Thursday, February 15, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - Goth of Christmas Past - The Circle MkII #amwriting #lgbtqia

All of the news!

I've been so busy this past couple of weeks, I didn't blog at all last week, and my house is wall-to-wall dog hair, but...

Goth of Christmas Past is written, and alpha-read! Thank you, lovely husband :) Nige is a sound/lighting tech, which is very helpful when it comes to feeding back on a story that extensively features a recording studio ('you mean haze, not smoke, never tell them it's smoke or they cough and complain', and 'why is he up a tower when they've got programmable lights?' and 'try re-patching cables instead...' and so on and so forth), except that now he wants a job there, LOL. It's also with the first beta-reader, who tells me it's got a good start. Cheers, Al. x That's...a good start! :)

My next mission—aside from 'hinting' that I need more beta-readers—is to come up with a series title. Why? Well, this is part of Hiding Behind The Couch, but it's kind of a spin-off too...HBTC TNG? Or something like that. Not. I'm thinking along the lines of 'Assets' but catchier. I have time to decide, anyway, but feel free to throw suggestions my way.

Also, I've been playing around with the new version of the cover, which is—hopefully—more 'New Adult'. Again, the illustration is the work of the super-talented Emma Pickering. No doubt, I'll tweak and refine a bit more before I finally settle on it being right.

Any readers of HBTC will know the series centres on a group of nine(ish) friends – The Circle: Josh, Shaunna, Dan, George, Adele, Kris, Eleanor, Andy, Jess and Sean. Krissi in Goth of Christmas Past is Shaunna's daughter, and Jay is Krissi's best friend.

The setup for this series is much the same: although Krissi and Jay are the central characters in GOCP, there is a broader group of friends/colleagues who will be more prominent in future stories. Probably. Depends on them, really. ;)

I've posted snippets featuring Krissi and Jay, so...it's time to meet someone else. This snippet features Karen Deakin, Krissi's former assistant manager, and Karen's wife Bridget. That's an L and a B, in case you're wondering.

As for maths...erm...there are fourteen letters in the first line?

“You didn’t cancel.”

“No, I—”


Karen ended the call quickly before she eavesdropped any further. That put a bit of a downer on the evening, and it hadn’t even begun yet. She was surprised at Krissi, and disappointed. They’d worked together for five years and been friends since the start. In all that time—even when Krissi was her manager—Karen had never known her to not speak her mind.

Bridget’s car pulled up outside, which stopped her dwelling on it for the time being; she’d have to say something to Krissi later, though, or she’d drive herself nuts.

“That off-licence is rubbish.” Bridget marched past on her way to the kitchen. “They don’t sell crates of beer.” She brusquely tugged two four-packs from the bag and shoved them into the fridge.

“That’ll be enough, though, won’t it?” Karen said. “Krissi’ll be driving. I’m not even sure Wotto drinks.” She tried to recall if he’d been on the beer at their wedding, but it was a bit hazy.

“For tonight, yeah. But it’s nice to have it in the house at this time of year.” She closed the fridge and turned to Karen with a suggestive grin. “Especially as you’re not breastfeeding anymore.”

There was that, she supposed.

Bridget kissed her on the way past. “Going for a shower.”

“OK.” Karen watched her leave and sighed. She wanted to still be breastfeeding, but Molly had never latched on properly, making it unbearably painful, and there was nobody offering support. Or that’s how it felt.

* * * * *

What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Wrayburn - and the excerpt has to relate to the date in some way. For links to other fabulous authors' WIPpets, visit: http://www.inlinkz.com/wpview.php?id=355404


Thanks for reading
Deb x

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Just because... #Valentine Hiding Behind The Couch


Not new material, or even a work in progress. It's Valentine's Day, which is also Josh's birthday, and it's been a busy couple of weeks. So here's an excerpt that's kind of a story in itself.



Bloody Valentine’s
14th February


Josh smiled, trying to disguise his unease with his current client—a man in his late fifties who, after twenty minutes of waffling about deaths in suspicious circumstances and violent gangland killings, had declared that he could see ghosts. But not any old ghosts. Oh no. Obviously, these were the ghosts of the victims, and in Josh’s head, he could hear them calling ‘Avenge my death!’ although these words had yet to pass the lips of his newest client. And he’d said he wasn’t going to take on any more. His phone vibrated against his leg for about the twentieth time in the past hour, and he shifted position. Ghosts. Good grief.

“When you say ‘see’, can you explain what you mean by that?”

“I don’t understand the question,” the man said. Mr. R. Forster. That was his name. No clues as to what the ‘R’ stood for.

“When the ‘ghosts’ make themselves visible to you, do you see actual people? Or do you just see lights, or—”

“Actual people,” Mr. Forster confirmed. “Full bodied, a bit wispy around the edges, but definitely people.”

“I see.” Josh’s phone vibrated again.

“Did you need to get that?” Mr. Forster asked.

“Oh, no. Sorry. It’s nothing important.” Josh smiled apologetically. He usually turned his phone off and put it away in the drawer, or left it in his jacket and hung that in the closet across the room, but today, he’d been typing a text message when Mr. Forster arrived, so he’d hastily shoved it in his trouser pocket, where it had been buzzing away ever since. “OK,” he said, “do these ‘ghosts’ talk to you, or can you just see them?”

“I can’t hear them, but they are talking. I can see their mouths moving.” Mr. Forster suddenly covered his face. “Oh God, it’s so terrible, the things these poor souls endure.” He uncovered his face again. “They’re screaming, crying out, unheard, across the void, calling for help.”

As a fruitcake. Josh’s phone vibrated again. He took it out, turned off the notifications and put it down on his desk. He glanced at the clock. Five minutes of this craziness left.

“Can you recall when these experiences first started?” he asked.

Mr. Forster pondered for a moment before he answered. “It’s been since the death of my wife.”

Josh started to make a note of this. “And when was that?” His phone screen lit up: call from Ellie. He turned it face down.

“Five years ago. Are you sure you wouldn’t like to answer your phone? It must be quite important, if they keep trying to call.”

“It’s not, I assure you.” Josh smiled—again. He was starting to get cramp in his jaw. “I understand this might be painful, and if it’s too painful, please don’t feel you have to answer. May I ask how your wife died?”

“She was killed in a car accident.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“She’s been visiting me ever since.”

“Did you ever have any bereavement counselling?”

“No. My doctor suggested it, but I told him I didn’t need it. She’s still with me, isn’t she?”

Josh shrugged. “Depends on your beliefs.”

“Do you believe in an afterlife?”

“I’d prefer not to comment. This is, after all, about you.”

“I do. And I believe that troubled spirits—the ones who were not ready to leave—get lost in between this world and the next. That’s where my wife is, and all the others calling out to me. I think she may be directing them towards me.”

Josh glanced at the clock again. Time up. He slid forward on his seat and uncrossed his legs.

“That must be some solace. That you feel your wife is helping other lost souls?”

“Yes.” Mr. Forster nodded. “I do take some comfort from it. However, I’m exhausted. I need to block them out, silence them. I’ve asked them to leave me alone, but they won’t listen. They just keep coming, again and again, ‘Avenge me! O, avenge me!’”

And there it is. Josh rubbed his nose, trying hard not to laugh. He cleared his throat.

“All right, Mr. Forster. We have another appointment booked for the same time next week, don’t we? That will give me time to consider our options, which we can discuss then. How does that sound?”

Mr. Forster stood up. He was distracted, as if watching something going on across the room. Josh couldn’t help himself; he glanced in the same direction and back at his client. Mr. Forster smiled and shook Josh’s hand.

“Thanks,” he said, indicating with a nod across the room. “My wife,” he explained. “She’s blowing out the candles on a birthday cake.”

“OK.” Josh could feel his eyes growing wide of their own accord.

“Is it your birthday?”

“Erm…”

“She’s nodding to say it is.”

Josh laughed in disbelief and combed his fingers through his hair. “Yes,” he confirmed, “it’s my birthday.”

“Have a good one,” Mr. Forster said. “See you next week.”

And then he was gone, leaving Josh standing in the middle of his surgery with his mouth hanging open and wondering if he was staring rudely at—or right through—the invisible, late Mrs. Forster. He shook himself out of it and picked up his phone—lots and lots of text messages, missed calls, emails and online notifications—there was nothing like social networking to make one feel extraordinarily popular.

* * *

Excerpt from In The Stars Part I: Capricorn–Gemini (Hiding Behind The Couch Season 4)

Thanks for reading :)
Deb x

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - Goth of Christmas Past - And Without Hot Chocolate #amwriting #lgbtqia


WIPpet numbers for 31st January, 2018:
3+1 = 4 paragraphs  Goth of Christmas Past


WIPpet Context:
I’m still snipping Goth of Christmas Past. This follows more or less straight from last week’s snippet in which Jay was contemplating vending machine soup. Note (to explain the second paragraph): Hadyn has OCD, although he has just been handling a dusty Christmas tree…

Emma—my wonderful illustrator—has come up with a second version of Jay and Krissi, which is awesome, and now I’m in a dilemma whether to keep the original (pictured) or go with the new one. I think I know what to do, but I”d appreciate your thoughts.

QUESTION: Based on the current cover, what kind of story would you expect?

* * * * *

Here’s the snippet:
[Jay] “Is the hot chocolate working?”

“It was earlier.” Hadyn was already on his way upstairs and continued in a hasty but controlled manner all the way to the toilet.

Jay eyed the machine and then the coins in his hand. He’d either get a half-decent hot chocolate or lose 50p. He decided to risk it and fed three twenty-pence pieces into the slot. The display registered 40p. He added another 20p. The display remained unchanged. On the off-chance it was a glitch in that rather than the mechanism, he pressed the ‘dispense’ button. Please insert the correct amount. Jay hit the ‘return money’ button, but the machine wasn’t having that, either.

“Keep it,” he muttered and walked off before his fantasy of taking a sledgehammer to the thing became reality. He didn’t even want hot chocolate that much, but the choice would’ve been nice.
* * * * *

What is WIPpet Wednesday?
WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Wrayburn - and the excerpt has to relate to the date in some way. For links to other fabulous authors' WIPpets, visit: http://www.inlinkz.com/wpview.php?id=355404


Thanks for reading
Deb x

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Book Review: The Rose Thief by Claire Buss

Title: The Rose Thief
Author: Claire Buss
Publisher: CB Visions
Published: 10th November, 2017
ISBN: print: 1549982443 / ASIN: B076FT93YN
Link: http://cbvisions.weebly.com/the-rose-thief.html
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36438619-the-rose-thief

Blurb:
​Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher has a problem. Someone is stealing the Emperor's roses. But that's not the worst of it. In his infinite wisdom and grace, the Emperor magically imbued his red rose with love so if it was ever removed from the Imperial Rose Gardens then love will be lost, to everyone, forever. It's up to Ned and his band of motley catchers to apprehend the thief and save the day. But the thief isn't exactly who they seem to be, neither is the Emperor. Ned and his team will have to go on a quest defeating vampire mermaids, illusionists, estranged family members and an evil sorcerer in order to win the day. ​What could possibly go wrong?

Review:
What's the worst thing about reading a book like The Rose Thief? Not having the time to stay in bed all day and read, read, read until it's all gone. For that reason only, it has taken me two weeks to read, although I'll admit I did intentionally 'Oh, dear...I'm so tired, I simply cannot read anymore tonight' a couple of times to stretch it a little bit longer.

From that, you hopefully get a sense of how wonderful it is to become immersed in the world author Claire Buss has created. This is science fiction/fantasy with giggles - of the same ilk as Terry Pratchett and Tom Hot (who, for the longest time, was my favourite author). It's that mix of the extraordinary and the mundane, the sublime and the utterly disgusting. The characters are kind of ordinary people doing kind of ordinary jobs (well, apart from the Emperor, may he live for ever and ever), and there's magic.

Now, I'm no aficionado of magic in fiction. I've read a few boffin reviews that are full-scale critiques of how the author should have done this or shouldn't have done that. I don't care. If it works, it works, and The Rose Thief works brilliantly. I couldn't tell you how long it is without looking, but I can tell you the length is just right. There wasn't a single moment where I felt the story dragged or went too fast. Plot-wise, it's plausible and well-paced with a few little twists along the way, and the world-building just happens. I didn't even notice it, which is exactly how it should be.

As for the characters...well, that's my thing. I love character-driven fiction, and while The Rose Thief isn't really that, the characters are well fleshed out with distinct personalities, qualities and talents. Ned - our intrepid chief thief-catcher - is wonderfully humble and down-to-earth. Jenni - Ned's right-hand sprite - is singularly awesome (and maybe a bit stinky). She is my absolute favourite character in this story. I'll leave you to meet the rest of team for yourself. Think CSI on LSD?

All in all, this is a fantastic novel, and there's at least one more story from this world in the pipeline, which means I'm off now to sign up for Claire Buss's newsletter so I can get in line to one-click that beastie as soon as it shows its face.

About Claire Buss:
​​​​Claire Buss is a science fiction, fantasy and contemporary writer based in the UK. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict, Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 setting her writing career in motion.

The Gaia Effect, the winner of the Favourite Fantasy/Sci-Fi book Raven Award, was published in 2016 and Tales from Suburbia in 2017. Claire has short stories in sci-fi & fantasy anthologies Tales from the Underground and Quantum Soul. Her latest novel, The Rose Thief, a humorous fantasy, is out now.

Website: cbvisions.weebly.com/ (From here, you can read the first chapter.)
Buy The Rose Thief: mybook.to/rosethief (Kindle/KU; paperback)


Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Sunday, January 28, 2018

HBTC Box Sets - an Andy moment #RainbowSnippets #LGBT

I'm posting as part of Rainbow Snippets, which is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation.

At the tail end of December, I said I'd try to post more regularly to Rainbow Snippets, but then a spider chomped me, and there was just so much life happening. So, more realistically, I'm going to aim to get in at least one post a month.

* * * * *

Last time, I posted from To Be Sure, which is a novella from the Hiding Behind The Couch series. I'm not posting from it today, because I have a (kind of) new release available (on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited) that incorporates To Be Sure and Red Hot Christmasthe novella I'm snipping from.

I'll come back to that after the snippet, because the context for my choice is actually a conversation on a thread on the Rainbow Snippets page, where I mentioned that Andy (from the series) is pansensual.

For today, I wanted to snip from a story that includes Andy, expresses an aspect of his pansensuality and does not revolve around an M/M or F/F romance. Thus, even though the two characters in this scene are bisexual and pansensual, they are not romantically involved with each other. What they have in common is lifelong friendship and strong feelings towards the same woman.

Beyond that, I'm not going to attempt explaining all the events that lead to this particular moment, but directly preceding it, Kris tried to intimidate Andy and it involved some really shady sex talk (it's complicated, as you'll discover when you read the series, or already know if you have read it ;) ).

Kris is building up to an apology, and complimented Andy's good looks along the way.

* * * * *

The Snippet:
[Andy] “I’m kind of flattered, if I’m honest.”

That didn’t ease Kris’s embarrassment. Trying to make light of it, he said, “Well, you’re safe, I promise you. You’re actually not the sort of guy I usually fall for, but that is one hell of a…fear response.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Andy grumbled. Danger excited him, a little too much.


* * * * *

The New Release!

The new release is a box set of the first ten novellas and short stories in the Hiding Behind The  Couch series. NOTE: these stories fall in between the main novels (or 'seasons') and there are also other full-length novels. It might help to think of it like a TV series with seasons plus special episodes about specific characters, events, holidays, etc. Most work as stand-alone stories, but will make more sense in context.

The novellas/short stories box set includes the prequel Beginnings, but if you're going to read the series in order, you might also want to pick up Hiding Behind The Couch Box Set One.

Both box sets are available on Amazon only (including Kindle Unlimited). All of the stories are available separately from various vendors. Links can be found on each book's page on Beaten Track Publishing.

Box Sets on Amazon (Kindle):
To help you navigate the series, there's a diagram and suggested reading orders on the HBTC Timeline page, but here's the start of it and the volume in which you'll find each story:
  • Beginnings (both)
  • Ruminations (Box Set One)
  • Class-A (can be left until much later) (Novellas/Short Stories)
  • Hiding Behind The Couch (Season #1) (Box Set One)
  • No Time Like The Present (Season #2) (Box Set One)
  • The Harder They Fall (Season #3) (Box Set One)
  • Crying in the Rain (Box Set One)
  • First Christmas (both)

Box Set Two will be out in the next month or so, and includes Seasons #4 and #5 (In The Stars Part I and In The Stars Part II—already available separately).

* * * * *

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - Goth of Christmas Past - Without Soup #amwriting #lgbtqia


WIPpet numbers for 24th January, 2018:
24-1=23 || 8-1=7 … 237 words Goth of Christmas Past


WIPpet Context:
I’m still snipping Goth of Christmas Past—another snippet of Jay. I’ve moved on quite a bit to skip over Jay’s reminiscence of goth adolescence. In this snippet, Hadyn—Jay’s flatmate and sound engineer—has dug out the fibre-optic Christmas tree at the studio…

* * * * *

And here’s the snippet:
Hadyn unwound the cable and plugged in the transformer. The tree illuminated in a brief, glorious wave of purple verging on ultraviolet…and went off. “Poop. I’ve got my soldering iron upstairs.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier for us to buy a new tree?”

“Easier, yes, but they’re mega-expensive.”

“How much?”

“A hundred and fifty quid.”

It was a lot for a tree, but the studio could afford it. “Order one,” Jay said. Hadyn took out his phone. “Actually, order two. We can have one down here and one upstairs.”

“You’re full of festive spirit this year,” Hadyn ribbed without looking up from his phone screen.

“No more than usual.”

“Christmas trees, Boxing Day gig—what’s next? Secret Santa?”

Jay fished in his pocket for change and went over to the vending machine. “It wouldn’t be much of a secret with only three of us.”

“Unless we broadened the pool.”

“To include?”

“Krissi, Wotto—oh! We could combine with the Milky’s crew.”

“We could,” Jay said absently, still contemplating the vending machine. The soup was out of order again. “I’m going to have to call them.”

“Who? Krissi and Wotto?”

“Krissi… What? No. The vending machine people. No way has all the soup gone already. I only filled it on Friday.”

“Nobody’s been here.”

“That’s what I mean. Unless we’ve got a ghost.”

“A ghost that drinks soup…”

“Yeah. Seen any orbs lately?”

“Only of the dust particle variety.”
* * * * *

What is WIPpet Wednesday?
WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Wrayburn - and the excerpt has to relate to the date in some way. For links to other fabulous authors' WIPpets, visit: http://www.inlinkz.com/wpview.php?id=355404


Thanks for reading
Deb x

Monday, January 22, 2018

Other Worlds: Rose Montague - Magic, Mayhem and a Kindle Countdown offer #LGBT #YA #heroine #UrbanFantasy

I'm going to be totally up front here. I've not yet read any of Rose Montague's books, but I'm going to be rectifying that very soon, and I'll tell you why.

What you're getting is my first impression of an author who is new to me, of whom I know nothing. No interview, no review tapping; I'm going in cold.

Before I go any further, I should mention that one of Rose's books is on a Kindle Countdown deal, and it's available at $0.99/£0.99 until 27th January, 2018.

For the impatient who aren't interested in reading on, here are the links:
Teaser:
A presidential election. A witch with a target on her back and a magical arrow. A shadowy government agency made up of witches with unusual abilities. A game called Witch Pong. The Mighty Thor?

See how it all comes together in a school you will never forget.

Blurb:
Jewel has a problem. She's in a witch school and can't get the most basic spells to work. Her true magical talents must remain hidden. That might be hard to do with a killer on the loose. Murder, mayhem, and magic with a little romance along the way.

Now that's done, let me backtrack to earlier today...

[cue flashback effect]

I'd seen the series title on Twitter, but I hadn't seen the cover or the blurb...
Norma Jean's School of Witchery

And I thought...Harry Potter.

Turns out I was a tiny bit wrong. All right, I was very wrong, because guess what!

Rose's tagline:
Urban Fantasy/YA featuring strong heroines, non-stop action, over-the-top humor and FUN
Heroines.

Heroines!

How good it that?

And there's more!
More books...

Rose advises:
The chronological order is Jade, Jane, and Jill followed by the Norma Jean’s School of Witchery series, Jewel and Ghost School. Jill bridges the gap between the Three J’Amigos and Norma Jean’s School of Witchery. The way I have written these books you can however, start with Jewel and Ghost School and then read the Three J’amigos series to get the back story on Jewel’s adoptive parents, Jade and Jane as well as her Godmother, Jill.

Well, what do you know!

✔ Heroines
✔ LGBT
✔ Fantasy
✔ Young Adult
✔ Humour
✔ Series

That'll do nicely, thank you. 🙂

Here's the montage of all five books to date (all images copyright Rose Montague):


And here are those links for Jewel again:
Lastly, here's where you can find Rose Montague: https://fantasyfunreads.blogspot.co.uk


Thanks for reading,
Deb