Tea-cup Genie

More work in progress – illustrations for my book Crooks and Straights.

This is of a teacup genie.  It’s not finished yet, but nearly there.  At first I got the face all wrong.  Far too serene for this character.


Second attempt is better, but now he looks a bit too wise:


The teacup was fun to do:



Not finished yet – but it’s looking a lot better now.  Struggling a bit with all the pale shades of grey.  I think his face needs a bit more work…




Slow, slow progress of an illustration

This drawing gave me trouble.  I finally figured out that the composition wasn’t working and after I cropped it, things became better.


I wanted to use shades of grey this time round, rather than just black and white as in my previous book illustrations. First try didn’t go that well:


I went back to the text and found that there’s supposed to be a newspaper on the table under her, so that helped with the background.


It’s not finished yet, but mostly there.  Time to move onto a new drawing.



Rock Pool

Rock pool at Mouille point this morning. Our aquarium-volunteers training group went on a field trip 🙂

Geni gets a new face

More new drawings for “Crooks and Straights”.  This is of a geni  –  but I got his face wrong the first time round.  Below is the second attempt.  He’s supposed to be plump and quite friendly.



Gia’s Doll

Started another drawing for “Crooks and Straights”  – this one is of the doll my main character, Gia, makes.



A close-up of her face:



The beginning of a new drawing

The first rough drawing for my book “Crooks and Straights”

This is a door knocker that hangs on my main character’s door.  It’s based on a hamsa hand,  a two-thumbed hand with an eye on its palm, which is a very common good luck sign in many parts of our world.

In my story this door knocker acts as a ward against magic.  I think it’s going to get very much simplified 🙂


It’s Alive! Crooks and Straights exists at last

This is why I’ve not been putting up any new blog posts for so long:


My new book Crooks and Straights!  Ready for the proof-reader.

This is a whole new story, not a sequel to my earlier books.
It’s set in an alternate version of South Africa, where magical creatures live among the rest of us, but are second-class citizens. The growing Purist movement threatens to take over the government, and plan to eradicate all magicals they cannot use for their own purposes.  My heroine, Gia,  has a younger brother Nico, who is not quite normal.  Things go off the rails when Gia accidentally alerts Special Branch (the police force that deal with magical creatures) to the fact that there is something special about Nico…

I’m starting with the illustrations today.

Watch this space!


In which I become an aquarium volunteer

Today was the day!
I attended the orientation session for new volunteers at the Two Oceans Aquarium.  Next week we start our training for about 6 weeks (we must write a test each week!),  and if we pass, we get to start doing the front-of-house volunteering.

The place has a wonderful vibe.  I’m so glad I signed up.

Caught my Catfish!

I have a new obsession — I’ve upgraded to a larger aquarium.  Today was the day I had to move my three cory catfish from the quarantine tank to the larger tank, to join the two corys I’ve already got in there.  Apparently corys like being in a group, and the two I had were not too happy all by themselves.

Corys are difficult to net without hurting their spiny little fins so I made a fish-trap.  A water-bottle cut in half with one side jammed in wrong way round, and a pellet of food for bait:


For a while it looked as though I was going to get lucky and trap a snail…


I thought it would take time, and was preparing myself to be patient but once I buried the open side a bit in the gravel, it was a matter of seconds before – one! Two! Three! In they went.


Couldn’t really get a good picture because these little things wriggle and swim around so fast!


Once they were in the big tank, the two resident corys who are usually so shy I might not see them for days, came out immediately to inspect the newcomers.  At the moment, all of them are rooting around the bottom of the tank in a happy little group.  So far, so good!

Next time, I’ll use a bottle that’s not pinched in the middle (less chance of escape once they are in) and use less bait, too.  A whole pellet was far too much.

Nico emerges

Another character sketch.   This is Nico, younger brother of my main character.


Human plus dog equals rat, it seems

I had another go at drawing Brakman, a character from the book I’m writing at the moment.  To make sense of his name, you need to know that “brak” is a derogatory term for a mixed-breed dog.  I tried to draw a more doggy aspect of him first, and mix in some more human features – like the nose and eyes.  Came out looking remarkably like a rat 🙂

Brakman also looks a lot more competent and confident as a rat-dog than as a man.


This one did not come out quite as I planned

A new character sketch for the book I’m writing at the moment. This is Brakman.  He did not really come out as I imagined him.  He should have a sharper face.  But he looks sad and nervous, which is how he should be.


Creature drawings for my new book

I’m outlining my new book – something quite different this time, not part of The Sisters series (The Story Trap, The Broken Path).  I’m doing the world-building, figuring out how the story world works.  I find it helps a lot to draw potential characters or possible creatures.

This one is a kind of fairy that lives in a communal hive very much like wasps do:


This is a household creature,  the kind that will do little jobs for a saucer of milk, but will do mischief too, if you ignore or insult them. A sort of brownie or nisse:


This one is something like a garden hobgoblin.  She’s a lot more patient than the brownie:


And I’m not sure what this is.  A sort of scavenging feral creature?  A sort of ratling?


The Broken Path is published

At long last — I’ve published The Broken Path, sequel to The Story Trap.


You can buy The Broken Path as an e-book:

I’m still working on the print version, but that is coming soon! Watch this space.

Book description:

What if a story came to life?  If the characters stepped off the page and into our world?

Rebecca has recovered from the coma but she still longs for the places she saw and the people she met in the coma-dream. Writing helps her bear her loneliness, but things get out of control when the characters from her stories come to life in the streets of Cape Town.  And Miss Mouse, the Antelope Girls, Hyena and the rest don’t exactly blend in with the crowd.

Cape Town in winter is a harsh place to be homeless. Esther, the witch who tried to kill Rebecca, is still at large. Rebecca has to keep her people safe until she finds a way to get them back into their story. She turns to her sisters for help but finds that they have secrets of their own. And Rebecca’s gun-packing neighbour is getting far too interested in her strange visitors.

The Mermaid – she’s finished at last.

After a long break, I finally got round to finishing the Mermaid doll. Added some shells and sea-weed. Now all I have to do is figure out a display case or stand for her.

See the work in progress here:





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