A busy old week

It’s been a busy old week, and there’s still a way to go, but halfway along I’m feeling it.

On Monday we had thunderstorms ALL DAY, and Rufus barked at the thunder ALL DAY. I do like to have the doors and windows open at this time of year and enjoy listening to any rain showers or rumbles of thunder in the distance, but Rufus wasn’t having any of that this time. No, he wanted everyone’s full attention. EVERYONE’S.

I had a busy day anyway. I wrote and submitted 3 articles, sent one of them off to 6 local newspapers and the other 2 off to a magazine. The magazine acknowledged them straight away, and one of the newspapers acknowledged the other.

I also started editing a book, and all of that reading and writing, coupled with the dog’s constant barking, left me with a grumpy headache by teatime. So I called it a day and we had a chilled evening on the settee in front of the telly with Chinese for tea. Perfick.

Yesterday the dog was quieter. I think he had a sore throat. So I was able to crack on with some more work, which I’ve continued today. I like working on my lap downstairs, and I’ve enjoyed doing that for a couple of days.

I also had to come onto the computer – when it wasn’t thundering – to do some online stuff, checking for jobs, corresponding with clients, etc.

Today has been a day of also speaking to money people. My workload has increased significantly for August and already, with still 3 weeks to fill, I’ve broken-even income-wise, with £40 to spare (apx $60). Instead of lurching from day to day, I once again have work in for 3 weeks (including this week). If I can sustain that, then I’m back on track. But I needed to let the money people know.

I have 2 budget income figures: one is “break even”; the other is “comfortable profit”. As I say, I’m already into “break even” for August, so If I can get work in for just 2 of the remaining weeks for August, I’m in more than “comfortable profit” and am considering a very short break away from it all. I usually have the August bank holiday week off anyway, and I’m getting a yearning for Dent.

I had a holiday in Dent about 4 years ago, at Easter, but the snow kept me confined to barracks as Mountain Rescue were pleading with walkers not to go out onto the hills unless they were very experienced, knew the area well, and were not alone. As I failed on all counts, I spent the week indoors until the roads cleared, and then I did some touristy stuff.

Last night I had a quick surf to see if the cottage I stayed in was still available, and it doesn’t look as though it is. However, I have found another that has a special offer for 3 nights at the end of August. I’m now working on the basis that if it’s meant to be the offer will still be available as soon as I have the funds to spare. It’s very cheap.

There are some lovely walks around Dent, plus there are some interesting characters (the terrible knitters of Dent for a start) and some nice little places to visit. A little holiday would be very nice, but I have to prioritise.

For the rest of this week, then, I have another commissioned article to write, this book to finish editing, some fillers to resubmit, the gig list to update for August, and a couple of books to write. I’ve also seen a major short story competition I’d like to have a pop at.

But I am feeling weary …

Dent
Dent

Pudding week

Once again it’s been another fun-packed very busy weekend.

Thursday I was busy all day editing a book for a client. It took me longer than I thought it would because English isn’t her first language, so there was a lot of tidying up to do there. I was determined to finish it, though, as I had Friday off, and finally delivered the finished job at 12:30am Friday morning.

Friday was my do diddle day, but I only had a half a one this time as I had to head off to Birmingham in the middle of the afternoon. I popped in to have a few hours with my parents, then I went to collect my friend and we headed off to see GlamRockz, one of my favourite bands, play the Roadhouse in Birmingham for the first time. It started off slow, but the room soon filled up and they had people dancing from the second song in. That’s almost unheard off up here in Yorkshire, it’s like an unwritten rule that we don’t dance until the second set. But in Brum they had no such rule.

I found out at the end of the night that my friend wasn’t really looking forward to it because she’s never really been into glam music, which was a bit of a shock – not that she wasn’t into it but that she didn’t think to mention it. But she loved it too and by the end of the night was jigging on the spot with the rest of us – and she got a tartan scarf.

A few of our friends didn’t turn up, and they didn’t even bother to let us know they weren’t turning up. But we didn’t care. It was their loss and we just won’t ask them again. We had a great night.

I headed back home at the end of the night and arrived at about 2:30am Saturday morning. It was really weird coming home to an empty house. Rufus was having a big adventure at another friend’s house and both cats were out. Both cats came in, but within about 4 hours they were asking to go out again.

I had a nice lie-in and at 11:30am my dog was returned to me. We had a cuppa and a chat, and then we headed off for the 2013 Coalfields festival, for which I had a couple of press passes. The weather was fine but cool enough to sit out in and we had a good 3½ hours there, listening to a few new bands, eating hot dogs and ice creams and drinking pop.

We didn’t really know any of the bands we saw as the ones we did know were all on later and the poet had to get back for his own work that night. But we were impressed by a band from Manchester called Rise and a few others that might be local – Demographic, Path Unknown and Red Rum – and we’ll be watching out for those again. (All links on Facebook.) We also liked the idea of the band Pulp Friction covering the songs from the film Pulp Fiction and we even did our own John Travolta and Uma Thurman impressions on the dancefloor. 🙂

The event was well-planned, nicely laid out and very laid back with a wonderful festival atmosphere. Our only criticism, and it’s a very small one, is that the main stage seemed to overpower all of the other mini-tents. It would have been better had the main stage been facing one way, and the smaller tents placed behind it, because the noise really did taint the rest of the music. But apart from that, we had another wonderful time.

On Sunday I had the rest of my do diddle day and when I finally surfaced, I actually did some work. I did quite a lot of diary work for the next 2½ weeks, as I have work in for next week and the week after already. And this week is the most stupidly busy week I’ve had for a long time. I’m calling it pudding week because it’ll set me up nicely for August. I’m already almost up to budgeted income and I still have 2½ weeks left to fill.

Today I have 3 articles that need to be submitted; 2 of these are for the red-top magazine I already work for, the other is the walks report for the 6 local newspapers. I also have a non-fiction book to start editing and a novel to finalise and sign off. The 2 red-tops are drafted, I just need to get them typed and submitted.

Busy day already.

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Back on track

One of those article pitches I wanted to send? I sent it yesterday. She just commissioned it. I’m very happy about that – I need to scratch that freelance itch. 🙂

I’m hoping I’m back on track now. I spent some considerable time planning the diary for the next couple of weeks and a lot of time pitching for work. Two editing jobs have already come in from there, one for this week and one for a week in August, and one of those will lead to at least one other job. I also have another book to edit this week and I have loose ends to tie up on a previous novel.

On Monday I was very smug because I completed my expenditure for 2012 – 2013 and I submitted my tax return. I also pitched for 2 editing jobs, and I got my walks report written and off to 6 local newspapers. On Tuesday I pitched for another 3 editing jobs and spent much of the day finalising terms on those already mentioned.

I’ve filled in all the necessary bureaucratic forms I need to at the moment, which will free up time. I still have one phone call to make and one batch of information to send off, and then that’s me done with other people’s guff for the timebeing.

And then I can concentrate on my own work and the work I already have in.

I’m a day short this week due to a Do Diddle Day on Friday. For those new to Baggins Bottom, this is a day off every month where the diary stays empty. Nothing is planned, nothing is booked. I just get up in the morning – if I feel like it – and do whatever the hell I please. This could be absolutely nothing or it could be catching up on DVDs. It could be reading, or writing, or thinking. It can be a trip to the seaside or to the country. Or it could be work if I want. It can be an unscheduled trip to see the parents or it can be a day shopping. The thing is, you don’t plan …

… only this time there is a bit of a plan, and this was mostly due to timing than anything else. This Friday evening I’m off to Birmingham to support one of my favourite Yorkshire bands and to see some of my Brummie friends. I’ll also pop in to see Mom and Dad, make sure they’re all right. And it’s a belated birthday treat for one of said Brummie friends. I’m coming back afterwards, but because it’s a Do Diddle Day, I’ll probably have a long lie-in to compensate for the late night.

Rufus is also off for a big adventure. The poet’s coming to collect him and they’re going to have some quality time together. 😀 If the dog settles, he’s staying out all night; if he doesn’t, he’s coming back home. I’m not sure which of them is more excited!

27 julyOn Saturday we’re off to the Coalfields festival in Barnsley. There are a couple of bands on I’d like to see, but this festival happens every year and it’s the first time I’ll have made it. We won’t be there all day, but it’ll be nice to show our faces.

Then on Sunday … nothing. I have absolutely nothing planned for Sunday. Perhaps a run to the seaside or the country, perhaps the rest of my Do Diddle Day. But Sunday, this week, is an actual real day of rest. For now.

See you on the other side of the weekend.

Great weekend

So after the hassle of the past week or so I finally got some time off and was able to enjoy the weekend.

On Saturday morning at around 10am-ish, we headed off to Harrogate for the 2013 Crime Writing Festival. We were meeting Carol there, who was clutching our tickets in her little hand. We made it in good time, with just 10 minutes to go before our event, the New Blood panel discussion chaired by Val McDermid.

The beautiful Old Swan Hotel (where Agatha Christie is believed to have stayed when she disappeared for a few days) was packed again, but the weather was glorious although cooler than of late, so it was pleasant to sit on the lawn after our event with a picnic and a Pimms – my first ever Pimms. (I’m being spoiled rotten at the moment.) Carol and I were also treated to a new book each and it was my fourth time seeing Val McDermid. She told me I’d start to get bored of hearing all the same old jokes if I carried on at that rate, but she always makes me laugh and she always, always has good advice well worth heeding.

After our picnic we parted ways with Carol and nipped into the Mercer Gallery to view the current free exhibition of art. It was all very civilised and we had another lovely day.

A quick pit stop at home, then it was off to see one of my favourite bands with three of my friends. We all had a great time there too. I’m having a fantastic private life at the moment.

On Sunday I had a chat with my dad and with my mom, which is always nice, and then I worked … or I started to work. I’d really like someone to remind me to do my expenses on a monthly basis this year, please. I keep pushing them to one side and then it’s a mammoth task that takes the best part of a day when it would probably take just half-an-hour a time if I just kept on top of it.

I think I’m going to schedule in a new diary item: once a month – expenses.

I also pitched for 3 jobs and was invited to pitch for another. I had one job confirmed, and then another single job made into 2 jobs will hopefully be confirmed imminently. I still need to pitch those 2 writing jobs; this is why I need to keep on top of routine jobs like expenses so I have time to do everything I need to do when I need to do it.

Today, then, that double job will hopefully land on the desk, but I have a book to edit if it gets delayed and the walks report to write. Then it’s going to be busy, busy, busy as I’m a day down this week due to a Do Diddle Day, when I also hope to drive down to Birmingham to see another fave band play, with some of my Brummie friends.

UK call centres (mini rant alert)

So, after spending the best part of a week arguing the toss with a government department and finally getting a result on Wednesday, Thursday saw me hurtling into a similar ding dong with my telephone and internet provider. I really am at the end of my patience, though – what little of it there is – and once I realised I was speaking to another ignoramus  I hung up.

Today I received my customer satisfaction questionnaire … oh, did I enjoy filling that one in this week. Every reply was 1 (totally dissatisfied) and my reason was the script-reading buffoon at the other end.

And so I have made a momentous decision. When my telecom contract comes to an end (end of January), I’m moving to a company that employs British staff on British soil for British customers.

Really, I’m all for helping employment in other countries, but not when they’re total rubbish and less when we have such huge unemployment in our own country. We should get our own house in order before aiding other countries, and, despite being quite the socialist, this is the way I’ll be leaning in future.

I’m sick to death of dealing with incompetents.

My patience is also worn thin because I’ve been struggling with the formatting of a novel I’ve been editing. I’ve already done it once, but it wasn’t translating well to the FTP server thingy, so I’ve had to look at it again and I can’t see what the author has done. I should have saved a version in .rtf, but then I would have had to do a lot more basic formatting too, and they don’t pay me enough for that as well.

Today will mostly be that editing/formatting job. I’ve pitched for another 10 jobs since Wednesday and I’ve done my diary for next week. I still need to get 2 writing pitches out, so I’ll be working for some of this weekend.

I’m off to Harrogate tomorrow with a couple of friends for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival. We had a corking day last year, and the weather looks set to be hot, hot, hot again.

Tomorrow evening I take friends to a gig so they can talk to the band about something.

It might be too warm to drive the dog down to Birmingham (no air-conditioning in the car), so Sunday will probably be a writing day instead. I need to shift some work.

I have lots of writing work to do. I have the novel to be cracking on with, I have those 2 new pitches I need to get out, and I need to get the freelance writing WiP moving again. I have a daily allocation for freelance writing in my diary now and I really should use it. I also have interviews to transcribe for the non-fiction book.

I have a new editing job to start too with, hopefully, another on the way – we thrashed out the details yesterday evening and now I’m just awaiting confirmation.

And I have my tax return to schedule in and an additional application form to complete.

Looks like we’re set for another nice weekend. The rain-dance isn’t working. I’ll have to switch to just talking to the Universe. But y’all enjoy it. 🙂

Tomorrow we eat

I’ve had a draining, exhausting week, the culmination of which I hope will be tomorrow. I’m on a very short fuse due to the incompetence of a certain government department I’ve been dealing with, where not one single person could be bothered to pick up a telephone and call me back.

After threatening them with writing a letter to my MP, sending a reader’s true experience to one of the red-tops, and then setting my local authority onto them, it’s taken 3 days but we finally have a result – and they hoped I appreciated they’d dealt with it urgently for me …

Urgently.

This is because (1) they lost my documents; (2) they didn’t tell me the documents had never arrived; (3) my documents were finally discovered in Glasgow (that’s Scotland) instead of Sunderland (that’s England). Not one of which was my fault. I did everything they asked of me, I sent everything back. And if I thought I’d get away with it another time, I’d be sending them an invoice for the hours I’ve put into this these past 7 days.

They should have done this assessment in December, and then again in April. But they didn’t.

I’ve also not been very well and the heat is still very stifling, so Diane is not a very happy bunny just now at all.

Still, onwards and upwards.

Now that this … issue has finally been rectified, I can put some other schemes into place. That means tonight I’ll be doing more form-filling, but I also want to look at the diary. It’s been neglected for a week or so and I’m itching to open it up and fill those blank pages again. The new July regime has been slightly delayed but I can’t afford to let it continue to slip. I need to get back on the case now.

I have been doing some work in between this hassle. I’ve been doing the electronic edits on a book I thought I’d done last week and forgotten about, and I’ve pitched for 16 editing or proofreading jobs. I want to pitch for at least 2 writing jobs before the end of the week and get the writing WiP rolling again.

Now the rubbish is out of the way, I can do some shopping tomorrow, I can pay some bills, and we can eat.

All we need now is for the temperature to drop. About 10 degrees should do it. And a spot of rain.

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Too hot

I’m sorry, and I know I’m a winter person and all that, and that lots of British people moan about the weather. But I’m afraid I’m one who moans about the weather only when it’s too hot. And right now, it’s too raving hot.

All of my weekend plans were foiled due to the weather. I know I didn’t have many plans, but the biggest one is that with the super pollen count at the moment, poor air quality and very hot temperatures, I felt rubbish Saturday morning when I woke up and spent most of the day in (or on the) bed. I stayed in Saturday night. On Sunday I didn’t go to see my parents, and instead crashed on the settee listening to the cricket. (Which was very exciting, by the way – we won – by the skin of our teeth.)

It’s just too hot.

Today it’s still too hot. I have the parasol set up in the garden to keep the cool beneath it and I’ll be hanging washing out. The rest of the time I’m upstairs, where the heat gathers, at my desk, sitting at a laptop that gives off heat.

I don’t want to hear a single person complain that we’ve not had any summer this year. I know far too many people who are keeling over with heat- and sun-stroke, some leading to nasty asthma attacks, and it’s not nice.

Anyway, enough moaning from me.

Today I’m dropping a book onto a client’s server. I started to do it last week, but the internet fell over and was then quite unstable, and I forgot I hadn’t done it. So that’s my priority today, workwise.

I have a new book to start editing, electronic and hard copies. I hope to start that tomorrow.

I want to get a pitch off to one of my red-top magazines, one that I work for, and I’ve threatened to go public on something else if I don’t receive a call back within the hour today.

They were calling me back on Wednesday, and asked me to keep my mobile phone on, even though I’d told them I was going into a meeting. Friday morning they were going to call back “within the hour”. Friday afternoon they were going to “escalate” it to management, and call me back “within the hour”. And today they’re “escalating” it again and, er, calling me back “within the hour” …

I’ve told them this time that if they don’t call back “within the hour” I’m going to contact my MP immediately and then write my pitch for the red-tops.

I’m already planning my pitch …

I have my MP on speed dial …

And I have a novel to write.

Enjoy the sunshine, dudes. I’m doing a rain dance.

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wishing I was here

I thought it was Saturday

I was convinced today was Saturday for some reason and was just in the process of beating myself up for forgetting to post again when I realised it was still Friday. That was quite nice, knowing I still have a whole weekend ahead.

On Wednesday evening we went to listen to Judith Barrow talk about her latest book Changing Patterns, in Slaithwaite Library. We got there early so had fish and chips for tea alongside the canal. It was a lovely evening, nice and mild, and it was nice to finally meet Judith, who is a fellow Seriously Serious Scribe on Facebook. We also met up with my friend Carol, who you’ll often see in the comments here.

nc largeWhile there we asked if they had any copies of my large print book, Night Crawler, as there wasn’t one on the shelf. I was delighted to learn that Kirklees has 2 whole copies of the book, but I was over the moon when they said one had been out twice and the other had been out 8 times. I was so deliriously happy it bordered on the childish. But I didn’t care.

People are borrowing my book! If I’m lucky, I might also get plr. 😀

(Incidentally, this isn’t the cover I chose for the book, it was the one I was given by the publisher, but I wasn’t going to argue.)

So after I calmed down, we settled down to listen to Judith speak and it was nice to be in another actual, physical writerly environment. I’m always interested in the process of writing, from idea to finished product, and I also like to know how much research has been done and how it’s applied to the work in progress.

Yesterday was pretty much more of the same. I pitched for more work and I did computer-based work, and I’m doing that today too. I’m just finishing up one job, another has arrived in the post, and I’m negotiating another with a potentially new client that should lead to regular work. There’s another job I pitched for last week, re-pitched this week, and I want to send out a hard-copy pitch in case my emails went into their spam. That would also be a nice little regular contract if it comes in.

I’m not going out this weekend. I’m off to see the parents on Sunday, or maybe Saturday, I haven’t decided yet, and the rest of the time will be chilling in front of the telly or working. We’ve had more hot weather forecast so it will be too warm to take the dog out during the day.

Y’all have a good one. 🙂