Pull a Christmas Cracker!

With Christmas only a few weeks away, it’s time to revisit Winterbourne House.

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Writing this story was an absolute joy and I loved being able to get in a number of Christmas cracker jokes. When the book was in the beta editing stage, my American editor informed me she didn’t know what a Christmas cracker was and thought I needed to expand the context in the story for the benefit of overseas readers.

I found this a rather shocking revelation. Surely not a whole nation deprived of sharing Christmas crackers, pulling them apart with eyes scrunched waiting for the bang, to gain access to a (very likely) useless gift, a paper hat, and a joke that’s guaranteed to make everyone at the table groan.

Excerpt from Christmas at Winterbourne:

…JJ insisted on silence while she read out the joke from her cracker.

“Okay, everyone. Can you guess the answer to this? How did Scrooge win the football game?”

With a collective groan, they all shook their heads.

“The ghost of Christmas passed.”

More groans and a quick shuffle of hands digging the small slips of paper out from the rubble of the cracker debris left on the table.

Clare was the next to join in.

“Why did Santa’s helper see the doctor?” She looked around the table. “No takers. Okay. Because he had low elf esteem.”

Rose followed this. “What do you get if you cross a bell with a skunk?”

To Candice’s amazement, Mags jumped in. “Oh, I know that one. Jingle smells.”

They carried on around the table and only stopped when the next course was brought in.…

That was at the dinner on Christmas Eve. The guests had another chance to open crackers during the Christmas day lunch.

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I was delighted when Clare Lydon posted her top festive picks and Christmas at Winterbourne was first on the list. Here’s what Clare said about the story:

Not a romance but rather an ensemble piece, this book is based in a rambling old estate in Sussex, run by lesbians and now a lesbian retreat. There a truckload of characters to get your head around at first – I got dizzy keeping up at one point – but once you do, you’ll find you’re a guest at the house, too, along with the couples young and old, the newly blooming romances, the heartbroken and the about-to-give-birth.

This book is a gentle observational snapshot of Christmastime in a house full of lesbians, replete with a touch of drama, along with lashings of mulled wine and mince pies. It’s an easy read that draws you in and has a bumper crop of cracker jokes, along with skinny dipping, snowball fights and flowing champagne.

Yes, there are a lot of characters and I make no apology for that. Just come on in and enjoy meeting the ‘ensemble’ as Clare said.

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.

And while we’re on the subject of Christmas, don’t miss out on Affinity’s Christmas Medley – a collection of stories from eight Affinity authors.

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

Christmas Medley: Affinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK


 

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Christmas cheer

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Eight Affinity authors took up the challenge to write a Christmas-related short story. The task was to write a longer short story this time so the stories in this anthology range from 10,000 to 20,000 words.

This was definitely out of my comfort zone for writing a ‘short’ story, having only managed between 3,000 and 5,000 word stories in the past.

However, once I was over the 4,000-word mark, I knew that it was going to go the distance. The story is titled Maybe This Christmas, inspired by a song from Tracey Thorn’s “Tinsel and Lights” album.

Synopsis:

Emma Jones has had a bad year. Her girlfriend dumped her on Christmas Eve and now with December 25th looming once again, she can’t avoid the constant reminders of the festive season. Her friends try to be supportive by either telling her it’s time she got over it, or by attempting to set her up with other women. Emma hasn’t succeeded in getting over it, and her friends haven’t had any success in getting her interested in anyone else. Until Suzanne (Zan) Phillips walks into their local pub one night and sets her pulse racing.

Zan is a newcomer to the area, having moved from London to start a job in a northern town where she doesn’t know anyone. She takes the initiative by asking one of her new work colleagues where she can meet lesbians. Unknown to her, Sassafras (Sass) Scott is one of Emma’s best mates. When Zan accepts an invitation to join Sass and her friends in a pub one evening, she doesn’t expect to meet a woman she is immediately attracted to.

Can Emma overcome her fear of having her heart stomped on again? Will Zan succeed where others have failed?

I grew to love these characters and I’m seriously considering expanding their adventures into a novel-length story.

If you can’t wait for that to happen, you can delve into Christmas at Winterbourne – and immerse yourself in the festivities at a lesbian guesthouse over the holiday period.

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One reviewer’s comments sum it up well:

“This is a love story with great humour, relationship angst and deep emotions running through it. The fact that it is set at Christmas makes it all the more special, with a cosy, traditional feeling. I felt as if I was there with them all. The setting is beautifully described and Jen Silver has got me so convinced that I want to book a stay there!”

Happy holiday reading!


Buying links:

Christmas Medley: Affinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK

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

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


 

Our Happy Hours

This wonderful collection of stories, essays, anecdotes, and poetry came to fruition thanks to the vision and hard work of S Renée Bess and Lee Lynch. They would be the first thank everyone else involved with the project who gave freely of their services: contributors, cover designer, editors, proofreaders and publisher.

Our Happy Hours

Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices From the Gay Bars

The inspiration for gathering material from so many sources came to Renée in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. She realised, listening to news reports, that many of us have stories to tell of our experiences in bars and clubs…from having the courage to walk into a public place, to dressing how we wanted to appear, to finding the spaces where we felt safe.

Journeys of self-discovery were made possible by having venues to gather in, to find out we weren’t alone. A good number of these stories are told here. My contribution comes, not from my own personal experience but, from what I’ve been told it was like for a young woman arriving in London from another part of England in the 1960s. Finding the Gateways Club was everything she had dreamt about.

Excerpt from Gateway to Heaven:

Slowly she felt herself relaxing. She’d made it. The women were enjoying themselves, chatting, laughing, couples holding onto each other. It was beyond anything she had imagined. All were dressed as they wanted to present themselves; femmes in pretty dresses and skirts, with make-up and teased hair. Butches, like herself, wearing either shirts and ties or doing James Dean impersonations attired in tight muscle shirts and jeans.

Humming along to the song currently playing on the Jukebox, Bobby Vee singing “Take Good Care of My Baby”, she slowly became aware of someone who had stopped in front of her.

“Hi. Haven’t seen you here before. What’s your name?”

It was the Dusty impersonator she had seen on the street earlier.

“Um, Devon.” She gave a nonchalant shrug. “Friends call me Dev.”

“Pleased to meet you, Dev. I’m Sandy.”

She put her glass down on the nearby table. “Would you…um?” she gestured towards the middle of the room where others were moving to the music.

“Gladly.”

Just as they reached the edge of the dance area, the song changed to a slow tune, another one she recognised “Release Me”. The dance floor filled up rapidly and Dev wasn’t sure how to proceed. Sensing her hesitation, Sandy pulled her close and whispered in her ear, “Move with me.”

So much has changed since those days, yet some things have stayed the same. Finding your community and a safe place to be yourself can be just as daunting as it was fifty years ago.

Don’t hesitate – buy this book and tell your friends about it. Proceeds from sales go to supporting two LGBTQ youth organisations.

Bella Books / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble

List of contributors (in order of appearance in the book):

Ann Aptaker, Dontá Morrison, Rae Theodore, James Schwartz, Jennifer Morales, Cheryl Head, Heather Jane, Beth Burnett, Cindy Rizzo, Stephen Reigns, Clay Kerrigan, Earlon Sterling, Sallyanne Monti, Karen DiPrima, S. Renee Bess, Richard Natale, Mercedes Lewis, Martha Miller, Liz McMullen, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Penny Mickelbury, Johnny Townsend, Merril Mushroom, Brian Heyburn, Lee Lynch, Joan Nestle, Ian Cassidy, Angela Garrigan, Nahshon Anderson Fuentes, Ardy Tibby, Katharine E. K. Duckett, Rachel E. Bailey, Darryl Denning, Lisa Carlson, Katherine V. Forrest, Jen Silver, Shelley Thrasher, Kitty Kat, Jamie Anderson, Shawn Marie Bryan, Ann Laughlin, JP Howard, L. K. Early, Patrick Coulton, Michael Ward, Karin Kallmaker and Bonnie J. Morris.


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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


 

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


 

The Affinity One goes to the Festival

I’m setting off to Birmingham shortly. My wife and I are attending the Diva Literary Awards this evening. My book, Running From Love, has been shortlisted in the Romance category and I’m really not expecting it will win – just being in the same room with all the other shortlisted authors is going to be a major thrill. (As well as watching Heather Peace handing out the awards!)

If you’re attending the two-day Festival following the Awards, I look forward to meeting you. There’s a whole host of authors from LGBT publishers including BSB and Ylva, plus some very successful Indies. I’m the Affinity One – representing Affinity Rainbow Publications.

During the weekend I’m planning to attend as many of the events as I can. Then on Sunday afternoon at 2:15, I’ll be doing a reading along with A L Brooks and Wendy Hudson, moderated by Diva staff writer, Danielle Mustarde. Should be a lot of fun.

The Diva team has worked hard to bring about this first ever Diva Literary Festival. They’ve put together a fantastic programme – take a look. If you’re not booked in, I’m sure it’s not too late.

And, of course, there’s a bookstall. There will be copies of my first six published books available to buy.

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My latest book, Changing Perspectives, just came out on Wednesday – so no time to obtain paperbacks for the festival. However the ebook and print versions are available online. And on Monday, check out T B Markinson’s website, iheartlesfic, for my guest blog where I talk about the origins of this story. You can read the first chapter here and also the comments of the book’s first reviewer.

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I better go now and check my packing list. I’m sure the kitchen sink isn’t going to fit in the car.


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

Books picked up on my travels

Whenever I’m in Vancouver (which isn’t that often, the last time was three years ago), I like to pop in to Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium. When I mentioned this to two lesbian friends of my mother, one of them said, “Oh, do they sell books?” (I guess they’ve only shopped in the ‘Art Emporium’ part…I didn’t know what this was a euphemism for until my first visit.)

I do just go in to look at the books (Really, Mum!). This time, however, they were in the midst of re-organising the bookshelves and a lot of the books were in boxes waiting to be put on the new shelving. But I did manage to find a few treasures. In the used book section, there was this oldie by Bonnie J. Morris, The Question of Sabotage. I have recently read her latest non-fiction book, The Disappearing L, in which she devotes a large portion to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. So I was able to relate to this novel with a deeper understanding of the politics of the whole event. Told from the viewpoint of a first time ‘festie’ goer, the story is a delightful mix of humour and pathos.

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Then I couldn’t resist picking up the lovely reprints of two even older stories. I’m looking forward to revisiting these classics.

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My mother and I attended a poetry reading, one of the many events (no. 61 out of 93 in fact) at the Vancouver International Writers Festival. It was wonderful – all four poets reading did a great job. But two really stuck out – and from opposite spectrums in terms of their writing careers. New Zealander, Hera Lindsay Bird, read from her award winning debut book of poetry. Her performance was impressive and we thought no one else would top that.

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But the last to read was Eileen Myles who has had over twenty books published. And really knows how to ‘perform’ poetry. If you haven’t read or heard any of Eileen’s work, I can recommend that you look it up…now! (There are clips on YouTube.)

As we left the theatre my mother commented that no one could say poetry was boring after listening to these poets. We’d heard more about f**king and orgasms than you would get in an hour-long erotica symposium.

While I was in Victoria, I popped into Russell Books, mainly to pick up a used copy of Hamlet that my mother wanted. She’s reading the play with a group of friends; all taking different parts and didn’t want to take along her hefty complete works of Shakespeare. Anyway, after finding Hamlet  I thought I would see if they had a lesbian and gay section, and I did locate it (a few shelves, next to Gender Studies). This book caught my eye and I thought it would be good to educate myself on some earlier lesfic.

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How did these writers find ways to write about lesbianism which wasn’t even considered viable at that time? Well, they used coded messages of passion and desire between women and the stories were published because, really, the idea that two women could have a sexual relationship just couldn’t be true.

So I’ve come back from my two weeks in Canada with a lot of reading material and not a lot of time to process it all before the end of this month. The first few days of November are going to be busy.

November 1st sees the release of my 7th novel published by Affinity Rainbow Publications: Changing Perspectives (Read the first chapter here).

 

And on the same day the collection of stories, essays and poems collated by S. Renée Bess and Lee Lynch is released: Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars. My short story in this collection is called Gateway to Heaven.

Then on 3rd November I’m off to the inaugural Diva Literary Festival. The Awards ceremony is being held that evening and I’m delighted to say my book, Running From Love, is shortlisted in the Romance category. (You can vote here for books in all the categories) I will also be doing a reading on the Sunday afternoon, 5 November, at 2:15. Wendy Hudson and A.L. Brooks are  joining me. So, do come along if you’re attending the festival on Sunday.

Taking a deep breath now…time to get in some reading.


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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


 

November news

Originally this blog was just going to be about my new novel. But there’s a lot happening over the next few weeks, particularly at the start of next month and before that I’m  visiting my mother in Canada.

Changing Perspectives, published by Affinity Rainbow Publications, is due for release on 1 November. On the same day, Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars (see previous blog) is also coming out. Then I will be attending the Diva Literary Festival the first weekend in November where Running From Love has been shortlisted in the Romance category for the very first Diva Literary Awards (Vote here). It’s all very exciting!

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On to book number 7:

Changing Perspectives is different from my other six novels. For one thing it is set in 1993. That’s when I started writing the story. So it has been with me for a long time. When I submitted it to Affinity earlier this year, I wasn’t sure how it would be received. Luckily the beta readers liked it

You see, one of the main characters is a Masochist, definitely with a capital ‘M’. And although she projects a tough exterior image, I know her vulnerabilities. Dani Barker is one of my all time favourite creations. As is her opposite number in the story, Camila Callaghan. Getting these two together has taken twenty-four years…but it has been a labour of love.

Back of the book blurb:

London, 1993

Art director, Dani Barker, lives life on the edge and getting into a fight in a lesbian leather bar on a Friday night isn’t an unusual occurrence.

Camila Callaghan, finance director for a large company, feels satisfied with her life in most respects. She enjoys her job and thinks it’s necessary to stay in the closet to maintain the position she’s worked hard to achieve.

When Dani and Camila meet, they both sense an attraction, but is it merely curiosity with each other’s contrasting lives? Dani hopes that Camila can be the partner she has longed for since her earliest forays into SM. The boundaries of Camila’s settled world start to blur as she questions her own feelings for Dani and what she represents.

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.

So, a bit of a departure from my previous romances. I just hope readers will enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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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


 

Our Happy Hours…coming soon!

A year ago I saw a submission request for short stories, memoirs, or poems for an anthology to celebrate and commemorate the importance of gay and lesbian bars in our community. The book’s collators are S Renée Bess and Lee Lynch.

As Renée explains in her recent blog for Women and Words, the idea came to her while thinking about the The Pulse Nightclub tragedy in Orlando and whether or not many people outside the LGBTQ community would grasp the idea of what a place like this means to us.

I really wanted to contribute a piece for the book but my experience of bars is fairly limited. However my wife was a regular visitor to the Gateways club in London when she moved to the city from Scotland in the 1960s. Her memories of that time gave me the germ of an idea for a story.

What struck me was how difficult it was in those days to find out where to go, how to meet people. Closeted lifestyles meant you had to be very careful. The available publications at the time had names that gave nothing away: The Minorities Research Group produced a monthly journal, Arena Three. Kenric was set up as a network of social groups throughout the country and published a newsletter. My wife had to pay for a Post Office Box so that she could receive these publications without arousing the suspicions of her landlady or employers.

In writing my piece for the anthology, Gateway to Heaven, I tried to capture the thrill of discovery for a young woman in 1968 venturing into a lesbian bar for the first time. I was extremely thrilled when the story was accepted.

I’m looking forward to reading all the other contributions in the book: Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices From the Gay Bars. And it is due out on 1 November, published by Flashpoint Productions.

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All the book’s royalties are being donated to two organisations that provide services to LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia and New York.


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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


 

Drinking habits

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Driving through Masham earlier this summer, we made a side trip to the Black Sheep Brewery. This is one of my favourite real ales.

I used to drink real ale exclusively. Nowadays you’re more likely to see me swigging a bottle of Corona or Desperados. Thinking about this, I realise that the characters in my books tend to reflect my drinking habits.

A few examples:

Excerpt from Starting Over:

They crossed over the bridge to the large pub on the corner. Groups of smokers were gathered outside and they had to push their way through to get to the bar inside. Jo immediately saw someone she knew so Robin ordered the drinks. It was a struggle to fight her way back through the crowd to find Jo. The noise levels were already making it impossible to have a conversation without shouting. Handing Jo her bottle of Corona, Robin fought her way back outside. She hadn’t smoked for many years, but now she wished she had a cigarette. At least, as a prop. The first gulps of beer helped calm her nerves.

Excerpt from The Circle Dance:

It was after nine when Sasha got home, exhausted both physically and emotionally. Relaxing with a glass of chilled white wine and maybe a bath was what she really wanted. Instead she would be facing an irate Phoebe.

She made it as far as the kitchen before Phoebe appeared and started wanting answers. “Where the hell have you been? And I know it wasn’t talking to Felix bloody LeMar.”

Sasha opened the fridge and was dismayed to see there was no bottle of wine. She would have to settle for a beer. Luckily there was a Corona nestled between the pasta and the remnants of Sunday’s chicken that she had planned to eat before her evening was derailed by the insane desire to see Jamie.

Excerpt from Running From Love

The cupboard was bare, as was the fridge. Sam took out the lone bottle of Corona and popped the cap. Not even a lemon or lime lurking anywhere. She took a sip and wondered what she was missing. When she spoke to Beth the night before, giving her the flight arrival time, her wife had sounded a bit distant, but nothing that couldn’t be put down to Beth being tired after a full day’s teaching.

My next book, coming out in November, demonstrates the change in my drinking. I wrote the main part of this story in 1993. When I revisited it to see if it could be developed into a novel, I decided it should stay in that time period. So I was interested to note that my main character was necking back London Pride. For those not in the know, this is a real ale brewed at Fuller’s Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, west London.

fuller_passport

1992 was the year a friend and I embarked on a Fuller’s sponsored pub crawl. We obtained a passport from the brewery that had to be stamped in each of their pubs we bought a drink in. It took us several outings to realise we didn’t actually have to buy beer to get a stamp. A soft drink would suffice. The passport was divided into sections and after a haphazard start we figured out that by concentrating on one part we would be able to cover enough pubs to qualify for a prize. We completed Area 1, a total of 46 pubs (well, 45 – one was closed)…such dedication.

We did also visit about another 20 pubs in the other two areas but realised we weren’t going to manage the complete 180 in the timescale. Still, a pretty worthy effort, I feel.

The prize was a minipin of London Pride…18 pints. (That more than made up for the soft drinks we’d consumed in order to complete the Area 1 section of the passport.)

fuller_pass2

I also don’t drink tea. And I’ve noticed that the majority of my characters don’t either. They drink coffee in the morning, preferably unsullied by either sugar or milk.

So although none of my characters are based on me, they do seem to have picked up some of my drinking habits.


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