My Week In Freelancing 17-07-17 to 23-07-17

Being a freelancer provides a lot of flexibility and it means I can adapt when life changes very quickly. This hasn’t been the week I thought it would be and despite working my tail off for most of it, I have only two freelance articles to show for it. However, they discuss some very cool devices over on OxGadgets.

Dell 24 Monitor S2418H Review This is the most impressive monitor I’ve ever used. Not that I am an expert in monitors, but yeah, it was awesome.

dell 24 monitor s2418h oxgadgets review

Review of Cinematic Wearable Avegant Glyph It’s probably the most futuristic thing I’ve had the opportunity to use. Out of my price range sadly, but if I ever came into a lot of money then yes, this would be on the shopping list.

avegant glyph review oxgadgets

That’s it for this week. Hope you all have a productive week ahead and hopefully I’ll have more to share next Sunday.

How To Survive Your First Year As A Mature Student

This week I received some good news. I passed my first year of university! It’s been full of ups and downs. Well, mostly downs if I’m honest. I’m just glad that the first year is over. I’m not allowed to share my exact mark but I was one point away from getting a distinction. Maybe next year I’ll get one.

I enrolled with the Open University last June for numerous reasons. Firstly, I wanted to learn. That’s a pretty good place to start, right? Secondly, I wanted to meet new people and I certainly have. I’m not sure I’ve formed any meaningful connections but studying has definitely thrown me into the path of people I would not otherwise have encountered.

studying mature students

I have to admit, this course wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to study at City of Glasgow College. There was an HNC in Professional Writing Skills that I fancied but I didn’t even get to the interview stage. My application was rejected on the basis that the course was full, even though I applied as soon as applications opened. But, I had no SQA Highers so I think that affected my chances. That’s a real shame since I actually hold two paralegal diplomas that have the same SCQF rating as an honours degree and a few years ago, I was planning on heading down the law degree path, but they weren’t really interested in that. They wanted Highers. Nothing more, nothing less and my life experience and other qualifications didn’t cut it. So, I was feeling dejected about that and on a whim, I applied for a place on the BA Arts & Humanities course, fully intending to study both creative writing and religions, but I’ve become more flexible about that intended path.

University level study has not been the impossible-to-scale mountain I thought it would be. It’s actually been alright. I have plenty of support and my tutor has been amazing. So, I wanted to put together a short list of pointers for other mature students, a kind of “How To Survive Your First Year As A Mature Student” list. Here goes.

mature student

  1. Believe you deserve to be there. One thing I suffer from on a massive scale is Impostor Syndrome. No matter how well I do at anything, how high my IQ might be, how hard I’ve worked or how old I get, I still look in the mirror and see the 16 year old whose application to do an NC in hairdressing got rejected back in 1996, on the grounds that she just wasn’t right for the course. Do you know anyone else who has ever been rejected for hairdressing? It could only happen to me. You deserve the chance to prove yourself, to make your life better and to learn. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise, especially your own negative self-talk.
  2. Remember why you’re doing it. Always think about your “why” when things get tough. That’s not to say that they will get tough, but we all have bad days and there are more of them for us mature students. There will be times when you’re too tired to study. There will be times when adult life gets in the way. There will be times when you get distracted. Just remember your “why” whatever that might be.
  3. Don’t be put off by the know-it-alls. You’ll encounter other students, young and old, who act like they’re too smart to even be there and should be lecturing rather than learning. Screw ’em. No other advice for dealing with those types. Plus, they’re probably not getting better grades than anyone else on the course. It’s the quiet ones at the back who just listen and observe who are probably doing best.
  4. Don’t be afraid to be teacher’s pet. Ask all the questions you can, bug your tutor. My tutor gave me her mobile number and email address at the start of the year and told me not to be afraid to use it, but I didn’t until three months in and I wish I had just connected with her sooner. She’s a human being with a life of her own, so she understands how hard it is to find focus and fit it all in. Plus, he/she’s being paid a shit-load of money to educate you and guide you. Take their hand, follow their advice and let them teach. One of my proudest moments in the last year was the email my tutor sent me at the end of the module to tell me how hard I’ve worked and how far I’ve come. She was proud and I was proud. It was just a lovely moment all round.
  5. Keep perspective. It’s just academia. You can still make a difference in the world without it. Yes, there are some jobs that require a particular certificate. There are far more that don’t.

studying

If you’ve ever been a mature student, what advice would you give to anyone just starting out in their studies as an adult?

Meet The Designer: Cherry Hurren of Cherry Lingerie London

A few years ago I used to run a beauty and lingerie blog called Making It Up As I Go Along. It was so much fun to try out different garments and I loved the brands I reviewed but there wasn’t a lot of heart in it when you’re just trying on another generic bra from Ann Summers that’s pink this time instead of black. That’s why when I started RockPaperSpirit I chose to seek out niche brands and handmade garments, so today I am absolutely thrilled to feature Cherry Lingerie London! And even more exciting than that, this isn’t just a feature, I also managed to bag a short interview with label owner Cherry Hurren and review one of their lingerie sets, but that’s coming next week. Read on to find out more.
cherry lingerie london logo
Cherry Lingerie London was founded by Cherry Hurren, a former interior display designer at Harvey Nichols  and events administrator at the Victoria & Albert Museum. She has a unique creative talent and an eye for fun, quirky designs. The items range from elegant and luxurious to quirky and fun but all are designed with fashion-rebellious women in mind. In the online shop you’ll find lingerie, nightwear & swimwear and all the items are designed and crafted from her Brighton studio using materials sourced from across London which makes all the items truly unique.
cherry hurren cherry lingerie london
The Sheer Kawaii Collection is the one I’m featuring today. Inspired by the Kawaii style, it features fun imagery including lipsticks, hamburgers, kittens and aliens. There are 19 looks in this funky collection including soft bras, sheer crop tops, knickers, dressing gowns, suspender belts and stockings. I think the dressing gowns are my favourites! All of the pieces are made out of either sheer see-through mesh fabric, lace and silk. The collection was photographed by Chloe Alice Hayes, with 22 year old Jessica North Lewis modelling. The location was Clapton Tram East London.
cherry lingerie london
Hi Cherry, thanks for agreeing to answer some questions. Firstly, how long does each collection take to get onto the market, from the initial design stages to the finished product being uploaded onto your website or sold in person? 
It takes me about six months to one year, from the initial ideas stage to a finished product available to buy. I start with my sketchbooks I create fashion lingerie illustrations inspired by trends. I then go on to choose the fabrics and trimmings I will use to make each design. Once I have the design and materials, I make up one sample of each design. Plan a photoshoot with a model, photographer and location. Once I have the photos then I will upload to my website.
cherry lingerie london
What is your favourite piece in the Sheer Kawaii collection? 
In the Sheer Kawaii collection my favourite pieces are the Leiko Lipsticks bra, knickers. dressing gown, stockings and suspender belt. The set is playful and pretty.
cherry lingerie london
If you weren’t designing lingerie, do you think you would still work in the lingerie industry in some way? 
If I was not working with lingerie I think I would be doing something else that allows me to be creative and self employed. Prior to setting up my lingerie business, I worked in events and admin at the V&A and before that I worked as a freelance interior display designer for Harvey Nichols. I have always been keen on illustration so another thing I might of ended up doing would be my own illustrations on products. I currently use my illustrations on my packaging for the lingerie, such as the swing tags and greeting cards.
cherry lingerie london
Lastly, do you think having good quality lingerie under your clothes can have an real effect on a woman’s confidence?
Yes definitely, the lingerie should be just as important as the outfit. Or if you are feeling adventurous why not wear your lingerie layered on top of your clothes as outerwear.
cherry lingerie london
cherry lingerie london
If you would like to view the whole Sheer Kawaii range, you can do so on the Cherry Lingerie London website. There’s also swimwear and nightwear as well as other ranges. Next week I’ll be reviewing an item from a different range.
cherry lingerie london
There are lots of different styles to view and buy and personally I love the Romantic Styles Collection which features lots of lace, crushed velvet and some beautiful silky fabrics with floral patterns.

What pieces are your favourites from this collection?

RockPaperSpirit Best Book Cover of 2017 Contest

It’s time to announce the RockPaperSpirit contest for Best Book Cover of 2017. Here at RockPaperSpirit you will find a lot of posts showing love to indie authors and I wanted to find a way to give something back the indie community. I also wanted to do something to help my local food bank. So, I am combining those two missions. Read on to find out more, although I will point out now that this contest is run by me, with no direct connections to a charity.

Best Indie Book Cover of 2017

In this contest there will be a first, second and third place. Then, there will be a short-list of a further ten covers. The prizes are as follows:

FIRST PRIZE

A small engraved trophy for the artist and £30 Amazon gift certificate for the artist, a small engraved quaich for the author and 50 promotional tweets throughout 2018 on my Twitter account (which at time of writing has 26.9K followers). You’ll be featured on this site as the winner and any subsequent releases will automatically be featured too.

SECOND PRIZE

A small trophy for the artist and a £20 Amazon gift certificate for the author. You’ll also get 25 promotional tweets throughout 2018 on my personal Twitter account. You’ll be featured on the site as first runner-up and any subsequent releases will be featured too.

THIRD PRIZE

No trophy, but the artist and author each get a £10 Amazon gift certificate and the book receives 10 promotional tweets throughout 2018 on my personal Twitter account. You’ll be featured on the site as second runner-up.

SHORT LIST

If you make the short list, of which there will be 10 book covers, you’ll be featured on the site and receive promotion.

All other entrants will have their books mentioned and covers displayed in a special post in December. So everyone who enters gets some kind of benefit.

To enter the contest, simply email the book cover, links to where the book can be purchased and the author’s and artist’s names email addresses to rockpaperspirit@gmail.com It is requested that each entrant pays £5 to enter which can be forwarded by PayPal. This is my preferred method as it is easy to keep track of and it’s easy to refund entries in the event that you withdraw for any reason. This entry fee covers the cost of the prizes and any residue will be split 50/50 with one half donated to an autism charity and the other half used to purchase dried foods which will be donated to my local food bank in time for Christmas. I’ll even Periscope it to prove I’ve done it!

LEGAL DISCLAIMER

Anyone can enter this contest, so long as you have an independently published book that’s been published between 1st December 2016 and 30th November 2017. By independent I mean that your book is all your own work and you published it yourself. It doesn’t have to be successful or even sell any copies, so long as it is available to buy. Those who are signed to a small press publisher will not be considered for this contest. The contest closes at midnight on 30th November 2017 UK time and the winner will be announced on 6th December 2017. There are no geographical restrictions on who can enter. If you are both author and artist, that’s fine too. You’ll get both prizes. The contest will be judged by a panel of creative industries professionals, ie Lacey Dearie (author), Michael McGee (graphic designer), L K Jay (author), Ronnie McGhie (broadcaster/actor), Ryan McBride (musician) and Simon Turner (animator). Duplicate entries are not allowed in that you cannot enter the same cover twice but can enter multiple covers by the same author. If you enter your own book then someone else enters your book, I will refund the artist’s entry first then the author’s entry. If yet another person enters your book, the latest entry will be refunded. You can enter a cover that is not yours by nominating a cover you really like but if the cover wins, the author and artist receive the prize, not the entrant. In the event that you win a prize, you will be emailed before it is announced to the public. In the event that I, as site owner am ill or unable to announce the winner due to technical issues, I will endeavour to have one of the panel contact you by email. In the event that we receive less than thirteen entries, the monetary prizes will be donated by RockPaperSpirit’s editor but no charity donation can be made. The non-monetary prizes will remain the same.

My Week In Freelancing: 10-07-17 to 16-07-17

This week has been a busy one. I’ve been working hard on RockPaperSpirit and have scheduled loads of posts. I’ve also had my head down, working hard on the fiction side of things, getting the next Leger book ready, as well as the final fairy tale in my trilogy. So, there hasn’t been much freelancing time but I’ve managed to squeeze in a few posts for OxGadgets, mostly reviews!

iStorage diskAshur 2 Portable Hard Drive Review This is a review for a military grade encryption portable hard drive. Lovely and really useful if you have lots of confidential data to store.

Oxgadgets review istorage diskashure2

iMoov Ultimate Ultraportable Device Review It’s basically a portable desk with a Bluetooth keyboard and a smart case. Loved it.

imoov portable desk bluetooth keyboard oxgadgets review

LG Q6 Brings Premium Features At A Mid-Range Price What it says on the tin. This is pretty fancy for the price.

lg q6 series oxgadgets

Mio MiVue C330 Dashcam Review Nifty little dashcam that I was lucky enough to get the chance to test. Read what I thought of it here.

c330 mivue mio dashcam review

Dell Latitude 5289 2-in-1 Notebook and Tablet Review Lovely little notebook that transforms into a tablet easily. I wrote my thoughts on this computer.

dell latitude 5289 2-in-1 review

That’s been it for this week but next week there will be an e-book release and some perfume reviews as well as more OxGadgets articles. I’m trying to secure some promo spots for the latest Leger book too, so if you can help with that, please get in touch on info@laceydearie.com

Tinder For Friends? My Experience With Hey Vina

I have an embarrassing confession to make. I don’t have a lot of female friends. I used to have male friends but over the last few years, both the male and female have left my life, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it was a difference in lifestyle that changed the dynamic of the friendship. With others they behaved inappropriately once social networking became an everyday part of life and put you in the path of people you wouldn’t normally associate with (I’m looking at you, partner of my sister’s best friend who thought it was acceptable to send suggestive comments to my inbox). Sometimes, the friendship just fizzled out because we were different types of people. So, during a recent conversation with someone it occurred to me that perhaps part of the reason why I’m struggling in my everyday life is that I don’t have the right support network. I can’t just magic one up out of thin air, but I can build a new one.

best friends

I started thinking of ways I could do this. I said to myself, there should be a Tinder for making a new best friend. I haven’t had a female bestie since 2003. That’s a long time without girly in-jokes, secrets whispered over lunches and sometimes just watching a movie together, the occasional nonsensical comment being thrown in while we enjoy each other’s company. It’s actually a very long time.

best friends

My last female bestie was named Dawn. We were probably quite an odd pairing to look at, Dawn having a kind of Xena Warrior Princess appearance, but with freckles, and me looking more like a really short Nana Mouskouri at that time. Her passions were kind of similar to mine. We liked rock music and motor racing, but whereas she was nuts about Smashing Pumpkins and thought Billy Corgan was an actual God, I was leaning toward pop punk and Britpop, favouring Dexter Holland and Jarvis Cocker’s quirkiness. We managed to watch Formula 1 together without arguing, something I’ve never achieved with a male friend, accepting that we both wanted David Coulthard to win but I’d be happy for her if Jacques Villeneuve got on the podium and she’d be willing to accept a Giancarlo Fisichella podium place if it made me smile.

formula 1

It wasn’t always an easy friendship but when we fought, we usually made up by eating Quality Street and heading to Global Video to choose a film to watch together. When my husband arrived on the scene though, she became quite paranoid that I was going to ditch her. I had no intention of doing so. I needed a female bestie more than ever because so many exciting things were happening that I wanted to share. First dates, first kisses, first shags. And of course, all the challenges that come with being with an older man meant I needed a listening ear and sound advice. She couldn’t and wouldn’t give me that. She didn’t want to hear anything about my relationship and baulked at the idea of meeting him. She couldn’t be happy for me and actually said the words, “You’ll forget about me, so I need to make a life for myself.” So I was ditched. That stung. I’m not going to lie, it still stings. It all came to a head on my birthday in 2003 when she threw a tantrum because I chose to have dinner with Alex on my birthday. I invited her, but of course she didn’t want to come and play third wheel. So, there was a very big fight and it was over.

I do have female friends. There’s Kim, who is awesome but I don’t see her much because she has her own shit to deal with and still lives the girl-about-town lifestyle. Then there’s Kirsty, who has a son the same age as mine. She actually has three of them and she lives in another town so getting together has been difficult due to geography and family commitments on both our ends. Then there’s Louise who I haven’t seen in almost three years, but she still totally counts as a friend, right? Not to mention the numerous school friends who I still count as friends, even if we haven’t met up in years. Lesley Anne, who is down in Newcastle. Claire, who is now a photographer and lives up in Glasgow. Various autism mums I meet occasionally at National Autistic Society meetings and all the girls I know only online.

l k jay agony aunt webcam modelling

But since Luke was born, making friends has been more difficult. Despite trying my best to fit in at the local mums and toddlers group, I didn’t make any meaningful connections. In fact, most of them walk past me in the street with their noses in the air pretending they don’t know me when I say hello. As for uni, that’s been a bit of a disaster. I only made it out to one tutorial and two days schools this year and the only person I connected with was a much older man called Donald. He is a thoroughly nice bloke though.

That’s why I decided to try Hey Vina. It’s time to get serious about making new friends. The adult world is nothing like childhood when it comes to making friends. It’s far more complex. I need someone who understands my lifestyle. I need a best friend who gets the restrictions that being a tee-total, allergic to everything, pescatarian brings to my social life. I need a best friend who understands that because my life is all about caring for Luke, we have to stick to a very rigid timetable and pre-plan most things in advance. I need a friend who understands depression, anxiety, working in an industry that is still very misunderstood and mostly unheard of in Scotland and most importantly someone who won’t force me to drink alcohol or think I’m weird because I just don’t want to do it.

That’s a tall order, isn’t it? It’s a lot to deal with, even for me, so why should anyone else want to invite that into their life?

 

I read reviews of Hey Vina online and searched for comments about it on Twitter. All positive, so I downloaded the app and made an account. I found myself struggling to create a profile that reflected who I am, so I had two or three attempts at that before I swiped either direction on anyone. I ended up with this:

“Loved up wife – proud autism mummy – cat sleuth writer – blogger of perfume and gadgets (basically a geek who likes to smell nice) – Open Uni creative writing student – F1 fan – Jack Russell enthusiast – mildly obsessed with chocolate – gamer – and I totally believe in magic! 

What’s Your Age? Late 30s

Where Do You Work? Anywhere there’s Wi-Fi

Where Did You Go To School? – The Open University

What’s Your Guilty Pleasure? – If it gives you pleasure and hurts no-one why feel guilty?

What Do You Love Most About Yourself? My resilience? Maybe. Definitely not my decisiveness

How Do You Spend Your Sundays? Watching F1 or blogging”

I joined some groups on the app to reflect not just who I am, but who I think I would connect with best. So, that’s dog owners, women who code, sober sisters, stay at home moms, bloggers and lit lovers. I then trawled through all the “Vinas” available to me, including, bizarrely, a lot of women from New South Wales, Australia! Anyone who was outwith a 50 mile radius was out. Anyone who was under 21 or over 50 was out. Then I rejected everyone who was part of certain groups, for example the jet setters group, the dancing queens group and the party girls group. There’s just no way I would be besties with a globe trotting, cocktail downing, party diva. Maybe ten years ago, but not now. Then I waited…

After five days and I finally got a match! I was so nervous about messaging her, but she seemed really nice. She had just finished her PhD in Russian literature and had no kids. I could see how working so hard at that could restrict her chances for making friends. So, we exchanged messages for a couple of days and then they spaced out to every other day and then she went quiet on me. So, after a week of not hearing from her, I sent a message to ask how she was and what were her plans for the weekend, telling her about mine. And she didn’t reply, so that was that. I scrolled back through our previous exchanges and it occurred to me that we had descended into discussing the weather. It’s no surprise that ended.

 

And then I realised that I hadn’t had any other matches. A month into Hey Vina usage, I had only one match and she was bored with me. I checked my stats and it turns out that eight women had swiped right on me but I had rejected them. So, it seems that jet-setting, party loving women would love to get to know me even if my life is drastically different from theirs. Either that, or there are women in New South Wales looking for a penpal BFF. Or there’s teens out there looking for a mummy figure. Oh well.

It led me to wonder what the real problem is here. Do I shut people out? Am I not giving enough people a chance? Could I be closing the door on a potential friend because I don’t believe that opposites attract, particularly when it comes to friendships? To be honest, yes, I am guilty of doing my own thing too much. I feel comfortable in my own company. I try to give everyone a chance but when someone’s desperate to go for cocktails on a Friday night to wind down from the working week while I’m elbow-deep in blogging and trying to coax Luke through his latest meltdown, I can’t see how that will ever work.

cocktails after work

Hey Vina could potentially be a success for many women, but for me, it just made me feel even worse about myself. I don’t have a flexible lifestyle that allows newcomers in easily and that makes me feel really sad about my present life and my future. It’s also made me more determined to get back out to work in some capacity rather than continuing to work from home, to meet more people, even the wrong ones. It’s never a bad thing to meet new people.

Of course, it’s possible that I’m just not likeable enough and will never find that elusive female bestie that I am seeking. It’s possible that it’s already someone I know and neither of us have realised and it’s even possible that my next best friend will be a man. I’m open to that idea. What I will say is that I am always a believer that the right people come into your life at the right time so all I can do is keep my eyes peeled and my diary open and wait for someone I truly click with to reveal themselves.

And until then, I’ll keep the app on my phone. You never know…

best friends

Meet The Author: Carol Ann Kauffman

Today we return to our Meet the Author posts and today we welcome Ohio based writer, the lovely Carol Ann Kauffman. Back when I was writing my previous blog, I regularly featured Carol and her books and found her to be not only a talented wordsmith but a truly lovely person who became a friend to me and a regular on my site.

carol ann kauffman author ohio

Carol Ann Kauffman has written many books, my favourites being the Cat Collier Mysteries. These books are good old fashioned detective stories in a contemporary setting about a young woman, Mary Catherine Collier, otherwise known as Cat, who sets up her own detective agency, Red Cat Investigations. There’s action, adventure, intrigue and some heart-melting moments with both the love interest of these stories and other characters who make up Cat’s world.

The links to each story are listed below together with a synopsis and I would highly recommend them!

carol ann kauffman cat collier mysteries

Mary Catherine Collier is called to the penthouse apartment of the city’s very rich, most influential lawyer, Detrick Bittmor. He has a very personal assignment for her. It involves a mysterious young man who sits on a park bench every day at noon and stares up at Bittmor’s top floor apartment.

Mary Catherine, or Cat, as she’s better known, has a soft spot for this lawyer with a nasty reputation. There’s something about this old man she likes, and even finds charming.

Detrick Bittmor thinks the young man on the park bench resembles a younger version of himself. He thinks this young man could be his son from an affair he had many years ago with a beautiful New Year lawyer. This man could be his only heir.

And old man Bittmor isn’t getting any younger.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

carol ann kauffman cat collier mysteries

Join Cat Collier from January Black Ice as she starts her own detective agency, Red Cat Investigations, inside the gorgeous old Palazzo Castellano Hotel and solves her first real paid case, the case of Shotzie, the missing French poodle. Just when she feels she is destined to find lost pets and missing luggage for the rest of her life in her beautiful new office, complete with business cards, magazines in the waiting room, and her Red Cat logo painted on the frosted glass door, a lovely, mysterious woman named Ms. White hires her to find out who is stalking her. A dead rat on her car. Being run off the road. A car bombing. Someone wants her frightened or maybe…dead.
The trail of graft and corruption leads Cat into danger as she hides the mystery woman with the old, reclusive lawyer Detrick Bittmor for safe keeping.
Cat’s relationship with the handsome Erick “Carter” Larsen is put in jeopardy when she teams up with Officer Kiernan Scott from the Heaton Valley Police Department to unravel the mystery in February White Lies.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

carol ann kauffman cat collier mysteries

Small-town red-head Cat Collier runs an private investigation service called Red Cat Investigation out of her office in the beautiful Palazzo Castellano with the help of her secretary, Nola White, an ex-client Cat took in because she had nowhere else to go, her boyfriend, Erick “Carter” Larsen, and Carter’s father, the wealthy, influential, and shady lawyer, Detrick Bittmor.

In this third installment of the Cat Collier Mystery series, after escaping from captivity in an abandoned train car, Cat stumbles upon a homeless man at the long deserted train station, who helps her get home to Carter. Detrick discovers he knows this homeless man as the one-time legendary saxophone player who played in the downstairs bar when they were both young and the family embarks on rehabilitating the sax player and reopening the bar, “The Blues.”

Amazon US

Amazon UK

carol ann kauffman cat collier mysteries

In this fourth installment in the Cat Collier Short Story Mystery Series, a dear, old friend comes up missing and Cat Collier must scramble to find her before it’s too late. A powerful enemy resurfaces and claims responsibility for a personal attack on Cat’s family. Nola relives Trent’s murder and Carter proposes…again.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

You can also find Carol Ann Kauffman on Facebook and Twitter.

 

L K Solves The Problem

Today we start the first of our monthly appearances 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. As a friend of our editor and regular contributor to RockPaperSpirit, L K 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 first problem is from a young lady in financial difficulty who is looking for a quick fix. Read on to see L K’s advice…

Dear LK,
For the last couple of years money has been really tight and now it’s worse than ever. I’m struggling to bring up a young family on my own and my benefits are being cut because I have three kids. During a Whatsapp group chat a few weeks ago one of my friends joked about working the chatlines and of course we all laughed. But now I am seriously considering it. I looked into becoming a chatline hostess or even a webcam model and the money is fantastic. These girls are making £150 a night from the comfort of their own homes. The problem is that I would hate for anyone I know to find out, especially my kids. They’re now old enough to understand what would be involved in webcam modelling and I wouldn’t want to embarrass them at school, but I don’t have a lot of options. I have no skills, a very basic education and nobody wants to hire a single mum whose main priority is her kids. What should I do?
Anon, Newcastle
l k jay agony aunt webcam modelling
Dear Anon of Newcastle,
First of all, why are your benefits being cut?  Have the benefit office told you specifically that they’re being cut because you have three children?  What benefits exactly are you claiming?  How old are you children?
I ask these questions because I wonder if you are getting all the money and benefits you are entitled to.  It’s time to sharpen up and start making a plan of exactly how you are going to get out of this and where you’re going long term.  How about the father (is there more than one) of your children?  Are you getting the correct contributions from him? Have you approached the child maintenance agency, they are very good at tracking down absent fathers and extracting the money you are owed out of them.  No room for sentimentality here, get what you are owed.
With regards to the webcam modelling, steer well clear.  What goes on the internet, stays on the internet and you run the risk of being discovered.  Once that happens, you could have social services knocking on your door.  I’ve seen it happen, children can get taken away from sex workers, because that will be the label they will give you.  You also run the risk of being involved in crime, a lot of these women are being run by criminal gangs or have been trafficked into the work.  Don’t do it.  Just don’t.
Have you thought of increasing your skills and education?  It’s the best thing to increase your prospects long term.  As you are on benefits, you should be entitled to free courses at college – you can study to increase your skills in any area you’re interested in or learn a trade.  I have yet to meet a poor electrician or gas fitter.  You can also study with the Open University and get help with that – either way you need to work hard and apply yourself to get a good steady income.  Discipline and clear headed thinking is what you need.  It won’t be easy but hard work and perseverance will pay off in the end.
After all, there was the story of the young single mother who sat in a coffee shop in Edinburgh and wrote a story about a boy wizard, and look where she is now.
Good luck,
L K Jay.
If you have a problem you’d like L K to solve, please use our comment box below, contact me page or email us. You can even DM our editor on Twitter. All problems are treated in the strictest confidence and will be published on the site as from “Anon”
What advice would you give this young lady? Do you agree with L K or would you reply be different?

The Perfume Blogger

The first item I opted to tackle on my 40 Before 40 List was number 30, “Start a Niche Blog” and so on 24th May 2017, I launched my very niche site, The Perfume Blogger.

the perfume blogger

Something many people don’t realise about me is that I used to run a kitchen-table perfumery. I called it Fairytale Fragrances. My creations were based on the different scents associated with my favourite folk tales. For example, Cinderella’s fragrance was Glass Slipper and had notes of pumpkin, champagne and a shake of magic wand (that’s an aldehyde called Iso E Super, for those not involved in perfumery).

fairytale fragrances

It wasn’t fancy. It was just me messing around with raw ingredients, creating unique eau de parfum and with the help of my consultancy gig with The Perfume Studio London, I helped other women to do the same. Sadly, toward the end of 2016 I chose to wind down the business because my chronic pain issues were holding me back. There was really no way I could have continued hauling the heavy stock case around with me to parties and wedding fayres. So, it had to end and even though it was outwith my control, failure stings.

the perfume studio london bespoke fragrance

It took me a while to get over that, I must admit. I was reluctant to do anything perfume related again but I think writing about fragrances rather than making them is a good place to start. I haven’t really decided where I want to go with this site. There are so many talented bloggers already concentrating on this niche and standing out from the crowd would be a tall order but so long as I keep discovering new fragrances and enjoying them, I’ll continue to write reviews and informative articles.

If you were to start a new blog, what would your niche be?

My Week In Freelancing – 03/07/17 – 09/07/17

Here’s a round-up of the work that I’ve contributed this week to other sites. For the foreseeable future this will mostly be OxGadgets as I’ve scaled back the amount of freelance work I am undertaking over the school summer break. After school starts again, I’ll be doing more work for other sites. There are some really interesting articles here and hopefully you’ll enjoy reading them.

Can A Mobile Phone Work Without a Battery? A short piece about a prototype being developed at the University of Washington that allows calls to be made without a charged battery

Surf Air Bring All-You-Can-Fly Air Travel to Europe One for the frequent flyers! It sounds like a great subscription service and it’s much cheaper than I had anticipated

Could The Williams F1’s Babypod 20 Save Lives? This is an interesting one discussing a baby transportation device developed by the Williams F1 team

Macate’s Genio Offers Geo-Locater Encryption This will appeal to anyone who prioritises security as it’s about a new smartphone that changes the level of security depending on where in the world you are

Alibaba Unveil Mandarin Only Smart Speaker The Tmall Genie This is a short piece about a new smart speaker that’s sure to be huge in China