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?

When a new project begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So tell me, how do you work?

Diary of a freelance writer: 6 July 2016

I’ve had a very writerly week, which is always a good sign. I’m building the blocks for a 6-part “family saga” in Scrivener. And I started to get the itch again to find a decent criticism group for constructive feedback.

Wednesday 29 June 2016
It started last Wednesday . I wrote 674 words for the blog and did 2 extra chores – publicity and job surfing.

Then I settled down for a couple of hours and managed to write 1,347 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW. (Hurrah!)

The day finished with a couple more hours on a client editing job.

Thursday 30 June 2016
On Thursday morning the first job was, as usual, after the daily and household chores, gig list admin. I also managed an “extra”, studying Module 7 for my fiction writing course.

I wrote another 1,144 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW, then uploaded a load of information for the project to the project folder on Scrivener. This increased the running word-count considerably (almost 4-fold).

As I was tidying all of my old notes on the computer, I stumbled across another novel that was finished a long time ago for the Lichfield Prize, but it never went anywhere. So I copied and pasted that into a new file in Scrivener too.

I finished the editing job and got it sent back to the client.

Friday 1 July 2016
Friday was new diary day! I use an academic year diary and it always starts on 1 July. As it was the first day of the month, my Excel tracker for July was also set-up. This shows what I’m working on for this month, target word-count, actual word-count and which draft I should be working on for which story/article/filler/RTE/etc.

I wrote 286 words for a blog post and wrote a further 1,307 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW.

I feel as though I really need to use Scrivener at every opportunity, so that I get used to the masses of things that it apparently does for you. I’m starting with the basic template and doing everything I need to do myself – splitting it into acts, parts, chapters, whatever; get it to print the headings I want it to print and not the ones that Scrivener wants it to print; changing fonts, page layouts, etc.

Once I feel as though I’ve mastered all of that, then I’ll use the templates that come with the software. I’ve always been one for learning things the long way before learning the short cuts. At least then I know what the short cuts are actually doing for me, and if ever the short cuts don’t work, I also know how to fix things the long way.

With this in mind, I went through all of my novels – in progress and in complete draft form – and transferred them all to Scrivener. I now have the following “complete” novels awaiting revision:

  • CHINA
  • MARDI GRAS (last year’s NaNoWriMo project)

And the following awaiting completion:

  • WHITEHORSE FARM
  • HATTIE’S HOTSHOTS (book 4 of the 6-part “family saga”)
  • plus the makings of 4 other books in the “family saga” collection, of which CATCH THE RAINBOW forms book 6
  • THE BEAST WITHIN: A MARCIE CRAIG MYSTERY (book 2)
  • THE FOOL (Stevie Tarot book 1)

At some point, when I have less work to do (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha), I may also transfer over NIGHT CRAWLER: A MARCIE CRAIG MYSTERY (book 1) to Scrivener.

As it was Friday, I raised an invoice (hurrah!), did the first (ahem!)  “weekly” critical data backup in a LONG while, and I finished transferring photographs on Facebook to the “Days Out 2015” folder.

And I had an early finish!

Weekend
We had the weekend off. So we closed the gate on Friday evening and didn’t open it again until Monday morning. Then we spent the “free” time doing loads of things around the new house – gardening, DIY projects, baking, cooking and unpacking boxes.

Monday 4 July 2016
Monday was another good and busy day. I wrote 509 words for a blog post, and I wrote another 2,350 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW. Then I spent a couple of hours on Scrivener trying to “fix” the formatting so it looks how I want it to look when it exports to Word.

Tuesday 5 July 2016
After the usual daily chores, yesterday’s first job was the new weekly job surf. There weren’t any that I fancied, though, so I didn’t pitch at all.

I wrote 3,497 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW, and then I started a new editing job for a client.

Homework w/c 6 July 2016
This week’s objective will be to keep up the momentum, continue to write CATCH THE RAINBOW, continue to build the world and characters for the 6-book saga, continue to familiarise myself with Scrivener, and finish the current editing job.

I’m also looking at an online writing forum and may upload the next few new stories there to get some feedback. These stories need to be out earning their keep, but it’s always good to get impartial, constructive feedback if possible.

What are you up to this week?