My Week In Freelancing 06/08/17 – 13/08/17

As the Scottish summer draws to a close, I’m finding I am constantly playing catch-up and have really slowed down on the freelancing front. Below are the links to all the OxGadgets posts I’ve contributed this week. Next week, I’ll be returning to mystery shopping and re-visiting my Fiverr profile with a view to seeking out more work to undertake in September. Then I can start writing stories about what I’ve been doing and not just posting links.

Braven Introduce the Stryde 360 Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker 

Manfrotto Introduce Ultimate Drone Protection Bags Range

Honeywell’s Lyric Thermostat Adds Google Home Integration

Review: Nextbase 512GW Dash Cam

L K Solves The Problem

Today we have our monthly appearance from our resident agony aunt, L K Jay. She’s an indie author whose niche is ghost stories and she works in education when she isn’t creating spine tingling tales. L K is a girl who has been there, done that and knows where we’re going wrong so she will be solving your problems in her own inimitable style. She’ll give you tea and sympathy while maintaining the ability to give you some straight talking.

l k jay agony aunt

This month, our problem is from a reader in Paris who hasn’t quite got the hang of social media etiquette yet. Let’s hear how L K would solve her issues…

Dear LK,
I have this really huge problem and it is having a devastating effect on my life. Every time someone posts a Facebook status that is even slightly vague, I get paranoid that it’s about me. Everyone I know laughs about people doing what I do and jumping to conclusions but it’s becoming such a massive problem that I am losing a lot of friends over it. Up until recently I would confront those people about their posts, either online or in person but that just caused more trouble because they would always deny it. Now I tend to keep quiet but I end up stewing over it and it eats away at me. How can I get past this?
Anon, Paris
l k jay agony aunt narcissist isolation
Dear Anon of Paris,
I’m assuming there are psychological counsellors in Paris as this is what I think you need to get over your overwhelming narcissism.  Either that, or just don’t look on Facebook.  I can assure you, there is no conspiracy against you on Facebook, everyone is far too self involved on there to send cryptic messages about you or sharing pictures of cats.  If they want to tell you something, then they usually private message you.
Alternatively, if you live in Paris, then enjoy it.  You are in one of the most beautiful cities in the world that is packed full of hot men.  As I would give my eye teeth to be living there, I can assure you that if that was me, I’d be living with my unspeakably hot French husband and drinking a lot of Bordeaux in his summer residence in the Loire valley or something.  I’d also be having a sizzling hot affair with the pool attendant, after all, you’re in France so it would be rude not to. This is why you don’t get a lot of French people on Facebook, the weather is nice and they have the whole relationship thing sussed.  Who needs Facebook when you’re surrounded by hot French men?
This is why we rely on social media in the UK, the weather is shit and the men are appalling.  Get the counselling you need for your anxiety, stop being self involved and enjoy living in gay Paris.  Fuck me, I would if I was you!
L K Jay
If you have a problem you’d like L K to solve, you can anonymously leave a comment below or send us your email. Names will be deleted and all problems are published on our page as from “Anon”
What would your advice to this reader be?

My Week In Freelancing 31/07/17 – 06/08/17

Here is a round-up of all my freelancing work for the week, which is available to read on OxGadgets. There were some interesting items this week.

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme 7414 Review This was a rugged laptop designed with the military in mind that can withstand the harshest of conditions.

Atailorbird Waterproof Gadget Case Review A really sweet waterproof case that transports all your gadgets and cables while travelling

BakBlade 2.0 Review A device designed to shave men’s hairy backs.

Merge Virtual Reality Headset Review Basically, you insert your smartphone into this and it gives you an immersive virtual reality experience

AlcoSense Excel Review You might think that being tee-total means I’d have no material for reviewing a breathalyser. You would be wrong.

 

Switch To Green Energy And Earn Cash

If you’re like me, you’ve been angered by the recent price hikes from the energy companies like British Gas. So, it makes sense to switch suppliers. When I did so last year, I chose Bulb for a few reasons.

The first reason I switched to Bulb was because they’re a small start-up who have only recently joined the market. This means when you phone them to give a meter reading, you’re speaking to someone in a really small team and you’ll likely get treated like a human being rather than just another customer. As you all know, RockPaperSpirit is all about supporting the small brands.

renewable energy bulb referral £50 off

The second reason I chose Bulb is that they supply green energy from renewable sources. As someone who is concerned by climate change, this appealed to me. I’m no expert in these areas but I know that renewable sources are a good thing and something I want to encourage.

The third reason was financial. I’m not just writing this blog because I want to push a small company, although that is important! By signing up with my referral link, you can get £50 off your bill. I also get £50 off mine. It’s win/win. You’ll also save on switching fees, because Bulb pay them for you.

renewable energy bulb referral £50 off

Their prices aren’t always the cheapest on the market. That will depend on your usage. But they are competitive and with the green energy issue and the fact you don’t have switching fees and can earn £50 for each referral, they are an option worth looking at.

My referral link is https://join.bulb.co.uk/join/quote/laceydearie  By clicking there to sign up, you’ll get £50 off your bill and Bulb will pay your switching fees from your old energy supplier.

The 10-A-Day For A Month Challenge

It’s well known that in the UK, the recommended government guidelines state that we should eat five portions of fruits and vegetables a day. This doesn’t seem like a lot, because it isn’t but somehow I still fall short and eat less. Some days, I don’t manage to eat any so I down a glass of orange juice with dinner in the hopes that it will make a difference.

5 a day orange juice 10 a day fruits vegetables

In other European countries they recommend seven portions and when I did some research into the anti-inflammatory diets that are recommended to chronic pain sufferers, they suggest nine portions a day. It’s thought by some that ten a day is the best way to go for optimum health. So, I decided to go super healthy and try to eat ten portions a day and document what happens.

In my teens, I ate very little fruit due to some illness and dietary restrictions that were outwith my control, so in my twenties I was angelic when it came to my diet. After having a child at thirty and becoming depressed, I then started to choose comfort foods over healthy foods. I also developed an itch whenever I ate apples or drank apple juice which made me fearful of fruits in the same family as apples and it snowballed into a weird aversion to fruits. Having conquered this, I now want to address the problems that have stemmed from that, i.e. my health has rapidly declined in the four years since the apple intolerance started.

apple poison allergy

My first job was to figure out how the hell I would fit all these fruits and vegetables into my diet. I mean, the logistics of it had me sighing before I even started. So, as I start tomorrow, I did a supermarket shop today for all sorts of things that count toward my ten-a-day. I headed for the dried fruits aisle first and picked up raisins and apricots. I then browsed and purchased a huge jar of olives, some pickled beetroot and onions and then some tinned peaches, mandarins and pears. Apparently beans and pulses count but I’m not a huge fan of lentils (my food hell, to be honest) so I stocked up on baked beans, kidney beans, canellini beans and chickpeas. I even bought a can of butter beans, which I haven’t had since I was a little girl but I was willing to try them again. I picked up canned tomatoes, sweetcorn, carrots and asparagus.

soup vegetables 10 a day

As for frozen foods, that was easy. I love peas, broccoli and cauliflower. Then, I bought fruit juice. Lots and lots of orange juice, pineapple juice and grapefruit juice.

Actually, there was quite a lot there. It looked like this was going to be easier than I thought, and that was before I even got onto the fresh items. Bananas, pears, sweet potatoes, butternut squash (my food heaven), cucumber, onions, carrots, leeks, celery, sweet potatoes, courgettes, strawberries, raspberries, pink grapefruit and cherries. I threw in a couple of corn cobs because I saw on a random website that someone likes having them instead of crisps at night. I like that idea.

corn on the cob

I certainly wasn’t going to starve but my worry was that all the fresh food would be wasted. Well, that wasn’t the only thing I was worried about. I looked in my trolley and thought, this is a farting spree waiting to happen.

It’s surprising the things that count toward your fruit and vegetable intake that you would never imagine. Like popcorn? Seriously? Isn’t corn a grain rather than a vegetable anyway? There’s also a lot of conflicting advice out there, even from reliable sources. On the British Heart Foundation website I found one page advising that vegetable soups, olives and sandwich fillings count toward your five a day. Then on another page, it said they don’t because they’re too salty, too processed or so dilute in nutrients. It’s confusing, to say the least.

Then there’s portion sizes. Ugh, I feel like reaching for the ice-cream just thinking about trying to navigate all that. However, if in doubt, I will go with the old fashioned rule that a portion is either three tablespoons or as much as I can hold in the palm of my hand.

I’ll be updating regularly on my progress and if anyone would like to join me, please do!

10 a day fruit and vegetables

Pre-Challenge Diary

I feel tired and sore. I don’t know what else to say. I have pain in my left foot, leg thigh, tummy, left buttock and groin area. My skin is ok but I look tired and pale. I have raging PMT today and a desire to get loads done but very little energy. I sleep well some nights and badly on others. It sometimes depends on how my son sleeps so it’s not really a good benchmark for my health. I get quite thirsty in the mornings. I struggle to eat whole meals and my appetite is poor. I crave chocolate and sugar often. Libido is low, probably due to the pain. I often feel depressed. My anxiety is managed quite well at the moment but I do have bad spells. I find it easy to smile but it’s not always a natural smile. There are all my complaints, things I am hoping will get fixed magically with a better diet. Disclaimer: I am also attending physiotherapy, but progress is slow.

My Week In Freelancing 24-07-17 to 30-07-17

Thankfully, this week, I have a little more content to share! Doing a throwback week here on RockPaperSpirit with a couple of old posts and reviews gave me a chance to get my new e-book, Leger’s Journey, formatted and published. I’ve got some more OxGadgets work to share too. All in all, it’s been a successful week!

Pros and Cons of an E-Bike This article discusses the benefits of e-bikes and the drawbacks too.

avanti ebike oxgadgets

Siesta S6 DAB+ Radio Alarm Clock Unveiled by Pure This is a gorgeous new radio alarm that has gone onto my wish list!

pure siesta alarm clock oxgadgets

Gogo Lantern Review This isn’t my favourite item but it does have its uses and it’s an interesting one to watch on Indiegogo.

gogo lantern indiegogo oxgadgets

Leger’s Journey This is the 25th Leger novella and sees our feline hero take a train journey, but dash onto another train when he sees a child being snatched. All is not as it seems though and there’s a mysterious man with a scarred eyebrow watching his every move.

lacey dearie leger's journey cat sleuth

Next week there will hopefully be an audio book release as well as some more OxGadgets reviews and some perfume reviews. Have a great week everyone!

One Decision Can Change Everything

I saw a meme today that got me thinking. It said, “You’re always a decision away from a totally different life.” It struck a chord because I believe it’s true.

motivational meme birthday

This week it was my birthday. I turned 37. While my day was mostly positive there was a dark cloud over it because of the chronic pain I’ve been suffering. First I lay in bed, trying to make the most of my luxurious extra hour under the duvet but since I had twinges of pain, I couldn’t fall back asleep. So, I lay there listening to the radio. I like the Christian O’Connell show, so it was nice to hear more of it than I usually do.

Then I wanted to go to Paisley and pick up an order I’d placed online using a click and collect service three weeks ago. Except, I still can’t drive for any longer than a few minutes and would have to get a train and then a bus. That wouldn’t be a problem but the rain was coming down in sheets. So, I stayed home and baked myself a birthday cake instead. Everyone needs a cake on their birthday, right?

In the early evening, we went to the cinema as a family to see Cars 3. It was perhaps my lowest point of the day. Every single chair in the theatre reclined meaning that the pain shot all the way from my pubic area to my belly button. There was no way I could stay and watch the movie, but I also couldn’t let my son be disappointed. So, I left and I sat outside by myself for two hours while Alex and Luke watched the movie. I admit, I cried a little. It seemed like such a sad thing, to be sitting on your own in a cinema on your birthday, unable to watch a movie while everyone else can because my stupid body has let me down again. I didn’t want to let it ruin my day, but yes, it stung.

 

I spoke to some of the cinema staff and told them what was happening. One of them refunded all our tickets and gave me some free passes to come back and sit in a different theatre with seats that don’t recline whenever I want. Then he explained the situation to the staff in the on-site Coffee Republic who plied me with bottomless cups of tea and free Oreos. For some inexplicable reason, I had a pen in my bag – I don’t remember putting it in there – and I spent my evening writing notes for a new novella series on napkins.

 

I started to think about that meme, about how we’re all always one decision away from a totally different life. I thought about the movie Sliding Doors and I remembered that when I watched it back in 1998, I wondered what my life would have been like if I hadn’t choked on a pizza one rainy Thursday afternoon in October 1995. That sparked a phobia, which led me to leave school early and threw me into the path of people I should never have met. It knocked me off course. That was my turning point back in my teens and at this point in my life, I now wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn’t picked up my son one grey Sunday afternoon in November 2014 and hurt my back.

I imagined that I would never have acquired that injury. I would never have spent so much money visiting osteopaths, acupuncturists, physiotherapists and counsellors in an attempt to rid myself of the pain. I might never have fallen into depression. I would never have undertaken any voluntary work for Barnardos trying to make myself feel worthy of a pain-free life because I somehow felt like I didn’t deserve it. I might never have given up on writing Leger as I did for a while. I certainly wouldn’t have written my Cherry Fairy Tales series. Maybe I’d be working in a 9 to 5 job again. Who would I have met or not met? Would I still have been alone in a cinema on my birthday, making notes for a new book?

Whenever such a phrase catches my eye, I tend to think of the things that went wrong rather than seeing the possibilities that many decisions have been made that brought me to a happier life. As time has passed, and I found happiness in my 20s, that Thursday afternoon in 1995 didn’t seem so catastrophic and I felt like perhaps it was the best path for me after all. Perhaps one day, when I’m stronger both physically and emotionally, I’ll find that Sunday afternoon when I hurt my back was not the disaster I imagined it to be last night. I won’t curse that day. I’ll be thankful that it knocked me off my intended course.

trevor ubdegrove lacey dearie cartoon

Today, my blogging Yoda said something to me that made me smile. He said that it seems like the universe is aligned in my favour right now and in many ways, he’s right. Things are improving. Things are changing. Perhaps the decision that brings me to a better life is just around the corner. And I hope that next year, if I find myself alone in a sad cafe on my birthday, it’s for the right reasons.

Special thanks to Trevor Ubdegrove who I met on Twitter for the cartoon he drew of me riding a unicorn. It’s basically the most awesome thing ever and really cheered me up that night.

Leger’s Journey by Lacey Dearie

Tueday 25th July 2017 was launch day for the latest in my feline detective series, The Leger Cat Sleuth Mysteries. This is book number 25 in the series (yes, I’m exhausted) and it’s the first addition to the collection since November last year. I’ve now come to the conclusion that there’s no such thing as “writer’s block.” It’s just an excuse for not getting my work done.

So, I’ve gotten over the distractions and dedicated a little bit of time each day to writing. I ditched everything I had already worked on, since it wasn’t progressing and focused on a new direction.

lacey dearie leger's journey cat sleuth

This story sees Leger, Ginger and Amber set off on a train ride with Annabella and Nicole. However, Leger witnesses a child being snatched just as they board the train to London and he has to devise a plan to get the child back to his mother. But, there may be more to this incident than meets the eye. While Leger is busy putting his detective skills to good use, Annabella and Nicole have followed Leger onto the wrong train to rescue him, leaving Ginger and Amber still on their way to London and Leger, Annabella and Nicole all risk being thrown off the train if they can’t think quickly.

It’s been fun. And I feel like I have my Leger mojo back. I can’t say that the novel is going to be here this year, but I’m working on a new batch of stories which will be coming to an e-store near you very soon. The links to purchase this new story are below.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Kobo and Createspace links are coming soon.

On The Bed With Lacey

Due to a family bereavement, a to-do list bottleneck, an e-book launch and an audio book that’s been sitting for far too long, I have decided to do a Throwback Week on RockPaperSpirit. I first started blogging in 2005 and I’ve moved from one platform to another as the years passed, each time leaving behind a wealth of material that should never have been cast aside. So, this week I want to re-publish some old material from previous sites, which gives me a little breathing space and hopefully is entertaining for readers, old and new alike. Today’s blog is from September 2012 when I interviewed my husband, Alex. Read on to see what happened…

Here we are again, another interview.  This time I’ve chosen to interview my husband, Alex.  It’s not easy living with an author.  I will be the first to admit that.  But here, Alex is going to dish the dirt on the highs, the lows, and the downright crazy times he’s had being my husband.  So I decided to catch him unawares and ask some rather pertinent questions.

Good evening Alex 🙂 *bounces onto the bed*

Good evening, Lacey.  You’re looking gorgeous, as always.

lacey dearie husband

This was us at a festival last year, with Alex doing the duck face. Always the joker!

I would like to point out, I don’t have a gun to his head right now. He says these things without prompting.  Lets get started with the questions.  Can you sum up, in one sentence, what it’s like being married to an independent author?

No.

Two then?  Or more?

I’ll try.  Well, it’s always interesting.  There’s always something happening, whether it be with the latest book being written, or the previous book which is being publicised or being reviewed, or sales being checked.

*Lacey laughs*

There’s always something going on when you’re married to an independent author.  Also, being dragged off to exotic locations for research purposes is fun!

Exotic locations?  Like Inverness?

Yes, I loved that.  Particularly the way they have their meals in the dark up there.  Also, Cyprus.  Which is a tad more exotic and romantic than Inverness.

Living with me means you know the inside story about why things were written into my books.  Is it weird or do you enjoy it, like you’re one of the few who know the secret handshake?

It certainly gives you a different view to some of the events in the books from other readers who are unaware of the background of the story.  And the characters. 

Our wedding day in 2005

 

How did you feel when I said I was going to write another book?

At first I thought, oh God, not again.  But I obviously realise how important your writing is to you, so I’m looking forward to the next research trip 😉

How does it feel knowing that your wife is living a double life?  And how would you feel if your family found out?

It’s sometimes a bit strange.  I have to ask if that was Lacey or my wife who said that, or spoke to that person.  So it keeps me on my toes.  I would be extremely proud and would gladly share the news of my wife’s success as an indie author.

How do you feel knowing that your wife’s told the whole world she was a sex toy tester?

Once again, I can only say how proud I am of my wife’s achievements…

*laughs again*  I bet you are.  OK, this is off topic, but I ask everyone this.  What’s your favourite biscuit?

It has to be a milk chocolate digestive.

Dunked in warm tea?

Oh no, for that it would be a tea biscuit.

I’m a penguin/caramel wafer kinda girl, but you knew that already. 

Yes, by the packet.  I know.

Moving on.  You know I’m not just a novelist.  I’m also a keen blogger, and have been for years.  I’ve blogged almost every concert we’ve attended, holiday we’ve taken, sex toy embarrassment we’ve had and numerous random incidents.  What’s your favourite blog that’s been written by your wife?

Probably “Alastair,” which was very funny.  And so true.

I liked that one too.  Do you ever scratch your head at some of the things I’ve blogged and wonder why I decided to share that?

No, I can’t say I’ve ever scratched my head.  I know how random you can be, and it doesn’t surprise me when you share this with the world.

On our honeymoon in Venice

Ok Alex.  Now’s your chance to get your own back.  Anything you want to divulge about me?  I will not edit this.   You have my word.

You check into places on Foursquare you’ve never been to. 

Shhhhh!

Your first toe is shorter than your big toe, which is weird.  Both I and our son have a first toe longer than our big toe. 

Freaks.

I can’t really think of any dirt to dish.  You’re addicted to chocolate?

This is not news to anyone.  Thank God you didn’t mention the Justin Bieber thing… Next question.  What do you think when I get random people on Twitter flirting with me?

*laughs*  Well, it’s a bit disconcerting sometimes.  But it’s no surprise to me.

Awww.  Again, I do not have a gun to his head.  And I’m not bribing him to say this stuff.  Quick fire round.  Pick one.  Baked or The Tangled Web?

Baked.

tangled web lacey dearie

The cover of my first e-book, The Tangled Web

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars.

Twitter or Facebook?

Twitter.

And if you were a Muppet, which one would you be?

Animal.

What’s the down side to being married to a writer?

The down side is the amount of your time it takes up.  And having to support you through bad reviews and when you struggle with the writing process.  It’s hard to watch because there’s nothing I can really do to help, especially when I’ve seen the amount of work you put in to writing.  It’s hard to see someone rubbish it in a few words. 

It’s the worst part of the job.  But in for a penny, in for a pound, eh?

Yes, and to be honest I think you cope with it really well.

What did you honestly think of my books?

I honestly enjoyed both of them, even though The Tangled Web isn’t quite my…thing.  They were both funny.  The Tangled Web keeps you hanging on at the end of every chapter and you just want to keep on reading.  Adam was my favourite character.  I didn’t like Scarlett.  Baked! is hilarious and cute and since I know the origins it’s just quite close to my heart.

Last question, then I’ll let you go to sleep.  What advice would you give other spouses of independent authors and/or bloggers?

Have patience and give them all the support you can.  And who says I’m going to sleep?

Oooh!  Thanks for answering my questions.  Think I’ll turn the laptop and the light off now… 😉

The Listening Post by L K Jay

It’s time to feature a book from a RockPaperSpirit regular contributor and today we’re looking at The Listening Post by L K Jay. I read this book back in 2012 while on holiday and although I’m not a fan of ghost stories, I decided that since it was written by a friend and fellow indie author this was the perfect time to step out of my comfort zone. I’m always apprehensive of reviewing books from unfamiliar genres because I have little to compare them with but let’s look at it as just a book, rather than pigeon-holing it.

l k jay the listening post

I have to say I genuinely enjoyed this book and recommended it to my husband, who was a voracious reader of ghost stories in his formative years. It had me really creeped out, so much so that when I was trying to get to sleep afterwards I had this scene from the book in my head and couldn’t drift off, so had to get back up and take my mind off it. I’m told that’s the mark of a well-written ghost tale. For those wondering, this is the scene where Susan’s ghost appeared to Walter in the dream and her eyes sprang open and she shouted, “Bang,” just as the bombers flew over the lighthouse. Watch out for it!

l k jay agony aunt

This book is one that got under my skin and the ending wasn’t predictable. I have to say, I didn’t see what was coming and the explanation about who the ghosts were and why they were coming was really well planned.

I read the first edition of this book. It’s now in it’s second edition and has been edited by Olivia Wood. I gave this book five stars in my Amazon review and would definitely recommend this. You can purchase it on the links below. It’s available in e-book format and paperback.

Amazon US $1.50

Amazon UK £1.15