Coming soon

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

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

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

CL-Final

Back of the book description

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

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

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

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


New Audio Book

StartingOver

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

Back of the book description

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

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

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

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

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

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


Changing Perspectives, narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent – available to download from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook

Christmas by the Lake

Is it January already? Time for another blog. A dreary January day seems ideal for a reflection on the wonderful time we had over Christmas. We’ve spent a few Christmases at Lake Windermere. This year was lovely, as it always is, regardless of the weather. Christmas Eve and Boxing Day were both wet days, but Christmas Day the sun came out.

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This was a contrast to the same place ten years earlier when we made snowbears by the lakeside.

snowbears


Clare Lydon invited lesbian fiction authors to take part in a Festive Lesbian Book Club Podcast. I was happy to answer her questions and this was the result with myself, Jae, Clare Ashton, Melissa Tereze, Lise Gold, Jody Klaire and SR Silcox answering the following questions: First, favourite lesfic of the year. Second, favourite festive lesfic ever. Third, what we’re hoping for from Santa. Fourth, what we like to eat & drink at Christmas. Finally, our publishing plans for 2020. Clare also added her own answers to the questions.


Happy Thanksgiving

Thank you to everyone who took advantage of Affinity’s December sale and bought copies of Christmas at Winterbourne, as well as the other books on sale during the month. Always worth checking out the Affinity Raingbow Publications website for free books and special offers. Subscribers to their newsletter can also benefit from the monthly flash sales.


2020 is starting out slowly for me. But it will be picking up speed in the next few weeks. I’ll be doing edits for my book due out in March – Country Living. Nicola Victoria Vincent has started recording Starting Over which will be the second one of my books to make it into audio. And I’m working on a new novel!

So let’s get on with more happy writing, reading, and listening this year!


Changing Perspectives, narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent – available to download from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook

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

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Starting Over is 5 today!

Five years ago today my debut novel, Starting Over, was published by Affinity Rainbow Publications.

flowers

A lovely bunch of flowers from my mother to celebrate the occasion (and champagne from my wife).

Here’s an excerpt from a blog posted in January 2015:

When the book came out in paperback I gave a copy to a friend, a former English teacher. Weeks passed and she didn’t mention it, and I was afraid to ask. Then just before Christmas my partner and I were enjoying a glass of mulled wine in a local café and my friend’s husband came in. After ordering their drinks he sat down at a table nearby. Looking over, he recognised me, and to my surprise said, “Oh, I’ve read your book. Really enjoyed it. But it was a bit steamy.”

I really didn’t think there were any major ‘steamy’ scenes in it. No shower scenes, anyway. But then my brother, who was reading the book while visiting my mother at Christmas, kept saying things like: “Oh my god, they’re doing it in the kitchen.”

Neither of these men could be considered part of my target audience and had no previous experience of reading lesbian fiction. So even the mildest contact between two women might be considered ‘steamy’ and my brother clearly thought nothing other than cooking could possibly take place in the kitchen.

bookshop

Another first – seeing my book on the shelf of our local bookshop, The Book Case in Hebden Bridge.

The first reviews from experienced lesfic readers were very much on the positive side, so I was greatly encouraged to continue with this writing adventure.

Two of the early reviews for Starting Over:

Rainbow Book Reviews

Wilde Times Tavern

I’d already completed a sequel and Affinity accepted it, somewhat reluctantly, with the proviso that sequels didn’t often do well. But that didn’t stop me from writing a third book to complete the trilogy. Sales of Arc Over Time and Carved in Stone were pretty dire – so I can only conclude that – a) my publisher was right, and b) readers weren’t as invested in the characters from Starting Over as I was.

I recently reread all three books for the first time since they were published. And, you know what, I really enjoyed them. (What a great bunch of characters!) It also helped me make the decision on which of my books should next get the audio treatment. It will be Starting Over and Nicola Victoria Vincent has agreed to do the narration.

Book signing

Signing the first paperback copies.

So, if you’re looking for a not too steamy romance with archaeology and a bit of Romano-British history thrown in, why not take a look at Starting Over.


The Starling Hill Trilogy

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


 

Six months later…the Epilogue

The question of whether or not readers want an epilogue came up in one of the panels at the BSB festival in Nottingham. It seems some do and some don’t. All my books, bar one, have epilogues. (The exception is Running From Love)

While I seem to be keen on writing epilogues, one thing I don’t do is write ‘The End’. I suppose this is because although I’ve reached the end of writing that particular story, unless all the characters have died, it’s not really the end. After all, a lot of fan fiction is born out of readers wanting to carry the stories on, giving their favourite characters extended lives.

When I finished my first book, Starting Over, and it was accepted for publication, I had no idea that it would be book one of a trilogy. But when I began thinking about what I would write next, several of the characters just seemed to keep interrupting my thoughts and wanted their stories expanded.

So, why write an epilogue? Why not just a final chapter? When I submitted Changing Perspectives to my publisher, there was no epilogue. However, although they liked the story, beta readers felt it ended too abruptly. I didn’t initially think an epilogue was necessary as that was the way I wanted to finish the book. However, as it went through the editing process, my editor persuaded me to add the ‘six months later’. And after I wrote it, I thought it did work.

The example that generally gets brought up in discussions about endings is the fairy tale one of ‘they lived happily ever after’. But once you’ve reached a stage in your life of experiencing relationships, you can’t help wondering how long that lasted. Prince Charming may well turn out to be a cad, and Cinderella a pain in the butt. So, maybe we should write epilogues that reflect the reality of finding out how the perfect HEA turns sour when it comes down to who does the shopping and the laundry and takes the bins out. But then, really, who wants to read about that?

It’s like complaining that no one in a 75,000-word story has ever gone to the toilet or brushed their teeth in the morning. Most authors and readers just want to get on with the story. You don’t want to get bogged down in the minutiae of every bodily function. It’s not very romantic. (Although describing someone’s morning ablutions might be easier than writing good sex scenes…hmm…there’s a thought!)


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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


 

An end to Country Living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the beginning:

Chapter One

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

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

“Isn’t it just simply gorgeous, K?”

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

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

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

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


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

Happy reading!


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

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.

amzons_book

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)

trilogy_promo

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


 

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.

deuce_flat

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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