Wednesday, April 26, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - The Making Of Us (Nervous) #amwriting #lgbtqia

WIPpet numbers for 26th April, 2017:

268 (26 and 1+7) words from The Making Of Us (Checking Him Out Book Four)

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the others here.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

This snippet comes a short while after last week’s: Jesse has taken Leigh to meet his mum for the first time.

* * * * *
“Are you ready?”

Leigh nodded and tilted their head towards the door in encouragement, but the door whooshed away from me before I had a chance to open it.

“Hello, oh!” My mum blinked at us and looked to see what I was staring at—my keys still dangling from the lock. She tutted and pulled them free. “So it is working, then?”

“What’s working?” I asked.

“The lock.”

“Eh?”

Mum shook her head and smiled at Leigh, who was giggling at my side. “You must be Leigh. I’m Susan, or Sue—Jesse’s mum.”

“Hi, Sue.” Leigh took my mum’s lead and stepped around me into the hallway. They shook hands. “It’s lovely to meet you.”

“And you. Jesse’s told me so much about you.”

“Same.” Leigh glanced back at me and grinned, which seemed to unstick my feet from the floor.

I followed them in and closed the door, sniffing and inhaling the scent of vanilla candles and…was that the smell of cookies baking? Bless my mum. She was at least as nervous as we were. Well, more than Leigh and not quite as much as me, I envisaged. Mum had already led Leigh into the living room, where—oh…hell. My kid photos on the mantelpiece. I stopped and leaned on the doorjamb, pinching the bridge of my nose like that would stop me turning red.

Leigh beamed at me. “You were cute.”

“Still am,” I chanced. Mum almost laughed her head off. “What are you trying to do to me, Mother?”

She gave Leigh a conspiratorial wink. “A good host always offers refreshments to his guests.”
* * * * *
What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - 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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - The Making Of Us (Inside every fat person...) #amwriting

WIPpet numbers for 19th April, 2017:
(even though it’s now the 20th—I was a bit tied up with Reunions launch stuff yesterday and didn’t get around to posting)

19+4=23 sentences from The Making Of Us (Checking Him Out Book Four)

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the others here.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

In this snippet, Jesse is taking Leigh to meet his mum for the first time.

* * * * *
“Anyway, she knows you’re queer and that you use they/them pronouns. Hopefully, she’ll get it right, but it’s my fault if she doesn’t.”

“You always do.”

“But I told her about you the first time I saw you in the pizza restaurant and I thought you were a girl. I did explain.”

“I don’t mind if she gets it wrong. It’s when people assume or ignore what I’ve told them. They do it at the clinic.”

“Really? That’s just wrong. It’s like…” I stopped talking. This wasn’t about me.

“Like what?” Leigh prompted.

“I was going to make a comparison to the way doctors assume I have a choice about being fat, but it’s not the same. I could lose weight if I tried hard enough.”

“Could you?”

“Yeah. I just need to think like a thin person.”

“Exactly,” Leigh said. “And all I’ve got to do is think like a girl.”

“But you can’t, because you’re not.”

“And neither are you.”
* * * * *
What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - 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, April 19, 2017

Reunions - Launch Week - Release Day!


It's here! It's here!

At times, I honestly wondered if it ever would be. Two years of writing, weeks of editing, proofreading, formatting and faffing. Phew!

Reunions - Season Seven of Hiding Behind The Couch - is out today (19th April).

I'll keep this short.

Firstly, thank you x millions to: Nige, Andrea, Amy and Jor for editing, proofreading, reading and cheering me on. Thank you also to the Rainbow Snippets and WIPpet Wednesday authors for snippeteering, reading, commenting and sharing.

If you haven't read any of the Hiding Behind The Couch series before, you could start with this book, but it does contain spoilers for previous stories. You can find a reading guide on this page: http://deb248211.blogspot.co.uk/p/hiding-behind-couch.html

There is also the Hiding Behind The Couch website, which has some bonus extras as well as background information about the stories and what inspires me to write them.

Lastly, there is my website: debbiemcgowan.co.uk, where I have excerpts, poems and some short stories, along with the info on all my books.

One more lastly... there's a fabulous release day review here: http://amleibowitz.com/2017/04/19/review-reunions-hiding-behind-couch-7-debbie-mcgowan/
 


Thanks for visiting, reading, buying, supporting...you rock!
Deb x

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Reunions - Launch Week Day Three


I fail at reading calendars.

I've been telling everyone Reunions is out on Thursday 19th April, and it is out on the 19th of April, but that's...Wednesday.

Tomorrow!

Gulp.

In my defence, writing Hiding Behind The Couch does require rather creative use of calendars. To illustrate, here a screenshot of my timeline calendar, which I use to keep track of characters' birthdays, ages, anniversaries and so on:



Yes, OK, I know April 19th isn't a Thursday there, either, but my brain frazzes on numbers if I consciously think about what I'm doing.

So, anyway, the long and short of it is this:

- Season Seven of Hiding Behind The Couch -
 is out tomorrow!

(Oh, and did you spot that little sneaky title up there, next to 'Reunions' in the screenshot? That's Season Eight...coming when it gets here. ;) )

FOR FUN...
A quick-fire interview with Sean Tierney (caught on the hop between jobs)

Place of birth: Derry, The North of Ireland

Parents: My lovely mum, Saorla; dad...let's not talk about him.

Siblings: Older brother (by four years), Finn

Ethnic Background: Roman Catholic (minority in the North of Ireland)

Favourite subject at school: I really loved religious studies, actually (don't tell Joshy). I was taught by nuns, and there was a fair bit of religion in our curriculum. I always found it (and them) fascinating. I even thought about entering the priesthood for a time. It's not for me, though. Apart from the cups of tea and chatting with people. I could do that all day, which is why I chose the career I did, obviously.

Job: clinical psychologist (palliative care)

Married: No. I was. After the divorce, Sophie and I got together. That was five years ago, and we have a young son, so we're as good as married, I suppose.

Children: Just the one - Dylan Robert. He's a cracker.

Who do you most admire? Anyone who's happy with their lot, whatever that might be.

Relationship with God: I can't decide whether I believe in Him and wish I didn't, or I'd like to believe in Him but don't.

Overall outlook on life: I have my ups and downs like anyone, but I'm pretty cheerful most of the time.

Favourites:
Food: pizza - and my mum's cooking
Drink: tea
Books: any at all
Movies: action-packed, no thinking required
Sports: football (playing and spectating)
Colour: green, of course
best way to spend a weekend: long bath, lazy lunch, bit of telly, family time and football
pets: Sphinx - a Persian/Siamese cat with attitude

Do you have a secret? Wouldn't that be telling?

What do you like best about Josh? His charming way with words.

What do you like least about Josh? He always sees me coming.

(questions taken from http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/interviewing-your-characters)

BLURB:
When greed, fear and obsession rule the senses, danger is never more than a heartbeat away.

A night of celebration affords the perfect opportunity for an unlikely band of criminals to make their move, but as details emerge, it soon becomes clear the crime is far more sophisticated than the police first thought.

And that's only the beginning.

* * * * *

Reunions is Season Seven in the Hiding Behind The Couch series.

This instalment follows chronologically from Two By Two (Season Six) and Those Jeffries Boys.

* * * * *

WARNING: this story touches on themes of suicide ideation, sudden infant death, cancer, dementia, drug dependency and dissociative PTSD. These are not graphically or gratuitously depicted, but may, nonetheless, cause distress to some readers.

The story also includes a few brief scenes of an intimate (non-explicit) nature.




Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Reunions - Launch Week Day Two


So, yesterday (Sunday), I started my Reunions launch week really well by totally forgetting to run my giveaways while I was on Beaten Track Radio. That's typical of me...as is blaming Nige, and it was his fault. Honest. ;)

Thank you to all of you who tuned in and listened on Sunday. I had a lot of fun, and your questions were awesome!

Now, the whole point of these launch week shenanigans is to let people know about the release of Reunions, because I do have a few series readers, but it's been a couple of years since Season Six (Two By Two) was released, and I want to make sure everyone who's interested gets to know about it.

If you are new to Hiding Behind The Couch you probably don't want to start with Reunions. Although I do re-introduce the characters in each of the main books (the 'Seasons'), there will be lots of spoilers relating to events that have happened previously. The good news is that you can download the first prequel (Beginnings) and Season One (Hiding Behind The Couch) for free. It's an ongoing series, so there's no rush to catch up. :) The free downloads can be found here: http://hidingbehindthecouch.com/?n1=where_to_buy#free - you can also download Beginnings for free on Amazon.

What about those giveaways? I hear you ask (or not, but you know what I mean).

Up for grabs:
- an advanced ebook copy of Reunions - just reply to this post if you're up for it.
- a custom, one-of-a-kind Hiding Behind The Couch t-shirt - if you fancy that, comment 't-shirt'. We'll talk size later. The design will be a 'witty quip' from the series (or something along those lines). We have a wonderful local company that will make t-shirts with any print and in any quantity. So far, Nige has bought me four as presents, which leads to some interesting conversations - I think that's probably the point, except it goes something like this:

Person: #PDJ?
Deb: Yeah. It's a character in my series. I killed them. It stands for 'Poor Dead J...'
Person: Oh. *polite nod*

Person: Who's Josh?
Deb: *peers down at t-shirt which reads 'What Would Josh Do?'* He's the main character in my series. It's called Hiding Behind The Couch.
Person: So, what, he's a superhero or something?
Deb: No, he's a psychologist.
Person: Oh. *polite nod*

Person: Do you like horses?
Deb: *sighs and curses Nige for buying a t-shirt printed with SAY IT, DO IT, HORSE IT. Meanwhile, Nige is laughing and thinking it's hilarious* Nope. It's a game I made up in my series. It's called the Love Hearts Game.
Person: The series is called the Love Hearts Game?
Deb: No, that's Hiding Behind The Cou...oh, never mind. Yes, I like horses.

Person: Are they a big company, then, Jeffries and Associates?
Deb: In their world, yes. It's a fictional logistics company in my series, Hi—
Person: Logistics, eh? That's some serious adventure. *walks off, chuckling*

Just kidding. They amuse my chiropractor anyway. (That's Don Palmer at http://www.ormskirkchiropractic.co.uk)

I think that's all for this post, apart from the purchase links...


Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Making Of Us - I do #RainbowSnippets #LGBTQIA

Brief explanation:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the others here.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

I wasn’t going to post this week, but I just reached 50k, so here are the six lines that took me across the threshold!

Here’s the snippet:
“If you don’t want to, that’s OK,” Leigh assured me doubtfully. “We could leave it for a bit, until we’re—”

“I do.” I looked up and held Leigh’s gaze—until they broke it with an eye roll.

“I wasn’t proposing!” they said. What could I do but kiss that cheeky grin?

* * * * *

Rainbow Snippets 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 (no spoilers please!).

In this group you'll find anything from romance and historical fiction to mystery and YA. The common thread is that every story's main character identifies as LGBTQ+. The snippets could range from zero flames to full-on sexytimes, anything goes content-wise. The only rule is snippets will be 6 sentences long–one for each color in the Pride flag.

* * * * *

And…if you’re reading this on Sunday 16th April, I’m on Beaten Track Radio from 8–9 p.m. (BST - that’s 3–4 p.m. EDT / 9–10 p.m. CET). I’ll be answering questions, sharing some music and generally being slightly less introvert than usual.

You can listen via:


Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - The Making Of Us (Imposter) #amwriting

WIPpet numbers for 12th April, 2017:

12 paragraphs from The Making Of Us (Checking Him Out Book Four)

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the others here.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

Jesse and Noah are English literature undergraduates; they have a presentation to do…

* * * * *
The day of the presentation came. I’d put forward all my best arguments for why Noah should do the talking, but he was having none of it.

“Who’s up first?” our Discourse Analysis lecturer asked. A hand shot up somewhere in front of us, and the lecturer beckoned the brave volunteers to the front of the theatre. It was an OK presentation. Even if it hadn’t been, I was all admiration for the way they’d just got up there and done it, and I joined in heartily with the applause at the end.

“Who’s next?”

More students volunteered, and on it went. There were some serious show-offs in our class who used videos and jokes, but as I listened, I realised it was to cover how little they knew, and as our time neared, I started to think…maybe…maybe I could do this.

The applause rumbled to an end after the penultimate presentation, and the lecturer scanned the theatre, gaze homing in on Noah and me. “Saving the best till last?”

Ah, man. No pressure, then?

Noah started to rise from his seat and held out his hand.

“What?” I asked.

“Give me your notes.”

I shook my head—“We’ll do it together”—and followed him, edging sideways along the row of seats.

“Fickle,” Noah muttered over his shoulder on our way down to the front. I was too nervous to think of a witty comeback.

While we loaded our presentation onto the computer, we agreed to take a slide each. Then I read the title slide. Post-Modern Discourse and Context. What the hell did that mean? Did we really put this together? What was I even doing here? I knew nothing!
* * * * *
What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - 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, April 10, 2017

The Meaning of Alliance #LGBTQIA

Here's the point at which some people will mutter, 'Oh, no, not another blog post about yet another M/M Romance debacle.' Yes, I'm afraid it is, because it's...well, let's call it a 'passionate' community, which isn't surprising, given the popularity of Romance as a genre overall, and the fact that M/M Romance is - debatably - considered the largest subgenre of LGBT fiction.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I am NOT saying this relates to all authors of M/M Romance, nor even to all straight female authors of M/M romance. A few authors have posted on their blogs about how (rightly) upset they are by being tarred with the same brush. Some of those authors ARE allies to some parts of the LGBTQIA+ community. But take a look at all those letters and remember: it's entirely possible to be an ally to one at the expense of others. Rarely have I seen an M/M Romance author/ally take to the podium to fight for lesbian rights or the marginalisation of trans men, or the fetishisation of trans women and intersex people. The alliance is often exclusively to gay men, and, at a push bisexual men who 'pass as' gay (which is bi-erasing).

Please note the word 'rarely' in the above. There are some authors of M/M Romance - regardless of sexuality/gender - who are strong, outspoken advocates of the community as a whole. They understand and acknowledge their privilege (if any), and they do their best to use it wisely. That is what it means to be an ally.

An ally will fight for you, defend you - even in your absence. An ally will believe you when you say 'I am hurt' and they will ask if they can do anything to help you heal. An ally will take on your enemies in your name. They will stand united with you, even if it means putting themselves in harm's way.

For those who might not be aware of what happened (this time) - and that's going to be pretty much everyone outside of the online M/M Romance community as well as a few of those within it:

Without naming names (they've had enough publicity out of this one), last week, an 'author' of M/M Romance posted, on Facebook, the statement: 'I identify as a gay man'. This author is, in fact, a collaborative pen name for two female authors, neither of whom have publicly come out as anything other than cisgender, heterosexual women, so this statement is, at best, problematic. Their claim since is that they used the wrong wording; it was a simple mistake, and their intentions were honourable. What they'd intended to say, if they are to be believed, was something like:

I identify WITH gay men (which they can't)
I empathise with gay men (better)

Now, it may well be that one or both of these authors are gay trans masculine people but haven't made that statement in public, and they are perfectly entitled to keep it to themselves. No one should be put in a position where they are forced to come out. However, if they are not out, they can't make a statement like this, regardless of how true it might be. They cannot publicly identify as a gay man if they don't publicly identify as a gay man, by which I mean, they need to explain themselves.

Whatever they meant, and however well-intentioned they claim to be, it is all negated by them laughing along with a fan's comment that the 'haters' (anyone who spoke out against the post - and those who did were LGBTQIA+ people and their real allies) should be rounded up and sent off to kill themselves.

In the event that it sounds as incredible to you as it did to me, here's a screen capture, with names removed.


So...

Let's talk about the responsibility of allies.

A couple of years ago, I volunteered to edit on a Don't Read in the Closet event run by the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads, which culminates in the publication of up to 200 free stories that are posted online, both as ebooks on the MMRG website, and as text threads on Goodreads. When someone asked why they were posted as text threads, one of the moderators explained that they'd received messages from readers who were LGBTQIA+ and lived in countries where being such was illegal (often carrying the death penalty). Those readers were thankful for those stories, because they were a lifeline, a connection to their community, and accessing them online via Goodreads was the safest way of reading them.

Now, imagine one of those readers discovering that someone who, to them, is something of a hero (celebrating the love of two men), condones the suggestion that they should be rounded up and sent off to kill themselves.

Think about the number of young LGBTQIA+ people who consider (and often commit) suicide. What if one of those young people stumbled across that discussion thread? This isn't just an off-the-cuff, flippant comment that can be excused. It is incitement to hatred, and it is dangerous.

Let me just pause here to say...there are so many wonderful allies out there, and brilliant organisations who support LGBTQIA+ people of all ages and walks of life. Some of us feel strongly enough to speak out and take a stand, but these occurrences are few and far between, so please don't be disheartened.

It's clear what the authors should have done - if they really are allies. They should have said something like 'I appreciate your support, but please keep your homophobic, hateful rant to yourself, and maybe have a think about what you're saying.' Or words to that effect. I'm having a problem with polite comebacks, to be frank.

As for the other authors fearful of being tarred with the same brush: there's no hiding from the fact that there are some within the M/M Romance community who behave appallingly - authors and readers - and they do so whilst waving the flag of alliance. Some don't even realise they're doing it (I like to hope).

Ultimately, as an ally, you cannot possibly understand the lived experience of the group to which you are allied. You can't. Nor is your alliance a coat of armour against the slings and arrows of those you hurt (accidentally or otherwise), and if they tell you that what you said or did hurt them, they are not wrong. YOU are.

The choice is simple. You either say sorry like you mean it and vow to do everything in your power to redress, or you stop calling yourself an ally and accept that you are in it for the money, or prestige, or whatever it is you get from writing about gay men falling in love and living happily ever after.

Now would be the time to stand up as a real ally - of gay men, or of the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole, and being a letter in that acronym does not automatically afford you alliance to the rest.

Thanks for reading,
Deb (non-binary, bisexual, white English, working-class woman - yes, I guess that's my big coming out, like anyone who knows me hasn't figure it out by now).

Saturday, April 08, 2017

The Making Of Us - Carpe Diem #RainbowSnippets #LGBTQIA

Brief explanation:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the others here.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

I was a bit stumped for a snippet today, and in the end I went with 12 short paragraphs (rather than 6 sentences—a double rainbow? ;) ). Jesse and Leigh are at the ‘tell our friends’ stage.

Here’s the snippet:
We were still holding hands when Matty arrived twenty minutes later and stopped a few feet away, his mouth and eyes wide open in a ‘Matty shock-horror’ face. He pointed at our joined hands. “Wh-whe-when did this happen?”

I turned to Leigh. “I thought you’d told him.”

“Nope. I was waiting for you.”

“Really?”

“I wouldn’t do that, Leigh,” Noah said. “You’ll be waiting forever.”

I laughed incredulously. “You have gotta be kidding me.”

“Carpe diem, mate.”

Now I knew he was joking, and leaned in as if to whisper to Leigh, even cupping my hand around my mouth, and said, “D’you know how long he kept Matty waiting?”

“How long?”

“A whole bloody year,” Matty complained.

“A year?” Leigh repeated. “What on earth were you waiting for, Noah?”

“For me to sit still.” Matty grinned. He hadn’t actually sat down yet.

* * * * *

Rainbow Snippets 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 (no spoilers please!).

In this group you'll find anything from romance and historical fiction to mystery and YA. The common thread is that every story's main character identifies as LGBTQ+. The snippets could range from zero flames to full-on sexytimes, anything goes content-wise. The only rule is snippets will be 6 sentences long–one for each color in the Pride flag.

* * * * *

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - The Making Of Us (Face Time) #amwriting

WIPpet numbers for 5th April, 2017:

It's my ‘baby’ sister’s 40th birthday today! :)

247 words (7-2=5, and 4) from The Making Of Us (Checking Him Out Book Four)

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the others here.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

This snippet starts with a private message from Leigh to Jesse.

* * * * *
Hey Jesse. Hope your day’s going OK and you’re getting loads done. x

If I’d had my phone with me, I’d have got the message while I was in the waiting room.

Then, 11:30:
That was a mad lecture. Advanced maths? Call that advanced? Haha. x

Only I could fall for a number buff. I was OK at maths. Advanced maths? I didn’t even know what that was.

Next message, 13:00:
Eating lunch…wish you were here. x

Could a heart explode from swelling with love? Yeah, I was pretty sure it was love by now.

Final message, 16:10:
Are you ever coming online today? Pleeeeeaaaase? x

My face was stuck in a grin as I typed:
Hey Leigh. What you up to? x

. . .

Hold on. I’m calling you. x

Calling… Oh, shit. I dropped my phone in horror. Was I in a fit state to receive a call? Unlikely, but not much I could do about that now. I hit ‘accept’.

“Hi!” Leigh grinned at me.

“Hi.” Urgh. My hair was stuck up all over the place. I attempted to smooth it with my hand.

“Were you sleeping?”

“Y…no, actually. Why?” Silly question.

Leigh’s left—right? I couldn’t tell with the camera flip—eyebrow went up. “You suit the spiky look.” Left eyebrow: same side as their lip piercing.

I laughed, embarrassed but not. “D’you think?”

“Yeah! It’s very punk. Whatcha listening to?”

“Pink. The Truth About—” ha, that was apt “—Love.”
* * * * *
What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - 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

Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Making Of Us - The Fat Controller #RainbowSnippets #LGBTQIA

Brief explanation:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the others here.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

In the snippet below, it’s the morning after Jesse and Leigh’s ‘date’, and Jesse’s reflecting on his sleepless night. The poetry relates to his university coursework.

Here’s the snippet:
I had too much Larkin in there, but in our seminars, we’d been exploring ‘irony and understatement’, which was surely just being ‘British’—something Philip Larkin did particularly well. I preferred Roger McGough’s dry sarcasm, largely because when I read his poems, I heard them in the voice of the narrator of Thomas and Friends, which was fun in an ‘I’m a sad English student’ way.

At the platform, he awaits
Percy in his green-grey regalia…re-grey-leer
Neither Henry nor Thomas nor any other
Loco, oh no—it must be Percy
The Fat Controller decreed.


Who actually thought it was a good idea to name a character in a kids’ programme ‘The Fat Controller’? Well, anyway, sad English student that I was, I still didn’t read post-war British poetry for fun, and I’d thought it would help me sleep, as in bore me to unconsciousness. Needless to say, it didn’t work, because every time I thought about Leigh—therefore every couple of minutes or so—my belly did a roll and my pulse shot off at some dangerously high speed. I was too hot, threw the duvet off, too cold, pulled it back on, too thirsty, needed a drink, drank too much, needed the loo, and so on and so forthed my way through to giving-up-on-sleep time.

For reference, here’s a clip from Thomas and Friends:


* * * * *

Rainbow Snippets 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 (no spoilers please!).

In this group you'll find anything from romance and historical fiction to mystery and YA. The common thread is that every story's main character identifies as LGBTQ+. The snippets could range from zero flames to full-on sexytimes, anything goes content-wise. The only rule is snippets will be 6 sentences long–one for each color in the Pride flag.

* * * * *

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - The Making Of Us (Over Eager) #amwriting

WIPpet numbers for 29th March, 2017:
29th of the third month = 293 words from The Making Of Us (Checking Him Out Book Four)

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the others here.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

This snippet is the morning after Jesse and Leigh’s first ‘date’.

* * * * *
“What are your plans for today, then?” Mum asked. “Seeing Leigh, I suppose?”

“I hope so. We didn’t arrange anything, but I might suggest we go for a walk or something. What’s the weather forecast?” I had my phone in my pocket, so I could’ve checked for myself, but my mum would know without looking.

“More of the same. It’ll break tomorrow.”

“Good,” I said, and not for the delight of basking in another day of ‘Indian summer’. I hated being so hot and sticky, especially at night. Especially when my head was already full of stuff that kept me awake.

Mum got up and took her cup over to the sink. “I’m going for a shower.”

“OK.” That was fair warning not to use the taps or flush the loo until she was done. I watched her leave and then took out my phone, planning in my head what I was going to say to Leigh. Hey, what are you up to today? No, that sounded like ‘if you’ve got nothing better to do’. Hey, I’d love to meet up today, maybe go for a walk?’ Hmm…better. …maybe go for a romantic walk. But Leigh had beat me to it.

Hi Jesse! Thanks for coming with me last night. I really enjoyed it, and being with you! Wanna come over? Or have you got loads to do today? It’s OK if you can’t. x

With shaking hands—and, for the first time ever, gratitude for autocorrect—I typed back: Hey Leigh. Thanks for inviting me. It was awesome. I’d love to come over – was thinking we could go for a walk together? Maybe? What time is good for you? I stopped short of saying ‘I could leave now’ and finished with ‘x’.
* * * * *
What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - 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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Making Of Us - Getting High #RainbowSnippets #LGBTQIA

Brief explanation:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the others here.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

In the snippet below, Leigh has taken Jesse to see a friend perform at an open-mic night. Sorry it’s eight sentences, not six. :( It needed the last paragraph for a sense of context.

Here’s the snippet:
Once I was settled in the corner, Leigh slid—more scooted—along the seat, and I got a waft of that citrusy smell again. I switched to breathing through my nose, getting high on the mix of that smell, the dizziness of slightly hyperventilating and Leigh being just a few inches away. They giggled, and I shrugged to ask why.

“I can’t reach the floor.”

I peered under the table as Leigh kicked their legs like a kid on a dining chair. I hadn’t noticed, but the bench was high enough that my knees weren’t bent up the way they usually were.

“Piss poor ergonomics,” Leigh said—engineering speak. “Must’ve been someone your height designed these.”

* * * * *

Rainbow Snippets 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 (no spoilers please!).

In this group you'll find anything from romance and historical fiction to mystery and YA. The common thread is that every story's main character identifies as LGBTQ+. The snippets could range from zero flames to full-on sexytimes, anything goes content-wise. The only rule is snippets will be 6 sentences long–one for each color in the Pride flag.

* * * * *

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - The Making Of Us (Purple) #amwriting

WIPpet numbers for 22nd March, 2017!
(2017/22)*3=275 (rounded to a whole number) words from The Making Of Us (Checking Him Out Book Four)

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the others here.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

In this snippet, Jesse and Leigh are about to go on their first (kind of) date.

* * * * *
Leigh came into the living room, shoving stuff into the pockets of their…blue? pants. Whatever colour they were, Leigh’s shirt appeared to be the same shade, over which was a striped waistcoat. Probably not blue and yellow. Baseball boots had replaced the Doc Martens of the past few days.

“Blisters from hell, mate,” Leigh explained.

“Yeah?”

Leigh nodded and opened their mouth to say more, but got cut off by Sol’s exclamation of, “Good God. I’ll go find my sunglasses, shall I?”

Leigh rolled their eyes but then looked doubtful. “It’s not too bright, is it?”

“Not for me,” I said, although I was also curious enough to come clean. “I’m colour blind.”

“Are you?”

“Not completely. I mean, I can tell your pants are blue.”

“Purple,” Leigh and Sol said together.

“OK.” I laughed. “And your shirt’s purple, too?”

“Yep. Have a guess at the waistcoat.” Leigh was clearly enjoying this.

“Well…” I squinted, like that would make any difference. “It looks blue and yellow to me, so I’m gonna go with purple and…green?”

“Almost.” Leigh pointed to the stripes in turn. “Red, green, red, purple, green, pink, green, red, purple.”

“Wow, that’s a lot of colours.”

“I can change if it’s too much.”

“No! It’s not. You look great.” Blue and yellow or all those other colours they’d said, they really did.

“So, I’m guessing you can’t tell what colour my hair is?” Leigh speculated.

“Um…purple, by any chance?”

They grinned. “Got it in one.”

“I’m a quick study,” I said, returning the grin and feeling pretty pleased with myself. This was much more like the banter we’d had in the summer.
* * * * *
What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - 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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Making Of Us - Same Old Jesse #RainbowSnippets #LGBTQIA

Brief explanation:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the others here.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

Here’s the snippet:
When I thought back to the first time I saw Leigh and felt the tug of attraction—OK, full-on crush—and Matty told me Leigh wasn’t a girl, I did have to consider what that meant, but not because I’d thought Leigh was a girl. All I knew then was what I knew now; I was head over heels, and Leigh being queer—the word they said fitted them best—was irrelevant to that feeling, other than pushing me to reconsider who I was myself.

Well, I was the same old Jesse Thomas I’d always been. I was male. I’d never doubted it, and my gender had never been called to question the way it was for Leigh, and sometimes for Matty, who wore make-up, had longish hair and moved very gracefully. He was feminine—or femme, he said—but he was definitely male, and if anyone told him he looked ‘so gay’, Noah stepped in and said, ‘Do I look gay, too?’

* * * * *

Rainbow Snippets 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 (no spoilers please!).

In this group you'll find anything from romance and historical fiction to mystery and YA. The common thread is that every story's main character identifies as LGBTQ+. The snippets could range from zero flames to full-on sexytimes, anything goes content-wise. The only rule is snippets will be 6 sentences long–one for each color in the Pride flag.

* * * * *

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - The Making Of Us (Wiggling Toes) #amwriting

WIPpet numbers for the Ides of March!
15 (for the day) paragraphs from The Making Of Us (Checking Him Out Book Four)

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the others here.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

In this snippet, Jesse is sitting in Noah’s backyard, and Leigh has gone inside to get drinks.

* * * * *
I’d never noticed Leigh singing before. I wasn’t musical myself, but I could tell if someone was singing in tune. Leigh’s voice was incredible. In tune, yes, but there was something more, like they were channelling the oppressive warmth of the evening and transforming it into this husky, rich melody. It was so beautiful, I didn’t realise I’d stopped breathing until Leigh was standing next to me, holding out a can of Coke.

“You all right, Jesse?”

“Um, yeah.” I nodded vigorously enough to rattle my brain, if that were possible. “What was that song?”

“Song? Oh! It’s called ‘All the same to me’. I’ve been listening to it all day, and it’s stuck in my head. D’you like it?”

“Yeah, I really do. You have a really good voice.” Really, really… Urgh. Come on, Jess, get it together.

“Thanks. My friend wrote it.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. I think you’d like her other stuff.” Seeing as I still hadn’t taken my drink, Leigh put both cans down and hopped up onto the table, sitting with legs crossed, the toes of one socked foot wiggling mere inches from my hand. The motion was hypnotising.

You know what I would’ve loved? For us to have been at that point where I’d just reach over and massage Leigh’s foot while they talked. Which would mean first asking Leigh out on a date, and Leigh accepting. Then we’d have to establish some kind of relationship. How long would it take before we were comfortable enough with each other—

“Those boots gave me blisters,” Leigh said.

“Did they?” I was pretty sure they’d said something else before that, but wiggling toes, daydreams—I was starting to understand how Noah almost failed first year. This was crazy.

I got the feeling Leigh was aware of my sporadic loss of concentration, but they continued anyway. “They’ll be fine once I’ve worn them a few times. Same with my last pair. So you’re not interested, then?”

“In?”

“I mean, it’s OK. I’m going anyway. I guess I could ask Matty.”

Right, so this was the bit I missed.
* * * * *
What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - 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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Making Of Us - Piercings #RainbowSnippets #LGBTQIA

Brief explanation:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse and Leigh, who first appeared in Taking Him On (Book Two), which is Noah and Matty’s story.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective.

Here’s the snippet:
I liked piercings. They were fun, and if I’d been slimmer, or less bothered about not being slimmer, I’d have probably got my eyebrow pierced, although…maybe it would draw attention away from the rest of me.

I couldn’t recall if Leigh had piercings when I first met them. I was kind of overwhelmed, and everything had gone a bit hazy and soft focus. Whether Leigh had them or not, I’d still feel the same, but the nose stud was definitely recent.

Would the one on their lip make kissing more difficult?

* * * * *

Rainbow Snippets 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 (no spoilers please!).

In this group you'll find anything from romance and historical fiction to mystery and YA. The common thread is that every story's main character identifies as LGBTQ+. The snippets could range from zero flames to full-on sexytimes, anything goes content-wise. The only rule is snippets will be 6 sentences long–one for each color in the Pride flag.

* * * * *

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - Not My Coach #amwriting #BeBoldForChange #lgbtqia


WIPpet numbers for 8th March, 2017:
No numbers, because I checked the count for my WIPpet snippet, and this number magic happened:


WIPpet Context:
It’s International Women’s Day, so I thought a WIPpet featuring a female character would be most appropriate. This is one of my three (it was only two this morning) current works in progress, tentatively titled Not My Coach. It’s a stand-alone story, featuring Charlie Davenport (a minor character elsewhere in the HBTC universe). The cover is a placeholder, probably…

She appears mostly in Two By Two (Season Six) and Those Jeffries Boys (character special), as well as a couple of chapters in Reunions (Season Seven - out in April). I was reading Beginnings (free ebook)—the first prequel—this morning, in which Charlie is still in a pram.

A few years have lapsed since; in this snippet, Charlie is thirty-five.

* * * * *
“Get warmed up, Charlie. Nish is coming off.”

She was out of her tracksuit in seconds and up on her feet, jogging on the spot, stretching her hamstrings, the left still tight from her injury, but she was so done with sitting out, and it’d loosen up soon enough, if Nish actually made it off the pitch before the final whistle. It was taking her forever.

“Coach, she needs help.”

He glanced to the pitch first-aiders, but they weren’t looking his way. “She’s nearly here now.”

Nish was barely halfway, although that was plenty close enough for Charlie to see the pain on her face, symmetrical dark brows pinched together, nose wrinkled and teeth bared.

Charlie stepped closer, toes on the touchline, ready for the tag, waiting, waiting… Nish stumbled, cried out.

“Coach!” Charlie pleaded, but he waved her concern aside, his attention on the action in the penalty box. They’d played on; still Nish was getting no closer. To hell with the red card, Charlie couldn’t stand by and watch her suffer. Cupping her hands around her mouth, she drew breath to shout—

“Charlie, it’s ten past six.”

“Ah…shoot.”
* * * * *
What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - 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

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Book Review: Transphobia by j wallace skelton, illustrated by Nick Johnson

Title: Transphobia: Deal with it and be a gender transcender
Author: j wallace skelton, illustrated by Nick Johnson
Publisher: James Lorimer & Company Ltd.
Published: 1st January, 2017
ISBN: 9781459407664
Link: http://www.lorimer.ca/childrens/Book/2892/Transphobia.html

Blurb:
Who do you think you are? Part of identity is how people experience their gender. Transphobia is intolerance of any part of the range of gender identity. This accessible, illustrated book offers information, quizzes, comics and true-to-life scenarios to help kids better understand gender identity and determine what they can do to identify and counter transphobia in their schools, homes and communities. Considered from the viewpoint of gender challengers, gender enforcers and witnesses, transphobic behavior is identified, examined and put into a context that kids can use to understand and accept themselves and others for whatever gender they are — even if that's no gender at all!

Review:
Transphobia is a book written and illustrated for children (the language suggests older children and young adults) which looks at how our actions can - by choice or design - be transphobic. It could be read by young people independently, but it does lend itself to a more structured setting, such as a youth group or classroom, or even a book parents and children could read together.

The book follows a similar format to the workbooks that are used in 'social studies' lessons in the UK. It's vibrant, with lots of discussion activities, and whilst there is a fair bit of text, it's broken up with illustrations and presented in different ways throughout the 32 pages.

Now, this all seems good to an adult, but having worked through these kinds of books with UK high school students (particularly those aged 14-19), I know from experience that they don't always engage effectively with this format.

Given the time restrictions on teaching, it is unlikely that as a curriculum topic, this would be given more than an hour or two, and it's a topic that requires more thinking/free discussion away from the examples in the book. Therefore, it's best used as a resource to be dipped into, as there are discussion activities that would work with students from around the age of 10 to 19 with some core information that is relevant to all.

There are references to Canadian legislation and statistics at the bottom of some pages (the book was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council), but this is a great resource for educators in any English-speaking setting. Finding the relevant laws would make for another interesting activity for students/young people reading this outside of Canada.

The content is excellent, and is likely to inspire some positive discussion amongst young people who are not LGBTQIA and haven't had cause to consider how their behaviour/language impacts on others. It's also affirming for LGBTQIA students and offers some excellent guidance for everyone on how to deal with their own and other people's passive and aggressive non-binary/transphobia.

As someone with 18 years' experience as a teacher/lecturer, I am happy to recommend this book, in particular as an educational resource for teachers, youth group leaders and parents.

Received through NetGalley.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

The Making Of Us - The Friend Zone #RainbowSnippets #LGBTQIA

Brief explanation:
Another snippet from The Making Of Us. Progress is slow, but I'm making some, at least.

The Making Of Us is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse (Noah’s best friend) and Leigh (Noah and Matty’s new housemate). The story is first-person, from Jesse’s perspective.

Here’s the snippet:
All through school, people had told me I was a good friend. By ‘people’, I mean ‘girls’, and by ‘good friend’, they meant ‘not boyfriend material’. I didn’t really mind that much. The number of mates I had who hit on girls just because they could, it made me feel a bit sleazy on their behalf. They liked the girl, sure, and I don’t think—I hope they didn’t—force themselves on anyone, but they’d go too far, too quickly and without getting to know each other.

I don’t know, maybe spending my teens perpetually ‘in the friend zone’ coloured my perspective, but getting to know someone before you jumped their bones seemed like the way to go to me.

* * * * *

Rainbow Snippets 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 (no spoilers please!).

In this group you'll find anything from romance and historical fiction to mystery and YA. The common thread is that every story's main character identifies as LGBTQ+. The snippets could range from zero flames to full-on sexytimes, anything goes content-wise. The only rule is snippets will be 6 sentences long–one for each color in the Pride flag.

* * * * *

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Thursday, March 02, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - The Making Of Us (Not a Girl) #amwriting

WIPpet numbers for 1st March, 2017:
13 (day, month) paragraphs from The Making Of Us (Checking Him Out Book Four)

WIPpet Context:
So…this is the second snippet from The Making Of Us. You can read the first one here:

This is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse (Noah’s best friend) and Leigh (Noah and Matty’s new housemate). The story is first-person, from Jesse’s perspective.

This is part of the prologue, and it’s hot off the keyboard. WIPpet Wednesday inspired me to get a bit of writing done this evening. :)

* * * * *
We took our drinks to the living room, where Mum resumed her usual seat in the corner of the sofa. I sat in the armchair, aware she’d turned down the TV.

Oh…sugar. What had I done?

“So, who is she?”

“Who’s who?” My face. My face. My super-heated, traitorous face!

Mum turned and studied me, twitchy-mouthed from the smile she fought. “You’re glowing, Jesse.”

Glowing? I was bloody burning up. Seriously, think head like Mars, hurtling towards the Sun as it goes supernova. There was no point even trying to lie my way out of this one, not that I often lied to my mum. She was a cool mum, and we talked about all kinds of stuff all the time. Politics, money, the state of the NHS, my studies, her job, what was going on with my mates or hers… Instant crushes in pizza restaurants, not so much.

“Not a she,” I said.

“OK,” Mum nodded. A frown replaced the smile, still concealed but not judgemental. She was trying to figure it out. She wasn’t the only one.

“Leigh is…” I scratched my chin. Leigh is so gorgeous, I’ve unequivocally proved love at first sight exists. Beyond that? “Not a girl,” I said and shrugged. “I thought Leigh was a girl, but Matty said not.”

“A boy?”

“I don’t think so? Leigh prefers they, not he or she. And…”

“And…?”

And my head was totally done in. I knew what I felt, and it felt good in a shivery, slightly out-of-body way. “I dunno, Mum.”
* * * * *
What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - 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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Making Of Us - Meet Jesse #RainbowSnippets #LGBTQIA

Brief explanation:
I finished writing Reunions on Wednesday. Phew! It finished up at 237,000 words, and you can read the final snippet (posted on WIPpet Wednesday) here: http://deb248211.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/wippet-wednesday-reunions-josh-and-sean.html. Reunions is available to preorder and will be published on 19th April, 2017.

So…this is the very first snippet from The Making Of Us!

This is the fourth book in the Checking Him Out series, but it’s a stand-alone story about friendship, love and romance—LGBTQIA, with the emphasis on the B, Q and I.

The main characters are Jesse (Noah’s best friend) and Leigh (Noah and Matty’s new housemate).

So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Jesse. :)

Here’s the snippet:
Some days, I wake up thinking…so what? I’m a fatty. Get over it. I put on my Big and Tall jeans—impossibly enormous, with an invisible diamond section in the crotch so they don’t split—and stride out with pride, shoulders back, ready to take on the world. Other days, I wake up determined that today will be the day I start my diet, follow the exercise plan Matty typed out for me, get fit, lose weight, turn into Jesse Thomas the beefcake, tall, dark, handsome…

It usually lasts until lunchtime, when I give up in favour of silencing the embarrassing rumble in my belly.

That was the mood I was in that morning, motivated by having not succumbed to the temptation of last night’s dinner.

* * * * *

Rainbow Snippets 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 (no spoilers please!).

In this group you'll find anything from romance and historical fiction to mystery and YA. The common thread is that every story's main character identifies as LGBTQ+. The snippets could range from zero flames to full-on sexytimes, anything goes content-wise. The only rule is snippets will be 6 sentences long–one for each color in the Pride flag.

* * * * *

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - Reunions (Josh and Sean - An Ordinary Saturday) #amwriting

WIPpet numbers for 22nd February, 2017:
17 (year) - 2 (month) = 15 paragraphs from Reunions (Hiding Behind The Couch Season Seven)

It’s done! I think. :D It’s with Andrea - my friend/editor/critic/beta-reader and all-round good egg (I borrowed that phrase from her, but it fits so well). She’s freelance, and you can find her at expresseditingsolutions.co.uk.

The final word count is 237k, or thereabouts, but I’m waiting on feedback on the ending, because…well, I can’t say. Nige read it, and his feedback was very useful (grumble, grumble)… Just kidding. It was useful, and he enjoyed it/felt lost once he’d finished it, which is a good thing. He’s a very honest alpha reader (methinks he also likes that title, seeing as he self-ascribed it today).

So, anyway, this is probably my very last snippet from Reunions, which is sad, but it’s a relief, too. I was starting to think I’d never finish it.

WIPpet Context:
This is from Episode Six (Reunions is divided into six episodes, so this is quite near the end). Josh and Sean are colleagues, friends, rivals and adversaries. They taunt, joust and love each other dearly (you can read more about how they became friends in Ruminations - a stand-alone prequel). Josh has gone round to Sean’s place to talk shop, and Sean has noticed Josh is distracted. The first line is Sean’s.

* * * * *
“I’ve got to say, I expected you to come with armfuls of paper—mindmaps, bullet-pointed lists…”

“There’s this new fad, haven’t you heard?”

“Oh? What’s that, then?”

“It’s called technology.”

Sean loitered in the doorway whilst he waited for the coffee to drip through. “I didn’t think you trusted it to care for your precious things.”

“It’s not technology I don’t trust, so much as technology in the wrong hands.” Josh retrieved his laptop and started it up, typing in his password at the prompt. “I’ve encrypted all my documents, of course, but it doesn’t take a genius to decrypt them.”

“I think you’ll find it does,” Sean argued.

“I couldn’t do it.”

“I rest my case.” Sean made a quick getaway to deal with the coffee.

“Deductive fallacy,” was all he got out of Josh when he returned and handed over a cup of the rich, steamy brew, immediately followed by, “OK. First item on the agenda…”

“Before that, how about you telling me what’s on your mind.”

Josh frowned at his screen. “Apart from taking you through my paperwork, there’s nothing on my mind. What makes you think there is?”

“No ‘thanks for never singling me out for my immeasurably vast intelligence’. Not even ‘thanks for the coffee’…”

“Thanks for the coffee, Sean.” Josh raised his mug in a parody of a toast and drank heartily.

“God, I almost fell for your sincerity there.”
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What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - 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, February 20, 2017

Sensitivity Reading and the Power of Words

I read an interesting post about sensitivity readers over the weekend, and by interesting, I mean more than a bit offensive and - accidentally, I'm quite certain - an excellent demonstration of why sensitivity readers are important if an author/editor/publisher wants to avoid a public trouncing. (I'll come back to why I have phrased it this way.)

For those reading this post who don't know already, a sensitivity reader is someone a publisher/author asks to read a manuscript to check for potentially offensive/problematic content. This includes the deployment of discriminatory/offensive language, events that may act as psychological triggers and anything else that may be considered a 'sensitive subject' for some readers.

Sensitivity readers have specific expertise, either through professional affiliation and experience (e.g. a nurse in palliative care fact-checking a book dealing with the treatment of terminal illness) or because they are part of the political minority* being written about.

*Political majority/minority refers to the distribution of power, not the size of the population. In the UK, white males are the political majority because they hold more power than any other group, even though there are more females than males (51 and 49 percent of the general population respectively: ONS, 2016).

The discussion I read was, on the whole, against publishers using sensitivity readers, for three reasons:
1. Sensitivity readers are only there to mop up after authors who don't do their research;
2. Sensitivity reading is censorship;
3. Sensitivity reading is political correctness gone mad.
Up to a point, I agree with the first of these arguments. A good author WILL do their research, and if there are persistent and serious errors in their writing - well, they probably need to start over or think about a change of career. Even when they have researched, there is every likelihood errors will sneak past. If the author is publishing independently, then they live and die by their own pen. However, if they've entrusted their work to a publisher, then they should safely presume their publisher has got their back.

That said, no amount of research is going to give an author the necessary insight into what it is like to be a member of a different group than their own, which is why sensitivity reading (but perhaps we need to call it something else) is crucial. One of the comments on the post I read demonstrated this point perfectly:
Like writing about transgendered teens... Having someone [who] lives that particular lifestyle read your work...is not a bad thing.
The comment was arguing in favour of sensitivity reading, although the commenter contended that asking a knowledgeable someone to read should be part of the author's research process, and again, I agree with that. An author does have a responsibility to research as thoroughly as possible - that or pass off their work as fantasy set in a close parallel universe, thereby neutralising factual inconsistencies. And I really don't like the connotation of 'sensitivity reading'. It implies an unnecessary fuss is being made, which trivialises the way language operates as a source of power.

Language as a source of power is the salient issue, and the comment highlights one of the ways this operates. Being a transgendered teen is not a 'lifestyle'. A lifestyle is a set of choices we make about how we live. No-one ever refers to the average white heterosexual male's existence as a 'lifestyle'. There is no choice involved in being white, straight or male. You just are. Needless to say (but I will say it anyway), being black, bisexual, gay, transgender, female, non-binary... is not a lifestyle or a preference. It is who we are.

Othering is another process we authors unconsciously engage in, and it requires more than conscious engagement to tackle. I'm white English, and it is my 'default' character identity. Thus, on an unconscious level, I won't mention the character's ethnicity if they are white English but I will if they're not, and in all probability I'll assume the character is white in another author's work unless they tell me otherwise. I'm not consciously racist, and I kind of hate myself for being unconsciously so, but I accept that I'm a product of my society, and being aware of that gives me the opportunity to constantly critically engage with the way I think and write. I'm going to get it wrong. It's inevitable. But through researching thoroughly and asking for guidance from those I write about, I give my best effort to not causing harm to another.

And that's key, really. Not causing harm.

Reading the comments on that post (and the article that started the discussion), publishers' incorporating sensitivity reading into their publishing process is perceived as unnecessary censorship by authors/readers, but in the age of indie publishing, authors don't have to kow-tow to publishers, so the censorship argument is irrelevant (Amazon and other vendors have content censorship in place, but that's something else entirely).

What's also important here is that publishers are doing this to avoid litigation (the public trouncing I mentioned at the start). The censorship and sensitivity to the concerns of political minorities are by-products only.

When we use terms like 'censorship', 'offensive' and 'sensitivity' we feed into the notion that this is indeed about political correctness and namby-pamby millennial culture. But it's not. This is about the power of words, and how those words cause real harm. If we describe someone's gender as a lifestyle, or their sexuality as a preference, if we posit a character's 'blackness' above all other aspects of their identity, we are exercising power, and we are endangering people's lives, because at the other end of the scale are the extremes of racism, sexism, gender/sexuality and other forms of discrimination and oppression: conversion therapy, psychiatric/criminal incarceration, white supremacy.

We each have our own world view, and whilst it's shaped by and may be shared with those around us, it is uniquely ours. Our individuality is something to be celebrated, both in ourselves and in others. But that requires more than sensitivity. It requires respect and an understanding that our right to freedom of speech comes with a responsibility that we exercise it wisely.

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Office of National Statistics (2016) 'UK population by country of birth and nationality grouping, by sex and age: 2014' https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/adhocs/005561ukpopulationbycountryofbirthandnationalitygroupingbysexandage2014 (Accessed 20/02/2017)