Sunday, November 30, 2008

Alarmed Cats at Crystal Palace

So... I got to the bookshop and met these guys - aren't they lovely?? They look terrified for some reason. I was so impressed!

Bookseller Crow Cats

(here's a nicer photo - also includes my elbow)

Then I spent some time signing, and some time knitting (I made about half a new stripy Moonpie cat) and decided after a while to do less knitting and more signing because - as knitting will do - the place got a bit covered in wool and cups of tea and looked not very much like a signing table and I forgot about the customers for a while and just thought knitting thoughts. Note to self: people don't expect authours to be knitting when signing. Was a hit with some though, one small girl by the very good name of Aurora demanded I knit a row for her entertainment before she left, as advertised. - I think I perfected my author signature by the end of the day, this is the very last one:

signed book

don't try and forge cheques with that one, they'll think you've gone strange. My legal signature is just a weird scrawl... I think I might do a different one for every book now.

I think I'll return to Crystal Palace soon, when it's not raining, to look at the stone Dinosaurs and stroll around the other nice shops.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Off to Crystal Palace!

OK, just another post to remind people that I'll be signing books and knitting cats tomorrow midday at Bookseller Crow in Crystal Palace, hooray!

Otherwise - what a brilliant day! I rushed around a fair bit, to London Bridge to meet my friend Steph, who phoned her local bookseller in Cornwall and booked me a signing straight from the pub (so: mini seaside holiday afoot for me), and then on to lovely Herne Hill, which is (to my utter surprise) only a short bus-ride away from my home. Laura located the ideal writing cafe, and we had a Bloody Mary and half a pot of tea each while hacking away at our respective novels. I am so glad I know a good place to go to write and draw now! Whey-hey, brilliant day :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

NaNoWriMo day 27

It's almost the end of NaNoWriMo and although I only wrote a fifth of a novel, I think I finished plotting the whole thing more or less last night. I'm not completely sure in what way it ends (I know the ending, but no details), and at least one character might be dead - I'll have to actually write the thing to find out. I am pleased with it, and planning to get it done steadily and illustratedly.

Now I am looking for a nice place to go and write once or twice a week, some comfy pub in Southwark where they don't play loud music in the day, preferably, somewhere with nice soft gloomy benches... or a cafe with comfy armchairs... and where they don't kick you out if you just drink a pot of tea over two hours. And it needs to be well heated. And serve some sort of food if needs be.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I just inserted the first teeth into the mouth of the Morsicant.


I also bought a bed-tent, and put it up. Here it is.

bed tent

I wonder how it is that when we are small we get to have things like bed tents to hide out in, but when we grow up we're supposed to stop that sort of thing. Why? Because you're supposed to want a house really badly? And we might all end up happily living in a box each in one big house and collapse the economy? (Hey...hang on...) - I get unhappy if I can't sometimes sit under a table or in a cupboard. It helps me think. If a lot is going on in the world I sometimes don't notice that I am thinking the same thing over and over. It is very easy, for example, to see the world passing by through a train window and count up everything I don't like about somebody I haven't seen in years over and over again. But when nothing is going on at all, for example because I am inside a cupboard at the time,that sort of thing becomes excruciatingly and obviously boring.
If you get stuck writing a story at your table, I do recommend relocating to underneath it for a bit.
But I don't insist.


So yesterday afternoon I spent a long time at my local train station together with a growing crowd of people also wanting to go toward Croydon... it got colder, and darker, as we waited, and no one was wearing enough to be out past nightfall. I glanced around and saw that people's eyeballs seemed kind of milky and frosted as they looked at the railway clock ticking on. It was quiet. All the train announcement times crawled forward steadily, always a few minutes ahead of the clock, suggesting that trains were slowly overtaking each other somewhere just out of sight, trying to stop each other from getting to us, more trains joining the fray, it must be crawling with trains like centipedes somewhere around Battersea. They had gone wild and forgotten all their training and just bit each others tails in a frenzy, is my guess. Trust British Rail to put feral trains on the tracks without breaking them in properly. Eventually, they cancelled them all, dragging the whole knot off the track I suppose, and started counting minutes again.
A sudden hail storm came down, like someone had slit the bottom of a bag of peas in the sky, and the girl on sitting two seats away from me shivered so much it vibrated everyone on the bench.
And all at once I realised I didn't have to go to Croydon, because I lived only around the corner, and so I had my tickets refunded and bought a big jar of sauerkraut and cooked a thanksgiving meal for the natives. I am glad they are letting me live in their warm friendly house.

Today, I set out again, and I'll take a dummy book on the train, so if it gets stuck due to "weather" (no one ever expects weather, do they) I can at least do some work.

Monday, November 24, 2008


In November, I am mostly glum. I do that every year, so it's no cause for alarm, in fact no one who knows me worries or asks why I'm being quiet, it's November, that's why. I once got so sad in November that I thought I might drop dead of it, but I didn't, and ever since that I get sad on Bonfire Night and pretty much keep it up (or down) until St Nicholas' day. I take it as an opportunity to be nice to myself and buy lots of hot milky beverages and read adventure novels, and I don't expect my drawings to be great, neither. They are November-drawings, a bit wonky and miserable.
This November is actually surprisingly cheery... I think I am getting better at Novembers. I think it's because I have learned to indulge my gloomy self to a point where it's actually kind of happy, drinking milky spicy tea and thinking how amazing it would be if suddenly one of the people in the café would take their coat off and spread great wings and all the pigeons in the street would come and peck at the window, and then no one would need to worry about anything else for the day.
I also don't question ideas as much in November, like the notion that it would be a lot nicer to sleep in a tent. I tried it out with bedding sheets and it really is an improvement, so today I'll go and buy myself a tent that fits on my bed neatly. I don't see why only children get to have brilliant beds anyway, I would like to have one in the shape of a boat, with a ladder going up the side, and trunks full of books, and rigged with night-sky sails, but that wouldn't fit into the studio so well. Maybe one day.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Come to Crystal Palace, get yourself a book full of Cats - signed!

This is to announce that next Saturday, the 29th of November, I can be found at The Bookseller Crow, Crystal Palace, London. I'll turn up at eleven-ish and stay over lunchtime and see how it goes, and I will be drinking cups of tea, knitting a stripy Moonpie cat and signing any copies of "There are Cats in this Book" which you may care to purchase there and then. It's not quite a signing, more a presence. I'm told that there is also a Christmas Market going on in the area that day, so why not visit and do a bit of Christmas shopping?
You can also pick up a free cat knitting pattern, and if you add a few balls of wool to a signed book you'll have a fully interactive multimedia present!

They have already been busy knitting at the shop - just look at this superfurry Andre!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Definitely a Saturday

La de da doo dum dee da da da... da deee... dum da dooo... da da... don't bother holding the line, try calling back next week... doo doo...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Definitely a work day.

Back from a six hour session at the publishers', editing the dummy of my mostly finished book - with scissors and almost a full roll of scotch tape. Now some of it is utter nonsense and some is much improved... six hours of "Now it makes sense, but it's not funny", "Now it's funny, but it's got no emotional impact", "Awwww that's sweet, but it makes no sense"... and every half hour someone walking past saying "Oooh, I love that bit" about something that just got cut. - And that is just fine-tuning a basically finished fourth dummy of twelve spreads and less than one A4 page of text which already took months to write.
I am not complaining, I just kind of want to somehow bottle the way I feel right now up in a pretty flask and offer a swig to the next person who asks me why I don't work seven days a week ("it's not like it's a job - it's a privilege!"), or why I don't work on more than two books at a time ("Hey, I got a few great ideas you can use!") - I love this job, but it sure is a job.

Anyway, all lookin' good, two or three more days like this and we'll have it ready to be inked in!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Busy Day

I got up early and did some morning knitting and shopping, and because everything was bright and beautiful I bought tastier food than I normally do. I also made momentous decisions, as you do, firstly to stop putting concealer under my eyes every day - I mean, if I only had dark circles now and then, okay, but since they are there all the time they are actually part of my face, so people can get used to them. Secondly... secondly I already forgot. I hope I already did whatever it was.

I knitted the gums of the Morsicant puppet and started on the lips, and it is nice and snappy already. And then I really got going on my paid work... I have almost finished a new rough dummy, actually the old dummy photocopied and changed around with scotch tape and torn paper and scrawls. I think when I deliver it to the publisher I'll add a bag of sweets and a note of apology to the poor person who needs to scan it. There will be a meeting inbetween so I expect it will get covered in even more layers of scrawls and tape.
More to do now, still a few spreads left, and for a change there are materials for cheese and pickle sandwiches in the house...

Oh, and I also added a sound to my web page, just because I happened to record it and it sounds pretty much like my thoughts when I'm drawing stuff.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I gave my first magazine interview today, to a knitting magazine... I had to dig around in primary school memories a fair bit to answer the questions, and I told them about the final project I had to do: a teddy bear. Actually there were two, a crocheted one and a knitted one. The crocheted one I managed to make myself (pretty much - my mother made the face and one of the arms) and was very proud. The knitted one was a different story. (I recommend to anyone to learn crocheting before knitting - you just need one hook and don't need to worry about dropped stitches!)
Anyway, my mum tidied the attic today and found this guy.

And I thought I'd lost him twenty years ago!

Vegetable Music

I don't know why I haven't come across this guy before, but I tell you it is quite important that you have a look.
Might also be a way of getting your kids interested in vegetables, in case they're not.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday: more wool and more foxes.

I think it's actually a novel-writing day today, hooray! I've would the wool I bought yesterday into neat balls and started crocheting the inside of the mouth of the Morsicant last night:

It'll look better with gums and teeth.

Today is nice and grey and I have (I think) worked out the plot now, so why not produce some wordage about foxes...

And I just read the weekend paper and noticed that there will be Lucha Libre in London. Now I am rallying the whole household to come along to the show... they do a Sunday family matinee, if I book that I might even be able to see over the crowd! Whee!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Very Odd

Hm: Strange afternoon I had. I got stuck in cross-town tube refurbishment traffic fuss and decided to take a break and do some research for my novel when I'd finally managed to cross the river and found myself at St Paul's Cathedral. The thing is, I had plans to end the novel there, but the plot hinged on the question: could a fox easily get into St Paul's cathedral in the middle of the day? And: WHY would it do that? - So I went to check if the doors were ever kept open (maybe for Christmas?) and what the place was like close-up and from the inside anyway. I looked at all the statues and the whispering gallery and the view from the dome and the crypt (where to my surprise I came across William Blake, which was nice, I didn't know they kept him there) and all that time I imagined being a fox and how I would feel about the place. I couldn't quite work out what a fox would ever want there, but it did still seem right somehow.
On my way out, I visited the gift shop. And the first thing I spotted was a shelf full of toy foxes. What was that about? Well, apparently - that was about "Herod", an urban fox who snook into St. Paul's ten years ago and happily lived there for a week. He's kind of their mascot now, it seems. "Ah," I said to myself and the shelf of stuffed toy foxes. "That answers that, then."
I did feel a bit like someone had re-programmed the universe to catch me out, but then I often do. So, tick - novel ends in St Paul's Cathedral. Real foxes agree.

Haberdashing off to the city

Aaaah, Saturday!
Time for me to get a travelcard and join the teeming masses. There's a few exhibitions I want to see (if they're not too packed today) and I need to get toy stuffing and some balls of wool to make a Morsicant for an exhibition. The main thing to be illustrated (or suggested) with this piece is a "sensation of repeated biting".

Morsicant Sketch

As you can see, I am still inspired to crochet smiley animals with round eyed masks...
He will have a big mouth with crocheted teeth which when closed slot into gaps in his gums, so that the teeth disappear completely and are surprising when they appear again. And otherwise he'll look like a friendly stripy monkey. That's the plan, anyhow. Then I just need to work out how to present him as a work of art - it would be nice if people could be bitten by him but that'll be a bit too much excitement in a gallery situation I think, so I might just have a photoshoot to demonstrate, or do some sketches...

And guess what, I just checked my work box for toy eyes (which I sometimes buy when I see them and then forget about them completely) and found these:

owl eyes


Friday, November 14, 2008

Ray "Steel Wool" Merino

Ooh! Eric has just posted some pictures of Ray in action... Look here!

I'm glad he arrived well - quite a journey, all the way to Canada, I was worried about him.
It's been ages since I've been inspired to knit (or crochet) a beastie, but there's something about nice people having babies that seems to trigger it!

I think I want to crochet more. Maybe I can make some toys for some gallery exhibitions I'm supposed to make things for... I hope they'll let me, maybe if I do drawings to go with them!

Friday Morning

Hm. Might need two coffees today.
But got a lovely mail from Eric in Canada, I sent him a sheep I crocheted for his baby in a burst of sheep crocheting inspiration and he arrived in one piece... my friend Matthew (who knows these things) says I should make a pattern section on my site for toys, but I don't know how to write crocheting patterns... I'll try and find out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Milky Coffee

coffee foam

That's the surface of the latte I had yesterday when I decided to not tidy up the studio but go and take my work somewhere else, because I figured I'd never get it done else. I might do the same again today... I love my studio but when I really need to get a lot done in a short time, running off to a cafe is much preferable because at home I get nervous about not getting things done and start tidying and looking for food... in a cafe, people buzz around wiping the tables clean and then offer me food. Ideal. And I get to scatter the milk-foam with sugar and wait for it to cool down, which is a very humane sort of a warm-up phase for work I think, much better than rushing around clearing work surfaces.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Wowweewow! Walker Books has put the official knitting patterns for Moonpie, Tiny and Andre online, so if you like the book you can accessorize it with your own cuddly cat friends now!
And remember, if you do, send me a photo of them lounging about in your home town, and it'll make my day.

Fun fun fun at the palace...

So I had a nice evening... I was invited to Kensington Palace (the bit at the back that houses the Princes' Trust, anyway) or at least I thought so until I arrived with my passport and all and wasn't on the guest list. But they kindly didn't throw me out into the chilling night, but let me in and gave me some champagne, the good people! I was very grateful to warm up because I had been out and about in London for hours, with an hour's break at a particularly nice grubby pub where I almost finished plotting the fox novel and amused myself matching Hollywood actors to characters I'd made up (it's free and easy entertainment, that).
I got to say hello to some authors and illustrators I'd only knew by name before, which was fun, and I had nice people coming over saying they liked my book even though I didn't have a name tag, which was surprising and joyous. And I wore my gran's necklace that I inherited some time ago, because I thought she would have liked me to wear it to a palace do.

And now I must spend all day preparing for a meeting on Friday, because I have about a week's work still to do on that...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I just got today's post and a phone call from my sister simultaneously. In the phone call, my sister told me that my nephews really want the latest wrestling video game but are absolutely getting something more wholesome. In the post, I got a five disc DVD box of "The Legend of Tiger Mask", and "AAA when Worlds collide". I think it is a good thing in a way that I live in a different country from these guys, else we'd all be bouncing around like lunatics shouting "I think I'm cute! I know I'm sexy! I got the Looks! That drive the girls WILD! I got the moves! That really move them..." I mean, not on purpose, I just enjoy doing the washing up more when I can pretend to be Shawn Michaels at the same time. It probably is unhealthy.

So now I have to run off to a day packed with strange PR activities, hooray! I got the moves, that really... er, sorry. See ya!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Videogames make me a better person

You know how they always say videogames teach you bad stuff?
I just went to the local supermarket to get a packet of loo roll. I wanted recycled, but as cheap as possible, but they'd gone and stacked that on the top of the high shelf, and two packets high. I could just reach the lower edge of the bottom packet (am quite short and get this a lot). I stopped to think, and noticed that there was a little old lady standing next to me who had exactly the same facial expression as me, which made me think she probably had the same problem (already a strange thought).
What happened then I can only put down to having played "Little Big Planet" on the PS3 a lot for the last three days.
I kind of bounced up, grabbed the low packet, caught them both as they came down, and handed one to the old lady.
She laughed and said "That was great! Thank you!"
I walked off to get some vegetables and thought: That was so not what I would have done if I'd thought about it for a moment.

Events again

I just tried on my proper dress, to see if it still fits around the arms - it does, goodie! I've got a big book launch to go to tomorrow, and as usual I'm wondering if I need to cut my hair or anything. I think I do... but I won't think too much about it, because every event I go to I end up looking loopy anyway. I'm no good with smart clothes... I can see they look nice, but so do naked people, and you don't see them gallivanting about at book launches much.

I also just got a mail about an upcoming exhibition where I'll get to illustrate a word that's disappearing from the English language - they sent me a list, and I got my first choice, "Morsicant", which means "the sensation of repeated biting". I have a slight feeling that this is a word still well used by the medical profession, but anyway, I am looking forward to illustrating it... if they let me, I'll make a sculpture, just because it's such a good opportunity not to have to work in 2D for printing. If I do have to draw an illustration I am slightly miffed that I didn't pick "Filipendulous" instead, which means "hanging from one thread".

Otherwise, the novel is shaping up well, I'll do an hour or so of plotting over lunch... I'm just working on a classic villain bit where someone makes a big show of sending out a message to prove their integrity, and then secretly kill the messenger. The main bit is where in the story it would be most useful to reveal the corpse - as a big shock effect before everyone has realised the guy's a villain, or right towards the end when we already know and it's more of a chilling detail? I'm trying not to kill of too many characters this time, so the ones that do die can do so to greater effect. - I'm hoping to get the plot in place in the next couple of days so I can actually write some more scenes...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Small Creature

This seems to be what my doodles default to most of the time... small animals who are a bit surprised that nothing has fallen on their head quite yet. What that says about me I do not know.

I make that one of the six inconsequential things I've been tagged to blog by Anne. The rules are:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules.
3. Tell six quirky yet boring, unspectacular details about yourself.
4. Tag six other bloggers by linking to them.
5. Go to each person's blog and leave a comment that lets them know they've been tagged.
I've not worked out who to tag with it yet because I think everyone I can think of has been tagged already, that's maths for you I guess, what with it trying to multiply by six every iteration... but maybe I can do that later and link back here.

Anyway, here you go.
1) when I doodle I always default to drawing small creatures who look like they are worried about the sky in some way.
2) I love watching old wrestling videos, from before everyone started bleeding all over the place at every match. I would really love to be a big guy sometimes and go RAAAAAH and grab some other big guy and throw him right over my head. Just, you know, for a few minutes, now and then.
3) I don't like saying people's names. I never have, for some reason. Sometimes people notice and quote that "How to make Friends and Influence People" book at me with some nonsense about how a person's name is the sweetest sound known to them or something. I think it's more like a doorbell embedded in your head, personally, and it seems odd to keep ringing it when they're right there already.
4) I don't play games or argue for fun. I sometimes try but I am totally hopeless, if I feel like someone wants to win I kind of want them to win, too.
5) My favourite line in any film ever is "Dinner's over, worm dude", as delivered by Bill when he comes back to life in "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey". He says it in such a friendly way... I hope that's what I'll feel like when I die one day, like "Dinner's ready, Worm Dudes!"
6) I can eat a Chomp chocolate bar sideways without breaking it. Actually, that's a lie. I used to when they were 10 pence, now that they are 15 pence I have to bend them a bit.

NaNoWriMo, day 9

Okay. I've ditched the word count, and the world is suddenly a brighter place, and I am excited about the novel again. Here's my plan for the rest of the month: I will work on the book every day, but it doesn't matter if I draw maps, write words or just make notes. My aim is to have the thing worked out as a rough draft by the end of the month so well that - in the words of my illustration teacher at college - "someone else could draw it". - Since being introduced to the concept of writing a novel by writing a lot every day until it's written, I've written two big novel drafts, and I've failed to carve anything I liked out of either. I just don't think it's how my brain works... I like to think about patterns, and I like tightly plotted stories. That's why I am writing picture books, for goodness' sake, that's what I do, take something that's very much plotted and make it seem inevitable. If I let my brain run free and just write, all I ever write about is tasty food. My cunning villains are as disorganised as myself, and my heroes are always taking time off for a snack and a stroll round the block and maybe a nap. I'm just writing what I'd rather be doing myself instead of writing.
You wouldn't believe how much tasty food I've already crammed in these 10.000 words...

Mind you, I've come up with characters and ideas that were completely unexpected (some of them about interesting food, but not all), and that's due to just writing without thinking too much, but I have reached the point where there's enough ideas and enough characters and I want to close the door and make a book now.

Okay, off to do some plotting :) Really looking forward to it for a change!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

NaNoWriMo day 8 (evening)

I dragged myself over the 10.000 words mark today - I was utterly stuck on an utterly dull stretch of novel, I could hardly believe how dull it was. I mean, I have all these things piling up in my head that will happen later, but they just don't happen yet. And somehow there seemed to be endless potential for the characters to do hardly anything at all, which seemed very life-like to me, which in turn started to make me question what I am doing with my life. As it is, I am spending my days doing pretty much nothing except writing a novel, trying in vain to get to the exciting parts, so in a way it's not to surprising that nothing happens in the novel neither except everyone somewhat vaguely expecting exciting things to happen.
It's a dreadful state of affairs, which I decided to get out of by writing something much like this:
Then some more boring stuff happened, which they didn't mind because life was kind of going on in ways they mostly enjoyed, and in fact it was all kind of a calm before the storm thing which they did not at all realise was foreshadowing great events that had not as yet transpired, so they didn't even know which bits of their blissfully boring existence were foreshadowing anything at all.
Until one night, when Pebble heard desperate screaming coming from all over the place, which was totally unexpected. Something dreadful must have happened very suddenly.

Then I wrote who was screaming and why, and when I felt the dreadful drudge coming on again I switched to italics and wrote a short account of the very exciting stuff that's going to happen next, and I intend to turn those italics into some half decent writing tomorrow and then end up with more exciting italics for the next day, and so on, and if it all is just exciting stuff, doesn't hang together and ends after 30.000 words then I'll go back and write more boring stuff between the lines.

NaNoWriMo day 8

I knew this would happen. My non-competitive streak is telling me that there is no point in trying to write 50.000 words in a month to get a little thing that says "winner" from an internet robot instead of just writing a novel in whatever time it takes, and in however many words. The rest of me is telling my non-competitive streak that this isn't a competition, even if they offer to give us a little thing that says "winner" (which we don't have to take if it makes us feel tricked). It's just a neat way of motivating ourselves to get some writing done and pretending that it'll all be over in the foreseeable future (December). It's kind of like exercise, where you do so and so many repetitions. And remember the time when we spent years writing that mad novel about rats that was the weight of a large brick in the end. It's actually veeeeeeery sensible to aim to get it over with in a month.
"Argh," it says. "I hate exercise."
"It's not a perfect world," says the rest of me. "Let's do the next 3000, you're allowed to do an improvised dream sequence if we get stuck."
"Ok then."

Friday, November 7, 2008

NaNoWriMo day 7 (morning)

So! Yesterday I took a break from Novel-writing, because the day before I allowed myself to be tricked by the word-count widget into writing so much I felt ill. I just kept going back and logging more all through the day, didn't listen to anything anybody said and by the end of the day almost walked into walls, I was so tired out. And all just because the little square of the word-count widget had gone bright red for that day, and was refusing to change colour however much I added. - I think it might be running on the wrong time zone or something. So I'LL get rid of that and calculate my own aims for now - I'll just see how many more words I need to write, then I'll count how many days are left, take away one day a week to have a break from it, and calculate the required total-per-writing-day from that... and magically, it's exactly 2000 words per day. Hah. That is neat.

What I did do yesterday is play "Little Big Planet", the new PS3 platforming/world-building game, and it truly is as lovely as they say. It took me right back to childhood memories of changing the attic into a ghost-ride with my friends, with cardboard ghosts and teddybear monsters on strings. It's wonderful. Just before midnight I made a huge sheep out of sponge, painted it white and climbed all over it, shouting "HA HA I defeat you, giant sheep" until Alexis told me I might want to get out of his room and let him sleep maybe.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

NaNoWriMo day 6 (what??? Already?!?)

I haven't written a word today. And since 'Little Big Planet' arrived in the post this morning, I am not completely sure I will...

Stone Foxes

Hello my native English speaking friends... can you help me out with something here? I have started to google some of the made-up expressions I am using liberally in the book I'm writing, and as expected things that sound interesting mean all the wrong things already.
Now the main thing is: would you say that "Stone Fox" these days primarily means
- A very foxy lady
- The title of a classic kids' novel (and film)
- Sounds like a native Indian sort of name to me
- Oh my Goodness! That's so RUDE! I'll tell you in an email, don't for goodness sake use that expression ever!

And also, if I use the expression "The Promised City" in a Fantasy context, will I unwittingly be talking about New York, Jerusalem or some other specific place and annoy a whole lot of people without meaning to?

Thanks... I just want to know if I have to change these early on, and if I can use "Pebble Stone Fox" as a working title...

More Foxes

Hm yes, a whole lot of foxes expected today again... I haven't quite worked out when to do the writing today, there's all sorts of other things to be done. I guess the good thing is that I can think about what to write while I'm running errands...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Publisher's Weekly

Well, this is mostly for my Mum & Dad: if you scroll down a lot on the Publisher's Weekly Best Books List, to the Picture Books section, you'll see my very Cats-In-This-Book! And yes, that's pretty good!
And anyway, and I forgot to say because I was stuck head-down in this November novel: it's out! It's out! Oh yeah!
There's supposed to still be a proper launch of sorts, so I'll make a bigger noise about it when that happens.
But you can buy it now and have it tomorrow! Whey-heyy!

I'm going to go out and buy some chocolate on that.

NaNoWRiMo day 5

Nothing to be said about day five, except that I somehow pootled through another wodge of words. Feeling a bit lazy about it, I even just described a possibly important scene that I could have written in lots of words because I thought it would just slow stuff down to spend time there if it turns out that it wasn't important after all... and I can always go back and extend it later. I think if I get to do a second draft eventually I'll know what should be happening in all these scenes I'm writing where characters are just faffing about on their way to the next big event that somehow shouldn't happen quite yet, but I'll make it happen tomorrow because that's been enough faffing. It's hard not to write too much faffing, since that's what seems to take up most time and space in real life. Anyway, first session that didn't turn up anything interesting at all (I think). Pah.

Long Night

Rrr. I am propping my eyes up with coffee spoons. I ended up going to bed at midnight after doing some late-night work on the new picture book, and then kept the radio turned on and listened to America. I was still very worried that it would turn out that in the end, that there might still too many places where people would just not even consider Obama as an option. I thought of the silly casual racism I remembered from growing up in a part of Germany where back then black people were still stared at by small white children in the street. I was thinking how brilliant it would be if small children of any colour anywhere in the world would see a black man running America. - I fell asleep at some point and when I woke up in the very early morning the radio was still on, and Obama was talking...
Well, I am happy. Thanks for voting, you guys over there :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

For goodness sake... NaNoWroiMo day 4!

And how many words do I have? Not even 5000! This is going to be a late night, I can tell. I completely overslept, mostly because somehow I slept pretty well for a change. Normally I wake up some time after midnight with a start, from some sort of terrifying nightmare that I can't remember at all but to do with having forgotten to do something important, and then I can't sleep for some hours, and then I fall asleep and have completely mad exhausting dreams until the morning. Every night, no matter what I eat or do or drink or whether I exercise or read. But last night I actually more or less just slept. No idea why. In the morning I figured I better stock up on sleep while it's on offer, and so now I missed my morning writing time, and had to go to town and back, the sun is down already, and I really want to get some paneling done for the new picture book... luckily I was thinking about the novel on the train, and so I think I might be able to put down a thousand words and then do the rest of todays' work in front of a movie on the sofa. And I still don't know at all if this novel is any good, but I know I am writing something enjoyable (to me) every five hundred words or so, and that can't be bad.
I think I might do a time-warp and remember what I was like when I was still in school - staying up most nights with a big put of tea on a stove and writing or drawing or making stuff until three or four or six, because I knew I couldn't sleep anyway, and that way I felt that when I fell asleep in class the next day at least it was for a good reason. These days, I almost enjoy sleepless nights. The ones I hate are the ones when I am almost asleep, or just dreaming and waking up going GAH! and dreaming again, and it feels like I imagine a bad office job.

By the way, I've been listening to the latest Emiliana Torrini album for days now, it's great! I'd been meaning to get it, but never got to the record shop, and I wasn't sure I'd like it... well now I got it, and I'm glad!

Argh, ok, switching on the writing machine...

Monday, November 3, 2008



Doodled these two guys in-between things. Otherwise, drew a selection of suitcases. Tomorrow, I'll draw washing-machines. Strangely, it's all paid work.

NaNoWRiMo day 3 (still)

Just hit 4000 words. More unexpected things are happening, and I did go back to edit this and that, but I also left in a not very successful scene written from a different perspective because it might come in handy later. Seems I might be sticking with the same character all through after all, which is unusual for me. I like switching view-points, but this time it just seems likely to cause confusion.
Here's a few sentences or so for you:

The wailing rose again. “Is this it?” Pebble whispered, although she knew it wasn't the call, but she didn't know what else it meant, and it frightened her.
“No, this isn't it, stupid.” Tarmac licked his nose nervously. “They are still making prayers, so that the stone people will... so that they will have a look.”
Pebble curled up more tightly, because she was thinking about what the stone people would look at. They would look at her tonight. She was secretly hoping that they would not listen, and stay asleep tonight. The wailing rose into a shrill choir, and it seemed to come from all corners of the sacred yard now. The stone people would have to be deaf or in a very bad mood about something not to hear it.
“Are they sacrificing?” she asked.
“What?? Where did you even get that word from again?”
“Dunno,” Pebble said. “Someone said they would be sacrificing. What's sacrificing?”
“They are not sacrificing,” said Tarmac.

I really wish I had time to edit some of the repetitions and stuff, it irks me even to see it here, all that raising wailing and stuff. Gnnnnnnh! Ignore. Ignore. Keep writing.
Anyway, I have to stop for now and actually do some contracted work, painting some cats with suitcases, to be precise.

NaNoWriMo morning day 3

I actually had some fairly decent sleep last night, which was amazing... until suddenly there was this mighty crash and I woke up in the dark and couldn't fall asleep again, and then the flashing lights were on my shutters, and I did take a look and saw that someone had crashed into the side of a delivery van and split it right open. It's an accient-prone corner, this, and by now I don't wake up thinking WHAT??? any more, but "That sounded like a bin in the road again" or "uh oh, someone got the street-light", and most of the time "Phew, didn't hit the house".
Anyway, it was six in the morning, and I couldn't really sleep very much more, and so now I am NaNoWRiMo-writing already. Just logged last night's words, and noticed they have this widget:

where I can check (or show off) how well I did every day in the month, hah, funny. Except at the moment it is just plain lying.

Anyway, back to writing more words now.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

NaNoWRiMo day two

I just went past the 2000 word mark on my NaNoWriMo novel... I am pleased how it's coming on, mostly, but it's hard to make myself write a certain number of words like this without going back and trimming it down every few paragraphs. I normally check over what I have written at the end of the day and chuck out a lot of adjectives and sentences that made sense at the time of writing but have already become obscure, and I often decide to throw out a whole scene halfway through if it won't get going. I don't like the idea of a whole wodge of wordiness growing under my hands day by day... but there's no way I can get 50000 words written in a month if I keep hacking bits out all the time. It's tempting to just mark the rubbish ones out somehow and count them in, but I guess I'll have to trust myself that I can edit it all in the end... maybe that's partly the point of this exercise.
Anyway, due to this restraint I feel like the story isn't moving on at all, but that it's just endless exposition so far and could be done in a couple of sentences. But maybe that's not true... and maybe it doesn't matter at all. Who cares if my 50000 word novel will shrink to a short story eventually?
Oh, it's not easy though! Every thought that comes along now wants writing down to make up the day's word count... on the other hand, thoughts come in fast, for later parts of the story mostly.
Anyway, I'll try and do a few hundred more now before dinner.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I hollowed out the pumpkin, and then I found I was creatively worn out for the day.
Luckily Alexia visited and carved it for me.
We ate roast vegetables with green tomato chutney, and a bottle of red wine, and then she had to leave, but we decided she should accessorise with the pumpkin because it would have been a shame not to carry it through London at night.


And today it is the first of November, and I actually have to start a new novel right now and write over a thousand words, and I am not at all sure where it all starts, although I know where it ends. I'll just start somewhere green, I think.