Look Out for the Ides of March. Ish.

Morning. I can’t remember the last time I blogged this early, but I can barely remember the last time I blogged, so.

I can’t believe that February has been such a short month on paper, yet 2019 already feels as long as 2018 did. Then again, in the last month I’ve moved house, edited dragonnovel to Seriously, This Looks Like a Book levels of completeness, run a little marketing workshop (yeah, me talking to a room of strangers!) and wrestled the Mini to the side of the road after it broke down going round a roundabout. Shout out to Paul the RAC guy for towing me 3 miles in fog to the garage. Bad vibes to the lady in the Range Rover who watched the tow van pull out of a junction and tried to fit between the van and the broken-down car the van was pulling. Also, your lights were off.

Frank Iero fuck off gif
from Tumblr

Anyway, there is a point to my 8am drop-in. Well, other than my inherent need to post here at least once in every calendar month in case I look like a flake. I’m putting together something very, very cool and dragonnovel-shaped for patrons, which I hope will be ready to go in March. It’s not quite done cooking yet, but I’m more excited about it than I have been about anything I’ve made for a while so this is basically me warning you that in a few weeks’ time, you’re going to see quite a lot of overexcited Tweets and probably a fair bit of blogging. IT’S GOING TO BE COOL. You’re also going to see a lot of caps-lock. Not sorry.

I need to have a shower/wrestle my hair into a ponytail/drive my newly-fixed Mini to work so byeeeee. Wait. Who’s been watching The Umbrella Academy? I got a 30-day Netflix trial out of curiosity and couldn’t believe a) how fun and weird the entire universe is and b) how much I had forgotten how fun and weird the entire universe is. I mean, I probably won’t renew Netflix until the second series airs, but still.

 

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Introducing dragonnovel 1.0: Chapter One

Friends. Patrons. Darling readers. We’re only a week into 2019 and a cursory glance at the news suggests it would be greatly improved by princesses, dragons and unlikely heroes. So I have a dragonnovel-shaped gift for you! I wanted to do something fun for patrons in the new year, while I wait to hear back from agents about the manuscript (and also because it will be fun to have something to talk about that isn’t Brexit or my impending house move). It occurred to me that the first three chapters of dragonnovel 1.0, as I’m calling my draft, are just sitting in agents’ inboxes and on my computer, and that I may as well share them with patrons. So here’s the first chapter, on an epub document (which makes it look like a book/is viewable on an e-reader apparently). Come back in two weeks for the second chapter, and two weeks after that for the third!

If the draft is professionally edited and polished up before publication, it will be fun to compare this version with the finished one (which I’ll call dragonnovel 2.0 HOW ORIGINAL). I also get to do something on my days off other than refresh my emails hoping to hear from an agent, so it’s a win-win really…

All patrons have access to the chapters, by the way, from $1 tier to $5 tier. I think it’s a bit shitty to say ‘be a patron for cool exclusives’ and then demand a higher level of patronage for the majority of exclusives. Not a patron yet? No problem, just click on the big orange BECOME A PATRON button on my page and choose which tier you’d like to join. THEN YOU’RE IN OUR COOL CLUB UNTIL THE UNIVERSE ENDS… or until you decide to stop pledging, whichever comes first.

pink background with white text reading 'Francesca's Words, dark humour colourful language. meet dragonnovel 1.0. It doesn't bite, much'

Let me know what you think of the chapter!

RIP 2018 Etc

So. Farewell, then, 2018. I’m on the sofa rewatching Luther before my friend’s New Year’s Eve party. I never know if I can be bothered with anything later than 7pm these days, but my friend’s NYE parties are always excellent, as most events are once I’m there, which is what I’m hoping will be the case with 2019.

I didn’t do the Indifferent Ignorance Awards this year, because I’ve had more pressing things to do, but I think we can sum this year up as not as bad as 2016 but 2007 was probably less stressful? I finished dragonnovel, got a bit of sun, played with my dogs (one is leaning on me right this very moment and I clearly can’t get up until he does so bye party I’ve been blessed). No one in my immediate family or friendship group has died, been critically ill or pledged allegiance to the Republican Party, so let’s count 2018 as one of the good ones.

Last year I wrote ‘new year’s intentions’ which are supposedly more realistic and better for your mental health than new year’s resolutions. Goal 1 was to learn to do my hair. I mean, I’ve grown my hair. I brush and wash it occasionally. It’s difficult to plait, okay, there are a lot of layers. I consistently forgot to take good pictures, but it’s looked ace this year regardless. Lots of purple. I’ll change it up soon because you can’t bleach the same bit of hair too much but possibly in 2019 I should take more pictures for proof of Cool Dyed Hair? Unlikely, I bloody hate taking my picture.

Goal 2 was to look after myself a bit more. I did not bother with a running club, but the blue light blocker is on and I miss my Pilates class when I don’t do it, which must mean it’s good for my brain so CHECK CHECK.

The third goal, basically, was Get Money. And, check again. I got a weekend job, found another client, smashed my stationery business goals over Christmas and learnt that geeky mythological pencils are really, really popular. Onwards.

blue pencils reading STUDY LIKE ATHENA, purple pencils reading ARTEMIS WAS RIGHT

Luther’s getting tense so I will leave this here. Also, Donnie’s ear is on my keyboard. Hit me up with the fun things you did this year, or want to do next year, or heard of someone else doing something nice. Happy new year!

So. Farewell, then, first full-length draft of dragonnovel. No really it’s gone this time

I’ve sent the first three chapters/first thirty pages of my 54,000 word, heavily edited, double-spaced-in-Times-New-Roman-12-point manuscript OUT TO THE UNIVERSE. Or out to my preferred literary agents, at least. Now I’ve got 8-12 weeks in which I might get an email asking for the rest of it. Then I might get another email.

In the mean time I’m making plans for what happens if the next 8-12 weeks carry a) several polite rejections or, worse, b) radio silence. I’ve already decided that if no one wants it then I’m going to print it out, staple it together and sell it on street corners because I did not flare up my repetitive strain injury and have dozens of arguments with my mother about getting a ‘real job’ to leave the bloody thing in a Word document.

Well, I’ll publish it on my Patreon page for my patrons over the course of a few months and, if they like it, look into getting it an ISBN and printing it on demand to sell at the handful of craft fairs I do each year. WHAT A GLAMOROUS LIFE THIS IS. I’ve got to start the next one in the spring too. Not a sequel, but the next thing. I haven’t decided what that is yet but I’m moving in January so it will be something to think about while I pack/unpack/reorganise my sock collection.

I know that if anyone reading this actually wanted to pledge to my Patreon, you would have already – but I’m going to ask one more time because I’m really, really proud of this book I’ve written and I think you guys will like it. I’m not arrogant enough to assume it will be snapped up by Bloomsbury after a heated six-way auction, but I’d like for someone to see it who isn’t either me or my friends who have offered editorial advice. It’s a children’s book, by the way. I can’t remember if I’ve said that. Well, it’s for children in the same way as Doctor Who is officially for children. It’s in three parts, would qualify for the Diverse Fiction shelf at Waterstones and the full title is way, way longer than dragonnovel. There’s a My Chemical Romance reference, obviously. This cave influenced several paragraphs:

Melissani Cave Kefalonia

Anyway. Here’s the Patreon link again. Patrons can expect a lot of cave photos. Some playlists. The odd actual chapter…

Speaking of craft fairs, I’ve got on in Leigh-on-Sea this Saturday and I took a day off from my shop job for it so I’m hoping to shift quite a bit of stock (the less I have to drag to my mother’s new flat, the happier I will be). I’d better go and organise my price list and check the batteries in my fairy lights… Wave if you see me! Or better yet, buy a tote bag. They take up a ridiculous amount of space even when folded. I’m going to buy a box of Quality Street to entice passers-by. ‘Take a chocolate, buy a tote’ is not a bad slogan actually…

I Hereby Name Thee Miguel

I was scrolling through my Tumblr likes just now so I could dredge up some capital-C content alongside promotions and I came across a post my friend Tatchiana did in 2015 recommending this very blog. I can’t find the post now, but it gave me a fuzzy warm feeling that lasted long enough that I thought I’d come and say hello. I think I’ve been writing here now for nine entire years. That’s longer than most prison sentences, innit. Mad. 2015 doesn’t even feel like that long ago but I suppose it must be.

Sooo how have you been since 10 days ago? I’ve been good, cheers. Started another job (weekends! Retail! Say hi if you see me – wait no don’t make eye contact). Got to hang out with Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli. Ish. Sort of. We said hi. I haven’t touched dragonnovel since I sent it to my cuz, but I am itching to make improvements. Not itching as in, I have eczema, itching as in, that feeling of when it’s almost the school holidays. I’ve already started sketching out ideas for my next book, which makes me feel like I’m cheating on dragonnovel. But I have to be realistic that a) dragonnovel might not get picked up, in which case I should start on the next, better, thing as soon as possible and b) dragonnovel might get picked up which means I need to look like I’m serious about this writing thing.

I just spent five entire minutes looking for a suitable dragon gif, no fucking dice. Come on, Shrek. First thing I’m gonna do if this book picks up is commission some cool dragon art.

While I’m thinking about it, it occurred to me the other day that since dragonnovel is actually nearly done (or as done as it can be without professional editorial insight), I’m going to have to stop renaming characters soon. Seriously, this one guy has had about four names. I think the first one was Pablo. Or it might have been Paolo. Then I think I tried to name him Raphael, but I already called someone Raphael. Anyway, my point is that if you were ever thinking of pledging to ye olde Patreon page in order to see a character named after you, you should probably do it soon because I need to start remembering characters properly or my synopses (that’s plural of synopsis, right? I’m scared to Google it) will be way out of whack. Oh, I think this guy was called Miguel at some point.  Miguel.

He’s so not a Miguel.

So. Farewell, then, first full-length draft of dragonnovel. It’s gone, it’s off, it’s…

…with my cousin for a read through so I can make edits.

In the mean time, I can’t make any more changes so I have at least a week of very deliberately not thinking about it. Which means all I want to do is think about it. LOADS. But I also want it to be done and finished (and wrapped in a hardback cover with some cool art and a royalty agreement) so I can a) tell you guys the full title instead of just calling it dragonnovel and b) start on the next thing.

I set myself a deadline for the first draft, so I spent Sunday at a writer’s retreat near King’s Cross. A full day of sitting in a room not talking to anyone and thinking about fictional people! So basically what I do at home once a week but with a two-hour journey and a cost of £45! Tell you what though, it was bloody worth it. Never has seven hours at a desk gone so quickly. The edits! The nice kitchenette with decent tea! The hushed silence of 20 introverts ignoring one another! I took a photo.

writer's laptop set up with extra mouse, keyboard, notebooks

I used so many of those expensively-lined branded post it notes and every sheet was worth it.

I have no idea if dragonnovel will get agented, or published, or paid attention to outside of my tiny group of friends and my Patreon page (which consists of my tiny group of friends). But it is going to get finished, which is cool. If you’ve ever considered pledging to ye Patreon, by the way, now’s probably the time because I can still happily change a character name for you… and if no agents are interested and I end up making a lil ebook myself, you also get a copy if you pledge $3 It might be $3. I can’t remember. I need to go and do some physiotherapy because I’m about two sentences away from needing steroid injections in my hands. SUCH FUN!

September Resolutions and a Little Smudge of Self Care

Afternoon! The dogs got me up at half five this morning so it feels wrong on a molecular level that one of those dogs is asleep on my bed this very moment while I try to prise my eyeballs open with tea and willpower.

I left school four years ago, and yet September always feels like the prime time for a Fresh Start and New Things. It probably helps that I’ve got leftover holiday happiness, although it’s also mingled with that disgruntled feeling of ‘why am I never as relaxed at home as I am on holiday?’, the preoccupation of which always makes me… less relaxed. But! September! A fresh start! Also I have been 23 since last Wednesday which means I have extra fresh start feelings. LET’S MAKE THIS YEAR A FINANCIAL AND SOCIAL SUCCESS, she hisses as she drowns under paperwork, teacups and pissy late payment emails.

There isn’t really a point to this blog, except to hopefully pass on some lovely September vibes, but I felt like I should write something because my domain just renewed. Got to get my £15 worth! I thought about sharing some Greece photos but I’m too bleary-eyed to think up funny captions and do I really want to contribute to the Internet’s collective ‘my life is better than yours look what a great time I’m having’ bullshit brigade? Um, no. But here is a picture of bougainvillea, because bougainvillea flowers are a colourful spec of papery innocence in this world.

Pink Bougainvillea in Sami, Kefalonia

Does anyone have any September resolutions? Eva over at What Eva Wears wrote about hers, and it reminded me of all the times I’ve written resolutions on here. I found a couple of posts… in this one from January 2016 I wanted to learn to take better photographs (they are definitely improving), read more varied news sources (to be honest, in the last few months I’ve just read less news. I’m happier for it), learn to use Facebook (done, except now Facebook is dying WHAT A SHAME) and ‘chill out about this blog’.  Well I kind of have in a way – there was a time when I would tell myself off for not posting twice a week, but these days you’re lucky if you get two posts per month. It’s taken 18 months (and I kind of did ‘move to Cambodia’ for a bit, ha) but I think I’m getting there.

Then I found this post from the end of 2017 in which I listed some resolutions for 2018. LET’S SEE WHERE WE ARE, THEN.

  • Resolution 1, the ‘vague gesture’, was to learn to do my hair a bit more. My hair is even longer and even more purple-tinged than it was in December, and I still only wash it twice a week, but I do put it up a bit more. Occasionally. Look, it looks nicer when I ignore it completely…
  • Resolution 2, the SMART goal, was to look after myself more in a measurable way. Hahaaaaa haaaa haaa. Ha. Ahem. Well, I did download a blue light blocker. I do exercise fairly frequently (not running though, Pilates is my limit). I do take extended breaks from Instagram, not that you’d know it. I could do more, but I also could have done less.
  • Resolution 3 was to make my work, work. This was only 8 months ago and everything I wrote is still true: if this financial year doesn’t go my way, I’ll probably go and get a salaried job or retrain in a sensible industry or something. But I’m creeping in the right direction: I’m working with the Prince’s Trust to improve Francesca’s Words, my Patreon is slooowly gathering momentum – and dragonnovel is cooking away! – and I have regular-ish work. I have more to be thankful for than to be unhappy about.

So my September resolutions are to continue with everything I said I wanted to do in 2018. It’s tempting to start something Completely New, but Francesca’s Words could be twice as big next January as it was last January if I play my cards right. If I play my cards sneakily, I might even have a book or a cool French plait as well.

I said there wasn’t a point to this post: I turned out to be completely wrong. Looking back at the last couple of years has made me realise how far I’ve come. I’m always harder on myself than anyone else ever could be – I never sit back to appreciate how much work I’ve put into something; I only ever berate myself for not working harder. But I’m doing okay. Pretty well. Better than I could otherwise have been doing. That’s not too ‘my life is better than yours’ bullshitty, is it? You would tell me if it was, right?

Cool for the Summer

Ugh. UGH. I just glanced at the date and realised that in one month’s time I will be returning from my holiday. Which means in one month and one day, I will have nothing to look forward to except autumn, which is a tenuous thing to look forward to when a) this weather might last until October, and b) autumn is rarely as autumn-y as I’m expecting.

I mean, there are some other things to look forward to. It’s my birthday in September? I recently joined a cashback website and am interested to see if it makes me any cash? Life is actually pretty decent given that I’m living in a first-world country in a house with good plumbing? But still. I’m so excited for my holidayyyyyy that it’s hard to look past it. There will be (more) sun! There will be (non-Thames Estuary) sea! There will be tasty (not cooked by my mum or I) Greek food! Oh yeah I’m going to Greece what a surprise. Well I kind of have an excuse; a friend is celebrating her birthday in Zante, so I’m going to backpack from Corfu down to Kefalonia and then to Zante. It’s going to be My Family and Other Animals meets that time I went backpacking before. I’ve got extra packing cubes this time, and I know what I don’t need to take versus what I do. It really boils down to packing cubes.

Who else is going on holiday soon? Who has had a holiday recently? My uncle recently sent me photos of somewhere in the north of Scotland that apparently has its own micro-climate and I shit you not, I thought it was the Mediterranean. It wasn’t until I squinted at the mossy stone walls and distinctly rolling hills that I thought ‘could this actually be north of the boarder?’ I can’t remember the place’s name, but as soon as I remember it I’m adding it it the list (also: York, Malta, the Giant’s Causeway, Rome, Haworth in one of the Yorkshires where they Bronte sisters lived, Cornwall, eastern Greece, New Zealand).

I’m going to attempt a minor digital detox while I’m away, so fully expect some bullshit ramblings from me on my return about the joys of getting back to nature and interacting with other cultures. Maybe I’ll stay out there and avoid any potential crises and just finish dragonnovel underneath an olive tree or something. Use up my freedom of movement while I’ve still got it. Hm.

Lawrence Durrell in the Durrells 2016