Writing a weekly blog

I’m not very good at this. You would think it would be easy, being a writer and all. But actually, it’s really hard. Almost as hard as writing a synopsis for a novel or the back of the book blurb (I’m thankful to have a publisher who helps me out with that!).

The synopsis though, I have to write myself. After all, this could be the deciding factor in whether or not the publisher is willing to take a look at the novel. What’s so hard about it? You’ve just written a novel of 60,000 plus words and you can’t come up with a 400-word description of what it’s about?

I’ve seen various bits of advice about how to do this. One absolutely brilliant idea is to write a synopsis before you write the book. But that pre-supposes the concept that I will know what I’m going to write before I write it.

You can gather from this statement that I’m not a great plotter. My stories start with a few characters, a location, a situation…and go from there.

Pretty much like this blog. I started with the title and started writing.

Some people write fantastic blogs. I look forward to reading these. Fellow Affinity author, Annette Mori is particularly good at writing about her life, adding in funny memes and photos. I feel rather inferior by comparison.

(Stop reading this and head over to Annette’s blog. She may even have some cute kitten pictures to share as well.)

So, surprise, surprise! I’m going to fall back on promoting my next book. This is called Carved in Stone and it’s the third book of a trilogy (good that…trilogies come in threes, don’t they?).

Carved in Stone

Up front and personal – Queen Cartimandua and her lover get top billing!

My publisher had some reservations about publishing this. Book I sold well, Book II not so well, so why should they take a chance on the third? Especially as I no doubt submitted a crap synopsis.

Well, I’m pleased to say they did decide to go with it and the first two books are being re-released along with the third one on 5 February. They will all be available on Kindle Unlimited…so if you’re a subscriber, get in there!

What’s the book about? Now you’re asking. When I pitched the idea to them, it went like this:

The title is Carved in Stone. If you’ve read Arc Over Time you’ll know these are the last three words in the book. CiS starts immediately after the end of Arc. Jo has been left at the farm to look after the chickens and the cats while Robin and Ellie are at the Cartimandua exhibition in London. Awake in the night and hearing strange noises, she finally phones 999. One officer shows up to check things out and she becomes Jo’s love interest in the story. Interesting for Jo, as with her travelling lifestyle she’s never had a girlfriend with a proper job.

Meanwhile, Robin’s concerned about Ellie, who ever since seeing the reconstructed head of Cartimandua at the exhibition, has been ‘talking’ to her. Ellie says that the queen wants a proper re-burial with a monument. When it’s pointed out to her that this will cost a lot of money, the queen says that’s not an issue as there is a hoard of coins buried at the farm. (Venturing into the paranormal here!)

Kathryn and Den have their problems as well. Den realizes that Kathryn’s not ready for engagement, let alone marriage. Den huffs off to London and while she’s away Kathryn adopts an abandoned kitten (and the ice queen starts to melt, a little).

Robin decides to support Ellie’s conviction that she’s communicating with the long dead queen, and makes an effort to find the hidden hoard. She also hatches a cunning plan to get Den and Kathryn back together.

Max Fleetwood comes into it briefly as she attempts to reclaim Jasmine. So Steph and Jas go on a road trip up north – visiting both the farm and Durham.

And throughout all this, Jo and Ash (the police officer) are tentatively finding their way to love.

Carved in Stone has romance, adventure, a treasure hunt, and happy endings for all.

Some of this rambling made it into the back of the book blurb – see earlier note about how bad I am at writing these.

I don’t have a reservoir of cute kitten photos to fall back on, so this will have to do. She is the inspiration for the kitten in the story and was found on the doorstep shivering from the rain. (Unfortunately we couldn’t keep her because we’re both highly allergic. But we found her a good home…couldn’t leave you without a happy ending!)


We named her ‘Piddles’ because she had no control – but I’m sure her new family renamed her.

5 February 2016 – make a note – Starting Over, Arc Over Time, Carved in Stone – all available from Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited too!

A Murmuration of Starlings


Starlings having a whale of a time – this display over Israel was caught on camera by Amir Cohen/Reuters

When starlings gather in large numbers, they are often photographed performing amazing aerobatic displays, forming shapes in the sky. The collective noun for a flock of starlings is a murmuration.

There are some weird and wonderful collective names for groups of just about anything. Some of my favourites are: Parliament of Owls, Pandemonium of Parrots, Squabble of Seagulls and Prickle of Porcupines.

However, back to the starlings. These birds are of particular interest to me because when I was trying to think of a name for the farm that was to feature prominently in my debut novel – the name I chose was Starling Hill.

I have to confess to not knowing what a starling looks like. The only birds I can confidently identify are robins and seagulls. And then there are those little brown birds in the garden, but I’m not sure if they are sparrows or thrushes, or maybe even tits. Apparently starlings aren’t indigenous to the UK. The ones that winter here are from Scandinavia.


Starlings photographed at sunset in Aberystwyth by Keith Morris

Anyway, the name Starling Hill stuck. When it came time to choose a name for my three book series, the Starling Hill Trilogy seemed like an obvious choice. A lot of the action in the books takes place at the farm, so it is almost like another character. I think it comes through in the stories that I absolutely love this area where I live and setting the novels here gave me the chance to share this love.

The next and final instalment of the series is due to be released on 5 February…Carved in Stone brings to life more romantic adventures for the women at Starling Hill and their friends.

The murmuration of starlings is on its way:



Short Stories

There Was a Time and The Christmas Sweepstake – both available FREE on the Affinity website

Celebrating the ‘playpen’


I’m a member of a golf club. And contrary to popular belief amongst non-golfers, that doesn’t mean I’m a posh git with more money than sense. For one thing, the club is at a municipal course – so the annual membership fee is on a modest scale…not the price of a new Mercedes. (Okay, so non-golfers, feel free to leave out the ‘posh’ and make a comment about ‘a good walk wasted’.)

I mention this because while I was recuperating from my recent hysterectomy operation I received Get Well cards from some of the women in the club.

When I read the handwritten message in the one from our current oldest member (80), I was in danger of bursting my stitches. She’d had this operation many years before and apparently a nurse told her: “Don’t worry, dear…the cradle is gone, but the playpen’s still there.”

I was thinking about her the other day, not just because the comment in her card still makes me smile, but mainly with all the talk about the film ‘Carol’ and the fuss about it not being nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. (Hollywood misogyny – or just plain old fear of celebrating lesbians living happily ever after?)

Anyway, my 80 year old golf friend would have grown up in the post-World War II era and lived her whole life with the understanding that you didn’t talk about your sexuality. Although I know she’s a lesbian and she knows I am, we’ve never discussed it. It’s not something we mention while chasing that little ball around a field or in the bar after the round.

However, she has now discovered lesfic. And I’m proud to say it is through me. A surprising (to me, anyway) number of straight women at the club have read my books. And one of them passed on her paperback copies to this older woman.

Before I went into hospital I got a phone call from her. She’d looked at the ‘Other Books’ section at the end of one of my books and asked if she would be able to buy any of these in a bookstore. I told her they could only be ordered online and as she doesn’t have a computer, I could do that for her.

Well, I haven’t heard from her since she received those three books. There were fairly explicit sex scenes in one of them, so maybe she’s busy. After all, she still has a ‘playpen’.

Right, well on that note, I’m going to sign off. Maybe go to the driving range and see if I can remember how to hit a ball.


The Oscars usually pass me by as I don’t know many of the films, but this year I will be rooting for the Shaun the Sheep movie to win Best Animated Film. As for Carol, my prediction is that it will win the Best Costume Design award. (This will no doubt be a revelation for those in Hollywood who still think lesbians only wear dungarees and check shirts – so it’s a breakthrough of sorts.)


Coming soon: Book III of The Starling Hill Trilogy (and the re-release of the first two books)



Arc Over Time – available from Affinity eBook Press /Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords / iTunes

Starting Over – available from Affinity eBook Press / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / iTunes.

Short Stories

There Was a Time and The Christmas Sweepstake – both available FREE on the Affinity website

Long nights and new covers

The nights are getting shorter, but slowly it seems. I always think that January feels like the longest month. There’s the come down after Christmas and New Year festivities, the weather is dismal and we’re still getting up in the dark and going to bed in the dark. Spring and summer are distant memories (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway).

I don’t think I would diagnose myself as a SAD person suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (no surprise that the support organisation is based in the UK). But I do find myself looking forward to brighter days…and a holiday in Tenerife.

And I really don’t have anything to be sad about. I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas break with my wife and friends who we meet up with every year. Our home has survived the floods that have devastated homes and businesses in the area where we live. And I have two novels being published in February and March.

A happy dance is in order, I think.

The first book, due out on February 14, is the third and final installment of the Starling Hill Trilogy. As I have mentioned before I didn’t set out to write a trilogy. My first published novel, Starting Over, had a definite ending. Or so I thought at the time. But there were two characters in particular whose stories weren’t quite finished. Arc Over Time developed their relationship and it could all have ended with that book. But, no, someone else in the story felt they needed a resolution.

It was a matter of ‘if these bones could talk’…and talk they did. While I was mulling over this idea, there were discussions going on about where Richard III should be reburied. The discovery of his bones under a car park in Leicester was a media sensation, not just in the UK, but also around the world.

My royal personage, whose bones were uncovered in Starting Over and put on display at the British Museum in Arc Over Time, wanted a reburial as well. (As one of the characters in the story remarks – “Has she been watching the news?”)

Carved in Stone brings all this to the fore, along with further developments in the lives of the living characters.

All three books are being released on 14 February (re-releases of the first two) under the banner of ‘The Starling Hill Trilogy’. As Starling Hill is the name of the farm where it all started, it seemed an appropriate title for the series.

So, here it is – the big cover reveal – of not just one, but two books…the new one, Carved in Stone and Arc Over Time, which has had a makeover. (I like to think it’s a Hogwarts-type picture – one character has wandered off and another taken her place.)



Arc Over Time – available from Affinity eBook Press /Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords / iTunes

Starting Over – available from Affinity eBook Press / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / iTunes.

Short Stories

There Was a Time and The Christmas Sweepstake – both available FREE on the Affinity website

Day 1 of 2016

Starting with statistics:

I was impressed with my blog stats for 2015 – 45 posts, 1,960 views, 1,091 visitors, 94 likes, and 74 comments. And although the US and the UK topped the list of numbers of viewers from different countries, I was amazed to see some from Hong Kong and India.

So, thank you to everyone who has visited – and especially those who have liked and/or commented. My goal for this year will be to top these figures.

However, I don’t bother giving myself New Year’s resolutions anymore. It took me a while to work out the poor economic value. For example, if a gym membership costs £600 a year, then trips to the gym during the year cost me £100 each time.

I can ‘eat less-drink less alcohol-exercise more’ anytime of the year. So, I don’t have to start today. That’s my excuse, anyway.

Christmas holiday:

We did a fair bit of eating and drinking over Christmas, so I’ve already cut back. (Feeling virtuous – and not counting the glass of Champagne last night – well, New Year’s Eve…)

Here are some photos from our hotel overlooking Lake Windermere…our room with a great view, the walk through the woods, and back to a warm up by the fire.




Before the rains came, we visited Bowness. The lake was already overflowing from the heavy rain the week before but there were plenty of visitors, including this good looking bird:




The floods:

We had a wonderful few days but spent most of Boxing Day wondering if it was safe to go back home. Our village, Mytholmroyd, featured as front page news for the first time ever in its history – as the flood waters from the River Calder rose up to unprecedented heights and submerged a much larger area than usual. Our house is out of range, but it was worrying all the same with reports of power and water cuts.

Although we were relieved to find our own home undamaged, the extent of the destruction to so many local homes and businesses is heart breaking. One such business is the independent bookstore in nearby Hebden Bridge. But the owners have been heartened by the support garnered, not just locally, but through Twitter and Facebook…with publishers willing to send new stock and authors offering signed books for auction on eBay.

Not the start to the New Year many in this area were hoping, or planning, for – but, encouraged by the outpouring of community spirit, they will find the strength to carry on.

With more rain forecast over the coming week, we can only hope there won’t be a repeat of the devastating flooding, not just here, but many other parts of the country as well.

By jenjsilver