Saturday, May 18, 2013

Procrastinating Packer

After four years at the foot of Kilimanjaro I am moving on.  The time has come and now once again I have to pack up my life.  Easier said than done.  For I am the ultimate procrastinator, the person who says "I'll do it next weekend."  Unfortunately I am starting to run out of weekends.  The movers have dropped off the boxes which are stacked against the lounge wall staring at me, willing me to assemble them.
But as I am about to start I decide it's very necessary for me to check my email first, see what friends are doing on Facebook, maybe have a shower and wash my hair.  Procrastination.  It's my worst enemy.
It's not like I don't want to leave, I do.  I am over power cuts, slow internet, ants, geckos, barking dogs and all the other things that wear me down.  But it's the people who are hard to leave behind, friends and co-workers and the mountain which looked so beautiful yesterday evening as the sun's last rays turned the snowy top pink.  Four years is quite a long time, you make connections and leaving them behind is never easy.  This however, is the lot of the international school teacher.  It's a transient world with people coming and going all the time.  Something you never get used to.  Some connections you'll keep for a lifetime and others you'll make empty promises about keeping in touch.  But of course this has nothing really to do with the packing and sorting I should be doing now.  Best to get started I guess.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My new children's book

The idea for The Midnight Mouse came up about two years ago.  I had just had my second mastectomy and was staying with my parents while I was recovering from the surgery.  My stepdad came into the kitchen and asked who'd been eating all the cheese as there was none left.  That night when I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, there was my stepdad in the kitchen having a midnight feast.  He was unaware of my presence and seemed to be sleep-eating as opposed to sleep-walking.  It seemed he was the culprit who was eating all the food!  My eldest daughter Kerri and I began calling him the midnight mouse.
As I have young nephews and a niece, I thought there had to be some way that I could incorporate them in the story.
My idea was to use actual photos for the illustrations, but change them into watercolors using Photoshop.  This proved to be more difficult than I could have imagined.  I google-searched many tutorials on how to do it.  I followed the instructions step-by-step.  I never liked the results and the steps were so complicated.  I figured there had to be an easier way.  Fiddling around with Photoshop wasted about a year of my time.  I shelved the idea and focused on my medical problems.
Last Wednesday was a public holiday and I decided if I did nothing else, I was going to get the illustrations for The Midnight Mouse sorted.  Once again I started worked my way through Photoshop watercolor tutorials.  And once again I got completely frustrated.  At some point bad words probably even flowed liberally past my lips.  Another search on Google and then I discovered  This is a great website that takes your photos and turns them into cartoon-type illustrations.  Just what I needed!
Here is an example of a photo turned into a cartoon with  So easy and user-friendly, I highly recommend  It makes me want to write more children's books!
Modern technology is really amazing.  You can illustrate your own books, upload them onto Createspace and get them published all within a day!
The Midnight Mouse is available for purchase as a paperback or kindle book on  It is a free giveaway from Sunday 5th May through to Tuesday 7th May.