Back to the Rat Race!

So last week I returned to work, Miss F returned to her part-time job, and we re-joined the rat race. I think I had forgotten, in the almost four months of this lockdown, how tiring it is to be constantly on the go. To be juggling so many things at one time, and to be trying to cram too much into too few hours.

The shop re-opened on the Monday, but I didn’t have my first shift until the Thursday. I walked in not really knowing how things were going to be, but I should have known after what happened last June how it would go. The place was heaving with customers, right from the get-go, people have swarmed to spend their money and we had an incredibly busy week.

Once again, I was rushing from work to pick up shopping, then dashing out to collect Miss F from work, then home again to try and simultaneously cook dinner, put away the shopping, feed the cat, and all the other things you need to do upon arriving home from work.

It’s amazing how quickly the benefits of four months resting, sleeping, and living to a quieter rhythm disappear once you’re plunged back into the chaos of your normal, everyday life. I do miss having time. Obviously, I wanted the situation to resolve itself and I wanted the figures to stop rising, but I would be lying if I said I haven’t enjoyed this past year for the luxury of time it gave me.

So, what did I achieve this lockdown? Well, I formed my own notional publishing company, Sele Books, and had a logo made and placed on the spines of all my books. I wrote book twelve. Kiss & Tell is book four of the Blackwood Family Saga and will be published on the 13th of May. The eBook version is now available for pre-order at a discounted price of £2.99 (or your local currency equivalent). It will stay at this price until it’s launch, when it will go back to the normal price of £3.99. The universal link to the book is on my books page, if you would like to take advantage of the sale price and order your copy to be delivered to your kindle on the stroke of midnight on launch day.

And I finally got around to the long-awaited task of completely overhauling my website. It is something that has been on my to-do list for years, but I never quite got around to it – lack of funds, time, and energy being the main reasons why. But during this last lockdown I certainly had the time, the royalties from book sales had been building up in my account so the money was there to do it, and, probably crucially, I wanted to do it.

Andrew, my website designer, has been on at me for years to get it done, so at the start of March we began brainstorming ideas for the new site. It wasn’t easy, my ideas didn’t always translate into practicable solutions, and, in the end, poor Andrew ended up constructing from scratch three completely different versions of the site – one for the desktop, tablet, and mobile – depending on which device you were viewing from. I had no idea you could even do that, it’s a bit clever, isn’t it?

The new website was finally revealed the day before I returned to work and I invited all my friends and followers to go and have a look and report back any issues and teething problems. Of which there were quite a few. For some reason, all the universal book links were taking people to the Amazon listing of Becoming Lili, and not the book they were intended to go.

Gradually though, Andrew and I picked through all the issues, resolving them as we went, and now the website is perfect. I am so happy with it, and thrilled I finally have a website I can be proud of. If you would like to have a look for yourself, then please click on the link at the top of the My Books page. Oh, and if you find any issues, please let me know.

Miss F has almost finished with college forever. I think she has mixed feelings about this. Yes, she will be relieved when her final exams are finished and she can take a deep breath, and of course, she is looking forward to university in September. But she has enjoyed college. It has been something of a transitional period between the environment of school and the one of college. An airlock if you like, between, childhood and young adulthood.

All day Wednesday, she was cutting and sticking and painting as she constructed her to-scale model of a zoo enclosure for a giant tortoise. I was relegated to giver of advice, washer of brushers, cutting out of acetate for the glass windows, maker of tea, and just general all-round dogsbody. Luckily, it was all completed by the evening and dry enough – just about – to load into the car Thursday morning so I could run her to college. No way was she going to attempt to carry it. Could you imagine if she dropped it crossing the road? She has two small assignments to finish at college next week, then, once her tutors have marked them, she will be signed off and will no longer be a college student. That chapter of her life will be over, and it will be time to look forward to the adventure that university will be.

And it will be an adventure. A wonderful one. I must admit to being envious of the opportunities that lie before her. The university she is going to looks amazing. A Facebook chat has been set up amongst all the potential students for the course she will be on and they spend hours chatting to each other. I think it’s wonderful that when she finally gets to university, she will already know her fellow students and the people she is going to be sharing accommodation with.

It will be a new stage of life for me as well. For the first time in eighteen years, I will have no one dependent on me. I will be able to do whatever I please. It’s an odd thought. I’m not sure what I will do with this newfound freedom yet. Whatever I choose is the obvious answer, but what will I choose? I guess, in a way, it’s an exciting new start for me as well. I think I will write more, that’s a given. And maybe I will even get back into amateur dramatics. Who knows? I shall have to see what happens in September.

Going back to work was even harder than it was last June. I’m not sure why. Maybe because this has been dragging on for so long now, maybe because I spent more time indoors because of the colder weather, but it was harder. Being so incredibly busy for the first three days I was back, left me drained and exhausted. Only have one day off, the Sunday, didn’t help. During that day I had to do a week’s worth of washing and ironing, clean house, cook meals, and generally catch up, before it was back to work on Monday and Tuesday. I know I will adjust, but I am struggling a little to deal with late nights and early mornings, getting by on six hours sleep, never managing to catch up, and that constant feeling that there’s something I need to do, but I can’t remember what.

Of course, having the launch of a new book on the horizon is always a stressful and demanding time, even more so this time as I’m spreading my wings a little and trying new things such as learning Amazon coding to create more eye-catching listing for my books. I’m also going to be offering book one of the series, Lost & Found, for free over the two days of launch, and the second book, Fixtures & Fittings, for 99p (or your local currency equivalent) so have had to learn all about how to do that, plus looking into global promotion of the free book and the discounted one.

When I think about how much I have learnt this past year, and how far I’ve come, it’s astounding. I am constantly learning new things and am always discovering ways to make my books better and the way I present them more professional.

Hopefully, once Kiss & Tell is launched safely, I can relax a little. The next book I intend to write will be book three in The Perennials Trilogy. I have a week’s holiday booked for the week after the launch, so I intend to make a start on it then. It will be nice to complete the trilogy, and I know lots of people are eagerly awaiting the final book to discover what happens with Lili and all her friends. Hopefully, we will be looking at a summer launch for that, and then it will be onto the next, and the next.

I’m afraid it’s a shorter blog this week. I sat down to work as usual on Saturday morning, only to find my laptop was being a bit of a nuisance. It kept glitching on me, freezing, locking me out, and spinning the never-ending blue doughnut of doom every time I tried to do anything. So that meant all the tasks I had to do Saturday on the laptop took four times as long, which left less time to write my blog. Also, the internet was up and down like a pair of kangaroos in the mating season which didn’t help. I hadn’t realised how much I work online until it was disconnected. It’s a bit worrying how much I rely on it now.

I hope wherever you are in the world that you are well and keeping safe and I will chat to you again next week.

Julia Blake

4 thoughts on “Back to the Rat Race!

  1. I can only imagine the adjustment going back to the job has been. You’ve made such incredible use of this strange past year of lockdown, more than most. You’ve been working non-stop but at what you love. You will continue to amaze me, but I understand your mixed feelings. It has nothing to do with not wanting Covid over and everything to do with how much you now know you can accomplish when writing can be your main occupation. But then there’s Life, making its demands.

    And now more transitions with Ms. F heading off to university. Mixed feelings too as you will miss her. But it is time; exciting for her and it will give you more time again for writing, even with the job. You sound in a good place about these life changes.

    That’s so interesting to hear about your interest and past experience in theater. We may hear more about that then!

    And congratulations on your beautiful website. I got to it a little late and didn’t see any of the glitches. It worked perfectly for me on my first look around.

    Congrats on your May 13th release of Kiss and Tell! Have a good week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to her going away, but it is the natural order of things and will be an interesting new stage of both our lives. The fact that she is keen and prepared to fly the nest, tells me that I’ve done my job right as a parent, and have ensured she has the necessary tools to cope with adulthood.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed reading this, and especially as it was shorter, I got through it. I’ve been out of commission for a week, so missed news of your new website, so will have a look, and of course the new book coming out. How exciting, I shall look that up too, and if available on KU will download it there.
    I still have a review to write up for the previous book, which having been hospitalised, has knocked me back with everything, but will catch up soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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