We’ve survived a week of 2018. Actually, it was more of the same and I’m trying my best not to get worked up at the foolish things said and done by people who are supposed to be leaders or despondent at the state of the world. So, let’s be more personal shall we.
I’m not one for making new year resolutions. I have done it and some times kept some of them for a while but I think having goals, as some other writers have suggested, is a good idea. So I’ve made a to-do list. It’s not complete and I’m not going to divulge it here and now. I will say though that there are quite a few writing objectives on it – plenty of ideas to be realised!
Jasmine Frame, of course, features amongst them but I’m not starting a new story this week. I have now written three novels with the fourth nearly finished (the first, draft anyway), and thirteen novella/short story prequels. Two of the prequels have already been made available as e-books and I am putting together an anthology containing four of the stories. The prequels cover the period from 2000 to 2012 when James/Jasmine went from a 17 -year old, unsure about his/her gender and future, to a 29 year-old transitioning transwoman working as a private detective. Not surprisingly, during many of the intervening years, James was a policeman. I’ve ended up doing something I never intended doing which is writing stories where the protagonist is a police officer. I don’t want to write police-procedurals, but I will have to continue doing this. I do have some ideas for the next story but it needs a bit of work – hence the delay.
Another aspect of my to-do list is promoting my writing, September as well as Jasmine. I’ve been to a number of marketing workshops and read plenty of guides but I haven’t found the magic formula necessary for getting noticed. Perhaps I’m not trying hard enough (particularly at the social media interaction – but I hate it) or maybe there are opportunities out there I’ve missed. Anyway, let it be known that I am available for talks/workshops with groups, festivals, bookfairs, indeed, any event where I can present my writings with or without a talk about them and/or me and my experiences.
In lieu of a Jasmine story here is a short piece I wrote a while ago for one of my writing groups. I think it was an exercise but I have no idea of what. Perhaps a character study.
“What? Is it going to rain?” Billy looked up at the clear blue sky mystified.
There was a drawn out sigh, “I said, canapé, sir.”
Billy noticed the bow-tie wearing waiter was holding a tray of doll’s house sized burgers in buns.
“Oh, you mean, these. I thought you meant….” Billy nodded towards the marquee occupying the centre of the immaculately trimmed lawn.
“Yes, sir, I know sir. I was referring to these bite sized organic rare steaks of Aberdeen Angus beef in an organic whole-meal sesame seed bun.”
“Sounds more than they look,” Billy said reaching for a handful.
“One normally eats one at a time, sir.” Billy released the three that were in his left hand but retained the two he was raising to his mouth with his right.
“Oh, of course, got to make them go round, I see.”
The waiter sighed again and slid off to a quartet of which the two middle-aged men looked as though they were dressed for a day’s sailing and the two mature women wore brightly coloured cocktail dresses.
Billy looked around. Across the lawn between the marquee, swimming pool and the large ivy-clad house were clusters of people similarly dressed. Billy didn’t notice them, his eyes had located the waitress carrying a tray of tall glasses emerging from the very large tent. Billy hurried to intercept her.
He skidded to a halt, causing the glasses to rattle as she also stopped suddenly in order to prevent a collision.
“That’s lucky,” Billy said.
“What’s that, sir?” the girl said staring at him.
“I can help you with that heavy tray.”
“It’s alright sir, I was taking it around the guests.”
“Oh, in that case, I’ll just take a couple.” Billy lifted two glasses of the pale bubbly liquid from the tray. The girl wrinkled her nose and looked sideways at him then marched off to a group of twenty-somethings in chinos and striped shirts or frilly mini-dresses depending on their gender.
Billy took a sip of the drink. Champagne? It could have been Babycham for all he knew, but it tasted as though it had alcohol in it so he was happy. He was about to go in search of more of the mini-foods when a voice in his left ear assaulted him.
“Who are you then?”
Billy turned to see a large, moustache wielding, ancient in a school tie and striped blazer leaning on a shooting stick.
“Oh, hi, uh, I’m with, um,” Billy searched for a name, “Fiona.”
“Fiona? Fiona?” the florid face looked blank, “Oh, Algernon’s lass. There she is now,” He raised the stick and pointed it to a pair of young women not ten metres away.
“That’s right, I’d better get this drink to her.”
“But she’s already got one,”
“Oh, that’ll soon be gone. You know Fiona.”
“What, oh, yes. Got to keep the filly lubricated, what.” The old duffer chortled and Billy made his escape, straight towards the pair of girls.
“Hi, Fiona,” Billy said over the girl’s shoulder. The girl turned to face him. He fell in love. Her round pale face, large blue eyes, and shiny black hair tied in a pig tail, enraptured him.
“Who are you?”
“I brought you a drink.”
“I’ve got one.”
“I thought you might like another.”
Fiona looked at the dregs in her glass, and smiled. To Billy it was as if the day had been dull and the Sun had just come out.
“Well thank you. Who did you say you were?”
“Billy? I don’t think I know a Billy. Do you, Hettie?” She turned to her companion, a tall blonde with a wide face.
“No. There aren’t any cousins called Billy, are there?”
“No, you must be a friend of the family.” The girls nodded, convinced they had solved the mystery.
“Yeh, that’s right.” Billy agreed. Fiona took the glass from his left hand and sipped the champagne. She examined him closely.
“Oh, I do like your jeans and T-shirt. Those rips are so in, aren’t they and those streaks of colour. Well, they look almost as if you really had been painting the house.” They giggled at the joke.
“Everyone else looks so boring,” Fiona continued, “look at them all.”
“Your uncle and aunt’s invitation did say it was a Garden Party,” Hettie sniffed and smoothed the pleats in her crimson silk dress.
“Well I think it’s great that someone has decided to be different and rebel a little.” Fiona grasped Billy’s arm, “Why haven’t I met you before since you’re a friend of the family?”
“Oh, I’ve been, um, away for a while.”
“Yeh, there was a bit in between…”
“I’m going to South America on mine. Hettie’s coming too.” Hettie nodded.
“Let’s go and find some more finger-food,” Fiona went on.
After a shot glass of gaspacho, a minute triangle of bread with a spot of patè de frois gras, and a biscuit with a single prawn, Billy was feeling in need of something more substantial.
“When will they serve the real food?” he asked.
“Real food?” Fiona giggled
“Yeh, proper sized portions.”
“Oh, you won’t get any of that this afternoon. As Hettie said; it’s a garden party.”
“Really, I think I need something more. It takes more energy chasing around trying to catch the waiters than you get from these mini-bites.”
“Oh, you are funny. Look there’s Aunt Deborah. I’m sure she’d like to say hello.”
A horsy woman in a tweed skirt was striding across the lawn from the house.
“No, she looks busy,” Billy tried to tug Fiona in a direction perpendicular to Aunt Deborah’s determinedly straight path.
“She’s coming straight towards us. Hello Aunt Deborah,”
“What’s he doing here?” Aunt Deborah pointed a finger at Billy.
“That’s Billy, a friend of the family,” Fiona said innocently.
“Friend of the family, my foot,“ Aunt Deborah roared, “He’s painting the downstairs loo, Christmas hyacinth blue. I’m not paying you to drink my champagne, Shoo.”