Tag Archives: Monkey Dust

Walk: Fairholmes

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The poet checking my map-reading! (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

We didn’t go out anywhere last weekend. We were both under the weather and the poet was on antibiotics. So we stayed indoors.

The weekend before, however, we did go for a short walk. We went on the Saturday, though, as we had a Monkey Dust gig to go to at teatime on the Sunday.

The walk from Fairholmes to Derwent Reservoir is one that I’ve done before. But this was the first time we did it as a “family”. (Me, the poet, the dog!)

It’s a short walk, only 1¼ miles, but it’s a good one for starting out on a new fitness/stamina regime.

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One of two benches strategically placed to make the most of the view. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The walk starts at the exit from the car park at Fairholmes. We crossed the road and went through a gate that took us up an “easy climb”. (I swear some of these guides can be “done” for misrepresentation!)

The path crosses a water conduit via a stone bridge. Then at the first junction, we turned slightly right and went up some stone steps to skirt the woods, keeping the reservoir to our right and the main woods to our left.

These steps lead to another “gentle rise”, but then it’s all level or downhill from there.

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The memorial to Tip the sheepdog, who stayed beside her master’s dead body for 15 weeks during the winter of 1953/54. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

At the highest point of the path there are two benches engraved with inspirational verses designed to encourage the visitor to sit and rest a while and enjoy the view.

Then the path drops downhill to join a road that runs alongside the reservoir. Here, the poet left us to get closer to the water and to take the picture below of the reservoir.

When he re-joined us, we strolled along the path and saw the memorial to Tip – a sheepdog who stayed with her master’s body for fifteen weeks during the winter of 1953/54.

Rufus had his picture taken here, but he wouldn’t keep still, so it’s a bit blurry, which is why I’ve not shared it here.

Next up is the dam wall, which sometimes has the gate open so you can visit the small museum commemorating 617 Squadron of “dambusters” fame. The gate was closed (it was closed last time I did the walk too), but the poet was still able to take a picture of the memorial just inside the gatehouse.

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Memorial to 617 Squadron, “The Dambusters”. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

In the past few years we’ve been up to see the Lancaster bomber fly-past. I think it’s stopped flying now, so it was quite emotional the last time we went.

The whole area can get very busy, though, particularly on anniversaries.

Both the reservoir and the car park at Fairholmes were quiet, but there were still a lot of cars parked. Lots of people use it as a base for longer walks and there are a lot of cyclists who visit too.

We continued along the road until we reached the far end of a roadside car park, then we turned left and dropped down a path that leads to a closer inspection of the dam wall.

We visited the dam wall itself only recently, and have lots of photographs from then. This time, the water wasn’t running, so we only had a small detour here.

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Derwent Reservoir. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we got back to the car, we continued on along the other side of the car park, adding another ¼ mile to our walk.

Down some more steps on the other side of the car park wall was once a farm, which was flooded when the dams were built.

Once we’d completed our walk, we visited the kiosk and bought a Bakewell slice and a bottle of pop each, which we sat and consumed in the car.

We only walked 1.45 miles, or 6,104 steps, and it took us an hour and twelve minutes with all the pausing for pictures. And we burned 217 calories.

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MapMyWalk

Diary of a freelance writer, 16 December 2015

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Fishguard – see Tuesday’s entry (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

This post will be my last diary entry for 2015 as I break up on Friday until the new year. All being well, there will be a regular post on Friday, but as I’m popping out, I may run out of time.

Wednesday
On Wednesday I did some band admin, I continued with an edit for a client, and I wrote 411 words for a writing project.

Thursday
Thursday started with gig list admin and I moved on to pro-bono work. I finished the hard copy edit for the client and did the diary for the coming week.

Friday
On Friday I managed just 291 words of a writing project and spent much of the rest of the day doing the electronic edits for the client book. I also raised the invoice for this work (hurrah!) and submitted it (the work, not the invoice) to both client and author.

Friday night we had a gig in Leeds, which was … interesting to say the least. It was a work’s Christmas party and we were quite surprised at the behaviour of some of the attendees, one of whom was so drunk he fell over and broke his ankle … and people ask me if I miss corporate life …

Weekend
Unfortunately, the weekend was a bit of a wipe-out for us as the poet had a relapse on the cold he’d been suffering from (due to singing the night before, we think), and he managed to pass it on to me. We did some shopping on Saturday, but cancelled everything else and wrapped presents on Sunday.

Monday
On Monday I managed to write 650 words for one project, I did some gig list admin, I won a new editing job and I started another. Well, I printed them both off …

Tuesday
On Tuesday I thought I’d allocate an hour and sort through some photographs, specifically on Facebook. I wanted to move lots of odds and ends into existing folders and merge a lot of the same or similar (holiday photographs, fishing photographs, days out photographs, etc).

Some of the pictures went back several years, like the one above, against which I’d noted “this will be getting a lot of use”. It hardly had any use, so I’m using it today to illustrated today’s blog. Nothing to do with writing, other than it was a writing weekend I attended. I love the colours of the houses and that backdrop.

Once I realised the time, I got to a place where I felt I could leave it (some time in 2014, I think, which was actually quite good) and moved downstairs to do some editing. I’m delighted to see that the current edit is a quick and easy one, and a nice author to work with who also mentions me in his acknowledgements. 🙂

Looking ahead
I won’t be completely idle over the Christmas break. It’s all change at my favourite fiction market and I’d like to have something to send them each month. If I work really hard, I might manage a December submission. But I’d like to at least have something for her in January and again in February. So I’m mulling over a few story ideas.

I also hope we’ll manage a few research trips. We have just over a fortnight off and visiting the family won’t take up all of it. Plus, I’ll be looking back over the past year and what I’ve achieved, and looking forward to the coming year and what my plans and goals might include.

What are your plans for over the Christmas period?

Diary of a freelance writer, 2 December 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 “Mardi Gras”

Oh yes, I’m definitely dining out on this one for a while.

In case you didn’t know, I hit my NaNoWriMo target and for the first time ever – EVER – I became a NaNoWriMo WINNER!

But this was a double celebration for me, because it’s also the first full-length story I’ve finished in 20 years …

When I originally wrote that, I put 10 years, and it looked a lot then. But as Night Crawler was written in 1996, and as I haven’t finished anything long since, it is actually 20 years. And that is absolutely disgraceful.

I wrote Night Crawler in 3 months whilst also holding down a full-time job. I’ve been writing Catch the Rainbow for at least 5 years. I’ve been writing The Beast Within for at least 10 years. I wrote Mardi Gras in 30 days. I know which one I’d sooner make a habit of, don’t you? I can feel the Scrivener coming out again.

Wednesday
So, then … on Wednesday I did a lot of pro-bono work and gig list admin, the latter of which took a while as I wanted to embed the guestbook into the gig list but had to come up with an external link instead. It doesn’t matter, it works just as well, and we’re happy with the result.

I also came up with the new publication schedule for next year, starting with the re-release of Night Crawler in January.

And I wrote 1,010 words of one project, and 1,743 words for NaNo.

Thursday
Thursday was another difficult Thursday for me, and the only job I seem to have completed is 1,535 words of NaNo. I woke up with a trapped nerve, though, and was unable to do a lot else.

Friday
On Friday, I wrote 721 words for one project, and 1,705 words for NaNo.

On Friday evening we went on another gig list trip to Doncaster, with the poet taking photographs of a band some of our friends are in. I didn’t do a review because we only stayed for one set. My neck and back were killing me so we left early to come home.

Weekend
Despite some terrible weather on Saturday, we went out on a photo-collecting walk. It was cold, windy, wet, squally and very dangerous underfoot. At one point we had to let the dog off his lead just so he didn’t pull one of us over. Because of the weather, and because of my trapped nerve, we made it a very short walk. It was under a mile but still took us 55 minutes. However, at least we have some new photographs, the first of which will be on here on Friday – I have to schedule a blog post for Friday as we’re having a long weekend, on both sides.

We came home, dried off, went shopping, came home again, then I did NaNo and wrote 1,635 words. Then in the evening, Monkey Dust had another gig over in Doncaster.

Sunday was pretty much a day in Birmingham. We had a late start and the weather was still atrocious, so we only had a short visit this time. When we got back, I wrote another 1,733 words for NaNo.

Monday
Monday was an absolutely fantastic day. Before I did anything else … well, other than post the request for gigs on the gig list FB page … but before I did anything else, I wrote my final 1,674 words for NaNo. As soon as I could I had it verified so that I could get my winner’s badge before posting Monday’s blog. I was very pleased with that, and still am. And I also wrote 879 of another project. So very happy camper on Monday – and very relieved.

Tuesday
Yesterday started with a little more pro-bono work. I’m hoping to hand the FB page over to a couple of other members of the committee now it’s all set up but for now, I’ll still look after the blog and any media relations. We have a meeting this evening, so I’m hoping I can offload some of it there.

I didn’t do any writing, but I did pitch for 5 new editing or proofreading jobs. Then the rest of the day was spent playing with covers for the re-release of Night Crawler. The poet has come up with a great design for it, I’m really happy with it. But we could not get the placement right for the text boxes.

Homework
My homework this week is to get back into the swing of working. I only have 3 working weeks in December, and 2 of those are short ones. So I need to crack on and do some work to get some money in before Christmas.

What are you up to this week?

Glass of bubbly, anyone?

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-SquareWell, I did it.

I tried my first official NaNoWriMo in 2012, and failed. I tried again in 2014, and failed. And I tried again in 2015 – and won!

This isn’t just a NaNo victory either. This is the first full-length story I’ve actually finished since … 1996!

So what was different this year?

Well, for a start, I have a very supportive husband who wanted nothing more than for me to start writing again. Properly. And he was happy for me to concentrate on this one project for one month just so I could get it done. Granted, he wouldn’t have minded if I’d managed some other work too, and I did do some paid work. But, basically, not having to worry about where our next meal was coming from was a huge help. And, of course, his belief in me.

The second thing that happened was Scrivener, which helped me immensely in the planning stages of this particular story. I really am a planner and I love gadgetry too, but I was always loathe to spend money on writing software when I have a perfectly adequate word processing program. However, when I saw it on a very special offer, I went for it. And the organisation and the ability to move things around so easily really did help, along with the inbuilt facility to track the words as you write per session as well as per manuscript. This meant I didn’t have to keep stopping to count how many words I’d done.

And finally, I did have a story planned out from start to finish. Yes, the story did deviate from the plan. Yes, I did miss things out. And yes, I did add extra things in. I also changed my mind as I went along. But having an idea for at least 1,667 words per day for 30 days and using the index card system in Scrivener kept me going, even when I could have quite happily taken a day (or three) off.

So several things have helped this year, but I’m making a big deal of it because of the 20-year writing drought as well (apart from short material and anthologies).

Of course, there’s much more hard work to come, but I love the editing and polishing part and find it much easier than the actual original composition. I’ll leave it to cool for a while first, though, shall I? 🙂

~~~

We did manage to get out over the weekend. I was on over-the-counter drugs for the trapped nerve in my neck, and while I avoided driving Friday night, we did go on a very short walk not far from where we live. Pictures will hopefully follow later in the week, but it was a very wet, very squally day, and we don’t know how they look until we blow them up on the big screen.

We went to a place called Quakers’ Bottom (do you see a theme here?) and did a walk that was only ¾ of a mile. But it took us 55 minutes because it was so wet, slippery and treacherous underfoot. At one point we had to let the dog off his lead just so he didn’t pull me over.

We found a lovely little hamlet and learned a little of its history and we could have continued on with the 1-mile walk or the 1½-mile walk, but we decided on the shorter version with the weather conditions as they were. We can always go back again and give it another go when conditions have improved.

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On Saturday night, Monkey Dust had a gig in Doncaster. They’d already found out via the grapevine that another band was playing before them, but that they’d still be on at 9:30pm. By the time I got there, on the train, at 9:15pm, the other band had only just gone on. And at 10:05pm, they were still up there!

Monkey Dust didn’t get on until about 10:20pm, so they only did one set and played through until 11:45pm. That’s quite a long set, but at least it’s just the one. The bar was quite busy, but there were several televisions placed around the room that showed what was happening on stage. For some strange reason, the poet’s black trousers look white in the picture below …

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We got home quite late so had a very late start the next day to see my parents in Birmingham. We didn’t get there until 2pm and it was a horrible drive down. The squally weather was relentless and the high winds, standing water and spray from lorries slowed us right down. I didn’t do any driving, but the poet did and he was very stressed by the time we got there.

Because of the weather, we didn’t want to stay too late, so it was quite a short visit in the end. The weather was a little better coming back but it was gone 6pm and very dark when we did.

monkey dust black and whiteHe’d left a piece of pork slow-cooking while we were out and he made the rest of our Sunday dinner for 7:30pm. But we could have done with an extra day this weekend.

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We now have 2 short weeks on the trot, then we break up in 3 weeks for Christmas. I have a lot to do before then.

A quiet weekend?

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Walter Trout, Picturedrome, Holmfirth (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So there was me thinking we had a quiet weekend coming up … How silly of me.

Friday night we had our first assignment for the gig list, and it was the poet’s first photography assignment too. Walter Trout was playing at the Picturedrome in Holmfirth, along with a support band and his own son as special guest, and we enjoyed all of the performances.

Sadly, though, we thought the light show was very poor compared to many other times in the past that we’ve both been there. Most of the performers had their faces in darkness for much of the time, and we struggled to get some decent pictures without dazzling or distracting everyone with flash.

We also thought the venue might benefit from some TLC. It’s looking a tad tired at the moment, with paint peeling all over and evidence of roof leaks in the otherwise still ornate ceiling. We also don’t know why we have to go around the back to get in now. What’s wrong with the front door? The back entrance is up a sloped and cobbled hill, which gets quite slippery when wet. And on Friday it was cold and wet too.

It’s still a good gig, though, and we’ll be back in December to see Roy Wood.

~~~

On Saturday we were back in Wormy’s kitchen with him boiling ham and making 6 jars of tomato ketchup and me making 2 of our 4 Christmas cakes. I did my NaNoWriMo, and on Saturday evening Monkey Dust had another gig over in Doncaster.

On Sunday, he put half a pork shoulder in the slow cooker and the other half went in the freezer. We were going to have a proper Sunday dinner, but we got up late (after the gig the night before) and we visited his parents, and we nipped to the shops. But we were eating cheese and biscuits at 4pm so were too full for a proper tea later. I think we’re having that one today instead. I did my NaNo again, and that was the weekend over with, again.

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This morning I’ve been busy sifting through the photographs from Friday night (we try not to do work stuff at the weekend, having enough to do with the research/review trips and any gigs the band has), selecting about 26 (from around 100) for the Facebook page, cropping quite a few, and choosing just one for the review. Then I wrote and posted the review. It’s only short but it’s a start, and you can see it here if you’re interested.

I had some pro-bono work to do too, as the second of the charities we’re supporting has now been in touch.

I also did a little admin for the gig list, and more admin for the band. And before I knew it, the poet was home for an early dinner at just gone noon, which gives me a slightly longer than usual afternoon now he’s gone back to work.

~~~

This afternoon I still have today’s NaNo to do and a book to hard-copy edit. I also have the diary to do for this week, which I didn’t get around to last week. And I haven’t done the daily competitions today yet either.

I’d best get a shake on.

Thursdays

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The Kill, Barnsley Trades (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Even when I worked for a living, you know – had a “proper job” – Thursdays were always really, really bad. I was tired. I didn’t feel like getting up, let alone going to work. And when I was able to choose my part-time hours, Thursdays, along with Mondays, were the first to go.

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed that not a lot has changed. I still don’t feel very … bright-eyed or bushy-tailed on Thursdays. Last Thursday my NaNo word-count for the day was 189, and yesterday the words were a real wrench.

So then I wondered, perhaps I should just write-off Thursdays as not-very-productive, and do something else on those days, something easy. I could make Thursday my errand day, or I could make it my admin day. So long as I do something, I don’t mind if it’s not as productive as the rest of the week because I do generally make it up anyway.

Next week, then, I’m going to give it a go. I’m going to move admin and any errands from Friday to Thursday and see if I manage not to beat myself up if I do it that way around. Or I could make Thursdays the pro-bono day of the week. Whatever, for the rest of November, at least, I still have to write. For NaNo.

Do you have days where the words come more easily? I know different people have different times of the day that they like to work. But does it apply to days of the week too? Mondays I’m very, very productive, writing-wise. Then it all seems to go downhill from there …

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An online buddy of mine has two blogs that she regularly “earns” from. Sometimes this is real, actual cash. Sometimes it’s products to review. One of her blogs is a fitness blog, the other is a cooking blog, so the products she receives to review are all pertinent to those two topics. And she gets giveaways too.

Aside from monetising my blog (which I can’t do on this one anyway, as it’s a free one and you’re not allowed), I wasn’t sure how I too could do this.

But yesterday evening I had one of those light-bulb/brain-murmur things.

We can do it with the gig list – and I think we can monetise it too, and add widgets that point to goods from which I could earn a commission.

Over the past month we’ve received invitations to concerts and even a new album to review, pre-release. We turned down several of those invitations, mostly because we’re already so busy. But the album was sent as a download attachment and we could also manage the concert that went with it.

So our names are down and tonight the poet gets his first ever official photography assignment – which also means he gets to go behind the barriers in front of the mosh pit. I’ve never been comfortable doing that, but he is quite happy on a stage anyway, so it will probably suit him a lot better. And on Monday, a review and at least one picture will be up on the gig list, and all of the pictures will be on the Facebook page.

I’m currently having a few problems with the gig list, though. Yesterday evening I bought the old domain name back that I lost when someone in China or Japan jumped on it because it was getting so many hits. I could have bought it back then, but they wanted almost £100 for it, so I told them to forget it. They didn’t even use it for anything, cheeky sods. And I’d put money on their name not being Diane either, let alone them having a gig list.

But I bought the domain via Wix, and Wix has to be the most complicated of products I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Easy enough to set up a website in the first place using their templates, but as soon as you want to do anything with them … you need to allocate several days. AND they use frames, which are horrible on mobile phones – and I don’t care what Wix say, they’re awful and there’s no getting around it.

Last night, for a brief moment, the new domain pointed at the gig list and all was hunky dory. But as soon as we tried to look at it on our mobile phones we got “this website is currently unavailable”. And I’ve been struggling ever since to get it to work. It looks as though today is going to be a gig list admin day …

I also want to change the template of the gig list. I do like the current one, but I also like to brighten things up every so often and if we’re going to get it earning its keep, it needs to look the part too. But so far I haven’t found anything that I like.

Finally, the gig list itself needs a complete overhaul. The links in the sidebar have been there for yonks and many of the links might not even work any more. So I have to set time aside to check each of the links and delete any that are broken.

And then I might also monetise it.

Meanwhile, is there a Wix Doctor in the house who can help?

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NaNoWriMo is still going well for me. Yesterday the words were tough, but I still managed 1,699 words. I still have just over 600 to catch up from last Thursday, but even that figure is coming down. Yesterday I cleared the 30,000-mark, which also brought my to-do down to just under 19,000.

On a regular month my word-count target is around the 20,000-mark and this month, not only have I already done 31,000, but what’s left is under my usual target.

I’m learning a lot from NaNo this year. For a start, it’s the furthest I’ve ever come in all the years I’ve done it. And secondly, I’m really, really enjoying using Scrivener. I’ve always flirted with writing software but never actually taken the plunge. But I doubt I’ll ever work without it again, it’s been so much fun.

The big lesson learned, however, is to stop being pernickerty when writing the first draft. So long as I have a basic cast of characters and the basic plot laid down, I’ve discovered that I can really go for it, even if the end product is tosh. After all, what’s editing for?

If you’ve ever done NaNo, what lessons, if any, did you learn?

~~~

Today’s picture is from last Friday’s gig, which we really enjoyed. This weekend we may find some time to go and get some more pictures. There will be photographs from tonight, obviously, but those will be mostly kept for the gig list. Monkey Dust have a gig tomorrow night. But apart from that, we have nothing else planned for the weekend.

Perhaps this week we’ll manage that walk and be able to get some new pictures to illustrate the blog.

Have a great weekend.

Diary of a freelance writer, 4 November 2015

“Mardi Gras” (NaNoWriMo 2015)

Well, the year is galloping onwards towards its end, and we’re already into day 4 of NaNoWriMo.

I haven’t started today’s yet as it’s scheduled in at 11am and I’m trying to stick to that 2-hour slot.

It’s a bit of a short diary this week as most of the words I write should really go towards my NaNoWriMo and any other writing work I can fit in. How is your NaNo going?

Wednesday
On Wednesday, I did a bit more prep work for NaNo, I wrote 884 words on one project, and I continued with the hard copy edit of an easy book for a client.

Thursday
On Thursday I did some tweaking with my NaNo prep on Scrivener, juggling index cards, writing remaining brief blurbs on each, and then transferring that to the top of the page for each index card/chapter. By the end of Thursday I felt ready to tackle NaNo.

I moved a hair appointment forward from Friday, and I continued with the easy hard copy edit.

Friday
On Friday I was waiting in for a fancy dress delivery and I wrote 578 words on a project. I finished the hard copy easy edit and finalised details for a new edit.

Weekend
We had my dad for the weekend, which involved a 430-mile round trip to collect him and then another to take him home again.

We had a Monkey Dust gig too, which was also our Halloween party – hence the fancy dress. We got to bed at 3am on Sunday morning, so had a real chilled day with Dad on Sunday. But we didn’t get out to do any research trips.

At 11am on Sunday, I obediently sat down at the kitchen table, with my notebook/switch, and I banged out 1,750 words for NaNoWriMo.

Monday
Monday was a bit of a short day as we were taking my dad home. There was a lot of fog so we had to leave as early as we could in order to have a chance of getting back again.

I wrote a very short 248 words on a project, then again at 11am I sat down at the kitchen table and bashed out 1,756 words. My dad made me a cup of tea and brought me cake, so that was a nice treat.

Tuesday
On Tuesday I started a new edit. I still have the electronic edits of the easy book to do, but another client came in with a rush job and I was already late squeezing that one in for her. It’s only a short job and doesn’t take many hours out of my schedule.

NaNoWriMo was very difficult. Not because I didn’t have the words, but because I kept on being distracted.

The poet’s car is still in the garage and we’re now arguing with the car company, the car dealership, the service department, customer services and the warranty people – I bet you all can’t wait for THAT particular rant to rear its head.

For 2½ weeks the poet has been patiently negotiating with them but is just about at the end of his tether now, so I stepped in to see what I could do – and I received a response virtually straight away. (You can see the Twitter links in the sidebar.) The rant will depend on the outcome, as will my own choice of new car next year.

It took me all day, though, but I still managed 1,703 words. So I was very happy with that.

Homework
I don’t have any homework suggestions this week other than there’s still time to join in with NaNo if you want – and if you don’t feel you can manage 50,000 words then be a NaNo rebel, choose a different word-count and work on whatever suits you.

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