Saturday, August 15, 2015

Taking Him On - Excerpt #2 and preordering...


I posted an excerpt of Taking Him On, and people asked for more, haha. Who am I to refuse? Excerpt #2 is below.

You can read excerpt #1 here:

(Some preordering up and running now - visit

* * * * *

"Bloody hell, that boy can talk," my dad said. "Have you asked him to marry you or something?"

I nearly choked on my fries.

"Don't be mean, love," Mum beseeched on my behalf. "They're only kids."

Dad picked up his burger and tore a huge chunk out of it, and then continued with his mouth full. "What are you gonna do when he goes to London, son? Go with him?"

I closed one eye so I couldn't see the food sloshing around. "I can't, Dad. I don't finish uni for another year."

"Go to a different one then."

"You can't just change university like you can school."

"I don't see why not." Dad swallowed his food and washed it down with a generous swig of lager. I waited, expecting him to continue, but apparently he'd said his piece, and he carried on eating like a caveman, pausing only to say 'all right' to Matty when he returned. Understandably, Matty's appetite had suffered over the past few days, but he seemed to be taking his inspiration from my dad and tucked in hungrily, finishing his burger but leaving his fries so he had space for some of the cheesecake he'd spotted on his way back to the beer garden. When the staff came to collect our plates, Mum ordered dessert for her and Matty, and Dad went off 'to the dunny', he said. If I'd liked gambling as much as he did, I'd have laid money on being able to find him at the fruit machine.

As soon as he was gone, Matty went and sat next to my mum, who automatically put her arm around him, and he cuddled close. Neither of them said a word, but they didn't need to. Their actions said it all. Strangely, I didn't feel the slightest bit put out by Matty needing my mum instead of me. Was that because I saw Adam as competition? God, I hoped not. We had enough in common already without adding another trait to the list.

Their desserts arrived, and Matty returned to his seat next to me, offering me the first spoonful of his cheesecake. It did look delicious, but I resisted and steered the spoon towards his mouth. He pinched his lips together just as I got there, and he ended up with cheesecake all around his mouth. I knew his game. Unfortunately, I'd cottoned on a bit too late.

"I hope you're gonna clean up," he said, inching closer.

* * * * *

Taking Him On is part of the Checking Him Out series, focusing this time not on Sol and Adam, but on Adam's younger brother Noah and his boyfriend Matty.

It's almost a year since Noah told Matty they needed to cool it, believing it was the sensible thing to do. After all, they were too intense, and they were both failing uni.

Now, with Matty just weeks away from taking up his place at a prestigious London dance academy, Noah is desperate to make the most of the little time they have left. It's only temporary separation, and they are forever. Or so he'd thought.

 Available from 5th September, 2015 in ebook and paperback

Friday, July 31, 2015

Dark Side of Stardom by Christopher Stone

Christopher StonePublisher: MLR Press (May 30, 2014)
Category: GLBT Romance, Hollywood
ISBN: 978-1608209415
Tour Date: June/July, 2015
Available in: Print & ebook, 285 Pages

Fame is fickle, and stardom's flip side harbors and reflects darkness. Stardom on a network situation comedy had been Grant Jackson's lifelong dream. Ambitious, young, sexy, and willing to do almost anything, Grant makes his dream come true at age twenty-three.

When we meet him, in 2004, Grant Jackson is a star of NBC-TV's "Our House". The reality of television stardom is heady and intoxicating. As a songwriter once put it, "The sound of applause is delicious, it's a thrill to have the world at your feet." And Grant's newfound celebrity lives up to his expectations:

The money, the recognition, striving for creative excellence and rating numbers every week. But stardom's flip side harbors and reflects darkness. The knives are always out. One of Grant's co-stars harbors a cocaine addiction. Another co-star masks a career-busting sexual secret---as does Grant Jackson himself.

View the Trailor:

Listen to Chapter One of 'The Dark Side of Stardom' by Christopher Stone:

Praise for 'The Dark Side of Stardom' by Christopher Stone:

"I really loved this book! It is quite the page-turner, between wondering if Grant, a former porn star, is going to be forced out of the closet, to the dramas he faces working on a legitimate television sitcom. Not only that, but it is a very emotionally involving story. We truly care about Grant and his long-term partner Cam, so we want them and their relationship to succeed every step of the way. Since we care about them so much, it’s the small details of their lives that truly make the story what it is.  I also really loved the ambiguous ending, and am hoping that the author will make it a trilogy!  A fun, sexy exploration of Hollywood life."- Rebecca VanDusen, Amazon Reviewer

"The Dark Side of Stardom kept my attention from start to finish. Dealing with issues of fame, love, and sexuality from a unique perspective, it sheds light in areas that often remain dark and unspoken of. A perfect book for a rainy day, or whatever the weather for that matter. I highly recommend it.”- Rich Kendall, author of 'The Road to Elmira'

Praise for 'Frame of Reference' by Christopher Stone:

"This book was recommended by one of my gay friends and I must admit, as a straight lady, I wasn't sure it was something I would be interested in reading. Glad I took the plunge. Interesting characters, in an interesting Hollywood setting that the writer is very familiar with.
I loved the references, by the main character, to all the TV. and movies. Clearly, Mr. Stone has done his homework. The sex scenes, (while a bit too much information for me!) will be much appreciated by the appropriate audience - in other words, quite hot!
Still, no romance novel is worth its salt without a good story line. Again, Mr. Stone has shown his mettle. The characters are well developed and the story interesting as a young man fights his way to the top of the heap. Bring on the next book, sequel!"- Sharyn St.Clair, Amazon Reviewer

"I only have good things to say about this book from a literary point of view. The characters are well-developed and Christopher Stone’s writing style is superb. I enjoyed going with Grant on his journey of self-discovery and look forward to seeing what happens next in his life. In case the description of the book isn’t clear enough, this is a gay romance, so readers should not be surprised about the fact that the sex scenes are between two or more men. The sex scenes are not the whole of the book, and they are not overly-explicit, but they are more explicit than the average romance novel.
I truly enjoyed this offering by Christopher Stone, and I will definitely be putting him on my list of authors to look for in the future."- Brriske, Paranormal Romance & Authors That Rock

"This book is definitely not in a genre I ordinarily read, so when a friend recommended it to me, I was admittedly a little skeptical. Skepticism, however, soon turned into genuine delight. Using an almost Christopher Isherwood, I-am-a-camera-like precision, Stone expertly evokes the world of a young gay man from a small town who struggles to establish himself as an actor in Hollywood.
Written vividly and wryly, the book is by turns touching, exciting, erotic and dark, and is always compelling. The characters were full-bodied (in more ways than one!) the dialogue was realistic, the situations off-beat and interesting. When I finished the book, my first thought was, "Bring on the sequel!" I can give "Frame of Reference" no higher praise than that!"- Robert J. Van Dusen, Amazon Reviewer

"I stumbled on Frame of Reference at the nail salon. A lady was reading it and would read passages to the entire shop. So, I bought the book. What an eye opener into the world of gay young men. Being raised in Hollywood as a non-gay, I had no idea about this vibrant subculture. Being mature and growing up in a movie family, I understood all the references to movie stars, TV shows, and cinema. Do read it, you won't be able to put it down!"- Dee Lewis, Amazon Reviewer

Christopher Stone About Christopher Stone:

Born in Bronx, New York, and raised in Fresno, California, Christopher Stone’s early years were dominated by school, watching television and motion pictures, bicycling, skating, and reading avidly. Summers were spent swimming, and doing whatever it took to survive the oppressive San Joaquin Valley heat. But he also remembers fondly the yearly summer trips to New York, to visit family and friends – and to see Broadway shows.

Christopher left Fresno, for Hollywood, California, during his college years after being accepted into the Writers Guild of America’s Open Door Program, a two-year, scholarship, training ground for aspiring screen and television writers. As it happened, rather than a teleplay or screenwriting gig, his first professional writing job was in journalism – as the Los Angeles Editor for Stage Door, at that time, Canada’s equivalent of the U.S. entertainment trade weekly, Variety.

Christopher would later use his Writers Guild of America training to co-author and sell the original screenplay, The Living Legend, with Jon Mercedes III, to the Erin Organization, and later, and also with Mercedes, to write two seasons of The Party Game, a Canadian TV game show.

As a young freelance entertainment journalist, he contributed to many Los Angeles-based publications, among them The Advocate, for which he wrote a breezy film column, “Reeling ‘Round,” and the Los Angeles Free Press. During this time, he became a member of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.

Christopher dipped his toes into the world of motion picture advertising and publicity, as assistant to the West Coast Director of Advertising and Publicity for Cinerama Releasing Corporation, in Beverly Hills. At the same time, he also did special advertising and publicity projects for 20th Century-Fox. Christopher went on to become an Account Executive for David Wallace & Company, a public relations firm specializing in entertainment accounts – and located on West Hollywood’s legendary Sunset Strip.

Returning to his first love, writing, Christopher became a full time freelance contributor to national consumer publications including Us, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, McCall’s, In Cinema, and The National Enquirer, among others. Many of his stories were syndicated worldwide by the New York Times Syndication Corp.

Another important area of endeavor for Christopher Stone was Re-Creating Your Self. A Blueprint for Personal Change that he first developed for himself, the journalist went on to teach the principles and processes of Re-Creating Your Self to others – first, in private sessions, later, in workshops and seminars, and, finally, for California State University Extended Education. Eventually, one of his students suggested he write a book version.

Re-Creating Your Self was first published in hardcover by Metamorphous Press, and subsequently published in a trade paperback edition by Hay House. It has since been published in Spanish, Swedish and Hebrew language editions.

When not writing, Christopher used his longtime interest in, and study of, metaphysics, to teach meditation and psychic development classes – first in Beverly Hills, then later, in Manhattan Beach.

He went on to co-author, with Mary Sheldon, four novellas for a Japanese educational publisher, and then, also with Mary Sheldon, the highly successful The Meditation Journal trilogy of hardcover books. Subsequently, he returned to journalism, this time, contributing hundreds of print and online entertainment features, columns and reviews to magazines and websites. For eight years, Christopher was the Box-office Columnist for, a popular online motion picture site.

In his private life, Christopher Stone met David M. Stoebner on May 17, 1994, and they have been together ever since. ?In 2008, they were married in Los Angeles.

They share a home with their three pets in Coastal Los Angeles County.

In 2013, Christopher’s pet project has been transforming their rarely used kitchen table area into a killer, retro 1950s Diner Nook, complete with a 1952 Seeburg Table Top jukebox, a neon diner sign, and a malt machine.

Christopher’s first novel, Frame of Reference was e and print published, in fall 2012, by MLR Press. A short story, Sweet Homo Alabama was published by MLR Press, December 19, 2012.

Stone spent much of 2013 writing Frame of Reference 2: The Dark Side of Stardom, a sequel novel to Frame of Reference, as well as, Abracadabra, and a short story, published at Halloween. But the indefatigable scribe also found time to contribute weekly reviews, columns and interviews to Queer Town Abbey.

Christopher is currently writing Going and Coming, a novel laced with metaphysical themes, and wrapped around the character of Dr. Minnow Saint James, a highly successful Past Life Regression Therapist, and the author of a best-selling nonfiction book. Christopher hopes Going and Coming will launch a series of Dr. Minnow Saint James Metaphysical Adventures novels. As of this writing, Going and Coming is tentatively scheduled for November 2015 publication, by MLR Press.

On a personal note, Christopher and David adopted a five-month-old Yellow Lab puppy, Sammy (Samantha Stevens), on February 6, following the sudden passing of their beloved Yellow Lab, Gracie, on January 22.


Buy 'The Dark Side of Stardom' by Christopher Stone:

MLR Press
Barnes and Noble
Indie Bound

Follow 'The Dark Side of Stardom' by Christopher Stone Tour:

Teddy Rose Book Reviews  June 18 Giveaway

Nautical Star Books June 22 Excerpt

JJ's Kinky Books June 23 Review & Excerpt

Deborah Patterson June 24 Review

Sapphyria's Steamy Books June 29 Excerpt &Giveaway

Teddy Rose Book Reviews June 30 Review

Love Bytes July 1 Guest Post, Excerpt, & Giveaway July 1

Michael Mardel July 2 Review

Zipper Rippers July 14 Review & Giveaway

Michael Mardel July 2 Review

Nessa Book Reviews July 28 Review

Steve W.July 29 Review

Alpha Book Club July 30 Review

De-Blog July 31  Review & Excerpt

Christopher Stone

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

When Skies Have Fallen - 8th July, 2015

My new novel, When Skies Have Fallen is out today - 8th July, 2015.

It's free! I'll explain why in a moment, and just mention that there is also a paperback edition available (for £8.99) - you can order it from Beaten Track directly now. It will appear on other retailer sites in due course.

Buy When Skies Have Fallen Paperback (£8.99):
Beaten Track • Amazon UK • Amazon US

Download When Skies Have Fallen eBook (free):
MMRomanceGroup • Beaten Track • ARe • Smashwords
(it will be available on Kindle soon)

Story Post on Goodreads
(MM Romance Group members only)

Also available:
Checking Him Out Paperback!

Buy Checking Him Out Paperback (£6.99):
 Beaten Track • Amazon UK • Amazon US
B&N • Waterstones

Download Checking Him Out eBook (free):
MMRomanceGroup • Beaten Track • ARe • Smashwords
Amazon UK • Amazon US • Nook • iBooks

Why free?

When Skies Have Fallen is part of 'Love is an Open Road' - a reading/writing event organised by the MM Romance Group on Goodreads. Checking Him Out is part of 'Love's Landscapes' - the 2014 event. Each author claims a prompt posted by a group member and writes a story based on that prompt.

The stories are posted in text form on the MM Romance Group page, which means they are accessible to readers all over the world, including those living in countries where LGBTQ literature is banned. Or, to put it bluntly, there are places in this world where one's sexuality is a death sentence, and making these stories accessible for free is so important (we probably can't begin to imagine) for many living in fear and isolation.

The entire event is run by volunteers, many of whom are professional editors, proofreaders, formatters and cover designers, and yet for this event they give their time for free. It is a labour-intensive but very rewarding cause - as someone who sees boths sides of the process (I both edit and write for the event) I have to take my hat off to the team. There are around 200 stories, and by the time readers see them, they have been edited, formatted, proofread (by five different people, minimum), re-edited, re-formatted and checked for quality assurance.

About When Skies Have Fallen

The second I read Tiffany's prompt I knew I wanted to write this story. No. I needed to write this story, and if another author had pipped me at the post I would still have written it.

I don't want to repeat what I wrote in my first post about this story, in part because I doubt I'd get through explaining again. Suffice to say, it was an emotionally difficult story to research and write. Never too far behind my fictional depiction are the real people and events, massive loss, appalling persecution...and glorious victory.

Arty and Jim get their happily ever after.

I'll leave you with the blurb and my eternal thanks if you are one of my readers. I read every review I find, and I can only hope my words matter to you as much as yours do to me.

Thank you
Deb x

For many in war-torn 1944, love blossoms in the dance hall, and airman Arty Clarke is no exception. He's a thinker and a dreamer; however, it's not the beautiful, talented dancer in his arms - his best friend Jean - who inspires his dreams. For when his gaze meets that of Technical Sergeant Jim Johnson, Arty dares to imagine a different dance.

Their love is forbidden, by both the armed forces and the law, but with Jean's cunning and support, Arty and Jim try to bridge the distance between them and find true love despite the danger and a life-threatening disaster that could destroy Arty's dreams for good.

Can the pair stand strong together, no matter how many skies have fallen?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Willem of the Tafel - Blog Tour - Review plus quick questions to the author

[I've never posted as part of a blog tour before, so I'm hoping this will in some way explain why my post is a day later than scheduled...]

The world we know is gone, destroyed by greed and ignorance. On a post-apocalyptic Earth, centuries into the future, few have survived the Great War. Some have taken refuge deep inside a mountain. One of them, Willem, is exiled to the surface...

Alone and struggling to survive, Willem embarks on an epic journey, making a discovery that could once again alter the future of humanity.

Willem of the Tafel is an epic tale of survival, second chances, hope and undying love.

* * * * *

Today on my blog I'm talking to Hans M Hirschi about his newest release, Willem of the Tafel. This is Hans' fifth novel, and if he hadn't thrown me a curve ball, I'd be telling you he writes contemporary gay fiction with strong romantic elements, along with frequent explorations of the meaning of family, and the effects of abuse and bereavement.

However, Willem of the Tafel is not contemporary; it's set in a post-apocalyptic future, although it does still have the romance, and it turns out I'm a sucker for romantic stories (who knew?).

Having dodged my initial question about who he would cast for the movie, I asked Hans a few questions about his characters.

Here's what he said:

Which of your characters would you like to spend a day with?

Naturally, I’d give an arm and a leg to meet both Hery and Willem, together or individually. To hear from Willem what it feels like to give up your personal life and happiness for the greater good of a society that had shunned him, to hear about his plans for Tafel and Cape Town, and get under his skin in terms of how he feels about the whole leadership thing. Can’t be easy… I don’t envy him.

From Hery I’d like to know what it’s like to tread in Adrianjaka’s footsteps, what growing up was like for him, given his hearing disability, and how he likes to roam the seven seas on board St├ęphane’s boat. If I met both I’d like to just kick back and watch them interact. To be the fly on that wall… WOW!

Where would you take them?

I’m not sure I’d take them anywhere. Instead I’d be on my hands and feet and beg them to show me their society. But if they felt they would gain insights for their leadership roles, why not show them their respective cities in the 21st century for a quick glimpse? But I’m not sure that would be such a great idea. They’d have to beg me...

What would you show them?

If they were able to convince me to really take them, I’d show them the racism and the poverty that ravages South Africa, to help Willem understand just why the Shadows in Tafel bear such resentment against ghosts, but I’d also show them some of the more hopeful signs of collaboration in Cape Town, like the organization PRAESA that recently won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. I’d probably also show them Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent much of his incarceration. I’d also like to take them to Madagascar and the capital of Antananarivo and the northern coastal town of Antsiranana, where Hery spent much of his youth. I’ve never been to the island myself, so it would be an interesting journey to make together...

Would you have any advice for them?

I don’t give advice unless specifically asked for, and from what I gather these two young men are doing just fine on their own and they have excellent advisors already. I don’t see what I could possibly add. Me on the other hand, I’d probably have lots to learn from them. Thing is, I’ve always looked up to all of my characters. They’re always “better” than their creator. So I am convinced that I’d be the one profiting from any encounter. :)

* * * * *


When Hans told me he was writing a post-apocalyptic novel and mentioned the term ‘sci-fi’ I have to admit to inwardly groaning. There are so many post-apocalyptic sagas out there in both print and film form, and I dislike them immensely. I think on the whole it’s a sign of our times: for those of us in western, relatively wealthy societies, and with our propensity to focus only on what is in our own back yard, our existence seems safer and more stable than ever before.

The reality is very different. War, famine, global warming, pollution, disease, poverty, genocide…these are not things of the past, but I envisage there is a certain thrill many readers attain from reading of a world gone wrong – crumbling cities, the sky a-flame, Bruce Willis/Will Smith/Keanu Reeves romping the streets clad in sweaty vest/sexy vest/Raybans…snore.

Willem of the Tafel is nothing like any of those post-apocalyptic adventures, although Willem is still a hero, but of the only kind that could bring about resolution to global conflict. Thoughtful, discerning, intelligent, young, Willem possesses a wealth of knowledge yet no desire to utilise it to attain power or oppress. A reluctant leader is the very best kind.

I have to – reluctantly – agree that the novel is science fiction, in the sense that it tells of a future that is scientifically plausible. Frighteningly so. However, it’s not heavy on the sci-fi: the technology referred to in the story is already in existence, and it is an aside to what the story is really about: Willem’s journey from childhood to adulthood, from Tafel society out into the world, from solitary wanderer to…well, you’ll have to read it and see.

Willem of the Tafel is available in ebook and paperback formats from all online book retailers, but you can support the author and publisher best by purchasing directly from them.

Monday, May 18, 2015

When Skies Have Fallen - a novel by Debbie McGowan

For many in war-torn 1944, love blossoms in the dance hall, and airman Arty Clarke is no exception. He's a thinker and a dreamer; however, it's not the beautiful, talented dancer in his arms - his best friend Jean - who inspires his dreams. For when his gaze meets that of Technical Sergeant Jim Johnson, Arty dares to imagine a different dance.

Their love is forbidden, by both the armed forces and the law, but with Jean's cunning and support, Arty and Jim try to bridge the distance between them and find true love despite the danger and a life-threatening disaster that could destroy Arty's dreams for good.

Can the pair stand strong together, no matter how many skies have fallen?

* * * * *

When Skies Have Fallen is a novel, written as part of the Love is an Open Road Anthology (Don't Read in the Closet, 2015).

In This Blog Post:
  • About Love is an Open Road
  • Research and Video Clips
  • Excerpt from When Skies Have Fallen

* * * * *

About Love is an Open Road
This free event consists of around 200 authors writing stories based on the requests of around 200 readers. Everyone involved in the event gives their time and their talent FOR FREE.

  • Readers each submit a prompt, consisting of a photo and a letter;
  • Authors claim the prompts, and in so doing agree to write a story based on the prompt stimulus;
  • Stories are edited, proofread, formatted, and checked for quality by the DRitC team (all volunteers and incredibly professional);
  • Stories are then published, for free, via Goodreads and;
  • The anthology is later compiled into several volumes.

* * * * *

Dear Author,

Life isn’t a fairy tale. These two know that better than most. These men are survivors. Against all odds, they made it through hardships, separation, and war. They clung to hope where little existed and, as the skies fell around them and the world was torn apart, found strength in loving each other.

Suddenly, the war was over. Battlefields lay silent and troops prepared for the journey home. These two were more than ready. They had experienced enough loss, grief, and pain to last ten lifetimes. The country they left behind may not have been ready to accept them, but they were prepared to live no matter how many skies had fallen.

You can tell me the story of how these men met, but what I really want to know is what happened to these men after this photo was taken. Did their love endure the trials of a return to civilian life? Were they able to overcome the trauma of war and find peace together?

Sincerely, Tiffany

* * * * *

Research and Video Clips
Even with my social science background, and the fact that my academic specialism of gender and sexual politics gave me a good grounding in the social and political context of this story, a great deal more research was needed before I felt ready to write it.

The post-WWII period in Britain was a time of tremendous social upheaval: the introduction of the NHS, free education, national insurance, new houses and towns, welfare benefits, government pensions, legislation against sex discrimination and unequal pay, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and so on. I knew all of that, thanks to Tony Fagan, retired lecturer in social policy, and Paul Reynolds, senior lecturer in sociology.

However, knowing all of that wasn't enough.

In my head were the stories told by my grandparents, who were in the RAF and WAAF, and I also spent many years caring for older people, who shared their incredible stories of life during the war; what a privilege it is to have known these people.

I supplemented the anecdotal evidence by reading the BBC Archives of people's wartime experiences - British soldiers recounting what it was like when the 'Yanks' arrived, the boy who hid in his larder when a V-1 hit three miles away and didn't know if it had killed his dad, how hard it was to return to civilian life, how little financial support injured soldiers received - so many amazing tiny pieces of history, all offering a distant and safe insight into what it was like to live through the war.

And STILL it was not enough!

Because in all of that, there was still one story I wasn't hearing: the story of men who love men.

On May 8th, 2015 - the day after the General Election and the seventieth anniversary of Victory over Europe Day, I was hit by a devastating realisation - for a pacifist socialist like me. Six years of fighting, millions of lives lost, the promise that there would be bread for everyone, and here we are, in this time of austerity, where the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, right-wing politicians are once again having their day...we have learned so much and yet we know nothing at all.

But anyway, I'm getting off my soap box for the time being, or, in fact, swapping it for another one.

In the video playlist below, there are 5 segments of a documentary titled "A Very British Sex Scandal". It is about the prosecution of journalist Peter Wildeblood, who spent 18 months in prison for his love of another man. Wildeblood went on to give evidence to the Wolfenden Committee, who put together the 1957 report which eventually (ten years later) resulted in the decriminalisation of homosexuality (between over 21s, in private).

I don't do crying, but I sobbed watching this documentary. A week has passed and I still hurt.

I'd already made the decision to make this story a historical document, based on factual information. The characters are fictional; the RAF bases are not real. But everything else is based on historical evidence and mirrors real-world events. I owe it to the people who fought for us, in wartime and in what most will consider peacetime. For there is an invisible war still going on. We have taken great strides forward, but the war is not yet won. Equality, absolutely.

* * * * *

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

—‘Ode of Remembrance’, Lawrence Binyon

* * * * *

Excerpt from When Skies Have Fallen
Copyright Debbie McGowan, 2015

Chapter One: January, 1944

Although the winter had been milder than usual, for a couple of weeks now the temperature had rarely exceeded ten degrees, and several inches of compact snow made for treacherous excursions. Yet the good people of Buckinghamshire refused to be beaten by the cold spell, and the Palais Dance Hall was as crowded as ever, with not one man in civvies. Many of the women were also in uniform, creating the illusion of a dull sea of blue, green and tan upon which floated the vibrant lemon, rose and turquoise hues of the few girls old enough to go dancing, yet too young for service.

From the standing area at one end of the hall, Corporal Robert Thomas Clarke - Arty to those who knew him - and his fellow RAF servicemen watched the swirling couples ebb and flow in their gentle waltz to the air of the three-piece band on-stage. A brazen young woman in flimsy crimson, lips painted to match, spun close, granting the men a flash of stocking-top; some whistled their appreciation, but Arty's attention was elsewhere.

"The WO looks like he's got sticks up his trouser legs," Leading Aircraftman Charlie Tomkins remarked to the group at large and they all laughed in agreement. Arty shook himself out of his daze and turned to see their warrant officer and his dance partner pass by, both of them so stiff it was a wonder they were able to move at all. Most of the couples danced without sophistication, although perhaps with a greater sense of rhythm and more freedom to their movement.

The WO and his girl waltzed out of sight and the men returned to their conversations - except Arty, who scanned the dance floor, looking for the American airman he had been watching for most of the evening. The American was broad-shouldered and handsome, with his well-fitting brown serge tunic and thick blonde hair, his angular features softened by the relaxed, crooked smile he had offered to the young woman he'd been leading in the waltz. He had moved with such elegance that Arty could have watched him dance forever. Alas now he was nowhere in sight, so Arty settled for watching everyone else. He found it a truly moving experience, almost as wonderful as when he was dancing himself.

"Are you getting out there this evening, Art?" Charlie asked.

"Maybe." Arty kept his focus on the dancers. "If I had someone to dance with."

Charlie acknowledged Arty's words with a nod. He scanned the settees, where those women who were not dancing were seated with their friends, waiting for someone to make the offer. Some didn't bother to wait and instead danced with each other, taking turns to lead, but how it usually worked was the man would politely approach the woman - may I have this dance? —and with outstretched arm she would politely accept and allow him to lead her in the next dance.

"Shan't be long," Charlie said. Before Arty had a chance to respond, Charlie was edging his way around the dance floor towards a slender woman in WAAF uniform: a sergeant. Arty watched the two interact, with Charlie wearing his winning smile, which rarely failed to woo the women he dazzled with it. He pointed Arty's way; the WAAF sergeant glanced over and Arty's cheeks warmed. He loved dancing, and he was very accomplished, but when it came to asking he was terribly shy. His friends - Charlie in particular - always insisted on finding a graceful young woman to be the Ginger Rogers to his Fred Astaire. Once he was on the dance floor he'd forget about all those eyes on him, and that they were at war, and how unmoved he was by the closeness of the woman in his arms.

After a couple of minutes spent chatting with the WAAF sergeant, Charlie beckoned for Arty to go over; he quickly smoothed his uniform and set off, attempting a confident stride.

"This is Sergeant Jean McDowell," Charlie introduced. Arty offered her a smile and she blinked up at him with big brown eyes, her tiny pink mouth forming a tiny smile. Charlie raised his hands in a flourish to signal that he was handing over, and departed, leaving the two of them to become acquainted.

"I'm Arty. Would you care for this dance?"

Jean nodded swiftly and with a confidence matching the three stripes on her arm, but at odds with her seemingly meek demeanour, she took Arty's hand and led him onto the dance floor. They found a space in the middle of the room and the music did the rest. In an instant all of Arty's fears diminished, his right arm confidently found Jean's waist and, with her right hand in his left, they stepped off together, joining the throng in their swaying, flowing waltz.

At first, they took small, tentative steps, waiting for openings so they could move around, but then other people started to pay attention and moved out of their way. Arty became bolder and spun Jean, whose skirt should have restricted such graceful kicks yet did not. They danced as if they had been dancing together for many years, matching each other's stride, anticipating next steps and never losing time. By then, the floor had cleared, leaving Arty and Jean to do just as they pleased. They pivoted and spun, hesitated and reversed - they had extraordinary grace. Jean was as natural as Arty, her feminine curves complementing his strong, lithe physique.

The waltz came to an end and many of those around them applauded. Arty grinned, glancing down at Jean to find that she was grinning too. After a count of four a quickstep began, and Arty saw, over Jean's shoulder, the American airman, standing with two others, his head cocked to one side to better hear his associate. Arty and Jean danced on, with others now joining them. On each spin where Arty found he was facing that direction, he'd glimpse the American, uncertain if he was imagining the fleeting seconds when their eyes met before other dancers blocked his view.

Following the quickstep, the band leader gave an even quicker count of four, and the three Americans were immediately surrounded by girls, clamouring to be their partners for the jitterbug. Arty and Jean stayed where they were, soon picking up their pace. Arty swung around and pushed Jean away from him, keeping a tight grip on her hand as she spun and sprung back. They slipped and they slid into chassis and spins, for the most part unaware of the rest of the dancers. Aside from a certain American airman, no one else stood a chance of keeping up with them, although by the end of their jive they, like most, were in need of a breather. The music stopped and Jean looked up to Arty, her lips spread in a wide smile, her breaths puffing against his chin and neck.

"I need fresh air," she told him. He tilted his head towards the balcony and Jean nodded in agreement. Some of the other dancers voiced disappointment at their departing stars, who paused to bashfully bow and curtsey before dashing hand-in-hand, up the stairs, along the balcony and out onto the dark terrace, to the far end where there were fewer people. They stopped and leaned on the iron railing, exhilarated and breathless, and for the moment appreciating the cold air on their clammy skin.

"You're quite a dancer," Arty complimented Jean sincerely.

"Thank you for saying so. As are you." It was the first time Arty had properly heard Jean talk and she was very well-spoken, almost aristocratic. "Who taught you, Arty?" she asked.

"To dance? My aunt - my mother's sister, that is."

"You attended a dance school, surely?"

"No. Did you?"

"Yes." Jean traced her fingers along the railing. "Dancing, deportment and elocution. I hated it when I was a gal, though I'm glad now. When the war is over, I'm going to open a dance school. I'm on the lookout for a dance partner so I can enter competitions and make a name for myself." She laughed as she pondered a thought before adding, "I don't think that's quite what my mother has in mind. She wants her only daughter to marry into high society, but I have no interest in finding a husband." She turned to face Arty, although it was too dark for each to make out the other's features. "Have you ever considered dancing in competitions?"

It would have been far less of a surprise had she asked Arty if he were hoping to find a wife, because it seemed a more pertinent consideration. How could one afford the frivolity of dance in wartime?

"I've never given it any thought," he answered, and it was the truth, though he'd considered the other at length, and realised with some misgivings that he too would be expected to marry at some point in time.

"Would you consider it?" Jean asked. "Dancing with me, I mean?"

Arty scratched his ear, delaying his response. "After the war?"

"No. I've just transferred from Gaskell to Minton. I'm taking over the wages office for both bases."

Jean paused meaningfully, but Arty wasn't sure why. He could see her in profile now, against the clear night sky, her breath creating a transient cloud. She shivered, and in his mind he formed the suggestion that they return inside, but that was not what left his mouth. "If you were to find a husband, I imagine he would not take too kindly to you dancing with another man."

"You're right, of course," Jean agreed, "and if you're trying to let me down gently…"

"Well, you are very beautiful, Jean. I just don't think war is a good reason for rushing into marriage, that's all."

Jean laughed, but not to mock. "Arty, this is not a flirtation. You are absolutely right. One should wait for the right person, and if that person never appears, then what of it? I am content the way I am. I'm not looking for a husband, just a man who can dance. So what do you say?"

Arty delayed a few seconds longer and then nodded. "Yes. I would very much like that."

Coming Summer/Autumn, 2015...

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Love is an Open Road
An extension of the Don’t Read in the Closet event from the M/M Romance Group at – a collection of free M/M short stories, novellas and novels.These stories were written by authors/members of the GoodReads M/M Romance group, for the 2015 Love is an Open Road event. They are based on photographs and prompts provided by members of the same group.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Crying in the Rain is a finalist in Bisexual Book Awards

I am UNBELIEVABLY EXCITED that my novel, Crying in the Rain, is a finalist in the 2015 Bisexual Book Awards. So excited, in fact, that as I type I have a TENS machine on my lower back and I'm daring to hope for the impossible instant miracle cure to my eighteen-month muscle spasm so I can go to NYC for the ceremony. Am I wondering if I could win this? I suppose I am, but even getting this!

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For many years, Ade Simmons has been an outsider, trapped in an abusive relationship, seeking sanctuary in his job as a radio producer, and in the checklists he makes in an attempt to regain control of his sorry excuse of a life.

Actor Kris Johansson is patient, gentle and passionate - everything that Ade's ex-boyfriend is not. When Kris takes a role in one of Ade's plays, the attraction is mutual and instant. It is the turning point for Ade. He can either stay on the same path, with Fergus - the bully who has repressed, used and isolated him from his friends and family - or he can look in the other direction, towards Kris - the handsome actor with family and friends who readily accept him.

But Fergus will not give up his punchbag so easily - can Ade finally find the strength to fight back?

Ebook / Paperback available from:
Beaten Track
All Romance eBooks
And other major online outlets... 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Leaving Flowers by Debbie McGowan and Raine O'Tierney #MM Romance

Leaving Flowers by Debbie McGowan and Raine O'Tierney

Creative synergy, bursting with colour.

That's how it's been since January, when Raine O'Tierney and I started collaborating - a bit like the lilies currently blooming in glorious shades of magenta and peach across my kitchen table, and if you've ever watched lilies bloom you'll know what I mean.

We sowed the creative seed and took turns to tend to our tiny sapling, watching in awe as it grew faster than we'd imagined, becoming more and more beautiful. With every day that passed, the colours shone with greater vibrance, the stems entwined more intricately, and suddenly the story blossomed right before our eyes.

Soon, good people! Soon we will introduce you to the two fine young men whose fate lay in our hands. We hope you'll love them as much as we do.

Shy and awkward since childhood, Aidan Degas is now a man lost. His twin - Aidan's other half, Nadia - died tragically young, leaving him with nothing to get him through his days but his job at the prestigious Grand Heights Luxury Apartments and the flowers he lays upon her grave. When Aidan is assaulted on the job by a tenant, it's the graveyard he turns to for strength and solace.

Patrick loves being assistant groundskeeper at the sprawling cemetery where he tends graves and offers a bit of comfort to mourners. When he sees a sad young man lingering over an old grave, his curiosity is strangely piqued for reasons he doesn't understand. He's never done this - struck up a friendship with a mourner. But soon that friendship blossoms into a romance.

It's not going to be easy for the pair. Aidan is so damaged, like petals crushed in an angry fist, and even with Patrick's warm heart and Irish charm, it might not be enough to bring him back from the edge.

You can read Raine's Cover Reveal post here: