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


 

Christmas by the Lake

Is it January already? Time for another blog. A dreary January day seems ideal for a reflection on the wonderful time we had over Christmas. We’ve spent a few Christmases at Lake Windermere. This year was lovely, as it always is, regardless of the weather. Christmas Eve and Boxing Day were both wet days, but Christmas Day the sun came out.

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This was a contrast to the same place ten years earlier when we made snowbears by the lakeside.

snowbears


Clare Lydon invited lesbian fiction authors to take part in a Festive Lesbian Book Club Podcast. I was happy to answer her questions and this was the result with myself, Jae, Clare Ashton, Melissa Tereze, Lise Gold, Jody Klaire and SR Silcox answering the following questions: First, favourite lesfic of the year. Second, favourite festive lesfic ever. Third, what we’re hoping for from Santa. Fourth, what we like to eat & drink at Christmas. Finally, our publishing plans for 2020. Clare also added her own answers to the questions.


Happy Thanksgiving

Thank you to everyone who took advantage of Affinity’s December sale and bought copies of Christmas at Winterbourne, as well as the other books on sale during the month. Always worth checking out the Affinity Raingbow Publications website for free books and special offers. Subscribers to their newsletter can also benefit from the monthly flash sales.


2020 is starting out slowly for me. But it will be picking up speed in the next few weeks. I’ll be doing edits for my book due out in March – Country Living. Nicola Victoria Vincent has started recording Starting Over which will be the second one of my books to make it into audio. And I’m working on a new novel!

So let’s get on with more happy writing, reading, and listening this year!


Changing Perspectives, narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent – 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

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Wintry tales

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Winter warmers in story form…if you haven’t encountered it already, I recommend joining the cast of characters in Christmas at Winterbourne for an unforgettable interlude at a lesbian retreat in Sussex. One reviewer came up with a summary that encapsulates the story far better than I’ve managed: “The characters are incredible and unique. They all have their own personalities, strength and weaknesses. A mixture of very different women. Sharing a few days with those characters is pure joy. I loved the whole atmosphere, the warm kitchen, the log fires, the cozy setting. It all felt so real. A story of love, loss, secrets, humor, friendship, compassion and a caring community. Reading this book is like falling into a warm bed on a snowy day…A perfect romance and just what I was looking for and a delightful read to put you in the Christmas mood.”

Check out the December price of Christmas at Winterbourne on Amazon: $3.99 on Amazon.com / £3.09 on Amazon.co.uk

 

christmas_medley

Affinity’s 2017 Christmas Medley has a delightful mix of stories. My offering, Maybe this Christmas, was summed up beautifully by one reviewer: “…set in Hebden Bridge, the lesbian mecca of the north of England. I loved the setting and the sweet story of Emma and her struggle to get past heartbreak and feel love again.”

I’ve recently started thinking about expanding the story of Emma and her friends into a full-length novel.

 

Wanted for Christmas

JM Dragon, renowned Affinity Rainbow Publications author, just loves Christmas and has released a new novella.

wanted


Venturing away from the world of lesfic, this is the time of year when dedicated fans of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence start thinking about re-reading the books. The time to start reading the second book in the sequence, The Dark is Rising, is on Midwinter’s Eve (21 December) when Will Stanton, 11 years old, is drawn into the ancient battle between the forces of the Light and the Dark.

Puffin Books has just released the books with new covers and foreword by Robert McFarlane. Although the new covers are good, I still prefer the cover of the 1973 version that I have, published by Atheneum.

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Other old favourites that I like to revisit at this time of year are Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome…a seasonal visit to the Lake District…and a trip into Narnia with  The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis.

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Plans for the New Year

My new novel, Country Living, is due out in March, published by Affinity Rainbow Publications.

Blurb preview:

When Peri Sanderson achieves her dream of living in a cottage in the country she expects her life will be complete when her wife, Karla Sykes, is able to join her. Peri has romantic visions of growing her own vegetables, nurturing a few chickens and finally getting around to re-reading all her favourite books.

Karla has told Peri she can’t make the move from their London home for at least six months as she has a number of important projects to finish up before she can leave her job. Unknown to Peri, Karla has plans of her own that don’t include a move to the country.

Peri’s nearest neighbours on the hilltop sheep farm above the cottage seem like a nice family and help her to settle in and feel less lonely, but they all have secrets of their own.

Will Peri’s dream turn into a nightmare? Will Karla’s romantic adventure bring her the release she seeks?

 

And a new audio book: Starting Over…Nicola Victoria Vincent to start recording in January.

SO_audio_cover


Changing Perspectives is already out on audio, narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent – 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


 

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.

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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.

producer

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.

North Berwick

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

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

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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.

horsebows

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