Diary of a freelance writer: 27 January 2016

It’s been a bitty week with a jolly in the middle of it and getting distracted by other stuff, but it’s been okay.

Wednesday 20 January 2016
Wednesday started early as I had to run the poet to the railway station. He was off to Scotland for 2 days on business and I usually take him for his train.

Instead of going back to bed, I bumbled through the first part of the morning before warming up and writing a 538-word blog post, plus 41 words over on another blog. (Every little helps …)

Then I browsed the job boards and pitched for 7 new editing or proofreading jobs.

Thursday 21 January 2016
Thursday was a day off in the end. I did my usual morning admin/gig list work, but then it was off for a jolly with Carol, this time over in her neck of the woods (which is, actually, only 15 minutes away …). She took me to a lovely little café in a place called Hepworth, near Holmfirth. And on either side of lunch I had a lovely play with Sam the dog.

At teatime I was back at the railway station to collect the poet.

Friday 22 January 2016
On Friday I wrote a 311-word blog post for me, then a 30-word blog post and a 136-word blog post for the pro-bono project. And I did some other social media admin for the pro-bono project.

In the afternoon I updated the Pen & Sword page on this blog – you can follow the link here – adding 12 new books. I also added 14 new books to ALCS (I get a percentage on books I’ve edited) and 1 article.

On Saturday we managed a research day/day out, travelling slightly further afield to Ripon in North Yorkshire. On Sunday we had a mini-session in Wormy’s kitchen, making lime meringue pie to go with our roast chicken dinner.

Monday 25 January 2016
Monday morning started a little late and I almost forgot to post the gig list gig request for the weekend. I wrote a 770-word blog post and updated the diary for the coming week – something I usually do on the previous Thursday, but I was out jollying. 😀

In the afternoon, I cranked up Scrivener and typed in 1,257 words for Catch the Rainbow, and I chased an overdue acknowledgement.

Tuesday 26 January 2016
Tuesday looks a little empty as I refer to my diary, as I must have forgotten to fill it in. I know I didn’t write any words, though. But again, I did surf the job board and I pitched for another 7 jobs.

I registered with 5 survey sites for when I have real down time.

Homework w/c 27 January 2016
I want to do some more work with Scrivener on Catch the Rainbow, and I’m awaiting some blog posts to edit for a new client … although I’ve been waiting since before Christmas (he did send me an email yesterday evening to say they were on the way).

I want to move on with the next part of my fiction writing course and I want to look at the story that came back to see if I can get it out to fave market before the end of Friday.

I’m STILL still waiting for the new cover for the new version of Night Crawler: a Marcie Craig Mystery. It’s almost there now, but we won’t be meeting the  29 January deadline.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 20 January 2016

First of all I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to visit on Monday and welcome my first guest to the new blog, and special thanks go to all of those who also left a comment or a question. Hopefully, a guest interview will become a regular feature.

I didn’t do everything I wanted to last week – I didn’t start assignment 4 for the fiction writing course and I didn’t manage another short story. However, I did start to upload Catch the Rainbow to Scrivener, and I did finish the big editing job. So all was not lost.

Wednesday 13 January 2016
Most of Wednesday was taken up with the big edit, once the blogs were out of the way.

Thursday 14 January 2016
Ditto Thursday, although I did also do some gig list admin.

Friday 15 January 2016
Friday was much better. I wrote 670 words on one project, prepared Monday’s interview – with pictures and quotes and further information, etc – and I completed the big edit. But it did take much of the week to get that shifted.

We didn’t get out for any research trips at the weekend. The poet wasn’t feeling very well, so we just did the shopping on Saturday, then visited the parents on Sunday. It was his mother’s birthday so we went there first before carrying on down to Birmingham.

Monday 18 January 2016
Monday was a good day too. I did the gig list admin and wrote 973 words on a project. Then spent much of the day learning specifics of Scrivener to help it work much better for me. I raised an invoice for the big job finished on Friday (hurrah!), and I broke the back of Catch the Rainbow with a massive 124 words!

Tuesday 19 January 2016
A chased payment that was due on 1 January finally hit my bank account yesterday. So I was able to order some much needed toner cartridges for the printer at last, and a case for my new Kindle Fire 7″.

I wrote 417 words on one project and I did a lot of work on the pro-bono project, sorting out logos, sponsor forms, emails and the like. We’re pretty much at the stage now where this setting-up work we did for them can be handed over to one of the other volunteers to manage. Ideally, I’d just like to do any press work.

Having cracked (for now) what I needed to know about Scrivener, I then sat down and managed 1,097 words for Catch the Rainbow. This meant I could now print off the prologue and the start of the first chapter and get some feedback from the business manager. (He liked it.)

Homework w/c 20 January 2016
Today’ I’ve been pitching for jobs, so hopefully one of those will come in over the next week. I also want to do more of Catch the Rainbow and Scrivener. If I get chance, I’d also like to do that short story and fiction writing course work I didn’t manage last week.

I’m still waiting for the new cover for the new version of Night Crawler: a Marcie Craig Mystery. So far he has a white-washed canvas and is in Scotland now for the next 2 days. We may not meet my 29 January deadline on that …

What are you up to this week?

Author interview: Sarah Stephenson


Sarah Stephenson

I’m delighted to welcome today Sarah Stephenson, newly published author of Dougal’s Diary (Crooked Cat).


Sarah lives in South East London with two dogs, the occasional grandchild and a lot of clutter.

“I’ve had a chequered career as ballet dancer, chef, cleaning lady, salesgirl of outsize underwear in Littlewoods, and actor,” Sarah says.

“As an actor I worked mostly in the theatre, in plays ranging from Shakespeare to improvised, both comedy and tragedy. And throughout those years, I wrote – occasionally short stories but mainly letters and diaries documenting events and people I didn’t want to forget.”

Sarah managed to fill thirty or more exercise books with practically illegible scribble. The books sat in drawers and suitcases, for years.

“Then three years ago I found The Write Place, a class in Dartford run by writer Elaine Everest. Under her terrific guidance I began Dougal’s Diary. She gave me the name of a publisher to contact, and that was it.”

I asked Sarah to tell me a bit about Dougal’s Diary.

“It follows Dougal from innocent puppy to mature hound, as he deals with Greenwich life, his chaotic owner and her eccentric friends, his own hypochondria and jealousy over a foster puppy.  Then there’s the excitement of parties, his dreams of stardom and travelling to a paradise island on Virgin Atlantic, will they ever come true?

“A living version of Dougal does exist. And when I first got him I felt he had the kind of personality that was begging to be put into a story. ”

And did Sarah edit it herself or did she hire someone to look over it?

“Being dyslexic I thought it best to get it looked at, so sent an early version to Hilary Johnson’s Author’s Advisory Service. Foolishly I didn’t return the much changed copy for a final check. Crooked Cat gave me an editor, Andy Angel. He was lovely but not nearly tough enough on me.”

“Elaine insists everything we write goes somewhere”

How did Sarah go about getting it published?

“Elaine Everest, who runs The Write Place, insists everything we write goes somewhere – a competition, magazine, or publisher. It must never sit in a drawer. Elaine told me Crooked Cat were accepting submissions and to send Dougal in.

“The Crooked Cat family (Laurence and Steph Patterson who started the company and their authors) have all been fantastically helpful. And without Elaine Everest and The Write Place group, I would have been totally lost.”

Sarah’s book was launched last week amid a flurry of parties and events. How did Sarah find that?

“It was both hectic and fun with two launch parties on Facebook on Thursday, one arranged by Crooked Cat, the other a ‘bring your pet along party’ hosted by me. And I’ve filled in many questionnaires for people’s blogs. Sometimes I’ve been interviewed; at other times, Dougal.

“Now I’ve got some good reviews, I’m contacting the local press and masses of dog magazines.”

What has Sarah learned so far from the experience?

“I had no idea how much there was to do. Marketing an ebook isn’t easy. No one can see it, so if you don’t tell them it’s there, no one will buy it. And, of course, I’m an unknown writer, so have no followers and no track record.”

So, where does Sarah go from here?

“We’re encouraged to write what we know. So, having spent the last twenty years cooking in the homes of the very wealthy, witnessing behaviour I couldn’t possibly write about without being done for libel, I’m putting my experiences into a cosy crime story. The characters will be just as outrageous, only fictional.”

Does Sarah have any advice, for readers and for those hoping to have their books published?

“You may be lucky enough to pick up one of the big publishers, even get an agent. But if you don’t, I suggest starting small with maybe an ebook publisher. At least it’s a start. You’ll have writing history.

“There are many young publishers out there. And join a group or get onto the RNA’s (Romantic Novelist Association) new writers’ scheme. Writing is a lonely occupation. There’s help and advice out there.

dougal's diary

Dougal’s Diary

“And never give up.”

Dougal’s Diary is published by Crooked Cat as an ebook. It can be bought on Amazon UK and Amazon Worldwide, and at Crooked Cat Books.

The Write Place creative writing school is based at The Mick Jagger Centre, Dartford, Kent, and is run by author, journalist and creative writing teacher, Elaine Everest. For information on classes and workshops please visit the website.


If you have any questions for Sarah, or if there’s anything you’d like to say to her, please do so in the comments section. Thanks for dropping by.

Diary of a freelance writer: 13 January 2016

Welcome to the recently new followers. I hope you’ll stay a while and maybe join in.

Wednesday 6 January 2016
I had a very good writing day last Wednesday. I wrote 1,022 words for blog posts, and I wrote 573 words towards the 3rd assignment of my fiction writing course. This is a 3-part assignment, the 2nd part also consisting of 3 parts. The topic for this particular assignment was viewpoint, and this was the 2nd part of the assignment I did today.

In the afternoon I finished the author revisions for a book I’d edited before Christmas.

Thursday 7 January 2016
The following day consisted of gig list admin and diary work before writing 946 words for a walking blog. I did a little pro-bono work and I edited some captions for a book and sent those off.

In the afternoon I sketched out the basic idea for a short story for the 3rd part of my fiction writing assignment, using Scrivener again. Then I started a brand new edit, a big one, for one of my regular clients.

During the evening, after doing the weekly shopping, we dropped a job in to a publisher.

Friday 8 January 2016
On Friday I started a new blog feature and wrote 608 words. All of these lifestyle features are over on Baggins Bottom.  I wrote the first 856 words of the short story outlined the day before, and in the afternoon I continued with the new editing job.

On Friday night Monkey Dust had a gig over in Doncaster for a birthday party.

Monkey Dust had another gig on Saturday evening, but on Sunday we went for another walk for material for (a) the blog, and (b) the walking book.

Monday 11 January 2016
Monday started with gig list admin and writing up 726 words for the walk blog. I wrote a further 488 words for the short story outlined last week, so finishing the first draft – and the first full short story completed this year so far – and I edited a further 40 pages of the big book.

Tuesday 12 January 2016
Yesterday started with another blog post/book content, just a little one coming to 325 words. Then I polished all of the 3rd assignment, including the short story, and got that sent off to my tutor.

In the afternoon I edited another 79 pages of the book – I did say it was a big one, there are still 106 pages to go.

Homework w/c 13 January 2016
Today I’d like to start reading the material for the 4th assignment of my fiction writing course, but at some point I’d also like to write another short story – this one for fave short story market in case I don’t get feedback in time for my January submission on the one I did for the course. I’d also like to start loading Catch the Rainbow onto Scrivener. I seem to have fallen in love with Scrivener … ❤

I still have those 106 pages to finish the hard copy edit on, then I’ll have the electronic edit to do. I’d like to get those done and the book sent back by the end of Friday.

This evening we were supposed to be going to a meeting for the pro-bono work, but we’ve had to cancel that. The poet has sent our apologies along with his first drafts of the logo and the event poster.

There are another 2 days of blog posts to come up with this week and I think we’ve already decided where this weekend’s walk will be. Then early next week I’ll be back on the job board looking for future work, if nothing comes in meanwhile.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 6 January 2016

Welcome to the new home for Diary of a Freelance Writer. Here is where you’ll find my weekly exploits in the world of writing, editing and proofreading. For diaries up to this date, see Tales From Baggins Bottom and do a search for “diary of a freelance writer”.

Wednesday 16 December 2015
I had an editing job I wanted to finish before Christmas for lovely-already-boss, so much of my pre-Christmas work-time was spent clearing that. I also wrote 592 words that day – not great but 592 words are better than 0 words.

Thursday 17 December 2015
An email came in from lovely-already-boss warning me of some extra work on a particularly hateful job I’d completed several weeks previously. This was a thorn in the publisher’s side right from the off and it took me a very long time to complete. I expected there to be issues, but not the day before I broke up for Christmas.

I advised lovely-already-boss that I was breaking up until 4 January, but if that was fine for him to still send it to me. It arrived on the Saturday …

I did more of the job I wanted to finish for him and I did some admin work on both the gig list and the pro-bono project.

I had an early finish as we were off to see Roy Wood’s Christmas show at Holmfirth.

Friday 18 December 2015
Friday consisted mostly of tying up loose ends, finishing the editing job I wanted to finish by Christmas (hurrah!), invoicing for said job (hurrah!), and other odds and ends. I set my out-of-office auto-reply, and a couple of automatic posts for the gig list, and enjoyed another early finish. After all, it was mad Friday and I was off out on a date with my husband. 🙂

Christmas break 2015
We didn’t do very much over Christmas at all regarding work. We did our last minute Christmas shopping (for each other) and the food shopping. We visited family, delivered gifts, welcomed family, went out, enjoyed 2 walks … although, actually, the walks will probably count as “research trips” as I did a lot of thinking about the writing business and where I wanted it to be by the end of 2016.

Many of my intentions can be found in the first post of the year, here.

We were off from 18 December to 4 January.

Monday 4 January 2016
Back to work after a lovely break, and I started with the new blog and the new ideas for the old blog. I did some gig list admin, and some band admin for Monkey Dust, I updated the tracker spreadsheet and added in the bits for January (the tracker will follow my financial year to 5 April), I completed the diary for the week, and I wrote 601 words on one of the new projects.

The blog I wrote today was the first of my “walk” posts, only an introduction, but a little taster. These come into the wordcount because, ultimately, they’ll – hopefully – be turned into books. When this one is complete it will include proper OS maps and routes not necessarily shared on the blog, and photographs.

With this new blog being dedicated to work, I offered to do my first author interview for a friend’s ex-student who publishes her first book next week.

Just as I was signing off for the day, new-repeat-client dropped me an email asking if I could edit a book that will take the best part of the next 2 weeks. Very handy.

Later that evening I heard from the new author and I offered her a slot on Monday 18 January. Please note it in your diaries and try to visit that day to give her some support. Thank you. 🙂

Tuesday 5 January 2016
Yesterday, I spent some time on one of the job boards in case the new job didn’t materialise, but it did and we agreed terms. So I was able to navigate away from the job board this week as I’m now “busy” (hurrah!).

I wrote the first of my “kitchen garden from scratch” blogs over on Baggins Bottom and managed 743 words. When this book is complete it will include various practical projects and additional lessons learned that won’t necessarily always make it onto the blog, and – of course – more photographs.

I wanted to catch up with my fiction writing course and was determined to do something on that today, but I booted up my Scrivener to have a go at a short story on there, expecting to just open some index cards and write some notes …

I rattled out the whole of the 750-word assignment for part 1 and exported it to .rtf, where I tweaked the layout a little to my own preferences. It was so easy! Why have I not used Scrivener before?!

In all I managed 1,497 words over 2 projects (the assignment came to 754 words).

I started the horrid revisions and made it to the end of the proofreader’s feedback. And I started the new edit as a little light relief.

Homework w/c 6 January 2016
I have author feedback to look at on the horrid edit today and the new edit to continue with.

All being well, there may be 2 more blog posts over on Baggins Bottom this week, one on “my fat year” and the other another “walk”. Then there may be 2 more at the start of next week. Today’s post over there will, however, link back to this one.

I have work to do on the pro-bono project this week as we have a meeting next Wednesday, and I want to carry on with my fiction writing assignment. I have 450 words to write for part 2 and up to 2,000 words to write for part 3. I’d like to get all of that off by the end of this diary week.

Monkey Dust have 2 gigs this weekend, but we hope to manage another walk either Saturday or Sunday.

How did your last few weeks go? And what are you up to this coming week?