Northern Adventures

Enjoyed my fellow Open Book Blog Hopper Aurorawatcherak’s road trip.


January 15, 2018 – Share a recent travel experience or anecdote.


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I heard recently that about 40% of Americans have never traveled outside of the United States and about 11% have never left the state they were born in. Wow! When you live in Alaska, which has no land connection to the contiguous 48-states, travel is sort of required to live.

The OP for this blog hop, however, says a recent travel experience. I flew down to Seattle a couple of months ago, but Seattle is just a gateway city for Alaska where my mother’s family happens to live. Kind of boring – Pike’s Market is only super exciting if you live in the vegetable-deprived northland, although I really do want to explore the Puget Sound area more thoroughly when I have time and a car…

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I had to share this item of news that I read on my iPad recently:

A butcher in Totnes, Devon, became trapped in his walk-in freezer after the door blew shut behind him.  With the door release button frozen solid, he became stranded in temperatures of -20 degrees Centigrade.  However,  help was on hand.  He had one last frozen black pudding left on a nearby shelf, and he determined it was about the right size and weight to batter the release button with.  Luckily it worked, and he was able to say that black pudding saved his life!

This made me shudder (and not with the cold) as I am rather claustrophobic, and it also made me think back to when I became trapped in a single disabled toilet in Lowestoft when Sam and I had taken my mother Dot out for the day in her wheelchair.  Dot always had to go to the toilet about every hour on the hour, and that day was no exception.  We had just parked the car when  Dot announced a visit was necessary.  Sam sat back on the driver’s seat and closed his eyes – it was going to be a long job.

I envisaged Sam falling asleep as I pushed the wheelchair towards the one disabled toilet.  We went inside, but when it was time to come out the lock would not budge.  Dot began to panic as I kicked and hammered on the door.  There was a pull cord alarm, and I pulled it.  I tried to make light of our situation for Dot’s sake.

“Someone will hear the alarm – at least we’ll be okay if we need the loo or a drink of water.”

I could hear the noise of the alarm sounding quite loudly outside.  However, nobody came to our aid.  I hadn’t taken my mobile phone out with me, as I hate the bloody thing.  However, to give it its due I could have used it that day to call Sam dozing in the car park and wake him up.  It was no use me trying to shout, as various treatments for thyroid cancer had put paid to that option.  Dot’s 91 year old raspy voice wasn’t much louder than mine.

“We’ll have to wait until Sam comes along to find out why we’re taking so long.”

Dot calmed down and we waited, with me intermittently banging on the door or kicking it.  Sure enough, eventually Sam ambled along after about half an hour.

“You two okay in there?”

I managed to convey that no, we were well and truly stuck.  Sam shouted that he could see a toilet attendant sitting in his office located a little way along in the main toilet block, and that he was going along there to get help.  What a relief!  A few minutes later the attendant had opened the door with a key, but Sam let him know in no uncertain terms how unhappy he was that he had been sitting in his office ignoring our plight.  Apparently he’d had his radio up so loud that he couldn’t hear the alarm.  Marvellous.

We were free!  However, I knew that it was only a matter of time before Dot would need to go to the toilet once more, but this time Sam would need to stand guard outside. There was no way I was locking the door again!

Have you ever been trapped anywhere?  How did you get yourself free?


Open Book Blog Hop – January 15th

This week we have to share a recent travel experience or anecdote.

I suppose it’s got to be the morning of Sunday December 10th, when my eldest son Leon drove me 200 miles from the centre of Manchester to where we live in Suffolk, East Anglia.  We had been to see Queen + Adam Lambert the evening before at the Manchester Arena.

Snow had been predicted on the previous day’s weather forecast, but there was no sign of it as we set off southbound on the M6 around 9.30am.  However, after about an hour into the journey sure enough snow was falling, and by the looks of it had already been falling for some time.  High winds had blown snow across the motorway and the outside lane was blocked with a thick slush.  Traffic had slowed down, but some cars were risking the outside lane and skidding.

Thankfully Leon was sensible enough to stay in the  inside lane (maybe because he had his mother in the car!).  We began to see accidents everywhere.  One car was on its roof on the other side of the motorway, with somebody lying on the ground surrounded by people.  An ambulance was trying to reach the scene on the other side, as I saw blue lights in front of me in the distance.  On the exit slipway to one of the services a coach full of people had skidded into a car and both were blocking the road, and one of the services’ staff was stopping any more cars trying to enter.

I was beginning to feel rather alarmed.  Just past Birmingham traffic stopped completely and we sat there for an hour.  People got out of their cars and built snowmen on the central reservation!  A lorry driver next to us got out of his cab and tapped on our window to let us know there had been an accident but traffic would soon be moving (maybe he had CB radio?).  Sure enough we started to crawl along, but hey, both Leon and I needed a bathroom stop!  Luckily we found one after a few miles and warmed up with a hot drink and something to eat.  After an agonisingly slow journey and seeing many more accidents that day we arrived home around 3.30pm.

I was definitely impressed that day with my son’s driving.  In the past he had been a bit of a tearaway on the road, but he got us home safely after 6 hours, when on a normal day it would have taken 4.  I had to laugh as his wife had sent him a text to ask whether he would be willing to take her sister home (which would have entailed another 45 minutes of driving) once he had dropped me off.  I wasn’t privy to his reply, but by the look on his face I got the gist of it (I found out later that his father-in-law was handed that particular job)!

Have you had a travel experience you want to share?  To add yours or find out other blog-hoppers’ experiences, please click on the blue button below:

1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Blog Tour – ‘LAZY DAYS’ by Jaye Marie & Anita Dawes.

QuizI am pleased to be able to host a blog tour for Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie’s new autobiographical novella ‘Lazy Days’.  Below is a book description, links to Anita and Jaye’s social media sites, and guest posts by both Anita and Jaye:

Lazy book cover Worldwide Purchase Link



This novella is the true story of our family’s first proper holiday back in the Seventies. Looking back, I wonder what made us think it was a good idea, but despite all the things that could have gone wrong, we had a fantastic time. I was the Skipper most of the time, and for some reason decided to record our adventures in a small notebook. We were young and without husbands, Anita was a widow, and I was glad to be rid of mine (and that is another story). Money was precious and scarce back then, but all the saving and sacrifice turned out to be worth every single memory we all cherish.

This notebook has been treasured and kept safe, despite numerous house moves and family disasters, as a symbol of our courage and determination. Renting a boat on the Norfolk Broads could so easily have been one of the stupidest things we had ever done, but even after 40 years, we have such good memories of that time.

Over the years, we often thought of making it into a proper book, but along with everything else in our often-complicated family life, it was something we never got around to. Until just recently, when we were looking for some old photographs, found the now fragile notebook and knew it was time.  It wasn’t as easy as we imagined it would be either, for our logbook writing skills leave a lot to be desired, but there was just enough information entered on those pages to get us started.

Links Website:




Jaye_Marie & Anita’s Author Pages/Amazon Links :


I had no intention of becoming a writer. I loved to read, and for most of my life, that was enough for me. More than enough really, for I am a compulsive reader and will read anything I can lay my hands on. Give me a bookshelf full of books and I will start at one end and read my way to the other.

Then I offered to edit my sister Anita’s books. She hates computers, so I offered to type them up too. Before I knew it, my brain began to explore what other things I could be doing.

I tried to ignore that inner voice, for I was busy enough already. Anita was writing faster than I could format, and there were all my other interests too. Gardening, DIY, dressmaking and a host of craft projects. I love to be busy, but it came to the point where something had to give, never mind add something else to the list.

I considered myself a writer when I held my first paperback copy of my book Nine Lives in my hand for the first time. Up until that magic moment, I doubted I would ever feel like a writer. But holding that paperback copy finally convinced me.
My favourite character didn’t really appear until book two, The Last Life, and his name is Detective Inspector David Snow. The fact that my detective looks a lot like Tom Selleck should indicate how fond I am of him. I just love writing about him.

That was then, and I have now finished writing The Broken Life, the third book in my mystery thriller series.  The characters just turned up in my head, one by one, nagged me for weeks until I gave in, and listened. So you can never say never.

This genre came as a surprise, for I lean towards the supernatural, spooky kind of book, so I have no idea where the idea came from. If anything, I should have expected to write medical stories, as I always wanted to be a doctor, and these are some of my favourite television programmes.

My favourite fiction book just happens to be The Scarlet Ribbon, Anita’s supernatural mystery romance. I was the editor for this one and fell in love with it. And no, she didn’t have to pay me to say this!
My life has not been easy by anyone’s standards, and now I am growing old, I sometimes look back and wonder how I managed to get through it all. So, the perfect epitaph for me would be… “She did her best…” Even though I made a pigs ear out of most of it!


Two years ago, when I first started hearing about Indie publishing, I never thought it would be something I could actually do, as the thought of anything to do with a computer filled me with dread.

I had been writing for years, and submitted my work to most of the mainstream publishers. Very nearly made it too, but as they say, a miss is as good as a mile! Which was a shame, for many people liked what I wrote.

So it didn’t take long for the idea of doing it yourself to become something I was determined to do. I enlisted the help of my sister, Jaye, as she is far more computer literate than I. More stubborn too!

What Jaye had to learn was incredible, and unbelievably hard. I tried to keep up with her, but there were days when even she was pulling her hair out. Some of it was easy, which tended to lull us into a false sense of achievement, but we persevered.
Eventually, we learned how to upload one of my manuscripts to Amazon, and I was finally a published author. (Well, sort of)

We didn’t stop there. We wanted to upload my other books and create paperback copies too, proof positive that I was truly a writer. One little success meant there could very well be others, and that was the best incentive in the world.  Learning how to do all that was a nightmare, but soon, four of my books were on Amazon and we were like a couple of Cheshire cats. We were tempted to stop there; after all, I now had four paperback copies of my books on my shelf, as well as the Kindle editions.

But we soon discovered that this was only half of the battle. Apparently, you need a platform, a reader friendly website to promote my books or they would remain in limbo. Then there was all the socialising and networking. So many writers were publishing their own books; we were a very small pebble in a very large pond!  We managed to create a passable website and established a presence on the internet. Not that this is the end of the story, there is no way you can rest on your laurels (that is if you even have some!)

Even if nothing monumental comes from all our efforts, we know we have tried our hardest. But we won’t stop writing, for that’s the fun part!

Anita and Jaye are also running a quiz and a Facebook event during the tour.  Please see below for details.


News Update on ‘A House Without Windows’

Back in December I received an email from a very pleasant lady in the Development department of an award winning New York film company.  She had discovered my book  ‘A House Without Windows’  when using keywords to research for criminals who had fathered children – generational crimes.  She asked me for the manuscript, and I received this email when she had read it:

‘I finished A House Without Windows and enjoyed it immensely. I broke it down for our director and recommended it be explored for film consideration. The final decision is not mine, but I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed the book and found it riveting and worthy of further review.’
A month later and I received another email:
It is an incredible story and I believe it will make a fantastic film, but it didn’t fit the parameters of our slate.  I would like to congratulate you on a wonderful book that literally had me feeling as though I was locked in that basement.  It kept me on the edge of my seat. I look forward to reading more of your work.
I was curious enough to find out what ‘it didn’t fit the parameters of our slate’ meant, as I had no idea.  She was kind enough to send this email:
The director was concerned about the violence against women in it, especially with the climate right now in filmmaking, etc. I thought the character was amazing, especially the fact that she was a doctor I believe put her so far ahead of anyone else in that predicament. I also loved how she never associated her son with the monster, she saw him as the person that saved them. It was so well done.
I thanked her for the interest she had shown in ‘A House Without Windows’, and asked her whether she would be interested in reading any more of my books.  She sent this reply:
We are looking for suspense so thank you for the opportunity to look at other projects. I found myself very drawn to your writing.
So all is not lost -it would have been rude not to send her something!  I emailed her the novel and screenplay of  ‘For the Sake of a Child’, also ‘The Noise Effect’ short story, and my novel ‘Repent at Leisure’.  Let’s see what happens this time!  So authors… be mindful that film companies are now very wary of making films where there is violence against women.
Now I have another 4 – 6 week wait probably … so watch this space!

My Take on Old Age

This excellent post by Janet Givens asks ‘What does old age really mean?’.  As somebody speaking from the experience of being in the 60th year of my life and also caring for my 92 year old mother in the last few years before her death, I have a pretty good idea.  Here’s my list of what old age means:

  1.  It means you will fight until the last moment possible to hang on to your independence instead of going into residential care.
  2. You will need to accept your body’s limitations, or face years of depression.
  3. You will drive your car until the last possible moment before the family take away your car keys because you have started to become a hazard to other road users.
  4. You will constantly look back to a time when you were younger and life was better.
  5. Friends that you’ve known all your life will all die, one by one, so somehow, somewhere, you will need to make new ones or face years of loneliness.
  6. You cannot help but think that you are a burden to your family.
  7. Bodily functions you took for granted will cease to work properly, and you will need to make ‘adjustments’.
  8. Mobility will decrease for sure.  The legs always go first.
  9. It will be harder to remember anything or learn anything new.
  10. You will get to know your GP and ambulance staff quite well.
  11. You will feel cold all the time.
  12. You will find it hard to do up buttons.
  13. You will become clumsy and prone to falling over.
  14. You will need to use a walking stick, maybe two.
  15. You will resist until the last moment the necessity of using a mobility walker.
  16. On outings with your family you will eschew the use of a wheelchair and walk along pushing it at a snail’s pace.
  17. You will wake up several times during the day, but do not remember falling asleep.
  18. It will get harder and harder for you to hear what is being said, but you will resist until the last moment the necessity of using a hearing aid.

Depressing isn’t it?  So I say this… live life  to the full while you can and while you’ve still got the wherewithal to do so!


Guest Submissions Wanted

Ooh, yes, I’ll be taking part in this one. Thanks Michael!

The Ink Owl

Calling out to all writers and bloggers who would like to be featured for the month of February! The Ink Owl will be once again taking submissions from guest bloggers and writers to be featured throughout the month of February. (Let’s see how many times I can reword that statement.) Anyway, I always call February the “Month of Love” because it’s never a lovely month to me. I feel like I always end up slogging through the month with all the gray melting snow and bare trees. But not this year!

This year I’d like to shake things up with a new challenge, one that will hopefully test your limits as a writer. This month I would like submissions to be about self-love. Not self-obsession, narcissism, or conceitedness, but actual, genuine self-love.

As defined by Merriam-Webster online dictionary self love is: regard for one’s own well-being and happiness.


I would…

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Friday Roundup – 12th January

1.  Thanks to Deana Cabinian, guest author on Jane Friedman’s blog, for these 5 things she is not doing to launch a book:

2.  Rachel Poli shares things she has learned when re-branding her newsletter:

6 Things I’ve Learned Re-branding My Newsletter

3.  Lisa Brown on Just Publishing Advice writes on how to get your book picked up by a publisher:

4.  Thanks again to Lisa Brown for this advice on how to find a literary agent:

5.  Blonde Write More gives advice on accepting that not all our writing projects will be a success:

How To Accept a LOT of Your Writing Projects Might Not Go Anywhere #MondayBlogs #AmWriting #Writers

6.  Jocelyn Young writes of 5 things she has learned as an author:

5 Essential Lessons I Learned as an Author in 2017

7.  Derek Haines gives advice regarding writing for online publishing:

8.  Jean M. Cogdell advises on word counts:

Do you want to know how long to make a story?

9.  Erica Verrillo writes about why you need an author profile:…+and+Other+Forms+of+Insanity)

How to Add X-Ray to Your Kindle eBook

I’m going to have to try this. Thanks for the info, Chris.


X-ray picture licensed from ShutterStock.


Authors can add X-ray to their Kindle eBooks via KDP.

Here is how to do it:

  • Visit Kindle Direct Publishing at
  • After you login, visit your KDP Bookshelf.
  • Hover your cursor over the gray button with three dots (…) near the right of one of your book titles.
  • If available, you will see an option to Launch X-Ray. Click this link.
  • This will open the X-Ray page for your Kindle eBook, but you won’t be able to do anything yet.
  • Click the yellow button to Request X-Ray. The window will automatically close 20 seconds later and return you to your Bookshelf.
  • You should receive an email once X-Ray is prepared for your Kindle eBook. Although it says it can take a few hours, my emails came within minutes.
  • Now you need to return to your KDP Bookshelf and Launch X-Ray…

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Venus and Mars and the Gender Pay Gap


The BBC’s China editor, Carrie Gracie, has resigned from her post amid much outcry, accusing the BBC of having a secretive and illegal pay culture.  She was offered a pay rise before she resigned, but her proposed new salary of £180,000 was still far less than the £200,000 – £249,999 paid to Jon Sopel, the BBC’s North America editor.   Also when the BBC published a list of its top earning stars, it was revealed that only a third were women and the top seven were all men.

This inequality is not just limited to the BBC, but I’m using this as an example.  It happens in many other corporations, but fortunately it seems that women are at last starting to break the silence and speak out, now that companies have been forced to publish their gender pay gaps.

We have moved on since the days when married women were not allowed to work, and single women tended to have dead-end jobs until they got married.   Nowadays more women than ever attend universities, obtain degrees, and want and expect the same salaries as men for doing a similar job.  And why not indeed?  It is only right and proper that Carrie Gracie should have been paid the same as Jon Sopel, as I’m sure you would all agree.

In the hospital where I work the pay bands are upfront and well known. Grade 1 pay scale includes housekeepers and some kitchen staff.  For Grade 2 you get the ward clerks and simple administration jobs.  Grades 3 and 4 include medical secretaries.  A Grade 5 job is somebody in charge of the General Office, Grade 6’s are assistant service managers, and all grades above 6 are managerial positions.  The medical staff have their own pay grades, where consultants earn the highest salaries.

So who do you think are housekeepers, ward clerks and medical secretaries?  Yes, these jobs are all done by women.  When you get to the Grade 7 and 8 higher-paying managerial positions, surprise surprise, these are mostly done by men.  The nursing staff are mainly women and the consultants are mostly men, but there are a few women consultants and the odd male nurse too to even it out a bit.

What do you think is one of the main factors in this gender inequality?  Near the top of the list is that thing which employers mustn’t talk about to prospective female employees – pregnancy and children.   Most (but not all) women are instinctively caring and nurturing and want to bear and raise children, and the majority are prepared to forego a high-paying career to build their families.  This makes them happier to take lesser paid part-time jobs in order to have the best of both worlds, which most men cannot afford to do if they have a partner at home and children to provide for.  It’s all common sense so far?  Also, it’s only human nature that even if he/she does not ask the ‘children’ question, the MD of a company will more likely than not have childcare in the back of their mind if they interview a female candidate of childbearing age.  This will automatically put a woman with children at a disadvantage over a male candidate.  I know this for certain because a female consultant at our hospital once attended for an interview, wore a big coat, and did not let on that she was pregnant.  Within 2 months of taking up the job she was off on 15 months paid maternity leave.  Two years later she took another 15 months off for the same condition, causing the head of the department to virtually jump up and down in rage, stating that he would have never employed her if he had known what was going to happen.

Of course in the minority are non-maternal / career-minded women who do not want children, or career women who have children but have maybe a partner or a nanny who stays at home to look after them.  These women want the same career opportunities as men and be paid the same as men if they choose to do a similar job, and they should be.  Hopefully times will now be changing for the better.

But are there many similar jobs for men and women?  All the heavy industry and engineering jobs for instance are dominated by men.  All the caring, nursing, and lower-paid administrative jobs tend to be dominated by women.  Even at the school-leaver level there are so many more apprenticeships favouring boys than there are that might attract girls.  I know because I found this out when helping my sons to gain apprenticeships more than 15 years ago.  Girls, because of the aforementioned caring nature, are not usually attracted to jobs in heavy industry where the salaries are higher.

But at the moment are women paid as much as men if they do happen to work in a similar job?  On the whole, no.  This is because up until now most companies have kept silent about how much they pay women as compared to men,  and they’ve got away with it.  Career women have crawled up to the glass ceiling and have unknowingly accepted lower pay because of company secrecy, and usually women are less forthright than men anyway about speaking out and maybe losing their jobs.  If a company can get away with paying women less and therefore having less outgoings and more profit, then you can bet your bottom dollar that they will do just that.  Men, previously thought of as the main breadwinners (but as I said, times are changing) would probably be more upfront about asking for a pay rise and getting it.

Will a fresh feminine breeze soon be blowing around staid male-dominated corporations?  I sincerely hope so…

I’m working at one of those female-orientated jobs I’ve just written about today, so will check in again tonight and answer any comments!