A woodpecker on his nuts

So we seem to be finally settling, despite having a busy weekend and me having a shocking cold that almost completely debilitated me Friday/Saturday. It seems as though the poet may be getting this now – we do like to share so many things …

Friday was busy because he had a gig over in Doncaster and it took us 40 minutes to get there. Friday night gigs don’t give him much time to get ready when he’s been at work. Driving home in the early hours we saw our first hard frost of the winter and half-expected snow over the weekend.

On Saturday he cleaned windows and we went shopping – household and DIY shopping. We also had our first pair of woodpeckers in the garden, following a nuthatch the day before. The poet was quite chuffed, saying he’d never had a woodpecker on his nuts before … or, for that matter, a nuthatch. I, of course, have had both. 🙂 On Saturday night he had another gig, this time over towards Pontefract. That took us 40 minutes to get to too.

On Sunday he put up shelves (having first adapted them to fit the space) and 2 guitar brackets, Hoovered the stairs, baked bread, and slow-cooked us a lovely lamb dinner – he even made the mint sauce himself. I either worked on a book or put things on shelves and emptied more boxes. Here is how those shelves in the office are starting to look (I’ll share pictures of the studio when he’s more settled up there):

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Both Rufus and Domino are in this picture …

The bread he baked was our first ever sour dough bread, and we weren’t sure what to eat with it or on it. We tasted it warm and dripping with butter and I, personally, think that’s fine. But he’s made sandwiches with it too, and he says that’s fine as well.

We spent some time at the living room window, watching the birds on the table, and looking for the woodpeckers again, when a pheasant bobbed over the fence and came to see what we were feeding everyone. This was a first for both of us. Apparently pheasants like nuts but they need to be ground so they don’t choke on them (thank you, Susan).

Both days we intended on going for our first walk in the area, but I wasn’t really up to it on Saturday, and we ran out of daylight and clement weather on Sunday – and yes, we did see flurries of snow. That wasn’t what put us off, it was the squally showers in between the flurries that we didn’t want to be out in.

During Sunday I was editing one of my big projects in between putting things on shelves and helping where I wouldn’t be a hindrance. I still have that book to finish then I have another that’s due back on Friday. I also have 2 books in now that need checking. I have most of my work stuff around me now and hope to get into a routine again this week.

Keep everything crossed.

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 …

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.

Join in

blog thumbnailIt’s been another week of proof-reading, proof-reading, proof-reading. I’ve been so busy catching up that every day I’ve run out of time before being able to log onto the laptop. I’ve not been over the doorstep, other than to walk the dog to either the letterbox or the Co-op. The car still has a pile of snow on it and at some point I need to fire it up to see if it, well, fires up.

Much of my Facebook stuff has been FB admin, anything else has mostly been sharing of other people’s funnies, and all of it via the mobile phone. I even had a whole day away from there, just logging in once or twice to reply to people who had bothered to leave a comment for me. That was actually quite liberating.

Yesterday was an interesting day when I hoped to get online and catch up with some work, but my nuisance neighbour is obviously bored and has been troublesome again. So the morning was spent talking to the police and the afternoon spent talking to my solicitor (twice) and to the local council (several different bounces, but all were trying to help, we just didn’t know the correct department).

In between, I also got embroiled in some local discussions about our council granting planning permission to incoming larger organisations on our greenbelt land – when we have so many brown-field sites and disused properties already lying vacant … I collated my responses and will probably look at converting them into reader’s letters, fillers or possibly an investigative journalistic piece, or 2. I’ve obviously hit a nerve as several of my comments have been amalgamated to promote the discussion … and the discussion has escalated with probably 98% agreeing with me. This is why I feel I should do something with the material.

Today, then, I finally got onto the computer, and did so as soon as I got up to make sure that I did. And I’ve been catching up with the job boards, applying for 7, receiving a query almost instantly on one that I hope I gave the right answer to. I have some proof-reading work to do and some editing, but as the end of the month approaches (already!) I need to be thinking in advance.

I also need to do some publicity work for the large print version of Night Crawler, as that’s published next Friday. I’ll be contacting the local media here and back in Birmingham.

There was some amusing blog spam awaiting me when I reached here finally, and I pasted it onto my Facebook … only I can do that and end up with a Yoda-speaking competition in the replies … 😉

I’ve been added to a new online writers’ group to compliment an actual writing group, and for the first time since I got up here, I have a real live writers’ group to attend on Saturdays in Leeds. I’ve only been here 9 years …

NINE years?! Yes, in February 2004 I moved up from Solihull, and in January 2006 I moved into my current house. Seven years ago. It’s frightening how time flies.

Tomorrow is the third group meeting. I made it to the first, passed on the second, and tomorrow is a Do Diddle Day. This means I don’t plan anything but see what I feel like when I get up. I shall probably feel like walking the dog, nipping to Leeds and then doing my shopping on the way home as, weather permitting (and we’ve had more snow forecast …), I’m visiting my parents on Sunday. The rail fare to Leeds is quite high, so I can’t see me attending every single week, but I will try to make it once a fortnight.

So, do join in. Greenbelt vs brown-field? What are your thoughts regarding development and the economy?

Have a great weekend.

Where’d the week go?

Bblog thumbnaillimey, what happened to the week?

Well, for a start, I got my head right down and cleared some work. I worked solidly until about 7pm last night, actually, proof-reading, proof-reading, proof-reading. And I still have some to do. But there’s only so many different ways I can think of saying “proof-read another book today …”, and as that’s pretty much all I did, well, I think you get my point.

The dog also got walked, I also went to town, I also did shopping.

And the big news of the week?

Nope, wasn’t snow, although we did get quite a bit of that all over the country. No, on Friday morning, in the midst of all of that proof-reading, my lovely, lovely postie brought me 4 copies of my new large print book, Night Crawler.

To say I was over the moon is the understatement of the year. I’ve had loads of things published with my name on over the years, including books. But this is the first time ever that someone else has loved my book enough to publish it for me.

It took me 16 years to sell that book and when my box of comp copies finally arrived, I could have wept.

For a sneak preview, bob along to my buy my books page and follow the link – it’s the first one there. It’s not available until 1 February, though, and it’s very expensive – as it’s the large print version – but I’ve already found a copy for sale with 25% discount here at the Book Depository, where they’re taking pre-orders. As this is the libraries version, though, it would just be better for everyone to just borrow a copy of it along with all of their other library books, like every week (nobody has to read it and it doesn’t cost anything), and then next January I might just get my first ever plr.

In other news, we did, as I say, indeed get snow. It was forecast to hit the country Friday morning but it arrived in Baggins Bottom on Thursday, just to be awkward. By Friday morning it had already started to melt. It carried on coming, however, and it carried on sticking, and so I wimped out and stayed indoors this weekend. It’s thawing again now, but we still have some forecast for later today and again tomorrow.

Normal service should resume tomorrow. Meanwhile, back to proof-reading …

I remembered …

blog thumbnailFirst of all, for the time being I’m including a thumbnail of the blog on every post that doesn’t have another pic because the links are putting up thumbnails of me instead when there isn’t another pic. Please indulge me in this, as I hate to see my mug everywhere. Thank you! 🙂

Secondly, I remembered what I’d been up to yesterday.

I baked a loaf. Granted, it was in the bread machine as I had other stuff to do, but first job yesterday was to chuck in all the ingredients and send it on its merry way. I also put a few washloads through, hung some on the clothes horse and put some though the dryer.

There were several phone calls, personal and business, and quite a few business emails to deal with. I caught up on a few days’ worth of writing and was invited to bid on a ghostwriting job that I quite fancy. It’s only a little job, but there are several of them. And I wrote the first walks report of the new year, remembering to attach a photograph and the latest walks programme. This goes out to 6 local newspapers and over Christmas we had quite a few spreads and the photograph I sent then was used too.

I also watched the snow fall, while we had it. I sat working in the living room with the kitchen door open where I could see the back window and the front window. It was lovely. But it soon stopped and what we had melted quickly.

Today I was up on time – probably for the first time this year – and it’s been snowing ever since. Nothing to write home about, but still lovely to watch all the same … and quite distracting. I have to move to where I can’t see a window without straining my neck if I want to finish any work today.

I’ve had a quick shufty at the job boards, but nothing much grabs me by the throat today. And I’ve responded to a further information request for the job I was invited to bid on yesterday. She wondered if I had any samples so I sent her one that I hope was pertinent.

I’m off out at about 2pm for a 2:30pm appointment, so I want to get as much as I can done before then, including possibly the dog walk. He’s so much better when I leave him at home if he’s already had his walk, and with this snow I don’t know how long it’ll take me to get back again.

When I do get home, I have more proof-reading to do.