Weekend again already?

Time flies far too quickly.

I’ve had another manic, busy couple of days trying to meet a deadline. But I did it, with time to spare, and that means I’ve shifted three whole full-length books this week alone. As a friend said to me yesterday, that’s one more than he’s read in his whole life.

I do feel a bit goggle-eyed and hunchbacked, but shifting three books is pretty good going. It was worth it, however, when one new client gave me some glowing feedback. He said I must have worked “like a demon” to get “all of that” done in the time. He was very pleased.

Next week I’ve added a new section to my working week – the National Service book. I’ve put time aside to arrange interviews and will probably do some over the telephone at first. Until I provide the first chapter I can’t have my advance, and until I get my advance I can’t afford the petrol. So I’ll get enough material together to provide at least a dummy sample chapter so that the publishers know where I’m going with it.

Before then, though, it’s the weekend. Saturday will be chores day, and Sunday I may go and visit my parents.

Have a good weekend.


A day of contemplation …

… aka navel gazing …

I enjoyed my day off yesterday and was almost totally idle. I had a guilt-free lie-in, got up to see to the animals and fetch the milk in, and went back to bed again. I was shattered.

When I finally got up I sat in the living room and did some serious thinking.

I have tons and tons of work in and I can usually get extra work in quite quickly, but I don’t have tons and tons of cash. I’ve had 4 payments this week, 3 of which have been quite small. I’m still owed loads. I need more money to come in a lot quicker and I don’t know what to do about that.

While I still cogitate on this matter, I decided to open an Ebay account. But first I had to go up in to the loft to see which goods have boxes. I hoped my Pentax camera boxes were up there, but I couldn’t find them. I did find my Lilliput Lane boxes, though.

I also found 2 big black bin liners filled with wool. I have enough wool to knit 9 jumpers – some already started – plus another bag of oddments for blanket squares, toys and other fundraising items.

Three books came down from the loft with me too, one on classic cakes, one on quilting for beginners and a wartime cookbook. I also found a few odds and sods of stationery – clear plastic folders, or jellies as I call them, and Sellotape, etc – numerous packets of pocket paper hankies, mini sewing kits and other junky things that I often buy and pay for when I already had loads up in the loft.

When I got down from the loft I was filthy. It’s a good size up there, I have boards underfoot and a new electric light that was put up when I had the bedroom done last year, but this is the first time I used it. There’s head room and it really could be put to more use – if ever I can afford it. But for now, it’s filthy.

And I was filthy. I felt really grubby so went to stand in the rain for a few minutes. Mucky pup.

Then I set about dusting things off and I went to Ebay to open that account but they charge for selling things. Only a nominal fee, granted, but at the moment a fee defeats the object. So I went to Preloved instead, which is free, and you can find my profile here. (I think.) If I have no joy there, I’ll contemplate putting them on Ebay as I have the account now.

I checked some prices and photographed some of my best cottages (i.e. those with boxes and deeds), but only managed to get 3 up for now, while I see how it goes. I’ve included a picture below, but this one isn’t up for sale on Preloved yet as it’s probably my most valuable single item.

I still have thinking to do, and I also have those bags of wool to think about too – perhaps an Etsy account? Today, though, it’s back to work.

Stargazer’s – limted Millennium Collection edition

Still busy

So yesterday I had all these great plans. I was going to finish one job, do an hour of study, and then crack on with the next job …

… only the first job took all day.

All. Day.

Eight solid hours I sat at the laptop doing those electronic amendments. Word really does have a mind of its own and sneaks in all sorts of weird and wonderful combinations. I didn’t break for lunch. I finished at about 5:30pm. And totally melted onto the settee. My back was in bits and I was starving hungry.

Today then, the plan (ahem) is to shift another job and do an hour of study … I’d like to do 2 hours of study, but if I do that I may not shift the job and if I shift the job I get tomorrow off.

Whoopee! A day off … to catch up with household chores, baking and shopping and the like. Lucky me. This is because I worked all weekend and didn’t have my usual chore time.

The daily comps and job board perusals are taking a back seat at the moment.

I have a good 3 – 4 weeks’ work already in with another novel to proof on the horizon and, if yesterday’s client is pleased, there may be more work from there. Plus I really, really want to get out and about to find some stories for the new regular gig that’s mine for the taking – and they pay well too. All of them.

So I’ll check the job boards when I get chance. The daily comps needs to get prioritised again, though. That’s been quite beneficial of late … famous last words …

That expected small payment hit the bank account this morning … and then one more than double the size went straight out. Sigh. The postman hasn’t been yet, but I know there’s a small cheque on the way. I mean, when they say “it’s in the post” it is, isn’t it?

Today we have squally showers. Areas of Barnsley have been on flood alert with some roads impassable overnight. Our village is getting the windy, squally stuff, so even though we’re getting a good drenching, the wind is blowing it dry in between showers. And the drains are (so far) holding out. In our village at least.

All animals are staying in at the moment, snuggled up nice and warm. I’m back in the living room on the comfy seat while I write this so the laptop’s on battery power and I don’t get tempted to waste time online. I’ll do some work downstairs and then take it upstairs when I have the electronic stuff to do – that’s much easier at the desk, but the hand work is easier on the settee. Like reading  a book with a pen behind the ear.

Right, work …

Busy weekend

I worked all weekend in the end so I could deliver a work promised back by today. I originally had until the end of the day, but he asked me halfway through if I could do it sooner. I couldn’t promise and so I didn’t, but it will be there considerably earlier than the end of the day at least.

My diary really is quite tight and I’d already offered to juggle what I could and get the job back sooner. But he said it was fine, and gave me today as the deadline. Once I’d juggled things to fit in the new work, I couldn’t really juggle them any more, so instead of juggling them again I gave him the weekend – or part of it.

I need this job off the desk this morning so I can start the next one this afternoon. That’s how tight my diary is.

At about 7pm on Saturday I decided I was going out. I was going cross-eyed and developing a humped back, so by 8:45pm I was on my way. I met up with quite a few friends, as well as band members, and we had another great night. The friend whose band it is shared some interesting news of theirs for the near future, and I’m really excited about that and looking forward to it.

All day Saturday I also took advantage of what could be the last of the sunny weather. I did quite a lot of washing and got it out on the line. I haven’t done my shopping yet.

Yesterday the heating went on. It started to rain and has forgotten to stop. Rufus and I had a lovely walk in it last night and we saw a toad – at least I think it was a toad. I’ve never seen one before and it seemed to have two gnarled humps on its back.

It was sitting in the middle of the footpath having a good old shower, pretending to be a clump of wet grass, but once Rufus spotted it he wuffed quietly at it and it shifted. I held the dog at a good distance while I examined the toad in the dark – he was lovely – and then the dog was examining every other clump of grass or rubbish we passed in case that moved as well.

One day last week we saw a baby hedgehog on our walk. Initially it was as curious as me and I had a good look at that too – in the dark. But once Rufus spotted it, it curled up tightly into a ball, so we left it to it.

I love living where I live. 🙂

I asked my Tarot cards last night if I’d get some money this week. They said yes, but it might not be as much as I’d like. This morning two payments hit the account (one of which is the one I was alerted to last Thursday) and another is due tomorrow – this one is never late. Sadly, two of them are only small, but at least one is a decent one. The biggie is still MIA, however …

I really need to be more specific when I ask my Tarot things.  😉

Today then, it’s a very dark and rainy morning again. I’m going to get this book moved, do an hour of Teeline, and then get onto the next book, which is one of two jobs in progress that we’re signing off this week. This evening it’s Yoga.

It was a dark and rainy day …

… and three animals refused to go out to play. This resulted in them all tormenting each other and vying for attention when I’m trying to proof-read a book on psychology. Even now, as I write this, Rufus is licking my hand …

I wish the postman would hurry up. At least then the dog would look out of the window for a while. And I might get another cheque … but I shan’t hold my breath on either count.

It’s so cold at the moment I’m huddled in front of the gas fire in the living room. It’s easy to proof-read sat on the settee, and the laptop has currently come downstairs so I can post this. Thin and short t-shirts have been replaced by longer, more substantial ones; lightweight sweatshirts replaced with heavier ones and woolly jumpers. Socks? I didn’t take my socks off all “summer”. Now the thin cotton ones have been replaced by the woollier ones.

I’m working in 30-minute bursts. This stops me getting too bored and encourages me to get up, move around, exercise the old back. At 5pm I’ll jump in the car with Rufus and walk him around a small park nearby. This evening it’s a Yoga evening – for an hour at least.

I don’t mind the rain, I really don’t. So long as it’s not coming up through my living room floor or threatening to flood my kitchen, I quite like it. I find it therapeutic both to work in and to walk in. It is dark, though. And it is cold.

Tomorrow I was supposed to go to London to see an agent. Because so many payments to me have been held up, including that really hefty one from the tax office, I cant afford the rail fare.

I won 2 tickets to see Barnsley FC v Birmingham City, so that was a nice consolation, until I realised it was Birmingham City v Barnsley, and I can’t really justify the petrol money to drive all the way to Birmingham either.

So tomorrow I’m going to carry on working, and add yet another figure to the ever-increasing balance of money due.

Tomorrow evening I may go to a gig. Then again I may stay huddled indoors. On Sunday there’s another gig I may go to too. But that’s all that’s on the horizon for this weekend now.

Y’all have a good one.

Good deed for the day

(pic: The Dairy Council)

My good deed for the day has been to recommend my milkman, or one of his mates, to local friends – and one may have already picked up the recommendation, possibly two.

For about a year my milkman has been trying to find a cheaper supplier for his milk because the prices are going up so much and the dairy farmers haven’t been getting any of it.

The dairy he was using, or the “distribution centre”, took their wagons off them and made them buy their own, which impacted on the price of doorstep milk as well. Of course, the finer side of this means my milkman is no longer obliged to use the distribution centre for all of his milk requirements as it’s now definitely all his own business, rather than a franchise. Nice own goal, distribution centre.

We’ve chatted a few times about local dairy farms, and the good news today is that he’s finally found one, just across the M1, in a place called Penistone. Not only is the milk 2p a pint cheaper, but it’s also as fresh as it can possibly be, instead of going into a giant tanker and driving hundreds of miles to bottling plants before coming back and landing on our doorsteps. AND, of course, it’s a dairy farmer AND a local business.

We have a dairy farm in our own village, and it would be great if he could get a grant to help him set up sterilisation, pasteurisation and bottling facilities. Then my milk wouldn’t even have to cross the M1. But for now, the Penistone option is brilliant.

My milkman is great. He delivers milk by 4am and if snow is forecast, he’ll get it to us before midnight. Back in Solihull we were lucky if we got our milk in time for tea – their excuses being they had big rounds. Well, our milkmen up here also have big rounds serving several villages with country roads lacking maintenance and modernisation in between. If more milkmen were like our milkmen, more people would enjoy fresh, local milk.

If I buy my milk at the supermarket, it costs 55p a pint (apx 90c). Of this the dairy farmers get about 10p (15c), but when they take their other costs into account – milk collection, animal feed and welfare, etc – they’re making a loss. It’s cheaper for them to throw the milk away. Milk from my milkman currently costs 63p a pint ($1), but the difference goes to the milkman and the dairy farmer.

The whole cows’ milk debate is not the issue here. Our dairy farmers are supplying a massive national demand – we’re not going to re-educate the masses on whether or not they should be consuming so much milk in the first place. But for as long as there is that demand, the farmers – and the milkmen – should at least be paid for it.

Do you use a milkman? Why? Why not? If you could, would you? Answers below. 😉

If you’re in the UK, if you’d like a milkman and want to ask where s/he gets his/her milk from, try Find Me a Milkman. Let me know if you do.

For more information on the role of milk in our diet, visit The Dairy Council.

In other news today … I received notification of a payment! I’ll try not to spend it all at once, though. A whole £11 ($17.81) will be hitting my bank account some time soon.

Don’t anyone knock cosmic ordering! 🙂

Seven things

I’m plodding through work steadily this week and getting everything done. I’ve had the commissioned story formally accepted, so there’s a lovely payment on its lovely way to me. Another one …

… I’m currently owed quite a bit of money, from several different sources. I’m waiting for a large tax rebate, I’m waiting for a healthy BACs payment, I’m waiting for a decent cheque from one magazine, another from another magazine, and a small one from another client.

I have good work in progress, I’ve delivered to one client already this week, have a job from a new client I’m working on, and several jobs from the lovely bread-and-butter client also in progress. There will be at least another invoice out at the end of this week. (Hurrah!) I also have plenty of work in, waiting for me to start.

The only thing wrong with this picture is the money owed.

I’ve come a long way in quite a short time in that I’m earning fairly decent and regular wages now. But rather than have x-amount owed and x-amount in progress, I also want and need x-amount in the bank as well. This will be my next goal – as far as it’s within my control.

The joys of self-employment, eh? And the joys of being on your own. Although I quite like being solely responsible for myself and my pets. It means I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission for anything, and it means when it goes well, I did it myself.

Yesterday evening, on a whim, I baked a bread pudding. I had some bread that had gone dry quite quickly and didn’t want to throw it away so soon. So I made a bread pudding – and very nice it is too. There are still 3 portions left.

I did the shopping yesterday too, which I hadn’t got around to at the weekend. And yesterday’s study was writing features so I picked a couple of magazines up to study. Today’s study is Teeline again.

My friend Devon, from Ink In My Coffee, has tapped me for “Seven Things About Me”. Thank you! Please nip across and say hi, if you haven’t already. She’s a great motivation to me,  a very busy freelance.

Most people know a lot about me, but here are a few things you may not know:

  1. I can roll my tongue
  2. I was trained to sing alto in a choir
  3. I can play Chopsticks on the piano
  4. I used to be in the Boys Brigade
  5. I can say tongue-twisters
  6. I’m allergic to skin products
  7. I can speak French, I can read German, and I can proof-read Dutch

I nominate …

  1. Teresa Morgan at The Wittering Woman
  2. Melissa Marsh at Writing With Style
  3. Dan Bohmer at Nine and a Half Hours Ahead, recently home safe from Afghanistan
  4. “Wheelie” Dray at Stroke Survivor
  5. Martin Hodges at Square Sunshine
  6. Steve Page at Life of a Fifty-Something Yorkshireman, and
  7. Manty over at Him, Her and Us

Link back to the person who nominated you, tell us seven things about you, and nominate another seven.

Belated weekend update

So, these daily competitions … they really don’t take very long at all now I’ve worked out a new system, maybe 10 or 15 minutes tops (when the internet’s working). And last Thursday I received a phone call to say I’d won 2 tickets to see Marillion in Sheffield on Friday.

The tickets were in the post and my sister was coming up to see them with me – until she got stuck in traffic. I met up with a couple of friends, though, and we went in on the train after I drove us all to Meadowhall. When we arrived at the venue, I was able to sell the spare ticket. Result! It bought us a round of drinks with change – and we had a good night.

Next time I’ll be prepared and if I can’t feasibly make it I may still nip up and see if I can sell them.

Saturday was mostly chores, although I didn’t get around to doing any shopping, and Sunday I visited my parents. I took my mom and the dog to one of my old haunts, Elmdon Park, where we fed the ducks and had a nice walk around the pond. When we got back, Dad was fast asleep. Mom had got him up quite early and he’d done a lot of housework before I got there, so the little rest did him some good.

By the end of yesterday I was shattered, but I felt good. Shattered because for the first time in ages I was up at 8am and at my desk by 9am. Feeling good because I got so much done. Every single item in my diary had a tick against it. That feels bloomin’ fantastic.

I also put some washing through, hung it out and fetched it in. But by 5pm I was shattered. I had my tea, walked the dog and slobbed in front of the telly.

But I didn’t feel guilty.

I went to bed feeling weary but knowing I’d had a productive day. Bring it on. More of the same today.