Sunday, December 07, 2014

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Beat Convention





I just heard this hip hop version of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' [my favourite Christmas Carol] played on Songs of Praise BBC1 tonight and I love it.  It's performed with the Carlisle Cathedral choir and is the brain child of a Chaplaincy worker for Cumbria.  Hope it does well!

Friday, December 05, 2014

Memories of a Christmas Past

 


My daughter Leyna, son Nathan, and grand daughter Lowri, were here the other day helping to decorate the house for Christmas and we all made Christmas cookies!  It's a tradition I've had going since they were young children.

Anyhow, Leyna pulled out a box of old cards she discovered in the attic that can't have seen the light of day for many a year, maybe even since we moved to this house about twenty years ago!  One photograph she found in a little cream card frame was the one above and embossed on the back of it in gold lettering was 'Seasons Greetings from Cwmbran Shopping Centre'.

The strange thing is I have absolutely no memory of that photograph being taken at all.  Though I remember well Leyna in that little green coat with the black velvet collar and the dolly she clutches in her arms.  I bought her the coat from Woolworths in Newport circa 1989 [when that photograph was taken] for the pricely sum of £12.50.  It was a bargain.  The original price had been £25.00.  Even that was a good price for such a lovely coat, she looked so smart in it when she wore it to Chapel on Christmas day that year.

Nathan in that pic I would say is around six or seven weeks old, Leyna about two years and nine months and I am almost twenty nine.

I think there maybe a couple of reasons I have no recollection of that photograph as usually I have a fantastic long term memory that amazes people of how much detail I remember.  The first reason is because if that photograph had not seen the light of day since that year it's understandable I would forget it.  The second reason is because I was suffering from a severe depression, though that might not appear to be the case!

When I was around six or seven months pregnant I began to get feelings of being 'under a cloud' I would say.  The symptoms began to steadily get worse, not helped by the fact I was put on bed rest as I began to bleed and I feared I'd lose the baby.  The bed rest was at home not hospital and all was well after a few days, thankfully.

I remember telling my assigned midwives at the time how I was feeling and although they were both lovely well experienced women, I don't think they took me seriously.  In fact, I don't know if anyone did.  I remember my husband going to play squash one day and me feeling, 'He's going to play squash and I feel like killing myself.'

Yes, I did get mild suicidal feelings but at the back of my mind was my thoughts for other family members and how it would affect them all if I did away with myself. 

I also remember the early morning waking.  I'd be wide awake at around 5 a.m and it would take a couple of hours to get back to sleep.  I cried a lot and I didn't know why.  All the joy seemed to disappear from my life, things that usually gave me pleasure, didn't any more.  I felt detached from life and people.  It felt almost as though I were in a glass bubble and couldn't reach out to anyone.  It was a really scary place to be and I felt like I'd be like it for the rest of my life.  I can also see looking at some photographs of that time that my eyes are dead.  Though I don't think they are in this photograph, so no doubt I was well onto the road of recovery there.

Eventually, my G.P. who was a great bloke and partially disabled, was so understanding and although they thought it unsafe for me to take anti depressants after diagnosing depression, he got in touch with a professor in London, who said a very low doze of Diazepam would be safe to take when I felt very anxious, to take the edge off.  I managed with it for a while but once Nathan was born I was prescribed anti depressants and got well very quickly.  I also believe my involvement with the local chapel and my faith in God got me through.  There was one day when all I could do was get on my knees and pray and it got me through the day.

Unusually perhaps, I was off the anti depressants within 3 to 4 months but a lot of that time I wasn't functioning as well as I wanted to, it's hard enough when people have depression any how but when you have a two and half year old child and a new baby to care for, it's even harder.  Initially, me, the strong coping carer that people turned to for advice, had to drag herself out of bed in the morning and it was an effort to even make a cup of tea for myself.

My days were rooted in fear.  The anxiety started in the pregnancy and I became afraid of things.  It all sounds crazy now but I feel it was because my first pregnancy had gone wrong and I'd discovered that this pregnancy I was carrying a boy like the first one.

I'm proud of what I did though to help myself.  I didn't stay in the house.  My mother came over to help me and stayed for a few weeks and I made sure I made lists so I had to do things by a certain time.  For example my day might have been something like this:

1.  Get out of bed, washed and dressed well before 10 am.

2.  Put washing in machine.

3.  Make breakfast etc

I ticked off everything I did and it gave me a feeling of satisfaction that I could cope.

My GP thought it best that I breast fed as I had done on my previous pregnancy to ensure I bonded with Nathan and my mother helped out as much as she could taking Leyna to play group etc and helping with some household chores.

As time went on the midwife thought it best that my mother returned home so I could cope alone.  I say cope alone as my husband worked long hours on shift work and often worked overtime at that period of our lives.

The first day or so was scary but eventually by keeping to a routine and keeping the list going on a daily basis I got through the days.  I even managed to take the children to Women's Chapel Meetings where children were welcomed.  I did that twice a week and eventually ended up helping to run the mother and toddler group at the chapel with another woman and later also worked in the play group there twice a week.

I was lucky that I had the support of my family and the Church and I got better very quickly, some aren't so fortunate.  My heart goes out to the family of the young mother and baby who lost their lives this week.  I think the medical profession needs to be aware that pregnant women are vulnerable during their pregnancy and afterwards and care needs to be taken of how they are feeling.  Maybe it would be a good idea if they were asked questions at various parts of the pregnancy to ensure they are coping.  Lessons need to be learned of how a young woman who was already vulnerable was able to walk out of a hospital with a newly born baby without questions being asked.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review: Kith and Kill by Thea Hartley




Five Stars

Review of Kith and Kill by Thea Hartley
[I was sent a review copy of this novel]

Resa James, a criminal psychologist and divorced mother of a teenage girl, is brought in for consultation by the police regarding multiple murders that appear to be connected to a local fertility clinic in Cardiff. 

Resa’s life is already complicated by an acquaintance who appears to have a crush on her when she is already on the verge of a relationship with someone new and exciting she’s just met.

The killer in this story is meticulous and cunning.  But what is their motive?  And why are they targeting infertile couples?

Victimology, which is a way of studying the victims’ personal lives [their likes and dislikes etc] appears to be the way forward to catch the killer.   If Resa can discover what the killer has in common with the victims then she might be able to uncover who the serial killer is as they probably move in similar circles.

A poison pen letter out of the blue, puts Resa on her guard as it could threaten both herself and her daughter, Laura.  She is fiercely protective of her home life and there are plenty of people who are suspects in this story, including a husband and wife team who are against forms of IVF.  And what about the person who has a serious crush on Resa?  She’s acting out of character and seemingly dangerous, could she have something to hide?  Also workers at the clinic could any one of those possibly have a motive?  There are lots of characters in this novel who make the reader wonder if they are the killer.

The murdered couples themselves have been secretive about their use of IVF further complicating the issue which makes Resa’s work as a profiler much more difficult to undertake.

This is a great ‘who done it?’ mystery which keeps the reader on the edge of their seat throughout this novel. 

It’s a story that grabs the reader by the throat and doesn’t let them go right from the very first page.   A tale that is interwoven with secrets and intrigue, mystery and emotion.   A first class psychological thriller with a little romance thrown into the mix.

Ms. Hartley has a way of drawing the reader in from the very first paragraph, taking them on a roller coaster of a journey.  This isn’t a tale for the faint heartened, it’s gritty and realistic, a story that wouldn’t be out of place as a television drama.  It could give ‘Cracker’ and ‘Silent Witness’ a run for their money.

The settings take place in South Wales, in and around the Cardiff area, which is a refreshing change to read a crime fiction novel from those areas instead of London or Edinburgh or any other major city in the UK where these stories are often set.  Indeed Cardiff itself becomes a character in its own right in this novel as does the IVF clinic.  Which is part of the art of good writing that draws the reader in and never let’s go.   Thea Hartley is one Welsh crime novelist to watch out for in the future and I’m sure there is lots more intrigue to come from this wonderful writer.

Reviewed by Lynette Rees
Author of Beneath a Sicilian Sun and Watching You




https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/912130-lynette-rees

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Thongs for the Memories!


 


These days ladies’ underwear is skimpier than ever.  I’ve always been of the old adage ‘less is more’ but when it comes to underwear, maybe more is more, if you get my drift.  I’ve always thought that thongs were really unattractive, even if you’ve got a tight, well-toned butt that could crack a walnut!  I’ve never understood the attraction of why someone would wish to have their derriere on show and flossed with something akin to a piece of cheese wire!
Thong
 
 
In Victorian times pantalettes or pantaloons as they were known, were long undergarments for women which were well over the knee.  I thought they were known of as bloomers, but apparently those are something entirely different.  A sort of short trousers worn under a dress.

Pantaloons
 

I remember my great grandmother who was born in 1891, wearing some sort of pantaloons.  Though not frilly ones.  I only knew of this as my grandmother took care of her until she died aged 87, and as the house was so small, sometimes I’d be there when she was being dressed.  By that time her mind was wandering so she had to be helped to get dressed along with other things.  That generation were very stoic and didn't put the goods on show and rarely told everyone all their business!  You wouldn't have seen them on The Jeremy Kyle Show airing their dirty laundry, pardon the pun!

 

I’m not a lover of thongs and obviously these days, wouldn’t wear pantaloons unless it was for fancy dress!  What I do think is attractive though is the fifties style of underwear.  I haven’t got any myself, but it looks so glamorous, well the women were back then.  They didn’t let it all hang out, they kept an air of mystery and kept most things well hidden.  Less is more in that case!
Fifties Style

Monday, November 03, 2014

Great Review for Beneath a Sicilian Sun!



I just got a great review for Beneath a Sicilian Sun from Ind'tale Magazine!  So pleased about that!

http://www.indtale.com/reviews/contemporary/beneath-sicilian-sun

Beneath a Sicilian Sun

 
Joanne Smith is a renowned journalist for Life Today magazine. Her latest assignment is to interview Dante Alphonso. He is trying to get positive publicity for his pet charity, an organization that grants wishes to dying children. What he didnt plan on was to be attracted to the beautiful Joanne. He invites her to go to Sicily with him at his expense to visit his vineyards and see the other parts of his life. He even takes along one of the magazines photographers. Things start to get hot and spicy between Dante and Joanne as he shows her the beautiful things the island has to offer. Then Dante is betrayed and he places the blame on Joanne. Can their relationship ever recover?
 
The scenery is described so well that it feels as though the reader is magically transported to Sicily. One can see the vineyards as they spread out over acres of land and the color changes between the different colors of the five different varieties of grapes that are grown there. The tension between Dante and Joanne can be felt so well that it almost makes the reader feel like an interloper! One is right there with Joanne, experiencing her angst as she questions her relationship with Dante after she returns home. This is a very emotional book that will leave haunting memories well after the story is finished!

Reviewer: Belinda Wilson

Purchase book here:

http://tinyurl.com/mu5ppuh [US]

http://tinyurl.com/ocel8nk [UK]

 

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Snarky Book Review Comments and Stalking


 



Have you noticed how so many people are getting offended these days?  Often it's not over big things either but silly little things.

I started rereading a book which is now on Kindle by one of my favourite romance authors.  She'd had 258 Amazon reviews for her book.  Most were 5 star reviews but there was a handful of 1 star reviews which really puzzled me.  Now bearing in mind, I thought this book was great 10 years ago in paperback, so when it was republished by Kindle I jumped at the chance to read it again.

 I looked at the bad reviews which said things like, "Don't Waste Your Time With This Book" and "Not Worth It".  No one had commented on the bad reviews except for one thread  where the author was attacked for her political views.  The author replied that they weren't her views but those of the character, but still the reviewer carried on with comments which went over my head as she mentioned rapists.  I hadn't read anything about rapists in the plot and neither had I noticed any of the many typos she referred to.  The author replied once more saying the character's comments were intended as a joke like something from the Jay Leno Show and weren't intended to offend.  Unfortunately, the reviewer then made an issue about the mention of Jay Leno's name saying she found it insulting his name was mentioned!

 At the end of the day, I don't think you can argue with irrational people like that or even stick up for yourself as they will always turn things around to make you the bad guy.  I looked at all the reviews this woman had given to other books and there were many.  The odd thing about her reviews was that she either gave 5 star reviews to books where she highly praised them or 1 star reviews where she slated books, there was nothing in between.

Only this past week I read of one author who tracked a reviewer down who had slated her books, so far as to discover her real name and where she lived!  This Goodreads reviewer has since closed down her Twitter page and other social media networks either gone or turned to private.  Now that seems to be to be a form of reverse stalking, if that term exists.  It’s usually someone who stalks the author and not the author doing the stalking.  Some people have praised the author for doing this, there was even an article she wrote about it in the Guardian.  Guardian Article:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/18/am-i-being-catfished-an-author-confronts-her-number-one-online-critic

Lots of bloggers/reviewers have condemned the author for tracking down the reviewer all for the sake of a 1 star review.

 I think the best thing an author can do is not respond to bad comments or reviews.  Just as we meet people who don't like us or anything we do in real life [and those who might be irrational and even nasty], we will encounter them online also.  It's tempting to bite back but simply not worth it.

 I just left a comment underneath the reviewer's telling the author how much I'd enjoyed her book and was even reading it for a second time!  It wasn’t worth angering the reviewer, she’s entitled to her opinion and I suspect she would then have turned her rants on me if I had said anything directly to her.

The amount of 5 star reviews and great comments the author has are testament to how good her writing really is and why the odd bad review really shouldn’t matter.







 

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Little need for a winter coat?

Yesterday I was having lunch with a friend and we  both remarked on how warm it was for Halloween.  I said it was strange but years ago when I was young I remember how we always had a winter coat of sorts and how these days there seems to be little need for one.  I bought a beautiful cobalt blue one with a fur collar two years ago.  I think I've only worn it less than a handful of times.

Back in the sixties and seventies, the winters got so cold that the miniature milk bottles froze in their crates at school.  Us school children couldn't even pierce the foil tops with our straws.  The teacher used to defrost the bottles near the radiator.

Many a time we were sent home from school when the boiler broke down or it snowed and snowed and snowed as if God was shaking his feather mattress above us.  I loved those times of going home and playing outside in the snow with our sleighs.  It brought a rose bloom to our cheeks and we came home chilled to the bone ready to thaw out by the fireside.  I once built a snowman that lasted almost a whole week in my grandmother's garden until my brother knocked its head off.  I was devastated.  My great grandmother who was in her mid eighties then and slightly senile, was living with my gran and I distinctly remember her shouting about my brother, "Tell him I'll knock his head off for him!"

My brother had a habit of destroying things I made.  I once remember him trampling over a Sindy Kitchen I'd put together following instructions from Lesley Judd on Blue Peter using a cardboard box and sticky back plastic.  But that's another story!

To get back to this one, I think I enjoyed wearing my winter coats and polo neck sweaters.  I loved it when the temperatures were more extreme: warm in summer and cold in winter.  Sometimes it got so cold that there was ice on the inside of the windows, we took water bottles to bed [after all we had no central heating and only one coal fire to heat the whole house], we even had to make do with coats on the bed as extra bedding.  Thank goodness we had those winter coats then.

Today there's an article in the Daily Mail about the fact people aren't buying winter coats this year and they're on sale at great knock down prices.

 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2816485/Get-winter-wardrobe-HALF-PRICE-Balmy-weather-s-left-stores-unsold-winter-outfits-cash-just-gets-cold.html

So bag yourself a bargain if you can...but I can't guarantee you'll get to wear it much this winter!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Freaky Halloween?



Love it or loathe it, Halloween is here.   The night when children go from door to door in the neighbour dressed up in costumes of witches, wizards, ghosts, skeletons, mummies etc. 

When I was a child it was a pretty low key celebration but nevertheless, one I enjoyed.  We bobbed apples and made our own costumes, walking from door to door where people either gave you sweets and/or money or turned you away without incident.  These were people you tended to know and sometimes they'd invite you inside their homes and ask you to sing a song, or something like that.

It was great fun.  I remember once my friend's father dressed in a white sheet as a ghost and scared the living daylights out of us and we loved it.

Nowadays though, Halloween seems so commercialised.  Shops are full of outfits and special sweets and decorations for the occasion.  Children now say, 'Trick or Treat', something they never said in the sixties and seventies.  The idea being if the home owner doesn't give a treat to the caller then they'll get a trick played on them.  This is often something like their doorstep/windows being pelted with eggs or some other 'trick'.

As well as this being totally antisocial it's also scary for the elderly and vulnerable.
 
I notice too that these days children I don't even know knock my door and ask for money or sweets, to date they've been well behaved and I always give them something, but why do their parents allow them to knock on the doors of strangers?  Some of the children look very young.  I've even seen children as young as two or three years old dressed up alone standing outside my door costumed up, holding a little bag or bowl for money or sweets.  When I've looked up and down the street, I've noticed a parent stood in the shadows waiting for them.  I don't know but it doesn't feel right to me.

I wish Halloween was as it was in the old days, more innocent with children making their own fun and only calling on the doors of people they know.  It's become like a begging bonanza egged on by the parents these days [pardon the pun!].

It's my guess that many people will pretend to be out tonight, with lights turned off and TV turned down, or will actually go out to avoid it.  Although Halloween is intended to be scary with the thoughts of ghosts and ghouls, it shouldn't mean the elderly or vulnerable have to hide away in their own homes to avoid trick or treaters, who might do something nasty or demand money or sweets from them.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Trolling on Social Media Networks


When I was child I thought a troll was an ugly little figure who lived under a bridge waiting to threaten The Three Billy Goats Gruff as in the fairy tale of the same name.

Nowadays though, there's a very different kind of troll who waits online to goad people.  We've seen it this week once again when Judy Finnegan made some comments regarding rape on the ITV show, Loose Women.  Whether people agree or disagree with Judy's comments [after which she apologised for], it does not give people licence to verbally abuse Judy and her daughter, Chloe Madeley, via Twitter, Facebook or any other media network for that matter.

Yesterday, there was an article published in the newspapers where Richard Madeley, Judy's husband and Chloe's father, hit back at the trolls threatening Chloe with rape.  He promised they would be tracked down and the inference was that prosecution lay ahead:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/11164111/Richard-Madeley-calls-in-police-over-Twitter-threats-to-daughter-after-Judy-Finnigans-rape-comments.html

I've seen evidence of trolls myself on Facebook.  This was partly to do with my decision to leave that particular social media network.  It was almost as though there were people there waiting to find a chink in a discussion to jump in and upset others.

I set up a local group on Facebook which was popular and had almost 1500 members.  It was well controlled with administrators to monitor things if they got out of hand.  But one day someone I didn't know from my home town joined, he claimed to be writing a novel and an editor [which I have found evidence for.]  Yet, that person tried his best in one discussion to upset as many people as possible with his comments.  I think he viewed himself as a 'Keyboard Warrior'.  He was picking on the wrong group as our group was full of fun and light hearted.  For some reason, most of his comments were aimed at me.  He asked to see evidence I was published.  I showed him links to the books I'd had published. After that he kept on and on. 

I think looking back on it, he might have been jealous to see I've had a few books published, whereas he'd been working on the same novel for years and was unpublished.

Finally, an admin decision was made to remove him from the group, not just because he was verbally attacking me, but upsetting others. 

I later Googled his name and saw evidence at various writing forums where he was winding other people up too.

It makes you wonder where these people get the time to deliberately look for people to wind up.  Are their lives so boring and pathetic that they have to goad others?

It's almost as though the trolls are too cowardly to say these dreadful things in real life so hide behind their computer screens where they probably think they sound brave but in reality they're the opposite.  A lot of people don't even realise there is a Malicious Communication Act which can end up with the person who is harassing others ending up in prison:

http://www.neiladdison.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/comm.htm

Unlike a verbal harassment where it might only be someone's word against the accused [if there are no witnesses], whatever is written in an email or on a Twitter/Facebook account is there for all to see, and even if deleted can be retrieved.

Bad news for trolls but good news for your average Billy Goat Gruff!

Friday, September 26, 2014

What is it about the way we communicate these days?



During the past few days I've read several articles on the Wales Online website about men who have got in trouble for propositioning young women [some have been under age] either online on Facebook or by mobile phone text. 

Each one of these men were in positions of responsibility.  Yet, they chose to lower their professional boundaries by sending explicit messages to the young women.  One even sent a photograph of a certain part of his anatomy.

And it's not just men who do this either, I also read on the Daily Mail website of a nurse who sent explicit texts to a diabetic patient.

Whether they had said these things in person or by text, social media or email, they were still wrong and left behind damning evidence that helped convict them.  It's not just people who are teachers and in professional positions who do this, but sometimes people who bombard their exes with hundreds of text messages, in a form of stalking.

See articles here:

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/driving-instructor-who-begged-young-7832005

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/teacher-guilty-gross-misconduct-after-7834646

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2770188/You-yummy-sexy-married-nurse-sent-diabetic-patient-torrent-flirty-texts-treatment-GP-practice.html

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/stalker-husband-jailed-bombarding-estranged-7781592

When I was on Facebook I noticed there was a tendency for some members of the opposite sex to contact me sometimes leaving lewd comments in my inbox.  These were often men I knew in the real world who I feel would have been unlikely to say these things to my face had I not been on that social network.  More often than not, if they didn't stop after a warning, I'd have to block them.  

So what is it that makes people think it's permissible to do this kind of thing especially as they leave a trail of evidence behind?  Is it drink fuelled?  Is it the fact that social media, mobile phone messages, emails etc are so rapid getting to the other person, that they send that kind of message on impulse and later regret it?  Yet, that can't always be so as most of the people who get convicted appear to have sent a series of messages over a number of days.

I found a good way to cope with those pests online, I've started copying and pasting their 'private messages' to me and posting them back on their own walls for everyone to see.  I never did it on Facebook [I now wish I had!] but now have left but I'm doing it on the Interpals site.  It's supposed to be a pen pal site but some people have other ideas.   I did it to someone the other day and he was shocked and said, "Why did you do that?"  This man was 25 years old.  I replied, "Because you wouldn't like it if a young man of your age sent a message like that to your mother!"  

I think it taught him a lesson and I've had no trouble from him since.   I might try it again sometime.  The thing that fuels these people is the fact they are being explicit in private to you, or maybe they THINK they're being private but as those court cases prove in those news paper articles, in the end their messages end up being very public indeed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The American Mink



I've been reliably informed that the beautiful, sleek, black creature in my garden, spotted a few days ago, is actually an American Mink.  Apparently they're found near rivers and bad news for wildlife.  There is a river in this area, The River Taff, but it's not that near to my house, so it did seem odd to see one in my back garden running on the decking.

So, how do American Mink end up in the UK, you might ask? 

Apparently, they were released into the wild here from Mink Farms by Animal rights protestors years ago and are thriving big time since they don't have predators themselves.

This is an interesting clip where Bill Oddie talks about them:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/American_Mink#p007vcjx

Friday, September 19, 2014

More than six weeks have passed...



It's been more than six weeks since I left Facebook.   I don't regret it for a second and I'll tell you why...

Last night I went to function, actually it was a comedy evening at the restored town hall.  It was a great night, three wonderful comedians and there was a licenced bar!!!

Anyhow, there were a couple of people there who had once been 'Facebook Friends' but I don't think either of them would have come over to me and introduced themselves or even smiled and said 'hello'.   Most friends on Facebook are not friends at all.  Yet, they are privy to our photographs and thoughts.

Since leaving Facebook, I'm writing a lot and reading a lot, I'm also able to concentrate more on other pursuits instead of checking in on my Facebook page.  The best thing is that the people who are real friends are making an effort to stay in touch.

One of the comedians last night mentioned how his sister-in-law got up his nose on Facebook.  She'd sent him a friend request, which he felt he had to accept not to upset her.   Then she started updating her status, "I can't believe I'm going to Turkey in a couple of weeks!",  then a few days later, "I can't believe I'm going to Turkey next week!".  Then the day before it was, "I can't believe I'm going to Turkey tomorrow!".  Followed by, "I can't believe I'm at the airport!", "I can't believe I'm actually sitting on the plane!" and then it was "I can't believe I'm actually in Turkey!"

He thought that would be the end of it.  But she carried on updating her status on holiday, "I can't believe I'm sunbathing by the pool!" etc,   It drove him up the wall.

When she got home she posted, "I can't believe I'm back home!"

Then it was, "I can't believe this time last week I was sitting by the pool in Turkey!"

So he commented, "I can't believe you're still updating your status about your holiday to Turkey!"

I've no idea if this story is authentic or not but I have seen similar things posted on Facebook, so it does ring true.

At the end of the day, Facebook is about people trying to make out their lives are great and other people liking their 'Facebook Lives'.

Apparently there are around 43 million selfies posted on Facebook every day of the week.  That's an awful lot of posing and showing off!  I've done it myself, posted a selfie and then viewed all the likes and comments.

We wouldn't run out into the street and shout to our neighbours, "Look at the cake I just baked!  Do you like it?"  Then shove an iced vanilla sandwich under their noses!   Or alternatively we wouldn't take a photograph of ourselves and give one to each of our friends and hope they'll tell us they like it.

I think Facebook gives us a feeling of importance and pride that isn't real.   Maybe it helps to bolster fragile self esteems?  I know I felt far more popular on Facebook than in real life.  People often came up to me in town on a Saturday when I was shopping in my home town saying, "You're Lynette from the Rat Pack, aren't you?"  [I used to run a Facebook group called, The Merthyr Rat Pack].   I was always pleased to meet them and the group was great, I even arranged social gatherings.    That is the biggest thing I miss is that group, but it's continuing without me and I'm glad of that as people use Facebook for different reasons.

But this is just my view of the social network site, other people might have more positive things to say from their view point.

I had one Facebook friend who was constantly updating her status and Tweeting it at the same time, so her day would go something like this...

"Debating whether to read my book in bed with the cup of coffee hubby just brought me before he goes to work..."

"Whew just got the kids off to school and pegged the washing out.  Put in another load.   Now to tackle the mountain of ironing..."

"Two thousand words of novel in progress written, now to walk the dog."

"Lunch then meeting friends for coffee."

"Came up with new character for novel while waiting for kids to come out of school"

"Whipped up a dessert for tonight's evening meal"

"Publisher just got in touch, has offered me a series of books"

"Wonderful meal with husband and kids"

"Just got handed glass of bubbly from hubby as I relax in bath..."

The person in question is a lovely lady and deserves all her success but seeing all the constant updates made me feel that my life was somehow inadequate.  She always 'appeared' to be highly motivated and successful, yet I suspect she had bad days like the rest of us but never, ever, showed a chink in her armour.

Her life seemed so perfect.  Yet, was it?

On Facebook I tried to post positive things and often posted links to songs and interesting articles, but think if I was constantly updating my status it would sound more like this:

"Got out of bed to find sink full of dishes, husband not cleared up after himself yet again..."

"Feeling rough.  Shouldn't have drunk that fifth glass of wine last night..."

"Trying to summon up the energy to take the dog for a walk..."

"Publisher is a pain in the neck, either not answering my emails or barking orders..."

"Just got a rejection for my novel from yet another publisher..."

"Didn't have time to make something special for hubby's tea tonight, especially as he left a mess behind in the kitchen this morning.  Blow it, cheese on toast will have to do..."

"Oh heck...why did I drink all that wine last night?   Nothing to drink tonight now..."

Okay, I'm exaggerating, but you get my drift.  No doubt the Facebook friend's life probably wasn't a lot better than mine.   Maybe the truth of it is our lives fall somewhere in between what I've posted here.  Maybe mine is quite a bit better than I described and hers not quite as perfect as it appears every day.

More and more younger people are now leaving Facebook and using Instagram instead.   I think in all honesty, Facebook has had its day and if I was still there I might post a link to this blog post to see how many people liked it lol.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pole cat or Ferret



This little chap appeared in my garden today and gave me quite a fright as I've never seen anything like this in my garden before.  My first guess is that it's a pole cat but it could even be a black ferret I suppose.  He seemed quite timid and kept disappearing down the decking!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Great Review for 'Black Diamonds' [historical romance]



I was thrilled to receive a wonderful review from Welsh author, Gwen Madoc, for my historical romance, 'Black Diamonds'.

BLACK DIAMONDS by Lynette Rees
 
In her novel BLACK DIAMONDS Lynette Rees evokes powerfully the lives of the people of a Welsh mining village in the South Wales Valleys in the mid nineteenth century. The story is based on actual historical events in Merthyr Tydfil, when just before Christmas 1865 an explosion at Gethin Pit at Abercanaid overwhelmed the entire community with grief.

Lily Jenkin is a young heroine with passion, fortitude and courage, who struggles with the uncertainties of life in a mining community where the loss of loved ones from cholera or injury and death at the pit, and the subsequent heartache and poverty that results, are ever present possibilities.

Rees reveals the background and atmosphere of this particular era with depth and richness. Her characters spring off the page brimming with life. We feel strongly their grief and despair; their loves and hates. And also their hopes, and these feelings, together with the strength and variety of the characters, remain with the reader long after the book is read.

Rees takes the reader through the many twists and unexpected turns of the story with skill so that the pace of the novel never flags, creating a page-turner.

There is a great deal of warmth and emotion in the novel which reveals the true nature of the Welsh peoples. Highly recommended.
 
Reviewed by Gwen Madoc author of
NO CHILD OF MINE and
DAUGHTER OF SHAME



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Deleted Facebook Account



Well I did it.  Last night I actually deleted my Facebook account.  Up until now I'd just disabled it so all the information would still be there when I reactivated my account, should I choose to do so.

I was surprised to find that six people had already dispensed with me as a friend when I returned.  Six out of two hundred and sixteen 'friends'.  One I think has already left prompted by my idea to leave, so let's say five.  Five deleted me as a friend.  Now either they might have left themselves or disabled their accounts or they were glad to see the back of me maybe lol?  What if I'd only disabled it for a break?  Did they think so little of me to get rid so quickly?  I've deleted people with disabled accounts myself but only if they kept disabling them or were M.I.A for months.

I actually thought to look to see who the friends were who got rid.   Who were these people who were so quick to delete me from their friend list?  But then I thought no, if I do that, it might upset me.  I'm far too sensitive to that sort of thing.

So in the end, I just deleted all my photo albums [just in case] and contacted one friend who I didn't want to lose touch with and we spoke in real time to exchange contact details.  Others I know I can contact by different means or via friends.

But it makes you think that out of the two hundred and sixteen friends I had when I disabled my account just under three weeks ago, who were my real friends there?

One is in touch with me every day and I know we'll meet up again in the future.  So she's a real friend.   Another wrote me a letter saying he'd like to meet up again with his wife in the future.  I met him on a pen pal site a year ago and he's proved to be a great friend who really cheers me up and if gets to read this, he'll know who he is when I mention a certain hotel that had sticky taped its skirting board when he came to stay in my home town.  No, there was nothing going on with me and him, he and his wife stayed there a year ago and I went to meet them for a drink.  He also travelled for a few hours to come to a meeting from York.  This was at a social group gathering I used to run on Facebook.  I thought the world of that he would travel so far for a meet up.

Other friends have emailed me and I met up with another for lunch a couple of weeks back since disabling my account.

I would estimate out of all my Facebook friends perhaps around ten were friends.  That was less than a twentieth of my friend list.

Often people you don't know will add you as a friend and they might even be from your hometown.  But the thing is you rarely get to know these people even if you add them as friends.  Sometimes you don't even write on one another's walls.  So what's the point in being a friend? 

So last night I logged back into Facebook for the last time, deleted my photo albums, messaged a friend I wanted to keep in contact with, quickly scanned the newsfeed which was full of the same old same old and deleted my account.   I do have the option to log back in within a fortnight and reactivate my account before it goes, wherever it goes to...maybe it's shot to smithereens and floats around in minute pieces around the universe.   A testament to the life of Lynette Rees, who once baked a clown cake for her grand daughter's first birthday.  The same Lynette Rees who spent far too much time on Facebook when she should have been writing instead.

The good news is I've now completed a first draft of my new novel.  You can bet if I hadn't disabled my account three weeks ago, I wouldn't have made so much progress.

So 'Hello, real life! I'm back and I'm looking forward to getting acquainted with you again!'

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

If you want to keep your job or avoid suspension you might be better staying off Facebook!



I've said this before and I'll say it again...people need to take care what they post on social media networks.   I've seen professional people posting inflammatory things such as racist/sexist posts.  I've seen them get involved in long threads of arguments, practically to the point of bullying.

I've also seen people tagged in disgraceful photographs making themselves look like idiots.

They seem to forget that anyone these days can access these things.  Employers often check out potential employees network pages before holding interviews.  One teacher was called into question for showing her underwear on a boozy night out as she gyrated ungraciously around a pole in night club!   Not the kind of thing her pupils or the parents of her pupils would wish to see.

And here's a link to an article in today's local newspaper with the title:  'Racist, threatening, embarrassing and compromising: The jaw-dropping Facebook and Twitter posts… by police officers':

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/racist-threatening-embarrassing-compromising-jaw-dropping-7632241

Why do people feel they can act as they like on Facebook and other social media?  It's crazy.  Some have even been imprisoned over their Tweets if the issue is highly contentious and personal.  

It's my third week off Facebook and I'm still not missing it.  I've finished the first draft of my new novel and loving being away from mind numbing wall posts and threads of people arguing with one another.

It's fast losing its popularity with its privacy issues.   Youngsters are changing to Instragram.  Others are giving it up as they feel like I do, it wastes too much time and more often than not, achieves very little.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Great Fish and Chip Shops



I just read a newspaper article entitled, "60 brilliant Welsh fish and chip shops you should be ordering your tea from tonight":

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink-news/60-brilliant-welsh-fish-chip-7613446

It was nice to see 'The Blue Dolphin' from my home town got a mention.   The prize for the best name though has to go to 'A Fish Called Rhondda'!   That name made me laugh out loud.

There's something so comforting about a fish and chip shop.  It's familiar and warm inside.  Wherever you go in Wales or Britain even, most chips shops are the same.  Big silver fryers with glass cases displaying pies, pasties, sausage and rissoles.   Cod, haddock or hake, is normally cooked fresh on demand and smells wonderful.

You're invited to sprinkle on your own salt and vinegar or the assistant does it for you.

Something though that apparently is peculiar to Wales and not so common in other places, though I wouldn't mind betting they do the same in the North of England, is to order a carton of curry with your fish and chips.   I don't know who started that trend off, but we do it a lot here and yet, at home if I cook fish and chips, I'd never dream of adding curry sauce!

For me, it has to be the fruity curry sauce, the one with the sultanas and apples.  That's the one I love with my cod and chips.  Then breaking into the fish with my knife and fork beneath the crispy, golden batter, to see white flaky fish.   Heavenly.  The chips are usually cooked in a special oil that makes them crispy and tasty, I think various chip shops have their own favourite oils, giving their chips a slightly different taste.

Some Chinese takeaways in Wales also do great fish and chips as well as their usual special fried rice, Egg fu yung, and Chicken and black bean sauce, etc.  There's one in Merthyr Tydfil called, 'Jen Chang', at what is commonly referred to as, 'The Bottom of Town'.  This is opposite Caedraw flats.   They do a respectable fish and chips and also a great Chinese meal.  So it's a win-win situation if you go there.

And there's nothing quite like eating fish and chips at the seaside either, in the open air, as long as you can dodge the wheeling, diving seagulls that is, who have their beady eyes on your culinary delight as you try to eat al fresco!

Where is your favourite chip shop?  And does it have an unusual name?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Being in the moment or being in the Network...




I'm so glad that I was brought up in a time when there were no mobile phones, no social media and no Internet.

Back then, during the sixties and seventies, we didn't even own a house phone.   We used the call box up the road and often had to queue for ten minutes for the privilege of using it!

These days people seem obsessed with their phones.  It's almost as though they live their life through their iPhones, Blackberrys or whatever.   Not only can mobiles make calls now, but there are texts, ways to log into Facebook, Twitter, Myspace.  You can Instagram and pin pics at Pinterest.   You can send photos to friends even video clips.   Video conference even.  When they can make me a cup of coffee or programme some robot to hoover the carpet, then I'll get excited.

But what people forget about when they're constantly checking their phones for updates and logging in to certain websites via their phones, is the here and now.

I remember when my children were young attending their Christmas school concert.  One woman was so intent on videoing her little darlings that she was jumping up in her seat blocking people's views and asking to change seats with people. 

She was not in the moment.

She was so intent on filming the event, she wasn't enjoying it and annoying other people at the same time who wanted to see their children live at a very precious time after queuing outside for twenty minutes in the freezing cold!

I'm not saying it's wrong to make videos.  I have several taken over the years myself.  But I'd far rather watch something live as it happens rather than worry about filming it.   I see the same thing happening at rock/pop concerts too and often those clips when uploaded to Facebook or YouTube are of very poor quality sound and vision.

Something which I find annoying about mobile phones, and yes, I do own one, but am not on it obsessively, it's not even connected to the Internet, nor can I sent pics on it.  All I use it for is to make calls, text and take the odd photograph.  That's all I need it for...

The thing I find annoying is this... I find lately if I go out with certain friends, they are slaves to their phones.  Constantly checking for texts, answering texts, answering phone calls that probably aren't that important, checking their Facebook accounts..."Wow she really posted that on her status?  I'm going to post a reply now!"  What about replying to me about the question I just asked you instead?

Why don't people just live in the moment?

I'm not saying I mind if someone occasionally checks their phone if it's that important, maybe they're worried if they've left the children with a baby sitter, or waiting to hear what time their lift is about to arrive, that's different.   What I'm referring to is the constant need to check their phones and block out the people they're with.  That's downright rude.

Most mobile phone calls if we admit it are non essential.  So often I hear people on their phones in the supermarket saying things like, "Do you want mushroom soup or tomato soup?"  Or on the bus or train answering their phones in very loud voices so that all eyes fall upon them, "Yes, I'm on the bus [or train].   On the bus I said!  I'm on my way home!"  They bellow.  Yes, we're all aware of it, we're on the bus with you but we're not SHOUTING about it!

This constant need to check up and check in, is it that necessary in most instances?  Will the world end tomorrow if someone chooses mushroom soup instead of tomato?"

Answering unessential mobile phone calls or texting has even killed people as they find it necessary to do so while they're driving.   Not only endangering their own lives but those of their passengers or other drivers/pedestrians.  Very rarely is a call that important it has to be answered there and then.  Maybe unless you're a doctor or paramedic and even then it's debatable.

Even the bus drivers are doing it.  The other day I found myself speaking in a loud voice in front of other passengers to say, "The bus driver is endangering our lives doing that...that call can't be that important."  Don't know whether he heard me but he put his phone down.  Other passengers agreed.  How can a bus driver keep proper control of a bus if his wife or other is on the phone distracting him?

One driver killed someone as he was busy sexting while he was driving a huge lorry.   That was sheer madness that he felt the need to do that whilst in charge of a vehicle.

I'm glad for time being I'm taking a break from Facebook.   So much time can be lost there.  Although some of it was productive for me at certain groups like the writing group and the history group and some social groups, there were times when it wasn't productive at all.

Instances when time was wasted looking at other people's wall posts and photo shares.  'Share this Post',  Often times, posts are shared and the photographs aren't authentic or there's no way to know if they are.  Some posts claim that if you share them Facebook will donate a dollar to poor Johnny's plight.  Really?  I doubt it very much.  Does Johnny's mother give you permission to share his horrendous pic of his skin condition on Facebook and is it really Johnny anyhow?

Far better to donate to a real charity.  No idea how sharing a photograph that could have been grabbed anywhere off the Net will really help anyhow.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to go back to the days before mobiles phones, social media and the Net, but then again if we did, I wouldn't be able to post this...would I?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Garden of Gethsemane


When Jesus was facing his own trials and tribulations he went to the Garden of Gethsemane which was at the foot of the Mount of Olives.   He went there to pray, in amongst his solitude from people, he found peace and guidance.

He went there the night before his crucifixion.  He prayed while his disciples slept.

Part of Jesus's prayer was: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42)

Sometimes when faced with our own trials and tribulations we need to find that place of solitude and kneel down before HIM and ask him to take the cup from us to do HIS will and not our own.  Amen.

I'm about to discover my own Garden of Gethsemane once more.  It was there all along but I left it for a while.

A bunch of roses for myself!



I posted this pic of a bunch of roses on my blog exactly five years ago today.  That particular blog post has been relegated to 'drafts' as it was very personal and although I wrote a lot about a particular incident back then, I decided to remove those posts which covered around two months of my life, from my blog.

On that day as I was going through some personal trauma I stopped on my way home to buy myself a bunch of yellow and white roses.  White roses are my favourite flower.   I found it comforting buying flowers for myself, it was a way of saying, "There, there, you've been through so much.  Maybe these will help..."  In fact, it was like something I might have done for a good friend.

I read that post again today and realise I need to buy myself those roses again.

The strange thing was after buying myself those flowers, other people started to buy me flowers too.  Maybe I had put out a thought into the universe that I was worth loving and appreciating, who knows.  But it really helped.

Sometimes we need to appreciate, love and value ourselves in the first instance, then we will attract the right people toward us, who will show their love and appreciation too.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Memories of 911 and what I was doing at the time...





I found one of the first articles I ever had published online this morning in a creative writing newsletter:

http://www.author-me.com/newsletters/NewsMarch2002.htm

This reminded me of my early days of writing for publication.

Back then in 2002, I think I was just filled with enthusiasm and hope.  I'd joined a large Yahoo online writing group called Momwriters who I learned so much from.  Some were editors, publishers, authors, freelancers, whilst others were ordinary mothers with young children with an urge to write something and see it in print.  If it were published and you got paid too, then that was the icing on the cake.

The group was very supportive and encouraging.  We shared writing tips and writing markets.  I saw some of those ladies go on to achieve great things.  One called, Joshilyn Jackson, even made the best seller list.  That was a thrill for me to see her book on the shelf at my local Tesco. 

It was a feeling of a 'can do' attitude back then.  Nothing seemed impossible.  It was quite easy to find markets and provided you had the skill to get published online and in magazines, so much the better.

However, following 911, when the twin towers fell, I noticed a change in the market.  Websites offering payment no longer did so, or some offered less payment or  none at all.  I've no idea really whether that was coincidental or not.  I suppose 911 must have had some impact on the economy.

I remember the day of September 11th 2001 so well.  It was a cloudless day with blue skies on both sides of the Atlantic.  I came home from work and walked the dogs and when I arrived back at the house, my husband arrived home a little later, this was just after 2 pm I think.  He said there's been some sort of plane crash into a tower in New York, I just heard it on the car radio.  It sounded awful but it sounded like an accident at that time.

However within minutes of hearing the news, we switched on the television to see another plane had crashed but this time it was into the second tower.  It was like watching a disaster movie unfold on the big screen, so surreal and spooky.  It was at that point I think that the world realised it was not an accident at all.  It was deliberate.

At the time people were discussing this at the Momwriters Yahoo group.  Now don't forget this was well before Facebook so we didn't tend to get instant threads with people joining in live on Yahoo groups like we do on social media these days.  But a phenomenal amount of messages were pouring in and even the moderators were allowing them to be posted immediately.  In that group ALL posts were moderated so they could take some time to appear.  Hours later usually.

I was hearing of people who had narrow escapes, hearing about people whose friends and family were missing.  People shocked to the core.  People on foot near the scene.  It was so strange to share the grief in some way when I was so far away from it all.

One Momwriter lost ten friends in one of the towers.  Can you imagine that?  Ten of your friends gone.  It's unimaginable.

At the time I was running an online E-zine called Positively Woman and one lady shared a story there her husband wrote.  It was of how he escaped from one of the towers and what it felt like being out in the street afterwards.  It had all started off as an ordinary day for him and ended up as Armageddon.

It was definitely a day that shook the world.  I had an article published about it at the time at the Canadian website Suite 101.  People posted lots of comments.  There was even one from a pilot's son his father flew airplanes for American Airlines.  I remember friends contacting me from all over the world afterwards saying, take care, hold your loved ones tonight, sending our love to you from Australia, or wherever.

I think what came out of it all was that after that horrendous tragedy which cost so many lives, we held our own loved ones a little closer and thanked our lucky stars we still had them.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The French Letter King makes it into the Daily Mail!!



Thea Horton was recently interviewed by a journalist about her book, The French Letter King.  Her grandfather, Tommy Horton, had a condom factory in Merthyr Tydfil and was way ahead of his time.  Read the complete article here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2716555/Greengrocer-grandfather-Britains-condom-king-created-measure-reusable-condoms-using-car-tyre-rubber.html





Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Why I Sacked My Publisher!



It was ten years ago when I got 'The Call'.  Now those in the publishing world understand that it means you got that exciting information from a publisher that they wish to publish your book!  Many years ago it was more likely to have been a phone call or a letter.  Though nowadays, it's just as likely to be an email or even a text wouldn't surprise me!

Anyhow I'd got 'The email'.  I was so excited.  It was my first novel, the first one I'd ever written 'The End' on.  The first one I'd revised and edited and then followed all the publisher's guidelines and submitted for possible publication.

The publishing world moves at a snail's pace.  My novel entitled, 'It Happened One Summer' had taken around 9 months to complete.  As long as it takes to create a baby.   In fact it was my baby.

I ended up submitting it online to a publisher in the US.  Most of the romance publishers in the world are situated there.  It was a small press but they'd published lots of novels and had a good online presence.  I even knew a couple of authors published there.

However they did insist on a $45.00 set up fee.  Being a small operation it had it's overheads and the person who printed the books was a separate operation.  So I thought, fair enough.  They weren't charging hundreds and even thousands of dollars like the big vanity presses did. 

Fast forward two years.   Yes, a full two years later my book was slated for release and that's not unusual in the publishing world.  I had decided to donate all the proceeds to a charity I was working for and a big book launch was arranged with the mayor, other dignitries and the press.   So, imagine my disappointment when the first batch of books arrived at my door all the way from the good US of A and I opened them to see all was not as it should be.

In fact it my was my son who noticed it first.  He was 14 at the time and he looked inside one of the books and asked, "Mam why have they spelt your name wrong at the top of each page but it's correct on the cover?"  I thought as my son was a bit of a joker, he was teasing me.  But when I looked I could see he was telling the truth.

I checked book upon book and they were all the same.  My surname was Rees on the cover as it should have been but Reese inside.   I immediately contacted the publisher explaining my dilemma this was to be a big charity event at a local castle.  There press would be there for heaven's sake!  I got no satisfaction from the publisher at all.  They were very blasé about it all.  They didn't even offer a few free copies as a gesture of good will. 

It was the first print run and all they said they'd do was make sure the spelling was correct for the next print run!  I was mortified and had to go to work and explain the situation.  It was decided to go ahead with the launch anyhow as it could take weeks or months to ship more books over from the US.

The launch went very well and all books sold out.  There wasn't even one left for the mayor and some others, so more were ordered.  I kept my fingers crossed that the next batch would be as they should and they were, though they took a lot longer to arrive and there were hundreds of them.  The postman almost broke his back getting the sacks down the steps outside my house.

While this was going on I had a follow up book called, 'Return to Winter' accepted by that publisher, who I shall not name for legal reasons.  There has already been a double page spread about this published in a national magazine.  It was an article I wrote a few years ago and the editor discussed the merits of naming the publisher or not and we both decided against it, just in case it should come back and bite us both on the bum!

There were so many things I wasn't happy about with that publisher, including poor communication, that I asked to pull my book from them and also the second book due for publication, even though I'd signed a contract.   After a lot of bad feeling from them I got them to release me as an author, though they probably could have fought it but it was a small operation it probably wasn't worth the hassle to them.   And maybe I was a thorn in their side as I'd warned other authors about them at their online group.  There were others there too who felt like I did and maybe they were worried we'd join forces.  Several left after I did.

Anyhow I heard of a new publisher in New York who had just set up and I sent both books there which they immediately snapped up.  They were great to work with and they gave me free copies of my books and didn't charge a bean.  I had a good experience with those. 

Of course ten years down the line, I've learned a lot and been published with other publishers since.  I suppose the moral of the tale is, if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.   And even if it does at the time, you can probably do something about it.  The first publisher and the second publisher were like chalk and cheese.  The first was unprofessional but still exists today with mixed reviews about them.  The second has gone on to achieve a good reputation and now has lots of authors on their books.  I was one of the first in their new stable of authors.

For anyone who has written a novel and wishes to send it somewhere I advise you to do your homework and find out as much as you can about that publisher beforehand.  It might just save you a lot of aggro in the end...

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Life Without Facebook



I've been away from Facebook now since last Thursday evening.  That's almost 5 full days...

So what have the negatives and positives been thus far?

Well it's definitely been a very positive experience for me.   I've been writing up a storm.   I wrote 4000 words of my novel in progress on Sunday alone.  I doubt if I'd have done that if I'd been tempted to log into Facebook on the weekend.  I estimate since deactivating my account, I've clocked up around 10,000 words.  That's around a 1/6th of the first draft of most of my novels.  Imagine how quickly I could write if I carry on like this?  My productivity could soar through to the heavens!

I've also been reading a lot more too and have read one complete novel and I am in the midst of reading another.

I've also been enjoying reading and contributing more at romance writers' forums and reading articles about writing romance, online, etc.  Better than watching arguments arise on people's walls and in groups on Facebook!

My only vice is still logging into the Interpals website occasionally to speak to the quirky characters there, but I might even abandon that soon.

I'm not constantly leaving what I was doing to check in at The Book any more.

Am I feeling happier?  Yes, I think I am.

I think too if you leave a social media website that has been a big part of your life, then when you leave it even for a short while [as I did a couple of years ago] you rapidly discover who your real friends are.  Those who have other ways to contact you, will!  They'll email, phone or text you, or even as in one case, write you a letter!

All the others who don't seek you out are mere acquaintances.   If you don't have their contact details, you've chosen not to ask.  Others who do want to keep in touch but don't have contact details for you, will ask those that do.

They will CHOOSE to seek you out.

After all, for someone like me whose name is plastered all over the Internet....[my articles and stories have been published online since 1999 so I'm a bit of an Internet Whore] I'm not too difficult to find.  My email address will be there somewhere in amongst my articles on various websites or on my personal blogs/websites.

A Google search for my name throws up around 254,000 results.  Most of the 'Lynette Rees's' are me.  There's a Lynette Rees in Australia who's a successful photographer and there's one who is some sort of quilter, one is a poet, another some sort of researcher on TV, another a lawyer.  There was even one who was a belly dancer back in the old days when I first got online!  But the majority of the hits are for 'Lynette Rees the girl from Merthyr who happens to be a writer'.

Sometimes I wonder if the photographer from Australia minds we have the same name as it must be annoying for her to see the writer from Wales taking over most of the pages at Google.  But I had an online presence way back when....so I got there first I suppose.

So what have the negatives been being away from Facebook?  None really.  The only thing I miss is posting songs from You Tube and discussing them like some Hippy Internet DJ!  I do miss some of the people though, but like I said, I'm easy to contact and I have told two friends to pass on my email address should anyone want it as we share lots of mutual friends on Facebook.

I wonder if I'll be speaking this way next week and still think it's better to be away from it all?  Will I be straining at the leash to get back to Facebook or will I not give a jot?

Watch this space...

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Talking to the Wall: Why I decided to deactivate my Facebook account



I've been away from Facebook now a full forty hours.  Yes, I can be that precise.

For time being I've just deactivated my account to see if I feel any better.  And guess what...I do.

You see I'm not one of those people who only log in now and again.  I am a full blown Facebook addict who can't resist compulsively checking her inbox, newsfeed and groups.

Some of the time I've spent there has been useful.  I made some nice new friends who I've met in real life and kept in touch with.  I set up a writing group that inspired and motivated me to write new novels and complete unfinished ones.

The trouble for me was, I was wasting far too much time there.  I'd sometimes ask myself where the time had gone to.  Another day without writing a chapter of my latest work in progress.

And OMG please don't talk to me about the drama on Facebook!!  LOL

I was being a bit sarky there.  So many people seem to look for arguments and quarrel over the pettiest of things.  They also say things they wouldn't dream of saying to your face in real life.  They hide behind their computers and class themselves as 'keyboard warriors'.  Keyboard worriers more like as most of them couldn't punch their way out of a wet Echo and have so little going on in their lives that they want to cause mayhem and mischief on Facebook.

Let's be honest if they had more going on they'd pay scant attention to little things.

And of course, are these people real friends anyhow?  Some of them will friend you on Facebook but walk past you in the street.  Others will friend you in real life and ignore you on Facebook.  What's that all about?

I have made some nice friends on Facebook, I've also lost real life friends over it too.  Which is a shame but I think what happened was they showed their true colours online.  Things I hadn't noticed about them before became magnified on the Book.

And the other thing of course, is Tagging.  I don't appreciate being tagged in photographs showing up on my page before I've seen them, for the world and his wife to see.  Of course there is an option to stop that now and I did that. 

For me Facebook has so many privacy issues.  Have you noticed if you inbox someone, key words are chosen from your messaging and appear as sponsored ads in your newsfeed?  I remember one day a male Facebook friend messaging me, asking me a question about the book,  'Fifty Shades of Grey'.  I thought, what's he asking me that for?  Then he told me he'd seen one of my posts from that group appearing in his news feed even though he wasn't a member. 

Facebook encourages stalking.  I've had people follow me onto other people's pages and make comments, even though those people were not their friends.

And when you think of it, does anyone really care about the mundane things people post on their statuses?   The things we don't need to know about, like how they got drunk last night and woke up with a hang over this morning.  Or what a great time they had at a concert last night.  No, not really.   Quite frankly, I'd rather watch paint dry.  Yet people seem to post these things as if to prove they had a great time. But can they really be having a wonderful time if they're not in the moment and constantly posting updates about the concert?  Surely if they were enjoying it that much, Facebook would be the last thing on their minds?

So then, are people using social media to make it sound as if their lives are better than they really are?  I think so in a lot of cases.  I felt far more popular on Facebook than in real life sometimes. 

This will be an interesting experiment to see how long I can resist.  I might even be back there Monday posting, "I've just put out three lines of washing and baked a cake..." on the other hand I might just get on with my real life instead.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Rapture Recapatured by Thea Phillips my Review




This is the first time in a long while that I've a read a book in one complete sitting!

I was drawn in from the first page...and taken on a journey of discovery and high excitement.

"Widowed Anna meets Rick on an Internet dating site..."

Internet dating can be scary when you're young but what about when you're approaching your sixties and ready for your bus pass and bedroom slippers?

If you think erotic sex is for the young then you are wrong it's also for the young at heart. This is one hot, steamy read that I highly recommend this summer.

It's not just about the sexual scenes though, there is a real romance going on here. Anna is conflicted about her children's feelings about her being so loved up with a stranger. After all, she does have 'babysitting duties' to attend to. Why should she have a life of her own?

But whilst she has a sense of honour toward her family she also has a huge sense of lust and longing toward Rick. But things are never plain sailing and a forced separation threatens to tear the pair apart.

But is their love strong enough to survive the turbulence of a long distance relationship or would they both be better off forgetting one another and bailing out mid journey?

This is a tale that peaks and troughs just like those hot sex scenes Ms. Phillips pens so well.

Reading this novel makes you realise as a reader that not all grannies are made to knit bootees and bake apple pies. Some of them actually enjoy hard core knee tremblers while the oven is still hot....

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Rolf Harris: Past and Present



When I was a child a lot of TV presenters were like your favourite aunt or uncle.  The sort of people who could occasionally forget they were an adult and join in with the games.  They were people who taught us about life in a fun kind of way.  One person I’d put in this bracket is John Noakes who was a popular Blue Peter presenter during the 1970s, another was Jenny Hanley from Magpie, and yet another was, Antipodean, Rolf Harris.

As far back as I can remember, even when we had a black and white television which often went on the blink, Rolf was gracing our screens.  I seem to remember one programme on a Saturday night, which was some kind of guest show, where people sang and danced and then there’d be Rolf, painting something on a huge canvas from large cans of paint and what looked like a paste brush. The audience would watch in awe as he slapped on paint hither and thither.  He’d turn around and ask them, “Can you tell what it is yet?”  Even if they couldn’t, they would by the time the camera zoomed out and it would be something like two lions against the backdrop of the Serengeti or a lush, jungle scene with monkeys hanging from trees.

You’d scratch your head and think, ‘How amazing!’

Rolf was a national treasure not just in his native Australia but here in Great Britain too, as it was called in those days.  He was multi-talented.  Not only could he paint, but he could sing too.

I remember us learning the words to ‘Two Little Boys’ at school and singing along with the record that our teacher had placed on the turntable. That particular song shot to the top of the British charts in 1969.  He also did well with the songs,'Jake the Peg' and ‘Sunarise’ too. And he often brought out his Wobble Board and Didgeridoo. 

He promoted products too, like the Stylophone.  That little device where you could zip out a tune with a metal rod that ran against the keys making an electronic sound.  It was small enough to sit nicely in your top pocket.

Rolf didn’t stop there, he also took part in various safety information films about swimming and even one to do with abuse, ironically!

He had a connection to my home town of Merthyr Tydfil as his grandfather owned a photographic studio here and he also painted. So the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree there then as far as Rolf was concerned.  

My grandmother had an intriguing painting in her home of a young child in a pinafore dress that was painted by Rolf’s grandfather. The little girl was six years old and tragically, burnt to death in a fire.  I can only assume that my great grandmother asked Rolf’s grandfather to enlarge the original picture and crop some of it out, so she had one of her beloved child.  [The original photograph was of 3 young girls.] This was then painted over, colouring it up, as was the fashion of the time.

A genealogist in my family also appeared on a programme with Rolf Harris a few years ago and he also painted a portrait that was on display in Cyfarthfa Castle Museum.  This can be seen in the background of my book launch a few years ago.

So as you can probably tell....I thought highly of Mr Harris.

So did my children.  They used to love ‘Animal Hospital’ where Rolf could often be seen cuddling a ball of fluff or crying his eyes out when a dog or cat had to be destroyed.

The man had heart...didn't he?

We all thought, what a lovely family man he was too.  

What a great talent.

All that came crashing down of course after he was exposed as a predatory abuser following the Jimmy Savile enquiry.

I read on one blog called,  ‘The Needle Blog’, which had the courage to print things which at the time, the UK press would not, that Harris was being questioned by the police.  This was following a tweet from criminologist, Mark William-Thomas.  He decided it was in the public’s interest to out Rolf Harris at the time.  He got slated for it of course as most people found it hard to believe of Rolf.  

Even now there are people who will not believe it.

The blog also mentioned that Harris had made a suicide attempt and was rushed to the Priory and put on suicide watch.

But what is becoming evident over the course of time is that Harris is exhibiting some psychopathic traits.

[See Hare’s Checklist.]

He’s glib and exhibits a superficial charm to the public, yet he shows no guilt or remorse for what he’s put his victims through, or even his wife and daughter for that matter.

He turned his trial into a media circus at one point when he broke into ‘Sunarise’ from the dock and spoke of inventing the Wobble Board, thereby acting out his, ‘Rolf Harris Talented Entertainer’ persona.  He arrived at court every morning accompanied by his wife Alwen [who he sometimes pushed in a wheelchair] and Bindi his daughter, who was picked up in the same taxi around the corner at a local cafe.

It was a united front.

There was nothing this man wouldn’t do to create the illusion of having a close family unit.  Yet this was the man who jetted off to America just after his daughter’s birth and left his wife alone.  The same wife who wrote in her diary how lonely and suicidal she felt at the time.  

This was the man who abused his daughter’s best friend from the age of 13.

He wasn’t just a performer he was an actor of the highest calibre. 

He fooled you and he fooled me.

The biggest punishment now as he awaits sentencing on Friday after being found guilty on all 12 counts of indecent assault on 4 victims, is if he loses his persona of ‘Rolf Harris Talented Entertainer’.  If he goes into prison and becomes a nobody, not even a has been. But somehow I doubt that will happen.  I think he’ll create some kind of performance inside the prison, without even a little thought for his victims, because a psychopath is incapable of real remorse.  And someone needs to tell his wife and daughter, a psychopath isn’t capable of real love either...