Last month this time I was at #LFEST in Llandudno. Nice people, nice weather, nice location pretty much like its namesake in Cape Town… well almost.
Here is wishing you a fantastic 2019, wherein all your dreams come true and you go on many adventures both in person and in good stories.
First, I give you my round up of 2018:
Last year was a cracking year for me. I deliberately use the word cracking and as the word suggests, there were both positives and negatives.
On the downside, reality bit in the form of a number of health scares, both for myself and a couple of people very close to me. That anxiety and stress is not something I would wish to go through again and I really hope that with the dawn of the New Year we will rise to happier and healthier times. Thank you to my lovely close friends and family for your support during those difficult days.
On the upside…
In the early summer, I spent a delightful long weekend at “Camping Out” in the beautiful Devon countryside. Such good fun among really friendly people and definitely an experience I can recommend. I was there last year, flogging my wares and enjoying light-hearted conversation in some pretty good UK sunshine. Look out for me and my books in the market on the last day again this year.
The middle of the year was marked by the usual LFEST weekend shenanigans, this time in Llandudno, Wales. Sadly, last year there were no author panels to be seen, but I have it on good authority that the good lesbian authors of the UK will be back in 2019, reading from their latest novels, signing books and partaking in this wonderful weekend’s activities, once more to be in Wales.
LFEST coincided with the publication of my third Sam Skyborne novel — a psychological thriller called “Alice” (http://Dukebox.life/Alice). This is the second of my PI Toni Mendez adventures and is set in the lovely Cape Town. I am very proud of this novel. The feedback and reviews I have had and its reception by you, my lovely readers, has really wowed me. Thank you!
At the end of August, I had the privilege of participating in my first EllCon (European Lesbian Literary Conference), held in Bristol. What a fantastic event! It was well attended by a number of the best lesbian writers, who I had the honour of meeting and appearing with on a few panels. They were all were absolutely fantastic – so helpful and supportive of new writers. This is truly a community that I am proud to be part of.
From Ellcon, I flew out to Lesvos, to spend a few weeks in the sun in beautiful Skala Eressos while I crunched out the first draft of my next book. It was a truly wonderful few weeks of early rises and hard but fruitful work, followed by a rewarding swim in the crystal Aegean and a couple of hours of basking in the glorious sunshine. During the Sappho International Women’s Festival I had the privilege of reading at the wonderful Karolina’s fantastic Wine Women and Word evening – always a fabulous experience.
On my return, I was proud to participate in the first Lesbian Author Panel at Tower Hamlet’s Idea Store’s WriteIdea Festival — another very memorable and rewarding experience – shared with talented authors Clare Lydon and Veronica Fearon: so there was a little bit of everything for the lovely lesbian fiction audience.
Each one of these events has been a complicated and enriching mixture of fun, laughs, effort and most importantly lessons learnt. All, I hope, helping to make me a better author and a better indie “authorpreneur”.
In the autumn, I also had the great good fortune of having all three of my books win awards in the (New York City) NYC Big Book Award and in addition, Risk also took a finalist award in the National Indie Excellence (NIEA) Awards. I have been shy of submitting my books for any awards or competitions before this. I guess we all have our insecurities and my worry that they might not be good enough held me back. Now, however, I am absolutely delighted with this recognition for my stories!
I want to send a very big thank you to everyone, in particular my readers, who have advised, supported and in their own way contributed to helping me along on this exciting journey. I think it is worth it, and I appreciate every comment and every suggestion.
Finally, once again, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or with feedback on my books, my website or my blogs. I really look forward to hearing from you.
And, if you are not already on my mailing list, and you’d like to hear about any promotions and news, then please subscribe here: http://Dukebox.life/Subscribe
I hope you have a truly fabulous 2019 and may all the stories you read be good ones!
Thank you to all those lovely readers who have celebrated with me so far by reading Alice during the past few days. I am humbled and overwhelmed by how many wonderful emails and reviews I have received already. THANK YOU!
“Alice: A Sleeping Monkey’s Lie” won Distinguished Favorite Award in the NYC Big Book Awards!!
I am also so proud to announce that my latest psychological thriller Alice: A Sleeping Monkey’s Lie has won two SILVER Distinguished Favorite Awards in both the LGBTQ Fiction and the mainstream World Literature categories of the New York City Big Book Awards this year!
I, Sam Skyborne, will be participating in a London Lesbian Fiction Author Reading and Panel at the “2018 WriteIdea Reading Festival”, in East London, on this Sunday, the 18th November, at 1pm along with very lovely and very talented Clare Lydon and Veronica Fearson. The panel will be hosted by Debbie Smith.
Please invite all your friends and come along to join us. The tickets are FREE!
Paperback copies of our most recent books will be on sale at the festival and further copies will also be available at the Brick Lane Bookshop (166 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU).
Last year in June I decided I wanted to write a shorter LesFic novel with a romantic storyline. I had a little idea for a straightforward lesbian Alice in Wonderland meets Shirley Valentine, set in a wonderful holiday destination that I know really well — South Africa, specifically Cape Town.
Well, those were my famous last words.
I did manage to knock out a first draft of what I thought was a pretty straightforward LesFic holiday romance, but when I read it, I hated it! It felt like it was missing something key. I tried very hard to get enthusiastic, so that I could get on and write the next draft… but, I just was stuck.
As I started to reread my first draft again, I began thinking up all sorts of plot twists which then buzzed and fluttered around my brain and I almost had to sit on my hands not to start rewriting immediately. I sat with this, mulling away for about a month last summer, while I was in Lesbos and then the Maldives, where there was enough to distract me and keep me focussed elsewhere.
But, when I got back to the UK to start re-drafting in earnest, before my research recce to South Africa, I couldn’t resist the inevitable and soon my simple holiday romance took a more sinister turn. Before I knew it a psychological drama emerged, with plot twists and turns I could never have envisaged at the start.
Although “Alice” was always intended to be another one of the Toni Mendez adventure, it really was meant to be a straightforward romance!
I think I have to come to terms with the fact that I am incapable of writing a lesbian romance without complicating the plot!!!. Meanwhile, I had another idea for a short series of Maldivian romances, based on the island where Toni and Lizbeth go on holiday just before “Alice” in their timeline, but even those have turned into something more complicated and mostly darker… so, watch this space!
RISK gets FINALIST National Indie Excellence Award.
So I discovered to my great joy that “Risk: Three Crime-fighting Women Risk all for Love, Lust and Justice” has been awarded “National Indie Excellence Award Finalist”.
I am so chuffed.
This is what they say about the FINALIST award:
“A WORD ABOUT OUR AWARD DESIGNATIONS
Different contests have different designations. We have structured the National Indie Excellence® Awards (NIEA) so that only one book per category may be designated a “Winner”, however, often there are more than one book in a category that truly stand out and we believe these too deserve recognition. While it makes the job of our judges a little harder, we are dedicated to celebrating excellence in self-published books so NIEA also has the “Finalist” category.
Books recognized as Finalists are outstanding. The differences between the Winner and Finalist are often so minute that the call might have gone either way. The bottom line is that gaining recognition as a Finalist is a high honor and something about which any author can and should be justifiably proud.
Readers appreciate NIEA Winners and Finalists as worthy of their attention and their book-buying dollars.”
The publication date for “Alice”, my new psychological drama set in Cape Town, South Africa, really could not be any more fitting. I couldn’t have planned this better if I’d tried, and believe me I did try! I had great ideas about how I was going to publish “Alice” towards the end of 2017. But, no matter how much effort and sheer will and determination I mustered, I could not, for some reason, get “Alice” to progress any faster than it has. And that has been a good thing too, because now publishing “Alice” can coincide with and mark the momentous occasion of my 20 year anniversary of leaving South Africa – to go backpacking in Europe and get a bar job in London!
I never intended to leave South Africa permanently on that day, all those years ago. I was just going on a round-the-world trip abroad, to see what the world outside SA was like. So my reason for not having returned yet…? Well, I’m still looking for that bar job and unless I find an agent or a publisher soon, I will have to redouble my efforts in that regard!
Despite having been away for two decades, my heart has never really left South Africa. It is a beautiful country with so much to offer despite its troubles and challenges of the past, present and near future. Every few years I return gladly, to visit my friends and family and relish in the familiar landscape, sunshine, and fresh sea breeze – a pet hate from when I was young and living in the path of the brisk South Easter.
And when I now have the pleasure of meeting a fellow South African abroad, regardless of how long they have been out of the country, there is an instant, unbreakable, visceral bond because they know, they feel and understand in their bones what it means to be South African — something impossible to explain.
The one thing that saddens me when I return to the UK is that I’m unable to share my beautiful country and all that is has given me with my foreign friends. If I won the lottery, that is what I would do: take all my friends on an extended trip to Cape Town, Camps Bay, up the garden route, through game parks, to Victoria Falls, peep in at Kimberly, stop off at Bloemfontein, and venture up to Namaqualand….
In many ways, writing and publishing “Alice” is an attempt to do just that in the smallest, humblest of ways. By telling a story set in Cape Town, Camps Bay and the Cape Flats I hope to give my friends and readers a tantalising glimpse of my beautiful and complex country and what it’s like to live there.
Although the characters, businesses, organisations and legal entities in my book are entirely fictional, most of the locations are based on and inspired by existing places. Later, I aim to write a post giving a little insight into my research trip to Cape Town last year, with some photographs and images that inspired the fiction.