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.

fires_of_aggar

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.

readers

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.”

buyer

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.

signing

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.

helen_door

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


 

Lesbian Writers Read

The Happy Valley Pride Festival committee chose the name Lesbian Writers Read as they wanted something snappier to put in the programme than my offering of ‘Reading Event’.

When I was interviewed on Hebden Radio by Bev McGregor (host of the regular Tuesday evening LGBeaTs show) she asked why it wasn’t just ‘Writers Read’. Why did we need to announce that the writers are lesbians? I didn’t have a particularly snappy answer to her question at the time. But I think the aim of the Festival organisers was to give us lesbians more visibility during the event than we had last year. This is only the second year of the week long festival taking place in Hebden Bridge from 7 to 13 August, so I’m just glad we have a ‘reading event’ this time…and that it’s a group of lesbians leading the way.

radio

On the radio with Bev

Bev’s question reminded me though of the fact we do need that visibility. Mainstream bookshops, for example, have erased their gay and lesbian sections. I asked a member of staff in a Waterstones bookshop if they had such a section and was directed to ‘Gender Studies’.

If you’re a well-known author, then having your book placed in the general fiction section is no doubt considered a major achievement. But for those of us struggling to make a name, it’s like we don’t exist. And for anyone wanting to browse through the shelves to find new LGBT writers, they’re going to have to visit one of the few remaining specialist bookshops like Gay’s the Word in London.

Anyway, that aside, I’m very much looking forward to our Lesbian Writers Read evening. A few months ago I didn’t think this was possible…to be able to put on something like this in our small town. But it is happening…on 8 August from 7pm at Ribbon Circus, 18 Market Street, Hebden Bridge.

I’m thrilled with the lineup of authors who are willingly donating their time to come along and read, talk about their writing, and sign books (that’s right – we will all have books available on the night). I would like to thank them in advance because I know they will do a great job…Lise Gold, Cari Hunter, Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows.

Thanks to Helen Baron for offering her shop premises as a venue (as well as calming my nerves as the event looms ever closer). And a heartfelt thank you to my publisher, Affinity Rainbow Publications, for sponsoring the event.

Lesbian writers read – and lesbian writers will keep on writing as long as readers, lesbian or otherwise, keep on reading.

lwr_poster

The festival week is packed with a wide variety of performances featuring art, music, dance, comedy, films, speakers, workshops…leading up to a full day of brilliant entertainment on Saturday and the Pink Picnic (including the Pink Pooch Parade) on Sunday. So come along if you can, and enjoy the fun.

hvp_park_banner


4bookmarks

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


 

Ironing…what ironing?

A week ago I was in Chicago at the GCLS Conference knowing that there were only two more days to go. Looking back, seeing various posts on social media, I’m sadly aware of all the people I didn’t meet. Where did the time go? Not nearly enough time to talk to everyone.

Once the conference starts on Wednesday afternoon the time just flies by. I took part in two readings and a panel, went to some other readings and panels – and spent any available time at the Affinity Rainbow Publications vendor table, selling books and talking to anyone who stopped by. 

I did manage to venture out of the hotel on the Tuesday before the conference started. The main aim of the trip was to visit the American Writers Museum. And it was fascinating – very modern with innovative and interactive displays, but I couldn’t resist a nostalgic trip down memory lane, sitting at one of the old typewriters, listening to the sound of the keys hitting the paper.

typing

American Writers Museum

Thanks to Michelle Pond for being my guide to downtown Chicago. It was lovely to just walk along the ‘magnificent mile’ taking in the architecture and landscaping of the city. So much to see and, as with the conference, not nearly enough time to absorb it all.

tower_chicago

Downtown Chicago

I’ve attended two other GCLS conferences and sharing time with my Affinity sisters is always a joy. We have a lot of fun together. Our publisher supplied us with a denim shirt each to showcase the new logo. The shirts drew a lot of positive comments and we could have sold some if they had been available.

affinity_gcls2017

From left to right: Angela Koenig, Renee MacKenzie, Annette Mori, Ali Spooner, and Jen Silver

We talked to everyone who stopped by our vendor table even if they didn’t want to buy books. And to those who did, a heartfelt ‘thank you’! I was especially pleased that my latest book, Running From Love, sold out.

bookcover_logo

I read an excerpt from Chapter One in the Author Spotlight session on Friday morning:

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.

This wasn’t quite the homecoming Sam had anticipated. Maybe Beth was bringing home a takeaway. Sam sank into the recliner in the living room and kicked off her shoes. She closed her eyes.

The sound of a car door closing jerked her awake. She had been on the verge of dropping into a deep sleep.

Sam stood and stretched. She hoped Beth had picked up something tasty. The snack she’d had on the plane had been hours ago and her stomach was rumbling. Beth came into the room, still wearing her coat. She looked drained. It must have been a particularly bad class today. Sam smiled and moved towards her. “Hey, it’s good to be home. But I hope you’ve brought some food. I’m starving.”

“Sorry. I haven’t…”

“Okay. We can go out. The Thai won’t be too busy on a Thursday.”

Beth held up her hands to stop Sam embracing her. “I need to talk to you.”

“Sure, okay. Where’s Hermy, anyway?”

“Where she always is when you’re away for more than two days.”

“Oh, pigging it out at Barb’s, I suppose.” “No. She’s in a cattery.”
“What?”
“It’s very nice. She likes it there.”

“No way! She’ll be screaming the place down. How could you?” Sam stared at Beth. It was like looking at a stranger, not the woman she’d shared the last fourteen years with.

“Sam, sit down, please. There’s something I have to tell you.” “Something worse than abandoning our baby in a cattery?” “Um, well, yes. I’m leaving.”
“L…leaving?”

“Well, I’ve left, actually. I didn’t want to just leave you a note.”

Sam sat down again. Beth perched on the edge of the sofa.

“Why?” Feeling like she was trapped in a nightmare, Sam’s heart was pounding wildly.

‘I’ve met someone.”

“I see. And how long has this been going on?”

“Six months.”

Tears threatened. Sam could feel the prickling behind her eyes. It made sense now. The extra hours at work, going in on Saturdays sometimes, preparation for inspections, workshops on lesson planning.

Beth started to speak again. “It just sort of happened. You’ve been away so much recently.”

“After all the time we’ve been together, this just started to bother you?” Sam sniffed, determined not to cry. “Fourteen years. And those vows you made less than two years ago? Those meant nothing to you? Because I meant every word.” Her anger was building now.

“I’m sorry. I can’t explain it.”

“And who is she? This wife stealer?”

Beth looked away and said softly, “Lydia.”

“Lydia,” Sam repeated. “Lydia. Carmichael.”
“Yes.”
“So, you’re fucking the head teacher. Good move. Guess you’ll get that head of department job after all.”

“Sam, I…”

“Oh, don’t! I can’t bear to hear any more. Just get out!”

Beth pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket. “This is where Hermy is. I’ve paid the bill. They’ll be open tomorrow at nine.”

Sam closed her eyes, not wanting to watch the love of her life walk out on her. “Leave your keys.”

She slumped back into the cushions on the sofa. Heard the keys drop onto the table, waited for the footsteps to recede, the front door to close, and the car to drive off…then the tears came.

When she opened her eyes again, the room was dark. She groped around for the lamp’s switch. The circle of light reached across to the table in front of her. Beth’s keys lay on top of the cattery invoice. And next to them a ring; the twin of the one on her finger. The ring they had chosen together. The ring engraved with “Forever yours, Beth and Sam, 1 April 2014”.

April Fools’ Day. They had joked about it at the time but figured it was a date they would always be able to remember.

So the GCLS Conference is over and it’s back to the real world. Plenty to occupy me here at home…but I think I can ignore that pile of ironing for another day or two.


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


 

GCLS 2017

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

(from The Walrus and The Carpenter in Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, 1972)

I’m sure over the next week many things will be talked about at the GCLS Conference in Chicago—possibly not any of the above.

Once upon a time I memorised all the verses of The Walrus and The Carpenter, as well as The Hunting of the Snark. That’s the kind of thing some of us did in the days before our time was taken up playing online games and checking social media alerts.

Anyway, I’m not planning on reciting what little I can remember from either of those two excellent works by Lewis Carroll.

However my schedule does include the following:

Tuesday evening: unpacking boxes with a team of volunteers

Wednesday morning:  laying claim to Affinity Rainbow Publications vendor table and generally helping out where I can

Wednesday afternoon: taking part in the Open Mic session where I plan to read from my short story, Con Virgin Convert – which is one of the stories included in the Conference Call anthology edited by Ann Roberts, which will be on sale at the conference – and can now be pre-ordered from Bella Books (available shortly after the conference ends).

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Thursday morning: early doors – 8:30 panel session – Across the Genres, Why I Write What I Write. Our moderator is MJ Lowe and the other panellists are Erica Abbott, Donna K Ford, Catherine Friend, and Bonnie James.

Friday morning: 9:50 Author Spotlight with moderator, Suzie Carr. The other readers are Ann Aptaker, Stefani Deoul, Cheryl A Head, Micheala Lynn, Michelle Reynolds, Kenna White, and Barbara Ann Wright. I will be reading from my latest novel, Running From Love.

Then there is the author signing session, also on Friday from 5:30 to 6:30.

So, it’s looking pretty busy. In between times, I will either be at the Affinity vendor table, or attending other sessions. Then there’s all the excitement surrounding the Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening.

Please do drop by the Affinity table, always good fun and this year Annette Mori, Renee MacKenzie, Ali Spooner and myself are joined by Affinity author and editor, Angela Koenig.

fireballs

Darla made us do it!

Sunday will roll around all too soon and I will be saying goodbye to old friends and new.


6books

Buying Links:

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / 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 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


 

A Tree for All

The theme of this year’s Happy Valley Pride Festival, taking place in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire from 7 to 13 July, is LGBTQ Heroes.

From artwork being produced by local primary school children to a full programme of diverse entertainment throughout the week, we’re celebrating our heroes. This can be anyone from a family member to a celebrity.

As one of the festival’s volunteers, I was asked a few months ago to nominate my hero. It was a tough choice to only name one. But the name that immediately came to mind was, who else, Lee Lynch. Anyone who has been following my blog will know that this person was likely to be my first choice. I wrote a few words to explain why I chose Lee.

“She may not be a well known name in the UK, but Lee Lynch is a writer whose syndicated column, The Amazon Trail, was published in many newspapers across America. A collection of these columns in a book titled, An American Queer, spans four decades of her writing life. Lee has also written novels and the themes of these go back to growing up in 1950s/60s America and what it was like for young LGBTQ people finding their way in a hostile world.”

Happy Valley Pride was also able to get a tree to decorate in the town as part of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

We had great fun decorating it under David Kennedy’s artistic direction. All the names contributed so far have been written up on a postcard and the card laminated. The decorative umbrellas and cards are now hanging from the tree, with more cards being added all the time. If you want to nominate your own hero, just visit the Happy Valley website or Facebook page.

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As we were decorating the tree last Monday a lot of folks stopped by to ask what it was about. Some even wrote out their own postcards to be added. Many people took photos. It is a very photogenic tree.

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And if you’re in the area on Tuesday 27 June, from about 7:30pm, we’re having a tree launch…by the tree to mark an historical moment and remember our LGBTQ Heroes:

“On 27 June 1969 began the Stonewall riot. This pivotal moment became the turning point of the modern gay rights movement. Let’s mark this date with an evening of peaceful reflection and a moment to remember those individuals who you personally feel have made a difference to the perception and acceptance of LGBTQ lives.”

A time for celebration and commemoration…Be Here, Be You, Be Proud!


6books

Buying Links:

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / 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 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

Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US


 

Crime and Plotting

gladstone1

Checking the programme for ‘Alibis in the Archive’

I spent last weekend listening to authors and publishers extolling the virtues of a life of crime at an event held at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, along with eighty other interested people. In mainstream fiction, crime pays. We were told that it is the best selling genre. We even had a presentation on the various ways and means to poison someone. Luckily nowadays you are less likely to get away with it than you were in the nineteenth century when forensic science was an emerging discipline.

libraryseat

The speaker’s platform in the library

I was particularly encouraged though to hear two successful writers admit that they don’t plot their novels ahead of time. These were Ann Cleeves, author of the Vera and Shetland detective novels, and Stella Duffy OBE who has crossed several genres with her books—notably crime and historical.

They were also impassioned presenters, speaking for forty minutes without notes, sharing anecdotes and insights into their thought processes with the audience.

Some members of the audience were astounded to discover that you can write a good crime story without knowing the ending at the start. Ann Cleeves said that when she started writing the first Vera book, The Crow Trap, she didn’t even have the character in mind. She was three chapters into writing the story when someone opened a door and there was Vera.

Stella Duffy is currently working on finishing a Ngaio Marsh novel, Money in the Morgue. Marsh left three and a half chapters and some notes—however with nothing to indicate whodunit or even the names of a lot of the characters. This sounds a rather daunting task but having seen Stella speak, I am sure she is up to the challenge.

I can’t compare myself to either of the above-mentioned authors, but this is very much how my stories develop. Sometimes the direction a story takes comes as a complete surprise.

For example, when I started writing the second book in the Starling Hill Trilogy, Arc Over Time, this scene in Chapter Two came out of nowhere and put a whole different spin on how Jasmine Pepper’s character was going to develop.

Just walking up the road to Max’s house was a thrill. This was a part of London she could only dream about living in. Her parents had helped her pay the deposit on her small garden flat in Stoke Newington and she was still paying off the mortgage ten years later.

She stopped outside the large white Georgian house, the engorged purple flowers of the climbing wisteria vine hanging lusciously over the front door. Taking a deep breath, Jas lifted the brass knocker but the door opened before it fell back in place.

“Ms. Pepper. Please come in.” The speaker was dressed in a maid’s outfit, although a more risqué version than any worn by those employed at nearby royal palaces. When the maid turned to lead her down the hall, Jas got a view of the young woman’s bare cheeks. She swallowed nervously. What was she letting herself in for?

Max was leaning against the fireplace in the large sitting room where the scantily-clad maid had taken her. The sight of her hostess looking imposingly handsome dressed in a close-fitting tuxedo dispelled her misgivings. Whatever this evening was leading to, it was likely to be more fun than a lonely night in front of the telly watching repeats of Rizzoli & Isles.

Interesting what happens when a door opens.

gladlib

Gladstone’s Library

It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and I can recommend a visit to Gladstone’s Library. I will certainly be keeping an eye on their yearly programme of events as a return visit is definitely on the cards sometime in the not too distant future.


6books

Buying Links:

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / 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 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

Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US


 

Summer of love…GCLS and Happy Valley Pride

June is proving to be a busy month.

GCLS 2017

I’m getting geared up for my next adventure—attending the Golden Crown Literary Society conference in Chicago. This will be my third time at the conference. The first two—New Orleans in 2015 and Washington DC in 2016— were pretty amazing. How could they not be – with so many lesbians in one place!

I expect this one will be just as exciting…a chance to meet up with old friends and new. If you’re at the conference this year, please stop by the Affinity Rainbow Publications table. We’re a friendly bunch and always happy to talk with anyone who comes along—you don’t have to buy a book (really!!). The Affinity authors hanging out there with me this year are Ali Spooner, Annette Mori, Renee MacKenzie and Angela Koenig.

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Two illustrious visitors who stopped by our table last year!

Amidst the serious business of readings, workshops, keynote speeches, book signings, and awards, there’s always time for fun and laughter…and hugs if Beth Burnett is anywhere in the vicinity. As she can tell you, I was a bit hug-averse at my first conference. But at the end of three and a half days, Beth told me my hug-ability had improved 110%. Not bad for a reserved Brit.

This year I’m on a panel moderated by MJ Lowe, entitled: Across the Genres: why I write what I write. My fellow panelists are Erica Abbott, Donna K Ford, Catherine Friend, and Bonnie James. We’re scheduled for the first session at 8:30 on Thursday, 6 July…so, set your alarms and bring coffee!

The Author Spotlight groupings have just been released and the group I’m with has the 10:10 slot on Friday. It’s going to be amazing…Suzie Carr is moderating and it’s an enticing line-up…Ann Aptaker, Stefani Deoul, Cheryl A Head, Micheala Lynn, Michelle Reynolds, Kenna White, and Barbara Ann Wright. I’ve started practicing reading, as I don’t want to mess up in front of anyone here, plus I know how strict they are with the five-minute timings for each reader.

Happy Valley Pride Festival

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Then just one month after I get back home from Chicago, it’s time for the second annual Happy Valley Pride Festival in my own backyard, Hebden Bridge. This is a whole week of LGBT fun. And this year we have a special event titled “Lesbian Writers Read” sponsored by Affinity Rainbow Publications.

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I didn’t have to twist their arms very hard…absolutely thrilled that these four UK authors will be joining me to read from their books…Lise Gold, Cari Hunter, Robyn Nyx, and Brey Willows…on Tuesday, 8 August from 7 to 9pm at the Ribbon Circus. Check out the Happy Valley Pride website which will have regular updates between now and the start of the Festival to let everyone know about all the great events happening during the week.

New book release

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And finally, I guess I should mention that my latest novel was released last week. Running From Love was certainly a labour of love, as I managed to combine writing about two of my favourite things…romance and golf. Sure to be a winning combination! You can read the first chapter on the Affinity website.


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Buying Links:

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / 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 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

Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US


 

Golf and romance

Golf isn’t just a game played by retired colonels and rich widows. A lot of lesbians play golf. We have a small ‘ladies’ section at the club I belong to – out of the 30 women who play regularly, at least seven of them are lesbians.

The straight women don’t mind. The married ones know we’re not interested in their husbands, and the widows know we’re not competing for the attentions of any available men.

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Bad hair day on the course – it looks like I have horns!

So when I was writing Running From Love  I wanted to portray the game as something that can be enjoyed without gender or sexual orientation bias. While I am well aware that not all golf clubs in the UK are compliant with equality and some are downright sexist, I know from my own personal experience that there are clubs that manage to get it right.

Running From Love is, essentially, a romance. But there is a golf theme as well. All the protagonists end up at a newly opened golf resort in Cornwall to learn how to play the game.

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Back of the Book

Sam Wade returns home from a business trip to discover her wife of just two years has left her for another woman. Beth, a high school teacher, wants a divorce so she can settle down with her new (closeted) love, head teacher Lydia Carmichael.

To take her mind off the break-up Sam accepts an assignment to learn to play golf at the newly opened Temperley Cliffs Golf Resort in Cornwall. Beth and Lydia also plan their first summer holiday together.

Coming out, at whatever stage in one’s life, is never easy. Several characters in the story have to make decisions that will affect not just their respective partners but also how the wider world sees them. There is more than one way to run from love; from never having to make a commitment and say those magical three words, “I love you”.

Find out what happens when this diverse group of people find themselves together—sport, betrayal, jealousy, and love form an unforgettable fusion of emotions.

So, whether or not you’ve ever thought of playing golf, or think it’s just for people with nothing better to do with their lives than chase a small ball around a field, maybe this book will change your mind. Or maybe, you can just enjoy the romance and forget the golf.


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The books are available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon, Bella Books, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Apple iTunes.


 

Stepping back in time

It does feel like going back in time, stepping onto the site at Vindolanda or any of the fort sites available to view on Hadrian’s Wall. Tomorrow I will be there again as I mentioned in last week’s blog.

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Seeing this photo brings to mind thoughts of my first three published novels, now known as the Starling Hill Trilogy. I really hadn’t expected to write a trilogy. Starting Over, my debut novel, was complete in itself. But when I thought about what to write next, it was clear to me that there was more to explore… particularly in the development of the budding relationship between Professor Kathryn Moss and the journalist, Denise Sullivan.

They didn’t get off to the best of starts in the first book, and although they both claimed they were fine with a long distance relationship, when I started writing the second book it was obvious that wasn’t an arrangement Den was going to be happy with for much longer.

I’ve been told that the second book, Arc Over Time, hasn’t proved to be as popular as the first book because readers didn’t like Kathryn. I’m sorry about that, not because I desperately crave more sales, but because I have a soft spot for her. She’s not the easiest person to get along with and she doesn’t even have the only child excuse for not having learned at an early age how to socialise. Archaeology was a good career choice for her, dealing with the detritus left behind by people who lived thousands of years ago.

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It was after I had taken part in my first dig at Vindolanda that I wrote this for inclusion in the story, to give some explanation as to why Kathryn did choose her profession:

Deciding to use her free Sunday for a busman’s holiday, she had made the hour-long journey from her hotel to visit some of her favourite archaeological sites. From Vercovicium it was only a mile or so to Vindolanda. The ongoing excavations there were always fascinating as each year they uncovered more artefacts from the second and third centuries and incredibly, more of the writing tablets that had given historians valuable insights into the everyday lives of the soldiers and their families here on the furthest frontier of the Roman empire.

Walking amongst the ruins she was reminded of the many Sundays during her childhood spent roaming the moors above Sheffield with her father, often venturing into the Peak District. Her first sight of a stone circle had inflamed her imagination and she was hooked then. Luckily her father shared her passion for the early history of the British Isles. She had moved through the ages and finally settled on the Roman period as her favourite. When it came to choosing a future path, it was archaeology that beckoned.

Later on, in the third book, Carved in Stone, Kathryn and Den’s relationship is still in a state of flux. Den proposed to Kathryn at the end of Arc Over Time and in book three she moves to Durham to live with her. It’s a period of adjustment for both of them and at one point Kathryn attempts to explain her unease with the situation:

They stood facing each other. As usual, Den was finding it hard to gauge Kathryn’s mood. The professor broke the silence after a few minutes.

“Den. I’m sorry. This marriage thing. It’s going to take me some time to get used to the idea. I just never thought this was something I would have to even consider. I always thought it was one of the bonuses of being a lesbian. And now, just because we can, it doesn’t mean we have to. Lots of straight couples just live together…”

“I know. I never thought about getting married before either. When it wasn’t an option, I didn’t think it was important.”

“What’s changed?”

“I’ve met someone I want to spend the rest of my life with, and I want people to know. To show the world that our relationship is just as valid as anyone else’s.”

Kathryn twisted the ring off her finger. “I want to be with you, Den. But we both know I’m not ready for this step. Take this and ask me again at Christmas, if you still want to by then, that is.”

Den tucked the ring away to an inside pocket of her jacket. She pulled Kathryn close and whispered, “I will always want you.” Their lips met and Den was overwhelmed by the intensity of Kathryn’s response, her teeth opening to accept her tongue.

I enjoyed writing the second and third books of the trilogy, and I hope in time, they may appeal to a wider audience.

Meanwhile, it’s back to digging into the past for the next two weeks.

lastday


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Buying options for ebooks:

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 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

Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US