Wandering Away with My Uterus

Cover for My Wandering Uterus

A while ago I told you that my short story ‘In Search of Sorrow’ had been accepted for inclusion in the anthology titled ‘My Wandering Uterus’. I’m very excited about introducing you all to my new character ‘Sorrowful Jones’ and the anthology promises to be filled with interesting articles, poems and stories, all carefully curated by Kate Laity and H Byron Ballard.

My previous post looked at the history and mythology around the Wandering Uterus so I thought today I’d give a brief outline of how my story was accepted and the process to publication.

Sub to Pub

As so often happens, I saw the invitation for submissions on social media. I was intrigued by the title and decided to submit.

I carefully read and reread the submission guidelines. These can be a little vague and tricky (many places ask for stories to be for,attend in ‘the usual way’ but each have their own ‘usual’ style so it’s always important to check their preferences’).  Luckily Kate had been very clear with what she wanted so then it was a matter of writing the story!

I’d long been percolating a character, influenced in part by cowgirls in the ‘Wild West’ but who didn’t fight using guns. I’ve been listening to a lot of Amanda Palmer and so decided that my character would carry a ukulele. This being me, there would also be elements of the supernatural.

So, Sorrowful Jones was created!

I wrote my story, sent it to beta readers who also loved it, but who made a few suggestions about how to change things and picked up a couple of grammar mistakes. Multiple readings and more edits and I was happy with the story.

Then came the stressful part – submitting! After getting hubby to check my formatting, my story was flying through the internet. I obviously started hitting ‘refresh’ every two minutes on my email to see if it had been accepted. The waiting for acceptance/rejection is always the hardest part for me. I always think of it like Christmas where you have the expectation and excitement, then on the day you either get the pony you’ve always wanted or another naf jumper. Luckily for me, after waiting impatiently for weeks, I had the good news that Sorowful Jones would be out in the world.

Kate and Byron then had the unenviable job of editing each submission before deciding on the running order.  First edits are sent to the authors for their approval or rejection. More often than not, I accept the suggestions as they will often make my story sharper and ensure there there are no major plot holes. There’s also the grammar and spelling mistakes that I always manage to miss, despite my best efforts.

Once they’ve been returned, the stories are collated and checked before the final proofs are sent out. This is our final chance to check for typos or any strange formatting. I once had proofs sent which were fine in .pdf format but once they’d been put into the book formatting program had strange gaps, added spaces and blank pages! It’s a laborious process for all involved to check for mistakes and I remember a book agent once telling me that you can read and reread a piece but it’s not until it’s been printed that you’ll see a very obvious mistake, usually on page one.

So that’s in brief is the process of putting an anthology together. It’s a long process of putting a book together, but it’s exciting and different every time. Now, we’re trying to get the word out and generate interest before ‘P Day’. If you’d like a review copy, please contact Kate or Byron. Keep an eye out for more information and news, including where to meet different writers in the anthology at conferences and more.

If you’d like to read more about my Path to Publication, as well as some hints and tips for submitting your own work, click here.

While you’re waiting for ‘My Wandering Uterus’ to be published why not check out my other book of short stories ‘Weird Wild available now. (The link below is an affiliate link which means I may receive  small commission, at no added cost to you, if you purchase after clicking)

Make It Monday: Pipe Cleaner Monsters for Women In Horror Month

We love our arts and crafts here at Beagle HQ and as I’m celebrating Women In Horror Month, I was keen to get the toddler involved. We had painted a lot of ghosts for Halloween and I though it would be fun to do something a little more 3D.

Regular readers may remember the tissue box monster we made for Halloween and I was keen to use some of the materials again as I felt they gave a ‘monsterous’ look. Opening up her box of craft supplies we selected pipe cleaners, lolly sticks, feathers (because what monster isn’t scary when covered in feathers?), googly eyes and glue. I chose glue dots because nothing is more horrific (Sorry for the pun!) than trying to get PVA glue off the carpet (trust me on this. Also, acrylic paint which somehow made it UNDER the protective sheeting I had lain down).

Getting Monstrous

The toddler and I did a quick google for ‘pipe cleaner monsters’ and there are some great monsters out there! We were slightly stunned at others creativity (honestly, I never knew pipe cleaners could make such intricate and detailed creations!), but we weren’t intimidated. Drawing inspiration from her tiger and triceratops toys we got bendy, sticky and more than a little fluffy due to a feather explosion!

And here are our monsters! What do you think? There are no real instructions, we just folded, stuck, twisted and poked feathers in! I think they look really fun and the toddler was very engaged, happily sticking more feathers on to her tiger-monster. We looked at colours and had a little chat about how many eyes a monster needs, plus the important topic of what colour they should be! (The toddler sensibly opted for green, very monstrous, whilst I had a mix).

But still feeling ghostly….

I’ve also been desperate to try marking Pom Poms as I have fond memories of making them as a child. I was excited when I found ‘blue bear wood’s blog featuring these adorable Pom Pom monsters. There were loads of photos and the instructions were very clear. We”ve been feeling quite ghostly so I thought we’d try to make a ghost. Pom Pom duly wound, the toddler was in charge of cutting the wool, which she loved but rapidly lost interest when it came to tying and adding the eyes, although she did like the finished ‘ghost’.

So that’s it for this weeks craft. What are you working on?

I hope you liked our project and if so, check out our other Make It Monday posts.

Make it Monday: St Brigid’s Cross

Finished St Brigid's Cross

Saint Brigid is one of the patron saints of Ireland. There is speculation that she’s a continuation of the pagan goddess for spring and certainly, she is now associated with the protection of animals and her feast day falls on Imbolc, the start of spring. She is also the patron saint of poetry, arts and crafts which is one of the reasons I was interested in marking her feast day and making a Saint Brigid’s Cross.

Scissors, string and raffia to make St Brigid's Cross

The cross itself is traditionally made from straw, but because we didn’t have any we used paper raffia, which worked fairly well, although next time we would glue the pieces together once they were in place to stop them moving around so much.

Pieces of raffia

We measured  30cm pieces of raffia and the toddler was very excited that she was able to cut them. I then folded the strands in half, leaving us with sixteen strands of raffia measuring 15cm. Then it was on to weaving! This proved rather more fiddly than I had anticipated, probably due to the raffia not being as stiff as straw would be and the pieces kept moving. I found it helped if I placed the cross on the table and held the centre, twisting it as I added more layers. Unfortunately, because it was a little fiddly, the toddler did lose interest and I was left to weave on my own.

Weaving a St Brigids Cross

Most of the instructions I looked at were the same, with the central four straws woven together to form a square, then additional straws added to build up the cross. You can add as many ‘layers’ as you want, but I chose four, one for each member of the house. Here’s the link to Colorful Crafts whose instructions I used. I found them very clear and there were lots of photographs to follow. There are loads of different shapes which can be woven and next year we may try a triangle or star.

Did you celebrate Imbolc or make a St Brigid’s Cross? Let me know in the comments below.

‘My Wandering Uterus’ Wandering onto your bookshelf soon!

Cover for My Wandering Uterus

I’m very excited to announce that my short story ‘In Search of Sorrow’ will be published in an anthology titled ‘My Wandering Uterus’, edited by Kate Laity and H Byron Ballard with the stunning cover by SL Johnson.

My Wandering Uterus

The history of the wandering uterus is very long, starting in the Greek period. It relates to ‘women’s maladies’ whereby any illness or ‘hysteria’ experienced by a woman would be linked to her uterus. Greek physicians, including Hippocrates, believed that the uterus was a free-floating creature, an ‘animal within an animal‘, which would cause different symptoms depending on where it was in the body. Indeed, the term ‘hysteria‘ was coined to describe the action and symptoms of women, and comes from the Greek word for uterus ‘hysterika’. This paper by Terri Kapsalis on the Literary Hub looks at the history of the Wandering Uterus and how belief in women’s hysteria has perpetuated to the modern day. Kapsalis argues that the idea is so ingrained in our collective psyche that it will frequently be used to dismiss women’s role in society, undermine their skills and negate their freedoms. It’s a very interesting article and I recommend you take a few minutes to read it.

In Search of Sorrow

‘In Search of Sorrow’ is a short story, featuring my new leading lady, Sorrowful Jones. I’m really excited to explore her world more fully and am planning a series of short, interconnected stories which I’ll publish later this year (hopefully!). I don’t reveal too much of Sorrowful’s back story here, but she’s a traveller who is searching for women in need of her help. I’ve drawn a lot on our own travels when building the world of Sorrowful Jones, from her poncho which is woven with animals like those I saw in Peru, to some of the more supernatural ideas from Japan and South East Asia which I’ll explore more in the book.

I’ll keep you updated as to when ‘My Wandering Uterus’ will be published and also my progress with the rest of the book. I can’t wait for you to join Sorrowful Jones and me on the road.


How many scarves can I knit from one ball of wool?

Rowan wool

How beautiful is this Rowan alpaca wool? I bought a ball with my first royalty payment from Fox Spirit Books and if you can fall In love with wool, well that’s what happened. I decided I needed to find the perfect knitting project for such a pretty wool. However, I couldn’t settle on just one pattern and ended up trying several before finally creating my own pattern. Keep scrolling to see my different attempts and my final scarf.

Rowan wool
Look at the detail in the fibres!

The First Attempt

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

I was relatively new to knitting so started with this simple stitch (knit one, yarn over, knit two together, repeat) in order to make a scarf. But quickly realised one ball of wool would produce a very small scarf. Back to the drawing board!

The Gallatin

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

This is easily one of my favourite knitting patterns. From Kris Basta the Gallatin Scarf is fairly simple and quick to knit, I’ve even made some for gifts. Armed with my needles, I bought another ball of the alpaca wool and set to work. I was pleased with the final result as the detailing at the bottom was really pretty. However, unlike the pattern which uses a fine wool, the alpaca wool is chunky which meant it didn’t drop as nicely as the others I made. So I ripped it out and looked for a new pattern.

Learning to Knit Hearts

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

Apologies for the photo from my Instagram feed (@bluebeaglebaby) but the house ghosts have moved the original. I kept seeing this heart scarf pattern and was very keen to try it. It’s a lovely pattern and I made a version in a chunky red wool for a friend but as you can see from the photo, the alpaca wool curled at the sides and refused to lay flat so it was once again ripped out.

Things Get Frilly

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

This was my first attempt at writing my own pattern. Still relatively new to knitting so it was a very simple pattern but I wanted to try a new edging technique and create ‘waves’. I was pleased with the final result, although the edges curled in, as frequently happens with stockinette stitch and I also really liked the frilled bottom: it will be a technique I use again in future patterns. However, the finished scarf was shorter than I’d hoped which I was surprised about as it’s 150metres of wool! Due to the length and the curled edges, I decided to keep looking for another pattern and ripped it out again.

If you’d like to try the pattern, here it is:

  • Using your chosen wool and appropriate needles, cast on 60 stitches
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Stitch two stitches together for the entire row, leaving 30 stitches
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Knit one, yarn over, knit two together for the entire row
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Repeat to desired length
  • After your last set of knit one, yarn over, knit two together and ten rows of stockinette knit one, make one using your chosen method (I like the knit front to back method but yarn over would also work). You should now have 60 stitches
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Cast off and weave in all the ends.

Simple! Hope you like the pattern. It’s not been tested so if you have any queries, comment below and make sure you post photos here or tag me on Instagram (@bluebeaglebaby)

Then I Learned to Crochet

Crochet scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

Over the summer I learned to crochet. For some reason, crochet was a skill which I struggled to learn, with most of my attempts looking like weirdly shaped clumps of wool or sort-of triangles. Luckily I found some really useful YouTube channels and the very helpful Planet June website which has helped me enormously.

I’ve quickly fallen in love with crochet and find the range of things I can make very inspiring, from appliqué which I use in creating greeting cards, hats and scarves (I made a Sarah and Duck inspired set for my daughter) and assorted Amigurumi. My daughter loves my creations and keeps asking me to make her different creatures, from a sea cow (another Sarah and Duck inspiration) to a wolf. I’m hoping to perfect my pattern, then more of my amigurami creatures will be offered for sale in my shop.

But back to the scarf. It’s worked completely in half double crochet stitch and you just need to know how to increase and decrease. As with my other patterns, it simple, quick to make and easily customisable. Below is the pattern for the headband but to make the scarf, simply add twenty stitches. Use chunky wool and a 6mm crochet hook.

  • Chain 10
  • HDC in second stitch from hook (9)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC increase in first and last stitches (11)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC increase in first and last stitches (13)
  • Chain 2. HDC into second stitch from the edge of your work, creating a gap. Chain one, then skip a stitch and HDC into the next stitch. Continue to the end of the row. You should have a row with 6 spaces
  • Chain two and HDC into the first space (ie. through the hole, not into the stitch). Chain 1 then HDC into the next space. Continue to the end of the row
  • Continue until the piece measures approximately 45cm but try the headband on and adjust to fit your head accordingly
  • When the piece of long enough, Chain 1 then HDC in each of the stitches (not the spaces this time)  (13)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC decrease in first and last stitches (11)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC decrease in first and last stitches (9)
  • Bind off and leave a long tail for sewing the ends together
  • Sew the edges together and decorate with your favourite buttons.

For the scarf, the pattern is the same except the row after the increase or decreases I did a row of HDC. Hope you like the pattern. It’s untested but if you do make it, leave a photo below or tag me in on Instagram (@bluebeaglebaby)

Crochet scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water

I’m really enjoying learning to crochet. For some reason my brain didn’t ‘get it’ for ages, despite being shown by friends and associates, all I could make was uneven triangles.

I recently spent some time learning (thanks to a charity shop crochet kit and YouTube!) and have been experimenting a lot, writing my own patterns and learning to make appliqué as well as amigurami characters. I’ll be showcasing my makes here and welcome commissions. This little shark was made for my husband, a huge shark enthusiast. What do you think?

Comment below or email bluebeaglebaby (at) gmail.com for more info or follow me on Instagram @bluebeaglebaby


Make it Monday: Monster Tissue Box

One of my favourite things to do on a lazy day with the Lamb is to look briefly at my ‘Toddler Craft’ board on Pintrest & see what project she chooses.

Last week she was really taken with this photo of ‘tissue box monsters’ (apologies, I’ve looked to see if there’s a link to a website but can’t see one). 

It was super simple and it was lovely to see the Lamb’s imagination run wild. Firstly we gathered our materials, and we were very lucky that it was the day before the recycling was collected so we had plenty of egg boxes and tissue boxes to use, plus some pipe cleaners, felt balls, paint, paper and glue.

The Lamb kept referring back to the original photo but her imagination really ran wild as she painted the mouth black, added fuzzy balls inside, wanted yellow horn and chose bobbly eyes for him. It was really fun, messy and creative. I was surprised at how long it took as the Lamb took a lot of care painting and considering what to add next. 

And now her monster is pride of place on the mantelpiece. 

Have you made a tissue box monster? What decorations are you making for Halloween? 

Make It Monday: Birthday Shenanigans Part 2 ‘Sarah & Duck’

I crocheted the Lamb a ‘Sarah’ doll and Sarah’s favourite animal, a sea cow.

We recently celebrated the Lamb’s third (THIRD!!) birthday. She’s heavily into dinosaurs at the moment so I had planned a dinosaur theme for her birthday. However, as always, the best laid plans for scuppered when two weeks before her birthday, she announced she wanted a ‘Sarah and Duck’ theme. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Sarah and Duck is a charming and quirky cartoon featuring a young girl ‘Sarah’, her friend ‘Duck’ who lives with her and a plethora (I really don’t use the word ‘plethora’ enough. Plethora. Love it) of interesting characters, from ‘Scarf Lady’ who is perpetually knitting and her grumpy knitting bag, Umbrella who doesn’t like the rain, Bug who collects buttons, Plate Girl, Ribbon Sisters, the list goes on.

Which luckily means there are a huge number of characters to draw inspiration from. As we do every birthday, we decorated our fireplace.

With help from the Lamb, we made pom-poms. Pom-poms are a craft I’d been looking forward to doing with the Lamb for a while. It’s very simple and mess-free, plus we loved throwing our pom-poms in the air. Their ‘bed’ was actually a cleaned out croissant tray and we shredded some brown packing paper to make soil. We stuck some eyes on the pom-poms, then it was a case of ‘Hello!’, ‘Hello!’, ‘Hello!’, ‘Ahoy!’

Duck was another toddler-friendly craft with lots of tissue paper stuck onto a cardboard duck. Sometimes the simple crafts are the most fun and effective.

Next up was the paper chains, because it’s not a birthday without paper chains. I found an umbrella shaped hole punch in Tiger (I’ve seen them in multiple stores) and set to work. ‘Umbrella’ in Sarah and Duck is red so I tried different methods of creating a red umbrella. Finally I opted to punch strips of yellow paper, then highlight the holes with red paper, which I think created a lovely effect. It was time consuming but looked pretty good, although I cut the red backing paper a little too narrow so from the back it looked a little messy. The Lamb didn’t mind though.

Another view of the paper chains and the paint blown ‘Moon’ to created a few weeks ago.

In one episode Sarah’s plant isn’t too well. It turns out that ‘Bug’ has been storing buttons in the flower pot. Sarah makes Bug a ‘Button’ bank so I filled a jar with my most colourful buttons and added a label. I think Bug would really like this little Bank, don’t you?

Some paper lanterns became ‘Moon’ and ‘Venus’ and more tissue paper helped create ‘Flamingo’ .

And of course, what would a birthday be without ‘Cake’. Fans of the show will know the talkative cake was make for Duck but ended up helping ‘Bread Man’ in his shop. And what flavour was the cake? Lemon drizzle of course!

Does your little one like Sarah and Duck? Have you thrown a Sarah and Duck themed party? Let me know!

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