Tag Archives: Siren Stories

The Blue Unicorn Print Dress

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

 

My little girl has always been good at putting things back in shops.  She’ll find things she wants or likes and I tell her no so she puts them back on the shelf and we move on.  I’ve never had a lot of money as a parent, and I’ve always been cautious with money, so she’s never become accustomed to getting treats.

I’m proud of that quality in her.  I’m proud that she doesn’t mind that most of her clothes are second hand, that she doesn’t tantrum for toys in shops, that she doesn’t feel entitled.  It’s a good quality in her and it makes parenting her easier, because she throws plenty of challenges at me in other places.

Walking into town recently we passed a little boutiquey dress shop.  In the window was a simple blue tea dress with a small print of unicorns with rainbow hair.  Miss Rose adores anything rainbow.  She’s obsessed with rainbows.  Se wants everything to be rainbow colours.  Her next biggest obsession is My Little Ponies and unicorns.  She spotted this dress and fell in love.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Lilly Prospero, Mummy Blog, Parenting Blog, Writer, WRiting blog

Photo Credit Kaboom Pics

Obviously I told her no.  I’ve not shopped in a boutique in my life and I certainly can’t afford to right now.  Plus she doesn’t need a new dress.  Plus it was teenager sized not four year old sized.  With her usual good grace she accepted it and we continued.  She didn’t cry or tantrum, she didn’t fuss, but she didn’t forget.  She has talked about the blue unicorn print dress every day since.

I work really hard.  I put as many hours as I physically and mentally can into my work.  I write, I blog, I promote, I network.  I take hours out from my family so I can work and my daughters have to accept that quite often mummy is there but not there.  I’m with them but I’m working.  I carry a lot of guilt for that but I know it’s for them.  They’re my motivation.

If I succeed and I sell enough books and I am able to financially support us properly, I want them to have a home with their own bedrooms.  And I want to decorate Rose’s with rainbows.  I don’t want to worry about the bills coming out, I don’t want to cry if the lawn mower breaks.  I want to buy cheese off the counter not in Value plastic wrap.

I want to buy Rose the blue unicorn print dress.

Not because I want her to lose her humility.  I wouldn’t ever raise her to be spoiled and entitled, to feel she gets everything she wants the moment she wants it, because I don’t believe in that kind of parenting anyway.  But because she’s a good girl.  She’s a good girl and her mummy works hard and she never complains.  And sometimes it’s nice to get a treat.

Jonathan told me yesterday I’m the most determined person he’s ever met and I understand what he means.  I’ve been working towards this goal, writing and making a living from that writing, for my entire life.  I’ve been discouraged and disheartened, I’ve felt like a failure, I’ve been told to give up but I’ve never stopped.  Some say determined, others say pig headed.

Why do I do it?  Partly because I love it with all my heart.  It’s everything I’ve ever wanted to do and it’s all I’m really good at.  I want it intensely and I’m willing to work for it.

J.J. Barnes, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Lilly Prospero, Sirens Launch, Siren Stories

J.J. Barnes

But mostly now it’s because of my children.  Because they deserve it.  They deserve to be inspired by my achievements, to benefit from the stability and comfort that could come from the money I earn, and because dammit my little girl deserves that dress.

By the time she’s grown enough that it will fit I want to be earning enough that I can go into that boutique and buy it for her.  Wrap it up in tissue paper, put it in a rainbow bag, and give it to her for a gift.  To tell her thank you for being so good, thank you for not fussing or whinging about how much I work, thank you for believing in me.  Thank you for being my reason to live when I felt so low, thank you for being my strength when I was afraid, thank you for loving me with such intense purity.

Thank you, Miss Rose, thank you.  You deserve that blue unicorn print dress for all that you are, all that you do.  And I promise you mummy is working every day as hard as I can to learn and improve and achieve until finally I’ll be able to buy it for you.  To prove that it’s all been worth it.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

8 Things I Learned From My Book Party

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I attended my very first book release party on Tuesday.  Not just any book release party, the book release party for my own book.

As well as food and drink, laughter and fun, books being signed and photos being taken, there are things that I learned.

1. Getting glammed up is fun.

J.J. Barnes, Sirens Launch, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic RabbitI work from home as I write for a living.  I don’t go out much because I’m a tired mum.  When I do go out it’s usually for a curry.  Getting glamorous isn’t my natural state, at least not anymore.  When I was younger it was, but those days are long gone.

At 4PM, Miss Rose and I had appointments at the salon to get our hair done for the party so we could be at our most glamorous.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Sirens Launch, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit

Miss Rose had requested Rainbow Hair so we went armed with a box of hair chalks and my goodness she looked incredible.

For me I simply said “I’m not glamorous… but I want to be!”

My head is not used to be primped at and pulled around so it was an odd experience but one that resulted in some gorgeous hair full of golden butterflies that Lilly Prospero herself would be proud of.J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Sirens Launch, Rose and Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit

When I got home and did my make up, got the girls into their new dresses and me into mine, I actually felt pretty fabulous.  I admired myself.  I looked nice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to start making all this effort normally, leggings and slippers is something I am very comfortable with as a fashion choice, but every so often it’s fun to feel glamorous.

2. I am not a natural party animal.

In the build up to the party I was frantically busy.  Media had to be alerted, food had to be chosen, decorations organised.  There were meetings to meet at, interviews to conduct, invitations to send.  The build up I felt quite natural at, I felt quite confident.  Even on the day I felt alright, getting ready to leave was fun.  But then it was actually time to go.

Driving my children and Jonathan McKinney to The Swan Hotel in Stafford, where the event was being held, was one of the worst driving experiences of my life.  I was physically shaking.  I felt sick.  My eyes hurt, my head hurt.  My hairdo felt too tight, my dress felt too restrictive, I struggled to breathe.  I wanted to go home.

Most people headed to the most important party of their lives that they’ve been working so hard towards would feel like Jonathan McKinney felt; excited and happy.  Me?  No.  I felt like I was dying.

Jon was calming and gentle.  Focus on one thing at a time, he said.  All I had to do at that moment was drive us to The Swan.  It’s a drive I’d done loads of times, a drive I know really well.  That was all that I was doing.  Just focus on that.

3.  Our products are bloody brilliant!

It’s easy to get anxious about what it is you’re offering the world when it’s about to be presented on such a grand scale.  What if the books are rubbish?  What if the merchandise is crap?J.J. Barnes, Jonathan McKinney, Siren Stories, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The Master Enchantress

As we posed in front of our book covers, smiling as people snapped various pictures of us, I realised that actually these books are fantastic!  People there were fans, people who’d read one or both books, and loved them enough to come and celebrate them with us and tell newbies all about them.

It was an odd surge in confidence.  One I greatly needed.  I smiled and I actually felt quite confident for the first time that evening!J.J. Barnes. Jonathan McKinney, Sirens Launch, Siren Stories, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The Master Enchantress

Our books looked good on the shelves around the room, the posters celebrating our books and quotes from inside looked brilliant.  The Siren Stories mugs put out as gifts for the guests looked beautiful and the whole room was looking ready to do it’s job.

4. Our family are so very proud.

My parents, his parents, my grandparents, and his brother all came.  Family showed up from miles away to support us.J.J. BArnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit  They were genuinely proud.

Jonathan McKinney and I both come from successful families.  Our brothers are all in careers where people are able to go “wow” and “ooh” when our parents talk about their accomplishments.  Until now we have been unpublished struggling writers, and none of that gives the required “ooh”.

It hasn’t stopped our families being proud, indeed my mum and dad have found reasons to brag about me my entire life, even when I’ve seen nothing there worth bragging about, they have always found something.  And I’m a major screw up so they’ve had to be damn determined at times.  But bless them, no matter what, they’ve always succeeded.

At this party I finally felt that their pride was justified.  That my mum’s smiling face as she posed for photos with me was deserved.  Sure, we’re not hugely successful yet and our debut novels are mostly unknown, but they’re there.  We’ve achieved something huge.  My mum can hold her head high now when people ask how I’m doing, and she can brag about more than my ability to eat an entire 15″ pizza alone in one sitting.

Our parents have published authors for children.  They can be proud of us.  And they are.

5. High heels are the invention of the devil.

I used to go out dancing in high heels until 4 in the morning.  I used to wear high heels to work in an office.  I used to wear high heels just for the fun of it because they’re so pretty.  I own a collection of high heels so beautiful and sky scraping that Carrie Bradshaw would be proud.

I wore some comparatively low high heels to the party.  Black, sparkly, gorgeous.  They went perfectly with my dress.

One blister, one agonising ingrowing toenail, and one twisted ankle later I furiously removed the stupid things and stuffed them under a chair.  Evil.

6. Working Mums are always on mum duty.

Miss Rose is usually asleep between 6 and 6.30 every night.  She gets tired and she asks for bed.  She thrives on routine and structure, her stories and sleep being an essential part of the day she looks forward to.  She never asks to stay up late.

Adrenaline carried her far.  We arrived at 6, the party started at 7.  As things were set up she and Z charged around excitedly, posed for family photos, and played with the toys they had brought.  As people arrived she was admired by strangers, cuddled by friends and family.  She had been looking forward to this party for weeks, telling everyone she knew about it, and thrilled to finally be there.

At half past 8 she crashed and she crashed hard.

Grandma was deployed to step into the breach and get her home for a Grandma sleepover.  But getting her out to the car involved her screaming hysterically, begging not leave me, and being carried out of the party so I could hold her in my lap and calm her down as she desperately sobbed and begged me to go with her.

Then there was Baby Boo.  Throughout the evening I was stopping to give her cuddles and the occasional breastfeed, but she was, for the most part, remarkably contented being handed between her nanny and her grandma and various family and friends.  She had photos, ate spring rolls, and generally loved every moment.

Then we went live on Facebook to announce the winner of a signed copy of Emily The Master Enchantress.

Then she started to scream.

If you check out the Siren Stories page and watch our video, you’ll hear Boo in the background, then witness me disappear as soon as Jonathan starts signing to book, and return moments later with a newly calmed Boo in my arms.

I spent most of the rest of the party sitting down, cradling her and feeding her.  She had reached her limits too but, unlike Miss Rose, couldn’t be whisked away by Grandma.

7. Despite my fear, the party was a success.

As I looked around the room and snapped photos for social media, I realised something.  Everyone was smiling.

JJ. Barnes, Jonathan McKinney, Siren Stories, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The Master EnchantressJonathan chatted to fans and friends with his trademark amiable smile, easy and engaging conversation, and generosity of spirit.  Everywhere I looked there were smiles and enthusiasm.

The food was good, and it was eaten enthusiastically.  The waiters carrying around drinks were friendly and charming, the drinks were delicious.

Everywhere I went people greeted me warmly, asked me to sign books and pose for photos.  Nobody looked bored or like they wished they hadn’t come.J.J. Barnes, Jonathan McKinney, Siren Stories, Rose and Mum And More, Lilly PRospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The MasterEnchantress

Proof reader Zoe was laughing her head off with her friends and taking selfies.  Illustrator Sarah had managed to get there despite recent knee surgery and was drinking and chatting with a huge smile on her face.  Friends were meeting for the first time and sharing thoughts on our books, bits that they liked most, parts that brought them to tears.

Despite my greatest fears, despite my head being full of fireworks of panic I was desperately trying to ignore, the party was a success.

8. I’m going to have to do it all again.

The releases of Lilly Prospero And The Mermaid’s Curse by me, and The Fundamental Miri Mnene by Jonathan McKinney will coincide again, and so forth will come another release party.

Will I be so nervous next time?

Probabably.

Let’s be honest, the likelihood is I’ll never get full used to this.  My natural habitat is that of a hermit, locked up quietly in a room with a laptop, some jazz music playing quietly in the background, and a steaming cup of coffee at my side.

But perhaps somewhere beneath the fear of impending vomit will be the memory of the success of this party.  The memory that fans, old and new, have wanted to gather to celebrate this occasion.  The knowledge that the positivity we received has not gone away.

Next time will be another fabulous dress, another spread of delicious food, and another party full of books to be signed.

But for now I’ll ride high on the experience of last time, and put the fact I’ve got to go through it all again out of my mind.  Because it was brilliant.  And it’s not every day you get to attend a party celebrating your first novel.

I’ll never get a first book party again, I’ll never write a first novel again.  So I’m glad this one happened with such a lovely evening to commemorate it.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

One Sleep ‘Til A Book Party

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Tomorrow is the most important party of my career… of my life?

Tomorrow evening at 7pm is the official Sirens Launch release party for my first novel, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, and I have to not screw up.  That means I have to speak to strangers, I have to not spill on my dress, I have to engage with media in a mature and capable manner.  I have to not fall asleep in a corner.

I have to, in short, be a grown up.

And I am terrified.

I’m really proud of my book and honestly I could talk about it for hours.  I love the characters with a passion.  Lilly and Saffron are two girls I have created and known for longer than my own children and I adore them.  I see them through danger, through heartache, through adventure and pain.  I have created an entire world for them to exist in.  I know where they’ve been and I know where they’re going.  Writing their lives is my life and I love it.  I could talk about it for hours… over coffee, wearing pyjamas, and with my best friends.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Lilly Prospero

Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit by J.J. Barne

But this party is different.  This party is a chance to give my career a boost in the direction I so desperately want it to go!  To get attention on my work that introduces these characters I know and love to a wider audience, that brings my stories to people who will find them as captivating as they’re intended to be.

For the last few weeks we’ve been working towards this.  We’ve been having meetings, organising decorations, talking food and drinks, working out guest lists and inviting people.  We’ve made new contacts, and engaged with old ones.  Day in day out for weeks I’ve been using any spare time to work towards this party and now it is nearly here.

Will it go well?  Will it help me?  Will I sell more books?  Afterall, selling books is the whole point…  Sell more books, write more books.  That’s my long term goal and this party should help that happen.

If I don’t monumentally screw it up by being as completely hopeless as I feel I am inside.

Wish me luck.  Everything will be under the #SirensLaunch hashtag and at some point we should be going live on Facebook so have a look out for that!

Siren Stories, Sirens Launch, #sirenslaunch, J.J. Barnes, Jonathan McKinney, The Lilly Prospero Series, Lilly PRospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The Master Enchantress, The Schildmaids Saga

#SirensLaunch

In theory, on Wednesday, I’ll be able to rest… at least a little bit.  I still have kids afterall…

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Barnes Classics – Little Red Riding Hood

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Once upon a time, in a land far away from here, a little girl named Rebecca lived with her mother in a cottage at the edge of a forest.  Rebecca loved her mother very much, but she had a special place in her heart for her grandmother, who lived in a house on the other side of the forest.

One day, Rebecca’s grandmother came to visit and brought with her the most beautiful scarlet red riding cloak that Rebecca had ever seen.

“Is this for me?” Rebecca asked, gently stroking the thick, soft fabric.

“It is,” said her grandmother.  “I made it for you.”

Bending down, Rebecca’s grandmother wrapped the cloak around Rebecca’s shoulders, fixed the heavy brass clasp at her neck, then pulled the hood up over her head.  It was the most beautiful and warm thing Rebecca had ever owned.

Rebecca loved the cloak so much she wore it every single day, and soon the people in her village gave her the nickname ‘Little Red Riding Hood’.

One day Rebecca asked her mother if she could bake some cookies to take to her grandmother to say thank you for the cloak.

“Now Rebecca,” said her mother seriously as they loaded the freshly baked cookies into a large wicker basket.  “If you’re going to walk through the forest all alone you have to make me two promises.”

“Yes?” asked Rebecca as she pulled on her cloak and fastened the brass clasp at her neck.

Photo credit Dark Souls 1

Photo credit Dark Souls 1

“You must promise me that you won’t stray off the path,” said her mother.  “And you will not speak to any strangers.”

“I promise,” said Rebecca, pulling up her hood and picking up the wicker basket.  “I won’t leave the path and I won’t speak to any strangers.”

As Rebecca set off into the forest, her mother stood in the doorway of their cottage and waved goodbye.

The forest was beautiful.  The sunlight made the leaves overhead glow and the light breeze made the flowers on the side of the path dance.  Noticing the pinks and blues of the dancing flowers gave Rebecca an idea.  Her grandmother loved flowers; a big bunch would be the perfect thing to complete her thank you gift.

Stepping off the path, Rebecca went in search of the prettiest flowers in the forest to make the perfect gift for her grandmother.

As she walked she gathered flowers as she went, and soon she started to hear a chop, chop, chop noise coming from deeper in the forest.  Being curious by nature, Rebecca went in search of where the sound was coming from and soon came across the village woodsman, chopping logs with a big, heavy axe.

“Hello there, Little Red Riding Hood,” he greeted her.  “And what are you doing alone in the forest?”

“I’m taking cookies to my grandmother,” explained Rebecca, holding the wicker basket up.  “And I wanted to take her a bunch of flowers as well.”

“Do you have far to go?” asked the woodsman, setting his axe down and leaning on it.

“No,” said Rebecca.  “She lives in the house at the end of the path.  I’ll be there soon.”

 

***

What Rebecca and the woodsman didn’t know was that the Big, Bad Wolf was listening to their conversation.

The Big, Bad Wolf was terrified of the woodsman and his big, heavy axe, so liked to keep an eye on him from the trees to make sure he couldn’t sneak up on him when he wasn’t expecting it.

The Big, Bad, Wolf was hungry and when he saw Little Red Riding Hood he licked his lips.

Photo credit Coco Parisienne

Photo credit Coco Parisienne

“The house at the end of the path, eh?” he said to himself thoughtfully.  The woodsman might make it impossible for him to safely hunt in the forest, but the little girl gave him an idea and he hurried away, a wicked grin on his face.

When he reached the house at the end of the path, with a wicked grin on his face, the Big, Bad Wolf knocked with a rat-a-tat-tat on the door with his paw.

“Is that you, Little Red Riding Hood?” came a voice, and a grey haired woman pulled the door open.

“No!” barked the wolf,  and before the she could push the door closed again, the Big, Bad Wolf barged his way in, opened his huge mouth, and swallowed the woman whole with a big gulp.

After burping as loudly as he could, the Big, Bad Wolf took in his surroundings, then headed for the bedroom with a wicked plan forming in his mind.

 

***

 

After she had gathered a beautiful bunch of flowers, Rebecca waved goodbye to the woodsman who had returned to chopping, and set off down the path towards her grandmother’s house.

When she reached the house she knocked on the door with a soft rat-a-tat-tat and waited.

When there was no answer she tried the door and found it unlocked, then pushing it open she called out, “Granny?  Are you home?”

“I’m in my bedroom, my dear,” came a voice from upstairs, but it sounded strange.

“Are you alright, Granny?” Rebecca called out anxiously.  “You don’t sound very well.”

“I have a bit of a sore throat so I’ve put myself to bed,” came the voice.  “Why don’t you come up and see me?  I’ve missed you terribly.”

Stepping into the house, Rebecca closed the door behind her.  She looked around and noticed one of her grandmother’s solid wooden chairs at the kitchen table had been tipped over.  Frowning, Rebecca carefully set it upright.

“Shall I bring up tea?” Rebecca called out, setting the basket of cookies and flowers down on the kitchen table as she noticed an empty mug and clean teaspoon next to the kettle.

“No, no,” came the voice from upstairs.  “Just come up here, Little Red Riding Hood.  I’m looking forward to… seeing you.”

Nervously, though she didn’t know why, Rebecca started to climb the stairs.  When she got to her grandmother’s bedroom she pushed the door open with a long, slow, creak.

The whole room was dark, the shutters on the window closed, and the curtains drawn.  In the bed she could see her grandmother lying with the duvet pulled up high and a nightcap pulled down low.

“Come closer,” came the hoarse voice.

Rebecca stepped closer, sniffing slightly as a funny smell crept to her nose.

“Closer,” said the voice.  “Closer.”

Rebecca stepped closer, and cautiously sat down in a chair beside the bed.

“Granny,” said Rebecca, squinting through the darkness, surprised by the huge, yellow eyes that were staring at her.  “What big eyes you have.”

“All the better to see you with, my dear.”

“And Granny,” said Rebecca, startled as she looked at her grandmother’s head.  “What big ears you have!”

“All the better to hear you with, my darling.”

As she leaned closer, peering through the darkness, Rebecca saw that the duvet had fallen slightly from her grandmother’s face.

“Granny,” she said, staring in horror as the hairs on her neck started to stand on end and her heart started to race.  “What big teeth you have…”

“All the better to EAT you with!” roared the Big, Bad Wolf, leaping up.

Rebecca screamed a loud, piercing scream and tried to run from the room, but the Big, Bad Wolf grabbed her, opened his mouth, and swallowed her whole.

 

***

 

As he was headed home for the day, the woodsman heard a terrified scream bursting from the house at the end of the path.

“Little Red Riding Hood!” he cried out, remembering that the little girl had been headed there.  “I’m coming!”

The woodsman burst through the unlocked door and noticed the basket of cookies and flowers sitting on the kitchen table.  His nose prickled; he recognised that smell.  The Big, Bad Wolf was here.

Racing up the stairs, his axe raised, the woodsman burst into the bedroom and saw the Big, Bad Wolf lying on the bed with a huge, full stomach.

Without hesitation, the woodsman swung his big, heavy axe and chopped off the wolf’s head before he could escape.

“Little Red Riding Hood!” he called out, are you in there?”

“Yes!” came the little girl’s voice as she climbed out of the wolf’s tummy.  “And so is my Granny!”

The woodsman set down his axe and helped the little girl and her grandmother climb out, then smiled as the two hugged one another tightly.

 

***

 

Downstairs, Rebecca’s granny turned on the kettle and set two more mugs out on the side.  “Tea?” she offered.

“Yes please, Granny,” said Rebecca,  “It’ll go perfectly with the cookies I made you.”

“Tea and cookies sounds wonderful,” said the woodsman.  “And may I just say, this new wolfskin rug really does finish this place off beautifully!”

 

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

 

The Writer Mum And Other Challenges

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

There’s a certain safety in my chosen career, especially if you’re something of a neurotic, antisocial, anxiety riddled weirdo like me.

Writing fiction is the safest part.  It’s a new world and new people, and anything they say or do isn’t my thoughts or actions therefore, even if I know which aspects of the things that go on are parts of me, it’s all created rather than based on real life.  I’m protected behind an artificial barrier of a made up world.

Writing my blog is the next safest.  Whilst it’s my life, my words, it’s written down and I can go back and edit it, I can spend hours if necessary deciding on the perfect word to use to translate what’s in my head in a big sauce onto words in a way that is digestible and accurate.  Whilst the shield I’m behind doesn’t stop it being me that is being judged, it does give me an opportunity to be secure in what I’m saying before it’s given to the world.

Now I’ve started podcasting.  And it’s pretty terrifying in an awesome and challenging way.

I started in a joint podcast for Siren Stories with my writing partner, and life partner, The Boy.  That was scary when we first started.  The first recording had false starts where I panicked, forgot how to speak, or inexplicably choked on my own saliva.  I hated listening back to it.  Loathed it.  My voice sounded awful, nasal and drawling like a badly written fictional villain.  Just dreadful.  But, after the first couple of sessions I relaxed into it.  Then it became so much fun!  It became something I genuinely looked forward to doing because conversations with him are fun and interesting anyway, and I love the fact we have a legitimate reason to take time out of our ridiculously busy days to talk about stuff we love so much!

One of the recordings we do is an episode by episode analysis of the Netflix show “Jessica Jones.”  We love it.  We love watching it and we love recording it.  We love talking about it.  It’s one of the highlights of my week.

There’s a safety in the podcast for Siren Stories, and that’s in a shield of Jonathan McKinney.  If I stop talking because suddenly my tongue has grown three foot and I’ve forgotten what language I speak, he picks up the silence.  If I can’t think of anything to say he speaks and gives me something to bounce off.  If I go off on a tangent or get confused over where we’re headed, he is able to redirect it.  Our conversation together is flowing and natural anyway, so it’s easy.

Then there’s my podcast… my own podcast I record all by myself.  The Writer Mum Podcast.

The most terrifying part of my job ever.  Because it’s just me.  It’s not just me writing, it’s me speaking.  It’s me speaking into the ears of strangers.

If I go off on a tangent I have to drag my way back, if I forget how to speak I have to remember fast or face a series of “erms” and “uhs” filling the time.  I can’t go back and edit, not like I can with the blog because words flow without the ability to pick out and replace a word here or there without it sounding bizarre and unnatural.

Once it’s out there my choices are either leave it, or delete it.  I can’t edit it, I can’t twiddle with it.  Leave it and feel like it’s not right, delete it and be left with an empty space and a missing episode.

Then there’s the fact I have a seven week old baby.  A seven week old baby who begins her cluster feeding when the big kids go to bed.  I can’t record when they’re awake, obviously as they’re loud and obnoxious, and she’s too little to send off because she’s breastfed and gets hungry.  Plus I don’t want to send her away… although there are occasions she makes recording very tricky.

I always apologise at the start and explain that she is with me and there might be some peculiar little baby noises at moments.  But sometimes there aren’t peculiar little baby noises, sometimes she lets out an enormous fart that not only sounds ridiculous but gives me fits or the giggles and then sends me reeling because my gosh this child can fart like her father.  How something so cute and little can make smells so terrible and huge I do not know.  Other times she’s coming off the nipple and struggling to latch back on, so I’m trying to talk and relatch and end up muddling up what I’m saying.  Then I get cross and the recording features a number of expletives as I try and refocus my brain.  And then I delete it.

I can go back and edit, cut out the enormous fart noise and subsequent giggles, but then I have to restart in a way that sounds natural and sometimes I just can’t, it won’t flow right.  In time I am sure that will come but my acting skills aren’t there yet and I can’t forge the emotion or feelings I had mid sentence for the sake of continuity.

What to talk about would be a challenge if I didn’t have a wealth of blogs to use as inspiration.  I can reach a whole new audience, or give the existing audience new thoughts on blogs they’ve already read.  So basically it’s a good job I’ve written copious amounts on the subject I love so much because otherwise I might panic and decide I have nothing to say and then give up!

It’s a real challenge.  It’s something I never envisioned doing.  Launching Siren Stories: The Podcast made me find out how much fun it can be, and inspired me to start my own.  The safety belt is definitely off.  I’m riding without stabilizers.  It’s scary and I’m still not convinced I like the sound of my voice enough to launch it out into the world on iTunes, but I’m enjoying it.  There’s excitement in new challenges and I love reaching new people who might not be interested in reading blogs but do listen to podcasts.

Adding new challenges is awesome, and something I’m really proud I’ve been brave enough to do.  It’s forced me out of my comfort zone and made me explore something that seemed impossibly out of reach and pointless even considering.  My next challenge will be interviews.  I want to talk to other mums, other writers, other feminists.  Get their thoughts on subjects that are in the news, and share the space with other voices that deserve to be heard.

Both Siren Stories: The Podcast and The Writer Mum Podcast are on iTunes or you can listen online through www.sirenstories.co.uk and www.jjbarnes.co.uk, and The Writer Mum Podcast is also on facebook.

All my contact information is on there too so have a listen, let me know what you think, and if you want to be featured or have any suggestions for content, get in touch!

I’m not naturally inclined towards doing things that scare me, but having done it I’m finding it far more rewarding than I ever imagined!