Winterbourne Revisited

(Short story for Affinity’s 10th Anniversary Christmas Anthology)

When asked by my publisher to submit a story for their 10th Anniversary Christmas Anthology, there was no hesitation on my part in deciding what to write.

My fifth novel, Christmas at Winterbourne, was published in November 2016. The story takes place over four days of the Christmas holiday at the lesbian retreat in Sussex, Winterbourne House. Wil and Gaby are the owners and hosts to the family and guests arriving for the festivities. Gaby is heavily pregnant and hoping to get through this Christmas period without giving birth. But, of course, she does…on Boxing Day.

So this short story, a visit to Winterbourne four years later, gave me the chance to see how things were going with the family. Teri is now coming up to her fourth birthday and all she wants for Christmas is…snow. Lots of it…just like at the time of her birth when Winterbourne House was snowbound.

I have read all the stories in this collection – you’re in for a lovely Christmas-themed treat with contributions from Samantha Hicks, Ali Spooner, Annette Mori, Del Robertson, Natalie London, and JM Dragon. All royalties from this limited edition anthology (only available until end of March 2021) will benefit the Wayward Whiskers Cat Rescue in San Antonio, Texas.

The authors have also contributed some of their favourite seasonal recipes in the book. So come along and enjoy Affinity’s 10th Anniversary Christmas Anthology.


Ebook links for Affinity’s 10th Anniversary Christmas Anthology

Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Barnes &Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords


Print and eBooks by Jen Silver are available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes

Audiobooks:

Starting Over  is available from: Audible UK / Audible US / Audible DE / Audible CA / Audible AU / Amazon UK / Amazon US  / iTunes

Changing Perspectives is available from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook

Canalside walk

A selection of photos from a visit to the Salterhebble canal basin a few days ago.

I’ve passed it many times on the drive between where I live and Huddersfield, but never visited. Turns out to be a pleasant place for a fairly secluded walk around by the lock and the mooring place for boats.

I was fascinated by the guillotine-style lock – something else I’d not seen before.

Guillotine Lock

This basin is an offshoot of the Rochdale Canal, which has a total 91 locks between nearby Sowerby Bridge and the Bridgewater Canal at Castlefield Basin in Manchester, a distance of 32 miles. The canal system is an amazing feat of engineering with work starting in 1798. One section, passing through Hebden Bridge, is built over the river (a hanging viaduct).

Walking through this tunnel, I felt we might emerge into another place and time.

Altogether, a lovely haven for a quiet walk. Of course, quiet walks are what I aim for these days.

Then it’s back home for more quiet time, mainly reading or listening to audio books while piecing together jigsaw puzzles.


If you’re looking for some reading or listening material for your own quiet times, please check out my books.

Print and eBooks by Jen Silver are available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes

Audiobooks:

Starting Over  is available from: Audible UK / Audible US / Audible DE / Audible CA / Audible AU / Amazon UK / Amazon US  / iTunes

Changing Perspectives is available from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook


A Time Out

You would think having all this free time would be ideal for a writer. No visitors, only going out if absolutely necessary, grocery and takeaway deliveries, etc. Some authors have taken advantage of this and are producing books without pause. For me, however, it’s like that part of my life has taken a time out of its own. I’ve tried a few times to get some words down – but it’s not happening.

I’ve learned not to force it. With ten books published since the first one in 2014, there really isn’t any need to panic. So why not just enjoy the space for reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, listening to audio books, solitary walks, and sitting out in the garden with a cold drink (weather permitting).

Looking back to last August’s blog, it’s full of photos from different places we visited, playing golf in Scotland, taking part in an archery competition at another club, a full programme of Happy Valley Pride events.

So far this year, we’ve had one outing…a few days away at a hotel on Lake Windermere at the end of July. It was a wonderful time – enjoying different scenery, meals cooked by someone else, conversation (socially distanced) with other people. We felt safe and well looked after. There was a one-way system through the public areas, hand sanitiser stations at strategic points, well spaced out tables in the restaurant. Plus some good weather for enjoying walks by the lake and just sitting watching the ever-changing scene. Overall, fantastic!

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Food and drink was left on a service table and we served ourselves from there. (Note the hand sanitiser station by the table behind)

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Activity on the lake

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Early morning view of geese on the lawn – from our bedroom window

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A final view of the lake

Will I look back on 2020 as a lost year, or just a time out from normal activities?

I’ll let you know in January.


Taking time out to read or listen to books? Here’s where you can find mine:

Print and eBooks by Jen Silver are available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes

Audiobooks:

Starting Over  is available from: Audible UK / Audible US / Audible DE / Audible CA / Audible AU / Amazon UK / Amazon US  / iTunes

Changing Perspectives is available from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook


 

Loving the countryside

Where I live, we’re surrounded by beautiful countryside only a short walk away. We also don’t have to travel very far in any direction to experience amazing views.

wideview

When I started writing Country Living, one of my aims was to show how someone from the city could adapt to life in the country. Peri, one of the main characters, copes with the move well. But this is her dream so she’s motivated to make it work.

valleyview

It soon becomes clear that her wife has no intention of joining her. Karla’s plans involve enjoying scenery of a different kind, mainly from someone else’s bed.

Peri’s very lucky then that her new neighbours turn out to be friendly and helpful. They live in the farmhouse a bit further up the hill from Peri’s cottage. Of course she’s totally unaware that they have any other business apart from sheep farming. I guess she didn’t watch the Happy Valley TV series; otherwise she might have been more clued up on how the area had that name bestowed on it by the local police force.

With Country Living, I didn’t set out to write a polemic on the pros and cons of legalising marijuana. I’ve tried to present a balanced view, as there are generally more than two sides to any discussion of this issue. Peri’s dilemma centres on whether or not she should report the family to the authorities.

This is all fiction. I don’t have any personal experience of knowing anyone who grows or sells the stuff. But I live in Happy Valley so I know it’s around.

Anyway, this book is a romance. Love is in the air – along with other substances.

Happy reading!

sunnyday


Print and eBooks by Jen Silver are available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes

Audiobooks:

Starting Over  is available from: Audible UK / Audible US / Audible DE / Audible CA / Audible AU / Amazon UK / Amazon US  / iTunes

Changing Perspectives is available from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook


 

Never too late to visit Middle-earth

Someone I know, who is a lot younger than me, posted on social media yesterday that she’d just bought the complete set of books – The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And she’s an LOTR virgin!

I don’t know many people of my generation who would fit that category. My wife is one, though. She didn’t make it past the first page of The Hobbit. Shock, horror – this wasn’t real. She couldn’t read about furry creatures who live in holes in the ground. (Surprising, perhaps, that our relationship didn’t founder there and then. But we’ve now been together for 33 years.)

Anyway, after telling Carol that I had copies of these books that are older than her, I said I would post pictures and here they are.

First up, The Hobbit paperback published in 1974. (Note: price on the back – 65p.)

hobbit74

Next, The Lord of the Rings trilogy in one volume…also from 1974.

lotr74

Both these books travelled with me through journeys to France, Canada, and back to England in the mid 1980s.

I couldn’t resist buying the 50th Anniversary edition of The Hobbit (1987). I recall the bookseller saying he was disappointed the publisher had the anniversary banner printed on the cover instead of a sticker that could have been removed. It’s a lovely version of the book though with maps on the front and back inside covers and some previously unpublished illustrations by the author.

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No surprise then that I also couldn’t resist buying the book of Tolkien Treasures (2018) when I saw it in our local bookshop last year.  The author has compiled many of Tolkien’s illustrations and maps that are held in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. It’s a fascinating overview of his life and work.

treasures

So, to Carol, and any other readers who haven’t yet read the books, hope you enjoy the journeys and adventures that all start from a Hobbit hole in the peaceful surroundings of the Shire.


Print and eBooks by Jen Silver are available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes

Audiobooks:

Starting Over  is available from: Audible UK / Audible US / Audible DE / Audible CA / Audible AU / Amazon UK / Amazon US  / iTunes

Changing Perspectives is available from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook


 

New Audio Book

Starting Over is now out on audio and I’m thrilled with how it sounds. Nicola Victoria Vincent did an amazing job with the narration and the range of voices for a wide variety of characters, young and old, from different walks of life.

StartingOver

This was my debut novel, published by Affinity Rainbow Publications in October 2014. I started writing it in 2013 and really had no idea where the story would go at the beginning. But I decided one of the main characters, Ellie Winters, would be a potter. And while I was researching pottery, I came across the Vindolanda website. I’ve always been interested in British Roman history so I was fascinated to read about the ongoing archaeological excavations still taking place there, not far from Hadrian’s Wall.

Somehow I knew that archaeology was going to feature strongly in the story. And so it turned out. Another turning point was when my mother gave me an old history book she had on the Brigantes. This provided the information I needed for the final twist in the tale. The story is set in and around parts of West Yorkshire, particularly Huddersfield and Hebden Bridge. This area was part of the Brigantia territory as well as the ancient Celtic kingdom of Elmet. The landscape is another character in its own right.

I had a fine mix of ingredients to work with – pottery, archaeology, history, journalistic skulduggery, and of course, romance. I loved the story and the characters so much, I was inspired to write a sequel, Arc Over Time. And then had to make it a trilogy with Carved in Stone.

I think it’s a journey worth taking – whether or not you want to read the book(s) or listen to the audio.

Have a listen to this taster from the end of Chapter 3 in Starting Over:

 

 


Audiobooks

Starting Over  is available from: Audible UK / Audible US / Audible DE / Audible CA / Audible AU / Amazon UK / Amazon US  / iTunes

Changing Perspectives is available from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook

Print and eBooks by Jen Silver are available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes


 

Missing Vindolanda

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vindolanda Trust. However, they’ve had to suspend their excavation season that would have started a few weeks ago as well as closing the site and the two museums. Like many other businesses, they are holding some online events. A good way to help them survive through these uncertain times, would be to donate and/or buy something from their shop. Visit the wesite here.

I enjoyed my times digging there, from 2014 to 2018. As well as the thrill of seeing what comes out of the ground from nearly 2000 years ago, there was the interaction with the other volunteers and the on-site archaeologists. I was lucky enough to be able to book into the Hedley Centre, which generally housed up to 8 people per session. I could look out of my bedroom window and see the ramparts of the barracks on the top of the hill.

So, these photos are just a few of my fond memories of being there. It’s a magical place and I hope they will be able to reopen some time this year so many more visitors (and excavators) can enjoy the experience of walking through history.

vindolanda_overview

My first view of Vindolanda from the road, approaching from the east.

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View from the Hedley Centre

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First close up view of the excavations in 2014

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On my knees in 2014

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Into the wet stuff in the vicus…2017

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Coin found on the last day of the 2017 dig – as it came out of the ground

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Visiting in 2019

As I’ve said a number of times before, just being there is magical.

When I first went there to do research for my debut novel, Starting Over, I didn’t know if I would enjoy two weeks of scrabbling around in the dirt wondering if my knees and back would hold up. I thought it would be a one-off experience. Not a chance…I could hardly wait to book again for the following year…and the year after that…!

The Starting Over audio book narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent is in the ACX system, awaiting approval. I’m hoping it will be available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes very soon.

StartingOver


Books by Jen Silver…available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes

 

Lockdown comfort reading

Books I’ve been re-reading over the last three weeks:

I started with Swallows and Amazons, a regular source of comfort reads. Coot Club and The Big Six are gentle stories about sailing on the Norfolk Broads. I’ve never sailed in my life and never quite mastered rowing or paddling a canoe either. But I love these stories and marvel at how self-sufficient these children are. However, when Arthur Ransome wrote the stories in the 1930s, it was a very different world.

coot_six

After messing about in boats, I moved on to more adult fare with Jasper Fforde. I read books 1 to 5 of the Thursday Next series. They’re all good fun but I think my favourite is the third one – The Well of Lost Plots when Thursday has to hide out in an unpublished novel and continues with her training as a Jurisfiction agent under Miss Havisham.

fforde_five

Time then for a complete change of scene and on to some lesfic. My first stop here was an old favourite, which I discovered on the Mooch café’s Books for sale shelf five years ago. (I got it signed by the wonderful Karin K when I attended my first GCLS Conference in New Orleans in 2015.) Just Like That, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a delightful lesbian take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. (And the glass of wine is relevant!)

Karin_that

After that, I needed more Kallmaker and found I had her very first published novel on my Kindle. In Every Port is a great coming out story with historical overtones, set at the time of Harvey Milk’s assassination and the Jonestown massacre.

Sticking with old favourites, I then moved on to detective stories starting with Murder at the Nightwood Bar and The Beverley Malibu by Katherine V Forrest. KVF never disappoints.

malibu_mine

That brings me up to date as I’ve just started on the first of the Lauren Laurano series – Everything You Have is Mine by Sandra Scoppettone.

So, why all the reading? Apart from the obvious – only going out when necessary. The writing is just not happening. Making notes for this blog is the most I’ve been able to do. I’m at the halfway point in my next WIP – but it’s not progressed past there in the last month.

For something else to do, I’ve recorded myself reading Chapter One of Country Living. No need for any professional audio book narrators to be worried. I’m no good at character voices and don’t have the skill to edit out the occasional bleep or stumble. And I certainly can’t compete with the lovely Clare Ashton who is reading her book Poppy Jenkins chapter by chapter (available on YouTube). But here is the audio file, if you want to listen.

CL_Jen

Reviews for Country Living

There haven’t been many, but I am very grateful for the reviews I’ve received so far for Country Living. (All five stars!) This one appeared on the Amazon UK site on 27 March:

Heart warming, fast moving and so true to life!

After 20 years of living together, marriage and comfortable ‘rubbing along’, you think you know someone – but maybe you don’t! This cracking story so well written. I became fully immersed in the sadness of middle aged Peri who suddenly realises her wife has been cheating on her and has to start rebuilding her life. Set in Yorkshire, England, the vivid writing transports you to the hills, dales and farm life of this beautiful countryside. And as always with Jen Silver’s books the plot is multi layered delivering a cool and sparkling look at contemporary life and adding real ‘edge’ to the story. Balancing out the romances, there are secrets, intrigues and surprise twists. Young and middle aged characters have experiences so recognisable – I felt I truly reading about people I know. There are always high expectations of Jen Silver’s books and ‘Country Living’ is one of her best.

Thanks for reading, if you got this far. Hope you’re staying safe and maybe enjoying rereading some of your own comfort reads.


Country Living – published 1 March 2020 – availabe from: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Amazon AU / Amazon DE / Amazon FR / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes


 

Out in the country

Nine days on from release day, and I’m in thrall to the beauty of the paperbacks that arrived last week.

CLpaperbacks

So, I’m taking a break from stroking the cover to write a few words about my latest book. It’s a romance, but with a few twisty bits that I think will surprise readers. The blurb gives something of this away…mentioning temptation, betrayal, and intrigue. However, it’s a romance, so everything will turn out all right in the end, won’t it?

The first chapter is available to read on the Affinity Rainbow Publications website.

But here’s a taster from Chapter Five of Country Living – certainly not a spoiler if you’ve read the blurb and sampled the first chapter.

Peri refilled their glasses and sat back, feeling replete. She gave her friend a quizzical glance. “Okay. I’m intrigued as to why you’ve driven all this way to treat me to lunch. Something that couldn’t be discussed by phone or email. Are you and Sharon okay?”

“Oh yes. More than okay. I know you thought I was crazy to move in with her after meeting online and going on three dates, but it just felt so right.”

“That’s great. So why do I get the feeling something’s wrong?”

Dana sighed. She bent down and retrieved her iPad from her bag.

“Don’t tell me. You’re having trouble with a plot line and want my magic editorial advice?”

“If only.” Dana opened her photos app and clicked on an image. “These are screenshots from Karla’s timeline. I’m not Facebook friends with her, but Rachel is and saved the pictures for me.”

Peri took the tablet and studied the images on the screen. Her brain seized.

Karla was wearing a minimal bikini she’d never seen before, arm around a stunning looking blonde who had the sleek look of a supermodel, also clad in very little material. Both were sporting identical smiles, and Peri recognised Karla’s post-sex satisfied expression.

“There are others, if you swipe across to the right.”

“I can’t…” Peri dropped the tablet on the table and rushed over to the nearest flowerbed. The contents of her stomach covered the nascent marigolds with a projectile of vomit. She stayed bent over, shoulders heaving.

“I’m so sorry. I couldn’t not tell you. It’s been eating me up ever since Rachel sent me the first screenshot yesterday.”

Peri sat back on heels. “Water,” she croaked.

“Oh, yeah. Be right back.”

It was a perfect day, the kind Peri had imagined enjoying, sitting outside revelling in the beauty of the countryside, savouring the clear, country air. Now, all she could taste and smell were the sour remnants of her lunch. She gulped back the large glass of water Dana handed her and spat out the last mouthful.

Life in the country…never a dull moment! I hope you’ll enjoy discovering how things work out for Peri and Karla.

Affinity’s two releases for March featured on the Bella Books for the month. I’m delighted to share the spotlight with Annette Mori’s The Panty Thief, which is a thoroughly entertaining read.

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Available from: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Amazon AU / Amazon DE / Amazon FR / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes


 

Coming soon

January was a busy month with editing and proofreading my next novel to be published and also approving the audio files for my second audio book.

The novel, Country Living, will be out in March, published by Affinity Rainbow Publications. This is Affinity’s 10th year in publishing and, coincidentally, Country Living is my 10th published novel.

I love what Irish Dragon Design has done with the cover – managing to include the chickens, sheep, and a glass of wine for one of the main characters.

CL-Final

Back of the book description

When Peri Sanderson achieves her dream of moving from London to a cottage in the English countryside, she expects her domestic bliss will be complete when her wife, Karla, leaves her London job to join her. Peri sees their future together as growing vegetables, tending some chickens, and chatting with the locals by a roaring log fire in a quaint village pub.

Sexy urbanite, Karla, has other ideas and they don’t include a move to the countryside.

Secrets are everywhere. Peri quickly senses something not quite right among her rural neighbours, and Karla is not quite the worldly wise woman-about-town that she thinks she is.

Temptation, betrayal and intrigue combine to change the lives of both women beyond anything they could have imagined.


New Audio Book

StartingOver

The audio book which I’m hoping will be available later this month has been expertly narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent. Starting Over was my debut novel, published in 2014. So it feels good to bring it back to the fore now. Like Country Living, a lot of the action takes place on a farm – with chickens, but no sheep. Nicola did a great job with all the different accents for a diverse group of characters. I hope you’ll enjoy a listen.

Back of the book description

Ellie Winters, a successful potter, is living on a remote hilltop farm inherited from her parents. Her well-ordered life is shaken apart when her past meets her present.

Robin Fanshawe, Ellie’s philandering long-term lover, has a fragile truce with Ellie. The arrival of women from Robin’s present threatens to break that tentative pact.

Charming Dr. Kathryn Moss, an archaeologist and an old lover of Ellie’s, arrives on the farm searching for a new site to dig. When she discovers a previously unknown Roman settlement and ancient burial site on Ellie’s farm, Ellie allows her to start an archaeological dig of the area.

Will Ellie also allow the rekindling of an old romance or will she stay with Robin? Can that long term relationship, albeit tentative, recover from this collision or will an old romance trump everything she knows?

Will Robin, seeing the interaction between Ellie and Kathryn, leave her womanizing ways behind? Will she take a chance on giving herself wholly to the woman she loves?

These questions and the mystery of whose royal resting place is disturbed at Starling Hill are answered in this classic romance of simmering passions, anguished loss, and the wonder of love.


Changing Perspectives, narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent – available to download from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook