Canalside walk

A selection of photos from a visit to the Salterhebble canal basin a few days ago.

I’ve passed it many times on the drive between where I live and Huddersfield, but never visited. Turns out to be a pleasant place for a fairly secluded walk around by the lock and the mooring place for boats.

I was fascinated by the guillotine-style lock – something else I’d not seen before.

Guillotine Lock

This basin is an offshoot of the Rochdale Canal, which has a total 91 locks between nearby Sowerby Bridge and the Bridgewater Canal at Castlefield Basin in Manchester, a distance of 32 miles. The canal system is an amazing feat of engineering with work starting in 1798. One section, passing through Hebden Bridge, is built over the river (a hanging viaduct).

Walking through this tunnel, I felt we might emerge into another place and time.

Altogether, a lovely haven for a quiet walk. Of course, quiet walks are what I aim for these days.

Then it’s back home for more quiet time, mainly reading or listening to audio books while piecing together jigsaw puzzles.


If you’re looking for some reading or listening material for your own quiet times, please check out my books.

Print and eBooks by Jen Silver are available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes

Audiobooks:

Starting Over  is available from: Audible UK / Audible US / Audible DE / Audible CA / Audible AU / Amazon UK / Amazon US  / iTunes

Changing Perspectives is available from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook


A Time Out

You would think having all this free time would be ideal for a writer. No visitors, only going out if absolutely necessary, grocery and takeaway deliveries, etc. Some authors have taken advantage of this and are producing books without pause. For me, however, it’s like that part of my life has taken a time out of its own. I’ve tried a few times to get some words down – but it’s not happening.

I’ve learned not to force it. With ten books published since the first one in 2014, there really isn’t any need to panic. So why not just enjoy the space for reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, listening to audio books, solitary walks, and sitting out in the garden with a cold drink (weather permitting).

Looking back to last August’s blog, it’s full of photos from different places we visited, playing golf in Scotland, taking part in an archery competition at another club, a full programme of Happy Valley Pride events.

So far this year, we’ve had one outing…a few days away at a hotel on Lake Windermere at the end of July. It was a wonderful time – enjoying different scenery, meals cooked by someone else, conversation (socially distanced) with other people. We felt safe and well looked after. There was a one-way system through the public areas, hand sanitiser stations at strategic points, well spaced out tables in the restaurant. Plus some good weather for enjoying walks by the lake and just sitting watching the ever-changing scene. Overall, fantastic!

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Food and drink was left on a service table and we served ourselves from there. (Note the hand sanitiser station by the table behind)

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Activity on the lake

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Early morning view of geese on the lawn – from our bedroom window

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A final view of the lake

Will I look back on 2020 as a lost year, or just a time out from normal activities?

I’ll let you know in January.


Taking time out to read or listen to books? Here’s where you can find mine:

Print and eBooks by Jen Silver are available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes

Audiobooks:

Starting Over  is available from: Audible UK / Audible US / Audible DE / Audible CA / Audible AU / Amazon UK / Amazon US  / iTunes

Changing Perspectives is available from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook


 

Out in the country

Nine days on from release day, and I’m in thrall to the beauty of the paperbacks that arrived last week.

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So, I’m taking a break from stroking the cover to write a few words about my latest book. It’s a romance, but with a few twisty bits that I think will surprise readers. The blurb gives something of this away…mentioning temptation, betrayal, and intrigue. However, it’s a romance, so everything will turn out all right in the end, won’t it?

The first chapter is available to read on the Affinity Rainbow Publications website.

But here’s a taster from Chapter Five of Country Living – certainly not a spoiler if you’ve read the blurb and sampled the first chapter.

Peri refilled their glasses and sat back, feeling replete. She gave her friend a quizzical glance. “Okay. I’m intrigued as to why you’ve driven all this way to treat me to lunch. Something that couldn’t be discussed by phone or email. Are you and Sharon okay?”

“Oh yes. More than okay. I know you thought I was crazy to move in with her after meeting online and going on three dates, but it just felt so right.”

“That’s great. So why do I get the feeling something’s wrong?”

Dana sighed. She bent down and retrieved her iPad from her bag.

“Don’t tell me. You’re having trouble with a plot line and want my magic editorial advice?”

“If only.” Dana opened her photos app and clicked on an image. “These are screenshots from Karla’s timeline. I’m not Facebook friends with her, but Rachel is and saved the pictures for me.”

Peri took the tablet and studied the images on the screen. Her brain seized.

Karla was wearing a minimal bikini she’d never seen before, arm around a stunning looking blonde who had the sleek look of a supermodel, also clad in very little material. Both were sporting identical smiles, and Peri recognised Karla’s post-sex satisfied expression.

“There are others, if you swipe across to the right.”

“I can’t…” Peri dropped the tablet on the table and rushed over to the nearest flowerbed. The contents of her stomach covered the nascent marigolds with a projectile of vomit. She stayed bent over, shoulders heaving.

“I’m so sorry. I couldn’t not tell you. It’s been eating me up ever since Rachel sent me the first screenshot yesterday.”

Peri sat back on heels. “Water,” she croaked.

“Oh, yeah. Be right back.”

It was a perfect day, the kind Peri had imagined enjoying, sitting outside revelling in the beauty of the countryside, savouring the clear, country air. Now, all she could taste and smell were the sour remnants of her lunch. She gulped back the large glass of water Dana handed her and spat out the last mouthful.

Life in the country…never a dull moment! I hope you’ll enjoy discovering how things work out for Peri and Karla.

Affinity’s two releases for March featured on the Bella Books for the month. I’m delighted to share the spotlight with Annette Mori’s The Panty Thief, which is a thoroughly entertaining read.

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Available from: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Amazon AU / Amazon DE / Amazon FR / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes


 

My summer reading

In my last blog post I gave an overview of what I’ve been up to this summer with activities and events. So now I thought I would take a look at what I’ve been reading over the last few months.

The science fiction bug has bitten me this year:

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The title of the first book in Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer series intrigued me: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. And I wasn’t disappointed. The author captures the differing species and personalities aboard a spaceship very well. It made me wonder how well any of us would cope having to interact at close quarters with different-bodied aliens when the small differences in human aspects seem to be a challenge on our own small angry planet.

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Although I’ve read the Chronicles of Alsea series on my kindle, I’ve enjoyed rereading the stories in paperback format (very well produced by Heartsome Publishing). Earlier this year I reread The Caphenon (Book1), Outcaste (Book 6), Resilience (Book 7), and Uprising (Book 8). I’ve now gone back to Without a Front: The Producer’s Challenge (Book 2). The first time I read it, I think I missed a lot of the detail. I can take it more slowly now, as I know what happens later on. The challenges faced by the characters populating Fletcher Delancey’s complex Alsean society is worth the revisit. (Next up: Without a Front: The Warrior’s Challenge)

After visiting other worlds, it was time for some down-to-earth romance. However, not being able to decide on a new lesfic book to read, led me to rereading some of my own.

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Revisiting them after a gap of almost five years was a pleasant revelation. I really enjoyed them. Starting Over was my debut novel, which spawned two more books to form the Starling Hill trilogy. The archaeological aspect of the stories was something I enjoyed researching and continued to be a real life interest with the five seasons spent as a volunteer excavator at Vindolanda.

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Having just released my first audio book, Changing Perspectives, I’ve been pondering which of my other books could be the next one to be produced and I’m thinking Starting Over would do nicely. Any thoughts from readers on that idea are most welcome.


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

Changing Perspectives audio book is available from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook


 

The Power of Audio

ANNOUNCEMENT: My first audio book is out and proud!

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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.


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


 

Lesbian Writers Read 2019

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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.

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At last year’s Opening Night

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

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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.

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Click here to book your tickets

Check out the full Festival programme for the week.


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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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


 

How important are book covers?

When this question comes up in discussion groups there’s generally a mixed response. Some readers say they don’t make their buying decision from seeing the cover; others are definitely drawn in by the image displayed.

I’ve now had nine novels published with varying degrees of success. My debut novel, Starting Over, sold quite well considering I was an unknown quantity as a lesfic author. This cover is a favourite with me because I took the background photo. Anyone who lives in the part of England will recognise it as Saddleworth Moor. And the woman on the motorbike I thought was apt as this represents a significant turning point in her life and in the story.

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Book four, The Circle Dance, also did okay sales-wise…possibly due to the image of the sexy cyclist on the cover. Affinity’s cover designer also managed to find a background to represent the setting for the novel, which is in and around the Hebden Bridge area. There’s no circle dancing in the book. I hope no readers were disappointed with that lack. The title actually refers to stone circles as one of the characters is writing a science fiction novel.

The Circle Dance

However, book seven, went off the scale for my expectations of sales in the first few months. Changing Perspectives features just a single image of a woman’s face. This video clip by LESBIreviewed perfectly describes what the designer had hoped to achieve. The character represented on the cover, Dani, is one of my favourites. She’s been with me a long time as I started writing the book in the early 1990s when I was living and working in London and the story is set in 1993.

LESBIreviewed video clip

It’s too early to tell how number nine, Deuce, will fare. Potential readers may be puzzled by the title over the image of statue, completely naked and clutching something, which may not be immediately recognisable as a seal’s skin. The two main characters are a marine biologist and an ex professional tennis player. I’m sure that makes the cover and title choice as clear as mud!

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Any thoughts on whether or not covers impact your buying decision, I would love to know.

Happy reading!


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


 

Exploring new worlds

My bookshelves are full of fantasy and science fiction novels…from my childhood days of traversing through Narnia, Middle Earth, and the Earthsea Archipelago. Then I moved on to stories by Isaac Asimov, J G Ballard, Brian Aldiss, William Gibson, Samuel R Delaney, and Ursula K LeGuin’s adult novels.

Rediscovering lesbian sci-fi and fantasy has been a fairly recent development in my reading habits. I do have some much loved books on my shelves from the 1990s…Jean Stewart’s Isis series and  the first two Aggar books by Chris Anne Wolfe which I reread occasionally.

The reboot of reading newer stories in these genres started a few years ago with Fletcher DeLancey’s marvelously envisioned world of Alsea starting with The Caphenon. I’ve now read all the books in the series, including the recently released seventh one, Resilience. (When we’ve got intergalactic space travel underway, I want to visit Alsea.)

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When I was at ELLCon this summer, I exchanged books with two other authors at the event, and perhaps it was just serendipity that both fall into the dystopian genre.

I started reading Chosen by Brey Willows during my four-hour return train journey from Bristol to West Yorkshire. Having read Brey’s Aftelife Inc series, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. I couldn’t tell you which stations we stopped at as I was totally engrossed in the story from the first page.

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A few days after getting back from the conference, I knew I would be spending a long afternoon in A&E so I took along May Dawney’s Survival Instincts. This seemed like an appropriate choice for the occasion to keep my mind off the tests I was undergoing for my breathing problem.

Both books deal with the aftermath of when humankind has succeeded in destroying the resources of the planet, and taking down civilisation as we know it. This could make for grim reading, but the message in both books contain the elements of hope and restoration at the hands of the few who have the courage and determination to rebuild something from the ruins.

It would be remiss of me not to mention another writer who has ventured into the dystopian genre, one of my fellow Affinity authors, Renee MacKenzie. The first two books in her Karst Series are available now, with the third on its way to publication next year. Renee’s New America is struggling to live up to the ideal of creating a better society than the earlier one (ours, I guess).

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When I was with the Affinity team at the 2017 GCLS conference in Chicago, Renee had been considering publishing the series under a pen name. Mainly because she felt they were so different from her other novels. However, when the first book, Kai’s Heart, was released, I was pleased to see that she had decided not to do that. Anyone who has read Renee’s other books shouldn’t be put off by the change. She is a fabulous writer and these books demonstrate her ability to deliver compelling stories in another genre. The second in the series is called Naomi’s Soul, published by Affinity Rainbow Publications in September and the third book, due out next year, is called Misha’s Promise.


Which two books of my own did I exchange at ELLCon…one each of the last two published:

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Available from:

Calling Home: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

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


 

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!


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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