Lesbian Romance Is So Much More … by Jea Hawkins

Jea Hawkins is here today!

She released her latest novel, but first, Jea has something to say.

The first time I was aware of my sexuality as being different than the “norm” was 9th grade. It was the first time I’d looked at another girl and thought, “I would like to kiss her.”

She was my best friend and, no, we never kissed.

I am a very fortunate person – if I had started a relationship with another young woman when I was a teenager, my family wouldn’t have batted an eyelash. To them, being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is not abnormal. It is simply a fact of life.

I also know the flip side exists – that, for some families, being gay is not a fact of life. They abhor the very idea. Now that I am in my forties, I am sorry to say I have encountered many young people whose parents disapprove of their sexual orientation. These people wonder why their parents cannot be more like me: accepting of who they are and not questioning it or treating them like they are criminals.

How is this relevant to writing?

As a Gen Xer, I grew up on the wonderful fantasy and sci-fi of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, Marian Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey – they were just some of my favorite authors from my adolescence. I particularly enjoyed stories in which women formed friendships with one another and didn’t “need a man” to be a part of that dynamic.

Of course, I wanted to write the same kind of epic fantasy and science fiction. I wanted to explore new worlds and far-out ideas, with women as the central characters.

Over time, though, I found that while I enjoyed writing those genres, I wasn’t striking the chords intended. Sure, the stories were full of fun and action, but the heartfelt relationships within them weren’t taking center stage.

So I stepped back and rethought my writing. How could I write fiction for women that would be light, fun and uplifting?

Lesbian romance seemed like the answer, so I delved into it with all my heart. Sometimes it felt a little awkward to tell people “I write romance” when they asked what I was working on, but as I received reader feedback, I learned something important. Lesbian romance is so much more than some lines on a digital page that make readers smile. What do I mean by that?

Going back to those younger people I’ve met whose parents disapprove of their “lifestyle,” I realize now that writing light-hearted lesbian romance with happy endings is just one way to normalize how we fall in love.

Do my stories dig deep? It depends on the tale on my mind. Does love hurt? Of course. That’s universal no matter who we love. But when people realize they have a love worth fighting for, do they deserve the happy ending? Absolutely.

The awful trope of lesbians dying due to simply being who they are is atrocious and there is no place for it in our world.

I’m sorry to say there are still many, many people who believe being gay is wrong. In A Vote for Love, I explore that notion a little bit with Veronica, a senator’s daughter. However, many people who disagree with those people also exist and understanding that love is love transcends politics. Sometimes we can be quick to judge someone based on labels – their religion, political party, or something else. The story I hope Hayley and Veronica tell, however, is that actions speak louder than words.

Hayley’s family, for example, is as conservative as Veronica’s father. Midwestern farmers with deep roots in Nebraska, what does this family do when Hayley brings a girlfriend home? They welcome her with open arms, because love isn’t something we can dictate with a religious ideology or political platform. It’s just a part of life.

In the end, both Hayley and Veronica decide to transform their love into action and I think that is what I wanted to tell people: that you can do whatever you set your mind to, as long as you follow your heart.

I was fortunate enough to be able to date whoever I wanted without fear of judgment, to go out into the world with the knowledge that I could love without limitation. Not everyone has that privilege, however.

Gay people deserve so much more than token characters or cautionary tropes in fiction. I want to celebrate lesbian relationships with stories that aren’t driven by angst or pain, but instead by attaining that which my characters seek.

***And now for her new release: A Vote for Love***

What happens when a barista with dreams of becoming a journalist meets a senator’s daughter?

Hayley Becker is a hard-working Midwestern girl who dreams of being a journalist and her goal is within reach. That is, until she falls for glamorous Veronica Stone-McClusky, a senator’s daughter.

As these unlikely opposites attract, Hayley can’t deny the allure of Veronica’s world, a world she soon discovers is at odds with her ambitions. Hayley learns that dreams aren’t always what they seem and sometimes, like it or not, the least likely person is the one you fall in love with.

With career aspirations pulling her one way and her love life pulling her in another direction, Hayley is forced to make a choice or risk losing what she values most.

Amazon US  /  Amazon UK

JEA HAWKINS

Jea Hawkins writes sweet and spicy contemporary lesbian romance. If love conquers all, then she’d like to think her heroines can rule the world one day. An east coast transplant to the Midwest, she loves to write about complicated women and settings that feel like home.

Personal addictions include autumn, cozy sweaters, hot chocolate, and the Sims 3. She’s both an avid reader and gamer, and hopes readers don’t mind a few geeky references here and there in her work.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

 

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Lesbian Fiction Has Come a Long Way Baby! by Anne Hagan

A few weeks ago, I googled lesfic authors and found a fantastic blog post and page dedicated to lesfic. I reached out to the author and asked her to share about her thoughts on lesbian fiction for I Heart Lesfic. And she agreed!

Lesbian Fiction Has Come a Long Way Baby! by Anne Hagan

I found lesbian fiction the way so many of us did; by way of fan fiction. I was on my computer one evening, looking for the answer to a question I had about a television show. I found LiveJournal which was, twelve years ago, to fan fiction what Wattpad is today to original short stories and serial fiction. LiveJournal (LJ) didn’t have the answer I was looking for. Frankly, I can’t even remember what the question was anymore, so lost did I get in the stories. It was an insatiable reader’s dream come true. So much of it was what was called ‘alt fiction’ or ‘femslash’ then. It was a revelation.

There were so many shows LJ writers created stories for. I read them all, then went in search of more. That’s when I found the Academy of Bards, The Athenaeum, and Passion and Perfection; sites devoted entirely to the femslash I loved.  I was reading short stories and novella length works by authors like Kim Baldwin and Mavis Applewater on those sites.

Kim was the first author I personally knew to publish a lesfic book in paper form, Hunter’s Pursuit. I still have my autographed copy. Lesfic authors publishing in the light of day was, of course, going on before Kim Baldwin published but for me, that was another door opening. I started an LGBT fiction review blog then that I ran for three years and then eBooks really took off and I became overwhelmed with requests for reviews. I had a day job and other commitments. I folded the site.

In June of 2016, I was looking around online for lists of lesbian authors. There are lots of top ten book lists out there for every genre imaginable but few authors lists that would let readers find new to them authors. Frustrated, I decided to create one. I planned to do a list of the top fifty lesbian fiction authors currently publishing.

How do you pick just fifty? By the time my post was ready to publish, I contained the names and website links of 153 lesbian fiction authors. I posted the link to my article on a few lesfic Facebook groups and sent out a couple of tweets about it. That’s when the internet exploded.

My blog post got thousands of hits. Authors and readers commented on the post and emailed me directly, offering up additional names to be added. I researched those and added them to the original list in the post. As the list passed 200 and then 250 names, that got to be unwieldy. Too, readers were clamoring for me to identify the authors by genre.

I did a second post and then a third. I got more and more names to add. When the list went over 300 names, I knew I had to create something that would be easier to add to and maintain. Thus, a dedicated page for the list, housed on my website, was born.

The list is far from complete. There are tons of lesbian fiction authors out there writing away in near obscurity. They don’t have websites. They haven’t claimed their author profile on Goodreads. They’re online existence relies entirely on their publisher’s website or what they do on sites like Wattpad and on social media. Still, it’s the best resource out there for names and links and for a basic idea of the genres an author writes in. Too, it’s a living breathing document. I add to it frequently. It’s the most popular page on my website.

Check it out. Find some new to you authors. Don’t see an author who should be listed? Please comment on the page or email me and let me know. I’ll get them added. This is a resource for us, by us, to use to find our writers for, I hope, many years to come.

About Anne:

Anne Hagan is an East Central Ohio based government employee by day and an author by night. She and her wife live in a tiny town that’s even smaller than the Morelville of her first fiction series and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Anne’s wife grew up there and has always considered it home. Though it’s an ultra-conservative rural community, they’re surrounded there by family, longtime friends and many other wonderful people with open hearts and minds.

Anne and her wife enjoy spending time with Anne’s son and his wife, with their nieces and nephews (and their great-nephews that they’re really still too young to have but, it is what it is) and doing many of the things you’ve read about in her bestselling books or that will be ‘fictitiously’ incorporated into future Morelville Mysteries and Morelville Cozies series books. If you’ve read about a hobby or a sport in one of her books, they probably enjoy doing it themselves or someone very close to them does.

Anne’s latest release: Loving Blue in Red States: Jackson Hole Wyoming

A long-running wild west show brings two women with rocky histories together in an all-out, shootout.

 Liz Ventura is a semi-retired saddle and tack shop owner who just wants to get out of the house, out among people. Friends in community theater convince her to try out for a part in the summer long Jackson Hole Shootout show and she makes the cut. She was even willing to play understudy to the show’s female lead. After all, she thought, Trudy had been playing the role forever and relished it. What could possibly go wrong?

Jessica ‘Jess’ Davenport is a six-year veteran of the show. It’s been the only steady thing in her life for most of those years as she struggled with loss and the effects of addiction. She’s incensed when she finds out the director just handed Trudy’s role to a newcomer to the show; incensed that she wasn’t even considered. When she confronts Liz, sparks fly.

 Both women are living in the past. Can a Shootout show help them find a future together?

Jackson Hole Wyoming is the third short story in the Loving Blue in Red States series by Anne Hagan. It was preceded by, Sweetwater Texas and Birmingham Alabama. Look for other short stories and novellas to come out in this series in the future.

I want to thank Anne for this wonderful and insightful guest post. Also, her list of authors is a fab resource. I encourage all of you to pop over and explore.

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Real Writers Don’t… by Miranda MacLeod

I have a treat for you today! Miranda MacLeod is here.

I loved the first two books in her Love’s Encore series and the final book in the trilogy has been released. Woot!

One of the many things I love about Miranda’s writing is her sense of humor. Don’t take my word for it. Keep reading.

If you were to meet me at a cocktail party, there are a few things you would discover right away. First, I love a good gin martini, very dry, with extra olives. Second, I am not actually a cartoon character like my online avatar, but I do have strikingly similar red glasses and have been known to wear pink. In fact, I have a pink dress with martini glasses all over it, and this surprises pretty much no one who knows me.

What you would probably not find out is that I am a writer, and this is because, even though my sixth novel publishes this week, I find it difficult to claim that title for myself. In my mind, real writers retreat to castles on deserted windswept coastlines, or live in sleepy villages in Maine with shockingly high murder rates, where they somehow hit their deadlines while simultaneously helping the local sheriff solve crimes.

In case you hadn’t guessed, I watch a lot of television and movies, which almost certainly disqualifies me as a ‘real’ writer. My humor is equal parts Monty Python and I Love Lucy, and I adore romantic comedies. If anyone ever tells me one of my books could be a Meg Ryan or Sandra Bullock movie—and let’s face it, wouldn’t the world be a better place if either of them had made a lesbian romcom?—I will have accomplished my mission on earth.

One thing is for certain, writers definitely do not stare at their blank laptop screens and then procrastinate for weeks by doing laundry and baking, and then stay up until 5 am three nights in a row to feverishly finish their last chapters in order to meet a foolishly optimistic and self-imposed arbitrary writing deadline. Which, I’m going to be honest, is simply how I function.

But then I went to a retreat a few weeks back—in Maine, in fact, because as we’ve already established, most real writers live there. At this point, Fifty Percent Illusion was woefully behind schedule and I was addressing the issue by ordering a gin and tonic from the hotel bar instead of sitting down to write (they had martinis, but the G&Ts were free, so…).

In walks a hugely successful romantic suspense writer. Like, so well known, I have her books in paperbacks that I bought at the grocery store. And she starts talking about her writing process. It involved a lot of dog walking, hand wringing, late nights, and wine. I could have kissed her, if it wouldn’t have been really awkward. But I did come away from it feeling like maybe, just maybe, I was a real writer after all. It still took me another month to finish my manuscript, though.

But now it’s done, and I hope people find it worth the wait. I’ll probably have a martini or two before jumping into starting the next one. I have a few planned, mostly romcoms, plus a romantic suspense I hope to tackle next year. I’m sure you won’t be surprised that it will be set in Maine, nor that I will likely take some weekend when I really should be writing and drive up the coast to do some ‘research’ instead. You know, now that I have it on good authority that real writers do stuff like that, after all.

And now for Miranda’s new release.

Fifty Percent Illusion is the final book in the Love’s Encore series, a touching trilogy about fame, fortune, and finding a second chance at love. After the challenges faced in first two books, Rorie and Cecily are looking forward to a quiet and predictable life when unexpected news changes the course of their future forever.

Don’t miss this satisfying conclusion to the journey that began in A Road Through Mountains and Your Name in Lights

Amazon USAmazon UK 

 

About the author:

Originally from southern California, Miranda now lives in New England and writes heartfelt romances and romantic comedies featuring witty and charmingly flawed women that you’ll want to marry. Or just grab a coffee with, if that’s more your thing. Before becoming a writer, she spent way too many years in graduate school, worked in professional theater and film, and held temp jobs in just about every office building in downtown Boston.

Thanks for stopping by today!

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Don’t Forget the Spice: Writing Multiple Genres in Lesbian Fiction by Adan Ramie

Before we get to the guest post, I would like to remind readers that they have a chance to enter to win a free book by Adan Ramie. Hurry before the contest ends on June 28th. Click this link for more details.

Take it away, Adan.

Through all the years I dreamed of being a writer, I never considered that one day I would be writing science fiction. For one, I didn’t like to read it. Sure, I enjoyed watching it, and could quote Star Wars and Star Trek with the best of them, but the books I normally read tended toward anything but sci-fi.

When I was a kid, I read like the words printed on the page were sustenance. I needed them to live. My main obsession was with darkness: horror and dark fantasy. I gobbled up one book after another, day after day, until I had run out of kid lit and moved onto the romance novels my mother kept lying around.

Later, when I finally came to grips with my sexuality, I would slowly introduce myself to the world of lesbian fiction and such authors as Sarah Waters, Karin Kallmaker, and the mononymous Jae.

It comes as no surprise that the first thing I published was an anthology of horror stories. Or, then, that I moved on to writing suspense novels reviewers called “gritty and dark” before trying my hand at romance. After all, those genres formed the basis of what I knew about writing.

Faced with that information, it probably doesn’t make sense to anyone that the last book I released was a space opera. Why would someone who occasionally watches science fiction but almost never reads it want to write a science fiction novel?

A friend dared me to.

That’s right. I spent months brainstorming, writing, and polishing a novel way outside of my comfort zone on the wings of a dare. I carefully crafted a universe, filled it with alien planets, and populated those with multicolored life forms. I created characters who had rich pasts and childhoods on farms or among multigenerational, matriarchal family systems.

And, if I’m being honest, it was the most fun I’d had writing a book in a while.

The question people have been asking me since I first branched out from horror and into suspense is, “Why switch?” I can only answer it one way: because I must. I’m not the kind of person who can stick to the same hair style for more than six months; I can’t imagine handcuffing myself to a single genre for the rest of my life.

Thanks so much Adan for sharing!

Adan Ramie is a multi-genre author working primarily in the LGBT category. She lives with her wife and kids in a small town in Texas where she is working on reading her ever-growing TBR pile.

How to connect with Adan: Website / Twitter / Amazon

 

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What’s that in the sky?

A couple of Thursdays ago, something unusual happened in Dublin. Okay, it wasn’t totally out of the norm, but when it does happen, I try to take advantage. What in the world am I talking about?

It was warm and sunny, with little to no wind. Ireland isn’t known for such beautiful days. I’m not an expert, but I’m assuming one of the reasons why it’s known as the Emerald Isle is because of the green landscape due to the amount of rainfall and chilly temps. I’ve done zero research on this, so please don’t cite this as fact. I don’t want to be guilty of spreading fake news.

Back to the purpose of today’s post. As I was saying, the weather was so nice I decided to fold up shop early to take advantage of the beautiful day. And, I happened to finish my to-do list early. I may have checked the weather forecast the previous evening and noticed it was supposed to be sunny and warm. Each evening, I sit down and craft my list for the following day. I’m not saying I purposefully designed an easy workload to justify playing hooky. If I did, though, life is short. Live it while you can.

As it happened, I’d also downloaded a new lesfic audiobook after crafting my to-do list.

I popped out of my desk chair, grabbed my stuff (already prepped), bolted from my apartment, and hit play to start Kiss the Girl by Melissa Brayden.

I headed for one of my favorite walking spots in Dublin: Phoenix Park. I wish I had the time to walk there every day, but I don’t live near it, meaning my walk there takes a little more than thirty minutes. Roughly two hours in the park and then another thirty or so back home. Carving out more than three hours a day isn’t easy. Hence, why I try to take advantage on picture-perfect afternoons.

For over two blissful hours, I strolled through the beautiful park, listening to the novel, which I’m loving so far. One of the things I love about audiobooks is the freedom to combine two of my favorite destressing activities: walking and listening to someone narrate a book. I do this almost every day, although, my usual jaunt lasts forty-five to sixty minutes.

I can associate most audiobooks with the places where I’ve listened. I like to think that my stroll through Phoenix Park while listening to Kiss the Girl will be forever seared into my memory. And the scenery was fab. Come on, take a visual stroll with me by checking out the photos below. Of course, you’ll have to buy the book to reenact the perfect audiobook experience.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If yes, do you have a favorite setting or activity while indulging?

 

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Summer Print Book Contest Sponsored by Adan Ramie

Hello lesfic fans! I have a treat for you today. Author Adan Ramie is here with a chance to win one of her books, but I’ll let her explain in her own words. Take it away, Adan!

Have you ever felt like a little frog in a big pond? That’s kind of what it’s like trying to get noticed in the world of lesbian fiction publishing. Each time one of the big names moves back to ponder her next number one title, a million little names swarm in to fill the void.

What’s a small-time author to do to stand out from the crowd?

She must be willing to keep pushing her way to the front, raising her hand, and begging to be heard. It gets tough, though, to keep doing the same thing every time you have a new book. Building a following of loyal readers is the only way to avoid the cycle of publish, fall into obscurity, and publish again.

My name is Adan Ramie, and I’m one of those small-time lesbian fiction authors. I published my first novel in 2015, and have released a few books a year since. This summer, I plan to release my eleventh and twelfth books, as well as my second box set, and I would love to have more readers to announce them to.

So – I’m hosting a contest!

Basically, it works like this:

  • You share a link to sign up with your friends, family, and followers.
  • You email me evidence of your share (such as a link to your Tweet, a BCC of the email, a screenshot of your Pinterest pin, etc.) to therealadanramie AT gmail DOT com.
  • I give you one entry for each share.
  • You, obviously, must be a part of the group yourself.

The prize will be a paperback copy of almost any book I’ve ever written – including a couple that haven’t been published yet – in the genres of romance, suspense, horror, and science fiction.

You also get the added benefit of being the first to hear about giveaways and contests, as well as grabbing free stuff I share exclusively with my readers group.

Check out my website for more information about the contest, and for my blog, which is currently chock-full of free short fiction.

Thanks to I Heart Lesfic for having me!

And thank you, Adan!

Please note, this contest is sponsored by Adan Ramie on her website.  It ends on June 28th and Adan will announce the winner soon afterward.

 

 

 

 

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My Fangirl Moment with Sarah Waters

Ever since I read the novel Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters, I was in love. With her writing, of course. I also became a fan for life.

Two years ago, I received an email from one of my buddies asking if I would like to hear Sarah Waters speak at The Cinema Museum in London, where she would be discussing the films that had influenced her writing.

My friend had me at Sarah Waters. She could have talked about fly dung for two hours, and I would have hung on her every word.

When we arrived at the museum, my friend was distraught because she had to leave early and wouldn’t be able to have her book signed. A staff member overheard and waved us over.

Before everyone else was admitted entrance, we were shown inside, and guess who was there. Yep, Sarah Waters and two other women, maybe more. I only had eyes for Sarah.

My friend blustered into her dilemma, explaining she had to leave early because there would be fireworks that night and she had to go home to get her cat inside.

Ms. Waters listened. I hadn’t spoken a word, and to be honest, I hadn’t followed everything my friend said and missed something important since everyone was now staring at me.

I need to back up a minute. When I’d first met my friend in the lobby, she handed me a plastic grocery bag containing a calendar showcasing my friend’s ginger kitty. She makes these cat calendars each year.

Okay, back to the fangirl moment. When I wrote everyone was staring at me, they were actually staring at the plastic bag in my hand.

My friend, seeing I was at a loss, explained to me that she wanted me to show Sarah the cat calendar. The one that I hadn’t removed from the bag, let alone from the shrink wrap. Clumsily, I handed it over, blushing because here I was, standing in front of one of my writing idols and I couldn’t utter a word. And to add insult to injury, I couldn’t get my brain to function enough to remove the calendar from the plastic so Sarah could actually peruse the photos, which she was clearly interested in.

Ms. Waters glanced at the cover and then the back, which didn’t have a photo, and looked at me as if she had no idea what to say or do. Please don’t think I’m implying she was rude in any way. She was extremely nice. But I’m willing to guess she’s pretty shy. During her talk later that night, she was adorably shy.

But back to my moment. I was literally the fangirl who couldn’t carry on a conversation. Heck, I don’t remember even saying hi. I just stood there like an imbecile.

Soon afterward, Sarah Waters was ushered away from the people streaming into the lecture room.

And my chance to talk with a fellow writer was gone.

Actually, that wasn’t entirely true. After Sarah’s lecture, I had her sign my copy of Affinity and I managed to say thank you.

Now, in my mind, I rehearse in case we ever cross paths again, because it could happen. I picture myself standing confidently, with my hand outstretched as I say, “Hi, Ms. Waters. You touched my pussy calendar once.” Of course, in real life, I doubt I’d muster the courage. Or worse yet, I would blunder the line, offending her or ending up arrested.

Okay, if I ever do get the chance to speak to Sarah Waters again, I’ll stick with saying, “Hello.”

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