Friday 22 March 2024: At the dentist 😱


Stunning view of the historic pier of Puerto Natales, Chile, on the Seoret Channel, at sunrise on a summer day with the sky covered in gray and pink clouds – depositphotos.com

You can always tell when I get a free image to use. First of all, it has no relation whatsoever to the content in the blog post – or if it does, it’s pure fluke. And secondly, we have to paste this whopping great big link somewhere close to the image. To me, that’s right beneath it and as the link doesn’t work as a caption, it has to be in the body of the text.

Anyway, I really liked the mood in this one. So, welcome to Friday!

Overnight on Wednesday, the Kickstarter I’ve backed this week reached its maximum goal. That means I’ll be getting 12 books and 4 courses, for $25. The courses alone are worth $180 each to me (including local tax), or $150 each to backers in the US. This kind of Kickstarter seems to achieve its maximum goal more often than the ones that allow backers to submit short stories to a magazine. I wonder if the owners have noticed this…

I was at my desk on Thursday in relatively good time and the first job I did was share the gig list, on my profile and on Monkey Dust’s page. The birds outside the window were making a fuss about the tray being empty again. So I went and topped up all the feeders, threw some old stuff away (peanuts) and refreshed with new, emptied old sunflower hearts from the feeder onto the tray, filled up with fresh.

By the time I got back to my desk they were all going nuts over the food, including a pair of magpies. The day before there was another crow-type bird out there. The crows are clever if there’s bread out there (not in our garden, but I’ve seen it). They take it to the bird bath and soak it before eating it. And remember, the magpies are members of the crow family.

I got my binoculars out to see that most of the smaller birds were picking out the pieces of suet from the all purpose ground-feeder food. We have suet balls and suet blocks and both have been largely neglected and the blocks have grown some moss (not mould, fortunately). Perhaps a bag of suet bits might be in order in future.

The starlings are starting to arrive, and they love the mealworms. So do the hedgehogs, though. We fill the feeder only halfway up so the starlings don’t get too many in one go. The hedgehogs snuffle around on the ground for any stray worms and, of course, for slugs. We’ve also had a toad in the garden eating the slugs.

We have a resident mouse, and it’s always fun when he pops out, dashes along, grabs something, and dashes back. We also have a resident sparrowhawk somewhere nearby. There were 2 piles of feathers in the back garden before we went away and another pile on the front drive when we got back. And we have a resident owl. We hear it hooting at night when we let the dog out. The squirrels haven’t shown up yet, though.

While I was writing this, I saw wood pigeons, collared doves, starlings, blackbirds, sparrows, blue tits, greenfinches, goldfinches, chaffinches, magpies, robins, dunnocks, what may have been a song thrush, and what I think was a bedraggled looking female siskin (it had a yellow brow and yellowish sides).

It could have been a juvenile, but I couldn’t place the yellow brow in any of the pictures I looked at other than the female siskin. I doubt it was a warbler. The yellow brow was too yellow. Saying that, at the weekend I told the poet that the siskin he saw in the garden was a greenfinch…but the greenfinch doesn’t have the yellow brow…

Deciding I really ought to get on with some work, I started work on 12 STORIES IN 12 MONTHS, choosing to revisit ELVIS IS MISSING, a fun tale I wrote for the fantasy thriller workshop. We’re supposed to write something new, but I will be writing a new version of it. The original is almost 3,400 words, and I need to write 2,500 words.

For the 12 STORIES IN 12 MONTHS this year, so far, I’ve been writing sci-fi stories featuring my near-future and heavily flawed detective Marshall Jackson. I’m going to rewrite ELVIS IS MISSING, using the world I’ve created for Marshall, and I’ll have him making a guest appearance too.

Another story I wrote for that workshop, THE OLD ANNEX, is something that grew too big for the time and word-count we had for that. I didn’t finish the storyline, but I think it might run to 10,000 words. (Our limit was 5,000.) Also, it wasn’t very ‘fantasy’, or very ‘thriller’. But it did have a ‘mystery’. I don’t think that will make a good story for Marshall and my near-future world, but it will make an interesting novelette.

These stories don’t have obvious suitable markets. But now I know how to publish them myself, and how to make full use of them, I have a purpose for finishing them.

While I was rummaging through my short stories folder, I spotted SHAMPOO, SET AND MATCH, a story I wrote last summer for a crime anthology. It wasn’t accepted, but I quite liked the storyline. And so I filed it away for ‘future use’. I wondered if it might be suitable for one of the 3 stories we can submit to the call for submission that came in earlier this week. So that story was opened and saved in a new place while I thought about it.

My next job was the next one for the client edit. I located the file, saved it in my current working area, did a quick safety inspection of it (it passed), saved a version of it prefixed DMW, and turned on tracked changes. Then I changed double line spacing to single, changed double spaces to single, changed proofing language to English UK, changed the font, inserted new page numbers, and printed it off on eco setting.

This job is much shorter than the last few. It shouldn’t take me very long, but the author’s first language isn’t English. Saying that, I’ve worked with him before and he’s a good learner, picking things up as we go along. Already, just looking at the draft he’d sent I could see he remembered pretty much everything from Book 1. (This isn’t the author who asked for me, this is the job I already had in.)

Just as I was putting that into a folder and onto the WIP stack, a flock of finches came down and the bedraggled female I saw earlier was definitely a siskin. There were 3 stunning males, and a female, accompanied by a single greenfinch.

Because I was due at the dentist first thing this morning, I thought I’d also get rid of another quick job I could do quite easily. One less to do today. And I ran my weekly backup. While I was on a roll, I thought I’d do next week’s diary too. So I did. Because I’m trying to start a short story 5 weeks before it’s due, though, I first had to do some jiggery pokery with the 4 stories I know I want to write during April first.

I got there in the end, but had to remember things like holidays and the fact that 12 STORIES IN 12 MONTHS’ deadlines are Wednesdays (the OCD does prefer to complete a process on a Friday…) and the 3-story market deadline is on a Tuesday. I’ve taken THE SECRET OF WHITEHORSE FARM out of the equation until Monday as I wasn’t sure I’d get chance to write anything for it.

Plan for today

First thing this morning I have to go to the dentist. As I already did some of today’s work yesterday, here’s how the day now pans out:

  • dental appointment 😱
  • THE LAST PIRATE OF PENZANCE
  • new client edit
  • Monday’s blog
  • Monkey Dust gig

Have a fab weekend!

2 thoughts on “Friday 22 March 2024: At the dentist 😱

  1. What a lively wildlife you’ve got going in the backyard. Such fun to watch it all, isn’t it?

    Lots of work on your platter — I hope you have fun with it.

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