Chilling out with Lorde and a lil chat

Good evening lovelies,

I hope you’re all well. Today is the fifth anniversary of the Brexit referendum, so here’s to another five years of national stability!!!

(Seriously, though, did that go very quickly or very slowly?) I do not have any news or suchlike for this post; I am working on some bigger ones and today thought ‘it’s been a while, let’s say hello.’ Again with the wonky time, but it feels strange to have already passed midsummer. I usually feel more awake and generally more alive and plugged into nature this time of year, but this year it hasn’t really happened. I’m consistently swinging between insomnia and excessive sleepiness. I don’t think the weather’s extreme changes has helped, or the constant yo yo-ing of Covid restrictions. Everything feels a bit unbalanced at the moment, even though this time of year usually feels very together.

Still, Lorde is back! With a song about the sun, no less (she gets it). I’ve helped several bees leave their accidental prison of the kitchen window. My remaining courgette plant has survived the latest deluge of rain. I had Christmas dinner with some extended family last Saturday. We ate in the garden; it drizzled. It felt weird but also right to be eating Christmas pudding on an overcast day in June. My friends are getting vaccinated by the dozen. Things are… finding their way towards an equilibrium? Maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on Lorde as the saviour of 2021. I mean, I have also been listening to Månneskin and although they are sonically quite different to Lorde, they give me hope for the future of rock music. I think they might be as good at bonkers music videos as MCR are.

I‘m going to overlook that they are all in their early twenties and I am no longer in my early twenties and am, in fact, racing with alarming speed to what could be considered your late twenties even though we should all be allowed to take at least two years off our age to account for the time lost to Covid.

I am getting tired and distracted. The Great British Sewing Bee is finished so I don’t know what I’ll do with my evening – I guess I could… try sewing? – but it’s time to turn off the internet and look at the sky now it’s not hidden by several thousand clouds.

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! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). 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 and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Roasting My High School Work 10-ish Years Later

Last year I found a couple of huge boxes full of my notes from year seven through to year thirteen. Which was quite a lot of years ago. I burnt a lot of it on Halloween and Bonfire Night – seemed appropriate – then recycled the rest when I realised that I’d be there forever. I kept a few pieces that made me laugh. Today I thought, it’s a billion degrees out and I don’t like football, so let’s go through them and take the piss!

Year Seven: History

Turns out I got started in witches quite early. I actually remember making this with another student, in one of the first collaborative projects of year seven. Excellent work enlarging the text box, there…

ancient sugar paper called 'Extracts from a Diary of a "Witch"'

I think we got good marks, though. The inside of the diary is long since lost but those cardboard-and-sugar-paper lasted well!

Year Eight: English & Science

Handwriting reading 'It's a good memory moment but you're not really directing the scene - you need to think about the techniques we used in lesson and also use your imagination! Try and do something original!'


If memory serves, that teacher is the one I part-dedicated The Princess and the Dragon to (she taught my classes again in sixth form). I might frame this piece. Coincidentally, year eight was the year a friend and I discovered the nuances of Word Art:

Am still miffed they chucked out Pluto.

Year Nine: French & Fan Fiction

piece of badly written French homework, featuring Frank Iero of My Chemical Romance & Leathermouth

Ah, year nine. I was so, so shit at French. I remember my teacher doing an oral assessment and saying ‘your accent is very good but you don’t… know any words.’ Psh, whose fault was that? I maintain that I was useless at modern foreign languages because language classes should focus on conversation and communication, not learning to listen to a tape of a stilted robot-esque ‘exchange.’ Top marks to little me for the MCRmy rep, though.

Speaking of fandom… I’m including this next one here because although my fan fiction days were already mostly behind me by this point, I feel like it would have taken a while for me to file it all. I’m not sure who I’m talking to. Future me? The fan fiction police?

paper reading 'Fan Fiction Also published on This folder contains nothing MCR-related. Neither does my'

Possibly everything said or done concerning fan fiction before the age of 16 should be pardoned, no questions asked.

Year Ten: Media Studies

Year ten was when Danger Days was unleashed unto the world. I immediately set about analysing it for my Media GCSE coursework. A*, my dudes, thank you for asking. I’d have been great at Media at A Level but I didn’t like the teachers, so I did essay subjects and didn’t like myself instead.

Year Eleven: Nothing

I clearly was not effing around with my studies in 2011-12, because I didn’t deem a single piece of work from year eleven funny or ridiculous enough to keep. I can’t remember much of year eleven if I am being honest. I think I took three science subjects at GCSE. I definitely took Religious Studies. Mmm. And maths? I remember a maths exam. What a time that was, sitting in a hall with hundreds of other students, breathing on one another…

Year Twelve: Depths of Hell

These collectively sum up my feelings toward year twelve and my life at the time. I am still furious about the ‘I am a package, and I must be shinier than all the packages’ advice we were given. They had an external careers advisor come in and offer advice. Some of her wisdom was good, but a) she made my friend cry with bolshy questions about our career choices, and b) she used three shampoo bottles to illustrate the jobs market. One shampoo was just a bottle. One had a bow on? And one had all this plastic cellophane and glitter and shit. She wanted us to choose which was the best. They were the same brand, so I thought ‘regular non-cellophane shampoo, because who pays for all that glitter crap that you cut off before you use the shampoo? You don’t, unless you’re shopping for a gift.’ That was the wrong answer, because job candidates are objects that must look better than all the other objects.

It might have been bubble bath, now I think on it. It might have been a different year, too. It’s irritated me for a good six or seven years, though. Fucking terrible advice regardless of the toiletry product. Comb your hair, read up on the job description and make eye contact. That’s all you need to do to make a good impression at an interview, sweeties. Promise. Well, don’t be a shitbag to the interviewer. Maybe make sure you’re qualified for the role, unless you’re a white man who’s good at bullshitting.

Right, next up:

cartoon of The Picture of Dorian Gray

A friend and I did this retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray. We were quite proud, if I remember correctly. We had the most lovely teacher, who really wanted us to know that she knew the book was Extremely Gay and that she was okay with it. She used the word ‘homoerotic’ in class so often that we started keeping a tally. I think the record was twenty uses in an hour, because she’d done that thing where you get stuck on a word? Sometimes we’d segue into conversations about Ancient Greek wrestling and, if I remember correctly, body oil. A Levels are a ride.

Does anyone else remember when we had Old Labour and New Labour? Do you remember who Ed Miliband is?

photograph of paperwork and tables of information about Ed Miliband and David Cameron

Year Thirteen: Own Work

I didn’t keep any school work from year thirteen – I got a bit of a stomach ache just thinking about that time, to be honest. I thought sixth form was The Worst Time in My Life, a Literal House Fire, for ages, but then 2019 and 2020 happened, and now it only seems like a small house fire. Tell you what, I’m owed a good year.

Anyway, here is the time I marked a piece of MCR research I did. I don’t know if any of you will remember the MCRmy Census Project (my first piece of big research!) from circa 2012-2014. I collected a bunch of info from MCR fans, collated it into graphs and commentated on it, printed it out all nicely, then mailed it to Gerard Way. I spelt ‘ethnography’ incorrectly on the front cover. I think I finished it in year thirteen or thereabouts. Some time later, I went through with a red pen and graded myself. I can’t remember why, but it turned out to be good practise for book editing. And my return to academia. I sound way bitchier than my college teacher did in any of her feedback, ha.

Have you kept any of your old school work? Was any of it as ridiculous as the pieces I dragged out?

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! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). 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 and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Plant Mum Post #2: Introducing My Newest Lil Baby

Meet my newest child! I wasn’t going to buy any cacti (I wasn’t going to buy… anything) but this little creature was on the almost dead sale table at Hyde Hall, so really it had to be done. It’s a Christmas cactus. Well. It might be an Easter cactus. I bought it in May. The staff had no idea what colour its flowers might be, but surprise is the spice of life, or something. So far I’ve watered it once and admired its complete lack of attention seeking. Excellent purchase.

Remember the little courgettes? They have had mixed fortunes. They outgrew their makeshift pots so I put them outside in real pots. So much space for them to grow! Then we had AN UNHOLY STORM and my poor babies got pummelled. And, um, eaten by snails. By the time I got some proper growbags, we were down from nine sprouts to six. As of today, we have four or five. I’m only really confident that perhaps two of them will make it to the eating stages of our relationship. I should have kept them indoors for longer, and maybe played them more music. I’m 90% sure sound is good for plants, but I am basing that on a couple of newspaper articles and one passage in Good Omens.

courgettes in a growbag

So last time the peppers were just a pile of sludge. Today they are sprouts! They’re a bit more delicate than the courgettes were at that age (is that what you’re meant to say?). I’ve repotted them a couple of times because I ran out of soil, but so far so good? I’m not sure they’re up for the great outdoors yet, but they seem quite happy.

Pepper sprouts

If you read my A Week in the Life of an Author post, you’ll have seen that I gifted my cousin and cuz-in-law this little thing:

Funny story: I bought it when it was a tiny baby plant, in ASDA, to take to E’s for dinner. The dinner never happened but Covid did, so the plant hung out with me for 18 months, growing merrily. I finally gifted it last week, by which point it was twice its original size. It also took until last week to learn it’s called a ‘Flaming Katy.’ Does it look like it might catch light? The plan was always to give it to E when I saw her properly, but I became quite fond of it, so I took a cutting and it’s doing all right:

small cutting of Flaming Katy plant

Just a heads up, family, I might grow you all Flaming Katys for your assorted special occasions.

How are your house plants? Your garden plants? The verge outside your home? I don’t know if you can upload pictures to the comments section, but if you can… send me your photos. Or draw me a picture! Maybe not of those tall cacti, they could give the search engine scanners the wrong idea…

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! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). 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 and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

A Week in the Life of an Author/Freelancer/Stationery Shop Owner ft. Chronic Pain

When I was doing the quarterly income post I remembered that the life of a creative person/student (well, not a student now my work is handed in) is a bit opaque. I’ve had people tell me I don’t have a job, or don’t work, so I figured, let’s keep a diary of a week in my life. This was a good week to record, because it’s the first I haven’t had a single college commitment since I started my diploma back in September, so I was trying to figure out a new routine. I had Patreon work, stationery shop work, and writing. Well, Continuing Professional Development, in the end, more than actual writing.

It was also an up-and-down week in terms of my health – I’ve spoken about my chronic pain before. This is it in action! I have fun little spells of depression, too, which I wasn’t initially going to include but then I thought, fuck it. We should talk more about this stuff, if only because it gets in the way of the rest of my life. I left out some details, because this isn’t a gossip column, but otherwise this is a pretty accurate look at the menagerie of work I do on a daily basis. I’ve split the days into sections so you don’t have to scroll forever. Enjoy!



Awake. Ish. My new year’s resolution was to spend an hour every morning ignoring the rest of the universe, aka not using the internet. It’s evolved into making a cup of coffee to take back to bed, doing some meditation on the Headspace app and maybe having a read. Then I make more coffee and go for a walk. I’m on chatting terms with multiple neighbours. I can’t tell if the whole routine is very pretentious or very hippie, but I don’t care. It’s nice to go to work with a clear, news/social media-free brain. Also, today I saw some ducks.


Sit down to some writing. I’ve been working on this one story for months and I’m not sure if it’s dragging because I need to focus or I’m dragging because the story lacks focus. Give in trying to figure out which is is, have breakfast.


Remember I have not showered. Shower.


My hands are aching so I do some very exciting physiotherapy with some putty and a squishy ball. Physio gets boring quite quickly, especially when you have been doing it for eight or nine years, so I have a read – Bertrand Russell, get me – while I’m using the ball. I learnt the hard way that putty requires your full attention, or it gets everywhere. It’s like the ectoplasm in Ghostbusters meets playdoh.


Walk to my nan’s for coffee with her and my mum. Three of us are inside! Having coffee! So weird.


Do some freelance work for a long time client.


Work on my next newsletter and some blog posts. Break for lunch and come back rejuvenated. Well, less hungry. Post today’s blog, about getting the second Covid vaccine. Work on this post.


I’m trying to build in more breaks and not sit at my desk for long periods, so I list some clothes for sale online and organise some laundry. Between 2pm and 5pm I’m mostly useless, so I try and make that the time I do non-work things.


Work on the Do Something Directory. Trying to figure out a new page. It’s going to look great.


Take a walk, because it isn’t raining.


Fuss about online for a bit, checking sales for the paperback of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes. They could be worse! My biggest fear was that no copies would sell. End up on a YouTube Q&A with a mortician (verdict: I’m not sure I fancy being embalmed). Poke about on Goodreads, because I’m smug I’ve read a lot of excellent books this year. Find the page for my favourite novel of the year so far. Some of the reviews are terrible. I don’t mean to be rude, but what did these people read? It was a masterpiece. Read the book in self defence.


Do some physio – knees and back this time. I live large – and pack an order from my stationery shop. Read the news: apparently a man in Spain has been found dead, trapped inside a papier-mâché dinosaur. It’s thought he dropped his phone inside, climbed in to get it, and got stuck. How appalling.


I lied. I’m not productive yet. Do some ironing in front of A Place in the Sun. What is one without the other? Read the news (terrible). Get an email from my critique partner (good). Give up on the day and make dinner (better).


Waste time chill out on YouTube, which is almost productive because I’m also messaging a friend, S, who’s working on the Do Something Directory with me. Fuss about on writing groups.


Remember that today is the anniversary of the day my littlest dog, Adonis Wheezeface Bean, passed away. It’s somehow worse than last year. Also, the news is still shit. Someone’s body washed up on Southend beach this morning. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it does. Today becomes is what we in the mental health department call a Bad Day. There’s not much to do when one of those descends, so I spend the rest of the evening on a clothes swap group – bye my purple jumpsuit that doesn’t fit, hi to a new wrap dress that hopefully will – and on Reddit. Learn that David Yoon, the author, is lovely.


Do a Pilates routine I found on YouTube because I’ve been sitting down for ages. Bed.

photograph of a webpage with squares showing photographs and words overlaid, including 'LGBTQ+', 'Children & Young People', 'Environment & Climate Change' and  'Mental Health'

On Getting the Second Covid Vaccine (Side Effects, Getting AstraZeneca, Long Term Impact)

Ah, the end of a series. And the beginning of long term immunity! Hopefully! (For anyone new, here is my post about getting offered the vaccine and having a small existential crisis over it, and here is my post about getting my first dose and the side effects.)

I had the second dose on Friday morning and it was all right, all things considered. I got a bit headachy and tired later in the day, but I didn’t just go to sleep like I did last time. My arm didn’t feel as heavy as before, either, which was nice. Now I’m feeling physically normal and mentally… more relaxed? I know I’m unusually lucky with the timing, but I do feel a bit more confident about socialising in groups now. I think I’d be very anxious about the lockdown easing if I hadn’t had at least one dose. Last week, pre-second dose, I hugged about five people. Five! And I sat indoors in a café! Twice! (Aside: how weird is it being indoors with people you’ve never seen before?) I was a bit nervous, but between the first vaccine and a negative Covid test, I felt prepared? And now I’m fully vaccinated I’m definitely happier to mingle.

Well, not happier. I didn’t like mingling before all this. But now I’m not worried that I’ll accidentally kill a vulnerable person if I breathe too closely to them.

So what have we learnt, reader? Other than reaffirming that I am constantly anxious about all things? Well, if you’re hesitant about getting the vaccine because you’re worried about side effects, I’d say take a deep breath and just do it. A couple of days of feeling shitty is nothing compared to a stint in intensive care, or long Covid. If you’re worried about blood clots due to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, then I hear you. I don’t think the risks of AZ were known when I had my first dose; I did panic when I saw the news. But I’m fine – I think I’d know if I had a blood clot? – and the risks really are low, especially when compared to the chances of dying from Covid. Plus, young people are getting a different vaccine now anyway.

If you’re bad with needles, I’d say tell the nurse you’re bad with needles. I’m fine with them as long as I look away and talk incessantly while they’re administering the thing. But it was genuinely more of a scratch than anything else. I’d say it’s less uncomfortable than having blood drawn, but your mileage may vary depending on how you feel about needles and your experience with blood tests and surgical stuff. I’ve had multiple hospital stays and my hands are covered in needle scars, so I’m probably more relaxed than most people.

filled-in vaccine card for Oxford AsteaZeneca vaccine

All in all, I’d say the whole experience has been all right. The two vaccine centres I visited were forensically organised (shout out to my mum, who used to work at one of them). The staff were lovely. I’ve been thinking back to side effects to past vaccines and feeling grateful that this jab was pretty much the same as previous ones: I felt rough for a few days, but that’s it. It’s more than worth the hassle for the peace of mind.

It’s a bit of a catch-22 that I qualified for an early vaccine; I was simultaneously so relieved and guilt ridden. When the blood clot thing happened, I wished I’d been in a group that didn’t qualify yet. I’m still not completely sure why I did qualify, but on balance I’m grateful. I was never particularly worried for myself in all this – well. I was worried, but not paralysed with fear twenty four seven. Just in those moments when I let myself think about it. I was worried twenty four seven for all the vulnerable people I could potentially infect. Knowing that I’m contributing to the nation’s general immunity is nice. I can’t remember how much the vaccine reduces your risk of spreading the disease, but knowing I’m potentially less infectious also gives me peace of mind. I’m still hand washing and mask wearing (although I will be honest with you that I am still finding it hard to keep track of what is and isn’t allowed. If hugs are still illegal, ignore everything I wrote earlier).

I’m off to bask in my vaccine status. By which I mean, do some work and, most likely, make a cup of tea. OH THE EXCITEMENT. If any of my posts have inspired you to look into getting vaccinated, or have helped you feel more informed or less anxious about the vaccine, let me know! I wrote the series to add to the voices encouraging vaccination. It’s infuriating that vaccine hesitant people can so easily become anti-vaccination when prayed upon by those with political goals and persuasive branding. It’s devastating that vaccine hesitancy can lead to deaths, not just with Covid but with things like measles. But a conversation about those things is for another day. I reckon we’ll come back to it time and time again, though.

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! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). 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 and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Quarterly Income Round Up (January – April 2021)

Darlings. Pending resubmissions, my diploma is finished, and I am trying to remember how to be human again. It was going well until I did a Covid test this afternoon. I don’t have Covid, but I did sneeze out most of my brain while I was swabbing. What a word, swabbing. Anyway, onto business: I promised (well, threatened) to start doing income round ups, because most people don’t really know a) what self employment or freelancing or executive producing books looks like, or b) how well those things pay. I also want to be transparent with my readers. Not transparent enough to tell you what I spend my money on, but open about the realities of Author Life. Money is very much still a taboo in western culture, and it shouldn’t be. Do we have time for me to rant about how it’s in multinational companies and landlords and politicians’ interests that we’re too polite to talk about finances, because if we knew how little people were earning we’d rise up and demand better rent control and fairer wages? No? Fiiiine.

So let’s settle in for a deep dive into my earnings! Be nosy! Be judgemental! It’s a longer post as I’m introducing different income streams and explaining why I’ve earnt X or Y amount. The next one will likely be snappier. This post is concerned with the final fiscal quarter of 2020-2021, from 6th January to 5th April 2021. I’ve been self employed my entire adult life, so the season isn’t split onto seasons, it’s split into financial quarters. Here we go.


  • Book royalties: £5.59
  • Income from the No. 1 Readers’ Club on Patreon: £111.44
  • Income from miscellaneous writing/blog work, e.g. Kofi and PayPal one-off donations, WordAds on this blog, Amazon affiliate links*: £0
  • Shop ‘royalties’: £60
  • Freelance work: £99
  • Total: £276.03

*Amazon affiliate links and PayPal one off donations weren’t set up until the end of April and beginning of May respectively, but I want to include everything I can possibly think of so in future I can copy-paste the list. Continuity, innit.

If you’re thinking ‘that is quite depressingly low, I am starting to understand why you live with a parent,’ then welcome to the inside of my head. My mum has been helping me out while I’m at college, and I pay my dad miniature rent, instead of full sized market-rate rent. If that wasn’t the case, I’d be living in a homeless hostel and/or would have starved to death by now. Funnily enough, if I hadn’t been a student, I’d have been eligible for universal credit, but I was so… I wasn’t.

(If you’re thinking ‘don’t students get loans to live?’ you’re thinking of university students getting maintenance loans. I enrolled in local college, on a diploma for learners aged 19-plus (aka not dependants). The diploma is considered ‘full time’ despite being about 15 hours of class time each week. You aren’t allowed universal credit if you’re a full time student, presumably because the powers that be assume you’re eligible for a maintenance loan. I learnt this the hard way when I claimed UC last September, thinking I was still eligible for support (I’d been on it since Covid, well, Covid-ed the majority of my freelance work). I had to repay September’s amount a couple of months after they cancelled my claim. It isn’t fair that adult, not-university-level learners slip through the system because we’re in the weird space between mandatory education and university (old enough to work while we study, studying so we qualify for better paid jobs and pausing or cutting down work if we feel we need to devote more time to those qualifications, ineligible for financial help even though we’ll pay more tax when we earn more down the road). Not a lot about the education system in this country strikes me as meritocratic these days, though.)

So, yeah, I made less in a quarter than most people pay in rent or on their mortgage per month. This was a particularly pitiful time to be fair, as I wasn’t really freelancing but the book royalties hadn’t trickled down yet. Good thing it was illegal to go anywhere, eh. Here’s how and why it’s worked out:

How it all works

Book royalties:

The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes ebook was released in the previous quarter: early December 2020. There was, what, three weeks left of that quarter when it came out? I don’t know how many ebooks sold in those three weeks, because apart from Google Play (which is where that £5.59 came from), another company (We’ll call them Third Party) does all the admin for me. It’s a very slow process, because consumers can return ebooks up to 30 days after purchase, so you can’t take the money out before then, in case customers want it back. The purchase is processed by Amazon or Kobo or Apple Books, which takes their cut, and is then processed by Third Party (currency conversions are accounted for, etc). Third Party takes 20% of whatever’s left after the retailers are paid, instead of charging me a flat fee.

I don’t have access to sales figures, so I can’t do a best-guess as to what will come to me. The ebook is available on multiple platforms, which all have different systems with varying fees, and they’re often in different currencies. I might receive the December 2020 quarter royalties during the quarter we’re in now (April-June 2021). I might not.

That £5.59 from Google Play is one book sale, in case you’re wondering, and the buyer paid £7.99; Google Play’s cut is approximately 30%. The customer paid in GBP so there was no currency conversion fee. If there had been, or if Third Party had done the admin, I’d have earned about £4.50 from it.

Why do I let Third Party do all that admin when 20% is quite a lot? Well, if you’re agented, your agent takes 20% of your earnings – instead of you paying them a set fee each for each publisher they get interested in your book, or for each event they get your involved with, et cetera, they just take a cut of your earnings. It’s a good system, because a decent agent will always work in your interests to ensure you get the best deal possible. So, yeah, 20% is normal. But also, I hated setting up one book on Google Play. It took maybe half an hour from start to finish, but I don’t have time to do that with Kobo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all the others. I think that 20% is quite a reasonable exchange for the time I save by not doing it. It’s like having an accountant. Sure, I’d save money if I dealt with my self assessment admin myself, but I’d stress myself out worrying if I’d forgotten to declare something or was claiming too many expenses. I’m paying for the luxury of a night’s sleep.

Income from the No. 1 Readers’ Club on Patreon

I can’t remember if this was the amount I actually got as a wage or the amount I withdrew from Patreon; I usually put aside about 20% to pay for member rewards (stamps for their letters, the odd piece of merch) and writer life admin stuff (website domains, Microsoft Office, book promotion costs).

Miscellaneous writing and blog work

Here is what I made from WordAds, running on this site, from January until March this year (it won’t show me April yet as it’s still processing):


What can I say: website advert profits are pitiful unless you’ve got a gazillion views each week. WordPress only pays out ad revenue when it hits $100… I did the maths and I will be in my eighties when that happens, assuming views continue much as they have been. I told this to one of my cousins and she suggested that $100 in 60 years’ time will probably get me a Freddo. There’s a comment there somewhere about the housing market, millennials and avocado toast.

The affiliate links didn’t exist yet and I don’t seem to have the sort of audience that goes in for the ‘one off PayPal/Ko-fi/blog-button-at-the-end-of-each-post’ type thing. Feel free to prove me wrong if you’re reading this, though.

Shop ‘royalties’

Fun fact: until this year, I never took a wage from my stationery business. Everything I made went back into the business to keep solvent. So I didn’t see a penny for about… seven years. (This is also normal, and why most people say ‘don’t quit your day job’ when you start a business.) Anyway, 2020 was surprisingly good sales-wise, because the shops were closed and everyone had to buy online. I did one event pre-Covid, so I didn’t have as many big costs as I normally would. And ta-dahh… cash flow is good. I can skim a little off the top to keep myself in smokes. Not that sixty quid buys you a lot of cigarettes these days. (I also don’t smoke.) (Do I strike you as someone who can afford to, on less than three hundred quid a quarter?) (I wish I had chosen a different expression.)

Freelance work:

Officially, I stopped freelancing at Christmas to focus on my diploma. Unofficially, I have some lovely friends and colleagues who occasionally have me post a blog or schedule a Facebook post. That said, 70% of my earnings this quarter were what I was owed from work I did in December. Delayed gratification is very much a theme in my career. (When I say ‘unofficially’, I’m lying: everything listed here is declared earnings. I just emailed my clients and said ‘I’m off to focus on academia for a bit.’)

There you have it. It looks bad, because it is, but we were in lockdown for the entire quarter, so my outgoings after rent were essentially limited to toothpaste and shampoo. I probably could have ditched the shampoo, now I think about how few people saw my face… next quarter will be snazzier assuming I get some more royalties through – I have the paperback of The Princess and the Dragon now, too – and if those lovely colleagues are happy for me to trot over to Facebook and schedule some posts for them. I can’t wait to show you guys the non-existent WordAds revenue every quarter until either I die or reach my eighties. Ooh, now I want a Freddo.

If you found this halfway interesting, let me know! Ask questions! Get judgy in the comments section! Okay, not too judgy. I don’t bitch about your life choices to your face. Students and writers are meant to be fiscally insecure, it’s basically a rule. It does feel strange to talk about money so publicly, but I do feel like it needs to be done. Not because I want readers to feel bad for me – I chose to work in the arts and I chose to go back to school – but because not enough people talk about what those things look like in reality. I’m off to daydream about Freddos and continue my Raven Cycle reread.

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! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). 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 and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Pre-Empting Burnout and Turning Off the Internet for a Bit (except not here, here is nice)

This time a month ago I wrote about feeling like we were all living in the Nine of Wands. I still do, but the end is in sight. Or if not sight then it’s around the corner and down the road a bit. My diploma is almost finished. This stage of lockdown is almost finished. I got my eyebrows waxed yesterday and I feel like I can finally do my sarcastic eyebrow raises with precision. My final hand in date is the same day the lockdown eases up, which I only realised last week. It’s all a bit… soon-but-also-not-soon? Time has moved so differently since the pandemic began. Except for my eyebrow hairs, which have continued their mission to become one single eyebrow. (No shade to the Frida Kahlos of the world; I wish I had your gumption but I was brought up in a time of tweezed brows and the societal damage has been done. Also I really love that slightly sharp look that comes with a well defined brow. All the better for expressing my distaste for idiots without saying a single word.)

Point is, I’ve got a few important things to do – finish my final project, reread the entirety of the Raven Cycle and the Dreamer Trilogy before Mister Impossible comes out, repot some of the more substantial courgettes – and I reckon it’s time to do the smart thing and go on an official holiday, so I can focus properly and not collapse into a heap when something minor sends me into a tailspin. If you’re a colleague and you’re expecting to hear from me next week then ignore this completely: I’m a) not going anywhere and b) really just turning off my social media. I can’t afford to stop working. I’m thinking of this as more of a break from other people’s voices, even if those voices are really funny on Twitter. I’ll pop in a few times a week to check my messages but otherwise I’ll only be posting on this blog, my Patreon or sending out my monthly-ish newsletter. This blog doesn’t feel like work (and I have lots of posts I want to write up!) and Patreon technically is work but is also mostly me doing tarot readings and telling short stories. Which I will have more head space to do once I’ve turned off all the Twitter voices, handed in this soul sucking, brain eating final project and remembered what it is to be a human being again. I might… go to the shops. WITH NO PURPOSE EXCEPT TO BROWSE.

The thought makes me dizzy.

If you need me urgently, hit me up at francescaswords [at] I’ll get back to you within three business days. I’m not sure when I’ll be back to posting regularly on social media: maybe June? July? I will set up some posts to feed the algorithm, but if you need me… check back here, I guess. Here is a picture of my life post-diploma:

spine photograph of Maggie Stiefvater's UK editions of 'The Raven Cycle' series plus 'Call Down the Hawk. Partial showing of Iris Murdoch's 'Existentialists and Mystics' and Brandon Sanderson's 'The Final Empire', also in paperback.

My darlings. I haven’t read The Raven Cycle since 2019, since before Call Down the Hawk came out. Soon, my precious, battered, non-Insta-friendly paperbacks, I will inflict more spine damage and probably use you as coasters. Can’t bloody wait.

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! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). 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 and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

In which I am becoming a plant mum (post one of, possibly, hundreds)

Afternoon! I’m drafting a post in which I take the piss out of some of my old school work, but I’ve been editing my final project for my diploma so I’m not quite up for being witty this weekend. My braincells are sort of hanging onto life with the grim determination of someone who knows that a holiday is right around the corner. I don’t want to frighten them. So I thought that I’d talk about something nice instead and what is could be nicer, on May Day, than plants?

Okay, maybe more reliable weather and a gin but let’s not quibble. HERE ARE SOME PLANTS I’VE BEEN GROWING.

Let’s start with some courgette sproutlings. I don’t know the name for vegetables once they’ve stopped being seeds but before they look like the things you buy in the supermarket. These little dudes started growing ridiculously quickly. This was day two or three:

tiny courgette sprout

This is them on days, I don’t know, seven or nine? They got real bolshy real quickly. I was reading Maggie Stiefvater and Morgan Beem’s Swamp Thing around now and I definitely started to wonder about the extent to which plants are sentient.

Last Monday I separated them out and I’m kind of hoping the weather gets better before they grow too much more, because the next size of pot is going to be way too big for a windowsill:

This is them today:

I am so glad I’ve hoarded old, broken mugs for the last year or so. This is why I can’t be a proper minimalist. I’ve also just noticed the bird shit on the window. Yay nature!

I like telling them how I’m going to eat them. They don’t seem to mind. All right, next plants! I can’t photograph most of them, because they are either gifts or being propagated as gifts. Might get awkward. Anyway, here is what is going to become, hopefully, a pot of peppers.

I planted them this afternoon. I’ll keep you updated. I’ve been sending my mum daily courgette photos so you guys can keep track of the peppers. Okay now for something inedible: my aloe veras! (Aloe verae?)

I’m saying that they’re inedible like I have any idea if you can eat aloe vera. Some people probably do. The one on the left is a plant I’ve had for… four or five years? It’s grown like the clappers and keeps sprouting. A couple of offspring are on the right. To be completely honest, I’m not sure if they’re going to make it: I think they got a bit too much sun when I first repotted them. Fingers crossed though. Also, points to me for using an old candle holder as a plant pot. That shelf, the one with the aloes and [redacted, because it’s a gift] is right by my windowsill. It also holds my speakers, so I’ve put as many plants there as I can fit partly for the light and partly because sound is good for plants. You’re meant to talk to them I think? I reckon that between me talking to myself, Radio 4 and my MCR CDs, they’re enjoying a balanced diet.

All this plant/food talk is making me hungry so I’ll leave this here. Oh, if you entered last week’s giveaway to win a signed copy of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes then unless you are Sonia Marie you haven’t won. Sorry. I let a computer generator thing chose the winner, so it wasn’t based on the strength of anyone’s fairy tale-related comments. I loved all of them! If you are Sonia Marie, CONGRATULATIONS.

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! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). 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 and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)