Monday, December 31, 2018

To all the books I wrote this year... (2018 roundup)

In 2018, I wrote 214,592 words. :)

That's not a bad total word count for the year, but it's my lowest since 2012, and the six years since are in almost perfect negative correlation with the output of Beaten Track Publishing. That's an achievement, of course. I love my job. However, with that realisation comes the closest I'm getting to a New Year's resolution: in 2019, I'll spend less time on publishing and more on writing.

That brings my writing career total to 3,214,424 words (!), consisting of:

  • 25 novels
  • 12 novellas
  • 12 short stories
  • several works in progress

In case you missed any…with links…

Deb's books published in 2018


Edited to add: my favourites to write were The Great Village Bun Fight because it was so much fun to write a bit of nonsense humour (even though I didn't manage to ditch the politics entirely) and The Advent of Reason because it's the first time in three years or more where the story just flowed. I had a lot of fun writing that too!

Box Sets (Kindle/Kindle Unlimited):


If you read my stories...thank you very much. You are lovely.
If you don't...well, you're probably lovely too. ;)

To 2019! Onwards...
Deb x

Sunday, December 23, 2018

New Release: The Advent of Reason

20th December, 2018

A weekend in an ancient castle and a murder-mystery game that becomes all too real. It’s safe to say Josh’s plans for a romantic anniversary with George are not turning out the way he’d hoped.

In spite of his cynicism, and his promise not to embark on any more life-threatening pursuits for answers, when one of the guests turns up dead, Josh can’t help but put his talents to use to solve the murder.

The Advent of Reason is a (more or less) stand-alone 47,000-word novella-length character special in the Hiding Behind The Couch series.

Purchase Links
Beaten Track: Ebook • Paperback
Amazon: Ebook • Paperback
iBooksBarnes and NobleSmashwordsKoboGoogle Play

“Oh, God. That’s a long way down.” Josh backed away from the panoramic window fronting Gabby’s third-floor studio.

She laughed, but not at him, he didn’t think, and came to stand by his side. “You do realise you were this far up last night?”

“Ah, but I couldn’t see that, could I?”

“That makes a difference?”

“It did last night.” It wouldn’t now he knew. “So the solarium is in the east wing?”

“Correct. At the top of the other turret.”

“You have turrets?”

“We used to. The house was rebuilt in 1661 and again in 1863, after the east turret fell off.”

Josh gulped audibly.

“It’s all right,” Gabby comforted. “Architecturally, they’re towers now and go all the way to the ground.”

“Just as long as we don’t,” Josh muttered, although it wasn’t so bad if he stayed back from the windows, and the view was absolutely stunning. “Has this always been a studio?”

“Since the late 1700s, yes, but not in my lifetime—until now.”

“But—” Josh clamped his teeth together. He’d promised to behave himself this weekend.

“I’m an artist?” Gabby guessed. Josh nodded mutely. She sighed. “Let me finish up here, I’ll order some coffee and then we’ll talk.” She quickly typed into her phone and continued with what she’d been doing when he arrived: setting easels in a semicircle in front of the windows.

“Can I help?”

“Hmm…bring those over?” She pointed to a stack of Perspex paint palettes in the centre of the floor. Josh collected them and left one on each of the stools Gabby had placed in front of the easels.

“I’m sorry if I said the wrong thing,” Josh said, glancing up from what he was doing.

“You didn’t say anything.”

“I was going to.”

“Yes, and you’re right to question it, but there are things I’ve never told you about why my parents were so insistent I study law, or, should I say, were so against me becoming an artist.”

“Art therapy and creative art are entirely different animals,” Josh argued. Quite why he thought he needed to when he was talking to an art therapist…well, he didn’t need to.

“Indeed they are, and I do believe my father finally understands the distinction. But you know how it is. Superstition can override reason in the best of us.”

Josh didn’t agree; he wasn’t in the least superstitious, but he held his tongue, aware that such a statement was also a value judgement of Gabby’s admission, and he wanted neither to offend her nor jeopardise his chances of hearing what was sure to be a story full of the kind of intrigue he loved, as opposed to the awful pantomime this evening’s murder mystery would prove to be.

Monday, December 03, 2018

The Lost Mitten and the New Son-in-Law

So, I haven't blogged for a few weeks, and I'd like to blame my youngest daughter's wedding.

I'd like to, but I can't.

She and her new husband (who made me cry so many times on their happy day it's just untrue - I never used to be such a soft sh*te! And I mean happy tears) pretty much organised everything themselves. I say 'pretty much' because I know my eldest daughter as maid of honour worked her socks off putting the hen party together, and I'm guessing the best man did the same for the stag do.

Anyway, the short version: amazing day. The hotel was stunning. The food was awesome. The music was brilliant. Most importantly, the bride, groom and their entire wedding party were utterly gorgeous. I'm hoping she won't mind me sharing this photo as it's online already...

The littluns weren't that serious all day. :)

~ • ~ • ~

Also on the same day (and yes, I was told off for it), I released my first ever children's book - The Lost Mitten - under the pen name J.S. Morley. The reason I went with a pen name is that I've written some fairly adult stuff, and while I'm sure my adult readers will enjoy The Lost Mitten just as much as the children, that doesn't hold true in reverse.

My daughter (pictured) read the story to my eldest grandson (on the right):

Daughter: Who's on the cover?
Grandson: Me.

And, well, it's an awesome coincidence, but I think he's on to something!

The Lost Mitten is an illustrated classic-style children's story - suitable for children of all ages, and it's available in hardcover, paperback and ebook formats.

~ • ~ • ~

I'm currently working on a novella/short novel I started writing for NaNoWriMo, which is a Christmas(sy) story featuring Josh and George from Hiding Behind The Couch. If I finish it in a timely fashion, I'll release it this Christmas. I think I've finally buffed the cover into shape too, so here it is:

I took part in a 'five things about your work-in-progress' tag thingy on Facebook and Twitter today, which might just have given me the basics for the blurb.

1. Josh and George at (almost) Christmastime
2. Thundersnow!
3. A castle
4. A cursed room
5. A murder mystery

I'll post about this again soon!

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Saturday, November 17, 2018

My Dream Woman #Audiobook #PressRelease #UrbanFantasy #LGBTQ

My Dream Woman, written by C H Clepitt and Narrated by Natalie Husdan is available now as an audiobook.

When your dreams are real there’s nowhere to escape!

Andi is just holding it together. Working two jobs means she doesn’t need to rely on anyone, but doesn’t have much of a life. In her dreams, however, she is a hero: battling monsters and saving innocents. When her dream woman turns out to be very real, Andi’s life begins to spiral out of control.

Step into an exciting urban fantasy that will have you on the edge of your seat. Think The Book of Abisan, only sexier!

Author’s Note:
I loved writing My Dream Woman and was thrilled with the response it received from readers. Hearing it brought to life was absolutely amazing, and Natalie Husdan does a superb job - every single character sounds just as I imagined them. I could not be more pleased with the finished version.

Narrator’s Note:
My Dream Woman was so enjoyable to narrate because there were numerous different characters to voice and the writing switches continuously between the real world and the dream world of the main character Andi. The action scenes were fast-paced, exciting and frequently humorous, something I've not voiced before and I found the attraction and love story that grew between Andi and Dionne quite unique and moving. Anyone into romantic, action or fantasy fiction will enjoy My Dream Woman; it's a fluid read with a satisfying ending that leaves you wanting to read more in the series.

Find out more and Listen to a sample here:

My Review (eBook):
Brilliant. Gutted I only made it last three days. :( Delighted it's book one and book two came out this week [4th August, 2018]. :) The kind of story I wish I'd written. Perfect for TV (it would be an amazing series).

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - Murder at the Bingo Hall - Missing Mate

It's WIPpet Wednesday... :)

Brief Context
This is a first snippet from my NaNoWriMo WIP, Murder at the Bingo Hall, which is all Andrea's always. ;) This actually started out as her creation.

The story features Iris (George's mum) and her friend Pauline, who are both bingo regulars and also cleaners at the bingo hall. That's where this story begins.

WIPpet Maths for Wednesday 14th November, 2018
14 x 11 = 154 words

And the WIPpet Snippet:
There was nothing else for it; Iris finished the row of tables she was on, dumped the bag of rubbish and marched back upstairs to the foyer and pushed the toilet door open.

“Paul? You in there, love?”

No response was forthcoming, or none she heard. She cocked her head and listened.


Still not a peep. Iris released the door and set off for the main entrance, which was the only external exit Pauline could use without giving away that she was skiving.

“Oy, we’re a long way off done, you know,” Iris said as she stepped outside, catching her breath in the chilly air. The wind was bitter and blowing rain right in her face, making it hard to see, but not so hard she’d have missed Pauline had she been out there. Truth be told, no-one in their right mind would stay out there longer than need be. It was Baltic.

* * * * *

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Monday, November 12, 2018

Review: Drumbeat by A.M. Leibowitz

I realised today that I still haven't reviewed Drumbeat, which is shocking. It's been out for... [goes to look...cough] a while. OK, September 1st, it was released, and it was a while before that when I read it, because I struck lucky and got to beta-read. I honestly don't know what the process is like for other beta-readers, but for me it's like getting books on super early pre-release AND getting the chance to talk about the characters and events with the author. A private fan convention, essentially. I love it!

Drumbeat is the third book in A.M. Leibowitz's Notes from Boston series, and I've got to say before I get into talking about the story itself, I love these covers so much. How much? I've got them up onscreen as I type. They're exactly right for the series and for each story.

The observant will notice the series title and the book titles are music-themed, and the characters are all somehow connected to the performing arts (as well as to each other). In Drumbeat, we meet (again) Jamie, who is...a drummer (badum-tish) and Cian who is a hot Irish-American bi guy. Um, I mean, he's a dancer. Yes, that's what I meant.

Now, my job and hobby are such that I've read a few romances over the years. Not hundreds, but enough to get the gist of a few common tropes, and you can forget about those straight off. No friends to lovers going on here (or not between Jamie and Cian, at least). No enemies to lovers either. More a fairly ambivalent tumble into something that is more meaningful because it's natural and necessary. The challenges Jamie and Cian face independently are not instantly fixed by them coming together. Instead, there is a commitment to each other that is more than 'we met, fell for each other, the end'. While romance is in the mix, there is friendship, understanding, compassion, learning to communicate, acceptance. They're not 'perfect' for each other, and there are many obstacles still to be surpassed when we leave their story behind, but there's a definite rightness to what they have.

And there's also Sage. Bloody Sage. I almost wish there was a reason why he's such a sh*t, because it might stop me wanting to smush his face in every time I think of him. (Or boil him in a pan? That could work...) I get the same feeling when I meet people like him in RL, which I guess says it all. A.M. Leibowitz has captured the essence of...Sageness brilliantly. Pity he's an asshole, though. Sage is a lovely name. Still, I suppose everyone deserves one redeeming feature.

Each NfB novel (so far) focuses on two (or more) key characters, but it's really an ensemble cast, and anyone who's read books one and two will recognise many familiar names - Trevor, Andre (sigh), Marlie, Mack, Nate, Izzy...amazing, diverse characters and relationships. It's refreshing to read books like these with actual LGBTQ+ characters. The settings will also be familiar - I have somewhere a sketch of the club that I made while reading. The place is so vivid in my mind, I'm there with the guys, in this instance mostly watching Cian and his dancers. Obviously. Obsessed? Nooo... [whistles nonchalantly]

I could go on all day, but I'll wind it up here by saying Drumbeat, like Anthem and Nightsong, is a stand-alone story, and the author has a knack for minimising spoilers, so you could just pick up Drumbeat and go back later for Anthem and Nightsong, because you surely will.

I've linked the books' titles to the publisher's pages, but here are some more links for where you can buy Drumbeat:

Amazon • Barnes and Noble • Kobo • iBooks

Monday, October 29, 2018

Sparkly Badgers Ghost Hunt #giveaway #books

Be brave and grab your torches - 
it's time for the Sparkly Badgers' Ghost Hunt!

Find all the ghosts, collect all the letters and submit the spooky phrase to enter the prize draw and win sweets and books.

Everyone who enters gets to choose a book prize but only one lucky hunter will go away with every eBook.

Good luck and happy ghost hunting!

For clues, visit the Facebook Event Page:

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - Alumni: Sturdy Door

It's WIPpet Wednesday... :)

Brief Context
This is another snippet from Alumni (HBTC #8). At the end of Reunions (HBTC #7), Josh was stuck in the loft, having gone up there to investigate some psychic tools Dan had discovered earlier. In this snippet, he’s still sitting on the lip of the loft hatch, and he’s called Dan—I skipped forward a bit.

WIPpet Maths for Wednesday 24th October, 2018
18 x 10 – 24 = 156 words

And the WIPpet Snippet:
A series of thuds, loud and likely emanating from a fist, echoed up the stairwell while a torrent of foul language poured out of Josh’s phone.

“I can’t pick this, this…stupid…” There was another loud thump followed by a muted roar. “That’s it. I’m calling the locksmith,” Dan said.

“No!” The word was out before Josh could check himself, and he scrabbled to take his phone off speaker. “I don’t want a locksmith.”

“The guy’s not cheap, but he’s good,” Dan contended, mistaking Josh’s petulance for miserliness, but the cost was irrelevant; he simply could not take more ridicule, albeit that what he’d endured so far was his own. His curiosity had made a fool of him, and his pride had ensured he’d had plenty of time to reflect.

“Have you tried shouldering it?”

“Are you having a laugh? They’ve got flimsier doors on Fort Knox.”

It was a very sturdy door, Josh had to agree.

* * * * *

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, October 17, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - Alumni: Disappointed

It's WIPpet Wednesday... :)

Brief Context
This is another snippet from Alumni (HBTC #8). At the end of Reunions (HBTC #7), Josh was stuck in the loft, having gone up there to investigate some psychic tools Dan had discovered earlier. In this snippet, he’s still sitting on the lip of the loft hatch, and he’s accepted he’s not getting down on his own.

WIPpet Maths for Wednesday 17th October
17 - 10 = 7
This is from p61 of my manuscript.
6 + 1 = 7
(Yes, I know it’s really convoluted…)

And the WIPpet Snippet:
“Mr. Sandison. Gordon Baines here.”

Oh, thank all that is… “Hey, Gordon. Thanks for returning my call. I was…erm…wondering if, perchance, you still have a set of keys to the building?”

“Keys to the building…” Baines sucked his teeth, the noise crackly and distorted against Josh’s ear. He moved the phone away and continued listening on loud speaker. “I might be wrong, but I think I only had the two sets I gave to you. Have you lost them?”

“Erm… Not lost them, as such, more…I’m locked in.”

“Oh? I had the locks checked before I put the building on the market.”

“Yes, and I’m sure the locks are all working fine.”

“Right, so what exactly do you mean by locked in?”

“I, erm… It’s complicated.” It always worked when George said it. “Can you help me or not?” Josh was being bolshy, but he’d apologise later. Anything to get him out of his predicament.

“If I’ve got them, they’ll be in the safe. I’ll pop and have a look and call you straight back.”

“It’s OK, I’ll wait on the—agh! The bloody bleep again! Please, please have another set.”

Josh wasn’t optimistic—about anything, ever, but particularly on this occasion—thus he had no justification for being so utterly disappointed when Gordon called back and confirmed the only two sets of keys to the first floor of the building were, as he’d said, in Josh’s possession. Or, in fact, several feet downwards and to the left of his possession.

“Damn it!”

Back to his contacts, no more horsing around. He hit the call button.

* * * * *

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, October 10, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - Alumni: What Goes Up...

It's WIPpet Wednesday... :)

Brief Context
This is another snippet from Alumni (HBTC #8). At the end of Reunions (HBTC #7), Josh was stuck in the loft, having gone up there to investigate some psychic tools Dan had discovered earlier. I’ve been trying to figure out for ages how to get Josh down again, and I've done it.

But first, here he is, sitting on the lip of the loft hatch, and he’s accepted he’s not getting down on his own.

WIPpet Maths
10 paragraphs for the 10th of the 10th.

And the WIPpet Snippet:
Josh opened his contacts list and scrolled. Adele…no. If she sets eyes on this lot—he glowered at the attic stash—she’ll think all her Christmases have come at once. Andy…he’ll have me abseiling my way out. Would that be so bad? A quick downwards glance assured him it would. Baines Property Services…potentially. He mentally bookmarked Baines and continued scrolling through friends and business contacts, imagining the scenario for each, all of them horrific, leaving him with a shortlist of two, neither of which he was eager to try.

Dan or Gordon Baines. Dan. Gordon Baines. He’d have flipped a coin if he’d had one to hand. Lesser of two evils? Hard to say, but probably Gordon. Embarrassing as it was to have his ex-landlord come and rescue him from the top of a stepladder of only moderate height, Josh could no longer feel his legs. He made the call.

“Good afternoon, Baines Property.”

“Good afternoon. Would it be possible to speak to Gordon, please?”

“Who’s calling?”

“Josh Sandison.”

“One moment, please.” He was put on hold—no music, mercifully—and then the same voice came back on the line. “Mr. Baines is in a meeting and asked me to tell you he’d call back shortly.”

Josh held in his cry of anguish. “OK. Thank you. Please do tell him it’s rather urgent.”

“I’ll be sure to let him know.”

There was a bleep in Josh’s ear. He moved his phone away and stared, horrified, at the ‘call ended’ notification. The fingers of his other hand—clinging tightly to the lip of the loft hatch—were aching, and he had cramp in his buttocks from keeping them tensed for so long, but there was no floor in the loft, and if he tumbled backwards…

“Now, there’s an idea.” It would certainly get him down quickly.

* * * * *

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, September 26, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - Meredith's Dagger #bivisibilityday

Well, my writing is not going well even though I’m on a writing holiday (at home). So far, there’s nothing in Alumni that is a) right for Bi Awareness Week, and b) suitable for a blog that can be accessed by people of all ages.

Brief Story Info:
For WIPpet Wednesday, I’m posting from one of my longest-standing works in progress (I wrote it in 2011) in the hopes it might inspire me to do some more work on it. The story is titled Meredith’s Dagger, and it’s contemporary fiction with historical interludes (based on real local history), a bit of romance thrown in and some feminist commentary on mental health, witch hunts and modern psychiatry. (Yes, I’m that good at sticking to a genre).

The setting is a university town house shared by Julian and Richie, both students, Anneka (she and Richie are long-term buddies) and Tamara (Tam), who is Julian’s older sister and bisexual. There’s a long history between Richie and Tam—much longer than either is aware of.

This novel needs a major rewrite, but the scene from which my snippet is taken will make the final cut.

And Richie and Tam look at bit like this:

WIPpet Maths for 26th September:
26-12=14 paragraphs.

And here’s the WIPpet Snippet:
Richie opened the door and let the cat go in first.

“You know anything about sexing cats?” he asked, expecting to find Julian sprawled out on the sofa.

“I might do. Why?”

Not Julian. A female voice, and he recognised it immediately.

“Tamara? What’re you doing here?”

“Well, I could lie—tell you I just happened to be passing by and thought I’d pop in to say hi to my little brother…”

Richie was torn between averting his eyes from the scantily clad woman who had been the object of his adolescent fantasies and the desire to drink in every inch of her wonderful being. She and Julian had the same dark hair, grey eyes and slightly cleft chin, which put him in quite a predicament. He felt himself getting hot under the collar as she returned his gaze with a playful smirk.

“Come to think of it, what are you doing here?” She swung her bare legs off the sofa and sprang, dancer-like, to her feet.

“I live here.” Richie inflected his response as part question, part statement of fact.

“Interesting.” Tam reached down into the large white bag on the floor in front of her, withdrew a softpack of cigarettes, took one out and lit it, all in one carefully choreographed move.

“Why interesting?” Richie asked. He was transfixed and saw no reason to hide it. There was no rule against flirting with a Denby…he hoped.

“The thing is, Richie…” She paused to draw on the cigarette and exhaled sharply. “It is Richie, isn’t it?” He confirmed with a nod, and she laughed. “I haven’t forgotten your name or anything. I just wasn’t sure what you preferred these days. But anyway, what I was going to say was you’re not really the type one imagines Jules choosing as a roomie, although…” She paused again to inhale from the cigarette, propped it in the ashtray—an object they didn’t have when Richie left for the supermarket—and tiptoed around him.

Richie remained still apart from turning his head to maintain eye contact. “Although?”

“You grew up.” She breathed the words onto his neck as she came around his side. Her hair brushed against his arm.

* * * * *

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Red Lion Pub Quiz (as featured in In The Stars Part I: Capricorn–Gemini)

The Red Lion Pub Quiz

Good evening, ladies and gents, and welcome to tonight’s quiz, brought to you by yours truly, with a little help from the internet. We’ve got eight rounds, and you can play your joker to double your points on anything but the Music round.

(Answers at the end)

Round 1: Cryptic
(UK soccer teams)
1. White birds spot city
2. Workers, smart with sun-god
3. Glass mansion
4. They roam in packs
5. Keepers of the royal lawns
6. An offal lot of water
7. Flowery buns
8. Not your average Womble
9. His urban settlement
10. All the bacon

Round 2: A Man's World
(answers start with man-)
1. A hard, brittle, greyish-white metallic element, atomic number 25
2. A variety of beet cultivated for cattle food
3. The strongest and lowest bone in the human face
4. Dressmaker's dummy
5. Creature of Persian mythology
6. The juicy fruit of the Garcina mangostana tree
7. To free from slavery
8. A ghostly appearance
9. Shackles
10. Light yellow-brown paper

Round 3: Connections
(all answers are connected in some way)
1. Of the 26 men who have won the Olympic 100m in athletics, fifteen have shared the same nationality. What nationality?
2. Who, along with Bill Oddie, co-presented the BBC's Autumnwatch?
3. What was the name of William Wordsworth's Lake District home?
4. Which gourd-like squash is commonly used during autumn time to make lanterns?
5. Which glam rock band of the 70s was best known for the song 'Tiger Feet'?
6. Who played the roles of Jerry and Daphne in the film Some Like it Hot?
7. Who had hits in the 80s with 'Caribbean Queen' and 'When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going'?
8. Havarti and Monterey jack are both varieties of which type of food?
9. Name the record label founded by The Beatles in 1968.
10. And the connection is?

Round 4: Dogs
(all answers include the word 'dog')
1. Hailing from a German city
2. Novel by Frederick Forsyth
3. Song by the Baha Men
4. Rules set and assumed incontrovertibly true
5. Small sharks
6. Comic verse with an irregular rhythm
7. Tenacious
8. Curled pages
9. Mischief
10. A leaflike pattern found in mediaeval architecture

Round 5: Music

Round 6: Science Fiction
1. Which part did Deforest Kelley play in the TV series Star Trek?
2. Who played the third incarnation of the Doctor in the TV series Doctor Who?
3. What was the name of the computer in the cult TV series, Blake’s 7?
4. In Star Wars Episode Four, what was the major battle of the Galactic Civil War in which the Rebels destroyed the first Death Star?
5. To date, how many different incarnations of Star Trek have there been?
6. In what car does Michael J Fox go back to the future?
7. What is the other title of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein?
8. What do the initials in H.G. Wells stand for?
9. Which movie features a space ship called the Nostromo?
10. The movie I, Robot was based on a collection of stories from which famous science fiction writer?

Round 7: Science Fact
1. Which element takes the form of a liquid at normal room temperature?
2. Which scientific word means 'disease producer'?
3. What does a DNA molecule look like?
4. What is the study of insects called?
5. What percentage of the earth is covered by water?
6. The study of celestial bodies is know as...?
7. Christiaan Huygens is known for the invention of what?
8. What is the name of the white crystalline alkaloid derived from opium?
9. What is the more common name for nitrous oxide?
10. Where in the human body is the lunula located?

Round 8: General Knowledge
1. Muhammad Ali's professional boxing record was 56 wins, 5 losses, 0 draws. Name one of the five boxers who defeated Ali in the ring.
2. What was the name of the longest ship in the world between 1858 and 1899?
3. From the Greek for 'all the devils', which uproarious name did 17th century English poet John Milton give to the capital city in Hell?
4. Who directed all of the following films? Cocoon, Willow, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code.
5. From brewing, dentistry and the E numbers used in food, the polymer obtained from red algae is wide spread in modern industry. What is the name of this gelatinous substance? First letter 'A'.
6. The Godfather in Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather was born in which Italian village?
7. Name one of the four studio albums from The Rolling Stones that start with the letter 'B'.
8. Pavlov's dog was the name of a famous experiment. Which animal added to the name Shrödinger's is also a famous experiment?
9. Vodka ia a diminutive of the Slavic word voda. What does voda mean?
10. Which Australian cricketer famously used an aluminium bat in a test match against England in 1979?

END OF QUIZ ROUNDS - time to race to the bar for a pint of glorious ale!
Answers further down - scroll, scroll, scroll...

Round 1: Cryptic
1. Swansea
2. Crewe Alexandra
3. Crystal Palace
4. Wolverhampton Wanderers
5. Queens Park Rangers
6. Liverpool
7. Chelsea
8. Wimbledon
9. Man. City
10. Fulham

Round 2: A Man's World
1. manganese
2. mangel
3. mandible
4. mannequin
5. manticore
6. mangosteen
7. manumit
8. manifestation
9. manacles
10. Manila

Round 3: Connections
2. Kate HUMBLE
5. MUD
6. Jack LEMMON
7. Billy OCEAN
10. PIE

Round 4: Dogs
1. hot dog
2. Dogs of War
3. Who Let The Dogs Out
4. Dogma
5. Dogfish
6. Doggerel
7. Dogged
8. Dogeared
9. Doggery
10. dogtooth

Round 5: Music
1. Aerosmith - Don't wanna miss a thing
2. Toploader - Dancing in the moonlight
3. Guns 'n Roses - Sweet child o' mine
4. Bon Jovi - Livin' on a prayer
5. Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk ft. Bruno Mars
6. Dead or Alive - You spin me round (like a record)
7. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Proud Mary
8. Ed Sheeran - I see fire
9. Rolling Stones - Start me up
10. Wheatus - Teenage Dirtbag
11. Bastille - Pompeii
12. The Bangles - Walk like an Egyptian
13. Heart - Crazy on you
14. Earth, Wind & Fire - September
15. Derek and the Domino's - Layla
16. Beyonce - Halo
17. Van Halen - Jump
18. Michael Jackson - Ben
19. Taylor Swift - Love Story
20. Genesis - Jesus He knows me
21. Missy Elliot - Get Ur Freak On
22. Shawn Mendes - Treat you Better
23. Queen - Another one bites the dust
24. Backstreet Boys - Everybody
25. Pat Benatar - Hit me with your best shot

Round 6: Science Fiction
1. Doctor McCoy
2. John Pertwee
3. Zen
4. Naboo
5. 7: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and Discovery
6. De Lorean
7. The Modern Prometheus
8. Herbert George
9. Alien
10. Isaac Asimov

Round 7: Science Fact
1. mercury
2. pathogen
3. double helix
4. entomology
5. 71%
6. astronomy
7. pendulum clock
8. morphine
9. laughing gas
10. fingernail

Round 8: General Knowledge
1. Trevor Berbick, Larry Holmes, Leon Spinks, Ken Norton, and Joe Frazier
2. S.S. Great Eastern
3. Pandemonium
4. Ron Howard
5. Agar or Agar-agar
6. Corleone
7. Between the Buttons, Beggars Banquet, Black and Blue, and Bridges to Babylon
8. Cat
9. Water
10. Dennis Lillee

Round 3 (Connections) and Round 8 (General Knowledge): PaulsQuiz
Round 4 (Music Intros): Music Quiz (YouTube Channel)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - Alumni: In The Spirit

It's WIPpet Wednesday again. :)

I've been staying at my mum's for the past week, looking after/being looked after by this fine chap. Now I'm home, and my dogs don't care one way or the other. The cat seems pleased I'm here, though.

I didn't get much writing done this week, more focused on audiobooks and getting everything in place for the release of Goth of Christmas Past next month. I've almost made a video trailer, and preordering is in progress. I also managed to add a little bit more to Alumni.

Brief story info:
Alumni is Season Eight of Hiding Behind The Couch, and obviously has some elements of the characters coming face-to-face with old acquaintances from university and the like (readers of the series might recognise a name or two in the snippet).

This follows from last week's snippet; Genie has called on Xander—a long-term friend who purportedly sees ghosts—to get to the bottom of strange goings-on in her home.

WIPpet maths for 19th September:
19x12=228 words.

And the WIPpet Snippet:
“Can I get you a drink, Xander?”

“Scotch, no ice.”

“Of course. Come through to the drawing room.” She moved off, glancing back to check he was following. “I haven’t seen you in years. It would be nice to catch up.”

“Nice,” Xander repeated. “Yes, it would be nice, but you asked me here to look into your…”

“Poltergeist?” Genie opened the drinks cabinet and eyed the line of bottles of Scotch. “Do you have a preferred brand?”

“Ardbeg. You won’t have any.”

“No, you’re quite right. I’m a wine drinker myself.”

“I drink wine.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’ve done so before. Many times.”

“But if you’d rather have whisky…”

“Choose me a drink and pour it. Please.”

“As you wish.” Genie picked up the bottle of red she’d opened at lunchtime and retrieved two clean glasses, watching Xander out of the corner of her eye. He was soundlessly clicking his fingers and circling, inspecting the room.

“When did you move into this house?” he asked.

“Thirteen years ago. It belonged to my grandmother. When she died, I bought it from my father.”

“You didn’t inherit it from your grandmother?”

“No, I—”

“Did she die here?”

“No. On the way to the hospital. Why? Do you think—”

“She’s not your…poltergeist. How old is your daughter? Seventeen?”

Genie had already answered the question, but confirmed it again.

* * * * *

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Audiobooks coming soon: The Great Village Bun Fight; Of The Bauble

Today, I've been playing around with different video editing programmes, both on and offline, and in the process made a trailer for the audiobook of Of The Bauble even though we (the narrator and I) are still finalising the recordings.

So I won't be sharing that trailer just yet.


I figured it was time to announce the audiobooks. :)

The Great Village Bun Fight is somewhere between ACX's file storage system and the retailers, so it should appear on Audible, Amazon and iTunes with the next couple of weeks.

Of The Bauble (as mentioned) is undergoing a few final tweaks before we submit it to ACX for approval.

My narrator for both books is Jack Hardman, who describes his accent as "[not] so northern that it is difficult to understand, but is common enough sounding that it isn't alienating to people outside of the London area."

I'm inclined to agree, which is why he is the perfect narrator for both stories.

I'll post again when the audiobooks are available. In the meantime, you can get the ebook/paperback editions to both by clicking on the titles above.

Once these are out, I'll have three audiobooks available, the other one being When Skies Have Fallen, narrated by Tim Hilborne (again, perfect for the story).

Download/purchase links can be found on the Beaten Track Publishing listing for each title.

Thanks for reading (and listening),
Deb x

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

#WIPpet Wednesday - Alumni: Discretion

Two WIPpet Wednesdays in a row, woohoo! I'm on a roll and snippeting from Alumni again.

Brief story info:
Alumni is Season Eight of Hiding Behind The Couch, and obviously has some elements of the characters coming face-to-face with old acquaintances from university and the like (readers of the series might recognise a name or two in the snippet).

This follows from last week's snippet; Genie has called on Xander—a long-term friend who purportedly sees ghosts—to get to the bottom of strange goings-on in her home.

WIPpet maths for 12th September:
12 paragraphs for the 12th.

And the WIPpet Snippet:
“You will keep it to yourself, won’t you?”

Xander marched across the room and stopped a few feet from her location. No eye contact. She remembered now. He’d been just the same when they were children.

“His Lordship doesn’t speak to anyone,” Jonathan assured her on Xander’s behalf.

“But you do,” she pointed out.

“I am contractually obliged to keep His Lordship’s confidence.”

“I won’t tell anyone about your…poltergeist.” Xander smiled grimly and took another step towards them. “Excuse me. Please.”

“Sorry.” Genie moved aside, and Xander marched past, out of the room and along the hallway to the top of the stairs. Jonathan raised his eyebrows at Genie and strode after Xander. Genie had to jog to catch them up. “Where are you going?”

“To fetch the equipment.”


“Meters, cameras…” Xander reached the front door and waited for someone to open it.

“Hang on!” Breathless from the chase, Genie slid past and stood between him and the door with her arms outstretched. Xander startled and took a step back. “Take the car around to the side of the house,” she instructed Jonathan.

He bowed his head. “As you wish, Your Ladyship.”

* * * * *

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

Thanks for reading
Deb x

Monday, September 10, 2018

Lie back and think of England: a quick, not dirty guide to British vs American English

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the differences between British and American English. Most of us know, for instance, that crisps are to Brits what potato chips are to Americans, and so on. We're also aware of the differences in spelling - colour vs color, realise vs realize etc. - although in UK English both -ise and -ize are acceptable, and there are exceptions in both forms of English.

If it's lists you're after, here's a Bored Panda list of common differences in vocabulary. See also this more extensive list on Owlcation. There's also Luke Mastin's very comprehensive list of US/UK/Canadian spellings.

I decided to put together this brief guide for the benefit of my fellow editors, proofreaders, authors and others who work with the written word on both sides of the Atlantic, as questions about what is 'correct' come my way quite often, and I like to think I know a fair bit about this stuff. OK, I do know a fair bit about this stuff.

For the past seven years, I've worked with authors from the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Sweden, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Jamaica and Australia, all of whom bring to the editing table their unique version of English influenced by nationality, regional dialect, upbringing and their linguistic abilities. Being as how I'm a bit of an English language geek, I love all those little foibles that manifest in each author's work, like birth marks on our stories that make them distinctly ours.

Here are a few of the differences that have been highlighted most often during those seven years. Feel free to add any others in the comments.

blond vs blonde (also brunet vs brunette)
In US English, the adjective form is 'blond': she had blond hair; he had blond hair.
In UK English the adjective form is 'blonde' in all cases.

The noun form in both US and UK English is gendered: she was a blonde, he was a blond. However, UK English does not rigidly apply the gender rule.

While the same rule theoretically applies to brunet/brunette, it is rare for UK English to use 'brunet' (I don't recall ever seeing it).

got vs gotten
In general, formal UK English does not use 'gotten'. There is some regional variation (many people in the south-east of England use it), but a safe general assumption is that 'gotten' is a valid past participle of the verb 'to get' in US English but not in UK English.

spit vs spat
In US English, the past participle of the verb 'to spit' is 'spit'.
e.g. I saw what he did. He spit on the floor.

In UK English, the past participle is 'spat'.
e.g. I saw what he did. He spat on the floor.

In both forms of English, a spat is also a minor fight.
e.g. They had a spat about which way was the correct way to hang the toilet roll (or toilet paper).
(Clearly with the end of the roll facing outwards.)

fit vs fitted
Again, this is a difference in past participle of the verb 'to fit'.
US English: It fit her like a glove.
UK English: It fitted her like a glove.

pry, pry and prise
In both forms of English, the verb 'to pry' means to stick one's nose into other people's business.

In US English, 'to pry' can also mean to pull apart.
In UK English, the equivalent is 'to prise'.

US English: They pried open the treasure chest.
UK English: They prised open the treasure chest.

couple vs couple of
I've asked quite a few US authors what the rule is for when 'of' is dropped after 'couple'. So far, no-one can tell me.

Whatever that rule is, it doesn't exist in UK English.

collective nouns such as staff, team, family and government
In UK English, collective nouns can be both singular and plural, generally pertaining to the context.
e.g. The government has responded to the threat (working as a single entity).
The staff are at loggerheads (working as multiple agents).

In US English, these nouns are always treated as a single entity.

There's really no hard and fast rule for this in UK English. Personally, I try to edit out any plural use of these nouns in my own writing as I have readers from the USA and UK, but a few instances might sneak through.

(the) hospital, (the) hospice
In UK English, 'the' is often dropped before 'hospital':

I took him to hospital.

but not before 'hospice':

She's staying in the hospice.

To my knowledge, the reverse is true in US English.

weights and measures
A few times over the years, American friends have converted distance to metric for my benefit, which...means I have to convert back to make any sense of it. How far is 50k in English? :p

In the UK, the metric system was imposed on us by the EU (but that's STILL not enough to warrant 'Brexit' my opinion). The outcome is a mixed system of metric and imperial weights and measures.

Pre-packaged food and drink (including alcoholic beverages) is labelled with metric weights/quantities. Other produce (deli counter, for instance) often comes with a conversion rate (e.g. £4 per 1lb/454g). Motor fuel is sold by the litre; road signs and GPS measure distance in miles; speed limits are in miles per hour. Body weight is in stones and pounds (1 stone = 14 pounds) but most people also have some idea of the meaning of kilograms. In pubs, beer is sold by the pint but wine and spirits (liquer) are sold by the centilitre. It's, surprisingly, not as confusing as it seems.

- - -

I'm going to leave it there for the time being and add to this list as and when. Feel free to add your examples in the comments and I'll incorporate them.

Thanks for reading,
Deb x

Saturday, September 08, 2018

My love-hate relationship with M/M Romance

This probably isn't going to be the kind of post you're expecting, and, in fact, it has relatively little to do with M/M Romance per se. Had I reached a particular point in my writing life ten years earlier, this blog post may well have been titled 'My love-hate relationship with YA Fantasy'.

I can write in both genres incidentally, although perhaps not as well as other authors. I am (or I was) most comfortable writing contemporary realist fiction, so even when I'm attempting to write within other genres, the outcome is somewhat of a crossover.

Contemporary fiction is broad and not that descriptive as genre titles go. Indeed, it is not really a genre at all—it doesn't even have an entry in Wikipedia! :o It is, in effect, a catchall for any fictional story set in our time and space, and which doesn't fit neatly in any other genre.

Anyway, that's what I write. Wrote? I don't know. I'm still hopeful for a present participle...that's what I'm writing. Alas, I'm not really writing anything, hence my literary existential crisis, and I doubt it's uniquely mine. It's not writer's block—I know I could dump words onto the page, as I've been doing for much of the past four years. Sticking plasters.

So what happened?

Back in 2013, I began preliminary research for my PhD (which I've since set aside). Beaten Track had been up and running for two years, with the goal to publish diverse fiction—LGBTQ+ fiction for the most part. I was working with a couple of authors of gay literary fiction, both of whom include sufficient romantic elements in their work for it to be picked up by romance readers, specifically, M/M romance readers.

At that point, I knew nothing about the sub-genre, but I was intrigued by how it attracted so many female readers. I joined the Goodreads M/M Romance group and posted in the forum to ask if any of those readers would be willing to talk to me—initially just to answer the question 'Why do you read M/M Romance?' from which I put together the very basic first draft of my PhD proposal.

In 2014, I was still a member of the M/M Romance Group (I still am now), and saw the posts go up regarding the Don't Read in the Closet (DRitC) event whereby readers post story prompts and writers claim those prompts, from which they create a story that is then given away for free. And I figured...I write LGBTQ+ characters; I write stories with romantic elements; I could write an M/M Romance.

So I did. Two of them, to be precise (for that event—it was only the beginning).

The first...well, it turned out to be a bit of a double-edged sword. It is far and away my most successful work (in terms of downloads/sales).

Lest I upset anyone who loves Checking Him Out...I love it too. I love the characters, and I love writing about their world. The story means so much more to me than its popularity (76,000 downloads/sales so far, not including those via the MM Romance Group website).

However, it is also THE story that changed the way I write, possibly forever.

Prior to Checking Him Out, I wrote quickly—most of my first drafts were completed for NaNoWriMo—but I spent a lot of time rewriting and editing, and only once had I published a book immediately after finishing it. I've since withdrawn it until such point as I can fix all the stuff that's wrong with it. :p

I also wrote Checking Him Out in first-person perspective, which I'd never done before.

My second DRitC 2014 story was Sugar and Sawdust, which I picked up towards the end of the event, so it's much shorter, far less serious, far less polished—intentionally fun/funny (I hope).

Sugar and Sawdust didn't go down especially well with the M/M Romance readers on Goodreads, but I was a 'novice' in M/M, so I made plenty of rookie mistakes—in both stories. Admittedly some of those were intentional, but that's by the by.

Long story short (LOL), I wrote Sugar and Sawdust in two days, and it went straight to the editor, from there to the proofreaders and quality assurance readers, and then it was out in the world. No time for tweaking or refining or reconsidering the wisdom of some scenes. There again, I'm not convinced I'd have changed anything if I'd had the luxury of time to do so.

Notwithstanding some reviews that I found incredibly painful (live and learn), I loved being part of the event, and I made some amazing friends—people I'm still friends with now, many of whom I still get to 'work' with (this publishing malarkey rarely feels like work).

For those reasons, in 2015, I did it all over again, this time picking up a prompt that led to what may well be the greatest achievement of my writing career: winning a Lambda Literary Award.

I've said it every time someone's asked me in an interview—When Skies Have Fallen is the hardest story I've written to date, mainly because I kept it as true to life as I could, and tracking the history was traumatic. Re-enacting that history with my hurt. I cried. Never mind giving readers a happy ending, I needed it myself.

I'm still wowed by my Lammy, and I'm still proud of the novel, but this was the point where my change in approach began to impact on my writing process. I could no longer 'just get the words down' and tweak them later. I had to edit as I went along, which was why it took me seven years to finish my first novel, and also why I had found NaNoWriMo so liberating.

Throughout 2015, I was also co-writing the Seeds of Tyrone series with Raine O'Tierney, and again, these were M/M Romance novels, written and published very quickly by my pre-2014-DRitC standards.

Truthfully, the only way I got the words down was through collaborating. Raine wrote one chapter, I wrote the next, and we were always encouraging each other, giving feedback... Without it, I'd have reached my current point of struggle much sooner.

To complete the list, here are the rest of my M/M Romance titles:

Three are part of the Checking Him Out series; two are part of the Hiding Behind The Couch series. All are either first- or third-person narrative.

And therein lies the other issue caused by my foray into M/M Romance. I used to write omniscient narration naturally. I didn't have to think about it, at all. Yet, as soon as I started writing in limited perspectives, my omniscient narration nosedived close to head-hopping, and even when it didn't, I was ultra-conscious of how readers would receive the story. Most modern fiction is first- or third-person and limited to the perspective of one or two characters. Most modern readers therefore find it a challenge to switch to omniscient or even multiple, clearly demarcated perspectives.

Ultimately, if I had never embarked on writing M/M Romance, I'd have missed out on having a long-term bestseller, which has led to me picking up readers for my other books too. And, of course, I'd never have won a Lammy or had the opportunity to write and work with some brilliant, talented authors.

If I could go back in time, I'm fairly confident I'd still write those stories (and maybe I'll write more in the future), but what I wouldn't do is succumb to the pressures of writing in a popular sub-genre—the urgency to get another book out there before readers forget who I am, and the need to create something that meets reader expectations yet is somehow, impossibly, unique.

Whether we write crime thrillers, romance, cosy mysteries, YA fantasy—whatever the genre—those traps are there, and while some authors make a lucrative living from churning out one novel after another in their chosen genre, this author is not a one-woman book factory. My singular goal right now is to get back to how I used to write—omniscient, fast process, slow publish—incorporating what I've learned from writing in a popular sub-genre.

But first, I need to re-establish contact with my oppo in the other dimension...

Thanks for reading,
Deb x