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.

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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!

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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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Winterbourne revisited

I’m happy to announce that Christmas at Winterbourne is on Kindle Unlimited for the month of December. If you haven’t picked this book up yet, and you’re a KU subscriber, now’s your chance to experience a four-day Christmas holiday in a lesbian guesthouse.

christmas1

The number of characters may look daunting but they all have roles to play in the story. I initially started writing it to submit as a short story for Affinity’s 2014 Christmas Collection. But I soon realised that was unrealistic, as I’d already introduced eight characters in the first two and a half thousand words (and that’s not including the horse, or the dogs who come in later). To tell the story properly it was clearly going to need a longer treatment.

Back of the book description:

The Christmas festivities for the guests booked into Winterbourne House have all the goings-on of a traditional holiday. The only difference is that this guesthouse is run by lesbians, for lesbians.

When the guests arrive, tensions are already simmering between the house’s owner Wilma (Wil) and very pregnant partner, Gabriella. Wil has a lot on her plate…ensuring the smooth running of the events, looking after all the guests, including her in-laws and business partners. What she hasn’t planned for is a ghost from Christmas past.

Wil inherited Winterbourne from her adopted mother, Kim Russell, author of a series of successful lesbian novels. Most of the guests who stay, do so because they are fans of the author.

One guest, Sally Hunter, is on a mission to write Kim’s official biography. She meets with resistance from the people at the house she tries to interview, stirring up memories from those who knew the reclusive writer well.

For a bit of extra spice to the festivities, add in an unexpected snowstorm, a disappearing guest, and an imminent birth. Join the guests and staff at Winterbourne for a Christmas you’ll not soon forget.

crackers

I also love Christmas cracker jokes, so I enjoyed including some of these in the story.

Q: Why was the snowman rummaging in the bag of carrots?

A: He was picking his nose.


If you’re not convinced yet to give Christmas at Winterbourne a try, check out these reviews: Lesbian Reading Room / Clare Lydon’s top festive pics


Christmas at Winterbourne – Kindle Unlimited links: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Amazon AU

The team at Affinity Rainbow Publications love Christmas and have a selection of treats so it’s worth a visit to the website to check out other Christmas-themed books.

affinity_christmas

Free on the Affinity website

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Available from Affinity /Amazon US / Amazon UK


 

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.

group_reading1

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.

hvp_6books

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

readers

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!

hvp_banner

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.

hvp_reading

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.


 

Playing in the woods

I took up archery eight years ago. It was something I’d enjoyed doing as a child when I made my own bow and arrows, played at Robin Hood in the woods by our house. And I guess it never really left my thoughts. So when I discovered there was an archery club nearby, I signed up for the next beginners’ course.

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Playing in the woods

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The adult version – would you believe?

It seems fitting then that in my eighth novel, Calling Home, I’ve managed to include an archery reference. One of my characters, Galen, is taking a sabbatical from her vet’s practice to work at The Lodge on the Lake, a writers’ retreat. Her role is to take care of the gardening as well as providing outdoor activities for the guests. She gets permission to set up an archery range in the woods. Like myself, she is a longbow archer and whether or not any of the writers in residence wish to take up the sport, it will give her the chance to keep her hand in.

There is an attraction developing between Galen and Berry, the general manager of the Lodge. In this scene, Berry has followed her to the range, initially staying out of sight. Galen is aware of her presence though and invites her to try shooting a few arrows.

Excerpt from Calling Home:

Berry’s appearance hadn’t taken Galen by surprise. Knowing she was there, Galen’s concentration had wavered, so she was pleased when the second arrow hit the centre.

What did surprise her was the strange feeling that took over her body when she was standing close to Berry. Her fingers tingled from touching her briefly to attach the arm guard and then to guide her when she was drawing back the bow.

Berry seemed to tighten up and Galen didn’t know if it was the fear of doing something wrong in handling the bow, or if it was Galen’s presence that unsettled her. She couldn’t think of anything she’d done to upset the woman. They had worked together easily enough the day before when setting up the afternoon tea.

They walked back to the house together after Berry shot a few more arrows. She needed to get the chicken in the oven so that dinner would be served on time.

“I wonder if Lois has surfaced yet?” Galen thought this was a safe topic with which to break the silence.

“There was no sign of her all morning. Bit of a relief.”

“Do you often get trouble with people drinking too much?’

“Occasionally. But it’s usually with the larger groups. I didn’t anticipate having any problems with this lot.”

The closer they got to the house, the more relaxed Berry seemed to become. Galen hoped she’d enjoyed the archery session but she hadn’t given any indication that she wanted to do it again.

Yelps of outrage reached their ears as they approached the house. A croquet match was in progress and when they reached the edge of the lawn, Lois could be seen giving Pamela a filthy look.

“That was unnecessary.”

“It’s part of the game. I’m supposed to stop you from scoring.”

Lois stomped over to a ball that was hovering on the edge of the path. “Can I move it onto the grass?”

“No, you have to play it from there.”

“Don’t be so picky. It’s not fucking golf.” Lois placed her ball a good foot away from the path.

Pamela caught sight of Galen and Berry who had stopped to watch.

“Hey, did you catch anything?”

Galen was going to respond but Berry got in first.

“No, the fish aren’t biting today. It’s too calm.”

As soon as they got inside, Galen looked at Berry and they both burst out laughing.

“That was a good line,” she said as soon as she managed to stop.

“Yep. They fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.”

Galen loved the way Berry’s smile transformed her face. The shadows under her eyes had lightened since she’d first seen her in the woods.

“I’ll put the fishing rods away and then I can help you with dinner.” She didn’t want their time together to end.

“There’s not much left to do, but you could set the table. There are only six of us tonight. Sarah and Magda have gone across to the Inn.”

“Really. I wouldn’t have thought pub dining was Mrs Frost’s style.”

“Looks are deceiving. It has a very fine restaurant.”

“Maybe we could go sometime.” Galen felt a hot flush of embarrassment. “I mean, there’s nothing wrong with your cooking, but…”

“Actually, tomorrow would be good. I’m going over in the morning to pick up supplies. We could have lunch. It will give you a chance to meet the landlord there and Alfie’s wife.” Berry gave her another smile.

“Does she have a name? I’ve only ever heard anyone refer to her as ‘Alfie’s wife’.” Galen hoped that Berry couldn’t hear her heart pounding.

“Sorry. Bad habit, I guess. Her name is Zofia. Like Sophia but spelled with a Z. She’s Polish, but she speaks English better than me.”

Berry turned to go into the kitchen and Galen hurried off to put her archery equipment in her room. The idea of having lunch with Berry the next day was both exhilarating and scary.

Where Berry is a complete novice at archery, Galen has no experience of relationships. Feeling an attraction is one thing, but will she be able to take it to another level of emotional and physical involvement?

Calling Home


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