To Autumn…

The first line of Keats’ ode to this season is all I can quote from memory: “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”.… so I had to look it up to find the next line, which I really should have been able to recall: “Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”.

canal_geese

November is almost here so I began thinking about what I’ve done these past two months. We(s)t Yorkshire has lived up to its name with long bouts of rain every week. However, I have evidence of one sunny day when I was on the archery field.

archer_sept

The day of our visit to Sutton Hoo, the site of the famed 7th century Anglo-Saxon ship burial, was overcast but the wet stuff stayed away. Although I had read about the dig that took place on the eve of the Second World War, it brought it into sharper focus to see the landscape, the burial mounds, and the size of the ship that would have been hauled up the steep side of the valley from the river.

suttonhoo_helmet

suttonhoo_ship

It was sunny for our brief trip to Edinburgh in October, but very cold. I’m looking quite frozen here with the Sir Walter Scott memorial in the background. (A good excuse to sample some whisky.)

Scott_Edinburgh

The Pumpkin Festival in Hebden Bridge is the precursor to Hallowe’en in the town. Local businesses get into the spirit of things with wonderful window and street displays. The Heart Gallery won the Business award last year and has excelled again with this tribute to Anne Lister.

shibden_pumpkins


Book related things

All quiet on the writing front. However, at some point in the next few months I will be embarking on the editing process for my next novel, Country Living, due out in April.

Deuce, which came out in February, hasn’t garnered many reviews but the feedback I’ve had from people who have read it is that they enjoyed the story. I’m pleased to note that our local bookstore, The Book Case, has sold two copies. (One still left on the shelf the last time I looked). Paperbacks are also available at Gay’s the Word in London.

deuce_bookcase1

The LesFic Eclectic anthology was released last month… a great collection of stories from new and established authors…and it’s FREE! Grab your copy here.

le_contents

LesFic Eclectic contents

That’s all for now. Happy reading!


Changing Perspectives is out on audio, narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent – available to download from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook

changing_audio_site

Books by Jen Silver…available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes


 

Starting Over is 5 today!

Five years ago today my debut novel, Starting Over, was published by Affinity Rainbow Publications.

flowers

A lovely bunch of flowers from my mother to celebrate the occasion (and champagne from my wife).

Here’s an excerpt from a blog posted in January 2015:

When the book came out in paperback I gave a copy to a friend, a former English teacher. Weeks passed and she didn’t mention it, and I was afraid to ask. Then just before Christmas my partner and I were enjoying a glass of mulled wine in a local café and my friend’s husband came in. After ordering their drinks he sat down at a table nearby. Looking over, he recognised me, and to my surprise said, “Oh, I’ve read your book. Really enjoyed it. But it was a bit steamy.”

I really didn’t think there were any major ‘steamy’ scenes in it. No shower scenes, anyway. But then my brother, who was reading the book while visiting my mother at Christmas, kept saying things like: “Oh my god, they’re doing it in the kitchen.”

Neither of these men could be considered part of my target audience and had no previous experience of reading lesbian fiction. So even the mildest contact between two women might be considered ‘steamy’ and my brother clearly thought nothing other than cooking could possibly take place in the kitchen.

bookshop

Another first – seeing my book on the shelf of our local bookshop, The Book Case in Hebden Bridge.

The first reviews from experienced lesfic readers were very much on the positive side, so I was greatly encouraged to continue with this writing adventure.

Two of the early reviews for Starting Over:

Rainbow Book Reviews

Wilde Times Tavern

I’d already completed a sequel and Affinity accepted it, somewhat reluctantly, with the proviso that sequels didn’t often do well. But that didn’t stop me from writing a third book to complete the trilogy. Sales of Arc Over Time and Carved in Stone were pretty dire – so I can only conclude that – a) my publisher was right, and b) readers weren’t as invested in the characters from Starting Over as I was.

I recently reread all three books for the first time since they were published. And, you know what, I really enjoyed them. (What a great bunch of characters!) It also helped me make the decision on which of my books should next get the audio treatment. It will be Starting Over and Nicola Victoria Vincent has agreed to do the narration.

Book signing

Signing the first paperback copies.

So, if you’re looking for a not too steamy romance with archaeology and a bit of Romano-British history thrown in, why not take a look at Starting Over.


The Starling Hill Trilogy

trilogy_promo

Books by Jen Silver…available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes


 

For the love of Dani

I think Dani from Changing Perspectives is one of my most complex character creations and one that I’ve loved for a long time. So it was wonderful to have a reviewer express how much she loved Dani too when she read the book.

I met Carol of LesBireviewed briefly at ELLCon last year. (Wonderful event – the day and a half passed too quickly for anything more than brief interactions – many more readers and authors I would have liked to spend more time with.)

jen_here

Anyway, Carol bought a copy of Changing Perspectives. If I had known she was going to enjoy a love affair with Dani, I would have given her the book. Reviews have been few and far between so I very much appreciated Carol’s YouTube offerings on both the cover and the story.

LESBIreviewed video clip

Introduction video

Book review video

And now you can listen to Dani’s story in audio book format. When I received a sample recording from my narrator, Nicola Victoria Vincent, I couldn’t believe how well she’d captured Dani’s character with the voice she gave her (and all the other characters too).

I started writing Dani’s story when I was living in London in the early 1990s. Her character isn’t based on myself or anyone I know (in case any readers were wondering). But I was, somehow, able to get inside her head.

Changing Perspectives was the most complete story I had stuck in a drawer for all those years and really should have been the first one I submitted to Affinity in 2013. But I chickened out. I wasn’t sure how well a story featuring a character heavily into S&M would be received. So I gave it an experimental go with two of the characters in the second book of the Starling Hill Trilogy, Arc Over Time. Compared to Dani though, their interactions are pretty lightweight.

So with book seven, Dani finally came out into the world. And I’m glad she did. Changing Perspectives has outsold all my other books by a long way. Many thanks to all the readers who have picked up the book and, I hope, enjoyed it.


Audio Book Giveaway: I have some  codes to give away…currently only available to recipients in the US, Canada, and Australia via the Authors Direct app. From a previous giveaway, I understand redeeming the codes this way is easy. So, please leave a comment and I will pick the winners next Friday (27 September).


The audio book is available to download from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook


Books by Jen Silver…available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes


 

What I did in my summer hols…

A familiar topic, no doubt, to anyone who had to write about this during the first week or so back at school. This is my report before the start of the new term in September.

North Berwick

View from the 18th tee of The Glen golf course, North Berwick

It has been a wet and windy summer for the most part. The best weather was in Scotland for our golf holiday in East Lothian. We played the Glen golf course on the first day – which is where the crow stole my chocolate biscuit (it was wrapped in clingfilm). I’d left it on the open shelf at the front of the golf cart and the bird lost no time nicking it while I was in the pro shop.

crowatemybiscuit

Crow checking the coast is clear before making off with a tasty snack

Also in June, on another fine sunny day, we visited the Royal Armouries museum in Leeds. The main objective was to visit the crossbow range to shoot some bolts. That was fun. And, of course, I enjoyed seeing the variety of bows on display and the lifelike models of horsebow archers in the Oriental gallery.

horsebows

I enjoyed some success with my longbow in June at an away shoot…claiming the prize for the Best Gold.

inthegold

July was a busy month with preparations for the Lesbian Writers Read event, part of the weeklong Happy Valley Pride Festival. Many thanks to everyone who came along to hear us read and talk about writing.

lwr19_reading

From left to right; Jody Claire, Clare Ashton, Sam Skyborne, Clare Lydon, Andrea Bramhall, myself, and our MC, Velvet Lounger

We also had time to join in the fun of the Steam Punk Weekend before that.

steam_mayor

With Hebden Royd Mayor, Carol Stowe and her consort, Sean Pert

August included a visit to the Vintage Weekend…lots of classic vehicles on display…cars, motorbikes, tractors, and this rather fabulous truck. I would need a ladder to get into the cab!

vintagetruck

Then we took a trip further north. I wanted to visit Vindolanda to see what they’ve been up to with the excavations this year. Absolutely captivated by the magic of the place, as usual.

vindolanda1

We then drove over to the east coast, visiting first Seaburn with its lovely beach.

Seaburn

The next day we headed further down the coast and discovered the Royal Navy museum in Hartlepool…featuring the wonderful exhibit…the restored 19th century frigate, Trincomalee.

Trimcomalee

On board the Trimcomalee

No more trips or events lined up for the last two weeks in August. I’m working on some amendments to novel number 10, Country Living. I think the final draft is almost there (that is to say, the final draft for submission).


changing_audio_site

Part of the summer also involved the release of my first audiobook, Changing Perspectives.…available from Audible, Amazon, and Apple iTunes…narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent. (Links available on the Lesbian Audiobooks website)


Books by Jen Silver…available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes


 

The Power of Audio

ANNOUNCEMENT: My first audio book is out and proud!

CP_audiofile

Although I knew that audio books were becoming more popular, I hadn’t really thought much about my own books being produced for a listening audience.

I’ve listened to podcasts but didn’t think I would enjoy listening to a book being read to me. But finally I decided that if I was going to dip my toe in the audio book market, I better get a move on. I’m not getting any younger.

Anyway it was purely by chance that I saw a social media post from Cari Hunter mentioning she was meeting up with her narrator in Hebden Bridge. As that’s close to where I live, I looked up Nicola Victoria Vincent’s website and contacted her.

The whole process, from start to finish, has taken about nine months. Nicola and I met for a coffee (tea in her case) and talked about what was involved from the narration point of view and the cost. I gave her my two most recent books at the time to take a look at. These were Calling Home and Changing Perspectives.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by the fact that Changing Perspectives was the one that got her attention. That cover image has drawn in quite a few readers. She sent me a sample recording and I was blown away. She captured the voice of the main character, Dani, perfectly, to my mind.

My publisher was impressed with the sample but didn’t want to invest in the production. So I obtained the audio rights from them and asked Nicola to go ahead.

It was a steep learning curve for me. But I enjoyed listening to each chapter as she sent them to me for approval. Hearing my characters and their story come to life was an amazing experience. Nicola’s expert narration held me spellbound. (And I wrote this stuff!)

I wondered how she would handle reading the sex scenes. She told me it was just acting and it didn’t bother her.

So now I’m hooked. I’m enjoying listening to audio books…giving me a whole new world to explore.

Will I consider doing it again with one of my other books? This is a distinct possibility. I just have to decide which one. If any readers have an opinion on this, please do leave a comment.


Audio book cover

Changing Perspectives audio book is available from Audible, Amazon, and Apple iBooks.

Links on Lesbian Audio Books website.


nine_books

Books by Jen Silver…available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes


 

Lesbian Writers Read 2019

HVP2019_banner

This year’s Happy Valley Pride Festival will be kicking off in a week’s time with the Opening Night Spectacular. Come along to the Old Gate Bar and Restaurant in Hebden Bridge to join in the fun (Monday 22 July from 7pm). You’ll also be able to plan your week ahead with tickets on sale for events. T-shirts and other merch will be on sale too.

jen_happy

At last year’s Opening Night

Looking forward to sporting one of the 2019 Festival t-shirts with three new logos to choose from.

HVP-t-shirts

Available from the Festival shop

 

But, of course, the highlight of the week as far as I’m concerned is the Lesbian Writers Read session on Saturday 27 July. This year we’re hosting a diverse range of authors converging from different parts of the country: Clare Ashton, Andrea Bramhall, Jody Klaire, Clare Lydon, and Sam Skyborne. And our MC for the evening is renowned reviewer, Velvet Lounger. We’ll be reading from our books and talking about writing…or whatever other topics are thrown at us by Velvet or the audience. Plenty of comfortable seating in our venue…the Little Theatre in Hebden Bridge…doors open at 1:00pm.

lwr19_promo

Click here to book your tickets

Check out the full Festival programme for the week.


nine_books

Books by Jen Silver…available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes

ninebooks


 

Celebrating books and readers

Last week I travelled to Nottingham to take part in the 1st Annual Waterstones LGBTQ Literature Festival. I read from Deuce on Friday afternoon alongside authors – Lise Gold, Anna Larner, Rebecca S Buck, and Basil (“I’m not an herb”) Osborne.

My wife took a photo of me reading through the glass of the door – which is why it’s a bit blurry. She said she didn’t want to put me off by coming into the room. I don’t think I would have noticed as I was just trying to read without stumbling over words.

Deuce_reading

The next day was the start of the 10th Annual Bold Strokes Book Festival, also held at Waterstones. I learned something at one of the morning panels where romance novels were being discussed. Apparently, readers of lesbian fiction (what we refer to as ‘lesfic’ – as opposed to, someone suggested, ‘hetfic’) are quite conservative in their views of how romantic protagonists behave. They don’t want to read about lesbians cheating on their partners.

This was a revelation to me. I guess I didn’t get this memo. My debut novel, Starting Over even states in the first line of the blurb that one of the main characters is a philanderer. Thinking about it later I realised that five of my novels have partners who cheat (not always the main characters though). And my current WIP has a serial cheater as an MC.

Oh dear. There go my chances of a breakthrough number one!

Safe books of mine, in case you’re wondering, would be the second and third books of the trilogy Arc Over Time and Carved in Stone, then Calling Home and Deuce.

I didn’t take any photos during either of the days, so I’m grateful to Kitty for posting some on her blog and writing a great overview of the event.

And, as a fan of lesbian fiction, I did buy a few books. Who can resist when faced with such an amazing selection from the many talented authors who were there and available to sign the books as well.

bsb_books

It was a marvellous two days and I enjoyed every minute. I can recommend it as a date to put in your diaries as soon as BSB announces the timing for next year’s festival. Thank you to Robyn Nyx, Brey Willows, and the Nottingham Waterstones team for organising the excellent and varied programme as well as providing a welcoming and safe space for us to gather.

I didn’t join in the after party on Saturday as I was meeting my wife for dinner. But I did manage to celebrate with a pirate mojito. Cheers, and here’s to a summer of good reading!

pirate_mojito


Another important date for readers of lesfic is the Lesbian Writers Read event at the Happy Valley Pride Festival. Brochures and website information for the week-long festival will be available soon. I can give advance notice though that our reading session takes place on the afternoon of Saturday 27 July in the Little Theatre in Hebden Bridge. And the authors who have agreed to take part this year are: Clare Ashton, Andrea Bramhall, Jody Klaire, Clare Lydon, and Sam Skyborne. I’ve also enlisted the services of well-known reviewer, Velvet Lounger, to be our MC.


Buying links for Deuce: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes


 

A long lost love revived

I’ve never been to Nottingham. Which is a bit odd considering my obsession with Robin Hood in my early years and now in my later years, shooting longbow at our local archery club.

When I was about seven or eight, I made my own bow and played in the woods. I always wanted to be Robin, not Maid Marian. We’d moved to house next to a wooded area, which seemed large to me but probably wasn’t very big.

My mother signed me up for Brownies. I think I only went twice. I wasn’t impressed with the range of activities on offer…none of which involved shooting arrows. And I didn’t want to sit in a village hall with the other girls around a fake fire being a pixie or a kelpie.

One day I came out of the woods just as the Brownie troop was marching down the road. Brown Owl brought them to a halt and kindly asked if I would like to join them on their nature hike. I’ve no idea what I said, if anything. But I disappeared quickly back into the woods and let them march on to study flowers and butterflies while I went returned to fighting off imaginary foes…Guy of Gisborne and the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Happy days

Dressed for playing in the woods

We moved to Canada not long after that and my first girl crush was over a young woman at the summer camp who taught archery. On my tenth birthday I was given a fibreglass bow with a set of arrows and paper target. It stayed with me until I moved back to England over twenty years later. I gave it to two little boys before leaving…they were absolutely thrilled. (I’m not sure their mother was.)

And then there was a hiatus of many years…working, meeting my wife, getting a university degree, and taking up golf. It was actually another golfer who reignited my interest in archery. She told me about the local club and I took their beginners’ course. That was nine years ago and I still love it.

js_longbow

Dressed for an Agincourt shoot

So, this weekend, I will finally be visiting Robin Hood’s heartland. On Friday I’m taking part in the 1st Annual Waterstones  LGBTQ Literature Festival in Nottingham where I will be reading from Deuce. (If you haven’t come across my most recently published novel, take a look at this review from Gaby at Lesreviewbooks)

nottsfest

And then on the weekend I’m looking forward to meeting up with authors, reviewers, and readers at the 10th Bold Strokes Book Festival, also held at Waterstones.

BSBprog

If you can make it, please come along and join in the festivities.

Happy reading!


deuce_side

Buying links for Deuce: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes


 

An end to Country Living

I’ve struggled to finish Book 10. I was fairly confident when I started writing it back in September that I would be finished by Christmas. However, it’s now eight months on from that beginning and it’s not over yet.

The working title is Country Living and although I’ve tried to come up with another name that isn’t going to be confused with the magazine of the same title, it just seems to fit.

As spring is now moving rapidly into summer, the analogy that also fits could be portrayed with these photos.

roots1The gnarled roots of an old tree exposed to the elements…as I try to unearth the secrets of my characters…

tree_cut1The beautiful mature tree at the top of our road that was cut down in January to make way for a car park…losses the protagonists have to deal with…

crocii_daffsAnd the first signs of spring…brave daffodil and crocus flowering to bring life and colour to the garden…the hope for a happy ever after…for someone…

Sometime soon I also have to write the synopsis…something else I struggle with. Fitting the essence of the story into a few hundred words is the hardest job of all. Then whether or not this story will be accepted for publication is another matter.

Here is the beginning:

Chapter One

The view is what sold it to her, Peri’s dream cottage in the country. A lack of roses around the door made up by the commanding vista across a tree-lined valley with no hint of the busy road below. When she’d researched the area, the hamlet shown as Heron Ridge on the map had a history that stretched back to pre-Roman times, part of Elmet, often referred to as the last Celtic kingdom in England.

Peri breathed in the fresh air, recently cleansed from the shower that accompanied their drive up the narrow lane. There was plenty of space for a kitchen garden and perhaps a generously sized chicken run in the future.

“Isn’t it just simply gorgeous, K?”

Karla grunted as she hefted the two large suitcases out of the car. “Yeah. Nice. Grab one of the boxes. Let’s get this in before the rain starts again.”

It wouldn’t take long to empty the boot of the Range Rover, a vehicle that looked out of place on city streets but would be perfect when Karla finally joined her at the cottage. Her wife was looking at six months to close out all the projects she was working on so they could start the new phase of their life together.

So, what can possibly go wrong for these two characters? Working that out wasn’t difficult. Finding out what could go right was another matter.

The end is getting closer. But it’s reached the point now where I need to let it sit for a few weeks before reading it again to see what might be missing, what needs tweaking, and writing that damn synopsis.


In the meantime, if you’re looking for something to read, you could give Book 9, Deuce, a try. It’s been out for a few months now and has had some good reviews.

Happy reading!


Buying links for Deuce: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Background for Deuce

I wrote a piece for a recent Affinity Rainbow Publications newsletter titled ‘An Author’s Tale’. The idea was to give readers some background on how the story came about and this is what I came up with:

I began writing this book for my own amusement back in the late 1980s. Originally it was a fairly simple love story between a tennis player and a marine biologist. Charlotte, the biologist, is researching a disease that’s causing the devastation of the grey seal population of the North Sea. When her research vessel sinks without trace, Jay, the tennis player, is bereft and that’s where I left the story, as I didn’t have any idea how to come back from that abrupt ending of the romance.

Fast forward to 2018 –I decided to take another look at the pages mouldering away at the back of a drawer. It seemed a shame to waste these potentially good characters. The ideas gradually started to take shape and I decided that Charlotte didn’t have to die (it’s great being an author – bringing people back to life!).

Jay also needed something to stop her falling into a never-ending cycle of despair. She’s left holding the baby, literally. Charlotte gave birth to the child a year before her disappearance. So Jay quits the tennis circuit, trains as a physiotherapist and starts up a physical therapy clinic.

The story restarts twenty-three years after Charlotte’s supposed demise. She is starting to regain her memory and wants to get back to Jay and the baby she left behind. Meanwhile Jay, now fifty years old, is engaged with the wedding to Amanda only a few weeks away. Amanda doesn’t know anything about Charlotte or where Jay spends her weekends – a cottage that belonged to Charlotte on the Norfolk coast.

Plotting this novel was tricky but I’m pleased with the outcome. I could, perhaps, have called it The Return of the Seal Wife (ref: the image on the cover) but the selkie legends don’t have happy endings. I hope readers will enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed resurrecting it and giving the characters new life.

I did a bit more on my writing process for this book in a recent guest blog on Women and Words. In that one I talked about points of view and the decisions I had to make, particularly when it came to writing Charlotte’s POV. The answer to that came as a surprise but I think it worked out well.

So, I hope readers will give Deuce a chance. Apologies to sports fans – there isn’t much tennis action in it. The focus, as usual with my books, is on the relationships between the characters…most of whom are in the older age bracket of 40+.

Happy reading!

Deuce


Buying links for Deuce: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes