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Beatrice Davis Editorial Fellowship 2017 Report – Annabel Blay A year in the US looking at the role of the editor in commercial fiction

Every two years, one lucky editor gets to go on an all expenses paid research trip to work with publishers in the US as part of the Beatrice Davis Editorial Fellowship and this past year it was Annabel Blay.

Part of the Fellowship involves speaking at the next IPEd Conference on what the outcome of the research was and presenting a report to IPEd that is made available to all members and the public.

Annabel Blay wanted to see what the role of the editor was in commercial fiction in the US and compare it to the role in Australia. In point form below are some of the things she was able to cover in her presentation at the IPEd 2017 conference.

  • She found that having a larger market to sell to both domestically and internationally meant that there was a lot of money around and that this possibly explained some of the results she found.
  • She also found that the role of agent differed – that quite often they took on the responsibility of multiple edits of an author’s work prior to it being presented to editors in-house at publishers.
  • Editors working in-house did commissioning work, liasing with agents, project management and acquisitioning and other such work as well as doing line editing and copy editing work.
  • There is a pressure to look for the next buzzbook and there is a greater volume of work in the pipeline to get through which leads to a blurring of lines between work and non-work hours with editors resorting to various means to do get their work done as soon as possible.
  • Editors in-house or freelance working with publishers do several more rounds of edits with authors, up to about eight even after an agent has done about three rounds prior.
  • There is a notion that the career pathway is that people must get a college degree and then take on internships, often unpaid, to work their way up from the bottom.
  • Freelancers seem to have more resources than those in Australia do. There are more organisations to support them with professional development. (There are unofficial and official organisations in Australia that editors may not be aware that they are eligible to be members of).

You can read more of her findings in her report on the IPEd website.

Freelancing panel at IPEd 2017 The cheat sheet/summary notes for the freelancing panel

I’m not necessarily going to write these notes out in order but here is a quick run down of my bootstrapping for a freelancing business.

Use tech to bring freelancing work to you:

I find that my work comes through being the first person to email someone as soon as an opportunity comes up. I also find it useful to work across time zones.

So how do you bootstrap this? And for free?

Facebook groups: figure out which group has the most posts for the sort of work you want to do popping up and change its settings so that you are notified by Facebook of new posts popping up. You also should tell people you know what you are looking for and let them know to tag you whenever they see a useful or relevant opportunity.

Twitter: Using IFTTT, you can set up a little applet/sequence of commands, that states that each time a tweet matches a certain set of criteria such as the words “need an editor” or “editor wanted”, a copy of the tweet is saved into a Google Docs spreadsheet along with any links in the tweet as well. You can then log into the spreadsheet from time to time and go through the list. This method will have a lot of repetitions especially if someone retweets a tweet so be prepared for that. But it means you have a means of capturing information that you would otherwise miss in all the Twitter chatter and it allows you to respond when you have time.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn’s job search function will also let you save searches that match certain criteria and you can set it to alert you each time it finds something that does match it. You can then receive the alerts via the LinkedIn Job Search app or via email and go through to the post on LinkedIn.

Sites with RSS feeds: An RSS feed is a summary of posts on a site, usually used for blogs but in some cases for websites too. Some job sites have an RSS feed. You can specify search criteria on the site and then use the relevant RSS feed along with IFTTT again to put it into a spreadsheet that will automatically update itself and you can then go through it at your leisure.

Sites without RSS feeds: Sign up for newsletter updates if possible and set up a filter in your email inbox that signals it as important, puts it into a set folder or stars it or all of the above. You can also, using IFTTT, set it to alert you on your phone as soon as you get such an email.

Mailing lists and email networking groups: Sometimes I get news of a job opportunity via email from the freeline oz network or other groups I am part of. I then tell IFTTT to notify me as soon as a new email from such networks comes through so that I can respond as fast as I can.

Other options: Slack is a messaging service and I use it with some journalism clients to respond quickly to work they need people to take on. It can pop up in my browser and tell me if I am working on something else even when I don’t have it open.

Booking clients for meetings:

I can often only see clients on certain times on certain days. Rather than going back and forth via email, I send them to Calendly which is a scheduling app. Doodle is also another good one.

They are able to see my free times and days and pick a slot that works best for them. The appointment goes into my Google calendar and confirms it with them and I don’t have to do anything. I can also then use IFTTT to search for such appointments and set up times beforehand for me to use to prepare for them.

You used to be able to schedule appointment and meeting times straight into Google Calendar with all this functionality built in but this has been moved into the paid Google For Businesses section.

Calendly also allows you to ask a few questions upfront as the client makes an appointment such as what sort of services do they need and so on. If you keep a client mailing list, you can integrate Calendly with IFTTT and any mailing list software that you use such as MailChimp.

Accounting, billing and tax time when freelancing:

Billing: I use an online cloud based app called Rounded. It’s not free but it is very affordable and it is built specifically for Australian freelancers. I use it to invoice clients and it keeps track of people who haven’t paid and allows you to send quotes and reminders and it then also totals your income and expenses and calculates GST and presents you with a lovely profit and loss statement come tax time.

This allows me so much time because I don’t have to fill out invoice templates any more. I can track hours and bill by the hour as I go and it will update an invoice. It allows me to bill by word if I want to or add a specific cost in.

There is also Billings for Mac which is a very good option as well though built with US small businesses in mind.

Super: I set up and automate weekly deductions into my super. This allows me to claim the co-contribution payment at the end of the financial year. $20 per week is enough to get the $1000 you need in order to get $500 from the Federal Government.

This seems like very little but your fees for managing super are usually around $2-300 and so the co-contribution means it can pay for your fees and a bit extra and you can keep more of your own money in super working for you. I also recommend changing the investment pattern with your super and choosing how to invest it and letting it do its thing.

General finance stuff: Please put your money into a savings account, ask your bank manager for a higher interest rate with no fees on that account (St George’s Bank will give you 3% per annum) and then withdraw a set amount of money to spend per week and make it an automatic transaction into your checking account whether it is $50 or $250 or more per week that you think you will need for expenses apart from rent/mortgage and bills. Pay your bills out of the savings account and set up a debit card to use for business expenses that takes it out of the savings account so it is easier for you to track your business expenses but you aren’t tempted to use it for personal expenses.

Every three months look online to see who has the best interest rate offer and if you find a better deal, discuss it with your bank manager to see if they can beat it.

Set up bills to be automatically deducted. Use your credit card very sparingly or only for emergencies or try to get rid of it alltogether. All this should ensure you save as much as possible, earn as much interest as you can and spend as little as you can.

Promoting myself and my freelancing services:

Every single time I publish a blog post, it goes out to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Some of these things are built into WordPress’s functionality. Some aren’t.

When they aren’t I use IFTTT to make sure that they go through. This ensures that some of my Facebook page posts go through to Twitter. And if I have images I post them on Instagram so that they can go through to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr automatically.

It saves me a lot of trouble with having to make sure I post each new article or blog post on each social network.

I also use IFTTT to automate certain messages – I ask people regularly what they are up to at the start of each week on LinkedIn and I post political updates on Twitter using IFTTT as well.

I try as much as possible to automate the parts of social media where I am providing information to people or making it accessible. See a writing gig? Set IFTTT up to retweet it for example.

It’s important to remember that you should not automate any part of a social media conversation that needs you in it and communicating. I do have to get on and chat and be myself – the people I am speaking to on social media don’t need just a robot, they need some genuine interaction too so while this does save me time I am very careful about exactly what sort of communication I use it for.  So if I write an original social media post in my own words, I can use IFTTT to push that through to other platforms and networks but automating a message to turn up at a set time each day or week as some sort of routine can’t be done all the time on every platform.

I also use a hacked together system of IFTTT and Google Calendar where it regularly reposts or shares older blog posts of mine. You can pay for this to be done using an app like MeetEdgar but it is rather expensive so I hacked together my own but it is still a work in progress.

This would theoretically save me time because I can then ensure new audiences get to see my blog posts and come visit my site and see my services.

Back up and other odds and ends:

Make sure you scan and back up all documents to an online folder like Google Docs/Drive or Dropbox. This allows you to have important documents ready and right there when you need to apply for something online or send them to someone. It gives you a back up in case of emergency but is also safe even if your computer crashes.

I also use IFTTT to back up all attached documents I receive in my email inbox to be saved to Google Drive so I never lose anything from a client.

That’s the end of my specific topic on the freelancing panel. I will be adding notes I took while the other speakers were chatting in a few minutes to the end of this blog post, so please check back again as I have a lot to say about what they had to say too.

Robin Bower’s notes on promoting oneself and other tips and tricks

Robin Bower had an awesome model of “Sand, River and Ocean” whereby you set yourself up with a website, three social media platforms and a free incentive for people to join your mailing list. The Ocean section of that is about going out and building a profile by guest posting on other sites and answering questions on Reddit and Quora so that people can be aware of your expertise.

You can also check out her website and a PDF of tips and tricks.

IPEd 2017: Workshops, whirlwinds and welcome Because it isn't a good conference if I haven't forgotten something.

Today is sort of the first day of the IPEd 2017 conference. Sort of but not quite.

There are lots of things that have evolved into traditions over the years with this conference. One of them is the running of workshops the day before the conference actually starts.

So today there were workshops on marketing and freelancing and technical aspects of editing. From all accounts they were wonderful – unfortunately I didn’t get to attend any this time around.

But I needed that time.

I had landed in Brisbane sans business cards. And so after brunch committments, I had to have a catch up meeting with fellow IPEd 2017 panelists and speakers and then go pick up business cards. New business cards that I managed to put together and order online in the morning from ePrint Online who were absolutely fantastic at dealing with my last minute panicking. And were also very affordable. Do drop them a line. They do ship across Australia.

After fixing that I had to fix my hair. So I did and then promptly ended up in a windy part of Brisbane climbing up a hill to get back to where I’m staying to get dressed. Bye bye curls.

Another tradition at IPEd Conferences is the welcome cocktail function the night before. Hence the dash to get curls in the first place. Must have curls. And cards. And cute cocktail dress.

The welcome party gives everyone a chance to meet and allows us to put faces to names before we are too rushed the next day. Because such is the nature of such a conference.

And it was exciting to see more diversity in the room at IPEd 2017 this time. I found another Sri Lankan – editor Niranjala Hillyard, a few East Asian heritage editors and Wiley publishing turned up with 20 people in tow including one of my fellow women of colour activists who for some unknown reason decided to surprise me with the fact that she was attending IPEd 2017.

Hella Ibrahim from Wiley Publishing and I at the IPEd 2017 Conference cocktail function in Brisbane
Hella Ibrahim from Wiley Publishing and I at the IPEd 2017 Conference cocktail function in Brisbane (c) Hella Ibrahim.

Let’s do a roll call of the cool people I met whose names I can remember after one glass of champagne: Robin Bennett, Janet McKenzie, Renee Otmar (whom I missed), Niranjala Hillyard, Hella Ibrahim, Robin Bower, Michele Drouart, Kate Hawkins, Belinda Pollard, Mary Jo Rourke, Sally Aniscar, Ted Briggs, Elizabeth Speigel, Ruth Davies, Karen Lee, Malini Devadas, Stephen White, Phil Bryant,  Georgiana and Anna, fellow representatives from WA … ok I give up now. There were lots of you. I will recall and recognise people over the next few days. Slowly.  Some of you I haven’t seen since IPEd 2013.

The rooftop bar at the Rydges at Southbank was packed.

Ruth Davies had a great little speech welcoming us all and reminding us of the land we stood on and letting us know that the entire committee had beauty queen sashes with “Miss ___” on them. We managed to find Miss Communicate, Miss Direction and Miss Manage but there’s more I hope to spot during the conference.

Angel Strings gave us beautiful background music of jazz classics and standards rendered with cello and violin.

It was a great start to the conference. I will try to blog as much as possible during the conference if I can but I will tweet and instagram as well so follow me and the hashtag #iped2017 to keep up. Ten minutes after each panel I am on is over, there will be a cheat sheet/summary of my presentation on this blog so remember to check back.

And if you have photos of the conference, my camera on my phone isn’t great, send them my way and I will give you credit and drop a note in the comments below.  If you have a blog you want me to link to as well and I have mentioned your name up above, please leave a comment and I will link to it.

Amanda Jay’s The Other One is a Fairway Literary Award finalist! Which means two of my authors have been shortlisted in a row.

Ok, first things first, who is Amanda Jay?

Amanda Jay is a Sri Lankan writer – Amanda Jayatissa – who wrote a book titled The Other One.

I edited it earlier this year and she decided to self publish it in both e-book and hard copy format. It’s not doing too badly sales wise.

But yesterday she got the news that it was shortlisted for the Fairway Literary Awards in the English Language section.

The Awards are handed out to the best literary work by a Sri Lankan author in each of three languages -Sinhala, Tamil and English every year as part of the Galle Literary Festival in January.

Rewind to January 2017 and a book I edited two odd years ago for Theena Kumaragurunathan called First Utterance won in the English language category.

And now, seven months later, another author of mine, Amanda Jay, has been shortlisted.

If she wins in January, that’s two authors in a row.

And of course I am excited for my authors. Definitely. But I am also excited for me.

Every time an author wins an award, it’s a bit of reflected glory for the editor and publisher. Apart from the Rosanne Fitzgibbon Award for Editorial Excellence administered by IPEd, there is no “Best Editor of the Year” award that I know of.

And I have been lucky – this year has seen two books I worked on win awards and accolades and now Amanda Jay’s The Other One shortlisted so far. In 2014-5, it was Jane Rawson‘s Formaldehyde being one of the winners of Viva La Novella.

Each time an author wins or is recognised, it’s not just “Yes, we all knew they wrote a good story.”, it’s also “Yes, I did the right thing as an editor when working on it.”

I hope that makes sense in explaining how awesome this is, of course for Amanda Jay, but also why I am so thrilled. I actually called her while on the street, yelling excitedly and getting quite a few strange looks. Congrats again Amanda, you are making me look very good! 🙂

You can buy Amanda Jay’s book on Amazon. Read it and let us know what you think.

If all this has got you thinking, “Wait, I have a manuscript.” that’s great. I do hope it has inspired you. But I am not magic, I cannot guarantee awards or prizes. But I am doing something right.  If you still are keen after that disclaimer, I do still offer editing services.

IPEd Conference 2017 is next week and guess who is going? Pssst. It will be me.

Marisa Wikramanayake waiting to present during the IPEd Conference freelancing workshop in 2013

Yay! I am off to the IPEd conference!

And then of course you would ask “Yeah, ok Mari, what does IPEd stand for?”

IPED: Institute of Professional Editors. Professional society of editors working either in-house or freelance throughout Australia.

Basically, once every two years, somewhere in a state capital, the IPEd conference is set up and run by the local branch of IPEd. In 2013, it was our turn in Perth and yours truly was the IPEd Conference convenor. Yes. There is a video on the about me page. Go watch it. We were cool.

In 2015, the IPEd Conference was in Canberra but I could not go. I was all things IPEd Conference burnt out.

But this year, the IPEd Conference is in Brisbane and not only am I going but I am also speaking! On three panels! Upon my word and honour!

So if you are going to the conference and you want to come and catch up with me or come and meet me, you are most welcome to and here is where you can find me:

13 Sept: Wednesday night – I will be at the welcome cocktail function at the Rydges Southbank
14 Sept: Thursday morning  – I will be on the freelancing panel.
Thursday night – I will be at the gala dinner.
15 Sept: Friday morning, find me on the huge building alliances panel.
Friday afternoon, find me on the mentoring panel.
Every morning and afternoon tea and lunch break I will be somewhere warm and near the food. Please take note of this. Food will be key.

If you will be attending the conference, the hashtag is #iped2017 and the program is here.  I won’t be liveblogging the conference unless I have energy after having deep meaningful thoughts but I will be livetweeting and instagramming so make sure you follow me on @mwikramanayake and @marisa.wikramanayake to keep up.

You can definitely talk shop with me, take photos of me and all that stuff. And if you are going to be there, please let me know and leave a comment below. It will be awesome to keep an eye out for you. Also ask me about my manuscript because it is looking for a home.

A Guide to effective activism in Australia in 2017 Borne out of a brainstorming session online as to what we can all effectively do

Share this post on effective activism around. This list of the things we can do right now came out of a brainstorming session online where people were despairing a bit and I thought creating a post would render it more available to the public. If you have more ideas on effective activism to share or want to critique an idea listed here (I am not an expert on these things), leave a comment and I will add it with credit. Some of these will have different options to cater for the run up to the WA election.

Before you read this post, please read this one by Gilbert Caluya on the current attitudes involved within activism in Australia and what you should not be doing or thinking if you don’t want to trip yourself up as you go. It’s the must read before reading the rest of this list, I insist.

1. Find out who your local representatives are. 

    Depending on the issue, this may mean your list of people to call/email/both might include a local govt rep, a state parliament rep, a federal parliament rep and a cabinet minister. 

2. Call & email them

The thinking is that the representatives care about their salaries which depends on getting re-elected so they need to think about pleasing the kingmakers in their parties and the majority opinion of their constituency. So make them realise what the majority opinion is by contacting them in groups. Contact those who directly represent you. They don’t care about constituents in other areas with other representatives. 

 If not in the run up to a state/local election, then pick one issue, organise around it, join any groups already existing who are organised around the issue and then call and email your list of people and ask them clearly to a) respond to you and b) to act in a certain way (ie: oppose a bill etc)

2b: if in the run up to a state/local election, you may get away with mentioning several issues but still keep it to two or three and make it a coordinated effort. Go for the things that again have easy actions for your members to act upon such as opposing Roe 8 and the sale of Western Power. If in WA, mention that you would like to see some action or you will have to vote for One Nation (not that you would/wouldn’t – I personally don’t recommend it but hey your choice) and/or the Greens.

Issues that we need action on: Roe 8, indigenous rights, centrelink debt crisis, welfare funding cuts, asylum seeker policies and detention centres, racism and racist ideologies, unemployment issues, defunding of WA literary arts sector, copyright laws and PIRs, the sale of Western Power, expense rorting, WA’s state debt and the money spent on Skyworks instead of on infrastructure and services etc…


3. Talk to local groups before calling

They may be able to help you with what would be the most advantageous or easiest thing to ask your representatives to do. They may have scripts you can use for emailing and calling. So check in with them before calling or emailing.

4. Once you have emailed/called keep them accountable

Report on who responded and how. If they were nasty to you, record that and share it across social media. Keep calling if they do not respond.

5. When calling be as polite as possible and calm.

You have the right to hang up if they are abusive. You have the right to report that abuse. Try to remain calm as possible. Hang up the moment you do not feel safe. Record it if possible.

6. Divulge group info only if group agrees and you feel safe to do so.

If asked about being part of a group and you have permission and feel safe to do so, then say you are. Otherwise, state that you are an individual and that you are horrified at the current stance on said issue.

7. Cover the rallies and flood social media.

Go to rallies and film and photograph what goes on and pass it around on social media. Pass anything newsworthy on to the reporters you know – you can find a list of them on my Twitter account.

8. If you can, then post.

If you have the ability to post about these issues on a blog or page, then do so.  Share your footage of events and posts on the pages of politicians and parties and tag them in your tweets about the issues.

9. Follow the campaign trail. 

Turn up to campaign events for your local, state and federal representatives and ask them the questions about the issues. Do not carry the signs if you are the person wanting to ask a question. Ask the question as many times as you need to and do not let go of the mic if given one and ask the representative why they won’t answer. Get someone else to film it and share the footage of the representative if they do not respond. Hold them accountable – as your representative they have to pay attention to you, they have to listen to your concerns, they have to answer your questions. If you are polite and firm, they cannot say that they have been harassed by you. You have just been persistent.

10. Keep in mind whose land you are on.

Always center the voices of indigenous people in your effective activism please. When possible use the indigenous language local to where you are in your daily life.

11. Go to them.

Go to district offices of representatives and ask for a meeting. Report on social media if people refuse to meet with you. Report what they say to you.

12. Talk to the media.

Organise group press conferences outside the district office if the response is unsatisfactory or they have not responded. State your concerns to the media and hold your representatives accountable.

13. Use encryption wisely.

If you want to coordinate things on your phone and are concerned about security, please use Signal to do so. Signal is your best option, they cannot give info away because they don’t record it at all and if you start using Signal for all your messaging then no one can tell who you are talking to by when you use it. So make it your default messaging app. Do not use Whatsapp, Google chat or FB chat.

14. Do not lock your phone with a fingerprint.

Put a pincode on your phone before attending rallies and events. You cannot be forced to divulge a passcode. If possible leave the phone at home or turn off geolocation.

15. Look after yourself.

If you need to take a break for self care then do so. If you cannot attend in person, find other ways to be involved. Always try to do this in a group of like-minded individuals. Tell people where you are going and when you will be back in touch and when to get worried if they don’t hear from you.

16. Be vocal.

Talk to your friends and family about what, how and why you are doing what you do. They may not join you but perhaps they will call someone or vote differently. Pass on the office numbers of representatives and let people know if they are refusing to answer the phone etc.

17. You can be quiet in your effective activism too.

Join a group or organisation to work behind the scenes. If you can, volunteer to work with parties that you feel you can support. Figure out how best you can use your knowledge and skills and go do that.

These are all things that you are legally allowed to do. None of it constitutes harassment. None of it is anything you should be locked up for.

A lot of ideas about effective activism came from this guide to effective activism in the US. This is another one to what individuals can do and here is another about self care. If you have more ideas then please add them in the comments and I will add them to this list as we go.

9 unexpected helpful lessons learnt as a freelance writer in 2016 A long list of the things I should probably not do

Mentoring and mentorships for writers

I think it is important to reflect on what lessons you have learnt so far from time to time especially when it comes to the business side of being a freelance writer. I think it is also important to acknowledge that some lessons you tend to have to keep learning over and over till they stick in your brain. And some things are easier for others to get straight away but tend to take you forever and vice versa. But in case this helps, here is a list of what I learnt in 2016, proving yet again that I did not know everything when I started out.  Continue reading9 unexpected helpful lessons learnt as a freelance writer in 2016 A long list of the things I should probably not do

7 useful lessons I learnt from an unexpected laptopless week The experiment that I didn't exactly sign up for

A lesson can show up at the oddest moment. Over the Christmas break, my laptop died. It was eight years old and the battery stopped working and the power cord no longer functioned well when plugged in.

After having upgraded the hinges, the battery, the memory and several other parts of the laptop over the years, I knew it was time to get a new one.

I generally try to hold on to laptops and technology for as long as possible – I don’t want to waste by getting new stuff as it comes out for the sake of getting new stuff if you know what I mean. That’s just not my thing.

So I got online and after much huffing and double checking and grieving for the previous laptop (I tend to get attached) I ordered a new one. It was meant to arrive the same day that I got back to Perth from overseas – the 11th of January.

The key word there was “meant”. It didn’t arrive.

After a lot of back and forth between HP and I, it finally did come. Yesterday. A week after it was first due.

A week seems a short time. But I had planned client related work, blogging and all sorts of other things for that week that I was back. And so I had to manage laptopless/computerless for a week with no word for most of it as to whether it would be a week or a month or more that would have I have to do so before it turned up.

Very #firstworldproblems, definitely. But I learned a lot during those days.

Lesson 1: You can do a hell of a lot within two hours and you may only have two hours.

Why two hours? Because in Western Australia, you only get two hours per day to use the computers at any library that you are a member of. So if you have clients wondering when you are going to get back to them, you have to plan your day to fit client work into two hour slots as you move from library to library.

Lesson 2: You can do all your emailing, skyping and social media on your phone.

Anything that doesn’t require a computer and can be done quickly, do on your phone. Seriously, it’s easier.

Lesson 3: Plan your time according to the technology.

First, if you have access to computers that cannot connect to the internet but can work, do all the typing, all the things you can do on them that don’t need an online connection immediately for and put it all on to an USB. Then, go to the library and use the computers with internet access.

Lesson 4: Your past self can come in handy.

Past Marisa created blog posts in advance, social media posts in advance, a ton of things in advance that just then worked without Present Marisa even remembering till something pinged on the phone. I was worrying a bit about the blog till things pinged and it turned out that I had planned a few posts in advance after all.

Lesson 5: Store stuff in the cloud.

I put a few important documents in the cloud, in online storage and that has helped me several times and it did so here as well. I could start working on strange computers and I could set up the new laptop as soon as it arrived.

Lesson 6: You learn what is important in terms of work.

What was important was the ability to apply for work and the ability to find jobs and the ability to complete client work. Those were my top priorities work wise, not the blog, not social media. And it was worth knowing that because I want to know what to keep going and what to work on better.

Lesson 7: You learn what is important in the rest of your life.

I organised my papers and my desk, cleaned things, spent time with friends and it was all good. And I realised that I had not made a lot of time for my hobbies in my life so I decided to do more of that. And yes I did worry a bit about my delivery at the same time throughout that but I still got to do all that. Because I wasn’t behind a laptop.

And when the laptop arrived and I had set it up, there was also a sense of relief because I realised, yes my previous laptop was awesome to have lasted for so long and there is nothing wrong with bar its power issues but a new laptop is going to help me do a lot of stuff faster. It’s a faster model and I am doing a lot of things now that I wasn’t eight years ago and if I can get work done faster then I have more time to do other things. The stress of worrying about whether I would have enough power, if it would overheat or not, if I would have enough time – stress I didn’t even know I had – it’s all sort of gone out the window right now.

Over to you

So has this ever happened to you? What did you do? How long have you ever had a piece of tech for? What are your old faithfuls in terms of devices? Tell me in the comments because I want to know if I am the only one who wants to get the maximum use out of a piece of tech before I get rid of it. And am I the only one who names their laptops?

Because I want you to help me name it.

My last laptop was Xerxes. I have an HP Pavilion and I name my laptops after historical and mythological figures from Greek and Roman Civilisation where the names starts with the first letter of the model. So I am looking for a female name starting with P.

I put a call out on Twitter and this was the result:

Some others also suggested Pallas Athene/a and Persephone. I am hoping for a name that’s easy to say and one that isn’t immediately obvious.

Polyhymnia is the muse of sacred poetry, Phantasos is the spirit of fantasy, Psyche is soul, Providentia is forethought, Porrima is the future, Peitho is persuasion and Poros is the spirit of accomplishment and expediency.

I am still none the wiser as to what to choose so if you like one of these names or have a suggestion, please let me know in the comments.

Want to stay in touch?

My top 10 posts in 2016 It is very interesting to see what you like to read

I'm blogging this by Jhayne via Flickr (additional text by me)

It is a fact of life that whenever you try to plan your life you end up dropping something at some point – life intervenes and you have to. You have to prioritise. In 2016 it was this blog. But it is interesting to see what my top 10 posts were for 2016 in terms of how many people viewed/read them. I got views despite not being as active as I wanted to be on the blog. I am hoping to change that this year. It is also interesting to see what people read and to try and unpick why that was the case.

PS: All headings are clickable and will take you to the posts in question.

Continue readingMy top 10 posts in 2016 It is very interesting to see what you like to read

52 writing prompts in 2017: Week 2

I need writing prompts. I am planning to write 52 short stories this year. A short story per week.

Some will be terrible. A few won’t be. But the more I write, the better I will be at crafting a short story.

There’s 52 weeks worth of writing prompts for those of you who also want to write short or long pieces and are struggling. Use them as themes/first lines/plot points/endings. It is up to you.

Leave a comment if you end up using any of these and if you are feeling up to it, please share so we can read your awesome work too. And if you have a cool prompt then let us know.

The girl who watches everyone else in the tax department's waiting room.