Lockdown Blog: Day 4

Friday, 27th March 2020

After yesterday saying that Covid-19 is the virus that gets everyone, from prisoner to royalty, today we get the announcement that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock have tested positive for Covid-19 and the Chief Medical Officer is in self-isolation. Are the men that are giving us advice not following it themselves?

It is said that the perfect conditions for writing are to have no distractions around you. Despite being confined to my writing desk, I’m finding that the inability to just ‘pop out’ is the single biggest distraction. I’m busy trying to write a very short script, as I posted on Wednesday, but despite the theme being about confinement, it’s the very thing that’s stopping me.

We’re facing the first weekend in lockdown in the United Kingdom. Lets hope that people do not get carried away, heed the advice and stay indoors as far as possible. I shall be staying indoors, where, hopefully, I’ll be writing and editing.

On that note, today I was lucky enough to be given yet another lovely piece of feedback. Check it out on the testimonials page!

Lockdown Blog: Day 3

Thursday, 26th March 2020

Three days in, the sun, an important topic of conversation in the UK, is out. Ironically, it seems, the only time we get sun is the only time we’re not allowed to properly enjoy it. Still, gardens should be well tended to this year.

Today, we saw how Covid-19 is affecting absolutely everybody in the community. Yesterday it was the Prince of Wales, today it was confirmed that prisoners are also dying of the virus. Whoever you are or what ever you’ve with your life, this has proved to be a great leveller of people.

I’m reminded of the HIV crisis of the 1980s and worry that groups of people will soon become stigmatised and ostracised because of this crisis. Let’s hope that it brings us together.

So far, it is bringing the country together. We’ve clapped the NHS workers tonight. Someone close to me even let of a single firework. We’re smiling to each other as we pass in the street and hundreds of thousands of people are signing up to volunteer.

Now, I don’t want to appear negative, but as I’m British, I cannot help myself. When I volunteered with an organisation, we were always desperate for people to join us and help out. What is it about a crisis that gets people to do good things for each other that they wouldn’t ordinarily do? I hope, when all this is over, people try to find ways to help each other without a crisis as a stimulus.

On better news, the Chancellor has announced measures to help the self-employed with a massive financial package. And I completed another free sample edit, a rather bloody fantasy chapter! I hope I get to read some more.

Lockdown Blog: Day 2

Wednesday, 25th March 2020

Much quieter today. The measures taken seem to be heeded and there were much, much fewer people out and about today and, when I took my daily exercise, it was noticeably quiet, even compared to yesterday.

Perhaps it was the news that the Prince of Wales had contracted Covid-19. Perhaps it was that everyone, finally, has run out of room to put all the toilet rolls, bottles of cooking oil and frozen foods.

Despite the closure of all cultural venues, culture itself has not been closed completely. Now, as getting editing contracts is proving somewhat challenging, I’m back to writing. The BBC are running a callout for scripts for a short series called InterConnected and the Papatango Theatre Company are asking for monologues. So at least people are connecting with stories in this time.

One interesting phenomenon is the use of face masks whilst people are driving. Over the past week, I’ve noticed increasing numbers of people using face masks in their own vehicles while driving. I’d love to know the thinking, and the science if there is any, behind that.

There are increasingly vocal calls for support for the self-employed and so, hopefully, by tomorrow we’ll understand how the government are to support us as they have our employed friends and colleagues.

Ten tips for your first copyediting job – CIEP blog

If you’ve focused on proofreading until now, the idea of copyediting can seem daunting. Here are some tips for coping with that first job.

Source: Ten tips for your first copyediting job – CIEP blog

Lockdown Blog: Day One

Day One: Tuesday, 24th March 2020

Last night, here in the United Kingdom, the Government enacted severe new restrictions, including closing all shops not deemed as supplying essential goods, preventing people from accessing public spaces and leisure facilities and curtailing people from gathering in more than a pair.

My intention is to give a daily record of my own life during this rather turbulent time. It is not fact checked, it is not editorially sound and is merely my own reflections to look back on in years to come. One day, this will be in a history textbook!

There were queues this morning for ‘essential’ shopping. In fact, as I stood waiting to get into the supermarket, I overheard two ladies talking. One said to the other: “It’s not even us that started it but we have to pay the price!” How, exactly, did this person feel was the best way to deal with the pandemic? Perhaps the first poor soul who contracted Covid-19 is the one and only person who should be dealing with it? Poor sod.

The shop itself was reasonably stocked. I even managed to grab some toilet roll! Having missed out on the first wave of “panic buying”, I felt obliged to join in the craze and immediately grabbed my allowed two packs.  

Later, after an afternoon gardening, a ventured out for my daily, allowed, exercise on the bike. I live about four miles from the town centre and, whilst the roads were quiet, the parks and open spaces were surprisingly busy. Not congregations, that would not be allowed(!), just lots and lots of people out walking their dogs or stretching their legs. It would appear that the “Stay at home” message, helpfully delivered by text from the government (via all the phone operators as the UK doesn’t have its own system) was being translated as “don’t go out in the car”.

Back at home, things are, for now, normal-ish. There’s food in the cupboards and sun in the sky. Now it would be great to get a contact sorted so I can work too!

10 ways to make extra cash while self-isolating

Now that Covid-19 has taken hold across the world, people are being encouraged to ‘self-isolate’ or socially distance themselves from others. This includes working from home and many companies are actively encouraging their employees to do this, including the big tech giants like Google and Amazon.

While ‘working from home’ you may discover that you have a little extra time on your hands. Afterall, there’s no commute to the office if your laptop is in your bedroom! You needn’t even spend as long getting ready in the morning – who’s going to care if you work today in your pyjamas!

Here are 10 easy ways to use that spare time to earn yourself a little extra cash. Now that the boss isn’t looking, you can get on with your own money-making enterprises. Thanks Coronavirus!

  1. Sell your old trinkets on eBay
    Now is the time to sort out your house and find things that you really do not need anymore. Old mugs and plates, trinkets and collectables that have been sitting in the back of your cupboards for years, collecting dust, can all be sold for cash. And don’t forget gifts you no longer want or never even opened. Look through the children’s bedrooms too. Do they have toys they no longer play with? Who knows, there may be a valuable toy in there that could earn you a fortune! It’s all perfect for listing and selling online. Take the time to list your items carefully, though, and use all of eBay’s functions to get the best results from shoppers.
  2. Sell books, music, DVDs and games
    In this era of digital streaming and downloads, do you really need all those CDs, DVDs and computer games? If they are simply taking up space on shelves, now is the perfect time to get rid of them. And if all your books are on your Kindle, then why keep your bookshelves fully stocked of novels you’ve already read? Instead, use apps like MusicMagpie and Ziffit to scan your items and send them off for a bit of extra cash quickly and easily. Plus, there’s no fee, just sell your stuff and keep all the cash!
  3. Sell your old clothes
    Now that you’ve got a bot of extra time, go through your wardrobe and find the clothes you no longer wear, don’t fit, or you just don’t want anymore. Shpock and Vinted are ideal for selling your unwanted clothes and you can get great cash rewards for things you don’t use anymore. Take the time that you would spend commuting to the office to clear out wardrobe of all those shirts, dresses and blouses you no longer need. Keep a beady eye out for designer labels. They, naturally, attract the very best prices, allowing you to earn the most from your old gear.
  4. Make stuff to sell on Etsy
    If you are the crafty type, use the extra time to create beautiful and bespoke pieces that you can sell online. Etsy is the perfect website if you make, or want to make, beautiful things like handmade cards, art and crafts. If you don’t know what you could make, look around your home for inspiration. Do you have any personalised gifts, or gifts you could easily create? People like sites like this for the ability to personalise, so think of initials, letters or monograms. They’ll need to really stand out, though, as there is a lot of competition on sites like Etsy, but with the additional time you now have you can perfect your craft and see your beautiful products in other people’s homes and spaces.
  5. Create a blog, channel, or social media page
    Blogs may be a bit old fashioned now, but they still provide a space for advertising. As do YouTube channels, so whatever your message is, use the extra time you have now that you’re self-isolating to build your audience. Blog or post new content regularly, the more the better. Then use this to your advantage by turning on adverts. Ensure that you get the maximum revenue for this by continuing to update your content and produce new posts or videos once you’ve built your audience.
  6. Take surveys and watch videos
    These don’t pay as massively as some of the websites suggest, but they can be a nice way of getting a little extra cash for Amazon shopping. It can be a little frustrating when surveys screen you out, but when you find yourself with an extra 20 minutes, apps like Swagbucks give you the opportunity to earn points that can be converted into PayPal credit or Amazon gift cards. Swagbucks also has the option of watching videos to earn points, although this is capped at a maximum of 10 points, which is not that many, but is a quick way to earn a few extra points when you’re not getting through the surveys.
  7. Write for blogs and lists and magazines
    Websites, like Listverse, rely on freelance writers to produce content. This can pay handsomely and, if you have an idea, it’s worth pitching it to the website or blog editor and see if you can write for them. Lists are great fun to write. Don’t be fooled, though. It can be tough to generate ideas, research the content and then write the article, but the payoffs are good. And you get to brag to your friends and family that you are now a published author! Magazines also pay well for stories so keep an eye out in your usual publications. Maybe they pay for letters. Or if you’ve had an unusual experiencer, they may pay for you to tell your story.
  8. Sign up to Fiverr, or similar sites, and earn a gig
    You may be working from home for your employer, but now is the chance to use your skills and keep all of the profit yourself. Well, most of it. Sites like Fiverr and Freelancer give you the chance to bid on projects and work on them directly with the client. You set the price and then you keep the profits, minus a fee from the website. There are all sorts of jobs, or gigs, from writing and editing to data entry and testing apps. It can be a great way to branch out and earn cash using your existing skills and knowledge.
  9. Write a story
    Everyone, it is said, has a book in them. You might not have the time, or the inclination, to compose a whole novel, but you may have a short story or piece of flash fiction. There are plenty of websites that pay for your stories and there are sites for specific genres, like sci-fi and horror too. Even fan-fic sites pay for contributions, so if you have a creative idea you can sell your idea and earn a little extra cash for it.
    There are chances for poetry writers too, and there are websites that cater specifically for poetry writers and can pay around $25 for a single poem. You could try and pitch your story to a print magazine too. Women’s magazines often have a fiction section and so need freelance writers to submit stories to their sites.
  10. Enter competitions
    Now that the boss isn’t looking, you are watching daytime TV and reading all the gossip magazines. As you’re at home, working in your pyjamas, you can also call and text in to competitions, potentially earning cash rewards or even dream holidays. And the bonus of working from home is that you’re available to receive those all-important phone calls to accept your prize live on air! Listen, too, to radio stations that pay simply for hearing the same artist play a number of times. Simple competitions that you may have missed in the office.

Self-isolating needn’t be boring. Yes, you may have work to get on with, but it is also a chance for you to earn a little extra cash while the boss isn’t looking!

Elastic Bands

On this day, 175 years ago, the elastic band was patented in London. How many uses can you find for using elastic bands?

  • A – Assult, surely the most common use of the band is to be fired at others.
  • B – Band work. Create a musical instrument from it.
  • C – Collections. Theres big ones, small ones, thin ones, fat ones. How big is your collection?
  • D –
  • E – Elephant trunk anti-sneezing device.
  • F
  • G
  • H – Hoopla. Bored at the desk? Get it over your pen. Red ones are 10 points.
  • I
  • J
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • N
  • O
  • P
  • Q
  • R
  • S
  • T
  • U
  • V
  • W
  • X – X-rated uses. No comment.
  • Y
  • Z –

Comment below if you’ve got other uses! Let’s get a complete A-Z of elastic band uses.

What has Shakespeare done for English?

It’s Shakespeare week. It’s well known that the Bard coined many phrases that we still use today. Did you know that these well used phrases were all penned by Shakespeare?

  • All that glitters isn’t gold
  • Be all and end all
  • Brevity is the soul of wit (a key one for some writers me thinks – Nick)
  • Eat out of house and home
  • Fair play
  • Heart of gold
  • It’s Greek to me
  • One fell swoop
  • The course of true love never did run smooth

For decades, schoolchildren have been forced to study Shakespeare without much of an emphasis on what he has actually achieved for the English language today. Reading plays, while important, is just one way to understand his impact. Perhaps, this Shakespeare week, we can all explore the richness of language the Bard has left us with.

What richness of language we will leave in our writing.

The secret to longevity

“What is the secret to your longevity?” I asked the author who had come to sign books at the local, independent bookshop this week. She has been around a while and has quite many books out. Incidentally, we should all be making a far greater effort to buy local. It is these shops that are the heart of local high streets and wider communities. They greet us by name as we walk in and know what we want to buy organically, not because of some computer-generated algorithm. We might think that buying online, especially in this Covid-19 panic season, is safer, but I would much rather spend my money in a local shop than over the web. Plus, this bookshop, gets books to me faster than a well-known online book retailer!

So, what was the secret of her longevity? How does she keep writing books? The secret is, she tells me in a slightly conspiratorial fashion, is about inclusivity.

“The secret is to make people feel they are not alone.” She elaborates, “Just because they’ve broken up or had a baby, they are still part of the human race.”

Whilst she was talking about her female protagonists, it is quite clear that this is a principle we should all be aiming for in our writing, whatever the genre. If it is not connecting to the audience, what are we going it for?

I recently edited a piece of writing that contained many masculine pronouns, unnecessarily so. The writer, albeit not a native speaker of English, had automatically assumed that those working and buying in a certain sector would be male. It is an easy trap to fall into. All the books and TV series I had growing up featured gender stereotyped roles and attitudes and that wasn’t that long ago.

Editing can make sure that you don’t fall into the same trap. Editors can spot the bias remarks. (that is quite a biased statement but as I am an editor, surely, I can make that one?) Writing should, as the author who signed my book knows, be as inclusive as possible and make everyone feel part of the human race.