w/c 17 Feb: to do list

I had some good news last week. A short story I wrote over a year ago and submitted to a magazine last March was finally accepted. I have to do some work to it – lose 200 words and confirm something – but I was very happy to hear from them as it’s a favourite client. That’s 2 fillers and a short story I’ve had accepted or published in the last few weeks, and there was me thinking I might be losing my touch. Of course, I might be, but at least it’s given me some confidence back.

Two days before I was yearning to be back in Dentdale, but a quick check to see availability and a tentative message to the poet (to which I had one of the speediest replies ever), and we’re booked in for a full week in the summer. We have to pay the deposit, still, but because we’re returning customers, and because I went direct to the owner, it’s fairly cheap and he’s reserved the cottage for us anyway.

This is what I was a tad excited about, for those who noticed last week on Facebook. We’re also looking forward to spending 2 nights in Keswick for my birthday next month.

We had a good weekend with the poet’s first gig of the year. He has 2 more in February and then that’s it, I think, until April. Most of the band have asked for most of March off.

Much of this morning was spent doing shameless self-publicity; this afternoon I made a red trifle. I still have a few jobs to do today, but here, for now, is this week’s to do list:

  • shameless self-promotion 
  • diary work x 2 
  • blog x 3 √×
  • surf job boards daily x 5 
  • daily competitions x 5 
  • write walks report 
  • submit walks report to 6 local newspapers 
  • electronic edits on historical non fiction #1 
  • send historical non fiction #1 to author for checking 
  • send historical non fiction #1 for typesetting 
  • doctor’s appointment 
  • revise short story 
  • return short story to favourite client 
  • write editing article for writing anthology 
  • print off historical non fiction #2 
  • manual edits on historical non fiction #2
  • electronic edits on historical non fiction #2
  • send historical non fiction #2 to author for checking
  • send historical non fiction #2 for typesetting
  • invoices (hurrah! – there are LOTS)
  • check historical non fiction #3 3rd proofs
  • send historical non fiction #3 back to client
  • check historical non fiction #4 author amendments 
  • send historical non fiction #4 for typesetting 

What’s on your to do list this week?

The lovely little cottage where we stayed. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Looking forward to coming back here in the summer. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Ooh, tis snowing … (list alert!)

tree
Picture: Ian Wordsworth

And I don’t mean outside, I mean on the blog. I was looking for that function only last week and couldn’t find it, but it looks as though they’ve retained the setting from last year. This is nice as I’m actually starting to feel a bit like Christmas already this year. In recent years it’s taken a little while longer despite it being my favourite time of year.

We put the tree up yesterday. For the first time in years I had help and it looks lovely. We’ve stuck to just red trimmings this time and it goes with the lounge just perfectly. We also baked the cake – with one spare (for testing purposes, of course) – and I had help with that too, in the stirry bit where the mixture gets a bit too heavy. I’ll ice it a bit closer to the time when I’ll also make the Yule log, the mince pies and tarts, and any festive biscuits.

I’ve been doing a lot of catching up with work just lately, hence my absence from the blog. It’s been work away from the pc and keeping off the pc has resulted in me being more productive too. Last Thursday and Friday I started work at 8:30am both days, and both days finished well into the evening.  I also updated the gig list for December and I pitched for 13 jobs.

The other catch-up thing I did was sort out all of my current writing work in progress. I haven’t done any proper writing since my 30k in 30 days in April and I’ve been determined to get back into the swing of that. So last week I kickstarted it all by:

  • pitching a brand new article
  • outlining two brand new short stories, and
  • outlining a brand new filler, all firsts in ages.

Then I armed myself with a book I quite enjoyed reading the first time, The Positively Productive Writer by Simon Whaley, and gave myself a pep-read via the Kindle. This book will be staying by my side throughout 2014 as there’s a month-by-month guide as well.

The next jobs I did last week included:

  • emptying the hard-copy-editing folder (books)
  • turning 3 short stories around and sending them off on their merry way again
  • sending 1 book off to the client, and
  • printing 2 draft 3 articles off for editing and submission.

News just in: The book I sent back to the client on Friday has just this second been paid for. I like that kind of work.

After a busy weekend, with a gig Friday night, a visit to Birmingham on Saturday, a double gig Saturday night, a walk yesterday and all of the weekend Christmas activity,  I started the new week very well with my first Yoga workout in ages. I did a bit of this yesterday when my back started to really hurt again, and it did it the world of good quite quickly. So now I want to do something every morning again, just like I used to.

This week, then (and those of a nervous disposition may want to look away now), here is my to-do list:

9781846948510_The Positively Productive Writer_PB.indd

  • complete electronic edits on 2 books and submit for typesetting
  • complete brand new filler and submit by Wednesday
  • write walks report and submit to 6 local newspapers
  • write 3 blog posts
  • update gig list on Wednesday
  • write and submit 1 commissioned article, and source pictures
  • kickstart Devon Ellington’s 5 Stories in 10 Weeks with a short flash fiction piece
  • edit and submit 2 speculative articles (RTEs – Readers’ True Experiences)
  • write draft 1 of a new short story that’s actually a sequel to a previously successful story
  • surf the job boards daily.

What are your plans this week?

A busy old week

It’s been a busy old week, and there’s still a way to go, but halfway along I’m feeling it.

On Monday we had thunderstorms ALL DAY, and Rufus barked at the thunder ALL DAY. I do like to have the doors and windows open at this time of year and enjoy listening to any rain showers or rumbles of thunder in the distance, but Rufus wasn’t having any of that this time. No, he wanted everyone’s full attention. EVERYONE’S.

I had a busy day anyway. I wrote and submitted 3 articles, sent one of them off to 6 local newspapers and the other 2 off to a magazine. The magazine acknowledged them straight away, and one of the newspapers acknowledged the other.

I also started editing a book, and all of that reading and writing, coupled with the dog’s constant barking, left me with a grumpy headache by teatime. So I called it a day and we had a chilled evening on the settee in front of the telly with Chinese for tea. Perfick.

Yesterday the dog was quieter. I think he had a sore throat. So I was able to crack on with some more work, which I’ve continued today. I like working on my lap downstairs, and I’ve enjoyed doing that for a couple of days.

I also had to come onto the computer – when it wasn’t thundering – to do some online stuff, checking for jobs, corresponding with clients, etc.

Today has been a day of also speaking to money people. My workload has increased significantly for August and already, with still 3 weeks to fill, I’ve broken-even income-wise, with £40 to spare (apx $60). Instead of lurching from day to day, I once again have work in for 3 weeks (including this week). If I can sustain that, then I’m back on track. But I needed to let the money people know.

I have 2 budget income figures: one is “break even”; the other is “comfortable profit”. As I say, I’m already into “break even” for August, so If I can get work in for just 2 of the remaining weeks for August, I’m in more than “comfortable profit” and am considering a very short break away from it all. I usually have the August bank holiday week off anyway, and I’m getting a yearning for Dent.

I had a holiday in Dent about 4 years ago, at Easter, but the snow kept me confined to barracks as Mountain Rescue were pleading with walkers not to go out onto the hills unless they were very experienced, knew the area well, and were not alone. As I failed on all counts, I spent the week indoors until the roads cleared, and then I did some touristy stuff.

Last night I had a quick surf to see if the cottage I stayed in was still available, and it doesn’t look as though it is. However, I have found another that has a special offer for 3 nights at the end of August. I’m now working on the basis that if it’s meant to be the offer will still be available as soon as I have the funds to spare. It’s very cheap.

There are some lovely walks around Dent, plus there are some interesting characters (the terrible knitters of Dent for a start) and some nice little places to visit. A little holiday would be very nice, but I have to prioritise.

For the rest of this week, then, I have another commissioned article to write, this book to finish editing, some fillers to resubmit, the gig list to update for August, and a couple of books to write. I’ve also seen a major short story competition I’d like to have a pop at.

But I am feeling weary …

Dent
Dent

Tight month

I don’t really have much to report, mostly because I’ve spent vast quantities of the past 7 days in bed. I’ve done hardly any work because I just haven’t had the energy. I didn’t go to the Leeds write-in on Saturday, I’ve not been to any gigs, and I didn’t go to visit my parents – mostly because we don’t want them catching whatever I’ve had.

And I’m hoping it’s the past tense now.

The over-the-counter drugs have been working hard for about 5 days, including night time tablets to help me sleep (not sleeping tablets). But yesterday, when I surfaced the first time, I was so woozy I spent several seconds staring down at the doorstep wondering why the milkman hadn’t been … (he might be good, but he doesn’t deliver on a Sunday, unless snow has been forecast the following day, and then it’s Sunday evening rather than Sunday morning).

So last night I went without the night time drugs … and when I woke up at 10am this morning, I felt as though I’d slept the sleep of the dead. The animals were all shut in the bedroom with me and I have no idea if I’d ignored any of them wanting out, but as they were all fast asleep and snoring … perhaps they have me on when they do manage to wake me and don’t want out at all.

It means, of course, that now February – an already short month – is tighter than ever. I have a good month’s-worth of work in. I just need to plod through it steadily:

  • edit historical novel #1
  • edit historical novel #2
  • proof-read historical non-fiction #1
  • proof-read auto-biography
  • pitch paranormal feature #1
  • weekly walks report
  • finish and submit short story for fave story market
  • finish and submit filler/reader’s letter
  • write and submit RTE (reader’s true experience)
  • arrange interviews for non-fiction #1
  • write press release for Feb book publication
  • write 1,000 words a day …

We didn’t get much snow this time, by the way, despite it being forecast last week and this week. It did snow, but not enough to stick. It’s nice walking the dog when it’s snowing because nobody else does. (Bunch of big girls’ blouses!)

In other news, I am reading quite a lot, World Without End by Ken Follett (and watching it on telly), and I finally finished the polo-necked aran jumper I’ve been knitting for about three years. So that’s something.

However, I’d best get on …

Writing bag

Yesterday was another busy day.

Despite reminding myself, I still almost forgot to fetch the washing in, so it was quite damp and had to go on the clothes horse. Most of that will go away today now.

I sat down with my writing WIP notebook and planned out all of the various drafts and stages for all of my short material: outline; draft 1; #2; #3; edit & submit. Then I opened a page for JANUARY and listed all of the jobs I have to do (proof-reading, writing, editing) or have already done in January along with what they’re worth. There’s space for admin work, such as meetings or invoices, and another space for research for future stories and articles or research visits for events or places of interest or walks I may want to write about in the future.

Plotting it all out like this gives me a tickable list (and we all know how much I love those), and it sets it all out so I can see exactly where I am and how much more work I need to get in for January.

Thankfully I don’t need any more work for January. 😉

I managed more than 1,300 words altogether, over all projects, and I packed a writing bag.

This writing bag is a gorgeous red soft leather shoulder briefcase I bought for work a long time ago. I decided that it’s too extravagant to hide away in the bottom of a wardrobe. So now it has all of my current writing projects in:

  • Catch the Rainbow
  • We Also Served
  • fave market current guidelines and current story
  • current long short story (Ace of Wands)
  • daily freewriting exercises (A Writer’s Book of Days + notebook)

It also contains:

  • Devon’s 5 (Stories) in 10 (Weeks)
  • A5 desk diary day-to-a-page
  • A5 writing journal (day-to-a-page diary)
  • WIP notebook
  • 2 x WIP shorthand notebooks (1 for outlines; 1 for 1st drafts)
  • ideas notebook
  • A4 notebook (for 2nd drafts)
  • daily food and exercise trackers
  • pencil tin
  • 12″ wooden ruler
  • handypack of tissues
  • chapstick
  • Kindle

The bag’s quite packed and a little heavy, but it’s a shoulder bag so easy to carry around and it stays with me for pretty much all of the time. Yes, it even comes to bed with me (in case I wake in the night with something burning to be written). I’ve used a few bags in my time, but this is the only one I can fit everything in. I need another for the proof-reading and editing projects …

What would you keep in your writing bag?

Rufus woke me at 4:30am coughing (he was fine) and I gave up trying to go back to sleep at about 8am. So I got up, did my yoga, had breakfast, managed a couple of hours work … and went back to bed again … The joys of working from home.

Today I’ve checked the jobs boards, entered the daily competitions and put another washload through. It was far too cold to hang any out this morning. It’s bitter out there. So once the clothes horse has been emptied, I’ll be filling it again.

I have a proof-reading job I want to shift today, I still have some of my daily writing to do and there’s a dog to walk. And a bonus email arrived saying another proof-reading job was in the post.

Happy days. 🙂

Index cards

ace of wandsWho has used index cards when plotting/planning a book or story? I never have before, but I did find 4 packs of “brand new” (aka still in their cellophane) 6″ x 4″ index cards, 2 of plain white and 2 of assorted colours. (See how old they are? They’re not even metric.)

I’m starting the first of 3 x 4,000-word short stories for a 14-story anthology and the first is loosely based around the Ace of Wands. So I sat down with my Tarot deck, my Collins Little Gem of Zodiac, my old faithful Guinness Book of Names and my Tarot Bible.

And the first card I drew was … the Ace of Wands … What’re the odds?

I shuffled the cards and drew the first of 4 cards I wanted to base my characters against, and the first card out was … the Page of Wands.

I do a yes/no/maybe spread too and when I checked whether or not this was the next small project for me, I received 3 resounding YESES, one after the other, including my own personal favourite HELL, YES the Nine of Cups – the other two were majors, so quite strong, and they fell out of the pack, which is doubly strong …

I’m listening to my Tarot and doing this. After all, this is what the Ace of Wands is all about – follow your instinct and JUST DO IT! (And don’t panic, I am ensuring I’m not taking on too much as well, which is what the Ace of Wands also warns against.)

So yesterday, my writing 2 hours were spent planning this story and starting the characters. Theme and narrative are currently on white cards, characters are on yellow cards … but I haven’t decided how to use the green, pink or blue yet.

So, how do others use their index cards? Don’t forget I’m a longhand worker/writer so anything I can easily carry with me and still work on in a power cut (when batteries have died) or with no power is always a bonus. Please use the comments box for this one, thanks.

Please note: This version of the Ace of Wands is apparently from  the original deck and out of copyright. Later versions and amendments are copyright protected. If anyone knows how I can get permission to reproduce the cards, please let me know. If I’m contravening any copyright laws by reproducing this card, I’ll take it down immediately. But as I’d like to use them – or an artist’s impression of them – in future, I’d like to get permission. Please use the contact form for this one rather than the comments box. Thank you.

(Yes, the FBI have arrived in Baggins Bottom before as they treat this subject very seriously.)