Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie

We Read – We Write – We Review


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The Importance of emails…

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Many posts are written about the importance of building your platform and having an interactive blog or website. And of course, you do need one of these, but that’s not all you need.

Managing your emails (and your mailing list) is one of the best ways of opening up channels of communication with so many like-minded people and keeping them open. I like to think of them as letters and look forward to seeing what is in my mailbox!

Clearing my emails every day has become something of an obsession with me, as I have mentioned before… but is the one thing I must do every single morning (and again in the evening if I have time)

I am constantly amazed by what I discover when I go through my emails. Today for instance, I learned a few tricks to cope with Windows 10. I joined a critique group and was invited to join another. I arranged a guest post; upgraded my broadband; and confirmed the last people on my forthcoming blog tour. Not to mention all the letters that are simply a joy to read! My email list is such a vast source of so many valuable instances.

I enjoy going through them all, reading and commenting, saving information and learning. Sometimes the day’s list is not so good, starting the day with so much frustration, but what can you do?

I find my emails far more valuable to me than Twitter or Facebook, although they do have their place in my working schedule. There are many different branches on this networking tree we build, but it helps to know the most important ones.

Even if my eyes are crossed after several hours of studying the list!


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Updating the Dream…

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I had a major epiphany yesterday. I had just posted yet another book promotion post on our blog and found myself disliking it intensely.

I have never liked the ‘hard sell’ and conveniently  usually forget to do any, but if you want people to read (and buy) your books, you are supposed to do it well and often. But it always seems to leave a sour taste in my mouth, and I realised just how much I hate doing it.

It seems ok to do it on Twitter, probably because it’s quick and you don’t have to pretty it up. But here on our blog, it just doesn’t look right, so we have decided to stop doing it.

Our new books will get a mention, of course, plus any good news, but the constant blanket promotion will stop and be replaced with more interesting posts, something you would rather read, I’m sure.

Personally, I don’t think you need to plug away at your books anyway. The covers and links are all there in the sidebar, all you have to do if you’re interested, is click on the image and you go straight through to Amazon.

The pressures and stress of promotion have been gradually eating away at our writing time, and I am never sure if I’m doing it right, or in the right places.  Which was another reason for my decision.

Gone are the days when I could spend hours playing games or surfing the web, I just can’t do it anymore. After four or five hours my eyesight goes for a walk, and the brain starts to seize up, and I have to walk away. So my time is limited, and I have to find ways to fit everything in. If there is a way, you can bet I will find it!

Anita is now an official reviewer with Rosie Amber, something we both love doing, and we have been doing some beta reading for some of our fellow bloggers/writers, which is reviewing really, just more in depth. We will be asking for help in this direction for ourselves soon!

Revision is finally finished on our non-fiction book Lazy Days, the long awaited transcription of the logbook of a 40-year-old family holiday on the Norfolk Broads. We might have a blog tour for this one after it gets beta read.

Work has begun in earnest on our joint WIP. This is another thriller, and it will eventually be terrific once I complete the outline for the story AND all the characters.

The weather was kind for a few days, so I managed to repot some of my smaller bonsai, and it was actually brilliant to get out of my office for a while…

 

 


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Ten Things I love Most in the World

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Ten Things I love Most in the World…

Mother Nature has been the number one love in my life for longer than I care to remember. My idea of heaven would be to live in a forest with a river nearby.

The way I feel about horses goes way beyond love. Sometimes I think I must have been a horse in a former life, from the strong and powerful connection I seem to have with them.

I have always been a bit of a freak for thunderstorms. The noise, barely contained power and the majesty of the lightning speaks to me in ways I cannot describe.

Whenever I have spare time, and even when I don’t, I have to track down a puzzle. It can be a jigsaw, a computer game, or a simple game of solitaire. My idea of heaven.

Something about the smell of the sea communicates directly with my soul, and I think I could easily live on a beach. They say that salt water is a good healer, so how much more could sea water do?

The art of bonsai has always fascinated me, and over the years, I have collected some of my own. Like having children, they need so much care and attention, but give back so much more to their carer.

My love of writing has grown out of my love for reading, and my appreciation of all my favourite authors. On the good days when I don’t doubt my abilities, it is the best thing in the world.

Most people hate the rain, but I love it. Getting soaked to the skin is an amazing experience, and if there is thunder and lightning too, so much the better!

Making people laugh has to be one of the most rewarding things you can do. I love to know I have lifted someone’s spirits just enough to make them laugh.

I never thought I would enjoy blogging as much as I do, when I first started two years ago. In the beginning, I was hopeless, didn’t have a clue and knew no one. So much has changed since then…

Ten Things I Hate Most in this World

Cruelty of any kind comes top of this list, for there is far too much of it in this world. It is just as easy to be kind.

Rudeness comes a close second, as I cannot understand the need for it. It closes too many doors that eventually will refuse to open again.

Arguments. Every time I get involved in one, I want to crawl away and die. Life is much too short to argue.

Hangnails are my least favourite thing, and I get some shockers. No matter how careful you are, your fingers get sore.

I hate the cold. As I get older, it’s becoming a real problem. Sometimes, even on a mild day, I have trouble keeping warm.

Things that go wrong. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and try very hard to get things right, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen, no matter what I do.

Computers. These should be on the top of this list, as they tend to drive me insane. They are illogical and unreasonable, but we know we cannot do without them.

Feeling helpless. Closely linked with number seven, this is what PC’s do to me. Nothing else on this planet can get me as mad as a computer.

Injustice. I hate all forms of injustice, acerbated by the certain knowledge there is nothing you can do about most of it.

Weakness. Mainly my own. So many things I wish I didn’t need to do, like the biscuits I cannot leave alone. How anyone can be so strong with everything else, but such a wimp when it comes to food is a mystery…

Would anyone like to share their likes and dislikes on our post? We would love to hear from you…

©2015 Jaye Marie


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Cover Trouble…

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We were looking at our website the other day, as you do… and it was decided that the small sliding show of all our book covers looked a bit puny. We decided to remove the offending article and reinstate our book covers down the sidebar, complete with clickable links to Amazon.
Should be easy, I thought. I had done it before and remembered how to do it. A little fiddly, but not too difficult. We have eleven books between us so it would take me a while.
I managed to upload four of the covers before the trouble started. The fifth cover uploaded okay, but somehow it removed cover number four. How was this even possible, I thought?
I tried again, and the same thing happened. I kept on trying, because I’m stubborn, but couldn’t get it to work. I swear something happens whenever I try to do the simplest of jobs but thought I would retreat and see what happens tomorrow, before I lost it completely.
The following day, it seemed worse, so I decided to have a word with WP ‘happiness engineers’, and it makes interesting reading!

Me: “I am trying to add some images to my sidebar, but they just don’t appear…is there a limit to how many images you can have?”

WP: “Hi there, let me take a look…”

WP: “Is this the site you’re referring to? https://jenanita01.com/”

Me: “Yes.” (we only have the one…)

WP: “And you are trying to customise it here, is that correct?” https://wordpress.com/customise/jenanita01.com

Me: “I get an image from media and then go to widgets and images, I fill in the boxes and save, but then they just vanish…”

WP: “I see that one of the images is not displaying. The URL appears to be incorrect.”

Me: “but I get the URL from the media screen…”

WP: “Is this the image?” https://jenanita01.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/nl-kindle-x1.jpg

Me: “That one was successful, so was the Simple cover, and Bad Moon. I would like to add more.”

WP: “I don’t think ‘The Ninth Life’ is added correctly. I don’t see it on your page. Do you see it at https://jenanita01.com/ ?”

Me: “Yes.”

WP: “I see a broken image, like this: https://cloudup.com/cLWUMnMMqRV

Me: “I don’t understand, it looks all right to me. Why am I having a problem adding new images? I just clicked on the previous link and the image is not there. This happened a lot yesterday too.”

WP: “You should be able to add more images. I’m unaware of a limit. I’m testing right now and don’t see any problems. Can you tell me the steps you’re going through when you have problems?”

Me: “Something is wrong. Images that do appear suddenly vanish and others won’t upload at all. I choose an image from media (haven’t I said this already?) then I go to widgets and image, add the URL from the media page, fill in the boxes and save. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it works but removes an image already there in the sidebar.”

WP: “Are you using the media browser at https://wordpress.com/media/jenanita01.com ?”

Me: “Yes.” (Slowly losing the will to live round about now…)

WP: “It’s important that you open the image and by selecting the image and clicking ‘Edit’. From the image editor, you can copy the URL (gosh I would never have thought of that…) Is this the process you follow?”

Me: (trying very hard to keep my patience and my sense of humour) “I don’t usually have to click on ‘edit’ as the URL is in the box already, so I just copy and paste. Is this wrong?”

WP: “The image for ‘The Last Life’ didn’t have the correct URL. You may need to change how you get the URL. This is how I get the correct URL: https://cloudup.com/clX8WY03S8V

Me: “That one didn’t upload at all. I will try this, and thank you for your help. Going now…”

WP: “Ok. If you have any more difficulty, we’re here to help. Have a great day!”

I love using these new ‘live chat’ thingies, so much better than an email, especially for a thick head like me. You see, not only do I hate technology (because I swear it hated me first) I have trouble understanding it too, even when someone tries to explain it to me. So having someone on the end of the line is usually better. I can keep asking the same question until something clicks into place.

I have to add, that WP is normally very helpful, often hitting the nail on the head when I have made a stupid mistake, so not exactly sure why it was different this time. But if anyone knows what I am doing wrong, or has a better way of explaining it, I am all ears!


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Imitation…

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Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? It is supposed to be, but I think not. Not the way most people do it, anyway.

I have always hated imitation of any kind, for it always seems to take something away from the original. Why do we need to have substitutions when we already have the original? Why can’t they leave well enough alone?

It doesn’t seem to matter where you go, whatever field you are interested in, there will always be someone trying to copy or improve something.

My pet hate is the remakes of all my favourite films. I watched the new (and supposedly improved) Ben Hur with my family, (it was either that or revising!) But even with all of today’s wonderful new technology, it wasn’t a patch on the original film with Charlton Heston.

I love to watch all kinds of people at work. Artists, sculptors, craftspeople, even plumbers and mechanics. I think this is because my nosy brain just wants to know how thinks work. My favourite programme at the moment is Artist of the Year and watching how all the different artists go about creating original and unique pieces of artwork.

What I cannot stand about these programmes, are the so-called experts who try to tell the artists that what they have done is wrong and how they should have done it. Sometimes the thoughtless and callous way they pull the work apart is so cruel it makes me cringe.

To my mind, no one has the right to condemn or criticise a work of art. Either you like it, or you don’t, but don’t presume to know better tan the artist.

As a writer, I subject my work to beta readers and editors so that errors can be pointed out and corrected. This is normally done in a constructive, helpful manner and not in a condescending “I know better” attitude.

Critics always sound so false, their remarks too self-serving and the damage they can do to any fledgeling artistic genius should carry a health warning.

I personally have had at least one scathing critique of my writing, one so bad I wanted to shred every page and then crawl away and hide in a cupboard.  When you realise that it is only an opinion and probably not meant to kill the tiny shoots of creativity in your soul that you can pick yourself up and move on.

I may not be a great writer or even a very good one, but I am trying my best. At the end of the day, that’s all we can ever do. But what we do produce, whether it is good, bad or indifferent, it is original and not some cocked up imitation…

(and before you all reach for your keyboard, I know I have just criticised quite a lot of people… my bad!)

 


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My Epiphany

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I have never once thought that blogging could be detrimental to your health, but just lately I have come to realise that it can be.

Surely not, I hear you say, and I will admit it doesn’t seem likely. Not on the surface, anyway.

I was nervous when I first started blogging. Could I get to grips with the technology involved? Would I be any good at it? Would anyone ever talk to me?

A million questions. All very natural when you embark on a new adventure. And although at times it has been a frustrating and difficult journey, overall I have enjoyed every single minute of it.

So what on earth am I on about?

This post was triggered by one of Sue Vincent’s haiku’s, (shown above with the link to her amazing blog.) for it really made me think about  how far I have come, and what the future may have in store for me.

Just lately, a strange alien feeling has been creeping in, insidiously, like wisps of smoke. The blogosphere is like a mirror, reflecting everything you and other bloggers do.  And as a good proportion of bloggers are writers, you get to see what their lives and careers are like.

It can be very reassuring if they are struggling just like you, facing the same problems and difficulties, but the successful ones are an inspiration, showing you what you can accomplish if you work hard.

I have been blogging for nearly three years now, and have met some amazing people. Helpful, considerate people, generous with their advice and friendship. You become part of their world, a world where anything is possible and you can afford the luxury of dreaming.

I can hear some of you tapping your fingernails, wondering where all of this is going, so I will try to explain.

Everyone says that with patience and hard work you can achieve your goals. But I have been patient and worked as hard as I can, but no nearer to anything even remotely like my goals.

And this was my epiphany… maybe my goals are wrong?

Something must be wrong for my enthusiasm seems to be dying. Optimism and faith seem to have left the building. There is something else going on at the moment, although I refuse to accept that it has anything to do with the price of eggs!

I have been thinking about the New Year, and it is clear that I must come up with some resolutions that work, before the men in white coats come to take me away!


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How do I hate Thee…?

(With apologies to William Shakespeare, but this rant is long overdue…)

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Sometimes I hate my PC and the internet so much I want to run screaming from the building and never stop. I used to blame my technical shortcomings, but I have since learned that it is all due to a conspiracy. A conspiracy designed to instil insanity in the population, and the last time I looked, it was working well enough on me.

“Make a fantastic book cover on Canva, it’s soooo easy a child can do it!”

“Free book trailers made easy!”

This might be true, if their sites didn’t slow down and/or freeze every two minutes. This is probably another conspiracy to make you pay out for the better versions. Either that or these sites see me coming!

“Don’t worry about passwords – log in with Facebook/twitter etc.”

Really? This would be great if it always worked and recognised you next time!

And my latest beef. I wanted to improve my email signature, but couldn’t find the place to do it. Everywhere I looked for help said the same thing, that the link was on the left side of the menu… only it wasn’t. Several people on Google told me that too, so who knows, maybe I am crazier than I thought!

And finally, I have to include all the things I successfully did yesterday. For some reason or other, they will not happen again today!

Most of you will know by now that I never give up without a fight, but I have to admit that I can see the day approaching when I will have to stop fighting. It is getting too hard for my advancing years, and I am getting really tired of getting nowhere fast.

I know I have learned a lot, and in a way, this only makes it worse, for my logical mind refuses to accept that I might not be able to go much further.

I find myself thinking about all the craft and artwork I used to have time for, and the call to return is getting stronger. Of course, all of this is probably academic, as one of these days, I won’t be physically capable of any of these things, and that is a day I am not looking forward to…

Even posting this, it took three tries before I managed to get the right images!

 

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On a lighter note, we have decided to gather up all those short stories that have been cluttering up our filing system, and publish the collection on Amazon.

Eleven very different stories from both myself and Anita, some funny,  some sad, but all worth reading.  Amazon Link:  myBook.to/Shstories

Can an ebook be a stocking filler?

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