Check it out! Cindy Rizzo suspended her vacation long enough to share her L Fest experience with all of us. And, if that isn’t awesome enough, she’s also giving away an ebook copy of Exception to the Rule!
Want to enter the drawing? Leave a comment in the designated comment space below. I’ll do the drawing the upcoming Friday, 8/29 The winner will be notified via email. And, just for fun, I’ll post the winner at the top of this blog. Good luck!
And Playing the Role of The American: My Trip to L Fest
By Cindy Rizzo
When people ask me why I decided to self-publish my book, Exception to the Rule, I always say that “I fell in with a bad crowd—of indies.” Ba-da-bum. And many of them are in the United Kingdom. Fortunately, my crowd consists of some of the best and most successful lesfic authors around and I’ve learned a tremendous amount from all of them. That’s why I was really excited to participate on a panel of indies assembled by the one and only Kiki Archer at the annual L Fest event this past July. Anyone who knows Kiki knows that when she puts something together it’s going to be fun, a little outrageous and very popular. Still and all, I had no idea what I was in for.
I tried to prepare. I read lists of words that mean something different in the UK than they do in the US. Cookies are biscuits; sweaters are jumpers; elevators are lifts. It’s that old saying of two countries separated by a common language. I even decided to do my best to make Kiki proud and planned to read a sex scene from my soon-to-be-released second book, Love Is Enough. I figured that I could do outrageous with the best of them. But as it turned out, when it comes to upping the ante, I’m strictly minor league (you see, if I was truly outrageous, I would have said “bush league”).
After a fun drive from London with the very generous Clare Lydon and her wife, during which Clare regaled me with a selection of lines she’d memorized from the book And Playing the Role of Herself, an obsession we both share, we arrived at Uttoxeter (pronounced U-TOX-et-ter), home to a racetrack that was the site for L Fest. L Fest is an amazing weekend-long festival of music, arts, workshops and all manner of lesbian frolicking with a relaxed atmosphere that was unlike any women’s festival I’d ever attended in the states. It’s one of a series of annual events organized by an extraordinary woman named Cindy Edwards. In addition to L Fest, there’s L Festive, a wintertime indoor festival and a spring festival on the beach in Spain.
Upon our arrival, we checked in and received special artist wristbands that gave us access to everywhere, including a green room with yummy food. It was a thrill that L Fest regarded us as authors the same way it did its most well-known musical acts. Nice to know that there was someplace where books were as highly regarded as music.
Our reading was on Saturday morning, and for an early event, it was pretty well attended. Kiki moderated the panel, and three of us read from our books—me, Clare Lydon and Clare Ashton. I was first on the bill and I kicked things off with the aforementioned sex scene, reading from my iPad and not looking up at the audience a whole lot. Each Clare then read from her very successful romance novel: London Calling (Clare Lydon) and That Certain Something (Clare Ashton).
Then it was Kiki’s show and that’s when the real fun began. She announced that she’d be reading from her latest book, When You Know, and asked for a volunteer from the audience. A hand went up and a tall woman with shoulder length brown hair came to the stage. Kiki explained that she and this woman would be acting out a scene in which the two main characters try to have phone sex using the Face Time app on their cell phones (or mobiles, as they say in the UK). She then confessed that the volunteer was actually her wife and they began to read the scene.
As the reading progressed, Kiki’s wife (we’ll call her Mrs. Archer) began to remove articles of clothing in line with what was happening in the scene. Just when we wondered how far this could go, Mrs. Archer revealed that under her shirt and pants was a light beige body suit that had been augmented with the outline of specific body parts drawn on it. The reading continued to its illogical conclusion and then the Clares and I got to do a second go-round from our own books.
Following the indies was a second literary panel consisting of UK authors published by Bold Strokes Books, including recent award winners Andrea Bramhall and Amy Dunne. When their session ended, the indies and the BSB folks stood together for a joint photograph, thus proving that lesfic authors are one big, happy family, regardless of how or where we publish. At least it was true in that moment, and I for one came away feeling optimistic and a bit misty-eyed.
So now in the short time we have left in this post, I will present a Lightning Round of other L Fest highlights. Here goes:
• Hanging out with Beni Gee, co-moderator of the Virtual Living Room and all around lesfic booster. Beni and I had a fun dinner together in which we literally took out our Kindles and compared our list of top lesfic books. Of course, And Playing the Role of Herself was at or near first place for both of us. No surprise.
• Playing British drinking games with the gang: much of my Saturday night was spent playing games like “Never Did I Ever” and learning the words to Agadoo, a tune that did not seem to make it across the Pond (and for that we should be grateful).• Dancing scrunched in between Kiki and her friend Katie while being filmed by Mrs. Archer: and yelling the entire time, “you can’t do that, I’m married!”
• Meeting the women from Stonewall Housing, L Fest’s sponsored charity, which runs the only housing program for homeless lesbian youth.
• Meeting the children of Kiki and Mrs. Archer and Clare Ashton and her wife, Jayne. They were all delightful.
• Being entertained by writers VK Lee, Angela Jane Peach and HP Munro: all of them funny and great fun.
• Being referred to repeatedly as “The American” and not even in a bad way.
Once I was home, it took me a few days to readjust my body clock and stop waking up at three a.m. I still have a ten-pound note in my wallet and my wife just loved her L Fest T-shirt. And I learned from Beni that a “jacket” is not just something you wear when it gets chilly, it’s also a baked potato stuffed with chili, cheese and assorted other foodstuffs. Good thing to know next time I find myself dining out with Will, Kate, Harry and the Queen.