Wednesday, September 27, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - Tabula Rasa (Upended) #amwriting #lgbtqia



WIPpet numbers for 27th September, 2017:

2017 / 9 - 27 = 197 (rounded to a whole number) words
from Tabula Rasa


WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2).

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).

The snippet is from Gray’s point of view: he’s on his way to Will’s house, via the woods, when he meets up with Will and his dogs. Kenny is a dog who uses wheels to get around.

(P.S. I’m really sorry I didn't get over to everyone’s blogs last Wednesday. The time got away from me. I’ll do better.)

* * * * *
Gray winced as Kenny hit a raised root and flipped upside down, wheels spinning in the air. Without a second thought, Gray dashed to his aid and got no thanks at all from the dog, who raced off as soon as he was upright. Gray supposed that was thanks enough.

“Remember when that used to freak you out?” Will murmured, his chin heavy on Gray’s shoulder.

He smiled at the reminder. At the start, everything Kenny did freaked Gray out—the shuffling around the house and thadumping down the stairs with his back legs dragging behind him, capsizing in the woods, falling into the canal—even his hydrotherapy sessions in a doggy lifejacket with a therapist standing next to him gave Gray palpitations. And while he was caught up in all that worry for nothing, that big old dog had thadumped his way right into Gray’s heart.

“We’ve made good progress, haven’t we?” he said.

“For a dog who doesn’t like people, and a people who doesn’t like dogs, I’d call it outstanding progress.”

“Outstanding…” Gray sidestepped, laughing when Will jolted forward at the sudden loss of chin rest. He caught Will’s hand and they moved on.
* * * * *
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: http://www.inlinkz.com/wpview.php?id=355404


Thanks for reading
Deb x

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Book Review: The Truth About Goodbye by Russell Ricard

Title: The Truth About Goodbye
Author: Russell Ricard
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Published: 4th April, 2017
ISBN: 9781634897877
Link: http://www.russellricard.com

Blurb:
Sebastian Hart has dealt with a lifetime of goodbyes. And now, a year after his husband Frank’s death, the forty-year-old Broadway chorus boy still blames himself. After all, Sebastian started the argument that night over one of Frank’s former date-items, someone younger than Sebastian who still wanted Frank.

Challenged by his best friend Chloe, a quirky ex-Rockettes dancer, Sebastian struggles toward his dream of becoming a choreographer, and grapples with romantic feelings for Reid, a new student in his tap class.

Ultimately, Sebastian begins to wonder whether it’s his imagination, or not, that Frank’s ghost is here, warning him that he daren’t move on with another love. He questions the truth: Is death really the final goodbye?

The Truth About Goodbye is a coming-of-middle age story about love, loss, self-acceptance, and renewal.

Review:
I'll be honest; I thought twice about reading this novel. Three times, in fact. I read the preview and discovered it was written in third-person present tense, which - due to the wonders of popular fiction - is a rare form these days, and it jarred. However, I knew once I started reading, I'd settle into it.

The other reason I dithered was the subject matter. The blurb makes it quite clear this is a story about grief, and I read for escapism. If, as is the case here, the plot is well executed and the characters are fully realised, I strongly connect with the events and the characters' living through them, which means I'm pretty much going to spend the duration swept up in the character's grief.

That's precisely what happened. It took me around three chapters to stop noticing the narrative, and then I was submerged into Sebastian's world. He calls himself a 'forty-year-old chorus boy', and that's a powerful insight into his self-critical perspective. He's never good enough, original enough, young enough, handsome enough - Sebastian started out in a dark place, and his husband's death only drove him deeper.

Which, in part, is the truth about what it will take for Sebastian to say goodbye. His existence is driven by questions for which he's afraid to seek the answers. He's in a fantasy land, where life is just a Broadway musical (think second act of Into The Woods...) and every pivotal moment in which one of those answers might lurk is lost to Sebastian's penchant for being reminded of such-and-such-a-number from such-and-such-a-show. It's annoying and exhausting - for Sebastian and the immersed reader. Because, ultimately, we both of us know he needs to get real, escape from the fantasies he's concocted around every loss he's endured, every chance he has to move forward. He needs to say goodbye. And stop over-feeding Arthur, maybe fix up the place a little...

The secondary characters are strong and well-written if not a little clichéd, although no less real for that. I know musical theatre people, and I can spot the Chloes, Gregs and Mrs. Woos among them. It doesn't make Chloe any less like someone I want to shake. No doubt, her heart is mostly in the right place, but at times, she's a lesson in how not to be a best friend. Sadly, I know too many people in real life like that to cast her off as a fictional stereotype, and in a way, I wish the author had made her 'less real', not least because it would have been an easier read if I'd been confident Sebastian was in good hands.

Grief is a messy, seemingly impenetrable fog that distorts reality, and only the grieving can break themselves free of it. The Truth About Goodbye is Sebastian's spiralling journey through that fog, and while it doesn't necessarily have a happy ending in the fairy-tale sense, it certainly has a hopeful one, with a side order of romantic potential. This is a very strong debut novel - I look forward to reading more from Russell Ricard.

Received through NetGalley.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Character Spotlight: Charlie Davenport (Hiding Behind The Couch) #biweek #bivisibility #lgbt


So…I had a different post planned for Bi Visibility Day, but you know what? There’s been a distinct shortage of bi women (or just ‘not men’, really) in most of the stuff I’ve seen, including my own posts—I’ll hold my hands up to that. Therefore, I’m rounding off the week with Charlie (aka Charlotte Davenport) from the Hiding Behind The Couch series.

But first…A.M. Leibowitz (author/reviewer/blogger/BiCast presenter and more) has compiled an excellent (and ongoing) list of bi authors, bloggers, books and resources, which you can find here: amleibowitz.com/2017/09/22/the-big-bilist-awesome-bi-writers-books-and-resources/. They also wrote some awesome #BiWeek flash fiction (and it includes non-male characters, yay!). You can (and definitely should) read it on their blog (five stories in all), plus there's a giveaway.

And you can still buy my bi books at half-price/enter a giveaway here: beatentrackpublishing.com/bivisibility (last day today).

Link back to all of my #BiWeek 2017 posts.

Charlie Davenport

In yesterday’s post about Kris Johansson, I included Kris’s ‘CV’, and people liked it / found it useful, so I’ve put together similar CVs for the rest ‘The Circle’ (the main characters in HBTC) as well as the ‘extended circle’ (the circle on the right).


I’ll be posting those CVs over the coming weeks.

Here’s Charlie to…get the ball rolling. :D
Name: Charlotte (Charlie) Davenport
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Brown, straight
Complexion: Fair
Height: 5’ 5”
Weight: 10-11 stone
Build: athletic
Tattoos/Piercings: Both ears x 1
Education: University of Birmingham – BA (hons) Marketing and Journalism.
Accent: Northwest English.
Languages: English

Quickfire Questions:
Place of Birth: Northwest England
Siblings: Six – oldest to youngest: Ellie (Eleanor), Ben, (I go here), Luke, Tilly (Matilda), Teddy (Edward), Pete.
Children: None.
Places lived: Northwest England; Midlands, England; Brisbane, Australia.
Jobs: Semi-pro footballer, football coach, marketing/PR manager, business manager.
Interests: Surfing, footy, family.
Pets: None.
Greatest Success: Getting on the England squad.
Worst thing you’ve ever done to someone: Slapped my mum.
Biggest Trauma: None.
Do you have a secret: Not anymore. ;)
Favourite Book: It’s one of my mum’s Catherine Cookson novels. I don’t talk about it.
Favourite Food: Anything spicy.
Favourite Drink: Water.
Strength: Competitive.
Weakness: Too laid back.
Best way to spend a weekend: Footy.
Closest Friends: My teammates.
Love of your life: Footy.

And some Charlie snippets!

In The Stars Part I: Capricorn–Gemini

(Setting: Eleanor’s house, with Josh, Andy and Dan)

“Ah, yes, that’s right. How was Brisbane?” Josh asked.

“Hot. Busy. Expensive. No jobs there, either, not that I went with the intention of looking.”

“You’d consider emigrating?”

“Possibly. To be honest, it’s not much different from any other big city.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Andy contended. “It’s very clean.”

“True. And the people are more polite than in most.”

Andy nodded in agreement. “I was in London a few months back.”

“Tell me about it!” Charlotte groaned. “How rude?”

“I hear ya.”

Josh and Dan looked at each other.

“So yeah,” Charlotte continued, “as cities go, Brisbane’s OK, but it’s the coast that keeps on luring me back. The surfing’s superb.”

“Oh, yeah,” Andy said dreamily. “Incredible beaches.”

“Yeah. Gotta be seen to be believed,” Charlotte agreed, a wistful look settling on her face.

“I’d love to go again,” Andy said.

“Did you get down to Snapper Rocks at all?” she asked.

“Did I ever! I like Duranbah way better. Not as many tourists.”

“True. Or autograph hunters. I loved Cudgen Reef, though I didn’t go out.”

“Oh, I’d forgotten about Cudgen Reef! I met this great guy there—”

Josh and Dan edged towards the door.

“—who was going right down the coast…”

They stepped outside and left the surfers to their paradise.

***

Those Jeffries Boys

(This is a bit of a spoiler, but not much.)

Slowly, keeping her proximity, Charlie turned around and looked up at him. “It’s mutual,” she said. “The attraction.”

“But…I thought you were seeing someone.”

“You mean Megan?”

Mike nodded, although she could have provided any name at all, it wouldn’t have mattered. His point was…well, his point was clearly way off base. “You’re not a lesbian?”

Charlie’s eyebrows rose and her eyes widened in annoyance. “No, I’m not,” she said coolly. “I’m bisexual. I thought Andy or someone might’ve told you.”

“Sorry. I didn’t know.” Her statement had thrown him a little because he’d figured part of the reason she didn’t scare him was that there was no possibility of them ever being more than friends. Now he was waiting for the panic to set in and kill his arousal, except it didn’t, and he wasn’t sure what else to say. I don’t want a relationship sounded like the brush-off, and right now, the very last thing he wanted to do was give her the brush-off.

“You need to make the first move, Mike.”

His racing pulse filled his ears, and his stomach churned. “I don’t know if I can.”

Charlie offered him a smile of reassurance. “That’s fine. We don’t need to do anything.”

“But I really want to.” He swallowed, trying to lubricate his mouth, dry from heavy breathing. “Would you be upset if I told you it’s only sex?”

Charlie laughed. “Whatever. We’re mates already, and we’re both single, so why not?”

***

Reunions

(Setting: Boxing Day—the family are gathered at Ben’s house. Ben, Teddy and Pete are Charlie’s brothers; Kohl is their nephew and one of the mentioned twins.)

Teddy grinned. “Mind if I join you? Ben and Jo have just got back and they’re talking about Monopoly.”

“Oh, God. Come on, quick, before they notice we’re not there.”

Teddy squished into the chair with Charlie.

A moment later, Pete came in and mouthed ‘I’ve got a date’ at Charlie. She gave him a thumbs up. Pete took up position next to Kohl.

Ben appeared in the doorway. “We’re playing Monopoly. Are you in?”

Charlie glanced over. “Nah, you carry on.”

Ben nodded and went back the way he’d come. “The kids are all watching a movie,” he explained loudly for the benefit of whoever was in the kitchen. Pete growled.

“One of these days…” Teddy threatened.

Charlie laughed and slung her arm around his shoulder. “You know what you’ve gotta do, don’t you?”

“What? Get married? No chance. I’m done with women.”

“Never say never, Ted.”

“Hm. What about you? Any romance on the horizon.”

“Nope. But Pete’s got a date.”

“No way! Have you?”

“Excuse me?” Pete objected from the sofa. “Why is that so hard to believe?”

“Well, you’re all…churchified.”

“And?”

“And… Oh, wait. Is it with Norman?”

Charlie burst into laughter.

“Shhhhh!” the twins hissed in unison.

“Sorry,” Charlie whispered. “That’s what I said.”

“What’s his name?” Teddy asked.

“Byron.”

“Don’t know him.”

“He’s new.”

Teddy nodded and watched the movie for a couple of minutes. “What’s he look like?” he asked Charlie.

“He’s all right.”

Across the room, Pete growled to let them know he could hear them.

“Has he got a sister?” Teddy whispered.

Pete got up. “I’m going to play Monopoly,” he said, pausing at the door to add, “with the grown-ups.”

***

Thanks for reading!
Deb x

Friday, September 22, 2017

Character Spotlight: Kris Johansson (Hiding Behind The Couch) #biweek #bivisibility #lgbt


When my dearest husband read the very first draft of Hiding Behind The Couch (Season One), he must’ve misread ‘Kris’ as ‘Kenny’, because in the ten years since—during which he’s read the first draft of every single story—he’s come up with at least a hundred ways to kill Kris.

My favourites include the morning Kris woke up and found all the bodies of his friends downstairs and realised he was completely and utterly alone (not sure how he died that time, to be honest, probably not murder), the multiple occasions he’s been run over by buses, and when he fell off a cliff for no reason whatsoever…there are times I wonder if I should just open a document and let Nige write the next instalment.

I permit this indulgence, of course. Nige is my alpha reader (sometimes he pushes it and asks, “Don’t you mean alpha male?” Ha.) He tells me he’s joking (about killing Kris, not the alpha male thing) and he’d have nothing left to do if I did follow through and send Kris off to Valhalla or wherever he’s destined to end up. It’s turned into a fun running joke, and I’m lucky to be married to someone who supports my writing and convincingly feigns takes an interest.

However, Nige is not the only one who is…ambivalent about my lovely Swedish out-and-proud bisexual.

In Kris’s defence…

Shaunna loves him.

I rest my case. :D

But seriously, come on, guys! He looks like Morten Harket, he’s an actor, his best mate is a beefcake, his first boyfriend was a high school football star, his current boyfriend manages a naked dance troupe, and his wife-ex-wife is a super-hot redhead. Even if he’s got zilch personality, isn’t he worth tolerating for his friends?

Whatever, I like him, and I’m the author, so ner.

Oh my god, she is so not going to kill Kris.

Instead, here are a few insights from Kris’s actor CV:
Name: Kristian Johansson
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Light Brown
Complexion: Fair
Height: 5’ 11”
Weight: 11 stone
Build: Slim
Tattoos/Piercings: None
Training: Drama Centre London
Accents and Dialects: Most British (English, Welsh, Scottish) regional accents, RP
Languages: English, Swedish
Role-Playing Ages: 35–45

Quickfire Questions:
Place of Birth: Gothenburg, Sweden.
Siblings: Lars (older brother).
Places lived: Gothenburg, Northwest England, London.
Jobs: Radio actor, TV actor.
Interests: Reading, listening to music, visiting the theatre.
Pets: Casper (yellow Labrador).
Greatest Success: Buying a house for Shaunna, Krissi and me.
Worst thing you've ever done to someone: Cheating on Shaunna.
Biggest Trauma: Childhood abuse.
Do you have a secret: Not telling.
Favourite Book: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.
Favourite Food: None. I’m severely allergic to shellfish (and cats—as pets, not food!). It makes eating a bit of a chore.
Favourite Drink: Tea.
Strength: Making sure everyone is happy.
Weakness: Making sure everyone is happy.
Best way to spend a weekend: Walking the dog with loved ones / friends.
Closest Friends: Shaunna, George, Dan.
Love of your life: Ade, Krissi (daughter), Shaunna.

And here is a selection of smoochy snippets. Note: these are moderately saucy.

With George

(from Chain of Secrets (Novella))

(Setting: a high school art lesson—aged 14–15)

Kris walked back to George’s desk and leaned over his shoulder. “Wow, that’s really good.”

“Thank you. How did yours turn out?”

“Well, I was very happy with it until I saw yours.” Kris laughed, and his breath moved George’s hair, making him shiver. Kris pulled out the chair next to George’s and sat down, his knee touching George’s outer thigh. There was no mistaking the contact as an accident.

“You know that I’m…” Kris paused, giving George room to respond. He nodded. “Are you?”

“Yeah.”

“I like you.”

“Same.”

Kris released a heavy, shaky sigh. “I’ve never had a boyfriend before.”

“Me neither.”

“So…do you, err…want to come to my house one day next week?”

“I was going to ask you the same thing. Well, not exactly the same thing. My mum doesn’t like people being at ours.”

“I understand,” Kris said sympathetically. “My mum and dad are OK about me.”

“Oh, no, that’s not what I meant. My mum’s always known, and she doesn’t care as long as I’m happy. It’s just…she works long hours.” George didn’t have anything to add to that statement and wasn’t sure where to go next. Had he even accepted Kris’s invitation?

“What day?” Kris asked.

“Any except Halloween.”

“Monday? I live near St. Mark’s school. That’s where you went, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. How do you know?”

“Dan told me. That’s all he said, though. It’ll be easier to meet at the school so I can show you how to get to my house.”

“OK. Monday at St. Mark’s. What time?”

“About eleven? There’s only my brother at home during the day.”

“Eleven is good for me.”

“Great.” Kris got up from the chair, pushed it back under the table and then leaned close to George again, this time with his hand resting on George’s shoulder. “See you on Monday,” he whispered, and left.

***

(Setting: the treehouse)

The silence resumed, and they drank the rest of their juice. George could tell Kris felt as nervous as he did. He was clinging to his empty glass and drumming his fingers against the bottom of it in a steady pattern, like the fast drip-drip-drip of a tap not quite closed off. There was so much tension between them, and it was difficult to know what to do. They should probably talk more, get to know each other first, and then think about doing other stuff, but George’s gaze kept wandering back to Kris’s mouth. The urge built, became more intense, took him over…

“Did you want—” Kris’s words evaporated as George moved in and kissed him, once, with his lips tightly closed. Kris bounced forward slightly as George moved away, blinking in surprise, his eyes bright, large dark pupils taking over most of the pale blue. He put his glass to one side and climbed onto his knees. George mirrored him, and they kissed again, parting their lips this time.

“Are you sure no-one will come in?” George whispered.

“I can lock the hatch,” Kris suggested. George nodded and sat back on his feet while Kris secured the trapdoor. He crawled back to George, and they tumbled sideways onto the mattress.

For a long time, they kissed, explored with their hands, didn’t speak. It was fulfilling and frustrating all at once, and it was everything George had imagined it would be. Minus the arguments. Those probably came later.

***


With Shaunna

(from Hiding Behind The Couch (Season One))

(Setting: Kris and Shaunna’s house)


“Mmm. I love the way you cook bacon.” Shaunna prodded the crispy rasher with a fork. “You know just how to win me round.”

“Years of careful observation and well-executed plans, my sweet.” Kris grinned and tended to his own plate. “Now, I want you to forget about things for a little while, eat breakfast, drink tea and read the paper. Then, if you like, we can make love.”

“How about—” Shaunna pushed the tray aside “—we do that in reverse order. Sort of.” She clambered to her knees and leaned over, kissing him, as he reached up to remove the clip. Her hair tumbled onto her bare shoulders, where it bounced and came to rest on her partly covered breasts. She unfastened his shirt, his belt, and then his jeans. He pushed the straps of her nightdress off her shoulders so that it glided over her breasts and down to her waist. Lifting her arms out of it, she sat astride, kissing his lips, cheeks, neck, chest, writhing slowly. The jeans were scratching her bare legs, and after a short while she climbed off, removed them, along with his boxer shorts, stepped out of her nightdress and returned to her previous position. He allowed her to control the action, and slowly, they moved together in perfect tandem.

It didn’t take very long for them both to climax; the tea was still warm, although the breakfast was not.

***


As soon as they got home, Shaunna went to bed, leaving Kris to deal with Casper and lock up. He expected her to either be asleep or pretending to be when he followed her upstairs ten minutes later and was surprised to find her awake and waiting for him.

“What’s up?” He sat on the end of the bed and took off his shoes.

“Nothing,” she replied, climbing behind him and wrapping her arms around his neck. “Just wanted to tell you I love you. That’s all.”

Kris turned his face towards her and kissed her. “Let me get my clothes off, and I’ll be right with you.”

“Ha ha! I tell you I love you, and you think your luck’s in,” she joked, throwing a pillow at the back of his head. He picked it up and threw it back. Within seconds, it escalated into a full pillow fight.

“I’m gonna get you, Mrs. Johansson,” Kris said, crawling up the bed on his knees, dangling a pillow by its corner from each hand.

“Not if I get you first.” Shaunna laughed and leapt over him, grabbing his pillows on the way past.

“A-ha! The element of surprise!” He reached down to pick up a pillow that had fallen on the floor, but too late! Shaunna now had all of the pillows and was swinging one above her head, ready to launch. “Noooo!” he yelled, backing up against the headboard, where she bombarded him with all four of them, before climbing onto the bed and straddling his legs. He rubbed her thighs with the palms of his hands.

“OK. You win,” he submitted between the kisses.

“Of course! I always do.”

***


With Ade

(from Crying in the Rain Novel))

(Setting: Kris and Shaunna’s house)

Kris used his body to roll Ade onto his back and slid against him, gently rocking and pushing, taking it slowly to make the most of every second as their bodies gradually became one.

Ade moaned, taken over by the incredible sensations rising within. He covered his mouth with his hand and they both froze for a second, listening for an indication of where in the house Shaunna was, but then the intensity returned and they forgot all about her, their lips coming together as that irrepressible motion took over. Ade wanted to feel like this forever, yet as soon as that thought registered, it was whisked away by an urgency, a desperation. His body tingled from the pressure, the closeness, the heat of the friction and the desire, all of his nerve endings awakened at once to the glorious pain, the heavenly pleasure—Kris was worried about his short fuse?

This moment was perfect, this crescendo to climax that they were sharing, a voluntary connection of souls, hearts, bodies—Ade’s back arched, and he felt in every part of him the deep, intense thrusts, meeting them again and again, until his awareness was nothing outside of soaring, first one and then the other, as they succumbed to this gift of release, of trust; and themselves.

***


(from Reunions (Season Seven))

(Setting: Hayley's hair salon)

Kris took Ade’s hand and led him past Hayley and through the door to the stockroom.

“Ooh.” Ade looked around him in wonder. “This is where they were doing it.”

Kris tugged on Ade’s hand, spinning him in and trapping him against the wall. “Is that a challenge, Mr. Simmons?”

Ade grinned. “What was it he called me?”

“Who?”

“Andy.”

“Oh!” Kris could feel his face burning at the reminder of last Christmas’s less savoury events. He coughed self-consciously. “A screamer.”

“Hmm-hmm.” Ade ran his tongue over his teeth. Kris swallowed heavily. He was turned on enough to go along with it, but ‘screamer’ was a very accurate description, and there were three women on the other side of the door that he’d rather didn’t have to hear that. Instead, he offered Ade a kiss that he’d intended to be quick and chaste, but turned out to be nothing of the sort. Ade’s warm hands slid under Kris’s jacket and found their way inside his shirt, spanning his back and working downward, his fingers pushing past Kris’s waistband.

“There’s something about this room,” Ade murmured into Kris’s mouth.

“Mmm.” Kris wondered if it was the chemicals, because there was no way he’d normally consider this level of touching outside of their house.

“We’ve never done it up against a wall.”

“No.”

“Could be fun.”

“Yes.” One-word answers were difficult enough when Kris’s entire body was responding to Ade’s touch. The rocking pressure against his crotch was getting a little too much to bear, and had the door from the salon not opened, it may well have been too late.

“Did you find them OK, sweedie?” Hayley asked first, saw them second, grinned third. “Ah. I’ll leave you to it.” She reversed her steps. The door closed again.

“Not here,” Kris said, his face hot as fire, but he was laughing. It was fun. Maybe with a couple of shots of amaretto inside him… “Let’s get some mugs.”

“That’s what we came for, after all.” Ade gave Kris one last kiss—lingering, still with tongues—and moved to a safe distance. “OK, so where are these mugs?”

***


And For Fun:

(Red Hot Christmas (Novella))

(Setting: a pub, two days before Christmas)

“If you ever start talking to me again,” Kris said, “I want to ask you something.”

Ade sighed loudly for effect. “I’ll get over it. But you’d better have bought me something amazing for Christmas.”

Kris smiled and kissed him on the cheek. “I love you,” he whispered. “I really, really do.” Ade tutted. “Lots and lots, like jelly tots.” Kris started kissing his cheek over and over again, interspersed with repeats of ‘I love you’.

Ade rolled his eyes and wiped his cheek dry. “OK! Stop. I forgive you.”

“For what?” Shaunna asked.

Kris cleared his throat. “I did something stupid.”

“Again?”

“Thanks!”

“You’re welcome.” Shaunna grinned. “So, what’s all this about going to Manchester for Christmas?”

“We’re going to Manchester for Christmas.”

“And leaving me with the dog.”

“Nope. Casper’s going to stay at a friend’s house.”

“Whose?”

“Blue’s.”

“Since when?”

“Since Josh said it was OK. We’ll have to check with George tomorrow, but I don’t—”

Shaunna put up her hand to stop him. “Why? I’ll still be at home.”

“No, you won’t.”

“What?”

“I said, ‘No, you won’t.’”

“Kristian Johansson. Come this way,” Shaunna got up and grabbed Kris by the scruff, leading him outside. It was pointless, because he wasn’t going to crack.

Ade waited until Shaunna and Kris were out of sight, then turned to Andy and grinned.

“I know where you’re going,” he sang.

“And I know what Kris has bought you for Christmas,” Andy retorted.

“We could trade?” Ade offered.

“Not a chance. They’ll string us up.”

“Yes, you’re probably right.”

“You’d better believe it.”

***


Thanks for reading!
Deb x

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Let's Talk Labels #BiWeek #BiVisibility #LGBT #feminism


Let's talk labels.

What are they? Why do we need them? I know there will be those - even amongst my friends - with steam coming out their ears right about now, because I'm calling bullshit on the 'we don't need labels' argument.

You think you don't need them? Good for you. But here's a thing that happened to me that might serve as a helpful example:

A few years ago, when I was teaching in a high school, I called the National Union of Teachers for legal advice about a change to my employment contract.

Receptionist: Are you a member?
Me: No, I—
Receptionist: I'm afraid we can't offer you any advice or support. The ATL might, though. Good luck.

So I called the ATL (The Association of Teachers and Lecturers) and got the same response (I believe they've since changed their policy) other than they suggested I call the NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters [and] Union of Women Teachers - archaic, I know).

I called the NASUWT, and FINALLY found a union prepared to offer me advice and support even though I wasn't a member, on the proviso I joined the union right then and there. So I did, and later, I became a rep.

Being a rep was a thankless, awful task. The leadership team was very professional in their dealings with me and the other reps, I've got to admit, and I hadn't expected that; my dad's experiences as a rep in the NHS indicated I was in for a hell of a time. We were at the start of big changes that essentially privatised our state education system, which (of course) all of the teaching unions were fully against, so there were many meetings, all of them futile because central government were pulling the strings. To stop it would have required MASSIVE action at every level from an impenetrable united front - all unions, all members, all teachers (including senior leadership), governors, parents, pupils. Instead, most rolled over for the tummy rub and pretended a kick in the ribs wouldn't follow.

I don't want to go too far along that tangent, as it'll take me away from the point of this post (why we need labels, in case you've forgotten), but what I will say is there are two types of union members (I found): those who are active and passionate, and those who are like walking 'whatever' shrugs. They are busy-busy-busy people and the privatisation of education had no immediate, direct impact on them, so apathy was the order of the day.

In other words, they wore the label but they didn't identify with it...until the day came when the changes DID affect them. THEN they wanted the union's oomph behind them, even though they weren't prepared to add to that oomph when we'd needed it (see above re MASSIVE action).

Then there are those who say they don't need to join a union, because union members are troublemakers, legitimised fire starters spoiling for a fight. Again, most change their tune when the system rises against them and they, tiny teacher, don't stand a chance against the might of The Establishment.

In summary, employment unions protect workers' rights through the power of unification. As individuals, we have very little power, but when we combine that power, we become a force to be reckoned with.

Labels of oppression work exactly the same way, by allowing us to join forces with others to fight against a common foe. Historically, 'the oppressed' (people of colour, underpaid workers, women, Jewish people, disabled people, LGBT+ people, and so on - I could keep going forever) united under a common flag (or label) to fight their oppressors. Those people didn't choose a life as second-class citizens, criminals, slaves, invisible people locked in institutions. It was IMPOSED on them by the powerful to ensure the continuation of their power.

Those labels - black, women, working class, disabled, LGBT+ - are sweeping. They subsume every other facet of a person - everything they've achieved, everything they love, what matters the most to them - because the powerful take away our rights on the basis of that one characteristic.

We don't choose to wear those labels. They are forced on us by those in power.

In fact, 'label' isn't the right word. More like 'tattoo'. We can't just peel it off and everything will be OK. We can pretend everything is OK, which is exactly what someone does when they say 'we don't need labels'.

For as long as power is exercised against us because of that label, tattoo, flag - who we are, WE NEED LABELS! But we need to use them wisely, not as a means of saying 'I am like you but I am nothing like you' but to recognise who else is on our side in the war.

In 1997, when I was preparing for my undergraduate dissertation, I took my first draft proposal to my dissertation tutor. I'd done a lot of preliminary reading, and I was very pleased with what I'd put together. I wanted to deconstruct binary gender (male/female and masculine/feminine) and look at how we could move towards non-binary gender politics: i.e. beyond feminism, which then focused only on women's rights, with a lot of dissent between the different groups of feminists within.

My dissertation tutor said it was 'too post-modern', as in politically impotent, and at the time I was miffed. More than miffed. It really took the wind out of my sails, and the dissertation I produced instead was OK (the politics of transsexuality [sic]), but far from my best work.

I've thought about it a lot since, as I've watched us move towards a non-binary gender politics. No, I'm not bitter...mostly.

My dissertation tutor was right, but not because I was wrong. Where my proposal lacked finesse was in - forgive the cliché - 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater'. I was proposing post-feminism, post-gay rights, post-lesbian rights, post-trans rights when what I should've been doing was looking at how existing organised gender politics could be 'de-polarised'. Because feminism isn't only 'women's rights'; it's the fight against patriarchy.

Patriarchy underpins every single social institution - the family, social services, the armed forces, schools, hospitals, religious organisations, national and international government - at every level. It can be found in arguments against women's ordination, the way meetings are arranged, how voting takes place, the options available to students, unequal pay, maternity leave, assumptions about women and parent-child relationships, arguments for biological imperatives for maternal instinct, the need for children to have a mother, arguments against marriage equality and gay adoption, the murder of women, domestic violence and the way violence against women is dealt with by the authorities (police, international government), and so on.

Everything is geared towards protecting the privileged position of white heterosexual men. And yes, I appreciate many black men and gay men do very well out of patriarchy, but do they achieve it by peeling off the labels 'black' and 'gay' to embrace their male privilege?

My dissertation proposal was naïve and, frankly, as dangerous as assuming that 'feminism' without any refinements has got the political impetus to bring down patriarchy.

Patriarchy protects such a small minority (numerically) - to properly narrow it down: white, European, middle-class, heterosexual men - but it's had millennia to build a nice, tight bunker for itself.

The problem is, many of us look at feminism (like I did back in 1997) and think 'it's not for me'. We imagine feminists to be this small group of angry, man-hating women who want to harvest sperm and kill all the men (did I mention patriarchy controls the media and publishing?). It's so far removed from who we are that we cannot possibly identify with the cause.

Well, feminism is NOT that.

Contemporary feminism - on the whole - understands that nearly all of humankind is oppressed by patriarchy; in some cases, entire nations. Thus, it's easy to assume that we can throw a blanket over the world, so to speak, and work to protect the rights of all humans, but it's a political shortcut, a catchall, and some of those we're protecting exercise their rights at the expense of others'. Some enjoy the privileges of patriarchy in some areas of their life whilst being oppressed in others (e.g. gay men who wish to marry and raise a family).

We need to be more focused, pinpoint the exact forms oppression takes, so we can fight it on all fronts.

Which is where the labels come in.

The problem with the way we live now is that we've broken away from our wider social groups, our cultures. We're more aware of how we are different than how we are alike, which may well be the reason why some people believe labels are a bad thing. We are all unique, that's true, but we're no less unique if we acknowledge the things that make us who we are.

Now, it's #BiWeek - a week celebrating and raising awareness of bisexuality, and you may or may not have noticed this is the first time in this enormous post that I've mentioned it, despite having mentioned the L, G and T of the LGBT+ acronym. It was intentional.

Yesterday, I read a great interview with a celebrity who talked about the importance of being out as bisexual. You won't have to look far to find plenty of interviews like that this week. And on every last one, you'll find a toxic tirade in the comments section, in most cases from other members of the 'LGBT' community. The one I read yesterday, there was a particularly noxious commenter who talked around the houses about being bi but refusing the wear the label (even coming up with their own label for what they were). Their excuse: the vast majority of people who 'claim' to be bisexual are not. Still others insist bisexuality is not real, or that bisexual people are lesbians/gay men in disguise, or bisexuality is only real for women, or...whatever other nonsense they can come up with for dismissing, denying, hating and/or excluding bisexual people.

It won't stop simply by discarding the 'bisexual' label, which exists because some people are NOT heterosexual, OR gay, OR lesbian.

Now, we could, as these commenters seem to want, break apart the LGBT+ community and political movement. We could all fight our own corners, even if that means doubling (quadrupling+) the work of, say, the campaign for marriage equality, which affects ALL lesbians, gay men, bisexual people and transgender people.

Lest we forget, 'marriage', for millennia, has existed as a patriarchal institution upheld by the state and every major religion - the joining of one man and one woman.

We've achieved a lot in deconstructing that notion of marriage. Marriage equality (in law, at least) now exists in many countries, and still more are progressing towards it. But we've only come this far because those who are excluded from the patriarchal version of marriage came together to fight for a common cause; we are a much more powerful force united than if we fight alone.

That doesn't mean we can do away with the labels that make up the constituent parts of the LGBT+ community. In the fight for equal marriage, we had a common goal. Meanwhile, transgender children are being denied the right to be identified by the correct gender; asexual people are being sent to therapy; bisexual people aren't even a real thing...

We need to use those labels wisely - to unify behind common causes, move together and reform our alliances as necessary. Be politically fluid. Getting rid of the labels doesn't take away oppression. It creates nameless victims and obscures the real cost because some can't or won't stand up to be counted.

So you don't want to wear a label? No problem. It's your prerogative. I still argue those labels only divide us if we allow them to be stuck on us rather than affixing them to ourselves. I nearly got thrown out of the hotel recently because I didn't have an ID badge - and I was a presenter at the conference. Fair enough. How would the hotel know I was meant to be there - friend not foe - without my ID - my label?

How will we know if you're on our side?

Thanks for reading (I welcome respectful discussion),
Deb

(p.s. it would be remiss of me not to mention that my bi books are available for half price this week, along with other bi books published by Beaten Track - you can find more details on beatentrackpublishing.com/bivisibility

(LGBT+ Booted Bi graphic © Debbie McGowan. Permission granted for reuse under Creative Commons Share-Alike licence - no attribution required)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - Tabula Rasa (Kenny's Wheels) #amwriting #lgbtqia #biweek



WIPpet numbers for 20th September, 2017:

(20 + 9) / 17 = 2 (rounded to whole numbers, yeah, yeah, I know…) paragraphs
from Tabula Rasa


It’s #BiWeek! Awesomely, Will is bisexual, so no need for a change of story to snip from, which is one cool thing. Another cool thing is that my books with bi main characters (including The WAG and The Scoundrel) are half price this week. For this and other bi books, and a giveaway, visit beatentrackpublishing.com/bivisibility.

So, here’s another snippet from Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2).

WIPpet Context:
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 last week’s (last two lines included for setup).

The snippet is from Gray’s point of view: he’s on his way to Will’s house, via the woods, when he meets up with Will and his dogs. For context, Gray’s fear stems from this being his first relationship since his husband’s death four years ago.

* * * * *
Gray glanced sideways at Will’s delighted grin. “What?”

“It’s still a nice surprise. I like this.”

“Me, too,” Gray admitted, to himself as much as to Will. He sighed, contented. No, more than that. Happy. Hand in hand in the woods with this unconventional man and the company of his motley canine crew, it was easy to let go. Their relationship was still new, the bond still flexible enough for Gray to walk away, not that he intended to. The strengthening emotional connection between them delivered blissful moments that Gray had to consciously grasp to avoid poisoning them by association. He could fall in love with Will if he let himself. He thought he probably wanted to, but it was hard to push aside his fear.

Perhaps he should follow Kenny’s example. Run over and paralysed, wheel-dependent…and utterly fearless; the big mixed-breed dog romped ahead of the rest of the pack, weaving at speed between trees, tongue lolling in joy. He paused to sniff at a tree trunk and manouevred closer, in his mind cocking his leg and making his mark before he went bounding off again.
* * * * *
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: http://www.inlinkz.com/wpview.php?id=355404


Thanks for reading
Deb x

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Land of Confusion #biweek #bivisibility


"I've got no problem with people being gay, or lesbian."
"No, of course not."
"But bisexual? It's just greedy, isn't it? They want to have everything. They should choose and be done with it."

And I cannot turn a single one of the hundreds of thoughts and questions swirling around my head into an utterance...

Are you talking about open relationships?
Do you mean cheating?
Bisexual people can be monogamous too.
Or
Are you saying
you choose to be
attracted only to one gender?
Are you saying
you ignore
any other feelings you have?
Do you choose whom to love?
Whom not to love?
Or do you fall like the rest of us,
and land where you land,
unexpectedly delighted when your affections are returned
or mooning for weeks while to your crush non-existent?
But,
you know,
if you had to 'make a choice',
if you had to deny your feelings
then maybe you're the one who's confused?

Instead, I'm almost grinding my teeth, damned if I say those two little words -

(Well, actually), I'm bisexual.

to endure what surely will follow:

Have you had a girlfriend?
Are you sure?
Threesome?
She's doing it for attention.
(when I'm really, really not)

- and damned if I don't.



Monday, September 18, 2017

#BiWeek - Bi Characters in my Books


It's Bisexual Awareness Week, so what better time to give you all a bit more info on the bisexual characters in my books?

Before I go any further, I'll warn you this is an obscenely long post. At the end, I've listed the books that can be bought this week at discount price (50% – two of them are free) as part of Beaten Track Publishing's #biweek celebration.

On we go...

In case clarification is needed, the definition of 'bisexual' at work here is this:

an identity marker that refers to the capacity to be attracted to people of more than one gender. It doesn't require someone to have had relationships with more than one gender, and if someone identifies as bisexual, it is not up for question or discussion.

On a day-to-day basis, this causes lots of difficulties for bisexual people because their current relationship status is used as snapshot evidence to argue that they're really gay (if it's a same-gender relationship) or really straight (in an other-gender relationship).

They're really bisexual, and the greatest form of awareness we can show is to simply accept that fact when it is given to us. We are far less likely question a person's gayness or straightness, but in all cases, we don't have that right. It's none of our business.

Bi Characters in my Books
All of this means that bisexual people are a very diverse bunch, and there is absolutely no way to perfectly represent bisexuality in fiction.

What I try to do in my writing is reflect as much of that diversity as I can. This is very different from, for instance, the portrayal of bisexual men in M/M romance, who – by the nature of the genre and a fairly hefty dose of misogyny that makes 'girls' bits' an absolute no-no – end up in a (usually exclusive) sexual relationship with another man (or men if it's M/M/M).

My bisexual characters are, so far, all cisgender, but some are women, and some are men. Some are in same-gender relationships; some are in other-gender relationships; some experience both of those within a series (or even within a novel). All bi characters experience varying degrees of intimate (not necessarily romantic or sexual) attraction to other characters.

Hiding Behind The Couch series
Within 'The Circle' – these are the nine(ish) characters who are present throughout the series and appear in all of the 'seasons' but not necessarily in the character specials (novellas and novels).

Andy Jeffries (pan rather than bi)
This is a fun one to start with, by which I mean really complicated to explain without spoilers. But I'm working in alphabetical order, so Andy goes first.

Andy is mainly attracted to women – first Jess and later Shaunna, with a few others along the way. However, he is open about his attraction (and more) to non-females, and the ascription of 'straight' is not his own. He doesn't dispute it, but he does make very clear that he is open to all possibilities – not just in relation to his interpersonal relationships, but to life in general. He's mostly an adventure sports nut who never quite left behind his grungy youth, with a serious soft spot for a certain redhead.

Kris Johansson
Kris is out as bi from the beginning of the series, or at least from the point in the series where he realises his sexuality. He's an actor, which puts him in the spotlight and leads to activism on a large scale, but he is consistently outspoken against bi erasure from the moment he identifies as bi.

One of the first (and enduring) battles he has is with George, who was his first boyfriend. George is gay, and a genuinely nice guy, but he does hold some of the common misconceptions about bisexuality (i.e. that Kris is 'trying to blend in', that he was really 'always gay' but confused). Kris also has to deal with this with Shaunna (his future wife):

Shaunna started off with the usual ribbing about turning Kris straight, and wondered how they had arrived at this situation, not that she was regretting it. Kris confessed he was still attracted to men, probably bisexual, but hadn’t wanted anyone else since they first got together, whenever that had been.

From Hiding Behind The Couch (Season One)

In short, Kris is monogamous and still bisexual, regardless of the gender of his partner.

The other challenge Kris faces is that, as a child, he was sexually abused by his great uncle, and this affects his relationships (with friends, family and intimate partners) as an adult.

This is also quite a challenge for me as an author. There's an out-of-date, incorrect (but still rears its ugly head) argument that anything non-heterosexual/non-sexual is a consequence of childhood abuse (or other trauma). This is what happens when the relationship between two factors (in this case being LBGT+ and being abused) is misinterpreted as cause and effect. It may well be cause and effect, but if it is, it works in the opposite direction – LGBT+ people are abused because of their sexuality.

The challenge for me, therefore, is to write Kris's history whilst tackling these assumptions and all the bi erasure and biphobia that goes with them without getting preachy, made all the more difficult by the fact that Kris is...preachy.

Crying in the Rain is a novel that focuses entirely on Kris (and Ade).
Red Hot Christmas is a novella that focuses on Shaunna and the men in her life, including Kris.

Other Central Characters (not in The Circle)
Charlie Davenport
Charlie – or Charlotte – appears in the prequel (Beginnings) as a baby and then doesn't make another appearance until season three (The Harder They Fall). She's Eleanor's younger sister, a (soccer) football coach and former player for the women's national team. That's partly why she's not around for a long time; the other reason is her mother, who is actually a lovely woman, but kids, you know...

Charlie gets quite a bit of on-page time in:
In The Stars Part I and Part II (Seasons Four and Five)
Two By Two (Season Six)
Those Jeffries Boys (Character Special)

I also have the start of a Charlie character special titled Not My Coach.

Saorla Tierney
Saorla briefly appears in the second prequel (Ruminations) and Season Seven (Reunions). She is also the main character of the novella To Be Sure, which releases later this year.

Saorla is Sean's mum, and she never uses the word 'bisexual' to describe herself, which has a great deal to do with her age (seventy), upbringing (Roman Catholic) and where she lives (Derry, The North of Ireland).

Inevitably, the rumours their dad spread had reached them, and Sean could still remember lying on his belly in front of Aunty Aileen’s TV when his brother had asked, “Are you one of them lesbians, Mum?” Finn had meant nothing by it, just a fourteen-year-old boy’s curiosity, and their mum’s answer had been honest and reflective of the time and culture. Because even nuns had to get their affection somewhere, didn’t they? She’d assumed then, and possibly still assumed now, that women, universally, had feelings for other women. Those friendships were distinct from the marriage of a man and a woman, or—latterly, because she hadn’t always supported marriage equality—two men or two women, but it wasn’t the same as what she and Aileen had.

From Reunions (Season Seven)

Taz
Taz is mentioned in Ruminations, but his only on-page time is in the short story Class-A (which runs concurrently with Ruminations). Pretty much anything I say here will be a spoiler, so I'll just say he's bi and gives in-the-closet Simon Henderson a lot to think about.

Will Richards
Will first appears in the novella Breaking Waves and the first chapter of Season Five (In The Stars Part II). He's a surfer some of the other guys meet at the beach. However, he is a major secondary character (Gray's love interest) in the Gray Fisher series (The WAG and The Scoundrel, 2016; Tabula Rasa, WIP).

Checking Him Out series
Jesse Thomas (The Making Of Us CHO#4)
Jesse first appears in book two (Taking Him On CHO#2). In terms of character genealogy, he's the best friend of Noah, who is Adam's younger brother.

So, what happened here was this: I wrote an M/M romance (Checking Him Out #1) about Sol and Adam, in which Noah and Matty make an appearance, and readers asked for more Noah and Matty.

So, I wrote another M/M romance (Taking Him On CHO#2) about Noah and Matty, in which Jesse and Leigh make an appearance, and readers asked for more Jesse and Leigh.

So, I wrote...a non M/M romance! Jesse's attraction to Leigh (who is intersex and queer) is how he becomes aware of his bisexuality, which sounds like a spoiler, but it's not. The Making Of Us isn't a coming-out story; Jesse isn't conflicted by his sexuality at all. He has (pun intended) bigger issues to deal with.

Stereotypes, man. But at times, I was as bad as the next person, I’d admit that. Like my assumption that Noah’s dad wouldn’t be any good at surfing, just because he was a big guy, when I knew firsthand the cruelty of those judgements. I didn’t choose to be this way.

I don’t know; maybe it was like being gay or queer, because nothing I did made any difference in the long term. Maybe dieting was conversion therapy for fatties and we needed to take a stand.

From The Making Of Us

Elise Brooks (may well get her own book at some point)
In a way, this is a supreme spoiler because nowhere in the Checking Him Out series is Elise identified as bi, and there's a very good reason for that. The series is written in first-person, and anything related to Elise is from Sol's point of view, which is flawed. Elise never comes out to Sol, and, being Sol, he assumes.

So there you have it. A little new light shed on book one. ;)

Seeds of Tyrone series (co-written with Raine O'Tierney)
Chancey Bo Clearwater (Where the Grass is Greener, SOT#2)
Chancey is a cowboy. A hot cowboy (I get to say this because we each focused on developing a character, and Chancey is Raine's work, so this ain't bragging). Chancey has a...delightful ex-wife. No, really, she's a peach! He also has a teenaged daughter who is just brilliant (again, I ain't bragging, well, about my co-author, but that's allowed).

And then there's his lil ole tussle with a certain Irishman...

Seamus Williams (Where the Grass is Greener SOT#2)
Seamus is the older brother of Patrick (Leaving Flowers, SOT#1) and briefly appears (a couple of chapters) in Leaving Flowers. When we join him in book two, he's been back in Ireland a good while, where he fled, trying to escape from a certain hot cowboy with a peachy ex-wife and teenaged daughter.

I'm sure you get the general idea.

Both Chancey and Seamus (along with Aidan and Patrick) also make an extended appearance in book three, along with...

Tom Donnan (Christmas Craic and Mistletoe, SOT#3)
Tom briefly appears in SOT#2 – he's the sexy guy with muscular thighs that gets young Michael hot under the collar whilst both are working on Seamus's crop-picking crew.

Christmas Craic and Mistletoe (story 2) is, I suppose, a coming-out story, although it's Michael's coming out that's important here. For Tom, it's more about self-discovery than the social act of telling others. Tom is 24, an intelligent guy who's wasted opportunities on being 'one of the lads'. Through a series pretty awful events, Tom finally does something about realising his potential.

Stand-Alone (ish) Stories
Chris (Champagne)
Chris is NOT a nice guy. Not in the least. Which has nothing to do with him being bisexual, but if I'd written Champagne (stage play or novel) after I went to university and learnt about the blaming of bisexuals for the spread of HIV to the heterosexual population (BS), I wouldn't have written Chris as bisexual. Even though nasty people come in all shapes and sizes, as an author, I have to be aware of and, ideally, avoid perpetuating negative stereotypes. So, I screwed up. It was my first novel. Live and learn.

Kieran O'Sullivan (Of The Bauble)
Kieran is an openly bi uni student tasked with collecting the Christmas decorations from the loft, whereby he makes an...interesting discovery that is shaped by his orientation. That's as much as I can say without spoiling the story. It's a Christmas novella, and it's free this week on Smashwords!

Jack Davies (And The Walls Came Tumbling Down)
Jack is one of those non-heroic types who get thrown into a situation that requires them to play the hero whilst making amends with the girl who (he perceived) stalked him in high school. This isn't a romance, and there is nothing in the story that overtly identifies Jack as bi (there are hints) because it's not relevant to the plot, and the only way I could add it in there would've been contrived, so...you'll have to take my word for it. ;)

Buy via Smashwords (discount is only on books with a bi MC)

The Making of Us - EW85Q
Of The Bauble (FREE) - UX98B
Class-A (FREE) - PJ59U
The WAG and The Scoundrel - HW55C
Christmas Craic and Mistletoe - EX77W
Where the Grass is Greener - PQ84Y
Crying in the Rain - YA69F

Full list of stories mentioned + genre

Rather than linking them all individually, here's my page on Beaten Track:
beatentrackpublishing.com/debbiemcgowan

I've included other stories in the series (in grey) so you have an idea of where the stories fit into the whole picture.

STAND-ALONE STORIES:
And The Walls Came Tumbling Down – Sci-fi/fantasy (new adult)
Champagne – LGBT historical fiction (1980s)
Of The Bauble – biromantic romance / fantasy (young adult)

SEEDS OF TYRONE:
Leaving Flowers (#1) – M/M romance (explicit)
Where the Grass is Greener (#2) – M/M romance (explicit)
Christmas Craic and Mistletoe (#3) – 2x M/M romance (intimate but not explicit)

CHECKING HIM OUT:
Checking Him Out (#1) – M/M romance (explicit)
Checking Him Out For The Holidays (novella) – M/M romance (explicit)
Hiding Out (novella) – Contemporary fiction
Taking Him On (#2) –  M/M romance (new adult – explicit)
Checking In (#3) – M/M romance (explicit)
The Making Of Us (#4) – Bi/intersex romance (new adult – intimate but not explicit)

HIDING BEHIND THE COUCH:
All stories are contemporary fiction/slice of life and cover the full array of relationships, romantic and otherwise.
Beginnings (Novella)
Ruminations (Novel)
Class-A (Short Story)
Hiding Behind The Couch (Season One)
No Time Like The Present (Season Two)
The Harder They Fall (Season Three)
Crying in the Rain (Novel)
First Christmas (Novella)
In The Stars Part I: Capricorn–Gemini (Season Four)
Breaking Waves (Novella)
In The Stars Part II: Cancer–Sagittarius (Season Five)
A Midnight Clear (Novella)
Red Hot Christmas (Novella)
Two By Two (Season Six)
Hiding Out (Novella – CHO Crossover)
Breakfast at Cordelia’s Aquarium (Short Story)
Chain of Secrets (Novella)
Those Jeffries Boys (Novel)
The WAG and The Scoundrel (Gray Fisher #1)
Reunions (Season Seven)
To Be Sure (Novella – expected 2017)
Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2 – expected 2017)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - Tabula Rasa (Leaves on the Track) #amwriting #lgbtqia



WIPpet numbers for 13th September, 2017:

13 (+1 shh) paragraphs
from Tabula Rasa


WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2).

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 is from a bit later in the story, because of spoilers and…I’m having issues, all of them minor (but enough for me to contemplate not posting today) and requiring little more than for me to stop faffing with the internet and write the bloody story! I get a serious case of CBA every time I hit a scene that requires any work beyond tapping the keyboard in the correct order, so…yeah. I’m on it. When I’m not on Facebook or Goodreads or Twitter or Amazon or…

The snippet is from Gray’s point of view: he’s walking from the train station, via the woods, to Will’s place.

* * * * *
“Ouch! What…” A sharp bang on the calves made Gray’s knees buckle and he tumbled forward, grabbing a tree trunk to steady himself. When he turned back to see what had hit him, he laughed in disbelief.

“Hello, mate!” Almost as if his thoughts had conjured him into being, there was Kenny. Hobbling a little, Gray greeted the big dog on wheels and glanced through the trees, spotting the rest of the pack heading their way, with Will, in his postman’s uniform and wellies, trailing behind, his focus on his phone.

Gray sent him a text message—nice togs!—stifling his laughter at Will’s confused frown, but as always, he caught on quickly, and looked up and smiled. Gray smiled back, blushing at the fluttery feeling Will’s presence evoked.

“You’re early,” Will said when they met at the midpoint.

“So are you,” Gray observed and fell into step at Will’s side.

“There was hardly anything to go out. What’s your excuse?”

“Do I need one?”

Will shrugged with overplayed nonchalance. “You created an expectation. I’m merely offering you the opportunity to fulfil it.”

“Oh, you know how it is,” Gray played along. “No margin for error with the later train…”

“Leaves on the track?”

Gray’s laughter almost concealed the catch in his breath when Will’s hand found his, interlocking their fingers. “Leaves, twigs…entire trees in places…”

“Same every March.”

“Terrible service,” Gray agreed. He glanced sideways at Will’s delighted grin. “What?”

“It’s still a nice surprise. I like this.”
* * * * *
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: http://www.inlinkz.com/wpview.php?id=355404


Thanks for reading
Deb x

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dance Dance #flashfiction


I wrote the opening paragraphs as the start of a story for the Take a Chance anthology, but I didn’t get any further, and it’s been loitering on my computer since, so I thought I’d throw down a few more words (577 words in all) and share it.

That was the first time Robbie saw him. He remembered the smell of the dirty rain that pelted the streets and his stinging cheeks, the heavy grey sky draped over the world like an unwashed blanket, the wa-wa of the music and the beeps and the clicks, the spiralling zooming lights that seemed a million times brighter in the dead cold of the wet November afternoon. And he remembered him—the boy in torn tracksuit pants, too-big t-shirt and trainers with no laces that flipped and flopped until they were finally flung aside.

Robbie wasn’t allowed in the arcades. When he’d told his parents about the Saturday job in the fish and chip shop, it was the first thing they’d said. Not ‘well done’ or ‘good for you’.

Do not—we repeat—do NOT go in those arcades.

They didn’t understand why he wanted a job at all. He got a generous allowance—more than ‘pocket money’—and everything he asked for. New bikes, games consoles, computer, money for trips to the cinema, bowling alley…wherever, whatever, so long as there was a responsible adult present he could do as he liked.

And that was kind of the point. Robbie didn’t need money, plus the pay sucked. He’d get more in mint imperials (what were those, anyway?) for mowing his neighbour’s lawn than he earned for seven hours frying chips. All his friends had jobs, didn’t need a responsible adult with them every minute of every day. But his parents didn’t understand, didn’t listen. All they cared about was that he didn’t ‘get mixed up with the wrong people’—the gangs who hung out around the arcades, swigging from two-litre plastic bottles of cheap cider, the boy in torn tracksuit pants…

He wanted his freedom, independence. He wanted the arcades, the music, the flaring neon and the darkness beyond.

He wanted to be near the boy in the torn tracksuit pants. To watch him dance, dance…

He wanted it so much sometimes he could think of nothing else and his insides twisted and hopped and jumped great moves, perfect, combo continues…

He’d seen a poster once—if you love something, set it free—and his parents loved him. They said so, all the time. And if they loved him…they would understand…forgive…accept…

Still love me if I do this.

If I am this.

In the open doorway, he inhaled the hot, plasticky air, sent giddy by the prickles racing all over his skin and the lightning storms they created when they hit the cold wetness of his coat stuck to his back. Electrified forks filled his vision. He blinked hard, twice, and leaned forward, legs out, body in.

Not in, not out… we repeat, do not—

Dance
Dance…

Past rows of one-arm bandits and penny-drop machines, flashes of a psychedelic lighthouse and the flicker of fast-moving sockless feet. The feet of an expert. The feet of Jesus.

The feet of the boy in the torn tracksuit pants.

The track ended, and the boy chose another, pushed his hair back from his face, placed his feet—forward and left—and saw him. Looked right at him. No smile but a head tip that made the world tilt.

The empty platform at his side.

Come and dance.
I don’t know how.
I’ll show you.

Body in, legs in…we repeat, do—

Squelch shoes discarded, Robbie advanced, eyes on the screen.

One player
Two player 

Arrows rising. Stepping together.

Dance
Dance

Revelation…


Thanks for reading. :)
Deb x

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - Tabula Rasa (Rife) #amwriting #lgbtqia



WIPpet numbers for 6th September, 2017:

9-6=3 paragraphs
from Tabula Rasa


WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2).

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 the previous snippets and is from Chapter Two, which is from Gray’s perspective. Gray is on his way out to Rob’s leaving do.

* * * * *
Gray hadn’t set out to mislead Will, but somewhere along the line, he’d had a bit of a wobble and implied going to Rob’s leaving party was a chore he could do without—hence Will’s offer to go with him. It would’ve been a first for them—accompanying each other on a work night out—but that wasn’t why he’d put Will off. Plus-ones were rarely welcome at police socials, and even though this one was being held in a restaurant with a nightclub attached, the culture would be rife. Gray remembered it far too well—the all-consuming nature of the job that made it difficult to switch off.

Hopefully, tonight would be different because Rob had never been a typical copper. Work or play, no mixing the two unless he was under orders, and he was leaving because he’d had enough. He’d tried going back on the beat and a stint in CID, but he couldn’t settle in his old job. So, he’d resigned to set up a private investigation agency…and asked Gray to go in with him.

It sounded far more thrilling than it would no doubt prove to be, and that suited Gray just fine. Only thirty-five and he’d already had his lifetime’s worth of excitement. It wasn’t so long since he’d been out every night of the week, getting drunk, getting high…it hadn’t been fun. But he was past all that now and dealing with his problems like a functioning adult instead of an out-of-control lunatic with a death wish. If it were anyone other than Rob, Gray would’ve given tonight a miss in favour of lounging on his couch. Or Will’s, maybe, along with at least one dog. The image popped into his mind of Will flopped full length of the sofa at the bottom of a dog pile, pitta bread in one hand, hummus in the other. It was a surprisingly alluring vision.
* * * * *
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: http://www.inlinkz.com/wpview.php?id=355404


Thanks for reading
Deb x