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


 

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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.


 

Number 6 is on its way!

My next novel is due for release on 1st June. It’s hard for me to get my head around the fact that when this book comes out, I will have six published books to my name in the space of a little under three years. I’m not sure I can keep up this pace but the thing is, writing is an addiction. If I’m not working on a novel nowadays, I miss it.

So, I guess I’ll keep writing and see what happens.

This is the cover for the new book, Running From Love. There is a golfing theme, but I hope this won’t put non-golfers off reading it. As the title and the cover suggest, there’s a fair bit of romance as well.

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Back of the Book description:

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—and sport, betrayal, jealousy, and love form an unforgettable fusion of emotions.

As I mention in the Acknowledgments for this book, the initial assessment of Affinity’s beta readers was that there was too much golf, not enough romance. Hopefully I’ve got the balance right now so that whether or not you’ve ever picked up a golf club, you’ll enjoy the story.


On another note, the Affinity logo has had a makeover…the kiwi walked through a rainbow and is now sporting an outline of many colours. So you’ll be seeing the proud kiwi preening itself on forthcoming novels from Affinity Rainbow Publications.

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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


 

On Ilkley Moor…

This was a golfing week for me and my wife – playing four courses in six days. Three of the courses were in North Yorkshire: Rudding Park, Harrogate and Bracken Ghyll near Ilkley.

Bracken Ghyll has fantastic scenery all around with many of the views looking out towards Ilkley Moor.

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Just the name Ilkley brings to mind the well-known folk song, ‘On Ilkla Moor, bar tat’ – which translates from Yorkshire dialect into English as ‘On Ilkley Moor without a hat’. The song goes on to outline the dire consequences of being caught out on the moor without a hat.

I found a use for this song in my latest book, The Circle Dance. One of the characters gets stuck on the moorland above Hebden Bridge when a sudden mist comes down. Phoebe is a crime writer, but has recently branched out into sci-fi/fantasy. Her prospective publisher has suggested some outdoor research might help to inject more atmosphere into her story. Now, while Phoebe isn’t a particularly likeable character, I didn’t want her to die on the moor.

Excerpt from Chapter 8

The mist descended from nowhere. One minute it was a bright, sunny day, the next she couldn’t see past her outstretched hand. The words of the song came into her mind “On Ilkla Moor bar tat,” which ended badly for someone she recalled, dying and getting eaten by worms. And all because they were out on the moor without a hat. She had brought a hat.

Phoebe shrugged the backpack off her shoulders and felt around in the main pocket for the nice red woolly hat with a bobble on top. She’d bought it only the day before in one of the local shops, thinking it might come in handy. It wasn’t an item of headwear she would normally be seen about in. Hat on, she felt better. No point in dying for the lack of a hat. Now she just had to remember which way it was to the road…

…Phoebe leant back against the rock and wondered how long she could survive on the meagre ration of a single pack of Kendal Mint Cake. It tasted vile. Why hadn’t she brought a Mars bar? She struggled out of her boots and sighed with relief. She couldn’t have walked another step with her ankles protesting in agony. She tossed the offending items away. No point dying with her boots on. But she wasn’t going to die. She had a hat.

Bloody Philip Pearlman. “Bring it to life,” he had said. Ha. Find a stone circle, feel the power. What she needed was power all right. A powerful light.

Closing her eyes, she took several deep breaths. Stay calm. Stay in the zone. She’d read that somewhere. One of the self-help books she sometimes bought, thinking they would help. Help with what? Help being a better lover. Maybe that’s why Sasha was running after her ex. What did that computer nerd have that she didn’t?

Well, she wasn’t lost on top of a fucking moor for a start.

Maybe she could find some wood, start a fire. Oh yeah, she hadn’t made it through the first two Brownie sessions without wanting to nut Brown Owl. She was a little light on outdoor skills. She could write, however. Write a light, light a write. Shine a light, had she even remembered to bring a torch? A torch. A flaming piece of wood. With a torch she could set fire to the mist.

What was that bloody poem, one she had to learn in school? Oh yeah, that oft-quoted ode by Keats, “To Autumn.” She spoke the first two lines aloud, just wanting to hear her own voice, “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom-friend of the maturing sun…” All she could remember. That and giggling with her best friend over the word bosom. They thought mellow fruitfulness was pretty funny, too. How old were they? Thirteen.

Survival techniques, books she should have read. It wasn’t too late—she could Google it. She poked her phone and the screen lit up. Her connection with the world, the world of safety. No signal. Damn, damn, damn! She was going to die up here after all. Her epitaph could say—at least she wore a hat.

That girl from Game of Thrones, Arya. She comforted herself in dire situations by reciting the list of people she wanted to kill. Phoebe started with Philip Pearlman, Jamie Steele, the girl in Year 5 who pushed her over in the playground and stole her ice cream—hell, she’d forgotten her name. Her list of real people was too short. She’d have to resort to the fictional characters she killed off in her crime series.

Maybe it was the mint cake. She was starting to see shapes in the dark. Sheep? No, there it was again, just out of reach. Dancing giants, forming a ring of light.

One reviewer said “The strength of this (story) is that whilst there is romance, the whole story is infused with a strong dose of reality. You can believe that these characters could exist and that life rarely works out perfectly, but it can get pretty close for some.”

If you want to find out how things work out for Phoebe, just check out the book links here.


Where to buy my books:

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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

Holiday time

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Valentine’s Day display in the hotel reception area

We’ve had several golf holidays in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands situated in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Africa. It’s a four-hour flight from the UK and the weather in winter is an acceptable temperature – not too hot, but warm enough for shorts and t-shirts.

February is a good time to get away—a welcome break from our winter of continuous rain and a lovely dry course to play on with the ball getting plenty of run. This was important, as I hadn’t played for four months—and it was three months since my hysterectomy operation. I was relieved to find that, not only could I still remember how to hit the ball, but also didn’t experience any pain from the activity.

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I find I can hit the ball (truly amazed at the colour co-ordinated outfit as well!)

Flying in to the airport at Tenerife South, all you can see from the plane is a big rock sticking out of the ocean. It’s hard to believe from the air that there is any greenery on the island at all. But it does have an abundance of flora and fauna. The golf course we played on was surrounded by banana plantations. And the course itself had many mature palm trees and cacti of different shapes and sizes.

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Palm trees everywhere

After four days of golf we decided to have a rest day and took the little train down to the beach. It was a fascinating ride, getting a close up view of the deep fissures cut through the rock by the original volcanic eruption. The beach was a popular place for families, both locals and visitors. I wasn’t quite brave enough to take a plunge into the ocean. It was a yellow flag day – which meant ‘large waves, swim with caution’.

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Beach transport

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Sea view close up!

Although on vacation, I couldn’t resist checking up on social media sites and Amazon. The third book in  The Starling Hill Trilogy was released two days before the holiday. So, I was thrilled to find a few reviews appearing. The Lesbian Review website also started the trilogy giveaway competition on Valentine’s Day…there’s still time to enter – the competition ends on February 29th. All you need to do is visit the website and send in an email to be entered into the draw.

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The trilogy competition – three trilogies are being given away!


 

So, onto the next project. I came home to start on the edits for The Circle Dance – my new romance novel, set for release by Affinity eBook press mid-March. Look out for a cover reveal and teaser in next week’s blog.


 

Book links for The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting Over: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Arc Over Time: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Carved in Stone: Amazon US / Amazon UK

(All three books are available on Kindle Unlimited for the next 3 months)

Celebrating the ‘playpen’

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I’m a member of a golf club. And contrary to popular belief amongst non-golfers, that doesn’t mean I’m a posh git with more money than sense. For one thing, the club is at a municipal course – so the annual membership fee is on a modest scale…not the price of a new Mercedes. (Okay, so non-golfers, feel free to leave out the ‘posh’ and make a comment about ‘a good walk wasted’.)

I mention this because while I was recuperating from my recent hysterectomy operation I received Get Well cards from some of the women in the club.

When I read the handwritten message in the one from our current oldest member (80), I was in danger of bursting my stitches. She’d had this operation many years before and apparently a nurse told her: “Don’t worry, dear…the cradle is gone, but the playpen’s still there.”

I was thinking about her the other day, not just because the comment in her card still makes me smile, but mainly with all the talk about the film ‘Carol’ and the fuss about it not being nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. (Hollywood misogyny – or just plain old fear of celebrating lesbians living happily ever after?)

Anyway, my 80 year old golf friend would have grown up in the post-World War II era and lived her whole life with the understanding that you didn’t talk about your sexuality. Although I know she’s a lesbian and she knows I am, we’ve never discussed it. It’s not something we mention while chasing that little ball around a field or in the bar after the round.

However, she has now discovered lesfic. And I’m proud to say it is through me. A surprising (to me, anyway) number of straight women at the club have read my books. And one of them passed on her paperback copies to this older woman.

Before I went into hospital I got a phone call from her. She’d looked at the ‘Other Books’ section at the end of one of my books and asked if she would be able to buy any of these in a bookstore. I told her they could only be ordered online and as she doesn’t have a computer, I could do that for her.

Well, I haven’t heard from her since she received those three books. There were fairly explicit sex scenes in one of them, so maybe she’s busy. After all, she still has a ‘playpen’.

Right, well on that note, I’m going to sign off. Maybe go to the driving range and see if I can remember how to hit a ball.


 

The Oscars usually pass me by as I don’t know many of the films, but this year I will be rooting for the Shaun the Sheep movie to win Best Animated Film. As for Carol, my prediction is that it will win the Best Costume Design award. (This will no doubt be a revelation for those in Hollywood who still think lesbians only wear dungarees and check shirts – so it’s a breakthrough of sorts.)


 

Coming soon: Book III of The Starling Hill Trilogy (and the re-release of the first two books)

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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.

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

A Holiday in the Sun

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Taking a break from writing – it’s time for our annual golf week in Portugal – which is where we’re going later this week. My wife and I both play so it’s an enjoyable holiday for both of us. We’ve usually gone in February but due to other circumstances such as house renovations and book editing, we’re heading off later two months later. And it will be warm enough for wearing shorts on the course – not something I do very often when I play at home.

The final edits for Arc Over Time are almost done. Just one more read through before I sign it off. But I’ve promised myself I won’t look at it again until we return from the Algarve. Fortunately I’ve got time to give it one last check before the release date of 15 May. (And then more time to worry that I’ve missed something really obvious!)

I do plan to get in some recreational reading while I’m away. The Kindle is pre-loaded and ready to go.

I will, no doubt, post some photos on Facebook when I return. Maybe even one or two of me wearing shorts. Now there’s something to look forward to.

Tenha uma boa semana! (Portuguese for ‘Have a good week!’ – according to Google Translate.)


Arc Over Time. Release date: 15 May 2015. The first chapter is available to read on the Affinity website.

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

1000 words a day – not a problem!

This is what I tell myself when I sit down in front of my computer in the morning to write. I’ve had breakfast, coffee, quick glance at the paper, a peek at Facebook (five minutes won’t hurt, right?) and then I’m off.

Only I’m not. There’s a blank screen in front of me. Come on, one thousand words. How hard can it be? Well, some days it’s harder than others. Those are the days when the tempting distractions creep in. I’ll just have another cup of coffee…see what’s on Twitter…oh, look there’s a pair of doves in the garden.

One thing I’ve learned is not to force it or get obsessed with a word count. That really does take the joy out of writing. There are times when it’s hard work but there are others when you can feel the story growing, hear the characters speaking…those are the times when the words will flow and the numbers don’t matter any more. Those are the times to savour.

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Oh, wow, 1001! The sun is shining…I’m off to the golf course…


Don’t forget to look out for my new book, Arc Over Time. Release date: 15 May 2015. The first chapter is available to read on the Affinity website.

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