Sunday, 13 August 2017

Imagination

Imagination,  we all have it. If you tell someone you are a writer, they will probably say 'I 
couldn't do that I have no imagination.' They have, they just don't know how to use it.

Child home late for  school. 
Imagination - something has happened, they have been kidnapped, never did like 
the look of that person who just moved in down the road.
Reality - dawdled home with friend from class and spent 30 minutes at the end of 
the street talking about nothing and needs to phone her friend as soon as she gets home.

Partner late home from work. 
Imagination - has had an accident on the way home. Or run off with the new receptionist.
Reality - was held up in a meeting with the boss then caught in a traffic jam. 
Phone battery ran out so couldn't let you know. 
Want to believe but imagination still playing up.

Unexpected telephone call. 
Imagination - it's Camelot telling me I've won the Euromillions roll over lottery!
Reality - Have you checked if you are eligible for a PPI  refund or 
Have you recently beeninvolved in an accident that wasn't your fault? 
To be honest you have to buy a lottery ticket before you can win!

Answer phone message from Doctor. 
Imagination - oh my God I'm dying, that blood test showed I have any and all 
fatal diseases known to mankind.
Reality - blood tests were fine. No action required.

Knock on the door. 
Imagination - Long lost relative calling to share an expected inheritance.
Reality - Have you found God? Didn't know he was missing, close door quickly.


Everyday we are faced with such situations. Doesn't everyone immediately have 
their imagination spring into action or do the non-Writers of the world walk around 
with completely empty heads? 

Don't answer that! 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Only In America

I have recently joined a group of writers in my local town. It's a very informal bunch of random people who like to put things down on paper for no particular reason. I'm not expecting to find any great knowledge there, I'm possibly the second most experienced writer there, but I do feel the need for some social interaction with real, not virtual, people. I'm not saying my Facebook friends aren't wonderful, they are, but I'm getting too isolated in the virtual world.

The thing about this group is they meet every week, not monthly, and they meet during the day. That maybe says something about the members, no one has to be at work, but what does that matter? The weekly thing is great because you have to get on with the task in hand instead of putting it off until, oh my god, it's the meeting tomorrow. Not that it is compulsory to do anything, neither is it compulsory to attend, but the challenge is there if you want to take it up. Every week a topic is chosen and we go away and think about it.

I have decided to share what I have done for this group with a wider audience, ie my blogging readers, if I have any, still.

This was my first offering on the subject of Only In America.

I know a lot of fellow indie authors from America through Facebook,  so I am aware, maybe more 
than most, of what is happening over there. A good friend has also travelled extensively to many 
parts of the States and has given me extensive insight into the varying levels of society there. 
The contrasts in that conglomeration are enough to make the sane mind boggle. It must be 
remembered that America is not one country. It is a collection of separate states that have their own 
laws, their own education systems to name just a couple of things. So maybe it is not so surprising 
that only in America you can find the following contrasts. Although it is some time ago now, I also 
visited in 1995 when my husband was secondment with his job.

Only in America can you find some of the world's top scientists, doctors, engineers, innovative 
technology pioneers and yet have the most backward and ignorant people in the western world. 
People who believe and promote the idea that dinosaur bones were planted by God to test a person's 
faith.

Only in America will you find a space program with scientists who want to go to Mars alongside 
people who claim the moon landings were fake, global warming is a conspiracy and burning fossil 
fuels is fine.

Only in America do people wear wristbands telling bystanders not to call an ambulance if they are 
found unconscious because they cannot afford the costs involved in using an ambulance, while at the same time American doctors lead the way in innovative treatments, surgeries and therapies.

Only in America are corporations running roughshod over the health and safety of the citizens of said country...well maybe the same can be said in some less desirable parts of the world,  but America is 
quickly becoming one of those less desirable places instead of the leader of the world to be admired.

The world often views America through the eyes of the TV shows it produces, but real life varies 
from state to state, town to town. In many places it is lagging behind much of the Western world in 
terms of infrastructure,  technology and knowledge. The level of general ignorance amongst even 
those in power is staggering. I read a cringe making post from an Air America service desk worker at Washington airport not so long ago quoting questions that had been posed by Senators. I can't 
remember them all but one that stands out in my memory was one complaint from someone who 
doesn't like flying because they couldn't get a train to Hawaii.

When you hear these things it is no wonder that in America you can have someone like Donald Trump elected as President. Sad, very sad. But the saddest thing seems to me that our own government seems to admire the American health system and would love to privatise our own. Let's hope we don't start saying 'only in the uk'!

No offence meant to any sensible Americans who may read this!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

What Have I Been Up To?

Well, since my last post I have changed my way of life a little. After a spell of bad health which was eventually put down to stress, probably, no one really knows the cause, I have taken a step back and stopped trying to publish other authors and am just concentrating on my own work. This has not been hugely difficult as most of my other authors haven't written much recently! Sorry for the jibe, folks, but it's true. I do wish all my fellow writers all the best in their very complicated lives and hope they manage to achieve what they want. I do care for you all and wish we could have flown to the stars and back.

I have been writing, but have still failed to find my true place in the world. If The World Hadn't Changed was a project I had to get out of my system but has not really struck a chord with readers...yet. You never know, it may one day.

So I'm back to writing about people and their lives, which seems to be my most popular genre. Human Interest, someone called it. This one is about someone who goes blind and the relationship he builds with a young woman who comes to help him. Haven't decided on a title yet.

I'm also working on a prequel to Edge of Extinction, putting down ideas that I had when I first developed the book. I thought jumping straight into the action would make Edge more exciting, but have always had a desire to tell Kianda's whole story.

And there is a prequel lurking to The Penhaligan File, too. Again, not far from completion. My aim is to get these finished and then publish them a few months apart. I spent so much time editing for other people that my own work has fallen way behind. I enjoy looking at what other people have written. I do not regret one minute I have spent doing it, but it has been at the cost of my own work. So I think my editing services will be disappearing from wherever I advertise them.

And, of course, my blogs have been few and far between in recent months. Non-existent even. I will try to remedy that, but it's a bit like being told to write an essay for homework at school. Write a story on a set theme and pages would flow. Write an essay and all I could manage was half a page!  But we will see. Onwards and upwards as they say. I'll try to get back soon!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Why Women SHOULD Take Responsibility For Their Actions

Before I get on to my main topic I just want to make it clear I DO NOT condone cultures or attitudes that consider women to be nothing more than objects of man’s desire and use. On a day to day basis all women, of whatever age, should be treated with respect and as equals. There are some parts of the world which are better at doing this than others. Some cultures that still think women are lesser beings. Some cultures that claim to support equality but still treat women as objects to be used. This is wrong and will always be wrong. But here comes the big BUT…

No matter how civilized we consider ourselves we have to understand that we are still basically animals prone to the programming of nature. Now when the human body was designed by nature however many thousands of years ago, there weren’t very many of us to start with and nature deemed the whole planet needed populating. Lifespans were short. Even today not many mammals live much beyond thirty or forty years in good circumstances. This is why puberty and sexual maturity happened in the early teens. Unfortunately while we have progressed and developed morals and codes of conduct, our bodies are stuck with the original programming and haven’t updated. Unlike electronic products there is no way to upload amendments to the base code. There is a, sometimes overwhelming, desire to have sex and produce the next generation. That is the only reason for sex, according to the base code. Apart from Bonobo’s, humans are the only animals that indulge in sex merely for pleasure.

Women expect to be able to wear whatever they want with impunity. Fair enough. But with the base code in mind don’t be surprised if you dress like a tart you are treated like a tart. I make no apologies for being totally blunt here. I’m sure not many women go out with that intention, but you get what I mean, I hope. Why do women wear pretty and attractive clothes if not to feel pretty and attractive. Fine. I have no problem with that but if you are pretty and attractive you will get attention, unwanted or not, from other people, usually men.

So we move on to my main point. Date rape. By this I do not mean rape committed by men who have used drugs to make a woman ‘available’. That is premeditated and full blown rape as bad as any other sort. Stalkers, rapists, people who prey on women, these should be prosecuted, strung up by their delicate parts or castrated on the spot! What I am talking about is the sort of rape that happens when people go out for an evening of drinking and get so paralytic they no longer know what they are doing.

In a decent civilized society a sober, well-mannered man, on finding a woman passed out through drink would try his best to make her safe, get her home, protect her. Unfortunately in such circumstances the man is most likely to be inebriated as well, in which case the base code might well kick in and he will want to take advantage of this opportunity. I’m not excusing his actions, just trying to explain it. Having explained it, I’m not saying it is acceptable, but it happens.

On a night out a couple might meet at 11 o’clock and agree to sex. By midnight the woman might have changed her mind for whatever reason. Could be that by midnight the man is incapable! Could be that she has realised he is not worth her attention. But if she then carries on drinking to the state of unconsciousness or incapability she leaves herself open to whatever happens next. She cannot then turn round and say ‘I didn’t mean it when I said yes. I really meant, maybe or no.’

I’m certainly not suggesting that the man has an automatic right to do whatever he wants. What I am saying is, even when going with friends for a fun night out, all women should take responsibility for what they consume. I’m not saying don’t drink. I’m saying don’t get falling down drunk. It is possible to have a good time without getting totally lathered. In fact, it might be even better because you will remember it!

Rape is not the only crime that can happen to a woman when she is drunk. Muggings and other forms of assault happen. And this is not even taking into account the damage it does to health and the risk of actually dying because of drink. There is nothing more heart-breaking than seeing a mother who has lost a child who has choked on their own vomit due to drinking.


And there is loss of self-respect. I belong to the generation where women were not seen to get drunk. I’m not saying they didn’t. But it was unseemly. And to me that is something we have lost. It would seem that in our struggle for equal rights with men, the right to go out and get totally rat-arsed is one of them. Personally I think that has brought us down, not raised us up. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

Is This How Marketing Works?

Before I go any further I want to say I have NO marketing experience, have never worked in the marketing department of any company nor have I worked in advertising. This is how my imagination sees a new product being launched. The product we are talking about is toothpaste. I will not identify the brand or the product within that brand, but the following is based on something I bought.

Around a table representatives of Research and Development Department and Product Support are
gathered to discuss the pricing and benefits of a new product.

PS: It’s great to have a new product to add to our range of twenty different types of toothpaste. Please tell us about this one. What is special about it?

R&D: This is our latest Super Duper, cure all problems, toothpaste.

PS: Great. What is so special about it?

R&D: It does everything the other toothpastes do but better. So we can charge more.

PS: Does it cost more to produce?

R&D: Well, actually, no. It’s pretty much the same.

PS: That’s no good, we have to have a fairly legitimate reason for charging more.

R&D: We solved this by asking our packaging supplier to come up with a new type of top. Instead of a simple flip cap, or a screw top with a pull-off piece of foil over the opening, they have made a sealed cap that needs to be inserted into the lid to release the seal the first time it is used.

PS: Ah! Like one of those tops that needs to be pierced.

R&D: Oh, no. this is much more complicated. The cap has a serrated edge to it which you insert into the top of the cap to match up with inverted serrations which you then twist to remove the seal.

PS: I see. And we tell the customers how this works on the packaging?

R&D: No need for that, we need pretty pictures on the packaging to show how clever the toothpaste is at cleaning your teeth and preventing sensitivity.

PS: And for this we can charge more?

R&D: Yes, the tops are more expensive to make as they need twice as much plastic for a start, let alone the engineering involved in making the serrations and the release mechanism.

PS: Great. Because it is more expensive customers will realise it is a better product. It is a better product, isn’t it?

R&D: Well, it’s toothpaste. It does pretty much the same as any toothpaste if used correctly. Seeing as how most people don’t use toothpaste correctly, it doesn’t really make that much difference. But we can charge more for it and that will increase company profits.

PS: It says in the test results that some people have complained that they have a strange sensation in their mouths after using it.

R&D: Probably down to the chemicals in it. But we can use that to say that it gives a tingling fresh feel to your mouth after use. People are suckers for gimmicks like that. Most toothpastes don’t leave you feeling anything, but if your mouth is tingling after use you know you have done a good job!

PS: Brilliant. So let me just recap. We have a new product that isn’t really any different to the twenty other products we already have, which costs the same to produce but has more expensively engineered packaging so we can charge more and which leaves a chemical reaction in the mouth after use which we can explain away as a magic formula for showing the toothpaste has worked. Great. Can’t see any problem there. Let’s go for it and start getting the marketing people involved! 

Thursday, 30 June 2016

New Book out now




If The World Hadn't Changed is my latest book out now at all the usual places.

For full details see its own page, then buy it, sit back and enjoy. You might want some tissues handy.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Are Shops Getting Too Big?

As another long standing British High Street store is under threat while people complain that the High Streets are dying, I wonder if it is because too many stores are trying to please everyone.

Shops that were once mere grocery stores now sell everything from clothes to electrical goods. I’ve bought a television in Morrisons. Now Sainbury’s are selling clothes. While I like the idea of not having to go to the butchers, bakers, greengrocers, fishmonger and delicatessen to buy my weekly groceries, I don’t want to be lured into buying other things at the same time. If I want new clothes, I will go to a clothes shop. If I want new shoes I will go to a shoe shop. If I need a new TV I will look in Curry’s or Argos. These are the shops that used to be on the High Street. If they are not there now it’s because people aren’t using them.

I was watching people being interviewed in the street after the announcement that BHS had gone into administration. Most people seemed sad but there were also comments like “I can never find anything I like.” Well, maybe you are looking in the wrong shop or you are too fussy. I rarely come out of BHS without at least one thing I didn’t go in for.

And that brings me to the point that major stores are trying to be everything to everyone in their search for customers. It doesn’t happen. I recently went into a large M&S on a retail park, the first time I had gone to an M&S since the small store closed in my local town. I felt overwhelmed. It was so big, so many things from which to choose, it was almost impossible to find anything because there was too much choice.

The fact is young people wear different clothes to older people. Quite possibly people in the North have different needs to people in the South (I’m thinking weatherwise here. It’s much colder the further north you go from London). By trying to entice younger people into a shop that caters for older customers you alienate those older people, without necessarily getting the younger ones who consider it a shop for oldies. Likewise, you won’t get older people looking in shops for youngsters. Trying to cater for everyone is costly and a gamble.

This massive shop I was in didn’t have any more cash points than my local BHS, and wasn’t as busy as the now defunct M&S, so despite its size I’m not sure it is doing any better. Maybe it was the time and the day, I don’t know. I hope for their sake it does get busier. In such a large store I expected to see two or three points to pay for your goods, but there was only one with only about four or five tills, and no long queues.

And then there is the cost of providing all those items in multiple stores. I know there is supposed to be economy in bulk buying, but if you end up buying too much as a retailer, what happens to all the things that haven’t been sold at the end of the season. Are they binned? Donated to charity? Sold on to market retailers?

Tesco learned to its cost that having too many choices does not always work. Giving the customer choice is one thing. Giving the customer five types of the same thing is something else entirely. So no doubt the smaller producers will lose out to the big brands because they are no longer wanted.

Internet shopping is being blamed for the demise of many stores, and in some respects this may be true. It is easy to find things on the internet, especially unusual things. I spent all of one Saturday afternoon trawling through my local shops looking for something very specific and couldn’t find it anywhere. Got home and went on the net and found it within minutes, if not seconds. But there has always been an alternative to buying clothes in shops. I bet there isn’t a home in the UK at least that didn’t at some point subscribe to a catalogue store like Kays or Freemans. That was the internet of the past, where you could get an endless choice in multiple sizes all delivered to your door. Such catalogues still exist, possibly even more, plus they have an online presence, too.

So are we heading for a completely shop-free world. Do we even need to go out to the shops? Personally I’d be happy not to but I’m weird that way. But to keep shops going people need to use them. It’s no good saying ‘it’s a shame’ when a shop closes if you haven’t supported it on a regular basis. Shops are there to sell things, not look pretty and fill a space. A small shop cannot give the same choice as a massive store on a retail park. It is not possible to cater for every taste in one place, so BHS, M&S, HM, and all the other retailers, make up your minds who your customers are and try to please them. Not an easy task, I know.


Where will I shop? Well, I’ve probably got enough clothing to last the next twenty years and I’m happy to wear the same thing year in, year out, so I’m not really bothered. I’d just like to put my winter stuff away and wear something light and only have one layer instead of three!