shirivington_disruptionJessica Shirvington has a way with her female leading ladies. They’re strong and they stand on their own two feet. The character, Maggie Stevens, sets the bar just that little bit higher.

Everyone seems to be obsessed these days with those watch devices that tell you how many calories you’ve consumed or burnt off while taking however-many steps–and your heart rate etcetera.   What if they could also tell you who your perfect match was? The person you would live the most fulfilled and happy life with: your soul mate.

 Sounds great right? Yeah, not so much because, as an added extra, the company can also tell if you’re a security risk; they know where you are through GPS, and they can read your mood all through this little watch-like device that has now become compulsory.

Imagine the power that corporation now has over the populace!

Maggie is trying to find her father who was taken away by M-Corp because of a negative reading on his M-band. She’s willing to do anything, use anyone, and crush giants to get what she wants.  What will she do with the son of M-Corp’s head honcho? How far is she willing to go to keep her promise?

I felt more than a little unnerved by how close this fictional device is heading to the reality of today. With social media booming and the illusion of privacy becoming more of an issue, this book isn’t that much of a stretch.

Sometimes, I think Maggie goes a little too far, but she still feels the backlash of choices that weigh on her moral compass. I like her prickly relationship with Gus, her go-to guy. It all feels like a leg with pins and needles, but it’s worth the tingles to get to the great storytelling.

This is nothing like the Violet Eden Chapters, and yet it is equally as gripping and has almost double the action.

I read along with the Bolinda Audio book read by Hannah Norris, and it was almost impossible to hit pause and put the book down to go get work done.

The next book in the series, Corruption, is due out on October 20th. I have no doubt it is going to blow us away all over again.

Paperback, 400 pages

Published April 1st 2014 by HarperCollins (first published April 1st 2013)

ISBN 0732296285 (ISBN13: 9780732296285)


SONY DSCGoing on a job hunt part 3

The hardest thing I’m finding about being on the job hunt is the amount of time that seems to be passing me by and the imbalance between effort put in and the level of results.

Here are a few things I’ve been doing to try and put that balance back into… well, balance.

#1 Volunteering. At my first sign of being down and out about being unemployed, I sought out a way for me to gain perspective on life. has a volunteering section and though it may not be a paid position, you can still put it on your resume.

#2 Do a free online course. I signed up to the Write 101x course that everyone’s been buzzing about. I want to improve myself, and employers are big on correct grammar and spelling. It keeps my brain active, makes me accountable on time management with assessments and such, and it keeps me being social. It’s a winner on all counts.

#3 Watch inspirational clips on youtube. Now I’m sure I’ve thrown a few cute cat videos into the mix here, but what I’m aiming for is to give my mind something positive to gnaw on. Watch something with a useful takeaway message. Something like Amy Cuddy’s Ted talk about how your body language shapes who you are.

#4 Be sure to get up and get moving every day. Treat the job hunt like a job in itself. Get out of bed at a time when you would for the jobs you’re applying for. Shower, dress, teeth and hair etc, before sitting down for another period of time spent applying for jobs. This will not only get you in the right mindset, but help with keeping your complexion clear.

#5 Get sleep. You may be tempted to stay up until all hours of the night simply because you can, but it’s not going to do you any favours in the long run. Sleep deprivation changes your brain’s chemistry and it can make it really difficult to stay positive. Go to bed at a sensible time and endeavour to make 8 hours every night. That way you’ll be fresh faced and ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Read part one and two of Belinda’s job hunt.

I don’t have the recipe for this, but I had to share it with you anyway. It’s similar to Mandy’s famous chocolate box cake and was made for my friend Debbie’s daughter’s 21st b’day. I didn’t get to try it because it wasn’t gluten free but it looked amazing!


amy's 2

SONY DSC#6 Clothes maketh the man, or woman. Dress like you want the job, especially if you’re applying in person, or if you’re lucky enough to get an interview. First impressions last.

The easiest thing for women is a LBD (Little black dress) Keep the length of the skirt professional (near the knee) and add a black jacket to make the look more corporate. Minimal jewellery and natural make up. Use deodorant but not perfume.

Guys, you cannot go wrong with a nice pair of black or dark grey chinos, a freshly washed and ironed white or light blue collared shirt, and if you’re looking for a corporate job, add a matching jacket and tie.

Polished black shoes and an analogue watch work for both men and women.

*If you’re worried about being overdressed you can call ahead and ask what attire is appropriate for an interview.*

#7 A new thing I’d never heard of, but we’ll see if it makes a difference, is to undergo your own police check. They cost a bit, but if you can prove you’re employable, and save your next employer some money by doing the check yourself, it may have you head and shoulders above the other applicants. 

#8 Speaking of head and shoulders, haircuts, and manicures. Maybe not with nail polish for the guys but most of you could do with a shape and trim regardless. Girls stick to a French polish. Haircuts should be neat, tidy and professional looking. Guys keep the facial hair… you guessed it, neat and tidy.

#9 Be available, especially for retail positions. They want to know they can rely on you to turn up to work on time and not be fussy about the rostering process. Admittedly, this becomes complicated when trying to fit in school or university, but make an effort to be as flexible as you possibly can. Oh and don’t go planning six month tours of far off places if you’re seriously wanting a job. Employers aren’t likely to hire you if you’re going to be flitting off after a fortnight.

#10 Be their next employee. I’ve had the most response in my job search by solving a problem the company was experiencing and letting them know how to work around it. Sure, it’s a risk that by helping them someone else may take the job, but by using my initiative and all the tips above, as well as being a team player, who knows what could happen.

Cross fingers for me everyone. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Police check website (there are many others, and some cheaper, this is the one I used) 

How to tie a Windsor knot

How to polish your shoes




The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Resume 5th Edition

Kindle Edition, 304 pages

Published January 5th 2010 by Alpha



No-Nonsense Cover Letters

Published December 6th 2009 by Career Press, Incorporated

ISBN1601638167 (ISBN13: 9781601638168)



bec2012_TNBec Stafford interviews Garth Nix about Clariel for the Escape Club.


Garth 2014Set approximately 600 years before the birth of Sabriel, Clariel is the highly anticipated prequel to the first book of your Old Kingdom trilogy. What’s it like writing a prequel, and what have been some of your favourites from literary history?

A prequel often gives you more freedom than a sequel, particularly if you set it far enough back that any difference in the world or setting can be explained by the passage of time. An interesting thing for me was having to go back and re-read my earlier novels and notes, and I discovered I had forgotten a great deal, but I had also set up things I needed without ever knowing that I would. The mystery of the writing subconscious . . .

As for favourite prequels, the only one I can immediately think of is The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, which in a personal ordering of the Narnia novels would be near the top. Apart from that, few spring to mind!

Clariel explores both sorcery and magic. Can you tell us a bit about Clariel’s hidden powers? And have those themes always intrigued you?

The Old Kingdom books are in general heavily about Charter magic, ordered and structured magic cast by visualising and drawing upon symbols that define and describe the universe; and Free magic, a raw sorcery that is directed by will alone. In CLARIEL, I have gone more into the nature of Free Magic and Free Magic entities, exploring this aspect of the world in greater detail. I have always been interested in myth, legend, belief and superstition; all those things are basic building blocks for a fantasy writer to develop magic. I guess I have always been interested in the use, misuse, and cost of power in general, magic being a subset of this.

Nix_ClarielYou’re heading off on a long book tour of the U.S and U.K this month. What do you like most about book tours, and can you share some funny and/or interesting anecdotes from your past experiences?

The best parts are the events themselves, visiting bookshops, meeting the staff, meeting readers. Even after all this time I still find it kind of amazing that real people read my books! What’s not to like about talking about books (not necessarily my own) with other booklovers?

The worst parts are the travelling. I’d love to be able to open a door at the back of one bookshop and step out in front of the next bookshop halfway across the world. Like all authors who have been in the business a long time, I have done my share of mortifying book events, where there are few people, the books aren’t there or other things go wrong.

And then there are the travel complications, like arriving at midnight in a snowstorm to be told by the hotel clerk that “We have your reservations, which were and are confirmed, but we have no rooms.” I left the publicist to sort out that metaphysical conundrum and fell asleep in the lobby. Eventually, a half-painted room with the painter’s ladder still in there was found. By that stage I didn’t care!

You’ve answered this question before, but we wonder if it’s changed: Which of your fictional characters Burns Brightest in your mind and why?

The character that is burning brightest right at this moment is Lady Godiva because I am finishing an overdue story for the anthology CRANKY LADIES OF HISTORY where she is the main character, and I have only left writing that to answer these questions and in a few minutes I will go back. Of course, she is not exactly the character from the well-known legend . . .

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