Monday, December 09, 2019

Rainbow Award for The Great Village Bun Fight

Woot! My 2018 novella The Great Village Bun Fight won an award this weekend. :)

The Rainbow Awards are an annual/bi-annual event, run by Elisa Rolle, celebrating LGBTQ+ books across all genres.

Entrants make a donation to an LGBTQ+ charity of their choosing, and this year, the awards raised over $12,000.

A huge thank you to Elisa for all her hard work and dedication to the awards and the contributions they make, not just to writers and readers but to the LGBTQ+ community.




All’s fair in love and war. But not in baking.

A humorous story about baking and village life. Also includes a rockin' reverend, cakes and bunting.

Do what you do best.

So said Henry’s grandad a year ago to the day as he handed Henry a small, red-foil-wrapped box that gave a metallic rattle when he shook it. Inside: a large bunch of mismatched keys held together by a ring the size of a bangle.

The keys to the bakery.

Henry’s bakery.

No going back. Definitely not after Margaret changed the sign on her shop so it read:

THE Village Bakery & Grocery
Home of the Banton Bun

Not THE Banton Bun, mind you—Margaret doesn’t have the Joneses’ secret family recipe—but a reasonable approximation.

As for Henry doing what he does best… Henry Jones the Ninth is no baker, that’s for sure. He wouldn’t even know how to assemble a Banton Bun, let alone bake one. But he does know his way around computers, accounts, managing staff and stock inventory. And he rides a mean tricycle.

You might wonder how that could be a good thing. Read on, and all will be revealed.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Fifty at fifty! Meredith's Dagger


OK, so I missed it by a few minutes in BST as it's technically now the 21st August, but let's assume it's still the 20th for me as it still is for many of you.

Today I released Meredith's Dagger - my fiftieth novel - on my fiftieth birthday! Both of those facts are quite hard to believe. I made it to fifty! Woot! And fifty books? Well, I wrote most of them in the last ten years, not sure how...

I'm going to keep this short and give a little background to Meredith's Dagger, which I originally wrote in 2011 but then set it aside while I did further research into the relevant local history. Then I got caught up in all that research and it was a bit overwhelming, so I let it rest awhile to work on other books.

I've come back to it several times over the years since and made it through the first few chapters before I reached the point where I wanted to slap Julian - you'll reach that point too, but he's not so bad really once you get to know him. ;)

This year, I've essentially rewritten the entire novel - expanded the characters so they're deeper and more well-rounded. I've also fictionalised the setting, so whilst a lot of that historical research underpins the events, the entire work is fictional with a few 'inspired by reality' moments. Well, the bit about the cholera epidemic is true.

I hope you find Meredith's Dagger entertaining first and foremost, but there are some important historical truths within the story too, relating to the treatment of women in general and specifically within psychiatry.

On that note, I'd like to acknowledge and thank a few people, not least Vicki Coppock, my lecturer for the Politics of Mental Health, whose teaching provided the empirical evidence for what I had long believed was wrong with psychiatry and taught me the real 'art' of feminist critical thinking. Thank you also to Andrea, Nige, Amy, David, Michael and Jor for polishing this novel into the shiny, lovely thing it is, and for your encouragement and support. You are wonderful!

I'll post again later in the week and share jewellery sketches by Emma Pickering, which I'd hoped to include in the book. Alas I couldn't clean up the images, and the originals have been lost to the passage of time.

I was keeping this short, so I'll leave you with the purchase links:
BTP eBook: https://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/shop/proddetail.php?prod=md_format
BTP Paperback: https://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/shop/proddetail.php?prod=md
Amazon: http://mybook.to/meredithsdagger
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/945614?ref=b10track
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/merediths-dagger-debbie-mcgowan/1132189626?ean=2940163259724
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/meredith-s-dagger
Apple: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/merediths-dagger/id1469904018

Thanks for reading!
Deb x


Monday, July 08, 2019

Keeping House - New Release from Jeanne G'Fellers

Title: Keeping House
Author: Jeanne G'Fellers
Publisher: Mountain Gap Books
Series: Appalachian Elementals (#2)
Genre: Appalachian Paranormal Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Purchase Links:

Blurb:
Centenary Rhodes is caught in a deal she didn’t make. Thanks to her eternal lover, Stowne’s, quick thinking, she’ll live forever, but there’s a hitch. Cent’s now fey, and three months out of the year she’ll live on the other side of Embreeville Mountain among the Hunter Fey, serving their king, Dane Gow.

As Cent begins wading through the anachronisms that come with being a Hunter, she learns that nothing is what it initially seems. Cent shares several past lives with Dane, who wants her back, and Stowne’s lied to Cent so many times that she’s having doubts about their marriage. To make matters worse, the past Hunter Kings are influencing Dane’s behavior, and the youngest Hunter, Brinn, might well be the most dangerous of them all.

It’s going to be a cold, dark spring, and Cent needs to unite both sides of Embreeville mountain before her eternal life, her relationship with Dane, and her marriage to Stowne come permanently undone.

Another rich Contemporary Appalachian tale about fantastic people and the magic they possess, including LGBTQIA+ characters Human and otherwise.

My Review:
What a brilliant second instalment in the Appalachian Elementals series.

Without looking at my review of Cleaning House, I don't know if I've said this before, but I really appreciate the glimpse into a culture that is at once distinct from my own and yet eerily familiar. My heritage is English with a hefty dose of Scots and Irish, and so much of the language, customs - right down to particular slang words - have carried over the centuries in both British English and Appalachian culture. The author's use of old Scots' dialect is both entertaining and used very effectively as a narrative device - a visible tracker for subtle changes in characters. At one point, I spotted the shift in language and found I was muttering oh god, oh god at my screen because the other characters were still in the dark. I do so love being in the know as a reader. :)

Aside from the wickedly biker-goth setting, there is, of course, Cent's life journey and the situation imposed on her at the end of the first book. While most readers could probably follow what's happening in Keeping House without reading Cleaning House, the connections and dynamics between the characters, human, elemental and otherwise, are all well established, so I wouldn't recommend jumping straight into book two. Why would you want to when this is such a grand story?

What I loved most of all about this book is how it took my stance on all of the different characters (i.e. I loved Stowne and Rayne, wasn't sure about Pyre and hated Dane with a passion) and kicked the feet out from under it. So, yes, Dane is much more than I credited her with, and Stowne and Rayne, well, it's complicated.

A great ensemble cast, atmospheric scenery and some quite terrifying moments all culminate in a great read (and a fair bit of thumb-twiddling while I await book three).

About Jeanne G’Fellers:
Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, Science Fiction and Fantasy author Jeanne G’Fellers’ early memories include watching the original Star Trek series with their father and reading the books their librarian mother brought home. Jeanne’s influences include author Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert.

Jeanne lives in Northeast Tennessee with their spouse and five crazy felines. Their home is tucked against a small woodland where they regularly see deer, turkeys, raccoons, and experience the magic of the natural world.


Monday, July 01, 2019

Smashwords sale, new novel soon, plus stepping away from the writing conveyor belt

Every now and then, I remember I'm supposed to let my readers old and new know what I've been up to, what's on the horizon and all that jazz.

Well, this is going to be a short (but hopefully informative) post. :D (OK, not that short. I don't really do short.)

We're midway through 2019 - the first year in many (since 2013) when I haven't already written at least one novel, and I'm OK with that. I realised a couple of years back that I'd somehow ended up on the book factory line, which isn't a bad thing, as it comes from readers actively asking for more.

For instance, I wrote Checking Him Out in 2014, and enough people wanted Noah and Matty's story, so I published Taking Him On in 2015 (and Checking In because people wanted more of Sol and Adam too), and then there was Jesse and Leigh's story, The Making of Us, which I released in 2017. During those three years, I also co-wrote the Seeds of Tyrone series with Raine O'Tierney (three novels), six short stories, seven novellas and seven novels. (I have no idea now how I did it.)

My plan is still to release one final novel for the Checking Him Out series, plus a crossover novella. Also in the pipeline is the final novel in the Gray Fisher trilogy, the next instalment in Hiding Behind The Couch and a collaborative project with David Bridger.

It perhaps goes without saying that I really needed a break from the rapid write-edit-publish-repeat cycle, not so much due to burnout, although I've found it harder to write during the past couple of years. It's more about the way my brain works. I miss having a decent amount of time to rework stories before publication - a costly luxury in the current indie publishing climate. Readers have so many books to choose from, most writers fear losing vast swathes of readership if they leave it too long between books.

Don't stop asking for more, though!

For the time being, I've slowed down a bit, though I haven't been idle. I'm busy with my day jobs (publishing and university), and I've also been working on Meredith's Dagger: the novel I originally wrote in 2011 for NaNoWriMo, which means it was stuffed with redundancies. Note: was stuffed. I've essentially rewritten it, and I'm about to send it to my proofreaders, ready for release next month. I'll say more nearer/at release date time. However, you can preorder a copy from: https://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/meredithsdagger

I've also written a couple of shorter pieces this year, both of which are available for free (either on this blog or via the external links below).

Nina, Pretty Ballerina

Part of Play On... A FREE Valentine's Day collection of short stories, poetry and prose, inspired by the songs of ABBA.



Highlights (co-written with A.M. Leibowitz)

The one where Notes from Boston’s Amelia Roberts takes a much-needed vacation to England and runs into Shaunna Hennessy from Hiding Behind The Couch—a fortuitous meeting for both.



In conclusion, I haven't stopped writing, nor intentionally paused, and I could reach the end of this post and suddenly be struck by an irrepressible urge to stay up writing all night for the next month. But as it stands, the stories likely won't come as thick and fast in future as they did during the past seven years.

If you've only just discovered my writing, you can find the full list of all my stories on this page on my website: http://debbiemcgowan.co.uk/?n1=publications

And throughout July, my stories are heavily discounted (some are free) in the Smashwords sale. Visit: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/debbiemcgowan

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Friday, May 17, 2019

#FlashFriday The Sound of (Never) Silence #SparklyBadgers

Dear Tinnitus,

My constant companion: I love how you mix it up once in a while and change frequency, never content to be just an E that’s about twelve octaves above middle C, and when you added in that sub-bass, well! For a while you had me wondering what kind of lunatic learner pilot clocks up flying hours at four in the morning, but no. It was only you.

Remember the days of twenty bell lyres knocking out ‘Scotland the Brave’ in an enclosed space? Of course you don’t; that was your gestation, and you’ve been composing your own harmonies since.

Sometimes you almost drown out the birds, and on a late-spring late morning, that’s no bad thing. For this year, the days are done when the blackbird lures me from sleep with his sweet love song, which, incidentally, I only recently realised is reminiscent of Cinderella’s theme in Into The Woods. Clever chap, that Sondheim, seeing as blackbirds are not native to the USA. Perhaps he visited this fair isle and was inspired to capture the melodies of a British dawn chorus.

But I digress, for this morning, the blackbirds squawk, parent–child, child–parent, and in these days when I share my life with a cat, my only thought is oh, god, what is he terrorising now? He’s a mercifully poor hunter who, in three years, has gifted me several live butterflies, a hawk moth, half a dragonfly, a starling, a blue tit and two live toads.

The toads, he dropped outside the door…

Meow, meow! [I’m pretty sure it’s dead…it’s not? Oh—oy! Don’t let it go! I just spent ages catching that!]

The blue tit he carried through the open window, set it down on the floor and lay next to it…

Meow, meow! [BEHOLD! I, the tiny tiger, have brought home dinner for all!]

See, I always said I wanted to learn a second language. Who knew I’d become fluent in Felinese?

MEOW, MEOW, MEOW, MEOW! [Where are the people with warm beds? I am home and I need you! I’m here, I’m here, I’m here—ah, there you are.] Purrrrrrrr…

Meep, purrrrrr, meep, purrrr… [Focus, will you? I’m trying to boop you. Oh, look I can type! How do you spell tuna? Yes, now, please, then I’ll leave you alone, I promise.]

All I can say is thank goodness the dogs can’t jump up onto the table. Well, they probably could if they weren’t so ‘busy’ alerting every other dog in town to the fact that somebody somewhere just knocked on a door.

I’d imagined working from home would be productive, QUIET, stress-free, heavily caffeinated… Alas, you, my squealing-buzzing friend, thrive on caffeine, and I simply cannot permit you to add any more lines to your three-part not-even-a-harmony.

So it’s just you and me, dear Tinnitus, give or take a bird or two, the cat, dogs and I do believe that is an actual plane flying over. Or is it?

Monday, May 06, 2019

New Release - Resolve by Emily Alter


BLURB:
For a relationship to work, it is not just love which is demanded. Resolve is, too.

Cole has his senior year of college and a photography business to worry about, so he could really do without the multiple sessions with physiotherapists his parents force him to go to. It leaves little room to consider romance as a choice for him.

Pool instructor and avid swimmer Justin has always been his twin’s shadow. Where Aaron goes, he follows. He may not have much of a social life outside of his twin, but he loves his job and all the extra swim time he gets. He doesn’t think that he’s lacking anything.

Then Justin’s booked for a photo shoot with Cole. Being together, as right as it feels, also means they’ll have to come face to face with their belief systems. They must find the resolve to be their own person, or they could lose it all –themselves included.

Resolve is the 2nd book of the Demands series. Although they can be read as stand-alones, characters from previous books will make multiple appearances throughout the series.

PURCHASE LINKS:
Resolve (Demands, #2): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RKLHKQS
Trust (Demands, #1): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07G5JGYCY (Trust is going on sale this week and will be available for 0.99 only. It’s your chance!)

CHARACTER PLAYLISTS:
(I love these! They say so much about the characters. :))
Justin’s Playlist
Cole’s Playlist

Justin is all about swimming, but he’s also very introspective. He wants songs that don’t make him lose focus, which he can chill with, so not even all of them have vocals.

Cole’s music taste is… Edgy is not the word, but… He likes powerful lyrics and guitars and songs he can feel understood by, even though he’s not fully hardcore (there are a couple of songs which are “edgier” for the times he’s really mad at the world, but he doesn’t allow himself to be that mad for too long).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Emily Alter is a pansexual author of LGBTQ+ romance. She lives in Spain, although most of her time is spent in an imaginary world with her characters.

A hopeless romantic, and a psychology student, writing characters has always called to her. Writing romance, the kind she is represented in, seems the perfect combination of the three things she’s the most passionate about.

LINKS:
Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/emilyalter (become a patron and get four exclusive sketches by the end of the month, along with all the benefits Patreon offers)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/itsemilyalter
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/emiwhat
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/emiwhat_ 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16993854.Emily_Alter
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/emilyalter
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/drYm8L


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Nina, Pretty Ballerina - a short story

Part of Play On... A FREE Valentine’s Day collection of short stories, poetry and prose, inspired by the songs of ABBA.

Nina, Pretty Ballerina
© 2019 Debbie McGowan

I didn’t like her. Not at first. She was too pretty. Too perfect.

The box belonged to my sister, a pink, fluffy, glittery little thing—the description suited both—from a boy in her class. I remember her ripping off the paper, squealing in delight and then casting it aside, concerned only with the accumulation of Valentines, not sentiment.

She wouldn’t let me see what was inside, but that had never stopped me before.

Back then, though, all I knew was the box had two keys.

One was for a tiny, pointless padlock that hung from the front like a little robot Scotsman’s sporran—Kick me in the goolies, I dare ye. Oh, dare accepted, my good wee McMan.

The other key stuck out the back and would, inevitably, bring about the end of the world.

I waited, biding my time for just one opportunity to get at that box. Then I would destroy it, tear out its tinkling innards before it triggered the apocalypse.

Of course, I had not reckoned on falling in love.

I boinged her once.

Several times.

Daily.

But that was before. Mostly.

Any time my sister was at Brownies, later Guides, invited to tea with a friend—high tea, no less, she thought she was hoity-toity, all that and a bag of Monster Munch—and then, finally, boyfriends, I’d be straight in her room to pick that pointless padlock, prepare a pillow and suffocate that stupid little box until it fell silent. Then I would lift it, quite reverently, and place it on top of the quilt, press my finger to the side of her head, push, push, push…and release.

Boing.

Boing.

Boing.

It was really rather cruel—not to my sister. She had new toys, new friends. And I…

I had nothing but my mindless torture of this tiny, ridiculous creature and her perpetual pirouette.

Until one day I didn’t.

The day I watched her dance, and when her dance was done, I wound the Doomsday Key and watched her dance again. And again.

And again.

I couldn’t stop, willing her on through her cyclical decay, delighting in the enthusiasm with which she embarked upon every new dance as if it were her first.

She had become my everything.

It was, ultimately, my undoing and hers.

One twist was, in the end, all it took. One twist and a click, and the key would turn no more.

I shrank away, backed up against the wall as, in horror, I realised what I had done. I had overwound the mechanism, and this was it; her last dance.

How could I go on without her? No, I would not think of it.

I watched, more attentive than ever before, as she spun, and spun, and spun. All my boinging had left her slightly off-centre, giving the illusion of motion on two planes, a freedom of movement beyond her miniature plastic form.

As we entered the decay, I drew close, my tears captured in her tiny dancer’s mirror.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, my breath misting our reflections. “I killed you.” The weight of my guilt, my loss, was too much, and my head fell forward, burying my face in the quilt. As the final notes of her melody twanged out, I cried, “I’ll miss you!”

Inconsolable, hysterical, caught in my own cycle of she’s gone forever and I need to get rid of the evidence, I lost all sense of time and reason, or else I would, perhaps, have greeted what came next with greater incredulity.

Boing. My neck cricked with the sudden push on the side of my head.

Boing. And again.

Boing—

“Hey! That hurts!” I whipped my hand out from under my face and made a grab for my assailant, but she was too quick.

“Tell me about it.” She shimmied, rustling the nets of her pink tutu, and smiled. “Thank you.”

“For killing you?”

“For setting me free.”

“Right.” I wasn’t going to ask.

***

I still haven’t, yet here we are, three years later, in a nightclub on Valentine’s Day. Every so often, it rains glitter and confetti; in a net high above our heads, red heart-shaped balloons await release. But we’re not here for any of that. We’re celebrating Nina’s birthday.

“Another drink, my love?” I offer, knowing she will refuse. She is frustrated by the dancing all around her. Strangers stare at the wheelchair and her blanket-covered legs, but no-one ever asks. A head injury is what we’ll tell them if they do.

“Let’s go home,” she says with a wide, happy smile, which I endeavour to return. I’m as excited as Nina for what the rest of the night holds, but I’m nervous too. She’s a born performer, while I’m a heavy-handed klutz, but she’s promised she’ll be patient, so I’ll give it my best shot.

We arrive back at our apartment, and I help her to her feet.

“I’ll just get changed,” she says and whirls away to our bedroom.

I’m still dithering in the doorway when she emerges some time later. She rolls her eyes. “Who’s the tightly wound one now?”

My laughter trembles with first-night jitters. I take them with me to the corner of the room, where I’m all set up, and I tell myself I’m ready for this. After all, I’ve practised for three solid years to get to this night. But I feel sick, and my palms are so sweaty I’m ashamed when she takes my hand.

“I know what you need,” she says. “What will help calm your nerves.”

“You do?”

“Yes.” She backs off a few feet and, making sure she’s facing me, positions her arms above and slightly forward of her head. “Boing me.”

“I can’t.” Even though she’s come clean and told me she liked it.

“Just once, for old times’ sake.”

“Nina—”

“Come on.” She’s not giving up on this.

Reluctantly, I step towards her, and she nods, egging me on. I still don’t want to do it, but…

Boing.

Down she goes, right down, her head mere inches from the floor. She’s rebounding before I can fully go into a panic about whether her spring is up to it.

“Again!” she cries, still caught up in after-boings.

“Just once, you said…”

“Again!” she insists.

Boing.

“Woohoo! Again!”

Boing.

“Ag—”

“No more!” I say, and I see the blur of her scowl as she gradually comes to a standstill. I point behind me to remind her how we got onto boinging in the first place.

“Oh, yes!” She ruffles her tutu, straightens her tiara. She’s so pretty, my Nina. So perfect. And I love her.

I return to my previous position, no nausea, no sweaty palms. They’ve been lost in the boing, and while a few jitters linger, they don’t incapacitate me.

“Ready?” she asks.

“Ready,” I say, and I pick up my glockenspiel mallets.


The End