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 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…

 

 

Upside Down?

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Yesterday I did a very stupid thing. I had been playing one of my favourite computer games, but the exit button refused to close it down when it was time for me to move on to more productive things. To close it, I had to press CTRL+ALT+DELETE.

This is what I thought I did, but as I watched the screen, everything literally turned upside down! Not only couldn’t I believe my eyes, but my heart sank to the floor. What the hell had I done now, and was it even fixable?

I tried pressing the same combination of buttons, but nothing worked. I literally pressed everything sight, trying to goad my brain into some kind of solution, a long forgotten memory of how to extricate oneself from similar predicaments, but ten minutes later, I still had an upside down computer.

Undaunted, and this was another surprise but I digress, I decided to try System Restore. This is a wonderful way to get rid of mistaken downloads and other errors. The computer takes you back to a previous update point, usually the day before, so I thought it was worth a try. Using an upside down cursor was almost impossible, a bit like trying to cut your own hair while looking in a mirror.  After much trial and error, I managed it, although my eyes were crossed at the end.

As I sat and watched the computer doing its work, albeit upside down,  I got really angry with myself . Why was I so stupid?

(don’t all rush to tell me!)

But System Restore didn’t do a thing, everything was still upside down. Frustration arrived and grabbed me by the throat. The feeling of sheer helplessness  was doing nothing at all for my peace of mind. What was I supposed to do now?

Gradually, my mind began to sift through different possibilities. I knew there had to be some of those in my head somewhere. Then I remembered that the last time I screwed up, I used my laptop to google for help. Not that I could remember what that was all about, but at least my brain had supplied me with the relevant facts.

Half an hour later, I had my answer and it was so simple I could have cried. All I had to do was press CTRL+ALT+ and the up arrow and my world turned up the right way! It was as simple as that!

Do you insist on Real, or settle for Fake?

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On those frequent occasions when my brain takes a hike and I am looking around my office for inspiration, I often find myself studying the items on my desk.

One of these is an artificial bonsai tree, although you have to look carefully to realise this. It is a white pine, brought from a specialist company called Bloom. They make the most amazing silk flowers and the occasional artificial tree, and the minute I saw it, I knew I had to treat myself.  It is stunningly life-like and beautifully made.

You wouldn’t think that a dyed in the wool bonsai enthusiast would give such a thing house room, but it appealed to me simply because it cannot die. It will always remain perfect no matter the weather, never lose it‘s leaves in the autumn, and I love it.

 

bonsai-2.JPGI cannot help but see the differences between this tree and the real ones just outside my window, and not just the obvious differences, like the time of the year. The makers have done their best, but the bark is just a little too smooth. There are no cracks or crevices in the bark for all the tiny spiders to live in, a necessary part of any healthy tree, for they control other nastier insects.

There is no living collection of mosses and lichen around the base of the trunk either, something all of my other trees have, and although this artificial tree keeps me company all through the year, when all the others are sleeping, their leaves just a memory, it cannot change my feelings for my babies.

The ones that are so old and have pride of place in my yard, and the ones that are still finding their way to maturity. Then there are the ones I grew from seed that may not ever amount to much in my lifetime, for it takes years to become an established bonsai. These are special to me, even if they don’t look quite right yet.

 

DSCF1043.JPGI think that growing anything, whether in a pot or in your garden, is a lot like writing. Until you know what you are doing, what you produce will be just a shadow of what it could be. And like a garden, your words need tender loving care too. Prune too hard, or badly, and there are a million ways to ruin what is fragile at best and the results will be disappointing…

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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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…

Paradise Lost…

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I have been obsessed with Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ for most of my adult life. Reading it, I must admit is a bit of a stretch, seeing as it is a poem and antiquated to boot. But the premise is what drew me to it, as I have long been convinced that all this devil stuff is mostly propaganda.

It has to be, don’t you think? After all, the devil was supposed to be an angel once. A very special angel if you ask me, for I don’t suppose they give the title ‘Bringer of Light’ to just any old angel.

In ‘Paradise Lost’ Satan describes his exile from heaven and his regrets in such a way that you do end up feeling sorry for him. At least I did and might be what gave me the inspiration for my first book, The Ninth Life and the slightly sinister voice that plagues Kate Devereau. I invented (I think) an entity that is supposed to advise and control us humans, mostly in devious and sometimes cruel ways. But as you read along you get to wonder if that is what he is really doing, as it seems his primary mission is to torment us and make us lose our way. We have always called it the ‘Cosmic Joker’ in our house, something to blame for all those infuriatingly unexplainable and annoying incidents that drive us all batty!
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I don’t feel as though I am in control of anything, even at my age.  But are we ever really in control of our lives? With so many rules and influencers, I suspect we are just pawns in one fantastic board game. There is something else going on, of that I am convinced, for we are allowed too many glimpses of it at work.

Our world is a beautiful place, a veritable paradise, but unless you leave the bubble that you live in, you will never see just how beautiful it is…

Hope this find everyone well, and I will see you next week…

 

A Writer’s Bucket List

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Like an ancient building, parts of me are wearing away, falling down or missing. My joints ache unbearably, and my head doesn’t work the way it used to. The eyesight is appalling and the memory almost non-existant.

I have been ignoring the signs for a while now, adopting the attitude of just ignore it, and it will go away… but try as I might, I cannot deny that I am getting old. Too old for so many things these days, but nothing I will ever admit to, not yet. If I want to do something, I will, even if it costs me later, as I can’t believe that my time is beginning to run out.

Already, certain members of my family are treating me like an ancient relic, constantly reminding me that ‘I have to be careful at my age…’  And that going up ladders or even walking into town on my own is just not on. In case something happens…

I catch them looking at me and know what they are thinking. I know I forget things and I’m not as steady on my feet these days, but seriously, I think I am fitter than most of them, even if it does take me longer to do things.

Secretly though, I quite like the slower pace, and the ready excuse (should I decide to use it) for not doing so much. In fact, I don’t remember saying no to so many things before, and I quite like it.

But before anything else gives up the ghost, I thought I would give some thought to some of the things I haven’t yet achieved. Not a proper bucket list, you understand, as riding a wild horse along the edge of the sea, or getting really close to Niagara Falls and getting soaked to the skin, is beyond even my dreams, this is purely connected to my writing and blogging endeavours.

My Writing Bucket List

Book trailers    Should do more of these, and/or improve the ones already done

Paperback copies of our books   Some of the covers/editing could be better?

My own blog tour   Could do another one?

Character Interviews   Could do more of these too

Guest posts   Always need more of these

Box set of my crime thriller series

Our own newsletter    A work-in-progress

A well-known author endorsement    Wishful thinking?

Write a best seller   More wishful thinking

Start a writing team    A work-in-progress

 

My memory lets me down again, as I’m sure there are more things I want to do, but you get the picture. And another thing… Anita is just two years younger than me, but not suffering from old age at all! Well, nothing she will admit to, anyway…

Oh well, I’m off to do some work on current WIP, that’s if I can remember where I was up to!