Monday, March 23, 2015

New story - again

It's not all that long ago I wrote about being carried away on a new story. In the middle of that one inspiration struck with something completely different. This story is about Anne who takes a teaching job at a boarding school. Naturally, nothing is exactly what it seems, because if it was there wouldn't be a story.

This is a portion of the first - rough - draft where Anne has just arrived to her new home with the headmaster, Brinkley. Poor girl, she has no idea what she's in for. ;-)


Brinkley was animated, so excited Anne thought his mustache might walk off on its own. “Your luggage should be in your new rooms already. I’ll take you there in a minute. You might want to mark where we’re going on your map. Did I give you a map?”

“No, Sir.”

He patted all his pockets and stuck his fingers into them until he finally found a piece of folded parchment.

“Here you go.”

She was still unfolding it when he took off towards the large door again, and she jogged to catch up.

“Headmaster... Mister Brinkley… Sir…”

He showed no signs of hearing her or slowing down. Trying to unfold the map while running made her drop her purse, spilling its contents over the ground.

Dammit. This isn’t starting well.

Her lipstick rolled over the ground to the left and she chased it for a few steps. Behind her someone said, “Sir, you’re losing your girl.”

The slow male voice reminded her of black velvet, but with a sarcastic edge.

Brinkley’s said, “What? Oh. Good heavens.”

Anne ignored them and chased after her jar of moisturizer. It, at least, had the good sense to roll towards the castle. It came to rest under the toes of a black boot.

“Stop that. As amusing as it is to see a woman on her knees before me I doubt this is a good use of your time.”

She looked up a very long leg dressed in black pants, a black shirt, and into a handsome but unemotional face framed with shoulder length dark hair. From her angle the owner of the voice seemed very tall, and he didn’t look amused at all.

If anything, he looked bored.

Why does a man have that hair? Not fair. I want it.

He held a bunch of her pens in one hand, along with her iPad mini dangling between two fingers, but offered his free hand to pull her up.

He was tall even when she stood in high-heeled boots. Must be well over six feet to tower over her like that.

He dropped her things in her purse and Brinkley said, “Thank you David. Anne, this is Professor Lindeman. David, this is miss Anne Doyle, our new expert in ancient languages.”

She smiled. “It’s very nice to meet you.”

“The pleasure is all mine, I’m sure.” He sounded like she’s told him to eat two pounds of lemons.

Brinkley clapped his hands together.

“Excellent. Do you have everything? Let’s go.”

Monday, March 16, 2015

Why your freelancer wants to be paid

I've worked freelance for about a year now, since hubs fell ill. It has its ups and downs. Being able to work from anywhere is definitely an up. I'm not always able to pay the bills on time - definite down. From time to time I've had big problems with my clients not paying their bills, not because they don't have money but because it's not a priority, and that causes lots of problems.

Anyway, one of the most common questions I encounter when negotiating with clients is why I would be worth more money per hour than hiring someone. "Why would I pay you $25/hour when I can hire someone for $17?"

If you think you need someone full time or part time for a longer period of time, having an in-house employee might be the right choice. However, to make a fair comparison you have to take all costs into account, not just the hourly wage. Also, when you hire someone you generally have them whether you have work for them or not. Most freelancers are paid on a performance basis. If you use a third-party platform such as oDesk they will even guarantee that all time invoiced is time that actually went to your specific project.

When you hire someone, you will be responsible for payroll, taxes, providing the person with a space to work, furniture, electricity, phone, computers or similar equipment, software, internet connection, pens, paper, education, and much more.

As a freelancer, I not only need to make money to pay my bills. I also pay for my own health insurance, office space, furniture, computers, software, office supplies, and everything else I need to do a good job. I provide PC and Mac platforms, Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere, Microsoft software, camera, and much more. Some clients even demand their work be kept on a separate computer.

I often work on evenings and weekends for the same hourly pay as the rest of the days. If I need to learn something to stay on top of what I do, it's my responsibility to learn it. It is also my responsibility to do a good job.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Daylight savings pain in the behind...

I have always disliked daylight savings time, because I'm not exactly a morning person. In my opinion, nothing that means having to get up earlier can be a good thing. Where I'm living now and the way I'm working, it's even more a pain in the behind.

I believe that daylight savings is maintained by people who can't sleep in the morning. They want everyone else to get up and keep them company. Or, they might be sadistic insomniacs who want everyone else to be miserable too.

It was originally intended to save energy, but in modern society, that doesn't work.

There has been several studies showing that we might lose energy on daylight savings, at least in areas that need to use AC. Daylight savings increases the risk of a heart attack, disturbs farm animals, and more. (You can read more here.)

I've run into some people who think daylight savings is the best thing ever, because that means it will be spring now. It doesn't work like that. Weather and seasons don't care about our clocks, lol.

My biggest problem - besides being tired for half of the year until we return to normal time - is the confusion it causes. Because guess what - not all areas and countries go on daylight savings, and not everyone changes at the same time.

This complicates life, because you're used to knowing a time difference between different areas, and suddenly that changes, but maybe only for a couple of weeks, or for a few months. That means that suddenly you have to re-think all meetings, and re-learn when people are available.

Of course it's doable - with research or a lot of questions - but it makes life much harder than it needs to be. For example, tomorrow I have a meeting with someone in London at ten my time. I think.

We decided this last week, and now I don't know if they think that our ten is still at ten like it was last week, or ten like it will be next week. Did they change now too? No clue.

Sweden uses daylight savings, but they go on it later than the US, and I'm pretty sure they go off it earlier than the US. That means that for some parts of the year there's a six hour time difference, but for a few weeks it's a five hour time difference. This matters, because it changes when people are available, it changes cut-off times for banking, and a number of other things.

I work with a guy in Croatia. That's great and he is awesome, but do they go on daylight savings at the same time as we do, so he'll be available during the same time-window I think he is, or did all that just change?

I also have a meeting planned with someone in Colorado in not too long. Do they go on daylight savings too, so the meeting that used to be a certain time my time is still the same time my time, or will it be another time now, and if so, when?

Gaaah!

I'm so confused.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Peaceful morning snooze

Weekend mornings are the best. I usually get up at the same time as on weekdays, or even earlier, take the dogs out, and go back to bed for morning doggie cuddle. Bonnie curls up at my feet, Topper next to me, and I'll sit working or even reading on the iPad with a pile of pillows behind my back and a cup of coffee within reach.

I suspect I like being close more than the dogs do - they probably get warm - but they humor me. By the time I remember my coffee it has usually gotten cold, and this isn't a common problem, lol.

While I sit here, a part of me still knows I need to work, hang the laundry, buy detergent, go to the bank, and all the other everyday chores that seem impossible to escape, but during weekend snuggle time, I don't care.

Bliss.

Do you have a special weekend routine?


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lively nightmare

I had a nightmare last night. It doesn't happen often - I usually have happy dreams - and if I have a nightmare it's pretty lame. Like, being chased by zombies or some space monster, and I'm aware that I'm dreaming.

Last night was different. It was vivid and touched on my deepest fear: that something will happen and I will be unable to protect my family.

In the dream I lived in a large brick house with several floors. It was huge and also held my company that had grown to a bizarre proportion. My one-woman show had so many employees I couldn't remember their names.

That wasn't the bad part.

In the dream I woke up and couldn't find my dogs anywhere. I looked all around, but they weren't there.

I went into the business portion of the building, and there sat a young and slender woman with blonde hair. I asked if she'd by any chance seen dogs.

She told me she had given them away. She explained to whom. Bonnie was with an employee on the second floor.

Dream Maria snapped, yelled at her at great length, and finished with saying she'd better get on the phone and get them back. Dream me stated I would take a quick shower and that she had ten minutes to present my fur babies. I said, "If they're not here when I come out of the bathroom, you'll be sorry."

I don't know if she succeeded or not: I woke from Bonnie licking my face. I've had dogs all my adult life and none of them have ever woken me like that before. Guess she sensed my distress.

The thing is, after Bonnie woke me up I knew it was just a dream. My dogs were right there beside me. If the unthinkable had happened in real life, I would probably had gone to my employee on the second floor, explained that it was a mistake, and taken Bonnie back. I was still furious - in full out kill-mode. My heart raced and I wanted a sword or other sharp object, because I wanted the unknown dream-woman's head.

Literally.

Bonnie let me snuggle for a bit before she returned to her favorite spot on the bed, and my brain finally won over primal emotions.

Isn't it funny how the subconscious works, and how it can get you riled up?