New beginnings (*** list alert ***)

The news that yet another short story magazine has closed its doors to all but a privileged few has knocked me sideways somewhat this past week. It’s not a market I’ve had a lot of success with, but it’s a good market to target anyway and at least the result is a completed short story at the end of it.

I had such plans, though. I’d bought a new diary that starts in January and finishes in December instead of sticking with my usual academic diary, and I’d insisted on getting one with appointments so I can stick to my individual time-slots. I’d written out a schedule of work for various drafts of various short stories, to ensure I completed something. And I’d bought recent copies of all of the short story magazines you can buy on any newsstand in the UK.

My short stories generally “do the rounds”. I write them with a specific market in mind and then, if they’re rejected, I’ll work on them to make them suitable for the next market on the list. That list has got shorter and shorter until now there are only three. One favourite market had already temporarily closed its doors before Christmas, and then this other one slammed them shut over the Christmas period.

So I took a step back and spent my first official day back in the office (aka yesterday) having a rethink.

Fortunately, my diary is always written in pencil – apart from anniversaries, birthdays and other un-moveable events. So I can rethink the schedule, rub them out and start all over again.

Fortunately, there are other markets for short stories – I just have to work harder to find them and build up a new routine.

Fortunately, I am not averse to self-publishing collections of my own short stories, and it is these anthologies that have actually worked the hardest for me out of all of my self-published books. (In case you’re interested, you can find all of my current books here.)

I’ve renewed my previously expired subscription to Duotrope. I’m going to buy a writing magazine each month and try and target at least one competition or call for submissions. And I’m following several websites that list opportunities for writers.

Words Worth Writing is also having a bit of a facelift for the new year:

  • Diary of a Freelance Writer  will be updated to the end of 2016 and then it will be finished. A lot of readers do say they enjoy it, but – really – there is only so much that changes from week-to-week that it can get quite … stale. I’m working on a collection of the previous Diary of a Scaredy Cat and this will be followed by a collection for Diary of a Freelance Writer. Both will include extra exercises for readers to try at the end of each section or chapter, and there may be further insights discovered since they were originally written. I was going to complete two volumes of Diary of a Freelance Writer, but I’ve decided now that one should be sufficient.
  • At least once a month I’ll be interviewing writers of all levels about their work and especially if they have books coming out. Please let me know if you’d like to take part, with thanks to those who already have.
  • There will be more “nuts and bolts” posts, ranging from (*** dirty word alert ***) money, including how to set your own minimum rate and how and when to chase payments that are overdue, to working as a freelance writer and all the things that involves.
  • I’m going to try and read, review and attempt the exercises in a writers’ guide each week – 52 Books in 52 Weeks. If you have any suggestions, or any writers’ guides of your own coming out, again let me know, but do bear in mind these MUST include practical exercises that lead to a finished piece. I’m simply incapable of doing writing exercises for exercise-sake.
  • Because it’s been requested, I’ll do an ideas masterclass at least once a month.
  • And there will still always be homework suggestions.

Tales From Baggins Bottom will be changing too. I’ll still have My Fat Year and a walk or a day out as often as we do them. But new features will include Tales From the Farm and the long overdue Wormy’s Kitchen.

Behind the scenes I’ll be working on quite a few things too:

  • I want to get back into feature writing, so will be doing the whole ideas-to-finished-piece myself (watch out for a new book on this …).
  • I’ll still be writing short stories, but they’ll be more market-orientated and will automatically go forward into the self-published anthologies in case they don’t do well elsewhere.
  • I’m finishing Diary of a Scaredy Cat. Watch out for this soon too.
  • I have Catch the Rainbow to fine-tune and polish. I want that to be doing the rounds by mid-year.
  • I’m starting The Beast Within, which is the next Marcie Craig mystery.
  • I’ll be collating Diary of a Freelance Writer and adding in those extra exercises and insights.
  • There should be at least two more volumes of Tales From Baggins Bottom in the pipeline this year.

As a point of note, everything – everything – I write is with a view to it earning its keep and/or getting it published, either via the traditional route or myself. This is the way I roll.

I hope you enjoy the new features. Here is today’s homework:

  1. Spend some quiet time thinking about where you want to go next. What has changed recently to make you rethink plans or your way of work? Jot these thoughts down.
  2. Challenge yourself to come up with at least one thing you’re going to do differently – more if you have them. Give yourself a deadline to do this by. Then do it.
  3. Choose a writers’ guide. Read it from cover to cover. Go back and do the exercises with a view to sending the finished product(s) out. Polish it, find a market, adapt it to suit, and then send it out. Spend the next 6 months looking for another market for each item, in case the market you sent it to doesn’t use it (although they will usually come back quicker than that now if they are going to use it).
  4. Challenge yourself to try something you’ve never tried before – a reader’s letter, a filler, a poem, a short story, a puzzle, a nostalgic article or RTE (Reader’s True Experience). Find a market and send it out in its entirety. Each of these will go out in its own entirety rather than as a query. Do this at least once a month.
  5. If you don’t already, buy at least one writing magazine per month. Read it from cover to cover and look for potential markets to send your work.

Let me know how you get on!

Diary of a Freelance Writer: 14 December 2016

The writing week has not been very productive. This is because it was mostly interrupted, either by chickens or by having a poorly poet at home. Thankfully, the chickens have settled in and the poet has gone back to work – I mean because he’s better, and not because he’s not under my feet! 🙂 I do actually enjoy having him home, even if he is poorly.

Today, however, the interruption is mostly the internet not working properly. Yesterday I had 2 powercuts and today the internet isn’t working. It does annoy me when things you pay for don’t work.

Wednesday 7 December 2016
On Wednesday I managed to write 1,223 words for a blog post and I finally settled down to some study work. For this I managed to write 180 words of notes. (They all count!) The rest of the day was taken up with chickens and the husband.

Thursday 8 December 2016
On Thursday, the only ticks in my diary are against gig list admin x 2 and chickens … I’m sure I did a lot of reading work, though. Perhaps I should start to log my reading work too.

Friday 9 December 2016
On Friday I wrote a blog post about the chickens and I backed up all of my critical data on the desktop computer. I managed some more study work, this time I read an entire module for the article writing course.

Weekend
At the weekend we had a visit to Doncaster on Saturday, a Monkey Dust gig on Saturday night and a visit to Birmingham on Sunday. We got back just after dark on Sunday, the first time we weren’t there to put the chickens to bed while it was still light, and we thought we’d have a song and dance trying to find them all … but when we got home they’d all already put themselves to bed and were clucking quite contentedly. All we had to do was put their water in and lock the door.

Monday 12 December 2016
By Monday we were in more of a routine with the chickens, and they seem to need less attention the longer they are with us. The poet went back to work as well, so I was able to settle down to some work.

I wrote 620 words for a blog post, 500 words of the second draft of a short story, and 136 words for my article writing assignment. This was more like it. However …

Tuesday 13 December 2016
… on Tuesday I felt like Widow Twanky with all the household chores I had to do – including chickens! They took the entire morning – empty the dishwasher, fill the dishwasher, empty the tumble dryer, fold the washing, empty the washing machine, fill the tumble dryer, sort the dirty washing, fill the washing machine, empty all the bins in the house, take the recyclables out, feed the garden birds, feed the pets …

By the time I sat down at the computer to do some work, the power went off! I did some reading instead, and when the power came back on again I tried again … and it went off again! So the next time it came on I saved some work to memory stick and booted up the notepad. Then, at least, I was able to tweak a rejected short story and get it ready for going out again. When I got back onto the desktop computer, I printed off the story and a cover letter.

When the power went off for the second time, I re-jigged the diary for this week and completed it for next week. I’ve turned away a lot of editing work this month so I can concentrate on my own writing work, and I wanted to schedule in the various drafts of the short material.

I wrote the Canadian Christmas cards and decided to go for a run out to post them as the last guaranteed posting date was the following day. I also posted the tweaked short story, so that should arrive on Wednesday too. While I was out I went up to the farm to collect our milk and a bag of potatoes. Then I nipped to the new Fox Valley shopping centre in Stocksbridge to get the poet his Christmas card.

By the time I got back, I only had time to do more reading, and then put the chickens to bed.

Homework
This week’s homework is to continue to write up some of the drafts for my short material. This consists of short stories, fillers, reader’s true experiences (RTEs) and the odd article query. I also want to finish going through Diary of a Scaredy Cat so that can be up and for sale in the new year.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 7 December 2016

It’s been a full and busy week with mostly admin work and not as many words written. As usual, there’s a fair bit going on. But it’s all do-able.

Wednesday 30 November 2016
Wednesday was the last day of NaNoWriMo, and while I limped over the finish line, I’m delighted that I did it again. When I added my words to the NaNo site to have the word-count verified, they gave me an extra 16 words too. Had I known it was going to do that, I might have stopped sweating slightly sooner.

Anyway, thanks to NaNoWriMo 2016, I now have more than 78,000 words for Catch the Rainbow. I’ll have a closer look at those in the new year.

I wrote 1,579 words on Wednesday for NaNo, and I wrote 924 words for a blog post. I didn’t get any additional writing done, but I did continue with a client edit in the afternoon.

Thursday 1 December 2016
Thursday began with a huge sigh of relief, then I cracked on with gig list admin and new month admin.

New month admin consists of two new daily threads for the Seriously Serious Scribes plus a new word-count tracker spreadsheet that also includes a list of short writing work, and the various drafts-stage they’re at, and any books in I have to edit for clients. The SSS work isn’t necessarily mine, it’s usually whoever of the 3 admins gets around to it first.

In the afternoon I continued with the client edit, which has been particularly useful for me as it’s set in the same place as my story Mardi Gras (last year’s NaNoWriMo project).

Friday 3 December 2016
On Friday, I worked overtime on the client edit as I wanted to get it back today. This meant I didn’t do much other work.

When I’d finished we went to a friend’s birthday party … only to discover it’s next Friday … Oh dear! But, as we were were out anyway, we went to the pictures instead, to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

We did have another party we needed to be at too, and we did say if we got back in time we’d go. But we didn’t get back in time as the film was quite a bit longer than we thought it would be.

Weekend
On Saturday we went to collect our chickens from Letwell. We rescued six chickens via the British Hen Welfare Trust. They were very scraggy and sorry-looking, and they were jittery too. So we put them quietly in their new coop, made sure they had enough food, water, straw and wood-shavings, and left them quiet, while we went to a Monkey Dust gig over in Doncaster.

On Sunday morning we were rewarded with 6 eggs from our hens. When the sun came around, we opened the doors and let them out for an exploration. They didn’t stay out for long, so they clearly feel quite safe in their house. But they were picked on a bit by the existing resident peacocks, guinea fowl and chickens, although they did stand up for themselves.

Monday 5 December 2016
I now have a new job to add to the daily household chores, morning and afternoon – “chickens”. And while we all get used to each other, while I check they’re okay and happy and not being bullied, this is taking up time throughout the day too. Also on Monday I had a poorly poet home sick with a stomach bug.

Despite this, I managed a lot of reading and planning work for my writing, and I wrote 450 words for a blog post.

Tuesday 29 November 2016
Yesterday consisted of a lot more planning work and more reading work, but now I think I have a workable, if busy, schedule. I’ve caught up on my think/query/write/submit regime and I also wrote 796 words of notes and ideas. I also still had the poorly poet home.

Homework w/c 7 December 2016
With a Christmas break on the horizon, I have a lot of planning work to do and, hopefully, plenty to write about. It’s December, so my think/query/write/submit is July/June/May/April. Here are some throwaways if anyone fancies giving them a go (don’t forget to confirm the dates before sending out any queries):

  • 8 April 2017 is the Grand National (date specific)
  • 14 April is First Cuckoo Day (evergreen)
  • 24 April 2017 is Hocktide (date specific)
  • 14 May is Pag Rag Day (evergreen)
  • 29 May is Oak Apple Day (evergreen)
  • 15 June 2017 is Corpus Christi (date specific)
  • 21 June 2017 is the Summer Solstice (date specific)
  • 12 July is Orangemen’s Day in Northern Ireland (evergreen)
  • 28 July 1967 the steel industry was re-nationalised in Britain (50 years ago)

Any of these topics can be written about, all except for one can be written about each year. They can be turned into features or articles, or short stories can be woven around them. Some are politically sensitive, some are controversial.

There are also a number of countries celebrating their national days over this period. These include:

  • 17 May – National Day of Norway
  • 27 May – National Day of Afghanistan
  • 31 May – National Day of South Africa
  • 1 June – National Day of Tunisia
  • 2 June – National Day of Italy
  • 5 June – National Day of Denmark
  • 6 June – National Day of Sweden
  • 17 June – National Day of Iceland
  • 23 June – National Day of Luxembourg
  • 1 July – National Day of Canada
  • 6 July – National Day of Malawi
  • 9 July – National Day of Argentina
  • 14 July – National Day of France
  • 18 July – National Day of Spain
  • 21 July – National Day of Belgium
  • 22 July – National Day of Poland
  • 28 July – National Day of Peru

Now, there are so many topics that can be written around these dates, and they’re not necessarily travel features, although travel features are great if you have that kind of knowledge (and photography). However, if we take, for example … Argentina. What else can we write about Argentina, other than a travel feature? How about:

  • wines of Argentina
  • food from Argentina
  • football and Argentina
  • walking in Argentina
  • wildlife in Argentina
  • birdwatching in Argentina
  • flora & fauna of Argentina
  • culture of Argentina
  • Evita and Argentina
  • Argentina politics
  • the Falklands
  • interviews with famous Argentinians
  • profiles of famous Argentinians
  • independence from Spain

But if you want to write a travel feature, concentrate on one thing, such as:

  • a city profile of Buenos Aires or Córdoba or San Juan, etc
  • eating out
  • night life
  • the Glaciers National Park
  • the Iguazú Falls
  • the southern-most city in the world
  • touring the Andes

This is what I’ve just come up with off the top of my head for Argentina. You could try the same kind of brainstorm for any of the countries mentioned, or you can go beyond and do some research. Their national day is in July, so that gives you plenty of time to do the research, see which topic(s) excite(s) you, and query your favourite magazine(s) – or a(ny) new magazine(s).

Whatever you decide to write about, and whether it’s a short story or an article or a feature, remember to mention the date in your query/cover letter so that the target market has a date peg to hang it from. This will give them an extra excuse to accept your query or story.

I hope that’s given you plenty to think about. Please let me know if you use any of these suggestions for your work.

I’ll be working on the think/query/write/submits that I’ve kept for myself, as well as various drafts of various short projects. And I’ll be editing Diary of a Scaredy Cat. What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 30 November 2016 (*** rant alert ***)

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winnerWell, today is the last day of NaNoWriMo 2016 and, for reasons that should become clear, I have mixed emotions.

The bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and also anyone on Facebook and Twitter, will have already spotted that I WON this year’s NaNo. It’s the fourth time I’ve officially entered, and it’s the second time I’ve won.

Last year I threw caution (and the rock-solid outline) to the wind and wrote Mardi Gras by the seat of my pants. Mardi Gras is still awaiting completion, because it’s nothing like anything I’ve ever written before. But it will be finished.

This year I decided to have a crack at finishing Catch the Rainbow. It’s now, thanks to NaNo, at more than 78,000 words and the first draft is practically finished. Practically. I still have a few tweaks and a couple of extra scenes to do, possibly around 5,000 words-worth (ha! do you see what I did there?) of extra work. But the main thing is, it’s the closest to finished that it’s ever been, and with that I’m delighted.

*** rant alert ***
However … while I absolutely fell in love with Scrivener while I was writing these extra 50,000 words, I am also furious. Not once, but TWICE Scrivener lost my latest work. I’m not really sure how this is happening at the moment, but it seems to be because I’ve been saving it to both destktop and memory stick. Sometimes, if it opens a version by mistake, and it’s not necessarily the most recent version, it’s OVER-RIDING the most recent version because this one is the last to be opened. This is SO WRONG. It should at least ask.

When it did it the first time, I was still quite early on in the project, but it lost around 2,000 words and two whole scenes. From that moment on, at the end of each session, I made sure to compile to Word every time, email that Word file to myself, and then I saved the latest of the Scrivener files on both the desktop and the memory stick.

BUT … yesterday it did it again, and I don’t know why.

Unfortunately, I’m unable to email the latest Scrivener files to myself. Fortunately, I still had my latest compile in Word. Unfortunately, it didn’t include things that aren’t included in the compile.

I’ve got around it for now and, for now, I was able to complete this year’s NaNoWriMo, but either I’m doing something very wrong, or it’s a bug and Scrivener needs to sort it out.

Anyway, *** end of rant *** … here’s how the rest of the week went …

Wednesday 23 November 2016
Wednesday was day 23 of NaNoWriMo but it was a wrench and I gave up after only 680 words. In the afternoon, I started a new edit for a book, and we did the shopping that evening.

Thursday 24 November 2016
On Thursday, I caught up a little and wrote 1,996 words for NaNo and 684 for a blog post.  I continued with the new edit, and I popped in to see the neighbours as I’ve not seen them for ages and had a few minutes to spare … I think I was down there for around an hour in the end …

Friday 25 November 2016
On Friday, I caught up some more and wrote 2,019 words for NaNo. I did some more editing (it’s not an easy edit), and I raised an invoice (hurrah!).

Weekend
On Saturday, I wrote 1,726 words for NaNo. But we had a very long day on Sunday visiting and ferrying parents, and by the time we got home, I was very tired. Before we knew it, it was bedtime and – for the first time this year – I forgot to do my NaNo.

Monday 27 November 2016
First job on Monday was Sunday’s NaNo, and I wrote 1,710 words. Then I wrote 506 words for a blog post, added 277 words to Diary of a Scaredy Cat, and then wrote 1,810 words for Monday’s NaNo. I felt very smug by the end of Monday, especially as I also managed more editing.

Tuesday 29 November 2016
On Tuesday I wrote 1,514 words for NaNo, but I was definitely running out of steam. I think the only thing keeping me going was sight of the finish line. I also did some admin. With NaNo soon to be over, I’ll be starting work on short material again and the record files were all over the place, and markets information needed updating. I also continued with the sticky edit.

Homework w/c 30 November 2016
We already know that I finished NaNoWriMo and the thing I’m looking forward to the most is writing something different. I will finish the loose ends of Catch the Rainbow, but as there are “modern day” scenes in this otherwise historical story that feature Marcie Craig and that were very, very easy to write, I’m itching to get back to her next story, The Beast Within, which is the immediate sequel to Night Crawler.

(Although the scenes in Catch the Rainbow happen in between the two stories … and also, a character that features quite heavily in The Beast Within made his first appearance in Catch the Rainbow too, but in the historical part.)

Thursday 1 December will be new month admin day, and then I want to shift some short stories, get those out earning their keep. I had one rejection during NaNo, and I’d like to apply the suggestions before sending that one on its way again.

Our hens arrive at the weekend, on Saturday, so we’ll be busy with those. And the poet has his first gig in over a month that night.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 23 November 2016

Oops a daisy, a day late – and it was all going so well … well, of a fashion.

I’ve been mostly doing NaNoWriMo, but also clearing a proofreading job. I hadn’t realised the deadline was this Thursday, I thought it was Friday. So it’s a good job I checked. As it was, I delivered it last night (Wednesday), so it was early/on time-ish. And I was having a bit of a breather, a bit of a potter, a bit of a popping-in-to-see-the-neighbour. But that was this morning, Thursday, and now we have to pretend it’s yesterday – Wednesday.

Wednesday 16 November 2016
Wednesday was day 16 of NaNoWriMo and, until yesterday (this  Wednesday), I was doing quite well. I wrote 1,751 words for NaNo and I wrote 961 words for a blog post.

In the afternoon I edited a long short story, 10,000 words, and got that delivered.

Wednesday evening was band practice, so I did the shopping.

Thursday 17 November 2016
On Thursday, I wrote 1,772 words for NaNoWriMo in the morning, and I started the proofreading job that I delivered yesterday in the afternoon. I also did gig list admin but “diary work” has now moved to Tuesdays.

Friday 18 November 2016
On Friday, I wrote 687 words for a blog post, I wrote 1,715 words for NaNoWriMo, and I raised an invoice (hurrah!). I had an early finish today, though, as we both had hair appointments at 4pm.

Long weekend
On Saturday, I wrote 1,717 words for NaNoWriMo. We decided to stay in for the rest of the day and potter around the house and garden.

On Sunday, I wrote 1,712 words for NaNoWriMo.

Monday 21 November 2016
On Monday morning, I wrote 575 words of a blog post and I wrote 1,714 words for NaNo.

The afternoon was spent “meal planning” as we’ve started a new diet. As I was about to print off some recipes and a meal plan, however, the printer packed up. It was asking for a new imaging unit and refused to budge, but some online research proved that this could cost up to £90 (apx $112).

The printer is just under 2 years old, and some more research told us that this particular printer is designed to switch off at 5,000 copies – no warning, no time to do it, it just went. But some more research told us we could repair and reset it ourselves, so we thought we’d try that first before shelling out for a new printer. They’re so cheap now it wouldn’t have been worth buying a new imaging unit.

Tuesday 22 November 2016
On Tuesday NaNo started to slow down. I was running out of steam and each new word was like pulling teeth. However, I managed 1,650 words before calling it a day.

I was in receipt of a new hen house by 9am. We’re rescuing 6 caged hens at the end of their commercial lives and they’re coming on 3 December.

The afternoon was spent on the proofreading job that I thought didn’t have to be in until this Friday. It was Tuesday that I discovered the deadline was actually Thursday, so I cracked on with that.

The poet nipped out in his lunch break to find the part we needed for the printer. It cost him 9p (apx 11c), so he bought 2 just to be on the safe side … When he got home, he did the business, reset the page counter and removed the grossly expensive part and … voila! The printer worked! And it was better than it was before. So there’s another 5,000 pages I have before it blows again.

Homework w/c 23 November 2016
If I can keep going, I still have NaNoWriMo until 30 November. This afternoon (Thursday) I start a new edit, a book this time. That should be done by early next week. I also have another invoice to raise on Friday (hurrah!). If I can keep this up, I should be able to invoice for something at least once a week. This is very good with Christmas just around the corner.

The hen house will be built tomorrow (Friday), if the poet manages to get a day off. And we’ll be swotting up on keeping chickens before our ladies arrive.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 16 November 2016

I seem to be getting the hang of this working and ticking things off lark. I can only put this current surge down to NaNoWriMo and the discipline it’s giving me. I’m writing on usual days off, and I’m forcing myself to write my day’s quota at the end of the day if I haven’t already done it. This is all good, and long may it continue.

This morning I spent a few minutes updating my diary for the next few weeks, as I have plenty of work in to fill the “client” slots. I’ve filled in the “NaNoWriMo” slots to the end of the month, and replaced them with “writing work” from 1 December. I also have a slot in on 1 December for “new month admin”. Three times a week from 1 December I have “study work”, and twice a week I have “job-search work” – I do like to keep on top of this because you never know when a client might suddenly pull the rug out from beneath your feet.

The biggest thing I changed, for me, is “daily competitions” to “housework” and “weekly clicks-to-win” have simply been removed, with the usual week’s admin chores re-jigged slightly. Yes, yes, yes, I know I removed the “housework” sections before. But it still has to be done and if I don’t allocate time to it, it creeps into my work time. So, as I’ve not won anything for a while, and as I’ve never won a thing on the clicks-to-win, housework has been moved back to those daily slots, and the admin has been spread out a little more evenly.

Wednesday 9 November 2016
Wednesday was day 9 of NaNoWriMo. Have you been watching my little Writertopia man? Did you keep an eye on the word-count meters at all? I wrote 1,737 words for NaNo, I wrote 493 words for a blog post, and I added 818 words to Diary of a Scaredy Cat. I didn’t do any editing because the book I was waiting for hadn’t arrived yet. This is why I was able to spend extra time on Scaredy Cat.

Thursday 10 November 2016
On Thursday, I wrote 1,061 words for NaNoWriMo before the second power-cut of the week. We’d already had a massive power-cut on Tuesday evening, so this second one wasn’t such a surprise. When the lights started to flicker, however, I finished what I was doing, backed everything up and switched off.

I did a short proofreading job, and at teatime, after a quick omelette for an early tea, we went and did the weekly shopping. When we got back, we discovered that the third power-cut of the week had indeed occurred. We’d timed it perfectly.

Friday 11 November 2016
On Friday, I wrote 746 words for a blog post, and I wrote 1,686 words for NaNoWriMo. The job I was expecting to start on Wednesday still hadn’t arrived. So I read for a few hours today. I think I deserved that with all of the NaNoWriMo work I’ve been doing.

Long weekend
On Saturday, before anything else, I wrote 1,671 words for NaNoWriMo. In the afternoon we went to Leeds for the Christmas market and got there just in time for the lights to look nice in the darkness. We had about an hour-and-a-half there.

On Sunday, we drove down to Birmingham to accompany my dad for a minor medical procedure, as he needed someone to be on hand for the next 24 hours. We had a busy day, but when he went to bed early, I hauled out my notebook computer and I wrote 1,700 words for NaNoWriMo.

On Monday, we came home. We did some shopping for Dad and went to visit Mom as he didn’t feel able and, anyway, we were there and we wanted to see her. Then we came home via Doncaster and a quick visit to the mother-in-law. When we got back I got my notebook computer out again but the battery was almost flat. So I had to put it on charge. My work was on a memory stick, but if I’m working on days off or during the evening, I like to work on the notebook on my lap in the lounge. So once there was enough charge, I wrote 1,703 words for NaNoWriMo and felt very pleased with myself. *smug grin*

The work I expected last week finally arrived, but it was too late for me to do anything with by the time we got home.

Tuesday 15 November 2016
Yesterday was pretty much when I decided not to do the daily competitions anymore, or the weekly clicks-to-win. I was partway through them when I just thought, sod it!, and stopped. I then went on to write 1,737 words for NaNoWriMo, and I started a small editing job that came in ahead of the one that was expected last week – they don’t want it back for a fortnight, so as they were late coming in, I’m sneaking in a shorty in between.

Homework w/c 16 November 2016
It’s still NaNoWriMo until 30 November, so that’s pretty much what I’ll be doing every day. We may go to the York Christmas market on Saturday, and we may fit in either a gig or the pictures. But apart from that, the weekend is clear. (Hurrah!)

  • Client-wise, I have this shorty job to complete today, the late one to do as soon as I get around to it, and then another book to start after that one.
  • Writing-wise, I have the 2nd draft of a short story I’d like to complete, but it’s a long one.
  • Book-wise, I’d like to add a few more words to Diary of a Scaredy Cat.

What are you up to this week? How does your diary look? Could yours benefit from any slight re-jigging too? With a new year looming, it might be worth thinking about this now.

Diary of a freelance writer: 9 November 2016

Once again it’s been a good week, and I’ve even been writing every single day. This in itself is an achievement as I often much prefer to take the weekends off. However, it is NaNo month, and that’s helping a lot. Because it’s NaNo month, the diary might look a tad dull at times, as this is probably what I’ll be mostly working on. It is adding words to Catch the Rainbow, though.

Wednesday 2 November 2016
Wednesday was day 2 of NaNoWriMo and for those who haven’t seen my little Writertopia man, I wrote 1,703 words. I also wrote 923 words for a blog post, and I continued editing a book for a client.

Thursday 3 November 2016
On Thursday, I wrote 1,688 words for NaNoWriMo, and I continued with the edit.

Friday 4 November 2016
On Friday, I wrote 479 words for a blog post, and I wrote 1,692 words for NaNoWriMo. I finished the hard copy edit of the book and started the electronic copy edit.

Weekend
On Saturday, we went for a walk around Clayton West village. We’d looked at the weather and decided that Saturday was the best day. When we got back I wrote 1,752 words for NaNoWriMo and was very pleased with myself. We were supposed to be going to a bonfire, but the bad weather had already arrived and we were snuggled up all warm and cosy. The poet made pasta for tea. He also made bread.

On Sunday, we watched the rain and I wrote 1,803 words for NaNoWriMo – my best day so far.

Monday 7 November 2016
On Monday, I wrote 272 words for a blog post and I wrote 1,592 words for NaNoWriMo – my worst day so far. But I didn’t beat myself up because I’ve been over every single day to date. I finished the electronic edit on the book and delivered it

Tuesday 8 November 2016
Tuesday was very, very cold in the house. I couldn’t get the place to warm up at all. So I did my usual daily admin stuff at the desk, then I closed all the doors, made sure the living room at least was warm enough, and I snuggled up among the throws with my notebook computer on my lap and pecked away at NaNo. I’d saved my working files to a memory stick as well as my word-count tracker, and was able to plug that into the notebook and work. I’m delighted to say I managed a very respectable 1,740 words.

Homework w/c 9 November 2016
It’s still NaNoWriMo until 30 November, so that’s pretty much what I’ll be doing every day. We hope to be at the Leeds Christmas market on Saturday, Birmingham on Sunday and Doncaster on Monday. In between, I have a new book in to proofread and I want to do more writing work on short stories. If it gets cold again, I’ll work on the notebook again. And the notebook will come with us to Birmingham so I can still do my NaNoWriMo while we’re there.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 2 November 2016

It’s been a MUCH better week for me work-wise. Perhaps finally I can get back into things and be more productive and more successful.

A much shorter diary this time! 🙂

Wednesday 26 October 2016
Wednesday was a good day. I wrote a whopping 1,811 words just for one blog (this one), and this will be going towards another collection in the future, which is why I count them.

I also pitched for 2 proofreading or editing jobs. And I started my tax return.

On the evening while Monkey Dust had band practice, I did our weekly shopping. This saves us so much time, freeing up days at the weekend to do more, erm, “research” trips.

Thursday 27 October 2016
Thursday is gig list admin day and this time I not only remembered to schedule a post, but I scheduled it a day early!

I did some Scrivener admin. I think I have the hang of this now and am setting up templates the way I like them so that they export to Word without too much work at the other end.

I finished the tax return, and I had an email from lovely-already-boss asking if I wanted any more work and to chase him if he forgets to send any. (Note to self: Chase lovely-already-boss! 😉 )

Friday 28 October 2016
Friday was a short day. I always finish earlier on a Friday now. But not before I’d raised an invoice (hurrah!) and done some more Scrivener admin. I pretty much decided what I was doing for NaNoWriMo this year (I’m being a rebel), so I wanted to get Scrivener *and* Catch the Rainbow ready for that.

We finished slightly earlier today than usual on a Friday as we were off to Birmingham again to collect the replacement glass unit for the cat-flap. Everyone will be pleased to know that it fit this time!

On the way to Birmingham we posted my tax return by special delivery, and on the way home we also dropped in to see both lots of parents.

Weekend
On Saturday the poet transferred the actual cat-flap from the one double-glazed unit into the other one and then fitted it in the door. It was our friend’s birthday and Monkey Dust had a gig on the evening.

On Sunday we managed our first walk in a looooooonnnnnnggggg time. It was supposed to be only a mile or so, but was actually just over 3 miles. And, actually, we were quite pleased with ourselves.

Monday 31 October 2016
Monday morning was busy with various visitors coming to see me, so that disrupted work time a little. However, I still managed to write 416 words for a blog post.

During the afternoon the poet had a hospital check-up following his scare over the summer. And we’re delighted to know that there was nothing serious or sinister going on. It seems he had a chronic attack of sinusitis and the infection spread from his sinuses to his ear to his eye and to his brain. No lasting damage and all cleared up now, apart from the usual flare-up he tends to get. But we’re to keep an eye on it if he gets particularly blocked again.

It was Halloween, but living at the end of a track on an isolated farm meant we had NO trick-or-treaters. This is good because we both agree that it’s an overseas tradition that seems to have crept in over here, and as we’re both quite traditionally English, that was fine by us. Not that I’ve ever minded having a house full of sweets, but we would have ended up with ALL of them this time.

Tuesday 1 November 2016
Tuesday was the first day of NaNoWriMo 2016, and a very productive and surprising day for me.

The day started with new month admin, which I really need to start scheduling into the diary. I usually start two new threads each month for the Seriously Serious Scribes, but with NaNoWriMo this month, I had an extra thread to start and an extra announcement to pin to the top.

I also created the new month page on my tracker spreadsheet, and had to come up with two word-count targets, one for NaNo and one for other writing stuff. I’m being cautious on the “other” as NaNo might drain the creative well a little. So my daily target (every day) for NaNo is 1,667 words and my daily target (every working day) for “other” is 500. That’s a total target of 60,500 words for November …

… I’ll pause a moment while we all take that in …

Anyway, the eagle-eyed amongst us will have seen that I managed 1,689 words for NaNo (hurrah!), and I also managed 586 words for “other” (hurrah!).

My Outlook fell over on Tuesday too and wouldn’t load. So I spent some time investigating what had gone on there, and tried 3 recommended fixes … the third one worked. I needed to reset my navigation pane, apparently. But that was another unscheduled chore I finished.

I use Outlook for my to-do list and for reminders at the end of each hourly segment. It also reminds me to go and make a cup of tea every so often and also take a dinner break.

Homework w/c 2 November 2016
This week’s homework, then, is mostly NaNoWriMo and whatever other writing I have to do in between. I have one book to edit already in and another one due early next week. And, of course, I have to chase lovely-already-boss.

I don’t think there are any scheduled interruptions for the following week, but I never rule them out.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 26 October 2016

shield-nano-blue-brown-rgb-hires

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

Okay, it’s not been as long as I thought … okay, it’s been three weeks, but at least the last diary was in October and we’re still in October, so that’s not too bad at all. Is it?

Oh, but it’s been very, very busy, and not a lot of writing work to report. It’s mostly been editing work. I had that much work in that I needed to get my head down and blitz a load.

Thankfully, the pressure is off again now. It was too much work for too little pay that they couldn’t really afford anyway, and my own work was suffering. Very badly.

Now, however, I have a little money in the bank, a lot of money owed, and enough work to keep me happy while still doing my own work.

AND … the big news is – I CAN NOW DO NANOWRIMO! (Hurrah!)

So, what have I been doing?

Wednesday 5 October 2016
(See, I told you it was still in October!)

On the first Wednesday, three weeks ago, I apparently wrote quite a large blog – 1,117 words-worth. I also apparently did some writing work for the following new books:

  • Diary of a Freelance Writer
  • Diary of a Freelance Writer book 2
  • Diary of a Scaredy Cat: a year in the life of a frightened writer

Erm, do you see a theme here?

The first one of those likely to be ready is, in fact, the 3rd one. This one follows my first full year, 2014 – 2015, trying to get back into the swing of being a full-time freelance writer again. I was very scared, afraid to lose the safety net of regular editing work, and almost totally lacking in confidence again. But with the full support of the poet I did it, and this book follows those first months.

The next book to be ready will be the first one on the list, and this is where I got a bit more professional. This one is September 2015 – August 2016. The final one (at the moment) follows on from that one.

These three books will form volumes in my new writers’ guides series. I decided to cash in on all those years freelancing and teaching creative writing, from the 1980s to the present day, and put them all in a book. But one book would have been far too fat, so they’re being split down into smaller chunks with, maybe, omnibuses available in the future.

Also on that first Wednesday, it seems I wrote 799 words for Catch the Rainbow. And in the afternoon I have “editing work”, but it doesn’t say who for …

Thursday 6 October 2016
On the Thursday I added 1,082 words to Diary of a Scaredy Cat. The book is collated from the old diary over on Baggins Bottom. But it will be tidied up and it includes exercises that go with whatever I was doing that particular week, so the reader can join in too.

I also hand-wrote 767 words for Catch the Rainbow, and I edited 77 pages of a book for lovely-already-boss. (He’s not going anywhere!)

Friday 7 October 2016
Friday, I think, was the last of normality for a while. I added 971 words to Diary of a Scaredy Cat, I typed 949 words for Catch the Rainbow, and I hand-wrote a further 483 words for Catch the Rainbow too. Incidentally, only the typed words get added to the overall word-count, which you can follow on the word meter in the side bar. You can also follow the progress of my other full-length projects on here too.

What I’ve decided to do with Catch the Rainbow is get everything that’s handwritten onto Scrivener. Then, I want to spend one day writing new material by hand, and the following day typing that up, and follow that (on the same following day) with the next hand-written session. I thought I was at that stage, but when I checked one of my other notebooks, there were loads and loads of new scenes.

Transferring the work to computer on a daily basis reminds me of where I am in the book (and hopefully where I was going), plus it gives me a second immediate edit, although this edit invariably adds words.

On the Friday afternoon, I finished the edit for lovely-already-boss … and so ended life as I knew it for a week or so …

Weekend
All I have in the diary for that weekend is a Monkey Dust gig on the Saturday and a trip to Birmingham, via Doncaster, on the Sunday. I think that was the day we took my mother-in-law to meet my mom for the first time.

Monday 10 – Friday 14 October 2016
I’m not going to bore everyone with a repeat of the same thing every day for this week. Instead I’ll just mention it here.

The mornings were still admin and housework for a couple of hours. Then all of my “writing work” and “study work” sessions have crosses next to them. I started to edit a particularly large job for the retainer client, but as the retainer hadn’t yet been set-up, this would be invoiced as usual – just like all the others to date.

On the Wednesday we had band practice and I did the shopping, and on Thursday morning I added gig list admin to the list of chores.

Weekend
Apart from a gig on Saturday night, we had the weekend off. (Hurrah!) Although we don’t class it as a weekend off as we’re still tied to a gig.

However, while I worked OVERTIME on the big edit, the poet made a new step for the deck outside the conservatory. The new unit in the conservatory door with a cat-flap in was due on Tuesday, but we needed the step so the cats can reach it from the outside.

He also made bread that day, and on the Sunday he made pasta for the first time with the new toy I’d treated him to (a pasta machine!). And it was very nice, just like proper pasta and everything!

Monday 17 October 2016
On the Monday we had a day off from work and went to Birmingham to collect the new unit with the cat-flap in. We had to go down a day early but it was already ready so that was fine.

We also popped in to see my parents as my dad wasn’t very well (the doctor gave him a flu jab the previous week and now he had … flu!) and it was his birthday the following day. It was great to see me ol’ muckas at Shard End Glass and as if no time had passed at all.

Tuesday 18 October 2016
Tuesday  was also a day off from work. We’d originally planned to be in Birmingham, but now the poet was able to concentrate on fitting the new unit … only it didn’t fit. My measurements were questioned at the time of ordering and changed by … him. But, actually, my measurements were correct … so I made him ring them up and place the new order. We’re picking that one up this Friday …

On Monday night I broke a tooth and a filling came out. At 3pm on Tuesday we went to the dentist to get it fixed.

Wednesday 19 October 2016
On Wednesday I intended to get back into the swing of things, I really did … but then the internet fell over on my computer. I spent the day trying to find out what was wrong, and it turned out to be an automatic update from Windows 10 that didn’t recognise my WiFi. To say I was furious is an understatement.

The day was therefore spent backing up all of my critical data and making notes of all the software I’ve downloaded. Then I had to reinstall my computer with factory settings, which took me back to Windows 8 (which I’m keeping, by the way). And then I had to load all of my new drivers and new software again, requesting or finding serial numbers where I could.

The bonus of this is my Office updated to Office 2016, and it’s a lot cleaner and less cluttered than the shower I had before. Again, apparently, Windows 10 doesn’t agree with much of the old Office 365 and I was having all sorts of problems with that, especially with tracked changes on Word.

Also on Wednesday, my new filling fell out again.

Thursday 20 October 2016
On Thursday I really was back in the saddle. I did the usual chores, fitted in another trip to the dentist, managed the gig list admin, and I started a new edit for the no-show-retainer client.

Friday 21 October 2016
By Friday I was writing again and I wrote 1,046 words for Catch the Rainbow. I raised 2 invoices (hurrah!), and I continued with the new edit.

Weekend
On Saturday, the only thing in the diary is a Monkey Dust gig, a private party this time that the mother-in-law came to and where I met quite a few of his old school and village friends.

On Sunday I did some writing! I started a short story and wrote 590 words. I don’t usually work at the weekends, but I may do for NaNo this year, so maybe it was good practice.

Monday 24 October 2016
Okay, Monday was the day I found out the retainer-client couldn’t actually afford me, despite not starting the retainer yet anyway. So I downed tools. I really, really do not work for nothing.

Instead, I got back onto the job boards but only pitched for 5 proofreading or editing jobs, I pitched for a private proofreading job, and I contacted 10 publishers to see if they’re looking for copy-editors. I won the private job and, so far, have had 2 hits from the publishers.

I suppose the moral of this particular story is to stick to the hours you agree to give to someone else and keep the hours for your own work to yourself. I’ve hardly done any of my own work over the past two weeks, and that means my writing to-do list is stacking up again.

I did finish the first draft of the new short story, though, writing an additional 271 words.

Tuesday 25 October 2016
Yesterday I pitched for one new job and I completed the one I won the day before.

Homework w/c 26 October 2016
Today, then, I’ll be setting up my new binder on Scrivener for NaNoWriMo. I also have my tax return to complete for 2015 – 2016. Tut-tut, I’m usually so much more organised on that by now, but when the year ended, we were in the midst of another house-move.

For the rest of the week I’ll be typing up the rest of those handwritten words into Scrivener for Catch the Rainbow, I’ll get on top of the short material schedule again, and I’m planning my NaNo project – although at the time of writing, I haven’t decided whether to be a NaNo rebel and work on something existing, or whether to start another brand new project.

What would you do?

Diary of a freelance writer: 5 October 2016

So this week, there were TWO disturbances. The first one on Thursday, when the internet fell over. The second was on Tuesday, when my new mobile phone arrived and I just *had* to set that up exactly how I like it. It has to be said that “not much work” was done during those 2 periods. However …

Wednesday 28 September 2016
On Wednesday, I wrote 1,012 words for a blog post. I completed the revision of the BCJ course, Tutorials 9 and 10, and I wrote a massive 23 words in that process.

In the afternoon I spent a second writing slot this week gazing at a blank page for a short story. The outline page was done in one notebook, and I’d really broke the back with the writing part in another notebook by writing the date and the title with “#1” at the start meaning “draft 1”. I managed 31 words in all before giving up and moving on to Catch the Rainbow, for which I wrote 444 words … before getting totally distracted.

When I’m writing this book if I hit a brick wall, research-wise, I *do* quickly Google the fact before moving swiftly on … however, on Wednesday I got carried away when I found some old photographs of Birmingham on the internet that I might be on or even some of my friends. I know we were there. I was supposed to be checking what 2 pubs looked like in 1974 and ended up in 1983. I gave myself a good kick up the bum and tore myself away from the internet again …

… only to nip back on to see if Birmingham City FC were playing on a specific day. Not only did they play, but they also won 3 – 1, against Liverpool FC. And they were, at that time, in the top division of English football. (I’m a BCFC fan.) So that added some authenticity before I wrapped up for the day.

Time was also spent looking at my Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham & Suburbs, 1973-4 CD as I had my main character shopping in some specific shops … that turned out not to be where I thought they were in 1974. So I moved the locations and shops in the story to suit the directory. I hope it was up to date, because someone somewhere will know if I’ve made a mistake as it’s still very much within living memory.

Thursday 29 September 2016
Thursday was the first of my “down” periods. I’d noticed the phone landline wasn’t working properly and started off by trying to fix that. I couldn’t get any cables to work, though, and we decided it might be a faulty phone, despite it being brand new.

Then the internet fell over. We noticed that not while I was supposed to be working, but while we were trying to watch television on Sky catch-up the previous evening. We reported a possible fault at around 9:30pm the previous day, and Sky confirmed that yes, there was in fact an external fault.

I don’t know about you, but if I know my internet isn’t working, I’m blummin’ rubbish at work stuff. This is a discipline I need to work on.

Friday 23 September 2016
On Friday the phone and the internet came back on at around 1pm. I knew this because the telephone engineer called the landline to tell me and it worked. Apparently a tree had grown close enough to the overhead cables to damage the line that our number was on. Luckily, there was a spare line, and the engineer moved us to that one. But he needed to report the tree as they’d have to locate the owner before they could arrange to cut it back and replace the line. The line that we’re now on has meant a much more stable internet, but the phone line at our end at least is very crackly. People at the other end, however, have assured met hey can hear me loud and clear!

I was much better today, and I did manage to write 1,511 words for Catch the Rainbow before an early finish and a trip to Doncaster with the poet and his mom. When we got home, we closed the gate and didn’t open it again until Monday morning.

Weekend
On Saturday, we enjoyed a glorious lie-in. When we finally emerged, at gone noon, the poet baked 2 loaves of bread and he made fishcakes for tea.

On Sunday, we were up earlier. We put the garden to bed for the winter, bringing in the cacti and putting the parasol, rotary washing line and portable barbecue in the shed. The poet made a much-needed shoe-rack with offcuts of wood and he cut the grass, hopefully for the last time this year. I baked a cake and we slow-cooked a lamb-shank. Then while I read a book (Robert Goddard, Beyond Recall, I LOVE Robert Goddard and wish I could write like he does), the poet went off to chuck fluff at the river for an hour (aka fly-fishing – he caught one).

This was our last weekend off for 4 weeks, which is why we wanted to make the most of it.

Monday 3 October 2016
On Monday I was able to do some of the things I couldn’t do on Thursday and Friday, such as gig list admin, chase an invoice and raise a new invoice and send it.

I wrote 1,060 words for Catch the Rainbow, I created a new tracking spreadsheet for the new month, I did some tidying up on Trello (online T-cards), and I ordered a new catflap and a new pane of toughened double-glazed glass to put it in. For this I contacted one of my old favourite and very reliable sub-contractors in my building maintenance days at Birmingham City Council, Shard End Glass. (I’m going back 30 years.)

Tuesday 4 October 2016
Yesterday was new phone day. So beyond a bit of admin in the morning before it arrived, much of the rest of the day was spent faffing with said new phone. I also ordered a new case for it.

I was delighted when both invoices chased or raised on Monday were paid today, one of them 6 days early!

Yesterday evening we did our weekly shopping.

Homework w/c 5 October 2016
My homework for the coming week will still be daily writing towards Catch the Rainbow. I also have 2 books I want to crack on with editing for 2 different clients. With the new phone, I can now continue with mapping dog walks (MapMyWalk doesn’t work on the Windows phone I was using until my new phone arrived). That means the fitness regime will start again – today. Next week I also want to get on with the study work again. All of these things have been neglected these past few days.

What are you up to this week?