Sunday, June 21, 2015


Today is Sunday which is a nice reflective day of the week, or at least is meant to be.
Sadly, the reflecting about today was pretty much along the lines of the lament.
Now, I muck around a bit with the music at my little church, and we like the kids to take part as some of them are really good. Way better than me because they actually have lessons and know how to sing in tune.
We do new songs and a few of them the whole church have embraced, and I just knew they would love this one. Brooke Fraser's Like Incense/Step By Step (below). Bearing in mind music is subjective, I think it has a fabulous melody. The chorus, to me, is Taize-like. The words are scriptural from Psalm 119 so there is a meditative aspect of it to lose yourself in. And most important of all - I can play it.
So last week we practised with the kids: we had acoustic guitars and bass, and it sounded good. I was leading, ie playing the introduction and leading in with the singing, and was pretty happy about it.
But during the week I had to leave town quite suddenly, and so I did no practising at all. However, we met to do our practice before the service and it went well, and people listening said it sounded great, which is always a relief for newbies like us.
So the service starts, and Jack is leading us in the other songs - Amy, Anna and I are singing, not playing at this point - and we get to the part where we're going to play this song. So we set up, and right as we're about to start, and bass player Amy is looking at me in a "You're on, Jo," kind of way, I have this massive "I can't do it." moment.
I can not explain what came over me when I have done this before with different songs, but she's giving me the "Come on, Jo," nudge, and I'm thinking, FOR SOME INEXPLICABLE REASON, I am thinking... I can't do this.
Anna, the other singer, is looking odd at me, the people out there are waiting, and I say, "Jack can lead us in."
Now, Jack's been doing this a while and I figured he wouldn't stuff it up because he knows what he's doing (he's the minister)  but he wasn't meant to lead this song off.
But I had no choice, Jack is looking around and I'm telling him he can do it because I know, I just know, that if I do it FOR SOME INEXPLICABLE REASON, it will be a disaster ...  IN SPITE OF THE FACT it had gone well in practice an hour earlier.
But then, as we all know, sixty minutes is plenty of time to forget stuff.
Or have a meltdown.
What can I say except that clearly, clearly, I have the gift of wisdom or prophecy or something... Because it turns out I was exactly right.
I totally did stuff it up.
But not by playing wrong chords or naff changes, or singing out of tune or any of the usual ways.
I stuffed it up by NOT sticking to the plan and doing it in the first place.
Jack took over the leading, albeit with a degree of confusion because it turns out he didn't actually know the song that well.  He had planned to follow us.
Had I not noticed that he had not been at our earlier practices?
So we played it.
And I legit can't even begin to describe how bad it was.
There were issues with timing and the fact we didn't have a decent introduction, but most of all - most of all - Jack did not have all the verses in front of him... because he was meant to be following my lead.
And so, half way through the song, we reached a point where we had more verse to sing, and Jack, because he did not have all the words in front of him, thought that was the end and went back to the chorus.
So we are playing and singing the rest of verse two and Jack is half way through the chorus and it is clear this is just hideous.
I was a whisker off hissing, "Abort. Abort."
Fortunately, I didn't need to because it terminated all on its own.
Oh My Gosh.
What can I say except that after the service, after much lamenting and "Take me, God, take me up now!" pleading (am still not convinced this is a theologically sound request) I told everyone that we would do it next week and I would lead.
Hand on heart, I said, I will lead you, my good people. Like Moses led the Israelites, I will lead you in this song.
Well, everyone was pretty happy with that.
So that was all arranged and I felt a little better for making amends, and lamented my meltdown some more ('lamented' is my new favourite word), and thanked God for not granting my pleadings to be beamed up to the clouds.
Yet now, many hours later, I still don't know what came over me.
Stuff ups happen, but those poor kids who had practiced and were probably nervous enough to begin with - ouch.
I may have to bring chocolate next week although with a bit of luck they've all forgotten and mercifully are exchanging personal details and intimate photos on Instagram right now instead of thinking "What the heck was she on?"
(Names have been changed so I don't get sued excommunicated banned from the band.)
Here is the good version - although three times as long as we would do it. Pretty nice, though.

Monday, June 8, 2015

On the subject of book reviews....

For a start,  I was - I mean, we were - at the top of the Smart Bitches best seller list last week with the Love Downunder set.
Very nice.
Second, reviews keep rolling in for said set, including reviews for  Falling for Jack. 
A boy male friend  and I were discussing names and how Jack was such a great boy's name, and how "Falling for Dick" (for example) doesn't have the same panache.  This was in light of a Dear Author tweet on the subject... that if there is a Richard and a Jack in a novel, you know who the girl is going to end up with. Jack is completely over-used in books and film but it is such a good name.
Now. On to the reviews.... I've copied and pasted a heap of them below. Reviews are a touchy subject. They can send you into the foetal position with alarming speed. They can make you buzzy for days on end... the Sally Field moment - "You really like me!" Or in our case, not so much like me, but the work. Which could, of course, be interpreted as being the same thing. You don't like our work, you don't like us. Writers are mostly overly sensitive creatures in my experience. Hence the weeping and the wailing and lamenting.... 
But you just have to suck it up and realise - Not.Everyone.Has.To.Like.Your.Work.
I sure as heck don't like everything I've read. I've got books on my Kindle both free and bought, and I should just go and delete them right now cos I can't get into them.
If people read my work and want to talk about it, goodly or badly, then they're entitled. Even if they got the book for free (I'm the one who made it go free, after all). They are entitled, if they bothered to read it. We don't discourage folks who borrow library books from discussing them. Book groups encourage it. 
But that is one of the points. They discuss it in a group with coffee and cupcakes. Like these,  And it stays there with the group. In the 'old' days, if you had a rubbish review in a magazine, you could ceremonially rip out the offending page, set light to it, and watch it burn its vile way into hell. Yes, I am no stranger to setting light to things that annoy me. I have burnt books. Well, actually, it was one book and it shall not be named. EVER. (But it was not a work of fiction - that I know of.)  The problem is, anyone can say "any thing" (freedom of speech) but that's the price you pay if you put your work out there. As somebody somewhere apparently once said - if you don't like the heat...  And we have ALL read books that drove us nuts. The difference is, that as authors, we'd be morons to commit career suicide by dissing books we don't like. I suspect if we weren't authors, however, but were readers who didn't write, that we might be submitting the odd snarky review on Amazon or goodreads or iBooks ourselves. Maybe. 
Okay, on to the reviews. While they were all good (and some were great) several raised issues with the story. For example one couldn't see how the relationship went from like to love. Another was so over the mega-rich hero. Another couldn't see why on earth Robyn would push for Jack to see his toxic/bad family. Whereas others just loved the whole thing. This is why I opted out of English Lit at university because analysis does my head in. It is so subjective that I wonder, what is the point writing essays on someone's poem beyond making you think? And frankly, I do enough over thinking everyday as it is... Most of it rubbish, but there you go... I figure that you either like something or you don't.
Yet there are folks who could analyse a haiku to death.  One could, of course, overthink just why it is I don't like analysing - I'm a woman girl  female and should I choose to, I could indeed spend an inappropriate amount of time analysing the desire not to analyse.
That reminds me of this funny I saw on Facebook a while ago. Love it!

Anyway, here are some of the reviews. You can find them in their entirety, as well as reviews for the other authors in the set, on AMAZON: These are mostly good but a mixed bag:

A sweet story – Jack and Robyn knew of each other growing up and run into each other as adults where they discover roles have reversed to a certain extent. When Jack discovers that he has a son he never knew about, he turns to Robyn for help. The story is more about relationships and personal growth with elements of attraction and love woven through. I like both Jack and Robyn and the growth curve they each experienced, but I didn’t really connect with either of them.

"Falling for Jack" flowed in a way I wasn't expecting in a good way. This sweet-style romance follows, newly-single Jack and single mom Robyn. While they weren't friends when they know each other in their small town, both are interested in reacquainting, especially when Jack needs Robyn's help with his new-to-him son. I enjoyed this gentle story even though it wasn't my preferred style of romance.

This is a sweet story with great character building. A story of life, circumstance and family. A story of children and hope. My first time reading Joanne Hill – won’t be my last!

Falling For Jack is such a good story. It completely pulled me in emotionally. It starts off with a cheating scandal and both the hero and heroine feeling rejected on many levels. All of the characters have endearing qualities. During a particular scene in the story I felt so sad for Jack's son that I had to take a pause because I started to get that lump in my throat and teared up. Without giving anything away it's just a good read.

Pretty good, complex plot and interesting characters, although I can do without the multi-millionaire hero theme - did I already mention that? Some interesting characters, and a few no-so-realistic decisions & scenarios, but they kept the plot moving forward. (James & Ruby & Eric)

I really enjoyed Falling for Jack! (5 Stars) The plot of this book was a little predictable, but so much fun to read. I LOVED the relationship between the children and the storyline with Jack’s son was heartbreaking and bittersweet.

Falling For Jack: 4 stars. This was a very good contemporary romance. Ms Hill brought all the personalities and insecurities out in the characters making them more realistic. Jacks world was coming apart when he ran into Robyn at a function he attended. He was drawn to her and wasn't sure why. He was struggling with relationship problems. Robyn is the mother of 4 year old twins and gave up going to medical school in order to raise her children alone. She is also trying to start up a children's clothing line to build a business and security for her family. She has a strong desire to help Jack so she does... I look forward to reading more of Ms Hill' s books in the future.

Second Chance at love novel dealing with Jack, a self made man with a rough past and Robyn, a girl with a once bright future who now waits tables to support her twins. They knew each other in high school and now fate and necessity has brought these two together and given them a chance at a HEA. This story packs a lot of feeling without descending to too many clich├ęs along the way.

Falling for Jack-I loved this book. The characters had depth and grew as the story progressed. Robyn and Jack fell in love slowly. The story had some unexpected turns but the characters reacted to situations realistically-something I like in a book. I liked how Robyn and Jack were both independent and strong characters but also able to accept each other’s help and comfort when they needed it. The kids brought a serious element to Robyn and Jack’s relationship and it was endearing how Jack was unsure of himself around Ruby and James (Robyn’s children) but also willing to try. They relationship between Jack and his own son, Eric seemed realistic to me. At first, Eric was quiet and timid. He warmed up to Robyn much faster but in the end they developed a trust and love. The story was not what I expected when I read the first few lines of this book (in a good way). I didn’t want it to end. Overall, it was a sweet love story not just between Jack and Robyn but their families.

Cute story hut I didn't really "feel" the connection. Jack and Robyn grew up in the same town though they never really hung out. They run into each other and Jack asks her to play nanny to the child he didn't know he had. The writing itself was good. Decent plot. Not enough interaction between the main characters for me. I liked them both but never felt the connection that led from them liking to loving each other. I would definitely give another title a shot.

I enjoyed the way Robyn had a dream and no no one or nothing was going to stop her. Her twins were the most important part of her life. Jack was a good man who wanted to do right by his son. I found it refreshing that Jack didn't let a major misunderstanding keep him from going after what he wanted. That being said, I can't imagine anyone trying to keep their toxic family in their life like Jack did. Or that Robyn, who knew about his past, would urge him to introduce his son to his family. 3 Stars

In another story about a surprise child being left with a bachelor, "Falling for Jack" by Joanne Hill, the wealthy hero must take care of the son he didn’t know he had when he’s sent to visit him for mysterious reasons (that I guessed right away). Jack has just happened to run into Robyn Taylor, a principal’s daughter whom he remembers from their high school. He finds out that she hadn’t fulfilled her academic promise when she had twins. So, of course, he asks her to help watch his son. And, of course, they fall in love while he learns to be a father. Although the plot is quite similar to Melting Into You, this is different enough and well written enough that most readers won’t mind the plot similarities.