First of all, a big thank you to those of you who bought Marsha's Bag ( and continue to buy ) at the various e-book stores, especially at Apple i-books UK, where "Marsha" has been in the top 100 several times.
I'm absolutely thrilled with the response, and with the feedback, too.
If you'd like to know where the idea came from, then I owe at the least the germ of the idea to my wife, Katie ( no, not that Katie Price! ) whose bag, whose various bags, are always stuffed with everything from the mundane to the ridiculous - she once took the kitchen clock to work, because she'd forgotten to charge her mobile phone, and to top it all, the battery in her watch needed replacing! She had an appointment at a specific time, so she took the clock off the wall, and into her bag it went.
The story sprang from there...the rather twisted story.
I've always been kind of envious of women and their bags. I've never been a fan of "manbags", but at the same time, it's a real pain when you've got stuff to carry and all you've got is a few pockets.
Still, I'm sure I'll get over it...one day!
Anyway, after writing Marsha's Bag, I sent it away to a few publishers, one of which expressed an interest in it, but turned it down, because they weren't prepared to take a chance on it; it might sell, it might not. That was fine - I understood the financial commitments & burdens, and it must be a real risk taking on an unknown author, anyway.
A literary agent also showed interest in Marsha's Bag, and was kind enough to write back, stating that he really liked it, but again, it was that "might sell, might not sell, can't afford to take a chance on it" aspect. Still, I was really grateful for the reply, but in the end, I put the manuscript away ( along with the other novels I've written ) and let it drift to the back of my mind.
Then a friend at work ( also a writer ), told me about Smashwords, and how they distribute e-books to various retailers. So that was that, I uploaded Marsha's Bag. I thought that if I sold one copy, then that would be great, that would be brilliant, in fact!
But "Marsha" has now sold quite a few more than just one!
If I'd known that, I'd have done a better job of the blood on the cover ( I'm really rubbish in Photoshop! ). But even so, I love the cover, no matter what. And I didn't want a bag on it, simply because I thought it best to leave what Marsha Dunbar's handbag looked like to the reader's imagination.
And the dragonfly perched on Marsha's hand was surely a better concept, anyhow. After all, the dragonfly plays a big part in the book - Marsha's little Knight in Shining Armour.
I'm sure I'll write more about Marsha's Bag...but for now I'll leave it there, and add some other bits & pieces at a later date.
My new e-book, Luvya Getcha, should be available in the middle or towards the end of November 2011, depending on how things go. The Kindle version should be uploaded to Amazon very soon, but the Smashwords version takes a bit longer, due to certain processes. Luvya Getcha is a good deal different from Marsha's Bag, and longer, too, at just over 100,000 words...although the price will be the same as Marsha's Bag.
And yes, once again it was me who did the cover! I think I might even have improved in Photoshop, if only slightly - after all, I managed, somehow, to add a little sparkle to the ring in the water there.
I've included the synopsis of Luvya Getcha, along with the first chapter below:
Jazzy Beckett touches a skeletal hand that is sticking out of a riverbank...and all at once, she is lost to the owner of that hand, a nasty piece of work named Carolyn Crossley, also known as CC.
CC was murdered back in the 60's by a man named Max Trumain. Now it is up to Jazzy's husband Richard to find Max Trumain and bring him to CC. But if Richard fails, then Jazzy will die. No ifs or buts. CC will drown Jazzy in the river. Jazzy who is pregnant, if only just, and expecting the child that she and Richard have always wanted.
With no time to spare, Richard sets out on a journey that draws him into an ever-darkening world of ghosts, death, and love. Love that has been stolen...by the dead.
There was a hand sticking out of the riverbank, a skeletal hand. Richard Beckett saw it, but his wife, Jasmine, saw it first.And she touched it
And that was when Richard lost her.
To the owner of that hand.
‘I’ll call the police,’ he said, unaware right then that he had lost his wife. He took out his phone, and began to make the call.
But then: ‘Hey, is that a telephone you’ve got there?’
That voice, it had come out of Jasmine’s mouth…but it hadn’t sounded like Jasmine’s voice. It was her, all right, crouched there in front of that hand, looking around at him through the dark, glossy fall of her hair, but that voice!It was just too husky, and too direct, to be Jazzy Beckett’s voice.
‘Did you hear me, you idiot?‘ Jasmine said…or rather, Jasmine’s mouth said. ‘If that is a telephone you’ve got there, then you can put it down, and right now! Just drop it!’
Startled, Richard did as she said, he dropped the phone, like it was suddenly too hot to hold. ‘There, it’s done,’ he said. ‘But what the hell is up with you, Jazzy? We’ve got a dead body here, I need to call the police!’
Jasmine stood. Turned around. Came over to him. ‘What you need is to do nothing…apart from listen to me. But first I need to get acquainted with this body here.’ She began to run her hands up and down her body, her hips gyrating, her breasts thrust out, her tongue poked out, and running it around her lips.
Richard laughed, just couldn’t help himself. ‘Oh please, stop this, would you? This is a serious situation here! Stop acting like you’re someone else!’
‘I’m not acting,’ Jasmine said. ‘I am someone else. Your wife is no longer around, she’s not here, I have…expelled her.’
‘Expelled her?’ Richard said, bemused.
Jasmine looked up at the sky, and then made a hand weave gently, this way and that. ‘Yes, expelled her, and now she is drifting around, hither and thither, like a ball of fluff on the breeze.’
She snapped her gaze back to Richard. ‘So now you’ve got me, yes, little old me, living inside your wife’s body. It’s not a bad body, either, I must say. A little on the stringy side - she could do with a good Sunday roast, with apple pie and custard to follow. Nevertheless it will do. Yes, it will do.’
She introduced herself to him then, like they were strangers at a cocktail party. ‘Carolyn Crossley, my name is, but you can call me CC, just like my friends used to.’
‘CC?’ Richard said. ‘Is this really happening?’
‘It is,’ CC said. ‘Your wife is no longer around. I’m the one in charge here, me, little CC. Your wife, she touched my hand, and I jumped into her, quick as a fox snatching a hen. Now, are you just going to gawp at me all day, or are you going to help your wife?’
Richard Beckett was here by the riverbank at the bottom of their garden, after the storm last night that had made the river swell and become so violent that the rushing, boiling water had torn great chunks out of the banks, on both sides, and what had been exposed, aside from the many tangled bunches of tree roots, had been that skeletal hand.
That skeletal hand that Jasmine had been foolish enough to touch…and now…this?
And what was this, exactly? Some kind of elaborate joke that he could not, as yet, understand? If it was, then fine, bring it on, whatever, a joke was a joke. But, what he did not want was for this joke to just go on and on until it drove him mad…
Just that it was - already he could feel it munching into his brain, when all he wanted was everything back to normal. Just he and Jasmine, stood by the riverbank, watching the muddy-brown water flow by.
‘Help her?’ Richard said. ‘What do I do, exactly? Pull you out of her mouth and put my wife back in there somehow?’
‘No. What you do is find Max Trumain, and then you bring him to me. Then you can have your wife back.’
‘Please,’ Richard said, ‘I’m finding this a little difficult, you know?’
‘I bet,’ CC said, nodding. ‘But you need to stay with me on this…because I need you. And you need me. That’s the thing, you see. That’s the thing more than any other thing: that you need me. So let’s get to it, shall we? Let’s get down to business.’
She looked down at the phone then, lying there at his feet. ‘Pick that up.'
‘Is it a telephone?’ she asked.
‘Yes,’ Richard said, playing along with this, in spite of himself. ‘It's an i-phone.’
'An i-phone?' she asked. 'You use your eye to make a telephone call?'
'No. It's the name of the phone.' He held it out for her to look at.
She did, by craning her neck and peering down at it. ‘How small is that?’ she said. ‘And no wires! No dial, either, that you stick your finger in to ring the number. So how does it work?’
‘I don’t know,’ Richard said. ‘I’m not really interested in how things work. I just buy them and use them.’
‘Like a woman with a vacuum-cleaner, you mean?’ CC asked. ‘Like, she doesn’t need to know how it works, just knows that it sucks up all the shit, right?’
'Yeah, something like that,’ Richard said, and then, feeling desperate, and knowing that he sounded desperate, he put his phone back in his pocket, and after that, he suddenly grabbed Jasmine by the upper arms. Shouted into her face: ‘Please, Jazzy, stop this, stop this right now - !’
‘Get your hands off of me!’ CC snarled back at him, and right then, he caught a whiff of her breath, like rotten meat wafting out at him, and then breaking over his face. Not Jasmine’s breath, that’s for sure. Her breath always smelled sweet - if ever there a mint devil, then it was Jasmine Beckett. She got through packets of the damn things.
‘Pull yourself together!’ CC went on. ‘What are you, a man or a mouse? If you’re a mouse, then your wife’s days are numbered. Because I’m just going to hang around here, come rain or shine, until you bring Max Trumain to me. Simple as that. I won’t eat, I won’t drink, I’ll just hang around here until finally this body here dies.’
‘My God,’ Richard breathed. ‘This is a nightmare!’
‘It’ll be an even bigger nightmare if your wife dies, wouldn’t you agree? And it won’t just be her...’ CC all of a sudden cupped Jasmine’s belly, and tenderly, too. Not that there was much of a belly to cup, but of course, you didn’t need the physical sign, the symbolic sign was enough.
CC nodded. ‘Not by much, a few weeks, that’s all. That’s pretty much how far gone I was when Max Trumain killed me that day. Killed me and then buried me here by this river.’
Pregnant,’ Richard whispered. ‘My God, we've been trying for years, and nothing. We started to think it would never happen.’
‘Well, it has, finally,’ CC said. ‘So what are you going to do? Help me? Or just let these two people die?’
Richard Beckett knew there was only one way to go with this, no other way. He could only do as CC said, no matter what. Just that he had never felt so helpless! So helpless and so confused! He felt like he needed the rest of the week, maybe even the rest of the year, to get his head around this.
But he didn’t have the rest of the year…and probably didn’t even have the rest of the week. Just now, right now, was all that he had. So what he did was set the controls to automatic pilot, and then hope for the best.
‘Okay,’ he said, ‘I’m talking to my wife, but yet I’m not talking to my wife, is that what you’re saying?’
‘It is. You’re talking to your wife’s face, but you’re not talking to her spirit. You’re talking to my spirit, the spirit of Carolyn Crossley.’
‘Or CC for short.’
‘Okay,’ Richard said, composing himself, not succeeding, just trembling, really, and feeling dizzy, but pressing on, anyhow. ‘And this Max Trumain, he killed you, and then he buried you right here, by the river.’
‘When was this?’ Richard asked.
‘The summer of sixty-four,’ CC said. ‘What year is it now?’
‘Two-thousand and eleven,’ Richard said. ‘Which means you’ve been dead for over forty-five years.’
‘Forty-five years,’ CC said, thoughtfully. ‘That means that Max Trumain would be in his eighties by now.’
‘Could even be dead,’ Richard suggested, like he hoped the CC woman would say, Yeah, you’re right, he could even be dead, probably is, so let’s call the whole thing off,eh?
But she didn’t. What she said was: ‘Yes, he could be, and if he is, then so is your wife.’ She pointed across the river with one of Jasmine’s pale, elegant hands. ‘You see those woods over there? I’ll take off into them…and that will be the last you’ll see of me. Those woods, they are the Blackthorn Woods. You can get lost in those woods and never be found. People have gotten lost in there and never been found.’
‘I know that,’ Richard said. ‘But why? Why would you do that? It won’t be my fault if Max Trumain turns out to be dead.’
‘No, it won’t,’ CC agreed. ‘But what you need to understand Mr…ah…what’s your name, by the way?’
‘Richard. Richard Beckett.’
‘Right, Richard Beckett. And your wife’s name is Jazzy, yes?
‘No, it’s Jasmine. Jazzy is her pet-name.’
CC gave him an offhand look. ‘Yeah, like I give a fuck. I don’t, that’s the truth of it. And it was that, my cold streak, that got me killed that day, that’s the plain fact of it. So you see, Richard, if Max Trumain is dead, or if he isn’t dead, but instead you bring the police here, then I will take off into those woods over there. It is not an idle threat. I will do that. Make no mistake about it.’
‘I believe you,’ Richard said. ‘Looks like Max Trumain will have to be alive then, doesn’t it?’
‘Yes, it does…if you want your wife back, that is.’
‘I do,’ Richard said, and right then, he all of a sudden felt exhausted, like he’d just run in a half-marathon. Just wanted to collapse, fall asleep, and quite possibly never wake up again.
‘Good, so you want your wife back, well that’s a start then, isn’t it?’ CC said. ‘But just in case I haven’t painted a clear enough picture for you, then please allow me to do so. I could sit here on this riverbank and pleasure myself all day with a large vegetable. Or maybe go one further, and find some randy farmhand around here to give me a good seeing to. Failing that, if I get bored waiting around for you to return with Max Trumain, then why don’t I just wade out into the water there and simply drown this pretty woman of yours? It’ll make no odds to me. It’s not my body, is it? Why would I care?’ She gave him a hard, blunt look. ‘Is that picture clear enough for you?’
‘A little too clear,’ Richard said…and then…he grinned. It seemed to him that he’d been sucked, and deeply, into this joke, this elaborate joke, which, at the moment, he hadn’t gotten to the bottom of. But he would. Eventually he would. Then the two of them, he and Jazzy, would laugh together like a right old pair of idiots. ‘Pleasure yourself with a large vegetable,’ he said, grinning harder. ‘Jesus.’
A hand was waved gently in front of his face right then. ‘You’re still not getting any of this, are you?’ CC said, but of course it was not CC, there was no CC, just Jasmine...and this elaborate joke, of course.
‘Yeah, I’m getting it, all right,’ Richard said. ‘I’ve been well and truly taken here, haven’t I? A randy farmhand indeed. Whatever next?’
‘Yes, whatever next,’ Jasmine said. Had to be Jasmine, no other sensible explanation for it. But then she showed him her wedding ring, by holding up her left hand, the fingers splayed. ‘How much does this ring here mean to your wife, do you suppose?’
‘Pretty much everything,’ Richard said, the grin beginning to shrink a little on his face now. ‘Why?’
Just like that, the ring was removed, and then tossed into the river. No threat. The job was simply done in a jiffy. In a heartless jiffy.
‘No!’ Richard screamed. ‘Oh no, the fuck no!’
He jumped into the river. The river carried him away. He did not find the ring, even though he plunged down, several times, grasping, grasping, grasping for that ring. But nothing. So in the end, all he could do was grab hold of a tree root, as greasy as it was, and haul himself back up onto the bank.
Then he lay there, on his back, panting and coughing, coughing and panting. And crying, yes, he did that, too. He cried. And the river rushed by his feet. And the sun glowed in his eyes. And the wind, the somewhat chilly wind, made him shiver.
Then a shadow fell over him. ‘Are we ready to talk?’ CC said. ‘Are we really ready to talk?’
‘We are,’ Richard Beckett said. ‘Yes, we are.’
Well, that's it, my first blog. Over the coming months, I'll add some stuff on my upcoming novels. There are two which are in the first draft stage. One is entitled Hels Place, although it has nothing to do with hell...not in the Biblical sense, anyhow. And also I haven't inadvertantly mis-spelled Hels; it all becomes clear in the story. The other novel is Flowers From A Different Summer, a story of revenge that goes wrong...horribly wrong!
But for now, and once again, many thanks. Do leave a comment, if you can.
Update: Luvya Getcha is now available on Amazon for the Kindle & for the Kindle App.