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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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…

watermark xjj

 

 

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 19

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I still have to juggle the laptop and computer, just to wade through my email list. Whatever is wrong, BT either doesn’t see it or could care less, despite my wordy complaints.

Days passed, and I learned how to cope with my malfunctioning emails. I am sure it helps to be stubborn like me.

Then they sent me an email, asking for feedback for their recent changes. I couldn’t believe it. Had they received my complaints? Or were they under the impression that I liked the mess they had created?

Needless to say, I did answer their email, but I wasn’t polite. At all.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING WEIRD

Our hot water system is on a timer, and we always have plenty of hot water. So I was surprised to find it barely warm when I washed my hair. Investigation revealed that a switch had been turned off.

Strangely, no one had touched it, so I turned it back on.

Next day, it was lukewarm, and again, the switch was turned off. Either we had a paranoid interfering ghost, or the switch was faulty.

I couldn’t imagine what kind of fault would do this, so when it happened yet again, I reported it anyway. Maybe a new switch would solve the problem.

We are quite used to strange goings on around here. Remember that mysterious red light reflected in our front room window? We never did find what was making it and it is still there. Read the post here

FINALLY, SOMETHING REALLY GOOD HAPPENED

The beta read I ordered from Fiverr.com last week came back yesterday from Sara Mae. I opened the file, feeling more than a little apprehensive. To be honest, I expected the worst. Maybe Sara would find my story ridiculous or substandard and return it to me unread.

Imagine my delight to discover that Sara absolutely loved it. She was very thorough, pointing out what could be changed to make it better. Most of the points she raised were sensible and logical. I could clearly see what a difference it would make.

This was a trial run to see if it would be workable, ready for PayBack, my WIP and it most definitely was.

So if you need a beta read or help with anything writing related, you know where to go…

watermark xjj

 

 

 

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 18

 

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This week, I must have found my sensible hat, for most of last week’s problems have just faded away, leaving the rest of them easily managed.

My WIP is written in three acts. Acts one and two have been edited to within an inch of their lives, run rough Grammarly and finally spell checked. Progress indeed!

I am really impressed with Grammarly. It finds all of my mistakes and their suggestions aren’t bad either. It is so easy to use, and my readability has increased tremendously since using it. It really is helpful and doesn’t muck about with the formatting, unlike some I have used before.

The third act needs the works thrown at it now, and after that, I will do the final read through, checking there is enough magic. Also considering having it read to me by the new feature I have discovered on Word.

Despite all of this incredible progress, my dismal eyesight is making everything a nightmare. My eyes get so tired with all the straining, but I am determined to finish the WIP and make it the best yet.

I have also started an experiment with Fiverr.com. You have probably heard of them, they offer all kinds of writing-related services at reasonable rates. For the princely sum of £12, a very accomplished woman is beta reading one of my other books. She has masses of glowing reviews, so hopefully will do a good job.

I hope she does, for I need all the feedback I can get, especially with this new book coming out soon.

 

This week’s Rant

I may have mentioned this before, but I love going through my emails. Some people find this a chore, but to me, they are a wealth of interesting posts and valuable information on some fascinating subjects. Twice a day, (yes, we get that many) I get to explore, discover and enjoy so many delights.

BUT… because BT has recently tinkered (updated) the way we get them, what was once a joy, is now a bloody nightmare!

It refuses to obey me, argues with me and then freezes, so I end up switching to my laptop just to keep my sanity. BT made the mistake of asking what I thought of their improvements this morning, so I let them have my opinion, both bloody barrels!

And a word to the wise, I hear that Twitter is planning an update too!

watermark xjj

 

 

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 17

 

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For so many reasons this week has been a nightmare.

I received a letter from the hospital summoning me for another look at my cataracts. This has imposed a deadline on my editing, for after that date, I may not be able to see what I’m doing, depending on when or if they decide to do something this time.

Seriously though, I am getting really fed up with not being able to see properly. Everything is blurred, and print is so small.  And don’t get me started on the headaches!

Having a deadline is one hell of a way to buck my ideas up, that’s for sure.

Just when I was feeling positive about everything and things were moving  along swimmingly, BT decided to upgrade their email site, resulting in the most awful balls up. If this is what passes as ‘better’, I must be a monkey’s uncle!

Not only is it poorly arranged, but the layout sucks, AND it keeps going wrong! I mean, I don’t ask for much, just that things work the way they’re supposed to.

Moving on to what I’m supposed to be doing, the editing of PayBack. Right in the middle of thinking I was doing a brilliant job, I realised that somehow I was out of my depth. This turned into what the hell did I think I was doing, so everything crashed right there!

I am beginning to think my brain has finally decided to be old and past it after all. All without consulting me, I might add. I keep forgetting where I am in the process of editing, and what I’m supposed to be doing. I spread all these chapters on my desk, trying to make sure the plot was running smoothly. I found myself staring at them, with absolutely no clue. My head was empty, and I had never felt so lost in my life.

I don’t understand what is happening, for I usually breeze through editing. Hell, I was an editor long before I became a writer and love doing it. The chance to polish your story until it shines is a glorious part of writing, and here I was, unable to organise a piss up in a brewery.

Editing, as you know, is a series of systematically checking everything. You must be methodical and do things in the right order, something I seemed to have forgotten how to do.

For the first time in my writing career, I might need an independent edit…  Something I never thought I would ever say…

And if all of this wasn’t bad enough, I have eaten all the chocolate!

watermark xjj

 

 

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 16

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Every now and then, we get a wake up call, a wonderful moment when a magic light bulb illuminates an area in our brain. This usually heralds a brilliant idea, something ground breaking or so incredibly sensible, you wonder why it took so long to surface.

Then there are the other kind. The ones accompanied by that awful stomach churning, as you realise how stupid you are or have been.

Today, I had one of these, and it has done absolutely nothing good to my self confidence. I was re checking the enormous pile of helpful notes (I use this term advisedly) when the realisation hit me between the eyes.

We make all these lists of things to do, things to remember or try. Then we get a sense of achievement when we actually cross something off. Today, it was brought home to me, just how stupid that is.

I had been watching a trailers someone had made using a company called Animoto. That name rang a bell, but the memory didn’t follow on. Had  I already checked them out? And if  I did, what did I find?

Those of you with fantastic memories will not need the advice I am about to share, but I suspect quite a few of you, like me, will find it useful.

When we read something that needs checking out, we should have a place to record our findings. Either a page in a notebook or an index card in our follow up box. Write a simple assessment, was it good/rubbish/too expensive/unsuitable…and if you logged on to the site, record the URL and your password.

I have no idea why this has never occurred to me before, as I seem to spend my life revisiting sites, only to realise I had been there before. It will be so helpful to be able to see at a glance all the info.

Just think of the time saved!

P S:  Editing of PayBack is progressing very well!

 

 

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 15

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Are there days when you cannot cope with your chosen occupation?

I have had many jobs in my time and hated quite a few of them, but never thought I would ever feel less than love for writing.

Lately, I have been having days when things seem to be slipping, a digital carrying-on that can plague anyone who switches on a computer.

This week, I had more than one day like this. A fatal mixture of an old and feeble person trying to use an equally old and feeble computer.

The overall tone of the week surprised me, seeing as I had just typed those magic words at the end of my WIP, I should be happy or at least relieved, or optimistic reaching the end of what has turned out to be a fascinating if complicated story.

Secretly though, I knew why I wasn’t jumping around like an idiot. I am an idiot (most of the time), but that wasn’t the reason.

I was secretly terrified that, having written this unusual and complicated story, that I wasn’t competent enough to present it in the best possible light.

This is a story that I didn’t know much about initially, or how to write it. It has been one hell of a learning curve. The research alone took almost as long as writing it.

 

Something strange happened today.

I have recently changed the header image on our website, and that is what I expected to see when I logged on, but the picture I saw was not mine and one I had never seen before.

How was this even possible?

Also, the new header image had vanished. It wasn’t saved with all the other old headers, so whoever had changed it had run off with my new one.

Surely, this couldn’t happen, could it?

Perhaps it was a message from my muse, for I wasn’t happy with my choice, so maybe she wasn’t either…

watermark xjj

 

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 14

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My week began with a state of confusion.

Before you say it, my weeks are always in a state of some confusion, but this time it felt different. All the clocks in the house were wrong, and my brain couldn’t grasp why. It was only when I noticed that the clock on my PC was exactly one hour ahead, that the penny dropped and I realised that BST (British Summer Time) had begun…

Hoping the confusion had gone, I set to rewriting the end chapters of my WIP, PayBack. The previous ending had been annoying me, and again, I couldn’t put my finger on the reason. The only thing running through my mind was that it hadn’t ended the way I thought it would. Right now, I would give anything to have the brain I used to have. You know, the one capable of multitasking and thinking of more than one thing at a time. It also knew what was happening most of the time.

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So, back to PayBack. It has been an interesting story to write. The main character, David Mallory, has all kinds of problems. Problems most of us have not encountered before. Writing about him has had me evaluating my own life. I have had issues too, but nothing like his.  I knew it was important to give his complicated life the justice and outcome he deserved and I would rewrite until I was satisfied I had done that.

Outside of the writing den, two jobs were outstanding. The windows are so dirty we couldn’t see out of them, and the grass was becoming dangerously high. I say dangerous because if I don’t cut it while at a manageable level, the mower throws a wobbly and chucks great clods of compacted grass all over the place. This causes me to throw a bigger wobbly, and you can hear the swearing for miles around!

The weather prevented any window cleaning, something I didn’t complain about! But the grass looks lovely now, if only for five minutes!

I  also managed to acquire the bragging rights for successfully creating some 3D book cover images with DIY Book Design. These will look wonderful on the new promotional posters I am planning for all of our books. I am claiming these rights because learning anything new usually takes me a month of Sunday’s!  Either it was very easy, or I’m getting better!

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watermark xjj

 

 

Jaye’s Journal… week 13

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Swings and Roundabouts…

 

I was watching Theresa May (the UK Prime Minister) this morning, and for the first time saw what looked suspiciously like signs of defeat. The normally serene and smart woman we are used to seeing looked tired and a little scruffy, as though she had been up all night. Which I suppose she might well have been, at this delicate stage of the Brexit negotiations. I got the definite impression that she is barely hanging on by her eyelashes.

I can identify with that state of affairs, for at 75 years old, with cataracts in both eyes and rampaging arthritis, I might be approaching the end of my rope too.

It has been a week of highs and lows, or swings and roundabouts if you prefer.

From a major disagreement with Microsoft, who thought I wasn’t me anymore and refused to accept several new passwords. They kept insisting I had to contact them on a mobile phone to resolve the problem. That was an even bigger problem for me, as I don’t have such a thing! But once I borrowed one, everything was okay again.

Then I finally managed to claim our website on Pinterest, something I had been trying to do all week.

I still don’t understand why any of this happened, or why using a mobile phone made Microsoft like me again, especially as it wasn’t mine, but that was the closest I want to get to HTML or all things SEO!

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The minute I feel life returning outside my window, it’s like a wake-up call for me to pull my socks up and get cracking. You never know, this could be the year when all things become possible.

Spring is finally here and the sun is shining, but it is very cold. I know this because I have ventured outside to check on the garden. I still call it a garden, even though I now need a machete to go very far! The grass has begun to grow, heralding the start of much fruitless pushing and shoving of my equally ancient lawn mower. Luckily, I think it can wait a while longer.

My Bonsai are all sprouting, cold or not, their winter sleep is over and it will soon be time to check their roots to see who needs a trim, fresh soil or a bigger pot. This is about all I am capable of these days, as I really cannot cope with the ever-present growth of brambles in my jungle of a garden. The last time I tried to tame them I had to retire wounded and bloody, so now they have my permission to run riot.

If I do get the urge to blitz them, I will get a flamethrower and do the job properly!

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#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 12

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There has been a noticeable air of determination in the office this week. Even Merlin, our cat has spent more time with me, sitting on my desk for all the world as though supervising the whole shooting match.

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And what has triggered this state of affairs?

I think it started when I realised I was in danger of drowning under the growing piles of paperwork on my desk, and that something needed to be done about it and sooner rather than later.

I have known for some time that we have been drifting like a rudderless boat. It was never spoken about, but I think we had slowly abandoned all hope of ever achieving our goals. ‘Maybe one day,’ had turned into ‘In your dreams.’ almost without our noticing.

It was while sorting through the pile of paperwork, that I think I was bitten by some kind of creative bug. I became determined to do something about our state of inertia. Everywhere I looked it seemed, other people were making progress so it was reasonable to assume we could too.

Somewhere among all the paper in front of me had to be the key to our future in the writing business. I was in the habit of saving helpful articles, all claiming to turn me from hopeless to genius in no time at all. So I systematically sorted through the pile, keeping some and discarding others. I started a list of things to do, determined to master or learn one new thing every day.

On day one, I updated our Pinterest boards, adding new pins relating to our book promotion and adding our URL to them all. This, apparently, will increase the traffic to our website.

Day Two, I updated the header menu on our website, adding all of our #BlogBattle posts. Not essential, just something I had been meaning to get around to.

Day Three, we need to find readers, so I start with Twitter. #Amreading. and follow some readers.

Day Four, update our book promo posters. I also took the afternoon off and spent it cuddling our new Great Grandchild, something far more rewarding!

Day Five, read up on creating a street team. We need several readers to help promote my almost finished crime mystery novel. If anyone has any helpful hints for this, please holler!

 

My days are beginning to look quite different now. I write first thing in the morning for at least an hour, more if it’s flowing well. Then I attack the emails. This can take up to two hours. Then it’s social networking and follow-ups until lunch.

I like to do an online jigsaw while I eat, something that is supposed to help my ageing brain! so no guilt there!

After lunch, I post whatever articles we have available, and the rest of the afternoon is dedicated to the new learning routine and or research.

What we need to do, is set up a schedule that will mostly run itself, freeing up some time for other activities.

As that old adage is slowly becoming true around here.

The one about all work and no play…

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