Settling in

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Windswept in Whitehaven

The world finally stopped spinning for us this week and we were able to step off, have a moment, smell the roses. Both of us were hit almost immediately with … something, but it didn’t last long. We’ve had quite an idle week, though, considering how busy we’ve been recently.

The poet painted a garden bench and cut the grass. I managed to empty one very small bag and take another upstairs. Oh, and we did some shopping. And that’s it.

Aside from work, of course. We both had a nice short week and today is a nice short day. But this weekend is the first one in an age that we haven’t got to do anything. We don’t have to be anywhere, see anyone, do anything. And, boy, are we going to enjoy it.

Today I had planned on posting pictures from last Sunday’s day out to Alrewas. But they’re not on the portable hard drive, although I know they’ve been done. As any other events we attended were all as far back as May, you’re getting a bit of a waffle-post instead. ūüôā

I’ve delivered a book this week, and will invoice for that later today. I’ve transferred an old novel over onto Scrivener. I’ve started to build a new novel on Scrivener. I’ve transferred more of CATCH THE RAINBOW onto Scrivener. And just this second I received an email with the latest requirements from fave short story market, so I’ll have a look at that then read a few copies of the magazine to see what they’re using at the moment.

Over the weekend we’re emptying more boxes and no doubt weeding out yet more clutter.

What are you up to this weekend?

Diary of a freelance writer, 25 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 “Mardi Gras”

There’s been an uplift in work and activity this past week, definitely a shift in the right direction.

I don’t know if this is because I’m just getting better or because with me being so busy with NaNoWriMo I’m getting withdrawal from everything else and wanting to up my game.

Whichever, it’s certainly a good thing – and I think I’m liking it.

Okay, Much of Wednesday was writing 1,705 words for NaNo and a further 697 words on another writing project. I must have faffed for the rest of the day as there isn’t much else in my diary. I’m sure I probably did a lot more, but I really need to start noting it all down. I do know it was a busy day household chore-wise, but I’m sure I did a lot more.

Note to self: When writing a “diary”, remember to actually write the diary¬†entries.

Thursday was better, in that I remembered to write down much of what I did. This was 2 lots of gig list admin, the second taking up quite a lot of time as I tried to get the dot com reactivated and the Blogger site redirected. It was taking so long in the end that I abandoned it until the next day, but it did take a long time.

I also managed 1,699 words for NaNo. They were a real wrench, though, taking most of the working day to happen, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Thursdays are not very good days for me, either creatively or technologically. This will be reflected in future diary work scheduling as I try to work around it, as I remember it happening when I worked for a living too.

Friday was even better again, with 1,176 words written for one project and 1,733 words written for NaNo. And I managed to sort out the dot com for the gig list, so that took up additional admin time making sure everyone knew.

Our weekend started Friday evening with a press trip out to Homfirth to see Walter Trout at the Picturedrome. I had a press pass, the poet had a photo pass – his first proper assignment. (I gave him another this morning before he left for work …) On Saturday his band had their own gig over in Doncaster, and I managed 1,758 words for NaNo on Saturday, and 1,725 words on Sunday.

We ran out of time to do any photo/research trips of our own.

Monday was a good day, writing-wise. I wrote up the review from Friday (only 203 words, but hey, every little counts), plus 547 words on another project, and 1,836 words for NaNo – a personal best so far. I also sifted through all of the photographs from Friday night, put them all into a separate file for the poet to play with, and selected 26-ish for the Facebook page and 1 each for the gig list and for the blog. I cropped a handful but pretty much left them as they were.

On Monday I started to get the freelancing itch, the urge to be doing more than what I’m currently doing and getting back into the swing of the writing. On Monday I also started to read a book about finance for the self-employed. It may be this that has given me a bit of a kick up the bum.

I started the day with some pro-bono work and a bit more admin. Then it was another day of chores before I finally got around to my NaNo. But I hit another personal best with 2,008 words, I cleared the 40,000-word mark, and I finally caught up with the last couple of hundred words I was short on last Thursday. By the end of yesterday, I was feeling pretty smug.

Publication schedule
Work starts today on the long-awaited re-publication schedule.

In January I’m hoping to have a new hardback¬†of Night Crawler available, but this one will be called Night Crawler: a Marcie Craig mystery and it will be by Diane Wordsworth. The schedule is to include a paperback 3 months later, the ebook 3 months after that, and possibly an audio book 3 months after that. Then, 3 months after that, the large print.

In February, it will be the turn of Baggins Bottom Best Bits, but I won’t be bothering with a hardback for that. The ebook, audio book and large print will follow. Then in March it will be Twee Tales. Twee Tales won’t appear in hardback until I have an omnibus edition, but it will still have the paperback, ebook, audio book and large print until then.

And then it will be Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book Two.

As each book is re-published, the old one will be retired. And there will be a clear message on all of them that they were previously published under a different name/title.

Twee Tales Too is already published by Diane Wordsworth, but it needs to be converted to ebook and then audio book. And Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book Three is currently awaiting editing, but that will also be by Diane Wordsworth.

Since I’ve been working with Scrivener, I’ve realised I can copy all of these into there and Scrivener will export it to whatever format I need for publishing. That means less formatting work for me, and more time to write, edit and polish.

I’m hoping that by the time we get to a month without a new book to start, I’ll either have another one myself or maybe one with a publisher. I’m working on Mardi Gras (for NaNo), Catch the Rainbow, The Beast Within (a Marcie Craig mystery), and Diary of a Scaredy Cat.

The poet’s job in all of this is jacket design and author photography. I’m already very happy with the jackets I currently¬†have, but we want to re-brand everything so it all looks as though it comes from the same place.

So, aside from just under one week left on NaNoWriMo, this publication schedule (and any editing) is my own homework this week. What’s on your to-do list?

Diary of a freelance writer, 14 October 2015

scrivenerHow has the past week been for you? I’ve had a much easier time of it, pressure-wise. Having just completed several heavy or urgent edits on the trot, I’ve done what I had to but then had a bit of a rest. NaNo prep has been taking up much of my time, I’m very pleased to say.

Wednesday was the second day of proper prep work for my NaNo last week. I’d already written some character notes for 2 potential projects the day before, and on Wednesday I made some notes for settings, again on both projects. I also wrote another half a scene for CATCH THE RAINBOW, and I did some book publicity work on social media. I tidied up some loose ends on the edit I’d just finished, following replies from the author, and sent that off to print.

The first writing job of the day on Thursday was the second half of that scene for CATCH THE RAINBOW. Then I did some more NaNo prep work, this time jotting down plot notes for both projects. I printed off the next editing project and put it in my editing folder, but that’s about all.

Friday was pretty much an admin day, raising invoices (hurrah!), chasing invoices (boo!), being paid immediately for one of the chased invoices (hurrah!), and being promised another by yesterday (hurrah!).

The weekend was basically domestic stuff. We were expecting visitors, the poet’s band was playing, and we had cooking stuff to do, which we did on Sunday. We didn’t have any research trips this weekend.

For some reason, Monday was a bit of a non-starter for me this week, when it’s usually my most positive and productive day. I think it’s because I was watching traffic. The poet was on his way down to the Midlands, and later I found out my sister was stuck on the Chunnel. There were also accidents all over the motorway network on Monday. A wasted day, workwise.

Tuesday was better with me thinking about more NaNo prep work, and that promised payment duly arrived (hurrah!). Then I did something I never thought I’d ever do. I bought and paid for some writing software …

Friends have been banging on about Scrivener to me for yonks, but with me already paying out for Word, and with me downloading and being disappointed with several¬†other writing software packages that were free, I’d always vowed I’d never pay extra for writing software. But yesterday, I can’t even remember why – perhaps someone had posted something on Facebook …

Ah yes, that was it. A FB friend had posted a link to this¬†Scrivener-related blog and I read it with interest. The fact that I didn’t only read the first paragraph and then navigate away from it but instead read all the way to the bottom spoke volumes to me. And so I did some research and found out it was on special offer at TNW Deals. So then I went off to have a look at what it can do. And I asked a few questions. And I ended up back at TNW Deals, where I discovered that, aside from the 56% discount they were already applying to Scrivener 2, they were also offering a further 10% new customer special discount.

Reader, I bought it.

And¬†that “expensive” writing software I’ve always shied away from cost me just over ¬£15 (apx $22) with conversion fees.

I spent the rest of the day finding my way around it, asking questions, playing with the features, watching tutorials. Even the poet had a go, both in his dinner break and when he got home at the end of the day. He said it’s a very good business project tool, so for the business manager to say that … I loaded it onto my notebook/switch too (as one personal licence covers multiple devices in the same household).

One of the things I like about it, apart from everything being in just one place, is that there are templates that can be used for different types of fiction, different lengths of fiction, and non-fiction projects, theses and scripts too. I’m going to have some fun exploring everything it can do.

I do have some niggles, but at the moment they’re only that the Windows version, which I bought, doesn’t yet have all of the same features as the Mac version (separate licences available). I loaded the NaNo prep work I’ve been working on for both projects, took the notebook/switch to bed, pretty much decided which project I’m going with and did some work on that. I managed 270 words too. Result!

Your homework this week, then, should you wish to partake, is as follows:

  1. If you don’t already use writing software, research some free resources here and see if there are any that tickle your fancy.
  2. Push the boat out and treat yourself to some paid-for software – I don’t usually use it so can’t really recommend any, but do an internet search and see what you come up with.
  3. Whether you download a free package or buy a premium package, start to fill in your ideas and notes for NaNo, if you’re doing it, or something else if you’re not.

Don’t forget to let us know.

Diary of a freelance writer, 7 October 2015

NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-SquareI’ve had another busy week, I’m pleased to say. How has your week been? Did last week’s picture inspire you to write anything?

I’ve not even started my monthly routine of think/query/write/submit yet. I’ve been busy doing other things – mostly 2 very heavy edits. There’s light at the end of that particular tunnel now, though. I’m hoping the last one will be gone by the end of today. It’s taking a very, very long time.

One of the things I’ve been busy thinking about is this year’s NaNoWriMo. I start it every year, and every year I vow to complete it. But every year my writing stalls, and because I’m not doing any other writing, I don’t get any done.

This year I plan to still attempt my working 1,000 words per day, either on CATCH THE RAINBOW or on other material. But I’m also allocating time to NaNo, around 2 hours a day if I can – and the weekends. Hopefully then, if my NaNo stalls, I still have other writing to be getting on with, and vice versa.

So I’ve signed up again, but I’m still not decided which project to work on and currently have 2 in the planning stages to see how much mileage they might have. I want something to romp along at a pace so I don’t lose interest, but I also don’t want to run out of steam.

On Wednesday I started my writing session with 5 ideas for 7 days (6). Then I wrote a short but new scene for CATCH THE RAINBOW in an attempt to get back into the habit. I raised a whole invoice – on request (hurrah!) – and I did some reading work. Then I had to skip study work to do one of those heavy edits.

Thursday was 1 October, and that meant new month admin – updating the word-count and the workload spreadsheets, moving everything along and making sure all the words carried forward were in the right place.

In diary work, for the first time ever I moved writing work up to the first actual work slot of each day for the following week’s diary. I wanted to see how it went before making it a permanent fixture. (So far, so good …) And I wrote another short but new scene for CATCH THE RAINBOW before slogging on with that heavy edit.

On Friday I wrote yet more of CATCH THE RAINBOW and I made inroads into the heavy edit, and I worked solidly, all day, until about 7pm.

On Saturday we had a football game to go to, but before we went I did more of the heavy edit, and when we got back I finished it and submitted it. (Hurrah!) I finished work on Saturday at 8pm and was shattered. I didn’t get any writing work done, or any research visits, as we were already busy.

I finally managed some NaNo prep on Monday, I finished the 5 ideas for 7 days (7), selecting one of those as a possible for NaNo, and I wrote a huge chunk of CATCH THE RAINBOW. Then it was back to the other heavy edit I’d put to one side to finish the first one. I’d already put this to one side to squeeze in a heavy proofread, so that one needs to go this week.

Yesterday I narrowed my NaNo choices down to 2: a YA time travelling mystery or a regular contemporary mystery leaning towards the mystical. I wrote another new scene for CATCH THE RAINBOW, and I had a play with book jackets, setting up an account on Amazon’s CreateSpace.

Now, I’ve always used Lulu for my own self-publishing, but their book jacket software has always felt a bit restrictive. We’re going to be re-releasing all of the previously self-published books by Diane Parkin with new jackets and a new byline – Diane Wordsworth. I had found a book jacket design website at Canva, but when I tried to log on yesterday – on Opera – it wouldn’t let me, saying they didn’t support my browser and would I please install Chrome. Well, no actually. I removed Chrome for some very good reasons (to me). And, anyway, I don’t like to be told what to install on my own computer.

So I did a search, and while I’m trying to move away from Amazon – again, for various reasons – their CreateSpace seemed to be the best one available.

Now, I happen to be married to an artist, and he wants to design the new book covers. But as neither of us have any experience designing book covers, I think playing on things like Lulu and CreateSpace might be very useful for if and when we buy any software. We already have and pay for Serif PhotoPlus, and that can apparently be used for book covers. But we need to know how to do it first and what looks good.

So yesterday, I played with book covers and, while I was there, I uploaded a new version of NIGHT CRAWLER, with a new ISBN and a temporary new cover. I love the old cover, and I love the large print cover, but we’re trying to stylise them all so they have a theme. It’s not re-published yet, the poet has to come up with an illustration and we have to decide on that theme first. But it’s not far off.

I did more of that heavy edit, but I really need to shift that now. Tomorrow I think I’m out in the afternoon, and afternoons are my editing time.

Here is your homework for this week, then, for those who want it:

  1. Sign-up for NaNoWriMo and send me a buddy request.
  2. Blitz 3 ideas that could be used for NaNo.

Incidentally, the diary may be moving to Friday during NaNoWriMo (i.e. November), to free up more writing time in the week.

Clockwork tomato

Catch the Rainbow

Today I’ve been finding the clockwork tomato very useful, due to being overwhelmed by the amount of washing we have lying around at the moment.

Honestly, it came to the point that we had to stand on the washing to get it all to fit in the laundry basket, but the washing machine was full, the clothes horse was full, the tumble dryer was full, and the washing baskets were full. I really had nowhere to put anything. Other than, of course, away …

Enough’s enough, though, and this morning, out came the clockwork tomato for as many 10-minute bursts as I can fit in.

First chore this morning was the dishwasher – emptying it from the wash program it was on overnight, and starting to fill it with today’s crocks and glasses. Then it was breakfast, and then I did some gig list admin. I finished that work early, though, so set the timer and blitzed the clean washing for 10 minutes. Then I had 10 minutes faffing on Facebook. Then it was back to the list of chores.

The next thing on the list was daily competitions. But I’d worked on Saturday, either side of a football game in Doncaster (and finishing at 9pm Saturday night!), and part of my warm-up was daily competitions. I don’t usually do them at the weekend as I’m not usually at the desktop. But doing them on Saturday meant less time catching up this morning. So when I finished that early, off I went to do another 10 minutes on the washing.

For the first time ever, the next job on the list was “writing work”, with the subheadings “NaNo Prep”, “Catch the Rainbow”, and a gap I filled in with “5 ideas in 7 days (7)”. This is the last of my 5 ideas in 7 days and it means I now have 35 ideas all written down – and I selected one of them for my NaNo prep. I also chose the genre for my NaNo, and I wrote over 1,600 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW. This morning! Before any other work! I’m very, very happy with that. Especially as it’s taken the word meter over the 20,000-word mark. ūüėÄ (Diane pats herself on the back.)

I had 20 minutes left at the end of my writing time, and I toyed with setting the timer and having another bash at the washing. But I decided to bring the blog posting forward from 2pm this afternoon instead. If I finish this before the poet gets home for his dinner, I’ll have another 10 minutes on the washing and be able to start something else when he goes back to work.

But, whatever, it means I’m more than a whole hour ahead of schedule.

I do have a big editing job I want to finish, or at least make a massive dent in. So that will take up much of the afternoon. I finished one of the heavy edits on Saturday and got it sent off to the client, which was why I was working until 9pm.

I had to break off work to go to the football game. We’d been given complimentary tickets to see Doncaster Rovers play Barnsley, and so we made a nice afternoon of it, even eating in the corporate box. And on Sunday we went to Birmingham to visit my parents. While there, I sat with Mom while the poet took Dad to get his winter pansies. The pots should look nice next time we’re there.

We didn’t have time to make any apple pies or apple & elderberry crumbles, but we did go sloe-picking Friday evening before the light went. Even Domino the cat came with us, she hates to miss out on anything. He’s taken some of those sloes to work as the lady in the canteen asked him to fetch her some if we picked enough. The cooking apples, however, are still in their bag on the worktop … Maybe this evening.

The cuckoo clock downstairs has just sounded 1 o’clock, so I won’t have time to put any more washing away before lunch. I will, however, have plenty of breaks in this afternoon’s heavy edit and see how much more I can get done.

Have you tried the 10-minute sprints and bursts yet? I can highly recommend them.

Diary of a freelance writer, 30 September 2015

Where does this go? What do you find? (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I managed to come in on my regular Wednesday this week. That must bode well.

How did your week go? Did you try those 10-minute exercises? Or the extra homework on Friday? Much of my week has been hidden beneath a mountain of other work again, but I think I’ve kickstarted myself again.

Last Thursday I resumed the heavy edit I’d abandoned for the heavy proofread. I started the electronic edits, but it really is proving quite tedious and tiring.

My day was also disrupted by (a) a running overflow, and (b) waiting in for and then entertaining the plumber. The only writing work I managed was the diary of a freelance writer. Oh, and a few notes.

I managed a little writing work on Friday, general stuff, nothing huge. I continued with a little more of the heavy edit and I raised one of the 2 invoices (hurrah!).

There was some thinking time too on Friday, and a bit of a Eureka! moment.

Last month, when I started my think/query/write/submit process, I got fixated on thinking April 2016 pieces and then querying them too. And when I didn’t receive a full set of replies, I started to consider chasing them. However, it hit me than that I only needed to be thinking April. Had the routine already been in place, I would also be querying March, writing February and submitting January. It was too early to be querying April too.

So, this month, that means that while I would normally be thinking May, querying April, writing March and submitting February, what I really should be doing, as it’s only the start, is thinking May and querying April. Had I already done the other work, then I’d be writing and submitting too.

Still with me? Cool.

Basically it means I can stop beating myself up about the April stuff. I can query 3 new magazines this month, with 3 new ideas, and stick to just thinking about May.

Due to a 2-gig weekend, much of the rest of the time was dedicated to domestic stuff rather than extra writing work. On Saturday I managed more notes, more “5 ideas for¬†7 days”. But generally, we were busy doing other things.

On Monday I hoped to be back in the saddle, but after writing the blog for the day, the rest of the day just went downhill. I wasted good writing time waiting in for a delivery that never arrived. I wasted more good writing time writing emails, Facebook posts, Tweets and making phone calls. And I wasted good editing time going out to buy the goods that never arrived from somewhere else instead.

I managed a second blog, although it was quite the rant. But it did push the word count up a little for the day.

I chased the plumber. He should be arranging a day to come and do the work, which will mean more disruption.

Tuesday was better. Much better. I joined in a current WiP meme on Facebook that got me back in touch with CATCH THE RAINBOW. I wrote a further “5 ideas for¬†7 days” plus an extra 5 too for good measure (so I have a choice, and so I have some throwaways). And I wrote 2 brand new scenes for CATCH THE RAINBOW.

I also checked the current requirements for one of my favourite short story markets, and as they’re working on January/February at the moment, I looked for a few vague February-related topics I might be able to weave a story around.

I completed module 9 of my fiction writing course and am now ready to tackle the next assignment. I had to study modules 5 – 9 for this assignment, but I see from the next assignment that I have to go back and study modules 4 – 9 again.

And then I continued with the heavy edit. I need to get that one shifted and invoiced so I can start the next one. It’s boring me now and that’s never good.

Your homework for this week, should you wish to join in:

  1. Look at the photograph above. Imagine yourself following that path. Where does it take you? What do you find? Who is down there? Write a short story based on your findings.
  2. Start preparing for your think/query/write/submit tasks this coming month. They’re going to be (in order) May/April/March/February.

Word meters

Catch the Rainbow

Have you been keeping an eye on the word meters in the sidebar? Those, and the one to the left here, are all provided by Writertopia. If you like them and would like to try them, hop along to their website. There’s a real man behind them too. Once, when I was struggling to get the widgets to work with WordPress,¬†we had a nice email conversation.

CATCH THE RAINBOW hasn’t moved for about a week now, but some of the others have. Yesterday I met my word count challenge for July (and will exceed it even further today), so that one has gone up. I’ve been writing the ideas book this week, so that one has gone up. Each week another section is added to DIARY OF A SCAREDY CAT, so that one has gone up. And, a new one, I’ve started to collate material for TALES FROM BAGGINS BOTTOM BEST BITS BOOK THREE, so that one has appeared and also gone up this week.

BBBBB3 is currently my first hour of writing time. “Writing time” can be anything at all to do with my own writing, including research, editing and admin tasks. As 2007 starts to be collated in the new book, though, it’s¬†starting to disappear from the blog. As I already have the best bits from 2005 and 2006, those years are no longer even in my “private” folder. They were trashed earlier this week. Once this one is done and dusted too, it’ll be going the same way.

The poet asked me the other day when he’ll start to appear in the books. I said Book 9 … unless more than one year get collated together in the meantime.

Today I’m doing electronic edits for a client’s book. I also have more “writing time” and some admin time (invoices – hurrah! – admin & PC maintenance). Then I finish early for a hair appointment.

Tonight marks the return of Ripper Street to BBC1 and we’d both like to watch that if we can, but the poet also wants to cut the grass. Tomorrow we’re out for the day – either walking or sightseeing, depending on the weather – and he’s toying with fishing Saturday evening. On Sunday we’re in Rotherham with his band. So another fairly busy weekend ahead.

I hope we get to do some walking, and next week “daily competitions” has been replaced in the diary with “walk dog”. I’ve recently been, once again, the heaviest I’ve ever been, only ¬†– obviously – heavier. ūüė¶ ¬†So I changed our diet this week to a low GI one. (Do you see how “I” changed “our” diet there? I’m so good to him. ūüôā ) I’ve lost more than 4lb over the past 2 weeks, so it’s going in the right direction. My lower back has been killing me just recently, though, and the only thing I can think of, having already changed the settee and the bed, is all of this excess weight I’m carrying. Oh yes, that and the arthritis I have in it.

Wherever we go tomorrow, I’m sure there will be more photographs to choose from to illustrate the blog. We both think it looks so much more inviting when there’s a picture at the top.

Y’all have a great weekend.