The Crier and the Shopkeeper

The following is a short moment set in my universe. It is a fantasy world and this is set near the end of winter.

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The sun gazed dimly down upon a blanket of cloud, unable to see through it to the white world below. If you listened closely perhaps you could hear a far off sigh.
Far below, nestled at the foot of the tallest mountain, sat a city; an old city who some say was the first.
“The Dark Days are approaching!” The crier’s voice rang through an old market square, escaping and echoing down the alley ways between buildings. Bouncing from stone to stone.
In one of the buildings a shopkeeper looked forlornly around her empty shop. A narrow building, dark for lack of windows, but filled with a wonderfully enticing smell. A few bags were displayed, filled with the colourful and tempting sweets, but the bulk of the stock was safe behind the counter. Ella and her assistant Bes had learnt the hard way that people sometimes get too tempted by her wares.
“Be ready for the dark days!” The voice rang out, closer this time, heard through the slightly ajar front door.
“He’s getting closer.” Bes remarked, in a bored sort of way, as she fiddled with a ribbon around a small woven bag.
Ella noted the bell that accompanied the shouting.
“I have an idea.” She swept out from behind the counter and off to the front door.
Ella poked her head out of her shop doorway, eyes scanning to find the source of the proclamation.
“The Dark Days will be here soon!” The bell clanged along with his heavy tread.
“Aha!” Ella stepped a foot out into the the street, thought better of it a moment and went back inside to grab her cloak. “I’ll be back shortly, Bes, keep the shop running.”
Once outside, she struggled to find the crier again,so many people filled the narrow street. She walked in the direction she had last seen him, dodging shoppers. And there he was, walking towards her, a very short man with the largest beard she’d ever seen, it was a deep brown with a variety of metals and stones decorating it. He wore an emerald green woollen hat and tunic. The golden bell was gripped tightly in his hand.
“Good morn, fair crier!” Ella called out to the man, she raised a hand in part greeting and part beckoning.
He stopped and turned to look at Ella.
“And a good morn to you.” He nodded his head to her.
She took a step to close the gap between them, and was almost knocked over by a woman carrying an overflowing basket.
“Watch where you’re going!” The woman bellowed in Ella’s face before she pushed passed and on down the street.
Ella felt her face flush, her hand clenched.
“Never mind her.” Said the crier. “The dark days can bring out the worst in people.” He patted her elbow and they stood off to the side of the pathway.
“Was there something that you needed from me?” He squinted up at her, and she saw a glint in his dark green eyes.
Ella pulled back her shoulders and nodded.
“I have a proposition for you.”
The crier’s eyebrow rose but he didn’t say anything.
“I have a shop. An empty shop, and I wish that it were not.”
“And I can help with that?”
“I’m certain of it.” She pulled from a cloak pocket a bag of her wares. “Whether they realise it or not, everyone listens to you when you shout.”
“I wouldn’t just do this for fun.” The crier’s moustache twitched and his eyes twinkled.
“Hmm, I have met people who do like the sound of their own voice.”
He chuckled and waved his hand for her to continue.
“Well, people need to know what they need, what would make the dark days a little more bearable.” She swung the little bag back and forth.
“Is that something that will help?” He nodded to the little bag.
“It is. A succulent morsel, which will sweeten the long dark hours.” She passed over the bag. “Have a taste, I’m sure you will agree.”
The crier tore open the ribbon and removed a buttercup yellow oval sweet. He placed it in his mouth and pocketed the rest.
“Mmm.” He finished the sweet. “Very nice. An nut in sugar?”
“Yes.” Ella, was impressed. “I visited the great city a number of years ago and encountered this wonderful sweet maker, he taught me a few things. No-one else makes them here.”
“And yet your shop is empty.”
“It’s a busy time, people are getting other things ready, worrying about keeping safe and having family around.”
“Perhaps they should be worrying about bringing over a sweet treat for a special time, hmm?” The crier winked at her.
“Exactly.”
“What’s in it for me?” He eyed the pouch at her waist.
Ella shifted her stance, her cloak fell, covering her money purse.
“For each sale, I’ll give you a penny.”
He narrowed his eyes as he looked up at her. “I think you could do a better than that, hmm?”
“Two pennies?” She asked, not holding on to much hope.
He chuckled. “Five pennies and a few more bags of sweets, I think my family might enjoy them. And five pennies upfront.”
Ella thought for a moment, she sold each bag for ten pennies, losing half was almost too much. But on the other hand if she didn’t sell any she would be much worse off. Looking up into the sky she noticed the lightening, and realised that it would soon by turning to the second half of the day.
“Better hurry, not much light left.” The crier jangled his bell.
“A deal, then.” She stuck out her hand, the crier grasped hers in a firm, warm grip.
She dug into her purse, pulled out five pennies and passed them over to her new business partner.
She told him where her shop was and a few details about her sweets and left. She was excited by this idea, but her expectations were low, it was like nothing else she had ever tried before.
She returned to her shop, the enclosed space was slightly oppressive after the brisk air of the streets. But the sugary smell was a comfort.
“Where did you run off to?” Bes demanded, as she bundled up a selection of sweets, the white confections made a satisfying sound as they tumbled together in the bag.
“To carry out my idea, we shall soon see if it bears fruit.” Ella joined Bes behind the counter once she had removed her cloak.
Outside they could hear the crier, Ella smiled.
“Stock up on your sweet nuts, take a gift of sweets to your dark day sanctuary!”
Bes stopped in her wrapping as she heard the crier’s words.
“You didn’t?” She turned to Ella who was now by her side.
“Maybe.”
They laughed as the door opened and a couple of new customers walked in.

Warhammer 40K And The Joy Of Making

Hello dear reader!

I have been busy over the last few weeks. In my previous post, I made various statements about what me and Emma wish to do this year. All of this has been pulled into sharp focus over the last week or so as I have been battling a furious illness, but I’m now on the mend!

What I’m here to talk about is my love of Warhammer, specifically 40K, which has somewhat taken over my life of late. There is a gaming cafe quite close to me that opened midway through last year and for the longest time I have wanted a place to go to play my games, specifically Warhammer. I noticed that while they had a limited stock they didn’t really have a time or place for people to play the game.

So, I approached them at the end of last year to basically volunteer to start a “learn to play Warhammer” session on tuesday evenings and it’s going amazingly well! Every time I arrive with my models, there are more people wanting to learn and to get their models onto the table; to me, it just shows that if you just give people the opportunity, they will show up and participate.

This has led to me investing a bit more time and money into my armies. I collect Orks and for the longest time, this was the only army I did collect, but in the interest of having two armies, one for me to play and one to loan out, I have started a Deathwatch army.

deathwatch army painted undercoated
First pass on undercoating, almost ready to purge the Xenos.

I’ve never collected an Imperium army before and I wanted one that would cater to my needs: low model count(because Orks), high special abilities and lots of customisation options. I also had ten random terminators hanging around so something that would allow me to utilise them would be handy.

I must say, I think Deathwatch are one of the most fun armies I have ever had the pleasure of modeling and playing. Because the lore of the army means that they are special forces with a predilection towards fighting aliens (and equipping stolen alien technology, it gave me loads of scope for kitbashing and making MY DUDES; so I have been having a great time snipping, gluing and tweaking to get them just as I want them. They are so fun to play on the battlefield too.

bitz box crafting custom open toolbox
My box of tricks!

Next, I need to convert one of my terminators into a chaplain, I think I’m going to try and record the process and put it on our youtube channel, follow the link below and subscribe to check that out when I upload it in a day or two!

terminator model conversion project
His devotion will be tested once I snip him into shape!

Until next time, have fun and be happy.

A Peek in our Window

I’ve just got in from the weekly shop for food. Well, that’s a bit of a lie, I’ve been home for awhile, but I was spending time with John. He’s not well again and he’s having to go into work, so I feel guilty. Since I can’t work (anxiety) or even claim benefits (anxiety again, whoot) it means that John is solely responsible for our income. I know that he doesn’t mind but when it comes to being ill, it makes it hard for him to take time off work since we lose a fair amount of money. But that’s not what I wanted to ramble about. I’m sure it’s not interesting to hear me worry.
I don’t really have a point to the post, though, I just wanted to have a bit of a check in now that we are almost at the end of the second week of the year. I’ve been doing rather well with goals, however, I was slightly less productive this week, causing me to feel a little low, but I didn’t let it stop me and that in itself is a victory.
How is your year so far? If you think you’re falling behind with what you have planned, take a step back and see if you are achieving other things, habits that are making a better life or little victories that will make the whole plan easier. You can do this, I believe in you!
Maxi (our bearded dragon) is doing well, yesterday he had a great day, hunting for worms and having fun evading us as we try to keep him warm. Today he’s a bit calmer but no less cute.
I’ve been doing some experimentation with cross stitch, trying to find how much thread I use per stitch and I think I finally have the number, well for 14-count aida. Each time I try something new I will note it down. It’s all for the goal of creating my own patterns and to allow me to better anticipate how much thread I’ll be using. I get a bit nervous when I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing, is that clear yet 🙂
Today, I’m going to do some world building, I’m working on it constantly but I’m putting it on the computer in order to have a better grip on my ideas and to have it more accessible when I’m writing. With each pass it changes a little but gets better.
What are you up to this weekend? Whatever it is, I hope that it is great!

Bullet Journal – The First Seven Days

The first week of the year was a pretty uneventful one, however it was productive and enjoyable. I’m waiting until we get further in the year to get too proud of my habits, but so far so good.
Now this post is specifically about my foray into bullet journaling so that is what we will talk about.

Purple hippo dingbats notebook
Dingbats purple hippo dotted notebook

I’ve been interested in the concept for over a year, but due to the limited availability of dotted notebooks near me and nervousness about trying new things, it wasn’t until the end of 2019 (seeing people set up their 2020 journals) that I decided to give it a go.
I struggled with finding the right notebook, I wanted to be able to use what pens and supplies that I had on hand, rather than having to get specialist items or deal with the pens showing through the pages. It’s fair to say that I got myself in a bit of a tizzy. With no way to test or see them before investing I was a little apprehensive. But after watching a fair few videos I settled on a Dingbats notebook, I would have liked to get one of the A4+ sizes but I wanted the purple hippo. And it is really nice to write in, and my pens only very faintly show through to the other side.

I didn’t get it until rather close to New Year’s, which resulted in a sprint to set it up, causing me some lingering pain in my wrist. But I managed to get what I wanted set up, just in time.

The cover page for 2020 and the first page in the notebook
The key for the symbols I will use throughout the bullet journal.
A log for my cross stitch and the cover page for January

I’ve been using the journal everyday so far and it’s been very helpful. I think that I still need to find the perfect way for me to write my work tasks, but for now it is going well. The habit tracker (not shown, for privacy) has been especially revealing. I enjoy having a colourful and filled in chart, which is meaning that I want to do the activity in order to have the reward of filling in the little box with a block of colour.
I would suggest giving it a go if you need a little motivation to do something everyday.

The second week of January layout. Inspired by the plant based bride (on Youtube)

So now we are on to the second week (I realise now that I forgot to photograph the first week, I must get better at that!) and I’m still excited to use the book, I want to work and I want to put in the effort to make this year a good one.

I would highly recommend giving bullet journaling a go, you don’t need anything fancy, you don’t need a dotted notebook. A pen and a standard notebook would do. I have a bad habit of thinking that I need the “perfect” equipment in order to start something. But I’m slowly learning that getting started and earning some experience will do you better than any expensive set of pens.

I think my next update will be at the end of January, but feel free to let me know if you’d like more updates.

A New Year; Let’s Make This One Count

Good day dear reader.

Lots of things happened last year that made 2019 one of the most tumultuous in my memory: I quit my job…twice and am now back at the second place; I spent most of the year learning to drive and passed my test after three failed attempts; I faced a lot of time out of the house and with some serious insomnia along with struggling to keep my weight loss up in the face of all my stress, it meant that my writing and creative goals got put by the wayside.

Don’t get me wrong, I worked on a lot of interesting projects last year, but none of them went nearly as far as I wanted them to. This brings me to the new year. We’re starting a new decade and a lot has been lifted off my shoulders, so as far as I’m concerned, there is no longer any mitigating circumstances that stand in the way of me and my wonderful wife of 12 years (our anniversary was yesterday) achieving some long standing goals.

The SteadmanSociety team want to make 2020 the beginning of an active period in providing content. We have a wide variety of interests and hope to establish an eclectic community of like-minded people who can simply be together to share the ups and downs of life through the mediums we enjoy.

This year we hope to do four things:

  1. Challenge our writing skills by finishing and publishing at least one work of fiction;
  2. Begin streaming on twitch regularly, this will include gaming content, writing content and games development content;
  3. Start posting on our Youtube channel with slice of life updates, mainly just little videos to keep you clued in on how we are doing with our projects;
  4. Reach out to a wider community and hopefully prove we can keep you around!

This is a mission statement that me and Emma have really taken to heart over the holiday period. Christmas and new year are out of the way. It is time to work hard on the things we know we can achieve.

Join us then on our long road, we promise this year will be the best yet for SteadmanSociety.

Twitter: Here!

Instagram: @steadmansociety

Youtube: Here!

My First Cross Stitch – A Review

I have long been searching for a crafting hobby, a hobby that creates a result that appeals to both me and my family. I like to have a reason for spending time on things, which has limited me in the past (and still), so something that has a use is preferable to me. Last year I decided to get stuck in to knitting. I loved the idea of making jumpers and other items of clothing for both me and John as we as family. But it was not to be. After making a few things, including a blanket you will get to see in one of the following pictures, I noticed that my wrist hurt quite badly. So that put a stop to my knitting dreams.

Next I took a stab at needle felting, but the fibres get everywhere, I couldn’t quite get the hang of creating the result I wanted.

So nearing the end of the year I was feeling at a loss, I love to create things and give handmade gifts but I was just struggling to figure out what I wanted. Until, while watching a TV programme I saw something that tickled my fancy, cross stitch. It was on an episode of Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas, a contestant was making an advent calendar made of little hoops of cute cross stitch. And that was that, it triggered something and I knew that it was something that I could get my teeth into. But first I had to test whether my wrist was up to the task and that is where this kit comes in.

John, the wonderful husband that he is, took me to Hobbycraft and let me wobble back and forth for a long time between the many kits until I settled on this little Alpaca.

The kit plus an embroidery hoop

The kit comes with the threads (aka floss), a needle, the fabric flag and the wooden rod with which to hang the finished flag, as well as a little booklet containing the pattern and some instructions. Oh, and six little orange tassels to adorn the finished item.

The beginning of the project was a little difficult. Finding the middle proved to be tricky and the chart was a little unclear for me but once I was started it went well (though, I miss calculated the middle and had to shorten the legs!).

alpaca cross stitch in progress
Working on a cross stitch alpaca

Initially I used a hoop, but found it very annoying to use my needle inside such a small diameter and the design was a pain in the arse to get on. So after a little while I went freehand.

The finished Alpaca

It took me a few days to finish the kit, and it was fun. I got a bit excited an popped on the tassels before ironing it so I couldn’t get the ring out but, to be honest, I quite like the placement of it, I might add a ring of flowers along the line at some point.

And the best bit of all was I had no pain in my wrist! Which means that I can get into cross stitch fully! Although the product of cross stitch is decorative, I love the range which can be accomplished and I have ideas for my own patterns.

Now, to the kit as something that others may want to buy, I think that it is a cute design and the idea is great. However, the quality of the kit is a little lacking, well my particular kit. The flag was glued a little sloppily and fraying at points and there was a black mark I couldn’t get off. The outer packaging was also damaged, but that could be customers rather than the kits fault.

For a first kit, I think it would be good for someone who has watched videos on cross stitch and doesn’t mind fudging the design a little if they get it a little wrong. It’s good practise.

So that is my first cross stitch and my first review. I hope that it was somewhat informative and interesting to read. Let me know if there is anything that you would like to see, or format changes etc.

Coming up in 2020 are more reviews, short stories and my adventures into bullet journaling. I’ll see you soon!

The New Year

Christmas has come and gone, the New Year is before us. This time between the holidays is often a time of contemplation, a space to re-evaluate what has worked in the past and what we would like to change for the upcoming year. And here at Steadman Society we, too, are reviewing, and change is coming!
Along with fiction, we are branching out into posts about our hobbies, for me that means cross stitch (a new interest), and journaling, for John it is Warhammer and other gaming type things.
I think it’s going to be good for me in particular, a way to write more and to explore new angles of writing in an attempt to become more comfortable.
Over the last couple of months I have found myself slipping back into bad habits when it comes to writing which are stopping me from progressing again. A couple of set backs gave me an excuse and I kept slipping. But the New Year brings a new chance, a fresh start and an opportunity to start as we mean to go on, I mean to take it and to run with it!
For the time between Christmas and the New Year I’m working on getting rid of everything that we don’t use, things that have been sitting in drawers or getting in the way that are just gathering dust. We tried to do this earlier in the year but I always end up stopping or keeping things that I shouldn’t. But this time I am determined, sticking only to art, writing and cross stitch, everything else will be relocated to someone who will use it.
2019 was the year to get our eating habits sorted and to realise where our priorities lie and 2020 is going to be the year of getting things done!

Good luck to you and I hope that you have a wonderful and safe New Years.

Festive Feeling

Lights twinkle in the dark evening, illuminating parts of the tree. Round baubles dangle, chocolates hang, tempting, and silver bells jingle and jangle.
The heating is on, keeping the cold at bay as we sit enjoying the cosy night. Music and games, crafts and films.
It’s overwhelming, the feeling of Christmas, the joy we are supposed to feel, the family we are supposed to have and the parties we should be at. The life that is plastered all over, in film, and online. Sometimes in the act of comparing we forget how wonderful our lives actually are.
Experience your life, feel your feelings and enjoy the times and things which make you happy. Easier said than done, I am aware.
The lights twinkle in the night, illuminating parts of the tree. I sigh as I look at the wonderful sight and take it in before kissing my love.
We head off to bed, the room now dark, but waiting to see us again.

The End of NaNoWriMo

It is the end of NaNoWriMo and I did it!!

In the beginning I was so far behind and it took many days of multiple thousands of words to get to the end. But I proved to myself that I could/can do it.

How did everyone get on? Did you do it?

If you have not managed to get to fifty thousand words, do not despair! Nothing is a failure, it is all a lesson.

My story needs A LOT of work, I only got the very bare bones of the novel done. But it is going to be a great process of rewriting and making a cohesive first draft. However, I’m also looking forward to taking a break and trying to get ready for Christmas and to enjoy the wintry, dark times.

I will be getting back to posting stories here, I am hoping to get a little festive story up nearer to the solstice.

Overall Nano was a positive experience and I WON! I’m thinking of using the Scrivener reward and buying it at 50% off, does anyone have any experience with the software? Is it worth it?

Any hoo, time to rest my typing fingers and my dry eyes. Have a good weekend everyone!

NaNoWriMo Week Three

I am behind (what a shock) but feeling confident in my ability to get the words done. Today I’m aiming to get to thirty thousand words. The more that I am writing the story the more ideas and scenes are coming to mind. This month is going by so quickly, we are already well into week three. The end of the month is NEXT WEEK! Sorry for the shouting, but that is still sinking into my head.

My novel is going…well. My ideas are evolving as I carry on writing, problems are occurring and I’m tackling them as I encounter the plot holes. Since I began the month without much of a plan the details of my story hadn’t been worked out too well. But the basic idea was there and so far there have been a few blocks causing more pauses than would be ideal, but all told the flow of the story is going quite smoothly. Which is why I’m feeling confident in getting to fifty thousand words.

I have been a bit ill this week, hence the late weekly update. But I think that I’m getting better. Now, I must get back!

I hope that everyone is having a good weekend.