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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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


 

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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.

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Darla made us do it!

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


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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


 

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.

Rainbow logo

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


 

GCLS firsts

In just over a week’s time I will be setting off to the GCLS Conference, held in Washington DC this year.

Last year, I attended the conference in New Orleans. I was a ‘Con Virgin’ at that event—so I can now say I lost my virginity in NOLA.

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Last year’s ‘Con Virgin’

GCLS 2015 saw many ‘firsts’ for me…first public reading, first signing of my books in public, first panel discussions, first time in New Orleans (and, of course, first hugs from Beth Burnett).

I expect I will feel just as nervous when it comes to doing the reading in the Author Spotlight session this year. I can only hope I remember to breath this time and don’t lose my voice part way through.

This year, sees another first—being asked to be a presenter at the Awards Ceremony. That sounds like fun as well as a tremendous honour. (Note to self: don’t trip on the way up to the podium)

My conference timetable:

Tuesday evening: check out the Affinity table in the Vendor Room

Wednesday morning: meet up with Affinity authors to set up the table with a wonderful array of books, t-shirts, bookmarks and other promo items.

Wednesday afternoon: Author Spotlight from 2:00 to 3:00, reading from The Circle Dance

Thursday evening: Helping to host the Affinity authors’ dinner

Friday afternoon: Author signing session

Saturday morning: Taking part in The Politics of Poetry Panel from 9:40 to 10:30

Saturday afternoon: Dry run for Awards Presenters from 3:30 to 3:45

Saturday evening: Attending the Awards Ceremony and probably avoiding dancing if at all possible.

I don’t know if it’s a first for my publisher, Affinity eBooks, but they have four finalists in this year’s award categories – listed here in no particular order:

Requiem for Vukovar by Angela Koenig in Dramatic/General Fiction

The Presence by Charlene Neil in Paranormal/Horror

Locked Inside by Annette Mori in Traditional Contemporary Romance

Locked Inside cover by Nancy Kaufman for the Tee Corinne Outstanding Cover Design Award

Keeping everything crossed for all our finalists – and congratulations whatever the outcome as there’s a lot of talent on show here.

Affinity_and_beyond

Aiming for ‘Affinity and beyond’ – with Annette Mori and Ali Spooner (sorry, no pic of Renee MacKenzie again – she wasn’t hiding – just seated at the other end of the table)

In between times I can likely be found at the Affinity Vendor table. Please stop by, even if you don’t want to buy any books. We’re a friendly bunch and love talking to people. As I think I’ve mentioned before, Affinity is being represented this year by Ali Spooner, Annette Mori, Renee MacKenzie and myself.

I also plan to take in a few other conference sessions when I can as well as trying to fit in some sightseeing, so these few days are going to pass very quickly, I feel. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone I met last year, plus others I didn’t. I’m not looking forward to Sunday when it’s time to say goodbye again.

The last item on my itinerary is for Sunday afternoon and beyond when the post-conference withdrawal symptoms start to surface. The best way to banish these feelings is to start planning to attend the 2017 conference in Chicago.


Another first closer to home is seeing my books on the ‘Books to buy’ shelf of one of the local cafés. The paperbacks are also available in the Book Case, the independent book store in Hebden Bridge.

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Lots of older lesfic books available at The Mooch Café in Hebden Bridge – and some newer Jen Silver books!

 

Also last week, not a first, but my second Book Clip appeared on The Lesbian Talk Show podcast site – a reading from the first book in The Starling Hill Trilogy, Starting Over. (All the LTS podcasts are available on Podbean, iTunes and Stitcher – and well worth a listen.)


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The Jen Silver Collection

Where to buy:

The Circle Dance: Affinity 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 in Washington DC

Counting the days…has it really been almost a year since last year’s GCLS Conference in New Orleans?

GCLS-signing

GCLS 2015 – Author signing

I feel the time is passing quickly and July 6 will be upon us very shortly. Especially now that I’ve checked the schedules and discovered that I’m on the very first Author Spotlight session on the Wednesday afternoon. So after you’ve registered, caught up with friends and met new ones, you’ll be able to listen to me and three other authors reading from our books. I’m thrilled to be in the same session with Jane DiLucchio, MB Panichi, and Chris Parsons. I think it’s quite an eclectic mix of writing styles. And Catherine Maiorisi has the moderator’s job of keeping us in line.

On the Saturday morning, I’m taking part in The Politics of Poetry panel. When my friend and moderator for this panel, E M Hodge, asked if I would be willing to participate, I was rather hesitant. I’m not a poet and I there’s not anything I know about politics that I would like to share in a public forum. But now the full line up has been revealed, I can relax. Jewelle Gomez is on this panel. Jewelle Gomez! I think the rest of us should just sit back and let her do the talking. Who wants to hear what I might have to say about the politics of poetry when you can listen to Jewelle Gomez?

I thought nothing could top last year’s GCLS with the abundance of lesbian icons in attendance…Dorothy Allison, Lee Lynch, Rita Mae Brown, J M Redmann. But the GCLS conference organisers have done it again. If anyone’s not sure about the value of attending a GCLS conference, just take a look at the line up. As well as the aforementioned Jewelle, there are authors I’ve admired from afar for many years…Katherine V Forrest, Karin Kallmaker, Lee Lynch, Radclyffe, Georgia Beers, Fay Jacobs…to name a few.

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Annette Mori, Jen Silver and Ali Spooner with C.d. Cain – who we had obviously coerced into buying our books, but she’s still smiling!

In the not-so-famous corner, Ali Spooner, Annette Mori, Renee MacKenzie, and myself are representing Affinity eBooks at the conference this year. Please come along and talk to us at the Affinity book table. We will have some super swag to give away…plus an awesome range of books for you to buy. (Apologies – no photo of Renee here – she was probably wrestling with an alligator somewhere.)

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The Jen Silver collection


Where to buy my books:

The Circle Dance: Affinity 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 / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

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

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

A Dedication

As a reader I never used to pay much attention to dedications in books. It was likely to be the author’s wife, husband, children…maybe just a name, maybe a few words of appreciation.

Now, that I’m seeing my work in print, I do give these more consideration. With my first three published novels, I followed the usual pattern…Book 1, my wife, Book 2, my mother, Book 3, my best friend. Book 4, however, was different. It’s dedicated to a cat. I haven’t run out of close relatives or friends but there is a reason for this departure from the norm.

The Circle Dance is a lesbian romance but there is one very important male character, Stevie. He’s a black cat and very much loved by the couple he owns, Jamie and Sasha. However, when they split up, Sasha gets everything…new girlfriend, new house, and Stevie. Jamie has nothing and is attempting to rebuild her life in a different town living in rented accommodation, low-paid job, riding a bicycle to work (Sasha took the car as well).

As one of the other characters notes, Jamie would probably have coped better with the whole breakup trauma if she’d been able to keep Stevie. (SPOILER ALERT: Jamie and Stevie are reunited during the story.)

Anyway, back to the story behind the dedication for this book. I was standing in line at the GCLS 2015 conference waiting for the registration desk to open and someone said “Hello”. When I turned around I was face to face with Sandra Moran. I’d never met her before, only via Facebook, but there she was… the tallness, the hair, the smile…in person. Amazingly, she recognised me as well. After exchanging comments about the weather (she must have had some British genes), I offered my condolences for her cat Spencer who had died only a few weeks earlier. She was quite moved that a virtual stranger would have remembered Spencer but, like many other people, I was a “friend” of Spencer’s on Facebook and enjoyed the banter Sandra created between them.

What came out of my mouth next was a surprise to me as I hadn’t planned to say it. I told her that my latest novel, due to be published in early 2016, featured a black cat and that Spencer had been the inspiration for him. I went on to say that if she didn’t mind I would like to dedicate the book to Spencer.

Now, I’d only just met this woman and already caused emotional upset. Luckily, in a good way. Not only was she delighted with this idea, but she offered to let me use one of Spencer’s poems in the dedication.

When I talked to my publisher about this, they said that was fine as long as I obtained Sandra’s written permission to use the poem.

To make a long story longer, when I got back from New Orleans, I emailed Sandra to check she was still okay with this idea. She replied right away and sent me three poems so I could choose the one that I thought most suitable.

During our email correspondence I mentioned that the couple in the story had named their cat after Stevie Nicks, thinking he was female when they picked him up from the cat rescue place. She then told me that the same thing had happened with Spencer who spent the first month of his life with them being called Annie. (Another amazing connection – one of the characters in the book is called Annie.)

Anyway, I selected a poem and she duly sent me permission to “reprint Spencer’s truly awful poetry”.

This exchange of emails was in August 2015. Neither of us knew then that Sandra’s life would come to an abrupt end just over two months later. Whatever fates led me to that moment in New Orleans, I’m grateful that I had the chance to make that connection with Sandra, albeit briefly. The dedication in the book is as much for her as for Spencer. (And also for black cats everywhere.)

In doing some research for another book I read that in Norse mythology, Asgard, the home of the gods, is accessed by crossing the rainbow bridge. I like to think that both Sandra and Spencer made that crossing and are enjoying each other’s company again. Sandra will have introduced Thor and all the gods and goddesses to the art of moraning and Spencer will be free to continue writing “truly awful poetry”.


Note: My wife and I don’t have any pets as we’re both highly allergic. However, we have at times enjoyed the company of cats who have visited. As Sandra demonstrated with her photos of Spencer, black cats are quite difficult to photograph well. When we lived in London our neighbour’s cat, Sooty, was a regular visitor and I delved into our old photo albums to find these only two pictures we have of him.

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Sooty in the garden

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Sooty on the window ledge


Book links for The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks/Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Ebook links for The Starling Hill Trilogy (still available on Kindle Unlimited):

Starting Over: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Arc Over Time: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Carved in Stone: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Plans for 2016…or no plans?


laluna

Some writers are very disciplined and actually have a proper plan of what they are going to achieve each year.

My writing career has so far been of a more organic nature. In other words, I’m making it up as I go along.

I started along the path of being a published author in the middle of 2014 when Affinity accepted my manuscript for Starting Over. (How we got to this point is pretty well described in this first guest blog I did for Women & Words).

Suddenly I found that it wasn’t just about writing. Along with the publishing process of editing and making decisions on cover artwork – there was also the job of keeping up with Facebook posts, writing blogs, and generally trying to make a name for myself.

So for most of 2014 and all of 2015, I didn’t have a plan at all. Things happened. I knew that I would be attending the GCLS Conference and as well as doing a reading there, I had volunteered to be on two panels. These were firsts for me.

An invitation to be part of the inaugural Lesbian Authors Festival at a venue closer to home was unexpected. The Hideaway Café in Urmston (Manchester, UK) provided an excellent opportunity for seven authors to read, answer questions and sell a few books. (Plus they had awesome cakes!)

Having a hysterectomy wasn’t part of any plan and I only discovered that I needed to have one a few days after the Hideaway Café event. Luckily the operation went well and I’m now on the road to recovery (and, no, I won’t be posting photos of my scar – although it is very neat).

To help with promotion, as well as participating in author Q&A sessions on Facebook, I’ve done guest blogs on the Women and Words and UK Lesfic sites and taken part in several online interviews, including a podcast. I would like to thank the interviewers for their time and effort: Lynn Lawler, Fiona McVie and Clare Lydon. (Links to the blogs and interviews are on the ‘Guest Appearances’ page.)

2016 promises to be another busy year. I have two books, possibly three due for publication. The first of these is Book 3 of the Starling Hill Trilogy. Carved in Stone completes the journey undertaken in Starting Over and Arc Over Time. Book 3 is being released on Valentine’s Day – so make a note in your new diaries – 14 February 2016. Although each book can be read as a standalone, I think readers will enjoy the story more if they read all three (well, I would think that, wouldn’t I?).

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Christmas promo for Books 1 and 2 of The Starling Hill Trilogy

Another book, due out in March, is a completely new story with different characters and is called The Circle Dance. No archaeology in this one, but there is a nod or two to the surfeit of stone circles in the UK. You don’t have to go far to find one here. Not all as magnificent as Stonehenge, but compelling evidence of an ancient culture’s communication network. That’s one theory, anyway. The circles are thought to be the sites of ritualistic gatherings – I prefer to think of them as precursors to the modern pub and that maybe the people who met at these places just sat around and told each other stories. (A lot of people are out celebrating the winter solstice at Stonehenge today.)

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Met Office photo of Stonehenge

A third novel due for publication in 2016, title to be confirmed, is scheduled for later in the year as it has a Christmas theme.

So, there will be more promoting to do for each of these books. So far the only event I’m planning to attend is the GCLS Conference in Washington, DC. I’m looking forward to meeting up with many of the people I met in New Orleans as well as meeting those I didn’t have a chance (or time) to talk to then.

Will 2016 be any different in terms of planning? I somehow doubt it. I will continue to make it up as I go along. Having to undergo a major operation, the timing of which coincided with the terribly sad and sudden passing of Sandra Moran, has left me with the notion that I can only take each day as it comes. And to appreciate each day fully – which is easy to forget in the midst of everyday occurrences.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday, however you celebrate at this time of year…I wish there was more peace and love in the world, but perhaps we can all just do our bit wherever we are and hope it spreads.

 


 

Publications:

Arc Over Time – available from Affinity eBook Press /Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords / iTunes

Starting Over – available from Affinity eBook Press / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / iTunes.

Short Stories

There Was a Time and The Christmas Sweepstake – both available FREE on the Affinity website

October thoughts – a lot of firsts

I love this time of year with the change of seasons, as the trees start to change colour and we sometimes have crisp clear days as in this (yet another canal photo) picture I took during my walk on the first day of October.

Willow tree on canal

A year has passed quickly with many personal milestones. On 1st October  2014, my debut novel was published. Along with the thrill of seeing my work in print, came a whole new set of things to worry about:

Would anyone buy my book?

Would readers like it?

Would reviewers like it?

The sales for Starting Over went well but I quickly got caught up in the newbie author habit of checking my Amazon ranking every day. I’ve now weaned myself off this – down to once a week. The book currently has 19 reviews on Amazon US and 11 on Amazon UK. I’m incredibly grateful to all who took the time to put reviews there and for the book to have a star rating of 4.8 and 4.4 respectively.

There were many ‘firsts’ for me during the months that followed publication. Having the book nominated in two Golden Crown Literary Award categories – Debut Author and Traditional Contemporary Romance; writing my first guest blogs for Women and Words and UK Lesfic websites with book giveaways, signing my first book, attending the GCLS Conference in New Orleans – meeting the Affinity team, including many of their other authors;  two public readings, one at GCLS and one nearer home in Manchester; and taking part in a radio-style interview with Clare Lydon (which has had at the time of posting this, 727 plays).

Author signing session at GCLS

My second book was published in May 2015 – Arc Over Time, a sequel to the first. Sales-wise it hasn’t been as successful as the first book, but all the reviewers and also readers who have contacted me via Facebook, have loved it. With a 4.8 star rating on both the US and UK Amazon sites, it seems to have hit the spot with those who have read it.

So, with the above questions answered, I have managed to keep writing – with two books scheduled to come out next year and the first draft of another book coming along nicely.

And I haven’t mentioned the two short stories that were published last year – another first was the publication of There Was A Time which came out a month before Starting Over, and then there was my contribution to the Affinity 2014 Christmas Collection – some fun in space with The Christmas Sweepstake –and possibly a third story coming up in the next Affinity anthology.

Along with these other firsts – the pleasure of seeing my book on the shelf of our local independent bookstore, The Book Case in Hebden Bridge. (And they’ve even sold a few copies!)

Book Case shelf

When I retired two years ago, I couldn’t have imagined any of this. I thought I would be spending most of my time playing golf, shooting arrows and going on holidays with my lovely wife. I am, just about, managing to fit these activities in as my writing life continues to expand. Retirement, it seems, it just another word for finally getting to do what I’ve always wanted to do – be a full time author.

I’ll keep writing – and I hope you will keep reading!


Books:

Arc Over Time – available from Affinity eBook Press /Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords / iTunes

Starting Over – available from Affinity eBook Press / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / iTunes.

Short Stories

There Was a Time and The Christmas Sweepstake – both available FREE on the Affinity website

A time for literary festivals

The experience of attending the 2015 GCLS Conference has left me wanting more. It was such a wonderful few days of sharing – not just our love of books but also a sense of community and acceptance—a time of meetings on many different levels. (Selection of photos below)

So, I’m thrilled to have been invited to be part of the inaugural Lesbian Authors Festival at the Hideaway Café in Urmston (Manchester UK). This is the brainchild of the Sponge Sisters (as Cari Hunter has helpfully pointed out – this means they make cakes, not take baths). An afternoon of readings, discussions, book signings…with cake…is scheduled for 12 September starting at 2pm. The authors lined up along with myself are: Cari Hunter, Karen Campbell, I Beacham, Veronica Fearon, Michelle Grubb and the recent winner of a Goldie, Andrea Bramhall who received an award for Best Lesbian Romance for her book, Nightingale, at this year’s conference.

Hideaway Cafe

Please come along if you are in the area. The Café’s Festival also includes displays of work by local artists plus live music…oh, and cake. (Facebook page link – check here for updated info and location details)

It may be no coincidence that the Hideaway Café’s Festival precedes the Manchester Literature Festival which runs from 12 to 25 October – with a number of preview events being held in September. The MLF features a high profile lesbian presence with talks by Jeannette Winterson, Val McDermid, and our poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. And that’s just a small part of a programme that has 85 events to choose from including workshops, performances and tours.


Photos from GCLS (I didn’t take many – too busy doing something I didn’t’ think came naturally to me – talking to people, taking part in readings and panels…and enjoying it all!)

Reading from Starting Over Beignets With Annette Mori With Erin O'Reilly, Annette Mori and Ali Spooner

Ready to sign books

Affinity authors Final day - packing up

…until next year! Hope to see you there…


Romance abounds in these two books:

Arc Over Time, released by Affinity eBooks in May 2015 – available from Affinity eBooks /Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords / iTunes

My debut novel, Starting Over – available from Affinity eBook PressAmazonBarnes & NobleBella Books,Smashwords, and iTunes.

A Conference with a View

My first GCLS Conference and what a fantastic experience! The words and photos on this blog barely begin to describe the effect of the time spent in New Orleans.

When I first saw the programme for this event last August, I didn’t hesitate to book. Dorothy Allison’s name jumped out and grabbed me. I’ve read all her books and although my life experiences have been nothing like hers, the power of her writing drew me in. What I didn’t expect when I attended the reading she gave, was the extra dynamics she could project – taking the words from the page and giving them life. That and her keynote speech were the exceptional highlights of the conference for me.

Dorothy

There were other wonderful times throughout the three and a half days (not nearly long enough) – meeting people, taking part in panels and even doing a reading of my own.

Another reason for making the long trip from the UK was the opportunity to meet my publisher and other Affinity authors for the first time. We are a diverse group with the others having come from Australia, New Zealand, as well as covering most of the United States from Washington State to Florida and places in-between—but we bonded well and had a great time getting to know each other. There was a lot of laughter.

Nancy did a great job with the table display, so I couldn’t resist having my photo taken with it on the first day. Many thanks to everyone who stopped by the Affinity table to talk with us and buy books.

table1

The city of New Orleans is fascinating and I was pleased to have a room with a view, looking down on the Mississippi River. I could have sat and watched the ships going past all day. Only being there for a week and spending most of that time in the hotel, I didn’t see a lot of the city, but what I did see was delightful. Great to see that Katrina hadn’t succeeded in destroying the vibrant spirit of the people who live and work there.

shipping

My wife didn’t come with me but she had a bottle of Champagne delivered to my room when I arrived. Not wanting to drink alone, I shared this with some of the Affinity crew by way of celebrating completing my first public reading session without falling over, although I did start to lose my voice part way through. (And a kind woman in the audience brought me a glass of water.)

champagne

Affinity eBook Press is celebrating their 5th year in publishing and with nine authors present for this event, they pushed the boat out (pun intended) in hospitality terms. And these women can party! I’m a lightweight on the drinking front and was in awe when Erin O’Reilly and J M Dragon downed their Fireballs in one. (I think several more were consumed after I’d gone to bed.) Saturday night there was cause for further celebration when ‘The One’ by J M Dragon received a Goldie Award.

drinking

Heartfelt thanks to the GCLS for their professional organisation of such a fantastic event. I met some lovely people and look forward to the developing of friendships through social media until we have the chance to meet again in person.


My books:

Arc Over Time – available from Affinity eBooks /Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords / iTunes

Starting Over – available from Affinity eBook Press / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / iTunes.