Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Unfair dismissal

A few weeks ago my husband was called Into work at 06.00am. This isn't an issue as he usually leaves home at or before that time. This time however was slight different as he was fired. His contract terminated. No notice. No prior verbal warnings. No prior written warning and no prior final warnings. 

He fired him because he could. It's his company he can do as he pleases surely. I don't think so. My husband has worked for him for about 8 years and any issues have never been raised with him. For years he has told me he feels the boss has a personal thing against him. Now we know he has. 

We won't be laying down about this, but I don't want to write to much about procedures as I wouldn't want to preducide anything. I can however say how I feel and that is shocked. We didn't see this coming. 6.00 am in a morning he was back telling me before I left for work. 

I'm angry. It's wrong. People shouldn't be able to do this to other people. Our life now has to change. And quite drastically. He can't get any support from the social. Its a full loss of a wage in the house. I'm livid. 

This is going to be a pretty tough process. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

April A - Z Blogging Challenge

Starting on Friday April 1st I'm taking part in the Tossing it Out A to Z blogfest. 

This blogging challenge involves making 26 posts, Monday through to Saturday with Sunday off. This covers April. If that's not hard enough, these 26 posts have to be relevant to a letter of the alphabet, in order. So Friday 1st April when it starts has to have an A theme.

You're not expected to make heavy well thought out posts all month. It's about the participation and about finding new blogs you've not yet come across and meeting new bloggers. There are currently over 700 bloggers currently signed up. It sounds great fun.

I'm all signed up. Who's joining me??

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Yesterday I was nominated for the Stylish Blogger Award by Patricia Lynne. So Thank you Patricia!

I feel honoured to have been nominated as I am so proud of Life in Clarity and how it is growing. Thank you to all who follow and welcome to new followers!

For the award I have to tell you seven things about myself and then nominate ten other bloggers for the award.

Here's my seven;

1. I like to sleep - quite a lot

2. I'm easily distracted by Twitter

3. I love American television dramas

4. I love that as a writer I can read books and call it working

5. My favourite takeaway food is Cantonese

6. My first pet was a guinea pig called Cuddles

7. I want to work in an active volcano (obviously after studying geology)

I now nominate for the stylish blogger award -

Austin James,
Glynis Smy,
Julie Lindsey,
India Drummond,
Tessa's Blurb,
Julie at Fiddlesticks,
Eden Baylee,
Rachel Lyndhurst,
PC Wheeler,

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Secrets and Lies

This week I had to go on a two day trip with work. The trip involved staying away overnight, a lovely Thai meal and a quiet hotel room. We don't do this very often, just when work necessitates. I love being at home with my family, but the occasional quiet evening alone is a pleasure.

The trip involved three colleagues and I meeting other colleagues from the area we were in. We met and politely shook hands during introductions. Later in the day my supervisor informed me that the other supervisor from the meeting had given him a secret handshake so suggested he was a Freemason. (And my spell checker has just made me write Freemason with a capital letter. Ggrrr some more.)

For some reason this really irked me. My supervisor isn't part of the club but recognised some touch on his knuckles from the other persons thumb. Even though he isn't a mason, he can be given the handshake because he's a male and it's the way they identify themselves when meeting without the need to bring it up in conversation. I'm female so I found this very exclusionary. Not part of the club, and no way of being so, due to my gender. I'm serious when I say I was irritated. Something happened in a meeting I was present at, yet I was completely unaware of it.

This got me to thinking about secrecy, secret societies and what it is about them that people find so fascinating.

There is a lot of information available regarding the freemasons. What is it though that draws us in? Makes brilliantly exciting books with conspiracy theories screaming throughout them?

Secrets. Suggestion and silence. These things really seem to tap into our brain and makes us want to know more. If you're writing, keep something back. Suggest something is there, then go off in a totally different direction. It will drive your audience to distraction. I can definitely vouch for that after feeling the knowledge of secrecy in reality.

Mysterious, sinister and exclusionary or harmless, friendly clubs? Can you fold in a secret to your writing and catch your readers attention?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Book Reviews

I have recently done a couple of book reviews on Life in Clarity and will probably be doing a few more as the blog progresses.
Having done these and having read other review blogs, discussions on book reviews, having read a couple of really hateful reviews on Goodreads and combining those with being a writer I have carefully considered what I will be doing with any books I review and what the review will consist of. 
Some book reviewers can be extremely harsh with little thought for the effect their words can have. It's not fun, in fact it's quite uncomfortable. It's someones work that they are happily slagging off in the name of entertainment value. It's unwarranted. And while they may defend their slicing words with comments of individual opinion and authors putting their work out there to be read and critiqued, I see no point in some of the joy that seems to be gleened out of slamming someones work. 
So, if you are reading a book review here, you will be getting an account of what the book is about, taken from the blurb and my reading. I have no intention of being nasty about a book even if I haven't really enjoyed it. All writers put a lot of work in and love and treasure their work, so I will simply review it by commenting on it's style how easy I felt it was to read. Why I enjoyed it or didn't. If I didn't enjoy a book, it will be because it's just not my thing. Reading is a very personal pass-time. I will generally put up books that are readable and I'd recommend. A place to pass on good reads if you will. 
Here you will get a good feel of what the book is and how readable and enjoyable it was for me. How you will get on with it is something entirely different, but I hope to be able to give you an idea of what you will get. 

If you want ideas for books to read, do check back and I will try to do them as often as I can. I will then try my hardest to get an author interview at a later date. 

Happy reading in the safety of a blog not going to turn book reviews into slasher fests. 

Friday, 18 March 2011

Friday Blog Hop

The Crazy for Books blog hosts a weekly Friday blog hop where a question is set, you add your link and away you go, blog hopping and meeting new bloggers. If books are your thing I'd fully recommend you join the hop. It's a great way to find some brilliant book blogs and chat to some, passionate about book, people. 

This weeks question is:  "Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?"

As you can see from my sidebar with the Goodreads widget, I am currently reading two books. This is a new thing to me since I got an ereader at christmas. I read in the bath but am loathe to take it into the bath as I have dropped my phone in there in the past, so I have no intention of dropping my shiny new-ish iPad. Therefore I have a paper book going at the same time as an ebook.  I tend to make sure they are different genres so that I don't get confused with plot lines and sticking to this rule tends to make having two books on the go a fairly easy thing to do. 

Sunday, 13 March 2011

New Look Blog

For a while now I have been looking at my blog and thinking that it doesn't have enough of a "feel" about it, but I didn't really know where to start changing things.

Yesterday I made enquiries on a Facebook group I use, asking where I could obtain a new header, one that I could have the blog name and my name within the header, without it looking as it currently did, the blogger system simply doing some writing over the image I chose.

Very kindly Tessa from Tessa's Blurb created me a header from a couple of parameters I gave her.

I asked for simplicity, blog name and my name and something red in it as I'm writing a crime novel and I want the blog to be a part of my process with that. The blog being a focus being on my writing, books, authors and including my life ramblings as I go through everything.

The above is what Tessa came up with. I love it. I like the cleanness of  the white background blending with the blog. I like the dash of colour. I like the corner indication of what it is I do. I personally love it. What I want to know though, is how you, the readers feel about it? You're the ones that come here and read what I write. What are your thoughts on the new look and colour theme?

Saturday, 12 March 2011

I'm not 40.

This weekend I have a birthday. In fact tomorrow I turn 40. This has been terrifying me for the past six months. I've always been proud of the fact that I look younger than my age, but there's something different about turning forty.

I'm now looking in the mirror and seeing the effects of age. I actually feel that tomorrow I will look in the mirror and overnight I will look at least a hundred years old.

I have approached every birthday before this as just another number, but forty is actual adulthood. There's no getting away from the fact that I'm no longer young. I think I have to start wearing a hair net and ask for a blue rinse at the hairdressers.

So in order to prevent the complete and utter degeneration of my mind and body by turning the incredibly old age of forty, if anyone asks my age, for at least a good couple of years, I have decided I will be 39. That sounds like a good plan and one I hope, no one will be able to pull me up on. Unless that is, I actually do look like an old haggard maid tomorrow.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Japan Tsunami 11th March 2011

Today I had planned to do a blog post and was torn between two subjects. Both of them pretty trivial. Events of the day have taken over my thoughts as an 8.9 earthquake hits Japan causing a massive tsunami which is devastating the country. So instead of a frivolous blog post I thought I would post a permanent reminder on Life in Clarity of todays events in pictures.

In todays era of technological advancement any disaster is instantly captured for the whole world to see and to share. Sometimes I feel a little like a peeping tom, but seeing the images as they happen really brings home the enormity of what the people of Japan are facing. It's not just images for them, they are living and breathing this.

Japan is one of the most advanced countries in the world and as the earthquake shook their world, people all over had their cameras and video cameras out to record events. Images of offices shaking with equipment falling, water crashing across roads and country, people cowering in the streets and objects fall around them are shared. In todays world the world is a smaller place.

Today I leave you with images from across the world in Japan. I am thinking of them and hoping no one else has to die and also hoping that the nuclear reactor that is failing to cool stands firm and a further disaster does not add to what they are already dealing with.

All pictures used are from Reuters 

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Book Review - The Hating Game

Today I am reviewing The Hating Game by Talli Roland. Talli had a successful eBook launch last year and today the book is newly available in paperback. To celebrate the release I am reviewing the book.  

The Hating Game - Talli Roland

When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £50,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end? I found this book a very easy relaxing read. Mattie was likeable even though she had very obvious flaws. She discarded people easily and gave little thought to their feelings but as the book progressed you began to understand why and see her in a different light. The humour from each of the dates is well written and amusing as previous bad dating decisions come back to haunt Mattie. The other characters in the book have obviously been well thought out as much as the protagonist. I particularly liked the hapless Nate as he continually attempted to show what great producer material he was while all the time failing in the false light of Baz Johnson.

The will they, won't they scenario is well played out throughout the book as exes come back from the past. Which one will you be rooting for and do they get the girl. Definitely worth checking out the pages of this girly chick-lit.

As for small sausages, I don't think I will ever look at one the same way again. 

Overall a quick page turning girly read. 

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Author Interview - Rachel Lyndhurst

Today's post is an author interview with newly published author of contemporary romance novel Storms Heart previously reviewed here, Rachel Lyndhurst. 

Welcome to Life in Clarity Rachel and thank you for agreeing to do this interview. 

Your first novel Storms Heart has recently been released by Embrace Books. How long have you been writing prior to being accepted by a publisher?

I started writing seriously about five years ago. My first novel took a year to write in the few hours I had while my youngest was at pre-school, so my first submission was four years ago.

How did the idea for Storms Heart come about?

I’m sure it’s against one of those ‘rules’ you read about when you’re starting to learn your craft, but location is very often my starting point. In Storm’s Heart, the action begins in London, on the London Eye in particular. I was lucky enough to be invited to a champagne reception on it and the same year, I went on holiday to the main location of the book, historic Lindos, Rhodes.

I wasn’t just inspired by the age and architecture of Lindos, but also by the Greek Legends associated with it; particularly Helios the sun god and his demi-god son, Phaeton. A salutary tale of what can happen if you don’t do as your father tells you. A fiery battle of disobedience and death. This sowed the seed for my character Andreas Lazarides and gave me two different worlds to smash together for an initial conflict.

Layered into this, I came across a poignant newspaper article about General Sir Mike Jackson’s son Mark Jackson, who reinvented himself after injury forced him to leave the army. He gave his sculpture of a lifeless Icarus his own scars. Without giving out any spoilers, this inspired me towards Andreas Lazarides’ dark secret.

I’ve also been a member of Amnesty International for many years which has raised my awareness of many issues and problems that rarely make the daily news. Storm’s Heart scrapes the surface of one of these and forms some of the back-story for Kizzy Dean and Andreas.

How did it go from your unseen work to published book for all to read? It's a process many of my readers will be interested in? 

Ah, now this is going to be an interesting one to answer. The first chapter of Storm's Heart was originally a competition entry for a well know publishing house (it had a different title) and while waiting for the results I carried on and finished writing the whole book anyway. I didn't place, but I was asked to send in the following two chapters to a named senior editor. Woo hoo!

I waited TWENTY SIX weeks (I did chase after twenty!) only to receive my very first form rejection. I'd always had some sort of feedback before, so I was completely gutted.  And then I got a bit cross- it was a good book!. And then came a call for submissions from Embrace Books. I subbed and a few days later I was asked for the rest of the book . On day seven, I had an email to say that Embrace books would very much like to publish Storm's Heart!

The offer was in July 2010, and Storm's Heart was published as a launch title for Embrace Books on February 14th 2011. There was a lot of hard work to do in those seven months though!

How much input do you get with the cover design of a published book?

With Embrace I was asked to provide details of the characters/location for the cover and to suggest a key scene from the book. I don't think this happens with all publishers- you get what you're given and sometimes the covers bear no resemblance to the story. I was delighted with Storm's Heart though - just gorgeous!

How did you feel on publication day?

I'd like to say euphoric, over-the-moon, all that sort of thing, but where Embrace was being launched at the time there was so much happening I had no time to bask in the wonder of it all. It was more than hectic for the whole of launch week. The most emotional moment for me was when I go the offer email in July actually. I was at home alone with the children at the start of the school holidays and after screaming a bit, I cried. It was a dream come true.

Can you tell us what you are currently working on?

 I'm currently working on another contemporary romance, this time the hero's a gorgeous Italian. I hope my editor likes him - she's not seen him yet!

When you're not writing, what genres do you like to read? 

I enjoy lots of different things, so it's probably easier to say I'm not massively into crime or thrillers. I read The Daily Telegraph every day without fail as well - an endless source of ideas and inspiration.

Do you have a favourite book and if so what is it?

 That is SUCH a hard question! I'll have to say George Orwell's 1984, because it changed the way I see the world for good.

What does a dedicated writer do in her spare time for fun?

Drink wine, eat crisps and actually talk to people in the flesh. Even her own children sometimes!

If you weren't a writer what would your dream occupation be?

I'd love to be a top antique dealer. I did have a go at it once, but after 9/11 the market collapsed and never really recovered. It's a tough business to be in these days. As is publishing!

If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you and why?

Christina Hendricks because she's absolutely stunningly feminine. There'd have to be a fair bit of artistic licence,mind, my curves aren't quite the same as hers!

All that's left to say is thank you Rachel for taking the time to answer these questions. I very much appreciate it and have really enjoyed your answers. I wish you well with the second novel and can't wait to read it. 

Rachel can be found on twitter and Facebook as well as her blog and her book Storms Heart on Amazon. 

Monday, 7 March 2011

Friend Reunion

On Saturday I went to a friends 40th birthday party. Now that in itself is depressing, the fact that this year I'm turning 40, but this party was special. I received the invite just a week prior to the party and I was thrilled. I hadn't seen Rhona for about 20 years and yet she had managed to find me and had invited all our old school gang to her 40th birthday. 

Along with the excitement of seeing old friends I was also anxious. I've filled out a little since I last saw them. (ok, a little, may be a slight under exaggeration) How would they see me? What would they think? Could we get along after all this time? Lots of questions I really couldn't know the answer to until I actually went to the party. 

The day of the party I was so stressed. I messed about with my hair for a ridiculous amount of time and started to feel pressured. I hoped that the night was going to go well. My husband had booked a taxi to pick us up at half past midnight. If it went terribly it was going to be a long night. 

I needn't have worried. The minute I walked in the room Rhona recognised me a threw her open arms around me sqealing. I returned the open arms and the squealing in equal measure. It was so great to see her. 

Rhona then pointed to where Sarah was stood and more hugging, squealing and "I can't believe it"s ensued. I had abandoned hubby but he'd found company in the shape of Sarahs husband. 

Next Emily walked in and we stood waving wildly so she would see us. This whole scenario continued until all six of my old school group were stood together, husbands randomly abandoned to their own devices. 

An eighties disco took us to the dance floor and we boogied are excited energy away to the likes of Wham and Erasure. 

All danced and gossiped out, the evening end came far too soon. We've delighted in how easy it was to be back together and have promised to get together every couple of months and keep doing it until we are comparing our blue rinses. 

I'm so glad I went. It was easy and comfortable being with them and I now know, true friendship is one where 20 years can feel like yesterday. I know it doesn't always turn out so well, but for us it was amazing. 

Names have been changed to protect the innocent :) 

Friday, 4 March 2011

Entering the Debut Dagger

Several weeks ago I entered the Crime Writers Association, Debut Dagger competition, but it's taken me this long to actually write about it. The competition involved submitting the first 3,000 words of your crime novel and a synopsis between 500-1,000 words.

Considering I'm 25,000 words into my novel, means that the first 3,000 words were already there. I mistakenly thought this would be hard work but not too difficult. How mistaken can one girl be.

I spent  three hard weeks editing those already written 3,000 words. I'd edit, print it out, see more mistakes, edit some more then see whole paragraphs that sounded ridiculous and rewrite those. I wrote character profiles and learned more about who my characters were. The main character I already had, but during this process, I wrote complete profiles for several of the big characters.

All this was ridiculously time consuming. I never at any point realised it would be this way. I must have edited every single sentence in those first 3,000 words. It's shown me that once the first draft is complete the work really begins.

Once I'd settled on the correct words for my entry I had to write the synopsis. A synopsis for a book I haven't even finished writing yet.
I wrote the first part, next I wrote the ending which I already knew, then the conflict my characters were facing and once all that was in, I had to sit down to work out what the middle would involve. That was difficult and I'm not sure I've got that bit down right. I have multiple victims and multiple offenders so it gets a bit confusing.

Anyway, DJ.Kirkby very kindly offered to look at my synopsis and gave me some feedback on areas I hadn't made clear, so I did a little jigging about a bit, I was finally finished one hour before the closing time of midnight. I never imagined I would work so long on it, but though I was shattered, I was and am really pleased with myself. No matter what happens, I know my story and my characters a lot better now because of the competition, so continuing with the novel itself will be an easier enjoyable process. And I have no deadlines to panic over.

It will be several months before a short list comes out and I'm definitely not expecting to make it even close, what I am, is proud of the fact that I entered. It's an experience that has helped me. I entered The Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger competition!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Rheumatology Appointment

On Monday I had an appointment with the rheumatologist. My GP had referred me back to him to query ehlers danlos syndrome after he had given me a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. A complaint often running alongside EDS. 

I went fully expecting the consultant to do the examination and give me a diagnosis,  or not, depending on his medical opinion. I was really pleased I might finally get some answers, though anxious about what it would mean to my life. 

Imagine my emotional drop when he told me he couldn't do the diagnosis and had to refer me to the genetics team to assess me for EDS. He did tell me that I scored a 5 on the beighton scale (which puts me in the bendy enough for EDS category). I felt even more gutted. I genuinely feel that EDS is the problem as there are relevant issues with my son and my sister as well as my own. 

Why on earth did he make me wait two months for an appointment when he knew he couldn't do a diagnosis? I'm so frustrated with it all. I'm struggling with pain and exhaustion and just want answers so I can deal with it and adjust my life and potentially my sons life and get on with it. 

I have no faith in our local genetics team as they weren't very helpful last year. I'm now considering calling the consultants secretary and asking for the referral to go to a London consultant I've been recommended. It's a long trek but it could prove more helpful. I have to ask myself if I do this or be more vocal when seeing the local team. 

Yet again there is more waiting.