Help Needed!

I am having trouble making decisions today, so I thought I would ask for some help.

I’m not happy with the cover on my novella, Apple Blossom. The story of fighting my way through Cancer. The one I chose seems to be totally the wrong colour.

But what do you think?

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Original Cover

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New Cover?

 

Thanking you all in advance!  If this gets to be a habit, I may call upon you more often!

Voices in Your Head?

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My first book, The Ninth Life 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 The Ninth Life

… 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…

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Time to Think Again!

 

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A new week starts, a time when my enthusiasm usually renews itself, but there is a noticeable lack of ‘get up and go’. It was more like, ‘get your arse moving and see what you can muddle through this week!’

Last month’s USB failure, resulting in the loss of three weeks work, has left a sour taste in my soul, leading me to wonder if I should even be doing any of this promotional stuff. I have ended up juggling so many balls; I am in danger of losing sight of the original dream, consumed as I am with the need to find that one magic ingredient that will make it all worthwhile.

It is always possible that I am not destined for greatness, and I am happy to realise that. Relieved, actually, but that will not stop me from trying my best, and improving my work. (At the time of writing, I plan to re-edit my books and update the covers, blurbs and keywords. I have been having a long hard look and not entirely happy with what I see!)

Little by little, I think I am beginning to lose my edge, the ability to juggle everything and still keep my balance. I seem to recall that this has happened to me before, a long time ago. I was in a relationship, and as long as I obeyed the rules and performed as instructed, I was grudgingly allowed to breathe.

Of course, the day eventually came when I needed more than that when I was tired of the constant struggle to be the person that was required. This wasn’t the first time I escaped from tyranny and it wouldn’t be my last, but eventually, I found a better way to live.

My present struggle is beginning to feel the same, and the need to escape is growing again. This presents a problem, for I don’t want to run away from most of it. I have to find a compromise, a way to keep our options open and the dream alive. I have to stop trying everything and anything, looking for the golden goose, who, for all I know, gave up laying eggs a long time ago…

Out of the Blue!

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Saturday is the day when I try to catch up on all those annoying jobs that have been nagging at me all week.

Top of the list, was the so-called patch of grass laughing called ‘the lawn’. All the rain we have been having lately has made it grow long, almost too long for my old faithful mower. The grass was still a bit wet, but if I didn’t try to cut it today, it would only get worse.

I could have left it until later in the day, but something told me to do it now. It was hard going, and the mower complained bitterly, constantly jamming up with wedges of sodden grass. This job usually took me just ten minutes from start to finish, but today it took nearly an hour, but it was done. Anita helped to rake up the clumps, and then we went back in doors for a well-earned cuppa.

Twenty minutes later, it began to rain.

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Raining doesn’t really describe what happened next. It started to thunder down, looking more like sleet than rain. That was when the hailstones began, gradually covering the ground. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing, not in the middle of September.

This went on for nearly half an hour, creating a deep pile of hailstones that took a while to melt.

Is this any indication of the kind of weather we have coming?

And what about Autumn? My favourite season had better turn up next, but I have to admit it is cold enough already…

Once Upon a Time…

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This post was triggered by one I read recently by Sacha Black.

https://sachablack.co.uk/2017/07/24/5-tips-to-write-more-in-less-time–mondaysblogs/

It got me to thinking rather deeply about the writing process  and what we are prepared to do or give up in order to do it. This turned out to be quite revealing for me …

 

I never thought I would ever say this, but I have begun to realise something important lately. In my determination and busyness, some of the magic seems to have vanished. My writing has not become the be all and end all of my whole life after all. This came as a massive shock.

Don’t get me wrong,  I won’t stop writing, couldn’t if I wanted to, but a spark of creativity in one of the crafts I used to enjoy, has been calling me back and I realise now how much I have missed it.

There was nothing for it but to rearrange my schedule yet again to make room for it.

Maybe it has something to do with that old adage “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy…” and looking back at the last three years, this would appear to be the case. I think I have turned into a very dull person.

I have almost driven myself into the ground, trying first one thing and then another in my quest to be a successful writer/blogger. So many things have been left behind in the process, but I have had a lot of fun along the way, meeting so many wonderful people. But I had a long hard look at myself the other day and realised that I was becoming exhausted… almost burned out. Added to all of that, is the knowledge that time is slowly running away from me, and I should at least try to be happy.

The spark that has re awakened in me gleams silently in the corner of my mind, waiting patiently for me to pick it up where I left off. Suddenly my mind is full of new possibilities, new ideas, as if I had never gone away from it. This spark is somehow connected to my soul and is the one thing that usually takes me to a calmer, more peaceful world. I know that connecting to this world again will reflect on the rest of my life, for I was in danger of forgetting who I really am and what I can achieve once I am grounded again.

In the beginning, I thought sacrificing everything else was necessary in order to focus on the main objective, which was becoming a successful author, but now it would seem that I have to make room for this spark or there is no point to any of it.

 

Editing ‘Lazy Days’…

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My learning curve has taken a bit of a battering lately.

I have always been painfully aware that I have a lot to learn, and that my non-fiction writing could be missing that special element that would lift it from good to being brilliant.

It was to this end that I posted a request for beta readers for Lazy Days to try to steer me in the right direction. Although I only received one offer, it turned out to be the right one for me. All of my shortcomings were described in detail, along with helpful advice as to the best way to remedy them.

As I said, Lazy Days is non-fiction and not something I have had much experience with, but I was beginning to suspect that some of my failings might be affecting my fiction work too.

Briefly, I expect my readers to have a crystal ball, as I tend to leave out far too much detail. In my defence, I think this might have something to do with long years of being an editor, writing endless synopsis, but hardly a good enough excuse really. We are constantly being told to ‘show and not tell’ and I don’t think I do either most of the time.

I have just finished the first post beta edit and nearly doubled the word count, which kinda proves the point. An improvement, but I know I have barely touched the surface.

I also know that I have my crime thriller books to edit, once I master Lazy Days.

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This post is also a call for more beta readers for our Writers Group Inky Fingers, for although I am still trying to improve my own writing, I want to help other writers too. So if there are more writers like me out there, come and be a member of Inky Fingers and let’s share our knowledge!

The Cruellest Blow!

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Yesterday, fate dealt me a nasty blow, literally knocking me for six. My stomach hit the floor with such a thump, I swear they heard it miles away.

I had finished some routine paperwork and wanted to work on my WIP, Lazy Days, so I slid the relevant USB (I call them sticks) into the port and tried to open the file. The message was chillingly clear. “Unable to open File”.

Undeterred, I tried again, knowing these things can happen and it would be fine this time.

Only it wasn’t.

I investigated further, unable to believe what I was seeing. Of all the 30 files on this USB, the one I wanted was apparently corrupt and gone forever. Weeks of work on Lazy Days had just gone up in a virtual puff of smoke.

I didn’t know what to do, or if there was anything I could do. I checked everywhere I could think of, but I had no other copy. I don’t usually back up a WIP, which I had just discovered was a grave mistake. There is usually a copy saved by Word, but this turned out to be corrupt too.

I was torn between wanting to howl like a dog, losing my considerable temper or just sobbing my heart out. It was only the stubborn thought that there just had to be a copy somewhere, that kept me from losing it, big time.

Then I remembered something. I had sent copies to our beta readers.  Would I be able to retrieve a copy from one of their emails? Turns out, I could, but all the work I had done since then would have to be done again. What made it worse, I think, is that I was so close to finishing Lazy Days.

The lesson I learned was an important one.  I think this happened because I was getting a little complacent with my USB’s. I have quite a lot of them, and they are invaluable for backing up everything we do. They are so simple to use and hold a vast amount of data.

I hadn’t been treating them with the respect they deserve. Sometimes I would just remove them without going through the procedure. Nothing bad ever happened when I did, so I assumed (wrongly) that it didn’t matter. But apparently, this is the major cause of USB failure.

I guess I won’t be doing that again!