Wednesday, June 28, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - To Be Sure (Trials) #amwriting #lgbtqia



WIPpet numbers for 28th June, 2017:

28 + 6 - 17 = 17 paragraphs
from To Be Sure

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from To Be Sure, which continues directly from previous snippets. This is from the first chapter of my story for ‘SAGA’ (title TBC): an anthology of stories featuring older LGBT+ characters (out later this year, from Beaten Track Publishing).

The main character of To Be Sure is Saorla (seer-la) Tierney, a seventy-one-year-old woman from Derry in the North of Ireland. For readers of the Hiding Behind The Couch series, she’s Sean’s mum. Finn is Sean’s older brother. In last week’s snippet, Saorla had just got off the phone with Sean, and was preparing a meal while waiting for Finn to arrive home.


* * * * *
It was only when the front door opened that Saorla remembered the potatoes, which didn’t even have a lid on them, and they were all but boiled dry.

“That you, Finn?” she called and grabbed a fork. The click of Finn’s crutch preceded his answer.

“No, Mum, it’s the bogeyman.”

“Well, you look just like Finn Tierney,” she responded, as usual. The potatoes were soft enough—a bit crispy on the bottom, but they’d be fine once they were mashed up with the Sunday leftovers from the fridge. She passed Finn on her way to get them. She didn’t need to ask how the pain was today; the lips drawn tight over clenched teeth told her all she needed to know.

“Sean’s going to phone you about booking the hotel,” she said on her way back to the stove.

Leaning his crutch against the table, Finn pulled out a chair, holding his words until he’d eased into it. “He already did.”

“Did he now?”

“He did, aye. Couldn’t you have told him?”

“I wasn’t sure if you’d be needing separate rooms.”

“I’m a grown man, Mum.”

She had her back to him, but his tone was light, so she ventured further. “Are you an item again?”

“Trial period, so says Erin.”

“That’s probably wise.”

“For her. Not for me. Or you.”

“What’s it got to do with me?”

“Don’t you want me out from under your feet?”

This time, his tone was more cutting, and Saorla’s guilt gave her a jolt. “If I wanted you to leave, I’d tell you so.” Better he be a living burden than a dead one, and for that thought she refused to feel guilty after the strain of the past few months. God only knew where they’d have been without Erin and Aileen.
* * * * *
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, June 26, 2017

It's Life...but not quite #amwriting

I've just finished re-reading The WAG and The Scoundrel (Gray Fisher #1) in preparation for writing Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2) - or, at least, making a good start on it - during July's CampNaNoWriMo. It led to a startling discovery (which I mentioned in my RainbowSnippets post on Saturday):

I'd accidentally situated characters from two different stories in different series in the same place at exactly the same time!

Eek!

On one level, that's rather fun, particularly as the location in question is a close approximation to Watergate Bay in Cornwall (pictured, with Newquay in the distance), which is quite possibly my favourite place to be. I say 'possibly' because I'm no longer sure if it's the real version or my fictional one that I love most - a point I'll come back to shortly.

So, my first response was 'how cool!' and it gave me lots to ponder. Would the characters have noticed each other? What would have happened if they had? Would they have chatted? Ignored each other? Is there a story in there?

Then another thought dawned on me. In both cases, I'd described the weather, and it didn't match!

Agh!

Did I panic? Noooo. Did I consider rewriting the scene in either story? Not at all. (Hah!)

Anyway, I'm pleased to report (you can be pleased with me if you like) that it wasn't exactly the same time; it was on consecutive days.

In The Making Of Us, Jesse reports Friday's weather as:
No rain today, but it was cold enough for me to have dug my giant hoodie out of my bag and brought it to the beach with me, although not quite cold enough to put it on.
Whereas in The The WAG and The Scoundrel (Saturday afternoon), Gray observes:
The wind wasn’t strong, although it was bitterly cold, which Gray had anticipated, and he’d brought a coat, hat, scarf and gloves. He put them on and zipped his coat right up under his chin before venturing down the slipway onto the beach.
And it's English weather, in November, so all is well. Phew!

It's not the first time I've slipped up with canon, although it doesn't happen often, and it's generally not disastrous...

Well, there was the time I counted Krissi's age from her first birthday instead of her birth and had to adjust ALL of the characters' ages to match. That was in the first edition of Hiding Behind The Couch (Tracy, if you're reading this, it's the one you have on your bookshelf), and it's the sort of detail that editors are unlikely to notice. In fact, the only person who probably will notice is the author.

The bigger and more complex a series becomes, the more chance there is for these errors to sneak through.

And, you know, I told Noah that the pub in Sol's hometown was called The King's Head, but he insisted it was called The King's Arms. Matty says it's like that skipping rhyme, 'Lord Nelson lost one arm...Lord Nelson lost one leg...' Hmm...a discussion for a future story, maybe?

I'll confess, here and now, that I get creative and write some of those smaller 'anomalies' into the stories. After I wrote The Harder They Fall (HBTC #3), I put together a calendar and a list of characters, mostly to keep track of characters' ages, but also because In The Stars (HBTC #4 and #5) was a logic puzzle of epic proportions (as in 382,000 words with something like half a dozen parallel/crisscrossing story arcs).

However, as I hadn't pinned the first novel to a 'real' year, the days and dates didn't match up to real years, and it all comes back to Krissi's birthday. Her 21st birthday is on a Friday (HBTC #1), so I took that day/date and built the calendar from there (using PHP - I'm not even thinking about the mess caused by the error I've just discovered whilst writing this blog post).

Thus, the calendar system for Hiding Behind The Couch is based on AJ (Annus Joshy :D). That's no bad thing - from the point of view of distancing reality from fiction - but it's a bugger to work with when I'm writing the stories.

Of course, I had to complicate matters further by writing a crossover between Hiding Behind The Couch and Checking Him Out, although when I wrote Hiding Out, I tried very hard to make it a single collision between the two worlds, which ends with this (not a spoiler):
“So you didn’t think much of Norwich then?”
“Mmm…it’s a nice place, but…well, it’s like another world, isn’t it?”
Josh slowed at traffic lights and met Libby’s gaze in the rear-view mirror. “Yes, it is,” he said.
The lights turned to green and they pulled away, heading back to their hometown, and to their own world.
Except...I'm currently working on a second crossover (No Filter) and they're not, actually, different worlds. When I wrote Checking Him Out, I was very lucky to have author Rick Bettencourt advising me on the parts of the story set in Boston (whence Rick hails), because Google StreetView is great, but it's not enough.


That, for me, was the distinction between the series: I'd deliberately set HBTC in a fictional location with no name - even though the characters visit Manchester and other named locations from time to time, and secondary characters live in named locations - whereas I'd set CHO in a real, named-on-page city.

The problem then becomes when I write an instalment that focuses on a secondary character in one of those named locations, which is the case with my main work-in-progress, To Be Sure (featuring Sean's mum, who lives in Derry, NI).

In the end, the locations in all my stories, whether identified by name or not, are fictional representations. Sol's hometown is somewhere in Yorkshire, name unknown; Norwich University doesn't exist (the uni in Norwich is the University of East Anglia). Magda Inc. Boston doesn't exist. Josh and Sean met at what would, geographically, be Keele University in Staffordshire, and they work in what is probably Edge Hill University, West Lancashire. I could even point to rows of terraced houses in West Lancashire villages that 'could be' where Josh and Sean live - likewise for the rest of The Circle.

The fictional depictions are an amalgamation of different places I've visited (really or virtually), give or take a few creative tweaks. Even 'the surfing bay in Cornwall' that appears in HBTC, CHO and Gray Fisher is not quite Watergate Bay.

On which note, I'm dogsitting this week for my mum, who is on holiday in Cornwall. Maybe she'll bump into Matty's nan at the shops! ;)

Thanks for reading!
Deb x

Saturday, June 24, 2017

No Filter - Loaded Banana #RainbowSnippets #LGBTQIA

Snippet #2 from No Filter - another Checking Him Out / Hiding Behind The Couch crossover (the first being Hiding Out), featuring Matty (CHO) and Libby (HBTC).

I should say deliberate cross-over, as today, I realised I’d accidentally (or maybe not?) put characters from both series in exactly the same place at the same time—even though they live 250 miles apart—although they don’t interact. I wonder if they even noticed each other? Hmm. (For those who are curious, it was in The WAG and The Scoundrel and The Making Of Us)

Brief background: Libby and Matty first met in Hiding Out, when Libby was fifteen and Matty was an undergrad dance student. No Filter is a year later; it’s a very early work in progress, and it’s a friendship story, not a romance. Now I’ve figured out where it fits in the timeline of both series, I sort of know what I’m doing. Possibly.

This snippet is from Matty’s point of view. Noah is Matty’s SO.
“Did you want me?”

A banana appeared right in front of my face, like, so close I could smell it. It made my mouth water—I didn’t even like bananas, or not much. Give me a Mars bar any day, especially after dance practice. Or a Crunchie. God, I love Crunchies. The way the honeycomb breaks off when you bite it. Not sure why it’s orange, though, when honey’s kind of yellow. “What’s this?” I asked.

“A banana?” Noah’s mouth stayed in a perfect straight line, while his eyes were proper laughing at my question.

I took the banana and peered along it, aiming it at him. “Is it loaded?”

“Yep.”

As was he—with fruit. “No chocolate?”
* * * * *

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, June 21, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - To Be Sure (Banging Heads) #amwriting #lgbtqia



WIPpet numbers for 21st June, 2017:
It's my wedding anniversary! 18 years! :o

20 x 6 + 21 + 17 = 158 words
from To Be Sure

Sorry for any other WIPpet posts I missed last week. I was very late visiting and had to go a-hunting.

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from To Be Sure, which continues directly from previous snippets. This is from the first chapter of my story for ‘SAGA’ (title TBC): an anthology of stories featuring older LGBT+ characters (out later this year, from Beaten Track Publishing). And I also have a cover!

The main character of To Be Sure is Saorla (seer-la) Tierney, a seventy-one-year-old (I miscounted, as usual) woman from Derry in the North of Ireland. For readers of the Hiding Behind The Couch series, she’s Sean’s mum. Finn is Sean’s older brother. In last week’s snippet, Saorla had just got off the phone with Sean, and she’s waiting for Finn to arrive home.


* * * * *
To be fair, Finn was trying, and Sean was being the difficult one for a change. Not that much of a change, now she thought on; since Finn’s accident, the two of them had constantly been at loggerheads, and a lot of it was Sean feeling he had to stand up to his big brother whether Finn was in the wrong or not.

She didn’t have a favourite. Mothers should love their children equally; she’d always believed that. They thought otherwise, of course, and sometimes it was hard to treat them the same when Finn needed so much more, on a practical level, at least. Truth be told, they were as bad as each other, and after so long resisting the urge to bang their heads together, she didn’t hold out much hope of the two of them ever becoming pals, but if they could make it through the baptism without a set-to, that would be grand.
* * * * *
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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Release Day! The Making of Us #LGBTQIA #pridemonth #romance



It's here! Release day is finally here! I bet you're all really pleased about that. :D

That's the trouble with social media; no matter how many times we share our news, there will be some people who miss it entirely whilst others are thinking enough of the constant bombardment already!

So, yeah - sorry if you fall in the bombardment camp.

The Making Of Us is a story I didn't foresee, but in truth, I realise now that - like When Skies Have Fallen - it's a story I needed to tell.

Back in 2014, when I wrote the first instalment of the Checking Him Out series, it was my first foray into writing M/M Romance, and it was intended to be a tongue-in-cheek, quirky story - and a one-off! It's my most-read story, helped in no small part by being free - I'd have made a 'real' bestsellers' list had it not been free.

Checking Him Out is about Sol and Adam - two British guys (competitive, annoying, alpha-male types) who meet in the US, fall in love and move back to England. In the epilogue, I wrote a scene about Noah (Adam's younger brother) and his new boyfriend Matty - as a contrast to show how far Sol and Adam had come. Readers asked for their story.

So...I wrote Taking Him On - Checking Him Out #2 - which is Noah and Matty's story. Again, it's M/M romance...in which Noah introduces us to his best mate Jesse, and Noah and Matty get a new housemate - Leigh.

For Sol and Adam fans, I also wrote Checking In - #3 - which covers the same events as Taking Him On but from Sol's point of view. In both stories, we get to see a little bit of Jesse and Leigh...

And readers asked for Jesse and Leigh's story.
What could I do but oblige? (And gladly.)

The Making Of Us has the same mix of quirky British humour and big things in life as the previous books (and novellas) in the series, and it is a romance (or a love story), but it's less in your face - on matters of sex, at least. With the exception of Hiding Out (#1.2), all the previous stories have been sexually explicit, because all of the other characters are body-confident, whereas Jesse is not.

Thus, in The Making Of Us, while you'll find many romantic moments as Jesse and Leigh get to know each other, and there's some intimacy along the way, this is also a story about Jesse learning to love himself.

* * * * *

Blurb:
When English Lit. student Jesse Thomas meets Leigh Hunter, he has to reconsider a few assumptions he's made about himself.

Two years ago, Jesse joined Pride - the uni's LGBT+ society - to support best friend Noah, and Noah's boyfriend, Matty. As a straight, cismale ally, Jesse keeps a low profile - not difficult for someone as shy and body-conscious as he is.

Leigh Hunter is Noah and Matty's new housemate. Born with a life-threatening congenital condition, Leigh is intersex and identifies as queer - none of which alters Jesse's conviction that they are the most beautiful person in the world.

While Jesse and Leigh get to know each other, a new academic year begins in earnest, bringing with it the usual challenge of balancing work and play. Add in a week's holiday in Cornwall that Jesse and Leigh half-wish they hadn't agreed to, Jesse's unplanned involvement in the election of Pride's new officers, and some big decisions for Noah and Matty, it's going to be an interesting semester all round.

Purchase Links:

* * * * *

Excerpt:
It was at that point I realised I wasn't alone, as in, Noah hadn't followed me out, but I could hear someone in the henhouse...singing to the hens. The door fully opened, and Leigh emerged, shielding their eyes against the patio lights.

"Hey, Jesse."

"Hello." They were shrouded in shadow but it made no difference. At least my heart wasn't short of a good workout or ten.

"You OK?"

"Yep." Urgh. Where the hell were my words? This was starting get really annoying. I'd liked Leigh from the start - not the instant attraction/choking incident...well, obviously, I liked them then, but I was only counting from when we were properly introduced, and I'd realised that Leigh was just as beautiful inside as out. At first, my nervousness made me talk too much, but Leigh was chatty, too, so we just kind of gabbled our way through conversations, and it had all been a bit giddy and out of control, but we were talking. Now, I couldn't think what to say at all, and I was sure it was getting worse.

"What's up?" Leigh advanced and stopped a couple of feet away, frowning inquisitively, mixed with a bit of concern. I pointed at my mouth. "Sore throat?" Leigh guessed, but that wasn't what I'd meant.

"Lip," I uttered.

"Cold sore?"

"No. Yours."

"Oh!" Leigh laughed. It was enchanting, Leigh's laughter, a breathy 'hah' and a gasped inhalation over which their smile lingered. Honestly, sometimes I could've rolled my eyes at myself, because everything about Leigh was just...perfect. To me. They poked their tongue against the inside of their lip, flinching slightly.

"New piercing?" Woot! Actual words. Go, Jesse!

"Yeah. Got it done this afternoon. Do you like it?"

It was a perfect excuse to move closer, but my shoes seemed to have stuck themselves to the ground. I settled for nodding instead. "How many's that now?"

Leigh thought, at the same time reaching up a hand and feeling their way along one ear then the other, counting under their breath. "Eight? I think one's healed over. Has it?"

They stretched up towards me, but their hair was covering their ear. I clamped my lips between my teeth in an effort to make it less obvious that my breath was juddering with nerves. I lifted my hand and brushed Leigh's hair back, trying to stay focused on their ear, overwhelmed by their closeness, their soft hair tickling my fingers, the relative coolness of their skin where our hands touched...

"Three," I pushed out.

"Is there a hole at the top with nothing in it?"

That part of Leigh's ear was still in shadow. My fingers combed through the strands of hair - shiny midnight blue in the twilight - as I moved it behind Leigh's ear. "I think so."

"Eight, then," Leigh confirmed.

"OK."

"It was meant to be a snakebite - " Leigh poked at the lip piercing again, same result as last time " - but it hurt like hell."

"A snakebite? What's that?" I hadn't moved my hand away. I wasn't sure I could.

"One on either side."

"Cool." 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? Why was I even thinking about that?

Leigh had kissed me once. On the cheek. It was the day Matty was assaulted - by his dad. Leigh needed a shot of hydrocortisone, which they self-administered and everything was fine, but they still should've gone to the hospital to get checked out. Of course, they refused to - I didn't blame them, to be honest, but I kept that to myself at the time - and so, I accompanied Leigh home and hung around until Adam and Sol got back.

It was the quickest kiss, and it had only been to say thanks, or maybe it had been more. I just didn't know. We were both pretty shy in that respect. What if we were both also waiting for the other to be bold enough to ask us out on a date, or make a move or something? We might never get any further than this disjointed conversing that seemed to have replaced the ease with which we used to chatter.

"I'd better go in," Leigh said.

"OK." Please don't.

They turned and walked back towards the house, taking their time - were waiting for me to stop them? As they reached the door, they paused and called, "D'you need a drink or anything?"

Oh! "Er...yes, please. Diet Coke?"

Leigh nodded and smiled. "Be right back."

"Thanks!" I shouted, but they'd already disappeared inside. I swear I was gonna be Jesse the Puddle by the time they got back - why did it have to be so damn hot? Why did they?

* * * * *

Thanks for reading! :)
Deb x

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pride - an introvert's contribution #LGBTQIA #pridemonth

June is Pride month.

As a somewhat introverted and asocial author/academic, I find big social occasions (like Pride parades) a bit wearing (to say the least), but I can celebrate and fight in other, albeit quieter ways.

To this end, I've written this post to answer some of the questions I've been asked, mostly by those outside of the LGBT+ community (apologies if it comes across as 'splaining). This is my understanding. It's only one perspective, and I welcome respectful discussion.

I've also included a list of the LGBT+ characters in my stories, as this is another way in which I try to contribute to visibility and acceptance - as both an ally and member of the community.


What is Pride?

Wikipedia's definition is quite good (I don't usually quote from there):
Gay pride or LGBT pride is the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people [sic] to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_pride)

What is Pride month?

Pride month is a month-long (and longer, internationally) celebration of LGBT+ identities.

The reason it's in June is to commemorate the Stonewall Riots (June 28, 1969). On the night in question, police raided the Stonewall Inn in Christopher Street, NYC (what these days we might call a 'gay bar'). This was a frequent occurrence and part of the ongoing persecution and legal prosecution of LGBT+ people at that time. On this occasion, the persecuted fought back. It is a watershed moment in LGBT+ rights and led to further organised protests and campaigning for rights.

In the UK, most Pride celebrations and parades are held in July/August. The first Pride parade in London was in 1972, on the 1st of July - the closest Saturday to the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

This page lists the UK Pride dates for 2017: https://pinkuk.com/events/gay-pride-2017


What's with the (expanding) acronym?
(or 'why not put ALL of the letters in there?' See also 'why not straight pride?' and 'why labels are important')

The history of the start of those letters is debatable, and I've seen the 'original' incarnation both as GLB and LGB. When I was at university, the society was called the LGB Society, and it changed to the LGBT Society in the three years I was studying. That was 1995-8, and during that time, the term 'queer' was being hotly debated in academic circles. I won't go into that here.

The current variations of the acronym (those that appear most often) are:

LGBT+
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans + anyone else who isn't heterosexual and/or cisgender (i.e. their gender identity matches that assigned at birth or corrected soon after)

LGBTQ
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer/Questioning

LGBTQIA
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, Intersex and Asexual

LGBTQIAP
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual and Pansexual/Poly

QUILTBAG
Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual/Ally and Gay/Genderqueer

Now, I don't venture far on the internet. I use it as a research and marketing tool. Mostly, I stay within the confines of Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, the Open University and my blog and websites. This means I miss most of the trolling, in-fighting and ridiculous, ignorant statements made by those who have absolutely no right to pass comment (OK, freedom of speech is theirs for the taking, but exercising it responsibly - or at least after they've engaged their brain - would seem the way to go).

For all of that, yesterday I came across two separate 'debates' about:

1. Whether the 'A' is for ally OR asexual;
2. What the point was of 'all those flags'.

I'll come back to both issues in due course.

The main point here is that most of these terms were first used in a derogatory way and were reclaimed by non-heterosexual/non-cisgender people, because reclaiming the word also reclaims the power infused into that word and highlights the inequality, discrimination, exclusion and persecution to which those who are tarnished with that label are subjected. This is also the case with the use of 'disabled', 'black' and 'people of colour', as well as some more culturally specific terms.

Even within similar societies, there are cultural differences in the way these labels are applied. For instance 'homo' has been reclaimed (and subverted so that it becomes a positive label for those who use it) by many in the USA, but it is still considered profoundly insulting and homophobic by many gay men in the UK.

In almost all cases, the labels were NOT applied BY the people who wear them; they were stuck on by those who hold the balance of power - the political majority - as a way of marking someone as different, other, an aberration.

What do I mean by the political majority?
This is the group that has the most power - not necessarily the most members. Regardless of the percentage of the global population that is -

not white
not male
not heterosexual
not from Europe

- the global political majority is white, heterosexual, monogamous (and sexual), European (or of European descent) and male. This is the legacy of colonialism, slavery, imperialism and patriarchy.

That should give you the answer to 'why don't we have straight pride?'

It's the same (non)point people make when they retort 'all lives matter' when they see/hear 'black lives matter'. Our world is constructed by and for the political majority, who, 'naturally' (I contend not), make it the best possible place for themselves, almost always at the expense of others.

Seriously, if men didn't have to shit, I'd wager there'd be no toilets; only urinals.

So yes, of course all lives matter, and we should all be proud of who we are, but not at the expense of others. We don't matter more than anyone else, and we should use any privilege we do hold very wisely indeed. For instance, I'm white and European. More than that, I'm a UK citizen, which is the most privileged nationality in the world. My ancestors are responsible for slavery, genocide, rape and the desecration of so many cultures it beggars belief. They shaped the world we live in today:
The self-hatred of being black, and thus counting by definition as the weaker and the poorer, is great. Some are reluctant to identify themselves as blacks - they refer to their nation rather than to their real roots. Or they try to approach European beauty ideals. Smooth hair, pale skin; such things show the cultural damage the Europeans have left behind.

(Dr. Imani Tafari-Ama, cultural scientist,
translated from https://www.taz.de/Archiv-Suche/!5416099&s=imani+tafari-ama/)
White Europeans have caused irreparable damage to this world (culturally, ecologically), and with our privilege comes a responsibility to fix what we can.

Why not put all the letters in there?
Well, I have to say I quite like SAGA (sexuality and gender acceptance) as a shorter, all-encompassing acronym. I also like LGBT+, but then that treats anyone who's not lesbian, gay, bi or trans as an add-on, and it doesn't exclude me, so I have no right to an opinion. Ultimately, the people generally asking the question are part of the political majority - those who assigned all those labels in the first place. It's your own fault, so butt out.

Allied to this question is 'what's the point of all those flags?' The discussion I saw of this yesterday was initiated by a white, middle-class, cisgender gay man. Yep, the rainbow flag is just dandy if you're hitting most of those privileges.

It's sad to see the in-fighting within a community that came together because of shared experiences of (often violent) discrimination and persecution, but it's understandable, given the diversity. But it's also why the labels (and the flags) matter. Fighting for LGBT+ rights, if those rights are defined by white gay men, still excludes the majority of LGBT+ people.

Here's a quote from my novel The Making Of Us - yeah, yeah, I know I've been harping on about it for weeks, but it's out tomorrow, so it would be remiss of me to not include this when it's salient. ;)

"...if we want Pride to be truly inclusive, we all must become allies. Our gay members can’t understand how it feels to be lesbian, nor can our cisgender members appreciate what it’s like to be trans or non-binary. Our female members still fight patriarchal privilege, and the male members amongst us will never have to deal with that."

I'm not talking about the 'allies' mentioned earlier (i.e. whether the A in the acronym is for ally or asexual). Those allies are cisgender and heterosexual, and whilst they can do great work supporting their LGBT+ family, friends and community, "...allies have a choice. Now, I know some of you would say you don’t have a choice, but you do. If being an ally meant losing your friends, family, job...you could stop, walk away." (Yes, I'm quoting myself. Again. It's allowed.)

Incidentally, The Making Of Us has the lowest number of preorders of the entire Checking Him Out series, and I envisage that's a lot to do with the couple on the cover not looking 'queer enough' - an observation, not a complaint as such. Or not a complaint about not selling books; this is about erasure and part of 'why we need labels'. Many bisexual, non-binary and trans folks 'pass' as being part of the political majority because people make assumptions based on their appearance/relationship status, particularly if we're not 'out and loud proud'.


Concluding Thoughts

'Pride' is a celebration and commemoration of/for a massive group of diverse people unified by their fight for acceptance and equality - something that has been denied because of their gender and/or sexuality. Equality is not about ignoring or homogenising difference, even if that would make it a far easier battle to fight.

If you're an ally and you want to join the celebration, please be respectful of the safe space that LGBT+ people have fought so hard for. And if you're LGBT+, look after each other and have fun! I'll be raising my coffee cup to you.

10 Ways to Be an Ally and a Friend (from GLAAD):
1. Be a listener.
2. Be open-minded.
3. Be willing to talk.
4. Be inclusive and invite LGBT friends to hang out with your friends and family.
5. Don't assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.
6. Anti-LGBT comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive.
7. Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.
8. Defend your LGBT friends against discrimination.
9. Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.
10. If you see LGBT people being misrepresented in the media, contact us at glaad.org.


LGBT+ characters in my books:

Note: some of these ARE DEFINITELY plot spoilers so proceed with caution.

'HBTC', 'CHO', 'GF' and 'SOT' are the series Hiding Behind The Couch, Checking Him Out, Gray Fisher and Seeds of Tyrone.

Lesbian
Aileen (To Be Sure/HBTC)
Poppy (Reunions/HBTC - secondary character)
Hay (To Be Sure/HBTC - secondary character)
Sarah (The Making Of Us/CHO - secondary character)
Neema (The Making Of Us/CHO - secondary character)
Lily (SOT - secondary character)
Jill (SOT - secondary character)
Molly (When Skies Have Fallen - secondary character)
Daphne (When Skies Have Fallen - secondary character)
Nic (Double Six)

Gay
George (HBTC)
Josh (HBTC - also asexual)
Ade (HBTC - also sub/poly)
Pete (HBTC - secondary character)
Gray (The WAG and The Scoundrel/GF/HBTC)
Simon (Class-A/HBTC)
Sol (CHO)
Adam (CHO)
Noah (Taking Him On/CHO)
Matty (Taking Him On/CHO)
Calvin (CHO - secondary character)
Ben (The Making Of Us/CHO - also trans)
Patrick (SOT)
Aidan (SOT)
Michael (SOT)
Harrison (SOT)
Paulo (SOT)
Sammy (Champagne)
Frank (Champagne)
Champagne (Champagne)
Leslie (Champagne)
Arty (When Skies Have Fallen)
Jim (When Skies Have Fallen)
Flavier (Cherry Pop Valentine)
Sven (Cherry Pop Valentine)
Jorje (Sugar and Sawdust)
Alec (Sugar and Sawdust)

Bisexual
Kris (HBTC)
Charlie (HBTC - also poly)
Saorla (HBTC)
Taz (Class-A/HBTC)
Will (The WAG and The Scoundrel/GF)
Jesse (The Making Of Us/CHO)
Elise (CHO)
Chancey (SOT)
Seamus (SOT)
Tom (SOT)
Chris (Champagne - also poly)
Kieran (Of The Bauble - also asexual)
Jack (And The Walls Came Tumbling Down)

Transgender
Leah (Those Jeffries Boys/HBTC - secondary character)
Jazz (The Making Of Us/CHO - secondary character)
Ben (The Making Of Us/CHO - secondary character - also gay)

Queer/Questioning
Leigh (queer - The Making Of Us/CHO - also intersex/NB)
Lee Johnson (questioning - HBTC)

Intersex
Leigh (The Making Of Us/CHO - also queer/NB)
Nora (The Making Of Us/CHO - secondary character)

Asexual/Aromantic
Josh (ace - HBTC - also gay/homoromantic)
Jason (aro - HBTC)
Xander (ace/aro - Ruminations/HBTC)
Aaron (ace/aro - The WAG and The Scoundrel/GF - also NB)
Kieran (ace - Of The Bauble - also biromantic)

Pansexual/Pansensual/Poly
Andy (pan - HBTC)
Charlie (poly - HBTC - also bi)
Shaunna (poly - HBTC)
Sean (poly - HBTC)
Sophie (poly - HBTC)
Ade (poly - HBTC - also gay/sub)
Chris (poly - Champagne - also bi)

Non-Binary
Aaron (The WAG and The Scoundrel/GF - also ace/aro)
Leigh (The Making Of Us/CHO - also intersex/queer)
Jinn (Of The Bauble)

Thank for reading (if you got this far!)
Deb x

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Making Of Us - Being Out #RainbowSnippets #LGBTQIA

Brief explanation:
I’ve switched back to snipping from The Making Of Us for a couple of weeks, as the book is out on Tuesday June 20th. :)

Preorder Links:
Beaten Track [Paperback]Beaten Track [eBook]Amazon [Kindle Edition]Smashwords [eBook]Barnes and Noble [eBook]Kobo [eBook]

You can read previous snippets here.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective. ‘Sarah’ (referred to in this snippet) is the uni LGBT+ society president. I’ve edited to keep it free of major spoilers.

Here’s the snippet:
“That’s what I meant before,” Leigh said. “You’re not what Sarah thinks queer looks like.”

“That’s ridiculous.” I meant Sarah’s attitude, not what Leigh was saying, because now they’d spelled it out for me, I could see for myself. “I’m too introverted for this,” I joked. Kind of joked. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life sharing personal information with strangers who didn’t need to know.

“Yep.” Leigh turned in their seat, hooking their legs over one of mine, and studied me intently for a minute or so, then said, “If you don’t want to do this, I’ll understand.”

“Don’t want to do…what?”

“I mean, if you want to keep us low-key so you get less hassle.”

“Leigh…” I was literally stunned to silence, within which my anger grew and grew, until it was too big to contain. I slid away from Leigh and heard their feet thud against the floor as I got up.

* * * * *

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, June 14, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - To Be Sure (Big Molehills) #amwriting #lgbtqia



WIPpet numbers for 14th June, 2017:

14 - 6 = 8 paragraphs
(+/-10%, rounded to whole numbers… ;)
Yes, OK, there are 9 paragraphs)

from To Be Sure

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from To Be Sure, which continues directly from previous snippet. This is from the first chapter of my story for ‘SAGA’ (title TBC): an anthology of stories featuring older LGBT+ characters (out later this year, from Beaten Track Publishing). The whippet is Al Stewart’s fault—he and co-author Claire Davis also have a story in the anthology. :)

The main character of To Be Sure is Saorla (seer-la) Tierney, a seventy-year-old woman from Derry in the North of Ireland. For readers of the Hiding Behind The Couch series, she’s Sean’s mum. Finn is Sean’s older brother. In last week’s snippet, Sean was surprised to discover Finn had accepted his christening invitation.


* * * * *
“Are he and Erin back together?”

“Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe you could ask him yourself when you call him about his room requirements.” She forged on so Sean couldn’t protest. “Right, darlin’, I’m going for real this time. I need to get—” she switched out ‘Finn’s tea on’ for “—the washing in before it starts raining. When should I expect those plane tickets?” She’d insisted on paying for them, but Sean was better with online things than she was. Next would be the infernal back and forth with him trying to return the money she’d transferred to his account.

“How’s Finn getting here?” he asked.

“He’s taking the ferry.”

“Oh, right. Well, I made last post yesterday, so they should arrive tomorrow.”

“I’ll keep an eye out, then. Love to you and Sophie, and my little man.”

“Love you, Mum. Bye now.”

“Bye.” Saorla checked the call had disconnected and put her phone back in her bag, but the conversation continued to play on her mind as she peeled the potatoes and set them in a pan to boil. Living in England had put some funny ideas in Sean’s head, for sure, but he’d never been so brazen before. Or maybe she was making mountains out of molehills. She’d have called Aileen to see what she thought, but Finn would be home anytime now.

He’d left for the clinic first thing, and he should’ve been back a few hours since. Pub or betting office was where he’d be, until his belly drove him home. That was how it had always been, and would no doubt remain so for the rest of Saorla’s days, in spite of Finn having his own place. It was rare for him to spend a night there, but not that surprising; he knew which side his bread was buttered, besides which, thirty years divorced—and before that left to bring up her sons single-handed—Saorla understood the loneliness well enough.
* * * * *
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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fat Rage!


Content Warning: fat-shaming, profanity

Today is a Fat Rage day.

Not a Fat Shame day.

Or a Fat Pride day.

I have a book out next week*, about Jesse, who's a big guy, and much more polite about all of this than I'm feeling today.

Here's a few 'come to mind' examples that might go some way towards explaining why.

Actually, forget the examples. I've been sitting on this post for half a day, and the examples included incidents of fat-shaming of friends and their family members. The count DOUBLED in the few hours since I wrote this and then decided I wouldn't post, because my rage simmered down.

Let me tell you, it's ready to blow the lid off now.

Before I go any further, I'm NOT suicidal. I'm actually feeling quite positive today.

But that is today, and that is me. There are people in this world right now who ARE suicidal because of this. Because of fat-shaming. Because of mindless hatred and judgements people have no right to make, but when you're a fatty, you're an easy target. Fat-shaming is 'acceptable' because 'it's for our own good'.

No. It's not. And it has fuck all to do with anyone else. And when you fat-shame, you show yourself up for the shallow, bigoted unthinking creature you are.

***

As I start writing this, it is 1:50 p.m. Half an hour ago, these were my thoughts:

I'm hungry.
Am I hungry, or do I just think I'm hungry?
Can I afford to eat?

I rationalised that two slices of seeded wholemeal toast with butter (254 calories in total) for breakfast wasn't so bad. So I ate a cheese and tomato sandwich for lunch.

I don't remember eating it.

I was too bloody angry, but that's quite a common occurrence - not remembering I've eaten. I don't have a belly rumble now, but I don't really feel any more satiated than I did half an hour ago.

Those of you who, right now, are thinking...

Ooh, cheese is full of fat.

Or

Try drinking more water.

Or

Try this meal substitute.

Or

WHATEVER.

Fuck off.

Really, fuck off out of here and take your judgements with you.

Because most mornings I wake up thinking 'damn, I didn't die in my sleep' and the reason I'm disappointed is because I'm fat and there is nothing I can do about it.

No doubt the second wave of judgements have hit about now.

Well, you could exercise.

Or eat less.

Do you monitor what you eat?

Do you...

Again, fuck off.

I've had to ask for seat-belt extenders on a plane.
I have to squeeze into toilet cubicles.
Chairs in waiting rooms and caf├ęs? Might as well be torture devices.
I've had to walk away from shop after shop because there are no clothes in my size.
I've limped back from walking my dogs wondering if they'll make it home if I have a heart attack.
I'm dreading standing up in front of my colleagues this weekend and being judged for not being dressed appropriately because I have no professional-style clothes that fit.

If it were as easy as 'just doing whatever', don't you think I'd have done it by now?

See, I had a weight-management strategy. It worked really well for a long time - about ten years in total. I ate without thinking all the damn time about what I was eating and whether I'd eaten too much/the wrong stuff/was anyone watching me? And I exercised. Three gym visits a week; five one-hour dog walks a week. I maintained my weight. It was brilliant. Liberating, in fact!

And then my back went into spasm. No more exercise for me, and no control over my eating. I was screwed.

That was four years ago. And the healthcare professionals? Well, they don't really help much. They're too busy punishing you to offer anything in the way of real help, or, better still, acceptance.

But here's another thing. In two months, I turn 48. I've been 'struggling with my weight' since I was a teenager. Thus, I've 'enjoyed' less than half of my life without thinking constantly...

I hate being fat.
I hate myself.
I wish I could wear those clothes.
I wish I could eat.
I wish I could stop eating.
I can't go there.
I can't do that.
I hate.
I wish.
I can't.

Now, add onto all that self-loathing:
- the constant presence of media images of slim people in beautiful clothes;
- the real dangers of being overweight;
- the fact that we live in a culture where it's acceptable to ask someone if they've lost weight while at their father's funeral! (Yes, that really happened.)

There is institutionalised fat-shaming in our schools and workplaces. Employers, teachers and all those other well-meaning never-been-through-this-hell people have NO IDEA what kind of torture it is to be asked 'how much do you weigh?' or 'what size clothes do you wear?' It is not a simple case of 'eat less, exercise more' when your entire life has been categorised as wrong.

Yes, I could eat less, exercise more. I could probably crash diet and lose a shitload of weight really quickly. But if I even think about dropping the ball, I'm done for.

The real problem is this: we've taken the average body size and bastardised the word 'norm' (in statistical terms this is the average). We use this false premise of 'normal' to judge others and ourselves as 'abnormal', because no one actually is 'normal'. No one is exactly average height, weight, leg length, head circumference, shoe size, etc. all in one lovely perfect human package.

People don't have to be that far away from 'normal' to be the victims of fat-shaming. They could even be 'normal' - or appear to be - but live with the destructive fat-shaming messages that bombard us all day, every day.

So, yes, I can make a 'real effort' and pretend to be 'normal' body size for a while, but in the end, I am not normal body size.

I will never be, however much I pretend and try to fit in.

And you, society, need to stop judging me and all of the other people like me.

Accept me. Or fuck off.

*[Find out more about The Making Of Us here: beatentrackpublishing.com/themakingofus]

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

The Making Of Us - June 20 2017 - #LGBTQIA #pride #newadult #Romance


The Making Of Us (Checking Him Out #4)
June 20, 2017

Available to preorder - http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/themakingofus

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Making Of Us - Falling Deeper #RainbowSnippets #LGBTQIA

Brief explanation:
I’m switching back to snipping from The Making Of Us for a couple of weeks, as the book is out on June 20th. :)

Preorder Links:
Beaten Track [Paperback]Beaten Track [eBook]Amazon [Kindle Edition]Smashwords [eBook]Barnes and Noble [eBook]Kobo [eBook]

You can read previous snippets here. The cover’s also changed slightly since I last snipped.

The Making Of Us is first-person, told from Jesse’s perspective. In this scene, Jesse is sitting with Leigh on Leigh’s bed, and they’re having a deep conversation about Leigh’s family. Jesse’s ‘dream come true’ is in this snippet, which I posted a while back.

Here’s the snippet:
“My feet probably stink. Sorry.”

I leaned down and sniffed the one closest to me. “They don’t,” I assured them, as what I’d dreamed of—was it only three weeks ago?—became reality without me really thinking about what I was doing.

“That feels nice.” Leigh sighed and smiled, looking a bit dopey. “You realise if you keep doing that, I’ll fall asleep?”

“I know my way out.”

I continued massaging, not applying any real pressure, enjoying the contact and the effect it was having on Leigh. Their breathing slowed and deepened, and I thought they had actually gone to sleep until they spoke again.

“Is it a good time to tell you about my mum and everything?”

* * * * *

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, June 07, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - To Be Sure (Oh, Brother) #amwriting #lgbtqia



WIPpet numbers for 7th June, 2017:

(6+7) x 20 + (1+7) = 268 words from To Be Sure

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from To Be Sure, which continues directly from last week’s snippet. This is from the first chapter of my story for SAGA: an anthology of stories featuring older LGBT+ characters (out later this year, from Beaten Track Publishing).

The main character is Saorla (seer-la) Tierney, a seventy-year-old woman from Derry in the North of Ireland. For readers of the Hiding Behind The Couch series, she’s Sean’s mum. Finn is Sean’s older brother. In last week’s snippet, Sean asked—and then double-checked—to see if his mum wanted to share a twin or a double hotel room with her friend Aileen on their upcoming trip.

* * * * *
“Yes, Sean, I’m quite sure.”

“Or you can have my place for the weekend and I’ll stay in the hotel. How about that?”

“Don’t be daft. I’ll be needing to keep an eye on your brother, anyway. So, I’ll let you get on. When—”

Sean cut her off. “Hold on. Finn’s coming?”

“Didn’t he tell you?”

“Did he f—”

“Now then…”

Sean’s angry huff made the line crackle. “No, he didn’t tell me. When would he?”

“You know, if you spoke to each other from time to time…” Saorla said, pointless as ever it was, which was why she’d left mentioning Finn’s intentions until the end of their call.

“I invited him to the baptism, didn’t I?” Sean argued.

“Yes, darlin’, you did.”

“Then the ball’s in his court.”

“And he’s coming.”

“So?”

There was no ‘so’, but Sean’s voice had taken on that deep, gruff defensiveness she remembered not so fondly from his—and Finn’s—teens. “The two of you can spend some quality time together on neutral ground.”

“Neutral? Here? He won’t see it that way, will he? I’m not sure I do, to be quite honest.”

“So to speak. It’s not here, that’s what I mean.”

“Aye, true enough,” Sean relented and was quiet a moment further while he absorbed the news. “Do I need to book a room for him as well?”

“I’d say so. He’s bringing Erin along…”

“More like she’s bringing him.”

She ignored his nit-picking. “They’re making a holiday of it. Finn’s never been to England, as you know.”

“If only he’d had somewhere to stay…” Sean muttered sarcastically.

* * * * *
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