A week of ups and downs

It’s been a week of ups and downs this week, and a very busy one as a result. But there’s some good news in here too. Some very good news.

The week started well with me cracking on with another big editing job. It was actually due in the previous day, Sunday. But I warned the “handler” at the publisher that it might be a few days over as I had some last minute queries. I promised her that the author would have it back by the end of Wednesday, or Thursday at the latest.

On Tuesday I had technological gremlins. First of all my desktop, when I switched it on, went into an automatic repair … Uh? I didn’t even know it was broken! But this auto-repair went into loop and I had to over-ride it in the end to try and boot it up in safe mode.

But it wouldn’t let me boot up in safe mode either. And after that also went into loop, I over-rode it again and decided to restore to an earlier date. Of course, my heart dropped at that as I thought there was bound to be a load of critical data now lost (that I’d have to retrieve from backup), and I thought I’d have to reload all of my preferences and software, etc.

The restore date was actually 1am on Monday 17 July … and I hadn’t done any work on the pc at all on Monday. So this was very good news. The system restore took some time, but we got there in the end.

I settled down to some work, and then took the Kindle Fire into the conservatory to work in there … and the Kindle Fire also went into loop, trying to collect emails from my Yahoo account.

In the end I had to ask Kindle to call me and log a call. I spent half an hour with the lady there who had to pass me to someone else in the end as it was a fix she couldn’t do … and when the someone else came on, it turned out there was a known issue on the Kindle email app! And nothing to do with my Kindle or my Yahoo at all.

So we removed the Kindle email app and installed the Yahoo Mail app instead – and all is working well again.

I lost a lot of time on Tuesday, and I was already behind on that editing job … so I worked overtime on Tuesday evening.

And when I came to switch off for the day, I found that Word had lost ALL of my edits, despite having auto-backup and saving at the end of each page!

Meanwhile, last Thursday I’d dropped a book proposal in to the publishers I edit for. It was a history of a very big confectionery company … and I included samples. The samples went down so well that the commissioning person there shared it on Facebook, giving me full marks for making it stand out! (I’d been dropping this book proposal in for three weeks, but we kept on eating the samples … so this time I went straight from the supermarket …)

At 6:23am on Wednesday, an email came in from the commissioning person … with a formal contract offer! Wahey!  And had I not been so busy trying to catch up with the editing job, Wednesday might have passed in a very smug cloud of contentment.

The rest of Wednesday morning went by in a whirl as emails – and the contract – bounced back and forth. And I asked if lovely-already-boss could be my handler, as we’ve sort of worked together for almost as long as he’s been there and definitely as long as I’ve been working for them.

Wednesday afternoon I needed to pull myself together and crack on with that edit and redo everything that had been lost the day before … I also had some proofs in by now that also needed to be back by Friday. [Gulp!]

At 9am on Thursday the phone rang … and I didn’t come off the phone again until midday. I was still in my dressing gown, and I hadn’t even had a cup of tea let alone any breakfast. It was all very important personal stuff, but DIDN’T THEY KNOW I HAD DEADLINES?!

By the time we finished, I had something to eat and then battened down the hatches. I had to finish the edit, and I had to finish the proofreading too. AND I had a contract to read and sign.

I did it, though. By the time the poet had cooked us beans on toast for tea and was ready to go to band practice, I’d done all three jobs: I’d finished the edit and sent it back to the author; I’d checked the proofs and packaged them for the handler; and I’d read, altered, initialled and signed the contract and packaged that up to go back too.

Then I dropped the poet off at band practice, did the weekly shopping, collected him again, and hand-delivered the proofreading and the book contract. Phew!

I’m taking today off!

How has your week been?

I found my writing mojo

This time last week I was feeling a bit annoyed with myself. I’d not done any proper work for a few weeks. So I pulled up my socks and gave myself a kick up the bum.

Tasks and chores around the house are taking longer and longer. What used to be allocated an odd ten minutes here and there is now taking the entire morning – and mornings are my own writing sessions.

So the first thing I did was re-allocate just two hours each day to this. It’s not good enough, though, and I’m thinking of going back to ten-minute bursts as I finish a story or an outline or a thousand words or a chapter or something.

The next job of the week was to update the diary, something I usually do on a Thursday, including this two-hour housework session – but it’s still encroaching on my working day, something that wouldn’t happen if I went *out* to work – I’d have to do it all of an evening instead, so this really, really needs revisiting.

And then I managed some writing! I wrote the blog post and I did my think/query/write/submit work. Plus I updated my Trello T-card system.

On Tuesday I managed some creative writing course work and I wrote another blog post.

Wednesday was my best day last week (Monday and Tuesday I had appointments, one outside the house and one inside the house), and I typed up the final draft of quite a long short story (for me), coming in at just over 3,400 words. That’s going to need a bit of trimming before it goes off to my targeted market.

I also wrote three more blog posts on Wednesday, including one scheduled for Thursday and one for Friday.

And then I knuckled down to try and clear an editing job. It’s not a particularly hard editing job, it’s just a bit … dull, and I keep getting distracted. I’ll be continuing with this one this week as I really need to get the invoice out the door. But I might print off the next one and maybe alternate the two.

Jobs this week include finishing the current edit and starting a new one, and I have one to proof due in by the end of the week too. I still need to write my book proposal, before they forget about me. And I’d like to do a bit more on the short material, so that I have something out there hopefully earning its keep.

What are you up to this week?

Having a splurge

I seem to be having a mid-week writing splurge – and long may it last.

I’ve been very busy editing a heavy book, but I finished it and sent the queries back to the author. It did take longer than I thought it would, though. I’d hoped it would take around a week and it took the best part of two weeks. I was so determined to finish it that I worked until 10pm on Monday night.

It’s done now, though, so I have a free conscience.

On Tuesday I wrote a blog post for Baggins Bottom, then I checked through the revisions on an earlier book I’d edited, and Tuesday evening we nipped out and delivered that to the publisher by hand. I also started the next edit for the same publisher, and continued with that into yesterday.

Last night we prepared the two cars for going back to the showroom. I’m over the moon about my new car as we were able to stretch to a larger deposit on the Zetec after all and bring it to within the cost of the Studio. Things will still be incredibly tight, but I’m very excited – I’ve been waiting for this car since 2011, remember.

Anyway, we cleared out all the rubbish that needed to go straight in the bin, all the stuff we want to go into the new cars, and all the stuff we want to go back into the house. At the end of it, in the current heatwave, we both needed a nice relaxing bath each.

I had my bath first, and while he had his, I hauled out my notebook computer, opened up Scrivener, sat on the bed and started to make character and setting notes for The Fool, which is the first Stevie Tarot novel. I wrote over 1,000 words in all.

Today, I’m taking a break from editing and shifting some of my own stuff instead. I’ve already done an hour of creative writing study, which is my writing exercise every day now. I’ve done one blog post too plus, of course, there’s this one currently underway.

I also wrote draft 1 of a short story, and then I’m writing draft 2 of a different story.

If all goes well, I’ll try and write 500 words of the cat-rom too. But I’m packing up a little earlier today as the poet has band practice, before that we’re nipping in to see his mum, and then while he’s with the band I’ll be doing the week’s shopping.

Tomorrow we pick up our new cars. I’m so excited!

Update

Once again I have been very busy and I’ve neglected both of my blogs. I’m waaaay behind on my 52 books in 52 weeks, but I *am* still reading them, I *am*still digesting them. And there’s another finished one I’m about ready to review too.

I’m trying to get a bit of cash in, though. There are a few things I’d like to clear and I’m looking at buying a new car – this is the new car I’ve been promising myself since 2011, when I was going to get a VW Golf (Rabbit), and then lost my editing job.

But I’m getting a Ford Ka instead.

Now, I’ve always steered clear of the Ka as it’s always been a bit … dinky. But when we went to look at a new car for the poet last week, we both gasped with shock when we saw the new Ka+. It’s MASSIVE. In fact, it’s more like the old Fiesta than the current Fiesta is, which is actually more like a Focus these days.

And the upshot is … one new car has become two new cars (he’s having another Focus). I’m not getting the top-of-the-range model that I wanted, though. Instead, for now, I’m getting the basic model as the finance is just a bit easier to manage – or that’s the plan at least. But it does mean we need a few more “readies”, and that means I need to do a bit more guaranteed paid work.

My dad’s coming to visit at the end of the month, and I’d like to take some time off with him. And I have to go into hospital for a very minor, routine, no-worry procedure – well, I don’t even *have* to go in, but I think I will. Plus we have holiday coming up too. And this all means time away from the desk, so time *at* the desk is now suddenly at a premium.

I do have three books in to edit and one to proofread, and those must take priority.

However, I’ve been trying to write something of my own every day. This has mostly been at least a Teach Yourself creative writing course I’m doing just to keep the writing muscle exercised. The target for this is an hour a day, and I even set a timer. The problem is, though, the exercises keep giving me lots of new ideas – so many ideas, so little time!

At best, I’ve also been pantsing a new novel. Well, I say “new”, but it is, in fact, a very old idea that keeps resurfacing. My target for this is 500 words per session.

On top of this, I’m planning a new novel too, and I have two NaNoWriMo projects (2015 and 2017) to edit/rewrite/polish.

And then! One of the books I’m editing gave me the glimmer of an idea for a book of my own, and then another, and then another. And then I got a glimmer for another set of three! This is what happens when I exercise that writing muscle. They keep on coming.

Anyway, I tentatively pitched the first series of three books to my favourite editing client to see if (a) they already have something in the pipeline, (b) they already have something on the topic(s), and (c) they’re interested in *me* subbing a full-blown book proposal …and they said No, No, and YES!

Because, like, I could always do with the work! But at least, at this stage, it’s a better chance of a paid writing gig.

With all of this, and with me squeezing in the odd short story or article pitch here and there, I’m hoping the cash will soon start to drift in.

So … that’s what I’ve been doing and what I’ll continue to do for some time to come. What have you been up to?

PS I think we need a new ideas masterclass, so watch out for one of those in the coming weeks as well.

I’ve been busy …

Aside from being very busy publishing books (more on this later), I’ve also been messin’ with the website.

I was in two minds whether or not to keep it as I didn’t think I could update it at all once it had been set. But today I started to play, and I discovered that I could, in fact, give it a bit of a facelift.

So this is what I’ve been busy doing today.

Please bob a long, if you have time. Have a nosy and give it a like. The link is on the picture.

Thank you!

Update

March has been a bit busy … apologies for going AWOL. Nothing has been wrong, all is well. I’ve just been really, really busy.

The month began with the tail end of an editing job finally delivered on 7 March.  It was followed almost immediately with two new editing jobs from lovely-already-boss, and a proofreading job.

The first of those editing jobs has been completed this morning and sent to the author for review (and, actually, acknowledged just this instant by said author).

Fortunately, there’s no mad rush on the other editing job, so I can whizz through the proofreading job during what’s left of this week.

Editing job #3 (for the month) will also be started later this week.

In between all of that, I started planning work on a new novel, The Fool. And in between that, I’ve tried to keep on top of the 52 books in 52 weeks writers’ guides reviews. We’re currently in week 13, though, and I’m just finishing book 10, so I still have some catching up to do there. Priority goes as usual to the paid jobs and writing work of my own.

The other major job I’ve been working away at has been finalising Diary of a Scaredy Cat. It’s taken me a few attempts to get the font size right and then to remember to put the title fonts back in and make sure all new chapters start on a facing page and update the contents page … But I think it’s there now … it has to be, as I want it released by the end of this week. So yeah, I also published a book.

The word-count meter hasn’t gone up much this month, but I still have a few days left to add to the total. That will all be more planning work on The Fool now, as I take a breather from publishing.

I had a birthday at the beginning of the month too, and one of the poet’s gifts was a lap desk, so I can work in the conservatory when it’s nice in there, or in the living room when it’s too cold at my desk. The picture is in the conservatory, and the books are for The Fool, as well as Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, another birthday present from the poet.

So that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. I hope you didn’t miss me too much, and do please come back later this week for further Scaredy Cat news!

When a new project begins

writing-bagI’m so excited, I always am when I’m about to start a new project I’ve been mulling over in my head.

The plan was to start the new project in January, but sickness in us and various members of the family put paid to that.

So then the plan moved to February, but then I received a client editing job that is taking longer than I originally imagined it would.

BUT … yesterday I submitted the author questions before I continue, and while I wait for the replies, I can finally write!

I’ve been digesting loads and loads of writing books and guides (and yes, I’m behind on the 52 books in 52 weeks again, but bear with me …), and I really have been thinking about this story for a long time, with two short stories already written featuring some of the characters. These will be manipulated to suit future omnibus short story editions once I have enough material for a complete suit …

… yes, suit. Because I’m finally starting my Stevie Tarot series, beginning with The Fool, which is the start of a new journey, a leap of faith.

The picture above shows what is currently going into the writing bag. Everyone has a writing bag, right? Anyway, from top left and working clockwise, it consists of:

  • the bag itself, bought a long time ago from Sheffield Hallam University book shop
  • my Monsters Inc pencil tin, containing pens in green, red, blue and black, a small ruler, pencils, pencil sharpener, pencil eraser, mini stapler and mini staples
  • a small book of assorted sticky tags the poet brought home for me one day a long time ago
  • tarot card no 0 – The Fool (a colour copy of this is pasted into the front of the notebook)
  • The Tarot Bible by Sarah Bartlett
  • an A5, touchy feely lined notebook from Paperchase
  • Writing and Selling your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron (I have the latest version of this book, now updated, on the Kindle)

ALL of my planning notes and maps and diagrams and pictures will go into this A5 notebook. The chapter-by-chapter breakdown, character notes, world notes, tarot notes, everything will go into this book.

When the planning stage is complete, a shorthand notebook will be added to the bag for the first draft. When I move onto another draft, an A4 notebook will be added, and a 12″ ruler. (Yes, I call it a ruler because I’m a Brummie and that’s just the way we roll.)

While I work on this, then, I’ll also be editing a hard copy of my NaNoWriMo 2015 project, Mardi Gras. At the same time I’m polishing the exercises for Diary of a Scaredy Cat. And in between all of that, I edit and proofread books for clients and I write short stories …

So tell me, how do you work?

Writer at Work- writing CATCH THE RAINBOW: characters

I’m currently typing CATCH THE RAINBOW onto Scrivener, the writing software I wish I’d discovered 30 years ago. I’m loving all of the gimmicks and gadgets that help to make the writing fun, interesting and motivating.

Yesterday I moved a few scenes around using index cards … and there they were already moved in the text part of the story too. All I had to do was change the scene numbers. I can move different scenes into different chapters at the sweep of a mouse. It’s blummin bostin!

Today, I’ve added a new character picture, using a photograph of Duane “Dog” Chapman (aka the bounty hunter). I can attach this picture to both the character index card and any chapters I’m writing where I need his image in front of me. And the index card has been duplicated, because the same character appears in a Marcie Craig story, THE BEAST WITHIN, more than 20 years later.

This character’s real name is Frankie, and the Duane Chapman image is attached to the 1974 story, CATCH THE RAINBOW. But in THE BEAST WITHIN, he looks more like Cat Weasel, and he’s now known as “Popeye”.

Here, then, for my indulgence, are some of the characters who appear in CATCH THE RAINBOW. Lenny is the main character, Jack is her best friend, Nicky and Shaun are twins, and Frankie you’ve already “met”. For fun, I’ve also included “Popeye”:

Lenny

Elaine “Lenny” Moxon (surname may change)

Shaun 1

Shaun O’Flaherty

Nicky

Nicky O’Flaherty

jack2

Jacqueline “Jack” Hardy

Popeye

Frankie

Popeye

“Popeye” (imagine him with an eye missing …)

Thank you for reading. 🙂