Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Mary Pat Hyland: There’s Always Another Goal To Set

Today I'm welcoming Mary Pat Hyland as guest blogger. Make sure you check out her giveaway below this post...


I embrace the concept of writing down your goals, and believe that the action of doing so fixes within your subconscious an importance to the items listed. Even though you may have forgotten them, your subconscious prods them to the surface of your mind as a gentle reminder once and a while.

For the past three decades I’ve made the commitment to spend quiet time on the last day of every year to reflect upon what was achieved and list my goals for the New Year. I would wager that some sort of writing goal has made every one of those lists.

With the publication of my seventh book—my first collection of short stories; the others are novels—I’ve been thinking about my goals over those years and how many of them have been reached. I can check these ones off:
  • Published my first novel.
  • Someone I didn’t know purchased it.
  • Got a five-star review from someone I didn’t know.
  • Sold a book in a foreign country.
  • Published another novel. (Repeated four more times.)
  • Got interviewed on radio, TV, and the newspaper.
  • Reached No. 1 bestseller in a category (oddly enough it was for 3/17, my St. Patrick’s Day parody of Dante’s Inferno and the country was France).
It’s amazing to see what has been accomplished since 2008, my first full year of being an author. Can I rest on my laurels? No way! There are so many more goals to be met.

The next list of will be tougher to crack—a lot tougher. Someday I hope to…. Strike that! Someday I will reach at least one of these goals:
  • Sell enough books so writing will be my lone profession.
  • Make it onto a book recommendation list. Are you reading this, Oprah?
  • Make it onto one of THE bestseller lists.
  • Have one of my works translated into either a movie or TV show/webisode.
How do I get from here to there? Probably the same way I ran my first 5K race. Every day just put one foot after the other—er, just write one word after the other, and keep repeating and repeating.

This is my sixth year competing in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It most certainly will need massive editing when I’m done. But when the goal is achieved I will have completed the main gist of a basic novel in an extremely short period of time. In the past five years I’ve succeeded three times in reaching the goal. Trust me, it’s tough!

This year, I’m sure to make it. By the eighth day of the month I had already passed the halfway point. How was that possible? I think it’s because at this stage in my writing career I’m truly in the groove, committed to writing as a daily habit. A writer is not unlike an athlete; the more you keep “in shape” by writing every day, the easier the words will flow.

Goals such as NaNoWriMo keep you focused. Sometimes authors drift with their imagination, and reeling that back in can be like herding cats. So if you want to become an author, I strongly suggest making a list of goals for yourself and sticking to them. What makes achieving them easier is to make them in three categories: easily attainable, ones that will require an extra oomph of effort, and finally the dream big/reach for the stars ones.

May you reach every important goal you set!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

MARY PAT HYLAND is the author of six Amazon Top 100 bestselling novels, all set in Upstate New York: The House With the Wraparound Porch (a family saga), The Terminal Diner (suspense), 3/17 (parody) and the Maeve Kenny Series comprising three books: The Cyber Miracles, A Sudden Gift of Fate and A Wisdom of Owls (humor, chick lit). Mary Pat enjoys gourmet cooking, gardening, teaching the Irish language and exploring the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

LATEST RELEASE: In the Shadows of the Onion Domes, collected short stories set.


DESCRIPTION: By the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers in New York's Southern Tier lies a verdant valley called the Triple Cities. The shoe factories that originally drew thousands of immigrants from across Europe have long moved on. What remains are the distinct ethnic flavors of a gritty community determined to overcome economic woes, adapt to the rapid changes in society and find true meaning in life. Consider these stories as pages ripped from a sketchbook. Some are quick studies; others are more detailed portraits inspired by observed characters, whispered gossip, overheard conversations and the local lore of the residents whose neighborhoods are framed by the gilded Orthodox Church domes that span this valley. You'll find that each tale has its own tone: some are humorous or poignant, others are surprising and haunting.

Available in paperback worldwide through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other major retail outlets and in ebook through Amazon Kindle.

ISBN-10: 1502358646
ISBN-13: 978-1502358646
ASIN: B00OP8PKD0

For more information, visit the author’s links:

Website http://marypathyland.com
Blog: http://www.marypathyland.com/thehylander/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1282032.Mary_Pat_Hyland
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/marypathyland

GIVEAWAY
Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway contest to win an autographed copy of In the Shadows of the Onion Domes, copies of her ebooks or a piece of original art created by the author.

In the Shadows of the Onion Domes Rafflecopter giveaway

Join me at The Hylander

I'm taking part in a blog swap today. You can read my post: If you could change your world... at http://www.marypathyland.com/thehylander/2014/11/25/guest-post-author-mark-smith/

Look forward to meeting you there!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

My 100 Goals on the Radio

 I love listening to radio. In keeping with My 100 Goals, my tastes are quite eclectic. My first memories are of Radio 2 where I received a mix of songs from the Beatles to the Beach Boys, Marley to Motown.

I went through a Radio 1 phase but actually ended up preferring the greater mix of artists and decades that Radio 2 provided.

For several years I only listened to Radio 4. The Today programme through Women's Hour to The Archers with Old Harry's Game to round off the evening.

There have been many independent stations that I've enjoyed and currently one of my locals is Revival FM.

I've now been interviewed by Julien Crispin on Revival FM three times since Summer 2014. Being on radio was never on my list of 100 goals but for any author trying to market their books it's a wonderful opportunity. If you're trying to market a book or product or service, give your local station a call. See if you can find an angle that they'd find of interest to the local community and they might just invite you on.

Revival FM have kindly given me the recordings of the three shows so if you'd like to hear me on the radio, click on the links below:

The Great Scottish Land Grab - Interview by Jules Crispin on Revival FM 15 August 2014.

Scottish Independence Debate - Referendum Debate between Mark Smith for Yes and Gordon Anderson for No from 16 September 2014.

100 Crazy Ideas to Fix The Economy - Interview on Revival FM's Drivetime show with Julien Crispin.


Friday, 21 November 2014

Crazy Idea 13 - Don’t allow Parliament to destroy MPs expenses claims

If we want to fix the economy we have to deal with corruption, stop abuse of expenses and be willing to learn from past mistakes.

It’s impossible to do this if our Parliament destroys potential evidence.

According to The Telegraph on the 2nd Nov 2014: “MPs accused of abusing the unreformed expenses system will escape official investigation after the House of Commons authorities destroyed all record of their claims” (CI013A)

That our Government and Civil Service have conspired to destroy evidence of MPs abusing the expenses system makes a mockery of Parliamentary transparency. It does not matter if the majority of MPs were honest and above board, we will never now know... All MPs are now tainted by the fact their expenses claims and all evidence relating to those have been destroyed in a process that calls all of Parliament into disrepute.

A quick search of the Parliament website reveals a wealth of disturbing trends. MPs accused of abusing their position and the expenses system are documented defending their position by relying on the House of Commons Authorised Records Disposal Practice.

I picked a random complaint against an MP as recorded by Parliament. (CI013B) Look at the wording of paragraph 54:

‘54. The Director-General for Human Resources and Change responded to me on 21 February.[69] He said that the arrangements which were under scrutiny had begun in 2001-02, when [The MP] entered into arrangements with others for the purpose of acquiring a church hall to serve both as a constituency office for himself and as offices for the local Liberal Democrat party. The Director-General noted that at about the same time, the then Head of the Fees Office had issued new guidance which "affected" the arrangements that were being set up. He told me that the transactional records and most of the correspondence relating to the period between 2002 and 2004 had "properly been destroyed under the House's Authorised Records Disposal Practice", and in his view the few records that remained in this instance might support more than one explanation. The Director-General said: "I must therefore express extreme caution about drawing inferences from this period."’

The records had been “properly destroyed.” The law protecting MPs is completely different from laws protecting you and me. If you and I destroy evidence that the authorities deem relevant we can and will be prosecuted for that destruction. Even if the evidence would have proved us innocent. But there is a different law for MPs. We are not allowed to draw inferences about the past because all the relevant evidence has been properly destroyed. Whether this MP is innocent or guilty we are not allowed to know, not allowed to investigate, not allowed to judge or draw any inference.

Think this is an isolated incident? Try searching yourself with the phrase: Authorised Records Disposal Practice http://www.parliament.uk/search/results/?q=Authorised+Records+Disposal+Practice

The Director-General is correct that we should not presume to judge when the evidence is not all available. However, the evidence should never have been destroyed in the first place.

How can the British public have any confidence in a government that publically and openly covers up any disgraceful abuses by its MPs?

Our Government regularly criticises second and third world regimes for their corruption while deliberately practising a despicable cover up themselves.

If we want to fix the UK economy, we should start with the organization responsible for running the country: Parliament.

Is it a crazy idea for us to demand that the Authorised Records Disposal Practice should be terminated or at the least changed to ensure all records of MPs expenses are kept for the life of an MP plus say... thirty years?

On Monday I'm taking a day off but will be swapping blogs with Mary Pat Hyland's blog on Tuesday. You can read her post here: There's always another goal... While I'll be at The Hylander Posting: If you could change your world: http://www.marypathyland.com/thehylander/ [Edited 24 Nov]

On Wednesday I'm taking part in the Stupid Movie blog tour and normal craziness will resume on Thursday...


Do post your own crazy ideas or feedback on mine in the comments below and sign up to my mailing list below to be notified of future posts.

Why should my crazy ideas have any relevance to the economy? I'm the author of The Great Scottish Land Grab, a novel that imagines a fairer future for Scotland where the poor are empowered to change their destiny. I'm director of my own limited company: Goal 31 Ltd and I've over seven years experience working for government and financial organisations. Also, just like you, I'm a taxpayer and for some crazy reason I think that entitles us to have an opinion and for that opinion to be acted on by the government.

As I wrote at the start, I am making my 100 crazy ideas freely available. It seems unjust to propose ideas to fix the economy and then prevent people from freely reading those ideas. 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy will be published once the craziness is complete.

I can be found on Twitter: @my100goals or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals. There's a short bio here.


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References

(CI013A; The Telegraph; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/11204405/MPs-to-escape-expenses-investigations-after-paperwork-destroyed-by-Parliament.html)

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Crazy Idea 12 - Let’s get everyone auditing and analysing Government finance looking for ways to save money

It’s not enough to generate more revenue. We also need to cut out waste.

But how can we trust government to do this when they have such a high incentive to keep wasting? Both MPs and civil servants have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

The Office of National Statistics likes to break populations down into quintiles: five bandings. Looking at the latest sets of figures available, the average incomes for each banding breaks down as follows (CI012A):

Up to the fourth quintile, no-one earns on average more than £40,000 a year. The income for the lower quintiles is so low that even the highest earners cannot take the average income for the whole of the UK above £32,108.

Every MP earns more than 80% of the population. In fact, even on the basic MP salary of £67,060 (CI012B), they are earning on average over 73% more than those of us stuck in the first four quintiles.

Not all civil servants earn a high salary but the ones who make the decisions do. Minimum pay for a Grade 5 Assistant Secretary is £65,422. Salary bandings for the Head of Civil Service goes all the way up to £178,709. (CI012C)

Think about that for a minute, both senior civil servants and MPs – both sets of people that theoretically are there to serve our interests – have a vested interest in maintaining their high salaries...

They also have a vested interest in insuring that any corporations they are invested in or affiliated with or even – and yes I struggle to believe this – are employed by, receive favourable terms from any new legislation that is passed. If you find it hard to believe your public servants make a healthy income from second jobs, consultancies etc. etc. why not have a scan through the House of Commons Register of Members’ Financial Interests. (CI012D)

Or, if you just want the headlines, check out these articles from the Daily Mail (CI012E) and The Guardian. (CI012F)

How are people who have so much to lose supposed to fight against the greed that is common to all people?

Never ask someone to audit themselves. It doesn’t work. Sure, there are plenty of people out there who are honest (fortunately, or our economy would have utterly collapsed years ago) but most of us have levels of honesty. When you are faced with the choice of shouting out that you are overpaid or keeping quiet, how many of us will take the pay cut?

There’s a reason that independent auditors are called in but since many of the main auditors are themselves vested in an economy that allows them to make large profits, how can we trust them to thoroughly audit what the government and its many tentacles spend?

My crazy idea is essentially simple, open it all up. All of it. Even the supposedly ultra secret services. Publish all public finances online. Each month. Allow every single person in the UK unfettered access to what is spent and what it is spent on.

Sure, I can accept that we might not want to name the names of MI5 or MI6 agents when we publish their salary and employers national insurance contributions but we can learn a lot by publishing the number of people employed in a salary banding and the total amount paid.

How much is spent on IT equipment by all government departments? Software (and I’m not talking about that expenses claim by a police quango for lingerie)? (CI012G) How about on building costs or cleaning services? As Julius Levinson asked in Independence Day: “You don't actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?” (CI012H)

Office chairs, wallpaper, entertaining... I’m sure you could help add a few thousand items to the list. We need to fill in the black holes in government accounting.

According to The Guardian, the government are spending several million trying to get you to vote Conservative in 2015 by sending out a leaflet to every home that confuses the reality of what is spent. You will be told that our welfare bill is huge. That it needs to be cut and the Conservatives are the ones to do it. (CI012I)

What they hide in this disingenuous statement is that the bulk of welfare is made up by pensions. As our cruel liberal government seeks to crush the life blood from the poorest in society they fail to mention that the reason welfare is so high is that people are living longer and our pension system was not designed to cope with it.

I do not believe we can trust our government. I take a step back – that’s a seriously scary statement. We the people cannot trust our government...

Or is it? Why should we trust them? Government is only people, like you and me. Why should any of us trust each other? We are wary of strangers until they’ve proved themselves. If a stranger becomes known and is proved untrustworthy then we don’t leave them alone with what we hold most precious.

I don’t trust the Conservatives. Nor Labour. Nor the Liberals. Not the SNP. Not even the Green Party. It is way past time for us to refuse to accept government has the right to hide from our scrutiny. It is time for us to fully audit all they do and for us to then say what should change and what should continue.

With millions of us checking the accounts, surely we can find some cost savings that could help us balance the books... Or is this just another crazy idea?


Do post your own crazy ideas or feedback on mine in the comments below and sign up to my mailing list below to be notified of future posts.

Why should my crazy ideas have any relevance to the economy? I'm the author of The Great Scottish Land Grab, a novel that imagines a fairer future for Scotland where the poor are empowered to change their destiny. I'm director of my own limited company: Goal 31 Ltd and I've over seven years experience working for government and financial organisations. Also, just like you, I'm a taxpayer and for some crazy reason I think that entitles us to have an opinion and for that opinion to be acted on by the government.

As I wrote at the start, I am making my 100 crazy ideas freely available. It seems unjust to propose ideas to fix the economy and then prevent people from freely reading those ideas. 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy will be published once the craziness is complete.

I can be found on Twitter: @my100goals or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals. There's a short bio here.


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References

(CI012A; ONS; 15/11/2014; http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/household-income/the-effects-of-taxes-and-benefits-on-household-income/2012-13/data--the-effects-of-taxes-and-benefits-on-household-income--2012-2013.xls)

(CI012B; Parliament; http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/pay-mps/)

(CI012C; Department of Finance & Personnel; http://www.dfpni.gov.uk/pay)

 (CI012D; Parliament; http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem.htm)

(CI012E; Daily Mail; 5 April 2014; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2597484/Labour-plans-ban-MPs-second-jobs-double-salaries.html)

(CI012F; The Guardian; 27 May 2013; http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/may/27/mps-jobs-interests-full-list-data)

(CI012G; Daily Mail; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2023578/Police-quango-expenses-Fury-6-5m-lingerie-beehives-away-days-expense.html)

(CI012H; IMDB; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116629/quotes?item=qt1534129)

(CI012I; The Guardian; 3 November 2014; http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/03/tory-tax-statement-welfare-budget-unemployment-pensions-cuts)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Crazy Idea 11 - Get everyone to actively propose ways the Government could raise revenue


There are several assumptions behind this crazy idea.

That we actually trust the government to wisely use any extra revenue we raise to help ALL people, not just the ultra rich. I don’t trust the government one iota. But I’ve a few crazy ideas scheduled that could resolve that...

Also that we are happy with the amount of money the government currently spends. I’m not. I would vote for less war, less money spent on funding conflict and nuclear defence. I’m not totally against Trident but I get the view that spending billions on missiles that can kill hundreds of thousands of people is not something we probably need.

If Russia or that other evil superpower – the USA – was to declare war on us, then our paltry collection of submarines would do us a fat lot of good. See that smear on the map? That used to be the UK...

But war and defence are only two ways the government currently wastes the revenue they force us to pay them. MPs expenses, MPs salaries... I’m getting ahead of myself.

I would revolutionise how government spends our money. If my crazy ideas were implemented, if the poor were enabled to work and earn a good wage, if people had more power than big business then I wouldn’t object to the current high level of taxation we have.

So, what would it take for you to be happy paying tax?

And if you were happy with allowing the government to spend our money on our behalf, could you think of any ways to generate enough money that our country wasn’t in debt, that we could actually balance our books?

If everyone in the country was involved in the debate, even if for a couple of hours a week we were all sharing and discussing ideas instead of spending all our time watching I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here or Formula One or Football or Game of Thrones... (replace with your favourite timewaster...) then could we collectively produce some solutions that would work?

Just thinking aloud here. What do you think?


Do post your own crazy ideas or feedback on mine in the comments below and sign up to my mailing list below to be notified of future posts.

Why should my crazy ideas have any relevance to the economy? I'm the author of The Great Scottish Land Grab, a novel that imagines a fairer future for Scotland where the poor are empowered to change their destiny. I'm director of my own limited company: Goal 31 Ltd and I've over seven years experience working for government and financial organisations. Also, just like you, I'm a taxpayer and for some crazy reason I think that entitles us to have an opinion and for that opinion to be acted on by the government.

As I wrote at the start, I am making my 100 crazy ideas freely available. It seems unjust to propose ideas to fix the economy and then prevent people from freely reading those ideas. 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy will be published once the craziness is complete.

I can be found on Twitter: @my100goals or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals. There's a short bio here.


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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Crazy Idea 10 - What if we had ten million out picking up litter every week?

I’ve mentioned this previously but it deserves a crazy idea of its own. We’ve grown government and councils to the point we can’t afford to pay for all the services they provide.

Do you want to pay more Income Tax?

Do you want your Council Tax to go up?

No, of course not! But why should we pay the council or government to do things we’re perfectly capable of doing ourselves.

For a single hour per person every week, we could transform our neighbourhoods and communities. If we picked up litter that we passed instead of complaining about it, our streets and parks would be kept clean.

Cost to you and I? Zero.

But litter picking is small scale, we could really ramp up these crazy ideas...


Do post your own crazy ideas or feedback on mine in the comments below and sign up to my mailing list below to be notified of future posts.

Why should my crazy ideas have any relevance to the economy? I'm the author of The Great Scottish Land Grab, a novel that imagines a fairer future for Scotland where the poor are empowered to change their destiny. I'm director of my own limited company: Goal 31 Ltd and I've over seven years experience working for government and financial organisations. Also, just like you, I'm a taxpayer and for some crazy reason I think that entitles us to have an opinion and for that opinion to be acted on by the government.

As I wrote at the start, I am making my 100 crazy ideas freely available. It seems unjust to propose ideas to fix the economy and then prevent people from freely reading those ideas. 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy will be published once the craziness is complete.

I can be found on Twitter: @my100goals or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals. There's a short bio here.


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