The countdown has begun…

In seven days time I will be in Provincetown, Massachusetts, for Women’s Week. This annual event celebrates the arts with literary events, film, comedy and much more. I had also not heard of it 18 months ago. Like much of my current life, it wasn’t just on the periphery, it was in another universe. Even once I had been acquainted with the wonderfulness that was P’town, I still contentedly assumed that it was something other people did. Braver, more adventurous people. Now it appears I am about to join their ranks.

I am travelling there with my amazing girlfriend who is far more courageous than me. To paraphrase Queenie from BlackAdder, she might have the demeanour of a meek woman, but she has the stomach of a concrete elephant. She had the trip planned over 18 months ago and was going to go on her own, with only the faint promise that some authors she had met might be there to say hello to. The thought of doing anything like that fills me with horror. It took me weeks to pluck up the courage to go my first board gaming group. I still remember with a shudder, the stomach clenching fear that I felt walking up the stairs in the pub. I might as well have been strapped in on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, on a one way trip to Mars.

Now she is taking me along and I am starting to feel excited. My ESTA is approved, currency ordered, hire car booked. Ah yes, the hire car. My girlfriend had planned to get the bus. I had heard too much for comfort about the ‘Cape Fear’ short hop flight option from Boston Logan to Provincetown airport. So the obvious option was to drive, for the first time, in the US. I have assured her that it will all be fine. After all I hired a car when in Spain earlier this year, and despite a slight false start that necessitated a couple of laps of the airport carpark, and a few hair raising moments which left the local taxi drivers probably needing therapy for PTSD, I made it to the villa unscathed.

I will, however, be leaving the navigation to my girlfriend. I have a terrible track record when it comes to map reading. My best friend still has fond memories of letting me direct her and her husband from the Solway coast back to Lockerbie. By the time I had finished, we were in a cul-de-sac on the outskirts of Dumfries (I only missed one turn honest!). In Malaga this all came back to haunt me again. I carefully added 30 minutes to an evening trip back from Malaga Harbour to our villa, and then led my driver the next day on a hair raising drive round the dirt tracks of the local village. Funnily enough, nobody asked for my help again.

My girlfriend has requested a book to listen to on the journey, perhaps wisely planning something to calm her nerves. She is big on audio books, as she is dyslexic, and has listened to hundreds over the years. She even runs a website devoted to cataloguing and raising the profile of all the Lesbian Fiction titles out there. However, despite dipping my ears a couple of times, I still haven’t been won over. Instead I offered the compromise of a full cast recording of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Thankfully the promise of listening to Benedict Cumberbatch’s dulcet tones was enough to win the day.

So P’town here we come. Whale watching, cake, gelato, dune walking, and maybe even the occasional cultural event are all hopefully going to be sampled over the next couple of weeks. I can’t wait to breath it all in, and even better still, I will have a wonderful woman by my side to share it all with. Happy birthday my love, I will see you very soon…

Sudden left turns

As this is my first proper blog post, I wanted to take the opportunity to explain a little more about myself. However, as I started to think about what to say, I realised that what was really at the front of my mind was the wonderfully surreal nature of the past 14 days.

To explain, a week ago I got an email from the author Robyn Nyx to say that a short story I had written had been accepted. It was to be published as part of an anthology of established and new Lesbian fiction writers. Not so strange you might think, but a week before that the story had not even existed! I had instead been bumbling along as usual, tired from work and excited about going to Germany to see my girlfriend. I was, in short, blissfully unaware that my life was about to take a very sudden left turn.

I live a very ordinary life. I have close family, good friends and a wonderful girlfriend. This writing thing is a relatively new development. I set myself the intellectual challenge of writing a book a year ago. I guess I was fed up with people telling me that I should have a go. I am not daft, I know that writing is tough. So, I invested in the project by going on a writer’s retreat in Malaga with Global Wordsmiths. They carefully explained the craft of writing in terms even I could understand. Then they took apart the 50k words I had got down, and set me the task of doing it all again, armed with the skills they had given me. However publishing remained a very big if for me. The problem is that I love reading science fiction, and I read voraciously. So, inevitably I have read some terrible stuff. My fear was, and still is, that I would join the ranks of terrible sci-if writers myself.

Which brings me to my short story. The call came in out of the blue. Get a 4k word story together in a week and it will be considered. I spent a frantic few days snatching a couple hours after working late. The first draft stank. The second was better, but doubts remained. I sent it off more in hope than expectation. Then it was accepted. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.

However my elation was short lived. Robyn explained that I needed to establish a social media profile, and my heart sank. I am not a digital native. When I grew up, the internet didn’t exist. I played Pong on the television and thought it was cool. I went up to University the same year that Yahoo was born. In my first job I was the only one in the office with a dedicated computer. I can remember the singsong connection sound of a 56k dial up modem. 

I love the Internet. I love its anarchy and its power to bring knowledge to everyone, rich or poor. But it sometimes feels scary too, and social media is the scariest part for a shy introvert like myself. The faceless exchanges lead too easily to anxiety on my part. But it goes with the new territory I have found myself in. I need to do my part in advertising the book.

So an author Facebook has been created, a twitter account, and finally this site. On Facebook, I now apparently have over 150 friends, garnered over the course of a week. In real life I don’t actually think I have ever associated with that many people. So who are these people, why do they want to connect to me? Some obviously come from within the ranks of the Lesbian Fiction community. The intent of others is less easy to discern, but I usually accept them, the point of social media is after all to be social. Twitter remains a mystery. I genuinely don’t think I ever usually do anything interesting enough to tweet about. I think a lot of retweeting will be done. As for this site, well I have never written a blog post before. Enough said.

So to conclude, this writing thing is turning out to be a bit surreal. Enjoyable but strange, and I can’t wait to see what sudden left turns come next.

Lesfic Eclectic – Coming Soon!

I am proud to announce that one of my stories will be featured in this exciting anthology alongside work from Robyn Nyx. It features stories from Robyn, Valden Bush, Lise Gold, Emma Nichols, Jeannie Levig, Claire Highton-Stevenson, Jenn Matthews, Jen Silver, Michelle Arnold, Gill McKnight, Brey Willows, E.V. Bancroft, Lee Haven and Carla David.

The anthology will be published in October and it will be free!