As the year draws to a close I’ve been looking at my stats for the years 2014 – 2018. Since the start of it all in 2014 my stats have steadily increased from 9149 views in 2016 for example, to 24,924 views in 2018.
However, this year I’ve cut back a bit so as not to overkill the blog and bore any readers. My views so far are 20,199, and I’ve written about 100 fewer posts. After 5 years of blogging I find that all the same writing tips and advice have been re-blogged many times by many different authors, and that actually hey ho, some days it’s getting a bit of a drag to think of things to blog about.
For the last couple of years my most viewed blogs have been the monthly posts/winners from my ‘Share Your Short Story‘ contest. This tells me something; people want contests or a platform where their own stories or poems can be seen and read. I’ve found the answers to several other questions too, by running the short story contest and also by running a street team promotion on MeWe:
Do people want to read my own stories?
I’ve found they will read and comment on them more often only if I add them to the short story contest. If I add a story, poem or a book review on a blog of its own then I’ll get a few ‘likes’, but whether or not people have actually read it or are just being polite I cannot really say.
Is it worth running a contest too often?
No, because you need to give people time to come up with new stories.
Is it worth charging a fee to enter?
No, because then there will be no entries. However, if it’s free, then there’s always a spike in my stats on the day any new contest comes out!
Is it worth running a street team promotion?
The jury’s out on that one. I’ve found that about half of the members take part each week, and that it’s always the same ones who share each other’s books around on their social media sites. For the rest of them the novelty soon wears off and excuses start to pour in.
Is it worth keeping a blog going year after year?
Yes, I think so, just as long as the content doesn’t become too stale. Readers do not want the same old same old day after day ad nauseam. It’s always good to read about something personal to the author, and not about the same old writing tips or those ghastly author interview questions (Why do you write? What is your writing process? What is on your desk as you write?)!
Is it worth blogging every day?
I’m beginning to think that no, it’s not worth it, because of the faff involved in trying to dredge up something worthwhile to write about. I think that in the New Year I shall ease up a bit more and see what happens.
Is it worth being a writer?
Yes, just as long as you don’t expect to earn any money from it, and don’t expect to find droves of readers beating a path to Amazon to buy your book.
Will anyone read the second installment of ‘Scam!’ (below)?
Who knows? Here goes…
Scam! Copyright Stevie Turner 2019
Chapter Four – 2018
Resplendent in Deirdre’s slightly cheaper younger sister, I check my make-up for the last time in the bathroom mirror before rustling out onto the upstairs landing of my parents’ house. Dad beams a smile wide enough to drive a bus through.
“You look absolutely beautiful!”
“Thanks Dad.” I brush an imaginary piece of fluff off the shoulder of his three piece suit. “Thanks for everything.”
Bless him, he’s nearly bankrupted himself to pay for our wedding. At the last moment neither Mum nor Dad would allow anybody else to chip in with the cost of it all. This has helped our bank account no end, as we’re now only about fifteen thousand pounds off the thirty thousand needed to secure our first home. We’ve been working hard over the past few years, and now when the autumn term begins my new Reception class will need to get used to calling me Mrs Hughes instead of Miss West. It sounds strange even to me.
Meanwhile I’ll have three weeks to get used to my new moniker before school starts. I tread carefully down the stairs towards where the chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce is waiting. Mum, Linda and the other bridesmaids have already gone ahead to the church. Ben and I have our faces on the place settings for the wedding breakfast, and so there’s definitely no turning back now.
And here I am, as I have often pictured myself. I stand in sartorial splendor at the flower-bedecked altar with Ben’s adoring gaze making me blush in front of the congregation. There’s not a dry eye in the place by the sounds of sniffing and snorting coming from behind. The minister smiles at us, and I cannot wait to sit down; my legs have turned to jelly.
“In the presence of God, and before this congregation, Lauren and Ben have given their consent and made their marriage vows to each other. They have declared their marriage by the joining of hands and by the giving and receiving of rings. I therefore proclaim that they are husband and wife.”
We’ve finally done it! Ben plants a big smackeroo on my lips, and I heave a sigh of relief. The minister mumbles his congratulations too, and some of the congregation clap noisily. I relax a bit when Linda’s choir pipe up with a few songs as the new Mr and Mrs Hughes wobble off to the vestry with the nearest and dearest to sign the register.
I shoot my mother-in-law a grimace as she signs her name. We’re still saving frantically, and unfortunately will still have to return to Muriel and Geoff’s house following our honeymoon in Devon. After three years, Muriel and I rub each other up the wrong way, because there’s one too many women in the house. I want to reach up and grab the stupid fascinator off her head and stamp on it. It’s got to the point where I’d do anything to get the last few thousand and move into our own place and be free to do as we please, to make as much noise as we wish, and to eat dinner at a time of our own choosing. Ben says we’re lucky to have had the chance of living cheaply for three years. I suppose he’s right, but as far as I’m concerned I’d rather pay out even for a poky bedsit.
We walk arm-in-arm back up the aisle to another round of applause. Behind us Muriel and my father link arms and follow behind Geoff and Mum. I know Mum finds Muriel rather intimidating, but she seems to get on okay with Geoff. Dad is his usual taciturn self. Goodness knows what Muriel thinks of him.
Ben and I grin inanely for the photographer before being showered in a ton of confetti, some of which finds its way down my cleavage. Ben grins.
“I’ll pick it out later.”
I’ve made sure that our first night as a married couple is not going to be spent under Muriel and Geoff’s roof. As was our wish, our eighty wedding guests have all agreed to pay a little bit towards one night at the Oriental Mandarin Hotel in Knightsbridge for us instead of buying presents, and I know my in-laws generously made up the difference so I cannot complain too much. The room is hideously expensive (I’ve looked it up on Google), and so we’re determined to enjoy the privacy and make the most of it before driving off for a week’s stay in sunny Hayes, Cornwall.
We leave our guests dancing at the evening disco after we cut the cake. In the fluorescent glare of the hall’s toilets I twirl my new gold band around my finger before changing into a more suitable travelling outfit than a wedding dress. We run out to the car park shrieking like banshees and holding each other’s hands. I expect it’s Linda and the other bridesmaids who have tied a jumble of old tins to the back bumper of our Skoda. My sister holds up her long dress as she runs to catch up with us.
“See you soon, Lauren!”
Linda is panting slightly. I let go of Ben’s hand and give her a hug.
“Cheers for the cans, but I won’t be able to stand them rattling all the way to Knightsbridge. We’ll have to cut them off.”
“Shame!” She laughs. “After all the trouble I went to!”
The Skoda bursts into life and Ben backs out onto the road. I can see Mum and Dad waving goodbye on the steps of the community hall. I suddenly feel like crying, but I don’t know why.
The six foot bed is dressed and draped in sumptuous splendour. It’s a room to die for. I look around the opulent surroundings in wonder as Ben lifts me up and carries me over the threshold of room 492 at the Oriental Mandarin hotel.
“I read once that Jon Bon Jovi sometimes stays here when he has a UK concert.”
With some relief Ben lowers his burden onto the satin coverlet.
“Do you think he’s slept in this bed then?”
I shrug and hold my arms out to him, and he flops on top of me.
“Who cares? I always preferred Richie anyway.”
We kiss passionately and soon forget who may or may not have stayed in our room, because for the next 24 hours it belongs to just myself and Ben.
The Skoda just about makes the long drive to our hotel at Hayes the next day without overheating in nose to tail traffic on the A30. Ben’s parents have paid for a room for us in a rather nice 5 star hotel near the beach. However, there’s a change in the weather on the second day. We listen to the patter of raindrops against the window, and slip the ‘Do not disturb’ sign over the doorknob. It’s rather wonderful to stay in bed all morning and get to know each other better.
I’m ready for the ‘lack of suntan’ jokes from friends on our return to Eltham, but by and large everybody tactfully steers clear of asking us what we’ve been doing on our honeymoon.
It’s a little over a week until the start of a new school term. I pop into the Nationwide to check how much interest has been paid on our savings. It’s not much, and we’re still fifteen thousand pounds short of putting a deposit on a property around the three hundred thousand mark.
Back at Muriel and Geoff’s I fire up the computer in our bedroom to check out local evening vacancies that do not include shift work. The home page goes straight to MSN, and I give a tut of annoyance because Ben must have changed it again. An article catches my eye featuring a well-known actress, who extols the virtues of Bitcoins. I read on how she has made the quickest five thousand pounds ever, through buying and selling Bitcoins on the stock market. Below the actress’ grinning features in large print is a banner advertising brokers FinMoyle with the tempting words ‘Find Out More’.
I am intrigued. I figure that if a famous actress has endorsed a company, then it must be genuine. There’s an accompanying video, where more smiling celebrities rave about digital currency and how Brexit has devalued the pound so badly that the only way to make a profit is to invest in Bitcoins.
I am hooked. Our new flat materializes before my eyes. I click on the ‘Find Out More’ button and add my email address. Within a short time an email notification pops up at the bottom of my screen. I have an email from a John Lenz at FinMoyle asking for my phone number. Virtually as soon as I type in my mobile phone details it starts to ring with an unidentified London number.
“Hi. Is that Lauren? This is Paul Cash from FinMoyle.”
The voice is deep and raspy and I’m unable to identify his accent.
“Yes.” I reply. “You have the right surname then.”
There is a throaty laugh at the other end of the line.
“Yeah, I have to agree with you. So… tell me a little bit about yourself and why you’re interested in FinMoyle. Where did you find us, by the way?”
He seems friendly, and I open up a bit.
“I saw the advert on MSN, where Kath Willet talks about the profit she’s made by buying Bitcoins.”
“Ah yes.” Paul replies. “A nice little nest egg for her. So you want to do the same?”
There’s a noise in the background that I cannot identify. I can only describe it as the sound of a stuck stylus in the groove of on an old vinyl record that my grandmother used to play.
“Yes.” I agree, as pound signs flash before my eyes. “My husband and I want to move out of his parents’ house and buy our own place. We’ve been saving up for a mortgage deposit, but it’s not enough yet.”
“Ah. I see.” Paul clears his throat before continuing. “It’s a bit noisy here in the trading room. I’m going to walk to my office, so bear with me.”
There is a pause, and the background din disappears.
“That’s better. So Lauren… you live with your in-laws?”
“That’s right.” I sigh. “I can’t wait to move out.”
“But it’s given you time to save up… no?”
“Well, yeah, I suppose so.” I reply. “But we need another fifteen thousand at least.”
“Well, by investing in Bitcoins you can’t go wrong.” Paul answers. “But I have to warn all my clients that stock market prices can go down as well as up, but on the whole Bitcoins are a good investment.”
“Then I’d like to buy some.”
My voice is breathy with excitement. Ben will be home from his casual job at Eltham Baths soon. I don’t want him to know anything until I present him with at least a ten thousand pound windfall. Paul interrupts my thoughts, and I want to find out more about him.
“I cannot place your accent.” I venture.
“I’m American, can’t you tell?” Paul replies easily. “I was born in Chicago, but am now based in London. Just to inform you, if you would like me to manage your account I do take six percent of your profits. However, you can run your trading account yourself if you have the knowledge?”
Shares, hedge funds and stock markets are way beyond me. I quickly respond to his question.
“Oh no, I have no idea about stocks and shares. I’m a primary school teacher. I would have to let you manage my account.”
“A teacher?” Paul sounds impressed. “Little ones or big ones?”
“Ha, just primary school children.” I chuckle. “Wyefield Primary is a great school not too far from where I live. So you’ll be able to manage my account then?”
“That’ll be fine.” Paul’s voice is authoritative and somehow soothing. “My assistant will be in touch quite soon with a link to your new trading account. We will take it from there. When is a good time to speak to you? During the day? Evenings?”
My mind races. Ben is usually home later than myself on a school day, as he likes to prepare the next day’s lesson before he leaves. I tend to make my plans at the end of the day.
“Between four and five o’clock on weekday afternoons.” I reply. “School begins on Monday, so please don’t phone until then. I want to present my husband with a fat cheque as a surprise.”
There’s another throaty laugh.
“Okay. On Monday afternoon I’ll phone you, and go through your trading account. There’s a lot to take in at first, but after a few months it’ll become clearer.”
“I hope so. Thanks for your call. Speak to you on Monday.”
When the call ends I sit back in the chair and slowly exhale. I’m tingling with the excitement of finally being able to go flat-hunting. Houses are still out of our price range of course, so it’ll be a case of upsizing in a few years’ time when our flat has made enough profit. I hug myself and grin; Ben is going to be so pleased with his new wife’s shrewd investments!
On the dot of four o’clock the following Monday afternoon, my mobile phone rings. I’m tired after the first day back, and am lazing on our bed when I see Paul’s number flashing on my display screen. Ben is still at Corelli College, Muriel is gardening, and Geoff is out doing whatever Geoff does. I pick up the phone.
“Hey Lauren!” Paul’s voice is upbeat. “Did you have a good weekend?”
There’s that stuck stylus noise in the background again. I suddenly remember how my grandmother used to put a ten pence piece on top of it before she came around to accepting CD players.
“Great thanks. Did you?”
“You’re the first customer that’s ever bothered to ask me that.” Paul replies with a chuckle. “The answer is yes, fine thank you, and if you check your email account you’ll see that my assistant Lance Jackson has sent you a link so that you can open your trading account.”
“Okay. Just let me switch on the computer.”
I feel a pang of excitement shoot through my veins as I log in and open up my emails. Sure enough the latest message is from Lance@FinMoyle, who has sent a link to my new trading account, a user number, and a Managed Account Agreement. I quickly scan the agreement while my heart thumps with excitement:
(Name of Account Holder) _Lauren Hughes
Below are the Terms and Conditions as well as Profit/Risk scale that we offer as part of a Managed trading account:
- Trading period under the managed account will last a minimum of 4 calendar months.
- The client can withdraw up to ten percent from the account value as long as there are no open trades. (This is valid during the first four months and does not include profit withdraws)
- Profit fee of 6% of the Profit made Monthly.
- Trading will be done only by the Assigned Account Manager.
- Profit withdraws will be issued once in every calendar month, on a date predetermined by the Client and the Account Manager.
- Every trade is part of a group and cannot be closed before due time.
- In order to claim profit, the client must have all required documents approved and account fully verified.
- The leverage of trading will be up to 1:400 (please specify between 1:25 – 1:400) on the clients deposited amount.
- The maximum risk in trading can be up to the actual deposited amount. The account will be protected by the company from negative balance.
Disclaimer: HIGH RISK WARNING: Trading Foreign Exchange (Forex) and Contracts For Differences (CFD’s) is highly speculative, carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. You may sustain a loss of some or all of your invested capital, therefore, you should not speculate with capital that you cannot afford to lose. You should be aware of all the risks associated with trading on margin.
The client gives approval and consent to his account manager to open 25 (please specify an amount of trades between 10-25) positions on his behalf on a daily basis. According to different opportunities in the market.
- The client gives authorization and consent to his account manager to open positions on his behalf, with volume trade of 10 (please specify volume range between 0.25 – 100.00 LOT).
- The client authorizes his account manager to open positions for the following CFD’s assets on his behalf: (Please specify Y/N)
FOREX _y____ Crypto__y___ Commodities___y__ Stocks___y__ Indices__y___
Please confirm that you have understood and agree to these conditions and understand the trading risks involved by replying to the Email that this file has been attached to.
This agreement is subject to the terms and conditions as it appears on the website FinMoyle.com
I don’t understand some of the technical jargon, but I am reassured when reading that my account will be protected from a negative balance.
Paul’s voice shoots me back to the present.
“Oh, yes. I was just reading the agreement.”
“Sure. If you could sign that at the bottom and send it back to me at your leisure, then that’ll be great. For now, just click on the link and open up your new trading account.”
“Okay. Will do.”
The click leads me to a totally unfamiliar dashboard that I assume would only be recognised by a stock broker. To me it might just as well be written in Chinese.
“I don’t understand it at all.”
“That’s why you’ve asked me to manage it for you? No?”
“Yes, of course.” I reply. “But I’d like to know how you buy and sell on the stock market though.”
“I can show you, but I’d need to take over your screen. It’s easy to do via Any Desk. Would you like to go ahead? You might even be able to do it yourself after a few months.”
His voice is pleasant, but I still cannot place the accent. Stocks and shares and numbers blink in front of my eyes. I was only ever any good with words.
“Yes, okay, do go ahead.”
Paul continues as I stare at the screen.
“Search for Any Desk, click on ‘free download for personal use’ and then download it. You’ll then be given an Any Desk number. Let me know what it is.”
It’s easy enough to log into the site. Sure enough a number pops up after I have downloaded the Any Desk programme.
“It’s nine three six, one seven two.”
Before my eyes the cursor moves on its own. It minimises Any Desk and my desktop comes into view.
“You’ve got a busy desktop screen.”
I feel a slight twinge of annoyance that Paul is nosing about on my computer.
“Shouldn’t you be looking at my trading account instead?”
I am relieved when straight away he moves the cursor to click back onto the FinMoyle screen.
“Would you like me to talk you through it all?”
I can hear Muriel coming upstairs. The inner walls are not terribly thick.
“No. Leave it now. I’ll read the agreement properly and then send it back to you.”
“Great.” Paul’s voice sounds positive in my ear. “As soon as I receive it, then we can move forward and begin trading. Read it over tonight, and I’ll phone you tomorrow at the same time.”
There’s a knock on my bedroom door. I end the call and turn off the computer’s monitor.
My mother-in-law pops her head around the door.
“There’s chicken curry for dinner tonight at six o’clock.”
I’m not too keen on curry, and she knows it.
“I’ll grab a sandwich, thanks.”
I cannot wait to make a killing on the stock market and move out.