NaNo ready … (*** list alert ***)

NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-SquareSo, much of the past few weeks has been NaNo prep work.

Yesterday, I added a few extra guidelines to my plot and now I think I have enough to be going on with. I’ve left later chapters/scenes/days’ work a little vague but I’m hoping that, as the story progresses, some of those parts may write themselves. I also tweaked the sidebar a little – did you notice?

The diary has been completed for the first week, and “NaNoWriMo” features at 11am every day for 2 hours. Every day.

I’m not setting an additional word-count target for other work as I really, really want to do this this time. Anything extra will, therefore, be a bonus. Had I included the usual 1,000 words per day, then my target for November would have been 71,000 words, which once I’d calculated had the complete opposite effect to motivation.

Here, then, is how next week looks:


  • NaNoWriMo kick-off party Leeds (apologies and good wishes sent)
  • collect Dad from Brum
  • Monkey Dust fancy dress Halloween gig


  • NaNoWriMo 2015 begins
  • 11am – 1pm: NaNoWriMo


  • 8:30am: housework
  • 9am: BREAKFAST
  • 9:30am: gig list admin
  • 10am: daily competitions
  • 11am: NaNoWriMo
  • 1pm: DINNER
  • 2pm: blog
  • 3pm: client editing
  • 5pm: housework
  • 5:30pm TEA
  • 6pm: take Dad home


  • 8:30am: housework
  • 9am: BREAKFAST
  • 9:30am: daily competitions
  • 10am: pro-bono work
  • 11am: NaNoWriMo
  • 1pm: DINNER
  • 2pm: study work (aka EXTRA writing time)
  • 3pm: client editing
  • 5pm: housework (inc take bins out)
  • 5:30pm TEA


  • 8:30am: housework
  • 9am: BREAKFAST
  • 9:30am: daily competitions
  • 10am: blog (diary of a freelance writer)
    • + renew car insurance
  • 11am: NaNoWriMo
  • 1pm: DINNER
  • 2pm: study work (aka EXTRA writing time)
  • 3pm: client editing
  • 5pm: housework (inc bring bins in)
  • 5:30pm TEA


  • 8:30am: housework
  • 9am: BREAKFAST
  • 9:30am: daily competitions
  • 10am: diary work
  • 10:30am: gig list admin
  • 11am: NaNoWriMo
  • 1pm: DINNER
  • 2pm: pro-bono work
  • 3pm: client editing
  • 5pm: housework
  • 5:30pm TEA


  • 8am: Tom the Gas coming to drain down/overhaul hot water/central heating systems
  • 8:30am: housework
  • 9am: BREAKFAST
  • 9:30am: daily competitions
  • 10am: blog
  • 11am: NaNoWriMo
  • 1pm: DINNER
  • 2pm: client editing
  • 4pm: invoices, admin, pc mtce
  • 5pm: housework
  • 5:30pm TEA

I know this looks a bit too structured for some, but for me it works, and it keeps me on the straight and narrow with less procrastination and lots of ticks. Often a specific job doesn’t take up the entire allocated time slot, so then I either chill by playing a game or surfing the internet, if it’s been a heavy job, or I start the next one early.

Sometimes a job takes longer than planned or something unexpected happens. For example, we’re on standby to go and collect the poet’s car any day, which will mean shifting things around. So the diary is always written in pencil as it looks much nicer with things rubbed out and replaced rather than lots of ink crossings-out and hatchings.

How does your working week look? Today I have one editing job to finish and another one to start. I’m also awaiting a delivery.

As you can see, we have another busy weekend planned, and we’re still only down to one car. It’s the gig buddy’s birthday this week (yesterday) and we’re hoping they’re coming to tomorrow’s gig. We’ll be picking them up on the way if there’s just the 2 of them and Dad will be pet-sitting so we don’t have to worry about dashing back.

It’s a busy month ahead for me. Good luck to everyone else reading this who’s also doing NaNoWriMo this year.

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. 😀 (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.

Calgary Beach and Tobermory

calgary 01
Diane on Calgary Beach (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

After Glencoe we drove up to the western highlands and took the scenic route, and a ferry, to Tobermory on the beautiful Isle of Mull. We adored Mull and plan to go back again very soon. The roads are quite minor, for A roads, and very twisty and narrow in places. But everyone drove with respect and consideration.

On our first day we did an orientation drive of northern Mull and discovered, quite by accident, Calgary Beach.

calgary 02
Ian on Calgary Beach (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

This is an area of scientific interest. There are rabbit burrows and quite a variety of birds. We saw meadow pipits and heard a cuckoo. If we’d taken a picnic we could have spent a day just exploring here. But we already had a mission … we were going looking for sea eagles.

In Tobermory one of the shopkeepers told us the best place to go to see the eagles – if we were lucky. We didn’t expect to see any …

calgary 03
There’s a sea eagle in one of those trees … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

… but when we saw a bit of a crowd gathering at the roadside, we thought, eyup … What’s going on here, then? They were all looking at this clump of trees on the road side of the loch. but all we could see was the picture left.

Some had binoculars, some had cameras, and one had a telescope. So we parked up and joined them and asked what was happening. And they let us use the telescope …

calgary 04
… see … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

… and sure enough, there was a sea eagle.

The poet’s biggest lens isn’t quite strong enough to show what we could see. But I think you get enough of the picture. He was beautiful. And huge. (That’s the eagle, not the poet … although he’s a bit beautiful too.) And we felt honoured to see such a majestic creature in its home territory.

That made our day. We didn’t care now if we never saw anything else. We’d seen a sea eagle. Live. 😀

calgary 05
Picture: Ian Wordsworth

Reluctantly, we tore ourselves away and continued on our orientation drive around northern Mull, slowly heading back to base at Tobermory. We drank in everything we saw, committed it to memory, and took lots and lots of photographs.

This picture on the right is one of two the poet took that he’s using as the basis for a painting. He’s already started it, in acrylic, and it’s already taking shape.

calgary 06
Sir James Dyson’s yacht, Nahlin, stayed at Tobermory while we were there too (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we originally arrived in Tobermory this rather splendid yacht followed us. After some research (and checking the name of the boat through the binoculars) we discovered it belongs to Sir James Dyson of vacuum cleaner fame. It stayed there the whole time we were there and this was, apparently, the first time they’d seen her in Tobermory. We really, really loved Tobermory. Each of the buildings is painted a different colour, with the post office in post office red and the chocolate shop in chocolate brown.

calgary 07
We loved Tobermory (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

It’s also a mini-fishing village. They don’t land much fish here now, most of that is done in Oban. But they do still catch shellfish and specialise in langoustine, a prawn- or shrimp-like small lobster.

In the height of the summer season, one of the fishermen’s grandsons cycles his bike to the top of the hill and sells languoustine he’s caught himself to tourists and other passers by.  This fine young man is aged “about 8” (when we asked at the chip shop on the pier), and he apparently has quite a trade going.

The weather was quite fine while we were there, but it was very, very chilly. And we’d left our hats and gloves at home. But we found a little shop in Tobermory where we could pick some up quite cheaply.

calgary 08
Tobermory pier (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We also bought a pair of binoculars there to replace a set we’re convinced we left in the car park at Haweswater in the Lake District. It was the chap in the binocular shop who told us where to see the eagles.

On our first evening we ate in a restaurant in Tobermory, but on the second evening we ate fish and chips out of paper on the pier, and were accompanied by this mighty handsome seagull, below.

calgary 09
Picture: Ian Wordsworth

We had just one more day on Mull, but those pictures will appear next time.

Today I have gig list and Monkey Dust admin to do. Then I move away from the computer to do writing and editing work and, fave activity, diary work.

The poet has band practice this evening and I’ll be doing the weekly shop while he’s there.

Enjoy the pictures.

Our woodpecker

woodpecker 1
We have a pair of woodpeckers in the garden now. Here’s Mister Woody. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Yesterday I had a snow day. I do love the snow, and I do have work to do. But one of the reasons me working from home works is because I take off days that other workers might take off. This is why I don’t work weekends or bank holidays – I may as well go back to work if I’m not going to take those. And yesterday, because lots of other people were having a snow day, I had one too. I also have fag (cigarette) breaks, by the way, even though I’ve never smoked. Hey, it works. 🙂

I did start the day fairly early yesterday as we needed a few supplies and we thought the weather was going to get much worse. But already the roads were bad, so I didn’t venture very far, just to our local Co-op, which is actually within walking distance but I knew I had heavy bottles to buy too (milk, juice, pop). So at 9:15 I was washed, dressed, breakfasted, and I loaded the dog into the car (he loves to come for a ride). I was back home 20 minutes later and we were stocked up. I also bought mixed fruit and vanilla essence so we can bake some cakes, cookies and puddings.

We baked cakes on Wednesday when the poet got home from work. He put some bread on while I started some apple and cinnamon muffins. He likes to do the mixing and stuff, though, so all I had to do was tell him how much of everything he needed and let him take over when he was ready. He does, however, draw a line at spooning out, so I did that. (Sigh!) It’s such a hard life …

But back to yesterday, I couldn’t get going at work, so instead did a load of housework-ish. This consisted of putting 2 large loads of clean washing away, putting 2 more loads through, and emptying and reloading the dishwasher twice. Well, the dishwasher is still a chore, it still needs to be unloaded and loaded and the crocks put away.

For the first time yesterday I spotted our female greater spotted woodpecker. I wondered what it was at first as it was missing the red nape you can see in the above picture. But I’ve checked and she’s definitely a female. This is so cool.

This morning the poet headed off to Manchester again, but they’ve called him and told him to turn around and go back (hands-free, of course, on his phone). Apparently they’ve had a big snow dump over on that side o’ t’hill and, from what I can gather from Facebook, it hit further south overnight too. The roads between there and here are closed so he’s on his way back to the office.

I had a very good writing day on Wednesday. I wrote an outline for 1 new short story, and the 1st drafts of another 2 new short stories. Today I’d like to skip draft 2 and go straight to the typed draft of one of these 1st draft stories as it’s written itself quite well. If I can get it polished by tomorrow night (I know I don’t work at the weekend, but if it’s just a quick skim-through of something short I don’t mind), it’s on its way to favourite short story market for my January submission. The other short story needs more work, but that one might go off for my February submission. (Who can guess which market this is? 🙂 )

I thought I had the gig list to update this week, but apparently it was done a few days ago. I just need to copy and paste the details over onto Facebook so that punters and musicians know where they’re going this weekend. I’d also like to have a look through some other 1st and 2nd draft short stories to see if anything else is almost ready to go out. Oh yes, and I have an invoice to raise (hurrah!). So, all in all, a fairly busy day today.

Tomorrow I think we’re off to Birmingham, weather permitting, and coming back via Doncaster, to visit parents. Tomorrow evening, weather permitting, we’re off to Holmfirth to see some friends of mine in their band. Our names will be on the door, so we’ll also take the camera and hopefully write them a good review on Monday.

I don’t think we have anything planned for Sunday, but I need to bagsy that we put the new curtains up in Abbey Road. We’ve not had chance to do that yet as the curtain pole has fallen down and needs refixing or replacing. The sun’s starting to slant in through the window, though, and cause reflection on part of the computer screen. So I need that doing next if we can. We’ll also do some baking, I think.

What are you up to this weekend?

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.


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.

new house 19
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?

w/c 10 Feb: to do list

I’ve been very busy trying to keep on top of the work I won while also trying to claw in some money. Being busy is one thing, but I can’t wait until I can carve some time out for my own work, and I can’t do that until people start to pay me on time and when they say they will.

The poet has relieved me of gig list duties as it was a non-earning chore and took away valuable time. I still forward messages and keep half an eye on things, but he’s picked it up very quickly and gets more chance to do updates than I did. He’s also able to do more maintenance, such as checking links work and taking them off if they don’t.

It’s still been a very busy time, though. But I’m getting there.

Here then, late, is this week’s to do list:

  • check job boards daily 
  • debt management daily x 5 
  • walk dog daily x 5 ××
  • write 1,000 words daily x 5 ××
  • daily comps x 5 ××
  • write blog x 3 ×√
  • finish electronic edits on client’s YA novel 
  • finish electronic edits on client’s non-fiction historical #1
  • manual edits on client’s non-fiction historical #2
  • electronic edits on client’s non-fiction historical #2
  • manual edits on client’s non-fiction historical #3
  • electronic edits on client’s non-fiction historical #3
  • check 3rd proofs on client’s non-fiction historical #4
  • check author comments on non-fiction historical #5
  • diary work
  • band practice
  • invoicing (hurrah!)
  • credit control (boo!)
  • 1 x gig

Gosh, even I feel faint after writing that lot out. I’d best crack on. But at the moment, I wish I was somewhere else today.

I wish I were here ...
I wish I was here … (Picture: Diane Parkin)

w/c 3 Feb: to do list

I didn’t get as much work done as I’d like on Friday, and Friday evening was initially spent shopping at the supermarket followed by a mad rush to get out to see one of our friends in his ska covers band. We made it before the end of the first set and were able to have a chat with him as well before they got up again. It was a good night and we tried their new kitchen for the first time … the poet wasn’t keen on the chips …

Saturday was mostly spent visiting my parents in Birmingham. We had a good run down and back, and a nice visit. Then Saturday evening we went out with the gig buddy and her husband for a meal and the tail end of another gig, and another good night.

On Sunday morning the “business manager” showed his face and we discussed the several novels I already have planned and mapped out, both in my head and on paper. He’d thought they were just ideas floating around the brain matter and was surprised at how much work I’ve already done on all of them. He gave me a good talking to and, supportive as ever, convinced me to just do it, just get cracking on one of them, and switch my critical brain OFF for the duration of the first draft at least.

Later that morning we went to collect the bird table and the outdoor cat kennel. We also dismantled my mini-greenhouse and made that safe and secure after the recent winds. The bird table was reassembled (again, it was damaged in the recent winds but repairable), and then we took the dog for a brisk walk around one of our local reservoirs. It was great to blow the cobwebs away for the first time in ages. The greenhouse may be coming over on the next trip.

When we got back the poet cooked a Sunday dinner and we baked. I made a fruit cake and he produced his fourth or fifth loaf of the week. He’s making bread almost every day now, and it’s very nice.

Sunday evening we chilled and recovered from a busy but very satisfying and productive weekend, where we managed to get a lot done.

This morning has so far been mostly spent trying to pay the council tax bill, but the website was down and then the payments line didn’t work. I got through to the council tax office to let them know I couldn’t pay, and within minutes the website was back up and running again.

Here are the rest of this week’s jobs so far:

  • surf job boards daily x 5
  • daily competitions x 5
  • write and submit walks report to 6 local newspapers
  • write blog x 3 
  • walk dog daily x 5
  • write 1,000 words per day x 5
  • tackle debt management plan daily x 5
  • daily banking x 5 
  • edit non-fiction history book …
  • … send non-fiction history book back to author via publisher
  • proofread YA book  …
  • … send  YA book back to author
  • gig list weekly update
  • continue to explore gig list Facebook page
  • diary work
  • edit new non-fiction history book …
  • … send new non-fiction history book back to author
  • invoices (hurrah!)

What’s on your to do list this week?

w/c 20 Jan: to do list

Well, that’s not bad, is it? Only 3 days into the new working week in the new working/living regime and I’m up to speed, back to normal.

I’m getting used to lots of things, such as sleeping in a strange place, keeping the animals happy (as the cats aren’t allowed out yet properly, although that hasn’t stopped Domino sitting on the new patio), wondering what all of these fancy gadgets are and how they work …

Hopefully, once in the swing of things, the money will start to trickle in again too, and even that has begun, with PLR due in February, Kindle royalties next week, interest on the bank account (yes, actual, proper interest, no matter how small), and ALCS due in March. I’ve also had work come in, brand new and 2nd proofs. So, all is good – so far.

I don’t think I included a link yet to the filler I had published in the Guardian on Saturday. For those who haven’t already seen it, here it is. My Playlist is the 2nd one down. And that’s the Guardian added to the CV. 🙂

Here, then, is this week’s to do list, which actually started on Monday but is now formally confirmed:

  • daily banking 
  • blog x 3 
  • daily competitions 
  • daily job search 
  • send contact details to the Guardian 
  • send bank details to the Guardian
  • walk dog daily x 3
  • query Three (mobile phone provider) about poor signal in new location 
  • collect new home signal booster box, delivered by Three 
  • diary work x 2 
  • update gig list 
  • write 1,000 words a day x 3
  • 2nd pass of client’s non-fiction book 
  • edit new non-fiction book
  • attend test drive of music desk x 2 
  • invoices (hurrah!)
  • Do Diddle Day (hurrah!)

Just look at all of those ticks already. I’ve also pitched for 9 jobs .

What’s on your to do list this week?

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