Thursday, October 19, 2017

Depicting the end of patriarchy - one book at a time.

I published RISE about a year ago, The Exodus Strategy just last month, but they weren't written in that order. The premise is a similar one - what would a society look like without inequality and bigotry, and how can we get there? Could anyone help speed up the progress? Both stories deal with real life issues. The assumption in the Exodus Strategy is that humans could be able to get it right eventually, which makes it more of a utopia.
RISE plays with the idea that we need a little more help from a different kind of friends, with powers that go far beyond the human. It also suggests that female shifters, vampires, angels and such would side with human women, to end patriarchy once and for all. Not paranormal creatures against humans. Not men against women--just decency against bigotry, and this time, the former has to win. RISE is an urban fantasy I wrote when I wasn't so sure most humans are even motivated to advance society that far. After all, the knowledge of the cost of inequality has been out there for a long time.
Due to some logistic issues, The Exodus Strategy couldn't be released until recently, but it's more timely than ever.
  
smarturl.it/TheExodusStrategy


One of the books that has haunted me the most, and continues to do so thanks to a brilliant TV show, is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. It's infuriating and terrifying, and if you look at global politics and trends, it's not at all that unrealistic. According to a UN report in 2015, no country in the world has achieved 100% equality. Not one. With all the information that is available, it's quite shameful that we're still lagging behind.

So I took my fear and my anger, and wrote this book about a group of friends, one lesbian couple, and a straight one, who decide, enough. They intend to start over, with friends, families and employees, and start a better society from scratch, choice, marriage equality, no tolerance for bigotry. Exodus becomes a physical place as well as a philosophy, a way of life. Implementing those changes proves to be more challenging than they could have ever imagined, and they work against a fierce opposition.

smarturl.it/RiseBW


RISE, on the other hand...this was an experiment, one I'm happy I started. I had never been such a huge fan of urban fantasy and characters that weren't all human. For the longest time I thought problems had to be solved in the contemporary, by humans. At some point I got so frustrated looking at history, and politics, and the regular in-fighting of people who are generally on the right side of both, that I wanted a time-out. You can argue about how much of a time-out this actually was, with subjects of misogyny addressed as well, but...It's different. I realized what the pull of fantasy is. Humans have to compromise all the time to get ahead, wait, make detours. This was more like a superhero movie, where the characters come equipped with special characteristics like wings and fangs. Yes, human laws are important, accountability is important, but what if humans are simply too slow?

Both of those stories matter to me a great deal, and I think they both fit into my general concept of women loving women taking the lead. Kerry and Vivien in The Exodus Strategy, and Madina and Daphne in RISE. All my characters do what they can, but I enjoyed to imagine, just for a moment, what would happen if the good had resources at their disposal that go far beyond the usual.
Like a billion-dollar company. Like superhuman strength. And patriarchy would be gone for good, someday sooner than we can currently hope for.

If we can imagine it, it can become true.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wednesday Women: Cam and Michelle by Claire Highton-Stevenson



Another Wednesday is here - meet Cam and Michelle, the leading ladies of Claire Highton-Stevenson's novel Out:



I used to have a job driving around the UK in my van delivering blood to hospitals, and I'd spend a lot of time in traffic jams or waiting around. In those moments my mind would wander, and what started off as thoughts about what I would do in certain situations slowly developed into characters that, over time, came to fruition in Camryn and Michelle.

Cam Thomas is a down-to-earth, easy-going Brit from South London. She's tall, blonde, and with her ice blue eyes she certainly makes heads turn, but it isn't until her life is turned upside down that she really finds herself. She is pretty resilient and though she might wallow for a few days, she isn't the kind of woman that just falls apart.

When her life restarts in LA, she finds herself surrounded by people and opportunities that give her a new perspective on who she is, but she has one rule: not to fall in love again.
Her situation has left her guarded and a little afraid, yet she is the most loyal and loving woman anyone would want to meet. Of course, nobody is perfect, and Cam certainly has her issues when it comes to love and relationships. She also has a big thing about taking her clothes off when she's angry! Haha, you'll have to read the book to find out why!

A lot of people assume the title of the book means it’s a coming out story; it's not. Out is the name of the bar Cam owns. It's where she meets Michelle.

Michelle Hamilton is beautiful: raven-haired with deep chocolate-brown eyes. She's confident, driven, and sexy. Known to the world as Shelly Hamlin, she ventures into the bar one night in disguise with the intention of just looking. She has spent her entire life pretending she's straight and not acting on her feelings in order to further her career as an actress, but recently something has been niggling at her that there is more to life. So, she has her own fears and limitations to deal with too.

When she meets Camryn there are sparks between them that neither can deny, and the internal battles that each of them faces produce a scenario that could end it all before it even begins.

Of course, no lesbian romance story is an easy path to happiness, right? But, I do love a happy ending! And the sequel is out in November! 




Website
www.itsclastevofficial.co.uk
Amazon
https://www.amazon.co.uk/OUT-Camryn-Thomas-Claire-Highton-Stevenson-ebook/dp/B074CQ9554/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1507541261&sr=1-2&refinements=p_27%3AClaire+Highton-Stevenson
Twitter
https://twitter.com/ClaStevOfficial
Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/ItsClaStevWriter/

Friday, October 13, 2017

Redis-Cover Open Spaces

Open Spaces came out at the end of June as planned, but at the same time, some other, big, unexpected things happened. I went for my citizenship test at the beginning of June (we had thought it might happen next year). Since we had already booked a trip to visit family in Germany, I needed to get my new passport ASAP, and then there was some more paperwork and travel preparations. The actual trip.

 I feel like I haven't given Lauren and Summer the space they deserve, so...I'm going to change that.

Open Spaces got a new cover.

smarturl.it/OpenSpacesBW



Something someone said in a conversation some months ago, stuck with me. Readers should be able to derive from the cover what the story is all about, and while cover #1 was done with that in mind, I realized the focus could be more accurate. So here they are.

I love to play with themes that some people say are overdone - in my opinion, there's no such thing, and it all depends on how you tell the story. Lauren and Summer start off with a one-night-stand, and for a short time, everything is easy before it gets complicated. Is it even possible to have a relationship out of a quick unexpected encounter? What if two people who are madly attracted to each other, find out they lead very different lives in the light of day? The two of them will venture into these open spaces, but there are no guarantees for anyone.

If you want more stories where women loving women always take the lead, check out
www.amazon.com/author/barbarawinkes

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wednesday Women : Maiah Reyes and Eleanor Simpson by Wendy Arthur



Today, Wendy Arthur joins me at the Wednesday Women table with her leading ladies Maiah and Eleanor. Welcome!

* * *


I hadn’t really thought about writing a novel before, but after the success of my online fan-fiction series (still ongoing), I decided that a different story might be a refreshing change of pace.

I wanted to write a book that would challenge perceptions and alleviate stereotypes, a story that would show the reader that love could be possible between two very different people from completely different backgrounds. That’s where Maiah Reyes and Eleanor Simpson come in.

Maiah was an abused child who made the decision to run away when she had the chance - Eleanor was doted upon and loved deeply. Maiah has no home and no money - Eleanor is a workaholic and is very well off.

With regards to her childhood, I wondered if Maiah would see her escape as a road to freedom where she could feel no more pain and make her own choices. I wanted to find out if she would ever come out of hiding when she finally saw someone who felt like a safe place for her. I also tried to explore how a stranger might see her, as the stereotypical wild woman who surely couldn’t speak or have any knowledge of the world. These are a few of the things I decided to challenge in the book, which is also a tale of love and mutual discovery for both leading ladies.

I did get a few reviews about how a child from the wilderness would react and cope as an adult brought back into civilization. They said my story was too far-fetched, or Maiah would have had so many more problems. Maiah did have issues, but perhaps another book is needed to expand on them as she begins to interact more with society. In my mind, it is a work of fiction that can be what I want it to be, and when I researched the few real-life instances of ‘wild children’, I could not find any records where the child was an intelligent, nine-year-old who chose to stay away from people for so long. Who knows how she would deal with reintegration?

So, I decided to write at least the first part of Maiah’s journey. The book cover was also a deliberate choice, as it was where her entire story began.



In the prologue of To Die For, there is a glimpse into the childhoods of Maiah and Eleanor. The stark contrast in both lives continues on throughout the book, including chapter one when Eleanor’s life as an adult has met, and quite possibly exceeded, her father’s expectations. When he finds out he is ill, he re-evaluates everything and realizes what he has done to his daughter. And even though it is nothing bad, she is still all business, working for him and living the life he lived. She knows nothing else. With that in mind, he sends her off on a wilderness camping trip with her friend in the hopes that she will ask herself what she truly wants in her heart. There, Eleanor catches sight of a woman on her last vacation day. She decides she has imagined it, but later on, she returns to the same place as she cannot shake her curiosity about the vision she saw, or the feeling it invoked.  She confirms that it was not a vision, and when Maiah reveals herself once more, an unlikely bond is tentatively formed. Life is about to change for both of them, bringing pain and happiness, fear and safety, and ultimately, self discovery.

I hope you will enjoy reading the book and challenging your perception of who you think Maiah is. All the ‘stereotypes’ are there, but they might not be what you expected.





Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wednesday Women: Holly & Leo by Jae



It's been a while, but this October will be filled with new Wednesday Women blogs! This week, we'll hear from Holly & Leo, the leading ladies of Jae's new novel Perfect Rhythm. Thanks for stopping by!
 
Wednesday Women: Holly & Leo from Perfect Rhythm by Jae


I believe that my readers know and appreciate me for my slow-burn romances. My characters don’t usually jump into bed with each other on page 2. They take the time to get to know each other, find out unexpected things about each other that make them view the other in a different light, and really build a relationship that will last “happily ever after.”

Holly Drummond and Leontyne “Leo” Blake, the leading ladies in my newest book, Perfect Rhythm, aren’t any different. It’s certainly not love at first sight between them. When Leo returns home to spend time with her ailing father, she meets his nurse, Holly, who seems to represent everything Leo left behind when she left her tiny hometown in Missouri to become a pop star. And Leo at first seems like a spoiled celebrity to Holly.

As Holly and Leo get to know each other better, and they realize how wrong that first impression was. Between trips to the local bakery, late-night conversations up on the roof, and a date at the vet’s office, they slowly fall in love.

But Holly is a little different from my usual main characters in that she is asexual—she’s romantically drawn to women, but the sexual attraction isn’t there for her. She has nothing against sex; she just doesn’t desire it. That’s why she has stayed away from the minefield of expectations that usually comes with relationships—until she meets Leo.

Together, they discover that it’s possible to find the perfect rhythm—and a happy ending—between two very different people.

So, in the end, Perfect Rhythm isn’t so different after all. If you like my other romance novels, I think you’ll love Leo and Holly’s story.

Here’s a short excerpt:


Holly lay with her eyes open, listening to Leo’s breathing. If one of them turned around in her sleep during the night, they’d practically be on top of each other.
“Holly?” Leo’s voice broke the silence. The mattress shifted as she rolled over, onto her other side. “C-can I…?” Her hand tentatively brushed Holly’s shoulder blade.
Instead of answering, Holly rolled onto her back and opened her arms.
Leo cuddled up immediately, one arm wrapped around Holly’s middle. She fit her face into the curve of Holly’s neck. Her hair fanned out across Holly’s shoulder and tickled her skin.
“Your heart is pounding,” Leo whispered into the darkness. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Besides, this is about making sure you are okay.” She tried to make out Leo’s features in the pale moonlight. “Are you?”
When Leo sighed, her breath washed over Holly’s neck, making her heart beat even faster. “I will be.” She shifted a little closer still, nestled their bodies together, and carefully settled her leg across Holly’s thighs.
As different as they were—Leo tall and slim, Holly curvy and shorter—they fit against each other perfectly. It was a completely new and yet strangely familiar feeling.
Leo hummed against her neck. “God, Holly. You have no idea how good this feels.”
“It feels really good to me too.”
“It does?” Leo asked quietly.
Holly nodded. “Oh yeah.”
“Good. I don’t want this to be just about what I need.”
Wow. How could she have ever thought Leo was a spoiled, egocentric superstar? She slid her fingers into Leo’s slightly wavy hair and started to caress her scalp.
Leo let out a sound that resembled a purr. Her eyes fell closed, her lashes fluttering like the wings of a butterfly against Holly’s skin.
Holly tightened her hold. She wanted to hug this moment close forever. How could anyone think that anything could be more intimate than this?

If you’d like to read more, Perfect Rhythm is available here:


Social Media Links



Bio:
Jae is the author of sixteen award-winning lesbian romances. She lives in the sunniest city of Germany, near the French and Swiss borders. The writing bug bit her at the age of eleven.
She used to work as a psychologist but gave up her day job in 2013 to become a full-time writer and a part-time editor. As far as she’s concerned, it’s the best job in the world.
When she’s not writing, she is an avid reader of lesbian books, indulges her ice cream and office supply addictions, and watches way too many crime shows.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Exodus Strategy: In depth

These days, many people say they're tired of politics, and they want their fiction to be an escape. So it's a bit of a hazard to publish a fictional story that dives right into politics. On September 8th, you can make up your own mind about The Exodus Strategy.

(Now available for pre-order! smarturl.it/TheExodusStrategy)

I believe that we are dealing with politics every moment of our lives, that there is no way to get away from it...and that it's important to show who we are. Authors are often cautioned to avoid the subject, but in my opinion, your point of view will be visible between the lines.

The Exodus Strategy is a story about women, about love, friendship and solidarity--and the obstacles that arise when you try to change society to the fairer.

In college, Kerry and Hilary wrote a paper detailing that society. The fictional goal was to find a location that suited their needs best, and to start over to teach equality and education over ignorance and stereotypes. Years later, the two women are still friends, but their lives are vastly different: Kerry has just bought a house with her fiancée, and the two of them are planning to have a baby. Kerry's career is about to take off, and they could be happy with their lives if it wasn't for the outcome of their State's election: The new Governor promised a drastic rollback of women's and LGBT rights in his campaign, and now elected, he's delivering. Even with the number of privileges that Kerry and Vivien enjoy, it's only a matter of time before the barrage of new laws affects them too, and those privileges could be a thing of the past for them simply because of gender and sexual orientation.

Hilary runs a multi-billion dollar company with her husband Marc. They, too, are appalled at what's happening, and they are willing to spend a lot of money on damage control. Hilary suggests to Kerry that they start to make a decade-long dream reality: Exodus, a society built on fairness and equality. In the process, Hilary and Marc will move the headquarters of their company to California, the real-life place of Exodus.
For Kerry and Vivien who have social and financial ties to the local community, this is no easy decision. To give up what they know for what so far, is merely a utopia?

Then again, this could be the chance to teach, to live and lead by example. Needless to say, they face strong opposition, and along the way, they still have a lot to learn - including from one another.




Sunday, July 23, 2017

Open Spaces 99cts sale & Cover Reveal: The Exodus Strategy.

Open Spaces

smarturl.it/OpenSpacesBW

I'm officially off for the summer...and why shouldn't you get something out of it? Open Spaces is now on sale for 99cts only, until Aug. 23rd, everywhere on Amazon. It's a sexy romantic read perfect for vacation. I hope you enjoy Lauren and Summer's story, and come back when in the fall, it will be the release of something entirely different:


The Exodus Strategy (coming September 8th)


An old college paper...a disastrous election result and the consequences...
A little California Dreamin' and the determination to change the world.

Meet Kerry Rivers, Vivien Collins, Hilary and Marc Greene.

Change is coming.





In college, Kerry Rivers wrote a much discussed paper with her friend Hilary, on how to make the world fairer and more equal. In the present, after a State’s election, the winner wants to turn back time and undo rights gained by women and the LGBT community. Hilary, now married and the owner of a billion dollar company, thinks it’s time to act and make their utopia, Exodus, a reality.
But can you really start a society from scratch? And is the promise enough for Kerry to leave behind her career and home?
A number of laws enacted by the new government leave Kerry and her partner Vivien no choice. Together with their friends Hilary and Marc, they embark on a once in a lifetime journey that will come with setbacks and victories, joy and tears.