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Monthly December 2016
Writing Horror – Screaming In The Dark

It seems an odd thing to do, to write horror. When there are a wealth of genres out there, when I could be writing about perfect love or fantastic dragons or gun-toting cowboys, why choose to create the most terrifying, the most soul-shredding, the most unwelcome?

My answer is a simple one: because I like it. I like horror.

I like to read it, I like to watch it, I like to think about it, and I like to write it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t.

As to why I like it, that’s a more complicated question, with a different kind of answer.

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As a child, I was scared. A lot. Most of the time. Not that I wasn’t a happy child, with a normal family and normal surroundings and normal friends. I was. Perfectly normal. But I was also perfectly scared. There was a seeping, creeping horror that hovered around me, enveloped me, and at night I would scrunch my eyes shut and hide beneath the covers in the hope that whatever it was wouldn’t see me because I couldn’t see it.

And there was, as far I can tell, as far as I can remember, no reason for it. Nothing that particularly stands out as being that one specific moment in which something happened – something ghostly and ghoulish and downright petrifying – that haunted me for the rest of my days.

I was a normal girl, but a strange one.

Being alone was bad. I hated it. These days I crave a bit of solitude, but then, when that fear stole over me, I only wanted to be around people. It’s just that sometimes, there were no people to be around. And so I created some. I reached the age of twelve and simply decided that I needed constant, immediate access to someone.

But who? And how?

I started to go to bed and instead of cowering under the covers I moulded myself heroes and heroines, safe houses and refuges. I began to make up stories. These stories became my talisman, protecting me from the real evil by pretending about it. It seemed to me that nothing in the real world could possibly be as frightening as the world I was creating in my head, and so my heroes were slain, horribly. My heroines were kidnapped and tortured. My safe houses and refuges were pillaged by monsters and demons and ghosts.

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And because I’d made it all up, just me, by myself, it wasn’t so scary after all. I enjoyed it. And I began to write my stories down. I began to read other people’s stories. I began to watch the films. Because it was all safe. It was all made up.

I’ve been doing that ever since.

Just don’t ask me to read or watch any ‘true’ horror stories.

They keep me up at night.

If you would like me to write horror for you – or anything else – please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Short Story: My Gingerbread House

I wanted a gingerbread house. They asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I told them, a gingerbread house please (making sure to say please as I knew they liked it when I did that). They ummed and ahed about it, but I was pretty sure it was going to come off. The kids at school would go crazy when they saw it. I’d have to invite everyone over to see it, it would make them like me. It would have to. I mean, who wouldn’t like someone with their very own gingerbread house? If it were me, and some kid came up to me at school and told me they had one, I’d be their BFF just to get to see it, maybe to eat a bit of it.

I was so excited about it that I told everyone in advance that I was getting one. And the excitement was kind of like a disease or something because in the end everyone had it. Even the teachers were a bit less strict, as though they thought I might ask them if they wanted to take a look. But I wouldn’t do that. That is not something a popular kid does, and all of a sudden I was popular.

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My birthday was a Saturday and I told everyone to get to my house for around lunch time, because there would be plenty to eat and I didn’t think my parents would mind. Turns out they did sort of mind because they had planned to take me out to lunch, which they did, and by the time we got back there were dozens of school children – and quite a few parents – milling around in our front garden, waiting to be let in.

This was it. This was the big unveiling, wasn’t it? This was when my parents were going to show off what they’d bought me and the others, my friends, I guess, would be impressed.

My parents were probably still in a bit of shock over the number of people who had turned up, especially when I hadn’t mentioned that anyone at all would be coming over. I never had people over, so that was a surprise right there. But they were gracious about it, invited everyone in and set about making teas and coffees, offering juices and squash, rummaging around in cupboards to find snacks and biscuits to offer around. Some of the parents – most, maybe all – guessed this was a bit of a shock for mine, and they suggested coming back later, or the next day, or the next week. Whatever. But I couldn’t have that, not when I was about to get my gingerbread house. “No, it’s all right,” I said before my mum and dad could open their mouths. “Really, isn’t it? Isn’t it?” I insisted.

Mum and Dad smiled, a little stiffly, but what else could they do? “Of course,” said Dad, nudging Mum. “Isn’t it?”

Mum nodded.

The room did not relax. If anything, the atmosphere got more strained. No one was really speaking, there was a lot of foot shuffling and throat clearing. “Nice coffee,” someone murmured. My mum thanked them, glanced out of the window at the garage, looked back into the room. “Well, we were going to do this later,” she declared, the silence shattering at the sound, “But since everyone’s here…” She gave a fleeting look at my dad, willing him to take over. Ten years of marriage and he knew what to do. “Yes, the big unveiling. Do you want your main present?”

I was tempted to shake my head, say no, do it later, forget it completely, it doesn’t matter because I was gripped with the terrible sureness that they had got me something else. Something that, although most probably amazing and brilliant, was not what I had promised the guests. Instead I grinned and jumped up and down and said, “Yes please!”

This cheered my parents up quite a lot. My being happy always put a smile on their faces, which is why I didn’t want to be a pain about things. My dad trotted off to the garage, and my mum ushered everyone into the garden. She looked pretty excited by this point. She was sort of glowing with the fun she was having, showing off what she’d bought me. Fair enough. If it made her happy…

And then there was a strange squeaky sound, and my dad was pulling a massive something covered in a sheet along the grass on a platform, the wheels making the high pitched yelping as they rolled. “Ta da!” Dad shouted tunelessly as he got near to us. He whipped off the sheet and there, golden brown and chocolaty sweet, there in front of me was a gingerbread house. Bet you thought it was going to be a cake or something. It wasn’t. It was huge, and it was mine. The crowd gasped, and there was a spattering of applause from the adults. The kids just stared.

“Is it all right?” asked Mum, a bit breathlessly. “Is this what you wanted?” asked Dad, a lot breathlessly.

I said nothing. I walked up to it, sensing my school mates behind me, itching to rush forward and start chewing. The pink and white candy canes, the massive chocolate buttons, the red and black liquorice laces, the sprinkles, the sparkles, the sherbet and the jellies… it was beautiful.

Before I could stop them, I had tears on my cheeks. That was unexpected. That was unwelcome. But it emptied my head of nonsense and it set my brain thinking. That feeling of tension was still behind me. It was palpable, a living thing raring to be set free. But I, I chose to keep it caged.

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“Thanks for coming,” I said, turning around to face them, their red faces and gleaming eyes looking through me at the gingerbread house. “You can go now.”

Faces dropped. Parents looked at one another. Kids laughed, then stopped because my expression told them I meant it. “Er, that’s not very polite,” my mum said, attempting to save me from exile. I shrugged. “I’m not trying to be polite,” I said. “I’m saying these bullies, these jokers, these snobs who think they’re better than me, the ones who pull my hair and steal my lunch money, the ones who copy my homework and kick me and laugh at my clothes, I’m saying this is mine. All mine. Goodbye.”

I turned back to the wonderful, amazing, magnificent gingerbread house and waited. Slowly, I could feel the crowd growing less until I was alone.

Just me and the gingerbread house.

As it should be.

What’s So Great About Book Tokens?

The humble (actually, not so humble) book token is something to be celebrated. It’s not only something that could (and is by many) be considered a national treasure, but it is also one of the most wonderful gifts anyone can give.

Why?

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Books are intensely personal things. These magical worlds that can be escaped into are different for everyone. And just because one person found something to understand, something that spoke to them in one book, it doesn’t mean someone else will. So buying books is something that is fraught with danger. It’s too hard. It’s too difficult to get right.

And what if the recipient already has that novel, that biography, that cookbook?

A book token solves all of those problems. Giving a book lover a book token is like giving them the key to their own universe. They can go into a book shop full of confidence, knowing that they can buy one, two, three – maybe even more – books that they want. Not ones that others have chosen for them, not ones that others have presumed they will enjoy, but books that they have had on their wish lists for months, years, their whole lives.

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It’s the choosing of the books that is the gift, and it’s a generous one.

It’s a magical moment. It’s a freeing feeling.

Now isn’t that the perfect gift to give a loved one? I think so.

What’s more, book tokens can be personalised, making them even more special. Whether it’s a card that can be coloured by the recipient as any extra treat, or one that has their happy face all over it, these book tokens are pure joy.

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National Book Tokens can be bought and spent in thousands of bookshops including independents, Waterstones, WHSmith, Blackwells and Easons. They can be spent on eBooks at The Indie eBook Shop (indieebook.co.uk) and online at Foyles and O’Mahony’s.

You can get yours here: http://www.nationalbooktokens.com/buy

 

Peacock Poetry Prize returns for Brighton Festival 2017 with theme of ‘everyday epic’

Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that this year’s Peacock Poetry Prize will have the theme of ‘everyday epic’, a subject chosen by Brighton Festival 2017 Guest Director Kate Tempest.

From a pebbled beach to a stranger’s smile, from a sporting milestone to a quiet read, budding writers are invited to reflect on the small observations and achievements of our daily lives which we piece together to celebrate and share our common humanity.

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Kate Tempest says: “Music, literature, theatre, film – these things are so important, they bring us together into the same space, they give us ourselves, they bring us to life, they beam our humanity back to us in all its hideous beauty. And in these times, with the fear spreading everywhere and the divisions between us deepening daily, we desperately need to remember that we are all part of the same thing.”

The annual creative writing competition, produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC), encourages young writers to explore the written word from a creative point of view and aims to get young people writing right across Sussex. The competition asks local poets aged between 8 and 19 years to explore and respond to a specific subject in an imaginative and inventive way. Submissions are divided into four age groups: 8-11 years, 11-13 years 13-16 years and 16-19 years. In addition, this year the Brighton and Hove environmental education project (BHee) will also be giving a special prize to a school pupil whose poem celebrates our interaction with the natural world.

Pippa Smith, Head of Creative Learning at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: “The Peacock Poetry Prize is a fantastic opportunity for young people to get involved with Brighton Festival. I’m always taken aback at the number and range of submissions we receive, and this year I hope Kate Tempest’s theme of ‘everyday epic’ will inspire our young writers’ imaginations to produce some wonderful poetryonce again.”

William Baldwin, Principal of Brighton Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College, said, “I am delighted that BHASVIC is once again able to promote the Peacock Poetry Competition with Brighton Festival across Sussex. I’m very much looking forward to reading this year’s entries on the theme of ‘Everyday Epic’ and to meeting the runners-up and winners in May!”

The competition is open to residents of Brighton & Hove, East and West Sussex. Each budding writer may submit up to three poems with a maximum length of 20 lines per poem. Entries must be emailed, together with full name, age and date of birth to peacock@brightonfestival.org or posted to Peacock Poetry Prize, Brighton Festival, 12a Pavilion Buildings, Castle Square, Brighton BN1 1EE.

The deadline for entries is 5pm on Monday 3 April 2017. Finalists and their friends and relatives will be invited to a reception in Brighton Dome Thursday 25th May 5 pm when the winners of each age category and the BHee prize will be announced.

Sweet Oblivion – Interview with Debut Novelist Rhiana Ramsey

Murder, intrigue, and sex combined with a shocking conclusive twist – Sweet Oblivion is the tense debut novel of Sussex writer and serving police detective, Rhiana Ramsey (pseudonym).

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What genre would you classify Sweet Oblivion as?

I’d describe it as a dark crime thriller thread with eroticism.

Tell us about your book – why this story and the focus on S&M?

The story follows DC Elizabeth Lane and her colleagues as they hunt down the killer of the chilling emasculating murders that keep happening around town.

With my history serving as a police detective I’ve always been fascinated by the psychological angle of a killer. I wanted my character to hold true power over men and a dominatrix character was the perfect way to convey this, while weaving in some elements of S&M. With the release of 50 Shades of Grey this area of eroticism has become more mainstream and a subject people are interested in reading about.

What was your reason for setting the novel in London?

I worked in London for many years and know the area very well. My knowledge and background of the city made it easy to visualise my settings and scenes.

This is your first completed novel. What gave you the courage to write the book and what inspires you to write?

When I first started writing my book I was a single woman, completing my psychology degree whilst working full time in the Criminal Investigation Department and yet I was felt something was missing. I needed an outlet. I find writing therapeutic and an opportunity to take a step back from the real world.

When I first put pen to paper so to speak to write Sweet Oblivion I had no idea where it was going, but I got the bug and began to create storyboards and backgrounds for all my characters.

Throughout my life I’ve suffered with depression. When I was younger I used to write music, I still do on occasion, but these days I prefer creative writing as, it provides me with the perfect opportunity to escape and have complete control of a story – the situation, characters and outcome etc.

I suppose I actually wrote my first book when I was 12. It was called ‘Ravenscroft’ and was based upon a satanic crow that encouraged a pack of wolves to kill for him – needless to say it wasn’t published but I’ve obviously always seemed to have a passion for the macabre from a young age. My policing experience in my adult life has helped to re-ignite my imagination and it’s this that has ultimately led to the creation of Sweet Oblivion.

How long did the book take to write?

The book actually took nearly three years to complete from conception to publication however the bulk of the writing was completed in two months when I decided to take time off work.

What made you finally sit down and complete your book?

Work was tough, I’d been in court as a victim after dealing with a bad relationship and I lost my father all in a matter of months. Everything happened at once and I needed time out. I took two months off from the CID and that gave me the time to complete my manuscript.

At what point did you know you were ready to publish?

As soon as I’d finished writing the first draft I knew I was completely happy with the story. However, I spent about six months editing and tweaking little snippets before I finally submitted the manuscript to the printers.

What made you decide to self-publish and do you think this was a positive or negative experience?

It was a very positive experience! I decided to self-publish after speaking with a couple of agents who only seemed to show interest in you if you could prove you had a following already and were ultimately going to make them money. Being a self-published author means you have more control over what happens and if you have the time to promote it properly, it can be a very successful and enjoyable experience.

What would your advice be to anyone hoping to self-publish?

Unfortunately, as with most ventures, you need to have a little bit of money behind you to get started. Most people these days don’t actually print, they self-publish online. Whilst printing can often be expensive (and you should pay a little more for a good quality printer), it’s the most amazing feeling when your book turns up in the post.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m currently in the middle of reading Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer who’s one of my all-time favourite authors. Once I’ve finished that I’ll dive straight into the seventh Clifton Chronicles novel – This Was a Man – I’ve been waiting with baited breath for it to come out.

In this day and age, do you prefer e-readers or a hard copy book?

An e-reader will never outsell a classic hard copy in my opinion. I love the feeling of actually reading a printed story and holding the book in my hands.

With the release of your first novel, what are your ambitions for your writing career?

I know it’s very clichéd but I would love to become a full time successful author. I dream of being able to live off my completed novels and write books from anywhere in the world.

If Sweet Oblivion was made into a film, which celebrities would you love to cast as your characters?

That’s a tricky one. For my main character, Louise, the actor would need to be intelligent, attractive and have an athletic build, perhaps someone like Mila Kunis who often plays relatable characters. I would love for Sandra Bullock to play Elizabeth as she is seen as a strong, attractive and savvy woman just like my character.

Now you’ve written your first novel, could there perhaps be a second in the pipeline?

I am in the early stages of writing another novel, which will also involve Elizabeth, but that is all I can say for now!

 

What Does Every Writer Need?

Since it’s (almost) Christmas time, I thought it would be a good idea to mention a few things that the writer in your life might appreciate during the festive period. So why not take a look at these gift ideas? Remember, what a writer really wants is a bit of time to write… In the meantime, these will also do nicely:

An Old Typewriter

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It has always been a dream of mine to come across an old, dusty typewriter in a junk shop and bring it home with me where I set it up on a proper heavy oak desk and use it to create masterpieces. It may not be practical, and it may be making more work for myself (no copy and paste, no find and replace, no saving here), but the idea of those click-clacking keys and my hands dancing across them just like Jessica Fletcher still resonates.

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An Old Typewriter With A New Twist

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credit: USBtypewriter.com

No, not an electric version of the good old machine mentioned above, but a totally modern concept in typewriters. I’m talking about a USB typewriter. The fantastic kits from USBTypewriter.com allow you to transform your old typewriter into a gorgeously quirky new one. Simply plug in your tablet so that you can save things and amend your prose with ease, and you still get that authentic typewriter feel and sound. The best of both worlds? Maybe so.

Waterproof Notepad

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Now this one is super useful. Why is it that writers often have their best ideas in situations when it’s impossible to write them down? By the time we get to a notepad and pen, the ideas has been diluted down and the initial rush of excitement has withered. In the worst cases the idea is lost forever. For many, the shower is the place where ideas come flowing freely, and a waterproof notepad from AquaNotes would work wonders. No idea ever need to be lost again.

Intensely Strong Coffee

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My working schedule involves me getting up early (5am) and working for a few hours until the school run starts. Then it’s back to it for as long as possible. But sometimes as long as possible isn’t very long, despite looming deadlines, which is why coffee is an essential part of my writing toolkit. A crazily strong brand of coffee (Death Wish Coffee springs to mind – the name is enough to wake me up, and this is, indeed, the strongest coffee in the world after all) is just about the most wonderful gift a writer can be given.

A Nice Tipple

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By the time evening rolls around, it’s time to pack up my day time writing and bring out the night time stuff. So the blogs and the non-fiction are all saved and closed down, and the fiction finally gets to come out to play for a bit. Now, as Ernest Hemingway so eloquently said, it’s best to ‘write drunk and edit sober’. Not that I’m advocating having a huge amount of alcohol to drink, but a little sip of something is a nice treat at the end of the day. A good slug of dry gin from Anno Distillers in Kent (with some tonic, of course) is the perfect end to a writing day.

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No matter what kind of writing you need, I can help you. Please get in touch – and have a lovely Christmas.

Why Do You Get Your Ideas From?

Where do you get your ideas from?

It’s that question. The one that writers detest and interviewers love.

But why do we dislike answering that one so much? Or do we? Perhaps, now, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy; we’re told that we should hate it, that’s it’s anathema to our creativity. And therefore, when we hear it, we do hate it, it does feel like giving away too much. Even if we have an interesting response. Even if we’re quite sure that our readers would like to know the answer.

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I don’t mind it. If I’m honest, I quite like it. As a question it’s much better than being asked why I started writing (umm… I just did… I just gave it a go and quite liked it… er… something about school and an English project…) or why I write horror (I enjoy reading it, I enjoy writing it) because I never have proper answers for those ones. I always feel a bit of a fraud, a bit like I’m grasping for something – anything – to say just to sound interesting and intellectual.

At least with that question I can answer with either a piece of pure fabrication, or complete honesty. It simply depends on whether I can remember where the idea came from, and if I can whether it was an interesting occasion. Although, admittedly, even when telling the absolute truth my answer will vary from day to day, story to story to novel to flash fiction to poetry… Because that’s the beauty of it. Ideas come from everywhere and nowhere. They are incredible, intangible things that appear in a dream or a cloud or are gleaned from an overheard word or a misunderstood laugh. They are magical, existing in nothing, invisible and incomplete until they are written down and given form and meaning.

If I were asked where I got my idea for my current novel, I might say it was the main character, Jude, who came first. Just popped into my head. Or was it a dream? Did I see him on a train, or walking down the street? Perhaps I based him on someone I know, or someone I’d like to know, or someone I’d never want to know. Or I could say that it was the thought of murders that looked like accidents, and that that idea came from a newspaper, or I looked at a bus and wondered what it would be like… well, you know. It could even have been a song I heard on the radio. Maybe I didn’t quite catch the lyrics and made up my own, and maybe they led me to my first line, which then set the tone for the rest of the book.

A head full of ideas
A head full of ideas…

Say anything. When asked that question, say what you like. Because who is to say what is right and what is wrong when answering, when telling the person who put the question what they want to know?

Equally, who can describe an idea? Not me. They aren’t there, are they? They aren’t real. Except that they are, utterly and incontrovertibly real. Without them we’d be nothing. And not just writers, but scientists, artists, doctors, teachers, lawyers, children, adults, anyone and everyone. Think about it… There, you’ve just had an idea. Just like that.

Now what are you going to do with it?

If you need help, advice, or writing services, please contact me.

New Novel To Be Released: Trip Trap

I have had many novels and short stories published since 2010 when I began writing. Each one has been exciting, and I’m proud of each of my publications.

But Trip Trap, my latest novel, is very important to me. I have taken the decision to self-publish all of my work from now on, and Trip Trap is the first.

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Over the next few months, I will be re-releasing all of my older published works, as well as publishing a new children’s novel, a murder mystery, and a family saga. In the meantime I am also writing a new horror novel for adults, and I am putting ideas together for a collection of children’s stories.

2017 is going to be exciting – I will be writing and publishing more fiction throughout the year. It’s something that I have let fall by the wayside a little as I’ve concentrated on my freelancing services, but I am going to be making more time to keep my fiction writing dreams alive.

I hope you like what I come up with. Here is the beginning of the book…

A quick kiss on the cheek for his wife, and William Spender stepped out of his house and into the early evening warmth. His front garden, bursting with late spring flowers, colourful, new and fresh, gave off the scent of lavender and life. He loved it. He could feel his heart swell because of it.

This was his favourite time of year, April turning to May, with its blossoms and lightening evenings. He took in the smell of cut grass from the meadow just below the horizon, and watched the farmer as he toiled back and forth on his tractor in the field beyond. William could hear the buzz of the engine as it worked.

Perfect.

Except for the heat. Too hot for spring, this was summer warmth, summer sun. It was getting too much, which is why William used the early evening time, before it was dark but after it was sweltering, to take Cliff for a walk.

“I won’t be too long,” said William, turning back, speaking as an afterthought when he realised the door hadn’t closed behind him. He tugged at the lead he held loosely in his hand, enticing the weary old dog attached to it to start creaking his way down the little path to the wooden gate that led out onto the quiet country lane. “An hour at the most.”

Martha smiled indulgently. She knew her husband. An hour would become two in a moment, would become three if the dog would allow it, although at fifteen the poor thing didn’t allow for much at all. “Take your time,” she said, raising her voice so that the man would hear her. He was already unlatching the little gate. It creak-squeaked as it always did, a comforting, familiar sound, two little pips. “Dinner won’t be ready for a while yet, and if you’re not back it’ll keep. Anyway, that dog needs some exercise.” She winked, saying no more. Not needing to. Not wanting to nag too much. Not now.

William shook his head, his cheeks firing red. “He’s not the only one, I know, I know,” he said, trying to sound good-natured, almost making it. He patted his belly where it folded over his belt and hung down over the top of his trousers. Nothing wrong with it. Nothing at all. And anyway, he was retired, enjoying life. Why not gain a little weight, a little warmth? He was fairly fond of his belly.

Martha tutted and shut the door, not keen to let any little creatures make their way inside. She had been bitten enough the night before with the window left open, and she was damned if that was going to happen again. Her ankle was swollen from whatever had had a go at her. She wished she’d never scratched it, sure she had made it worse. A nice soak in the bath would soothe it, and there would be time before William returned. A cool bath. Cold. The idea itself immediately relaxed her. She smiled and meant it, and then almost ran up the stairs, the call of the chill water becoming far too great to resist.

It was too hot to do anything else.

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Newspaper (national) Sub-editing per 1000 450
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Online/digital media Fact checking per day 200

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Have you ever wanted to write a novel, memoir or short story but don’t have the time? Do you have the ideas, but the words don’t flow? I can help. Contact me for a confidential chat.

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Brad B

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I studied English theory at university and have always been interested in the mechanics of writing, but it wasn’t until 2010 when my daughter was born that I started to write professionally. Although this was out of necessity (it was a job that I could do from home, and it brought in enough to pay the bills!), it soon became a passion. Since that time, I have been published in over 40 fiction anthologies and have written seven novels.

Find out more about my publications on my Amazon Author Page.

I am now a full-time freelance writer. The majority of my time is spent writing SEO-friendly blog posts for businesses in all kinds of niches from bakeries to florists to roofing specialists and plenty more in between. 

Between 2014 and 2020 I was the features and online editor for insideKENT magazine.

Today I live with my husband, daughter, and a cat called Cheryl in a cottage in the Kent countryside, writing, painting, and – whenever possible – watching horror films.

http://www.facebook.com/lisamarielambwriter

info@lisamarielamb.co.uk 

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How To Create The Best Playground For Your Children At Home

Kids love being outside because they get to try new and exciting things. Nature gives kids chances to learn, discover, and understand STEM education. Our front and back yards aren’t always safe places for kids to play, which is a shame. Parents want their kids to play in places that are safe and fun.

If you follow these tips, making a home playground for your kids shouldn’t be hard.

best playground
Image by Theodore C.S. Brown Sr. from Pixabay

Decide On The Best Playground Features

Start by making sure the home playground has things that kids will like. Think about how old the child is. Often, a child’s age determines how hard it is to use playground equipment. Get things that will make your child’s senses happy.

There are different kinds of best playground equipment, like water tables, sandpits, playsets, and intricate towers with swings and slides. To get kids closer to nature, you might want to add things like rocks that they can climb on. Make sure you buy structures that are strong, weatherproof, and fit your child’s needs.

Choose The Best Surfacing Material

It’s important to know that the play zone surface is an important part of a home playground. It’s important for the kids’ safety and comfort. By putting down the right kind of surface, you can keep kids safe and make sure they are comfortable.

Many home playground surfaces soften the impact of falls and keep kids comfortable. If you can’t afford the more expensive materials, you can use cheaper ones like wood chips, sand, and gravel instead.

Rubber surfacing is the safest and best choice for the best playground that kids can use. It takes up the kids’ weight and cushions their feet at the same time. Artificial grass for playgrounds is also a great surface material for your own backyard playground.

Install Fencing For The Best Playground

If the playground is only a few metres from your gated home, you need to fence it. Set up complete fencing systems with gates that can close and lock themselves. Your kids and pets will stay in the yard with these high-tech gate systems.

If you can’t put these kinds of gates in your yard, you might want to use garden hedges to make clear lines. These keep your children in the yard and keep them safe. Add a high-tech GPS tracker that kids can use to make sure you can find your kids if they leave the gated area.

How To Save Money On Your Next Move

Modern life often makes you move your home, business, or place of work. So, you’ll have to move your things and other household items, which will take some planning and preparation.

Moving doesn’t have to be hard and expensive all the time. Use the services of professional movers to get a lot of useful information about planning a move, or just follow the simple advice of moving experts to get things done quickly. Read on to find out more. 

Get Rid Of Unnecessary Belongings

Get rid of all the “trash” that has built up in the cabinets and drawers. If you drag around things you don’t need or haven’t used in a long time, you will have to pay too much for their delivery. Donate good things to charity or give them to friends if you don’t want to throw them away.

Use The Right Packing Materials

You can save money if you take care of your own equipment and fragile things to keep them from getting broken. Use things like blankets, foam sheets, cardboard, and packing paper. When you get your boxes from a moving company, they will cost more, and if you don’t use them, you may have to pay to fix them. Use things you already have, like old boxes and bubble wrap.

Don’t Overbuy For Your New House

You should take your time making a list of the most important things you will need in your new home. First, plan the move, unpack all the boxes, and clean the house. Then, decide what you need to buy for your new home. Don’t buy things ahead of time, because you don’t need to fill your new apartment with new things.

Move During The Off Season

The first thing you should think about when moving is the time of year. Many people do think that late spring, summer, and early fall are the best times to move. This means that this time of year is busier. Since there is a lot of demand, prices are higher. If you want to save money, you should avoid moving on weekends and during the summer.

How To Make The Most Of Promo Codes

Promo codes can be used in many different ways when shopping online. For example, when you use a code for shipping, you can ask for a gift. It’s best to use coupons that offer both free shipping and a discount.

And if you can combine more than one discount code, you can save even more. Read on to find out more about how to use a coupon code when shopping online. Here are some of the most useful tips for shopping online.

promo codes

Free Gifts Are A Great Way To Use Promo Code

Gifts are a great way to move stock, and they work best when they come with a certain amount of spending. You can let people know about the gift separately or add it to your code at checkout. Make sure to include a specific time and amount to qualify for the gift, and tie it into your buyer persona. Here are some ways to use a free gift to get more people to buy.

If you’re giving away a free gift with a purchase, make sure your offer says “while supplies last.” This makes people feel like they need to act quickly and keeps them from getting angry if you run out of the gift. Also, make sure you have enough of the freebie. Running out of freebies is one of the most frustrating things for customers.

Free gifts, samples of products, and discounts can all be used as incentives. A loyalty program is another way to get people to buy from you more than once. A customer loyalty program is based on a simple idea: give a free gift to people who buy from you more than once. If you give free gifts with purchases, customers will be more likely to buy from you. You can make a good impression on potential customers and get their business if you give them free gifts.

Coupons That Give Both A Discount And Free Shipping Are Better

Even though coupon codes can get you a discount on a certain product, it’s often best to combine a discount with a free shipping coupon. But you should think about the shipping costs and compare them to the discount hobby lobby coupon. Coupons that offer both discounts and free shipping are better when shopping online, especially if you want to buy a lot of things. It’s important to keep in mind that some stores have rules about which coupon codes can be used together and which ones can’t.

Some people may not be able to spend enough to get free shipping, but many stores offer discounts for shopping in-store. These kinds of deals are common on Black Friday, but you can also get them in the form of bonus coupons to save even more money. Think about which type of coupon is more valuable to you when deciding which choice is best. You should also think about whether it’s worth the risk for your business to offer both discounts and free shipping.

Stacking Promo Codes Can Be Tricky

When you shop online, combining coupons is a great way to save as much money as possible. When you use two or more coupons at the same time, it can be tricky, but you can save twice as much. Sign up for store newsletters or keep an eye on coupon sites to find out about the latest deals. If you follow these tips, it’s easy to stack coupons and save a lot of money when you shop online. Here are a few tips on how to successfully stack coupons online:

Using more than one coupon code when shopping online is becoming more and more popular. It used to be a common thing to do at grocery stores, but now more stores are letting you do it. Retailers like Kohl’s have made it easier for customers to save even more money by combining multiple coupon codes. One store, Kohl’s, lets customers use up to four discount codes at the same time on their website or mobile device. As the number of people who want to stack coupon codes keeps going up, more stores are starting to do it to keep up with competitors. But be careful as you do it. Stacking can cause you to spend more than you need to, so not everyone should do it.

Why It’s Important To Dress Comfortably

When most individuals consider the advantages of wearing comfortable clothing, they consider the physical comfort that is delivered. However, people who make it a point to dress comfortably on a daily basis might reap several additional advantages. The next article will go over some of the most important advantages of wearing comfortable clothing and how they can enhance your life in a variety of ways.

When You Dress Comfortably It Can Help To Improve Your Mood

When you’re feeling down or stressed, the last thing you want to do is put on an outfit that makes you feel bad. When you wear clothes that are too tight or scratchy, your mood can get worse. On the other hand, putting on a pair of soft, cosy pyjamas can help you relax and feel more comfortable. This can make you feel better all around.

Also, if your clothes are too tight, you might feel self-conscious about the way you look. This can also make people feel bad. You can avoid these kinds of bad feelings when you dress comfortably.

Lastly, when you wear comfortable clothes, your brain gets the message that it’s time to chill out, and that’s never a bad thing. 

Dressing Comfortably Can Help To Reduce Your Stress Levels

You already know that stress can hurt your body and mind. To improve your health as a whole, you need to find ways to lower your stress levels.

One way to do this is to wear clothes that are easy to move around in. When you are stressed, your body tightens up, which can make you feel bad. Wearing loose, comfortable clothes can help your body and mind relax, which will make you feel less stressed.

Also, worrying about how you look in your clothes will only add to your stress if you do it all the time. If you dress comfortably, you won’t have to worry about this and can instead focus on more important things.

When You Dress Comfortably You Can Get A Good Night’s Sleep

A good night’s sleep is important for staying healthy. Unfortunately, many people have trouble sleeping because their clothes are too tight or too loose. If your clothes are too tight or scratchy, you will have a hard time getting the restful sleep you need.

Putting on comfy clothes to bed can help you unwind and fall asleep faster. Also, if your bed is comfortable, you are less likely to wake up in the middle of the night. This can help people sleep better in general.

In the end, there are many reasons to dress comfortably. There are many benefits to making comfort a priority in your life, like better moods and less stress. So, the next time you get dressed, choose clothes that make you feel good both physically and mentally.

4 Ways To Win Customers Back After They Return Or Cancel An Order

When you run a business, you have to deal with both known and unknown problems. We will talk about a specific problem that many companies could face and how to solve it. That problem is when a product is sent back or a service is stopped.

We’ve looked at a lot of companies that have this problem and we will talk about how a business can win customers back.

Offer An Incentive To Win Customers Back

As soon as they return or cancel your purchase, take urgent action. Make an effort to make it up to them; this will demonstrate your sincerity in apologising for not living up to their expectations. You could offer them a discount right away, or you can give them a free swap. In order to win customers back, you must respond quickly and make them a repeat customer.

Acknowledge The Problem

Accepting responsibility for your actions is the most effective strategy for retaining and gaining new clients. Ask your consumer why they’re feeling the way they are. Also, provide them with a remedy to this problem. This may help them focus and create a strong first impression, which might lead to a second meeting and ensure you win customers back.

Offer Discounts On New Products

If you don’t act right away, you might lose that customer for good. It is very important that you talk to unhappy customers right away. It doesn’t have to happen right away every time.

If you’re making a new product and focusing on fixing the problems that your customers are worried about, you can take your time, but it will take more work to win them back than it did before.

Focus On How To Win Customers Back In Groups

The first thing you should do is address any difficulties that the bulk of your clients are having. As a result, fixing this issue might help you gain a larger share of your current client base. You must address the issue and target a certain segment with your product or service in order to be successful.

Top Tips for Going Home After a Lovely Holiday

There’s always a little bit of dread when you think about going home after a lovely holiday, but after a perfect one, that feeling gets stronger. You start to miss the warm weather, the freedom, the late mornings, and how carefree you are when you’re on vacation.

This means that your last few days are sad because you can’t stop thinking about leaving that amazing place. But by feeling this way, you don’t enjoy the last few days, when you should be living and experiencing everything even more than before.

What can you do to stop feeling this way, enjoy your time off, and be okay with going back home? The following tips will help you when you don’t want your lovely holiday to end and you don’t want to go back to real life.

Enjoy The Time You Have Left On Your Lovely Holiday

Instead of letting yourself think about how those are the last few days, you should really enjoy and value those last moments. Live in the moment, enjoy that walk through the old town, read a book under that palm tree, swim in the sea, and go snorkelling.

You’re right, it will be back to real life soon, so why would you want to miss out on some pretty amazing moments on your lovely holiday? Take a deep breath in and open your eyes to see what’s around you.

Photographic Evidence

Yes, take many pictures! Not only for social media, but also because you’ll want to remember those times. If you spent it with family, that’s one of the best ways to remember it, so take pictures of it so you can look at them months or years from now.

If you start to miss your vacation, you can look at the photos and, if you try really hard, you can almost be back there.

Schedule Your First Week Back

After a lovely holiday, the first few days or week are the worst. The hardest part of being back home is getting back into a routine, like going back to school or work and getting up at a certain time.

Make sure your week is busy and full of things to do. This will give you a purposeful diversion and make the process easier. So, plan things to do with your friends after work, run errands, and do your laundry in the first few days. If you keep yourself busy, your first week back will go by in a flash.

4 Signs Your Business Is In Need Of A Bigger Office

It’s likely that if you have a successful startup, you’ll outgrow your first office and need a bigger office space. Moving can seem like a hassle, but it can lead to better organisation, a smoother workflow, more inventory, and more employees. All of these things can help your company keep growing. But how do you know if you should move? Here are a few signs that you need a bigger office for your business.

Standing Room Only

If your employees feel or look like sardines in a can, you need a bigger office. It shouldn’t be hard to move around freely to get things done. Staff spend a lot of time at work, so they should be able to spread out projects, set down items and inventory, or even just hang their coats in the winter. Also, it’s best if each employee has their own desk and doesn’t have to share with anyone else. If people on your team have to turn sideways to pass each other, it’s time to call an estate agent.

bigger office
Image by M W from Pixabay

Storage

If you’re running out of space to store inventory or files, getting a bigger office might be a good idea. Putting old papers and files in boxes is a good idea, but the stacks get big fast. Boxes of inventory can also be stacked, but these stacks eventually make it hard to open doors, make it hard to walk, and look bad. With more space, you’ll be able to find records and inventory quickly and store these things in a place where customers won’t see them.

Meeting Rooms and Private Spaces

If your team is always meeting in tight spaces or around a single desk, it’s time to move to an office with more meeting rooms. Someone typing on a computer shouldn’t be in the same room as private conversations or meetings with clients. It’s hard enough to talk on a conference call without a lot of noise and movement going on in the background. It’s also important to have a good place for breaks that people want to go to. Your staff will like having more places to plan and rest.

No Vacancy

If you have to turn away customers because you don’t have enough space, you need to improve your office. The hardest part of moving is packing and moving everything, so when the time comes to make the move, you’ll need a good plan. It can be scary to think about, but it doesn’t have to be. Movers for businesses aren’t just big guys with dollies. These companies are made up of serious business people who have the transportation, tools, equipment, and core strength to make moving easier for your business, employees, and current customers while getting you into an office with plenty of room for new customers.

If you decide it’s time to look for a new office space because your business is growing, remember that investing in a bigger place will help you stay organised and efficient and can be well worth the cost and effort in the long run. It will also make you look more professional to your current customers and give you more chances to find new ones.

Hidden Sources Of Dirt That You’re Missing When You Clean Your Home

We all know that keeping our homes clean is important. Because of all the bacteria in the air, you’re more likely to get sick if your home isn’t clean. This is probably why you spend a lot of time cleaning every week. But do you really know that your house is as clean as you think it is or are there hidden sources of dirt? Dust and dirt are good at hiding in your home, and there are a lot of easy-to-miss places. This can be a problem because it means that all of the dirt and bacteria are building up over time and that your house might not be as clean as it looks. If you want to make sure your home is a healthy place to live, it’s important to keep up with these dust and dirt sources that are hard to see.

sources of dirt
Photo by cottonbro

Air Conditioning Units Can Be Hidden Sources Of Dirt

The purpose of air conditioning is to keep the house cool and clean the air, but could it be doing the opposite due to hidden sources of dirt? If you don’t clean the filters in your air conditioners well, dust can start to build up on them over time. When you run them, they send all that dust back into the air, which is a big problem. A lot of people don’t realise that air pollution is one of the greatest potential dangers in the home. In fact, the air inside buildings is often more toxic than the air outside on the streets. Indoor air quality can be bad for a number of reasons, but dirty air conditioning units are one of the most prevalent.

To stop dirt and dust from building up on the filters, you need to take them out and clean them often. It’s also a good idea to have them serviced every so often. If you clean your air conditioners, you shouldn’t have any problems, but if you don’t, they’ll just make your house dirtier thanks to being hidden sources of dirt. 

Old Rugs

Just about all people know that carpets collect a lot of dust and dirt, which is why they vacuum often and sometimes give their carpets a deep clean. But a lot of people forget about rugs, even though they have the same issue. A quick vacuum won’t be enough to get dirt and dust out of the fibres of an old rug. But you can’t always clean them the same way you clean your carpets because they’re more fragile and you don’t want to damage them. So, every once in a while, you should take them to a rug rejuvenation service to have them serviced by a professional. They’ll be able to clean them well with gentle cleaners that don’t hurt the rug, so you can get rid of the grime and keep the rug in good shape.

Hidden Sources Of Dirt Underneath Furniture

When did you last move the couch out of the way and vacuum under it? You probably can’t remember, but don’t worry, we all do this. Moving all the furniture around every time you clean the house takes a lot of time, but you do have to do it sometimes. You’d be surprised at how quickly dust can gather under furniture, and if you don’t clean it up for a while, it can get pretty gross. It’s a pain to dust under furniture, but you can do it easily if you have a duster with a head that you can move. It doesn’t have to be done every time you vacuum or dust the rest of the house, but you should try to do it at least once or twice a month, if not more. If you do it more often, it will be easier because you won’t let it pile up for as long.

The Tops Of Kitchen Cabinets

In many people’s homes, the top of the kitchen cabinets is rarely, if ever, cleaned. That’s a problem because that area is usually one of the dirtiest. When you cook, grease, fat, and dust can build up up there. If you haven’t cleaned up there in a while or at all, it will be very dirty. The first time you clean it, it will be a bit of a job, but after that, it should be easy. If you do it about once a week, it will only take a quick wipe.

If you don’t deal with these hidden sources of dirt in your home, it won’t be as clean as you think it is, so make sure to clean these places often.

3 Ways To Make Your Next Zoom Call Fun

Since the start of the pandemic, a Zoom call has become more popular, and there are no signs that video calls will slow down. Some people do it every week because it’s the only way to keep in touch with relatives, especially older people, and friends who still keep their distance. As businesses start to open again, many people may not be as eager to see their families just yet. There’s nothing wrong with being careful, so if you’re one of those people who likes video meetings, here are some ways to make your Zoom call and FaceTime calls more fun.

Make Coffee Dates A Thing

One of the best ways to use a zoom call is to have coffee dates. Customizable best buddy mugs, for example, can be delivered as a surprise gift to be used during a phone conversation. This increases the excitement for the next phone call amongst the group and is also helpful for the hot cup of coffee you all love. DoorDash, Uber Eats, or GrubHub may also bring a coffee and croissant from a coffee shop to both of you at the same time so that you can enjoy them together in the morning. Coffee dates are convenient since you may meet early in the morning before everyone gets to work, in the evening after work, or on a weekend morning when you have more time to spend together.

Have A Virtual Cocktail Hour Zoom Call

If you’re not a fan of coffee or tea, you can always prepare your own drinks at home. When everyone has the ingredients and utensils, have a cocktail hour where you all may enjoy creating the same cocktail at the same time and sip while you catch up on current events during your Zoom call. Having fun with your female pals on Friday night after a hard day at work is a terrific idea. This can also be a great double date for couples to enjoy an evening of drinks at a favourite pub or club that would otherwise not have been possible.

Play Games

It’s easy to play games like Pictionary, Bingo, or Cards Against Humanity through a Zoom call, making it an excellent addition to your cocktail hour. With a group of friends or as a potential double date, this is an excellent way to kill time and have a good time. It’s an excellent reason to send the game of your choosing as a “just because” gift if no one in your group has access to or owns any of these titles. You may make this a tradition and have each person host a game night once in a while.

Baby Clothes That Are Safe and Comfortable for Your Child

Preparing to bring a new baby home is fraught with so many emotions that it is difficult for new parents to share their joy without also conveying some trepidation and dread. Aside with the never-ending supply of baby supplies, including baby clothes, there are also tales about how new parents’ life are going to alter, which may cause worry and anxiety. Babies’ lack of sleep, constant cycle of nappy changes, odd-hour feedings, and infinite quantities of washing are enough to create concern. Continue reading to learn why new parents take extra particular care with their baby’s laundry, as well as the most comfortable and safe textiles to outfit your baby in to prevent skin sensitivities from fibres.

Newborns have the most sensitive skin conceivable, and everything that comes into contact with it might irritate it. It may be a difficult tag or the washing detergent.  That is why it is critical to wash all baby items before placing it on their sensitive skin.

In addition to cleaning all garments, new parents and those providing clothing presents to new parents must choose clothing items with care. Aside from being warm and comfy, it should also be breathable and feel wonderful against a baby’s skin. The following are some of the best fabrics for baby clothes.

Organic Cotton Baby Clothes

One of the best materials for baby clothes is organic cotton. Organic cotton is free of pesticides and other dangerous chemicals since it is derived from natural seeds. Farmers use less water since they often cultivate organic cotton in tropical climates. That offers it an advantage in terms of environmental responsibility. If your child has sensitive skin, you may want to consider buying baby clothes made of organic cotton from one of the many low-cost manufacturers available. In addition to keeping newborns warm and dry, organic cotton can be handed down from one generation to the next since it is more breathable and washes more easily.

Terrycloth Baby Clothes

Your baby’s skin is fragile, therefore you’ll want nothing but a soft towel to remove any extra water from it after a bath. Towels and robes have long been made from terrycloth because of its absorbency and plushness. With terrycloth towels, washcloths, and socks, you can ensure that your baby’s delicate skin is protected.

Viscous From Bamboo

Bamboo is a great material for making clothes for your baby. Viscose made from bamboo is naturally good for a baby’s skin because it wicks away moisture and doesn’t cause allergies. Viscose from bamboo also helps keep babies warm, dry, and free of smells, so it’s great for baby clothes. 

Fleece

Fleece is a fabric made from synthetic materials. It’s fuzzy, soft, warm, and lets air pass through. Fleece is great for kids to wear as outerwear because it keeps them warm and dry. Because of this, it is often used for things like pyjamas and jackets for baby clothes. 

As you’ve read, it’s important to take care of the clothes that will touch a baby’s skin. You can dress your baby in any of these safe and comfortable fabrics.