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!)

OurHappyHoursAward

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.

Calling_home_preview


 

A Philosophical Post

I was looking for something a bit different from my usual reading pattern that tends to be mainly a variety of lesbian fiction sub-genres – romance, crime, dystopian, fantasy, sci-fi. So when I read about a film that’s just been released based on a book about a teenager growing up in Montana who ends up being put in a Christian camp to ‘cure’ her lesbian tendencies, I bought it…The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth (styling her name after e.e. cummings, I guess).

cameronpost

The first person narrative of the story feels authentic and is maintained all the way through. I don’t know if this is because it’s based on the author’s own experiences. I suspect it might be.

My teenage years were spent in a small town in Canada so I could see, smell, taste, the atmosphere of Miles City, Montana. The high school, the landscape, the people…all terribly familiar. I was fortunate not to have to endure an oppressive fundamentalist regime as described in the book when Cameron is sent to a Christian School and Center for Healing, God’s Promise, to have her sinful desires corrected.

I explored different religions when I was in high school. Late sixties and early seventies: reading Kahlil Gibran, The Way of the Tao, Confucius, Siddhartha, Gurdjieff, The Bhagavad Gita…soaring above the clouds with Jonathan Livingston Seagull…and trying to make sense of the hexagrams in the I Ching. The Beatles were dabbling in Indian mysticism, spending time with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

“Nine in the fourth place means:

No fish in the tank.

This leads to misfortune.”

I Ching, Book of Changes

hair

In my long hair days

“Forget not the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

Kahlil Gibran

When I discussed some of the ideas I was investigating with a teacher friend, he would shake his head and say, “All religions are cults.” It took some time for this message to sink in while my path in life led me to take part in a spiritual journey. I lived in a community for ten years, trying to match my ideals with the reality. It didn’t work.

Where would I be now if I hadn’t left when I did? Still cooking, cleaning, and ironing in the ‘service of the Lord’ – which translated into serving the men in the community.

Although my experiences were very different to those emily danforth describes in her book, the feelings evoked were similar.

In an entirely different way to her story, I attempted to give expression to that time in my life in my most recently published novel, Calling Home. Two of the characters grow up in a strict religious community. They are helped to escape as teenagers and lead different, separate lives, before meeting up again twenty-odd years later. In my case, though, I was an adult when I joined the community of my own accord.

Authors are often asked how much of themselves go into their stories. The answer is usually that it’s a synthesis of experiences…what we see, read, and hear in everyday life. In Calling Home, though, I can confess that the character, Ray Fisher, bears some semblance to my former self – particularly as she questions why she stayed in the community for so long.

(However, it is a work of fiction and the usual disclaimer applies in that any resemblance to persons, places or events are entirely coincidental.)

After all the years of searching for the meaning of life, I think it really boils down to the words of the old Beatles song, “All You Need is Love.” I’ve been fortunate to have the love of a good woman for the past 31 years. My life with her has been enriched in ways I couldn’t have imagined while peeling potatoes in the service of the Lord.

For Cameron Post and her friends, at the end of the novel, there is hope that they too will succeed in breaking free from the toxic confines of God’s Promise.


Calling_home_preview

Calling Home is available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Barnes & Noble, Bella Books, Smashwords, and Apple iTunes.


 

ELLCon…Gromits and all

The build-up of nervous tension prior to a conference is familiar territory to me now having attended three GCLS events and a Diva Literary Festival. And it didn’t diminish with having had these experiences in the weeks leading up to ELLCon – the inaugural European Lesfic Literary Conference.

As well as preparing notes for the panel I was on, there were the big questions of how many books should I take? and will anyone want to buy them? (Luckily some people did – a big thank you to them!)

I’m sure I wasn’t alone in this. The vendor room was buzzing with activity when I arrived on Thursday morning dragging my suitcase full of books and giveaway items. (Clothes were a secondary consideration in my packing…needing to make sure I could lift the case on and off trains on the journey to Bristol.)

With the table set up, there was still plenty of time before the first panel session of the day to chat with authors and other delegates, meeting some for the first time, including my Affinity colleague, Samantha Hicks.

affinity_table

The conference hotel was in a central location, next to the city’s impressive cathedral and close to the waterfront area – alive with bars, a funfair, and boats.

waterfront

I ventured out on Wednesday afternoon and found a few of the Gromit Unleashed2 sculptures but generally had to wait for the other Gromit-trail hunters to move away in order to get photos. So, along with the pics I took of Wallace and Gromit, I’ve borrowed this splendid one of Feathers McGraw from my friend, Jody Klaire. (She’s photobombing in the background.)

gromit2_trail

That was the extent of my sightseeing. Later on I met up with two other friends, Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows for a Mexican meal. With a two-for-one offer on Mojitos, it was a good choice of venue! Lovely to catch up with these two who were celebrating their first year wedding anniversary and Robyn’s birthday.

Back to the business end of the conference, I took part in the last panel of the morning on the first day: When Writing Feels Like a Marathon – how to get over the finish line. May Dawney was our expert moderator and the other panelists were Nita Round, Harper Bliss and Jane Fletcher. I think I look somewhat petrified here as I know Harper is going to pass the mic to me next.

ellcon_panel

As with other conferences, I found the time slipped away quickly, and I know there were many missed opportunities for longer conversations and some people I didn’t chat with at all. But I have an abundance of precious memories.

So, what happened to the nerves I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Well, once the conference is underway and you’re meeting new and old friends, surrounded by smiles and hugs and laughter and the chance to spend two days talking about lesbian fiction…the nerves disappear and the joy of being in a loving, shared, safe space takes over.

Zara Wood and her team did an amazing job in preparation for the event and organisation throughout the two days. The city and the weather also played a part in creating a welcoming atmosphere.

ELLCon 2018 was a success…so roll on ELLCon 2019!


My latest book, Calling Home is available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Barnes & Noble, Bella Books, Smashwords, and Apple iTunes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awards and events

First of all, congratulations to all the finalists and winners of the 2018 Golden Crown Literary Society Awards. I wasn’t in Las Vegas for the conference this year but I watched from home – seeing all the posts and photos on social media – and wishing I were there to greet and hug all the wonderful women I’ve met over the previous three years of attending the event.

I gather I also missed a great speech from Dorothy Allison, accepting the Trailblazer Award. I heard her speak at the 2015 GCLS conference in New Orleans and know that she can hold a roomful of women spellbound.

As one of the many contributors, I was thrilled to see this collection of stories win a Goldie Award in the Anthology/Collections (Fiction) category.

OurHappyHoursAward

There are two more events on the summer calendar that I will be attending.

The first is right on my doorstep in Hebden Bridge…the third year for the Happy Valley Pride Festival. This is a week long celebration of LGBT+ life and the organisers have outdone previous years with a stunning line-up of performers featuring music, comedy, dance, art…and, I’m pleased to say, writing.

Following the success of last year’s Lesbian Writers Read event, we have six authors taking part…all planning to read from their latest novels and then answer questions from the audience. (Please book early as there is limited space in Squeeze café – as the name implies!)

hvp_readings_18

 

The second event, also in August is EllCon – August 23-24. Masterminded by Zara Wood and her enthusiastic team, this brings together over thirty authors from the UK and Europe…and, we hope, lots of readers.

ellcon_books

The last time I visited Bristol was over thirty years ago and I don’t remember much about it. I’m sure it has changed a lot. As well as looking forward to attending the conference, I’m also keen to see a few of the sculptures on the Gromit Unleashed 2 trail. My objective is to have my photo taken with a life-size sculpture of Feathers McGraw.


Looking for a summer read, then please take a look at my latest book, Calling Home.

Calling Home

Calling Home is available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Barnes & Noble, Bella Books, Smashwords, and Apple iTunes.


 

Playing in the woods

I took up archery eight years ago. It was something I’d enjoyed doing as a child when I made my own bow and arrows, played at Robin Hood in the woods by our house. And I guess it never really left my thoughts. So when I discovered there was an archery club nearby, I signed up for the next beginners’ course.

early_years

Playing in the woods

js_longbow

The adult version – would you believe?

It seems fitting then that in my eighth novel, Calling Home, I’ve managed to include an archery reference. One of my characters, Galen, is taking a sabbatical from her vet’s practice to work at The Lodge on the Lake, a writers’ retreat. Her role is to take care of the gardening as well as providing outdoor activities for the guests. She gets permission to set up an archery range in the woods. Like myself, she is a longbow archer and whether or not any of the writers in residence wish to take up the sport, it will give her the chance to keep her hand in.

There is an attraction developing between Galen and Berry, the general manager of the Lodge. In this scene, Berry has followed her to the range, initially staying out of sight. Galen is aware of her presence though and invites her to try shooting a few arrows.

Excerpt from Calling Home:

Berry’s appearance hadn’t taken Galen by surprise. Knowing she was there, Galen’s concentration had wavered, so she was pleased when the second arrow hit the centre.

What did surprise her was the strange feeling that took over her body when she was standing close to Berry. Her fingers tingled from touching her briefly to attach the arm guard and then to guide her when she was drawing back the bow.

Berry seemed to tighten up and Galen didn’t know if it was the fear of doing something wrong in handling the bow, or if it was Galen’s presence that unsettled her. She couldn’t think of anything she’d done to upset the woman. They had worked together easily enough the day before when setting up the afternoon tea.

They walked back to the house together after Berry shot a few more arrows. She needed to get the chicken in the oven so that dinner would be served on time.

“I wonder if Lois has surfaced yet?” Galen thought this was a safe topic with which to break the silence.

“There was no sign of her all morning. Bit of a relief.”

“Do you often get trouble with people drinking too much?’

“Occasionally. But it’s usually with the larger groups. I didn’t anticipate having any problems with this lot.”

The closer they got to the house, the more relaxed Berry seemed to become. Galen hoped she’d enjoyed the archery session but she hadn’t given any indication that she wanted to do it again.

Yelps of outrage reached their ears as they approached the house. A croquet match was in progress and when they reached the edge of the lawn, Lois could be seen giving Pamela a filthy look.

“That was unnecessary.”

“It’s part of the game. I’m supposed to stop you from scoring.”

Lois stomped over to a ball that was hovering on the edge of the path. “Can I move it onto the grass?”

“No, you have to play it from there.”

“Don’t be so picky. It’s not fucking golf.” Lois placed her ball a good foot away from the path.

Pamela caught sight of Galen and Berry who had stopped to watch.

“Hey, did you catch anything?”

Galen was going to respond but Berry got in first.

“No, the fish aren’t biting today. It’s too calm.”

As soon as they got inside, Galen looked at Berry and they both burst out laughing.

“That was a good line,” she said as soon as she managed to stop.

“Yep. They fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.”

Galen loved the way Berry’s smile transformed her face. The shadows under her eyes had lightened since she’d first seen her in the woods.

“I’ll put the fishing rods away and then I can help you with dinner.” She didn’t want their time together to end.

“There’s not much left to do, but you could set the table. There are only six of us tonight. Sarah and Magda have gone across to the Inn.”

“Really. I wouldn’t have thought pub dining was Mrs Frost’s style.”

“Looks are deceiving. It has a very fine restaurant.”

“Maybe we could go sometime.” Galen felt a hot flush of embarrassment. “I mean, there’s nothing wrong with your cooking, but…”

“Actually, tomorrow would be good. I’m going over in the morning to pick up supplies. We could have lunch. It will give you a chance to meet the landlord there and Alfie’s wife.” Berry gave her another smile.

“Does she have a name? I’ve only ever heard anyone refer to her as ‘Alfie’s wife’.” Galen hoped that Berry couldn’t hear her heart pounding.

“Sorry. Bad habit, I guess. Her name is Zofia. Like Sophia but spelled with a Z. She’s Polish, but she speaks English better than me.”

Berry turned to go into the kitchen and Galen hurried off to put her archery equipment in her room. The idea of having lunch with Berry the next day was both exhilarating and scary.

Where Berry is a complete novice at archery, Galen has no experience of relationships. Feeling an attraction is one thing, but will she be able to take it to another level of emotional and physical involvement?

Calling Home


Calling Home is available now from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Apple iTunes.

Number Eight

My eighth novel is on its way…publication day is imminent…June 1st!

Calling Home wasn’t an easy book to write. It’s the first of my novels to include police investigations for a start. But my main focus, as always, is on romance.

Calling Home

Calling Home

Setting the story at a writers’ retreat on an island in a lake was an important element and I was able to draw on my own experience. In 2014, a few months before my first novel was published, I attended a week-long residential writing course. The location wasn’t quite as remote as the one in this story but there was no wi-fi or internet connection and although we could bring our own alcoholic beverages – if we ran out, then we had to use the public telephone to ring through an order to the wine shop in the village for a delivery.

This would seem like a recipe for disaster, leading perhaps to drunken orgies. Everyone was remarkably well-behaved although the number of empty bottles overflowing from the recycling bin at the end of the week led the organisers to say that our group were the highest consumers of alcohol they’d ever had. We even out-drank the poets. Which, apparently, is quite a feat.

Lumb Bank

A writing retreat

Now, I’m not saying my characters in this book drink a lot. They enjoy a glass or two of wine with their evening meal. (Although the poet does overdo it on a few occasions.)

Anyway, back to the romance. Here’s an excerpt that doesn’t include the consumption of alcoholic beverages:

Galen collected her archery equipment and set off for the range. Although she wanted to hurry to get there before Berry, she made herself walk slowly. No point in working up a sweat, replacing the one she had just washed off.

She set up both bows in case Berry wanted to have another go. Berry arrived just after she had shot her first three arrows. Perhaps aware of her impending approach, Galen felt her concentration was off and the result had been disappointing. Two arrows in the blue ring, and one slightly better in the red.

Berry was holding a Booth’s carrier bag in one hand and a picnic rug in the other.

“Might as well dine in comfort,” she said, putting both items down behind Galen’s backpack.

“Um, do you want to shoot first and then eat, or…” Galen felt her nervousness returning.

“Or, what?” Berry stepped in close to her.

There was no mistaking the spark in her eyes. Galen let her instincts take over and bent her head to kiss Berry’s inviting lips. This time the tug of their mutual desire left no room for hesitation. When Berry’s lips parted, Galen knew it was an invitation to explore with her tongue. The sensations coursing through her body were startling in their intensity. Even with no experience to draw on, this felt so right…like coming home. The movement of Berry’s body against hers was intoxicating, and the sudden onrush of warmth between her legs, added another dimension to their connection.

When they had to stop for air, Berry whispered, “Let’s get more comfortable.”

She slipped out of Galen’s embrace and reached for the rug. Galen helped her spread it out on a flat piece of ground. Berry lay down and patted the space next to her. Uncertainty swept through Galen’s mind. Her body wanted whatever was going to happen next, but her brain hadn’t caught up. She slowly lowered herself onto the blanket, lying flat, staring up at the patches of blue sky above the treetops.

Berry raised herself on one elbow and looked at her.

“I’m sorry. I’m a complete novice. I don’t know what to do.”

“I don’t have that much experience myself.” Berry was smiling but her eyes were serious. “If I do anything you don’t like, just tell me to stop, and I will.” She leaned forward and kissed her again.

Galen felt her body slowly relax as she enjoyed the contact once more. After a few minutes, Berry tentatively slid a hand under her shirt. Just that light touch sent a jolt of desire through her. When Berry’s hand cupped her breast, Galen moaned.

“This would be easier if we took our clothes off. Are you okay with that?”

Powerless to speak, Galen nodded. She sat up to remove her shirt and bra, then wriggled out of her shorts.

The book is available now for pre-order on Amazon. After the release date of 1st June, it will be available on other sites including Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Bella Books and iTunes…as well as Affinity Rainbow Publications.

Pre-order links: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA

Other news for the summer:

Book number seven, Changing Perspectives, is a finalist for a Goldie award. Check out the complete list here on the Golden Crown Literary Society website. Winners will be announced at the conference presentation ceremony on 7 July at the Las Vegas.

Portrait woman

Changing Perspectives: Goldie Finalist 2018

Happy Valley Pride‘s plans for the 2018 Festival are coming along nicely. The Lesbian Writers Read event is on Tuesday 7 August from 7pm – venue to be announced. The authors taking part are: Jody Klaire, Cari Hunter, Lise Gold, Lola Keeley, Deborah Delano and myself.

EllCon is also taking place in August…the first ever European Lesfic Literary Conference on 23/24 August in Bristol. Check out the list of authors attending – and book your place, if you haven’t already.


Happy reading!

Digging it out

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

EF2F8053-9EBA-4667-A2C2-63418546A6E1

View of the Vindolanda site

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

ADFEFD34-B2D8-47AD-B237-DFBD9076DBF2

Action shot from last week

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt from Calling Home:

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t think I’m strong enough.”

Calling Home

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

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


7books

Buying links:

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

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

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

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

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

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

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

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


 

A Goldie Finalist!

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

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

genfiction_finalists2018

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

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

anthology_finalists

New book release

Calling Home

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

Back of the book description:

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

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

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

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

Happy Valley Pride Festival news

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

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

vindo14


7books

Buying Links:

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

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

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

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

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

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

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

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


 

 

 

 

 

Trees

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

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

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

progress

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

trees1trees2

trees3

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

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

Calling_home_preview


7books

Buying Links:

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

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

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

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

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

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

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

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


 

 

Of sheds and other things…

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

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

rubble

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

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

project_target

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

Portrait woman

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

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


New book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


7books

Buying Links:

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

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

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

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

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

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

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

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