Switch To Green Energy And Earn Cash With Bulb

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.


5 Things Not To Do During A Job Interview

This year, I am determined to get a new job. I have set myself a target of finding suitable employment by Easter, which seemed realistic and do-able, until this week. I went for my first job interview in a number of years. Over the last ten years, I’ve only been for two, including the one this week but in the course of my working life there have been plenty, both good and bad. While this week’s interview was by no means a disaster, it did inspire me to share some of my horrendous interviews so you can learn from my experience, and hopefully laugh at yourself the way I can now laugh at some of these.

Don’t stare at the interviewer’s distinguishing facial features

My first ever job interview was at the local Gala Bingo in 1998. The man interviewing me had three eyebrows. I kid you not. He had the normal two and then another separate from them right in the middle of his forehead. I spent far too long looking at it and wondering if it was a hairy bindi, some kind of piercing or if he was just unfortunate enough to have been born with three eyebrows. I didn’t do well on the questions and then I got a letter the very next day telling me thanks but no thanks. I don’t blame them, to be honest.

job interview what not to do

Don’t leave your handbag open

My last long-term job was at a firm of solicitors in Paisley. At my interview I somehow left my handbag open, dropped it and out popped my feminine hygiene products, in full view of everyone in the very busy reception area. The male junior turned around, looked and then looked away. He probably doesn’t even remember that but I’m still cringing so hard.

Don’t put up with too many personal questions

I used to work at an office that won the prestigious Law Firm Of The Year Award. So you would think it’s a great place to work, right? Wrong! During my interview at that delightful office back in 2003, I was asked way too many personal questions. Do I smoke? Because he doesn’t employ smokers. Do I live with my parents? I did at that point. Good, he liked that. Do I have any ambitions? Because he doesn’t hire people who aren’t ambitious. Do I have a boyfriend? I did. What does he do for a living? What do my parents do for a living? What do my siblings do for a living? STOP! That should have been a red flag right there and I ignored it. If people do this at your interview, they will continue to do it while you’re working there and unless you like people watching your every damn move, it’s not going to go well. I left four years down the line because when I had a UTI, he started making a note of how many times I visited the toilet and for how long and criticised my mannerisms when I eat, amongst other things. Don’t be afraid to walk out of an interview if this happens.

job interview what not to do

Don’t get honesty tourettes

While it’s never a good idea to lie during an interview, there is such a thing as too much truth. I have this strange condition which I like to call Honesty Tourettes. Sometimes I say something thinking it’ll be acceptable and only realise when I see the look of horror on someone else’s face that I thought wrong. Like the time that I went to a Family Law firm in South Ayrshire for an interview and the woman asked me about my hobbies. I proceeded to tell her all about my creative writing and how I used to staple little sheets of paper together with Care Bear stationery when I was 7. I then went on to tell her about a minor car accident that had been my wake up call and I had to start dedicating my life to writing. I might as well have told her my dog sings Bohemian Rhapsody because she looked at me like I was that weird. Nobody else would have this problem because they’d just say they like cake decorating or something like that.

job interview what not to do

Don’t turn up to someone else’s interview

This sounds like a pretty basic thing but seriously, I think I may have done it. I was at an interview in an estate agency firm in Ayr back in 2007. There was something amiss from the start but I couldn’t put my finger on it. There were two interviewers, one male and one female and the female initially called me Carol-Ann. I stumbled my way through correcting her (I think I may even have apologised for her mistake?) and then she nodded, checked her notes and started the interview. She didn’t seem to know any of my work history, despite having my CV in front of her and calling me in for a meeting. Half way through, the male interviewer came in and shook my hand.

“Nice to meet you Carol-Ann,” he said.

“It’s Sharon, actually.”

“Sorry! Sharon-Ann,” he said.

“No, it’s just Sharon.”

“Well Carol, this job was actually for a junior position and you look a bit older but for the right person, who knows!”

It was then I started to think there may have been a mistake somewhere down the line and I had been called for someone else’s interview but I just carried on and when they were finished I thanked them for their time and got the hell out of there. I sometimes think about Carol-Ann and wonder if she got the job. And what her first day was like.

Do you have any disastrous job interview stories? Share them below!

Selling Your Sole – The Truth About Selling Shoes To Fetishists

First off, a disclaimer of sorts. I am a grown woman who knew exactly what I was doing. I knew no woman in her right mind would buy a trashed shoe on eBay and there was only one type of person who would want them. And I knew what they would be doing with them. So, now, let’s proceed with the story.

My step-son, Kenny, has his own eBay shop. He sells everything, from DVDs to collectable coins and bank notes to…anything really! One time Kenny and his wife told me a story about what happened when they sold a pair of old shoes. They immediately got a message from someone who asked if the shoes smelled. Their reply was something like the shoes were in wearable condition and cleaned to meet eBay regulations. The potential buyer lost interest. He only wanted them if they smelled. We all had a good laugh and that was that.

foot fetish selling shoes online dominatrix

Fast forward to 2017. I am broke. I have no income, raging sciatica and a bag full of pretty shoes I’ll probably never wear again thanks to their skyscraper heels. My Carers Allowance has been withheld for most of 2017 and I only got paid four days before Christmas. I am scared about the future and whether we can continue to make ends meet. I’ve heard plenty of stories about women making money online through selling their trashed shoes (see this article and this forum thread) so I seriously consider jumping on the bandwagon and listing my “well-worn shoes” on eBay, even though none of them have been worn that often (I live in Dr Martens) and I’m pretty sure they smell alright. It’s just an idea until one night I get a message from an account on Twitter with a default profile pic. A man called Chris Smith randomly gets in touch and asks if I will sell him my shoes. He says he’ll pay a lot of money.  I say I’ll think about it.

I asked myself a lot of questions. How will the money be exchanged? How much can I make? Does the buyer get my address? How will my husband feel about it? What if this person is involved in a violent crime and leaves my shoes and DNA at the scene? Ok, so maybe it’s just me who thinks along those lines but it’s a valid question nevertheless. The most important question is, how will I feel about myself if I do this? I’m pretty open-minded. I don’t judge other people’s sexual preferences but I did once make one of my characters obsessed with feet because I wanted to make him less sexy in my head. It worked.

I needed answers to my questions, so I talked it over with my husband. Then I investigated Chris online, my potential buyer, and saw that he had been making payments to a dominatrix on Twitter and all he wanted in return for these payments was to be told how pathetic he was. I’m sitting there gobsmacked as I read through her Twitter feed. Surely this stuff only happens in bad 1980s pornos? Well, apparently not. It happens on Twitter in 2018 and is there for all the world to see.

I told Chris I would sell him the manky old slippers I was about to throw away. I’d decided £50 was fine. All he had to do was send me the money and his address and I’d post them out, in a zip-lock bag to retain any scent, even though they don’t actually smell too bad. He vanished from Twitter, having been reported by someone. Neither I, nor the dominatrix, were impressed. Since my private sale had fallen through, I took the idea to eBay instead.

foot fetish selling shoes online dominatrix

This is where it gets both amusing and disgusting. My own opinion varies depending on what mood I’m in. I listed slippers, boots and stilettos. And just for a laugh, a pair of manky old tights with several snags in the legs. I wanted to see what I could get away with. Within a few minutes, my views for each item were into double figures. Within an hour, my inbox was full of messages to answer. The watch count for them was rising. I was satisfied that this was going to be profitable and got to work on answering the messages.

Now, the description for each item, after describing the size, colour, type etc, went something like, “well-worn, will be cleaned to meet eBay regulations before sending, any questions please ask.” So there wasn’t really a lot to ask me, you’d think. Except, they always found yet another question, yet another way of continuing the dialogue. And when they’d asked everything they could about the product, they either started chatting and trying to get to know me or they started the dirty talk – which obviously earned them a deaf ear.

One chap gave me his email address. He asked me if the boots would be cleaned before sending. Sensing he didn’t want them cleaned, I said that was up to him. His response was, “I’d love to be told to do that myself.” I passed my phone to my husband and asked him how I should respond. I’ve never seen Alex make the face he did then, which was somewhere between a cringe and a giggle. He didn’t give me any guidance on the matter so my response was, “Well, make sure you’re the highest bidder or I won’t be telling you to do anything.” He wasn’t, by the way. He didn’t bid at all.

I was inundated with requests for pictures of my feet which I declined. I was asked if I would be selling panties or socks or stockings. And then one man actually pushed me over the edge. It was then that I decided this wasn’t a laugh any more and I was getting seriously pissed off.

Buyer: Do you do anything with them before selling?

Me: They’ll be cleaned to meet eBay’s regulations before selling as stated in the description.

Buyer: Do you do anything else with them?

Me: I’ll place them in a zip-lock bag to prevent damage in transit.

Buyer: Anything else?

Me: Well, what do you want me to do with them?

Buyer: I want you to make them wet.

Me: *sits there, for a moment naively thinking that if I wash them they’ll get wet, but that means they’ll be heavier and I’ll have to bump up the postage before sending – then realise that he means he wants them smeared in vaginal fluids*

Me: You’ll have to do that yourself.

So, contrary to what you read in the press, this is basically what happens when you try to sell shoes online. Despite receiving lots of small bids, I was unlikely to make more than a tenner on anything so I removed all but a pair of Dr Marten heels before the end of the auction. I let them run until the end and sold them to a very formal and appropriate man in Ipswich who described them in his positive feedback as a “lovely purchase.” To make more than a few quid, I suspect I would have had to court the fetishists and lead them on. There would have to be pictures of feet exchanged, engagement in dirty talk and bodily fluids smeared on the shoes.

foot fetish selling shoes online dominatrix

My own experience makes me question the validity of the stories I’ve read online, apparently written by women who have sold their own shoes and made a good living doing it, or at least enough pocket money to make it worthwhile. I don’t think they’re true. Either that, or they’ve got some really sexy bunions going on. I did have a brief but pleasant exchange of messages with a man who was interested in buying tights. When I removed them he was disappointed and I explained my reasons for backing out. He admitted that not a lot of women sell their shoes online so when a new seller comes on the scene, men all want to get to know them. He then explained that most of these men aren’t willing to pay much and are more interested in trying to get the women to talk dirty.

So, for anyone who is broke and thinking of selling their shoes, by all means go ahead, but be aware that you will not be making that much money and you’re expected to do a lot to earn it, perhaps more than you’re willing to do. It sounds like money for old rope and the women who write about it online will have you believe that it’s easy cash, but, in short, they’re lying.

The 10-A-Day For A Month Challenge: The Outcome

Back in August of this year, I undertook a challenge to eat 10 portions of fruits or vegetables a day for a month. I did promise back then that I would update you all on how it went. So, here’s what I discovered happening to me and my body following that challenge to eat more fruits and vegetables. The results were surprising!

The first thing I noticed was an emotional shift. I didn’t cut anything out at all. I simply added more nutrients and raw fruits and vegetables. For the first two or three days, I was feeling this kind of rage that I haven’t experienced in a long time. It was like the worst PMT of my life. I also suffered some blinding headaches. I must stress again that I cut nothing out. I don’t drink any caffeinated drinks anyway, so that made no difference. I only added to my diet. FYI, I usually eat between 2-7 portions a day. Most days it’s on the lower end of the scale, but there are days when it’s higher.

10 a day fruit and vegetables

The next thing I noticed was around day four or five. My eczema, which has been well under control for the last five years, returned with fury. You could say this was a total coincidence, but it went away again when I went back to a normal diet and hasn’t returned.

Around day seven, my physiotherapist remarked that I looked like I had lost weight. My husband made a similar comment. I was delighted. So, I weighed myself but to my absolute horror, I had gained three pounds (which I am still trying to lose again). I measured myself with a tape measure and found that my waistline had decreased by around an inch, yet my weight had gone up. I can’t explain that one.

5 a day orange juice 10 a day fruits vegetables

By the end of the second week, I had death breath, terrible indigestion and was very irritable. I couldn’t sleep for a full night. My sciatica was causing me more and more problems and I was suffering from terrible leg cramps. My depression was worsening and I was tearful. In fact, every time I drank a green smoothie (two handfuls of spinach, a whole peach, half a can of mandarins and three tablespoons of fat free natural Greek yogurt) I felt very nauseous. Could there be such a thing as too much nutrition?

I returned my diet to normal early. I couldn’t last the whole month. I did find myself naturally turning away from refined sugars when I was on the challenge and eating less chocolate but I didn’t feel healthier in any way. In fact, I felt pretty grouchy. And the death breath was just gross. I’d like to know if I had continued would these mood swings have gone away but when it was affecting my emotional health in such a way, I didn’t really want to take the risk of finding out.

soup vegetables 10 a day

So, my conclusion after this experience is that yes, there is such a thing as too much nutrition. Everybody’s body is different. Those who say you should up your fruit and vegetable intake and cut out refined sugar are not living in your body. They don’t have your metabolism. They have a different lifestyle and motivation and I believe moderation in everything is the healthiest way to live. I know this is a controversial viewpoint as many people who read this post will be devoted to a healthy lifestyle and it’s quite trendy these days to shun sugar in favour of raw foods. But here’s the thing. The most toxic thing for your health isn’t sugar, it’s sadness. And if eating all that fruit and veg is going to make me feel sad, I’d really rather not. What are your own thoughts on this?

hot chocolate

Nude Jewellery – It’s All You Need To Wear

Jewellery can be very powerful. It makes a statement about who you are, who you love and how you want others to see you. It makes sense to take care when choosing a piece for yourself or someone else since they will potentially wear it more often than they wear any item of clothing. That’s why it’s surprising to think that something that is basically an extension of ourselves and our personalities is so often made in bulk and sold in chain stores.

nude jewellery bespoke custom made engagement rings wedding

That’s why when I found Nude Jewellery I knew I had to reach out and request to work with them. Established in 2001, they are a London-based independent jewellers who specialise in unique, quirky, contemporary jewellery and craft their products from high-quality materials. I received a gratuity from them but all opinions are my own (come on, you know nobody tells me what to write!) and I received no monetary compensation for this post.

What really appeals to me about Nude Jewellery is that it’s all handcrafted. The independent designers within the business have their own unique style and this shows in the variety of products they produce. They offer both ready-to-wear products and a bespoke design service, which I’ll talk about in a bit more detail later. Obviously since I’m in the Glasgow area it’s difficult for me to get down to their boutique so I’ve had to form an opinion based on their website, the product I’ve tried and my interactions with owner, Nikki Galloway.

nude jewellery bespoke custom made engagement rings wedding

The range they offer is wide and includes, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, cufflinks, rings and ankle chains. You can choose from products crafted in silver, platinum and gold, including yellow, white and rose varieties. Their engagement ring section had me gazing at the screen with heart-eyes. Here, there’s a stunning range of different styles and materials, so whatever your taste is, you will find something that will fit. I liked the fact that there were so many unusual designs, displayed side-by-side with the more classic styles. The gemstones were varied too. The chocolate diamonds and pink sapphires are my new favourite things. Sadly, I’ve never owned either of these so perhaps next birthday I’ll ask for something with a chocolate diamond!

I was immediately drawn to the bespoke engagement ring service. I really believe that every engagement ring should be especially made for the bride-to-be. Our relationships with our future husbands are unique and personal, so shouldn’t the jewellery that tells the world we love them be the same? It doesn’t matter that I’ve been married for nearly thirteen years. I still love looking at rings and for me, the edgier they are the better. As someone who owns a quirky, unique engagement ring (although not from Nude Jewellery) I can tell you that it’s totally worth choosing something that isn’t the norm. People’s reactions when they see your choice are priceless. Of course, a traditional sparkling solitaire is gorgeous and elegant but I like something with individuality. These items are going to elicit an emotional response every time you look at them, so you have to be sure that you’ve got it right and you are investing in something of quality that you’re going to always love. And let’s be honest. Engagement rings aren’t cheap. You can’t risk wasting money on something you’re lukewarm about. The best way to ensure that you’ll always love it is to design your own ring. The best thing about this is, they can also do custom made wedding bands to fit the engagement ring. If you’re looking for a unique, designer, handmade engagement ring, but having a bespoke product isn’t a big deal for you, they have plenty to choose from in a ready to wear range too.

If I was choosing a bespoke jewellery designer in the UK, I think Nude Jewellery would be my first port of call. The owner, Nikki Galloway is an award-winning jeweller with several exclusive jewellery ranges under her belt. She has designed for red carpet events and the Sultan of Brunei. If you choose Nude Jewellery, you’re dealing with a glamorous boutique firm who I can confirm from my dealings with them aren’t at all stuffy. Nikki was approachable and unreserved.

nude jewellery bespoke custom made engagement rings wedding

Now, I want to talk about the vintage-inspired item I’m reviewing. It’s a small Art Deco style silver pendant. To me, Art Deco is synonymous with the classy, confident, forward-thinking flappers of the 1920s and the geometric styles really appeal to me. It’s a style that will always look elegant and since the 2020s are just around the corner, I’m feeling inspired to add lots of Art Deco pieces to my wardrobe and jewellery box.

nude jewellery bespoke custom made engagement rings wedding

The necklace arrived in a gorgeous silver box, tied with a grey satin ribbon. There was a “Nude” brand charm attached, which I thought was a really elegant way to brand the package. Inside, under some protective white tissue paper, the pendant was housed in a black and silver box with the Nude logo on the lid. The chain is 16″ long because I’m quite petite and can’t carry off a longer chain than that but there’s also an 18″ chain available. The chain itself is sturdy and as with all Nude Jewellery products, the timeless Art Deco pendant is handcrafted.

I completely fell in love with this pendant. For a long time I’ve been wearing costume jewellery and now that I’m going for a change in style and trying to step up the quality of the products I wear, this is going to become one of my staple items. I like that it could easily be worn everyday with jeans and not look out of place but it can also finish off a party outfit, especially at this time of year when a bit of sparkle is required! The chain was comfortable, the pendant didn’t feel heavy at all and I got lots of compliments when I started wearing it. It must be eye-catching!

nude jewellery bespoke custom made engagement rings wedding


If you would like to check out this pendant or find out more about Nude Jewellery, you can visit their website or check them out on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Chocolate Free In 2018!

One of the things on my 40 Before 40 List is doing a chocolate fast for charity. I think it’s about time I stop talking about it and just do it. That’s why I am giving up chocolate in 2018 for the National Autistic Society.

It’s been two years now since my gorgeous wee boy Luke was diagnosed with autism. It’s been full of ups and downs but ultimately the diagnosis has been a positive step and has helped us to move forward, get some much needed support and to plan for our future.

leadhills railway glengonnar review

The National Autistic Society have been an invaluable source of support for us. Because of their advice we’re financially better off and their support gave us the strength to fight to have Luke placed in a special unit within a mainstream school that specialises in educating children with communication difficulties, where he is thriving. I want to give something back to say thank you for their help. So, I am doing a chocolate fast during 2018!
Anyone who knows me knows what a sugar addict I am so this will be a real challenge. I spend roughly £100 a month on chocolate and chocolate flavoured products. I am hoping to raise £1 per day during the year. Luke is going to be a great source of support in this challenge as he HATES chocolate and will help me stay on the wagon.
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.
hot chocolate
I am pinching the golden ticket idea from the Go Sober For October campaign and each time someone donates £15 or more, I can have a cheat day or “golden ticket day.” If I don’t get enough £15 donations in time, I don’t get the cheat day.
14 February, 21 February, 11 March, 30 March, 1 April, 23 May, 11 June, 25 July, 26 July, 31 October, 30 November, 24 December, 25 December, 26 December, 31 December.
If you would like to read more about my fundraising or make a donation you can do so by visiting my Just Giving Page.

Six Years As An Indie Author And Still Learning

I’ve been doing this for a while now. I’ve been writing since 2002, making money from it since 2004, blogging since 2005 and self-publishing since 2011. It was 30th November 2011 that I hit publish on The Tangled Web and I knew as I clicked that button that my life would never be the same. I like to reflect every year on St. Andrews Day and since I’ve been tidying up my blogging presence and moving old posts over to RockPaperSpirit, I thought I’d share a paragraph from one I’ve now deleted. It’s from Hogmanay 2011 and I was proudly listing all I had achieved in my first month as an indie author. It makes amusing reading for me now.

tangled web lacey dearie

“In four weeks, as Lacey Dearie, I’ve had viewers from 14 countries, (Russia bizarrely being the biggest viewer!), 359 total viewers (all genuine, none of them were me) and I’ve now got 384 Twitter followers.  I’ve sold 16 books (ok, one was me) and received five 5* reviews on Amazon.”

I dreamed of number 1 chart positions, lengthy portfolios, connecting with readers and writers from all over the world, doing radio interviews and book signings, quitting the day job and telling people my occupation is “writer.” It all happened. Not quite as I had imagined, not always with me smiling as I ticked off those achievements and quite often with a few tears, but it happened. I believed it would and I made my dreams come true.

lacey dearie tangled web

This year has been one of my most difficult. Sales have been poor, I’ve been writing under a new pseudonym just for my own amusement and I’ve been doing  a lot of soul searching, wondering if I have a future as Lacey. The answer is yes. I can’t see my future as anyone else now and in the next year, I plan to just keep going. It doesn’t matter what I achieve or whether the work I do is successful or fails. I just plan to keep moving forward.

As an old hand at this now, if someone asks me about being an indie author, my one piece of advice is keep going. That’s the difference between those of us who become established and those who just float around. Notice I’m not saying anything about success or wealth, because both those things have eluded me! But yeah, keep going. Build a reputation, write lots, talk to everyone and take the rough with the smooth. Because there will be bad days. So many bad days, so many disappointments and so many critics and doubters. But keep going.

World’s Top 50 Best Beaches 2017 – Is Your Favourite Here?

It’s a long time since I’ve travel blogged and it all feels like unfamiliar territory to me at the moment but thankfully, the blogging community is welcoming and there’s room for everyone to dip into a different niche whenever they’re ready. Recently, I was approached by Flight Network and asked to be part of their judging panel for a campaign they’re running about the World’s 50 Best Beaches.

world's 50 best beaches palm trees fantasy beach

I was asked to contribute three of my favourites and it really got me thinking. Which beaches do I consider the best in the world? More importantly, why do I consider them the best? It’s all very subjective, and what one person considers special will not necessarily float anyone else’s boat. That’s why it’s always good to check lists like these and see what those who love to travel have said. You can’t always rely on guide books like Lonely Planet as they won’t be written with YOU in mind. For example, someone might say Bora Bora has the world’s best beach, but they’re a brave, single, student with no ties and the world at their feet. If you’re a mother who is always broke, are a full-time carer to an autistic child, in Scotland and two thirds of your family are allergic to everything, this beach is not only out of your reach, it’s depressing to think about because I know I’ll never get there.

world's 50 best beaches palm trees fantasy beach bora bora

Unfortunately, none of my contributions made the top 50 list. If you’d like to see what did make the top 50 for 2017, you can click this link and find out! There were quite a few surprises on there. However, if you’d like to know what I personally consider to be the three areas with the best beaches in the world, read on.

Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Secluded, wild and pristine powder-white sands. On a summer’s day this is idyllic. In winter, it’s dramatic and breathtaking. The best thing about this beach? It’s in my home country and is just a couple of trains and a ferry away.

vatersay world's 50 best beaches palm trees fantasy beach

Petra tou Romiou, Paphos, Cyprus

I love this beach so much, it a picture of it made it to the cover of my debut novel and part of the book was set there. This is a shingle beach, and not the most comfortable for walking or sunbathing, but the legend surrounding it more than makes up for that. The fabled birthplace of the Goddess Aphrodite has year-round sunshine, crystal-clear water and if you swim around the rock three times, you will apparently meet the love of your life soon after.


It’s been a long time since I visited this beach but it’s one that stuck in my mind because it ticked all the boxes. Beautiful golden sand, aquamarine water, a gorgeous climate and glamorous sunbathers. If I’d been single I might have mentioned the lifeguards… I’ll leave that to your imagination though.

sardinia world's 50 best beaches palm trees fantasy beach

A full list of the judging panel is available here. What are your favourite beaches?

Why I Took A Blogging Class After Blogging For 12 Years

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the last eighteen months is that there are so many different types of writer. It’s fine to say to people, “I’m a writer,” but it’s such a blanket term that covers many different styles. It’s difficult to give people an accurate idea of what it is I do just with that statement. That’s one of the reasons why I looked into taking a course in blogging for business, even though I’ve been writing a blog for twelve years.

office job

So, to clarify, I am a creative writer by trade. That’s my job. If you want to niche down even further, I write mystery novellas about cat detectives. I earn money doing this and I use that money to pay bills and buy food, so I am definitely a writer. That’s why I thought I would have no problems writing essays or blogs. So, why wasn’t I getting top marks in my university course or engaging readers online? I already knew I could do journalistic writing because that’s where I started back in the early noughties, but academic writing was a completely different ball game. I had to learn a new style and adhere to rules – something I don’t have to do as a creative writer (much). A chat with my tutor about the differences in styles led to my light bulb moment.

Blogging is not creative writing.

After a few months thinking this over, I started working with Sami, the editor of OxGadgets, and he has been like a mentor over the last few months. I learned more about blogging from him in the first few weeks of freelancing for the site than I had in the whole eleven years when I had been self-taught. I knew then that I had to go back to basics and learn how to blog.

I sought help from my local Business Gateway, who pointed me in the direction of some of their courses. There are so many to choose from and because they’re free, there really is no reason not to sign up for one – although, the hermit in me was ready to stay home and write about cats this morning. It would have been so easy to do that but I’ve decided to commit to at least half a day of training per month in 2018 and it’s not too early to start that habit.

The course was run by Thea Newcomb of Thea’s Things and So You’ve Been Dumped. She managed to cover a lot of information over the morning. It was highly interactive and really relaxed. Although there was no pressure to contribute our thoughts, she did encourage us to all participate and get chatting and by doing so, all those who attended were able to get an idea of each other’s business and goals. I even saw a couple of ladies swapping cards at the end of the course and I think they’re planning to collaborate.

It started with a short video clip explaining some of the basics of blog layouts and as the morning progressed, it covered ascertaining your blogging goals, brainstorming post ideas and how to use tools like Yoast and Google Trends. Thea discussed some of the reasons why certain posts are popular and how to target our demographic.

As with any course, there were parts that were relevant to me and parts that weren’t but I was able to walk away feeling positive and pensive. As a habitual planner and list-maker, there are plenty of ways I can put my compulsive organisational skills to use in my blogging. And having listened to some of the discussions at the course this morning, it certainly confirmed to me that it’s not enough to be a creative, imaginative writer when you embark on a blogging career. You also have to anticipate what others want and monitor trends so you can stay relevant. That’s why I’m going to continue learning about blogging and attending these courses. If you’re like me and have sold plenty of books but struggled to make a splash in the blogosphere, perhaps it’s something you should try too!


autumn schedule mug diary

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about blogging?

NaNoWriMo 2017 Is Almost Here!

Yes, it’s that time again. It’s time to torture myself by trying to write a 50K word novel in 30 days. I’ve participated 7 times, won 3 and lost 4. I haven’t achieved this goal since 2014. Surely this has to be my year?

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it takes place each November when hundreds of thousands of writers attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. If that sounds like a tall order, it can be – if you don’t stick to the word count of 1,666 per day. The whole idea is just to get the words down, without editing or overthinking. Just write!

Given that I have more on my plate than ever before, this could be a real challenge for me, but think of how sweet that challenge will be to conquer. It’s going to be awesome. I work well under pressure anyway. So, here is my official NaNoWriMo 2017 announcement:

This year, I am writing a novel called Silent Disco. It’s a magical realism novel and I have literally no plan. I’m “pantsing it” in 2017. All I have is the title, an idea and the following blurb…

“Somewhere in the backstreets of Aberdeen, there is a shoe shop full of patient Cinderellas, waiting for their fairy godmother to turn up and magically transform their everyday lives into their dreams come true. Unbeknown to them, the fairy godmother is an unemployed gambling addict whose infatuation with the shop’s cleaner causes him to place a bet that changes everything.”

I’ll keep you all updated here on RockPaperSpirit and on Twitter. Good luck to all those entering and please, add me as a friend on the NaNoWriMo site by clicking this link.