Jaye’s Journal (off the beaten track!)

In an effort to forget my health problems for a while, my journal today will concern itself with a much better topic!

 

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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. 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…”


 We hope everyone has a lovely weekend! The weather is behaving, so kick off your shoes and enjoy!  Back to work on Monday!!!

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Jaye’s Journal (28th May~ 2nd June)

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Last week began like any other, full of optimism and plans, doing what I love.

I had finished re-editing Anita’s book, Simple and created a new cover for it last week.  I haven’t updated the paperback yet or sorted out Goodreads. Changing anything is so bloody complicated, and I constantly worry about forgetting some minor (or major!) detail.

Up to 30.000 words on WIP now, and the further into the story I get I find out how inadequate my storyboard is. I ended up spending an afternoon updating it!

The cast of characters are running amok, and I thank God for Words search/find function, it makes it so much easier to find and check all the names and places.

I think I might be creating a monster, as this book has more characters and chaos than any of my other books. It’s a bit like being in charge of a runaway train!

Why is it that we plod along, thinking we are doing such an amazing job networking and writing when the marketing monster arrives and calmly informs you that your feeble efforts are rubbish?

But if you have limited funds for any paid advertising, what else can you do?

To cheer myself up, I watched copious amounts of the Chelsea Flower Show, as all those lovely gardens and flowers never fail to lift my spirits.

 

Moving on in a slightly more cheerful mood, we had a family birthday this week, involving a massive collection of family members. Will this be the year with no upsetting arguments, I hope so!

Towards the end of the week, I developed a very painful back. I have to walk almost bent double and painkillers are having a limited effect. Walking is out of the question but at least I can sit on the couch and at my desk, so might be able to get some work done!  We will have to starve until the situation improves, as I’m the only cook in this establishment. I’m trying not to feel guilty about this, but I’m not happy about any of it.

I assumed it had probably happened when I carried the heavy garden waste sack out to the kerb, something I have done many times before. It was only later when I remembered what we were doing the week before, that I realised the real reason for my pain. You remember, those couches we were juggling in and out of our house?

Proof positive, if it was needed, that it is time we started behaving like the old women we are before we break something permanently!

 

My Favourite Villain…

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“Like a beautiful man who farts as he leaves the room, Dexter changed the world for the better, but left a noxious stink behind…”

 

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Dexter: The TV series. 2006-2013

I discovered this series as I was checking out the box sets on my TV. Eight series, each containing 12 episodes, enough to keep me happy throughout the long winter months.

Boy, was I in for a treat!

It turned out that what I had discovered was a lethal formula of black comedy and revenge-killing procedural. From its debut in 2006, Showtime’s adaptation of Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter novels expertly marshalled its own absurdities to deliver a confident, darkly funny show like nothing around at the time.

It was television’s first serial killer procedural: a monster of the week format where Dexter assessed, tracked and killed whichever rapist, spree killer or assassin was in his sights. Rooting for the villain was nothing new, of course, but this took fanboying the bad boy to the next level.

Working as a blood-spatter analyst for Miami-Dade police offered Dexter the Intel and expertise to carry out his campaign. He was the psychopath you could introduce to your parents.

With every episode pored over in forensic detail, it only took the first episode to make me a devoted fan. As a budding crime/thriller writer, this series was like my own personal podcast, viewed from the comfort of my armchair. Every week, there would be something interesting to learn, some nuance or idea that could be utilised in a story of my own.

Dexter Morgan, bless him, played by Michael C Hall taught me so much about the perfect villain. One you could actually like and almost approve of.

And I did!

 

#Jaye’s Journal (looking for peace)

 

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After last week’s frantic juggling with not one, but two couches, I intended this week to be rather more peaceful. Maybe I could catch up with some writing?

The garden was happy, as I had cut the grass the week before. The hedge could do with a bit of a trim, but as there was still a bloody great couch in the way, that would have to wait. I did manage to spend a lovely relaxing afternoon repotting some of my bonsai, so they were happy too.

What followed was a week of odds and sods, some writing and more updating of Anita’s book Simple, which was written way back in 1992. It needed a full edit as I was amazed by how much better I edit these days, thanks mainly to Grammarly I think.

I tried to come up with a new cover for Simple, but inspiration seemed to be in short supply.

I am almost half way through PayBack, my WIP and already I know that the edit for this one will be a killer, as I think I may have over complicated it. There is a small mountain of notes and amendments already.

Somewhere along the way, there has been a noticeable change in my thinking this week. I have been worrying less for a start, about everything. If I don’t manage to get every little job done by the end of the day, I am strangely not annoyed. I have always been my own worst enemy, but lately, I find myself thinking, oh well, and moving on. I mean, what does it matter if something isn’t done today? No one will be rapping my knuckles, and that old guilty feeling seems to have taken a walk and I won’t miss it.

It could be something to do with my age, and the imminent arrival of being unable to do all the things I used to do. My eyesight doesn’t help. It has deteriorated to the point where I must take frequent breaks from reading and the TV.

Hopefully, I will have some news about the cataract removal soon…

#Jaye’s Journal (or how to Juggle a Couch!)

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image by Pixabay.com

 

Most weeks in our house are usually a mishmash of incidents, some good and a few of the other kind. But whatever happens there is never a dull moment around here!

This past week has excelled itself, hurtling from one mini-disaster to another. At one point, I contemplated staying in bed, just to break the cycle, but as I am the nosiest person for miles, I couldn’t bear to think of anything happening without me. Seeing as how I was born with a sword in one hand and cleaning mop in the other, I could usually cope with anything!

It all started to go wrong when we spotted a fantastic bargain in our local charity shop, a two-seater couch in black leather. It was in perfect condition and a price that would n’t bring our bank account to its knees. So without thinking things through, we bought it, to be delivered the following day.

But what to do with the dilapidated broken down couch in our living room?

The local council have a collection service, so all we had to do was get it out of the house. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? In case you were wondering, it definitely wasn’t.

We are both in our 70’s and not the fittest people on the block, but we were determined. We would do this, even if it meant dragging the couch out of the house in pieces. A not so small nightmare later, two broken and bad-tempered women sat on the old couch in the front garden, swearing never again. We didn’t understand why it had been so difficult, it was a two-seater after all. We clearly remembered the day years before when it was first delivered, so either the couch had grown, or the house had shrunk.

The next day, tempers and difficulty forgot, the new couch was delivered and peace reigned once more. How I wish the story ended there.

At this point in the story, I can blame Anita for what happened next. She had seen (and fallen in love with) another couch in the charity shop, which she assured me, would be far more comfortable than our old three seater. You couldn’t make up what happened next.

To cut a long and painful story short, we bought the three seater and managed to drag the old one out. Slightly easier this time as it could be dismantled. Shame it was so bloody heavy though!

Shortly after the new three-seater was delivered, it became obvious that the blessed thing wasn’t comfortable at all, and had to go. By this time we were exhausted,  unhappy and tempers were flaring. Again!

After three days of juggling large, heavy and unresponsive pieces of furniture, I have banned the word ‘couch’ from ever being spoken of in my hearing again. The furniture we have will just have to last, for there is no way I am going to lift anything heavier than the kettle for the foreseeable future!

 

 

To Be or not to Be?

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This morning, as I was reading the news on my PC, there was an article about recognising the signs of Alzheimers or dementia, and as I am constantly being told that I am well on my way to having one or the other, I gave it a read.

I suppose it was inevitable at my age, 74, for the remarks to start because I must admit, I am nothing like I used to be. (Sssh, don’t tell anyone I said that!)

 For instance:

… How many times do I forget what I am doing, or what I was going to do?

… How many times do I ask the same question or misunderstand the answer?

… Trying to find the right words to express myself.

… Are my mood swings more pronounced? Although personally, despite public opinion, I think I am having more good moods lately.

… Then there are the changes in my vision. (Which are definitely caused by my cataract)

…Do I have trouble learning new skills? (This is not exactly new, I have always been a bit dense, but I get there in the end!)

 

But on the good side:  (That I managed to find a few of these pleased me no end!)

I haven’t yet got lost in the street. (Although I did recently forget my dentist appointment)

I haven’t yet staggered down the road, waving my knickers in the air. (And I hope I never do, but it could happen apparently!)

I have not lost interest in any of my projects or hobbies. Just the time I need to do them!

I can still do sums in my head and follow a plot. (More or less!)

I have begun to worry less about our progress, but wonder if this is down to losing the plot!

 

One of my main accusers is also displaying some of these telltale signs, so it is probably only a matter of time for either one of us falls foul to the disease of the aged…  This isn’t a competition I intend to win, however…

All joking aside, I am becoming a little concerned about the star of my brain. At first, it was amusing and on a good day, it can be hilarious, watching myself do the most stupid of things. Like going out for a walk without any shoes on, or forgetting to switch on the washing machine/computer/iron/oven and wonder why nothing happens. One the best ones was wondering why the kettle didn’t quite fit in the fridge. Even I had to laugh at that one.

All of this is beginning to affect my writing too, despite all the notes I make, and the frantic checking what I actually wrote yesterday.

I still get a satisfying buzz when I reach my daily total, but the extent of my elation is in itself alarming. I am having to work in short bursts, and this is playing havoc with my productivity!

I want to believe this has everything to do with the cataract in my left eye. It has been slowly growing for some years now and is finally large enough to be removed. As per NHS guidelines, of course. My vision is doing such weird things, but could it be affecting my brain too?

If anyone has any experience of this, I would be delighted to hear it.

 

 

Flash Fiction: 99 word challenge for the Carrot Ranch Literary Community

(This weeks prompt is about Fishing)

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The ghost of a clown fish

I always feel like a picture in a colouring book, snow white, waiting for paint to fill in between the lines. Bright orange and white stripes. Blue and red, something to give me life.

I am a ghost swimming in an ocean of colour, shunned by my fellow beings, happy in their part of the universe while I swim alone, unwanted by the brightness around me.

I have seen how easily a child colours in while her father is fishing. I should throw myself on the hook and hope the child can colour in one lonely white clown fish…

© anita dawes 2018