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  • Debra Palmen

Sawasdee Kha!


Guess where we are?

Sawasdee kha! Greetings from Bangkok!

Because, yes, we’re on a buying trip. An emergency buying trip. When I’ve told visitors to our pop-up shop It’s an emergency – I must go to Paris, I’ve received no sympathy whatsoever. How unkind. But because things are going sufficiently well it became clear pretty quickly that if we didn’t dash off to Europe to buy new things, we’d be running on empty very soon.

Now the deal is that we’ll stay in the pop-up shop until the end of March 2020. Wow, that’s a super long “temporary” shop. Poor Calypso and I aren’t used to going to work every day. Almost every day. Okay four days a week. And two hours on a Saturday. But the benefit of being linked with Old Barn Café is that it’s open seven days a week, so when we’re not there the lovely café staff take care of sales for us.

Whatever we find on this trip will arrive in Australia in late December, then we’ll unpack like the wind and hopefully have lots of lovely things to offer just before Christmas. Then we’ll back into our normal routine of having a pop-up shop in Jan/Feb/March.

I’d forgotten how time-consuming running a shop is. When I’m not physically there I’m at home preparing things to come in. So I’m getting only the most essential writing done. I’ve met my deadlines for the magazine articles – Editors tend to be very unforgiving about missing deadlines – but almost everything else has been relegated to the Go Slow column.

And talking about my immoveable deadlines, the latest edition of Antiques & Collectables for Pleasure & Profit magazine is now out. If you have an interest, it’s Australia’s premier magazine for all things antique and vintage and is sold in most news agents. In this edition there’s an excerpt of the Cheese chapter from my book The Foodies Guide to Antiques & Collectables (slowly in progress), the next in my new Under the Hammer series featuring interesting things recently offered in auction houses around the country, and the latest of my Secret Source articles, this time all about shopping and sightseeing in York (UK). I thought that article was going into the December edition, but that’s because I’m a timetable numpty. So now I have to work on a new Secret Source article for the December edition, and I’m thinking I might write about Macau.

But meanwhile editing Fabulous Beasts & How to Collect Them is proceeding at a glacial pace. I’m currently cutting down the Dragonflies chapter so it can be excerpted in the December edition of the magazine, and then it’s on to doing a full-on line edit of the Dragons chapter.

One of the Rules of Writing is that you’re not supposed to do your own editing, but I’ve done enough editing for others to know I can jolly well do it for myself. So, tedious as it is, I’m not paying someone else to do what I can do myself. The cost is speed, though, because it needs to be done carefully for the best product and I’m fitting it in when I can. Fingers are still crossed for a November publication date, though.

Calypso’s book Sink or Swim is now firming up for a November publication date, too. The deadline on this book has slipped and slipped, over issues I have no control over, but I’m still thrilled with what we’re producing. If it doesn’t work it will be entirely my fault because Anticia the illustrator is creating exactly what I’m asking of her.

Here’s a sneak peek of the back cover. It gives readers an idea of what this book is about, and more broadly the underlying message of the whole series. I’m endeavouring to produce cute little stories about a cat and her girl that are actually about strength, empowerment and overcoming your fears and the obstacles life presents. I’ve decided to not go ahead with the Go Fund Me campaign until Sink or Swim is finished and I’ve got something to show people. I’m hoping that showing potential supporters a quality product might make them feel more confident about supporting Book 2, That was Zen, this is Meow.

Okay, the reason we’re in Bangkok right now is that I need to get my hair straightened. They do an excellent job and it lasts for 6-7 months. Every morning I’ll jump out of bed, swish my hair left and right in slow motion, just like a shampoo commercial, and I’ll be set to go. Goodbye frizz (for a while). Can’t wait! So I’m off to spend the next four hours in a hairdresser’s chair, getting my head Nuked. But it will be worth it. Doug says just in case, he's brought a beanie for me.

Next Newsletter will come to you from sunny London. I’ll have 22 days in France and England to find 1000 excellent things. Can it be done? Stay tuned. It’s a tough call, even for an experienced buyer. But who doesn’t love a challenge?


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