Tag Archives: short stories

Our woodpecker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you up to this weekend?

This one or that one?

An extra post today. Lucky you lot! 🙂

There are currently 2 competitions or “opportunities” for writers of short stories who would like to write for radio. The BBC Opening Lines details can be found here; the BBC National Short Story Competition with Booktrust details can be found here. The bright-eyed and bushy-tailed will notice that both of these competitions are in association with the BBC.

Opening Lines is free entry and 3 successful writers will have their stories broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and be invited to London to see their winning stories recorded. There is no other payment for this “opportunity”.

The BBC National Short Story Competition is also free entry, but the 5 winning entries (that’s FIVE), will receive £15,000 1st prize, £3,000 runner up, and £500 each for the 3 further shortlisted entries. Interviews with the shortlisted writers will be broadcast over 5 weekdays and each story will also be broadcast.

Now then, as an advocate of writers being paid, which one do you think I’d recommend you go for? Of course, it’s entirely up to you, but if you have any doubt, please check out these usual rates of pay from the BBC first, via the Society of Authors.

I continue to argue that if a slot is already paid for, then it should be paid for. Organisations and companies should not exploit beginning writers by encouraging them to submit something and then not pay them what they’d normally pay. “For the glory” doesn’t really pay the rent, does it? Or perhaps we should try something similar when the gas board come calling: “Sorry, although I do usually pay my utility bills, why don’t you accept having the glory of being my energy supplier this time?” Or how about when our TV licence becomes due for payment …?

In my opinion, the BBC can afford to pay its contributors. End of.

Let me know if you enter either competition or “opportunity”, and how you get along. (I love how they’re calling it an opportunity … not.)

Productive week

Despite being on my own again this week, it’s been a productive one.

First of all I won 2 jobs, and one of them I turned around the same day. The second one is a nice biggie, and it starts today or Monday, depending on how I get on with what I already have – probably Monday, but I’ve allowed 2 weeks for it.

I got a final revision in from a regular client and, again, I turned it around the same day. Some things just work better with the touch-it-once mentality. Had I not just turned them both around and sent them on their merry ways, they would have been thrown into the to-do basket with everything else.

I’ve been plodding through a new edit for lovely-already-boss and I hope to have that one done by the end of today or by midday Monday.

My writer’s boot camp has come into its own finally, with me completing the following:

  • 4 outlines – 3 short stories and 1 filler
  • #1 of a filler
  • #2 of a 1,402-word short story
  • #3 of a Reader’s True Experience (RTE)
  • final draft of another RTE, polished and submitted

The latter one I edited down from over 2,700 words to bang on 1,200 words. The required length? 1,200 words. 😀 The short story needed to be 1,400 words too, so I think I did quite well on those two.

NEWS JUST IN: That RTE I submitted yesterday has just been accepted. 😀

I’d like to do more boot camp today, but I’d also like to finish the current 1st hard-copy edit, so I need to decide which is more important to me.

The next job to do on the short WiP list is the first draft of one of the short stories I outlined. That’s always a hard one for me, and I like most of the story to be inside my head before I start. I think it needs to percolate a little more, but I may just get a burst of enthusiasm when I least expect it.

The next job after that one is a 2nd draft of the filler, so I might just skip to that one for now, just to keep the writing muscle exercised. Further proof that the short WiP schedule is not cast in stone.

I’ll be collecting the poet again from the station at teatime today, so I have until 5:30pm to finish today’s work.

I don’t think we’re doing anything tonight, but we’re shopping tomorrow and going to a comedy show tomorrow night. If the weather’s okay, we may also do a spot of river fishing at some point over the weekend. He’s not done that in a while, and it gives me chance to read or do more boot camp, depending on what I feel like. The dog also gets extra walks, which means I do too.

Or, we may go for a walk or just a day out.

We could also hear from son #1 again this weekend, though, wanting to move that furniture. But we’ll deal with that if and when it happens.

What are you up to this weekend? Hope it’s a goodun. 😉

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Hey you! Yes, you at the back! Say hello!

I have no idea why, but Wednesday’s post seems to have been more popular than some of the previous ones as it was possibly shared and re-tweeted much more than any of my posts have ever been shared before. So, all you people at the back, before you read any further, nip on down to the bottom and say hi. No need to be shy, we’re very friendly here.

Have you done it? Go on, I’ll wait …

# tum ti tum ti tum ti tum …

Done it? There now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

So, what have I been up to this week?

Well, so far, without counting today, I’ve pitched for 24 new proofreading or editing jobs, including several regular gigs. I’ve also caught up a bit on the non-fiction editing – I’ve done author and proofreader revisions on a non-fiction book, I’ve edited an essay and I’ve been reviewing another non-fiction book that needed additional work doing to it.

I’ve written the walks report and submitted it to 6 local newspapers, and liaised with a couple of said newspapers, and I’ve caught up on the daily competitions. I’ve also been doing my own writer’s boot camp. I’m working on 5 short stories and have a couple of 1st drafts I want to have a look at.

And a big job I did yesterday was my first critical data backup in 9 months … I’ve done a lot of work in that 9 months, it would be awful if the computer crashed and I lost it all. That took a little longer than intended as it involved tidying up the hard drive anyway to make sure I wasn’t copying any duplicates or anything that really isn’t needed any more.

As part of that backup I found a load of old ebooks that I’ve not been able to read anywhere due to the archaic format. But I think I’ve managed to transfer the majority of those to my new Kindle Paperwhite. They’re all saved on there as “personal”, and if I delete them from the home page they also go from the collection(s) I put them in. But I think I can at least read them.

There are a couple of old magazines on there I’d like to read, Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen. I might try those first.

I still have today’s chores to do – daily competitions, surf for more work and pitch if necessary, invoices to raise (hurrah!), the notes section of a non-fiction to read through, today’s boot camp. And I think I have a hair appointment at 5pm-ish.

We’re having a bit of personal upheaval over the coming 4 weeks, so this weekend the poet and I are having some quality time together. I think we’re going fishing tomorrow, and we may go to the pictures on Sunday. We also have to head over to the other house to inspect it for new tenants and change the locks, but we may do that this evening.

So, y’all have a great weekend – tell us what you’re up to – and I’ll see you on Monday. 🙂

Burn out!

Phew! What a busy few weeks we’ve been having here in Baggins Bottom. First a holiday, then a music festival swiftly followed by a beer festival, then a trip to Solihull and Tipton, then another music festival including a camping trip in major thunderstorms. And to top it all, I come in here today, and the whole interface has changed. Ooh-er. I think I need to pause and take stock.

In between all of these exciting shenanigans I’ve also been very busy. I’ve been editing and proofreading books well into the evenings to make sure I meet deadlines. I’ve fielded argumentative emails from argumentative clients. (I’ve had some proper bostin clients too, by the way.) And I’ve given my writing a good kick up the backside.

I’ve been reading a selection of books in order to get me writing, and these are filled with lots of positive, pro-active exercises that lead to finished products, rather than being exercises for exercise sake. I’ll share some of the better ones with everyone once I know which ones have actually worked. 

And it is all work. As well as a part-completed Camp NaNo during July, I’ve also started several short stories and even finished the first drafts of a few. Now I need to plod on through, continue with the exercises, and get some stories polished and off into the ether to earn their keep.

So, what have you lot been up to while we’ve been gallivanting around the country? Answers below. 

We have guests

On Wednesday I started to think about how to make Camp NaNo (July 2014) work for me and I began by selecting one of my daily writing prompt books, Four Seasons of Creative Writing. Since then I’ve selected and bought a few magazines that publish fiction specials, to get a feel for what they’re using right now, and I’ve decided my target month.

Because this is happening in July, advance 6 months to January and that’s what most magazine writers will be thinking about – article and short story/serial writers. So my four seasons of creative writing will start in the winter.

I’m usually a planner. I usually start with a theme or an idea or a topical event, then come up with the title, then think of the storyline, and then think of characters to people my stories. And I plan the story, beginning, middle and end. Lots of other writers start with the character. I’ve tried that, but I really need to use all of the above.

But this time, in the spirit of NaNo, I’m going to write by the seat of my pants – be a pantster. I’m going to see if I can come up with around 1,000 words a day, or write for an hour, whichever is sooner – and I can often write 1,000 words in an hour if I’m on a roll. And, technically, that’s 31 x 1,000-word 1st draft stories for January.

However, we do have a holiday in the middle of July. We’re off to Dent again. But because my Four Seasons books is on Kindle, I just need that and my notepad and pen. And on Wednesday I treated myself to a lovely new notepad … well, the poet treated me to it. 🙂

One of the many beauties of Dent (and there are very many) is that I can’t get a mobile signal on my phone. That means I’ll have no pesky internet to distract me from the matter in hand. And, if the poet’s happy, I’ll still try and do my 1,000 words/1 hour a day. So not only will there be lovely pictures to share on the other side of Dent, there will also be a report on how my NaNo has gone. And, because we’re on holiday, it might also feel like a real camp.

It was always my intention to write short stories for magazines and to graduate onto writing serials and then full-length books. However, I found very early on that not only is there a (much!) bigger market for non-fiction in magazines, but I was also quite good at it. And that’s how my writing career progressed – and from there to sub- and then copy-editing and proofreading.

So July will be all about getting back onto that original treadmill and seeing how I get along. No fillers, no articles, no reader’s letters, no novels. Just short stories. Keep everything crossed for me.

Since Wednesday I started the electronic edits on the current non-fiction. A new one came in this week and I already had another one to start. This morning, the novel I’m proofreading also arrived. I’ve pitched for 7 new editing or proofreading jobs already this week and will see if there are any new ones today to go for. And I’ve chased an invoice that’s now overdue.

Today I’ll be doing more of the same until the poet arrives home. Then we’re tidying the house and off to do a bit of shopping ahead of visitors arriving this evening. He has 3 kids and 2 of them (twins) have birthdays today – they’re 25. The other is 29 on Monday. So we’re taking them for a birthday meal this evening for 2 of them (and partner if she makes it), and at least 2 will be staying over. The other one can’t make it so we’re treating her a different way.

I don’t know yet what we’re doing tomorrow, or how long the kids are staying, but Sunday the poet and I are off to my parents as he’s accompanying my dad to the national arboretum in Alrewas, and I’ll be keeping my mom company.

Y’all have a great weekend.

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D-Day 70 Years On

On Wednesday I managed to get quite a lot done in the end before heading off to the literary festival in Doncaster. We had a bit of a rushed tea and we were a few minutes late, but the talks from both speakers were very interesting, and it was nice to see Kate again.

In the end I also pitched for 3 new editing or proofreading jobs, liaised with 2 of my clients and won a bonus on a job I’m still working on.

On Thursday we had a bit of an unscheduled blog, which in the end netted 3 new followers, 3 new likes and 1 re-blog. So now I know what people are really interested in. 😉 Welcome to the new followers.

I also pitched for another 3 new editing or proofreading jobs, submitted 2 short stories, and edited and submitted 1 RTE. A new editing job came in from lovely-already-boss, and 1st proofs also came in for another of his jobs.

Friday is errand day, but this week all I have to do is put petrol in the car and go for some dog food. I also want to crack on with some editing and pitch for a few more jobs. I’m also trying to create an event on Facebook for tomorrow evening, but it isn’t letting me.

This evening we’re off to see a new band to us in a familiar venue. I don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow during the day, so we might go out. Tomorrow night the poet has a gig in York. Then on Sunday we’re off to see my parents. My sister is taking them to Bletchley Park on Monday and Dad would like to borrow one of our rucksacks. I must remember to put one in the car for him. If we get back in time, we may go to see another band we like.

Just one more thing for me to do on today’s blog … see pic below. Enough said. Have a great weekend. d day

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