Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie

Two determined authors, bulletproof and dangerous…


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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. . .”


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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!

I have also been trying to complete all those projects that have been hanging around, and the story of my battle with cancer  ‘Apple Blossom’ is now on Amazon. Work is also continuing well on my non-fiction travelogue, and I am pleased with my progress so far.

 

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 will 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 the 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…

 


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A Good Sign…

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Christmas day was almost perfect. The cooking schedule went like clockwork, and for once the roast potatoes turned out just right.

The family arrived on time, and the exchange of gifts had us all laughing. Nothing too expensive, seeing as though we were all as p0oor as church mice this year, but everyone appreciated the care and thoughtfulness that went into every gift.

2016 has been a pretty dismal year, one way or another, so I was hoping we could end it on a high note.

The Christmas dinner turned out to be one of the best I have cooked over the years, something I was a little worried about, what with my failing eyesight and forgetfulness. There was one sticky moment when I was dishing up, I suddenly couldn’t remember who had what, but luckily I wasn’t alone in the kitchen and together we sorted it out.

We usually stay at the table long after the food has gone, to talk. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits, no sign of any trouble, but this was to be short lived. A new party game was brought out, and I could tell by the complicated instructions that it was a mistake. Far too many rules and things to remember, and it didn’t take long for the trouble to start.

Two of the younger members started picking at each other, each insisting we were doing it all wrong and challenging who would lead us to victory, so to speak. I tactfully suggested that it was too hard, that we should return to the old faithful game, one we played every year, but they were far too busy scoring points off each other.

They were sisters, long used to the long battle for supremacy. Something we all dreaded witnessing at any family gathering. That was when I insisted we play the other game and gradually the pot came off the boil.

We normally have another get together on New Year’s Eve, but some of us were busy and wouldn’t be coming.

Maybe this was a good sign too?

 

News Flash!

I heard a strange sound this morning.

It was nearly dawn and  faint feathery fingers of light streaked the sky… and I thought I could hear a blackbird singing.

I opened the back door to hear better, and there he was, singing his little head off, possibly for the first time this year?

Does this mean that he knows something we don’t?

But the mere fact he wanted to sing,  was a very good sign, and the sound filled me with joy…


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My Christmas Walkabout…

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The wind was howling and although it was early evening, it promised to be a wild night. It was very cold, with spots of rain/sleet in the wind.

I was determined to go out anyway. My hometown had finished putting up the Christmas tree and decorations, and I had been told they were particularly good this year.

Not sure how good my photographic skills would be, muffled up like an Eskimo, but my week thus far had been pretty dismal and I was in the mood for a bit of festive cheer.

The cold wind took my breath away the minute I stepped outside, and my eyes refused to stop watering, but it was truly magical. The only thing missing was snow. But considering our town’s history regarding snow, I didn’t really miss it. One year, it snowed so much and so quickly, we were cut off from the outside world for several days. Cars were abandoned everywhere, as conditions became treacherous and no one could get in or out by car.

A lot of snow fell that night, where usually we only get a few flakes, if anything at all. Some members of our family had to walk home from Portsmouth, some twenty miles, which took them over seven hours.

My walkabout last night was wonderful. I managed to take several photos with my new camera, using the night setting, something I had never done before. Some were a bit blurred, as I was probably shaking with the cold.

The best of all was the huge tree. Most years it has been a bit of a let down, looking more as if someone had thrown the lights and tinsel at it and missed, but this year someone with some artistic talent must have been in charge.

It was gratifying to feel that, at least in my town, everything was right with our world, even if the rest of the world was in turmoil.

And like a Victorian Christmas, all we need now are some carol singers!

 


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PROGRESS REPORT x two

 

We have recently run our third FREE Kindle Promotion on another one of Anita’s books, and again it was nothing much to write home about. The first, for Scarlet Ribbons received 36 downloads. The second, for Bad Moon, received 27. This one, for Simple, received 22. Nothing earth shattering as you can see.

Just about had it now with KDP. We gave it a try, again, but we think we might be going back to Smashwords and all that goes with it as soon as possible. And we’re not the only ones! Read Suzanne Rogerson’s post on the subject here.

Not that we did any better on Smashwords either, but we did get loads of free downloads. Which we thought was the way to get us known!

It could just be about being restricted to one outlet. We just don’t like it.

We are also revamping some of our covers. Basically, all the ones we don’t like any more. For they say that if you’re not getting anywhere, change a few things.

I have also just finished the last book in my murder mystery series, and once the editing is done, I will be running a promotion for them all. Either one at a time, or all together, not sure which would be better.

While book three is resting (this is to get it out of my head prior to the edit) I am reading through book two again, as I want to make a significant change to the ending. I am using the Hemingway system to check for any howlers that might have made it past my beta reader. I am actually using a spare paperback copy of book two for the read through, and it is making the job so much better than using a print out.  Easier to hold, for a start.

Hemingway is a very clever piece of kit. It highlights all your bad habits in different colours. See screenshot.

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I was amazed the first time I used it. I had cut and pasted three chapters of book two into it, and the screen lit up like a Christmas tree. All my hard to read sentences, passive sentences, complicated words and those horrible adverbs, all highlighted for my perusal and subsequent removal or alteration. Well worth the small amount of money it cost, as I seem to be getting either lazy or stupid in my old age!

And don’t all rush to agree with me!

 

 

 

 

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Brainwaves… not heatwaves!

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My brain never ceases to amaze me, and if you think about it, it just shouldn’t happen. For at my age, 72, you would think I would know my own brain pretty well by now.

This week, Tuesday was the day from hell, at least that’s what it felt like. So hot, my energy lasted about thirty minutes. For the rest of the day, I hauled my over-heated, sweaty body around, trying to at least look as though I was working.

I gave up about 4pm, for by that time I thought I was dying. I had drunk copious amounts of water in an effort to stay hydrated in the extreme heat, so couldn’t quite understand why I felt so bad.

That night was worse. Just as hot, and what precious breeze we had during the day, had vanished, leaving the humidity climbing the walls. Not much sleeping was done, and it wasn’t for the want of trying either as I still felt ill!

At one point, I strolled around the garden in my nightie, pondering the possibility of sleeping out there. So blissfully cool and peaceful, I really didn’t want to return to my stiflingly hot bedroom.

 

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Somehow the morning arrived, and the sun was not in evidence, so it was noticeably cooler. As I drank my first cup of tea, my brain produced one of its early morning flashes of inspiration. Not a new thing, you understand, but surprising considering the day I had yesterday. I do most of my best writing at that time of day.

It seemed to be firing on all cylinders, so I switched on the PC to explore the new found ideas that had appeared literally out of thin air. Then, supercharged with all the coolness and enthusiasm, I found myself in Waitrose at 8.30 doing a quick shop. Would there be no end to the surprises today?

I hope it’s not as hot today, as I have work to do!