Boil Dat Bunny!

Standard

Not an actual bunny, I hasten to add – no, no, no, for one thing my son would never forgive me! No, this was what’s known in some writing circles as a Plot Bunny, although I’m sure there are other names for it. When someone says or writes something in your vicinity and it sets off a whole cascade of mental and creative fireworks, as the story takes shape around the most brief or innocuous of comments and you just have to run off and make at least some preliminary notes, if not whack out a chapter or two, just to fix the concept in your head and give you something to work on thereafter. Or not, possibly. That’s the thing with bunnies. They have a tendency to hop away as quickly as they hop in, or at least they do for me.

Anyway, I got given a Plot Bunny recently. A friend made a comment on a news story on Facebook, and off I went – after talking her down from some potentially stupid actions, although I’m glad to say lots of her other friends rallied as well. Or at least, I thought I was heading off: I mapped out a story plan, started developing some characters, sketched out the basic ideas behind it all that I wanted to explore. I even started writing – as I write this, I’m around 10,000 words in, I would think (I haven’t counted, no). Then, and only then, did I pause and do a little rather vital research, that I really ought to have done before I set a single word onto electronic paper.

Ever seen a train crash? Where the coaches and stuff just go slowly off the rails as you watch, and plough into the dirt and mud, flinging it everywhere before it all eventually comes to rest? That’s what the results of my little enquiries did to my Plot Bunny. Bugger, thought I. That’s a major flaw in the whole story, which is of a type where if I don’t get it right, the thing will be simply laughed at and ridiculed. OK, I’ll admit that this could happen anyway, no matter what I write! But when you’re trying to do a police procedural you do have to at least try to get it right. There are far too many brilliant ones out there as it is, and whilst I freely admit that I could never compete with authors who write nothing else, I’d like to at least not be shamed back into my obscurity!

So I sat and thought about it for a day or two – and then came up with a completely different format for the book, one which will let me use the proper results of my research, and will examine similar issues from some rather different angles. But the probability is that I won’t be able to salvage any of the previous writing, and whilst it’s true that I write primarily for fun and don’t have any deadlines to meet or publishers to satisfy… to throw away 10,000 words…

Even then I’m not sure that this new format is going to deliver the book I want it to be, either. Is it possible that some stories, however fantastic they might seem in our heads, are simply un-writable? Or are some Plot Bunnies better off never being chased at all, and being left to hop around the meadow of our imaginations, where minor irritants like plot format, consistency and having some sort of actual narrative, can be happily and legitimately ignored?

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with this, long-term. I have my novella for The Book Club’s charity auction nearing completion, and then the second round of work starts on the next instalment of The Sisterhood so that it’s ready for release in November. I have family commitments, to which I’m looking forward hugely, and there’s the minor issue of going to work and keeping my share of the bills paid to shoehorn in there too. I’ve just finished writing Sisterhood 8 (I think it’s volume 8, I’m rather losing count!) and I’m aware that this very blog has been getting neglected again, poor thing. Oh, and I have an actual reading pile at the moment, too! Great horrors but it’s busy…

So although I probably will keep at it, there is a good chance that this particular bunny might have to simmer in its pot for a while. More progress will be reported as and if it happens!

 

Hugs,

 

Roz

The Fourth Musketeer!

Standard

Hello again! This time around, it’s time to sound the trumpets, hang out the flags and do all the other fanfare-type stuff for the official release of The Fourth Musketeer on the 1st of May! Yes, book release time has come around again, only on this occasion we’re getting a better look at some of the girls from The Sisterhood who haven’t been “properly” introduced yet. So here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

 

Bev, Monica and Roxy are the Three Musketeers of The Sisterhood support group – always together, a gang within the club, inseparable. But new girl Sarah has been welcomed in, and there are signs that the little bunch is about to expand and become a foursome.

But when Roxy goes missing, will the new and still-fragile bonds between them be enough to let the newcomer help in the search for her? Where has Roxy vanished to – and why? What’s the significance of the stranger who accosted her outside the club last night? Does Sarah know her new friends well enough to help them as the search grows ever more frantic?

 

Now, those of you who are following the series up to now – firstly thank you! – will hopefully recall that we met Bev, Monica and Roxy on the club’s night out at one of the local dance venues. Well, this shorter book (it’s around 40,000 words for those who count such things) lets us a bit deeper into their lives and backgrounds, because they’re very different from the regular girls we’ve followed so far. Perhaps it’s because she saw something in Sarah unlike herself that caused Jo to first suggest the bubbly blonde go and talk to the Musketeers: if you considered the transgender spectrum as vaguely like a swimming pool, then Bev and her friends are closer to the “shallow end” than, say, Jo and Phoebe could be considered. They are part-time girls, content with an occasional night out en-femme and without any desire to take it further, an aspect of trans existence that I’ve maybe neglected a bit so far. OK, Sarah and Naomi are perhaps the closest, and the canny reader might have spotted a growing connection between these two as the books go on – birds of a feather and all that! Bev, Roxy and Monica have been similarly close for ages, and their opening up to Sarah provided a useful way into their own outlook for me.

But as noted above, all is not well in their little world either! There’s a mystery in the making; not a genre I’ve ever dipped a toe into before, I have to say! Questions arose like: how much of a mystery do I make it? Should people die? How many red herrings do I add? In the end, as usual, it sort-of wrote itself as I went along; I had a vague idea of what had to happen, and where I wanted it to go, and it more-or-less ended up there with only a few revelations for me along the way! One of the hardest parts was trying to familiarise myself with a modern building site, believe it or not – but as for why, well, you’ll have to just read the book, won’t you!

The Fourth Musketeer is released on May 1st – I hope! – on your favourite Amazon flavour, in both paperback and Kindle versions. Other e-reader versions ought to be available too, but I really haven’t got a clue how this works!

Hugs,

Roz xx

 

Musketeers rough cover 2 titles

Welcome to the Neo-Golden Age…

Standard

“WELCOME TO THE NEO-GOLDEN AGE…”

 

This month’s post comes in the wake of upheavals, runarounds and rollercoasters, as I finally took the plunge and changed both my and my family’s lives forever. As a result, humour and light-heartedness might be a bit in short supply, but I’ll try and slip some in somewhere.

March was always going to be busy: I had meetings at my works HQ down in Edinburgh, the lovely Mrs R and I had finally booked a cheeky holiday for ourselves (the first since the kids came along, and also the first since our honeymoon of 25 years ago!), there was a knitting show, also in Edinburgh, that Mrs R was keen to attend, and Rozette Major had agreed to come up to house-sit with Rozette Minor while we were away (along with her big fluffy dog). On the eve of her travelling from Liverpool, there was a major landslip that closed Lime Street to all rail traffic…

And at the back-end of all this, I decided the time was right to embrace my feminine side and be Roz full-time. I must need my head examined!

Anyway, Rozette Major made it to Edinburgh with a revised plan – Mrs R and Minor met her there. Then the plan fell apart for the second time: R Minor had arranged to meet a friend who is now at University in Auld Reekie, but that failed to happen. Mrs R turned up at the exhibition hall to find the queue already going around the block, thereby cementing her resolve to pre-book for next year! So they all came home early, which meant I got to see them for longer, so that was one good thing. But no sooner were they home than Mrs R and I were off! Back down to Edinburgh for an overnight stop before jetting out to Iceland for a week; if you’ve not been – go. If you’re thinking about going – go! We had the most amazing time: driving through blizzards, bathing in geothermal pools, seeing reconstructed Viking Age houses (and the remains of real ones) and gasping at the sheer natural beauty of the place. Iceland is surely unique in the world. I’d been before, but that was in (gulp) 1982, and I really don’t remember it very well at all! I think the memories I made on this trip will easily last forever.

Eventually we had to come back, of course – delayed by snow, but as compensation we got to see the Northern Lights from the plane, thereby ticking the final box on the list of Things we Want To Do for the trip. But once again, almost as soon as one experience ended, the next began: thanks to the late departure from Keflavik, we finally got to our hotel in Dunfermline at around midnight. I was due in central Edinburgh for noon the next day – in Roz mode, since my employers already know me as Roz and have changed all the internal systems to reflect this.

To say that the sudden switch has been hard on Mrs R would be to massively understate the issue. I have effectively destroyed her world, the foundations on which she has built an entire life, and I have nothing to put in the place of everything I have suddenly taken from her. I wish it were otherwise; as it is, I can only admire her strength, tenacity, and determination to get both herself and the rest of us through this, hopefully to a place where everyone can be comfortable if not happy – after all, there is little in what I’ve done for her to be happy about. At 25 years of marriage, she is losing the man she wed – and does she know this replacement woman at all? Having really only just met her, how can she – or any of us – tell? The kids seem to be having less issue with it so far at least – the two Rozettes came south to meet us in Edinburgh the following day and once I was free of work we had the most wonderful, laughter-filled afternoon, and Rozling has been superb both around me and in front of his mates. But clearly their situation is not the same, they’re not losing as huge a part of their lives and seem able to seamlessly shift from male daddy to female daddy; they even seem able to find continuities between the two. Thankfully, many of our friends have rallied to Mrs R’s support, for which I will be eternally grateful, and I am more than happy to accede to her request not to be all Roz’d up at bedtime, which I did on my first night but was so tired I fell asleep instantly, thus missing her meltdown at my side. It’s clear that I need to think more, on all levels, and try to work out what is actually driving all of this within me – not just the “I need to be a woman” stuff, but relationship statuses, the future for us both – for instance, if her husband no longer exists beyond paperwork, is Mrs R still married? And what do she or I want to do about that? Does she keep the name she took on our wedding day, or find another? Or do I modify my own adopted name to reflect that man I was until so recently and thus provide some sort of anchor – or will that merely make the fact of the loss more intense?

So many questions and things to consider, and very few of them will wait indefinitely! They also run alongside things like “where’s my blusher?” – which at the new getting-up-to-get-a-face-on time of 5:15 in the morning, is not the brightest of questions! Yet still vital, suddenly; I’m also already finding after just two days at work that what we’re likely to be doing tomorrow is of equal importance since it affects my wardrobe choices! Argh!! In the end, I bought a second blusher and used some of my makeup stockpile to make a second facial kit for keeping at work 😉 And I’m going to have to steel myself into going to bed earlier than I’m used to, and getting tomorrow’s outfit ready before I sleep!

The main point, the bottom line, if you like, is that I made all these problems, both the trivial and the profound. Had I been able to contain Roz, all this might have been a whole lot less extreme, less traumatic, whatever you want to call it. But as I said in a post from some months ago, the mere realisation of trying to contain it meant that I’d had to try and contain it all, and that’s not a Good Thing either, I’m sure. And so I sashay forward into my new regime, my new world, desperately trying to hurt the people I love as little as possible even as I recognise that not hurting them is probably impossible. So having nicked the title line from Hawkwind, I’ll close for now with the next line, which seem so very apposite:

 

“WELCOME TO THE DAYS YOU’VE MADE… YOU ARE WELCOME…”

 

Wish us all luck and strength if you can find it in you to do so.

 

Hugs,

 

Roz xxx

Late To The Party Again!

Standard

Happy New Year! Yes, I’m a little late – OK, so it’s a month! Are we counting? (giggle) – but a window finally presented itself in which to write a post, so here I am. I’m actually doing this at the almost-end of a very productive week: I finally got my tooshie into gear and got started on Sisters 7! A bit of planning, a quick skim back through the few notes I already had, a second cup of coffee and I was off – as I write this, I’ve turned out four chapters and probably coming up for five thousand words – and without any major effort to get there, which is always nice! Since I’m not at work today, I’ve been writing in the house, interrupted only by the need to keep the fire fed (‘cos it was freezing first thing this morning!) and the determination of cats to sit on me and be cuddled. Ah, the hardships of a writer’s life, eh!

 

Actually, this might well be the most productive day I’ve had, writing-wise, since I sat down on another day at home a few years back and began the long trek into The Sisterhood, the original novel. I was really on a roll that day – seven thousand words just flew onto the screen, almost (to quote a cliche’d phrase) writing themselves. It still feels so good to write anything at all, but the recent Christmas holiday has also seen a couple of short stories, the first I’ve produced in some time. The longer of them was written after I got into a discussion on The Book Club Facebook page and involves zombie gingerbread (you had to be there, I promise) – and then I stuffed it as full as I could of fellow-members and book titles. Well, you have to sometimes! It was huge fun, and I beat my self-imposed deadline of New Year’s Day (well, it was set around Christmas so it really wouldn’t have worked as well if I’d put it up in midsummer). I could probably have fiddled and honed it a lot more, but it reached a point where any further interference would have started requiring re-writes and you have to draw the line somewhere, or at least I do! Then within hours, almost, another idea struck – but I’m going to save that one for inclusion in my intended project to re-release some of my older stories, originally released under the title “Sketches By Roz”. Many won’t be revived, they’re really just too corny and awful! It’s interesting to me at least that neither of these new stories is trans-related at all – and nor was the one I submitted for Dark Minds (now available on Amazon, folks, and all in a worthy pair of causes!) Which sort-of brings me back to my writing of today, in that having read back through all the Sisterhood stories (including the ones you haven’t seen yet, dear reader), I’ve realised that the trans nature of the main characters is not all that pronounced. Obviously there are references to it, and it’s sort-of accepted (I hope!) that they all are somewhere on the trans spectrum – but they’re living their lives, doing their things, and not being obvious about it. Which for so many out there in the Real World is what it’s all about: not trying to deny our nature, how could we? But taking it on board and just getting out there and doing Life – all day, every day, just like so many millions of cis-people do. Obviously I would never dream of claiming to speak for anyone else, but in many ways I think that’s what I’m aiming at whenever I get to go out, and perhaps I try and do that through my little fictional gang?

 

So what’s coming up for 2017? Well, in March I plan to be at another The Book Club party in Leeds: anyone reading this who thinks such a meeting can only be a dull and staid affair hasn’t met this crowd of hellions yet! Goddesses, I thought I was bad… they’re loud, wild, and they certainly know how to party! We do talk about books a bit – sometimes – and such gatherings are notorious for people stalking authors with autograph books! Can you believe it? It was only when I was on the receiving end of some of this at the get-together in November last year that I began to dimly appreciate the appeal of Celebrity status, vain and shallow creature that I am! So if any potential attendees are reading this – see you there!

 

At the end of April, publication of The Sisterhood series steps up a gear, with The Fourth Musketeer being released. This is a novella rather than a full novel, and it breaks some new ground for me in a number of ways. Then in November, you get the next “proper” novel, the fourth in the series: “Here Come The Girls” follows our heroines through more struggles, but also sees some resolutions and affirmations being made. In and around these, I’m still trying to put my travel adventures into some sort of coherent form, Sisters 7, now started, will also occupy me probably well into the late spring or longer, depending on how things go both at work and at home, and also depending on whether any other ideas arrive to derail me! Oh, I started on a pantomime as well after going to see the local one just before Christmas! So all in all, it looks like another busy year ahead. I hope yours is whatever you need or want it to be, just as I hope you’ll stick with me and join in all the exciting times to come.

 

Hugs,

 

Roz xxx

A LITTLE DIVERSION!

Standard

 

This month, I return to the original purpose of this ‘ere blog – promoting my writing! OK, I know I went on a bit last month about “New Horizons”, the latest Sisterhood offering now available on Amazon (that’s a hint by the way!) but whilst I’ve been busy with a project related to that main thrust of my efforts, this month also sees a bit of a diversion for me – into short stories, which I used to write a lot of in my early days, and also into a new genre – a horror story, no less!

But most importantly, this wee story is appearing in an anthology, and that anthology is out in about a week from now!

So what can I tell you about “Dark Minds”? Well, it’s a collection of stories from a huge number of authors, most (if not all) of whom are way better known than I am! Luminaries of modern literature such as Mel Comley (USA Today bestselling author), Peter Best, Tara Lyons, Jane E. James (London Academy of Media, Film and TV), Steven Dunne, Mark Fowler (University of Leicester)… and so many more! The common theme is horror / thriller, and the anthology has been compiled by the wonderful Bloodhound Books, who are a dynamic, expanding, high-quality publishing house with an already high reputation among authors. So I’m in, quite frankly, exalted company! I was hugely honoured and delighted to be accepted for this book, and given that it’s being produced as a charity fundraiser for Sophie’s Appeal (supporting childhood cancer) and Hospice UK, what more incentive do you need to get out and buy a copy?

I have to admit I’ve never done anything like this before, on any number of levels! I don’t as a rule write horror – although I’d be the first to admit that my story is probably more of a psychological thriller than an out-and-out horror – and the point that it was inspired by a real-life incident (or in my case non-incident) at Sparkle earlier this year when I walked back to my hotel alone late at night is also a bit of a first – OK, bits of The Sisterhood are taken vaguely from life, but as I walked back through Manchester on the wrong side of midnight I was basically writing this tale with every step! I’ve never had a submission accepted before, either – and what a lift that was when the email came through! To think that actually, somebody else liked what I had written sufficiently to put it in their book… wow, that’s a Thing! But it doesn’t even stop there – the writers and publishing team have come together as something of a little community to share, promote and generally enthuse about the book! We have our own Facebook page, and it would be nice to think it might survive the actual launch of the book on December 13th. As a new, unknown and very part-time writer, it’s been delightful to be accepted into such a warm, caring and supportive group, almost all of whom do this stuff for a living and therefore might be considered all the more wonderful for giving up their talents to such a worthy cause when they could all quite easily produce anthologies of their own and add to their incomes – ‘cos writers aren’t rich, as a rule. We’d probably be better off financially if we went into burglary, or got together to rob banks. “Nobody move, this novel is loaded!” Or better still, “Go out and buy a copy of this or I’ll let off a whole chapter! Now put the royalties in the bag!”

So go on – it’s available now! “Dark Minds”, published by Bloodhound Books, is out on December 13th, and available through Amazon. You’ll be supporting two very worthwhile charities, and massaging a whole bunch of writer’s egos! Mostly mine!

Hugs,

 

Roz xxx

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Minds-Various-Authors/dp/0995621276/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481030383&sr=1-1&keywords=dark+minds+bloodhound

dark-minds-image-cropped

New Horizons – the book!

Standard

It seems as if it’s taken forever, but the publication of “New Horizons – The Third Novel of The Sisterhood” is upon us! It really doesn’t feel like a mere twelve months since “Endings and Beginnings” was released upon an unsuspecting world – and yet it is only a year ago. So much has happened in between, however, that it feels like a whole lot longer.

For a start, I’ve written I think two more instalments in the ongoing saga since last November – or is it three? I’ll let you into a little secret – I’m actually quite some way ahead of schedule on these! Book four is complete, as is Book five, although they both need edits and a re-read to check for continuity gaffes of course; there’s also a novella complete, and I’m working on a second. These will slot in between various volumes in the main sequence of books, but are perfectly capable of being read as standalone stories.

What else can I tell you without giving too much away? Well, Advance Review Copies (hereafter known as ARCs) have gone out to select readers in The Book Club on Facebook – this is a secret group of some six thousand avid writers and readers, and the support I’ve had from them all has been amazing, given that I might well be the only trans author they know! The main focus also tends to be towards thrillers and police novels, so I’m even more grateful that the books have had such a positive response. They could be considered to be well out of the group’s comfort zone!

Within the book itself, this volume sees the girls continuing to evolve. This is where I have to be really careful and not give out any spoilers! But those of you who have read “The Sisterhood” will hopefully recall that right at the very end, Cathy offered Phoebe an end to her housing crisis by simply moving in with her. “Endings and Beginnings” saw that arrangement settling into place, and by the time we reach the new book, Phoebe has settled in to become quite the little housewife! Thankfully, she and Cathy are forming a strong and stable friendship, and the younger woman finds herself unexpectedly enjoying being able to contribute again. Which is just as well, as this book also begins to show that the usually vivacious redhead who is her housemate is going to need a whole more support as her own life unravels and re-forms around her…

These two, I have to admit, are easy to write for the most part as they bubble and spark off each other incessantly. Dialogue comes easily, and mouse-haired Phoebe in particular lends herself wonderfully to introspection and analysis. She’s looking for work, too: do you remember that Naomi gave her a bit of insider information in “Endings and Beginnings”? Well you’ll have to read this next one to find out how she did!

Speaking of Naomi… well, the poor love trundles on as best she can, though there are signs of strain beginning to show. Life is full, as well as full-on for her; and just when she begins to think matters might be settling down, there’s another bombshell to contend with! What’s worse is that she can’t really share this one with any of her friends – but again you’ll have to read “New Horizons” to find out exactly why. But it sort-of involves Sarah; there, that’s as much of a hint as I’m going to give you! Other than it sort-of brings our favourite blonde and the portly lawyer a bit closer together in some ways as well, and in many aspects it is Sarah’s own horizon that is expanding as her girlfriend comes to grips with this whole new world she discovered in the second book, and begins to seek out her own answers to any number of questions.

And Jo? Oh, I’m not saying anything about Jo! Baggage that she is… oh alright, there’s quite a lot going on with Gerald, her odious little rat of a boss, in this book as well. Those bits were quite fun to write – the intricate fencing around each other, probing for weaknesses, trying to second-guess what’s coming next and all that sort of thing really lets me get under a character’s skin, I find. Writing for me at least, is as much about discovering more in the characters I’ve created as it is telling a story; it’s the strangest feeling to realise that something (OK, someone) I’ve invented actually has aspects to them that I didn’t have any sort of hand in creating! How does that work? No doubt the analysts would have fun telling me all about it were they to ever get their hands on me – so I think I’ll stay hidden in my little world where they can’t reach me. Except for through the books, of course!

The Sisterhood’s world expands in this volume too: there are new characters, or rather existing ones who get a bit more fleshed-out in this book. We meet the Three Musketeers properly for the first time, as they make the first steps in taking Sarah under their wing; we also get a bit more about the people poor Sarah is forced to work with – and the same is true for Jo, as her office colleagues come more to life and we begin to learn some of their own backgrounds. Naomi’s world is smaller, but as she and her colleague Clive interview candidates for the vacant post created in the previous books, flashes of the relationship between them and Rachel, their alleged secretary but in reality the powerhouse of the firm, give a better understanding of how they interact and make it all happen. Cathy encounters every possible reaction from her fellow drivers and associated staff, all of which leaves her confused and uncertain, and more in need of Phoebe’s unwavering support than ever.

“New Horizons” should be available in both print and e-book through Amazon by the time this post goes up – if I’ve done it right in the creation process! If I haven’t, well, I’ll have edited this sentence to reflect that fact and by the time you read this, copies of it will be awaiting your acquisition! I really, really hope you enjoy it, and find it worth reading; if you do, please remember to leave a review, however brief, on Amazon and / or Goodreads. Reviews are what drive further sales these days; more reviews lead to more exposure by Amazon in searches and adverts, which of course in turn lead to more people taking a chance on a new author – not just me, obviously, there are more and more people putting electronic pens to paper and getting their creativity out there. And trust me when I say that there is nothing more rewarding for a budding author than to hear that somebody somewhere has enjoyed the fruits of their labours enough to actually say so!

Hugs,

Roz xxx

roz-white-new-horizons-ebook

Been A Long Time…

Standard

…since I wrote anything! The temptation to put in half a Led Zeppelin song there was almost irresistible, but so much has been going on since my last post that I really didn’t think the effort would serve any useful purpose! So much running around, so many changes, so much evolution, not least in myself… and I suspect that this poor little blog, once again, will also be evolving.

When I started this lark, I was quite clear in my own mind: it was a marketing and publicity tool, a way to connect with readers (or potential readers) of my books, and I viewed it as mainly a way of keeping you updated as to progress on the latest magnum opus, snippets of other things I might have got involved in, that sort of thing. Then, I started discovering just how versatile and downright enjoyable this particular format was; I limited myself (roughly) to a thousand words, coincidentally my usual chapter length in my books, and it became something of a game to see how much I could say within that format. I was new to it all, it was fresh and exciting and fun (always important!); I was also, though not for very long as it turned out, in stealth as to my trans nature.

Then I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to do pieces on some of my friends, or some of my fellow authors (even better when they’re one and the same!) So the blog content evolved a little; I’d like to think it gained a little depth and was all the better for it. Blog-writing became a useful thing to do in odd moments, allowing me to stockpile a few posts for a rainy day – a very wise thing to have done, as it turned out, since whenever life got busy (as it does) I could just pull out a piece ready-written and bung it in here. I tried to make sure it was relevant – I have a handful that will probably never be used since the world has moved on and they’re no longer appropriate, or even accurate! This was something of a symbiotic phase, if that’s not too pretentious a term to use in relation to little bits of written-down random thinking! By now I was out to the family (remind me to tell you that story one time, if you haven’t heard it already), and everyone – including me – was working hard to come to terms with the new woman in their life, and trying to figure out how – if at all – she figured in their lives, and the home. For my part, I was trying hard to keep Roz as minimal as possible, in the hope of minimising the pain and upset this revelation was almost inevitably going to cause. There were a handful of rather serious and introspective posts, which perhaps reflected all this turmoil going on. Is it possible to live one’s life through a series of blog posts? I would rather hope not, to be honest; surely it’s far better to live it with the people that matter to you, your family and friends! There’s a lesson in there somewhere, if only I could unravel it.

The blog has been neglected over the summer, I am ashamed to say – life just got too busy! I was here, I was there, I had work, I had family holidays and other obligations (like building the kitchen I’ve been promising since we moved in over 12 years ago) and something had to give – the blog was the easiest to relinquish, since the deadlines for publishing couldn’t really be shifted once I’d announced them to various people and The Book Club on FaceBook, lovely, wonderful people that they are, had agreed to send out advance copies for review, and to do things for the actual launch day, and since family life went on at its usual fairly chaotic pace. Did I mention that Rozette Minor acquired a horse? Well she did, y’know, and it appears to have done wonders for her recuperation and general well-being.

Now, all through this, things had been happening that I hadn’t really noticed. Others had; the lovely Mrs R in particular. And at some point in the summer, she took me to one side and asked, “do you need to be Roz properly?”

It might sound daft, but I’d been so busy trying to keep the trans side of me under control that I’d somehow missed the vital point that I’d been trying to keep it under control. The mere fact of trying suggested straight away that, if uncontrolled, Roz would have taken over already, n’est pas? A long mental silence ensued whilst I digested this for a bit. But really, the answer was inevitable, and entirely predictable. Did I want to be Roz permanently? No, I was still terrified of losing everyone and everything around me. Did I need to be Roz permanently? The answer to that one could only be Yes – even sitting here writing this, I can feel the pull of her. And so, with my wonderful and amazing wife’s blessing and support, it’s going to happen. The precise timeframe for it all is still very much in flux and I simply will not let anything happen without the full support and understanding of my entire family, since that would be far from fair. It’s terrifying, exciting, inevitable, insane, all at once – an evolution of the most brutal and appalling kind – and yet suddenly so necessary. I never understood that before this summer – I never really got what drove even my fictional characters, Jo and Phoebe, to do what they did, and I’m not even certain that I fully understand it now. What I do now accept is that I have to do this, against all sanity, against all reason. I can’t be the full, the total me until I do.

No doubt the blog content will change as well – I envisage more posts about where I’m up to on this path, how things are going, what changes in me I can see and feel. Hopefully I won’t become so self-absorbed that nothing else makes it in – what dull reading that would be! It would be nice to think that it can evolve without me, almost – can perhaps find its own destiny and shape its own content if I can just remember that very few people are going to want a post on how tingly my new boobs are on any given day! Perhaps this is a good time to mention that “New Horizons”, the third Sisterhood novel, is out any day now? There will be a few more posts about it soon, I promise, and a report on one or two interesting adventures I’ve been having lately – apart from the biggest adventure of them all, that is! Possibly the blog’s evolution will involve growing an extra head, so the two themes can run side by side! Either that, or I’m really going to have to knuckle down and get back to writing another stock of posts for the inevitable rainy days!

Hugs,

Roz xxxx

Still Sparkling?

Standard

Earlier this month I was incredibly fortunate – on a number of levels. A bit over a year ago I sat in my Northern Fastness, watching large numbers of friends gather in Manchester for Sparkle 2015 – the National Transgender Celebration. There were photos of hotel rooms, of meetings in the famed Canal Street, of parties, late-night dancing, a Ball no less… and I felt my inability to be there so keenly! So many friends having so much fun, expressing themselves in ways that aren’t always possible anywhere else – sometimes, for some of them, anywhen else, either. I tried to be brave, I posted Facebook likes and positive comments… and wished like nothing else on the planet that I could have been there.

This year, I made it, and here are at least two of my levels of fortune. Not only did I get there, but way back around Christmas (followed very soon after by my biological birthday) I had tentatively broached the subject of my being able to go with the family. Not only did I get their consent for this trip, but they even put money towards it, since there really wasn’t anything else I wanted in the way of presents. I’m very aware that a good number of my friends and fellow-travellers on this strange road don’t get that support, will never even be able to dream of such understanding and encouragement. I wish it were otherwise, and in part my adventures through the magical landscape of Sparkle were documented and posted on Facebook with them in mind. I remembered how I had felt the previous year, and you do what you can, right?

I’m not going to go into the minutiae of where I went, what I did or who I met: there are posts and photos on Facebook, and others on Flickr. What I will say is that not a single person I met – and remember I’ve known a good number of them online in various places for some years now – not one of them was anything less than gracious, delightful, friendly, welcoming and generous with their time and company, taking me in as if I were a regular in their circles and confirming that on some level or other we really are just all girls together. I can’t think of anything I’ve done, or anywhere I’ve been, that can match that feeling; from texted messages saying “we’re headed to such-and-such, gonna come?” to walking in search of food, coming across a bunch of around a dozen of whom I knew two, and being invited to join them, to suddenly being called across the road to meet yet another long-term friend whom for some reason I really hadn’t expected to see! Not one bad word, not one disdaining look, not one sniff of “better than you” in any way, shape or form… coming away was hard, but by the time I left the party was well and truly over, I think I was the Last Girl Standing and it was definitely time to leave. To say that Sparkle exceeded my expectations would be to sell it so very, very short!

And it lingers: as I write this, it’s nearly a month since I was there and I can remember as much now as I could at the time (OK, there were one or two blanks even as stuff happened, the pace was so fast sometimes!) just as clearly, just as vividly. I’ve done other big events in other walks of life: operated at model railway shows, fought Dark Age battles before crowds of thousands, appeared on TV and in a movie or two. But even events such as the Jorvik Viking Festival and Bloodstock Heavy Metal Festival begin to fade almost as soon as I pull away from the site – it’s always been thus, no matter how much I might have wanted it otherwise. I retain snapshots, flashes of highlights, and the rest just vanishes; Sparkle is still immediate, even to the mundane bits such as getting up in the mornings and wondering what to wear. Why, I wonder? Is it simply that there were no quiet bits, no times the memory of which might have begun to fade?

I’m still trying to deal with everything that happened, how I felt, how I was received and treated by everyone around me. I wrote on my FB author page that Sparkling is not conducive to productivity and that to some extent remains true – though there are signs that I’m getting it back under control and can still bash out over 3000 words when I get the chance. It’s probably just the need to re-establish some discipline, and with luck that will allow me to function even as I continue to process my first ever Sparkle.

I want to go back, of course – like any narcotic, we’re never content with what we’ve had! The nature of the event is such that I can almost guarantee that next time will be utterly different: a few different choices of venue (I seemed to end up in a club called New York New York every night, and there are plenty of others around Canal Street), a few pre-arranged meetings with other friends whom I missed (or failed to recognise – sorry!) this time around, will make for an equally new and intense weekend, I’m sure. I might see if I can find a twin room and someone to share with – there’s another way to heighten the experience. But there is Reality to deal with as well: I had my treat this year, and next year it’s other people’s turn. The lovely Mrs Roz is owed a return trip to see her friends in Canada, the kids have been owed a holiday for I don’t know how many years now… these have to take precedence, and it’s only right that they do so. Will I make Sparkle 2017? I’ve no idea. But I’m happy to wait my turn; I think that Sparkle 2016 might well sustain me for more than just a year!

 

Hugs,

 

Roz xx

That Old, Old Question…

Standard

We’ve all had them: those moments of wondering, dreaming, asking the impossible question:

What if I’d…

We can never answer it, of course: the very fact of the question beginning with “what if” kind-of presupposes that the object of the question never occurred. But does it stop us asking? Does it heck! Or at least it doesn’t stop me asking… perhaps I am truly unique and odd in that way, but somehow I doubt it. Care to ‘fess up at the bottom of the page?

For me, I think the biggest one, the one I think about more than any other, is “what if I’d followed my mad idea, moved to Manchester and gone full time? What if I’d embraced the feminine side then – and we’re talking over thirty years ago now – where would I be now?”

Here’s a little background:

I had moved from a shared bedsit in Crawley some years earlier when, believe it or not, I couldn’t afford the bills! WTF?? I still don’t understand that one even now, but I do rather suspect that my mother’s wanting to relive her youth through me and my sister and encouraging me to spend beyond my means, especially when it came to travel and Seeing The World, had a part to play. Anyway, the fault was mine: I spent the money. Then I spent more than I was bringing in – and yes, I was working, too. To their credit, my parents saw the problem and extended a much-needed helping hand; I moved into their attic in North Wales, got myself back on my feet, and found work in Wrexham. Still my mother encouraged me to max out my credit cards and travel “while you’re still single”…

…and at about this time in my life, I realised that where I was living was not really so far from Manchester. I knew that a shop called Transformation existed: when living in Sussex I had gone up to London once or twice and found their Euston shop, as well as Axfords, who catered more to the drag queens than the transvestites and cross-dressers, round the corner from, I think, Victoria station (I stand to be corrected on that one). In moments of stress and weakness, Manchester beckoned… and some time during this period, I concocted an idea that, if I wished, I could perhaps move out of the parental home, find a flat or something in Manchester… and leave the single, unloved and largely unwanted male me behind…

All through puberty and early adulthood, the girls I had approached up to that point weren’t interested in me in the slightest, and all the while the girl in me was growing stronger. I’d even gone so far as to buy a few bits in the bedsit, though storage was at a premium; once in North Wales, I bought more. A lot more! I had suits and dresses and party gear; I had undies, corsets, shoes, a gorgeous long dark wig… I was even getting good with the slap! In those now far-off days of mechanical cameras, using film that you had to take to the chemist and have developed, and a serious absence of anything even remotely resembling the internet, I looked in my mirror and thought “I could pass…” But I only ever stepped outside once, late at night: I thrilled at the feeling of the breeze on my nylon-clad legs and scurried back inside again! So yes, of course I could just up sticks and move to a whole new city where I knew absolutely nobody, change my gender presentation, find a job, find a flat, have enough money to keep buying dresses and shoes… maybe even find a boyfriend since none of the girls up to then had ever seemed even slightly interested in me… and everyone would accept me for the woman I was so desperately trying to be! Great Goddesses, I look back now and wonder what on earth I was thinking…

At that time, I wasn’t married – I hadn’t even met the wonderful and amazing Mrs Roz. Thankfully I did, and my life has been massively and hugely enriched by the experience of love, marriage and parenthood – I wouldn’t have had it any other way, looking back, and I’m so, so grateful that I didn’t take that massive leap into the unknown – and the undoubted failure, loneliness and ridicule that would have swiftly followed it, I’m sure.

 

Hugs,

 

Roz xx

Meet Thea Hartley!

Standard

 

Thea Hartley is a fellow author whose latest book, Wear Bright Colours For Me, is out soon! Thea was good enough to answer some questions for us – the usual ones, just to provide a bit of continuity and comparison between the guests I host here from time to time. She can be found on FaceBook and elsewhere – there are links at the bottom. So, on to some questions…

1)What is your usual writing genre?

That is a good question, as I tend to cross genres. I have written a crime series which is now on number 5; two biographies;  romantic suspense ; psychological thrillers and of course, Wear Bright Colours For Me, which is about reincarnation and crosses several genres including paranormal, and historical fiction. I have even written some erotica.

 

2) What was the reasoning behind writing your latest book? Were there any areas or issues you specifically felt needed to be addressed?

My most recent book, Wear Bright Colours For Me, was inspired in several ways. Firstly my daughter dreamt of my  deceased husband who told her to tell me ” Wear bright colours for me.” This gave the book a title. Secondly, I had been studying reincarnation and wondered …”how could this possibly work?” And thirdly, my grandson met a little girl at nursery and they instantly bonded and were inseparable …they still are, and it’s five years later! The pair of them are so fond of each other …it makes you wonder, in terms of reincarnation. Putting all these ideas together resulted in a book where soulmates meet in life after life and are separated. The rules of karma are interwoven into the story to produce a fascinating tale and resolution.

 

3) Did anything surprise you during its creation? What did you learn from it?

I learned that I thoroughly enjoyed researching social history, and that I became very involved with the characters lives and their language. I was surprised at how I handled the ending. I intended it to be very different, but found that the characters lead it to its conclusion.

 

4) How personal is the story to you, and do you think that made it harder or easier to write?

It is personal to me, in the sense of the inspiration behind it. I felt that it helped me to write the story as I had become so interested in the idea of reincarnation.

 

5) What do you do when you’re not writing or doing other writing-related things? How do you relax or unwind?

Watch TV. Especially the soaps or real life documentaries. They give you so much material for your books. I also love musical theatre and eating out. Of course my most favourite leisure activity is reading other people’s books.

 

6) What do the people around you think of your writing?

They are used to me shutting myself away to write by now. They seem quite pleased when I get a book published, but keep my feet firmly on the ground.

 

7) How long have you been a writer? When did you begin to write? What prompted you to begin?

I have only been a published writer for about three years. Before that , I was working as a psychology lecturer and had research papers published, which were very academic. I have always written for fun since I was a child, and did courses in popular writing and creative writing. I started writing when I had to give up my lecturing job due to a degenerative condition. I joined an online writing group and the other members encouraged me whilst writing my first book. It was a wonderful motivator.

 

8) How do you interact with your audience in an age where access is both easier to achieve and harder to stand out in?

I hope that,in the context of my books, that I engage their interest and actually teach them something new, as well as entertain. I also try to make my writing intriguing so that readers are compelled to finish the book, as they are gripped by a good story,

 

9) What would you most like your readers to take away with them when they’ve finished the story?

A feeling of satisfaction with the ending, enjoyment of the book…and wanting more!

 

10) What are you working on next?

I am currently editing the fifth book in my “Resa James, Criminal Psychologist” crime series. It is called ” Gone and Forgotten” and is about a missing person who turns up four years later, looking entirely different. No one can recognise her. The story, however, becomes more and more complicated and is bound up with international crime.

 

11) What are your aims, ambitions and driving forces for your writing? What would you really like to achieve with it?

The same as every author…A bestseller, which is then adapted into a screen play.

However, on a more realistic note, I would like my books to be enjoyed by people and hopefully to help them understand issues and situations which I write about. A book which is currently with my publisher is about living with psychosis. It looks at two people who suffer from bi- polar disorder and follows their journeys. I hope that people who read this will find that it gives them understanding into the condition and to the stigma of mental health in any of its forms.

 

 

Thea’s links:

 

Face book. https://www.facebook.com/Theasbooks/

 

Twitter  @thea1710

 

Website:  www.theawrites.co.uk

 

LinkedIn. Thea Phillips.

 

Amazon. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thea-M.-Hartley/e/B00HXWHUM4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

 

Wear Bright Colours for Me:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wear-Bright-Colours-Thea-Hartley-ebook/dp/B01CLWUQG2?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc