Things can only get better

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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. 🙂

Heather on Langsett

Heather on Langsett. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Heather on Langsett. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The weekend was all about quiet, thinking and work. I was fairly occupied and wasn’t going to go out Saturday night, but when my friends asked me again to go with them, I decided I needed a break. It was nice to see them, and nice to get out.

On Monday I was very busy editing a book. I finished the manual edits and started the electronic edits, but by about 7pm I was ready to call it a day. I didn’t do much else as I wanted to crack on with this book.

Tuesday was spent down in Birmingham doing legal stuff with my family. However, when I got back there was a new job waiting for me from lovely already boss and I addressed a couple of work issues. But again I was done by about 7:30pm.

Today I have the electronic edits of that book to complete, some revisions to apply to a previous edit, that second edit to get into the post, the gig list to update and a dog to walk. I also bid for 13 jobs this morning, including one invitation to submit, and had been shortlisted for one, down to 2 from about 93 (first it was 9, then it was 5 …). Unfortunately I lost it to someone charging half as much as me. Lovely already boss has also asked me today how I’m fixed for more work.

I have plenty of work in now for at least the next 3 weeks with more promised. I need to get the invoices into the system, though, so that the money is coming in on a regular basis and I’m not swinging between feast and famine again. Time management is getting a lot of attention at the moment to ensure I keep a realistic diary and then stick to it. I’m turning work around a lot quicker and my time estimates are improving.

For the rest of this week I have another edit to start, preferably tomorrow morning. That will take me to Monday.

It’s nice being busy, it’s nice knowing I’m really earning a fair wage, and it’s nice to have a full diary. It’s horrible being broke, though, and I need to eradicate that word entirely from my vocabulary.

A few weeks before we went on holiday we went to Langsett Reservoir walking. This is one of the poet’s favourite shots of his own, if not his actual favourite. Enjoy.

Errands day

Walking near the Dales Way, just above Dent. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Walking near the Dales Way, just above Dent. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I always used to have an errands day. It was the day I went to the library to take books back or borrow any, the day I went to the bank, the day I dropped off work or picked work up, the day I nipped to the stationers. A proper errands day. I’ve not had one for ages and not a lot of non-work stuff has been done as a result. But today I had an errands day.

I’ve been to town twice, once to get cash out for the weekend and buy a few bits and bobs (such as malt extract for baking, and dull but essential things like slippers – only £6 from the market!), and once to get my radio re-coded in the car.

To save time, I knew I had to go back home and get a search party out for my log book, but I threw a request up on Facebook to see if any friends knew where my closest Citroen dealership was as they’d re-code the radio for free. By the time I reached home, 3 friends had replied with a selection of dealers and the phone number of one I called straight away.

Over the phone we established that yes they could do it, yes it would be free of charge, yes I had the chassis number, yes they could call up the code, and yes I would need my log book and at least one other form of identification. I then searched every tray, box and basket for my log book, which I knew had recently been replaced by a new format, so it would be in my post somewhere … I eventually found it, properly and safely filed where the old log book always was, and the defunct one already shredded. I should have gone to the proper place in the first place.

Then it was back to Perrys of Barnsley, who had my code waiting for me, and I was straight home again.

Bloomin’ marvellous.

And now I have music and other noise inside my car again. I’ve been without for the best part of a year, maybe more. The next non-work chore will be to burn some favourite music to CD so I have a selection without risking damaging the originals.

So that’s pretty much taken care of today.

This week I’ve also updated the gig list, negotiated new work, discussed and reviewed old work, visited my parents, and loads of other bitty jobs. Tonight I’m taxi-ing friends to a gig, tomorrow I’m taxi-ing for a charity boxing match, tomorrow evening I’m probably taxi-ing for another gig, and Sunday we’re having a doss day.

Today’s picture was taken during a walk in the rain on out last full day in Dent. That’s a map around my neck.

Have a great weekend.

Aren’t friends brill!

As many of you already know I’m really very quite busy, and I’m frantically trying to keep on top of work and on top of getting money in.

Yesterday morning I made a decision that if no money hit my account that day, I’d look for a proper job. This is because I’m starting to tire of chasing people for money. WHY do people hire your services and then fanny around not paying? I think it’s disgraceful, especially when it’s a large organisation that can afford to pay more than others. But even then, if they can’t afford to pay, they shouldn’t hire you. End of. It’s like going to a café, eating their food, and then saying: “Soz, can’t afford it after all – can you hang on a week or so until I get paid?” It’s bang out of order.

However, when I checked my bank account, a reasonable sum had indeed hit it and so I didn’t need to honour the pledge to myself. Phew! Thank goodness for that.

And so I cracked on with work and was doing quite well. I chucked one job back at a client, because it needed a helluva lot more work than what she’d initially suggested and I wasn’t prepared to haggle or do extra hours for the same pay. She agreed that it needed to go to a different contractor and I billed for time already spent.

Then I was in the midst of another job that’s already a bit later than I’d like, and BANG – I got the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. Eek! My only work yesterday, after throwing one job back, was on screen. And it was already later than I’d like.

So, after it let me in again, I threw a request up on Facebook asking friends to let me know what to do. I started by backing up all of my critical data, which was already going to take a long time, and then, luckily for me, friends did indeed answer my plea. Two tried to help me online, even though both were at work and one was very busy, and then another busy friend, the good old virtual office buddy, squeezed me in for a remote access jobby.

That then also took some time, and so did the scheduled ChkDsk function when the pc was rebooted. In fact, the ChkDsk took hours. He thinks what he did should fix it, but if not then he reckons it’s a memory issue. Fingers crossed it’s fixed.

But aren’t friends ace? I have some brilliant mates. 🙂

And so I lost a lot of time and am catching up today. I’m still doing the electronic edit – I need to shift that one ASAP – I’ve pitched for 18 jobs this week, I have an article I need to write that’s also later than I’d like (awaiting photographs from the subject), there’s the gig list to update today, and that job I threw back? It bounced straight back just as I was going to bed last night …

And I’ve given it some thought and decided that if she’s happy for me to bill for time worked on a weekly basis, then I’m happy to continue with the project. I usually work on fixed price jobs but, actually, I wouldn’t mind an hourly one.

Enjoy the picture below. It’s another one of mine from Saturday’s walk.

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Langsett Reservoir

A cup of tea made for me! Twice!

In my defence … I’ve been very busy. Again. I’m still very busy, but I’ve shifted a lot of work and now the battle for wages begins again. It’s a vicious circle – feast and famine … but this is my first post for August and it’s already the glorious 12th. I have been working solidly and I do have solid weeks of work in front of me. This is good.

I’ve edited a few books already this month and I’ve written a few articles. I’ve also booked a week off at the end of the month and a few days in Dent. This is all also very good.

Last week and the week before were both solid work. Last Monday I spent the day at my parents’ in Birmingham, and that, in turn, shortened the working week. I’ve done a lot of personal writing work, a lot of reading, and I started a brand new short story in a genre I usually avoid like the plague. I’d like to get back to that one as soon as I can so I can see how it pans out.

Over the weekend I had company. On Friday night we chilled and relaxed, and on Saturday morning I had a cup of tea made for me! 😮 I can’t remember the last time I had a cup of tea made for me. It was so novel, I let him make me another! And then we went out walking around Langsett Reservoir, thinking it would be a gentle 3 miles or so.

I’d forgotten there were a couple of hilly bits, but the weather was kind, we both did well, and Rufus was almost quite well-behaved – if we discount him chucking his water all over me, pinching one of the poet’s cheese and onion sandwiches, and then upsetting his water bowl again …

We saw tree creepers, coal tits, Canada geese, mallards, red grouse – did I mention  the glorious 12th? In only a couple more days (ie by today) part of the moors will be closed for the grouse-shooting. And “we” took lots of pictures – the one below is one of mine. I’ll share a few more over the next few posts.

By the time we got home we were quite shattered, all that fresh air and exercise no doubt. So we had another chilled evening and on Sunday we headed out for a shorter more gentle walk around a place called Newmillerdam, which is on the way to Wakefield. There are fewer pictures from there and I don’t have them on my laptop yet, but here we saw a heron fishing, a bedraggled robin, probably a youngster, more Canada geese, more ducks and a ruddy duck (with a blue beak – pic is in the West Midlands bird club picture gallery).

When we got back from that walk we had a rest and then we did some baking. “I” made some pastry, and then “we” made a quiche lorraine and some cheese muffins. It was fun having someone to cook with.

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A walk around Langsett Reservoir

After tea, it was time to get my house back. I’ve always been very territorial about this particular house, probably because it was my escape house. But I have enjoyed having the company and can’t wait to have another cup of tea made for me for him to stay again.

Two days of walking and an hour of standing and baking have left my hips, buttocks and glutes in bits, but it’s been a fun and relaxing weekend, and it made a change not having to dash anywhere.

Today I have to crack on. I’m editing a book and a standalone chapter and I have 2 articles to write.

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

Flu packs bags

blog thumbnail Following a second drug-free night, although granted another unscheduled lie-in, I’m finally starting to feel better. I can breathe. I’m not drowning. And the fog has left the cavity between my ears. Here’s hoping the flu is packing its bags and will soon be gone.

Yesterday turned into quite the admin day, a steady plod getting me back into the swing of work. I didn’t clear any jobs, but I re-set the body clock (nearly) and made several inroads.

Today I want to edit a manuscript and get it sent back to the author so he can see my suggested changes.

I’ve already done this week’s walks report and filed it, with 6 newspapers. I’m not seeing these papers but other members of the group are and we’re apparently getting some good coverage with quite a few walkers turning up after reading about us. Listing the walks for the next 2 weeks has reminded me that it’s Moonraker Festival time at Slaithwaite and we have a walk on the 23rd. It’s a 6-mile walk but an easy one, and the dog can come with me. I’m fancying joining that one …

I also have an appointment in town today at 2:30pm, which will cut the day in half but at least I’ll have some fresh air.

On the way home I want to get some lemon juice so I can have a go at pancakes this evening. I forgot to get the lemon juice when I surfaced at the weekend and went to do shopping. I’m not very good at pancakes, I have to concentrate really hard, do everything by the book, then close my eyes and cross my fingers. I love pancakes with sugar and lemon and would eat them all year round if I had the knack.

The dog will also need a walk at some point and I’d like to make a dent in the next job.

Happy Pancake Day. 🙂