How Observant Are You?


I’m not very observant! How do I know this? It was brought home to me one day, many moons ago, while out shopping on my own.

Minding my own business walking to the next shop I wanted to visit in the high street of a busy town, a lady with a clip-board and pen blocked my progress and spoke to me.

“Tell me everything you’ve just seen and what you think just happened,” she said, her pen poised ready to record my answers.

“Pardon?” I was stopped in my tracks and taken aback by this interruption out of the blue. “What do you mean?” I was now on my guard as I didn’t know what was happening and why this strange woman was asking me these odd questions. My mind was occupied by the items I’d just seen and the possibility I might find a better match to my requirements in the next store.

Raising a well-defined arched eyebrow, she continued, “You must have seen the man in a mask running out of that shop and heading off down the street.” She gave me a quizzical, unbelieving look as she pointed in the direction the man had taken.

I didn’t have a clue what she was going on about, but she went on to explain they were staging a robbery to test how observant passers-by were. I’m afraid I failed miserably. I never even saw the man, nor heard the shocked gasps of other shoppers who had seen him. I just stood there feeling such a fool.

It did teach me a lesson though and I’m much more aware of my surroundings nowadays when I’m out and about. This was in the days before mobile phones. Now people are texting while out and about, I wonder how  many of them would actually see an incident happening around them.

Have you ever missed something you should have seen? Tell me about it.

 

 

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Finding the Holy Grail of writing


Yes, we all have the same problem. In my case, hubby is home 24/7 with me and wants my company. he really doesn’t like me going into a different room with the laptop, but being in the same room, the lounge, means the TV is usually on. I have trouble now getting in the writing zone.

Ramblings from a Writer's Mind

41530671_446651229159319_7854224569849085952_n - CopyMany, if not all authors know writing is never straight forward; I am not talking about the technical aspects or grammar, but about finding the time to write when your mind is focused, when it is in the ‘zone’ for ‘that part’ of your story.

The Holy Grail of writing is when your thought processes are at a peak and you have the time, the undisturbed, uninterrupted time, to transcribe your contemplations cohesively into your manuscript.

Finding this Holy Grail has been an elusive search for me over the last year or so, regarding the novel I am currently working on.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not speaking of writer’s block, that is something I do not suffer. It is also nothing to do with finding the time; I have written and published three books in the past year and I am working on three more as I write…

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Will My Determination Pay Off?


As an author, the million dollar question is how do you get more people to read your books without giving them away free.

I’ve read about some authors who spend tens of thousands of pounds promoting their book, and I’m pretty sure it must glean some sales for them. For me, however, that’s an impossible dream. I don’t have the means for paid promotions and here’s why.

I was a full-time, stay-at-home mum until my children were in their teens. My parents and my parental-in-laws worked, so if I wanted a job there was no alternative, I had to pay for childcare. I did try going out to work a couple of times to supplement what my husband brought home, but childcare expenses took three quarters of my take-home pay. Yes, that’s correct. I was left with less than a quarter of my net pay by the time I’d paid my travel expenses.

When my youngest was thirteen and I was forty, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to increase our financial stability. I decided to attend college and aim for the qualifications I should have acquired at school. Although I’d won a scholarship at the age of thirteen and attended a grammar school, I’d hated it and left before taking the final exams.

So, there I was in my forties, having passed the qualifications I needed for the social studies university degree I was just starting. Life never turns out as you expect, though, and just as I was embarking on this heady ambition, the health of both my parents was deteriorating.

At first, whilst studying, I began caring for them on a small scale, like doing their shopping and cleaning their home once a week. I had almost completed the first year of my degree and was loving it when I accidentally left all my notes in the library. When I went back for them, they’d gone and nobody had seen them. This left me devastated as I’d put in a lot of work over that year. I was wondering how I’d revise for my end of year exams without them. That’s when life dealt an even bigger, life-changing blow. A couple of days later, my husband suffered a serious heart attack which left him unable to walk even a few steps, he couldn’t even make it to the front gate.

Now we were in financial trouble! Unwilling to leave my husband unattended for fear of another heart attack, I gave up my studies to care for him. That was a frightening time. On top of worrying about his health, we were also concerned we had no income coming in. It was six long weeks before my husband received his first sickness benefit payment. He’d been a self-employed taxi driver so couldn’t claim anything from an employer. We did get some back pay too but, as they pay in arrears, we were still missing a couple of weeks payment. Re-assessing the necessities of life meant we were just about able to manage on this reduced income. Luckily, we had no debts apart from the mortgage and car, and the car was covered by insurance so that was a blessing.

The consultant told my husband to do nothing, just sit in his chair. He said if he gave up smoking he may live up to another ten years. As he was only forty-three at the time, this was shocking news for us. He threw away his cigarettes that day and never smoked again. He was determined to prove them wrong so he started to walk a few steps. Little by little, he increased the distance he walked, trying a few yards further each day. Soon he was going outside with the dog, and each day he’d aim for another lamp post, a bit further on. He still got angina, but would stop, wait until it subsided, then start walking again.

Just as he was managing to cope with his illness, we had some bad news. My husband’s mother, confined to a wheelchair because she suffered with rheumatoid arthritis, rang us. Her partner had gone to hospital with a severe nose-bleed and they’d kept him in. She was alone in her bungalow with no-one to care for her. My husband was her only child so we began caring for her. Sadly, within a few weeks, we had to give her the news her partner had died in hospital. He’d developed cancer and had ignored the symptoms. Within six weeks she too had died. She’d had an appointment to see about a blood clot in her thigh, but the hospital had re-scheduled the appointment for a later date. It was too late.

In time, my parents needed more care, so we began giving them more attention in their own home. After we’d been caring for them over twenty years and they were in their middle nineties, it became too difficult for us to carry on looking after them like that. They both went together into a nursing home where they eventually died within a few months of each other in 2012.

By this time, I was aged sixty-six, too old to re-plan the career I’d set my heart on. I did have another dream though. I resumed writing stories, something I’d done in my twenties when our boys were small. So far, I’ve written and published two thrillers and helped my mum with her autobiography. I’d encouraged her to write it while looking after her, then put her notes together into book form and edited it. I also added lots of referenced family history end-notes in the back pages before publishing it. Now, my one regret is that I don’t have the income to promote the books like some other authors do.

So what can I do to help sell more of my books?

I already spend several hours each day on social media co-promoting with other authors and building a fan base as I have with my website, but sales are slow. I guess I’ll just have to lower my expectations unless you can suggest other free ways of getting my books out there without giving them away free. After spending my life doing unpaid ‘work’, it’s about time I was paid for my work, don’t you think?

By the way, hubby’s determination paid off. It’s over 30 years since his heart attack. He still needs a four-way bypass,  but surgeons won’t do it as he has a completely blocked carotid artery making surgery too risky. Looking at him, you’d think he was fine. He copes really well and is enjoying life to the full. It just shows what determination can do. Now, if I can just apply that determination to my book sale efforts, maybe things will work out.

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Guest Post; Grant Leishman


Here is a fellow author’s thoughts on what he misses most about New Zealand now he’s an ex-pat.

So where's the snow?

Picture

Grant  (here with his wife, Thess)  As an fellow ex-pat, I was interested to hear about his new life. The booky links are at the bottom for his work!

Do you miss New Zealand? If so what in particular?

Perhaps I should feel guilty, but the truth is I don’t miss a lot about New Zealand at all, except for people, especially my son, who I haven’t seen now for over eight years. Excitingly, though, he is scheduled to come here next February, so we’re all hyped up about that. I remember before I came here, sitting in my lounge in Gore, in a freezing, winter southerly and saying to my son; “what person in their right mind would choose to live in a freezing, god-forsaken, hell-hole of a place, like this?” From time to time, when the temperature becomes too hot for me here, I wistfully long for one…

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An actual account of life in Wigan at the time of George Orwell’s study!


ELIZABETH (ALKER) SMITH 1918 – 2012 – AN ORDINARY WOMAN LIVING IN EXTRAORDINARY TIMES.

 

 

During the Great Depression, in the same 1936 year George Orwell was conducting his social study in Wigan, Lancashire,  Elizabeth, just 18, discovered she was pregnant. She was an unmarried, only child, and this unfortunate news came after a traumatic few years when she’d lost all her close family members apart from her mum. Elizabeth’s situation was exacerbated by the fact her mum, Ellen, had also been ill for several years. Ellen was suffering severe breathing problems due to inhaling in the fibres prevalent in the Lancashire cotton mill where she worked.

 

Knowing she would die prematurely due to her poor health, Elizabeth’s mum dearly hoped her daughter would marry the young man from Liverpool she’d been courting, especially now she was with child.  Fulfilling her request, Elizabeth and her young man, George Smith, from Liverpool, married right away. After their marriage, Elizabeth moved to Liverpool where her husband had found them lodgings. At last, she felt protected, less vulnerable should the worst happen to her mum.

She didn’t feel bad about leaving her mum in Wigan because she was not on her own. Her mum had taken in George’s family as lodgers a few years earlier when, due to the economic depression, George’s father had found difficulty obtaining work in Liverpool. He soon found a job in Wigan, and his wife and three other teenagers got on so well with Elizabeth’s mum, they all became really good friends.

Life seemed settled for both Elizabeth and her mum until just two short years later, a few weeks after Elizabeth’s twentieth birthday, her mum finally lost her battle for life. As if that tragedy wasn’t enough, eighteen months later, Elizabeth’s young husband, George, had to leave her when WW2 was declared. Now, she was totally alone except for her young child, in a strange, war-threatened city . She’d never felt so utterly bereft.

From her own autobiography, see how she fares in the war torn city of Liverpool on her own. Rooted in tragic events, her story also has lots of humour. Told in her own words, you’ll marvel at how her soldier husband got lodgings for her as he was stationed in various places around the country. Her experiences with the various landladies wasn’t always pleasant, but a wonderful family in Cambridgeshire became her surrogate family for a while. So much so, she stayed on with them while her husband moved elsewhere. She even put her young son in school there and found a job for herself. Those were brilliant times and you’ll laugh at her exploits in the jam factory where she had some memorable moments.

She was just an ordinary woman living in extra-ordinary times. A true-life story with a tragic start, yet it becomes rib-tickling funny in places. Why not give this autobiography a try?

For family historians with Lancashire ancestors, why not delve into this today? There are several back pages of referenced end-notes with linked family trees and many Lancashire surnames. GET YOUR COPY NOW!

myBook.to/WiganPier

#Lancashire #FamilyHistory #autobiography

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Those Dreaded Words – “You Need to Diet!”


“I’m on a diet”.  How often we hear these words spoken nowadays, yet as a nation we’re all becoming increasingly heavier.

Could we be the victims of faulty reasoning? When we hear the word “diet” we automatically think of all the things we can’t eat; cakes, biscuits, crisps, chocolate, ice cream, puddings, pastries and sauces, and our hearts sink.  Automatically, we are doomed to failure since it’s impossible to keep depriving ourselves forever from the things we love to eat.

Most of us have been on a diet more than once.  We start our new regime enthusiastically enough; proudly refusing to eat all of the above during the first couple of weeks when our weight loss is at its highest peak.  Just a few short weeks or months down the line, however, when the rate we lose weight seems to slow right down or even stop, we’re ready to give in when tempted by the foods we love but know we shouldn’t eat.

No wonder we fail! Gradually we slip back into eating these foods from “Just one won’t hurt me” to eating them on a daily basis. Yet, maybe it’s our perception of “diet” that’s causing our failure to lose weight. “Diet” used to generally mean the sum total of what an individual generally ate.  It did not relate to foods an individual was banned from eating, only to those foods available to an individual owing to geographical and social constraints.  Everybody has a diet, not only those who wish to lose weight.

 

If we were to abandon this negativity and spend our time more positively; striving to eat more of the healthier foods, we would probably find ourselves gradually losing weight anyway. Packing in the recommended daily minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables can be quite filling, even more so now it’s been upped to seven portions. Add to this eating more nuts, seeds, whole grains and pulses and we’d soon find our appetites fully satisfied, especially when we realize there’s no maximum recommendation. We can eat as much as we want of these types of food and it’s good for us.  Stop buying specially prepared diet meals and seek out the huge variety of exotic fruits and vegetables displayed in supermarkets nowadays. Prepare more of your own meals and be inventive when cooking. Try alternative methods of cooking that use less fat, or fruit instead of sugar. Bake with whole wheat flour and sugar substitutes incorporating lots of fruit.

Once our mentality changes from “can’t have” to “must eat more of ….” The urges will lessen, especially once we’ve told ourselves no foods are forbidden.  Yes, we can have the odd piece of chocolate or whatever we fancy, just make it a small portion only once in a while of foods high in calories.  When we know we can have it whenever we want it, we stop needing it so urgently.  We may even find with our new healthier eating habits, the urges for unhealthy stuff diminishes. Wouldn’t that be great!

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A Cautionary Tale – Should Children have more Freedom?


Looking through my family photographs set me thinking about the differences between my childhood, many years ago, and the play experiences of children today.


 

When I was young, in the 1950s, there was far more freedom for children. Many women still had the jobs they’d taken on during the second world war when there was a shortage of men, so they were not stay-at-home mums. The term latchkey children was in common use then, and I was one of those children.

At the age of five when I first started school, I wore our front door key around my neck, so I could let myself in the house when school finished.  My brother, older by two years, was supposed to watch out for me, but often got distracted by his friends wanting to play with marbles. At that young age, I often made my own way home, including crossing a busy road which was one of the main arteries from the city centre to the outskirts. Apart from dodging the traffic, you also had to be careful you didn’t trip on the tram lines. For trams were the mode of public transport in those days.

Some schools provided after school clubs and my brother and I enrolled in one that wasn’t too far away. Usually, quite a few activities were held at the same time and you could just join in a game or leave at any time. One day, I made a ‘plaster plaque of a country cottage and painted it with the paints provided.  At other times I played draughts, chess, or hoopla. Then there were the team games held in the large assembly hall. You know the type of game I mean, the one where everyone stands in a line and passes a large ball between their legs. When it reaches the last child, they run to the front of the line. The first team to finish is the winner.

They even held a film show on Fridays. You had to sit on the floor as no chairs were provided, but we didn’t mind. I experienced my first kiss from a boy at the film show. We were only about six and, after he’d kissed me, I wiped my lips with the back of my hand. I’m not sure I liked it then.

During school holidays, we were left to our own devices for most of the day as both my mum and dad worked full-time. The days were long but, somehow, we managed to occupy ourselves.

Often we took a bottle of water to the park with some jam sandwiches. We called them ‘corporation pop’ and ‘jam butties’. We made them ourselves as we were quite independent. We’d spend all day there, playing games. Sometimes we’d watch people rowing the boats they hired, or stare in amazement at the fish some men managed to catch in the lake. After that we’d head to the smaller lake and watch the men controlling perfect model boats by remote controls. Our public parks in Liverpool were really fantastic then.

Street games were hugely popular in those days. Girls often played alone with two balls against a wall, or in a group using a skipping rope, chanting as they skipped.

Another street game was a type of hide and seek but, Instead of finding a place to hide, the person hiding could move about evading the seeker. You weren’t confined to one street, either, but could use several streets. This game did last for hours sometimes. We called it Alalleyo, but other areas had  different names for it and often had slightly different variations on the rules.

One advantage of the freedom was that we learned early on to share, to fit in, and to respect others. Children who spend a great deal of their time indoors on computer games are often late in learning these social skills. However, we also faced danger.

On more than one occasion I found myself in risky situations. Sometimes they were my own doing, but at other times It was someone else who posed the threat.

One time I was walking on top of a high circular wall surrounding a monument. There was a circular bench around most of the inner curve and we could stand on that and climb onto the top of the wall. As I walked around the top I noticed half of the curve overhung the River Mersey, but I fearlessly carried on my balancing act all the way around it. When I think of it now and how I could have easily toppled into the water, I feel quite sick.

On a couple of occasions when I was still quite young, I stumbled into the vicinity of unsavoury men. One ran a printing shop and some children dared me to ask if he had any paper off-cuts for drawing on. I had no idea he had a reputation with children. When I entered the shop, I did notice a poster with the letters of the alphabet all formed with nude figures. As soon as I saw it, I legged it out of the shop without asking for the paper.

Another time, I was in the park with my friend. It wasn’t a park for swings and slides, but rather a horticultural park, with a boating lake and a fishing lake. A huge drive ran all around it. We were near the drive on our way home when a car stopped near us. Winding down his window, the driver called us over. Hesitantly,  we went a few steps closer but, as we neared, he opened an x-rated magazine, pointed to an indecent, nude picture of a woman and told us he was looking for her. Of course we turned and ran away as fast as could. Thankfully, he didn’t follow.

The third incident I encountered was far more dangerous. When I was aged nine, I was walking home from the swimming baths with a friend. It was winter and the daylight had faded in the late afternoon when we left the baths. A shortcut, through a small parcel of wasteland always shortened our journey. Houses had formerly stood on that plot, but they’d been bombed down a few years earlier. The explosions had reduced the ground to rubble, broken glass, and bits of roof slate, but over time, grass had struggled to intermingle with the wreckage. Suddenly, we were thrown to the ground by two young men aged about eighteen or nineteen. The one sitting on me and pinning me down, held a knife to my throat. I had no idea what he intended, but I had a strong feeling it was wrong. He was demanding I remove my knickers. Although I couldn’t see because of the dim light and the position I was in, I knew the same thing was happening to my friend as I could hear her pleading with the other man to get off her.

Out of the gloom, not too far away, I could see another figure approaching us. Although I didn’t believe it and was just playing for time, I told our attackers it was my dad who had come looking for us. Miraculously, as the figure drew closer, I saw it was my dad. I could hardly believe it. He did manage to grab one of our assailants and drag him to the park watchman’s hut, where he was held until the police came. My dad was advised to take me to our doctor’s surgery and I do remember going there. Amazingly, the doctor told my dad I hadn’t been touched. He advised him to take me home and tell me about the fact of life.

I have no idea what happened to the man who my dad caught, and as the incident was many years ago, I began to wonder if I’d remembered it accurately. More than fifty years after the event, I mentioned it to my dad, asking him if that really happened and he agreed it had.

So you see, I’m all for children being protected more nowadays. We do need to keep them safe. However, we need to find more creative ways to teach them the social skills needed for later life. Don’t you agree?

 

 

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A Great Compliment? No, it’s a Put-down


 

We always had great fun with our oldest granddaughter when she was little. Her mum went back to work when she was six months old and we looked after her two days a week from 7.30am until 5.30pm. We left our household chores on those days to spend the time playing with her and taking her out.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time spent with her and often played games such as ‘The farmer’s in his den’, using her doll, rabbit and teddy for the wife, child, and dog characters in the game. Sometimes, we’d dance around the dining table to the song ‘Hey, Mickey’.

As we were then in our sixties, she exhausted us, but it created some wonderful memories. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss those times for anything even though we were also caring for my elderly parents at the same time.

When she was 10-year-old, our granddaughter told her granddad he was ‘COOL’. As his chest was swelling with pride she qualified her statement by saying, “yes cool, Constipated – Overweight – Overrated – Loser”. It was instant deflation on his part. Good job it was only a joke! She has a great sense of humour.

We’re so pleased we spent time with her when she was so young. Sadly, our other grandchildren live too far away for us to have day to day contact with them.

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An Unusual Holiday Souvenir


 

 

Many years ago, when my children were small, I bought a chunk of land. It is land of great historical importance as it’s the land where William the Conqueror’s army first set foot on English soil. I say a chunk of land, when in fact I mean 100 square centimetres. No, don’t laugh! I own a plot of land 4″ x 4″ square and I have an overwhelming urge to put a plaque or flag on it.

It all began in 1981 when I was on a caravan holiday at Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset, with my husband and three sons. I was looking through a souvenir shop for something to take home as a reminder of the time we spent there, when I spotted it. They were selling a plot of land for only £1.00. Yes, One British pound!

At first, I didn’t know how big, or should I say tiny, the plot of land was but nevertheless, I was interested anyway.

This land was part of Anderita Park, very close to Pevensey Castle, in Sussex. The shopkeeper told me that the land had been split into tiny parcels and sold up and down the country, so no-one would know who owned the land. This meant it could never be built upon.

Well, I thought, so what if it’s not genuine? The paperwork was worth that amount of money and it was something different to show everyone at home. The documents are quite impressive. Despite the colourful official deeds, everyone laughs when I show them my souvenir. I’m thinking of getting it framed purely as a talking point.

What unusual things have you brought home from holiday? I’d love to know.

 

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Is Our Obsession With Appearance Ruining Relationships?


Appearance

Most of us like to look our best for special occasions, like parties, weddings, and Christmas. We believe our looks dictate how others see us and we’ll sometimes go to extreme lengths to improve our appearance and prevent our looks from fading. This line of thought has spawned a huge, billion-pound beauty industry and it is often claimed this trend has gone too far.

Most parts of our body can be altered by surgery or exercise,  Our skin can be peeled and plumped, teeth improved and whitened, and our eyesight corrected with laser surgery so we don’t have to wear glasses. These are only a few treatments and procedures available, and while some people have achieved a slightly more youthful look by employing these methods, others have not. A great deal depends on the skill of the surgeon. They don’t all have the same skills.

While some facial procedures may show an improvement in appearance, we should be aware that as we age, there are certain features of the body that can’t be improved successfully. No matter how trim our body or how improved our facial features, the way an older person stands, moves, bends, walks, sits, lies down, or runs (if they still can), will instantly give their age away.

Fitness

Many individuals try to combat the ageing of their bodies by exercising it. Keeping your body active is often advertised as the best way to keep our bodies young and fit for longer, but professionals argue over how much exercise we should be doing. Some enthusiastic individuals pack in as much exercise as they possibly can, but could be doing more harm than good. Many doctors now believe short periods of moderate exercise are best for us.

Regardless of how much exercise we do though, have you ever seen an older person, dancing or running. We can’t get away from the fact that age is a dead giveaway when you look at the moving body. Is it futile then to try to stave off the effects of time on our looks?

Attitude

While it does feel good to be looking your best, we humans should aim to be  more than just something lovely to look at. When we interact or build relationships with others, we expect far more than someone who worries all the time about every line or wrinkle, or whether their eyebrows or eyelashes need a treatment. We are complex humans and as such, we have many sides to our personalities. Others warm to us because of who we are rather than how we look.

Think of people you know who have some of the following characteristics, and how you feel about them. Is it true you can be drawn to people with certain character traits even if they are not particularly good looking?

positive or negative attitude

inquisitive or disinterested

thirst for learning new things or contented with how things are

Enjoy the company of others or we are a loner

a giver or a taker

independent or dependent

An honest person or dishonest person

friendly or unfriendly

non-confrontational or argumentative

peace-keeping or disruptive

This list is only part of who we are as individuals. Our attitudes make up the largest part of who we are and have a far greater impression on people we meet than how we look. Someone who offers us a kind word when we’re feeling low makes a far greater impression on us than the aloof beauty who doesn’t even notice how we’re feeling.

Those who have had all the expensive beauty treatment may well look prettier than those who haven’t, but living life to the full is far more than looking pretty. It’s joining in and giggling madly when everyone’s having a snowball fight without worrying about your facial lines getting deeper if you laugh hysterically. It’s grabbing the ball your child threw at you, or pulling the sleigh without fearing your expensively manicured nails will break.

Life is meant to be lived, not spent in the beauty parlour.

 

 

 

 

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Is This the End of Free Facebook Book Promotions?


The Facebook changes effective from August 2019 will make most unpaid book promotions less effective. Bots are on the lookout for more post engagement. We already know that book promos which just show buy links and a book related image do not attract much engagement. From tomorrow, posts with little or no engagement will be shown to fewer people. The same will happen if posts contain words such as: sale, offer, reduced, buy, free, price, unless of course they are paid adverts. Therefore, authors will have to become a lot more creative with their promotion posts to fool the bots. Our posts should be more informative regarding the story rather than just ‘buy my book, it’s on offer today’.

Not surprisingly, posts with lots of engagement will be shown to a wider audience, and many authors are advising we need to react, share, and comment a lot more.

HOWEVER, DON’T THINK THAT BECAUSE YOU’RE INCREASING YOUR OWN ENGAGEMENT ON THE POSTS YOU SEE, YOUR POSTS WILL BE VIEWED BY A LARGER AUDIENCE. THEY WONT!

For your audience to be increased, others have to connect and interact with YOUR posts. Now you can see how difficult this will be.

In my experience, too many people are willing to take rather than give, and while many are happy to pay it forward, others will happily let them without reciprocating in any form whatsoever. You can’t force people to interact with your posts, so eventually, with no payback, the ones doing all the interacting will slowly diminish.

I don’t know what we can do to overcome this. Hopefully, others will have solutions to the problem of how to successfully promote our books for free on Facebook. I do hope so!

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CAN FACEBOOK WORK FOR YOU?


Small businesses and self-employed people like authors, artists, and craft-workers depend on social media for getting the word out about their products. However, if their posts are only seen by a small number of people, they are wasting their time and energy producing posts few will actually see.
FACEBOOK IS NOW TELLING US WHAT IT WANTS IN ORDER FOR US TO OBTAIN A WIDER REACH.
 
If we go to INSIGHTS on our page, we see a REACH tab.
Click this and THE FIRST IMAGE you will see is a rough estimate of the number of people who had your Page’s posts on their screen sometime during the day. This gives the figures for the last 28 days.
 
THE SECOND IMAGE shows you how many people have recommended your page in the last 28 days.
 
THE THIRD IMAGE shows the reactions, comments, and shares your posts have attracted in a graph. Facebook actually states there, “These actions will help you reach more people”. So, the size of your audience depends on the reactions of OTHER PEOPLE and that’s the crux of the problem. How do you get other people to react positively to your post?
In my experience, if you interact with other users by liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts, they are more likely to do the same for you. THEREFORE, THIS INTERACTION AND ENGAGEMENT WITH OTHERS IS THE KEY TO WIDENING OUR REACH.
 
THE FOURTH IMAGE gives the different REACTIONS to our posts. When people react by giving emojis such as like, love, wow, and ha-ha, Facebook’s algorithms sit up and take notice. However, giving angry emojis could cause the post to be shown less. Facebook want users to be happy and satisfied with what they see. So do act positively if you can towards others.
 
In contrast, THE FIFTH IMAGE shows how NEGATIVE REACTIONS by others can cause Facebook to show your posts to fewer people. If someone reports your post as spam, hides, or un-likes your post, it will decrease the number of people who see it.
We can all help ourselves a little here by doing as they suggest and interacting POSITIVELY with others more frequently. It certainly won’t do us any harm to try.
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The Joy of Reading


Joy of Reading

The wonderful gift of sight! Use it to read more.

For starters: try one of these:
‘Tissue of Lies’ – A psychological thriller. myBook.to/TOL
‘Your Last Breath’ – A chilling thriller. myBook.to/YourLastBreath

 

You won’t be disappointed!

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Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine June 2019


Mom's Favorite Reads

Published today, the June issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine, our retro issue!

Highlights include:

* An exclusive interview with Blue Peter legend Peter Purves

* Travel articles about Ireland and Athens

* Mediation

* Barbecue ideas

* An exclusive interview with rock duo Fleesh

*Life on an oil rig, and so much more

Read or download your FREE copy here!

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Amazon’s Early Reviewer program: you might get paid a small amount to write an Amazon review — I Love My Kindle


Amazon’s Early Reviewer program: you might get paid a small amount to write an Amazon review Thanks to long time reader and commenter Lady Galaxy for calling my attention to the Amazon’s Early Reviewer program (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) Customer reviews are clearly important to Amazon. Honestly, it’s one […]

via Amazon’s Early Reviewer program: you might get paid a small amount to write an Amazon review — I Love My Kindle

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My Least Favourite Shakespeare Play


WordyNerdBird

The reference to Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in the title of ‘A Rose By Any Other Name’ is blatantly obvious. 

The irony is that ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is probably my least favourite play from among Shakespeare’s works. As I often explain to my students who think it’s romantic and all about love, it’s really not. It’s a tragedy that demonstrates what happens when people do stupid things on impulse and don’t stop to think about the consequences of their actions.

They’re teenagers. They met on Sunday, and by Thursday, they’re dead.

And, as Shakespeare points out in the epilogue, they end up that way because their families both prioritise their stupid feud over the happiness and the future of their children.  How much more like a badly plotted teenage soap opera could it be?

It’s more of an anti-Romance, if you ask me. They’re not in love, they’re infatuated. Romeo…

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Beware of this Scam


THIS IS A SCAM! DON’T BELIEVE IT.

Yesterday, I received a Facebook message which looked like it came from one of my genuine author ‘friends’ as it had his name and image profile. The message was innocent enough and began, “Hello, how are you doing?”

I replied, “I’m doing great. How are you?”

“Super excited, today.”

“Oh, why is that?” I asked.

He went on to say he’d won the Oz powerball promo and was surprised I wasn’t aware of it. He said they were picking random Facebook users to benefit in their promo. After telling him I’d never heard of the Oz powerball promo, I asked him why he thought I’d be aware of his win, and he told me he’d seen my name and profile image on the list of users and told me to check my e-mails.

I hadn’t received anything from them so he gave me the agent’s name and the Oz powerball promo e-mail address so I could contact them and check.

Suspicious, I searched on Facebook for this author’s name I was familiar with, and several people came up. Two of the profiles were exactly the same and looked as if they belonged to the the author I was familiar with. Tellingly, only one of them said we were Facebook friends. When I clicked on each of the two profiles, I saw the one who wasn’t a ‘friend’ was the one who’d messaged me, so I contacted the other one, the Facebook ‘friend’. Seeing right away there were no messages from him, I messaged him asking if he knew anything about a powerball win. As I’d already guessed, he knew nothing about it.

Please be aware of this scam and take note that not all profiles on Facebook are the genuine person. I’m off to search for my name on Facebook and on Twitter to see if anyone is using my profile. I’d suggest you do the same.

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This ‘English’ Language is not used in England!


Most indie authors, especially the ones at the beginning of their journey, will have received criticism from other writers or editors about their work. It happened to me too.Some writers get really annoyed about it while others will see the criticism as constructive, something they need to take seriously.
In my case, even though I’d had a grammar school education and thought I knew most of the basic rules, I decided to take the editor’s advice and see if I could improve my novel.
Seeking out grammar and writing advice online, I found numerous posts about the subject. Unknowingly, I made the common mistake of using the term ‘English grammar’ in my searches, not realising it gives you both British English and American English results. I wasted lots of time and energy learning the wrong rules before discovering my error. From then on, as I am British, I always made sure I included the words ‘British English’ in my searches for grammar and writing clarification.
If you are a writer, don’t waste your precious time like I did. When searching for writing advice online, do make sure you stipulate which country’s usage of English you’re looking for. It could save you a great deal of time and confusion.
This common language varies so much according to which country is using it, it’s hard to believe. For instance, ‘thong’ in Great Britain is a tiny undergarment whereas in Australia it’s a toe-post sandal. Another curious difference is the word ‘Durex’. In Great Britain it is a brand of sheaf or condom, but in Australia it’s a name for sticky tape. What differences in language have you come across?
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It’s a Miracle!


 Wedding 11

Our Fifty-Fourth Wedding Anniversary Miracle

Today, we’re celebrating our fifty-fourth wedding anniversary and we are the ones who are most surprised we made it. No, not because we don’t get along, have huge rows, or hate each other’s guts. Our surprise and elation stems from the fact we both prepared for my husband’s death in 1989. For that year and many years later, in fact right up to now, we’ve expected his health to separate us, so making it this far seems like a huge miracle to us.

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My husband was just forty-three when our lives changed forever. One otherwise normal working day, after a short coffee break at home, my husband made himself comfortable in his car ready to continue his day’s work as a private hire taxi driver. As he started the engine, he suffered severe chest pains. Although in agony, he managed to stumble back into the house and phone our GP for help.

We were pretty green then about health matters and didn’t realize what he should have done was phone the emergency number 999 and ask for an ambulance. When he told the receptionist he thought he was having a heart attack, she offered to make him an appointment for three days later. He insisted he needed to see someone immediately but she said she couldn’t fit him in. This was in 1989 when the difficulties with making appointments were not as bad as they are today. I dread to think what happens in emergencies today.

By the time he’d finished speaking to the receptionist and had slammed the phone down in disgust, his pains were subsiding. He knew he’d suffered some major trauma though, so he went to the A&E unit at our nearest hospital. Although the doctors there told him he had to give up work, they never confirmed at that time he’d had a heart attack. They didn’t give him any of the usual procedures which would have shown the condition of his arteries and whether or not he’d suffered a heart attack. Although he regularly saw a hospital consultant, his doctor’s notes then, and for several years afterward, always said hypertension.

This was a really difficult time for us. Unable to even walk up our path to the car, a distance of 25 feet,  my husband was becoming frustrated and demoralized. Another major problem for us was financial.

My husband had always been the earner. Now we had no income apart from the small contribution made by our eldest son.  It was six weeks before we actually received a small allowance from the state although they did refund the back payments later. Every service we’d been paying for at that time, we cancelled. We no longer had newspapers delivered, a window cleaner, nor insurances. We just concentrated on all the things we had to pay, like the mortgage, and utilities. Luckily, the car was covered under the insurance, so we didn’t have to pay for that. Economy lessons learned at that time still guide our lives now.

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Knowing your much-loved partner is seriously ill and could be taken at any moment changes you. I gave up on the career dreams I’d been planning for myself, at least while he was still here. Married in 1965, I’d been a stay-at-home mum until 1985 when, at the age of forty, I returned to college intending to further educate myself. I believed then it was time I resumed work and started contributing to our family income. Two of our three children were still living at home in 1985; they were our eldest  twenty-year-old and our youngest twelve-year-old. I make no excuses for not working during the time my children were at school. We’d brought them into the world and I believed it was my job to raise them.

When my husband fell ill, I felt so scared and worried. I didn’t know how long he’d be with me. The doctor said if he didn’t give up smoking he wouldn’t last six months, so his cigarettes were thrown in the bin the moment he came out of the consulting room. Even after giving up smoking, the consultant said if he lived another ten years he’d be lucky. Whatever time he had left, I wanted to spend it with him. Apart from the emotional need to be together at this time, there was also a practical need. I was afraid to leave him alone in case he had another (unconfirmed) heart attack and couldn’t make it to the phone.

He hardly moved off the chair during those first few months and life settled down around my husband’s illness. Gradually, with the determination to start walking our spaniel again, my husband’s stamina and mobility slowly improved. It started with a few steps further each day, building his strength and confidence bit by bit. It took a few years but, eventually, we were able to get out and about again in the car for limited outings. However, he still couldn’t take a step out of the house without a tablet under his tongue to open up his veins.

Over the first seven years of his regular hospital appointments, my husband was never given any treatment other than tablets to lower his blood pressure plus the usual heart attack prevention drugs like aspirin, statins, and glyceryl trinitrate.

One day, he arrived at the hospital for his usual check up, to find another consultant was standing in for his own doctor who was away on holiday. This new consultant was surprised my husband hadn’t had any of the usual procedures. He immediately arranged these tests which confirmed he had suffered a heart attack. Then he referred him to the specialist heart and respiratory hospital for our area. He also discovered my husband has sleep apnoea. This means he regularly stops breathing when sleeping or reclining. Now he wears a mask connected to a Bi-pap machine whenever he lies down.

Once he was under the designated heart hospital he was looked at properly and the doctors said they could give him a by-pass if he lost weight. The specialist surgeon gave my husband six months to lose the weight, and when he returned at the appointed time, two and a half stone lighter, the doctor gave him a thorough pre-op check. Those tests showed my husband had gone past the point of safe surgery. Not only did he now need a four-way by-pass but the carotid artery on the left side of his neck was completely blocked making the operation too risky. The surgeon couldn’t understand why he hadn’t already had a stroke. They are unable to do anything for him unless it’s an emergency situation; otherwise the risks are too great. The fact he also has sleep apnoea adds to the difficulties of an operation.

So there we have it; at seventy-two years old my husband has survived twenty-nine years after his heart attack, so far, against the odds. He puts it down to his own bloody-mindedness. His body has reacted remarkably to his illness. His heart has developed some extra minor veins to cope with the blood flow, and his carotid artery behaves in a way that astounded the specialist who examined it. Apparently, the one good vein flows in both directions like a motorway, when it should only flow in one direction. She told us she’d never seen that before.

As I see it, my husband and I are extremely lucky to now be celebrating our fifty-four years of marriage.  I hope we go on to see our seventy fifth wedding anniversary as my parents did.

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This is why I see it a miracle that we are still together. I thank my lucky stars we found each other so young; he was only eighteen and I was nineteen when we married. He’s not the biggest romantic in the world, but he’s kind, reliable, loving, and he’s mine. I’ll love him forever.

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