GCLS 2016

In my previous blog posted on 27 June, I wrote about my GCLS firsts from attending the 2015 conference in New Orleans.

I can now report back on my experience at the 2016 Con in Washington DC. From start to finish I can truthfully say I had a wonderful time. It was lovely to touch base with old friends and meet new ones.

Arriving late afternoon on Tuesday, 5 July, I had plenty of time to settle into my room, shower and then make my way down to the bar area to see who was around. Ali Spooner and I had arranged to meet there and it was already filling up with lots of familiar faces.

Wednesday morning was set up time in the Vendor Room and it didn’t take the four of us long to get our book displays ready. Annette Mori and Renee McKenzie had been late arriving the night before so this was the first time we’d met up since the previous year. The morning passed very quickly with sorting out our table, registering and just generally finding out where everything was.

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Ali Spooner has it covered!

My first session was an Author Spotlight reading on Wednesday afternoon. As there were only four of us, we were given an extra minute to read, so I felt more relaxed than I had the year before. I was joined by Jane DiLucchio, MB Panichi, and Chris Parsons with moderator, Catherine Maiorisi.

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From a book selling point of view, the conference was a resounding success. Of the 25 books I had available, only one has returned home with me. Many thanks to everyone who bought books and to all who stopped by for a chat and a laugh.

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Two of our distinguished table visitors: Lee Lynch and Mercedes Lewis

For the Author signing session  we were supposed to be seated alphabetically to make it easier for signees to find us. It was a bit of a scrum and I somehow ended up between Kenna White and Caren Werlinger. But no one seemed to mind. We had a nice time chatting anyway. I was pleased to find out that Caren also plays golf and has dabbled in archery.

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I wasn’t sure I would survive the Politics in Poetry panel as the only non-poet. But I managed to say a few things and not much could really go wrong with such an awesome line-up.

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Politics of Poetry panel: Moderator E M Hodge with Mercedes Lewis, Lucy Madison, Jen Silver, Carol Rosenfeld, and Jewelle Gomez

The awards evening came around all too quickly. The group photo was taken before the start and I think that is Annette’s ‘trying not to panic’ face. She managed not to trip on the way up to the podium on her high heels and did a lovely acceptance speech when accepting the Traditional Contemporary Romance Award for her book, Locked Inside. Although she did say the word ‘crap’ a few times and forgot to thank the readers – for which she has apologised profusely on Facebook.

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A winning team: Ali Spooner, Jen Silver, Annette Mori, and Renee MacKenzie

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Annette with her Goldie…look at that smile!

So, it was an incredibly busy and fast moving four and a half days. As a group we also hosted an Affinity dinner on Thursday evening.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show karaoke was another highlight. I’ve never seen the film so hadn’t brought a costume. These characters more than made up for my lack of foresight though.

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Dr Frank N Furter, Brad, a bemused Jen, and Janet

Many thanks to the organisers of the event and the many volunteers who helped with the preparations and the intricacies of managing such a packed programme.

The planning for the 2017 conference is already well underway. Will I make it to Chicago next year? I certainly hope I can. Watching everyone have so much fun from afar would be painful.


Where to buy my books:

The Circle Dance: Affinity 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

GCLS firsts

In just over a week’s time I will be setting off to the GCLS Conference, held in Washington DC this year.

Last year, I attended the conference in New Orleans. I was a ‘Con Virgin’ at that event—so I can now say I lost my virginity in NOLA.

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Last year’s ‘Con Virgin’

GCLS 2015 saw many ‘firsts’ for me…first public reading, first signing of my books in public, first panel discussions, first time in New Orleans (and, of course, first hugs from Beth Burnett).

I expect I will feel just as nervous when it comes to doing the reading in the Author Spotlight session this year. I can only hope I remember to breath this time and don’t lose my voice part way through.

This year, sees another first—being asked to be a presenter at the Awards Ceremony. That sounds like fun as well as a tremendous honour. (Note to self: don’t trip on the way up to the podium)

My conference timetable:

Tuesday evening: check out the Affinity table in the Vendor Room

Wednesday morning: meet up with Affinity authors to set up the table with a wonderful array of books, t-shirts, bookmarks and other promo items.

Wednesday afternoon: Author Spotlight from 2:00 to 3:00, reading from The Circle Dance

Thursday evening: Helping to host the Affinity authors’ dinner

Friday afternoon: Author signing session

Saturday morning: Taking part in The Politics of Poetry Panel from 9:40 to 10:30

Saturday afternoon: Dry run for Awards Presenters from 3:30 to 3:45

Saturday evening: Attending the Awards Ceremony and probably avoiding dancing if at all possible.

I don’t know if it’s a first for my publisher, Affinity eBooks, but they have four finalists in this year’s award categories – listed here in no particular order:

Requiem for Vukovar by Angela Koenig in Dramatic/General Fiction

The Presence by Charlene Neil in Paranormal/Horror

Locked Inside by Annette Mori in Traditional Contemporary Romance

Locked Inside cover by Nancy Kaufman for the Tee Corinne Outstanding Cover Design Award

Keeping everything crossed for all our finalists – and congratulations whatever the outcome as there’s a lot of talent on show here.

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Aiming for ‘Affinity and beyond’ – with Annette Mori and Ali Spooner (sorry, no pic of Renee MacKenzie again – she wasn’t hiding – just seated at the other end of the table)

In between times I can likely be found at the Affinity Vendor table. Please stop by, even if you don’t want to buy any books. We’re a friendly bunch and love talking to people. As I think I’ve mentioned before, Affinity is being represented this year by Ali Spooner, Annette Mori, Renee MacKenzie and myself.

I also plan to take in a few other conference sessions when I can as well as trying to fit in some sightseeing, so these few days are going to pass very quickly, I feel. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone I met last year, plus others I didn’t. I’m not looking forward to Sunday when it’s time to say goodbye again.

The last item on my itinerary is for Sunday afternoon and beyond when the post-conference withdrawal symptoms start to surface. The best way to banish these feelings is to start planning to attend the 2017 conference in Chicago.


Another first closer to home is seeing my books on the ‘Books to buy’ shelf of one of the local cafés. The paperbacks are also available in the Book Case, the independent book store in Hebden Bridge.

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Lots of older lesfic books available at The Mooch Café in Hebden Bridge – and some newer Jen Silver books!

 

Also last week, not a first, but my second Book Clip appeared on The Lesbian Talk Show podcast site – a reading from the first book in The Starling Hill Trilogy, Starting Over. (All the LTS podcasts are available on Podbean, iTunes and Stitcher – and well worth a listen.)


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The Jen Silver Collection

Where to buy:

The Circle Dance: Affinity 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

GCLS in Washington DC

Counting the days…has it really been almost a year since last year’s GCLS Conference in New Orleans?

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GCLS 2015 – Author signing

I feel the time is passing quickly and July 6 will be upon us very shortly. Especially now that I’ve checked the schedules and discovered that I’m on the very first Author Spotlight session on the Wednesday afternoon. So after you’ve registered, caught up with friends and met new ones, you’ll be able to listen to me and three other authors reading from our books. I’m thrilled to be in the same session with Jane DiLucchio, MB Panichi, and Chris Parsons. I think it’s quite an eclectic mix of writing styles. And Catherine Maiorisi has the moderator’s job of keeping us in line.

On the Saturday morning, I’m taking part in The Politics of Poetry panel. When my friend and moderator for this panel, E M Hodge, asked if I would be willing to participate, I was rather hesitant. I’m not a poet and I there’s not anything I know about politics that I would like to share in a public forum. But now the full line up has been revealed, I can relax. Jewelle Gomez is on this panel. Jewelle Gomez! I think the rest of us should just sit back and let her do the talking. Who wants to hear what I might have to say about the politics of poetry when you can listen to Jewelle Gomez?

I thought nothing could top last year’s GCLS with the abundance of lesbian icons in attendance…Dorothy Allison, Lee Lynch, Rita Mae Brown, J M Redmann. But the GCLS conference organisers have done it again. If anyone’s not sure about the value of attending a GCLS conference, just take a look at the line up. As well as the aforementioned Jewelle, there are authors I’ve admired from afar for many years…Katherine V Forrest, Karin Kallmaker, Lee Lynch, Radclyffe, Georgia Beers, Fay Jacobs…to name a few.

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Annette Mori, Jen Silver and Ali Spooner with C.d. Cain – who we had obviously coerced into buying our books, but she’s still smiling!

In the not-so-famous corner, Ali Spooner, Annette Mori, Renee MacKenzie, and myself are representing Affinity eBooks at the conference this year. Please come along and talk to us at the Affinity book table. We will have some super swag to give away…plus an awesome range of books for you to buy. (Apologies – no photo of Renee here – she was probably wrestling with an alligator somewhere.)

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The Jen Silver collection


Where to buy my books:

The Circle Dance: Affinity 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 / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

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

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

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.

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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.

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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

 

Spring reading

After the depressing images from last week’s blog about the floods in our area, I’ve taken some spring-like ones to day. New growth everywhere and the sheep grazing peacefully in the fields.

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Daffodils planted along the canal

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Newly planted flowerbed in the park

Storm Katie moved through during Easter weekend and brought devastation to other parts of the country. Here in the north we escaped with just heavy winds, some rain, and on Tuesday it snowed…a light dusting for the tops of the hills that didn’t last long enough for me to take a photo.

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Sheep in the fields

With the spring theme in mind, I’m attempting to spring into action in promoting my latest book. At one point last week, I was amazed to see The Circle Dance reach the #9 spot for lesbian romance on Amazon.com. Good going, I thought, for a book that was only released on 15 March. Plus, two reviews and both 5 star!

This is the one from Loek:

“Dealing with the pain, hurt by the betrayal, Jamie struggles to get her life back but loving again it’s not what she opted for. Getting over and moving on is not an easy thing to do. But with a little help from her friends, Jamie’s future does look promising. Yet there is an ex that could ruin everything. This is a sweet romance but not too sweet because there is enough drama, just like real life. The characters are realistic, the relationships have depth and complexity, the story keeps moving and there are several twists. It has all the ingredients for a great romance and it keeps you turning the pages. I didn’t even notice that I was already at the last page. It was sensitive, heartwarming. I would say, don’t miss this one.”

Thank you, Loek!

This reviewer has managed to put in a few sentences what I struggled with for several weeks when trying to come up with a succinct summary to submit to the publisher.

As part of the promotion process, I thought I would try recording a reading from the book. I selected a passage from Chapter One to read and only then discovered how hard it was for me to say the name Laurel without stumbling over it. Too late now to go back and change her name to Laura or Lauren. Anyway, I persevered, and this is the result. (Also haven’t mastered the art of turning pages quietly.)

Reading from Chapter One of The Circle Dance.

Should you not wish to listen to the not very professional recording, the whole of Chapter One is available to read on the Affinity website. The recording is of the seventh scene, which starts with the words: “The shower did its job, washing away the frustration of the last hour…”


 

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

 

Flood thoughts

I haven’t said much about the flooding that affected the whole of our valley and others. On Christmas Day 2015 the rain started to fall and it continued through the day into the evening, the night and the following day – and will now be forever remembered as ‘the Boxing Day floods’.

The village of Mytholmroyd, little known to the outside world, was suddenly headline news.

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The water on the left is usually a small brook flowing peacefully a good ten feet below the level of the road, on the right is the road.

We were away at the time, ironically, in the ‘Lake District’. They’d already suffered from heavy flooding with ancient bridges being swept away; people having to make big detours for what had once been short journeys. Watching the waters rising on the news reports, we knew that our house would be safe, but so many just a few hundred yards away, were inundated with floodwaters of biblical proportions.

Mytholmroyd, the name – according to one of my sources – means ‘the meeting of the waters’. It is, in fact, where the Turvin River (now called Elphin or Calder Brook) meets the bigger Calder River that runs through the valley. Through the course of the valley there is also the canal that runs between Manchester and Sowerby Bridge. Too little, too late perhaps – dredging operations are now taking place in the canal. The river is also heavily silted up.

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Some businesses have recovered well. The local independent bookstore in Hebden Bridge, The Bookcase, had their grand re-opening last week. They had no insurance, having been completely flooded out in the summer flood event of 2012. Through the help of their landlord, friends, the community, and generous book donations from well-known authors, they are now back in business. Others haven’t fared so well. There are many shop premises and houses still empty, stripped back to the brickwork, under floor cavities exposed.

 

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Time stands still

The church tower in Mytholmroyd is symbolic, I feel, of the extent of the catastrophe. The clock stopped at 11:30. And it hasn’t been fixed yet. The congregation of St Michael’s church has to meet in the local cricket club’s pavilion for their services.

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One of the public houses in the village, the Shoulder of Mutton, isn’t likely to re-open until the summer. The collapsed wall behind the car park has yet to be repaired.

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The main street through the town has a gap, like a missing front tooth, where one of the buildings fell into the river. Fortunately those premises had been vacant for some time.

The valley will recover. It will take time but the surrounding hills have a timeless quality that permeates not just the landscape but also the consciousness of the inhabitants. We will endure!

 


If you want a flavour of the area, before the floods, take a look at my latest romance, The Circle Dance – set very much in the heart of the Calder Valley in Hebden Bridge.

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

Chapter One of The Circle Dance is available to read on the Affinity eBook Press website.


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

(All three books are available on Kindle Unlimited)

Finding the “loaded gun”

Navigating the mushy middle – I’ve always thought that would be a great title for a book. I’m at that stage with my latest work-in-progress and it seems to be the way my novel writing goes.

Other writers have a problem with deciding where to start the story. I’ve not encountered this particular sticking point yet. Starting is the easy bit. I will sit down to write once I’ve got a few characters in mind and know enough about them to set them off on their journey…which is my journey of discovering where they are going.

So where does the ‘loaded gun’ come into it. My mother reminded me of this piece of advice Chekhov gave to one of his writer friends: “One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of using it.” This theory was expanded to say that if the gun is there in the first act, it must be used by the third. Now story plotters are well aware of this device, commonly known as the Art of Foreshadowing. If they’ve placed a loaded gun on the mantelpiece in the first chapter, they know exactly when, how and why it will go off.

After talking with my mother I realised that the loaded gun theory could also be applied to my next published novel, The Circle Dance (being released on Tuesday 15 March). When I was writing this book and floundering about in the mushy middle wondering which direction the story was going, I realised I had a loaded gun, primed and ready to be used. Someone I thought was only ever going to be a minor character was waiting in the wings. She had a much bigger role to play in the story than I had envisaged when I first introduced her.

Once I’d had this revelation, everything started to fall into place. The mushy middle had been conquered. Other elements in the story came together which led to a surprising conclusion (well it certainly surprised me!).

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This no doubt seems a haphazard way of working to those who meticulously plot their novels ahead of time. I admire them, I really do. It would make my life so much easier if I could do it. I also admire, and envy, those who can write the synopsis before they start. This would also be a way not to get mired in the mushy middle and would save me several weeks of agony trying to write a decent summary to send off with my submission to the publisher.

So, back to my current WIP. I’m standing in the swamp, about to sink to my knees in the mushy middle. And I can’t find my loaded gun. I’ll need to go back to the beginning to find out where I left it. It will be there somewhere…in crime writers’ parlance…a vital clue or a red herring.

It would be good to find the gun before I end up fully submerged and abandon all hope of getting out of the bog…and being able to finish the story.

 

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Shooting arrows in the snow

I have to confess that I don’t own a gun, although I do have a recurve bow in the cupboard under the stairs and several longbows leaning against the wall in a corner of the kitchen. They don’t quite fit into the loaded gun analogy and only get taken out to shoot at targets.


Chapter One of The Circle Dance is available to read on the Affinity eBook Press website.

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

(All three books are available on Kindle Unlimited for the next 2 months)

Introducing The Circle Dance

Returning home from our holiday in Tenerife, it was straight into editing mode for me. My next novel, The Circle Dance, is due out in mid-March.

I’m very excited about this one. It’s completely different from The Starling Hill Trilogy books. Be prepared to meet new characters embarking on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as they experience numerous ups and downs in the course of the story.

The action takes place in northern England, mostly in the market town of Hebden Bridge, with forays into the city of Manchester. Most of the characters are in their mid to late forties so you would think they might have settled down by now. But, as often happens in real life, the path to true love  isn’t always strewn with rose petals.

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One of the main characters is a keen cyclist and Irish Dragon Designs has done a fine job of depicting her on the cover with a very English-looking village in the background.

This is the short version of the synopsis:

Jamie Steele has moved to another town trying to forget the heartbreak of losing her lover. She now has a low paying job as an IT technician, lives in a rented room, and mostly failing, at the forgetting part.

Ivana Spencer is introduced to Jamie over dinner at her friends’ house. She can see herself falling for Jamie, but Jamie hasn’t got over her ex, Sasha, and perhaps never will.

Sasha Fairfield, finds her thoughts taken up with her ex-lover of six years and thinks she wants Jamie back. But given the acrimonious nature of their breakup will Jamie want to even talk to her? After all, Jamie lost her home, her job, her car…and most importantly, the cat…all at the same time.

Follow this captivating romance as love dances through the lives of these women to its surprising conclusion.

Chapter One is available to read on the Affinity eBook Press website.


Book 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

(All three books are available on Kindle Unlimited for the next 2 months)

Holiday time

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Valentine’s Day display in the hotel reception area

We’ve had several golf holidays in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands situated in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Africa. It’s a four-hour flight from the UK and the weather in winter is an acceptable temperature – not too hot, but warm enough for shorts and t-shirts.

February is a good time to get away—a welcome break from our winter of continuous rain and a lovely dry course to play on with the ball getting plenty of run. This was important, as I hadn’t played for four months—and it was three months since my hysterectomy operation. I was relieved to find that, not only could I still remember how to hit the ball, but also didn’t experience any pain from the activity.

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I find I can hit the ball (truly amazed at the colour co-ordinated outfit as well!)

Flying in to the airport at Tenerife South, all you can see from the plane is a big rock sticking out of the ocean. It’s hard to believe from the air that there is any greenery on the island at all. But it does have an abundance of flora and fauna. The golf course we played on was surrounded by banana plantations. And the course itself had many mature palm trees and cacti of different shapes and sizes.

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Palm trees everywhere

After four days of golf we decided to have a rest day and took the little train down to the beach. It was a fascinating ride, getting a close up view of the deep fissures cut through the rock by the original volcanic eruption. The beach was a popular place for families, both locals and visitors. I wasn’t quite brave enough to take a plunge into the ocean. It was a yellow flag day – which meant ‘large waves, swim with caution’.

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Beach transport

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Sea view close up!

Although on vacation, I couldn’t resist checking up on social media sites and Amazon. The third book in  The Starling Hill Trilogy was released two days before the holiday. So, I was thrilled to find a few reviews appearing. The Lesbian Review website also started the trilogy giveaway competition on Valentine’s Day…there’s still time to enter – the competition ends on February 29th. All you need to do is visit the website and send in an email to be entered into the draw.

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The trilogy competition – three trilogies are being given away!


 

So, onto the next project. I came home to start on the edits for The Circle Dance – my new romance novel, set for release by Affinity eBook press mid-March. Look out for a cover reveal and teaser in next week’s blog.


 

Book 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

(All three books are available on Kindle Unlimited for the next 3 months)

Relationships and dreaming bones

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The trilogy is here!

I was asked to describe my books using only one word in the Q&A for my author profile on the Lesbian Review website.

The word I chose after much deliberation, and consultation with my wife, was: relationships.

Not a terribly sexy word but it covers a lot of territory.

The characters in the books go through different phases of relationship. In Starting Over, Ellie and Robin are struggling to maintain their long-term one. For a large part of Arc Over Time, Denise is trying to get Kathryn to commit to a relationship, not willing to suffer through a continually frustrating LDR. And Jasmine discovers something about herself that leads to happiness. In Carved in Stone, Jo finds a love interest whose lifestyle is pretty much the opposite of her own wandering one.

Some readers have commented that they don’t think Robin and Ellie are a good match and don’t hold out much hope for Kathryn and Den to succeed in their relationship either. But, as in real life, what do we know about other people’s relationships? We’ve all met couples where we’ve thought – ‘how on earth did they get together?’ – or – ‘what does she see in her?’ We make judgments all the time that generally turn out to be wrong. And that is the joy of both reading and writing. We can get inside people’s heads and in the process some things will resonate about our own relationships, both good and bad.

 

Bones can dream

This almost became the title of Carved in Stone because of the character who isn’t there but who pervades the imaginations and subsequently, the actions, of the other characters.

In Starting Over the bones of a long dead historical figure are discovered at Starling Hill farm. They turn out to be the bones of Cartimandua who was the chief of the Brigantes tribe in Britain when the Romans turned up in force in AD43. I hesitate to use the title ‘Queen’ because I doubt that was a title bestowed on her by the tribe. It was used by the Roman historians who wrote about the period much later. We have no written records of this time in Britain. However, for the sake of not having to ascribe other words to denote her leadership, she is generally referred to as Queen Cartimandua.

Archaeologists in this country would love to be the discoverers of Cartimandua’s final resting place. No one knows where she went once her reign ended.

In these stories, and particularly Carved in Stone, Cartimandua becomes another presence. It is her influence on their lives that brings all the characters together one way or another.

This is fiction, of course. But I hope that one day Cartimandua’s actual bones will be found to give archaeologists the chance to piece together her life and what happened to her in those final days.

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Digging at Vindolanda – finding mostly cow bones!


Book links:

Starting Over: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Arc Over Time: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Carved in Stone: Amazon US / Amazon UK

(All three books are available on Kindle Unlimited for the next 3 months)