Book Review: My Kind of Poetry by Janice Carter

My Kind of PoetryMy Kind of Poetry by Janice Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This delightful collection of poems, which are written straight from the poet’s heart and mind, are beautifully illustrated by sketches drawn by herself. All of the poems are so enchanting and personal. There is a good mix of places that Janice has visited, famous people she’s met and admired, less famous friends, family and acquaintances and milkmen and snooker players. You’ll discover what a Scotsman wears under his kilt; perhaps. You’ll even gain an insight into Janice’s attachment to pop socks. Many were written for people on their birthdays or on the occasion of their retirement, or to celebrate the birth of their first child.

Most of the poems are amusing, but some are tinged with sadness. The finale is a poem to the memory of the poet’s dear parents, whom she misses greatly.

All in all, a charming little book of very personal rhymes which will appeal to many. I thoroughly recommend it.

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Redundancy: New Opportunities?

Image result for asg technologies logoWhen I joined ASG Technologies, almost ten years ago, I believed that I would be seeing out the rest of my working life at this great, innovative software company. Until very recently, that belief prevailed. Over the last three years in particular, the company has gone through remarkable transition, and I have enjoyed a major role in its exciting evolution. The future looked very bright.

Then my world came crashing down!

On the 21st September, I was summoned to a “redundancy consultation meeting.” The invitation letter informed me that, due to a shortfall in services sales revenue, the company had found it necessary to make some cost reductions. My salary and overhead fell into the category of a cost reduction. I was requested to present my proposals for options to avoid redundancy. Unfortunately, none of the options that I presented at that meeting proved viable, so I find myself joining the ranks of the unemployed.

Naturally, this comes as a huge disappointment to me. Over the past ten years, I have had the honour and great pleasure to work with some amazing people, many of whom have become close friends.

Suddenly, my life is in turmoil!

Well. It was, until I realised what had just happened to me.

Those who know me well, believe that I am a very positive person. I inspire and motivate those people who surround me. I thought about this today, and I have come to the conclusion that this belief is more than a sentiment. It is true. It is time to look at the fantastic new opportunities that are opening up in front of me due to my change in circumstances. I’ve got to get on with life.

My best friend and fellow author, Eloise, told me that, “As one door closes, another on opens.” I would go a step further. Many doors are about to open for me!

As I busy myself with updating my CV and my LinkedIn profile, and searching for new jobs in technology, I am starting to look for opportunities in other sectors. Realistically, I realise that it is going to take me a while to find new employment.

So now I have yet another, unexpected opportunity. I am going to have my time to get my head down and become super-productive with my writing.

  1. I can continue with my next novel. I have already started that.
  2. I’ve had a series of children’s story in mind for a long time. The children and parents that I’ve tested these on get very excited and can’t wait to read them. I aim to write the first three episodes before I start my next job. That’s a challenge, as I don’t even know how long this interlude will last.
  3. I’m going to enter lots of competions in writing magazines: flash fiction, poetry, short stories……
  4. I’m going to write tonnes of short stories, following the advice of Linda Lewis and others, and submit, submit, submit.
  5. At the Swanwick Writers’ Summer Schools in 2016 and 2017, I learned a lot, and I really do mean A LOT, from Sue Moorcroft about writing commercial popular fiction, finding agents and publisher, and turning my writing into cash. I am determined to use what I have learned from her, and position myself to proudly declare to her that she has made me viable as a living author.
  6. To be able to achieve all of the above, I am going to have to do a lot of research. Once again, it was the speakers of Swanwick who taught me to do this better. I want to give special shout-outs to Kate Bendelow and Kathryn Aalto.
  7. Finally, I might get around to actually take the sound advice offered by Suzie at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards earlier this year regarding monetizing blogs. I need some income!

I need to knuckle down, believe in myself, and work hard.

My dreams WILL come true!

So stand by for some action. I’ll keep you informed.

Wish me luck. I’ll need it.


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Lance’s Coach Tour #9

Monday is Columbus Day, which is a public holiday in about half of the States of the United States of America. Little did he know that his discovery of the New World was going to open up the biggest can of massively wriggly worms in the history of mankind. So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, let’s set forth to greet the great Italian seaman as he lands on the shores of Jamaica in 1494.

“I absolutely love that period of history!” shouts deputy porter, Lucie. Make sure youset your dials tight this time, Lance. We don’t want to land in the middle of an ancient Caribbean hurricane.”

Eloise asks Teagan if she has baked another of her lovely cakes for today’s celebrity host.

“Of course! I’ve baked several of my unique orange and lemon sponges for him to share with his officers and crew. That’ll fight off the dreaded scurvy.”

We’ve only driven a few hours down the timeline before Howard, our resident tout minstrel, leading us all in a medley of sea shanties.

Sherry, Barb, Tess, David, Sheila and Yvonne join him in perfect harmony. Olga, Hugh, Kathryn and Colleen are soon singing along too.

Victo Dolore and Ritu are rather worried about the possibility of seasickness on the trans-Atlantic crossing but i reassure them. I have recently fitted the very latest, twenty-third century cosmic stabilisers from one of my more forward trips.

Marissa, Karin, Chuck and Kamal wisely slap on the sunscreen just as we land on the Mapbeach of what has become known as Discovery Bay. It is beautiful. Already, the natives are gathering to watch the approaching fleet of strnge European vessels. They have obviously never seen anything of he knid and they don’t know whether to be scared or excited.

Some of our newer time-travelling companions find it strange that the people don’t bat an eyelid at the appearance of a bus from the future. It is not long before Sylvia explains to the that my coach is designed to blend perfectly whith whatever surroundings we find ourselves in during our travels.

We persuade the local people that a friendly welcome might be prudent. SO they dance and sing an dplay their strange musical instruments, as Christopher Coumbus and his crew approach the beach. A feast is soon in the making.

The famous explorer stares at us. We look out of place on this island.

“Are you the people whom I seek? From the land of Nippon? Are you Japanese?”

We carefully avoid his question by asking him about his voyages.

He exlains that he is loving the dicoveries of new lands and peoples, but that he sometimes finds them rather difficult to deal with.

columbus_watling“They just won’t obey orders. I am not used to such subordination.”

I notice that Jeannette takes him aside to whisper in his ear. They return to the main party looking very satisfied with themselves.

“What did you say,?” I ask.

I reminded him that there will be a total eclipse of the moon in just tow evenings from today. These natives know little of astronomy and cannot predictt such events. I told him that the should inform them that, if they don’t do exactly as he instructs, he will steal their moon. He thinks that this would be a tremendous joke and that it migh just work.

Sadly, the feast is concluding, and I usher my guests back onto the bus.

We have all enjoyed the spicy, fruity food. We have all enjoyed the drink. We have all enjoyed the entertainment. Most of all, we have all enjoyed witnessing the opening of a whole new world.

As we whizz back, or should I say forward, to modern London, the excitement continues. On thing that we all have in common is that we are all bloggers. Everybody is thinking the same thought: “I can’t wait to share this with my blogging followers!”

Supplementary to that thought, they are processing to the front of the coach to suggest future destinations for Lance’s Coach Tour Number Nine and beyond. Where and when would YOU like to go?

Tell me!

There were many other bloggers who were on this trip who were not mentioned in my report. The following people shared the fun of our wonderful trip to the Shandu Summer Palace to meet Kublai Khan and Marco Polo:

DonnaDavidAlka, Francis, Ane, LiaItchy Quill, Dominique, Beth, Krissy, Lucy, Nydia, Carrie, Alka, Deborah, Almost Welsh Sarah, Janet, Erika, Wendy Kate, Sally, Tooty Nolan, The Owl Lady, The Crazy Bag Lady, CarolCCBecSassycare, Jo, JaneDiana,  Heartafire, Simple Head Girl, BarbaraNydia, Carrie, BecJason, Sassy, Amber, Steve, AllisonVonita, JulzFaraday’s Candle Sisters, FionaOrdinary WifeLili, Bridgette, Nunziapier, Izma, Meredith, Charise,
Boikanyo, Razorback, Marianne, Cindy, Sacha.

Previous Coach Tours:

  1. Stonehenge during its construction: meeting the foreman
  2. 1920’s New Orleans
  3. Macedonia in 338 BC to meet Aristotle and the young Prince Alexander (the Great)
  4. Syracuse in the mid-third century BC to meet Archimedes
  5. Vienna in 1801 to meet Ludwig van Beethoven
  6. First Century AD Britain to visit Queen Boudica on the eve of a great battle
  7. Kublai Khan’s Summer Palace during visit of Marco Polo
  8. Galileo’s small apartment in Pisa, where we told him all about the sixty-seven moons of Jupiter.


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#GuestPost by Shelley Wilson, #author of How I Motivated Myself to Succeed @ShelleyWilson72

In itself, this is an inspirational guest post about regaining the motivation to both write and to be inspirational. It comes at the right time for me. I am going through some very difficult times in my life and may soon be forced to regain my writing mojo or… Who knows?!

Christina Philippou

I am delighted to be bringing you the next post in the blog tour for How I Motivated Myself to succeed by Shelley Wilson. I am even more delighted to welcome Shelley with a guest post to celebrate:

Blog Tour Banner for Shelley Wilson HIMMTSGiving Up On My Book and Then Finding My Mojo Again 

When you decide to write a book there’s a relatively easy process to follow. You choose a working title, plot and plan your chapters, and then begin to write. Yes, it can be a tad more complicated than that but you get the general idea!

I started writing How I Motivated Myself to Succeed back in 2015, soon after my first book, How I Changed My Life in a Year was released and I began receiving positive feedback. It felt like the right time to activate the ‘relatively easy process’ part of writing a sequel. Unfortunately, when I was 30,000 words…

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Book Review: Fatherland by Robert Harris

FatherlandFatherland by Robert Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an excellent book!

The version that I read was a twentieth anniversary edition of Robert Harris’s breakthrough novel. In the forward, he explains how the concept of a work of fiction based on a world in which Germany had prevailed as victors in WWII. It came to him, in the eighties, when he was researching for a non-fiction book about Hitler’s forged diaries. Consequently there is a lot of factual basis to the story. But it was written almost by accident.

Fatherland is enacted in the sixties. This is so that many of the principal characters of the Third Reich, including Adolph Hitler himself, could realistically still be living. The crimes which are being investigated by Xavier March, an ex U-boat commander turned detective, occur during the build up to Hitler’s 75th birthday celebrations in Berlin. There is a great deal of animosity between the criminal investigation branch of the police force, and the Gestapo. The state is based on fear. People are still grassing on their fellow citizens, and even family, for capital crimes such as homosexuality and expressing anti-state sentiments.

When Zavi is called on to investigate the discovery of a body on the shore of the Havel lake, life quickly becomes dangerous for him. The victim is a very senior public figure. The Gestapo become involved, and order the criminal investigator to back off. Smelling a huge rat, Zavi ignores the order, to his peril.

The descriptions of post war, triumphalist Berlin, with its monstrous statues which out-do anything ever seen in any other European capital city by a long way, reminds me of Caucescu’s Bucharest of the eighties. It could so easily have become reality in sixties Berlin.

There is even a reference to the Nazi state frowning on the student rapture which greets a band from Liverpool, in the British colony of the Reich!

Needless to say, Investigator March continues to dig a deeper and deeper hole for himself. The enormity of the events which lay behind the initial murder, and subsequent horrors, builds the tension and grips the reader.

Harris’s imagination and creativity verge on genius. This is truly a thriller. Read it!

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Book Review: Dirty Filthy Rich Boys by Laurelin Page

Dirty Filthy Rich Boys (Dirty Duet, #0.5)Dirty Filthy Rich Boys by Laurelin Paige
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this little story, which acts as an enticing introduction to the series. It certainly achieves its goal in making me want to read on into the first real instalment.

The characters are quickly built and the reader begins to understand them and gain empathies.

At the end, there is a glimpse of Dirty Filthy Rich Men, which takes us ten years on from the end of this book.

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Book Review: The IX by Andrew P Weston

The IX  (The IX #1)The IX by Andrew P. Weston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a quite amazing story and is a great read, although my view is that it is a bit long. I would have preferred it to be compressed into about 400 pages.

The concept of bringing combatants and brains from various eras of Earth’s history to save the planet Arden, on the opposite side of the galaxy, from the invasion of the “Horde.” The horde appear to be an almost limitless force of suicidal beings, who are driven by telepathy and have psyche which is completely contrary to anything human.

The convergence of the best of military strategies and tactics, even from factions who were sworn enemies back in the Earthly eras is very interesting. The simplest and most ancient strategies, tactics and tools often prove to be better than modern or futuristic methods.

For me, the story really picked up its pace as soon as we gained visibility of the minds of the Horde. From that point on, there was high tension from every viewpoint right up until the end. I can’t say much more than that without creating spoilers.

I recommend this book to all lovers of fantasy and sci-fi, although you will need some stamina to get through it.

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