Carol’s ‘Close Up’ today with Author Geraldine Evans!

Carol Bridgestock

I am so lucky today to get the chance to interview the prolific author Geraldine Evans! Let’s see how it’s done shall we?

Geraldine has had twenty novels published–seventeen crime, one contemporary women/suspense, one historical and one romance. She has been plucked from slush piles twice: once by Robert Hale, and once by Macmillan, who took her very first mystery novel, DEAD BEFORE MORNING, and published it in 1993. They sold it in turn to St Martin’s Press in the US and thence on to Worldwide for softcover publication. Not bad for a writer who had endured six long years of rejections for her first six novels. But, admittedly, they had been romances.

 

 

Geraldine Evans

Hello Geraldine! Thank you for agreeing to let our readers to get to know you a little. I am so excited about this interview as I know you also give help and advice to writers too.

What inspired you to write a novel?

Hatred of  the dead-end day jobs. I needed something creatively fulfilling in my life. I’d always been a keen reader, so it seemed as natural as breathing that I’d one day try my hand at writing. Like Colin Dexter, the author of Morse, who one day, during a wet weekend in Wales, read a crime novel that was so bad he thought he could do better. And he did, didn’t he? Well, I had a similar experience, though not until I’d spent years trying to write a romantic novel suitable for the Mills & Boon market. I failed miserably, though Land of Dreams, the last of the six failures, was taken from Robert Hale’s slush pile and published (1991). But then they rejected my next romance.

What’s a girl to do? I felt pretty murderous, so turning to crime seemed the obvious thing. What a difference from my experience of writing romances. Because Dead Before Morning, that very first mystery and the first in my now 15-strong Rafferty & Llewellyn humorous police procedural series, was yet another slush pile pluck. Macmillan published it in 1993. They sold it to St Martin’s Press in the US, who then sold it on to Worldwide for paperback publication.

Who do you admire in the literary world? Who do you consider your mentor?

I don’t know that I consider anyone my mentor. Like a lot of new writers, I struggled on alone while the rejections piled up. I felt unsupported for so long in the literary world. Perhaps if I’d been a middle-class woman, the support would have been there. And the education! Mine was pretty basic and ended at sixteen.

As for who I admire, the writers who come under this banner are the crime writers who can make me laugh while they’re killing people. Like Shakespeare, I do like a bit of comedy amidst the tragedy! So, I have  to say that I admire the late Reginald Hill. Love his Andy Dalziel. That man is so real you can practically smell him! The other writers who have my admiration are Ruth Dudley Edwards, Cynthia Harrod Eagles and Christopher Brookmyre. Amongst American writers, I like Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovitch. If I’m talking about crime novels  that don’t go for the funny bone, I have to say a certain pair of writers called  R C Bridgestock (!), Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, P D James, Ruth Rendell (but only her Wexford novels. Didn’t take to her psychological ones), Dorothy Simpson, June Thomson and Margaret Yorke. I also love historicals and adore the novels of Sharon Penman, Jean Plaidy and Philippa Gregory.

 

Where do you work? Do you have a regular pattern or routine or other?

I used to work in my little office upstairs. But then, when my stepson gave me a second-hand laptop, I moved downstairs (nearer the kettle and the loo). So, as you can imagine, my living room looks a bit of a shambles! Yes, I have a regular pattern. I try to write every day, even if it’s only emails, my blog or comments on some other writer’s blog. At the moment, I’m still concentrating on getting my backlist professionally e-formatted, proofed and uploaded  to Kindle and Smashwords. This has taken some time and my ‘Work in Progress’ (so-called. It’s not ‘progressing’ at all), has had to sit on the back burner for some weeks; a situation compounded by problems with my website. None of my links wanted  to go where they were meant to, but instead went wherever they damn well liked! Nightmare. I was unable to fix the problem and eventually, I knew I had no choice but to abandon my oh-so-carefully created and maintained website of nine years’ standing and hire a professional web site designer.

What are you working on now?

I’m trying to pen another couple of talks. At the moment, I’ve only got one half-hour talk to my name. It was starting to feel lonely, and over-used, hence the attempt to provide it with some company. I’m also still proofing the e-formatting of more of my backlist. Between these two, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of time left for anything else. I’ve really been burning the midnight oil lately, trying to get on top of everything, so I can do what I’m meant to be doing and actually write crime novels. My email inbox is currently up to 1,500 (and counting). A lot of it is tiresome crap. But it still takes time to wade through and delete. I can’t seem to get on top of it at all.

Share something with us that nobody else knows about you.

Ha! Ha! I love the smell of tar and creosote. Better than any perfume. My day is made if I come across some road-works. The hunky men are just a bonus.

Who would you like to share a cup of coffee and a natter with?     

I’d love to meet you and Bob. Watch out. I might just descend on you one day!  As for who I actually do share a coffee with, that would be Chrissie, the neighbour a few doors down, who runs a B and B. We also go out to lunch regularly and go dancing. Altogether, a fun lady.

Oh, bless you! I’m sure one day very soon we will meet in person. :-)

How do you relax?

I’m not one of those people who can just sit and stare into space. I need to do something. Reading’s my usual way to relax. Or watching Mama Mia for the umpteenth time. That’s such a ‘feel good’ film. I love it.

If you won the lottery what would you spend it on?

I  was brought up poor, on a south London Council estate, so I have sympathy for the underdog. I certainly wouldn’t need or want all of the millions. So I’d perhaps divide it and give one half to good causes, not necessarily through licensed charities who often seem to pay their top brass quite extraordinary salaries. Then, I’d give generous hand outs to mine and my late husband’s family. And I  suppose (after having a major spending spree) I’d probably invest the rest. Very boring, I know. Very sensible. Not like the ‘Spend! Spend! Spend! lady.

Are you a savoury or sweets girl?

I’m both. I love mature Cheddar, thin, buttered crackers and silverskin pickled onions. But I’m also a Chocaholic. It’s a good job Chrissie has signed this couch potato up for a local social club, so I do a bit of bopping and get some exercise, or God knows how big I’d become.

What’s your earliest memory?

I’ve got a couple, actually. One is of standing on a box so I could wash the dishes. I’d have been about four. And the other is of me, when I was about five. It was Christmas and I had my first umbrella as a present. It was sunshine yellow and I loved it to bits. Unfortunately, no one had explained to me that it was necessary to put the umbrella down when you went through a door (we had an outside toilet at the time) and my brand new, lovely yellow brolly, broke in the door. I was devastated. Something like that is a major tragedy at five.

What has been your favourite year and why?

It was being ten. Before the painful transition into womanhood began. Before we moved house. Before a lot of things. I was carefree. Only interested in playing games of chase, and marbles and French skipping. It was such an innocent time to be ten. I don’t envy youngsters now, with the pressure on them to be sexual beings. God, my eldest brother was still playing with Meccano when he was fifteen. Such innocent times. I often think my generation was the lucky generation. We were born at a time and young at a time when teenagers had just been ‘invented’! We had the best music. Great fashions. And then you could fall out of a job one week and fall into another the next. And we could actually afford to buy a house without placing ourselves impossibly in hock. And those who had the inclination to go to university were actually paid Grants to do so. Not like nowadays where youngsters have to take on a debt larger than our first mortgage.

What was the last thing you laughed & cried at?

I’m quite a happy person, so I laugh a lot. I laugh easily. I don’t cry easily. I didn’t cry at my darling husband’s funeral. I’ve never been a crier. So the last time I laughed was today (Saturday), when I went dancing with my neighbour’s friend. Great band. Great atmosphere. Cheap drinks (it’s a social club). What more do you want? I had a fab time and laughed a lot at probably quite inconsequential things.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given or best advice you’d give?

They’re the same. Go the ebook route. It’s been a far better earner for me than the traditional publishing one. Now I can afford to go on holiday. Now I can afford to go to writers’ conferences. Now, I can afford all sorts of things, that I never could before. Okay, the vast majority of my income comes from Amazon, which makes me uneasy. I don’t like having all my eggs in one basket. Of course, I still get royalties from my ex-publisher, as they’ve brought out one of my crime novels as an ebook. And hopefully, will bring out the other two to which they hold the rights as ebooks also. And my earnings through Smashwords are slowly rising as they distribute to Barnes and Noble, Apple and Kobo, etc. And, with Amazon, I get 70% of the sale price of each book (as long as it’s priced between $2.99 and $9.99). All my ex-publisher was offering was 25%, which I gather is pretty common. No contest! So I decided  to part company with my then publisher and go the Indie route. I haven’t regretted it.

What’s your favourite book/film as a child/adult?

I used to love Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. And I liked Tugboat Annie on the television and William Tell. I wasn’t allowed to go to the cinema (though my siblings were. I was the baby of the family). My mother wouldn’t let me go. She said it would ruin my eyesight! Actually, it was getting measles very badly that ruined my eyesight. As an adult, I’m a Harrison Ford fan and loved Frantic and Airforce One. Oh, and I also loved Dirty Dancing. (And Mama Mia, of course). Books, I’ve loved: Sharon Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour. Fabulous book set in the Fifteenth century about the period of the Wars of the Roses. That book still resonates with me. And St Thomas’ Eve by Jean Plaidy, about St Thomas More. The crime novel I still remember vividly is Christopher Brookmyer’s Quite Ugly, One Morning. Oh, how that book made me laugh. Terrific. Heartily recommend all of them.

Who was the most famous person you have worked with and what were they really like?

I don’t actually know any famous people. Until I went the epublishing route, I couldn’t afford to go anywhere. Though I am Twitter friends with Val McDermid, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Mark Billingham. And you and Bob. :-)

Do you think doing the work you did has an impact on what you write and how you write it?

Undoubtedly. As does my working-class background. I couldn’t imagine writing about an educated, middle-class, copper, not ever having lived that lifestyle. That’s why I invented DI Joe Rafferty. I wanted a main character who reflected the reality of the average Joe. Most police officers are still working-class and far from over-educated. I wanted to depict that.

The prized possession valued above all others?

I don’t know if you’d call it a ‘possession’. But I have to say it’s my ability to persist in the face of rejection. It’s that ability that brought me up and enabled me to get twenty novels published (though, admittedly, the last two, Kith and Kill, my fifteenth in the Rafferty series and The Egg Factory, a standalone Contemporary/Suspense novel set in the world of the infertile, I published myself).

The unqualified regret you wish you could amend?

Not realising how important education is. Though, of course, it’s never too late to amend that and, periodically, I have stabs at it. I was a late developer and far more interested in winning Jimmy Smith’s fourer marble  than I was in passing tests, hence the 11+ failure and the Secondary Modern ‘education’ (sic). But I’ve spent my life educating myself. At the moment, I’m re-learning the keyboards, which I originally taught myself about fifteen years ago and let slide. This time I’ve got myself a music teacher. I’m also having a refresher course in driving as I became horribly rusty and lacking in confidence. It’s going well, I’m pleased to say.

The way you would spend your fantasy 24hrs, with no restrictions?

I’d have a pied-ā-terre in London and Paris. And go to see all the shows I’ve never seen. The Mousetrap and Cats and Les Miserables. All of them. And I’d have tea at The Ritz. And an after theatre dinner at The Ivy. With Harrison Ford. And then we’d retire to the plush suite with the four-poster and hot and cold waiter service. And then we’d make mad, passionate love. Hope Harrison is up for it…! Not to mention up to it (as he’s no spring chicken).

Les Mis is our absolute favourite show Geraldine if you haven’t seen it, it’s a must!

The temptation you wish you could resist.

Eating a whole bar of chocolate. I really pig out and am unable to just have a few squares.

The priority activity if you were the invisible woman for a day.

I’d love to sit in on a Cabinet meeting. Just to learn what they talk about and how on earth they come to the decisions they do. Because some of them are unfathomable. I just heard today that they want to scrap The Red Arrows. But what prestige they give our country. God knows, as a nation, we have less and less to be proud of. We invariably feature at the bottom of any European survey. But The Red Arrows are something to make our chests swell. They’re an institution and someone told me they’ve been going since the mid-sixties. It would be criminal to destroy that.

Absolutely! What’s the pet hate that makes your hackles rise?

Idle people who waste their lives living on the State (ie me, the taxpayer). Do they think life’s a rehearsal? To me, life is a precious gift. Not something to be squandered. I tend not to read articles about them and their twenty kids and the outrageous income and accommodation the state provides any more, as it just infuriates me. Not good for the blood pressure. Especially as I can’t do anything about it.

Who is the person who has influenced you the most?

I’m not conscious of any influence. When I came up with the working-class DI Joe Rafferty, I was ploughing my own furrow. Like Frank Sinatra, I did it My Way.

And the figure from history that you’d like to buy a pie and a pint?

There’s so many. But, I think I’d have to plump for Guy Fawkes. I so admire people who take up a worthy cause and pursue it to the bitter end, no matter what the possible consequences. The courage required is awesome.

What is the piece of wisdom you would pass onto a child?

Treat others as you wish to be treated. Such consideration will take you far and make you friends. And we all need friends. And anything worth doing is worth persisting at ‘till you get it right.

Funnily enough that is Bob’s mantra too…

The unlikely interest that engages you curiosity?

Painting. I love doing portraiture. I’m good at getting a likeness, but hopeless at applying the paint. I’m self-taught, you see. But the local Community Centre has advertised art lessons and I’m going to sign up.

Good for you! That sounds amazing. There are so many courses at the local college if only we take the time to seek them out. That’s where we did our ‘Write Your First Novel,’ course.

What is the treasured item you lost and wish you could have again?

My green leather handbag. It was stolen at Streatham ice rink.

The unending quest that drives you on?

To get better at what I do. And to stop ‘telling’, rather than ‘showing’. I’ve been told (by one of my Amazon reviewers), that I’m way too keen on that. And until only the other day, I didn’t know my ‘em’ dash from my ‘en’ dash. Didn’t even know they had names. At school, I was taught about a verb being a ‘doing’ word and nouns being ‘names’. That was about it as far as grammar and sentence construction went.

Which poem touches your soul?

It would have to be the one that goes: ‘…a corner of a foreign field that is forever England.’ I might have got the quote wrong – I haven’t had anything  to do with poetry since I was at school (though the other evening, my writers’ group had a local poet, Phil Barrett, give us a talk, and it was so interesting. An absolute revelation. I didn’t know you could write poetry about everyday things. It was an absolutely marvellous evening and had me sufficiently stimulated to consider ordering the work of some of the poets Phil recommended.

The misapprehension about yourself that you wish you could erase?

I don’t know that there is any misapprehension. Why? What’s the gossip? What have you heard about me?!

Ha ha! No, I’ve never heard any gossip about you Geraldine… but perhaps there is time yet! ;-)

The event that altered the course of your life?

Getting published for the first time. It confirmed for me that I ‘Could do it.’

I agree wholeheartedly. The feeling that someone loves your work as much as you is one to behold.

If you could commit a crime and know you would get away with it what would it be?

I’d probably do a Robin Hood and rob from the rich and give it to the (deserving) poor.

What is the song that means the most to you?

I love sixties’ music. And I love Abba. Sorry. Can’t decide. But somehow, YMCA became me and my late husband’s ‘song’. Can’t remember how that happened!

The happiest moment you cherish?

Going for the first Brighton ‘Dirty Weekend’ with George, my late husband. We had such fun.

How lovely…

The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you?

I want to play keyboards like a professional. I’m currently taking lessons. I’ve advanced as far as chord G7. Long way to go yet.

I always wanted to play the piano … my grandad was said to beable to play by ear and the whole of the street used to open their windows on a Sunday morning to hear him play. I tried but my left hand doesn’t ever seem to work with my right! Took me ages to learn the keyboard skill.

What is the  philosophy that underpins your world?

Be kind. And generous. And encouraging. It’s a hard world out there, but we can make life a little easier for each other by caring and showing consideration.

How would you like to be remembered Geraldine?

By God, she tried! She gave it her all. I don’t want to get to my death-bed and have regrets for all the  things I didn’t do.

Bless you! Come on now tell me about your novels as I’m sure this interview has won you many a reader.

If you like crime novels with a few laughs, you might enjoy mine. DI Joe Rafferty comes from a family who think – if he must be a copper – he might at least have the decency to be a bent one. And when you add the educated, middle-class, more moral than the Pope, DS Dafyd Llewellyn… Consequently, my 15-strong Rafferty & Llewellyn police procedurals give poor Rafferty plenty of angst and the rest of us plenty of laughs as he wends his way through the mires his family create, at the same time as trying to solve murders.

And the links to read more about Geradine Evans and her work are here:-

Blog and Website: http://www.geraldineevans.com

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/120xu2b

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/X3xCIj

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/Vishgx

Kobo: http://bit.ly/112vt86

Apple’s iBookstore: http://bit.ly/Wse8B1

Diesel: http://bit.ly/123MePA

Thanks Geraldine you’ve been terrific and I can’t wait to share that drink with you!

C x

 

 

It’s Thursday! It’s Read’s Ramblings!

Janet Read

 

Watching The World Go By

 

I’m sitting in my car at lunchtime

I’m watching the world go by,

Observing the passing people

Somewhat feeling like a spy!

 

The park across is interesting,

The autumn colours abound

I’m sitting eating my sandwich,

No noise, just peace I’ve found.

 

Many different characters

Parade amongst the park

Whilst dogs investigate the shrubs and trees

Without a single bark.

 

It’s good to have a moment

To reflect with peace and quiet

Not rushing round chasing tales

And thinking about one’s diet.

 

The clock has still been ticking

Which means my lunch is now at an end

So take a tip from me my followers

Make the park your relaxing friend.

 

It’s Thursday! It’s ‘Reads Ramblings!

 

Janet Read

 

SECRETS OF LIFE

 

I have a little secret which I’ve kept untold

It’s been with me for a long time I cannot break the mould

No one else knows the details of this I’m very sure

I have to keep it forever, there really is no cure.

 

Whining, moaning and complaining will not get you anywhere

People try it everyday, but I really do not care

I will not release my secret to anyone whoever they maybe

This little secret stays here, nice and safe with me.

 

A colourful life I have lead, many a story I can tell you

If only I could put into words, I’m sure it would surprise you.

But like I said I cannot tell my secret remains untold

It will stay with me until the day, I am happy to get old.

 

‘Life Happens’ with life coach Maggie Currie – Today – How to Experience ‘Happiness’

 

 

Maggie Currie

 

How to experience ‘happiness’

Do you really know what will it take to make you happy?

Think about it and see if you can discover what it will take for you to be happy?

  • Will being in a relationship, or with the right boyfriend/girlfriend make you happy?
  • Will being married make you happy?
  • Will having a million pounds make you happy?
  • Will being successful make you happy?
  • Will having better health make you happy?
  • Will getting a new job make you happy?
  • Will having a great career make you happy?

If you think the answer is yes to any or all of the above questions, you’ll never find happiness!
Surprised? Well don’t be. The truth is nothing can make you happy. Happiness is something we feel, not something we can find.

 

Being happy doesn’t depend on a particular outcome or something happening to you. There isn’t somewhere you can go and find happiness sitting there waiting for you.

Advertising of all sorts is designed to make you think that a new car, a particular skin cream, a new outfit, some new shoes, a drink or a new diet will make you happy, but that is simply not true. Nothing can make you happy because happiness is a feeling. Happiness is something you experience.

If you want to be happy, then be happy. Most people don’t choose to be happy because they spend most of their time focusing on what they perceive is wrong with their life.

Think about it, you can’t be happy doing something that you don’t like. If you don’t believe me try it. Try doing something you despise and see if you can be happy at the same time. Trust me, you won’t be happy doing something you don’t enjoy!

You also can’t do something you really enjoy and be sad or angry. Don’t believe me? Try it. See what happens. Go and try doing something you really enjoy and see if you’re angry or miserable at the same time. That really doesn’t work.

Unfortunately, people believe they can be happy when they achieve a particular goal and make the mistake of chasing that goal in order to be happy. It’s really not achieving the goal that makes them happy. It’s the feeling of achieving the goal that provides another feeling, satisfaction perhaps,  that is mistaken for happiness.

This mistake is quite common, because it’s not security or peace of mind that makes you happy. You experience happiness when you do what you enjoy and when you focus on the positive things taking place in your life. If you’re not doing that then you can never be happy.  Don’t think that you can be happy just by having something.

You can experience happiness by achieving your particular goal,  by
doing what you enjoy, having fun while achieving your goals and choose the right goals, the kind that allow you to be happy all the time.  Focus on what you want.

Start doing the things that you enjoy. Look at the positive things that are going on in your life. Direct your mind and subconscious mind to help you experience happiness every day. This will start once you begin to appreciate the good things in your life.

 

Okay so how can you begin to be happy? It’s really quite simple, all you have to do is shift your focus.

Instead of looking at all that is wrong with your life, instead of looking at what you don’t like about yourself or your life; constantly criticising; change your focus. Start appreciating all that is good in your life.

Make a list if you want and write out all of the positive things in your life. Usually someone will say: “Maggie, I can’t think of anything positive or good in my life. I just want to be happy.” That’s only because they are not seeing all the positive things in your life.  And so you’ll never be happy.

Every day there are wonderful things taking place in your life, yet you fail to observe and recognise them. You tend to take them for granted.  This can be anything – a hot  meal, a wonderful spouse, family, a beautiful flower, lambs playing in a field –  If you have a roof over your head, that’s a positive aspect of your life.

Start looking at all of the great and terrific things that are going on in your life and you’ll begin to experience happiness on a deeper level. You can begin to improve or change the areas that you are not happy with but at the same time you should acknowledge the good things that are going on in your life.

Your mind is used to only paying attention to what is going wrong and in the process it directs the subconscious mind to continue creating more of those things that are going wrong. You actually create more of what makes you unhappy.

Why?

Because your subconscious creates what you regularly think about. So if you don’t regularly focus on the positive things you won’t create positive situations in your life.

And here’s where it gets worse.  When you constantly focus on what is wrong with your life, when you only think about and see what is wrong in your life your subconscious begins to create more of what is wrong or more of what you don’t want because it thinks that you want more.

Now you know why it can be so difficult for some people to truly experience happiness, it’s because they’re used to focusing on the negative aspects of life and in the end continue to create more of what they don’t want.

In order to change all of this you have to begin training the mind and re-directing the subconscious mind to begin creating what you want in life and to focus on the good things that are taking place in your life.

Begin experiencing happiness by changing your focus. Everyday think of the positive things that are going on in your life. Make a list of all the wonderful things that are taking place in your life.

Think of at least 3 great things that happened to you they can be small or large – but just appreciate 3 good things that happened during the day. Focus on the positive.
Direct your mind and subconscious mind by changing your perspective so you experience happiness everyday

 

Too often I hear from people who simply want to be happy but when I ask them what they do for fun they say: “Nothing.” No wonder you’re not happy. How can you be happy if you’re never having fun in life?

If you want to experience happiness then start doing things that you enjoy.  You may like gardening; you may like hang gliding, you may like riding your bike, you may enjoy going for long walks, you may enjoy acting like a 5-year old – whatever it is start doing it and see how great you feel.

But there is one catch when you’re doing what you enjoy, you can only focus on that and not think about anything else that may be bothering you. That’s the only way you’ll truly enjoy the activity and begin to experience happiness.

As adults we get bogged down with the everyday tasks that force us to be serious. We have jobs where we’re serious, bills to pay, food to prepare, children to look after, it’s all too serious and it is necessary. I’m not suggesting you ignore your responsibilities – but take some time just to have some fun.

Now you can’t just have fun once a week or once a month. You have to do this every day. That means every day you have to find something fun to do, and only then will you get comfortable and used to the process to the point where you regularly experience happiness. Once you start doing this you’ll enjoy it so much you’ll wonder why you never did this to begin with.

If you don’t feel you have the time to have fun and enjoy your life then you’re really saying that your happiness is not important enough. Only when you decide to be happy will you truly begin to experience happiness. You can work with the techniques I’ve outlined – they will help you get started. But you will need to train your mind and subconscious mind to begin seeing and living in a different way.

 

It’s Thursday! It’s Reads Ramblings!

 

Janet Read

 

COLOURFUL LIFE

 

Good morning all, here we are again.

Another day at the office, so let’s all now begin.

First let’s update the ledger and sort out the post.

Make sure you make a separate pile for the things that matter most.

 

Chop, chop everyone we need to get this all done.

We don’t have time to chatter and drag our feet along.

Lots to do before lunchtime, all hands to the deck.

Better get moving quickly before we get it in the neck.

 

Another day at the office, oh what a hectic time.

Busy busy, busy, were at it all the time.

Soon be clocking off time and then home for that special unwind.

A time to relax with reflection on my colourful life, I find.

 

Bob’s Rant – Throwing down the gauntlet to our new Police Commissioners!

Bob Bridgestock infront of the world media.

 

What’s happening in the world of law and order in 2013?

Some forces still have to make vast savings on their expenditure yet still I see no change at ‘The Top’! We still have the same number of highly paid Assistant Chief Constables, supported by a large number of Chief Superintendents and in turn Superintendents, Chief Inspectors… Why can’t they see the service NEEDS to be pruned from the top NOT at street level.

The starting salary for recruits is being reduced by £4,000 yet the Chief Constables are looking at a pay rise up to as much as 10% on between their £130,000 to £181,000 per annum salary. Will this not be seen as a reward for compliance with the Government right arm-police and crime commissioners, who of course already have budgets for their assistants?

The police service human resource structure is taking the shape of an inverted triangle. There is an old saying – ‘You get what you pay for.’ It would appear the majority are not being heard…

The barely visible ‘thin blue line,’ is already supported massively by more volunteers than ever before but the reduction in recruiting and reduction in salary makes it even less attractive to put one’s life on the line to protect the community. Already I know of serving officers who have second jobs to pay the household bills – not expensive holidays.

Policing they say is a vocation and whilst I don’t disagree, standards and salary need to be adequate to ensure a credible, transparent and trustworthy community service.

What happened to the idea of reducing the number of Chief Constables by them covering more than one force? After all they have sufficient assistants to make this possible.  This would also reduce the number of commissioners and their assistants too. Resources are centralised so why not the hierarchy? Maybe then we could utilise the savings for the front line officers who are almost extinct in some areas.

I feel I must comment on the punishment for crime at this point. Massive reductions in sentencing –

42 people serving life imprisonment were released early last year. Will this year see any increase in that number? There are less people being sentenced to imprisonment and if they are actually sent down if they show ‘good behaviour’ they even get an early release! Have we not created homes/hostels for some and a B&B for others who are allowed to clock out daily from our prisons and clock back in again at night?

The victims of crime and the public deserve, no demand law and order in this land and punishment for crime – simple transparency in what sentencing really is, would be a start. We need a deterrent – re offending is too high so the system requires overalling once and for all.

Or behind this inadequacy is there some hidden agenda – more privatisation?

I end on a positive note. It is early days in 2013 and we should always seek out the positives in everything. This I feel is that the majority of us still h ave respect for others and their property and we continue to teach our children the difference between right and wrong.

I am not aware of any forces planning to reduce the levels of hierarchy even though they remain in huge financial difficulty and top heavy, are you? Yet at the sharp end moral and numbers dwindle to an all time low no matter whatever positive spin they try to blindfold us with.  

At the moment I am aware that there are more people wishing to join the regulars and even these are finding it hard to be accepted into the role of an unpaid Special Constable. Many of these are hoping the route will get them a foot in the door. Will they still hold that dream when the starting pay is now reduced by £4,000?

Whilst not voting for or believing in police commissioners perhaps they could change my view on collectively standing up for the service. Reject the Governments intentions on reducing police starting pay and deal with the top heavy service. I throw a gauntlet to you and give something to show us your worth to our society!

Jan 17, 2013

‘Reads Ramblings’ – The Town Hall Clock

 

‘Reads Ramblings’

 

 

OUR TOWN HALL CLOCK

 

Our Town Hall clock chimes out the hours

Grand and magnificent with a strong sound of power

The towns folk know when the clock rings

There is no mistaking this great time thing.

 

Loud and clear and every quarter the hour

The clock rings out from its Ivory tower

Keeping the time and letting us all know

‘Come on’ it says ‘it’s time to go’.

 

How does it know? How can it tell?

It’s always on time as if it knows you so well.

A meeting or appointment or a place to be.

Our Town Hall Clock is the best in Morley!

 

 

 

Jan 15, 2013

Carol’s ‘Close Up’ today with new blog Feature Poet Janet Read! ‘Reads Ramblings’!

 

Carol Bridgestock

 I am excited and pleased to be doing an interview today with Janet Read who is heading our new feature ‘Reads Ramblings!’. Janet is a Yorkshire lass born and bred… Come with me an learn more about our talented new poet!

Hi Janet!

Tell me and our readers abit about yourself.

I consider myself lucky, loved and cared for. I’ve always worked hard to earn a crust and now work within the Emergency Lighting and Fire sector, helping to promote safety measures around the world.  I must confess to never really being a career minded sort of girl, although I’ve turned my hand to a lot of different jobs in my life time. I do enjoy the social get together that working offers and the fact that it pays the bills!

 Okay, so you’ve won the lottery and don’t have to work anymore…

 If I won the lottery I’d be away with the fairies! I guess I’d have to do some serious thinking whilst soaking up the sun somewhere.  I would consider a villa here and there, maybe a vineyard or two, but I could never forget my family and all the help they have given me, they are all so very special… and of course my friends, everybody need them so it would be nice to give something back to mine.

What do you do in your spare time?

Spare time? On occasions I like to put my feet up with a glass of wine or two!(Red of course) A nice meal and good company – perfect.

I once wrote a poem for a competition to create the slogan for the label on a bottle of well known ‘Bats Blood Merlot’ it did get acknowledged but it wasn’t successful enough for me to win the free case of wine, shame! Here it is!

 

      BATS BLOOD MERLOT, drink at your peril

 Dark and mysterious, red like the devil

              A masquerade of seduction, passion and charm

           Experience it’s flavour a legend in your palm.

 

I love my holidays, but who doesn’t and my weekends are precious. I adore walking and after being stuck in an office all week I like being outside in the open air. My favourite place is Allanbank House in Grassmere, one of the National Trust Sites, everyone should go there at least once it’s so tranquil and serene, it’s no surprise that Wordsworth was inspired there. The National Trust bought it and are now in the process of restoring it after it has been empty for years. The rooms are still quite sparse but visitors are invited to write their renovation ideas and good wishes and post them around the walls of the house. The National Trust want as much involvement as possible as to what they think should be done to the house and its wonderful grounds, you must all go and see!

Who are your mentors? 

My brother Bob and his wife are my mentors for my writing antics. They have both done so very well with their books, the competitions they organise to inspire others, especially children and their book signings… I’m so envious. They never stop working though, I’m sure that they work harder now than before they retired!

You mentioned your acclaim from the ‘Bats Blood Merlot’ competition, do you enter a lot of competitions?

I love entering writing competitions, whether it’s for poetry which are my favourite or short stories. I always have my scribbling pad and pen with me at lunch time whilst tucking into my sandwich. I write about anything really, whether it’s about people, the weather, situations I’ve found myself in, or even the town hall clock which you’ll read in my first feature @ Reads Ramblings which I am so excited about.

 Linda my friend is also an inspiration to me, both with her sewing techniques and her ebay selling. She’s is a very talented lace maker. She once made me a lace bookmark, it’s beautiful. We share all sorts of idea’s, sewing, dressmaking, writing and we also have days out together, she also likes red wine which is a bonus!

It’s been lovely chatting to you Janet. I’m sure ‘Reads Ramblings’ are going to be very popular. The first feature will be live on Thursday and every Thursday till we run out of your poems so keep ‘em coming!

C x

 

 

 

 

Feature – ‘Life Happens…’ Maggie Currie, Life Coach with tips on how to cope…

Maggie Currie – Life Coach

Bouncing back – 2013

Life happens. It doesn’t matter how positive or balanced and centred you are, there are going to be times when you are knocked sideways. Times when your carefully organised life is turned upside down and you get knocked for six. Life happens!

You may be challenged with any number of situations that will leave you feeling like you were kicked in the stomach. It may be the loss of a loved one, a divorce, the loss of a job.

Let’s face it. Things happen. They’re part of life and although “everything happens for a reason,” things still hurt. And they hurt a lot! They hurt at the very core of your being. The pain begins in your heart and radiates throughout your entire being.
At times like these, you may feel down, possibly depressed. You may feel anger or some other manifestation of your pain. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s ok. It’s ok to feel hurt, sad, angry or whatever your true feelings are. You cannot deny pain any more than you can deny fear. The only way through this is to give yourself permission to feel the feeling.

 

The question is not whether or not you will feel down. The question is for how long will you stay in this state?

The difference between people who get through life’s challenging moments, regardless of the seriousness, and those who are immobilised by the events is their ability to bounce back.
How quickly can you bounce back?  Of course, the severity of the event will have a lot to do with the time it will take you to get past the pain and on with your life.

Take the example of two people being downsized from their job, something that is becoming a common occurrence these days. One is floored by the news of his dismissal. He expresses his pain by becoming angry at his employers, his colleagues and the system in general. He spends his days telling anyone who’ll listen, about his “problem.” And usually from a barstool!

As he sees it, his life is ruined and he’s blaming everyone for his troubles. People who react like this spend weeks, even months, wallowing in despair until, if they’re fortunate, someone close to them convinces them to seek professional help.

On the other hand, the other person reacts very differently. Although they have gone through the same experience and have pretty much the same issues like living expenses, etc., they choose to react differently.

After a brief period of feeling a loss of self-esteem, self-pity and anger (quite naturally), they decide to get back in the game. They begin contacting their network of colleagues and friends, avail themselves of courses and other services their former employer offered everyone and starts actively looking for a new position. In a short time they find their “dream job” with an exciting new company.

While both people in our hypothetical example had the same experience and both went through a period of hurting, the time each allowed themselves to remain in that dis-empowering state was vastly different. While one remained “stuck” in their problem, the other handled their loss and moved on with their life.

This is the key. It’s not whether life occasionally puts you into a tailspin, it’s how long you choose to remain there.

When something devastating happens to you, allow yourself some time to grieve your loss, however, don’t allow yourself to get stuck there. Take some action. Join a support group, talk about your feelings with a trusted friend or a professional.
In the case of a job loss, perhaps you might want to take some time to re-evaluate your career goals. You may even consider a change in career altogether. When you’re ready, you can begin networking and making new contacts.  Attend social or networking events. Call people you know. Do something!

One of the most important things to remember in high stress situations is not to allow yourself to become isolated. While spending some time alone is normal, even necessary, isolation can be dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Get out and be with people as soon as possible.

Remember “life is for the living.” It’s important to get back to your life. In time, the pain will pass.

 

 

Maggie Currie

 

www.creedencetraining.co.uk

Carol’s ‘Close Up’ with Life Coach Maggie Currie!

Carol Bridgestock

Life Coach Maggie Currie

Today my ‘Close Up’ is with Maggie Currie who is a Life Coach. I am very exctied about this interview as Maggie will be starting her very own feature with us, right here, next week.  The feature will be called ‘Life Happens…’ and Maggie will be giving us tips, on how to cope!

Before we go live I thought it would be nice for you to get to know Maggie and see what a lovely lady she is.

Welcome Maggie!

Maggie, how on earth do you manage to juggle working, writing, being a wife and a mother?

Having been a medical secretary for 20 years or so, I learned early on how to prioritise and I carried this into my home life.  I also learned to delegate too.  So now I have a lovely lady who comes once a week to do my housework (which I hate doing), the shopping is delivered which saves me several hours each week and leaves me the time I need to work and look after my husband.  All my children have left home and have children of their own, so they don’t need my constant attention.

 What inspired you to write a book then?

 When I hit rock bottom about thirty years ago, I had very limited help or access to help.  I remember I had the flu, all the children had chicken pox and we were all sitting huddled in the living room of my tiny flat and I had just one 50p coin left for the meter.  I had no job, I perceived I had no prospects, I thought I have to change something because if I don’t I am not going to survive, and if I don’t survive my three small children won’t survive either.  I had to change the way I thought about myself.  So I changed one thought, I do have prospects and I can get a job.  My parents brought me more coins for the meter and when I was better I went out and got myself a job in a school kitchen cooking the dinners.  It kick started me back to a proper career and I wrote the book because I didn’t want anyone else to be in that position, and if it helps just one person I shall be so pleased.

 Do you have a regular pattern or routine the you stick to?

 I work for myself providing a virtual secretarial service globally.  There are some parts to the work that are regular, but mostly it is irregular.  Sometimes I can be working at 11 o’clock at night, and other days I am finished by lunchtime.  Additionally I am a life coach also working globally and often I am coaching clients at 7am my time which could be 6pm their time, or I could be coaching at 5pm my time which is 9am their time.  I love the flexibility of working from home and not having a boss.  So no there is no particular pattern or routine.

 Who would you like to share a cup of coffee and a natter with?

 I would love to sit down and have a natter with Oprah Winfrey.  She is such an inspirational woman who gives so much time to others and has come from a very poor background but has never forgotten her roots.  I have seen a couple of her chat shows but they don’t interest me, Oprah herself interests me. I would love to find out more about the real person behind the public persona.

 How do you relax?

 I like to relax at home with a glass of wine and good dvd.  It could be a film or a series, I have just finished watching ‘Smash’ a series about writing and finding the right actors to play the parts in a musical about Marilyn Monroe.  I tend to watch the films and series I like on my own when my husband is out working on Friday and Saturday nights, he runs a mobile disco so is usually out most weeks.  And of course I read quite a lot too.

 Bob is always telling me that my handbag has everything in it bar the kitchen sink, so I’m curious what do you have in your handbag right now?

 I have a notebook and several pens, purse,  Kindle, diary, mobile phone, car keys, house keys, business cards and that’s about it.

 What’s your favourite smell?

 I love the smell of freshly baked bread and as I make it several times a week I get to enjoy that quite often.  I also love the smell of basil, it always smells so fresh and clean.  New babies smell gorgeous too.  I don’t do very well with perfumes as I am allergic to them so everything I have is unperfumed.

 What’s the best advice you’ve been given or best advice you’d give?

 The best advice I have been given is to just be yourself.  And that is the best advice I give anyone.  You can’t be anyone else, so just be yourself and be the very best you that you can be. 

 What’s your favourite book as a child/adult?

 My favourite book as a child was Winnie the Pooh and as an adult it has been Gormanghast.  Winnie the Pooh because there is so much positivity in it and Gormanghast because it was written by a man in the trenches on little scraps of paper and it is what kept him sane.  The descriptions are stunning and the story so imaginative. 

 What are you working on now?

 I am working on writing an online coaching programme to help women going through divorce to be delivered by modules.  So far I have written the first two modules and there are ten to go.  Each module is around 6,000 words and will be delivered as webinars.  It involves creating Powerpoint slides for each module and a workbook for each module.  Questions to be answered on the portal etc.  It is a great project and I am enjoying it immensely.

 If you won the lottery what would you spend it on?

 I would donate some of the money to my favourite charity The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary, some I would use to move house as I currently live in an upstairs flat and would like to live in a bungalow. If it were millions I am not sure what I would with it to be honest. Maybe buy an island of my very own – who knows?

 Who do you admire in the literary world? Who do you consider your mentor? 

 I admire anyone who can write a book or novel that holds the attention and makes me want to keep reading.  There are too many books out there that I can’t get past the first couple of pages and that is a shame because they may get better as they go on, but I don’t want to read any more.  As for mentors I have several some of whom are writers, some are life coaches and some are friends.  They are located in Australia, USA and UK and I communicate with them weekly, sometimes daily via Facebook.  And of course my husband is my greatest mentor as he supports and encourages me in everything I do.

I think our readers might be interested to read some of the many testimonials for the work that you do Maggie.

Due to confidentiality they have been anonymised of course but here are a few:- 

“The ride has been awesome…the support you gave me while I was driving at the wheel of my life and you were sitting in the passenger seat guiding, encouraging, and supporting me was fantastic and I so appreciate that.” SR, USA

 

I have made some significant changes to what I do and how I behave.  Change is always difficult but you just have to have confidence, back yourself and go for it don’t you!!  Your book was the first step I took to set me on the way for this latest, and final, journey.  I have picked up a few other things on the way and there is no turning back now!!’ TB, IoW

 

‘Maggie helped me to recognise that I was stagnating and I chose not to do that any longer. I have changed my life dramatically in just one year and now I am really enjoying my life and my new relationship.’ LR, Gloucester.

 

“Things are really good. There is very much a difference in my homelife now, very rarely do I even think about work, which is great. Even my daughter has noticed a difference. I don’t seem to get stressed like I used to. I really can’t thank you enough for your help!” VP, IOW.

 

“It was quite apparent my immediate need for her guidance and advice regarding publishing my book have been adequately and superbly catered for by Maggie.” RS, Portsmouth. 

 

“Maggie helped me to make one big decision that led to another, and another, and another – and that’s how my life changed for the better!”— JL. Milton Keynes.

 

“Thanks for the notes and your time yesterday. The idea of getting help was a major breakthrough for me and I am laughing at myself and in total disbelief that I had to be led by you to that very obvious solution!!! I guess you must get that all the time though. Getting help will open up the possibilities of what I can achieve enormously and I actually woke up this morning raring to go instead of dreading the day’s work.”. KG, Surrey

 

“Maggie, your well placed questions and non-judgemental help in our coaching session really helped me to think more clearly about my situation. ” GL, Paris, France

 

 And below are Maggie with Vectis Radio’s Ian Mac at a book signing in Waterstones, Isle of Wight and images of her published books!

Thanks Maggie! And we’ll see you soon with your first article ‘Bouncing Back!’

C x

 Maggie Currie with Ian Mac from Vectis Radio at Waterstones in Newport, Isle of Wight.

   

Links to Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Believe-Creates-Your-Reality/dp/1846244668/ref=la_B005HX4HUY_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358096237&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stepping-Stones-Rebuilding-Confidence-Yourself/dp/1468081675/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358096332&sr=1-2

 

 

 

 

 

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