Lockdown comfort reading

Books I’ve been re-reading over the last three weeks:

I started with Swallows and Amazons, a regular source of comfort reads. Coot Club and The Big Six are gentle stories about sailing on the Norfolk Broads. I’ve never sailed in my life and never quite mastered rowing or paddling a canoe either. But I love these stories and marvel at how self-sufficient these children are. However, when Arthur Ransome wrote the stories in the 1930s, it was a very different world.

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After messing about in boats, I moved on to more adult fare with Jasper Fforde. I read books 1 to 5 of the Thursday Next series. They’re all good fun but I think my favourite is the third one – The Well of Lost Plots when Thursday has to hide out in an unpublished novel and continues with her training as a Jurisfiction agent under Miss Havisham.

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Time then for a complete change of scene and on to some lesfic. My first stop here was an old favourite, which I discovered on the Mooch café’s Books for sale shelf five years ago. (I got it signed by the wonderful Karin K when I attended my first GCLS Conference in New Orleans in 2015.) Just Like That, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a delightful lesbian take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. (And the glass of wine is relevant!)

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After that, I needed more Kallmaker and found I had her very first published novel on my Kindle. In Every Port is a great coming out story with historical overtones, set at the time of Harvey Milk’s assassination and the Jonestown massacre.

Sticking with old favourites, I then moved on to detective stories starting with Murder at the Nightwood Bar and The Beverley Malibu by Katherine V Forrest. KVF never disappoints.

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That brings me up to date as I’ve just started on the first of the Lauren Laurano series – Everything You Have is Mine by Sandra Scoppettone.

So, why all the reading? Apart from the obvious – only going out when necessary. The writing is just not happening. Making notes for this blog is the most I’ve been able to do. I’m at the halfway point in my next WIP – but it’s not progressed past there in the last month.

For something else to do, I’ve recorded myself reading Chapter One of Country Living. No need for any professional audio book narrators to be worried. I’m no good at character voices and don’t have the skill to edit out the occasional bleep or stumble. And I certainly can’t compete with the lovely Clare Ashton who is reading her book Poppy Jenkins chapter by chapter (available on YouTube). But here is the audio file, if you want to listen.

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Reviews for Country Living

There haven’t been many, but I am very grateful for the reviews I’ve received so far for Country Living. (All five stars!) This one appeared on the Amazon UK site on 27 March:

Heart warming, fast moving and so true to life!

After 20 years of living together, marriage and comfortable ‘rubbing along’, you think you know someone – but maybe you don’t! This cracking story so well written. I became fully immersed in the sadness of middle aged Peri who suddenly realises her wife has been cheating on her and has to start rebuilding her life. Set in Yorkshire, England, the vivid writing transports you to the hills, dales and farm life of this beautiful countryside. And as always with Jen Silver’s books the plot is multi layered delivering a cool and sparkling look at contemporary life and adding real ‘edge’ to the story. Balancing out the romances, there are secrets, intrigues and surprise twists. Young and middle aged characters have experiences so recognisable – I felt I truly reading about people I know. There are always high expectations of Jen Silver’s books and ‘Country Living’ is one of her best.

Thanks for reading, if you got this far. Hope you’re staying safe and maybe enjoying rereading some of your own comfort reads.


Country Living – published 1 March 2020 – availabe from: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Amazon AU / Amazon DE / Amazon FR / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes


 

Out in the country

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, yeah. Be right back.”

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

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

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

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


 

Coming soon

January was a busy month with editing and proofreading my next novel to be published and also approving the audio files for my second audio book.

The novel, Country Living, will be out in March, published by Affinity Rainbow Publications. This is Affinity’s 10th year in publishing and, coincidentally, Country Living is my 10th published novel.

I love what Irish Dragon Design has done with the cover – managing to include the chickens, sheep, and a glass of wine for one of the main characters.

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Back of the book description

When Peri Sanderson achieves her dream of moving from London to a cottage in the English countryside, she expects her domestic bliss will be complete when her wife, Karla, leaves her London job to join her. Peri sees their future together as growing vegetables, tending some chickens, and chatting with the locals by a roaring log fire in a quaint village pub.

Sexy urbanite, Karla, has other ideas and they don’t include a move to the countryside.

Secrets are everywhere. Peri quickly senses something not quite right among her rural neighbours, and Karla is not quite the worldly wise woman-about-town that she thinks she is.

Temptation, betrayal and intrigue combine to change the lives of both women beyond anything they could have imagined.


New Audio Book

StartingOver

The audio book which I’m hoping will be available later this month has been expertly narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent. Starting Over was my debut novel, published in 2014. So it feels good to bring it back to the fore now. Like Country Living, a lot of the action takes place on a farm – with chickens, but no sheep. Nicola did a great job with all the different accents for a diverse group of characters. I hope you’ll enjoy a listen.

Back of the book description

Ellie Winters, a successful potter, is living on a remote hilltop farm inherited from her parents. Her well-ordered life is shaken apart when her past meets her present.

Robin Fanshawe, Ellie’s philandering long-term lover, has a fragile truce with Ellie. The arrival of women from Robin’s present threatens to break that tentative pact.

Charming Dr. Kathryn Moss, an archaeologist and an old lover of Ellie’s, arrives on the farm searching for a new site to dig. When she discovers a previously unknown Roman settlement and ancient burial site on Ellie’s farm, Ellie allows her to start an archaeological dig of the area.

Will Ellie also allow the rekindling of an old romance or will she stay with Robin? Can that long term relationship, albeit tentative, recover from this collision or will an old romance trump everything she knows?

Will Robin, seeing the interaction between Ellie and Kathryn, leave her womanizing ways behind? Will she take a chance on giving herself wholly to the woman she loves?

These questions and the mystery of whose royal resting place is disturbed at Starling Hill are answered in this classic romance of simmering passions, anguished loss, and the wonder of love.


Changing Perspectives, narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent – available to download 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.

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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

 

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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.

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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.

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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


 

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!

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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.

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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.

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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


 

An end to Country Living

I’ve struggled to finish Book 10. I was fairly confident when I started writing it back in September that I would be finished by Christmas. However, it’s now eight months on from that beginning and it’s not over yet.

The working title is Country Living and although I’ve tried to come up with another name that isn’t going to be confused with the magazine of the same title, it just seems to fit.

As spring is now moving rapidly into summer, the analogy that also fits could be portrayed with these photos.

roots1The gnarled roots of an old tree exposed to the elements…as I try to unearth the secrets of my characters…

tree_cut1The beautiful mature tree at the top of our road that was cut down in January to make way for a car park…losses the protagonists have to deal with…

crocii_daffsAnd the first signs of spring…brave daffodil and crocus flowering to bring life and colour to the garden…the hope for a happy ever after…for someone…

Sometime soon I also have to write the synopsis…something else I struggle with. Fitting the essence of the story into a few hundred words is the hardest job of all. Then whether or not this story will be accepted for publication is another matter.

Here is the beginning:

Chapter One

The view is what sold it to her, Peri’s dream cottage in the country. A lack of roses around the door made up by the commanding vista across a tree-lined valley with no hint of the busy road below. When she’d researched the area, the hamlet shown as Heron Ridge on the map had a history that stretched back to pre-Roman times, part of Elmet, often referred to as the last Celtic kingdom in England.

Peri breathed in the fresh air, recently cleansed from the shower that accompanied their drive up the narrow lane. There was plenty of space for a kitchen garden and perhaps a generously sized chicken run in the future.

“Isn’t it just simply gorgeous, K?”

Karla grunted as she hefted the two large suitcases out of the car. “Yeah. Nice. Grab one of the boxes. Let’s get this in before the rain starts again.”

It wouldn’t take long to empty the boot of the Range Rover, a vehicle that looked out of place on city streets but would be perfect when Karla finally joined her at the cottage. Her wife was looking at six months to close out all the projects she was working on so they could start the new phase of their life together.

So, what can possibly go wrong for these two characters? Working that out wasn’t difficult. Finding out what could go right was another matter.

The end is getting closer. But it’s reached the point now where I need to let it sit for a few weeks before reading it again to see what might be missing, what needs tweaking, and writing that damn synopsis.


In the meantime, if you’re looking for something to read, you could give Book 9, Deuce, a try. It’s been out for a few months now and has had some good reviews.

Happy reading!


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