Wednesday, 10 July 2013

July Ink and Beyond...

We've booked our winter escape from the future cold!  Muahahahhaaaaa... palm trees here we come, time for grandma to spoil the little one (and us!).  But that's months away.  For now, it's glorious weather here and the only downside is that it's keeping the toddler up late at night which digs into my writing time. And I still have to see that jeweller about doing an internship while I'm out there (didn't want to contact him before we had the dates set firm).

I’ve got just the rest of the month to draft out the rest of Downtrodden and then send it to an agent… I wasn’t intending on sending it out, but a glorious writer I know has suggested I do it (although the deadline is my own and will probably extend into next month).  She is currently working as an intern for said agent.  I dare not get my hopes up – Downtrodden is not the standard novel and it’s not written in third person limited in a single voice; it’s third person limited from many voices in many sections (yes, yes, as I said earlier, it’s not normal – it’s like a miniseries on TV).  Which is why I can’t get my hopes up.  I’ve broken rules…

Yet seeing the end to the draft will mean my celebrating – I started Downtrodden years ago, first as a flash fiction competition submission when I very first started writing seriously in 2008 after finishing (I use ‘finishing’ in the loosest of terms as I didn’t bother going beyond the fiction section as at that time there was no individual course for just fiction, let alone children’s and teen fiction… yet I’ve made my money back and then some, which is the only way to get a ‘pass’, but I’ve never bothered to send in for my certificate, I’m THAT lazy) Writer’s Bureau course.

If said agent isn’t interested, or is just shocked that I’ve send in something so abominable to the written word, I’ll publish it on kindle as a short series of four ‘books’, every other to be a free download – if people like it, then they can buy the next instalment, etc.  At any rate, it will be a fun experiment J

As for the rest of writing, knowonder no longer pays staff writers which is a shame but understandable.  They are, however, still paying general writers, so if anyone other than staff was considering submitting, don’t be put off. I’ll be spending more time of Highlights submissions in the future; it’s such an established magazine, I don’t expect it will have too many cuts (gulp… famous last words?)

The Isabella edit is taking longer than expected (did I say that last time too?) but the finished product will be very nice.  As for Three Women… it will be done on time (really, it will!) but Isabella is taking most of my hours and I’ve not even done anything for Seadrake this month – except pull my work from both high street shops.  I’m putting it all on etsy with sale prices to flush it out before I start on a new line. Onwards and upwards, yada yada…



Friday, 28 June 2013

New Books and Doomy Weather

I'm in a new anthology!  Look, here is the cover as it looks on amazon:

It’s the second day of official summer and it’s been pelting it down with rain (it takes me a bit of time to get round to posting these blogs).  I don’t mind – it just adds to more writing time.  And there has been a dramatic increase in writing time which I hope does not wane.  The new regime is this: an hour in the loft huddled on a pillow under the roof window while I write fiction until my battery runs out.  There are no internet, TV, child or food distractions.  No cat jumping on my keyboard, no little nips to my phone.  Just pure writing with the occasional play on mahjong while I think about plot and structure between chapters.

            I still have editing and my nonfiction to write during the day but once the evenings draw in, I smuggle my laptop upstairs while hubby watches an action film (I catch the end or beginning with him).  1000 words a weekday, means in 60 working days, I’ll have a 60,000 word novel.

            Well, it’s not everyday, I admit.  And there are some days when I just stare at the screen and try not to succumb to the pull of the internet, which is like a black hole for my time.

            Over the past few weeks I’d been stuck in a lull – my motivation was a bit down and I was thinking of properly giving up Seadrake, even without waiting until the end of the financial year.  I’d had a rejection too.  Funny thing is, I don’t even remember what it was for.  But then I got payment for one of my knowonder stories and I realised that I just needed a little spark of hope to keep me going. Now my writing is back in full force, Seadrake is back into play (and with a whole new business plan and the new, shiny, revamped website will go live before the end of the year which will focus more on cast sterling rings and necklaces) and all is right in the world.

            I think it’s that way for most writers (not to mention jewellers).  It’s hard times for fiction writers and even the most established of writers are wondering if they’ll have to look for new work and put down their pens (or just use their laptops for solitaire and candy crush).  Nobody seems to know the way forward anymore, and it’s certainly not the main publishers – anyone who’s attended the London Book Fair in the past five years would have noticed a worrying trend of empty stalls.  Nobody seems to be buying books much anymore (unless it’s celebrity slush).

            I’d love (like all authors) to get a fab contract.  A three-book contract with six digit royalties… and it might even happen to someone.  I’m fairly certain it won’t be me; I’m not mainstream enough.  But I can produce some beautiful reads.  They might be with indie publishers, they might be popped up on kindle or nook, but they’ll be out there.  Which I suppose, for now, is enough. And on that note, I’m pleased to announce that Downtrodden is very near the end and near completion.  My aim is to have it out on kindle before the end of the year and the cover is being worked on too.

            I am wondering about having the book separated into quarters and having the first as a free download, the second ‘instalment’ as a basic £1.50 download, etc.  If it does well, it can continue as a series.  More things to think about.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Inky Victorians

This is the photo that started my stories within the Isabella anthology.  At the end of this blog, I’ll add a bit of my work as a taster – the novel is due to be released within the year if all goes well, with Springbok Publications.
It’s been a funny old week.  Firstly, I must say that I’ve stepped back in time – no longer in my little spiral tower of inky doom where I normally do my time travelling by way of writing.  I mean really, truly, I walked into a place and was jetted back to the Victorian era.  I’m talking of course, of one of the magical rooms at the Talliston House and Gardens.  It’s the most magical place I’ve been to in a long time and I do believe I left half my soul in The Watchtower.  It’s my aim to go to the writer’s circle (now that I have my driver’s licence).
But a long and strange week has melded into another and the edits are at a slow pace.  My Three Women in Asylum is on halt and my Gothic Horror is my guilty pleasure, indulged in when the toddler is prepping for bed and husband allows me to sneak away up those stairs.
Now I’ve got to decide which works to bring to Talliston’s Writer’s Circle.  My fairytales book, Gothic horror novel, Three Women, or my children’s book… hmmm.

Friday, 7 June 2013

An Inky Edity Month

Hello all again!  It’s Friday – aka blog catch up day. 

So much has happened.  I’ve started by Seadrake blog: and be prepared – it’s dire. The situation, not the blog.  I’m very close to throwing in the towel, so the posts will be giving a true to life view of what it’s like starting a small jewellery company in an age where there is virtually no disposable income.  That said, I think it’s got potential to spin out a bittersweet ‘tried and failed, but hey, at least I tried’ book.

Books, that brings things home.  So many books to work on this year, why did I allow myself to get distracted with Seadrake in the first place?  Ah yes, I was after some sort of income for a stay-at-home mum.  So far, writing has been my real income for the last two years.  Yes, a very meagre income too, but I’m blessed to have been given the post of ‘staff writer’ for which brings in the bulk of my literary earnings.  I’ve sold about three copies of Blood Tide in three months and one copy of Faerie Conspiracies.  The tax man is going to give me that look again – you know, the one where disbelief and frown mingle?  The, ‘what are you smoking??’ expression that means, ‘creative endeavours have no place in this day and age, and will definitely not bring you enough income for me to tax you.’

With little to no sales for my novels this year, I’m not going to be thinking about income or even hoping about it.  Instead, I’m going to be editing the Isabella anthology for Springbok Publications, the small press that is also going to publish Three Victorian Women in Asylum, of which I’ve only written two chapters and seventeen pages of notes.  Due this autumn, I will be buckling down as soon as the Isabella book is edited.

And… I’m still writing for knowonder.  Suite 101 is on the out – they don’t pay anything anymore and seem to be lost at sea…  With the knowonder stories, I’m compiling my own anthology of faerie lore based on a mixture of Grimm’s tales retold and expanded for modern understanding (but still in a fairytale ‘ancient’ setting) and Cornish tales, along with my own slant on the basic fairy lore formula.  It’s going to be pretty thick, and have illustrations throughout.  In two years, when it’s ready, I’ll publish it hardback, paperback and e-book and it’s the hardback copy I’ll be loving the most as fairy lore should be hardback, folio and ready to pass down the ages.

 I’m probably just repeating myself – so I’ll just add one of the fairy stories I’ll be putting in the book J


The Willow and the Whispering Woods

Deep in the woods in a land far across the ocean grew a huge willow tree. The people in the village just outside the woods knew it was a magical place but were too freighted to go there and told their children to stay away.

But of course, some children would sneak out to the tree anyway…

 “You’re not going into those woods, you’re too scared. And… you’re a… you know, a GIRL,” said one of the village boys to Tanya.

 Once again, she bristled, ready to shout back. But she couldn’t. She was holding her baby sister in her arms and didn’t want to make her cry. “I’ll go to the woods,” she whispered in the most menacing voice she could muster, “and I’ll bring back a piece of the tree to prove it.”

 “Yeah, right,” another boy said. They seemed to all be ganging up on her now. The other village children smelled a fight and started wandering towards them, their knees showing through tattered skirts and trousers.

 They all started jeering at her and calling her ‘coward’ until she furrowed up her brow and said, “I’m going right now, let’s see which one of you is brave enough to follow!”

 Her little sister Rose woke up and started crying, but as Tanya walked towards the woods, the baby fell back asleep in her arms. The dust kicked up at her heels, but she didn’t look back. She knew they wouldn’t follow and she was confident they’d never tease her again if she brought back a twig from the wood.

 Soon she was at the edge of her village and the road which was once well looked after and smooth, now became broken with potholes and weeds. Eventually, it disappeared under long grasses and elder trees. The air became cooler and she held Rose closer to her shoulder. “Not long now, and then we can go home for some lunch.” It was only partial truth as there was enough milk for Rose, but only a few berries for Tanya. Her mother was working hard to keep the food coming in, but times were hard since their father was sent to march with the Royal Army.

 The trees started to get closer and darker the further in they went, but Tanya wanted to see the ancient willow tree that held everyone in fascination. “Just one look and then, if I’m lucky, a fallen branch,” she whispered. But not seconds before she’d finished, the woods whispered back, “if you’re lucky, you’ll meet the lady of the tree and satisfied forevermore you’ll be.”

 Tanya clutched just a little tighter to Rose and slowed her pace. But she didn’t turn back. If anything, she was now more curious. The wood became even denser, but instead of having twigs and branches claw at her heels, they seemed to peel back away from her as if letting her pass. Soon, she could see a mound of earth, topped with the biggest willow tree she’d ever seen. Its branches opened up to the sky and its trunk was wider than both her arms stretched out. Its roots were half out of the ground and twisted round small boulders, spiralling up and around themselves. “Wow,” said Tanya. “Rose, look up – it’s the willow tree of legend. And we’re standing under its beautiful boughs.”

 Just then the birds stopped singing and a low wind rustled the leaves towards them. A soft, gentle whispering, almost like musical chimes rose up around them in the leaves. “Then welcome here my little friends, now come in peace and do defend, the reasons why you’ve come to me, I lift my boughs now you shall see…”

 The wind dropped and the two lowest branches of the willow tree lifted like welcoming arms; below, a gnarled root stairway twisted down. “Enter, if you dare,” came the whispering voice.

 Not wanting to put Rose in danger, Tanya left her wrapped safely between two roots of the tree and went below. Inside was glorious. The roots rose up around her to form the ceiling of a fairy palace. “Welcome,” said a tall woman with long flowing robes, “I am the spirit of the Willow. You may ask me one question or request one gift.”

 Tanya, previously brave, now felt shy. “I… I just need something to prove I’ve been to the woods,” she said in a meek voice.

 The lady laughed. “Would you not prefer a feast?” She waved her hand and a table filled with delicious-looking fruits and roasted vegetables appeared.

 Tanya was tempted, but she shook her head. “I must get back to my sister and go home,” she said. “But your offer is very kind.”

 The lady smiled. “You are very polite. Let me gift you this,” she said, holding out a wand made of the tree itself. “It will protect you in time of need.” Then, she and the room vanished and Tanya found herself outside the tree with Rose in her arms as if the last ten minutes had never happened. But in her left hand was clutched a willow wand. She pulled Rose in closer and noticed that she too had been given a gift by the lady of the tree: a small star no bigger than a pinpoint was on the baby’s forehead.

 Tanya left the wood in a daze and when she made it back to the village, the other children looked at her warily – partly with respect and just a hint of suspicion. Nobody went to the Whispering Woods.

 Odd hushed whispers spread around her and when she went to her home, she saw her mother with her head in her hands.

 “Tanya, I’m so sorry. I cannot pay the rent on the house and I cannot feed you. I have to go find work elsewhere and old Myssa has said she will look after you if you work for her.” At that, her mother broke into heavy sobs and wouldn’t be consoled.

 Once again pulling the sleeping Rose tightly to her shoulder, Tanya now knew life would indeed be different. That night, Tanya was taken to Myssa’s home on the edge of the village. There was a splintered cot for Rose and just a thin blanket with no bed for Tanya on the front room floor next to the fire.

 “You can start by scrubbing the floors,” said Myssa, “and then collect firewood from outside.”

 Tanya worked hard for Myssa, but both she and Rose were given food and milk – enough to live from. But Rose was cold and unhappy and cried too much for Myssa. So, one day when Rose was crying louder and longer than normal, Tanya was asked to bring a huge pot from the stables.

 “What’s that for?” asked Tanya. Myssa had never cooked enough food to need such a large cauldron.

 “Your sister is a menace and we don’t need the extra mouth. You work too hard looking after her when you should be looking after me.” Although she didn’t tell Tanya exactly what the pot was for, Tanya was filled with fear for her sister.

 So, when Myssa was out gathering herbs and berries from the edge of the wood, Tanya wrapped up her little sister, took her willow wand and escaped from the old witch’s house.

 “Stay quiet, little one, or I think we may be done for,” whispered Tanya to Rose. But Rose just smiled up at her, and for a moment, it looked like the star on her forehead started to glow.

 Just then Tanya heard Myssa stomping furiously through the house. “I know you’ve run off and taken our evening meal with you! I’m coming to get you both!”

 She burst through the back door and before she could see Tanya, Tanya whispered, “If only we could look like two stones…” In a heartbeat, Tanya and Rose turned from being human children into a large standing stone and a small boulder. Myssa didn’t recognise them and hunted the area until it was dark.

 When the first star shone down on the stones, the girls changed back into their normal forms but it was too dark to travel and so they curled up together in the barn and waited for morning.

 At dawn, Tanya and Rose were woken by the sound of Myssa’s angry voice. “I’m coming to get you now, I’ve found your footprints! You won’t escape this time.”

 “Please,” whispered Tanya, “let us be like mice in the hay.” Instantly, the two girls were once again changed. And again, Myssa didn’t recognise them.

 When she was gone, they changed back. “Come Rose, now we really must flee to the woods…” But as they left the stables, Myssa caught sight of them and chased after.

 Tanya’s legs were not as long as Myssa’s but she was younger and fear made her fast. She ran with Rose in her arms, jumped over roots and ducked under brambles, until there was a little distance between them and the witch. “Please,” she whispered again, “let us be like two rich princesses that the witch won’t recognise.” And with that, the two girls turned into finely dressed princesses with a white horse to guide them and a royal escort to follow behind.

 Tanya smiled and looked down at Rose. No longer wrapped in tattered old blankets, Rose now had silks and ribbons with pearls on her cap and a silver bell on her wrist. She giggled when she looked back at Tanya. “Now,” she said in a bold voice to the escort behind her, “there is an old witch following us who means us harm. Please take her away so we’ll be safe.”

 The escort nodded and in seconds, Tanya heard Myssa’s voice pleading for forgiveness. “What shall I do with her exactly?” asked the escort with a slight smile. For just a brief moment, Tanya was reminded of the lady of the willow tree.

 “Put her to work at the castle’s gardens,” Tanya said, surprising herself. “She may not like children, but she can still tend her plants well. Just don’t let her cook anything.” Tanya remembered with a shudder the large cauldron meant for Rose.

 Just then, a soft breeze from deep within the Whispering Woods carried to them light musical laughter, “Well chosen, my darlings…” As the Royal Escort left with Myssa, the two girls changed back to their own selves.

 Tanya sighed. She wished she could have stayed in the silk dress for longer. It would certainly pay the rent on her mother’s house. But not a moment after she’d made the wish in her head, Rose’s giggling laugh made her look down in surprise. Both girls were once again dressed in finery and there was a weighty purse dangling on her arm where there once was a wand. Tanya noticed that Rose’s little star was glowing brightly.

 Hunger made her go back to the village and buy bread and cakes from the bakery, but nobody recognised her when she entered. She pulled out a gold coin and handed it to one of the boys who hadn’t called her a coward the other day. “Find the woman known at Sasha and tell her she can move back into her house.” For Sasha was the name of her mother.

 Then she found the landlord in the tavern. “I wish to purchase the property formerly rented by Sasha,” she said in a serious tone.

 The landlord put his tankard of ale down and glanced over to her. His face changed from annoyance to wonder and he quickly stood up and bowed. “Y… yes, of course my lady, anything you wish!”

 Tanya smiled kindly and handed him three coins. “There, this will more than cover such a hovel. Now, can you please tell the builder to fix the roof and adorn it for a royal visit.” She gave him another coin and left with a smile on her face.

 By the time her mother returned to the village and her old home, the house looked like a small palace. Tanya, Rose and their mother lived comfortably there for many years and every spring, Tanya and Rose would go into the Whispering Woods and lay a wreath of roses for the lady of the willow tree as a thank you.


Thursday, 30 May 2013

Inky Drakey Plans

 (Oyster Fayre 2012)
All’s quiet on the Wyvern for sale front (if I’ve not yet mentioned, Wyvern Publications might have a buyer, but we’ll see how it turns out – I’m very excited about it! It means authors will have a chance to have their work back on the market and Wyvern itself still going).  Which suits me fine at the moment because it’s all about Seadrake in two days.  I never had a chance to finish the two brass leaf brooches – there were too many other things to do and my knuckles were aching in the cold, damp workshop (someday, after a lottery win, I can have the workshop insulated and have proper double glazing).  Today I’ve got to finish painting my Seadrake Creations banner for the Oyster Fayre.  I’m on plot A6, which is a big move up from last year and exactly the opposite far end of where I was before.  It’s going to be so much fun regardless of the weather.


Sales, however, will suffer if it rains… which brings me to the question I’ve been nagging myself over.  Is it all worth it?  This is the beginning of year 3 for Seadrake and I’ve struggled with it (as most new businesses will).  The difference is that I don’t really know if it’s worth the struggle anymore.  Goodness knows I’m not charging enough for my time or even enough to cover basic tools let alone PLI and pitch rentals.  There has been a renaissance in hand made traditional crafts but nobody outside London wants to (or can afford to) pay for the time and money it takes to produce something handmade and beautiful.  Something whacked out of the factory in the third world can give a similar effect for a fraction of the cost.  Let’s face it, we’ve all been belt pinching which is what brought on the handmade revolution in the first place.


And curse this whole issue of needing sleep and getting tired.  WHY can’t I get up at 5am all chipper and work and play with my toddler, get dinner on, bake fresh bread every Friday, grow fresh flowers and veg in the back, juggle Wyvern Publications, tackle the hedge, write two non-fiction books and one novel, keep a jewellery business going and still have time to write the blog without falling asleep or feeling like a zombie?  Okay, I get up at 7… but if I could, I’d wake up fresh at 5.  Can I pull the teen thing and say, “it’s not fair”?  It really isn’t.  My body can’t keep up with all these life plans I’ve got.  I’ll do the usual of working like mad, getting ill then having everything fall to a standstill for three months.  I know many people who struggle to get up in the morning just to face the day, so I am being greedy with wanting to do more.  Sorry peops, I’ll stop griping.


I do need to streamline again.  The allotment (you remember, the thing that was going to be my priority this year after family?) is on my axe list.  Every time I get on top of it, something happens to set me back months and not just the weather.  It’s time to move on and use the backyard as my growing space.  It will be after the season finishes, so I can harvest the last of the berries and rescue all my berry bushes and the shed and tools, water butts and composter.  The rest can stay there for next year’s grower. Shed BTW is going to be toddler’s own outside playhouse.  I’ll paint it up brilliantly for her.  The front is going to have a mini bridge over water plants (not real water plants, but plants that I feel represent water) and she’ll have her very own mini garden in front of her house to tend.  It will take some time (like, a year) but it will be good and I won’t have to worry about… well the things that have been helping me make the decision about dropping the allotment.

Now to bring on the Oyster Fayre and then I’ll only do Seadrake work for special orders for the next month as I’ve got to hammer out the draft of Three Victorian Women in Asylum and edit the Isabella anthology for Springbok Publications.  Forget the fact that I spent yesterday writing three new business plans.  Maybe I should just relax for a bit…

Thursday, 23 May 2013

To Boot or Not to Boot…

I’m going to be much better at blogging.  This time.  Truly!  I’ve got a new resolve and it’s going to be blogging and representing Seadrake better.  So it may be that I keep blending my two careers onto one blog or I may start an independent blog just about jewellery (or if you’re in the US – jewelry).  Not to be traitor to blogspot, but I’ve seen some amazing blogs on Wordpress and WOW.  It acts like their main jeweller’s website and blog with links to their Etsy shops.
Here is the main question: do I start selling smaller, less expensive items at the local car boot sale or do I focus on the larger and more expensive markets?  My experiences so far of vintage and craft fairs is that they cost so much (along with the public liability insurance) and it might lead to one or two commissions afterwards and is a lovely place to meet artisans, but there is little to no financial gain at the end of it. 
Enter the car boot sale.  It conjures up visions of broken high chairs, rusty old tools, rotting books rejected from a charity shop… but the car boot sale has some amazing finds, stalls, and regulars who, upon chatting to, say how slow the market has been and they only take X amount, which happens to be triple of what I make at a craft stall on a good day (and without the need for public liability insurance AND with about a third of the setting up price).  But the trick is to get the right items out and keep an eye and strong nerve for those who are out for either a freebie (ie 5-finger discount) or extreme haggling (which I’ve never had a problem dealing with).
Another bonus about car boot is that you pay on the door on the day.  No pre-booked stalls that don’t get refunded if the weather is too poor for the public to show.  And it’s a good day out with the opportunity to get some amazing bargains on tools (see the photo up top?  That was a £3 car boot find – a rusty old jeweller’s vyse.  It took me only 3 hours to refurbish and now it’s invaluable in my workshop).
It will be (my plan at this time anyway) some Roman sterling twisted wire rings, pearl and gemstone earrings, leaves range and a photo album display for people who might want to commission bigger items.  The footfall for car boot is pretty amazing and what a great place to advertise!
After the Oyster Fayre I’ll keep an eye out for the right Sunday morn and then, BAM! out I’ll go to the car boot at 6:30 in the morning to get my ideal position before 7am opening and see how things go.
I may have just answered my question – To Boot!!!

Friday, 17 May 2013

April Escapes and May Showers

It’s been a while since my last blog (the usual… life got in the way again) but this time I have a slightly better excuse and yes, it is the weather.  The relentless winter got me (and I know even hardened individuals suffered this year) down, my light box was still ‘missing’ since the move to the new house, and the new house was/is an icebox with freezing cold air pouring off the outer wall.  Even paying outrageous fees in gas and electricity kept us wearing double to quadruple layers indoors, which frankly, I found rather offensive.
So, with a bitter feeling of cold despair, I begged for an escape home to sunny CA and my supportive husband readily agreed.  Two weeks of sunny bliss, family gatherings, meeting up with old friends (at one point it felt very ‘Housewives of Orange County’ except we weren’t bitching, it wasn’t Orange County and well… let’s face it, I was the only ‘housewife’ in the group).
On the trip, I had my e-mail account hacked – typical timing and I spent some time trying to fix it on my mother’s computer which felt a bit like wearing someone else’s underpants (the keys responded differently, screen alien, and well, it just wasn’t my computer).  I’d meant to abandon all computer-related activity so it was just by chance that I checked my e-mail and received a mass of informants.
But when the two and a half weeks were up, I was ready to go back to reality – it was even warm for the weekend before plunging back down to the gloomy weather we’d left.  Two weeks in and I’m still reeling over the catch up I’m trying to do.  And balanced with recovering from jet lag, an excited toddler and growing lawn, my workload is feeling a bit overwhelming.
Writing – I’ve got my short story for the Springbok anthology to do – well, I’ve just finished the draft and need to change a few bits before sending it in – it’s due at the end of the month.  Then after the Oyster Fayre, it will be ‘all systems go’ to get this non-fiction drafted in time (Three Victorian Women in Asylum).  I’ve also been compiling a fairy anthology of retold ancient lore and new tales with an ancient feel.  It will be illustrated by my fabulous mother and talented artist, Linda Gunn.
Wyvern – There are still two books on the lists – then will close.  Or it was going to (I had no time for my own writing whilst running a publishing company).  I’ve got a potential buyer, hoorah!  So authors might have a chance to receive new contracts, which I’m thrilled about if it all goes through.  I’ll keep posting updates as they happen.
Seadrake – Gulp!  Only a few weeks left before the big weekend of Oyster Fayre – the market that sums up Seadrake perfectly and the event I look forward to every year… I’ve got all my stock put together, but there are some final bits that have been giving me trouble (combined with a toddler who keeps trying to break into my workshop means I can only work when she’s asleep… which is usually when I crash out too).  I have to brass leaves to saw and finish into beautiful medieval brooches – they are all etched beautifully and are ready for the wrist and knuckle breaking moment of hacksaw (which takes forever).  There are costumes to drag out of the closet – I’m selling off as much of my historical wardrobe I can this year, so if you need a Tudor/Renaissance/Saxon/Arthurian gown, drop by for a steal.
Fab, so it’s all systems go until June 1… Bring on the Oyster Fayre!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

 Seadrake pure silver and moonstone ring
I miss the chickens.  I miss their morning clucking, the sound they made when they were laying, the boasting that happened afterwards and the crooning when they found their favourite patch of grass in the sun.  I also miss their eggs.  Each chicken laid differently – at different times of the day, yes, but they also had very distinctive eggs too.  Poppy’s eggs were renown for having light yellow yolks, thin membranes and HUUUUGGGE shells.  Ruby’s were medium, had darker yolks, Speckled Gemima’s were small, spreckled and firm.  They were ideal for poaching, whereas Poppy and Ruby’s eggs were best fried. 
Someday I’ll get chickens again.  I certainly don’t miss de-icing their water every morning in the winter, or finding red mites in the summer (evil things).  The darkest part of hen keeping is when they get ill.  Commercial hens have been bred to produce eggs at a high rate – an unnaturally high rate.  It takes its toll on them and their life span is lucky to be three years.  I know some keepers who’ve got chickens that last 20 years and up, but this is not the norm… those are superchicks!  The cost of feed has also hit the roof, making hen keeping more of an expensive hobby rather than a slice of the good life.  That, has got to be all this rain that keeps threatening crops…
Which brings me to the allotment.  I’ve got my seeds ready, the ground is prepped… it’s time soon to start work.  Just as soon as this cold weather lets up and this heavy drench peters out.  Icy swamps are not good for growing!
And despite having promised life a slowed down pace… I ended up sending a mass of submissions out and am getting acceptances!  It’s amazing and I’m so excited, but it also means more work and manic writing.  I’ve re-started my non-fiction writing as it’s nice to have a trickle of income (even though the per-hour rate is about 10cents an hour).  But it’s nice to have a reconnection with other writers and post interviews of their successes. 
So on to my accepted submissions… Firstly, I’m working on and with an amazing charity anthology for Springbok Publications – the new small press that will be highlighting the plight of the African Black Rhino and all proceeds will go to that charity.  I’ll have a teen fiction slant on my story (I’ll also be submitting a poem) which brings me to the fact that I’ve had a lightning moment and I KNOW MY GENRE.  I’m a teen fiction writer (hear my friends say, ‘duh!’) although I do also write for children (and the child at heart).  No more horror, no more steampunk attempts, no more random submissions for women’s magazines.  It’s all about children’s and YA fiction with a slant on the edgy and dark side.
Okay, okay, I’m rambling again.  Back to accepted submissions.  My non-fiction Three Victorian Women in Asylum is also being taken on by Springbok and I’m going to do my darnedest to help promote it by writing a series of articles and sending them out to (don’t groan) women’s magazines (so, I may not be writing fiction for them, but a good article is different ;)  I still have to finish the draft and pay for the photos of the women (in archive at the moment) but I expect to have it ready by October this year (not the release date, but the date I send it to my publisher).
Next on the list (whew! getting tired already and there is still much more to cover) which is I’ve had my stories accepted with provision to which is a fabulous small press that helped my friend and fellow writer Tim Reed reach bestselling proportions.  As they no longer publish individual short stories, I’ve sent them a collection of teen dark fiction – two have been previously published so they might want fresh new ones and I don’t want to chuck my ‘wrong genre’ unpublished stories in with the goodies I sent them earlier.  So we’ll see.  The real up note on this is that I think they’ll be interested in Downtrodden, my latest teen (well 15+ due to some graphic scenes – I’ve posted snippits of this book on previous blogs) fantasy novel.
Did I say I missed the chickens?  I could use their calming company.  Aside from all the writing tasks I’ve given myself, I also am developing a line of wedding and engagement rings for Seadrake Creations.  I’ll start them from cast silver and have prices up for gold and platinum if people would prefer one metal over the other.  Then, and here is the exciting bit… customers can choose their stone so they know exactly what they’re getting (unless they want me to pick one out – oooh like a dark, dark ocean blue brilliant cut sapphire… drool).
I’ve found that working with my hands keeps my head from spinning new stories and is the most relaxing thing around.  That, and going to craft fairs is a wonderful day out which involves being computer free.  Bliss.
Well, I think that right about wraps things up.  I’ve got my suite101 articles going again, but I may jump ship to helium as suite is yet again changing things and is very vague about whether writers will be getting any money at all for their work.  Ah well, at least I got a few goodinterviews in ;)

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Digging up the year...

I’ve decided that I should no longer be that manic girl… the one chasing her own tail and running herself into the ground with a million and one different projects on top of the normal everyday duties that life brings.  This year is going to be all about growing.  Not personal growth (although I’m sure a bit of that will happen) but vegetable and herbs. 

I was going to give up the allotment – with my little girl too young to not in danger on the plot (there are a lot of poisonous weeds and stinging nettles), and with moving house, I knew I wouldn’t have any time for it anymore.  I was gutted.  The allotment was, ironically, really the only thing that kept me truly rooted in the UK, even in the winter.  But having thought things through (mostly not wanting to dig up our apple trees and relocate our berry plants) it’s staying. 

Last three seasons were horrible to veg – if anyone grows their own vegetables, they’ll know exactly what I mean.  From drought to floods; frost to heat wave and back again, those little plants have a hard time surviving, let alone producing fruit or tubers (my first earlies crop of potatoes were mini and most of my lates had rotted themselves in the ground after having lain in permanent puddles despite the well draining soil).  But the berries… oh, the berries loved it!  They could handle the dry weather and still bring fruits, the heavy rain just made the produce more.  Even the birds couldn’t get their fill of those amazing blueberries and raspberries.  The strawberries did okay… I’ll work on those too.  But for the next season, the allotment is going to be about raspberry canes and blueberry bushes.  I can never get enough of them anyway and being low maintenance and easy to grow, they’ll keep the allotment producing until my little girl is big enough to go to school. Then maybe this horrible extreme weather would have settled a bit and I can get back on to growing the basics.

The new house has got some amazing potential too for a herb garden in one area, a potted veg patch in the other, and space for a cob nut tree and couple of apples.  There will be… a lot of digging going on in the next few months.

That said, I still have been very busy with writing and jewellery.  I’ve been lucky enough to be asked back as a judge for the Paws n’ Claws competition for children’s fiction stories, I still have to edit and complete my fantasy book, Downtrodden (might even have a chance to upload it before the new year), and of course, writing for  And sending out to agents… but that’s a given rather like breathing.  And I’ll keep it all low key.  Even now that I’m part of a new publishing group, Springbok Publications, I’m staying low key for a while and asked to only be assistant editor due to time constraints.

As for Seadrake Creations, I’ve got my etsy shop all pretty and will be working on new lines casually and adding them when I’ve got a moment to do so.  This year for Seadrake will be less focus on selling and publicity and more time spent on learning new techniques and skills.  Rather like an extended internship.

So, whew!  Bring on those long days so I can get back to digging over the allotment…

Friday, 25 January 2013

Balancing with Two Inks...

Does anybody remember Robert Pattison pre Twilight?  Aside from being Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter films, he was a talented musician.  If you saw Twilight, you would have heard his song, and his talents as he played (yes, it was him, not dubbed over) the piano.  So what happened to his music career?  It could have developed alongside acting right?  Or no?
My point is that I must be barking mad trying to balance two difficult careers.  My writing is doing very well at the moment and despite my having developed my jewellery making skills and photography (pics for the jewellery) it’s just not going anywhere.  I love it.  I really, really love it.  It also keeps me sane when I’m battling it out with editing.  But it’s not making anything.  Do I keep at it or focus just on writing?  I’ve just registered my maker’s mark with the Assay office – expensive, but a legal requirement for the UK if I’m making larger items of precious metal.  I don’t want it to just be a hobby.  I don’t do hobby-level crafting; it’s usually all or nothing.
So how does Pattison deal with it?  Does he moonlight as a musician under an assumed name, hoarding off the adoring vampiric fans?  Or will he wait until the acting career has fizzled into a comfortable level and then do a bit of band work on the side (thinking of Adrian Edmondson and The Bad Shepherds -
Getting paid for my writing today and not for any of the rings I’ve made this month is probably the sign that I’ve been putting off.  The problem is that I can’t STOP.  So… if you’ve read this, thought, hmm… I need to wear some pirate rings to put me in the piratey mood while I read Blood Tide… please visit my etsy shop and knock yourself out with a 10% discount (type in NEWCUST10 in the discount code box)
Because balancing the two is what I do best :-)

Sunday, 20 January 2013

January inklets

So much to do and so little time.  I’ve been working on more rings and other jewellery for Seadrake Creations.  My photography has certainly improved, but I’m still struggling to be seen and found on etsy ( as there are so many millions of people selling there.  I do very well at the craft fairs, so this year, I’ll be looking for more fairs to sell at.
I loved doing the bat ring for Berni.  She’s going to wear it to the next Dracula Society meeting – a perfect setting for such a goth ring.  Other jewellery projects have been doing more rings, working with traditional sterling bezels (look at the etsy moonstone ring which blends fine silver with sterling  My wax ring is looking beautiful with celtic spiral and trinity knots, but it’s too expensive to have cast just now. I’ll have to wait until I’ve sold more work.

As for writing… I suppose I needed a break.  I’ve not written anything new for knowonder save for the forward to the next anthology coming out soon.  The ideas seem to be bottlenecked in my head but come out as dark teen fiction – probably because I’m still editing my YA 16+ fantasy book, Downtrodden.  Blood Tide was swept up in the free offers after Christmas – over 400 readers downloaded the book internationally in three days, but only one person left a review.  Thankfully, it was a five star review, and that did make my day.  After years of toil, research and rewrites, it has come to pretty much nothing. Yet I’m happy I wrote it.  It is, in my opinion, my best work – something that I may never top, which is a scary thought.

The days are passed wondering what else I can do to promote my work.  There is always more to be done, but there is danger in just throwing out cash for google-ads only to find your time and efforts would have been better off spent on something else.  So what on earth to do next?  I really want to get this fantasy edited, dusted and kindled.  A wonderfully supportive fellow author has shown me the path to Smashwords – an online resource that allows authors and publishers to upload to most retail outlets for little to no cost.  So I suppose I’ll continue to slog forward, blinded by the icy headwinds, recklessly delusional in the hope that someday, someone will pick up my work and hand it to someone who might send me a good contract.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Four Leaves

*I wrote this children's rhyming tale last year but it never found a home until now...

Four Leaves


Four leaves on my clover,

four leaves, I can see!

I picked it when Dad used the mower,

and now I’ve got wishes for me.


It was a tricky thing I’ll say

to get to it in time,

because the mower was so fast

and its blades are sharp and fine.


I did a tumble, roll and jump,

just like they taught at school,

(that’s acrobat school don’t you know

don’t think that I’m a fool).


As I said, I jumped and rolled,

or something of that sort.

And when I plucked up that clover,

I knew I was a clever sport.


It happened so very fast,

when I saw it had four leaves.

I’d been sitting on the rooftop,

hidden among the eaves.


Impossible? No, not at all,

not when you know the moves.

From roof to tree to grass I rolled

and without even wearing my shoes.


Now, now, don’t think me odd,

I do it all the time…

I liberate small things you see,

that I think are so divine.


Last week it was a chocolate cake

that my sister had.

She would have eaten it, truly so!

But instead I made her mad.


I swooped down on a rope,

(I’d been practicing high wire).

I popped that cake into my mouth

and Sister swore blue fire.


And two weeks before,

I rescued a lost cat.

She was about to be eaten, (I swear!)

by a large lady in a blue hat.


I got in trouble of course,

but it’s worth it in the end.

With cat and cake and clovers all

any rule I’ll bend.


Anyway, I digress, what was I to say?

Ah yes, my lovely, leafy clover.

Four leaves all for me to wish,

but for what I’ll think it over.


Should I wish for a new bike,

with shiny red new paint?

Or maybe a huge trampoline,

with that I’d have no complaint.


Then, I suppose, I could wish something nice,

for all my family to share.

Nah, I think I keep all four wishes,

a nine-year-old shouldn’t care.


“Alan, get back inside,”

a voice shouted from behind.

And all my wishes vanished,

blanked by the daily grind.


It was just my imagination after all,

but a boy’s got to wish sometime.

It’s back to homework now for me,

No trampoline or bike so fine.


Until, at least… maybe Christmas time.