NaNo Triumphs! (by )

Jean aged 7 with her nanowrimo note book, Hello Kitty Necklace and head masters award sticker!

Today marks the end of a month of madness where me and Alaric attempted to write a novel each in a month. I broke the 70, 000 barrier and am on the last part of the novel, Alaric who was using it to get back into writing has about 16, 000 words - well short of the 50K you need to win but considering how hectic this month has been for him plus the leaking roof in his workshop/writing space this is an amazing achievement. We have raised a bit of money for charity in doing so and Jeany has produced her very own illustrated story, for which she has won a hello kitty writing necklace.

Jean's Note Book for NaNoWriMo and her Hello Kitty Writing Necklace

She was inspired by the note book which our friend Ulrike sent her and the story is called The Castle of Animals (which turns out to be a series but this is just the first story!). It is no where near as many words as she wrote last year but there was lots of behind the scenes stuff like character development and plot this time - her hand writing is not at it's best but this is a fun project and not school and she is going to be typing it up later on anyway so I decided not to push that one!

First page of The Castle of Animals

2nd page of The Castle of Animals

3rd page of The Castle of Animals

4th page of The Castle of Animals

Last Page of The Castle of Animals

Next year we are roping my dad in as well - he came to the Bristol write-in with me yesterday where he did a whole page of his satire that he's been writing and he is a slow writer and we were all chatting so this was an incredible feat for him! Of course he also managed to get friended by a very friendly drunk actor who was excited about the concept of writers which was really very funny 🙂

Friends and Homes (by )

Yesterday my friend visited - she is in her seventies, she bought loads of books and pretty trousers for Jeans and a teddy and dolly for Mary and for me purple, pink and white flowers. She reminds me of how proud I am of how I've set things up in this house - here they are at the dinning table.

Snell-Pym dinning room

The pink jacket Jean is wearing is from her too. I love our dinning area 🙂

Purple Flowers in Purple Vase Pink, purple and white flowers

I have loads of pics of improvements we've made which I really should post at some point. This time last year we were desperately waiting for the mortgage to go through after having negotiated a cheaper price. Alaric and Mary were ill with pnumonia and I was still using the crutches.

Things have changed for us drastically and even though the workshop has leaked and maybe ruined some of Alaric's tools things are still on the up. Over the next week or so he and my dad will make it safe for at least the winter, Monday he sealed some of the gaps in the bathroom and did some general mantinance things.

We have purple carpet on what was bare concret, with a purple setee from my family and purple curtains from my friend (same one who popped round today). We still haven't unpacked everything which is dreadful as we are approaching the 1 yr mark rapidly but at the same time I have just unpacked my Harry Potter lego which was still in the boxes we moved from Essex! They never got unpacked at The Bakery!

Mary Kusha and Tom Puss on the sofa

Last week we had my friend Becca visiting with her sister and little niece. This was something that wasn't really possible before as there was no were really to put anyone - oh we still had house guests but that had to be willing to sleep on the floor/sofa so was out for anyone with any sort of back problem!

Three Cheeky Monkeys

Three cuties Millie flaked whilst sisters snug The girls

(they bought astronaut icecream with them!)

Jean with her Space Ice Cream

Jean eating Space Ice Cream

We had a Baby Bake Off whilst Jean was at school!

The Baby Bake Off

Mary eating a cupcake

I love the fact that people can tell it's our house by the fact there is a purple butterfly on the house and the amazement that I did not put the butterflies and dolphins in the bathroom - they were already there!

Yes we have had to give up the idea of bees (urban bees would upset the neighbours), but plans for chickens are under way. Main limiting factor is money is going to be tight again in the new year 🙁 But we plan to make a list of what and when we are doing certain things to the house and garden at New Year 🙂

We love our house! Everything from the kitchen that lends itself to our epic cooking feats to the Hammond Organ we accidently bought! This was dinner yesterday - Jean wasn't impressed but it was yummy.

Hearty Winter Fayre

Fandom (by )

I have a couple of hundred fans, this is odd, it's weird in some cases and has already led a few years ago to issues that was quiet scary. I refused to meet up with someone as I felt they were being too fanatical and this resulted in a hate campaign against me. This was resolved mainly due to the behaviour being against the law.

This has not put me off of having fans as most of them are lovely and more so a lot of them have become friends in one form or another and with some of them the fandom is mutual. Add in social media and the fact I take part in various author/writers chats and I end up talking to C J Cherryh and Anne Rice and the like in recipricol conversations. The same goes for the science writers and artists and in some cases bands.

Now I have a mix on my various feds of people I know and people I don't but who's work I like - people I suppose I am a fan of. Mainly it is people I find inspiring or interesting. But I don't tend to follow the fashions as it were so I don't really know who is famous and who is not. I have countless stories of me turning down going for noodles with someone who was going of to have lunch with Nick Cave and of informing Cory Doctorow that his coat was really zippy and that I liked it. Al has tried to tell writers that I am a writer too and I have just shrugged and said things like, 'yeah but its only scifi and horror and a bit of poetry', and this years piece de la resistance turning down the chance to read my poetry out to a room full of important and famous people as I had Jean with me and she needed to be in bed early as she had a jujistu tournament the next day - with hind sight this are miss chances but I just don't really segment people in my head.

I am my own worst enermy and have even suffered the 'oh my god I have fans and they expect the same stuff from me all the time... I can't do that!' when I first found out people were reading this blog I struggled to continue and by people I don't mean our friends we'd told about it but all the others who had found us and found what we had to say interesting. And then I found the oppersite, the feeling that I was only writing to audience and that I could not be true to self as it might offend or bore or worse upset my mother. These were the demons of fandom as I saw it.

After the stalker incident I did worry and I stepped back a bit from public stuff both real life and electronic as I was realised that I feared becoming too famous (I know it's unlikely that that would happen and that it is probably arrogent to think that way but I am giving you my thought process here). How much did I want to be in the public eye etc... but I couldn't not write so I tried a psydonyme and that worked and got me back on track.

Part of me is always nervous of being 'fan-like' about people who's work I admire, having had the stalker, and others who hate my stuff and yet others who think everything I do is amazing and just stare at me waiting for me to say something. And then I realised that I am in this sort of bizar state of mind where the whole world is a sort of extended village for me. Social media has shrunk things but so has the activities I take part in in the physical world. I go and see my friends play and I tweet them to say I enjoyed it as I had to leave before the end of the concert to catch the train and then I go and see Gotye and do pretty much exactly the same thing.

I just find the concept of fans and fandom and fanfic and everything a bit strange even though I am part of it from two different sides.

Of course being shy means that I get as nervous over saying hello to the girl who had organised the charity performance I did Thursday night as I did when meeting members of the Royal Family.

This is something I puzzled over after the weekend as well, I get prizes for my art, I get them shown at International Conferences and so on and yet in a village that I lived in for 6 years... meh. It's like the issue of me being invited to read in Oxford and Bristol and so on and yet the towns near me.... I get completely over looked. Part of it is going to be that I am not main stream so I suppose that I am not in an area with enough population density to have people who appreciate my work.

It’s Christmas Time! (by )

Well ok not quiet yet but with two weddings to attend and the presents only half knitted I need to think Christmassy. Also I wanted to try and get all the hard graft for The Little Book of Festive Poetry sorted. I was going to leave the audio version until next year but I've built momentum on the project now and Jean loves it so much... and with the weekend disappointment I need to keep it going or I think I would just give it up.

So this morning I composed a song whilst baby snuggling and recorded whilst she napped. Here it is 🙂

The Little Books are going out there into the void of the internet and as physical objects to share but the reason they exist at all is for Jean and latter Mary once she appeared. I need to finish recording the poems, edit the story and record that and add some slay bells and then the album will be ready 🙂 I may even have a little looky at producing some merchandise for it via the bandcamp site (I think they do a POD type thing and my Cafe Press Shop).

The Little Books are covered more on Orange Monster which is my Childrens books and Illustrations blog.

Learning Experience (by )

So yesterday I did the village craft fayre all profits were for charity and yet it was the worst one I have ever done. It was slow - all of them are being slow at the moment but something else was going on, people were still buying the odd bit from the other stalls. Now I had Little Books of Poetry and art prints for sale rather than my normal stuff (which I'd given up as it wasn't selling) but it was not that change that was the issue, others were selling prints.

I watched the girl across from me sell pretty much all of her hare prints. They were lovely and she was lovely but I find that sort of thing boring especially since moving here to the Cotswolds as there are hare pictures EVERYWHERE. But people bought those. (And I bought some of her buttons as I loved the style she had done on them but the ones I liked were the ones that were left on her stall at the end).

People bought chutneys that I would never buy as I make my own and they bought ceramics and they bought fluffy hedgehogs from the hedgehog hospital stall but I sold one little book and that was to somebody who already had one. My science-art prints were looked on in horror by some with comments about them being creepy or scary. And then when asked what the actual pictures were done in I got sneers over 'fine liner' and as for my felt tip pictures such as Creativity and The Little Book illustrations... people kept asking if they were Jean's work.

Creativity, Science and Art equals Future Innovation

And yes I have imitated children's drawings for the The Little Books but not drawn them childishly. The cat in the christmas tree was harder to draw than my space montage. I didn't think I really cared about what people thought of my art anymore but having it thought of as something a child could do upset me - this is in contrast with the reaction I had at the Tate Modern to a book that entitled Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That. My objection to it was that it felt children could not think the deep thoughts behind the art and yet I know Jean can and she had already won prizes for art works by the time she was five - the issue is that she does not yet have the dexterity and refinement for the finished piece but the ideas, the concepts are there.

To be fair it was said by people who know Jean but still...

I would feel completely crushed except two things came out of this a) I came to the conclusion that I am not mainstream, I can do fine art I choose not to I have my own style and yes it is not most peoples thing, b) Kids picked up the Little Book and read them avidly - the target audience loves them but unfortunately they do not have the ability to buy things themselves it is the parents who need to do that. So now the problem is how to get them to buy rather than the style of the book being wrong. I also ended up letting kids colour in my trilobite prints that went wrong at the printers - these are just line art and it was a keep my kids occupied thing but Jean's friends kept coming and joining and in the end I ran out of them! This has given me the want to produce a colouring book.

I also met some amazing artists, only one of which had a website but I think they live next do to each other.

Cloth Figurines

I loved her camera man!

Camera Man

The other issue is that I need to make sure that people know the business cards are for taken as I had a number of people try to buy them! Go

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