More reading fodder

So yesterday I was all set to surf the job boards, bid for some work, edit a book. But as usual, it didn’t get very far.

The book I couldn’t edit yet because I was awaiting a reply from an email sent last Friday. That email finally arrived overnight last night, but today is already full so I’ll have to reschedule that one for Monday.

I got as far as my record of jobs bid for and could hardly believe my eyes at one I’d lost. Not because I’d lost it – that’s their prerogative and their loss. No, I was astonished because this was a 9-week job, of solid editing work, and the person who’d won the job had bid just $153. That’s £91. For 9 weeks work. And the job site fee had to come out of that too. And exchange commission if the contractor wasn’t in America.

That is ridiculous, and I hope they both – the client and the contractor – are ashamed of themselves.

How can anyone expect a quality job for just 10 quid a week? (Minus fees and commission.)

So, moving swiftly on, and totally disgusted, I closed the site down, closed the internet down, closed the computer down, and went to the literary festival in Doncaster for solace.

The person I was specifically going to see was Michael Fowler, a Twitter buddy of mine who is also the father of the lovely young police officer who looked after me during my Pervy Nextdoor Man episodes. He also writes crime fiction and has done, successfully, since 2010. Co-presenting the event was Moth competition winner Rebecca Muddiman. The two of them read from their work and then led an informal chat. It was very interesting and I came away with a book each – Heart of the Demon and Stolen respectively.

So that’s 4 new books on the bookshelves when we haven’t really sorted out what’s in boxes in the garage. But hey, who cares? It’s what we do, right?

Today, then, I will be bidding for work again. I’d like to do some writing. I’ll be reading something or other. And then I’m going shopping. We have a gig this evening in Doncaster, I’m probably going to Leeds tomorrow for the write-in, we have a gig tomorrow night, and the poet’s off fishing (hopefully) on Sunday. So I may get chance to do some more of my own writing then too.

Over on Facebook I shared this picture:

books

And it’s started some discussion on how tidy the books are in the picture. I arrange my books (when they’re not in boxes in the garage) in alphabetical order by author and then chronological order by book. How do you arrange yours?

Have a great weekend.

New reading fodder

Last week I had an urge to read a “proper” book. I have lots of books on my Kindle and I’ve been reading 2 on there and one “proper” non-fiction (aside from all the books I read for editing or proofreading). But sometimes, when my eyes are tired of looking at a screen, or if the light is too bright for the Kindle, or if there’s no power supply, I crave a “proper” book.

And all of my “proper” books are in boxes in the garage …

On Friday night we thought about going to see some friends in their band, but by the time we were ready to get ready to go, the band would have already started. So we had a lazy evening in front of the telly instead.

(Bear with me on the books …)

On Saturday we were going to go fishing, but the weather forecast wasn’t very good, so we went to see my parents in Birmingham instead.

On the way home we dropped in at Hatton Country World in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside. We only went to have a mooch in the antique and bric-a-brac shops but it’s somewhere I often used to go for a visit and the poet has heard such a lot about it, I decided to take him. On the way I also showed him some of the lovely private houses that can be found in that part of the midlands.

(I haven’t forgotten the books …)

On the way back from there, we dropped in to see the poet’s parents in Doncaster. And when we got home, we had another lazy evening in front of the telly.

On Sunday, the poet had an afternoon gig, so that cut the day in half really. We went to do some shopping, then dropped him off and I joined him an hour or so later. The gig buddy and her bloke came out too, and we stayed to see the first set of another band that played afterwards, who are also friends of ours. And by the time we got back we were ready for another lazy evening in front of the telly.

Monday was a bank holiday here in the UK, and the day we’d decided to do that fishing. So while the poet sorted out his tackle, I had a mooch in one of the boxes of books.

(See!)

I sorted out a writing guide from my lovely friend Lynne Hackles and a novel, An April Shroud, from the late, great Reginald Hill. I also packed the Kindle, a pencil tin and a notebook.

However, on Sunday, the poet had pulled his back quite badly either humping gear or climbing on to the stage clumsily. He was in quite a lot of pain and the promised sunshine was fast turning to cool rain. Undeterred, we tootled off to the fishery anyway, but when they gave him his “peg”, it was on a part of the complex that dogs aren’t allowed. So Rufus would have to stay in the car.

With all things considered, the poet decided to cancel the fish and we went for a picnic instead. So my lovely bag of books didn’t get used this time, but it’s ready for the next time. Then when we got home, after I decided to empty at least one box of books into the bookcase, we had another lazy evening in front of the telly …

LOST_RIVERTuesday we were back at work and I kept forgetting about the Doncaster literary festival. So when I remembered, I had to call the poet to see if we could go to the opening event last night. He’d forgotten too, but we decided that we would go as we’d had so many evenings in front of the telly just recently.

And we’re very glad we went.

The speaker (and event ambassador) was Stephen Booth, someone I’ve “known” and chatted with on Twitter and Facebook for some time, and whose books I’ve thoroughly enjoyed over the years. He gave a very interesting talk and found time at the end to finally say a proper hello, have a very quick chat, and sign a couple of books for us – Black Dog for the poet and Lost River for me.

So now we both have reading fodder and I’ve broken the back of unpacking the boxes of books … yeah, right …

What reading fodder do you have at the moment?

Steady week

It’s been a good and steady week with me clearing the decks of lots of outstanding works.

On Monday I shifted a non-fiction back to the author, and to the publisher for typesetting. On Tuesday I cracked on with author revisions on a novel and returned that back to the publisher on Wednesday, and also on Wednesday I pitched for 12 editing or proofreading jobs.

Thursday was a busy day. I finally caught up with the diary, scheduling work in for this week and for next, and putting all the regular stuff in there between now and the end of June, when the diary runs out and my new one starts.

I entertained builders, who were climbing around the inside of the eaves to the house looking for a persistent leak that’s probably coming through the flashing around the dormer window. And I started looking into tenancy agreements and legal landlord requirements so that I’m not doing anything shifty with the house rental.

Last night, while the poet went to band practice, I went to see my tenant to make sure everything was okay and to give her an official copy of the tenancy agreement that we both signed.

Today I hope to finish another non-fiction, get it back to the author, and to the publisher for typesetting, and invoiced. I also have a hair appointment and will probably grab something from the supermarket on the way home to have with tea.

We have nothing planned for this evening. We have nothing planned for tomorrow, although we may go fishing.

On Sunday the poet has an afternoon gig, so that will tie us up for the rest of the day … (The last time he had a Sunday afternoon gig we went to see some friends in another band Sunday evening and he ended up getting up for the second set when their singer fell ill …)

On Monday it’s another bank holiday here in England and I think we’re off to Birmingham again to see my parents. I hope we’ll also be able to go and see the poet’s parents too, in Doncaster. (Or, depending on the weather, we may do Brum and fishing the other way around.)

On the way back from Brum, if it’s nice, we may drop into Kingsbury Water Park again, or we may try Calke Abbey, which is also on the way home.

I’d also suggested Drayton Manor Park and Zoo, which we also pass, because it always used to allow dogs. However, on checking their website just now, it seems this is no longer the case. So well done, Drayton Manor. Here are two visitors who may never come again. (I’d understand if they never allowed dogs, but when I used to take my own …)

Next week it’s the Doncaster Literary Festival. I hope we can get along to some of the events.

What are you up to this weekend?

Mad weekend

We had a very busy weekend again, starting on Friday with me frantically trying to finish some work as we were out at a gig Friday night. I got the invoice sent off and into the system anyway, because I’d been pulled off the job I wanted to finish to have a look at something that apparently couldn’t wait a day longer. But I did that too.

Friday night was a great evening with the band, the poet, the sound, the crowd, everything on form. We saw friends we hadn’t seen in a while and, apparently, the pub was the busiest it’s been on a Friday night in a few weeks, so that was nice.

We didn’t get to bed until 3am, though, so had a very lazy start to Saturday. Then when we got up we had to do shopping, we ran a few errands, and we went to do the Doncaster visit. Saturday evening was another gig, a private party this time, so it finished a lot sooner.

On Sunday, after another relatively late start, we headed off to Birmingham and after a couple of hours with my parents we headed back via Kingsbury Water Park near Coleshill (pronounced Coze-‘ill), where we enjoyed another couple of hours in glorious sunshine. We had some proper time off too, and didn’t even take any photographs. Just enjoyed the walk, the scenery, the weather, the fresh air, and the steam exhibition that was going on.

Yesterday was mostly spent finishing that work I invoiced for on Friday and I wouldn’t allow myself to do anything else until that was done. It’s done now, and it’s back to other work today.

So far today I’ve done this blog, but I also want to do the diary and, before noon, write the walks report and get that submitted. Then I have a novel to look at (author’s revisions), a non fiction to proofread and another to start editing.

blog thumbnail

Social media cold turkey?

On Wednesday we saw this article in The Guardian about Game of Thrones author George RR Martin in which he explains how he can write so much so quickly. Basically, his computer isn’t connected to the internet and he uses an old DOS (disk operatiing system) version of WordStar, which also doesn’t suggest spelling or grammar alternatives to him while he types.

Brief aside
First of all, who remembers WordStar?

I remember WordStar well. It was the first word processing package I ever trained on or took exams in while I was working for the Industrial Society in Birmingham, back in the day. I was Admin Officer for their IT department and had only ever used an electronic typewriter up until that point, or the very archaic data-processing system they used to have at Birmingham City Council (Engineers Department).

Yes, I had proper jobs long before I gave up the rat race. 😀

Back to the point
So, in this article, this author reckons that without the distraction of the internet and all that entails, he can quite happily bash away at his keyboard to his heart’s content.

And, well, the evidence is there to support this.

A challenge?
Now, I’ve long said that if I just hammered away at an old typewriter, or even scribble in a notepad, I’d get a hell of a lot more done without the distractions of the internet. I even have an old portable typewriter, although granted it’s still in the loft at the other house … I think.

However, every time I try it with just my notepad and pen, the mobile phone still distracts me.

But, would I be able to go cold turkey? And would the poet?

Not as easy as that
Unfortunately, I have a lot of work via the internet. I get work via emails. I get work via social media. I sell books via the internet. I surf job boards online.

Aside from that, Facebook was a great lifeline for me when I first left my husband and kept me in touch with lots of friends, family, colleagues, all over the globe. I still use it to keep in touch with the people who were there for me; I still use it to wish people a happy birthday; I still use it to try and support others.

Also, let’s not forget that blogging comes under social media/internet activity, and Baggins Bottom is a blog. The gig list is also a blog, and the gig list has a Facebook page too. So does the poet’s band. YouTube is the same. As is Twitter. And LinkedIn. And SoundCloud. And GoodReads. Plus ALL of those I never, ever use or even look at.

Cold turkey
And so the poet and I are kind of agreeing that we may go cold turkey for a while. Probably just a day at first, see how we get on. Maybe just Facebook or Twitter or YouTube. And hopefully the gig list and the blog and the pages won’t suffer as a result. Or my work.

But, saying that, the poet said he’d not been on at all this morning, while I was sending an email to lovely-already-boss via the mobile phone. However, he does get FB notifications to his phone (I don’t), and he’d apparently received a Twitter message … and read it …

It can be done, though. Theoretically. We both have laptops without internet connections. And batteries are supposed to last longer when they’re just used as laptops. Or, I might just haul out the old portable typewriter. And mobile phones can have applications turned off and auto-notify deactivated, etc.

Disappear
So, if we do disappear, that’s probably why. And we won’t be gone for long. Just to see if we can do it. And, if we can, perhaps we’ll both also make progress with our respective writing projects.

The blog and the gig list will still be there and updated. I’ll still surf the job boards and send and receive work by email. We just won’t have FB or Twitter or YouTube or LinkedIn or anything else constantly running in the background.

Or I won’t. Could you?

Have a great weekend.

Typewriter Keys

Dedicated to my diary (and a list)

I love my diary.

I like to be able to open a book and know what I’m doing or where I’m supposed to be without having to search for the phone or boot up the laptop. Last year’s diary had a lovely touchy-feely cover on it, but this year’s is a more functional, bog standard from Tesco. Last year’s didn’t have enough spaces inside for stuff, but it was nicely touchy-feely.

I like an academic diary too, one that starts in July rather than January. This is partly to buck the trend and to be filling in a lovely new diary when everyone else’s are already scribbled in. But I think it also stems back to when I was a teacher and every year started in the summer with enrolment.

Last night I started to fill in the new academic diary (2014/2015). But it took a lot longer than usual because now it’s not just my weekends and holidays that go in first; the poet’s go in there too. And his work trips. And his gigs.

Usually the session is done in one go, but last night I only managed weekends and holidays and next year’s Big Adventure (which was the first thing to go in there), and it took me All Night.

Because I’m very anal about my diary, I also had to complete this coming week of work, so that I know what I’m doing today for a start (I wasn’t writing a blog … which is one reason the diary’s written in pencil, as it isn’t cast in stone). But also because while I still have a lot of work in I need to keep sight of of when that work runs out. I need to be looking for more work now, or reminding clients that they haven’t sent me any for a while if there’s a gap looming in the near future.

I also had to add in the Doncaster Literary Festival, something that launched last year for the first time, I believe, but something we’d both like to go to this year, especially after I saw it posted on Facebook last night. It’s at the end of May.

I still have the birthdays and anniversaries to put into the new diary, and then the poet’s gigs, our visits to Birmingham and Doncaster, his fishing trips, my Leeds write-ins … then we’ll see what’s available for actual work …

We were scheduled to go back to the Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate at “the start” of this year (i.e. July), but we decided to book another holiday to Dent instead for that week.

So this is why my diary plays such a big part in my working (and personal) life. I love to fill it in because it means I have work – and a life. And here’s this week’s to do list as a result:

  • write blog post x 3
  • daily competitions x 4
  • surf job boards daily x 4
  • pay for Big Adventure
  • diary work (started)
  • write walks report
  • submit walks report to 7 x local newspapers
  • manual edits on non-fiction #1
  • electronic edits on non-fiction #1
  • send non-fiction #1 back to author
  • send non-fiction #1 for typesetting
  • author reviews on non-fiction #2
  • proofreader reviews on non-fiction #2
  • return non-fiction #2 for 2nd proofs run
  • manual edits on non-fiction #3 (will become #1 next week)
  • invoicing (hurrah!)
  • Monkey Dust gigs x 2
  • Leeds write-in (possibly …)
  • Trip to Birmingham
  • Trip to Doncaster

This is why I’m more than capable of sitting on a riverbank, doing nothing and gazing at the water. For hours. When I get the chance.

One I prepared earlier - this is last year's diary for the same period I'm starting just now.
One I prepared earlier – this is last year’s diary for the same period I’m starting just now.

The weekend that never was

I had such good intentions to crack on with some work, and we had a weekend of activity planned as well. And then I caught the lurgy off the poet and, as ever, the best laid plans …

We’d already cancelled our camping trip because he was poorly last weekend, but by Wednesday he’d rallied enough to go fishing, and get ready for work the next day (we were on holiday from work). Then on Wednesday evening I started to get a bit of a throat …

Friday and Saturday were my worst days. On Friday I didn’t even get dressed, and that’s very unlike me. I usually make the weekday morning cuppa too, but on Friday I had one brought to me and was told very firmly to stay in bed. So I did. Saturday evening he had a gig to do, and that knocked him back a bit too. So Sunday’s trip to Birmingham was grudgingly cancelled, so that we didn’t share our germs and to give us chance to recharge.

Today we’re both feeling quite a lot better, though we’re both still very full of cold.

I have the diary to update (hurrah!), the walks report to write and submit, a new non-fiction to start editing, and proofreader/author reviews to do for a previous one.

And I also have books to put back onto shelves as the poet did manage to hang bookshelves for me and fetch the bookcase in from the garage.

So, while I do that, here are a few more fishing photos for your enjoyment:

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Greylag geese and goslings. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
P1030548
Mallards. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
P1030549
Canada geese. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
P1030588
Mallard and ducklings. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
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Greylag geese. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
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Angler fishing. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
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Mirror carp. (Picture: Diane Parkin)

All gone by in a whirl …

Oh, it’s been a busy few weeks here in Baggins Bottom.

First of all we had the publication of Horror 101, an anthology of advice for writers. Hot on the heels of that news came the suggestion that it may become a paperback in the future too, it’s done so well already.

Also during that week I had to empty my house pretty sharpish as I had a tenant waiting to move in … and then I had another tenant snapping at the door … and then another … Many of the evenings were spent packing boxes and dismantling furniture. On Saturday the poet’s eldest came to help us move the furniture and that took out the entire day.

I also had several errands to run: to collect my will, because the solicitor it was with doesn’t do wills any more; to get a copy of my decree absolute from Rotherham County Court, because after packing down the house I couldn’t find my original; to tax my car; to get the flea treatments for all 3 pets for the next 3 months; to bank the first of the rent money; and to have the car washed.

On the Friday night the poet’s son joined us for a gig in Doncaster.

We were supposed to be going camping and had tested one tent only to find it was leaking. Very badly. So we went and got another, took the old tent down, and pitched the new tent to test that. It didn’t leak, but we didn’t go camping because, in the end, the poet wasn’t very well. Instead we spent the past few days rearranging what furniture of mine we’re keeping with what furniture of his we’re keeping so it all melds together nicely.

And it does. The house is lovely now. I’m surrounded by many of my own things, which are now our things, but we do have a garage of boxes to go through, and we still have the loft to empty at the other house.

We finally made it out for an afternoon yesterday, fishing. Well, the poet fished; I sat in the shade getting lots of fresh air and doing absolutely nothing.

Hopefully, the next weekend where we have neither gigs to attend nor visits booked in, we’ll try the camping again … at the moment that looks like the end of June …

Today, then, and yesterday evening, we both updated the gig list. I have an email to send to an author with responses to some of his questions. And I have a new non-fiction to start editing.

Here are some of our fishing photographs to keep you entertained:

Mute Swans. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
Mute Swans. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
Mute Swan. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
Mute Swan. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
Mute Swan nicking pellets. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
Mute Swan nicking pellets. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
I had such a busy day ... (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
I had such a busy day … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
But he did catch a few ... (Picture: Diane Parkin)
But he did catch a few … (Picture: Diane Parkin)