#Jaye’s Journal ~ Week 24 (a bit late)

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The letter from the hospital arrived yesterday and the first of my cataracts will be removed next week and I have a pre op appointment tomorrow to check me out. I wonder what happened to the ten weeks wait I was told to expect.

We left early to get to the hospital for we can never judge what the car parking will be like and arrived far too early. The hospital was busy, but we managed to find out where we were supposed to be. The Eye department is one of the oldest parts of the hospital and didn’t have any of the iced water machines that I like so much, and my mouth was as dry as a bone.

By the time we sat down in the waiting room, there was still half an hour to wait, so was very surprised when my name was called. A kind and pleasant male nurse welcomed me, proceeded to check me over and then explained what would be happening to me. Though I was a little perturbed when he said I wouldn’t feel a thing, and then calmly said that a nurse would be holding my hand, so I could squeeze it if I felt anything. Not very reassuring!

I appreciated this more than you know, for the last time I was there, I was subjected to a pompous, short tempered consultant who clearly thought I was wasting his time. My treatment today was very different.

I just know that the next six days are going to be awful…

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There was me thinking I would have plenty of time to finish the WIP and make a few inroads into the marketing, but this unexpected news has literally knocked me for six. Mainly, I hope, because I wasn’t expecting it. Not that I am worried about them slicing bits of my eyes. Well, maybe just a little…

The thought of all this disruption is having a weird effect on me. Instead of getting a move on and pressing the panic button, I seem to be doing the opposite and moving around as though up to my neck in treacle. Almost everything is far too much trouble and I cannot be asked to do anything.

It is affecting the weather too, and it hasn’t stopped raining for days. Absolutely no chance of doing any gardening either then.

Thinking is becoming more difficult too, is it because I am facing the Unknown?

Two days of inertia later, I have managed to scrape together some enthusiasm. Guilt will always work, don’t you find?

After making such good progress last week with the new PC and Word, several peculiar wrinkles decide to make an appearance, completely undermining my confidence again. Needless to say, I didn’t need this.

I have been struggling to do so many things, things I had no trouble doing before.  I have the feeling I am out of my depth with technology, a feeling I haven’t had since the early days.

What do you do when you have misplaced your enthusiasm?

I know that when you get to my age, you begin to run out of things, like patience, common sense, memory and a simple thing like joy. Then there are the knees that no longer want to work anymore and a back that starts to ache even before you get up in the morning.

Add to that several weeks months of only having one usable eye and the next part of my life is going to be interesting.

Just don’t call me Cyclops!

Anita has just said something that made me smile. She said ‘Don’t forget, in the Kingdom of the blind, the one eyed is King…’

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What is Your Favourite Pastime?

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Someone asked me this question the other day and I had to hesitate before answering. I thought it would be writing or reading, but other hobbies pushed the word aside. And it is true, there are so many things that I enjoy doing. There are also many things I no longer have the time for.

The next question is usually, “but one of them must be special in some way?”

Again, there isn’t just one that comes to mind and this must be true for most people.

Depending on our mood, we like doing different things. For instance, my writing mind works best first thing in the morning. Later in the day, I have trouble writing anything. And when I am tired, I like to spend time in the garden with my bonsai.

I love jigsaw puzzles too, but these days I prefer to do them on line. So much choice, easier to do, no more juggling hundreds of pieces on limited table space. You can’t lose any of the pieces either.

In many ways, I realise that all my favourite pastimes are very similar. They all involve a degree of patience, attention to detail and an over active imagination.

At the moment, I have a huge pile of work in progress. Two fiction books to finish, a collection of short stories to prepare for publication and various editing jobs for Anita’s books, not to mention a veritable queue of reviews to finish.

My collection of bonsai should come quite high on my list, as they always need something doing. There is a very good reason they are never considered finished. They continue to grow and need constant attention. Plus, they are all different ages with different needs.

Add to this list, two crochet projects and a pile of dressmaking as yet unfinished. And all those other urgent things that hide in my brain, lulling me into a false sense of achievement.

So the answer to the original question, what is my favourite pastime, should be . . .

 “My favourite pastime is living and enjoying everything I do get around to. . .”

More Muddy Waters…

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Well, I have been simplifying and streamlining like a mad woman. I have cut and pruned, deleted and unsubscribed, all those things and places that I thought were a good idea at the time, but somehow never got around to learning. They have all been weeded out.

There seems to be a strong gardening influence going on here, don’t you think? This is probably because after I finish spring cleaning the inside of my head and my office… there is a load more of the same to do outside in the garden!

All things considered, I  don’t appear to have so many balls in the air now, and feel the better for it.

That was when something amazing happened.

Anita and I have long wanted to write a book together, but despite regular discussions, we never seemed to agree on anything. No change there then! This in itself is not unusual in this house, but I digress.

Something was mentioned and caught our interest, and as we continued to talk, we could see the magic beginning to grow into a great idea. I won’t say any more, but I have the feeling it could be amazing.

I honestly believe that everything we have learned, every failure and disappointment, even the pruning casualties this week, have all been leading us to this moment.

So, from having too many irons in the fire, we have added another one!

And then disaster struck!

The internet had been playing up, constantly buffering and crashing, but I was patient, thinking it would right itself. When several days passed without improvement, I decided to refresh Firefox, my browser. All this managed to achieve was the total loss of all my bookmarks and password recognition and no possible way of retrieving them that I could see.

By this time, I was thoroughly disgusted with my stupidity, so I changed browsers, returning to Internet Explorer, which always seemed to work well enough on my laptop.

But… by then everything was going from bad to worse, and I wanted to shoot myself. Nothing had really changed, and I didn’t like the layout on Int.Explorer. All I really wanted was to stop all the buffering and delays.

This is a classic example of my prowess or lack of it when it comes to computers. I had to stop for the day round about then, as my brain was showing  signs of self-destruction.

The following day, my mind decided to work better, and I reinstated Firefox. I am still unable to get my stuff back, which means I will have to collect them all over again. But the buffering has now stopped, so that’s a small price to pay.

I cannot believe the mess I made, simply trying to make my life easier…

 

Jaye’s Journal Week 21

 

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Have you ever had one of those weeks when everything you touch turns into a nightmare?

This has been one of those weeks, full of mini-disasters and nasty complications, starting with my WIP, PayBack. Half way through the second edit, you know the one, where you trawl for all your howling grammatical errors. Removing all the words you have used far too often, along with the ones you shouldn’t have used in the first place. Everything was going well, when I became uncomfortable with the lead character. I had written him in the first person, but it didn’t fit him somehow.

I had a quick look at other crime writers, and almost all of them prefer the third person POV.

I experimented with a chapter, fully expecting to dislike it, but I didn’t. This meant a ton of work needed to be done and right when I thought the end was in sight. Ho Hum.

I was also having more problems with the pc, and then my camera started making weird noises. I thought new batteries would help, but no. I have been saving up for a new pc, so there was no way I could stump up for a camera too. Then I remembered that my borrowed iPad had a built-in camera. I tried it out and was pleasantly surprised to find the quality excellent, so photographs can still be taken, as and when I need to. (Until I win the lottery!)

Have any of you tried to choose a new PC lately?

Not being related to Rockefeller, I have to settle for a refurbished model, but there were so many to choose from and seeing as how I have serious trouble making up my mind at the best of times, it was a nightmare. I have made some really stupid mistakes in the past, so I am caution personified these days. As they say, ‘When in doubt, do nowt.’

But that kind of thinking won’t get the baby a new bonnet, or me a pc that actually does what it says on the tin.

Then something quite remarkable happened.

Something else had been going on in my head, lately.  I have always been a craft person, if you know what I mean, and one of my passions are those lovely beaded bonsai trees.

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It is all Pinterest’s fault really; they keep sending me images of these wonderful trees. The desire to make one is never far away, but the idea was blossoming, and I knew if I didn’t start now, it might never happen.

My eyesight is a major problem when it comes to craft work, and it isn’t  getting any better. On Friday I will find out what they intend to do about it, if anything.

So, going by another old maxim, ‘All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy,’ I am going to reschedule my time to make way for things other than PC related work.

Working with my hands always frees up my mind to wander where it will, something that just doesn’t happen when wrestling with demonic computers!

So I am hoping for some magic while I am busy creating!

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Shades of Green… (or Favourite Places 4)

I was in dire need of a day out, but the weather was  awful. Now, what could we do about that?

All of the lovely places we have visited flashed through my mind, and I realised that I could enjoy one of these without leaving the warmth of my home.

So I rooted out one of my favourite posts to share with you…

We wanted to do something different that week. Something we hadn’t done in a while, and someone suggested the river walk.
We hadn’t been back there since we first discovered it several years ago. It is a bit of a hike, three miles or so, there and back, which is probably why we hadn’t returned before now, but it is a lovely walk and we sort of talked ourselves into it.

It was originally a railway line, running through what remains of Liss Forest to the village of Liss itself. Two rivers converge along its length, the Rother and the Blackwater and the area is a nature reserve with several wet meadows and mixed deciduous woodland.
But it is so much more than that.

Because it was a railway line, the walk is slightly higher than the surrounding countryside, so you don’t really feel swamped by the trees, but still a part of it all. The weather that day was ideal. Not too hot or windy, and once inside the forest, every shade of green overwhelms you.

I have a special affinity with trees, and to be in such a grand company of them was wonderful. Bird song followed us as we strolled along, stopping every few feet to look at all the special details. A fallen tree, a freshly dug animal burrow, the wild flowers, including masses of honeysuckle, left behind when people once lived close by.
The smell is amazing too, at this time of year the normal intoxicating aroma of the forest is suffused with all the wild garlic that grows all along the riverbank. A heady mix.

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Along the way, you cross three huge bridges, refurbished with new green oak, but built on the original steel and concrete structures. Towards the end of the walk you come across the old station and platform, eerily empty at first glance, but linger a while and you can hear the ghosts of yesterday.

It was a long walk, but a lovely one. Well worth every aching muscle!

#Throwback Thursday ~ 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 wonderful 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 advertising, even though we don’t have much of a budget 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 finally create a masterpiece. Apparently, 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 # Week 20

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So far, this has been a good week, no major disasters or tinkering malfunctions. Apart from the new email format on BT, that is!

This is still driving me nuts, but I have discovered that the problem might be due to an ageing Windows 7 that will be discontinued at the end of the year. I have been warned to expect more of this kind of problem.

Which means I have a decision to make, one that will cost money, so I am dragging my heels a while longer. Quite apart from coughing up for a new pc, it means I will have to tackle Windows 10, not something I am looking forward to frankly.

ON THE EDITING FRONT

The editing of PayBack is progressing well, and the first two rounds are done and dusted. Next, I will run through each of the characters chapters. This is an excellent way to ensure that the story of each character runs true, with no yawning great holes or continuity errors. I love this edit, as it gives me the opportunity to get up close and personal with my favourite people and make sure I have presented them in the best possible light.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT

It seems like a long time since I had a really crazy moment. Just as I was thinking I was getting too old for crazy, one trotted up and tapped me on the shoulder.

I will explain if you promise not to call the people with the straitjackets.

Last month, I had my hair cut. To cut a rant short, I wasn’t happy with it. At all.

I have been patient, trying to decide what to do about it.

I usually prefer my hair to be on the short side as it is fine, wispy, and a bit curly, with a mind of its own. It usually prefers to do its own thing and resists any attempt to make it behave. Which most of the time is okay with me.

It grew quite long, and I have been wearing it pinned up, simply because I cannot stand it wrapped around my neck like a scarf.

Out of the blue (and this took me by surprise too) I grabbed a pair of scissors in one hand and chunks of hair in the other and chopped away. I had seen this done on films and must have secretly wanted to have a go.

Well, my hair is no longer hanging around my neck but is a tiny bit shorter than I wanted it to be. But I dare say it will grow again…

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Memories of The New Forest

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It was a late summer day. The sky was an intense blue and enormous puffy white clouds sailed above our heads, heading towards the horizon as we set off on an adventure, satnav in hand.

The journey to the New Forest took just over an hour but didn’t seem very long at all. There was lots of lovely scenery to look at, especially as we got closer to the Forest.

You know when you are almost there, for you begin to see the wild ponies everywhere. They are allowed to roam freely, wherever the mood takes them and if you are lucky enough to live there, you must get used to them just turning up and being in the way. They are not that small, either. To call them ‘ponies’ would give you the wrong impression. Most of them are quite a size and can be quite formidable!

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I am always surprised when people seem frightened when a pony gets too close to them. Sometimes it can be alarming, one poor man had to give up his ice cream; it was either that or lose an arm.

As we made our way to the car park, there were several ponies standing around in the street and a few more in the car park. Nobody seems to mind, but it does tend to play havoc with the traffic. Most of the foreign tourists have no idea what’s going on, and I know from experience that it’s completely terrifying trying to steer a car around a completely oblivious animal that’s just standing in the middle of the road.

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It was not our first visit, so we knew what to expect. We were here about ten years ago and still remember one rather large and stroppy pony who was trying to break into some of the cars in the car park. He obviously thought he could smell food, and it was all very scary not to mention the damage he was causing!

We decided to have lunch and have a look around afterwards, so we chose an eating-place with a good view of the road so we could watch the show. One pony, in particular, was standing in the middle of the road and didn’t look as though he had any intention of moving anytime soon. He seemed to be hell-bent on causing as much disruption to the traffic flow as possible. Almost deliberately, I thought as I could swear I saw mischief in his eyes.

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I heard some of the locals explaining to the tourists that the freedom the ponies enjoyed was theirs by right, as they were here first. The New Forest belongs to them and people take second place, as simple as that. Very strange goings on, if you ask me, but wonderful to see. This has been going on for centuries and I can see it going on for years to come.

 

I could live there for sure, to literally share your life with wild ponies seems like my idea of heaven.

Quite apart from the fact that I have wanted to live in a forest for years…

A very Special Day…

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Yesterday was my birthday and it didn’t rain, so I managed to visit our local pond/lake. I was desperately in need of a walk and some fresh air after all the editing.

The family gathered at our house with their arms full of flowers, and massive balloon in the shape of a butterfly dominated the scene. Such a beautiful balloon too, I will be sorry when it deflates and is no more.

We drove to the pond and parked at one end. The walk all around it is rather long, one of the reasons I wonder why they call it a pond, so we always walk halfway around and then stop for lunch at the waterside cafe.  I had one of the best cheese and ham panini’s ever and ate it with our new baby on my lap. Barely two months old, she was fascinated by all the trees and ducks. I think she was eyeing my lunch too!

I could sit and watch the antics of the swans, geese and ducks all day, but dark clouds were beginning to gather, so we took off again to walk back to the car park on the other side of the pond. As we walked, we noticed that one of last years cygnets was following us. It was a little intimidating, as swans have a reputation for being anti social. This one, a huge lumbering beast out of the water, was hellbent on saying hello to anyone brave enough to stop and talk. This happened to be me, and when I extended a hand in friendship, he bit it. Now this should have hurt, for they have serratted bread knives in their mouths, but it was gentle and didn’t hurt a bit. I couldn’t help wondering why he was being so friendly and whether it was a good idea.

I hadn’t mentioned it, but I had seen the ravens watching the ducklings and knew what they were about. I prayed they would go away and not bring death to such a beautiful place. It would seem we cannot escape sadness, even on a glorious Spring walk…

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