I’m learning – at least I hope I am. Once upon a time writing meant putting pen (or pencil) to paper.Then it was tapping the keys on a typewriter. Now I’m perfectly happy writing on screen but that’s not enough these days. If you want people (that is more than just a few friends and family) to read your creations you have to learn how to promote them. But you have to be careful – it can’t be all sell, sell, sell. Apparently you have to be subtle, cosy up to people, comment on their efforts and sort of slide in mentions of your own offerings.
Seventh Child cover, designed by Alison Buck
So, I will just say that this week has been exciting with the publication in e-book formats of Evil Above the Stars vol.1 Seventh Child published by Elsewhen Press. You can purchase it here and find out more about it here. Now the hard work starts, trying to get reviews, pushing it up the lists so it gets noticed. Perhaps it will be easier when volume 2 Power of Seven is published in a week or two or perhaps when the paperbacks come out in March. The struggle for readers will be interesting. All comments will be appreciated.
While September’s adventures in EAtS are at the forefront at the moment I am still thinking of Jasmine and trying to promote her story and cases. Here is the next episode in the prequel to Painted Ladies.
Discovering Jasmine: Part 4
She was falling from her first step as the high heels skidded from under her, but by pumping her legs and with pure willpower Jasmine maintained her momentum. The woman was fending off the blows with her bare arms as Jasmine crashed into the attackers. Two were sent spinning to the ground with Jasmine between them. Her knees and knuckles grazed the concrete. Stunned, she pushed herself to her knees.
One of the boys stood over her with something in his hand. A triangle of silver.
‘You stupid fucker,’ he said. His arm swung. Jasmine leaned back. Something snagged on her dress and bra strap then sliced through them and on across her breast. Rice grains trickled from the gash.
‘What? Another sodding trannie!’ He pulled his arm back again.
A blast on a whistle. A siren. Shouts.
‘Cops!’ A different boy’s voice
‘Let’s get out of here!’ The boys ran away. For a moment Jasmine was alone with the woman slumped against the railings then there were people crowding around, muttering, calling for help.
Holly’s arms on her. ‘James are you alright?’
Her legs didn’t want to work, nor her voice, as she relived those milliseconds. Then more authoritative voices, fully clothed, with belts loaded with devices, urging the onlookers back.
‘Are you hurt, Miss?’ One of the police officers said, addressing her.
Jasmine found some words. ‘Uh, I’m okay. I think.’
‘Let’s get you into the car while we sort out this other person.’
Strong arms lifting her onto her feet, onto her heels, supported her as they staggered a few metres to a police car. She was put into the rear seat. The door closed shutting out the noise.
‘Holly?’ Jasmine whispered, but Holly wasn’t there. She could see her standing not far from the car, talking to the police officer. Another siren, an ambulance arriving.
The police station was just a short drive from sea-front. The car pulled up at the front entrance. The police officer jumped out and opened Jasmine’s door. She pushed herself out and stood up. Her knees were stiffening up.
‘Come inside,’ the officer said. ‘It won’t take long to get your statement down then we’ll run you two kids home.’
Holly joined her and they entered the police station. The PC spoke to the desk officer then lead them on to an interview room. He stood by the door as Jasmine and Holly entered.
‘Take a seat. I’ll get you a nice cup of tea.’
The door closed.
Jasmine and Holly sat next to each other at the table in the centre of the room.
‘Are you sure you’re alright, James?’ Holly said. She seemed to have given up all pretence of calling her by her female name.
‘I’m fine,’ Jasmine muttered, examining her knees, knuckles and torn dress. ‘They’re just grazes where I hit the ground.’
‘But look at that slit in the dress and bra. A sharp knife did that. You could have been cut badly. Why, James? Why did you do it?’
Holly’s words came to Jasmine through a fog of fatigue and disappointment at the end of her evening of being a girl. She saw again that glistening triangle of steel coming towards her and an image filled her mind of a blade slicing through flesh, of blood spurting and tissues parting. A wave of cold passed over her. That’s what could have happened if the boy had stretched out his arm another centimetre or so. It would have been her skin and muscle that would have torn not just the clothes. Her blood that would have spilled. Her chest may have been scarred or perhaps he might have caught her throat and her life might have trickled away through an opened artery. She shivered, her arms, legs and body shaking involuntarily.
‘What’s the matter?’ Holly asked, ‘You’ve gone white.’
‘The…the knife,’ Jasmine whispered.
‘Yes, I said, you were lucky.’
‘Oh, James. Is that it? The shock of being attacked with a knife. I didn’t know you were scared of knives.’ Holly clamped her arms around Jasmine, stilling her shaking limbs. Jasmine felt her warmth passing through the thin layers of cloth between them.
‘I…I didn’t know I was s…scared of knives,’ Jasmine said.
‘Here you are.’ The police officer’s voice came from the doorway as he pushed the door open with his foot. He set down two paper cups of steaming weak tea on the table along with a pad of paper he had tucked under his arm, then sat opposite Jasmine and Holly.
‘Are you feeling okay? You look a bit, um, shaky.’
Jasmine felt the trembling in her limbs subsiding. Holly let go of her.
‘I’m fine. Just got a bit shivery,’ Jasmine said.
The PC’s face showed concern. ‘You’re cold? You haven’t got a coat or anything? I could get you a blanket.’
‘No. I’m fine. It’s passed off now.’ Jasmine cupped her hands around the tea, feeling the heat.
‘Right then let’s get the details down.’ He pulled out a cheap ballpoint pen from his shirt pocket and held it above the pad of paper. ‘What’s your full name?’
Jasmine paused. She was going to have to reveal who and what she was. She knew she was being silly because her partly bared chest made it obvious, but putting the truth into spoken language was difficult.
‘James Lyndon Frame.’
The officer looked up, his eyebrows raised. ‘Lyndon?’
‘It’s a family name. I don’t use it.’
‘Oh. Where do you live?’
James recited the address.
‘And you, miss?’ The PC continued.
‘Holly Ann Frame. Same address.’
‘You’re brother and sister? You’re very alike.’
James saw a thin smile cross Holly’s face. ‘Yes, although we don’t usually look so similar.’
‘So you were out together. Just taking a walk along the seafront?’
‘Yes, well, no,’ James stuttered. ‘We’d been to The Safe. You know, the dance club, and we were on our way to Hypnotism.’
‘I see. Moving upmarket were you,’ the officer chuckled.
James didn’t know what to say.
‘I thought it would be less, um, threatening,’ Holly said.
‘Threatening?’ the PC queried.
‘Well, you know. The Safe is rather full of lads on the pull. Jame…Jasmine was getting a bit too much attention.’
The officer looked closely at James.
‘So you’re Jasmine when you’re, uh, dressed as a girl?’
‘Do you do this often?’ the officer continued. James shook his head.
‘It was his first time,’ Holly explained.
‘A pity it ended like it did,’ the police constable said. ‘So you were walking along the promenade. What time was that?’
‘I didn’t notice the time,’ Holly said, ‘but it all happened very quickly, it was just a couple of minutes before you arrived.’
‘So just after twenty three hundred, eleven o’clock,’ the PC said. ‘Tell me what happened.’ He looked at James.
‘Um. We were just walking along. I heard shouts. Someone said ‘trannie’. I looked and saw this gang of guys surrounding the woman.’
‘Did you know them?’
‘What did you do?’
‘I went to help her?’
‘They were attacking her. Beating her up.’
‘What did you do?’
‘I just ran at them.’
‘Did you think they’d run away?’
‘Yes. No. I don’t know. I just knew I had to help her.’
‘Why did you feel that so strongly? Would you normally take on five fit men alone?’
‘No. I just felt she needed my help?’
‘Why your help particularly?’
‘Because…because we were the same. We are both trans…’ James couldn’t finish the word.
The officer scribbled on the sheet of paper.
‘I’m sure she appreciated your support but I don’t think you are that similar.’
James stared at the officer.
‘You know her?’
‘Oh, yes. We’ve met Cleo before, on many occasions actually. She’s a transsexual, had the op, the whole sex-change thing. Says she’s a woman and insists on being treated like one. But, well, she’s too well known and will get herself into situations like this.’
James felt a flush rise up his neck. ‘You mean she asks for trouble?’
‘Well, I don’t suppose she wants it,’ the policeman shrugged, ‘but let’s say she takes offence easily and doesn’t help herself. Anyway what happened when you launched your rescue?’
‘I’m not sure,’ James shook his head trying to recall the events. ‘I collided with one or two of them, fell on the ground. Then as I got up one of them swung a knife at me.’
‘Yes.’ James saw it again and shivered. ‘He had it gripped in his fist. It was a short blade, triangular.’
‘Ah, a craft knife, Stanley knife. That sort of thing.’ The officer wrote urgently. ‘He took one swipe at you, and then?’
‘That was all. They ran off. You must have appeared.’
‘Yeah, lucky we were cruising the seafront. It could have got a lot worse. Here have a look at what I’ve written down.’ He pushed the pad across the table. James and Holly bent their heads to read.
James nodded. ‘That’s it. That’s what happened.’
The PC smiled. ‘Good, anything you want to add, Holly?’
Holly shook her head. ‘No. It was all so sudden. We were walking along then James was flying and crashing into the bunch of lads. I’d hardly taken in what was happening. There was a lot of noise then you guys appeared and that was it.’
‘But you saw the, uh, woman being attacked before James launched his rescue mission.’
‘Oh, yes, I heard the lads call her some vile names and I saw them hitting her.’
‘Right, well that’s it then. Sign the statement. Drink up your tea then we can get you home.’
‘What happened to Cleo?’ James asked, his hand gripping the cooling tea cup.
‘An ambulance took her off to be checked over,’ the officer replied.
‘Does she live nearby?’
‘Oh, yes, up on the council estate. Why? Are you thinking of visiting her?’
‘Um, I’m not sure. Yes, perhaps.’
‘Well, think carefully about it and don’t go dressed like you are now. Trannies and other misfits aren’t popular up there. You can’t miss her place though. She’s got a ground floor flat which has been graffitied rather a lot.’
‘Oh. Thanks.’ James wondered how someone could cope with being perpetually targeted for just living as who they felt themselves to be.
Holly put her empty cup down and took James’ arm. ‘Come on, James. I’m not sure you should be thinking about seeing this Cleo person.’
James stood and shook his arm free. ‘I will see her. I must.’
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and inpaperback from all booksellers including Amazon
“Jasmine and Me”: readings and discussion about the Jasmine Frame stories and transgenderism