“What have you done lately, to make you feel proud…?”

Identify Your Target Audience…

We are often told we have to do this, being the one sure way of actually ‘making it’ or getting to that most cherished of places, the successful author.

I have lost track of how many articles and blog posts I have read since we started.

We are constantly told that a writing career TAKES A LOT OF WORK and I don’t know about you, but there simply isn’t enough hours in my day to do much more. So the question is this, are we doing the right things in the first place?

Who exactly are your Ideal Readers?

I have thought long and hard about this one. This is the person you should be concentrating on, and building a relationship with. And this is where I am very confused. Surely, most of the people we interact with, are authors just like us, not necessarily readers?

But when you think about it, we are all readers. Some more than others, but I wouldn’t mind betting that how much we read is relevant to how far we go in our respective careers.

Hold on a minute…

Think of all the big names, the very successful authors. You don’t see many of them on Facebook or Twitter, do you? Might that suggest there is another way, or are they simply discarded when not needed anymore?

Are our priorities in the right order?

No matter what some of us do, we don’t seem to make much progress, if any at all. Something seems to be holding us back, and it cannot be the lack of trying. So, back to the original question…

Are we doing the right things?

Being eager to learn, we read and digest all the advice, and implement it (as best we can manage, anyway) and arrive at a point where we cannot possibly squeeze one more thing into our schedules. Even then, we have a sneaky feeling that either some aspects are not being fully utilised, or we have missed the mark completely.

However, we are doing better than we did a year ago, so must be on the right track at least. So, although we ARE doing better, some areas need more thought.

You have probably gathered that this post is trying to teach me something, but if you found it interesting (or not) please leave a comment. They always that say two heads are better than one.

Time to Step Back…

I took myself to one side and had a serious talk with myself, 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 those details.

Everyone has been so supportive, and all their messages to me and my predicament were the same. I must take a step back and soon, 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 am going to stop shoving so many irons in the fire. Common-sense is telling me this is not the way to do anything.

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

I am also going to 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. There will be another post soon, where I tell you about my plans. Plans that have nothing to do with writing, the internet or our ambitions. Well, maybe not directly, anyway…

 

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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When a dirty blue car mows Maggie down outside her local supermarket, she becomes trapped in the nightmare world of a coma patient.
In this very different world, she manages to rescue an abused and neglected child. But when it looks as though she will finally wake up, she cannot bear the thought of leaving the child behind.
But is this other world real, or was she just dreaming? And if it is real, can she help this child?

“Maggie is a likeable character who is easy to engage with and I found myself willing her to find the courage to embrace happiness. If you like a story that is more than just your average romance then I thoroughly recommend this one…” Amazon Reviewer

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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…

 

Runaway Train…

 

 

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Image by Pixabay.com

 

 

Runaway Train

Someone once said, “Stop the world, I want to get off…”

The other day that sounded like a very good idea.

I didn’t think I could ever be that defeatist. All I need, I think is a slightly slower train.

Have you ever wished that you could leap off the train that is rushing you towards oblivion?

I have… so many times.

Better to be moving, if only slowly, than stranded by the wayside, I thought.

But I was wrong.

I continued trying to keep up, watching life thunder past me, while kidding myself that if I stuck at it for long enough, I had to reach a few glory moments.

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

The only thing I learned, is that unless you change something, a detail here, a method there, nothing will change. Patience has almost been my downfall.

I kept telling myself that I would catch up, I would manage to squeeze more work in if I just kept going and hoped for the best.

 

Of course, nothing has changed. I spend my time checking emails, posting and checking social media. On the rare occasion I sit down and open my WIP, my brain refuses to work. Inspiration has deserted me and it was not a pleasant feeling.

Trying to write interesting posts has become almost impossible, so I started cheating.

Old posts were dug up and dusted off, but this didn’t help my mood. Depression nibbled at my heels.

 

This mood continued, slowly spreading into other areas of my life. I told myself it was okay if I didn’t keep up the maintenance of my beloved bonsai. They were closing down for the winter anyway and didn’t really need me.

Housework had been sliding, but I cheated there too. If I didn’t wear my glasses around the house, I couldn’t see the grime accumulating.

Then the nibbling on my heels turned into a gnawing and I knew I had been kidding myself for long enough.

It was time to stop hoping for the best.

Time to pull up my socks and get cracking.

Time to change my routine, find one that works and the time to do it in.

There are so many ideas in my head, so many things I have yet to do. I am not ready to slow down yet, so I must learn how to work on a speeding train.

I have a book to finish for a start…

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All My Balls in the air…

 

This year is nearly over and has been one of the slowest ever.  The jobs are piling up, and my to-do list has never been this long before.

Under normal circumstances, this would not be a problem, but certain conditions are conspiring to slow me down. Whether it is due to a slowly growing cataract or not, my brain is beginning to tire easily, requiring me to break up the amount of time I spend at my PC.

I have been trying to arrange my working day to minimise the tiredness and still manage to be productive, but another aspect has decided to rear its ugly head. My memory always had its share of holes, but nowadays it has more holes than a colander. I can forget things faster than you can blink. So despite all my safeguards, it is beginning to look as though my days are numbered. But what does this really mean? Just how many computing days do I have left?

I am now 74, (although I swear certain parts of me are older), and have no intention of hanging up my mouse or my pencil, but it seems fate might have other ideas. All I am hoping for is the ability to take my foot off the gas pedal now and then. So I might not be posting as often, even though it really hurts me to say it. I have a feeling there might not be any new adventures in my marketing attempts either as I find it hard enough keeping what balls I have already in the air.

I started this post last week, and that was pretty much how I was feeling then…

Fast forward to today… Gallons of determination have arrived from somewhere, making everything look so much better than they did before.

All the routine stuff, e-mails, marketing, and social networking, is being done quickly and efficiently, well I think it is, and that’s what matters, isn’t it? My brain is happy, and if I could just get my muscles, bones, and eyesight to buck their ideas up, I’ll be good to go and laughing my socks off!

 

 

 

The Ten-Minute Rule…

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I have been blogging now for nearly five years, and the amount of data I have had to learn has simply astounded me.

In the beginning, I was incredible stubborn, still can be should the need arise. However, just lately, probably due to old age and some minor health issues, I have discovered that there is an end to my patience. This came as one hell of a shock, for I assumed my patience was infinite. It always had been, so why not now?

The last few years have been difficult, and this is me still downplaying the enormity of it. Discovering I had cancer was like being hit by a truck, one that kept coming back to do it all over again.

But it has gone now, and I am still having troubling believing how incredibly lucky I was. I thought life would just pick up from where I left it, and it has, sort of. I really don’t feel any different, no lasting ill effects. The small aches from the radiotherapy are fading, so where has all my get up and go gone?

It is still down to me to run the blogs and promote our books, as Anita and computers do not and will never get on. She helps with the posts and general ideas, and brainstorming is her speciality. She can take ‘what if’ to an entirely different level, and even though she tries to understand the finer points of marketing and promotion, I am basically on my own.

I know how to do most of it, so not exactly up a creek without the proverbial paddle, but there are still a few things on my to do list.

This is where The Ten Minute Rule comes in.

I have decided that in the future, when presented with something I want to learn, I will try to grasp the principles for about ten minutes. If my brain screams at me and  I fail, I will walk away and forget about it. (That’s the hard part!)  I may relent and try again on another occasion, but the same rule applies.

For I have decided that with the best will in the world, there are some things I will never be able to do, even if I bash my head against the wall for ever. The frustration of these things removes me from the joy of writing, something that remains so important to me. I will keep trying to learn new things, for being stubborn is another one of my blessings, and I do want to reach new heights competency.

But… something has to give… and I need my brain for a bit longer yet!

A Father’s Day Wish…

 

 

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Growing up, I was told repeatedly that my father played the piano like a professional, describing the joy he felt and how he managed to transmit his joy to anyone who heard him.

I have the abiding image of him in his army uniform, huge boots beating the floor in time with the music. Unfortunately, I never met him, as he was lost in the war when I was a baby, but I wish so much that I had.

I have been told that I am just like him. He was tall and liked to build and mend things, always good with his hands with unending patience. Sounds just like me!

The one thing I didn’t get was his talent on the piano. I know it is inside me somewhere, for I can feel it and sometimes the feeling is so strong, I think I could sit down at a piano and miraculously start playing. But with the best will in the world, I can’t, and is one of the strongest regrets in my life.

Music has always been my passion and my inspiration, and some of my favourite pieces are piano concertos. I still wish I could learn how to play, even now, at 72 years old.

I did try to learn when I was younger. I learned how to read music and could play simple tunes with my right hand. But my brain drew the line at both hands on the keys, refusing to let my right hand play the different notes. I am one of those people they say couldn’t walk and chew gum, and I suppose I am. That party game where you try to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time is impossible for me. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Just try it and see how hard it is.

In my life, I have encountered many things I wanted to learn but had to walk away from, much to my disappointment. My ego has been subjected to so much frustration during my life, and even though I eventually have to give up on things, the desire remains.

I have always insisted that you should be able to learn anything, given the right instruction and determination. However, I have discovered it isn’t possible, and have had to admit defeat on so many occasions.

I am sorry that I never met my father, but sadder still that I cannot play the piano as he did.

I am sorry dad, I did try…

Where I find Courage…

Whenever I am down or feeling one of many shades of blue, I usually need a piece of music to get my soul moving again. I have had many favourites over the years, both songs and instrumental, but this piece has kept me going now for years.

I defy anyone listening to it, to ignore the challenge it presents. The challenge to rise above yourself and take wing is overpowering and always fixes all my broken bits.

So today, on this special day of resurrection, I pass on to you my gift of a moment I will remember forever…

 

The worst of times…

 

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Looking back to a week from hell…

When my desktop PC died and went to the shop to be resurrected, I proceeded to have, in some respects, the worst six days ever.
I haven’t had my laptop long and getting used to it was proving to be very difficult. Windows 8, I think, could send a saint mad and I’m no saint. But it was all I had so I had to buckle down and make the best of a bad situation.

Well, six days have passed, my PC is back and normal service can be resumed, I hope!
Apparently, they had to strip all the components from the motherboard, test everything to find the fault and then reassemble. This complete overhaul, by a wonderful company called Syn-Star, cost just £49 all in, although I did pay a bit extra to jump the queue. (I didn’t think I could survive too long without it, you see.) and I think it was worth every penny.
The time I was without it was not wasted, as being forced to use the new laptop for just about everything, I have had a major crash course in Windows 8. Although I still loathe and detest it with a passion, I can at least work with it now.

 

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In the meantime, I have discovered that two of our books need new covers (what was I thinking?) One of these books is in entirely the wrong category on Amazon as it not really a horror. It should really be renamed as maybe the word ‘Bad’ is not entirely conducive either.
Also with all this going on, I haven’t done any work on my book, so will be playing catch-up for a while.

In the midst of all this drama and frustration, I have discovered something called ‘PicMonkey’ and what fun it is to use. Normally I create our covers on ‘Paint’ but it doesn’t have the scope of ‘PicMonkey’.
Hopefully I can learn to create more impressive covers in the future.

 

 

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While all this was going on, I did manage to get away from it all for a while and take a walk around our lake, where I spotted this nest of baby ducks. The swans are nesting again, so that’s something else to look forward to.

 

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My Resolutions…

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New Beginnings…

 

I have long thought that it was time I sorted out those parts of my office (and my life) that were getting out of control.

I am a compulsive hoarder, and hate to throw anything away as you never know when it could come in useful. Most of the time this is a good trait to have, for things have come in handy sometimes.

I have already made a start on my pictures library on the PC, as this was a serious mess. There was no system or organisation of any kind. What was I thinking of?

So when it is time to pack away the Christmas decorations, they will have to be ruthlessly sorted out too, as we buy new stuff every year but never seem to throw anything away.

We started out with one box and now there are three. There is absolutely no room for another box under the stairs, so something will have to go. It needs to be done, but I will hate it, for I know that at some time in the future, something I need will not be there.

For the want of a better word, downsizing has to be done sometimes with people and relationships too. But how can you hope to make any decisions about the people you have known for years? Throwing any of them away, figuratively speaking, will probably be the worst thing you have ever done, and may possibly haunt you for the rest of your life.

Knowing what to keep and what should be thrown away, is something I have never been any good at. The times I have had to empty the dustbin, trying to find something thrown away in error, not something you can do with a discarded relationship…

So this year will be one of streamlining my life and everything in it. That’s my goal, but whether I will be any better at this than anything else, remains to be seen.  I also need more space, more room to breathe, as 2016 was far too hectic and complicated for an old timer like me.

Time to grow old gracefully, I think!