Soldiers, Artists, and Firefighters

Three more vlogs for your viewing pleasure:

Jaycie Morrison



Jaycie Morrison talks about the inspiration behind her herstory-packed first novel, Basic Training of the Heart. Click here for the scoop.






Charlotte Greene 

A Palette for Love


Charlotte Greene’s upcoming novel, A Palette for Love, is a steamy romp through the art world in New Orleans and you’re not going to want to miss this November release. Tune in here to meet Charlotte.




Emily Smith



Emily Smith’s experience in medicine lends an extra level of authenticity to her novels about first responders. Click here to listen in to our conversation about her latest work, After the Fire, a love story between an experienced EMT and a rookie firefighter.

Cops, Chefs, and Disc Jockeys

Three more vlogs for your viewing pleasure:

VK Powell

Lone RangerVK Powell stopped by to talk about her 2016 releases, Deception and Lone Ranger.
One of these fine reads was a story she wrote back in the day, but just recently rediscovered on her hard drive- crazy, right? Tune in here to hear all about these excellent stories and get a sneak peek at what she’s working on now.






Kris Bryant


Kris may not cook, but the main characters in her latest novel whip up gourmet creations for a living. Taste is sure to satisfy your appetite for a great story. Click here for the inside scoop.







CF Frizzell

NightVoiceCF, award-winning author of Stick McLaughlin and Exchange, uses her best sultry voice to give us a sneak peek of her upcoming release, Night Voice. Tune in here for the on-air update.


Hippies, Ballerinas, and Pilots!

Last week, loads of Bold Strokes Books authors descended on Provincetown, MA for panels, readings, and book signings during Women’s Week 2016. I managed to grab a few of them for a quick conversation about their current and upcoming work, and I’ll be posting these vlogs over the course of the next week. First up, MJ Williamz, Melissa Brayden, and Julie Tizard.

MJ Williamz

Known for erotic stories in a wide variety of interesting settings, MJ Williamz offers up Love on Liberty, a story of a 1960’s love child who falls for a Navy nurse. Click here to see MJ channel her inner love child.

Melissa Bradyen

Melissa Brayden’s last release is First Position, a tale of two rival ballet dancers. Click here to get the skinny on First Position and a preview of what Melissa’s working on now.

Julie Tizard

New Bold Strokes Books author Julie Tizard has flown planes for as long as she can remember, but The Road to Wings is her first novel. Available in 2017, you’re not going to want to miss this amazing story told by a veteran pilot. Fasten your seat belts and tune in here for the view from the cockpit.





Sam lollar


What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

I bet I’m typical of most fiction writers in that I never really decided to become one: I’ve always written fiction. As soon as I learned to write I began composing little stories that I would share with my school friends. The more important question for me is why I decided to try to get my fiction published. I have published numerous scholarly articles, but never fiction. A former therapist I saw for many years listened to me whine about how “I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” yet I never submitted anything for publication. He noted that when I felt that I had something to say, I would write for publication. I guess I finally feel like I have something to say.


What type of stories do you write?

My first novel is a coming-of-age tale. I’ve begun writing a second one that is also a coming-of-age story. I grew up in the 1960s—a turbulent time socially for the U.S. Homosexuality was still listed as a mental illness by both the American Psychological Assn and the American Psychiatric Assn; being homosexual would get one kicked out of the military with a dishonorable discharge. It was not a time to embrace one’s “otherness.” That struggle—the inward revulsion reflecting societal hatreds—scarred me for most of my life. Yet that struggle seems so distant today, as gay people celebrate the legal right to marry in the U.S. (and all the other ways being gay today is different from being gay in the 1960s). I feel that I have stories to tell that expose that grim reality that gay men and women endured in the 1960s.


What do your family/friends think about your writing?

My mom and dad used to think I was extremely creative and enjoyed showing my writing efforts (short stories and the like) to their friends and coworkers. If my parents were alive they would be delighted with my novel, but not surprised that I’ve finally gotten a novel published. Years ago I was a co-author of a textbook, my name prominently displayed on the cover. I gave my mom a copy of it. Imagine my (delighted) embarrassment when I picked her up at the doctor’s office one day, and she was carrying the book—the cover conspicuously in view. I asked her about it, and she said she just had to show it to everybody—in fact for several weeks, she carried it everywhere she went and showed it to anybody with a pulse! I wish she were here now to carry my novel around town! Most of my friends have died or scattered to the winds over the years, but I think they would enjoy seeing themselves reflected in my books (current and future).My surviving family is delighted that I have published my first novel.


Where do you get your ideas?

Where do any ideas come from? They come from my existence—from the difficulties I endured, the struggles of my friends (gay and straight), various news stories that caught my eye. I discovered that I can weave “real” events with fictional situations rather well. Much of the action that occurs in my first novel actually happened, just not quite in the way I have written it. When writing, it’s not uncommon for me to come to an impasse with my characters—they refuse to do what I want them to. hen I’ll think of something that happened to me (or that I read about) over the years, and I’ll try to put my recalcitrant characters into those situations. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.


How do you write: do you plan everything out or just write?

With my first novel, I started out writing vignettes. Each little tale stood alone. I was in a faculty writing group at the university where I taught in California when the ideas for Tallulah first popped up. I wrote one vignette and got favorable feedback from the writers’ group and continued to write little “mini-short stories.” After I shared three or four of these efforts, the writing group suggested that it would make a good novel, so I began stringing them together. The original vignettes that I wrote were based on real events; later in my efforts, I began to pull in events that I had read about or just dreamed up. Tallulah was just a conglomeration of ideas, a bit of a muddle at first. In fact I thought I had finished the book in 2010 when I went to a writers’ workshop in New Orleans. I was asked to submit the first two chapters when I signed up for the workshop and realized that I didn’t know for sure which chapters were the first or second ones! The instructor (author CJ Lyons) advised me that I needed to figure out how I wanted the story to start before I could continue with a logical story arc. With the input from Lyons and the other group members, the “finished novel” that I had brought to the workshop began to take shape. The real finished novel bears little resemblance to that earlier effort. Whole chapters have been rearranged, new characters were introduced, chapters were deleted, and the entire story line was extensively modified. That is not the way to write a novel! The second novel I’ve begun writing is more structured from the outset. I know who my characters are, I know the setting(s) of the tale, and I know the story arc of the main character (not surprisingly, a young man coming of age in the late 1960s).


What makes Tallulah Bankhead Slept Here special to you?

tallulah-bankhead-slept-hereI actually worked as a bellboy at a motel in my hometown, and a faded movie star really did stay several weeks at the motel, although I had almost no interaction with her. Many years later, at the writers’ group in California, I began to think that having a naïve teen interacting with a world-weary movie star would make a fun premise for a novel. Over the years I would pick up the pages I had written while in the group and either tear them up and start over, or fawn over them, thinking them to be the best work written in English. Sadly for me, mental illness overtook my life, and I couldn’t focus on writing for many years. Finally, I entered a period of mental stability from the late 1990s onward and was able to revisit the book I had begun so many years before. At one point I had saved the first draft on a 3.5 inch floppy disc, then deleted it from an old computer I threw out. I then managed to lose the floppy disc. Years later, as I was about to be evicted from an apartment, I packed up my meager belongings and moved in with a cherished lesbian friend. Once on my feet, I relocated to southern Louisiana; during the unpacking I discovered that lost floppy. I don’t believe in the supernatural or any such things, but it did seem like this was a “sign” for me not to give up. I reworked Tallulah and attended the writers’ workshop in New Orleans, then reworked the novel yet again. I thought I had finished the book and had saved it to a flash drive when my computer crashed. I figured everything was okay because I had the flash drive, but no sooner did I plug the flash drive into my new computer than I bumped into it and broke the damn thing in half. There was no way I could recover the material saved on the drive. So, once again, I started over. Happily I had a hard copy of an earlier draft and didn’t actually have to start from scratch. After all this drama, I decided to give it my best shot to get it published. I am pleased to see the results of these efforts. Mental stability and a published novel make for a happy author!


How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

Several of the characters in Tallulah are based on real people that I met while working at the motel. They would be virtually unrecognizable to anyone from that period, however, because I had to make them work together in ways they never did in real life for the novel to make sense. The main character is based on me (what a surprise!): the naïve teen working at a motel and interacting with the world-weary movie star. Most of the scandalous actions actually occurred to a friend of mine (Richard Luna, to whom the novel is dedicated). He was quite the little horn dog back then, and I was the somewhat envious, somewhat mortified observer. One of the characters is a television star with whom the main character has a sexual fling. Richard never told me who this TV star was that he cavorted with, just telling me that it was a gorgeous guy in a TV Western. So, it’s as much a mystery for me as it is for the readers—who was that star of TV Westerns who seduced a teenager in El Paso, Texas during the summer of 1967?


Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?

Actually three authors (two gay identified, one not) inspired me. I wanted to write a novel including a real, well-known (though deceased) movie star. I didn’t know how to do that without being sued by such an actor’s estate. Then I read Stewart Kaminsky’s detective series featuring Toby Peters. There is a string of about twenty books featuring all kinds of movie stars, from Joan Crawford to Mae West. I realized that I could have the movie star do anything as long as it was not indecent, illegal, or immoral .For instance, I learned that I couldn’t have Tallulah Bankhead sleeping with anybody—although I allude to her sadness at losing her sexual allure. So Tallulah is kind of the Yoda of my book: worldly, wise, “seen it all, done it all,” and acting as a stable rock around which the actions of the hapless protagonist revolves. I also wanted characters that were so real you just knew the author was writing verbatim about events that actually occurred. I don’t think anybody does this better than Felice Picano. When I read Like People in History I was convinced he was transcribing the events as they actually happened. I hope I have been able to get a bit of that “real-ness” into my book. The third element of the book that I wanted very much to include was a sort of breathless wonder that overcame the protagonist; the character is agog over all the events going on around him. And who better to capture that sense of amazing reality than Armistead Maupin? His Tales of the City series leaves me breathless as the characters engage in one amazing experience after another. I hope I’ve been able to achieve that wonderment to some extent.


Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

Write! I have come across two ideas from authors whose names I have forgotten: if you want to be an author you have to write! And “what do you call an author who won’t quit sending his/her efforts to agents and publishers? You call him ‘published.'”


When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

I read extensively (and intensively, come to think of it). I get as focused on the structure of the book as I do on the plotline: what words were used and could another word or phrase have been used instead? I am a slow reader because I absorb the writer’s technique as much as I absorb the story line. I enjoy jogging and hiking (especially in desert country).I also play with my two Shih Tzu puppies. Over the years I have lost so many friends, family members, and pets that I thought I’d not want to have any more pets. Then these two little guys came into my life. It’s hard to be blue and morose playing with them. Thanks for the opportunity to reflect on the “why” of writing my novel.

Women’s Week in Ptown

By Heather Blackmore

Tell Me Something Good panelists (L-R): Radclyffe, Aurora Rey (moderator), Melissa Brayden, KC Richardson, Tina Michele, Holly Stratimore, Heather Blackmore

Tell Me Something Good panelists (L-R): Radclyffe, Aurora Rey (moderator), Melissa Brayden, KC Richardson, Tina Michele, Holly Stratimore, Heather Blackmore

Under the Gun panelists (L-R): Carsen Taite, Ashley Bartlett, Ali Vali, Samantha Boyette, VK Powell, Sophia Kell Hagin

Under the Gun panelists (L-R): Carsen Taite, Ashley Bartlett, Ali Vali, Samantha Boyette, VK Powell, Sophia Kell Hagin

Women’s Week in Provincetown, MA is a celebration of all things lesbian. It happens annually around Columbus Day, this year October 10-16th. There’s music, comedy, art, films, local tours, LGBTQ information, author readings, theater events, get-togethers over food, sailing, sports, and wine, and more. And while there are plenty of organized offerings, it’s fun just to walk down the street. You bump into people you know. It’s a safe, welcoming, warm environment where LGBTQ people, especially lesbians, can simply be themselves.

It’s Getting Hot in Here (L-R): Melissa Brayden (moderator), Charlotte Greene, Maggie Cummings, Kris Bryant, Sandy Lowe, Fiona Riley, MJ Williams

It’s Getting Hot in Here (L-R): Melissa Brayden (moderator), Charlotte Greene, Maggie Cummings, Kris Bryant, Sandy Lowe, Fiona Riley, MJ Williamz


This was my second time at Women’s Week, and for readers, it offers an exciting array of choices. Bold Strokes Books put on a bunch of author events (more on that later). Bywater Books was there, Indie authors were there, Golden Crown Literary Society members were there, as well as others. The town swarmed with some of my favorite writers in the lesfic community, from everyone on the BSB list below, to non BSB authors such as Lynn Ames, Georgia Beers, KB Draper, and Rachel Spangler.


Badges, Stripes, and Medals book signing (L-R): Jessica L. Webb, KC Richardson, Jean Copeland, Emily Smith

Badges, Stripes, and Medals book signing (L-R): Jessica L. Webb, KC Richardson, Jean Copeland, Emily Smith

One of the things I love about lesfic is the massive choice we now have in genre selection. From short-stories to non-fiction, romance to erotica, historical fiction to the paranormal, science fiction to mysteries, young adult to romantic intrigue, there’s something for everyone. Author events at Women’s Week give us a chance to sample from these options, learn about new authors, and hear from veterans.



Another thing I love about Women’s Week is the camaraderie. I met a ton of authors and readers. From formal meet-and-greets to informal get-togethers over meals and drinks, these readers and authors are mostly just down-to-earth, nice, fun people. The established authors are generally gracious and warm, the newer ones are excited and nervous, and those in between are in turns chillax, giddy, anxious, or troublemaking. The whole week feels a bit like lesbian summer camp (except for bouts of chilly weather).





The reason for this blog is to encourage those of you who enjoy lesfic and are wondering what it would be like to attend Women’s Week, to try to make it up to Ptown for a few days next year. There really are dozens of daily events of all kinds, so you don’t have to spend all your days inside listening to readings and Q&A sessions. Ptown is gorgeous and Women’s Week has a lot to offer.


Emily Smith and Laydin Michaels

Emily Smith and Laydin Michaels


But when you do want to learn about new books or listen to or meet some of your favorite authors, Women’s Week provides plenty of opportunities for you to do so. This year, BSB put on 8 diverse panels and 4 Q&A sessions and brought 30 authors to Ptown. All events are free and there is no hard sell. Obviously BSB would love to sell books, but there’s zero pressure. As with the meet-and-greet I attended 2 years ago, this one also offered anyone with the slightest gumption to walk up to their favorite authors, introduce themselves, and chat. There is nothing intimidating about it, except for the usual hurdle some of us introverts experience in social situations!

Love is in the Air Q&A (L-R): Aurora Rey, CA Popovich, Fiona Riley, KC Richardson, Sandy Lowe (moderator), Kris Bryant

Love is in the Air Q&A (L-R): Aurora Rey, CA Popovich, Fiona Riley, KC Richardson, Sandy Lowe (moderator), Kris Bryant


If you haven’t seen the BSB schedule, here were the authors in attendance this year:

Ashley Bartlett, Heather Blackmore, Samantha Boyette, Melissa Brayden, Kris Bryant, Jean Copeland, Maggie Cummings, Jackie D, CF Frizzell, Charlotte Greene, Sophia Kell Hagin, Sandy Lowe, Laydin Michaels, Tina Michele, Jaycie Morrison, C.A. Popovich, VK Powell, Radclyffe, Aurora Rey, KC Richardson, Fiona Riley, Emily Smith, Holly Stratimore, Carsen Taite, TJ Thomas, Julie Tizard, M. Ullrich, Ali Vali, Jessica L. Webb, and MJ Williamz.

Sealed with a Kiss panelists (L-R): TJ Thomas (standing), Jean Copeland, Melissa Brayden, CF Frizzell, Aurora Rey, Maggie Cummings (moderator), CA Popovich

Sealed with a Kiss panelists (L-R): TJ Thomas (standing), Jean Copeland, Melissa Brayden, CF Frizzell, Aurora Rey, Maggie Cummings (moderator), CA Popovich


Obviously I can’t guarantee what next year’s lineup will be, but I’d love to plant the seed for you to consider taking a few days off next year to experience a delightful getaway at Women’s Week in Ptown.


Bold Strokes Books Author Interview with Jaycie Morrison

by Connie Ward


What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

I’ve always wanted to write, but when I was younger all I could manage was bad poetry. Then, you know, life happened and I put all that aside. About five years ago I lucked into a combination of circumstances—a kind of perfect storm of opportunity and inspiration. I retired from the full-time job I’d had for thirty-plus years, so the time and energy were there. A few months later I attended a marvelous weekend at a women’s music camp, where I gave myself permission to open up that creative box in my head and see what came out. And when I had a (most uncommon) period of time alone in the mountains of Colorado, the story presented itself to me in that quiet solitude. Now since I’ve started writing, I haven’t been able to stop.

What type of stories do you write?  And why?

basic-training-of-the-heartMy debut novel, Basic Training of the Heart, is a historical romance. It is the first in a series, which seems appropriate to me, since I’ve always viewed history as a really long story. As to the why, I think it’s important for us in the LGBTQ community to be aware of the tremendous courage of those who came before us. In today’s connected world, it might be hard to imagine the isolation that many of these folks experienced, but if you read their stories, you hear over and over again, “I thought I was the only one who felt that way.” I chose World War II because the contrasts of the period are fascinating. Even though it was a time of death and destruction on an unimaginable scale, socially, it was also an unprecedented period of opportunity for women and, to a lesser extent, minorities. For the most part, the country was strongly unified in a way that we might find hard to believe, but civil rights were deeply curtailed, and individuals willingly sacrificed in ways hard to envision today. Maybe that’s why I ended up with such dissimilar characters.

I do have a murder mystery in my mind and would love to try my hand at sci-fi someday.

What do your family/friends think about your writing?

My wife has been incredibly patient as I played with my imaginary friends until the wee hours on more than one occasion. She’s always been willing to listen as I babble on about some plot issue and has started assuming that when I get really quiet I’m probably running dialogue in my head. Two of my long-time friends were my first beta readers, and without their encouragement I would never have submitted my book to Bold Strokes. One advantage of having stayed in the same place for so many years is that I am fortunate to have a really special, tight group of friends who have been absolutely wonderful. My mom is a former librarian, and she’s also been very supportive, although I think she secretly wishes I were a little more “mainstream” so she could brag to her friends. My only sibling is a younger sister who is much more conservative, but whatever we may disagree on, we know we love each other, and that’s the most important thing. I’m giving both of them a book this weekend, so we’ll see…

Where do you get your ideas?

I didn’t try to write fiction before because I wasn’t confident that I had a compelling story to tell. But one night in Colorado, the characters and a very broad arc of a long story, of which Basic Training of the Heart is the first part, came to me in a dream. I remember seeing something about the WACs on the Internet the previous evening, but beyond that, the plot and characters just came from my subconscious. Since then I’ve often found that I solve problems in my writing or come up with that perfect line of dialogue just before I actually wake up. The challenge is to remember all those great ideas.

How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

When I start out each day, I have a vague destination in mind, but nothing I’d really call a plan. I mostly just try to get into the characters’ heads and let them tell me the story. I can recall at least once, though, that I had to back them out of someplace they’d gotten themselves into and re-direct. Later, when I edit, I try to be more sequential and make sure that when I said “the next day” it wasn’t actually two weeks later.

What makes Basic Training of the Heart special to you?

Besides the fact that it’s my first—and you always remember your first, right?—I so much admire women who have served and are serving in the military. The barrier-breakers bring us all along with them, don’t they? I also tremendously respect the Native American community and their attitudes toward the earth and their place on it. It’s hard to imagine a group of people treated worse by our government, yet they’ve survived and continue to lead in many ways. What’s happening right now at Standing Rock is absolutely inspirational.

How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

Initially, I identified more with Rains—solid, steady, somewhat stoic—but my wife tells me that when we met, I flirted with her exactly the way Bett flirts. I definitely use parts of people’s personalities when I write other characters. This is especially therapeutic when you’re mad at someone and you write them as a villain. But I haven’t killed anyone…yet.

Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?

The first lesbian fiction I remember reading was I am a Woman by Ann Bannon—one of the Beebo Brinker Chronicles. (I think I was in my mid-teens, as I recall being both shocked and delighted.) But Katherine V. Forrest’s An Emergence of Green really resonated with me and gave me a much more positive sense of self later in my coming-out process. Today there are so many remarkable lesbian writers, and they all inspire me.

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

When I first started writing what became Basic Training of the Heart, I had the luxury of working on it for several hours every day. During that time, I didn’t read much—especially anything that was close to my genre. I didn’t watch many movies or TV shows either, until I was sure I could recognize my characters’ voices above the daily clatter of the world and that I could reliably find my pacing as the author each day. I’m not saying that everyone needs to do that, but it certainly helped me. And just at the point where I was about to let someone else read my work for the first time, I went to a workshop where I came away thinking that I had done a great many things wrong. I was pretty depressed for a couple of days, but then my rebellious side took over, and I decided that the things I liked about my story were more important than someone else’s guidelines. So I’d advise new writers to strive to be authentic and let everything else fall into place on its own. Don’t give up and don’t force yourself into someone else’s mold. You will compromise down the line, but if you do the work with passion, you’ll please yourself.

When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

I like to play guitar and sing harmony. I have an ATV and get to appreciate the beautiful Colorado countryside when I ride. I enjoy cooking when I have the time to play with new recipes. And of course, I love to read.


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