Digging it out

I’m at Vindolanda starting the second week of a two week period of volunteering – taking part in the ongoing archaeological excavations at this wonderful site near Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. This is my fifth year of doing this and coming back each time feels in a way like coming home. (A strange feeling to have for an area of Britain that endured almost four centuries of Roman occupation.)

EF2F8053-9EBA-4667-A2C2-63418546A6E1

View of the Vindolanda site

But there is something about this landscape that calls to me. Spending two weeks of the year scraping away layers of earth and stone is an incredibly satisfying experience.

ADFEFD34-B2D8-47AD-B237-DFBD9076DBF2

Action shot from last week

Most of the rest of the year my time is taken up with digging into the lives of the characters in my stories. Frustrating and rewarding in equal parts – much like during the excavation period when I have a personal drought in the finds department while the person next to me uncovers an amazing artefact. (I keep hoping to find an abandoned cavalry sword, but that seems unlikely to happen in the next week.)

On June 1st my eighth novel, Calling Home, is released by Affinity Rainbow Publications. When I started writing the story I only had a vague idea of how it would end – and when I was floundering about in the mushy middle, there were times when I wondered if I would ever actually get there. But as with any excavation, digging through layers eventually yields results. Each of the main characters discover things about themselves that have lain hidden for many years.

E2E7DA25-3C91-42C6-8AC9-07B6D1121277

Setting the story on an island in the middle of a lake gives it the feel, I think, of a ‘cosy’ mystery. All the characters are there for a reason which is eventually revealed. There’s even a bit of police work involved but I don’t think I’ll be closing in on Agatha Christie territory just yet.

And, with it being a romance, there is a good chance that one or two characters might fall in love.

Excerpt from Calling Home:

With lunch out of the way and most of her dinner prep done, Berry removed her apron and hung it up behind the door before venturing out into the sunshine. Three days of sun in a row. She was all for global warming if it was an improvement to the climate of the British Isles.

Galen was just disappearing around the corner of the house, wearing a backpack and carrying her longbow case. Berry followed at a discreet distance. She had heard Galen telling Sarah that the archery range was set up and she would be trying it out that afternoon.

She let Galen get ahead of her, slowing her steps. Berry knew another way to get to the clearing so that the other woman wouldn’t hear her approach. The route took her close to the lake and then looped back through the woods again. As she reached the edge of the open space, she heard the muffled sound of an arrow hitting the straw target boss.

Leaning against a tree just out of Galen’s line of sight, she watched her nock another arrow onto the bowstring. In one fluid motion, Galen lifted the bow and drew the string back to her face. When she let the string go, the arrow flew straight, landing on the outer edge of the gold. Without removing her gaze from the target, Galen nocked another arrow and raised the bow again. This time the arrow found the centre. With a grunt of satisfaction, she set the bow down and walked forward.

Berry moved out of her hiding place and waited for Galen to return after collecting the arrows. She didn’t seem surprised to see her and Berry wondered if she had known she was there all along. Suddenly ashamed of her stalkerish behaviour, Berry could feel her cheeks reddening.

Galen just smiled and said, “Do you want to have a go?”

“I don’t think I’m strong enough.”

Calling Home

If you’re feeling strong enough, the first chapter is available here.

And I hope I’m strong enough to cope with the next week of digging. The weather looks set fair so we’ll keep at it and see what secrets can be revealed.


7books

Buying links:

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

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

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy Omnibus edition: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords


 

A Goldie Finalist!

I couldn’t have imagined when I became a published author in 2014 that one of my books would achieve this accolade.

Changing Perspectives, my seventh novel published by Affinity Rainbow Publications, is one of five books on the 2018 Golden Crown Literary Festival’s finalist list for a General Fiction award.

genfiction_finalists2018

Just to see my book listed with these other wonderful authors is a thrill. I would like to congratulate everyone who has made it through to the finalist round. I’m particularly happy for another Affinity author, Renee MacKenzie – her book Pausing is a finalist in the Contemporary Romance (short fiction) category. (The full list of 2018 finalists shown here)

Whether or not Changing Perspectives is chosen as one of the General Fiction winners, I still have a 100% chance of being a winner. There are only two books in the Anthology/Collections (Fiction) category and I have a story in each of them.

anthology_finalists

New book release

Calling Home

The release date for my latest book is 15 June 2018. The first chapter is available to read on the Affinity Rainbow Publications website.

Back of the book description:

Sarah Frost enjoys her dream job as director of the Frost Foundation making her home at one of their writers’ retreats, The Lodge on the Lake. The general manager of The Lodge is Berry Fields, an old childhood friend.

Galen Thomas arrives at the island to fill the post of handy person, taking an extended break from her vet’s practice to help her decide how to shape her future life and career.

When the next group of writers arrives for their two-week retreat, along with Sarah’s grandmother, tensions start to surface. Magda Frost doesn’t approve of the appointment of the “vet” and still questions Sarah’s decision to hire Berry.

The island idyll is soon undermined by the revelation of events from forty years earlier, threatening the lives and loves of Sarah, Berry, and Galen. Calling home and what they now call home—all are affected by the disturbing legacy from the past.

Happy Valley Pride Festival news

I’m pleased to be able to announce the line up for the Lesbian Writers Read event being held during the festival week – on Tuesday 7 August. This year, Cari Hunter and Lise Gold are making a return visit. Jody Klaire is taking a road trip with Em and Ferb to join us. Along with Lola Keeley who is travelling from Edinburgh. Then there are two of us local authors – myself and Deborah Delano. More details to follow soon. (Report from last year’s event)

That’s all for now. I’ll be heading up to Vindolanda at the weekend for a two-week excavation session. Looking forward to it as always – although my wife refers to it as ‘extreme gardening’.

vindo14


7books

Buying Links:

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

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

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy Omnibus edition: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords


 

 

 

 

 

Trees

A month has passed since my last blog when I talked about sheds and lack of progress on my current work-in-progress.

Good news on both fronts. Since then a solid shed base has been laid and the new shed is now sitting on it looking all clean and…well, shed-like. I’ve spent the morning putting things in, neatly. It may not stay that way, but at the moment it is super organised and my wife is not allowed in. (I’m definitely on the OCD spectrum where the shed is involved.)

My current WIP has now reached 40,000 words. So I feel I’m through the mushy middle and can proceed in an orderly fashion to a suitable ending. It was a bit boggy for a while and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to climb out. I love seeing that top bar on the target indicator starting to head towards a greener colour.

progress

I’ve titled this blog “Trees’ because my wife and I went for a walk in the woods by Hebden Beck last week and we took some pictures. It’s that time of year here when the leaves haven’t come out and I enjoyed seeing the amazing array of shapes made by the trunks and branches.

trees1trees2

trees3

And that’s all for this week. I’ll keep on writing, reading…and keeping the shed tidy.

Check out the April newsletter from Affinity Rainbow Publications – new releases plus a preview of the cover for my next book, due out in June.

Calling_home_preview


7books

Buying Links:

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

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

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy Omnibus edition: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords


 

 

Of sheds and other things…

Two years ago I posted a blog about finding the loaded gun. Not in the real sense, but in the literary one. I’ve also written about being stuck in the mushy middle. This is where I am now with my current work-in-progress. In the middle of a bog and sinking fast. And I haven’t located the metaphorical ‘loaded gun’.

Anyway this started me thinking about another way of looking at the problem. A few weeks ago we had our garden shed removed. It had been in place for 24 years and was rotting away. (Bear with me, this will relate to the writing shortly.) Taking it away wasn’t a problem – seeing what was underneath was. The archaeological finds weren’t very interesting. Old bricks, rubber matting, bits of pipe and so on…even an old golf ball.

rubble

So before we have a new shed installed, we need to have this heap of slag dug out and a level base laid. I figured this was a useful analogy for writing a novel. A firm foundation is required. The question I’m asking myself on my current WIP is…am I trying to build my story on a large pile of crap? At 28,000 words, this is an uncomfortable thought.

(Note: if you read my ‘Writing blues’ blog posted on 10 Feb – I abandoned the extension of the ‘Maybe This Christmas’ story and went back to the previous WIP. I have, since then, only managed another six thousand words on this project and passed the 15 March deadline when I had planned to have the first draft finished. Hence my dilemma!)

project_target

To quote John Cleese’s famous line from Monty Python’s Flying Circus…“And now for something completely different”…time to move on, perhaps.

Portrait woman

Last Friday morning, I was greeted with this lovely review of Changing Perspectives by Kate Cudahy. I love the fact that she really ‘got’ the two main characters, Dani and Camila. The opening paragraph of the review certainly gave me an early morning buzz:

This is such a delight of a book – I enjoyed it so much that I read it in two days and then felt sorry there wasn’t more. Set in the early 90s, Changing Perspectives is more than just a romance. It also sensitively unpacks the whole concept of kink and why some girls (and guys) are into it.


New book

I have a new book coming out in June, published by Affinity Rainbow Publications. Calling Home is quite different from my other books and I will have a cover reveal soon as well as the back of the book description to share. In the meantime, here’s a taster:

Berry opened her eyes to see Galen standing by the bed holding her duvet. Relief swept through her until her brain registered that the light was on and she was naked.

“Um, sorry.” Galen dropped the duvet back down and Berry brought it up to her chin. “I heard a noise.” She sat down at the end of the bed. “Are you okay? Can I get you anything?”

“Water,” she managed to croak out. There was a glass on her bedside cabinet but it was empty. Berry didn’t remember drinking it.

‘Okay. Be right back.” Galen took the glass into the bathroom to fill it. “Sip it slowly,” she said when she came back.

Berry didn’t know which was more embarrassing—the fact that Saff must have told Galen about her nightmares, or that Galen had seen her naked. However, it did have the effect of banishing the memories that held her captive most nights.

When she had drained the last of the water, Galen took the glass from her. “Do you want some more?”

“No, or I’ll be peeing all night. If you could just fill it again and leave it here, that would be great.”

Now that Berry was more awake she realised Galen was only wearing a tank top and boxer shorts. The view from both the front and the back was mesmerising.

Galen placed the full glass on the cabinet. “Would you like me to stay for a while? Help you get back to sleep.”

“That’s not necessary. I should be okay now.”

“Well, it will save me a trip down the hall. Scoot over and I’ll get the light.”

Berry thought that sleep was going to be impossible with Galen lying next to her but when she opened her eyes again the morning light was streaming through her open windows. And she was alone.

And while I wait for my writing muse to return from wherever she’s sunning herself enjoying a mojito or two, I will sit here and contemplate the meaning of sheds.


7books

Buying Links:

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

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

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy Omnibus edition: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords


Maybe a snow day, maybe not

Braced for the great snowstorm of 2018 here in the UK – billed in the media as the ‘beast from the east’ – my wife’s shopped for the impending snowcalypse, along with everyone else in the area who have faith in the weather forecast. Excellent business for supermarkets as the shelves are emptied of bread, milk, alcoholic beverages…

 weather

Will we be waking up to a snow-covered landscape Tuesday morning? Will there be traffic chaos, cancelled buses and trains, school closures? Perhaps in some parts of the country. But I think we’ll get a few snowflakes drifting about here, barely leaving a covering on the grass.

I grew up in southern Ontario, Canada. I don’t recall ever missing school because of snow. Then I took a job in a town in northern British Columbia. I was advised to invest in long underwear as soon as I arrived in October. And to buy cross-country skis as soon as I could. Temperatures regularly plummeted to -30F (this is where I learned that -40 is the same in either Fahrenheit or Celsius). No one ever missed work because of snowstorms or freezing cold temperatures though.

The last time we had significant snowfall here was in December 2009, lasting well into January 2010.

Anne_snowpeople

Pictured here: My wife with two snowpeople we created on Christmas Day, 2009 – staying at a hotel on Lake Windermere – the lake completely obliterated from view in the background.

IMG_0135

Above: At home in January 2010, looking across the valley from the high school playing fields. The school was closed for an extra two weeks after the Christmas holidays that year.

So although I wouldn’t wish the disruption to everyone’s lives that a massive snowfall can bring, I’m sort of hoping for something big from the ‘beast from the east’. I would like to make a snowperson in my garden. Even if it only has a short life, like this snowthing I managed in January 2015, melting rapidly the day after its creation.

snowthing2

Snow, or no snow…this is always a good time of year to settle down with a book. Happy reading as the shortest month moves rapidly towards March!


7books

Buying Links:

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

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

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy Omnibus edition: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords


 

Writing blues

Middle of February and I’m feeling out of it. The weather’s crap so I should be writing up a storm. No plans to be anywhere, no commitments. But, can I write? No. Sitting in front of the screen, looking at the page, seeing my project target stuck on a lower number than I would like. After 22,000 words, my latest WIP has hit a brick wall. I know where I want the story to go, but I can’t get there.

project1

Fine. So, what do I do? Go back to the previous WIP that stalled on 3,400 words back in November. This one should be easier. The characters are from the short story that appeared in Affinity’s Christmas Medley anthology – Maybe This Christmas. I like these characters. The setting is where I live, an area that I love writing about.

That seemed to part of the problem with the other story. I was finding that I didn’t like the characters or the situation. If I don’t love my characters, then I can’t expect a reader to want to read about them.

Okay, so the extension of the Christmas story is a good possibility. Emma and Zan are two months into the relationship that started then. They seem well suited to each other – what could possibly go wrong? That’s one theme to carry forward. Then there’s Emma’s best friend, Sass. I know that her story needs developing. Of the group of friends in the Christmas story, she’s the one who has the most potential for a story arc.

Wow, I almost sound like I know what I’m doing. I’ve noted down some ideas and managed to write 600 words this morning. Maybe not quite as quickly as the water rushing over the weir or with the enthusiasm of the tree branches reaching up to the blue sky…but I know the words will come through…eventually.

water

branches

I really hope I can keep this story going. When I’m not writing,not excited about a project, everything feels a bit flat. Time to shake that off and perk up. March will be here soon.

On another note, I’m pleased to find that my novel, Changing Perspectives, is doing well. This was the one that took me 24 years to finish. Hopefully my latest WIP won’t take that long to complete – even though it feels like it might at the rate I’m going at the moment.


7books

Buying Links:

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

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

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy Omnibus edition: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords


 

First blog of 2018

My first blog of 2018, almost three weeks into the new year…

What have I been doing with that time? Well, it’s a sort of semi-hibernation. Gone are the days of making resolutions I’m not going to keep…wasted gym memberships, home exercise regimes, diets, lists of household chores. However, I have been doing some reading, a bit of writing, planning some holidays for later in the year.

On the writing front, a new story is starting to take shape. But this is the gestation period. And I know I can’t rush it. The ideas are coming through…slowly but surely.

This week though it’s mainly been weather-watching. Every day we’ve been told it’s going to snow. Reports on the news of disaster on the roads, power cuts, trains and buses cancelled, airports closed.

weather_jan19

Two snowflakes indicate heavy snow showers. (Not so far today!)

The BBC Weather app shows snow for us today, as this screenshot from yesterday shows. Well, wherever the snow is falling, it’s avoiding this part of the region. Rain, a bit of sleet,  I can see a smattering of snow on the hills but here in the valley we have none.

Maybe I should be grateful we’re not suffering any ill effects from the weather  but I can’t help feeling  disappointed to look out the window and see that it’s only raining… again.

Apart from the no-show snow, life goes on. In a few months time I’ll be heading back up to Vindolanda for my fifth year of digging on the site. Last year, only a few weeks after my session ended, a lucky volunteer found a sword. Someone else came across more writing tablets. I hope they’ve left something for me to find.

kneepads

Can’t wait to get stuck in!

In June we have a golf holiday booked, a week in East Lothian playing on some of their very fine courses.

golf_northberwick

This was in August on a previous occasion – hope it’s a bit warmer in June this year.

The month of August is looking particularly busy. There’s the week long Happy Valley Pride Festival in Hebden Bridge from the 6th to the 12th. Lots of activity over the coming months as preparations gear up.

Then ELLCon. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth talking about it again. The very first European Lesfic Literary Conference is being held in Bristol on 23/24 August. Take a look at the website to see how the programme is shaping up and book your place. The site also has useful information about accommodation options in the city.

Earlier this month, I was featured on the EllCon Author Spotlight page and gave away a signed copy of Changing Perspectives. The winner was Amy Barr from Pennsylvania. I’m guessing she won’t be attending the conference, so I was certainly happy to send her a book.

ellcon_spotlight

Book cover images used for ELLCon Author Spotlight promo

On the book front…June is the proposed date for the release of my next novel, Calling Home. This one is very different from any of the others. A bit of mystery involved, but not a detective novel. Still a fair bit of romance.

Also, if you haven’t yet read The Starling Hill Trilogy, now is your chance to pick up all three books for the price of one. My lovely publisher, Affinity Rainbow Publications, released the omnibus edition on not just Amazon, but also Bella Books, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. It has been available on the Affinity website for some time. They’re very generous like that and it’s worth visiting their site to check out all their authors, and a good number of free books.

trilogy_omnibus

Happy reading for January and the rest of the year!


Book Links:

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy Omnibus edition: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords


 

 

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)

decbookcovers2_logo

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

storycovers

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.

group_discussion

 

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.

affinity_gcls2017

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.

before_dinner_group

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.

Dancing_T1

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.

dark_rising

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.

lion_wardrobe

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.

winter_holiday

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.

twobooksdec

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.

authorbooks

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?”

“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.


christmas_medley

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).

mulled_glass


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

Christmas Medley: Affinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK