January review (list alert)

blog thumbnailIt’s been a busy week and today is the first time since Monday I’ve fired up the pc again. I meant to come on yesterday, but the day just disappeared beneath a pile of work. It’s been another week of proof-reading, and still is.

But I’ve also managed to do quite a lot of bitty things in between that usually get left, like empty the recycle bins or take the rubbish out or empty the washing basket (and, thus, fill up the ironing basket … ah well).

So, with such big expectations at the start of the year, how am I doing so far?

January started quite well, but I need to do a proper to-do list on a month-by-month basis. I was busy or suffering for most of the month, or wasting time gazing at the lovely snow. I’ve updated the blog, proof-read or edited 5 books, been to 2 gigs (including one birthday party), submitted 2 walks reports, and attended one write-in.

I’ve repaired a bird table, had 2 appointments in town, been to Birmingham twice and had a Do Diddle Day.

Apart from a few outlines and tidying up the WIP book, I’ve done NO writing.

Here’s the tick (or not) list:


  1. Surf job boards daily (x 2) 
  2. Bid for at least one job per day 
  3. Allocate 2 hours every work day to WRITING 
  4. Free-write for first 15 minutes of each writing session 
  5. Write walks report for local papers weekly √ and ×
  6. Draft walks reports for longer walks for possible submission to walking mag(s)  ×
  7. Write 2 novels at least to 1st draft by year end (ongoing)
  8. Write 1st three stories of themed 14-story anthology by year end (4,000 words each) (ongoing)
  9. Write 1 story per month for fave story market ×
  10. Write enough stories suitable for Twee Tales Two – 6 more – by year end (ongoing)
  11. Write 1 filler or reader’s letter per month ×
  12. Write 1 article or RTE (reader’s true experience) per month ×
  13. Complete interviews for non-fiction #1 by end of March (ongoing)
  14. Write non-fiction #1 by end of June (ongoing)
  15. Try and win at least 1 book per week to edit or proof-read √ and ×
  16. Write at least 1,000 words per day across all writing projects 


  1. Enter daily competitions daily 
  2. Walk dog daily – 30 minutes minimum weekdays; 1 hour minimum weekends and holidays 
  3. Update gig list weekly 
  4. Update diary weekly (FAVE activity) 
  5. Raise invoices weekly 
  6. Filing daily ×
  7. Shredding daily ×
  8. Bake weekly ×
  9. Visit parents fortnightly 
  10. Increase morning yoga to 30 minutes daily ×
  11. Build up to 2 high-energy workouts per week ×
  12. Drop at least a dress size by end of June (ongoing)
  13. Stop eating junk regularly √ and ×
  14. Walk 1 < 5-mile walk per month ×
  15. Ensure I always do diddley squat on my monthly do diddle day 
  16. Save up for a holidays and days out … 😉 ×


  1. Attend Leeds write-in at least once a fortnight √ and ×

Hmm, still needs work. Watch this space.

Cabin fever

snow 25 jan 2013I had such big plans for the weekend but they were foiled again (or some of them were) when four inches of snow started to fall on Friday evening. I heard a couple of gentle thuds and when I checked through the window, it was the milkman leaving Saturday’s milk – at 7pm on Friday – and as he’s more reliable than a weather vane …

Sure enough, by bedtime our street looked like this. I took pictures because I thought it would all be washed away by morning. It wasn’t. And on Saturday I couldn’t get out of the road again and wasn’t even going to try.

Bravo my milkman, though. Again.

So on Saturday instead of going to the Leeds write-in, I stayed home and watched the snow. I did more online stuff, ordered a heavy shop from Tesco to be delivered Sunday evening (heavy as in weight rather than money), and walked the dog. But by teatime I was starting to get cabin fever, so we (the dog and I) went to get chocolate (for me, not the dog), and spent the evening in front of the telly.

By Sunday morning a heavy downpour had washed it all away, so I packed the car up and took the dog to see my parents. Aside from nipping to the shop or passing someone in the street, they were the last people I’d had a proper conversation with two weeks earlier, so it was nice to get out and have a good drive down.  Not long after we got back, my Tesco delivery arrived.

I do love the snow. I love to watch it fall, I love to see it lying fresh and white and undisturbed. But I don’t like how this country simply fails to deal with it properly. The roads aren’t clear, our regular vehicles don’t have tyres suitable for driving in snow, and the front wheel drives are just too lightweight to hold themselves down.

Walking up to the village on Friday before the snow came was like climbing up a bobsleigh run. Rufus thought that was ace, but even in my wellies I thought it was dangerous. It hadn’t cleared since the last snow dump we’d had the previous Monday.

Yesterday, the thaw brought floods. We had new severe weather warnings, and still some people ignored them, so putting additional unnecessary strain on our emergency services. I didn’t see any floodwater on my 200-mile round trip, but there was still snow lying in places, despite sunshine for most of the drive.

The trip did me good and I was raring to go again by this morning and up at 7am … although I did go back to bed 20 minutes later “for 5 minutes …”, and was up again at 8am.

I’ve already done some writing work, written this week’s walk report for the local newspapers and cranked up the publicity machine for Friday’s publication day. Two local newspapers have already bitten at that story. I need to contact the Birmingham and Solihull papers as well, and the radio and television stations … (gulp …) I’ve also started proceedings against the nuisance neighbour.

I still have proof-reading to do and have been asked if I’d like to consider another project. I need to clear the work I already have first.

Join in

blog thumbnailIt’s been another week of proof-reading, proof-reading, proof-reading. I’ve been so busy catching up that every day I’ve run out of time before being able to log onto the laptop. I’ve not been over the doorstep, other than to walk the dog to either the letterbox or the Co-op. The car still has a pile of snow on it and at some point I need to fire it up to see if it, well, fires up.

Much of my Facebook stuff has been FB admin, anything else has mostly been sharing of other people’s funnies, and all of it via the mobile phone. I even had a whole day away from there, just logging in once or twice to reply to people who had bothered to leave a comment for me. That was actually quite liberating.

Yesterday was an interesting day when I hoped to get online and catch up with some work, but my nuisance neighbour is obviously bored and has been troublesome again. So the morning was spent talking to the police and the afternoon spent talking to my solicitor (twice) and to the local council (several different bounces, but all were trying to help, we just didn’t know the correct department).

In between, I also got embroiled in some local discussions about our council granting planning permission to incoming larger organisations on our greenbelt land – when we have so many brown-field sites and disused properties already lying vacant … I collated my responses and will probably look at converting them into reader’s letters, fillers or possibly an investigative journalistic piece, or 2. I’ve obviously hit a nerve as several of my comments have been amalgamated to promote the discussion … and the discussion has escalated with probably 98% agreeing with me. This is why I feel I should do something with the material.

Today, then, I finally got onto the computer, and did so as soon as I got up to make sure that I did. And I’ve been catching up with the job boards, applying for 7, receiving a query almost instantly on one that I hope I gave the right answer to. I have some proof-reading work to do and some editing, but as the end of the month approaches (already!) I need to be thinking in advance.

I also need to do some publicity work for the large print version of Night Crawler, as that’s published next Friday. I’ll be contacting the local media here and back in Birmingham.

There was some amusing blog spam awaiting me when I reached here finally, and I pasted it onto my Facebook … only I can do that and end up with a Yoda-speaking competition in the replies … 😉

I’ve been added to a new online writers’ group to compliment an actual writing group, and for the first time since I got up here, I have a real live writers’ group to attend on Saturdays in Leeds. I’ve only been here 9 years …

NINE years?! Yes, in February 2004 I moved up from Solihull, and in January 2006 I moved into my current house. Seven years ago. It’s frightening how time flies.

Tomorrow is the third group meeting. I made it to the first, passed on the second, and tomorrow is a Do Diddle Day. This means I don’t plan anything but see what I feel like when I get up. I shall probably feel like walking the dog, nipping to Leeds and then doing my shopping on the way home as, weather permitting (and we’ve had more snow forecast …), I’m visiting my parents on Sunday. The rail fare to Leeds is quite high, so I can’t see me attending every single week, but I will try to make it once a fortnight.

So, do join in. Greenbelt vs brown-field? What are your thoughts regarding development and the economy?

Have a great weekend.

Where’d the week go?

Bblog thumbnaillimey, what happened to the week?

Well, for a start, I got my head right down and cleared some work. I worked solidly until about 7pm last night, actually, proof-reading, proof-reading, proof-reading. And I still have some to do. But there’s only so many different ways I can think of saying “proof-read another book today …”, and as that’s pretty much all I did, well, I think you get my point.

The dog also got walked, I also went to town, I also did shopping.

And the big news of the week?

Nope, wasn’t snow, although we did get quite a bit of that all over the country. No, on Friday morning, in the midst of all of that proof-reading, my lovely, lovely postie brought me 4 copies of my new large print book, Night Crawler.

To say I was over the moon is the understatement of the year. I’ve had loads of things published with my name on over the years, including books. But this is the first time ever that someone else has loved my book enough to publish it for me.

It took me 16 years to sell that book and when my box of comp copies finally arrived, I could have wept.

For a sneak preview, bob along to my buy my books page and follow the link – it’s the first one there. It’s not available until 1 February, though, and it’s very expensive – as it’s the large print version – but I’ve already found a copy for sale with 25% discount here at the Book Depository, where they’re taking pre-orders. As this is the libraries version, though, it would just be better for everyone to just borrow a copy of it along with all of their other library books, like every week (nobody has to read it and it doesn’t cost anything), and then next January I might just get my first ever plr.

In other news, we did, as I say, indeed get snow. It was forecast to hit the country Friday morning but it arrived in Baggins Bottom on Thursday, just to be awkward. By Friday morning it had already started to melt. It carried on coming, however, and it carried on sticking, and so I wimped out and stayed indoors this weekend. It’s thawing again now, but we still have some forecast for later today and again tomorrow.

Normal service should resume tomorrow. Meanwhile, back to proof-reading …

I remembered …

blog thumbnailFirst of all, for the time being I’m including a thumbnail of the blog on every post that doesn’t have another pic because the links are putting up thumbnails of me instead when there isn’t another pic. Please indulge me in this, as I hate to see my mug everywhere. Thank you! 🙂

Secondly, I remembered what I’d been up to yesterday.

I baked a loaf. Granted, it was in the bread machine as I had other stuff to do, but first job yesterday was to chuck in all the ingredients and send it on its merry way. I also put a few washloads through, hung some on the clothes horse and put some though the dryer.

There were several phone calls, personal and business, and quite a few business emails to deal with. I caught up on a few days’ worth of writing and was invited to bid on a ghostwriting job that I quite fancy. It’s only a little job, but there are several of them. And I wrote the first walks report of the new year, remembering to attach a photograph and the latest walks programme. This goes out to 6 local newspapers and over Christmas we had quite a few spreads and the photograph I sent then was used too.

I also watched the snow fall, while we had it. I sat working in the living room with the kitchen door open where I could see the back window and the front window. It was lovely. But it soon stopped and what we had melted quickly.

Today I was up on time – probably for the first time this year – and it’s been snowing ever since. Nothing to write home about, but still lovely to watch all the same … and quite distracting. I have to move to where I can’t see a window without straining my neck if I want to finish any work today.

I’ve had a quick shufty at the job boards, but nothing much grabs me by the throat today. And I’ve responded to a further information request for the job I was invited to bid on yesterday. She wondered if I had any samples so I sent her one that I hope was pertinent.

I’m off out at about 2pm for a 2:30pm appointment, so I want to get as much as I can done before then, including possibly the dog walk. He’s so much better when I leave him at home if he’s already had his walk, and with this snow I don’t know how long it’ll take me to get back again.

When I do get home, I have more proof-reading to do.

Crazy sky

skyThere you go, bet you thought it’d be just another “SNOW” title, eh? Well, we have had some – or we did. It’s gone now. However, I just had to bore everyone instead with this sky picture.

The weekend was great. I made it to my appointment on Friday (it was 4:30pm – good job I checked) and treated myself to fish and chips on the way home, which I enjoyed in front of the telly. I even manged to take the dog for his walk before I went out so when I got home I was in for the night.

On Saturday I headed up to Leeds by train to meet those lovely NaNo writers who had invited me to join them. I stayed for 3 hours and sorted out a pile of work, mostly the WIP book, decided on an order of WIP and wrote a brand new outline from scratch that I thought I’d already written. I made some new friends and hope to go back next Saturday.

On Sunday, with one eye on the weather and one eye on the roads, I headed off down to Birmingham to see my parents. I managed good time with little traffic, and when the sky started to “close in” I started to head back, for another really good run. I did quite well too. I was ahead of a freezing fog, apparently, and the snow finally hit Baggins Bottom at about 8:30pm, three hours after I did.

Today has been a bit of a mish-mash of work. I’ve been busy all day but don’t seem to know how or why or what with, but I know I’ve been busy so that’s okay. No doubt I’ll remember at some point – I’ve been on the phone a lot and communicating by email and it’s all been work. So I must have been busy doing something.

I still have loads to do and lots to catch up with, so enjoy the crazy sky I experienced on my way home from Mom’s and Dad’s (taken by my passenger, naturally …).

Leeds write-in

Yes, I’m slowly getting there, getting organised, ticking things off the list, getting “out there” again.

Yesterday I pitched for 2 article writing jobs, and both were picked up immediately. I’ve also been given the go ahead to sketch out a few more. I need to do some more research still, and I need to frame the ideas in a more structured manner. But, generally, I have the material and I have the market. All I need to do is adhere the bum to that seat.

I had another restless night last night that resulted in another late morning. I think the dreamcatcher definitely needs to go up over my bed instead of over the spare bed, or I need to move into the spare bed for the foreseeable future. Also, the articles I’ve been collating material for have been on the occult, spooky happenings, weird experiences, and I think they’re playing on my mind a bit.

The late start means I’ve not been able to do as much as I wanted to today, and then I had to deal with some potentially sensitive correspondence whilst keeping my client in the loop. I have an appointment at 4pm too, or it might be 4:15pm (note to self: check diary …), so the day is broken up and I have to walk the dog yet as well.

Tomorrow I’m off to Leeds. The Leeds NaNoWriMo crew are having a write-in and I was invited to go along. Some will be working on last year’s NaNo, others will be working on other projects. The idea is just to have a write-in and churn out some words. I was also asked to fetch cookies, which rather makes me question my invite in the first place (ha ha ha), but I don’t think I’ll have time to make any. The train fare is going to cost me as it is so I need to try and clear some paid work to help pay for it.

We’re starting at 1pm and my buddy’s meeting me at the station about 10 minutes before then. The longest I can stay is 3 hours, because I have to get back to the dog and the travel time will eat into my time away.

I’ve decided to take the short projects – that’s the WIP notebook, the outline/planning notebook, the 1st draft notebook and the A4 2nd draft notebook. I shan’t take the writing bag, though, as it has everything in so is quite heavy and I’ll be spoiled for choice. I don’t want to waste time wondering what to work on first/next.

On Sunday we’re off to see the parents as we didn’t make it last week.

In between I’ll do some proof-reading, and may take a proof-reading job with me to Leeds as well in case I run out of steam.

Have a great weekend.

Writing bag

Yesterday was another busy day.

Despite reminding myself, I still almost forgot to fetch the washing in, so it was quite damp and had to go on the clothes horse. Most of that will go away today now.

I sat down with my writing WIP notebook and planned out all of the various drafts and stages for all of my short material: outline; draft 1; #2; #3; edit & submit. Then I opened a page for JANUARY and listed all of the jobs I have to do (proof-reading, writing, editing) or have already done in January along with what they’re worth. There’s space for admin work, such as meetings or invoices, and another space for research for future stories and articles or research visits for events or places of interest or walks I may want to write about in the future.

Plotting it all out like this gives me a tickable list (and we all know how much I love those), and it sets it all out so I can see exactly where I am and how much more work I need to get in for January.

Thankfully I don’t need any more work for January. 😉

I managed more than 1,300 words altogether, over all projects, and I packed a writing bag.

This writing bag is a gorgeous red soft leather shoulder briefcase I bought for work a long time ago. I decided that it’s too extravagant to hide away in the bottom of a wardrobe. So now it has all of my current writing projects in:

  • Catch the Rainbow
  • We Also Served
  • fave market current guidelines and current story
  • current long short story (Ace of Wands)
  • daily freewriting exercises (A Writer’s Book of Days + notebook)

It also contains:

  • Devon’s 5 (Stories) in 10 (Weeks)
  • A5 desk diary day-to-a-page
  • A5 writing journal (day-to-a-page diary)
  • WIP notebook
  • 2 x WIP shorthand notebooks (1 for outlines; 1 for 1st drafts)
  • ideas notebook
  • A4 notebook (for 2nd drafts)
  • daily food and exercise trackers
  • pencil tin
  • 12″ wooden ruler
  • handypack of tissues
  • chapstick
  • Kindle

The bag’s quite packed and a little heavy, but it’s a shoulder bag so easy to carry around and it stays with me for pretty much all of the time. Yes, it even comes to bed with me (in case I wake in the night with something burning to be written). I’ve used a few bags in my time, but this is the only one I can fit everything in. I need another for the proof-reading and editing projects …

What would you keep in your writing bag?

Rufus woke me at 4:30am coughing (he was fine) and I gave up trying to go back to sleep at about 8am. So I got up, did my yoga, had breakfast, managed a couple of hours work … and went back to bed again … The joys of working from home.

Today I’ve checked the jobs boards, entered the daily competitions and put another washload through. It was far too cold to hang any out this morning. It’s bitter out there. So once the clothes horse has been emptied, I’ll be filling it again.

I have a proof-reading job I want to shift today, I still have some of my daily writing to do and there’s a dog to walk. And a bonus email arrived saying another proof-reading job was in the post.

Happy days. 🙂