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.)

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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.

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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).

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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:

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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


 

What’s in a name?

(Paraphrasing from Shakespeare: ‘Would a Rose sound as sweet.’)

With eight published novels, (number nine is at the editing stage and number ten is in embryonic form), and five short stories…finding names for characters is becoming something of an art form.

I now have a spreadsheet with all the names I’ve used. I don’t like to use the same name twice, particularly for the main protagonists. For the benefit of readers as well as myself, it’s good to have different names in each book to keep track of who’s who.

I did have to change one character’s name in Christmas at Winterbourne. The backstory for that novel was written many years before and not published. One of the main characters was called Jamie – a name I like. But then I used it in The Circle Dance as it seemed to fit the personality of that particular person.

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Can you guess which character’s name I changed in Christmas at Winterbourne?

Sometimes I’ll change a name during the editing stage. Usually only when there are two names that look or sound similar, or even just start with the same letter. Less confusion all round.

Another thing I’ve learned to watch out for is avoiding names that are easy to trip over when reading aloud. There’s a character called Laurel in The Circle Dance. That shouldn’t be too hard to say, you would think. However, I wished I’d used Laura instead as I kept stumbling over it.

In Changing Perspectives, I deliberately chose Camila with this spelling as I wanted her name to have a Spanish pronunciation…Ca-mee-ya. Again, when it came to doing a podcast, I thought maybe should have stuck with the English version and I suspect readers will be interpreting it as Ca-mill-a (as in the Duchess of Cornwall) anyway.

The other thing I’ve noticed about my naming convention, if I can call it that, is the tendency to use androgynous names for butch characters and more feminine ones for femmes. So it’s a bit of clue for readers if a couple gets together and the names don’t match this way. For example: in Running From Love, Lydia and Beth clearly aren’t going to make it in a long-term relationship. So is Beth going to end up with Jordan or Sam?

It’s also a good idea to be flexible. Sometimes halfway through a novel, I’ll think a name isn’t working, as the character develops and grows into the story. Or I see two names starting with the same letter or sound, so I’ll change one of them.

I do enjoy the process of naming. All part of the fun starting a new book and finding out who these people are whose stories are going to be revealed. (I’m a pantser rather than a plotter, so that’s always a mystery until about half way in.)


On another note:

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My publisher, Affinity Rainbow Publications, is doing flash sales every month from their back catalogue of books by their authors. Sign up for the Affinity newsletter to receive notifications of these bargain prices, plus upcoming releases and author news. (October newsletter)

The site also offers a selection of free ebooks including my first ever published short story, There Was A Time.

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Happy reading!


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Buying links:

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

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


 

A Philosophical Post

I was looking for something a bit different from my usual reading pattern that tends to be mainly a variety of lesbian fiction sub-genres – romance, crime, dystopian, fantasy, sci-fi. So when I read about a film that’s just been released based on a book about a teenager growing up in Montana who ends up being put in a Christian camp to ‘cure’ her lesbian tendencies, I bought it…The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth (styling her name after e.e. cummings, I guess).

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The first person narrative of the story feels authentic and is maintained all the way through. I don’t know if this is because it’s based on the author’s own experiences. I suspect it might be.

My teenage years were spent in a small town in Canada so I could see, smell, taste, the atmosphere of Miles City, Montana. The high school, the landscape, the people…all terribly familiar. I was fortunate not to have to endure an oppressive fundamentalist regime as described in the book when Cameron is sent to a Christian School and Center for Healing, God’s Promise, to have her sinful desires corrected.

I explored different religions when I was in high school. Late sixties and early seventies: reading Kahlil Gibran, The Way of the Tao, Confucius, Siddhartha, Gurdjieff, The Bhagavad Gita…soaring above the clouds with Jonathan Livingston Seagull…and trying to make sense of the hexagrams in the I Ching. The Beatles were dabbling in Indian mysticism, spending time with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

“Nine in the fourth place means:

No fish in the tank.

This leads to misfortune.”

I Ching, Book of Changes

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In my long hair days

“Forget not the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

Kahlil Gibran

When I discussed some of the ideas I was investigating with a teacher friend, he would shake his head and say, “All religions are cults.” It took some time for this message to sink in while my path in life led me to take part in a spiritual journey. I lived in a community for ten years, trying to match my ideals with the reality. It didn’t work.

Where would I be now if I hadn’t left when I did? Still cooking, cleaning, and ironing in the ‘service of the Lord’ – which translated into serving the men in the community.

Although my experiences were very different to those emily danforth describes in her book, the feelings evoked were similar.

In an entirely different way to her story, I attempted to give expression to that time in my life in my most recently published novel, Calling Home. Two of the characters grow up in a strict religious community. They are helped to escape as teenagers and lead different, separate lives, before meeting up again twenty-odd years later. In my case, though, I was an adult when I joined the community of my own accord.

Authors are often asked how much of themselves go into their stories. The answer is usually that it’s a synthesis of experiences…what we see, read, and hear in everyday life. In Calling Home, though, I can confess that the character, Ray Fisher, bears some semblance to my former self – particularly as she questions why she stayed in the community for so long.

(However, it is a work of fiction and the usual disclaimer applies in that any resemblance to persons, places or events are entirely coincidental.)

After all the years of searching for the meaning of life, I think it really boils down to the words of the old Beatles song, “All You Need is Love.” I’ve been fortunate to have the love of a good woman for the past 31 years. My life with her has been enriched in ways I couldn’t have imagined while peeling potatoes in the service of the Lord.

For Cameron Post and her friends, at the end of the novel, there is hope that they too will succeed in breaking free from the toxic confines of God’s Promise.


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


 

Trees

A month has passed since my last blog when I talked about sheds and lack of progress on my current work-in-progress.

Good news on both fronts. Since then a solid shed base has been laid and the new shed is now sitting on it looking all clean and…well, shed-like. I’ve spent the morning putting things in, neatly. It may not stay that way, but at the moment it is super organised and my wife is not allowed in. (I’m definitely on the OCD spectrum where the shed is involved.)

My current WIP has now reached 40,000 words. So I feel I’m through the mushy middle and can proceed in an orderly fashion to a suitable ending. It was a bit boggy for a while and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to climb out. I love seeing that top bar on the target indicator starting to head towards a greener colour.

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I’ve titled this blog “Trees’ because my wife and I went for a walk in the woods by Hebden Beck last week and we took some pictures. It’s that time of year here when the leaves haven’t come out and I enjoyed seeing the amazing array of shapes made by the trunks and branches.

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And that’s all for this week. I’ll keep on writing, reading…and keeping the shed tidy.

Check out the April newsletter from Affinity Rainbow Publications – new releases plus a preview of the cover for my next book, due out in June.

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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


 

 

Maybe a snow day, maybe not

Braced for the great snowstorm of 2018 here in the UK – billed in the media as the ‘beast from the east’ – my wife’s shopped for the impending snowcalypse, along with everyone else in the area who have faith in the weather forecast. Excellent business for supermarkets as the shelves are emptied of bread, milk, alcoholic beverages…

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Will we be waking up to a snow-covered landscape Tuesday morning? Will there be traffic chaos, cancelled buses and trains, school closures? Perhaps in some parts of the country. But I think we’ll get a few snowflakes drifting about here, barely leaving a covering on the grass.

I grew up in southern Ontario, Canada. I don’t recall ever missing school because of snow. Then I took a job in a town in northern British Columbia. I was advised to invest in long underwear as soon as I arrived in October. And to buy cross-country skis as soon as I could. Temperatures regularly plummeted to -30F (this is where I learned that -40 is the same in either Fahrenheit or Celsius). No one ever missed work because of snowstorms or freezing cold temperatures though.

The last time we had significant snowfall here was in December 2009, lasting well into January 2010.

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Pictured here: My wife with two snowpeople we created on Christmas Day, 2009 – staying at a hotel on Lake Windermere – the lake completely obliterated from view in the background.

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Above: At home in January 2010, looking across the valley from the high school playing fields. The school was closed for an extra two weeks after the Christmas holidays that year.

So although I wouldn’t wish the disruption to everyone’s lives that a massive snowfall can bring, I’m sort of hoping for something big from the ‘beast from the east’. I would like to make a snowperson in my garden. Even if it only has a short life, like this snowthing I managed in January 2015, melting rapidly the day after its creation.

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Snow, or no snow…this is always a good time of year to settle down with a book. Happy reading as the shortest month moves rapidly towards March!


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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


 

A change of perspective

Before Changing Perspectives was released I told family and friends that this book was somewhat different from my other published novels…a trigger warning of sorts. They’ve all been very supportive, buying and reading my work, even if lesbian romance isn’t their preferred reading material. (My brother worries about what it does to his Amazon account algorithm – suggestions coming up of what he might like based on his recent purchases! And he’s moved my books to a top shelf in his living room so that his young grandson can’t reach them.)

So I was delighted when my mother sent an email saying she’d read the book…and enjoyed it! In her words: “Might have skipped quickly over some parts but people are entitled to their pleasures.”

What a lovely way of expressing it.

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The joy of getting my hands on the print version!

Reviews and comments from other readers have been positive so far. I’m happy for my characters. It took years to gain the confidence to put their story out there. Six novels later, I thought it was time…all it needed was a change of perspective…from me.

Excerpt:

Camila stood by the window watching the play of morning light on the water. The tide was in and there were little waves. She watched several rowers going past; it was the start of a bright, breezy day.

She turned back to look at Dani, asleep. The bedclothes were a tangled mess and Dani was sprawled inelegantly amongst the heap. Camila could see the unmistakable outline of welts across Dani’s buttocks. They would have to talk about it, but she didn’t know how to start. It wasn’t something she had any experience with and it was easy to react negatively—shocked, revolted—but what did she really feel? What did Dani really feel?

She had a choice, of course—leave now and never see Dani again. It had been fun, two nights of the best sex she had ever had. Keep the memory intact. Before anything went wrong. Before they found out what they didn’t like about each other.

But she couldn’t, not right away. She felt tears starting; Dani had somehow unlocked the floodgates, emotions she didn’t know she had. Looking at Dani, remembering her touch, she was getting wet. Camila wanted her to touch her again now. She was sure it had never been like this with Allison, even in their early days together.

“Dani.” She shook her shoulder gently. Dani rolled over and opened her eyes. Camila couldn’t read her expression. Was she just sleepy, or was she wondering where she was and why? Camila bent over and kissed her. Dani seemed awake enough to immediately find and grasp one of her breasts. Dani knew exactly what she wanted; her touch was firm and accurate. Camila heard herself crying out her pleasure, her desire for more. She had never been a “screamer”. She had never thought of herself as being very sensual at all. She had been wrong.

Is this likely to work out? Dani, the out and proud leather dyke…with Camila, the rigidly closeted ice queen both at work and in her very private life. As the back of the book blurb states:

Will their differences make a long-term relationship achievable? A change of perspective for both women is needed if they are to reach this goal.

Guess you’ll just have to read it to find out what happens.


Available from Affinity Rainbow Publications and other online outlets: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Amazon AUBarnes & Noble /Bella Books / Apple iTunes / Smashwords


 

Diva Literary Festival 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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Jody and Ferb

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

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

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


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


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Buying Links:

Changing Perspectives: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

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

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


 

Valley of the Nyms

Sometimes I think that having English as my first language is a disadvantage. I should really say my only language as, like many of my compatriots, I have failed to adequately learn another.

I attended school in Canada so learning French was compulsory. I don’t remember much of it now. I’ve also dabbled at times with Latin, German, Spanish, and Italian. Although I know some words in each, I’m in no way fluent.

Learning English as a second language though must be a nightmare. But I’ve observed that those who do are often much more knowledgeable about names for parts of speech and grammatical terms I’ve long forgotten…if I even knew them in the first place.

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Reading an article in a writing magazine reminded me again of some things I don’t know about my own language. Although I’m familiar with synonyms and antonyms, I didn’t know the names of a number of other ‘nyms’.

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For example, words that are spelled and pronounced identically, but have different meanings are called homonyms – as in spring, meaning a season and spring meaning coiled metal.

frog heteronym

And a heteronym is the generic term for words that have identical spellings but different meanings when pronounced differently…as in wind (blowing air) or wind (coiling something up).

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And then there’s the homonym sub-category – a homophone: words that are spelled differently but sound alike and have different meanings. The example of this that comes to mind is cue and queue.

I guess this article caught my eye as it also highlighted the original meanings of the words – homo and hetero. Nowadays you hardly ever see these words without sexual added on. If the ‘s’ word isn’t there, use of these words on their own assumes that it is a reference to sexual orientation.

Homo is especially confusing as a prefix – because whereas in Greek it means ‘same’, in Latin it means ‘man’. The Greek word, hetero, does mean ‘other party’ or ‘another’, although used to prefix scientific terms, means ‘different’.

When looking up these words, I then came across another ‘nym’ – hyponym. This really confuses things. So, a hyponym is a word whose meaning is included in that of another word. One example given: spoon is a hyponym of cutlery.

This leads on to hypernym – which did give me a WTF moment as in this example: the word colour is a hypernym of red.

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If anyone would like to contribute any of their favourite ‘nyms’, please do pass them along as a comment here.


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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


 

My top 3 Sci-Fi/Fantasy books

I’ve read a lot of science fiction/fantasy books in my time. Earliest ones were The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K LeGuin (I’m a sucker for any books with maps – loved the hand drawn archipelago in these books), A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, the Narnia series by C S Lewis, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien (yay, more maps!).

So when I discovered there was such a thing as lesbian science fiction/fantasy, I was immediately in love with a whole new set of characters: female warriors, scientists, pilots…you name it…everything the boys could do, these women could do, and better!

So here are three of my favourites in this truly wonderful genre of lesbian fiction.

First up, Daughters of the Coral Dawn by Katherine V Forrest. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book. I even have a ‘first edition’ published in 1984 by Naiad Press. This book and the two that complete the trilogy have been re-released with new covers by Bella Books. And although the new ones have modern-looking science-fiction-y covers, I like this one…with the haunting coral eyes of the woman who becomes the colonists’ leader on their new planet when they escape from Earth, Megan. Not sure about the hairstyle, no doubt very 1980s – but the description of Megan in the book is that she is always dressed in black and white – black pants, mid-calf boots, and white shirt. Very sexy.

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My favourite character though, is the narrator, Minerva the historian. Especially when she finds love with a younger woman, when she thought the time for loving another had passed her by.

Second, Return to Isis by Jean Stewart, the first in the series of five, originally published by Rising Tide Press in 1992. One of my ‘go to’ series to reread on occasions when I want a good blast of lesbian sci-fi.

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On first reading, there seems to be a clear distinction of the tightly controlled male dominated hetero-normative world of Elysium in the eastern part of the US and the utopian-styled Freeland in the west. But, as with any human attempts at achieving Nirvana, there’s always a snake in the grass, as warrior Whit finds out when she returns to her home colony after a few years undercover in Elysium.

The women in these stories go through a lot as they try to survive in a hostile world, fighting against outside forces as well as contending with their own internal battles of jealousy and intrigue.

I was sorry that the author stopped writing at novel number five in the series. I certainly wanted to read more about Whit and Kali’s adventures.

Third, but not least by any means, is Fires of Aggar by Chris Anne Wolfe, published in 1994 by New Victoria Publishers. This is the second in the series and although I do enjoy rereading the first book, Shadows of Aggar, it’s Royal Marshall Gwyn, the main character in Fires of Aggar who is my favourite. Her bondmates are two sandwolves and the connection the three of them have is a big part of the appeal of this story.

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Chris Anne created a fantastic medieval type world with Aggar and the society of Amazons who come from another planet to help the citizens of Aggar through difficult times.

Unfortunately the author succumbed to cancer at a very early age. A group of her friends have continued the series using outlines and notes Chris Anne left behind. But they haven’t really managed to match the tone and style of the first two books, in my opinion.

There is now a vast array of lesbian science fiction/fantasy novels to choose from. But these are my first three picks from a time when lesbian books of any genre were hard to find pre-internet and Amazon. I was thankful for the Silver Moon bookshop in London and the mail order service offered by West and Wilde in Edinburgh, my main book buying sources for lesbian fiction in those days.

I haven’t ventured writing a science fiction/fantasy novel myself. So I do admire those who have managed to create compelling stories that draw the reader into other worlds.


6booksBuying 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


 

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.”

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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.)


6books

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