiction category. I asked her to respond to the 6 questions you posed on Facebook – and here are her replies.

First off, I would like to say a big thank you to VL for asking me to participate. I am in great company with the other authors here. I always hoped I would make the short list, but having it actually happen is an indescribable feeling, and I can’t imagine a better compilation of women to be a part of.”

1) Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?
theylovedtolaughI think the answer changes for me as I go through different phases in my life. As a 2nd grader, I found the book They Loved to Laugh by Kathryn Worth. I fell in love with the story. I borrowed it every week from the library. It was the first time I gave any thought to being a writer. As I got older, I opted for novels by Jane Austen or Lloyd Douglas. Epic romances full of emotions that reached into my heart and held me captive. To this day, Magnificent Obsession by Douglas is one of my all-time favorites. I finally discovered lesfic in my twenties and I was hooked. I can’t pick just one author, as there are so many talented lesbian writers who have penned exceptional stories. As far as main stream authors, I love the old James Patterson stuff. His writing style is so simple and gritty, but to the point, and I actually really like Mary Higgins Clark. She is just twisted enough for my liking and nothing beats her books on tape for road trips.

2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?
killinggroundMost times, my ideas spring from a conversation. For example, Love’s Abiding Spirit came from a conversation with my best friend about proverbial skeletons in the closet. It morphed into ghosts in the closet and I thought an old house inhabited by a spirit who has unfinished business would make a great backdrop for a romance. The most surprising was a dream I had about a serial killer and how they committed the murders. The dream became the storyline for The Killing Ground. Parts of it were so vivid, I felt like I was the killer…and I think that qualifies as TMI!

3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?
Sarah teases that when I write The Gray Foxx Files I go to a very dark place and it takes me a while to resurface. She is right. I try to put myself into each character and that means sometimes I’m not a very nice person. In some of the romances, there are personality traits and emotions that I have experienced myself, so it means when the character is sad or upset, so am I. I’ve actually cried as I’ve written scenes before because I feel like it’s me living the scene rather than just a 3rd person view of what’s going on. Sarah is there to take me by the hand and pull me back out again. We are very much a team in the whole process. I bounce ideas off of her. She gives me feedback on whether or not a storyline is believable or if I am just way out in left field. She is my partner and my rock in so many ways. I don’t think I would have started this journey without her.

GCLSlogo4) What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?
Oh my goodness, I can’t even describe the feeling. The first time I held a copy in my hand, I was on cloud 9. I remember when a friend of mine went to a local bookstore and she found several of my books on the shelf and sent a picture. It was one of the coolest moments of my life. Being a finalist, though, that tops everything. Each time I put a book out, I hope it’s well-received and it’s a bit disheartening sometimes to get less than positive feedback. To be chosen as a finalist is validation for me that the words I wrote touched someone else as much as I hoped they would. I joke that it’s an honor just being nominated, but I sincerely believe that. This may be the only time I do make the finals, but I will cherish it.

5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish (literary or otherwise)?
Well of course I would love to win a Goldie!

movie cameraSeriously, when I started writing back in 2009, my only goal I set for myself was to write an entire novel. I didn’t even fantasize about publishing, I only wanted to write one. It wasn’t till I had written three that a friend of mine suggested publishing. Here we are five years later and I have 9 novels under my belt. I feel like I’ve achieved more than my original goal in regards to that. My ultimate bucket list item would be having one of my books turned into a movie. As long as you asked, I figure I might as well shoot for the stars!

6) What are you working on now and what’s next up for publication?
Made in LoveI’m currently working on what I am calling a semi-sequel to Someone Like You. It isn’t Lex and Aspen’s story, per se, but they are in it and we get to see what the next leg of their journey is. I started writing this before my dad got sick and passed away. I originally intended to make it light-hearted and less intense than Someone Like You since that was such an emotionally charged story. I found that when I picked up writing it after my dad was gone, it became a way to work through my grieving. I have always found writing to be cathartic and Made to Love is no exception. I am still trying to keep it more of an upbeat story with bits and pieces of sorrow sprinkled throughout an otherwise humorous tale. After that, I’ll be working on the 3rd installment of The Gray Foxx Files.

Huge thanks to Syd for taking part. You can read a full biography and see all her books on the Syd Parker author page.

 

Blogspot – 6 questions for D. Jackson Leigh

D. Jackson LeighD.Jackson Leigh grew up barefoot and happy, swimming in farm ponds and riding friends’ rude ponies in rural South Georgia.

Her passion for writing led her quite accidentally to a career in journalism and to North Carolina where, at the ripe old age of thirty-five, she bought her first horse because it was a little pathetic to still be asking Santa for a pony.

Her Every Second Counts is a Goldie finalist in the Ann Bannon Popular Choice and Traditional Contemporary Romance categories. I asked her to respond to the 6 questions you posed on Facebook – and here are her replies.

1) Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?
I have lots of favorites, but the top of my list is Radclyffe and Gerri Hill. They write with such feeling and intensity, that I’m always instantly lost in their books. They are my role models for writing.

2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?
Every Second Counts, which is quickly becoming my best seller, evolved from two surprising sBrijot_SafeScreenources. After my second book, Long Shot, was released, several readers wrote to say they wanted Bridgette to get the girl in that story. I tucked that in the back of my mind and forgot it for about two years. Then a new author’s challenge started up on the Radclyffe yahoo group and I had a good idea from a discussion with co-workers about the body scanners used by the TSA at the airports. People were calling the newsroom where I work to demand that the newspaper write something about how invasive they are. When I wrote the story for that author’s challenge and I realized that Marc Ryder was the butch who could rock Bridgette Leroy’s world. I actually used that author’s challenge as the prologue for Every Second Counts.

3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?
I get great support and amusement breaks from my three terrier-mix pups. I have an office, but mostly sit on my recliner sofa to write so they can compete for who gets to sit next to me while I’m working. They are very busy pups, playing, napping, running in and out of the pet door to bark in the back yard. And, they love to pause their playing to come ask for a hug or a throw of the ball. It keeps me grounded and I never feel alone. I do have friends and family, of course, but when I’m writing on a contract deadline, I often neglect them.

4) What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?
I don’t think I’ll ever get over that flush of wonder when you see your box of author’s copies on your doorstep and open it to hold your book in your hands for the first time. GCLSlogoAnd, although awards don’t actually translate in to additional sales, they are affirmation that somebody thinks you have done something good. Of my two books that came out last year, Hold Me Forever, is a finalist in the Lambda Literary Awards and Every Second Counts is a finalist for both the Ann Bannon Popular Choice and Traditional Romance categories. I’m especially chuffed about being a Bannon finalist because it is an award voted upon by the GCLS membership. The other awards are judged in the typical way, scoring certain aspects of the book, then seeing how the scores add up to compete with other books.

5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish (literary or otherwise)?
I’m starting to edit my first fantasy novel, and it will be a series of three books. It was exceedingly difficult to world-build and I’m not sure I’ve produced anything noteworthy, but it has been fun. I like the black and white aspect of good and evil in the fantasy genre … not to mention horses that transform into dragons and pyro warriors…lots of fun.

6) What are you working on now and what’s next up for publication?
dhw-coverI have two books coming out in 2015. The first installment of my fantasy series, Dragon Horse War: The Calling, will release in February, and Riding Passion will release possibly in May, that that date is still tentative.

Riding Passion is a D. Jackson Leigh sampler. It includes a handful of my previously published short stories that have been scattered about in other anthologies, and a handful of new stories. The anthology rates high on the “scorcher” scale and a lot of the stories revisit characters from my novels. And, yes, one story does revisit Ryder and Bridgette from Every Second Counts and involves a birthday gift, but that’s all I’m going to say. Best of all, the book is anchored by a novella that is written in three parts: Chasing Passion, Riding Passion, and Passion’s Bond. I think the novella is some of my best writing.

Huge thanks to D. Jackson Leigh for taking part. You can read a full biography and see all her books on her D. Jackson Leigh author page.

Blogspot – 6 questions for KG MacGregor

kg macgregorKG has in the past picked up Goldies for Without Warning, Worth Every Step and Photographs of Claudia (Contemporary Romance), along with Secrets So Deep and Playing with Fuego (Romantic Suspense).

An avid supporter of queer literature, KG currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Lambda Literary Foundation. She divides her time between Palm Springs and her native North Carolina mountains.

Her Etched in Shadows is a Goldie finalist in the Ann Bannon Popular Choice and Traditional Contemporary Romance categories. I asked her to respond to the 6 questions you posed on Facebook – and here are her replies.

1) Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?
Considering how many times I’ve fielded this question over the last dozen years, you’d think I’d have a go-to answer by now. This authoring business has profoundly changed the way I read popular fiction, which in turn, influences the way I try to write, and then the way I read, and then the way I write, etc. I can’t seem to read purely for pleasure anymore, because I catch myself analyzing all the various elements and looking for insight into the author’s objectives. I’m impressed by creative characterization (like the five distinct voices in Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible or five-year-old Jack in Emma Donaghue’s Room), a clever premise (Death as a narrator in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief) and brilliant turns of phrase (ibid.). The stories that stay with me the longest are the ones that end boldly, like A.M. Homes’ Music for Torching, or ambiguously, like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

In the lesbian fiction realm, the books I’ve enjoyed most are epic adventures, such as Belle Reilly’s High Intensity and D. Jordan Redhawk’s Tiopa Ki Lakota. I appreciate authors who do a lot of research and reveal what they’ve learned in the context of a good story.

2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?
xenaThe word “surprising” doesn’t really do justice to the pivotal impact of Xena: Warrior Princess fan fiction—not only on my writing, but my whole life. Starting about 15 years ago, my obsessive reading led me to try my hand at writing. In the first two years alone, I produced seven novel-length stories, all of which were eventually polished and published by Bella Books. Until then, I never even knew I had a creative side. I found writing so exciting and fulfilling that I left my career as a media research consultant to write full-time.

As for a specific inspiration that I’d call “interesting,” I’d have to say my personal trek to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2001, which led me to write Worth Every Step. At that time, I hadn’t started writing yet, but I kept a journal during my trip, and writing that book gave me a chance to relive the adventure.

3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?
I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I don’t find writing to be emotionally draining. The people around me might not agree, because I find it difficult to concentrate on anything else when I’m in the midst of a first draft, which means I can be very poor company for months at a time. My partner Jenny is my sounding board. She mostly listens as I think aloud, but I can count on her to help me out of a corner when I get stuck.

Another confession: For this author (and I suspect lots of others), isolation is a treasured commodity. I’m never lonely because I have so many characters and mysteries and adventures and emotions in my head. I do my best work when I have long blocks of solitude, and Jenny often obliges me by packing up and leaving town for a couple of weeks at a time.

4) What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?
It. Never. Gets. Old. I see that box of author’s copies on the doorstep and tear into it like a kid at Christmas. Being shortlisted or winning an award is a genuine honor—a Sally Field moment—and I’m especially grateful to the organizations that sponsor these awards and bring attention to our books.

5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish (literary or otherwise)?
I’ve just sent off the manuscript for my 20th Bella Book, so my head is empty right now. I’ve been writing two books a year for the last few years, but haven’t given much thought to 2015 yet. I’ve been very busy in my role on the board of trusteesthe Lambda Literary Foundation, where I’m about halfway through a six-year term. The rest of life, I’m just playing by ear.

6) What are you working on now and what’s next up for publication?
BEL-AnyoneButYouAnyone But You comes out in June. Equal parts romance and intrigue, and it’s hands down my favorite book in a long time. I wanted to tell a story about two women who fall for one another and discover too late they’re natural enemies, but it took me a while to settle on a backdrop. I chose the oil industry, and was horrified to discover through my research how far they go to shut down their opposition, especially environmental activists. It’s purely a work of fiction, but the egregious actions of the oil industry (in conjunction with their powerful friends in government and law enforcement) are based on documented events.

Fresh off my desk is Life After Love, the story of two women who have to bounce back after losing the relationships they thought would last forever. That one comes out in October.

KG also asked to say:
“Thanks very much for this opportunity to share my thoughts with your blog readers. Authors must promote to be successful, and those who provide these opportunities do us all an invaluable service. Thanks also to those who take the time to read our words, comment on them and share them with others. I’m always proud to say I’m part of the lesbian fiction community.”

Huge thanks to KG for taking part. You can read a full biography and see all her books on her KG MacGregor author page.

Blogspot – 6 questions for Karis Walsh

Karis WalshKaris Walsh is a horseback riding instructor who lived on a small farm in the Pacific Northwest but has just moved to Texas. When she isn’t teaching or writing, she enjoys spending time outside with her animals, reading, playing the viola, and riding with friends.

Her novel Sea Glass Inn has been is a Goldie finalist in the Traditional Contemporary Romance category. I asked her to respond to the 6 questions you posed on Facebook – and here are her replies.

The Professor's House1) Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?
Two of my favorite authors are Thomas Hardy and Willa Cather, and my favorite books by them are (respectively) Jude the Obscure andThe Professor’s House. I have a fondness for Hardy’s flawed but oddly heroic human beings, and when I read Cather I feel as if I’m chatting with a best friend. I also love Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, even though I think bullfighting is appalling. The books I read as a child are my all-time favorites, though–The Phantom Tollbooth, The Wind in the Willows, and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. They are wonderful old friends.

Sea Glass Inn2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?
I’ve discovered that inspiration can come in many forms. Sometimes as tiny seeds of ideas, and sometimes as full-blown stories or characters. My most interesting example is a pen made of sea glass that I received as a birthday gift from my parents — that pen became Sea Glass Inn.

 

3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?
My partner. She’s understanding when I have deadlines and supportive when I’m exploring new ideas or directions. She also makes the time when I’m not writing refreshing. Laughter, trying new things, exploring new places–those things are important so that I return to my writing full of inspiration and with a relaxed mind and soul.

4) What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?
I won’t ever get tired of holding a newly published book of mine in my hands–it’s an awesome feeling, and I feel thankful and awed each time it happens. Being nominated for awards is humbling and heart-warming. To know that people read my book and chose to recognize it? There’s nothing like it.

Texas flag map5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish (literary or otherwise)?
I have several books in mind–I’m working on the second in my mounted police series (the first is Mounting Danger) and I want to write a third music-themed novel. Other than literary? I just moved to Texas, so I want to explore the state and settle in my new home.

Blindsided6) What are you working on now and what’s next up for publication?
I’m working on the edits for Blindsided right now. It’ll be released in August and it’s the story of a guide dog trainer and a television show host who volunteers with her as a puppy walker.

Huge thanks to Karis for taking part. You can read a full biography and see all her books on her Karis Walsh Author page.

 

 

In This Small Spot – Caren J. Werlinger

In this small spot
“Here, the true you is most often magnified, for better or for worse.”
Abbess Theodora

In a world increasingly connected to computers and machines but disconnected to self and others, Dr. Michele Stewart finds herself drowning in a life that no longer holds meaning. Searching for a deeper connection after losing her partner, Alice, she enters a contemplative monastery, living a life dedicated to prayer, to faith in things unseen. Though most of her family and friends are convinced that she has become a nun to run away from her life, she finds herself more attuned to life than she has been in years.

Stripped of the things that define most people in the outside world – career, clothing, possessions – she rediscovers a long forgotten part of herself. But sooner than she expects, the outside world intrudes, forcing her to confront doubts and demons she thought she had left behind. The ultimate test of her vocation comes from the unlikeliest source when she finds herself falling in love again. As she struggles to discern where she belongs, she discovers the terrifying truth of Abbess Theodora’s warning. For better or for worse.

——————

This is a brilliantly written heart wrenching book about love and loss, set in an Abbey and built around a woman’s battles to survive bereavement and come to terms with her faith.

Dr Michelle Stewart looses everything when her life partner dies of cancer. She is adrift and lost in a world she no longer feels a part of. More than anything losing her partner makes her question the point of her vocation as a cancer surgeon, and her faith. She finds St Bridget’s Abbey by chance, feels pulled towards it and the peace it seems to offer.

So she gives up career, possessions, friends and family to see how monastic life will fit. And in doing so takes us into a world of women, isolated, cut off to a large degree, and choosing to take vows of poverty, chastity, silence and obedience. From of this life choice we see the nuns and novitiates struggling to overcome themselves, everything from chatting to being nosy to gossiping to wanting closeness and falling in love. As Micky goes through these emotions herself we are shown how even the women who have been in the Abbey for years struggle – it is clear the battle is never won, and even the elderly nuns can fall prey to pride and jealousy.

All of this is done by a combination of internal monologues, subtle interactions and flashbacks to Mickey’s life and loss. The flashbacks show us the powerful woman Mickey was in her profession and her life, they throw into stark relief how much the loss of her wife has changed and undermined her, destroying her belief in her work and herself.
The characters of Mickey and the nuns around her, as well as the small family connections, are wonderfully drawn. Built up over layers of time and small interactions we get to know the core of many of the women. This one is jealous of her place, this one homophobic, another struggling with abstinence and so on. Each one a whole, but delineated by a battle. Ms Werlinger pulls out the essence of each character and reveals it with the thoughts and actions of women caught in an enclosed space and microcosm of society.

Despite the small setting there is a strong plot, following Mickeys internal journey, but also her external change. From the flashbacks we get to see her bigger life story, from the gradual integration in the community we see her become a central figure in the life of many and an important part of the fabric of the Abbey.

Caren Werlinger BiogThis is not a happy story, however. It is dominated by loss, doubt, struggle and self-confinement. For those of us who do not understand or empathise with the decisions these women have made it is an interesting read, but I found it a profoundly uncomfortable one. For me personally I found myself repeating the thought “Why” throughout the book. Not why did the author write that, but why would these women choose this life. And the ending was, for me, extremely painful. Not all stories end well, and I suspect others would say we should take the joy somebody finds as enough. But for me it was a difficult read.

However, don’t let my personal reaction put you off. It is a very interesting story, well thought through and profoundly moving. The characters are exquisitely drawn, subtle, emotive and sympathetic. The writing is quite beautiful, fine brush strokes on a small piece of ivory. And if nothing else it made me look at my own life choices and appreciate my freedoms.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Corgyn Publishing, LLC (November 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CLG16CW
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To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback – click here.
      UK FlagAmazon.co .uk
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback – click here.

Blogspot – 6 questions for Susan X Meagher

Susan X MeagherSusan lives in New York with her spouse, Carrie. They’ve lived in Chicago and Los Angeles for significant periods, but New York fits them very well.

She loves to discuss my work and fiction in general. I urge you to join Facebook and participate in the discussion.

Herr novel The Reuinion is a Goldie Finalist for Dramatic/General Fiction

Ulysees1) Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?

Ulysses. James Joyce. I took a class on the book and spent a full term reading it. When you spend that much time with a difficult work it begins to feel like an old friend.

2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?

I was visiting an Episcopal church and was charmed by the priest, a lesbian from England. I spent most of the service thinking of how to build a story around her. “The Reunion” is the result of that hour of daydreaming.

3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?

Mostly from my wife. But I also have a good friend who also writes. We exchange works in progress, and I find her practical support immeasurably helpful.

alice b tolkas award4) What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?

I love to open the first box of books and see a new story in print. As for awards, I take it as a compliment that a majority of the judges for that category liked my book. But I don’t delude myself into thinking that my book is the “best” if I win. I don’t think there can’t be a “best” in a creative endeavor.

5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish (literary or otherwise)?

I love what I do and get a tremendous amount of enjoyment from it. So my goal is to keep doing what I’m doing while trying to do it better.

6) What are you working on now and what’s next up for publication (if they aren’t the same)?

I’m working on a book that will have a suspenseful element. I’m sure the romance will be paramount, but this one will have more plot.

Many thanks to Susan X Meagher for answering our questions. You can read a longer Buiog and see her books on the Susan X Meagher Author page

Surviving Reagan – Isabella

Surviving ReaganReagan Reynolds is paying for her mistakes. Manipulated by a villan and guilty of some very stupid decisions, she is now working her way back into the business she was destined to manage, rebuilding her relationship with her father, and trying to get over the woman who may well have been the love of her life.

Chad Morgan is also trying to move on, from her attraction to Reagan and her wounds from the case. When she gets back from a well-earned vacation she takes on the protection detail for the future first lady who is attending a conference in Abu Dhabi.

Neither Reagan or Chad expect to see each other again, certainly neither expect to be in the same hotel, at the same conference or caught up in a plot to infect the guests with a deadly virus. Will they work together to stop the plot? And can they work through their past issues to rekindle their connection?

—————-

Surviving Reagan is a sequel to “Executive Disclosure” and takes Chad and Reagan another step along their tumultuous journey. Determined to stay away from each other, even in the confines of the conference, they are irresistibly drawn together and both need to explore their feelings, deal with their past and consider their future.

This is a fun romp of a thriller with foreign dictators, undercover agents, unhappy gay pick-ups all set in a hotel in Abu Dhabi which makes everything twice as difficult. Only women are allowed on the protection detail, no guns in the country, no alcohol – and definitely no strong-minded lesbians.

Isabella BiogThe story moves along nicely with some unexpected twists and turns, and the combination of the adventure and the romance work well. Reagan’s panic attacks not withstanding the characters are well drawn and engaging. The interplay between Chad and her team is well done and the madcap antics of the main suspect are amusing.

Overall a most pleasant read, definitely a good follow up to “Executive Disclosure” tying up lose ends and perhaps sorting out the Chad and Reagan romance.. only time will tell.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Sapphire Books Publishing (May 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KNPVZ0Q
      USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback – click here.
      UK FlagAmazon.co .uk
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback – click here.

Fantastic growth in Fantasy

As any of you who read my reviews will know I read exclusively lesbian novels, mainly romance, adventure, crime and similar. It has struck me recently, while reading a couple of fantasy stories, that I used to read almost exclusively fantasy novels,  with a soupçon of science fiction, and wondered how that changed.

ShikastaI studied Womens English Literature for my first degree so part of my education included Lessing, Perkins Gilman and Le Guin. Post Uni it was the 1980’s when English lesbian authors were on a high with the Womens’ Press, Silver Moon, Virago and the like. Winterson, McDermid and Scott were all bright new stars in the lesfic orbit and Katherine V Forrest and Claire McNab were creating their wonderful crime series. Then when I got a job in a bookshop I was given the scifi/fantasy section to manage and I was in heaven – a whole new world to explore.

I loved Pratchet, and Gemmel, Feist and Eddings but also read everything written by the women I could find at the time, like McCaffrey, Kerr, Lackey, Baudino and Moon. I had forgotten how much I loved those books, and being a series junky of the worst kind the authors fed my addiction. So much so I must now go find the boxes in storage and re-read my favourites.

sassinak I think what drove me away from the genre was the lack of women leads, even from the women authors, and characters like Sassinak and Killashandra were a rareity. And then, of course, the complete lack of lesbians. <It’s criminal Sassinak wasn’t written as  lesbian IMHO>. So I gradually moved away from fantasy and migrated into the realm of the modern LesFic genre.

And then I got asked to review a couple of fantasy books and got chatting to a fantasy specialist and it brings back all the memories. Now there is a huge growth in the lesbian fantasy genre, some of which has come from the fanfic explosion. There are facebook groups, reviewers, bloggers, artists and some excellent authors producing a whole heap of fantasy material.

I am out of date and it seems the world has moved on. There are sub-categories I had never heard of so I needed to re-educate myself in the fantasy world.. at least enough to keep up. If you want to know what’s what in terms of types of fantasy you need to check out Reading on the Dark Side and the Realm of In-Between at queerlyreadingdarkness.wordpress.com. It gives  clear and succinct definition of the sub-genres. Is it a definitive list? I don’t know, but maybe it will spark a debate, so if you are a fantasy reader and have an opinion…

Back to book reviews – I really enjoyed JD Glass’s First Bood and I am going to be looking at some fantasy now, but there is just so much to read – I can’t see me moving too far away from my soppy romances. If you want to find some excellent fantasy reviews and keep an eye on some of the new releases check out queerlyreadinglesbian.blogspot.co.uk.

Blogspot – 6 questions for Rachel Spangler

Rachel SpanglerRachel never set out to be an award winning author. She was just so poor and so easily bored during her college years that she had to come up with creative ways to entertain herself, and her first novel, Learning Curve, was born out of one such attempt. She was sincerely surprised when it was accepted for publication and even more shocked when it won the Golden Crown Literary Award for Debut Author. She has now written 7 novels.

Her 2013 book Does She Love You? is a Goldie finalist in the Ann Bannon popular choice category. We asked her your 6 bloodspot questions:

1)    Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?
This is such a tough question. For someone who loves to read and really looks up to authors, I can’t pick just one. Honestly, whatever book I’m into at the moment has the potential to be my favorite simply because I get so immersed in that world. This happened recently with The Alchemist. Still, some books that I go back to a lot are Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse, C.S. Lewis’The Great Divorce, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States…I could do this all day.

In Lesbian fiction it’s even harder: Lee Lynch’s Toothpick House, Georgia Beers’ Too Close To Touch, Kim Baldwin’s Whitewater Rendezvous, Karin Kallmaker’s Warming Trend…The list goes on and on.

2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?
Love Life
I met with a life coach once hoping to just get some character-building exercises (and because she is also a beautiful actress) and ended up instead walking away with the inspiration for LoveLife.  The ordeal was actually kind of embarrassing, but worth it because I ended up with both a book and a very good friend. You can see that whole story here.

Also, Spanish Heart was based on my own trip to Spain as a teenager, which isn’t surprising in and of itself, but the circumstances surrounding the adventure kind of were.  We’d only been in the country for a few hours when our teacher, the only Spanish-speaking chaperone, was hospitalized. I put that pretty directly into the book, and a lot of people found it a bit far-fetched, which makes me laugh because it’s one of the only things that actually did happen to me.

3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?  
It can be lonely work, especially since I’m an extrovert who really needs a human connection to pull from, but I’m in a better position than most in that area. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife who really supports my career. Aside from giving me the opportunity to write full-time she always proofreads my books and  often helps me work through plot and character development. I’ve also got some amazing writer friends whom I call on regularly.

Melissa Brayden and I talk almost daily about our writing progress and kick each other in the butts when need be. Georgia Beers and I live only a few hours apart and get together pretty regularly too, which is always ton of fun. Lynda Sandoval, who is also my editor, lives literally around the corner from me now, and aside from being a great friend to hang out with, she’s also amazing to bounce ideas off of.  Not many people get house calls from their editors (or would even want to), but it’s helped me raise my game.  We spend more time laughing than working though, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I could never do the solitary writer thing for very long, and thanks to those amazing women, I don’t have to.

4) What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?
Rachel Spangler
As I mentioned above I’m an extrovert. The need to communicate is essential to who I am. When people talk about archetypes or purposes, I always say I’m a messenger or a storyteller. It’s probably the biggest part of myself.  I think I’d keep telling my stories even if there was no one out there to read them, but to know that the things I write are shared by people all the over world is one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.

I know what it means to hear something, see something, or read something and feel a connection, a sense of community, or the relief that comes from knowing you aren’t alone. I think it’s part of the human condition to want to know that there are other people out there with the same hopes and dreams. It’s something that can connect us across differences. Knowing that I have a chance to share part of myself with my readers is amazingly rewarding. I think I have the best job in the world. As for awards, they are just an added bonus.

5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish (literary or otherwise)?
My goal is always to write a book that changes someone’s life for the better, even if just in some small way. That hope is what guides me every time I sit down to write. I can’t imagine wanting more than that.

Outside of the actual writing aspect of the job, I’d like to see more of my books translated into other languages and do some readings outside of the United States. As I mentioned above, communication is key to me, and being able to connect with people world wide would be awesome.

6) What are you working on now and what’s next up for publication (if they aren’t the same)?
 Busch StadiumI just finished writing Heart Of The Game, which will be out in April of 2015. It let me spend a lot of fictional time in one on my favorite places, Busch Stadium in St. Louis. I’m a baseball nut, and I got to use a lot of my love of the game in this one. One of the main characters, Sarah Duke, is a sports writer for the St. Louis Cardinals, which is a bit of a fantasy for a die-hard Cardinals fan like me.  The other character, Molly Grettano, is the mother of two young boys, which allowed me to work in some funny parenting stories from my own life. It took almost a year to write, so it wasn’t an easy one per se, but I did have a lot of fun days along the way.  I sure hope you’ll all check it out next year!

Read more about Rachel on her Lesbian Reading Room author page here

 

Blogspot – 6 questions for Sandra Moran

Sandra MoranSandra Moran leapt onto the lesbian writing scene last year with her excellent first novel Letters Never SentEdmund White Award for Debut Fiction (Finalist), winner of the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Historical Fiction and the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Debut Novel, now nominated for a Goldie in the Ann Bannon Popular Choice and Dramatic/General categories.  This year she has published a remarkable and unusual book, Nudge, in which the protagonist, Sarah Shepard, is head hunted to work as a marketing executive for what most of us call God. Can’t wait to see where she goes with the next one.

In the meantime, between neon driven runs and trying to control her increasingly sarcastic cat, Spenser, we asked Sandra your 6 bloodspot questions.

The Doomsday Book Who/What is your favorite book/author and why?
This is a tough one for me because I have several favorite books and several favorite authors. I’m going to cheat and point to a couple. Is that okay? I love The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. It’s about time travel and how, because it couldn’t be used by the government to change the past, it was given to the historians so they could study it.

I also love dystopias – particularly the work of Margaret Atwood. (If you haven’t read her Orxy and Crake series, you absolutely should. It’s about the End of Days, societal chaos and genetic engineering of the perfect human species.) Along those same lines, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is brilliant.

Finally, I have to say that no one crafts a good historical fiction novel like Sarah Waters or Margaret George. The level of historical detail they deftly incorporate into their books is amazing – so meaty and rich.

What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?
Nudge - Sandra MoranHmmmm …. I guess I would have to say that the most interesting inspiration for a book came to me when I was on a long run. There was this bug on the trail that I swerved to avoid stepping on and that made me think of reincarnation – because that bug could have been anybody. That bug could become anybody – maybe the next prophet. And THAT made me think about the question of, “What if Jesus was reincarnated – who would he be now?” Would he be a normal person or someone famous? A woman? Bill Gates? What if he was the Dalai Lama? The longer I ran, the more interesting the options became. I won’t bore anyone with the fragmented thought process, but long story short, my swerving to avoid stepping on a bug led to the formulation of the plotline for NUDGE.

Writing is emotional and isolating. From where do you get your support?
I am really fortunate in that I have a wonderful support system. My partner, family and friends are always there to cheer me on (or cheer me up), to read early drafts, and to listen/help work out difficult plot points. They are patient and supportive beyond belief.

What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?
Seeing my work in print is enormously satisfying – and also really scary because suddenly all this stuff that started out in my head is out there for everyone to see. As for being up for awards … it’s humbling and also somewhat startling. To see my work listed alongside that of so many people that I respect and admire … it’s a little unreal.

chef's hatWhat is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish?
I really want to start taking formal instruction in the culinary arts. I love to cook and I love food. I’m dying to learn more than just what I’ve picked up working at restaurants and from watching cooking shows.

What are you working on now and what’s up next for publication?
The AddendumI just finished The Addendum. It is a short companion piece to NUDGE and is the document that the characters in the novel were working to create. We will be releasing it in July 2014 at the Golden Crown Literary Society conference in Portland. It will be available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble at about the same time.

Currently, I’m working on a new lesbian fiction novel titled All That We Lack. It opens with the crash of an express bus from New York to Boston and then works backward a day, six months, a year and two years, to show the interconnections of four of the passengers: a funeral director from Seymour, Indiana, an insurance risk analyst from Chicago, a 10-year-old boy from Philadelphia, and a pain killer-addicted paramedic from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

All That We Lack is scheduled for release Winter 2014.

Huge thanks to Sandra for taking part. You can find out more about her and her books on the Sandra Moran Author Page.