Saturday, 20 December 2014

End of 2014 - Writing and Fish

Cartoon Honeybee

The year is nearly over. I don't have a whole lot to say, but I might as well say it now, as I've probably published all I'm going to this side of January.

I had two short stories published: Never the Same (Strange Horizons) and On Shine Wings (Unlikely Story). For next year, I sold a story to Lackington's and Never the Same will be reprinted in The Humanity of Monsters (ChiZine).

In self-published stuff, I released my urban fantasy novel Sunstruck.

The basic overview is my self-published stuff doesn't sell much. Sales increased a bit when the shorts came out, but I've still made less per book than I make selling single shorts to places. For now, I will continue to prioritise writing shorts for submission, as it's my only real income. My main hope for the future is to find something more commercial to write about to self-publish, but that's not a happy thing as that basically means cutting the diversity and avoiding writing about the things I love. I wish there was a way to have it all, but my current work has an audience of a couple of dozen people at most. That's not enough to survive.

Not a lot else has changed. I still need money. I'm still very isolated, partly because I lack money to go back to my old hobbies where I made friends. I miss having people I can talk to about stuff in private. It's all about the money really, as it has been for some years now.

In better news, I got new cockroaches and fish. I plan to eat a lot of food for the holidays, and I'm still working on my art course (my current theme is bees). Things could be worse.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Story/Art at Unlikely Story

Cartoon Honeybee

In my (probably) last story of the year, "On Shine Wings" is up at Unlikely Story. It's part of the Journal of Unlikely Entomology and it's all about bees! In space!

Story Link: On Shine Wings

You'll also note the artist for the story has a stunning resemblance to me, making this my first art sale. The art piece is titled "Spacebees", because my ability to title doesn't when it comes to pictures. It's acrylic paint, tea and ink on watercolour paper.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Photo Contest (Bees)

Earlier in the year, I stumbled across one of National Geographic's photo contests. It had a small entry fee, which I couldn't pay. So though it looked fun, I didn't enter.

Roll on some months and I've sold stories and earnt money. With a little time to go on the current contest (as it ends on October 31st), I entered a photo. I think this is my best photo of the year so far. The bumblebee was caught on the flower after getting soaked by the rain, so there's a little story behind it too. I doubt a bee picture has much chance in the nature category, but I figured it'd be fun to enter, and you never know unless you try.

The official entry page is here, where people can like it on Facebook or post it to Twitter. That doesn't have any impact on the contest itself, but it's there if you want it.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Writing Diary: Art and Books

Quick bottles painting

I talked short stories last time, due to a bunch of acceptances. But now, 'tis the season for longer and more painterly project discussion.

Intersections (the blog essay book) is getting there. I'm not happy with the introduction and have some formatting left to do, but it's not far off. The Deathwish List (cozy mystery novel) is most likely going to be early next year. I did provisionally say late this year, but I need time to focus on my art.

Conduit (the second Bigfoot Mysteries) is on track for late next year. I've actually got a fair chunk written, but it's put aside due to low sales of the first book. That said, sales have been rising in the last few months, which is great. I've also picked up some reviews. Maybe by the time the second one is done, it'll have a bit of momentum going.

Which brings me back to art. I'm in the second year of my A-Level now. I won't be able to afford to go on to the degree, but I could in terms of skills. So once it's done, my cunning plan is to get a portfolio sorted, so I can apply for illustration work. I'm never going to be a photorealist, as that's just not my thing. But some markets want stuff closer to what I do. Also, I'd like to work on my children's style, to query as an author/illustrator for picture books (one reason why my plan to get a picture book portfolio together went a bit quiet, as I figured if I worked a bit longer, I might get the drawings up to scratch too).

My current thought is I'll need some black/white stuff, like a book interior might have. Which as I still want to do interior pictures for the paperback of Rainbow Lights, I can feed two birds with one coconut. And some colour mixed media stuff for online illustration and possibly covers (for the most part, my art isn't typical cover material... but I used it for my own covers, so there might be authors with similar tastes).

It's a longer term goal, as it'll take a while to get a strong portfolio together. But I think it'll complement the writing nicely. Any advice from people who've gone that route is welcome. (Some of my A-level work is here and here, for those interested.)

Monday, 29 September 2014

New Fighter Fish - Shimmer

The tank I mentioned in my last writing diary now has a resident. Shimmer is a female fighter fish, and is probably between six months and one year old. She's white, with iridescent blue highlights on the fins and tail. As it's her first day, I didn't hassle too much with photographs. The best I got was this one:

White female fighter fish by an anubias plant

I also took a few videos, which I'll likely put together later in a setting-up-a-tank video series. But here are a few still shots from them. The last shows how blue her tail can look as she moves:

White female fighter fish with light shining through her

Back view of white female fighter fish, with her tail shining bright blue

She's generally settling in well. She's clamping her fins a bit (not so much in the shots, but other times), which is usual after a scary day moving to a new tank. She's really enjoying picking off little critters from the driftwood and plants, so I can recommend spending a little extra time on setting up a proper soil-based planted tank. It's not that my previous fighter tanks were bad, but this one is much more awesome for the fish.

In about a month, I'll introduce amano shrimp. The place I get my fish keeps the fighters in with other fish, so I've had a chance to see how she deals with tankmates. She had some very tiny fish in with her and was ignoring them, which is a good sign for being a tankmate-friendly fighter.