No Blake Today!

Just a short blog today to explain why there isn’t going to be a blog this week! Monday and Tuesday were two full-on days at work which left me depleted of energy each evening, and thankful that Miss F is now on kitchen duty the days I work. It’s crazy, the level of sales the store is doing. Comparable to the January sales, the shop has been reopened since the 15th of June and the craziness is showing no signs of abating. Where are all these people coming from? And why are they all so desperate for a new bed? Some have redecorated so want a new bed to fit the new decor. Some have been spending longer in bed so have discovered how uncomfortable it is. And I think a few believe that we’ll all be going back into lockdown soon, so they better do it now while they still can. Whatever the reason, we are just riding this wave for as long as it lasts!

Wednesday I spent nine hours with my reading glasses on staring at my laptop screen as I went through the Blackwood Family Saga books one last time, making all the final amendments, checking page lengths and pagination, and generally having one last go through to check that everything was perfect. Finally, I sent it to my wonderful formatting team at Platform House Publishing for them to work their magic and fix everything in place.

Thursday I worked on “The Book of Eve”, although I haven’t yet got copyright back it will be very soon and I want to be ready. The book has been edited and is now in the correct format. I have gone through it line-by-line, checking and obsessively rechecking, I want to get it to my beta reader asap so she has time to read through it. I’m looking for an August publication for this, and I know from past experience that everything takes longer than you think it’s going to, so I’m trying to get ahead of the game here.

Friday morning I braved Waitrose for supplies. I was on a tight clock because I had a Zoom meeting with my local author group at 11am and I didn’t leave home to go shopping until 10:15am. This was a lot later than I’d planned, but I’d had a restless night and had sat reading a book from 3am to 4:30am, before dropping back off to sleep, only to then be woken at 6:30am by the sound of a jaunty little tune playing somewhere. It wasn’t a tune I recognised and was plainly someone’s phone. Annoyed, I got out of bed and went out onto the landing. Yes, it was definitely coming from inside the house. I finally tracked it down to Miss F’s office and realised it was coming from a pile of rubbish on her shelves.

By this point I was wide awake and mad. I hadn’t planned to be awake quite this early, hoping to sleep a bit longer to make up for the missed sleep during the night. And it’s true what they say, misery really does love company and after all, it was her phone that was apparently making all the racket. So, I went and hammered on her door, dragged her out of bed, and demanded that she find the source of the constant music, which by now had reduced me to a snarling wreck, and turn the bloody thing off!

She stumbled into the office, confused, and started pulling things off the shelf. Turns out, it was her old phone which has been sitting in that exact spot for eighteen months, uncharged, and forgotten about. For some reason known only to its own little micro circuits, it decided that morning that it was going to sound its little alarm, over and over again, just for the hell of it! I swear our devices are possessed!

I fell back into bed, meaning only to rest for a moment and then get back up, but… yep, you’ve guessed it, I only closed my eyes for a second and then suddenly it was gone 9:30am and I was running late.

So, instead of being on the shop’s doorstep when they opened, I didn’t make it there until mid morning and the queue was snaked back and around the car park and up to the trolley park!

I made it home just on 11am, and quickly made a coffee while the laptop was warming up – it’s getting old, so it takes a while now – and dumped a giant lemon and sultana Danish pastry on a plate for a delayed breakfast to eat during the meeting.

I’m getting used to these virtual meetings now, and it’s going to be so odd when we can actually meet up in the flesh, whenever that will be, but at least we have been able to chat. Just think if this had all happened twenty years ago, or even ten? How much harder would it have been without the access to Zoom, Messenger and the other methods of group chat that exist now. It would have been a long and lonely isolation for most of us, and I don’t think we would have coped so well. No homeschooling for our children, no working from home, no ordering things online! No Netflix, Sky or Amazon Prime, no Disney channels, we would literally have been reliant on whatever was on terrestrial TV and making our own entertainment. To be honest, I think most of us would have ended up basket cases.

Friday afternoon my three books came back from the formatter and were ready to upload to Amazon. There were a couple of snags – there always are – but nothing that couldn’t be easily tweaked – and I’m happy to report that all three paperback versions are safely saved, the printed proof copies have been ordered and will be here sometime next week. Yes, I was able to view the books on the website and they look fine, but nothing beats actually holding the printed copies in your hand and sitting down to read them right the way through. It’s also essential for checking that the colour of the cover is correct. Amazon have a nasty habit of messing with the colour palette, so you may think your cover is a beautiful sharp orange, but when it actually arrives it’s been changed into a sludgy mustard colour!

I’m really desperate to get these three books launched now. It’s taken much longer than I ever thought it would. The two previously published books “Lost & Found” and “Fixtures & Fittings” have been unpublished since November 2019, and that’s a long time for books to be unavailable. However, they are completely revamped now and look amazing. They’ve both had another edit and have been given smart new covers, together with a clearer font and better formatting, they are now books to be proud to put my name to.

The third book in the series had its grand unveiling on social media yesterday, when its title, blurb, and cover were shared with everyone. The third book is called “Sugar & Spice” and continues the tale of the Blackwood Family with Susannah Blackwood. I totally had a blast writing this book as it’s non-stop action from beginning to end and I’ve never written such an exciting book.

As soon as the proof copies are received, checked and approved, then the countdown to a simultaneous launch of all three books will commence. I must be either inspired or mad to be even be attempting to launch three books at once, but because it’s a series the promos all link up and there is a lot of shared advertising for all three books, so it makes sense to do them all in one hit.

I’m also planning a special sale price on both ebooks and paperbacks for the three launch days, so again it’s easier to do them all together.

Once they have safely left the nest it will be the turn of “The Book of Eve” and then my two year mission to renew, rejuvenate, and relaunch all of my books will be complete and I can move on, happy that the Julia Blake brand is represented by books that are the best I can possibly make them.

I planned to write the blog yesterday afternoon, but a weird headache struck me down and even keeping my eyes open and focused was a struggle, let alone wearing my reading glasses and staring at a screen for a couple of hours! This headache was excruciating and was centred in my right temple, the back of my right hand jaw, and deep with the canal of my right ear. The only way I can describe it is that it felt like someone was driving an ice pick through my head. I googled it, and found that there are indeed what are called ice pick headaches and that they are more common in women than men, and only really happen in women over the age of 40. Like we don’t have enough to contend with. They’re not really sure what causes them, but if they start happening regularly I will need to get it checked out.

As any computer work was a complete no-no, instead I went into the garden and made a half-hearted effort to pick cherries. I managed to get off 12lbs before my head told me to stop being an idiot and go inside and rest, before my brains exploded! There are more cherries on the tree but given that the birds were actually cheekily eating them whilst I was picking them, and going by the state of my garden from where the birds have deposited little pink splattered piles everywhere, I’m not sure if there will be any left by the time I get back out there!

And now it’s Sunday morning and I’m writing this blog to explain why there isn’t going to be a blog, but have a feeling it’s actually turned out to be a blog after all! I have work today, which to be honest, I could do without. But then I have two weeks off which I’m really looking forward to. It’s my birthday next Friday and there are all sorts of shenanigans planned, so at least I will have lots to tell you all next week.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay well, and stay happy.

Julia Blake

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