It’s In Her Kiss

Affinity eBooks is publishing a special holiday anthology in May and all proceeds go to charity. The chosen charity is the Montrose Center, which is a full service community-based LGBT centre in Houston.


Affinity asked all their authors to submit a holiday-themed short story for inclusion in this collection. We could choose any holiday or special day we liked – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Saint Patrick’s Day – anything at all.

They may have regretted giving us free rein, as I chose a fairly obscure event although I gather it is still celebrated with vigour in some places, not just Britain. I’m really pleased, not only that my story was accepted, but also that the anthology is being released in May – because my story revolves around Beltane, which in ancient societies was their way of welcoming the return of summer on the first of May.

Beltane is a pagan festival not appropriated by Christians…perhaps because it involves celebrating fertility with naked dancing in the woods followed by couples consummating temporary ‘marriages’. I’m not sure how much of this goes on nowadays – and anyone planning to engage in outdoor activities this year will be in danger of freezing their bits off as we are having a cold snap with snow forecast in many places over the weekend.


Optimistic campers out in the field today!

My story for the anthology is entitled Beltane in Space and it is a continuation of The Christmas Sweepstake story published by Affinity in their 2014 Christmas Collection – which is available FREE on the Affinity website.

Beltane in Space

The crew of the Heraklion is back for another long inter-galactic flight, only this time with a new captain at the helm. Convincing the by-the-book captain to let them have a Beltane festival was pretty easy, but will sexy chief engineer, Tess, be able to convince her to take part in a more personal celebration?

The other stories in this collection range from New Year’s Day through to Christmas with contributions from Alane Hotchkin, Erin O’Reilly, Erica Lawson, Ali Spooner, Lacey Schmidt, Annette Mori, Charlene Neil and TJ Vertigo.

So why not see what’s ‘in her kiss’ and give to a worthwhile cause at the same time.

Books by Jen Silver

Links for The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks/Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Ebook links for The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting Over: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Arc Over Time: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Carved in Stone: Amazon US / Amazon UK


Taking a break

It’s a strange time…coming to the end of the first draft of a novel; I don’t want to say ‘finishing’ because it’s very much an unfinished work.

For months I’ve been waking up and thinking about the next scene in the book, how to move the story forward, worrying about plot holes and whether or not the storyline as a whole hangs together.

Anyway, I reached an end point two weeks ago and the print out is sitting in a binder waiting for me to do another read through which is usually when I think – will anyone else really want to read this?

Taking advantage of this time when I’m not obsessing over characters and story developments, my wife suggested we take a trip to Liverpool. We decided to make it an overnight stay so we could have a relaxing evening. It’s about 55 miles from where we live and the driving time is about the same as taking the train, even with making a change at Manchester. So we took the train.


Sunny start from Mytholmroyd train station

The sunny day came with us and we walked through the shopping area of the city, passing a large Waterstones bookstore on the way. We knew if we went in there we would come out with books, so decided to save that for the next morning on our way back to the train station. Around the corner from Waterstones we came across a delightfully created seating area with shelving for book swapping.


Book swap seating area

We found the Albert Dock easily. Our main aim for the afternoon was to wander around there and visit the Merseyside Maritime Museum. Lots of fascinating stuff in the museum depicting stories of the Titanic, the Lusitania, plus World War II memorabilia – and lots of models of ships. We arrived at the same time as a school outing, a large group of eight year olds. Shades of Joyce Grenfell with the teacher constantly saying things like…”George, DON’T do that!”


At the Albert Dock

Our trips usually revolve around finding good eating places. And we succeeded for all three meals in Liverpool. Lunch was taken at the Salt House – a tapas restaurant that we had spotted on the way to the Dock.

My wife had done an extensive online search beforehand to seek out a restaurant for the evening meal. The one she settled on was called Puschka – an independent, family-owned restaurant. Finding our way there was a bit of an adventure as we hadn’t invested in a map of the city and only had a vague idea of where it was in relation to the hotel.

We were about to give up on our search for Puschka when we spotted a whisky bar. The restaurant was a few doors further down the street but it was too much to ask for me to resist going into the bar first. I sampled a Canadian rye called Whistle Pig…it would have been rude not to try one of the many whiskies available from all over the world. Unfortunately I could only manage one.


Enjoying a shot of the delightfully named Whistle Pig rye

The food at the restaurant was lovely and we had a Yealands wine with it. When the waitress told us the story about the short-legged sheep, we thought she was having us on. But it turns out to be true. The vineyard uses Babydoll sheep to keep the weeds down. The news item on YouTube explains what a wonderful environmentally friendly innovation this is.

We found a less roundabout way back to the hotel and met a friendly cat called ‘Scruff’ on the way.


A friendly Liverpudlian – Scruff

After a good night’s sleep, we had a relaxing morning…breakfast at Bill’s, a browse around Waterstones (yes, we did buy books) and a smooth train journey back home.

As often seems to be the case with short breaks like this, it feels like you’ve been away longer. And now I feel ready to take on the task of re-reading the first draft of the manuscript and see what needs more work.

Book links for The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks/Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Ebook links for The Starling Hill Trilogy (still available on Kindle Unlimited):

Starting Over: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Arc Over Time: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Carved in Stone: Amazon US / Amazon UK

A Dedication

As a reader I never used to pay much attention to dedications in books. It was likely to be the author’s wife, husband, children…maybe just a name, maybe a few words of appreciation.

Now, that I’m seeing my work in print, I do give these more consideration. With my first three published novels, I followed the usual pattern…Book 1, my wife, Book 2, my mother, Book 3, my best friend. Book 4, however, was different. It’s dedicated to a cat. I haven’t run out of close relatives or friends but there is a reason for this departure from the norm.

The Circle Dance is a lesbian romance but there is one very important male character, Stevie. He’s a black cat and very much loved by the couple he owns, Jamie and Sasha. However, when they split up, Sasha gets everything…new girlfriend, new house, and Stevie. Jamie has nothing and is attempting to rebuild her life in a different town living in rented accommodation, low-paid job, riding a bicycle to work (Sasha took the car as well).

As one of the other characters notes, Jamie would probably have coped better with the whole breakup trauma if she’d been able to keep Stevie. (SPOILER ALERT: Jamie and Stevie are reunited during the story.)

Anyway, back to the story behind the dedication for this book. I was standing in line at the GCLS 2015 conference waiting for the registration desk to open and someone said “Hello”. When I turned around I was face to face with Sandra Moran. I’d never met her before, only via Facebook, but there she was… the tallness, the hair, the smile…in person. Amazingly, she recognised me as well. After exchanging comments about the weather (she must have had some British genes), I offered my condolences for her cat Spencer who had died only a few weeks earlier. She was quite moved that a virtual stranger would have remembered Spencer but, like many other people, I was a “friend” of Spencer’s on Facebook and enjoyed the banter Sandra created between them.

What came out of my mouth next was a surprise to me as I hadn’t planned to say it. I told her that my latest novel, due to be published in early 2016, featured a black cat and that Spencer had been the inspiration for him. I went on to say that if she didn’t mind I would like to dedicate the book to Spencer.

Now, I’d only just met this woman and already caused emotional upset. Luckily, in a good way. Not only was she delighted with this idea, but she offered to let me use one of Spencer’s poems in the dedication.

When I talked to my publisher about this, they said that was fine as long as I obtained Sandra’s written permission to use the poem.

To make a long story longer, when I got back from New Orleans, I emailed Sandra to check she was still okay with this idea. She replied right away and sent me three poems so I could choose the one that I thought most suitable.

During our email correspondence I mentioned that the couple in the story had named their cat after Stevie Nicks, thinking he was female when they picked him up from the cat rescue place. She then told me that the same thing had happened with Spencer who spent the first month of his life with them being called Annie. (Another amazing connection – one of the characters in the book is called Annie.)

Anyway, I selected a poem and she duly sent me permission to “reprint Spencer’s truly awful poetry”.

This exchange of emails was in August 2015. Neither of us knew then that Sandra’s life would come to an abrupt end just over two months later. Whatever fates led me to that moment in New Orleans, I’m grateful that I had the chance to make that connection with Sandra, albeit briefly. The dedication in the book is as much for her as for Spencer. (And also for black cats everywhere.)

In doing some research for another book I read that in Norse mythology, Asgard, the home of the gods, is accessed by crossing the rainbow bridge. I like to think that both Sandra and Spencer made that crossing and are enjoying each other’s company again. Sandra will have introduced Thor and all the gods and goddesses to the art of moraning and Spencer will be free to continue writing “truly awful poetry”.

Note: My wife and I don’t have any pets as we’re both highly allergic. However, we have at times enjoyed the company of cats who have visited. As Sandra demonstrated with her photos of Spencer, black cats are quite difficult to photograph well. When we lived in London our neighbour’s cat, Sooty, was a regular visitor and I delved into our old photo albums to find these only two pictures we have of him.


Sooty in the garden


Sooty on the window ledge

Book links for The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks/Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Ebook links for The Starling Hill Trilogy (still available on Kindle Unlimited):

Starting Over: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Arc Over Time: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Carved in Stone: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Let’s get naked

At last year’s GCLS Conference I attended a number of panels and readings. From the sessions I attended this one line from Dorothy Allison stands out. She was talking about writing and said that writers need to have “the willingness to be naked on the page.”

Dorothy demonstrated through all her talks, including the emotive reading she did from Bastard Out of Carolina, and in her keynote speech, that she is willing to be naked in public as well (not literally, of course – maybe only for private readings).

I thought of this “nakedness” again over the past few weeks. I’ve been reading my way through J M Redmann’s Micky Knight series.


I read the first in the series, Death by the Riverside, probably about twenty-five years ago, so it’s been fascinating to rediscover the books and see the stories from the perspective of my older self. (Also, the books are set in New Orleans and I can feel another level of  connection from my brief time in the city last summer.)

The author doesn’t hold back when describing the awfulness of Micky’s early years. And her character’s way of dealing with the past isn’t particularly healthy as Micky loses herself in drink and random sex with just about any woman who crosses her path.

In the first book, Micky is well on the road to self-destruction. Her journey through the eight books is a massive roller coaster ride. Just when you think she’s moving towards a happy ever after, Hurricane Katrina arrives and knocks everything sideways.

As a writer of romance novels, I’m always hoping for the perfect HEA. This, however, is dangerous territory for Micky, especially in the beginning, when she doesn’t think she deserves to be loved.

Reaching the end of this series, I know I’m going to have withdrawal symptoms. For all her faults, Micky is a thoroughly believable character. I’d love to spend an evening sitting on a bar stool next to her, sipping Scotch and listening to her stories.

Other characters that come close to engendering the feelings I’ve experienced reading these books are Katherine V Forrest’s Kate Delafield and Jaye Maiman’s Robin Miller. Flawed and edgy; great at making the big decisions in order to catch criminals, but not so good at relationship choices.



With any genre, writers are putting themselves on the line. My romantic stories are softer in tone than the ones featuring toughened detectives. How hard is it to be completely “naked on the page” when writing a love story? However, I do at times wonder if I’m subconsciously censoring my own writing with the subliminal thought hovering in the background – “I can’t write that, my mother’s going to read this.”

I doubt that I will ever be able to create characters with as much depth as those created by the authors I’ve mentioned here. But I hope I have, so far, created characters and situations readers can recognise as real people. I may not be completely naked yet – maybe just down to my bra and panties.

I’ll leave you with that image (but no photo!).



Ebook links for The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks/Amazon US / Amazon UK / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

And don’t forget to take a look at The Starling Hill Trilogy – still available on Kindle Unlimited:

Ebook links for The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting Over: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Arc Over Time: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Carved in Stone: Amazon US / Amazon UK