1

Idle week

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Farm outbuilding, Rievaulx. There was a grumpy dog in that kennel to the side of the steps. We didn’t see her, but we heard her. Perhaps she had pups. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’ve had a bit of a lazy week this week, I don’t seem to have had very much get-up-and-go. This is the problem when I don’t have rush jobs with tight deadlines. The work languishes in a neglected pile and I work on it whenever I feel like it. And this week, I haven’t much felt like it.

All is well, though.

We both started a diet on Monday and the poet has already lost almost half a stone (7lb). The holiday clothes we bought him last week are already feeling a bit more comfortable. His stomach is flat again in the mornings. :-)

My weight was staying static, despite keeping a strict eye on what I was eating and not eating cake (apart from puddings already in) or chocolate or anything between meals other than fruit. Yesterday, when my weight went up a pound, I decided to revert back to my old tried and tested  5:2 diet. When I did this before, I lost 20lb in a month, and kept it off until contentment set in. Then, over a period of about 18 months, it all crept back on … well, not all of it. I was still 4lb short of my heaviest weight ever when I started the 5:2 diet, but I didn’t want it to hit (or pass) that all-time-high again.

Now then, I don’t usually weigh myself every day when dieting, and hardly ever when I’m not. But I need to do it when I start a diet just to see if it’s having any effect, so that I can adjust if it isn’t and wallow if it is. This week, aside from the calorie-counting, I’d also done 2 fitness DVDs and been for a walk. But my weight went up instead of down.

Saying that, the trousers I put on for my short walk on Wednesday didn’t need me to lie down on the bed to fasten them, like that had only at the weekend. So I did measure my waist and found I’d lost an inch. But the weight had gone the wrong way, and so I had a starvation (fasting) day yesterday.

And this morning, I finally witnessed my first loss – only 1¾lb, but a loss nonetheless. So, I’m sticking to this instead of the calorie-counting, although with the poet also trying to lose weight we’re already eating healthily on my feast days. And I’ll weight myself, and measure myself, once a week again.

When I do 5:2, I don’t fast for hours on end. I graze. This is because I get a bit hypoglyceamic, but I get that way anyway without fasting having anything to do with it. And if I get hungry, I eat. I just eat carefully. Others can fast on water alone, or they can go from breakfast to supper without eating anything. But I graze. And it works.

Also this week the poet has been to buy his wedding suit. We were supposed to be going tonight, but he found himself in a shop that sells suits and he chose one. So now we have this evening spare. Tomorrow morning we go for my dress fitting, on the way to Birmingham. We’re also having the ties made in the same fabric as the dress. I’m going to ask for a fabric swatch so I can look at shoes, probably Sunday.

And he’s finally fished the lake at the end of our lane this week. He had a nice evening fish and caught about ten, saying it’s harder when the fishing is natural rather than stocked. Now, as a non-angler I, personally, would get more from fishing natural waters as it would be more of a challenge to me. But he’s a match-angler and isn’t used to working so hard. BUT, he fished, and he caught fish, and he bought new line so he can fish it again. So that’s all good too.

We have less than a fortnight before breaking up on 30 April. I still have the big book to edit and another smaller one. I’d like to get both of those done before the holiday so that I start with a fresh slate when we return.

Tomorrow we have the dress fitting and the trip to Birmingham, and maybe a gig tomorrow evening. We have nothing booked for Sunday, so that could be shopping or walking or doing something in the house.

Have a great weekend.

2

Diary of a scaredy cat, 15 April 2015

essential englishWriting companion of the week
There has been a little discussion on social media regarding some authors who don’t seem to bother editing their book once they’ve finished a first draft. They write or type THE END, and then bang it into the post or email, or press that PUBLISH button online. Either they are able to produce a beautifully polished, final draft on first go and are Very Lucky, OR … they’re being very shortsighted/arrogant/ignorant/enter-word-of-choice-here.

Perhaps they think their work is already perfect. Perhaps they don’t know it can be made better. But the fact is, they’re not doing what I, and hundreds of thousands of others, do. And it doesn’t necessarily apply just to the self-published or the want-it-now brigade either. It also applies to traditionally published authors, or those who still want to be.

As a professional writer it was drummed into me to polish, polish and polish some more before showing it to anyone – beta readers too. And then it was polished again before going anywhere. Every time it came back, any feedback was digested and either applied or discarded, but always it was considered.

This book, ESSENTIAL ENGLISH FOR JOURNALISTS, EDITORS AND WRITERS by Harold Evans, can help writers. I’ve had it for a very long time, but it’s still available on Amazon, on Kindle or in paperback. But remember, it was published in 2000 so some of the content may be out of date.

Editing
I shifted 2 books by the end of last week and have started the next biggie. I have enough editing work at the moment and am looking for new work from w/c 18 May.

CATCH THE RAINBOW
I’m writing this in scenes rather than in chapters, and it seems to be working so far. I’ve re-written the first 2 scenes, which actually make up a prologue and chapter one.

Work in progress
This week, then, I have the big job to edit, more do to on CATCH THE RAINBOW, and my fiction writing course work. Not too busy, actually. But the days will be filled.

What’s in your WiP this week?

0

Do diddle weekend

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Duck enjoying the rain at Baddesley Clinton. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We didn’t do a lot at the weekend in the end. The weather forecast was a bit mixed so we couldn’t really plan anything ahead.

On Saturday, we did nip out to collect a regular prescription, get some fish bait in case he decided to go fishing, and buy our first holiday clothes and a beach towel each. Then he spent the rest of the afternoon prepping while I spent it reading.

On Sunday he decided not to go fishing in the end, so the bait is saved for later in the week. We went to the farmers’ market at Wentworth, but it had already blown away in the gales by the time we got there. So we went, instead, around the garden centre and bought a few exciting things … watering can, weed killer, path clear … And on the way home we visited his parents.

So, pretty much a do-diddle weekend. We got up, thought about what we wanted to do (or not) and then did it.

This week I have one big editing job to get on with and another smaller one to start if the big one is finished. I’ve already fielded some invitations to pitch for work, and accepted just one, but with more than 2 weeks holiday looming, I’m now telling folk I’m available for work from w/c 18 May.

I’ll also be doing more work on CATCH THE RAINBOW and I’ll be studying my next module on the fiction writing course.

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Back on track

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Packhorse bridge over the River Rye. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed trying to keep on top of various things. But I think I’m back on track again now. I don’t know how this metamorphosis happened, other than sitting down and giving it some thought without trying to do a million other things at the same time.

This week I’ve completed the electronic edit on one book, sent it back to the author, completed revisions back from him, and sent it to print. (Hurrah!) This means an invoice in today’s run. (Double hurrah!) I’ve also completed the manual edit on the new book sent this week from the Spanish client and will do the electronic edit on that today – and that means another invoice in today’s run. (Triple hurrah!) I think completing these 2 short books has given me something mechanical to do while the subconscious mulls over everything else.

The first full-length writing project I’m going to work on is CATCH THE RAINBOW, which is a sort of historical/Marcie Craig hybrid. I’ve lost everything I’d done on that to date, electronically, and need to get another full version (so far) completed and backed up. Fortunately I do have much of it printed out, but I can’t decide if I want a hand-written full copy or risk getting it all only on the computer again, but back it up at the end of each day’s work. I quite like sometimes sitting at the desk and sometimes sitting downstairs on a comfy settee, which is another reason why I mix computer work with hard copy work.

As the weather is getting warmer, and because we live in such a beautiful spot, I’m chomping to be working (writing, reading, editing – not gardening) in the garden again. But I do need shade in which to do that. I can proofread on my paperwhite Kindle in sunlight if I want to see how something looks on screen, and I can handwrite into a notebook or pad. But I need good shade and a comfy seat.

Today, it’s only April and already I’m in shorts, vest-T and sandals. The office/studio (Abbey Road) is already one of the warmest rooms in the house, so I don’t know how I’ll manage when summer actually arrives. It’s much, much cooler in the living room (on that comfy settee), but working in there needs me to change into a warmer tee and yoga pants or summer trousers. If only we could squeeze a reading chair into Abbey Road, eh? I could wander round half-dressed all the time then. ;-)

Today, then, I have that electronic edit to complete and those invoices to raise. I also have “pc maintenance” scheduled in, which is really backing up critical data and checking the health of the computer. I want to do some rewriting/retyping of the novel too, and/or maybe make a few more notes. I’ve started to write in “scenes” rather than chapters, which is a concept I’ve never tried before but seems to be working.

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Another image from our walk around Rievaulx at the weekend. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We don’t have anything planned for the weekend, which is nice, but I do think we’ll do plenty still. There’s a farmers’ market in Wentworth on Sunday, so we may go there and, if we do, we may do the short walk that was abandoned last time. We might go to the pictures. We might do something in the garden or something in the house.

BUT … we’re not planning anything. Whatever you’re doing, have a goodun. :-)

2

Diary of a scaredy cat, 8 April 2015 (*** double list alert ***)

steampunkWriting companion of the week
I have a right fancy to write some steampunk. I don’t expect for one minute that it is easier or harder than any other genre. I’ve not read it very widely, but I have read it, and I do like to watch steampunk films. Because I’m not a huge expert on the subject, I downloaded WRITING STEAMPUNK by Beth Daniels along with several steampunk novels.

This book went a long way in giving me the basics for the subject. The first half of the book is all about writing steampunk and steampunk in general. The second half of the book is technical/research information, such as the history of guns and those generally used in steampunk fiction, fashions and other things usually associated with the subject.

After I’ve read a few more novels in the genre. I’m going to give steampunk a go. I might start with a short story or I may jump straight in to the novel. But I’m going to give it a go and I’ll let you know how I get on.

The book is still available in the version I bought, but there’s a new, updated edition also available here, where you can also find more information all in one place on the website.

Word count challenge – April
The first full week of April was actually a short one for me as I took the whole of the bank holiday weekend off. I always take weekends off anyway, but this week I also had Friday and Monday on either side.

Because I have 19 working days in April, I’ve once again set myself a word count challenge of 1,000 words per day, totalling 19,000 words. So far I’ve managed 2,128 words.

Tales From Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book Two
This book was eventually successfully published electronically last Wednesday, and the paperback proof copy is on its way to me so I can check that and get that one released too.

Twee Tales Too
This book is also awaiting proofreading. I have the first paperback, I just need to build in the time to read it.

Editing
I’ve completed the small job I was working on for lovely already boss. I just have to check the picture captions and get that sent back to the author to answer a couple of queries, then it can go to press. Lovely already boss has sent me the next big one, plus I have another small one of his to do.

The lovely new repeat clients from Spain has sent me a short book to edit too. This is, apparently, the first of a batch and will be the next job on the list.

Because this work has now come in, I won’t be surfing the job boards for work. I’ll just respond to invitations to pitch, if I want to. I have just over 2 weeks off at the beginning of May and don’t want to leave anyone in the lurch while we’re away.

Secret project
I did a new blog post on the secret project and added it to the raw text file for the potential book on the same subject. It’s a sensitive subject, which is why it’s currently secret. I’m not sure yet whether or not to release it anonymously or own up to it. We shall see.

New website
The new website is currently under construction. Some of you have already seen it and commented, but for those who have yet to visit, the link is here. I’m toying with a dedicated domain name again as the dianeparkin.com one expired in December. I didn’t see the point in keeping that if I was rebranding myself.

Fiction writing course
My tutor has responded in great detail to my second assignment and has given me plenty to think about and work on. However, one of his nuggets of advice is actually incorrect. I’m not sure I can be bothered to correct him or just let it go. I have to remember that he is the one being paid here not me. What would you do?

Writing (*** list alert #1 ***)
I have a huge list of full-length projects awaiting work. I just don’t know which project to crack on with next. I need to go and sit and think and cogitate and see which one throws itself at me first. I don’t really have any short stories burning to be written, but here are all of the novels and books I seem to have at various stages of planning/completion:

  1. CATCH THE RAINBOW (historical/Marcie Craig)
  2. THE BEAST WITHIN (Marcie Craig)
  3. THE FOOL (Stevie Tarot)
  4. HATTIE’S HOTSHOTS (historical)
  5. SNOWBLIND (Marcie Craig)
  6. CIDER AND SYMPATHY (historical)
  7. THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME (Marcie Craig)
  8. THE WRITER’S IDEAS BOOK AND WHAT TO DO WITH THEM (non-fiction)
  9. SECRET PROJECT (non-fiction)
  10. DIARY OF A SCAREDY CAT (non-fiction)
  11. TWEE TALES TWEE (anthology)
  12. TALES FROM BAGGINS BOTTOM BEST BITS BOOK THREE (anthology)

Yes, there are far too many there. I definitely need to regroup.

Work in progress (*** list alert #2 ***)
This week’s work in progress (the next 7 days), then, is as follows:

  • edit picture captions on current short assignment for lovely already boss
  • edit 15,500-word history book for new repeat client
  • edit 64,000-word history book for lovely already boss
  • proofread TWEE TALES TOO paperback
  • proofread TALES FROM BAGGINS BOTTOM BEST BITS BOOK TWO paperback
  • start next module for fiction writing course
  • extract finger and work on something full-length of my own (which would you choose?)

What’s in your WiP this week?

6

Easter weekend

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Baddesley Clinton (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We decided we wanted the whole of the bank holiday weekend off, so that’s what we did.

On Friday we drove down to Warwickshire and joined the National Trust. We’d worked out that if we paid a joint membership for the year, we’d get our money back after visiting just 5 properties. Baddesley Clinton is an old favourite of mine. It’s an Elizabethan moated manor house and I remember when it was taken over by the National Trust in the early 1980s. I knew the poet would love it too, and he did.

Before visiting the property we decided to wear the dog out first by going on a short walk in the surrounding area. One of the volunteers at the property gave us a map to follow, but it was pouring with rain, the map soon got soggy, and we were joining the walk part-way around. Needless to say, we got a bit lost, but we did have a great walk in the surrounding woods (once part of the Forest of Arden, I believe) and we discovered some badger setts that seem to be in use, judging from the dog’s reaction.

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Baddesley Clinton (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We were gone for about an hour and once we’d dried ourselves and settled the dog in the car (it was wet and cool and he was sleepy anyway), we went to visit the house and join the National Trust. Afterwards, we enjoyed a very expensive piece of cake and small bottle of pop each in the café (we didn’t get much change from £10 – apx $15) and headed home via my parents, as they’re only about 15 – 20 minutes away.

On Saturday we didn’t do much, but because the shops would be closed for Easter Sunday, we did nip out and get a new floodlight for the garden, which the poet fitted on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday evening we went for a walk to the lake so he could measure the depths. The dog had another great walk and the poet lost some line, a float and a weight when he caught a tree branch …

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Rievaulx Abbey (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Monday we decided to go to Rievaulx for a short walk around the area. The idea was to visit the terrace as it’s managed by the National Trust, but parking was so bad there we drove down instead to the abbey, which is managed by English Heritage. We had a bit of a snack in the car park, then off we tootled on our walk, which took almost 2 hours in the end, to walk about 2 miles, due to stopping to take pictures.

Along one section of the River Rye, we thought we might see dippers. Instead the poet was rewarded with a grey wagtail. I’d sat on a log while he tried to capture shots of some little grey birds that were flitting around. I  had no idea it was a grey wagtail he was paddling after!

Much of our walk was along the River Rye and through picturesque villages and hamlets. When we got back to the car we had a bird’s eye view of a birds-of-prey demonstration that was just starting, so we settled own to eat the rest of our picnic while we watched that. We’d thought to visit the abbey when we got back, followed by the terrace, but it was already 4pm by the time we’d eaten, and we decided to head home and come back another day, and another day, and another day.

It was lovely to be out and about in the fresh air, even if it was raining on Friday. At least we had glorious sunshine yesterday.

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Grey Wagtail, River Rye, Rievaulx (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we arrived home I was greeted with a new job from the lovely new Spanish clients, and news of many more to follow in the coming weeks. They asked me for my availability, and I gave it to them. That means that this week I now have a lovely big job in from lovely already boss, along with 2 smaller jobs already in from him, and a series of work from lovely new boss. And it’s pudding week as we apparently get married in just 24 days before heading off on our funnymoon. (I have a 14 day settlement on most jobs, but the lovely new boss always pays on completion.) I’d best crack on.

6

Good Friday

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“I’m not cutting that grass.” (Picture: Diane Parkin)

“Hrmph!” said he. “I’m not cutting all of that grass.” But when we got some quotes for it, I said it would be cheaper to buy him a sit-on mower than pay someone else to do it. He had a bit of a grumble at that too, but unknown to me he’d already seen a sit-on mower on ebay that he was watching. So we discussed how much we were prepared to pay for one, and he won it.

Then the weather turned and he wasn’t able to try it out. Until last night. In between work and band practice he was finally able to get the new mower out and have a go … and he loved it! And now he’s talking about giving it another cut. Result.

I’ve been busy this week, publishing one book and sending another 2 off for proof copies. The first one of those came back yesterday, and very nice it looks too. I’ll have a browse of that to check layout and consistency, etc. I expect the other one will arrive next week.

I’ve also been having a play with a new website. You can have a look at it here if you’re interested and have the time. But I’ve not worked out if the blog facility over there allows comments, so I’m still thinking about whether or not to migrate the blog again. I also want to add tweaks like linking to the top of the page again, if I can. But it won’t properly go live until after 1 May.

We’re both off now for Easter, and we’re making sure we’re having a mini-holiday too as we’re usually so busy. We hope to manage a couple of day trips, including one in the midlands so we can see the parents as well while we’re out and about. I think, though, that we’ll also be spending some time in the garden. We need to start measuring and planning and things. I scheduled the blog to post this morning, so fingers crossed it does that.

Have a great Easter!