Diary of a freelance writer: 20 July 2016

cover green pub

Coming soon!

The news that came in last Wednesday morning has been expanded upon and added to, but as I’m still awaiting confirmation, I won’t go into detail on here yet. However, as it’s pretty likely that it will be happening, it seems, the structure of my day will probably change as of tomorrow’s diary work for next week … keep everything crossed.

Wednesday 13 July 2016
After spending almost the entire morning in complete shock, I finally had a word with myself and eventually cracked on with some work. I updated the books page on this blog and removed 2 older ones.

I wrote 628 words for a blog post, I republished 2 books on Kindle, and I worked on the covers for TALES FROM BAGGINS BOTTOM BEST BITS BOOKS THREE and FOUR.

I’d unpublished the Kindle books originally because the hard copy versions have been republished. However, as I’ve not yet republished the new Kindle books, I thought it best to put the original ones back, for now.

I currently have a complete draft of BAGGINS BOTTOM BEST BITS BOOK THREE to edit, and will be collating content for BOOK FOUR very shortly.

My first story appeared in the queue to be critiqued on Critique Circle.

Thursday 14 July 2016
By Thursday morning I’d received 8 critiques for my story. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but once 5 have been received, the stories move to a different queue to give everyone a fair chance at getting critiqued. On the whole they were all very good, very constructive and with some good suggestions and ideas. No one slated it, so either that’s a bonus or they were all being very kind.

I acknowledged and thanked and commented on all of the crits received so far and did the usual Thursday morning admin work.

In the afternoon I wrote 1,483 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW and I completed the first “Act” or “Part”, distributing 26 scenes between 12 chapters.

Friday 15 July 2016
Friday was not a productive day. I didn’t write any words, and I had an early finish for a hair appointment. We bought a birthday gift for my father-in-law and took that over to him, then did the shopping on the way home.

Weekend
On Saturday Monkey Dust had a gig in Doncaster, for a wedding. The rest of the weekend was spent pottering around the house, emptying more boxes, baking, and showing some friends around the new place.

Monday 18 July 2016
On Monday I acknowledged and replied to critiques received over the weekend. They slowed down, but as the story was still on a queue, tenacious critters were still able to read it.

I slept in late, so didn’t get as much done during the morning as I like to, but in the afternoon I created Act 2 on Scrivener for CATCH THE RAINBOW and all of the chapter and scene cards. I only wrote 714 words, but that’s my daily target to achieve 15,000 for the month, and I suspected I was already over that anyway, so didn’t beat myself up.

Tuesday 19 July 2016
Yesterday started with a bit of a mystery, the bird table had disappeared only moments after I saw one of the peacocks on top of it. The peacock was at the front of the house by the time I got downstairs, and the bird table was gone. The bird had knocked it over the edge, and it was nearly broken into 2 pieces. So I put it aside for the poet to repair when he got home from work.

I did most of my morning chores, apart from the weekly job search. Once the news takes effect, I won’t have time to do other work, so I’m weaning myself off it early – I don’t need encouragement to do that!

I didn’t write any words. It was far too hot to sit at the computer, or to do anything much. So I read and faffed for most of the day. And when I did check my monthly word-count, I was delighted to see that it was 16,937 words, already 1,937 over my target. I shan’t sit back on my laurels, though. It just means any further words from today onwards (and it’s cooler today so there will be more words) will be a bonus for the month – or I can bank them for when I take 2 weeks off in August.

Homework w/c 20 July 2016
The plan this week, then, is to start practising for the new regime. I’m hoping that very soon I’ll be writing in the mornings and editing in the afternoons, so that means no more daily surveys or weekly job searches, and not as many competition entries. When I do the diary tomorrow, I’ll be basing it on this.

This means that when I’m not working on novels, I’ll be working on short stories. When I don’t have any stories to work on, I’ll look at the article writing process. And if that’s all up to date, it’ll be non-fiction books. At some point I hope to be able to fit in some study work too, as that’s fiction writing as well.

In the afternoons I’ll be editing, and if I don’t have any client books in to edit, I’ll edit my own.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 18 May 2016

Looking back at the diary, it seems to have been a fairly good, productive week.

Wednesday 11 May 2016
The poet started his new job on Wednesday, so I had to start getting used to being up at 7am again. He was out of the house by 7:15am, though, and yes, I went back to bed. But I was up at 8am and at my desk by 9am.

After all the usual daily stuff (competitions, surveys, admin, etc), first job of the day was a chase. I’ve never, ever chased a short story submission in all of my writing career – that’s since 1985 for those who don’t know. But this was a story I initially submitted back in March as a continued break-in attempt to crack a very old market.

For the first time ever, the magazine asked me to do a re-write rather than rejected it outright. So I was very delighted with that for a start. And the very next day, naturally, the re-write was back in the post. As the story is June-themed, I thought I might need to chase it just to make sure it arrived, as the magazine is usually very quick to react to a submission with an email if it’s no good. I was a bit scared, but did in all the same, and the fiction editor responded almost immediately to say: yes, she’d received it; yes we’d missed June but not to worry about that; and yes, it’s still in her drawer.

I wrote a 456-word blog post, had a dental appointment, wrote 779 words-worth of press releases for the pro-bono project, and did some gig list admin.

We were supposed to be going to a gig in Wakefield, on comp tickets for the gig list, but as it was the poet’s first day at a new job, he didn’t feel able to finish early enough to go. So we had to send our apologies.

Thursday 12 May 2016
On Thursday, once the admin and daily stuff was done, I did some more work on the pro-bono project, did some more gig list admin – which included scheduling a post for Monday, and I did some writing

Aside from a 433-work extra blog post, I also wrote 1,820 words of a short story, draft 2.

The poet had band practice Thursday evening, so I did the shopping.

Friday 13 May 2016
Friday included a lot of admin work too. Then I wrote a 489-word blog post, and I wrote 2,491 words of a different short story, draft 3.

The poet finished work early, so that – naturally – cut my day short too.

Weekend
The weekend was the climax to our pro-bono project. There was a sponsored cycle ride last Sunday, from Doncaster to York and back. On Saturday afternoon there was a charity football match (over 30s v under 30s). And Saturday evening was the actual “bash” itself. Three bands, the Outcharms, the Kavaliers and Monkey Dust, played to a packed house. And we think we raised over £14,000 for charity, which is an excellent sum – £10,900 of which was raised by the cyclists!

On Sunday we popped up to the new house to measure for a shed and a greenhouse, and we met our lovely new neighbours, who just happen to be related to the potato farmers where we live now!

Monday 16 May 2016
I didn’t get so much done on Monday. I didn’t feel very well and went back to bed for a good hour after the poet left for work. The daily stuff always takes a bit longer after a weekend off, which is why I schedule the Monday morning gig list post now rather than make sure I get up early enough to do it.

I did manage a 324-word blog post, and I wrote 86 words of a short story outline, so not a total loss, and I still managed to write something. But I knocked off at 3pm and went downstairs to read.

When we move, I’ll no longer be working “upstairs”. The “office” will be just inside the dining room, which is just next to the kitchen, which is just next to the front door. The ideal “office” is too far away from the door, although it does overlook the front of the house. But the poet is having that for his “studio”, and we’ll no longer be sharing.

Tuesday 17 May 2016
Tuesday was another very good day.

I quickly ran off another pro-bono job of just 80 words, then I set up my binder on Scrivener for CATCH THE RAINBOW. I typed 1,174 words for that, and I wrote 1,350 words of another short story, draft 2.

After doing all of the regular daily and admin stuff, I had a spare hour. So I spent that editing BAGGINS BOTTOM BEST BITS BOOK 3. The first edit pass of that is now complete. Overall, I got it down from around 98,000 words to around 75,000 words, and I tidied it up a bit and made it consistent. The next stage will be a hard-copy edit.

Homework w/c 18 May 2016
I’m going to be good to myself this coming week and not set myself too many objectives. We get the keys to the new place on Friday and we’ll be doing work up there when we can. The garden needs a fence before the dog can come with us for a start. On Saturday we’re having a furniture delivery. We have a whole new room – the dining room/office – and have had to buy furniture for that.

On Saturday evening, Monkey Dust have a gig in Doncaster. And on Sunday we’ll be in Birmingham and Doncaster, visiting.

CATCH THE RAINBOW is now a (week) daily task, added to the others. I have 2 books of my own to continue editing (MARDI GRAS and BAGGINS BOTTOM BEST BITS BOOK 3). And I have 2 books to carry on with for lovely-already-boss.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 20 April 2016

Wahey! I seem to have made it on time this week! And what a busy week.

Wednesday 13 April 2016
On Wednesday I was back in the hot seat, trying to catch up with everything I’ve let slip. I wrote several blog posts, I did some band admin for Monkey Dust, and I edited a chapter of Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book 3.

Thursday 14 April 2016
On Thursday morning I pitched for a job and by the afternoon I’d won it. I wrote 1,059 words for a draft of a new short story. I did some gig list admin, and I completed the hard copy edit of a client’s book. On Thursday evening the poet had band practice, so I did the shopping then.

Friday 15 April 2016
On Friday I completed the job I’d won the day before (it was a very short children’s book) and I started the electronic edit of the client’s book.

Weekend
On Saturday, I completed the electronic edit of the client’s book. I don’t often work at the weekend, but I wanted this one of the desk so I could invoice for it. The poet’s band had a gig over in Doncaster Saturday evening.

On Sunday we visited the outlaws, and we went for a very short walk.

Monday 18 April 2016
First job today was to submit the book I’d finished on Saturday and get the invoice sent off. I wrote another short blog post and spent the rest of the day doing gig list admin, band admin and admin-admin.

Tuesday 19 April 2016
Yesterday we were busy having meetings and appointments again, but I did some job searching and pegged 10 jobs for further investigation.

Homework w/c 20 April 2016
I still have a lot of work to do that I didn’t manage last week. So here is a slightly updated to-do list for the coming week:

  • think/query/write/submit Nov/Oct/Sep/Aug
  • #2 short story – THE MYSTERY OF WOOLLEY DAM (draft 2)
  • #3 short story – SHAKING THE TREE (draft 3 – 1st typed draft)
  • continue editing BAGGINS BOTTOM BEST BITS BOOK 3
  • continue transferring to Scrivener CATCH THE RAINBOW

And I still have to reinstall those word-count meters …

What have you been up to this week?

Catch the Rainbow

Whilst editing Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book 3, I came across this post (now no longer available online). As it sums up exactly what Catch the Rainbow is all about, I’m going to leave it here for now, as a taster and to remind me …

Catch the Rainbow
31 March 2007

On 21 November 1974, explosions ripped through 2 city centre pubs in Birmingham, killing 21, and everyone blamed the IRA. After the initial shock wore off there was outrage – why Birmingham, why us, why when there’s such a big Irish community here? – and then a witch hunt. During this witch hunt, some Irish people dropped their accents, kangaroo courts tried and strung up people at work, the Irish were shunned, and a gross miscarriage of justice took place, stealing the lives of 6 men for the next 2 decades. The IRA never claimed responsibility for the Birmingham pub bombings*, the 6 men (who were kidnapped by the police, imprisoned, tortured, beaten, charged, tried, convicted – and released 16 years later) never admitted responsibility, apart from under duress. The people who actually left the bombs walked way Scot free. And yes, an IRA bomb warning had been received, but at the tax office …

I do not have the talent, the experience nor the stamina to write a story about the Birmingham pub bombings. But my interest is in the people involved at the time, the ex-pat Irish who had come to work and live in Birmingham, given birth to their own children in Birmingham, and the “English” people who knew them – how the event affected relationships, attitudes and opinions.

Catch the Rainbow is about 3 people, Lenny (real name Elaine), Mickey** and Shaun. Lenny is a Brummie. Mickey** and Shaun are Irish Brummies. Lenny is in awe of Mickey**, who is still feeling raw that her older sister spurned him, but Shaun is in love with Lenny. When the Birmingham pub bombs go off, Mickey** – who has recently insisted that he be called Seamus (his middle name is James)*** – disappears and Lenny is ostracised for maintaining her friendship with Shaun. Suspicion surrounds Mickey**. A fatal motorbike accident, an unplanned pregnancy and various revelations later leave Lenny wondering if she fancied the right man in the first place.

Against such a dramatic backdrop, the crows of doubt have been swarming for years. Is my storyline too weak? Are my characters too wooden? Is my plotline too lightweight? But this is the story I’m working on at the moment.

Catch the Rainbow the song, by Rainbow, was released in 1975 (the picture is taken from the sleeve of their album, Rising****). My story is the prequel to Night Crawler, and the sequel to Hattie’s Hotshots. Did I mention I have a lot of story ideas on the boil?

* Since this post was written, the IRA have indeed claimed responsibility – in 2014.

** Mickey’s name has since been changed to Nicky.

*** This has changed too …

**** I removed the picture.

Would YOU read this book?

Diary of a freelance writer: 9 March 2016

First things first, altogether now …

Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday to me!

And apart from that … it’s been another very busy week with other stuff not letting me do as much writing as I’d like.

Wednesday 2 March 2016
Last Wednesday, pretty much, I made the first of 2 momentous decisions – I decided to only do editing work for publishers from now on, rather than trawl for individual clients again. Working for/with individuals is great, and really rewarding. But there isn’t enough continued work to build up and maintain a nice working relationship. And sometimes they need, want and expect a lot more time than I’m able to give or they’re able to pay for.

I’m happy with the decision. I shall probably panic every time I go from feast to famine, but it did feel like a huge weight off.

I’d like to spend the extra time working on my own writing and I’m hoping that the extra investment will pay off.

Aside from that, Wednesday was quite a good day …

I wrote 910 words for this blog, I wrote a further 235 words of notes and ideas for short stories, and I helped to crash the ALCS site – our statements were ready so there was a mad rush to the website that resulted in the statements area being taken down. But I did sneak in before they went and was able to see how much I can expect from them on 18 March, and that helped with the budgeting.

In the afternoon, I continued with a hard-copy client edit (a publisher).

Thursday 3 March 2016
On Thursday morning I made the second of last week’s momentous decisions. It was World Book Day and I decided to make more time for my own reading. This means less time on playing games, and any otherwise quiet periods spent reading. It also means I’ve been reading more writing books and I’ve been doing the exercises – the only kind of writing exercises I do are the kind that lead to a finished, marketable product. I don’t do writing exercises for exercise-sake.

That reading time included market study, aka reading a magazine. And that magazine reading time resulted in a story of mine being slightly tweaked and then sent on its merry way.

I also had a successful 25-minute Pomodoro Tomato filing sprint, and I sat down and worked out a writing schedule. This is where I alternate different drafts of different pieces of short work, fiction and non-fiction, to (a) keep me interested, and (b) always have something on the go. And it currently looks like this:

Untitled

Key
O = outline
#1 = draft 1
#2 = draft 2
#3 = draft 3
E = edit
SS = short story
F = filler

I wrote that 1,416 words of the brand new story you can see right at the top, and I started the electronic edit for the client book.

Friday 4 March 2016
The good work continued on into Friday. I did another 25-minute Pomodoro Tomato sprint on the filing and I wrote a 506-word walking blog post for Baggins Bottom. I started to edit Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book 3 (I’m going to do just a month at a time), I submitted another short story, I updated my short story market guidelines, and I almost finished the electronic edit on the client book.

We had a Monkey Dust gig Friday night. But then things went a bit pear-shaped and we got a bit busy again.

Weekend
On Saturday we went out to get my birthday present off the poet – he bought me a fantastic pair of new walking boots, only the ones I’ve always wanted. But then the rest of the weekend was once again spent visiting various members of the family.

Monday 7 March 2016
Most of Monday was also lost to visiting and hanging around, although I did manage some admin in the morning, and I was also able to finish and submit the book I’d been editing. We also received some major news, which I’ll go into more detail about once it’s all resolved.

Tuesday 8 March 2016
I seem to have lost much of yesterday. The morning was spent doing admin, and I think I used the afternoon to read and recharge.

Homework w/c 9 March 2016
Despite stuff getting the better of us again, I do intend to get back into the saddle from today and try to work around everything. I currently have no books to edit for anyone and only my own writing work to do, plus a load of admin and support for the poet.

You can see my writing schedule, so you can see that I have various drafts of various projects to be getting along with, as well as the various books and novels that are already on the go and in various stages of completion.

Here, then, as promised, are my throwaways for August:

  • 1 August is Lammas Day
  • 20 – 21 August is the Saddleworth Rushcart
  • 25 – 26 August is the Notting Hill Carnival
  • 28 August is Plague Sunday in Eyam, in Derbyshire
  • 30 August 1976 (40 years ago) the Notting HIll Carnival ended in a riot – do you see a tie-in?

What do these 5 things inspire you to write or find out? Do you want to write a short story or an article?

  • What on Earth is Lammas Day? Where does it originate? Are there any local/national customs?
  • What on Earth is the Saddleworth Rushcart? Could this be a travel article? There’s not a lot to see on Saddleworth Moor, but there is some dark and sinister history up there.
  • Could you write a story around the Notting Hill Carnival? After all, they made a whole film about Notting Hill … Or could it be a travel feature – 5/10/20 things to do in Notting Hill?
  • The Eyam plague is well-documented. Can you come up with an original slant? Or a short story set against it?
  • We’re back in Notting Hill again. Has security changed much in the past 40 years? What happened to the people involved/affected by the 1976 riots? Could this make a good human interest piece?

Apart from the anniversary piece, these are all evergreens. So if you do pick up the gauntlet, do try to come up with a topical peg on which to hang your idea. And don’t forget to let me know if you used any of them. I’ll have a few more for you next week.

So – again – what will you be up to this week?