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.


 

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.

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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!

A Goldie Finalist!

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

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

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

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

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’.

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Buying Links:

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

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

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

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

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

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

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

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


 

 

 

 

 

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!)

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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.


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Buying Links:

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

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

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

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

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

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

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

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


Writing blues

Middle of February and I’m feeling out of it. The weather’s crap so I should be writing up a storm. No plans to be anywhere, no commitments. But, can I write? No. Sitting in front of the screen, looking at the page, seeing my project target stuck on a lower number than I would like. After 22,000 words, my latest WIP has hit a brick wall. I know where I want the story to go, but I can’t get there.

project1

Fine. So, what do I do? Go back to the previous WIP that stalled on 3,400 words back in November. This one should be easier. The characters are from the short story that appeared in Affinity’s Christmas Medley anthology – Maybe This Christmas. I like these characters. The setting is where I live, an area that I love writing about.

That seemed to part of the problem with the other story. I was finding that I didn’t like the characters or the situation. If I don’t love my characters, then I can’t expect a reader to want to read about them.

Okay, so the extension of the Christmas story is a good possibility. Emma and Zan are two months into the relationship that started then. They seem well suited to each other – what could possibly go wrong? That’s one theme to carry forward. Then there’s Emma’s best friend, Sass. I know that her story needs developing. Of the group of friends in the Christmas story, she’s the one who has the most potential for a story arc.

Wow, I almost sound like I know what I’m doing. I’ve noted down some ideas and managed to write 600 words this morning. Maybe not quite as quickly as the water rushing over the weir or with the enthusiasm of the tree branches reaching up to the blue sky…but I know the words will come through…eventually.

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I really hope I can keep this story going. When I’m not writing,not excited about a project, everything feels a bit flat. Time to shake that off and perk up. March will be here soon.

On another note, I’m pleased to find that my novel, Changing Perspectives, is doing well. This was the one that took me 24 years to finish. Hopefully my latest WIP won’t take that long to complete – even though it feels like it might at the rate I’m going at the moment.


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Buying Links:

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

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

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

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

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

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

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

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

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


 

First blog of 2018

My first blog of 2018, almost three weeks into the new year…

What have I been doing with that time? Well, it’s a sort of semi-hibernation. Gone are the days of making resolutions I’m not going to keep…wasted gym memberships, home exercise regimes, diets, lists of household chores. However, I have been doing some reading, a bit of writing, planning some holidays for later in the year.

On the writing front, a new story is starting to take shape. But this is the gestation period. And I know I can’t rush it. The ideas are coming through…slowly but surely.

This week though it’s mainly been weather-watching. Every day we’ve been told it’s going to snow. Reports on the news of disaster on the roads, power cuts, trains and buses cancelled, airports closed.

weather_jan19

Two snowflakes indicate heavy snow showers. (Not so far today!)

The BBC Weather app shows snow for us today, as this screenshot from yesterday shows. Well, wherever the snow is falling, it’s avoiding this part of the region. Rain, a bit of sleet,  I can see a smattering of snow on the hills but here in the valley we have none.

Maybe I should be grateful we’re not suffering any ill effects from the weather  but I can’t help feeling  disappointed to look out the window and see that it’s only raining… again.

Apart from the no-show snow, life goes on. In a few months time I’ll be heading back up to Vindolanda for my fifth year of digging on the site. Last year, only a few weeks after my session ended, a lucky volunteer found a sword. Someone else came across more writing tablets. I hope they’ve left something for me to find.

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Can’t wait to get stuck in!

In June we have a golf holiday booked, a week in East Lothian playing on some of their very fine courses.

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This was in August on a previous occasion – hope it’s a bit warmer in June this year.

The month of August is looking particularly busy. There’s the week long Happy Valley Pride Festival in Hebden Bridge from the 6th to the 12th. Lots of activity over the coming months as preparations gear up.

Then ELLCon. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth talking about it again. The very first European Lesfic Literary Conference is being held in Bristol on 23/24 August. Take a look at the website to see how the programme is shaping up and book your place. The site also has useful information about accommodation options in the city.

Earlier this month, I was featured on the EllCon Author Spotlight page and gave away a signed copy of Changing Perspectives. The winner was Amy Barr from Pennsylvania. I’m guessing she won’t be attending the conference, so I was certainly happy to send her a book.

ellcon_spotlight

Book cover images used for ELLCon Author Spotlight promo

On the book front…June is the proposed date for the release of my next novel, Calling Home. This one is very different from any of the others. A bit of mystery involved, but not a detective novel. Still a fair bit of romance.

Also, if you haven’t yet read The Starling Hill Trilogy, now is your chance to pick up all three books for the price of one. My lovely publisher, Affinity Rainbow Publications, released the omnibus edition on not just Amazon, but also Bella Books, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. It has been available on the Affinity website for some time. They’re very generous like that and it’s worth visiting their site to check out all their authors, and a good number of free books.

trilogy_omnibus

Happy reading for January and the rest of the year!


Book Links:

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

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


 

 

My year in review

Looking back, I’ve had a very good year writing-wise with two novels published and three short stories included in three different anthologies.

Books: Changing Perspectives and Running From Love (shortlisted for a Diva Literary Award in Romance)

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Short Stories: Con Virgin Convert in Conference Call / Maybe This Christmas in Affinity’s Christmas Medley / Gateway to Heaven in Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars

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2017 also saw the first Lesbian reading event held in Hebden Bridge during the Happy Valley Pride festival. Many thanks to authors Lise Gold, Robyn Nyx, Brey Willows, and Cari Hunter for taking part on a wet evening in August – and to Helen Baron for hosting the event in her haberdashery, Ribbon Circus.

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I attended the GCLS conference in Chicago – always a wonderful opportunity to meet up with many readers, authors and publishers – plus, of course the Affinity team pictured here: Angela Koenig, Renee MacKenzie, Annette Mori, Ali Spooner and myself.

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The inaugural Diva Literary Festival was another highlight offering the chance to connect with a host of authors and readers from the UK and Europe.

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Pictured here with Caroline Manchoulas, Clare Lydon, and Harper Bliss – all dressed up for the Awards dinner

I also celebrated the 30th anniversary of living with my wife. We had a lovely gathering with friends, plus local singer/songwriter, Terry Logan, came along and added to the fun by playing some tunes for us.

Dancing_T1

And she even got me up ‘dancing’!

Other highlights of 2017 included two weeks of digging at Vindolanda, visits to the British Library and Gladstone’s Library, spending time with my mother in Victoria and Vancouver – plus the regular activities of golf, archery and boxercise.

Looking forward to next year – I have a new novel due out in June. I’m also looking forward to taking part in the first ever European Lesfic Literary Conference (ELLCon) in Bristol in August.

I’m ready to welcome in the new year…hope you are too!


Book Links:

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

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

Christmas Medley: Affinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK

Our Happy Hours: Bella Books / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble

Conference Call: Bella Books


 

Sexplicity reigns

An early Christmas present…the author copies of Changing Perspectives arrived from my publisher, Affinity Rainbow Publications.

authorbooks

Thank you to everyone who has bought the book and an extra thank you to those readers who have reviewed it so far. For her review on the Lesbian Reading Room website, Velvet Lounger, used the tag ‘sexplicit’. I was thrilled. My novels prior to this one probably wouldn’t fit the ‘sexplicit’ tag. Sexplicity has not been my strong point in writing these romances.

Excerpt – a teaser:

…Dani opened the fridge. “Oh damn. The maid hasn’t done the shopping.”

“The maid—” Camila suddenly started laughing.

“What’s funny?”

“You are. I really thought you did have a maid.”

Dani grinned at her. “You didn’t?”

“I did.” Camila was holding on to the table, doubled over with laughter.

Dani went over and hugged her. Then they were kissing with a desperate urgency, as if it had been much longer than two nights and days since they last made love. Camila’s stomach rumbled loudly, causing Dani to stop her exploration of Camila’s mouth with her tongue. “When did you last eat?”

“Must have been breakfast time. We worked through lunch and only had time for a mad dash for the plane.”

“Right, so we can get a snack at the Lion or order a takeaway.”

“Takeaway.” Camila didn’t seem to want Dani to let go of her.

“Chinese or Indian?”

“Indian.”

Dani released her to find the menu. Camila went upstairs to shower and change while Dani rang the order through and prepared drinks, a gin and tonic for Camila and a beer for herself.

Later, having finished the last of the meal, licking the remnants of sauce off each other’s fingers, Camila said, “Dani, I have to ask you something.”

“Sounds serious.”

“It’s just a bit embarrassing.”

“I don’t think you could embarrass me.”

“It’s me who is embarrassed. I mean, I’m nearly forty years old and I feel like an inexperienced virgin in this regard.”

“So are you going to tell me before you get much older?”

Camila looked down at the table and started tidying the cartons.

Dani stopped her, grasping her hands. “Come on, it’s me. You can ask me anything.”

“Promise not to laugh?”

“I’ll try. Not promising though, as I don’t know what it is.”

Camila blushed. “Um, the thing is, I wondered, do you have a dildo?”

Dani bit her lip, trying not to burst out laughing. She looked at the ceiling to get herself under control before she could speak. “Yes, actually, one or two. Why?” she asked with feigned innocence.

“I just thought I might like to try it, if you’re willing to, of course.”

Dani took a deep breath. “I think I could force myself.”

Camila studied her face. “Are you laughing at me?”

“Not at all. Come on, let’s do it.” She stood and pulled Camila up with her.

“What about the dishes?”

“Oh, we’ll leave those for the maid.

Quote from Velvet’s review:

“…Excellent storyline, interesting characters, gentle exploration of the fetish/S&M scene of the era and a delightful journey of self-discovery, this is definitely Jen Silver’s best to date…”

Back of the book blurb:

London, 1993

Art director, Dani Barker, lives life on the edge and getting into a fight in a lesbian leather bar on a Friday night isn’t an unusual occurrence.

Camila Callaghan, finance director for a large company, feels satisfied with her life in most respects. She enjoys her job and thinks it’s necessary to stay in the closet to maintain the position she’s worked hard to achieve.

When Dani and Camila meet, they both sense an attraction, but is it merely curiosity with each other’s contrasting lives? Dani hopes that Camila can be the partner she has longed for since her earliest forays into SM. The boundaries of Camila’s settled world start to blur as she questions her own feelings for Dani and what she represents.

Will their differences make a long-term relationship achievable? A change of perspective for both women is needed if they are to reach this goal.

Not really a seasonal story but it does end at Christmas.


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More Christmas reading fare is available from Affinity Rainbow Publications with the Christmas Medley – a delightful collection of stories from eight Affinity authors. So, time to get out the party hats, pull a few crackers and enjoy a glass or two of mulled wine (non-alcoholic versions are available).

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

Christmas Medley: Affinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK


A change of perspective

Before Changing Perspectives was released I told family and friends that this book was somewhat different from my other published novels…a trigger warning of sorts. They’ve all been very supportive, buying and reading my work, even if lesbian romance isn’t their preferred reading material. (My brother worries about what it does to his Amazon account algorithm – suggestions coming up of what he might like based on his recent purchases! And he’s moved my books to a top shelf in his living room so that his young grandson can’t reach them.)

So I was delighted when my mother sent an email saying she’d read the book…and enjoyed it! In her words: “Might have skipped quickly over some parts but people are entitled to their pleasures.”

What a lovely way of expressing it.

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The joy of getting my hands on the print version!

Reviews and comments from other readers have been positive so far. I’m happy for my characters. It took years to gain the confidence to put their story out there. Six novels later, I thought it was time…all it needed was a change of perspective…from me.

Excerpt:

Camila stood by the window watching the play of morning light on the water. The tide was in and there were little waves. She watched several rowers going past; it was the start of a bright, breezy day.

She turned back to look at Dani, asleep. The bedclothes were a tangled mess and Dani was sprawled inelegantly amongst the heap. Camila could see the unmistakable outline of welts across Dani’s buttocks. They would have to talk about it, but she didn’t know how to start. It wasn’t something she had any experience with and it was easy to react negatively—shocked, revolted—but what did she really feel? What did Dani really feel?

She had a choice, of course—leave now and never see Dani again. It had been fun, two nights of the best sex she had ever had. Keep the memory intact. Before anything went wrong. Before they found out what they didn’t like about each other.

But she couldn’t, not right away. She felt tears starting; Dani had somehow unlocked the floodgates, emotions she didn’t know she had. Looking at Dani, remembering her touch, she was getting wet. Camila wanted her to touch her again now. She was sure it had never been like this with Allison, even in their early days together.

“Dani.” She shook her shoulder gently. Dani rolled over and opened her eyes. Camila couldn’t read her expression. Was she just sleepy, or was she wondering where she was and why? Camila bent over and kissed her. Dani seemed awake enough to immediately find and grasp one of her breasts. Dani knew exactly what she wanted; her touch was firm and accurate. Camila heard herself crying out her pleasure, her desire for more. She had never been a “screamer”. She had never thought of herself as being very sensual at all. She had been wrong.

Is this likely to work out? Dani, the out and proud leather dyke…with Camila, the rigidly closeted ice queen both at work and in her very private life. As the back of the book blurb states:

Will their differences make a long-term relationship achievable? A change of perspective for both women is needed if they are to reach this goal.

Guess you’ll just have to read it to find out what happens.


Available from Affinity Rainbow Publications and other online outlets: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Amazon AUBarnes & Noble /Bella Books / Apple iTunes / Smashwords