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…