Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Making of Us #RainbowSnippets #LGBT #TransAwarenessWeek


I haven’t posted to Rainbow Snippets in such a long time—busy life, in short—but I decided to join in today to celebrate Trans Awareness Week. I’ll be honest: there are very few trans characters in my stories, and for no good reason, but I’ve become aware of it over the past couple of years, and I’m working on changing that. :)

Anyway, here’s a snippet from The Making of Us featuring Jazz—one of the officers of (MC) Jesse’s university’s LGBT+ society.

* * * * *
Most of the members identified as gay or lesbian; there were a couple of trans students—Jazz being the only one I knew well, because we’d been at Weight Watchers together the previous year. I’d lost six kilos, and I was pretty sure I’d put them all back on again in a matter of weeks. Jazz had lost around twenty kilos and kept the weight off, and she looked amazing. Well, she’d looked amazing before, but now, she was more confident and less self-conscious, and she got to wear clothes that accentuated her curves. Tonight, she was wearing a floor-length dress—red or purple, I thought—with a low back and a fair bit of cleavage on display. With her heels, she wasn’t far off my height.
* * * * *

Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!).

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

* * * * *

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - More Goths, Gigs and NaNoWriMo #amwriting #lgbtqia



WIPpet numbers for 15th November, 2017:
15 lines of dialogue from Goth of Christmas Past


WIPpet Context:
I haven’t ditched Tabula Rasa, but I am taking a break from it to write for NaNoWriMo. Thus, I’m snipping from my very new (and rough) WIP Goth of Christmas Past, currently on target at 25,000 words.

The pictured cover is NOT the cover, which is finished, but I’m keeping it to myself for now. :)

I also have a draft blurb! :o
Black hair and band hoodies had a lot to answer for.

That day, eleven years ago, when Gothboy mooched into their business studies class for the very first time, Krissi had taken one look at him and thought, What a freak. He’s so cool!

Now in their mid-twenties, Krissi Johansson and Jay Meyer are successful businesspeople and still best friends. But while one of them is moving forward with their life, the other is sliding ever backwards…revisiting the past and wallowing in regret.
Worse still, it’s Christmas—happy joy joy everywhere! Yay. >.<

In this snippet, Jay has just informed Krissi that he’s organising a multi-band gig at his studio on Boxing Day (26th September). Stu and Hadyn both work at the studio.

* * * * *
[Krissi] “Are you sure you don’t want to ditch that idea to do, you know, Christmas?”

[Jay] “I don’t do, you know, Christmas.”

“What about Stu and Hadyn?”

“They don’t, either.”

“Did you ask them, Jay? Or did you just tell them they were working?”

“It’s not like it’s Christmas Day or anything, is it?”

“When are you going to set up?”

“Boxing Day.”

“You’re gonna set up the studio and sound check however many bands—well, about two, because, let’s face it, it’s Christmas—”

“Twelve,” Jay said.

“Oh, there’s a coincidence. Like the Twelve Days of Christmas!”

“We’ve been rehearsing a cover of that. It’s awesome.”

“Are you being intentionally ironic?”

“Why, yes, I am.” Jay tugged his hair back and twisted it into a tiny top knot. “Good look for me, no?”

Krissi sipped sharply at her coffee. It really was too early for this kind of test of her patience.
* * * * *
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, November 13, 2017

Character Spotlight: Andy Jeffries (Hiding Behind The Couch)


Another CV / character profile from the Hiding Behind The Couch series.

Profiles posted so far:

Hiding Behind The Couch is an ongoing series about a group of friends—‘The Circle’ (the original main characters in the series), which has expanded and changed over time to include the ‘extended circle’ (additional main characters, below the circle on the right).


Today, it’s time to meet Andy Jeffries, the middle brother, adventure sports nut, the wayward one (or he was…).

I can’t find any images (free, stock or otherwise) even vaguely similar to how Andy looks in my head, so the image above is my Daz 3D representation. It’s close enough for rock ’n’ roll.

Note: for readers who haven’t read as far as In The Stars / Red Hot Christmas, the spoilers start in Andy’s CV, and there are MAJOR spoilers in the later excerpts.

You can find both the writing and suggested reading order for the series on this page: deb248211.blogspot.co.uk/p/hiding-behind-couch.html

Andy Jeffries
Name: Andrew (Andy) Jeffries
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Brown-black, wavy, longish
Complexion: Olive
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: no idea
Build: athletic
Tattoos/Piercings: One ear pierced. No tatts yet
Education: Local technical college - BEng Civil Engineering
Accent: Northwest English
Languages: English

Quickfire Questions:
Place of Birth: Northwest England.
Siblings: Two brothers - Mike (older), Dan (younger).
Children: Krissi, Rosie and Sorsha.
Places lived: Northwest England.
Jobs: Far too many to recall - scouting overseas coms jobs for Dan, site supervisor in Dubai, director of Jeffries and Associates, stay-at-home dad.
Interests: Surfing, scuba-diving, snowboarding - pretty much will try anything.
Pets: None.
Greatest Success: Getting the girl.
Worst thing you've ever done to someone: The Party.
Biggest Trauma: None, really.
Do you have a secret: Nah.
Favourite Book: Haven't got one.
Favourite Food: Thai curry.
Favourite Drink: Beer.
Strength: Easy-going.
Weakness: Irresponsible.
Best way to spend a weekend: With my girls and their mum.
Closest Friends: Dan, Charlie.
Love of your life: My girls and their mum.

And here are some excerpts featuring Andy.

Beginnings

(Setting: Detention in first year of high school.)

Another hour wasted in another deserted classroom, while the upper-school team played against Holy Rosary just outside the window. They cheered again, and Andy instinctively turned to look.

“Mr. Jeffries. We’re not here to entertain you,” Mr. Long said loudly without looking up from his marking.

Andy sighed and went back to his maths. Boring, boring, boring. And his own fault. He was late—third late in three weeks equals detention with the headmaster, or, in fact, the deputy head, Mr. Schlong, as he’d heard some of Aitch’s mates call him. Andy had laughed along, but didn’t have the faintest clue why they called him that.

Sir coughed into his hand and adjusted his position in his teacher seat. Andy sighed again and completed question four of twenty. He was allowed to go when he’d finished them. That’s what Sir had said, but his mind kept drifting off, to the big lads in footy kits, distracted by the thwack of a well-placed boot and another round of cheers, slightly quieter than before. The opposition had scored.

“Come on, laddo, crack on with it,” Mr. Long chastised, a little more sympathetically this time. “The sooner it’s done…”

“I know, Sir. Sorry.”

Andy sat up straight and tore through another five questions before he started to daydream once more. He was never in this much trouble at primary school—a few playtimes and lunch breaks spent in the corridor outside Mrs. Patel’s office, mostly for fighting, and usually with Dan. Sometimes he didn’t even know why he was in trouble. Like Bonfire Night in first year of juniors, when he took sparklers to school. It wasn’t as if they lit them inside, or anything. They’d even waited until all the infants had gone in, just to make sure. And Mum was fuming.

***

Hiding Behind The Couch

(Setting: an airfield, with Dan.)

“Right, then.” Dan untied the snowboards. “You want excitement? I’ll give you excitement.”

Andy looked around him at the open space of the airfield. He wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Dan had hardly spoken to him in months and then he turns up at the house and tells him they’re going to do things together, the way brothers do. It made no sense.

“Why are we at an airfield with snowboards?”

“I saw this thing the other week. Skysurfing, it’s called.”

“Are you mad? Skysurfing needs special boards. And training. Jay does it.”

“They’re close enough, unless you want to buy the real deal. Oh, sorry, I forgot, you don’t have any money.”

“OK, that was low. But you’re scaring me for real now. What the hell’s going on?”

Dan didn’t reply. He handed Andy his board and set off in the direction of a small, distant building. Andy followed reluctantly. He’d promised Jess he wouldn’t do anything dangerous, and he’d only been parachuting twice, paragliding once. He was a fairly accomplished snowboarder, but this was way beyond anything he wanted to experience right now. He’d never seen Dan like this, and everything inside him was telling him to refuse, but somehow he couldn’t stop himself from going along with it.

***

The Harder The Fall

(Setting: Bhagwan’s pickup truck descending a mountain in Nepal. Dan is sick and asleep; Andy and Bhagwan—his friend from Kathmandu—are chatting about their families to pass the time.)

“We’ve not always been close,” Andy said. “I did something really stupid when I was young and Dan covered up for me. He’s always done that, you know? Taken the blame when it was my fault. I got him into so much trouble at school sometimes. I’d go off on some mad thing or other and he’d just follow, idiot.”

“Not idiot. He is the younger brother, yes? This is what we do.”

Andy laughed. “Yes, that is what younger brothers do. We’ve got another brother, too—three years older than me—but we never felt the need to always be getting in the way of whatever he was up to. Still don’t now, as a matter of fact.”

“You two are the same. He is different to you perhaps, your other brother?”

“Very much so. Me and Dan—we like the same music, football team, girls. Other than Adele. She is stunning, of course, but she’s always been off-limits. And their little girl. Honestly, Bhagwan, you wouldn’t believe how beautiful she is! She has the darkest brown eyes and she just sort of looks up at you, blinking those big eyes. She’s going to be a heartbreaker when she grows up, for sure. And she’s started to talk now, too. She shouts ‘Addy’ whenever I go round to see them. She’s just awesome. And she’s growing up so fast. When she was born, she was so tiny you could fit her on your hand. Amazing!”

“You want children?”

The question took Andy by surprise. Luckily, the darkness was hiding his face, because he hadn’t intended to gush like that about little Shaunna, but Bhagwan was right. He did finally feel ready to be a parent, although he and Jess didn’t have that sort of relationship, so it was unlikely they’d be experiencing the ‘patter of tiny feet’ anytime soon, if ever.

“Maybe one day,” he said cagily. “Tell me about your children. How old are they again?”

***

In The Stars Part II

(Setting: National Trust parkland; Andy has invited Shaunna on a picnic.)

“Here looks good,” Andy suggested, pointing to a grassy area under a sycamore tree. Shaunna spread the blanket out.

“You do realise it’s only ten o’clock?” she said.

“So?”

“So it’s very early to be out for a picnic.”

“Which means we’ve got a whole day to do it, if that’s what we decide.”

“OK.”

“To be honest, I thought you’d probably want to be home before Kris got back from work.”

“He’s won’t be back until at least six.”

“Awesome. That’s another eight hours of your wonderful, sober company.”

Shaunna laughed. “I bet you get bored by, oh, I give it till about eleven.”

“Hey! I resent that! Even I can last longer than an hour.”

“That wasn’t quite what I meant.”

“I know.” Andy put the picnic hamper down on the corner of the blanket and unbuckled the two straps. He flipped the lid open. “However, I must tell you that I have been known to stick at a single activity for several minutes at a time.” He took out two plastic tumblers, then a flask, which he duly opened, decanting the cloudy liquid into the tumblers. He handed one to her.

“Whole minutes, eh? I’m impressed. Cheers!” She banged her drink against his and took a sip. It was cold and sweet, with a sharp edge to it. “Mmm. That’s nice.”

“I made it myself. With real lemons.”

“Really? You’re full of surprises.”

“Also…” Andy delved in the hamper again and extracted a small, plastic box. He popped the lid, and she glanced inside. “I made these, too. Kind of.”

“Lemon curd tarts. Excellent. I love lemon curd tarts.”

“Yeah. I remembered that from way back, although I wasn’t sure you still did.”

“I still do,” Shaunna confirmed. She sat down and patted the blanket. He accepted her invitation but was careful to keep space between them, for he genuinely had no ulterior motive. Life was complicated enough at the moment without the added challenge of trying anything on. Besides, she’d said she didn’t want a relationship.

***

(Setting: Jess’s kitchen, with Shaunna.)

“Kris is upstairs,” she whispered, disbelieving.

“I know,” he whispered back. “That’s why I did it.”

She frowned and stepped back slightly. He moved with her.

“Just for the thrill?” she asked.

He sighed, humouring her, and kissed her again. “Because it’s safer.”

She understood now. However much they wanted it, they couldn’t go any further with Kris there.

“Bet you’d like that,” he said, a smile dancing on his lips. She stood on tiptoes and ran the tip of her tongue up the cleft in his chin, just as she had always wanted, and kissed him back.

“Would you?” she asked, a hint of a dare in the question. He didn’t answer. “Of course, you’re not really his type. You’re too…” Her hand trailed down over his firm pectoral muscles, traced his abs. She inhaled deeply and let go of the breath very slowly, put her head down, fighting herself and the desire within, pushing her towards complete abandon. F**k Kris. Just take me here and now. Her mind even fleetingly considered the fortuity of the towels and sheets being so close by, and she could feel him throbbing against her. He didn’t seem to care that his state of arousal was so obvious, almost as if he were showing off. Look what I have for you. She pushed against him and looked up again. He was smiling.

“Patience, my red hot baby.”

“I thought that was the Mustang.”

“Jealous?”

“Of a car? Get real!”

“Well, you know how she loves me to gently ease down her top and run my hands over her sexy curves. When she’s ready, I just slide right inside, get her started, and we take it nice and slow at first—don’t want to rush it when it’s that good, then we take it up a gear…”

Shaunna shook her head. “You sound like a complete sleazeball.”

***

Red Hot Christmas

(Setting: Andy’s living room.)

“I was wrong,” Kris admitted. “About everything.”

“That’s just it. You weren’t. You love Shaunna and Krissi, and I admire what you’ve done for them. I’m so bloody jealous of what you’ve got, and that’s not who I am. A jealous guy.”

“Why wouldn’t you be jealous? You love her, don’t you?”

“You’ve no idea.” Andy slapped his palms over his eyes. He could feel tears prickling, and there was no way he was going to cry. Not in front of Kris.

“Can I make you a drink or something?” Kris offered. Andy laughed behind his hands.

“No,” he said, dragging himself to his feet. “I’ll do it. Tea or coffee?”

“Coffee, thanks.”

Andy wandered off across the room. “Sit down,” he called back.

Kris perched at one end of the sofa, trying to keep at bay the noxious thought of how many times Shaunna and Andy had screwed on this very spot. It no longer made him angry, or not with them; with himself, for trying to keep them apart. Andy returned and collected the empty spirit bottles.

“You got hammered last night,” Kris stated.

“Yeah,” Andy confirmed. “Feeling it this morning.” He took the bottles away.

“Me and Dan had a few beers.”

“Did you?”

“Yeah.”

It was a shouted conversation across the expanse of the enormous lounge, but a conversation nonetheless.

***

(Setting: on a plane, somewhere above Manchester.)

“So,” Shaunna said as soon as the safety belt light went out. “Mile High Club?” She walked her fingers up the inside of Andy’s thigh. He slapped them still before they reached their destination.

“No way!”

She glanced around the almost empty cabin. “No-one’ll know.”

Andy shook his head. “D’you think they might have security cameras on planes these days?”

“I thought you liked the idea of getting caught in the act.”

“I don’t like the idea of starring in Caught On Camera!”

Shaunna giggled. “I can see it now,” she said. She braced her shoulders, stuck out her chest and said in a deep voice, “Adele? Come and look at this. Do those arse cheeks look familiar?”

Andy laughed. He reached over and kissed her. “Patience, my red hot baby. You’ll just have to wait till we get to the hotel.”

“Damn.” Shaunna sat back in her seat and leaned against Andy’s shoulder. “I can’t believe Kris did this for us.”

“I know. He’s awesome.”

“And still scary?”

“Nah.”

Shaunna leaned forward and examined the bulge in Andy’s jeans. She licked her lips and flashed him a seductive smile. “Then that must be for me.” She put her free hand on his knee, and he captured it immediately.

“Later!”

“Spoilsport.”

He turned and kissed her head. “It’ll be worth the wait, I promise.”

***

Two By Two

(Setting: Barbara and Len’s—Andy and Dan’s mum and her husband—kitchen table.)

“How’s the car?” Len asked Andy.

“Yeah,” Andy said, nodding and swallowing half a sandwich in order to answer. “She’s beautiful.”

“She?” Barbara queried. “How d’you decide that an enormous American car is a ‘she’?”

“She’s sexy, Mum. How could she not be a she?”

“It’s just a car, Andrew.”

“That’s a terrible thing to say. She’ll be hurt.”

Shaunna stuffed her sandwich in her mouth and chewed fast. Damn those giggles. She glanced up and caught Barbara’s eye. The older woman gave her the slightest of mischievous winks.

“And does she have a name?” Barbara asked.

“Err, not really,” Andy said. Dan snorted.

“Yeah, she does,” he said.

“No.” Andy glared at his brother. “She doesn’t.”

“Yeah,” Dan continued, “she’s a hot motor, for sure.”

Andy growled.

“Red and hot.” Dan nodded and smirked.

Shaunna tipped her head so that her hair blocked her view of everyone else. Barbara looked around the table at all the different facial expressions―Andy’s embarrassment, Shaunna’s giggling, Dan’s delighted amusement. Len carried on eating his sandwiches, oblivious to what he’d set in motion.

***

Those Jeffries Boys

(Setting: Andy is at home, talking to Dan via video-call.)

“Alright, bro? We’ve got a problem.”

Andy lifted Rosie’s bottom and slid the clean nappy underneath. “Can’t you start a convo with ‘how’s it hanging’ or something?”

“Alright, bro? How’s it hanging? We’ve got a problem.”

Andy gave up. “What this time? You need me to fly out to Tristan da Cunha?”

“Who?”

“Not who, what.”

“You lost me.”

“No surprises there.” Andy fastened Rosie’s nappy and put her in her bouncer so he could properly continue his conversation with Dan—once he’d stopped laughing at the view onscreen of his brother’s sweaty red face. “What are you doing?”

“Workout.” Dan grinned and hoisted Robbie a few inches up, and down, and up, and down again. “I’m at Mum’s.”

“I figured.” Andy could hear the whirr of a treadmill belt. “So, what’s up?”

***

(Setting: Campion Trust office, with Alice.)

Not a revelation, a reminder, that on the other side of the tempest he was sailing with his brothers, his daughters and their mother were awaiting his safe return. “My life is awesome,” he said. “I’ve never told you about Shaunna, have I?”

“Not in words.” Alice’s eyes twinkled mischievously. Andy felt himself blush, and Alice laughed. “Let me tell you…” She held up her forefinger. “I should make us some tea first.”

Before Andy could protest—not that he’d intended to—Alice trotted out of the office and across to the kitchen, from where, soon after, he heard the sounds of the kettle boiling and a teapot being prepared. He used the time to send Shaunna a text: How are my girls? x

Her reply—We’re good. What time ru home? x—came as Alice returned with a tray bearing a teapot, a milk jug and two cups and saucers. Andy typed a quick response: After tea with Alice. Love you. x

Alice set the tray down on the desk Jason shared with whichever trustee happened to be working on any given day. Andy’s phone buzzed in his hand. We love you too. x. He smiled and put his phone away, aware that Alice was watching him, or, rather, studying the air around his head. Once upon a time, he’d found it disconcerting, but he was well used to it by now. She was analysing his scent, and from it his state of mind.

“That’s much better.” She smiled and nodded her approval. “Now, where were we? Ah, yes.” She paused to adjust the tea cosy and resumed her seat at her desk but still facing Andy. “Are you going to sit down, dear?”

Obediently, Andy pulled out the chair next to the other desk and sat. “Should I pour the tea, Alice?”

“Not yet, dear.”

“OK.”

“Tea, like all good things, takes time to reach its potential.” Alice raised an eyebrow and tilted her head to indicate she meant him.

“A good thing.” He nodded with fake arrogance. “I can go with that.”

***

Thanks for reading!
Deb x

Thursday, November 09, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - Goths, Gigs and NaNoWriMo #amwriting #lgbtqia



WIPpet numbers for 8th November, 2017:
11+8=19 paragraphs from Goth of Christmas Past


WIPpet Context:
I haven’t ditched Tabula Rasa, but I am taking a break from it to write for NaNoWriMo. Thus, I’m snipping from my very new (and rough) WIP Goth of Christmas Past.

The pictured cover is NOT the cover, although I think I might recycle it for something else (which would require me to write something else ^_^). The wonderful, incredibly talented Emma Pickering (designer of the cover for Champagne) is currently working on the cover art. The main bit of it is done, but it still needs the background and…and I’m so excited! Like a kid at Christmas! :D Emma—you are a superstar. Thank you so much!

Onto the WIPpet: this is the beginning of the first scene of the Prologue/Chapter One (whatever it turns out to be). I’ve already had to rejig the characters once, so anything could happen!

Some readers might recognise these guys…

* * * * *
Bursts of strobe light, five flashes in time with the double bass pedal and speed-strumming of heavily distorted guitar. On the fifth set, Jay squeezed his eyes shut and jerked his head to the side. Too bright, too loud, it pulsed through his body like palpitations—he had to clamp his teeth tight together to stop them vibrating. The pit was alive, a mass surging as one to the chant.

Obey
Your—


With panic mounting, he was lifted off his feet, the space he’d occupied immediately filled by the mindless mob. No air in his lungs, he couldn’t breathe. Shit, I’m gonna be crushed to death.

Obey
Your—


With eyes still shut and arms tight to his chest—a shield against the rough buffetting of hot bodies—he was hoisted above the carnage, terrified, frustrated, but relieved. The light dimmed, the volume dropped, and a welcome whoosh of chilly air whipped over his bare arms and up the sleeves of his t-shirt.

When finally his feet touched down again, he opened his eyes and shrugged angrily. “What the hell, Hadyn?”

“I thought you were having a fit!”

“I wasn’t.”

“You had your eyes shut, and the lights—”

“Not photosensitive.”

“You went all stiff.”

“Yeah, well, you know…” Jay’s anger diminished as the explanation registered. He waved his arm towards the fire exit through which, he assumed, they’d just left the gig. “People?”

“Oh.” Hadyn sagged in remorse. “Sorry. I didn’t… I just…I just got you out of there.”

“No way you carried me out here on your own.” Jay was slim, not that tall, probably underweight. OK. Definitely underweight because he forgot to eat, which was weird when Hadyn never seemed to stop. However, they were the same build.

“No,” Hadyn confirmed. “Some big guy in front of us.” His eyelids drooped, along with the corners of his mouth, and he fidgeted with his hands. “Jay…I’m sorry, man.”

“Don’t worry about it. Hey, thanks for looking out for me.”

A sheepish smile appeared in the midst of Hadyn’s mosh-tousled hair. He straightened up and looked towards the building—an old warehouse converted into a performance venue that got some big names, although it was Jay and Hadyn’s first time. “What if they won’t let us back in?”
* * * * *
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, November 06, 2017

Character Spotlight: Shaunna Hennessy (Hiding Behind The Couch)


Another CV / character profile from the Hiding Behind The Couch series.

Profiles posted so far:

Hiding Behind The Couch is an ongoing series about a group of friends—‘The Circle’ (the original main characters in the series), which has expanded and changed over time to include the ‘extended circle’ (additional main characters, below the circle on the right).


Today, we’re stopping off for a cup of tea and a gossip with Shaunna. If there is such a thing as someone who is in charge of The Circle, it’s definitely Shaunna.

I should also add credit for the images at this point. Those which aren’t from book covers are from Pixabay, and this one is a good likeness for what Shaunna looks like in my head (or how she’d have looked in her late-twenties, at least).

You can find both the writing and suggested reading order for the series on this page: deb248211.blogspot.co.uk/p/hiding-behind-couch.html

Shaunna Hennessy
Name: Shaunna Hennessy (aka Shaunna Johansson)
Eyes: Green
Hair: Red, curly/wavy, long
Complexion: Freckly and pale
Height: 5’ 6"
Weight: next question
Build: voluptuous
Tattoos/Piercings: Both ears x 1
Education: Local technical college day release - Hairdressing Level 4
Accent: Northwest English.
Languages: English

Quickfire Questions:
Place of Birth: Northwest England
Siblings: None
Children: Krissi, Rosie and Sorsha
Places lived: Northwest England.
Jobs: Mum, Housewife, salon assistant, stylist
Interests: Homemaking, TV, studying (a little), sex. ;)
Pets: None…at the moment.
Greatest Success: Krissi
Worst thing you've ever done to someone: Mocking Zak at school. In my defence, he stalked me.
Biggest Trauma: Losing my mum to cancer.
Do you have a secret: What you see is what you get!
Favourite Book: Something by Jackie Collins? I read magazines more than books.
Favourite Food: Any breakfast I don't have to cook.
Favourite Drink: Red wine, tea.
Strength: Mentally strong.
Weakness: Lazy.
Best way to spend a weekend: Chilling with friends.
Closest Friends: Adele, Sean, Josh.
Love of your life: My daughters.

And here are some excerpts featuring Shaunna.

Chain of Secrets

(Setting: with Josh in the playground on the last day of primary school, aged 10.)

“I like your pencil,” Josh said, holding the page close to his face so he could study the way the colours intertwined through each letter.

“Thanks!” Shaunna said. “Your turn.”

Securing his diary between his thighs, he took Shaunna’s autograph book, and flicked through to the first blank page; it was almost at the end of the book.

“You have a lot of friends,” he said.

“I have a lot of autographs, but I only have two real friends.”

Josh wrote, To Shaunna—

“Do you want to know who they are?”

“Hold on a minute. I’m thinking what to write.”

“OK.” Shaunna stood quietly and watched.
To Shaunna,

Thank you for being kind to me after my dad died. You—
“Can I tell you yet?” She bounced up and down on the spot.

“Do you need the toilet?”

“No. I just want to tell you who my two friends are. It’s good.” She nodded to emphasise how good it was.

Josh narrowed his eyes and made a prediction in his head before he asked the question. “Who are your two friends?”

“Adele, which you know, because we always sit together and stuff. And the other one is you.”

“Me?” He blinked in surprise. He’d thought she was going to say Adele and one of the other girls in their class.

“Yes, you,” she confirmed.

“But…” He frowned. “Why?”

“Because you were kind to me when my grandma died, and you read stories to me, even though I got fed up and kept asking you questions. And I know George is your best friend, and I’m not jealous. That’s good he’s your best friend, like Adele is my best friend. Sometimes she can be really annoying, though. You’re not annoying. When the others say you’re a snob, I say, ‘No he’s not. He’s shy.’ Because you are shy, aren’t you?”

“Erm, yes, but—”

“I knew it. You should try football, you know. It’s fun. And George plays it.” She pointed across the playground, to where George and the rest of the fourth-year boys were enjoying their last game of football in primary school. She turned back to Josh. “Have you finished yet?”

He shook his head and returned to his writing.

***

Beginnings

(Setting: Adele’s bedroom; her parents are arguing downstairs.)

Adele skipped across the room to her tiny, pink dressing table, and looked at the postcard from Shaunna. She was on holiday for all of the summer, at her aunty’s farm in Ireland.
To Adele,

I am having a good time.

I miss you.

There are horses and we are going to ride on them tomorrow my Aunty Pammy said.

I have a new cousin and he is three weeks old.

Don’t forget my birthday present.

Mum says we can go to the fair when we get back.

Love and kisses,

Shaunna xxx
***

NOTE: From here on, there are spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read up to whichever instalment the excerpt is taken from.

No Time Like The Present

(Setting: Shaunna and Kris’s kitchen.)

Shaunna’s feelings were swinging from hating Kris and wanting him to suffer, to wanting him to be happy, even if it cost her the house she had worked so hard to turn into a home. With each cycle around these thoughts, the tears would start again, and then she’d pull herself back together. It had to end somewhere.

When she arrived home, she found him sitting in the kitchen, poring over the local paper, looking for accommodation to rent. He had already made her a cup of tea, and there was a meal waiting in the oven, but she wasn’t hungry. She sat in the chair opposite and unbuttoned her coat.

“How’s Dad?” Kris asked, circling another ad.

“He’s smashing. He’s been to a Christmas dance this afternoon and had way too many sherries, but you know what he’s like. That Florence, or whatever her name is, she’s a dreadful flirt. I didn’t know where to put my face. So what’ve you been up to?” It was a stupid question.

“I had no idea how expensive houses are. Flats aren’t much better, so now I’m going through the bedsit section.”

“Bedsits? Kris! You can’t live in a bedsit.”

“Why not?”

“I won’t let you, for one.”

“I don’t have much choice, really, do I?”

“You do. I want you to stay.”

Kris glanced up from the paper, briefly, and carried on. “Don’t be silly. You know that’s not going to work.”

“Not like it is now, no. But I was thinking.”

Kris exchanged the pencil for his tea and sat back so Shaunna could see she had his attention.

“All right. I wasn’t thinking. It just came to me then, when I saw you circling that bedsit. Do you even know what Drummond Street is like? One of the customers lives down there and the stories she tells! You can’t possibly live there, especially with—Jack.”

“I won’t be living anywhere with Jack. He’s staying with his wife.”

Shaunna instinctively reached out and took his hand.

“It’s fine,” he said. “Really. I don’t love him. I have never loved anyone but you, but I can’t be who I’ve tried to be any longer.”

“Which is exactly my point. We’ve got two bedrooms, haven’t we?”

“Yes.”

“So we can still share the house and be friends. I know that sounds gooey, but I think we could actually make it work. On a selfish note, I can’t afford to live here on my own, and I can’t bear the thought of moving out.”

“No. Neither can I. Do you really think we can do it? What about if we start dating other people?”

“We can cross that bridge later. What do you say? Do we have a deal?”

Kris thought for a moment and closed the newspaper.

“We have a deal.”

***

In The Stars Part II

(Setting: a pub, with Andy.)

They reached the pub and broke apart to order drinks and find a quiet place to sit, right next to each other, not even tissue-paper space between them. Andy laced his fingers through hers and rubbed her thumb with his.

“So, what, then?” she asked.

“What then what?”

“You said that’s one way of putting it. Does Jess know?”

“I haven’t told her, if that’s what you mean.”

“But she knows how you feel?”

“About you?”

“Yeah.” Shaunna shifted slightly so she could look at him. “Is this a good idea? Our lives are so complicated already.”

“Are you saying you don’t want to?”

“No, not at all. I want to.” Now she blushed. “I really want to, but—damn, this is so much harder when we’re sober.”

Andy laughed. “You can say that again.” He picked up his drink, intermittently sipping and taking slow, deep breaths, each slightly less shaky than the last, as he fought and won over the urge to suggest they went somewhere more private, knowing that they’d likely get no further than the back seat of the Mustang.

“We’ll get busted in that car,” she said, as if she had read his mind exactly.

“Sorry?”

“The pap. They’re still tailing Kris, and if they see his ‘secret wife’ getting into a Mustang with a sexy hunk, they’ll bust us before we even get up to any shenanigans. I’m surprised we’re not in Heat magazine already.”

“A sexy hunk, huh?”

“Don’t fish.” She returned to her original position and leaned her head on his shoulder. “So we’ll have to be careful.”

Andy shook his head and laughed quietly. “I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”

“Why?”

“Planning an affair. It’s a bit—”

“Mad?”

“And dangerous.”

“OK. What are the options?”

“We don’t do it.”

“Can you handle that?”

“If I never, ever, ever see you again.”

“So that’s out of the question. And if we don’t plan it, you know what’ll happen, don’t you?”

“I’m having quite a lot of fun imagining, actually.” Andy grinned.

***

Red Hot Christmas

(Setting: Hayley’s Hair Salon, where Shaunna works. She’s been counselling a bride through her pre-wedding jitters.)

They both stopped in the doorway between the stockroom and the salon, watching Andy flip Shu the right way up and return her to the floor.

“Go on, trouble.” Andy watched her toddle back to her ‘client’ and then lifted his eyes to meet Shaunna’s gaze. “I hear you’ve been having a problem with one of the dryers,” he said, a smile teasing his lips.

“Yeah,” Shaunna confirmed breathlessly. The bride was still standing next to her and grabbed her arm.

Andy took off his hard hat and shook his hair loose. “I guess I won’t be needing that.” He placed the hat on a shelf and slowly unzipped his jacket.

“Oh. My. God!” the bride whispered loudly into Shaunna’s ear. They both started giggling.

“Erm…” Adele said loudly, “Shaunna?”

“Yeah?” Shaunna answered without taking her eyes off the sexy vision before her.

“Do I need to blindfold my daughter?”

“No, hun.”

“OK. Just thought I’d check.”

Andy turned and gave Adele a cheeky wink. She started giggling, too, and blushed bright pink.

“It’s that dryer,” Shaunna said, pointing to her right somewhere. Andy nodded and whipped off his jacket, revealing a pair of heavy cargo pants, currently held up by braces, and a tight, white vest. Shaunna swallowed and tried to breathe slowly.

“That one?” Andy repeated.

Shaunna nodded, completely cut off from the activity going on around her, which consisted of eight women swooning, Shu singing to her ‘client’ and Hayley looking utterly delighted by the reception Andy was receiving. He moved away towards the dryers, all eyes on him, and Shaunna, incredibly, managed to snap herself out of it.

***

Two By Two

(Setting: Shaunna and Kris’s house, with Sean. Shaunna is moving out.)

Krissi left. Sean remained standing, car key in his hand, watching Shaunna fuss with straightening the tea towels, tipping the drainer on its side and pushing the chairs neatly under the table. She glanced up at him and he smiled. She closed her eyes, squeezing them tight to lock in the tears.

“I’m happy,” she said, “whatever it looks like.”

“I know, lovely.”

Shaunna opened her eyes again and Sean held out his arms. She went into them, burying her face in his shoulder.

“It’s just…” She sniffed but couldn’t go any further.

“It’s your home,” Sean finished. Shaunna nodded. “It’s a part of who you are.”

“Yes,” she sobbed. She withdrew and laughed tearily. Sean gave her a tissue. “Hormones,” she said, blowing her nose.

“If you’d rather believe that…”

“Yes, Doctor Tierney, because that’s what it is. It’s only a house when all’s said and done.” As quickly as she had fallen apart, she pulled herself together again and picked up the box on the floor.

***

(Setting: Milky’s Milk Bar, with Josh.)

Shaunna shuffled uncomfortably, and not because she was thirty-three weeks pregnant. “I need your opinion,” she said.

“On what?”

She chewed her lip for a moment, and then asked abruptly, “Do I look fat?”

Josh blinked, quite astounded. He’d anticipated something else entirely―advice on what module to study next, or maybe even what he thought of baby names. “You look pregnant with twins,” he said.

“Fat.”

“No. Your breasts are noticeably larger, your hips are certainly wider, and your belly is enormous, but the rest of you looks just the same as always.”

Shaunna nervously twirled a lock of hair around her fingers. Josh leaned forward. She lowered her eyelids to avoid his gaze, and sighed. “I just feel so unattractive right now. Fat and ugly.”

“Oh, hey.” He reached across the table and squeezed her hand. It wasn’t like Shaunna to be self-critical and it was clearly getting her down. “What’s brought this on?” he asked.

“Charlie wants me and Andy to do a naked photo shoot.”

***

Those Jeffries Boys

(Setting: Hayley’s Hair Salon, with Hayley and Mike.)

Hayley approached Mike and held out her hand. Nervously, he shook it and said, “Hi. I’m Mike Jeffries.”

“Yah, sweedie. Andy’s brother?”

“That’s right.” Mike’s eyes flitted from Hayley to Shaunna.

“You OK?” Shaunna asked.

He nodded unconvincingly. “Nice place,” he said, glancing around the salon walls. His eyes widened when they reached the full-size print of Shaunna and Andy. He cleared his throat and turned his attention back to Hayley. “What did you have in mind?”

“How about I make you a nice cup of tea, sweedie, and I’ll tell you about whad I want.” Hayley fluttered her eyelashes at him. “How d’you take it?”

“White, one sugar, cheers.”

“OK, then. Be right back.” Hayley tottered off to make another cup of tea. When she was out of sight, Mike looked to Shaunna in bewilderment.

“She’s harmless,” Shaunna whispered. “Just a flirt.”

Mike nodded, a sigh of relief escaping. He looked around him again, properly this time, rather than merely to avoid Hayley’s gaze. “That photo of you and our Andy is spectacular.” He walked over to get a closer look.

“Aw, thanks, Mike. Haven’t you seen it before?”

“Well, yeah, but it was Andy who showed me, and I felt a bit weird looking at the pair of you with no kit on while he was standing there.”

Shaunna laughed. “I see your point.”

***

Thanks for reading!
Deb x

Friday, November 03, 2017

Hiding Behind The Couch - 10th Anniversary (3rd November)


On this day, ten years ago, I started writing Hiding Behind The Couch. Season One.

Not that it was 'season one' at the time, or even 'book one'. It was my second novel and my first foray into National Novel Writing Month, and I wrote it for therapy. I've written about the reasons why previously, so I won't rehash those here, and while I often joke that I wrote my own therapist (or two), there's an element of truth to that.

FREE Nov 4-5 2017
http://mybook.to/HBTCBox01
I've recently started studying for a Master's degree in psychology, and in my initial one-to-one with my tutor, we were discussing my interests outside of education—specifically, writing and publishing. He mentioned 'bibliotherapy', which I'd never heard of before. Frankly, I'm appalled I hadn't, but still, I know what it is now.

Bibliotherapy, briefly, is the use of reading in counselling and psychotherapy. This can be in an instructional sense (for instance, delivering cognitive therapy through text rather than voice), but it can also be the exploration of real life experiences through their fictional representations. Of course, primary teachers have been doing this for as long as there have been primary pupils, and storytelling is prominent in the history of many cultures. But its use as a tool in modern psychotherapy is new to me.

That wasn't quite what I was doing when I set fingers to keyboard ten years ago, which is simply known as 'writing therapy' (go figure!) and is often used in conjunction with bibliotherapy. Nonetheless, the conversation with my tutor was like getting down to the last few pieces of a seemingly impossible jigsaw and finally starting to see the full picture.

Speaking of seemingly impossible jigsaws,
my mum bought me this monster.
Thanks, Mumsy [smiles sweetly].
I don't want to get too bogged down in 'psychologising', so I'll try to keep this short and to the point: I started writing novels around the time I became a social scientist, and I never could quite work out how those two aspects of me, and the way I see the world, came together.

I intentionally write about the hard stuff—illness (mental and physical), relationship breakup, breaches of trust, death and bereavement, prejudice, abuse etc.—but never for shock value. I truly believe fiction has the power to change hearts and minds, by allowing readers a glimpse at other ways of living, and the opportunity to question/reflect on their own beliefs/attitudes.

This is also the power of social science—and its magic. My favourite part of teaching the social sciences is the moment when a student 'gets it', and suddenly the world looks very different. It doesn't happen to every student, and it can be disorientating; it's a heightened awareness of the world around us—what C. Wright Mills termed 'the sociological imagination'.

That's where my writing resides—at the junction of reality and fiction—which makes for complex and intensive research, but it's important that it mirrors the real world—our world. That's the social value of realist, character-driven fiction, and I'll keep writing it for as long as there are readers who benefit from it in some way—enjoyment, entertainment, therapy, enlightenment, doorstop—I'm not fussy.

See? That was fairly short and to the point…for me. ;)

On which note…

Here's what ten years of Hiding Behind The Couch looks like:

Total word count: 1,857,346
Total stories: 21 (details here: http://hidingbehindthecouch.com/?n1=stories)
Seasons: 7
Novels: 7
Novellas: 6 (+1 expected soon)
Short Stories: 2
Longest: Two By Two (Season Six) at 246,519 words
Shortest: Class-A at 10,082 words
(well, Breakfast at Cordelia's Aquarium is only 2,841 words, but that doesn't really count).


I've changed a few covers (quite a few more than this)…




I've written (half of) a spinoff series…



I've made a few dodgy video trailers and put together a character song playlist (more info here: http://hidingbehindthecouch.com/?n1=extras#songs):



I've also forgotten a few things along the way. I wrote a blog post a couple of days after I started writing Hiding Behind The Couch, in which I claimed:
I have obtained a state of acceptance about what I write: it might be rubbish, but it's my rubbish. At times it stinks, so hold your nose and walk away. Me? I'm stuck with it and I must dispose of it somehow. That's what it's about, this writing thing. As Allen Ginsberg said, "It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public". My writing, wherever it may roam, is the private made public, what we really think, who we really are, behind the shirts, ties, uniforms, careful hairstyles and cosmetics.

http://deb248211.blogspot.co.uk/2007/11/nanowrimo-new-black.html
I was naïve back then—not about writing, but about how hard it is sometimes to not take negative reviews to heart. They carry far greater currency than positive reviews, and I wish I didn't care, but I do. As an educator, I'm expected to reflect on feedback and use it to improve my performance; as an author, I have to remember that sometimes the shield of being a distant consumer makes some readers/reviewers very, very mean.

What's next?

I still have no plans to close the curtains on the world of Hiding Behind The Couch. One day, maybe The Circle will tell me it's time to leave them be. It's not yet, though. :)

In the pipeline:
To Be Sure - a character special about Saorla Tierney (expected this month, part of the Never Too Late collection).
Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2) probably in 2018.
Alumni (HBTC #8).
Goth of Christmas Past - my NaNoWriMo 2017 novel - a seasonal special about Krissi, Jay et al.
Hiding Behind The Couch Box Set Two - I hope to have this ready by January.

In the meantime (in case you missed it above), Box Set One is free this weekend on Kindle.

To conclude this post, here are my therapists, getting on as well as ever. This is from Alumni, so it's unedited writing in progress.

Excerpt from Alumni (Season Eight - WIP)


Sean took his phone out and called the firm again as his neighbour drove away towards her shop, which was in the opposite direction to the university and hospital. They’d had the discussion before.

“It’s on its way,” the taxi firm claimed.

“From where? Birmingham?” Sean did his best to sound jovial, though he wasn’t feeling it.

Quarter to nine…

“Come on, Tierney.” Josh clicked his key fob, remotely unlocking his car, and got in before there was any argument, although Sean could see a taxi—potentially theirs—in the distance, and getting Dylan’s car seat into the back of Josh’s car was a pain in the neck. Deciding it was safer to risk upsetting the taxi firm, Sean secured Dylan, pushed the front seat back into position and climbed in beside Josh.

“Thanks very much.”

“No problem. I need to see personnel anyway.” Josh signalled and pulled away from the kerb.

Sean looked him over. “You’re not dressed for a meeting.”

“I’m hoping they’ll get the message once and for all.”

“They might at that.” Josh was wearing what passed for scruffs for him: a light-blue and white rugby shirt—with iron-creased sleeves—and washed-out jeans. A self-conscious smile flickered across his lips when he sensed Sean’s continued perusal of his attire.

“I’m going straight to the surgery,” he explained.

“Ah, right.” Sean was about to say he’d go there after he was done with clinic, but his thoughts skimmed over ‘more faffing with taxis’ straight to a decision made with no need to think. “I’m going to get a car.”

“Good idea,” Josh said. “No offence—”

Sean laughed. “Liar.”

* * * * *

Thanks, as always, for reading. :)
Deb x

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - Tabula Rasa (Curry Chicken) #amwriting #lgbtqia



WIPpet numbers for 1st November, 2017:
11 paragraphs from Tabula Rasa


WIPpet Context:
Another snippet from Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2). I'm into the final quarter of the novel, and I’m still not entirely convinced I’ve nailed the ‘crime’ element. Hey-ho.

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 WIPpet snippet is from a bit further into the novel, which is a bit of a shambles at present. In this scene, Rob is having dinner with his mum and Harvey—his mum’s partner.

* * * * *
Rob watched on, hawk-like, vaguely aware of his phone vibrating in his pocket and with no intention of answering. Right at that moment, all he cared about was his mum’s curry chicken.

“Most of the seedlings are in now,” Harvey said. He carefully scooped with the ladle, waiting for it to stop dripping before moving it to Rob’s mum’s plate. “If the weather holds, I’ll get the rest out tomorrow.”

“Did you remember the canes for the sweet peas?”

Rob followed the empty ladle’s progress back to the bowl.

“I’ll do those tomorrow.”

Down it went, scoop, up…

“You forgot, you mean?”

“I wanted to get everything into the ground first.”

A piece of chicken tumbled over the edge and landed with a splat. Harvey frowned at it.

“Come on, I’m starving here, man,” Rob complained, to which Harvey chuckled and dragged it out a little bit longer.

At last, a mound of hot, spicy chicken and chick peas landed dead centre of Rob’s plate; he had to sit on his hands to stop himself from digging straight in. He was virtually drowning on his own saliva, but Harvey didn’t have any food on his plate yet. Fond as Rob was of the guy, if he didn’t get a move 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

When authors interview each other: A.M. Leibowitz, Debbie McGowan, Emily Alter


We - A.M. Leibowitz, Emily Alter and me (Debbie McGowan) - got together and interviewed each other today.

Here's the result!

~ QUESTION 1 ~

Amy
Okay, so how's the weather?

Emily
Cold. I’m freezing and I don’t like it.

Amy
Cold and gloomy here.

Debbie
It's a typical mid-autumn day - sunny, not quite warm enough to go out without a cardy.

Amy
Sun would be nice! It's supposed to warm up a few degrees later...and then rain. Blah.

~ QUESTION 2 ~

Debbie
OK. So, can I ask 'where in the world are you?'

Amy
Gah! Now I have the Carmen Sandiego theme song stuck in my head.
I'm in western NY. I usually say I'm near Buffalo because people have heard of that city but not mine. I'm really in Rochester.

Debbie
gone to look up Carmen Sandiego theme
That's so great!

Emily
Spain, a city (cough cough town) in the north (you know, the part of Spain which is always completely ignored).

Debbie
The top comment on the Carmen Sandiego YT clip: "If she and Waldo ever had a child, that kid would be virtually impossible to find."
Spain has a north? 😉

Amy
ROFL! There is a meme of that. https://imgur.com/gallery/bpJoR5Z



Debbie
It's a bit like that here [the bit of the country that's completely ignored] - or it would be if I wasn't so close to Liverpool. England is: London and Liverpool and some green bits in between.

Amy
LOLOL...I told someone I was going to England, and they were like, "Oh, London?" Uh...no, and even I know that's not the only place there!

Emily
😂

Amy
New York is basically "Oh, what part of the city are you from?"

Debbie
LOL.
Well, it is a big city... 😉

Amy
It IS most of our population.
(But they get their wine from us.)

Emily
Good to know 😂

~ QUESTION 3 ~

Emily
I guess it is my turn, so... What are you currently reading? (Or what’s the latest book you’ve read?)

Amy
Just finished County Vices by A.M. McKnight. Lesbian crime/suspense, but more literary than action. Really, really good.

Emily
Nice

Debbie
Who Loves You by Emily Alter. 🙂 Very much enjoying it so far!
Pieces by G. Benson (Bi YA romance? fiction with a female MC)

Emily
I’m reading (finishing, to be honest) Up for the Challenge by Devon McCormack and Riley Hart. MC1 nicknamed MC2 Straighty and so now I’m in love.

Amy
Wait...wait...bi YA with a female MC????? OooOh.
"Straighty"??? LOL

Emily
Yep. They’re the cutest.

Amy
I think I'm missing something? Why is he nicknamed that?

Debbie
I've only just started Pieces - will let you know how it goes! So far, she has a BF but is quite enthralled by a girl in her school.

Amy
Niiiiice. 🙂

Emily
Okay, so both of them are bi, but one of them (Straighty) wasn’t really out -he did stuff in college but sort of didn’t connect the dots?-. Anyway, they meet in a gay bar and at first he says he’s straight (hence the nickname). But it’s not GFY or anything like that. He’s attracted to Sean and he doesn’t question it.

Amy
Ah, got it. That makes sense. And two bi guys? Fab!


~ QUESTION 4 ~

Amy
So, what's everyone writing these days?

Debbie
[insert manic laughter here]

Amy
ROFL!

Debbie
OK, so I'm writing on Tabula Rasa - and resisting the urge to drag it into the trash. It's...a book? LOL. I dunno what it is, tbh. LGBTQIA contemporary fiction with white-collar crime and romance?
And today, I...started a NaNoWriMo novel. 😮

Amy
Brave! I'm not NaNo'ing this year, even though I have 2 WIPs I could work on.

Debbie
Not sure about brave... 😀 I've got Alumni (HBTC #8) on an almost-impossible-to-ignore backburner, and I also had a (potentially) genius idea this morning about getting a couple of characters to, um, move house.

Emily
I’m finishing to edit Top of the World before I send it to proofreaders/betas (or just someone? I don’t know). It’s a contemporary romance with a Broadway actor, a political journalist, a dog and a baby and I don’t know.
And WIP is about two Psychology juniors (one of them is pan ✨) and one of them has generalized anxiety disorder so yeah. That’s gonna be fun.

Debbie
They both sound fab!

Amy
Those both sound good!

Emily
flustered Thanks

Amy
I'm supposed to be finishing edits on Drumbeat, which is third in my Boston series.
WIP #1 is the fourth in that series. WIP #2 is Tree of Life, which is a...sad road trip with a happy ending? Sort of. And it's based on a specific religious myth, but I don't want to spoil it. There's photography, unusual traveling companions, and general queerness throughout.

Debbie
I'm very excited to read both of those. I never thought I'd say that about Mack from NfB [Notes from Boston - Amy's series]...he's definitely grown on me.

Amy
Ha! Mack is actually pretty cool, but it's Amelia I love writing. And Jomari is very sweet. Mack's about to meet him.

Debbie
Is Jomari the one who worked in Andre's office? I'm terrible with names.

Amy
No, he's Cian's fiddler.

Debbie
Ah, yeah. 🙂

Amy
But ugh, his name is very similar to hers. 😛

Debbie
Also terrible with genders... 😀

Amy
Hahaha! She wasn't in it much. I don't think she's been back since.


~ QUESTION 5 ~

Debbie
What's your favourite kind of scene to write?

Amy
That's easy: I love writing families interacting. There's usually a lot going on under the surface, and you can learn a lot about a character by how they relate to family.

Emily
See, at first it was angst, but now I’m all about the fluff and cute sickeningly romantic stuff (as in, I may have orchestrated a proposal somewhere, and now I wanna be hired just to write those).

Debbie
I love your family scenes, Amy. 🙂 There's one in Keeping the Faith where Micah is with LR, Jamal and kids - lots of typical family stuff going on.
LOL, Emily. That would be a great job!

Amy
Yep, that scene was fun to write. There's usually one in every book, which I'm just now realizing.

Emily
I know right?

There has to be someone out there who would pay for it. 😂

Debbie
I really enjoy writing dialogue where it's between two characters with a rapport - it can be an argument, flirting, relationship breakdown, two friends chatting - as long as the connection's there and it's flowing, it's all good.

Emily
Yeah, I love dialogues too.

Debbie
I've just read one of yours between Ben and Claude.

Amy
Yeah, those are always fun when done well.

Debbie
Claude deserves their own story.
[hint]
[really strong hint, more of a request]

Amy
Emily, you'll get used to this...I got a "really strong hint" today too, LOL. A fairly persuasive one, I have to admit.

Emily
Mm... they may have it, at some point. I really liked them.

Debbie
💛

Emily
Good to know. 😂

Debbie
💛

Amy
😂

Debbie
One each for humouring my demands.

Amy
😊

Debbie
Only if there's story to be told, of course. It would be awful to force it.

Amy
I was looking over stuff last night for book launch and realized Ike + Dyl...

Emily
Okay, but there’s this girl on WIP I wanted to give an own story to, too. That might work really well actually.
There’s another character in WIP already I wanted to have an own story so... maybe I have to start a series? 😂

Amy
UGH, this is what happened to me, hahaha!

Debbie
* nods *
Yeah, me too.
Twice.
😃

Amy
Yeeeeeppppp. I think this happens to a lot of us, at least if we have a decent ensemble cast.


~ QUESTION 6 ~


Emily
Oh, it’s my turn isn’t it? Uh... When/how did you start writing?

Amy
I was 8. I wrote a story about a space-pilot tarsier named Madeline. LOL!

Debbie
I've been trying to, but I don't remember. I know when I started writing Champagne, it was no great leap to be writing a novel, but aside from the script for the stage version of that, I can't recall what I wrote before.
*bamboozled*

Emily
I don’t know how old I was (but I couldn’t be older than eight). I used to watch lots of Xena the Warrior princess and I’d write like half a page on my mom’s old laptop and I went from there. I used to write some fanfic too before I decided I was going to “publish for real”.

Debbie
Xena. 🙂
A lot of authors write fanfic first, don't they?

Amy
Yes, agreed. Xena. 🙂
I'd been writing short stories for ages, but when I decided to write "for real" I did some fan fiction.

Debbie
I was just thinking...sequels are really fanfics of our own work. [Discuss?]

Amy
Heh, yeah, I can see that.

Emily
Yeah, I guess, especially if they’re not planned out from the start.
And especially if it’s going to be a crossover of two apparently unrelated books. 😂

Amy
And they can be fan fiction suggested by others. That's how I ended up writing Tree of Life. Several people asked.

Emily
It’s almost like prompts for fanfic writers.

Amy
An Act of Devotion was basically fan fiction requested by the author. She doesn't write MM and asked me to write about the character.

Emily
Ohh. Interesting.

Debbie
Taking Him On was requested by readers of Checking Him Out...as was The Making Of Us (by readers of Taking Him On).
Hiding Behind The Couch #3 was my editor's fault (although she wasn't my editor at the time). After that, I can only blame myself.

Amy
See, and now you have me to prod you about when the next one will be out. Even though I really just read them for Josh. And Shaunna. And Sean. And...okay, never mind. 😉

Debbie
LOL!

Emily
You can also write another book with Noah and Matty. 😇😇😇

Debbie
😄

Amy
LOL, I just went and looked at my review of THO to see if I'd said anything about wanting a follow-up. I didn't, but I distinctly recall thinking it. My review is so...boring, LOL.

Emily
See, you have two readers already. 😏

Debbie
I did start a novella from Matty's POV - didn't get very far...yet. It'd be another crossover, and would be Matty and Libby, with Noah, Jesse and Leigh. Probably? Pantsing...
Heh. The way TMOU sold, it might only be two readers. 😀

Amy
I should've titled it "I loved the book and hated Noah, and I didn't want to sound like I hated the book, so I'll just kind of...fake it."

Debbie
LOL
Noah was not an easy chap to write.

Emily
I still don’t understand how anyone could hate him, but sure. 😂

Amy
But I loved him in TMOU!
I didn't like him because he frustrated me.
But not in a "please kill this character off" kind of way, LOL.

Debbie
It's more...he doesn't say much, and trying to connect with his thoughts was harder than I expected. Sol doesn't say much, but he is constantly chunnering in his head.

Emily
I mean... yeah, but I don’t know, I was still rooting for him.

Amy
Yes, I was too. I wanted him to grow up a bit, and I think he did. Plus, he's such a good friend, which I got to see more of in TMOU.
I could seriously talk about this series forever. There's just so much going on.

Debbie
💛

Emily
Same 😍

Amy
Which is funny because on the surface, they shouldn't appeal to me at all, LOL. When I did reviews for a website, I was that one reviewer who did all the non-romance.

Debbie
Thank goodness!

Amy
Ha! Yep. Well, I still kind of am. So many people come to me because they can't find as many sites that will read non-romance.

Emily
Lol. At first I was that reader who could read and liked all genres, but then something switched and now it’s only romance for me.

Debbie
Stories *with* romance in amongst the mix are my favourite. I do like a bit of blossoming love.

Amy
I like love stories. So that means friendship and family, too. And new love is good, but I also love established couples.

Emily
I still read pretty much every sub genre, but for example, I used to read lots of mystery whatever, and now when I try to read it, I’m just like, okay, but what about the pairings? Do these two fit together? Wait, no one's going to even kiss? WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY DON'T LOVE X?

Debbie
That's one of the great things about a series like Notes from Boston, where the focus moves but we get to catch glimpses of the relationships 'born' in previous instalments.

Emily
Yeah, I like established couples too. But there has to be couples or polyamory, or something.

Amy
I suppose after being an Official Reviewer, I just sort of burned out. I read all the non-romance we got as requests, but there weren't that many. Now I read more of a mix, and I'm much happier.
Heh...we way sidetracked. LOL!

Emily
Maybe we can ask one final question each and... see what happens?


~ QUESTION 7 ~

Amy
OK.
Um...
What do you do for fun when not writing?

Emily
I watch more performances than I care to admit of Broadway actors in bars or wherever too (and I cry because Broadway is expensive and far away, but that’s not fun).

Amy
Aw. 😞 FWIW, I live in the same state as Broadway and can't go there.

Debbie
I have no idea how to answer this question, LOL.

Emily
I’m just a musical nerd, which is why, when I went to world pride this year, I spent most of the evenings at the theatre.

Amy
I don't do musical theater myself, but my kids both do. I'm a violinist with a community orchestra. And I just started learning Irish dance this year.

Emily
That’s cool 😌 I used to play cello in the conservatory but I had to drop it so...

Debbie
OK, lately, I've started watching some TV again (Netflix is guurd). I read - whatever words arrive in front of me. Academic, Wikipedia, newspapers, fiction, blog posts...I start reading without realising, and then it's too late. I listen to music - often the same tracks over and over, because I get hooked on a favourite. I watch random YouTube stuff. I very occasionally get my flute out of its case and practise for, um, a few minutes.

Amy
Reading stuff I've chosen, or blog posts or news, is definitely good. I can turn off the "read for reviews" part of my brain. And yeah, Netflix! Still watching Stranger Things S2, and I just started watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend, which is hilarious and kind of weird.

Emily
Crazy ex girlfriend is great!

Debbie
Stranger Things is queued up next, after Suits.

Emily
(But now I don’t know what I can say without making spoilers.)

Debbie
I'm going to check out Crazy Ex Girlfriend too.

Emily
White Josh 😍😍😍

Amy
Heh, I've only gotten two episodes in, but it's awesome.

Emily
Oh, well, then you’ve not reached that point yet.

Amy
Nope. I started because a friend suggested it.
I watched a couple episodes of Crazyhead, too. It's very, very weird.

Debbie
ST Discovery...got me.
Took six episodes, mind you.

Amy
So it's good after all?

Debbie
Yes - still a bit off-piste and I could do without reading subtitled Klingon, but there are some interesting characters.
And the stories aren't bad.

Amy
Well, that's good.


~ QUESTION 8 ~

Debbie
OK. Question:
Pick one of your characters. What is their song?

Emily
Uh... Published characters?

Debbie
Any.

Amy
That's easy too. Micah's song is Amy Grant's "The Prodigal." Almost literally, LOL. I listened to that song a lot while writing Passing on Faith.

Emily
Oh, wait, I don’t know why I was sweating it. Ben’s song is “Who Loves You” - Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
I don’t know, I had no idea what title it should have, and I started to scroll through my music and that’s how it happened.

Debbie
LOL
I was listening to "The Prodigal."
That's kind of made me a teeny tiny bit sympathetic towards Micah's father. 😮

Amy
Ha! Sympathetic toward his father...interesting. Because that is not a song I would associate with him. It does make me really sad, though.

Debbie
Yes - it's quite an interesting additional layer to Micah, actually.
[Listening to Frankie Valli]
OK, I have a playlist...I was trying to pick one in particular. Three are very strongly associated to the characters (Underneath - Josh; Hunting High and Low - Kris; Ashes to Ashes - Andy). Here's the list: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF2sOAYcR-wi7ehy0cqeVQQ5ymhpflM45


~ QUESTION 9 ~

Emily
Last question then? Uh, hardest character to write and what did you learn from them? (If you learnt anything. It counts if you just learnt you hated them.)

Amy
Hardest character to write was Cian, in my recently finished WIP. He felt kind of...too nice? Boring? I'm not sure. I couldn't get in his head very well.

Debbie
He's a great character. 🙂

Amy
He grew on me. 🙂

Debbie
I'm not sure who's been the hardest to write. A few have for different reasons - Noah, because he wouldn't talk to me, Jesse because he wouldn't shut up... I think, probably, I'd say Kris is hardest because I'm always under duress to redeem him from his not-well-thought-out decisions. And death.

Amy
Hahahahaha! Maybe he and Noah should have a talk about that last one.

Debbie
😃

Emily
For me, I have two “stories”. There’s Ben. I didn’t have a problem with his “dual persona” (online/offline), but there was this scene... There’s this moment where he basically panics, and the reason he panics is, let’s say, strongly associated with a memory of mine. So in my head it made perfect sense because I’d have (probably) a full on anxiety attack in that situation, and Ben has also gone through bullying so it made sense, but it was a beta reader who pointed out to me how the reaction was too specific to make sense without a background or explanation. So I added it and softened the whole thing, but there’s the lesson I guess. Just because a character has traits in common with you, they’re not you.

And now there’s MC2 in WIP (the one who has generalized anxiety disorder). He’s not difficult per se, but he’s just moved to New York and is a bit unsettled, which I’m plastering on his POV and it’s actually kind of anxiety-inducing to write (not just for obvious reasons but because I want to make sure the pace is different in each POV but he’d been coping until then so it can’t go too far either).

Emily
Well, they all turned out great so... 😊

Amy
🙂

[Amy left in a pastel beanie hat...]

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