#Jaye’s Journal ~ Week 37

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Emails: Do you find them delightful or disastrous?

There are days when I find our never-ending list of emails such a chore. Days when the list is stuffed full of messages from people I don’t know, and endless advertising.  Not to mention all the get-rich schemes and must-have courses that cost a fortune!

It can take two hours to sift through them all and this must be done twice a day, seven days a week.

Today was a good day. There were several beautiful poems, inspiring stories and articles that had me reaching for my notebook. Smiling one moment, then wiping the tears from my eyes the next. There was also a couple of helpful posts that might make my life more interesting.

I like to share the better and more helpful emails with our readers, when we get them, of course. I mean, you can never have too much of a good thing, and if we can cheer up or help at least one person each day, I consider that a good day.

There is one aspect of our email list that does concern us, and that is the amount of companies trying to fool you into opening their emails for fraudulent purposes. We are advised to ignore them and never open them, but if it’s a company you use or belong to, it can be worrying. Supposing it’s genuine and you really need to read it?

I mean, how are we supposed to know the difference?

Much more of this, and I can see that letter writing might be making a comeback!

#Jaye’s Journal ~ Week 36

 

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What exactly is a coincidence?

“A coincidence is a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection…”

“A coincidence is something that is not planned or arranged but seems like it is. Technically, a coincidence is an occurrence of events that happen at the same time by total accident.”

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It doesn’t seem to matter what we talk about in our house, it can be on any subject but within a very short time we will hear or see a reference to it.

It could be an image we see on TV, or on a passing truck. Sometimes, someone will quote our words back to us while we watch a programme. I even find some of the key words of our discussion as answers or clues in my crossword puzzles.

It’s as if the Universe has joined in our conversation somehow…

Yesterday was the best yet.

We were working on Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge and the image prompt was a discarded bottle in the desert with what looked like a letter inside.  I had printed out the image so we could discuss the best way forward.

Literally, within seconds, Eamonn Holmes on the This Morning programme on ITV, started saying that the genie was out of the bottle!

We are quite used to these coincidences, but this one had our jaws dropping!

There are times when whatever this is, seems to go crazy, firing coincidences at us repeatedly. It usually involves a subject we would love to know more about and creates an avalanche where we will see and hear references to it for several days.

We have heard that synchronicity, a term originally coined by Carl Jung, is supposed to mean a meaningful coincidence that can only be explained by a phenomenon of energy, but what does it really mean?

Are these happenings really signs from the universe, confirming we are on the right track, but which track and what are we supposed to do about it?

Can it really contribute anything to the way we live our lives?

 

©Jaye Marie

#Jaye’s Journal… Week 34

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This week has been the worst yet.

I am still struggling with the WIP and although the last read through went well, trying to come up with a decent (and rivetting ) blurb/book description has been hitting a wall.

One day in the week, I think it was Wednesday, I found myself actually hating the whole thing and walked out of my office. I spent the rest of the day watching repeats on tv, hated the guilt and feelings of failure that were trying to consume me. Luckily, I woke up the next morning in a much more productive and positive mood, and the project is back on track.

My eyes are presenting a problem that I wasn’t expecting, however and this might be affecting my patience. Which is normally legendary, but has been falling down on the job. My eyesight is improving in leaps and bounds, but having to wear my old reading glasses has become something of a nightmare.

It became so bad, that I was forced to steal a pair of Anita’s reading glasses just to see to read something. Her eyes are nowhere near as bad as mine, which shows how much mine has improved. I have to wait several weeks before I can get new ones and I’m rapidly reaching new levels of annoyance.

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Desperately trying to find something more positive (and pleasant) to think about, I found myself watching some water colour trailers on YouTube. This is something I used to do, until writing grabbed me by the throat! I day dream about actually doing some of these crafts this winter, and the idea is doing wonders for my poor tired brain. My WIP has pushed it to the limit this year…

My Other Love…

 

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For one reason or another this year, I haven’t been taking as much care as I would like with my collection of bonsai. Not entirely my fault either, as the weather has been all over the place, what with the heat waves and then torrential rain. Handy, in a way, because they love rainwater.

Some of them need repotting, and I only managed to get to a few which has been nagging me ever since. Repotting is important, especially for the smaller ones as they use up most of the goodness in their soil. This is usually done in the spring, before they start to grow again after the winter hibernation.

 

Finding the right soil mix has become difficult too, as my usual supplier has run out and shows no sign of restocking. The right soil is important, as free draining is essential. Waterlogged roots will eventually kill the tree.

 

My great niece found me sniffing the soil of one of my bonsai the other day and wanted to know what I was doing. She probably thought I had lost my marbles, as it must have looked a bit strange. I explained that a healthy bonsai with a good root system and the right soil, would have a very pleasant and distinctive smell, and is a good way of checking you are taking care of it properly.

 

We have more hot weather to come they say, so I will find out if any of my trees need emergency repotting. If any of them wilt in the heat it will mean their roots have little or no protection from the elements. I don’t want to disturb the roots, not this close to autumn, so will have to replace what soil I can, leaving the roots undisturbed.

 

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Hawthorn: Tree of the Week: Image by Pixabay.com

 

Progress Report

There have been no new signs of life from the rescued Oakey Dokey yet, but the few leaves he has are still green and healthy. He is probably busy beneath the soil, creating new roots.

 

©JayeMarie

 

 

 

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 33

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“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen…”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

I have a pretty big bone to pick with Mr Emerson, for in my experience, he had it backwards. Just try to make a decision and see what happens.

The minute you do, unseen forces start to work to make bloody sure it won’t happen, and it seems to have all the resources in the world at its disposal.

This year, it has been one thing after another to slow down our working progress and my current WIP, PayBack has taken several ages to finish.

Most of it was to be expected to be fair, what with various age-related ailments and the eyesight falling to record levels. Then the extended period of surgery, first one eye and then the other. Throw in a cartload of family problems and the result isn’t pretty. If I could see where I was going, I might start running!

I have been blessed cursed with more than my share of patience, so I have weathered each obstacle and handled it to the best of my ability, but it has left its mark. I am so tired of never getting where I want to be. Of constantly fighting that small voice in my head that tells me to give up and forget about everything, to go and sit in the garden.

Well, that idea is very tempting and if it stopped raining for a while, I probably would. I have been known to sit out there, rain and all, but I can’t get my freshly hacked eye wet, so not this time.

Speaking of the latest eye surgery. After the first time. I thought I was prepared for the ordeal. It isn’t a pleasant procedure and left me giddy and feeling very sick last time, but it didn’t hurt at all and the improvement in that eye was almost immediate.

This time it hurt. It felt as though he was gouging my eye out with a spoon and several times, I nearly signalled him to stop as I feared it would get worse, but he managed to finish without me screaming the place down. Like last time, I was giddy and nauseous, but also very upset. He never apologised for hurting me, or asked if I was all right, just disappeared, leaving the nurses to take care of me. They were wonderful, and after a lovely cup of coffee and ginger biscuits, I felt better. The eye was aching, and this would continue for several days.

Two days on, and the ache is fading. I am a little disappointed with the result so far, compared to the first eye. The sepia effect has gone but the lens glare is worse this time. The first eye manages without glasses now, but the vision in the second eye is still blurred.

(They don’t tell you about the lens glare, and it was disturbing until I discovered what it was. My first thought was that the new lens was loose and/or trying to come out, but I was seeing the edge of the lens catching the light. This fades as the lens beds itself in its new home and the edge of the scar heals over…)

I am not allowed to do much for a while, bending, lifting, wash my hair etc… so I thought I could get cracking on the preparation for the book launch. A golden opportunity to sit at my computer all day, or so I thought. But the eyes get very tired, so not getting as much done as I thought.

Hopefully, all of this will pass and the sooner the better…

 

(Thank you for all your kind thoughts and for listening!)

 

 

 

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 32

 

Jaye's Journal x12

 

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Have you ever had one of those weeks when you have been so busy you haven’t had time to think?

Has your to-do pile grown so big you’re having nightmares about dealing with any of it?

At the end of every day do you wonder why you don’t seem to have achieved anything, despite being on the go all day?

Well, this week was the closest I have ever been to hell without getting burned. The stress levels in the family were at crisis level for a while and none of us coped with it very well.

The WIP (PayBack) is finally finished (I think) and I have just uploaded it to KDP as a draft, so I can have one final read through on Kindle. This is such a brilliant idea! It’s like reading someone else’s book!

Which is handy, because I was getting really fed up with constantly reading my printed copy. On Kindle, I should be able to spot anything that might have slipped through the net.

Time to start preparing the launch. I have been organising like crazy in my head and have a pile of notes on the subject, but now I must make all the right decisions, as PayBack might just be my last book and I want to do it proud, so to speak. Stopping writing doesn’t bear thinking about really, but I found this one so hard to write. I never thought I would ever stop, but the jury is out now, so who knows what will happen once the dust has settled.

First, I must get past the second of my cataract removals next week, and I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to being able to see properly again. The last few weeks have been a nightmare, what with the good eye fighting the bad one all the time. Everything I have been doing lately has been managed just a few inches from the PC screen. (I have been Mr Magoo for long enough) All of this was giving me serious headaches and my neck and back muscles are never going to forgive me.

The housework (what housework?)  has suffered and the garden is a mess, and to be honest, the mountain of outstanding jobs is beginning to look impossible to climb, but who knows, we must be in the running for at least one miracle.

Pity we don’t get to choose which one!

AAA (2)

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 31

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I didn’t think I would be able to manage a journal entry this week, due to my involvement with the WIP. The very helpful beta report seemed easy to follow, I originally thought, until I began to sort things out.

You know what happens, what seems like a doddle always seems to end up far more complicated than you first thought. I am past the half- way mark now, (I think) so quite pleased with my progress.

One of the points raised, was that my main character wasn’t expressing himself properly or enough. I tried to find the reason for this, intending to give said character a lot more to say and feel. It was while investigating this, that I realised what the problem was.

His point of view was all wrong.

He needed to be written in the first person, as this would allow him to think and feel far more than he was now. I changed the POV in the first few chapters, just to see if it worked.

At this point, I hadn’t given a thought to how much work this would entail, or that it would delay the launch procedure even more. But I really liked the result, so will just have to work harder!

Changing the subject completely, I have been watching the second series of Keeping Faith on a box set as a means of unwinding at the end of some very complicated days. I have been blown away by this mystery drama and all the emotion displayed by all the cast members in this series. I’m a sucker for beautiful theme music and FF has a good one, so I thought I would share it with you.

 

By the time you hear from me again, I hope to have some really good news for a change!

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 30

 

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Beta Days!

 

We are constantly being told how important it is to have our work read by someone else before we publish. Even when our ego convinces us that our WIP doesn’t need this, that we have in fact, done a marvellous job!

My ego must be having time out, as I knew from the start that my current WIP, PayBack, needed a miracle or a beta read at the very least.

For so many reasons, PayBack was hard to write at times. This was the first time my writing confidence had faltered, and I worried about it a lot.

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PayBack is a crime thriller and I love writing them, even though creating all the twists and turns can test my brain to its limits. This time there were some unusual elements that I had never written about before, all of which threatened possible multiple pile ups and confusion if I allowed it to run amok.

Add to all that the miserable year I have had, what with my eyesight deteriorating and various other problems, it was a miracle I managed to write at all.

When I finally finished writing it, I knew it would need all the professional help I could afford. In this respect, I am lucky, for two books back I found myself a brilliant and reliable beta reader, Sara Maew from Fiverr.com and I think she is amazing.

I know that some of you recommend more than one beta reader or an editor, but even with the best will in the world, I cannot stretch my pension that far. Fiverr is very reasonable, and in my experience, Sara could easily command high prices for the work she does.

I am very confident in her abilities. She will find all my errors, plot holes, howlers and missing elements, and suggest ways to improve them. I also love that she includes praise for all the good bits!

The results of the beta read came in a twenty-page report and covered all the weak spots and errors. More dialogue was suggested, and the plot flow was far too erratic, but after reading this report, my confidence soared for I knew PayBack was fixable and would be a great read.

Criticism can be destructive, leaving both you and your book in a worse state than before, but Sara manages to fill me with such confidence, inspiring me to work on her suggestions to make PayBack not only perfect, but shining!

Next week, I hope to start the foundations for my marketing plan…

 

 

#Jaye’s Journal… week 28

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Beaten by a Tree!

 

I failed to rescue the oak sapling.

 

 

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The oak sapling!

 

I tried my best but as I hacked away at the weeds surrounding it, it became apparent that it would not be an easy task.

We had always called it a sapling for it was only a foot high, completely forgetting how many times it had been cut back over the years.

I discovered that the base of this tree was very large and mostly rotten. It was also growing so close to the wall and I suspected the roots would be entangled in the brickwork.

But was I disheartened?

Not even a little bit. This is where being stubborn can pay dividends, but whether this would be a good day for stubbornness remained to be seen.

I dug a trench around the tree, severing several rather large tap roots in the process.  These would not be needed if I succeeded in creating a bonsai out of it. Tap roots are mainly for stability, and it’s the fine fibrous roots you need to protect.

When I tried to lever the root ball out of the hole with my trusty garden fork, it wouldn’t budge. Doubt began to sink in, nudging my determination to one side, so I tried to tug at it with all my strength, just to see some kind of movement. Anything to justify digging deeper.

This is when my determination failed, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to save this tree. It had been there too long and probably had tap roots in Australia.

I felt very sad at this point, for the tree would have to removed somehow, probably in pieces before it brought the wall down. But if my detemination pays another visit, I may have another go!

The wall in question was probably as old as our house, built in 1887 so saving it was more important than anything I wanted to do with the oak. (at least, that’s what common sense was telling me!)

******

Todays disapointment reminded me of another one of my failures, one even sadder that happened several years ago. I tried to rescue a beautiful red acer from a demolition site. I couldn’t bear the thought of it being mown down by a bulldozer, so asked the builder in charge if he minded my removing it.  I knew it would be difficult, for whoever planted it had built a rockery around it, creating quite a lovely Chinese garden.

But before I could get started, the helpful builder took it upon himself to rip it up and present it to me, so proud of his handy work.

It hung there in his hand, already limp, the roots bare and damaged and I knew he had probably just killed it.

I did my best for that tree, carefully planted it in the best soil. I kept it in the shade and misted the leaves regularly to help it recover. Gradually, despite my efforts, I watched it die and all my prayers and efforts came to nothing.

I think a little piece of me died that day too…

AAA (2)

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 26

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As I get closer to the end of editing PayBack, my WIP, I keep thinking about the strange visitor I had just before Christmas. The man who appeared out of nowhere and literally put his finger on what was slowing down the plot in my writing.

Remember him?

You can read that post HERE

Back then he had been so insightful about the lead character in my book, something I greatly appreciated at the time. Then, this morning he had strolled back into my office as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I had no idea where he had come from or even if he was real, but what was he doing here now?

I had a good look at him while his attention was caught by something on my monitor. He wasn’t from this world, for his clothing was old fashioned. The resemblance to Mark Twain was striking, every inch the famous writer and riverboat captain.

I have long been a fan of his wisdom and sense of humour, so if this was indeed him, who better to mentor me and speak to me about my writing.

But how could I tell him he had wasted his journey, as the book was all but finished. I didn’t need his help now. I had to say something but didn’t want to seem ungrateful or rude, but had to say something, didn’t I?

His kindly eyes twinkled as he looked at me and to my relief, I knew he would speak first.

“I see the masterpiece is almost finished, ma’am and I presume from the satisfied look on your face that you think the hard work is done?”

I didn’t know what to say. I mean, what can you say to someone who is probably just the figment of an overtired brain?

“Yes, the book is almost complete, and I am reasonably happy with it.” I waited, wondering what he would say next, but he didn’t seem in any hurry to divulge the reason for his visit. He strolled around the office looking at my collection of books. The computer kept drawing his gaze, but it didn’t warrant a comment.

“I have been thinking about you and how you plan to market the book. Do you actually have a plan?

His question surprised me, mainly because I hadn’t given much thought to how writers managed to sell their books back in his time. I knew his books were popular, but how did they get that way? By all accounts, Mark Twain wasn’t a very good businessman and bankrupt at one point due to bad investments.

So how could I ask his advice about the right way to promote my book?

I heard a chuckle and turned to find him smiling at me.

“I assume by your lack of an answer, that you don’t have much of a plan and by the puzzled look on your face I can also assume that you don’t think I am qualified to offer any advice on the subject?”

He had just succeeded in making me feel both rude and stupid, but he had hit the nail on the head.

“That was wrong of me and I apologise, but your turning up like this is a little unnerving you know. Just how did your books become bestsellers?”

He tweaked his snow-white moustache between his fingers as he thought about my question. “I made many mistakes back then, but I also learned something very important.  The most important lesson was to stop trying to sell my product and sell myself instead. You see, if you can make people like you, they will want to buy your book. It really is that simple.”

My mind was racing. Was this why most of the articles I read always stress the importance of communication?

When I looked up to thank him, the room was empty. He had vanished as suddenly as he arrived, and I wondered if I would ever see him again…

AAA (2)