Lovely flowers

20150112_110815The weekend wasn’t totally diddly squat, but it was nice and re-energising all the same.

On Friday we did nothing. I’d popped out and bought some goodies for tea and for snacking and we caught up on the first series of Broadchurch (the poet hadn’t seen it) and watched the first episode of the new series. Then while I finished off a hard-copy editing job I’d been unable to do as I’d been running around, the poet caught up on last week’s Silent Witness (he’d been in Germany).

On Saturday we had a lazy lie-in but while we were making a late breakfast, a phone call came in from son #2 asking if he and his girlfriend could come and see us. Of course they could, and they got here mid-afternoon after we had a mad tidying frenzy. We hadn’t been able to see them on Christmas Day so they brought us our Christmas pressies, and some lovely flowers with a house-warming card.

They loved the place and can’t wait to come and visit again, and it was nice to see them. When they went we continued with our chilling and had another lazy evening in front of the television.

Much of Sunday was spent reading. I was reading on my Kindle, the poet was reading how to use his new camera. He’s learning it all in manual first so he knows and appreciates what auto does for him. He’s practising taking pictures too and can hardly wait for his telephoto lens to arrive. Before he gets any photography software for manipulation, he’s also going to learn how to take great pictures before learning how to tweak things that aren’t quite right.

We did pop out to do some shopping – pet shop (dog food and garden bird food) and supermarket – and he made us a gorgeous pork dinner. Then he put up another shelf, and we spent another evening in front of the telly. We’re so bone idle.

But it was a lovely weekend of nothingness (apart from our visitors) and I think it did us good. He’s off to Scotland again at the end of this week, but it shouldn’t be so tiring as flying to Germany and coming home via security-heightened railway stations in England.

Today, then, I have the electronic edits to do on the book I finished Friday evening, and the next job is that one from the Spanish client. I’d like to shift a lot of work today as we have carpet fitters coming tomorrow and I have another appointment on Wednesday. I’ll also be taxi-driver for the poet on Thursday and Friday, and it all eats into the working week.

What are you up to this week?

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

Merry Christmas!

We break up today, for 2 weeks. But please don’t think we’ll be resting on our laurels. We still have lots and lots and LOTS to do …

… like buy and wrap Christmas pressies, do the Christmas supermarket shopping, put shelves up in bathrooms and bedrooms and garages, repair or replace curtain poles, hang curtains when they come back from the seamstress, replace the letterbox in the front door, replace the cat flap in the front door, replace the weatherboard on the front door, unpack the studio and connect it all, replace the bulb or the floodlight at the back, hang 3 more guitars on walls, bake mince pies, put noticeboards up in Abbey Road, decorate the Christmas cake, put the tree up, make a trifle, write and deliver cards for the new neighbours, do a Santa run to Birmingham and to Leicester and to Doncaster, shop for rugs, cook a Christmas dinner …

Above all, we’re going to enjoy our first Christmas in our new home and explore our new surroundings just as soon as we can.

I may be packing work up today, but that’s the guaranteed paid work. I also have an ebook to finish proofreading, then I want to get it published on Kindle, and I have another new book to edit down (from over 100,000 words to 45,000 words!). I want both of these jobs finished by the end of December.

Then I want to do some writing. I want to finish and polish the stories I’ve already written, I want to write the stories already outlined, and I want to do a brainstorm for ideas for June and July topicality. AND, if I get chance, I want to continue with Catch the Rainbow.

So, a very merry Christmas to you and yours, from me and the poet, and a very happy and prosperous New Year. See you on the other side.

Ian n Diane

Light at the end of the tunnel (list alert)

We’ve had a very busy time towards the end of 2014 with loads and loads going on. Things are starting to settle a bit now, and we’re achieving much of what we set out to do at the start of the year. We’re also coming to terms with things out of our control and getting into a routine with those.

I had a deadline on Friday for an 80,000-word editing job, and I had a deadline yesterday for a 78,000-word editing job. Those 2 jobs alone took up a lot of time in the past week and a half, and I also did snagging on another, shorter job about to go to print. I finished both of those jobs on time, although I was working until gone 10pm last night. The poet, bless him, made tea and supper while I worked. 🙂

Now I have 3 new, shorter jobs waiting to be started, and another snagger waiting to go to print this week. I’m also getting a corker of a writing itch.

The time has come for me to give my daily work schedule a massive kick up the bum. It has been working, but with the prospect of an extra hour a day, with the poet working closer to home and not leaving the house until 8:30am, which is too late – really – for me to go back to bed, that’s an extra 5 hours per week. I’d love to fill it with writing time.

4 seasonsI use several books on writing when I’m limbering up. And I do limber up. Yes, I do have tons and tons of ideas, but I like to do idea-generating exercises too so that they’re not too stale. (I don’t do writing exercises for exercise sake, if they’re unlikely to lead to something marketable, they’re not really worth the time and effort to me.)

The book I took on holiday to Dent with us this year was Four Seasons of Creative Writing by Bryan Cohen. July was Camp NaNo and I tried to write something every day, even if it was a limbering-up exercise.

With the help of this book I came back with first drafts and outlines of several short stories. It was the middle of July but I was using prompts for January as, at the time, that’s what the fiction editors were looking for.

So, this coming year, I’m going to continue to dip into this book when I want to, and I’m going to develop those stories I started in July but was distracted from by earning a living and life. They’ll go off on their rounds, but they’ll also be pegged for Twee Tales Too and beyond …

One of my New Year resolutions is to find an alternative to using Amazon – I have my reasons. Therefore, the link for this one you can find here. (It’s still free.)

If you have any tips for my rejigged working day, then do let me know below. Things I tend to include, value added or not, are:

  • editing
  • proofreading
  • job hunting
  • writing short material (fillers, readers’ letters, articles, short stories)
  • writing long material (novels, books, anthologies)
  • blog posts
  • admin (filing, invoicing, trips to post office, etc)
  • daily competions (I’ve won more than £3,500 in cash as well as numerous prizes)
  • personal appointments (dentist, hair, doctor, etc)

Thank you for participating.

Minor temporary disaster

So, the brand spanking sparkly new 3-in-1 printer I bought from part of my recent winnings stopped working yesterday.

The good news was it waited until it had printed the 78,000-word job I wanted to start hard copy editing next.

The bad news was the gig list needed doing and a lot of the gigs were in a Word document, for printing, for ease of copy typing. (Blogger doesn’t like copy & paste and, anyway, the entries needed inserting into an already alphabetical list.)

The good news was I managed to fix it by hijacking some similar drivers online when I couldn’t find the exact make and model.

The bad news was I lost more than an hour of work time.

The good news was, the gig list got done and was posted at about 5:30pm.

I finished work at 6:30pm, went to do the weekly shopping and to check on the other house, came back for a very quick tea (at gone 9pm! – that’s far too late for me), and settled back down at the computer to try and email the recently completed 80,000-word book to the author and the client …

Only it was too big for my new Windows (8, for those interested) to send. And Yahoo forced me to open a Dropbox account. I finished work again at 10pm.

I hate having to store anything anywhere that isn’t within my complete control. I’ll continue to use the Dropbox account for when Yahoo refuses to send anything for me, but I won’t be putting anything personal on there. The new Windows setup also wants me to open a Cloud account, but I won’t be doing that either.

Call me a bluff old cynic, but you do hear these horror stories of various individuals and organisations who access online guff like this.

But anyway, it’s fixed again now – no idea what happened, but there you go. The author acknowledged safe receipt this morning, something I asked him to do with Yahoo forcing me to open the Dropbox account.

Today, then, I have to continue with the new 78,000-word project, which was originally due in at the end of the day but with the house move is now due on Tuesday, and I’ll be doing more of that tomorrow. I find that clients are perfectly reasonable when you give them plenty of notice. Had I told them at 5pm today that I might not make it, they would have had every right to be cross. I sent the warning off on Monday and received acknowledgement – and thanks – on Tuesday.

I have an invoice to raise today too. (Hurrah!)

I also have admin to do regarding the sale of the house as the buyer’s solicitor has requested various safety certificates.

One of these safety certificates was another reason for the trip to the other house last night. I couldn’t find the latest gas safety certificate but remembered our tenant saying she’d put her copy in the kitchen cupboard. And sure enough it was still there. So I have a letter to write to the solicitor today. I’m also going to use the new (and now working) 3-in-1 printer to scan in copies of all of the certificates in case any get lost again.

This afternoon I have a dentist appointment (boo!) and a hair appointment (hurrah!). I have a poorly poet at home too (boo!). He went into work Wednesday morning and was home again within the hour. He’s spent much of the time ever since in bed and I had to pick up an electric blanket from Tesco last night because he was frozen to the core and just couldn’t get warm. He’s caught my cold, but – of course – it’s been far worse than mine was … 😉 but he’s getting better now. (Hurrah!)

Tomorrow, then, I’m working, and Sunday – all being well – there’s a trip to Birmingham that’s overdue. If he’s feeling better, we also need to go to the DIY shop to get TV cables and a new letterbox. There isn’t a proper letterbox on the new house and with the torrential rain we’ve been having over the past few days, it’s pouring in.

What are you up to this weekend?

pheasant (2)
This chap came to see what we were feeding the birds.


Close down

Well, it didn’t get any less busy and it doesn’t look as though I’ll finish NaNo, but at least we’re finally moving house this coming Friday, so at least that’s another thing ticked of the massive to-do list.

We’re still moving 2 houses really, as the last house hasn’t properly been unpacked. And there’s still stuff over there in the loft that needs collecting. That’ll be a messy job. We also have spare furniture still to give away. And, of course, there’s all the paperwork and admin needed to sell a house, move from a different house and move into a new house.

We’re also moving an office, and a music studio. The studio was packed up last night; the office will be in boxes by this evening.

Unfortunately, the poet has managed to trap his sciatica nerve again (we think). This usually happens at a gig where he’s lifting heavy speakers and other gear. This time it happened while he was packing to come home from Scotland, and he’s still in a lot of pain and can hardly move. So, whereas we were going to hire a van and have help from his 2 sons, we’ve now decided to hire some commercial help. We’ll still need the 2 lads to help with lifting, though, so I hope they’re both still coming.

I’ve cleared the bulk of my work, submitted it, invoiced it and been paid. (Hurrah!)  But I am in the middle of a hard copy edit and I do have some author/proofreader revisions to turn around. I’m doing those today and I’ll continue with the hard copy edit where I can. We’ve been promised broadband and telephone by Monday, so hopefully the hard copy edit will be ready to go back to the author soon afterwards.

After the move, I already have in a 78,000-word edit and 3 x 30,000-word edits. PLUS we’re still awaiting an 80,000-word sequel. That should keep me busy until Christmas. 🙂

Once we move and have settled, I will also be picking my NaNo project back up. I’ve managed around 22,000 words, which is 22,000 more than I had at the beginning of November, and I want to crack on with the first draft. And then I want to have a bash at a run of short material. I submitted a filler on Monday and am waiting to hear if that’s been successful. It will be a nice kick-start if it is.

The office, then, will be closed from this evening until next Thursday morning, 4 December. Next time you see me, we’ll be safely installed in the new house.

Have a great week.

new house 19
From Friday this will be yards from our front door.


NaNoWriMo 2014 Day Fifteen – Sixteen

In only 11 days we move house. I’ve been doing loads and loads and loads and loads of washing which has, sort of, been killing 2 birds with 1 stone: firstly, the majority of stuff that goes with us will be clean and ready to use/wear; secondly, we’re having a right old clear out while we’re at it.

Of course, I had a bit of a clear out in January, and then another one in April. So much of my stuff is already weeded out and down. I still keep finding some things, though, that – actually – I know I’ll never use again.

We’re working our way down the freezer and through the food cupboards too, and anything past its sell-by/use-by date is going too. And anything that has just dregs in the bottom that we can only reach with a long implement. There’s not a huge amount of storage at the new house, so everything that we take needs to have a use.

At the weekend we had a proper blitz on paperwork too. There are some safety certificates the solicitor needs for the other house and we can’t for the life us find them – gas, electric and damp proof course.

So, this weekend alone we managed to fill another 2 charity bags and another 3 dustbin bags. But we didn’t find the safety certificates …

We didn’t do a lot else. On Friday evening the fog that had been lingering all day got steadily thicker and, as there wasn’t anywhere we had to be, we stayed in. On Saturday we only went out to do some shopping. And on Sunday we only went as far as the dustbins. We did cook on Sunday, though. I made the Christmas cake while the poet made bread, cream of mushroom soup, and a Sunday chicken dinner.

I didn’t do much work either. Even with NaNo, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really do resent working at the weekend. And before anyone jumps on me saying I should find time to do my writing, I do. But it is my job and I didn’t give up the rat race to work when I really don’t want to. And, unless there’s a deadline looming, I really don’t want to work at the weekends.

This revelation may have come this weekend because of the poet spending such a long time working away recently. But neither of us works at the weekends anyway, apart from when he’s playing in his band and I go along with them. The weekends are our time, and are already time-pressured with other stuff that needs doing.

So, while I was working through paperwork in the various cupboards and drawers in Abbey Road, I came across a previously written epilogue and author’s note for Catch the Rainbow. This morning, my first job (aside from doing washing …) was to have a go at rewriting these and adding them to the rest of the story. That’s been done now and the grand total of 850 words has been added to the running total.

While I was looking for electronic versions to edit on the computer (I’m such a lazy typist …), I found a number of letters and stories from friends who’d given me firsthand and eyewitness accounts of the key period and night in question. This is particularly welcome as I thought I’d lost one and didn’t even know I had 2 of them. I also found loads of previously planned scene notes and character notes that have all gone into the folder too. When I sit down to do today’s NaNo, I’m going to use some of this material to help. I’m a little behind and need a leg up catching up.

I do have several big editing jobs on the go at the moment, though, and had to turn one down Friday evening because she wanted it back “within the week”. Unfortunately, with a 103,000-word book, an 80,000-word book and a 30,000-word book all to edit before we move house (and lose internet connection temporarily), there was no way I could justify taking on any new work for the next 2 – 3 weeks. I also have snagging to do on 2 previously completed books as well.

I’m off to edit the big one, then, and then do some more NaNo later on. Oh yes, and more washing … Y’all keep nice and busy now.

NaNoWriMo 2014 Day Seven

We seem to be having a good week.

The new work that came in is being steadily worked through, the quick one I did on Monday has already been paid for, and the one I delivered yesterday has been acknowledged and appreciated.

The poet managed to come back from Scotland without anything wrong with him.

And NaNoWriMo is still on schedule too. This morning I cleared 11,000 words, and am only 5 shy of 12,000. I think this is the most I’ve ever managed for NaNo and, of course, the novel has taken on a new lease of life with the added contemporary scenes and more narratives from the viewpoints of different characters.

We didn’t manage another fireworks display on Wednesday because that was the day the poet came home from Scotland. Had we not been to one on Saturday, then we might have made the effort. But he was weary from travel and glad to be home. So we watched what we could from the garden, in between telling the dog to stop shouting. The dog didn’t like the fireworks at all, but he’s definitely more fearless when there’s a brick wall between him and them. The cats weren’t bothered at all, just slept through it.

This morning I signed the contract for the sale of the other house. Later today we go to the new house to measure up, to see if our furniture will fit or if we have to do some swapsies with anyone. On the way back from there we’ll probably visit his family in Doncaster. Tomorrow morning we’re off to Birmingham, and tomorrow evening we have a friend’s 50th birthday party to go to in Leeds. On Sunday I think we’ll be chilling and packing.

There definitely seems to be an end in sight to all of this busy-ness. Meanwhile we’ll continue to plod through everything at a steady pace.

Have a great weekend.