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 / 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.

table_visitors

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

happylogo

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

run_final

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.


6books

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


 

Bicycle thoughts

It’s the anniversary of the release of my fourth novel on 14 March—The Circle Dance. So I started thinking about my relationship with bicycles.

The first bike I owned as an adult was a 3-speed Raleigh. After a few years I graduated to a 10-speed Apollo. This was at the time I had a part time job working in a bike shop. It was piecework; I got paid for each bike I assembled. I fell in love with the Apollo and it travelled with me when I left British Columbia for Ontario and then on to the UK. Cycling in London was an adventure and I feel fortunate not to have come to grief on more than one occasion. I don’t think I could do it now.

tbt_ten_speed

A much younger me on the beloved Apollo

When I moved north, I thought I would enjoy riding along the canal towpaths, a tranquil alternative to the roads. This didn’t last long as the narrow tires on the Apollo weren’t well suited for the rougher terrain. So I traded it in for a mountain bike. My canal riding days didn’t last as I soon became involved in playing golf in my spare time. And in the last six years I’ve added archery to my outdoor activities. And, I guess, I just wasn’t in love with the mountain bike.

canalsep

Canal path near Hebden Bridge

Sometimes I think I shouldn’t have given up my bike-riding days. It’s very much the in sport around here. The coffee shops in Hebden Bridge are filled with cyclists on a Sunday morning, taking a break from their fifty-mile journeys—a little exercise for the day. The town is a good place to stop before tackling either the long climb up onto the moor above, or going the other way, taking on the Cragg Vale challenge—which holds the title of the longest continual ascent in England, climbing 968 feet in five and a half miles. Whenever I pass cyclists in the car, powering their way up, I admire their determination and tenacity. But I know it’s not something I want to attempt.

For the leisure cyclist, electric bikes are gaining popularity—so you don’t even have to exert yourself to get up the steep hills.

The Circle Dance

Jamie, a main character in The Circle Dance is a cyclist and I think the story possibly evolved from seeing the legions of lycra-clad enthusiasts pedalling through our village.

This is a scene from Chapter Two – when Jamie arrives home, having cycled the fourteen miles from where she works. She thought she was meeting Van at the local wine bar for their first date, but Van surprises her by appearing on her doorstep. This scene is from Van’s point of view.

Van followed, enjoying the view of Jamie’s well-toned lycra clad legs and butt as they climbed. Not many people could successfully carry off the lycra-look, but this woman rocked it. Out of breath by the time they reached the top, she promised herself she would start an exercise regime soon.

Once inside the room Jamie set her bike against one wall and unclipped the water bottle. She drank the remaining liquid and put the empty bottle on the floor.

“I’ll hit the shower. There’s a bottle opener on the bookcase.”

The bookcase was something Van hadn’t seen since her student days; two long roughhewn planks supported by bricks. She found the opener and popped the cap on both bottles. Looking around for a table, she was shocked to realise there wasn’t one. An upturned plastic crate and a legless armchair by the windows at the far end of the long room were the only other bits of furniture. Jamie had disappeared behind a screen, which she guessed was where there might be a bed, possibly just a mattress if the rest of the minimal decor was anything to go by.

She took a swig of beer and crouched down to look at the books. Some computer manuals she recognised and a meagre selection of paperbacks that looked like they’d come from charity shops. She picked one up that she thought she’d read before.

The chair, once she’d lowered herself into it, was surprisingly comfortable. She balanced the beer bottle on the crate and opened the book. It was one she’d read some time ago. One of Felicity Lemon’s early crime novels. She recalled that the clever twist at the end had left her feeling cheated. It was upsetting when the perpetrator turned out to be either a cop involved in the investigation or a character that only showed up in the last thirty pages.

Jamie appeared again looking stunning in a pair of loose fitting jeans and red polo shirt. She picked up the other bottle of beer and joined Van by the window.

Van put the book down, sensing the other woman’s discomfort. “Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have barged in on you like this.”

“It’s fine.” Jamie ran her fingers through her still damp hair. An endearing habit Van thought she would never tire of seeing.

Jamie drank some of the beer, tipping her head back, giving Van a view of her strong neck muscles. She sipped at her own beer to distract herself from the hormonal urges that were building.

“You still okay with going to the wine bar? The only beer they have is bottled.”

“Hey, your territory, your choice. I’m easy.” No doubt about that.

“Right, well I like the food there and it’ll be quiet at this time.” She finished her beer and gave Van that smile; the one that melted her already softened insides. “Good to go.”

Van struggled up from the chair, vowing once again that she would renew her gym membership.

If you would like to listen to me reading an excerpt, not very expertly, this is available here: Reading from Chapter One of The Circle Dance. This is the scene where Van and Jamie first meet at a friends’ house.


books17

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

Buying options for ebooks:

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / 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

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 Library

libview

The British Library’s courtyard with the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel rising up on the far side

This past weekend we escaped into another world, ensconced in the British Library. On previous visits to London, I’ve passed the building many times but this was my first time going inside.

newton

Sir Isaac Newton

First though, we walked through the courtyard with the impressive statue of Sir Isaac Newton, created by Paolozzi from a sketch made by William Blake. Overwhelmed by history already and not even past the entry.

bl_entrance

British Library entrance

 

The view of the King’s Library tower rising up through six floors in the middle of the building is another magnificent sight. George III, mainly renowned for going mad, was a keen collector of books (so, maybe not so mad – if ebooks hadn’t been invented, I would need a book tower like this!).

george_books

In front of the King’s Library

My wife and I were taking part in a course on Classic Crime fiction. While it covered authors we’re familiar with, such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers…there were many more we hadn’t heard of. So we now have lists of numerous books to be explored.

 

As part of the course, we were able to view some first editions including one of the original ‘puzzle’ books. These were popular for a time. The reader wouldn’t know the answer of the ‘whodunnit’ until they completed the accompanying jigsaw puzzle.

jigsawpuzzle_book

Although I enjoy reading crime fiction, mainly of the cosy variety—not too gory—it’s not something I feel I could write. I’ll stick to romance for now.

Part of the romance of the trip was travelling on the Grand Central train from Halifax to King’s Cross and back.

train

grand

All in all, a spectacularly enjoyable few days…talking about books, soaking in the atmosphere of a great British institution, and discovering a deep reservoir of classic books to read.


books17

Buying options for my books:

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / 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

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


 

My Christmas message

 

wine

I can’t compete with the Queen. She’s no doubt already recorded her Christmas message, which will be broadcast on Christmas Day. I don’t know what she will say, but analysis has revealed that her most commonly used words in the previous 63 speeches she has given during her long reign are: Commonwealth, children, families, peoples. She’s not supposed to air any political opinions so we won’t likely hear what she thinks of Brexit or the result of the US Election.

Her most memorable speech was for Christmas 1992 when she labeled it her “annus horribilis”. It had been a horrible year in personal terms for the royal family with a devastating fire at Windsor Castle and the breakdown of three of the Queen’s children’s marriages.

Perhaps, collectively, this is our “annus horribilis”. Is it likely to get any better or will the human race be wiped out like the dinosaurs with a cataclysmic event beyond our control?

Maybe there is a meteor hurtling towards us with “Earth” written on it. The dinosaurs didn’t have any pre-warning as to what was going to hit them, but we will. With astronomers monitoring the skies and full-on media outlets, we will know exactly how and when it will happen.

But, I digress. Back to the present, and a reflection on what Christmas has come to mean in our society. Christmas nowadays, in this part of the world anyway, seems to be very much a secular occasion with the commercial focus on children’s expectations of presents they want, families thrown together for enforced jollity, and single people left feeling a deeper loneliness than during the rest of the year. (There – I’ve managed to use all the Queen’s favoured words in this paragraph – except for Commonwealth!)

I have no control over any of this. I can only carry on with my life and hope that in some small way, with the publication of my books, I bring a little love and laughter into other people’s lives.

My message is simple…be kind to yourself and to those around you.

hotelsheep


five_books

Buying options for my books:

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / 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

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


 

Reading Habits

Six years ago we bought our first Kindle. It was supposed to be ‘ours’ but we quickly realised that wasn’t going to work.

I remember the first ebook we purchased for the allegedly joint device – choosing it together – Jasper Fforde’s Shades of Grey. Brilliant story, which I would like to reread, but it’s on what soon became my wife’s Kindle.

Six years on, we not only have separate Kindles, but also our own iPads. Sharing the first iPad went the same way as the e-reader.

The main reason for getting a Kindle in the first place was because we’ve run out of shelf space for paper versions of books. We still buy books and Christmas is the time when we accumulate more. Instead of trying to think of what to buy each other for Christmas, we just exchange book lists a few months before. Then on the day when we unwrap them, we can say, “Oh, great! I forgot I asked for this.”

xmasbooks

Last year’s haul of Christmas books

So, how have our reading habits changed?

For one thing, I no longer know what my wife is reading on a daily basis. As a result we don’t talk much about the books we’re reading. She knows I’m usually reading lesfic or another fiction genre that she’s not interested in. But I really have no idea what she’s reading unless I ask. It’s most likely to be something fact based: science, history, and biographies. Occasionally she will read a crime book. I know that Ann Cleeves is a favourite.

The other main thing I’ve noticed is that we both spend less time reading, especially if reading on the tablet. Then it’s ten minutes reading before switching to checking Twitter, Facebook, or playing a game.

Love them or loathe them, I think the e-reader is a necessity for us. Otherwise we would have to move to a bigger house or hire a storage unit.

books1

A small selection of the books in our house – mostly old and a few new favourites


five_books

Buying options for my books:

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / 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

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


 

Book browsing…in days gone by

Looking back to the days before the growth of the World Wide Web and certain online bookstores…how did I manage to find and purchase lesbian books?

When I lived in London in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I would visit Silver Moon Books on Charing Cross Road. It wasn’t always easy to fit in a trip there, as the places I worked tended to be in another part of the city. But when I could, I spent many a happy hour browsing the shelves and picking out books from a range of authors I knew nothing about.

When I moved out of London, I had to find another way to feed my addiction. Luckily there were several mail order options. Silver Moon had their own newsletter, as did West & Wilde in Edinburgh. Diva magazine had a books order section. And I also subscribed to the Libertas newsletter…a bookstore in York, now closed down.

mags

Mainstream bookstores at the time also had separate Gay and Lesbian sections. I was in Waterstones in Manchester recently and asked where this section was located. I knew the answer, but wanted to see what they would say. The nice young man on the desk told me there was a section on the next floor up. I wandered around looking at all the labeled areas, but could only find something called Gender Studies. When I paid for the crime novel I’d selected, I asked the clerk why they didn’t have a separate section and she waffled something about the company policy of inclusion. I asked her how I was supposed to find any books by lesbian authors if they were mixed in with all the others. I would have to know what I was looking for, possibly only being able to pick out a few well-known names like Sarah Waters or Jeannette Winterson. I’m sure I would never have discovered Fiona Cooper, Jaye Maiman, Nisa Donnelly – or any of the books in this photo – if this policy had been in place in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

books1

I think bookstores should review this policy. It’s just another way of making us invisible. Imagine if they mixed all the crime books in with general fiction.

So, now my book browsing is done online – either on the big ‘A’ or on publishers’ websites. There is an overwhelming amount of choice these days.

And, it’s not quite the same as standing in front of a bank of shelves, picking out books, looking at the covers, reading the blurbs…and out of the corner of your eye checking out the woman a few feet away wondering what she likes reading. (Of course, I wouldn’t be doing that now – my wife would not be amused.)


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


 

Happy Valley Pride: Coming out in Hebden Bridge

I’ve done readings in New Orleans, Washington DC, and Urmston (Manchester UK) – and now Hebden Bridge.

Why is this noteworthy? Because although my novels are set in and around Hebden Bridge, last week was the first time I’ve made a public appearance in the town.

This opportunity was made possible by the organisers of the Happy Valley Pride Festival, the first of its kind…and hopefully the start of an annual event.

hvpride

At the Festival Box Office

Throughout the week, I enjoyed meeting lots of wonderful people…from my volunteer stint at the Festival Box Office in the Town Hall, attending the Poetry evening (where the resident poets were happy to let me do a reading from The Circle Dance), enjoying a glass of wine at the launch party at Nelson’s Wine Bar, selling and signing books during the main Festival activities day on Saturday, and sharing some moments in the park during the Pink Picnic on Sunday.

hvp_booktable

My book stall as part of the Expo on Saturday – a great success – I didn’t take many books home!

Just walking around town wearing my Happy Valley Pride t-shirt brought smiles to the faces of many and helped initiate random chats with a variety of locals and visitors.

It’s been a blast – and I think the organising team, Mike, Darren and David, will probably be hibernating for a while to recover. During the week, they were everywhere, making sure everything ran smoothly. And it did. Even the spells of drizzly rain on Saturday failed to dampen the spirits of the crowd at the Town Hall who enjoyed the activities on the terrace – particularly the Pink Dog Show. The cakes in the Bake-off competition were of a high standard as well.

The stated aim of the Festival was to ‘celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer life in Calderdale’. And they succeeded. Thank you to everyone who took part…looking forward to next year already!

Keep up with Happy Valley Pride events throughout the year by visiting their website. And the art exhibition will be on display at Nelson’s Wine Bar until 1st September – so still time to visit and take a look at the wide range of works by local artists.


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 / 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 Books…a reader’s paradise!

For someone who can’t pass a bookstore without wanting to go in and buy a book (only one, I can hear my wife say…but she’s just as bad), attending the GCLS Conference and being in the Vendor room for most of the time was pure torture. Aware of how little space I had in my suitcase, I was constantly balancing the number of my books that I sold with the number I could take back home.

But there were three books I wasn’t going to leave Washington DC without purchasing.

Curious Wine by Katherine V Forrest – not just because the book was this year’s recipient of the Lee Lynch Classic Award, but also because I lent the original Naiad Press copy I had to a friend many years ago and it was never returned. (An ex-friend, needless to say.) Katherine very graciously signed the book for me as well. Last year I had brought my old and oft-read copy of Daughters of a Coral Dawn with me for KVF to sign, but I somehow missed connecting with her at the conference.

curiouswine

Curious Wine

 

The Amazon Trail by Lee Lynch – well just because Lee is wonderful and this book is a classic in itself. I heard her read from it at last year’s conference and was very much moved by her words. Her experiences as she has expressed them in this book will continue to resonate over time.

trail

The Amazon Trail

lee

After the GCLS 2016 Awards Ceremony with the fabulous Lee Lynch (and thanks to Lainie for taking the photo)

(And extra special thanks to Lee’s wife, Lainie, who purchased two of my books to add to the two she already has.)

I said there were three, didn’t I? Because there’s always three, as Sandra would say. The third book, which I would have purchased even if it took my suitcase weight limit over the top, was State of Grace by Sandra Moran.

I finished reading it only two days ago and it will stay with me for a long time. The publisher that originally turned down the opportunity to publish this book could go down in history as making the most serious editorial misjudgment since the one that passed up on Harry Potter.

State of Grace is an amazing story and told with such finesse that it is hard to believe this was Sandra’s first novel. Well, maybe not that hard, as her subsequent novels, published prior to this one, attest to her fabulous talent.

grace

State of Grace

I could easily have bought twenty books at the conference and had them personally signed but, with my already overloaded suitcase in mind, I settled for making note of ones I will buy now that I’m back home (and have finished reading the ones on an already lengthy ‘to be read’ list). I won’t be entering a bookshop anytime soon (don’t tell the wife, but I may pop on to a certain website in the very near future though).


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 / 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 2016

In my previous blog posted on 27 June, I wrote about my GCLS firsts from attending the 2015 conference in New Orleans.

I can now report back on my experience at the 2016 Con in Washington DC. From start to finish I can truthfully say I had a wonderful time. It was lovely to touch base with old friends and meet new ones.

Arriving late afternoon on Tuesday, 5 July, I had plenty of time to settle into my room, shower and then make my way down to the bar area to see who was around. Ali Spooner and I had arranged to meet there and it was already filling up with lots of familiar faces.

Wednesday morning was set up time in the Vendor Room and it didn’t take the four of us long to get our book displays ready. Annette Mori and Renee McKenzie had been late arriving the night before so this was the first time we’d met up since the previous year. The morning passed very quickly with sorting out our table, registering and just generally finding out where everything was.

affinity_table

Ali Spooner has it covered!

My first session was an Author Spotlight reading on Wednesday afternoon. As there were only four of us, we were given an extra minute to read, so I felt more relaxed than I had the year before. I was joined by Jane DiLucchio, MB Panichi, and Chris Parsons with moderator, Catherine Maiorisi.

reading1

From a book selling point of view, the conference was a resounding success. Of the 25 books I had available, only one has returned home with me. Many thanks to everyone who bought books and to all who stopped by for a chat and a laugh.

table_visitors

Two of our distinguished table visitors: Lee Lynch and Mercedes Lewis

For the Author signing session  we were supposed to be seated alphabetically to make it easier for signees to find us. It was a bit of a scrum and I somehow ended up between Kenna White and Caren Werlinger. But no one seemed to mind. We had a nice time chatting anyway. I was pleased to find out that Caren also plays golf and has dabbled in archery.

signing_july16

I wasn’t sure I would survive the Politics in Poetry panel as the only non-poet. But I managed to say a few things and not much could really go wrong with such an awesome line-up.

panel1

Politics of Poetry panel: Moderator E M Hodge with Mercedes Lewis, Lucy Madison, Jen Silver, Carol Rosenfeld, and Jewelle Gomez

The awards evening came around all too quickly. The group photo was taken before the start and I think that is Annette’s ‘trying not to panic’ face. She managed not to trip on the way up to the podium on her high heels and did a lovely acceptance speech when accepting the Traditional Contemporary Romance Award for her book, Locked Inside. Although she did say the word ‘crap’ a few times and forgot to thank the readers – for which she has apologised profusely on Facebook.

awards2

A winning team: Ali Spooner, Jen Silver, Annette Mori, and Renee MacKenzie

award_winner

Annette with her Goldie…look at that smile!

So, it was an incredibly busy and fast moving four and a half days. As a group we also hosted an Affinity dinner on Thursday evening.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show karaoke was another highlight. I’ve never seen the film so hadn’t brought a costume. These characters more than made up for my lack of foresight though.

rocky

Dr Frank N Furter, Brad, a bemused Jen, and Janet

Many thanks to the organisers of the event and the many volunteers who helped with the preparations and the intricacies of managing such a packed programme.

The planning for the 2017 conference is already well underway. Will I make it to Chicago next year? I certainly hope I can. Watching everyone have so much fun from afar would be painful.


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 / 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