A Christmas Wish…

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Writing your first novel is like giving birth to multiple children.

Very painful. Each one pushing and shoving, write about me, tell my story.

They follow wherever you go, even the toilet is not safe and sleep is something you get if you are lucky…

So you write it… good or bad… it’s the only way to get any peace!

But unlike the child you took care of for the first eighteen years or so, you shove this one out into the world the minute it is done, into a  stranger’s hands who you hope will like each new character. With any luck, they may even write a few words about it. Something like “well done…loved every word…I will leave two or three stars…good luck with your next one.”

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, and great success in the New Year!

Anita

 

Anita is right you know – make someone’s Christmas with a few kind words on Amazon… A review is the best gift for an author at any time!

Too Many Irons…

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Have you ever had the feeling that you have bitten off more than you can chew?

Well, right now I seem to have a mouthful!

I have just finished re-editing my first book, Nine Lives. This was after making the mistake of actually opening the book and reading a few pages. After I got over the shock of seeing how bad it was, I realised it needs either a major new edit or bin it. That wasn’t really an option, so I spent a couple of weeks going over it with a fine-toothed comb.

It now has a brand new cover and is republished on Amazon.

I have to finish the formatting for the paperback version, then I will have restored the status quo for this book at least. I will be repeating this process for my other two books, for they might need an overhaul too!

At the same time, I have been busy editing our holiday memoir, Lazy Days, getting it ready for publication. We wanted to enter it with Kindlescout but they don’t accept novellas.

If you remember, we entered in 2015 with Let it Go….. and I thought it did well. It didn’t win, but I enjoyed the exciting process!

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Now, what else have we been doing?

Oh yes, we have announced a book tour for Lazy Days in January 2018. The 8th to the 12th, if anyone wants to take part!

We will be taking part in Lizzie Chantree’s book tour in January for Ninja School Mum, and I am reviewing Sacha Black’s book Keepers for Rosie Ambers review team.

Seriously thinking of making some new book trailers too and I have been trying to make sense of my writing/ blogging bible. Over the years, so much information has been added, changed or deleted; it’s a bit of a mess. So I bought myself a new book to transcribe all the valuable stuff into. This undertaking might be the straw that breaks this camel’s back as I can’t make sense of my scribble. Why on earth did I let get it into such a mess in the first place?

What else?

Oh yes, we are planning a massive promotion for Anita’s book, Let it Go, starting with a Kindle promo next week. For some reason, we have neglected this book and this won’t do at all. So you have been warned!

 

Although we are very busy at the moment, I haven’t been able to do much work on PayBack, my new WIP, and not happy about that at all. But I am discovering that there is only so much you can get an ageing brain to cope with, unfortunately.

It occurs to me that doing one thing at a time sounds like a better idea, but how can you, when there is so much you want to do?

Remembering…

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This is the time of year when I remember my father, thinking of what could have been if the second World War hadn’t taken him from me.

I pay tribute to the man who gave me my height, my patience, my creative streak and my weird sense of humour all the time, but especially on Remembrance Sunday.

I know all of these things about him because people have told me what he was like. How he looked and sounded when he sat at the piano, belting out popular ragtime melodies.

They laugh when they tell me how funny he looked, stomping out the beat in his huge army boots.

I have lived all my life with these images, but have no way of knowing if they are true because I never met him. He didn’t return from the war and never met me.

I like to think that my life would have been so much better if he had come home, for my mother never got over losing him.

People say I shouldn’t feel sad for someone I didn’t know, but in a way, I do know him. He is a part of me and it certainly feels as though I knew him well. As well as I know myself.

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I wrote a post last year about these ice soldiers, and you can read it here.

 

When we moved to Hampshire, one of the first things I wanted to do was visit the coast. Something I have done many times since, but on that very first time, we walked past the D-day Museum on the seafront. There was a huge tank outside and this bronze statue of the Unknown Soldier. As I studied the soldier, something about his posture and bearing had me imagining that this is what my father would have looked like.

To me, my father is the Unknown Soldier, and I like to think I will get to meet him, one of these days…

Progress Report! (Or how I learned to love my work again!)

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BABY STEPS!

 

I have been an editor/proof-reader for years and always considered myself reasonably good at my job. I never had any complaints, which is my benchmark for how good you really are. In fact, several Literary Agents complimented me on the quality of our submissions.

English was always my favourite subject and I read a lot of books, but never once considered being a writer. I was far too busy managing Anita’s books, back in the day when manuscripts had to be submitted to agents and publishers in a very particular fashion.

Over the years, we received stacks of very encouraging and favourable letters from both agents and publishers alike, almost leading to publication a couple of times but sadly, despite almost being good enough, Anita was never published.

This might have been why I didn’t think of being a writer, after all, I knew, better than most, just how bloody hard it was. But eventually, my muse arrived. This was just after the Kindle phenomena took off. Suddenly, everyone could publish their books on Amazon, and it was supposed to be so easy, anyone could do it.

I have to say, in fairness to all the wonderful writers out there, I did find it very hard to write a full-length book. 70.000 words seemed an impossible target, and I doubted my capabilities every step of the way. That first book taught me so much about plot and dialogue, character arcs and subplots, even though it made my head spin. The day I finished The Ninth Life, a sense of achievement crept over me as I realised I had become a writer!

That was in 2014, and I went on to write two more thrillers after that. Most of you will know the fun I have had finding the right covers for my books, but I didn’t worry about the content at all. After all, I checked them for spelling errors and I had my editor head on, so they had to be fine.

Or so I thought.

What happened to make me doubt myself?

I have recently written a memoir/novella about my fight with breast cancer and published it on Amazon. It received one review that commented on how short it was, and when I took a long hard look at it, I had to agree. Not only was it far too short, it could be a lot better. That was when I knew I would have to check my other books too.

I read The Ninth Life again last month and was shocked at the state of it. Where was all the brilliant writing, the competent editor, the jaw-dropping prose? To say I was disappointed would be putting it mildly, I wanted to crawl away and die. For nearly a week, I battled with unpublishing my books and throwing them away, for the thought of rewriting them seemed an impossible task.

Gradually, common sense prevailed. They were my babies, I was an editor, I could fix this.

One thought kept me going. If I can now recognise the faults in my writing, does that mean I have improved over the years? I am pretty sure I have, for I am looking at my work with a totally different mindset. Most of what I see is amateur, almost childish. There were so many repeated and wimpy words and adverbs by the bucket load. It probably would have been easier to scrap them and start afresh, but I am nothing if not stubborn, so I will improve all three books, or die trying! They might be the only thing I leave this world to remember me by!

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The Ninth Life is now called Nine Lives. It has been thoroughly edited to within an inch of its life AND has two new covers. What it needs now, is some fresh eyes to see if it passes muster, and while you’re at it, please tell me which cover you prefer?  

Are there a couple of beta readers out there, who like reading mystery thrillers?

Pistols at Dawn!

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I was alone in my office, head down, trying to catch up on the editing for Lazy Days, when I became aware of someone watching me from the doorway.

I looked up to find DI David Snow, Kate’s Snowman, standing there looking very fit and well. His retirement/holiday had done him the world of good.

“Hi, Jaye…”

The sound of his voice sliding over my name caused the usual flutter in my stomach, something I was delighted hadn’t changed a bit. “Hi to you too…what are you doing here? I thought you had retired or something.”

“No, I know that was your plan, but I had other ideas.”

I really should ask him in, make him sit down, but that could wait. I was enjoying the view far too much. I could tell he had something else on his mind, so I pushed aside the editing and reluctantly indicated the empty chair beside me.

Before he lowered himself slowly to the chair, someone else arrived and my heart sank when I realised it was my newest character, DS Mallory Davis. He had the lead role in my WIP Payback and was as different a character to David Snow as chalk from cheese. Undeniably sexy, though.

I must have looked surprised, maybe even a bit annoyed, for he began to apologise. “I can always come back later if you’re busy…”

Before I could speak, David turned to face him and invited him to stay. “What I have to say involves you too, so it’s just as well you’ve turned up.”

The atmosphere and testosterone levels in my office had reached dangerous levels, raising the hairs on the back of my neck. This was every author’s nightmare.

They were both looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to say something. In an effort to at least look as though I was in charge, I offered coffee, mainly to give me some thinking time.

“No, we won’t, if you don’t mind. This isn’t a social visit. What I have to say will probably cause you both trouble, but I have to get it off my chest.”

As I listened to David, it occurred to me that Mallory knew all about this, whatever it was. How was that even possible? Knowing I wasn’t going to like any of it, I asked, “Sounds like you both want something, so you had better just tell me.”

David began to speak, quietly and seriously about my WIP Payback. How it should have been his story. That he was my detective and the story was rightfully his.

Mallory listened patiently, his face giving nothing away, but I had the feeling he didn’t like what he was hearing. When David finished speaking, he stood up and walked around the room, and I was reminded again of a tiger stalking his prey. “Payback was never meant to be for you, David. It is a new concept with younger characters…”

David didn’t miss the emphasis on the word ‘younger’ and promptly stood up too. Both men circled around each other, making my office seem smaller by the minute.

I had a decision to make, and quickly before the situation got out of hand. The problem was even bigger than I first thought. Although I loved David, I couldn’t allow him to commandeer the lead in Payback. I had invested a lot of time and emotion creating Mallory, determined he would be a completely different character to David.

Before I could speak, David turned to Mallory. “I don’t mean that you should be deleted. I could never wish that on anyone. It’s just that I don’t want to be retired… and you…” turning to me, “have the power to do something about it!”

I had missed writing about David, but I was enjoying writing about Mallory. There had to be a solution that worked for all of us… and I had to come up with one fast.

Both men were watching me intently and it was important that my next words were the right ones. Thinking on my feet, I took a deep breath and ordered the pair of them to sit down.

“Right… Payback is Mallory’s story, and I will not change that. But there will be a new Snowman story. Not because you demand it David, but because I want to write it.”

I knew David would be the one to ask the question.

“When?”

I had my answer ready. “Give me a hand with the plot and I’ll write both stories in tandem. Should be fun, don’t you think?”

After they both left, I realised that I hadn’t actually solved anything… just made my life even more complicated, if that was possible. It might be fun, though…

 

 

 

What Breaks your Brain? Or have you managed to avoid Insanity and Love the Internet?

 

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Fractured…

 

 

Some of you may be familiar with most of the trouble I have had since I began to organise our writing career on the Internet. It is probably simple for all you single people out there, but as soon as you are a partnership, trouble arrives big time!

Not that we could ever separate our writing business, not even to make our lives any easier. It is all far too complicated, but it works for us though, so that’s good.

We tried having separate websites, so as not to overcomplicate everything, but as we share a PC, this didn’t seem to work. Plus it was twice the work. So we reverted back to having a joint website on Blogger.  Still managed to confuse half the population, including ourselves, but all our links seemed to be working. But it still didn’t feel right, so I approached WordPress and discovered that we could actually share a website. How very civilised.

I have since managed to share Anita’s Facebook too.

Goodreads almost cater for the two of us, and we have our own pages, but only one of us can have our blog showing.

There are still a few places that refuse to understand, that although we share a PC, we do still have separate email addresses and passwords. I won’t name and shame, but they have driven me mad for the last time and I have resigned myself to sharing these awkward sites under Anita’s email address.

It goes without saying, that if I had known this marketing and promotion lark was so complicated, I might have had second thoughts, but on the whole, it has been interesting, and dare I say it, fun? The fact that I am almost certifiable is unimportant, as I think you have to be barking mad to approach a computer in the first place!

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When I saw these lovely fractured pictures the other day, I was fascinated, probably because half the time, my brain is in pieces too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…