#Jaye’s Journal ~ Week 37

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Emails: Do you find them delightful or disastrous?

There are days when I find our never-ending list of emails such a chore. Days when the list is stuffed full of messages from people I don’t know, and endless advertising.  Not to mention all the get-rich schemes and must-have courses that cost a fortune!

It can take two hours to sift through them all and this must be done twice a day, seven days a week.

Today was a good day. There were several beautiful poems, inspiring stories and articles that had me reaching for my notebook. Smiling one moment, then wiping the tears from my eyes the next. There was also a couple of helpful posts that might make my life more interesting.

I like to share the better and more helpful emails with our readers, when we get them, of course. I mean, you can never have too much of a good thing, and if we can cheer up or help at least one person each day, I consider that a good day.

There is one aspect of our email list that does concern us, and that is the amount of companies trying to fool you into opening their emails for fraudulent purposes. We are advised to ignore them and never open them, but if it’s a company you use or belong to, it can be worrying. Supposing it’s genuine and you really need to read it?

I mean, how are we supposed to know the difference?

Much more of this, and I can see that letter writing might be making a comeback!

#Jaye’s Journal ~ Week 36

 

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What exactly is a coincidence?

“A coincidence is a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection…”

“A coincidence is something that is not planned or arranged but seems like it is. Technically, a coincidence is an occurrence of events that happen at the same time by total accident.”

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It doesn’t seem to matter what we talk about in our house, it can be on any subject but within a very short time we will hear or see a reference to it.

It could be an image we see on TV, or on a passing truck. Sometimes, someone will quote our words back to us while we watch a programme. I even find some of the key words of our discussion as answers or clues in my crossword puzzles.

It’s as if the Universe has joined in our conversation somehow…

Yesterday was the best yet.

We were working on Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge and the image prompt was a discarded bottle in the desert with what looked like a letter inside.  I had printed out the image so we could discuss the best way forward.

Literally, within seconds, Eamonn Holmes on the This Morning programme on ITV, started saying that the genie was out of the bottle!

We are quite used to these coincidences, but this one had our jaws dropping!

There are times when whatever this is, seems to go crazy, firing coincidences at us repeatedly. It usually involves a subject we would love to know more about and creates an avalanche where we will see and hear references to it for several days.

We have heard that synchronicity, a term originally coined by Carl Jung, is supposed to mean a meaningful coincidence that can only be explained by a phenomenon of energy, but what does it really mean?

Are these happenings really signs from the universe, confirming we are on the right track, but which track and what are we supposed to do about it?

Can it really contribute anything to the way we live our lives?

 

©Jaye Marie

#Jaye’s Journal ~ Week 35

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In this hot weather, some shop keepers put out bowls of water for any passing dog that might be passing, and this kindness always makes me smile. So imagine my surprise when I was offered a drink of water while browsing the bookshelves at my local charity shop. It was very welcome too!

The woman in charge had one of those containers with a tap and a supply of paper cups. Such a thoughtful gesture in this unbearably hot weather.

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It is noticeably cooler today, so I might be able to think better, something I found impossible yesterday. Finishing PayBack, my WIP was hard enough, but coming up with a rivetting blurb has proved to be beyond my capabilities this week. I have written dozens of them, only to throw most of them into the bin.

I thought about running a poll or whatever you call it, to see what our readers thought, but having not done one of these before, I decided to print the top runners on this post.

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Blurb Version One:

A CITY ON EDGE. A DETECTIVE ON SHAKY GROUND

A serial killer roams the streets of Brighton. When the case lands on Detective David Mallory’s desk, his own personal demon may prevent him from bringing this vicious monster to justice.

As the body count rises, Mallory finds himself sinking under the weight of a heavy secret – one that could jeopardise his job and his reputation.

AN ENGLISH TEACHER WHO CANNOT CATCH A BREAK

Will Taylor’s life is falling apart. Suspected of the sadistic murder of his beautiful wife, he is fired from his post at the University. With so many circumstances stacked against him, how can he prove his innocence?

BOTH MEN HIDE TERRIBLE SECRETS

When their complicated lives become entangled, will David Mallory summon the strength and courage to stop the killer?

And can Will Taylor prove his innocence, reconcile the past and make a new life for himself?

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Blurb Version Two:

As a sadistic murderer preys on the women of Brighton, Detective David Mallory hovers on the edge of the life he wants but haunting childhood memories prevent him from moving forward. Until he can reconcile his past and come to terms with who he is truly meant to be, his fight for justice for the slain women will prove more and more difficult.

With an entire city counting on him to stop this madman, can he summon the strength and courage to stop the killer in his tracks and live in his truth?

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Blurb Version Three:

A city on edge. A detective on shaky ground.

A serial killer roams the streets of Brighton, hunting for his next victim.

When the case lands on Detective David Mallory’s desk, his personal demon may prevent him from bringing this vicious monster to justice.

As the body count rises, Mallory finds himself sinking under the weight of a heavy secret – one that could jeopardize his job and his reputation.

With the pressure building, can the troubled detective reconcile his issues and solve the case before more women die?

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So, what do you think of these blurbs?

Please give me your honest opinion.

Tell me what you think, as my brain has given up and I cannot hope to start launching PayBack without a decent description!

#Jaye’s Journal… Week 34

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This week has been the worst yet.

I am still struggling with the WIP and although the last read through went well, trying to come up with a decent (and rivetting ) blurb/book description has been hitting a wall.

One day in the week, I think it was Wednesday, I found myself actually hating the whole thing and walked out of my office. I spent the rest of the day watching repeats on tv, hated the guilt and feelings of failure that were trying to consume me. Luckily, I woke up the next morning in a much more productive and positive mood, and the project is back on track.

My eyes are presenting a problem that I wasn’t expecting, however and this might be affecting my patience. Which is normally legendary, but has been falling down on the job. My eyesight is improving in leaps and bounds, but having to wear my old reading glasses has become something of a nightmare.

It became so bad, that I was forced to steal a pair of Anita’s reading glasses just to see to read something. Her eyes are nowhere near as bad as mine, which shows how much mine has improved. I have to wait several weeks before I can get new ones and I’m rapidly reaching new levels of annoyance.

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Desperately trying to find something more positive (and pleasant) to think about, I found myself watching some water colour trailers on YouTube. This is something I used to do, until writing grabbed me by the throat! I day dream about actually doing some of these crafts this winter, and the idea is doing wonders for my poor tired brain. My WIP has pushed it to the limit this year…

#ThrowbackThursday ~ “Faring to France on a Shoe” @ValeriePoore

 

A travelogue about a dream come true. After seven years of owning their barge, Hennie-Ha, seven years involving catastrophe and crisis, Val and her partner finally go ‘faring’ to France for the first time. This travelogue is about the places they visit and the people they meet along the canals on their route from the Netherlands, through Belgium and into northern France. It tells a gentle story about how they experience their life on board during the four weeks they spend cruising. Written as a journal, the reader joins them on their travels through rain and shine and reveals how day by day, Val learns to cast aside the stresses and demands of the real world and to appreciate life’s simplest of pleasures to the full.

And why ‘Faring to France on a Shoe’? Well, download a sample and then all will be clear, or just have a ‘look inside’!

Our Review

I have loved reading all of Valerie Poore’s books about her adventures afloat. “Faring to France on a Shoe” is a very different challenge. This time, Valerie and her partner Koos find and fall in love with a Dutch barge called the Hennie-Ha. Smaller than their other barges at just 15 metres long and not big enough for Koos, a tall Dutchman, but it would be perfect for ‘faring’ or cruising the French waterways, something Valerie has always wanted to do.

Living on a boat or a barge is a challenge, for everything is so compact with not much room to spare. This alone leads to situations that would test anyone’s patience. I have always admired the way Valerie copes with whatever life throws at her, her ingenuity and determination always leading to the joy of her achievements.

In her previous books, Valerie has been faced with some immense challenges, and you come to admire the strength and humour it took to overcome them.  This time, I thought, would be different. A delightful holiday on the French waterways. What could be better?

Right from the start, the problems arrive, some more disastrous than others. Undaunted, as usual, Valerie and Koos master them all, leaving just the numerous locks to contend with.

I have had the misfortune to be introduced to the locks on the River Thames in the UK, something I didn’t enjoy and wouldn’t do again even if my life depended on it! So take it from me; locks can be tricky and dangerous places.

But the holiday in France turned out to be worth the trouble it took to get there. Valerie’s brilliant powers of description introduce you to so many amazing sights, sounds and delights of an amazing journey, leaving me sorry to come home…

 

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About The Author

Val Poore was born in London, England, and grew up in both north London and the west of Dorset. After completing her degree in English, History and French at Bournemouth, she took a further course in the conservation and restoration of museum artefacts at Lincoln College of Art which qualified her for nothing at all really. She then spent two years doing furniture restoration before going to South Africa in 1981 with her husband and small children.

Valerie left South Africa permanently in 2001 and has settled in the Netherlands, where she shares her time between a liveaboard barge in Rotterdam and a cottage in Zeeland. She teaches academic and business English on a freelance basis and still writes in her spare time, although she admits there’s not enough of that at the moment. In fact, she has been writing since childhood and wrote stories, articles and radio plays for years before embarking on her first book in 2005. Val loves travelling especially when it involves roughing it a bit. She feels that she has better adventures and more interesting experiences that way.

She has written six books altogether: the Skipper’s Child (teen/kidult fiction), How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics (sort of grown-up, humorous fiction), Watery Ways and Harbour Ways (memoirs of her first years of living on a barge in Holland), Walloon Ways (three years as a weekend Belgian) and African Ways (a memoir her life on a farm in South Africa). Her seventh book (another novel) is in progress but is taking rather longer than she had hoped. This is simply due to real life getting in the way.

 

 

My Other Love…

 

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For one reason or another this year, I haven’t been taking as much care as I would like with my collection of bonsai. Not entirely my fault either, as the weather has been all over the place, what with the heat waves and then torrential rain. Handy, in a way, because they love rainwater.

Some of them need repotting, and I only managed to get to a few which has been nagging me ever since. Repotting is important, especially for the smaller ones as they use up most of the goodness in their soil. This is usually done in the spring, before they start to grow again after the winter hibernation.

 

Finding the right soil mix has become difficult too, as my usual supplier has run out and shows no sign of restocking. The right soil is important, as free draining is essential. Waterlogged roots will eventually kill the tree.

 

My great niece found me sniffing the soil of one of my bonsai the other day and wanted to know what I was doing. She probably thought I had lost my marbles, as it must have looked a bit strange. I explained that a healthy bonsai with a good root system and the right soil, would have a very pleasant and distinctive smell, and is a good way of checking you are taking care of it properly.

 

We have more hot weather to come they say, so I will find out if any of my trees need emergency repotting. If any of them wilt in the heat it will mean their roots have little or no protection from the elements. I don’t want to disturb the roots, not this close to autumn, so will have to replace what soil I can, leaving the roots undisturbed.

 

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Hawthorn: Tree of the Week: Image by Pixabay.com

 

Progress Report

There have been no new signs of life from the rescued Oakey Dokey yet, but the few leaves he has are still green and healthy. He is probably busy beneath the soil, creating new roots.

 

©JayeMarie

 

 

 

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 33

Jaye's Journal x12

 

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen…”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

I have a pretty big bone to pick with Mr Emerson, for in my experience, he had it backwards. Just try to make a decision and see what happens.

The minute you do, unseen forces start to work to make bloody sure it won’t happen, and it seems to have all the resources in the world at its disposal.

This year, it has been one thing after another to slow down our working progress and my current WIP, PayBack has taken several ages to finish.

Most of it was to be expected to be fair, what with various age-related ailments and the eyesight falling to record levels. Then the extended period of surgery, first one eye and then the other. Throw in a cartload of family problems and the result isn’t pretty. If I could see where I was going, I might start running!

I have been blessed cursed with more than my share of patience, so I have weathered each obstacle and handled it to the best of my ability, but it has left its mark. I am so tired of never getting where I want to be. Of constantly fighting that small voice in my head that tells me to give up and forget about everything, to go and sit in the garden.

Well, that idea is very tempting and if it stopped raining for a while, I probably would. I have been known to sit out there, rain and all, but I can’t get my freshly hacked eye wet, so not this time.

Speaking of the latest eye surgery. After the first time. I thought I was prepared for the ordeal. It isn’t a pleasant procedure and left me giddy and feeling very sick last time, but it didn’t hurt at all and the improvement in that eye was almost immediate.

This time it hurt. It felt as though he was gouging my eye out with a spoon and several times, I nearly signalled him to stop as I feared it would get worse, but he managed to finish without me screaming the place down. Like last time, I was giddy and nauseous, but also very upset. He never apologised for hurting me, or asked if I was all right, just disappeared, leaving the nurses to take care of me. They were wonderful, and after a lovely cup of coffee and ginger biscuits, I felt better. The eye was aching, and this would continue for several days.

Two days on, and the ache is fading. I am a little disappointed with the result so far, compared to the first eye. The sepia effect has gone but the lens glare is worse this time. The first eye manages without glasses now, but the vision in the second eye is still blurred.

(They don’t tell you about the lens glare, and it was disturbing until I discovered what it was. My first thought was that the new lens was loose and/or trying to come out, but I was seeing the edge of the lens catching the light. This fades as the lens beds itself in its new home and the edge of the scar heals over…)

I am not allowed to do much for a while, bending, lifting, wash my hair etc… so I thought I could get cracking on the preparation for the book launch. A golden opportunity to sit at my computer all day, or so I thought. But the eyes get very tired, so not getting as much done as I thought.

Hopefully, all of this will pass and the sooner the better…

 

(Thank you for all your kind thoughts and for listening!)

 

 

 

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 32

 

Jaye's Journal x12

 

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Have you ever had one of those weeks when you have been so busy you haven’t had time to think?

Has your to-do pile grown so big you’re having nightmares about dealing with any of it?

At the end of every day do you wonder why you don’t seem to have achieved anything, despite being on the go all day?

Well, this week was the closest I have ever been to hell without getting burned. The stress levels in the family were at crisis level for a while and none of us coped with it very well.

The WIP (PayBack) is finally finished (I think) and I have just uploaded it to KDP as a draft, so I can have one final read through on Kindle. This is such a brilliant idea! It’s like reading someone else’s book!

Which is handy, because I was getting really fed up with constantly reading my printed copy. On Kindle, I should be able to spot anything that might have slipped through the net.

Time to start preparing the launch. I have been organising like crazy in my head and have a pile of notes on the subject, but now I must make all the right decisions, as PayBack might just be my last book and I want to do it proud, so to speak. Stopping writing doesn’t bear thinking about really, but I found this one so hard to write. I never thought I would ever stop, but the jury is out now, so who knows what will happen once the dust has settled.

First, I must get past the second of my cataract removals next week, and I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to being able to see properly again. The last few weeks have been a nightmare, what with the good eye fighting the bad one all the time. Everything I have been doing lately has been managed just a few inches from the PC screen. (I have been Mr Magoo for long enough) All of this was giving me serious headaches and my neck and back muscles are never going to forgive me.

The housework (what housework?)  has suffered and the garden is a mess, and to be honest, the mountain of outstanding jobs is beginning to look impossible to climb, but who knows, we must be in the running for at least one miracle.

Pity we don’t get to choose which one!

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Jaye’s Journal ~ week 31

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I didn’t think I would be able to manage a journal entry this week, due to my involvement with the WIP. The very helpful beta report seemed easy to follow, I originally thought, until I began to sort things out.

You know what happens, what seems like a doddle always seems to end up far more complicated than you first thought. I am past the half- way mark now, (I think) so quite pleased with my progress.

One of the points raised, was that my main character wasn’t expressing himself properly or enough. I tried to find the reason for this, intending to give said character a lot more to say and feel. It was while investigating this, that I realised what the problem was.

His point of view was all wrong.

He needed to be written in the first person, as this would allow him to think and feel far more than he was now. I changed the POV in the first few chapters, just to see if it worked.

At this point, I hadn’t given a thought to how much work this would entail, or that it would delay the launch procedure even more. But I really liked the result, so will just have to work harder!

Changing the subject completely, I have been watching the second series of Keeping Faith on a box set as a means of unwinding at the end of some very complicated days. I have been blown away by this mystery drama and all the emotion displayed by all the cast members in this series. I’m a sucker for beautiful theme music and FF has a good one, so I thought I would share it with you.

 

By the time you hear from me again, I hope to have some really good news for a change!

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 30

 

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Beta Days!

 

We are constantly being told how important it is to have our work read by someone else before we publish. Even when our ego convinces us that our WIP doesn’t need this, that we have in fact, done a marvellous job!

My ego must be having time out, as I knew from the start that my current WIP, PayBack, needed a miracle or a beta read at the very least.

For so many reasons, PayBack was hard to write at times. This was the first time my writing confidence had faltered, and I worried about it a lot.

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PayBack is a crime thriller and I love writing them, even though creating all the twists and turns can test my brain to its limits. This time there were some unusual elements that I had never written about before, all of which threatened possible multiple pile ups and confusion if I allowed it to run amok.

Add to all that the miserable year I have had, what with my eyesight deteriorating and various other problems, it was a miracle I managed to write at all.

When I finally finished writing it, I knew it would need all the professional help I could afford. In this respect, I am lucky, for two books back I found myself a brilliant and reliable beta reader, Sara Maew from Fiverr.com and I think she is amazing.

I know that some of you recommend more than one beta reader or an editor, but even with the best will in the world, I cannot stretch my pension that far. Fiverr is very reasonable, and in my experience, Sara could easily command high prices for the work she does.

I am very confident in her abilities. She will find all my errors, plot holes, howlers and missing elements, and suggest ways to improve them. I also love that she includes praise for all the good bits!

The results of the beta read came in a twenty-page report and covered all the weak spots and errors. More dialogue was suggested, and the plot flow was far too erratic, but after reading this report, my confidence soared for I knew PayBack was fixable and would be a great read.

Criticism can be destructive, leaving both you and your book in a worse state than before, but Sara manages to fill me with such confidence, inspiring me to work on her suggestions to make PayBack not only perfect, but shining!

Next week, I hope to start the foundations for my marketing plan…