Comfort reading

The idea of comfort reading when it’s cold and snowy outside brings to mind two of my childhood favourites – that I still go back to now and again – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome.

Eventually I found a way to weave my own winter story with Christmas at Winterbourne. Narnia gets a reference in it (as it does in a few of my books).

Last year, when my publisher invited their authors to submit stories for a Christmas-themed anthology, I decided it was time to see what had happened to my characters in the intervening four years since publication.

“Winterbourne Revisited” was the result. The main focus for the story was the child who was born on Boxing Day. Teri is looking forward to her fourth birthday and all she wants for Christmas is…snow. Lots of it…just like at the time of her birth, when Winterbourne House was snowbound. As in the original story, I managed to include some Christmas Cracker jokes. This is an excerpt from the family’s Christmas Eve dinner with just Teri, her parents, and Clare, their guest from Australia.

Teri had followed her mother into the room and climbed onto the chair next to Clare. She immediately picked up her cracker and said, “Pull.”

Clare obliged with a smile, then offered her own to the girl. Teri was clearly well versed in cracker etiquette and pulled it before diving in to explore what had come out of her own. Wil and Gaby shared theirs with each other.

“Eat your soup before it gets cold.” Gaby’s instruction was aimed at her daughter but Clare picked up her spoon obediently. She’d only managed two mouthfuls when Teri plucked at her sleeve and held out her cracker joke.

“You want me to read this. Okay. Hm. I think it’s been written especially for you, little one. What do they sing at a snowman’s birthday party?” Clare looked around the table. “Any guesses?”

Blank looks all round.

“Must be something to do with cold or freezing,” Wil offered.

“You’re getting warm, or maybe I should say, cold.” Clare smiled. “Freeze a jolly good fellow.”

Teri looked puzzled, although her parents had laughed. “What does it mean?”

Clare sang the words for her, but the girl still looked puzzled. “Who’s he? It’s my birthday on Boxing Day. I want lots of snow and a snow horse.”

“I know, sweetheart.” Clare looked to Wil for help.

Wil shrugged. “How about this one, then? What kind of bird can write?”

“Oh, I know that one.” Gaby said quickly. “A penguin!”

Teri was distracted with the toy that had fallen out of her cracker. Clare wondered if her either of her parents had x-ray vision when they’d distributed the Christmas crackers at each place setting. The girl was playing with a small plastic horse.

So, if you’re looking for some Christmas-related comfort reading, how about giving this one a go.

Winterbourne Revisited – published 15 November 2021: Affinity Rainbow Publications Amazon UK / Amazon US / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Wintry tales


Winter warmers in story form…if you haven’t encountered it already, I recommend joining the cast of characters in Christmas at Winterbourne for an unforgettable interlude at a lesbian retreat in Sussex. One reviewer came up with a summary that encapsulates the story far better than I’ve managed: “The characters are incredible and unique. They all have their own personalities, strength and weaknesses. A mixture of very different women. Sharing a few days with those characters is pure joy. I loved the whole atmosphere, the warm kitchen, the log fires, the cozy setting. It all felt so real. A story of love, loss, secrets, humor, friendship, compassion and a caring community. Reading this book is like falling into a warm bed on a snowy day…A perfect romance and just what I was looking for and a delightful read to put you in the Christmas mood.”

Check out the December price of Christmas at Winterbourne on Amazon: $3.99 on / £3.09 on



Affinity’s 2017 Christmas Medley has a delightful mix of stories. My offering, Maybe this Christmas, was summed up beautifully by one reviewer: “…set in Hebden Bridge, the lesbian mecca of the north of England. I loved the setting and the sweet story of Emma and her struggle to get past heartbreak and feel love again.”

I’ve recently started thinking about expanding the story of Emma and her friends into a full-length novel.


Wanted for Christmas

JM Dragon, renowned Affinity Rainbow Publications author, just loves Christmas and has released a new novella.


Venturing away from the world of lesfic, this is the time of year when dedicated fans of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence start thinking about re-reading the books. The time to start reading the second book in the sequence, The Dark is Rising, is on Midwinter’s Eve (21 December) when Will Stanton, 11 years old, is drawn into the ancient battle between the forces of the Light and the Dark.

Puffin Books has just released the books with new covers and foreword by Robert McFarlane. Although the new covers are good, I still prefer the cover of the 1973 version that I have, published by Atheneum.


Other old favourites that I like to revisit at this time of year are Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome…a seasonal visit to the Lake District…and a trip into Narnia with  The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis.



Plans for the New Year

My new novel, Country Living, is due out in March, published by Affinity Rainbow Publications.

Blurb preview:

When Peri Sanderson achieves her dream of living in a cottage in the country she expects her life will be complete when her wife, Karla Sykes, is able to join her. Peri has romantic visions of growing her own vegetables, nurturing a few chickens and finally getting around to re-reading all her favourite books.

Karla has told Peri she can’t make the move from their London home for at least six months as she has a number of important projects to finish up before she can leave her job. Unknown to Peri, Karla has plans of her own that don’t include a move to the country.

Peri’s nearest neighbours on the hilltop sheep farm above the cottage seem like a nice family and help her to settle in and feel less lonely, but they all have secrets of their own.

Will Peri’s dream turn into a nightmare? Will Karla’s romantic adventure bring her the release she seeks?


And a new audio book: Starting Over…Nicola Victoria Vincent to start recording in January.


Changing Perspectives is already out on audio, 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


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.


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.


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.


Free on the Affinity website


Available from Affinity /Amazon US / Amazon UK


Winter Solstice reading

Celebrate the return of the light (in the northern hemisphere) as the shortest day has arrived!

Discovered on Twitter this week – fans of Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising read the book every year, ideally starting on Midwinter Eve (20 December). This is something I do ever since I came across the book in a Toronto bookshop sometime in the late 1970s. The copy I have was published in 1973. Although The Dark is Rising is the second book chronologically in the series, it was the first one I read and remains my favourite of the five books.


1973 edition of The Dark Is Rising

The 2007 film version, “The Seeker”, was largely a flop. Fans of the book weren’t impressed, particularly as it was so Americanised. There was nothing of the contrasts of the young hero’s cosy family life in a Buckinghamshire village pitted against the ancient battle between good and evil – based primarily on Arthurian themes and a mix of other myths and legends.

Some of the family’s traditions in the book remind me of my own childhood. We didn’t burn a Yule log, but I recall making paper chains and bringing in the live Christmas tree on the 24th of December to decorate. I may have been told then, but I didn’t register the religious significance of the twelve days of Christmas – only that the tree was brought into the house in preparation for the first day – and taken down afterwards on January 6th.

I think this musician, Handspan, has caught the atmosphere of the time of the story brilliantly with his musical compositions. He’s putting a different tune on his Soundcloud site every day – the previous one will disappear after 24 hours. And if you want to join in with the Twitter discussion group just follow this link or put in #TheDarkIsReading.

A little bit of magic at Christmas appeals to my inner child. I’m sure anyone who read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at a tender age still remember the horror of reading about a place where it was always winter but never Christmas.


Another book from my childhood (and let’s face it, my increasing adulthood) that gets read every year is Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome. Of the twelve books in his Swallows and Amazons series, this one remains a firm favourite. The story takes place after Christmas and the children are hoping that the lake will freeze over before they have to go back to school. They want to be able to skate to the ‘North Pole’ at the far end of the lake. It doesn’t seem likely until their holidays are extended by a month when one of them gets mumps and they’re all quarantined. Although no magic is involved, the story feels magical, within a world suspended by the onslaught of snow and ice.


For my wife and I, Christmas gift buying shrinks each year. We’ve reached the conclusion there’s no point in getting each other anything other than books. So we exchange lists.

This year I’ve asked for Philip Pullman’s new one, The Book of Dust, La Belle Sauvage. The start of another trilogy—I can’t wait to delve into Pullman’s magical world.

For a different kind of magical journey, you could take a trip to Winterbourne House, a lesbian retreat, in Christmas at Winterbourne.

And for variety, the Christmas Medley anthology offers eight Christmas-related stories from Affinity authors.


Buying links:

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

Christmas Medley: Affinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK