Lesbian Writers Read…in Hebden Bridge

Happy Valley Pride is over for this year…and what a fantastic week it was. Congratulations to the trustees and volunteers who worked hard to make it all happen.

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With the success of the previous year’s Lesbian Writers Read event, the planning committee was keen to include it in this year’s programme as well. So I was thrilled to be asked to host another group of authors.

We were able to get a slightly larger, and accessible, venue this time…Squeeze cafe. The tickets sold out and it was standing room only by the time everyone ‘squeezed’ in. We had to turn off the fans for the readings, but the upsurge in heat caused the ice cream machine to start working overtime to keep the contents frozen.

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Pictured from left to right: Deborah Delano, Lise Gold, Velvet Lounger, Helen Baron, Mayor Carol Stowe, Jen Silver, Cari Hunter, Jody Klaire, and Ferb

The mayor of Hebden Royd, Carol Stowe, came along for the first part of the evening before she had to fulfil her other festival obligation by attending the art exhibition and auction across the street at Nelson’s Wine Bar. When I met her at another event a few days later, she told me she had enjoyed the readings, hearing the different styles of each author…and (don’t tell the artists) would have liked to stay for the Q&A session.

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The featured books

Cari Hunter drew the short straw, literally, and read first. As she read from the opening scenes of her latest thriller, Alias, she had the audience drawn in to the story from the start. I’m sure they would have liked her to carry on, but she stuck to her five-minute time limit.

 

Our mystery guest reader for the evening was well known lesbian book reviewer, Velvet Lounger. There is quite a story behind the gathering together of a collection of stories published as The Velvet Anthology. She explained it very well before reading from the contribution by Erica Abbott, ‘Seize Her Salad’. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the Golden Crown Literary Society Readers scholarship fund. Velvet’s book reviews can be found at the Lesbian Reading Room website.

I read from my latest novel, Calling Home…interrupted a few times by some latecomers and the need to raise my voice over the ice cream machine’s complaints about the heat. With the second interruption, I continued by saying loudly, ‘The toilets were at the other end of the room…’ – this wasn’t a health and safety announcement, it was part of the reading.

We then heard from another local author, Deborah Delano. Her latest book, The Portrait of Adie Denton, is a historical novel set in the 1920’s…but is also a love story…described on the cover as “a moving yarn of a working class girl mixed up in the glittering, but dangerous, bohemian world of the Parisian Demi-monde”.

Staying in France, Lise Gold read from her newest romance, French Summer. Lise spent a good part of this year in France, purely for research, of course. The setting and the romance that develops between the two main characters certainly resonate with authenticity…the sensual atmosphere of warm days in Provence, although the piece she read involved one of the main characters throwing herself into a ditch. An avoidance tactic with painful consequences.

Last to read was Jody Klaire. I was so impressed that Jody and Em travelled up from South Wales in a motorhome to join us for this event. Their golden retriever, Ferb, charmed everyone and had the audience captivated with his attempts to catch a fly while the reading was going on. Jody read from her newest book, which is due out in a few weeks, In Fashion. This is a romance set in the fashion world and from the excerpt she read, it features Jody’s delightful brand of humour.

(Ferb caught the fly.)

Another distinguished visitor in the audience was Zara Wood (our host next week at ELLCon), who had travelled from Bristol with her visitor from Brussels, Gerd Van Loock (stopping by as part of a Yorkshire sightseeing tour). Zara recorded some of the readings and the Q&A session that took place after the break. They are available to view on the ELLCon YouTube channel.

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The Q&A session: Jen Silver, Cari Hunter, Jody Klaire, and Ferb

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The Q&A session: Deborah Delano, Lise Gold, and Velvet Lounger

The whole evening was lovely…it was like reading to a group of friends. The Happy Valley Pride team led by Helen Baron did a great job of setting up the room, serving the refreshments (which included Welsh cakes from Em and Jody, and tiffin from Cari), and welcoming the audience. (Nothing they could do about the ice cream machine though…have I mentioned this before?)

And once again the authors provided a great mix of stories, giving voice I thought, to our Happy Valley Pride motto: Be Here, Be You, Be Proud.

During a stroll around Hebden Bridge earlier in the day, we stopped by one of the many window displays. One of the most delightful aspects of Happy Valley Pride is the way the community and local businesses show their support with window displays, contributions to the raffle prizes…and just overall enthusiasm for the event. Long may it continue.

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With Jody and Ferb outside Noir


ELLCon

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So, I just have time to catch my breath before the next book-related event of the summer – ELLCon. A great deal of planning has also gone into setting this up. Congratulations to Zara Wood and her team for bringing it all together…the first ever European Lesfic Literary Conference.

With over thirty authors attending, plus delegates from all parts of the country and Europe, it’s shaping up to be a magnificent couple of days. Check out the list of authors attending and the programme here.

As well as sharing a vendor table with another Affinity Rainbow Publications author, Samantha Hicks, I will be taking part in a panel discussion on the first day. The topic is ‘When Writing Feels Like a Marathon: how to get over the finish line”. May Dawney is our fearless moderator with the task of keeping four of us on topic…Harper Bliss, Jane Fletcher, Nita Round, and myself. Should be fun!

I’m also looking forward to finding a few of the Gromit Unleashed statues and Zara kindly presented me with a brochure so I can find the ones nearest to the conference hotel.

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So many books to explore! Enjoy all your summer reads.


 

It’s almost here…!

…Happy Valley Pride Festival 2018!

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This year’s programme is packed with lots of fantastic events…art, music, comedy, films, workshops, all leading up to Saturday’s Big Day Out and Sunday’s Pink Picnic…check it out here (and book your tickets – some events have already sold out).

For the second year running, I’m thrilled to be hosting the Lesbian Writers Read event…looking forward to welcoming back Lise Gold and Cari Hunter, and new on the programme this year, Jody Klaire, Lola Keeley, and Deborah Delano.

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The Happy Valley Pride Festival aims to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer life in Calderdale while also engaging the community in all the activities. As well as supporting the event through providing venues and safe spaces, some shops and businesses in the town also commemorate the week with rainbow-themed window displays.

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I’m also looking forward to wearing this year’s festival t-shirt with it’s very bold-looking design.

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If you’re anywhere in the area next week, please come along and enjoy the festivities.


Calling Home

Complement your summer reading by picking up my latest novel, Calling Home. Romance with a tantalising mystery mixed in:

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.

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


 

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.


 

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.

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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.

Portrait woman

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.

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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


 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


 

A Literary Salon

I think ‘salon’ is the right word to describe our Happy Valley Pride Festival reading event. Entitled ‘Lesbian Writers Read’, it was held in our local haberdashery in Hebden Bridge on Tuesday evening—in a delightfully intimate setting, surrounded by displays of coloured wools on the walls, ribbons hanging from a wall at the back, and filled with whatever the collective noun is for a group of lesbians.

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Settling my nerves

And so I was reminded of the salons of an earlier century when like-minded people would gather in drawing rooms to discuss books, art, politics…or simply to enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed atmosphere.

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As the instigator of this event, I wasn’t very relaxed but it was ‘all right on the night’, as our host, Helen Baron, proprietor of the venue kept telling me. Four months earlier when I first sat down with her in Ribbon Circus to discuss the possibility of holding this event there, I was extremely nervous. Would any other authors want to come to our little town to read? Would anyone want to come and listen to us read?

My fears were needless, and Helen was right. Everything came together. Four other published authors were keen to come along and take part even though it meant travelling from afar – Nottingham and the Peak District. Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows were led astray by their sat-nav, ending up behind a herd of cows at one point. And they still managed to arrive in time.

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As soon as the ticketing system went live on the Happy Valley Pride website, places were snapped up at a speed I couldn’t have imagined. Within days, the venue was fully booked.

The authors all did a fantastic job, both in reading and answering questions afterwards. It was Lise Gold’s first public appearance and if she was nervous reading from her second, recently released romance, Beyond the Skyline – it didn’t show. Cari Hunter was planning to edit out some of the swear words in her selected excerpt from the third book in her Dark Peak series, A Quiet Death – but after Helen’s robust introduction to the evening, she muttered, “I’m leaving the ‘fucks’ in.”

buyer

Brey Willows read from her book, Fury’s Bridge, the first in a series and left us wanting more by ending on a cliffhanger. Robyn Nyx’s reading from the first book in her Extractor Series, Escape in Time, took on an even darker hue leading us into the past in Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

My reading was from my most recently published book, Running From Love. My wife asked me beforehand which bit I had selected. When I told her, she said, “Oh yes, the fridge and the cat.” Not quite how I would summarise that part. If you want to make your own mind up as to how it should be described – here’s a link to the podcast version.

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So a massive thank you to everyone who turned out on a wet evening and helped make this event a success. Plans for next year will be underway soon. And if a year is too long to wait, we might be persuaded to hold another Literary Salon before then.

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The event was free – but Helen told them no one was leaving before making a donation to Happy Valley Pride!

Also, many thanks to my publisher who provided sponsorship for the event – Affinity Rainbow publications. (If you’re wondering about the logo image – it’s a kiwi.)


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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


 

Lesbian Writers Read

The Happy Valley Pride Festival committee chose the name Lesbian Writers Read as they wanted something snappier to put in the programme than my offering of ‘Reading Event’.

When I was interviewed on Hebden Radio by Bev McGregor (host of the regular Tuesday evening LGBeaTs show) she asked why it wasn’t just ‘Writers Read’. Why did we need to announce that the writers are lesbians? I didn’t have a particularly snappy answer to her question at the time. But I think the aim of the Festival organisers was to give us lesbians more visibility during the event than we had last year. This is only the second year of the week long festival taking place in Hebden Bridge from 7 to 13 August, so I’m just glad we have a ‘reading event’ this time…and that it’s a group of lesbians leading the way.

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On the radio with Bev

Bev’s question reminded me though of the fact we do need that visibility. Mainstream bookshops, for example, have erased their gay and lesbian sections. I asked a member of staff in a Waterstones bookshop if they had such a section and was directed to ‘Gender Studies’.

If you’re a well-known author, then having your book placed in the general fiction section is no doubt considered a major achievement. But for those of us struggling to make a name, it’s like we don’t exist. And for anyone wanting to browse through the shelves to find new LGBT writers, they’re going to have to visit one of the few remaining specialist bookshops like Gay’s the Word in London.

Anyway, that aside, I’m very much looking forward to our Lesbian Writers Read evening. A few months ago I didn’t think this was possible…to be able to put on something like this in our small town. But it is happening…on 8 August from 7pm at Ribbon Circus, 18 Market Street, Hebden Bridge.

I’m thrilled with the lineup of authors who are willingly donating their time to come along and read, talk about their writing, and sign books (that’s right – we will all have books available on the night). I would like to thank them in advance because I know they will do a great job…Lise Gold, Cari Hunter, Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows.

Thanks to Helen Baron for offering her shop premises as a venue (as well as calming my nerves as the event looms ever closer). And a heartfelt thank you to my publisher, Affinity Rainbow Publications, for sponsoring the event.

Lesbian writers read – and lesbian writers will keep on writing as long as readers, lesbian or otherwise, keep on reading.

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The festival week is packed with a wide variety of performances featuring art, music, dance, comedy, films, speakers, workshops…leading up to a full day of brilliant entertainment on Saturday and the Pink Picnic (including the Pink Pooch Parade) on Sunday. So come along if you can, and enjoy the fun.

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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