Life, but not as we thought it would be…

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In an effort to ignore what will be happening tomorrow, I have been burying my head in the computer, trying to catch up on all the things I haven’t managed to get around to on the newly installed Windows 10. Some days I love the new arrangement of everything, but days when it defeats me are still happening.

In my wildest dreams, I could never have dreamed what I would be getting up to in my advancing years. Just goes to show how far you can come if you let yourself dream big.

I have always hated anything to do with computers for they are illogical, slow and complicated. I firmly believe they were sent by the devil to drive us all mad. At least, that’s what happens in our house!

But it wasn’t always this way.

There was a time when the idea of a machine with such amazing capabilities did seem like a fantastic advantage. But my first encounter with one, some thirty years ago, probably ruined me for life. This was when it was in its infancy, and you had to upload or input reams of data to do even the simplest thing. My son was playing chess on this strange looking box and I wanted to have a go. What he forgot to mention, was if you made even a small mistake in entering this data (which seemed to take hours) you would get a big fat nothing. Stubbornly, I tried and tried but failed to get it to work.

Fast forward to just a few years ago, when Indie publishing started making headlines.

Despite my earlier disappointment, I felt myself warming to the idea. I wouldn’t have to input masses of data like before, so maybe it would be easier to use. We all know the answer to that supposition, don’t we?

I still hate computers with a passion, but I do appreciate just how wonderful they are if you can learn the ropes. I still have days when I could beat mine to death with a mallet, but this is more to do with my stubborn brain than anything else. Because they can sometimes do so many amazing things, it encourages us mortals to reach for the stars.

Way back at the beginning of my blogging career, I can remember wondering if I would ever write a book, and now I have written three, well, five if you count the non-fiction ones and am close to finishing another. At the time, I was happily editing Anita’s books. I never thought a muse would bother me.

When it did, I was astonished by just how addictive writing can become. The most surprising thing was the behaviour of my characters. They became like old friends, and I enjoyed their company so much, the first book turned into a series. Even now, they are nagging me to let them loose again!

It has been an amazing and often terrifying journey, from that first ever blog post to eventually formatting e-books, paperback copies and book trailers. Learning how to put a book together was hard, but the writing was the best part, once I convinced myself that it was something I could do, after all.

None of which was easy for the biggest technophobe this side of Microsoft, someone who battles technology every single day for that magical moment when realisation dawns and I finally understands how things work.

I am well past retiring age now, but I am busier than ever and have no intentions of slowing down or stopping, for where would the fun be in that?

This journey still has some mileage, however, for there are a few things I haven’t attempted yet, and several that need improving. So I won’t be putting away my thinking cap just yet.

As they said when I was at school, “There is always room for improvement…”


My First Moment of Madness…

Doing my best to install my new computer with the least amount of hair pulling, I found myself remembering the first time I challenged my brain cells. The post that follows, is five years old and signifies how far I have come since then…

I did something stupid today. In fact it began a few weeks ago, when the tiny germ of an idea slipped into my mind and wouldn’t go away.
It was something someone said about how they wrote and blogged from the comfort of their bed. Often too ill or uncomfortable to get up, but still wanting to do what they love most, which is writing. I have this mental picture of this person, snug and comfy in her pyjamas, ensconced in bed with her trusty laptop, and the idea just took root in my head and began to grow.
Not that I want to write in bed, but with my ever increasing workload, I have to make even more time available to me. Who knew the writing and self publishing world would create this much work, I certainly didn’t in the beginning.

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For a long time now I seem to spend most of my evenings with puzzles and Sudoku while the family watch television. I love most of the programmes and it is good to relax at the end of the day, but find it increasingly hard to see them properly as my distance glasses make me so very giddy and ill I cannot wear them. Consequently I find myself just listening and limit my eyesight to things I can do on my lap as my reading glasses are fine.
I have discovered that I cannot read while the television is on, but can manage other things, like writing notes. You can see where I am going with this, can’t you?
The thought of having a laptop has interested me ever since the family members bought theirs, but always dismissed the idea as pretty stupid as I am basically a technophobe. You know, someone who hates technology with a passion, usually because we are hopelessly unable to grasp the basics, let alone all the clever stuff.
I have struggled to learn how to use a computer, my mind obviously not properly equipped with the necessary bits to understand or implement the information that I do eventually manage to discover.
This is where it has paid dividends to be one of the most stubborn people on the planet. Something I am more than proud of, as because of this, I have achieved much more than I think I would otherwise have done.
Computers are brilliant but confusing, time saving but frustrating, and I am more than sure they lead to insanity, at least in my case.
But… I have mastered my computer, how hard could a laptop be?

I saw one I like the look of, a combined laptop with a tablet which made it very versatile. Just what I needed to make better use of my evenings.
It arrived yesterday. As I unpacked it, the shiny red alien exterior gleamed in front of me. I looked at it and thought, ‘Now what do I do?’
The instructions were sketchy to put it mildly, apparently all the information is on the machine and you learn as you go. (That’s if you get as far as switching it on) I was instantly terrified. What on earth had I done?
I ignored it for over an hour and went about my business, but found myself sneaking looks and wondering if I could possibly…
To cut a long story short, I did finally pluck up the courage to turn it on, and for several hours I blundered about, pressing this and swiping that, until I had a rough idea of what to do. What made it worse for me I think was that it came with Windows 8, where I am used to Windows 7, but having said that, it is a marvellous piece of equipment and I should be able to accomplish a load more work with it.
Once I have ironed out all the wrinkles, both its and mine of course!

See you soon,

Jaye

A New Poem on the Block! #Haibun

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Thanks to Colleen Chesebro, and her weekly poetry challenge, most of us have heard of Haiku’s, Etheree’s and all manner of wonderful forms of Japanese poetry.

This one Anita has not tried before. It is called a Haibun.

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A broken bridge across a lake of blue, I take my chance to see the other side.

Where flowers grow of strange shimmering hues.

My fortune lies along the path I see, but In whose footsteps do I follow?

What will I find! A chance is taken, just in time.

Scented morning

Life changed

New dawn

New life

 

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 14

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My week began with a state of confusion.

Before you say it, my weeks are always in a state of some confusion, but this time it felt different. All the clocks in the house were wrong, and my brain couldn’t grasp why. It was only when I noticed that the clock on my PC was exactly one hour ahead, that the penny dropped and I realised that BST (British Summer Time) had begun…

Hoping the confusion had gone, I set to rewriting the end chapters of my WIP, PayBack. The previous ending had been annoying me, and again, I couldn’t put my finger on the reason. The only thing running through my mind was that it hadn’t ended the way I thought it would. Right now, I would give anything to have the brain I used to have. You know, the one capable of multitasking and thinking of more than one thing at a time. It also knew what was happening most of the time.

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So, back to PayBack. It has been an interesting story to write. The main character, David Mallory, has all kinds of problems. Problems most of us have not encountered before. Writing about him has had me evaluating my own life. I have had issues too, but nothing like his.  I knew it was important to give his complicated life the justice and outcome he deserved and I would rewrite until I was satisfied I had done that.

Outside of the writing den, two jobs were outstanding. The windows are so dirty we couldn’t see out of them, and the grass was becoming dangerously high. I say dangerous because if I don’t cut it while at a manageable level, the mower throws a wobbly and chucks great clods of compacted grass all over the place. This causes me to throw a bigger wobbly, and you can hear the swearing for miles around!

The weather prevented any window cleaning, something I didn’t complain about! But the grass looks lovely now, if only for five minutes!

I  also managed to acquire the bragging rights for successfully creating some 3D book cover images with DIY Book Design. These will look wonderful on the new promotional posters I am planning for all of our books. I am claiming these rights because learning anything new usually takes me a month of Sunday’s!  Either it was very easy, or I’m getting better!

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Another memory of the Falls…

 

St. Nectan’s Falls

 

On one of our trips to Cornwall, we decided to seek out St Nectan’s Glen.

Not realising there was a short cut, we took the long walk through the fields along a small path to get to the Falls.  Single file small!

There were cliffs to one side, the other a sheer drop that was full of trees, nothing soft to break a fall. I moaned all the way there, to find the waterfall at the end, the most wonderful sight.

Jaye had stepped into her own paradise, her love of water. It was plain to see, her face lit up as if the sun shone where there was none.

We noticed people high on a ridge, at the top of the waterfall.

Jaye has a fear of heights, but that day she conquered it, to get as close as she could to the top of the Falls. I am not kidding when I say that there was barely room for a pigeon on this ridge. There we were, my entire family, along with any future grandchildren I might have, vanished in fear.

Squeezing past people coming down was the moment I realised just how dangerous this was. Even now, when I think about it, I remember the nightmares I suffered. I still believe we were fools to have climbed up there.

We found our way to the small hut where St Nectan lived out his days. We signed the visitor book. Back on the flat ground, I gave a sigh of relief. Never again, I said, more times than I can count.

The thing I remember most was the deafening sound of the water and how cold it felt. Would I go again?

Maybe, but taking the shortcut, and no climbing high…

 

 

(This was Anita’s memory of the day I posted about HERE  )

Golden Memories…

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Due, I suspect, to the arrival of our Great Grandchild three weeks ago, an air of nostalgia has descended upon our household. All the old photographs have come out of hiding, accompanied by much reminiscing.

We thought we would share some of these golden memories with you…

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It was like having a time machine, going back to all those times and remembering them as if they were yesterday…

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Do you ever take a walk down Memory Lane?

AAAAA

 

#Jaye’s Journal: January Week Two

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The New Year and the new month were slipping past me at an alarming rate, as I suffered the throes of one of the worst colds flu I can remember having and I was becoming more and more depressed.

I wasn’t doing anything, couldn’t think straight and I suddenly realised just how close to despair I was getting.

I was having small moments of pull yourself together girl and quite a few just have a look at the WIP… but nothing was working. Two weeks of solid inactivity, but it felt like an eternity.

Every now and then, I would have a day when I seemed better and the head would clear, only to be extinguished when the paracetamol wore off, leaving me a pathetic sniveling heap again. It wasn’t just the aching joints, headache and streaming nose, it had affected my eyesight too and I really didn’t need that to deteriorate too. The cataracts were doing a grand job of that!

I have been trying to keep on top of the emails and other small jobs, but anything else didn’t bear thinking about.

But that was the thing, I had been doing a lot of thinking. Not enough, obviously, to get me doing anything creative but at least the grey matter was trying to function. My WIP was beginning to haunt me. I knew it was a mess, with different piles of pages depending on what I was researching at the time and somehow never tidied up. Before I could move in any direction, I would have to sort through the entire 60.000 words and put them in working order.

And this morning, that was what I did. The germs have retreated enough to allow a little get up and go to creep back into my life, and I now have a working copy of my manuscript.

Yay!

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#Jaye’s Journal; January 2019

 

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As I am still battling germs and feel like a wreck, I will not be running out our resolutions just yet. Although I am struggling to do the daily necessities, never mind anything more adventurous, my eyes keep drifting to that corner of my desk where my WIP lives and I feel really guilty. I shouldn’t before you all say so because it was hardly my fault that last year was a bit like wading through manure. I was being polite there, did you notice?

I tried, but it was a no-go zone from start to finish. They say not to blame yourself when life gets in the way, but it’s hard not to when you are usually better at dodging the bullets and fielding trouble away. I think the only productive thing I did all year was write nearly 60.000 words of PayBack, my WIP.

Anita has been doing well with her poetry, and recently won Poet of the Week with her Double Nonet poem “Broken Ground” for Colleen’s Poetry CHALLENGE

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Some of our trying must have registered somewhere, as the stats on our blog show a remarkable improvement. I don’t understand how or why, which is a shame, for we could do more of whatever it was.

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My brain is on notice to pull itself together and to prepare for battle, as this year is going to be special and I already have a list of possibilities that I want to explore, learn and implement.

Smashwords, Amazon or D2Digital?

Years ago, we had all of our books on Smashwords. We had to opt out of Amazon’s exclusivity to do it, but at the time, we thought having all of our eggs in one basket was a little silly.

Actually managing to put our books on Smashwords was an art in itself and almost impossible, or at least it was for me but I was a newbie back then and didn’t know my arse from my elbow!

Just lately, I have noticed that Smashwords has been promoting themselves quite a lot, probably because Amazon is reported to be losing popularity.

I started wondering if we should go back there. After all, because we are also on D2Digital now, we have already lost the advantage Amazon offers.

I would love to know how many authors are starting to spread their nets further afield, and what they think about it.

 

#Wordle 382 #Poetry

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  Prince Charming

I am always looking for that lucky charm

That hits you like a lover’s kiss

Blue lightning that fills the air with magic.

That special touch that lets you know

 That everything is all right.

Life will not spin out of control

Let the wind howl, I have a

Hundred reasons to be happy.

Learn to play, something I miss.

Take a train, find a new adventure

Make a plan for my future

Wind in my neck, stop looking at the dark side of life

Forget that one who left me on Christmas Eve

Find a new lovers kiss

Maybe this time I will find Prince Charming…

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Memories…

 

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Painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

 

 

 

Memories are funny things, aren’t they? The way certain things suddenly pop into your head, and you think – hey, I know about that, and you remember.
I wonder what makes some memories surface and not others? You could say it’s down to something you have just heard or seen, but I know that’s not always the case.

Just lately I have been remembering a specific time in my childhood, and never realised before how that time must have influenced me. Or was it that threshold of childhood, the time you really start to think and question things? To imagine a future for yourself, that you won’t always be just idling along, not really caring if it snowed, depending on others to organise your life.

This particular time was when I lived in Kent, in a small village called Birchington, a few miles from Margate.. I was about 8 or 9 years old, and up to that point I didn’t really think about anything much. So much had happened to me that I had got into the habit of not questioning anything. Not much point really, as I knew I couldn’t change anything.

I was with foster parents by then with several other children, all from broken families; and surprisingly it was the first time I felt relaxed enough to appreciate the peace and quiet of the countryside, not to mention the freedom from all my mother’s problems.

Every Sunday we all went to church, and right outside the church door was a very impressive grave stone. It was made of a beautiful piece of marble and I thought the writing on it was very ornate and posh. I looked at it every Sunday for a while, when it suddenly struck me that this had to be someone quite important. But why was he buried here in this tiny village?

The name on the stone was Dante Gabriel Rossetti  (12may 1828-9april 1882) and I remember being very impressed by the sound of it, resolving to find out more about him. I was about the right age for romantic flights of fancy and the more I discovered about this tortured man and the life he lived, the more intrigued I became. He was a poet and a painter and some would say that he wasn’t very successful, but history will always remember him as a founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais.

I learnt about Rossetti and how he had ended up a recluse in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea after a nervous breakdown, finally retreating to Birchington for rehabilitation only to die less than a year later. Perhaps he should have spent more time in Kent, for it was making me feel better!  I secretly sympathised with the mess he had made of his life, determined that my life would be better than it had started out to be. I just needed to be old enough to set the wheels in motion.

So you see, I tend to think he was my friend back then, right when I really needed one, guiding me to where I am today…

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti (wasn’t he cute?)

 

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born 12 May 1828 in London, the second child and eldest son of Italian expatriates. His father, Gabriele Rossetti, was a Dante scholar, who had been exiled from Naples for writing poetry in support of the Neapolitan Constitution of 1819. Rossetti’s mother had trained as a governess and supervised her children’s early education. Few Victorian families were as gifted as the Rossettis: the oldest child, Maria Rossetti, published A Shadow of Dante (1871) and became an Anglican nun; William Michael Rossetti was along with his brother an active member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and became an editor, man of letters, and memoirist; the youngest, Christina Georgina Rossetti, became an important and influential lyric poet.

As a child Dante Gabriel Rossetti intended to be a painter and illustrated literary subjects in his earliest drawings. He was tutored at home in German and read the Bible, Shakespeare, Goethe’s Faust, The Arabian Nights, Dickens, and the poetry of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron. After leaving school, he apprenticed himself to the historical painter Ford Madox Brown, who later became his closest lifelong friend. He also continued his extensive reading of poetry—Poe, Shelley, Coleridge, Blake, Keats, Browning, and Tennyson—and began in 1845 translations from Italian and German medieval poetry. In 1847 and 1848 Rossetti began several important early poems—”My Sister’s Sleep,” “The Blessed Damozel,” “The Bride’s Prelude,” “On Mary’s Portrait,” “Ave,” “Jenny,” “Dante at Verona,” “A Last Confession,” and several sonnets, a form in which he eventually became expert. 

Rossetti divided his attention between painting and poetry for the rest of his life. In 1848 he founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with six other young men, mostly painters, who shared an interest in contemporary poetry and an opposition to certain stale conventions of contemporary academy art. In a general way, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood sought to introduce new forms of thematic seriousness, high coloration, and attention to detail into contemporary British art. Members of the group included John Everett Millais, its most skilled painter and future president of the Royal Academy, and William Holman Hunt, Thomas Woolner; Frederic Stephens; and William Michael Rossetti, who as P.R.B. secretary kept a journal of activities and edited the six issues of its periodical, the Germ (1850). Associates of the group included the older painter Ford Madox Brown, the painter and poet William Bell Scott, the poet Coventry Patmore, and Christina Rossetti, six of whose poems appeared in the Germ.