Wow. It was another fabulous weekend. And when a reader comes to you in tears, saying “It’s just like being with family” when it’s their first ever visit to our event, you know you must be doing something right.

Eleven authors and over eighty people in two days came to the Bold Strokes Books UK Festival at Waterstones, Nottingham. There was lively discussion, a few fluffed lines, and lots of laughter. We were relaxed, amongst friends old and new, and we were safe. We had all blogged beforehand about the importance of safe spaces, and it was really rammed home on the Sunday after the events at London Bridge. And yes, it affected attendance. The City of Nottingham was like a ghost town that day. But we will, like Manchester before it, and as London always does, survive and emerge from our homes to wander into town in defiance.

And whilst the attacks weren’t focused on LGBTQ people, we felt it just as keenly as if it were, because we’re all potential victims to this madness. What’s probably worse, is how easy it is to perpetrate. A hire van. A busy city centre. A highly pedestrianised area. It’s like a sick real-life version of Pac-Man.

I won’t hide. I never have. From those who attacked me for being gay. From those who attack me for being a woman. From those who attack, period. And in the close down of our wonderful event, we’ve received some fantastic feedback from readers who said things like “I have just spent one of the nicest, friendliest weekends that I have had for ages. Thank you sooo much everyone. I have been fan girling. Thank you, Brey and Robyn. Omg! The authors were amazing. Not saying who my favourite was. But omg!!!!” and “Absolutely fantastic weekend in Nottingham with lovely and talented authors and their readers. Many heartfelt thanks to all the organisers and the authors.” It makes what we do, matter. It shows us, as authors, why we should continue to write lesbian fiction for all ages, because our audience ranged from eighteen to over seventy. How amazing is that? That so many generations can gather in one space and still feel like “family”?

It makes me proud.

Proud to be involved with a company like Bold Strokes Books, who spend huge amounts of money to put this event on, despite knowing that book sales will never cover their expenses. A company who know the value of what they’re producing goes far beyond the sale of a book. Our fiction spreads its tendrils into the lives of our readers, and it’s a privilege to be part of that.

Proud to be out there all weekend amongst LGBTQ people of all ages, celebrating our similarities and our differences.

To quote Heather Small, what have you done today to make you feel proud? Come and tell me and Brey at any of the following events:

July 13th: Gay’s the Word bookstore, London 7-9pm

August 5th: Brighton Pride all day

August 7th: Hebden Bridge Pride 7-9pm (venue to be announced)

August 26-29th: Manchester Pride

September 30th – October 6th: Women’s Writing Retreat, Bambu Lesbian Resort, Spain

October 10-15th: Women’s Week, Province Town, USA

November 3rd-5th: DIVA Literary Festival

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