#Throwback Thursday. Second Tries, or How to make the right decisions the first time?

 

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My brain must be like Emmental 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?

Now, I know that 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 using 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 the sequel to my fourth book 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 though, 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?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…

God Bless and see you all next week…

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Skating on Thin Ice!

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I have been playing hooky from the housework and my writing, and I don’t feel at all guilty. After the week I’ve just had, I deserve some time out.

How many of you know that the Winter Olympics are going on somewhere in the world? Or that this includes ice skating?

I heard about it last weekend and resolved to try to catch some of it. Not that this easy to do, for they never show enough of it on UK channels. You have to track it down on these weird foreign sports channels and put up with some peculiar screening methods. But for me, a lifelong fan, any inconvenience is worth it for just 30 minutes viewing.

In my youth, I used to skate. First on roller skates and then ice skates. As I watched Yuzuru Hanyu, a brilliant young Japanese skater perform one of the best routines I have ever seen last night, I was transported right back to when I first ventured out onto the ice. I could feel again the distinctive chill that permeates through any amount of your clothing and the sound of the blades as they slice across the ice. Along with the terrifying knowledge that if you fall over, it will hurt.  A lot.

I was never very good at it, but in my heart, I would still like to be. The way I still want to be able to play the piano. These things, these desires have not diminished with age. They live inside me and somewhere in there, it feels as though I can actually do it.

Some professional skaters, in their search for excellence and faultless programmes, end up like robots, devoid of any style and character, and quite boring to watch.

But every now and then, one will rise above them, bringing joy to their devoted followers.

The young Japanese skater I was watching was absolutely brilliant, graceful, elegant, and so exciting to watch. The elation on his face when he came to the end of his programme was clear to see, along with his emotion at knowing he had surpassed everyone’s expectations, including his own.

There were tears in my eyes by then and also in his. It was as though we had shared the moment, and in a way, I suppose we had.

Next week, with a bit of luck, I will be watching the female skaters as they strive for perfection too…

 

You couldn’t Make it Up!

This week is turning out to be a nightmare…

Yesterday, my web browser crashed. For no apparent reason, or not one I was aware of anyway. And usual, the first I wanted to do, was run for the hills. I find it impossible to think straight when something like this happens, so these days I don’t even try. I calmly walked away… and found somewhere quiet to pull my hair out.

All joking aside, I kind of knew I had to find another browser, or revert back to good old Internet Explorer. That, of course, would depend on why the one I have had for years had suddenly given up the ghost. I didn’t really want all the hassle or find out something else was wrong or broken. So I did nothing and sulked for the rest of the evening.

Later, I googled the problem on my tablet and discovered other people had encountered this before, so I was blameless for once. It seemed the only option was to go with another browser and uninstall the offending article.

First thing this morning I chose Chrome, the Google browser. It made sense, for they run just about everything else on my computer, and within minutes they had taken over all my favourites and their log- in passwords. They automatically gave me my favourite homepage, something I usually have to do myself.  I was impressed by their speed and accuracy, so started the day a very happy bunny!

My subsequent good mood was not to last, however.

Just before lunch, I had cause to print some of my WIP, only to find yawning great gaps in the printing. This meant I had to spend time making the machine clean its own printing heads and nozzles. When I had finished, and successfully printed the material, my mood had jogged off and I didn’t want to do anything else. Just in case something blew up!

I spotted this infographic the other day. It perfectly sums up where I am at today, so thought I would share it with you…

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We are Thrilled to Bits!

Just had to tell the world about this wonderful review we have just received from Georgia Rose!

Georgia won a copy of A Midnight Clear on our Book Tour Quiz last month, and must have enjoyed the read, to post this on Amazon… You just have to read it!

 

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#bookreview for “A Midnight Clear” and other stories by Anita Dawes and Jaye Marie @jaydawes2 #shortstories #TuesdayBookBlog

Posted on February 13, 2018 by Georgia Rose

Don’t know if I am doing this right, but I think you can click on Georgia’s name to read the review. Or, you could click on this link :  www.georgiarosebooks.com/bookreview-midnight-clear-stories-anita-dawes-jaye-marie-jaydawes2-shortstories-tuesdaybookblog/

Sending huge thank you’s to Georgia for not only enjoying our stories, but telling everyone too!

 

Our Review of Tallis Steelyard and the Sedan Chair Caper by Jim Webster @JimWebster6

Today, we are hosting Jim Webster’s Book Tour, to spread the word about his newest story, Tallis Steelyard and the Sedan Chair Caper.

All of Jim’s stories are excellent reads, and this one is is absolutely hilarious and we urge everyone to read it. Not enough laughter in the world lately!

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Amazon Book Link:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-sedan-chair-caper-ebook/dp/B079K4LDBT/

Rather than his usual collection of anecdotes, this time Tallis presents us with one gripping adventure. A tale of adventure, duplicity and gentility. Why does an otherwise respectable lady have a pair of sedan chair bearers hidden in her spare bedroom? Why was the middle-aged usurer brandishing an axe? Can a gangster’s moll be accepted into polite society? Answer these questions and more as Tallis Steelyard ventures unwillingly into the seedy world of respectable ladies who love of sedan chair racing.

Our Review

I discovered that the sedan chair was named after the town of Sedan in France where it was first used. It came to London in 1634 and became a popular means of transport, as they were so much faster than carriages. It was literally a chair in a box, supported on two long poles and carried by two men.

Although I knew what they were, I had never heard of Sedan chair racing, so was eager to read more about it. What I discovered in this book was hilarious although extremely dangerous and was once considered to be illegal, which was just enough notoriety to encourage the sport.

Tallis Steelyard, a poet in residence, is employed to oversee the fun and games at the grand party thrown by the mastermind behind these races. A complicated plot has been developed to fix the race, guaranteeing a win, so Tallis will have his work cut out.

Tallis is to ensure the evening a success by keeping an eye on the drinking and behaviour of the staff and guests alike. As is the way with the best-laid plans and all that, this old-fashioned story with its quaint words and customs will not only take you back in time to another way of life, it will have you holding your sides with laughter. The scenes involving the frogs still had me in stitches…

 

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Lady Edan’s Fan

Crisanto was the member of Madam Jeen Snellflort’s gentlemen adventurers who drew as his task the acquisition of Lady Edan’s Fan. The lady had inherited the fan from an estimated twelve generations of her foremothers. The fan itself was made from ornately carved wooden ribs, set with semi-precious stones, joined by a web of finely woven cloth of silk interwoven with gold thread. It had been an antique when it fell into the rapacious hands of Lady Edan’s family; indeed it was one of the few surviving pieces produced for the court of the Kings of Partann. They then handed them out as ‘gifts’ to the barbarous warlords on the periphery of their kingdom.

The lady always had the fan with her at formal balls, the rest of the time it was kept securely in the family vault. At formal affairs, when the fan was, as we might say, deployed, the lady was always accompanied by two of the family men-at-arms who stood behind her and kept their hands firmly on their sword hilts. Still Crisanto, our intrepid hero fixed on the next Harvest Ball as his best opportunity.

Crisanto was a slightly built young man, habitually neat about his person and the son of an apothecary. His family had given him a good basic education and from a child he’d helped his parents in their small Ropewalk shop. Although perfectly aware of where he had come from, he aimed to achieve more. He normally adopted an air of casual insouciance; even somebody commenting peevishly on the frayed state of his shirt cuffs was not allowed worry him. He would merely sigh and comment that, “Janners has obviously been picking my shirts from the pile to be given to the gardener. His eyesight is failing.”

Faced with the challenge he turned his back on his affected persona and decided instead to play to his advantages. After some thought he decided on his plan of action. A week before the ball, this gentleman adventurer, closely shaved and dressed in some of his sister’s cast off clothing, applied for a job serving in the Grand Sinecurists Dining Room. The interviewers were impressed by his (or her) courtesy, his knowledge of etiquette, and his natural grace and modesty. He was given the job and for the next seven days he, or should it be she, was considered to be a useful member of the staff. He was a quiet girl, kept himself to himself but went out of his way to be helpful. Because of his personable manner it was decided that on the night of the harvest ball his job would be to circulate through the guests with a tray of nibbles.

At home that evening he made some delicate little tart cases out of pastry. Instead of placing jam in the cases before cooking, he substituted syrup of his own devising. His syrup was produced by slowly boiling the fruit of the kilin tree. He kept skimming off the fruit and reduced the liquid considerably. Finally he disguised the flavour by dissolving sugar into the syrup and caramelising it. Kilin berries have been regarded for years as one of our more useful stimulant laxatives, and the dose in each tart was enough to loosen the bowls of an Urlan destrier.

On the evening of the harvest ball, he carried two small trays, one covered with a napkin. The first tray contained little bowls of salted, honey roasted, woodlice for people to nibble on. The second tray, covered with the napkin, held the little tarts he had made himself. He passed through the crowd, proffering the bowls of woodlice to guests. As Crisanto came upon Lady Edan and her guards, he smoothly swapped the napkin across to cover the woodlice and with a sweet smile she, or he, offered her tarts first to Lady Edan, who politely took one. The great lady, fanning herself, nibbled graciously on the tart and enjoyed it. Not merely that, she recommended them to her bodyguards. Each took one, and then our hero, [or at this point was he our heroine? I confess to a degree of confusion.] with a roguish wink, tempted them all into taking a second.

This done she faded away, once more covered the tarts with the napkin and continued circulating with the woodlice, watching her prey carefully and waiting for the stomach cramps to hit. The timing was critical, if it took too long for the laxative to act the Lady would be sitting at table and Crisanto could be too far away from her to put the second part of his plan into operation. But if he had made the laxative too strong, the impact could be explosive and his victim might not make it across the room, never mind to a suitable privy.
His woodlice all taken, Crisanto had to dash to the kitchen to get more. He surreptitiously lost his remaining tarts amongst several trays of similar nibbles and returned to the fray with new trays and continued to keep an increasingly nervous eye on his victims.

Twenty minutes later one of the body guards grasped his guts with both hands and precipitously fled. Seconds later the other followed him. Crisanto placed her trays down on a side table and moved quietly to join Lady Edan. This worthy, almost bent double, was most thankful when a charming young maid led her swiftly to a suitable facility. Lady Edan, her mind on other things, thrust into the maid’s waiting hands anything that would encumber her; fan, handbag, pince nez, wire framed ball gown, before collapsing through the door and kicking it shut after her.

The maid left the lady’s effects carefully folded on a chair, the ball gown she stood up in a corner, and then calmly made her way downstairs and out into the street with the fan concealed down the front of her blouse.

Later that night an ecstatic collector was clutching the fan to his bosom, and Madam Jeen Snellflort (plus a discreet escort) made her way home carrying enough cash to buy a small farm. That small farm, donated to the sanatorium by an anonymous giver, provided the institution with a modest but steady income.

Biography

Jim Webster is probably fifty-something, his tastes in music are eclectic, and his dress sense is rarely discussed in polite society. In spite of this, he has a wife and three daughters.
He has managed to make a living from a mixture of agriculture, consultancy, and freelance writing. Previously he has restricted himself to writing about agricultural and rural issues but including enough Ancient Military history to maintain his own sanity. But seemingly he has felt it necessary to branch out into writing SF and fantasy novels.
He lives in South Cumbria.

He has even been cozened into writing a blog, available for perusal by the discerning (or indeed by the less than discerning) at http://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/