My year in review

Looking back, I’ve had a very good year writing-wise with two novels published and three short stories included in three different anthologies.

Books: Changing Perspectives and Running From Love (shortlisted for a Diva Literary Award in Romance)


Short Stories: Con Virgin Convert in Conference Call / Maybe This Christmas in Affinity’s Christmas Medley / Gateway to Heaven in Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars


2017 also saw the first Lesbian reading event held in Hebden Bridge during the Happy Valley Pride festival. Many thanks to authors Lise Gold, Robyn Nyx, Brey Willows, and Cari Hunter for taking part on a wet evening in August – and to Helen Baron for hosting the event in her haberdashery, Ribbon Circus.



I attended the GCLS conference in Chicago – always a wonderful opportunity to meet up with many readers, authors and publishers – plus, of course the Affinity team pictured here: Angela Koenig, Renee MacKenzie, Annette Mori, Ali Spooner and myself.


The inaugural Diva Literary Festival was another highlight offering the chance to connect with a host of authors and readers from the UK and Europe.


Pictured here with Caroline Manchoulas, Clare Lydon, and Harper Bliss – all dressed up for the Awards dinner

I also celebrated the 30th anniversary of living with my wife. We had a lovely gathering with friends, plus local singer/songwriter, Terry Logan, came along and added to the fun by playing some tunes for us.


And she even got me up ‘dancing’!

Other highlights of 2017 included two weeks of digging at Vindolanda, visits to the British Library and Gladstone’s Library, spending time with my mother in Victoria and Vancouver – plus the regular activities of golf, archery and boxercise.

Looking forward to next year – I have a new novel due out in June. I’m also looking forward to taking part in the first ever European Lesfic Literary Conference (ELLCon) in Bristol in August.

I’m ready to welcome in the new year…hope you are too!

Book Links:

Changing Perspectives: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Christmas Medley: Affinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK

Our Happy Hours: Bella Books / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble

Conference Call: Bella Books


Winter Solstice reading

Celebrate the return of the light (in the northern hemisphere) as the shortest day has arrived!

Discovered on Twitter this week – fans of Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising read the book every year, ideally starting on Midwinter Eve (20 December). This is something I do ever since I came across the book in a Toronto bookshop sometime in the late 1970s. The copy I have was published in 1973. Although The Dark is Rising is the second book chronologically in the series, it was the first one I read and remains my favourite of the five books.


1973 edition of The Dark Is Rising

The 2007 film version, “The Seeker”, was largely a flop. Fans of the book weren’t impressed, particularly as it was so Americanised. There was nothing of the contrasts of the young hero’s cosy family life in a Buckinghamshire village pitted against the ancient battle between good and evil – based primarily on Arthurian themes and a mix of other myths and legends.

Some of the family’s traditions in the book remind me of my own childhood. We didn’t burn a Yule log, but I recall making paper chains and bringing in the live Christmas tree on the 24th of December to decorate. I may have been told then, but I didn’t register the religious significance of the twelve days of Christmas – only that the tree was brought into the house in preparation for the first day – and taken down afterwards on January 6th.

I think this musician, Handspan, has caught the atmosphere of the time of the story brilliantly with his musical compositions. He’s putting a different tune on his Soundcloud site every day – the previous one will disappear after 24 hours. And if you want to join in with the Twitter discussion group just follow this link or put in #TheDarkIsReading.

A little bit of magic at Christmas appeals to my inner child. I’m sure anyone who read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at a tender age still remember the horror of reading about a place where it was always winter but never Christmas.


Another book from my childhood (and let’s face it, my increasing adulthood) that gets read every year is Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome. Of the twelve books in his Swallows and Amazons series, this one remains a firm favourite. The story takes place after Christmas and the children are hoping that the lake will freeze over before they have to go back to school. They want to be able to skate to the ‘North Pole’ at the far end of the lake. It doesn’t seem likely until their holidays are extended by a month when one of them gets mumps and they’re all quarantined. Although no magic is involved, the story feels magical, within a world suspended by the onslaught of snow and ice.


For my wife and I, Christmas gift buying shrinks each year. We’ve reached the conclusion there’s no point in getting each other anything other than books. So we exchange lists.

This year I’ve asked for Philip Pullman’s new one, The Book of Dust, La Belle Sauvage. The start of another trilogy—I can’t wait to delve into Pullman’s magical world.

For a different kind of magical journey, you could take a trip to Winterbourne House, a lesbian retreat, in Christmas at Winterbourne.

And for variety, the Christmas Medley anthology offers eight Christmas-related stories from Affinity authors.


Buying links:

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

Christmas Medley: Affinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK


Sexplicity reigns

An early Christmas present…the author copies of Changing Perspectives arrived from my publisher, Affinity Rainbow Publications.


Thank you to everyone who has bought the book and an extra thank you to those readers who have reviewed it so far. For her review on the Lesbian Reading Room website, Velvet Lounger, used the tag ‘sexplicit’. I was thrilled. My novels prior to this one probably wouldn’t fit the ‘sexplicit’ tag. Sexplicity has not been my strong point in writing these romances.

Excerpt – a teaser:

…Dani opened the fridge. “Oh damn. The maid hasn’t done the shopping.”

“The maid—” Camila suddenly started laughing.

“What’s funny?”

“You are. I really thought you did have a maid.”

Dani grinned at her. “You didn’t?”

“I did.” Camila was holding on to the table, doubled over with laughter.

Dani went over and hugged her. Then they were kissing with a desperate urgency, as if it had been much longer than two nights and days since they last made love. Camila’s stomach rumbled loudly, causing Dani to stop her exploration of Camila’s mouth with her tongue. “When did you last eat?”

“Must have been breakfast time. We worked through lunch and only had time for a mad dash for the plane.”

“Right, so we can get a snack at the Lion or order a takeaway.”

“Takeaway.” Camila didn’t seem to want Dani to let go of her.

“Chinese or Indian?”


Dani released her to find the menu. Camila went upstairs to shower and change while Dani rang the order through and prepared drinks, a gin and tonic for Camila and a beer for herself.

Later, having finished the last of the meal, licking the remnants of sauce off each other’s fingers, Camila said, “Dani, I have to ask you something.”

“Sounds serious.”

“It’s just a bit embarrassing.”

“I don’t think you could embarrass me.”

“It’s me who is embarrassed. I mean, I’m nearly forty years old and I feel like an inexperienced virgin in this regard.”

“So are you going to tell me before you get much older?”

Camila looked down at the table and started tidying the cartons.

Dani stopped her, grasping her hands. “Come on, it’s me. You can ask me anything.”

“Promise not to laugh?”

“I’ll try. Not promising though, as I don’t know what it is.”

Camila blushed. “Um, the thing is, I wondered, do you have a dildo?”

Dani bit her lip, trying not to burst out laughing. She looked at the ceiling to get herself under control before she could speak. “Yes, actually, one or two. Why?” she asked with feigned innocence.

“I just thought I might like to try it, if you’re willing to, of course.”

Dani took a deep breath. “I think I could force myself.”

Camila studied her face. “Are you laughing at me?”

“Not at all. Come on, let’s do it.” She stood and pulled Camila up with her.

“What about the dishes?”

“Oh, we’ll leave those for the maid.

Quote from Velvet’s review:

“…Excellent storyline, interesting characters, gentle exploration of the fetish/S&M scene of the era and a delightful journey of self-discovery, this is definitely Jen Silver’s best to date…”

Back of the book blurb:

London, 1993

Art director, Dani Barker, lives life on the edge and getting into a fight in a lesbian leather bar on a Friday night isn’t an unusual occurrence.

Camila Callaghan, finance director for a large company, feels satisfied with her life in most respects. She enjoys her job and thinks it’s necessary to stay in the closet to maintain the position she’s worked hard to achieve.

When Dani and Camila meet, they both sense an attraction, but is it merely curiosity with each other’s contrasting lives? Dani hopes that Camila can be the partner she has longed for since her earliest forays into SM. The boundaries of Camila’s settled world start to blur as she questions her own feelings for Dani and what she represents.

Will their differences make a long-term relationship achievable? A change of perspective for both women is needed if they are to reach this goal.

Not really a seasonal story but it does end at Christmas.


More Christmas reading fare is available from Affinity Rainbow Publications with the Christmas Medley – a delightful collection of stories from eight Affinity authors. So, time to get out the party hats, pull a few crackers and enjoy a glass or two of mulled wine (non-alcoholic versions are available).


Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

Christmas Medley: Affinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK

Pull a Christmas Cracker!

With Christmas only a few weeks away, it’s time to revisit Winterbourne House.


Writing this story was an absolute joy and I loved being able to get in a number of Christmas cracker jokes. When the book was in the beta editing stage, my American editor informed me she didn’t know what a Christmas cracker was and thought I needed to expand the context in the story for the benefit of overseas readers.

I found this a rather shocking revelation. Surely not a whole nation deprived of sharing Christmas crackers, pulling them apart with eyes scrunched waiting for the bang, to gain access to a (very likely) useless gift, a paper hat, and a joke that’s guaranteed to make everyone at the table groan.

Excerpt from Christmas at Winterbourne:

…JJ insisted on silence while she read out the joke from her cracker.

“Okay, everyone. Can you guess the answer to this? How did Scrooge win the football game?”

With a collective groan, they all shook their heads.

“The ghost of Christmas passed.”

More groans and a quick shuffle of hands digging the small slips of paper out from the rubble of the cracker debris left on the table.

Clare was the next to join in.

“Why did Santa’s helper see the doctor?” She looked around the table. “No takers. Okay. Because he had low elf esteem.”

Rose followed this. “What do you get if you cross a bell with a skunk?”

To Candice’s amazement, Mags jumped in. “Oh, I know that one. Jingle smells.”

They carried on around the table and only stopped when the next course was brought in.…

That was at the dinner on Christmas Eve. The guests had another chance to open crackers during the Christmas day lunch.


I was delighted when Clare Lydon posted her top festive picks and Christmas at Winterbourne was first on the list. Here’s what Clare said about the story:

Not a romance but rather an ensemble piece, this book is based in a rambling old estate in Sussex, run by lesbians and now a lesbian retreat. There a truckload of characters to get your head around at first – I got dizzy keeping up at one point – but once you do, you’ll find you’re a guest at the house, too, along with the couples young and old, the newly blooming romances, the heartbroken and the about-to-give-birth.

This book is a gentle observational snapshot of Christmastime in a house full of lesbians, replete with a touch of drama, along with lashings of mulled wine and mince pies. It’s an easy read that draws you in and has a bumper crop of cracker jokes, along with skinny dipping, snowball fights and flowing champagne.

Yes, there are a lot of characters and I make no apology for that. Just come on in and enjoy meeting the ‘ensemble’ as Clare said.

Back of the book description:

The Christmas festivities for the guests booked into Winterbourne House have all the goings-on of a traditional holiday. The only difference is that this guesthouse is run by lesbians, for lesbians.

When the guests arrive, tensions are already simmering between the house’s owner Wilma (Wil) and very pregnant partner, Gabriella. Wil has a lot on her plate… ensuring the smooth running of the events, looking after all the guests, including her in-laws and business partners. What she hasn’t planned for is a ghost from Christmas past.

Wil inherited Winterbourne from her adopted mother, Kim Russell, author of a series of successful lesbian novels. Most of the guests who stay, do so because they are fans of the author.

One guest, Sally Hunter, is on a mission to write Kim’s official biography. She meets with resistance from the people at the house she tries to interview, stirring up memories from those who knew the reclusive writer well.

For a bit of extra spice to the festivities, add in an unexpected snowstorm, a disappearing guest, and an imminent birth. Join the guests and staff at Winterbourne for a Christmas you’ll not soon forget.

And while we’re on the subject of Christmas, don’t miss out on Affinity’s Christmas Medley – a collection of stories from eight Affinity authors.


Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

Christmas Medley: Affinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK


Christmas cheer


Eight Affinity authors took up the challenge to write a Christmas-related short story. The task was to write a longer short story this time so the stories in this anthology range from 10,000 to 20,000 words.

This was definitely out of my comfort zone for writing a ‘short’ story, having only managed between 3,000 and 5,000 word stories in the past.

However, once I was over the 4,000-word mark, I knew that it was going to go the distance. The story is titled Maybe This Christmas, inspired by a song from Tracey Thorn’s “Tinsel and Lights” album.


Emma Jones has had a bad year. Her girlfriend dumped her on Christmas Eve and now with December 25th looming once again, she can’t avoid the constant reminders of the festive season. Her friends try to be supportive by either telling her it’s time she got over it, or by attempting to set her up with other women. Emma hasn’t succeeded in getting over it, and her friends haven’t had any success in getting her interested in anyone else. Until Suzanne (Zan) Phillips walks into their local pub one night and sets her pulse racing.

Zan is a newcomer to the area, having moved from London to start a job in a northern town where she doesn’t know anyone. She takes the initiative by asking one of her new work colleagues where she can meet lesbians. Unknown to her, Sassafras (Sass) Scott is one of Emma’s best mates. When Zan accepts an invitation to join Sass and her friends in a pub one evening, she doesn’t expect to meet a woman she is immediately attracted to.

Can Emma overcome her fear of having her heart stomped on again? Will Zan succeed where others have failed?

I grew to love these characters and I’m seriously considering expanding their adventures into a novel-length story.

If you can’t wait for that to happen, you can delve into Christmas at Winterbourne – and immerse yourself in the festivities at a lesbian guesthouse over the holiday period.


One reviewer’s comments sum it up well:

“This is a love story with great humour, relationship angst and deep emotions running through it. The fact that it is set at Christmas makes it all the more special, with a cosy, traditional feeling. I felt as if I was there with them all. The setting is beautifully described and Jen Silver has got me so convinced that I want to book a stay there!”

Happy holiday reading!

Buying links:

Christmas Medley: Affinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes