It’s been a busy week with the e-book of The Brides’ Club Murder going live (have you bought your copy yet?) and then on Tuesday, a boxful of the paperbacks arrived a week earlier than expected. So, if you want an actual hard copy of the third Jasmine Frame novel, get in touch (go to the Jasmine Frame publications page for details.)
I also spent a pleasant evening with the members of a university writers’ group. It was an opportunity to ramble on about how Jasmine got created, me being trans, and what I have learned from self-publishing the Jasmine stories, having the September (Evil Above the Stars) series published by a small independent and working for educational publishers. I enjoyed myself and I hope they did too. It was interesting to hear about their writings – quite a variety of crime, fantasy and romantic/literary. I’m sure some of them will achieve more financial success than I’ve managed.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: writing a novel is only part of the story; not even half of it. The publishing process is time-consuming (and expensive if you’re self-publishing as professionally as possible) and then there is the marketing. I can see why many people make a career of marketing because if it is to be done properly then it is a full-time job. I freely admit that I am useless at it. I get embarrassed about singing the praises of my own work even though I do actually think it’s pretty good and I struggle to find ways to reach out to the potential customers who I am sure are out there amongst the seven billion inhabitants of this planet.
Here’s one way I’ve tried to promote Jasmine Frame – the weekly episodes of prequels to Painted Ladies. We’ve reached episode 7 of the latest, Darkroom.
Darkroom: Part 7
‘Jas! What’s happened to you? Your face is covered in blood.’
Jasmine touched her forehead. It was sticky.
‘He’s here,’ she said.
‘Who?’ Angela frowned.
‘The guy who attacked Diana. He attacked me in the end quiet room.’
Angela’s face screwed up in a mixture of horror and pity. ‘He abused you lie he did Diana?’
Jasmine shook her head violently. ‘No. I got away and locked him in the room.’
Angela peered closely at her face. ‘It’s his blood?’
‘Yes, I made a mess of his nose.’ Debs pushed passed them towards the main entrance. ‘We’ve got him, Ange. We can call the police and get him locked up.’
Diana shook her head violently. ‘No. No police.’
‘Are you feeling alright?’ Jasmine asked, wondering if Diana still needed attention. ‘I didn’t call an ambulance because I couldn’t get a signal. That’s why I ended up with “him”.’
Diana appealed. ‘I feel, um, alright. No police and no ambulance. Please.’
Angela spoke for her. ‘Her pupils look normal so I think perhaps she doesn’t have concussion.’
‘Well, what are we going to do with the guy?’ Jasmine said feeling at a loss.
‘Think about it Jas,’ Angela said. ‘If you get involved with the police it will come out who you are.’
‘And word that I’m trans will get back to my senior officers.’
Debs approached with two security men behind her. One was the senior of the pair of doormen and the other was a younger, heavily built man that Jas had not seen before.
‘Take us to him then,’ Debs said.
Jasmine shrugged. She turned and led the small party back into the dance hall and across to the quiet rooms. They passed through the room which still had the snoggers in it. They looked up as Jasmine lead the group to the door but showed little interest. The key was still in her hand. She unlocked the door, pulled it open and stepped back for the security men to enter. Debs followed and flicked a switch on the wall. Small ceiling lights came on providing a dim illumination over the whole room. Lying sprawled across a space between the chairs and sofa was the man. He was wearing a dark overcoat over dark trousers and black leather shoes.
Jasmine, Angela and Diana followed Debs and the security men into the room.
‘Is this the guy?’ the senior bouncer asked.
‘If he’s got a broken nose, then he’s the man that attacked me,’ Jasmine said. The guard approached the prone body, bent down and nudged him. There was a groan and the man twitched his arms and legs. He started to lift himself up revealing, in the semi-darkness his ruined face. The two guards grabbed him under the arms and pulled him to his feet. He hung on them, his legs crooked.
Jasmine turned to Diana. ‘Is it the man who attacked you?’
Diana shrugged. ‘I don’t know. He shone the light at me. I couldn’t see his face. The only bit of him I saw was his penis when he thrust it at me.’ Her voice trembled.
‘I don’t think you’ll recognise that now,’ Debs said with an ironic chuckle, ‘I doubt that he’s aroused at this moment.’
‘He used the torch to dazzle me too,’ Jasmine said. She picked up the torch from where it lay on the floor. She flicked the switch. A bright beam shone across the room.
‘I’m sure that’s the same torch,’ Diana said, not too certainly.
‘Seems it’s the same guy, then,’ Debs said. She approached the man slumped in the arms of the two guards. She peered closely into his bloody face. ‘You disgusting piece of shit. I’m not having people like you attacking my girls.’
‘What can we do?’ Jasmine said. ‘Call the police?’
Debs turned to face Jasmine. ‘Leave him to me. We’ll make sure he doesn’t trouble trans-girls again.’ She turned back to face the guards. ‘Take him out of the back exit.’
The guards took a firm grip on the limp body and hauled him out of the room, his toes dragging against the hard floor.
Debs went too. Jasmine started to follow but Debs stopped and turned to her.
‘There’s no need for you to come. I’ll handle this now. Go and clean up. Have a drink. Enjoy the party.’ She turned on her high heels and strode out after the guards and their captive.
‘But. . .’ Jasmine began. Angela took her arm and pulled her back.
‘Leave it Jas. Here’s your bag and phone. They were on the floor. Let’s go and get this blood off your face.’ She led Jasmine back across the hall to the toilets with Diana trailing behind.
‘Ow. Actually, that’s a bit sore.’
‘You headbutted him?’ Angela leant forward to examine Jasmine.
‘It was the only way I could get at him.’
‘You’ve got a bit of a bruise but concealer will hide it.’ She gently rubbed a little cream onto the affected area. ‘At least the blood doesn’t show up you’re your dress.’
Jasmine looked down at her purple tulip dress and noticed that though a little creased it seemed to have survived the ordeal pretty well.
‘There. I think you’ll do.’ Angela stepped back to admire her rescue work. Jasmine looked in the mirror and saw herself looking back. Her image didn’t reveal the turmoil that was going on in her mind: the memory of what the attacker had intended for her; what he had done to Diana; and now, what Debs and her men had planned for him. Should she have allowed him to be dragged off to suffer whatever punishment Debs had in mind. She was a police officer, supposed to enforce the law. But if Diana was unwilling to speak to the police or even reveal herself to an A&E nurse, and with her own identity a worry to herself, what else could she have done? She applied her dark lipstick and forced a smile onto her reflection.
‘Shall we dance?’ Angela said cheerily, although Jasmine could sense a false edge to her voice.
‘I don’t think I’m in the mood anymore,’ Jasmine said.
‘What about you Diana?’ Angela said, turning to the girl who was standing behind them, silently watching, or thinking. She shook her head.
‘Shall we get a taxi then?’ Angela asked, ‘Do you want to join us Diana? You came from the same direction.’ Diana nodded.
‘Are you staying in town or catching a train?’ Jasmine asked
‘Will there be one at this time.’ Jasmine glanced at her watch, ‘It’s not one yet.’
Diana shrugged. ‘I’ll wait,’ she muttered.
‘At the station? At night?’ Angela shook her head. ‘Why don’t you come back to the hotel with us, at least until there’s a train due.’
Diana managed a thin smile. ‘Thank you,’ she whispered.
‘Let’s get our coats and find a taxi then,’ Angela was spurred into action.