Making a Killjoy Jacket Part Two

I was under the impression I’d already done a sequel to this post, but I’ve clearly made far less progress on my killjoy jacket than I thought I had. The MCR show I’m making it for is meant to be in June, but I’m pretty sure it won’t happen. Part of me wants another year to get fit enough to dance for 90 minutes and decide what I’m going to put on the back of the jacket, even without the ongoing worry of Covid and vaccinations and which tier I’m in (I can’t remember, I’m assuming it’s a bad one).

Anyway, the jacket. It needs a back piece! I could sew on a large patch or I could stencil something? I’m not good enough an artist to freehand it. There are some nice larger patch designs available online that I might save up for. BUT THAT IS FOR ANOTHER DAY. Here is the progress I’d made in June, adding an Aglionby Academy patch and a Fun Ghoul patch:

dark green New Look jacket with My Chemical Romance patch and The Raven Cycle patch

Here is the progress I’ve made since June:

Yes, it’s only one pocket patch. It is a very large patch, though. Shout out to Jayne at Tickle and Thread on Folksy for being so helpful when I Instagram messaged her about restocking the design I was after! I’m so pleased with the contrasting yellow/khaki colours. It’s also matchy matchy with the Fun Ghoul patch. I’m not sure what will go on the other pocket. Maybe something else book-inspired, or maybe something tarot-y. I’ve seen some lovely little designs inspired by Greek mythology. Hmmm.

In the mean time, I have a conundrum regarding something I already know I want to add:

This quite large mourning band came with… a CD. Presumably May Death Never Stop You? I can’t remember. Obviously it would go perfectly on the left jacket sleeve, which is where mourning bands traditionally go unless the internet has lied to me (what a thought). It would now of course be delightfully ironic.

Had I purchased it, though, I’d have bought one that fit my arm instead of the arm of the Average Man, which I think is who this one is designed for. My initial plan was to stitch it around the arm of the jacket, but it’s so big! Should I cut it shorter to sew it on? Or sew on the design part of the patch first and then wrap the rest of the fabric to fit?

Sewers of the universe, lend me your opinions. I definitely have a while to decide how to do it, but it’s nice to have little goals in lockdown… once I’ve proceeded with whatever I choose, I’ll take another full photo. I might even – but don’t quote me – be in the picture, wearing the jacket. We’ll see what my hair’s doing then.

Look after yourselves!

Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Or we could just get coffee? If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers.

2020 Has Not Been Completely Shit and Here is Definitive Proof

You heard me. I’d normally consider doing the Indifferent Ignorance awards, but I don’t feel like dedicating time to ignorant people… they are the reason I spent Christmas Day in tier 4. I’m also mindful that it’s important to count our blessings, not our curses, so in this post I’m going to share some of my favourite entertainment and arts discoveries of the year, plus a few personal/family highlights.

Things that blessed my ears in 2020

  • Lauv’s record, which I bought a copy of back in February or so, and kind of became the sound track to early lockdown.
  • Tim Minchin’s record. It’s… not his usual stuff. Some of the songs are sharp and sarcastic, but if you’re looking for more black comedy-philosophy, this album will disappoint. It’s mostly about how much he loves his wife and children. I cried.
  • The news my friend Tatchiana applied for a Master’s degree. MY FRIENDS ARE SO CLEVER YOU GUYS. I don’t even fully understand the topic she’s researching.
  • The Umbrella Academy put a soundtrack out and:
Klaus Hargreeves dancing in a liquor store
from Giphy
  • As well as re-entering the world of academia, Tatchiana introduced me to the Magnus Archives podcast and I guess I’m a fan of horror stories now? I’m kind of late to the party because it’s been running for years and finishes in 2021, but if you like a) creepy stories with the odd god that’s gross and really clever moment, b) short stories that slowly merge into one overarching Story and c) office politics, you’re in for a good time. (Aside: I realised partway through that Martin really reminds me of Arthur from Cabin Pressure. The programmes have nothing in common except that they’re audio, but I can’t unhear it. I don’t know if there’s a Venn diagram of Magnus Archives/Cabin Pressure listeners but if there is: do you hear it too?)

Things that blessed my eyeballs in 2020

  • I finally got around to reading the Noughts and Crosses series (or most of the series? There seems to be more books than I realised), and it is Very Worth the Hype. So’s the TV show.
  • I also got round to Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky. It’s very long and a horror novel – this is a theme – both of which usually put me off, but I really got into it. Brilliant last page too.
  • Bill Bailey in Strictly Come Dancing.
  • The news that my cousin and her boyfriend bought a house! A whole entire property in this economy. Epic.
  • Real Life Money by Clare Seal. It’s a memoir-advice book by the lady who runs the My Frugal Year Instagram, and it’s really interesting. If you’re at all into finance, money management and/or consumerism, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I don’t usually love memoirs, or advice-y novels, but this one is non-preachy, well researched and quite important in these uncertain times.
Real Life Money, book by Clare Seal
  • If you want to buy any of these books, by the way, I have a Bookshop account. Every purchase made through my little page earns me one fifth of a penny or suchlike. Am I being shameless? Um yeah, I don’t have a regular job as of Christmas Eve. I’m also on Goodreads if you want to see what else I’m reading and chat about books. One upside of lockdown was spending so much time reading and I am already planning my reading list for next year. So many books, so little time! Speaking of books, the prettiest thing I saw this year was:
  • My book coverrrrrrr. Also, you know, seeing the book available to purchase. I wasn’t sure it was going to be released this year – or ever – and I’m a tiny bit proud of the work that went into it. Not bad going for someone who spent their A Levels wearing a wrist brace and their early-mid twenties dealing with chronic pain, crippling anxiety and on-again-off-again depression, huh.
blue and white illustrated cover of 'The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories of Unlikley Heroes' by Francesca Burke, including stars, a large dragon, a skull, moon, swords, a rabbit and a tower
Cover by Nell from Instagram. Click here for book-related joy/info

Things that blessed my ears and my eyeballs in 2020

  • The second series of The Umbrella Academy. I love it. I love it so much. It has everything I want out of TV, plus a Baby Pogo. TRULY WE ARE BLESSED.
  • Videos by A Small Wardrobe on YouTube (I talk more about Patricia’s channel and learning about minimalism here).
  • Videos by Annie, who posts as the Green Witch on YouTube. Sometimes the algorithm suggests videos that you didn’t know you needed. Annie has a witchy YouTube and a nature-y YouTube. They are both very peaceful. Taking 10 minutes to watch calm, nature-y has turned out to be quite good for my brain.
  • In the same vein, I’m thoroughly enjoying videos by The Cottage Fairy.
  • Olive and Mabel.
  • Schitt’s Creek. I know I know, I was late to that too. I cannot recommend a more soul-warming programme. Other TV I’m brilliantly late to: Derry Girls, Nighty Night, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Ghosts.

What have you enjoyed in 2020? You’re allowed to say banana bread and Netflix. You’re allowed to say ‘realising that the friend I checked in with during lockdown never checked in with me, and now I am disengaging.’ You’re allowed to say ‘not having a big, overwhelming Christmas.’ What are you planning for new year’s eve?

GIF of David from 'Schitt's Creek' saying 'I plan on popping a pill, crying a bit and falling asleep early.'

Jut kidding, mostly. I’ll probably have a bath, pour a wee drink, watch the clock to ensure this hellscape actually ends, and get my beauty sleep. I’ve got things to do in 2021! Nothing ostentatious, of course. My plans are mostly to read a lot and maybe bake some more banana bread. But I may as well do them on a full night’s sleep, especially as there is literally nowhere to go. I’ll talk more about that (my plans, not tier bloody 4) in my next post. Probably.

Look after yourselves and happy new year!

Want to support this page and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Or we could just get coffee?

So ‘The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes’ is out as an ebook. Behold, my guide for getting a free copy!

Oi oi! So you remember all the posts about writing and/or pitching The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes? I try not to either. Anyway, THE EBOOK IS OUT NOW. You can purchase it from all the usual retailers and leave gushing reviews on GoodReads, etc. etc. If you’re not doing anything else – and you probably shouldn’t be doing anything else, especially if, like me, you have been shunted into Tier 4 for Christmas – I’m hosting a Facebook Live release party today (23rd Dec) at 19:30 GMT. I’ll be doing some readings, answering questions and chatting about the writing and publishing process.

Before tonight’s release party (yeah, I’m calling it a party. It’s 2020, I can call a conversation with a friend who’s standing six metres away ‘a party’), I wanted to take a moment to pop in here and say HI, I DID SOMETHING I’VE TALKED ABOUT FOR YEARS. It feels sort of important to say that, both for my own self esteem and for this blog’s narrative purposes. I also want to share a list of ways you can access this ebook for free, because I am mindful that the economy, whichever country you’re in, is… not fantastic. Although the RRP of the ebook is £7.99, and most retailers have it discounted already, I know that lots of you will have other, more practical, uses for that money. So here’s a little guide for getting hold of this novel without spending a penny:

Borrow it from libraries

At time of writing, the only library app it’s available on is ProQuest. I’m keeping a list of retailers and library services, plus links, on my fancy website. My supplier sent a list of all the vendors that will host it, but it can take up to six weeks for the book to load on all of them, so I’m checking in weekly to update my list. But if you’re a school/college/uni student, you will likely find you have a login to one or more of these library services. They’re often designed for reading academic texts, but I think we can agree that The Princess and the Dragon benefits everyone’s mental health by providing four to five hours of respite from reality, which will in the long term help with your studies.

Join my blog tour

If you’re a book blogger, YouTuber, Instagrammer, etc., I am embarking on a book tour in the new year and into spring. Anyone who joins gets access to a free copy via an Advanced Reader Copy website (I am aware that now the book is out, the copy is not in fact ‘advanced’, ha). If you’re interested in being part of the tour, hit me up at info [at] francescaburke [dot] com with links to your blog/YouTube/Instagram.

Pay It Forward

I am kicking off a pay it forward experience! Is experience the word? Here’s how it works: I have some money left over from the publishing process. I will pay for three of you to purchase The Princess and the Dragon from the retailer of your choice (send me a link to the retailer so I know how much money to send. The prices are weirdly different on each site). It’ll be via PayPal or bank transfer, your choice. In an ideal world, all three of you pay for someone else to purchase the novel, and then those three people pay for three more people… but this world is not ideal, so if you can’t afford to pay it forward (I did say this was a guide on getting the book for free), I don’t mind in the slightest. Perhaps one of my other readers might like to hop in and buy a copy for someone else?

If you’re interested in pay it forward, leave a comment with your email address, or private message me on Twitter/Insta/Facebook! Now I am going to share the cover (because I am never not going to share the cover) and get organised for this evening. I’m not one hundred per cent sure which passages I’m reading yet. SUCH FUN. Look after yourselves!

blue and white illustration with a dragon, moon, stars, skull, leaves, rabbit and tower, reading 'The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes Francesca Burke'

Want to support this page and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Or we could just get coffee?

Making a Killjoy Jacket Part One

Good afternoon!

In a non-corona world, I’d be headed to Milton Keynes today to see My Chemical Romance for the first time since 2011. Instead I am at home, looking up what happens when you accidentally swallow a cherry pit. I suppose I could conceivably do both.

Anyway, I wanted to commemorate the day, partly as a reminder to myself that I have one year until MCR actually play in Milton Keynes (and therefore one year to get fit enough to dance through a 90-minute set, as thanks to lockdown inactivity I am knackered after a forty minute walk). The other reason is that I think I mentioned in a video back in May that I’ve been customising a jacket for the show?

It’s not finished, and probably wouldn’t have been finished even if corona hadn’t happened… but on the plus side, I now have a year to make it look Very Cool. In fact, even though I’ve only done a couple of embellishments, I think it could be legitimately considered a killkoy jacket.

Before I show you it, I think it deserves some back story: towards the end of last year (or maybe the beginning of this one; I feel like 2020 has gone on for a decade), I came across an initiative by Southend council to encourage clothes swapping. It was in one of the shopping malls, with two council workers plus a couple of racks and bin bags of clothes that people had donated through the recycling system. I’m assuming your council has something similar: you fill a plastic sack clearly marked TEXTILES (our textiles sacks are grey) and leave it on your curb with the other assorted rubbish.

I always wondered what happened to the clothes – I usually only put in garments that are damaged past fixing or donating to that scheme where they give you 50p per kilogram of clothes and ship them to disadvantaged people in eastern Europe. I assumed the fabrics were sorted out and broken down for recycling to be turned into pencils or something. None of my grey textiles sack clothing would be suitable for a clothes swap, but the ones on this stall were in really good nick – some even had tags. Naturally, I stopped for a rummage and found… a military jacket. Not that type of military jacket, MCR fans. The modern-ish type.

I’ve always liked the idea of having a big dark camouflage-y jacket with big pockets, but I am suspicious of anything beige or taupe, which rules out most of them. This jacket, though, was pretty cool. It was originally from New Look, had huge pockets and smelt a bit like cigarettes.

The whole point of the clothes swap was to exchange goods, but as I’d just wandered over with nothing to swap, the ladies on the stall were kind enough to let me take it. I promised I’d be back with my old clothes, but then corona happened, so I might have to wait to fulfill my debt to the universe.

Okay, story’s done, here it is:

green khaki New Look jacket with MCR and Raven Cycle patches
back of dark green New Look jacket
I did wash it before doing anything

I should add that originally, it was just the jacket plus the star patch on the front pocket and the Route 66 badge on the sleeve. It didn’t occur to me to take a picture until after I’d started adding bits.

I already had a Fun Ghoul patch from MCR’s killjoys era that I’d originally planned to put onto a bag but had, inevitably, sat in my sewing box for eight years. To the uninitiated, that’s the yellow patch, it was part of Frank Iero’s killjoy jacket. They don’t sell the jacket or the patch any more but someone put it on Pinterest for posterity if you fancy an eyeball. I thought it might be fun to put the patch on my jacket where it sat on the original.

Earlier this year I snaffled an Aglionby Academy patch which begged to go on something ostentatious. To the uninitiated, that’s the blue patch, a fan-designed logo of the school in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series. I highly recommend you check out the artist, Caroline Dougherty. She helped produce The Major Arcana, a very cool Raven Cycle illustration anthology, as well as being a fantastic artist in her own right. The Algionby patch was actually the first thing I put on the jacket, but it’s a) not centred and b) is peeling a little, so I might redo the whole thing.

In terms of finished design, I want to add a mourning armband that came with the May Death Never Stop You CD, that greatest hits album that Warner Bros put out when MCR ended. It says ‘MCR 2001-2013’ so feels fitting to wear it to an MCR show no one expected to happen. According to the internet, mourning armbands are traditionally worn on the left arm, so I’ve unpicked the Route 66 patch and might pop it elsewhere later:

green jacket with unpicked Route 66 patch and unpicker

The armband is going to take forever to attach because it’s made to fit the Average Man Arm and I have Quite Small Lady Arms, as does the jacket. There’s far more armband than sleeve, but I’ll figure something out. There’s time.

To conclude – because this is reminding me of a proper craft article, haha – the jacket is beginning to feel a lot like something the killjoys would wear on down days. I think Gerard might have worn something green and camo-esque at their return show last year, so it feels fitting to add bits and pieces to mine until Milton Keynes next year. I’m fully planning to wear it around and about, too, because I am not one to look a pocket horse in the mouth. It’s quite nice denim-y material, too, not too heavy for warmer months but not too light to be useful.

I don’t know what I’ll add to the back. My two great artistic loves, MCR and The Raven Cycle, are fully repped, so maybe something mythology-related? Or tarot-related? There are some fantastic patches on Folksy and Etsy, and I have a good collection of enamel pins to add. But first I need to fix the Aglionby patch!

Let me know in the comments if you have any ideas and I will strive to keep you updated.

Look after yourselves!

The Poor Person’s Guide to Helping Creators Make Money (without spending any of your own money)

I’m a writer and have a mini-but-growing stationery business. I also work in marketing. Thus, most of my day and quite a bit of my evenings are spent trying to get consumers (you) to buy into brands (my batshit stories and smartarse pencils, or my clients’ very sensible businesses). There are a billion ways to entice people to part with their cash, and there are a billion resources that will teach you the ins and outs of those ways. Something I’m more interested in is how people with no money can help small businesses and creators grow.

This is partly because I don’t have much disposable income to spend on indie creators or new businesses, and partly because most of my friends don’t, either. I feel like we’re still consumers, though – we’re just consuming with our eyeballs instead of with money. (Although as anyone who’s seen me at a merch stand at a show can attest, when I spend my money on a creator, I spend… all of it.)

Here are several ways you can help boost your favourite creator’s reputation and bring them more income without actually parting with your own money. For ease of writing I’m going to call your favourite creator Jiminy Snicket, because I think we’ve all met a Jiminy Snicket. Jiminy probably draws slightly off the wall comics, straightens their hair à la 2007 and lives with their mam in the Midlands.

Share and reblog social media posts (don’t just click like)

…unless the channel’s entire currency is in likes (hi, Instagram). This is the single best thing you can do to support Jiminy Snicket – in some ways it’s better than spending money on their comic or joining their Patreon. Sharing posts to your feed and followers puts Jiminy’s work in front of a new audience. Let’s face it: if you aren’t coughing up your cash for them, you can at least put their stuff in front of people who might.

Send work to friends who aren’t on the same channel as the creator

I have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (two, actually), Tumblr, LinkedIn, Patreon… Jiminy Snicket is probably also on Discord, Twitch, Snap, Ko-fi and other ridiculously-named channels, because they’re really keen. Most people are regular users of three of those channels, tops. If you’ve seen something cool on Instagram that your friend might like and your friend isn’t on Instagram, email it to them. Text them. Carrier pigeon. Maybe your friend uses Twitter? Jiminy uses Twitter! Your friend can find them on there if she likes their stuff.

Comment on posts

Social media channels (and social media marketers) love talking about engagement. ARE YOU ENGAGING ENOUGH, shouts every marketing website in the universe. NO, YOU ARE NOT, GIVE US YOUR MONEY AND WE’LL TEACH YOU OUR SECRETTTSSSSSS….

All that shit means is, is Jiminy Snicket commenting on other people’s posts? Are they hanging out in their chosen online cesspit community? Spoiler alert: Jiminy does little else. They’re following hashtags and leaving comments and ENGAGING DAMNIT, INSTAGRAM, SHOW JIMINY’S PHOTO TO THEIR FOLLOWERS. Engage right back at Jiminy by commenting on their posts, tagging friends who might like to see their content, doing those shares. Then Instagram or Facebook or wherever will show you Jiminy’s posts more often, and show Jiminy’s posts to other Instagram or Facebook users more often. Those other users might have money to spend on a comic artist from the Midlands!

Click on their website

Most websites cost money to make. Trust me, it’s part of my day job to build and maintain them. They don’t just magically appear on the top of Google either; that takes a mixture of organic searching, clicks from other websites and clicks from things like social media and newsletters. So if Jiminy shares a fancy new website on their Twitter page, click on it! Then go to Google and search things like ‘Jiminy Snicket portfolio site’ or ‘indie alternative comic book artist in the midlands’.

It takes a bit of time, but JiminySnicket.com will start to make its money back and show up for ‘indie alternative comic book artist in the midlands’ or even more vague searches like ‘comic artist in the midlands’. (This also relies a little on Jiminy having a properly optimised website… give me a call, Jiminy, I can help with that.)

RSVP to events even if you’re not going

Looking at you, Facebook Events! When you click ‘interested’ on a Facebook event, it’ll show up in friends’ feeds and sometimes their notifications, therefore telling them that your mate Jiminy Snicket has got a new experimental art show at the local comic store.

Covert ops support

There are ways of boosting Jiminy’s ~general standing in the universe~ without telling lots of people (or Jiminy) about it. Are there competitions or awards you think Jiminy could win? Nominate them. Have a friend who might like their stuff? Pass on their business card (while we’re at it, tell Jiminy to invest in business cards. They’re invaluable).

owl hopping
from Giphy

There are some content-specific things you can do, too. Supporting a writer? Request their books are added to your local library (authors get paid when library books are taken out). Add or review a book on GoodReads (The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes is on GoodReads and it’s not even out yet – you can add it to your to-read shelf in about three seconds and help drum up some noise about it, for example).

Something else I think can work – or is quite fun, at least – is hiding Jiminy’s work in real life places. I gave a handful of Princess and the Dragon samplers to friends who popped them into the bookshelves of coffee shops. Or if they haven’t, they’ve kept schtum about it. The odds of people picking up the samplers and then pledging to my Patreon? Slim; has not happened yet. The sense of smugness when I’ve looked at bookshelves were I personally have left samplers and the sampler is no longer there? Immense, although there’s always the chance that it got chucked away or used as a napkin. It’s a gamble, but so is life.

Not so covert ops support

If you’re both on a site like Wattpad, Archive of Our Own or DeviantART, go on a liking or commenting/reviewing spree on Jiminy’s pages to boost their stats – and their confidence. Are loads of people going to see your heart emoji on a DeviantART post or your rambling review on AO3? No, but you’re doing your bit to make some noise and you’ll give Jiminy the warm fuzzies. While we’re at it, follow Jiminy on every channel you’re both on. Sign up to their newsletter. You don’t have to read and respond to everything, but a boost in numbers will remind Jiminy that there are people out there who are paying attention. Jiminy’s an artist, so will appreciate the stoking of their ego/increase in follow numbers.

Jerry and a Canary from Tom & Jerry GIF
from Twitter

Appoint yourself brand ambassador

You know, like Instagrammers do with those diet tea products. Except Jiminy’s not going to pay you for this. Do you have a moderate following on Twitter? Have you got tonnes of Facebook friends? Consider writing a recommendation post and linking back to Jiminy’s web page and their online handle. Something as simple as ‘My friend @JiminyS has a new comic out and it’s brilliant! You can find it on Patreon at patreon.com/jiminysnicket and see previews on their Facebook page: facebook.com/JiminyS.’

Have you joined Jiminy’s Patreon? Nope. Have you even read the comic? Probably not, because you aren’t the sort to request to read for free something Jiminy is trying to make money from via Patreon. But you’re adding to the noise around Jiminy’s Patreon page, you’re informing the world that Jiminy means business and is in business. Worst case scenario: no one clicks on Jiminy’s stuff but Jiminy gets the warm fuzzies. Best case: people click both links, they like the Facebook page, they become a patron. Jiminy gets both the warm fuzzies and some cash.

This works especially well if Jiminy’s doing something niche and you’re a member of a community (online or offline) that fits the niche. Has Jiminy done a new comic for Pride week? Did it make your howl your eyes out and consider joining a local activism group? There are hundreds of LGBT groups, online and in real life spaces in your town. They’re not all serious and activism-y, some are just places for hanging out. Share the comic to those spaces and Jiminy will notice a lot more engagement. Or maybe they won’t – maybe you printed the comic out and pinned it up in your local friendly queer-run coffee shop. Maybe in six months’ time, a customer sees the comic, howls their eyes out, whips out their phone and types in the Patreon link that Jiminy cleverly included on the comic. This person is in a higher socio-economic bracket than you or me and immediately pledges to Jiminy’s highest Patreon tier. Jiminy thinks it was down to the gods. It wasn’t. It was down to you.

Tom and Jerry gif
from Twitter

Ask after them

I nearly didn’t include this, since it’s not all that practical. Texting Jiminy occasionally and asking about how the new comic’s coming along, or if the Patreon page is growing at the desired rate, or if they want to meet one Saturday to complain about social media algorithms, won’t bring them income. It might do the opposite if you meet for overpriced coffee in an overpriced chain store.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about what genuinely helps creators day-to-day. All these suggestions help more than you’d think, by confirming to Jiminy that they aren’t shouting into the void, that the hours they’ve put into social media schedules and web pages aren’t wasted. The thing about making things for other people to consume is that the process is twofold. First you have to get people to take what you make seriously. Then you have to make them want to pay for it. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been asked for free work, or told I don’t have a real job, or had family members glaze over when they ask how work’s going and instead of telling them about marketing work or a retail job, I talk about how my book is going. Books cost £1.99 on Amazon, so there’s no way I’m justified in asking people to pay more than that on a regular basis just to get the thing onto Amazon!

Creating ~stuff~ is the best fun. Jiminy will make their peace with realistically never owning property and being the cousin/friend/child who can’t afford to join in with events that cost more than £30. But they’ll get lonely sometimes, when they’re the only person in the room without a salaried job or meetings with mortgage brokers or the money to spend on a night out. So, if you know a Jiminy, drop in and ask how things are going. A message from a friend about a specific bit of a project or asking whether they finally worked out that issue with that file reminds Jiminy that they have a life and people outside the all-consuming mindset of making stuff. If you’re of the creative mindset too, Jiminy will appreciate hearing from someone else who’s in the When Will You Get a Real Job trenches.

Rachel and Phoebe from Friends hugginh
from Giphy

This post has been my favourite for a while. I think I quite like Jiminy. Thank you to Tatchiana for the suggestions, let me know in the comments if I’ve missed any useful tips and, in the spirit of what the post is about, here’s my Patreon and my quite expensive portfolio site.

Things I Googled for The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, in Order to Look Slightly Competent

I’ve been clearing out some old pieces of paperwork lately (it’s probably more accurate to say I’m always doing it, just at a rate of about one piece of paper per week). One of the scraps I found was a couple of random things I googled when I was writing The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes. I actually started a post about this very topic months ago, so as today is an extra day and should probably be productive, I’ve finished it:

Do violets have a scent?

Um, yes. They smell of… violets.

Can rabbits wear harnesses?

Yep. They look like this.

Can rabbits eat aubergine?

Yes, although the internet advises that one should not over-feed one’s rabbit aubergine.

False imprisonment

That’s it. That’s all I searched. I think it must have been something for The Prince in the Tower, the second of the stories (so were the rabbit questions, actually). I think I was just checking I hadn’t confused false imprisonment with something else. Genuine imprisonment? Who knows.

Is all suede beige?

Not really? Some suede looks more cream and less, well, beige. This was also a question for The Prince in the Tower. I can’t believe I managed to write a novel about all the things I am interested in (magic! Hot weather! Teenage girls saving the world!) and still include my least favourite colour. 

Thus concludes my list. I like to think that without the internet I would have found out the answers, but without the internet the novel would likely still be on my computer collecting dust. Instead, you can read the opening chapters here and the rest by joining my Patreon! That segue was a hint, by the way. Your life will be far richer for knowing why I needed to know if rabbits can wear harnesses. And if you’re reading this and it’s still Leap Day 2020, you’ll get a story commission from me as well as the usual bits and pieces (a character named after you! Name in book thank yous! A book featuring rabbits and/or harnesses!) when you join up. That’s just until 11pm today, though. The real reward, I think we can agree, is the rabbit thing.

rabbit wearing a harness that reads 'police'
Thank you to Bunny Approved for this wonderful image (and useful information)

Some Ancient History ft. a Dinosaur Front-flipping into a Boat

I was in a good creative flow all day and forgot to have a shower until about 4:30, which is too early for pyjamas but too late for proper clothing so this post is coming to you from someone wearing a dinosaur onesie. With a tail.

gif of a dinosaur front flipping onto a boat

 

I feel bad for not coming to say hi here more often but I’ve been writing a lot of short stories and they always take up a lot more screen time than I expect them to. It’s really satisfying to post a story every week though – I’m tentatively hoping I can keep it up until March at least. That said, there’s a very real chance that I’ll cheat and just share a haiku if I’m stuck. SPEAKING OF POETRY:

Mum and I went to the British Museum yesterday to see the Troy exhibition they’ve got on. Good points: tonnes of ancient artwork of naked people and/or gods; some medieval books that look like they should only exist in fairy tales; at least one statue of a dying Achilles; enough information to fill my brain for years. Bad points: it was quite dark and so busy that I might have to purchase the very large companion book just to understand all of the above, because there was no way to read all the plaques.

Got some pictures of my favourite Valentine’s cards while I was there too:

I Would Fall into Tartarus with You card held in front of dying Achilles statue at British Museum Troy Myth and Reality exhibition

If you follow me on Instagram you can expect more from where that came from, just saying.

I think that’s all from me, except to say that if you like short stories and would like to commission me one, you can do if you join up to my Patreon before the end of February. Story itself can be expected some time before the clocks go forward. Ish.

A Bullet-Point Decade

Inspired by Maggie Steifvater, I have compiled an out-of-order list of things that have happened to me this decade. I’m going out later so I’ll probably get emotionally introspective initially while I’m washing my hair and then while I’m varying degrees of tipsy; I think a list is good for stating unequivocally that things happened, regardless of how we felt about them at the time.

  • Wrote one novel, a dozen or more short stories and a number of fan fictions that we will be leaving in this decade
  • Visited 6 or 9 countries (thereabouts? Does France count if you’re driving through it)
  • Discovered that Pilates is actually a great idea
  • Passed all my GCSEs and about 80% of my A Levels
  • Scrambled up a set of steps at an ancient Cambodian temple using both my arms like a spider and promptly almost fell to my death because a tourist laughed at me and I lost concentration
  • Saw My Chemical Romance play twice; mourned My Chemical Romance; rejoiced at the return of My Chemical Romance
  • Wrote 685 posts on this site
  • Broke at least one toe
  • Met one of my best friends and reconnected with multiple old ones to the extent that this decade feels more friend-y than the previous
  • Met Judith Kerr, an author who illustrated my formative years; she was lovely
  • Meditated for 192 hours, apparently
  • Met Maggie Stiefvater, an author who is illustrating my current years; she was lovely
  • Actually met a tonne of authors (Stephen Chbosky, Adam Silvera, Becky Albertalli), all actual gems
  • Dyed my hair multiple rainbow colours and forgot to take photos almost every time
  • Learnt to drive
  • Burnt the skin off part of my right arm with Tiger Balm
  • Said goodbye to two of my aforementioned best friends and two grandparents
  • Read some Jane Austen
  • Became self employed
  • Learnt to make curry
  • Did more physio sessions than I can count
  • Got 3 ear piercings
  • Tried to read The Iliad twice, twice put it down for another day because god Homer have you heard of a line break
  • Figured out how the London Underground maps work
  • Learnt what tarot cards are
  • Diagnosed with IBS; found a fix for IBS that I’m tentatively excited about
  • Learnt to hula hoop

I started this decade at 14 and am ending it at 24, which seems like more years than actually fit into a decade. The next one will be incomparable in a lot of ways, although I fully plan to increase the novel count and would quite like to hula hoop more.

Let me know your bullet points – we should all have at least 10 when you think about it – and look after yourselves in the next decade. Happy new year!