Books · Read If You Like

Read, If You Like: Non Fiction Edition

Happy new year! I don’t usually gravitate towards non fiction, but there are a handful I’ve read over the last couple of years that I’ve really enjoyed, so I thought I’d share them here. As usual, you can find them on my Bookshop.org recommendations.

Read The Importance of Being Interested, by Robin Ince (2021), if you like:

  • A bit of science, but not so much you have to actually be a professional with a specialism in that specific, finickity little bit of scientific research to understand it
  • Anecdotes about physicists, the clergy and the occasional ghost hunter
  • A bit of philosophy, but not so much you need a philosophy degree to understand it
  • A contagious, oozing love and respect for being alive on this strange little planet in this tiny corner of the universe, right exactly now

Read Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes (2020), if you like:

Trick! I already included this in my Greek mythology post but it’s so good I wanted to mention it again!

Read Real Life Money, by Clare Seal (2020), if you like:

  • Non-condescending conversation about finances, with enough of the author’s personal background that you know her perspective has come from the heart and her experience, not a handful of business blogs and an online course
  • Genuinely interesting insights into spending habits, consumerism and financial wellbeing in this weird, advert-driven world
  • Advice about money that isn’t ‘take on a third job, stop drinking coffee and cancel your TV licence!!!’
  • (Is this the place to talk about how the TV licence is an investment in the entire UK arts scene? No? Okay but I want you to think about how it’s an investment in the entire UK arts scene)
hand holding Real Life Money, by Clare Seal

Read Be the Change: A Toolkit for the Activist in You by Gina Martin (2018), if you like:

  • Well, activism, but from the perspective of someone who fell into it by accident
  • It’s by the lady who made upskirting illegal in England and Wales after being upskirted, so like Real Life Money, you really feel the author’s passion for her subject
  • Practical advice for campaigning, writing to your elected officials and educating yourself on your subject of interest
  • It was really useful when I started the Do Something Directory, so if you’re into campaigning, fundraising, activism or think you might like to be, I can really recommend it

How is everyone doing as we edge closer to February? I try not to hate January – it’s not January’s fault that it’s almost always the coldest, Scroogiest month, with many deadlines – but I’m looking forward to St Brigid’s Day (or Imbolc, if you prefer, or, if we’re being boring: 1st February).

I haven’t finished it yet so will have to wait for another Read, If You Like to talk about it, but I’m partway through a book about the folklore of plants. I really like thinking about seasonal changes and how, in years gone by, societies seemed much happier to welcome in new months or seasons with a little bit of ritual. Probably because more people worked the land or grew their own medicines, and needed to pay closer attention to those miniscule changes to their landscape. I’m not going to be sewing carrots or dancing round a may pole any time soon, but I am thoroughly enjoying my afternoon walks, even though they are freezing. I saw snowdrops the other day! It’s still light at about half past five! I might cry when we put the clocks forward.

Let me know: have you read any of the books I’ve talked about? What did you think of them? What are you looking forward to as we make our way through winter?

Look after yourselves,
Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Books · brain chat

Things from 2021 that I liked and you might like

Happy nearly 2022! I don’t love those look-at-my-great-year posts, so I thought I’d do one talking about some of the lovely things I’ve come across this year:

  • Roman mosaics turned up in Rutland and they’re super duper old and super duper cool
  • The Magnus Archives wrapped up with a truly epic finale
  • Time Team is coming BACK and it’s going to be on the internet for all of us to enjoy
  • David Attenborough survives and, going on the assumption that he has a new show out, thrives
  • The guy who founded the We Rate Dogs Twitter account started a charity providing financial support for shelter dogs with complex medical needs, so they’d be more attractive to potential new owners. I can’t tell you how wonderful the 15/10 Foundation’s Twitter feed is, and how much better you’ll feel if you look at it
  • The Ever Given got stuck in the Suez and I know it was terrible for the economy et cetera et cetera but it was also ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS
  • Football didn’t come home but the idea that it might was quite nice (in the spirit of focussing on the good stuff, let’s not dwell on the racism or that bloke who stuck a firework in his arse)
  • While we’re on the subject of contests won by Italians… Eurovision came back! And Måneskin took their place as the world’s best rock band, Under 25s Category.

I’m staying in for new year’s eve, just to be on the safe side – although I’ve realised my favourite bit of NYE parties is getting to chat to my mates and cuddle with the hosts’ dog(s), so I’m not bothered about missing General Revelry. Last new year was difficult because there was no option but to stay indoors; this year I’m grateful to have the choice. And I choose to sit in my socks, eat panettone with my grandmother and think about all the books I want to read next year!

Seriously, though, I have a good handful of titles I cannot wait to dig into. I fell off the blogging wagon a little this year, but I hope to continue with book recommendation posts in 2022. A few titles I haven’t gotten around to enthusiastically recommending yet are Queenie, the Six of Crows duology, Robin Ince’s The Importance of Being Interested, Hitchhiker’s Guide (which I’d read once before but it’s like a good wine, it just improves with age), The Starless Sea – wait, I might have written about that. I can’t remember. 2021 had some really shit bits, but it excelled itself book wise. I was going to say it excelled itself film wise, but I’ve only been to the cinema once since Covid started and nearly all the films and TV shows I’ve seen were released ages ago. I liked, um, the animated Netflix one where Tim Minchin voiced a koala.

I just remembered that I almost went back into education to study film. Ha!

What were your highlights of 2021? What are you hoping for as we head into ’22? I’ve got a few modest goals – sort out my sock drawer, finish reading a copy of Frankenstein my friend T leant me on Halloween, get to the end of the academic year in one piece. I’m looking forward to some really mundane things, like Peaky Blinders coming back, new leaves on the trees on my uni campus, new Stiefvater novels, my fourth Covid jab. Ooh, I think there’s an extra bank holiday for the Queen’s Jubilee. I’m not sure if it’s a pandemic side effect or if everyone does it at some point during their twenties and the pandemic’s amplified it, but I’m far more interested in little things these days, things I used to consider insignificant. I saw a cool looking bird the other day. I’m not sure if pre-pandemic Francesca would have spent so much time trying to identify it on the RSPB website (consensus: male chaffinch, possibly). So, yeah, more books and more wildlife in 2022, I guess. Oh, and some of those shows that were originally scheduled for 2020! I’ll believe it when the lights go down, ha!

Happy new year!

Look after yourselves,
Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Books · Read If You Like

Read, If You Like: a Variety of Greek Mythology Books

I began this post when the Ever Given was still stuck in the Suez, but better late than never (which is the attitude you should take with your Christmas present deliveries, eh). I was hoping to read Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey this year to add it to the list, but then I went to university instead. Well, we know which would have been cheaper. Anyway, here is my (current, will be updated when I get my mitts on a few titles I’ve seen floating around the internet) list for anyone who is a mythology nerd, or knows a mythology nerd and wants to get them a Christmas present but their options are limited because I closed my shop this year…* There is fiction! There is non fiction! And all the authors are women because this is my website and I can ignore Robert Graves if I want to!

*Might reopen in January depending on if I can be bothered

Read A Thousand Ships (Natalie Haynes, 2019) if you like:

  • Multiple perspectives
  • Grumpy goddesses
  • Heart breaking scenes of [spoiler unless you know the story of the Trojan War already]
  • Banging one liners. So much of this book is eminently quotable.
  • Ancient Greece and its general geographic surroundings
  • Stabbings
  • It’s very stabby.

Read The Silence of the Girls (Pat Barker, 2018) if you like:

  • Stories about the Trojan War from the Trojan side
  • The realities of war. There are no euphemisms or mentions of women being ‘kidnapped.’ Barker calls a spade a spade, you know
  • It really is quite grim in places but I liked that about it; your mileage may vary.

Read Pandora’s Jar (Natalie Haynes, 2020) if you like:

  • Sarcastic non fiction that’s also really factual and educational
  • I find non fiction quite hard work most of the time, but Pandora’s Jar was very absorbing. I was predisposed to like it, because I love Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, feminism and Greek myth, but at the start I was a bit unsure if I’d struggle. I didn’t, because it’s well written (yes, I am doing a humanities degree, why do you ask)
  • Beyoncé references
  • Wonder Woman references
  • (who says that the classics have no impact on modern history)
  • Enough information that you can be interesting (or quite annoying) at dinner parties for the rest of forever. Would you like to hear about how Medusa is one of the earliest examples we have of victim blaming? Or about how Euripides’ Medea was quoted at first wave feminism events in the 19th century? Or how we’ve conflated the story of Pandora with the story of Eve? I can go on about this forever mate.
hardback copy of 'Pandora's Jar' by Natalie Haynes
Did you know they released a red version of the cover for Christmas? Because ancient Greece and the Christmas story both have… infanticide?

Read The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller, 2012) if you like:

  • Queer rep
  • Look it’s just very gay
  • (I’m assuming that if you’re here, that is a selling point and not a reason to write in)
  • A look at the Greek side of the Trojan War, particularly from off the battlefield
  • A look at Achilles, who was the most enormous sulky child this planet had seen until Trump took office
  • I mean, you sort of like him in this. Achilles isn’t a sympathetic character in most depictions, because he is very stabby and entitled in a way that rich kids of Instagram can only dream of
  • (You won’t like him in any of the other books I’ve suggested)
  • (I’ve included this book because no one else could have made Sulky McSulkface sympathetic. All the awards for Ms Miller, please, plus extra for irritating all those pearl-clutching purists who didn’t think Achilles and Patroclus could be lovers, possibly because they’ve never noticed any Greek vase decorations.)

I can’t wait to do an updated version of this once I’ve finally read The Odyssey. Did you know Emily Wilson is the first woman to translate it into English? I knew there was a reason I fall asleep every time I try to read Homer, ha.

If you are so inclined, I have a Bookshop.org list of these titles; if you buy one of them through the link I get half a penny or something. I’m going to have to revisit my classics and myth-y to read list; there’s a translation of Beowulf that looks epic, pun intended, and I’ve only read the first of Stephen Fry’s mythology series. I think I read a good Neil Gaiman non fiction book on Norse mythology a while back too? Ugh, I’m off to go and smile at a book.

Look after youselves!

Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

brain chat · Internet

Reflections on this blog and where it’s going (with a little bit of tarot, it is Halloween)

A few moments ago I pulled a tarot card for this blog. It’s Halloween, it’s the site’s spiritual birthday, it’s a good way to start a post. I thought about the last twelve years as I shuffled, and I was expecting to feel a little melancholy as I did so. It’s Halloween, after all, which for my money is a much better time to reflect on things gone by than new year is. It’s also the blog’s twelve year anniversary, and after I hit five years of blogging I found it impossible to reach this date without reflecting on years gone by. Most blogs last about twenty minutes. It’s discombobulating to think back to what I was doing at fourteen, at eighteen, at twenty one, and know that throughout that time I was here, talking to you.

As you’ll know if you’ve been following for the past few months, recently I’ve been making a more concerted effort to appreciate the seasons. (Autumn, you have been stunning this year.) I wondered today how I would organise this blog into seasons – or sections, because four seasons feels too finite. I think that 2009 through to around 2014 or 2015 was when I was in full ‘this is my space and if you’re here, you can listen to me’ mode. When I finished school, in around 2014 or so, I came a bit unstuck. Partly because my home life was coming unstuck, and partly because leaving school is weird. Both together were a recipe for uncertainty, and I struggled to define what I wanted to talk about.

2015 through to 2018 or so was a series of attempts to identify what this site meant, to me and to the few readers who remained from my school days. I spoke about travel, and being a professional creative, and art. Looking back, it was my entire life that needed redefining, not this one tiny corner of it. Gradually, as I got further and further into finishing The Princess and the Dragon, and as social media seemed to fall further and further into a plague pit of performative, po-faced judgement and toxic positivity, I found it harder to figure out what I was contributing to the world by sharing my thoughts. I was increasingly aware that if my fiction work grew in popularity, I would be more and more at risk of someone reading those old, soap boxy posts circa 2011, finding something badly worded or ignorant, and proclaiming that I should never sell another book. It sounds overdramatic, but in the young adult fiction space, you’re either a saint or you’re cancelled. My work Twitter feed, when I still looked at it, was awash with book bloggers debating the evils of problematic authors and/or their equally problematic content. One author recently edited a couple of lines of dialogue out of a published novel because people online were giving them hell for supporting the Israeli government. Or something. I wondered if I should semi-jokingly cancel myself before someone else could do it for me. I wondered how long it would take to, say, livestream a dramatic reading of all my old posts, during which I could reassess my teenage opinions and, more practically, remove photographs of people I’m no longer in touch with. I wondered if it was worth continuing to blog at all. I’ve been wondering that a lot for the last two or three years.

So you’ll be as surprised as I was that when I was shuffling my cards and thinking back on this site’s many incarnations, I felt happy. I was thinking back to how enthusiastic I was when I started, how hopeful I was that just by shouting into the void, the void might pay attention and change a little for the better. Now, as I write, I’m thinking about all the lovely conversations I’ve had on here over the years, how grateful I am to all of my readers, and how cool it is that I’ve been working on one project longer than quite a lot of people have been alive.

This was the card, the Three of Wands:

Three of Wands tarot card, part of Maggie Stiefvater's Raven's Prophecy deck.

For those of you not into the tarot, spiritually or otherwise, it’s all about sharing your work with others. Sit with your friends by the embers of that fire, the card says, and see where you go.

It feels hopeful, and I am not used to feeling hopeful in regard to my creative work. I don’t say that to elicit sympathy, or pity; being a professional creative is a numbers game. Statistically, I won’t ‘make it.’ I’m not sure what ‘it’ is, to be honest. Creative work as a full time job? I don’t know anyone who’s creative as a full timer, including authors with big fancy book deals. Most of us teach on the side, or speak at conferences, or write articles for magazines on subjects that aren’t necessarily creative. Some of us run podcasts or livestreams, or are fortunate enough to have proper radio shows or full time teaching jobs. Some sell our books to film companies, I guess, and if we’re lucky get to be a part of the production team. Most of us would say that the extra stuff helps fuel the creative work (although the dynamics of balancing the two is a conversation for another day).

I don’t know if this is a blog that will keep going, or how long for. As reader numbers have waxed and waned, I’ve asked myself again and again what the point of talking is if there’s no one there to listen. I’m never going to stop asking myself if there’s any point to sharing what I’m thinking, or what I’m doing. I’m not sure that’s something that can be answered just once. I have a feeling I’m only ever going to get more private, too, as my offline work evolves and as I spend more time working on the Do Something Directory as a relatively professional, sensible managing director whose sharing of personal views are not necessarily conducive to building a non profit organisation. And what’s a blog if not a type of online journal? Maybe we’ll find out.

If I can look back on this blog and feel hopeful, then I can look forward and feeling hopeful, too. I know that as May of next year inches closer, I’m going to want to show you guys my Killjoy jacket and, most likely, write a thousand words about the spiritual experience of seeing My Chem again. Do you remember when I wrote something soppy exactly two years ago to mark this blog’s momentous decade of existence and then MCR had the audacity to steal my thunder and announce a reunion? So rude.

Maybe I’ll share other things, too, like what I’m writing at the moment (social media copy for the Directory, to be quite honest), what I’m reading (I’m about to start a lovely copy of Frankenstein my friend T leant me, I can’t wait) and what I’m up to when I’m not doing those things. Hint: higher education. I could write a whole post on how much more I sleep now compared with before I went to university. Was I just not using my brain that much beforehand, or has close proximity to teenagers rewound my body clock? I don’t know how much I want to talk about uni online (I’m not going to talk about where I am publicly until second year, at least, because I live on campus). And I like having something that belongs to just me. Well, just me and the nine thousand people my mother has been telling about it.

Happy Halloween, lovelies. Go and reflect on the past, this is the best time to do it! I personally am going to make pasta. Look after yourselves and don’t forget to blow out the candles on your pumpkins before you go to bed. No one wants to celebrate Halloween by actually crossing the veil.

Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Plants · weather

Plant Mum Post #3: Giving the Houseplants a Bath and Adventures with Spiders (no spider photos, merely an anecdote or, um, three)

Happy solstice to everyone who observes it! How are you all? I am relieved that autumn feels like autumn – in Southend at least – after the weirdest summer I can remember for ages. Not sure how I got sunburnt in the last week of July and spent the first week of August wrapped in blankets, watching rom coms set in Greece in a bid to warm up. Britain, eh. God, I am so English. When was the last time I came here and didn’t talk about the weather?!

Not about the weather

It was my birthday last week, and 26 got off to an auspicious start when I got back into bed with a cup of coffee and sat on a spider. I didn’t notice until I was making the bed later in the morning and thought ‘… what… is that…?’ I thought initially that a bit of my skin was falling off, so in some ways it was a relief to realise that the blood and bits of tissue were, er, not mine.

Oops.

(I have been having moderately bad dreams featuring spiders ever since, so we’re even, spider world. Do you hear me? DO NOT TAKE REVENGE.) (We’re not going to talk about how I was dusting my printer yesterday and I am ninety per cent sure a spider crawled into the paper tray before I could stop it. RIP little guy.) (Also there was a false widow on the porch the other day, directly below my window.) (I am going to stop thinking about arachnids now.)

Also not about the weather

I gave my plants a wash this morning. I read once that it’s good to put all your houseplants in the bath once a year, and hose them down. It’s to imitate seasonal storms, or something, and get rid of any dust. I think I might have enjoyed it more than they did…

I had to trim back the aloe (not pictured, it’s looking a bit waterlogged as it drains out) after some leaf death. How long are aloes meant to last? This one’s been knocking around for about five years, but what’s left seems okay, with new sprouts. I think I may have done a smidge of overwatering in the summer, because I was watering the same amount as I have during the last couple of summers, when it’s been insanely hot. This summer – sorry, weather again – hasn’t really been like that. The Flaming Katy cutting seems fine, too, minding its own business.

How are the courgettes and the peppers, you ask. Well, I succumbed to peer pressure and put the courgettes outside before they were strong enough to weather some truly bonkers storms (sorry, more weather). Those that made it were promptly eaten by snails. Rest in peace, babies, I will try again another year. The peppers are not that much bigger than they were in June, to be honest. My nan’s plants have all been late blooming this year, too, so I am not too worried. In fact, I have given the peppers to my nan because her flat is usually about 32 degrees Celsius in the winter, so they will likely grow in time for Christmas.

Here are some photos of neighbourhood plants from the last few weeks, just as the season began to turn. I love summer, I love autumn and I always feel like the weeks where summer shifts into autumn are a little bit magic. Sad, but also a bit magic.

I’m off to check the plants are all, you know, not drowned. Wishing you all a spider-free autumn, or at least a spider-free bed…

Look after yourselves,

Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

brain chat

Autumn in August and other moderate feelings of discombobulation

Good evening! Is autumn creeping in where you are? It is here, as I listen to the new Lorde record and try to figure out how many edits I can make to this before my fingers are ruined for the weekend. Just a scent on the air, really. A hint of scarves to come.

How are you? I rarely leave it this long without coming by here, but in the last few weeks and months I’ve found that when I reach for words, they just… aren’t there. There’s two types of writer’s block: the one where you stop because you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere in the depths of what you’ve already written, or not planned a piece thoroughly enough. Then there’s the one where it’s not really about writing at all, it’s about the person doing the writing. For the first one, you just have to retrace your steps. For the second, you have to figure out what’s up with, well, you. There’s a little bit of both going on here, I reckon.

Are you superstitious? I’m not, usually, but lately I’ve felt that I might like to wear my evil eye twenty four-seven, throw open every window and do my level best to improve the atmosphere. Maybe it’s because the seasons are turning more obviously than they do in midsummer, or maybe because we are Back to Normal but not really here in the UK. I think I have written about this lately, but so many people I know are just feeling… wonky. Out-of-balance. My instinct regarding this very first world problem of creative apathy is that I need to go into hibernation. Turn off the internet, mind my own business and get on with things that are more practical than creative. Autumn is good for that, isn’t it? Most creatives work in cycles as a matter of working practice. Create, promote, wind down, hibernate, observe, create, promote, wind down, hibernate et cetera. Maybe I didn’t leave enough time between projects back in spring and summer, and now my brain needs me to piss off and do some boring life stuff. Finish my accounts for the last financial year, deadhead my house plants. I don’t quite know how this ties into my desire to cleanse my bedroom with a homemade herbal infusion to improve the vibes.

As for the rest of the world, that’s just going to keep spinning into oblivion, isn’t it? Can’t change Afghanistan. Can’t change Haiti. Can’t change that climate change report. Might as well turn it all off and focus on what’s in front of my two eyes. Except that I do have a tiny bit of power over the rest of the planet, because I run a website that helps people find ways to support causes they care about. My desire to remove myself from Twitter forever lest the washing machine of news sends me mad is at war with the necessity of running a Twitter account focussed on the washing machine of news. (Please follow the Do Something Directory on Twitter.) Perhaps that’s what’s buggering up my creativity: the push-pull of the me who wants to communicate with my readers entirely through a newsletter and live in a cabin in the woods before all the forests burn down, and the me who wants to stop the forests catching fire in the first place. Not a metaphor, since the Mediterranean is on fire. But also a bit of a metaphor, ha.

I don’t have long before Solar Power finishes, or before my hands say ‘enough, Francesca, or we will wake you up at night.’ This was not the cheery note I envisioned when I was planning this year’s blog posts! But I wanted to pop in, say hi, feed the algorithm gods just in case those ads finally pay up. Let you know that I might stay a bit quiet for a while yet. Does anyone even write blogs anymore, or is it all YouTube and TikToks? I don’t talk about politics or social issues too much anymore, which are the main reasons I first started this page. I don’t need to discuss them here, because I write stories and have the Do Something Directory instead. That makes this space a personal blog, and I don’t want to write one of those either. So we’re at an impasse, reader.

Perhaps I will see you again around Halloween, or the autumn equinox. I like those definite seasonal markers, they make me feel grounded. Until then, look after yourselves!

Francesca

PS As I was writing about creative apathy, I thought ‘didn’t I used to call this creative constipation’? When I was typing into the tag box, I discovered that yes, I did. Say hi to 2015 for me.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

(All Hail) Creation

The Poor Person’s Guide to Helping Your Favourite Authors

About a year ago I wrote a post about how you can help creators make money, without spending any of your own. I got to invent a character called Jiminy Snicket to use in examples, so I count it as a success regardless of the quality of the advice. I thought I’d do an updated post with authors in mind specifically, since that is my area of interest these days. Let’s say that our friend Jiminy Snicket, a year on, is a published author. It’s probably a poetry anthology, and they’ve probably illustrated it themselves…

Request their book from your local library

If it’s already available, borrow it. In the UK, authors can earn revenue when readers borrow their books from libraries. If Jiminy’s book isn’t in the catalogue, suggest the library purchases it. I do it all the time (not for my work. That would be embarrassing. I tend to request obscure YA novels and Nabokov. You guys can request my obscure YA novels for me. I’m not that desperate yet).

Engage with social media posts

This was on my original post, and still applies! Comments, shares and tagging-your-mates is good for feeding the Algorithm Gods and is also quite a nice mood boost for whoever’s running the social media account. Posting to the socials, especially when you have to do a certain number of promotional posts, can get repetitive and a little bit depressing. How many ways can you say ‘hey I’ve got a book out’ without boring your audience senseless? It’s hard to tell when the algorithm means that each follower might only see one of your posts every six months. Anyway. Put that screen time to good use! Engage with the social media channels for Jiminy’s publisher as well, if they have one, so the marketing team know that this is an author making waves in the, um, poetry anthology world.

Send work to friends who aren’t on the same channels as the creator

This still applies as well! Most authors have a presence on most platforms (Twitter, Insta and Facebook still seem to be the big ones), but not every reader has an account on those same platforms. Some people are even… deleting their social media in favour of doing something else.

Jerry from 'Tom and Jerry', eating an entire block of cheese
from Giphy

Also I’m told that The Youth are all on TikTok?

Gif of Jonny Rose saying 'Hash tag. Is that two words?'
from Giphy

By the way, if anyone wants to do some TikTok posts with my work, I’d appreciate it. I’m too old busy for another social media platform.

Anyway, yeah, word of mouth is still very much the name of the game with book sharing, whether the mouths are online or offline. Continuing with that:

Add their book to your wish lists or to-read lists

Most online retailers have an option to add a product to your wish list. Add Jiminy’s book to yours! According to a very quick search which I can’t link because writing this post took about two months: to-buy lists and reviews don’t impact a book’s ranking on Amazon (only sales will). But social sites, like Goodreads, suggest books to users based on what they have ‘shelved’ or what they have previously reviewed. So if you’ve read or want to read Jiminy’s anthology, add it to a list and it may be suggested to people who have read similar work.

All right, there we have it. Four easy peasy ways to do a good turn for the authors in your life! Truly I am a fountain of knowledge. I’m also off to watch the Olympics, so I will see you in the next one!


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

brain chat · Money

Quarterly Income Round Up (April-June 2021)

How are we already in a new financial quarter? What is time? Anyway, here’s the juicy details of my eclectic income, including book royalties in double figures:

  • Book royalties: £41.41
  • Income from the No. 1 Readers’ Club on Patreon: £142.07
  • Income from miscellaneous writing/blog work, e.g. Kofi and PayPal one-off donations, WordAds on this blog, Amazon affiliate links: £0
  • Shop ‘royalties’: £60
  • Freelance work: £162.45
  • Total: £405.93

In the first income round up, I explained all the various streams, so this month I only have to say: this wasn’t too bad. Better than last quarter, when I was chained to my desk writing essays about leadership theory. I mean, I’ve paid out more in website fees than I earnt in royalties, but all in all… not bad. I was a full time student for about half of the quarter, and spent several weeks after I handed in my final project with brain fog, so I reckon all things considered, I did a fair amount of work. My shops are quieter this time of year but still open – well, until I close on 1st September – so I can still skim a bit off the top for wages. I should add that I didn’t pocket all of those book royalties – some of it goes to one side for business expenses. Obviously I’d prefer if there were an extra digit on the numbers, but I’m still pleased that they are higher than they were in Darkest Winter of 2021. And they’re better than they were when lockdown first hit. Freelancing and making art in the pandemic feels like rebuilding a Lego building when the previous one was knocked over, several bricks were stamped on, and you don’t know if you want to recreate the previous building or try something new.

I don’t know what to expect from this summer quarter. Probably fewer royalties because I don’t have much of a promotion budget and the sparkle of a new release has worn off. I don’t think affiliate linking will suddenly increase either? But the No. 1 Readers’ Club always has room for new members! Come and join us if you like magicky stories and tarot readings! This is what I look like when I’m writing a story with a patron’s name as a character’s name:

Kermit the frog typing manically from Giphy
from giphy

Speaking of, I am meant to be working on the next story RIGHT NOW. I’ve done something to the little finger on my left hand that’s making typing feel a bit weird; I might do some edits. I’ve typed this sans little finger and it’s not impossible, but it feels disloyal to my fingers to say that I might not need all of them. I LOVE YOU ALL EQUALLY. PLEASE WORK.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)