Casing the joint at the museum

I spent the morning at the Natural History Museum in town doing research for my new book.  It’s a strange place.  Part of it is brand spanking new: glossy displays with beautifully lit objects, enhanced by multi-media sound and video shows .  And part of it is a sort of time warp, with the stuffed animals crammed together into huge glass cases backed with hessian.  I was relieved because this is just what I needed for the scene that is supposed to play out here:


Also happy to see that there are no security cameras in this older area, and the locks on the display cases look very pick-able.   No, I dont intend to break into the museum, but one of my characters might need to!

Some of the older parts are lovely, though.  Particularly the bird displays and the dioramas.

Sorting Scraps with some help from Pippin

Pippin helped me sort my fabric scraps today 🙂 That was pretty much all the progress I made on the Mermaid doll today though.

Bought some Mermaid hair

I forgot my camera at home today, so was reduced to taking low quality pictures with my phone.  Today I bought some hair for my Mermaid (braiding hair from a Chinese shop) and chose some more fabrics.  Furry blue stuff, crushed velvet, maybe?  I also started blocking out what shape her body might be.

Baked Mermaid

I fired the Mermaid head and hands today – super sculpey can be fired in a normal oven at 130 degrees Celsius so no special equipment needed, except an oven thermometer.  Here’s the Mermaid hot out of the oven.  Her eyes look a bit different, I think foil on the back of the beads has wrinkled a little, but it actually looks quite nice:

Then I had fun setting out all my silks and gauzed to choose what colours I should use when making the rest of her:

My final selection.  The colours don’t show up well in this photograph – a range of greens, greys, blues and purples with some orange or yellow for accents.

Mermaid hands

Further work on the mermaid doll.  Hands.  Hands are quite difficult, as they tend to get flatter and flatter the more you work on them. And the left and right hands have to be more or less the same size.

The Story Trap cover finally finished

I’ve finally finished the cover for my book “The Story Trap”.  I changed her eyebrows and ears, added more chains and leaves, and changed the background to the lettering as well as some changes to the colours used.  I’m done now.  What a process!

There is going to be a print edition this time so I had to do the spine and back cover as well 🙂

If you would like to be notified when this book is launched, you can join my “new release” mailing list at this link.

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Preparing my book for print – a whole new world of pain!

I’ve been setting up my book for the print edition – I’m planning to make it available on Createspace, which is Amazon’s “print on demand” service.

Creating the print edition is a lot trickier than the e-book version.  Here is the print version of my book, open in Indesign, the program I’m using to do the layout:

I have to learn about trim sizes, font families, font sizes, line-spacing, layout problems like widows and orphans, how exactly to do page numbering and headers…the list goes on.  Funny how I can spend most of my life reading print books and never notice the layout conventions.  Should a new chapter always start on an odd page number, for example?  Where exactly does the acknowledgement, dedication, copyright information and so on go?

Then there are print specific problems like “show through” , colour conversions,  “rich black” and so on, and on.  Luckily the people on the Createspace forum have been very helpful.  It’s all a bit stressful, but if it works out, it will be worth the trouble.

Grey roses, shadows and chains

This might be it: the cover for my new book The Story Trap.  Is it finished?  Not sure. I’ve been working on it all day and can no longer see it.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll look at it and start changing things again…

The big change from previous version is the pattern in the mirror, the roses are completely redone and no longer pink, and I’ve inserted more shadows.

The Story Trap will be available as a  print – as well as e-book. If you would like a notification when it gets launched, please leave me your name and e-mail address in the form below.  Would love to hear from you!

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I will not share your information with anyone.  You won’t receive many mails from me – I only send a notification when a new book is launched, and you can unsubscribe whenever you like.



Another step closer

I did some more work on the cover image for my book.  Not finished yet.  But closer.  The plan was to put an open eye in the mirror she’s holding but it just did not look right.  Much better empty.

I was listening to Ursula le Guin’s “The Tombs of Atuan” while I drew this.  Quite appropriate 🙂

Cover image: Attempt number one

Severely unfinished!  First attempt at a cover image for my book “The Story Trap”

Pippa gets a digital haircut

I trimmed Pippa’s hair.

She used to look like this:

In the story, this is the moment when she’s just climbed over a gate into somebody’s backyard and is about to try and break into their house.  She’s wondering why they have no burglar bars…

Pippa with lavender

OK – so this is a drawing of a character in my story called Pippa.  Except that I imagined her with short hair when I wrote her. Whoops.  Will probably have to give her a digital haircut.

Mirror in hand

This is an important moment in my story: The main character looks at a small mirror.

Strangled in plastic

One of the more difficult things to research for my book was plastic pollution in the sea.  So grim.  The images of birds, fish and seals strangling in plastic are so unbearably sad.

Here are some illustrations.  If you go down to the Waterfront here in Cape Town, you can see seals with plastic bags cutting into their necks just like this one:


Sun branches moon roots

This is a bit of an experiment – not sure if it works.  Another image from the book I’ve almost finished writing.

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