Never too late to visit Middle-earth

Someone I know, who is a lot younger than me, posted on social media yesterday that she’d just bought the complete set of books – The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And she’s an LOTR virgin!

I don’t know many people of my generation who would fit that category. My wife is one, though. She didn’t make it past the first page of The Hobbit. Shock, horror – this wasn’t real. She couldn’t read about furry creatures who live in holes in the ground. (Surprising, perhaps, that our relationship didn’t founder there and then. But we’ve now been together for 33 years.)

Anyway, after telling Carol that I had copies of these books that are older than her, I said I would post pictures and here they are.

First up, The Hobbit paperback published in 1974. (Note: price on the back – 65p.)

hobbit74

Next, The Lord of the Rings trilogy in one volume…also from 1974.

lotr74

Both these books travelled with me through journeys to France, Canada, and back to England in the mid 1980s.

I couldn’t resist buying the 50th Anniversary edition of The Hobbit (1987). I recall the bookseller saying he was disappointed the publisher had the anniversary banner printed on the cover instead of a sticker that could have been removed. It’s a lovely version of the book though with maps on the front and back inside covers and some previously unpublished illustrations by the author.

hobbit87

No surprise then that I also couldn’t resist buying the book of Tolkien Treasures (2018) when I saw it in our local bookshop last year.  The author has compiled many of Tolkien’s illustrations and maps that are held in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. It’s a fascinating overview of his life and work.

treasures

So, to Carol, and any other readers who haven’t yet read the books, hope you enjoy the journeys and adventures that all start from a Hobbit hole in the peaceful surroundings of the Shire.


Print and eBooks by Jen Silver are available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iTunes

Audiobooks:

Starting Over  is available from: Audible UK / Audible US / Audible DE / Audible CA / Audible AU / Amazon UK / Amazon US  / iTunes

Changing Perspectives is available from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook


 

Lockdown comfort reading

Books I’ve been re-reading over the last three weeks:

I started with Swallows and Amazons, a regular source of comfort reads. Coot Club and The Big Six are gentle stories about sailing on the Norfolk Broads. I’ve never sailed in my life and never quite mastered rowing or paddling a canoe either. But I love these stories and marvel at how self-sufficient these children are. However, when Arthur Ransome wrote the stories in the 1930s, it was a very different world.

coot_six

After messing about in boats, I moved on to more adult fare with Jasper Fforde. I read books 1 to 5 of the Thursday Next series. They’re all good fun but I think my favourite is the third one – The Well of Lost Plots when Thursday has to hide out in an unpublished novel and continues with her training as a Jurisfiction agent under Miss Havisham.

fforde_five

Time then for a complete change of scene and on to some lesfic. My first stop here was an old favourite, which I discovered on the Mooch café’s Books for sale shelf five years ago. (I got it signed by the wonderful Karin K when I attended my first GCLS Conference in New Orleans in 2015.) Just Like That, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a delightful lesbian take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. (And the glass of wine is relevant!)

Karin_that

After that, I needed more Kallmaker and found I had her very first published novel on my Kindle. In Every Port is a great coming out story with historical overtones, set at the time of Harvey Milk’s assassination and the Jonestown massacre.

Sticking with old favourites, I then moved on to detective stories starting with Murder at the Nightwood Bar and The Beverley Malibu by Katherine V Forrest. KVF never disappoints.

malibu_mine

That brings me up to date as I’ve just started on the first of the Lauren Laurano series – Everything You Have is Mine by Sandra Scoppettone.

So, why all the reading? Apart from the obvious – only going out when necessary. The writing is just not happening. Making notes for this blog is the most I’ve been able to do. I’m at the halfway point in my next WIP – but it’s not progressed past there in the last month.

For something else to do, I’ve recorded myself reading Chapter One of Country Living. No need for any professional audio book narrators to be worried. I’m no good at character voices and don’t have the skill to edit out the occasional bleep or stumble. And I certainly can’t compete with the lovely Clare Ashton who is reading her book Poppy Jenkins chapter by chapter (available on YouTube). But here is the audio file, if you want to listen.

CL_Jen

Reviews for Country Living

There haven’t been many, but I am very grateful for the reviews I’ve received so far for Country Living. (All five stars!) This one appeared on the Amazon UK site on 27 March:

Heart warming, fast moving and so true to life!

After 20 years of living together, marriage and comfortable ‘rubbing along’, you think you know someone – but maybe you don’t! This cracking story so well written. I became fully immersed in the sadness of middle aged Peri who suddenly realises her wife has been cheating on her and has to start rebuilding her life. Set in Yorkshire, England, the vivid writing transports you to the hills, dales and farm life of this beautiful countryside. And as always with Jen Silver’s books the plot is multi layered delivering a cool and sparkling look at contemporary life and adding real ‘edge’ to the story. Balancing out the romances, there are secrets, intrigues and surprise twists. Young and middle aged characters have experiences so recognisable – I felt I truly reading about people I know. There are always high expectations of Jen Silver’s books and ‘Country Living’ is one of her best.

Thanks for reading, if you got this far. Hope you’re staying safe and maybe enjoying rereading some of your own comfort reads.


Country Living – published 1 March 2020 – availabe from: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Amazon AU / Amazon DE / Amazon FR / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes


 

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.

jen_lake

lake_25dec

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

nine_books


 

To Autumn…

The first line of Keats’ ode to this season is all I can quote from memory: “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”.… so I had to look it up to find the next line, which I really should have been able to recall: “Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”.

canal_geese

November is almost here so I began thinking about what I’ve done these past two months. We(s)t Yorkshire has lived up to its name with long bouts of rain every week. However, I have evidence of one sunny day when I was on the archery field.

archer_sept

The day of our visit to Sutton Hoo, the site of the famed 7th century Anglo-Saxon ship burial, was overcast but the wet stuff stayed away. Although I had read about the dig that took place on the eve of the Second World War, it brought it into sharper focus to see the landscape, the burial mounds, and the size of the ship that would have been hauled up the steep side of the valley from the river.

suttonhoo_helmet

suttonhoo_ship

It was sunny for our brief trip to Edinburgh in October, but very cold. I’m looking quite frozen here with the Sir Walter Scott memorial in the background. (A good excuse to sample some whisky.)

Scott_Edinburgh

The Pumpkin Festival in Hebden Bridge is the precursor to Hallowe’en in the town. Local businesses get into the spirit of things with wonderful window and street displays. The Heart Gallery won the Business award last year and has excelled again with this tribute to Anne Lister.

shibden_pumpkins


Book related things

All quiet on the writing front. However, at some point in the next few months I will be embarking on the editing process for my next novel, Country Living, due out in April.

Deuce, which came out in February, hasn’t garnered many reviews but the feedback I’ve had from people who have read it is that they enjoyed the story. I’m pleased to note that our local bookstore, The Book Case, has sold two copies. (One still left on the shelf the last time I looked). Paperbacks are also available at Gay’s the Word in London.

deuce_bookcase1

The LesFic Eclectic anthology was released last month… a great collection of stories from new and established authors…and it’s FREE! Grab your copy here.

le_contents

LesFic Eclectic contents

That’s all for now. Happy reading!


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

changing_audio_site

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


 

My summer reading

In my last blog post I gave an overview of what I’ve been up to this summer with activities and events. So now I thought I would take a look at what I’ve been reading over the last few months.

The science fiction bug has bitten me this year:

planet

The title of the first book in Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer series intrigued me: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. And I wasn’t disappointed. The author captures the differing species and personalities aboard a spaceship very well. It made me wonder how well any of us would cope having to interact at close quarters with different-bodied aliens when the small differences in human aspects seem to be a challenge on our own small angry planet.

producer

Although I’ve read the Chronicles of Alsea series on my kindle, I’ve enjoyed rereading the stories in paperback format (very well produced by Heartsome Publishing). Earlier this year I reread The Caphenon (Book1), Outcaste (Book 6), Resilience (Book 7), and Uprising (Book 8). I’ve now gone back to Without a Front: The Producer’s Challenge (Book 2). The first time I read it, I think I missed a lot of the detail. I can take it more slowly now, as I know what happens later on. The challenges faced by the characters populating Fletcher Delancey’s complex Alsean society is worth the revisit. (Next up: Without a Front: The Warrior’s Challenge)

After visiting other worlds, it was time for some down-to-earth romance. However, not being able to decide on a new lesfic book to read, led me to rereading some of my own.

trilogy_promo

Revisiting them after a gap of almost five years was a pleasant revelation. I really enjoyed them. Starting Over was my debut novel, which spawned two more books to form the Starling Hill trilogy. The archaeological aspect of the stories was something I enjoyed researching and continued to be a real life interest with the five seasons spent as a volunteer excavator at Vindolanda.

digging

Having just released my first audio book, Changing Perspectives, I’ve been pondering which of my other books could be the next one to be produced and I’m thinking Starting Over would do nicely. Any thoughts from readers on that idea are most welcome.


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

Changing Perspectives audio book is available from: Audible / Amazon / iTunes / Beek / Chirp / Scribd / Google Play / Kobo / Nook


 

The Power of Audio

ANNOUNCEMENT: My first audio book is out and proud!

CP_audiofile

Although I knew that audio books were becoming more popular, I hadn’t really thought much about my own books being produced for a listening audience.

I’ve listened to podcasts but didn’t think I would enjoy listening to a book being read to me. But finally I decided that if I was going to dip my toe in the audio book market, I better get a move on. I’m not getting any younger.

Anyway it was purely by chance that I saw a social media post from Cari Hunter mentioning she was meeting up with her narrator in Hebden Bridge. As that’s close to where I live, I looked up Nicola Victoria Vincent’s website and contacted her.

The whole process, from start to finish, has taken about nine months. Nicola and I met for a coffee (tea in her case) and talked about what was involved from the narration point of view and the cost. I gave her my two most recent books at the time to take a look at. These were Calling Home and Changing Perspectives.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by the fact that Changing Perspectives was the one that got her attention. That cover image has drawn in quite a few readers. She sent me a sample recording and I was blown away. She captured the voice of the main character, Dani, perfectly, to my mind.

My publisher was impressed with the sample but didn’t want to invest in the production. So I obtained the audio rights from them and asked Nicola to go ahead.

It was a steep learning curve for me. But I enjoyed listening to each chapter as she sent them to me for approval. Hearing my characters and their story come to life was an amazing experience. Nicola’s expert narration held me spellbound. (And I wrote this stuff!)

I wondered how she would handle reading the sex scenes. She told me it was just acting and it didn’t bother her.

So now I’m hooked. I’m enjoying listening to audio books…giving me a whole new world to explore.

Will I consider doing it again with one of my other books? This is a distinct possibility. I just have to decide which one. If any readers have an opinion on this, please do leave a comment.


Audio book cover

Changing Perspectives audio book is available from Audible, Amazon, and Apple iBooks.

Links on Lesbian Audio Books website.


nine_books

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


 

Lesbian Writers Read 2019

HVP2019_banner

This year’s Happy Valley Pride Festival will be kicking off in a week’s time with the Opening Night Spectacular. Come along to the Old Gate Bar and Restaurant in Hebden Bridge to join in the fun (Monday 22 July from 7pm). You’ll also be able to plan your week ahead with tickets on sale for events. T-shirts and other merch will be on sale too.

jen_happy

At last year’s Opening Night

Looking forward to sporting one of the 2019 Festival t-shirts with three new logos to choose from.

HVP-t-shirts

Available from the Festival shop

 

But, of course, the highlight of the week as far as I’m concerned is the Lesbian Writers Read session on Saturday 27 July. This year we’re hosting a diverse range of authors converging from different parts of the country: Clare Ashton, Andrea Bramhall, Jody Klaire, Clare Lydon, and Sam Skyborne. And our MC for the evening is renowned reviewer, Velvet Lounger. We’ll be reading from our books and talking about writing…or whatever other topics are thrown at us by Velvet or the audience. Plenty of comfortable seating in our venue…the Little Theatre in Hebden Bridge…doors open at 1:00pm.

lwr19_promo

Click here to book your tickets

Check out the full Festival programme for the week.


nine_books

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

ninebooks


 

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.

bsb_books

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


 

Exploring new worlds

My bookshelves are full of fantasy and science fiction novels…from my childhood days of traversing through Narnia, Middle Earth, and the Earthsea Archipelago. Then I moved on to stories by Isaac Asimov, J G Ballard, Brian Aldiss, William Gibson, Samuel R Delaney, and Ursula K LeGuin’s adult novels.

Rediscovering lesbian sci-fi and fantasy has been a fairly recent development in my reading habits. I do have some much loved books on my shelves from the 1990s…Jean Stewart’s Isis series and  the first two Aggar books by Chris Anne Wolfe which I reread occasionally.

The reboot of reading newer stories in these genres started a few years ago with Fletcher DeLancey’s marvelously envisioned world of Alsea starting with The Caphenon. I’ve now read all the books in the series, including the recently released seventh one, Resilience. (When we’ve got intergalactic space travel underway, I want to visit Alsea.)

alsea.jpg

When I was at ELLCon this summer, I exchanged books with two other authors at the event, and perhaps it was just serendipity that both fall into the dystopian genre.

I started reading Chosen by Brey Willows during my four-hour return train journey from Bristol to West Yorkshire. Having read Brey’s Aftelife Inc series, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. I couldn’t tell you which stations we stopped at as I was totally engrossed in the story from the first page.

chosen_survival

A few days after getting back from the conference, I knew I would be spending a long afternoon in A&E so I took along May Dawney’s Survival Instincts. This seemed like an appropriate choice for the occasion to keep my mind off the tests I was undergoing for my breathing problem.

Both books deal with the aftermath of when humankind has succeeded in destroying the resources of the planet, and taking down civilisation as we know it. This could make for grim reading, but the message in both books contain the elements of hope and restoration at the hands of the few who have the courage and determination to rebuild something from the ruins.

It would be remiss of me not to mention another writer who has ventured into the dystopian genre, one of my fellow Affinity authors, Renee MacKenzie. The first two books in her Karst Series are available now, with the third on its way to publication next year. Renee’s New America is struggling to live up to the ideal of creating a better society than the earlier one (ours, I guess).

kai

When I was with the Affinity team at the 2017 GCLS conference in Chicago, Renee had been considering publishing the series under a pen name. Mainly because she felt they were so different from her other novels. However, when the first book, Kai’s Heart, was released, I was pleased to see that she had decided not to do that. Anyone who has read Renee’s other books shouldn’t be put off by the change. She is a fabulous writer and these books demonstrate her ability to deliver compelling stories in another genre. The second in the series is called Naomi’s Soul, published by Affinity Rainbow Publications in September and the third book, due out next year, is called Misha’s Promise.


Which two books of my own did I exchange at ELLCon…one each of the last two published:

changing_calling2

Available from:

Calling Home: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Changing Perspectives: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords /  Apple iTunes