Archive for November, 2012

Bold, Beautiful and Brave
November 28, 2012

I have just watched the BBC 3 Documentary ‘Transsexual Teen, Beauty Queen ‘ on i-player. For those of you interested in seeing it for yourself, you have five days and counting – and it’s worth the rush because this lady is exactly the way I describe her in the title.

Watch it here whilst you can:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00w09yg

At eighteen, Jackie Green has seen more trauma, confusion, bullying and torment than most see in a life time and yet she emerges from thirteen years of nightmare confident, serene and undoubtedly beautiful. Jackie is a new generation of transgender people, although she had to make a bit of history herself to pave the way for others. She went to America to obtain hormone blockers below the age they would be prescribed in the UK, which then enabled her to make her so successful transition to a young woman. Sadly, such treatment is far more difficult to obtain in the UK, meaning that for many the onset of puberty has already allowed the bodily changes that make authenticity difficult for them as transgender people. Jackie ‘passes’ perfectly for female – no it’s not a  derogatory term, it’s a phrase many trans people use to denote someone who is so authentic in their gender role, no observer would know there had ever been an issue – and it is what all aspire to, but not so many achieve.

But Jackie is more than that, she is a real girl and that became very obvious when, on her final attempt to make it into the Miss England beauty pageant finals, she specifically didn’t tell her interviewers in the ‘personality’ round that she was transgender and give them the benefit of her back story. She was just Jackie, and judged purely as a girl against other girls in the contest.

In my research into transgender issues and whilst writing my novel following the life and transition of Will – Billie, I read many things, spoke to various people in various stages of transition and came to understand some, but barely enough of what it is to deal with this complex, challenging – and for those of us who don’t know what it feels like – confusing, condition; gender disphoria.

  Some information from the NHS website is here:

  http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Gender-dysphoria/Pages/Introduction.aspx

watch the whole video of boy to girl here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upPpNb846JE

and I have included parts of a moving plea from a US transgender website in the novel (Chained Melody – out January 18th 2013), which says this:

‘…I have had to surrender much of my life to the brutality and incomprehension of societal ignorance surrounding the phenomenon of transsexualism. That ignorance and prejudice costs lives is no new discovery, it is the bane of every age whether it shows up in war or in civil violence or in silent hatred and misunderstanding. In this case though it was my own life that has been bled away year by year in my efforts to correspond to what body may have indicated but my soul knew to be an alien fabric out of which I could never hope to weave a complete or a happy life. The only comfort I have for those lost days and years during which I was a stranger to myself frantically seeking to garb my soul in the personalities and expectations of others, is that I might be the last generation to know such pointless suffering. That is why I am writing today, to spare others lost years, lost hopes, lost lives…’

http://www.susans.org/reference/gfam3.html

What I have learned – and Jackie, and recently also Juliet Jacques, in her Guardian blog, have confirmed for me – is that anyone living through and coming out the other side of being transgender is certainly bold, beautiful and brave – whatever they look like.  Jackie, if you do compete in Miss England again next year, you have my vote!But one word of caution. Don’t think you are unfairly trading on your back story. It is what makes you a girl, but a very special girl and that story is part of what makes you special. Not because you are transgender, but because you’ve lived through the transition from male to female with grit, determination and dignity. You’ve risen above prejudice and openly been true to yourself in the face of opposition. That’s a story all in itself…

Some links of interest for anyone involved with this issue themselves or wishing to be supportive of those still struggling with it:

www.mermaidsuk.org.uk

http://www.gires.org.uk/transbullying.php (Guidance to Combating Transphobic Bullying in Schools is a publication from GIRES, the Gender Identity Research and Education Society, whose aim is to create supportive attitudes among those who can influence improvements in the lives of trans people and how they are perceived in society).

http://www.gires.org.uk/

http://www.beaumontsociety.org.uk/

http://gendertrust.org.uk/

More information about Chained Melody, it’s publication date and the location of book signings as they are agreed can be found on my website:

http://www.debbiemartin.co.uk/novels/

It is launching concurrently, and with the arrival of the ‘Living my Life’ exhibition in Bournemouth. Come and see the portraits, meet the people and chat to the author – 18th to 25th January. All details will be on the website shortly.

Follow me on Twitter @Storytellerdeb

And Like me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DebbieMartin.Author

Interview with the Author
November 21, 2012

I’m being a bit of a narcissist here but I was very flattered to be interviewed the other day and here is the interview report:

Interview with Debbie Martin, author of The Strategy

Tell us about The Strategy.
A bit of fun, with a serious purpose. If you’re single and don’t want to be, how to make the most of ALL your opportunities to meet a mate and make it last – without going online or embarrassingly trying to sell yourself via an introduction agency. What am I talking about ? The Strategy: Single and Don’t Want to Be? All the directions and none of the detours … Now out on Kindle for a teeny tiny £2 and yet containing so many ruses, surprises and clever tips – right down to how to respond to a text for maximum attraction – and from some of the most up and coming dating guru’s too.

What genre is it?
Dating and relationship/self-help.

What would you say if someone asked what makes you an expert on this subject?
I found myself single again over 7 years ago and in that time have tried more or less everything there is – introduction agencies, blind dates, speed-dating, internet dating and ‘singles’ groups – in the misapprehension that you HAVE to be in a relationship. Of course you don’t – we would all just prefer to be, and for many, it is the difference between contentment and dissatisfaction. My experiences have led me to believe that the old fashioned way of things actually work best – meet, befriend and then get intimate. As a result I now also run a singles social events group on the south coast of England with over 2000 members and we socialise. Of course some date too, but they are dating people they’ve already got to know and liked first …

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
Young, old and in between, as long as they’re single.

Aren’t the techniques a single 20 year old needs to employ different from those a 40 year old might use?
In many ways, no; you have to be able to make contact, flirt, interact and sustain a relationship in exactly the same way but possibly the venue and environment that a 20 year old does that in as opposed to a 40 year old differs sufficiently to make their behaviour different.

For a 20 year old a relationship can start and end in a night and they are still testing the waters with love and dating so their relationships are often more experimental and more casual. For a 40 something, the element of security and reliability is more important, so their approach will be more qualitative than quantitative. However, all the techniques in ‘The Strategy’ would work for either age or sex.

People sometimes say that if you go out looking for love that is when you are least likely to find it. Is that a nonsense?
No, I think it is true. When you aren’t seeking to impress or put on a show, you are your most natural self and you are far more likely to attract someone who is interested in the real you than when you are putting yourself on display. Think of all your friends – how did they become your friends? Because you went all out to convince them? Or because they simply got to know and liked you for who you are? The same applies with romantic relationships.

There are more singles out there than possibly ever before in human history. Are we just forgetting skills that came naturally to our forebears?
There are several reasons for the numbers of singles out there now.
• Firstly there is choice and independence. Women are not now expected to marry and settle down. They can – and sometimes do – choose to put more into their career than their relationship potential.
• There is no longer the same expectation that marriage is for life and you have to stick it out whatever. If it goes wrong, couples now choose to separate and try their luck with someone else.
• The internet. Yes, there is no doubt it has affected our people skills. Whilst we think we are getting better at them, we are in fact getting worse. How many Customer Service operatives do you find rude and abrupt, rather than welcoming and helpful? How many people spend more time texting than talking? How many people opt to send an email to a phone call because it can be winged off immediately and the answer left in abeyance until it suits to reply? How many internet daters do you hear complaining about being ignored, cut off dead, two-timed or made to feel of less interest than the other ones on their prospective dates list simply because they ARE on a list? Unfortunately the internet – for all its usefulness and expediency in current society – does create an artificial barrier between people which makes it easier to treat each other with less humanity, courtesy and care than if we had to deal with those same people face to face. Consequently our communication and people skills have become less sensitive and empathetic since the internet has connected us globally. If you had to talk to someone face to face and tell them why you had ignored their invitation to chat, would you ignore that invitation quite so readily…?

But we find our books, our music, our groceries, our friends online – so why should our life partners be so different?
Because life is lived in the real world and whilst the internet is part of our real world, people and relationships are what add the star quality to it. Books, groceries, music are all commodities. Friends and lovers are not. And although there are now dating sites online where you can have a virtual relationship with an avatar of your choice – do you really want to?

I will just round off by saying that I had a lot of fun internet dating and I tell some of the funny stories, but also one or two more disturbing ones in my book Are You The One?

Is it true that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to meet your prince?
Apparently we have to meet at least 17 people before the odds are stacked in our favour of one of them being attractive to you. OK, 17 people – that’s not so bad, but of course, whilst they might be the one out of your 17 that you find attractive, you might not be the one in their 17 that they find attractive – and so it goes on. I’ll leave you to calculate the odds of success…

You write fiction as well. Does writing non-fiction require a different skillset?
Writing fiction is totally different in terms of content, but the discipline is the same. You have to have a plan, try to stick to it and write a little every day or every time you’d planned to write. Sometimes you get stuck – the archetypal writers block, but the more you write the easier it is. If I get stuck I tend to leave it to distil a little and a few days later a new idea or a new twist on an old idea will pop out like a sausage out of the sausage machine – quite amusing really. Fiction is my real love and I have too many ideas usually. I often have at least 4 or 5 novel ideas simmering away at any one time but I only work on one idea at a time. I am just completing my third novel which includes a throwback to the Salem witch trials, but already have the ideas and even some of the sentences forming for the second book in my box of darkness trilogy, the first of which, ‘Courting the Dark’, should be out next year. It will have to wait until after Christmas though when I have planned to have the first draft of the Salem book completed otherwise they will cross-fertilise and become confused.

My first novel will be published in January 2013 – ‘Chained Melody’, an unusual love and life story, and it will be available on Amazon and through my website so watch this space for it and many more.
Fiction tends to be more methodical in that there are a set of facts, principles and ideas that you want to get across in a coherent whole, but whilst also making it entertaining and engaging and that can be more difficult than writing fiction, which is naturally more interesting because it involves applying imagination, but that also makes writing a good non-fiction book a challenge, and I love a challenge!

How long did this book take to write?
About 3 months.

And what was the most challenging part of the process?
Actually, marshalling all the information – there is a lot of it!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
A child almost of the sixties, I’ve experienced a variety of careers and life. Now widowed, with two teenage daughters, living in a thatched cottage in Hampshire, I run a small social events business, work as a business event co-ordinator for the University of Winchester and have discovered I love writing. My first two works are non-fiction, the third a novel, which is coming out in January, 2013.

Have you got a blog where readers can keep up with your work?
Yes https://debbiemartin.wordpress.com/

And where can we buy The Strategy?
Amazon or via my website.

What’s next?
My novel, Chained Melody is due out in January 2013 and novel number 2, which is going to be the first in a trilogy – Courting the Dark will be following later on in 2013.

Thank you Indie Author Land

Please do follow me on Twitter @StorytellerDeb for my writing

@SocialsingleDeb for Singles that Mingle news

And come and like the pages on Facebook for special offers and news coming soon:

My writing page :          http://www.facebook.com/DebbieMartin.Author

Singles that Mingle:     http://www.facebook.com/singlesthatmingle

Disturbing times ahead …
November 12, 2012

There are always moments of crisis or change in our lives and often they produce insights and inner knowledge we didn’t have before. They change us – maybe indefinably to those who are the onlookers of our lives, but subtly and irrevocably to us, the intimate viewers of our own landscape.  I call these exciting, but disturbing moments, transformations because they do transform us in some way. And transformations do not have to be earth-shattering or mind-boggling. The most significant ones are often quiet realisations of a tiny part of the bigger whole, because that’s exactly what we are most of the time – a part of the whole.

And so, obviously, I write about transformation in my books. Maybe the transformation is frivolous and fun – changing a shrinking violet into a gaudy sunflower as they read and laugh at my embarrassingly naïve antics in ‘Are you the One?’ (You can do that too here:

Buy Are You The One? Here 

Maybe it is gaining confidence from defining a route forward by taking on board

the ideas in ‘The  Strategy’ – which by the way can be downloaded free from Amazon:

Download the Strategy here:

on 1st December – but be quick about it, and please leave a review as a thank you …

However, some transformations are massive, and create a massive impact in the lives of not only the person transforming, but those around them too. I want to introduce you to one such massive transformation that has and is taking place in the lives of a small minority of the population but nevertheless one that makes us question many of our principles and attitudes and sometimes find ourselves and our empathy sadly wanting. I have written a book about it, called Chained Melody which will be published in January 2013.

Some very talented people have taken beautiful photographs of it and they will be on display in Bournemouth Library, and Flirt Café Bar, also in Bournemouth from the 18th to the 25th January 2013:

http://www.flirtcafebar.com/Events.html

And some very brave people will be telling and showing what that transformation meant for them as a result:  Transsexualism.

Have a look at the links and find out a bit more about another life, lived in what might seem like another world to the one you inhabit, but which is actually only just next door.

What spurred on a very hetero heterosexual to write a book about it?

This from Shakespeare:

‘For such as we are made of, such we be.’

Twelfth Night Act 2 Scene 2 line 3

And,

‘There is no darkness but ignorance.’

Twelfth Night Act 4 Scene 2 line 41

 

To take ourselves out of the darkness of ignorance, we have to experience something new and often disturbing – to have our own transformation.

Here we go – the back cover blurb fom the book to get you going, and next week a little sample of what’s inside the cover:

 

‘Chaos is rejecting all you have learned, chaos is being yourself.’ – Emil e M Cioran

Can the flutter of a butterfly’s wing cause a ripple in the world, so big it can change not just one life – but many? Chaos theory says it can, claim the theorists. Two men, two lives, one seemingly small incident, but it changes one man’s whole view of himself and the chrysalis transforms into a butterfly whose fragile wings cause shockwaves beyond those imaginable in the lives of the people around him.

Set in the 1970-80’s, the hurricane whipped up by this butterfly’s wings brings not only dramatic change at a time when the sexual revolution was already under way, but death, damnation and forbidden love. Transsexual transformation, the nature of love, and finding a true self from within are all set against a backdrop of life in the permissive eighties – and a suspicious death which creates the test of whether true love really exists or whether the chains of social convention will keep it forever imprisoned.

Join me on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/DebbieMartin.Author?ref=hl

Twitter:

@StorytellerDeb

And on my website:

www.debbiemartin.co.uk

And please do talk back – I love a good conversation …

Debbie Martin