Things can only get better

calke park aug 10 008
Deer at Calke Abbey park, August 2008. (Picture: Diane Parkin)

After the week I had last week, things really could only get better. And, so far, they do seem to have done just that.

I did think it would be quite simple once I’d restored factory settings to the pc and then uploaded my critical data again. But I’ve also had to install all of my programs again plus printer drivers (and other so-called plug-in-and-play hardware), and, as it happened, both internet browsers. And then my webmail wouldn’t let me in on the pc, though it would let me in on the mobile phone, so I had to sort that as well.

BUT … it’s all done now and everything seems to be running properly and quickly again – touch wood.

I’m still incredibly busy. I’ve had to catch up on all the online and electronic work I couldn’t do, and some of it I had to do again as the latest versions had simply got lost. But I have good support now, i.e. someone to cook tea and see to the animals if I’m working, so I’m getting there.

This week, then, so far, I’ve delivered 2 books, either in their entirety or bits I still had to do. The fiction is with the author, to answer questions and check copy; the non-fiction has been picked up by the client for the last few little bits, but I will see the final pdf for signing off.

I have another non-fiction I need to submit once I’ve done the author amendments and two more that I’ve already started.

I’ve also updated the gig list this week, but I’ve not been on the job boards and I’ve only managed a couple of days on NaNoWriMo. This will change today, though, as I really, really am itching to do some writing, and I’m definitely off to the NaNo write-in in Leeds on Saturday. We also have a gig on Friday night and possible visiting and walking to do over the weekend if we can fit it in.

I don’t think I’ll be on here again before the weekend, so have a good one, and hopefully all will be back on track by next Monday.

Today’s picture was taken a few years ago when I visited Calke Abbey. I think we need to go again and take the dog this time. 🙂

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

I can stand the rain

DSCF0589
Diane and Ian on *another* bridge. (Picture: Diane Parkin)

I’m loving listening to and watching the rain at the moment, so much so that I’ve set up camp on the kitchen table where I can see it through the open back door.

I had a bit of a mini-revelation over the past few days. I really, really need a view when I’m working. My desk is currently shoved into a dark corner of the bedroom, with a view of 2 walls. Granted with lots of familiar bits and pieces all over them, but short of knocking through a window, I think I need to move the office.

Even when I’m writing longhand, editing longhand or proofreading longhand, I like to sit on the settee in the living room opposite the window, even when there’s not a lot to see.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I do intend to one day gut the spare room and make it my office. There’s a window my desk will fit under, and I can watch the birds – and the weather – through the window. It’s going to cost money, though. And that’s the dilemma.

I have other things I need to spend my money on first; but I also need to optimise my earning so that I can afford it all.

Food for thought, but I think the next big job in this house may be converting the spare room to an office. There will still be room for an occasional, fold-up bed, and the number of visitors I actually get doesn’t actually justify a permanent bed taking up optimum working space all the time.

I’ve been very busy. I didn’t make it to Mom’s and Dad’s yesterday because I had to deal with idiots for most of Wednesday and lost the whole day. It also gave me the chance to have a good old de-clutter in the bedroom and office area, which is good and makes the work space inviting again. But it did take All Day.

So yesterday I worked. I carried on editing a non-fiction that I should finish (and invoice – hurrah!) today.

I have the weekend to myself and while I was considering going to the Leeds write-in tomorrow afternoon and maybe a gig tomorrow night, I can’t really afford it and I do have plenty of other work to be getting on with. I’ve also cancelled a dentist’s appointment today and will probably cancel my hair appointment as well.

If I can do all of my October income work before the 14th of the month, I can spend the rest of the month getting in new work, writing and preparing for NaNoWriMo in November.

I’m going to see my parents on Tuesday anyway, as we have some stuff to deal with. But between then and now I’m going to be busy, busy, busy.

This is the last of the pictures from our holiday in Dentdale, and probably my favourite one of the lot. It’s one that I set up and, I must say, it’s actually quite good. 😀

Have a lovely weekend.

Didn’t really do diddley squat yesterday

The lovely little cottage where we stayed. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
The lovely little cottage where we stayed. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I didn’t really have a Do Diddle Day yesterday. I set the Do Diddle posts to publish automatically and it was about 11pm on Wednesday night when I remembered I hadn’t cancelled the post on the blog. It’s a nice picture, though, so I decided to leave it – and hopefully no one would try to contact me.

I had a busy week this week. I have a wonderful new business manager (who also happens to be the poet) and he worked out a proper pricing module for me. This has made it so much easier to bid for work, and quicker too, so saving time that isn’t actually paid for.

It turns out that I’ve been charging roughly half what I should be charging minimum for proofreading, and about a fifth of what I should be charging minimum for editing. This is based on the average time it takes me to edit or proofread 1,000 words or a page.

Unfortunately, people don’t seem to want to pay the going rate for anything and want to get everything as cheaply as possible, and even free. Sadly, that doesn’t pay my mortgage nor buy my groceries.

This week I bid for 14 jobs at the old rate, and now I’m hoping everyone declines me, because now I see why I seem to be working all hours yet totally skint. Yesterday I bid for 6 jobs at the new rate. Today I hope to bid for a few more. Time will tell if maybe I’m just not working fast enough.

I’ve had a new edit come in this week and another revision on an old edit. I’ve also been promised a new edit. The non-fiction edits actually come well within my new pricing module. The fiction edits, unfortunately, are coming well outside. I seem to spend more time on the fiction, yet I get paid less for it. I’ll have to think very carefully when another new edit comes in.

The non-fiction regular work is fine. I have one lot of revisions, one new book and one on the way. The fiction regular work is less fine. I have one lot of revisions in and one new book. I won’t be chasing for work there in future, but I will still have to consider it if I have nothing else in.

Because of the new pricing module, I’ve had to increase hours worked on paid stuff and decrease hours worked on my own stuff. If I want to do my own stuff, I need to get up earlier. This work will generate income at some point, but it is still speculative and I can’t guarantee how much I’ll be paid or when I’ll see it.

I still have a lot of navel gazing to do, clearly.

I also updated the gig list this week for October and I’ve done usual admin work.

I’m not sure yet if I’m going to the Leeds write-in tomorrow. I may prefer to spend the travel time actually writing now I can’t justify writing during my working week. I do have 2 gigs this weekend, though – one on Saturday and one on Sunday, both in Doncaster.

Today’s picture is of the lovely little cottage where we stayed when we went to Dent.

Whatever you’re up to this weekend, have a good one.

Should’ve done this yesterday …

Look what the poet found across the River Dove ... (Picture: Diane Parkin)
Look what the poet found across the River Dove … (Picture: Diane Parkin)

It was a very busy weekend in the end starting with an emotional gig Friday night. It was emotional for several reasons, but the main one was to say farewell to someone off on a university adventure the next day. Also, someone I thought was a friend surprised me quite disappointingly … so they’ll probably be going into the next novel …

On Saturday we were at a charity boxing match helping to raise funds for several charities. That started at 11am for us, and finished close to 4pm. A quick rest and then we were off to Leeds to surprise another friend in his band. We had a good night and enjoyed dancing along to some less familiar tunes that aren’t done to death on the gig circuit.

Sunday was another day of rest.

Yesterday I started the new week with a vengeance and got quite a lot of bitty work done, admin work, diary work, planning work, those kinds of things. I also reviewed a book edit that really needs to be signed off now, but there are still tons of problems with the layout and with someone keep tinkering. If this book comes back with more work I’m going to need a new fee. I don’t mind correcting my own mistakes, but I’m not really responsible for everybody else’s too. Or a faulty system.

That job took longer than I intended, and so today I’ve done the walks report, and submitted it to 6 local newspapers, and I’m just doing the blog I should have done yesterday. Other jobs today include more admin work, surfing the job boards and starting the next historical fiction edit.

This Thursday would normally be a Do Diddle Day, but because I’ve already had quite a lot of time off this month with flu, along with a couple of unexpected, unscheduled Do Diddle Days, I’ve decided to cancel it and work. I need to catch up with some work and I need to get the invoices out.

Today’s picture was taken along part of the Dales Way long distance footpath. It’s the River Dove, just above Dent, and it’s one of mine. I love the mist in the background. Enjoy.

Clipped wings

Maybe the Universe couldn’t manage the nice weather I ordered for my research trip. Maybe that’s why my car broke down and I couldn’t go. It’s horrible being grounded, though, and nowhere near any rail stations. I feel as though my wings have been clipped. The weather anyway, for the midsummer weekend and super moon, was atrocious. Blustery showers and grey skies the whole time.

The diary that I ordered on Thursday was here on Friday. That’s quite good going considering they only charged me £1.50 for 3 – 5 days delivery (apx $2.30). Next day delivery would have cost me a lot more, and I got it anyway. Friday evening I had a lovely time acquainting myself with the new diary.

When the post came in on Friday and on Saturday, I touched it once, and shredded or binned it straight away. I had some money-off vouchers come from Tesco, more than £5-worth (apx $7.75), and those went straight into my purse.

When I went through the pile of post last Monday, I had to throw 3 lots of money-off vouchers away – 2 from Tesco and 1 from Boots – because they’d expired, and some only the day before. Those were probably worth about £15 (apx $23), and all for things that I buy anyway. This was one of my motivations for touching it once in future. (Although I did manage to save some coupons, £3-worth for the Co-op – apx $4.60 – and 60p-worth plus extra points for Boots.)

On Saturday I did some baking. I made a Quiche Lorraine and a plum crumble – yes, I’m hard enough to make a plum crumble … Sorry. Ahem … I walked the dog up to the Co-op to get some odds and ends, I took a rucksack so I could carry it home and still have my hands free for the dog. And I took the rest of the day off. I faffed, played games, caught up on old NCIS episodes and generally dossed, and baked.

I’ve started to do a big shop at Tesco just once sometimes twice a month, getting all the tinned, bottled and other heavy stuff, and then filling-in in between on a weekly basis, usually locally. It’s working out quite a bit cheaper, approximately £40 – £45 a month (apx $75), and I’m throwing even less food away.

On Sunday I had an idle lie-in and faffed some more. Then I knuckled down to some more baking (choc chip muffins), housework and then some writing work. I picked up 5 books on Kindle for just over £6 (apx $9.30) to read up on a potential new genre. When I wasn’t reading I was watching telly, but just for an hour. I would have liked to have gone out, but my wings had been clipped … I do miss my car.

When I get the car back I’ve discovered I can get to Leeds for the Saturday afternoon write-ins a bit quicker and a bit cheaper just by going to a different railway station. It’s not in a nice area, so I’d need to look at the car park security, etc. But if it saves me nearly £3 (apx $4.60) and about 20 minutes each way, it might be worth considering. It means the dog won’t be left so long on his own too.

This week, then, I have a new historical novel to edit, the walks report to write and submit, the daily comps to enter, job boards to surf daily, a well-woman clinic to attend, the gig list to upload for July (July already, sheesh!), a do diddle day, a book to write, diary work, invoices to raise, a trip to Birmingham, and – hopefully – a research trip to Derbyshire (weather and car permitting). Then I change to my new diary.

What are your plans for the week?

blog thumbnail

Spring flowers

P1020189I wish I had some lovely cheerful flowers in my lounge right now, but these from 2 years ago will do. Aren’t they lovely? The flowers are late this year. The daffodils are only just showing along the roadsides, but there’s a better show this year than I’ve ever seen since moving here 9 years ago.

There’s a bypass in Solihull that breaks out into full daffodil bloom every single spring, but Barnsley has always been about 2 weeks behind. This year, after such a long winter, it’s even further behind – although as I haven’t been down the bypass in Solihull yet this year, maybe it isn’t. It’s never been a patch on Solihull before, but it’s getting there this year.

Is it every 3rd year the daffodils flourish?

Everything is late. It’s almost the end of April and lots of garden birds are still only just collecting nest material. I empty out all of my hairbrushes, and the pet brushes, so they have soft hair to line their nests too. The pigeons are funniest, the size of the twigs and sticks they fly back with. I often wonder if their partners tell them to go back and try again.

My apple tree is only just starting to sprout. The other one is well and truly D E double D dedd and I need to get another. They’re self-fertilising, but the surviving apple tree hasn’t borne fruit for 2 years, so I think they need a helping push. The apple blossom has been lovely, but that’s late too. My grapevine also looks dead, but when I scratched the stem with a thumbnail, I spotted green, so it may just be late too.

The hydrangea, which is always late, seems to be the first one coming into leaf. The whole garden is out of kilter and I daren’t even try sowing seeds yet, even with my mini-greenhouse. It’s still far too cold out there at night.

My Do Diddle Day is probably going to be late too. I’ve been working late for several nights and the never ending editing job still never ends. I feel as though I’m working at a cliff face instead of a type face. I’ve sent the first half of the book off to the client to keep him busy for a day or so, but when a job drags it certainly does it with style.

So I may have to postpone my Do Diddle Day this month. I will have one, just maybe not on Friday. I’ll also be staying home to work tomorrow instead of going to the local council meeting.

It’s not that I have a lot to do, more that this one job is taking three times longer than I thought it would – and therein lies the problem. It’s a set price job so I still get the same if it takes me 1 week or 3 weeks, so I’m going to have to do some financial juggling again – I’m getting good at juggling fresh air. And everything else has to get in the queue, which is the other part of the problem, although I have snuck in a couple of copywriting jobs this week and the gig list.

I’ll also probably cancel the Leeds write-in too, and I was toying with a gig in Leeds Saturday night as well that may also get shelved. The gig buddies won’t come as far as Leeds with me, so I would have been going on my own anyway, and I’m not sure I’m up to that either.

I think I’m in need of a pamper. Or maybe just flowers. Offers in the usual place … 😉

Oh, what a glorious thing to be …

I don’t usually work weekends. No, really, I don’t. And I bang on about it often enough. But when I have deadlines looming, when I’m a bit behind, or when I’ve taken on a bit more work than I can handle, then I break the rule. That’s one of the reasons rules are there in the first place.

This time, it’s a combination of two things – 1. losing time due to injury and holiday; and 2. a job turning out to be quite a bit bigger than I thought it would be.

I didn’t work on Saturday. I have things that still need doing, like walking the dog, shopping, washing, housework, etc. There’s no-one to delegate to, and the animals just aren’t learning fast enough. I also need time off to recharge.

On Thursday evening, I burned out. I ground to a halt. I wound down so quickly it was like a kick in the face. But Friday morning I was up and at ’em again, all bushy-tailed and raring to go.

But I had Saturday off.

Yesterday, Sunday, I worked. Solidly. All Day. I finished at 1am this morning. Then at 9am, I was back at my desk.

Last night I finished all the manual edits on a big book I’ve been working on. This morning I fired off an update email to the client, and I started the electronic updates. Somewhere in between I snuck a copywriting quickie in for a new client. I needed the respite more than anything. Then I was back at the type face.

At about 3pm I broke off again to walk the dog, nip to the shop, post a couple of things, and while there I bumped into the keep fat buddy. I’ve not seen her properly for, ooh, about a year. So we nattered for a good while at the end of her front path, and then she walked back with us to the top of our snicket, and then we nattered some more. It was great to catch up, but it was gone 5pm by the time I got back in.

I did another hour of work, broke off to cook tea, feed the pets, wash up, watch a bit of telly while I ate my tea, write a few words, set the DVD to record a couple of programmes on telly, and watch a third programme that clashed for just an hour.

It’s 10:30pm now and I just washed my hair. I’m writing this while I run a bath. The next job will be the walks reports for the 6 local newspapers. And if my hair isn’t dry yet, I’ll do a few more electronic edits.

This week I have an appointment in town on Tuesday afternoon, there’s a full council meeting on Thursday I wanted to attend, I have a Do Diddle Day on Friday, I’m meeting up with another friend for a writing session (yes, I have another friend!), I’ve promised the Leeds write-in lot that I’ll try and be there Saturday, and I’m in Birmingham on Sunday.

I have this current book to finish editing (this week), author and proof-reader feedback to apply to a historical novel, another historical novel we’re having layout issues with, a new client’s novel to read and provide feedback for, a non-fiction to proof-read, and a magazine client nagging me for a couple of stories. Plus my own writing work. And life. And all that other stuff in between.

It’s also the start of bill-paying time.

I think I need an extra day this week. Or maybe two. Or something may need to give. Thank goodness we have another 2 days in April next week …

And people think I’m making it up when I say that I’m busy.

Happy days. 🙂

blog thumbnail

Burning the midnight oil

blog thumbnailAt the start of this week I was roughly 5 days behind in my work due to the flu. After a few days spent burning the midnight oil, I’ve caught up on 2 of those and by the end of the weekend I should be back on track.

The flu has definitely gone and there is just a cold lingering now. The deafness is only in one ear. I do feel a lot better, but, after a slip on the stairs with the dog yesterday, I am feeling a bit achey today.

My main worry was the dog, and I really need to train him to walk down the stairs by himself as I won’t be able to carry him forever. He’ll do it, reluctantly, on the lead, but panics if he’s on the landing, let alone any steps. I did manage to keep hold of him until my rump hit the deck, but I think he had a bit of a bump too and he was quite bewildered by it all – to the extent that he ran straight to his basket when we got downstairs (after first making sure I was all right, bless him), and he only ever goes in there if he’s been naughty.

My second worry was the mirror on the wall directly opposite the bottom of the stairs, but once I knew I was coming in under that rather than into it, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride – so to speak.

I escaped with a grazed elbow, in 2 places, 3 sprained fingers and a sore bum. And a few muscular aches. But apart from that, we’re fine. Domino scarpered down the stairs before us; Holly stayed safely at the top watching us. So the cats were fine too.

Isn’t it amazing, though, how much work your middle finger on your non-dominant hand does? I had trouble unscrewing bottle tops, holding flat objects, typing, picking anything up that requires the whole hand, opening door handles, walking the dog on his lead … So I tried not to do any work with it, but kept moving so I didn’t seize up. Witch hazel is also brilliant.

Anyway, as I say, I’ve worked late for the past few nights – until 1:30am last night – and I’ve done quite a lot of catching up of work. I even bagged another interview for the National Service book. This morning I sent author queries off for a book I just finished editing (hard copy) and I’m ready to start proof-reading the next job, an autobiography.

It means I may have to work at the weekend so that by Monday I’m back where I want to be, and that means I’ll miss this week’s write-in in Leeds. With a cold still lingering a bit, I shan’t take that to my parents’. Instead I’ll go next week when I would have gone anyway.

So, that’s me sorted for the weekend. What are you doing?

Have a goodun.