Jaye’s Journal Week 21

 

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Have you ever had one of those weeks when everything you touch turns into a nightmare?

This has been one of those weeks, full of mini-disasters and nasty complications, starting with my WIP, PayBack. Half way through the second edit, you know the one, where you trawl for all your howling grammatical errors. Removing all the words you have used far too often, along with the ones you shouldn’t have used in the first place. Everything was going well, when I became uncomfortable with the lead character. I had written him in the first person, but it didn’t fit him somehow.

I had a quick look at other crime writers, and almost all of them prefer the third person POV.

I experimented with a chapter, fully expecting to dislike it, but I didn’t. This meant a ton of work needed to be done and right when I thought the end was in sight. Ho Hum.

I was also having more problems with the pc, and then my camera started making weird noises. I thought new batteries would help, but no. I have been saving up for a new pc, so there was no way I could stump up for a camera too. Then I remembered that my borrowed iPad had a built-in camera. I tried it out and was pleasantly surprised to find the quality excellent, so photographs can still be taken, as and when I need to. (Until I win the lottery!)

Have any of you tried to choose a new PC lately?

Not being related to Rockefeller, I have to settle for a refurbished model, but there were so many to choose from and seeing as how I have serious trouble making up my mind at the best of times, it was a nightmare. I have made some really stupid mistakes in the past, so I am caution personified these days. As they say, ‘When in doubt, do nowt.’

But that kind of thinking won’t get the baby a new bonnet, or me a pc that actually does what it says on the tin.

Then something quite remarkable happened.

Something else had been going on in my head, lately.  I have always been a craft person, if you know what I mean, and one of my passions are those lovely beaded bonsai trees.

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It is all Pinterest’s fault really; they keep sending me images of these wonderful trees. The desire to make one is never far away, but the idea was blossoming, and I knew if I didn’t start now, it might never happen.

My eyesight is a major problem when it comes to craft work, and it isn’t  getting any better. On Friday I will find out what they intend to do about it, if anything.

So, going by another old maxim, ‘All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy,’ I am going to reschedule my time to make way for things other than PC related work.

Working with my hands always frees up my mind to wander where it will, something that just doesn’t happen when wrestling with demonic computers!

So I am hoping for some magic while I am busy creating!

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Jaye’s Journal # Week 20

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So far, this has been a good week, no major disasters or tinkering malfunctions. Apart from the new email format on BT, that is!

This is still driving me nuts, but I have discovered that the problem might be due to an ageing Windows 7 that will be discontinued at the end of the year. I have been warned to expect more of this kind of problem.

Which means I have a decision to make, one that will cost money, so I am dragging my heels a while longer. Quite apart from coughing up for a new pc, it means I will have to tackle Windows 10, not something I am looking forward to frankly.

ON THE EDITING FRONT

The editing of PayBack is progressing well, and the first two rounds are done and dusted. Next, I will run through each of the characters chapters. This is an excellent way to ensure that the story of each character runs true, with no yawning great holes or continuity errors. I love this edit, as it gives me the opportunity to get up close and personal with my favourite people and make sure I have presented them in the best possible light.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT

It seems like a long time since I had a really crazy moment. Just as I was thinking I was getting too old for crazy, one trotted up and tapped me on the shoulder.

I will explain if you promise not to call the people with the straitjackets.

Last month, I had my hair cut. To cut a rant short, I wasn’t happy with it. At all.

I have been patient, trying to decide what to do about it.

I usually prefer my hair to be on the short side as it is fine, wispy, and a bit curly, with a mind of its own. It usually prefers to do its own thing and resists any attempt to make it behave. Which most of the time is okay with me.

It grew quite long, and I have been wearing it pinned up, simply because I cannot stand it wrapped around my neck like a scarf.

Out of the blue (and this took me by surprise too) I grabbed a pair of scissors in one hand and chunks of hair in the other and chopped away. I had seen this done on films and must have secretly wanted to have a go.

Well, my hair is no longer hanging around my neck but is a tiny bit shorter than I wanted it to be. But I dare say it will grow again…

watermark xjj

 

 

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 17

 

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For so many reasons this week has been a nightmare.

I received a letter from the hospital summoning me for another look at my cataracts. This has imposed a deadline on my editing, for after that date, I may not be able to see what I’m doing, depending on when or if they decide to do something this time.

Seriously though, I am getting really fed up with not being able to see properly. Everything is blurred, and print is so small.  And don’t get me started on the headaches!

Having a deadline is one hell of a way to buck my ideas up, that’s for sure.

Just when I was feeling positive about everything and things were moving  along swimmingly, BT decided to upgrade their email site, resulting in the most awful balls up. If this is what passes as ‘better’, I must be a monkey’s uncle!

Not only is it poorly arranged, but the layout sucks, AND it keeps going wrong! I mean, I don’t ask for much, just that things work the way they’re supposed to.

Moving on to what I’m supposed to be doing, the editing of PayBack. Right in the middle of thinking I was doing a brilliant job, I realised that somehow I was out of my depth. This turned into what the hell did I think I was doing, so everything crashed right there!

I am beginning to think my brain has finally decided to be old and past it after all. All without consulting me, I might add. I keep forgetting where I am in the process of editing, and what I’m supposed to be doing. I spread all these chapters on my desk, trying to make sure the plot was running smoothly. I found myself staring at them, with absolutely no clue. My head was empty, and I had never felt so lost in my life.

I don’t understand what is happening, for I usually breeze through editing. Hell, I was an editor long before I became a writer and love doing it. The chance to polish your story until it shines is a glorious part of writing, and here I was, unable to organise a piss up in a brewery.

Editing, as you know, is a series of systematically checking everything. You must be methodical and do things in the right order, something I seemed to have forgotten how to do.

For the first time in my writing career, I might need an independent edit…  Something I never thought I would ever say…

And if all of this wasn’t bad enough, I have eaten all the chocolate!

watermark xjj

 

 

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 16

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Every now and then, we get a wake up call, a wonderful moment when a magic light bulb illuminates an area in our brain. This usually heralds a brilliant idea, something ground breaking or so incredibly sensible, you wonder why it took so long to surface.

Then there are the other kind. The ones accompanied by that awful stomach churning, as you realise how stupid you are or have been.

Today, I had one of these, and it has done absolutely nothing good to my self confidence. I was re checking the enormous pile of helpful notes (I use this term advisedly) when the realisation hit me between the eyes.

We make all these lists of things to do, things to remember or try. Then we get a sense of achievement when we actually cross something off. Today, it was brought home to me, just how stupid that is.

I had been watching a trailers someone had made using a company called Animoto. That name rang a bell, but the memory didn’t follow on. Had  I already checked them out? And if  I did, what did I find?

Those of you with fantastic memories will not need the advice I am about to share, but I suspect quite a few of you, like me, will find it useful.

When we read something that needs checking out, we should have a place to record our findings. Either a page in a notebook or an index card in our follow up box. Write a simple assessment, was it good/rubbish/too expensive/unsuitable…and if you logged on to the site, record the URL and your password.

I have no idea why this has never occurred to me before, as I seem to spend my life revisiting sites, only to realise I had been there before. It will be so helpful to be able to see at a glance all the info.

Just think of the time saved!

P S:  Editing of PayBack is progressing very well!

 

 

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!

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#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 12

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There has been a noticeable air of determination in the office this week. Even Merlin, our cat has spent more time with me, sitting on my desk for all the world as though supervising the whole shooting match.

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And what has triggered this state of affairs?

I think it started when I realised I was in danger of drowning under the growing piles of paperwork on my desk, and that something needed to be done about it and sooner rather than later.

I have known for some time that we have been drifting like a rudderless boat. It was never spoken about, but I think we had slowly abandoned all hope of ever achieving our goals. ‘Maybe one day,’ had turned into ‘In your dreams.’ almost without our noticing.

It was while sorting through the pile of paperwork, that I think I was bitten by some kind of creative bug. I became determined to do something about our state of inertia. Everywhere I looked it seemed, other people were making progress so it was reasonable to assume we could too.

Somewhere among all the paper in front of me had to be the key to our future in the writing business. I was in the habit of saving helpful articles, all claiming to turn me from hopeless to genius in no time at all. So I systematically sorted through the pile, keeping some and discarding others. I started a list of things to do, determined to master or learn one new thing every day.

On day one, I updated our Pinterest boards, adding new pins relating to our book promotion and adding our URL to them all. This, apparently, will increase the traffic to our website.

Day Two, I updated the header menu on our website, adding all of our #BlogBattle posts. Not essential, just something I had been meaning to get around to.

Day Three, we need to find readers, so I start with Twitter. #Amreading. and follow some readers.

Day Four, update our book promo posters. I also took the afternoon off and spent it cuddling our new Great Grandchild, something far more rewarding!

Day Five, read up on creating a street team. We need several readers to help promote my almost finished crime mystery novel. If anyone has any helpful hints for this, please holler!

 

My days are beginning to look quite different now. I write first thing in the morning for at least an hour, more if it’s flowing well. Then I attack the emails. This can take up to two hours. Then it’s social networking and follow-ups until lunch.

I like to do an online jigsaw while I eat, something that is supposed to help my ageing brain! so no guilt there!

After lunch, I post whatever articles we have available, and the rest of the afternoon is dedicated to the new learning routine and or research.

What we need to do, is set up a schedule that will mostly run itself, freeing up some time for other activities.

As that old adage is slowly becoming true around here.

The one about all work and no play…

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Jaye’s Journal ~ week 11

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Do you ever think that fate is not on your side?

That every time you think you have it sorted, something comes along and puts obstacles in your way, every single time?

After what seemed like a long period of confusion, my muse slipped back into gear last week, enabling me to make some headway with PayBack, my WIP.

I always write first thing in the morning, long before most of the world wakes up. I have been enjoying the return to normal and I can tell that the WIP has appreciated it too.

That phrase springs to mind, ‘It’s a glorious day, watch some buggier ruin it,’

That was when the computer crashed.

Just to prove a point, the kitchen light failed too. Not as simple as changing the light bulb, this needed one of those circular tubes, something most shops don’t stock any more. Luckily, Amazon is not most shops and I managed to order one. We will have to cook and prepare our food by candlelight until it gets here, but not too much hardship.

The computer is another matter.  It needs replacing, and I cannot really afford to at the moment. I just pray it lasts a little longer!

 

Caught a glimpse of the news this morning, where they were going on about this new survey a photographer was involved in, about people with birthmarks. They were trying to increase awareness or something along those lines.

I was expecting the usual, oddly placed patches, so was not prepared for what some people are born with. Huge dark areas, covering most of their bodies. One poor man had a birthmark all over his face. And really pretty women, almost invisible behind the ugly marks.

When I think of all the things I moan about, they fade to nothing compared to their daily torment.

Then, for some reason, I thought of all those people who cover themselves in tattoos. Not the odd artfully placed roses or butterflies, but the random haphazard determination to cover every inch of their skin.

Sometimes, I think our DNA or whatever controls our lives, has it backwards…

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Jaye’s Journal x7

 

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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!

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Jaye’s Journal ~ week six

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The Wonder Miracle of Survival

One morning a few days ago, I awoke 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 edit PayBack, my WIP. At first, it went well, no apalling errors or plot holes, but after about an hour, I found a problem with one of the characters. A problem that needed serious thought, as the story hinged on this particular theme being right and written well.

That was when I discovered that my brain had not recovered enough from the mind-numbing virus that has been plaguing all of us these past few weeks, 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. So incredibly small and delicate, how did they keep warm all night in the bitter cold?

Where did they sleep?

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

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

They are just like us, 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?

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