Hello, I'm Katie. I work with words.

Freelance Writer, Trainer and Content Consultant.

On Training;

Posted on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 in Freelancing, Work Updates | 0 comments

I taught my first training course in Glasgow aged 22.

It was for Inspiring Scotland, an umbrella organisation that works to support a wide range of charities. I’d done a lot of one-to-one training before and a lot of presenting (thanks to years of drama classes and Student TV) but it was the first time I’d put those two skills together. I had valuable expertise to share and had put a lot of work into my training resources, but it was still a little daunting to be one of the youngest people in the room and the trainer. Luckily, it went brilliantly and over the following weeks I taught two more courses for the organisation, one in Edinburgh and one in Inverness. After that, I was hooked.

In the couple of years that followed I was involved in teaching numerous other workshops and seminars. I thoroughly enjoyed this kind of work for two reasons:

1. because I love sharing knowledge and ideas

2. because it provided the perfect alternative to what I spend the rest of my working life doing: sitting in a room on my own staring at a laptop.

Of course situations change, and when Mr M and I moved down to England and I started working on a masters degree alongside my freelance work, I took a break from training. I really missed it though, and when the opportunity arose last year for me to work with the University of York professional development and training department to develop a course on Writing for the Web, I was thrilled.

We planned the first course in April, and it sold out a few weeks in advance. The attendees were from a wide range of different professional backgrounds, and it was great to share ideas and discuss possibilities as a group for taking their online content further. Thanks to the enthusiasm of the attendees, I have two more upcoming courses with the university: a second Writing for the Web half day course on 15th October and an Advanced Writing for the Web half day course next January (date TBC).

I’m also now working with another great training organisation: The Training Gateway. I’m running a similar Writing for the Web course with them next week in London, which I’m really looking forward to.

When I started freelancing, the possibility of working as a trainer wasn’t something I even considered. However, I’ve always been open to new opportunities, and that first course in Glasgow turned out to be one of the best things that could’ve happened to my career. I’m always going to love sitting at my laptop experimenting with ideas and writing but, as it turns out, I also love sharing my ideas and expertise with other people.

 

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Coming Up; Maternity Leave

Posted on Friday, June 6, 2014 in Work Updates | 0 comments

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If you’ve seen me out and about in York over the past few months, you’ll probably have noticed that I’ve been sporting a fairly sizeable bump. The plan is for that bump to turn into a baby sometime around the end of July.  I’ll be taking a two-month break from work and (most probably) the internet to work on teaching the new arrival about productivity and the proper use of the apostrophe.

I’ll be on maternity leave from 14th July until 15th September.

I do have some availability before then, so if you’ve been thinking about getting a wordy project off the ground, now might be a good time to get in touch. Alternatively, I’m more than happy to chat about future projects and pencil in time for September and beyond.

Obviously babies require a lot of time and attention, and when I return to work in mid-September I’m not going to be working as many hours as I am now.

I feel hugely lucky to have a career that allows me to continue doing the job I love on a non-traditional flexible schedule. As it happens, I have some exciting work-plans on the horizon, including a second Writing for the Web course with the University of York in October, so it looks like it’s going to be a big year ahead!

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20 Inspiring Quotes from Children’s Books

Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 in Literature Loves | 0 comments

 

It’s been a long while since I shared an infographic on my blog (the last one was this one on untranslatable words), but I spotted one earlier in the week that I fell totally in love with.

 

I’m at a point in my life when I’m pretty much exclusively caught up in ‘grown up’ books. I stopped reading children’s books a decade or more ago, and I haven’t yet reached the point of getting back into them with children of my own. When I found the below infographic, however, it reminded me just how much magic I’ve been missing out on.

 

Perhaps it’ll remind you, too.

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 12.06.46

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Thanks to quotery.com for creating this!

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2014; 16 Books In

Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 in 2014 Reads | 4 comments

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Back in March, I confessed that I’ve had a rather lacklustre reading year so far.  A month and a half later… I’m not sure I’m doing much better! On the bright side, I have managed to make my way through six books since my last reading round up,  and I wanted to share my progress.

Hood Emma Donoghue

This was probably my favourite book of the year so far. I read Donoghue’s best-selling novel Room for a book club a few years ago, but had no idea she was such a long-standing novelist (her first novel was published in 1994). When I spotted a copy of Hood in a second hand book shop a few months ago, I was intrigued. It’s very different to Room, but excellent. It’s about bereavement, sexuality and secrets, and is probably best described as a very thoughtful read. 

The Carrier  Sophie Hannah

I’m a fan of well-written crime novels, and Sophie Hannah always fits the bill. This was a quick read and a lot of fun.

Noughts & Crosses Malorie Blackman

This was the April pick for my book club. I’m not quite sure how I managed to reach 26 without ever having read this: especially considering I spent about 50% of my teens with a book in my hand. It was a really interesting read and definitely sparked off a great discussion at our book club meeting. As with all YA fiction, I probably would’ve enjoyed it more if I’d read it ten years ago, but I’m glad not to have missed out altogether.

French Children Don’t Throw Food Pamela Druckerman and How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm Mei-Ling Hopgood

Yep, that’s right, in the last six weeks I’ve read not one but two non-fiction books. I also really enjoyed them! I’ve definitely been inspired not to avoid non-fiction quite so actively in the future.

The Little Friend Donna Tartt

It seems almost sacrilegious to say this… but I’m not sure how much I enjoyed this one. The prose was gorgeous and the level of detail was stunning, but for me there was something missing plot-wise. I can be very picky about endings, and this one wasn’t as satisfying as I’d have liked. I’ll definitely be picking up one or two of Tartt’s other novels in the future though (I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard fantastic things about The Goldfinch).

What have you been reading recently?

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In Praise of Nozbe

Posted on Thursday, May 8, 2014 in Freelancing | 2 comments

2.r_765Image from Nozbe.com

I’m a big fan of software and apps that help me to stay productive. Currently, there are five digital tools that I use on a daily basis: Scrivener, Toggl, Habit List, Google Calendar and Nozbe.

Nozbe is an app after my own heart. It’s tagline is “simply get it done”… which is pretty much how I feel about productivity. There are a lot of ways to describe this type of software, but basically it’s a super-fancy to do list app that works in my web browser, on my tablet and on my phone.

I’ve been looking for an effective way to manage my work for a long time. Over the four years I’ve been self employed, I’ve used a whiteboard, numerous notebooks, pieces of scrap paper, Google Calendar, Apple’s Reminders app and a Moleskine diary. I’ve also tried out a generous handful of other to do apps, but none of them offered me exactly I wanted.

At the beginning of the year, I came across Nozbe. I tore myself away from my beloved lined notebooks and gave it a go. That, readers, was a great decision.

Nozbe works for me because:

It lets you split tasks into colour coded projects

What can I say? I love anything colour coded. I currently use Nozbe with three projects: freelance workpersonal tasks and fiction. This is simplistic (the app offers a wealth of project management tools), but after a lot of trial and erros I’ve found that simplistic is what works for me.

You can easily set a due date for each task… and choose to repeat tasks

This is the feature that really makes it for me. I love that I can add projects into the app as soon as they’re agreed with a client and set them to be due at some point in the future. By setting dates in this way you can view tasks in ‘calendar view’ and see how busy the coming days or weeks are looking. I also love that you can set certain tasks to repeat as often or as rarely as you like. I use this feature to set tasks to pop up every day such as ‘clear inbox’, as well as to remind myself about less frequent tasks such as reoccurring invoices.

The ‘Next Actions’ tab makes it really easy to see what needs to be done 

You know what I said about simplicity? Well, the app has a ‘Next Actions’ tab that shows all tasks that are due to be done, regardless of project type. This is my main workspace, and is the feature I use at the beginning of every day to decide what I’m going to be working on. What I really like about this section is that you can add or remove tasks from it with one click… which means that if I decide I’ve got too much planned for a single day, I can simply tap a few tasks to remove them from the list. Those tasks will then pop again the next day, so there’s no danger of them getting forgotten.

Nozbe does have all sorts of other features and benefits that allow you to do a lot more with it, such as collaborating with the whole team. Those features aren’t currently relevant for me, but they’re definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a project management app. The app is free to use if you have less than five active projects (as I do) but there is a monthly charge above and beyond that.

Have you come across any great productivity apps recently? I would love to hear about them if you have!

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April 2014 Round Up

Posted on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 in 2014 Round Up | 0 comments

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A few highlights from my April:

  • Running my first (sold out!) Writing for the Web course at the University of York.
  • Putting together outlines for future courses.
  • Writing about non-traditional work patterns and getting a great response.
  • Spending a few days away with Mr M and friends over the Easter weekend.
  • Visiting Nunnington Hall (pictured above) and discovering a second hand book shop in the attic!
  • Speaking to web designers and developers about a brand new website.
  • Finishing the third draft of my novel-in-progress.
  • Working on varied projects including; cars, medical, entrepreneurship and home improvement.

A few highlights from around the web:

How’s your April been?

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Novel Progress Update; Third Draft Complete

Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 in My Writing | 6 comments

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A couple of weeks ago I finished the third draft of my novel-in-progress. I’ve blogged in detail about my redrafting process in the past, but for now let me just say this: it’s taken a very long time to get to this point.

Finishing a draft is a strange thing. It’s not the same as really finishing something, as you’re generally already aware of changes and edits that need to be made in the next draft. Some writers I’ve come across have celebratory traditions for each time they finish one. I don’t. Three times now I’ve finished a draft with a heavy rush of anticlimax. Sadly, the moment I retype the last sentence of the last chapter is generally the moment I realise just how much work there is left to do! In place of a celebration, I usually save a backup copy of the complete draft and start making notes for the next one.

This time, I’ve been trying to get a bit of distance from the draft before I jump back in. I’ve been fiddling around with a few other fiction ideas and making copious notes for them in a brand new notebook.

I’m hoping that draft four, when I start it, won’t need to be quite so thorough as drafts two and three were. The changes I want to make going forwards relate mainly to small, detail-orientated issues rather than big plot holes. (Phew). I have a summer deadline in mind… so cross your fingers for me!

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