I was going to do an end of year blog. But, here it is – the fifth of January already. What was there to say about 2021? It was very similar to 2020. The main difference was getting vaccinated: three jabs for Covid 19 and a flu jab. Although this did have the effect of making us feel a bit safer about going out, we stuck to travel within England and didn’t go anywhere without masks and hand sanitiser.
2020 was such a strange year that I found writing difficult, so I wasn’t expecting to be able to release a new novel in 2021. However, an idea did start to percolate in my benumbed brain after Christmas last year and the result was Darcy Comes Home. (Check out this lovely book review)
My publisher also released Three Mile Cache, a novella I’ve had sitting in a drawer for almost thirty years. They also decided to release each of the stories from the limited edition Affinity 10th Anniversary Christmas Anthology separately. My contribution was Winterbourne Revisited.
So, with very little to say at the moment, here are a few photos from our travels last year.
My publisher also gave their website a facelift. Please check it out – all their books are competitively priced – and there are some freebies on offer too.
Here’s hoping for a less restrictive year (going into our third year in the time of Covid). Whatever happens, take the time to enjoy some good reading along the way.
The idea of comfort reading when it’s cold and snowy outside brings to mind two of my childhood favourites – that I still go back to now and again – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome.
Eventually I found a way to weave my own winter story with Christmas at Winterbourne. Narnia gets a reference in it (as it does in a few of my books).
Last year, when my publisher invited their authors to submit stories for a Christmas-themed anthology, I decided it was time to see what had happened to my characters in the intervening four years since publication.
“Winterbourne Revisited” was the result. The main focus for the story was the child who was born on Boxing Day. Teri is looking forward 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. As in the original story, I managed to include some Christmas Cracker jokes. This is an excerpt from the family’s Christmas Eve dinner with just Teri, her parents, and Clare, their guest from Australia.
Teri had followed her mother into the room and climbed onto the chair next to Clare. She immediately picked up her cracker and said, “Pull.”
Clare obliged with a smile, then offered her own to the girl. Teri was clearly well versed in cracker etiquette and pulled it before diving in to explore what had come out of her own. Wil and Gaby shared theirs with each other.
“Eat your soup before it gets cold.” Gaby’s instruction was aimed at her daughter but Clare picked up her spoon obediently. She’d only managed two mouthfuls when Teri plucked at her sleeve and held out her cracker joke.
“You want me to read this. Okay. Hm. I think it’s been written especially for you, little one. What do they sing at a snowman’s birthday party?” Clare looked around the table. “Any guesses?”
Blank looks all round.
“Must be something to do with cold or freezing,” Wil offered.
“You’re getting warm, or maybe I should say, cold.” Clare smiled. “Freeze a jolly good fellow.”
Teri looked puzzled, although her parents had laughed. “What does it mean?”
Clare sang the words for her, but the girl still looked puzzled. “Who’s he? It’s my birthday on Boxing Day. I want lots of snow and a snow horse.”
“I know, sweetheart.” Clare looked to Wil for help.
Wil shrugged. “How about this one, then? What kind of bird can write?”
“Oh, I know that one.” Gaby said quickly. “A penguin!”
Teri was distracted with the toy that had fallen out of her cracker. Clare wondered if her either of her parents had x-ray vision when they’d distributed the Christmas crackers at each place setting. The girl was playing with a small plastic horse.
So, if you’re looking for some Christmas-related comfort reading, how about giving this one a go.
My eleventh novel…published today by Affinity Rainbow Publications!
I’m calling this a second chance romance and I think the blurb gives that away.
After twenty-five years Darcy and Angie meet again and from the faintly flickering embers of their forbidden teenage love, a flame erupts. Family complications arise including a reluctant engagement, secret surrogacy, and a persistent ex-wife.
Villagers in Professor Darcy Belsfield’s childhood home of Sycamore Haven remember her being sent away to a Christian conversion camp in Canada when her father discovered her making love to her school friend, Angie. Angie has never married but she does have a past and some unenthusiastic plans for the future.
Will the differences in their lives doom the chance of Darcy and Angie discovering if they can build a future together?
Sycamore Haven is a fictional village in North Yorkshire. I imagine it to be somewhere between Skipton and Ilkley.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but October 1st is one of those calendar dates that gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Even seven years after the event that initially brought the feeling on.
Affinity Rainbow Publications published my debut novel, Starting Over, on 1st October 2014. It took time for the reality to sink in…my words were out there for all to see…available not only on the Affinity website, but Amazon platforms around the world, Apple iTunes, Bella Books, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords.
Could it get any better than this? (Or, any more nerve-wracking?) After ten novels, a number of short stories, and another novel due out next month, it actually does.
The next milestone was the decision to enter the audio book market. I tried it out with book seven, Changing Perspectives. The reception for that one encouraged me to give it another go. Nicola Victoria Vincent recorded Starting Over during January 2020. After a bit of a hiccup with the upload to Audible, the audio version went live at the end of May.
It has been said many times, but it’s true that hearing a story not just read aloud, but performed with an actor’s talent for giving each character a voice, really does add another level to the whole work.
While Starting Over was going through the editing process back in 2014, I started writing a sequel. After finishing that, I couldn’t resist adding a sequel to the sequel. So, the trilogy was born. I was warned by Affinity that sequels often don’t sell too well and they were proved right. But I’m still happy that the books were published and I was able to give all the characters from the first book a happy ever after.
If you haven’t read or listened to Starting Over yet, why not give it a go. A tale of romance, relationships, and archaeological discoveries set in the West Yorkshire countryside…you’re in for a breathtaking ride.
I have a lot of photos of trees and roots. As a child, when I was told to go outside and play on a bright summer’s day, I would find a tree to sit in to read a book. Not quite what my well-meaning parent envisioned. I do know that one summer I read my way through the children’s section of the local library. Then a school friend introduced me to Narnia, so I quickly devoured those seven books.
My parents were avid readers. Our house was always full of books. Whenever we moved, which was fairly often, floor to ceiling bookcases had to be added in several rooms to accommodate all the books. As a teenager I read my way through the Russian authors (mainly only interested in the Peace parts of War and Peace), Dickens, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, and many more.
My own house is full of books too. Being surrounded by books is comforting, even when I know that there are many on the shelves that I probably won’t read again. But they are there, reminders of many happy hours spent between the covers.
So many trees have died to give me a lifetime of reading pleasure. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to appreciate and record their living, breathing beauty.
My next novel, due out in November, features a willow tree. Part of the story revolves around what happens when two teenage lovers are discovered under it. The image of the overhanging, shielding branches of the tree provided a touchstone for the tale I wanted to write.
A cover reveal and blurb will be forthcoming soon.
The easing of government-imposed pandemic restrictions on the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ in the UK (19 July) coincided with a week of continuously high temperatures. Most of us here don’t cope well with anything over 24C and our homes aren’t generally equipped with air-conditioning, as it’s only really needed maybe once or twice a year.
The rush to seaside resorts was therefore inevitable but I didn’t envy anyone who made the journey to sit on a crowded beach.
We’re still taking precautions to avoid catching the virus and although we’ve had both jabs, it seems to make sense to continue wearing a mask in enclosed spaces.
We’ve enjoyed a few cautious outings in June and July with a trip to the Lake District and then last week to the opposite side of the country where I even dipped my toes in the North Sea.
There are many beautiful places to explore on this island so we’re planning on having some more adventures in the next few months.
How about trying out my novella (which came out on 1st July) – romance, action, adventure – set in New South Wales, Australia.
Three Mile Cache is due for release on 1st July from Affinity Rainbow Publications.
I wrote this story some time ago and refer to it as my Flying Doctor fanfic. The Flying Doctors TV series from the 1980s always had me glued to the screen, hoping against hope that two of the female leads – a doctor and a nurse – would get together. It was never going to happen. But watching the programme sparked my imagination and gave rise to this romantic vision – although my two main protagonists are not employees of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. (This is a work of fiction so the usual disclaimer applies.)
The story is set in Australia circa 1988. When archaeologist Carolyn Wells returns home to Sydney after several months away at a dig in Tunisia, she expects to be reunited with her lover, Detective Inspector Alex Graham. But she soon learns that Alex has been wounded in a hostage incident and is recuperating at a Royal Flying Doctor Service hospital at a place in the outback of New South Wales called Three Mile Cache. Carolyn decides to fly out there and surprise Alex with her arrival.
Surprises abound when she gets there. One of the doctors treating Alex has a rather intimate interpretation of a bedside manner. There are mysterious goings-on at a local homestead and Alex’s injuries haven’t stopped her from probing into the lives of the locals, much to their annoyance.
When Carolyn and Alex meet again, things don’t quite work out as either of them would like. Can their relationship recover from the series of events in Three Mile Cache that threaten to keep them apart?
In the dedication I have acknowledged the superb medical service provided by the RFDS covering the rural and remote areas of Australia.
April has been a month of two seasons. We had snow, high winds, rain, and for the last two weeks frosty mornings morphing into bright sunny days.
The good weather coincided with the opening up of outdoor venues and sports. I dusted off my golf clubs, checked my archery equipment and have now enjoyed several weeks of getting out on a golf course and shooting arrows at the archery field.
The garden has also perked up with a bit of weeding and planting of flowers. It’s even been warm enough to sit out on the patio some afternoons – actual t-shirt weather!
Still time for indoor stuff – reading, some writing – and as a break from jigsaws, painting by numbers.
We’ve had our two vaccinations but not planning to go mad with social gatherings. Still playing it safe, wearing masks and keeping our distance as much as possible.
So, here are some photos of the recent activities mentioned above.
I’ve not had any book releases so far this year – so it was lovely to receive this wonderful review this month of Deuce – published in 2019 – by Carol Hutchinson of LesBireviewed:
This is my first blog of 2021 and it’s March already! I’ve been slacking off on the blogging front. No excuses really, just haven’t felt like I have much to say. Maybe I can blame the pandemic for an unusually long period of apathy, mainly with the written word. I’ve certainly been doing a lot of reading. The shed is piled high with completed jigsaw puzzles. And I’m looking forward to weeding the garden. (We don’t have a very big garden, so that won’t take long.)
This period of lockdown in England seems longer than the first one. I suspect that’s because it’s winter whereas last year during April and May we had prolonged spells of wonderful warm, sunny weather. As soon as lockdown eased for the summer, the weather took a turn for the worse.
So, as I can’t think of a lot to say, I’ll just add some photos from a few of my socially-distanced walks during since the start of the year, plus the jigsaw I completed today.
And this image – just because.
Spring is on its way – and the possibility of the resumption of a wider range of activities soon. However, if you still have time for reading, I have ten published novels plus some short stories out there, and two audio books to take a look at.
Producing an end of year blog in previous years has been fun. Lots of places visited with a choice of photos to display. This year has been rather lacking in that regard.
The highlights of 2020 in terms of my writing life include the release of my tenth novel, Country Living, the audiobook of my first novel, Starting Over, and the inclusion of a Christmas story in Affinity’s 10th Anniversary Christmas Anthology – Winterbourne Revisited.
But sometime earlier this year, probably not long after the first lockdown began in March, my muse left me and I’ve struggled to get to grips with writing book number 11. Even writing a blog has been harder work that it needs to be.
My wife and I have been very careful to minimise contact with other people and have managed to stay virus-free, so far. That’s definitely a good thing. Although we can keep in contact with friends and family through phone calls, emails, Skype, FaceTime, and social media – it’s not the same as being able to meet up for an impromptu coffee or a meal.
However, we do live in a part of the country where we can enjoy socially distanced walks in nearby parks or along the canal towpath.
Here are a few snapshots of our 2020:
So, after a muted farewell to this year, we’ll hope for better times to come in 2021– and maybe my muse will find her way back from wherever she’s been hiding.
Ebook links for Affinity’s 10th Anniversary Christmas Anthology