Guest Post: An Invitation by Ann Aptaker author of the Cantor Gold Crime Series

Happy Monday!

Bold Strokes Books author Ann Aptaker is here today. She’s kindly giving away three sets of her Cantor Gold Crime series. Three lucky winners will receive e-book copies of Criminal Gold, Tarnished Gold, and Genuine Gold. More details are below.

Please welcome Ann.


Here’s an invitation. I invite your imagination to enter another world, an unfamiliar, even dangerous world, where people risk all for glory, riches, power, vengeance, lust, and sometimes—but only sometimes—love. A world where myths are made or resurrected.

I invite you into the world of crime.

Now, doesn’t that sound like fun? Oh c’mon, you know you’ve always wanted a walk on the wild side.

So, why aren’t you?

This is a serious question. It’s also a dangerous question, since it challenges the expectations of Lesbian literature and the tastes of its readers. But I wouldn’t be a crime fiction writer worthy of the title if I didn’t have the nerve to challenge convention. Crime and criminals challenge—even threaten—accepted behavior. They stick a finger, a knife, a gun, in respectability’s eye, and crime writers have license to do the same…um, without the killing people part, of course, except vicariously.

I am fortunate in my genre. My Cantor Gold crime series has won awards, my books are sold and read. But not nearly in the numbers of books about—you know where I’m going here, and I can already see the knives coming at me—romance.

I beg you, please put the knives away. I’m not here to condemn romance novels. I’ve read damn good ones, enjoyed the romantic ride, the sweet pang in my heart. A good story by a talented writer with a creative mind and a flair for language is always a pleasure to read. To my mind, all genre fiction—romance, crime and mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, westerns, steampunk, the lot—is legitimate literature in that they are cultural folk tales, featuring characters and situations whose stories have resonated in the human soul for thousands of years, and always will: Aeschylus’s “Oresteia” is a murder story, as is Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” And who has bested Greece’s Sappho and Persia’s Rumi in the romance and erotic longing departments? Their love poems are brilliant, and eternal.

But the overwhelming preference for romance novels—and thus the preponderance of reviews on Lesfic review sites for romance—over other forms of Lesbian fiction concerns me, not just as a crime and mystery writer trying to find an audience, but as someone who wants the full spectrum Lesbian fiction to win the respect it deserves in the larger literary world. Okay, it’s true that romance even outsells everything in mainstream publishing, too. But Lesfic has a far smaller ratio of non-romance to romance titles than the mainstream publishers offer, which makes good business sense for Lesfic publishers since those titles don’t sell as well, unless they are the subset of “romantic thrillers/mysteries/sci-fi/adventure” and so on, or feature a crime solving/crime committing Lesbian with a happily-ever-after wife or girlfriend to go home to and who may even be her accomplice in crime or crime solving. The truth remains that the profits brought in by romance novels subsidize non-romance titles, allowing my publisher, Bold Strokes Books, to take a chance on my non-conforming stories about a very non-conforming heroine, the art thief and smuggler Cantor Gold, whose life teeters on the edge of danger, and happily-ever-after is not a guaranteed component of her world. Cantor’s world is about courage, defiance, survival, and justice turned inside out. Cantor is a mythic figure expressing a Lesbian heritage.

At the risk of annoying everyone even more, I’ll move on to the question: what to do about it? Well, beyond writing the best books I can, publicizing them to the best of my ability and that my non-existent marketing budget will allow, proselytizing in venues that give me a microphone or a guest blog post (thank you, I Heart Lesfic!), the only answer I can come up with is: I don’t know. How can I reach potential readers who aren’t my Facebook “friends,” or aren’t in the various Lesfic Facebook groups, or don’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram?

I accept that changing people’s tastes is difficult, perhaps impossible. There are readers who will only read romance and readers who will never read it. The same is true for every other genre. That’s fine with me. (In this hyper-visual world of streaming video, video gaming, and other passive forms of story-sharing, reading anything is a triumph for the human brain.) But there are also readers who are open to a wider spread of stories, and might read a book in a less popular Lesfic genre if they were aware of the book. And that’s where the Lesfic community of readers comes in. Yeah, I’m talking about reviews, those far-too-important little paragraphs on Amazon and Goodreads. The treachery of algorithms can decide the fate of a book regardless of its quality, sending it to the dungeon where very few potential readers are made aware of it, or raising it in the rankings and thus in visibility. A short paragraph, a single sentence, even three little words, “I like this book,” posted by lots and lots of people can improve a book’s chances of being seen and thus read.

So what I’m asking is this: if you’ve enjoyed my Cantor Gold books, or anyone’s books in any genre, please take five minutes to post a review. And please, review the book the author wrote, not what you think a Lesbian book should be; i.e., those reviews that say, “I loved the mystery but only giving the book three stars because it didn’t have a love story or sex scene.” Would you demand a love scene in a Stephen King thriller? If you want to write a long post discussing the book, great! If all you want to do is post, “Good book. Loved it,” that’s great, too! In the case of Amazon, it really is quantity over quality in terms of getting visibility. Potential readers can then rely on the synopsis and blurb on the book’s Amazon page, and the “Look Inside” feature where they can sample the first few pages—or better yet, often an entire chapter on the publisher’s website—and decide if it’s their cuppa tea. But none of this will happen if readers aren’t aware of the book in the first place.

So, back to my original invitation to take you into my exciting, dangerous walk on the wild side of crime. Here’s the deal: I’m inviting you into my world. I’d love an invitation into yours. And please introduce me to all of your friends.




Native New Yorker Ann Aptaker’s first book, Criminal Gold, was a Golden Crown Literary Society Goldie Award finalist. Her next book, Tarnished Gold (Book Two in the Cantor Gold Crime Series), was honored with a Lambda Literary Award and a Goldie Award. Told from the point of view of a dapper, custom-tailored lesbian art thief and smuggler, and set in mid-20th century New York, the Cantor Gold series resurrects the outlaw spirit of lesbian life, its daring and sensuality.

Ann’s short stories have appeared in two editions of the crime anthology Fedora, edited by award-winning crime author Michael Bracken. Her flash fiction story, “A Night In Town,” appeared in the online zine Punk Soul Poet, and another flash fiction story is included in the anthology Happy Hours: Our Lives in Gay Bars, edited by Lee Lynch and Renée Bess. Ann still occasionally curates and designs art exhibitions, is an art writer for various New York clients and a contributing writer to the children’s science television show Space Racers, and is an adjunct professor of art and art history at the New York Institute of Technology.


Facebook / Twitter / Bold Strokes Author Page



Three winners will receive all three books in the Cantor Gold Crime series. Two of the winners will be selected from the comments section. To enter, simply leave a comment below. The third winner will be selected via the giveaway plugin. All you need to do is enter your email. The giveaways end on October 30th.

  • 1 winner
  • Value:
  • Prize:
    E-book of the Cantor Gold series

Enter to #win the #lesfic crime series Cantor Gold by Ann Aptaker



To enter to win, please provide your email and you'll be added to the I Heart Lesfic new releases newsletter.

Thanks so much Ann for stopping by.

Best of luck to everyone.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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12 Responses to Guest Post: An Invitation by Ann Aptaker author of the Cantor Gold Crime Series

  1. Erin Hodgson says:

    I love that you don’t write “traditional” lesfic! In my opinion, if the story is strong enough, no romance is needed. A strong female character at the lead and a good level of suspense, mystery and intrigue is enough to win me over! Thanks for writing Ann xx

  2. Melanie H says:

    You touched on everything I love about reading…I genre hop cause romance isn’t something I crave everyday, a thriller or who done it or a fantasy world to escape into is fine by me! And reviews, I’ll leave them even if I don’t love it but I’ll explain why for the author…sometimes I just don’t connect with the story, weird I know! Continue writing the non-traditional and I’ll keep on reading it! 🙂

  3. April says:

    I have a deep affection for a good crime/thriller novel. It doesn’t have to focus on romance, I just love getting caught up in the mystery and trying to find out who has done it. I enjoy reading about down to earth characters in these books. Keep on writing more of the books I love Ann xxx

  4. Melissa Moody says:

    I’m one of those that leaves a short review. I don’t want to spoil anything for someone that hasn’t read the book. I do comment on how I connected to the characters sometimes, but I do try to leave reviews. I had no idea how important those reviews were. And I love those crime novels with strong smart women, so well done!

  5. Nic says:

    Crime novels are fantastic. It keeps you right on the edge of your seat and has cost me many sleepless nights because I simply couldn’t not finish the book to see who did it. And it’s a genre that’s relevant through the decades. I still enjoy Agatha Christie and Hitchcock.

  6. Sandy Unger says:

    There is nothing better then a good crime novel with an engaging female sleuth that takes place in the city of my youth. Thank you for taking me home in your books and sharing the underbelly of NY. Keep up the great stories.

    • Ann Aptaker says:

      Thanks, Sandy! Gotham never fails to inspire me every day. A simple walk doing neighborhood errands, a ride on the subway, presents fascinating faces and enough rich stories to keep me writing for a lifetime. My outlaw Cantor Gold is woven from that fabric.

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