Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie

Two determined authors, bulletproof and dangerous…


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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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Is there First Aid for Everything?

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From the archives 2013
I had a go at using the dice, as I talked about last week, to decide which food mixer to buy. It was supposed to be a simple thing – odd numbers for one, even numbers for the other but for some reason it didn’t work.  I just didn’t like either one and it was back to the drawing board.

Sometime later I decided to spend the same amount of money on updating my ‘Dragon’. Now most of you will know I am referring to the best voice recognition software on the market. I have used it for years and it has helped me a lot. When Anita is writing up a storm, it can be incredibly hard to keep up with her and  do everything else I need to do. Talking to my PC is a wonderful way to put thousands of words on the screen, and the more you do it the cleverer  it gets! Now both of us are writing I need even more help, plus typing is getting more and more difficult for these old fingers, not to mention the eyesight!

So I have been toying with the idea of getting a digital recorder, so I don’t even have to be in the same room as my PC. Somehow this idea was triggered by the traumatic realisation that my PC might have a problem. (I didn’t really get the connection either!) I went to turn it on  and nothing happened. Talk about panic stations!

The problem seemed to be the on-off switch on the stack, so I am bypassing that part thereby allowing said PC to go into sleep mode all by itself. This seems to work, although I suppose it will have to be fixed sooner or later, so I’m afraid the food mixer will have to wait. I’m too busy to do much cooking anyway, which is a shame. (but something has to go, right?)
I have since discovered that parts of Hampshire (where I live) were also having some kind of PC malfunction that day too, that forced some airports to stop planes taking off. I am not about to turn my PC off to see if it works now but I wonder if there was some kind of connection?

I can’t believe I’m  72. How on earth did that happen? I certainly don’t feel that old,  at least I didn’t until my hip started complaining recently. I don’t like getting pain for no particular reason, and usually know only too well why my knees, elbows or back hurt. If I have just spent the day in the garden, digging,  mowing the lawn or clipping the 40 foot hedge, I know I’m going to be in trouble the next day and I am never wrong!

But just lately my hip has been complaining like hell and I don’t know why. Doctor doesn’t think it’s  my hip but the sacroiliac joint. (whatever that is) Something about wear and tear and that I will have to live with it. Unfortunately the strong pain pills he gave me made me very giddy, so it looks like I really will have to live with it!

I find myself checking the age whenever I read about someone dying, checking whether I have beaten them (or not!)  What does that say about me? But I have always cherished the thought that I could go on forever, but maybe that is not a good idea after all and perhaps I will change my mind. Why on earth would you want to if you can’t move around much any more?
Plus, I have a sneaky feeling that it’s all going to be down hill from here.

 

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On a lighter note, I am reading Val Poore’s book  ‘How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics’ at the moment, and it is like a welcome burst of fresh air. Just when I needed to get away from PC malfunctions, pain, and the eternal to-do list!
I started to read and suddenly the whole world shifted. It is pure unadulterated fun and you read with a smile on your face,  punctuated by a laugh a minute.

The adventure that Maisie, the main character is hell bent on having a go at, is something I have always wanted to do. Just to be given a list of all the possibilities she has always dreamed off would be a dream come true!
Is it possible that this story is autobiographical? It certainly reads like it.
Thank you Valerie for transporting me to the Elysium Fields of glorious writing!

Amazon Link for Valeries book:   https://amazon.co.uk/Breed-Sheep-Geese-English-Eccentrics-ebook/dp/B00DX7OVH0

 

 

 


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You Never Know…

 

 

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(The tree of souls, from the film Avatar…)

I never knew this blog would turn out to be a very important part of my little writing kingdom, when I first decided to see if I could create one. Everyone said at the time that as the blog improved, so would I.

That you must treat it like a child, feed it and nourish it, even learn to love it, and it will make you a better writer, if not a better person.
What it has given me is confidence.

It has also provided some much needed discipline, for although it is only a ‘blog’ it is governed by the same rules as any other writing. The content should be the very best you can do, none of that ‘oh, that will do’ attitude.

I have learned far more about writing since creating this blog and reading other people’s.
Those who haven’t tried it don’t have a clue and tend to dismiss them as harmless time wasting.
That could not be further from the truth.
People will not fall over themselves to read what you write, whether it is a letter, blog or full-length novel unless you are well known and/or famous. You have to create a written magnet, one that will attract attention. One that people will love to discover and keep coming back to.

In the years I have been building this blog, I have discovered many such magnets and they are as good as reading a book. My day would not be complete without these ‘mini reads’!
I have always been of the opinion that if you want to learn how to do something, study those who have already learned and succeeded, for you will discover that they have risen to the challenge and not been found wanting. Some of them will even tell you the right way to go about it!

This is how I learned to cook, knit, wallpaper a wall and even change the carburettor in an old Triumph car. Not to mention all my craft projects. My theory is, if someone made it in the first place you can have a go too. It’s not really rocket science, but the important thing to remember is the quality of your achievement. None of my first attempts were any good, but if you are stubborn like me, it helps a lot and eventually you will manage something you are happy with.
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The little tree in this photograph was my rendition of the ‘Tree of Souls’ from the film Avatar. It took a month to make and involved thousands of tiny pearl beads!

Despite all my other interests, I have always wanted to be a writer. I enjoyed English at school and ideas for stories have surfaced from time to time over the years, but overall I was much too busy trying to live my life without too much heartache, and failing miserably.

But I am retired now and the misery has moved on. I can finally find out if I am any good as a writer. (or not!)
And this blog (and others like it) will be my benchmark.
I have now self-published two mystery thriller books, and editing the third. Reasonably happy with my progress, although to be honest, I never expected it to be so hard. Not the writing you understand, but everything else you have to do has added years to my life!

My sister Anita has really gone up in my admiration; she must be a genius, for she has completed six really good novels. But then she does have  a brilliant editor (me!)

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One Step at a Time!

I took myself to one side and had a serious talk after my last post, and after much soul searching, I realised the current state of my head was caused by cramming too many things inside it, most of them completely unreasonable and beyond my control. It was time to take a long hard look at my workload and come to some sort of understanding. It was at this point that I remembered the serenity prayer . . .

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There are more verses to this prayer, written by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) but the first verse should be indelibly written on the inside of my skull. I am usually the most patient person on the planet, but due to an unfortunate combination of circumstances, I must have decided to forget that detail.

After that miserable post, everyone has been so supportive, and all their messages were the same. I have to take a step back even for one day, in order to regroup and concentrate on the do-able, as opposed to the impossible.

Even though patience is my strong point, I know I have been slowly falling under the spell of doing far too much and expecting miracles. I always expect to stumble upon a magical doorway where everything miraculously works or happens yesterday, and when this fails to happen, I get depressed. Against my better judgement of course, but what can you do when you want need to succeed?

Therefore, I will stop shoving so many irons in the fire. Common-sense is telling me this is not the way to do anything.

I will concentrate on doing one thing at a time and see it through to the end, before moving on.

I will rearrange my schedule to include some ‘me’ time, for life is getting shorter by the minute, and as they say, we will always regret what we didn’t do . . .