Voices in Your Head?

 

 

My first book, Nine Lives came into being mainly because I became intrigued by the notion that most of us hear voices in our heads at one time or another.

From Pinocchio to Joan of Arc, people have been hearing things and sometimes a little voice can change history, and not always for the best.

Kate Devereau, the ageing artist in my book, has been hearing a voice all her life. Never sure if this is good or evil, she makes a point of ignoring everything it says. Would her life have turned out differently if she hadn’t?

Some people call this the voice of our conscience, a bit like Jiminy Cricket, but how many of us really listen or even obey its commands?

I personally don’t hear any voices, but sometimes I just know I should have done things differently, and have suffered the consequences…

When I researched this topic, I was amazed by just how many famous people have heard voices, going back as far as Moses. Some of these people were convinced they were hearing the voice of God; some thought a heavenly host had visited them. Whereas, on the other side of the scale, if a voice talked you into committing a crime, they usually lock you up and throw away the key.

Personally, I like the idea of a wise voice, advising and helping us with life’s problems. Pointing out the error of our ways would be very handy in our house.

But how many of us would dare to trust it?

 

Excerpt from  Nine Lives

… as the pain rolled on and on, Kate just wanted to die. She knew no one was going to rescue her, they never had before and it was a little late to start believing they would now. For some reason, she knew it was her lot in life to suffer, to be alone and be miserable, no matter how hard she tried to make her life any different. Surely, it was time for the curse on her life to stop? The voice in her head had said otherwise, apparently, there was much worse to come. But what could be worse than this, she thought.

Once the pain started to make her want to push, it all became a little more bearable. At least she felt more in control of the situation, not just lying there helplessly, being tortured.

The baby, a boy, was born that evening and nobody could have been more pleased it was over than Kate herself.

Throughout the ordeal, the voice had kept up a running commentary about her life being ruined. How she had wasted every opportunity and how sorry it was. The last bit surprised her, for she had always thought it disliked her. It had never said anything with any hint of kindness in it before. If it was simply trying to depress her even more than she was already, it had succeeded…

 

Second Tries, or how to make the right decisions?

 

 

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My brain must be like swiss cheese these days, soft, spongy and full of holes. I am getting really fed up with trying to think and decide what to do, or even knowing if the final decision is the right one. As they say, if I had half a brain, I would be dangerous!
I can’t decide (or remember) if I have always been like this, or if this state of affairs is yet another symptom of my advancing years.

Time is becoming problematic, far too much of it is spent second-guessing. Wouldn’t life be more efficient if all deliberation could be removed? Easier to pick a winkle out of its shell with a pin, I hear you say. But I am heartily sick of wondering which item to buy, which programme to watch, whether to cut my hair, the list is endless.

Added to my inability to choose anything, is the sure and certain knowledge that whichever one I pick, it will be the wrong one. Always is. I never get anything right on the first try.

Could life be more like plotting a book?
I know many writers don’t believe in plotting. They believe their characters will do most of the hard work for them, and I have experienced this first hand too. But other writers firmly believe in careful plotting, even a story board.

All my life, I have been a ‘winger’, hurtling from one idea to the next. Sometimes getting it right, but more often not. Advancing age has changed all that. I no longer have the time for hit and miss. Decisions I make now, have to be right, although how this will happen, remains to be seen.

Now, I am still virtually new to this writing business, and with the idea of getting it right first time (could be a novelty in itself!) I tried plotting. With a lot of practice, I’m getting better. So much so, that my latest WIP has been thoroughly plotted, storyboard and everything. But this is not something you could really do with your life. Too many decisions, and so many ways of dealing with them.

In addition, other people tend to make your life awkward, sometimes it seems, just to be bloody minded.

Could it be as simple as throwing a dice?

 

Then I remembered something. (It does still happen sometimes!) I once read about a man who always made every decision with the turn of a dice, and apparently, his life was glorious. Maybe it was worth a try, as my way was getting me nowhere.

On second thoughts, that sounds worse than ‘winging it’.

But if I were younger…

They say there are ‘two sides to every story’ and ‘everything happens for a reason’, but what if neither of these things is true? What if it is as simple as right or wrong?
Could it be that when life gets too difficult, we are simply trying to force wrong into being right?

Should we blindly follow our instincts?

 

Recently, I have been thinking back through my life and all the different choices that I had to make. To that small, persistent voice that nags you, insisting you do this or that. How many times had I ignored it, thinking my own choice was better, usually for all manner of reasons? Would my life have been better if I had obeyed that still, small voice? If I had not always chosen the path of least resistance, the path that always looked inevitable. Maybe the choice that looked the hardest, the most impossible, would have turned out better than what actually happened?

Maybe then, I wouldn’t have so many things to be sorry for, so many people I should apologise to.
If there is such a thing as reincarnation and I get another chance to live a better life, I hope I remember some of the things I have done wrong, all of the people I have hurt, and do it better next time…

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Am I my own worst enemy?

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How many times have you moaned about manufacturer’s insistence on changing and improving things?

It’s never for the better, is it?

It has recently dawned on me that I am guilty of the same behaviour, I am ashamed to say.

My problem is that I am never happy with anything I have created. At first, I am, but then the doubts start to creep in. What seemed brilliant in the beginning, starts to look shabby and inadequate, and nay I say it, inferior.

By this time, of course, I just know I can do better.

I do this with most things, but the ones that give me the worst trouble, are our book covers. They are so important to get right, aren’t they?

We have many books under our belts now, and I am not happy with quite a few of their covers. Some of you may have noticed, (and admitting this makes me cringe) just how often I change them.

 

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When a dirty blue car mows Maggie down outside her local supermarket, she becomes trapped in the nightmare world of a coma patient.
In this very different world, she manages to rescue an abused and neglected child. But when it looks as though she will finally wake up, she cannot bear the thought of leaving the child behind.
But is this other world real, or was she just dreaming? And if it is real, can she help this child?

“Maggie is a likeable character who is easy to engage with and I found myself willing her to find the courage to embrace happiness. If you like a story that is more than just your average romance then I thoroughly recommend this one…” Amazon Reviewer

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I have just changed the title and cover for Anita’s book, Scarlet Ribbons, mainly because the story is about just the one ribbon. It was only when I realised what else I would have to change, I began to see the enormity of my dissatisfaction.

The cover had to be changed on:

  • Our website
  • Amazon
  • Goodreads
  • The books trailer
  • Book links
  • The end matter in several of our other books
  • Buffer
  • Facebook

New posters had to be made, and replaced on just about every site I ever visit.

All of this took two days, and so far, so good, but I just know there will be other places I haven’t thought of yet, but right now, after doing all of that, I never want to change another cover.

But…

There is one that could be better…

 

#TuesdayBookBlog: CrossFire by Jaye Marie #CrimeThriller #Fiction

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DI David Snow has another killer to catch, a killer as mysterious as the crimes he commits. 

Betrayal and lies come to the surface as Snow struggles to find the truth, but is he looking in all the wrong places?

Can he outwit the killer, or will the truth cost him his life?

 

Excerpt from CrossFire

‘Do you know why we have brought you here today, Ann?’

Ruth thought she would ease her way in, rather than accuse her straight off, for triggering any hostility wouldn’t get them anywhere.

The woman stared at Ruth, her pale, colourless eyes searching for clues. ‘Nah… but I ‘spect you’ll get to it pretty quick…’

Ruth indicated a brown paper bag on the table beside her. ‘We found a pair of work boots at your house, Ann. According to your husband, they’re not his. Are they yours?’

Ann Taylor glared at Ruth. She seemed to be enjoying the interview, her arrogance showing through the previous nervousness. ‘Dunno, can’t see them can I?’

Ruth undid the bag and placed the dirty boots on the table. Most of the mud had dried and fallen off, but still didn’t seem like the kind of boot a woman would wear. ‘Are these your boots, Ann?’

Without looking at the boots, she shook her head. ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’

Ruth looked at Snow, but not for confirmation. She wondered why he was choosing to stay silent. What was the point of sitting in if he wasn’t going to contribute? Not that she cared, one way or the other. She had only looked at him to signify inclusion.

She looked back at the woman. ‘Are you quite sure, Ann?’

The woman shrugged her shoulders and refused to speak.

‘For the benefit of the tape, Ann Taylor has refused to answer.’

Ruth decided to read out the coroner’s report, detailing every bruise and damage to the child’s body. When she read the part about the boot imprint on the child’s back, she slid the photograph across the table in front of the mother.

‘Did you do this, Ann?’

When the woman didn’t answer, Ruth decided it was time to play the ace card, and she looked forward to it. This cold-hearted bitch of a woman was about to be arrested, but not before Ruth had enjoyed herself. ‘Are you aware that the person who wore these boots would have left significant DNA inside them?’

Ruth paused, watching as the realisation sunk in.  ‘And are you also aware that we have tested your DNA and it has been proved that you are the owner of these boots?’

The fear and shame were beginning to show on the woman’s face, and Ruth watched, wondering what she would do now. She didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Ann Taylor’s face seemed to implode, as the terror of being found out took effect.  ‘I swear I don’t remember that part… I know I were angry, but when she fell over and banged her head, I thought she were dead…’

‘So what did you do then, Ann?’ Ruth knew what had happened next, but not which one of them had done it.  ‘Were you aware that Amy was still alive when you dropped her into the canal?’

The horror was all-encompassing, as the woman realised the enormity of what she had done. She looked around the room, just once, before she started screaming…

 

 

 

An Exercise for the Mind…

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I am in the habit of changing my screen saver/background image quite often. I  like to have something lovely on my computer screen, as it is the first thing I see every morning.

This picture appealed to me for several reasons. I love trees and this one is lovely but also ethereal, the mist hiding most of the scene. I particularly like the contrast between the nakedness of the sleeping tree and the tree covered in blossom.

I have recently found myself  ‘skimming’ when both reading and writing, and I am not seeing or describing anything enough which is not good. This post is an exercise, not only for my eyes, but also for my imagination. I don’t want to think of my old age robbing me of so much of my enjoyment of life.

The blossom tree in this image attracted me first, being frustratingly out of focus enough to prevent an easy identification. The blossoms are pure white, no hint of colour on them, and the petals are delicate and small. The branches look old, but the slender double trunk would suggest otherwise. Are there any more clues in the picture?

The tree is blooming very early. The companion trees are still bare, their branches stark and austere looming through the mist. Winter has not long departed, as I imagine the chilly dampness of the morning on my skin. The shrubbery in the background is sparse too, confirming that Mother Nature is not fully awake yet.

My mind sifts through my knowledge of flowering trees and comes up with a likely choice. Is it a Magnolia, one of the small flowered varieties, maybe Stellata?

Moving on from the details of the image, my mind is not finished. I wonder where this lovely little tree is. The setting would suggest a park, for the area seems too big to be someone’s garden. There are vague images hiding in the mist, indicating far more space than first thought.

Could that be a roof I can see? It doesn’t look like the roof of a house though…

My mind yearns to explore this scene, to visit the tree and then walk into the mist to see what I can discover…

 

 

When? #Poetry #FlashFiction

 

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When

When will you love me as you did before?

When will I feel your arms reach for me across the bed to pull me close?

When will I feel your breath on the back of my neck?

When will I feel your kiss good morning, noon and night?

When will we fill that empty space between the sheets?

Tell me, most of all, that you love me again as you did before…

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Dreaming…

 

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I have been told that thinking is a dangerous thing to do at my age.  It is possibly a dangerous thing to do at any age if you think about it, for who knows where it may lead?

I quite like thinking, and all the things that trigger it off. Like books and pictures for instance. What I could do with is some method of retaining said thoughts, as they usually evaporate like so much smoke, never to be seen again. I make notes on everything in a vain hope of remembering all the good stuff, and it works some of the time.

Then I am told ‘what do you expect, at your age?’

But this is the difficult part. My mind does not feel old, even though it seems to have more holes in it than my favourite cheese, and when I see or read something that stirs my imagination, I am back in my prime, having a sneaky feeling that this is not all there is for me.

Some of the time I must admit that I really don’t want any more, I am too tired to even consider the possibility. Then there are the other days– days when you forget just how old and how stiff you are. That you find it difficult just going to the shops and back.

Days when you choose to ignore the sands of time slipping through your fingers and find yourself considering the most amazing possibilities.

Of course, this may be what happens as you approach old age. I don’t know, I have no experience or knowledge of it, not having done it before.

But if you can think, you can dream. And if you can dream I believe you can do anything… at any age!

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This post was written back in 2013, but it happens to sum up my thoughts at the moment.

I have been struggling to write my fourth book in my crime/mystery series, PayBack. Although I am three quarters finished, the sneaky feeling that there is something wrong just won’t go away.

It gets worse.

I have been waking up in the early hours, thinking about the story. This has been going on for weeks now and last night I dreamed about it. In the dream, my hero and my villain changed places for some reason.

I wanted to know about temporary and easily changeable hair colourants. None of this made any sense to me, all my book needed, I think, is a substantial edit to tighten up the plot. But it did get me thinking.

Could my choice of villain be all wrong? This could be why my hero was a bit lack lustre too. The whole premise could be askew. Anita and I had a brainstorming session to try to make sense of it all, and although we came up with some interesting ideas, they all involved major rewriting. No mean feat when you are 60.000 words in already.

I should be feeling devastated, and not sure why I’m not. The problem may or not be sorted, but whatever happens, it is doable. So that old post was right after all. If you can dream, you can do anything…

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Changes…

 

 

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                                   Would You Like a perfect life?

Who wouldn’t?

But could you describe in great detail the perfect life you would have if you could create it yourself?

First, you have to decide on the basics, the where what and when.  Then you will need to create a list to help you compare your life now with the one you want to create. List all the things/people/ scenarios that need changing and why.

Then make a list of what you would need to do to make it work. Then make another list detailing how nothing would change if you do nothing.

Do you believe in your dream and yourself enough to make it happen? Or do you intend to wait until everything looks easy?

Consider what would need to be done and if you could actually do it?

Do you trust yourself enough to make these judgements?

Do you find yourself making bargains with yourself – If I can do this, then that is possible?

Once you know, really know what you want to do, are you brave enough to do it? Or will it be a daydream, a constant torment of what you cannot have?

How do you get past the lifelong notion that good things only ever happen to other people? Have always happened to other people, like in the movies?

How do you get around the idea that you are too old to entertain any of this? Simply writing things down does not make things happen or fears go away.  Does it?  No, it does not.

If what you want to do or change is so huge, can you test yourself and the theory with a smaller goal? What else do you want or need, or is this just another stalling mechanism?

Maybe you should focus on something beyond your capabilities. (stretch yourself.)

This is something I do all the time.  I never think ‘I can’t do that’. Being a bit of a crafts person, I look at something I like, usually expensive or unattainable and think, ‘can I make one of those? and I have a go.

You know, most of the time what I come up with is good, even if I do say so myself.  Maybe I was a forger or counterfeiter in a former life.  I think the moral is that you have to try, as you don’t know what will happen. (and it can be a lot of fun!)

                                         

My Not So Perfect Life

Throughout my life, disasters of one kind or another have befallen me, both before I was old enough to do something about them and afterwards.

I never made lists of the things I wanted to change, of all the things, people, events that were wrong in my life.

No, I just got on with life (such as it was) and soldiered on, changing what bits I could and keeping my mind on everything else that I wanted to be different.

Some things I have never been able to change, and it has not been for the want of trying! But my mind never lets go of the idea of my perfect life. My Shangri-La.

Again, nothing changes. Same old hopes, dreams, and frustrations.

I know what I want, but something stops me from doing anything about it. So what the hell is it?

I have always resisted new things, but usually, have the courage to do what is necessary. But this time, what I want is seems selfish and will upset a lot of people.

Is it worth it?

Will I regret it?

Do I still want to do it anyway?

We have to stop putting up with things, out of duty, guilt, pity- or simply the dislike of change.

We have to recognise what we no longer need. They say if you haven’t used something for a year, you no longer need it, so throw it away. (and that can apply to anything)

Start with little things and build up to the big stuff. Somewhere along the way, you will get braver. (Hopefully)

Mark bad days on the calendar and at the end of the month count them. Were there more bad days than good? If there is, something needs to be done and soon.

There are more bad days than I would like on my own calendar, but not as many as there once were. For not only have I changed a lot over the last few years, but my acceptance levels are also different too. I no longer yearn for what is obviously impractical and that has a lot to do with my advancing years. They say that youth is wasted on the young and I guess that’s right. I sure as hell wasted a lot of mine, but what is done takes a lot of undoing…

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Can You Write a Synopsis?

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I was looking for interesting pictures to get some inspiration for my book cover when I came across the one you see above. I think it is absolutely stunning!

Always been a big fan of cats, any cats, even the wild ferocious ones, and I think this is because they fill me with envy. They are so independently proud and free, always doing exactly what they want to do and nothing else. And we love them for it! No one ever really owns a cat. It’s probably the other way around!

Speaking about my book, I came up with an amazing idea the other day. I still have days when I am chock full of doubts and misgivings about my ability to create something that other people would want to read. And this is after writing three books!

Book number four is giving me a lot of trouble, mainly I think because my characters are not bossing me around as they normally do. The plot is a mess, and I have a sneaky feeling the POV slips a bit here and there. After almost a week of wanting to throw it away, I have managed to find a little inspiration. After all, I was an editor/proof-reader first and a good one by all accounts. And before you all rush to tell me, I know that doesn’t automatically mean  I can write anything of note myself.

I got to thinking about Anita’s books and the synopsis that each one had to have when we first started out. (An outline or summary was and still is essential if you are targeting mainstream publishers)

Creating a full two-page synopsis is very difficult, believe me, but with a lot of effort and perseverance, I managed to get quite good at it. Thing is, you normally think of a synopsis after you have written the book. At least, that is how we did it back then. It was quite a cathartic thing to do, for you knew if you had the material to make a good synopsis, the book was probably pretty good too.

So I got to thinking. What if I did a synopsis first? I already had some kind of outline in my head, even though I was convinced it had more holes in it than a string vest.
I put on my most businesslike, determined face and had a go. Several hours later a fully-fledged synopsis was born. And I liked it. Trying to mastermind the structure of my book that was still mainly in my head was enlightening, to say the least. My editor’s head took over and I was forced to confront all the weak points. (and some non-existent points too) Ideas came galloping in from the ether and I ended up feeling very optimistic about the whole thing.

So if you are filling up with self-doubt as I was, try to make a synopsis out of your ideas. You can connect with your own editor head and impress the socks off him. It worked for me and now I can move forward and stop procrastinating!

©JayeMarie