Jeremy Corbyn has my full support

Tags

,

In these trying times when Jeremy Corbyn, even though he was elected Labour Party leader on a huge mandate from party members, is being viciously and constantly attacked, even by some MPs on his own front bench,  I just have one thing to say in an attempt to calm my anger at these undemocratic parasites:

i-stand-with-corbyn

Single parent? Attend the Jobcentre and get referred to social services as a troubled family. New trial at Ashton Jobcentre.

Very worrying report that single mums are being labelled as the heads of ‘troubled families’ by JSA staff under a new ‘incentive scheme’.

The poor side of life

Yesterday I heard something very disturbing. A lady contacted me, she was very upset. She attended the Jobcentre for her signing on appointment and was confronted with something totally unexpected. She’s a very intelligent lady and thankfully she acted quickly and appropriately. She said hello to the advisor or job coach as they call them now. I don’t know why because they don’t coach you into anything except desperation. She’s been attending a mandatory work related course and had despite this completed all her Job searches correctly. The meeting then took a totally different atmosphere. The advisor suggested to her that she should be willing to get involved with a trial that they are running with Tameside Council. They are asking single parents to be assigned a social worker and a key worker so they can keep an eye on her… The reason for this? Because they said she hadn’t…

View original post 697 more words

The establishment are ‘frit’ because Ed Miliband is the biggest threat to the status quo we’ve seen for decades

As the article says: “the media campaign, aimed at attempting to undermine Miliband’s credibility as a leader, arose precisely because Miliband is the biggest threat to the UK power base and status quo that we’ve seen for many decades.”

Politics and Insights

10424302_677497562319775_766713150422913861_n“We’re in a fight not because our opponents think we’re destined to lose the election. But because they fear we can win. And between now and the election they are going to use every tactic to try to destabilise, distract us and throw us off course. Our task, the task for every person in this party, is simple: To focus our eyes on the prize of changing this country.” Ed Miliband.

Ed Miliband has pledged to take on “vested interests” and “powerful forces” in his bid to win the next general election. Not even the Crosby and Murdoch-orchestrated media campaign, which was aimed at demoralising, undermining and monstering Ed Miliband can disguise the fact that the Tories are in a state of panic.

In fact the media campaign, aimed at attempting to undermine Miliband’s credibility as a leader, arose precisely because Miliband is the biggest threat to the UK power…

View original post 1,075 more words

Why I Will Be Voting Labour

Tags

, ,

People who read the first posts on this blog will be wondering where all of my thoughts on writing have gone. Well, they will be coming back soon. But for now there is something that I am finding to be much more pressing to write about and that is Politics, and British Politics in particular at this point in time.

And the reason why I feel this way is because I am thinking about the future for my children. However successful I am (or perhaps am not) at writing, it will make no difference if my children grow up into an uncaring World.

I don’t want them to live in fear of losing a job or being sick and having nowhere to go for help. I don’t want them to grow up thinking that the only thing that matters is money: not hard work; not being a caring person; not even being a creative and thoughtful person; but being someone who is valued by society by the amount of money they can amass.

I want my children to grow up feeling that they matter, whether they are rich or poor; healthy or disabled. And I don’t want them thinking that there is no point in caring: that only the wealthy 1% matter and that there is nothing they can do about it.

And that is why I am doing everything I can to ensure that the next UK Government will be a Labour one.

I have been a Socialist since even before I was old enough to vote. Over the years I have felt marginalised by all the leading political parties. I was just old enough to vote when Blair came to power, but I hadn’t voted for him. To me, he was not a Socialist; he was a Centrist with Tory leanings. And for a long time I felt disenfranchised because no one I could vote for in my political ward spoke for the values I held dear.

So what has changed? Why will I be voting Labour in the upcoming General Election?

Because to ignore what is happening to our society would be a crime. All over the World, it is the small percentage of wealthy people who hold the power. These people are rapidly skimming off our money to fill their own pockets. In Britain, our Welfare State is being decimated by so-called ‘austerity reforms; our NHS is being sold off into private hands under the guise of ‘reorganisation’; and our Education system is being taken over by money-making ‘enterprises’.

To be unemployed or sick is something to be dreaded unless you are very rich, because, even if you think you are just getting by now, there will come a time when you discover that all help has run out.

Ed Miliband’s Labour Party is not perfect. But it is the best option we have right now and, I truly believe that a strongly-supported Labour Government will be able to bring in changes that will set us on the way to being a more caring society.

Even though I consider myself to the left of the current Labour Party, I still feel that my vote for them counts. And it is the only vote that will get us anywhere near to kicking this current uncaring government to the sidelines.

So, there will most likely be a few more political writings on this blog leading up to the General Election, and probably afterwards too. But if you feel as I do about the current state of British Society and you want a better future for your children like I do, I’m sure you’ll understand.

Labour’s Dilemma: How To Appeal To Enough Voters To Gain Political Victory

Tags

, , ,

The Labour Party appears to have a dilemma with who they appeal to, and on what platforms it is best to appeal in order to win the upcoming General Election.

The Tories assume they have the majority of ‘the grey vote’ and Labour appear to be taking them at their word.

So Labour are going after the younger person’s vote.

Will this work?

On the one hand, appealing to Tory-voting pensioners would probably be a waste of time as it would fall on deaf ears.

But on the other hand, many younger people are refusing to vote, as they feel that not only have they been marginalised by all parties, but that all MPs are sleazebags and don’t deserve their vote.

Appealing to either of these groups is going to take a real onslaught just to get the attention of closed minds, and then the likelihood of persuasion is low.

And time is running out.

Labour needs to convince hearts and minds NOW and continue to add more hearts and minds to the list right up to and beyond the impending General Election.

So, as well as going all out to convince new voters and fight off the conditioning of Tory voters, they need to be concentrating on the middle ground. And by that I don’t mean middle classes alone, or middle-aged voters alone (although these groups certainly come into it), but those voters who feel ‘in the middle’ of the political debates: those who can see good bits from both sides of the political argument.

It is voters like these that Blair persuaded back in the 90s, and kept on persuading for a relatively long time.

These are people who value The NHS and Education; who want the best for their children and grandchildren; who care about the unemployed and homeless, but are not among their number. People who, at the moment, feel reasonably secure, but are getting a sinking feeling that they could be next to feel the burden of austerity measures.

In the 90s, after years of a left-of-centre Labour finding themselves in the political wilderness under Neil Kinnock, new leader Tony Blair took a more centrist approach to help New Labour win the General Election. There were, quite rightly, strong misgivings from the left, but in 1997, most left-of-centre (and even centrist) voters, many having lived through Thatcher’s years of ideological ‘reasoning’, knew that there must be change. So, despite misgivings from both sides of the political field, Blair’s centrist approach guaranteed him a landslide victory. He even had a significant proportion of the media on his side – previously unheard of for the Labour Party – and this helped him gain victory.

But Blair’s approach was flawed. Not only did it rely upon courting big business to an unreasonable scale, but when the ‘WMD report’ emerged and Blair supported the findings, it also exposed Blair’s political inadequacies. The latter left New Labour badly tainted and Labour as a whole, deeply mistrusted.

Now Labour is in the same boat as they were before Blair, and they have Blair’s legacy as a further pit to climb out of.

Labour is proposing policies that would work and their campaign for saving the NHS has a majority of the electorate on their side. But they have a leader who is vilified and scorned in the media. It is like history from the Kinnock Labour years is repeating itself all over again.

So what can Labour do in the short time they have left to win hearts and minds?

Miliband will never be a Blair, and more power to him. But by the same token, he is not liked in the media. Like Brown before him, he is ridiculed in ways which make him appear an embarrassment as a leader.

Is that a problem? Surely people will see through the ridicule and vote for policies they feel are better for them, and by extension for their communities?

Well that depends on the thought processes of the electorate and how much they are affected by the issues, or by the facade.  And sadly I think that we still have a long way to go before the facade does not hold sway.

One good thing about all this is that Tory leader, Cameron, is not being projected at his best either.  And the scandal about rich Tory backers and Tory MPs’ links with wealthy businesses interests is definitely doing him no favours right now.

So the balance between ridicule on one side and corruption on the other appears to be holding out…at the moment.

It is now that Labour needs to go on the onslaught. While appealing to new voters, they also need to be emphasising the corruption infiltrating this Tory Government and how it is affecting ALL OF US.  Not just the poor or the unemployed, because many voters will still have the attitude that ‘we would never get like that’. Labour needs to be spelling out to all of us that any of us could be the next unemployed; that any of us could be the next long-term sick, or need the services of the NHS; that any of us could have children or grandchildren joining the unemployed, through no fault of their own; and that any of us could be put into the position where we lose our homes.

Blair used the politics of ‘charisma’. He courted business and he wooed the electorate. With a hostile media, Miliband can’t do this. But that doesn’t have to be an insurmountable problem.

People are fearful. They feel that the Government is out of their control and there is little they can do about it.

Labour needs to find a way to (dare I say it?) use that fear and feelings of lack of control. And at the same time, it needs to show that people matter: that their lives are important; that their health and their well being comes above the needs of Capital; and to show them they can make a positive difference to their and their families’ futures by voting Labour.

It will be a hard struggle, but Miliband can lead Labour to victory at the polls.
If he and Labour as a whole, get their priorities right.

Linwood Barclay Boredom….

Tags

, ,

A few months ago, I discovered a post on Goodreads asking about the thriller author, Linwood Barclay (evidently, Stephen King had recommended Barclay as an author, thus encouraging many King fans to look at Barclay and his work). As I remember, the answers were mostly positive, saying that Barclay was a high caliber crime thriller writer and well worth a read.  So, when an offer came up on Amazon, I decided to read a few Barclay books.

The first book I read (I think… you will see why they all blur in a moment…) was Never Look Away. this is the story of a small town reporter whose wife disappears on a day trip to an amusement park.

Never Look Away seemed to me a fairly entertaining read, but a little long winded.

Now this is not to say I want all action and quick resolutions in a thriller. I don’t. I much prefer getting into the characters’ heads. But in this case, the main character’s first person ramblings, coupled with his seemingly complete inability to recognise what was happening in front of his eyes, soon began to get on my nerves. Nevertheless, I persevered, only to find a rather unsatisfying conclusion. Okay, we do find out all the answers, but did Barclay really have to use such a cliche killing off of one of the main characters in order to set things right?

However, I kept on reading Linwood Barclay. By now I had him marked as an easy read and his novels were definitely put down-able and pick up-able again, which enabled me to read them without losing the plot when I had time during what has been a very busy working schedule.
 
And as I had a whole set of Linwood Barclay books, I thought I may as well continue….

But now Linwood Barclay boredom is definitely settling in…and I still have a few books to go!

The problem with Barclay is that, even though (apart from his early books with the character of Zack Walker) all his first person characters are different people, they all share many of the same characteristics:

  • They all ramble on in their heads
  • They all make stupid decisions
  • Many of them have a journalist or writing background (some have both)
  • They are all middle class, small town Americans
  • They all have (or have had) wives and children who do not understand them, but put up with them.
  • These guys are all likeable and have a strong need to do the right thing, but they are totally frustrating to those who have to deal with them.

Basically, they are all middle class American men who, I would guess, the author wants to relate to his books.

So what about Barclay’s other characters?

  • Well, he has the wife, who nearly always appears to look and act the same (in my head at least). She is sensible, usually successful, and long suffering of our main character. Even when she is killed off (not that often, but it happens), it is discovered that she was really trying to be a good person but was defeated or tricked by circumstances.
  • There is the teenage daughter. She is pretty, clever, and also long suffering of her dad. Not much else to say there really. Read a novel about any mid America teenage daughter and you will get my drift…
  • There is the teenage son. He is usually a younger version of his father (although he doesn’t know it yet…), making the same mistakes and causing the same havoc.

I could probably take these three characters and place them in most Linwood Barclay books.

We also have the minor characters. These are there to show us that Barclay is a liberal minded man. 
For example, we have the middle class dominatrix with a soft heart; the gay black guy with a great sense of humour; even a mercenary killer who does the right thing before dieing.

By now, I know as soon as I read a new Barclay character, what is going to happen to them.

Barclay then takes these characters and drops them into the middle of a thriller plot, thus producing, as some would call it, a domestic thriller.

Now there’s nothing wrong with this, you could say. Why shouldn’t your average American male be able to know his hero inside out? And what could possibly be more unsettling than something happening to a typical family…just like us…?

But for those of us who are not middle class American males, or part of their family group, this ongoing characterisation is extremely boring and predictable (as I guess it might also be for those mid American males…).

I guess that there are other British working class female readers of Linwood Barclay. It does appear that he is reasonably popular in UK libraries…
Barclay was at number 50 on lending figures for 2011.
And Trust Your Eyes has been reviewed on British TV recently .

I will admit that I have yet to read Barclay’s Trust Your Eyes, or A Tap on the Window (and the last of his Zack Walker ones), so perhaps I can still find something to rave about.
And he is an easy read….

But please Barclay, let’s have some new viewpoints.
You seem like a likeable guy, which is why, I suspect, I carry on reading your books…

Perhaps I should just take some time off from Linwood Barclay boredom and read a few short stories from someone else (anyone but Barclay!). I might then arrive at the next Zack Walker novel feeling refreshed….

But this is feeling like a marathon now, and one I have to finish.

The Satisfaction In Completing A Short Story

Tags

, ,

I’ve been away for a few days quietly working.
No I don’t mean my usual paid copy writing work, but work on an actual short story, start to finish.

For too long I have been dabbling at being a writer: typing out a few more pages of my novel; discussing the plot between characters in my head; writing about the process here on this blog….

But none of that was actually doing anything – just trying to make me feel more like a writer, rather than a pretender to the writer’s throne.

Now, I am one of those people who detects charlatans a mile off. And I was beginning to detect myself as one!

It is no lie that I have some 50k words completed on my novel, but the whole process of writing something so long was beginning to drag me down (not to mention that many of those 50k words will probably be shredder material once the novel is actually finished and edited). So I decided to do something to prove to myself I could still write and get published.

So over the last five days I have written, edited, re-written and finally sent off a new short story.

The strange thing is, although I had many part-finished short stories stored away on my PC, this one was new from start to finish. I found a publisher asking for stories for a themed horror anthology and went for it.

The theme – creatures of the night (emphasis on actual creatures) – is not something I had considered before. My horror story writing is usually of the creepy ghost kind. The audience, Young Adult, was not something I had seriously considered before either. But letting the idea scurry around in my head produced a story, so I went for it.

The main drawback here was a seven day deadline from the date I found the call for submissions. This means that only I, my long-suffering husband and my friend up the road have read the story. So, even though I have been vicious in editing, strict on getting POV’s correct and have ensured that my use of adverbs is almost non-existent, I know deep down that asking for input from a beta reader would have helped make my story more suitable for publication. But I didn’t have the time.

So I will not be disappointed when I receive a rejection slip (ok, I’m lying. I will be disappointed, but I know it is likely to happen).

But the process of writing that short story, start to finish, was so satisfying I can hardly believe it.

After the experience of completing my short story, I now know I can write a story, sticking to publisher guidelines and following rules on ‘show don’t tell’, POV, etc, which had been getting me down. I also feel confident that the story will eventually sell, perhaps not in the form I submitted to the publisher, but close enough.

In other words, I have my confidence back.

Of course, this still doesn’t prove that I can produce a novel. As I said in my post Can a Writer Of Short Stories Write A Novel, those thoughts still concern me a little, but now at least I know that when time necessitates I can be disciplined in my approach to writing.

So all I need now is for a publisher to tell me that he or she wants my novel completed in six months time. That should do it. 🙂

Are You Prepared To Be Sociable To Promote Your Book?

Tags

, , ,

I was browsing my bookmarks today and found an old blog post by social media blogger, Chris Brogan. It is called An Author’s Plan For Social Media Efforts. The post is now two years old, but all but two of the links on it still work, so it’s definitely worth a look.

What I found interesting about this post is the amount of effort Brogan thinks the author of a new book needs to put in to cause interest across the social networking spectrum.

I’m not saying he is wrong, it is simply that my brain went into “don’t want to know” mode as I ploughed through the long list of things to do. However, as I had bookmarked this post, I guess I had thought I would come back to it in due course and maybe give the suggestions a go.

Brogan gives 21 different ways to promote a book and the comments (if you ignore the spam ones) give even more. Some of the advice is geared more towards those writing business books, but the advice is still pretty sound. And, as it turned out, I am already following some of his tips anyway.

Basically, you need to get out there and learn and use every aspect of social media to best effect.

Okay…so, let’s say I was intent on promoting my book (I’m not – I haven’t finished it yet!).

First of all I would need a website with a domain to fit the book (not hard to do as I already have hosting and am good at finding domains to use, so I can almost check that one), a blog (check), a Twitter account (check), a Facebook account (well, I guess my ‘keep in touch with family and friends site’ could do with a change of emphasis.. so… check).

I know how to use Google alerts, so I could easily set one up for my book (check), same with Google blog search so I can comment on other people’s blogs when they write about my book (check), I always try to be gracious to people commenting on my blogs (unless they are complete a’holes) because after all, they have not only read my post, but they taken the time to comment, so I can check that one too.

Writing guest posts on other blogs always seems like spamming to me, if you are only doing it to promote something of yours. That’s actually a shame, as I would (probably…) love to post on another person’s blog if they’d let me (and, of course, if I had something interesting to say!), so I can check that too without much worry.

No real problems so far.

But then things get a bit more technical.

I have no idea about setting up an email list and newsletters (apart from using Feedburner, which probably doesn’t count), so that would require a good bit of research and comparisons of best systems to use.

I had no clue what a ‘blogger outreach project’ was until I looked it up (I’m still working it out, but I think it concerns juggling a list of bloggers who review different parts of your book – but I could well be wrong!).

Making a YouTube video promoting my book seems like a great idea, but I would probably need help with that too (unless I want to look like a complete amateur – there again, that could be appealing in certain circumstances.. I guess…).

Then there is finding out how to arrange speaking trips and radio and TV appearances. I would assume that your publisher or agent would help with this, but it appears that a publisher’s promotional help is never enough and you should be doing most of your book promotion yourself, so… I would have to build networks with local media companies, perhaps book clubs, university literature groups, etc. Lots of hard work there, but worth the effort I would think…

That’s a précis of most of the tips. Others seem like common sense (to me, anyway), or like something you would work on in conjunction with your publisher (unless you are a self-publisher of course…).

But one thing I did notice with nearly all of these tips is…

An author needs to be very, very sociable.

I saw in the comments on this article that some assumed that writers were naturally sociable, gregarious beings – good speakers too. But are authors really like that?

It appears to me that many writers are far from gregarious. Spending your days alone, pounding out thousands of words onto your PC doesn’t give you much time for socialising (unless you give up in disgust and drown your sorrows at the local bar, of course).

Many writers also tend to be introverts, preferring to let others take the stage while they sit back and ‘people watch’. I would go as far as to say that being the darling of social media would appear as an almost insurmountable challenge to many writers, as the concept would be totally alien to them.

Taking that further, I would say that it isn’t so much the length of the ‘to do’ list that will faze a large number of authors, it is more that, after already producing a cast of believable characters for their book, they will now have to invent a ‘sociable’, outgoing character for themselves.

So, are you prepared to be sociable to promote your book?

And before you say an outright ‘No!’, think about all the blood, sweat and tears you have spent writing your masterpiece. And how much of your life has been invested in this moment, when your book has reached the publication stage.

I personally am sociable enough in that I like communicating with people, but I have to admit that it would take real effort on my part to be the life and soul of the party on and offline for days on end without let-up. But in this situation, I would not want to let my book down now by failing at ‘being sociable’. So, I guess I would have to grit my teeth, put on a suitable ‘sociable’ persona, and go for it! 🙂

No Hay Dos Sin Tres

Tags

,

La Roja Celebrate Winning The European Championship

No writing today, this is just to say Well Done Spain!

Watching Spanish TV over the last few days, where the caption has been No Hay Dos Sin Tres, we kept our fingers and toes crossed that everyone would be proved right.

Well, they were – Spain beat Italy 4-0, making them Champions of Europe for the second time running as well as Champions of the World!

Well done La Roja!