Feathered Horde & Random Rambles

Eish!

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After my most epic online absence ever, all I can say really is, Eish! It’s been a little nuts. I live on a game farm now, way out in the bush, and the start of the rainy season brought a few not so pleasant surprises internet-wise. This is a beautiful, huge and rambling place, accessed via quite a long stretch of really bad sand road, which becomes pretty much impossible to drive on when wet, even with an SUV such as I have. The internet hub is situated in the main office, which isn’t a problem at all for me, except that in the past few weeks we’ve had power outages, the most horrendous computer malware attack, and an electrical short which knobbled us all until the electrician could wend his way here. The cherry on the top was that I got a little slack and stopped neurotically inspecting everything I eat and got royally glutened. Very sick puppy I was. Still far from a hundred percent as far as the poor old innards are concerned.

Happily though, I’m still kicking, and the power short/malware/internet/soggy road have all been overcome now. Before all of this rotten divil nonsense struck we had a rhino capture here, which was absolutely amazing (will share pics and proper story about that later), however, there was a documentary filmmaker along with the road crew who (I kid you not) made off with my laptop charger, and it took weeks before I could lay my hands on a new one. In the meantime I wasn’t too perturbed because my friend and owner of this paradise said that I could use her computer in the office. Not a problem then. All I had to do was transfer anything I needed to email by memory stick from my desktop in my chalet to that and tra-la-la. However, and without any delay at all— Enter malware attack and— Celiac attack— Well. You get the picture.

Lately the rain has meant that the cellphone signal has been zero, so VERY few emails have been got to. It’s clearing now and all is fabulous again. I’ll get to all your emails but will take a while, so if there’s anything I need to see now please zoom over a fresh email and I’ll get right on it. So, with all the devilish attempts to foil my scribbling career now properly squished, I shall attempt to move on with some small degree of decorum.

I’m incredibly grateful though. It’s been a pretty rough year—the roughest in my life so far. Terrifying and challenging, and a good couple of times it was very tempting to run and hide, and give up trying in general. I’ve had the most amazing love and support from my friends, who are all angels straight from Heaven in my book, and I reckon that now the worst is over. I could NEVER have done it without you guys. I’m also so grateful for the support of “my” authors who have given me the privilege of working on their books, thereby showing me the way forward, work-wise. Thanks for your support and patience during the growing pains.

I’m hoping to stay right here right through Christmas and in to next year, which I’m hoping will be epic for all of us, only in really good ways. Once I’ve made head or tail of my turgid inbox and appeased anyone who wants me drawn and quartered for my super long absence, I’m planning on getting a little festive in general. Festive and bookish again, with a bit of luck. Please give me reminders of anything I’ve missed of yours for sharing or generally catching up.

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Gimme Dat, Gimme Dat Tomato

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Meet Sheldon, the guy formerly known as “EEEK BIG SCARY LIZARD – RUN AWAYYY!!!” Turns out he’s just a sweet fellow looking for friends, if a little needy.

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His favourite things to eat turn out to be tomatoes, and not me. When I first arrived he would be there, outside, when I opened the door. I wasn’t a fan until my friend Leana, who owns this magical farm, told me that they’re harmless even though large. So now he heads over for munchies regularly and I think he’s pretty cool. Sheldon – needy – hangs around at doors – see what I did there? Always been a fan of most lizards.

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Not this guy so much! He fell THROUGH the thatch roof. Luckily he didn’t land on anyone. He’s just a constrictor – not venomous, but snakes are best avoided in general I reckon.

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It’s taken me ages to settle down. This year has been pretty crazy, and all my attempts so far at getting back to regular blogging have failed dismally. It’s been busy lately too, but in good ways, and finally slowing down to mild panic rather than insane terror, so I’m hopeful. I’ve started writing fiction again after almost a year of not being able to tackle anything other than non-fiction. I’m going to wait till December/January before I publish anything, even though I do have a couple of things ready to go. The next few months is just going to be about remembering to breathe again, and catching up. Or rather looking ahead, because everything is new now.

The feathered horde have made it through unscathed, if a little ruffled at times. They really didn’t like the big move at all, but are happy little bunnies again. Lots of new places to get into and hang upside down on.

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I’ve been flat out catching up with work, so I haven’t been able to explore outside at all yet, but I’ve got a couple of pics of things happening around and about directly outside my window – shot through the window panes so don’t expect fabulous photography with these ones. I’m looking forward to slowing down now, and taking it all in after the wild ride that this year has been. Where I live now is about as close to paradise for me can get. Lots of horizon to look at, and filled with fabulous critters again.

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The little fellow above is called a Dassie. There are loads of them zooming around the rocks all day long. Apparently their closest relative is the elephant. More to come on them though – I reckon they have agendas.

Very Quick Quickie

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I’ll be back to happy blogland right now. The last couple of weeks have been fabulously insane, but now over. The not so fabulous included a collapsing desk while moving, and huge delay getting my desktop back together again, having my hugest gluten attack ever – really – forearms looked just like chopped liver for a while there, and so on and so on. HUGE APOLOGIES FOR BLOG ABSENCE LAST WEEK! Sorry guys – will catch up with all. All of this fades to pale in the face of the actual fabulousness though.

I’m living on a farm again now – not just any farm though. There are the most awesome critters all over the place, and although I’ve already taken a couple of pics with my phone, I’m not organised enough yet to post, but will do in the next few days. It’s all a bit surreal and idyllic after the insanity of the past year. Suffice it to say, I’m a very, very happy bunny again, and looking forward to life in general.

I’ve got to get caught up a little with my awesome scribblers, but I’ve most certainly got my old zoom back now, so all is great. Phew – looking forward to seeing all the blog news again finally. Lots of amazing pics to follow shortly!

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Colouring Isn’t for Dummies

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Considering how popular adult colouring has become, I’m a bit disappointed that there isn’t any obvious comment thread that I can see on the good old Telegraph article denouncing it – or rather seemingly denouncing the people who partake in it. I really hope that reading it doesn’t make anyone feel bad about their chosen way to relieve their stress. Any kind of shaming sucks I reckon, and telling the thousands of people who love colouring to “Grow up yer big babies and draw yer own pictures!” isn’t very nice. Maybe people don’t want to colour their own pictures. Maybe having to draw their own pictures will stress them out.

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She’s right about the way that many people live their lives. It’s hectic being alive in this age, for everyone mostly, but I think that when it comes to what we do in our own time, for enjoyment or to relax, is nobody’s business but our own. And honestly, if originality is key to being an “adult”, then when you do partake of the suggested allowed for adult fun activities like sewing, cooking, singing and so on, then you’d better be singing your own original songs and making totally original food. Personally speaking, my singing is to be feared by anyone with ears and I can’t really rhyme to save my life. I don’t always want to be making up brand new recipes and designing new things to sew.

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There’s comfort in what’s known. Old recipes, knitting patterns, and the remembered comfort in colouring in a lovely shape. Life’s tough enough without feeling the need to shame people who enjoy such an innocent pastime over reading Dostoevsky, learning to recite the Russian alphabet, or some such highbrow pursuit. I don’t consider myself an intellectual cretin, and I really do enjoy study and reading classic and modern great literature, but I also found that these things don’t help at all in times of stress. When I was a twanging bundle of terror after all the break-in attempts in the middle of the nights, the thing that calmed me best was Candy Crush. Sometimes childish—call them mindless if you like—pursuits are exactly what we need. Don’t try and spoil the small harmless pleasures that people seek. There are much bigger problems in our world if you really fancy a nice rant. So I say rock on you colouring book guys. Nothing wrong with it.

Balls and Alarums

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Back – again. Finding equilibrium comes in stages I think. Happily, I seem to be finding mine now, and getting used to this new life I’m finding my way to. The Horde are also just settling down properly too, and I’m only now seeing how much their poor little feathers must have been ruffled with it all. Jelly’s exploring properly for the first time, and they’re all getting back to their old crazy selves. The seed ball that I got for them that I thought I’d get major kudos for instantly became the Birdy Horde Destroying Scary Thing of DOOM. Talk about alarums and excursions. So that terrifying thing is going outside to scare the wildlife away instead.

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Finally, every day isn’t always a bad hair day anymore, and happy has slunk back up from the basement, supplying laughter and joy once again. I thought that my writing would have changed somehow, but I think it’s still the same old scribbling, from the same places. I see now that we can’t ever say what will happen. No matter what we do, or what our intentions on, our lives will take the courses that they have to, so we may as well enjoy the ride regardless.

My intentions were to be zooming around blogland a lot more than I have been, and that’s still what they are. So let zooming commence. I’m going to take baby steps getting back up to speed with the zooming though. I’m going to aim for three posts a week, and my Epic Comment Catch Up of All Time trip in between. Now that I’m around and about the town a whole lot more, I reckon I’ll take a pile of photos to share of interesting things and people around here. So, with a bit of luck – and elbow grease, I shall see you all in the land of blog all the time again.

 

Whacky Books

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I haven’t at all gotten to answer any comments in the past couple of weeks, and I’m SORRY, and I will get there – promise. It’s taken me a whole lot longer than I expected to get back to blogland, and I’m only starting in properly now. It’s been a bit surreal around here lately. I had TWO nasty surprises in the past six weeks, with members of the local bands of rotten criminals trying to open windows at three in the morning, and me seeing them through the windows BOTH times. That brings the number of attempts by them to get in to four altogether, so I must admit that the last one on Good Friday morning knocked me off my perch a bit. There’s something horribly personally, and somehow violently, invasive seeing an actual person right there on the other side of the glass, even if they do run away. Needless to say I haven’t been sleeping the sleep of the just that I so richly deserve, so I’ve been rather bleary. I’m a whole lot better now though, and waiting with eager anticipation for the riot control self defence kit that I ordered, the very presence of which will guarantee me some good snooze time I think.

Other than that I’ve had some lovely work coming my way with many, many thanks to my wonderful supportive friends here, especially Sally Cronin and Chris Graham. I want to give an extra BIG thank you to Chris – The Story Reading Ape for designing my fabulous new logo for my Indie Support Services.

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Don’t forget that there are all sorts of things other than covers that he can do for you Indies. From video trailers to banners, maps, and logos like the perfect one he designed for me. Zoom on over and follow him if you aren’t already – he is a wonderful font of help and support for all authors.

It’s so good to be able to finally start getting back to the books I love in all their forms. I found a particularly interesting one called The Voynich Manuscript that I’m sure a lot of you will find fascinating too. It’s been carbon dated to the early fourteen hundreds (1404 to 1438) and is named after the man who bought it in 1912. It’s written in an unknown alphabet – one that to this day has yet to be deciphered even though the most talented code-breakers and linguists have tried since its discovery. It’s filled with drawings of the craziest alien looking plants you could imagine, as well as pictures of women zooming through what appear to be tubes. Then there are astronomical drawings, and finally a couple that look like a combination of plants, the tube zooming females and the astrological designs.

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The mind boggles. My mind does anyway. A lot of very staid and well educated personages have found all sorts of realistic explanations for this book, but I’m a writer so not apt to head straight for the boring. I reckon the writer of this most peculiar tome was either from the fourth planet from the central star in the Zerg galaxy, trying to draw a map home because her peers had found a fabulous way to use whacky plant tubes as interstellar transport (I deduce that said writer was female and the reason for the book was that said peers had decided to search for more plant-worthy men on another planet and forgot her behind) or that it was written by an aspiring adult comic book creator born before his time.

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Either way—interesting stuff. If you want to download the PDF for a bit of nutty inspiration you can get it at Holy Books. The download is quite big though—over 50MB.

New Places, Old Friends

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I’ve just moved home rather suddenly and speedily, and naively believed that Telkom couldn’t take more than a week to transfer my internet. Hah! Anyway, after much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair they’ve done the deed, and I’m very nicely back online. One of the very many reasons they had not to move my line was that the new area I’m living in can’t get ten meg broadband – only four, which sounded great to me as long as I was connected. Interestingly enough, for whatever strange reason, this new connection is a whole lot better, steadier, and faster than the old one, so I’m a happy bunny.

I want to say a very, very big thank you to my lovely author clients for waiting so patiently for me to get through this without zooming off elsewhere, and a very very VERY big thank you to my beloved friends Sally Cronin, Chris, The Story Reading Ape , and our dear Ronovan Hester of Lit World Interviews fame for their staunch and awesome support during the past two crazy, terrifying months. It’s done now, and the crazy terrifying is too – I’m very sure of that now, and boy is there a book in there!

Anyway. I have some fabulous jobs to do now, and am having a ball getting paid for doing what I love to do – illustrating and generally doing anything writing and publishing related really take me to my happy place. Also, as I settle into my new routine, I’m starting to get some urges to get back to my scribbling again. It was so surreal in the beginning of this trip. I was one hundred percent convinced that I was going to totally crash and burn – the end. I’ve learned though, that it really is true that doors don’t just close without others being opened for you. Fair enough, you have to get over the fear of going through them, but when you do you may just find nothing at all scary on the other side.

I had to find homes for Bella and Freddie, which started off with a whole lot of tears, but ended up perfectly after all. Their new humans are fabulous farmers not too far out of town whose daughter just happens to be a vet. They have hectares to romp around in, and new doggy family too. Both also very happy bunnies now. The feathered horde is with me, of course, and after initially having their beaks well out of joint at having to go in the car again, they’re back to their happy zooming and using my monitor as their personal toilet.

 

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I’ve got a lot to share in the future. I’ve learned so much already, but I know that I still have a whole lot more to learn. For now I’m happy to immerse myself in work till I feel a little less raw, but I think that there can be so much more to our lives than we allow ourselves to enjoy. So many lives are wasted living in fear of one thing or another. So many of us spend years living in regret or anger at some horrible thing that happened to us, and I see now that we not only don’t have to do that, we shouldn’t do that. We should be leaving the most joyful footprints that we can behind us, and making as much as we can of every minute that we have left. Obviously life is never going to be all unicorns and flowers, but maybe with a bit of thought quite a bit of it can be. Right – now I’m off to add some more fire to a hairdo and play with badgers and frogs. I shall see you on your blogs shortly my much loved friends of the screen.