My upcoming debut, "Parasite Girls" is finished. It will soon become an eBook, and available through Amazon.com for eReaders such as Kindle and others. I will also put it into the KDP Select program, which will let readers borrow the book.
Tomorrow my intrepid friend Alice will introduce me to a fellow in Harrisburg who may become my cover designer. We need a good one, and I like what I have seen.
Legal matters, such as the "Doing Business As" or dba are being put in place, and I have a few other similar bits to deal with. But it's coming together, and I hope before summer you will have my first in your hands.
Followers of me on Facebook, Google+ and other areas will know that I embarked on yet another manuscript, which I finished yesterday. "The Drifters" is one of a long line of YA-type stories with my own twists. There is kind of a theme with my stories of this genre but I think they're interesting and entertaining.
Bear in mind, the first draft with me always is bad. Holes in the plot to fix, character stuff to firm up, and it is a long process with me. No one despite what they may say ever gets it right the first time.
In the meantime, along with my hours and hours devoted to hammering away on my laptop, I do have other things to do. I hope to have other news from the more mundane world one day, but in any case, this is how things go, and we have to roll with that.
As much as I love what I do, making a living is not a practical consideration, at least not yet. Some of us are finding themselves at a crossroads at mid-life or a little bit past it.
I'm 47. I'm not old, and I certainly no longer feel it. I've made a point of trying to, not so much remain young, but to maintain some kind of youth in myself, even if I by the number would be considered a boring old fart. Well, I'll never be that.
It's life, and I do my best to remain optimistic, though it can be hard. Anyone around me knows that.
So, I'm slowly moving forward in the ways I need to, and we'll see what goes next. That's it.
NOW...would you like to read the Prologue to "The Drifters?" Bear in mind please, this bit might not even be in the book, and it will be some time before this gets out.
The opening is narrated by the main character, and we will see much of the story through her eyes and her own recollections. It's a strange one, to be sure...
Prologue—All Hands on Deck
Zhac popped his head through the hatch of the Southern Cross and shouted, “It is on, mes amies!”
We looked up from our work on deck. Zhac’s unshaven face, his blue eyes alight with unaccustomed excitement flew up the steps, past the wheel and onto the stern.
I’m in the middle of stitching a sail, which lies over the boat like a disemboweled accordion. Next to me are my sister Kiku and her BFF Mari-chan; they’re folding and straightening the seams. Our brother Kenta is forward, testing the foresail with Ariel.
“What’s on?” I ask, though I already know from the scratchy marine radio that blasts from below decks.
“The prevailing winds,” Zhac announced to us, and anyone in earshot on the other boats, “are shifting. By Sunday, we shall have favorable conditions. We sail that day, and without fail!”
Today is Thursday. As I look across the deck of the Southern Cross, there’s no way in hell we’re gonna be ready for that. “Zhac,” I politely inform him, “we’ve still got a lot to do. How are we gonna get this sail fixed, and everything stowed before then?”
The enormous sail covers boxes of provisions and supplies and tools, all of which has to be put away before we can even think of casting off. My logic is correct, but I’ve known Zhac long enough to know what he views as practical is different from mine.
“Oh, we can make it work, Nee-chan,” Kiku chirps as she jumps to her feet, her pigtails flopping about.
“Yes,” Mari-chan chimes in, “I’m excited we finally have a date.”
I sigh but on the inside. Don’t get me wrong, I love my little sister and Mari-chan to death, but they are kids. If you could see them, you’d understand.
Kiku is your stereotypical Japanese girl, hands down. She and Mari-chan are in their last year of junior high. They’ve both got the cute thing going, the long black hair, all that. They bounce over to Zhac in their summer gear, and want to know more.
You’d think both girls were sisters, they’re that close in look and build. The only difference is that Mari-chan is Korean. Mariko is her given name, but everyone calls her by the familiar; she’s one of us.
Our big brother Kenta comes aft. He’s a year older than me. Kenta doesn’t walk so much as glide; he picks his way across the deck in a practiced manner.
He is a good looker; a lot kids remark how much Kenta looks like guys in anime shows. I can see it; he wears his hair a little long in back, and it floats about his face. “What’s the plan, O Captain?” He calls.
Ariel follows in his wake. Now, I have to explain Ariel to you. She is tall for a woman and has a body I have never seen on another in my life. Ariel’s is a muscular frame, with just enough curve in the right places; her breasts are the perfect size…well, all of her is just perfect.
As usual when on the boat, Ariel is wearing next to nothing, a colorful bikini with some kind of mini-sarong. It’s not to show off; Ariel is the kind of woman who can make anything look good. That’s the first thing you notice, and it takes attention from real mystery of her.
Ariel’s voice is neutral. It’s not feminine or masculine; her skin always has a tan. Her features are western, with high cheekbones and a sculpted face. She never wears makeup, either.
She is Zhac’s partner on the Southern Cross. They live on the boat, and have co-existed for several years if the stories Zhac tells are true.
A face pokes out from the shadows of the cabin, a multi-colored knit cap followed by a thick pair of glasses, bangs of black hair that fall within the frames and without, plus that pale, unassuming face. It’s Yoko, the last member of our club. Her t-shirt is knotted at the hip and reveals a pair of ultra-tight cutoffs and skinny legs. Yoko’s in my class in high school, and my right hand.
We gather on the stern, and Zhac fills us in on the weather situation. It’s mostly meteorological stuff I don’t understand, but everyone is excited, except Ariel and me. Ariel doesn’t get excited about anything.
Zhac details what needs to be done if we’re to make sailing time Sunday. We only have a few weeks in the summer break, and if we’re going to do this we’ve got to get moving. I appear to be the only one thinking of that.
“Let’s get to it,” I say. When I speak, people listen, but I wonder if it’s grudgingly. I am the type that gets things done, and properly. What’s the point if not?
Zhac now sits with us and pulls on the sailmaker’s gloves I was using before. They’re like heavy gauntlets, and you need them to protect your hands. Running big needles through canvas is not like stitching a dress; it’s hard work. I will say this about Zhac; he doesn’t just give orders. He’s a pro, and never asks us to do anything he would not do himself.
I sit again with Kiku and Mari-chan, and we listen to Zhac as he goes on about the stitching and the lines we’ll need. Kenta and Ariel lower the foresail and secure it, then go about to ensure the lines that hold us to the dock are taut. Yoko disappears into the cabin, tasked with creating space and getting supplies stored. She has the mind for it.
The Southern Cross is Zhac’s sailboat, but it’s an odd one. Technically a ketch, she boasts twin junk sails, like the Chinese vessels. The boat is not impressive at first glance, but it’s easy to sail and handle. That’s important, Zhac says, because conditions on the ocean can change in a snap.
Zhac and Ariel have lived here in Tosa Harbor for some time. They don’t work, apart from giving sailing lessons to the occasional tourist. Kenta was in the Sailing Club last year, and Zhac offered our school the use of his boat (for a fee, of course). Zhac has become quite the character in our village, even among the native fishermen and sailors of this part of Kochi.
Zhac is Canadian, but he and Ariel are both fluent in Japanese. I don’t know how old Zhac is, but I guess in his thirties. His brown hair is curly and scraggly, his face bears a perpetual two-day growth of beard, and his clothes are all worn and secondhand. He always wears an old sailor’s coat even in warm weather, and a cap with some nautical symbol on it. You’ll also find him in the company of his guitar. Zhac’s a decent singer and does mostly Canadian songs, nearly all of which we’ve never heard of.
His father and grandfather were sailors like him. The stories (or “yarns”) he regales people with are entertaining, but you wonder how much of those are true. Doesn’t matter; Zhac is a good guy, and someone we trust.
That’s a hard thing for me; oh, and who am I? My name is Kahori Aizawa; I’m 16 and in my second year at Manjiro High School. Those I have described are my family and friends. We are those who make up the club, which I am president of. This is how it all started, as far as any of us can remember.
We are the Drifters. This is our story.
Well, there you have it...let me know what you think!