Introducing a BOOK, Sort Of, That I’m Writing, I Think?

LEO FUCKIN WON AMEN from Villiage Roadshow Pictures

It occurred to me recently that a) I should start calling the Giant Enormous Writing Project a book, and b) I should probably talk about it more because it’s driving me a bit mad, in a good way, and when it’s done I’m going to brag about it until hell freezes over, and I should set the ground work for that.

So, yeah, I’m writing a book! It hasn’t got a title yet, before you ask, but I’m calling it dragonnovel, because there is at least one dragon in it. It’s a children’s book, probably. I’m not telling anyone anything else yet, because the dragon is one of about three elements that definitely won’t change. Kind of like in an essay when you know that you’ve got to answer a specific question but how you’ll answer it is really anyone’s guess because you’ve deleted about 5,000 words and made 14 separate plans and look please come back later I need emergency snacks and the ability to spot repeated sentences with my eyes closed.

But it’s going well. This week I rewrote an irritating paragraph and I haven’t felt such a sense of satisfaction since I finished my A Levels. I guess the whole not-discussing-the-plot thing is going to keep this post quite short haha, because all I can tell you is that it’s a CRUCIAL PARAGRAPH. There are also many characters. Several conversations pass the Bechdel Test. I think. Ugh, now I’m paranoid that they don’t. I’ll check in a minute. Look, I made a Pinterest board? Enjoy?

I’m going to try to sort-of track my progress with the book by blogging about it sporadically. In theory, the further I get the more I’ll be able to talk about without worrying that whatever I’m telling you won’t make it into the final draft, so hit me up if you have questions you want answering or have strong feelings about dragon mythology or something.

I’m also here because even though I hate talking about works in progress, a condition of finally talking about dragonnovel is to share my Patreon page more often. I’ve reworked it – again! – because I could do with a little bit of financial breathing space while I write, just for tech expenses and website domains and the like, so I can focus on getting as many MCR jokes into dragonnovel as possible and finishing a proper first draft by the end of summer. I want to make this whole thing as fun and off-beat as possible, too, so everyone who pledges from now until I’m finished writing will get their names in the thank yous of the book, and anyone who pledges $3 or more will get a free ebook/PDF of the finished novel. I am hoping to get traditionally published with a proper agent, but I’ve been working on dragonnovel since 2016 and even if I end up printing it on my home computer, there will be an ebook or PDF. All patrons will also get behind the scenes updates and extra content like playlists and previews (spoiler alert: Lorde is on a playlist). I’m still going to write little short stories and things too, as a break, so there is still early-access to those. Oh and I’ll always name a character after patrons, because I enjoy naming characters hugely.

LEO FUCKIN WON AMEN from Villiage Roadshow Pictures
from Villiage Roadshow Pictures

I’ve done some research and did a soft opening of the new page for friends and apparently it all makes a lot more sense than the old one did, so have a read and bask in the glory of my reward tier names. I also got rid of all tiers above $5, because who has more than $5 spare every month, and added some cool rewards. I’m not really ever expecting to hit 10 patrons but if I do, you guys better prepare yourselves for some excellent fan fiction reading.

Have a good weekend!

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Brownout 2.0: the To-Do List from Hell

Tom and Jerry goldfish bowl head

Morning! I don’t usually write blogs before lunchtime because mornings are for Serious Work but a) I have to leave the house soon and can’t get my teeth into anything in case I forget to leave and b) I’m feeling a bit pffft. I would like to blame the weather, but I think I’m getting a bit of brownout. Again. And this time it’s a peak first world problem, because I know exactly what’s causing it. I have so much to do that I don’t know where to start, and then I end up doing none of it! I probably should have learnt how to get over this during my GCSEs (how did I cope with TWELVE SUBJECTS?) but I didn’t, so this is what my internal monologue was like at 9am:

Do I start off today working on an Etsy plan for 2018/19? Do I do some ads for my freelancing services? Do I go back to my Giant Writing Project for a stage of edits and the next draft? I’m really excited to get back to that! Or do I rework my Patreon plans? Do I write another blog post? Is a blog post going to translate to cold hard cash? Probably not. Maybe that’s why I should focus on freelancing or Patreon. Except, I want to use Patreon to support my writing and blogging, and no one will support me if there are no new stories and blogs! Wait, what about Etsy. Oh and the printer needs rebooting and the car needs petrol. Go and buy petrol you idiot you literally can’t get to work otherwise. You have an appointment today. The end of the tax year is coming up. That feels momentous.  Hang on that means you were in Asia a year ago. A year?! God that went quickly. Have you finished that blog post about Laos yet? No, because blogging about Laos won’t make any money and you’re trying to focus on money stuff, remember? Go and work on your Patreon! By the way you’re behind on your uni course.

[continue for half an hour, break for coffee, start again]

Tom and Jerry goldfish bowl head
from Twiter

So I’m here. Definitely not making any money, but not tearing my hair out either. What do you guys do when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Usually I am a big fan of the list, because it helps me prioritise, but I don’t know what to prioritise! I want to work on my Giant Writing Project but if I’m going to spend time on that, I need to have more traction on my Patreon because otherwise I can’t really afford to write. I also need to keep up with my uni course because it’s good for my brain development and future prospects, but I have to finally work out what’s up with my printer because I can’t keep putting it off and I want to write that Laos blog but I can’t keep justifying all the time I spend on blogging when I have the Giant Writing Project to finish. Ughhhh.

Right, I have to get ready for my appointment, and I’ll get petrol on the way. I can tick writing this week’s blog off the list, ha, and Google the shit out of fixing my printer. I’m actually doing a bit of market research about Patreon and crowdfunding in general because there’s no point having a Patreon if I’m not using it properly, so if you have three minutes to spare I’d really appreciate if you’d let me know your thoughts. I’ll go from there. And Etsy… I’ll spend half an hour today on a plan for that. After I’ve done some course work.

Hang on. Did I just make a list? HAHAAAAA HELL YES. THANK YOU BLOG. Maybe I’ll keep you around after all. Spiritual nourishment and all that. That being said, I’d love to be able to work this blog into my Patreon plans as well (two or three or ten birds, one crowdfunding stone) so if you have any ideas about how to incorporate blog posts into reward tiers, leave a comment! And/or do that survey. Please and thank you.

How to Digital Detox in 5 Minutes and Win 2018 | An Almost-Scientific Study

Jerry and a Canary from Tom & Jerry GIF

HELLO 2018. I AM WINNING THIS YEAR SO FAR. Okay so technically I woke up 45 minutes late this morning and am wearing a pair of unflattering tracksuit bottoms that I actually said I was going to stop wearing so much last July and technically I embarked on my new year’s resolution on Boxing Day. I also went back to my office job yesterday and thought I was actually going to die when my alarm went off.

But.

So far.

Hell yeah 2018.

Who else is feeling good about themselves? Who wants tips? Of course you do.

Remember when I wrote about new year’s resolutions? I thought about them a lot over Christmas and the only one I really wanted was the third one I talked about: making my writing and art succeed financially. So I worked backwards and thought about how I use my time and the level of discipline it takes to really focus on achieving something important. Then I decided to get rid of my smartphone.

It sounds drastic, but my phone is on the blink anyway and those old-new Nokias with no 3G are pretty nifty. I decided to use a non-smart (stupid?) phone generally and use my computer or iPad for Etsy and social media a couple of times a day. I WILL BE FREE OF BLUE LIGHT AND DISCIPLINE WILL BE MINE, I announced. I WILL SUCCEED FINANCIALLY.

Baby Groot Dancing in a Plant Pot GIF

Francesca, pointed out my entire family, you really need Google Maps. They had a point, so I’ve decided to just get a cheap and cheerful smartphone with a mildly-working camera and enough space for Google Maps. And my banking app, because I have no idea how society functioned without the ability to check their balance whenever they fancied (also it’s probably good to know your cash flow when your heart’s desire is financial stability, ha).

Midway through my thousandth free-from mince pie on Boxing Day, I faced up to the uncomfortable truth: the issue with me having a smartphone isn’t that it’s a smartphone. It’s that I use it too much. Buying a stupidphone might stop me from checking the Internet, but I’d just become obsessed with checking my iPad instead. I never go online on Christmas Day except to message people – I don’t think I ever have – and every year I think ‘why don’t I do this more often?’ So since Boxing Day I’ve been trying this thing where I only use the phone for five minutes at a time. I’m not rewarding or punishing myself for sticking to it or going over, I just wanted to see if it freed up my time. Shocker: it absolutely does! The general Christmas holiday notwithstanding, I reckon I’ve done in three days what usually takes five: I’ve got loads of studying done, written about 1000 words of a super secret writing project and even remembered to order contact lenses. DISCIPLINE IS MINE.

Jerry and a Canary from Tom & Jerry GIF
from Twitter

So there you have it: to WIN AT 2018, you just need to put your phone down!

You’re welcome.

In the spirit of finding success, I am linking my Patreon page again. I love to write and make art, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to try to cover my blog or portfolio domain costs via the very blog I’d like to fund. I will absolutely consider 2018 a roaring success if I reach $6 a month in total pledges (the grand sum of my domain costs), because then I can focus on blogging and not on how to pay for the blog. I can also focus on the super secret writing project but it’s only 3rd January so I’m staying super secretive until it’s progressed further. Watch this space, literally.

Happy new year!

 

A Crowdfunding Question: Patreon or PayPal? (Answers in the comments, please)

Patreon pledge changes graph explanation

This is going to be a quick little blog because there is a potato baking in the oven with my name on it, and potatoes come before all things but I would like to ask you guys for your opinion, please. Today I published the final part of The Sea Witch’s Revenge (magic! Cursed sea life! Seagulls?) and also discovered how to add a PayPal button to WordPress, which I have now done to both my stories blog and here. I didn’t realise it, but you can either do one-off donations via PayPal or make a monthly donation.

So my question is: if you were going to donate to my work, would you rather use Patreon or PayPal? And if you were going to donate, would you rather do a one-off donation or a ‘subscription’ donation, if you had the choice? I ask because it occurred to me that in the 18 months that I’ve been on Patreon, I’ve never actually put that question to you. I’ve also only had one dollar in pledges, so clearly the site is not working out for me. Plus, the site might not work for anyone soon: Patreon is changing the way it collects processing charges, so although creators get a little more per transaction, patrons are being charged the processing fees on top of what they already pledge, which makes it more expensive to make lots of little pledges (this article explains the maths better than I can). I can’t in good faith ask you guys to pledge more than I would consider reasonable, and I don’t find the new system reasonable.

Patreon pledge changes graph explanation
from Patreon

Basically, you guys would be charged 2.9% and $0.35 per pledge, which makes a pledge of $1 cost more like $1.50. If you pledge $1 to 10 creators, you’re suddenly paying $15, not $10. Just read the article I can’t explain maths.

I wrote last week about how I need to find ways of making my writing work for me or stop doing it, and that includes this blog, so if you have any thoughts on whether you would/wouldn’t consider supporting me, let me know so I can make a decision going into the new year about where I focus my efforts.

Okay that potato is possibly burning.

Update: the potato didn’t burn! It was nice and crispy. Also, Patreon has announced it’s not rolling out those changes. I would still like to hear what you think about donating/pledging in general!

The Three Types of New Year’s Resolution

Gerard Way fist pump I'm Not Okay I Promise video by My Chemical Romance

I got a pitch email earlier from an SEO company saying ‘your Instagram is great and deserves to be seen by more than 186 people!’ I nearly replied with ‘actually that’s 185 people, get with the programme – some new bookstagram account followed me yesterday and has since disappeared back to the Instasphere. Thanks for the encouragement though!’

It’s funny that should happen today though, as I was already going to talk about goals and growth. 2017 is drawing to a close, thank god, and although 2018 will probably be another tyre fire of bullshit, I would like to start it off with good intentions. Case in point: new year’s resolutions. I didn’t have any last year, because I had already resolved to get the hell out of England and did so in the first week of January, but twelve months on I have the itch to resolve… something. I also know that I’m more likely to keep to the resolution if I talk about it publicly, so I thought I would talk about different types of resolutions and the things I’d like to do in 2018.

Resolution 1: The Vague Gesture

My resolution: learn to do my hair? A bit?

I think I may have mentioned my hair is sometimes-often-frequently partially purple. It’s also getting really long, because I enjoy the illusion that I’m a princess in a kingdom with favourable tax laws, but I do nothing to it. Literally nothing. I wash it twice a week, comb out the knots with a tangle teezer and tie it in a bun or ponytail if I’m working. Then I ignore it until it needs another wash. I read somewhere that the longer your hair is, the less you do with it and I want to call bullshit on that. I also want to channel Daenerys Targaryen wherever possible, so in 2018 I resolve to learn how to, like, braid my hair or something. That’s not a huge commitment, and if someone says ‘hey Francesca nice fishtail plait’ I’m going to know it’s working. It’s also not the end of the world if life gets in the way and I don’t learn a fishtail plait, because my hair looks great they way I wear it already (there’s a reason I never brush it dry and that reason is frizz).

So in theory, the Vague Gesture is a good resolution to have. There’s no pressure and I won’t feel bad if I get to June and realise I’ve forgotten it. I suppose a similar one would be something like ‘eat less processed sugar’, because instead of saying ‘eat no processed sugar’, there’s no line to cross, no crushing disappointment of one’s self esteem. It’s  something that would be nice to do in the long run but no one cares if you don’t do it, including you.

BELOW AVERAGE from The Perks of Being a Wallflower from taylorbtw.tumblr.com
from taylorbtw.tumblr.com (if I don’t use this gif once a year assume I’ve died)

Resolution 2: The SMART Goal

My resolution: Look after myself  better? Look after myself more? Practise self care a day a week until I achieve nirvana?

I looked at a bad website today – not bad as in broken links but bad as in the two thirds of the page was bright pink and white diagonal stripes. My eyes hurt. I’m not even going to link it, it was so hard to look at. Good for marketing, bad for retinas. Especially bad for retinas that already require glasses. And since I am heading into my 23rd year of life and already have to run a bath to get my bones to stop aching when it rains, it’s about time I sopped complaining about my ailments and found a form of exercise that wasn’t physiotherapy. It’s about time I got some sort of blue light blocker on my computer. It’s about time I stopped overriding the Freedom app to check Twitter at 10pm. My 185 followers clearly do not care if I am tweeting at 10pm, so I probably shouldn’t either.

The problem with the resolution to ‘look after myself better’ is that there’s no qualifier. How do I know if I’m looking after myself? I will never not need glasses and I’ll never not ache when it rains. Realistically I will need stronger glasses and more baths year on year. So maybe I should take a leaf out of every business blog’s book and set specific goals I can measure in an achievable, realistic time frame. Something like ‘I will download a blue light blocker to my PC by January and I will sign up to a running club that requires payment in advance because the only thing I hate more than running is wasting money.’ (I actually don’t hate running. I hate that feeling that I’m about to puke up my lungs while I run. Aren’t lungs supposed to keep calm and carry on in those situations?)

I’m going to sleep on the running club, but this type of resolution sounds like one of those you should set if you want to get to December and think ‘fuck yeah I want to high five myself for SMASHING IT’. I kind of think everyone deserves that ‘fuck yeah’ thought.

Gerard Way fist pump I'm Not Okay I Promise video by My Chemical Romance
look this came from Google all credit to G Way and Warner Bros

Resolution 3: The This Has to Work and I’m Going to Make it Work Come Hell or High Water

My resolution: earn more money from my work? Earn increased amounts of money? Don’t sell a kidney to support a hobby?

This is the hardest type of resolution, because it’s a mix of the other two. Saying ‘I want to earn more money’ could just be another way of saying ‘I earned some money this year and would like to continue earning next year’. Realistically I will; my stationery and accessories will still be for sale and I will still crowdfund my writing. There will be money! But I don’t just want to continue, I want to expand. I need to expand if I’m going to continue to justify putting time into both those things. I know the numbers I have to hit if I’m to continue publishing writing with no upfront fees (about $10 a month would cover my website expenses, and $30+ would cover some writing time contribute to my bills). I know I need to double my stationery sales – and grow those follower counts, damn it – to justify using prime space in my bedroom to store stock and to justify spending my evenings and weekends thinking up jokes about Greek gods.

I also can’t ask people for anything other than moral support, because most of the people I know – in real life and online – are as broke as I am. A short story or a funny print is a luxury and if people won’t buy or pledge, there’s nothing I can really do about it except plug away until they go up a wage packet or change their priorities. So going into 2018 I know that, if I don’t get more sales or pledges, I will be shutting up shop eventually – and that’s shutting my Etsy shop, my stories blog and possibly even this place because my spare time will only ever decrease and my bills will only ever increase. I’m not 14 anymore and I have to be pragmatic about where I put my energy – especially if I want to look after my health, because running a shop is eighty per cent adrenaline and twenty per cent pure relief when something goes right. There’s a reason most successful entrepreneurs retire early. They want to spend as much time as they can with their remaining nerves… There’s also reason most novelists have day jobs and eke out books on the weekend – statistically I am not playing a winning game.

So although my resolution is to make my work fucking work, I also know that ‘hell or high water’ will come in the form of a bill I can’t pay in my current status as an intern/freelancer/stationery designer/storyteller. Or in a final argument with one of my parents. Or when I finally decide to trade following what teenage me wanted for adult me and start following what other adults want for adult me.

That took a dark turn there, I didn’t actually mean for it to. I want to know about your resolutions! Tell me the ones you’ve succeeded in keeping, the ones you stopped caring about, the ones that didn’t make it past 1st January. Tell me what you want for 2018, what you don’t want for 2018. Tell me what you did in 2017. Other than swear at the news and drink a lot, presumably…

Happy Publication Day to My Story About Homicide and Garden Shears

Happy publication day to my latest story! It’s the third in the Everyday Acts of Murder series, Gardening, and I’m quietly excited because it’s the first one I ever worked on back in, I think, 2015. I have a sneaky feeling I had the inspiration for it when I was watching a gardening programme, so thanks, imagination…

I’ve planned two more EDAOM pieces, and then I’m going to move on to witches and/or mermaids and/or something else entirely. I keep finding old scraps of stories to improve, but some are a bit too scrappy. Occasionally I’ll find a line here and there that’s great, but I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking when I wrote it. I think I’ll make a rule that whenever I have a brainwave, I’ll transcribe my exact train of thought plus my ideas for the plot, main characters and language, form and structure. With a little date and perhaps a selfie.

One thing I can guarantee, of course, is that your name will be in whatever I publish if you’ve pledged a dollar to my Patreon. I know I keep banging on about it, but a) being given money in exchange for writing has been a substantial desire of mine since approximately 2008 and, b) I have bills that the money could really help pay for. Since I started that other driving-essential job, I’ve got two days free to write and work on my Etsy and whatever (today I also booked my mum a holiday and researched trains to Colchester I’m so versatile). I worked out that, according to the living wage and Google’s exchange rate, 740 people would have to pledge a dollar per month for those two days to equal a day’s work in a company, assuming the company paid the living wage. That’s before Patreon and PayPal take a cut, though, so let’s round it up to 800. I must say it wasn’t the most uplifting bit of maths I’ve ever done… I suppose 80 people could pledge $10. I think for now I will focus on writing good stories and trust that, in time, people will either fall in love with my work or take pity on me.

Tom & Jerry GIF (from Twitter)
This is it, this is the gif of the inside of my soul (from Twitter)

I’m going to go and actually write now (spoiler alert I think the next murder story’s going to be about walking the dog). If anyone has any concrete story ideas that may or may nor accommodate supernatural creatures, drop me a line…

Introducing: A New Stories Blog & Patreon Campaign

Friends, readers, randomers who came here through Google. Let’s talk jobs, writing and money. It’ll be more fun than it sounds.

Last week I got a rejection from a company I really wanted to work for, not because it’s relevant to my career plans but because the job was regular hours, good shifts and relatively well paid. Well, it paid. I’m on one, one-day-per-week internship at the moment, plus an informal one from home and I love it, but I have bills to pay and a mother breathing down my back because you left school three years ago and you haven’t done anything since then, so I’m looking for other work too. When I got that rejection I realised how much I’d been counting on it and how much I loathe job searching in general (you want to torture someone? Have them browse Indeed.co.uk every day for a week. They’ll crack). I’m still looking and early signs are positive, but in the mean time I need something creative to focus on (and preferably something that pays, let’s be honest) or I will go bananas.

I had another look at Patreon, because it’s always been the obvious choice for a writer to raise funds. If you’re not sure what Patreon is: it’s crowdfunding, but on a rolling basis. Instead of pledging, say, $30 once, you pledge $5 a month until you decide to cancel. Like a direct debit, but fun. It dawned on me that the something creative has been staring me in the face. I want to publish some stories and I want to earn some money and hang on a minute why don’t I combine the two?

So I’ve made a new blog, Francesca’s Words on WordPress, where I’m going to upload all the stories I’ve got lying around on a fortnightly basis. I’m really excited to show you all the little stories I’ve been poking around with in the last couple of years, and I can’t think why I haven’t done this sooner. I’m aiming for one upload per fortnight to see how I go, because some drafts need more work than others, but that may well increase to one per week. We’ll see!

Now for the money bit.

Patreon Francesca Burke

If you pledge a dollar per month to my Patreon (which ahem is two stories a month) you’ll get early access to every story and I’ll name a character after you. That’s just the one dollar tier. Depending on your reward tier, you can also suggest story prompts or themes, I’ll write you letters and your name will be in lights forever. Kind of. It’ll be in a blog sidebar. You’ll also have a warm, fuzzy feeling in your soul from directly funding a small, financially insecure writer. You can cancel your pledge at any time, I won’t buy a gold toilet seat with your cash – it would be diamante – and you will genuinely be helping me pay my bills (and if you’re wondering why I need more cash when I run a stationery business: I don’t take a wage from that yet. It’s #startuplife until 2019 at the earliest).

I’m still feeling this all out – it’s been a while since I wrote fiction to a deadline – but I’m tentatively excited. Is that an oxymoron? I’m tentatively hopeful. One of the best bits of my teenage years was uploading fanfictions to the web and seeing what people thought of them – I was a simple kid – and I miss that interaction. I miss writing and knowing people might actually read it. And since this is 2017 and we might all be nuked by Trump and/or North Korea before Christmas, I kind of feel I have nothing to lose by trying. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave a comment. The new blog is here and my Patreon, along with a full list of rewards and info, is here. Let me know what you think. Am I shouting into the void?

Upsides to the Falling Pound: £4.08 a Month Could Buy you a Dramatic Reading of this Very Sentence.

Good news!

updated-patreon-copy

I’ve really struggled to make my Patreon profile something that’s distinct from my other pages, and to think up rewards and goals that are fun for everyone. I don’t have any distinct reasons for having a Patreon at the moment; it used to be up there to fund research projects specifically or admin fees specifically but I realised I was probably overthinking things (this has been a theme in my life lately). So, as my life plans are no longer concrete and I’ve decided not to stress out about work any more – at least not to the point I used to, where I would have such high expectations for a blog post that a five thousand word essay wouldn’t cut it – my page is currently a tip jar. If you like my work, pledge a dollar. Cancel it the next month if you want to. I’m not sure what I’ll be making in the near future, but you’ll be helping me make it… especially if making that thing  requires an overpriced train ticket, overpriced printer ink or an overpriced evening class.

As I don’t have any particular plans, the goals section is now about you guys, which it should have been all along. If we reach five dollars a post I’ll do a dramatic reading of an old blog on the tubes; if we reach fifty I’ll read an old fan fiction. If it ever reaches a hundred I’ll make dramatic blog readings a thing indefinitely. I do not completely understand the ins and outs of the pound’s recent fall in value, but I do know that if you pledge today in sterling you could watch me read this out loud for less than the price of lunch at Costa Coffee.

It’s a no brainer, innit.

If you have any ideas for good rewards, let me know what you would entice you and I’ll see if I can add it in!