We had a fantastic 2015. In May we were married in Gretna Green, and had a wonderful honeymoon, first in Scotland and then in Cyprus. Our very busy life started to ease off a little, and my writing work was made much more businesslike. In November, of course, I finally completed my first ever NaNoWriMo, and my first full-length story since, well, Night Crawler.
The holiday has given me time to assess how the past year went and what I’d like to achieve in the new year – workwise and personally. But I’m not going to bore everyone with a list of so-called “resolutions”. Instead, I’m just going to cover some changes to Baggins Bottom.
I’d like to have a grid on the front page with just the opening of each post visible and a continue-reading/read more-type option. But this current theme is quite a new one, and one I quite like, and it doesn’t seem to be available. I shall, however, research it further, and change it if I find it.
In the meantime, here are some new regular features that may or may not eventually be turned into non-fiction books, with added extras, such as OS maps for a walking book:
- Wormy’s kitchen – including recipes and gadget tests/reviews
- Walk of the week – including gear reviews and product tests
- Kitchen garden from scratch – including step-by-step projects
- Our lane this month
- My fat year (fitness diary)
Each of the posts will have the topic name at the start of the post title followed by a colon, like the list alert on this one. The first post in each category will be an introduction with background where necessary. Come June, I’ll have a good idea of how much material I have and whether or not some of them can be converted into book proposals that can then go on their merry way.
The writing work is being moved up a gear in 2016. I’ve pretty much decided that I don’t want to write articles or features any more, other than nostalgia pieces that insist on being written and maybe readers’ letters. I do have some writing projects already started and I’d like to polish or finish some of those. Then I’d like to concentrate on the non-fiction ideas above.
Here is what I’d like to achieve in 2016, writing-wise:
- polish Mardi Gras (my 2015 NaNoWriMo project)
- finish Catch the Rainbow
- start The Beast Within (a Marcie Craig mystery)
- write at least one short story a month for fave short story market (and so eventually lead towards Twee Tales Twee …)
- write at least one piece of work a month for the fiction writing course the poet bought for my birthday last year
All of this will monitored and documented and added to a new blog, Words Worth Writing … (do you see what I did there?) There’s not a lot on there at the moment, although I did secure the url a long time ago. But here is where you’ll start to see Diary of a Freelance Writer too, although I’ll probably duplicate that for a while until everyone knows how to find it. In fact, I might duplicate this post over there too, to get us started.
And then there’s the editing/self-publishing side of my work. I have 4 books to republish in 2016, under the new by-line:
- Night Crawler (a Marcie Craig mystery)
- Baggins Bottom Best Bits Books 1 & 2 (that’s 2 books)
- Twee Tales
I still have the following to knock into shape:
- Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book 3
And I have this one to start collating:
- Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book 4
And then in February … (joke!)
So that’s it for now. All that’s left for today is to wish everyone a very merry new year. Good luck for 2016!
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
“We still don’t have any new pictures for the blog,” I said.
“We must have loads of them,” he replied.
“Not of winter.”
“We have, we’ve got lots. From last year.”
“We’ve probably used them all.”
“No you haven’t. Have a look. Choose one from last year.”
So I went to have a look at last year’s pictures … and there aren’t any. This time last year we were moving house. We didn’t get a lot of time to go out and take pictures. Apart from “new house” pictures. And I know I’ve already shared all of those – some of them more than once.
So I went back another year, to 2013, to November. And there was one folder. Just the one. From Cusworth Hall in Doncaster. You’ve probably already seen this one, but as it’s a November shot … well, enjoy. 🙂
And we might not be going out tomorrow either. We were going to go for a short walk, to start us off again building up to bigger and longer walks eventually. But on Wednesday night I did something that trapped a nerve in my neck. I didn’t feel any twinge or pain. I didn’t make any sharp or sudden movements. My neck just gradually started to get stiff. And when I woke up Thursday morning, I could hardly move.
I was going to nip down to Birmingham to see my parents yesterday. But I couldn’t even get my nightie over my head let alone drive 200 miles. So I took 2 “horse tranquillisers” (prescription co-codomol) and went back to bed. Where I slept the sleep of the dead for 4 hours. And when I woke up, the pain and the stiffness were still there.
That’s when the poet started to feed me “big pink ones” (very large ibuprofen). They do upset my stomach, and they upset his stomach too. But reading the leaflet yesterday he discovered that we’re only supposed to take one of these at a time, and he takes 2. I forced one dose down and the stiffness did indeed start to wane. The pain was still there, but at least I could move again.
Last night I took 2 more horse tranquillisers before bed and I’ve been taking big pink ones today (with food). But if I can’t even drive, or raise my arm over my head, or turn my head beyond the line of my shoulders (less on the right than on the left), then he doesn’t think we should go for a walk. Even a small one.
We’re going out tonight, and he’s driving. He has a gig tomorrow, and he’s probably driving again. Then we’re definitely going to Birmingham on Sunday and he won’t let me drive that far in case it aggravates my neck even if it is feeling better by then.
So you lot are going to have to wait another 2 weeks before there might be any more new pictures.
Saying that, I have still managed my NaNoWriMo all week and the finish line is on the horizon. Well, if I stand on tip toe, I can see it from here – it’s Monday. Then on Tuesday, I start work proper again.
I’ve also managed some work on the republication for January of Night Crawler: a Marcie Craig mystery. The interior is ready. The artwork is chosen for the cover. It just needs sharpening and tweaking and the text placing. Then I can order the first proof copy.
Today I’ve done some more pro-bono work too. We have a meeting next Wednesday evening, and the 2 chosen charities are both sending representatives to talk to us, so I’ve been liaising with them.
I still have today’s NaNo to do. I’ve been doing it of an evening, but we will be out this evening so I need to do it this afternoon. And tomorrow we have shopping to do too (as well as my NaNo) as Sunday is already full and I really wasn’t up to doing it last night.
I hope I feel up to a short walk tomorrow, but I will take it easy if I need to. I’d sooner lose just one weekend of driving and walking than have to put up with this for as many weeks (or months!) as some of our friends have recently experienced.
Have a great weekend. 🙂
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.
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.
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 …
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?
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.