Jaye’s Journal 1~ 6 August

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The recent hot weather has finally eased and I for one am delighted.

Now, I can resume normal duties without running the risk of collapsing in a soggy heap!

There was a point when the heat was at its hottest when I almost lost the will to do anything, and being unable to sleep at night wasn’t helping at all.

On one of the unbearably hot days, I made the mistake of asking the family what they wanted for dinner. When they requested pasties, my heart sank.  We usually had them for picnic meals with salad, perfect for a hot day, but first I had to make them, then cook them in a hot oven!

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I nearly melted in my scorching hot kitchen, but the pasties went down a treat…

Another reason I am so glad the weather is cooler now is for Merlin, our aged black and white cat. He really has been suffering and watching him as he tried to find a cool place to lie down has been distressing for us as well as him. There were moments when he looked as though he couldn’t last much longer. In fact, there were times when he looked dead and my heart was in my mouth until he moved or flicked an ear.

What passes as a lawn in our garden has suffered too, and won’t need cutting any time soon as all we have at the moment are funny green tufts sprouting through the straw coloured dead grass.

This is more than I can say about the dreaded forty-foot long, seven-foot-high hedge. It has gone more than a bit crazy, with long branches shooting out in all directions. It will need a trim soon.

Not much writing was done during the heatwave unfortunately, something I am trying to remedy now it’s cooler.  I’m not sure why they call it a wave, wouldn’t that imply that it passes quickly, and that definitely didn’t happen. We were all being forced to live in a world that had turned into an unbearably hot oven, and it wasn’t funny.

I love a bit of good weather, but don’t appreciate being cooked the minute I step outside. So keep it down to a comfortable level, please?

You just know that life is returning to normal when computers find new ways to annoy. The latest game is ditching any comments I make on other people’s websites. You go to the bother of commenting, and not just ‘nice post!’ only to have it vanish without a trace. And I don’t know about anyone else, but my brain never remembers exactly what I just typed, so the second attempt is usually not as good or as long. Not acceptable, right?

Wishing to avoid frustration, I came up with the idea of commenting, as usual, then copy and paste it, just in case it does a runner before posting it.  Not exactly in the rulebook, but works for me…

And last but not least, something I have finally managed to do this week.      Yay! (cause for celebration!)

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We have claimed a BookBub profile and all of our books are locked and loaded!

Not sure how any of it works (no change there then) but if anyone wants to follow us on there, here are the links to Jaye’s BookBub and Anita’s BookBub.

Have a Wonderful Weekend Everybody!

 

Jaye’s Journal ~25-31 July

 

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I listened to the thunder approaching as I caught up with writing the next chapter of my WIP. It sounded slightly ominous, but in a half-hearted way, if you know what I mean. We seem to get a lot of this half-hearted weather down here in Hampshire. They say it has something to do with being so close to the South Downs. It kind of messes with the wind currents or something.

At this stage, there was no way of knowing if it the storm would ever reach us, or veer off somewhere else. In the end, we had a few more rumbles and that was it.

On to the next disappointment. The eclipse.

Wall to wall cloud made sure we didn’t see anything, either the moon or the eclipse. We had been watching the moon all week as it slowly became full, only to have nothing at all to see on the night in question. We were in good company, for no one else in the UK saw it either, but the awful sticky heat had gone, and I could really concentrate on my writing. Word count has gone up by nearly 5000 words this week!

They promised rain, which would be more than welcome, as I could hear the garden screaming for moisture all way inside my office.

But when it did rain, it wasn’t the deluge they promised, just a quick half-hearted shower, but better than nothing, I suppose.

After a damp and slightly chilly weekend, I had the opportunity to play truant, and I didn’t hesitate. It was like the Prisoner of Zenda escaping, as I ran and jumped in the car, ready for the off. An afternoon walking around The New Forest? What’s not to like?

There will be lots of pictures and post to follow!

 A Surprise and Unwelcome Visitor

During the heatwave, we had an unwanted disturbance late one night.

We had not long been in bed and couldn’t sleep as the heat was stifling. We heard a commotion downstairs and thought we were being burgled. We were about to investigate when we heard bottles clinking. A thirsty burglar? What was going on?

The culprit turned out to be Merlin, our beloved black and white cat. He tried to look innocent, but we knew what was going on. Somewhere in our house was a very small but unwelcome visitor. After crawling around on my hands and knees, looking in all his favourite places, I managed to track it down to the dining room, where Merlin had the tiny mouse cornered under the table. I managed to grab it with an old tea towel and take it out to the garden.

It was while I was out there, I decided it was the perfect place to sit and enjoy a coffee, even though it was two in the morning. I wasn’t having any luck sleeping anyway…

Jaye’s Journal 16th ~ 21st July

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I Have a New Muse!

This may be one hell of a coincidence, but I would like to think it was some kind of divine intervention.

As you may know, I have been getting more and more depressed with my writing inertia. I just couldn’t summon up anything that would stimulate me into picking up my pen with anything resembling enthusiasm.

Quite by chance, Anita found this cute ornament when out shopping. It was an elephant surrounded by six baby elephants. I thought it was lovely, but didn’t think anything of it.

Just a few hours later, I was going through my writing and notes yet again, moved to read the last few chapters of my WIP, when something strange happened. I could suddenly see exactly what was holding me up. Several problems were ruining the flow, involving confusion with at least two chapters.

The rest of the afternoon was spent recapping, reorganising and getting the flow moving again. I was back on track and firing on all cylinders!

When I say that an elephant made me do it, I should explain why I was convinced that the ornament Anita brought home that day had somehow waved a magic wand over me and solved my problems.

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You see, Ganesh, the elephant God, is one of the best-known and loved deities in the Hindu religion. So who is this elephant-headed fellow, and why is he so popular?

He is known as the Lord of Good Fortune, the Lord of Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles.

He is also the patron of the arts and sciences and of letters. Devotees believe that if you worship him, he will grant success, prosperity and protection against adversity.

So why does he have an elephants head?

The most famous story of all explains that the Goddess Parvati, wishing to bathe, created a boy called Ganesh and assigned him the task of guarding the entrance to her bathroom. But when her husband Shiva returned from battle, he was denied access by the boy. He killed the boy in a fit of rage, cutting off his head with his sword.

Parvati was terribly upset, so Shiva sent out his warriors to fetch the head of the first dead creature they found, which happened to be an elephant. The head was attached to the boy’s body and was brought back to life.

The elephants head symbolises wisdom and the gaining of knowledge through reflection and listening.

Did the spirit of Ganesh come to help me with my problems?

Could he be my new muse?

I like to think so…

 

An Interesting Development

Not exactly been a great week for anything really, what with the weather and all. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it hard to think or concentrate while in a sauna. For that is just how it feels right now.

My back continues to ache, despite my new exercise regime. I read somewhere that if your pain is worse on rising in the morning, but improves after 15 minutes, the culprit is likely to be your mattress. Describing my mornings very well, I think.

I prefer a firm mattress and to be honest, you could bounce a coin on the one I have been sleeping on. But is it too firm for someone of my advancing years? Anita offered to swap mattresses with me, just to see what would happen.

The difference the next morning was remarkable. I actually made it to the bathroom without screaming! I had to buy Anita another mattress, as there was no way I was giving her mattress back.

In all probability, all this time since straining my back, I have been adding to the damage every time I go to bed. Maybe now, my back has a chance to get itself back to normal. That’s if there is any normal to be found at the moment.

Embarrassing Moment of the Week!

Having recently changed the cover on Anita’s book Secrets, I had also changed the paperback version and was waiting for it to arrive in the post.

When it did, we marvelled at the loveliness of it, and then looked inside.

The inside was not Secrets, but The Scarlet Ribbon. Somehow, the wrong book file had been used, and I don’t think it could be Lulu’s fault, so the accusing finger of fate pointed at me. I am still not sure how this happened, but I hope it doesn’t happen again, as I don’t appreciate being the laughing stock in my own office!

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Did anyone guess who Anita can see?

Remember this image?  Anita posted it and asked if anyone could guess what she could see…

Some of the guesses were quite close, and the wicked witch of the west was a firm favourite. 

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Anita swears this is Master Merlin, the great wizard, his cape billowing in the breeze, and his staff in his hand. Creating a new Camelot maybe?

 

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#Jaye’s Journal 9 – 15 July

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Last week was such a frustrating time for me, as the end of my rope seemed to be getting ever closer.

The backache didn’t want to leave me, fluctuating between good and bad days that I swear would try the patience of a saint. This is something I have never professed to be, so maybe I had it coming. I was to blame for it in the first place, lifting all those couches, so I must take the punishment without moaning.

Despite the pain and frustration, I approached the WIP, only to find an alien pile of scribblings that looked only vaguely familiar. I read the last chapter but nothing occurred to me, no clear direction, nothing. I went back even further, with the same results. My heart sank to the floor as it was beginning to look as though I would have to start again.

At this point, my brain nearly went crazy. I wanted to cry, scream, or leave the building and couldn’t make up my mind which. Fortunately, I have a running storyboard of sorts, with a tenuous thread running to the end, something I have not done before, so I studied it, desperately seeking inspiration.

But my brain wouldn’t budge.

By now, I was beginning to feel as though I had lost whatever writing ability I thought I had, along with my muse. Not that she has ever been a great help to me, more the opposite really. She can argue the hind legs off a donkey and can always find at least three reasons why something won’t work, so I’m not missing her half as much as the contents of my brain.

Right in the middle of all this frustration, the PC started crashing and buffering, something it has been doing a lot of lately. I normally wait patiently until it gets its act together, but after two horrendous days of not being able to get even the simplest of tasks done, I made a decision.

Firefox would have to go. It had crashed on me for the last time.

I downloaded Chrome with my fingers crossed, but so far, it has been fine. Now all I have to do is find out where my writing mind has buggered off to!

 

How Do You Achieve the Impossible?

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I have never been one to back down from a challenge, although there was that one time when we were considering renovating this house, only to find that half of the supporting walls were missing. Or the time when the previous owners had removed all the fireplace walls in the house, but not the chimney stacks on the roof, creating the granddaddy of all disasters, but I digress.

Just let it be said that there are some challenges you just cannot entertain.

Some challenges, however, beg to be taken on.

You know what you need to do. (more or less)  Thousands of people are already doing it, so how hard can it be?

It also helps if you have already mastered stage one…

For a rank beginner, writing a book was hard enough. Then I had to learn how to edit, format and upload it to Amazon. To be fair, once I knew the basics, this turned out to be reasonably easy. Although, knowing I could change anything, was a get out of jail card, as my memory has more holes than a colander.

At that time, I thought that was all I had to do. Over the years since then, the truth has gradually dawned, bit by frustrating bit, pointing out that there was a lot more to it than that if you wanted to be successful. Even now, there are days when the enormity of it all makes my head spin.

What We Have Tried

Paid Book Promotion Sites… most of these do a good job, but they are expensive and the results were disappointing.

Book Tours… fun, but a lot of work. We met many people but didn’t sell many books or get reviews.

KDP promos… very good for putting your books out there and shifting a ton of free copies and that’s about all!

We have recently pulled most of our books out of KDP and placed them with Draft2Digital. Seriously thinking about going back to Smashwords too, as being exclusively on Amazon just doesn’t sound right anymore.

Over the last five years, we have sold a few books and received several reviews. We have established a popular website/blog and a slowly growing list of followers, and the fire of determination still burns bright. Almost every week, I try something new, either to do with books or marketing, something supposedly guaranteed to make our books bestsellers.

The Future?

We are contemplating having a go at Facebook Ads, as they seem to be the way to go. If anyone knows better, please let us know?

We are constantly told that the best way to make it in this business is to keep writing until you create a masterpiece as the more you write the better chance you have of creating something that cannot be ignored.

Surely, there must be a little more to it than that?

 

 

JAYE’S JOURNAL 18TH ~ 24TH June

 

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I haven’t been writing in my journal this week as I don’t have anything of interest to tell you about.

My life is wall-to-wall pain at the moment, and I am sick to my back teeth with the whole subject. I am not good with waiting, especially when it hurts, but have nearly finished the second course of antibiotics. Several bottles of my blood are winging their way to be tested, which might mean there could be good news coming my way soon.

I have learned one thing this week though. Writers should never get ill because our imaginations will try to kill us off in numerous ways. Fresh out of optimism, I have imagined countless ways in which I will stagger from this mortal coil and none of them are pleasant or even remotely romantic.

Deep down, somewhere the truth has receded to, are the memories of every test I have ever had, and the fact that almost all of them came back negative. Even when they weren’t, so this is probably my default setting!

I have always been a disgustingly healthy person, but also someone who has occasionally test driven emergency scenarios, probably for the benefit of the medical profession. It would seem that equally occasionally, I have to suffer for no damn reason too, with unexplained pain and symptoms. All of which eventually fade away, leaving no reason or explanation.

This time though, as I said before, I have a sneaky feeling they won’t be fading away any time soon. I mean, at my age I must have run out of lives by now.

The worst part about this week, all the above notwithstanding, is my lack of progress on just about everything. The memory of my WIP has receded into the distance, accompanied by the suspicion that I won’t be able to finish it. I am somehow managing to cope with the daily routine stuff, so maybe everything else is on a temporary hiatus?

I have tried very hard to encourage the grey matter to kick into action, but it’s not listening to me. Maybe the constant stream of paracetamol is affecting my muse, for she isn’t listening to me either…

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