Monday, July 30, 2018

New release - it's got bunting and everything!

It's been a really busy day. That's what I've been telling everyone, along with mumbled explanations about uploading books, putting together covers, writing reviews and blog posts and so on and so forth.

What I've really been doing - spent an inordinate amount of time doing, in fact, is...

Finding somewhere to hang my bunting.

I kid you not.

I probably don't strike you as a bunting kind of person, but this is no ordinary bunting. Oh no. This is homemade, meticulously stitched and ironed(!) bunting.

Don't believe me? Well, feast your eyes on these splendiferous triangular beasties!


Good, eh? :D

The bunting is a lovely release day gift from Dawn Sister - one of my fellow authors in Seasons of Love anthology, which is released 31st July (officially - it's already out).

Thank you, Dawn. I intend to keep it up for at least a month. Then I'll carefully fold it away into its bag and bring it out again same time next year, and the year after, and the year after...

Why the bunting? Well, here's the cover for my story...


...and the shortest blurb I've ever written:


I think it's probably self-explanatory, but in case it isn't...


British humour, bunting, a village baking contest, a rockin' reverend with great T-shirts, a feisty older businesswoman and a young hipster, rolling pins at dawn... or something like that.

The Great Village Bun Fight is a 22k novella, available as a stand-alone story (paperback and ebook) or as part of Seasons of Love anthology, which is hooge! 192k words - ten stories themed around the seasons and love. Most of the stories are suitable for young adults (three are expressly YA fiction; three have 'mature content' flags) - there's contemporary, literary, fantasy, comedy/humour, romance and L+G+B+T+Q representation.

About Seasons of Love:
Love follows no rules. Like sun in winter and rain in summer, love can blossom in the most unexpected places. This richly diverse collection of stories proves that love is as universal and as varied as the seasons.

THE STORIES:
Tourist Season - Deven Balsam
Machete Betty and the Office Sharks - Neptune Flowers
Once Around Seven - Ofelia GrΓ€nd
Winter Blossoms - Paul Iasevoli
Year of the Guilty Soul - A.M. Leibowitz
The Great Village Bun Fight - Debbie McGowan
A Springful of Winters - Dawn Sister
Out of Season - Bob Stone
Seashell Voices - Alexis Woods
Courting Light - A. Zukowski


Reviewer copies available - please contact me via BTP Contact Page.

Thanks for reading!
Deb x

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Adopt an Indie Author Today! #IndiePrideDay


I had a tough time at school - for lots of reasons, but the one that's relevant here is competitiveness, and not my own. By the time I figured out what the problem was, I was in my mid-twenties and studying for a degree.

For brevity: I was fairly clever but shy, not good at sports, lousy at socialising, average height, average looking, an average musician - in general a bit of a wall flower. With adolescence, I put on weight, and that was so not the attention I wanted to bring to myself. In fact, I didn't want attention at all. I just wanted to get on with being me, doing what I was good at, which is also what I enjoy:

  • People watching.
  • Writing.
  • Reading.
  • Listening to music.
  • Discovering new things I'm good at.
  • Thinking round corners.
  • Being the best I can be.

So, all those competitive team sports? Pure torture. Being ranked on exam results? Much the same. Eventually, I realised that my position relative to my peers was of no consequence. I knew if I'd done my best, and that was absolutely good enough. It's my motivation, it's how I measure my achievements (or my progress towards achieving).

What has all that got to do with Indie Pride Day?

Well, there are an awful lot of authors out there, and all of us share the same goal - not necessarily to write a bestseller or make a living from our books. Many of us write for ourselves, but we publish for other reasons. I publish because I want to challenge people to think about the complexities of day-to-day life and enjoy my stories. If they don't, that's OK. There are plenty of other stories out there.

Which is the point of all the above. Like my performance on an undergraduate essay was not affected by the performance of my peers, nor does the success of other authors have any bearing on my success. Except, maybe, if we're all happy and bigging each other up. That's surely got to be a positive thing.

There are plenty of readers, all with different tastes, all looking for different kinds of stories. It doesn't really matter that the market is saturated with books, other than it makes it really hard for us wee indies to get noticed.

Thus, here's a shout out to my indie author buddies. Go visit their websites, find their books, buy/download and read them. And if you like them, tell people about it. Share the love.

And, in return, we will love you forever. πŸ’™πŸ’œπŸ’—

Some Indie Loveliness For You!

On the NewsNibbles blog, you'll find a round-up of Sparkly Badgers' recommendations, with links to books and authors:
http://www.newsnibbles.co.uk/2018/06/30/sparkly-badgers-recommend/

You can also find a whole bunch of indie authors on Beaten Track Publishing:
http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/authors

And also on Supposed Crimes: https://supposedcrimes.com/

Quite a few authors I know have books available at discounted prices this month:

A.M. Leibowitz
C H Clepitt
Claire Buss
L.N. Denison
Lyra Shanti
Joanne Van Leerdam
Jacqueline Church Simonds
Margaret Adams Holmes
Timothy Casey

I'm going to link to Goodreads profiles (in no particular order), as this is the easiest place to find comprehensive links to authors' work:

Jeanne G'Fellers
Carrie Pack
Kaje Harper
Edmond Manning
Russell Ricard
Amelia Faulkner
Martin Belk
Donna Jay
David E. Manuel
Jonathan Hill
Kath Middleton
Julie McLaren
Matthew Drzymala
David Wailing
Tim Arnot

As always, thanks a million for reading.
Deb x

Thursday, June 21, 2018

New Release! Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2)


First up, sorry if you're feeling a bit like "Yeah, yeah, Deb, I know! You've got a book out today." With so many authors, so many books and the velocity of social networks, I have to send out the message on as many channels as possible. Hence, the overkill some of you might experience.

Conversely, you might be thinking "Oh, I'm glad I saw this blog post or I wouldn't have known you had a new book out." In which case, my work here is done. :)

Sooo...

Tabula Rasa is out today! (June 21st, 2018)

Tabula Rasa is book two of the Gray Fisher trilogy (you can get book one - The WAG and The Scoundrel - for 99c if you're quick - links on the Beaten Track page). This series is a spin-off from Hiding Behind The Couch - you don't need to have read any of the main series to make sense of the Gray Fisher books.

The stories feature Gray Fisher and Rob Simpson-Stone, who were in the police together. The series is contemporary fiction with elements of (white-collar) crime and (LGBTQ+) romance.

Tabula Rasa Blurb:
After years of working for the police - both as a beat bobby and undercover - Rob Simpson-Stone is moving on with no regrets. It may be too late to rescue his marriage, but his relationship with his seven-year-old son, Lucas, is back on track. Rob's grown-up nieces might be a taller order, but he's prepared to do whatever it takes to prove they no longer need to worry that one day he won't come home.

Fate, however, has different ideas.

When Rob fails to arrive at his leaving do, his former boss/new PI business partner Gray Fisher can't understand why nobody else is worried Rob is MIA, never mind that Gray is pointlessly missing out on a night in with Will.

As the reasons behind the night's events unfold, Gray's past recklessness threatens to catch up with him, putting those he holds close in danger and forcing both Rob and Gray to forge reluctant alliances.

Purchase links:
Beaten Track: ebook | paperback
Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBooks

Yesterday, I spent a 'short' time putting together a video trailer. OK, it took me bloody hours, and I tried to coerce Nige into helping me, all the while knowing I'd end up watching over his shoulder and telling him how to do something he's expertly qualified and experienced to do. In the end, he did help with advice and managed to not splain to me - he seemed very proud of himself for that. :D

Also, it's our wedding anniversary today. We'll celebrate by...doing the same as we do every Thursday.

Video trailer:



Excerpt (Rob):
Context: Rob and Naomi are having a pub lunch on the way back from a prison visit during which Rob sprang an unpleasant surprise on Naomi.
They sipped their drinks; their meals arrived. The silence continued, finally broken by Naomi’s request for ketchup and Rob’s unchecked reaction.

“What?” She was immediately defensive. “I like ketchup.”

“I didn’t say a word.”

“You didn’t need to. Your face said it for you.” She deposited a large dollop on the side of her plate, clicked the lid shut and set the bottle down. There was a smile lurking behind that moody scowl.

Shaking his head, Rob tucked into his gammon and chips. “You and Lu would get on like a house on fire.”

“How so?”

“United in your love of ketchup. The kid puts it on everything—chips…”

“What are chips without ketchup?”

“Fry-ups…”

“The perfect accompaniment.”

“Carbonara.” Rob nodded at Naomi’s plate. Almost to spite him, she swirled her pasta-loaded fork in the ketchup, covering it completely. Rob laughed, relieved the ice was starting to melt. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I should’ve warned you.”

“Was it an option?”

“Yeah. I bottled out.”

“Were you worried I’d jeopardise your success in talking Freddie round?”

“No, nothing like that. I didn’t want to upset you. And for the record, it wasn’t my idea.”

“I’d gathered as much.” Naomi exchanged her fork for her glass. “It has Will Richards written all over it.”

“Does it?” Rob thought it had come from Gray—contrary to his claim it was Will’s scheme—because it was a DCI Fisher tactic too. Clearly, they were well suited.

“What’s it about, or can’t you tell me?”

“I can’t say much as it relates to an ongoing investigation.”

“The PI business?” Naomi guessed.

“Yep.”

“Mmm.” She wanted to say more, and Rob wanted to tell her more. In spite of what he’d witnessed at the prison, he trusted her to keep it to herself, but it wasn’t solely his decision.

“You’ve got ketchup…” He subtly indicated her chin. She wiped with her napkin, but the ketchup stayed put. She tried again. Rob shook his head. She gave her chin one more broad wipe, to no avail. It was the tiniest spot and he’d only used it to redirect both of their attention, but this was possibly worse. “So what have you been up to?” he asked, attempting to move the conversation on again.

“Are you really going to let me go through the rest of lunch with ketchup on my chin?” She held out her napkin and leaned forward. “No spit,” she warned.

With a smile, Rob took the napkin and rubbed at the offending spot, but the ketchup was stubborn as anything.

“Everything all right with your meals?” A waiter stopped at their table.

Naomi quickly leaned her chin on her hand. “Yes, thanks.”

“Great, cheers,” Rob said. “Could I trouble you for a glass of water?”

“No trouble,” the waiter said and left, soon returning with the water. Rob offered thanks and waited for them to move on before he dipped a corner of the napkin into the glass and used it to successfully clean the ketchup away. The cool wetness amplified the heat radiating from Naomi’s skin, and Rob was once again fighting the urge to touch. Carefully withdrawing, he dropped the napkin onto the table and sat back in his chair, fingers locked and steepled above his plate.

Naomi frowned in concern. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Rob clasped his hands tighter together, not yet safe from temptation. “Can I be honest, Naomi?”

“Twice in one day?”

“Actually, it was the same point, but I got sidetracked.”

“Oh, now I’m intrigued.” That smile…if that didn’t mean what Rob thought it meant…

“All right. Cards on the table. I’m very attracted to you. I have been since I met you.”

“When you thought I was Aaron’s wife,” she said. Her smile faltered, and there was a hint of worry there, but it made her no less beautiful.

Thank you for reading!
Deb x

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Great Pretendo #flashfriday #sparklybadgers

He’s a fast-talking, dishevelled inventor trapped in a world he never made. She’s a transdimensional renegade magician’s assistant trying to make a difference in a man’s world. Together, they fight crime! (inspiration: http://theyfightcrime.org)

(Flash Fiction, written for the Sparkly Badgers.)

***

The audience oooh’d as Pretendo circled the wooden crate, his final sword raised. Bend, flick, recoil… The blade flashed under the spotlights and plunged, piercing the lid, dead centre. As one, the audience gasped and held their breath.

Beneath the crate’s false floor, Shula waited out the seconds, knowing she’d be stuck a good while yet. Pretendo loved to drag out the sword removal part of his act even though the audience was only interested in seeing his ‘assistant’ emerge unscathed.

He was a fake. All magicians were, but that was beside the point. Pretendo wasn’t actually a magician. He was a thief on the run, and he shouldn’t have made it this far. Shula had flagged his passport with the portal authorities, but some…idiot had let him through. So, Shula did the only thing she could: downed a couple of TT pills, sent a 10–43 to the division, and hopped on the bus with him.

Now, they were here: Earth 6424/12bf4a with its bizarre and frankly illogical gendered hierarchy, which she’d discovered firsthand within minutes of arriving and before she could secure a stable 4G–HTL connection that would have forewarned of her instant demotion to second-class citizen.

Pretendo had leapt clear of the bus before it stopped and darted into the closest building, tripping over a sandwich board in his haste. The sign was still wobbling as Shula raced past.

Wanted: Illusionist + Illusionist’s assistant. Auditions today.

There was little difference in the tech from one world to the next, but theirs was strange, new… Magic. Guaranteed to get them the gig.

Illusionist.

Illusionist’s assistant.

Damned infuriating, not to mention degrading, cramped, boring…and itchy. Shiny, stretchy fabric that barely covered her mammary glands and genitalia—and the women here wore weapons on their feet. Still, with her holo-shield activated, it was good cover.

Whoosh. One sword down. Only seven more to go.

Thud, thud, thud…

“Hello?” Male voice, unknown.

Whoosh. Whoosh.

Thud, thud, thud.

“Where am I?”

Thud, thud, thud.

Whoosh.

What the…

Shula gripped the handles and pulled, opening a six-inch gap. Shafts of light cut across the upper section of the crate. The whoosh of another sword’s removal was followed by a muted curse from the silhouette above.

“Stay down!” Shula hissed.

Whoosh, whoosh…

The silhouette jolted violently. “Wh-who said that?”

“How did you get in here?”

“I, erm…” Whoosh. “Ouch! What the hell is this?”

That was the final sword. “Hold tight, I’m coming up.”

With the man’s weight, it took a fair bit of effort, but the clanks and rattles of the padlocked chains had stopped, and the lid was rising.

“Quick!” A clammy hand grasped Shula’s and pulled as she pushed, hoisting her upwards as Pretendo threw the lid aside, and, like jacks in a box, she and her crate-crasher sprang to their feet.

“Thank you, thank you!” Pretendo gushed and bowed to his whooping audience, oblivious to the added extra in his act.

Shula held her grin and curtseyed, muttering to her unwitting sidekick, “There’s a bar across the street. Wait there. I’ll find you and explain. Go!”

With her help, he scrabbled free and stumbled away, just making it offstage as Pretendo turned around.

“For my next trick, I will take this beautiful lady—” he lifted Shula’s hand to his greasy face and squelched out a kiss “—and saw her in half!”

***

By the time Shula reached the bar, she’d figured it out. Aside from the man’s dishevelled, shell-shocked appearance, he was pale, shivering and sweaty. It could’ve been flu, she supposed—the virus thrived on Earth 6424/12bf4a—but she didn’t think so. He raised his head, offering a weak nod.

“Here. Take this,” she instructed and popped a TT pill from the packet onto his quivering palm.

“What is it?” he asked, but not before he’d swallowed it.

“For travel sickness.”

“I don’t get travel sickness.”

“This kind, you do. We all do. So, who are you?”

“Tim Cox. Professor of…erm, well…” He rubbed his scruffy head in fake bewilderment.

“Quantum physics?” Shula guessed. Tim’s jaw dropped. “How did you get here?”

“Are we in London?”

“We are,” Shula confirmed. “But not your London.”

He perked up. “No way! It worked?”

“How many moons are there?”

“Orbiting Earth? Two, obviously.” He laughed like it was a ridiculous question.

Shula got up and beckoned him to follow her outside, where she pointed up at the sky and its solitary moon. “I think it’s safe to say it—whatever ‘it’ is—worked.”

“I was right! Wormholes are stable—”

Some are,” Shula interjected. “However, yours is connected to a magician’s prop, which is not in the least stable, particularly given who the magician is.” She hooked Tim’s arm and marched him back across the street, but he broke free. “Professor, you must leave before it’s too—”

The theatre doors burst open. Pretendo emerged, puffing and panting, and hauled the crate into his stolen van. That was when he spotted Shula. He scrambled into the van and took off.

“Damn it! My shield’s failed.” She hailed a passing taxi and jumped in—as did Tim—and ordered the cabbie, “Follow that van!”

Well, this was a mess. Every twist, turn and bump, the crate rattled closer to the swinging, open back doors, and now she had not one, but two transdimensional trespassers. It was far from ideal. Although…

“Can you collapse your wormhole, Professor?”

“How will I get home?”

“Good point.” But she could figure that out later. “I’m with the Transdimensional Crime Division, and I need your help. So, the wormhole…?”

“Transdimensional—” Tim uttered, awestruck.

“Can you collapse it or not?” Shula snapped.

“Of course, but—”

“Do it.”

“Now?”

“Soon as you like.”

“If you’re sure…” Tim pulled a device from his pocket, poked the screen a few times and shut his eyes. “Here goes nothing.” He pressed the screen one last time.

Up ahead, the van briefly expanded, and then shrank to non-existence.

Friday, June 01, 2018

The WAG and The Scoundrel - 99c limited offer



To celebrate the release of Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2) on June 21st, The WAG and The Scoundrel (Gray Fisher #1) ebook is available for 99c (or thereabouts. Amazon, you know... Usual price is $3.99).


Buy The WAG and The Scoundrel (Gray Fisher #1):


Preorder Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2):


Friday, May 18, 2018

What A Scorcher! #flashfriday #sparklybadgers

A Hiding Behind The Couch flash fiction, written for the Sparkly Badgers. Theme: extreme weather (British style ;)).

***

A pink straw sunhat dropped onto the patio table.

Iris glanced up from her magazine as Pauline passed between her and the sun—not that it mattered when she was under an umbrella. Pauline gingerly lowered herself onto the other recliner and lifted the hat, revealing a bottle of sun lotion—no, make that oil. “Bloomin’ hot, in’t it?” she said. She flipped the lid and upended the bottle, generously greasing her left arm, then her right.

“Here we go. Back in 1976, we was frying eggs on’t car bonnets…

“Well, we was!”

“Aye. You told me last time we had a heat wave.” About ten years ago, if memory served.

Pauline squinted with one eye shut, checking her arms were well coated before she squeezed dollops onto both thighs. “Nowt wrong with making the most of it.”

“You could’ve just had a barbecue, love.”

“I don’t think they was invented then, but that weren’t the point. If you’d had cars round your way—”

“Eh, we did have cars, ta very much. We just weren’t as daft as you lot. Who in their right mind thinks ‘Bloody hell, it’s hot today. Think I’ll get the eggs out’?”

“Just a bit of fun.”

“You could’ve had one of them balls on a stick.”

“A what?”

Iris mimed throwing a ball sideways and batting it.

“Oh, you mean Swingball. Did you have one?”

“We did, love. Only the dog played with it, mind. Kept him occupied for hours, once he got hold of that ball.” Iris smiled to herself, remembering how she’d had to bribe him with cheese to let go or he’d just hang there all day. She missed Nero. He’d been a smashing dog, even if he was a vicious little sod.

“Do my back?” Pauline rolled onto her side. It would leave greasy fingerprints all over Iris’s magazine, but they were on their holidays, so she obliged, slapping the magazine down on the table as noisily as she could to let Pauline know she was doing it under duress. Not even a slight breeze ruffled the pages, which was a good thing, as it meant next door’s wind chimes were quiet too.

Iris eyed the white straplines over Pauline’s bright-pink shoulders and wrinkled her nose. “You realise you’re already burnt to buggery, don’t you?”

“Tanned, love.”

“Burnt. To buggery.”

“It’ll take more than a couple of days of our piss-weak sun to burn me. I’ve got that sort of skin, you know. What’s it called…olive?”

“Like Popeye’s girlfriend?”

Pauline chuckled and wriggled. “Get on with it, then.”

“All right, mardy.” Iris tipped some oil into her palm and spread it over Pauline’s back and shoulders. They were red-hot, but she was the same every summer. The sun only had to poke its head out from behind the clouds and she’d be stripping off as if her clothes were on fire. “You’re done.”

“Ta, love.” Pauline rolled onto her back and stretched for her hat but couldn’t quite reach. With a sigh, Iris passed it to her and exchanged the bottle of oil for her magazine. “We should go away somewhere proper,” Pauline said.

“Like where?”

“I dunno. Blackpool?”

“Christ, no.”

“Have you ever been?”

“I have, love. Four years on the trot with our Georgie and that fucker. He had the poor lad up and down the beach on them bloody donkeys like I don’t know what.”

“Are they still there, the donkeys?”

“No idea. It’s cruel, though, in’t it? Poor buggers, trudging through the sand all day in that heat.”

“Aye. Like that lickle donkey what took Mary to Bethlehem,” Pauline mused. Iris gave her an old-fashioned look. Pauline grinned back. “How about Conway?”

“Always rains in Wales.”

“Scarborough?”

“Too bloody windy.”

“Margate, then.”

“It’s down south.”

“And?”

“Have you got a passport?”

Pauline frowned. “Give over.”

“Watford Gap border control…”

“I’m not that daft.”

“Says she who’s covered herself in oil. Eh, mebbe we should fry you on a car bonnet. Mind, you’d slip off and bash your daft head on’t bumper.”

Pauline pulled her hat down over her face, ignoring Iris’s mockery, but it didn’t stay there for long. British summers were too short and unpredictable for Pauline to waste on sulking under her sunhat.

Iris lit a cig and sat back, appreciating the quiet while it lasted. No cars or lawnmowers, just the occasional coo of a wood pigeon in the trees at the bottom of the garden and the buzz and flutter of bees and butterflies passing through. Aside from the trail of a distant jumbo jet, the sky was an unbroken expanse of blue.

“We don’t need to trek all the way to the seaside for a proper holiday,” she said. “Besides, you know what’ll happen if we do. We’d spend God knows how long squashed up like sardines in a sweating-hot coach only to get there and have it bloody rain all week. No, love. I’m happy here. It’s me home from home.” Iris glanced over at Pauline and sighed. “Talking to meself, then. Right, I see.”

She got up to adjust the umbrella so it still covered her and then nearly jumped out of her skin when Pauline gave a loud snore. “Watch it or I’ll impale you on the bloody thing,” she muttered. Pauline didn’t even stir.

Iris returned to her chair and staring at the sky. She’d bob in and make a cuppa soon. She couldn’t be doing with the heat, and it was cooler in the house, which was where Blue and Monty were hiding. Not a mad dog or Englishman in sight, she started to doze herself.

***

Pauline snorted and sat up with a start. “Is that Mr. Whippy?”

“Trust you to hear that.” He had to be a mile away, but he was getting closer.

“I’m buying,” Pauline said, already on her feet. “Strawberry Mivvy?”

Iris smiled. “Aye, love. Why not? But don’t go chucking it on a car bonnet, eh?”

Monday, April 30, 2018

Upcoming Release: Curtain Call, by C H Clepitt

Blurb:
C H Clepitt has a knack for creating real, relatable characters, who face adversity with humour and humanity, and Curtain Call is no exception.

“Possibly the best thing I’ve read by C H Clepitt so far.” - Murray McLean

When an assistant to the director role turns into P.A. to her favourite film star, Jen can’t believe her luck. Eleanor Francis is charming, kind and funny, but she has a secret, and when tragedy strikes, things threaten to unravel at an uncontrollable pace. Despite being out of her depth Jen has to adapt to her new role quickly, to protect Eleanor, with whom she is rapidly falling in love.

This is a sweet, understated story that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. If you’ve enjoyed C H Clepitt’s other books then this is not to be missed.


Reviews:
“The story is very well written and flows nicely... I would love to read more about the two main characters in future books.” - Simon Leonard - Black Books Blog

“Love blossoms in an unexpected place in this emotional short story. A change of direction for Clepitt but delicately written and heartfelt.” - Claire Buss - Author of  The Rose Thief  and other novels.

“The story's optimism that makes it such a joy to read and leaves one feeling there must be hope after all.” A.M. Leibowitz - Author of  Keeping the Faith  and other novels.

Preorder Link:
Kindle:  relinks.me/B07CKFLYW6
Get in touch via  chclepitt.com  to order paper
 
A Word from the Author:
This started as a short story, prompted by an anthology call by friend and colleague A.M. Leibowitz. I was at the maximum word limit, and felt the characters still had more to say, so, when it turned out my submission was 4 times longer than all of the other submissions, I withdrew it, expanded it and this novella was born. I am really proud of what I have achieved here, and think it might be some of my best writing to date. I really hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Contact:
If you would like to arrange an interview or spotlight, you can contact C H Clepitt via her website.