No Music for the Apocalypse today, sorry

Life is happening at me.

I have work. But because I was really ill for most of this month I’m doing most of that work this week, and I don’t have time to select a song, research it, and write something thoughtful and apocalypse related about it. I wish I did, but I don’t.

Things are really tight at my end. I will just, by using all that’s left in my overdraft and on my credit card, be able to pay my rent this month. But that’s it. No money for food. No money for my dentist appointment (which is due). No money for emergencies.

The work I’m doing now will pay the rent at the end of next month and cover bills etc., but I’m not sure how quickly the payment will go through and things are likely to be tight in the meantime.

The kind and generous people who donated last month paid my rent for this month, an electricity bill, my food, and a chunk of the rent for this month coming as well. My copy editing and proofreading business is picking up… it’s just a matter of timing. And of just how deeply I was already into the red.

If anyone has anything to spare to keep me going until my payment comes through, my GoFundMe is still live. Or you can use the PayPal tip jar in my side bar. If you do want to use the PayPal tip jar please be sure to check the ‘No Address Needed’ box (click here for info on why).

I hate to ask, but donating keeps a roof over my head and is really, super helpful in enabling me to have time to spend on my PhD.

You’re all great. I promise this place will become an awesome place again full of content when my situation improves.

Go Fund Me – please

Me graduating from my BA.

Me graduating from my BA.

I need help. Due to my long boughts of sickness and other complications over the last few years, I have run out of money. Not just a little: completely. This morning my bank rang and I’m unexpectedly over the overdraft limit by £47.24. I need to tell them how I’m going to get under than limit by the end of next week. And even if I do that, I don’t know where next month’s rent will come from.

I need £600 by the end of the month.

I really hope that things will pick up for me soon, but the truth is that I don’t know that they will. I don’t know how I get to the 30th of May 2015, which is my final submission date for my PhD.

I’m applying for work, but I’m not having any luck. I need help. So I’ve set up a Go Fund Me page. If you can, please donate whatever you can. If you can’t do that, please share this to people who can.

Or tip me. The tip jar is right over there in the sidebar. If you want to reward me for the work I do here on this site, you can just tip me. I do a lot fo work for free and I want it to be available for free, but the truth is that 7,000 people have watched my Existentialism and the Terminator video and none of them tipped me. And I really don’t want anyone to feel bad about that – I’m poor, I get it, not everyone can give. But if you can and you found something here that you value, I’d be super grateful if you would.

The advantage of the tip jar is that it goes straight to me. The disadvantage is that it won’t appear on the Go Fund Me progress bar. The Go Fund Me funds can take a week to transfer. But if I knew they were coming I could at least have something to tell the bank. Either way is a big help.


I had an idea, but I’m unsure how to realise it

So, I had what I thought was a really great idea. I checked it with some trusted friends who would have pulled faces at me if it were utterly daft, and they agreed that it sounded like a pretty good idea, like an idea they could get behind. The idea was to illustrate one of my pieces of flash fiction, or, more ambitiously, a set of pieces of my flash fiction – most of which would be things I have already had published – and, in the less ambitious vein, to produce a PDF that could function as some sort of give-away when I reach 500 Twitter followers (or other suitable milestone, depending on how long this takes me). In the more ambitious vein (possibly if the giveaway goes well) I might launch a Kickstarter (or non-US equivalent) to produce a short run of quality illustrated books.

I haven’t done much art lately because I’ve been busy with my PhD. But I’ve done some good work in the past and it seemed like a reasonable and fun thing to do whilst I’m on a leave of absence from said PhD. One never gets paid very much for flash fiction anyway, and if one has already had one pay cheque from it there doesn’t seem to be that much wrong with turning the piece of flash fiction into artwork for kicks and giggles.

So. But. I’m impatient. I had the idea and I wanted to start as soon as I got home. As depression has been kicking my enthusiasm and motivation for pretty much everything, lately, it didn’t seem like such a bad idea to just go with the flow. Unfortunately, it turns out that a lot of my paper was damaged by the mould and damp in the various hell holes I lived in prior to Lovely Flat. Also, I didn’t have any good sketching pens, and I knew I didn’t want to work in pencil. What I did have was a silver pen and a small amount of black card. So, I sat down and did a number of sketches that surprised me by actually looking pretty good.

Problem 1: I really didn’t have a lot of the black card.

So, I sketched away and produced a lot of things I really liked but which would need scanning into the computer and separating out from each other in order for me to do anything with them. I went into town the next day and found some slightly less good quality, but much more plentiful, card, and a black pen, in case the whole black and silver combo turned out to be as bad an idea for scanning in as I feared it might be.

A scanned image of what would be my first illustration, depicting a stylised partridge in a pear tree.

My first scan.

Problem 2: The black and silver combo does not work well once you scan it in. At least, not on my old HP psc 1317 all-in-one printer and scanner.

I also tried photographing it, which in some ways was better, but is still not really like the quality I’d need for my project. My results turned out like this:

I then tried fiddling with the scan settings, but it didn’t really make a difference.

I also tried using PaintShop Pro to render it all into black and white, but I’m not sure the results look all that great, either.

A black and white conversion of the original image, along with the first few lines of the story.

My attempt at converting it to black and white, plus the first few lines of the text.

You can see, here, I also made my name smaller, as it had been throwing the composition off, and I tried it out with a few lines of text just to see how that would play.

(Note: this one looks OK small like this, but if you click through to see it full size you’ll see what I mean about the pixelation. It just looks amateur, and that’s not what I’m going for.)

Finally, I had a go with my camera. The silver looks OK, like this, but it’s hard to photograph at a high enough quality, properly focused, and with the paper not at the right angle.

A photo of the drawing.

The best of the photos I took.

Well, I like to do things for myself, but if you can’t get it right there comes a point where you need to ask if anyone with more experience can give you some guidance. None of the above make the picture look as good as it does in person. I have limited equipment and resources. Should I give up on the silver-on-black thing altogether? Is there a better way to work with the camera or the scanner? Are there cheap professional services that can do this for me? Should I just redraw it all in black on white, or is there a way to render the scanned image into black and white that doesn’t make everything look a bit pixelated?


Save Romatically Apocalyptic!

Page 81 of Romantically ApocalypticOnly just over a week ago I discovered this most unusual and high-quality of comics.But – woe is all of us! – Romantically Apocalyptic is in real danger of disappearing for an unknown period of time. Basically, the computer of the awesome dude who creates this most impressive of comics has died. I don’t usually go in for the ‘please help pay for x of y complete stranger’ but this is a cause I want to support. I don’t have a lot of money to donate to supporting the arts, but I contributed a meagre amount. Because this work goes so far beyond just about anything else I can think of in terms of quality and labour-intensitivity for something given out for free.

Alas, although most of the fans seem aghast at the circumstance, most of them seem to be as skint as me, if not more so. If you liked my review, if it persuaded you to go read the comic and you liked that, please consider donating. I know times are hard believe me, but we need to support artists in the hard times if we want to live in a rich and entertaining culture. More info over at their site, under the faux-scream.