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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Jaye’s Journal ~ week 5

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Nearly time, to be honest, I think, something I have been trying to ignore for some time now. It is becoming harder to pretend I am the same as I ever was.

It’s not just my general health, which, to be fair, is not brilliant. Or the eyesight, which is becoming a problem, along with arthritis.

I am talking about my brain.

Those magical grey cells that shuffle all my ideas around and manage to figure out the best way to make them work. At least, that’s what I have always imagined was going on!

Late last year, I started to notice a reluctance to come up with the goods. Things that were once simple and routine were becoming difficult and often forgotten completely.

We make excuses for this all the time. Stress, tiredness, or life daring to get in the way. But I think I knew the writing was appearing on that proverbial wall. Well, the first few words, anyway.

My family are very supportive and continue to be amazed but what I have learned and what I can still do, bless them. They say it is normal to slow down a little at 75 years of age.

Now, my hackles usually rise at the mention of my age and slowing down, but it is probably time I acknowledged that I am the elephant in the corner of the room and that it might be time to start to act accordingly.

Time to have a serious think about the future, and what we can actually achieve. It might well be time we slowed down, but frustration has other ideas.

There is still so much we want to do, so much more of the fun stuff to learn and enjoy.

Seriously though, I do appreciate the need to slow down a bit, but I’m sure that won’t spoil all the fun we are having!

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#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 4

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Jaye’s Journal ~ Week Four

 

We are halfway through the week and not yet free from the virus in this house. Just when we thought we had backed it into a corner, it seems to be having one last fling. There should be a sign on our front door, as we have been sneezing, coughing and aching ever since Christmas and we are at our wit’s end, wondering what we have to do to shake off the germs.

The weather isn’t helping either, freezing cold and miserable.

We try to keep working, more to keep our minds active than anything else, but all we really want to do is sleep. There was one very welcome high spot yesterday, when the letter from the hospital arrived, declaring me cancer free again for the third year since my treatment for breast cancer. So not all doom and gloom around here.

PayBack, my WIP is ready to edit, but I am dragging my heels a little, not wanting to begin when feeling less than capable.  I know it will be impossible to create any magic now. The pile of scribbled must do’s on my desk is getting higher, so I hope normal service will return soon before I drown in guilt!

In readiness for the wonderful moment when I can think straight, I have been making sure all my story locations are in order and as accurate as I can make them.

Despite feeling like death warmed over, I have been trying to get to the bottom of the Draft2Digital  mystery. When we first joined them, we were impressed by how easy it was to upload our books and all their promises to help make promoting our books easier. I did wonder why we couldn’t access other people’s books, but put that down to my limited knowledge, figuring I would probably discover more as we went along.

When several people reported problems getting our books, I had to find out for myself. An email to D2D didn’t provide any understandable answers.   To try and figure out how it worked, I tried to buy one of Anita’s books from their site. It was hopeless. I kept being directed to iTunes, which turned out to be just as hopeless. I have never used iTunes much, and only recently found out they sold books. After much googling to find help, I found out about iBooks.

To cut a long, boring story short, I think I have discovered that D2D is basically just for iPad or Apple users. I can access our books on iTunes, but can only buy them with an iPad. I think this is such a shame, even though the US market is huge so maybe not too bad in the end.

We still needed to increase our book distribution though, so have started uploading our books on Smashwords. com.

Hopefully, next week will see a more cheerful workplace, for I could use some productivity and optimism round about now…

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#Jaye’s Journal Week Three

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Jaye’s Journal. Week 3

 

Despite still feeling like the remains of a dog’s dinner, I am determined to sort out the mess that is masquerading as my WIP, PayBack.

I knew it was a mess, but not how bad it really was. The experts say you shouldn’t worry about the state of your first draft, that it is more important to just get it all down on the page. You get to make it shine during the editing process.

I kept trying to tell myself this, but obviously wasn’t very convincing, so over the weekend, I tackled the first Act, all twenty sprawling chapters. After much rearranging and second thoughts, I reduced it to twelve chapters and felt quite smug pleased with my efforts.

This week has not been like that. All I can think is that some other idiot must have written the second Act. Although I was an editor long before I became a writer, this did not prepare me for the shambles I found. Continuity was simply not present. It looked for all the world like I had completely forgotten the basics. Instead of throwing it away in disgust, I kept reading, as a good editor should. There can be a brilliant story hiding under the waffle and confusion.Well, that’s what I hoped!

Gradually, I began to see what needed to be done to create a better story. The thread was there all along. PayBack would need substantial editing, but the framework was taking shape and I felt so much more confident about it.

I’m not sure how it all went so wrong, but my other books didn’t give me so much trouble.

 

Something else has been happening too. Even though I have been spending a lot of time sorting out PayBack, I seem to have more time available for other things too. I know this doesn’t make sense, but I have noticed before that time can stretch if you lose yourself in a project.

For all we know, time is not constant. This would explain why some days seem so much longer than others. All I can say, is I am grateful for the help, wherever it came from…

 

 

I am trying to discover just how good D2D is. They talk the talk and it sounds wonderful. So easy to have all your books on there and all that, but can they walk the walk?

Some of our prospective buyers have reported problems when they try to buy our books, so I am wearing my detective bonnet!

Has anyone else experienced problems with these people?

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#Jaye’s Journal: Another Visit?

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I have found myself thinking about my mysterious visitor at odd moments this week, despite having one of the worst depressions ever.

I did spend a lot of time trying to do as he suggested, going over my characters life in PayBack, my current WIP. Instead of inspiration and enthusiasm leading me on to greater depths, my mood became blacker by the minute.

After some time trying to pretend that everything was fine, I had to admit defeat, probably because other things were becoming unglued.

I was within an eyelash length of giving everything up, walking away (well, running away, to be precise) when I realised I wasn’t alone.

My visitor was back.

His familiar figure had made himself comfortable in my office chair and was swivelling backwards and forwards with a whimsical smile hovering on his lips.

To be honest, I wasn’t really in the mood for another literal lecture, my mind busy trying to remember where I had seen him before.

 

As he became aware of my presence, he turned the chair in my direction and smiled at me. Not that I could see his mouth properly, the snow white moustache all but his it from view, the only clue the upward ripple of his whiskers and the light in his eyes.

“There you are, Jaye. I have been watching your progress, or should say the lack of it and could not stay away any longer. I take it my advice did not help much?”

“I’ve had a bad week, can’t seem to do anything right these days…”

“But you do want to finish the book, I take it?”

For the briefest of moments, I couldn’t answer his question. Many times this past week I had wanted to burn it, but could the reason I didn’t, be because I did want to finish it and do it well?

“Yes, I do, but it’s not happening…there is such a lot of everything else to do each day, I just can’t keep up.”

 

He looked at me for the longest time, as if trying to read the state of my mind. I nearly laughed at that thought, there wasn’t much of interest going on in there and that’s a fact.

“That could be the problem right there, ma’am…”

I couldn’t help it. I groaned. The last thing I needed right now was another problem.

“I am duty bound to tell you, so you might as well listen.”

“Before we go any further, any chance you can tell me who you are? You seem so familiar, but my mind is not obliging…”

“My name is Samuel and I have come a long way to help with your predicament.”

My brain was doing the rumba, searching my damaged database for anyone called Samuel, but nothing was forthcoming. In the meantime, Samuel went back to swivelling my chair and enjoying every minute. He seemed like a good man, one with a sense of humour. He spoke with a soft American accent, southern, I think and his dark clothes were old fashioned. None of which helped to identify him. I’m usually good with faces, hopeless with names, but I had no idea who he was.

“Okay, I’m game. What pearls of wisdom have you for me today?”

“I have the feeling you are spreading yourself a little thin, trying to do and think of so many different things. The result is that you accomplish very little. Maybe you should narrow your focus, concentrate on just a few goals. You need to succeed in something and soon, or your confidence will shrink even more.”

 

His words sounded familiar. Someone had said the self same thing to me just that morning. I had to admit that the thought of actually managing to achieve something was very appealing, as I couldn’t remember the last time I had.

“But what about PayBack, should I try to finish it?”

Even as I asked the question, I knew what his answer would be. Of course, I should finish it, that’s the reason I get up every morning, isn’t it?

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Jaye’s Journal 26Aug -2 Sept.

 

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Earlier this year, I had my annual eye check-up. Not something I was looking forward to as I had the feeling that the slowly growing cataract in my left eye would finally be big enough to warrant being removed.

And it was. My optician said she would send her recommendation to the eye clinic at the Queen Alexander Hospital in Portsmouth. They would then, if they agreed with her, agree to see me to discuss the next stage.

Ever since that day, despite my eyesight fading fast, I have not been able to stop the nightmare of having someone slicing away at my eyeball.

But wait, the nightmare was about to get much worse.

The hospital duly agreed to see me, so it would seem I wouldn’t be escaping the knife after all. The day of my appointment arrived and the eye specialist, after administering drops to my eyes, proceeded to make his own judgement.

You could have pushed me over with a feather when he started going on about my right eye. How bad he thought it was and how he would be glad to sort it out for me. At first, I thought I had made a mistake (it does happen these days) but after a quick think, I realised it was he who had made the mistake. Of course, being a stroppy cow at the best of times, I wasn’t about to smile sweetly and thank him, was I?

Not on your life.

When I mentioned what my optician had said, he listened and then repeated what he was going to do, to my right eye. My turn to listen, and then I asked if he had received her letter. To be fair, he did find it in my file and read it but didn’t change his mind. He did, however, offer to see me again to conduct more tests.

To cut a long story short, I thanked him and left in a dignified manner. Straight round to my optician to see what she thought I should do. Her opinion was unprintable, but she did recommend that I go for the tests just to see what would happen. He is the only eye specialist around here, so it was worth checking out. If I didn’t like what he said, he wouldn’t see me for dust!

Two months later (this was last week) I presented myself for these tests. To say I had misgivings would be putting it mildly, but I needed to check this out, as my eyesight is getting worse by the minute.

Drops were administered and I waited for the tests to begin. But I was shown into the inner sanctum and told to put my chin on this contraption. After the briefest of inspections of both of my eyes, he sat back and I swear he was smirking and said they would be doing nothing to my eyes this year and maybe not next year either.

I stared at him with admirable composure, my mind turning somersaults. So many things could have happened then, and in my mind, I was tearing his hair out with my bare hands. After the briefest of pauses, I stood up, thanked him politely and turned to leave. As I reached the door, he said, “So good to see you again…” and this time he was definitely smirking.

Now, was I imagining all those things he had said about my right eye way back at the original appointment?

It would seem that I must suffer from my diminishing eyesight indefinitely unless I see someone else next year.

I wonder if this is even possible?

#Jaye’s Journal: 13~19 August

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After a better start to the month, when my Muse finally decided to cooperate, she/it has sloped off again. My normal early morning writing sessions have not been going well; consequently, WIP has not been getting any longer.

I must find something else to foster the creative spark in me, but this might be difficult, for even before I try, I have detected a certain miserableness creeping in. Obviously hell-bent on scuppering any or all of my endeavours.

This I think is because I have been feeling a little under the weather of late. That is such a weird expression, don’t you think?

Maybe it’s a hangover from the heatwave, but my get up and go has definitely walked!

Another reason for the blues is the garden. The grass, what was left of it, has grown long and I am not looking forward to cutting it.

Everything seems so difficult for me these days and even though I am willing, I quickly run out of steam and wish I hadn’t started.

Same goes for the dreaded 40-foot hedge in the garden. The heat has had the reverse effect on it and I may need a machete!

Although I have to ration my gardening into short bursts of activity, eventually the status quo should return, along with my Muse, I hope!

Back in the office, I have been doing battle with Amazon over some of our reviews. The ones we do for other writers.  I did a recent survey of every review we have ever done (according to our records) only to find about 15 are no longer on Amazon, if they ever were. I will gradually repost them all and pray they get published this time.

I am also having a problem with Chrome. I switched from Firefox because it was driving me nuts and now I have discovered that Chrome isn’t any better. I am having to copy and paste every comment I want to make when I visit other people’s blogs. If I don’t, they vanish into the ether!

Recently, I found myself reading the promo material from someone called Nick Stephenson and much of what he said actually made sense and sounded doable, so with a following wind, we may be able to get more proactive!

I have also been putting together the material needed for Craig Boyack’s muse, Lisa Burton for one of her interviews with one of our characters.  I am thinking of running a promo for Scarlet Ribbon in September, so this would fit in well.

On a lighter note, the road outside our front door has been repaired and we are finding tiny bits of sticky black tarmac all over our pale green hall carpet! I was despairing until I remembered we had a bottle of “Sticky Stuff” in the shed. This is for removing the residue from those annoyingly sticky labels. I tried it on the black marks and it worked a treat!

I love it when something actually does what it says on the tin…

See you all next week…

Jaye’s Journal 1~ 6 August

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The recent hot weather has finally eased and I for one am delighted.

Now, I can resume normal duties without running the risk of collapsing in a soggy heap!

There was a point when the heat was at its hottest when I almost lost the will to do anything, and being unable to sleep at night wasn’t helping at all.

On one of the unbearably hot days, I made the mistake of asking the family what they wanted for dinner. When they requested pasties, my heart sank.  We usually had them for picnic meals with salad, perfect for a hot day, but first I had to make them, then cook them in a hot oven!

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I nearly melted in my scorching hot kitchen, but the pasties went down a treat…

Another reason I am so glad the weather is cooler now is for Merlin, our aged black and white cat. He really has been suffering and watching him as he tried to find a cool place to lie down has been distressing for us as well as him. There were moments when he looked as though he couldn’t last much longer. In fact, there were times when he looked dead and my heart was in my mouth until he moved or flicked an ear.

What passes as a lawn in our garden has suffered too, and won’t need cutting any time soon as all we have at the moment are funny green tufts sprouting through the straw coloured dead grass.

This is more than I can say about the dreaded forty-foot long, seven-foot-high hedge. It has gone more than a bit crazy, with long branches shooting out in all directions. It will need a trim soon.

Not much writing was done during the heatwave unfortunately, something I am trying to remedy now it’s cooler.  I’m not sure why they call it a wave, wouldn’t that imply that it passes quickly, and that definitely didn’t happen. We were all being forced to live in a world that had turned into an unbearably hot oven, and it wasn’t funny.

I love a bit of good weather, but don’t appreciate being cooked the minute I step outside. So keep it down to a comfortable level, please?

You just know that life is returning to normal when computers find new ways to annoy. The latest game is ditching any comments I make on other people’s websites. You go to the bother of commenting, and not just ‘nice post!’ only to have it vanish without a trace. And I don’t know about anyone else, but my brain never remembers exactly what I just typed, so the second attempt is usually not as good or as long. Not acceptable, right?

Wishing to avoid frustration, I came up with the idea of commenting, as usual, then copy and paste it, just in case it does a runner before posting it.  Not exactly in the rulebook, but works for me…

And last but not least, something I have finally managed to do this week.      Yay! (cause for celebration!)

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We have claimed a BookBub profile and all of our books are locked and loaded!

Not sure how any of it works (no change there then) but if anyone wants to follow us on there, here are the links to Jaye’s BookBub and Anita’s BookBub.

Have a Wonderful Weekend Everybody!