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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


 

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.)

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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


 

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:

planet

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.

digging

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


 

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).


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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!

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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


 

Six months later…the Epilogue

The question of whether or not readers want an epilogue came up in one of the panels at the BSB festival in Nottingham. It seems some do and some don’t. All my books, bar one, have epilogues. (The exception is Running From Love)

While I seem to be keen on writing epilogues, one thing I don’t do is write ‘The End’. I suppose this is because although I’ve reached the end of writing that particular story, unless all the characters have died, it’s not really the end. After all, a lot of fan fiction is born out of readers wanting to carry the stories on, giving their favourite characters extended lives.

When I finished my first book, Starting Over, and it was accepted for publication, I had no idea that it would be book one of a trilogy. But when I began thinking about what I would write next, several of the characters just seemed to keep interrupting my thoughts and wanted their stories expanded.

So, why write an epilogue? Why not just a final chapter? When I submitted Changing Perspectives to my publisher, there was no epilogue. However, although they liked the story, beta readers felt it ended too abruptly. I didn’t initially think an epilogue was necessary as that was the way I wanted to finish the book. However, as it went through the editing process, my editor persuaded me to add the ‘six months later’. And after I wrote it, I thought it did work.

The example that generally gets brought up in discussions about endings is the fairy tale one of ‘they lived happily ever after’. But once you’ve reached a stage in your life of experiencing relationships, you can’t help wondering how long that lasted. Prince Charming may well turn out to be a cad, and Cinderella a pain in the butt. So, maybe we should write epilogues that reflect the reality of finding out how the perfect HEA turns sour when it comes down to who does the shopping and the laundry and takes the bins out. But then, really, who wants to read about that?

It’s like complaining that no one in a 75,000-word story has ever gone to the toilet or brushed their teeth in the morning. Most authors and readers just want to get on with the story. You don’t want to get bogged down in the minutiae of every bodily function. It’s not very romantic. (Although describing someone’s morning ablutions might be easier than writing good sex scenes…hmm…there’s a thought!)


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

Deuce

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


 

2018 review

Not a lot of words here, but it was an event-filled year in many ways.

January to March saw our front garden being remodelled – hedges ripped out, fencing installed and a new garden layout. And then the Beast from the East arrived just after the new plants were installed. (This is photo in the back garden – miraculously all the plants survived.)snow_2018

In April we visited Shibden Hall for the first time (only having lived in the area for 24 years!) – just before it closed for the filming of the Anne Lister story, Gentleman Jack.

shibdenhall

My fifth year as a volunteer excavator at Vindolanda took place over two weeks in May. Many exciting discoveries as usual.

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June 1st was the release date for my eighth published novel, Calling Home. Later in the month, I submitted novel number 9 to Affinity Rainbow Publications. (It was accepted and is due out in February – cover reveal and blurb coming soon!)

Calling Home

In July we visited Settle to view the Flowerpot exhibits – many wonderful creations spread throughout  the village

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My 7th novel, Changing Perspectives was a finalist for a Goldie Award at the GCLS Conference in Las Vegas.

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2018 Goldie Finalists: Changing Perspectives in General Fiction – and short stories included in each of the finalists in the Anthology category (Winner: Our Happy Hours)

August was also a busy month with the Happy Valley Pride Festival and another successful Lesbian Writers Read event. This was followed a few weeks later with the inaugural European Lesbian Literary Conference (ELLCon) in Bristol. And we managed to fit in a trip to Manchester to see the magnificent bee sculptures.

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In September I took the initiative and contacted Gay’s the Word bookshop in London to see if they would be interested in stocking some of my books. (They were – and here they are pictured on a shelf, next to Ali Smith’s books!)

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We visited Bolton Abbey in October. The last time I was there would have been many years ago with my grandparents.

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November was a time for reorganising and redistributing books as we had new carpets and flooring installed throughout the house.

All this leading up to Christmas and a fantastic five days spent at a country house hotel on Lake Windermere. We’ve spent seven Christmases now in similar locations in the Lake District. (Where do you think I got some of the ideas for a house party in Christmas at Winterbourne?)

lakeview

Looking forward to 2019…and more adventures, more reading, more writing…and just more living!


 

What’s in a name?

(Paraphrasing from Shakespeare: ‘Would a Rose sound as sweet.’)

With eight published novels, (number nine is at the editing stage and number ten is in embryonic form), and five short stories…finding names for characters is becoming something of an art form.

I now have a spreadsheet with all the names I’ve used. I don’t like to use the same name twice, particularly for the main protagonists. For the benefit of readers as well as myself, it’s good to have different names in each book to keep track of who’s who.

I did have to change one character’s name in Christmas at Winterbourne. The backstory for that novel was written many years before and not published. One of the main characters was called Jamie – a name I like. But then I used it in The Circle Dance as it seemed to fit the personality of that particular person.

name_changing

Can you guess which character’s name I changed in Christmas at Winterbourne?

Sometimes I’ll change a name during the editing stage. Usually only when there are two names that look or sound similar, or even just start with the same letter. Less confusion all round.

Another thing I’ve learned to watch out for is avoiding names that are easy to trip over when reading aloud. There’s a character called Laurel in The Circle Dance. That shouldn’t be too hard to say, you would think. However, I wished I’d used Laura instead as I kept stumbling over it.

In Changing Perspectives, I deliberately chose Camila with this spelling as I wanted her name to have a Spanish pronunciation…Ca-mee-ya. Again, when it came to doing a podcast, I thought maybe should have stuck with the English version and I suspect readers will be interpreting it as Ca-mill-a (as in the Duchess of Cornwall) anyway.

The other thing I’ve noticed about my naming convention, if I can call it that, is the tendency to use androgynous names for butch characters and more feminine ones for femmes. So it’s a bit of clue for readers if a couple gets together and the names don’t match this way. For example: in Running From Love, Lydia and Beth clearly aren’t going to make it in a long-term relationship. So is Beth going to end up with Jordan or Sam?

It’s also a good idea to be flexible. Sometimes halfway through a novel, I’ll think a name isn’t working, as the character develops and grows into the story. Or I see two names starting with the same letter or sound, so I’ll change one of them.

I do enjoy the process of naming. All part of the fun starting a new book and finding out who these people are whose stories are going to be revealed. (I’m a pantser rather than a plotter, so that’s always a mystery until about half way in.)


On another note:

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My publisher, Affinity Rainbow Publications, is doing flash sales every month from their back catalogue of books by their authors. Sign up for the Affinity newsletter to receive notifications of these bargain prices, plus upcoming releases and author news. (October newsletter)

The site also offers a selection of free ebooks including my first ever published short story, There Was A Time.

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Happy reading!


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Buying links:

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

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


 

Not in Vegas…

What do these three books have in common? They are all GCLS finalists – in the running for a Golden Crown Literary Society Award – known as a ‘Goldie’. 3books_mod

My novel, Changing Perspectives, set in 1993 London, is a finalist in the General Fiction category. And I also contributed a story to each of the two books that are finalists in the Anthology category…Gateway to Heaven in Our Happy Hours and Con Virgin Convert in Conference Call.

Unfortunately, I won’t be at the GCLS conference this year. I have attended for the last three years, visiting three amazing cities – New Orleans, Washington DC, and Chicago. I’m hoping that whatever happens in Las Vegas doesn’t stay there. I look forward to seeing all the posts on social media. But I know that I will miss all the friends I’ve enjoyed meeting at the previous conferences. Already I’m feeling something missing in my life.

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Will definitely miss the ‘Beth Burnett hugs’

This is the weekend when I would be checking everything for the trip…tickets, reservations, passport, ESTA, cash…practicing a reading or checking on notes for a panel. Clothes didn’t need too much thought – shorts and t-shirts mainly and something a bit dressier for the Awards Ceremony.

Speaking of dressing up, I was there for the inception of the idea that has now blossomed into the publication of The Velvet Anthology. If you’re at GCLS, be sure to pick up your copy and get it signed by Velvet herself, plus some of the renowned authors who have contributed their stories.

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So best wishes to all the finalists…with a special mention for Renee MacKenzie’s book Pausing. If either of our books should win, I’m sure I will hear the Affinity team’s raucous celebration from here. (And if you’re at the ceremony, please post photos of Annette Mori wearing a tux!)

I will somehow distract myself for the next few weeks with my usual activities – golf and archery. Also preparing for two events in August.

The Happy Valley Pride Festival takes place from 6 to 12 August…check out the countdown on the website…tickets will be on sale soon. Before that, there’s the week long Hebden Bridge Arts Festival that has just started. If you’re visiting the town, check out the tree trail. And make sure you stop by the Happy Valley Pride tree…can’t really miss it…next to the Lamppost Café.

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The next event in August is EllCon, the very first European Lesfic Literary Conference, which is in Bristol on 23 to 24 August. I’m looking forward to meeting all the authors and readers who will be attending. (And hope I have to time to check out the Wallace and Gromit sculpture trail in the city.)

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Meanwhile, if you haven’t picked up my latest book: check out the book review on the Lesbian Reading Room website.

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Happy summer reading!


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