There has been a lot of talk the last few months about switching accounts from banks to utilities, insurances etc etc. But how easy is it and why don’t some people want to try to save some money? I decided to look into the different companies and see exactly what they do for us and is it really worth it to change everything.

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Martin Lewis the money man, get his email every week here.

So many offers and tips to save you some money, it does not cost you anything just a few minutes to read it every week and then start saving those pennies or I should say pounds!

BANKS

There are a lot of different deals from money put into your account to higher interest on your savings or vouchers with credit on them. How do you pick? Where do you find the deals? I receive an email from Martin the money man every week, here is the link if you would like to receive them. He gives a good run down about what each bank is offering so you pick the one that suits you best. I always go for the money, yes I have done this twice and I am looking for the next good one again. It’s easy cash to treat yourself with and after you have done it once you will see how easy it is. Yes, it’s really easy as apart from letting the new bank know that you would like to change to them you do not have to do anything! They move all your direct debits with the change over being so quick you do not even notice, you get your cards in the post, some even set you up a savings account as well. Everything carries on the same with a very smooth change over and you get a letter telling you it is all complete. What is there not to like about that and you could be up to £150 better off!

INSURANCE

Again the email from Martin gives you the one’s to search like money supermarket for example, you put your details in once and they then search all the companies for the best price. You can then read through them all and decide which you prefer. NEVER accept your renewal from the company you have been with the previous year as you will always get it cheaper else where. This applies to every type of insurance so make sure you have a good look around.

GAS and ELECTRIC

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I have no idea why people stay with the top 6 companies, I know good customer service is what you like but you really do not have to pay over £100 or more a year for that. The smaller companies give you the exact same fuel as nothing changes apart from where your bill comes from. Again I looked on Martin money mans email and I even joined his club for cheaper fuel here as then when I did change to a cheaper service he even paid me a nice little bit of cash as well. I have changed to Bulb and saved myself £180 a year, I was at the end of my contract with the previous company but if you are stuck in a contract Bulb will pay your exit fees, bonus and your saving money, whats not to like about that. The best bit is the fact that it is green renewable energy so we are doing our bit for the planet. They also do the warm home discount that you can apply for on some benefits. The last bit is the best, once you sign up if you refer a friend then you both get £50 each in your account so if you have a few friends you could probably end up not paying any bills for a good few months! I love it and if you want to get a quick £50 yourself in your account then sign up here for Bulb energy.

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BROADBAND

I do not know anyone that is paying the same amount to the same company, why? Because lots of people haggle especially with broadband and tv packages and to be honest the companies are bending over backwards to keep your custom. I have just changed my contract simm and got a much better deal through sky mobile and because I have sky broadband and the basic tv package they give you another discount, so easy. Look to see how much data you use than texts then minutes and then compare on Martin money mans email which deals he thinks are good and have a look. It never hurts to say that you cannot afford that much and most times they will alter it and make it lower for you. The best bit about sky mobile is that it rolls your data over so what you don’t use each month it carries over to the next so then when you have a load of data you can just lower your simm package and use all that, so saving more money, I think it can go down to about £8 a month. The other thing you can do is buy a second-hand phone from someone who has up-graded as that is far cheaper than a phone contract and you get good deals for just a simm contract.

WATER & SEWERAGE

Because here in Kent we only have the two companies there is no one to haggle with so we have to pay their rates but what you can do is get a water meter if there are just two of you or less in the house as you would not use the amount they charge you for as it is a set figure. If you have a house full of kids then don’t get a water meter until you have to!

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So you should have a few pounds in your pocket now towards a nice little break. Here’s to switching and saving money.

 

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Well here we are and its half way through the year already and almost the end of the school year. This week we have the longest day on Thursday 21st, it is really sad to think that after that the daylight hours gets shorter. I really hope we have a good summer while the children are on school holidays as we missed doing so many things last year and of course I need to get some camping done. I have a bit of a full week coming up with a haircut, my birthday, the monthly lunch with my friends and a cocktail evening after the lunch so I am praying for lovely weather so we can sit in the garden. The gardener is finishing off some bits for me Thursday morning so it should all look great and I have a few more fairy lights, you can never have too many lights! I have tried to get the garden a bit more self maturing and maintenance free also with a couple of small shrubs that will grow up so it gives it a bit of hight.

I had a couple of days away at my friend’s house last week so that made a nice relaxing change and the sun shone for us so we did a lot of sitting about doing nothing in the garden, well actually we did try the rhubarb gin, oh my god it is delicious and well worth the money as it is not cheap at £33 a bottle luckily she has a nice husband who bought it although I don’t think he expected us to like it lol.

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We also had a trip to Sittingbourne as there is a really nice plant shop there and it has great prices so we came home with a boot full. I got two Camelias for £10, some daisy’s and ground cover for £1 each a lovely pink geranium.

I have asked about my blog likes and we have done all we can to fix the problem, I am still not getting hardly any likes from WordPress viewers, perhaps they don’t like the new blog!

I have another author spotlight coming up with a free signed book for the winner of the best question so keep a look out for that.

Have a super week everyone

 

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I was really pleased when Julie said she would be the first author under my spotlight with Little Brown Books donating the brand new book for Julie to sign for our winner. The competition was very easy you just had to send in a question for Julie to answer and she picked the best one.

This was won by Sheila Harris and her question was: How long does it take her, in research, when preparing for a new book?

The amount of research that goes into one of my Whitstable Pearl Mysteries can be as long as that proverbial piece of string… and often it’s not until I’ve actually begun writing that I recognise how much research I actually need.

I tend to know a little, and then begin to research quite a lot. For example with the first book. The Whitstable Pearl Mystery, I knew a fair a bit about sailing as I’d disappeared off on a yacht for five years in the late mid ’80s but I knew very little about oyster fishing for my main storyline, so that required some talking to an oyster fisherman called Andy Ritches to whom I ended up dedicating the book.

Murder-on-Sea required research regarding various toxins and in May Day Murder, I realised half way through writing that I needed a further crime concerning a precious stone, so that all had to be researched too.

While writing my fourth book, Murder on the Pilgrims Way, which involves an Italian TV chef by the name of Nico Caruso, I threw myself into a lot of (enjoyable) research about Italian cuisine – and spent some many enjoyable evenings at a pizzeria called A Casa Mia in Herne Bay which has proper accreditation from the board of Neapolitan pizza makers.

My latest book, Disappearance at Oare, required for me to research various geographical locations, including Creekside boating areas as well as visiting Catching Lives, a Canterbury based charity that helps the homeless in Kent.

This question has led me to calculate that I probably spend at least a quarter of my writing time on research, since there’s always the issue of police and medical issues to research for every book. But research always acts as inspiration towards further plot points so it’s always worthwhile.

Congratulations on winning Karen’s competition!

Julie Wassmer

I also asked Julie to answer some of my own questions so we could all get to know her and work out how a murderers brain works!

SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS

When did you start writing?

I’ve always written, even as a very young child. I became fascinated by the whole process of storytelling after sitting enthralled, one rainy afternoon, listening to a little girl at my primary school as she narrated the tale of a girl called Ella, who had to clean the fire grate for her two ugly sisters…. As an only child, I probably had more time and peaceful periods at home in which I could lose myself in writing my own stories. Much later, I wrote short stories and articles for some women’s magazines as well as long poems for children’s magazines. But it wasn’t until I was working for a company making TV commercials that I was encouraged to write screenplays. The first one was accepted for production as a short black comedy by Channel 4 and British Screen, and I then got an agent and began writing TV drama.  In 2010, I wrote a memoir, published by Harper Collins, More Than Just Coincidence, which made it to the Sunday Times Best Selling Non Fiction Top Twenty and became Mumsnet Book of the Year. That gave me the confidence to finish my first Whitstable Pearl Mystery novel, published by Little, Brown Book Group.

How long does it take you to write the book?

I find it true that work expands to fill the time available and so I always find it hard to concentrate fully until a deadline finally looms…. Consequently, I’ve finished some of my novels in only eight weeks, but my first took at least a year, complete with lots of tinkering… Jeeves and Wooster author, PG Wodehouse, is said to have finished one of his novels in only 3 weeks – the entire project wrapped up in a couple of months – but what I find even more astonishing about that is that he wasn’t writing on a laptop back then – he was bashing words out on a typewriter. It’s so much easier for authors these days with all the technology available to us, particularly for research.

Do you write in quiet or with radio or music on?

I can never write with a song playing in the background or my mind begins to settle on the lyrics – even if it’s my husband whistling a familiar tune. I need silence in order to “hear” the words I’m writing – there’s a cadence and rhythm to every sentence and listening to any other kind of music in the background interferes with that. The best place for me to find some peace and quiet is at my beach hut – though seagulls can be quite noisy too….

Would anything make your writing easier?

I sometimes think that it would be nice to do what happens in TV whereby a producer comes up with an idea and hires one or more writers to bring it to life…I worked as a TV drama writer for over 20 years, principally on Eastenders and other long running series, and it would certainly be nice to have a team of gifted writers helping me to write The Whitstable Pearl Mysteries but that’s not the way it works with publishing – it’s all down to the author.

What bit do you like best, writing or marketing?

I love writing the books, I also love finishing writing a book and I do then thoroughly enjoy the period when a book is finally published and I can then stop being captive to the laptop and head out into the world again and mix with real people. This interview is currently taking place just a day after my launch event for my new book, Disappearance at Oare, which was held at the historic Guildhall in Faversham and organised by Faversham Literary Festival. BBC Radio Kent’s Dominic Kent was the presenter and it was a real pleasure to meet up with the many readers and bloggers who came along – including Karen herself. It can be a huge irony that the more successful a writer becomes, the more they are taken away from the best inspiration of all – real life…

Have you got ideas for the next book and when will it be published?

I have just been commissioned for the next two Whitstable Pearl Mysteries and I’m currently working on the next book, the sixth in series, Murder Fest. This should be published in May 2019, followed by Death on Duncan Downs the year after.

Do you know how long it will be before we see your books on the TV?

My Whitstable Pearl Mystery series of crime books have been optioned by Buccaneer, the television production company responsible for the series, Marcella, starring Anna Friel. They have commissioned a pilot episode from a writer who recently won a BAFTA for another project and while it’s not possible at the moment to gauge how soon the books could transfer to TV, I have always thought they could do so very successfully due to the wonderful locations here in Kent, a cast of colourful characters and a series of murder mysteries with an ongoing subplot of a “will they/won’t they” love affair between my heroine, private detective/restaurateur, Pearl Nolan and DCI Mike McGuire of Canterbury CID. In my mind’s eye I see “Doc Martin” with murder…..

What part of the book comes first to you, the murder or general plot?

It’s difficult to say what comes first to me with story. With some plotlines, it’s the “inciting incident” as we call it in TV drama, the action that sets our protagonist on a particular journey… With the  first Whitstable Pearl Mystery, I knew I wanted Pearl to become involved in solving the mystery of an oyster fisherman’s death on the eve of the annual Oyster Festival in Whitstable, so I returned to the image of someone having been dragged overboard and drowned after they accidentally stood in the  heavy coiled chain of an anchor before throwing it overboard…For May Day Murder, I saw the image of a woman’s dead body tethered to a maypole in the grounds of Whitstable Castle but for my latest book, Disappearance at Oare, I simply wanted Pearl to take on the case of searching for a young man who had gone missing seven years ago and was about to be presumed dead for legal reasons. I knew little else when I began writing so it was though I travelled on with Pearl throughout the book, picking up clues with my heroine…

Do you plot it out in chapters or just write?

…And as far as plotting goes, I do tend to fly by the seat of my pants and simply trust my experience as a storyteller to get me to the end page. I had to plot meticulously for producers and script editors during my TV career so now it’s nice to have some freedom to follow my instincts. The writer E L Doctorow likened writing to “…driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” That’s a good thing to remember when you’re halfway through an un-plotted book….

Do you ever go on writing retreats?

I don’t go on writing retreats though I was once nominated to go away to a residential screenwriting course in the late ‘80s, called the 1st Screenwriters’ Laboratory in the heart of the Devon countryside. There were about a dozen of us writers and we had to take with us a screenplay as work-in-progress, to be discussed by various tutors.  Those tutors included some very prestigious writers: the playwright, Snoo Wilson and screenwriters Paul Mayersberg and Kathleen Tynan (widow of critic, Kenneth Tynan.) A decade later, I tutored a Writing for TV course at the Arvon Foundation but, apart from my degree in English and History, I’ve had no formal training in writing. I just “retreat” to my garden or beach hut to get work done.

Have you found lots of different places in Kent due to your research?

Kent is an extremely rich landscape for a writer to use for locations. Here in Whitstable, I am close to the sea, but also to nearby countryside as well as the city of Canterbury. My first three Whitstable Pearl Mysteries were set firmly in Whitstable and Canterbury but my fourth, Murder on the Pilgrims Way, took Pearl and McGuire to the beautiful countryside of Chartham, to an Italianate country manor house on the banks of the River Stour. My latest book, Disappearance at Oare, is set around the Creekside areas near Faversham, Oare and Hollowshore but it also explores Herne Bay, Reculver, Seasalter and the Isle of Sheppey. I’m sure I could write hundreds more books set in this beautiful county before I ran out of locations…. If you are interested in some of the places Pearl has explored during her investigations, please do visit the Locations section of my website where you can find stunning images from the likes of Kent photographers Simon J Dunn and Kentish Dweller – as well as more information about my books: www.juliewassmer.com

Thank you very much indeed, Karen.

Julie x

So that was our first author spotlight, which I think went very well, we had one happy winner who is now reading all about The Disappearance at Oare.

If you have a favourite author then please let me know and I will see what I can do.

Now, who do we have for July’s author in the spotlight? Will tell you soon so you can start thinking of what you want to ask her.

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I loved this book from the first page, it was easy to get into and so nice to read and relax without trying to work out who killed who!  I loved all these characters but also the way they all seemed to learn from their mistakes and rectify them, shame that does not happen a bit more in real life.

I liked that we all found out a bit more about diabetes which I think is very handy as it is getting very common now, due I think to the lifestyle we lead. Alex also wrote about blood tests and hereditary which was very interesting and the really good part was that we were gaining a bit of knowledge without even realising it, that makes for a very talented author I feel.

Sam comes home from working away thinking that he will just fit back into family life but his wife Chrissie is not so sure and keeps him at arm’s length. Then Jude returns home to be close to family and her god-daughter. How will they all fit back together or has it been too long? Sam and Chrissie’s daughter is very impatient and tries to manipulate conditions for them to spend time together but it takes a near emergency before they all realise that life is to short and family is everything.

I will be looking out for some more of Alex’s books in the future as I really enjoyed this story.

I also have a signed copy ready for the winner of my author spotlight competition to be held in July, so if you have a question you would like to ask Alex then please let me know by a comment or email me at: karensworld.writer@yahoo.com   Alex will pick the best question to answer and that will be the winning one.

Happy reading x

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I need your help but it will only take a second of your time and I would really appreciate it as I am not sure where you are seeing my blog.

For some reason since I have had the new layout I do not get any likes from WordPress readers, is that because you are not seeing it? Or, I really hope it is not this, that you do not like the new blog or content? I think my content has been good as have written a mixture of posts so they appeal to many audiences. Can you still like a post on WordPress when you click on your email also can you then like it without being a WordPress user?

My likes on Facebook have gone down also but on Stumble upon they have gone up? I am just not sure what is going on so could you please like a post where ever you view it. Thank you very much x

 

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