Dear so and so

October 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

Dear So and So...I enjoyed myself so much last week, I thought I would do it again. Although I am very glad I checked out 3bedroombungalow’s first as I was going to do exactly the same addressees (read it and you’ll see what I mean). Great minds…

 However, it’s been a (very) bad week so I can’t guarantee the amusement factor, but here goes…

Dear person responsible for Monday
Not any or every Monday, which is bad enough, but the person responsible for making me cry almost non-stop for 24 hours, on one of the top 10 worst days EVER in my life, I just wanted to say thanks. And you are a silly bitch.
Yours, one who has (just about) given up on the idea of GBH but who is still quite cross.
Dear school,
When you run a ‘sponsored’ reading session at school, please refrain from involving my children. Firstly, they *should* be reading at school, that is your job, and second it is just an excuse to bleed even more money out of parents. And don’t try and pretend the money is for books- you do this every year and still some of the reading books are 25 years old. I have checked.
Yours, someone who is tired of shelling out 
Dear Co-operative group of companies
I ranted about your car insurance recently, and now your financial services have joined them in utter stupidity land. And your supermarkets don’t even sell Garibaldi biscuits. Pathetic
Yours, ex-co-operative consumer
Dear Ken Bruce
When you play ‘Tragedy’ on the radio in future, is there any chance you could play the Steps version instead of the original BeeGees? Thing is, when you play the original I have to sing in a very high strangled-frog style falsetto and it hurts my throat.
Yours, someone trying to do the actions while driving.

Dear so and so…

September 30, 2011 § 3 Comments

Dear So and So...Just lately I have been reading the Dear So and So posts over on my friend Nicki Cawood’s blog Curly and Candid. I didn’t realise how much I was enjoying them until last week when she DARED not post one. Of course I chastised her about this over on Twitter and she pointed me in the direction of the insightful Three Bedroom Bungalow, who started the whole thing and where a Linky to many other Dear So and So posts can be found.

But by not having one to read, I have been inspired to write one. Can’t promise it’ll be any good, but here goes…

Dear Old Boss
After your behaviour the past week or so, I am mightily glad you are now my Old Boss.
Yours, one with a much better job, thanks.

Dear small girl,
When you said you wanted to run the country I was very proud. Who would have thought my just-turned-four year old would have such lofty ambitions at so tender an age. I was about to tell you to go for it, why not aim high, when I realised you meant you wanted to do the school cross country run. Running across the school field may be a more immediate goal than running the country from Number 10, but I am no less proud.
Yours, someone who would really like to nose inside Number 10

Dear School Mom
How dare you not invite my son to your son’s 7th birthday party. My son is far more interesting than your son and therefore couldn’t fail to liven the event up. Bet it’ll be rubbish anyway. You are now dead to me.
Yours, overreacting mum.

Dear Neighbours
I like you. I have no issue with your slightly hippy tendencies. But your new organic fertiliser on the front garden? It smells like, well, exactly what it is.
Yours, someone who winces every time they use their front door.

What’s your number? And is it good or bad?

August 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

This weekend I came face to face with the boy who took my (eagerly volunteered) virginity. Of course he was no longer a boy, but a man, much as I was no longer that 16 year old girl, but in the 18 years since, he has changed hardly at all, while I would give my eye teeth to still be as I was then.

But seeing him (and hiding behind large sunglasses so he didn’t see me) got me thinking about my sex life. I’m not talking details here, but I am wondering whether the number of sexual partners I have had is reasonable or not? I don’t think it’s a particularly high number, given my age, but if I then consider I have been with my husband for ten years, it then gets slightly less respectable. If I then think that before I met my husband I was in long-term relationships for 5 years, am I on my way to becoming one of those girls?

I have never really considered myself as one of those girls, after all I am the nice girl who did NOT sleep with her husband-to-be on the first (or even the second) date, a fact which said husband later admitted would have probably meant our relationship was over sooner. Hypocritical bloke.

But given I am a ‘Generation X’ er, who is still supposed to living up the high-and-career life at the ripe of age of 34, surely the rest of my peers (and facebook does seem to confirm the trend among the majority of my school year) who are still on the market as it were will be well into double, if not triple figures by now. And is that OK, given their extra time on the pitch, or are they brazen women too?

Just wondering aloud, and would love your thoughts (no specifics needed!)

So have *you* won the Buy Student Art competition?…

June 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Greetings! With apologies for the delay (and the shopping in the background) it is now time to announce the winner of the http://www.buystudentart.co.uk competition to win some fabulous FREE contemporary art work from up and comind artists Laura Lou Power.

So without further ado, a drumroll please for my gorgeous assistants…

Congratulations! I will be in contact later today to ask for your address so we can get your fantabulous artwork posted out to you.

Thanks again to both Laura Lou and Kerri for supporting this competition. Next stop- Cybermummy!!

People per hour – worth a look or another way to devalue writing?

May 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

Hi. My name is Sam and I am a writer.

You wouldn’t think that would be so hard a thing to say, but, despite the fact that more and more of us are writing through the explosion of blogs, many people have a mental block considering themselves a writer.

I am fortunate in that I genuinely do earn a living from writing, both as a copywriter under Clarity, but I also write articles for various websites and magazines. Not quite brave enough to call myself a journalist yet mind. However, when I started out as a writer a few years ago, I signed up for all these freelance bidding sites hoping to get some work.

Back then, they were all US based, and being competitive against the exchange rate would have been hard enough, but with the number of bidders flooding these sites from places like India, where a $1 would actually be reasonable money for them, it was impossible.

Now, the UK site People Per Hour has grown to become a genuinely useful resource for those looking to supplement their income by doing some freelance writing (amongst other specialisms), is UK based, and many of the buyers are looking specifically for UK writers. You can join for free, and make up to 10 bids for work per calendar month. If you want to upgrade, prices start from £7.95 a month which allows you up to 40 bids. So far so good.

However, my problem with the site, as with all sites of this nature, is that it perpetuates the myth that writing isn’t worth much.

When you start out, you probably don’t know how much to charge. If you look on these sites you will get a distorted view of what writing is worth. Obviously, if you are just starting out, you will command a lower price than an experienced specialist, but according to People Per Hour, writing is not even worth minimum wage.

A number of job postings pay less than £5 per hour, and some even state this in the job description. While this is probably legal, the minimum wage regulations covering employment, rather than freelance work, I do not think it is fair or right.

Being as I am of a journalistic bent, and have developed a taste for asking questions over at Bitterwallet I thought I would ask PPH what they thought. I asked them if having such pitifully paid jobs devalued the site as a jobs board. They said “not at all”.

I asked if they offered guidance to job posters on what a reasonable rate might be. They said

The fact is that many clients are uneducated about what certain services cost. We’re not in a position to set prices for the hundreds of jobs posted on our site everyday. That’s not our expertise – it’s the expertise of the freelancer who knows his or her industry, and the value of his or her service offering.

Hmm. So I asked them whether they thought it was right that jobs paying under what is, let’s be honest, a pretty measly rate anyway, should be listed*. They responded that

“Clients are terrible at guessing what most things cost unless they’ve bought it before. Our marketplace in fact educates people about that, if anything.”

So. People Per Hour educate people about how much things should cost. I see. Obviously writing is not worth minimum wage then-  take a look at this listing for a People Per Hour blogger, paying £5 an hour.

But there is some good news. On some jobs, more seasoned writers will tell the person looking for a whole book to be ghost written for £100 (for example) that their budget is unreasonable, and that they need to pay more for time and expertise. But the problem remains, while writers still bid at such low rates, people will still post jobs at that rate.

So my aim for this blog post? Whether you choose to go with PPH or not, I want to empower** you as a writer to seriously think before you agree to write 10 blog posts for £10. Without wanting to sound like Cheryl Cole (as that would be pants) you are worth it, so start believing it!

*that was my verbatim question. Including the word measly.

** I don’t usually use words like empower. That’s how strongly I feel about this.

Do you ever turn down work?

May 19, 2011 § 6 Comments

Working for yourself is a funny old thing, and probably more so if you are the main breadwinner. If someone offers you work, you do it, right? Not only because you want to deliver a great service to your clients, but also because, quite frankly, you might be in need of that money next month.

I am pretty busy writing at the moment, but I also have some University work and marking to do, not to mention the fact that I have tried to cut down on work for the past two weeks while recovering from a tonsillectomy. So when I received an email today asking me to do a small piece of work I should have said no. I didn’t.

I should have said no because the reason I work for myself and from home is so I get to spend time with my family. The only way I am going to be able to fit this work in is to do it over the weekend. So surely accepting this work is going against the reason for my current choice of career?

But on the other hand, it should only take me an hour, if I don’t do it, I probably won’t get any more work from this guy for a while and I get some pennies in my bank account.

So what would you have done? I’m not interested in anyone being judgmental (hey, I’ve said I’ll do it now, making me feel bad about it won’t achieve anything) just in how other people approach this kind of mini-conundrum.

Where are we going on Saturday? Oink oink!

March 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

The clue was in the question, on Saturday we are lucky enough to have been invited to Peppa Pig World at Paultons Theme park in Hampshire. I was going to lie and say that small boy and small girl are very excited. This is not true because a) I am the most excited and b) it is a big SURPRISE for them. Let’s hope small boy doesn’t find this blog then, as he can read…

I am going with friend and fellow blogger Joanne Dewberry and between us we will have a 2,3,4 and 5 year old, two boys and two girls, so we intend to test the park thoroughly. We will report back next week!

Until then, if you weren’t lucky enough to win one of the Golden Tickets we mentioned on here a little while ago, there are still opening offers on the website, and children under 1m go free. We will, however, be investigating whether being under 1m means you can’t go on anything (as the two youngest are well under 1m).

And for those of you who can’t wait, and who want a sneak peek, here is some top secret pre-launch footage of PPW…

Three by nine meme. All about me!

March 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

They say the best things come in threes, and this meme is certainly full of them! I was actually tagged by both Claire and Helen for this meme, so I really have to play along don’t I?!
Three names I go by: Sam, Mommy, Ratbag.
Three places I’ve lived: Birmingham, Leeds (very briefly), North Birmingham
Three places I’ve worked: accountancy firms, university, home
Three things I love to watch: the inside of my eyelids, historical films/tv shows involving semi-naked men covered in blood, my babies
Three places I have been and love: Fiji, Australia, France
Three people that email me regularly: PR people, my editors, every bank on the planet telling me I need to re-enter my log in details
Three things I love to eat: Spaghetti Bolognese, rhubarb, chocolate
Three people I think will respondSam, Joanne, Louise
Three things I am looking forward to: Easter holidays, winning the lottery, Summer
So there you have it. Are you any the wiser? I am tagging Sam and/or Helen at Mums the Blog, Joanne at JoanneDewberry.co.uk and Louise at BabySigningMummy . So that could end up being 4. Oops.

How do you fit everything in?

March 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

er. hello.

Remember me? If you are a regular reader of this blog you will have noticed that there hasn’t been much to read of late. My apologies.

By way of excuse, I have really and truly been unbelievably busy having landed a fab new writing contract and with clarity , my copywriting/ information business. This is all good news. However, as I also work one day a week, I recently calculated that, even working evenings and weekends, I am four hours a week short of time to do all my work. I am no mathematician, but this seems to be a bit of a problem…

My workload will ease up after Easter (and I get 5 whole days off to go to the fabulous Dove Farm too) but I think I need to give myself a kick up the blogging backside before then.

My good friend Joanne Dewberry recently presented a course on blogging tips, and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at her notes. It was very interesting, especially for someone like me who isn’t that new to blogging, and therefore thought I knew it all. Or a lot anyway.

If you do get chance to see or read Joanne’s tips, I would recommend it, but the main thing I took from it, that I can (and WILL) implement now, is to start scheduling posts so that I can post even when I don’t have time.

Tomorrow is a busy day for me (because of the Budget) and I work on Thursdays, so I am going to do and schedule this weeks posts today. And if nothing else appears on here for the rest of the week, feel free to give me an *actual* kick up the bottom!

So the next seven days will see:

  • where I am going on Saturday (and am very excited about)
  • The three in nine meme
  • Fantastic, affordable contemporary art- my Cybermummy sponsor

and the Tuesday Toy review will recommence from next week. And I am going to start including adult toys too. No, not that kind of adult toy… ;)

SO how do you fit blogging into your life- is it essential, something you do when you have spare time or something you never get round to doing?

I need a KitKat!

January 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

Well when I say KitKat, I am actually referring back to the old “Have a break…” adverts, but if Nestle would like to send me a box of KitKats, I will gladly give them my address!

Do you ever have times when you literally don’t have time to catch your breath? I think life as a mum is busy anyway, but when you work from home and/or run your own business, things can get on top of you.

Everything I am doing at the moment seems to have a deadline of 31 January, and I feel like I haven’t stopped for the whole of January. I started the month finishing my tax thesis, have helped my Gran move 65 miles at age 88 and taken her shopping, to the doctors, fixed her bed, and have been so busy doing everyone else’s tax, I *still* haven’t done my own tax return. Aagh.

It’s not that I mind helping my Gran out, I just wish I had some extra time. I have worked until 11 or 12 every night for the past two weeks. I need that break! Just got to wait until Tuesday…

What do you do when you feel under pressure? Can you allow yourself some R&R time, or like me do you feeel obliged to sit at the coalface night and day chipping away in the hope you get there in time? Would love to know in the comments ;)

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