Tag Archives: writing

Lesbian Books, Baby!

I’m still reeling from the amazing experience of Women’s Week in Provincetown, or as I now think of it, the Provincetown Lesbian Literary Festival. There were so many book-related events all over town, you couldn’t possibly attend them all: panel discussions, readings, signings, lectures, parties, workshops. (Although I certainly did my best!)

Sometimes Only a Book Will Do

Books have been known to inspire strong feelings

And wherever I went, I had the same reaction every time: how fabulous it was to be in a room full of people who were all there because we were excited about books in general and lesbian fiction in particular (especially in contrast to the way I felt not so many years ago when feminist, queer, and other independent bookstores were disappearing right and left, publishers were shutting down, and things seemed very bleak),

All week long, what I heard over and over from participants—presenters and audience members, readers, writers, and publishers—was passion. Delight in the joy that well-told stories can give, gratitude for the effect that books have had on our lives, and dedication to creating the best literature we possibly can and ensuring that it reaches potential readers far and wide.

Books have shaped me, comforted me, instructed me, brought me pleasure and inspiration throughout my life. I am proud and honored that as a writer I am able to contribute to something I love so much. And after spending a week immersed in so many wonderful presentations and discussions, I am excited and hopeful indeed about the future of lesbian literature.

Women’s Week in Provincetown: I’ll Be There All Week [Try the (Humane or Vegan) Veal]

I really will be in Provincetown for all of Women’s Week, and I’m very, very (times lots more veries) excited. I’ll be participating in several of the events sponsored by Bold Strokes Books, so if you’re going to be in town, come on by!

Monday, October 12: Signing at Recovering Hearts (2 pm)

I’ll be joining other Bold Strokes Authors (Radclyffe, Dena Hankins, Missouri Vaun, Franci McMahon, and Laydin Michaels) at Recovering Hearts bookstore at 4 Standish Street.

Wednesday, October 14: Reading at Gabriel’s (1 pm)

I’ll be reading (my first ever!) as part of the BSB panel “It’s a Zoo in Here: Four-Legged Heroes,” moderated by Barbara Ann Wright.  Also on the panel will be D. Jackson Leigh, Franci McMahon, C.A. Popovich, Radclyffe, and Dena Hankins. Gabriel’s is located at 102 Bradford Street.

Wednesday, October 14: (Another) Reading at Gabriel’s (2 pm)

I’ll be doing my second reading ever right after my first reading ever, as part of the BSB panel “Chatty Cathy: Readings with Great Dialogue,” moderated by Kris Bryant. The panel will also feature Missouri Vaun, Justine Saracen, MJ Williamz, C. F. Frizzell, and Sophia Kell Hagin. (Gabriel’s, 102 Bradford Street).

Wednesday, October 14: Signing at Recovering Hearts (3:15 AND 4 pm)

My fellow panelists and I will be signing at Recovering Hearts (4 Standish Street) at 3:15 (Four-Legged Heroes) and 4:00 (Readings with Great Dialogue).

Thursday, October 15: Bold Strokes Books Meet & Greet (5 to 7 pm)

Join me (and lots of other BSB authors) at the Harbor Lounge (359 Commercial Street). Stop by, chat, schmooze, mingle, hang out, do the snack and beverage thing.

Saturday, October 17: Reading at the Library (2 pm)

I’ll be doing a reading as part of the panel “Knock, Knock…Who’s There? Readings That Define the Author’s Voice,” moderated by Dena Hankins, along with Franci McMahon, Ali Vali, Justine Saracen, Melissa Brayden, and Missouri Vaun. We’ll be at the Provincetown Public Library (356 Commercial Street).

Saturday, October 17: Signing at Recovering Hearts (4 pm)

All the panelists from “Readings That Define the Author’s Voice”—me included—will be signing at Recovering Hearts (4 Standish Street).

All Week Long: Lots & Lots of BSB Events

  • Author Q & A/Panel discussions
    • Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday @ 10 in the Library
  • Readings
    • Wednesday & Thursday @ 1 (Gabriel’s)
    • Wednesday & Thursday @ 2 (Gabriel’s)
    • Friday & Saturday @ 1 (Library)
    • Friday & Saturday @ 2 (Library)
  • Signings at Recovering Hearts
    • Monday @ 2
    • Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday @ 3:15
    • Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday @ 4

Plus Everything Else Going on at Women’s Week

  • Music, comedy, theater, workshops, films, dances, etc., etc., etc.
  • Check the Women’s Week website for the schedule

Y’all Come!



(Re)Discoveries: The Secret Rooms

I recently picked up a copy of The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey, and I’m glad I did. The cover offers “a true story of a haunted castle, a plotting duchess, and a family secret.” How could I resist?

The Secret Rooms lives up to its promises. It is vividly written and allows the mystery to unfold gradually, building suspense as effectively as a work of fiction.

Strange Doingssecret rooms cover

The book opens in 1940, describing the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of John Manners, the 9th Duke of Rutland (a prominent member of the aristocracy that in those days still had a powerful—though declining—role in English society). Servants whisper in dark passages. The ailing duke shuts himself away, refusing to see a doctor until it is too late. After his burial, someone breaks into the castle in the dead of night. There is talk of curses and hauntings. Much is implied, but little is revealed. Of course, I was hooked.

Curiouser and Curiouser

Belvoir Castel, ancestral home of the Dukes of Rutland

Belvoir Castle, ancestral home of the Dukes of Rutland

The second part of the book describes the author’s first visit to the castle. She had been granted the rare opportunity to examine historical documents stored in the former duke’s forbidden rooms. Once there, she discovered that the material she needed had vanished—and appeared to have been deliberately removed. Her attempt to uncover the truth about what had happened is the focus of the rest of the book.

The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually

So what does she find out? No spoilers, but I will say that the answers turn out to be both terrible and deeply moving, and the satisfaction of accompanying the author as she tracks down the solution makes it worth the wait. If you enjoy history, detective stories, family drama, or just a well-written, suspenseful book, read The Secret Rooms.

Bottom line: 5 Stars (5 / 5)

[p.s. File this under art imitates life, or deja vu all over again, or something: As I read The Secret Rooms, I found myself feeling inspired as a writer. The idea of a modern scholar searching the nooks and crannies of a historic home and sifting through old papers to solve a mystery involving people from a bygone era fired my imagination. This would be a great basis for a novel, I thought. I should write about it. Then I realized I already had.]

Addendum: I couldn’t resist writing about the secret, so here goes:

When I started reading The Secret Rooms, I thought the book would feature the sort of scandalous goings on that are fun to consider when time has sufficiently distanced us from the human suffering involved—say, the involvement of Mary, Queen of Scots, in her husband’s murder, or who all Byron slept with. I didn’t expect to be infuriated and saddened, but I was. Continue Reading (Caution: Spoilers!)

Reviews of Romance by the Book

I’m very pleased to share not one, but two very complimentary reviews of my new novel. I’ll be standing over there blushing modestly while you read them.

Review from smlowry.com

Review from imjustbooking.blogspot.co.uk



Book Signing in Provincetown Friday 7/3/2015

View of Provincetown, Massachusetts from harbor

The most beautiful place on earth (Provincetown, Massachusetts, of course). Photo by Argos’Dad [Creative Commons Share-Alike, via Wikimedia Commons]

My very first book signing will be at Recovering Hearts Bookstore in Provincetown, Massachusetts on Friday, July 3rd, at 2:00 p.m. I’ll be signing copies of my new novel Romance by the Book. Joining me will be fellow Bold Strokes Books authors Emily Smith and C.F. Frizzell.

Recovering Hearts is located at 4 Standish Street (just north of the Commercial Street intersection where the police direct traffic to and from MacMillan Wharf).

If you’re in town, stop by and say hi. And maybe buy a book. Heck, buy lots of books.

But definitely say hi.

The Women of My Dreams: Alex, Artemisia, Anne, and Helena (Guest Blog)

I am guest blogging today on the Bold Strokes Books Authors’ Blog. https://boldstrokesbooksauthors.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/the-women-of-my-dreams-alex-artemisia-anne-and-helena/

In the blog I discuss Anne Lister, a real-life Regency lesbian who in part inspired the character of Artemisia in my novel Romance by the Book. However, I’m mainly paying homage to the fabulous, amazing Helena Whitbread, the scholar to whom a lot of people (myself included) owe a huge debt of gratitude for editing and publishing Anne Lister’s diaries.  Over 6,000 pages of teeny-tiny writing intermixed with secret code, and from this morass Ms. Whitbread has crafted engaging, informative books that bring Lister’s words and deeds to vivid life. Apparently she’s now working on a biography of Lister, and I for one can’t wait.

Newsflash: Romance by the Book Now Available

"Jo Victor's latest romance novel is great," said Jo Victor in an exclusive interview with jovictor.com

“Jo Victor’s latest novel is great,” said Jo Victor in an exclusive interview with jovictor.com

Romance by the Book is NOW available for purchase from the Bold Strokes Books webstore. You—yes, you!—can now get your (virtual) hands on the ebook or your (actual) hands on the paperback. [Maybe you should get both kinds. Life is so uncertain.] People all over my house are super excited about my brand new novel, and now you can be, too! Don’t delay—supplies are limited. [Actually, they aren’t…yet. Then again, why risk it?]


I Got a Little Carried Away Teaching

Dear world, I am back.

Somehow or other, 2014 disappeared on me, or I disappeared on it, at least in terms of this website. So what happened? Teaching happened (And my second novel happened; more on that another time.)

When I first started teaching, a colleague told me, “Teaching will eat you alive, if you let it.”

zombie food pyramid

It does, and it did, especially this year.

Not in a “zombies ate my brain” way (although some days it feels exactly like that), but in an “I’ll just finish one more thing and then I’ll definitely [go home/turn off the computer/go to bed/whatever]” way. And then when you look back at the clock it’s absurdly late and you never did stop, did you? But you still have to get up at Oh, my God o’clock and do it all over again.

And no, this isn’t a “Woe is me, teachers have it so tough” rant. Because, as my colleague pointed out, we do this to ourselves. Nobody is making us put in extra time improving our lessons or trying to figure out how best to help a particular student. We pour our time and effort into teaching, despite whatever it may cost in terms of our own well-being, because it’s what we want to do.

Notice how the 2 students in front are too busy texting each other to listen to the teacher? Plus ca change... [School of Athens (detail), Raphael, 1509]

Notice how the 2 students in front are too busy texting each other to listen to the teacher? Plus ça change… [School of Athens (detail), Raphael, 1509]

Believe me, these days no one is teaching unless they have to. For some, of course, the necessity is primarily economic (I confess that I, too, enjoy receiving a paycheck). However, I believe that most of us are motivated by the need to teach, the need to offer our knowledge and skills to help our students learn and grow and thrive. We need to teach the way some people need to paint, or dance, or compose, or follow any other path.

[Full disclosure: I also have lousy time management skills. Lots of dedicated teachers don’t get eaten alive because they figure out how to get and stay organized and how to balance teaching with everything else in their lives. I’m still working on it. And always will be, I suspect.]

Banishing the Ghost of Xmas Letters Past (I ♥ Facebook)

For the longest time I carefully avoided Facebook (and every other version of social media). I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but now that I’ve been on Facebook for a month, I’m definitely having fun.

Do You Hear the People Snore? 

I was of course a little leery about the whole privacy thing, but my main concern had to do with what to post. After all, the point of being on Facebook is to interact with people by sharing about yourself, and while the details of my life are endlessly fascinating to me, I had a hard time imagining that they would be quite so enthralling to others.

What on earth could I post about? Offering regular “and then I scrubbed the bathtub”-type updates didn’t seem like a good idea. (Or maybe I’m thinking of how to be boring on Twitter. Anyway.)

Even if I managed to ramp things up a bit (“Sitting in the kitchen eating madeleines and trying to remember why I never got around to reading Proust”), I would then be in danger of something much, much worse…the dreaded “Christmas Letter” effect.

Christoalphabetaphobia (Fear of Xmas Letters)

The Last of the Spirits (from A Christmas Carol), John Leech, 1843 (cropped)

The Heartbreak of Christoalphabetaphobia (The Last of the Spirits, John Leech, 1843)

For those of you lucky enough never to have seen one of these concoctions, here’s a sampling of what you missed:

 Dear Everybody,

                Once again we’ve had a fabulous year. Fifi graduated summa cum laude from obedience school. Pat got another promotion (which makes three in eighteen months). Since I’ve been spending so much time raising all that money for Save the Ferrets, I’ve cut back to only five days a week at my ice sculpting studio.

And so on and relentlessly on for an entire page (or worse, two pages), single spaced (extra points for using a background in a shade of green or red so dark the words can barely be read).

Needless to say, not the sort of thing I’m anxious to inflict on others, even accidentally.

Everything, All the Time (Except Christmas Letters)

Now that I’m actually on Facebook, I can see why people love it. It’s a huge, friendly free-for-all with everybody chatting and posting and commenting all over the place—lots and lots (and lots and lots) of posts that are thought-provoking, silly, informative, funny, intriguing, and—Danger, Will Robinson—fun to read.

Facebook, it turns out, is like a giant newspaper full of human interest stories [and for those who know exactly what I’m talking about, let us pause a moment to sigh over the decline of the daily paper].

In fact, the main problem I’ve discovered is that there’s just too much going on. I bounce around, reading what other people have to say and chiming in with my own ideas, and suddenly hours have gone by and I haven’t done any actual work (like, say, writing a few more pages of my new novel). Oops.

People on Facebook have been very welcoming—“Come on in, splash around, the water’s fine.” I’m looking forward to finding out what I have to contribute to the conversation.


NEWS: Revenge of the Parson’s Daughter Officially Released!


I’m so happy I could just about bust. Today my novel, Revenge of the Parson’s Daughter Or The Lass that Loved a Pirate, makes its official worldwide debut. I can hardly believe it. This time last year I hadn’t even finished the manuscript, and now the book is out there just waiting for you to fall in love with it and take it home.

On Virtual Bookshelves Everywhere

My book is now available at all finer online literary emporiums (emporia?) [Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.]—and always from Bold Strokes Books (in all e-book formats).

A Sneak Peek Inside

You can check out two different excerpts from Revenge of the Parson’s Daughter:

Young Woman Reading, Jean Raoux

Another Satisfied Customer [YMMV] (Young Woman Reading, Jean Raoux)