That Friday feeling

We’ve only been back at work for a week, but already that Friday feeling was quick to swoop in this morning. It’s been a fair week, though.

I’ve done quite a lot of new writing, which includes an outline for a new non-fiction book as well as 5 new articles started and one finished and submitted.

I’ve also been plodding through an editing job, and a new one came in yesterday too from who will now be known as the Spanish client. They gave me a lot of repeat work last year and I’m delighted they came back to me again this year.

And I caught up with the job board I use and pitched for 7 jobs, one of them invited.

Almost immediately the poet had to go off to Germany, via Switzerland, for a couple of days, so that ate into the week a bit. And I’ve been having routine appointments – I have another today. He was gone from Tuesday to Thursday, so taxi duties from Yours Truly were involved as well.

So he’s come up with a list of things to do at the weekend, and they mostly consist of … nothing. We had a bit of a busy Christmas, then we were back at work, and then he was off travelling. We don’t seem to have stood still, nor do we feel as though we had any holiday, even though we were both off for 2 weeks.

It’ll be a bit of a Do Diddle Weekend – does anyone remember Do Diddle Days? Not had one of those for a while. So we’ll play it by ear, see what we feel like when we get up, if we want to get up. We might do some pottering, we might hang curtains, we might do baking, we might go walking, we might go to the pictures. Or we might not.

Have a great weekend, whatever you’re doing with yours.

writing bag 2

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Pulling our horns in?

We received an offer on the house Tuesday evening which, after some negotiation, we finally accepted. We’re moving at the end of November too, so that means we have a lot to pay out in just under 6 weeks’ time. This means we need to pull in our financial horns …

… only last week we needed a new tyre on one of the cars, then the dog needed to go to the vet with a bad paw that seems to have turned into an infected nail bed, so he had to go to the vet again, then the poet broke one of his teeth, which probably means an extraction, and the band wagon needs essential maintenance to keep it on the road, which means band money won’t go very far this weekend either. There’s also road tax due on the other car, and a motor insurance premium to renew.

So much for pulling in our horns!

It’s going to be very tight, but hopefully I’ll clear enough work that falls due for payment before Day One of the new home, which will give the poet’s proper wage a bit of a boost. We have 2 proper pay days before we move, but there’s also Christmas to consider.

Selling the house and moving also, naturally, requires packing. This house needs packing up and the other house has a loft that still needs emptying. And the house we’re moving to is slightly smaller than the one we’re in, which also has its own complications. We may be doing some furniture swapping with one of the kids …

This week I cleared a lot of editing work that’s already been paid for. I also finished one book at the end of last week, and sent the invoice, and I’ve almost finished another that should be back with the client at the beginning of next week.

I have 2 articles with publications. One has been accepted, and will be paid for once it’s been published. The other they keep telling me they hope to include and will get back to me when they can. (Both were sent on spec, but both are simply that kind of submission that I just happened to be quite confident about.)

So, over the next 2 – 3 weeks I have the “little” book I’ve already started to edit plus another “little” one and then a “big” one. We’re also hoping another “big” comes in next week, giving me 2 of each. A week tomorrow, NaNoWriMo starts too, but I’m really going to have to do that after I’ve done the paid work. One day – one day – my writing will come first.

I think we’re staying in tonight, to conserve energy as much as cash as we’re off to Birmingham quite early in the morning. We have to be back by teatime as the poet has a gig tomorrow evening. On Sunday morning, the lady buying the other house is coming to have another look, and then Sunday teatime, the poet has another gig. He’s working down here on Monday (he has his second dental appointment then) and Tuesday, and going back to Scotland Wednesday morning. The dog is due back at the vet next Friday morning, and the poet will be back Friday teatime.

Maybe we’ll get next weekend off … Have a goodun.

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Looking forward to being able to walk around this whenever we want … (Picture: Diane Parkin)

Soon back to normal

There are only 2 more weeks, including this one, of disrupted living with the poet working up in Scotland. He’s shortening his weeks up there to 3 days, then he may just do an overnight the week after next. But there’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

On Friday we just chilled.

On Saturday we took the dog to see if he liked our new home. He loved bouncing through the fields in the long grass and we had a walk around the lake too.

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Sometimes it gets quite busy here … sometimes there might be as many as 3 fishermen … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We did some shopping, we half got ready to go out, then we supervised a viewing over at the other house.

On Saturday evening we finished getting ready and then went over to Sheffield to celebrate our friends’ wedding, who got married in Kos a few weeks ago. It really was like a who’s who of the local music scene at their party. We were able to put names to new faces of people we hadn’t yet met via the gig list, and – best of all – I was able to catch up with all of my lovely friends from my Bellhouse Road WMC days (before they closed it).

Sunday was supposed to be a chill day too, but son #1 was starting to get desperate for a half-decent telly, so we took one of our spares and the spare microwave over to his new house, had a look around, then drove him over to the poet’s parents. There he took the dog for a walk while we had something to eat. And then we dropped him back before going home ourselves.

On our way there we went back to the new house again to take some pictures, so we had something to show the family. And we timed how long the trip would take from there to poet’s son #1, poet’s daughter and poet’s parents. We also did the run from his usual work … that was down from 40 minutes to 4 minutes …

This morning I dropped him off at the station again before coming back and doing a load of online/IT stuff.

I have a new book to start editing this afternoon, and I want to grease the writing muscle some more. Once we do move, I’m already getting ideas for articles. It’s nice to see the freelance muscle doesn’t need that much oiling from that side of things.

What are you up to this week?

And so it begins – finally

I skipped a day this week, I missed Wednesday. That’s because apart from being really, really busy this week, I was also out running errands. Just LOOK at this week’s to-do list, though. (Link here.) There’s just one whole job that’s being carried over to next week (historical non fiction #3, which will become #2 next week) and one half a job (historical non fiction #2, which will become #1). But apart from that … didn’t she do well! I also sold a filler this week …

It’s been a wonderful week anyway, as people finally (finally!) started to pay me. And with several jobs finishing this week too, I’ve probably earned a whole month’s wages this week alone. It’s a pity it’s the wages I should have earned 3 months ago, but it’s still a start. And with the amount of work (and further wages) I have coming in the next few weeks, I can finally relax and do some of my own work as well for a change.

Yesterday I had 2 separate errands to run, and I almost decided against the 2nd one. But it was a run to the pet superstore to get his lordship a new ball. I’d already been out for one beautiful drive in the sunshine, and while on the road I managed to “write” the best part of an article in my head that I’d promised someone by the end of the day.

So as I’d earned a month’s wages already, as I’d already filed quite a few jobs, and as the drive might allow me to finish “writing” the article in my head, I decided to go for it, the dog would get his new ball, and he’d also come for a ride with me too. He ended up with TWO balls and a rubber bone, so he did very well out of it. And when I got back, the article was “finished” and I was able to dash it off in minutes, give it a quick proof, and send it on its merry way.

Today, then, I’ve printed off historical non fiction #2 (which will become #1 next week) and I’ll start to edit that. I’ll also do the invoices (hurrah! – there are LOADS of them). I have to book a hair appointment (I had to cancel the last 2), and I’ll take the dog for a walk. I think we may be shopping this evening, but the poet also has 2 guitars to restring (oops – both Ds, apparently) as he has another gig tomorrow night. OR we may do the shopping tomorrow. We’re also off for a big walk, probably on Sunday.

For March I’m looking ahead to taking part in the Leeds write-ins again, hopefully on alternate Saturdays when the poet isn’t fishing. I’m also booking in a daily slot to write 1,000 words a day and we think it needs to be a novel. I picked up 4 new writing books this week (2 were free, 2 were very cheap) and I intend to do some reading too.

I feel like I deserve one of these this week …

gold star

Have a great weekend.

Ooh, tis snowing … (list alert!)

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

And I don’t mean outside, I mean on the blog. I was looking for that function only last week and couldn’t find it, but it looks as though they’ve retained the setting from last year. This is nice as I’m actually starting to feel a bit like Christmas already this year. In recent years it’s taken a little while longer despite it being my favourite time of year.

We put the tree up yesterday. For the first time in years I had help and it looks lovely. We’ve stuck to just red trimmings this time and it goes with the lounge just perfectly. We also baked the cake – with one spare (for testing purposes, of course) – and I had help with that too, in the stirry bit where the mixture gets a bit too heavy. I’ll ice it a bit closer to the time when I’ll also make the Yule log, the mince pies and tarts, and any festive biscuits.

I’ve been doing a lot of catching up with work just lately, hence my absence from the blog. It’s been work away from the pc and keeping off the pc has resulted in me being more productive too. Last Thursday and Friday I started work at 8:30am both days, and both days finished well into the evening.  I also updated the gig list for December and I pitched for 13 jobs.

The other catch-up thing I did was sort out all of my current writing work in progress. I haven’t done any proper writing since my 30k in 30 days in April and I’ve been determined to get back into the swing of that. So last week I kickstarted it all by:

  • pitching a brand new article
  • outlining two brand new short stories, and
  • outlining a brand new filler, all firsts in ages.

Then I armed myself with a book I quite enjoyed reading the first time, The Positively Productive Writer by Simon Whaley, and gave myself a pep-read via the Kindle. This book will be staying by my side throughout 2014 as there’s a month-by-month guide as well.

The next jobs I did last week included:

  • emptying the hard-copy-editing folder (books)
  • turning 3 short stories around and sending them off on their merry way again
  • sending 1 book off to the client, and
  • printing 2 draft 3 articles off for editing and submission.

News just in: The book I sent back to the client on Friday has just this second been paid for. I like that kind of work.

After a busy weekend, with a gig Friday night, a visit to Birmingham on Saturday, a double gig Saturday night, a walk yesterday and all of the weekend Christmas activity,  I started the new week very well with my first Yoga workout in ages. I did a bit of this yesterday when my back started to really hurt again, and it did it the world of good quite quickly. So now I want to do something every morning again, just like I used to.

This week, then (and those of a nervous disposition may want to look away now), here is my to-do list:

9781846948510_The Positively Productive Writer_PB.indd

  • complete electronic edits on 2 books and submit for typesetting
  • complete brand new filler and submit by Wednesday
  • write walks report and submit to 6 local newspapers
  • write 3 blog posts
  • update gig list on Wednesday
  • write and submit 1 commissioned article, and source pictures
  • kickstart Devon Ellington’s 5 Stories in 10 Weeks with a short flash fiction piece
  • edit and submit 2 speculative articles (RTEs – Readers’ True Experiences)
  • write draft 1 of a new short story that’s actually a sequel to a previously successful story
  • surf the job boards daily.

What are your plans this week?

A mare of a week

I have had a mare of a week. Best laid plans and all of that have all been taken over by work, bureaucracy, technology.

Last Friday I should have started NaNoWriMo but instead I got embroiled in workload and ran out of time. We also had a lovely wedding to go to and that took up much of the day.

On Saturday I should have gone to the first NaNo write-in for November 2013 in Leeds, but I totally forgot about it. NaNoWriMo 2013, therefore, still has yet to start for me, mostly because I’ve been trying to do one job that should only take a few days and has actually taken all week.

On Tuesday, an eco-exhibition took out most of the day, but it gave me a chance to practice a little networking, and I got to see the poet during a school day. 😉

I’ve been on the phone to every single nincompoop on the planet who have been asking for forms I’ve already sent or asking me to do things I’ve already done or insisting I pay things I’ve already paid.

And finally, the cherry on the cake was when my internet fell over – again.

I was on the phone to my supplier faster than a fast thing having a right go at them – again. And after several hours, 2 phone calls, being cut off once, and arguing with the script-reading idiot at the other end that no, I really didn’t have the button they were insisting I press, it turned out it wasn’t them!

Oh dear.

Still, at least it gave me the chance to set up my new broadband router …

It turned out my laptop had totally lost its internet connection ability. I couldn’t work out what was wrong, and when I tried to do a system restore, a massive malware thing popped up, blocked it, and stopped me doing any further system restores.

There was nothing for it, I had to do a factory reset … (gulp!)

Cue several hours of backing up critical data – I don’t have a memory stick big enough to do a full backup, but so long as my data is there I don’t care about that – and then the major, major trauma of doing the full factory reset.

It was scary, but I made it through … and now I have a nice, shiny clean laptop again … with hardly anything on it.

I installed a new virus checker and the first thing it clanged bells over was a bagel worm instantly zapped.

Once all of that was done, I started to re-install Office and various browsers (I use Chrome but like Explorer for backup) and today my Chrome fell over and I had to re-install that!

I also had to get onto various clients to let them know that while the work has been done, or is being done, I couldn’t email anything to anyone and I couldn’t work remotely with one of them. They were very understanding and said it was okay to invoice anyway, hard copy (hurrah!), and to let them know as soon as I’m back up and running.

Well, I’m back up and running now and I’m very, very busy.

Aside from all of the above, plus the gig list that I’ve already done, I still have the following to catch up on:

  • a historical novel to complete the electronic edits on, send to the author, and upload to the FTP
  • one non-fiction to cross-check the index and add a few missing details to (dedication page, couple of picture captions)
  • author revisions on another non-fiction, then get that sent for typesetting
  • two more non-fictions to print off and start editing
  • an article to write and pictures to source
  • NaNoWriMo x 8 days to catch up on …
  • job boards to surf and jobs to bid for

I’d best crack on …

It’s Armistice Day on Sunday. Enjoy the poppies. This is a picture I’ve had on my hard drive for a very long time and I have no idea where it came from. If you recognise it, please let me know so I can contact the copyright owner. Thank you.

flanders poppy

Aren’t friends brill!

As many of you already know I’m really very quite busy, and I’m frantically trying to keep on top of work and on top of getting money in.

Yesterday morning I made a decision that if no money hit my account that day, I’d look for a proper job. This is because I’m starting to tire of chasing people for money. WHY do people hire your services and then fanny around not paying? I think it’s disgraceful, especially when it’s a large organisation that can afford to pay more than others. But even then, if they can’t afford to pay, they shouldn’t hire you. End of. It’s like going to a café, eating their food, and then saying: “Soz, can’t afford it after all – can you hang on a week or so until I get paid?” It’s bang out of order.

However, when I checked my bank account, a reasonable sum had indeed hit it and so I didn’t need to honour the pledge to myself. Phew! Thank goodness for that.

And so I cracked on with work and was doing quite well. I chucked one job back at a client, because it needed a helluva lot more work than what she’d initially suggested and I wasn’t prepared to haggle or do extra hours for the same pay. She agreed that it needed to go to a different contractor and I billed for time already spent.

Then I was in the midst of another job that’s already a bit later than I’d like, and BANG – I got the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. Eek! My only work yesterday, after throwing one job back, was on screen. And it was already later than I’d like.

So, after it let me in again, I threw a request up on Facebook asking friends to let me know what to do. I started by backing up all of my critical data, which was already going to take a long time, and then, luckily for me, friends did indeed answer my plea. Two tried to help me online, even though both were at work and one was very busy, and then another busy friend, the good old virtual office buddy, squeezed me in for a remote access jobby.

That then also took some time, and so did the scheduled ChkDsk function when the pc was rebooted. In fact, the ChkDsk took hours. He thinks what he did should fix it, but if not then he reckons it’s a memory issue. Fingers crossed it’s fixed.

But aren’t friends ace? I have some brilliant mates. 🙂

And so I lost a lot of time and am catching up today. I’m still doing the electronic edit – I need to shift that one ASAP – I’ve pitched for 18 jobs this week, I have an article I need to write that’s also later than I’d like (awaiting photographs from the subject), there’s the gig list to update today, and that job I threw back? It bounced straight back just as I was going to bed last night …

And I’ve given it some thought and decided that if she’s happy for me to bill for time worked on a weekly basis, then I’m happy to continue with the project. I usually work on fixed price jobs but, actually, I wouldn’t mind an hourly one.

Enjoy the picture below. It’s another one of mine from Saturday’s walk.

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Langsett Reservoir

A chat with the Universe

Oh my goodness. I know it’s been a while but this whole interface has changed. It definitely wasn’t like this on Friday. I wonder why this happens. And I wonder why they can’t leave anything alone.

Anyway, Saturday was a very busy day in that I didn’t even surface for air. I surrounded myself with my diary, with my dates dictionaries, with my folklore calendar, with article-writing textbooks, with notebooks, the lot. And I sat down and I planned for England.

I had a really productive day and I created a schedule whereby, for example, right now (June) I should be “thinking” December, “querying” November, and “writing” October.

Then I went through the diaries and the almanacs to see what’s happening in those 3 months.

I’ve identified some upcoming anniversaries that interest me and that I hope I may be able to interest a magazine editor or 3 in as well.

I’ve identified some October and November topics I can write some speculative fiction for.

And I identified some imminent annual events locally that I can attend and photograph now, research after, and query in December in time for next year when they come around again.

I also decided on which subjects to initially specialise in and honed my list to incorporate as many anniversaries and events that come under those subjects (traditions & customs and great days out).

Yes, folks, the freelancing hat is back on and I’m hoping to get back into it with a vengeance.

Then I went through all of my outstanding WiP – short stories, RTEs, fillers – to see what can be finished now and submitted, and what can be slotted in for completion to the WiP file.

I also filled the diary and noted when I have some holes in the workload. Some of those holes can be plugged immediately with some work someone has specifically been waiting for but that won’t earn me any dosh just yet, so it was a low priority. However, it should earn me a nice crust at some point and I need to invest some time in that.

For the rest, I did some Cosmic Ordering, and I had a jolly good chat with the Universe about new work and people who owe me money.

Yesterday was a day off as it was Father’s Day and I was down in Birmingham with the dog.

Today I was up and at ’em and raring to go and I started a brand new job that should only take me a couple of days.

I fielded 4 telephone calls – four! I don’t normally get that many in a whole week let alone a day, and a single morning at that. And I received 2 very nice emails. One was informing me that a payment only authorised last week has been released, that should hit my bank account tomorrow. The other was asking if I’d like another editing job …

Remember that jolly good chat with the Universe? Well, case rests, mi’lud.

This evening I have some admin to do. I have this heap big massive pile of post and I know there are at least 2 forms in there I need to complete quite urgently. I keep trying to keep on top of the post pile, but it takes over every single time. I need to learn the touch-it-once principle, I really do.

I have a book to proofread, a book to edit and a book to start writing. I also have a walks report to write and submit plus whatever other writing WiP I can fit in this week. Yup, that’s this week’s to-do list …

This week is nicely full and on Sunday, weather permitting, I’m off for a ride around some of those imminent local annual events armed with my camera and my dog. I’ve ordered nice weather too, so I can take lots of lovely pictures. Let’s hope the Universe continues to be so accommodating.

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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.