Soon back to normal

There are only 2 more weeks, including this one, of disrupted living with the poet working up in Scotland. He’s shortening his weeks up there to 3 days, then he may just do an overnight the week after next. But there’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

On Friday we just chilled.

On Saturday we took the dog to see if he liked our new home. He loved bouncing through the fields in the long grass and we had a walk around the lake too.

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Sometimes it gets quite busy here … sometimes there might be as many as 3 fishermen … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We did some shopping, we half got ready to go out, then we supervised a viewing over at the other house.

On Saturday evening we finished getting ready and then went over to Sheffield to celebrate our friends’ wedding, who got married in Kos a few weeks ago. It really was like a who’s who of the local music scene at their party. We were able to put names to new faces of people we hadn’t yet met via the gig list, and – best of all – I was able to catch up with all of my lovely friends from my Bellhouse Road WMC days (before they closed it).

Sunday was supposed to be a chill day too, but son #1 was starting to get desperate for a half-decent telly, so we took one of our spares and the spare microwave over to his new house, had a look around, then drove him over to the poet’s parents. There he took the dog for a walk while we had something to eat. And then we dropped him back before going home ourselves.

On our way there we went back to the new house again to take some pictures, so we had something to show the family. And we timed how long the trip would take from there to poet’s son #1, poet’s daughter and poet’s parents. We also did the run from his usual work … that was down from 40 minutes to 4 minutes …

This morning I dropped him off at the station again before coming back and doing a load of online/IT stuff.

I have a new book to start editing this afternoon, and I want to grease the writing muscle some more. Once we do move, I’m already getting ideas for articles. It’s nice to see the freelance muscle doesn’t need that much oiling from that side of things.

What are you up to this week?

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Our new back yard …

On Wednesday we received the news that we’re able to move into our new home at the end of November. This means that, all of a sudden, we’re a helluva lot busier than we already have been of late, and we’re going to have a lot to pay out. This, of course, means that we need to preserve and collect as much dosh as we can whilst also packing boxes and bags and leaving this house as clean and tidy as the poet found it.

This will be the second time I’ve moved house in under 12 months. I’m not planning on moving again for a while. But at least it’s one thing ticked off the list of things to do.

Yesterday evening we had a viewer at the other house, and we have another tomorrow evening. If we get an offer over there, it means things are really starting to move or, as the poet says, the planets are aligning. But there’s a whole loft over there still that needs emptying. All of my old self-employment finance records are up there for a start, but a lot of it can be burned. I can’t leave it there, though.

This coming weekend we have relatively free time. It’s my dad’s birthday tomorrow, but as we had him last weekend and took him to Pickering, we won’t be going down. The poet initially had a gig booked anyway. That was subsequently cancelled, but swiftly replaced by a wedding I wanted to go to but couldn’t because he was working.

The poet’s #1 son was coming yesterday to collect some spare furniture for his new house, but his van driver let him down again. We’ve had to tell him now that by the end of November, the furniture needs to be gone as we won’t have access to the garage its all in any more.

We’ve had another fairly busy week. I shifted 3 jobs and most of a 4th for one client, so that meant working into the evening on a couple of occasions. The poet was still in Scotland – he only has 2 weeks left, and those are only part-weeks – but he’s not been very well at all with his asthma.

So we’re going to have some chill time this weekend, the wedding, some packing/clearing time and a visit to his parents in Doncaster.

I’ll leave you with a hint of the view we’ll be enjoying from our new home in just a few weeks. Enjoy.

awful

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Diary of a scaredy cat, 15 October 2014

It’s been exactly 2 weeks since my last diary of a scaredy cat, and not a lot has changed since then.

This is mostly due to feeble excuses, but also due to ill health – with both of us – and lack of time. The poet is still working in Scotland, so I’ve been taking him to the station and picking him up again. We’ve both had “a bit of a throat” for the best part of a fortnight. I had to virtually frog-march him to the doctor. We’ve had company. We’ve had visiting to do. We’ve been viewing property or escorting viewers around property or entertaining workmen. And the poet has had 2 gigs too.

I’ve not managed the walks report even, due to no walk reports coming in. And blogging has been pretty sparse too.

Anyway, enough of excuses. Much of this is still going on, but I also need to earn money.

Editing

I currently have in 3 brand new books for editing. One is already started, one was sent to me in June but never arrived. I’m awaiting Book Two of one of the Great War books already in production. And I have in 4 books, all awaiting revision/checking.

This is my bread-and-butter day-job work.

NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is just 2½ weeks away, so I’m now “in training”. I have the following books loaded onto my Kindle for support, advice, ideas and exercises. Click on the images to be taken to Amazon UK.

Are there any books or courses or websites that you use to help you write a book or a novel? Or do you just sit down, get on with it, and do it?

I’ll let you know how I get along with these. Also keep an eye on the sidebar, where there’s a new picture and a new word meter.

book in a month nail your novel novel in 6 months write a thon novel in 30 days

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40s weekend, Pickering

It’s my dad’s birthday this coming weekend and he’s always wanted to go to the 40s weekend at Pickering. So this year, we decided to take him. Mom was supposed to be coming too, but as she wasn’t really up to the trip, my sister stayed with her and my dad came to stay with us for a few days.

We picked Dad up Friday night, and headed off to Pickering first thing Saturday morning. There we had a wander round before jumping on a steam train to Goathland. We stopped for something to eat and then caught the steam train back.

Rufus didn’t like being cooped up on a train much, especially as he could see all of those fields through the window. But he was okay. We got back home exhausted but happy Saturday evening, having enjoyed a lovely day out.

Here are a few pictures, all taken by Ian Wordsworth.

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GI-Phone …

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Dad loved the house and when we took him to see the one we hope to get, he fell in love with that one too.

Sadly, we had to take Dad home a day early as the poet hasn’t been very well. He (the poet) had quite a bad asthma attack that lasted for several days, so we got him to the doctor yesterday, and he’s had it confirmed – his asthma has worsened and it’s not going to get any better. At least he has more medication for it, though, so we should be able to control it more.

This morning as I was driving back from dropping him off at the railway station for another return visit to Scotland, I was chased by a client over a job he sent in June … Only I never received the job in June. Now this is going to be a bit of a rush job, but at least it’s a new job. That means I have enough to keep me going now for a few weeks, with 3 brand new edits and 4 lots of revisions on previous edits to crack on with.

I also have writing to do, with short material needing to go off to earn its keep and NaNoWriMo just around the corner. I’d best, er, crack on, then.

Enjoy the pictures. :-)

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Lots going on

We have an awful lot going on at the moment here in Baggins Bottom, and we seem to be chasing our own tails trying to keep up with everything. But we’re managing, and we know that all of the hard work will pay off in the end.

For example, we’re planning a wedding, and not in this country. We’re also planning the honeymoon – also not in this country. We’re selling a house, or renting if it it doesn’t shift. We’re looking for a new place to live of our own. We’re trying to encourage my parents to move somewhere more suitable, house-hunting for them, and we’re visiting them too – in Birmingham – and the poet’s parents, in Doncaster. My dad is coming for a visit for a few days while my sister stays with our mom. We’re taking him on a birthday celebration weekend, so we’re sorting that too. And Monkey Dust has been busy with gigs just recently as well.

And, of course, the poet is still working in Scotland. I’m still dropping him off and picking him up at/from the station. He’s still spending more time than he’d like away from home doing a job that wasn’t really his career choice and hoping it’s coming to an end in the next few weeks, when he’ll be working locally again. We’re also keeping the gig list going throughout all of this, which can be hard work too.

Neither of us is particularly very well at the moment either. We both have a bit of a throat, but he’s full of cold too. So that’s not helping at all.

BUT, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re so going to enjoy it when it finally gets here.

Aside from all of this, and keeping a 3-storey house running, I also have work too. And I need to be shifting that quickly so that we can pay for all of the stuff mentioned above.

I think we deserve a very nice holiday at the end of it all, but I need to crack on. It’s already dinner time (lunch time) and I don’t seem to have done anything at all, and I have 2 books in to edit and quite a few author/proofreader revisions on books already edited.

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Diary of a scaredy cat, 1 October 2014

I was so disappointed with my lack of writerly progress last week on my own stuff, that I immediately pulled out some of the stops. And I managed to do some writing work every week day. In between, or actually around about, I also shifted some day job work.

Editing work
Most of last week was spent doing the hard copy edits on the 95,000-word historical novel. On Thursday I also had a chat with lovely already boss, and he immediately sent me 2 new jobs to keep me going until his next big one came in.

Last Thursday I pitched for 13 editing or proofreading jobs, and I decided that any job that came in under $50 would be rejected (by me). My minimum rate in the UK is already £50 (apx $80), and the job board work also includes fees and conversion costs. This was initially $30, but it’s just not worth the time to me. I don’t think it will be long before I’m raising it again to $100.

This week I completed the electronic edits on the historical novel and sent it back to the client at 10:20pm last night. Today I print off the first of the 2 new jobs and start the hard copy edits on that one.

Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book One (BBBBB1) ebook
I revisited the Word file of this with a view to strip out all of the formatting so I can start to ebook-ise it. I was delighted to see that I’d already gifted my future self with this job, and it’s already ready for me to start work.

I’ve downloaded the formatting guides for ebooks to my Kindle and have been reading up on that.

Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book Two (BBBBB2)
Last Wednesday afternoon, after my disastrous, non-existent writing progress report, I copied the initial material from the blog into a new Word file and removed all of 2006 from public viewing. I have a lot of editing to do, but it currently sits at 109,378 words, and the first one was just under 43,000 words.

Once I’ve decided what I’m keeping, I shall gift my future self once again with a stripped out raw copy of this file, so when I’m ready to take it to ebook, it’s also ready to go.

Catch the Rainbow
I do keep stalling on this one, and when I realised that once the bombing was out of the way this was just going to be a bit pastoral, I vowed to just do it, get on with it, and play with it once I had a completed product. This week, however, I had a bit of a brain murmur, and I think I now know how to add that extra spark(le). I’ve been discussing it with the poet, and he thinks I’ve come up with a good idea.

So the next few weeks will be spent reading how other authors have tackled what I want to do, and finding out where I need to go for the additional research. I’m not going to do any more research before I actually start. As with Night Crawler, I think I’ll just write the first draft, and then see where the research gaps are, and fine tune it then.

The Beast Within
Some of the foundations for Catch the Rainbow will be set down in The Beast Within, despite the former taking place more than 30 years before the latter. But the idea I’ve come up with for CTR will also provide meat for TBW, so I’m hoping the two complement each other as I work on them side-by-side.

Short writing work
On Monday I polished the final draft of a short filler and sent it off to the Guardian. On Tuesday I wrote the weekly walks report and sent it off to 6 local newspapers.

Publicity and marketing
Last Thursday I spent time creating a new page on the blog devoted to books I’ve worked on other than for Pen & Sword. You can see that page here and I’ll be adding to it just as soon as I have time to hunt down where the books can be bought. I also added a few more books to the Pen & Sword page, which you can see here.

Everything else
On Friday, I republished 2 books to Smashwords as my exclusivity to Kindle is coming to an end. You can see my Smashwords page here.

I’ve also started a new book, which is another collation, this time of published fillers and RTEs all relating to my Memories of a 70s Child, possibly with a few extras that haven’t been published. At the moment, this book stands at 3,563 words, so still a way to go on that one.

There, now. Isn’t that a bit better? :-)

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Hectic times

We’re having a very busy life here in Baggins Bottom. Both of us have been busy one way or the other, with the poet on his way to Scotland again this morning.

He started to feel better on Friday after a good rest and some medication. Thanks to everyone who sent him good wishes. He was able to come out with me for an hour, and then he had a gig Friday night in Doncaster, which went very well considering.

On Saturday we drove down to Birmingham as we were taking Mom and Dad out to see something. They seemed to like what they saw, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that they’re able to do something about it.

On Saturday evening we had another gig. this time more locally. A few of our friends came to this one and we had a good time.

On Sunday we treated ourselves to brunch out and did some shopping. Once that was put away, the poet relaxed some more on the settee, and I finished off some loose ends with work. He even cooked us a nice lamb dinner.

I finished all of the hard copy edits on the historical novel and today I hope to clear the electronic edits. Then I start the first of a new hard copy edit for the next historical non-fiction on the list.

Other jobs this week include the usual boot camp, which from Wednesday will include practice for NaNoWriMo 2014. Now I’ve got into the swing of allocating 2 hours per day to my own writing, I hope I have a more successful challenge than in previous years. I think I’m going to work on Catch the Rainbow.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the poll 2 weeks ago. The general consensus (87.5%) is that I leave everything exactly as it is with a couple of comments that maybe I could make the pictures smaller or provide a link, and maybe have different topics each day. There was 1 vote for less frequency of posts, and 1 vote for less personal posts. I think I’m going to stick to 3 posts per week, though, as that’s a nice rhythm and fits in with other regular chores. I’ll see what I can do about making them a little less personal.

Mondays, then, will be a roundup of the weekend and the week ahead. Wednesdays will be diary of a scaredy cat, with writing updates. Fridays will be a roundup of the week and the weekend ahead. During mammoth writing marathons, however, such as NaNoWriMo, I’ll try to post the little man with the latest word count. If you like him, please visit Writertopia to see if you’d like one too.

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Massive kick up the bum

After writing my diary of a scaredy cat on Wednesday, I was so disappointed that I’d made hardly any progress on my own work, that I gave myself a massive kick up the bum. And, as a result, this week has been very busy.

I’ve been working on Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book 2 as well as looking at the electronic file for Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book 1. I’ve been upping the marketing and self-promotion as well as beavering away at the paid bread and butter work already in. And I’ve been brushing up on my ebook formatting skills.

I’ve added a new book page to the blog, and updated the existing P&S page. I’ve changed the prices on my ebooks and republished them on Smashwords, to find there are a few sales in there I’ve not received royalties for yet. Here’s my Smashwords profile page.

Yesterday too, after a nice chat with lovely already boss, I have some new work in to start as soon as the current work is finished.

Also yesterday I changed the job-board surfing to just 2 slots per week instead of 1 slot per day, I pitched for 13 editing or proofreading jobs, and I raised my minimum rate threshold.

I feel so much better for sorting all of that and finally getting my finger out.

Today I have a poorly poet at home. He ate something dodgy on the train yesterday coming home and was up for most of the night. He’s not gone into work this morning, choosing instead to work from home, and is off to the doctor this afternoon.

NaNoWriMo starts again soon, so I’ll be preparing for that over the next few days.

What are you up to this weekend?

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Diary of a scaredy cat, 24 September 2014

It’s been an interesting and busy week here in Baggins Bottom since my last “diary” post (last Tuesday). I’ve not done as much as I’d like on the big stuff, but I am starting to get into a rhythm.

Editing
I’ve had a big job I’ve been wanting out of the way so the new regime can begin. That’s what I spent most of last week doing – and completing. (Hurrah!) And invoicing. (Hurrah!)

On Monday I printed off the next big job, a 95,000-word historical novel, and that’s what I’ve been working on this week. This is a lovely book that I’m also reading in my spare time (editing pen in hand, of course). I love it when I get a job like that. It’s one of my favourite eras too, and one I’m fast becoming an expert in. (Tudor England.)

I’ve also been in discussion with lovely already boss who is waiting for another biggie for me to come in, but is meanwhile looking for something else I can get on with once this novel’s done.

This week I logged back onto the job board I’m a member of, and on Tuesday I pegged 21 jobs I may pitch for later in the week, if they’re still there. Some will go and new ones will appear. But 21 is a good starting point, I think.

Short writing work
There has been hardly anything done on this all week, but on Monday I wrote 300 words for a friend’s interview in a writing magazine, and on Tuesday I wrote a 180-word walks report and got it submitted to 6 local newspapers.

I also wrote a 928-word blog, which included a review of the weekend’s entertainment.

We Also Served
Last week I asked my cousin to ask his dad (my mom’s cousin’s widower) if he’d like to take part in the National Service book. He said he’d ask, but he hasn’t come back to me yet, so either his dad isn’t keen, or it’s slipped his mind. I’ll check in with my cousin later in the week.

Personal development
Yesterday evening I took part in my first ever live webinar. I had no idea how one worked, and though I registered, I wasn’t guaranteed a space unless I was one of the first 1,000 to log in.

The webinar was run by Writers’ Digest, so I thought it would be bona fide. And I really enjoyed it. It was about copywriting, something I’ve read several books on but it’s never really clicked. It’s clicked now, though, and the cogs are turning at the back of my mind.

The only other personal development I’ve considered recently has been learning shorthand. I have the book (Teeline for Journalists), I have the CD, and I have the sound files on my MP3 player. I’d love to allocate an hour a day to that, but it’s not been possible.

Everything else
Everything else has, sadly, been neglected. I’ve done nothing on any of the novels, I’ve not done anything extra for the second short story anthology, and I’ve done nothing about the blog collections.

The Plan
The big plan, therefore, is to crack on and start being strict with my time slots.

Today, for example, I have a slot for the daily competition entries, a slot for the blog (TICK), I have a slot for PC maintenance (that may not get done until next week), I have a slot for my writing boot camp (which will probably be a short story), and I have a slot for the current editing (which will probably run into the evening again).

I’ve also already written 600 words for the blog, so I’m going to call it a day for today. :-)

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Lancaster flypast

I had a very busy week last week, but I completed the book I wanted to finish by the end of Friday and sent it back to the client, along with the invoice (hurrah!), but I did devote much of my work time to finishing that. I wanted to clear it so that I could have a fresh go at the next one on the list in as few sittings as possible. That’s already printed off and ready to go, but it’s a biggie. A very biggie. I’m going to need more paper again before printing off the next one.

I hope you didn’t feel very neglected while I concentrated on work. I did already do 4 posts in 2 days last week, though, so hopefully everyone had their fix. :-)

Friday, then, we chilled.

On Saturday, we drove down to see my parents and had a good long chat with them. On the way we visited a local farm shop, which the poet fell in love with instantly. We picked up some bread, cake, juice and jam for my parents, and already my dad’s been on the phone to say how nice the bread was.

On Saturday evening we went out with friends to see more friends in their band. It was nice to see everyone, but the venue was one where I already knew a lot of other people too.

On Sunday, following a message from another friend, we decided to head over to Derbyshire, to Derwent and Ladybower reservoirs, to witness the last 2 airworthy Lancaster bombers fly over on their way back to RAF Coningsby from the Southport air show. Our friend asked where I went last year in order to see them, but last year they were on their way from Ladybower to Chatsworth House to do an air display there before heading back to base. I didn’t think they’d be going that way this time. So we all decided to try and get to Ladybower early, park up as close as we could and meet up if we could.

When we got there the whole area was rammed. There were thousands and thousands of people milling about the roads and paths, hundreds and hundreds of cars parked where they could on the roadside. Every single car park was full. So we drove out a bit while I checked the map and tried to work out their flight path from Ladybower back to Coningsby. I thought it might be worth going and parking up at Stannage Edge, just above Hathersage. If I was wrong, we could still have a nice picnic and a walk in beautiful surroundings.

I wasn’t wrong, and we’d thought of that just before everyone else seemed to, by the look of it. And just as we were climbing up the side of the hill, the Hurricane and Spitfire came into view and stopped the traffic. They were at our eye level. I wasn’t sure if they’d already done their bit and were going straight back to base, or if they’d be turning up again later. But we decided to park up on the roadside there, at a convenient spot, and hope we’d see them again.

We didn’t see the fighters again, but we did get a fantastic view of the 2 Lancasters. Again at eye level. They flew down the valley in front of us, banked and turned, then flew back up again. Some people thought that was it, and even the poet said “Come on, let’s go”. But I dug my heels in and, sure enough, a few minutes later they came back.

We didn’t get to meet up with any of our friends, and there were quite a few of us there. But we felt very honoured and privileged to see these historic aircraft on what could be their last ever flight together, as one of them is back off to Canada in a few days.

Here is a video from the bombers’ viewpoints. Imagine what that would have looked like 71 years ago.

Below are some photographs nicked from our good friend Alan “Patch” Patchett. We did take some pictures, but, well, the poet’s isn’t as big as Patch’s, so ours seem a very long way away. :-D Patch does a lot of band photography, but if you like the pictures and have Facebook, please visit and “like” his FB page here.

It took us a while to get home, confounded by the fact that when I smelled burning and we checked the engine, the poet’s car had hardly any oil in. So our priority was to go and find a garage that sold oil, but first we had to negotiate and join the very slow moving traffic creeping its way out of the area. Crawling along at 0mph didn’t fill us with confidence about the oil situation … but we got there safely and were soon on our way home.

This week, then, the poet has once again abandoned me. My parents were thinking of coming to visit for a few days from tomorrow, but that may not happen this time after all. I have this new edit to crack on with and some short material to get out and into the ether. So I’d best make a start.

Enjoy the pictures.

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Picture: Alan Patchett

lancasters 6

Picture: Alan Patchett

lancasters 7

Picture: Alan Patchett

lancasters 1

Picture: Alan Patchett

lancasters 2

Picture: Alan Patchett

lancasters 3

Picture: Alan Patchett

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Picture: Alan Patchett

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Diary of a frightened writer, 16 September 2014

Today has been a day of tidying up and taking stock, checking notebooks and drafts, starting to shift some editing to make way in the working day, and some short writing to keep that writing muscle exercised. I’ve made some decisions, I’ve tidied up my workspace and writing bag, and I’ve started work.

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Twee Tales One
Twee Tales One is my first anthology of short stories. For those not already in possession of a copy, here’s a link. ;-)

Twee Tales Too
I’ve collated 10 stories so far and have designed the cover. At the moment it’s sitting at 12,977 words. I need just 2 more stories, preferably longer ones, and then this one will be going into production.

Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book One
I’ve decided that I’m going to start to electronic-ify (!) this paperback and make the ebook free. The paperback will still be paid for as there are production costs still involved with a proper, tangible book.

Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book Two
I’ve decided I’m going to start collating the posts from 2006 onwards into the second book. I’ve already got the cover designed (it’s an orange version of Book One), and again the paperback will be paid for, probably the same price as Book One, but the ebook will be free.

The Beast Within is the sequel to Night Crawler and currently stands at 5,098 words.

Catch the Rainbow is the prequel to Night Crawler and currently stands at 9,743 words.

I’ll probably alternate between these 2 books for my long projects. When I run out of steam on one, I’ll leave it to percolate while I work on the other. Then, hopefully, by the time I run out of steam on that one and go back, I’ll have lots of ideas formulating in my head.

We Also Served
I need to sit down and look at what interview material I already have and try and knock it into shape so I can make a sample first chapter. The publisher interested in it only wants to see one sample chapter, whereas they usually ask to see the first 3 chapters.

They are waiting for this outline and sample chapter; there’s apparently a 3-book contract waiting on it too. I need to build this work into my working week.

my weeklyShort writing work
Today I’ve written a short review for the blog of 425 words and the first draft of a reader’s letter of 43 words.

Next jobs on the short writing work list are the first draft of a new short story, The Complete Angler, and the second draft of a filler for the Guardian newspaper.

This short story and the next one I want to complete, Breaking the Ice, are the 2 I’m hoping to add to Twee Tales Too. If it comes up too short, I have a very short-short (of 60 words) that can come out, and the next story on the list, Don’t Break a Leg, can go in.

This week I have a short story in My Weekly called Alexandra’s Ragtag Band. This was a story I wrote for a competition 2 years ago. It started out as 1,750 words, and when My Weekly accepted it for publication, they asked me to pare it down to 1,400 words. And, of course, I obliged. My original version of this story is already in Twee Tales Too.

Each week or so, usually at least every fortnight, I also write a very short walks report, apx 300 words, which I then send to 6 local newspapers. This is the only free work I do. It’s for a charity group I used to be a member of and it keeps me in the sights of the various newspaper editors. Unfortunately, I’m no longer a member of the charity and shouldn’t really be doing the publicity for them, so I’m handing over the reins of this one to someone else in the group in October. I’m hoping this will free up some time to concentrate on all of this other work.

Editing
I’m currently in the middle of a first hard-copy edit of a non-fiction book. I’m hoping that will be done tomorrow so I can start the electronic edit and get it sent back to the client. The next job on the editing list is a new novel from a fairly new repeat client. I’ve given myself until the end of next week to get that done.

In between these 2 jobs I have a book blurb to check for another non-fiction about to be published. I also have another new client who is sending me an hour’s-worth of work each week consisting of 2 or 3 very short essays.

This editing and proofreading work is my bread and butter, or my “day job”.

Summary
So, I hope that helps me to prioritise and organise myself back into kicking butt and churning out some work. Itemising it all has certainly helped straighten things out for me.

And now, at 10:30pm, and after quite a busy day, I go to bed to read. :-)

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The Gonzo Comedy Club

On Saturday we went along to the Gonzo Comedy Club in Holmfirth – we like Holmfirth and have even been looking at property there. It was my first time ever to a live comedy show … well, apart from Freddie Starr at the Night Out in Birmingham … and the Barron Knights at the New Cresta in Solihull … and Freddie Starr (again) at the Metrodome in Barnsley … but apart from all of those …

A muso friend of mine, Ian Seaburn, is the host at the comedy club and we only saw the event by accident when he shared a newspaper story on Facebook. We didn’t have anything planned and we like something a bit different, plus we like to support our friends, and I know Ian from a goth band from Huddersfield, Rhombus. He’s not with them any more, but they all still keep in touch.

Our table was reserved for us …

comedy fest 2

… we couldn’t get any closer to the front …

comedy fest 1

… and the 4 acts + host were right in our faces. But we had a great time.

Ian, the host, without a guitar or his customary dark make-up to hide behind, was a little nervous. But he did his job and kept it going.

First up was Kev Eadie, an energetic start to the show with a penchant for fruit. Then we saw Dean Moore, a smoggie (from Middlesbrough) who likes fruit a little less. The last act of the first half was Raj AC, whose famous parents may surprise you. Raj also sang a little song or two. (I thought the guitar was Ian’s when we got there.)

After a 20 minute break, fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe came Rachel Fairburn, all the way from Manchester. Rachel kept us satirically and darkly entertained for the next hour and even had free colouring books to hand out – of serial killers.

The atmosphere was friendly and cosy, all of the seats were filled, and we really did have a good time. If I had to say anything constructive, I’d like to have biographies of each act available or details of how I could find out more about them, although I did that anyway with the help of Google and Ian’s own links in order to write this post.

I’d also like proper packets of peanuts available from the bar instead of cordon-bleu-prepared-assorted-nuts. And more advertising. Two young ladies there saw a flyer in a local café, but I think they should also consider Diane’s Gig List;-)

But apart from that, it was a good evening and I’m sure we’ll be going again.

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Diary of a frightened writer, 15 September 2014

*** WARNING ***
*** STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS ALERT ***

Earlier today, this morning, I posted a poll to the blog to find out what readers would like to see. We’re only 1 day into that poll, but already I’ve had one person say they’d liker fewer personal posts and another say they’d like fewer posts full stop. So here’s an extra writerly post for the first person. And, well, apologies to the second …

For those who have been following me for a while – some since 2005 – you may have noticed I seem to be stalling on some of my writing projects.

Today I started to read a book, Writing Journal: a year in the life of a self-published author, by Scott Haworth. It’s free on Kindle, so if you’d like to nip along and grab a copy for yourself, I’ll wait …

… do you have it? Good. Well, in the very first chapter he says that he’s scared that the sequel he’s currently working on won’t be as good as the original.

And I felt a hallelujah moment, because that’s exactly how I feel about The Beast Within, a sequel to Night Crawler.

coverNight Crawler is a funny book with a main character, Marcie Craig, who lots of people either love or hate. I’d been thinking about the story for months, years even before actually writing any of it down, and when I did write it down, it only took me 3 months to write the first draft.

That was in 1996 … and while I did spend 14 years trying to sell it before Ulverscroft picked up the large print edition of my self-published version, I was also thinking about the sequel.

Several times I’ve started to actually write the sequel, and each time I’ve stumbled.

Because I’m scared to death it won’t be as good or as funny or as substantial as the first.

I’m also writing a prequel, another story I’ve been thinking about for years, Catch the Rainbow, which doesn’t even feature Marcie Craig, other than in a cameo role aged 10.

This book has also stalled several times, and I think it’s because it’s in a different voice, and might even be in a different viewpoint perspective. It also requires research, and I don’t want to get the research wrong because the book is set against the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974 and there are a lot of people around who still remember that night and would rather forget it.

As if that isn’t enough to be going along with, for the past year or so I’ve been promising one of the publishers I edit and proofread for a book about National Servicemen. The publisher doesn’t just want this book, We Also Served: voices from our National Service, but they want 2 others as well.

These non-fiction books are going to take more research again, and I need to carry out interviews with elderly people. There aren’t that many elderly people who are computer literate, so I need to see them face-to-face. I also need to borrow their precious photographs.

Before I get cracking I need to provide an updated outline for the national service book and a sample first chapter. I have material for a sample first chapter, but I worry that I won’t find enough interviewees or they won’t have enough photographs I can borrow (it needs to be 40,000 words with 80 – 100 photographs) or it just won’t be meaty enough. But once I’ve sent them this (and written it), we’re apparently good to go. I have a sitter waiting to happen, and I’m dragging my feet!

So I’m scared. Scared of each of these fairly big projects.

And, apart from all of that, I’m also writing short material – readers’ letters, fillers, short stories, anecdotes, readers’ true experiences. This is to keep the writing muscle exercised and to have material out there earning its keep so I can afford to spend time writing the big stuff.

BUT … I need to just go for it and do it. I have a very supportive partner who wants me to do it. I have a wonderful work environment in which to do it. I work from home, so can lie in if I wish and work until midnight if I have to … (ahem, checks clock … midnight’s 15 minutes away). I can be at home with the pets. And I don’t have to panic about paying the bills, although I do have several responsibilities there.

So, with grateful thanks to Mr Haworth (good literary name, by the way, very Bronte-esque, but my new name will be better ;-) ), I’m going to give it a go. I’m not going to wait for NaNo to start. I’m going to start it tomorrow. And I’m going to bore everyone with how it’s going. I might also release Baggins Bottom: Best Bits Book One as a free ebook, just like Mr Haworth has with his journal, and see if that has a knock-on effect with the other books.

Wish me luck.

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Chilled weekend and a poll

We had a chilled weekend, which after weeks of rushing around and enforced separation was really very nice.

Friday night we didn’t do anything after I collected the poet from the station. Saturday we went shopping during the day, watched a football game during the afternoon (emotive – Birmingham City v Leeds United ended in a 1 – 1 draw, which was handy), and to a comedy club during the evening. We enjoyed that, it made a nice change, and it was good to see a friend I’d not seen in a while.

Sunday we were going to go fishing or walking or something, but we decided to potter in the garden a little (which also required a quick drive to the garden centre first), watch some telly, and have a proper Sunday dinner (roast chicken, cauliflower, broccoli, roast potatoes, boiled new potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, gravy). Then we watched some more telly.

This morning he went off to Scotland again, once I’d taken him to the station, and now I have another week of busyness to keep me occupied.

Poll
I try to cover a lot of things on the blog to maintain interest. It was initially set up to keep in touch with friends and family in the West Midlands when I moved to Yorkshire and quickly became a writing blog. I also cover music news, some personal stuff, tales from our travels, photographs, anything that might make it more interesting.

While I still get hundreds of readers every month, comments have dwindled down to none just recently. And I’m wondering why this is – and whether or not to continue with a public blog or make it a private one.

So, here’s a poll to find out what readers want, and please also leave any pertinent comments in the space below.

Thank you for your participation.

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