Jaye’s Week…

This year, we are determined to put our writing house in order and try to do something new and vastly different.

Advertise!

We haven’t done this before, mainly because we couldn’t afford to, plus the not so small matter of not understanding the best way to do it.

But I have been reading up on the various ways of advertising, beginning with Amazon. Along the way, we have discovered so many things that should be in place before we even think of advertising!

  • Book covers must be brilliant and look professional.
  • Blurbs must be brilliant too, carefully worded to grab potential readers attention.
  • Content must be edited to within an inch of its life, and you need more than a working knowledge of keywords.
  • All books must be thoroughly and expertly edited!

I checked all our covers last week, and at least two need an upgrade. Bet you can guess which ones!

If you can’t afford to have your covers made by an expert, it can be challenging to come up with a keeper, but I am determined to try.

Blurbs have always been anathema for me, I try my best but cannot come up with anything I am happy with. At this rate, we will never get around to advertising!

I am determined to re-edit all our books and have enlisted the paid version of Grammarly for the job. Worth every penny, by the way, it finds all the errors in an efficient and friendly manner. I am always shocked to discover just how many!

All of this means I am neglecting the current WIP, but determination is calling the shots, and Anita is stepping up with posts of her own. Follow up posts will be posted on our progress and as many of the delights of advertising/marketing that I manage to discover!

Of course, we welcome any helpful comments on this subject…

Found these gorgeous flowers tucked away in a corner of our jungle!

Why Books & Bonsai ?

When we first started blogging nearly ten years ago, we had no clue as to the right or best way to go about it.

Looking around didn’t help like I thought it would, as there seemed to be a million ways to become a blogger.

What didn’t help either, was that I’m not computer literate, at least I wasn’t back then, so needed to find something simple that wouldn’t tax my poor old brain.

Many bloggers were using something called Blogger, so that is where we began our journey.

I found it relatively easy to use, but as time went on, I noticed a lack of traffic. This wouldn’t help with telling the world about our books, so I looked around to see what else I could manage and found WordPress.

The learning curve was a bit steep for me, but I liked the atmosphere and the possible connections. It was positively lively!

It cost a bit, too, but a small price to pay to finally get noticed.

Then there was a difference of opinion over what to call ourselves. We were not fans of the gimmicky labels, and as writers we were advised to use our names, basically so people can get to know us.

We noticed that most bloggers don’t do this. Their sites have proper names, like Myths of the Mirror, Daily Echo, Sun in Gemini, and Pensivity, to name but a few.

Eventually, after much thought and mucking about, we settled on a name that suits both of us. Books & Bonsai.

Books, because we both write, and Bonsai because I love my miniature trees almost as much as writing.  Of course, other subjects find their way onto our website, as our interests are not limited to books and trees!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our friends and followers. You really make it a joy to get up in the morning!

Jaye’s Week…

Which is better? To be mentally busy or actually getting your hands dirty?

Figuratively speaking. Of course, there are a few jobs to do that will involve a fair amount of grime.

Suddenly it seems, the catch-up list has grown out of all proportion. At least, it seems that way to me at the moment. Especially when this is the first time I am on my own in the help department. Of course, there have always been those jobs that have my name written all over them, usually because I am taller, stronger, and/or probably far more determined than is good for me at 77 years.

Yesterday afternoon, I attacked the garden. I thought I would get in first for a change, but even with a long-sleeved jacket, the lethal brambles managed to draw blood. Most of these are now in a pile awaiting removal. Revenge is sweet, even though my back is killing me!

Yesterday morning we had one of our brainstorming sessions. Anita isn’t strong enough to help with the catch-up list, but her mind is as sharp as ever, and she is keen to change our way of thinking when it comes to our writing. Some of our enthusiasm seems to have faded a little, which is not surprising, considering the past year. So, we have both agreed to work on novella-length fiction to introduce some excitement AND increase our output.  I can see the merit in this. I am still struggling to improve our blurbs, and one or two covers need replacing, but Books & Bonsai are all set for a lot more productivity!

I prefer to work in my office rather than anywhere else, which is probably why my gardening and housework enthusiasm is sadly lacking. There isn’t the time to get around to everything or the strength and energy to rattle through them. This year should be all about doing what makes us happy, and in our house, that means writing.

How about you?

Not all doom and brambles in our garden!

Jaye’s Week…

I started the week in good spirits despite having a roaring toothache.

There is so much I want to do, book and writing-wise. The bonsai are beginning to wake up, and the garden is still a jungle. Several jobs have been neglected around the house, but I am learning to move from room to room with my eyes averted!

Seriously though, I am beginning to wonder about my job description.

  • Head cook and bottle washer
  • Housekeeper and accounts clerk
  • Part-time carer and medication assistant
  • Full time writer/blogger/editor
  • Bonsai enthusiast and part-time gardener

DIY/decorator should be on this list, but I just can’t make myself do it.  Not sure how I can manage to fit everything in, but I must try. Even though I am aware of that old maxim, Jack of all Trades, master of none…

~~~~~~

The dentist assured me that there was no infection last week and that the aching hole in my gum would stop hurting very soon. I didn’t believe him then, and I wasn’t buying it now, for the pain is worse, accompanied by some severe throbbing. Made an appointment to see him on Thursday.

While I waited, I tried to find any trace of the creative spark in my head and failed, so I resigned to doing routine work on the computer. This wasn’t easy either, what with the pain in my mouth and the granddaddy of all headaches, but it was something.

After a speedy Xray, the dentist had to admit I had an infection. My swollen gum must have cinched it, and I toddled off home with some strong antibiotics.

A walk around the garden provided me with some lovely images to close with…

See you soon, hopefully with news of some progress!

Jaye’s Week…

ONE STEP FORWARD…

The past seven days have been one hell of a week. So many good moments, but the elephant in the room hasn’t gone far away.

  • Our marketing/business plan is finally taking shape. We feel optimistic about the future for the first time in years.
  • I have been signed off as cancer-free from the hospital. The last five years have seemed like an awfully long time.
  • I had to have a tooth removed, something I dreaded, for the last one had to be chopped out in four pieces! The new dentist turned out to be a genius, it was all over in five minutes!
  • The re-edit of SPB is going well, with a lot of help from the paid version of Grammarly. Amazing job!
  • We found out that our local garden centre is open, so we had to go. On one of the coldest days too, so not a good move…

AND TWO STEPS BACK…

  • It might be a long time before we are ready to start any serious marketing. There seems to be so much to do first!
  • I don’t feel so confident now I am supposed to be cancer-free. Supposing it’s just waiting to make a comeback?
  • Turns out that the new dentist has feet of clay after all. He managed to badly mangle my bottom lip, something I knew nothing about until the anaesthetic wore off. It is very sore and is stopping me from enjoying anything!
  • Right in the middle of editing, an error message turned up, halting the proceedings. Microsoft Office was apparently broken. I had to google the problem and then perform a repair. You couldn’t make it up, could you?
  • This one is not really a step back, but I did pick up some lovely seeds, some I have been meaning to grow for some time…

Cannot wait to start gardening!

Jaye’s Week…

I awoke one morning a few days ago, to find the world outside my window had turned white, but it wasn’t the snow we had been promised. A thick frost lay over everything and a mist crawled slowly along the ground like a predatory animal. A perfect picture postcard.

I was up early and had the house to myself.  I was feeling so much better this week, so I sat down at my desk to write. That was when I discovered that this part of my brain was refusing to function, and was as cold and empty as the scene outside my window…

We did finally get some snow.

I say some rather scathingly because although the signs were promising and the initial snowfall encouraging, it fizzled out and stopped far too soon, leaving meagre patches here and there.

The temperature fell to bone-chilling depths, increasing my daily trips down the garden to make sure our feathered visitors had enough to eat.

It was after one of these trips, as I sat at my window and watched these lively little creatures happy to feast on the seeds and fat balls hanging from my favourite tree, that I began to think about their lives. They were so incredibly small and delicate; how do they keep warm all night in the bitter cold?

Where do they sleep?

I felt the cold, in the safety of my home. Even with extra layers and thick warm socks. My mind was full of images of all those small, huddled scraps of feathers, spending each night roosting in a hedge while the temperature fell to the floor.

Worrying about them all was beginning to keep me awake at night, fearing the worst. However, the next morning, the same jolly crew appeared, unaffected by having survived one of the coldest nights for years.

They are just like us, each with a tiny heart and blood. Flesh and bone covered with an inadequate supply of feathers. We wouldn’t survive out there, so what supernatural force keeps them safe in conditions that would kill you or me?

Image by Wolfgang Zimmel from Pixabay

Jaye’s Week… Growing old Disgracefully…

I am not fond of the house we live in.

It is a vast improvement to where we lived before, and why we moved.

But…  life here is getting harder. The stairs are a struggle for my arthritic knees. It gets too hot in the summer because the insulation in the loft is ancient. We freeze in the winter because we only have a few ancient storage heaters.  Parking is another nightmare because we live on a busy and noisy main road!


Just lately, I am feeling an infinity with the place as it starts to show its age. Which leads me to wonder how much longer we can live here. I long to live near woods or water, preferably both…

Serious cracks are appearing on walls and ceilings, and ominous creaks follow me up and down the stairs, and not just from my knees!
The chimney stack on the roof is supported by steel bands, but chunks of brickwork rain down into our yard on a regular basis.
Doors swing closed all by themselves and the bathroom floor slopes like the Swiss alps.

This house was built in 1887, which makes it 134 years old. So, how old is too old for a domestic domicile?

I suppose there will come a time when the cost of repairs or renovation will become a bridge too far. A bit like me?

I take vitamins, fish oil, turmeric and as healthy a diet as I can manage, and attempt yoga every day, but am I doing any good? And when did I switch from being a silver surfer into a mouldy golden oldie?

How long before I get condemned, along with the house?




Jaye’s Week… Swings and Roundabouts

My brain needs a disciplinary, as I can no longer make it behave.

Mind you, it must be contagious, for my laptop and tablet are exhibiting similar tendencies.

I have just spent the best part of an hour, first with the laptop and then the tablet, trying to run through my emails from the comfort of my armchair.

The laptop was on a go-slow, so I switched to the tablet.

This annoying piece of crap had decided not to respond at all. Patience personified, I kept trying, only for the battery to drain away faster than a chocolate teapot. Something it shouldn’t have been able to do, seeing as it wasn’t actually doing anything.

I can feel the day coming when I will take a hammer to the both of them, as I am not sure how much longer my brain can cope with these insanity-inducing contraptions.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t aware of all the wonderful things they can do. When in a good mood, of course.

But I ask you, is it asking too much to have a piece of equipment that actually does what it says on the tin?

We wouldn’t stand for such substandard performance from any other electrical object, so for all that’s Holy, why do we put up with it?

The main desktop PC is not immune to such shenanigans, it’s just sneakier. Its favourite trick at the moment is ignoring whole sentences while I am busy typing them.

I get no warning, no sign that something has gone awry. The first I know about it is when I try to read the work back, only to find yawning great holes where parts of my story are missing.

I tell you, it is beginning to feel like a conspiracy…

On the bright side, and I do try to find this, even on grey days, nothing affects my pen and paper. Sometimes I am so glad that I can write, blissfully, as far away from technology as I can get. As happy as Larry, knowing that I am in total charge of the creative process.

So, to end on a much happier note, I have to report that the first draft of Swan Song, my WIP, is taking shape. I was slow to get cracking but it was good to get back in the saddle again…

© Jaye Marie 2020

#Jaye’s Week…

The Queue

I only managed to leave the house once this week and that was to collect urgent medication for Boots the chemist in the High Street.

It was a typical autumnal morning, bright but damp, with the smell of all the fallen leaves I enjoyed shuffling through as I walked.

There was not many people about due to lockdown, as most of the shops were shut, so I hoped there wouldn’t be a queue in Boots. They are short staffed, so even a small queue means standing in line for ages, something I don’t enjoy doing these days.

As I used my elbow to open the automatic doors, my heart sank when I saw three people already waiting. Sometimes you get lucky and people pick up their prescriptions without any complications.

The first person in the queue took forever and as I watched the next person walk up to the counter, I hoped it wouldn’t happen again, as my legs were feeling the strain already.

My heart soared just a little when it was the third persons turn.

Me next!

That’s when my luck ran out… and things became a little crazy.

There were now two people behind me in the queue. An elderly lady on crutches, who looked likely to collapse at any moment, and an equally elderly gentleman who was leaning heavily on a walking stick.

Even though I was in pain, I knew I would offer my place in the queue to the elderly lady, as there was no way I could take my turn ahead of her. As I watched, I also knew she needed to sit down on the chair over by the counter before she fell down.

She refused to sit down, worrying about losing her place, but I assured her I would make sure this didn’t happen.

What happened next turned into a comedy sketch with the elderly lady and gentleman taking it in turns to sit down while we waited. We were all wearing masks, so made a pretty picture as we all tried to help each other.

We all saw the funny side and chatted along like old friends.

And still we waited.

Eventually, the hold up was resolved and I insisted the old lady was next.

By then she had stopped protesting as I could see she was in real trouble.

Luckily, the story ended well, and we were all dealt with in record time…

© Jaye Marie 2020

#Jaye’s Week …

Anita came home from the hospital after having the pacemaker fitted with a digital monitor, something that will be plugged in next to her bed to record her heart activity while she sleeps. This amazing gadget is linked to the hospital and can alert them and us in the event of another heart attack. It will also record if it has been called upon to restart or shock Anita’s heart back to a normal rhythm.

Knowing what to do when or if this ever happens, is extremely complicated, so the next home visit from the heart failure nurse will be full of questions.

And speaking of questions, there seems to be far too many answers now, none of which are helping us to know what is really going on at any one time.

In fact, we are more confused than ever as each doctor/person we speak to, seems to have a different explanation of what’s going on.

Anita is progressing, albeit slowly and that’s what really counts, isn’t it?

Ten days later, Anita began to have trouble breathing again, so it was back to the hospital to have her checked out.

It all seemed like the worst kind of Déjà vu.

Before the pacemaker was fitted, Anita was getting on well, doing small jobs around the house and even walking to town almost every day.

This simple procedure seems to have sent her back to how she was in the beginning, something she is not happy about!

They were very thorough with their checks, and everything was deemed normal apart from the fluid in her lungs, but no explanation as to why.

As the next lockdown starts, I am hoping to knuckle down and finally get cracking with the writing as my muse is getting so tired of waiting for me. 

I just wish she could learn to type!

Good luck to those of you who are taking part in NaNo this year!