Lovely cuckoo “watch”

ATT_1427703943756_20150330_092031Well, it was only a couple of weeks in the end. But here I am, back again. Did you miss me?

I’ve been very busy getting used to the new work schedule. Adding a slot in the morning and again in the late afternoon for “housework” has been a huge help. Now I do things like put washing through, unload the dishwasher, put clothes or crocks away, etc, only during those slots and ignore the chores for the rest of the day. And it means I’ve been doing a lot more work in between.

I’m not convinced about the slow cooker we’ve just started to use, as I thought they were initially designed to save time. However, looking through the instruction manual, it does say the crock pot needs switching on for 20 minutes before adding any food, which suggests you have to do all the food prep before going to (or starting) work. This would be no use to us whatsoever as the mornings are already very full getting the poet up and off to work, feeding us all, and doing the chores already scheduled.

Yesterday, however, we gave it a go but prepared the ingredients and left them in the pot overnight. I’m worried this will amount to a marinade and might take some of the other taste away. It’s switched on now, though, with an extra half an hour to compensate for no pre-heating and we’ll find out at teatime if it’s workable that way or not. If not, it’s going on ebay …

Hints and tips gratefully received. 🙂

The other thing I’ve been doing is preparing 2 new books for publication. One is TALES FROM BAGGINS BOTTOM BEST BITS BOOK TWO, which is due out on Wednesday … and still needs work for the Smashwords version to be accepted; the other is TWEE TALES TOO. Yes, I’ve finally collated enough material for a second volume of short stories. This one is due out on 1 May while we’ll actually, ahem, be otherwise engaged. I still have work to do on both, but the Kindle version of BBBBB2 is okay. The paperback may follow a week or so later.


As you can see I’ve started to put book titles in capital letters. This is mostly because if I copy and paste any of the blog into another Baggins Bottom book it should save me a lot of time reformatting for Smashwords. It really doesn’t like too many bold or italic fonts.

I’ve also been working on my own fiction. There are a few short stories out there now, doing the rounds, earning their keep, and I’ve settled down to more work on CATCH THE RAINBOW and THE BEAST WITHIN, and made notes for THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME – a new Marcie Craig. Today I’m starting my GARDENING FROM SCRATCH diary too. At the weekend we bought 3 lovely new exercise books as I like to start work in those.

While I’ve been missing, I’ve registered on 2 new job boards too, and revived one I let go a few years ago. That means I now surf 4 job boards at least twice a week, but also have quite a few invitations to respond to in between.

I’ve cleared 2 jobs for lovely already client and sent those back to him, and I’m about to finish a 3rd before starting a 4th. So I’ve not really been idle. What have you been up to?

20150330_095959The poet spent his last few days over in Germany last week, we hope, and when he came home, via Switzerland, he was clutching this rather splendid cuckoo clock – or, as his German friends call it, a cuckoo “watch”.

Here he is saying hello. Do you like him? 🙂


And the winner is …

nightcrawler largeprintSusie Kearley! 🙂

Susie, I’ll send you a message via Twitter or FB so you can send me your snail mail address. Thanks to those of you who entered the book giveaway.

The blog will be back to normal very soon, I’m just taking a bit of a breather while I decide what people actually want to see.

The large print edition of Night Crawler (the current giveaway) has probably run out now, so I’m going to check the details and then re-publish on Lulu another large print version of my own. I’m changing my name in May, though, and re-branding myself at the same time, so all of the books may be re-released, with new covers. “Previously published as …” will appear very clearly on the cover and in the blurb. I’d hate people to think they’ve had to pay for something they’ve already paid for.

I’m working on Catch the Rainbow still, and hope this will be ready soon. This is a prequel to Night Crawler, and then I’ll finish The Beast Within, which is a sequel. Then Marcie (and predecessors) will have a little rest while I write the prequel to Catch the Rainbow, which is going to be called Hattie’s Hotshots. I’m a great believer in paying attention to “signs”, and as one appeared on the telly last night that’s perfect for Hattie, I’ve decided that’s next on the list. The third Marcie-specific story will be Snowblind, so I’ll also have that one percolating in the background.

I’m also working on Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book Two, and collating Diary of a Scaredy Cat into a-year-in-the-life-of-a-writer-type thing. And as I work through various short stories and get them in circulation, I’ll also be collating the rest of Twee Tales Too.

So please don’t think I’m being idle. I’m just taking a breather, taking stock.

If you get chance, do let me know what you’d like to see on the blog. I know some of you have said to keep it as it is, but I’d love to hear from those who haven’t said anything too. And if that means more competitions and giveaways and less pictures and personal news, that’s fine. Thanks in anticipation for your time. 🙂

Crazy weekend


This is one of my favourite pictures of Tinker and Holly. I often wonder where Tinker went that day she walked away and never come back. But I have my suspicions. I stumbled across this picture this morning and decided to share it for those who remember when she disappeared. She was a lovely cat.

We had a terrific weekend, crazy but lovely.

On Friday we had a fantastic gig in Doncaster. The band played really well and there was a great atmosphere. It was a very late night, though, as they didn’t finish packing down until 2am. But it was a goodun.

On Saturday I made it to the Leeds write-in to join in with this November’s NaNoWriMo. I met a few new people and it was nice to see some old faces. And I got a few words written too. While I was NaNo-ing, the poet and Rufus were having a wonderful time walking and watching telly and chomping chews … the latter being the dog rather than the man … Saturday evening we were visiting and shopping, and finally arrived home at 9pm.

I went to Leeds on the train from a different railway station. The ticket is cheaper, by about £2, and the journey is slightly slower, with just one train an hour, but the station is closer to the house and I was able to cadge a lift. When we got there we were surprised to see the once-vacant and derelict railway buildings back in use. I did a bit of research and discovered that a café has been allowed to lease the buildings and I thought that was a great idea. All unmanned stations should consider doing that.

On Sunday, the poet went fishing – and came third, well done, sweetheart 🙂  – and I had a really lazy day catching up on sleep (I did quite a lot of overtime last week) and recorded television. Then on Sunday evening we went out to see a new band for both of us, but made it home again by 9pm.

Today I’ve started the week afresh and tried to do everything scheduled in the diary. On Friday I started to surf the job boards again, rewrote my blurb and pitched for 14 jobs. Today I pitched for a further 6 jobs, and I’ve already written the walks report, which was lagging behind due to me being without computer or internet.

I have 2 books to edit, both non-fictions, and I’m in correspondence with the author of the historical fiction I filed last week.

I have a full working week this week so intend to get a lot shifted. I’d best get on …

Things can only get better

calke park aug 10 008
Deer at Calke Abbey park, August 2008. (Picture: Diane Parkin)

After the week I had last week, things really could only get better. And, so far, they do seem to have done just that.

I did think it would be quite simple once I’d restored factory settings to the pc and then uploaded my critical data again. But I’ve also had to install all of my programs again plus printer drivers (and other so-called plug-in-and-play hardware), and, as it happened, both internet browsers. And then my webmail wouldn’t let me in on the pc, though it would let me in on the mobile phone, so I had to sort that as well.

BUT … it’s all done now and everything seems to be running properly and quickly again – touch wood.

I’m still incredibly busy. I’ve had to catch up on all the online and electronic work I couldn’t do, and some of it I had to do again as the latest versions had simply got lost. But I have good support now, i.e. someone to cook tea and see to the animals if I’m working, so I’m getting there.

This week, then, so far, I’ve delivered 2 books, either in their entirety or bits I still had to do. The fiction is with the author, to answer questions and check copy; the non-fiction has been picked up by the client for the last few little bits, but I will see the final pdf for signing off.

I have another non-fiction I need to submit once I’ve done the author amendments and two more that I’ve already started.

I’ve also updated the gig list this week, but I’ve not been on the job boards and I’ve only managed a couple of days on NaNoWriMo. This will change today, though, as I really, really am itching to do some writing, and I’m definitely off to the NaNo write-in in Leeds on Saturday. We also have a gig on Friday night and possible visiting and walking to do over the weekend if we can fit it in.

I don’t think I’ll be on here again before the weekend, so have a good one, and hopefully all will be back on track by next Monday.

Today’s picture was taken a few years ago when I visited Calke Abbey. I think we need to go again and take the dog this time. 🙂

Now taking bookings for November …

The lodge at Nostell Priory. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
The lodge at Nostell Priory. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’ve had a busy few weeks but everything now seems to be sorting itself out. I’ve been full for the rest of October for some time but I wanted to make sure that everything was running smoothly. As it is, I’m now taking editing and proofreading bookings for November.

We had another great weekend of doing just weekend stuff, but it included a really good gig Saturday night at a venue that bodes well for a fantastic New Year’s Eve …

See, now, in the past 7 or 8 years I’ve hardly ever done anything for New Year’s Eve, and not really for a lot of years before that. But now I’m already booked, and have been for several weeks. And I’m looking forward to it. I’m usually sat there watching the telly waiting for someone to fetch me a lump of coal.

I’m even contemplating the festive baking schedule starting in November. This is something else I’ve not done in a long time. A very long time. Or I’ve thought about it and that’s all. This year I intend to do something about it.

Anyway, I digress.

The work is coming in thick and fast and this week I have 3 jobs to finish and invoice  (hurrah!). There’s one non-fiction to do the electronic edits on and send back to the author and off to the typesetter. There’s a new fiction to edit from scratch, send the edits back to the author and upload the book to the server. And then there’s another non-fiction to start and finish editing.

In between I also have the walks report to write (today), the blog (3 times this week), the gig list (on Wednesday), the job board to surf (daily), the diary to update (on Thursday), and invoices to raise (hurrah! – on Friday).

Thankfully I have a 5-day week and I may work on Saturday. It’s a Do Diddle Day, but that means I can do what I please and if working (and earning money) pleases me, I’ll do it. I may also do my NaNoWriMo planning, or I may do just that instead. I worked Saturday just gone and it really made a difference.

So that’s me sorted for the week. What are you doing?

I worked out part of what was causing the neck ache  working at the laptop … I’ve been sat on a cushion that’s raised me quite a lot higher than the laptop (on its riser). I’ve taken the cushion away, but as I may use it again I’ve raised the riser itself up on a pile of 3 books. Let’s see if that works.

Today’s picture is an arty shot taken at Nostell Priory near Wakefield.

Oh, and while I think about it, here’s my LinkedIn link – I finally found it.

Heron at Newmillerdam

Heron at Newmillerdam. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Heron at Newmillerdam. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I may have to do some overtime …

Wow, now there’s something I didn’t think I’d see just 2 weeks ago.  But yes, the hard work has paid off and my diary is now officially full. For at least 3 weeks again.

I need to start shifting the work now and get the invoices raised.

Thursday of this week was a wipe-out as we had another appointment in Birmingham with my parents. So I may try and sneak some work in tomorrow – and that’s something else I didn’t think I’d be doing any time soon. Working at the weekend again.

I now have a fiction in to edit, 3 non-fictions (with plenty more on the way), and a commissioned article to write. I also need to build in the job hunting to my daily schedule plus the other admin stuff like invoices, filing, shredding, decluttering, diary work, blogging, the walks report and the gig list.

In November I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo with The Beast Within (the second Marcie Craig mystery). I also want to prepare a marketing pack so I can start approaching firms for corporate work.

Who else is doing NaNo this year?

Today it’s invoices, the blog, job hunting and one of the non-fictions. Tomorrow it may be the same non-fiction or the fiction.

Don’t forget to hop along to have a look at me on LinkedIn. You need to click the button in the side bar as I can’t post a link at the moment.

Today’s picture was taken on a recent walk around a place called Newmillerdam near Wakefield, and was taken by the poet when we happened across a heron fishing – that’s the heron that was fishing, not us …

Nothing much planned for the weekend, other than just one gig on Saturday. But we shall see. Whatever you’re up to, have a goodun.

Grammar Nazi At Work

Bassenthwaite, where thar be osprey (can you see them?). (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Bassenthwaite, where thar be osprey (can you see them?). (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Yes, I’m a bit of a grammar nazi. But I try not to bandy it about too much as not everyone is as bothered as I am about quality, standard or consistency – or just plain being correct. So with emails, texts and social media, I tend to just ignore mistakes, typos and general bone idleness.

However, when it’s a writing organisation or a writing competition, I’m slightly torn. I’m annoyed too when it’s promotional literature that a client has paid for – surely if they’re paying a professional rate, they should get a professional job. Or maybe I’m just old-fashioned like that.

For example, if I see a poster on, say, Facebook, that has anything to do with a campaign or something else I have a lot of interest in, I tend to share it with everyone on my list. But if that poster has any grammatical errors on, I just like it and move on.

When it’s a writing organisation or a writing competition, I really do want to share it … but if there are grammatical or spelling errors … I tell them.

This happened this morning on FB, and I won’t name the organisation as they fixed it as soon as I sent them a private, friendly (I hope) message. Within minutes there was a new poster available that I felt more able to share.

So, today’s question is this: Would you tell them or would you let it go?

Navel gazing
I’ve had a bit of a navel-gazing week. I wasn’t very well on Monday still, following our little flu epidemic last week, and yesterday I just couldn’t get on with much work beyond mechanical-type stuff. I didn’t know what the problem was until I received a phone call from one of my lovely bosses, as I had plenty of work in. But the problem turned out to be, I didn’t want to do it (for various reasons I won’t go into here); I wanted to work for lovely boss.

So we had a chat and he does have plenty of work for me, and this has given me light at the end of the tunnel, if you like. Now that I know I don’t just have this work in I really don’t want to do, but I have more, more enjoyable work on the horizon, I was able to find my mojo again.

Writing bag
I started by upgrading my writing bag to one I can fit the editing/proofreading folder in as well.

I’ve added my Teeline Shorthand for Journalists course to the bag and intend to work on this for at least an hour a day.

The current novel is in the bag – The Beast Within: A Marcie Craig Mystery.

My Kindle is in there, with a few reference books for writing I have open, a collection of stories from Arthur Conan Doyle, and a novel.

I have a journalism workbook in there too, and all of the current short writing work in progress, plus all of my various notepads and a pencil tin.

Current WiP
Today I’m editing a book and tweaking another. I’ve already updated the gig list for the week. Tomorrow I’m in Birmingham to see to a few things with my parents.

Today’s picture
While we were on holiday in Dentdale, we also ventured over to the Lake District. There are osprey at Bassenthwaite, and from the RSPB viewing platform up on the hillside we had a very good view of the adult male and the two juveniles – one male, one female. The adult female had already migrated about a week or so before we arrived.

In today’s picture, taken by the poet, you can see the lake and a bar of sand where the juveniles’ favourite perch is. We also watched the male juvenile have a go at a spot of fishing.

While there we also saw a jay, some finches and a beautiful red squirrel. I’ve never seen a red squirrel before, so that was a special treat for me.

Enjoy the view. 🙂

UK call centres (mini rant alert)

So, after spending the best part of a week arguing the toss with a government department and finally getting a result on Wednesday, Thursday saw me hurtling into a similar ding dong with my telephone and internet provider. I really am at the end of my patience, though – what little of it there is – and once I realised I was speaking to another ignoramus  I hung up.

Today I received my customer satisfaction questionnaire … oh, did I enjoy filling that one in this week. Every reply was 1 (totally dissatisfied) and my reason was the script-reading buffoon at the other end.

And so I have made a momentous decision. When my telecom contract comes to an end (end of January), I’m moving to a company that employs British staff on British soil for British customers.

Really, I’m all for helping employment in other countries, but not when they’re total rubbish and less when we have such huge unemployment in our own country. We should get our own house in order before aiding other countries, and, despite being quite the socialist, this is the way I’ll be leaning in future.

I’m sick to death of dealing with incompetents.

My patience is also worn thin because I’ve been struggling with the formatting of a novel I’ve been editing. I’ve already done it once, but it wasn’t translating well to the FTP server thingy, so I’ve had to look at it again and I can’t see what the author has done. I should have saved a version in .rtf, but then I would have had to do a lot more basic formatting too, and they don’t pay me enough for that as well.

Today will mostly be that editing/formatting job. I’ve pitched for another 10 jobs since Wednesday and I’ve done my diary for next week. I still need to get 2 writing pitches out, so I’ll be working for some of this weekend.

I’m off to Harrogate tomorrow with a couple of friends for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival. We had a corking day last year, and the weather looks set to be hot, hot, hot again.

Tomorrow evening I take friends to a gig so they can talk to the band about something.

It might be too warm to drive the dog down to Birmingham (no air-conditioning in the car), so Sunday will probably be a writing day instead. I need to shift some work.

I have lots of writing work to do. I have the novel to be cracking on with, I have those 2 new pitches I need to get out, and I need to get the freelance writing WiP moving again. I have a daily allocation for freelance writing in my diary now and I really should use it. I also have interviews to transcribe for the non-fiction book.

I have a new editing job to start too with, hopefully, another on the way – we thrashed out the details yesterday evening and now I’m just awaiting confirmation.

And I have my tax return to schedule in and an additional application form to complete.

Looks like we’re set for another nice weekend. The rain-dance isn’t working. I’ll have to switch to just talking to the Universe. But y’all enjoy it. 🙂

Pesky car

It’s been another busy week, we’re still only halfway through (the working week), and there’s still loads to to.

I’ve been doing the electronic edits on the historical novel I finished the manual edit for last week, I’ve been writing and planning The Beast Within, and I’ve had more drama with the car and the dog.

Yesterday my day was broken in half by an appointment and I didn’t finish work until about 6:30pm. The dog hadn’t been walked and I needed to get petrol, so I headed out to kill two birds …

… I didn’t make it out of the village. My car cut out again, but fortunately I’d gone far enough to be able to call the AA. They got to me at about 7:30pm but, thankfully, were able to perform a roadside rescue this time and get me back on my way.

Phew! I thought it was going to be another expensive job, but it was something he was able to fix and the fix should hold for several weeks – two fixes, actually. One was an accident trip switch that had become dislodged, bounced against something in the engine, and cut the power. At least we now know it’s there and that it works …

The most traumatic part was when Rufus, who I’d taken out of the car because it was still too warm to leave him in there, escaped from my clutches and dashed across the main road after another dog, right into the path of an oncoming Transit van. Fortunately the van driver had time to gauge whether or not it was safe to slam his brakes on, and he slammed his brakes on.

I was upset, the van driver was upset, a young lad from the village who was keeping me company was upset, and the couple whose dog Rufus had dashed across the road for were upset. I was talking to someone on the phone at the time, screamed down his earhole and dropped the phone – so he was upset as well. Rufus was laffing his head off!

And he really is in my very bad books now. He’s old enough to be doing as he’s told and not dashing across main roads, so I’m being particularly strict with him at the moment because he really, really should be behaving himself by now.

But I have a problem in that when I’m trying to discipline my dog, onlookers start to fuss him, making “ahhhh” noises and saying he’s not doing anything wrong, when clearly he is. This is undermining my discipline of the dog and not helping at all, and it does make me quite cross. I’d understand it if I was taking a big stick to him, but I’m just telling him off (he knows “bad boy” and he knows “naughty!”). Please let me discipline my dog!

Afterwards I went and got my petrol, but he didn’t get a walk. Instead I bought a KFC for my (very late) tea and treated myself to an ice cream as well – they gave me a fork to eat it with …

Today I had another meeting that cut my day in half, and I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. But it turned out to be very useful as I appear to be entitled to working tax credits, so as soon as I got home I set the ball rolling for that too.

On the way home I dropped in to see my car mechanic to make sure that the fixes the AA man did will hold until I’m due in next. They know my car there and assured me it would be fine, but I do need to take it back at the end of August.

I’ve done the gig list but I still have to take the dog for a walk. It’s cooler today and I’ll take him shortly. Tonight we’re off to see a friend of mine talk about her latest book.

Tomorrow I may get around to doing some work again …