I can stand the rain

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Diane and Ian on *another* bridge. (Picture: Diane Parkin)

I’m loving listening to and watching the rain at the moment, so much so that I’ve set up camp on the kitchen table where I can see it through the open back door.

I had a bit of a mini-revelation over the past few days. I really, really need a view when I’m working. My desk is currently shoved into a dark corner of the bedroom, with a view of 2 walls. Granted with lots of familiar bits and pieces all over them, but short of knocking through a window, I think I need to move the office.

Even when I’m writing longhand, editing longhand or proofreading longhand, I like to sit on the settee in the living room opposite the window, even when there’s not a lot to see.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I do intend to one day gut the spare room and make it my office. There’s a window my desk will fit under, and I can watch the birds – and the weather – through the window. It’s going to cost money, though. And that’s the dilemma.

I have other things I need to spend my money on first; but I also need to optimise my earning so that I can afford it all.

Food for thought, but I think the next big job in this house may be converting the spare room to an office. There will still be room for an occasional, fold-up bed, and the number of visitors I actually get doesn’t actually justify a permanent bed taking up optimum working space all the time.

I’ve been very busy. I didn’t make it to Mom’s and Dad’s yesterday because I had to deal with idiots for most of Wednesday and lost the whole day. It also gave me the chance to have a good old de-clutter in the bedroom and office area, which is good and makes the work space inviting again. But it did take All Day.

So yesterday I worked. I carried on editing a non-fiction that I should finish (and invoice – hurrah!) today.

I have the weekend to myself and while I was considering going to the Leeds write-in tomorrow afternoon and maybe a gig tomorrow night, I can’t really afford it and I do have plenty of other work to be getting on with. I’ve also cancelled a dentist’s appointment today and will probably cancel my hair appointment as well.

If I can do all of my October income work before the 14th of the month, I can spend the rest of the month getting in new work, writing and preparing for NaNoWriMo in November.

I’m going to see my parents on Tuesday anyway, as we have some stuff to deal with. But between then and now I’m going to be busy, busy, busy.

This is the last of the pictures from our holiday in Dentdale, and probably my favourite one of the lot. It’s one that I set up and, I must say, it’s actually quite good. ūüėÄ

Have a lovely weekend.

Didn’t really do diddley squat yesterday

The lovely little cottage where we stayed. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
The lovely little cottage where we stayed. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I didn’t really have a Do Diddle Day yesterday. I set the Do Diddle posts to publish automatically and it was about 11pm on Wednesday night when I remembered I hadn’t cancelled the post on the blog. It’s a nice picture, though, so I decided to leave it – and hopefully no one would try to contact me.

I had a busy week this week. I have a wonderful new business manager (who also happens to be the poet) and he worked out a proper pricing module for me. This has made it so much easier to bid for work, and quicker too, so saving time that isn’t actually paid for.

It turns out that I’ve been charging roughly half what I should be charging minimum for proofreading, and about a fifth of what I should be charging minimum for editing. This is based on the average time it takes me to edit or proofread 1,000 words or a page.

Unfortunately, people don’t seem to want to pay the going rate for anything and want to get everything as cheaply as possible, and even free. Sadly, that doesn’t pay my mortgage nor buy my groceries.

This week I bid for 14 jobs at the old rate, and now I’m hoping everyone declines me, because now I see why I seem to be working all hours yet totally skint. Yesterday I bid for 6 jobs at the new rate. Today I hope to bid for a few more. Time will tell if maybe I’m just not working fast enough.

I’ve had a new edit come in this week and another revision on an old edit. I’ve also been promised a new edit. The non-fiction edits actually come well within my new pricing module. The fiction edits, unfortunately, are coming well outside. I seem to spend more time on the fiction, yet I get paid less for it. I’ll have to think very carefully when another new edit comes in.

The non-fiction regular work is fine. I have one lot of revisions, one new book and one on the way. The fiction regular work is less fine. I have one lot of revisions in and one new book. I won’t be chasing for work there in future, but I will still have to consider it if I have nothing else in.

Because of the new pricing module, I’ve had to increase hours worked on paid stuff and decrease hours worked on my own stuff. If I want to do my own stuff, I need to get up earlier. This work¬†will generate income at some point, but it is still speculative and I can’t guarantee how much I’ll be paid or when I’ll see it.

I still have a lot of navel gazing to do, clearly.

I also updated the gig list this week for October and I’ve done usual admin work.

I’m not sure yet if I’m going to the Leeds write-in tomorrow. I may prefer to spend the travel time actually writing now I can’t justify writing during my working week. I do have 2 gigs this weekend, though – one on Saturday and one on Sunday, both in Doncaster.

Today’s picture is of the lovely little cottage where we stayed when we went to Dent.

Whatever you’re up to this weekend, have a good one.

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 ‚ÄstI 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 ‚Ästwas 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 ‚Äst 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¬†‚Äď 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¬†‚Äď 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¬†‚Äď 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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Clipped wings

Maybe the Universe couldn’t manage the nice weather I ordered for my research trip. Maybe that’s why my car broke down and I couldn’t go. It’s horrible being grounded, though, and nowhere near any rail stations. I feel as though my wings have been clipped.¬†The weather anyway, for the midsummer weekend and super moon, was atrocious. Blustery showers and grey skies the whole time.

The diary that I ordered on Thursday was here on Friday. That’s quite good going considering they only charged me ¬£1.50 for 3 – 5 days delivery (apx $2.30). Next day delivery would have cost me a lot more, and I got it anyway. Friday evening I had a lovely time acquainting myself with the new diary.

When the post came in on Friday and on Saturday, I touched it once, and shredded or binned it straight away. I had some money-off vouchers come from Tesco, more than £5-worth (apx $7.75), and those went straight into my purse.

When I went through the pile of post last Monday, I had to throw 3 lots of money-off vouchers away – 2 from Tesco and 1 from Boots – because they’d expired, and some only the day before. Those were probably worth about ¬£15 (apx $23), and all for things that I buy anyway. This was one of my motivations for touching it once in future. (Although I did manage to save some coupons, ¬£3-worth for the Co-op – apx $4.60 – and 60p-worth plus extra points for Boots.)

On Saturday I did some baking. I made a Quiche Lorraine and a plum crumble – yes, I’m hard enough to make a plum crumble … Sorry. Ahem … I walked the dog up to the Co-op to get some odds and ends, I took a rucksack so I could carry it home and still have my hands free for the dog. And I took the rest of the day off. I faffed, played games, caught up on old NCIS episodes and generally dossed, and baked.

I’ve started to do a big shop at Tesco just once sometimes twice a month, getting all the tinned, bottled and other heavy stuff, and then filling-in in between on a weekly basis, usually locally. It’s working out quite a bit cheaper, approximately ¬£40 – ¬£45 a month (apx $75), and I’m throwing even less food away.

On Sunday I had an idle lie-in and faffed some more. Then I knuckled down to some more baking (choc chip muffins), housework and then some writing work. I picked up 5 books on Kindle for just over ¬£6 (apx $9.30) to read up on a potential new genre. When I wasn’t reading I was watching telly, but just for an hour. I would have liked to have gone out, but my wings had been clipped … I do miss my car.

When I get the car back I’ve discovered I can get to Leeds for the Saturday afternoon write-ins a bit quicker and a bit cheaper just by going to a different railway station. It’s not in a nice area, so I’d need to look at the car park security, etc. But if it saves me nearly ¬£3 (apx $4.60) and about 20 minutes each way, it might be worth considering. It means the dog won’t be left so long on his own too.

This week, then, I have a new historical novel to edit, the walks report to write and submit, the daily comps to enter, job boards to surf daily, a well-woman clinic to attend, the gig list to upload for July (July already, sheesh!), a do diddle day, a book to write, diary work, invoices to raise, a trip to Birmingham, and – hopefully – a research trip to Derbyshire (weather and car permitting). Then I change to my new diary.

What are your plans for the week?

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Spring flowers

P1020189I wish I had some lovely cheerful flowers in my lounge right now, but these from 2 years ago will do. Aren’t they lovely? The flowers are late this year. The daffodils are only just showing along the roadsides, but there’s a better show this year than I’ve ever seen since moving here 9 years ago.

There’s a bypass in Solihull that breaks out into full daffodil bloom every single spring, but Barnsley has always been about 2 weeks behind. This year, after such a long winter, it’s even further behind – although as I haven’t been down the bypass in Solihull yet this year, maybe it isn’t. It’s never been a patch on Solihull before, but it’s getting there this year.

Is it every 3rd year the daffodils flourish?

Everything is late. It’s almost the end of April and lots of garden birds are still only just collecting nest material. I empty out all of my hairbrushes, and the pet brushes, so they have soft hair to line their nests too. The pigeons are funniest, the size of the twigs and sticks they fly back with. I often wonder if their partners tell them to go back and try again.

My apple tree is only just starting to sprout. The other one is well and truly D E double D dedd and I need to get another. They’re self-fertilising, but the surviving apple tree hasn’t borne fruit for 2 years, so I think they need a helping push. The apple blossom has been lovely, but that’s late too. My grapevine also looks dead, but when I scratched the stem with a thumbnail, I spotted green, so it may just be late too.

The¬†hydrangea, which is always late, seems to be the first one coming into leaf. The whole garden is out of kilter and I daren’t even try sowing seeds yet, even with my mini-greenhouse. It’s still far too cold out there at night.

My Do Diddle Day is probably going to be late too. I’ve been working late for several nights and the never ending editing job still never ends. I feel as though I’m working at a cliff face instead of a type face. I’ve sent the first half of the book off to the client to keep him busy for a day or so, but when a job drags it certainly does it with style.

So I may have to postpone my Do Diddle Day this month. I will have one, just maybe not on Friday. I’ll also be staying home to work tomorrow instead of going to the local council meeting.

It’s not that I have a lot to do, more that this one job is taking three times longer than I thought it would – and therein lies the problem. It’s a set price job so I still get the same if it takes me 1 week or 3 weeks, so I’m going to have to do some financial juggling again – I’m getting good at juggling fresh air.¬†And everything else has to get in the queue, which is the other part of the problem, although I have snuck in a couple of copywriting jobs this week and the gig list.

I’ll also probably cancel the Leeds write-in too, and I was toying with a gig in Leeds Saturday night as well that may also get shelved. The gig buddies won’t come as far as Leeds with me, so I would have been going on my own anyway, and I’m not sure I’m up to that either.

I think I’m in need of a pamper. Or maybe just flowers. Offers in the usual place … ūüėČ

Burning the midnight oil

blog thumbnailAt the start of this week I was roughly 5 days behind in my work due to the flu. After a few days spent burning the midnight oil, I’ve caught up on 2 of those and by the end of the weekend I should be back on track.

The flu has definitely gone and there is just a cold lingering now. The deafness is only in one ear. I do feel a lot better, but, after a slip on the stairs with the dog yesterday, I am feeling a bit achey today.

My main worry was the dog, and I really need to train him to walk down the stairs by himself as I won’t be able to carry him forever. He’ll do it, reluctantly, on the lead, but panics if he’s on the landing, let alone any steps. I did manage to keep hold of him until my rump hit the deck, but I think he had a bit of a bump too and he was quite bewildered by it all – to the extent that he ran straight to his basket when we got downstairs (after first making sure I was all right, bless him), and he only ever goes in there if he’s been naughty.

My second worry was the mirror on the wall directly opposite the bottom of the stairs, but once I knew I was coming in under that rather than into it, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride – so to speak.

I escaped with a grazed elbow, in 2 places, 3 sprained fingers and a sore bum. And a few muscular aches. But apart from that, we’re fine. Domino scarpered down the stairs before us; Holly stayed safely at the top watching us. So the cats were fine too.

Isn’t it amazing, though, how much work your middle finger on your non-dominant hand does? I had trouble unscrewing bottle tops, holding flat objects, typing, picking anything up that requires the whole hand, opening door handles, walking the dog on his lead … So I tried not to do any work with it, but kept moving so I didn’t seize up. Witch hazel is also brilliant.

Anyway, as I say, I’ve worked late for the past few nights – until 1:30am last night – and I’ve done quite a lot of catching up of work. I even bagged another interview for the National Service book. This morning I sent author queries off for a book I just finished editing (hard copy) and I’m ready to start proof-reading the next job, an autobiography.

It means I may have to work at the weekend so that by Monday I’m back where I want to be, and that means I’ll miss this week’s write-in in Leeds. With a cold still lingering a bit, I shan’t take that to my parents’. Instead I’ll go next week when I would have gone anyway.

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

Have a goodun.

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 … ūüėČ

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.