Sunday, July 01, 2018

Adopt an Indie Author Today! #IndiePrideDay

I had a tough time at school - for lots of reasons, but the one that's relevant here is competitiveness, and not my own. By the time I figured out what the problem was, I was in my mid-twenties and studying for a degree.

For brevity: I was fairly clever but shy, not good at sports, lousy at socialising, average height, average looking, an average musician - in general a bit of a wall flower. With adolescence, I put on weight, and that was so not the attention I wanted to bring to myself. In fact, I didn't want attention at all. I just wanted to get on with being me, doing what I was good at, which is also what I enjoy:

  • People watching.
  • Writing.
  • Reading.
  • Listening to music.
  • Discovering new things I'm good at.
  • Thinking round corners.
  • Being the best I can be.

So, all those competitive team sports? Pure torture. Being ranked on exam results? Much the same. Eventually, I realised that my position relative to my peers was of no consequence. I knew if I'd done my best, and that was absolutely good enough. It's my motivation, it's how I measure my achievements (or my progress towards achieving).

What has all that got to do with Indie Pride Day?

Well, there are an awful lot of authors out there, and all of us share the same goal - not necessarily to write a bestseller or make a living from our books. Many of us write for ourselves, but we publish for other reasons. I publish because I want to challenge people to think about the complexities of day-to-day life and enjoy my stories. If they don't, that's OK. There are plenty of other stories out there.

Which is the point of all the above. Like my performance on an undergraduate essay was not affected by the performance of my peers, nor does the success of other authors have any bearing on my success. Except, maybe, if we're all happy and bigging each other up. That's surely got to be a positive thing.

There are plenty of readers, all with different tastes, all looking for different kinds of stories. It doesn't really matter that the market is saturated with books, other than it makes it really hard for us wee indies to get noticed.

Thus, here's a shout out to my indie author buddies. Go visit their websites, find their books, buy/download and read them. And if you like them, tell people about it. Share the love.

And, in return, we will love you forever. 💙💜💗

Some Indie Loveliness For You!

On the NewsNibbles blog, you'll find a round-up of Sparkly Badgers' recommendations, with links to books and authors:

You can also find a whole bunch of indie authors on Beaten Track Publishing:

And also on Supposed Crimes:

Quite a few authors I know have books available at discounted prices this month:

A.M. Leibowitz
C H Clepitt
Claire Buss
L.N. Denison
Lyra Shanti
Joanne Van Leerdam
Jacqueline Church Simonds
Margaret Adams Holmes
Timothy Casey

I'm going to link to Goodreads profiles (in no particular order), as this is the easiest place to find comprehensive links to authors' work:

Jeanne G'Fellers
Carrie Pack
Kaje Harper
Edmond Manning
Russell Ricard
Amelia Faulkner
Martin Belk
Donna Jay
David E. Manuel
Jonathan Hill
Kath Middleton
Julie McLaren
Matthew Drzymala
David Wailing
Tim Arnot

As always, thanks a million for reading.
Deb x

Thursday, June 21, 2018

New Release! Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2)

First up, sorry if you're feeling a bit like "Yeah, yeah, Deb, I know! You've got a book out today." With so many authors, so many books and the velocity of social networks, I have to send out the message on as many channels as possible. Hence, the overkill some of you might experience.

Conversely, you might be thinking "Oh, I'm glad I saw this blog post or I wouldn't have known you had a new book out." In which case, my work here is done. :)


Tabula Rasa is out today! (June 21st, 2018)

Tabula Rasa is book two of the Gray Fisher trilogy (you can get book one - The WAG and The Scoundrel - for 99c if you're quick - links on the Beaten Track page). This series is a spin-off from Hiding Behind The Couch - you don't need to have read any of the main series to make sense of the Gray Fisher books.

The stories feature Gray Fisher and Rob Simpson-Stone, who were in the police together. The series is contemporary fiction with elements of (white-collar) crime and (LGBTQ+) romance.

Tabula Rasa Blurb:
After years of working for the police - both as a beat bobby and undercover - Rob Simpson-Stone is moving on with no regrets. It may be too late to rescue his marriage, but his relationship with his seven-year-old son, Lucas, is back on track. Rob's grown-up nieces might be a taller order, but he's prepared to do whatever it takes to prove they no longer need to worry that one day he won't come home.

Fate, however, has different ideas.

When Rob fails to arrive at his leaving do, his former boss/new PI business partner Gray Fisher can't understand why nobody else is worried Rob is MIA, never mind that Gray is pointlessly missing out on a night in with Will.

As the reasons behind the night's events unfold, Gray's past recklessness threatens to catch up with him, putting those he holds close in danger and forcing both Rob and Gray to forge reluctant alliances.

Purchase links:
Beaten Track: ebook | paperback
Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBooks

Yesterday, I spent a 'short' time putting together a video trailer. OK, it took me bloody hours, and I tried to coerce Nige into helping me, all the while knowing I'd end up watching over his shoulder and telling him how to do something he's expertly qualified and experienced to do. In the end, he did help with advice and managed to not splain to me - he seemed very proud of himself for that. :D

Also, it's our wedding anniversary today. We'll celebrate by...doing the same as we do every Thursday.

Video trailer:

Excerpt (Rob):
Context: Rob and Naomi are having a pub lunch on the way back from a prison visit during which Rob sprang an unpleasant surprise on Naomi.
They sipped their drinks; their meals arrived. The silence continued, finally broken by Naomi’s request for ketchup and Rob’s unchecked reaction.

“What?” She was immediately defensive. “I like ketchup.”

“I didn’t say a word.”

“You didn’t need to. Your face said it for you.” She deposited a large dollop on the side of her plate, clicked the lid shut and set the bottle down. There was a smile lurking behind that moody scowl.

Shaking his head, Rob tucked into his gammon and chips. “You and Lu would get on like a house on fire.”

“How so?”

“United in your love of ketchup. The kid puts it on everything—chips…”

“What are chips without ketchup?”


“The perfect accompaniment.”

“Carbonara.” Rob nodded at Naomi’s plate. Almost to spite him, she swirled her pasta-loaded fork in the ketchup, covering it completely. Rob laughed, relieved the ice was starting to melt. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I should’ve warned you.”

“Was it an option?”

“Yeah. I bottled out.”

“Were you worried I’d jeopardise your success in talking Freddie round?”

“No, nothing like that. I didn’t want to upset you. And for the record, it wasn’t my idea.”

“I’d gathered as much.” Naomi exchanged her fork for her glass. “It has Will Richards written all over it.”

“Does it?” Rob thought it had come from Gray—contrary to his claim it was Will’s scheme—because it was a DCI Fisher tactic too. Clearly, they were well suited.

“What’s it about, or can’t you tell me?”

“I can’t say much as it relates to an ongoing investigation.”

“The PI business?” Naomi guessed.


“Mmm.” She wanted to say more, and Rob wanted to tell her more. In spite of what he’d witnessed at the prison, he trusted her to keep it to herself, but it wasn’t solely his decision.

“You’ve got ketchup…” He subtly indicated her chin. She wiped with her napkin, but the ketchup stayed put. She tried again. Rob shook his head. She gave her chin one more broad wipe, to no avail. It was the tiniest spot and he’d only used it to redirect both of their attention, but this was possibly worse. “So what have you been up to?” he asked, attempting to move the conversation on again.

“Are you really going to let me go through the rest of lunch with ketchup on my chin?” She held out her napkin and leaned forward. “No spit,” she warned.

With a smile, Rob took the napkin and rubbed at the offending spot, but the ketchup was stubborn as anything.

“Everything all right with your meals?” A waiter stopped at their table.

Naomi quickly leaned her chin on her hand. “Yes, thanks.”

“Great, cheers,” Rob said. “Could I trouble you for a glass of water?”

“No trouble,” the waiter said and left, soon returning with the water. Rob offered thanks and waited for them to move on before he dipped a corner of the napkin into the glass and used it to successfully clean the ketchup away. The cool wetness amplified the heat radiating from Naomi’s skin, and Rob was once again fighting the urge to touch. Carefully withdrawing, he dropped the napkin onto the table and sat back in his chair, fingers locked and steepled above his plate.

Naomi frowned in concern. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Rob clasped his hands tighter together, not yet safe from temptation. “Can I be honest, Naomi?”

“Twice in one day?”

“Actually, it was the same point, but I got sidetracked.”

“Oh, now I’m intrigued.” That smile…if that didn’t mean what Rob thought it meant…

“All right. Cards on the table. I’m very attracted to you. I have been since I met you.”

“When you thought I was Aaron’s wife,” she said. Her smile faltered, and there was a hint of worry there, but it made her no less beautiful.

Thank you for reading!
Deb x

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Great Pretendo #flashfriday #sparklybadgers

He’s a fast-talking, dishevelled inventor trapped in a world he never made. She’s a transdimensional renegade magician’s assistant trying to make a difference in a man’s world. Together, they fight crime! (inspiration:

(Flash Fiction, written for the Sparkly Badgers.)


The audience oooh’d as Pretendo circled the wooden crate, his final sword raised. Bend, flick, recoil… The blade flashed under the spotlights and plunged, piercing the lid, dead centre. As one, the audience gasped and held their breath.

Beneath the crate’s false floor, Shula waited out the seconds, knowing she’d be stuck a good while yet. Pretendo loved to drag out the sword removal part of his act even though the audience was only interested in seeing his ‘assistant’ emerge unscathed.

He was a fake. All magicians were, but that was beside the point. Pretendo wasn’t actually a magician. He was a thief on the run, and he shouldn’t have made it this far. Shula had flagged his passport with the portal authorities, but some…idiot had let him through. So, Shula did the only thing she could: downed a couple of TT pills, sent a 10–43 to the division, and hopped on the bus with him.

Now, they were here: Earth 6424/12bf4a with its bizarre and frankly illogical gendered hierarchy, which she’d discovered firsthand within minutes of arriving and before she could secure a stable 4G–HTL connection that would have forewarned of her instant demotion to second-class citizen.

Pretendo had leapt clear of the bus before it stopped and darted into the closest building, tripping over a sandwich board in his haste. The sign was still wobbling as Shula raced past.

Wanted: Illusionist + Illusionist’s assistant. Auditions today.

There was little difference in the tech from one world to the next, but theirs was strange, new… Magic. Guaranteed to get them the gig.


Illusionist’s assistant.

Damned infuriating, not to mention degrading, cramped, boring…and itchy. Shiny, stretchy fabric that barely covered her mammary glands and genitalia—and the women here wore weapons on their feet. Still, with her holo-shield activated, it was good cover.

Whoosh. One sword down. Only seven more to go.

Thud, thud, thud…

“Hello?” Male voice, unknown.

Whoosh. Whoosh.

Thud, thud, thud.

“Where am I?”

Thud, thud, thud.


What the…

Shula gripped the handles and pulled, opening a six-inch gap. Shafts of light cut across the upper section of the crate. The whoosh of another sword’s removal was followed by a muted curse from the silhouette above.

“Stay down!” Shula hissed.

Whoosh, whoosh…

The silhouette jolted violently. “Wh-who said that?”

“How did you get in here?”

“I, erm…” Whoosh. “Ouch! What the hell is this?”

That was the final sword. “Hold tight, I’m coming up.”

With the man’s weight, it took a fair bit of effort, but the clanks and rattles of the padlocked chains had stopped, and the lid was rising.

“Quick!” A clammy hand grasped Shula’s and pulled as she pushed, hoisting her upwards as Pretendo threw the lid aside, and, like jacks in a box, she and her crate-crasher sprang to their feet.

“Thank you, thank you!” Pretendo gushed and bowed to his whooping audience, oblivious to the added extra in his act.

Shula held her grin and curtseyed, muttering to her unwitting sidekick, “There’s a bar across the street. Wait there. I’ll find you and explain. Go!”

With her help, he scrabbled free and stumbled away, just making it offstage as Pretendo turned around.

“For my next trick, I will take this beautiful lady—” he lifted Shula’s hand to his greasy face and squelched out a kiss “—and saw her in half!”


By the time Shula reached the bar, she’d figured it out. Aside from the man’s dishevelled, shell-shocked appearance, he was pale, shivering and sweaty. It could’ve been flu, she supposed—the virus thrived on Earth 6424/12bf4a—but she didn’t think so. He raised his head, offering a weak nod.

“Here. Take this,” she instructed and popped a TT pill from the packet onto his quivering palm.

“What is it?” he asked, but not before he’d swallowed it.

“For travel sickness.”

“I don’t get travel sickness.”

“This kind, you do. We all do. So, who are you?”

“Tim Cox. Professor of…erm, well…” He rubbed his scruffy head in fake bewilderment.

“Quantum physics?” Shula guessed. Tim’s jaw dropped. “How did you get here?”

“Are we in London?”

“We are,” Shula confirmed. “But not your London.”

He perked up. “No way! It worked?”

“How many moons are there?”

“Orbiting Earth? Two, obviously.” He laughed like it was a ridiculous question.

Shula got up and beckoned him to follow her outside, where she pointed up at the sky and its solitary moon. “I think it’s safe to say it—whatever ‘it’ is—worked.”

“I was right! Wormholes are stable—”

Some are,” Shula interjected. “However, yours is connected to a magician’s prop, which is not in the least stable, particularly given who the magician is.” She hooked Tim’s arm and marched him back across the street, but he broke free. “Professor, you must leave before it’s too—”

The theatre doors burst open. Pretendo emerged, puffing and panting, and hauled the crate into his stolen van. That was when he spotted Shula. He scrambled into the van and took off.

“Damn it! My shield’s failed.” She hailed a passing taxi and jumped in—as did Tim—and ordered the cabbie, “Follow that van!”

Well, this was a mess. Every twist, turn and bump, the crate rattled closer to the swinging, open back doors, and now she had not one, but two transdimensional trespassers. It was far from ideal. Although…

“Can you collapse your wormhole, Professor?”

“How will I get home?”

“Good point.” But she could figure that out later. “I’m with the Transdimensional Crime Division, and I need your help. So, the wormhole…?”

“Transdimensional—” Tim uttered, awestruck.

“Can you collapse it or not?” Shula snapped.

“Of course, but—”

“Do it.”


“Soon as you like.”

“If you’re sure…” Tim pulled a device from his pocket, poked the screen a few times and shut his eyes. “Here goes nothing.” He pressed the screen one last time.

Up ahead, the van briefly expanded, and then shrank to non-existence.

Friday, June 01, 2018

The WAG and The Scoundrel - 99c limited offer

To celebrate the release of Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2) on June 21st, The WAG and The Scoundrel (Gray Fisher #1) ebook is available for 99c (or thereabouts. Amazon, you know... Usual price is $3.99).

Buy The WAG and The Scoundrel (Gray Fisher #1):

Preorder Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2):

Friday, May 18, 2018

What A Scorcher! #flashfriday #sparklybadgers

A Hiding Behind The Couch flash fiction, written for the Sparkly Badgers. Theme: extreme weather (British style ;)).


A pink straw sunhat dropped onto the patio table.

Iris glanced up from her magazine as Pauline passed between her and the sun—not that it mattered when she was under an umbrella. Pauline gingerly lowered herself onto the other recliner and lifted the hat, revealing a bottle of sun lotion—no, make that oil. “Bloomin’ hot, in’t it?” she said. She flipped the lid and upended the bottle, generously greasing her left arm, then her right.

“Here we go. Back in 1976, we was frying eggs on’t car bonnets…

“Well, we was!”

“Aye. You told me last time we had a heat wave.” About ten years ago, if memory served.

Pauline squinted with one eye shut, checking her arms were well coated before she squeezed dollops onto both thighs. “Nowt wrong with making the most of it.”

“You could’ve just had a barbecue, love.”

“I don’t think they was invented then, but that weren’t the point. If you’d had cars round your way—”

“Eh, we did have cars, ta very much. We just weren’t as daft as you lot. Who in their right mind thinks ‘Bloody hell, it’s hot today. Think I’ll get the eggs out’?”

“Just a bit of fun.”

“You could’ve had one of them balls on a stick.”

“A what?”

Iris mimed throwing a ball sideways and batting it.

“Oh, you mean Swingball. Did you have one?”

“We did, love. Only the dog played with it, mind. Kept him occupied for hours, once he got hold of that ball.” Iris smiled to herself, remembering how she’d had to bribe him with cheese to let go or he’d just hang there all day. She missed Nero. He’d been a smashing dog, even if he was a vicious little sod.

“Do my back?” Pauline rolled onto her side. It would leave greasy fingerprints all over Iris’s magazine, but they were on their holidays, so she obliged, slapping the magazine down on the table as noisily as she could to let Pauline know she was doing it under duress. Not even a slight breeze ruffled the pages, which was a good thing, as it meant next door’s wind chimes were quiet too.

Iris eyed the white straplines over Pauline’s bright-pink shoulders and wrinkled her nose. “You realise you’re already burnt to buggery, don’t you?”

“Tanned, love.”

“Burnt. To buggery.”

“It’ll take more than a couple of days of our piss-weak sun to burn me. I’ve got that sort of skin, you know. What’s it called…olive?”

“Like Popeye’s girlfriend?”

Pauline chuckled and wriggled. “Get on with it, then.”

“All right, mardy.” Iris tipped some oil into her palm and spread it over Pauline’s back and shoulders. They were red-hot, but she was the same every summer. The sun only had to poke its head out from behind the clouds and she’d be stripping off as if her clothes were on fire. “You’re done.”

“Ta, love.” Pauline rolled onto her back and stretched for her hat but couldn’t quite reach. With a sigh, Iris passed it to her and exchanged the bottle of oil for her magazine. “We should go away somewhere proper,” Pauline said.

“Like where?”

“I dunno. Blackpool?”

“Christ, no.”

“Have you ever been?”

“I have, love. Four years on the trot with our Georgie and that fucker. He had the poor lad up and down the beach on them bloody donkeys like I don’t know what.”

“Are they still there, the donkeys?”

“No idea. It’s cruel, though, in’t it? Poor buggers, trudging through the sand all day in that heat.”

“Aye. Like that lickle donkey what took Mary to Bethlehem,” Pauline mused. Iris gave her an old-fashioned look. Pauline grinned back. “How about Conway?”

“Always rains in Wales.”


“Too bloody windy.”

“Margate, then.”

“It’s down south.”


“Have you got a passport?”

Pauline frowned. “Give over.”

“Watford Gap border control…”

“I’m not that daft.”

“Says she who’s covered herself in oil. Eh, mebbe we should fry you on a car bonnet. Mind, you’d slip off and bash your daft head on’t bumper.”

Pauline pulled her hat down over her face, ignoring Iris’s mockery, but it didn’t stay there for long. British summers were too short and unpredictable for Pauline to waste on sulking under her sunhat.

Iris lit a cig and sat back, appreciating the quiet while it lasted. No cars or lawnmowers, just the occasional coo of a wood pigeon in the trees at the bottom of the garden and the buzz and flutter of bees and butterflies passing through. Aside from the trail of a distant jumbo jet, the sky was an unbroken expanse of blue.

“We don’t need to trek all the way to the seaside for a proper holiday,” she said. “Besides, you know what’ll happen if we do. We’d spend God knows how long squashed up like sardines in a sweating-hot coach only to get there and have it bloody rain all week. No, love. I’m happy here. It’s me home from home.” Iris glanced over at Pauline and sighed. “Talking to meself, then. Right, I see.”

She got up to adjust the umbrella so it still covered her and then nearly jumped out of her skin when Pauline gave a loud snore. “Watch it or I’ll impale you on the bloody thing,” she muttered. Pauline didn’t even stir.

Iris returned to her chair and staring at the sky. She’d bob in and make a cuppa soon. She couldn’t be doing with the heat, and it was cooler in the house, which was where Blue and Monty were hiding. Not a mad dog or Englishman in sight, she started to doze herself.


Pauline snorted and sat up with a start. “Is that Mr. Whippy?”

“Trust you to hear that.” He had to be a mile away, but he was getting closer.

“I’m buying,” Pauline said, already on her feet. “Strawberry Mivvy?”

Iris smiled. “Aye, love. Why not? But don’t go chucking it on a car bonnet, eh?”

Monday, April 30, 2018

Upcoming Release: Curtain Call, by C H Clepitt

C H Clepitt has a knack for creating real, relatable characters, who face adversity with humour and humanity, and Curtain Call is no exception.

“Possibly the best thing I’ve read by C H Clepitt so far.” - Murray McLean

When an assistant to the director role turns into P.A. to her favourite film star, Jen can’t believe her luck. Eleanor Francis is charming, kind and funny, but she has a secret, and when tragedy strikes, things threaten to unravel at an uncontrollable pace. Despite being out of her depth Jen has to adapt to her new role quickly, to protect Eleanor, with whom she is rapidly falling in love.

This is a sweet, understated story that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. If you’ve enjoyed C H Clepitt’s other books then this is not to be missed.

“The story is very well written and flows nicely... I would love to read more about the two main characters in future books.” - Simon Leonard - Black Books Blog

“Love blossoms in an unexpected place in this emotional short story. A change of direction for Clepitt but delicately written and heartfelt.” - Claire Buss - Author of  The Rose Thief  and other novels.

“The story's optimism that makes it such a joy to read and leaves one feeling there must be hope after all.” A.M. Leibowitz - Author of  Keeping the Faith  and other novels.

Preorder Link:
Get in touch via  to order paper
A Word from the Author:
This started as a short story, prompted by an anthology call by friend and colleague A.M. Leibowitz. I was at the maximum word limit, and felt the characters still had more to say, so, when it turned out my submission was 4 times longer than all of the other submissions, I withdrew it, expanded it and this novella was born. I am really proud of what I have achieved here, and think it might be some of my best writing to date. I really hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

If you would like to arrange an interview or spotlight, you can contact C H Clepitt via her website.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Newish Release: Hiding Behind The Couch Box Set Two

I haven't had time to blog properly on a Monday for a few weeks, so my apologies if you're a regular reader. I'm doing my best to get back in the swing of it.

This is just a quickie to announce the release of Box Set Two of Hiding Behind The Couch, which is available on Kindle only (and Kindle Unlimited).


  • Beginnings
  • Ruminations
  • Hiding Behind The Couch (Season One)
  • No Time Like The Present (Season Two)
  • The Harder They Fall (Season Three)
  • Crying in the Rain
  • First Christmas


  • In The Stars Part I (Season Four)
  • Breaking Waves
  • Chain of Secrets
  • In The Stars Part II (Season Five)
  • A Midnight Clear
  • Red Hot Christmas

BOX SET THREE (sometime in 2018/9)

  • Two by Two (Season Six)
  • Hiding Out
  • Class-A
  • Those Jeffries Boys
  • Breakfast at Cordelia’s Aquarium
  • The WAG and The Scoundrel


  • Beginnings
  • Class-A
  • First Christmas
  • Breaking Waves
  • Chain of Secrets
  • A Midnight Clear
  • Red Hot Christmas
  • Hiding Out
  • Breakfast at Cordelia’s Aquarium
  • To Be Sure
The novellas/short stories box set is also available as a paperback - readers asked for print editions of the novellas and short stories, so here they are. Note: these stories will all appear in the numbered box sets.

The novels are also available in paperback editions. :) Visit Beaten Track Publishing for all purchase/download links

Thanks for reading!
Deb x

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - No Filter: Very Odd - #lgbtqia

But I have news! I submitted a story for Upstaged—the upcoming anthology from Supposed Crimes—and it was accepted! Woohoo! :) It was nerve-racking, I won’t lie. It’s the first time I’ve submitted a story anywhere since my first novel. This writing malarkey never gets any easier. I’ll post more about the anthology nearer publication time.

Anyway, it’s WIPpet Wednesday. I’m allegedly writing No Filter for CampNaNoWriMo. I haven’t managed much writing, but it’s coming along slowly.

Brief story info:
No Filter is a crossover novella of the Hiding Behind The Couch and Checking Him Out series(es), featuring Libby (and others) from HBTC, and Matty (and others) from CHO.

This week’s snippet is from Libby’s point of view; it follows from last week’s snippet, where Libby was scheming. Note (and also a spoiler for anyone reading HBTC who hasn’t got as far as Season Six): Josh and George are Libby’s foster/adoptive parents. Highlight to read.

WIPpet maths for 11th April:
9 sentences, 2 paragraphs… 9+2=11.

And the WIPpet Snippet:
Only Josh was home, so she wouldn’t get a definite yes or no until later, but she could still sound him out. She’d have preferred to talk to George first—it made sense to wait until he got in from work, but sense and patience were not playing on the same side this afternoon. Plus George would say ‘who?’ and then she’d have to tell the whole story to remind him, whereas Josh would remember exactly who she was talking about the second she mentioned the name. Possibly even before.

Pocketing her phone, Libby clicked the remote control to lower the stairs from her attic bedroom into Josh’s office, drawing breath as she descended, her speech at the ready, but she’d have been addressing an empty room. Very odd. She reached the bottom of the stairs and cocked her head, listening. He usually called up to say if he was going out, but she couldn’t hear much of anything, although…it sounded like the TV was on, which was even odder. She went to investigate.

* * * * *

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - No Filter: No Patience - #lgbtqia

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks because of workload, which hasn’t lessened any, if I’m honest. Uni work, publishing…there are not enough hours in the day/days in the week!

Still, it’s WIPpet Wednesday. :)

Brief story info:
No Filter is a crossover novella of the Hiding Behind The Couch and Checking Him Out series(es), featuring Libby (and others) from HBTC, and Matty (and others) from CHO.

This week’s snippet is from Libby’s point of view; this is the start of chapter two (the previous snippets were from chapter one).

WIPpet maths for 4th April:
4x4=16 paragraphs.

And the WIPpet Snippet:
Libby jiggled her leg impatiently to the FaceTime bleeps. It never took Poppy this long to pick up. In fact, Libby was quite sure if she added up all the seconds of waiting from all of their calls in the two years since they’d become friends, it wouldn’t come close to the hours she’d been waiting this time. She gave up.

And called again. On and on it rang. “Come on…come on…what is she do— At last!”

“What?” Poppy’s puzzled frown appeared onscreen at too-close range, like she was stuck inside the phone.

Libby backed off in mock-horror. “Nothing.” Objectively, it probably hadn’t taken Poppy any longer than normal to answer, but Libby was desperate to share.

Desperate, but not stupid.

She mouthed, “Is your mum there?” then, after Poppy’s nodded confirmation, said at a normal volume, “Did you ask your mum about coming over to do the project?”

Poppy’s eyebrows shot up into her hair. “Um…no…not…yet?” Her panic-stricken expression, along with excitement, almost set Libby off giggling. Poppy mouthed, “Project?”

“I dunno. Make something up!”

Poppy shrugged helplessly—“OK”—and tilted her head back to shout, “Mum, can I go to Libby’s to work on our project?”

“What project?”

“One for…sixth form.” Poppy shrugged again. She didn’t look optimistic.

“You don’t start sixth form for another month.” Her mum’s voice was closer now, and she appeared in the background, in rubber gloves, viciously attacking a baking tray with a scouring pad.

“We want to make a head start.”

A brief silence followed, in which Poppy was turned mostly the other way, but Libby saw her cheek lift a split second before her mum answered, “I suppose so. It’s only your summer holiday you’re wasting.”

“Thanks.” Poppy turned back to Libby with a grin and talked on the move. “The bus is due in two minutes and I need to get my trainers on.”

“OK. See you soon.” Libby ended the call. On to the next stage of her scheme.

* * * * *

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Book Review: In The Present Tense by Carrie Pack

Title: In The Present Tense
Author: Carrie Pack
Publisher: Interlude Press
Published: 19th May, 2016
ISBN: 9781941530788

Miles Lawson goes to sleep dreaming of a future with his boyfriend Adam, but wakes to find he is married to Ana, an acquaintance from high school. When he learns he has been time traveling, Miles is consumed with finding a cure for his rare condition—and finding his first love.

Traveling more frequently, Miles assembles the puzzle pieces of his life and, in doing so, alienates his wife. As he loses control, Miles must realize that sometimes fixing your past mistakes means changing your future. But will he be able to convince Adam he is telling the truth before it’s too late?

In The Present Tense isn’t literary fiction. I appreciate this is a curious way to start a review – what the book is not – but most novels I’ve come across that take on topics of an intellectual/political nature in the way Carrie Pack does are, ultimately, vessels through which the author can show off their leet writing skills through a complex story arc, spectacular vocabulary and their ability to come up with the most convoluted sentences ever. It’s nice – if they’re aiming to appear on the A’ Level English Literature syllabus at some point in the future – but there’s too much clutter between execution of concept and the reader’s ability to just enjoy the story.

In short, Carrie Pack cuts the crap – which makes this book accessible to a wide range of readers – and gets straight down to the storytelling. And wow, what a story this is. It tackles issues around mental health and illness, and I’ve got to say, as someone who has worked/teaches in the fields of psychology/psychiatry, it is wonderful to read realistic depictions of mental ‘disorders’ such as dissociative identity disorder and schizophrenia.

I also want to applaud the author for portraying the horror of enforced psychiatric incarceration. The way it’s done is not ‘thrilling’ in the typical thriller novel sense, but it is thrilling. My heart was hammering so fast at times, and I felt nauseous – the same reaction I get to real-world oppression. I’ll admit, my worldview incorporates an anti-psychiatry stance, and I sense the author’s sentiments are not incongruent. We might have left behind the vast asylums of the past, but a diagnosis of an acute mental disorder is, for some people, tantamount to throwing away the key. We need to see these people in our stories if for no other reason than they are invisible in the real world.

That’s only part of the story, albeit a very significant part. The time travel is done so well, but there’s little more I can say about it without either repeating the blurb or giving away key elements of the plot. I, like most readers, have a brain that skips past chapter headings and subheadings, so I generally had to hop back a few lines and read the author’s helpfully included dates. Truthfully, I was too desperate to keep reading the story, so mostly I gave these a cursory glance before once more submerging into Miles’s world.

While Miles is most certainly the main character, we do get a few different points of view, and again, these are all clearly marked by subheadings, but they’re also easy to identify if you do just keep reading, like I did, into the night. I forced myself to stop at 92% to squeeze an extra day out of this story. It’s so good.

Finally, the characters…well, this is where the author has really hit it out the park for me. LGBTQ+ main character, the politics of mental health, time travel and damn fine characterisation. There’s no sweetness and light in here; all of the characters have huge flaws, like real people. Some situations cast them in a poorer light than others, and the emotional impact on the reader is the same roller-coaster ride we get from our interactions with people we know. The only character I was 100% onside with was Miles, even though at times I wanted to give him a good talking-to or simply remove him from the situation. The traits/behaviours distinct to Miles at different points in time were also a nice touch.

I loved In The Present Tense from beginning to end, and the sequel is out this summer (2018)! I’ll be at the front of the queue.

Received through NetGalley.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

#WorldPoetryDay - Battle Fatigue (or why I no longer teach in a high school)

©2005 Debbie McGowan

God loves a trier,
But I tire of healing cerebral hamstrings
Torn by leaping without training over hurdles
That simply were not there yesterday.

Of backs chewed through to fronts,
Remains spat in the sawdust with disgust
And downtrodden through the years
Into a pithy pile of organisational waste.

Of promises that never saw the light of day…
Of honoured guests who outstayed their welcome upon their invited arrival…
Of great oak trees that were grafted on the graft of
Another lowly acorn’s shoot…
Of spine-blunted daggers drooling with the blood of comrades
While they feast on the sinewy shavings
Of lost ambitions,
Spanish moss draped in avenues leading to nowhere…

Of paper and pens and boxes to fill,
Of statistical accusations,
Of schemes.

Of pretty girls, words, rooms, hours to kill,
Of breeding germs feeding on failing thoughts,
Of careers perused on the crest of a doubt,
Of axes unground and festering dreams,
Of wishing to change yet remaining the same,
Of breaking down bridges when boats are alight,
Of caressing the hook while consuming the bait.

And all the same seeing no light in the past,
And all the while wishing I’d fail the test,
And all the time hoping I’ll choose not to stick,
When one look at the cards shows I hold the wrong pack.

More of my poetry (and other writing) here:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - No Filter: What if? - #lgbtqia

It’s been a funny old week so far. I have so much uni work to do, and I’m…not doing any of it. But I now have four stories on the go, including this one, which I haven’t written any more of since this time last week. :/ It’ll come to me, I’m sure.

On the plus side, I’ve done quite a bit of work on Tabula Rasa, which is currently 78k, but it wasn’t quite going where I hoped. I think I’ve pulled it back on track. I also ‘accidentally’ made a start on the story after Goth of Christmas Past, all because of a comment about ‘mansplaining’.  Lastly (but not leastly), I’ve written the first few pages of a story for an anthology call, although whether I can write to the remit is another matter, as I’m not good at shorties (as in, I can’t keep to the word limit). I’m giving it my best shot, though—I’ve been mulling the idea for quite some time! That story is tentatively titled Oh No She Didn’t!

So, on to the WIPpet…

Brief story info:
No Filter is a crossover novella of the Hiding Behind The Couch and Checking Him Out series(es), featuring Libby (and others) from HBTC, and Matty (and others) from CHO.

This week’s snippet comes a few paragraphs after last week’s, where Noah had finished proofreading Matty’s email to Libby (whom they met in Hiding Out).

WIPpet maths for 14th March:
14 paragraphs. Simples. :)

And the WIPpet Snippet:
“What if Libby gets the email and feels like she’s got to meet up? I don’t want that. I don’t want her to agree because she thinks she has to.”

“She won’t be like that,” Noah said certainly.

“You don’t know.”

“All right, put it this way. I mixed her up with Lauren because they’re kind of similar. What would Lauren do in this situation?”

“She’d delete the message. No, wait…she’d leave it in her inbox. Seriously, Noo, you’d have to see it. There is so much email in there, it’s unbelievable. No wonder she could never find the stuff on assignments. I even offered to set up folders for her, same as I’ve got. She got the right hump.” Matty smiled at the mental image of Lauren turning the screen away from him like she’d always done because he was ‘sticking his nose in where it wasn’t wanted’ again. He was going to miss that now they weren’t studying together. He was going to miss her. Apart from her tantrums. He wouldn’t miss those.

A light thud of something landing in the bin across the room brought him out of his thoughts, and the smell of orange drifted into his nostrils. Noah was making good headway with his fruity feast. “I need chocolate. Go buy me some? Please?”

Noah sighed but was already on his way to the door. “What sort?”

“Any—oh! What was your point about Libby and Lauren?”

“I reckon Libby will be really happy to hear from you.”

“And if she’s not?”

“Matty…just send it already.”


“No choccy…”

Matty scrabbled to unlock his phone screen and clicked send before he could change his mind. “There!” He grinned victoriously. “Mars bar, please. Make it a big one.”

* * * * *

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Thursday, March 08, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - No Filter: Who's Libby? - #lgbtqia

Quickly flying in to post this (a day late). I’m mid-assignment, mid-editing, mid-grading, mid-everything except writing No Filter, but I’m still snipping from it today.

Brief story info:
No Filter is a crossover novella of the Hiding Behind The Couch and Checking Him Out series(es), featuring Libby (and others) from HBTC, and Matty (and others) from CHO.

This week’s snippet comes a few paragraphs after last week’s, where Matty had typed an email to Libby (whom he met in Hiding Out) and is waiting for Noah (his other half) to proofread it before he sends it.

WIPpet maths for 8th March:
8 question marks. I know, it’s pants, but my brain refuses to cooperate further.

And the WIPpet Snippet:
“Yeah, it’s [Matty’s email] OK,” Noah said, nodding and still looking at the screen. “Who’s Libby?”

Matty stopped mid-stretch, with his left foot behind his head. “You’re kidding me.”

Noah peered up through his eyebrows. “Nope. Oh, wait, is she the girl who…came to…that show back…whenever?”

Matty unhooked his foot and let it drop heavily to the floor. He marched over to the bed and snatched his phone back. “You ain’t actually got a clue, have you?”

For what it was worth, Noah grimaced guiltily. “No, sorry.”

“D’you remember my Starlight dance?”

The grimace flipped into a grin. “Yep. Not exactly gonna forget it, am I?”

“Oh, yeah? Well, while you’re all ‘I’m so special he created a dance for me’, can you remember how you found out?”

“Lauren told me.”


“She did,” Noah argued. “In the interval. I was outside, looking for you, and…” His words trailed off. “Lauren didn’t tell me.”


“I was sure…it was…” Noah rubbed his hair—or the black hair-shaped shadow—with his palm. It made a sound like a tiny saw. He looked totally bamboozled. “Jeez. Where the hell was my head at?”

“Up your arse,” Matty said, matter-of-fact, even though thinking back to their ‘break’ could still knock him sideways.

* * * * *

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Thursday, March 01, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - No Filter: Second Thoughts - #lgbtqia

It’s so cold here! Well, for England, at least. It’s been snowing and everything! Brrr.

Anyway, there’s my very British opening. :D I haven’t had much time for anything beyond editing for the past couple of weeks, but I did get a bit more writing done on No Filter, which is what I’m snipping from today.

Brief story info:
No Filter is a crossover novella of the Hiding Behind The Couch and Checking Him Out series(es), featuring Libby (and others) from HBTC, and Matty (and others) from CHO.

This week’s snippet continues from last week’s, where Matty had typed an email to Libby (whom he met in Hiding Out) and is waiting for Noah (his other half) to proofread it before he sends it.

WIPpet maths for 28th February:
2 paragraphs for this last day of the second month (not very complex, I know).

And the WIPpet Snippet:
They’d done the whole ‘don’t be a stranger’ thing and made promises to write or call, and Matty had thought about doing it lots of times, but between thinking it and getting to his laptop, he’d forget or decide it had been too long. He had Libby’s mobile number—he could’ve texted or called when it came into his head—but what if she had a boyfriend and he saw her phone? Then he’d ask ‘Who’s this Matty, then?’ and Libby would be put on the spot. It was too awkward, too risky.

So, here he was, a year and a half later: email typed, ready to send, and he wished he’d just hit the button and sent it, because he was starting to have doubts. What if she didn’t remember him? She’d turned his life around, no exaggeration, but that was something he’d learned the hard way as a kid—that someone could be mega important to him while he meant next to nothing to them. Some people had trouble dealing with that, but not Matty, because he also knew that when it was the right people, he mattered as much to them as they did to him, and the love was like new paint, covering up all the horrible stuff.

* * * * *

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Thursday, February 22, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - No Filter Take Two - #lgbtqia

Another crazy-busy week, but not in a bad way. :) It does mean I missed my Monday blog post yet again, although the way I’ve been ranting, it’s probably for the best.

Anyway, I’ve finally re-opened No Filter today, and the first thing I did was change it from first- to third-person. Why? Well, a couple of days ago, I put up a FB status about omniscient narration, which a few people responded to (including some, erm, helpful explanations of what omniscient narration is and is not).

I’m OK with any kind of narration—even head-hopping—if it suits the story. But readers generally have their favourites, and there will always be someone who isn’t happy with how the story is told. Well, they can always write their own story if they so wish.

Thanks to Bonita for reminding me that, in the end, “we need to satisfy that voice inside that tells us our choice is the right one!”

So, third-person it is. :)

Brief story info:
No Filter is a crossover novella of the Hiding Behind The Couch and Checking Him Out series(es), featuring Libby (and others) from HBTC, and Matty (and others) from CHO.

WIPpet maths for 22nd February:
(I'm a day late)
22/2 * 18 = 198 words

And the WIPpet Snippet:
“Will you check through this email?” Matty started reading over what he’d typed. No squiggly lines. That was a good sign. “Noo?” He glanced behind him. “Oh! He’s gone.”

Noah had been lying on the bed when Matty started typing, he wasn’t sure how long ago that was. Writing emails took all his concentration, but maybe autocorrect would be enough. If he’d thought about it, he’d have used his laptop, which had text-to-speech, because his phone wasn’t that clever, but it was done now.

I’ll just send it as it is—did I tell Libby I was dyslexic? I think I did.

He went to click send, wavered, and hit ‘save’ instead. Noah couldn’t have gone that far, and a few more minutes wouldn’t make any difference.

Matty couldn’t believe he’d left it so long to get in touch. Nearly a year and a half had passed since he’d shown Libby around campus and they’d exchanged email addresses. Taking prospective students on guided tours was part of his mentoring job, and he’d given plenty in the past three years, to lots of interesting young people from all walks of life, but he’d only swapped email addresses the once.

* * * * *

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Thursday, February 15, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - Goth of Christmas Past - The Circle MkII #amwriting #lgbtqia

All of the news!

I've been so busy this past couple of weeks, I didn't blog at all last week, and my house is wall-to-wall dog hair, but...

Goth of Christmas Past is written, and alpha-read! Thank you, lovely husband :) Nige is a sound/lighting tech, which is very helpful when it comes to feeding back on a story that extensively features a recording studio ('you mean haze, not smoke, never tell them it's smoke or they cough and complain', and 'why is he up a tower when they've got programmable lights?' and 'try re-patching cables instead...' and so on and so forth), except that now he wants a job there, LOL. It's also with the first beta-reader, who tells me it's got a good start. Cheers, Al. x That's...a good start! :)

My next mission—aside from 'hinting' that I need more beta-readers—is to come up with a series title. Why? Well, this is part of Hiding Behind The Couch, but it's kind of a spin-off too...HBTC TNG? Or something like that. Not. I'm thinking along the lines of 'Assets' but catchier. I have time to decide, anyway, but feel free to throw suggestions my way.

Also, I've been playing around with the new version of the cover, which is—hopefully—more 'New Adult'. Again, the illustration is the work of the super-talented Emma Pickering. No doubt, I'll tweak and refine a bit more before I finally settle on it being right.

Any readers of HBTC will know the series centres on a group of nine(ish) friends – The Circle: Josh, Shaunna, Dan, George, Adele, Kris, Eleanor, Andy, Jess and Sean. Krissi in Goth of Christmas Past is Shaunna's daughter, and Jay is Krissi's best friend.

The setup for this series is much the same: although Krissi and Jay are the central characters in GOCP, there is a broader group of friends/colleagues who will be more prominent in future stories. Probably. Depends on them, really. ;)

I've posted snippets featuring Krissi and Jay,'s time to meet someone else. This snippet features Karen Deakin, Krissi's former assistant manager, and Karen's wife Bridget. That's an L and a B, in case you're wondering.

As for maths...erm...there are fourteen letters in the first line?

“You didn’t cancel.”

“No, I—”

Karen ended the call quickly before she eavesdropped any further. That put a bit of a downer on the evening, and it hadn’t even begun yet. She was surprised at Krissi, and disappointed. They’d worked together for five years and been friends since the start. In all that time—even when Krissi was her manager—Karen had never known her to not speak her mind.

Bridget’s car pulled up outside, which stopped her dwelling on it for the time being; she’d have to say something to Krissi later, though, or she’d drive herself nuts.

“That off-licence is rubbish.” Bridget marched past on her way to the kitchen. “They don’t sell crates of beer.” She brusquely tugged two four-packs from the bag and shoved them into the fridge.

“That’ll be enough, though, won’t it?” Karen said. “Krissi’ll be driving. I’m not even sure Wotto drinks.” She tried to recall if he’d been on the beer at their wedding, but it was a bit hazy.

“For tonight, yeah. But it’s nice to have it in the house at this time of year.” She closed the fridge and turned to Karen with a suggestive grin. “Especially as you’re not breastfeeding anymore.”

There was that, she supposed.

Bridget kissed her on the way past. “Going for a shower.”

“OK.” Karen watched her leave and sighed. She wanted to still be breastfeeding, but Molly had never latched on properly, making it unbearably painful, and there was nobody offering support. Or that’s how it felt.

* * * * *

What is WIPpet Wednesday?

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Just because... #Valentine Hiding Behind The Couch

Not new material, or even a work in progress. It's Valentine's Day, which is also Josh's birthday, and it's been a busy couple of weeks. So here's an excerpt that's kind of a story in itself.

Bloody Valentine’s
14th February

Josh smiled, trying to disguise his unease with his current client—a man in his late fifties who, after twenty minutes of waffling about deaths in suspicious circumstances and violent gangland killings, had declared that he could see ghosts. But not any old ghosts. Oh no. Obviously, these were the ghosts of the victims, and in Josh’s head, he could hear them calling ‘Avenge my death!’ although these words had yet to pass the lips of his newest client. And he’d said he wasn’t going to take on any more. His phone vibrated against his leg for about the twentieth time in the past hour, and he shifted position. Ghosts. Good grief.

“When you say ‘see’, can you explain what you mean by that?”

“I don’t understand the question,” the man said. Mr. R. Forster. That was his name. No clues as to what the ‘R’ stood for.

“When the ‘ghosts’ make themselves visible to you, do you see actual people? Or do you just see lights, or—”

“Actual people,” Mr. Forster confirmed. “Full bodied, a bit wispy around the edges, but definitely people.”

“I see.” Josh’s phone vibrated again.

“Did you need to get that?” Mr. Forster asked.

“Oh, no. Sorry. It’s nothing important.” Josh smiled apologetically. He usually turned his phone off and put it away in the drawer, or left it in his jacket and hung that in the closet across the room, but today, he’d been typing a text message when Mr. Forster arrived, so he’d hastily shoved it in his trouser pocket, where it had been buzzing away ever since. “OK,” he said, “do these ‘ghosts’ talk to you, or can you just see them?”

“I can’t hear them, but they are talking. I can see their mouths moving.” Mr. Forster suddenly covered his face. “Oh God, it’s so terrible, the things these poor souls endure.” He uncovered his face again. “They’re screaming, crying out, unheard, across the void, calling for help.”

As a fruitcake. Josh’s phone vibrated again. He took it out, turned off the notifications and put it down on his desk. He glanced at the clock. Five minutes of this craziness left.

“Can you recall when these experiences first started?” he asked.

Mr. Forster pondered for a moment before he answered. “It’s been since the death of my wife.”

Josh started to make a note of this. “And when was that?” His phone screen lit up: call from Ellie. He turned it face down.

“Five years ago. Are you sure you wouldn’t like to answer your phone? It must be quite important, if they keep trying to call.”

“It’s not, I assure you.” Josh smiled—again. He was starting to get cramp in his jaw. “I understand this might be painful, and if it’s too painful, please don’t feel you have to answer. May I ask how your wife died?”

“She was killed in a car accident.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“She’s been visiting me ever since.”

“Did you ever have any bereavement counselling?”

“No. My doctor suggested it, but I told him I didn’t need it. She’s still with me, isn’t she?”

Josh shrugged. “Depends on your beliefs.”

“Do you believe in an afterlife?”

“I’d prefer not to comment. This is, after all, about you.”

“I do. And I believe that troubled spirits—the ones who were not ready to leave—get lost in between this world and the next. That’s where my wife is, and all the others calling out to me. I think she may be directing them towards me.”

Josh glanced at the clock again. Time up. He slid forward on his seat and uncrossed his legs.

“That must be some solace. That you feel your wife is helping other lost souls?”

“Yes.” Mr. Forster nodded. “I do take some comfort from it. However, I’m exhausted. I need to block them out, silence them. I’ve asked them to leave me alone, but they won’t listen. They just keep coming, again and again, ‘Avenge me! O, avenge me!’”

And there it is. Josh rubbed his nose, trying hard not to laugh. He cleared his throat.

“All right, Mr. Forster. We have another appointment booked for the same time next week, don’t we? That will give me time to consider our options, which we can discuss then. How does that sound?”

Mr. Forster stood up. He was distracted, as if watching something going on across the room. Josh couldn’t help himself; he glanced in the same direction and back at his client. Mr. Forster smiled and shook Josh’s hand.

“Thanks,” he said, indicating with a nod across the room. “My wife,” he explained. “She’s blowing out the candles on a birthday cake.”

“OK.” Josh could feel his eyes growing wide of their own accord.

“Is it your birthday?”


“She’s nodding to say it is.”

Josh laughed in disbelief and combed his fingers through his hair. “Yes,” he confirmed, “it’s my birthday.”

“Have a good one,” Mr. Forster said. “See you next week.”

And then he was gone, leaving Josh standing in the middle of his surgery with his mouth hanging open and wondering if he was staring rudely at—or right through—the invisible, late Mrs. Forster. He shook himself out of it and picked up his phone—lots and lots of text messages, missed calls, emails and online notifications—there was nothing like social networking to make one feel extraordinarily popular.

* * *

Excerpt from In The Stars Part I: Capricorn–Gemini (Hiding Behind The Couch Season 4)

Thanks for reading :)
Deb x

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - Goth of Christmas Past - And Without Hot Chocolate #amwriting #lgbtqia

WIPpet numbers for 31st January, 2018:
3+1 = 4 paragraphs  Goth of Christmas Past

WIPpet Context:
I’m still snipping Goth of Christmas Past. This follows more or less straight from last week’s snippet in which Jay was contemplating vending machine soup. Note (to explain the second paragraph): Hadyn has OCD, although he has just been handling a dusty Christmas tree…

Emma—my wonderful illustrator—has come up with a second version of Jay and Krissi, which is awesome, and now I’m in a dilemma whether to keep the original (pictured) or go with the new one. I think I know what to do, but I”d appreciate your thoughts.

QUESTION: Based on the current cover, what kind of story would you expect?

* * * * *

Here’s the snippet:
[Jay] “Is the hot chocolate working?”

“It was earlier.” Hadyn was already on his way upstairs and continued in a hasty but controlled manner all the way to the toilet.

Jay eyed the machine and then the coins in his hand. He’d either get a half-decent hot chocolate or lose 50p. He decided to risk it and fed three twenty-pence pieces into the slot. The display registered 40p. He added another 20p. The display remained unchanged. On the off-chance it was a glitch in that rather than the mechanism, he pressed the ‘dispense’ button. Please insert the correct amount. Jay hit the ‘return money’ button, but the machine wasn’t having that, either.

“Keep it,” he muttered and walked off before his fantasy of taking a sledgehammer to the thing became reality. He didn’t even want hot chocolate that much, but the choice would’ve been nice.
* * * * *

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Book Review: The Rose Thief by Claire Buss

Title: The Rose Thief
Author: Claire Buss
Publisher: CB Visions
Published: 10th November, 2017
ISBN: print: 1549982443 / ASIN: B076FT93YN

​Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher has a problem. Someone is stealing the Emperor's roses. But that's not the worst of it. In his infinite wisdom and grace, the Emperor magically imbued his red rose with love so if it was ever removed from the Imperial Rose Gardens then love will be lost, to everyone, forever. It's up to Ned and his band of motley catchers to apprehend the thief and save the day. But the thief isn't exactly who they seem to be, neither is the Emperor. Ned and his team will have to go on a quest defeating vampire mermaids, illusionists, estranged family members and an evil sorcerer in order to win the day. ​What could possibly go wrong?

What's the worst thing about reading a book like The Rose Thief? Not having the time to stay in bed all day and read, read, read until it's all gone. For that reason only, it has taken me two weeks to read, although I'll admit I did intentionally 'Oh, dear...I'm so tired, I simply cannot read anymore tonight' a couple of times to stretch it a little bit longer.

From that, you hopefully get a sense of how wonderful it is to become immersed in the world author Claire Buss has created. This is science fiction/fantasy with giggles - of the same ilk as Terry Pratchett and Tom Hot (who, for the longest time, was my favourite author). It's that mix of the extraordinary and the mundane, the sublime and the utterly disgusting. The characters are kind of ordinary people doing kind of ordinary jobs (well, apart from the Emperor, may he live for ever and ever), and there's magic.

Now, I'm no aficionado of magic in fiction. I've read a few boffin reviews that are full-scale critiques of how the author should have done this or shouldn't have done that. I don't care. If it works, it works, and The Rose Thief works brilliantly. I couldn't tell you how long it is without looking, but I can tell you the length is just right. There wasn't a single moment where I felt the story dragged or went too fast. Plot-wise, it's plausible and well-paced with a few little twists along the way, and the world-building just happens. I didn't even notice it, which is exactly how it should be.

As for the characters...well, that's my thing. I love character-driven fiction, and while The Rose Thief isn't really that, the characters are well fleshed out with distinct personalities, qualities and talents. Ned - our intrepid chief thief-catcher - is wonderfully humble and down-to-earth. Jenni - Ned's right-hand sprite - is singularly awesome (and maybe a bit stinky). She is my absolute favourite character in this story. I'll leave you to meet the rest of team for yourself. Think CSI on LSD?

All in all, this is a fantastic novel, and there's at least one more story from this world in the pipeline, which means I'm off now to sign up for Claire Buss's newsletter so I can get in line to one-click that beastie as soon as it shows its face.

About Claire Buss:
​​​​Claire Buss is a science fiction, fantasy and contemporary writer based in the UK. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict, Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 setting her writing career in motion.

The Gaia Effect, the winner of the Favourite Fantasy/Sci-Fi book Raven Award, was published in 2016 and Tales from Suburbia in 2017. Claire has short stories in sci-fi & fantasy anthologies Tales from the Underground and Quantum Soul. Her latest novel, The Rose Thief, a humorous fantasy, is out now.

Website: (From here, you can read the first chapter.)
Buy The Rose Thief: (Kindle/KU; paperback)

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Sunday, January 28, 2018

HBTC Box Sets - an Andy moment #RainbowSnippets #LGBT

I'm posting as part of Rainbow Snippets, which 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.

At the tail end of December, I said I'd try to post more regularly to Rainbow Snippets, but then a spider chomped me, and there was just so much life happening. So, more realistically, I'm going to aim to get in at least one post a month.

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Last time, I posted from To Be Sure, which is a novella from the Hiding Behind The Couch series. I'm not posting from it today, because I have a (kind of) new release available (on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited) that incorporates To Be Sure and Red Hot Christmasthe novella I'm snipping from.

I'll come back to that after the snippet, because the context for my choice is actually a conversation on a thread on the Rainbow Snippets page, where I mentioned that Andy (from the series) is pansensual.

For today, I wanted to snip from a story that includes Andy, expresses an aspect of his pansensuality and does not revolve around an M/M or F/F romance. Thus, even though the two characters in this scene are bisexual and pansensual, they are not romantically involved with each other. What they have in common is lifelong friendship and strong feelings towards the same woman.

Beyond that, I'm not going to attempt explaining all the events that lead to this particular moment, but directly preceding it, Kris tried to intimidate Andy and it involved some really shady sex talk (it's complicated, as you'll discover when you read the series, or already know if you have read it ;) ).

Kris is building up to an apology, and complimented Andy's good looks along the way.

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The Snippet:
[Andy] “I’m kind of flattered, if I’m honest.”

That didn’t ease Kris’s embarrassment. Trying to make light of it, he said, “Well, you’re safe, I promise you. You’re actually not the sort of guy I usually fall for, but that is one hell of a…fear response.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Andy grumbled. Danger excited him, a little too much.

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The New Release!

The new release is a box set of the first ten novellas and short stories in the Hiding Behind The  Couch series. NOTE: these stories fall in between the main novels (or 'seasons') and there are also other full-length novels. It might help to think of it like a TV series with seasons plus special episodes about specific characters, events, holidays, etc. Most work as stand-alone stories, but will make more sense in context.

The novellas/short stories box set includes the prequel Beginnings, but if you're going to read the series in order, you might also want to pick up Hiding Behind The Couch Box Set One.

Both box sets are available on Amazon only (including Kindle Unlimited). All of the stories are available separately from various vendors. Links can be found on each book's page on Beaten Track Publishing.

Box Sets on Amazon (Kindle):
To help you navigate the series, there's a diagram and suggested reading orders on the HBTC Timeline page, but here's the start of it and the volume in which you'll find each story:
  • Beginnings (both)
  • Ruminations (Box Set One)
  • Class-A (can be left until much later) (Novellas/Short Stories)
  • Hiding Behind The Couch (Season #1) (Box Set One)
  • No Time Like The Present (Season #2) (Box Set One)
  • The Harder They Fall (Season #3) (Box Set One)
  • Crying in the Rain (Box Set One)
  • First Christmas (both)

Box Set Two will be out in the next month or so, and includes Seasons #4 and #5 (In The Stars Part I and In The Stars Part II—already available separately).

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Thanks for reading,
Deb x