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

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


 

Celebrating books and readers

Last week I travelled to Nottingham to take part in the 1st Annual Waterstones LGBTQ Literature Festival. I read from Deuce on Friday afternoon alongside authors – Lise Gold, Anna Larner, Rebecca S Buck, and Basil (“I’m not an herb”) Osborne.

My wife took a photo of me reading through the glass of the door – which is why it’s a bit blurry. She said she didn’t want to put me off by coming into the room. I don’t think I would have noticed as I was just trying to read without stumbling over words.

Deuce_reading

The next day was the start of the 10th Annual Bold Strokes Book Festival, also held at Waterstones. I learned something at one of the morning panels where romance novels were being discussed. Apparently, readers of lesbian fiction (what we refer to as ‘lesfic’ – as opposed to, someone suggested, ‘hetfic’) are quite conservative in their views of how romantic protagonists behave. They don’t want to read about lesbians cheating on their partners.

This was a revelation to me. I guess I didn’t get this memo. My debut novel, Starting Over even states in the first line of the blurb that one of the main characters is a philanderer. Thinking about it later I realised that five of my novels have partners who cheat (not always the main characters though). And my current WIP has a serial cheater as an MC.

Oh dear. There go my chances of a breakthrough number one!

Safe books of mine, in case you’re wondering, would be the second and third books of the trilogy Arc Over Time and Carved in Stone, then Calling Home and Deuce.

I didn’t take any photos during either of the days, so I’m grateful to Kitty for posting some on her blog and writing a great overview of the event.

And, as a fan of lesbian fiction, I did buy a few books. Who can resist when faced with such an amazing selection from the many talented authors who were there and available to sign the books as well.

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It was a marvellous two days and I enjoyed every minute. I can recommend it as a date to put in your diaries as soon as BSB announces the timing for next year’s festival. Thank you to Robyn Nyx, Brey Willows, and the Nottingham Waterstones team for organising the excellent and varied programme as well as providing a welcoming and safe space for us to gather.

I didn’t join in the after party on Saturday as I was meeting my wife for dinner. But I did manage to celebrate with a pirate mojito. Cheers, and here’s to a summer of good reading!

pirate_mojito


Another important date for readers of lesfic is the Lesbian Writers Read event at the Happy Valley Pride Festival. Brochures and website information for the week-long festival will be available soon. I can give advance notice though that our reading session takes place on the afternoon of Saturday 27 July in the Little Theatre in Hebden Bridge. And the authors who have agreed to take part this year are: Clare Ashton, Andrea Bramhall, Jody Klaire, Clare Lydon, and Sam Skyborne. I’ve also enlisted the services of well-known reviewer, Velvet Lounger, to be our MC.


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


 

A long lost love revived

I’ve never been to Nottingham. Which is a bit odd considering my obsession with Robin Hood in my early years and now in my later years, shooting longbow at our local archery club.

When I was about seven or eight, I made my own bow and played in the woods. I always wanted to be Robin, not Maid Marian. We’d moved to house next to a wooded area, which seemed large to me but probably wasn’t very big.

My mother signed me up for Brownies. I think I only went twice. I wasn’t impressed with the range of activities on offer…none of which involved shooting arrows. And I didn’t want to sit in a village hall with the other girls around a fake fire being a pixie or a kelpie.

One day I came out of the woods just as the Brownie troop was marching down the road. Brown Owl brought them to a halt and kindly asked if I would like to join them on their nature hike. I’ve no idea what I said, if anything. But I disappeared quickly back into the woods and let them march on to study flowers and butterflies while I went returned to fighting off imaginary foes…Guy of Gisborne and the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Happy days

Dressed for playing in the woods

We moved to Canada not long after that and my first girl crush was over a young woman at the summer camp who taught archery. On my tenth birthday I was given a fibreglass bow with a set of arrows and paper target. It stayed with me until I moved back to England over twenty years later. I gave it to two little boys before leaving…they were absolutely thrilled. (I’m not sure their mother was.)

And then there was a hiatus of many years…working, meeting my wife, getting a university degree, and taking up golf. It was actually another golfer who reignited my interest in archery. She told me about the local club and I took their beginners’ course. That was nine years ago and I still love it.

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Dressed for an Agincourt shoot

So, this weekend, I will finally be visiting Robin Hood’s heartland. On Friday I’m taking part in the 1st Annual Waterstones  LGBTQ Literature Festival in Nottingham where I will be reading from Deuce. (If you haven’t come across my most recently published novel, take a look at this review from Gaby at Lesreviewbooks)

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And then on the weekend I’m looking forward to meeting up with authors, reviewers, and readers at the 10th Bold Strokes Book Festival, also held at Waterstones.

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If you can make it, please come along and join in the festivities.

Happy reading!


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


 

Background for Deuce

I wrote a piece for a recent Affinity Rainbow Publications newsletter titled ‘An Author’s Tale’. The idea was to give readers some background on how the story came about and this is what I came up with:

I began writing this book for my own amusement back in the late 1980s. Originally it was a fairly simple love story between a tennis player and a marine biologist. Charlotte, the biologist, is researching a disease that’s causing the devastation of the grey seal population of the North Sea. When her research vessel sinks without trace, Jay, the tennis player, is bereft and that’s where I left the story, as I didn’t have any idea how to come back from that abrupt ending of the romance.

Fast forward to 2018 –I decided to take another look at the pages mouldering away at the back of a drawer. It seemed a shame to waste these potentially good characters. The ideas gradually started to take shape and I decided that Charlotte didn’t have to die (it’s great being an author – bringing people back to life!).

Jay also needed something to stop her falling into a never-ending cycle of despair. She’s left holding the baby, literally. Charlotte gave birth to the child a year before her disappearance. So Jay quits the tennis circuit, trains as a physiotherapist and starts up a physical therapy clinic.

The story restarts twenty-three years after Charlotte’s supposed demise. She is starting to regain her memory and wants to get back to Jay and the baby she left behind. Meanwhile Jay, now fifty years old, is engaged with the wedding to Amanda only a few weeks away. Amanda doesn’t know anything about Charlotte or where Jay spends her weekends – a cottage that belonged to Charlotte on the Norfolk coast.

Plotting this novel was tricky but I’m pleased with the outcome. I could, perhaps, have called it The Return of the Seal Wife (ref: the image on the cover) but the selkie legends don’t have happy endings. I hope readers will enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed resurrecting it and giving the characters new life.

I did a bit more on my writing process for this book in a recent guest blog on Women and Words. In that one I talked about points of view and the decisions I had to make, particularly when it came to writing Charlotte’s POV. The answer to that came as a surprise but I think it worked out well.

So, I hope readers will give Deuce a chance. Apologies to sports fans – there isn’t much tennis action in it. The focus, as usual with my books, is on the relationships between the characters…most of whom are in the older age bracket of 40+.

Happy reading!

Deuce


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


 

Amazons in Britain plus Rexit and Hexit

I enjoyed this book – reading about the warrior women who rode into battle, skilled with bows and arrows, and other weapons.

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But what really excited me was finding out that archaeologists discovered the remains of Amazons (possibly from Sarmatia, part of the ancient Scythian empire) at a Roman cemetery in Cumbria, near Hadrian’s Wall.

The reason for my excitement is that it validates my entirely hypothetical notion that Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes tribe in northern Britain could have had a female warrior lover. (Ref: The Starling Hill Trilogy)

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Sadly, during my time excavating at Vindolanda, near Hadrian’s Wall, the only bones I uncovered were from cows. The Roman legions based there ate a lot of beef!

digging


Rexit and Hexit

I’m trying not to read too much about Brexit although it’s hard to avoid, especially now. But it occurred to me we’ve had two continental splits in the past with different outcomes.

There was Rexit – when the Romans left Britain. The country then descended into 600 years of the ‘Dark Ages’ with tribal warfare breaking out everywhere. Although there is now some archaeological evidence to suggest that it wasn’t all a dark time. Just that we have no written records. And those of us of a romantic bent are happy to believe that King Arthur was a real person and was successful in uniting the tribes.

And then there was Hexit – when Henry VIII gave notice to the Pope that he wasn’t following the church’s rules on divorce anymore. Instead of the country hitting a downward slide…it reasserted itself strongly on the world stage during Queen Elizabeth the First’s reign…particularly with the exploits of Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh.

I can’t possibly predict how this current ‘exit’ will work out. Maybe sometime in the future historians and archaeologists will be able to fathom what actually happened. At the moment it feels like we could be on the brink of another ‘dark age’.


My latest book, Deuce, doesn’t have anything to do with Amazons, Roman Britain, or Brexit. It’s romantic fiction.

Deuce

Positive reviews are always a joy, knowing that your written work has connected with a reader. This reviewer has  encapsulated what I was trying to achieve with this book…describing it much better than I have managed to do in previous blogs.

“The story is so well told. It has love, unexpected family complications, passion and surprises. I could not put it down. I wanted to know what happened next to these characters. They felt real and I began to care about them. They each had to face the fact that time does not stand still and people change. Sometimes that means accepting differences and sometimes it means putting yourself in their shoes. Jen Silver has a talent for crafting characters and storylines that really resonate. She subtly weaves real events into her work and that makes the reader feel more engaged. ‘Deuce’ may be my favourite of her novels so far.”


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


 

Seals, Surrogacy, Second Chances

Three books

Three books

I’ve used these words as a tagline for my latest book, Deuce.

Why? Because I think the title isn’t really too indicative of what the story is about. When someone asks me to describe the plot, I have difficulty putting it into words, in any coherent way.

Seals: This has relevance as Charlotte, one of the main characters, is a marine biologist and her specialist subject was studying the grey seal population in the North Sea. Particularly poignant at a time when they were dying in great numbers from a mysterious disease.

Surrogacy: This word also concerns Charlotte. She gave birth to one child when she was at university and gave her up for adoption…in an arrangement with a lesbian couple.

Second chances: Again, Charlotte…her research vessel was lost at sea and she’s been living on the Faroe Islands with no memory of her life before. The reader meets her in the prologue when she seas a beached seal and her memories start to return. She remembers that she had a lover, Jay, and a new baby…the one they were going to bring up together.

seascape

Jay is an ex professional tennis player. That’s where the deuce analogy comes in. Her life after Charlotte’s ‘death’ has felt like one of those matches where gaining two points to win seems out of reach…continually returning to ‘deuce’…an even score.

Chapter One starts twenty-three years after Charlotte’s disappearance. Jay is engaged to be married. Both children Charlotte left behind are grown up.

In preparation for doing a reading from the book at the now cancelled Diva Literary Festival, I recorded the piece I was planning to read. In this scene, Jay’s fiancée Amanda comes to her house wanting to know about Charlotte and also where Jay spends her weekends.

Does she get the answers she wants? How does Charlotte’s return to ‘life’ affect those she left behind all that time ago?

Read the book to find out.

Deuce


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


 

A question of prologues

Why use a prologue when starting to tell a story? Obviously it’s used mainly so the author can introduce readers to something that happens before the start of the story…maybe some background details, setting up a foreshadowing of future events, a pointer or two.

pointing

One of the hardest things to decide when writing a novel is where to begin. Usually I like to get stuck straight in to the action. Of my eight novels published so far, I’ve only used a prologue twice.

Carved in Stone was the third book of the Starling Hill Trilogy and the beta readers thought a recap was needed as it was released eight months after the second book. But was a prologue strictly necessary? For readers who had read the first two books (and have good memories), it probably seemed like a tedious information dump that they could skip. (I did try to keep it as short as possible.)

In Running From Love, I used the prologue to introduce the two main characters …one who wants a divorce and the other who isn’t happy about it. I thought this was needed to give readers an early insight into the parting couple’s relationship. Then in part one, I take the reader back six months to show why they are getting a divorce. (An author’s prerogative…messing with timelines!)

I didn’t have a prologue in mind when I started writing Deuce (my next novel, due out on 1 February). But the character, Charlotte, only appears in person in the second part of the story and I thought readers might need some clue that this was going to happen…and why. Also Charlotte has a first person point of view, whereas all the other characters with a POV are third person. (Another author’s prerogative…messing with narrative points of view!)

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So, after the book’s release, it will be an anxious wait to see what readers think…not only about the prologue…but also about the shifts from third to first person in the second part of the story.

And then there’s the question of epilogues…a topic for another blog.

Happy reading!


Check out my books page for descriptions and links.

Introducing the seal wife

A statue of Kópakonan—the seal wife— stands on the shore at Mikladalur, a village on the island of Kalsoy. She features in a well-known folktale from the Faroe Islands and like most of the selkie legends it is a romantic tragedy.

This may seem like an unlikely starting point for a contemporary romance. But it fit with several of the threads in my new novel, Deuce, which is being released by Affinity Rainbow Publications on Friday 1 February.

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As with some of my other books, I started writing about the two main characters a long time ago. I enjoyed watching women’s tennis back in the late eighties, early nineties, before all the grunting started. And I had in my mind to write a story about a successful female British tennis player.

Of course, it was total fantasy. And I didn’t think anyone was ever going to read this story, writing purely for my own pleasure. My sexy, butch lesbian tennis player, Jay Reid, won the 1988 Wimbledon Women’s final. (No, she didn’t. I know very well who did win in real life. But it fulfilled my desire to see a British player hit the heights of the tennis world.)

Although Jay’s sexual preferences were fairly obvious, the fact that she had a long-term girlfriend was a well-kept secret. Charlotte, a marine biologist, kept a low profile, while Jay started to make her way up the tennis rankings. When Charlotte disappeared during a research trip surveying the fate of the grey seal population in the North Sea, Jay’s world fell apart.

That was as far as the story went. Bringing it into the present meant finding out what happened. How did Jay handle losing the love of her life? When I started writing the story again, Jay’s wedding to Amanda is only a few weeks away, a child Charley left behind is grown up…and (not a spoiler – as this is mentioned in the blurb and the prologue) Charlotte isn’t dead. She has been living on one of the Faroe Islands, with no memory of her previous life.

Back of the Book description:

When Jay Reid was in her twenties, she had it all. A professional tennis career, Charlotte, the love of her life and a new baby. It ended far too soon when Charlotte’s research vessel, RV Caspian, was lost at sea, leaving Jay to raise their child alone.

But Charlotte was, in fact, the sole survivor of the RV Caspian. Rescued by a local fisherman, with no memory of her life before, she lives on the Faroe Islands as Katrin Nielsen. Seeing a beached seal one day triggers her memory and slowly her other identity comes back to her. She returns to England to try to reclaim her life with Jay and their child.

Twenty-three years is a long time. Is the love they once shared strong enough to be rekindled or have too many years passed eroding all hope of a happy ever after?

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Deuce is my ninth published novel. I’m working on number ten. In the meantime, if you’re still in the mood for a Christmas story, novel number five, Christmas at Winterbourne is still available on Kindle Unlimited until the end of February.

Happy reading!


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

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