• Audiobook,  LGBT+,  Lifestyle,  Personal

    South Coast Lesfic Hang Out, a summary

    Where can you find three 2019 GCLS finalists, three Emmas, two Kits, a metric ton of wool in the shape of cute animals, two amazing audiobook narrators, a best-seller of Amazonian proportions (seriously, Kiki Archer IS that tall), and a whole host of fabulous authors all under one roof?

    Crawley.

    For those who don’t know, Crawley is the spectacular metropolis next to Gatwick Airport. It has restaurants, shops, hotels, multiplex cinemas, office blocks, and a horticultural society who happen to have a hall to rent to a group of sapphic authors.

    Okay, so it wasn’t the most glamorous of locations, but that didn’t matter. We brought the sparkle.

    Organised by GCLS finalist, Claire Highton-Stevenson, the South Coast Lesfic Hang Out was amazing. Authors from across the UK (and Europe!) piled into the venue, setting up tables with books, merch, sweets, crochet, gummy boobs, chocolate, art, and more. 

    Throughout the day, authors hopped up on stage and gave readings of their work. Some gave readings of other author’s work in exchange for muffins. Readers travelled from far and wide (Kingston and Finland) to chat with authors in a casual environment, eat cake, buy books, and have previously purchased books signed.

    TJ Richards and Jessica Jeffries were on hand to talk about audiobooks from a technical perspective, Beni Pardy joined us from the Lesbian Audiobook group on Facebook to talk about audiobooks from a listener perspective.

    A team of volunteers were on hand to provide drinks and snacks, mainly cakes. Lots of cake was consumed. Like, a lot. But the proceeds went to charity so every single slice of that cake was complete calorie free. Perfect.

    In all seriousness, this was an amazing event with some great people in attendance. I spoke to some readers who were visibly moved at being able to find a safe space where they could come and be themselves, surrounded by other likeminded people, and talk about life, love, and books. 

    The South Coast Lesfic Hang Out was hopefully the first of many events, it was accessible, friendly, fun, and free. I’ll be attending any future event I can, and I hope to see you there in the future.

  • Personal,  Publishing,  Writing

    A huge thank you to my Patrons!

    I adore publishing. There’s a wonderful thrill that comes from crafting something and then releasing it to the world. Especially when you are writing woman loving woman characters. I receive messages from readers who are thrilled to discover characters and scenarios that resemble their lives. Books are entertaining escapism, but they are also reinforcement that we are not alone in our struggles.

    I’m passionate about writing books that people can identify with. Books that are accessible to all and show that love—and acceptance—can be found no matter who you are.
    I’m at the beginning of my writing career and have already published over ten books. I have plans to write many, many more. However, writing, editing, and marketing books take up a lot of time… and writing full time is a treadmill-like existence, especially in a small niche market.

    Don’t get me wrong. I feel very grateful and lucky to be able to live the life I do. But being a full-time author in a small market means never being able to stop and work on developing my writing style, it means rarely having the time or budget to properly market my books.

    This is why I have set up a Patreon account. With Patreon, you can donate a small amount each month to enable me to hop off of my treadmill for a while in order to reach my goals.

    My Patreon page is a place for exclusive first looks at new works, insight into upcoming projects, monthly Q&A sessions, as well as special gifts and dedications. There are tiers to suit all budgets.

    My readers are some of the kindest and most supportive people I have met, and I appreciate every book borrow or purchase. With the added support of Patreon, I hope to be able to develop my writing career in order to become a better author as well as increase my marketing strategy to help my books to reach a wider audience.

    I’m lucky to already have some fantastic supporters (special shout out to the wonderful Jenn Brown!) who are willing to part with a few dollars each month in order to support me and receive some great benefits. Check out my Patreon page to find out more!

  • LGBT+,  Lifestyle,  Personal,  Publishing,  Travel,  Writing

    ELLCon 2018…. missing you already

    ELLCon, or the European Lesfic Literary Conference to those who don’t know, is now over.

    If you asked me a week ago how I’d be feeling now, I would have said ‘happy that ELLCon is over and I can get on with other things!’ But I couldn’t have been more wrong. I have lots of friends who go to conferences and conventions and they often talk about ‘post-con depression’, and that is exactly what I’m feeling. Because, quite simply, ELLCon was amazing.

    We parked in the car park underneath the hotel the day before the conference, as the lift doors opened to the ground floor we saw our first author! Claire Highton-Stevenson was there opening a door for us, calling us reprobates, and directing us towards the reception. Admittedly, I think this was a fluke and I don’t think she had specifically been waiting for our arrival but it was a great start to the event and I instantly knew she’d be a friend!

    Thursday was the start of ELLCon, Emma and I arrived at check in and were met by two of the organisers, Gerd and Valden, who provided us with our lanyards and showed us the room where our vendor table was. They also showed us a poster, all authors were to sign the poster and it would be given away to a lucky random winner in a raffle the next day.

    The vendor room was a hive of activity, some vendor tables had a nameplate but no books and no author in sight, some were in the process of being set up, and some tables looked like the author had been there for days just waiting for the event.

    I dumped our boxes and immediately went over to see Jenn Matthews and May Dawney, who were sharing a table and had clearly risen at 5am to get a start on having the best table at the event. I immediately knew that our bookmarks and tub of Swedish (they were from IKEA) chocolate had been beaten.

    As you can see, Jenn is amazing at crochet. She was selling keyrings, bookmarks, cuddly toys, hats and blankets.

    Apropos of nothing… I did note the temperature in the vendor room went down a notch consistently throughout the day. Convenient for anyone selling adorable, comforting blankets. Coincidence, I’m sure.

    Next to May was the Ylva table and a host of amazing authors were setting up. Big names like Andrea Bramhall, Wendy Hudson, Jae, G Benson, AL Brooks were setting up stacks of books like they were just normal human beings.

    By this point, my wife reminded me that we had to set up our own table. Our table was next to Affinity and I had the chance to meet the lovely Jen Silver and Samantha Hicks, and on the other side of us we had Sam Skyborne and Lise Gold. So… we were sandwiched between some fantastic people.

    It was about nine am and my fitbit told me I’d completed my step goal for the day. We set up our table and realised… neither of us knew how to set a table up. We’d naively thought that books could be stacked on top of each other nicely enough, but that wasn’t really working out. But on the bright side, I got the lid off the chocolates and they were set up in the middle of the table. Priorities, right?

    Around this point, Miranda MacLeod and TB Markinson arrived, two authors we have actually met before. Miranda had flown in from America specifically to see us! Or for ELLCon… I forget which. Miranda is also a pro at conferences and so she had more merch than you could shake a stick at, if you’re a stick waving fan. She also had some spare book stands that she kindly donated to me. I had to read the instructions on the box to figure out how to open them.

    Now is probably the time to mention that Emma and I have never been to a convention like this before, certainly never had a table to sell our books. The UK market has never really had a thing like ELLCon before, there are a few events shared with M/M authors and some magazine organised awards… but no actual conferences where authors and readers can mingle.

    We eventually managed to set our table up. I forgot to take a picture of it. But we were there, I promise.

    Somewhat conveniently located by the food and the window was the lovely Kit Mallory with her fantastic novel Blackout… just look at this awesome cover!

    Next to Kit was Claire Highton-Stevenson, who had a mission to take selfies and have a bloody good laugh. She did both perfectly.

    Somehow the hour-long arrival, registration, and welcome time took around three minutes and on my way to get a glass of water I bumped into the publishing powerhouses that are Clare Ashton, Clare Lydon, Harper Bliss, and Caroline Manchoulas (Mrs Bliss to some). We rushed into the next room to sit for the first panel; What is in a Cover? The Do’s and Don’ts of Designing a Winning Cover. Which was chaired by Robyn Nyx. Caroline Manchoulas, Sally Xerri-Brooks, Miranda MacLeod, and May Dawney all spoke about their experiences of cover design from doing it yourself to hiring professionals to being a professional.

    Photo lovingly stolen from Kitty Author.

    The room was great, the tables had pens and paper (I made a paper airplane). And there were glasses and bottles of water everywhere. The only issue was, if you poured yourself a drink and then left that glass on a table for more than two seconds… some fantastic employee of the Marriott cleaned it away.

    I was on the second panel, so I slipped away early to visit the ladies bathroom. The hotel was undergoing a massive refurbishment and when I walked into the bathroom I could smell sealant. As I closed the door to my cubicle, I caught a glimpse of a male builders arse directly opposite me… bending over a bowl and applying fresh sealant. I didn’t let it stop me. I’m wild like that.

    The second panel was chaired by the lovely Clare Lydon and was called Tropes in Publishing: should they be Embraced or Avoided? Myself, Clare Ashton, Brey Willows and Gabby Benson quickly decided that tropes were great. The panel could have been thirty seconds long but we played along. We were all brilliant, made great points, I believe there was a standing ovation at the end. I forget what was exactly said but I’m sure you get the drift.

    Also lovingly stolen from Kitty Author.

    One of the strange things about this event was how the organisers expertly managed to bend and warp time. From the end of my panel at around 11:15 to the end of lunch at 14:00 flew by in about eight and half seconds. During this time I met so many wonderful readers including Miranda, Sharon, Carol (Video Girl to some), Kate, Kitty (who I’m shamelessly stealing photos from), and so many more. I ate a cookie or two. I spoke to some of the organisers. Put down and lost a glass of water forever. I had a pastry. I spoke with some other authors. Ate a cookie. Petted Ferb (it’s a dog, I swear) and met the lovely Jody Klaire.

    Sadly, this speedy passage of time meant that I missed a reading by Suzanne Egerton and a panel called When Writing Feels Like a Marathon – how to get over the Finish Line. But that just gave me more to talk about with people who had attended later.

    When lunch was served, myself and Claire decided to break into the main room and sit and eat at one of the big tables so we weren’t eating over our books. We’d both been told off for that at school. A few minutes later the table was full of people, we had to keep moving up to make room. It was so great to just sit and chat with people over a meal. I lost three glasses of water during this meal. Damn those Marriott people are light-fingered.

    Then it was the next panel ‘Better Reading Makes for Better Writing – how does reading Another’s work help your Own?‘ chaired by Justine Saracen. On the panel was Robyn Nyx, TB Markinson, Emma Nichols and some woman called Emma Sterner-Radley. Kidding, I obviously know that last one as she’s my lovely wife. Here she is with Kitty Author.

    Also shamelessly stolen from Kitty Author.

    Side note… Emma and I were repeatedly asked some questions which we mistakenly thought everyone knew the answer to. So, to clarify, here’s a quick synopsis:
    1) Yes, we’re together.
    2) Yes, we’re married.
    3) Yes, we do have the same surname and appear to be joined at the hip. See #1 and #2.
    4) Emma is Swedish. We’ve been together for nine years, we live in the UK.
    5) We don’t write books together.
    6) We love each other so we probably won’t write a book together in the future either.
    7) Yes, Emma really was that terrified about being on panels.
    8) No, Emma did not die from fear of being on panels. But it was a possibility.

    The panel went well. As an uneducated, non-reader of the classics I didn’t have much of a clue what was being said. But it all sounded dead impressive and I clapped in the correct places. Got away with that, I thought. Lost another glass of water.

    I missed a reading by Kiki Archer because I can’t read time properly, but I think there is a video of it somewhere and I’ll repost it as soon as I discover the link. I met more readers, signed some books, sold some books. Bought some books. Calculated I’d bought more books than I’d sold. I debated buying a crocheted hat from Jenn because it was getting cold. I also found some chocolate brownies and remembered I hadn’t signed the author poster yet for the giveaway. I had chocolately fingers so I reminded myself to do it later. Spoiler: I forgot.

    Then it was time for the fifth panel; Plotter or Pantser?: should you be Flexible or stick to your Plot Outline? This was chaired by Andrea Bramhall and she was joined by Nita Round, Clare Ashton, G Benson, Kiki Archer, and AL Brooks. It was fascinating to hear how different authors write, some with no plan at all and some with a really detailed idea of what they will be doing. After the panel I was asked by a couple of readers if I was a plotter of a pantser. A member of Marriott staff was passing at the time (probably on the way to steal a glass of water from someone) and gave us a very confused look.

    The final panel of the day was Finding Inspiration – Where do Ideas Originate from? chaired by Emma Nichols… who I will never forgive. She started her panel by asking everyone to look under their chair. I held out for the longest time, but eventually shifted to look under my seat. “We’re just looking for inspiration,” Emma Nichols chuckled. She got me. Damn her. On the panel was Wendy Hudson, Suzanne Egerton, Anna Larner, Emma Sterner-Radley and Sam Skyborne and they proved that inspiration comes from a million different places. Suzanne was hilarious and has clearly lived a very varied and interesting life… she kept throwing out previous job titles like they were candy. Next year we need a panel on Suzanne’s previous careers.

    If you don’t know where I got this from by now, you’re not paying attention.

    A sneaky member of the audience managed to get Sam to strip off her leather jacket under the guise it was interfering with the microphone, well played audience… well played.

    Some more mingling ensued. I lost another glass of water. And then the first day was over. The nine-hour event had passed in three hours, those sneaky organisers. Or maybe it was just so much fun and with so much happening that time just flew by, we’ll never know for sure.

    The next morning I arrived fashionably late because I’d decided to check out the underground labyrinth that the Marriott cheekily call a car park. I’ll take a bit more notice of where I park my car in the future. Met a lovely builder who told me how to relacquer a table though. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I couldn’t give a fuck and was simply looking to see if there was a door behind him. The secret is ensuring a good work surface at the start, for those who do care.

    I fully intended to go to the first two panels but I got caught up talking to so many interesting and lovely people that I didn’t get a chance. The only reason I was at the third and last panel was because I was hosting it. I spoke at length with Emma Nichols, Brey Willows, and Kiki Archer… all such lovely people. I nabbed May Dawney for a photo, and wished her a happy birthday. Spoke with Clare Lydon some more, and Claire Highton-Stevenson again, had a proper chance to say hello to Jae. I admitted to Zara that I’d not signed the poster from the day before, she didn’t slap my wrist as I thought she might but it was a close thing 😉 I totally missed the food, Kiki brought me a pastry which meant I managed to be upright for my panel as I’d only eaten a biscuit for breakfast.

    Eventually, I realised I’d have to do some prep for my panel so I thought I’d sit on stage for a bit, as a panel had just ended it was bound to be quiet in there… right?

    Wrong.

    So I rearranged the stage, hid all the microphones because the feedback was driving me mad, petted Ferb (I swear it’s a dog), brought my own bottle of water (suck it, Marriott). And then my panelists arrived, T.B. Markinson, Caroline Manchoulas, Jae, and Clare Lydon so we could have a discussion on author collaboration in the lesfic community. I hadn’t prepared but I don’t think anyone noticed much. Again, we all said tremendously exciting and relevant things and the rolling standing ovation and the subsequent Mexican wave and cheers for an encore will live on in our memories.

    I had the honour of choosing the winner of the author poster that I had hastily signed an hour before. Sweet Valden who had been such a fantastic organiser was the name I randomly picked.

    “Me?!” Valden asked in shock.
    “No, the other Valden,” I replied sarcastically.

    We all cheered for May Dawney’s birthday and then again for the organisers and the panels of the first ever ELLCon were over.

    In summary… (you’ll be pleased to see that I’m finally going to stop going on about this event) ELLCon was wonderful. Personally, I met so many truly lovely people. As I had said in my panel on collaboration, authors are not competition, they are co-workers in one big publishing world. Over the last two days I had the opportunity to meet my co-workers and my readers and I had a fantastic time. It was great to actually meet so many social media people face to face and really get to know them, and get to hug them.

    Thank you to every author who turned up and introduced themselves, it was a pleasure to meet you all. And, of course, thank you to the readers who came to see us all. Apologies to those I didn’t get a chance to talk to, or people I only nodded at in passing. Really the event passed in the blink of an eye for me and I wish I’d had more time to meet and chat with more of you.

    But most of all, thank you to the organisers who took so much time and effort to put a really wonderful event together. I hope there will be future events, this just goes to show what a wonderful community we have in Europe.

  • LGBT+,  Lifestyle,  Personal,  Publishing,  Writing

    Silent protests don’t lead to change, conversation does…

    A few weeks ago the hype around the 2018 GCLS convention began. As per every year around that time, Facebook feeds were full of people preparing to go… and familiar private conversations were taking place in darkened corners of the Internet. You see, for every one excited person preparing to fly to the GCLS convention and have a great time, I know at least three people who are boycotting the organisation.

    For those of you who don’t know, GCLS stands for Golden Crown Literary Society. It’s a non-profit organisation which basically aims to teach, support, and recognise lesbian literature, recognition being delivered through the awards ceremony that takes place at the end of each annual convention—known as the “Goldies”.

    When I first started writing, I was told that I needed to apply for Goldies, as recognition by GCLS was really important for my career (Newsflash; never won a Goldie and I’m doing okay!). So, I hopped on over to the website and started to read about GCLS, which had been explained to me as the leading organisation for authors of our genre. Scrolling through the website, I saw a sea of language I wasn’t very comfortable with. For example, here are the old awards eligibility criteria:

    Content must include significant lesbian characters and/or themes and meets ONE of the following criteria:

    • The main character identifies as a lesbian
    • The main character is or ends up in a lesbian relationship
    • The theme or plot deals with lesbian issues and/or lesbian life

    Now, I don’t want to be one of those picky people… but I’m not a lesbian. Nor are most of my characters, nor a lot of my readers. I’m bisexual. I’m married to a lesbian, sure… but I’m still bisexual. And, as I hope we all know by now, being in a female/female relationship does not make the people in that relationship lesbian. I was really unhappy with this language. And, as I started speaking to more authors in the genre, I heard more and more negative things about GCLS. I wasn’t the only person unsatisfied with the language being used. But language was the tip of the iceberg, GCLS had a general inclusivity issue. People of colour were feeling squeezed out of the organisaton, and definitely out of the conventions. Pictures of conventions gone by were a sea of white faces. Trans authors, and male authors, had experienced pushback from members and didn’t want anything to do with GCLS.

    After hearing that I wasn’t the only one unhappy with our supposed leading organisation… I ignored GCLS. Over the next two years I heard many complaints from ex-members, authors, readers… all saying the same things. The awards are rigged, the same people win every year. The organisation doesn’t recognise people who don’t identify as lesbian. The membership is entirely white. I nodded and agreed with all of the things people were saying to me.

    But I didn’t do anything.

    It was only this year that I checked my behaviour. I was taking part in my very own silent protest, which is no help to anyone. I was boycotting GCLS but I wasn’t telling anyone that I was doing so, most importantly I wasn’t telling GCLS that I was boycotting them and I wasn’t telling them why I was doing so. It’s like having an argument with someone but never telling them that you’re having an argument, and not explaining why. How will that situation ever be resolved? It won’t.

    And it became clear that I wasn’t the only one; large numbers of people were avoiding GCLS. But none of us were saying anything.

    I started to have conversations with people and ask about their issues with GCLS. I spoke with people of colour who complained about the lack of colour represented at GCLS, but they themselves wouldn’t attend. I spoke with authors who said that the awards always went to the same authors and publishing houses, but they themselves wouldn’t submit their books for awards. And I myself was a bisexual author of WLW fiction who refused to join the organisation or submit my books for awards because I didn’t like the language the organisation used.

    How would anything ever change if we all continued our silent boycott?

    I made a decision. I’d email Mary Phillips, the Executive Director/President of GCLS, and tell her about my issues and suggest potential solutions where possible. Below is a copy of my message:

    Dear Ms Phillips,

    Firstly, congratulations on another successful GCLS conference. As a marketing consultant who has been involved in organising many events over the years, I know the volume of work that goes into the planning and execution of such large events.

    I wanted to get in touch with you as I recently realised that I was privately boycotting GCLS. I did not even consider attending the conference, I deliberately left GCLS out of my awards applications, and I allowed my membership to lapse. I did these things for reasons I will explain below, but it was only over the last couple of weeks that I reminded myself that change only comes if requested.

    My private boycott will have precisely zero effect if I don’t raise my issues with GCLS with you and the board. And, I’d like to renew my GCLS membership and be a part of the organisation again. I go out of my way to help our writing community, I support many authors in terms of marketing and publishing advice. I am active in many online forums, running a couple myself. So, it makes sense for myself to be a part of the leading organisation for writers and readers in my community.

    My primary reason for discounting GCLS is one of language, I’m referring to the term “lesbian literature”. Myself, and many other authors and readers, find this term to be non-inclusive. I am a bisexual woman, married to a lesbian, and while I write novels about women who love women… many of them are not lesbians. They are bisexual or pansexual. Therefore the term lesbian does not apply to myself, nor to my books.

    GCLS is not the only organisation guilty of using lesbian as a catch-all term. My biggest online distributor, Amazon, does the same. To the point where I am forced to list my books under “lesbian romance” if I am to find any readers, as well as call myself a best selling lesbian romance author, even though I loathe this term as it is not accurate and not representative of myself, my books, nor the majority of my readers.

    But, I don’t expect a business such as Amazon to understand the subtle differences, the fact of the matter is that most of our genres aren’t even split by sexuality and are grouped in LGBT categories. Such is the way of big business, we are a very small cog in their working machinery. But, I would like for our leading organisation to represent me and other authors and readers like me who feel that the terms lesbian fiction, and lesfic, are now outdated.

    A replacement phrase is a difficult question to answer, many people feel very strongly about the choice of word used. Personally, I use F/F and WLW, and I know many are reclaiming the word queer. It’s something for debate, but I respectfully request that you do consider the matter and look at changing the term lesbian fiction to something more inclusive.

    I have conducted some research and have found that a number of authors and readers have allowed their memberships to lapse for similar reasons to mine. A lack of inclusivity with language as well as identifying a lack of diversity when it comes to ethnicity, as well as questions surrounding the awards process. Many authors with a younger fanbase, such as myself, don’t bother to mention GCLS to our readers due to the perceived negativity surrounding the organisation.

    Personally, I noticed a small improvement from 2017 to 2018 when it came to ethnic diversity, at least from the photographs I saw online. There was no longer a blanket of white faces, and I understand from your hiring of a Director of Inclusion this must be something you are aware of and trying to remedy.

    But, there is a very long way to go. There are many private discussions about GCLS being dated, and non-inclusive. I feel a change in language would help to demonstrate that GCLS is trying to make positive changes for the future. Indeed, the gesture of such a language change could generate a return of members which could lead to funding to drive forward further inclusivity changes.

    From my third-party position, I see that many people are boycotting GCLS for the reasons mentioned above. But I can also see that GCLS is trying to remedy some of these issues. The very people you are trying to make changes for, are the ones who continue to withhold their membership and stay away from the organisation. I have heard many accusations about the awards being given to the same names, both authors and publishing houses, but my response to that is—if we’re all boycotting GCLS, then, of course, the awards will go to the same people. If people boycott GCLS due to a lack of ethnic diversity, then, of course, it will be a sea of white faces.

    I hope you take my thoughts and suggestions into consideration. I passionately believe that a change in language would be a very public way of demonstrating that GCLS is committed to the future of our community, in all its shapes and sizes. And I would be pleased to renew my membership and encourage others to do the same if I see these changes taking place.

    Best regards,
    Amanda

    The way I saw it, one of three things could happen.
    1) I hear nothing. This would mean I tried, and I could continue my boycott in the knowledge that I tried to make a change.
    2) I’d hear back and they wouldn’t agree with my assessment or care to make any changes. Then I could again continue my boycott and know that I’d done something to highlight my issues.
    3) I’d hear back and they’d agree and be willing to make changes.

    Luckily, it was the third one. And more than that, they had already identified the issues and were well on their way to making changes. Here’s some of what Mary said to me in her reply:

    Language is indeed important. It is one of our primary goals to become a more inclusive organization and bringing on a Director of Inclusion was the first step. We needed someone dedicated to this both internally and externally. Cheryl is awesome in this directive making sure that we, as an organization, or becoming more inclusive as well as keeping up with the pulse of the community. The next step we took was to have a strategy planning session with the full board to review and revise our mission statement. We concur that language is important. That statement now reads:

    Mission: To increase the visibility and quality of lesbian-themed literature

    Our goals:

    1. Recognize and reward quality literary works about women who love women;
    2. Provide learning opportunities, encouragement and assistance to new and established writers in developing their craft;
    3. Provide opportunities to promote lesbian-themed literature including events that bring readers and writers together;
    4. Be inclusive of friends/supporters of literature that celebrates women who love women

    Another item we discussed at length is – GCLS does not determine how anyone identifies themselves. We accept all members who support our mission and goals regardless of identity.

    For me, the language change in the mission statement is a positive step forward. Yes, we still have that pesky “lesbian-themed” literature in there… but look at the women who love women language. And the acceptance of all members regardless of identity. This is more of an organisation I can support, I don’t feel like anyone will be left behind. And hiring a Director of Inclusion is another big step for GCLS, it means they have identified a problem and they are working towards solutions.

    Something else that Mary said, was about the awards:

    To reflect growing diversity, all GOLDIE categories include this in proposed judging guidelines:

    These books must include significant themes, characters, situations, and/or other content about lesbian, bisexual, queer, transgender, sexually fluid, asexual, and other women who are attracted to women.

    It does not matter how the author identifies.

    Now, this is a proposed change and I believe is being discussed to go live with a new brand identity and website that will launch later this year. But if this is the direction they head in, it’s great news.

    So, GCLS is doing their bit.

    Now it’s over to us.

    Yes, many people took a step away from GCLS over recent years. Unhappy with inclusivity issues, unhappy with awards procedures, unhappy with language usage. I understand that, I was one of those people. But now GCLS is trying to implement changes, they are trying to be what we want them to be. But they can only do that if we support them. The same old faces will win all the awards if they are the only ones applying for them. There won’t be any people of colour if none decide to attend.

    GCLS is making an effort to try to be the organisation we need them to be. But they will only succeed in that mission, and improve, if we join them and support them.

    So, I’m going to sign up for membership and pay to be a member, I’ll apply for an award, and maybe I’ll even go to the convention. Who’s going to join me?

    By the way… where is Pittsburgh?

  • LGBT+,  Lifestyle,  Personal,  Publishing

    A change of language…

    I’m making some changes to the language I use when talking about my books. Historically I have used the term “lesbian fiction” or “lesbian romance”. But, I’ve never been happy with those terms as they don’t feel very inclusive. For example, I am not a lesbian. I’m bisexual. And many of my characters are also bisexual, or pansexual, or something else entirely. Some have no label at all! I’m also aware that a lot of my readers don’t identify as lesbian either.

    So, while all of my books are about women who love women… lesbian fiction isn’t the right term for that. Therefore I have made some changes and tweaked the strapline on all of my books from “best selling lesbian romance author” to “best selling romance author”. I’ve also gone through my website and started to use the terms F/F and WLW wherever I can. Of course, I’ll still be listing my books under lesbian romance on Amazon and other distributors as there are no suitable alternatives.

    Now, please don’t fear, this doesn’t mean that I’m erasing lesbians. That would be a terrible idea as my wife is a lesbian and I’m rather fond of her. No, this is about using language that I feel is more inclusive and suits myself and my style of writing.

    I’m aware that WLW and F/F aren’t necessarily the best, most inclusive terms to use either. But, for now, they will suffice and I hope you understand the reasons for this change.