2012 Review of the Year

I started 2012 with an incredibly long list of goals and targets. I didn’t do particularly well, but here they are anyway:

Writerly

  1. Pitch for 3 monthly columns by end of 1st week (within my control). I DIDN’T PITCH FOR THEM BY THE END OF THE FIRST WEEK, BUT I DID PITCH BY THE END OF THE FIRST MONTH. SADLY, NO-ONE BIT, AND SO I DECIDED NOT TO PITCH TO MAGAZINES ANY MORE AS THE RETURN I GET BACK FOR THE WORK I PUT IN JUST ISN’T WORTH IT.
  2. Earn enough to at least make ends meet by end of January (desired). YES, BUT IT WAS PROBABLY MORE OF A REGULAR OCCURRENCE BY THE END OF APRIL, WHICH WAS THE END OF MY FIRST OFFICIAL MONTH FREELANCING AGAIN.
  3. Pitch for up to 4 marketing/corporate jobs per month, 2 days per firm per month, by end of 2nd week (within my control). I’D LOVE TO DO THIS, I REALLY WOULD. BUT I SIMPLY DON’T HAVE THE TIME TO SEND OUT THE PITCHES. HOWEVER, IF SOMEONE APPROACHES ME, THAT’S A DIFFERENT STORY.
  4. Write 1,000 words every day on a work of fiction (within my control). I’VE PRETTY MUCH BEEN STICKING TO THIS, AND IF I’VE NOT ACTUALLY WRITTEN 1,000 WORDS I’VE BEEN PLANNING OR PLOTTING OR READING UP ON SOMETHING. I’VE CHANGED THE WORK SLOT TO READ “MY WORK” AND ALWAYS TRY TO SPEND AT LEAST AN HOUR OR TWO DOING SOMETHING OF MY OWN.
  5. Write and submit 1 or 2 markets articles each month (within my control). NO. THIS IS PART OF THE PITCHING I’M NO LONGER DOING. I WROTE 3 MONTHLY MARKETS ARTICLES AT THE START OF THE YEAR THAT WERE BOUGHT. NO 4 WAS REJECTED.
  6. Finish first draft of Catch the Rainbow by end of February (within my control). HA HA HA HA HA. NO.
  7. Submit 3 lots of 3 pitches to 3 different magazines every week (within my control). NO. THIS IS PART OF THE PITCHING I’VE STOPPED DOING.
  8. Start organising interviews with National Service veterans and provide a sample chapter to my publisher by end of March (within my control). THE INTERVIEWS HAVE STARTED BUT I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FOR THE FIRST CHAPTER YET. I ALSO CAN’T AFFORD TO DEVOTE THE TIME AND TRAVEL UNTIL I’VE RECEIVED AN ADVANCE AT LEAST.
  9. Go and talk to me ol’ muckas at Solihull Writers’ Workshop in May (within my control). YES, THIS WAS A BIG TICK IN MAY.
  10. Get that book commissioned and started by end of June (desired). NO.
  11. Proof-read 1 book every week for publisher (desired). YES, WHEN THEY CAME IN.
  12. Turn proof-reading around in 1 – 2 weeks (within my control when I have them). YES.
  13. Submit 1 commissioned article once a fortnight (desired). NO.
  14. Edit 1 book every month for publisher (desired). NO. THE PROMISED WORK FAILED TO MATERIALISE. I ONLY RECIEVED 4 BOOKS ALL YEAR AND ANOTHER WAS GIVEN TO SOMEONE ELSE TO DO BECAUSE I WAS BUSY HELPING THEM DEVELOP THEIR NEW SYSTEM – FOR FREE …
  15. Turn editing around in 3 – 4 weeks (within my control when I have them). YES.
  16. Submit 1 unsolicited article to 1 RTE magazine every month (within my control). NO. MANAGED 2 ALL YEAR, BOTH SOLD.
  17. Write and submit 1 short story every month to fave market (within my control). NO.
  18. Write and submit 1 short story every month to a higher paying magazine (within my control). NO. BUT I DID START SUBMITTING TO OVERSEAS MARKETS.
  19. Enter 1 FREE short story competition every month (within my control, when available). NO. MANAGED 1 ALL YEAR.
  20. Write and submit 1 filler/reader’s letter per week (within my control). NO. BUT I DID SELL 2 PUZZLES TO A MAGAZINE – A WORDSEARCH AND A 4×4 CROSSWORD – 2 FILLERS TO ANOTHER, AND 1 FILLER TO ANOTHER.
  21. Earn enough to be comfortable again by end of June (desired). STARTED, BUT THEN PETERED OFF AS THE PROMISED WORK FAILED TO MATERIALISE. BY DECEMBER WAS TOTALLY BROKE.
  22. Start The Fool by end of September (within my control). NO.
  23. Catch the Rainbow in production by year end (desired, within my control as can do it myself if necessary). NO.
  24. Take a holiday … NO.

Everything else

  1. Walk dog daily. ABSOLUTELY! 🙂
  2. Start with 1 yoga session per week and build up to 3. THIS TURNED INTO 10 MINUTES DAILY.
  3. Attend every 5 mile walk with Ramblers that am available for. NO. I MANAGED A COUPLE BUT RUFUS WASN’T REALLY READY TO BE ON HIS BEST BEHAVIOUR AND I REALLY PREFER TO WALK ALONE OR WITH A FRIEND. INSTEAD I’VE IDENTIFIED SOME SHORT WALKS WHERE I WANT TO GO, AND WE’RE DOING THEM IN OUR OWN TIME.
  4. Use the Wii at least weekly, or sell it. SOLD IT.
  5. Play with the DS at least weekly, or sell it. SOLD IT.
  6. Attend Ramblers National Conference in April. YES, AND THOROUGHLY ENJOYED IT.
  7. Start and use the kitchen garden. NO.
  8. Only eat homemade cakes, biscuits and cookies. NO.
  9. Bake bread at least once a month. YES.
  10. Only eat homemade “ready meals”. YES.
  11. Ensure freezer is full at all times. YES.
  12. Do not buy another book until TBR pile has reduced by at least half. UM …
  13. Take a holiday … NO.

During the summer I also suffered not one but 2 floods, one really bad one in the back yard caused by my selfish neighbour, and the other a much smaller one in the lounge that nevertheless wrecked my carpet and decorating. I had all the experts out trying to find out the cause of this water penetration, but it was down to me in the end to sort it out, which I did in December. I’m not my father’s daughter for nothing …

On the plus side, I did publish a collection of short stories in the summer, Twee Tales, which did very well, and I published 2 calendars. Also, on the last-but-one day of the year, I published a collection of the best bits from Baggins Bottom for 2005.

Tomorrow I’ll share my dreams, goals and targets for 2013, but remember today is the last chance to enter the competition to win a copy of Baggins Bottom Best Bits.

For every day of the new year, on the 1st of the month and again on the 26th of the month (which is my immoveable Do Diddle Day) I’ll share that month’s calendar picture and where it was taken. Today’s is the cover of the small calendar and also the cover for Twee Tales.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has happy and safe celebrations this evening and … I’ll see you next year. 😉

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Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Happy Christmas!

Today is my last day at work for just over a week.

I often take Christmas week off and I always return after the new year. When I *worked for a living* I’d often take two weeks off. But I can’t afford to do that when I’m self-employed. As it is I have a pile of work to do that I will no doubt dip into at some point. But the intention is there to take some time out.

Hopefully I’ll be able to drive down to see my family on the Santa run, but if the weather’s bad I’ll stay here and go when it’s better, which could be as late as New Year’s Day. I’ve done that before when one of us has been poorly, and I’ll do it again if necessary.

And if I can’t get down I have an invite for Christmas dinner across the road. They invite me every year knowing how far away I am from everyone – and they’re the ones who dragged me out of bed last New Year’s Eve when I’d spent the whole holiday except for Christmas Day working.

I’ll arrange a review of the year to post on 31 December, and goals for the coming year to post on 1 January. And Rufus and I will do the competition draw. But other than that … I’ll see you on the other side.

Enjoy Domino in one of my favourite pictures of her. She’s covered with snow from the Christmas tree, which hasn’t actually gone up this year but I love the picture anyway.

I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas and a safe and cheerful New Year.
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Omens

I’ve had a busy and horrendous week and this is why the blog has been neglected slightly – well, that and wanting to keep the competition at the top for a few days.

So, what’s been happening since last week?

Well, the weather’s been up and down, mostly down and chilly. At the moment it’s mostly wet too, and has been for nearly 20 hours. BUT …

Last night I did a bodge job on the front door to keep the rain out, and I think I found the problem: approximately 2cm (¾”) of silicone sealant has been eroded away in the bottom corner of the door frame, where the frame meets the step and the stone wall. I scraped away some sandstone dust that had accumulated and there was this hole, lurking behind the dust.  I’d got some expanding foam to squirt in the gap beneath the doorstep, but as soon as I saw this gap I had an aha! moment.

The gap is now sealed again, along with the entire join along the step and the wall and so far – so far – after 20 hours of persistent rain, it seems to have done the trick. As I write I have NO RAIN in my living room. This is a good omen. I hope.

I still need to have the doorframe ripped out, insulated, re-sealed and put back, and I still need drainage holes drilling in the gutter/tray thing in the bottom of the plastic frame. I also need a proper job doing under the step as my attempt resulted in excess foam oozing out all over the public footpath and I had to hack away at that with a knife once it had set. But for now, if it keeps the rain out, it will do.

We’ve also had freezing fog that has lingered for days and we’ve had treacherous black ice underfoot causing all sorts of problems. If the temperature drops again on top of all of this rain we’re having, we’ll have the black ice thing again.

So there’s the weather report. What else …?

Ah yes, I went out on Sunday night, to a place I’ve never been to before (The Plug, Sheffield) to see a band I’ve never seen before (The Saw Doctors) with a chap I’ve never been out with before (mind your own business!), and we had a great time. Or I did at any rate. It was a fun night out with much Irish jigging. I enjoyed the band, I enjoyed being anonymous, and I enjoyed the company. Win win win for me. 🙂

I’ve been working at lots of things this week, mostly finding more work for the new year but also chasing up and sorting out money issues. That’s been the horrendous part, but I think it’s all sorted now. For now.

Today I have a new book in to proof-read on top of some electronic edits I have to do. I also have in two more books to proof-read and one to edit, with another on the way. On Wednesday evening I received my first invite to bid for a job, I was the only person to bid who’d received the invite (out of about 12), and I won the job. I’m hoping that’s another good omen.

I’d best crack on with that work. Meanwhile, don’t forget the competition.

2,000 posts competition!

cover blue jpeg Welcome to the 2,000th post from Baggins Bottom – and thank you to everyone for reading, especially those who have been here since the beginning and those who came and stayed.

To celebrate this minor milestone, I’ve decided to issue a collection of best bits from Baggins Bottom, but when I started, I realised it was going to be quite a mammoth task. So I’m just collating the best writerly bits from the very first year for now, and once the book is published, the posts will be taken down from public viewing.

It’s been a rocky road from that very first tentative post back in 2005 and I never realised I’d still be here 8 years later, particularly when I was so sceptical about the whole thing. But I am, and so are you, so I must be doing something right. I also have over 1,000 followers now, which is surprising when you consider how few actually drop by and say anything.

As another celebration of 2,000 posts, I’m giving away one copy of Tales From Baggins Bottom, best bits book one. All you have to do is leave a comment, say hello, stop lurking.

In two weeks time, on the last day of 2012, all the names will be put into a hat and I’ll get Rufus to choose.

So, what are you waiting for? Say hello. That’s all you have to do.

Chilly

I was beating myself up about being so tired and sleeping in so often when a friend reminded me of my 5am finish Monday morning. I do keep forgetting that, and it does seem to have knocked my body clock out this week, but I do seem to have caught up all but an hour again now. Tomorrow I’ll be up in time for the weekend.

It’s blooming chilly out. The frost hasn’t lifted all week and the ice on our corner is getting worse. My car has a lovely thick coat over it and it’s a shame to disturb it, but I may do just to make sure the battery isn’t going flat. I’m off out to Sheffield Sunday evening and I don’t want my car refusing to start.

If I catch up a bit more today, and I’m doing okay so far, I may pop out and get some shopping. I don’t know if this cold snap is here to stay a while or if it’s going to be dark, dank and dismal again by the end of the week, but in case it’s the former I want to have a kitchen full of provisions. I wasn’t a girl guide for nothing.

I’ve done all of the daily stuff already and only have the diary to do for next week, then I’m back into study and work mode and I’ll be spending the rest of the day (when not shopping) in the lounge on the comfy seats.

There’s proof-reading and editing to do and a dog to walk. It’s nice weather for a dog walk. 🙂

Brrrr!

Late start

This morning I got up to let one of the cats out, climbed back into bed for a quick warm, and woke up three hours later. This meant a really late start, but I’ll still do 8 hours, even if it means working into the evening.

Yesterday, as I promised myself, I updated the diary and have a workable schedule for the rest of the week.

So far this afternoon, then, I’ve registered the domain name for the new website, paid for privacy (with my address details), and paid for and applied it to the website so that there are no ads and extra storage.

I’ve also cruised the job boards and submitted a bid for another job, I’ve done the daily competitions, and I’ve updated the gig list. Very shortly I will have also updated the blog.

When I’ve had a quick sandwich, I’ll crack on with some proof-reading work, and then I’ll walk the dog. The frost and ice haven’t lifted again today, so the walk will be interesting.

And that’s it for today. It’s nice to be back in a routine.

Catching up again

That 5am finish Sunday night/Monday morning didn’t do me any good at all. I went to bed and was up just 5 hours later. I had a busy but steady rest of day, concentrating mostly on the new website. Thanks to everyone who’s responded with feedback so far. I think I’m more or less happy with it now and will use some of my Christmas money to pay for my old domain back.

I still have a couple of pages to add to it and am contemplating things like news & events, competitions, a more detailed book page, hints & tips. I don’t want too many tabs, though, so some may become sub-pages of others. I think the colours are a bit raspberry ripple ice cream, but for the moment I’m happy with those too.

Do keep the feedback coming, and any suggestions as they occur.

[ALERT: faint-hearted look away now]

Today I’m slowly catching back up with work again. My recent flurry looking for work has worked well. I have:

  • a novel to proof-read
  • a historical novel to edit
  • a DVD script to write

I also have:

  • seven more novels on their way for proof-reading
  • a non-fiction on its way for proof-reading

And, of course, there’s:

  • a non-fiction anthology to collate
  • a non-fiction book proposal to update and finalise
  • interviews to arrange
  • at least 1 filler to write
  • at least 1 article to write
  • at least 1 short story to write (of 6)
  • novel work
  • study work
  • all the other daily stuff

I’ll probably have a steady session looking at the diary, and then I need to stick to the diary. I have a few appointments I mustn’t forget.

[ALERT END]

While I’m collating the Baggins Bottom Best Bits book I’ll be taking down some of the older blog posts from public view.

But first … some gentle diary work, I think.

Playtime

I had a good weekend. I didn’t do much, didn’t have much planned. But on Saturday I did take the dog on a longer walk out of the village and we had quite an adventure.

First of all we saw a pony and trap at the top of the snicket (footpath) and I kicked myself for not bringing my camera. Then there was an explosion and I thought it was just a car backfiring. I noticed a plume of black smoke behind us, but just assumed someone was having a bonfire.

Once we got down into the muddy bit we were overtaken by a young lad in yellow leather on a dirt bike (or off-road bike). We had a quick chat and as he revved off into the distance, Rufus had lots of fun chasing him. He saw a crow taking off across a field too, and also took off behind that. But he happily came back when I called him.

When we emerged back into the village there were uniforms everyone. The explosion turned out to be someone’s garage blowing up and then burning down. The road was blocked going out of the village and suddenly everybody wanted to use the Road To Nowhere that Nobody Usually Does. We had four fire engines, a fire service mini-bus and two police cars. Very exciting – and fortunately no-one had been hurt.

Rufus was covered in mud when we got home so he went straight in the bath. Then we both slobbed on the settee in front of the telly and I joined him for a nap.

On Sunday we went to see my parents. It was a glorious day, until I hit Nuneaton, and then the squall started. But generally it was a nice day for a drive. When we got back there was more chilling on the settee.

And then – playtime …

The sharp-eyed may have noticed I’ve done some redecorating here in Baggins Bottom. The current festive theme is just for the Christmas period while I play and faff with a new website. The website has been stewing for a while and last night, literally during the night, I think I found a format and layout that I like. There’s still a LONG way to go and it really is very much a work in progress. But if you fancy bobbing along, you can follow the link here.

I still have lots to do, like purchase and register a domain name so it’s a bit easier to remember and to get rid of the ads. I have more pages to add, such as news and events, and maybe a competition page.

Do you have any suggestions? What would you like to see on a website? What do you think of the name? Answers below or the really adventurous may like to try the new contact form

Jaded

I’m starting to get a bit jaded at the rates some people are prepared to pay for work and I often wonder if they would do their own jobs for what they think others are worth.

I’m actually feeling guilty because I’ve withdrawn a bid for the first time ever. I’m not feeling guilty for withdrawing it – I know my own worth. I’m feeling guilty because I snappily reported that the reason for the withdrawal was “Client doesn’t want to pay the national minimum wage, let alone the minimum rate for the job. Contractor would earn more on benefits.”

Ah well, I suppose he touched a nerve by telling me the writing was near-perfect in a message that was full of spelling errors and shoddy grammar. And that was before he asked me to drop my quote to what he already thought of as the bare minimum. He obviously has little respect for his own worth and work.

Anyway, I’m going to step away from this now or it might turn into another rant, and we’ve had enough of those recently.

Yesterday’s meeting was very positive and productive – and also how I know I’d be better off on benefits rather than take poorly-paid jobs. I’m back in the system, which isn’t great news but it will help during the leaner times – and something I’ve insured myself for with 30 years-worth of contributions. I’m still self-employed and I’ll still find my own work, but when people let me down, there’s help available.

Rufus was good as gold at the vets again. He has slightly mucky eyes and now has ointment for those, but apart from that he’s in fine fettle. I couldn’t find his vaccination card, but as he’s never likely to go into kennels, it’s not really essential.

Our 6% chance of snow has increased to 40%, so my nose will be pressed against the window looking for it. We had a lot of rain yesterday evening and overnight, and today it’s bitterly cold again, so no doubt there will be ice everywhere at least. The closer we get to Christmas, the more likely snow seems, but I bet by then it will have moved into the New Year anyway, if it hasn’t disappeared entirely.

Today I’m working on Baggins Bottom Best Bits, as well as the usual daily stuff. Nothing planned for the weekend, but weather permitting we should be visiting on Sunday.

Have a great weekend.