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?

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

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!

February round-up

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Cribs Exhibition, Wakefield (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

January wasn’t a great start, and that continued into February. This is mostly because much of the time was spent editing other people’s work while the rest of the time was spent eating birthday cake.

The month began with a contribution to a friend’s article on writing plus the return of a lovely job to a lovely new client.

I did a quick catch-up with some book reviews and a couple of short stories. And then I sat down to rework my schedule around work in and time available to do it.

A new feature started on the lifestyle blog, life on the farm. And then I started a new editing job, which pretty much took out the rest of the month.

Preparation work became well underway for the new project, The Fool, which was mainly – and still is – character work and world-building.

Early on in the month I sold a second short story to a magazine I’d been targeting for more than 30 years – they’d already bought a first short story towards the end of last year.

On Valentine’s Day we were invited to a new exhibition in Wakefield via the gig list, and while there we had our Valentine’s meal.

On 18 February we’d also been invited to a concert in Bromsgrove and were assured there would be two tickets on the door for us. When we got there, there was only one ticket on the door and all other seats had sold out. So we came home again.

On 25 February, we were due to go to the Moonraking festival in Slaithwaite, but the weather forecast was really bad and we were both still recovering from lingering colds. So, as it was the poet’s birthday the next day, we went to see Gaslight instead at the Lyceum in Sheffield.

In between work on the editing job, I was able to keep on top of gig list admin and I did manage a few more short blog posts.

Towards the end of the month, I finally pulled my finger out and cracked on with some writing work. I completed draft 2 of one short story and draft 1 of another.  Plus I got some questions off to the author of the editing job I was in the middle of in between finishing the hard-copy edit and starting the electronic-copy edit.

March has started much better, and my work schedule is much clearer and much more achievable.

How was your February?

January round-up

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

January has not been a great start to 2017 for me, work-wise. I’ve been lazy, unmotivated and easily distracted. I think the biggest problem was I didn’t set myself a total word-count target for the month and, as a result, I’ve written hardly anything.

I have had one book each in from two clients, one to edit and one to proofread. I’ll be finishing both of these today and tomorrow, so January won’t have been a total washout.

The other client I had, I knocked on the head because he was sending me far too much work, wanting it all done NOW, and then forgetting how much he’d agreed to pay for it, trying to renegotiate several weeks after invoices were already overdue.

I have two books of my own I want to start working through, Mardi Gras (which was my 2015 NaNoWriMo project), and Catch the Rainbow (the first draft I finally finished for my 2016 NaNoWriMo project). I haven’t touched either.

I have two books of my own I want to finish writing, Diary of a Scaredy Cat, which has been on the verge of being published for several months now, and Ideas for Writers and What to do with Them, of which readers have been getting sneaky peaks.

And then there is the short story work, which ground to a halt when another previously approachable short fiction market in the UK slammed its doors.

All of these things I should have worked on, and I’ve not worked on one. PLUS, I promised to review fifty-two writers’ guides in fifty-two weeks and I’ve managed two-and-and-a-half.

Therefore, this “January round-up” is fast turning into “plans for February, because I didn’t pull my finger out in January”.

Today I have some serious diary work to do, I have at least one of the client books to finish, and I have today and tomorrow to knock a short story into shape to get it submitted to a still-existing UK fiction market before the end of tomorrow. I also need to re-start my word-count and work-load tracker in Excel.

I’d best crack on … or quack on, courtesy of today’s picture of a duck. 🙂

Diary of a freelance writer: 15 June 2016 (*** list alert ***)

Hurrah! I made it – only a day late for this week’s diary! 😀

Wednesday 8 June 2016
I think today was the day we’d stayed over at the new house for the first time (Tuesday night) because a plumber was coming at 8:30am to fix a radiator and remove a radiator. So I was up and waiting and taking pictures of horses wandering up my drive when the farmer came to say I’d missed him. The plumber, not the farmer. Well, how could that have happened? We called him back and he said he’d be there around 12 now.

He arrived at about 4pm … and said he was knocking at the door at 8:10am. Well, what a surprise. I was up, but in the shower at 8:10pm.

So much of today was waiting again, having the heating fixed, and finding out what the problem is with the hot water. (It needs flushing out and could take a whole day.)

I did my usual daily and admin work, and continued to hard-copy edit the big historical.

Thursday 9 June 2016
I didn’t have to wait in for anyone or anything today, so was actually able to get on with some work. But that was mostly finishing the hard-copy edit of the big historical … and being asked by the client if I was almost ready for the next one! Wunderbar!

Friday 10 June 2016
Friday was also a full working day with no interruptions, other than the poet finishing work early and us going to buy yet more things for the new house. He wasn’t skiving, he’ll always finish early on a Friday … which probably means that I will too, once we get settled. I started on the electronic edit for the big historical.

Weekend
Saturday was once again waiting for people to turn up, this time the Sky engineer for the television. But they’d called yesterday and given us a more narrow time-slot (from 1pm – 6pm to 1pm – 3pm), and they turned up at 1:20pm. This was the day that we found out that our old Sky HD+ box would no longer work, despite the Sky salesman assuring us that it would.

Monkey Dust had a private party to play for on Saturday evening, in Doncaster. And Sunday was doing more stuff at the new house and finally being able to have some chill time.

Monday 13 June 2016
On Monday I started to write again. (Hurrah!) Nothing great, just a blog post. But every little helps and that old writing muscle doesn’t get fit by doing nothing all the time. I managed 953 words for that, and it included a couple of rants. I did all of my admin and daily stuff, streamlining some of it so that 2 fit into 1 hour and 1 only takes 1 hour, and more of the electronic editing.

Tuesday 14 June 2016
On Tuesday, I finished the electronic edit and got that submitted. (Hurrah! Again!) And I wrote another 354 words for a blog.

Homework w/c 15 June 2016
So, now I’m back in the swing of things, the plan for the coming week is as follows:

  • write 1 more catch-up blog for the diary 
  • edit SHAKING THE TREE and submit 
  • share the gig list with FB followers 
  • schedule a new gig list post for Monday morning 
  • start new edit for lovely-already-boss
  • start new edit for lovely-more-recent-boss
  • write #1 of brand new story A DAY TO REMEMBER
  • write a new blog post on Friday for Tales From Baggins Bottom
  • await dishwasher delivery on Friday
  • continue uploading CATCH THE RAINBOW to Scrivener
  • move big stuff to new house on Saturday
  • Father’s Day visits on Sunday
  • write a new blog post on Monday for Tales From Baggins Bottom
  • write #2 of short story THE MONEY IN THE SHED
  • look at catching up on fiction writing course

(Those square root signs, btw, are ticks.)

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 8 June 2016

Still catching up for the missing weeks of the diary …

Wednesday 1 June 2016
Today was the day I was going to leave my work at a place I could leave it. I’d told Sky I needed the internet that day, and they assured me it wouldn’t be switched off until that evening. So I lined up all of my jobs … and yes, you’ve guessed it. They’d already switched me off. This was so annoying, when I’d especially asked them not to.

Fortunately, I was able to print out a new client job that had already been sent over and saved (yes, I get into the habit of doing that immediately now, and let the client know I’ve grabbed it safely). But, apart from that, there wasn’t a lot else I could do.

So I packed. And Wednesday evening we took the “office” over to the new house.

Thursday 2 June 2016
We’d asked Sky for a 1pm – 6pm visit to install broadband and the telephone, but when I checked on the mobile phone the previous night, they had us booked in for 8am – 6pm. This meant I had to get up super early to make sure I was at the new place when the engineer called. I unpacked a few things, did some editing work, and waited.

The phone was already switched on, so that was something. So I called Sky up and they said the engineer was definitely down for visiting between 1pm and 6pm. So I pootled and faffed a bit more. By 4pm there was no sign, so I called Sky again, and when he checked – Ta-da! Apparently the engineer had visited and everything was up and working …

… and people wonder why I often think I’m going mad.

I hadn’t seen a soul. All Day. And my internet most definitely wasn’t working, although the mobile phone could see it and it was a very strong signal.

So after about 20 minutes of trying switching things off and on again and the person at the other end calling me back so he could test the line, he finally suggested I try connecting the new modem, which Sky had sent and told me to hand over to the television engineer when he comes on 11 June. The lovely chap noticed that we’d been switched to fibre optic and perhaps our old modem wouldn’t work with that.

He talked me through it, and I switched it on and … Ta-da! Lo, we had internet!

The engineer had clearly got as far as the little exchange box at the top of the main street and not thought it necessary to actually come and see me.

And by the end of the day, i.e. when it was too late for me to do anything of any significance, my office was indeed up and running at the new house – and that meant I had to get up and “drive to work” every day from now onwards.

The only job I had time to do before going home to have tea with the poet so he could go to band practice was a very meagre gig list.

Friday 3 June 2016
I had appointments all day on Friday but was able to nip to the new house and do a little admin for the gig list before the first one, which was in Sheffield. Then I went to Meadowhall to indulge in a spot of retail therapy – after the week I’d had, I felt I deserved it. And from there I went straight to a hair appointment in Barnsley. And then I did some shopping and met the poet at the new house, where we spent much of the evening sorting things out.

Weekend
Saturday day was spent out and about, shopping for supplies, fetching things from one house and taking them to the other. And on the evening the poet had a gig. Sunday was spent visiting the parents in both Doncaster and Birmingham.

Monday 6 June 2016
Monday was my first proper day “driving to work” and spending the day with the dog at the new house. I had the big editing job to clear by the end of the week, so much of the time was spent doing that – and it was a biggie at almost 100,000 words. I also got back into the swing of the daily admin jobs, but started to streamline the things like “daily competitions” and “daily surveys”. I only really have 2 hours a day to spare for both of these things, and while one does win us prizes and the other does earn money, it’s not my primary reason for working from home.

Tuesday 7 June 2016
Tuesday was more of the same, and again I didn’t manage any writing. But the Kindles are all synchronised with “work” books to read, so I did manage a lot of that.

Homework w/c 8 June 2016
Again, I’m not going to include any homework for this particular post as it’s also already gone and I still know what I didn’t do.

This week’s should be up tomorrow … she said, hopefully. 🙂

Diary of a freelance writer: 1 June 2016

So … it really has been very busy again, to the extent that I’m really behind on blog posts. So I’m going to do one I should have done at the start of the month today, and try and catch up with the others tomorrow and Thursday. There’s not a lot to say this time as we had a holiday and I didn’t do any writing. Shame on me!

Wednesday 25 May 2016
Yes, 25 May really was my last “diary”. It was a good and productive day, however. I wrote 848 words for a blog and I wrote 1,913 words of a short story, 3rd draft. That one’s now sitting in the pile waiting to be proofread and edited.

I also printed off a new client job, but I haven’t started that yet.

Thursday 26 May 2016
On Thursday it was mostly prep work for our camping holiday. I managed admin and some gig list work, but that’s about it.

Friday 27 – Monday 30 May 2016
Our Whitsun/late spring bank holiday was spent in beautiful Eskdale, in the western lake district. The weather was much kinder to us than on our previous 2 jaunts, and we hardly did any driving. Our campsite was within walking distance of the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway at Dalegarth, for Boot, so one day was spent riding on that, another day was spent walking locally, and another day was spent in Whitehaven, where my mom was evacuated during the Second World War.

We came home a day early again, but not because there was anything wrong. We’d already got the keys to the new house and with the poet still in a new job, we needed to maximise the holiday he already had booked, and we spent a day doing new house stuff.

When I’ve caught up a bit more, the pictures will be up on Facebook and on Tales From Baggins Bottom.

Tuesday 31 May 2016
On Tuesday, amongst other things, we built a shed between us.

Homework w/c 1 June 2016
I’m not going to include any homework for this particular post as, well, it’s already gone and I already know what I didn’t do.

I’ll try and do the next one tomorrow.

Diary of a freelance writer: 25 May 2016

I’m not going to say we’ve had a busy week again because I’m starting to feel like a stuck record. But it has been … a bit of a whirlwind, with “housework” creeping back onto the daily list, but only for half an hour at the very top.

Wednesday 18 May 2016
After all the usual daily stuff I wrote 970 words for a blog and 1,248 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW. I’m moving the novel onto Scrivener and revising it a little as I go along. In the afternoon I did some editing for a client. Then on the evening, we went to see the new house, to make sure they’d done all the things we’d asked them to. They had.

Thursday 19 May 2016
On Thursday, I had to revive my gig list admin as the poet isn’t around to do it at the moment. I’ve been doing little bits here and there, but I’ve not done any trawling for gigs, and I’ve not posted any received. So it was a shock to the system on Thursday when I suddenly had to find time for that again.

I wrote 458 words of CATCH THE RAINBOW, and I did more editing for the client.

Friday 20 May 2016
On Friday I did a little job-trawling, and I pitched for 10 new editing or proofreading jobs altogether. I’m not spending loads of time on this at the moment as I want to stick to existing clients and publishing companies, rather than get the odd private client here and there for just one job at a time.

I did a little editing work, but the poet was home early again (it being Friday) and we had to go and sign the paperwork for the new house.

Weekend
On Saturday morning we had a furniture delivery to the new house, so half the day was spent over there. On the way home we did some shopping for bits and pieces for the new house. Monkey Dust had a gig Saturday night in Doncaster, though, so we didn’t have much time to do anything else.

On Sunday morning we did our shopping on the way to Birmingham to visit my parents. Then on the way back we dropped in at Doncaster to visit the poet’s parents.

Monday 23 May 2016
The Monday admin jobs took a long time – they always do after the weekend. But I also managed to write a 639-word blog post as well as 636 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW. I’m also in the process of setting up my binder in Scrivener for this, and I was able to add a load of colour-coded index cards for scenes and characters.

On Monday afternoon, I did more editing for the client. Then Monday evening was spent at the new house. The poet jet-washed the garden – there was peacock poo all over it – while I sorted out some of the furniture and the bits and pieces we bought on Saturday. We measured all the windows for curtains and blinds. Provisions are also making their way over there in dribs and drabs.

Tuesday 24 May 2016
Tuesday was another very productive day – I’m wondering if Tuesday is my new Monday, as historically I’ve always managed more work on a Monday.

Aside from all of the daily work, I also researched things like curtains (which ones would fit in which rooms), cat-flaps in glass doors, dishwashers and rotary washing lines. And internal, retractable washing lines … And I had to check the MOT on my car to make sure I can use it legally for the move. (I can, the MOT runs out in July.)

Work-wise , I did more binder work for CATCH THE RAINBOW, wrote 1,048 words for that, and finished the editing job.

Last night we did more house shopping, dropped the editing job off, and installed a few more things over at the other house. I personally removed 2 shelves, so we could put the tumble-drier in place, and put them back up again (yes, with a screwdriver and everything) while the poet secured the stable and dug out some earth ahead of a shed delivery on Thursday morning.

Homework w/c 25 May 2016
Today I have writing work (study and for CATCH THE RAINBOW) and editing (client work) scheduled in. We just had a meeting this evening cancelled, which is great as we still have lots to do as well as this week’s gig list.

Tomorrow morning I have to go up to the other house so the shed can be delivered. I’ll be taking the editing job with me. And I’ll be doing more on CATCH THE RAINBOW.

We have another camping holiday this coming weekend. So we break up tomorrow and are back at work next Wednesday. A brand new editing job just arrived in my inbox, so I’ll be starting that then.

And, of course, we’re still moving over what we can to the other house, and doing whatever jobs we can.

We also have shopping – camping shopping, new house shopping, and weekly shopping … perhaps we’ll fit that in tomorrow evening … when we’re also  apparently building a new shed …

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 11 May 2016

Wow, looks like I made it in on time this week!

Things have eased off this past week. The poet starts his new job today and we found a house. So that means I have my office and my schedule back again – although I do have a dentist appointment this afternoon … 😦  The house is eerily quiet without him … and I have to make my own lunch!

So I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things, and here’s how the past week went.

Wednesday 4 May 2016
On Wednesday I wrote 761 words for a blog post and I did all the usual admin work, including surveys, daily competitions, and so on. Extra work this week, however, included catching up on the washing after our weekend away camping.

I also had a dentist appointment.

Thursday 5 May 2016
On Thursday, it was all admin and laundry again before going shopping – for our weekly groceries and some camping equipment. I did manage an extra blog, though, and I wrote 709 words.

Friday 6 May 2016
On Friday the poet had a second interview for a job in Rotherham, and he was made an offer before even getting back into his car – which he accepted. When he was given a start date of Wednesday (i.e. today) he had mixed emotions – first of all he was delighted and over the moon and glad to cancel all other job-search-related appointments, but then he said he’d rather have had a little more time at home. However, as we’ve also been forced into house-hunting, it was important he get back to work as soon as possible for the credit checks and references, etc.

I wrote a very short blog post of only 71 words.

Weekend
Much of the weekend consisted of family time and chill time.

Monday 9 May 2016
Monday was a house-hunting day. We had second viewings on 2 properties, but plumped for the one in the middle of nowhere that comes with local fishing rights, more farm animals and, erm, peacocks …

Tuesday 10 May 2016
Tuesday was mostly new house and new job admin and appointments, but I also managed another blog post of 316 words – perhaps I’m getting back into the swing of things.

Homework w/c 11 May 2016
I’m not doing a list this week because it hasn’t changed at all since last week. I do, however, have a dentist appointment today (as already mentioned), and I’m mostly catching up with getting back in the swing of work.

We have complimentary press passes for a gig in Wakefield tonight and I have press releases to do for the pro-bono project that climaxes this coming weekend.

I also have a lovely new book in from lovely-already-boss (fresh off his holidays) to edit, and another to proofread for him.

What are you up to this week?