The Black Cat monthly round-up: August 2021

I had my second dose COVID vaccination in the early part of August. Like with the first dose, I had a very sore arm for a couple of days, but I’ve been quite fortunate in that that’s the only side effect I have experienced. It’s comforting to know I have the protection of two jabs, and so do all of my close friends and family.

What I’ve been working on

August has been a ridiculously busy month. I finished the copy-edit of the psychological thriller I was working on in July, and I moved on to the copy-edit of the author’s next novel, which is a longer, more disturbing, tale. I have finished the copy-edit of the last instalment of an epic fantasy fiction series, and I am very sad to say goodbye to the characters I’ve spent so much time with. I’m also sad that my collaboration with the author has come to an end – it has been a wonderful experience. July’s critique was also finished off, and I have a new one that I will focus on at the beginning of September.

I’ve had three proofreads on my plate – one a modern exploration of the personalities of Greek gods, one a murder-mystery, and one a collection of short stories. The first two are done, and the third will be finished by early September.

What I read for fun

There has been no reading for fun. I chose sleep instead. Please see the section above for my excuses.

Ghost hunting

A sub-heading I never thought I’d use, but here we are. Oxford Castle and Prison is not huge, but the history is impressive (and horrifying and deeply sad, as with most places of historical interest). It was an interesting evening, if very tiring (I am not made to stay up past midnight and the event lasted until 3am). I cannot report any significant breakthroughs in providing evidence of contact from the other side, but there were a few motion detectors set off, some unexplained footsteps and knocking sounds, and some bits and pieces caught via spirit box. Others had whole conversations via the Ouija board, but it doesn’t seem that I have any sensitivity to these things. It hasn’t changed my naturally sceptical outlook, but it was mostly good fun. I am disappointed but not surprised to report that COVID precautions meant that snacks were not provided, but my friend brought his home-made brownies and they kept us going. I may also have had a cheeseburger on the way home – it was a little like being a student again.

Looking ahead

It’s my birthday in September, so I am looking forward to some time off to enjoy it. I will be attending the CIEP conference, which takes place online this year and runs from Saturday 11 September to Tuesday 14 September. There are some great speakers lined up and I am looking forward to absorbing their kindly shared knowledge.

The Black Cat monthly round-up: February 2021

I looked back on my February 2020 blog post before I started to write this. It was about a year ago that the COVID situation really started to escalate in the UK – I had decided not to go to the London Book Fair, but the local group celebration of the CIEP being granted chartered status still seemed possible. It feels like a million years ago. February 2021 saw me visiting a COVID testing site in Newbury. I had a temperature and was feeling unwell, so I went to get tested. It’s a strange experience, and it was almost impossible not to sneeze when I was doing the nose swab. I had to let one of my clients know I may have difficulty sending back the hard-copy proofread they had planned to send me, but they kindly asked me to take on an on-screen copy-edit for them instead. Fortunately, my test came back negative and I felt mostly back to normal after a few days of rest.

What I’ve been working on

I managed my workload this month despite not feeling well for a while. I did have to put some of my tutoring work on the back burner for a while, but I am catching up with the backlog and my students have been very understanding.
I started February with the proofread of a thriller with a large cast and a storyline that spanned multiple decades. I moved on to the copy-edit of a biography of an early gay rights activist. It isn’t something I would usually take on (I rarely copy-edit non-fiction) but the subject matter is compelling. I also have on my desk the copy-edit of the third instalment of an epic fantasy fiction series. These are both long projects and will take me into March. However, I did finish off the critique I started in January.

Looking ahead

We are nearly at the end of the financial year, and that means I need to think about the continuing professional development I would like to do in the next financial year. The West Surrey and North Hampshire CIEP local group is due a meet-up in March, and I have hope that at some point this year we may be able to have an in-person meeting – even if it still isn’t our much-delayed chartership celebration.