Book Hangovers & Nine Hamlets

Good news: I’ve worked out how to live with a fucked keyboard. Bad news: I haven’t gotten off my arse to buy a new one. I did get off my arse when I got a text last weekend that my copy of The Raven King was in Waterstones – literally as I walked through the door after a day of working opposite my local Waterstones, half an hour before it closed. I haven’t physically run that much since year nine cross country, holy shit. Cue an evening of ignoring the universe and wondering who I can sell my soul to in order to write that well.

In short, I’m book hungover. I also missed this:

But I think Shakespeare would have approved of my forsaking him for a story, so thank u Internet for letting me see this later.

Could I buy all the Raven Cycle merchandise I can find and call it a business expense? Insofar as I have remembered how much I love books and how much I want to make books all the time. Maybe I could enter it under Misc: inspiration. If David Cameron can stash his cash in South America, surely I can buy a couple several t-shirts, some stickers and a handful of posters with my HMRC-approved cash?

Or maybe I will just go and reread the series and plot ways to absorb Stiefvater’s evil genius. The temptation to make a sacrifice joke here is potent.

 

The Queen is Quite Lovely Really, and Free Etsy Delivery (unrelated)

Hay birthday, your majesty. I can’t wa as lyrical as I would like to about the Queen turning 90, for reasons obvious when you notice that ‘hay’ was meant to be the word that comes before ‘birthday’ in the song we’re forced to sing when the ageing age, and that ‘wa’ was meant to be the word that has the same letters but a different meaning to the gross stuff that we get in our ears.

TL;DR: I need to buy a new keyboard before any more keys start to stick. I can’t afford to get another fancy ergonomic one, so I think I will head to Amazon with a voucher and get a standard ergonimic one instead. I’m going to miss this one, although it is unfairly enormous and makes me feel like an 80 year old, because it is so fuckin’ comfy. It’s cushioned. Cushioned keyboards should be mandatory.

Back to Elizabeth II. I have never considered myself an ardent monarchist, but I’m definitely not a republican either (thank you to sellchecker for fiing that for me. While I’m at it, I’ll let it fi sellchecker and fi too – oh wait it’s not that clever) and I think that’s down to her. How many 90 year old ladies continue their day job aged 90 having committed to it vocally half a century before, and do so followed by the tabloid media, 80 security guards and a husband constitutionally banned from walking alongside her? Also, let’s face it, without the Royal Family the UK’s international influence would be even shittier. What else is there for tourists to do in London but visit another royal-related building?

I can’t remember if the walking-alongside-the-queen thing is a rule or tradition, but I think if I were her I’d bloody hate it (and swear too much at foreign dignitaries, etc) so long may she reign over us, contribute to tourism and international goodwill, and fake being okay with our terrible choices of government.

That’s it, I’m going to Amazon. I can’t take this any more – what if the F goes? How will I communicate?

Oh, before I forget: with Shakespeare’s (oh, you can correct that) birth and death day this week, Charlotte Bronte’s birthday today and The Raven King out on Tuesday, I thought I would celebrate on Etsy. Enter CHECKTHEATTIC at the checkout between now and the end of the 26th and get free, er, mailing. You know, that thing that gets tacked on to the end of every online sale. The, er, carrier charge. THESE. I WILL COVER THESE.

Elizabeth II 90th Birthday
Oh look, that links the two subjects nicely.

Because Jane Eyre should have checked the attic, right?

In Which I Learn to Spell Chrysanthemum

It’s tipping it down, the lamps are on, Donnie was recently rescued, drenched, from the patio and if life were perfect, I would be settling into a morning of writing prose, possibly about a haunted house or murder mystery. There’s that sort of light in the house, you know.

Instead I am thinking of settling into half an hour of writing then getting a snack and settling into a few hours of Instagram scheduling, blog drafting (the client kind, not the yelling about Donald Trump kind) and wishing I had a different desk chair. Still, if life were perfect then I would have nothing to talk about here and then where would you all be? Miserably clicking through my smug updates about meeting publishers to arrange a release date for my haunted house murder mystery. Boring.

I loathe grey weather, unless I’m snug inside writing or in a field and can pretend I’m in an action thriller with rolling clouds and dramatic music, so I thought I would share some spring photos. I got these flowers in Aldi at Easter and they aren’t dead yet – which feels like an accomplishment even though all I’ve done is add water to the vase occasionally, and I’m not even the only one in the house doing it – and they’re bright enough to cheer up even a grotty Friday in Southend, so thank you budget supermarket. As I finished this paragraph the rain stopped and the sun peaked through the clouds, so the garden actually looks quite bright and pleasant. It won’t last.

In the time it’s taken to upload these photos, the rain’s started again. I can hear thunder. Right, what should I call my murder mystery?

The Liebster Award

A few days several months ago I was nominated by Sarah Thom for the Liebster Award (six years in and I still don’t know my blog awards apart – this one is one of those semi-viral, no-actual-trophy-attached things). I answer some questions then I tag some people to answer some other questions, then they tag some other people and we all get famous.

Liebster Award Badge: Indifferent Ignorance
Look so legit. Who came up with this???

Sarah’s Questions for Me

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be and why?

Roast potatoes (my mum’s, not the piddly microwave ones).

If you could speak to anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you say to them?

For the dead: I’d say hi to my grandparents, ask Jesus what his deal really was and smack Hitler in his face. For the living: MCR (‘thank you’) and the Queen (‘how do you stand in the rain for so long pretending you give a shit?’).

What is your fondest memory?

Any memory in which I am not effing up, crying, covered in snot or embarrassing myself.

What makes you smile?

Donnie snuffling like an old man, Fred being ridiculous, watching the souls of the damned sail to Tartarus.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

The Mediterranean or San Francisco or New York or Singapore or Macchu Pitchu because I haven’t yet.

What would you do if you won the lottery tomorrow?

Quit the parts of my work I don’t like, buy a house, find an art studio to work from, travel the world, pay off various friends’ cars/houses/loans and possibly pay Donald Trump to live on the moon.

What is your favourite book?

Pffft. You ask the unanswerable question. Potter/The Raven Cycle/Heroes of Olympus/Mog the Forgetful Cat/anything by Khaled Hosseini [continue indefinitely]

If you could have a superpower what would it be and why?

The ability to heal injuries/an inability to get ill, because it would make life so much more comfortable and less dangerous. Like, hi Mount Everest, I’m going to climb you and you can’t stop me! 

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Knowing Hollywood, someone tall and blonde.

What makes you truly happy?

Filling out questionnaires like these, of course.

10 Facts About Me That You Absolutely Need to Know

  1. I washed my hair this morning
  2. Tomorrow I will finish sorting my taxes aka I am an adult
  3. There’s a 1kg pot that used to hold Greek yoghurt on my desk and its typeface is the old Indifferent Ignorance one
  4. My current nail varnish is purple and when it runs out I will have to add another colour to my ‘collects the souls of the damned’ collection
  5. I have a Skype call tomorrow
  6. I recently learnt how Skype works
  7. The OJ Simpson drama’s on tonight and I’m nervous/excited even though I know what happens
  8. My glasses have splotches of pink hair dye on them, but not enough that they look artsy
  9. Adonis is in his basket next to me and he actually looks like he’s just run a marathon he hasn’t he just chased a pigeon
  10. I just learnt that there isn’t a d in ‘pigeon’ and I think there should be.

Nominees (I don’t know the follower count of any of these people but I know I have over 200 so let’s keep cheating)

Questions

When and why did you start blogging?

Dogs or cats or both or neither?

Last concert/theatre show you went to?

Least favourite school subject?

Is it raining where you are right now?

When was the last time you wrote a letter?

Would you rather see Donald Trump in charge of America or UKIP in charge of the UK?

Last foreign country you visited (failing that, which mildly-exotic place?)

If you turn to your left, what can you see?

Did you eat dessert today? You should eat dessert today.

Happy New Year!

Happy new financial year! I weirdly feel like it’s a fresh start, because even though we’re already one quarter into 2016 and nothing has changed since Tuesday, I have a new spreadsheet and a new folder and so far I’ve stuck to my to-do list because this will be my year goddamnit.

Speaking of making things mine, I have been s l o w l y carving out time for myself to write and practise writing (which really just means more writing) and buyoed by new year optimism I thought I would give my Patreon page a spring clean. I still need to make a proper video (I nearly had one a while back until I realised my eyeliner was smudged during the whole thing, and it wasn’t a fashionable smoky eye smudge either), but I’ve re-worked my rewards. As it stands as of now, all $3 patrons get a 100 word story on their virtual doorstep every time I review a book, $5 patrons get to see their name in lights, aka on the sidebar of this very site, and $50 patrons will have their name in the thank yous of every book I publish indefinitely. There are tiers between $5 and $50, by the way. Lots of choice.

I haven’t chosen April’s book yet, because I’m in a Raven Cycle reread frenzy before The Raven King comes out on the 26th, but I’m definitely going to have something done before the 26th because afterwards I will be a mess of Maggie Steifvater-loving (or hating, depending on the conclusion) tears.

Okay my allocated blog time is running out and I have five more things to knock off my list before I sit down with Mini Eggs in front of assorted TV dramas later, so I am going to massively hint that this is the link to my Patreon page and remind you that by supporting my work you not only keep this blog wheezing its way into its seventh year but you also help fund my travel and technical expenses, thus leaving my wages free to propel me into the next income bracket and fulfil my desire to spend less time marketing other people’s work and more time making my own. Like blogs about Mini Eggs.

A Retrospective of the Fiscal Year and Dubious Freelancing/Artist Advice

Who’s excited for the end of the financial year? Who wants it to be 6th April already so they can relish a clean slate and make 2016/17 the year they go up an income threshold? Who sometimes wishes they had someone else to make tough decisions regarding business card expenditure?

Yep.

Since we are nearly at the end of this fiscal calendar, I thought I’d reflect on what I’ve learnt since 6th April 2015, as a writer, shopkeeper and digital marketing freelancer and share some of my pearls of wisdom.

  • It’s genuinely really hard to invest in necessities like business cards and packaging when you have no capital. Use some savings (or visit one of those bank things or find some investors) to get you off the ground. It will cause less stomachaches.
  • Speaking of packaging, it’s completely okay to reuse bubble envelopes if they aren’t scummy.
  • You might think you can predict what will sell, but you can’t. You just learn to guess what your customer wants, and even then they will probably surprise you.
  • If a product isn’t working, photograph it better. Or replace it with a better product.
  • Photographs.
  • Photographs.
  • Photographs.
  • 80% of your time is spent marketing and organising, 10% is spent corresponding, 5% researching and developing and perfecting, and 5% making the art you sell.
  • Look after yourself, mentally, physically and financially, because freelancers don’t get sick pay, holiday pay, pension schemes or sympathy when they’re ill.
  • Always try to correspond with clients or customers in the same way your teachers wrote home to your parents: politely, firmly and with the spellchecker on.
  • As a freelancer, you make your own motivation and set your own timetable. I’ve learnt that my motivation is my desire to spite the people who think I should get a ‘real’ job, and nothing sets a timetable like knowing you have 8 hours to complete 12 hours worth of work.
  • If you’re not busy, clean your desk and do your accounts because when you are busy, you will come downstairs and realise you work in a pigsty with no recollection of where your money went. Oh and if you’re not busy, you probably need to improve your marketing.
  • Taking a step back from this blog last summer was one of the best decisions I made all year.
  • My readers and my customers are the strangest, most eccentric and most generous people. (I already knew that. You’re welcome for the reminder.)
  • Social media marketing is about being social. Not copy and pasting the high five/praying emoji onto  twelve Instagram posts alongside the phrase ‘keep up the good work!’.
  • Marketing.
  • Marketing.
  • Marketing. Work out who your customer is. Work out where they are and what they want. Go to them with the thing(s) they want.
Artemis was right, Greek mythology poster postcard by Francesca Burke
In retrospect I shouldn’t have been surprised that this was a hit with the asexual and aromantic bloggers of Tumblr.
  • #GIRLBOSS the shit out of your life, because no one else will do it for you.
  • Read #GIRLBOSS. Even if you are a guy, non-binary or allergic to hashtags.
#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso, girlboss.com
from girlboss.com
  • Nothing is more isolating than being the only person you know who does what you do and working from home while you do it. Find other people who do something similar and meet for coffee, follow their blogs and write your own, or join an Etsy team. Or all of those things.
  • A wise man in a World War II film I saw recently said something along the lines of ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person. People with all the time in the world never get anything done’. TL;DR: if you really want to make art or write a book or start a business, you will make the time to do it.
  • Paying yourself with meagre wages, knowing you can account for earning every single pound, makes up for being perceived as unemployed by your nearest and dearest, explaining that you post to the Internet for a living but no, you can’t wire up a wifi connection, and working on a Saturday night because you can’t afford to go out, move out or use up the bubble bath.

Most of the time.

Now bring it, 2016/17, I want to win at this game.