>October To Do list

>I’ve been a bit lax and not done one of these for a couple of months, so as I’m going to be very busy to the end of the year, here’s my first plan of action – for October.

• update blog and gig list daily
• gig list for Nov
• diary work for Nov

• proof Night Crawler galleys
Night Crawler electronic edits
• publish Night Crawler
• begin marketing for Night Crawler
• re-submit Christmas story to weekly newspaper
• 700-word monologue
• 2 x fillers
• 1 x travel article
• NaNo foundation work
• research activity annual #3
• research activity annual #4
• activity annual #3-1

Day job
• weekly timesheet
• winter magazine foundation work
• winter newsletter foundation work
• new PR work

• attend 5 rock gigs
• read 1 novel
• at least 4 long-distance walks
• visit 2 places of interest
• 1 Ramblers meeting
• visit Mom and Dad in Birmingham for Dad’s birthday
• hair appointment
• Halloween

• weekly, fortnightly and monthly household chores

There’s a new item in the day job list and that’s “PR work”. Since cuts have been made and department spending reduced, people are gradually remembering that they already have an existing Communications & Publicity representative in situ – me. Some of them are even remembering my name. It means I need to learn more about the company and be on hand to provide guidance and advice on most things publicity.

I need to stop being idle now and start doing a bit more.

Wish me luck.

>Starve a fever …

>… feed a cold. The latter is what I did and what I obviously have. Just a cold. When I left work yesterday the plan was to go straight to bed, but by the time I got home I was starving and I didn’t have the energy to cook anything. So I ordered a Chinese. When I have a Chinese delivered, I normally save half for another day. Not last night. Last night I had the first half, then went back and helped myself to the second half – and I didn’t leave a bit. Greedy little piglet.

By 7:30pm I was still ready for bed, but when I thought about it I wondered how hard would it be to just sit on a nice, warm, comfy sofa and (proof) read galleys? I thought of what I’d do if my livelihood depended on me reading and checking these teeny, tiny proofs. So I got my ass in that chair, with a hot drink to hand, and I proofed quite a few more pages of Night Crawler.

As I went along I was thinking things like “that needs to go in the sequel” or “I need to remember that for The Beast Within“. So when I got to a place I could stop, I wrote up those notes and managed almost 1,000 words of The Beast Within. With 2 episodes of The Mentalist thrown in for good measure, I felt quite proud of myself by the end of the evening.

This morning we have rain, so my builder couldn’t come to work on the roof. They’re not allowed up there in the rain anyway, and anyway, I wouldn’t expect anyone to. Hopefully it will be brighter tomorrow.

I also failed to get out of my village this morning, and had to turn around and come to work a different way. This way is the way I used to come and when I still do when Death Highway feels a bit dicey. It wasn’t long before I remembered why I don’t use this route any more – the School Run.

I still fail to see why “Scrunners” have to drive their kids to primary school when they live well within the catchment area (for “the catchment area” read also “walking distance”). What’s so special about them? Why are they allowed to drive badly, park illegally and pull out without indicating? And why are we all expected to give way? (Sorry, I think this is a bit of a mini-rant …)

This morning one of them was getting particularly narked because no-one – NO-ONE – was letting them out. Well, perhaps you should reconsider the wisdom of parking on the wrong side of the road … on the FOOTpath … where the zig zags are. The zig zags were put there to protect your children, not for our health. They were still stuck there long after I too had ignored them, gone past the lollypop lady and through the traffic lights. Karma.

And that wasn’t all. Once through the school run there were roadworks everywhere. I think it’s great that we’ve obviously found the money to repair our road infrastructure following the debilitating snowfall at the start of the year, and they seem to be putting services in beneath the pavements (sidewalks) too. But do they all have to converge on the same area in one go?

I can feel a couple of reader’s letters going off in the next day or so.

And so I’m finally at work. My throat is killing me, but I’m fine. I keep forgetting to bring my purse (wallet) in with me though … so one of my most favourite people in the whole wide world has nipped out to get me some throat sweets. It’ll cost me a coffee, but how cool is that?

>A bit of a throat

>I’ve been denying it, refusing to admit to anything, but last night I had to turn in on a cup of hot milk and 2 co-codomol because it appears I have a bit of a throat. (Sigh.) And a bit of a temperature. However, I’m not incapacitated (yet), so I’ve come in to work to see to the magazine (it arrived late yesterday), have a chat about that business excellence meeting I attended last week, and to help roll out our re-branding.

As of yesterday we are no longer permitted to use the C word. We are now Tata Steel RD&T. Everything has turned from red to blue, we have stickers to use over existing envelope stocks, new stationery templates, etc, etc. This should have happened sooner but we had a world-wide economic crisis, and now we’re rolling it out as gradually as possible to keep expenses to an absolute minimum. But we’re no longer permitted to use the C word.

I’ve been proofing Night Crawler galleys and hope to finish those today, then I can start on the electronic edits. I’ve decided I’m going to get that published as soon as possible and to buy the copies when I can – if it starts to sell I may be able to buy more copies sooner. I’ve also printed off the latest contributors’ guidelines for a weekly magazine and want to sit and think about some material for each of the sections.

It’s a 4-day week for me this week, but I’m hoping my roof will be fixed tomorrow while I’m out.

>A silver star


A few weeks ago I decided it really was time I lost weight, but I know I can’t do fad, crash or starvation diets without giving up before the end of day 1. So instead I enrolled with weightlossresources.com. I’ve been with these before and they’re all about eating as normal food as you can, although the lower fat and less sugar and salt the better.

This morning I’ve lost a further 3lb, giving me a running total of 7lb. That’s half a stone in only 2 weeks, and I think it deserves a silver star. So I’m awarding myself one. Two more pounds and I’ll drop into the next stone, so I hope I’ll have another star to award myself soon. I haven’t done any exercise this past week either. I knew I had a lump to lose but I bet it’ll slow down considerably now.

On Friday I stayed in and watched telly again, but on Saturday I had quite a busy day washing, shopping and baking. I batch-cooked a 4-portion pork casserole with chive dumplings, a 4-portion cherry and apple cinnamon crumble, and a dozen marmalade muffins, all Weight Watchers recipes. Then Saturday evening we went to see a band but they weren’t on. We almost left, but as there was no-one else on in the vicinity that we wanted to see, we decided to give the band that actually was on a chance. And we were delighted that we did because they were amazing.

Sunday was more idling I’m afraid. I caught up with Saturday night’s X-Factor and we did toy with going out, but it was such a cold and windy day and the gig buddy had spent much of the afternoon at the freezing touchline of her son’s football (soccer) game that we chickened out. I spent the evening in front of more X-Factor and ITV’s new period drama, Downton Abbey.

Today I’m at home and I’ve conceded 3 days early. The heating is officially on. The summer clothes have been swapped with the winter clothes. The only thing I refuse to do yet is change to the winter-weight continental quilt (duvet). I’m adding the WW recipes to my weight loss database, I’ve made a start on the gig list for October, and I’m going to carry on with Night Crawler galleys.

I’m back at work tomorrow and it’s a 4-day week.

>Anston Stones Wood

>Last Sunday I joined 20 other members of Dearne Valley Ramblers and 2 dogs on the side of the A57 just outside Worksop, and together we walked just over 6 miles in just over 3 hours:

These birds had worked out where and how to shelter from the rain:

This is Ashton, a guide dog that gets a day off when her mom and dad come walking with the Ramblers. She was very dirty, having rolled in nearly every single fertilised farmer’s field we passed:

Penny is a bit more camera shy, so I had to torment her with a dog biscuit, which she got, of course:

The end of our walk:

It was great going out with people again, and we had a good turnout considering it was a wet Sunday morning. You can see the full set of 25 photographs on Webshots here, or here is the screen show:

>Good use of time off

>On Wednesday I decided that after the meeting I was ready for a few days off. Only at lunch time the gig list broke. Again. (Sigh.) It was still there, but it managed to lose 2 posters and a whole day’s gigs. And not just any day either. It had to lose Saturday’s gigs. The busiest night of the week. I sent out an annoyed but grateful call for everyone to send me their gigs for Saturday again, and quite a lot of them did – bless them. And after the meeting I was able to sit and spend an hour fixing it.

Turns out the 2 posters and all of Saturday were still there, but they’d got hidden behind a load of other stuff, a script error had inserted itself (how?), and many commands were broken (HOW?). Once I sorted out the errors and tracked the commands to make sure they were complete, voila – the gig list was up and running again.

I headed home, later than I’d intended – almost an hour later – and there was a very nice man waiting for me. He’s going to fix my roof, he’s going to do the emergency stuff first (secure or remove and cap the chimney pots and clear out the guttering, while also fixing any stray or loose slates while he’s up there), and he’s going to do it next week.

I hadn’t really budgeted for this just yet, but the chimney pots are dangerous and if they fall on someone, I’m liable. Plus, if it was an emergency repair on my car I’d find the money. So I’m tightening the belt again and he’s fixing my roof next week. And anyway, something usually turns up.

Wednesday evening I chatted with both the gig buddy and the keep fat buddy on the phone, and then I settled down in  front of the telly to watch Midsomer Murders and the first of the new series of Castle. Thursday morning I had a nice, long lie in with the intention of doing nothing all day.


I was mistaken. But it was all good, and I had a very productive day. I de-cluttered the kitchen, the bedroom and the office area, did a load of washing and hung it out/brought it in, and I re-packed a new WIP box for the next 2 or 3 months.

My payslip arrived but I didn’t bother opening it because I know what to expect in a September pay packet, and 2 of my purchase orders arrived, confirming work for Oct/Nov and Dec/Jan.

This morning when the post came there were 2 letters from work (gulp). One was about the imminent brand changeover, due on Monday, the other was news of a pay rise … What was that I said about knowing what’s in my September pay packet? I went and retrieved that envelope from yesterday’s post and ripped it open, and sure enough I’ve had a pay rise, backdated to April, and including a small bonus.

There’s the roof paid for, with change too. :o)

And so to today. I’m updating the budget to take into account the purchase orders, pay rise, and roof repairs. Then it’s proofing Night Crawler galleys, NaNo prep work, and a bit of freelance admin. I have another wash load in, but this is one that can be tumble dried as we’ve had storms and high winds for the past half a day and I don’t want to lose anything from the washing line.

I’m staying in tonight, but we’re off out tomorrow night – after another day of chores and work – and Sunday, I haven’t decided what I’m doing Sunday yet.

Have a great weekend.

>Busy autumn ahead

>So while I was recharging my batteries yesterday, the confirmation came in that my purchase orders for the activity annuals we discussed last month would be with me by the end of this month. This means I have at least 2 activity annuals on their way, and possibly 3. Whoo-hoo! I LOVE this work.

The email gave me a kick up the pants because I need to clear the decks if I also want to do NaNoWriMo in November – and I do. Hopefully all the deadlines will slot in together. But this means writing work due before Christmas includes the following (it’s been a long time since we had a list):

  • proof Night Crawler (time this one was gone) – manual edits
  • electronic edits Night Crawler
  • publish Night Crawler
  • order author/comp copies Night Crawler
  • market/promote Night Crawler
  • re-submit Christmas story to magazine
  • draft 1 Catch the Rainbow
  • outline The Project With No Name (NaNo)
  • RD&T Magazine WINTER issue
  • research TV programme for ACTIVITY ANNUAL #3
  • research TV programme for ACTIVITY ANNUAL #4
  • potentially ACTIVITY ANNUAL #4-1
  • draft 1 The Project With No Name (NaNo)

Night Crawler was delayed because I want to buy at least 10 author/comp copies pre-publication, plus the local library wants to do a book launch and I need a pile of books for that too (and there’s Lori’s to order and send). I’ve decided that the first pay cheque for the activity annuals this time will be used for those. Priority. Now I know I have another 2, possibly 3, bumper pay packets on the way, I can put my back into it and get it shifted. It needs to be gone, though. I’m tired of seeing it on my to do list and in my diary.

When Night Crawler is finally published, I’ll do another giveaway competition, so read the blog carefully between then and now.

Catch the Rainbow was starting to resemble wading through treacle, but I have to get it done and quit with the excuses. I’m NOT shelving another project – it’s bad for motivation and self esteem.

The NaNo project needs working on from scratch, which is the idea, right? I know the genre, I know the length, I know the market. I’m just short on everything else, including a title, which is always a problem for me (anal, I know, can’t help it).

I research the TV programmes for the activity annuals because I need to know that I’m keeping the characters in character wherever possible. It’s important that at least one of us knows who’s in the show and what they do, especially as they’re for kids and kids are good at spotting mistakes. As these are both new projects for me, I’m going to be watching a lot of children’s telly.

Yesterday evening I sat down to get on with more diary work and the first item on the list. I spent the summer months sightseeing, walking, exploring, photographing, and I’ll spend the winter months writing about all of that as well as all of these.

Today I’m in a meeting from 10:30am until 5pm, so I wrote this last night and scheduled it to post this morning. It’s a business excellence meeting – that’s quality management to me and you. The magazine went to press yesterday, it should be on desks within the next week.

I need to take the rest of the week off. I hope that’s ok.

>Time out

>I splashed out at the weekend and finally upgraded my Wii Fit to Wii Fit Plus. I’m glad I did because there are 15 more games/activities, 3 more yoga poses, and 3 more muscle workouts – although I rarely do the muscle stuff, bone idle you see. We can also add things like number of steps per day and waist measurement (although it’s only in centimetres), and it calculates calories burned, although this doesn’t seem to be as accurate as other methods of calculation. The best thing for me, though, is the routine facility.

There are a few routines included in the bundle, or you can make one of your own. I admit I’d like to be able to make 2 routines, depending on how energetic I’m feeling or what needs work, and I wish I could add the games/activities to the yoga poses/muscle workouts. But the good thing is that I can decide on “x” number of minutes, and “x” number of poses/workouts, and 20 minutes means 20 minutes without all the waffle in between, which was adding about another 10 – 20 minutes on to the time taken out of an otherwise busy day.

My routine is a yoga one, although you can mix the poses and workouts, and it’s currently 20 minutes, which is up from 15 minutes at the weekend. I’m going to leave it at that for now because most of the other poses are balance poses and I’m not ready for those yet.

Yesterday I did my 20 minutes of yoga warm-up, then started the aerobic activities and balance games. My intention was to do 20 minutes of that too … but after only 11 minutes, the batteries died on the balance board. So I only managed 31 minutes altogether. Today I’m recharging batteries and hope to make it 40 minutes.

My heels are fine now for walking, but I am dressing them before I go out so that probably has a lot to do with it. This weekend, however, I seem to have bruised my toes. I must be pushing my feet too far forward. My muscles and limbs seem fine though (and we’re 48 hours later). Maybe all this extra exercise is working.

I’ve been working at home this morning. The full magazine pdf didn’t reach me until today, although it was sent yesterday afternoon (I think he forgot to copy me in at home). There are only 3 pages with minor corrections from me, and 3 pages with minor corrections from my boss – and one page was the same for both of us. (He does the Dutch, I do the English, but occasionally we overlap if we notice something.)

I’m taking the rest of the day off now, apart from anything my boss needs me to look at. But I think we’re good to go. I have to go in tomorrow because I have an all day meeting. It’s a 3-day week for me anyway, but I may take the rest of it off.

>A quiet life

>Okay, so in recent months I’ve joined The National Trust, English Heritage and The Ramblers Association, and I joined the local Dearne Valley Ramblers group. In the past week I also re-joined an online writing community (NaNoWriMo) and an online weight loss/fitness community (weightlossresources.com), and I’ve joined the forums in both. I’ve been on Photobucket and Webshots for a while now, but I’ve decided to join in with the Webshots weekend photo walk #147. If that little lot doesn’t keep me busy …

Friday was very quiet. I didn’t get any pdfs, but I did have a very long, interesting and reassuring conversation with my lovely boss. I took the magazine home with me because our designer had been asked to get the corrections to us by first thing this morning, and I need to check he’s picked up on all of mine.

I didn’t go out on Friday night. Saturday was shopping, chores, washing, successfully loading Office to the new laptop, and some writing work. I was being nagged from all angles to go out on Saturday night, but I knew I needed to be up and fit for walking Sunday morning so I stayed in then too.

Sunday I went out with the Ramblers – pictures to appear here next weekend – and today I’m waiting for pdfs …

In the past week I lost 4lb in weight and an inch from my waist. We did a hill thing yesterday. That’ll be what did it.