Friday 5 January 2024: Running smoothly

Image by Tim Hill from Pixabay

I didn’t get up on time on Wednesday thanks to the dog waking me up at 4:30am and me failing to get back to sleep until 10 minutes after the poet’s alarm went off. I did, however, still get up half an hour earlier than my alarm was set last year. So while it’s a bit of a fail, it’s also better than how I was doing.

After breakfast, the first two Pomodoros were spent on THE SECRET OF WHITEHORSE FARM again, but I only managed to write 622 words as I finished writing the current sequence and did some work on the next sequence. I decided that Nettie had already spent far too long umming and ahhing about returning to the Wye Valley and that any further cogitating could be included in flashbacks or even only a few lines.

I did some research into the railway situation and ended up creating a new line named after an old one and by having a halt instead of an actual station. There aren’t many halts left in the country, as far as I know, but they were usually where passengers requested a train stop. I think trains run too fast now for passengers waiting to wave them down, but I think we can still request a stop if we’re on the train.

If we can’t, then I’ll just make it up. It is, after all, still fiction, and the stud farm of the title is made up, although it does look like there are some equestrian facilities in the area. Saying that, the old railway used to run between Chepstow and Monmouth, which are both in Wales, and my Whitehorse Farm and the Birches Lane it’s off are in Herefordshire. Penalt is also in Wales, but I’m moving Penalt Halt to Herefordshire.

So while I didn’t increase the wordcount by much, I did still do quite a bit of location work. And it all counts, right? I decided that if I got through all of my other planned work for the day, then I’d go back to it.

The weekly tech scan was scheduled in and I thought I may as well run that while I was writing by hand. The virus-checker has been getting stuck at 83% on one of its checks since before Christmas. I checked and it was still getting stuck. So I ran a repair, rebooted, and started it again.

I made a cup of tea, emptied and filled the dishwasher, and hung up some more washing I’d put through. I couldn’t help myself, though, and had to see if Birmingham City FC had appointed a new manager yet after Wayne Rooney’s dismissal the day before. They hadn’t, but the original list of possibilities had been added to by two, which meant my own choice was nudged further down the rankings.

I’d love it if John Eustace came back, after he was unceremoniously dismissed in October in favour of Rooney. BCFC were something like 5th in the table and in playoff position. Now they’re down the other end, in 20th position, after 15 games under Rooney, and almost in the relegation zone. I understand Eustace is willing to come back, but do they want to swallow that much pride?

My other choice would be Gary Rowett, who was similarly dismissed in 2016. But what do I really know about football? (Soccer.) (Actually, I probably know a little bit more than some people know… hence one of my writing projects is HATTIE’S HOTSHOTS…)

As that took some time, I quickly started today’s blog post before continuing with WORDS WORTH READING Issue 1. I’m a bit narked about WORDS WORTH READING Issue 0, to be honest, which, as some of you know, was a reboot of the magazine that was first published in October 2021. Suddenly, someone at Draft2Digital is throwing it out as being unsuitable for two publishers who both previously accepted it. So an email went off to them.

In the end, as I was working on it anyway, I learnt how to create ebook-sized and shaped covers in Affinity and I created two new covers for the magazine, one for Issue Zero and the other for Issue One. I wanted to learn how to do it in Affinity as it’s so much versatile than Canva (more colours, more fonts, more effects), plus the design is mine and doesn’t include AI.

Here they are:

I also did something a bit different with the insides. I made the book covers smaller and included them after the story titles. This should save paper for the printed edition. For now I’m going to stick with the book-sized covers, rather than make a magazine-sized cover. I’ll still include a free pdf for subscribers to the newsletter, but it will be a pdf of the book version.

Everything was inserted for the next issue, apart from the novella, as I’m still working on it, and the novel excerpt, as I ran out of time. I’d add the novel excerpt in my next magazine session.

I went onto D2D to change the covers and tweak the description slightly, and the publishing cycle started all over again. I re-ticked the two that had been rejected, saved the new file in epub and mobi formats, and created a new pdf from the book-sized Word file. I uploaded it to the secret page, then issued a News Flash newsletter to my subscribers, letting them know the pdf for Issue Zero was there now for them to collect.

By the end of the day I’d received confirmation from D2D that the book was being published, and I even had another message from the support team saying I’d fixed the problem now and all was well. I didn’t get around to any shorthand or typing, but neither had I wasted any of the day.

On Wednesday I wrote those 622 words for THE SECRET OF WHITEHORSE FARM, and I wrote 879 words for the blog, giving me a total of 1,501 consumable words for the day.

I got up only 15 minutes late on Thursday, which isn’t as good as Tuesday but better than Wednesday. I was later to my desk too, but I still stuck to the allocated time for the first task. I worked for under two Pomodoros, but when the next one was supposed to start, I put THE SECRET OF WHITEHORSE FARM aside and opened up WORDS WORTH READING Issue 1.

Then I remembered that I also needed to change the cover for Issue Zero on KDP, so off I pootled to do that. (Well, it was the WWR Pomodoro…) I assume that will automatically update the files for those who bought it. I had to go and collect a jpg as KDP doesn’t like png files, and I checked the prices tallied. (They did.) I hit publish, and came back to Issue 1.

I added the chapters for Part 2 of NIGHT CRAWLER and quickly ran through the formatting. But I finished the morning jobs early, so I had my dinner early. Getting up early is great and I get through a hell of a lot more. But having breakfast early means I get hungry again earlier. So I was happy to break for dinner early.

I warmed up a chicken leg the poet had left me in the fridge (one of two – we had roast chicken on Monday, chicken casserole on Wednesday, and two chicken legs left over for my dinners Thursday and today). And I retired to the living room to read while I ate. I could have taken a full hour, which would have been luxury, but instead I went and got the Christmas boxes out of the shed. It’s time to put it all away again.

With the new big office tidy-up, we had decided to get some more suspension files, because we thought we’d thrown the ones we had left away. I was delighted, therefore, to see the box, sitting there, in the shed, next to Christmas. So those came in too. While I was in the garden, the next door neighbour told me that they’d lost both of their dogs in quick succession, which was very sad.

Back at my desk, shorthand was followed by copy typing. And I updated the blog as I went along. Then it was back to my story outline for the SF mystery workshop. I didn’t start world-building inside my head until I decided whether to make it a dystopian future or a sophisticated future. In the end, I decided on the latter, and then the ideas started to rush in. I won’t say anything more at the moment because, well, spoilers!

I didn’t count the note-making and outlining in my wordcount on Thursday, but I wrote 874 words for WHITEHORSE FARM and 634 words for the blog, giving me a total of 1,508 consumable words for the day.

Today’s plan includes a weekly backup and the editing job.

Have a fab weekend.