A Gap Year; or, all work and no play makes Jackie a dull woman.


Cat and East of Sun

Having finished the artwork for the Kids Need to Read calendar in the USA now all I have to do is complete the art for A Song of the Golden Hare on time. This will involve working 7 days a week and all through Christmas. As a result I have decided that when I finish the artwork and hand it over I am going to take what I believe is called a ‘Gap Year’.

During this time I am going to work on paintings, on developing my skills with wood engraving, have the odd day here and there learning, playing with silver too. I am going to go and watch hares, find someone who can teach me to play with rock, and I am going to write.

And I am also going to wander around Britain promoting my books and reading to who so ever will have me. And this is where my friends in the blog world and on facebook can help. What I am proposing to do is to travel, from Orkney to Cornwall doing readings and working in schools and with independent bookshops. I will read to play groups, women’s groups, men’s groups, Women’s Institutes, Rotary Clubs, book groups, even private dinner parties if there are 20 or so people, for groups of friends in village halls, in zoos, in libraries, in theatres, in galleries, in taverns and halls all over the land and at the end of the evening I will pass around a hat for contributions towards travel expenses. At each event I would like a local independent bookshop to be involved to sell books.

I am happy to work in schools, but this will be for a fee and again I will only come if the school send out letters in advance and work with an independent bookshop to build sales before hand and have an after school event with parents and children where books are for sale.

So, if you have a few friends and fancy making a lovely meal, and having stories read to you afterwards, or maybe have in mind a celebration where tales can be told and books can be read, or if you have a creative writing group and want a speaker get in touch with your local independent bookshop and talk to them about whether they are interested, then get in touch. It will be a serious challenge with logistics. I am fairly certain that a trip to Cornwall is on the cards and I know that I will be wanted in the Lake District, and I will start by making my way to Bishops Stortford in February, via Cover to Cover in the Mumbles. What happens after depends on my friends in the blog world and on facebook, so please help me to spread the word, copy this blog post, tweet it, link to it from your facebook pages.

I have a novel coming out in February, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and I am Cat is out now. I will be traveling by dragon, I will be bringing a tiger and now and again there will perhaps be a dog or a cat and maybe a drum.

And when I am not traveling around I will be happy in my studio, painting and thinking and writing and engraving.

second desk with engraving tools.


About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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25 Responses to A Gap Year; or, all work and no play makes Jackie a dull woman.

  1. Shari Schnuelle says:

    This sounds marvelous — you will be recharging, going deep and connecting. I am glad for you!

  2. Lisa Igo says:

    Please, please come here, to Burton Latimer, or to one of the festivals we do?! Schools, art club and local gallery or creative cafe in a field, that would be great! X

    • Jackie says:

      People have to organise the event and invite me Lisa, but only with the connection of working with a bookshop. As I said, it will take some organising! Where is Burton Latimer? Would be great to do events in a cafe. There would be cake and stories and coffee!

      • Lisa Igo says:

        Jackie, we are in Northamptonshire, the land of Weetabix and Princess Diana, east of Oxford and west of Cambridge. I will see what I can organise. I used to sell books but I struggled to make a living from it. Brilliant idea and excited about it.

        • Jackie says:

          Blog it, tweet it, lets get a buzz going. Need to spread the word so people who get it really get it! Looking forward to doing some really different gigs in really different places. Even fancy a go at busking books.

  3. I will see what our head has in the budget. I don’t know whether we can do anything practical there. However Ross Bradshaw (Five Leaves Publishing) and Jane Streeter (Lowdham Books) run the Lowdham book festival. It is a wonderful local festival supported by an amazing independent bookseller and small publisher. If they do not already have next years running list organised I would expect them to jump at the opportunity to support you.

    Sadly we have nearly lost all our independents here in Nottingham, Jane battles on by being better and working harder. Our friend, who ran the Bakewell Bookshop, gave it up last year and sold off the business. However there is still the wonderful Rhyme and Reason in Sheffield (Eccleshall Road) one of the most lovely children’s bookshops in our area.

    • Jackie says:

      I think the Frances Lincoln rep has talked to them before so may be worth giving the Rhyme and Reason a nudge. If i am going to Shropshire they could join in on that part of my travels.

      • Maryom says:

        Lowdham would be brilliant as we can come over and see you. As I’ve told you before we have NO independent bookstores in Derby though I wonder if Scarthin Books at Cromford might be interested.

  4. Rick Connolly says:

    Oooh, Cornwall – yes please!

    I bet Catherine H will be pleased too đŸ™‚

  5. Mo Crow says:

    oh what an exciting thing to do Jackie, you shine girl! wondering who I can convince to get you out here for a reading in the Land Down Under!

  6. Sonia Hawes says:

    You do realise Bishops Stortford is about 250 miles from Mumbles and only about 70 from Burton Latimer, I’ll pass you details to an art gallery in Daventry (about 30miles from Burton Latimer) which sometimes has book events though isn’t a bookshop – would that help? or Brackley’s Old Hall Book Shop which is about the same distance

    • Jackie says:

      Yes, but I can meander my way in a ziggy zaggy dragon wagon fashion. I now have From on the list too, but for March! Galleries are good. Just need an audience and the books.

  7. James Mayhew says:

    Blimey! What a cracking idea. Sounds like MUCH harder work than illustrating. I’m not sure I’d call it a gap year. More like a marathon! But I think you and I have reached simular conclusions… and I will mention you to anyone who will listen. Oh, and anyone who gets to hear her: You are in for a treat because this woman is a LEGEND. Best of luck Jackie (who could never be dull!) xxx

    • Jackie says:

      Do you think you might talk to Heffers James? Would be great to do something with them.And please feel free to mention it on your blog. That would be lovely. Glad people are beginning to realise my tongue was in my cheek when I said I was having a year off. But I do want to travel and I do want to stop the relentless work on books that I have been doing.

  8. Jackie this sounds like a wonderful idea and I would love to invite you to our bookshop/gallery in Exmoor – Number Seven, Dulverton. I know that you follow our blog and have kindly shared our news via Facebook so you know who and where we are plus of course we already sell your books along side Catherine’s and Tamsin’s work.

    We have a great kitchen with a log fire perfect for reading and signing books by – not sure how many little bottoms we could fit on the floor although we have hosted storytelling and book signings in the past. If you would like to read to a larger audience perhaps that could happen else where? I have ideas spinning in my head…

    I know your plans are in the very early stage but let us help you put a pin in Exmoor’s map.
    Look forward to hearing from you and happy to discuss any ideas you may have.
    In the meantime happy painting!

    • Jackie says:

      I think that might be on the way to Cornwall, so yes, would love to come. Will add you to the map and see if I can get the mad cats to sort out a schedule. Do you have any idea of when?

  9. Oh Fantastic! I shall Look forward to seeing you – I’m sure our customers will too. We are pretty easy when it comes to dates at present so depends on your schedule…plus the more lead time to spread the word always helps. A Saturday would be good if possible?
    How best to communicate re ideas, dates and times – e mail, phone?
    Look forward to planning what will be a very special event.
    Best wishes

  10. Freyalyn says:

    What a wonderful idea – to turn sideways to your life and see what happens! I can’t immediately think of anything that I can help to organise myself, but I shall try to get to anything that’s remotely in my area. What fun!

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  13. Jane Moody says:

    Brilliant idea Jackie! I know you’ve been to Monmouth fairly recently (where you met the cats’ aunts) but I’m sure Rossiter’s would be interested in getting involved. I’m happy to host tea/cakes at my house. I’m in Oxford right now but will see who I can talk to when I get back home at the weekend.

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