Monday, October 31, 2016

Bookkeeping (punny) - Hiding Behind The Couch #amwriting

I posted my author 'review' for Those Jeffries Boys on Goodreads yesterday. The book came out back in May this year, but it was only when I posted the review that I discovered a couple of readers of HBTC had missed it. Sorry about that!

So, I thought I'd write a quick update on the Hiding Behind The Couch series – as a whole, and where I'm up to with writing. All of the titles (except Reunions) are links to the Beaten Track listings, where you will find the links to order from your favoured vendor.

Most recent additions:
The Wag and The Scoundrel – 22/09/16
Those Jeffries Boys – 26/05/16
Chain of Secrets – 14/02/16

Upcoming releases:
Class-A – 01/12/16
Reunions – TBC

That's where I'm up to with writing. Reunions is about half written, maybe. It's currently around 106,000 words (I have no end goal on word count – when it's done, it's done), but it's a bit all over the place. This year has been a tough one for finding blocks of time to write, which is what I need when I'm working on one of the 'seasons' or I lose the threads and have to read back to pick them up again.

You can read a lengthy teaser from Reunions in last week's blog post.

All titles (most recent releases first):
The Wag and The Scoundrel 22/09/16
Those Jeffries Boys – 26/05/16
Chain of Secrets – 14/02/16
Hiding Out – 18/05/15
Breakfast at Cordelia’s Aquarium – 05/04/15
Two by Two – 31/03/15
Ruminations – 14/02/15
Red Hot Christmas – 15/12/14
A Midnight Clear – 01/12/14
Crying in the Rain – 11/11/14
Breaking Waves – 01/06/14
In The Stars Part II – 01/06/14
In The Stars Part I – 01/01/14
First Christmas – 01/12/13
The Harder They Fall – 14/06/13
Beginnings – 31/05/13
No Time Like The Present – 15/11/12
Hiding Behind The Couch – 01/07/12

All titles (reading order):
Beginnings
Ruminations
Class-A
Hiding Behind The Couch (Season 1)
No Time Like The Present (season 2)
The Harder They Fall (Season 3)
Crying in the Rain
First Christmas
In The Stars Part I (Season 4)
Breaking Waves
Chain of Secrets
In The Stars Part II (Season 5)
A Midnight Clear
Red Hot Christmas
Two by Two (Season 6)
Hiding Out
Those Jeffries Boys
The Wag and The Scoundrel (Gray Fister 1)
Breakfast at Cordelia’s Aquarium
Reunions (Season 7)

Box Set One (ebook) is also available, which consists of:
Beginnings
Ruminations
Hiding Behind The Couch (Season 1)
No Time Like The Present (season 2)
The Harder They Fall (Season 3)
Crying in the Rain
First Christmas

Thanks for reading. :)
Deb x

Thursday, October 27, 2016

#WIPpet Wednesday - Reunions - liquid fire - #amwriting

What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - and the excerpt has to relate to the date in some way. For links to other fabulous authors' WIPpets, visit: http://www.inlinkz.com/wpview.php?id=355404

* * * * *

It's a long one, but I wanted to post the full scene. I wrote this part of Reunions a while back, but I've missed Josh and Shaunna, so I thought I'd post something about them. Plus, the maths works:

(2016+10)/27=75 sentences

In this scene, it's Christmas Eve, and Shaunna is on Josh-sitting duty whilst George (his husband) is attending a neurology appointment.

Here's the WIPpet:
It was a prime viewing spot; from his location, at one end of Shaunna and Andy’s kitchen table, Josh could see all the way to the bottom of the garden, although his focal point was far closer than that.

“Didn’t you put up the fences at your old place?” he asked Shaunna but with his gaze still fixed on Andy.

“Yep,” Shaunna said, also watching Andy, who presently stopped working, pulled off the thick woolly pullover he was wearing and used it to mop his sweaty brow. Throwing the pullover to one side, he picked up the next fence panel. His jeans slipped down, his t-shirt rose up, his back muscles tensed, and Shaunna and Josh gave a mutual, dreamy sigh.

“According to him, I’m not allowed to do it in my condition.”

Josh nodded thoughtfully, on the outside a calm, contemplative veneer, underneath it a swirling blur of ponderings about how George was doing with Rab McAvoy, if Libby was coping, whether they’d got enough food for all their Christmas guests, if Sean had remembered to mark the third-year essays before he left for— “What condition? Are you pregnant again?”

“Not a chance.”

“He’s being sexist?” Josh’s hair bristled, and he narrowed his eyes.

Shaunna glanced his way and laughed. “I’m too hot for fence-fixing, apparently. I’ll distract the neighbours.”

“Oh!” Josh blushed. “What are your neighbours like?”

“This side—” Shaunna tilted her head to the left “—is Mrs. Lane. She’s lovely, but a major nosey parker. She knows everything about everyone. That side—” Shaunna thumbed to her right “—is the Cousins family. Jo and Mark and their three kids. They’re OK…mostly.”

“Why only mostly?”

“They have…” Now Shaunna blushed. “You know how our house is joined to theirs?”

“Hm?”

“Their bedroom is on the other side of the wall to ours.”

“Oh. Erm, well…music?”

Shaunna grinned. “Yeah, that does drown them out. It’s more…if we can hear them, then…”

“Oh! I meant were they playing loud music, but you mean you can hearing them doing…it?”

“Yep. And they aren’t that noisy. It’s the bed banging on the wall, and—” Shaunna noticed how pink Josh was and burst out laughing. “Sorry. But you did ask.”

“Ah. Hm. Yes, I did. Why don’t you ask Jason where he got the soundproofing for the studio?”

“I would, but it might weird him out.”

“Why?”

“Because he’s my daughter’s best friend.”

“She knows you have sex.” Josh rolled his eyes. “Obviously. She wouldn’t exist if you didn’t.”

Shaunna gave him a funny look.

“What?”

“Nothing.” She’d seen Josh in this kind of mood a few times now. It was so different to his usual quiet seriousness that sometimes she didn’t know what to say. Now being one of those times. And he was starting to fidget. She reached up and unclipped her hair. “Here. This’ll keep you busy for a while.”

Josh was already on his feet. Moving to stand behind her, he lifted Shaunna’s long wavy locks and ran them between his fingers, smoothing out any knots before he separated her hair into two sections and began plaiting.

“Have you ever considered a career as a hairdresser?” she asked.

“Not even once. Do you think I’d be good at it?”

“You’ve got the listening skills, and a…fascination with hair.”

“Obsession. Yes. But only with your hair.” Josh sighed in contentment, and Shaunna chuckled. She knew what was coming before he said it. “Liquid fire.”
Thanks for reading!
Deb x

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Losing my Religion

I've just watched/listened to Pentatonix singing 'Hallelujah', almost to spite the constant posts on social networks that kept declaring it would give me chills.

Well, that backfired gloriously.

I used to be a Christian. A real, actual practising Christian. I went to Sunday school and church every Sunday of my own free will from the age of three or four - I don't recall how old exactly; my memory doesn't stretch back that far.

I loved Sunday school so much, even though I now know that when Mrs. Joss and her grown-up daughter Katrina (who might have only been fifteen, but that was grown up to me) told me 'that's excellent, Debbie' in relation to my paintings, they were lying through their teeth. Still, I guess it's not a sin to lie if it preserves a child's self-esteem, but the fact is, I can't paint now, never mind when I was three, or four, or at any age since.

The Josses held Sunday school Christmas parties at their house, which was exciting, as I didn't get out much, partly because I was asocial and unpopular, partly because of my upbringing.

Imagine that in 2016: Sunday school leaders hosting kids' parties in their houses.

Whilst I loved Sunday school, for the learning, the activities, and the encouragement, my love of the church was of a very different kind. I remember our vicar - who had always been known as 'Father'...something, he had glasses and dark hair - being replaced by the 'Reverend' RJ Brunswick. Regardless of his formidable presence - we lived between the vicarage and the church, and he used to waft past in his black robes like some kind of malevolent dark mist - the people of the parish called him Father anyway. He was, in actuality, very nice, if not a little stern - certainly not the kind of laid-back vicar we were used to.

The church was Anglo-Catholic - or 'high' Church of England - with a sung Mass, although it was sung in English. I loved that, too - the minor keys, the power of the organ reverberating into the rafters, the unity of a hundred voices singing the Gloria, the Credo, the incredible dynamics that we had all learned and perfected -

pp ...he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, mf and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, ff and ascended into heaven, pp and sitteth on the right hand of the Father...


- standing for the procession and recession, kneeling to pray, singing hymns at the top of my voice, examining my surroundings in extraordinary detail during the sermon - the stations of the cross, the painting of Jesus on the cross behind the high altar, the stained glass windows, the carvings in the pulpit, pews and font. Every single last thing about being in the church, joining in Mass, was  awe-inspiring to me.

This, in spite of my dad, who was 'lapsed' Orange Order, telling me I attended a redneck church. It was said tongue-in-cheek, even though it was a time of immense political upheaval in the North of Ireland, and we felt the ricochets in the North of England even before the action geographically shifted our way.

A lot of children lose interest in the church when they reach their teens. Now, this may be a distinctly English phenomenon, or a distinctly Deb phenomenon, but my parents didn't go to church with me, and there was no parental pressure to continue. And I believed. I believed in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: the Holy Trinity. I'd felt its presence, its power.

I did try other churches - all Christian - during my early teens. I attended an independent methodist church and affiliated youth club for a while. I even attended a Roman Catholic church a few times because it had the only Brownie pack with vacancies, and I attended a different methodist church for Girl Guides, but I returned to my church every time, and on the last occasion, it was to join the Church Lads and Church Girls Brigade.

I was confirmed by the Bishop of Liverpool, which allowed me to move up the ranks in the Brigade. After I moved from the North-West to London, I was promoted to warrant officer, and...

This is where I skip the bit about breaking commandments, because all of the above is really no more than a factual preamble, and my moral downfall had no effect on my faith nor the opportunity to continue practising it.

So many times I felt...uplifted - what Christians will tell me is the power of the Holy Spirit entering my soul. Simply being inside the church, with the incense and the echoes and the organ and the everything had a profound effect on me, emotionally, physiologically, spiritually.

Later, I went to university and studied social science, and still I held on to my conviction that I was a Christian, even though I heard the restrained contempt for my ignorance in my lecturer's 'OK. Fair enough.' By then, I'd also been thrown out of the parish church worship group for writing a stage show that condoned homosexuality. The vicar's ultimatum was that we (Nige and me) rewrite it so it was in keeping with the Scriptures or we were out. I argued with him for two hours, because all he had was that Old Testament Sodom and Gomorrah stuff. He didn't mention Paul's letters, and neither did I, because I was winning, apart from the being kicked out part.

The new vicar came to see us a few years later and made a vague attempt to lure us back into the fold, but I'd got the message. Our kind were not welcome in the Church, and so be it. I could keep my Christian faith and still despise/pity/forgive the people who bent God's word and Jesus' teaching to their will. I could still be a Christian...

Until I wasn't.

I don't know when it happened. It wasn't a sudden switch - Christian one minute, atheist the next. Sometime between graduating and the vicar's visit, my faith dissolved. Here and now, I can go as far as believing Jesus existed but as a revolutionary, not the son of God, and I can even accept there being the potential, in a universe of infinite possibilities, for this whole shebang to be intelligent design.

I am an atheist, and I do find it difficult to respect other people's beliefs, although usually when they use them to persecute 'sinners' and incite hatred, because nowhere in any translation of the New Testament was that the kind of man Jesus was. Or perhaps I'm recalling through a rose-tinted looking glass. It's a while since I read the bible.

Mostly, I don't miss my faith. I don't feel bitter or miserable or smugly terrified that when we die that's it. Nor do I necessarily believe in life after death, or not life as we know it (Jim). I rather like Carl Sagan's contention that we are all starstuff. We came from the stars, and we return to them. There's my heaven, out there in the universe.

What I do miss is that overwhelming tingle-shiver-wow. I sense echoes of it from time to time when I read a brilliant line in a story, or hear a musician blessed with natural musicality. I get a sense of it from other people and their everyday miracles, although my need to keep my emotions in check (I don't do crying...in public) mutes the impact.

There's no denying that Christian songs are the ones that most often evoke this response in me. I mock it, but Graham Kendrick's 'Shine Jesus Shine' has the tingle factor, as does O Holy Night in pretty much any form (except Mariah Carey). My favourite is the version by BarlowGirl.

On the other hand, I get a different sort of buzz from MelodySheep's Symphony of Science remixes. It is these that have inspired me to want to learn, and maybe one day get my head around physics. It's still a strong reaction, but it's more...cognitive, less 'spiritual'.


Symphony of Science - We Are All Connected


And then there was Pentatonix singing the 'Hallelujah'. Tingle-shiver-wow, and out.


Pentatonix - Hallelujah


Thanks for reading,
Deb x

St. Luke's Church - photograph © Copyright Alex McGregor and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

#WIPpet Wednesday - Of The Bauble - #amwriting

This week, I've been working on two WIPs: Reunions and Of The Bauble. I'd written the opening to Of The Bauble back in 2014, but I ran out of time to work on it, but I found some - inspired by Bec from Bike Book Reviews' call for Christmas MM romances, although...this isn't quite an MM romance. It IS a romance, and it does have a bisexual male main character (young adult), but...well, I'll leave it at that for now or there won't be any surprises later!

What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - and the excerpt has to relate to the date in some way. For links to other fabulous authors' WIPpets, visit: http://www.inlinkz.com/wpview.php?id=355404

Wednesday 12th October, 2016 (it still is somewhere...)
12x10+20+16=156 words

I hopped over to read A.M. Leibowitz's WIPpet post for this week, which is themed on 'coming out' in celebration of National Coming Out Day (11th October), and I thought...what a great idea! (Thanks, A.M.)

Of The Bauble is a festive short story. It begins with nineteen-year-old Kieran O'Sullivan taking a trip up to the attic to fetch the Christmas decorations and making an interesting discovery. This is the start of the scene after Kieran's adventure in the attic.

Here's the WIPpet:
She was a bit funny about some things, my mum. Like, for instance when she asked if Michelle Perkins was my girlfriend, and I told her I thought maybe I liked boys. She was cool with that. And later, when I told her I couldn't decide whether I liked boys or girls, she said, "You don't have to choose, sweetheart. You can like both."

So she was awesome with the big stuff on the one hand; on the other, she could be rigidly traditional about what I saw as the little things that didn't matter, like always wearing clean pyjamas, never putting ketchup on a Sunday roast, and eating fish on Good Friday, even though we weren't religious in any way at all. Then there were those traditional ‘just the family' occasions when the three of us spent time together, and friends were not welcome...like decorating the Christmas tree. Which was what we were doing tonight.

Thanks for reading!
Deb x

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

#WIPpet Wednesday - Reunions - Swings and Ice Cream #amwriting

This week, I've added a few thousand words to Reunions, but it's in a helluva mess. It's going to need a fair bit of reworking; for now I'm going to keep writing and tweaking where I know what's meant to happen, and...hope for the best.

What is WIPpet Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress - expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt - and the excerpt has to relate to the date in some way. For links to other fabulous authors' WIPpets, visit: http://www.inlinkz.com/wpview.php?id=355404

It's 5th October; 5+10=15 sentences, plus a bonus sentence to finish off, from Reunions, which is season seven of Hiding Behind The Couch - the story of nine friends from high school, who are now all around the age of forty.

The characters in the excerpt below are Krissi - the daughter of two of the series' main characters - and Jay, her BFFE, both aged twenty-five.

Here's the WIPpet:
It was clear from some distance away the playground was deserted, not surprising this soon after Christmas, when all the kids were probably still enjoying the novelty of their presents. Beyond the playground was a skate park where every so often, a head bobbed into view above the half pipe to the accompanying scrape and whirr of wheels.

"There'll be no ice cream van today," Jay asserted.

"Why?" Krissi asked.

"The weather's abysmal."

"Doesn't usually stop Mr. Whippy."

"If he's any sense, he's tucked up warm in bed with Mrs. Whippy."

Krissi gave Jay a sideways glance and walked ahead through the park gate.

"What?" he asked.

"Assuming there is a Mrs. Whippy, wouldn't they melt? And anyway, it might be another Mr. Whippy."

"And a whole troop of little Whippies," Jay said drolly. "Can you imagine bathtime in the Whippy house? A scrub down and a hair wash and then Dad tips you upside down and dunks your head in the blue-raspberry sherbet."

Krissi laughed, but it was little more than a compensatory chuckle so Jay's joke didn't fall flat. For the time being, Jay said no more; she'd go on the defensive if he asked what was wrong, and in any case, swings and ice cream fixed everything.

Thanks for reading!
Deb x