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: 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?

Diary of a freelance writer: 28 September 2016

Okay, I seem to finally be back into a rhythm. Long may it last this time … It’s been a fair week with, erm, no unaccounted for faffing and most time-slots filled.

Wednesday 21 September 2016
On Wednesday, after, erm, faffing for much of the day swapping mobile phones, I did eventually write 539 words for a blog post and I cracked on with some editing for lovely-retainer-client.

At almost 2 years old, my phone had finally died and I had to dig out an old phone that still worked. I’ve gone from an android phone, which I love, to a windows phone, which I hate. Roll on 16 October when I can get a new android.

I’ve been with the same provider for many, many years (Three), but having looked at the phones they currently offer, I *am* considering changing. My android phone (the one that died but which I love) is a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, and the closest Samsung seem to do to that now is the A3, which I’ve seen in Curry’s, complete with full accessory set, but at £2 more than my current contract and with EE.  So I have some thinking to do between now and 16 October.

Thursday 22 September 2016
On Thursday I was expecting both a boiler man and a Sky man. The boiler man arrived at 11:40am and left at 12:20pm; the Sky man was 2 men who came at 2:00pm and stayed until 4:00pm. Normally, this would completely cock-up my day, but on Thursday, for a change, I didn’t let it.

For my daily admin period (1 hour today), I did the diary for next week, re-did the diary for this week, and did 2 lots of gig list admin.

For my daily study period (2 hours), I revised Tutorial 6 of the BCJ course and wrote 251 words and I printed off Tutorial 7. I also picked up a book I’ve been reading on how to write short stories. I’m on Number 3, but only got as far as the writing exercise, which I’m still percolating at the back of my mind.

For my daily writing period (2 hours), I went through my “keepers and chuckers” for Jan 2017 – Apri 2017, for the freelance writing side of my work. I know I’m a bit late for Jan – Mar, but I wanted to see if there was something I could come up with quite quickly. I kept 4 for myself, but here are my “throwaways” (“chuckers”):

  • 6 Jan: Epiphany (evergreen)
  • 1 Feb: partridge shooting begins (evergreen)
  • 15 Mar: the ides of March (evergreen)
  • 28 Mar 1977: breakfast telly started (40 years ago)
  • 8 Apr 2017: Grand National (changeable date-specific evergreen)
  • 14 Apr: first cuckoo day (evergreen)
  • 24 Apr 2017: Hocktide (changeable date-specific evergreen)

Let me know if you use any of them and what happened to them. 🙂

My daily editing period (2 hours) was a continuation of yesterday’s edit.

Friday 23 September 2016
On Friday I wrote 409 words for a blog post, I revised BCJ Tutorial 7 and wrote a whopping 9 words (they all count!), and I printed off Tutorials 8 and 9. Fridays are short days for me now, but I did finish the hard-copy edit for lovely-retainer-client.

Weekend
Our weekend was quite exciting.

On Saturday we drove down to Birmingham, dropped the dog off, continued on to Birmingham International Railway Station, and made it to London in time to see a matinee production of Wicked.

On the evening we went to a “meet the authors” event so I could finally meet my lovely-retainer-client who is usually based in Spain. I also met quite a few of the authors I’ve edited for them over the past few years. AND I had a chat with lovely-retainer-client who is interested to consider publishing any (ANY) of my books, and especially (ESPECIALLY!) *my* books. We had a chat about Catch the Rainbow and, well, I need to get it finished as he’s really very interested.

Sunday was the journey home, again via Birmingham to collect the dog and visit my parents.

Monday 26 September 2016
On Monday it was back to the real world and back to work. I wrote a 1,155-word review of Wicked  for the blog and then copied it over to the gig list reviews page … where I got stuck reformatting all sorts of vagaries that had crept in to the html coding. I did what I could for the latest reviews to tidy them up, but resorted to a quick fix for the rest of the page when I realised that time was, once again, running away with me.

I didn’t manage any study work today, as I ended up doing quite a lot of washing and other housework, as we’d been away for the weekend. I did, however, finish the electronic edit for lovely-retainer-client.

Tuesday 27 September 2016
Yesterday I revised Tutorial 8 of the BCJ course and wrote (another whopping) 13 words. Then I printed off the remaining 3 Tutorials, 10, 11 and 12 (I’d already printed T9).

In the afternoon I wrote 1,236 words for Catch the Rainbow, I started a new edit – this one for lovely-already-boss – and I chased an outstanding invoice (boo!).

Yesterday evening we did our weekly shopping.

Homework w/c 28 September 2016
My homework for the coming week will mostly be daily writing towards Catch the Rainbow. I intend to finish my revision work for the BCJ course and crack on with the next assignment that’s due. Any down or breather time from Catch the Rainbow will be short material, either work already started or the date-related ideas I came up with on Thursday. I have this edit to finish for lovely-already-boss and the next one to start for lovely-retainer-client.

What are you up to this week?

Note: This “diary” is now a year old. The intention was to complete it for 12 months and then decide whether or not to publish it as a memoir. I’ve actually found it very useful to keep track of what I’m doing, what I’ve been up to, what I should be doing, and where I’ve been faffing or time-wasting. If you are enjoying the diary, then do let me know. I think I’m going to continue with it as it’s so useful. But if there’s anything else you’d like to see then, again, do let me know. Ta. 🙂

Diary of a freelance writer: 29 June 2016 (*** list alert ***)

It’s Wednesday again, and I made it in on time again. Things are looking up.

We finished the final stage of moving house at the weekend, so that gives us much more time at home, and me more hours in which to work. We do have boxes and bags to sort and unpack, though. But at least we don’t have that extra travel time in between houses. I’m really hoping to knuckle down and get some serious work done.

Wednesday 22 June 2016
Last Wednesday the plumber was due at 8:30am. He made it at just after 9:30am. He was coming to drain down the heating system and give it a good flush through. By midday his work was done and we had hot water and central heating at the same time.

While he was here, I still cracked on with work and left him to it. I added a new daily chore to the daily chores, I wrote 1,067 words for a blog post, I did some more photo admin on Facebook, and I did some sugar-free diet research. We were supposed to be at a meeting on the evening for the pro-bono project, but we were just too busy and too tired, and had to send our apologies.

Now we had hot water, I enjoyed a much-anticipated bath – I’m not really a shower person, but at least we have one for backup.

Thursday 23 June 2016
First job Thursday morning, after the daily and household chores, was gig list admin. There was an item in my diary entitled “blog post”, but today was Thursday and the next blog post was due on Friday. So I rubbed it out … then I remembered I had Friday off, so had to pencil it in again. I wrote 687 words, and was then able to tick it off. Ticks are very therapeutic and truly aid motivation.

I did my weekly diary chore and then did some writing research. I was looking for markets and guidelines for novellas and I found 2 UK-based ones. And then I had a lightbulb moment for the family saga story idea.

Friday 24 June 2016
My car was due for its MOT on Friday (it passed, eventually) and we also had to collect a self-drive van for the last of the house-move. The day was spent moving stuff and collecting my car.

Weekend
We still had the van for the morning, so finished using that. Then we cleaned the old house from top to bottom and the poet filled a load of holes in walls. We did some shopping and spent what time was left (not a lot) looking at boxes.

On Sunday we were in Alrewas for the National Service Memorial Day at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Monday 27 June 2016
We had Monday off too as part of the big move weekend, and were finally able to settle into our new house and know that we didn’t have to go back to the old one again.

Tuesday 28 June 2016
Tuesday it was back to work for both of us. It took a little longer to do the daily chores and jobs – it always does on the first day back at work – but I still managed 590 words for a blog post.

In the afternoon I was supposed to do some writing work and some editing work, but a migraine settled in instead and I went to lie down in a dark room for the rest of the day, and some of the evening.

Homework w/c 22 June 2016
I’m getting a little better at keeping on top of work, but the to-do list is still a lot like the one I did for last week, although it is also shorter again:

  • 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
  • continue uploading CATCH THE RAINBOW to Scrivener
  • write #2 of short story THE MONEY IN THE SHED
  • Module 7 fiction writing course
  • Module 8 fiction writing course
  • Module 9 fiction writing course
  • continue tidying photographs
  • continue playing with new novel idea

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 22 June 2016 (*** list alert ***)

Well, well, well. It’s Wednesday and I’m updating the diary on time. Looks like I’m catching up.

We’ve still been living in 2 houses, sort of, finally moving the big stuff over to the new house on Saturday. We still have odds and sods to pick up, and we’re hiring a van on Friday to do that, then we’re cleaning the old house on Saturday, and filling holes and things like that. The poet has already cut the grass over there. Hopefully it won’t need doing again before Monday, when we hand the keys over.

Wednesday 15 June 2016
Wednesday, then, was a very good day. I managed to do everything at the right time and I wrote 837 words for a blog post and 2,558 words for a short story. That story has now been edited and sent off. (Please keep everything crossed.)

Thursday 16 June 2016
Thursday started well, with all of the admin being done in time again. And I wrote 633 words of a blog post.

In the afternoon, however, when I went to print off the next editing job, the printer wasn’t connected. The computer could see it, but it just wasn’t communicating. That took the entire afternoon before it was fixed again.

The night was spent at the new house as our new dishwasher was due for delivery “between 7am and 6pm” on Friday, so I had to be up early.

Friday 17 June 2016
On Friday I printed off the new editing job, wrote 855 words for a blog post, and did some photo admin. I’ve been using Facebook as a backup for photographs since 2005, and now they’re threatening to remove that facility for some.

I don’t like having so many pictures on Facebook anyway, so it was a good opportunity for me to start tidying things up over there. We have a portable hard drive now, so I started by downloading some of the older albums to that before deleting them from Facebook. Then I started a gradual regime of filing photographs on Facebook in group directories. I’ll do a bit more of this each day, as and when I have a few moments to spare.

The dishwasher arrived late morning, and when the poet came home from work, he fitted it straight away. (He’s very versatile.)

Weekend
On Saturday the van came at 8am (it was booked for 8:30am), and all of the big stuff was moved over in just one journey. By 10am they were gone and we had our “stuff” around us again. And, of course, the cats finally came over too. Much of Saturday was then spent sorting everything out, and going for another couple of car loads as well as a good, weekly shop.

Sunday was Father’s Day, so we went to Doncaster to see the poet’s dad and one of his lads made it to see him too. Then it was off to Birmingham to see my dad. When we got home, we had a lamb dinner, having used the slow cooker for the first time in the new house.

Monday 20 June 2016
On Monday I did more photo admin, I wrote 695 words for a blog post, and I rebooted my fiction writing course, studying the new Module 5. They revised the course after I started, and because I’d raised some issues about the quality and content of the course, they asked if I’d like to resume with the new version instead. So, of course, I said yes.

The new course arrived in October or November of last year, and I’d already acquainted myself with the first 4 modules. But this is the first I’ve managed in a long while.

Tuesday 21 June 2016
Yesterday, I continued with my study, reading up on Module 6. I did a little more photo admin, then I outlined a new short story (inspired by part of the next assignment I have to do for the course), and I did some short story admin.

I updated the worksheet I use to keep on top of drafts, moving material I want to work on first up, and shifting older ideas to a different spot, so I don’t forget about them. Although, if I do forget about them, perhaps they didn’t really want writing in the first place.

Here’s how the spreadsheet currently looks:

worksheet

KEY
O = Outline
#1 = draft 1
#2 = draft 2
#3 = draft 3
E = Edit
SS = Short Story
F = Filler
RTE = Reader’s True Experience

(I can’t even remember what THE FORTUNE TELLER is all about, but it will need editing if it’s to stay up there!)

I also discovered some “story starters” over on the website of a magazine I really want to crack – she currently has one of mine sitting in her drawer that I slightly re-wrote at her request, I’m hoping if I can send her another it will remind her of the one in her drawer! – and I’ll be mulling over some of those and hopefully adding them to the list.

Then I sat down and started a new binder on Scrivener for a new novel … the poet reminded me when he got home that I have yet to complete a version of CATCH THE RAINBOW on Scrivener, but I’m hoping to run the two consecutively. Plus, I need to be practising with Scrivener so I don’t have to keep on Googling how to do things I’ve done several times already. I need to be “doing” so I remember how to do it.

For the new project, I also started to create a family tree, as it’s going to be a family saga. Someone recently told me that family sagas are very popular with publishers, and as I generally strive to “write for the market” … well, I have to give it a go.

Homework w/c 22 June 2016
So, the to-do list is a little shorter than last week’s, but the first 5 are also carried over from last week’s, so not as great as that first seems:

  • 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
  • continue uploading CATCH THE RAINBOW to Scrivener
  • write #2 of short story THE MONEY IN THE SHED
  • plumber coming Wednesday to clean out hot water system 
  • Module 7 fiction writing course
  • Module 8 fiction writing course
  • Module 9 fiction writing course
  • continue tidying photographs
  • move last of stuff over from old house, close up and hand keys over
  • Armed Services Day at Alrewas
  • continue playing with new novel idea

What are you up to this week?

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: 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: 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?

Diary of a freelance writer: 4 May 2016

Yes, yes, yes – I skipped a week again. But we were on holiday over the May Day weekend, and it was our first wedding anniversary. So another post that’s also catching up.

Wednesday 20 April 2016
On Wednesday I wrote 351 words for a blog post and I did all the usual admin work, including surveys, daily competitions, etc, etc, etc. However, I also had an x-ray appointment at 1pm (long-term arthritis in back check-up), and I had an optician’s appointment at 3pm (my usual 2-yearly appointment). I finished the day with a brand new prescription for both reading and distance glasses.

Thursday 21 April 2016
There is nothing in my diary for Thursday 21 April beyond the usual admin work – surveys, competitions, gig list admin, diary work, job search, etc. The poet did have a band practice on the evening, though. But I think I stayed home for that one.

Friday 15 April 2016
On Friday the story is pretty much the same, I’m afraid. But I did have a hair appointment at 3:30pm.

Weekend
That weekend, Monkey Dust had a gig in Upton on Saturday evening, and we spent Sunday in Birmingham for my parents’ 62nd wedding anniversary and my mom’s 82nd birthday.

Monday 25 April 2016
Monday was a house-hunting day and a day for gig list admin.

Tuesday 26 April 2016
On Tuesday, once the daily admin jobs were done, the rest of the day was spent at an appointment in Barnsley and in me researching, writing and sending press releases for the pro-bono project that happens this month. I wrote 241 words for this.

Wednesday 27 April 2016
Wednesday was another house-hunting day with several viewings booked in. I had a mare of a toothache, though, and managed to get an emergency dentist appointment for 2:50pm. He gave me some antibiotics and told me to come back again next Wednesday. The pain was so bad, we almost cancelled our weekend away. But we left it to Friday morning to make the final decision.

Thursday 28 April 2016
On Thursday, I did more gig list admin, went to the optician to collect my new glasses, and then prepared and packed for our weekend away.

On Thursday evening we went to see the Harlem Globetrotters in Sheffield. I won the tickets in a competition, and we had a great time.

Friday 29 April 2016
On Friday we made the decision to go on holiday and headed off to Bala in Wales for a 4-night camping trip. I was already starting to feel better and didn’t want to wake up Saturday morning wishing we’d gone the day before, and so waste the day travelling. Friday evening was FREEZING, though, and we even had SNOW!

Weekend
The weather gradually grew warmer and on Sunday, 1 May, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary under canvas. The tablets had worked their magic, but I did have a gum-boil burst while I was in a shop ordering a sandwich … I really hoped I wasn’t dribbling!

Monday 2 May 2016
Bank holiday Monday was our last full day in Bala and the weather had certainly started to improve a lot.

Tuesday 3 May 2016
On Tuesday, we came home. We were promised fine weather for decamping, but the only 2 showers for the whole of that morning happened while we were un-pegging the tent! We’d had a lovely time, though, and certainly recharged our batteries.

As soon as we got home and unpacked the car, the poet chose and booked our next venture – Eskdale at Whitsun.

I made a decision to finish Catch the Rainbow by the end of September 2016. This is mostly because a crime-writing workshop I was attending at the end of May has been moved to the beginning of October and I’d like to be in a position to start something new for that at the same time. This means I have around 50,000 words to write in 5 months, as I already have about 25,000 words written. The objective will be to write one day, type it into Scrivener the next day as revision/part editing, then be warmed up sufficiently to carry on writing that same day, and so on.

My target word-count per month, then, is 10,000 words for Catch the Rainbow, and 5,000 words on short material.

Homework w/c 4 May 2016
Looking a lot like the last list … here is a not-even-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 still have to reinstall those word-count meters …

What have you been 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?