Jaye’s Journal ~ week 15

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Are there days when you cannot cope with your chosen occupation?

I have had many jobs in my time and hated quite a few of them, but never thought I would ever feel less than love for writing.

Lately, I have been having days when things seem to be slipping, a digital carrying-on that can plague anyone who switches on a computer.

This week, I had more than one day like this. A fatal mixture of an old and feeble person trying to use an equally old and feeble computer.

The overall tone of the week surprised me, seeing as I had just typed those magic words at the end of my WIP, I should be happy or at least relieved, or optimistic reaching the end of what has turned out to be a fascinating if complicated story.

Secretly though, I knew why I wasn’t jumping around like an idiot. I am an idiot (most of the time), but that wasn’t the reason.

I was secretly terrified that, having written this unusual and complicated story, that I wasn’t competent enough to present it in the best possible light.

This is a story that I didn’t know much about initially, or how to write it. It has been one hell of a learning curve. The research alone took almost as long as writing it.

 

Something strange happened today.

I have recently changed the header image on our website, and that is what I expected to see when I logged on, but the picture I saw was not mine and one I had never seen before.

How was this even possible?

Also, the new header image had vanished. It wasn’t saved with all the other old headers, so whoever had changed it had run off with my new one.

Surely, this couldn’t happen, could it?

Perhaps it was a message from my muse, for I wasn’t happy with my choice, so maybe she wasn’t either…

watermark xjj

 

Jaye’s Journal… week 13

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Swings and Roundabouts…

 

I was watching Theresa May (the UK Prime Minister) this morning, and for the first time saw what looked suspiciously like signs of defeat. The normally serene and smart woman we are used to seeing looked tired and a little scruffy, as though she had been up all night. Which I suppose she might well have been, at this delicate stage of the Brexit negotiations. I got the definite impression that she is barely hanging on by her eyelashes.

I can identify with that state of affairs, for at 75 years old, with cataracts in both eyes and rampaging arthritis, I might be approaching the end of my rope too.

It has been a week of highs and lows, or swings and roundabouts if you prefer.

From a major disagreement with Microsoft, who thought I wasn’t me anymore and refused to accept several new passwords. They kept insisting I had to contact them on a mobile phone to resolve the problem. That was an even bigger problem for me, as I don’t have such a thing! But once I borrowed one, everything was okay again.

Then I finally managed to claim our website on Pinterest, something I had been trying to do all week.

I still don’t understand why any of this happened, or why using a mobile phone made Microsoft like me again, especially as it wasn’t mine, but that was the closest I want to get to HTML or all things SEO!

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The minute I feel life returning outside my window, it’s like a wake-up call for me to pull my socks up and get cracking. You never know, this could be the year when all things become possible.

Spring is finally here and the sun is shining, but it is very cold. I know this because I have ventured outside to check on the garden. I still call it a garden, even though I now need a machete to go very far! The grass has begun to grow, heralding the start of much fruitless pushing and shoving of my equally ancient lawn mower. Luckily, I think it can wait a while longer.

My Bonsai are all sprouting, cold or not, their winter sleep is over and it will soon be time to check their roots to see who needs a trim, fresh soil or a bigger pot. This is about all I am capable of these days, as I really cannot cope with the ever-present growth of brambles in my jungle of a garden. The last time I tried to tame them I had to retire wounded and bloody, so now they have my permission to run riot.

If I do get the urge to blitz them, I will get a flamethrower and do the job properly!

AAA (2)

 

Jaye’s Journal ~ Week 9

 

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This week the weather has been the least of our worries.

We were all too busy worrying about the imminent arrival of our new baby.

Tension had built to breaking point and all of our stress levels were on overload.

We knew the date he/she was expected to arrive, but it was beginning to look as though baby had other ideas. It became impossible to concentrate on anything else.

Somehow, the days passed but no work was being done. Nothing creative anyway. We busied ourselves with chores we could do with our eyes shut, trying so hard not to give voice to our concerns.

The day baby chose to arrive seemed surreal. Everyone seemed to be holding their breath, but finally, she was here. Perfectly beautiful and content to sleep through the constant stream of family members, all eager to see her.

The release of tension left me drained, and instead of picking up my WIP to resume editing, I wanted to run and shout, go somewhere or do something to replenish my mojo. It was a sunny day, the wind was chilly, but I didn’t care. I needed to be near the sea, as nothing else has ever soothed my soul like the ocean.

For once I didn’t get an argument and we piled into the car and took off. Half an hour later, I stood on the shingle. The tide was in and a strong wind was creating dramatic waves that crashed on to the beach. My eyes filled with tears at the sight and sound of it, and I relaxed for the first time in days.

I had my camera with me and tried to capture the majesty of the moment. The wind had turned icy, and by the time I had finished, my hands were almost blue with the cold. But my mojo felt as if it had been born again.

Altogether, a very special day if you ask me…

 

 

Jaye’s Journal x7

 

Jaye's Journal x12

 

It is the beginning of the week, the sun is shining and it seems warmer. Optimism had lifted its head and was smiling at me.

Then I heard a load of noise outside my house.

Close inspection from the front room window revealed a horde of workmen, clad in bright yellow reflective jackets. All busy moving heavy machinery and what seemed like miles of orange barriers right outside my front door. We would be drowning in noise at any minute.

They say there is no peace for the wicked, but I couldn’t possibly have been bad enough to warrant so many roadworks. This is the third time they have dug up the road outside my house!

Luckily, my office is at the back of the house, reducing the noise to an annoying buzz that I can almost ignore.

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As I make a conscious effort to slow down, I have discovered that I am actually noticing so much more these days. Before, in the daily struggle to get more done, I think I was starting to lose sight of the trees.

This week, while editing the first twelve chapters of PayBack, my WIP,  I found not one colossal error but two.

The first stopped me my tracks. How many times had I been going over these chapters? I had already rewritten and restructured them and yet I had my protagonist driving to work several times, and in the same chapters, he was catching a train!

Finding this mistake almost floored me, but I tackled it and moved on.

The next error I found was a plot hole. Not a very big one, but a hole nonetheless.

 

When I edit, I keep a running storyboard, listing events as they happen. This is so important in a mystery thriller novel and usually avoids plot holes. For the first time ever, my system had let me down.

I decided to edit these first chapters again after correcting the first mistake. My writing senses must have been working overtime, for I could feel something was missing. I kept checking my storyboard but it seemed okay.

I never like to ignore my brain when it tries to tell me something, so I decided to compile a new storyboard just for my protagonist (the detective), as I had a feeling this would be where I would find the problem.

And I discovered a missing chapter.

Now, whether this happened during the rewrite, I couldn’t say, but it looked pretty obvious to me that I will need a few good Beta readers when I have finished.

Therefore, I have an important message to anyone who loves reading mystery thrillers. If you could read PayBack for me sometime in March, I will love you forever!

watermark xjj

 

 

#Jaye’s Journal: November

 

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So many empty promises!

I have posted about e-mails before. About how rewarding, interesting and useful they are. However, just lately, something has been happening to them.

Something bad.

Something that is ruining not only my enjoyment but also possibly the future of communication, as we know it too. Most days I find informative articles and valuable information, all shared by fellow bloggers. Sometimes we meet new people who have just begun to blog, wanting to join our list of subscribers. Then there are all the people we discover who we want to follow. It is a huge worldwide social club, one that has taught me almost everything I know about blogging and social networking. Some of the best hours in my day are spent reading e-mails.

That is until this new menace started appearing. Every single one of them promising a gift, a prize or some other amazing offer. All the ones from the companies you don’t have dealings with are bad enough, but at least you know for sure you haven’t qualified for any of their offers. But what about the ones from the companies you do use?

It can be quite disconcerting to read that your favourite store has singled you out (as a valued customer) for a huge discount or some other prize. Hard not to click on that one!

They are all bogus claims, trying to get you to click to register your claim, and once you do, you open the door for any malware they have at their disposal. I can no longer tell the real from the bogus, so I ignore them all. And every day there seems to be more and more.

I often wonder how many people are fooled and taken in by these claims, only to have their systems corrupted or worse.

Hopefully, this menace will die a natural death, but I know what will happen. These people will come up with yet more ways to wreak havoc, as it’s what they do. I just wish they would leave my e-mails alone!

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#Jaye’sJournal: 17~22 September

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A very good week.

It had to happen I suppose, after weeks of struggle and getting precisely nowhere, things are looking up!

Not only do we seem to be more productive, it is reflected in our stats for everything else has improved too.

We feel better in ourselves and have more enthusiasm than a cartload of monkeys.

My work in progress is progressing in leaps and bounds and almost writing itself. Anita’s pen is smoking hot, so it’s not just me.

And all those depressing thoughts about the upcoming editing of PayBack have taken a hike too, and I am actually looking forward to it! Even the weather is being nice!

No problems whatsoever with any of the equipment, thank the Lord!

Nothing radical has happened or changed, so why has life done a U-turn?

It’s as if someone has slipped me a pair of rose-tinted spectacles, for everything I see looks so much better than before.

(I just hope this isn’t the calm before the storm…)

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P.S:  Our list of followers has been stuck on 997 for weeks now, and we would love to hit the 10000 mark!  Would there be three people out there, feeling generous this morning, just to make this week perfect?

 

#Jaye’s Journal 9 – 15 July

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Last week was such a frustrating time for me, as the end of my rope seemed to be getting ever closer.

The backache didn’t want to leave me, fluctuating between good and bad days that I swear would try the patience of a saint. This is something I have never professed to be, so maybe I had it coming. I was to blame for it in the first place, lifting all those couches, so I must take the punishment without moaning.

Despite the pain and frustration, I approached the WIP, only to find an alien pile of scribblings that looked only vaguely familiar. I read the last chapter but nothing occurred to me, no clear direction, nothing. I went back even further, with the same results. My heart sank to the floor as it was beginning to look as though I would have to start again.

At this point, my brain nearly went crazy. I wanted to cry, scream, or leave the building and couldn’t make up my mind which. Fortunately, I have a running storyboard of sorts, with a tenuous thread running to the end, something I have not done before, so I studied it, desperately seeking inspiration.

But my brain wouldn’t budge.

By now, I was beginning to feel as though I had lost whatever writing ability I thought I had, along with my muse. Not that she has ever been a great help to me, more the opposite really. She can argue the hind legs off a donkey and can always find at least three reasons why something won’t work, so I’m not missing her half as much as the contents of my brain.

Right in the middle of all this frustration, the PC started crashing and buffering, something it has been doing a lot of lately. I normally wait patiently until it gets its act together, but after two horrendous days of not being able to get even the simplest of tasks done, I made a decision.

Firefox would have to go. It had crashed on me for the last time.

I downloaded Chrome with my fingers crossed, but so far, it has been fine. Now all I have to do is find out where my writing mind has buggered off to!

 

#Jaye’s Journal 2-8 July

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I didn’t think I would have anything worth writing about this week, what with the unbearably hot weather. I hate to be too hot so my temper has been fighting my depression all week, and I’m still not sure who is winning.

It is too hot to do anything much, so any housework and gardening is out of the question. I have given some of the more delicate plants a drink of water, mindful of the approaching hosepipe ban. My bonsai are all right, as they have their very own rainwater butt. It is getting a bit low, so I hope it rains soon!

Everywhere I look the grass is dying, turning into pale crunchy straw almost overnight. The sight of all the devastation made me sad when I popped into town yesterday.

The high spot of the week was Tuesday when I had confirmation that recent tests show I am cancer free for the third year running. Right then I knew that it wouldn’t matter if nothing else happened this week, as I had just had the best news in the world!

In remarkably good spirits, I finished re-editing Anita’s book Secrets and we have finally agreed on a brand new cover. Now all I have to do is make all the changes across the board. On Amazon, Lulu, our website, Goodreads and everywhere else, which for the moment escape me.

The one low spot in my brilliant week.

Right in the middle of a very productive writing session, my pc seemed to freeze. I immediately thought the worst. Firefox has been having an almost daily wobble, crashing and everything, which I sincerely hope is their problem and not mine, but faced with a dead machine, I thought it might be all over bar the shouting.

On investigation, however, I discovered that the mouse had died.

I have had this mouse for years and never gave a thought of it dying on me.

Luckily, I had a spare wireless mouse in the drawer, and once I realised I actually had to change the battery and switch it on, I was back in business!

#Jaye’s Journal

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Subtle changes have slowly made themselves known during the last few days. The haze of pain and frustration has thinned, just enough for me to see a dim light at the end of the tunnel.

At first, I thought it had to be my imagination. I had been in pain for so long; I couldn’t believe it might be leaving me at last.

Blood tests have confirmed that my kidney infection has finally gone, but the jury is still out as to whether it had anything to do with my back. I am just grateful that the dreadful pain seems to be dying a natural death, and I can return to normal.

Which means cooking will be resumed, (huge sigh of relief from family) along with some light housework (maybe) So many things have languished, waiting for me to take up my bed and walk!

For me, the worst aspect of all of this is that no writing has been done in the last three weeks. The WIP has gathered dust, and the plot seems to have dissolved, melted away somewhere.

I tried not to let this state of affairs get me down; after all, my brain was better than that, wasn’t it? At least I sincerely hoped it was.

Then, completely unexpectedly, my muse tapped me on the shoulder, eager to get back to work. She even had some good points to include and brilliant ones at that, so I am eager to get back to work!

I always write first thing in the mornings and that is when the back is weakest, and although it will feel strange at first, I am looking forward to it!

With this newfound confidence and mind-set, I turned my attention to something I have long wanted to do and had been thinking about for a while. I have been making do with flat images of our book covers, but always wanted to learn how to make 3D images. You know, where the books actually look like books.

I had seen a website that assured me that not only was it easy to do (yeah, right!) but they could walk me through the system in no time at all.

Well, I didn’t need any more encouragement than that, did I?

To cut a very long story short, (it took two days ) but, determined as ever (and it felt good to feel like that again) I persevered, with several screens open in front of me, and earphones plugged in to constantly recap the instructions, I finally managed to create nine beautiful book images.

And here is one I made earlier…

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I used Pixlr, Gimp, and this amazing video on YouTube,   I could try to explain what I did, but to be honest; the lovely fellow on the video will do it much better than I ever could.

All I can say is this. I am the biggest technophobe in the world and if I managed it, anyone can….

So, I am feeling pretty pleased with myself now, still a little uncomfortable, but very hopeful for a full recovery!

(and very grateful for all your good wishes…)

JAYE’S JOURNAL 18TH ~ 24TH June

 

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I haven’t been writing in my journal this week as I don’t have anything of interest to tell you about.

My life is wall-to-wall pain at the moment, and I am sick to my back teeth with the whole subject. I am not good with waiting, especially when it hurts, but have nearly finished the second course of antibiotics. Several bottles of my blood are winging their way to be tested, which might mean there could be good news coming my way soon.

I have learned one thing this week though. Writers should never get ill because our imaginations will try to kill us off in numerous ways. Fresh out of optimism, I have imagined countless ways in which I will stagger from this mortal coil and none of them are pleasant or even remotely romantic.

Deep down, somewhere the truth has receded to, are the memories of every test I have ever had, and the fact that almost all of them came back negative. Even when they weren’t, so this is probably my default setting!

I have always been a disgustingly healthy person, but also someone who has occasionally test driven emergency scenarios, probably for the benefit of the medical profession. It would seem that equally occasionally, I have to suffer for no damn reason too, with unexplained pain and symptoms. All of which eventually fade away, leaving no reason or explanation.

This time though, as I said before, I have a sneaky feeling they won’t be fading away any time soon. I mean, at my age I must have run out of lives by now.

The worst part about this week, all the above notwithstanding, is my lack of progress on just about everything. The memory of my WIP has receded into the distance, accompanied by the suspicion that I won’t be able to finish it. I am somehow managing to cope with the daily routine stuff, so maybe everything else is on a temporary hiatus?

I have tried very hard to encourage the grey matter to kick into action, but it’s not listening to me. Maybe the constant stream of paracetamol is affecting my muse, for she isn’t listening to me either…

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