Thursday, November 30, 2017

#WIPpet Wednesday - Goth of Christmas Past - Single Again #amwriting #lgbtqia



WIPpet numbers for 29th November, 2017:
11 sentences 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, still on target and one day to go!

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


In this snippet, Jay and Krissi are at the park, sitting on swings, and Krissi is swinging.

* * * * *
[Jay] “It’s Christmas. Why aren’t you bouncing around like you’ve got springs on your shoes. Actually…they’d be kind of cool.”

“Until you fall flat on your face,” Krissi grumbled on her next pass. She was moving fast enough that Jay listened for a doppler shift. He decided it would be better not to respond; he’d only say something sarcastic, and if he managed something more sincere, she’d think it was sarcasm anyway.

“So…I’m single again.”

“Are you?” He hadn’t known she was seeing anyone, nor whether she’d told him and he’d not been listening. He didn’t think so; he always listened to her. It was kind of hard not to.

* * * * *
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 27, 2017

Character Spotlight: Adele Reeves (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).


This week, it’s time to catch up with Adele, who—in my head—looks a fair bit like the image above. Images used in these character spotlights (this one included) which aren’t from book covers / Daz3D are from Pixabay.

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

Adele Reeves
Name: Adele Reeves
Eyes: Blue-grey
Hair: Blonde, straight
Complexion: Fair (but tanned)
Height: 5' 2"
Weight: under 9 stone
Build: petite
Tattoos/Piercings: Both ears x 2
Education: Local technical college – Diploma Fashion and Design, Level 4 Beauty Therapy
Accent: Northwest English.
Languages: English, French

Quickfire Questions:
Place of Birth: Northwest England.
Siblings: None.
Children: Shu (Shaunna) and Robbie.
Places lived: Northwest England, London.
Jobs: Beautician, window dresser, event planner.
Interests: Beauty products, working out, gossip mags.
Pets: None.
Greatest Success: Passing level 2 English.
Worst thing you've ever done to someone: Married Tom.
Biggest Trauma: Michelle Reeves.
Do you have a secret: No.
Favourite Book: I don't read books. Magazines?
Favourite Food: Cream cakes.
Favourite Drink: Red wine, champagne.
Strength: My looks.
Weakness: My dyslexia.
Best way to spend a weekend: With the children and Dan, maybe a bit of shopping, a drink with friends...
Closest Friends: Shaunna.
Love of your life: the kids and Dan.

And here are some excerpts featuring Adele.

Beginnings

(Setting: Mrs. Kinkade’s primary school classroom.)

Across the room, Adele had glue in her hair. Shaunna didn’t put it there, but once again, she got the blame at first. Adele knew who had put it there. He did it on his way to the bin and then went back to his table. Now he was pretending he was innocent. Her mum was going to go mad. Last week, she’d had to cut her hair because the end of one of her plaits was suddenly, and for no reason at all, shorter than the other. The week before that she needed a new cardigan. Her mum came in to complain to the headmistress and passed Daniel Jeffries’ mum in the foyer, where she was telling the reception lady about having to replace his shirt because someone had cut a hole in the back.

“Daniel!” Mrs. Kinkade said his name so loudly that all of the class stopped what they were doing and turned, first to look at her, then to watch him, as he pushed his chair in with force and huffed. He walked towards the door. “Where do you think you are going?” Mrs. Kinkade snapped in the same loud, teacher voice.

“Outside, Miss,” Dan replied, a little confused, but still indignant.

“Come here,” Mrs. Kinkade commanded. He turned and walked back towards her, his face to the floor, hands dangling at his sides.

George rotated in his seat and watched Dan stomp past, sticking out his tongue at Adele on the way.

***

Hiding Behind The Couch

(Setting: Adele’s living room, with Josh.)

[Josh] “I’ve had a dream about a waterslide about six times now.”

[Adele] “A waterslide? What do you mean?”

“One of those big tubes they swoosh water through so you don’t get friction burns on the way down.”

“Oh, yes. We went to a water park with those in Italy.”

“It’s definitely not my idea of fun.”

“They’re dead good, although Tom wasn’t happy about me going on them, not in my condition. Why don’t you like them?”

“I don’t know, really. It’s just not something I’ve ever wanted to do. I can swim and all that, but there’s a big difference between popping to the local pool and going to one of those places. The only time I did, Ellie tried to force me down a massive slide, and I bottled out. Not my cup of tea at all.”

“Each to their own.” A few moments’ silence passed, and Adele started to fidget. “So, what happens in this dream of yours?”

“Not much, actually, although it does change a bit each time. Basically, I’m at the top of one of those tubes, waiting to step into it, and there’s a queue of people behind me, getting impatient. I can’t get down off the platform, and then I realise I’m naked. The next thing, I get pushed, I think, into the tube, but that’s when I wake up.”

“Ooh. How weird. My dream book says loads of stuff about dreaming you’re naked. But then, you know more about that than me, obviously.”

“Not necessarily. What does it say?”

“I’ll go and get it.” With that, Adele sprinted off to another room. For a minute or so, there was a lot of banging about and the sound of tape being torn off boxes, before she returned with the tiny, hardback book.

“Let’s see, N…N…naked, page…Right. Dreaming you are naked: you are worried you are going to be found out about something. Oh, no, this is it. To suddenly discover you are naked means you are feeling vulnerable.” She returned to the book’s index to see if waterslide was listed.

At least the book was in agreement with everything Josh knew about dream symbolism, but he wasn’t the vulnerable sort. Or maybe on a subconscious level he was, and if so, what was he suddenly feeling vulnerable about? That was a big question, and he didn’t have an answer.

“Water.” Adele found the page. “There’s nothing here about waterslides, or running water, what about boiling water? Was the water warm?”

“I have no idea, but it was bubbling, so it’s close enough.”

“OK, well, it says you are either going through emotional turmoil, or you are ready to deal with something in your unconscious.”

“I see,” Josh said flatly, but he really couldn’t. It was like reading one’s horoscope—sweeping generalisations that were supposed to apply to millions of people who happened to have been born in the same month, or in this case, because they’d had a similar dream.

“So, Josh, are you going through emotional turmoil?” Adele was quite enjoying herself.

***

The Harder The Fall

(Setting: Dan and Adele’s apartment/garden.)

A beautiful September evening: the setting sun cast a red glow over the garden; house martins chirruped and swooped above the rooftops; a faint smell of cut grass hung in the air as gardeners undertook what they hoped would be the last mowing of the season.

Adele fed the fish, checked on the baby, laid her hand against the wine bottle and decided it was chilled enough. She reached to the back of the cabinet and carefully extracted the two glass goblets, each more than capable of holding a whole bottle, and divided the wine equally between them. A minute or so later, the doorbell sounded, Shaunna’s halo of auburn hair instantly recognisable through the frosted window. Adele picked up the two glasses on her way, handing one to her friend and hugging her at the same time.

“Thanks.” Shaunna grinned. “How’s your day been?”

“Blissful,” Adele said, clanging their glasses together. “Quiet, unmessy, unmoody, unmenny.”

“Unmenny?” Shaunna repeated in puzzlement.

“Yeah. Without men. In other words, absolutely perfect.”

Shaunna laughed and nodded in agreement at Adele’s description. They adjourned to the garden and settled into a pair of large, wooden chairs.

“What have you been up to today?” Adele asked.

“Not much. Work, then went to see Dad.”

“Oh, right. Nothing exciting then?”

“Not really.” Shaunna sipped at her wine. There wasn’t much to say now they had cycled through the usual daily round of pleasantries, which didn’t mean they had nothing to talk about; just that, after being friends for so long, they didn’t need to talk to fill a silence, but would undoubtedly find much to fill it with as the wine loosened their tongues. It was, after all, the calm before the storm, so to speak. Eleanor and James were getting married in less than two weeks.

“Is your dress sorted now?” Adele asked. The order had been given that no-one was to wear blue, but only after Shaunna had been out and bought her outfit, which was bound to be the wrong colour. If she’d bought a red outfit, then that would have been Eleanor’s choice also. These things always happened, simply because they all knew each other so well.

“Yeah. I just swapped it for the green one,” Shaunna said.

Adele nodded. What this line of conversation was actually about was Adele’s desire to be questioned on her own outfit. Shaunna was aware of this and was struggling to pretend otherwise, but Adele looked ready to burst, so she relented.

“And how about yours? What colour did you go for in the end?”

“I’m glad you asked,” Adele breathed. She put her glass on the table and tottered back to the house, reappearing a few seconds later, clutching a burgundy faux-suede garment bag. Shaunna rolled her eyes and waited for ‘the reveal’.

“Ta-da!” Adele declared, freeing a short flowery dress and coordinating jacket. The dress was predominantly orange, with large pink roses, and the cropped, single-breasted jacket was of the same shade of pink.

“Oh, it’s very you,” Shaunna gushed. Adele held the dress, still on hanger, against her front and twirled.

“My shoes are the same as these—” she indicated to the black high-heeled wedges she was wearing “—only in pink, obviously.”

“Obviously,” Shaunna echoed. It was a lovely outfit, but it was one which only Adele could get away with, or maybe women under the age of nineteen who hadn’t had children.

***

(Setting: the back of a limo, with the rest of The Circle bar Dan and Andy.)

“Hi!” Adele said brightly, looking around the group in the back. “Ooh! Champagne. This is great, you guys.”

Kris passed the last two glasses to the newest passengers, and they both slurped giddily at the contents. It was apparent that it wouldn’t make a jot of difference whether Jess apologised or not, because Adele didn’t seem remotely bothered by what had passed between them.

It was all down to Shaunna’s good work, knowing precisely how to talk her friend around, so that she was aware that what she’d done, whether deliberate or not, would have been quite hurtful to Jess. Unfortunately, Shaunna had stopped short of advising against bringing it up in conversation.

“I just wanted to say,” Adele began, swivelling in her seat to face Jess. Shaunna was sitting between them and shrank back as far as she could. “I’m really, really sorry for telling Dan about tonight.”

“Thanks,” Jess grunted begrudgingly. “And I’m sorry I called you…whatever it was I called you.”

“Oh, that’s OK.” Adele smiled.

This time, it was Josh who stared into his lap. He’d seen that smile before, and it wasn’t a good sign. Adele wasn’t quite as dense as she liked to make out and had a malicious streak that was usually reserved for Dan. Now, it was directed right at Jess, and the close proximity of the warring factions didn’t give any room for manoeuvre, physically or psychologically.

“I totally understand,” Adele continued, unperturbed by the presence of the other six people—seven, including the driver, who was safely concealed by a relatively soundproof black screen. “I mean, while the cat’s away… And of course you don’t want Andy worrying about all that, not when he has Dan to think about. So you’re right. It was a stupid, selfish thing to do.”

Eleanor couldn’t believe Adele had just said it. They’d all thought it, but no-one would ever have said it. And now it was Jess’s turn.

***

Two By Two

(Setting: a supermarket, with George.)

George’s phone buzzed in his hand and he was relieved to see Adele’s name displayed on-screen.

“Hi, Adele. Thanks for calling back. I’m having a total nightmare!”

“Oh? What’s up?”

“Always or Bodyform?”

Adele started giggling. George waited it out in silence.

“Sorry,” she spluttered eventually.

“It’s OK. I know it sounds ridiculous, but seriously, which ones do I get? There’s about twenty different sorts of each. Does it matter?”

Adele’s sensible, sensitive side kicked in. “OK. It doesn’t matter which brand―they both do the job. I prefer without wings.”

George didn’t ask why. He just scanned the shelves and found the packets that didn’t mention wings, although he was considering buying some with wings, just to see what these ‘wings’ looked like. Feather lining for comfort, perhaps?

“OK. Found them.”

“And I’d say just go for the ones for normal flow.”

George located the ‘normal’ packets.

“Got them!”

“Anything else I can help the new father with this morning?” Adele asked. George grinned to himself.

“No. I think I’m OK now. Thanks, Adele. You’re a life saver.”

“No problem. See you soon.”

“Bye.” With a sigh of relief, George hung up and took his purchase to the checkout…

***

Those Jeffries Boys

(Setting: the labour ward, with Dan.)

A nurse came into the room and wheeled a blood pressure monitor over to the bed. “How are you feeling, Adele?”

“Great.”

The nurse fastened the cuff around Adele’s arm. “This is your second one, is that right?”

“Yeah. We’ve got a little girl. She was prem.”

“How early was she?”

“Thirteen weeks. Nine hundred and thirty grams.”

“Wow, she was tiny. How old is she now?”

“Four next month.”

“And is she doing OK?”

“She’s doing brilliantly.”

The blood pressure monitor beeped, and the nurse smiled again. “All fine.”

“Phew! No pre-eclampsia this time.”

“No, and that’s a good, strong heartbeat baby’s got. I think you’re going into theatre next, so you’re looking at about half an hour before they take you down.”

“So soon?” Dan asked.

“Nothing to worry about,” the nurse said and then left them alone again.

Dan stayed turned towards the door so Adele couldn’t see his face. “You’ve not had any more contractions since we got here.”

“No, but the consultant said he’d do it today anyway.”

Dan swallowed hard, annoyed with himself for getting tearful.

“Come here, sweetie,” Adele commanded gently. He shook his head. “Come on.”

“I should be looking after you.”

“We’re looking after each other.”

***

Reunions

(Setting: the back of a limo, with the rest of The Circle bar Eleanor and Jess.)

Adele patted Josh’s hand to get his attention.

“I saw Suzie at the gym yesterday. She’s been in every day for the past two weeks.”

“Has she?”

“Yep. I think someone might not be coping too well with going up a dress size. Or three.” Adele gave Josh an overplayed innocent pout.

“Oh, Adele,” he gasped. “You are outrageous!”

And she’s had her hair cut.” Adele’s perfect nose turned up, and she blinked her huge false eyelashes. “Doesn’t she know she’s far too old for a pixie cut?”

“Oh my god, she has not?” Josh asked, hamming up a campness he had never possessed. George leaned forward and studied him with a frown. Josh pushed his face away.

Adele nodded very slowly. “It must be so hard for her to see me every day, doing fabulous forty for real.” She gave Josh a wink to imply she was joking.

“You do do fabulous forty for real, Adele,” he said earnestly.

Her mouth became a tiny ‘o’, and her eyelids fluttered almost shut. She didn’t feel fabulous. Her implants were due to be replaced again—it would be the second time since she’d had the surgery at nineteen, but it was the first time she’d acknowledged that she didn’t need them anymore. She had two beautiful children and a handsome, successful, pain-in-the-ass fiancé. This weekend, they were moving into a new house, and she had so many ideas—for the house, and setting up her own business, and doing more college courses—she didn’t know where to start.

***

If you’ve made it this far…here’s a sneaky preview from Season Eight (work in progress)!

Alumni

(Setting: a pub, at lunchtime—think ‘ladies what lunch’. :) With Shaunna and Adele’s stepmother, Sally-Anne.)

“Who wants a drink?” Sally-Anne asked.

Adele shook her head. “I’m treating everyone today—business expense.”

Sally-Anne slow-blinked, then rapid-blinked. “Business? I don’t understand.”

“I’ll explain once everyone’s here. Lime and soda?”

“Yes…thanks, that would be perfect, sweetie.” Sally-Anne watched Adele totter away to the bar and then turned back to Shaunna. “How are you, sweetie?”

“I’m great, thanks, Sally-Anne. You?”

“As well as can be expected.” She shrugged and attempted a smile. “I put on a brave face, you know? For Adele’s sake, but the truth is, I’m lonely.” She sighed and rolled her eyes. “And frustrated.”

“Ah, yeah. I know that feeling.” Shaunna picked up her glass, which was almost empty, and shouted to Adele, “Are you getting more wine?” Adele nodded to confirm she had it in hand; Shaunna tipped the last of the wine into her mouth.

“The batteries are costing me a fortune,” Sally-Anne opined.

Shauuna swallowed the wine and put her glass down again, then burst into giggles.

For a moment, Sally-Anne scowled, affronted, but then she joined in. “Sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”

“Nothing, by the sound of it,” Shaunna pushed out between the guffaws and tears, and then those, too, disappeared into the silence of giggles beyond giggles.

Adele returned and stuttered to a stop next to the table in bewilderment. “What’s so funny?” she asked with a forced smile. “Are you laughing at me?”

“No. Oh, God.” Shaunna couldn’t catch her breath. “Excuse me,” she said and set off for the Ladies’ with a view to getting her giggles back under control.

Adele sat down and took out her tablet, glancing over the notes for what she wanted to talk about without taking in a single word. Sally-Anne had her compact mirror in her hand and was touching up her lipstick, intermittently spluttering a laugh. In the end, Adele switched off her tablet and sat back with arms folded. “What?”

“Sorry?” Sally-Anne snapped her compact shut and put it back in her bag, then blinked innocently at Adele.

“You and Shaunna, giggling. Why?”

“Ah, well…” Sally-Anne bit her glossy bottom lip. “It was girl talk, you know? S-E-X… You remember I told you about that new…toy I bought? Well, it eats up batteries.”

“OK, I don’t want to know,” Adele said quickly.

“You did ask, sweetie.”

“Yeah.” She really wished she hadn’t.

“Why didn’t you say?”

“Say…what?”

“It upsets you, doesn’t it? When I talk about…that.” Sally-Anne’s brows came together, crinkle-free, thanks to the Botox.

“No, it’s fine,” Adele said, even though Sally-Anne’s over-sharing had been making her nauseous for the better part of twenty years.

“I’m sorry. I always thought…well, it was hard to find some common ground, you know? And I thought to myself…Sally-Anne, she’s a young woman, beautiful, dating boys… I didn’t want you to feel that you couldn’t talk to me about sex. But, of course, you didn’t want to hear about me and Hen—your father. How stupid I am.”

“No, Sally-Anne.” Adele threw out all caution and reached across the table, taking both of her stepmother’s hands in hers and holding them firmly. Sally-Anne’s admission had sparked a new understanding, and tears, which Adele would prefer didn’t ruin her make-up, but she could fix that later. She needed to fix this right now. The opportunity might never come again. “Thank you,” she said.

***

Thanks for reading!
Deb x

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