Another week hurtles by

Where does the time go? I knew I’d run out of time before posting last Wednesday, but to miss Friday as well …

I’ve been very busy, in my defence. Which is Very Good. But also Very Rude.

So where did my week go?

Monday – I was here. Blogging about the weekend. I also wrote and submitted the weekly walks report for 6 local newspapers and started to edit the next historical fiction. I pitched for 10 jobs and formally applied for another.

Tuesday – was mostly the historical fiction, but I also had an appointment in town and I heard from a weekly red top magazine that they wanted to buy one of my fillers. I pitched for 4 jobs.

Wednesday –  I was still editing, and I updated the gig list. I also had a friend over Wednesday evening and together we brainstormed our current writing WiPs.

Thursday – that editing job went on a lot longer than I thought it would, but I finished the manual edits on Thursday … at 11:30pm … I also filled in a massive form I’d been sent and my hair appointment from Friday was brought forward.

Friday – I received proofreader’s and author’s corrections back for a previous project and so spent the day applying as many of those as time dictated. Corrections and amendments are one thing, but rewriting is something else not usually covered at proofreading stage. I pitched for just one job (invited) and worked until about 8:30pm.

On Saturday I went to the CampNaNo write-in in Leeds and had a good couple of hours planning the book and writing the opening paragraphs. I bust my NaNo duck and wrote the grand total of 629 words. I supervised a couple of 10-minute writing sprints (or word wars as the campers call it). On the evening I went out with friends to a gig to help them celebrate a birthday.

On Sunday it was red hot outside. I had an idle lie-in and was going to take the dog out, but it was toooo hot. I only pegged some washing out and had to lie down on the settee to recover. So I spent the afternoon idly watching tennis (we won, just in case you didn’t know), playing mindless games on FB, and generally chilling and relaxing out of the sun. Then we took the dog out at about 7:30pm beside some water and spent a thoroughly pleasant hour feeding ducks, looking for fish, and strolling and chatting.

Today I spent the whole morning on CampNaNo and have added 1,105 words. Not a lot for a morning’s work, but in between I was hanging washing out again, updating the nice neighbours on nuisance neighbour, reading and planning. But it’s 1,105 words more than I had written when I started.

Following last Wednesday’s brainstorm session, I decided I really need to write the remaining Marcie Craig books and bring her as up to date as I can in as short a time as possible. So the current WiP, The Beast Within, is just 2 years on from the last one. We discussed it and discussed it and really didn’t think freezing her age and fetching her bang up to date was the right thing to do, but moving the story on by 2 years at a time, and in quick succession, might be the way forward. As soon as that was decided, a cloud seemed to lift and I was itching to write.

The pub bombing book has been postponed until a more suitable 50-year anniversary, and meanwhile I have 3 Marcie Craigs to write – at least. The Beast Within; Snowblind; Killer Queen. And possibly Burn. The steampunk has been put on the back burner while I learn more about the genre and decide and research which period in history I want to use. During that time I’ll read as many as I can.

I think that’s finally the right decision, as so many things were just stopping me from getting on and writing something – anything. I received a very welcome kick up the backside, put everything else onto one side, and agreed to work on just one book.

This afternoon I have this week’s walk report to write and submit and I need to start the electronic edits for the historical novel I finished manually editing Thursday night. I also still have the dog to walk, washing to fetch in and jobs to sift through.

blog thumbnail

A tad busy

blog thumbnailOoh, I’ve been a bit busy between last Friday and today, and even now – at 10:40pm – I’m only coming up for air between hard copy and electronic copy proof-reading.

I was working at the weekend, mostly on an auto-biography for a client, and I did get going on that. But when I warned him that it may be a day late, i.e. Sunday, because I’d been poorly, he told me not to give up my weekend and he extended the deadline. What a nice chap.

So I had an unexpected afternoon off on Saturday and did some shopping. I had to replenish the dog training treats, and bought him a new ball as well – ooh, and our pet superstore has finally joined the 21st century and is issuing loyalty cards. I nipped to the chemist to get the lipgloss I like, because I can’t get it from the supermarket at the moment, and while there picked up a new fitness magazine. I had a free lunch courtesy of another loyalty card. I picked up a pair of yoga pants in a sports shop sale, because I lounge around the house in them and two pairs are falling apart. And Rufus had a good walk.

Sunday I pootled about doing absolutely nothing. Well, he told me not to work on the weekend … but I wish that I had.

On Monday I started back to work with a vengeance, and then the house calls and the phone calls started. Nuisance neighbour is at it again, this time the local environmental health department came to see me. I told them this was complaint no 10, and they said they were also fed up of him and were passing him “upstairs”. I had long conversations with the police and with my solicitor, plus one call about repairing the fence/gate, and I finally set up the CCTV a friend had loaned me that I was just using as a deterrent for now.

He’s about to get a letter off my solicitor and the police decided that now might be a good time to get the camera plugged in. I’ve been advised not to carry out any temporary repairs on the gates until we know whether I have to leave vehicle access or if I can fence off the garden full stop. We’re still investigating the boundary dispute, but he’s going to get a sharp rap on the knuckles over his constant harassment.

Ten complaints since November 2011 (that we know of), and not a single one has been upheld. My solicitor and the police both believe that once he gets his letter, there will be a whole host of other complaints he’d like to make about me, but at least we’ll know what they are then, and by his own admission.

While I was setting up the CCTV he came home and made a big pantomime of watching the bedroom window and making a phone call. I totally ignored him and set the CCTV to RECORD.

So that took up most of Monday and because I started work late, I finished work late. About 11pm.

I was up with the larks on Tuesday – well, up by 9am – and was tightening both washing lines by 10am. He’d already gone out, quite early (and he came back quite late – spooked much?), so I had the yard to myself. We’ve had such glorious weather since Saturday that I decided to take advantage of it.

So after hanging out 2 washloads, I was back working. I had an hour off at 9pm to watch a television series, but other than fetching the washing back in (and snapping one of the lines, I’d pulled it so tight), I worked. Until 1am.

Today I’ve been working some more, but still it isn’t shifting. I told him it would take 3 – 5 days and so far it’s taken 3. I’ve done all of the hard copy stuff and some of the electronic. Now I have to finish the electronic amendments and get it back to him. I’ve already sent feedback but by the time I finish, It will probably have taken 3½ days. I just wish I could have been left to just get on with it.

I’ve had a quick tea this evening (beans on toast followed by chopped bananas with fruits of the forest yoghurt), taken the dog for a walk and posted a letter to my solicitor. I have coffee. I work.

Well hello, Mucus Monkey …

blog thumbnailOnce again, good intentions have gone down the drain, mostly due this time to a swift bout of head flu.

When I let the animals out yesterday morning I thought I was feeling better, but I went back to bed (it was only about 5:30am) and woke up 6 hours later. I got up and got dressed, and just that act of getting dressed totally exhausted me.

So I sat around, reading, feeling sorry for myself.

I did start some work, but kept being distracted. And then I found out that nuisance neighbour isn’t just fixating on me any more. He’s started on the lovely young chap on the end, a serving soldier, for daring to challenge him over driving through his washing.

Numerous times nuisance neighbour has done this, knocking washing on the floor or just dirtying it so it has to be done again, without apology or anything, and when soldier neighbour complained, nuisance neighbour apparently reported him to the police for parking his car in the way of nuisance neighbour’s van.

It seems the council and the police have both said we can all park our own cars on our own properties at the back, but if our way is blocked by someone else doing the same thing, tough. There’s no right of way, just an etiquette thing.

So now nuisance neighbour has, apparently, reported soldier neighbour for vandalising his van by throwing down nails and stingers to puncture his tyres.

Well, I walk the dog around there every single day and I’ve never seen such a thing. But nuisance neighbour has also apparently told the police that I’m filming the back of the house so will provide them with the necessary evidence.

Erm, I don’t think so. Apart from the fact that I’m not yet filming the back of the house anyway, what makes him think I would want to help him?!

What a deluded idiot.

Anyway, I await the police visit with interest and, meanwhile, will pass the information on to my solicitor.

The head flu isn’t much better today. Well, the stuffiness has gone from behind my eyes, but the mucus monkey has settled into my sinuses and I have a barbed wire throat. I’m not as tired, but I still don’t have much energy.

So far today I’ve updated the gig list, which was already late for February. And that’s it. Next job, the job boards I think.

Nail Your Novel (book review)

nail novelI had quite the productive day yesterday. I’ve found a new book – oh yes I have – and like many others it starts off really well and positive, but unlike many others, this one is actually holding my interest and keeping me writing.

On Sunday evening I wrote nearly 600 words onto index cards for Catch the Rainbow. I’ve been looking for hints and tips about using index cards for ages, and finally I seem to have found some. Then yesterday, I wrote nearly 900 words of the book. This is a result for me, and a process I intend to stick to.

For years and years I’ve been reading books on how to write, and so many of them disappoint and end up donated to the library, because they all have such useless exercises in them, or none at all, that contribute nothing to my job as a writer.

I don’t want to write 13 different versions of the view through a window. I don’t want to describe the folds in the face of a total stranger. I don’t want to imagine stepping out of my front door and into an oasis of calm with waterfalls and wood nymphs everywhere.

I want practical exercises and suggestions for getting my bum on that seat and getting my novel/short story/article written. Yes, I want someone or something to tell me, right, go and do this now, and when that’s been done, do that next … and so on. I want something that moves my work forward to a publishable end, not exercises for the sake of exercises because I’ve got all day.

I’m halfway through this book already, and there I stay for a while, because I’m currently in the middle of “write the first draft”, and writing the first draft takes a while – as it should. And even though I can plan for England, the tips in this book helped me to fill some gaps and show me the structure of the novel as a whole.

I can still add to it, and I can take away, nothing is cast in stone. Bur for something that does exactly what it says on the cover, this is the one. There are also ideas and hints about kick-starting partially written novels hidden away in cupboards gathering cobwebs, virtual and real.

For anyone else who may be interested, the author also has a website. Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris is available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. I have the Kindle, but when I’m feeling flush I may treat myself to the paperback as well so it can sit on my bookshelf.

Aside from this I also corresponded with my solicitor over nuisance neighbour and fielded yet another complaint via The Environment Agency. Apparently I’ve been polluting my storm drain. I don’t have a storm drain … Nuff said. I was in touch with The Environment Agency too, because when I did actually report nuisance neighbour for pouring neat bleach down the storm drain that he does have (on police advice), the agency told me it was nothing to do with them. Yet they responded to a trumped up imaginary complaint and threatened me with legal proceedings. They say the letter I received was no such thing, but I beg to differ – and am still awaiting the promised apology and confirmation that there is no case to answer to.

I also had cheques to bank (hurrah!) and a dog to walk. And I finished making a raspberry trifle that will be my puddings for the next few days.

Today I’m not feeling so grand. It started with a weepy ear at the weekend, through a “bit of a throat” yesterday, to full head flu today, and I spent the morning in bed trying to sleep/sweat it away/out. I have work to do, though, and stuff to see to. “Liggin’ in bed” (as they say around here) is not really an option.

Cabin fever

snow 25 jan 2013I had such big plans for the weekend but they were foiled again (or some of them were) when four inches of snow started to fall on Friday evening. I heard a couple of gentle thuds and when I checked through the window, it was the milkman leaving Saturday’s milk – at 7pm on Friday – and as he’s more reliable than a weather vane …

Sure enough, by bedtime our street looked like this. I took pictures because I thought it would all be washed away by morning. It wasn’t. And on Saturday I couldn’t get out of the road again and wasn’t even going to try.

Bravo my milkman, though. Again.

So on Saturday instead of going to the Leeds write-in, I stayed home and watched the snow. I did more online stuff, ordered a heavy shop from Tesco to be delivered Sunday evening (heavy as in weight rather than money), and walked the dog. But by teatime I was starting to get cabin fever, so we (the dog and I) went to get chocolate (for me, not the dog), and spent the evening in front of the telly.

By Sunday morning a heavy downpour had washed it all away, so I packed the car up and took the dog to see my parents. Aside from nipping to the shop or passing someone in the street, they were the last people I’d had a proper conversation with two weeks earlier, so it was nice to get out and have a good drive down.  Not long after we got back, my Tesco delivery arrived.

I do love the snow. I love to watch it fall, I love to see it lying fresh and white and undisturbed. But I don’t like how this country simply fails to deal with it properly. The roads aren’t clear, our regular vehicles don’t have tyres suitable for driving in snow, and the front wheel drives are just too lightweight to hold themselves down.

Walking up to the village on Friday before the snow came was like climbing up a bobsleigh run. Rufus thought that was ace, but even in my wellies I thought it was dangerous. It hadn’t cleared since the last snow dump we’d had the previous Monday.

Yesterday, the thaw brought floods. We had new severe weather warnings, and still some people ignored them, so putting additional unnecessary strain on our emergency services. I didn’t see any floodwater on my 200-mile round trip, but there was still snow lying in places, despite sunshine for most of the drive.

The trip did me good and I was raring to go again by this morning and up at 7am … although I did go back to bed 20 minutes later “for 5 minutes …”, and was up again at 8am.

I’ve already done some writing work, written this week’s walk report for the local newspapers and cranked up the publicity machine for Friday’s publication day. Two local newspapers have already bitten at that story. I need to contact the Birmingham and Solihull papers as well, and the radio and television stations … (gulp …) I’ve also started proceedings against the nuisance neighbour.

I still have proof-reading to do and have been asked if I’d like to consider another project. I need to clear the work I already have first.