Awards and events

First of all, congratulations to all the finalists and winners of the 2018 Golden Crown Literary Society Awards. I wasn’t in Las Vegas for the conference this year but I watched from home – seeing all the posts and photos on social media – and wishing I were there to greet and hug all the wonderful women I’ve met over the previous three years of attending the event.

I gather I also missed a great speech from Dorothy Allison, accepting the Trailblazer Award. I heard her speak at the 2015 GCLS conference in New Orleans and know that she can hold a roomful of women spellbound.

As one of the many contributors, I was thrilled to see this collection of stories win a Goldie Award in the Anthology/Collections (Fiction) category.

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There are two more events on the summer calendar that I will be attending.

The first is right on my doorstep in Hebden Bridge…the third year for the Happy Valley Pride Festival. This is a week long celebration of LGBT+ life and the organisers have outdone previous years with a stunning line-up of performers featuring music, comedy, dance, art…and, I’m pleased to say, writing.

Following the success of last year’s Lesbian Writers Read event, we have six authors taking part…all planning to read from their latest novels and then answer questions from the audience. (Please book early as there is limited space in Squeeze café – as the name implies!)

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The second event, also in August is EllCon – August 23-24. Masterminded by Zara Wood and her enthusiastic team, this brings together over thirty authors from the UK and Europe…and, we hope, lots of readers.

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The last time I visited Bristol was over thirty years ago and I don’t remember much about it. I’m sure it has changed a lot. As well as looking forward to attending the conference, I’m also keen to see a few of the sculptures on the Gromit Unleashed 2 trail. My objective is to have my photo taken with a life-size sculpture of Feathers McGraw.


Looking for a summer read, then please take a look at my latest book, Calling Home.

Calling Home

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


 

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.


 

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.

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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


 

Diva Literary Festival 2017

I don’t think the UK has ever seen anything quite like it. So many authors of lesbian fiction in one place!

Team Diva put on quite a show. The Awards night itself was exciting with Heather Peace handing out trophies and a rousing performance by Horse McDonald before the disco to end the evening. I felt honoured to be there with so many talented authors and it was a thrill to see my book, Running From Love, listed for the Romance award category. (Congratulations to the winner, Kiki Archer, and runner-up, Harper Bliss. I was sitting next to Harper at the table, so was able to share in the joy of the moment as she received her trophy.)

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Then we had two days of interviews, discussion panels, and readings…plus a rich variety of entertainment for the Saturday Night Salon. I had a book-signing slot on Sunday morning and fully expected to spend twenty minutes sitting on my own. But I was rescued by Jane who had seen me read at the Happy Valley Pride Festival in August.

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I took part in a reading session with Wendy Hudson and A L Brooks. Even though it was on Sunday afternoon, we still had a good audience who stayed awake and asked questions afterwards.

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One of the highlights of the weekend was meeting Jody Klaire and her lovely dog, Fergus (or Ferb, as he’s known to his legion of fans). Jody was providing information on the GCLS Writing Academy. The crowd around their table may also have been due to the treats provided by Jody’s partner, Emma – delicious homemade cheesecake one day, Welsh biscuits and strawberries the next.

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Jody and Ferb

Meeting and chatting with so many authors and readers was a great way to spend the weekend. Team Diva promised to do it again next year – I’m already looking forward to it, along with many others who were there.

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Before the Awards dinner with Caroline Manchoulas, Clare Lydon and Harper Bliss

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During the Awards dinner with Harper, Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows


It’s been an exciting start to November as my latest novel, Changing Perspectives, came out on 1st November. And on the 6th November, T B Markinson gave me a guest spot on her website, iheartlesfic, to tell you a bit about the origins of the story. Please check it out as there’s also the chance to enter for a book giveaway.


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Buying 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

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


 

Ironing…what ironing?

A week ago I was in Chicago at the GCLS Conference knowing that there were only two more days to go. Looking back, seeing various posts on social media, I’m sadly aware of all the people I didn’t meet. Where did the time go? Not nearly enough time to talk to everyone.

Once the conference starts on Wednesday afternoon the time just flies by. I took part in two readings and a panel, went to some other readings and panels – and spent any available time at the Affinity Rainbow Publications vendor table, selling books and talking to anyone who stopped by. 

I did manage to venture out of the hotel on the Tuesday before the conference started. The main aim of the trip was to visit the American Writers Museum. And it was fascinating – very modern with innovative and interactive displays, but I couldn’t resist a nostalgic trip down memory lane, sitting at one of the old typewriters, listening to the sound of the keys hitting the paper.

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American Writers Museum

Thanks to Michelle Pond for being my guide to downtown Chicago. It was lovely to just walk along the ‘magnificent mile’ taking in the architecture and landscaping of the city. So much to see and, as with the conference, not nearly enough time to absorb it all.

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Downtown Chicago

I’ve attended two other GCLS conferences and sharing time with my Affinity sisters is always a joy. We have a lot of fun together. Our publisher supplied us with a denim shirt each to showcase the new logo. The shirts drew a lot of positive comments and we could have sold some if they had been available.

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From left to right: Angela Koenig, Renee MacKenzie, Annette Mori, Ali Spooner, and Jen Silver

We talked to everyone who stopped by our vendor table even if they didn’t want to buy books. And to those who did, a heartfelt ‘thank you’! I was especially pleased that my latest book, Running From Love, sold out.

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I read an excerpt from Chapter One in the Author Spotlight session on Friday morning:

The cupboard was bare, as was the fridge. Sam took out the lone bottle of Corona and popped the cap. Not even a lemon or lime lurking anywhere. She took a sip and wondered what she was missing. When she spoke to Beth the night before, giving her the flight arrival time, her wife had sounded a bit distant, but nothing that couldn’t be put down to Beth being tired after a full day’s teaching.

This wasn’t quite the homecoming Sam had anticipated. Maybe Beth was bringing home a takeaway. Sam sank into the recliner in the living room and kicked off her shoes. She closed her eyes.

The sound of a car door closing jerked her awake. She had been on the verge of dropping into a deep sleep.

Sam stood and stretched. She hoped Beth had picked up something tasty. The snack she’d had on the plane had been hours ago and her stomach was rumbling. Beth came into the room, still wearing her coat. She looked drained. It must have been a particularly bad class today. Sam smiled and moved towards her. “Hey, it’s good to be home. But I hope you’ve brought some food. I’m starving.”

“Sorry. I haven’t…”

“Okay. We can go out. The Thai won’t be too busy on a Thursday.”

Beth held up her hands to stop Sam embracing her. “I need to talk to you.”

“Sure, okay. Where’s Hermy, anyway?”

“Where she always is when you’re away for more than two days.”

“Oh, pigging it out at Barb’s, I suppose.” “No. She’s in a cattery.”
“What?”
“It’s very nice. She likes it there.”

“No way! She’ll be screaming the place down. How could you?” Sam stared at Beth. It was like looking at a stranger, not the woman she’d shared the last fourteen years with.

“Sam, sit down, please. There’s something I have to tell you.” “Something worse than abandoning our baby in a cattery?” “Um, well, yes. I’m leaving.”
“L…leaving?”

“Well, I’ve left, actually. I didn’t want to just leave you a note.”

Sam sat down again. Beth perched on the edge of the sofa.

“Why?” Feeling like she was trapped in a nightmare, Sam’s heart was pounding wildly.

‘I’ve met someone.”

“I see. And how long has this been going on?”

“Six months.”

Tears threatened. Sam could feel the prickling behind her eyes. It made sense now. The extra hours at work, going in on Saturdays sometimes, preparation for inspections, workshops on lesson planning.

Beth started to speak again. “It just sort of happened. You’ve been away so much recently.”

“After all the time we’ve been together, this just started to bother you?” Sam sniffed, determined not to cry. “Fourteen years. And those vows you made less than two years ago? Those meant nothing to you? Because I meant every word.” Her anger was building now.

“I’m sorry. I can’t explain it.”

“And who is she? This wife stealer?”

Beth looked away and said softly, “Lydia.”

“Lydia,” Sam repeated. “Lydia. Carmichael.”
“Yes.”
“So, you’re fucking the head teacher. Good move. Guess you’ll get that head of department job after all.”

“Sam, I…”

“Oh, don’t! I can’t bear to hear any more. Just get out!”

Beth pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket. “This is where Hermy is. I’ve paid the bill. They’ll be open tomorrow at nine.”

Sam closed her eyes, not wanting to watch the love of her life walk out on her. “Leave your keys.”

She slumped back into the cushions on the sofa. Heard the keys drop onto the table, waited for the footsteps to recede, the front door to close, and the car to drive off…then the tears came.

When she opened her eyes again, the room was dark. She groped around for the lamp’s switch. The circle of light reached across to the table in front of her. Beth’s keys lay on top of the cattery invoice. And next to them a ring; the twin of the one on her finger. The ring they had chosen together. The ring engraved with “Forever yours, Beth and Sam, 1 April 2014”.

April Fools’ Day. They had joked about it at the time but figured it was a date they would always be able to remember.

So the GCLS Conference is over and it’s back to the real world. Plenty to occupy me here at home…but I think I can ignore that pile of ironing for another day or two.


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Buying Links:

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


 

GCLS 2017

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

(from The Walrus and The Carpenter in Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, 1972)

I’m sure over the next week many things will be talked about at the GCLS Conference in Chicago—possibly not any of the above.

Once upon a time I memorised all the verses of The Walrus and The Carpenter, as well as The Hunting of the Snark. That’s the kind of thing some of us did in the days before our time was taken up playing online games and checking social media alerts.

Anyway, I’m not planning on reciting what little I can remember from either of those two excellent works by Lewis Carroll.

However my schedule does include the following:

Tuesday evening: unpacking boxes with a team of volunteers

Wednesday morning:  laying claim to Affinity Rainbow Publications vendor table and generally helping out where I can

Wednesday afternoon: taking part in the Open Mic session where I plan to read from my short story, Con Virgin Convert – which is one of the stories included in the Conference Call anthology edited by Ann Roberts, which will be on sale at the conference – and can now be pre-ordered from Bella Books (available shortly after the conference ends).

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Thursday morning: early doors – 8:30 panel session – Across the Genres, Why I Write What I Write. Our moderator is MJ Lowe and the other panellists are Erica Abbott, Donna K Ford, Catherine Friend, and Bonnie James.

Friday morning: 9:50 Author Spotlight with moderator, Suzie Carr. The other readers are Ann Aptaker, Stefani Deoul, Cheryl A Head, Micheala Lynn, Michelle Reynolds, Kenna White, and Barbara Ann Wright. I will be reading from my latest novel, Running From Love.

Then there is the author signing session, also on Friday from 5:30 to 6:30.

So, it’s looking pretty busy. In between times, I will either be at the Affinity vendor table, or attending other sessions. Then there’s all the excitement surrounding the Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening.

Please do drop by the Affinity table, always good fun and this year Annette Mori, Renee MacKenzie, Ali Spooner and myself are joined by Affinity author and editor, Angela Koenig.

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Darla made us do it!

Sunday will roll around all too soon and I will be saying goodbye to old friends and new.


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Buying Links:

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / 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 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


 

Summer of love…GCLS and Happy Valley Pride

June is proving to be a busy month.

GCLS 2017

I’m getting geared up for my next adventure—attending the Golden Crown Literary Society conference in Chicago. This will be my third time at the conference. The first two—New Orleans in 2015 and Washington DC in 2016— were pretty amazing. How could they not be – with so many lesbians in one place!

I expect this one will be just as exciting…a chance to meet up with old friends and new. If you’re at the conference this year, please stop by the Affinity Rainbow Publications table. We’re a friendly bunch and always happy to talk with anyone who comes along—you don’t have to buy a book (really!!). The Affinity authors hanging out there with me this year are Ali Spooner, Annette Mori, Renee MacKenzie and Angela Koenig.

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Two illustrious visitors who stopped by our table last year!

Amidst the serious business of readings, workshops, keynote speeches, book signings, and awards, there’s always time for fun and laughter…and hugs if Beth Burnett is anywhere in the vicinity. As she can tell you, I was a bit hug-averse at my first conference. But at the end of three and a half days, Beth told me my hug-ability had improved 110%. Not bad for a reserved Brit.

This year I’m on a panel moderated by MJ Lowe, entitled: Across the Genres: why I write what I write. My fellow panelists are Erica Abbott, Donna K Ford, Catherine Friend, and Bonnie James. We’re scheduled for the first session at 8:30 on Thursday, 6 July…so, set your alarms and bring coffee!

The Author Spotlight groupings have just been released and the group I’m with has the 10:10 slot on Friday. It’s going to be amazing…Suzie Carr is moderating and it’s an enticing line-up…Ann Aptaker, Stefani Deoul, Cheryl A Head, Micheala Lynn, Michelle Reynolds, Kenna White, and Barbara Ann Wright. I’ve started practicing reading, as I don’t want to mess up in front of anyone here, plus I know how strict they are with the five-minute timings for each reader.

Happy Valley Pride Festival

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Then just one month after I get back home from Chicago, it’s time for the second annual Happy Valley Pride Festival in my own backyard, Hebden Bridge. This is a whole week of LGBT fun. And this year we have a special event titled “Lesbian Writers Read” sponsored by Affinity Rainbow Publications.

Rainbow logo

I didn’t have to twist their arms very hard…absolutely thrilled that these four UK authors will be joining me to read from their books…Lise Gold, Cari Hunter, Robyn Nyx, and Brey Willows…on Tuesday, 8 August from 7 to 9pm at the Ribbon Circus. Check out the Happy Valley Pride website which will have regular updates between now and the start of the Festival to let everyone know about all the great events happening during the week.

New book release

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And finally, I guess I should mention that my latest novel was released last week. Running From Love was certainly a labour of love, as I managed to combine writing about two of my favourite things…romance and golf. Sure to be a winning combination! You can read the first chapter on the Affinity website.


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Buying Links:

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / 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 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

Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US


 

GCLS firsts

In just over a week’s time I will be setting off to the GCLS Conference, held in Washington DC this year.

Last year, I attended the conference in New Orleans. I was a ‘Con Virgin’ at that event—so I can now say I lost my virginity in NOLA.

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Last year’s ‘Con Virgin’

GCLS 2015 saw many ‘firsts’ for me…first public reading, first signing of my books in public, first panel discussions, first time in New Orleans (and, of course, first hugs from Beth Burnett).

I expect I will feel just as nervous when it comes to doing the reading in the Author Spotlight session this year. I can only hope I remember to breath this time and don’t lose my voice part way through.

This year, sees another first—being asked to be a presenter at the Awards Ceremony. That sounds like fun as well as a tremendous honour. (Note to self: don’t trip on the way up to the podium)

My conference timetable:

Tuesday evening: check out the Affinity table in the Vendor Room

Wednesday morning: meet up with Affinity authors to set up the table with a wonderful array of books, t-shirts, bookmarks and other promo items.

Wednesday afternoon: Author Spotlight from 2:00 to 3:00, reading from The Circle Dance

Thursday evening: Helping to host the Affinity authors’ dinner

Friday afternoon: Author signing session

Saturday morning: Taking part in The Politics of Poetry Panel from 9:40 to 10:30

Saturday afternoon: Dry run for Awards Presenters from 3:30 to 3:45

Saturday evening: Attending the Awards Ceremony and probably avoiding dancing if at all possible.

I don’t know if it’s a first for my publisher, Affinity eBooks, but they have four finalists in this year’s award categories – listed here in no particular order:

Requiem for Vukovar by Angela Koenig in Dramatic/General Fiction

The Presence by Charlene Neil in Paranormal/Horror

Locked Inside by Annette Mori in Traditional Contemporary Romance

Locked Inside cover by Nancy Kaufman for the Tee Corinne Outstanding Cover Design Award

Keeping everything crossed for all our finalists – and congratulations whatever the outcome as there’s a lot of talent on show here.

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Aiming for ‘Affinity and beyond’ – with Annette Mori and Ali Spooner (sorry, no pic of Renee MacKenzie again – she wasn’t hiding – just seated at the other end of the table)

In between times I can likely be found at the Affinity Vendor table. Please stop by, even if you don’t want to buy any books. We’re a friendly bunch and love talking to people. As I think I’ve mentioned before, Affinity is being represented this year by Ali Spooner, Annette Mori, Renee MacKenzie and myself.

I also plan to take in a few other conference sessions when I can as well as trying to fit in some sightseeing, so these few days are going to pass very quickly, I feel. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone I met last year, plus others I didn’t. I’m not looking forward to Sunday when it’s time to say goodbye again.

The last item on my itinerary is for Sunday afternoon and beyond when the post-conference withdrawal symptoms start to surface. The best way to banish these feelings is to start planning to attend the 2017 conference in Chicago.


Another first closer to home is seeing my books on the ‘Books to buy’ shelf of one of the local cafés. The paperbacks are also available in the Book Case, the independent book store in Hebden Bridge.

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Lots of older lesfic books available at The Mooch Café in Hebden Bridge – and some newer Jen Silver books!

 

Also last week, not a first, but my second Book Clip appeared on The Lesbian Talk Show podcast site – a reading from the first book in The Starling Hill Trilogy, Starting Over. (All the LTS podcasts are available on Podbean, iTunes and Stitcher – and well worth a listen.)


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The Jen Silver Collection

Where to buy:

The Circle Dance: Affinity 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

GCLS in Washington DC

Counting the days…has it really been almost a year since last year’s GCLS Conference in New Orleans?

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GCLS 2015 – Author signing

I feel the time is passing quickly and July 6 will be upon us very shortly. Especially now that I’ve checked the schedules and discovered that I’m on the very first Author Spotlight session on the Wednesday afternoon. So after you’ve registered, caught up with friends and met new ones, you’ll be able to listen to me and three other authors reading from our books. I’m thrilled to be in the same session with Jane DiLucchio, MB Panichi, and Chris Parsons. I think it’s quite an eclectic mix of writing styles. And Catherine Maiorisi has the moderator’s job of keeping us in line.

On the Saturday morning, I’m taking part in The Politics of Poetry panel. When my friend and moderator for this panel, E M Hodge, asked if I would be willing to participate, I was rather hesitant. I’m not a poet and I there’s not anything I know about politics that I would like to share in a public forum. But now the full line up has been revealed, I can relax. Jewelle Gomez is on this panel. Jewelle Gomez! I think the rest of us should just sit back and let her do the talking. Who wants to hear what I might have to say about the politics of poetry when you can listen to Jewelle Gomez?

I thought nothing could top last year’s GCLS with the abundance of lesbian icons in attendance…Dorothy Allison, Lee Lynch, Rita Mae Brown, J M Redmann. But the GCLS conference organisers have done it again. If anyone’s not sure about the value of attending a GCLS conference, just take a look at the line up. As well as the aforementioned Jewelle, there are authors I’ve admired from afar for many years…Katherine V Forrest, Karin Kallmaker, Lee Lynch, Radclyffe, Georgia Beers, Fay Jacobs…to name a few.

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Annette Mori, Jen Silver and Ali Spooner with C.d. Cain – who we had obviously coerced into buying our books, but she’s still smiling!

In the not-so-famous corner, Ali Spooner, Annette Mori, Renee MacKenzie, and myself are representing Affinity eBooks at the conference this year. Please come along and talk to us at the Affinity book table. We will have some super swag to give away…plus an awesome range of books for you to buy. (Apologies – no photo of Renee here – she was probably wrestling with an alligator somewhere.)

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The Jen Silver collection


Where to buy my books:

The Circle Dance: Affinity 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 / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

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

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

A Dedication

As a reader I never used to pay much attention to dedications in books. It was likely to be the author’s wife, husband, children…maybe just a name, maybe a few words of appreciation.

Now, that I’m seeing my work in print, I do give these more consideration. With my first three published novels, I followed the usual pattern…Book 1, my wife, Book 2, my mother, Book 3, my best friend. Book 4, however, was different. It’s dedicated to a cat. I haven’t run out of close relatives or friends but there is a reason for this departure from the norm.

The Circle Dance is a lesbian romance but there is one very important male character, Stevie. He’s a black cat and very much loved by the couple he owns, Jamie and Sasha. However, when they split up, Sasha gets everything…new girlfriend, new house, and Stevie. Jamie has nothing and is attempting to rebuild her life in a different town living in rented accommodation, low-paid job, riding a bicycle to work (Sasha took the car as well).

As one of the other characters notes, Jamie would probably have coped better with the whole breakup trauma if she’d been able to keep Stevie. (SPOILER ALERT: Jamie and Stevie are reunited during the story.)

Anyway, back to the story behind the dedication for this book. I was standing in line at the GCLS 2015 conference waiting for the registration desk to open and someone said “Hello”. When I turned around I was face to face with Sandra Moran. I’d never met her before, only via Facebook, but there she was… the tallness, the hair, the smile…in person. Amazingly, she recognised me as well. After exchanging comments about the weather (she must have had some British genes), I offered my condolences for her cat Spencer who had died only a few weeks earlier. She was quite moved that a virtual stranger would have remembered Spencer but, like many other people, I was a “friend” of Spencer’s on Facebook and enjoyed the banter Sandra created between them.

What came out of my mouth next was a surprise to me as I hadn’t planned to say it. I told her that my latest novel, due to be published in early 2016, featured a black cat and that Spencer had been the inspiration for him. I went on to say that if she didn’t mind I would like to dedicate the book to Spencer.

Now, I’d only just met this woman and already caused emotional upset. Luckily, in a good way. Not only was she delighted with this idea, but she offered to let me use one of Spencer’s poems in the dedication.

When I talked to my publisher about this, they said that was fine as long as I obtained Sandra’s written permission to use the poem.

To make a long story longer, when I got back from New Orleans, I emailed Sandra to check she was still okay with this idea. She replied right away and sent me three poems so I could choose the one that I thought most suitable.

During our email correspondence I mentioned that the couple in the story had named their cat after Stevie Nicks, thinking he was female when they picked him up from the cat rescue place. She then told me that the same thing had happened with Spencer who spent the first month of his life with them being called Annie. (Another amazing connection – one of the characters in the book is called Annie.)

Anyway, I selected a poem and she duly sent me permission to “reprint Spencer’s truly awful poetry”.

This exchange of emails was in August 2015. Neither of us knew then that Sandra’s life would come to an abrupt end just over two months later. Whatever fates led me to that moment in New Orleans, I’m grateful that I had the chance to make that connection with Sandra, albeit briefly. The dedication in the book is as much for her as for Spencer. (And also for black cats everywhere.)

In doing some research for another book I read that in Norse mythology, Asgard, the home of the gods, is accessed by crossing the rainbow bridge. I like to think that both Sandra and Spencer made that crossing and are enjoying each other’s company again. Sandra will have introduced Thor and all the gods and goddesses to the art of moraning and Spencer will be free to continue writing “truly awful poetry”.


Note: My wife and I don’t have any pets as we’re both highly allergic. However, we have at times enjoyed the company of cats who have visited. As Sandra demonstrated with her photos of Spencer, black cats are quite difficult to photograph well. When we lived in London our neighbour’s cat, Sooty, was a regular visitor and I delved into our old photo albums to find these only two pictures we have of him.

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Sooty in the garden

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Sooty on the window ledge


Book links for The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks/Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Ebook links for The Starling Hill Trilogy (still available on Kindle Unlimited):

Starting Over: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Arc Over Time: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Carved in Stone: Amazon US / Amazon UK