So I ordered new pictures …

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Taken at RSPB Old Moor (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

… and I got new pictures. And they say that Cosmic Ordering doesn’t work. 🙂

We had a lovely weekend. On Friday night we had a date night at the pictures. We ate out too at one of our favourite places, Pizza Express, and then bought chocolate, pop and popcorn and sat in front of JURASSIC WORLD for a couple of hours.

We both like JURASSIC PARK and the new one is very much Jurassic Park, and nods back at the originals more than once. And we were still on our way home at 9:30pm, which is actually quite good anyway as they’ve been springing a closed motorway overnight on us for the past month or so.

On Saturday we went to see the poet’s parents, and we bought a few fresh things on the way home as we were having another barbecue. At about 6pm we dawdled down to our local recreation park for a “rock on the rec” festival, but we were a little bit disappointed. It was an evening festival and there were just too many children there, and they were being allowed to kick their footballs and throw their frisbees regardless of whether they hit anyone or not, and with no apologies either.

We don’t mind kids being at festivals at all, but not when the kids outnumber the adults, and not when the adults aren’t able to control the very unruly ones. And when the lead singer of unknown-band-number-two said “Good evening Glastonbury”, we came home. I’m sorry, but it wasn’t even funny, let alone funny enough. (Bah, humbug!)

On Sunday we headed off to the RSPB centre at Old Moor in Barnsley. This is a very old favourite of mine and is fast becoming a favourite of the poet’s too. We went because (a) we haven’t been for a while, (b) I wanted new pictures for the blog, and (c) because there’s been a little bittern there all week and the centre had extended its opening hours so that people could come and see it.

We didn’t see the little bittern or, in fact, the regular bittern. But we did see a little egret and an American wigeon, both of which are also quite rare. We also saw dragon- and damsel-flies. so watch out for another brilliant picture later in the week.

Incidentally, for those following the Cosmic ordering … Holly has worked out how to come IN through the cat flap now, and another potential client contacted me over the weekend with possible new big work.

This week has suddenly changed, mostly because I realised at about 10pm last night that the MOT on my car ran out in May. I’ve never, ever forgotten to MOT my car before, in all the years I’ve owned one. But the garage has said they can do it this Friday, when I was supposed to be at the dentist.

As the poet isn’t around on Friday to be my chauffeur, we’re going to have to drop it in Thursday evening and collect it Friday night (said she, hopefully). But the dental appointment has been moved along a fortnight – I couldn’t move it to next Friday as we already have something else planned.

Of course, this gives me an extra hour or so of work-time on Friday, which is good. And for those who get withdrawal symptoms, here’s my to-do list for this week:

  • twice-daily housework chores
  • gig list admin x 2
  • daily competitions
  • blog x 3
  • writing work @ 2 hours daily
  • edit book @ 2 hours x 4-daily
  • job boards x 2 hours + any ad hoc
  • 1 hour study work x 2
  • diary work
  • take car for MOT
  • invoices, admin, pc maintenance

What’s in your WiP this week?

The current WIP …

current wipForgive me if I seem a little … absent just now. I’ve been a tad busy and still it continues – thankfully.

The picture on the left shows the current WIP. The bottle of Tipp-Ex is for perspective.

There are 6 different books here. Three are for editing; three are author or proofreader revisions. On top of this I also have 2 more books in an online format. Both are author revisions.

That’s 8 books. Eight, full-length books. And lovely-already-boss has more to send.

I’m not complaining, I’m really not. And definitely, the more the merrier. Bring it on. I just wanted people to see why I might be a little … missing.

I love my job. 😀

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.

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. 🙂

Another week hurtles by

Where does the time go? I knew I’d run out of time before posting last Wednesday, but to miss Friday as well …

I’ve been very busy, in my defence. Which is Very Good. But also Very Rude.

So where did my week go?

Monday – I was here. Blogging about the weekend. I also wrote and submitted the weekly walks report for 6 local newspapers and started to edit the next historical fiction. I pitched for 10 jobs and formally applied for another.

Tuesday – was mostly the historical fiction, but I also had an appointment in town and I heard from a weekly red top magazine that they wanted to buy one of my fillers. I pitched for 4 jobs.

Wednesday –  I was still editing, and I updated the gig list. I also had a friend over Wednesday evening and together we brainstormed our current writing WiPs.

Thursday – that editing job went on a lot longer than I thought it would, but I finished the manual edits on Thursday … at 11:30pm … I also filled in a massive form I’d been sent and my hair appointment from Friday was brought forward.

Friday – I received proofreader’s and author’s corrections back for a previous project and so spent the day applying as many of those as time dictated. Corrections and amendments are one thing, but rewriting is something else not usually covered at proofreading stage. I pitched for just one job (invited) and worked until about 8:30pm.

On Saturday I went to the CampNaNo write-in in Leeds and had a good couple of hours planning the book and writing the opening paragraphs. I bust my NaNo duck and wrote the grand total of 629 words. I supervised a couple of 10-minute writing sprints (or word wars as the campers call it). On the evening I went out with friends to a gig to help them celebrate a birthday.

On Sunday it was red hot outside. I had an idle lie-in and was going to take the dog out, but it was toooo hot. I only pegged some washing out and had to lie down on the settee to recover. So I spent the afternoon idly watching tennis (we won, just in case you didn’t know), playing mindless games on FB, and generally chilling and relaxing out of the sun. Then we took the dog out at about 7:30pm beside some water and spent a thoroughly pleasant hour feeding ducks, looking for fish, and strolling and chatting.

Today I spent the whole morning on CampNaNo and have added 1,105 words. Not a lot for a morning’s work, but in between I was hanging washing out again, updating the nice neighbours on nuisance neighbour, reading and planning. But it’s 1,105 words more than I had written when I started.

Following last Wednesday’s brainstorm session, I decided I really need to write the remaining Marcie Craig books and bring her as up to date as I can in as short a time as possible. So the current WiP, The Beast Within, is just 2 years on from the last one. We discussed it and discussed it and really didn’t think freezing her age and fetching her bang up to date was the right thing to do, but moving the story on by 2 years at a time, and in quick succession, might be the way forward. As soon as that was decided, a cloud seemed to lift and I was itching to write.

The pub bombing book has been postponed until a more suitable 50-year anniversary, and meanwhile I have 3 Marcie Craigs to write – at least. The Beast Within; Snowblind; Killer Queen. And possibly Burn. The steampunk has been put on the back burner while I learn more about the genre and decide and research which period in history I want to use. During that time I’ll read as many as I can.

I think that’s finally the right decision, as so many things were just stopping me from getting on and writing something – anything. I received a very welcome kick up the backside, put everything else onto one side, and agreed to work on just one book.

This afternoon I have this week’s walk report to write and submit and I need to start the electronic edits for the historical novel I finished manually editing Thursday night. I also still have the dog to walk, washing to fetch in and jobs to sift through.

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Thanking the stars

On Monday night it took me nearly 3 hours just to open the post. Straight away I was able to get rid of 3 piles. 1. straight in the rubbish; 2. straight in the recycle bin; 3. shredded and then into the recycle bin. The shredded pile took the remainder of the 3rd hour and filled 4 shredder bins or 1 dustbin liner.

I was able to dispatch a 4th pile pretty much straight away too, into an envelope and off to someone else, while pile no 5 went straight into the filing folder. That left pile no 6 for “reading later”, and pile no 7 for “dealing with NOW”. That was the urgent stuff I was looking for.

I’ve never had so many piles …

It was quite traumatic, I must admit. But it was nice to get my 2 mailing trays back (in and out) and the now-vanished pile of post was good Feng Shui.

I really, really need to get into the habit of touching the post just once – whether that means shredding or binning or recycling it straight away or, heaven forbid, actually dealing with it immediately.

Of course, the filing pile is now a different story. I’m going to have to do daily 5-minute bursts to try and get that shifted. I’m almost certain I have another pile of filing shoved away in a cupboard somewhere too.

I finally sank into a bath at 10:45pm, but at least it was another job jobbed and it did feel good to have the clear desk and all that rubbish gone.

On Tuesday, when the post came in, I touched it once … and shredded, recycled and binned straight away. That felt good too.

Tuesday was a glorious day and as I’d finished the proofreading job I was scheduled to finish, written and filed the walks report, met an obligation in town, and delivered one of those urgent forms I needed to fill in NOW, I decided I fancied and deserved a nice run to the seaside. Rufus had a great time there, we had fish and chips, a lovely walk along the beach, and we headed home at a reasonable time.

But halfway along the motorway the car cut out and I managed to limp onto the hard shoulder. We waited for over an hour for the AA to come out but he could only do a recovery, and he was close to his driving hours too, so we also had to give him a 45 minute break. He got us home for about 1am.

On Monday I was talking to the Universe; today I’m thanking stars. But I have a lot to be thankful for – for being in the AA, for the motorway being relatively empty, for not losing control of the car, for the dog not escaping across the carriageway, for not being alone, for nothing crashing into us on the hard shoulder, and for getting home safely. It could have been so much worse.

We had to abandon the car outside someone’s house, but my lovely mechanic has been out this morning to collect it, identified the problem, and will look at it as soon as he can. Meanwhile, and if it’s too expensive, I’m grounded again. But we’re all safe.

I couldn’t hand-deliver the job I finished yesterday, so that will be going via the post office later on this afternoon.

Today a new job landed on my desk – I touched it once, put it straight into my work folder and disposed of the packaging. Now I have to decide whether to crack on with that one, and therefore invoice it quickly, or carry on with the plan and write up the first chapter of my non-fiction.

I’m a bit tired, so I’m doing pc and internet admin stuff for now. I’ll see how I feel later on today and decide then.

Friday – the planets … 😉

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30k in 30 days

Historically, although I’ve always been über-busy, even when I was a prolific and constant freelance writer, writing for my own pleasure has always taken a back seat. If I have paid or contracted work to do, that work always gets done first.

For years I’ve been trying to carve out regular time for my own writing pleasure, but always the paid gigs come along and take priority.

These days the “day job” is the editing and proof-reading I do for other people. This pays the bills, it covers the mortgage, it enables me to have a car, and it means we eat – or most of the time at least. I don’t drink or smoke, it’s not a fast car, I don’t even dye my hair any more, and I don’t have package – or any kind of – holidays. I really do work to live and, most of the time, I make ends meet.

I lost the last day job in May 2011, and the first year was spent doing jobs around the house and gradually kick-starting the freelance career again, building up work and contracts. On 6 April 2012, I officially became self-employed again, after a 6-year break, and it’s taken the whole year to get the balance right between working and getting that work in. And in April 2013, I decided it was time to prioritise my pleasure writing again, particularly as some of it will be paid writing eventually.

I set myself a challenge to write 30,000 words over 30 days in April – 30k in 30 days – thinking that, once again, my own writing would get pushed aside to make way for the paid gigs. But do you know, I seem to have done it. There’s still one day left, but a quick look at the word meter in the side bar reveals just how well I’ve done it, considering my previous output had been zero.

So, aside from the word count accomplishment, in April only I’ve also completed eight separate items (short stories, articles, fillers) and with one day to go have written a perfectly respectable 28,922 words.

I’ll definitely do it again in May (1k a Day in May) and may even raise the bar, but we shall see about that. April got particularly busy and I’m still catching up on both lost time and a job taking much, much longer than I thought it would.

Do Diddle Day
As it turned out, and in case you didn’t notice, I did take my Do Diddle Day off last Friday after all. I finished the long job at around midnight on Thursday, and then burned out, quite simply. I didn’t have a diddle in me, let alone anything else. So I took the day off and spent it doing whatever I felt like.

That started with a lie-in until midday. I was shattered and I slept despite next door having a new hot water system fitted. The dog barked a bit, and there were drilling and cutting noises, but I was zonked out.

When I surfaced, I took the dog to Pugney’s Water Park near Wakefield for a good run, but when I got home I thought my car exhaust might be blowing a bit. I dropped the dog off and did some shopping – and treated myself for all of my hard work – but by the time I came home from the supermarket there was no “thought” about it. My exhaust was definitely blowing.

There was nothing I could do about it then, though. So I chilled in front of the telly for the next 5 or 6 hours, pigging chocolate and swilling cider. I needed the time out.

The weekend
I’d promised one of my editors that I’d catch up with a job on Saturday, but I ended up taking my car in to the garage to be looked at. I was supposed to be going out to Leeds on Saturday night, and to Birmingham on Sunday, but I didn’t want to risk it if the exhaust pipe might drop off at any moment.

While they looked at the car, I nipped up to have a chat and a cuppa with the gig buddy, who has a shop nearby, and when I went back, the mechanic confirmed my fears. I need a new exhaust. Or the front and middle sections at least.

This is not good. And it meant I had to cancel my trips to Leeds and to Birmingham.

The car’s going in tomorrow morning and I’m going to take some work to do in the library. Then I’ll collect the car, collect the dog, and head down to Birmingham anyway for the rest of the day. They said if I can get my car in for 8:30am (har har – and there was me thinking I’d given up early mornings), then it will be ready by 12 noon. That still gives me time to have a couple of hours with my mom and dad.

The promised job was worked on on Sunday, with me not going gallivanting about after all, and delivered late last night. I’ve had enough of these late nights for now. They don’t make Diane a very happy bunny; in fact, I get quite grumpy when I don’t get enough sleep.

Looking ahead
My April achievements will be up tomorrow, it being the last day of the month, and my May to-do list will be up on Wednesday, it being the first day of the new month. Some of my April jobs have moved along to May, and that 1k a Day in May will have started too.

So, hopefully, I’ll see you Friday.

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