Wednesday, July 26, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - Tabula Rasa (Exit Intercepted part two) #amwriting #lgbtqia

WIPpet numbers for 26th July, 2017:

20+17 – 26 = 11 paragraphs
from Tabula Rasa

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2)—I’ve still got little idea of where the story is going.

This novel follows on from The WAG and The Scoundrel, featuring two former undercover police officers, Gray Fisher and Rob Simpson-Stone. Their investigations relate to white-collar crimes (fraud, embezzlement, etc.), and there are also romantic relationship story arcs (however, not between Gray—who is gay, and Rob—who is straight).

This snippet follows on from directly the previous snippets—the first line is Rob’s, and he’s taking a phone call from ‘Jock’. Just in case: bought a gaff = bought a house; still got flat feet? = are you still a police officer?

* * * * *
“How’re you doing, man?”

Rob caught the microsecond pause before Jock—aka Corporal Harry ‘Jocky’ Wilson—answered, “Yeah, I’m doing all right. You?”

“I’m doing great. I thought you were still OS.”

Jock barked out a laugh. “Where the hell have you been? I’ve been back five years. Forty-five and retired. Not bad, eh? Bought a gaff down Brighton way. The kids hate it, of course.”

“Still just the two?” Rob remembered Jock’s second kid only because he was born the day after Lucas—eight years ago.

“Yeah. You had any more?”

“No, unfortunately. Zoë and I got a divorce.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

“Cheers.” Rob braced for the question of what had happened—it was the first thing most people asked when he told them.

“So…still got flat feet?”

Rob chuckled, relieved to be let off the hook so easily. “Ask me again in five hours. I’m just heading out for my leaving do.”
* * * * *
What is WIPpet Wednesday?

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Monday, July 24, 2017

The 13th Doctor - does gender matter?

When the 13th Doctor was announced, I didn't think anything of it - beyond 'hurrah, Capaldi's going!' I have no reason to dislike him. I'm sure he's an excellent actor, but sometimes there's just...something you can't put your finger on, and so, as I did when Peter Davidson took on the role, I stopped watching Doctor Who.

If it's not clear already:

a) I'm a moderately avid fan of Doctor Who (yes, I know it's an oxymoron - see above);

b) I don't think there's anything wrong with the 13th Doctor being played by a woman.

There's no canonical reason why the Doctor should always be of one specific gender, and it's a positive move in a series that began in the early 1960s - a time when all TV/movie heroes were male.


I have a problem with why, because it smells a bit dodgy, like the 1980s 'multiculturalism' in the UK that caused a great deal of social disharmony (more a social meltdown) in some areas of the country, which was - I'm pretty sure - the intention of those who imposed it - a case of "Here, we've given you equality, now stop whining," closely followed by "See? We told you it wouldn't work."

So that's my first question about the decision. Is this a case of men (the producers and BBC TV execs) giving women a gift and expecting eternal gratitude? As Hans Hirschi says in his blog post about the 13th Doctor (which I was going to reply to and leave it at that, but I had far more to say) - what we need to do now is keep the pressure on the BBC to ensure that this is more than just giving women a turn before reverting to how it was before.

My second question is more complex to define, and an article published in The Herald touches on it. The characterisation of Doctor Who has always been 'quirky' - an atypical hero - and whilst the fact that Doctors 1-12 were all played by male actors IS significant and reflects broader gender inequality, the character has become even less stereotypically masculine with subsequent regenerations, so it's of no real consequence - in terms of presenting positive role models for children, regardless of their gender - that the 13th regeneration has taken a human female form.

And yet, the BBC saw fit to include in their report on the announcement: "the first woman to get the role" - an announcement made, with hilarious, couldn't-make-this-up irony, following the Wimbledon men's final.

I've watched Doctor Who - and Star Trek - for all of my living memory (with a few gaps, admittedly - in both memory and viewing), thus I started watching those programmes before I had a concept of gender or ethnicity. It didn't occur to me that Uhura's position on the bridge of the Enterprise was groundbreaking, nor that Doctor Who kept coming back as a man.

Perhaps that's my naivety, and the fact that I'm so accustomed to a white male model of normality that I'm blind to his omnipresence.

Whatever, should we return to casting only quirky male actors as the Doctor?

I'd say not. We need more diverse role models of all genders across all types of programming. We also need to listen to what young people have to say about their role models, not the opinion of some old fuddy-duddy journalist (or, indeed, blogger).

One final observation: the Doctor has consistently shown a (romantic) attraction to / connection with human women. It's not always explicitly represented onscreen, but in some cases (the Doctor and Rose, for instance) it has been a significant multi-episode (or even multi-season) story arc. No doubt, some would argue that, as the Doctor takes on some characteristics specific to each regeneration, the 13th Doctor does not necessarily have to be attracted to human women, but that attraction has endured for eleven(?) regenerations. To change it would completely undo any good that comes from casting a woman in the role - a simultaneous step forward and step back.

Doctor Who was my role model, my hero, and it had nothing to do with gender. It was about how the Doctor negotiated the burden of responsibility as the last Time Lord [sic], the depth of characterisation, the moral debates, the (generally) excellent writing - the series has been a formative influence on my own creative and political endeavours...after all, that's where the name 'Hiding Behind The Couch' came from - where you'd find us when the Daleks or Cybermen invaded - in the days when we had yet to know of the Weeping Angels! :o

Most importantly of all, the Doctor has the best jelly babies - I know, because I've tried them.

Oh, and jelly babies don't have a gender either.

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Thursday, July 20, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - Tabula Rasa (Exit Intercepted) #amwriting #lgbtqia

WIPpet numbers for 19th July, 2017:

19 - 7  = 12 short paragraphs
from Tabula Rasa

WIPpet Context:
A first snippet from Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2), which so far consists of around three chapters. I started with the cover, and I have very little idea of where the story is going at this stage.

This novel follows on from The WAG and The Scoundrel, featuring two former undercover police officers, Gray Fisher and Rob Simpson-Stone. Their investigations relate to white-collar crimes (fraud, embezzlement, etc.), and there are also romantic relationship story arcs (not between Gray and Rob).

This snippet is the start of what is currently chapter one, but that may change.

* * * * *
Leathers over slacks and shirt, helmet in hand, Rob was at the door and ready to leave when his phone buzzed against his chest.

Leave it, answer it, leave it… If it was important, whoever it was would call back.

It stopped. Rob turned the catch and opened the front door a couple of inches at most before it started up again. With a grunt, he pushed the door shut and partially unzipped his jacket. There was a time when he could’ve ignored a ringing phone—the number onscreen was unfamiliar to both him and his address book, cold caller, more than likely—but he wasn’t prepared to take the chance.


“Hello, Shaz?”

“Sorry, mate, you’ve got the wrong number.”

“Nah. I don’t think so.”

“There’s no-one here by… Ah, hold up. Jock?”

“Yeah. Alright?”

“Bloody hell. It’s been a while. How did you get this number?”

“Rang your landline. Your missus gave me your mobile.”

“Fair enough.” It wasn’t like Zoë to give out his number without checking with him first, but he’d worry about that later.
* * * * *
What is WIPpet Wednesday?

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Review: Leaps of Faith by A.M. Leibowitz

Title: Leaps of Faith
Author: A.M. Leibowitz
Published: July 12, 2017
Categories/tags: LGBT literature, Christian fiction, bisexual, genderqueer, romance, contemporary, disability

From Christmas to Easter and from childhood through the end of life, here are ten interconnected stories revolving around one couple and the people who love them. These are tales of friendship, family, sensuality, and all the intimate moments that make them who they are, together and apart. The stories, while standalone, also fill in the gaps before and around the events in the novels in the Passing on Fatih series. Included: a youth embraces his identity; two women build a life together; a former rebellious teen finds her way; a pair of lovers explore each other's minds and bodies; a man copes with loss and grief.

It's no secret that I love character-driven fiction, which is also why I love book series. Whilst a skilled author can realistically depict characters within a single volume, portraying them in such depth that I leave the book knowing them as well (if not better) than I know people in the physical world, it's a snapshot relating to a specific time period or event in those characters' lives. Yes, it may well be perfect as it is, but sometimes (when the author gets it right) I want more.

If reading a single book is like people you meet on holiday - where you might spend an intensive week or two in their company before a teary but welcome farewell - then a series is more like your neighbours: people you see every day over a prolonged period. You get to witness their ups and downs, and perhaps, if you're friends too, join in their celebrations and mourn their losses.

So to A.M. Leibowitz's most recent release: Leaps of Faith.

Awesomely for me, it's part of a series, along with Passing on Faith, Walking by Faith (both already available) and Keeping the Faith (due for release later in 2017).

Leaps of Faith potentially works as a stand-alone collection of short stories - it's hard to tell, as I've read (and reviewed - links at the end) the first two full-length novels, and I'd recommend everyone else do the same.

Note: there will be spoilers if you, um, leap right in there and read this collection first.

The recommended reading order:
Passing on Faith
Walking by Faith
Leaps of Faith
Keeping the Faith

Whilst the titles give a clear indication that religious belief factors significantly in this series, there's absolutely no evangelising. I'm an atheist, and I approach books with religious elements with a great deal of caution, but in these stories, there's balance between the main characters' different experiences with religion, and at times, it's heavy - emotionally as opposed to theologically.

And it's really, really good.

How I see Leaps of Faith is this: those conversations you have with friends whom you've known for ages yet still there are little mysteries to be uncovered.

I heard Micah's side...
Then Cat's side...

I know them pretty well, but then there's that night when we both drank too much wine and I asked, 'When did you realise such-and-such about yourself?' And they answered, 'Well, back in Sunday School, we were doing the Christmas play, and...'

Or we meet at the bus stop and I ask innocently, 'How's your friend Zayne getting on?' Anecdotes ensue, and it dawns on me what a privilege it is to be granted this extra peek into their lives.

Without giving anything away, Leaps of Faith offers glimpses into the extended lives of Cat and Micah, the beautifully complex couple at the heart of this series. The stories tackle some really hard stuff (the author includes a note at the beginning with an indication of content some might find difficult to read), but this is done with sensitivity and integrity. There's humour - even in the bleak moments - and there's sexy times too. But there's no artificial 'shock and awe' factor, no unnecessary titillation - just life, in all its pain and glory.

My review of Passing on Faith
My review of Walking by Faith

About the Author:
A.M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and their family.

Social Media:
Blog | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page | Tumblr | Google | Pinterest

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - To Be Sure (Two plus One is Three) #amwriting #lgbtqia

WIPpet numbers for 12th July, 2017:

7 + 12  = 19 short paragraphs
from To Be Sure

Between illness and an overwhelming editing load, I didn't get around to visiting my fellow wippeteers last week - sorry, my loss. :( (There’s a link at the end of the post for where you can find more WIPpet snippets.)

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from To Be Suremy story for ‘SAGA’ (title TBC): an anthology of stories featuring older LGBT+ characters (out later this year, from Beaten Track Publishing).

This is my last WIPpet from this story, as I finished writing it a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to end with Saorla and Aileen arriving in England for Dylan’s (Saorla’s grandson) baptism.

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, and Sophie is Sean’s partner/Dylan’s mum.

In this snippet, Sean has picked up Saorla and Aileen (Saorla’s long-term friend) from the airport and is driving them to their hotel.

* * * * *
“Have you eaten?” Sean asked once they were on the motorway.

“Not since home.”

“Right. We were thinking, we’ll get you checked in, and have tea at the pub. They do a great two meals for one on steak.”

Aileen gave a needy groan. “I haven’t had a steak in ages.”

Saorla bit her tongue. She’d almost said ‘me neither’, which was the truth. The household budget didn’t run to more than the essentials, and that was with all the extra bits and bobs Sean kept sneaking into her account. On the one hand, she wished he wouldn’t; he was her son, after all, and it was topsy-turvy. On the other, she was grateful; she’d have lost the house by now. Her pension and Finn’s meagre contribution—if he could make one at all—was barely enough to cover the bills.

“Who’s ‘we’?” she asked.

Sean pulled out and around a slow lorry, and listed aloud, “Soph, Dylan, Hay—”

“That’s the godmother?” Aileen asked.

“Aye. She and Soph went to school together.”

“Do you know her, Saorla?”

“I haven’t had the pleasure, I don’t think.”

“No, you haven’t,” Sean confirmed. “One of a kind, she is. She’s staying in the hotel as well, but nowhere near you, you’ll be pleased to know.”

“Don’t you start that again,” Saorla warned.

Sean made a quick manoeuvre back into the inside lane; a sports car zoomed by at an unnecessary speed. “Start what, Mummy?” he asked, innocent as anything.

“You know what.”

For his part, Sean looked puzzled, but then something clicked. “Oh! No, that’s not what I meant at all. I was talking about Hay’s nine-year-old triplets.”

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph…”

“Ash, Kai and Sage, actually,” Sean said with a grin.

“Funny,” Saorla muttered dryly, though she was amused, as was Aileen, who fairly had the giggles.
* * * * *
What is WIPpet Wednesday?

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Monday, July 10, 2017

Visualising Characters #HBTC #amwriting

Wherever you look, my online profile will tell you: author, publisher, social scientist. I was twenty-eight, with two small children, before I graduated with a first-class degree in applied social sciences, and I'm bloody proud of it. I messed up school, lost faith in myself, started to believe I was stupid when I
wanted to be clever. I wanted to join Mensa, have letters after my name, but all I ever seemed to get was 'U's and 'F's -

U must F***ing try harder...

My degree finally convinced me that I am clever. I know stuff, I can think about stuff on a higher level, and I'm OK at teaching that stuff to others. It also made me realise that the way I interact with the world is possibly unique, certainly unusual. I don't see physical characteristics, but in case there's any doubt, I don't see auras either. I see psychological
characteristics - personalities, beliefs, emotions, judgements. I see the person within.

It wasn't my degree that bestowed the ability upon me; I've always been that way. Whilst I had my boisterous moments as a child, I was generally quiet, shy and observant. I grew up in a house where the idiom 'children should be seen and not heard' was the set ideal. Without going into detail, my childhood and adolescence was not filled with innocent, warm days of sunshine and eternal summer holidays. It was oppressive, but it was also when I learned to interpret silence.

The silence happens between the words, within the actions, the unconscious presence of the person hiding behind social props of clothes, hairstyles, make-up, gangs, cigarettes, alcohol. The silence is the person; the rest of it is add-ons.

That shyness and introversion followed me everywhere - school, church, youth club, concert band, marching band - and still persists in my professional life as an educator. It's made worse by how quickly I analyse, think and spin up countless things to say, but how slow I am to sift through them and pick the right one. Back in school, I chose mostly to say nothing, although the quiet ones are considered dangerous, so I learned to answer quickly, only to mentally return to the situation over and over again, later realising, with some regret, what I should have said.

My first Daz3D characterisation
Thus, when it comes to my writing, I know - because it's been pointed out by quite a few readers and reviewers - that my stories tend towards the exploration of human psychology. My characters, unless I try really hard (i.e. because I have to describe their physical attributes for the reader), I don't 'see' them from the outside, only the inside.

At some point - 2008-ish, I think - I decided (for fun) to make a trailer for Hiding Behind The Couch, and in the process, I downloaded Daz3D with the intention on making a short animation. It was a tiny bit ambitious, but I did, in the process, produce character representations for The Circle - the nine friends at the centre of the series.

From those, I've been able to develop a very clear visual representation of what the characters look like in 'real life' (which may prove to be a bit of stumbling block when it comes to casting the TV day). It also makes including models on book covers a tricky endeavour.

Even though there are nine main characters (or more at times), Josh and Shaunna are the most prominent characters in the series. Josh is the semi-omniscient narrator (he only thinks he knows everything), while Shaunna is 'the hub' that holds their friendship group together.

Here - for fun - are my Daz3D representations, along with book covers featuring Josh and Shaunna, and a couple of images that may find their way onto future book covers. Who knows?

Daz3D - Josh and Sean

Ruminations - young Sean and Josh

Chain of Secrets - Josh and George

Red Hot Christmas - Shaunna

Daz3D - Shaunna and Andy

I'd love to hear what readers think - is this how you see these characters?
And authors - how do you visualise your characters (if at all)?

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

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

WIPpet numbers for 5th July, 2017:

17 (year), 7 (month)  = 177 words
(not very mathematical, I know)
from To Be Sure

WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from To Be Sure, which continues directly from previous snippets. This is last bit of chapter one 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, Finn had arrived home from wherever he’d been; he and Saorla are discussing their hotel arrangements for their upcoming trip to England. (This needs the previous snippets for context).

* * * * *
When she realised Finn had said no more, she asked, “So you’re getting a double room, then?”

“Aye. Right next door to yous, so yous’d best behave yourselves.”

“Finn!” She spun to face him, furious and horrified. His grin lingered briefly before he looked away, shame-faced.

“I’m joking with you, Mum.”

“Did your brother put you up to it?”


“It’s funny you both have something to say about it today.”

“Sean didn’t say a word, and even if he had, would it matter?”

“I don’t know what the pair of you think’s going on. I’m a seventy-one-year-old woman, for Christ’s sake.”

“And that means you don’t have needs?”

Saorla’s face was burning, and so was the tea. She turned back to the stove and flipped the leftovers to brown the other side. “It’s not up for discussion—with you or Sean. Do you understand?”

“There’s nothing wrong with—”

“I said, do you understand?” She glared over her shoulder.

Finn raised his hands in surrender. “Fine. I won’t bring it up again. You have my word.”
* * * * *
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:

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Last night a gherkin saved my life #amwriting #BritishSummer

No kidding, at 1:30 a.m., when I was ready to chop off my head if that was what it took to stop coughing, I went online, typed:

How to stop a cough spasm

and read, fervently, desperately, dropping my phone at least twice in the midst of yet more coughing. Water, cough medicine, painkillers, cough sweets - did all that.

The internet said:
Use steam (in the middle of the night?)
Watch the humidity (watching)
Clean bedding (check)
Salt water gargle (hell, no)
Warm fluids (let's not think about the strain this much coughing puts on your pelvic floor)
...and so many quack remedies, but really, I was up for trying every last one.

I started with the more conventional:
Honey and lemon
Honey and tea
Honey and hot water
Honey and honey
Well, I've never seen a bee coughing...but no, the honey didn't work. Nor, I imagine, would menthol vapour rub on the soles of my feet, but I couldn't find it or believe me, I'd have given it a go.

Then this:
If your throat is left raw by a bad cough, grab a bottle of apple cider vinegar because germs can't survive in the acidic coating it'll form on your throat. Gargle with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt dissolved in a glass of warm water; use several times a day if needed.
And this:
Adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice, to a glass of water helps to alkalinize the body. Creating an alkaline environment helps kill bacteria and viruses. Start drinking it at the first sign of illness and repeat several times a day until the symptoms subside.
I wasn't entirely convinced by the science, but I was in no mood for offering critique.

We didn't have any apple cider vinegar (which sounds kind of nice?) and balls was I drinking malt vinegar, but, I thought, cough there cough has cough to-be-some-way-to COUGH COUGH stop this! Aggggggh!

Pickles? suggested my well-shaken brain.

Pickles. Seriously?

And because it was well-shaken, and the dog was growling, and it was the middle of the night, I duly crept down the stairs, grabbed the first jar of pickles I found (I was thinking beetroot might be tastier as a solo medicinal snack, but still) and ate pickled gherkins (which are kind of like sweet pickles in the US, I think - maybe a bit sharper). The cough spasm...stopped!

Surely not, no, this cannot be.

Back to bed, head on pillow, zzzzz, straight through to my alarm!

Bloody brilliant! Placebo or otherwise, I don't care.
Last night, a gherkin saved my life, or at the very least my sanity.

Results may vary.

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Sunday, July 02, 2017

No Filter - Multipurpose Fruit #RainbowSnippets #LGBTQIA

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

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.

This snippet is from Matty’s point of view. Noah is Matty’s SO.


“Pew, pew!”

Noah peered over the top of my phone and held up his apple. “Want me to put it on top of my head?”

I grinned. “Yeah. I can boomerang it.” I turned the banana side on and got ready to launch.

“Maybe not.” Taking a huge bite out of the apple, Noah went back to reading off my phone.
* * * * *

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