Our Happy Hours revisited

It’s a year since the publication of this collection of stories, essays, anecdotes and poetry…Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars…and I still feel a glow inside that my story was accepted…especially as the project was spearheaded by two authors I admire, S. Renée Bess and Lee Lynch. (Also thrilled that the book won a Goldie this year!)

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I set my story in London, 1968. I was neither there nor old enough to enter a bar then. I drew the story out from my wife’s anecdotes of moving to London from Scotland in the 1960s and her efforts to find other lesbians.

However, one part of the story comes from a direct experience. The main character finds out about the Gateways club from a hairdresser. This idea came from the time we were visiting my parents in Victoria on Vancouver Island. I decided I needed a haircut and couldn’t wait until I got home. The young man cutting my hair was quite obviously gay so I didn’t hesitate to ask him if there were any gay clubs in town. (Bear in mind, this was some time ago – pre-Google.)

He told me there was one, called BJs (now called Paparazzi, I believe). So my wife and I went out for dinner one evening and I’m sure my parents wondered why we were so long. They knew the restaurant we’d gone to and it wasn’t known for slow service. The club wasn’t very busy when we got there and we did feel a bit awkward. I know we talked to a woman who was sitting on her own and we danced to a few songs.

That was in the early 1990s and while writing the story it struck me that it was just as hard then to get information about gay life as it had been thirty years earlier.

My contribution to Our Happy Hours is called ‘Gateway to Heaven’. In this excerpt, my character is gathering her courage to take the next step on her journey to find a place where she belongs.

She licked her lips and then rested her head on the wall. Could she really go through with this? Maybe she should have gone to see the play instead.

The clothes she’d bought on her Saturday excursion to Carnaby Street were a loose fit. She hadn’t been able to try them on, telling the salesman they were for her brother. At least she knew how to knot her tie; her old school one, but no one here would recognise it. The tie was in her jacket pocket. Tom, the hairdresser who had told her about this place, had told her to wait until she was inside the club to put it on.

Her aunt hadn’t been pleased when she spent her first week’s wages on a short haircut, unimpressed that it was the look favoured by Twiggy, now a famous model. “You don’t want to look like that stick insect. Oh, your beautiful hair. You must let it grow back before your mother sees you.”

She had no intention of letting it grow too long again. Now with it slicked back, she hoped it gave her the image she was trying to achieve. All the doubts that had assailed her during the week attacked at once, keeping her rooted to the spot. Would she be able to talk to anyone, ask anyone to dance? These city women wouldn’t be interested in a country hick like her. Did she look the part? What if they didn’t let her in? Did she look gay enough?

Taking that next step can be hard at any point in one’s life. My fictional story and the many contributions within this collection speak of many such moments of taking the plunge and being finally able to discover and enjoy the safe spaces in which we can be ourselves. May we never let anyone take that away.

Buy this book and tell your friends about it. Proceeds from sales go to supporting two LGBTQ youth organisations.

Bella Books / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble

List of contributors (in order of appearance in the book):

Ann Aptaker, Dontá Morrison, Rae Theodore, James Schwartz, Jennifer Morales, Cheryl Head, Heather Jane, Beth Burnett, Cindy Rizzo, Stephen Reigns, Clay Kerrigan, Earlon Sterling, Sallyanne Monti, Karen DiPrima, S. Renee Bess, Richard Natale, Mercedes Lewis, Martha Miller, Liz McMullen, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Penny Mickelbury, Johnny Townsend, Merril Mushroom, Brian Heyburn, Lee Lynch, Joan Nestle, Ian Cassidy, Angela Garrigan, Nahshon Anderson Fuentes, Ardy Tibby, Katharine E. K. Duckett, Rachel E. Bailey, Darryl Denning, Lisa Carlson, Katherine V. Forrest, Jen Silver, Shelley Thrasher, Kitty Kat, Jamie Anderson, Shawn Marie Bryan, Ann Laughlin, JP Howard, L. K. Early, Patrick Coulton, Michael Ward, Karin Kallmaker and Bonnie J. Morris.


My latest romance…with some added mystery. Available from: Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Barnes & Noble, Bella Books, Smashwords, and Apple iTunes.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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


 

 

 

 

 

Our Happy Hours…coming soon!

A year ago I saw a submission request for short stories, memoirs, or poems for an anthology to celebrate and commemorate the importance of gay and lesbian bars in our community. The book’s collators are S Renée Bess and Lee Lynch.

As Renée explains in her recent blog for Women and Words, the idea came to her while thinking about the The Pulse Nightclub tragedy in Orlando and whether or not many people outside the LGBTQ community would grasp the idea of what a place like this means to us.

I really wanted to contribute a piece for the book but my experience of bars is fairly limited. However my wife was a regular visitor to the Gateways club in London when she moved to the city from Scotland in the 1960s. Her memories of that time gave me the germ of an idea for a story.

What struck me was how difficult it was in those days to find out where to go, how to meet people. Closeted lifestyles meant you had to be very careful. The available publications at the time had names that gave nothing away: The Minorities Research Group produced a monthly journal, Arena Three. Kenric was set up as a network of social groups throughout the country and published a newsletter. My wife had to pay for a Post Office Box so that she could receive these publications without arousing the suspicions of her landlady or employers.

In writing my piece for the anthology, Gateway to Heaven, I tried to capture the thrill of discovery for a young woman in 1968 venturing into a lesbian bar for the first time. I was extremely thrilled when the story was accepted.

I’m looking forward to reading all the other contributions in the book: Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices From the Gay Bars. And it is due out on 1 November, published by Flashpoint Productions.

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All the book’s royalties are being donated to two organisations that provide services to LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia and New York.


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Buying Links:

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